CHICAGO — For weeks, officials from the White House to Chicago’s City Hall told people that wearing a face mask in public isn’t necessary as the novel coronavirus spread — and that it could even cause more harm than good.But other countries took a different route, especially some Asian nations — including South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore — where mask wearing became common practice. In Europe, the Czech Republic went so far as to require that people wear masks when they venture from their homes. Public health officials in those nations contend that widespread mask use limited the scope of t...
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Actors of color are favorites in each category, and two female directors are nominated for the first time -- this year's Oscars could set new benchmarks for diversity, thanks to long-brewing industry changes as well as Covid-19's transformation of Hollywood, experts say.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has drastically reformed its membership in recent years, admitting large batches of new Oscars voters each year who better reflect society's diversity, after much criticism for its mainly white, male base.
"I think that this Oscars will be forever remembered as the one where changes in the voting body made six years ago in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite has delivered on a promise by the Academy to reform itself," Black US actor Dwayne Barnes ("Menace II Society") wrote in a column for industry site Deadline.
While it is difficult to draw a direct line from those changes to this year's nominations, the current Oscars race is startlingly different from those seen in previous years.
Last year, Cynthia Erivo was the sole non-white actor among 20 nominations, but this time the late Chadwick Boseman ("Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"), Black British actor Daniel Kaluuya ("Judas and the Black Messiah") and South Korean star Youn Yuh-Jung ("Minari") are the firm frontrunners for acting statuettes.
Boseman's co-star Viola Davis is among a crowded pack vying for best actress, while Beijing-born Chloe Zhao ("Nomadland") looks like a shoo-in for best director if she can fend off Emerald Fennell ("Promising Young Woman").
The #OscarsSoWhite campaign was launched in January 2015 on social media to denounce and draw attention to the overwhelming majority of white nominees rewarded year after year by the Academy.
At the time, the Academy's 6,000 members were 93 percent white and 76 percent male.
By this summer, the prestigious group had reached a goal of doubling the number of women and non-white members, reaching one-third female and 19 percent "underrepresented minorities."
"It took a few years to take hold, but there is every reason to hope that the change (in the crop of nominees) is... not a one-time occurrence," wrote Barnes.
As well as #OscarsSoWhite, the #MeToo movement spurred by the sexual assault revelations about disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has prompted calls for more female representation across all film professions.
The impacts of those campaigns have gathered steam over recent years, but in 2020 collided with a dramatic and unpredictable change -- Covid-19.
The coronavirus pandemic has closed movie theaters and delayed Oscar-tipped mega-productions, such as Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story" and sci-fi blockbuster "Dune," both directed by white men.
"They really shook the tree, and this year for the first time, because Covid knocked out a lot of the big movies... that left sort of a bare field," said Sasha Stone, founder of the Awards Daily site, which has analyzed film awards since 1999.
The "pared down selection" of films in contention "happened to be movies by filmmakers of color and women," she said, noting that "nobody had to worry about opening weekend" box office numbers for films lacking star wattage.
"It turned into the perfect storm," she told AFP.
The meteoric rise of streaming platforms during pandemic lockdowns "is certainly a part of" the overall leap forward in representation, as television "has become much more diverse more quickly than film," said Darnell Hunt, a professor of social sciences focusing on race, media and culture at University of California, Los Angeles.
"The streamers really took off in terms of their audiences -- that certainly helped present to the Academy a much more diverse slate of films than they're used to seeing," added Hunt, who is lead author of UCLA's annual Hollywood Diversity Report.
With California re-opening as vaccinations accelerate, Hollywood may return to a more familiar look next year, with a less diverse slate of nominees in coming years.
But Hunt says he does not expect a full return to "business as usual... like it was before the pandemic."
"The signs are pointing in the right direction," he told AFP, noting that in addition to membership changes, the Academy is bringing in eligibility criteria for best picture candidates involving minimum representation of minorities, women, and LGBTQ cast and filmmakers.
"I think all of those things collectively bode well," Hunt said.
Of course, the question remains whether changes to the Oscars will have a profound impact on the way the broader movie industry itself operates.
Stone warned that awards like the Oscars are increasingly "separate from box office anyway now, because they've become so niche," and blockbusters will likely remain less diverse as a whole.
"If male directors make more money, then they'll keep getting hired for the superhero movies. And if white actors are drawing more money, they'll keep getting hired for the superhero," she said.
Oscar nominations can help films to make money and studios to burnish their image, but ultimately "it's like how McDonald's has the salad," she said.
"McDonald's sells Big Macs all over the world, but they have this salad that makes them seem like they care about health.
"That's what the Oscars are to Hollywood -- the salad."
Trump's old 'half-wit' intelligence director ridiculed for not knowing where federal jobs are located
If there's one thing that former Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has done since leaving office, it has called into question the "intelligence" portion of his previous job title.
Such was the case Wednesday when the long-time federal employee proclaimed that no state should have most of the federal jobs in it. He was talking about his reasons for opposing statehood for Washington, D.C., which comes up for a vote in the U.S. House Thursday.
No state should have all the Federal jobs. If DC becomes a state then the federal government must move out of DC a… https://t.co/pTH9dKNWgS— Richard Grenell (@Richard Grenell)1619017293.0
DC statehood has always been a problem for those nearly 700,000 residents who live in its borders and pay taxes but aren't given representation in Congress. It became an even greater point of contention during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Mayor Murial Bowser requested help from the National Guard ahead of the rally, but when the violence began, it took several hours for the guard to be deployed to the Capitol. Bowser had to call Virginia and Maryland and beg for help from their governors because the federal government is in charge of the D.C. guard because D.C. isn't a state.
The problem with Grenell's statement is that while D.C. might be the seat of the three federal branches of government, the actual employees of the federal government are located out in the other 50 states and 16 territories.
According to the ClearenceJobs website, "as of the end of February 2019, the total [people federally] employed was 2,050,936. Of this number, about 85 percent are employed in locations outside of Washington, D.C; 36 percent of these employees live in rural areas." They list the top ten federally employed states as:
1. California – 172,553
2. Virginia – 155,682
3. Maryland – 149,673
4. Texas – 148,453
5. Florida – 99,212
6. Georgia – 80,042
7. New York – 68,579
8. Pennsylvania – 68,300
9. Washington – 60,250
10. Ohio – 54,483
It drew a lot of mockery from those on Twitter observing the ignorance. Some kindly welcomed him to the DC statehood movement. See the comments below:
Good news, DC doesn't have all the Federal jobs. Thanks for your support of DC statehood!
— Zachary Pleat (@zpleat) April 22, 2021
Still can’t believe this moron was DNI. Over 90% of the federal workforce is outside DC. https://t.co/KFyxBeHXsz— Angry Staffer (@Angry Staffer)1619057316.0
@BaddCompani @RichardGrenell Be dumb. But don’t be dumb at YOUR JOB! Between this idiot and creatures like Marjor… https://t.co/uKt3YMeDsF— Carol Johnson AKA Cleo Everest (@Carol Johnson AKA Cleo Everest)1619060850.0
You are still just as useless as you were as an ambassador in Germany. They're still laughing about you
— Resistor the Resister (@Countermotion45) April 21, 2021
Imagine having worked in the federal government and not knowing that national parks, military, VA, and hundreds of other departments operate outside DC with thousands of federal employees.
— Tyler King (@TylerAKing) April 22, 2021
@zekonja @RichardGrenell It’s about making a point that really isn’t one because he’s that idiotic.— nancy hayes pope (@nancy hayes pope)1619057855.0
I didn't realize I had to go to DC to visit Yellowstone or mail my packages. Makes it kind of hard for our smoke jumpers get on a fire in a timely fashion if they have to come all the way from DC. Must be pricey to send out trail crews from DC to western states every day.
— MtnGrl 🏡 (@MtnGrl4) April 22, 2021
Wow, and you were acting DNI? 🙄My Dad, grandfather, uncle, and aunt all worked 30+ years each for the federal government in MA, FL, and TX, not a day in D.C.
— Pat Collins (@PL_Coll) April 22, 2021
You half-wit. There are federal agencies and offices and employees in all states.
— Michael J. Stern (@MichaelJStern1) April 22, 2021
@mampdx @RichardGrenell Meme of the Day. Right here.— Karen Rhodenizer (@Karen Rhodenizer)1619059365.0
@liberalpuppy @RichardGrenell No one said he was ever bright, or knows how to use Google! 😉🤣— Lori Foy (@Lori Foy)1619060056.0
@swabbidiot @RichardGrenell Lol! Even *I* knew that!— ☔️ Kanoe 💐 (@☔️ Kanoe 💐)1619058057.0
@MuellerSheWrote @RichardGrenell 😱— Tammy (@Tammy)1619060973.0
not the brightest light in the harbor huh? It's ok, not everyone can be on the right side of the IQ bell curve.
— Jim "Fully Vaccinated" Collins 🌹 (@jimcollins) April 22, 2021
Americans just spent four years being gaslighted and lied to, and still, Republicans are still trying to do it, "Late Night" host Seth Meyers explained in Wednesday's "Closer Look" segment.
Speaking out on the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, Meyers brought up former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who is now working for Fox News.
"I mean, we just went through four years of bullsh*t liars trying to convince us that reality isn't reality," said Meyers. "They were like hypnotists, except instead of a pocket-watch, they used a meatball on a string."
Doing his hilariously bad Trump impression, Meyers said, "Coronavirus isn't real!"
"Yeah, no, it is," said Meyers in response to the fake Trump.
"Racism doesn't exist," the fake Trump said, swinging the meatball.
"Yes, it does and, also, you're like, getting sauce everywhere," said Myers. "Also how does meatball hypnosis on like 50 percent of the country? In fact, if sh*t hypnotists still want to be on TV lying for a living like former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who was shameless enough to go on Fox yesterday and criticize President [Joe] Biden for supposedly inflaming tensions by gently suggesting that it would be good if the jury agreed that murder should, in fact, be illegal."
McEnany misquoted Judge Peter Cahill, who said that he wishes political officials wouldn't intervene in the judicial process, which he said he felt Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) did. Neither Biden nor Waters addressed the trial until after the jury had been sequestered from news and television. Cahill said as much in his statement to the defense attorney.
"Right, of course, we wouldn't want a president inflaming tensions," said Meyers. "Who did you work for again? Oh, right. President flame thrower. But, sure, Biden's the one inflaming tensions. I mean, what's he going to do next? Gather a group of violent insurrectionists dressed like werewolves and Call of Duty cos-players down at the Capitol and tell them to fight? While his no-neck pasta-goblin of a lawyer calls for a trial by combat? Maybe he'll become best friends with a pillow salesman to claims the jury vote was rigged by Hugo Chavez and the CIA is part of a vast communist conspiracy. 'I saw Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez down at the courthouse using CIA computers to rig the verdict just like how they rigged the Superbowl against DA BEARS!'"
Meyers confessed that he knows that Mike Lindell isn't from Chicago but, "I don't, what's the word, care."
He went on to bash Republicans for their decision to not only support murder by Derek Chauvin, but now they're legalizing it in several states.
See his attack on the GOP below:
Chauvin Found Guilty in George Floyd Murder As Calls for Police Reform Grow: A Closer Look www.youtube.com
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