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WNBA Players Continue To Protest, Stage Media Blackout

Tina Charles and the rest of the WNBA are sending a very clear message. 

After getting fined for wearing clothing that expressed support for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Black Lives Matter, and the slain Dallas police officers, the two teams look to continue to voice their opinions on the subject. After the New York Liberty played a game against the Indiana Fever yesterday (July 21), both teams decided to stage a media blackout after the game.

How the blackout worked was when media members entered the Liberty locker room, the team addressed reporters as a unit instead of individually. They informed them that no one would be answering any basketball questions, but would be happy to talk about the issues they’ve been protesting. Star players Tina Charles, Tanisha Wright, and Swin Cash spoke on behalf of the team, and presented a serious explanation of their actions.

“We feel like America has a problem with the police brutality that’s going on with black lives around here, and we just want to use our voices and use our platform to advocate for that,” said Wright. “Just because someone says ‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn’t mean that other lives don’t matter. People put out this imaginary ‘black lives only matter’ whenever people say, ‘Black lives matter.’ What we’re saying is, ‘Black lives matter, too.’ Period.”

“We really would appreciate if people stopped making our support of Black Lives Matter, an issue that is so critical in our society right now, as us not supporting the police,” added Cash. “There’s a lot of women in this room right now, in the WNBA, who have family members who are in law enforcement... People need to understand that it’s not mutually exclusive. You can support both things.”

You can watch the full video of their statements here:

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Courtney B. Vance Remembers 'Preacher's Wife' Director Penny Marshall

Hollywood is mourning the loss of director Penny Marshall after she passed away due to complications with diabetes on Dec. 17. In commemoration of her life and contributions to cinema, actor Courtney B. Vance remembered his pleasant experience working with Marshall on the 1996 blockbuster The Preacher's Wife.

Vance claimed that he was "tremendously blessed" to have worked with Marshall on the film. The actor starred in the remake of the 1947 film The Bishop's Wife alongside Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington.

"The experience of working with Penny on that film was anything but typical, and marked the beginning of a long, beautiful friendship filled with lots of memories, joy, and laughter," he said in a statement to The Los Angeles Times. "You see, Penny was funny. I mean, absolutely hysterical! Laughter was always a big part of being in her world."

Vance also recalled a hilarious moment on set of the movie during an ice skating scene in New York City. "One of my fondest memories that is vintage Penny was, rather than shoot an ice skating scene from The Preacher’s Wife in New York City, where we were already on location, and in one of the coldest winters on record, Penny decided to pick up the entire cast and crew to take us to Maine," Vance remembered. "It was 20 [degrees] below when we arrived, but ironically shot up to 60 degrees the next day. Yet it wasn’t the weather that drew Penny to Maine. The place where we set up was home to some of the best antique shopping — a favorite pastime for Penny — and everyone had a wonderful time on that trip."

He continued: "That was my friend, Penny Marshall, a woman who loved her life and all the people who were a part of it. And we loved our Penny."

The original score for The Preacher's Wife earned an Oscar nomination and its soundtrack became the best-selling gospel album of all time. In additional to the beloved holiday film, Penny Marshall also directed major films like 1992's A League of Their Own. Actors from the film including Tom Hanks and Madonna have also shared their condolences on social media in light of Marshall's passing.

READ MORE: 'Moonlight,' 'American Crime Story' Garner Golden Globe Nods

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Ne-Yo Is Interested In Working With H.E.R. And BTS

Despite generational gaps and quarrels in hip-hop circles, R&B figures have kept their hearts and minds open about the next coming of vocalists, including Ne-Yo who recently praised the talents of H.E.R. and uber-popular boy band BTS.

Recently speaking with Hollywood Life at the 67th Miss Universe Pageant, the singer-songwriter gave props to BTS, who recently took home awards at the Billboard Music Awards and iHeart Radio Awards respectively. While calling them "next level," he added his interest in working with the band.

"Oh I would love to [work with BTS," he said. "In order to maintain my standing in music I got to embrace the new generation. I have never understood the concept of a person that didn’t. It’s like, ‘Well I will do what I do, and they do what they do!’ No, you did what you did, and they’re the next level of what you did and you gotta… You gotta be a part of that if you want to be a part of the music industry."

He also gave a nod to H.E.R., who earned her first batch of Grammy nominations this month.

“So yeah, shout out to BTS and the BTS’s of the world and artists like H.E.R. who is really making major moves in R&B, in the R&B space," he said. "Everybody that is doing music that means quality as opposed to trend… You know that is what I look out for!”

Considering Ne-Yo is also popular in the songwriting community as much as he is with performing, perhaps we'll see him pen a couple songs for these new acts on the block.

READ MORE: Eric Bellinger & Ne-Yo Reunite For 'Dirty Dancing' Music Video

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Senate Passes Criminal Justice Bill Benefitting Federal Prisoners

Bipartisanship was felt throughout the Senate floor Tuesday (Dec. 18) when a landmark criminal law reform bill was passed to help change the scope of federal crime.

NBC News reports the bill, known as the "First Step Act" was passed with a final vote of 87-12. The House will visit the bill at a later date but also passed a similar version of the bill in May with a mixed margin of 360-59. The bill, created with the help of Democrats, Republicans, activists and organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union, will help decrease recidivism rates among federal prisoners who make up a reported 10 percent of America's prison population.

Factors in the bill will include early-release programs and reset mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders in an effort to minimize overcrowding. The New York Times notes certain programs will also allow prisoners to earn time credits to shorten their sentences and allow options for home confinement.

READ MORE: Cory Booker Introduces Bill To Legalize Marijuana

Sen. Cory Booker, who has been vocal in the fight for prison reform, shared the importance of the bill.

“Our criminal justice system, as it stands right now, is an affront to who we say we are as a nation,” Booker said Tuesday. “We profess, we actually swear an oath to the flag, that we are a nation of liberty and justice for all but our criminal justice system violates those values.”

The bill also prohibits shackling of pregnant inmates and the solitary confinement used for juveniles. President Donald Trump shared his support of the bill on Twitter.

"This will keep our communities safer, and provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it. In addition to everything else, billions of dollars will be saved. I look forward to signing this into law!” he tweeted.

....This will keep our communities safer, and provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it. In addition to everything else, billions of dollars will be saved. I look forward to signing this into law!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018

Once signed into law, thousands of inmates will be eligible for the programs and possible sentence reductions.

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