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AP Interview: Chopin contest winner praises old pianos

The winner of the world's 1st Chopin competition on historic pianos says the search for the original sound restores the appeal of classical music and helps artists understand the composer's intentions.

Tomasz Ritter of Poland was named the best of 30 young pianists at the 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments this month. He obtained top notes from the jury in all three stages of the contest, despite fighting severe pain in his arms and shoulders that hit two weeks before the competition and put him on painkillers and physical therapy.

His eyes lit up Friday when the 23-year-old pianist explained that historic pianos require a light touch but render a nuanced sound and melody to better reflect the notes written by the 19th-century composer.

Singer Elton John and partner win libel judgment

Singer Elton John and partner David Furnish have accepted an apology and undisclosed libel damages over a newspaper report that their dog severely injured a child while on a play date.

The pair brought the case against News Group Newspapers, which owns The Sun and Sun on Sunday, over a story in February that claimed the dog inflicted "Freddy Krueger-like injuries" — a reference to the violent character in the "Nightmare on Elm Street."

The couple were not at London's High Court on Friday but their lawyer, Jenny Afia, says the allegation was false and that NGN agreed to apologize and to pay "significant damages as well as to reimburse their legal costs."

NGN's solicitor, Jeffrey Smele, says, the company "is pleased that the matter has been amicably resolved."

Berlin Wall reproduction off, at least for now

The German capital won't be getting a reproduction of the Berlin Wall after all — at least for now.

A group of artists planned to build a remake of the Cold War barrier around a downtown block in mid-October and tear it down Nov. 9, 29 years after the original one was opened.

But Berlin authorities said Friday they denied permission for the project. News agency dpa reported that they had safety concerns.

The artists' group, DAU, planned to have visitors buy "visas" to visit the walled area. The idea was to create the experience of traveling to a foreign country and losing the sense of freedom.

The original wall, built by communist East Germany, divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989.

Ancient treasures on show in Germany reveal turbulent past

An arrowhead firmly lodged in the skull of an ancient fallen warrior, a voluptuous woman's form carved from ivory and the mask of a Roman river god are among more than 1,000 major archaeological discoveries being brought together for the first time.

The exhibition opening Friday at Berlin's Gropius Bau museum reveals how war, art and migration have left their mark in Germany since the Stone Age.

The show spans more than 300,000 years, starting with a sleek wooden spear used by one of the pre-human species that once roamed the continent long before homo sapiens arrived.

Neanderthal hand axes show how our ancient cousins fled the approaching ice age southward — the first tangible evidence of climate refugees — while the ivory "Venus of Hohle Fels" and similar etchings on slate dated to between 40,000 and 35,000 B.C. attest to early Europeans' fascination with the female form, pursued by artists ever since.

"The basis of Europe's common cultural heritage can be found going back thousands of years," said Christina Haak, deputy head of the Berlin State Museums that helped bring the objects together from museums across Germany.

Often, the exact nature of the objects is unclear: The Nebra sky disk, a plate-size object of gold and bronze, depicting the sun, moon phases and the Pleiades star cluster, is considered one of the first astronomical depictions in history but may also have had religious significance.

Dated to around 1600 B.C., the disk is only a few hundred years older than three spectacular hats made from sheet gold first believed to have been worn by early Celtic priests, but which may also have served as primitive calendars.

Many of the artifacts in the exhibition, which runs until Jan. 6, show how strongly progress was linked to the movement of people, goods and ideas into and across Europe.

"Migration is not the mother of all problems. It is the beginning of all innovation," said Matthias Wemhoff, director of Berlin's Museum of Prehistory and Early History.

Wemhoff cited the wealth of objects found during the recent construction of a new subway line in Cologne, where artifacts from all over the Roman Empire prove the city was an early melting pot of cultures.

Alongside the river god's stony face was the perfectly preserved gravestone of a trader by the name of Sextus Haparonius Iustinus, who sold cosmetics and perfumes long before the city became known for its Eau de Cologne.

Germanic smiths copied Roman helmets and later designed their own weaponry, including the Ulfberht swords that became prized by warriors throughout Europe in the Middle Ages.

Fashions came and went, including the habit of binding babies' skulls so they grew conical heads — a practice documented in what is now Bavaria and the Crimean Peninsula around A.D. 500.

Likewise, the search for elusive formulas for turning mundane materials into gold, represented by the remains of an alchemist's workshop from the 16th century, hasn't survived, though the thirst for knowledge and profit lives on in Germany's high-tech industries.

Some of the objects on display, all of which were found in the past two decades in what is now Germany, are still shrouded in mystery. The skull with the arrowhead is part of a massive trove of bones and weapons that archaeologists believe could be the earliest known remains from a large-scale battle in human history.

While another ancient military confrontation — the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 B.C. that pitted the Egyptian and Hittite armies against each other in what is now Syria — has been well documented, no physical evidence of it has yet been found.

About 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) away in the Tollense valley on the frigid plains of northern Germany, thousands of Bronze Age warriors were also going to battle at almost the same time. So far, nobody knows why, or who they were.

Unreleased Chris Cornell songs to be released in November

New Chris Cornell music is being released more than a year after his death.

Cornell's widow Vicky is behind the new album "Chris Cornell," as well as a four-disc box set. Both will be released November 16.

The first track from both projects is titled "When Bad Does Good ." Vicky Cornell says it came from her husband's archives.

The box set will contain 11 unreleased tracks. Both projects will include his solo work as well as music made with Audioslave, Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog.

Vicky Cornell says the album is for his fans and she wanted to remind people of all different aspects of him — "he friend, husband and father, the risk taker and innovator, the poet and artist."

Cornell died in May 2017 at 52 and his death was ruled a suicide.

Black Eyed Peas tackle gun violence, immigration in videos

The Black Eyed Peas tackle gun violence at schools and immigration in two new music videos for their song, "Big Love."

The trio — it's unclear if Fergie is still part of the group — released the videos Friday. They also announced proceeds from the song will benefit the student-led March for Our Lives organization, calling for stricter gun laws, and Families Belong Together, a protest against the Trump administration policy of separating children from families after they are detained crossing the U.S. border illegally.

In the video confronting gun violence at schools, BEP members will.i.am and Taboo — who portray a teacher and a gym coach — are shot by a gunman along with several students, while others run for safety. Apl.de.ap is a police officer in the clip.

The second video focuses on border portal officers stopping immigrants from crossing the U.S. border.

"Big Love," which is reminiscent of the Black Eyed Peas 2003 hit "Where Is the Love," will appear on the band's new album, "Masters of the Sun." It will be released Oct. 12 and is their first album since 2010's "The Beginning."

The Grammy-winning group's hits include "Boom Boom Pow," ''My Humps" and "I Gotta Feeling." They will launch their The Masters of the Sun Tour on Oct. 27 in London and wrap Nov. 18 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Fergie, who released a solo album last year, has not recorded with the group. Representatives for the singer and the Black Eyed Peas didn't clarify her role in the group when asked by The Associated Press.

Drake fan: New heart 'feels different, but in a good way'

The suburban Chicago girl who received a heart transplant after dancing her way into a meeting with Drake says she's feeling great.

Sofia Sanchez met with reporters on Thursday , three-and-a-half weeks after she received a new heart during a nine-hour operation at Lurie Children's Hospital. The 11-year-old says her new heart "feels different, but in a good way."

Last month, the Canadian rapper surprised Sofia with a visit after seeing a video of her dancing in a hospital hallway to one of his songs while tethered to her IV pump. That was a week before her surgery.

Sofia says Drake's advice to stay strong and keep fighting has helped her through some tough times.

A heart surgeon calls Sofia a star patient and says her recovery is going quite well.

Suge Knight pleads to manslaughter over fatal confrontation

Averting a murder trial that had been nearly four years in coming, former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight pleaded no contest Thursday to voluntary manslaughter for running over and killing a Compton businessman and agreed to serve nearly 30 years in prison.

The Death Row Records co-founder entered the plea in Los Angeles Superior Court after striking a deal with prosecutors, and has agreed to serve 28 years. Jury selection for his trial, which could have led to a life sentence, had been scheduled to begin Monday.

Knight was charged with murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run after fleeing the scene of a dispute in January 2015 outside a Compton burger stand. Knight and Cle "Bone" Sloan, a consultant on the N.W.A. biopic "Straight Outta Compton," traded punches before Knight clipping him with his pickup truck and ran over businessman Terry Carter, who died from his injuries.

Knight's attorneys have said he was acting in self-defense and was fleeing armed attackers when he ran over Carter and Sloan. Sloan has denied he was carrying a gun during the confrontation.

During Thursday's hearing, Knight, wearing orange jail attire with his arms and legs in chains, answered Judge Ronald Coen's questions, loudly and quickly saying "no contest" when the judge asked for his plea. He will be formally sentenced on Oct. 4.

The plea deal calls for Knight to serve 22 years in prison on the voluntary manslaughter count, and another six years because it is a third strike violation.

Knight disagreed with the judge's description of one of his previous strikes and put a pause in the proceedings that briefly raised tension in the courtroom.

"You served nine years for it," Coen said, before Knight agreed to move on.

Carter's daughter, Crystal, sat in the front row of the courtroom and displayed no visible reaction to the proceedings. "I'm surprised he pleaded out," Crystal Carter said outside court. "Normally he likes the cameras to be on him 24-7."

The agreement also absolves Knight in two other cases, both from 2014. He was accused of stealing a camera from a woman and of sending threatening text messages to "Straight Outta Compton" director F. Gary Gray.

Delays, detours and drama marked the run-up to Knight's trial, which was expected to begin Oct. 1 under tight security and secrecy. Court officials had said that no witness list would be released ahead of the trial, and that some witnesses might not be identified by name during the case.

Surveillance video that showed Knight hitting the two men with his truck was likely to play a central role for both sides.

Sloan, who had feuded with Knight for years in a dispute with roots in their Compton gang ties, was likely to have been the trial's key witness, but may have been a difficult one for the prosecution.

Despite giving a detailed account of the incident to police on the day it happened, just a few months later at a preliminary hearing he claimed to have little memory of it, and even refused at first to identify Knight as the person sitting in the courtroom who he'd fought with.

Knight collapsed during one court hearing, two of his former attorneys were indicted on witness-tampering charges, and his fiancee pleaded no contest to selling video of Knight hitting the two men with his truck.

His attorney Albert DeBlanc Jr., appointed by the court five months ago, was his 16th, and Knight tried to fire him and get yet another lawyer just a day before the deal was reached.

Knight would frequently, against the advice of Coen and his attorneys, speak extensively during hearings, complaining about jail conditions, his attorneys and his health issues.

On Thursday, while Coen read legal language about the plea and told Knight he was subject to deportation if he was not a citizen, Knight said "ICE is coming to get me?" to a smattering of laughs.

DeBlanc declined comment on the plea agreement. Prosecutors did not speak to reporters outside court.

The 53-year-old was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his label once listed Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists. Knight lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy. He has prior felony convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun. He pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to five years' probation for assaulting two rap entertainers at a Hollywood recording studio in 1992.

He was sentenced in February 1997 to prison for violating terms of that probation by taking part in a fight at a Las Vegas hotel hours before Shakur was fatally wounded in a drive-by attack as he rode in Knight's car just east of the Las Vegas Strip. Shakur's slaying remains unsolved.

___

Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .

Sentencing options for Cosby include prison, jail, probation

Bill Cosby could be sent to prison next week for drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004 in what became the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

Cosby is due in court Monday for a two-day sentencing hearing that follows his conviction in the spring on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault.

The judge's options are broad, because the state guideline range of about one to four years spans the gamut from a prison term to a jail stint to house arrest or probation. The maximum term is 10 years per count.

Lawyers for the 81-year-old, legally blind Cosby will no doubt stress his age, health problems, legacy and philanthropy as they plead to keep him at home, while prosecutors hope to call other accusers to paint Cosby as a sexual predator deserving of prison.

Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill may aim straight for the heart of the guidelines to blunt public criticism from both sides and avoid being overturned on appeal, legal experts said.

"If you give a sentence in the middle, almost no one can complain," said Daniel Filler, dean of Drexel University's Kline School of Law, who studies sex assault issues. "And because the case has mitigating factors and aggravating factors, that's the most likely outcome."

Cosby should learn his fate by Tuesday.

THE SENTENCE

Jurors convicted Cosby of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand without consent, while she was impaired and after incapacitating her. Though each count carries a 10-year maximum sentence, O'Neill will likely merge them since all three stem from the same encounter, in effect weighing only one charge, legal experts say.

State guidelines call for a base 22-to-36-month sentence. The judge can add up to a year for aggravating factors - such as the 60-some other accusers, Cosby's denials and lack of remorse, and even his defense team's repeated attacks on the judge and prosecutor. Then O'Neill could deduct up to a year for mitigating factors - Cosby's age, health and perhaps even the $3.4 million he paid to settle Constand's related lawsuit.

The Associated Press does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.

PRISON, JAIL OR HOUSE ARREST?

If Cosby gets even a day more than two years, he'll enter the state prison system, with a first stop at SCI Phoenix, a new $400 million, 3,830-bed prison in suburban Philadelphia where staff would assess his physical, medical and security needs. Cosby could end up in a long-term medical care unit there or elsewhere. If he's deemed at risk because of his celebrity or as a risk to others, he'd be held in solitary confinement, spending most of the day alone in his cell.

Otherwise, he'd likely share a two-person cell, leaving for meals, exercise, counseling and other activities. He'd be free to bring a personal tablet for music or games but wouldn't have internet access, corrections spokeswoman Amy Worden said.

If Cosby gets two years or less, he'd likely go to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in nearby Eagleville, a 2,080-bed site that also has a medical unit. Or O'Neill could give him less than a year and let him serve some or all of the time on home confinement, typically with an ankle monitor or probation.

The key question, if Cosby gets time, is whether O'Neill lets him stay home while he appeals his conviction. The violent nature of the crime works against him, but Cosby's age might work in his favor.

"You don't want your client to go to prison and find out that (in) those twilight years of their life they shouldn't have had to spend there in the first place," said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson.

THE ACCUSERS

More than 60 other women accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct during his 50-year show business career. O'Neill allowed five of them to testify at trial, while others came to watch the court proceedings. District Attorney Kevin Steele wants some of them to speak at the sentencing.

O'Neill on Wednesday ruled out the testimony of most of the other accusers, other than the five trial witnesses. But whether any of them testify, he already knows their stories well after presiding at both trials and several intense pretrial hearings over their "prior bad act" testimony.

"The judge knows a ton about Mr. Cosby whether or not the D.A. puts on a single witness," Filler said.

THE JUDGE

O'Neill, who is married and has three adult sons, took the bench in 2002. He has watched the Cosby team's attacks on the court system intensify, and grow more personal, as the stakes grew.

When the first trial ended in a deadlock in June 2017, the defense attacked the judge and prosecutor from the courthouse steps. In court in April, moments after his conviction, Cosby called Steele an expletive and said he was "sick of him."

Then, just this week, Camille Cosby filed a state ethics complaint against O'Neill, invoking a long-ago romance to allege he had a bias in the case. She has called him "arrogant," ''unethical" and "corrupt."

Lawyer Samuel Stretton, who often represents Pennsylvania judges in disciplinary hearings, called O'Neill an even-keeled professional who "understands human nature." He doesn't think the attacks will influence the sentence - but said Cosby's lack of remorse might.

"Obviously, if no one is repenting, that's a factor to consider. And if they're so unrepentant they're name calling, blaming anyone but themselves," that's a problem, Stretton said.

Kanye West blasts Nick Cannon and Drake for Kim Kardashian references  

According to TMZ, Kanye West is demanding that Nick Cannon show respect when asked about Kim Kardashian in the future.

Kanye West lashed out at Nick Cannon for talking about Kim’s body in his recent interview, and he wants Drake to squash the rumor that ‘Kiki’ is a reference to his wife.

Watch Nick Cannons interview below.

Continue to TMZ for the full story.

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