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Lost Disney film showing Mickey Mouse’s predecessor found in Japan

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When Yasushi Watanabe bought a cartoon film decades ago as a high school student in the Japanese city of Osaka, he had no idea he was purchasing animation history.

But the modest reel he bought for just 500 yen ($4.40 in today’s money) has been revealed as a rare lost cartoon produced by Walt Disney featuring a character that led to the creation of Mickey Mouse.

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The discovery was reported by Japan’s Asahi Shimbun daily, which Watanabe contacted after reading a book about the history of “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit”, the character Disney created in the 1920s.

While Disney created the character, complete with oversized ears and a button nose, he lost the rights to another company, prompting him to develop a new cartoon figure: Mickey Mouse.

The book said seven of the 26 short films featuring Oswald that Walt Disney produced were missing, and Watanabe remembered his childhood reel.

It was labelled in Japanese “Mickey Manga Spide” — Mickey Cartoon Speedy in English — and featured a dog policeman on a motorbike chasing Oswald and his girlfriend in a car.

As the trio speed around valleys and along roads, the characters and the vehicles stretched and shrank, the Asahi reported, using a technique that later featured commonly in Disney works.

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The newspaper contacted the author of the book and the Walt Disney Archives and confirmed that the reel was indeed one of the missing films, originally titled “Neck ‘n’ Neck.”

“We’re absolutely delighted to learn that a copy of the lost film exists,” Becky Cline, director of the archives, told the newspaper.

“As I’ve been a Disney fan for many years, I’m happy I was able to play a role (in the discovery,” added Watanabe, an anime history researcher who is now 84.

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His childhood purchase is now housed at the Kobe Planet Film Archive, and another film showing 50 seconds of the same cartoon has also been unearthed at the Toy Film Museum in Kyoto, the newspaper said.

In 2014, Norway’s National Library announced it had discovered a copy of a Walt Disney cartoon featuring Oswald, which had been thought lost.

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The cartoon, titled “Empty Socks,” was the first Christmas film made by the US entertainment giant and was discovered during an inventory at the library’s facility near the Arctic Circle.

A year later, another short film featuring Oswald was uncovered in Britain and screened for the first time in 87 years.


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US cities brace for more fury as officer hearing postponed

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US cities braced Monday for more fury on the streets as a hearing was postponed for a Minneapolis police officer over the killing of an unarmed black man that ignited the country' most sweeping unrest in decades.

Violence erupted outside the White House for the third straight night Sunday with police firing tear gas and protesters setting nearby structures ablaze, as inside Donald Trump refrained from delivering the sort of unifying national message historically associated with US presidents.

Some 40 US cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington have imposed rare nighttime curfews in hopes of quelling unrest, which included a death overnight in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer blasted President Donald Trump for his dressing down of U.S. governors, he called "weak," for refusing to call in the National Guard to stop protesters.

"I joined a call with my fellow governors and the current president that was deeply disturbing. Instead of offering support or leadership to bring down the temperature at protests, the president repeatedly and viciously attacked governors, who are doing everything they can to keep the peace while fighting a once-in-a-generation global pandemic," said Whitmer.

She then took to Twitter, sharing an essay by former President Barack Obama and calling for "empathy, humanity, and unity."

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George Floyd’s brother leads protest crowd in emotional prayer at the site of his brother’s death

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George Floyd's brother Terrence led protesters in a tearful prayer at the makeshift memorial that has been set up at the site of his brother's death in Minneapolis.

He begged the crowd for calm as protesters around the world have marched in solidarity with those demanding justice.

Linking arms with friends and family, Mr. Floyd shouted down the crowd asking, "what are y'all doing?" Saying that breaking down businesses and setting things on fire isn't going to bring his brother back. He explained that he's more upset than anyone, but "if I'm not wilding out" others shouldn't either.

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