CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court has sentenced two women to six months in prison with labor for “inciting debauchery” in racy music videos.
The court says Thursday that the two singers, known as Bardis and Shakira, promoted indecency in their videos. Neither of the two videos contains nudity. Along with the singers, they include other women dancing in revealing clothing.
Bardis’ video, entitled “Hard to Get,” was viewed more than two million times on Youtube. Shakira’s video, called “Cumin,” was viewed nearly three million times.
In June, an Egyptian court sentenced three people to prison terms for a racy video titled “Hands Off,” also for “inciting debauchery.”
Racy music videos are common in Egypt, but authorities sometimes clamp down on singers seen as taking things too far.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An educational video game has been edited following a social media backlash over a scene depicting slaves being packed into a ship.
The creators of “Playing History: Slave Trade” removed a level Monday which featured black slave characters being dropped into a ship similar to the video game “Tetris.”
“Apologies to people who were offended by us using game mechanics to underline the point of how inhumane slavery was,” read a statement posted on the game’s page on Steam, an online store. “The goal was to enlighten and educate people — not to get sidetracked discussing a small 15-second part of the game.”
The scene was also removed from the official trailer for the title, which was originally released by Copenhagen-based developer Serious Games Interactive in 2013.
The game captured attention last week when it went on sale on Steam and was promptly chastised on social media for trivializing slavery with the stacking segment. Serious Games founder Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen took to Twitter to defend “Slave Trade” against the controversy before deleting his account Tuesday. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
“Slave Trade,” which is intended to teach children ages 11 to 14 about slavery in the 18th century, casts players for most of the game as a young slave steward named Putij, who serves on a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
While the “Tetris”-like slave-stacking level has been excised from the game, a talking mouse character who guides players still says at one point: “Slave traders didn’t look upon slaves as people but as a product. They therefore stacked the slaves on top of each other to get as many as possible shipped.”
Other titles in the Serious Games’ “Playing History” series include “Playing History: Vikings” and “Playing History: The Plague.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang
NEW YORK (AP) — The director of Taylor Swift’s new music video is defending the singer after some claimed she whitewashed her video based in Africa.
Joseph Kahn said that the video for “Wildest Dreams” includes black people and was produced by a black woman and edited by a black man.
“This is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950,” Khan said in a statement Wednesday. “There are black Africans in the video in a number of shots, but I rarely cut to crew faces outside of the director as the vast majority of screentime is Taylor and (actor) Scott (Eastwood).”
Kahn, who directed Swift’s “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood,” is Asian.
“Wildest Dreams” portrays Swift as an actress who falls in love with her co-star on the set. Black actors are seen in some of the clips from a distance.
“The reality is not only were there people of color in the video, but the key creatives who worked on this video are people of color. …We cast and edited this video. We collectively decided it would have been historically inaccurate to load the crew with more black actors as the video would have been accused of rewriting history,” Khan said.
“This video is set in the past by a crew set in the present and we are all proud of our work,” he added.
Swift is donating all of the proceeds from the “Wildest Dreams” video to the African Parks Foundation. The song is the fifth single from her best-selling “1989” album.
“Wildest Dreams” video: https://youtu.be/IdneKLhsWOQ
VILLA RICA, Ga. (AP) — A video of football players and a coach being dunked into a small tub of water during a mass baptism on a public high school football field is drawing criticism from a religious-freedom group, and officials in Georgia say they’re investigating.
A Baptist church in Villa Rica — a city of 4,000 about 30 miles west of Atlanta — posted the video of the Aug. 17 incident on YouTube, WXIA-TV reported (http://on.11alive.com/1JB8TGQ ). The footage has since been removed but can be seen in a segment posted on WXIA’s website. A crowd of people watch as the players and coach are submerged one by one during the baptism ceremony, a rite of initiation in many Christian churches.
“We had the privilege of baptizing a bunch of football players and a coach on the field of Villa Rica High School! We did this right before practice!” officials from the church First Baptist Villa Rica wrote in a caption accompanying the video on YouTube, according to WXIA. “Take a look and see how God is STILL in our schools!”
The Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to Carroll County officials Tuesday asking the district to investigate the incident and ensure there are no more religious events that violate students’ constitutional rights on school grounds. The group also requested that the district state the steps it is taking to protect the constitutional rights of students.
“I can’t remember another case like this,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, a Freedom from Religion Foundation official. “It’s really misusing the authority of the coach to promote his personal religious agenda.”
“It’s forcing them to undergo a religious ritual to be accepted on a team,” she said. “How are they going to cross their coach? They have no choice. It’s proselytizing, it’s coercive, and it’s not legal in our schools.”
Carroll County assistant superintendent Terry S. Jones said in a statement emailed Wednesday to The Associated Press that the school district is taking the “appropriate steps” to investigate the matter.
“The Carroll County School System was made aware of a situation that took place at Villa Rica High School prior to football practice on August 17th,” Jones said. “The District is currently looking into the specifics of this situation and will take appropriate steps to ensure all state and federal laws are followed.”
WXIA-TV says the pastor of First Baptist did not return messages seeking comment.
Information from: WXIA-TV, http://www.11alive.com/
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A second video has emerged that gives authorities a “very clear view” of a confrontation between deputies and a Texas man who had his hands raised before he was shot and killed, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood described the new video and one broadcast earlier as “disturbing,” but cautioned against a rush to judgment as authorities investigate the shooting that killed 41-year-old Gilbert Flores northwest of San Antonio.
An initial video recorded by a motorist from some distance was posted online by a San Antonio TV station. It shows Flores outside a residence Friday facing two deputies when he raises his hands — one arm obscured by a utility pole. The deputies fired multiple times.
Sheriff’s officials say Flores was armed, though didn’t specify with what, and that nonlethal efforts to subdue him, including a Taser, were unsuccessful. LaHood declined to say Tuesday whether Flores’ arm motion was surrender.
“I don’t know what his intent was,” he said. “All I can tell you is the video is disturbing. But my encouragement to everyone is to press the pause button.”
San Antonio attorney Thomas J. Henry, who is representing the family, said in an interview Tuesday that the initial video appears to show that deadly force was unnecessary but he is seeking more evidence.
“From a lay perspective, seeing the video, it does appear the immediate danger is gone because he had both hands in the air,” Henry said. “Now there are other videos and other pieces of evidence that we want to gather.” He said the family is considering filing a lawsuit to compel authorities to turn over more evidence.
Flores’ death is the country’s latest law enforcement shooting to draw heavy scrutiny for using deadly force in a situation where it may not have been necessary. Law enforcement officials in the U.S. have expressed concern that the deadly confrontations have spawned retaliatory shootings of officers, including last week’s death of a suburban Houston deputy at a gas station.
The second video was recorded by a witness closer to the incident, LaHood said, but he declined to provide further information about what it reveals or when authorities acquired it. An investigation is underway to determine whether the deputies will face criminal charges or whether the danger to them was imminent, LaHood said.
Deputies Greg Vasquez and Robert Sanchez, who were not equipped with body cameras at the time of the encounter, have been placed on administrative leave. Sanchez has worked more than 20 years with the sheriff’s office and Vasquez has been with the agency more than 10 years, according to records with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. Both had received training in use of force and nonlethal devices.
Michelle Lee, a special agent for the FBI in San Antonio, confirmed Tuesday that “experienced civil rights investigators” are monitoring the investigation.
The deputies had responded to a domestic disturbance, authorities have said, and found a woman at the residence with a cut on her head and a baby who appeared to be injured. Sheriff’s officials have not indicated whether they believe Flores harmed the two.
Attempts to contact members of Flores’ family were unsuccessful Tuesday, but Henry said that Flores’ wife is devastated. The couple have a child who is just 21 days old, he said.
Bexar County court records show Flores was convicted in 2003 of aggravated robbery, and the San Antonio Express-News reports he also has a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who represents part of the San Antonio area, said in a statement that Friday’s shooting was “extremely disturbing.”
“This incident is further evidence that police officers and deputies should wear body cameras,” he said. “The widely supported technology brings transparency and accountability that protects law enforcement and civilians alike.”
Bexar County commissioners approved a county budget Tuesday that includes more than $630,000 to provide deputies with body cameras and also cameras for patrol vehicles.
Associated Press writer David Warren contributed to this report from Dallas.
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is upping the ante in the streaming-video competition with downloadable videos.
The e-commerce powerhouse will now let members of its $99 annual Prime loyalty program download some shows and movies on its streaming video service to watch offline, or when there is no Internet connection available, for free.
To watch the content users can download the Amazon Video app for iOS or Android.
Users will now be able to download shows like “Downton Abbey” and “The Good Wife,” HBO shows including “Girls” and “Veep” and movies including “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Shows will be downloadable to Apple and Android phones and tablets, including Amazon’s Fire devices — but not desktops or laptops.
Other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu offer streaming-content only.
“There’s no doubt that the way people watch entertainment is changing—anytime, anywhere viewing is important,” said Michael Paull, vice president of digital video at Amazon, which is based in Seattle.
The downloadable videos are available to prime members in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Austria.
Netflix said it had no plans to follow suit. A company spokeswoman said that with internet speeds climbing and wireless connections available in more and more places, the ability to stream live wherever you are will increasingly dampen the need to download.
Amazon has been expanding services for Prime members, including its Prime Instant Video service, to attract more subscribers to the annual program.
Shares of Amazon.com Inc. fell 2 percent to $501.78 amid a broad market sell-off.