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Roman Polanski snubs French Oscars fearing ‘lynching’

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The controversial film director Roman Polanski told AFP on Thursday he will not attend the French Oscars because he fears a “public lynching” by feminist activists.

The veteran is at the centre of a storm of protest after his new film about the Dreyfus affair, “An Officer and a Spy”, topped the list of nominations for the Cesar awards, which will be presented in Paris on Friday night.

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France’s equality minister and feminists were outraged at his 12 nominations, including for best film, given that Polanski is still wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

“We know how this evening will unfold already,” Polanski said in a statement to AFP.

“Activists are already threatening me with a public lynching, with some saying they are going to protest outside,” the 87-year-old added.

“What place can there be in such deplorable conditions for a film about the defence of truth, the fight for justice, blind hate and anti-Semitism?”

Earlier this week, French star Adele Haenel, who last year accused the director of her first film of sexually harassing her when she was only 12, blasted the Cesars for honouring Polanski.

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“Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims,” she said. “It means raping women isn’t that bad.”

The entire board of the French film academy which awards the Cesars was forced to resign early this month after Polanski’s movie became the favourite to lift the top prizes.

– ‘Sick minds’ –

Academy head Alain Terzian had justified its choice by saying that the academy “should not take moral positions” about giving awards.

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Despite protests outside some cinemas, the movie — about Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer wrongly persecuted by the French army at the turn of the 20th century — has been a French box office hit.

However, the publicity campaign for the film was halted after French photographer Valentine Monnier claimed that she had also been raped by the director in 1975.

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Monnier, an 18-year-old model and actress at the time, said Polanski tried to give her a pill as he beat her “into submission” at his Swiss chalet.

Polanski “absolutely denied” the allegations, pouring scorn on her story.

The director told AFP that had taken the decision not to attend the Cesars ceremony to protect his team and “my family, my wife and my children, who have been subject to insults and affronts as part of a kind of collective responsibility that comes from another age”.

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“The activists brandish the figure of 12 women who I am supposed to have molested half a century ago,” he added.

“These fantasies of sick minds are treated as established fact — a lie repeated 1,000 times becomes a truth.”

Polanski said that he was not going to submit himself to a trial by media so “that the irrational triumphs yet again”.

The director caused uproar at the Venice film festival last year — where his film won two prizes — by comparing his hounding by the media to the anti-Semitic persecution Dreyfus suffered.

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He later blamed the disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for his woes.

He said Weinstein had tried to brand him a “child rapist” to stop him winning an Oscar in 2003 for “The Pianist”.


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Maddow reports Florida governor is letting ‘coronavirus-denialist megachurch guy’ hold huge services

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On Sunday, the River Church in Tampa was packed with parishioners despite the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.

The following day, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister arrested Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne for violating the county's social distancing rules.

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Here’s how Christian Nationalists have shaped the federal government’s response to coronavirus

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On Thursday, appearing on the Slate radio show "The Gist" with Mike Pesca, journalist Catherine Stewart outlined some of the ways the Christian Right is responsible for the federal government's disastrous response to coronavirus.

"The coronavirus pandemic is real wrath-of-God type stuff, isn't it?" said Pesca. "Well, there are some people who are waiting for this, who are ready for this, and who, quite scarily, have been tasked with the response."

"It's a complex question, and I think that Christian Nationalism, which is what we're dealing with here, is not a religion," said Stewart. "Many evangelicals are doing very positive things, many religious people are doing a lot of positive things in this situation with the coronavirus. But Christian Nationalism is not a religion, it's a political ideology that cloaks itself in religious rhetoric. And it's a movement that put Trump in power."

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Jared Kushner ripped by NYT columnist: He will ‘get us all killed’ with his incompetence

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On Thursday, writing for The New York Times, columnist Michelle Goldberg laid into President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who appeared at the day's coronavirus press conference to blame states for the federal government's slow response.

"Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror," wrote Goldberg. "According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist. 'I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,' Kushner reportedly said. 'I'm doing my own projections, and I've gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.'"

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