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    Enrique Iglesias and Anna Kournikova are parents to twins, according to a report. According to TMZ, Kournikova gave birth to a boy named Nicholas and a girl named Lucy in Miami Dec. 16. >> Read more trending news  The newborn twins are the first children for 42-year-old musician and the 36-year-old retired tennis star, who began dating in 2001. Kournikova even appeared as the love interest in the music video for Iglesias’s 2001 song, “Escape.” The typically private couple kept the pregnancy under wraps. Reports that the two have been engaged and married haven’t been verified by the couple beyond a very big rock on Kournikova’s left ring finger and what appears to be a wedding band in rare photos of the athlete. People reported that the couple is very rarely photographed together. Even on their respective Instagram pages, neither make an appearance, but a German shepherd named Max and a Chesapeake Bay retriever named Jack have been seen in multiple posts on each page. Representatives for Kournikova and Iglesias did not respond to People’s requests for comment.
  • A new jazz conference seeks to determine what role jazz can play in today's society, and it has tapped Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as its keynote speaker.Jazz Conference will hold its inaugural event on Jan. 11 in New York City. While Abdul-Jabbar is best known as a Hall of Fame basketball legend, he's also become a cultural commentator and has long been a jazz enthusiast; his father was a trombonist.Abdul-Jabbar will discuss what role jazz can play in the cultural, political and social framework of today's society.The goal of the Jazz Conference is to boost the jazz community, which has dwindled over the decades. The conference will be held at Jazz at Lincoln Center.___Online: https://www.jazzcongress.org/
  • With glowing reviews from critics and $450.8 million of worldwide box office in the first three days of release of 'The Last Jedi,' all would seem to be right in the 'Star Wars' universe.But some audience reaction metrics suggest not all Star Wars fans are so thrilled with Rian Johnson's eighth episode in the franchise. While 'The Last Jedi' sports a sterling 93 percent fresh Rotten Tomatoes score, the website's users give it only a 56 percent score . A similar dichotomy is also found on the movie review aggregation website Metacritic , where the movie has a score of 86 out of 100 from critics but earned a woeful 4.9 out of 10 from users.The role reversal between critics and fans has caused consternation throughout the Star Wars galaxy. Could 'The Last Jedi' be a critical smash and a dud with audiences? Is 'The Last Jedi' more 'Attack of the Clones' than 'The Empire Strikes Back'? What in the name of midi-chlorians is going on here?For starters, the responses on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are to be taken with a Death Star-sized grain of salt. They're supplied by users to the website who can, by creating numerous accounts, vote limitlessly, and need offer no proof of having actually seen the movie. Some believe a nefarious plot is at play, a theory backed up by the boasts of a few on social media . Similar ploys , after all, were used against the female-led 'Ghostbusters.'But why would anyone want to sabotage 'The Last Jedi'? Well, there have been growing signs of rebellion against the galaxy far, far away. Some conservative moviegoers have taken issue with the current trilogy's embrace of multiculturalism. Claiming an anti-Donald Trump agenda, some called for a boycott of last year's spinoff 'Rogue One.' Writer Chris Weitz noted the Empire 'is a white supremacist (human) organization.'Politics have always played a role in 'Star Wars.' George Lucas has said he wrote it as a Nixon-era parable for the Vietnam War, about how democracies turn into dictatorships. But in carrying those themes forward to today, 'The Last Jedi' has — like virtually everything else — been fed into America's combustible politics. Even Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has volleyed with Texas Senator Ted Cruz on Twitter over net neutrality.'Similar to other movie sites, we're currently experiencing a high volume of fan activity around 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi,'' said Rotten Tomaotes spokesman Tiyson Reynolds. 'We're closely monitoring all user review activity to make sure it's valid.'But their low ratings don't jive with other, more scientific data.Like 'The Force Awakens,' ''The Last Jedi' won an A CinemaScore, which polls audiences coming out of theaters. CinemaScore counted feedback as 89 percent positive. ComScore's PostTrak audience survey recorded an average five-out-five star rating from moviegoers, with 80 percent saying they would definitely recommend the film.And then there's the mammoth box office. With $220 million in domestic ticket sales, 'The Last Jedi' now ranks as the second highest grossing opening weekend of all time, after J.J. Abrams' 'The Force Awakens.' Disney's distribution chief Dave Hollis estimates 'The Last Jedi' will have legs through the holiday season similar or close to those of 'The Force Awakens,' which ultimately grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. 'The Last Jedi' is likely to eventually rank among the highest grossing films of all time, but it will depend on strong word-of-mouth and repeat viewings to sniff the realm of 'The Force Awakens' or 'Titanic.'Yet regardless of any user scores, 'The Last Jedi' has proved to be easily the most divisive 'Star Wars' film. (Lucas' second trilogy was too universally panned to be much argued over.)Even many fans who generally applauded the film have taken issue with its comic flashes, a Princess Leia moment roundly compared to Mary Poppins, and of the film's treatment of Hamill's Skywalker. (Cantankerous and ornery, he spends most of the film on an isolated island.) And by shifting the parameters for how the Force works, some have said 'The Last Jedi' is, as Variety claimed, 'making stuff up as it goes along.'For its part, Disney has sensed the tremors of backlash.'Rian Johnson, the cast, Lucasfilm, they've delivered an experience that is totally 'Star Wars' but at the same time is filled with things that are unexpected and new,' said Hollis. 'And in that unexpected and new, it's going to have people really talking.'Even the cast of 'The Last Jedi' acknowledged they were surprised by the direction mapped out by Johnson, who wrote and directed. 'What Rian came up with, I was stunned,' Hamill told The Associated Press earlier this year. Said Daisy Ridley of first reading the script: 'I was going, 'Uh, I'm not sure about this. It just took us all a second to be like, 'OK, this is where the story is heading.'But Johnson made 'The Last Jedi' disruptive by design.'Having been a Star Wars fan myself for the past 40 years, I know intimately how passionate they are about it and how everyone has stuff they love and hate in every single movie,' said Johnson. 'That takes the pressure off a little bit just thinking, 'Ok, there's going to be stuff that everyone likes, there's going to be stuff that people don't like and it's going to be a mixture.''___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
  • Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have split as a couple after nearly five years.A spokeswoman for Patrick confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that the drivers are 'no longer in a relationship.'Patrick didn't attend the season-ending awards ceremony last month in Las Vegas with Stenhouse, who was honored for making NASCAR's playoffs in 2017. That led to speculation about the most high-profile couple in motorsports.Patrick and Stenhouse announced they were dating in early 2013. She confirmed that by telling the AP: 'I have a boyfriend, his name is Richard.'It was an unconventional pairing. They raced against each other weekly, and over the course of their relationship they clashed competitively, leading to post-race disagreements.Patrick is 35 and had been previously married before she began dating Stenhouse. He recently turned 30.She has made no secret of a desire to marry again, and revealed in a recent documentary directed by Hannah Storm she has frozen eggs in case she decides to have children one day.Patrick is retiring as a full-time driver and hopes to end her career next year by racing in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. It's an outgoing celebration she has dubbed the 'Danica Double.'Her 90-day fitness plan book 'Pretty Intense' will be released next week.___More AP auto racing: www.racing.ap.org
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs wants to buy the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, and NBA star Stephen Curry wants in on it, too, according to the New York Daily News. If Combs does buy the team, he said he’ll immediately sign Colin Kaepernick as quarterback. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has remained unsigned the entire season since opting out of his contract earlier this year. >> Read more trending news  Kaeprnick’s protests in the form of kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to racism and social injustice in the United States has been suspected in a factor in his unsigned status. The legendary rapper and producer made his intentions known Sunday on social media shortly after Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced he plans to sell the team in the wake of a sexual harassment allegations against him. First came Combs’ tweet: “I would like to buy the @Panthers. Spread the word. Retweet!” Soon after, Curry, the Golden State Warriors All-Star and back-to-back NBA MVP, who grew up in North Carolina and played college basketball at Davidson College, tweeted, “I want in.” The hip-hop mogul Combs then posted a video to his Instagram account that was viewed more than 600,000 times in the first 11 hours it was posted. Judging by the comments on his post, Carolina fans seemed to be on board with Diddy becoming the NFL’s first African-American owner. “There are no majority African-American NFL owners. Let’s make history,” Diddy wrote. Some fans weren’t as keen on the idea of bringing in Kaepernick to compete for the starting job, as Combs said on his Instagram post. The Panthers already have Cam Newton as their starting quarterback. Carolina fans made it clear in the comments section that they’re good with Newton. Diddy’s plan to sign Kaepernick may not be needed. An hour after Curry’s tweet, Kaepernick himself said he wanted to be part of ownership plans, too.  “I want in on the ownership group! Let’s make it happen,” he tweeted. Combs has had his eye on buying an NFL team for a few years now. In 2013, he told Bloomberg, “I have aspirations to become — it will happen — to become the first African-American majority owner. Not having a small stake but actually owning an NFL team. I think it’s time for that. A majority of the players in the NFL are African-American, but there are no African-American owners. So that’s one of my dreams.” The Daily News reported that the Panthers are currently valued at $1 billion, while Diddy’s net worth sits at $820 million, according to Forbes. It’s also common for professional sports franchises to fetch notably higher prices than their listed values, meaning Diddy may need several investors to make his NFL ownership dream come true. Still, net worth is an estimate, and doesn’t mean Diddy has that amount or if he makes more or less. Curry, still in his prime as a player and having a net worth of $47.3 million, certainly makes a lot of sense as a partner in a potential deal.
  • John Skipper, the president of ESPN, resigned from his position Monday citing a substance addiction problem, according to the sports network. >> Read more trending news The network announced that former ESPN president and executive chairman George Bodenheimer will serve as acting chair for the next 90 days. Bodenheimer worked for ESPN from 1981 to 2014.
  • John Skipper, president of the sprawling ESPN sports network, said Monday that he is resigning to treat a substance abuse problem.Skipper's sudden announcement will force the Walt Disney Co.-owned network to search for new leadership at a time of retrenchment, with the company losing subscribers due to cord-cutters and working to boost its digital output to follow the migration of young sports fans to their smartphones.The 61-year-old executive, who has worked at ESPN since 1997 and has led the company since 2012, said he's struggled for many years with substance addiction but gave no details of his specific problem. He said he had concluded that now is the time to deal with it.'I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down,' he said. 'As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.'The sports network said Skipper's predecessor, George Bodenheimer, has agreed to serve as acting head of the company for the next 90 days.Disney Co. chief executive Robert Iger said he wishes Skipper well during a challenging time. 'I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family,' Iger said.There was no public indication that this was coming. Earlier this year, Skipper signed a contract extension to keep him at ESPN through 2021 and last week spoke about the company's plans in New York at the Sports Video Group Summit. He told the group of industry experts that ESPN's growing digital audience is making up for the loss of television viewers.He also called hundreds of ESPN's on-air talent to a summit last week at company headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, to talk about the business. ESPN has laid off personnel this year to deal with new economic realities.Disney's proposed purchase of several of 21st Century Fox's assets, if approved, is likely to add the 22 Fox-owned regional sports networks to ESPN's portfolio.ESPN is also not escaping the current focus on sexual misconduct. ESPN quickly canceled a show earlier this year produced in partnership with Barstool Sports after some questions were raised about content, and the Boston Globe reported last week about several current and former employees describing a 'locker room culture' at the network that is hostile to women.Skipper received public support online from several media figures, among them ESPN's anchor Jemele Hill — who Skipper suspended earlier this year for violating the network's social media policy. Hill had criticized President Donald Trump and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in tweets.'John Skipper is one of the finest people I've ever worked for,' Hill tweeted.___Associated Press Business Writer Tali Arbel in New York contributed to this report.
  • George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012 and was acquitted of second-degree murder the next year, is now threatening JAY-Z. According to celebrity gossip site The Blast, Zimmerman himself says that he is being harassed by production crews working on a 6-part documentary on the late Martin. In March, Variety reported that JAY-Z was a partner with the Weinstein Company on the project as part of a first-look deal with the production company. The documentary, titled, “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story,” will look at Martin’s life, the shooting by Zimmerman and and the 2013 acquittal. >> Read more trending news  Zimmerman claims that, two weeks ago, a production team led by Michael Gasparro, who is executive producing the doc, made visits to his parents’ and uncle’s houses in Florida. Zimmerman says the crews “harassed” his family but would not say how.  “He also would not answer whether his family agreed at any point to go on camera with the producers,” The Blast reported. Zimmerman is threatening to “beat JAY-Z” and feed him to an alligator because of the alleged harassment from production crews. “I know how to handle people who (expletive) with me, I have since February 2012,” Zimmerman told The Blast. Zimmerman claims that his ex-wife was paid to participate in the doc, and says producers would not pay his parents or family members.  JAY-Z hasn’t responded to Zimmerman’s threat, but Snoop Dogg did in an Instagram post Saturday.  “If one hair on Jay’s hair is touched that’s when the revolution will be televised. We one,” he wrote.
  • The lead singer of popular South Korean boy band SHINee died on Monday, police said, in a possible suicide.Kim Jong-hyun, better known by the stage name Jonghyun, was found unconscious at a residence hotel in Seoul and was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, Seoul police said.Police said Kim's sister told them that the singer sent her text messages such as 'Final farewell' and 'I've had difficulties' before his death.Police said they have not yet determined whether he killed himself.Yonhap news agency said authorities found burned coal briquettes, which produce carbon monoxide, in a frying pan in Kim's hotel room.Kim debuted in 2008 as the main singer of SHINee, and cultivated a career as both a group member and a solo singer-song writer. His last public appearance was at a solo concert titled 'Inspired' on Dec. 9-10 in Seoul, and he was scheduled to hold concerts with SHINee members in Tokyo and Osaka in February, Yonhap said.South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates among developed countries. A string of high-profile figures, including a former president and business executives, have killed themselves in recent years.
  • Tavis Smiley has defended himself from allegations he had sexual relationships with subordinates and created an abusive workplace environment, denying any wrongdoing and saying PBS made a mistake by suspending him from his talk show. PBS almost immediately fired back, saying he 'needs to get his story straight.'He told ABC's 'Good Morning America' Monday that he's never coerced anyone into a relationship but has had consensual relationships in the workplace. He said those relationships weren't forbidden by the company he owns and he claims he never promoted or fired anyone based on their relationship with him.'I've never groped. I've never coerced, I've never exposed myself inappropriately to anyone in 30 years,' Smiley said. 'I've made mistakes — I'm human. I'm not perfect. But it doesn't rise to the level of wrongful termination.'Smiley said Monday that he applauds women coming forward to share their sexual assault and harassment experiences 'to lead us in a conversation about how to create healthy workspaces.'At the same time, he said 'I want to make sure we don't lose all sense of nuance and proportionality in this conversation, because if we do then people end up being guilty simply by accusation.'PBS responded in a matter of hours, saying Smiley's acknowledgement of multiple relationships contradicted his previous statements.'Tavis Smiley needs to get his story straight,' it said in a statement, which also promised more accusations: 'Additional allegations are continuing to come to light since last week's announcement.'PBS also derided Smiley's claim that he applauds women who have come forward, pointing out that Smiley's company hinders such actions by requiring former and current employees to sign non-disclosure agreements. 'Witnesses who have bravely come forward to speak with the independent investigators retained by PBS report a fear of retribution for speaking out,' it said.Smiley's career took a huge hit last week when PBS said it was suspending him following an independent investigation by a law firm that uncovered 'multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.'Then fallout was swift: Walmart, a sponsor, cut ties with him and live producer Mills Entertainment pulled out of backing Smiley's upcoming theatrical show that was to focus on the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life. Hay House, which distributes the Smiley Books imprint, said all Smiley projects were 'on hold' pending an internal review.As to accusations he created a verbally abusive and threatening work place, Smiley admitted many of his TV and radio projects are intense at times but said 'I'm not an angry black man and this notion of a hostile environment just doesn't fit.' He added that no complaints about him have ever been raised.Smiley's suspension comes weeks after PBS cut ties with anchor and talk show host Charlie Rose, citing 'extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior' by him toward women at his PBS talk show. The actions against Smiley and Rose follow dozens of firings and suspensions of prominent men who have been accused of sexual misconduct or harassment.

News

  • A vacant building in Midtown collapsed after a car crashed into it Tuesday afternoon, Atlanta fire officials said.  The crash occurred in the 400 block of Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta police Officer Donald Hannah said.  “The driver of the vehicle is alert, conscious and breathing with a possible head injury,” Hannah said.  Hannah said the building has partially collapsed.  Police have not released details on what led the car to crash into the building.  Atlanta fire officials are investigating the crash.  Ponce de Leon Avenue to Boulevard is blocked, Atlanta fire officials said. No one else was injured in the crash.  — Please return to AJC.com for updates In other news:
  • An Amtrak train derailed in Washington state Monday, killing at least six people and injuring  dozens of others, according to authorities. >> Read more trending news  Amtrak Cascades Train 501, carrying 78 passengers and five crew members, jumped the track near Tacoma in Pierce County, Washington, plunging off an overpass onto the I-5 freeway below, according to Amtrak officials. Amtrak has provided a phone number for people to call with questions about family or friends who may have been on the train: 800-523-9101. At least 70 people were taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center and at least 20 were transported to the Madigan Army Medical Emergency Center. The main phone number for St. Joseph’s is 253-426-4101. You can inquire about a loved one at this number by providing the name of the person. >> Related:  LIVE UPDATES: At least 70 sent to hospital, 6 dead after train derails on I-5 Madigan has two numbers listed for patient admissions: 253-968-3827 and 253-968-3829.
  • Nick Chubb and Sony Michel had a dream of bringing a championship to Georgia when they decided almost exactly one year ago to return for their senior seasons.They've already helped lead No. 3 Georgia to the Southeastern Conference championship. Now the two tailbacks want to keep dreaming as Georgia has a Rose Bowl date with No. 2 Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff.'It couldn't have been any better,' Michel said Monday. 'We put a great season together.'It's difficult to imagine Georgia winning the SEC title in coach Kirby Smart's second season and being part of the playoff if not for the decisions by Chubb, Michel and outside linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy to bypass the NFL draft and return for their senior seasons.It was an important boost for Smart and his staff following a disappointing 8-5 finish last year.Smart said the impact of those decisions was 'probably more than they have been given credit.'I think the greatest impact it had was it gave the younger players ... confidence in the regime,' Smart said. 'It showed them that, hey, man, these guys have only been with this staff one year, but they're willing to stay.'Chubb and Michel have followed in the footsteps of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and formed one of the best running back tandems in school history. Michel needs only 52 yards rushing against Oklahoma to give Georgia its first pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.And there are more waiting in the wings.D'Andre Swift, Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien have combined for 1,155 yards rushing. That has helped Georgia set a school record with 3,426 yards rushing.'We had a vision first and after that you kind of have to work at it and reach those goals and that's kind of what we did,' Chubb said. 'We came here and we worked hard, we worked very hard in the offseason to get to where we are.'Asked about the vision, Chubb said, 'You want to win championships.'Georgia beat Auburn 28-7 on Dec. 2 for its first SEC championship since 2005. Even Chubb acknowledged it may have been difficult at this time last year to have a vision of contending for the national championship.'You kind of see it,' he said. 'It was a little blurry but you have to work for it.'This will be only the second Rose Bowl appearance for the Bulldogs.And the last time Georgia played in the game, it was led by perhaps its all-time most celebrated running back duo.Frankie Sinkwich and Charley Trippi helped Georgia beat UCLA 9-0 in the Rose Bowl following the 1942 season.Sinkwich won the Heisman Trophy in 1942 but was slowed by sprained ankles in the Rose Bowl. Trippi ran for 115 yards in Georgia's win. He was named the game's outstanding player. Trippi was the Heisman runner-up, behind Army's Glenn Davis, in 1946.Trippi, who turned 96 last week and lives in Athens, says playing in the Rose Bowl was one of his biggest highlights of his college career, which was interrupted by his service in World War II.'Of course playing in the Rose Bowl was a great thrill,' Trippi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday. 'Anybody who plays college football loves that opportunity. It so happened I was playing on a good football team and it made my job a lot easier.'Trippi said Chubb and Michel are 'good football players' and added 'That's why they're there.'Chubb's 1,175 yards rushing this season have left him second on the SEC career records, behind former Georgia Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. Chubb and Michel rank second and third, respectively, on the school's career rushing list.NOTES: Smart said LB Natrez Patrick and backup wide receiver Jayson Stanley remain eligible to practice with the team following their arrests on Dec. 2. Patrick's misdemeanor marijuana charge was dropped last week. Stanley negotiated an agreement to plead guilty to possession of marijuana of less than an ounce and speeding, while a DUI drug charge was dismissed. Smart wouldn't comment on the players' status for the Rose Bowl and said discipline will be handled 'internally.' ... OLB coach Kevin Sherrer, expected to be named defensive coordinator at Tennessee, will remain with Georgia through the playoff. 'When he got the opportunity he got, which I'm really proud of him, first thing he said he wanted to finish out right, and we want him to,' Smart said. Tennessee has not announced the hire.___More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is back up and running, but it will be days before all the effects of Sunday’s blackout are finally resolved. More than 400 flights were canceled Monday because of the massive power outage that left the world’s busiest airport in the dark for nearly 12 hours Sunday.  “We’re extremely sorry for what it did to disrupt their lives,” Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers told Channel 2's Aaron Diamant on Monday.  We’re sitting down one-on-one with Bowers to talk about what is being done in light of Sunday’s outage for a live report, on Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m. The unprecedented airport-wide blackout forced more than 1,000 flight cancellations Sunday and left tens of thousands of passengers stranded in Atlanta and around the world.  Georgia Power said they are still investigating the incident. They released video of inside the service tunnel where the fire occurred that caused the power outage.  This is NEW VIDEO from @GeorgiaPower inside @ATLairport service tunnel where crews are working on repairs after fire caused massive Sunday blackout.@wsbtv pic.twitter.com/XcnG33EO5M — Aaron Diamant (@AaronDiamantWSB) December 18, 2017 “We’re extremely sorry for what it did to disrupt their lives.” We’re getting answers from @GeorgiaPower CEO Paul Bowers about Sunday’s crippling outage at @ATLairport. What the company knows so far and the next steps...at 5 @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/9EpTgxREuL — Aaron Diamant (@AaronDiamantWSB) December 18, 2017
  • After maintaining his innocence for more than a quarter of a century, Reginald Clemons admitted Monday that he took part in the rape and killing of two sisters who were pushed from an abandoned St. Louis bridge into the Mississippi River.Clemons spent 22 years on death row before the Missouri Supreme Court threw out the conviction in 2015 after finding that prosecutors suppressed evidence that police had beaten a confession out of him. His case drew support from prisoners' rights organizations and legal groups.But on Monday, he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of rape and one count of first-degree robbery. Under a plea agreement, Clemons, 46, was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences.Asked by Circuit Judge Rex Burlison if the allegations against him were true, Clemons replied 'Yes, your honor,' according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.'There's no happy ending for this family that has been through so much, but I was relieved that he finally owned up to what he did,' former St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, who made the decision to re-try the case, said.Julie Kerry, 20, and her 19-year-old sister, Robin, were visiting the abandoned Chain of Rocks bridge with a male cousin, Thomas Cummins, late on the night of April 4, 1991. They encountered Clemons, who was 19 at the time, along with his cousin, Antonio Richardson, and two friends, Marlin Gray and Daniel Winfrey.Clemons and his friends robbed Cummins of money and a watch, and they took turns raping the Kerry sisters. They then led the three through a manhole to a substructure of the bridge, from which they pushed the sisters into the river and forced Cummins to jump.Julie Kerry's body was found three weeks later, 150 miles downriver. Robin Kerry's body was never recovered. Cummins was able to swim to shore.Winfrey received a 30-year sentence in exchange for his cooperation and has since been paroled. Gray was executed in 2005. Richardson's death sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole.The sisters' mother, Ginny Kerry, was among those at Monday's hearing.'I'm glad it's over,' she told the Post-Dispatch. 'And I'm glad he's finally admitted he's guilty. I'm tired of all the lies.'Joyce said Ginny Kerry attended every hearing for Clemons, each time being forced to re-hear the horrors her daughters experienced.'I can't imagine a worse torture for a family to go through,' Joyce said.Clemons' attorney, public defender Brian Horneyer, didn't immediately reply to a message seeking comment.Clemons was convicted in 1993 and sentenced to death. But he maintained his innocence, and many believed him. A 'Justice for Reggie' campaign updated supporters on developments in his court case and raised money for his defense.At a 2012 hearing, Clemons testified he was beaten so badly during an interrogation that he admitted to the crime just so the beatings would stop. But asked 32 times by a prosecutor about the events that night, Clemons answered, 'Under the advice of counsel I plead the Fifth.'In 2015, a 'special master' appointed by the state Supreme Court found no direct evidence that Clemons didn't participate in the killings, but ruled that procedural errors in the original trial merited a retrial.
  • Republicans rallied to GOP Sen. Bob Corker's defense Monday, rejecting a report that the Tennessee lawmaker stealthily tucked a provision into the massive tax package to benefit himself financially and then reversed course to back the bill.Democrats were unrelenting as they howled about the 'Corker kickback' and argued the tax benefit for real estate developers boosts the wealthy — President Donald Trump, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Corker among them — at the expense of average Americans.In a letter on Monday, the GOP chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said that he — not Corker — was the author of the provision and that it was hardly a brand-new creation dropped into the final version of the bill. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, outlined the legislative path for the provision, starting with its unveiling Nov. 2 by his House counterpart, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas.Calling himself 'disgusted,' Hatch said it was 'categorically false' that the provision was 'airdropped' into the bill and Corker was responsible.'It takes a great deal of imagination — and likely no small amount of partisanship — to argue that a provision that has been public for over a month,' debated on the House floor and included in a House-passed bill 'is somehow a covert and last-minute addition to the conference report,' Hatch said.Corker said in a statement late Sunday that 'he is not a member of the tax-writing committee and had no involvement in crafting the legislation.' Corker said he requested no specific tax provisions throughout the monthslong debate and had no knowledge of the real estate provision in question. He pressed Hatch for details on the process, prompting the chairman's letter hours later.Corker's office declined further comment on Monday.A story in the International Business Times, an online publication, said Corker 'suddenly switched his vote to yes' after GOP leaders added the provision, which could boost Corker's real estate income. The story was co-written by David Sirota, a former Democratic political strategist who has worked for former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.House and Senate negotiators finalized the tax bill last week and included a version of the provision to benefit the real estate industry in the form of pass-through companies, which are businesses in which the profits double as the owners' personal income.These types of companies can reduce their taxable income by 20 percent, but the Senate bill had only permitted them to do so if they paid wages to workers. The final bill enables the deduction for owners of certain kinds of property as well, a tax break that would presumably help Trump, Kushner and other officials and policymakers with real estate holdings.Corker owns real estate and development companies. His estimated net worth was more than $69 million in 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzes campaign and financial data. Corker's most recent financial disclosure form listed a building in Chattanooga, Tennessee, worth $5 million to $25 million.He opposed the original Senate bill, complaining it would add to the nation's debt and 'deepen the debt burden on future generations.'But Corker said Friday that while the final version of the bill negotiated by House and Senate Republicans 'is far from perfect,' it represents 'a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make U.S. businesses domestically more productive and internationally more competitive.'Corker's announcement made Senate passage of the GOP tax package more likely. GOP leaders are trying to muscle the bill through Congress this week, handing Trump his first major legislative victory by Christmas.'This is the quintessential picking of winners and losers,' David Kamin, a law professor at New York University and former Obama administration official, said of the provision.Kamin said this tax break could create an incentive for companies to hold more property and assets while employing fewer workers.House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday used the term 'Corker kickback' as she criticized the provision, calling it another example of Republicans working 'to enrich their donors and themselves' in the tax legislation.'Republicans are racing to pass the bill before the public can discover all the giveaways, but the American people already recognize the tax scam for the daylight robbery it is,' she said in a statement Monday.Big banks, wealthy real estate developers and other special interests are 'already salivating' at the opportunity to exploit massive loopholes included in the GOP bill, Pelosi said.Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, said the real estate provision was added as GOP leaders worked 'to cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed, at the same time maintaining the integrity of the largest tax cuts we're going to be seeing since 1986.'The real estate provision 'is just one piece of a 1,000-page bill which is going to grow the American economy. And what we are seeing is that American corporations and businesses are not competitive in the global economy because we have the highest tax rate in the industrialized world,' Cornyn said Sunday on ABC's 'This Week.'___Associated Press writer Joshua Boak contributed to this report.