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Beyonce delights fans with stylized visual album ‘Black Is King’

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Pop royalty Beyonce on Friday released her much-hyped visual album “Black Is King,” an aesthetically ambitious video billed as a companion to her 2019 album of songs inspired by Disney’s live-action remake of “The Lion King.”

The highly stylized visual narrative released on the Disney Plus streaming platform runs an hour and 25 minutes and, akin to “The Lion King,” tells the story of a young boy who navigates an onerous world, finding himself far from his family.

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The work is an ode to the black experience rife with vibrant imagery celebrating the African diaspora, an aesthetic exploration of black history, power and success that also references colonialism, economic disparity and racism.

Beyonce had described the work as a “labor of love,” that now serves “a greater purpose” than its original role as a companion piece to “The Lion King: The Gift,” given the current sociopolitical climate.

Mass anti-racism protests ignited following the police killing of a black man, George Floyd, in May as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the United States, disproportionately infecting people of color.

“Many of us want change,” Beyonce wrote on Instagram, rare personal words from the guarded celebrity.

“I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our REAL history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books.”

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– Lush visuals –

Powered by lush visuals and Beyonce’s soaring vocals, “Black Is King” places heavy emphasis on notions of family and motherhood along with more philosophical threads of origin and legacy.

A-listers including the superstar’s hip hop mogul husband Jay-Z, actress Lupita Nyong’o, jack-of-all-trades Pharrell Williams and model Naomi Campbell all feature in the production.

Beyonce’s mother Tina Knowles-Lawson and former Destiny’s Child bandmate Kelly Rowland also make appearances, as well as daughter Blue Ivy and rare footage of her twins, Rumi Carter and Sir Carter.

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The film follows Beyonce’s venerated 2016 visual album “Lemonade,” which emphasized black womanhood against the backdrop of America’s heritage of slavery and culture of oppression.

Since that Grammy-winning work Beyonce has prized the visual at the forefront of her art, no longer focused on dominating the pop charts.

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Simultaneously one of music’s most private but most-watched stars, the 38-year-old uses her massive social media platform to curate her image and promote her work imbued with broad social commentary on topics including gender and race.

But Beyonce also has faced criticism, especially from outside the United States, for deploying what some call stereotypical visuals of “African tradition” — face paint and feathers, for example.

Many social media users noted that Disney Plus is not accessible in African nations, and that while Beyonce has performed some shows on the continent, her tours haven’t included dates there in years.

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“Someone with the range must unpack how our beloved queen Beyonce is reducing blackness and Africanness to aesthetics and the western imaginations of our existence,” tweeted one user, Paballo Chauke.

“They must also speak about how it’s now profitable to do such gimmicks.”

Still, the Bey Hive — Beyonce’s legion of ardent fans — voiced elation over the release of “Black Is King,” which quickly became a top trending hashtag.


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2020 Election

If Trump loses two more states it’s ‘ballgame over’: AP reporter

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Appearing on MSNBC's " Morning Joe," Associated Press White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire explained Donald Trump's chances of being re-elected have reached the point where, if he loses the electoral votes of one more, he will be out of luck and out of office.

Speaking with co-host Joe Scarborough, Lemire was asked where Trump stands in the battleground states he so desperately needs.

"Both campaigns agree that there are six battleground states to decide this election: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida," he began. "Now the president has to play defense and has had to spend resources and had to go the past week to places like Ohio, Texas -- Georgia is another one where he has to play defense. We don't see, outside of perhaps New Hampshire, a place where Democrats have to do the same now that the Trump campaign has ceded Michigan."

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Trump’s executive orders are confusing and unconstitutional — and likely to hurt his own voters. He doesn’t care.

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As we went into the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had washed his hands of the negotiations over the vitally necessary COVID-19 relief package, leaving Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Tea Party zealot turned White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to try to hash out a deal. Word was that the Democrats had come down from their demand for $3 trillion in various relief programs to $2 trillion, while the White House stuck to its offer of $1 trillion and not a penny more. By Friday, the Senate was going home and the talks had irretrievably stalled.
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Trump administration says US would share COVID vaccine with world after America’s needs are met

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On Monday, Fox News reported that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is offering to share any potential COVID-19 vaccine with other countries, after it stabilizes public health in the United States.

"The U.S. will share any coronavirus vaccine it develops with the globe after American needs are met, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday during a visit to Taiwan," reported Evie Fordham.

"Our first priority of course is to develop and produce enough quantity of safe and effective FDA-approved vaccines and therapeutics for use in the United States," said Azar. "But we anticipate having capacity that, once those needs are satisfied, those products would be available in the world community according to fair and equitable distributions that we would consult in the international community on ... After our departure from the WHO, we will work with others in the world community to find the appropriate vehicles for continuing to support, on a multilateral and bilateral basis, global public health on the order that the United States has done in the past."

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