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Philadelphia songwriter wins $44M in suit over Usher song

A Philadelphia songwriter who claims he was cut out of profits and credit from song that was recorded by R&B star Usher has been awarded more than $44 million in damages in a suit that targeted the track's other co-writers.

A jury last week awarded the sum to Daniel Marino. His former co-writer William Guice was ordered to pay $6.75 million in compensatory damages, and $20.25 million in punitive damages.

Also last week Destro Music Productions, owned by co-defendant Dante Barton, agreed to pay Marino $17.35 million. That brings his total award to $44.35 million.

The lawsuit stemmed from Marino's work on a song called "Club Girl." Marino says he created most of the song, including its guitar hook, tempo and chord progression.

The song was recorded by Usher in 2004 and renamed "Bad Girl."

Usher wasn't named in the suit.

Prosecutors: Bill Cosby's bid for new trial is 'meritless'

Prosecutors in Bill Cosby's sex assault case called his bid for a new trial or sentencing hearing "meritless," and asked the judge to deny him a post-trial hearing.

Cosby, 81, has asked for a do-over in the Pennsylvania sex assault case that ended with him being sent to prison last month to serve a three- to 10-year sentence. A jury found he had drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia estate more than a decade ago. The judge declared him a "sexually violent predator" who remains a danger to the community.

Defense lawyers later argued Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill made mistakes during the trial and sentencing that invalidate the conviction and punishment. In a memo filed Friday, District Attorney Kevin Steele said Cosby's objections are "time-worn" and have been rejected by the judge before.

Cosby called the sentence more than twice the minimum suggested in state guidelines, and complained he must admit the crime and undergo sex-offender therapy to have any real chance at parole in three years. Steele, in response, called parole "only a possibility," and said the state parole board board was free to set the rules.

The defense also attacked the validity of a taped phone confrontation between the accuser's mother and Cosby in early 2005. Cosby, in his post-trial motion, said the tape had been doctored. Prosecutors said it has long been clear the mother was struggling with the tape recorder and did not record the entire call.

And the defense said the entertainer's 2015 arrest may have come too late because it's unclear when the encounter took place. But Steele noted that Cosby himself said in a deposition it occurred in 2004 - within the 12-year window to file charges.

Cosby, best known for playing the wise-cracking Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-ranked "Cosby Show" from 1984 to 1992, is imprisoned at a state prison in Collegeville, about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Laureates in Spanish awards call for action to "save future"

Voicing wake-up calls for new generations to save cinema, oceans and journalism, film director Martin Scorsese and marine biologist Sylvia Earle on Friday were awarded Spain's prestigious Princess of Asturias prizes along a selected group of scientists, mountaineers and intellectuals.

In his acceptance speech in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, Scorsese said he worried about the low consideration that cinema and arts receive globally, but more specifically in the United States. He also wondered what's stimulating the creativity of young filmmakers.

"Where do they go for that valuable inspiration?" said the director of Taxi Driver or Raging Bull, among other films, from the stage of a historic theater. "Are the values of our world being eroded so we can't be sure if they are being inspired by art and truth, or just for commerce?"

Earle, who became first female chief scientist of the U.S. oceanic exploration agency, said that "blue" protected areas in oceans across the world are "urgently needed" to reverse the "alarming" environmental degradation.

"Actions taken in the next 10 years will determine our future for the next ten thousand years," added the 83 year-old scientist and explorer.

Known as the Nobel Prizes of the Spanish-speaking world, the awards are named after the heir to the Spanish throne, Princess Leonor. Given that the crown princess is 12-years-old, her parents King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia are who usually preside over the annual ceremony.

Other laureates this year were the nonprofit Amref Africa group, which uses planes and mobile technology to deliver health care across that vast continent; French crime writer Frederique Audoin-Rouzeau, known for her pen name Fred Vargas; Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo, a pioneer in sequencing DNA from archaeological and paleontological remains; and mountain climbers Reinhold Messner and Krzysztof Wielicki.

Messner, an Italian from South Tyrol, was the first to conquer the world's top 14 summits and took part in the first ascent of Everest without supplementary oxygen. Poland's Wielicki is known for his numerous climbs to Himalayan peaks in severe winter conditions.

Alma Guillermoprieto, an award-winning Mexican investigative reporter, received a long round of applause when, on the verge of tears, she remembered the 45 journalists killed so far this year across the world, including her fellow countryman Javier Valdes, murdered in May in Sinaloa.

"They kill one to intimidate others but, in the long run that leads to at least two more journalists to emerge," the 69-year-old writer said, encouraging young journalists to embrace truth in their profession.

"Without powerful, well-funded journalism that is respected by governments, the modern-day world, the interlinked world, would be impossible."

Harvard University professor and political philosopher Michael J. Sandel, whose work looks at the crossroads between democracy, justice and ethics, stressed the importance of philosophy for "its inescapability and the light it sheds on our everyday lives" and urged people to "ask hard questions about how we should live together."

The awards come with a 50,000-euro ($57,500) prize.

Britney Spears returns to Vegas with new residency in 2019

Britney Spears will return to Las Vegas with a new residency next year.

MGM Resorts International on Friday said the pop superstar in February will kick off a series of regularly scheduled shows at Park Theater inside the Park MGM casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

Spears in a statement says she is happy to be returning to Sin City, which she described as her "second home."

Spears wrapped up a residency at a different Las Vegas venue last year.

Tickets for the "Britney: Domination" show start at $79. They go on sale to the general public Oct. 26. Concerts are scheduled for February, March, May, July and August.

Lady Gaga and Aerosmith also have scheduled residencies at Park Theater.

The witch is back: Bette Midler announces she’s part of ‘Hocus Pocus’ celebration

What’s an anniversary and reunion without the main Sanderson sister? Fans of the film “Hocus Pocus” worry not. It may be 25 years, but the witch is back!

Bette Midler joined her on-screen sisters, Kathy Najimi and Sarah Jessica Parker, on Freeform’s “Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Reunion Bash.”

The show was recorded at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and will air Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on Freeform, Entertainment Tonight reported.

Midler made the announcement in a short video clip for the television channel. 

>> Read more trending news 

Many members of original cast also appear in the show, including Omri Katz, Thora Birch and Vinessa Shaw. It is hosted by Vanessa Hudgens and Jordan Fisher and has performances by Jordin Sparks, Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson, Entertainment Weekly reported.

Photos: ‘Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Reunion Bash’

Stars and fans came together to celebrate the cult classic “Hocus Pocus.”

Lena Dunham shutting down online feminist newsletter

Lena Dunham is shutting down her online feminist newsletter.

The author and creator of "Girls" announced Friday that the publication she co-founded three years ago, Lenny , had reached its "final chapter." In a message to readers, Dunham wrote that there was "no one reason" for the decision and said she was proud that Lenny had provided a forum for "new voices."

The message was also signed by Lenny co-founder Jenni Konner and by editorial director Molly Elizalde.

Dunham and Konner were executive producers of "Girls," the acclaimed HBO series in which Dunham starred. They had ended their producing partnership over the summer.

Poland hands over site of future Warsaw Ghetto Museum

A museum dedicated to the Jews who suffered in the Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi Germany's wartime occupation of Poland came closer to reality Friday with a key handover ceremony.

Plans call for the Warsaw Ghetto Museum to be housed in a former children's hospital that was within the ghetto's walls. It is scheduled to open in 2023 on the 80th anniversary of the uprising by Jews in the ghetto.

Museum director Albert Stankowski received a key to the property from a government official and signed a long-term lease Friday during a ceremony at the future museum site.

Jewish philanthropists established the hospital in the late 19th century and treated both Jewish and Christian children, among them tuberculosis patients.

During World War II, the hospital was encircled within the crowded ghetto that the Germans erected to imprison Warsaw's Jewish residents before sending them to their deaths in the Treblinka death camp.

One of the stories the future museum will tell is of the harrowing decision that some Jewish doctors made to give many children fatal overdoses of morphine to spare them worse deaths in Treblinka.

"This museum will be very important for all Jews because it's a symbol of the Shoah and the extermination of the Jewish people," Stankowski told The Associated Press. "But even more importantly, it has a universal message important for the whole world. It shows what can happen when people are dehumanized."

The museum site operated as children's hospital until 2013. The building is among the few structures to have mostly survived stages of the nearly six-year war, including massive German bombings of the ghetto and then greater Warsaw following a 1944 uprising led by the Polish resistance.

The idea to transform it into the museum came from Pawel Spiewak, the head of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

The involvement of the nationalistic government currently running Poland has made some critics and Jews fear that officials might try to distort the ghetto's history.

The Polish government has been accused of overstating the role that Poles had in helping Jews and playing down their participation in destroying one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe.

Members of the Jewish community in Poland say they are giving the government the benefit of the doubt and want to have a role in developing the new institution.

Stankowski, a Polish Jewish historian, said scholars from the United States and Israel are also being tapped to shape the exhibition.

The project is likely saving the two buildings. They are in the Polish capital's main business district, where many skyscrapers have been built since communism fell nearly 30 years ago.

Cardi B hands out free winter coats in New York

Hundreds of people have lined up in New York City as rapper Cardi B handed out free winter coats.

The Bronx-born rapper met with residents and fans on Thursday evening at the Marlboro Houses in Brooklyn during brisk fall weather.

The 26-year-old also was given balloons and a cake to celebrate her recent birthday.

Cardi B says she cares a lot about kids and the community and feels it's important to set a good example.

On Oct. 1, she got a summons in connection with a melee at a New York strip club. Her lawyer says the star didn't cause any harm.

About three weeks earlier, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj were involved in an altercation at a New York Fashion Week party.

Houston museum apologizes for questionable email subject line

A Houston museum issued a public apology for using a subject line that could be construed as racially offensive, the Houston Chronicle reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The Houston Museum of Natural Science used the term “Party with spooks” in the subject line of its bi-weekly electronic newsletter, the newspaper reported.

While the word "spook" is a synonym for "ghost," it is also a derogatory slur for black Americans.

"It's a tie to our annual Halloween party, which we've been doing for 10 years,” museum president Joel Bartsch told the Chronicle. “The word was meant to be a riff on the word spooky. That was the intention."

Bartsch said that when his employees saw the subject line, they addressed it by sending an explanation, the newspaper reported.

"Internal eyes noticed the subject line directly after it was sent,” Bartsch told the newspaper. 

The explanation reads:

"HMNS is committed to diversity and inclusion. We deeply regret that the subject line in this newsletter included a word with an offensive connotation, and sincerely apologize to everyone who received it. We are revisiting our internal policies and editorial review procedures to ensure this does not happen again."

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