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March 1, 2019

EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK-BROTHERS

CHICAGO (AP) — Two brothers who told police that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett paid them $3,500 to help stage an attack on himself in Chicago say they regret their involvement in the incident.

Gloria Schmidt is the attorney for Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo . She issued a statement Thursday evening saying the men have “tremendous regret.”

Chicago police say Smollett hired the brothers, telling them to physically attack him, shout racist and homophobic slurs, douse him with a chemical and drape a noose around his neck.

Smollett is charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly making a false police report. His attorneys say he’s innocent.

Schmidt says the men “understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves.”

MEDIA-MICHAEL COHEN

NEW YORK (AP) — The Nielsen company says that 15.8 million people watched President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testify against him on television before a congressional committee.

Nielsen estimated the viewership on eight different networks between 9:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

The number contrasts with the 20.4 million who watched the daytime testimony of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh before a Senate committee last September.

By a narrow margin, CBS was the most-watched network for the bulk of the testimony, followed by ABC and MSNBC.

HACKING SCHEME-CELEBRITIES

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A former Virginia high school teacher has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for hacking into private digital accounts of celebrities and others.

Christopher Brannan was the fifth person charged in the 2014 “celebgate” scandal in which hackers obtained nude photographs and other private information from more than 200 people. Actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are among the celebrities who’ve said they were victims.

Brannan pleaded guilty in October to aggravated identity theft and unauthorized access to a protected computer.

He apologized Friday before being sentenced to 34 months in prison. He said he suffered from anxiety and depression, and became addicted to pornography.

The 31-year-old Brannan was a special education teacher at Lee-Davis High School in Mechanicsville from 2013 to 2015.

JOHN MAYER LAUNCHES FOUNDATION TO HELP VETERANS

NEW YORK (AP) — John Mayer is launching a foundation focused on improving the health of veterans through scientific research.

The singer says The Heart and Armor Foundation plans to focus on veterans with post-traumatic stress and to meet the emerging needs of women veterans.

Mayer has been working on the organization since 2012 alongside veterans, scientists and clinicians.

The foundation has released 10 publications in peer-reviewed journals, developed an exercise-based intervention for PTSD and created a screening tool for nutrition for women veterans.

The foundation also has a goal of bringing military and veteran communities closer together with outreach, events and conversation. On Friday, “How War Changes Women, How Women Change War” will stream live at Facebook.com/JohnMayer at 7 p.m. Eastern.

JADEN SMITH-FLINT WATER

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Jaden Smith’s foundation and a church are working to bring cleaner water to Flint, Michigan.

The rapper’s organization and First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on Friday announced they’ll deploy a mobile water filtration system known as “The Water Box” that reduces lead and other potential contaminants.

The 20-year-old’s JUST goods company collaborated with the church to design and engineer the system. He is the son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.

The church has distributed over 5 million bottles of water to residents, but bottled water donations are on the decline.

Flint has been replacing water lines after lead-tainted water was discovered in 2014. Lead began leaching from pipes after the city tapped the Flint River for drinking water without properly treating it to reduce corrosion.