News Round-Up: September 10, 2020

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (screen capture via HBO Sports)

Some news items you might have missed:

The Daily Beast: A Russian social media dissident was captured in Chechnya and forced to sit on a glass bottle as an act of apology to Putin’s favorite enforcer, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (above).

OUT: Jussie Smollett in a recent Instagram Live chat, “From the very, very beginning, it was set up to seem like I was lying about something or everything.” The gay Empire actor was referencing his January 2019 claim that two men attacked him near his Chicago apartment while spewing racist and homophobic slurs, physically assaulting him, and hanging a noose around his neck. The police alleged it was a false report.

Edge Media: Actor Anthony Rapp (Star Trek: Discovery, Rent) and an anonymous accuser have filed a civil lawsuit in New York State court Manhattan against Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey for alleged sexual assaults in the 1980s.

Oscar winner Kevin Spacey (screen capture via YouTube)

NY Daily News: The Trump administration has secretly siphoned nearly $4 million away from a program that tracks and treats FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11 related illnesses. The Treasury Department mysteriously started withholding parts of payments — nearly four years ago — meant to cover medical services for to firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics treated by the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program.

The Advocate: Donald Trump has unveiled a new shortlist of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees, and it includes such anti-LGBTQ+ types as Sens. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley as well as the lawyer who defended the Defense of Marriage Act.

Washington Blade: The venerable LGBTQ news outlet has officially endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president. “There’s no reason for any informed American voter to grant Trump another four years. There’s even less reason for LGBTQ voters to support him, no matter what the hypocrites at Log Cabin tell you.”

Election 2020: A new campaign ad from Joe Biden hits Donald Trump over the revelations Trump knew the severity of the coronavirus for months while telling the American people “it’s like the flu.”

Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty To New Charges Of Filing False Police Report

Former ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett (center)

Former Empire star Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty Monday to a fresh round of charges accusing the actor of staging a homophobic and racist attack last year.

From CBS Chicago:

A new indictment filed earlier this month charged Smollett with six counts of disorderly conduct, accusing him of filing false police reports that he was attacked on the way home from Subway in the middle of the night in Streeterville in January 2019.

Cook County prosecutors dropped the original case against Smollett, dismissing 16 counts of disorderly conduct against him last March, without requiring he admit any wrongdoing, in a controversial move just weeks after he’d pleaded not guilty.

A special prosecutor later was assigned to look into the entire case, after a judge found “unprecedented irregularities” in how Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx handled the case, specifically by handing it over to her second-in-command after announcing she had recused herself.

Jussie Smollett Indicted On New Charges Over Alleged Hoax Attack

Jussie Smollett (screen capture via ABC News)

Former Empire star Jussie Smollett has been indicted (again) on charges relating to an alleged racist and homophobic attack he reported to the police in January 2019.

According to FOX 32 News, Smollett has been indicted by special prosecutor Dan Webb on six charges.

To refresh your memory, here’s a timeline of the ongoing twisted tale:

January 22, 2019 – Smollett told police he received a threatening letter at the studios where Empire filmed.

January 29, 2019 – Smollett reports the alleged racist/homophobic attack claiming it happened near his Chicago apartment.

January 30, 2019 – Police release a photo of two ‘persons of interest’ in the incident.

February 14, 2019 – The two ‘persons of interest’ were arrested at O’Hare Airport as they returned from a trip to Nigeria.

February 16, 2019 – Identified as brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, the arrested men say they are ‘eager’ to speak to Smollett.

Abel and Ola Osundairo (image via the Osundairo’s since-deleted Instagram account)

February 17, 2019 – The brothers tell the police Smollett paid them to stage the ‘attack.’ They say Smollett felt the threatening letter he’d received didn’t get enough attention.

February 21, 2019 – Smollett turned himself in to the authorities facing 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for lying to police about the alleged attack.

March 14, 2019 – Smollett appears in court and pleads ‘not guilty.’

March 26, 2019 – All charges against Smollett were abruptly dropped. At the time, a spokesman for the Cook County prosecutor’s office said the decision to dismiss charges came “after reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case.” Additionally, Smollett agreed to let the city retain his $10,000 bail.

April 24, 2019 – Osundairo brothers file a defamation lawsuit against Smollett’s lawyers.

June 21, 2019 – Webb was appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s decision to drop all charges. A few weeks later, Smollett tried to have the appointment overturned.

To date, Smollett has maintained his innocence telling reporters at the time, “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was being accused of.”

Jussie Smollett (mugshot)

Stay tuned as this story continues to develop.

(source: Fox News 32)

News Round-Up: April 23, 2019

Who else is feeling springtime in the air? Graphic artist Silverjow captures the mood perfectly (above). He shares that he was inspired by the cherry blossoms in Japan as well as the stylish peeps heading to work in their business suits :)

Some news items you might have missed:

• Who else is feeling springtime in the air? Graphic artist Silverjow captures the mood perfectly (above). He shares that he was inspired by the cherry blossoms in Japan as well as the stylish peeps heading to work in their business suits 🙂

• Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, the brothers accused of attacking actor Jussie Smollett and later cleared when prosecutors announced Smollett had orchestrated a hoax to advance his career, are suing Smollett’s legal team for defamation.

• Donald Trump’s son-in-law and presidential adviser Jared Kushner suggested Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was more harmful to the US than Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Kushner downplayed Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election as “buying some Facebook ads.”

• Voter turnout for young voters during the midterm elections was the highest in four decades.

• Nigel Shelby, a 15-year-old high school student in Huntsville, Alabama, took his own life after suffering from homophobic bullying from classmates. The Center for Social Equity found 89% of LGBTQ students report being bullied.

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of suicide, please consider reaching out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.

• A major faith-based foster care and adoption contractor for the state of Michigan, Bethany Christian Services, announced it will place children in LGBTQ homes, reversing course following a recent legal settlement.

Politico reports that Donald Trump has ordered administration officials to boycott the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the annual fundraising gala attended by the White House press corps and scheduled for this Saturday. For the third year in a row, Trump has announced he will not attend, and instead hold a political rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, describing the dinner as “so boring and so negative.”

• Flipping the script from Trump’s negative, let’s end this Round-Up with Salt Cathedral‘s upbeat tribute to folks who work hard for what they want: “Go and Get It” featuring guest artists Big Freedia & Jarina DeMarco.

The bouncy, euphoric electronic track features playful pop vocals along with sunny horn samples on a bass-heavy track.

Salt Cathedral say, ”‘Go And Get It’ is our hustler anthem. Since we came to this country we worked to open doors constantly by hustling like crazy. Having Jarina and Freedia be part of this and bring their magic into it makes the message and emotion extra powerful. We hope for people to feel inspired and go and get the shit that they want in their lives.”

Chicago Is Suing Jussie Smollett For $130K Investigation

Just when we thought the whole Jussie Smollett debacle was done and done, the city of Chicago has announced it may file a lawsuit in an attempt to recoup expenses for the cost of investigating his alleged late-night attack.
Jussie Smollett

Just when we thought the whole Jussie Smollett debacle was done and done, the city of Chicago has announced it may file a lawsuit in an attempt to recoup expenses for the cost of investigating his alleged late-night attack.

In late January, Smollett filed a police report alleging he was assaulted by two masked men who beat him, poured an unknown liquid over his head and put a noose around his neck – all while reportedly shouting homophobic and racist slurs.

As reported here on The Randy Report, the investigation eventually turned to Smollett, and he was charged with 16 counts of filing a false police report.

Last week, the charges were abruptly dropped.

Two days later, the city sent the Empire actor a bill for $130,000 for expenses related to the police investigation.

Smollett apparently has no interest in paying the bill.

Via Variety:

“Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on Jan. 29, 2019,” the city said. “The Law Department is now drafting a civil complaint that will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County… The Law Department will file the suit in the near future. As part of this legal action, the Law Department will pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance.”

Smollett maintains he is innocent.

“It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie an apology — for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud,” his lawyer has previously told the press. “Jussie has paid enough.”

Trump Demands FBI & DOJ Look Into Dismissal Of Smollett Charges

Donald Trump tweeted this morning that the FBI and Department of Justice will look into the sudden dismissal of charges for filing a false police report against Empire star Jussie Smollett.
Donald Trump

Donald Trump tweeted this morning that the FBI and Department of Justice will look into the sudden dismissal of charges for filing a false police report against Empire star Jussie Smollett.

The Trumpster’s tiny thumbs typed out, “FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!”

All Charges Against ‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Dropped!

TMZ is reporting all criminal charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett have been dropped.
‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett

TMZ is reporting all criminal charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett have been dropped.

According to reports, Smollett will surrender his $10,000 bond, but that will be the only penalty paid by the actor.

As TMZ writes, “The case is over.”

A statement from Smollett’s lawyers reads, “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him.”

“Jussie was attacked by 2 people he was unable to identify on January 29th,” the statement continued. “He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public, causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”

Saying Smollett and others were “hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions,”  the attorneys described the situation as “a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect.”

The statement concludes with: “Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.”

Smollett was facing 16 felony counts of lying to police in the alleged racial and homophobic attack.

The actor had reported to the police that on January 29, he was attacked by two men who physically assaulted him, poured an unidentified liquid on his head, and put a noose around his neck – all while allegedly yelling homophobic and racist slurs.

But TMZ reports, via sources close to Smollett, that the prosecution’s case “disintegrated.”

For one thing, a $3,500 check from Smollett to the two brothers seems to have become problematic.

While the police asserted the check was for taking part in the fake attack, Smollett’s claim that it was for physical training appears to be true.

Additionally, while the Police Superintendent told the press that Smollett wrote himself a threatening letter 6 days before the attack, it seems the FBI had not concluded who wrote the letter.

UPDATE – Outside the Chicago courthouse, Smollett made this statement today:

“I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of. This has been an incredibly difficult time. Honestly, one of the worst of my entire life. But I am a man of faith and I’m a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family our lives, or the movement into a fire like this. I just wouldn’t. Now I’d like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life. But make no mistake I will always continue to fight for justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.”

Chicago: Jussie Smollett Enters ‘Not Guilty’ Plea To 16 Felony Counts

Actor Jussie Smollett appeared in a Chicago courtroom Thursday morning to officially plead ‘not guilty’ to 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct.
Jussie Smollett pleaded ‘not guilty’ in Chicago today

Actor Jussie Smollett appeared in a Chicago courtroom Thursday morning to officially plead ‘not guilty’ to 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct.

The charges stem from his claim that on January 29, during a late-night food run, he was assaulted by two men who physically beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured an unidentified liquid on his head. Smollett alleges his assailants used homophobic and racist slurs during the attack.

The Chicago Police Department were able to track down the two men – brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo – via surveillance cameras. The two men told police they were paid by Smollett to stage the incident in an effort by Smollett to increase his salary on Empire.

On March 9, a grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing false police reports.

Since the scandal has escalated and charges were filed against him, the TV show has written Smollett’s character out of the remaining episodes this season.

His attorney, Tina Glandian, entered the plea during the brief hearing at Leighton Criminal Courthouse, according to Chicago’s local CBS2 News.

Following the plea, Cook County Judge Steven Watkins ruled that Smollett may travel to California and New York for consultations with his lawyers as long he provides the court with 48 hours notice.

Otherwise, the 36-year-old will not be allowed to leave the state of Illinois without prior permission from the court.

The presiding Criminal Court Judge allowed cameras in the courtroom today, but Judge Watkins will have the final say as to whether future hearings will be open to media cameras.

Smollett has indicated through his lawyers that he wants the cameras in the court as a balance to what he says are ‘misinformation’ leaks. His attorneys say they want the public to see evidence as it is presented in court.

During a recent appearance on CNN with Anderson Cooper, Smollett’s defense attorney Mark Geragos claimed the Empire star has been the victim of a ‘media gang bang.’

“What is happening here is, frankly, a media gang bang of this guy of unprecedented proportions,” said the celebrity lawyer who has previously represented Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder and Scott Peterson.

He added later, “I defy anybody to find any indictment anywhere where somebody has brought 16 counts for being a victim of a hate crime.”

Smollett’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 17. Watch Geragos’s ‘gang bang’ appearance on CNN below.

News Round-Up: March 11, 2019

Jonas Brothers score their very first #1 song

Some news items you might have missed:

• The Jonas Brothers have officially topped the Billboard Hot 100 with their come-back single “Sucker.” It’s the Jo Bros first number one (previous high was #5) and first boy band #1 in sixteen years.

• Democratic Presidential contender Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said this weekend that she never supported conversion therapy, despite working for an organization that promoted it.

• Milwaukee beat out Houston and Miami for the 2020 Democratic Convention scheduled for July 13-16, 2020. Since the Democratic ticket barely lost usually ‘true blue’ Wisconsin in 2016, this makes perfect sense.

• This idiot not only got a beat down for grabbing the employee at McDonalds, but he was sentenced to 60 days in jail. The customer was apparently irate he couldn’t find a straw. Watch him get more than he bargained for below.

• Jussie Smollett’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, says the former Empire star is getting ‘gang-banged‘ by the media.

• A Brazilian politician called same-sex kissing ‘obscene’ and suggested it could be punishable with prison time.

• Speaking of Brazil, Donald Trump has invited the country’s newly-installed, virulently anti-LGBTQ president, Jair Bolsonaro, to visit at the White House. #OfCourse

•Music icon Olivia Newton-John celebrates the release of her first memoir, Don’t Stop Believin’.

With her trademark positive outlook, the Grease star shares personal anecdotes including a new afterword (added after the Australian printing) of her stay in her own hospital, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research  Centre, last fall when she experienced a fractured sacrum.

The four-time Grammy Award winner went undercover for a few weeks for treatment and shares how proud she is of the world-class facility.

She also shares never-before-told stories from her 50+ year-old career in entertainment.

You can order the book on Amazon here.

Podcast: Utah Fails On Conversion Therapy; Mississippi Tries To Ban Gay Prom Dates; Mr. Rogers Was Bi; Jussie Smollett Gets More Bad News

The Randy Report podcast covers politics, pop culture and entertainment news of interest to the LGBTQ community

In this week’s podcast:

• Utah’s governor apologizes for legislature’s failure to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’

Empire star Jussie Smollett gets more bad news

• A Mississippi high school is pretending it isn’t trying to ban same-sex dates to prom

• Folks are surprised to learn that the iconic Mr. Rogers may have been bisexual

• And new music from country artist Cameron Hawthorn reminds of the romance of ‘Dancing in the Living Room’

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report