The R. Kelly Charges Explained

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

Dubbed the “King of R&B,” R. Kelly is celebrated as one the greatest R&B singers of all time. However, Kelly’s career has been filled with rumors involving abuse, paedophilia, and predatory behavior toward women. Recently, he has been sued on accounts of sexual abuse by multiple women, three of which were underage at the time of encounters. Kelly has denied each of these charges.

On February 22, 2019 a grand jury indicted Kelly on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims all under the age of 17. This indictment came one month after the release of Surviving R. Kelly, a Lifetime docu-series about the women with stories of sexual abuse by R. Kelly, ignited calls to have the singer fully investigated.

Earlier in February, Attorney Michael Avenatti, the representative for an R. Kelly “whistleblower,” handed over to prosecutors a tape featuring Kelly and an underage girl participating in sexual activities. The details of the tape mirror the child pornography allegations R. Kelly faced in 2002; he was acquitted of those charges in 2008. This evidence presented by Avenatti was what ultimately pushed the grand jury to indict the singer.

On Friday, February 22, 2019, Kelly turned himself into a Chicago police station. He appeared in court the following Saturday for a bail hearing set at $1 million, which he was unable to pay until the next Monday. (His lawyer has reported that his finances are “a mess” due to losing his contract and tour dates.) On March 22nd, Kelly’s lawyer requested a delay for the next court hearing. Kelly claimed he had concert dates in Dubai; however, this claim has been denied by Dubai’s government. The next court hearing will take place on May 7th.

The Jussie Smollett Case: A Timeline

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

On January 22, 2019, Empire actor Jussie Smollett reported receiving a threatening envelope with “MAGA” written in red ink as the return address. Inside this envelope, which was sent to his workplace at Fox production studios on Chicago’s West Side, were cut-out letters spelling “You will die black” and crushed pain reliever. A week later, the actor reported that he was attacked by two men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs, declared “This is MAGA country,” and hit him before wrapping a noose wet with acid around his neck. Following his report, police searched for hours going through footage but couldn’t find direct evidence of the alleged attacks. However, police did find an image of two men during the time leading up to the attack.

On February 1, Smollett released his first statement since the alleged attack, insisting that he was “100 percent factual and consistent on every level” in his talks with authorities. The next day, Smollett thanked his supporters at his first performance since the incident.

About two weeks after the alleged attack, Smollett appeared on Good Morning America to quell any doubts of the attack’s validity. Later that day, the Chicago Police informed the media that two Nigerian-American brothers captured on video around the time and location of the supposed attack were seen as potential suspects and would be interviewed. However, the next afternoon, the Chicago PD confirmed the innocence of the two brothers, and they were released, leading many to question Smollett’s testimony.

While in custody, the two Nigerian-American brothers gave valuable information that led the Chicago PD to investigate whether Smollett paid the two brothers and orchestrated the whole attack. Smollett responded to these accusations in a strongly worded statement claiming he was victimized.

Two days later, Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. The day after he was charged, Smollett turned himself in to Chicago PD, who set his bond at $100,000. Smollett continues to maintain his innocence.

The day after Smollett made bail, Fox Television released a statement that his character would be removed from the last two episodes of Empire’s current season.

After continued investigation, a Cooke County grand jury indicted Jussie Smollett on 16 counts of disorderly conduct, and on March 14th Smollett pleaded not guilty to all counts. In recent news, prosecutors dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel blasted the decision as a “whitewash of justice,” while various celebrities including Ava Duvernay and Smollet’s Empire co-star Taraji P. Henderson claimed the news validated their support for Smollett. 

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Recipients

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to those who have done honorable efforts in four main areas: arms control and disarmament, peace negotiation, democracy and human rights, and work aimed at creating a better organized and more peaceful world. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Both Mukwege and Murad have made meaningful contributions in their home countries and throughout the world to bring attention to these war crimes.

Dr. Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned gynecological surgeon who is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He founded the Panzi Hospital in 1999 as a clinic for gynecological and obstetric care, and expected to be working on issues of maternal healthcare. However, when the Second Congo War began, which took the lives of almost 6 million Congolese lives, rape had continually been used as a weapon, and the amount of sexual violence towards women and children increased drastically. Since 1999, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have helped to care for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence. The hospital not only treats survivors with physical wounds, but also provides legal, and psycho-social services to its patients in a center called the City of Joy.

Dr. Nadia Murad herself is a survivor of sexual violence. In 2014 she was captured and endured months as a sex slave at the hands of Islamic State militants after they swept through the area of northern Iraq where she lived with her family and killed several hundred people. During her time in captivity, Murad was bought and sold several times and was subject to sexual and physical abuse, including threats that she would be killed if she did not convert to their hateful, oppressive version of Islam. The sexual abuses of the  Islamic State army were systematic, a part of their military strategy, and therefore a weapon of war. After three months as a captive, Murad managed to flee—and she did not stay quiet.

Dr. Denis Mukwege and Dr. Nadia Murad have both risked their lives and the lives of their families by speaking their truth, calling out the perpetrators of war crimes, and seeking justice for the victims. They have continually used their platform to draw attention to the issue of rape as a weapon of war and to speak up for the voiceless in this inhuman human rights violation.

Imp Dome Men’s Hoops Report

BY ANDREW THORNTON

After a slow start to the conference schedule, the Imps have gotten red hot, beating conference rivals Green Hope and Panther Creek, which brings their in-conference record to 3-3. Injuries handicapped the Imps to start out the season, but seniors such as Aaron Smith, Jalani Abdul-Aziz, and Logan McNeil have stepped into leadership roles and have been centerpieces in Cary’s success. Once Jett Fortuny and BJ Keith return to one hundred percent health, this team will be very dangerous. Jared Moore is having a breakout season replacing Philip Blackley at the five spot, and Moore has added more athleticism to the position. There is a special swagger that the team has as they go play their rival Athens Drive Friday, February 1st at Athens Drive High School. The home games have been electric with lots of the student body coming out to support. Gang Green along with the alumni who shown up have made the Imp Dome a tough place to play for opponents.

In his first year after replacing legend Alan Gustafson, Coach Walton has run the team with more depth, allowing more players to contribute. In WRAL’s latest Playoff projection, Cary was listed as the 23 seed and would face off with Sanderson in the first round of the playoffs. The Imps go on a two game road trip to avenge two of their conference losses and try and stay hot at Athens Drive (2/1) and then at Riverside (2/5). Their final two home games of the regular season are on the 6th and on the 8th against Middle Creek and Jordan. Gang Green needs as much of the student body to come out, so if you’re reading this put on your green and white and come and support your Men’s Basketball team.

Aaron Smith

French Protests: The “Gilets Jaunes” Movement

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

Protests have a long history in France, from the French Revolution to the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, the Commune in 1871, the strike in 1944 (which helped liberate Paris from the Nazis), and the protests of students and workers in May 1968. No one does a protest like the French—it’s in their blood.  

The Gilets Jaunes, or “The Yellow Vests”, is a movement that has sparked France and has become the biggest challenge to the presidency of the French President, Emmanuel Macron. The movement takes its name from the fluorescent yellow safety vests that French law requires all motorists to carry; protesters have adopted these yellow vests as a symbol. Anger sparked after French President Emmanuel Macron said that starting January 1st of the new year, taxes on fuel would rise again, even after it was raised 20% the past year. Macron claimed it was necessary to fight climate change and protect the environment. It was also a way for Macron to start an initiative on persuading French residents to drive more electric cars since it is less harmful to the environment. Analysts say most of those joining the yellow vest movement are workers on lower middle-class incomes. These citizens say they barely scrape by with current taxes and get scant public services in exchange for some of the highest tax bills in Europeabout 60% of their annual incomes.

Even though most of these protests across France have been peaceful, the one in Paris became the worst rioting the French capital has seen in years. Shops were looted and cars torched around the famed Champs Elysées, as four people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protest. Edouard Philippe, the Prime Minister of France, recently suspended the plans to raise the tax on fuels for at least six months, saying no tax increase is worth jeopardizing the country’s unity. While some French residents feel that this is nowhere near the changes needed, the French government at least shows some sign of appeasing the protestors.

Dutch Church Protects Family from Deportation

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

Since 1:30 pm on October 26, Bethel Church in The Hague (a Dutch church in the Netherlands) has been running a non-stop service to prevent a family’s deportation. It all began when an Armenian family granted conditional asylum in April of 2010 was denied further political asylum and was told to leave the country.

The Netherlands’ 2010 General Act of Entry states that police cannot enter a space intended for religious or reflective meetings of a philosophical nature during the worship or reflection meeting. The church that the Armenian family regularly attends decided to use that law to their advantage to save the family from deportation.

For over a month, the church has been holding a continuous service, now surpassing 800 hours, because of the law that permits officers from entering during service. One volunteer stated that the plan was made in secret, and the church prepared by compiling every sermon they delivered in the past ten years into one document. The church has succeeded in doing so thanks to outside support, especially the 400 pastors from around the country that came to keep the service running. Since the family’s plea for asylum has been denied, a legal advisor in the Netherlands informed CNN that the family could theoretically get a children’s pardon and that the parents could apply for a resident permit with that pardon, but it is unsure if the family has applied.

Even though the fate of the family is unsure, one of the pastors stated that the church service will continue until it is clear that the Armenian family can stay.

GM to Restructure; Shutter Five North American Plants

BY DOMINIC COLETTI

General Motors announced a string of changes as part of an ongoing effort to keep the automaker relevant in a changing market. As part of the changes, the company announced a sweeping staffing overhaul, cutting 25% of executives and 15% of the total salaried workforce. In a press release outlining the changes, GM announced three assembly plants: Oshawa, Detroit-Hamtramck (pronounced Ham-tram-ick), and Lordstown as well as two propulsion plants: Baltimore and Warren will be unallocated. The three assemblies all manufacture cars (i.e. sedans and coupes) which are declining in popularity as crossovers, SUVs, and trucks take larger and larger shares of the market..

These closures affect approximately 15,000 employees, infuriating American and Canadian officials. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “deep disappointment” with the decision in a phone call with GM CEO Mary Barra, and U.S. President Donald Trump, who staked much of his campaign on the renaissance of American manufacturing, threatened to cut all government subsidies benefiting the company. Ms. Barra described the moves as being taken to “continue [GM’s] transformation to be “highly agile, resilient, and profitable.”

GM officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While GM has announced the closures as official, Unifor (a Canadian trade union) promised “one hell of a fight” over the Oshawa plant being shuttered, and the United Automobile Workers (America’s automotive trade union) vowed to fight any U.S. plant shutdowns. As well, many in Detroit are enraged as GM plans to close the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly. Residents unconnected with the auto industry nonetheless recall the controversial use of eminent domain and the razing of a Hamtramck neighborhood. Many are concerned that the plant’s closing will make the relocation of hundreds of families for naught.

GM choosing to downsize seems strange considering the company is currently quite successful financially. Since being bailed out by Congress, the automaker has found broad success, making an initial public offering and returning to profit in 2010, the year after it received Federal monies for relief. However, the moves are intended to prevent the company from falling behind as consumers shift away from cars and towards larger vehicles. Said Barra, “These actions will…improve resilience through the cycle,” suggesting GM is becoming more adaptable, striving to avoid another corporate collapse.