In this June 13, 2008 file photo, R&B singer R. Kelly leaves the Cook County Criminal Court Building in Chicago after a jury found him not guilty on all counts in his child pornography trial. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

R. Kelly, the R&B star who has been trailed for decades by lurid rumours that made him Public Enemy No. 1 to the MeToo movement, was charged Friday with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving multiple victims. Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, confirmed to The Associated Press that charges had been filed against the 52-year-old Grammy winner, but she declined to give a specific number. Media reports said there were 10 counts, at least some involving and underage victim or victims. According to an indictment unsealed Friday, the abuse took place around Feb. 18, 2003. The document provides no detail. A message seeking comment from R. Kelly's attorney, Steve Greenberg, was not immediately returned. Over the years, Kelly, who is best known for hits such as "I Believe I Can Fly," has consistently denied any sexual misconduct. His arrest sets the stage for another #MeToo-era celebrity trial. Bill Cosby went to prison last year, and former Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein is awaiting trial. Kelly was charged a week after Michael Avenatti, the attorney whose clients have included porn star Stormy Daniels, said he recently gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of the singer having sex with an underage girl. It was not immediately clear if the charges were connected to that video. In 2008, a jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges over a graphic video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. He and the young woman allegedly depicted with him denied they were in the 27-minute video, even though the picture quality was good and witnesses testified it was them, and she did not take the stand. Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, could have gotten 15 years in prison. Legally and professionally, the walls began closing in on Kelly after the release of a BBC documentary about him last year and the multipart Lifetime documentary "Surviving R. Kelly," which aired last month. Together they detailed allegations he was holding women against their will and running a "sex cult." After the latest documentary, Chicago's top prosecutor, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, said she was "sickened" by the allegations and asked potential victims to come forward. #MeToo activists and a social media movement using the hashtag #MuteRKelly called on streaming services to drop Kelly's music and promoters not to book any more concerts. And protesters demonstrated outside Kelly's Chicago studio. Greenberg, said earlier this year that his client was the victim of a TV hit piece and that Kelly "never knowingly had sex with an underage woman, he never forced anyone to do anything, he never held anyone captive, he never abused anyone." Avenatti said his office was retained last April by people regarding allegations of sexual assault of minors by Kelly. He said the video surfaced during a 10-month investigation. He told the AP that the person who provided the VHS tape knew both Kelly and the female in the video. Despite accusations that span decades, the singer and songwriter who rose from poverty on Chicago's South Side has retained a sizable following. He has written numerous hits for himself and other artists, including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. His collaborators have included Jay-Z and Usher. Kelly broke into the R&B scene in 1993 with his first solo album, "12 Play," which produced such popular sex-themed songs as "Bump N' Grind" and "Your Body's Callin'." Months after those successes, the then-27-year-old Kelly faced allegations he married 15-year-old Aaliyah, the R&B star who later died in a plane crash in the Bahamas. Kelly was the lead songwriter and producer of Aaliyah's 1994 debut album. Kelly and Aaliyah never confirmed the marriage, though Vibe magazine published a copy of the purported marriage license. Court documents later obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times showed Aaliyah admitted lying about her age on the license. Jim DeRogatis, a long time music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, played a key role in drawing the attention of law enforcement to Kelly. In 2002, he received the sex tape in the mail that was central to Kelly's 2008 trial. He turned it over to prosecutors. In 2017, DeRogatis wrote a story for BuzzFeed about the allegations Kelly was holding women against their will in Georgia.

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail following his release, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago. Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct and filling a false police report when he said he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck, a police said. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

The producers of the TV show "Empire" said Friday that Jussie Smollett's character will be removed from the final two episodes of this season "to avoid further disruption on set" after Smollett was accused of faking a racist, anti-gay attack on himself in Chicago. "While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of 'Jamal' from the final two episodes of the season," ''Empire" executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer said in a written statement. "Empire" is filmed in Chicago. Prosecutors charged Smollett late Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct — the charge that is used for filing a false police report. He turned himself in to police Thursday and was jailed until an afternoon court appearance. Prosecutors say Smollett gave detailed instructions to the accomplices who helped him stage the attack in January, including telling them specific slurs to yell, urging them to shout "MAGA country" and even pointing out a surveillance camera that he thought would record the beating.


Negotiations are underway with three new airlines to include Trinidad as part of their routewhen flying to the Caribbean and further conversations are being progressed with existing carriers to add new routes. This is the report fromTourism Trinidad’s Destination Development Manager, Heidi Alert, who recently returned from a visit to “Routes Americas” the single largest commercial aviation event for the Americas and the Caribbean. The event was held in Quebec City, Canada, from February 12-14. A release from Trinidad Tourism Ltd Alert confirmed that the outcome of these negotiations are not likely to impact the country’s arrival figures for 2019, but are expected to significantly increase arrivals for 2020 and beyond. Routes America brought together over 800 delegates, including 80 airlines, 300 airports and 50 tourism authorities in one central location, to discuss new market opportunities and current service enhancements with key decision makers and other influential aviation professionals from airlines, airport authorities and destination tourism boards. “The team held over 20one-on-one meetings with Airlines and Airport Authorities from as near as the Dominican Republic to as far as China – all with a view to attracting them to destination Trinidad,” said Alert. She was accompanied byEmmanuel Baah and Joanna Fridy of the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. Caribbean Airlines agents and representatives.

TravelMag announced the picks Feb 11, 2019.

Two beach towns in Barbados hit TravelMag.com's list for 'THE 20 MOST CHARMING BEACH TOWNS IN THE CARIBBEAN'. How is the Top 20 list compiled? TravelMagsurveyed more than 300 travel writers, social media influencers and travel professionals, asking them to pick the most charming beach towns and villages in the Caribbean. While there are plenty of dreamy destinations to choose from, here are the 20 destinations that received the most votes. According to the TravelMag author Holly Riddle who wrote the piece, some of the best treasures are found when tourists leave the resorts and venture along the unbeaten paths across the Caribbean islands. How were the destinations chosen? TravelMagsurveyed people in the know about the most charming destinations in the Caribbean islands. The catch? The area’s population had to be under 100,000. Locales on the Caribbean coasts of Mexico, Central America and South America were not considered. Which Barbados beach towns won? Oistins Riddle wrote: 'Oistins likewise has an extensive past. Here the Treaty of Oistins was signed in 1652, formally ending the skirmish between colonial settlers and the English Commonwealth over trade with the Netherlands. It’s not uncommon for travelers to be invited to join the locals for a weekend fish fry, which includes loads of fried seafood, music, dancing and even some shopping from the local craftsmen hawking their wares. The beaches of Oistins are also a good spot for plane spotting, as they sit right under the flight path of aircraft landing in Barbados.' Speightstown TravelMag stated: Founded in 1653, Speightstown was once a hectic and busy port city. While the small town remains the second largest on the island, its importance in trade and political affairs has waned. Now the quaint and somewhat forgotten feel lends a sense of having the entire place to yourself. Beyond the quiet beaches, travellers enjoy the historic architecture, eateries and shopping opportunities for local produce and handcrafts. Recently, a luxury marina development was added to the Speightstown landscape. Take advantage of this hidden gem before it begins to draw a larger tourist crowd. Also making the list were beach communities and beach towns in Anguilla, Aruba, Cuba, Bahamas, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico,SaintBarthélemy (SaintBarts), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, and U.S. Virgin Islands.


Kraft Heinz has disclosed an investigation by federal regulators and will slash the value of its Oscar Mayer and Kraft brands by $15.4 billion. Shares plunged more than 20 percent before the opening bell Friday after the company posted a stunning $12.6 billion loss for the fourth quarter. Kraft Heinz divulged the receipt of a subpoena in October from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission related to its procurement operations. Those operations handle interactions with outside suppliers. The company said that it is fully cooperating with the SEC. Kraft Heinz completed its own investigation into the matter and recorded a $25 million charge to account for higher costs and expenses that should have been accounted for previously. The Pittsburgh company said that it is making improvements to its internal controls and taking other actions to prevent similar mistakes going forward. The nearly $13 billion loss in the most recent quarter is a devastating recognition that efforts to change the trajectory of the company have not been as successful as once thought. The loss follows an $8 billion profit in the same period last year. Kraft Heinz and other food makers that dominated grocery shelves for a good portion of the last century have been whipsawed by a seismic shift in what consumers want. Families, particularly in the U.S., have pivoted sharply away from processed foods and toward more simple and fresh ingredients. That has clashed directly with some of Kraft Heinz' most well-known brands like Jell-O and Kool-Aid and Oscar Mayer hot dogs. Details of the investigation emerged in the company's fourth-quarter earnings report late Thursday.

Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association and Co-chair on the BERT Monitoring Committee Ed Clarke delivering the first public report.

Barbados needs to not only look at the finance models for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and the University of the West Indies (UWI), but every citizen needs to play an integral part in making sure that the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme succeeds. [related node_id='60f0b8ae-93e5-4af3-9906-bd519d26ec7d'] With many asking how will government meet the International Monetary Fund (IMF) targets and what happens if government fails to hit the targets, one Co-chair on the BERT Monitoring Committee is calling on citizens to realise it's not only about government and what government is doing, but there is a responsibility component at the individual level at play as well. After delivering the report during the press conference for the first of the quarterly public reports of the BERT Monitoring Committee, Edward 'Ed' Clarke said in the Q&A segment: "It is critical that we meet the targets as a country. I think that as this stage we have to have a positive outlook that we are on the right track. In my opinion, the country is on the right track. The growth needs to speed up a bit but I think we are on the right track in trying to fix the holes that were there. Now it is transformation time. "People have to understand the roles they're playing in government and what that drives, what that role drives in achieving a specific target in this programme. I think if every personin government, and in the private sector and in Barbados understands what their role is to help Barbados achieve these targets, it is incumbent on all of us as Barbadians to make sure that this country meets these targets." Recognising that the IMF programme is set on targets with six-months reviews and knowing that the government and IMF have agreedto key criteria in blocks of quarters and six-month targets, he told the audience: "It is critically important that at the six-month period we meet our targets or surpass them, any further drawdown would be dependent on how Barbados performs as a country versus these targets. "The government has announced the IDB and CDB loans, which has [sic] been very helpful on the reserves side, and they're other funding arrangements that will take place, provided the country continues to meet its various targets. "So it is critical that the country meets the targets. If it doesn't meet the targets, you would assume that some of these future fundings could be in jeopardy, but the government, the IMF, IDB and CDB would understand all those negotiated terms." Going forward Clarke assured the public that the Monitoring Committee is working to deliver the public reports within 45 days after each end of quarter "hopefully". Change UWI, QEH model without compromising services With Barbados meeting many of the financial targets, Clarke said that all is not well as is.Under the category of central government transfers and grants within the monetary targets to be met, Clarke highlighted the QEH and UWI when addressing the33 institutions which are areas of focus. As it speaks to transfers Barbados fell just under the $495 million limit, withQEH and UWI recording transfersfor the nine-month period of 41 per cent and 50 per cent respectively of their annual target allocation. Clarke said that the Committee firmly believes that the "financing model of these two entities needs to be revised if the government of Barbados is to contain the transfers within the ceiling in future periods without accumulating any arrears or challenging the ability of these institutionsto provide effective service to the public." At the first public report press conference held at Sagicor, along with Clarke, were Co-chair Barbados Workers' Union (BWU) General Secretary Senator Toni Moore, Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) Edwin O’Neal,Head of the Bankers AssociationDonna Wellington, representing the private sector and international business sector Greg McConney.