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China blocks release of Russell Crowe’s ‘Noah’

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Chinese authorities have refused to allow the release there of biblical epic Noah, starring Russell Crowe, which has already been banned in a string of Muslim countries, a source said.

Paramount Pictures tried to secure a release slot for the vast Chinese mainland market by stressing its “environmental message” and special effects, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But getting the Bible-based story past China’s cinematic gatekeepers was difficult, given Beijing’s sensitivities on religious issues, it said.

A source familiar with the issue, who declined to be identified, told AFP simply that the film “will not release in China,” declining any further comment.

The film, which swept to the top of North America’s box office when it was released in March, has been banned in Bahrain, Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries.

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The newspaper cited one source who suggested Noah may have been refused a Chinese release for commercial reasons, because several other Hollywood blockbusters are due out there in the coming weeks.

Godzilla is due in Chinese cinemas on June 13. The Amazing Spider-Man took $10 million in its first day in theaters over the weekend, while Captain America: The Winter Soldier has made more than $115 million in China.

It has grossed $99 million in six weeks since its release in the United States, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. It has made another $233 million overseas, the LA Times reported.

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The film also angered some Christian institutions in the United States over Crowe’s reportedly unconventional portrayal of Noah, who is regarded as an important figure in both Christianity and Islam.


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American, Italian and Russian blast off for ISS

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US, Italian and Russian astronauts blasted into space Saturday, headed for the International Space Station, in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA's Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set off on a six-hour journey to the orbiting science lab from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1628 GMT.

A NASA TV commentator hailed a "textbook launch" minutes after blastoff in "sweltering" weather in Baikonur, where daytime temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

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Megan Rapinoe trashes ‘disgusting’ Trump for his ugly racist tweets in CNN interview

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In an interview with CNN's Van Jones that will air on Saturday night, U.S. Women's soccer champion Megan Rapinoe condemned President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four progressive congresswomen of color.

"It's disgusting, to be honest. To say it's disappointing is ... it doesn't even come close," said Rapinoe. She added, "The more that we just are upset about it and don't accept that kind of behavior from all sides, then the better place we're going to be."

Trump has faced escalating criticism in the wake of his tweet that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) ought to "go back" to where they came from if they disagree with his agenda (three of them were born in the United States). The controversy escalated when attendees of his rally in Greenville, North Carolina chanted "Send her back!" about Omar.

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Conservative suggests Trump’s racist rhetoric will incite worse than ‘send her back’ chants: ‘One shudders to wonder’

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In a column for the Washington Post, conservative Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Kathleen Parker said the refusal by Republican lawmakers and the evangelical community to condemn Donald Trump's racist rhetoric is paving the way for something far worse than mere "send her back" chants.

Under a headline that bluntly states, "Those who don’t condemn Trump’s racism are complicit in his bigotry," Parker gets right to her opinion of the president, writing, "Going out on a limb here: President Trump is a racist. And a sexist. And a xenophobic nationalist. Among other things. Not to name call or anything."

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