Moscow (AFP) - Russia has lost its long-held monopoly as the only country able to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station following the flawless manned launch by US company SpaceX.The Russian space agency congratulated the United States and Elon Musk's SpaceX on the first crewed flight ever by a private company, but experts said the launch should be a wakeup call for Roscosmos."The success of the mission will provide us with additional opportunities that will benefit the whole international programme," cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, Roscosmos executive director for crewed space program...
Some of the Republican officials who signed phony electoral certificates made damning admissions to a reporter in the days after Donald Trump lost the presidential election.
The House select committee is investigating efforts by state-level Republicans, overseen by Rudy Giuliani and other Trump campaign officials, to send "alternate" slates of electors to Congress, and those GOP officials told Politico's Kyle Cheney they understood what they were doing was probably against the law.
“What I might want to do can be completely different from what we are legally capable of doing, does that make sense?” Michigan GOP elector Meshawn Maddock told Cheney by email in November 2020.
However, Maddock -- who's now co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party -- ultimately joined other Michigan Republicans who signed the unofficial certificates, and a Georgia elector also suggested that she knew the scheme was sketchy.
“Bahahaha you think I’m going to respond to you?” Georgia GOP elector Cathy Latham told Cheney by email in late 2020. “You don’t know GA law. Read the Constitution.”
However, when pressed, Latham admitted she would go along with the scheme.
“I am [a] Republican elector for Trump," Latham said. "I serve at the pleasure of the President and the GAGOP. I will serve when called and directed to cast my vote for Trump.”
US singer and actor Meat Loaf, famous for his "Bat Out of Hell" rock anthem, has died aged 74, according to a statement on Friday.
"Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side," read a statement on his Facebook page.
"Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours." No cause of death was given in the statement.
The beefy Texas-born singer distinguished himself in the late 1970s with his soaring vocal range and lavish stage productions.
His 1977 "Bat out of Hell" album, which reportedly sold some 43 million copies, is one of the highest-selling ever
After a career rut, Meat Loaf enjoyed a revival with the success of "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)", which won him a Grammy Award in 1993.
His role in the 1999 cult-classic "Fight Club" highlighted his acting prowess in one of the decade's most critically-acclaimed films.
Meat Loaf's other hit singles include "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" (1977), "I'm Gonna Love Her for Both of Us" (1981).
In 2016, he released a new album -- his first since 2011 -- and returned to a busy schedule after a two-year gap in touring, a string of health scares and speculation he would retire.
The singer had collapsed onstage at least three times since 2003, including once in Canada in 2016 after suffering from dehydration while singing his smash hit "I'd Do Anything For Love".
According to the statement on Facebook, his career spanned six decades that saw him sell over 100 million albums and appear in over 65 movies.
"We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man," it added.
"From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!"
Throughout his career, Meat Loaf had several small parts in films and TV shows, including the musical comedy "Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975), "Wayne's World" (1992) and "Fight Club".
He is one of the few major US musicians outside of the country genre to support the Republican Party actively. In the lead-up to the 2012 election that Barack Obama ended up winning, Meat Loaf campaigned for his challenger Mitt Romney.
© 2022 AFP
An "immersive" Princess Diana documentary offering an "origin story" for the British royal family's latest woes was among the opening night movies at the online Sundance film festival Thursday.
Sundance, which celebrates independent cinema, was forced to go virtual for a second year running by the Omicron variant of Covid-19's surge across the United States.
The pandemic has forced filmmakers to innovate, and "The Princess" is one of several Sundance movies constructed entirely from archive footage.
Without a narrator, it transports viewers back to Diana's tumultuous marriage to Prince Charles, and explores an obsessed media and public's impact on those events via contemporaneous footage.
"It is a kind of Shakespearean tragedy, but it's one that lots of us lived through, and actually actively participated in," said director Ed Perkins.
While many previous documentaries tried to "get inside Diana's head", Perkins focuses on how the press and public perceived and judged her behavior.
Well-known awkward interviews given by the couple to major broadcasters sit alongside rough footage of bored paparazzi with long lenses crouching in bushes, complaining among themselves about Diana's wariness.
Diana's death is seen via home-video footage of a group of friends watching live TV news reports, whose initial excitement and light-heartedness turns to horror as the seriousness of the Paris car crash becomes clear.
Acknowledging that countless documentaries have been made about Diana, Perkins said he hoped the film could "add something new to the conversation" by creating something "more immersive and experiential."
The film "tried to live in the contemporaneous archive from the time, and allow it to unfold in a 'present-tense' unfolding."
It comes as the monarchy has been rocked by the departure of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who accused the family of racism and fought legal battles with the British press over privacy.
"Part of the intention of this film -- or the reason why it felt like the timing was right to make it -- was perhaps, among other things, because of their story," said producer Simon Chinn.
"Our instinct was... to go back in a sense of what we've always thought of as the 'origin story', and see what we could learn about what has happened subsequently through the story of Diana."
Earlier in the evening, festival director Tabitha Jackson told journalists it was likely the online component of Sundance would remain permanently, beyond the pandemic, as it helped to "diversify the audiences for this work."
"Once we discovered how to do that, and that we could do that, I personally don't want to go back on that," she said.
Opening the festival, co-founder Robert Redford described the virtual platform as "an exciting evolution of the Sundance vision."
His pre-recorded message, intended to play in a virtual reality "spaceship" theater before a screening, suffered from a technical glitch and was later posted to the festival's website.
Among other opening night film was "Fire of Love", another archive-based documentary about a doomed couple that follows the exploits of French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft.
The intrepid pair lost their lives during a 1991 explosion on Japan's Mount Unzen, and the movie unearths footage they made, combining spectacular volcanic eruptions with their unique relationship.
Jesse Eisenberg's directorial debut "When You Finish Saving The World", starring Julianne Moore and Finn Wolfhard, also premiered.
The film follows a dysfunctional Midwestern family and the clashes between a mother, who runs a women's shelter, and a teenage son more interested in chasing internet fame via his budding music career.
Sundance runs until January 30.
© 2022 AFP