Deputy PM: Luxembourg’s Space Mining Mission Begins Tuesday

When Luxembourg’s new law governing space mining comes into force on Tuesday, the country will already be working to make the science-fiction-sounding mission a reality, the deputy prime minister said.

The legislation will make Luxembourg the first country in Europe to offer a legal framework to ensure that private operators can be confident about their rights over resources they extract in space.

The law is based on the premise that space resources are capable of being owned by individuals and private companies and establishes the procedures for authorizing and supervising space exploration missions.

“When I launched the initiative a year ago, people thought I was mad,” Etienne Schneider told Reuters.

“But for us, we see it as a business that has return on investment in the short-term, the medium-term, and the long-term,” said Schneider, who is also Luxembourg’s economy minister.

Luxembourg in June 2016 set aside 200 million euros ($229 million) to fund initiatives aimed at bringing back rare minerals from space.

While that goal is at least 15 years off, new technologies are already creating markets that space mining could supply, said Schneider.

He said firms could soon make carrying materials to refuel or repair satellites economically feasible or supply raw materials to the 3-D printers now being tested on the International Space Station.

Lifting each kilogram of mass from Earth to orbit costs between 10,000 and 15,000 euros ($11,000 to $18,000), according to Schneider, but firms could cut these costs by recycling the debris of old satellites and rocket parts floating in space.

The small European country, best known for its fund management and private banking sector, will on Tuesday begin the work of making such deals, with the security of a legal framework in place, said Schneider.

Luxembourg has already managed to attract significant interest from pioneers in the field such as U.S. operators Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, and aims to attract research and development projects to set up there.

A similar package of laws was introduced in the United States in 2015 but only applies to companies majority owned by Americans, while Luxembourg’s laws will only require the company to have an office in the country.

“I am already in discussions with fund owners for more than 1 billion euros which they want to dedicate to space exploration over here in Luxembourg,” Schneider said. “In 10 years, I’m quite sure that the official language in space will be Luxembourgish.”

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Sam Shepard, Pulitzer-winning Playwright, Dead at 73

Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Oscar-nominated actor and celebrated author whose plays chronicled the explosive fault lines of family and masculinity in the American West, has died. He was 73.

 

Family spokesman Chris Boneau said Monday that Shepard died Thursday at his home in Kentucky from complications related to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

 

The taciturn Shepard, who grew up on a California ranch, was a man of few words who nevertheless produced 44 plays and numerous books, memoirs and short stories. He was one of the most influential playwrights of his generation: a plain-spoken poet of the modern frontier, both lyrical and rugged.

 

In his 1971 one-act “Cowboy Mouth, which he wrote with his then-girlfriend, musician and poet Patti Smith, one character says, “People want a street angel. They want a saint but with a cowboy mouth” — a role the tall and handsome Shepard fulfilled for many.

 

“I was writing basically for actors,” Shepard told The Associated Press in a 2011 interview. “And actors immediately seemed to have a handle on it, on the rhythm of it, the sound of it, the characters. I started to understand there was this possibility of conversation between actors and that’s how it all started.”

Shepard’s Western drawl and laconic presence made him a reluctant movie star, too. He appeared in dozens of films — many of them Westerns — including Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven,” “Steel Magnolias,” “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and 2012’s Mud.” He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as pilot Chuck Yeager in 1983’s “The Right Stuff.” Among his most recent roles was the Florida Keys patriarch of the Netflix series “Bloodline.”

But Shepard was best remembered for his influential plays and his prominent role in the Off-Off-Broadway movement. His 1979 play “Buried Child” won the Pulitzer for drama. Two other plays — “True West,” about two warring brothers, and “Fool for Love,” about a man who fears he’s turning into his father — were nominated for the Pulitzers as well. All are frequently revived.

 

“I always felt like playwriting was the thread through all of it,” Shepard said in 2011. “Theater really when you think about it contains everything. It can contain film. Film can’t contain theater. Music. Dance. Painting. Acting. It’s the whole deal. And it’s the most ancient. It goes back to the Druids. It was way pre-Christ. It’s the form that I feel most at home in, because of that, because of its ability to usurp everything.”

 

Samuel Shepard Rogers VII was born in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, in 1943. He grew up on an avocado ranch in Duarte, California. His father was an alcoholic schoolteacher and former Army pilot. Shepard would later write frequently of the damage done by drunks. He had his own struggles, too; long stretches of sobriety were interrupted by drunk driving arrests, in 2009 and 2015.

 

Shepard arrived in New York in 1963 with no connections, little money and vague aspirations to act, write or make music.

“I just dropped in out of nowhere,” he told the New Yorker in 2010. But Shepard quickly became part of the off-off-Broadway movement at downtown hangouts like Caffe Cino and La MaMa. “As far as I’m concerned, Broadway just does not exist,” Shepard told Playboy in 1970 — though many of his later plays would end up there.

 

His early plays — fiery, surreal verbal assaults — pushed American theater in an energized, frenzied direction that matched the times. A drummer himself, Shepard found his own rock ‘n roll rhythm. Seeking spontaneity, he initially refused to rewrite his drafts, a strategy he later dismissed as “just plain stupid.”

 

As Shepard grew as a playwright, he returned again and again to meditations on violence, masculinity and family. His collection “Seven Plays,” which includes many of his best plays, including “Buried Child” and “The Tooth of Crime,” was dedicated to his father.

 

“There’s some hidden, deeply rooted thing in the Anglo male American that has to do with inferiority, that has to do with not being a man, and always, continually having to act out some idea of manhood that invariably is violent,” he told The New York Times in 1984. “This sense of failure runs very deep — maybe it has to do with the frontier being systematically taken away, with the guilt of having gotten this country by wiping out a native race of people, with the whole Protestant work ethic. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s the source of a lot of intrigue for me.”

 

Shepard was married from 1969 to 1984 to actress O-Lan Jones, with whom he had son Jesse Mojo Shepard.

 

His connection to music was constant. He joined Bob Dylan on the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour of 1975, and co-wrote the song “Brownsville Girl” with him. Shepard and Patti Smith were one-time lovers but lifetime friends.

“We’re just the same,” Smith once said. “When Sam and I are together, it’s like no particular time.”

Shepard’s movie career began in the late ’70s. While making the 1982 Frances Farmer biopic “Frances,” he met Jessica Lange and the two remained together for nearly 30 years. They had two children, Hannah Jane and Samuel Walker. They separated in 2009. Lange once said of Shepard: “No man I’ve ever met compares to Sam in terms of maleness.”

 

Shepard worked occasionally in movies (among other things, he wrote Wim Wenders’ 1984 Texas brothers drama “Paris, Texas”) but took acting gigs more frequently as he grew older. One movie, he said, could pay for 16 plays.

 

Besides his plays, Shepard wrote short stories and a full-length work of fiction, “The One Inside,” which came out earlier this year. “The One Inside” is a highly personal narrative about a man looking back on his life and taking in what has been lost, including control over his own body as the symptoms of ALS advance.

 

“Something in the body refuses to get up. Something in the lower back. He stares at the walls,” Shepard writes. “The appendages don’t seem connected to the motor — whatever that is — driving this thing. They won’t take direction _ won’t be dictated to — the arms, legs, feet, hands. Nothing moves. Nothing even wants to.”

Shepard’s longtime editor at Alfred A. Knopf, LuAnn Walther, said Shepard’s language was “quite poetic, and very intimate, but also very direct and plainspoken.” She said that when people asked her what Shepard was really like, she would respond, “Just read the fiction.”

 

In Shepard’s 1982 book “Motel Chronicles,” he said that he felt like he never had a home. That feeling, he later, acknowledged, always remained.

 

“I basically live out of my truck,” Shepard said in 2011. “I feel more at home in my truck than just about anywhere, which is a sad thing to say. But it’s true.”

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Chemical Industry and US Call for Global Culture of Chemical Security

Securing petrochemical plants and keeping chemicals out of the hands of terrorists were the topics of discussion at a recent Chemical Sector Security Summit in Houston, Texas. Security experts say the countries that are producing chemicals are shifting and that is one of many reasons developed and developing nations need to share best security practices. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee reports from Houston, a petrochemical hub in the United States.

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Online Suicide Searches Spike After Netflix Released ’13 Reasons Why’

Online searches about suicide and suicide methods spiked in the weeks following the release of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, a show that dramatizes the suicide of a teenage girl, according to a U.S. study released Monday.

Google searches about suicide were 19 percent higher than average in the 19 days following the show’s release on March 31, translating into 900,000 to 1,500,000 more searches, researchers reported in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine. 

The study did not examine whether the actual number of suicides increased following the series’ release, but researchers said the internet search trend is troubling.

Google search volumes for things like “how to commit suicide,” “commit suicide” and “how to kill yourself” all decisively spiked during the 19-day window after the show’s release. A 2009 study suggested “suicide search trends are correlated with actual suicides,” according to a letter accompanying the study in JAMA.

Many mental health experts concluded that Netflix acted unethically by releasing the series. In it, a high school girl leaves behind 13 cassette tapes that explain the decision to take her own life. The series, which some argue glamorizes suicide, has been renewed for a second season.

The San Diego State University researcher who led the study, John Ayers, called on Netflix to reconsider the show and the effects it is having on its teenage-skewing audience.

“Psychiatrists have expressed grave concerns because the show ignores the World Health Organization’s validated media guidelines for preventing suicide,” Ayers told VOA in an email. “Tragically, it is unsurprising then that we find the show has increased suicidal thoughts.

“The show’s makers must swiftly change their course of action, including removing the show and postponing a second season. If not, subscribers should consider canceling their subscriptions so not to support programming that can cause premature death. I am no longer a subscriber.”

Currently, the most violent episodes are prefaced with warnings. Netflix has also created a website equipped with suicide hotlines for each of the countries in which it can be streamed. In a statement, Netflix defended 13 Reasons Why, saying that the show has spurred an important conversation.

“We always believed this show would increase discussions around this tough subject matter,” Netflix said. “This is an interesting quasi-experimental study that confirms this. We are looking forward to more research and taking everything we learn to heart as we prepare for season two.”

The study analyzed Google trends between March 31, 2017, and April 18. They halted their research on that date because former National Football League player Aaron Hernandez committed suicide on April 19, a development that might have skewed the data.

Researchers used the period between January and March 2017 as a control to determine the expected volume of suicide-related Google search queries.

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With Uber in Turmoil, Lyft’s Ridership Surpasses All of 2016

Ride-hailing service Lyft carried more passengers through June this year than it did in all of last year as it capitalized on missteps at Uber.

 

The company says ridership through June surpassed the 162.5 million rides it gave in all of 2016. A spokeswoman wouldn’t give an exact number.

 

Lyft has made its gains as some shun much larger rival, Uber. Riders boycotted Uber after allegations that it took advantage of a New York taxi boycott in protest of President Donald Trump’s first order on immigration. There also were reports of widespread sexual harassment.

 

Lyft wouldn’t comment on Uber but says it added 160 U.S. cities this year. The company operates only in the U.S.

 

Uber says it’s given more than 5 billion rides since 2010.

 

 

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Clooney Foundation to Open Schools for Syrian Refugees

George Clooney’s foundation is planning to open seven public schools for Syrian refugee children.

 

The Clooney Foundation for Justice announced a new partnership Monday with Google, HP and UNICEF to provide education for more than 3,000 refugee children in Lebanon.

 

George and Amal Clooney said in a statement Monday that the foundation’s commitment of more than $2 million toward education for Syrian refugees aims to prevent thousands of young people from becoming “a lost generation.”

 

The couple said Syrian refugee children “have been victims of geography and circumstance” for whom formal education can make all the difference.

 

George and Amal Clooney established the Clooney Foundation for Justice last year to support equity in courtrooms, classrooms and communities around the world.

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Study Says Films Exclude Women, Hispanics

In 2016 “Moonlight” won best picture and “Hidden Figures” was the 14th highest grossing film of the year, but popular Hollywood films remained as white and male-dominated as ever.

A new report from the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism finds that the representation of women, minorities, LGBT people, disabled characters in films remains largely unchanged from the previous year, despite heightened attention to diversity in Hollywood.

At the bottom of the wrung and most egregiously disproportionate to their U.S. demographics are women, Hispanics and disabled characters. Exclusion, the report says, is the norm in Hollywood, not the exception.

 

For nine years since 2007, USC has analyzed the demographic makeup of every speaking or named character from each year’s 100 highest-grossing films at the domestic box office (with the exception of 2011), as well as behind-the-camera employment for those films including directors, producers and composers.

 

“Every year we’re hopeful that we will actually see change,” Stacy L. Smith, a USC professor and the study’s lead author, told The Associated Press. “Unfortunately that hope has not quite been realized.”

 

Women remain vastly underrepresented when it comes to both speaking roles and lead or co-leading parts in films. Of the 4,583 speaking characters analyzed from the top 100 films of 2016, 31.4 percent were female, a number that is basically unchanged since 2007. Also, only 34 of the films depicted a female lead or co-lead — and only three of those were from underrepresented groups.

 

“We see a real stalling out,” Smith said.

 

In terms of race and ethnicity, the landscape remains largely white, with Hispanics grossly underrepresented compared to the breakdown of the U.S. population. Of the speaking characters surveyed: 70.8 percent were white; 13.6 percent black; 5.7 percent Asian; 3.1 percent Hispanic; and less than 1 percent American Indian, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian. According to the latest U.S. Census, the nation is 61.3 percent white, 17.8 percent Hispanic, 5.7 percent Asian, 13.3 percent black, 1.3 percent American Indian and Alaska Native and 0.2 percent Native Hawaiian.

 

More striking still is the film by film “invisibility” breakdown, which finds that 25 of the 100 films did not feature a single black character in a speaking role; 54 films had no Hispanic characters (14 higher than in 2015); 44 had no Asian characters (a rare improvement from 2015 which tallied 49 films with zero Asians).

 

For women of color, it’s a bleaker story.

 

“We can’t just talk about females in film anymore. What our data shows most powerfully this year over any other year is the real epidemic of intersectional invisibility in film,” Smith said. “If you cross gender with race and ethnicity, you see that the bottom really drops out for females of color on screen.”

 

The data speaks volumes: 47 films featured no black females; 66 had no Asian females; and 72 had no Hispanic females.

 

Also largely invisible are LGBT females, who were excluded from 91 of the top 100 films of 2016. There was a notable increase in films with gay speaking characters in 2016 — 36 up from 19, but zero transgender characters. Most of those — 79.1 percent — were white and 76 of the 100 films had no LGBT characters. Only one, “Mooonlight,” featured a gay protagonist.

 

The study also examined characters with disabilities — its second year doing so — and found that despite nearly 18.7 percent of the U.S. population identifying as disabled only 2.7 percent of all speaking characters were depicted as disabled.

 

Behind the camera, things continue to be dismal for female directors — in 2016 there were only 5 female directors out of 120 (including co-directors) and none were black.

 

Every year there are indicators of change, however, including this year with the successes of “Wonder Woman,” “Get Out” and “Girls Trip” among others, and more on the horizon. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has also recently made strides to diversify its membership.

 

“The question is with all of these high-profile examples, will the memo to Hollywood be read seriously and will they actually start engaging in more inclusionary hiring practices,” Smith said.

 

USC has a number of recommendations for changes — including adding five female speaking parts to each top film (which would result in gender equity in just three years) and encouraging A-listers to implement equity clauses into their contracts. The organization is also available to studios and content creators looking for advice, understanding or even lists of working female directors to consider.

 

“Diversity is not just something that just happens,” said Katherine Pieper, a research scientist on the report. “It’s something you have to think about and aim for as an objective and achieve.”

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Used Book Sales Boom in S. Africa as Economic Recession Bites

South Africa entered an economic recession in June, and the country’s unemployment rate is fast approaching 30 percent, according to the government statistics agency. But for the sellers of secondhand books, business has never been better.

Eric Nofal, who has been selling used books for almost 30 years, shows a customer around his store in Johannesburg.

He says he recently faced “intense” competition before launching his fifth bookshop in the city.

“My ex-wife also wanted to open up a shop in this area, but I beat her to the punch, so she is a bit [angry] with me, actually!,” he admitted.

Nofal adds  “I am making money and it is going into my third month and that is pretty good for a new business to make money so quickly. Books have come back.”

It is a big contrast to five years ago when Nofal’s sales dropped dramatically. Book lovers were embracing electronic reading devices like Kindles. He had to close six stores.

But now, Nofal says, the “kindle craze” may be over and many South Africans want to turn “real pages.”

Yet many of his clients give another reason for no longer buying new books.

“They have gone up a hell of a lot. Obviously it depends on your import or your [South African] rand level,” he said.

The rand has dropped steadily against the dollar since the end of 2011, when one dollar was valued at about eight rand. Presently, a dollar is valued at 13 rand.

“A new book should cost you about the price of a meal. In the UK [Britain] that is about right, a meal costs about seven pounds and a [new] book costs about seven pounds. Here on the other hand a reasonable meal for one person will cost you about 70 rand, 80 rand and a [new] book costs 350 [rand]. People just can not afford [new] books,” he said.

Dealers across Johannesburg put the number of second hand book stores at about 50, up from about 25 just a few years ago.

But used books are not always cheaper.

Unpacking hand-me-down books inside his shop, Doron Locketz says that despite the poor economy, some South Africans spend “big money” on rare second hand titles.

“We sold a first edition of Long Walk to Freedom, and the big thing about it was that it was signed, pre the release date, by Mandela. It went to one of our collectors,” he said.

Locketz sold the autographed copy of Nelson Mandela’s bestseller for almost 80,000 rand … more than $6,000 US.

But he says the collectible book market is very small, and he mostly sells used books to a general audience.

“I am delighted to increasingly see more black customers, younger ones, who really have, many of them, a passion for books,” he said.

Economists are predicting a bleak outlook for South Africa for the next few years. So second hand book dealers like Locketz expect sales to rise even further in the near future.

 

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Jeanne Moreau Dies at 89

Husky-voiced, French actress Jeanne Moreau has died. She was 89.

The French president’s office announced her death Monday in a statement.

American director Orson Welles once described Moreau as “the best actress in the world.”

Moreau is perhaps best known, in her long, prolific career, for her role in Francois Truffaut’s 1962 film “Jules and Jim.”

Her international career found her acting in films with a host of directors, including Welles, Michelangelo Antonioni, Tony Richardson and Luis Bunel.

She turned down the role of Mrs. Robinson in Mike Nichols “The Graduate.”

She received a number of awards for her work, including a best actress prize at Cannes, a BAFTA, and a honorary Oscar.

French President Macron said Moreau “embodied cinema” and was a free spirit who “always rebelled against the established order.” He praised her range that extended beyond her early roles as a femme fatale.

Moreau, who worked into her 80s, was found dead at her home in Paris Monday morning, the French news agency, AFP, reported.

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Italian Poster for "Casablanca" Attracts $478,000 at Auction

The only known surviving Italian issue poster for the classic movie “Casablanca” has sold for $478,000 in Dallas at a public auction of vintage movie posters.

 

The firm Heritage Auctions says the price ties a record for the highest amount paid for a movie poster at a public auction.

 

The 1946 Italian poster — four years after the Oscar-winning movie was made and first shown in the U.S. — measures 55.5 inches (1,409.7 millimeters) by 78.25 inches (1,987.55 millimeters). It previously was owned by a collector in London.

Auction spokesman Eric Bradley says the buyer Saturday chose to remain anonymous.

 

Bradley said Sunday the price equaled the record amount paid in 2014 for a poster for “London After Midnight,” a 1927 silent movie where Lon Chaney played a vampire.

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Child Advocates Urge Back-Seat Alarms as 2 Die in Arizona

A proposed new law that would require carmakers to build alarms for back seats is being pushed by child advocates who say it will prevent kids from dying in hot cars.

The law also would streamline the criminal process against caregivers who cause the deaths – cases that can be inconsistent but often heavier-handed against mothers.

The latest deaths came in Arizona on triple-digit degree days over the weekend, with two baby boys found forgotten in vehicles in separate incidents.

More than two dozen child and road safety groups are backing the Senate bill introduced last week aimed at preventing those kinds of deaths by requiring cars to be equipped with technology that can alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the vehicle is turned off. It could be a motion sensor that can detect a baby left sitting in a rear-facing car seat and then alert the driver, in a similar way that reminders about tire pressure, open doors and seat belts now come standard in cars.

“The technology would help because if you’re in a vehicle, your child is in the back seat, and you ignore that alarm: Go jail. Do not pass go. You had a chance,” said Janette Fennell of the advocacy group Kids and Cars. “You talk to any of the judges, they’ll tell you, they’re beyond the hardest things they have to deal with.”

Police say 1-year-old Josiah Riggins was in the car for hours Saturday, discovered dead only after his father drove roundtrip, twice, between their suburban home and a Phoenix church to drop off the mother and a sibling.

Zane Endress, who was 7 months old, died Friday in Phoenix after being left in the car in the driveway at home, as his usual daycare drop-off routine was lost by his grandparents.

“A simple sensor could save the lives of dozens of children killed tragically in overheated cars each year, and our bill would ensure such technology is available in every car sold in the United States,” bill sponsor Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said in a statement. “It can take mere minutes on a hot day for a car to turn into a deathtrap for a small child.”

No charges have been filed against the caregivers in either Arizona case, as police say the death investigations are underway. Detectives will determine criminality based on the caregiver’s neglect, intent and mindset, while also being sensitive to the family’s deeply felt loss of a child, Phoenix police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said.

“Those are the very difficult questions. Each case is different. I can’t tell you there’s a set answer for any case because there really isn’t,” Fortune said.

Kids and Cars, which has tracked more than 800 children who have died in this way since 1990, said criminal cases vary greatly, even when the circumstances are identical. Fennell said 90 percent of cases involve pure accidents, most likely a child forgotten by an adult.

In this month alone, a Tennessee couple was charged in the death of their 11-month-old daughter. A nearly 2-year-old boy was found dead in his father’s BMW in south Florida.

The nonprofit’s analysis shows charges are filed about half of the time, though very rarely are the parents found guilty objectively because it was proven that the child was left behind to be harmed. There is also a noted gender bias: Mothers are more often charged than fathers, and among the convicted, women caregivers receive longer prison sentences than men, the study found.

“I think society feels sort of like moms are in charge, and they’re supposed to do everything,” Fennell said. “It’s also a defense mechanism. If I make monsters out of these people, then it could never happen to me.”

 

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Mongolian Melody: Hip-hop Duo Splices Traditional Singing and Urban Beats

Ulaanbaatar’s urban music scene is buzzing with a new vibe created by a hip-hop duo mixing into their sound the traditional art of throat singing, or “Khoomei,” as Mongolians refer to it.

Rap group Fish Symboled Stamp, named for a fish-shaped seal traditionally used to brand horses in the landlocked nation, incorporates the nearly 1,000-year-old vocal tradition of communities across Siberia and Central Asia.

Khoomei means “pharynx”, and performers imitate the sounds of nature, emitting a melody of harmonics alongside a continuous drone, UNESCO, which added the art form to its intangible heritage listing in 2009, says on a website describing it.

Lead bass vocalist Sanjjav Baatar, 32, founded the group with rapper Battogtokh Odsaikhan, 30, in 2010, when they started experimenting with music styles.

Finding the voice that best suited them took some time.

“I couldn’t understand what voice I should use,” Baatar said. “One day my partner said, ‘Why don’t you rhyme with your Khoomei voice?’ I tried it out, and it sounded really good.”

Odsaikhan believes the cultural reference sets Fish Symboled Stamp apart from other Mongolian hip hop groups.

“Mongolian hip hop is no different from that in the West. It’s just copy and paste,” he said.

The pair say they were inspired by Mongolian folk religion and frequent childhood visits to the vast steppe undulating in every direction.

Mongolia’s climate and environment contributed to the development of Khoomei, said Lhamragchaa, a throat singing teacher at a private school in Ulaanbaatar.

 

“Our ancestors were herding their cattle in the open grasslands and were hearing the sounds of nature, like wind blowing, and trying to imitate them,” said Lhamragchaa, who has only one name, like many Mongolians.

Bataar and Odsaikhan are proud of their culture, nationalism and Mongolia’s historical legacies, which predominate in their lyrics.

Fish Symboled Stamp represented Mongolian art at the recent opening of an art gallery, drawing favourable comment for their skills in folding together traditional and modern music.

“Such performances can make Mongolians proud of their cultural heritage,” said Otgonbileg, a 50-year-old teacher.

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Celebrated Photo Editor John Morris Dies at 100 in Paris

John Morris, a celebrated American photo editor who brought some of the most iconic photographs of World War II and the Vietnam War to the world’s attention, has died at 100.

His longtime friend, Robert Pledge, president and editorial director of the Contact Press Images photo agency, told The Associated Press that Morris died Friday at a hospital in Paris, the city where he had been living for decades.

Among his proudest achievements, Morris edited the historic pictures of the D-Day invasion in Normandy taken by famed war photographer Robert Capa in 1944 for Life magazine. In addition, as picture editor for The New York Times, he helped grant front-page display to two of the most striking pictures of Vietnam War by Associated Press photographers Nick Ut Cong Huynh and Eddie Adams.

During a career spanning more than half a century, Morris played a crucial role in helping to craft a noble role for photojournalism. He also worked for The Washington Post, National Geographic and the renowned Magnum photo agency.

His job as a photo editor included sending photographers to war zones or other reporting sites, advising them on the angles of their photographs, choosing the best shots in the stream of images transmitted and staging the selected images for the news outlets.

Describing himself as a Quaker and a pacifist, Morris was also known for his political commitment, backing the Democratic Party and being an early support for Barack Obama. Even at his advanced age, Morris had closely followed the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and had been “appalled” by the election of Donald Trump, his friend Pledge said.

Morris felt his fierce anti-war convictions did not contradict his work with photographers covering war zones.

“He believed that photography could change things,” Pledge said in a phone interview from his New York office. “Morris was convinced that images of horrors, devastations, damage to minds and bodies could prompt a movement of hostility to war in the public and eventually help make the world wiser.”

Born in New Jersey in 1916 and raised in Chicago, John Godfrey Morris described himself as a journalist. His first major assignment in 1943, as picture editor for Life magazine in London, made him responsible for getting to the world the 11 famous, grainy black-and-white photos of the Allied invasion taken by Capa on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944.

In a 2014 interview with The Associated Press for D-Day’s 70th anniversary, Morris recalled that Capa sent four rolls of negatives via couriers to his editors in London. But, because of an alleged mistake by a young dark-room assistant, three of the rolls were ruined.

“The first three, there was nothing just pea soup, but on the fourth there were eleven frames, which had discernible images, so I ordered prints of all of those,” he recounted.

For years, Morris blamed himself.

“I used to go around with a sad face saying I am the guy who lost Capa’s D-Day coverage. Now I say I am the one who saved it! It was, needless to say, an awkward moment,” he told the AP.

Years later during the Vietnam War, as a photo editor for The New York Times, Morris insisted that difficult pictures be published because they showed the horrors of the war.

On at least two memorable occasions, he got disturbing pictures published on the front page of the renowned paper.

The first one, by AP photographer Eddie Adams, showed a Saigon police chief executing a Vietcong prisoner at point-blank range in 1968 during the opening stages of the Tet Offensive. The second one, by AP photographer Nick Ut Cong Huynh, depicted a naked 9-year-old girl and other children fleeing a napalm bombing in 1972. Both photographs won Pulitzer Prizes.

Morris, who was married three times, is survived by his partner, Patricia Trocme, four children and four grandchildren, Pledge said. He was awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award, in 2009.

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Crocodile Industry Hopes to Boost Australia Aboriginal Communities

The crocodile industry in Australia’s Northern Territory, a new report says, is worth more than four times the previous estimate of US $80 million. Officials hope the findings will give poorer aboriginal communities the chance to develop crocodile farming industries.

The saltwater creature is the world’s largest reptile. In Australia, they were once hunted to the brink of extinction, mainly for their skins, which were used to make durable leather goods and clothes.

They have been a protected species since the early 1970s, and their numbers in Australia’s tropical north have soared.

Economic opportunities

The Northern Territory regional government now sees economic opportunities for indigenous communities, where officials want to see an expansion of crocodile egg collection programs.

The eggs would help to stock crocodile farms owned by aboriginal groups, or traditional owners of land, which would supply reptile skins to big fashion houses including Louis Vuitton and Gucci, as well as supplying crocodile meat.

“We are looking at direct investments into rangers to make sure that we see on country a growth in the crocodile industry, so the harvesting of eggs, the growing of the crocodile locally and remotely, which is a very important and valuable use of traditional country done by traditional owners,” said Michael Gunner, the Northern Territory’s chief minister.

Hunting for sport?

An independent Australian MP, Bob Katter, has said that as crocodile numbers increase, so does the threat to people. He believes big game trophy hunters should be allowed to shoot them for sport. Katter has argued that crocodile safaris would boost the incomes of indigenous communities.

While the Northern Territory government supports crocodile safaris, the final decision rests with Australia’s federal government, which has refused to allow them. Conservationists have insisted that the shooting of iconic animals for profit in Australia is abhorrent and should never be allowed.

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Apple Accused of Bowing to Chinese Censors

Apple, Inc. has confirmed that it is removing some applications providing virtual personal networks, or VPNs, from its China App Store, to comply with new Chinese regulations — a move critics say is capitulating to internet censorship.

Apple confirmed the move in an email to National Public Radio on Saturday, after several VPN providers announced that their apps had been removed from the China App Store.

Software made outside China can sometimes be used to get around China’s domestic internet firewalls that block content that the government finds objectionable. Critics call China’s “great firewall” one of the world’s most advanced censorship systems.

VPN apps pulled

“Earlier this year,” Apple said, “China’s MIIT [Ministry of Industry and Information Technology] announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government. We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations.”

App maker Express VPN said in a blog post that its app was removed from the China Apple Store, and it noted that “preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS [Apple operating systems] have been removed.”

The statement continued, “We’re disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts.”

Another company, Star VPN, also announced it had been contacted by Apple with the same notice.

China successful

Golden Frog, a company that makes security software, told the New York Times that its app also had been taken down from the China App Store.

“We gladly filed an amicus brief in support of Apple and their backdoor encryption battle with the FBI, so we are extremely disappointed that Apple has bowed to pressure from China to remove VPN apps without citing any Chinese law or regulation that makes VPN illegal,” said Sunday Yokubaitis, president of the company.

The Times reports that this is the first time China has successfully used its influence with a major foreign technology platform such as Apple, to flex its muscle with software makers.

China is Apple’s largest market outside the United States.

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Jessica Williams Says It’s a Great Time to Be Actor of Color

Jessica Williams says it’s a great time to be an actress of color, and applauds Netflix for leading the way in promoting diversity.

 

Williams, who cut her teeth as a correspondent on “The Daily Show,” takes on her first starring role in the streaming network’s original film, “The Incredible Jessica James.”

 

The actress feels Netflix helped shape stories about people of color, citing original programming like “Master of None” and “Orange is the New Black” that are able to “showcase people of color in an amazing way.”

 

While inclusion continues to improve, especially on Netflix, Williams says the struggle for racial equality is far from over.

 

“I think it’s a difficult time in some ways to be a person of color, and I think the same for actors of color, but I also think it’s a great a time. Because I think now … there’s so much more room, I think, for us to be seen, and there’s room for us to create our own stories,” Williams said.

 

Williams feels great pride that she’s part of movement toward greater diversity on screen, calling it something that makes her heart warm and sing. She said she remains mindful of the actresses who paved the way.

 

“It’s like so many black actresses that came before me and my generation. They came before and they did not necessarily have this opportunity that I feel like I have now, and so I’m really grateful for that, and I really do think it’s a really great time to be an actress that is black, in a way,” she said.

 

But that doesn’t make shifting gears from a comedy news show to a feature film an easy choice. Williams certainly felt some trepidation with the move.

 

“I was really nervous because this movie does have comedy in it. It also has a lot of heart, and some sweet moments. So I was worried whether I would be able to portray that or not. But I had a lot of fun doing it, and I found out that I could,” she said.

 

Written and directed by Jim Strouse – who previously directed Williams in his 2015 film, “People Places Things” – the story was written with Williams in mind. Her desire was to correctly depict the “life of a modern, young black woman,” and took it a step further by also taking on the role as an executive producer.

 

“Just in case I had things to say creatively,” Williams said.

 

Strouse called Williams a comedy ninja and the right actress to portray the ever-changing nature of romantic relationships.

 

“I remember when a relationship goes astray or whatever, you break up, you don’t talk and in like maybe months down the road you have coffee,” he said. “Now it’s like, you ghost and maybe a couple months down the road you start liking each other’s photos again. It’s a weird time.”

 

He called the dynamic interesting, then with a knowing smile said, “I don’t know if it’s healthy.”

 

As for her previous gig, Williams has the distinction of being the youngest correspondent hired for “The Daily Show.” Now she’s hoping to join the list of the show’s alumni who have moved on to bigger and better things.

 

“To be mentioned among people like Samantha Bee or Hassan Minaj and Steve Carrell and Steve Colbert is insane,” she said. “It’s, it’s very surreal and I think – I packed up everything to move and be on the ‘Daily Show’ and I was nervous because I was 22. I was, umm, I had a lot of big shoes to fill working with Jon Stewart. I felt like in the beginning I had a lot to prove, and it’s really an honor to be among those people.”

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