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Colorado State apologizes for students’ pro-Russia chant directed at Ukrainian basketball player

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Colorado State University is apologizing after some of its student spectators directed a pro-Russia chant at a Ukrainian player on the opposing basketball team Saturday night.

Officials tweeted they learned after the game “that a small group of individuals in our student section chanted ‘Russia’ at a student-athlete from Utah State, who is from Ukraine.”

“On behalf of Colorado State, we apologize to the student-athlete and Utah State,” the school said in a follow-up tweet.

“Every participant, student, and fan should feel welcomed in our venues, and for something like this to have occurred is unacceptable at Colorado State,” the tweet thread concluded.

The university didn’t name the student who was targeted. NBC affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City reported that Utah State junior guard Max Shulga was the target of the chant, which occurred while he was attempting free throws near the end of the game.

Shulga was born in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, and attended high school in Spain, according to his official biography.

KSL reported last year that Shulga’s family still lives in Kiev and that he draped a Ukrainian flag over himself at the start of the first game after Russia invaded Ukraine. Utah State students also held up yellow and blue papers resembling the Ukrainian flag at that game to show their support for Shulga.

The yearlong war has led to the deaths of thousands of civilians and soldiers, as well as Russian troops’ committing sexual violence and torture against women and children in Ukraine, along with other war crimes, according to a United Nations investigation.

Utah State Athletics condemned the incident in a statement on Sunday, calling it “inappropriate and unacceptable,” and it said both the athletics department and the university support Shulga and his family in Ukraine.

“We appreciate the Colorado State administration and basketball staff for not condoning such behavior,” the statement concluded.

In a statement to NBC News, Colorado State’s assistant vice president of communications, Greg Harrison, said that the university directs its apology to Shulga and the Utah State basketball team and its fans and that the CSU students or employees who participated in the chant could be subject to disciplinary action.

“If a student or employee was involved [in the chant] and can be identified, they would be subject to a review under the student code of conduct,” Harrison said. “Based on the findings of a code of conduct review, a student or employee can be prohibited from entering future athletic events, among other actions.”

Utah State won the game 88-79.

White House to update top Republicans on recovered documents

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Biden administration officials are offering top congressional leaders a briefing on classified documents found in the possession of President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, two sources familiar with discussions said.

The officials had not yet scheduled a briefing, because, they said, priority goes to an intelligence briefing for those leaders about the developments and diplomatic friction with China over a suspected spy balloon spotted floating over the U.S. before one was shot down Saturday, the sources said.

The aim was to get the briefing on wayward documents done by the end of the week, the two officials said. The documents briefing would be for Congress’ “Gang of Eight,” the top leaders of the House and the Senate and of the congressional intelligence committees, the officials said.

The group represents the congressional leaders who have the most access to classified information and who aim to shape U.S. foreign and domestic policy as they’re armed with sensitive information.

Some congressional leaders, including Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have been dissatisfied with the Justice Department’s inability so far to give them more information about what the Trump documents cover.

Lawmakers argue they can’t fix whatever’s wrong with the country’s system of classifying and storing such material until they have a better idea of what the out-of-bounds material covers. One solution: Some senators wanted the Intelligence Committee to issue subpoenas to the law enforcement arm that usually does this — the Justice Department — seeking that information.

The standoff might have been averted Sunday, however, by news that the Biden administration plans to brief congressional intelligence leaders.

Both the documents and the Chinese balloons are matters of U.S. intelligence, and a White House briefing for the House and Senate intelligence committees is required by law. The president, however, can limit information to a handful of committee leaders, as necessary.

Republicans in Congress have been clamoring for a briefing about the documents seized at Trump’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, on Aug. 8 as part of the FBI’s criminal probe of apparently mishandled classified material, some marked “top secret.”

Agents said they seized roughly 11,000 records, about 100 of them marked classified. 

Trump has said the seizure was politically motivated and unnecessary. The National Archives and Record Administration, the items’ lawful caretaker, attempted to get the documents it believed were with Trump returned at multiple times since he left office in 2021. After a round of documents from Trump’s private premises was returned, federal officials determined there were more with the former president.

In June, Trump’s lawyers turned over 38 other classified documents and a signed declaration stating that “all responsive documents had been turned over.” The FBI disagreed and sought a warrant, prompting a search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach residence and resort.

Trump sued over the seizure, but his lawyers dropped the case after his appeal was rejected by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The former president had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene; it declined.

He argued the seized documents belonged to him. He also claimed the FBI planted evidence to smear him. In any case, Trump said, he had the authority as president to declassify material as he saw fit, even though there was no evidence or documentation of declassification.

Under federal law, official White House papers are federal property and must be handed over to the National Archives when a president leaves office. 

Subsequently, classified items were found in Biden’s office at his Penn Biden Center think tank in Washington and in his home in Delaware and were returned, as well as at Pence’s Indiana residence, which were returned. In both cases, the material was found by people who work for the two former vice presidents after they decided to look proactively — to avoid the legal questions Trump has faced.

In January it was revealed the National Archives had sent a letter asking former living presidents’ and vice presidents’ staff members to search for materials that could be classified or the property of the government.

What the Biden administration will share in the update isn’t clear, one of the sources said. The briefing plan was put together in response to bipartisan backlash because the director of national intelligence and the Justice Department did not inform congressional intelligence leaders about the documents and their importance to U.S. security.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, shared news of the White House offer to brief the Gang of Eight.

“The Biden administration had not engaged at all anyone who was in national security on the issue of threats from these documents,” he said. “It took Congress to step in and say, ‘We want a security threat [assessment].’ And then they tried to deny giving the briefing to us from that [balloon] threat.”

Turner accused the Biden administration of using its obligation to brief top congressional leaders on matters of intelligence to change the subject following Saturday’s downing of a suspected spy balloon from China that was over the Carolina coast at the time.

On Sunday, the balloon’s presence over the U.S. and the subsequent tensions apparent in a diplomatic back-and-forth with China were cast by Republicans as bad news for Biden. Some Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., characterized the administration’s actions Saturday as “leadership.”

“What’s interesting is that the moment this balloon became public, I got a notice not from the administration that I’m going to get a briefing on this balloon, but they have to rush to Congress now to talk to us about Donald Trump’s documents,” Turner said. “You can see they want to change the news.”

7.8 magnitude quake knocks down buildings in central Turkey

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ANKARA, Turkey — A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook southeast Turkey early Monday and was felt in several provinces and elsewhere in the Middle East. The quake knocked down a number of buildings, reports said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 20 miles from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital. It was about 26 16 miles from the town of Nurdagi.

It originated 11 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A strong 6.7 temblor rumbled about 10 minutes later.

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management agency, AFAD, said the quake measured 7.4 and was centered in the town of Pazarcik, in Kahramanmaras province.

The earthquake was also felt in Lebanon and Syria.

Syria’s state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.

In Syria’s rebel-held northwest that borders Turkey several buildings collapsed, according to the opposition’s Syrian civil Defense.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

The quake jolted residents in Lebanon from beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings.

Turkey sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.

Some 18,000 were killed in powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.

Dolphin skull found in luggage at Detroit airport

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Customs and Border Protection agents made quite the aquatic discovery while routinely inspecting international luggage at Detroit Metropolitan Airport last week.

The CBP agriculture specialists were doing X-rays on bags re-entering the U.S. after they were separated from their owners when they found what was determined to be a young dolphin skull, CBP said in a news release.

The smuggling of certain wildlife, including marine mammals and products made from them, is “subject to import and export restrictions, prohibitions, permits or certificates, as well as other requirements,” CBP said.

“The possession of wildlife items, especially those of protected animals is prohibited,” Area Port Director Robert Larkin said. “We take wildlife smuggling seriously and work closely with our federal partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect wildlife and their habitats.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service has taken the skull in for further investigation.

CBP encouraged travelers to stay informed about regulations before they try to smuggle wildlife items into the U.S. “to avoid penalties, seizures, and even arrest.”

It is not known who the owner of the bag is and whether he or she will face any charges.

Grammys 2023 live updates: How to watch, red carpet, winners and more

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Sam Smith looks red hot with their entourage

Sam Smith served an unholy look in a bright red puffy gown with fellow nominee Kim Petras and RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Violet Chachki and Gottmik.

Smith and Petras are nominated for best pop duo/group performance for their collaboration, “Unholy.”

Smith performed the hit with Petras last month on “SNL.”

Kim Petras and Sam Smith arrive at the Grammy Awards.
Kim Petras and Sam Smith arrive at the Grammy Awards.Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Take a chance on ABBA

If you are an ABBA stan like me, you know that the beloved Swedish pop group recently reunited after 40 years to make a new album called “Voyage,” which is nominated in several categories.

But despite having made people dance and jive for decades, up until this year, the group had never been nominated for the coveted music accolade. (Even though it was inducted into the Recording Academy’s Hall of Fame in 2015.)

Following the “Voyage” album’s November 2021 release, the group — made up of Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus — didn’t actually tour. It instead performed digitally as avatars, aka “ABBA-tars,” with a live 10-piece band. (Yes, really.) The concert kicked off May 27 at a new arena called ABBA Arena at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Maybe this year will finally be the year ABBA wins a Grammy. Regardless, I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll see the actual dancing queens (and kings) at the awards show and not their “ABBA-tars.” 

No sign of them yet…

Manifesting a Lizzo-Harry Styles duet

As if it’s not exciting enough for two iconic besties to be nominated for the same Grammy, Lizzo and Harry Styles share nominations in five categories this year. Oh, and they’ll both be taking the stage as performers.

Their adorable friendship has been living rent-free in fans’ heads since 2019, when Styles first snagged Lizzo’s attention by covering her hit song “Juice” and expressing his admiration for her on a BBC Radio 1 show.

The pair reunited in October when both their tours made stops in Chicago. Over the last few years, they’ve gifted us a few onstage collabs — including a joint performance at Coachella — and I’m obsessed with the way they often gush over each other’s talents and successes.

Harry Styles and Lizzo perform in Miami Beach in 2020.
Harry Styles and Lizzo perform in Miami Beach in 2020.Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Pandora

It’s Harry’s House, and we’re here for it

Harry Styles has made his way to the carpet and he’s shining (literally) in a sparkly, multicolored jumpsuit.

The “As It Was” singer recently took Los Angeles by storm with a 15-night residency at the Forum. Tonight, Crypto.com Arena will become Harry’s House, too.

Styles is nominated for six Grammys, including album and record of the year. A One Direction alum, Styles cemented his legacy as a solo performer after he won the Grammy for best pop solo performance for the hit single “Watermelon Sugar” in 2021.

Styles also revealed he is already working on his next album, so Harry’s House may be on its way to becoming an empire.

We can’t wait to see him perform tonight

Harry Styles arrives at the Grammy   Awards.
Harry Styles arrives at the Grammy Awards.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

Is Taylor Swift’s red carpet look an easter egg?

Taylor Swift hit the red carpet for the first time this year and Swifties are, naturally, deciphering her outfit for clues.

Her tenth album, “Midnights,” may not be eligible for this year’s Grammys, but her glittering two-piece sure looks a lot like the night sky. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is up for consideration by the Recording Academy this evening and Taylor’sred-lip classic” never disappoints.

The industry titan already picked up her 12th Grammy for best music video during the pre-ceremony for “All Too Well: The Short Film” and is also nominated in three other categories, including song of the year.

Taylor Swift walks the red carpet at the 65th Grammy Awards.
Taylor Swift walks the red carpet at the 65th Grammy Awards.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

Shania Twain dazzles red carpet with a ‘Cruella de Vil’ look

Shania Twain, who is presenting tonight, arrived on the red carpet with an unforgettable look: a black and white polka dot outfit with bright red hair.

With a tall hat, diamonds all over and completing the look with a bold red lip, it’s an outfit that we will all remember “forever and for always,” as she sings in her 2002 hit. The look is from Harris Reed’s spring 2023 collection.

Shania Twain arrives at the Grammy Awards.
Shania Twain arrives at the Grammy Awards.Amy Sussman / Getty Images

ICYMI: FLOTUS is headed to the Grammys

The Grammys is getting the presidential treatment, with first lady Jill Biden announced as one of tonight’s presenters.

She’s not the first lady to grace the stage: Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the 2019 Grammys, referring to Motown Records and Beyoncé in introductory remarks, emphasizing her deep appreciation for music.

Let’s see whom Biden is rooting for tonight.

First Lady Jill Biden departs the White House on Jan. 11, 2023.
First lady Jill Biden departs the White House on Jan. 11.Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images file

All eyes on the red carpet

The Grammys Premiere Ceremony has wrapped, so all eyes will be on the carpet as the celebrities continue to trickle in and pose for the cameras before they head into Crypto.com Arena.

Will TikTok success translate to Grammy gold tonight?

Over the past couple of years, TikTok has proved itself as a powerful marketing tool for artists. Its impact has only solidified as a number of TikTok hits were nominated for Grammys this year.

Breakout artists Wet Leg, Steve Lacy and Muni Long have already won awards for best alternative music album and best alternative music performance, best progressive R&B album and best R&B performance, respectively, during the Premiere Ceremony.

Songs like Lizzo’s “About Damn Time,” Harry Styles’ “As It Was” and Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit” have soundtracked millions of TikTok videos. All three songs are in the running for record of the year and song of the year.

GAYLE’s megaviral track “abcdefu” also snagged a song of the year nod. The nomination was divisive, to say the least, as many viewed the song as an example of cookie-cutter, viral-bait “TikTok music.”

TikTok itself is nominated alongside Rosalía for the Motomami TikTok Live performance, which was nominated for best music film.

Swifties rise up

Taylor Swift won best music video for “All Too Well: The Short Film,” making it her 12th Grammy win.

The 10-minute film starred Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink. Co-producer Saul Germaine accepted the award on Swift’s behalf.

ICYMI: Beyoncé and Lizzo both removed an ableist slur from their songs

This last summer, Beyoncé and Lizzo both faced criticism for featuring a word “spaz” which many people in the disabled community say is a “ableist slur.” Lizzo took to twitter in a post saying “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language.”

Just weeks after Lizzo changed her lyrics in her song “Grrrls” after receiving backlash, Bey made the same mistake on her album “Renaissance.” A representative for Beyoncé said in a statement that “the word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced.”

Swifties won’t want to talk about Bruno after Sunday

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from the Disney movie “Encanto” won best song written For visual media, beating Taylor Swift and others in the category.

This marked the third win for “Encanto” tonight, solidifying the film as a timeless animated favorite.

Dave Chappelle wins for controversial ‘The Closer’ special

Dave Chappelle won this year’s award for best comedy album for “The Closer.”

Following its release, “The Closer” drew accusations of transphobia and plunged the world’s mightiest streaming service into a public relations crisis that dragged on for weeks, culminating in an employee walkout.The comedian’s jokes were criticized as being offensive to the LGBTQ community.

Chappelle was not at the Grammys Premiere Ceremony to accept the award in-person.

And the award for Best Red Carpet Host goes to … Laverne Cox!

From the Golden Globes to the Grammys, Laverne Cox would definitely win if there was a category for Best Red Carpet Host of the year.

She crushes her interviews with fellow stars, all while looking fabulous.

Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox arrives at the Grammy Awards. Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP

Chris Brown reacts to loss in series of Instagram posts

Looks like Chris Brown isn’t one to take rejection gracefully. After losing to pianist Robert Glasper for best R&B album, Brown has been posting non-stop to his Instagram story.

“YALL PLAYING 😂😂😂😂😂,” he typed over a screenshot of a Google search page for Glasper, later saying in his story he has no idea who Glasper is.

Many on social media took notice of Brown’s Instagram story posts, sharing screenshots on Twitter. Some called it a “bad look.” Others pointed out that Glasper had won four Grammys prior to Sunday’s win (which marked his fifth).

Brandi Carlile jumps for joy with third Grammy win of the night

Brandi Carlile just ran (and skipped) from the carpet back to the room where it happens to receive her third Grammy for the night for best Americana album for “In These Silent Days.”

 Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth accept the Best Rock Song award for "Broken Horses."
Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth accept the Best Rock Song award for “Broken Horses.”Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Taylor Swift gives Viola Davis social media love

Taylor Swift tweeted a shoutout to Viola Davis for taking home a Grammy and securing an EGOT on Sunday.

“EGOT BABYYYYYYY” she wrote in a tweet, adding several heart emojis.

The carpet is kicking off, but Premiere Ceremony continues

By my count, there are still 18 categories left to hand out during the Premiere Ceremony.

Meanwhile, stars have started walking the red carpet.

New York Youth Symphony is first youth orchestra to win best orchestra performance

Conductor Michael Repper and the New York Youth Symphony just won the Grammy for best orchestra performance for their recording of “Works by Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman.” It is the first youth orchestra to win this award.

Who was Georg Solti, the conductor whose record for most Grammys Beyoncé is expected to break?

With 30 Grammy awards and nine nominations this year alone, the odds are stacked in Beyoncé’s favor to break the record for most Grammys won Sunday.

Beyoncé is just one short of the record for most awards won, held by conductor Georg Solti, with 31 wins. Solti made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1954 and was its musical director for 22 years, according to the orchestra’s website

Solti accumulated many classical music awards, including best classical performance for orchestra and classical album of the year. Fun fact: He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1972.

Georg SoltI
Hungarian-born Sir Georg Solti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1978.Evening Standard / Getty Images

Beyoncé’s summer album, “Renaissance,” is up for album of the year, and her hit song “Break My Soul” is nominated for both record and song of the year.

Beyoncé just surpassed Quincy Jones for the second-most Grammys won, beating his 28 awards. Jones is a musician, producer, songwriter, composer known for producing Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller” and producing the film “The Color Purple.” 

Kendrick Lamar wins 2 Grammys (so far)

Kendrick Lamar won best rap performance and best rap song for “The Heart Part 5” at tonight’s premiere ceremony. The rapper and songwriter is nominated for eight Grammys tonight.

Still 3+ hours to go until the Grammys …

After an hour and a half, the Premiere Ceremony — which is being streamed online — is still going strong. But we still have a ways to go until the Grammys ceremony itself.

According to Forbes, the majority of the Grammys are actually distributed during the Premiere Ceremony, which is a “lesser-known event in the music industry, but one that is incredibly important nonetheless.”

Important indeed! Queen Bey, Kendrick Lamar and Brandi Carlile are already picking up wins.

Brandi Carlile is already winning big tonight

Brandi Carlile won best rock song, alongside Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth, as well as best rock performance, for “Broken Horses.”

Carlile’s nominated in seven categories tonight, including album of the year, record of the year and best Americana album.

“I met these guys 22 years ago we decided to get in a van and be in a band together,” Carlile said while accepting her first award Sunday. “They had never even played an acoustic guitar, and then this happened.”

30 for Queen Bey

Beyoncé is now a 30-time Grammy winner. She took home the award for best traditional R&B performance at the Premiere Ceremony.

Viola Davis earns coveted EGOT

Viola Davis has earned the rare and coveted EGOT status — becoming the third Black woman in history to achieve the honor.

Davis, 57, won her first Grammy for her performance of the audiobook for her memoir, “Finding Me.”

“It has just been such a journey,” Davis said. “I just EGOT!”

Read the full story here.

Viola Davis accepts the award for "Best Audio Book, Narration and Storytelling Recording" at the Grammy Awards.
Viola Davis accepts the award for best audio book, narration and storytelling recording” at the Grammy Awards.Rich Polk / Variety via Getty Images

Samara Joy already shining at the Grammys

Moments after she performed at the Premiere Ceremony, Samara Joy accepted the award for best jazz vocal album for “Linger Awhile.”

“Oh my gosh, I’m so grateful,” she said Sunday. “I’m so thankful, I’m so honored to be here.”

She’s a two-time nominee tonight, having also been recognized in the best new artist category.

We love to see it: Amanda Gorman presenting

Amanda Gorman, who is nominated in the best spoken word poetry album category, also presented at the Premiere Ceremony.

Sadly, she did not perform. Next time!

Beyoncé just won her 29th Grammy

Beyoncé has already got one award in the books tonight, taking home the award for best dance/electronic recording for “Break My Soul.”

The win was announced at the Grammys Premiere Ceremony.

Beyoncé is the most nominated artist this year, having received nods in nine categories. They bring her to 88 nominations in her career — tying with her husband, Jay- Z, as the most nominated artist in history.

Queen Bey, who last week announced her 2023 tour, now has racked up 29 Grammys overall; however, she has never won the album of the year statuette. This year, she’s up against several artists in that category, including Adele, who took the award home in 2017.

Atlantis The Royal Grand Reveal Weekend 2023 - Beyonce Performance
Beyoncé performs Jan. 21 in Dubai.Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Atlantis The Royal

Video game soundtracks get their moment

The Grammys’ first-ever best score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media award went to Steph Economou for “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök.”

Economou gave a shout out to those who fought to get this category its own recognition.

‘Encanto’ gets the first two Grammys of the day

The Disney hit “Encanto” took home the first two Grammys of the day for best compilation soundtrack for visual media and best score soundtrack for visual media, for composer Germaine Franco.

“Encanto,” which means “charm” in Spanish, is Disney’s 60th animated feature film. The film’s songs and music are by “Hamilton” composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. It tells the tale of the Madrigal family, whose members are gifted with magical powers to help their community in Colombia. The story is told through the eyes of Mirabel, who doesn’t have magical powers. 

My take? It’s not a surprise that it’s already getting some Grammy love. The movie was widely popular, even getting its own live show at the Hollywood Bowl. It also found new life on TikTok.

The Premiere Ceremony has begun

The Grammys kicked off Sunday with its pre-show Premiere Ceremony, streaming it on YouTube and at live.grammy.com. The pre-ceremony stream will announce the winners in the nontelevised categories.

Randy Rainbow, the viral sensation and three-time Emmy-nominated musical comedian, is hosting. He has already joked that he will not be getting political.

“There will be no George Santos jokes at this performance,” he said.

Iranians are rooting for Shervin Hajipour

Shervin Hajipour is the artist behind the song “Barayeh,” which many Iranians have declared the unofficial anthem of the months of protests that have swept Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini.

Hajipour was jailed — and later released — after the song went viral. When the Recording Academy opened up its submissions for a new category — best song for social change — Iranians took to social media to encourage people to submit “Barayeh.”

Hajipour composed the song from tweets and other social media posts by protesters. As the song’s lyrics suggest, the primarily women-led protests have become about far more than a single injustice. The movement is about “azadi,” which means “freedom” in Persian. 

In October, the Recording Academy said that it had received about 95,000 submissions for Hajipour’s song. Over the last week, Iranian celebrities such as actor Nazanin Boniadi and comedian Maz Jobrani have been amplifying the song ahead of the Grammys.

“I hope #Shervinhajipour wins “Best Song for Social Change” at the #Grammys this weekend. No politician or activist has managed to capture the aspirations of this #IranRevoIution more,” Boniadi wrote in a tweet. “A battle cry for change, an ode to a better tomorrow, and the heartbeat of a nation.”

Covid, who?

The Grammys return to Los Angeles on Sunday after two years of socially distancing the awards from Crypto.com Arena (that’s a play on a Trevor Noah joke from when he previously hosted, so I can’t take credit for it!).

Last year, the awards moved to Las Vegas because of rising Covid-19 cases and concerns over the spread of the omicron variant. In 2021, the Grammys were held in an unusual outdoor setting, also because of Covid concerns.

This year, it’s almost as if Covid never existed. The week leading up to Sunday’s big show was filled with A-list events like brunches, happy hours, screenings and big parties. As Variety pointed out, it seems “even more action-packed than the pre-Covid years.”

Trevor Noah is gracing our TV screens again

Trevor Noah, who recently left his gig as host of “The Daily Show,” will helm the Grammys for a third time tonight.

Even though he’s a pro at this point, he told The Associated Press he still gets nervous.

“The nerves come in because you’re standing in front of not just some of the best, but some of the biggest performers in the world,” he said. “Nerves are part of what I do.” 

Host Trevor Noah at the 2022 Grammy Awards.
Host Trevor Noah at the 2022 Grammy Awards. Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

There are some new categories this year

The Recording Academy last year announced some new categories for the 65th awards show. Here are some things to watch for: 

  • There are five new categories at this year’s Grammys, including songwriter of the year, nonclassical; best alternative music performance; best Americana performance; best score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media; and best spoken word poetry album.
  • A new special merit award will be given to the best song for social change. The category “recognizes a song that has had profound social influence and impact,” according to the submissions requirements. Each submitted song “should contain lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue; explores a subject impacting a community of people in need; and promotes awareness, raises consciousness, and builds empathy,” the Recording Academy said in its submissions guidelines. 

Where to watch the Grammys

People with cable can watch the Grammys live on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

For the cord cutters out there, the show can also be streamed on Paramount+. The platform is offering a free trial you can use to watch the Grammys online for free.

And of course, follow along with our blog for live updates.

Regardless of how you tune in, make sure you are cozied up, as the show is about 3½ hours long.

Viola Davis earns coveted EGOT

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Viola Davis has earned the rare and coveted EGOT status — becoming the third Black woman in history to achieve the honor.

On Sunday, Davis, 57, won her first Grammy for her performance of the audiobook for her memoir, “Finding Me.”

“It has just been such a journey,” Davis said in accepting the award. “I just EGOT!”

“EGOT” is the grand slam of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony over a career. Only 18 people have achieved the status. Davis is the fourth Black person, alongside Whoopi Goldberg, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson. 

Davis already has an Oscar, two Tonys and an Emmy.

“Oh, my God,” Davis said Sunday. “I wrote this book to honor the 6-year-old Viola, to honor her, to honor her life, her joy, her trauma, her everything.”

Davis won the Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2017 for her role as housewife Rose Maxson in 2016’s “Fences.” She won an Emmy in 2015 for her role as Annalise Keating in “How to Get Away with Murder,” making her the first Black woman to win the lead drama actress award. She has two Tony awards, for “King Hedley II” and the Broadway production of “Fences.”

Reflecting on her career and Grammy nod in a January interview with the Recording Academy, Davis said achieving EGOT status would be a “huge accomplishment.”

“I think that everybody wants their life to mean something,” she said. “I believe in the Cherokee birth blessing, which is, ‘May you live long enough to know why you were born.’ I do believe that you literally wanna blow a hole through this world in whatever way you can. 

“A lot of people don’t know how to do that. A lot of people haven’t found that thing that they’re passionate about, that they can do. Some have. But we all are looking for that, blowing a hole through this earth before we leave it. I think about that in my work a lot. I really found that thing that I love to do. So I always wanna make it meaningful.”

Former prospective aide accuses George Santos of ethics violations and sexual harassment

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Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., the freshman congressman accused of fabricating key parts of his resume, is being accused of ethics violations and sexual harassment by a former prospective congressional aide, according to a letter posted to Twitter on Friday.

In the letter to the House Ethics Committee, Derek Myers accused Santos of groping him when he worked for the lawmaker’s office as a volunteer and requested an investigation into the alleged incident of sexual harassment as well as if correct procedure was followed pertaining to his work as a volunteer in Santos’ office.

Myers said he was offered a job by Santos, then he briefly worked as a “volunteer” in the lawmakers’ office while his paperwork was being processed before the offer was rescinded last week.

Myers alleged that on Jan. 25 Santos asked him if he had an account on Grindr, a popular dating app used by millions of gay men, and Santos shared that he himself had a profile. Myers said later that day he was alone with Santos in his personal office on Jan. 25 working through mail correspondence when Santos “called me ‘buddy’ and insisted I sit next to him on a small sofa.”

He alleged that Santos then invited him to go to karaoke that night. Myers said he declined Santos’ invitation, before the lawmaker touched his groin and said that his husband was out of town.

Myers also alleged that his volunteer status — which he said included answer phones, reading mail and corresponding with constituents — “within a congressional office without the correct procedures being followed is in violation of the House Ethics.”

News of Myers’ allegations was first reported by The New York Times. A spokesperson for Santos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., ranking member of the Ethics Committee, confirmed to NBC News that Myers’ letter had been received and declined to provide further comment.

Myers tweeted Friday that he also filed a report with the Capitol Police and a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics. Capitol Police have not responded to NBC News’ request for comment.

Myers was charged last year with wiretapping in Ohio after a small newspaper he ran published courtroom audio testimony that someone else originally recorded and sent to him. Journalism organizations called for all charges against Myers to be dropped.

The allegations come as Santos faces intense scrutiny following a bombshell New York Times investigation in December showed much of his résumé appeared to have been manufactured, including claims that he owned numerous properties, was previously employed by Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and had attended and graduated from Baruch College.

Santos has admitted to some of the fabrications of his resume while also attempting to downplay his lies. In remarks to the New York Post in December, Santos said: “My sins here are embellishing my résumé. I’m sorry.”

Although some fellow Republicans have called on him to resign, including GOP lawmakers in New York State, the GOP Steering Committee, which is led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, voted to give him two committee posts. Last month, Santos said he will recuse himself from his committee assignments amid multiple investigations into his finances and other issues.

Biden or bust: Democratic insiders are all in for Biden 2024

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PHILADELPHIA — President Joe Biden had one question for Democratic power brokers at a campaign-style rally Friday: “Are you with me?”

The roars of approval and chants of “four more years!” at the Democratic National Committee’s Winter Meeting indicated they were all in for Biden 2024.

Despite lackluster approval ratings, an ongoing classified documents scandal and polls showing most voters would like the 80-year-old to retire, Biden faces zero meaningful opposition to his leadership of the Democratic Party and an unobstructed path to renomination next year, even before he has officially declared his intention to seek it.

During the three-day gathering of elected officials, activists, union leaders, operatives and donors this weekend, serious dissent or discontentment with Biden was almost impossible to find, even after hours at the hotel bar, where alcohol and opinions flowed freely. 

“If he wants to run, I think everybody will be 100 percent unified behind him. I mean, maybe 99.9999, but we’re the most unified we’ve been in a very long time,”  said Jon Bauman, a California DNC member and president of a PAC that promotes Social Security. 

“Eventually, the party’s going to have to move to younger people being in more control, and that’s natural, but this doesn’t feel like the moment yet,” said Bauman, better known as “Bowzer” from the 1950s-style rock and roll group Sha Na Na.

There was no sign of younger Democratic aspirants making behind-the-scenes moves to challenge Biden, nor much evidence of the kind of ideological strife that has cleaved the party so often in recent years. 

Prominent supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, were among those cheering loudest onstage next to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Friday, waving newly printed signs — displaying an updated design introduced last year — that read “GO JOE” on one side and “KAMALA” on the other.

“We feel very very confident in what President Biden is doing and we’re going to support his re-election fully,” said Judith Whitmer, a member of Democratic Socialists of America and former Sanders delegate who won an upset election a few years ago to become chair of the Nevada Democratic Party.

Of course, presidents always run their party establishment, which is not necessarily reflective of rank-and-file voters. But the first signs of real trouble for Biden would likely come from insiders, as was the case for former Democratic presidents like Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter who were pushed out of the White House by friendly fire.

Both past presidents faced Democratic primary threats, with Johnson opting not to seek re-election while Carter won re-nomination but struggled to resolidify the party before the November general election, which he lost.

Outside the DNC meeting, a mobile billboard hired by a small progressive group urged Biden not to run, although the group acknowledged it was struggling to gain traction. Its political director, Sam Rosenthal, said he had spoken with “some DNC members” who privately agreed with their campaign but were “too intimidated to say so publicly.”

Just a year ago, Democratic insiders had no problem displaying their anxiety and disarray.

As inflation rose and Biden’s legislative agenda stalled, up-and-coming Democrats like California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker seemed to be circling the White House like vultures.

But Biden’s prospects turned around dramatically, thanks to the passage of major bills like the Inflation Reduction Act, improving economic news like last week’s strong jobs report, and the better-than-expected results of the midterm election, which Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler called the “proof in the pudding” of Biden’s political strength.

“A lot of people have been pleasantly surprised,” Georgia Democratic Rep. Nikema Williams said of Biden.

It helps that Biden is a creature of the party. Unlike former President Barack Obama, who started his own political group outside the DNC and attended only a few of the DNC’s biannual meetings during his eight years in office, Biden has been to every single in-person meeting so far.

Even DNC members who did not support Biden in the 2020 primary used terms like “wired,” “locked” and “sewn up” to describe the White House’s hold over the party, which is now using to dictate how the 2024 primary will shape up and where its next national convention will be held.

The president is sitting on enough political capital that he felt comfortable taking on New Hampshire and Iowa, booting them from the front of the presidential primary calendar in the biggest shakeup to the primary process in decades. On Saturday, the DNC ratified Biden’s proposal to make South Carolina first.

“This was not the first time the Democratic establishment has pondered whether or not Iowa should remain in the early window, and time and time again, it’s been shot down,” said Mo Elithee, a DNC member who was involved in the calendar rewrite. “People said it couldn’t be done. This president got it done.” 

Democrats from New Hampshire and Iowa protested, but knew they had no hope of standing up to Biden — they couldn’t even hold a press conference at the DNC meeting — and were careful not to criticize Biden or suggest he only promoted South Carolina because he did better there than in their states in 2020. 

“I am not asking you to vote against the president,” New Hampshire’s Joanne Dowdell told the other 400-plus members of the DNC, “Because it broke my heart to vote against his proposed calendar.”

Northeast temperatures soar a day after bone-numbing cold

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Temperatures in many areas of the Northeast U.S. climbed to the mid-40s Fahrenheit on Sunday, a day after the region suffered through temperatures that plummeted into the negative teens and felt like minus 45 to minus 50 degrees with the wind chill.

Atop 6,288-foot Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the temperature rose to a relatively balmy 18 degrees (8 Celsius) a day after the actual temperature nosedived to minus 47 F (minus 44 C) and the wind chill was measured in excess of minus 108 degrees.

There was some collateral damage from the extreme cold and high winds.

Boston Medical Center closed its emergency department after a pipe froze and burst on Saturday night. It is expected to remain closed until Tuesday.

“All patients in the affected areas of the Emergency Department were safely moved to other areas of the hospital,” the center said in a tweet.

A Providence, Rhode Island armory being used as a warming center had some of its windows blown out by raging winds on Friday into Saturday, but repairs were soon completed.

No one at the Cranston Street Armory was ever in danger, Matthew Sheaff, a spokesperson for Gov. Dan McKee, said in an email Sunday. People simply moved to other rooms, he said.

Boston’s Boch Center Wang Theater was forced to cancel two soldout shows by the Impractical Jokers when a sprinkler pipe in the boiler room burst at about 5 p.m. Saturday, the theater said on social media.

The building was evacuated and the shows canceled when the fire department and theater management determined the system could not be quickly repaired. The shows were rescheduled for late April.

James “Murr” Murray of the Impractical Jokers posted his own apology on Twitter.

“To all of our Boston fans, so sorry about tonight. We were five minutes from showtime, with a full theater, at the first show tonight, and the pipes burst from the cold in Boston and flooded the entire basement of the theater,” he said in a short video.

Sunday’s above average temperatures in the region were expected to stick around awhile, said Bob Oravec, the lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.

“We’re having much more milder flow across a good part of the country and we do expect the temperatures to be above average for the upcoming week across the good part of the country, especially the Northeast,”Oravec said.

School food vendor apologizes for ‘inexcusable’ Black History Month menu, and it’s not the first time

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A vendor that provides food service to schools apologized for an “unintentional insensitivity” Black History Month menu, echoing similar apologies its made for more than a decade amid backlash for racially insensitive menus.

Students at Nyack Middle School in New York were served chicken and waffles with an option of watermelon for dessert on the first day of Black History Month last week, according to television station WABC. Both the school’s administration and its food vendor, Aramark, have apologized after students and parents pointed out the racial stereotypes the menu reinforces.

Aramark, the vendor, said in a statement to NBC News on Sunday that the situation “never should have happened” and apologized for what it called an “inexcusable mistake.”

“We have apologized for our mistake, are working to determine how it happened and make sure it never happens again,” the statement said. “Our team at that school should have been more thoughtful in its service.”

Nyack Middle School Principal David Johnson did not immediately return a request for comment to NBC News on Sunday. He did state in a letter to parents that the school was unaware of the menu, WABC reported.

“The vendor has agreed to plan future menu offerings to align with our values and our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion,” the letter said. “We are extremely disappointed by this regrettable situation and apologize to the entire Nyack community for the cultural insensitivity displayed by our food service provider.”

Aramark has been behind similar menus on holidays commemorating Black people that sparked controversy at two other universities in recent years. In 2011, Aramark served chicken and waffles on Martin Luther King Day at the University of California, Irvine.

It said at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times, that the company would conduct cultural sensitivity training for all managers and chefs.

Students at New York University demanded the school cut ties with Aramark after it served an insensitive menu for Black History Month in 2018, which included cornbread, collard greens, Kool-Aid, and watermelon-flavored water, according to the New York Times.

Aramark said in that case that two employees had planned the menu independently and that they had been terminated.

An editorial published in the school’s newspaper, Washington Square News, called the “racial stereotyping” by Aramark on college campuses “unacceptable.”

“Although Aramark has made wide public apologies, it should be judged on its actions,” the editorial said. “Serving racially stereotyped food during Black History Month is another clear indicator that Aramark’s values as a company are misaligned.”

NYU seek to cut its ties with Aramark in 2019 and searched for different vendors, according to the Washington Square News, after students protested the company’s practices and quality to administration. The university’s dining services are now partnered with Chartwells, its website states.

Associating certain foods to Black culture historically derives from how they were once used in popular media to depict Black people in America as poor and uncultured following the abolition of slavery.

In the 1915 silent film “The Birth of a Nation,” fried chicken was used as part of derogatory depictions of Black people. White actors wearing blackface were seen eating fried chicken and tossing bones around the buildings of Congress.

Watermelon, for instance, has been linked to poverty for centuries. The Atlantic reported in 2014 that as early as 1801, a British officer stationed in Egypt called it a “poor Arab’s feast.”

But the stereotype became more widespread in the U.S. after emancipation, when caricatures of freed slaves sought to paint Black people as ignorant and mindless, according to the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University in Michigan.