(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)
(JOHANNESBURG) — A giraffe has killed a South African filmmaker who was on assignment at a wildlife facility northwest of Johannesburg.
Filming agency CallaCrew says Carlos Carvalho was filming a feature on Wednesday at the Glen Afric farm in Broederstroom when he “had a fatal run-in with a giraffe on set.”
The agency says Carvalho was flown to a Johannesburg hospital and died there of injuries that night.
South African media say Carvalho was near the giraffe when it swung its neck and knocked him over.
The Glen Afric website promises tourists that “you can get up close and personal to a number of our resident wildlife.”
The British television series “Wild at Heart” was filmed at Glen Afric, which invites visitors to tour the area where filming occurred.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
A member of India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party offered a $1.5 million bounty Sunday for anyone who beheads the lead actress and the director of a yet-to-be released Bollywood film that’s sparked controversy for depicting a romance between a Hindu queen and Muslim ruler.
The film “Padmavati” was set to be in theaters on Dec. 1 and has caused a firestorm over its alleged handling of the relationship.
Suraj Pal Amu, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader from the northern state of Haryana, offered the bounty against actress Deepika Padukone and filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali.The film’s producers postponed the release of the movie the same day.
Speaking at a public rally, Amu also said the film would not be allowed to be released at all, local media reported.
The movie “Padmavati” is based on a 16th century Sufi epic poem, “Padmavat,” a fictional account of a brave and beautiful Rajput queen who chose to kill herself rather than be captured by the Muslim sultan of Delhi, Allaudin Khilji. Over the centuries, the tale has come to be seen as history, even though there is little historical evidence to support it.
Padukone plays the role in the film of Padmini, the legendary queen who committed “jauhar,” the medieval Rajput practice in which women of royal households walked into funeral fires to embrace death over the dishonor of being taken captive.
The film has been in trouble since the beginning of the year, with fringe groups in the western state of Rajasthan attacking the film’s set, threatening to burn down theaters that show it and even physically attacking Bhansali in January.
Most of the anger at the film appears to stem from allegations that Bhansali distorted history by filming a romantic dream sequence between the film’s main protagonists. Bhansali has denied the allegations.
Earlier this month, the head of the Rajput Karni Sena in Rajasthan said Padukone should have her nose cut — a symbol of public humiliation — for being part of a film that allegedly insulted the famed queen.
On Monday, local government officials vowed to take “stringent action” against those threatening Padukone and others involved in the movie, The Indian Express reported.
India’s 1.3 billion-strong democracy is the largest in the world, but despite significant economic progress over the last few decades its politics are held hostage by a complex mix of religion and caste. Books and movies have found themselves at the receiving end of threats of violence and bans because they either offend one religious or caste group, or are deemed offensive to Indian culture in general.
In the past, India’s film censor board rejected the erotic drama “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and Hollywood movies that appear on Indian screens are routinely scrubbed of sex scenes. “The Da Vinci Code” was banned in the Indian state of Goa, which has a large Christian population, because religious groups objected.
On Monday, India’s Supreme Court refused to ban the controversial film, saying it is not inclined in the matter and the fate of the film needs to be decided by the country’s censor board, India Today reported.
In its decision, the court said: “The censor board has a role and the Supreme Court cannot assume that role. Why should the court interfere to stop the release of a movie which has not been cleared by the censor board?”
In 2014, the publishing house Penguin India pulled from shelves and destroyed all copies of American historian Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History” after protests and a lawsuit from a Hindu right-wing group. The group’s main objection was that the book described Hindu mythological texts as fictional.
India-born writer Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned here since 1998, since many Muslims consider it blasphemous. Rushdie was forced to cancel a 2012 appearance at the Jaipur Literary Festival amid protests and threats by prominent Muslim clerics.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS’)
“He was never truly comfortable unless he was seething with unhappiness at something,” one longtime writer told author Jason Zinoman in “Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night.”
In fact, few of the acerbic Letterman’s close colleagues sang his praises to Zinoman.
Letterman’s demeanor soured after July 1995, when his CBS front-running program dipped to second place behind “The Tonight Show” with former friend-turned-enemy Jay Leno.
Viewers flipped to NBC when Leno landed an interview with actor Hugh Grant, fresh off his arrest for soliciting a hooker improbably named Divine Brown.
Many never returned, curdling Letterman’s on-air persona.
He became more openly caustic as his comedy took a sadistic turn. One night, after his “Late Show” was whipped in the ratings by both “The Tonight Show” and “Nightline,” his rage visibly surfaced.
A comedy bit called for a life-size Letterman doll to sit in the guest’s chair. Seemingly on the spur of the moment, Letterman punched the doll — to much audience laughter.
The laughs continued as he landed a few more blows. And then the 580-seat theater went silent when Letterman fell into a frenzy of punching and slapping his plastic alter ego.
Obviously, something was wrong with Dave.
“People don’t understand why you’re behaving the way you’re behaving,” said Rob Burnett, a trusted colleague and the head of Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production company, in a candid chat with his boss.
Letterman’s anger wasn’t all directed inward, and he became upset with pretty much everyone on the show.
Burnett returned as executive producer, but things became strained. His unique ability to manage his boss’ dark moods ended with a “falling-out,” according to Burnett.
Their relationship eroded to the point where they were barely speaking. According to a veteran producer, “everything changed after that.”
A veteran staffer who served under Letterman through both his late-night shows observed that getting close to the boss was perilous: “There comes a moment when he turns on you.”
The tale of Tim Long, one of several head writers hired during the show’s run, was typical. Unable to deal with the host’s constant rejections and dark moods, Long took to chewing Coke cans — and swallowing pieces of tin.
Even the famously mellow Paul Shaffer lashed out at Letterman one night when Todd Rundgren sat in with the band.
Letterman kept pushing and needling, trying to get Rundgren to do more than the one number done in rehearsal.
“The cat flies in to do us a favor and you just want what you want,” Shaffer yelled at his boss.
It embarrassed Shaffer so much the moment was cut from the show before airing, even though Letterman said he was fine with it.
The irony: Letterman was miserable even when his ratings put the show at No. 1 in late-night viewers. In 1993, he walked away from NBC after the network chose Leno to succeed Johnny Carson, taking the 11:30 p.m. slot on rival CBS for his “Late Show With David Letterman.”
CBS offered Letterman a then-record deal with a $16 million annual salary. The payoff was immediate as Letterman seized the ratings lead against the once-invincible “Tonight.”
Yet Letterman remained miserable. “He always complained from the very beginning,” recalled one producer.
Things went downhill from there.
“It got worse when he went to CBS,” recalled Shaffer. “Any flaw, minor flaw, he exaggerated. He was most uncomfortable at No. 1.”
Comic Rich Hall, a writer for Letterman’s NBC show, was floored by the host’s new, abrasive nature when he appeared as a guest. Hall followed actress Andie MacDowell, who had just flopped in her segment. Before the cameras came on, Letterman leaned over and snarled, “How’d you like to be married to that c—?”
What the author calls Letterman’s “ferocious fear of failure” was there from the first.
The feeling of foreboding was exacerbated by the 1980 cancellation of his NBC morning show, “The David Letterman Show,” within months of its debut.
His girlfriend at the time and for years to come, Merrill Markoe, was a brilliantly inventive comedy writer and instrumental in shaping the show.
Markoe, who rarely comments on Letterman publicly, told the author about the resulting fallout.
“If it weren’t for you and your crazy ideas,” Letterman shouted at her on the street, “I’d still have a talk show like John Davidson!”
It’s a comment funny only in retrospect.
Markoe became head writer on NBC’s “Late Night With David Letterman” from the first show in 1982 — and suffered for that, too.
Every night after the show, an agonized Letterman would lock himself in his office with Markoe.
“The last 10 months have included a nightly discussion about what a failure we are,” she once noted.
In those days, the acid-tongued Letterman would hang out, trading barbs with the writers. His targets learned not to return in kind, as the hurt would show on Letterman’s face.
“He was very sensitive,” says Barbara Gaines, a producer who remained with Letterman until his 2015 retirement.
By the end of the ’80s, Letterman was the king of hip and cool. He now smoked cigars and assumed “a statelier air.” Notably, he no longer made a show of despising celebrities, as he had for a decade.
When Barbara Walters booked him as a guest interview on one of her specials, he walked around the office openly expressing his admiration for her.
“What happened, Dave?” asked head writer Steven O’Donnell.
“They are like my peers now,” the host told him.
It was during that era that Letterman started abruptly turning on longtime, trusted colleagues. Barry Sand, a producer and ally since the morning show, suddenly could do nothing right.
After a guest canceled at the last minute, Sand scrambled and was able to book Mel Gibson — then at the height of his fame. Letterman turned on the producer and snarled, “Who the hell wants Mel Gibson? I don’t want Mel Gibson.”
He opted instead for Kamarr the Discount Magician. Sand was soon gone.
In the rush of his success, the formerly prudish Letterman switched up his persona, booking “leggy supermodels” as frequent and welcome guests.
The phrase “leggy supermodels” was funny, but Letterman’s leers came off as sincere and appreciative.
Boorish advances became his signature. Sitting next to Jerry Hall, whose breasts exploded from her dress, he openly enjoyed the view.
“I get the awful feeling I may have overinflated my tires,” quipped Letterman.
On one cringeworthy show, he sucked on a strand of Jennifer Aniston’s hair.
Zinoman writes that after a time, the satire faded away to show the bits for what they were — a rich and famous man indulging his fantasies.
“As he got older, Letterman increasingly played the horny creep,” he writes.
By the time he was an eminence grise on CBS, he became “crudely sexual” in his interviews. The camera would slowly pan over the legs of Aniston or Gwen Stefani as he delivered lascivious comments.
“He seemed like a pervy old man at times,” says one of his head writers, Eric Stangel.
Even before the 2009 scandal when an affair with an assistant exposed Letterman to an extortion try, the host interacted infrequently with most of the show staff.
The only trusted colleagues were those who had worked with Letterman for decades — at least, those left standing.
Letterman just couldn’t bring himself to talk to people.
It seems, though, that after a year and a half in retirement, Letterman is now eager to chat.
In an interview with New York magazine, Letterman claims his son, Harry, 13, doesn’t like being in public with him.
Not because of his snow-white mountain man beard, but because he talks too much to everyone.
Letterman might have been kidding. Or not.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)
Published April 20, 2017
A prominent Russian journalist – who was also a prominent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin – died Wednesday from injuries sustained during a mysterious attack six weeks ago in St. Petersburg.
Nikolai Andrushchenko’s death was reported by Russian media outlets that cited his lawyer and the editor-in-chief of the Novy Peterburg newspaper. State news agency RIA Novosti reported Andrushchenko, 73, had been in a medically induced coma since the March 9 attack.
Andrushchenko’s attackers have not been identified. The editor of RIA Novosti has linked the assault to articles in the newspaper about corruption in St. Petersburg.
Andrushchenko was a member of the St. Petersburg city council from 1990 until 1993. He was among the founders of Novy Peterburg, where he made a name for himself writing about human rights issues and crime.
He was jailed in 2007 for defamation — but his colleagues said the court was punishing him for its news coverage giving a voice to the opposition, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
DETROIT — Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk says the company plans to unveil an electric semi-truck in September.
Musk tweeted the announcement Thursday. He offered no other details about the semi, such as whether it will be equipped with Tesla’s partially self-driving Autopilot mode.
Musk also said the company plans to unveil a pickup truck in 18 to 24 months.
Tesla currently sells two electric vehicles, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV. Its lower-cost Model 3 electric car is due out by the end of this year.
But Musk revealed last summer that the Palo Alto, California-based company is working on several more vehicles, including the semi and a minibus.
Tesla shares rose nearly 3 percent in late trading Thursday in response to Musk’s tweet.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)
“All the pieces of evidence interwoven together allow us to say the person who lives in the U.S. is Michael K., who commanded the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion which carried out the pacification of Polish villages in the Lublin region,” Janicki said.
The decision in Poland comes four years after the AP published a story establishing that Michael Karkoc commanded the unit, based on wartime documents, testimony from other members of the unit and Karkoc’s own Ukrainian-language memoir.
Karkoc’s family has repeatedly denied he was involved in any war crimes and his son questioned the validity of the evidence against him after Poland’s announcement, calling the accusations “scandalous and baseless slanders.”
“There’s nothing in the historical record that indicates my father had any role whatsoever in any type of war crime activity,” said Andriy Karkoc.
He questioned the Polish investigation, saying “my father’s identity has never been in question nor has it ever been hidden.”
Prosecutors with the state National Remembrance Institute, which investigates Nazi and Communist-era crimes against Poles, have asked a regional court in Lublin to issue an arrest warrant for Karkoc. If granted, Poland would seek his extradition, as Poland does not allow trial in absentia, Janicki said.
“The prosecutor in Lublin intends to direct a motion to the U.S. justice authorities asking that the suspect … be handed over to Poland,” the institute said in a statement.
Janicki added the man’s age was no obstacle in seeking to bring him before justice.
“He is our suspect as of today,” Janicki said.
If convicted of contributing to the killing of civilians in 1944, Karkoc could face life in prison.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota declined to comment on the case.
Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, applauded the decision as an important signal even at this late stage.
“Any legal step that’s taken against these people is very important,” he said by telephone from Jerusalem. “It sends a very powerful message, and these kinds of things should not be abandoned just because of the age of a suspect.”
Prosecutors in Germany shelved their own investigation of Karkoc in 2015 after saying they had received “comprehensive medical documentation” from doctors at the geriatric hospital in the U.S. where he was being treated that led them to conclude he was not fit for trial.
Karkoc’s family says he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
Zuroff urged that he be reassessed by independent doctors.
“It is a very common occurrence that elderly individuals facing prosecution for World War II crimes make every effort to look as sick and as infirm as possible,” he said.
The investigations in Germany and Poland began after AP’s story in June 2013, which established Karkoc was a commander of the unit and then lied to American immigration officials to get into the United States a few years after the war.
A second report uncovered evidence that Karkoc himself ordered his men in 1944 to attack a Polish village in which dozens of civilians were killed, contradicting statements from his family that he was never at the scene.
“The Associated Press stands by its stories, which were well-documented and thoroughly reported,” said Lauren Easton, director of AP’s media relations, on Monday.
The special German prosecutor’s office that investigates Nazi crimes concluded that enough evidence existed to pursue murder charges against Karkoc.
AP’s initial investigation found that Karkoc entered the U.S. in 1949 by failing to disclose to American authorities his role as a commander in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. The investigation found that Karkoc was in the area of the massacres, but did not uncover evidence linking him directly to atrocities.
The second story, based upon an investigative file originally from the Ukrainian intelligence agency’s archive, revealed that a private under Karkoc’s command testified in 1968 that Karkoc ordered an assault on the village of Chlaniow in retaliation for the slaying of the SS major who led the Legion, in which Karkoc was a company commander.
A German roster of the unit confirmed that Pvt. Ivan Sharko, a Ukrainian, served under Karkoc’s command at the time.
Other eyewitness accounts, both from villagers and members of Karkoc’s unit, corroborated the testimony that the company set buildings on fire and gunned down more than 40 men, women and children.
Other soldiers who served under Karkoc backed up Sharko’s testimony about civilian killings.
Pvt. Vasyl Malazhenski, for example, told Soviet investigators that in 1944 that unit was directed to “liquidate all the residents” of Chlaniow — although he did not say who gave the order.
Sharko also testified in the investigative documents that Karkoc’s company was directly involved in a “punitive mission” against Poles near the village of Sagryn in 1944.
Rising reported from Berlin. Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME AND THE VATICAN AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis has called on the faithful to consult the Bible with the same frequency as they might consult their cellphones for messages.
Francis urged a packed St. Peter’s Square following his weekly Angelus blessing Sunday to give the Bible the same place in daily life as cellphones, asking: “What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones.”
The message was a twist on Francis’ frequent use of social media to reach the faithful, including regular messages on Twitter.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia’s prime minister announced Saturday that 110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region as a severe drought threatens millions of people across the country.
It was the first death toll announced by Somalia’s government since it declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. The United Nations estimates that 5 million people in this Horn of Africa nation need aid, amid warnings of a full-blown famine.
Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire spoke during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee. The death toll he announced is from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone.
Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the U.N. secretary-general last month in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. All are connected by a thread of violent conflict, the U.N. chief said.
The U.N. humanitarian coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, was expected to visit Somalia in the next few days.
Thousands have been streaming into Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies. Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently.
The drought is the first crisis for Somalia’s newly elected Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Previous droughts and a quarter-century of conflict, including ongoing attacks by extremist group al-Shabab, have left the country fragile. Mohamed has appealed to the international community and Somalia’s diaspora of 2 million people for help.
About 363,000 acutely malnourished children in Somalia “need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished,” the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network has warned.
Because of a lack of clean water in many areas, there is the additional threat of cholera and other diseases, U.N. experts say. Some deaths from cholera already have been reported.
The government has said the widespread hunger “makes people vulnerable to exploitation, human rights abuses and to criminal and terrorist networks.”
The U.N. humanitarian appeal for 2017 for Somalia is $864 million to provide assistance to 3.9 million people. But the U.N. World Food Program recently requested an additional $26 million plan to respond to the drought.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(BUCHAREST, Romania) — Romania’s center-left government has survived a parliamentary vote of no confidence after mass protests.
Ioana Bran, the parliamentary secretary said 161 lawmakers voted in support of the motion, short of the 232 votes needed for it to pass.
“We can say that the necessary majority has not been met, according to the constitution, for the vote to pass,” Bran said.
Hundreds of thousands of people protested against the government after it passed an emergency ordinance last week to decriminalize some official corruption.
The government eventually scrapped the ordinance and the bill will now be debated and approved by the parliament.
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