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Eurovision 2019: Israel Set to Host Song Contest Amid Pro-Palestinian Protests

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Millions across the world will tune into the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel on Saturday for their annual fix of the camp and colorful musical spectacle.

Israel is hosting because singer Netta won last year’s instalment of the competition renowned for its inclusive message, while Tel Aviv is known as a popular destination for LGBTQ tourists.

But while Eurovision unfolds, an alternative show will be held at venues across the globe as part of an effort to protest this year’s host and support Palestinian artists, NBC News reported.

The international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement says the contest “distracts attention” from Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. 

The competition comes just weeks after deadly exchanges on the border, with a cease-fire bringing a temporary halt to mounting tensions.

Daily life for most of the Gaza strip’s 2 million residents has become increasingly difficult, with almost no clean water and unreliable access to electricity.

“Eurovision in apartheid Tel Aviv is cynically used by Israel’s far-right government to artwash, or whitewash through art, its decades-old regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian people,” said Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, in an email to NBC News. 

Activists are instead encouraging music fans to tune into Globalvision — a performance highlighting Palestinian musicians, filmmakers and comedians — that will be broadcast at the same time as Eurovision on Saturday.

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‘Orange Is The New Black’ Featured an Immigrant Detention Hotline; ICE Shut It Down, Groups Say

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A toll-free hotline designed to help immigrants in detention centers get legal counsel was shut down by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after the number was mentioned in the acclaimed Netflix series “Orange Is The New Black,” according to the California-based group that runs it.

The Freedom for Immigrants’ National Immigration Detention Hotline has been an available resource to people in immigration detention since 2013, but it was shut down on Aug. 7, about two weeks after the premiere of the last season of “Orange Is The New Black,” the organization said in a press release.

The hotline was featured in various episodes, NBC News reports

“The timing of the shutdown is deeply concerning. Freedom for Immigrants is being targeted for exposing abuses in detention and amplifying the stories of people suffering in the system,” Christina Fialho, an attorney and executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, said in a statement.

An ICE official told NBC News in a statement that “all ICE facilities provide detainees with reasonable and equitable access to telephones.”

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President Trump Praises Appointment of Special Prosecutor in Smollett Case

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After former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb was appointed as a special prosecutor in the Jussie Smollett case, President Donald Trump endorsed the move on social media.

The president sent out a tweet commending the selection of Webb for the post, calling it “great”:

“He said MAGA country did it. So terrible!” the president said.

When Smollett reported that he had been assaulted by two men on Jan. 29, 2019, he said that the pair had called him racial and homophobic slurs and had said “this is MAGA country” during the attack.

President Trump described the reported attack as “horrible” after the news became public.

Smollett was later charged with fabricating the attack, but the Cook County state’s attorney’s office later dropped the charges. President Trump criticized the decision as “an embarrassment to our nation,” and called for the FBI and the Department of Justice to look into the incident.

Currently, Smollett is facing a lawsuit from the city of Chicago, alleging that the actor owes the city approximately $130,000 in overtime costs for officers investigating the attack, and a defamation lawsuit from two Nigerian brothers who claim that Smollett paid them to stage the attack.

On Friday, Webb was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case.

“First, (I’ll) investigate if any persons or offices involved in the Smollett case engaged in any wrongdoing,” Webb said at a press conference. “Number two, determine if reasonable grounds do exist to further prosecute Mr. Smollett. And number three, to submit a written report to the court of our findings and conclusions at the end of the special prosecutor’s investigation.”

The Cook County Inspector General’s office is also looking into the case, and is expected to issue a report later this year.  

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Lara Spencer Apologizes for Mocking Prince George’s Interest in Ballet on ‘GMA’

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ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Lara Spencer apologized Friday after outrage erupted on social media when she mocked and laughed at the inclusion of ballet in 6-year-old Prince George’s upcoming school year curriculum.

During a Thursday “Hot News” segment on the morning show, Spencer listed off what the royal prince would be studying when he goes back to school in the fall. 

“In addition to the usual first or second grade things, like math, science and history, the future King of England will be putting down the Play-Doh to take on religious studies, computer programming, poetry and ballet, among other things,” she said.

Her emphasis on the word “ballet” was met with raucous laughter from the studio audience, NBC News reported.

“You couldn’t contain … oh, he looks so happy about the ballet class,” Spencer said laughing, as a picture of Prince George smiling ear-to-ear in while wearing a soccer jersey appeared on screen.

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