• Evan Agostini/Invision, via AP

    Pussy Riot Slams Putin in Brooklyn

    Punk band Pussy Riot made an impassioned appearance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Wednesday alongside Madonna, Blondie and a very chill Lauryn Hill.

    There were no balaclavas but there were plenty of blondes, including a certain Material Girl, on stage to celebrate the Russian punk band Pussy Riot at Amnesty International’s 'Bringing Human Rights Home’ concert last night at Brooklyn’s cavernous Barclays Center.

    Amnesty is in the business of decrying human-rights abuses around the world, and no recent victims of power have captured the global imagination more fervently, nor won more celebrity attention to their cause, than Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina, who—along with band member Yekaterina Samutsevich—were found guilty of hooliganism and imprisoned in Russia’s harsh penal colonies for playing a “punk prayer” denouncing President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in February 2012.

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  • AFP/Getty Images

    Aide allegedly admits that he, and not President Joyce Banda, circulated a scathing letter about the pop star.

    Remember that scathing letter issued a few days ago from the office of Joyce Banda, the President of Malawi, which slammed pop-star Madonna as “a musician who desperately thinks she must generate recognition by bullying state officials instead of playing decent music on the stage”? At the time, it seemed incredible that Banda was willing to take on the mega-celebrity, who adopted two children from the impoverished African nation and who has been involved in charity work there. Some newspapers speculated that the tiff was a family affair—the president’s sister had once been employed by Madonna, and was supposedly scapegoated over a botched bid by Madonna’s Raising Malawi charity to finance schools.

    Well, turns out, Banda apparently didn’t write the letter at all. Britain’s Daily Telegraph says they have obtained an email written by one of Banda’s aides, who allegedly admitted that he’d sent out the missive without bothering to double-check with the press secretary or the president herself. The Telegraph says the aide told a friend that he'd been “reprimanded” by Banda over the incident and that the president “is mad at me.”

    Read it at The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
  • This image released by Liz Rosenberg Media, shows singer Madonna visiting school children in Chorwe, Malawi on April 3, 2013. (Liz Rosenberg Media/AP)

    Bad Girl

    Malawi Accuses Madonna Of "Blackmail"

    President Joyce Banda says pop star expected the government to "roll out a red carpet"

    By Aislinn Laing

    The 54-year-old pop star, who has adopted two children from the impoverished African country, wanted the Malawian government to "roll out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute in her honor", according to the statement in the name of President Joyce Banda.

    It was "strange and depressing", the statement said, that Madonna appeared to want Malawi's gratitude for her adoption of David and Mercy.

    "Kindness, as far as its ordinary meaning is concerned, is free and anonymous. If it can't be free and silent, it is something else. Blackmail is the closest it becomes."

    Malawi's State House rejected claims that Mrs Banda had refused to see Madonna because she sacked her sister as head of her charity in the country and rubbished her assertion that she had built 10 schools there, saying she should "learn as a matter of urgency the decency of telling the truth".

    "Madonna feels that the Malawi Government and its leadership should have abandoned everything and attended to her because she believes she is a music star turned benefactor who is doing Malawi good," it read.

    "For her to tell the whole world that she is building schools in Malawi when she has actually only contributed to the construction of classrooms is not compatible with manners of someone who thinks she deserves to be revered with state grandeur," Tusekele Mwanyongo, a State House press officer, wrote.

    Madonna's relationship with Malawi began in 2006 with David's adoption, but soured after a report accused many of the local staff running her Raising Malawi charity of financial impropriety. She returned to Malawi last week to review the progress of her plan to build 10 community schools, and asked for an audience with the president in a hand-written note.

    Not only did the visit not take place but there followed a series of angry statements from the Malawian government about the singer's claims to have built schools.

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