Published by : ProdusB

This year’s Nobel Prize season approaches as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shattered decades of almost uninterrupted peace in Europe and raised the risks of a nuclear disaster.

The secretive Nobel committees never hint who will win the prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, economics or peace. It’s anyone’s guess who might win the awards being announced starting Monday.

Yet there’s no lack of urgent causes deserving the attention that comes with winning the world’s most prestigious prize: wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia, disruptions to supplies of energy and food, rising inequality, the climate crisis, the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The science prizes reward complex achievements beyond the understanding of most. But the recipients of the prizes in peace and literature are often known by a global audience, and the choices — or perceived omissions — have sometimes stirred emotional reactions.

Members of the European Parliament have called for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine to be recognized this year by the Nobel Peace Prize committee for their resistance to the Russian invasion.

While that desire is understandable, that choice is unlikely because the Nobel committee has a history of honoring figures who end conflicts, not wartime leaders, said Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Smith believes more likely peace prize candidates would be those fighting climate change or the International Atomic Energy Agency, a past recipient. Honoring the IAEA again would recognize its efforts to prevent a radioactive catastrophe at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant amid fighting in Ukraine, and its work in fighting nuclear proliferation, Smith said.

“This is a really difficult period in world history, and there is not a lot of peace being made,” he said.

Promoting peace isn’t always rewarded with a Nobel. India’s Mohandas Gandhi, a prominent symbol of nonviolence, was never so honored.

In some cases, the winners have not lived out the values enshrined in the peace prize. 

Just this week the Vatican acknowledged imposing disciplinary sanctions on Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo following allegations he sexually abused boys in East Timor in the 1990s.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won in 2019 for making peace with neighboring Eritrea. A year later, a largely ethnic conflict erupted in the country’s Tigray region. Some accuse Abiy of stoking the tensions, which have resulted in widespread atrocities. Critics have called for his Nobel to be revoked, and the Nobel committee has issued a rare admonition to him.

The Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi won in 1991 for her opposition to military rule but decades later has been viewed as failing to oppose atrocities committed against the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.

In some years, no peace prize has been awarded. The Norwegian Nobel Committee paused them during World War I, except to honor the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1917. It didn’t hand out any from 1939 to 1943 because of World War II. In 1948, the year Gandhi died, the committee made no award, citing a lack of a suitable living candidate.

The peace prize also does not always confer protection.

Last year journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia were awarded “for their courageous fight for freedom of expression” in the face of authoritarian governments.

Following the invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has cracked down even harder on independent media, including Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s most renowned independent newspaper. Muratov himself was attacked on a Russian train by an assailant who poured red paint over him, injuring his eyes.

The Philippines government this year ordered the shutdown of Ressa’s news organization, Rappler.

The literature prize, meanwhile, has been anything but predictable.

Few had bet on last year’s winner, Zanzibar-born, U.K.-based writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose books explore the personal and societal impacts of colonialism and migration.

Gurnah was only the sixth Nobel literature laureate born in Africa, and the prize has long faced criticism that it is too focused on European and North American writers. It is also male dominated, with just 16 women among its 118 laureates.

A clear contender is Salman Rushdie, the India-born writer and free-speech advocate who spent years in hiding after Iran’s clerical rulers called for his death over his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie, 75, was stabbed and seriously injured in August at a festival in New York state.

The list of possible winners includes literary giants from around the world: Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Japan’s Haruki Murakami, Norway’s Jon Fosse, Antigua-born Jamaica Kincaid and France’s Annie Ernaux.

The prizes to Gurnah in 2021 and U.S. poet Louise Gluck in 2020 have helped the literature prize move on from years of controversy and scandal.

In 2018, the award was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy, which names the Nobel literature committee, and sparked an exodus of members. The academy revamped itself but faced more criticism for giving the 2019 literature award to Austria’s Peter Handke, who has been called an apologist for Serbian war crimes.

Some scientists hope the award for physiology or medicine honors colleagues instrumental in the development of the mRNA technology that went into COVID-19 vaccines, which saved millions of lives around the world.

“When we think of Nobel prizes, we think of things that are paradigm shifting, and in a way I see mRNA vaccines and their success with COVID-19 as a turning point for us,” said Deborah Fuller, a microbiology professor at the University of Washington.

Physics at times can seem arcane and difficult for the public to understand. But the last three years, the physics Nobel has honored more accessible topics: climate change computer models, black holes and planets outside our solar system.

Some harder-to-understand topics in physics — like stopping light, quantum physics and carbon nanotubes — could capture a Nobel award this year.

The Nobel announcements kick off Monday with the prize in physiology or medicine, followed by physics on Tuesday, chemistry on Wednesday and literature on Thursday. The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on October 7 and the economics award on October 10.

The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) and will be handed out on December 10.

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Irpin, a city in the Kyiv region, was under Russian occupation in March. Officials say over 70% of its infrastructure was damaged. When the Russians retreated, several residents started returning from abroad to help rebuild their city. Anna Kosstutschenko has the story.

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The past and future of film mingle like a pair of moviegoers huddled in debate outside a movie theater at the New York Film Festival, which on Friday launches its 60th edition with the premiere of Noah Baumbach’s Don DeLillo adaptation “White Noise.” 

In those six decades, the Lincoln Center festival has been arguably the premier American nexus of cinema, bringing together a teeming portrait of a movie year with films from around the globe, anticipated fall titles and restored classics. It’s a festival that’s traditionally more stocked with questions than answers. 

“One question we ask ourselves is: What is a New York Film Festival main-slate film? It shouldn’t be something expected,” says Dennis Lim, artistic director of the festival. “It shouldn’t be something that automatically seems like it should belong in the pantheon.”

Canon — and stretching its definitions — has always been top of mind at the New York Film Festival, where films by Satyajit Ray, Akira Kurosawa, Agnès Varda, Pedro Almodovar and Jane Campion have played over the years. The first edition of the festival, in 1963, featured Luis Buñuel, Yasujirō Ozu, Robert Bresson, Roman Polanski and Jean-Luc Godard. NYFF, which gives no awards and offers no industry marketplace, is strictly defined as a showcase of what programmers consider the best. 

“We honor those 60 years of the festival by continuing to be true to its mission, why it was created, what it was intended to serve and the relationship, first and foremost, that it has had with the city of New York,” says Eugene Hernandez, executive director. “It’s a bridge between artists and audiences and has been for 60 years now.”

In the last two years, Lim and Hernandez have sought to reconnect the festival with New York, expanding its footprint around the city. But the pandemic made that difficult. 

The 2020 festival was held virtually and in drive-ins around the city. Last year’s festival brought audiences back, although with considerable COVID-19 precautions. “It’s been a three-year journey to get to this moment,” says Hernandez, who departs after this festival to lead the Sundance Film Festival. 

The 60th NYFF, which will hold screenings in all five boroughs during its run through Oct. 16, this year emphasizes those New York connections with a series of galas for hometown filmmakers. Those include the opening night with Baumbach; a centerpiece for Laura Poitras’ Nan Goldin documentary “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”; closing night with Elegance Bratton’s semi-autobiographical “The Inspection”; and an anniversary celebration featuring James Gray’s “Armageddon Time,” based on his childhood in Queens. Another high-profile New York story, “She Said,” a drama about The New York Times investigative journalists who helped expose Harvey Weinstein, is also one of the festival’s top world premieres. 

In many ways, little has changed in 60 years. (Godard will be back again this year, with the late iconoclast ‘s “Image Book” playing for free on a loop.) Except, perhaps, that it’s gotten larger, with more sidebars and a busier main slate. 

“The festival for much of its life had only 20, 25 films in its main slate. I think if you tried  to do that now, you’re not really going to really get a full picture of contemporary cinema,” says Lim. “The landscape is so immense.”

Every NYFF brings a mingling of master auteurs and younger filmmakers, but the dichotomy between the two is especially rich this year. Aside from seasoned veterans like Claire Denis (“Stars at Noon”) and Park Chan-wook (“Decision to Leave”), the festival will welcome back longtime regulars Frederick Wiseman (“A Couple”), Martin Scorsese (“Personality Crisis: One Night Only,” a documentary about New York Dolls singer-songwriter David Johansen) and Paul Schrader (“Master Gardner”). Jerzy Skolimowski (“EO”), the 84-year-old Polish filmmaker, and 94-year-old James Ivory (“A Cooler Climate”) will each bookend their inclusion at the third New York Film Festival, more than half a century ago. 

A film like “EO,” which trails a donkey between brutal interactions with humans, is directly engaged with cinema history, paying homage to Robert Bresson’s “Au Hasard Balthazar.” But it also beats a ragged path of its own, something Schrader, the “Taxi Driver” writer and maker recently of “First Reformed” and “The Card Counter,” has been doing, himself, with torturous rigor for decades. These are filmmakers for whom cinema is an unending crusade, full of pain and transcendence. 

Other filmmakers are earlier on their journeys. Several standouts at the festival are debuts. Bratton’s first narrative feature, “The Inspection,” is deeply personal for the 43-year-old director and photographer. Led by a striking performance by Jeremy Pope, it dramatizes Bratton’s own experience as a gay man in boot camp. The treatment he receives there is brutal, with echoes of Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.” But in some ways, it’s an improvement from his harsh reality back home. 

The Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells also channels personal experience in her brilliantly composed, acutely devastating first feature, “Aftersun,” starring Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio as a father-daughter pair on vacation in Turkey. To a remarkable degree, the film is attuned to every fleeting gesture between the two, and the currents that may be driving them apart. 

Intimacy might seem less relevant to “Till,” the Emmett Till drama making its world premiere. Films about such indelible moments in American history often take a wide lens to capture the full societal scope. But Chinonye Chukwu, in her follow-up to her 2019 breakthrough film “Clemency,” keeps her film centered, often profoundly so, on Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, played spectacularly by Danielle Deadwyler. “Till,” like many of the films at the festival, is a reminder of just how powerful one person’s testimony can be.

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Comedian Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, said he was going to leave the program after hosting it for seven years, indicating he wanted to dedicate more time to stand-up comedy.

The 38-year-old comedian — who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and moved to the United States in 2011 — had big shoes to fill when he took over in 2015 after the exit of longtime host Jon Stewart.

He quickly established himself with his own brand, suited for an era where online influence was often greater than that of content on cable.

His reign on The Daily Show required him to delicately cover some crucial moments in American history, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2021 attacks on the U.S. Capitol.

“I spent two years in my apartment (during COVID-19), not on the road. Stand-up was done, and when I got back out there again, I realized that there’s another part of my life that I want to carry on exploring,” Noah told his studio audience late on Thursday. The Daily Show posted a clip of Noah’s remarks on social media.

“We have laughed together; we have cried together. But after seven years, I feel like it’s time,” Noah said. He ended his remarks by thanking his viewers as his studio audience stood up to applaud him.

Noah, who roasted U.S. politicians and the media at the White House Correspondents Association dinner in April, did not mention his exact departure date in his remarks Thursday. It is not known who would succeed him.

The key to addressing current affairs through a comedic lens lies in a comedian’s intention, Noah said in a 2016 interview with Reuters, adding that he learns from his mistakes.

“I don’t think I would ever have been ready, but that’s when you must do it, you will not be ready,” the comedian told Reuters in the context of having succeeded his legendary predecessor.

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A Spanish court on Tuesday formally ordered Colombian superstar Shakira to stand trial on accusations that she failed to pay $14.31 million in income taxes, a court document released on Tuesday showed.

The ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ singer, 45, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, rejected in July a deal to settle the case, which meant she would have to stand trial in a case that could see her sent to prison for eight years.

The Esplugues de Llobregat court on Tuesday confirmed the trial will go ahead on a date still to be announced.

The prosecutor is seeking an eight-year prison term for the singer, who is accused of failing to pay taxes between 2012 and 2014, a period in which she said she was leading a “nomadic life” because of her work.

“The order to send Shakira to trial is just another step in any proceedings of this kind. The situation has not changed and everything continues as normal. Shakira’s legal defense will do its job by presenting its written arguments at the appropriate time,” a statement from her lawyers said.

Shakira vowed last week to fight what she claimed were “false” accusations by Spanish authorities and added that she had already paid what the Spanish tax office said she owed before they filed a lawsuit. 

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Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge is spurring young athletes to follow in his footsteps after breaking his own world record Sunday in Berlin. 

Cheers erupted from the crowd Sunday at Nairobi’s Karura Forest as they watched Kipchoge race on TV. The watch party followed an amateur marathon organized by the Friends of Karura Forest to celebrate their 25th anniversary.  

Karanja Njoroge, a past chairman of the conservation group who serves on its board, called Kipchoge’s win “absolutely magnificent.”  

“Everybody went wild,” Njoroge said of the crowd at the watch party. “Seeing the guy was way ahead. Everybody felt so elated by the efforts of our king of athletics, Eliud Kipchoge.” 

Kipchoge’s new record, 30 seconds faster than his previous world record set in Berlin in 2018, is now two hours, one minute and nine seconds. Njoroge called it an inspiration. 

“I think it encourages people. Gives people hope. And even those who would never compete begin to believe, because this guy is 37 years old and he’s breaking world records,” Njoroge said. 

Barnabas Korir, an executive member of Athletics Kenya, the governing body for track and field sports, agreed.    

“He’s inspired the youth, but not only the youth but particularly all the athletes from Kenya,” Korir said. “You know Kipchoge is one of the few athletes who is completely determined. He’s also very focused.” 

Korir, who is also chairman of youth development at Athletics Kenya, said camps have been set up nationwide to encourage sports.   

“We got the support from the government to do that and in the last 3 years, Eliud Kipchoge talk to the athletes when they were in the camps,” Korir said. “So, this is an opportunity for us now to give our athletes a symbol that they can do well if they remain focused, if they work hard.” 

Kipchoge has won 15 out of his 17 career marathons, including two Olympic gold medals.  

Daniel Schearf contributed to this report.

 

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Rihanna will take center stage at February’s Super Bowl halftime show.

The singer, who declined to perform in the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show out of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, will headline the 2023 Super Bowl, the NFL announced Sunday along with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and Apple Music. Rihanna posted an image on Instagram of an arm outstretched holding an NFL football.

“Rihanna is a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn,” Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, whose Roc Nation is an executive producer of the show, said in a statement. “A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment.”

The Super Bowl will take place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 12. After years of Pepsi’s sponsorship, the upcoming halftime show will be sponsored by Apple Music.

Rihanna earlier said she turned down a similar opportunity for the 2019 Super Bowl that was ultimately headlined by Maroon 5. At the time, many artists voiced support for Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback whose 2016 national anthem protests sparked debate throughout football.

“I couldn’t dare do that. For what?” Rihanna told Vogue in 2019. “Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way,” she said of the league.

With sales of more than 250 million records worldwide, Rihanna ranks as one of the best-selling female artists ever. Her last album was 2016’s “Anti.”

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Haitian Italian designer Stella Jean returned to the Milan runway after a two-year hiatus with a tour de force that highlighted the talents of 10 new designers of color whose design history is tied to Italy.

Jean pledged in 2020 not to return to Milan Fashion Week, which opened Wednesday, until she was not the only Black designer. The We Are Made in Italy movement she founded with Black American designer Edward Buchanan and Afro Fashion Week Milano founder Michelle Ngomno ensured she would not be.

Maximilian Davis, a 27-year-old British fashion designer with Afro-Caribbean roots, is making his debut as the creative director for Salvatore Ferragamo. Filipino American designer Rhuigi Villasenor is bringing Bally back to the runway for the first time in 20 years. Tokyo James, founded by British Nigerian designer Iniye Tokyo James, is presenting a women’s-only collection.

Jean is headlining a runway show with Buchanan and five new We Are Made in Italy designers, including a Vietnamese apparel designer, an Italian Indian accessory designer and an African American bag designer. It is the third WAMI group to present their collections in Milan.

“We are making ourselves felt,” Jean told The Associated Press. “We invited all these young people. We created the space. There have been gains.”

Buchanan opened the show with jersey knitwear with a denim feel from his Sansonvino 6 line, followed by capsule collections by the latest group of Fabulous Five WAMI designers, and Jean’s creations combining Italian tailoring with artisanal references she sources around the globe.

Each of the new WAMI designers share a connection with Italy, either through family or by relocating to study or work here.

Italian Indian designer Eileen Claudia Akbaraly showed her Made for a Woman brand that makes ethically sourced raffia garments and accessories from Madagascar. New York-based designer Akila Stewart founded the FATRA bag brand that works with reused plastic waste. India-born Neha Poorswani designs shoes under the name “Runway Reinvented.” Vietnamese designer Phang Dang Hoang’s apparel line mixes Asian and Western cultures, and Korean designer Kim Gaeun’s Villain brand combines elements of traditional Korean costumes mixed with modern hip-hop culture.

“There are so many Italians who are not Italians, who are immigrants who feel Italian. I think that is so beautiful,” Stewart said.

The show closed on a celebratory note, with the models, designers and activists gathered on the runway, clapping and swaying to Cynthia Erivo’s song Stand Up.

Both Trussardi and Vogue Italia have used WAMI’s database of fashion professionals of color who are based in Italy, although the listings have not been employed as industrywide as the founders hoped. One of the designers from the first WAMI class, Gisele Claudia Ntsama, has worked in the design office at Valentino.

Giorgio Armani, who helped launch Stella Jean in 2013, pitched in with textiles for the new WAMI capsule collections to be displayed here. Conde Nast and European fashion magazine nss are helping to fund their production. The three WAMI founders are covering the rest from their own pockets after the fashion council offered a venue for the show but limited funding compared with previous seasons.

Ngonmo said Italian fashion houses too often confuse diversity — such as showcasing Black models — with true inclusivity, which would involve employing professionals in the creative process.

“I have a feeling they don’t understand at all what diversity means. They tend to confuse diversity with inclusion,” she said.

Buchanan said he holds on to his optimism but acknowledged that the post-pandemic market is difficult as stores are not investing in collections by new designers.

“We knew going into this that this was going to be a slow grow,” Buchanan said. “Working with the designers, we have to be transparent about what is ahead of them. … They are not going to be Gianni Versace tomorrow.”

Jean noted that the new designers for major fashion brands did not come up through the Italian system but from abroad. Despite the progress, she and her collaborators still see some resistance to hiring people of color in creative roles and to the idea that “Made in Italy” can involve homegrown Black talent.

“It is more glamorous to have someone from the outside,” she said.

Jean said she is also waiting for the Italian fashion council to follow through on an invitation to create a multicultural board within its structure. She said she feels the initial industry embrace of the diversity project has cooled.

“None of us believed the totality of the promises. Now we are entering a territory that we know well, when people feel free and comfortable not to maintain promises. It is obvious,” Jean said.

As for her future: “I am at a crossroads,” the designer said. “My traveling companions are outside the door that I was allowed to enter. For a while, being the only one in the room, you feel special. But when you see that many of those who are still outside the door are better than you, you understand that you were not special. You were very lucky.”

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This day, this match, had to come, of course, for Roger Federer, and for tennis, just as it inevitably must for every athlete in every sport.

Federer bid adieu Friday night with one last contest before he heads into retirement at age 41 after a superlative career that included 20 Grand Slam titles and a statesman’s role. He wrapped up his days as a professional player with a loss in doubles alongside his longtime rival Rafael Nadal for Team Europe in the Laver Cup against Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock of Team World.

The truth is that the victors, the statistics and the score (OK, for the record it was 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9) did not matter, and were all so entirely beside the point. The occasion was, after all, about the farewell itself. Or, better, the farewells, plural: Federer’s to tennis, to the fans, to his competitors and colleagues. And, naturally, each of those entities’ farewells to Federer.

“It’s been a perfect journey,” Federer said. “I would do it all over again.”

When the match, and with it, his time in professional tennis, ended, Federer hugged Nadal, then Tiafoe and Sock. And then Federer began crying. As cascades of clapping and yells of affection came from the stands, Federer put his hands on his hips, his chest heaving. Then he mouthed, “Thank you,” while applauding right back toward the spectators who had chanted, “Let’s go, Roger! Let’s go!” during the concluding moments of a match that lasted more than two hours and ended at about 12:30 a.m.

The Swiss star announced last week that the three-day team event, which was founded by his management company, would be his final event before retirement, then made clear the doubles outing would be his last match. His surgically repaired right knee — the last of three operations came shortly after a loss in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July 2021, which will go down as his final official singles match — is in no shape to allow him to continue.

“For me, just personally, (it was) sad in the first moment, when I came to the conclusion it’s the best decision,” Federer said in an interview with The Associated Press this week about his emotions when realizing it was time to go. “I kind of held it in at first, then fought it off. But I could feel the pain.”

A couple of hours before Friday’s match, Federer tweeted: “I’ve done this thousands of times, but this one feels different. Thank you to everybody who’s coming tonight.”

He had said he wanted this to feel more like a party than a funeral, and the crowd obliged, rising for a loud and lengthy standing ovation when Federer and Nadal — each wearing a white bandanna, blue shirt and white shorts — emerged together from a tunnel leading out to the black court for the last match on Day 1 at the O2 Arena. The spectators remained on their feet for nearly 10 minutes, through the pre-match warmup, holding aloft phone cameras to capture the moment.

They came ready to roar for him, some with Swiss flags, some with homemade signs, and they made themselves heard with a wall of sound when Federer delivered a forehand volley winner on the match’s second point. Similar reactions arrived merely at the chair umpire’s announcement before the third game of “Roger Federer to serve,” and again when he closed that game with a 117 mph service winner.

Doubles requires far less movement and court coverage, of course, so the stress on his knee was limited Friday. Federer showed touches of his old flair, to be sure, and of rust, as to be expected.

As his parents and wife sat in front-row seats behind a baseline, there were a couple of early forehands that sailed several feet too long. There also was a forehand that slid right between Sock and Tiafoe and seemed too good to be true — and, it turned out, was: The ball traveled through a gap below the net tape and so the point was taken away from Federer and Nadal.

Although it amounted to, essentially, a glorified exhibition, all four doubles participants played as if they wanted to win. That was clear when Sock leaped and screamed after one particularly terrific volley or when Tiafoe sent a couple of shots right at Federer and Nadal.

But the circumstances did allow for moments of levity.

Federer and Nadal were able to laugh after a bit of confusion over which should go for a ball on a point they lost. After Nadal somehow flicked one back-to-the-net shot around the post, only for it to land barely wide, Tiafoe crossed over to extend a hand with congratulations for the effort.

In the first set, the two greats of the game couldn’t quite hear each other between points, so Federer trotted from the net back to the baseline to consult with Nadal, then pointed to his ear to signal to the fans what the issue was.

Before Federer, the men’s mark for most major tennis championships was 14 by Pete Sampras. Federer blew past that, accumulating eight at Wimbledon, six at the Australian Open, five at the U.S. Open and one at the French Open, setting a new standard that Nadal, now with 22, and Novak Djokovic, with 21, equaled, then surpassed, as part of a golden era for the sport.

Federer’s substantial resume includes 310 weeks at No. 1 in the ATP rankings, a Davis Cup title and Olympic medals. Beyond the elegance and effectiveness while wielding a racket, his persona made Federer an ambassador for tennis, someone whose immense popularity helped attract fans.

Surely, there are those who would have found it particularly apt to see Federer finish across the net from Nadal, often an on-court nemesis but eventually an off-court friend. Maybe it could have taken place about 15 miles away at Centre Court of the All England Club, say, or in Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros, or Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park, or even Arthur Ashe Stadium, the centerpiece of the U.S. Open, the lone Grand Slam tournament at which they never faced off, somehow.

Perhaps they could have provided everyone with one final installment of a head-to-head matchup as memorable as any in the long history of their sport — or, indeed, any other.

Roger vs. Rafa — just one name apiece required — belongs up there with McEnroe vs. Borg (as it happens, the two Laver Cup team captains, John and Bjorn), Evert vs. Navratilova, Sampras vs. Agassi, Ali vs. Frazier, Magic vs. Bird, Brady vs. Manning, and so on.

Over the years, Federer and Nadal showed off individual greatness and compelling contrasts across their 40 matches, 14 at Grand Slam tournaments, nine in major finals: righty vs. lefty, attacker vs. grinder, seeming effortlessness vs. relentless intensity.

And yet, there was an unmistakable element of poetry with these two men who challenged each other and elevated each other performing as partners, slapping palms and sharing smiles.

“Two of the ‘GOATs’ playing together,” said Sock, using the popular acronym for “Greatest of All-Time.”

This goodbye follows that of Serena Williams, the owner of 23 major singles championships, at the U.S. Open three weeks ago after a third-round loss. It leaves questions about the future of a game he and she dominated, and transcended, for decades.

One key difference: Each time Williams took the court in New York, the looming question was how long her stay would endure — a “win or this is it” prospect. Friday WAS it for Federer, no matter the result.

“All the players will miss him,” said Casper Ruud, who beat Sock in singles 6-4, 5-7, 10-7.

The other results, which left Team Europe and Team World tied at 2-2: Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-1 in a match interrupted briefly when an environmental protester lit a portion of the court and his own arm on fire, and Alex de Minaur got past Andy Murray 5-7, 6-3, 10-7.

Due to begin playing shortly after the end of Murray’s loss, Federer and Nadal first provided him with some coaching tips, then watched part of that one on TV together in a room at the arena, waiting for their turn. When Federer and Nadal were in action, it was Djokovic’s turn to suggest strategic advice.

The last hurrah came after a total of 103 career singles trophies and 1,251 wins in singles matches for Federer, both second only to Jimmy Connors in the Open era, which began in 1968.

At the height of his powers, Federer appeared in a record 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals, winning eight, from 2005-07. Extend that to 2010, and he reached 18 of 19 major finals.

More than those numbers, folks will remember the powerful forehand, the one-handed backhand, the flawless footwork, the spectacularly effective serve and eagerness to get to the net, the willingness to reinvent aspects of his game and — the part of which he’s proudest — unusual longevity.

“I don’t think we’ll see another guy like Roger,” Tiafoe said. “The way he played, and the grace he did it with, and who he is as an individual.”

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A movie portraying an all-female warrior unit that centuries ago defended the West African kingdom of Dahomey, what is today the country of Benin, is drawing both praise and criticism. VOA’s Penelope Poulou reports, “The Woman King” has an all-black and mostly female cast, a first for a major Hollywood motion picture. But some critics note it had little African involvement.
Produced by: Penelope Poulou

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Australia is investigating claims by First Nations groups that mining and manufacturing industries are threatening significant cultural sites.   

Indigenous settlement of Australia dates back an estimated 65,000 years.

This vast history is documented in ancient songs, stories, dance and art, but development threatens part of the culture.

The federal government has appointed an independent investigator to gauge the threat of industrial expansion to 40,000-year-old Indigenous rock art in Western Australia.

It is a controversy that has been brewing for months. 

In August, the government rejected Aboriginal groups’ application for a 60-day moratorium to stop Perdaman, the multinational operator of a fertilizer plant, from relocating sacred rock art.  However, authorities in Canberra have now agreed to appoint an expert to assess whether the art is at risk, and whether it must be protected by a ministerial declaration. 

The site at the remote Burrup Peninsula, 1,500 kilometers north of Perth, has been recommended for a United Nation’s World Heritage listing. It is considered to be one of the world’s most significant collections of ancient rock carvings. 

The region has more than a million petroglyphs, or art carved, scratched or scoured from rock, spread over 37,000 hectares. First Nations elders have said the depictions are all connected, and that moving some of the carvings would damage their spiritual connection to the sites that tell stories of creation. 

Indigenous leader Raelene Cooper told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that sacred sites need to be shielded from industrial development.

“It is appalling that at this day and age we are still, as First Nations people, being told to sit in the back sit and that ain’t [is not] me,” Cooper said. “If there is anything that I could, I guess, advise for all of my country mob all over this continent we have a right and we have a story and we have a history here and our government needs to start acknowledging it.” 

The independent investigation could take months.  However, Perdaman already has official permission to start work on its Burrup Peninsula project. The fertilizer manufacturer has consulted with local Indigenous communities about its plans to relocate some rock carvings. It has not yet commented publicly on its operations. 

The Western Australian government supports the development, saying it has the appropriate environmental and heritage approvals.

The state government has also set up an extensive program to monitor the impact of emissions from local gas production on ancient petroglyphs in the area.  

A parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters by resources giant Rio Tinto in 2020 recommended new laws to protect thousands of sacred sites across Australia.

However, some legal experts believe not enough has been done and that economic interests continue to be placed ahead of First Nations culture.  

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said in July the new Labor government would implement new cultural heritage legislation, but a timeframe has yet to be set.

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President Joe Biden met Friday with family members of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American detained in Russia, Paul Whelan, the first face-to-face encounter that the president has had with the relatives.

In a statement after the meetings, which were held separately, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden stressed to the families his “continued commitment to working through all available avenues to bring Brittney and Paul home safely.”

“He asked after the well-being of Elizabeth and Cherelle and their respective families during this painful time,” Jean-Pierre said. “The president appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Brittney and Paul from those who love them most, and acknowledged that every minute they are being held is a minute too long.”

Still, administration officials have said the meetings were not an indication that negotiations with Russia for their release have reached a breakthrough.

Earlier Friday, John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said that Russia has not responded to what administration officials have called a substantial and serious offer to secure Griner and Whelan’s release.

“The president is not going to let up,” Kirby told reporters. “He’s confident that this is going to remain in the forefront of his mind and his team’s mind, and they’re going to continue to work as hard as they can.”

Griner has been held in Russia since February on drug-related charges. She was sentenced last month to nine years in prison after pleading guilty and has appealed the punishment. Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage-related charges that he and his family say are false. The U.S. government regards both as wrongfully detained, placing their cases with the office of its top hostage negotiator.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of announcing two months ago that the administration had made a substantial proposal to Russia. Though he did not elaborate on the proposal, a person familiar with the matter has said the U.S. has offered to release convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The administration carried out a prisoner swap last April, with Moscow releasing Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for the U.S. releasing a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, convicted in a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, participated in both meetings. Biden sat down with Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan. Then the president met with Cherelle Griner, the wife of Brittney Griner, as well as the player’s agent, Lindsay Colas, according to the White House.

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A federal jury on Wednesday convicted R. Kelly of several child pornography and sex abuse charges in his hometown of Chicago, delivering another legal blow to a singer who used to be one of the biggest R&B stars in the world.

Kelly, 55, was found guilty on three counts of child pornography and three counts of child enticement.

But the jury acquitted him on a fourth pornography count, as well as a conspiracy to obstruct justice charge accusing him of fixing his state child pornography trial in 2008. He was found not guilty on all three counts of conspiring to receive child pornography and for two further enticement charges.

His two co-defendants were found not guilty on all charges.

Jurors, who deliberated for 11 hours over two days, wrote several questions to the judge on Wednesday, at least one indicating the panelists were grappling with some of the case’s legal complexities.

One asked if they had to find Kelly both enticed and coerced minors, or that he either enticed or coerced them. Over objections from Kelly’s lawyer, the judge said they only need to find one.

At trial, prosecutors sought to paint a picture of Kelly as a master manipulator who used his fame and wealth to reel in star-stuck fans, some of them minors, to sexually abuse then discard them.

Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, was desperate to recover child pornographic videos he made and lugged around in a gym bag, witnesses said. They said he offered up to $1 million to recover missing videos before his 2008 trial, knowing they would land him in legal peril. The conspiracy to hide his abuse ran from 2000 to 2020, prosecutors said.

Kelly associates Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown were co-defendants at the Chicago trial. Jurors acquitted McDavid, a longtime Kelly business manager, who was accused of conspiring with Kelly to rig the 2008 trial. Brown, a Kelly associate for years, was acquitted of receiving child pornography.

Kelly has already been convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking in New York and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In Chicago, a conviction of just one count of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, while receipt of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of five years. Judges can order that defendants sentenced earlier in separate cases serve their new sentence simultaneously with or only after the first term is fully served. Federal inmates must serve at least 85% of their sentences.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Kelly attorney Jennifer Bonjean likened the government’s testimony and evidence to a cockroach and its case to a bowl of soup.

If a cockroach falls into soup, she said, “you don’t just pull out the cockroach and eat the rest of the soup. You throw out the whole soup,” said told jurors.

“There are just too many cockroaches,” she said of the prosecution’s case.

The three defendants called only a handful of witnesses over four days. McDavid, who was on the stand for three days, may have damaged Kelly’s hopes for acquittal by saying that he now doubts Kelly was truthful when he denied abusing anyone after hearing the superstar’s accusers testify.

In her closing rebuttal, prosecutor Jeannice Appenteng cited testimony that Kelly’s inner circle increasingly focused on doing what Kelly wanted as his fame boomed in the mid-1990s.

“And ladies and gentlemen, what R. Kelly wanted was to have sex with young girls,” she said.

Four Kelly accusers testified, all referred to by pseudonyms or their first names: Jane, Nia, Pauline and Tracy. Some cried when describing the abuse but otherwise spoke calmly and with confidence. A fifth accuser, Brittany, did not testify.

Sitting nearby in a suit and face mask, Kelly often averted his eyes and looked down as his accusers spoke.

Some dozen die-hard Kelly fans regularly attended the trial. On at least one occasion during a break, several made hand signs of a heart at Kelly. He smiled back.

Jane, 37, was the government’s star witness and pivotal to the fixing charge, which accused Kelly of using threats and payoffs to get her to lie to a grand jury before his 2008 trial and to ensure she and her parents wouldn’t testify.

A single video, which state prosecutors said was Kelly abusing a girl of around 14, was the focal point of that trial.

On the witness stand for two days at the end of August, Jane paused, tugged at a necklace and dabbed her eyes with a tissue when she said publicly for the first time that the girl in the video was her at 14 and that the man was Kelly, who would have been around 30.

Some jurors in the 2008 trial said they had to acquit Kelly because the girl in the video didn’t testify. At the federal trial in Chicago, Jane said she lied to a state grand jury in 2002 when she said it was not her in the video, saying part of her reason for lying was that she cared for Kelly and didn’t want to get him into trouble.

Jane told jurors she was 15 when they first had intercourse. Asked how many times they had sex before she turned 18, she answered quietly: “Uncountable times. … Hundreds.”

Jane, who belonged to a teenage singing group, first met Kelly in the late 1990s when she was in junior high school. She had visited Kelly’s Chicago recording studio with her aunt, a professional singer. Soon after that meeting, Jane told her parents Kelly was going to be her godfather.

Jane testified that when her parents confronted Kelly in the early 2000s, he dropped to his knees and begged them for forgiveness. She said she implored her parents not to take action against Kelly because she loved him.

Defense attorneys suggested a desire for money and fame drove some government witnesses to accuse Kelly, and they accused several people of trying to blackmail him. They also suggested that at least one of his accusers was 17 — the age of consent in Illinois — when Kelly began pursuing her for sex.

Bonjean implored jurors not to accept the prosecution’s portrayal of her client as “a monster,” saying Kelly was forced to rely on others because of intellectual challenges, and that he was sometimes led astray.

“Mr. Kelly can also be a victim,” she said in her opening statement.

Prosecutors played jurors excerpts from three videos that Jane said featured her. Court officials set up opaque screens around the jurors so journalists and spectators couldn’t see the videos or the jurors’ reactions.

But the sound was audible. In one video, the girl is heard repeatedly calling the man “daddy.” At one point she asks: “Daddy, do you still love me?” The man gives her sexually explicit instructions.

Prosecutors have said Kelly shot the video that was also evidence in the 2008 trial in a log cabin-themed room at his North Side Chicago home around 1998.

Another accuser, Pauline, said Jane introduced her to Kelly when they were 14-year-old middle school classmates in 1998. At Kelly’s Chicago home later that year, Pauline described her shock when she said she first walked in on Kelly and a naked Jane. She said Kelly told her that everyone has secrets. “This is our secret,” she testified he said.

Pauline told jurors she still cares for Kelly. But as a 37-year-old mom, she said she now has a different perspective.

“If somebody did something to my kids,” she said, “I’m killing ’em. Period.”

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Emmy Awards host Kenan Thompson and the ceremony’s producers are promising a feel-good event — a phrase not applicable to several of the top nominated shows.

The best drama contenders include the violently dystopian “Squid Game,” bleak workplace satire “Severance” and “Succession,” about a powerful and cutthroat family. Even comedy nominee “Ted Lasso,” the defending champ, took a storytelling dark turn.

But after several pandemic-constrained awards seasons, Monday’s 74th Primetime Emmy Awards (airing 8 p.m. EDT on NBC, streaming on Peacock) will be big and festive, executive producers Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart said.

They’re actually taking a page from last year’s scaled-down ceremony and its club-style table seating for nominees.

“They had a ball. They had a party. They celebrated themselves,” Stewart said, recalling a comment made by actor Sophia Bush at the evening’s end: “Oh, my God, I actually had fun at the Emmys.”

The tables will be back and again reserved for nominees and their “significants,” Stewart said, but there will be some 3,000 other guests seated traditionally in the temporarily reconfigured 7,000-seat Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

“When the nominees are having a great time that translates on screen,” Hudlin said, citing the “passionate, touching” speeches delivered by winners.

Thompson, the veteran “Saturday Night Live” cast member taking his first turn as Emmys host, said he wants to enjoy the ceremony and make sure others do.

“This should be a night of appreciating artistry and creativity and removing the stress of it all out. I get it — it sucks to lose, and everybody’s picking outfits and trying to do the red carpet thing,” Thompson said. “But at the same time, it’s an awesome thing to be in the room on Emmys night, and I don’t want that to get lost in the stress.”

He doesn’t expect anything mirroring the Will Smith-Chris Rock confrontation that cast a shadow over the Oscars earlier this year, Thompson said.

Although HBO’s “Succession,” which won the best drama series award in 2020, and “Ted Lasso” from Apple TV+ are considered the front-runners for top series honors, there’s potential for surprises. Netflix’s “Squid Game,” a global sensation, would be the first non-English language drama series to win an Emmy.

On the comedy side, ABC’s acclaimed newcomer “Abbott Elementary” could become the first broadcast show to win the best comedy award since the network’s “Modern Family” in 2014. It’s also among the few contenders this year, along with “Squid Game,” to field a substantial number of nominees of color.

At the Emmy creative arts ceremonies held earlier this month, the mockumentary-style show about educators in an underfunded Philadelphia school, won the trophy for outstanding comedy series casting. “Succession” won the drama series casting award.

“The Crown,” last year’s big winner, wasn’t in the running this time because it sat out the Emmys eligibility period. The dramatized account of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and family life will return for its fifth season in November, as Britain mourns the loss of its longest-serving monarch who died Thursday at age 96.

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