Pop diva Lady Gaga apologized Thursday for a 2013 musical collaboration with R&B star R. Kelly — who has been accused of having sex with children — and said she plans to pull the song from circulation.
“I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner,” she posted on Twitter.
“I intend to remove this song off of iTunes and other streaming platforms and will not be working with him again,” Lady Gaga wrote.
The release — titled “Do What U Want (With My Body)” — features R. Kelly — who denies any wrongdoing — singing the lyrics: “Do what I want, do what I want with your body/Back of the club, taking shots, gettin’ naughty/No invitations, it’s a private party.”
The post drew praise on Twitter, with users tweeting messages of support such as “We all stand by you! I love you!” and “You did not owe anyone an explanation Gaga. You are a beautiful person, with a beautiful soul that has saved and inspired so many people.”
Gaga’s apology comes amid renewed attention on allegations of sexual misconduct against Kelly, which were highlighted in a six-hour documentary series about the singer.
In the Lifetime cable network show titled “Surviving R. Kelly” which premiered earlier this month, backup singers alleged sexual relations between him and three girls under the age of 16, including 15-year-old star Aaliyah, who died in 2001 in a plane crash.
The allegations against the 51-year-old singer, best known for his hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” are subject to criminal prosecution in several US states including Illinois, where Kelly lived as a resident of Chicago.
In May of last year, the online streaming platform Spotify removed the artist’s music from its playlists after the Time’s Up movement for gender equality urged the music industry to dump him over persistent sex abuse allegations.
But the service ultimately backtracked on a policy that reduced exposure for artists accused of personal misconduct, after criticism that the leading streaming platform was hurting musicians on flimsy evidence.
Kelly pushed back against the allegations in a 19-minute song released last year, in which he said he was himself abused at age 14.
Though it was titled “I Admit,” the marathon song was nonetheless heavier on denials than acknowledgment as the star vented frustration over the stream of allegations against him.
“I never thought it would come to this, to be the most disrespected artist,” Kelly sang.
Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta has apologised after posting a photo on social media with two people in blackface as part of Epiphany celebrations.
The 34-year-old superstar who currently plays at Japan’s Vissel Kobe had no intention “to upset anyone by displaying that photo,” according to a statement by his agency sent to AFP on Wednesday.
“He would like to apologise to those people who may have felt offended,” the statement said.
Iniesta’s picture on Twitter and Instagram posted on Sunday showed his family and a group of people in costumes, taking part in the Three Kings Day celebration also known as Epiphany, which is widely celebrated in Spain.
The midfielder, who lifted 32 major trophies and made 674 appearances for Catalan giants Barca, joined Vissel Kobe in May, calling his J-League move an “important career challenge”.
The Spain icon’s decision to choose Vissel arguably represents Japanese football’s biggest transfer coup, with many top players now moving to cash-rich Chinese clubs in the twilight of their careers.
It also came as a timely boost to the J-League, which used to attract luminaries such as Brazilian great Zico and former England star Gary Lineker when it began in 1993, but has struggled to attract marquee players in recent years.
Iniesta — who famously scored Spain’s winning goal against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final — had been top of the wishlist of Vissel owner Hiroshi Mikitani.
The billionaire businessman is also the founder and CEO of Rakuten, Barcelona’s main sponsor, and was heavily involved in the deal that brought Iniesta to Japan.
American basketball star LeBron James has apologized for posting controversial song lyrics with the phrase “getting that Jewish money” on Instagram, where he boasts over 45 million followers.
“We been getting that Jewish Money, Everything is kosher,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward posted in an Instagram story over the weekend, reciting lyrics from rapper 21 Savages’ song “asmr” while wearing a Lakers sweatshirt.
Darren Rovell, a sports business analyst who formerly worked for ESPN, called attention to the post’s problematic use of stereotypes painting Jewish people as wealthy and tightfisted.
“Surprised LeBron, who makes very few mistakes, put this out. Does quoting lyrics from a song absolve the person quoting from the responsibility behind the words?” Rovell tweeted. “I’d argue no, especially with a following of 45 million.”
Speaking to ESPN following the Lakers’ Sunday loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, James said “it definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.”
“Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone,” the 33-year-old basketball great said. “That’s not why I chose to share that lyric,” adding that he regularly posts song lyrics.
“That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the by-product of it,” he continued. “So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies.”
The NBA does not plan to fine James over the post, ESPN said.
James — who regularly speaks out on politics and sociocultural issues — also made waves over the weekend for comparing the US professional basketball and football leagues.
“In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality,” James said during Friday’s episode of his HBO show “The Shop.”
He then lauded the NBA’s commissioner Adam Silver for letting players express themselves.
“It doesn’t even matter if Adam agrees with what we are saying, he at least wants to hear us out,” James said.
“As long as we are doing it in a very educational, nonviolent way, then he’s absolutely okay with it.”
The NFL in recent years has grappled with protests from players kneeling during the playing of the US national anthem, as part of a movement calling attention to issues of racial injustice and social inequality.
South Korea’s defence ministry on Wednesday broke decades of silence to apologise for martial law troops raping women including teenagers when they crushed a pro-democracy uprising in 1980.
Defence minister Jeong Kyeong-doo issued a public apology for the inflicting of “unspeakable, deep scars and pain” on “innocent women” who were raped and subjected to “sex torture” by soldiers cracking down on protests against a military coup by General Chun Doo-hwan.
Demonstrators in the southern city of Gwangju and passers-by were beaten to death, tortured, bayonetted and disembowelled or riddled with bullets.
Conservatives in the South continue to condemn the uprising as a Communist-inspired rebellion.
According to official figures, more than 200 people were left dead or missing, while activists say the toll may have been three times as much.
Chun’s troops were believed to have also carried out widespread sexual assaults against women but the issue has long been swept under the carpet as traumatised victims remained reluctant to come forward.
The mood changed following the election of liberal current President Moon Jae-in, who made uncovering the truth about Gwangju a campaign issue, and when one of the victims was emboldened by South Korea’s growing #MeToo movement.
Protestor Kim Sun-ok told a television interviewer in May that she had been raped by an interrogator in 1980, prompting authorities to launch an investigation that confirmed 17 cases.
“The investigation has confirmed rapes, sexual assaults and sex tortures were committed by martial law troops,” the defence minister said in a statement.
Victims included teenagers and young women, including “young students and a pregnant woman who were not even taking part in the protests”, he told a press conference.
“On behalf of the government and military, I bow deeply and offer my words of apology for the unspeakable, deep scars and pain inflicted on innocent victims,” Jeong said.
But Kim rejected the apology.
“I didn’t listen to it because of my traumatic experience,” she told AFP. “But unless those responsible are brought to justice and duly punished, a million apologies would be meaningless.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a national apology to thousands of victims of institutional sex abuse Monday, admitting the state utterly failed to stop “evil, dark crimes” committed over decades.
“This was done by Australians to Australians, enemies in our midst, enemies in our midst,” Morrison said in an emotional address to parliament, designed as a belated apology to the 15,000 known survivors of child abuse.
“As a nation, we failed them, we forsook them, and that will always be our shame,” he said, recounting abuse that a government inquiry has shown was rife in schools, churches, orphanages, sports clubs and other institutions across the country over decades.
Morrison’s voice cracked and trailed off as he recounted a history of exploitation, cover-ups and state failure. He declared a new national credo for future allegations: “We believe you.”
The state apology comes after a five-year Royal Commission that detailed harrowing child sex abuse claims involving once well-trusted institutions.
“Today, we say sorry, to the children we failed. Sorry. To the parents whose trust was betrayed and who have struggled to pick up the pieces. Sorry. To the whistleblowers, who we did not listen to. Sorry,” Morrison said.
“To the spouses, partners, wives, husbands, children, who have dealt with the consequences of the abuse, cover-ups and obstruction. Sorry. To generations past and present. Sorry.”
In parliament, lawmakers stood for a moment of silence following the remarks, as hundreds of survivors looked on or watched in official events across the country.
Normal parliamentary business, a session of prime minister’s questions, was suspended in a bipartisan show of respect.
Outside the parliamentary chamber, relatives of victims wore tags with the names of departed daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, for whom the apology came too late.
After meeting some of the victims, Morrison told journalists “I’ve never felt such pain in one room, ever.”
A series of Australian institutions have already apologised for their failings, including Australian Catholic leaders who have lamented the church’s “shameful” history of child abuse and cover-ups.
According to the Royal Commission, seven per cent of Catholic priests in Australia were accused of abuse between 1950 and 2010, but the allegations were rarely investigated, with child victims ignored and even punished.
Some senior members of the church in Australia have been prosecuted in relation to the abuse.
Power of apology
The Australian government has previously issued formal apologies for the mistreatment of Aboriginal Australians, for forced adoptions and homosexual convictions.
There are growing calls for an apology for the military’s treatment of gay, bisexual and transgender personnel.
For many Australians, there will still be questions about how the child sex abuse and cover-ups took place.
And for some of the victims, the government’s atonement rings hollow — a step short of removing public funding for offending institutions, or far-ranging legal reforms.
At an event attended by the leaders of both major political parties, protestors shouted demands that the government do more to punish the guilty and dig into the past of other institutions like the military.
“Today’s apology to victims of institutional child abuse highlights the power of a public apology to heal past wounds,” said Professor Noah Riseman of the Australian Catholic University.
“But in the midst of today’s acknowledgement, there was a reminder that other victims of institutional trauma remain unacknowledged.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May backed calls Tuesday for her former foreign minister Boris Johnson to apologise for disparaging comments he made about Muslim women wearing burqas — but he branded his critics “ridiculous”.
May said his remarks “have clearly caused offence” and agreed with the chairman of her Conservative party, Brandon Lewis, who had asked Johnson to apologise.
“I do think that we all have to be very careful about the language and terms we use. And some of the terms Boris used describing people’s appearance obviously have offended,” the prime minister said.
“What’s important is do we believe people should have the right to practise their religion and, in the case of women and the burqa and niqab, to choose how they dress.”
In a column in Monday’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, Johnson said women wearing the full face veil looked like “bank robbers” or “letter-boxes”, prompting accusations of Islamophobia.
But the former top diplomat, who has a reputation for causing controversy and quit May’s cabinet last month in protest at her Brexit plan, refused to back down.
“It is ridiculous that these views are being attacked – we must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on difficult issues,” a source close to Johnson told reporters.
“We have to call it out. If we fail to speak up for liberal values then we are simply yielding ground to reactionaries and extremists.”
In his article, Johnson said he opposed a ban on face-covering veils, but added that it was “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter-boxes”.
His remarks drew condemnation from former colleagues.
Junior foreign minister Alistair Burt told the BBC: “I would never have made such a comment, I think there is a degree of offence in that, absolutely right.”
Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi, a former party chairwoman, accused Johnson of adopting the “dog-whistle” tactics of right-wing firebrand Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump’s former top aide.
Johnson has been in direct communication with Bannon in recent months, according to media reports.
Warsi said Johnson was hoping to attract support from right-wing Conservatives for an eventual leadership bid, and called for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party.
“It is crass and it must stop, and it must be condemned by the leadership right from the prime minister down.”
But Johnson received support from some quarters, with Conservative MP Nadine Dorries saying he “did not go far enough”.
“Any clothing a woman is forced to wear which hides both her beauty and her bruises should be banned and have no place in our liberal, progressive country,” she said.
Hollywood movie star Morgan Freeman apologized Thursday over reports that multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Sixteen people — eight of whom say they were victims — described to CNN a variety of troubling behaviour on production sets or on promotional tours over Morgan’s career.
“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” Freeman said in a statement.
“I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”
The cable television network quoted a young production assistant who says Morgan harassed her over a period of months in the summer of 2015, while she was working on his bank heist comedy “Going in Style.”
She accuses Freeman of touching her repeatedly, resting his hand on her lower back or rubbing her lower back without permission, and frequently making comments about her appearance.
The woman said Freeman, who turns 80 next week, continually tried to lift her skirt and kept asking if she was wearing underwear.
Actor Alan Arkin “made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn’t know what to say,” the woman said.
A senior member of the “Now You See Me” (2013) production staff told CNN team members knew “not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms,” or any fitted clothes, if Freeman was coming by them.
Freeman is the latest in a litany of Hollywood celebrities and other high-profile public figures accused of sexual misconduct since revelations about alleged serial abuser Harvey Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement last year.
He is also accused of staring at women’s breasts, asking a woman how she felt about sexual harassment and asking women to twirl for him.
The Kremlin has demanded an apology from British Prime Minister Theresa May and her government which implicated President Vladimir Putin in the nerve agent attack on a former double agent, saying this “idiocy has gone too far”
“Their theory will not be confirmed in any case because it is not possible to confirm it,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on a visit to Ankara Tuesday evening.
“And the British foreign minister who has made accusations against President Putin, (and) the British prime minister will have to somehow look their EU colleagues… in the eye,” Peskov added in televised remarks.
“And somehow they will have to apologise before the Russian side,” he added. “It will certainly be a long story, the idiocy has gone too far.”
Britain has said it is “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England using the Soviet-designed Novichok nerve agent, but Moscow has angrily denied any involvement.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has pointed the finger at Putin himself, saying it was “overwhelmingly likely” that the Kremlin leader ordered the attack.
The British military facility analysing the nerve agent said on Tuesday it could not prove the substance was made in Russia.
A public apology by Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg failed Thursday to quell outrage over the hijacking of personal data from millions of people, as critics demanded the social media giant go much further to protect privacy.
Speaking out for the first time about the harvesting of Facebook user data by a British firm linked to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, Zuckerberg admitted to betraying the trust of its two billion users, and promised to “step up.”
Vowing to stop data leaking to outside developers, and to give users more control over their information, Zuckerberg also said he was ready to testify before Congress and was not opposed to tougher regulation of internet titans.
But with pressure ratcheting up on the 33-year-old CEO over a scandal that has wiped around $60 billion (48 billion euros) off Facebook’s value, the initial response suggested his promise of self-regulation had failed to convince.
“Frankly I don’t think those changes go far enough,” Britain’s culture and digital minister Matt Hancock told the BBC.
“It shouldn’t be for a company to decide what is the appropriate balance between privacy and innovation and use of data,” he said.
“The big tech companies need to abide by the law and we are strengthening the law.”
In Brussels, European leaders were sending the same message as they prepared to push for tougher safeguards on personal data online, while Israel became the latest country to launch an investigation into Facebook.
The data scandal erupted at the weekend when a whistleblower revealed that British consultant Cambridge Analytica (CA) had created psychological profiles on 50 million Facebook users via a personality prediction app, developed by a researcher named Aleksandr Kogan.
The app was downloaded by 270,000 people, but also scooped up their friends’ data without consent — as was possible under Facebook’s rules at the time.
‘Breach of trust’
Facebook says it discovered last week that Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data as it certified — although the British firm denies wrongdoing.
“This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry that this happened,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with CNN, after ending his silence on the scandal in a blog post.
“Our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
With Facebook already under fire for allowing fake news to proliferate during the US election, Zuckerberg also said “we need to make sure that we up our game” ahead of midterm elections in November, in which American officials have warned Russia can be expected to meddle again.
Cambridge Analytica has maintained it did not use Facebook data in the Trump campaign, but its now-suspended CEO boasted in secret recordings that his company was deeply involved in the race.
And special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 race, is reportedly looking into the consultant’s role in the Trump effort.
‘Abused and misused’
Zuckerberg’s apology on Wednesday followed another day of damaging accusations against the world’s biggest social network, which now faces probes on both sides of the Atlantic.
The US Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating Facebook over the data scandal, while Britain’s information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, is seeking to determine whether it did enough to secure its data.
On Thursday, Israel’s privacy protection agency said it had informed Facebook of a probe into the Cambridge Analytica revelations and was also looking into “the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis.”
Meanwhile, EU leaders were tackling the Facebook data scandal and were due to pressing digital giants “to guarantee transparent practices and full protection of citizens’ privacy and personal data,” according to a draft summit statement obtained by AFP.
A movement to quit the social network has already gathered momentum — with the co-founder of the WhatsApp messaging service among those vowing to #deletefacebook — while a handful of lawsuits risk turning into class actions in a costly distraction for the company.
World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee described it as a “serious moment for the web’s future”.
“I can imagine Mark Zuckerberg is devastated that his creation has been abused and misused,” the British scientist wrote on Twitter.
“I would say to him: You can fix it. It won’t be easy but if companies work with governments, activists, academics and web users we can make sure platforms serve humanity.”