Posted on

Styling Lionel Messi, Colin Kaepernick & Jay-Z: Meet America’s fashion fairy godmother

Fashion stylist Rachel Johnson gives a makeover to Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and explains how she has styled Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and Jay-Z.

Player Makers USA is a six-part series of amazing stories from people who work in the background for some of the biggest names in American and global sport.

WATCH MORE: The artist tattooing LeBron, Rihanna, Hamilton and Henry

Posted on

Spain sexual assault: US issues security alert over rise in reported cases

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Women rally at a protest against sexual violence in Malaga, Spain

The US has issued a security alert for its citizens visiting Spain in response to a rise in the number of reported sexual assaults across the country.

Students and tourists are advised to “drink responsibly” and avoid travelling alone in a set of guidelines published by the US embassy in Spain.

The embassy also advised citizens to familiarise themselves with the law.

Spain’s interior ministry has reported a steady increase in sexual assaults nationally in recent years.

In a security alert posted online, the US embassy said that US citizens were among those to report serious instances of sexual violence.

It warned its citizens visiting or living in Spain “not consume beverages that have been out of your control” and to use “the buddy system” – to travel with a friend or a family member.

“If you have been sexually assaulted, call 112 immediately… [and] consider contacting a local attorney to help you navigate the criminal justice process and protect your rights,” the alert added.

It said the advice was issued in response to a rise in reported incidents over the last five years.

In January, three young US women alleged they were sexually assaulted at a New Year’s Eve party in the southern Spanish city of Murcia.

Police questioned three suspects, who have all denied any wrongdoing, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported. The case is ongoing.

According to the latest figures from human rights organisation Geoviolencia Sexual, there were a record 73 cases of sexual assault carried out by multiple offenders in Spain in 2019.

The organisation reports 60 group assault cases in 2018 and just 14 in 2017.

In November, thousands of people took to the streets across Spain after a Barcelona court ruled that five men accused of gang-raping a 14-year-old girl had committed the lesser crime of sexual abuse.

This, the court said, was because the victim was in an “unconscious state”.

Under current Spanish law, an offence of rape is the act of committing sexual assault using violence or intimidation.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionActivists say rage over Spain’s ‘wolf pack’ case ignited a feminist revolution

In 2016, Spain was shocked by reports of an attack on a teenage woman by five men who became known as the “wolf pack”.

The men were initially charged with sexual abuse but, following widespread protests, Spain’s Supreme Court later ruled that the attack was a gang-rape and the men were each sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Posted on

Jay-Z explains his and Beyonce’s Super Bowl ‘protest’: ‘It just happened’

Image copyright
Getty Images

Jay-Z says he and Beyonce were not staging a protest when they stayed seated during the US national anthem at the 2020 Super Bowl.

He says the couple were in “artist mode” when they didn’t stand while Demi Lovato sang The Star Spangled Banner.

It lead to speculation they were sending a message of support to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick who first kneeled during the anthem in 2016.

He was protesting racial injustice and has been without a team since 2017.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against NFL owners believing they were conspiring not to hire him because of his kneeling protests – it was resolved under a confidentiality agreement

In a video, obtained by TMZ, Jay-Z and Beyonce can be seen sat down while others around them are stood during Demi’s performance.

But during a Columbia University lecture on Tuesday 4 February – two days after the Super Bowl – the rapper insisted it “just happened”.

In 2018 Demi Lovato was hospitalised after a suspected drug overdose.

“We were talking about how beautiful she looks and how she sounds and what she’s gone through in her life for her to be on the stage and we’re so proud of her,” he said.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Demi Lovato described it as a “dream come true” to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl

At the lecture, Jay-Z also explained that he produced all the musical performances at the Super Bowl as part of his deal with the NFL as its live music entertainment strategist.

He said he was also preoccupied wondering if the sound levels were too low and what the TV cameras were picking up.

Referring to Shakira and Jennifer Lopez performing the half time show, he said a “silent protest” from him was unnecessary as the diverse group of performers was “the biggest, loudest protest of all”.

When Kaepernick began protesting in 2016 it encouraged other players to do the same – but divided the country and sparked the anger of US President Donald Trump, who accused those kneeling of disrespecting the flag and called for them to be sacked.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

Posted on

State of the Union 2020: Donald Trump claims fact-checked

Image copyright
Getty Images

President Trump delivered his third annual State of the Union address and highlighted, what he called, the “incredible results” of “the great American comeback” under his presidency. He made a series of claims about his record in office ranging from jobs and manufacturing to healthcare and immigration.

Claim: “We have created seven million jobs…and the unemployment rate is the lowest in half a century.”

Reality Check: Since Mr Trump took office in January 2017, almost 6.7 million jobs have been added. Jobs have been added every month dating back to October 2010, when President Obama was in office.

The unemployment rate for December was 3.5%. This is the lowest level in 50 years – it last dropped to 3.5% in December 1969.

Claim: “The unemployment rate for African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans has reached the lowest levels in history.”

Reality Check: The African American and Hispanic American unemployment rate hit 5.5% and 3.9% respectively in September 2019 – the lowest rates recorded since the US Labor Department started collecting these statistics in the 1970s.

The unemployment rate for both of these groups has risen slightly since September, currently sitting at 5.9% for African Americans and 4.2% for Hispanic Americans.

Asian American unemployment is currently 2.5%, the same level as December 2006, after reaching a record low of 2.1% earlier in the year. However these records only date back to 2003.

However, there remains a disparity in weekly wages between racial groups in the US. Black men on average earn 26% less than white men and the disparity between Hispanic men and white men is wider still, according to the latest official statistics.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionRepublicans chant “four more years” – the president hopes a strong economy will win him re-election.

Claim: “I’ve also made an iron-clad pledge to American families we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”

Reality Check: This is not true – Mr Trump may say he’s made this pledge but his actions don’t support this.

Protections for patients with pre-existing conditions were introduced under President Obama in the Affordable Care Act. The law prohibits health insurance companies refusing coverage to people who already have health problems when applying for insurance. These rules came into effect on 1 January 2014.

But President Trump stood on a manifesto that promised to roll back the law enshrining these protections, known as Obamacare.

One of Mr Trump’s first actions in office was signing an executive order stating that his administration’s official policy was “to seek the prompt repeal” of the Affordable Care Act. He also supported a lawsuit seeking to have the Act declared unconstitutional.

Claim: “Last year, for the first time in 51 years, the cost of prescription drugs actually went down”.

Reality Check: In the year to May 2019, the average monthly cost of prescription drugs fell by 0.2% according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the increase in the cost of household items in the US .

This is the first price decrease over a 12-month period since 1973, some 47 years ago.

But this may not be the most reliable way to measure drug prices according to Inma Hernandez, a pharmacy lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh.

“The CPI is based on a basket of drugs which is representative of popular drugs. So it tends to include widely-used drugs, which are usually cheaper,” she says.

“However, it is less likely to include newer or less-prescribed drugs, which are more expensive and have higher price increases.”

Expenditure on pharmaceuticals per capita

US dollar per capita, 2015

Claim: “Illegal crossings are down 75% since May – dropping eight straight months in a row.”

Reality Check: President Trump was talking here about his efforts to tackle illegal immigration across the US-Mexico border. He’s correct about this specific period in 2019.

The crossings are measured by the number of people apprehended by US authorities trying to enter the US illegally

Apprehensions have fallen by around 75% since May, when more than 130,000 people were apprehended at the southern border.

This was the highest number of monthly apprehensions since March 2006.

And during Mr Trump’s presidency (2017-2019) apprehensions at the southern border have risen sharply (which may be as a result of tougher enforcement) and apprehensions last year were the highest annual total since 2007.

Illegal immigrant apprehensions

Claim: “After losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories”.

Reality Check: There were 54,000 fewer “private manufacturing establishments” (factories) at the end of 2016 compared with the start of 2001, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In terms of the gains under Mr Trump’s presidency, the most recent statistics for the second quarter of 2019 show there were roughly 12,000 more factories than when President Trump took office in 2017.

But many of these are small businesses, with fewer than five employees.

The number of factories overall started to increase in 2013, during the Obama administration.

Read more from Reality Check

Send us your questions

Follow us on Twitter

Posted on

Trump hails ‘American comeback’ in Congress speech

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionWatch: President Trump gives the annual State of the Union address

President Donald Trump has hailed the “great American comeback” in a speech to Congress on the eve of his expected acquittal in his impeachment trial.

At his annual State of the Union address, Mr Trump struck a tone of optimism as he set out his case for another four years in office.

He will say his tenure has “shattered the mentality of American decline”.

But it is unclear whether he will lash out at the lawmakers who have attempted to remove him from office.

The Republican president delivered Tuesday night’s nationally televised speech in the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives, where he was impeached in December.

On the other side of the Capitol, the Republican-led Senate is all but certain on Wednesday to clear the president of corruption charges in a party-line vote.

Before Mr Trump began speaking at the podium in the well of the House, he appeared to ignore a handshake from the chamber’s Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Mrs Pelosi, the president’s implacable political foe and the most powerful elected Democrat, was sitting behind him at the dias.

Republican lawmakers chanted “four more years” as he prepared to speak, urging him on for November’s White House election.

With an upbeat note that contrasted sharply with his lament of “American carnage” in his 2017 inaugural presidential address, Mr Trump told his audience: “The years of economic decay are over.

“The days of our country being used, taken advantage of, and even scorned by other nations are long behind us.

“Gone too are the broken promises, jobless recoveries, tired platitudes, and constant excuses for the depletion of American wealth, power, and prestige.”

The president invited several special guests to the address, including Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, two military veterans and the brother of a man killed by an undocumented immigrant.

Mr Trump welcomed the Venezuelan visitor with a remark that was also seen as a jab at liberal Democrats, including the left-wing candidates vying to challenge him for the White House, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

“Socialism destroys nations,” said the president. “But always remember, freedom unifies the soul.”

As they did last year, many female Democrats – including Mrs Pelosi – wore white as tribute to the suffragettes who won the vote for US women in 1920.

Several liberal Democratic lawmakers, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Maxine Waters of California, boycotted Mr Trump’s address.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that she would “not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution”.

A Democratic rebuttal to Mr Trump’s speech will be delivered afterwards by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of Texas will follow in Spanish.

Posted on

Iowa caucuses: Pete Buttigieg takes lead in partial results

Image copyright

Pete Buttigieg has taken the lead in the Iowa caucuses, according to partial results from the chaotic first vote in the race to pick a Democratic White House candidate.

Iowa’s Democratic Party said results from 62% of precincts show Mr Buttigieg on 26.9% with Bernie Sanders on 25.1%.

Elizabeth Warren was third on 18.3% and Joe Biden fourth on 15.6%.

The eventual nominee will challenge President Donald Trump, a Republican, in November’s White House election.

Amy Klobuchar was on 12.6%, and Andrew Yang on 1.1%, according to the other preliminary results released on Tuesday evening from all of Iowa’s 99 counties. Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard were on less than 1%.

But the state party has still not declared a winner from Monday’s vote that was plagued by technical glitches.

The results are the share of delegates needed to clinch the party nomination under America’s quirky political system. Iowa awards only 41 of the 1,991 delegates required to become the Democratic White House nominee.

But the state can offer crucial momentum – the last four of the party’s presidential standard-bearers have all won the Iowa caucuses.

Iowa was the first contest in a string of nationwide state-by-state votes, known as primaries and caucuses, that will culminate in the crowning of a Democratic White House candidate at the party national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July.

Eleven candidates remain in a Democratic field that has been whittled down from more than two dozen.

Where did it all go wrong?

Iowa Democratic party chairman Troy Price told a news conference on Tuesday evening the fiasco had been “simply unacceptable”.

“I apologise deeply,” he added. “This was a coding error,” but the data was secure and fully verified, he insisted, as he promised a thorough review.

State party officials earlier said the problem was not the result of “a hack or an intrusion”.

Officials were being dispatched across the Hawkeye state to retrieve hard-copy results.

They were matching those numbers against results reported from precincts via a mobile app that many precinct captains reported had crashed.

Voters flocked on Monday to more than 1,600 caucus sites, including libraries, high schools and community centres.

President Trump said earlier that the Iowa Democratic caucuses were an “unmitigated disaster”.

Who is Pete Buttigieg?

Mr Buttigieg is an openly gay, 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

He is a former Harvard and Oxford University Rhodes scholar who served as a US Navy Reserve intelligence officer in Afghanistan and used to work for global management consultancy McKinsey.

Rivals say Mr Buttigieg, who is younger than Macaulay Culkin and Britney Spears, is too inexperienced to be US president.

But he says he is transformative outsider who can break the gridlock in Washington and defeat President Trump.

Campaigning in Laconia, New Hampshire, on Tuesday evening, Mr Buttigieg welcomed the preliminary results.

“A campaign that started a year ago with four staff members, no name recognition, no money, just a big idea, a campaign that some said should have no business even making this attempt, has taken its place at the front of this race to replace the current president with a better vision for the future,” he said.

Flames lick at Biden’s heels

We finally have some 2020 Iowa caucuses results to talk about. And they’re going to generate a lot of talk – and hand-wringing.

There are clear winners, as Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg can both claim some kind of victory, depending on how the final tabulations come in.

There’s also a clear loser – Joe Biden. He entered Monday leading in some polls and hoping for a strong showing that would put to bed concerns that he is a flawed front-runner.

Instead those concerns are wide awake and pacing the room.

Unlike candidates like Mr Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Mr Buttigieg, the Biden campaign coffers are thin – and this Iowa performance isn’t opening any cash spigots.

It could have been worse for the former vice-president – he could have had to give a fourth-place concession speech on Monday night – but the end result is the same.

He was unable to land a knock-out blow on fellow moderate Amy Klobuchar, while Mr Buttigieg and Mr Sanders both exit Iowa strengthened, suggesting Mr Biden could be staring at a third-place finish – or worse – in New Hampshire.

Until proven otherwise, Biden still has his southern-state firewall, based on support from elderly and black voters. But the flames are licking at his heels.

How have the other campaigns responded?

After pumping nearly $800m (£610m) into campaigning in Iowa, the rival campaigns expressed dismay at the debacle.

But aides to Mr Sanders, a Vermont senator, welcomed his strong position in the preliminary results.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption‘The story of the night is… this system sucks’

Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver said: “We are gratified that in the partial data released so far it’s clear that in the first and second round more people voted for Bernie than any other candidate in the field.”

Ms Warren, a Massachusetts senator, and former US Vice-President Biden earlier on Tuesday questioned the state party’s decision to release partial results.

Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders told reporters: “What we’re saying is there are some inconsistencies, that the process, the integrity, is at stake.”