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#FreeBritney Protests Break Out in West Hollywood

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  • Protestors in West Hollywood are fighting to get Britney Spears out of her decades-long conservatorship with her father.
  • Earlier in the month, reports claimed that the singer checked herself into a mental health facility, but fans believe she might be there against her will.
  • Many also believe her father made her go there months before we knew she was checked in.

#FreeBritney Protest in West Hollywood

Britney Spears fans gathered for a #FreeBritney protest in West Hollywood on Monday to fight the singer’s conservatorship with her father.

This protest follows Britney’s recent admission to a mental health facility at the beginning of April. Reports say the singer was experiencing emotional distress because her father, Jamie Spears, has been struggling with severe health issues. However, some fans believe that Britney did not enter the facility on her own, and is being forced to be there.

Since 2008, Jamie has been Britney’s conservator. This gives him control over her finances, assets, estate, and personal life. He shared estate control with attorney Andrew Wallet until Wallet resigned in March.

Conservatorships are court-ordered and are mainly used when someone is in a coma, suffering from dementia, or has another very serious illness that makes them incapable of making judgments. Fans started #FreeBritney to remove her from the conservatorship, as they think it gives Jamie too much power in the pop star’s life and gives him the ability to abuse her finances.

“We just kind of believe that through the proof of her work, that through the past X number of years, that she’s proven herself that she’s capable of being her own person,” said co-host of the Britney’s Gram podcast, Barbara Gray, who attended the protest. “We can’t speak exactly to her mental health, but we can speak to what we’ve seen as fans and as the public, and what she’s able to do. And it’s obvious that she shouldn’t be under that control.”

How #FreeBritney Started

While Britney has been a conservatee of Jamie’s for over a decade, theories on how he might be using this power started when she canceled her second Vegas residency in January. Soon after announcing the show, she said needed to spend time with her father and help him recover from surgery.

“A couple of months ago, my father was hospitalized and almost died,” she wrote on Instagram. “We’re all so grateful that he came out of it alive, but he still has a long road ahead of him. I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time.”

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I don’t even know where to start with this, because this is so tough for me to say. I will not be performing my new show Domination. I’ve been looking forward to this show and seeing all of you this year, so doing this breaks my heart. However, it’s important to always put your family first… and that’s the decision I had to make. A couple of months ago, my father was hospitalized and almost died. We’re all so grateful that he came out of it alive, but he still has a long road ahead of him. I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time. I hope you all can understand. More information on ticket refunds is available on britneyspears.com. I appreciate your prayers and support for my family during this time. Thank you, and love you all… always.

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Fans were suspicious and found her decision to be abrupt. Their suspicions were only furthered after the hitmaker went off the grid. For several months, there were no public sightings of the well-documented star, and her Instagram remained vacant of new content.

News that Wallet would be leaving his role as an attorney, handing sole conservatorship off to Jamie, broke during this time. However, there was still no sign of Britney.

The early-April, reports of Britney checking into a mental health facility hit the internet. On April 3, she posted a quote to Instagram and captioned it, “We all need to take time for a little “me time.” :)” Fans found the post to be off-brand for the star, leading them to believe she was not there on her own admission, and that her dad pulled the strings to enter her to the center.

Tip on Britney’s Gram Podcast

The theories only grew from there. On an April 18 episode of Britney’s Gram, the hosts reveal they received a tip on Britney’s status. While the source was anonymous, Gram and co-host Tess Barker said they verified his credibility. The call came from a man who claimed to be a paralegal in the office working on Britney’s conservatorship case.

In his tip, he backed up many of the fan theories that were circulating on social media. He said that while Britney was rehearsing for her second Vegas residency, Jamie learned she was not taking her medications as prescribed. He told her she could take her medication, meet with a doctor to find a new medicine program, or cancel the show. When she refused the first two options, Jamie did the latter and chose to blame it on his health.

The source also said that while the public only learned about her treatment in April, she actually had been in the facility since January, when the tour was canceled.

“She did not want to go,” he added. “From what I understand, this is not a decision she made, at all.”

One the same day, however, an article from the Blast cites a source who claims the songstress “would be dead” if she had not been checked in.

Where Are We Now?

Since Britney has been checked into the mental health facility, there have been two sightings of her in public. The most recent, for an Easter outing, left fans worried.

They think the singer looks out of sorts, and like her health is on the decline, based on the paparazzi photos.

The Britney’s Gram podcast has reported that Britney has filed a motion in court this year, potentially regarding her conservatorship. However, the court records on this are sealed, so this is not verified.

As of now, no one on Britney’s team has commented on the protests or the #FreeBritney movement.

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Entertainment Tonight) (Forbes)

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Comedian Gives David Beckham Ultimatum: Exit Role at Qatar World Cup Or £10K in Donations Gets Shredded

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“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded,” Joe Lycett said in a video.


Pressure on Beckham

Comedian Joe Lycett posted a video on Sunday saying he would shred £10,000 if soccer star David Beckham does not pull out of his deal to be an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup. 

Ahead of the event, which kicks off on Nov. 20, many have been raising concerns about human rights abuses in Qatar. The country criminalizes homosexuality, and it can be punishable by death. 

Beckham’s deal to represent the country was reportedly worth £10 million, and many are frustrated that the athlete took such a big check from a country with known anti-LGBTQ laws. In his video, Lycett noted that Beckham has been openly supportive of his gay fans and was the first premiere footballer to do a photoshoot with a gay magazine. 

In an attempt to get Beckham to bow out of his role, Lycett, who is pansexual, offered an ultimatum.  

“If you end your relationship with Qatar, I’ll donate this £10,000 of my own money, that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting, to charities that support queer people in football,” he stated. “However, if you do not, at midday next Sunday, I will throw this money into a shredder.” 

“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded.” 

Beckham’s Reputation “Shredded”

Lycett said he would livestream the money shredding if that’s what the situation comes to. If Beckham does not back out of the World Cup, Lycett noted he will be forced to “commit what might be a crime,” as destroying legal tender is against the law in the U.K.

“Although even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha,” Lycett quipped.

Lycett then linked to a website titled https://benderslikebeckham.com/, which includes a written version of his message, as well as a countdown to when he will either shred the cash or send it to a non-profit. 

Lycett is not the only U.K star to raise concerns about issues in Qatar. Singer Dua Lipa shut down speculation that she would be performing at the World Cup over the weekend by saying she has no intentions to visit the country until “it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host” the event. 

Other stars, however, including BTS’s Jung Kook, are slated to take the stage. 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hollywood Reporter) (BBC News)

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Federal Judge Dismisses Dave Portnoy’s Lawsuit Against Insider

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The online personality called the decision “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.” 


Lawsuit Tossed

A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy filed against Business Insider, several outlets reported on Monday. 

According to a report from The Washington Post, Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV decided that Portnoy did not successfully prove that the news outlet acted with “actual malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth” when it published two articles about his sexual relationships. 

The first article, published in Nov. 2021, detailed stories from women who said they had “violent” and traumatizing sex with Portnoy. A second piece was published in Feb. 2022 and includes sources who said Portnoy filmed sexual encounters without consent.

Portnoy has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained that the sexual encounters were consensual and positive. He sued Insider in February following the publication of the second article. 

Per The Post, Saylor tossed the complaint because it did “not allege that Insider’s anonymous sources were fake, or that the articles misrepresented what the women told [Insider’s reporters].”

“Furthermore, plaintiff admits that Insider investigated its first article for months, requested an interview with him, sought his comment before publication, included his denials, and hyperlinked to his news conference and his lawyer’s full denial letter,” the judge’s decision continued. 

Saylor also noted that Insider corroborated their sources’ claims with photos, texts, medical reports, receipts, and accounts from their friends. 

While Portnoy argued that these stories were an invasion of privacy as they pertained to his private sex life and the women involved were not his employees, Insider held that their claims were relevant.

“When a rich, famous, and powerful person uses their power in a way that is harmful to other people, it is newsworthy,” Nicholas Carlson, Insider’s Global Editor-in-Chief, previously wrote in an editor’s note. 

Saylor largely agreed with that, saying that issues of consent and power are part of “legitimate public interest,” including in instances that arise outside “the employment context.”

Portnoy Responds

An Insider spokesperson told The Post that the outlet is “pleased and gratified that the judge dismissed his complaint.”

“We knew from the start that our reporting was careful, fair, and accurate, but it’s gratifying to see that validated in court,” Julia Black, one of the reporters named in the lawsuit, tweeted in response to the news. 

For his part, however, Portnoy has criticized the judge’s decision, calling it “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.” 

“Every single lawyer said it was an uphill battle, every legal expert said it was an uphill battle, that it’s almost impossible for a public figure to prove defamation,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “The laws are stacked against me.”

Portnoy said that he turned in texts and other evidence he believed would prove the sexual encounters were positive but claimed “the judge didn’t even really look at the evidence.” 

He later read an excerpt from the judge’s decision that said Portnoy “can’t seek to prove actual malice by challenging statements that defendants did not publish.” 

“In other words: Business Insider did not publish any of my shit, I can’t talk about it, it’s not part of the case,” Portnoy explained. “It’s inadmissible.” 

He said he could appeal the decision if he wanted, but added he was not optimistic about how that would turn out for him. He floated the idea of suing the sources themselves, noting he thinks he would stand a better chance in such a case.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post)

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Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and More Sign Letter in Support of Restricting Rap Lyrics as Evidence

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The letter claims the use of this evidence is a “racially targeted practice” that “punishes already marginalized communities and their stories.”


“Protect Black Art”

Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and a slew of other major artists signed an open letter on Tuesday calling for politicians to restrict the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court. 

The letter, titled “Art on Trial: Protect Black Art,” argues that “more than any other art form, rap lyrics are essentially being used as confessions in an attempt to criminalize Black creativity and artistry.”

It follows statements from other advocates who claim that police and prosecutors are eager to interpret rap literally instead of treating it as a creative form of expression. By doing so, critics say they ignore the storytelling techniques, figurative language, and hyperbole that are often used in the genre, and weaponize those lyrics against their creators. 

Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill that aims to limit the use of rap lyrics in court by requiring prosecutors to prove lyrics meet certain criteria and do not display a racial bias before submitting them. State legislators in New York are also weighing a bill with similar goals, and on the federal level, a bill titled the “RAP Act” was introduced in Congress over the summer. 

Tuesday’s letter urged state and federal politicians to pass these bills and others like it. It also encouraged prosecutors to drop the practice voluntarily. 

Jack Harlow, Future, DJ Khaled, Camilla Cabello, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Normani, Travis Scott, and Christina Aguilera were among the slew of other stars who signed the letter. Record labels like Warner, Universal, and Def Jam joined the list, as did platforms like Spotify, Tidal, TikTok, and YouTube Music.

Rap in Court

According to Warner Music Group, experts have found over 500 cases where rap was used as evidence, and that is likely an undercount as several kinds of cases and proceedings were excluded from that figure. On the other hand, those experts found only four instances since the 1950s where non-rap lyrics were used as evidence, and three of those cases were tossed while the other was overturned after conviction.

The letter used Young Thug and members of the Young Stoner Life label, who are currently facing dozens of charges, including ones that accuse the label of being a criminal gang, as an example of this issue.

“The allegations rely heavily on the artists’ lyrics, which prosecutors claim are ‘overt evidence of conspiracy,’” the letter said. “In the indictment, Fulton County prosecutors argue that lyrics like ‘I get all type of cash, I’m a general,’ are a confession of criminal intent.”

The letter claims that using an artist’s words against them in this manner is “un-American” and “simply wrong.” 

“Beyond the obvious disregard for free speech and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted practice punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph,” it continues. 

Julie Greenwald, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Music Group, released a statement arguing that the freedom for musicians to form characters and narratives is “essential to the creative process and the role of art in society.” 

“The harsh reality is that Black artistic creativity is being threatened at an unprecedented level, and we must make every effort to stop this unethical, discriminatory approach to prosecution,” Greenwald added.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (NME) (Rolling Stone)

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