Nobel literature prize will not be awarded this year

The Nobel Prize in literature will not be awarded this year following sex-abuse allegations and other issues that have affected the public image of the Swedish Academy that selects the winner.

The academy said Friday the 2018 prize will be given in 2019. The decision was made at a weekly meeting in Stockholm a day earlier, on the grounds that the academy is in no shape to pick a winner after a string of sex abuse allegations and financial crimes scandals.

“We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced,” Anders Olsson, the academy’s permanent secretary, said in a statement. He said the academy was acting “out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation and the general public.”

It will be the first time since 1949 that the prestigious award has been delayed. Last year, Japanese-born British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro won the prize.

The internal feud within the Swedish Academy — which only hands out one of the six Nobel prizes — was triggered by an abuse scandal linked to Jean-Claude Arnault, a major cultural figure in Sweden who is also the husband of poet Katarina Frostenson, an academy member.

The academy later admitted in a report that “unacceptable behavior in the form of unwanted intimacy” took place within its ranks, but its handling of the allegations shredded the body’s credibility, called into question its judgment and forced its first female leader to resign.

A debate over how to face up to its flaws also divided its 18 members — who are appointed for life — into hostile camps and prompted seven members of the prestigious institution to leave or disassociate themselves from the secretive group.

At this week’s meeting, members agreed to review the academy’s operating practices, according to a statement released by the body.

The academy said that “work on the selection of a laureate is at an advanced stage and will continue as usual in the months ahead but the Academy needs time to regain its full complement.”

The Nobel Foundation reacted promptly, saying it presumes that the academy “will now put all its efforts into the task of restoring its credibility as a prize-awarding institution and that the Academy will report the concrete actions that are undertaken.”

“We also assume that all members of the Academy realize that both its extensive reform efforts and its future organizational structure must be characterized by greater openness toward the outside world,” Carl-Henrik Heldin, the chairman of the Nobel Foundation Board said in a separate statement.

King Carl XVI Gustaf — the body’s patron who had earlier suggested changes within the institution after members began to leave — said the decision “shows that the Academy now intends to focus on the restoration of its reputation.”

Last fall, Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, published sexual misconduct claims from 18 women against Arnault, who runs a cultural center the academy used to help fund.

Arnault also has been suspected of violating century-old Nobel rules by leaking names of winners of the prestigious award — allegedly seven times, starting in 1996. It was not clear to whom the names were allegedly disclosed.

Bjorn Hurtig, the lawyer for the 71-year-old Arnault, has denied the allegations, telling The Associated Press that his client is the victim of “a witch hunt” and the claims “may only have the purpose of harming” him.

The world’s most prestigious prizes in science, medicine, literature and peacemaking have been withheld 49 times in all since the honors based on the will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel began in 1901.

The Nobel literature prize was not given out on seven occasions, primarily due to war but in 1935 because no candidate was deemed worthy of the prize. On a further seven occasions, the award has been postponed, as is proposed in this case.

Swedish Academy member Goran Malmqvist told Sweden’s TT news agency that the postponement was “a really good decision.”

“We’re in a crisis and it will take time to rebuild it again,” he was quoted as saying. He said the academy must be more open to the media, but at the same time not leak the name of the winner.

“We have to shut up. People mustn’t start betting and make money on that,” he told TT.

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Actress arrested in sex trafficking in 'guru to stars' case

A television actress best known for playing a young Superman’s close friend pleaded not guilty Friday to sex trafficking after federal prosecutors said she worked as a slave “master” recruiting unsuspecting women to a cult-like group led by a man who sold himself as a self-improvement guru to the stars.

Allison Mack was accused in an indictment unsealed by the federal court in Brooklyn. She entered her plea and was remanded to custody after Judge Cheryl Pollak refused a request from Mack’s lawyers to release her without bail. A bail hearing will be held Monday.

Mack, 35, starred in The CW network’s “Smallville.” Since that series ended in 2011, she has played only minor roles. Prosecutors said she helped recruit women for leader Keith Raniere and his cult-like organization called NXIVM. She told the women they were joining what was purported to be a female mentorship group, prosecutors said.

But “the victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor,” according to federal prosecutors.

“Mack and other … masters recruited … slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses the NVIVM curriculum taught were common in women,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said she required women she recruited to engage in sexual activity with Raniere, who paid Mack in return.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Kim Penza said in court that that “under the guise of female empowerment” Mack “starved women until they fit her co-defendant’s sexual ideal.”

Federal authorities raided an upstate New York residence near Albany where NXIVM was headquartered in March. The organization also ran programs in Mexico.

Raniere, 57, was arrested in Mexico, brought to the U.S. on March 26 and is being held without bail in Brooklyn.

The FBI has filed sex trafficking charges against him, saying that with the help of mostly female assistants, he blackmailed and coerced women into unwanted sex. Prosecutors hinted in earlier papers that Mack was one of the co-conspirators; it’s not clear who else may be charged.

Raniere’s attorney has said the facts would show Raniere did not compel or pressure anyone to do anything. He says everyone was acting in accordance with his or her free will at every instant.

Raniere sold himself as a self-improvement guru to the stars and his core disciples who include actresses, wealthy heiresses and a son of the former president of Mexico.

Mack’s “Smallville” co-star Kristin Kreuk says she was involved with one of the group’s self-help programs but left about five years ago. She wrote on Twitter last month that she didn’t experience any “nefarious activity” and was “horrified and disgusted” by the allegations.

Founded in 1998, NXIVM promoted Raniere’s teachings as a kind of mystical, executive coaching designed to help people get the most out of life. Enrollees in its Executive Success Programs paid handsomely for his advice. The organization also drew criticism from people who likened it to a cult.

Last year, the accusations took a new twist, with women who were part of a NXIVM subgroup coming forward to say that they had been physically branded with a surgical tool against their will.

Prosecutors said in court papers that Raniere created a society within NXIVM called “DOS” — an acronym based on a Latin phrase that loosely translates to “Lord/Master of obedient female companions.” Women were required to provide damaging material about their friends and family, naked photos and even sign over their assets as a condition for joining, they said. Many were branded with his initials, they said.

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This story has been corrected to show that “Smallville” ended in 2011, not 2015.

Associated Press Writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.

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Conor McGregor turns himself in following Barclays Center scrum

Conor McGregor, the veteran Ultimate Fighting Championship star, turned himself in to police late Thursday after a violent incident at Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.

Video footage shows McGregor, among a group of people, throwing trash cans and other items at a bus full of fighters slated to fight on Saturday, according to ABC New York station WABC.

McGregor, who earlier crashed a press conference at the arena, has been charged with assault and is expected to be arraigned on Friday.

Last year, McGregor boxed Floyd Mayweather, losing by technical knockout in the 10th round, but he hasn’t fought for UFC since November 2016.

UFC President Dana White said McGregor would be stripped of his lightweight title, which would go to the winner of Saturday’s bout. McGregor responded on with a profane tweet.

In response to the incident Thursday night in Brooklyn, White told ESPN he felt McGregor’s actions were “disgusting,” adding, “I don’t think anybody is going to be huge Conor McGregor fans after this.”

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UFC star McGregor facing criminal charges in New York

UFC star Conor McGregor is facing criminal charges after a backstage melee injured two fighters and forced the removal of three bouts on Saturday night from UFC’s biggest card this year.

Video footage appears to show the promotion’s most bankable star throwing a hand truck at a bus full of fighters on Thursday after a news conference for UFC 223 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

The New York Police Department says McGregor was charged, facing three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. He’s making a court appearance on Friday. It was not immediately known if McGregor has an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

UFC President Dana White said Friday he spoke to McGregor via text and the brawler said the confrontation “had to be done.”

“It was probably the worst conversation we ever had,” White told FS1’s “First Things First” on Friday morning. “We talked yesterday before he turned himself in.

“It’s not that I don’t think he understood what happened. He justified it. It was justified to him.”

White said the 29-year-old McGregor said he was sorry about the fighters who were injured, but, “this had to be done.”

Video showed McGregor with a group of people causing chaos Thursday as they took an elevator to the loading dock at Barclays Center. He can be seen tossing trash cans and being prevented from throwing a barricade at a bus during his unannounced appearance in New York.

Michael Chiesa was sent to the hospital with injuries sustained in the attack and was forced out of his scheduled fight against Anthony Pettis.

“A decision was made by the New York State Athletic Commission to pull me from UFC 223,” Chiesa tweeted. “I’m devastated to say the least. @showtimepettis I hope to run this match up ASAP. June 9th in your backyard. That’s all I have to say for now. Much love.”

Flyweight Ray Borg suffered multiple cornea abrasions in the wake of the McGregor attack and his fight against Brandon Moreno was also scratched.

“The organization deems today’s disruption completely unacceptable and is currently working on the consequences that will follow,” UFC said in a statement. “Individuals involved in the incident are not welcome at tomorrow’s ceremonial weigh-in or Saturday’s event at Barclays Center.”

McGregor hasn’t fought for UFC since November 2016 and was stripped this week by UFC President Dana White of the 155-pound championship he had never defended. White also said this week he did not expect McGregor to attend Saturday’s fights.

McGregor profanely responded on Twitter and wrote, “You’ll strip me of nothing.”

McGregor last fought in a boxing match he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Aug. 26, 2017.

The popular Irishman is tight with UFC 223 fighter Artem Lobov, who was involved this week in a scuffle in a hotel with Khabib Nurmagomedov. The fight between Max Holloway and Nurmagomedov was canceled Friday when Holloway didn’t make weight for the main event, a lightweight championship left vacant by McGregor.

Lobov was yanked from the card and banned from the building.

White said this week in New York that McGregor would fight again for UFC this year. McGregor’s actions now put future fights in doubt.

McGregor once held the 145 and 155-pound championships at the same time and boldly stated he wanted an ownership stake in UFC.

But the trash-talking, egocentric has been out of the fight game except for his boxing dalliance with Mayweather that made him wealthy enough to never need to fight again. McGregor and his girlfriend welcomed their first child, a son, in May 2017.

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Associated Press writer Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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Menendez brothers who killed parents reunited in prison

The Menendez brothers, who were convicted of killing their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion nearly three decades ago, have been reunited in a Southern California prison.

Erik Menendez, 47, has moved into the same housing unit as his 50-year-old brother, Lyle Menendez, Corrections department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said Thursday.

The brothers are serving life sentences for fatally shooting their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, in 1989.

Lyle Menendez was moved in February from Mule Creek State Prison in Northern California to San Diego’s R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility, after his security classification was lowered. But the brothers lived in separate housing units and would not have seen each other, Thornton said. The prison houses nearly 3,900 male inmates.

That changed Wednesday, when Eric moved into the same housing unit as his brother, a unit where inmates agree to participate in educational and other rehabilitation programs without fighting or creating disruptions.

“They can and do interact with each other, all the inmates in that facility,” she said, though she didn’t know how the brothers reacted during their reunion.

The brothers had asked two decades ago, after they were sentenced, to be sent to the same prison.

Prison officials said then that they often balked at putting partners in crime together, and the Beverly Hills detective who investigated the slayings argued that the brothers might conspire to escape if they were together. Leslie Abramson, Erik Menendez’s attorney, at the time called housing the brothers separately “exceedingly cruel and heartless.”

Lyle, who was then 21, and Erik, then 18, admitted they fatally shot-gunned their entertainment executive father and their mother, but said they feared their parents were about to kill them to prevent the disclosure of the father’s long-term sexual molestation of Erik.

Prosecutors contended there was no evidence of any molestation. They said the sons were after their parents’ multimillion-dollar estate.

Jurors rejected a death sentence in favor of life without parole.

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British royals go to Easter service without Harry and Markle

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William and his wife, Kate, and other senior British royals celebrated an Easter church service Sunday at the chapel where Prince Harry and American fiancee Meghan Markle will get married in May.

Harry and Markle did not attend the service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, England. Palace officials said their weekend plans were private.

Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, also did not attend. The 96-year-old has retired from public duties and been seen less frequently.

Most of the royals walked down the hill from Windsor Castle to the chapel, but the 91-year-old queen arrived by car, wearing a purple fuchsia coatdress and matching hat.

William and Kate also took a car to the chapel, arriving at the church a few minutes late. They emerged without their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Kate is expecting the couple’s third child later this month.

Jack Brooksbank, who is engaged to the queen’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie, made his first Easter appearance with the royal family. Brooksbank and Eugenie, the daughter of Princess Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, plan to wed in October.

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