Archive Month: October 2021

Among the once-taboo professions emerging from Somalia’s decades of conflict and Islamic extremism is the world of arts, and a 21-year-old female painter has faced more opposition than most.

A rare woman artist in the highly conservative Horn of Africa nation, Sana Ashraf Sharif Muhsin lives and works amid the rubble of her uncle’s building that was partially destroyed in Mogadishu’s years of war.

Despite the challenges that include the belief by some Muslims that Islam bars all representations of people, and the search for brushes and other materials for her work, she is optimistic.

“I love my work and believe that I can contribute to the rebuilding and pacifying of my country,” she said.

Sana stands out for breaking the gender barrier to enter a male-dominated profession, according to Abdi Mohamed Shu’ayb, a professor of arts at Somali National University. She is just one of two female artists he knows of in Somalia, with the other in the breakaway region of Somaliland.

And yet Sana is unique “because her artworks capture contemporary life in a positive way and seek to build reconciliation,” he said, calling her a national hero.

Sana, a civil engineering student, began drawing at the age of 8, following in the footsteps of her maternal uncle, Abdikarim Osman Addow, a well-known artist.

“I would use charcoal on all the walls of the house, drawing my vision of the world,” Sana said, laughing. More formal instruction followed, and she eventually assembled a book from her sketches of household items like a shoe or a jug of water.

But as her work brought her more public attention over the years, some tensions followed.

“I fear for myself sometimes,” she said, and recalled a confrontation during a recent exhibition at the City University of Mogadishu. A male student began shouting “This is wrong!” and professors tried to calm him, explaining that art is an important part of the world.

Many people in Somalia don’t understand the arts, Sana said, and some even criticize them as disgusting. At exhibitions, she tries to make people understand that art is useful and “a weapon that can be used for many things.”

A teacher once challenged her skills by asking questions and requiring answers in the form of a drawing, she said.

“Everything that’s made is first drawn, and what we’re making is not the dress but something that changes your internal emotions,” Sana said. “Our paintings talk to the people.”

Her work at times explores the social issues roiling Somalia, including a painting of a soldier looking at the ruins of the country’s first parliament building. It reflects the current political clash between the federal government and opposition, she said, as national elections are delayed.

Another painting reflects abuses against vulnerable young women “which they cannot even express.” A third shows a woman in the bare-shouldered dress popular in Somalia decades ago before a stricter interpretation of Islam took hold and scholars urged women to wear the hijab.

But Sana also strives for beauty in her work, aware that “we have passed through 30 years of destruction, and the people only see bad things, having in their mind blood and destruction and explosions. … If you Google Somalia, we don’t have beautiful pictures there, but ugly ones, so I’d like to change all that using my paintings.”

Sana said she hopes to gain further confidence in her work by exhibiting it more widely, beyond events in Somalia and neighboring Kenya.

But finding role models at home for her profession doesn’t come easily.

Sana named several Somali artists whose work she admires, but she knows of no other female ones like herself.

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Jay-Z added another title to a resume that includes rapper, songwriter, Grammy winner, billionaire business mogul, and global icon — Hall of Famer.

The self-proclaimed “greatest rapper alive” was inducted Saturday night as part of an eclectic 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class that included Foo Fighters, Carole King, Tina Turner, The Go-Gos and Todd Rundgren.

Once a drug dealer on the tough streets of Brooklyn, New York, Jay-Z rose through the rap world with hard, straightforward songs that often portrayed the struggles of Black people in America.

His catalogue includes songs like Hard Knock Life, 99 Problems and Empire State of Mind, as well as 14 No. 1 albums.

Following a video introduction that included President Barack Obama, LeBron James and David Letterman, Jay-Z was inducted by comedian Dave Chappelle, who praised him for being an inspiration.

“He rhymed a recipe for survival,” Chappelle said. “He embodies what the potential of our lives can be and what success can be.”

Paul McCartney welcomed Foo Fighters, who have carried the mantle as one of rock’s top arena acts. Initially, the band was little more than a side project for front man Dave Grohl, who was previously inducted as Nirvana’s drummer.

McCartney described the parallels between himself and Grohl as both were part of massively popular bands that broke up.

“Do you think this guy is stalking me?” McCartney joked.

Foo Fighters and McCartney closed the show with the Beatles’ Get Back.

Rapper LL Cool J was enshrined for musical excellence along with keyboardist Billy Preston and guitarist Randy Rhoads.

 

Electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, singer-poet Gil Scott-Heron and Delta blues legend Charley Patton were inducted as early influencers, and Sussex Records founder Clarence Avant received the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

Cool J recruited some of his heavyweight musical friends to usher him into rock immortality. He was joined on stage by Eminem and Jennifer Lopez for a powerful career-spanning performance.

With New York street style and swagger, Cool J remains a relevant artist more than 40 years after he first spit lyrics.

“What does LL really stand for?” asked rapper/producer Dr. Dre in his induction speech. “Ladies love? Living large? Licking lips? I’m here because I think it stands for living legend.”

Cool J then did a medley of his hits, including Rock The Bells accompanied by a bearded Eminem before he was joined by J-Lo for All I Have. Cool J wrapped up his blistering set with one of his biggest hits, Mama Said Knock You Out.

Superstar Taylor Swift opened the show with one of King’s best-known songs, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, which appeared on Tapestry her seminal 1971 album — a soundtrack for a generation.

Swift gave a heartfelt induction speech for one of her musical idols.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know Carole King’s music,” Swift said, saying her parents taught her several important lessons as a child with one of the most important being “that Carole King is the greatest songwriter of all time.”

King thanked Swift “for carrying the torch forward.” She noted other female singers and songwriters have said they stand on her shoulders.

“Let it not be forgotten,” King said. “They also stand on the shoulders of the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. May she rest in power, Miss Aretha Franklin.”

King then introduced Jennifer Hudson, who performed a stunning, rafter-shaking performance of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman before King sang You Got A Friend.

The 81-year-old Turner, who found her greatest success when she left abusive husband Ike Turner, lives in Switzerland and did not attend the ceremony.

“If they’re still giving me awards at 81,” Turner said in a video message. “I must have done something right.”

Keith Urban and H.E.R. performed It’s Only Love, a duet Turner did with Bryan Adams, before Mickey Guyton took on her most iconic song, What’s Love Got To Do With It. Then Christina Aguilera belted out River Deep, Mountain High.

 

Considered the greatest female group in rock history, The Go-Go’s emerged from Los Angeles’ punk scene in the 1980s. The quintet broke rules and smashed gender ceilings in a male-dominated industry with hits like We Got The Beat, My Lips Are Sealed and Head Over Heels.

“They’ve been in my personal Hall of Fame since I was 6 years old,” said actress Drew Barrymore, who mimicked the cover of the band’s debut album, Beauty and the Beat, during her induction speech by wrapping her body and hair in bath towels and applying face cream.

“Now,” she said. “My childhood fantasy is fulfilled.”

Best known for soft ballads like Hello It’s Me and Love Is The Answer, Rundgren also had a long path to induction. He’s been outspoken about the hall’s selection process and skipped the ceremony in protest.

“Ever defiant,” Patti Smith said in a video presenting Rundgren.

This year’s ceremony was held for the first time at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the 20,000-seat home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and a venue familiar to Jay-Z and Foo Fighters, who have played shows in the arena before.

It was a return to normalcy for the event, which was forced to go virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Artists are not eligible for induction until 25 years after release of their first recording.

There are lively debates every year over omissions, and as Public Enemy’s Chuck D noted during a plaque induction ceremony on Friday at the hall, patience is sometimes another requirement for entrance.

“It ain’t no overnight thing,” he said. “You can’t stumble into this place.”

That was certainly the case for King, who had been eligible for enshrinement as a solo artist since 1986. She went in previously as a songwriter with Gerry Goffin, her late husband, in 1990.

The ceremony will be shown on HBO on Nov. 20. 

 

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Candyman, the latest film by Jordan Peele and director Nia da Costa, is a remake of the 1992 original of the same title, by Bernard Rose. The reimagined Candyman addresses the racial divide, gentrification, and police brutality in Chicago. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

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Green energy is the new focus of China’s one-of-a-kind Belt and Road Initiative or BRI, that aims to build a series of infrastructure projects from Asia to Europe.

The eco-friendlier version of BRI has caught the attention of some 70 other countries that are getting new infrastructure from the Asian economic powerhouse in exchange for expanding trade.

The reset on China’s eight-year-old, $1.2 trillion effort comes after leaving a nagging layer of smog in parts of Eurasia, where those projects operate.

Now the county that’s already mindful of pollution at home is preparing a new BRI that will focus on greener projects, instead of pollution-generating coal-fired plants. It would still further China’s goal of widening trade routes in Eurasia through the initiative’s new ports, railways and power plants.

The Second Belt and Road announced in China on October 18, coincides with the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, which runs from Sunday through November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. China could use the forum to detail its plans.

“China’s policy shift towards a more green BRI reflects China’s own commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2060 and its efforts to implement a green transition within China’s domestic economy,” said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist with the market research firm IHS Markit.

“Furthermore, China’s policy shift…also reflects the increasing policy priority being given towards renewable energy and sustainable development policies by most of China’s BRI partner countries,” he said.

The Belt and Road helps lift the economies of developing countries from Kazakhstan to more modern ones, such as Portugal. BRI also unnerves China’s superpower rival, the United States, which has no comparable program.

History of focusing on fossil fuel

China has a history of putting billions of dollars in fossil fuel projects in other countries since 2013, the American research group Council on Foreign Relations says in a March 2021 study.

From 2014 to 2017, it says, about 90% of energy-sector loans by major Chinese banks to BRI countries were for fossil fuel projects and China was “involved in” 240 coal plants in just 2016. In 2018, the study adds, 40% of energy lending went to coal projects. Those investments, the group says, “promise to make climate change mitigation far more difficult.”

South and Southeast Asia are the main destinations for coal-fired projects at 80% of the total Belt and Road portfolio, the Beijing-based research center Global Environmental Institute says.

Global shift toward green energy

Chinese President Xi Jinping said last year China would try to peak its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030. The Second Belt and Road calls for working with partner countries on “energy transition” toward more wind, solar and biomass, the National Energy Administration and Shandong provincial government said in an October 18 statement. 

Some countries are pushing China to offer greener projects due to environmental pressure at home, though some foreign leaders prefer the faster, cheaper, more polluting options to prove achievements while in office, said Jonathan Hillman, economics program senior fellow at the Center for International & Strategic Studies research organization.

“There was a period in the first phase of the Belt and Road where projects were being shoveled out the door and with not enough attention to the quality of those projects,” he said.

Poorer countries are pressured now to balance providing people basic needs against environmental issues, said Song Seng Wun, an economist in the private banking unit of Malaysian bank CIMB. The basics still “take priority,” he said, and newer coal-fired plants help.

“Although I would say environmental issues (are) important, I think a lot of people don’t realize how much more efficient these more modern coal plants are, so I think we must have a balance,” Song said.

In the past few years however, cancellation rates of coal-fired projects have exceeded new approvals, Hillman said. “The action honestly has come more from participating countries,” he said. “They’ve decided that’s not the direction they want to go.”

In February, Chinese officials told the Bangladesh Ministry of Finance they would no longer consider coal mining and coal-fired power stations. Greece, Kenya, Pakistan and Serbia have asked China to dial back on polluting projects, Hillman said.

“The next decade will show to what extent the Belt and Road will drive green infrastructure,” London-based policy institute Chatham House says in a September 2021 report.

Belt-and-Road renewable energy investments reached a new high last year of 57% of its total for energy projects in 2020, according to IHS data.

New pledges at COP26?

COP26 is expected to showcase the environmental achievements of participating countries as they try to meet U.N. Paris Climate Change commitments, Biswas said.

China’s statements ahead of the conference so far differ little from past statements. But China’s energy administration said on October 18 that its second Belt and Road “emphasizes the necessity of increased support for developing countries” in terms of money, technology and ability to carry out green energy projects.

Chinese companies on BRI projects may eventually be required to reduce environmental risks, Biswas said. Those companies would in turn follow principles released in 2018 to ensure that their projects generate less carbon. A year later, as international criticism grew, Chinese President Xi added a slate of Belt and Road mini-initiatives, including some that touched on green projects.

But the 2019 plans were non-binding and untransparent, Hillman said. At COP26, he said, “I would take any big announcements with more than a grain of salt.”

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Afghan artists and activists say the Taliban have replaced their murals with their logo and slogans, making it impossible for them to continue working in Afghanistan. VOA’s Yalda Baktash has more. Roshan Noorzai contributed.

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Efforts by Chinese diplomats to stop cultural events deemed critical of the government in Beijing have met with mixed results in Europe, succeeding in Germany but being rebuffed by a city government in Italy.

The incident in Germany concerned a new book, Xi Jinping — The Most Powerful Man in the World, by two veteran German journalists, Stern magazine’s China correspondent Adrian Geiges, and Die Welt newspaper publisher Stefan Aust.

Confucius Institutes at two German universities had planned online events on Oct. 27 to coordinate with the book’s launch. But the book’s publisher, Piper Verlag of Munich, said the events were canceled at short notice “due to Chinese pressure.”

The company accused Feng Haiyang, the Chinese consul general in Düsseldorf, of intervening personally to quash the event at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Duisburg and Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

At Leibniz University in Hannover, the Tongji University in Shanghai — which jointly operates the Confucius Institute there — forced the cancellation of an event, according to the company. Neither the publisher nor the institute offered details on what triggered the cancellation.

The institutes, run by China’s education ministry, are seen by Beijing as a way to promote its culture. Many Western countries have become wary of the influence the institutes exert on campuses by subsidizing classes, travel and research.

Dozens of Confucius Institutes have been closed or are closing in Europe and Australia. At least 29 shuttered in the U.S. after the State Department in August 2020 designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center as a “foreign mission” of the Chinese government.

In a statement, Piper Verlag quoted a Confucius Institute employee as saying that “One can no longer talk about Xi Jinping as a normal person, he should now be untouchable and unspeakable.”

Felicitas von Lovenberg, head of Piper Verlag, called the cancellation of the events “a worrying and disturbing signal.”

Aust of Die Welt said the incident confirmed the book’s basic thesis: “For the first time, a dictatorship is in the process of overtaking the West economically, and is now also trying to impose its values, which are against our freedom, internationally.”

The book presented China in a very differentiated way as it also talked about China’s success in overcoming poverty, co-author Geiges said. “Apparently, such balanced reports are no longer enough for Xi Jinping. Stories are no longer enough — he now wants a cult around his person internationally, just as he does in China itself.”

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Berlin said events at Confucius Institutes were planned to bring about better understanding between the two peoples, and they “should build on the basis of comprehensive communications between the partners.”

China supports the development of the institutes as “a platform to understand China comprehensively and objectively,” the embassy spokesperson added. “But we strongly object to any politicization of academic and cultural exchange.”

Both Confucius Institutes said in their respective statements that there were different views between the German and Chinese partners, making it impossible to carry on. The Institute for East Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen had expressed interest in hosting the event, according to the university’s Confucius Institute.

German human rights activist David Missal told VOA Cantonese there has always been pressure from the Chinese side when it comes to critical events, but the tactics were rarely exposed. He took it as a positive development that these incidents are coming to light.

“I think this is the only way to fight this kind of influence in a democracy — you have to make these things public, make them transparent, and then there will be political responses to these incidents,” Missal said.

Reinhard Bütikofer, a German member of the European Parliament who is critical of China, said the next German federal government must draw clear lines about its China policy. “Chinese censorship at German universities? Does not work at all. These so-called ‘Confucius’ institutes, which are in fact CCP aides, have no future,” he tweeted.

 

Earlier this month, the Chinese Embassy in Rome attempted to stop a critical art show, but failed.

A museum in Brescia, an Italian city about 100 kilometers east of Milan, will continue with its plans to open a solo exhibition of the work of Australia-based Chinese exiled activist Badiucao. Scheduled to run from Nov. 13-Feb. 13, the exhibition is entitled “China is [not] near.” It will feature the artist’s work criticizing issues such as China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The Chinese Embassy in Rome sent the Brescia city council a message on Oct. 21, contending that Badiucao’s works twisted facts, spread false information, would mislead the Italian people’s understanding of China while seriously damaging Chinese people’s feelings, and jeopardize friendly relations between China and Italy, according to Italy’s ANSA news agency.

Brescia Mayor Emilio Del Bono told the Il Foglio newspaper the show will not be canceled, adding, “I think it is important to show that you can stay friends while criticizing some things.”

Badiucao told VOA Mandarin via phone on live TV that he was not surprised by the embassy’s position. “I am very excited that the city government and the museum stood strongly with me. I can say very confidently that my exhibition will not be canceled. I will not amend my exhibits or commit any self-censorship.”

VOA Cantonese asked the Chinese Embassy in Rome for comments but received no response.

This story originated in VOA’s Cantonese Service.

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«У глобальному плані зростання цін у всьому світі не є наслідком перетворення постачання газу на зброю, але у випадку Молдови – так», – наголосив Боррель

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The U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to approve legislation to prevent companies that are deemed security threats, such as Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. or ZTE Corp., from receiving new equipment licenses from U.S. regulators. 

The Secure Equipment Act, the latest effort by the U.S. government to crack down on Chinese telecom and tech companies, was approved last week by the U.S. House in a 420-4 vote and now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature. 

“Chinese state-directed companies like Huawei and ZTE are known national security threats and have no place in our telecommunications network,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said. The measure would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from reviewing or issuing new equipment licenses to companies on its “Covered Equipment or Services List.” 

In March, the FCC designated five Chinese companies as posing a threat to national security under a 2019 law aimed at protecting U.S. communications networks. 

The affected companies included the previously designated Huawei and ZTE, as well as Hytera Communications Corp., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. 

The FCC in June had voted unanimously to advance a plan to ban approvals for equipment in U.S. telecommunications networks from those Chinese companies even as lawmakers pursued legislation to mandate it. 

The FCC vote in June drew opposition from Beijing. 

“The United States, without any evidence, still abuses national security and state power to suppress Chinese companies,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson at China’s Foreign Ministry, said in June. 

Under proposed rules that won initial approval in June, the FCC could also revoke prior equipment authorizations issued to Chinese companies. 

A spokesperson for Huawei, which has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, declined to comment Thursday but in June called the proposed FCC revision “misguided and unnecessarily punitive.” 

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the commission has approved more than 3,000 applications from Huawei since 2018. Carr said Thursday the bill “will help to ensure that insecure gear from companies like Huawei and ZTE can no longer be inserted into America’s communications networks.” 

On Tuesday, the FCC voted to revoke the authorization for China Telecom’s U.S. subsidiary to operate in the United States, citing national security concerns. 

 

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company is rebranding itself as Meta in an effort to encompass its virtual-reality vision for the future — what Zuckerberg calls the ” metaverse.” 

Skeptics point out that it also appears to be an attempt to change the subject from the Facebook Papers, a leaked document trove so dubbed by a consortium of news organizations that include The Associated Press. Many of these documents, first described by former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen, have revealed how Facebook ignored or downplayed internal warnings of the negative and often harmful consequences its social network algorithms created or magnified across the world.

“Facebook is the world’s social media platform and they are being accused of creating something that is harmful to people and society,” said marketing consultant Laura Ries. She compared the name Meta to when BP rebranded to “Beyond Petroleum” to escape criticism that it harmed the environment. “They can’t walk away from the social network with a new corporate name and talk of a future metaverse.”

What is the metaverse? Think of it as the internet brought to life, or at least rendered in 3D. Zuckerberg has described it as a “virtual environment” you can go inside of — instead of just looking at on a screen. Essentially, it’s a world of endless, interconnected virtual communities where people can meet, work and play, using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps or other devices.

It also will incorporate other aspects of online life such as shopping and social media, according to Victoria Petrock, an analyst who follows emerging technologies.

Zuckerberg says he expects the metaverse to reach a billion people within the next decade. It will be a place people will be able to interact, work and create products and content in what he hopes will be a new ecosystem that creates millions of jobs for creators.

The announcement comes amid an existential crisis for Facebook. It faces heightened legislative and regulatory scrutiny in many parts of the world following revelations in the Facebook Papers.

In explaining the rebrand, Zuckerberg said the name “Facebook” just doesn’t encompass everything the company does anymore. In addition to its primary social network, that now includes Instagram, Messenger, its Quest VR headset, its Horizon VR platform and more.

“Today we are seen as a social media company,” Zuckerberg said. “But in our DNA, we are a company that builds technology to connect people.”

Facebook the app, along with Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, are here to stay; the company’s corporate structure also won’t change. But on December 1, its shares will start trading under a new ticker symbol, “MVRS.”

Metaverse, he said, is the new way. Zuckerberg, who is a fan of classics, explained that the word “meta” comes from the Greek word “beyond.”

A corporate rebranding won’t solve the myriad problems at Facebook revealed by thousands of internal documents in recent weeks. It probably won’t even get people to stop calling the social media giant Facebook — or a “social media giant,” for that matter.

But that isn’t stopping Zuckerberg, seemingly eager to move on to his next big thing as crisis after crisis emerges at the company he created.

Just as smartphones replaced desktop computers, Zuckerberg is betting that the metaverse will be the next way people will interact with computers — and each other. If Instagram and messaging were Facebook’s forays into the mobile evolution, Meta is its bet on the metaverse.

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Hong Kong lawmakers passed an amendment to the Film Censorship Bill Wednesday that will allow authorities to ban films past or present that are seen as a threat to national security.

People found guilty of producing such films can land punishments of up to three years in jail and a fine of $128,000.

Back in June, the Hong Kong government first announced proposed amendments to the territory’s film ordinance law. Filmmakers, both local and overseas, told VOA that the action would stifle the movie industry.

But at Wednesday’s meeting of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council – the city’s mini-parliament – as the bill was passed, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, a pro-Beijing lawmaker said, “No society in the world welcomes forces that encourage young people to break the law, harbor hatred against their own countries and embrace terrorism,” The South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

The Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers had previously stated it was “worried” by the new law, but when contacted by VOA had no further comment.

Christopher Ling, a commercial director and filmmaker in Hong Kong, told VOA earlier this year that the law has raised concern in the industry.

“For films that don’t care about the Chinese market, most Hong Kong features have a lot of freedom to voice out what the director wants to talk about.”

“After the law, [that] seems like that won’t be the case anymore. And the scariest part is that it’s up to the government to say what’s alright and what’s not, there’s no clear indication of what can be said and what not,” he said.

Ling said films considered politically sensitive will be affected in other ways, even if they are not screened in Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong movies aside, I’m also worried that a lot of films can’t be imported and distributed in Hong Kong from now on. Not even big production movies should be worried, even the independent short films…filmmakers should also be worried that the law might be affecting them,” he added.

But Kenny Kwok Kwan Ng, Associate Professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University Academy of Film, told VOA that the law will likely target independent productions more than commercial, big-budget films.

“The main impact may fall on documentaries. Particularly in the past few years or the past decade, there has been a rise in documentaries, not commercially, more independently made, [and] also recording social events, social crises.”

“These kinds of movies are more prone to the censorship law because if they record the events, things that deemed by the government as risky or undesirable or endangering social harmonies, social security – these things will probably have been prohibited for showing in the public,” Ng told VOA in a phone call.

As for commercial productions, Ng said if they have value, there is still room to produce movies based on governmental issues in society. Ng pointed to the recently released Raging Fire, a Hong Kong-Chinese action movie that focuses on a good cop, bad cop scenario. The movie has so far grossed over $213 million worldwide.

“You have the leeway to talk about how the bad cop turned corrupt, what kind of social institutional problems he’s facing. Maybe that’s the way these cop genres can deal with it. In the near future will this space be even more limited? We don’t know. It has to be tested case by case. It depends on each films response, that’s why I think filmmakers are still figuring out and testing the waters,” he added.

Ng said he is trying to be optimistic about the censorship law because it encourages new filmmakers to be more creative when making independent movies.

“It really depends on the young filmmakers, their creativity, if they are willing to go around and to see other ways of storytelling – I think this is a challenge for them and hope they take up the challenge,” he added.

But with the censor law in place, Ng said filmmakers are already looking at alternative channels to showcase their productions and get around censors.

“People have also begun talking about alternative channels, rather than beyond conventional cinema houses, like streamlining, social media. It will be a kind of struggle between the players and the government,” Ng added.

Hong Kong has already seen examples of censorship in the film industry.

In March, a local cinema canceled the screening of the award-winning documentary Inside the Red Brick Wall. The documentary focused on the clashes between protesters and police at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University in November 2019 that lasted nearly two weeks.

The same month, Hong Kong’s largest TV network, Television Broadcast Ltd, known as TVB, canceled its broadcast of the Academy Awards for the first time in over 50 years, citing “commercial reasons.” The decision came as China requested media to lessen the coverage of the awards after Norwegian filmmaker Anders Hammer’s documentary Do Not Split received an Oscar nomination. The documentary also focused on Hong Kong’s much-publicized anti-government demonstrations.

And organizers of the Fresh Wave International Short Film Festival in Hong Kong canceled the screening of Far From Home, a short political film that also focused on political unrest two years ago.

China’s government has been targeting the entertainment sector of late. Its crackdown has seen new government controls for broadcasters on beauty standards, and to curb “effeminate male celebrities.” The government has also been displeased with the political views of Beijing-born director Chloe Zhao, who subsequently won the best director award for her movie Nomadland.

Since Beijing enacted a national security law in Hong Kong last year, books judged to be sensitive to the law have been removed from libraries and schools. In June, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was forced to close after its executives were arrested under the security law. Among other things, the law prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, and its details can be widely interpreted.  

 

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The State Department is creating a new Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy to focus on tackling cybersecurity challenges at a time of growing threats from opponents. There will also be a new special envoy for critical and emerging technology, who will lead the technology diplomacy agenda with U.S. allies.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the organizational changes underscore the need for a robust approach for dealing with cyber threats. 

“We want to make sure technology works for democracy, fighting back against disinformation, standing up for internet freedom, and reducing the misuse of surveillance technology,” Blinken said in a speech on modernizing American diplomacy. 

Blinken said the new bureau will be led by an ambassador-at-large. The chief U.S. diplomat is also seeking a 50% increase in State Department’s information technology budget. 

The announcement comes as hackers backed by foreign governments, such as Russia and China, continue to attack U.S. infrastructures and global technology systems to steal sensitive information.

Earlier this year, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that more countries are relying on cyber operations to steal information, influence populations and damage industry, but the U.S. is most concerned about Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

The U.S. technology giant Microsoft said on Monday that the same Russia-backed hackers responsible for the 2020 SolarWinds breach of corporate computer systems are continuing to attack global technology systems, this time targeting cloud service resellers.

A senior State Department official told reporters on Wednesday that Washington has been clear with Moscow that cyber criminals targeting the U.S. is “not acceptable.” The United States has asked the Russian government to “take action against that type of criminal behavior.” 

Confronting cyberattacks continues to be “a high priority” in U.S. relations with Russia, the senior official said.

China is also considered to be one of the United States’ main cyber adversaries, having coordinated teams both inside and outside of the government conducting cyberespionage campaigns that were large-scale and indiscriminate, according to analysts.

Over the past year, experts have attributed notable hacks in the U.S., Europe and Asia to China’s Ministry of State Security, the nation’s civilian intelligence agency, which has taken the lead in Beijing’s cyberespionage, consolidating efforts by the People’s Liberation Army. 

In addition to expanding the State Department’s capacity on cybersecurity, Blinken also unveiled other steps to modernize American diplomacy, including the launch of a new “policy ideas channel” that allows American diplomats to share their policy ideas directly with senior leadership, building and retaining a diverse workforce, as well as a plan to “reinvigorate the in-person diplomacy and public engagement.” 

The organization changes to beef up resources and staffers to tackle international cybersecurity challenges came after the State Department completed an extensive review of cyberspace and emerging technology.

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Actor Alec Baldwin fired a vintage Colt pistol loaded with a live lead round in the accidental fatal shooting last week of a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of his movie “Rust,” authorities said on Wednesday.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies held a briefing six days after Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal for a scene inside a church at the filming location in New Mexico.

No one has been charged. Mendoza and Carmack-Altwies it is too early to discuss charges but said charges would be filed if warranted.

“No one has been ruled out at this point,” Carmack-Altwies said referring to potential charges. She said the investigation is not yet concluded.

Authorities have the firearm used in the shooting, the sheriff said. Mendoza said what is thought to be additional live rounds have been found on the set but they would be subject to testing by ballistics experts.

Mendoza said the gun was Long Colt revolver. “It’s a suspected live round that was fired but it did fire from the weapon and it did cause injury. That would lead us to believe it was a live round,” he said.

The sheriff said Baldwin has been cooperative in the investigation.

“He’s obviously the person that fired the weapon,” Mendoza said. “Right now, he is an active part of this investigation.”

The sheriff also said there was “complacency” on the set regarding firearms.

The shooting has sent shockwaves through Hollywood, prompting a debate about safety protocols in film and television – including whether certain types of guns used as props should be banned – and working conditions on low-budget productions.

Authorities have said in court filings that Baldwin last Thursday was handed what he thought was a “cold,” or safe, gun by the film’s assistant director David Halls, who took it from a cart used by Hannah Gutierrez, who was employed to oversee firearms and their safety in a job called an armorer.

The gun instead contained what police called “live rounds,” and a shot hit Hutchins in the chest and director Joel Souza, standing behind her, in the shoulder. Hutchins was transported by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Souza was treated at a hospital and released.

The lead round was recovered from Souza, Mendoza said.

Baldwin, 63, serves as a co-producer of “Rust,” a Western film set in 1880s Kansas, and plays an outlaw grandfather of a 13-year-old boy convicted of an accidental killing. Production had been taking place at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, located south of Santa Fe, and has been halted.

Baldwin has called it a “tragic accident” and, like other cast and crew, is cooperating with police.

The film’s producers have hired the law firm Jenner & Block to investigate the shooting. In a letter sent to cast and crew on Tuesday night, the film’s production team said Jenner “will have full discretion about who to interview and any conclusions they draw.”

Baldwin was drawing a revolver across his body and pointing it at a camera while rehearsing when the weapon fired, according to a sheriff’s department affidavit released on Sunday.

Detectives recovered two boxes of “ammo,” “loose ammo and boxes” as well as “a fanny pack w/ammo,” along with several spent casings, according to a court filing.

Before the incident, camera operators had walked off the set to protest working conditions, according to the affidavit.

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