Archive Month: September 2021



Six Native American tribes sued Wisconsin on Tuesday to try to stop its planned gray wolf hunt in November, asserting that the hunt violates their treaty rights and endangers an animal they consider sacred.

The Chippewa tribes say treaties give them rights to half of the wolf quota in territory they ceded to the United States in the mid-1800s. But rather than hunt wolves, the tribes want to protect them.

The tribal lawsuit comes three weeks after a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups sued to stop Wisconsin’s wolf hunt this fall and void a state law mandating annual hunts, arguing that the statutes don’t give wildlife managers any leeway to consider population estimates.

Hunters blew past their limit during a court-ordered hunt in February. The state Department of Natural Resources set the quota at 119, but hunters killed 218 wolves in just four days, forcing an early end to the season.

Conservationists then deluged the department with requests to cancel this fall’s hunt out of concerns it could devastate the wolf population. Agency biologists recommended setting the fall quota at 130. But the agency’s board last month set the kill limit at 300.

The tribes have claimed their half, but since they won’t hunt wolves, the working quota for state-licensed hunters would be 150. The lawsuit alleges the board’s decision to set the quota at 300 was a deliberate move to nullify the tribes’ share and was not based on science.

The DNR’s latest estimates put Wisconsin’s wolf population at roughly 1,000. Opponents say hunters probably killed at least a quarter of the population if poaching is included.

“In our treaty rights, we’re supposed to share with the state 50-50 in our resources and we’re feeling that we’re not getting our due diligence because of the slaughter of wolves in February,” John Johnson Sr., president of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

The Ojibwe word for “wolf” is Ma’iingan, and the Indigenous people of the Great Lakes region often call themselves Anishinaabe. The wolf holds a sacred place in their creation story.

“To the Anishinaabe, the Ma’iingan are our brothers. The legends and stories tell us as brothers we walk hand in hand together. What happens to the Ma’iingan happens to humanity,” Marvin Defoe, an official and elder with Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, said in the statement.

Hunters, farmers and conservationists have been fighting over how to manage Wisconsin’s wolves. Farmers say wolves kill livestock, while hunters are looking for another species to stalk.

The six tribes are represented by Earthjustice, which is one of several groups that are suing the federal government over the Trump administration’s decision last November to lift Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across most of the U.S. and return management authority to the states.

Gray wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan are considered part of the western Great Lakes population, which is managed separately from wolves in Western states.

The Biden administration last Wednesday said federal protections may need to be restored for western wolves because Republican-backed state laws have made it much easier to kill the predators. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s initial determination that western wolves could again be imperiled launched a yearlong biological review.

Dozens of tribes asked the Biden administration one day earlier to immediately enact emergency protections for gray wolves across the country, saying states have become too aggressive in hunting them. They asked Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to act quickly on an emergency petition they filed in May to relist the wolf as endangered or threatened. 

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The projectors are rolling. The ruby slippers are on. Many an Oscar sits glistening. The shark has been hanging, and waiting, for nearly a year.  

Nine years after it was announced, four years after its first projected open date, and five months since its last planned launch date, the U.S. film academy’s museum is ready to open to the public on Sept 30.  

“I’m very moved to be able to say to you, finally, at last, boy howdy hey, welcome to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures,” Tom Hanks told reporters Tuesday at a media preview of the Los Angeles building and its exhibits.  

Hanks, a member of the board of trustees, led the fundraising for the project along with fellow actor Annette Bening and Walt Disney Co. executive chairman Bob Iger.  

“We all know, films are made everywhere in the world, and they are wonderful films,” Hanks said. “And there are other cities with film museums, but with all due respect, created by the Motion Picture Academy, in Los Angeles, this museum has really got to be the Parthenon of such places.”  

The first thing most visitors will notice on entering the building is Bruce, a 1,208-pound (548-kilogram), 25-foot-long (7.6-meter), 46-year-old shark made from the “Jaws” mold. Bruce hangs above the bank of main escalators and was hoisted there last November in anticipation of what was then a planned April opening. 

The featured inaugural exhibit celebrates the works of the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Others examine the work of directors Spike Lee and Pedro Almodovar.  

Some galleries focus on the Oscars, with actual statuettes won across the decades, and speeches projected on walls.  

Projected scenes are a theme in all the museum’s galleries, with technology from 18th century “magic lanterns” through silent films to the 3-D digital tech of today.  

Costumes from “The Wizard of Oz” to “The Wiz” are on display, including Dorothy’s ruby slippers. 

Announced in 2012 and first slated to open in 2017, the museum was beset with delays that are typical for such a project, but they were compounded by a pair of pandemic postponements.  

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is a 300,000-square-foot (27,871-square-meter) space made up of two buildings, one old, one new, at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  

“It’s shiny and new and enormous, and it’s crammed with about 125 years’ worth of ideas and dreams and life-changing cinematic experiences,” actor Anna Kendrick said at the media preview.  

The older structure is the 1930s Saban Building, once home to the May Company department store. It’s linked by bridges to a new building that is topped by a terrace and a concrete-and-glass dome that has a distinctiveness that could lead to a nickname.  

Piano said Tuesday that he hopes it’s “the soap bubble” and not something more cinematic.  

“Please,” the architect said, “don’t call it the Death Star.”  

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The Nigerian aid group Center for Civilians in Conflict is marking this year’s U.N. International Day of Peace with a photo exhibit on the conflict in the country’s northeast. The photographs depict some of the millions of civilians caught up in the 12-year conflict started by militant group Boko Haram.

The photo exhibit opened Tuesday morning at the Thought Pyramid Art Center in Abuja. Around 150 visitors arrived in batches to see images taken from scenes of the Boko Haram insurgency and the communities affected by it. 

Art lover Hillary Essien, who attended the exhibit, says the photos tell a story of pain and survival. 

“They’re actual people, being here and seeing that these people are out there away from their homes, families, fearing for their lives, it’s just really touching to be honest,” she said. 

Nigerian photojournalist Damilola Onafuwa took the photos for nonprofit Center for Civilians in Conflict, and says he’s happy about the effect the pictures are having on viewers. 

“When I create these works, I only create them because I want people to know,” he said. “I want to share the stories of people that I’m photographing. When people see it and I see how much impact it has on them, that makes me very happy.” 

Nigeria has been battling the Boko Haram insurgency for 12 years. The fighting has claimed an estimated 350,000 lives, according to the United Nations Development Program, and displaced millions of others. 

But Boko Haram is not the only group threatening the northeast. Armed criminal groups are becoming more active, often kidnapping people for ransom. Communal clashes over grazing lands are leading to raids and burnings of villages.

The Center for Civilians in Conflict says the exhibit aims to raise awareness about these issues with the view of addressing them. 

“The exhibition tries to chronicle the lives of ordinary Nigerians who are trying everything possible to maintain the peace,” said Beson Olugbuo, a director at the center. “The idea is to use photographs as a means of advocacy and also to remind the federal government that they have a primary responsibility to maintain law and order, to protect lives and property and ensure that peace reigns.” 

The International Day of Peace is observed every year on September 21.

 

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My Childhood My Country: 20 Years in Afghanistan is the latest documentary by award-winning filmmakers Phil Grabsky and Shoaib Sharifi. Grabsky spoke with VOA’s Penelope Poulou about this 20-year film expose on life in Afghanistan through the eyes of an Afghan youth from his early childhood to today.

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Benin Startup Builds Low-Cost Computers

By : -

BloLab is converting plastic jerricans into computers using recycled components.. Anne Nzouankeu visited the startup in Cotonou, Benin in this story narrated by Moki Edwin Kindzeka.

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Royal drama “The Crown” and feel good comedy “Ted Lasso” nabbed the top prizes at television’s Emmy awards on Sunday on a night dominated by streaming shows, British talent and rare wins by women. 

Chess drama “The Queen’s Gambit” was named best limited series and tied with “The Crown” for the most wins overall at 11 apiece.  

The best drama series win for “The Crown” gave Netflix its biggest prize so far, while Apple TV+ entered streaming’s big league with the best comedy series win for “Ted Lasso.” Neither Netflix nor Apple TV+ had previously won a best comedy or best drama series Emmy. 

Jason Sudeikis, the star and co-creator of “Ted Lasso,” was named best comedy actor.  

The show also brought statuettes for Britons Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein for their supporting roles in the tale of a struggling English soccer team that won over TV fans with its folksy humor during the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic.  

“This show is about family. This show’s about mentors and teachers and this show’s about teammates. And I wouldn’t be here without those three things in my life,” Sudeikis said on Sunday. 

Despite a nominees list that boasted the strongest showing in years for people of color, only a handful emerged as winners.  

They included Britain’s Michaela Coel, who won for writing the harrowing sexual assault drama “I May Destroy You” in which she also starred and directed; RuPaul, host of the competition show “RuPaul’s Drag Race;” and the cast of hip-hop Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which won the Emmy for variety special after it was filmed for television. 

Dancer, singer and actor Debbie Allen was given an honorary award celebrating 50 years in show business. “It’s taken a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time,” Allen said. 

It was a good night for women, and for Britons. “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable,” said Coel, who dedicated her Emmy to sexual assault survivors. 

Lucia Aniello got a rare directing win for a woman for the comedy series “Hacks” about a fading female comedian. She also was one of the winning co-writers. Britain’s Jessica Hobbs took home a directing Emmy for “The Crown.” 

“Not a lot of women have won this award so I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of some really extraordinary people,” Hobbs said. 

Seven of the 12 acting awards went to Britons, including Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor for playing Queen Elizabeth and heir to the throne Prince Charles in a fourth season of “The Crown” that focused on the unhappy marriage of Charles and Princess Diana. 

“We’re all thrilled. I am very proud. I’m very grateful. We’re going to party,” said Peter Morgan, creator of “The Crown,” at a gathering in London for the cast and crew. 

An exuberant Kate Winslet won for her role as a downtrodden detective in limited series “Mare of Easttown,” while Ewan McGregor was a surprise winner for playing fashion designer “Halston.” 

Concerns over the Delta variant of the coronavirus forced Sunday’s ceremony to move to an outdoor tent in downtown Los Angeles, with a reduced guest list and mandatory vaccinations and testing but a red carpet that harked back to pre-pandemic times. 

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The miniature statutes given at the Emmy Awards on Sunday can be an outsized boon to egos, careers and guessing games.

Will The Mandalorian bow to The Crown as best drama series? Can the feel-good comedy Ted Lasso charm its way into freshman glory? Will Jean Smart be honored as best comedy actress for Hacks? (She will.)

But there’s oh-so-much more at stake when the TV industry — or a pandemic-constrained slice of it — gathers to honor itself at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.

The ceremony (8 p.m. EDT, CBS) is a snapshot of a business morphing into its 21st-century form; who we see or don’t see on the small screen, and the rapid splintering of TV and its viewers.

The obvious winners and losers are those to be revealed in 27 categories during the s how hosted by Cedric the Entertainer. But there’s more at stake than personal victories, and yardsticks of success or failure beyond trophies.

Here’s some of the outcomes and trends to watch for, both up close and wide-angle.

Streamers set to conquer

Streaming services are poised for a triumphant night that will cast further shade on the status of broadcast networks, including the big three ABC, CBS and NBC, and once-dominant cable channels such as HBO and Showtime.

“This is the year that the streamers will officially conquer Hollywood,” likely winning best drama and comedy series honors for the first time, said Tom O’Neil, editor of the Gold Derby predictions website and author of The Emmys.

Premium cable’s encroachment on turf once owned by broadcasting was gradual: HBO launched in 1972 and waited two decades for its first best series Emmy nod, earned by Garry Shandling’s comedy The Larry Sanders Show. It wasn’t until the 2000s arrived that Sex and the City and The Sopranos earned best series prizes.

In contrast, streaming is racing ahead with Ferrari-like speed, especially as the services multiply and shell out big bucks for shows aimed at winning over paying customers.

In 2017, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale became the first streamed series to win the best drama Emmy. The next year, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel scored a matching victory on the comedy side for Amazon, which won again in 2019 for Fleabag.

Victory is possible for either Netflix’s The Crown or the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, which topped the nods with 24 each. For Netflix, which launched its on-demand service in 2007 and fielded the first drama series nominee, House of Cards in 2014, patience would finally be rewarded.

For Disney+, the victory would be swift and sweet: it launched in November 2019. Apple TV+, which arrived the same year, could win its first top series award with Ted Lasso. If that happens, streaming’s prominence would be solidified with the one-two punch in the comedy and drama categories.

Room at the table

The push for diversity has moved at a grindingly slower pace than the digital revolution, but this year’s slate of nominees was unimaginable just a few years ago.

Of the 96 acting nods for drama, comedy and miniseries, nearly 44% — a total of 42 nominations — went to people of color. According to 2020 Census figures, white Americans make up just under 58% of the population.

Among this year’s groundbreakers: Mj Rodriguez of Pose, the first trans performer to be nominated in a lead acting category, and Bowen Yang of Saturday Night Live, the first Asian American to compete for best supporting comedy actor.

The top drama acting categories are particularly inclusive, and strikingly so in comparison to a decade ago when all of the 12 nominees for best actor and actress were white, with Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) and Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) the winners.

That was 2011, this is now. Black men make up a majority of the lead drama actor nominees, four of six, including past winners Sterling K. Brown for This Is Us and Pose star Billy Porter — the first openly gay man to win the category, in 2019.

Half of the six best-actress contenders are women of color. Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country) and Uzo Aduba (In Treatment) are Black, and Rodriguez is Afro Latina.

If the final test of inclusivity is who wins, the story could be different. The Crown stars Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin are considered frontrunners for their portrayals of ill-fated royal mates Charles and Diana.

Pandemic, Part 2

Constraints can breed inventiveness.

Last year’s all-virtual ceremony included a defining lockdown moment: Hazmat-suited trophy couriers who loitered outside nominees’ homes until their categories were called, either handing over the award or taking it disappointingly away.

“Somebody mentioned (the idea) in a meeting as kind of as a joke, and then it was constantly needling away at us and we decided that it could be a great way to do it,” recalled Guy Carrington, a producer for the 2020 Emmys.

This year, about 500 nominees and guests will gather under a glammed-up tent in downtown L.A., with COVID-19 precautions including a vaccine requirement and testing. There are big names among the presenters, including Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Dolly Parton and Awkwafina, but at least one star, Jennifer Aniston, was candid about staying away because of virus concerns.

Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart, executive producers for the telecast, said they approached the reduced attendance as an opportunity.

Instead of being confined in a theater seat, guests will be at tables and part of what sounds like an oversized dinner party — with drinks and snacks allowed — and encouraged to mingle.

“To have the industry come out and sit together and see each other, it is a celebration,” said Stewart.

Hello, is anyone out there?

Ratings for awards show, from Oscars to the Grammys, have been steadily declining in recent years and hit new depths during the pandemic. Despite honoring the TV shows that kept us company through COVID’s darkness, the Emmys weren’t exempt.

After hitting a record-low viewership of just under 7 million in 2019, last year’s telecast tumbled further to 6.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Part of it is simply awards overload, with upstart, dime-a-dozen ceremonies taking the luster off the major ones, including the 94-year-old, grande dame Oscars and the Emmys, which turn 73 on Sunday.

Then there’s the shows’ sheer length. A leisurely, three-hour telecast, commercials included, was expected and tolerated in the old TV world. In the new one, viewers are more inclined to check out an event’s highlights online and at will.

But as Hudlin sees it, social media can give as well as take.

“If you deliver a show that works, if people say, ‘Oh, are you watching the Emmys thing? It’s kind of cool,’ all of a sudden people start tuning in because you’re talking about it like, ‘Yo, this is crazy,'” Hudlin said. “So we like to keep it crazy.”

Details were under wraps, but there will be music: Reggie Watts, band leader for The Late Late Show with James Corden, is the night’s DJ.

The event’s producers also recognize that niche shows on cable and streaming may be unfamiliar to many viewers, especially those who favor network shows such as ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy or CBS’ The Neighborhood — the latter starring Emmy host Cedric the Entertainer.

“We have gone to a lot of those mainstream, well-known actors, actresses and people in the industry to be presenters so that we do reflect popular television,” Stewart said. 

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Halima Aden, the first supermodel to wear a hijab and pose in a burkini, has ripped up her lucrative contracts in an industry she feels lacks “basic human respect” and entered the world of modest fashion design instead.

For the Somali-American who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, it was a matter of preserving her self-worth and well-being in a fast and loose sector that increasingly clashed with her Muslim values.

“Since I was a little girl, this quote — ‘don’t change yourself, change the game’ — has gotten me through so much in life,” she told AFP in an interview in Istanbul.

“When I took the decision to quit, that is exactly what I did,” she said. “So I am very, very proud.”

Aden’s departure last November delivered a shock to fashionistas and Muslim influencers who have admired her trailblazing career.

Aden, who turns 24 on Sunday, broke ground in Minnesota, where she became the first contestant to wear a hijab and a burkini — a full-body swimsuit whose appearance has stirred controversy on some European beaches — in a U.S. state beauty pageant in 2016.

She posed in them again for Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue when her fame was spreading in 2019.

But personally, Aden felt increasingly boxed in — sometimes literally.

“I was always given a box, a private place to change in, but many times I was the only one given the privacy,” she said.

“I got to see my fellow young women having to undress and change in public, in front of media personalities, cooks and staff, designers and assistants,” she recalled.

“To me, it was very jarring,” she said. “I couldn’t be in an industry where there is no basic human respect.”

‘Poison!’

Aden sounded liberated when she announced her decision to abandon photo shoots and catwalks last year. She is becoming a designer instead.

“Wow this is actually the most RELIEF I felt since I started in 2016. Keeping that in was literal POISON!” she said on Instagram.

She felt her traditions, starkly different from those of most other supermodels, were caricatured and turned into a gimmick by some brands.

One, American Eagle, replaced a headscarf with a pair of jeans on her head in a 2017 campaign.

“But… this isn’t even my style??” she protested on Instagram at the time.

“I got to a place where I couldn’t recognize my hijab the way I would traditionally wear it,” Aden told AFP.

Aden looked far more at ease in Istanbul, surrounded by Middle Eastern fashionistas while attending an event organized by Modanisa, her new home.

She will be designing collections exclusively for the Turkish online brand, which is one of the biggest names in the modest fashion industry, valued at $277 billion in 2019.

It already makes up more than a tenth of the $2.2 trillion global fashion industry, with plenty of room to grow, according to DinarStandard, an advisory firm specializing in emerging Muslim markets.

‘Taste of the world’

World capitals as diverse as Moscow, Riyadh and London have staged modest fashion shows in the past few years.

The trend is particularly strong in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where Aden rejoices at the melee of cultures on the streets.

 

“What I love the most about Turkey, especially Istanbul, is that it is very diverse, you see women who don’t wear the hijab right alongside women who wear the hijab,” she said.

“You get a taste of the world in Istanbul.”

The industry has taken off in the past decade, thanks in part to the modelling careers of women such as Aden.

Soft-spoken but smiley, Aden sounds confident in modest fashion’s ability to withstand crises like the coronavirus pandemic and changing fads.

“It is the oldest fashion staple, it’s been around for hundreds of years, it will continue to be around for hundreds of years,” she said.

Islam and fashion “are 100% compatible because there’s nothing in our religion that says you can’t be fashionable,” she said.

Luxury brands such as DKNY and Dolce & Gabbana have already picked up on the trend, creating collections catered to modest women.

But Aden hit out at “a lot of tokenism, especially in the fashion industry, where they want our money but they don’t want to support us in the issues that we are faced with.”

“I think fashion needs to do a greater job,” she said. “You are representing your clients who are Muslims, it is important to speak up when they are faced with injustices.” 

 

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Leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia will agree to take steps to build secure semiconductor supply chains when they meet in Washington next week, the Nikkei business daily said Saturday, citing a draft of the joint statement.

 

U.S. President Joe Biden will host a first in-person summit of leaders of the “Quad” countries, which have sought to boost co-operation to push back against China’s growing assertiveness. The draft says that in order to create robust supply chains, the four countries will ascertain their semiconductor supply capacities and identify vulnerability, the Nikkei said, without unveiling how it had obtained the document.

 

The statement also says the use of advanced technologies should be based on the rule of respecting human rights, the newspaper said on its web site.

 

The draft does not name China, but the move is aimed at preventing China’s way of utilizing technologies for maintaining an authoritarian regime from spreading to the rest of the world, the Nikkei said.

 

The United States and China are at odds over issues across the board, including trade and technology, while Biden said in April his country and Japan, a U.S. ally, will invest together in areas such as 5G and semiconductor supply chains.

 

No officials were immediately available for comment at the Japanese foreign ministry.

 

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