аналіз українського медіапростору

by MediaExpert

Oscar Nominees in the Foreign Picture Category Tackle Political Oppression, War and Social Injustice

Totalitarian regimes and their mark on the human psyche, nostalgic depictions of life in Mexico City riddled with socio economic and racial divisions and the toll of poverty and war on children and families are themes of this year’s Oscar nominees in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

by MediaExpert

Female Acts, Rap Songs Win Big at the Grammy Awards

Women returned at the Grammys on Sunday as female acts won album of the year and best new artist, while rap also triumphed, with Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” becoming the first rap-based song to win record and song of the year.

Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” picked up album of the year, and Dua Lipa won best new artist.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Musgraves said. “I am very thankful. Winning doesn’t make my album any better than anybody else in that category.”

Gambino was the night’s big winner, picking up four honors, including best music video and best rap/sung performance.

Drake surprised the music world when he emerged on stage to accept the best rap song trophy but told the room of musicians that winning awards isn’t necessary if you have real fans attending your concerts and singing your songs.

Drake, who rarely attends awards shows, won the honor for his massive hit “God’s Plan.”

“You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown. Look, if there are people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here. I promise you. You already won,” he said at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

He tried to continue speaking but was cut off as the ceremony suddenly went to a commercial.

Rap has endured a longtime losing streak at the Grammys. The last time a rapper won album of the year was in 2004, with Outkast. Only a handful of rappers have won best new artist.

Cardi B made history as the first solo female to win best rap album (Lauryn Hill won as a member of the Fugees at the 1997 Grammys). 

She was shaking onstage as she tried to give a thank-you speech with her rapper-husband Offset holding her arm.

“The nerves are so bad. Maybe I need to start smoking weed,” she said as the audience laughed. “I just want to say thank you everybody that was involved … I want to thank my daughter.”

The Grammys kicked off with a group of powerful women, including Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, describing the role of music in their lives – a display that came a year after female voices were somewhat muted at the 2018 ceremony.

“Music has always helped me tell my story,” said Obama, who surprised the audience with her appearance. “Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves. It allows us to hear one another.”

Gaga told the crowd: “They said I was weird, that my look, that my choices, that my sound wouldn’t work. But music told me not to listen to them.”

​Jada Pinkett Smith and Jennifer Lopez also spoke and stood in solidary with Obama, Gaga and Alicia Keys, who is hosting the show airing on CBS.

“Yes, ladies,” Keys said. “There’s nothing better than this.”

The opening contrasted with last year’s Grammys, where male acts dominated in nominations and the only woman competing for the top award, Lorde, didn’t get a chance to perform onstage.

But this year, Gaga, Brandi Carlile and Kacey Musgraves won three Grammys each.

Carlile took three honors in the Americana category and will compete for the three biggest awards during the live show: album, song and record of the year.

Gaga also won three, including best pop duo/group performance, a win she shared with Bradley Cooper.

Gaga, now a nine-time Grammy winner, won best pop solo performance for “Joanne,” while hit “Shallow,” from “A Star is Born,” was named best song written for visual media. The song is nominated for an Oscar and also won at the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Satellite Awards.

Women have a strong presence in the top categories. Five of the eight album-of-the-year nominees were women, including Carlile’s “By the Way, I Forgive You,” Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer,” Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” and H.E.R.’s self-titled album are also in contention.

When asked about the lack of women in the top categories at the 2018 Grammys, Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow said women need to “step up.” He later acknowledged that it was a “poor choice of words,” and his much-criticized remarks forced the academy to launch a new task force focused on inclusion and diversity.

Portnow, who didn’t seek a renewal on his contract which ends this year, seemed to address his words from last year during Sunday’s show.

“This past year I’ve been reminded that if coming face to face with an issue opens your eyes wide enough, it makes you more committed than ever to help address those issues. The need for social change has been the hallmark of the American experience, from the founding of our country to the complex times we live in today,” he said.

British singer Dua Lipa alluded to Portnow’s 2018 words when she won best new artist. 

“I guess this year we’ve really stepped up,” she said after telling the audience she was was grateful to be nominated alongside so many female performers. Six of the best-new-artist nominees were women, including H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Margo Price, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith.

Musgraves picked up best country album for “Golden Hour,” best country solo performance for “Butterflies” and best country song for “Space Cowboy.”

“I never dreamed that this record would be met with such love,” she said onstage.

She also gave a shout-out to her husband in the audience, saying she wouldn’t have been able to make the album if he “didn’t open my heart like you did.”

Musgraves performed “Rainbow” from “Golden Hour” during the show, and hit the stage for a second time to honor Dolly Parton. Musgraves and Katy Perry joined forces for “Here You Come Again,” later joined by Parton herself. The icon sang a duet version of “Jolene” with Miley Cyrus, who often covers the classic song. But the country music icon truly shined when she sang “Red Shoes,” with country foursome Little Big Town providing background vocals.

Yolanda Adams, Fantasia and Andra Day teamed up for stirring performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” in honor Aretha Franklin, who died last year. 

Diana Ross earned a standing ovation when she emerged onstage in a bright red dress to perform “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” and “The Best Years of My Life.” She celebrated her 75th birthday early with the performance, saying afterward, “Happy birthday to me!” Her actual birthday is March 26.

​R&B singer H.E.R., who won best R&B performance for “Best Part” with Daniel Caesar, stunned as she played her guitar and sang. Chloe x Halle impressed when they sang Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack’s “Where Is the Love.” Monae grooved onstage during “Make Me Feel,” backed by several dancers. Post Malone performed with Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Cardi B grinded onstage during her latest single, “Money.”

Ariana Grande won her first Grammy in the same week that she publicly blasted Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich and accused him of lying about why she was no longer performing at the show.

Tori Kelly and Lauren Daigle won two awards each. Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ella Mai, Pharrell Williams, Hugh Jackman, Stingy, Shaggy, Dave Chappelle, “Weird Al” Yankovic, the late Chris Cornell, Greta Van Fleet and even former President Jimmy Carter also picked up early awards ahead of the live show.

There was a tie for best rap performance, and Drake was surprisingly not one of the winners. Drake’s “Nice for What” lost to Anderson Paak’s “Bubblin”’ and Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future and James Blake’s “King’s Dead,” from the “Black Panther” soundtrack.

Beck was a double winner during the pre-telecast, taking home best alternative music album and best engineered album (non-classical) for “Colors.” Emily Lazar, one of the engineers who worked on the album and won alongside Beck, was the first female mastering engineer to win in the latter category.

by MediaExpert

Tabloid CEO’s Lawyer Denies Enquirer tried to Extort Bezos

The National Enquirer committed neither extortion nor blackmail by threatening to publish intimate photos of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, an attorney for the head of the tabloid’s parent company said Sunday.

Elkan Abromowitz, an attorney for American Media Inc. chief executive David Pecker, said on Sunday a “reliable source” well-known to Bezos and his mistress provided the story about the billionaire’s extramarital affair.

Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish the explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges with his mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, and publicly declare that the Enquirer’s coverage of him was not politically motivated. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

Bezos’ investigators have suggested the Enquirer’s coverage of his affair was driven by dirty politics, and the high-profile clash has pitted the world’s richest man against the leader of America’s best-known tabloid, who is a strong backer of President Donald Trump. Trump has been highly critical of Bezos over his ownership of The Washington Post and Amazon, and the Post’s coverage of the White House.

Federal prosecutors are looking into whether the Enquirer violated a cooperation and non-prosecution agreement that recently spared the gossip sheet from charges for paying hush money to a Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Trump, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday. The people weren’t authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

But asked during an interview with ABC’s “This Week” whether he was concerned the Bezos matter could jeopardize the noncooperation agreement, Abramowitz said: “Absolutely not.”

Abramowitz defended the tabloid’s handling of the situation as part of a standard legal negotiation.

“I think both Bezos and AMI had interests in resolving their interests,” Abramowitz said. “It’s absolutely not a crime to ask somebody to simply tell the truth. Tell the truth that this was not politically motivated, and we will print no more stories.”

Bezos’ affair became public when the Enquirer published story on Jan. 9 about his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, who is also married. Bezos then hired a team of private investigators to find out how the tabloid got the texts and photos the two exchanged.

​Bezos’ personal investigators, led by his security consultant Gavin de Becker, have focused on Sanchez’s brother, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Michael Sanchez is his sister’s manager, a Trump supporter and an acquaintance of Trump allies Roger Stone and Carter Page.

Abramowitz would not comment when asked whether Michael Sanchez was the Enquirer’s source but said that “Bezos and Ms. Sanchez knew who the source was.”

Michael Sanchez has declined to speak with AP on the record. In a Jan. 31 tweet, he said without evidence that de Becker “spreads fake, unhinged conservative conspiracy theories.”

Investigators working for Bezos have identified who they believe provided text messages to the Enquirer, the person familiar with the matter told the AP on Sunday. Bezos’ investigators concluded their probe into the text message leak and turned over the results to attorney Richard Ben-Veniste for review and possible referral to law enforcement, the person said. Ben-Veniste had served as special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal. 

In his blog post on Thursday, Bezos alluded to a possible relationship between Saudi Arabia and AMI, but Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state of foreign affairs, said he had “no idea” about such a relationship and doubted the kingdom played any role in urging AMI to run negative stories about Bezos. Last year, the tabloid produced a glossy magazine that included 97 pages saluting Saudi Arabia, ahead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s arrival in the U.S. on a public relations blitz to transform his country’s image.

“It’s like a soap opera,” al-Jubeir said of Bezos’ allegations during a roundtable on Friday with reporters in Washington.

Asked about AMI’s recent $450 million debt restructuring, Abramowitz said “not a penny” of that money came from the Saudi kingdom. The company had sought financing from the Saudis but never received any, he said.

After Bezos on Thursday posted the exchanges with AMI in an extraordinary blog post on Medium.com, several celebrities and journalists posted on social media that they too had been threatened by AMI. Ronan Farrow said he and “and at least one other prominent journalist” involved in reporting on the tabloid had “fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI” and actor Terry Crews alleged the company tried to “silence him” by “fabricating stories of me with prostitutes.”

Abramowitz said he didn’t know of any AMI employees blackmailing celebrities or journalists or “committing any crime at all.”

In recent months, the Trump-friendly tabloid acknowledged secretly assisting Trump’s White House campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The company then buried the story until after the 2016 election.

Trump’s longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty last year to charges that included helping to broker that transaction.

As part of a non-prosecution agreement in that case, AMI promised not to break the law. The deal requires top executives, including Pecker and the Enquirer’s editor, Dylan Howard, to cooperate with federal prosecutors. A violation of the agreement could lead to criminal charges over the McDougal payments.

by MediaExpert

Louvre Abu Dhabi introduces Rembrandt, Vermeer

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to carry the famed name outside of France, announced Sunday it will roll out works by Dutch masters Rembrandt and Vermeer this month.

Works by the two artists are part of the gallery’s first exhibition this year, entitled “Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden collection and the Musee du Louvre.”

The exhibit, on display in the United Arab Emirates capital from February 14 to May 18, is dedicated to Rembrandt, Vermeer and the famed “fijnschilders” — fine painters known for their detailed work — of the Netherlands.

“Rembrandt is a master of the Golden Age,” museum head Manuel Rabate told AFP.

“He’s a universal genius, he’s connected to the world.”

The exhibition features 95 works, including Vermeer’s “Young Woman Seated at a Virginal” alongside Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Man” and “Study of the Head and Clasped Hands of a Young Man as Christ in Prayer”.

The museum has also acquired Rembrandt’s “Head of a young man, with clasped hands: Study of the figure of Christ” as part of its permanent collection.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi was inaugurated with great pomp in November 2017 — nearly five years behind schedule — by French President Emmanuel Macron and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

It was marketed as “a universal museum” celebrating cultural exchange and tolerance.

The museum has reportedly cost the UAE around $1 billion, including upwards of $500 million to use France’s “Louvre” brand.

Officials have not confirmed the price tag.

by MediaExpert

Wikitongues Helps Bring Languages Back to Life

Some 6,000 languages are spoken in the world, and nearly half of them are endangered, according to the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.

One of them is Theron Musuweu Kolokwe’s native tongue, Subiya, a Bantu language spoken by more than 30,000 people along the Zambezi River in Namibia, Zambia and Botswana.

“I think in my language,” he said. “I dream in my language. It’s the language that I was born into. I didn’t have the choice to speak it.”

That’s because, like other educated young people in Windhoek, the 33-year-old speaks a number of other languages on a daily basis, especially English and Afrikaans.

Two years ago, Kolokwe started documenting Subiya. The idea came to him while he was watching YouTube.

“Randomly, a video of someone speaking their native tongue popped up,” he recalled. “Then, when I opened it, it caught my curiosity. Then, I was like, I want to also hear my tongue and languages from my country and southern Africa in particular.”

Kolokwe is one of dozens of volunteers working with Wikitongues, a nonprofit in New York City that helps people from around the world preserve native languages that have been disappearing.

​Colorful vs. gray

When a language becomes extinct, says Wikitongues co-founder Daniel Bogre Udell, a culture disappears and a community loses its identity. That’s happening more often than many can imagine.

Udell, however, says language loss is not a natural culmination of progress.

“That’s really not an accident of history,” he explained. “It’s because, over the 1800s and 1900s, roughly every country in the world relentlessly worked to forcefully assimilate minorities’ cultures. I think no one would suggest that we need to be religiously or culturally or ethnically homogeneous. So, why would we be linguistically homogeneous? It’s a question about what kind of a world we want to live in: a colorful one or a gray one?”

The volunteer-based group began in 2016 as an open internet archive of every language in the world. Nearly 1,000 volunteers have submitted videos in more than 400 languages and dialects on Wikitongues’ YouTube channel. Some, like English, Farsi and Mandarin, are spoken by hundreds of millions of people. Others are unfamiliar, like Bora, spoken by a few thousand people in the Amazonian regions of Peru and Colombia, and Iraqw, spoken in Tanzania.

Inspiration and hope

The vision behind Wikitongues is simple and clear. It’s all about providing the tools and support people need to save their languages.

“Language revitalization at the end of the day is something that has to be done by the community, from the ground up,” Udell said. “There is no way an outsider organization can save someone’s language for them. We’ve had over 1,500 contributors and videos from 70 different countries. We have people from India who record dozens of languages, which is beyond their own. We have another volunteer from Scotland who is one of the last speakers of a variety of Scottish dialects. He’s in the process of reclaiming them, revitalizing, (and) building a dictionary for them.”

Wikitongues is also where volunteers from around the world can be inspired by the proof that reviving disappearing indigenous languages is possible. Hebrew is a good example.

“Hebrew went extinct in the 4th century BC, and was revived in the 1800s and now once again it’s the mother tongue of half of the world’s Jewish population,” Udell said. “One of our tribe partners here in the U.S., the Tunica-Biloxi tribe in Louisiana, has over the past couple of years built a really lively language revival on their community. Their language went extinct in the 1940s. We’ve had contributors from the Cornish community whose language went extinct in the 1700s and was brought back in the 1900s. Their movement really got geared up when the internet arrived and new generations of Cornish speakers find each other online and use the language on a daily basis.”

Such revival success stories give volunteers like Theron Musuweu Kolokwe hope that his efforts can save Subiya and other African languages from extinction. Kolokwe’s goal is to create a dictionary, and a curriculum so it can be taught in school.

“I want the world to know about my language,” he sais. “I want to promote it, so that generations to come can speak it fluently because there is a huge influx of Western languages around here, especially in Namibia. We all learn [English] in school. It’s the business language, the language of government, and people are neglecting their native languages. So, I want to promote it so more and more people can speak it. And children can be proud of where they come from.”

With awareness and technology, Wikitongues puts people in a better position to save and revive their native languages, making the world more colorful and culturally diverse.

by MediaExpert

Grammy Awards to Showcase Girl Power

Rappers Kendrick Lamar and Drake may lead the nominations, but Sunday’s Grammy Awards looks set to be a showcase for girl power.

Outspoken rapper Cardi B, whose music and personal life has dominated pop culture for the past two years, leads the charge on music’s biggest night with a live performance and five Grammy nominations, including for album and record of the year.

R&B singer Alicia Keys will host the Grammys for the first time, while Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae, Camila Cabello and Kacey Musgraves are also among the performers at the Los Angeles ceremony.

Adding to the star power, Motown legend Diana Ross will take the stage to mark her 75th birthday in March, and hopes are high that Lady Gaga will perform her Grammy- and Oscar-nominated song “Shallow” from the movie “A Star is Born.”

​Eyes on Cardi B

Yet Cardi B is likely to grab most of the attention. The 26-year-old New York artist is one of only a handful of female rappers and has captured attention with her message of female empowerment, on and off marriage to rapper Offset, and a string of hit records and collaborations, including “I Like It,” “Girls Like You” and “Taki Taki.”

“Cardi B is a very strong woman who is in control of her career. She is really talented and has something to say and she is just fun. She is like a breath of fresh air,” said Melinda Newman, West Coast editor for Billboard magazine.

“Between Alicia Keys and all the female nominees, I think we will have a very female-leading show. That’s not necessarily by design, that’s just how it’s shaking out this year,” Newman added.

Uproar in 2018

It is a far cry from 2018, when the dearth of female nominees and performers caused a media uproar and prompted the Recording Academy, whose members choose the Grammy winners, to expand the number of nominees in the top four categories to eight from five.

This year five of the eight nominees for the coveted album of the year award are women: Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy”; Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer”; folk singer Brandi Carlile’s “By the Way, I Forgive You”; country artist Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour”; and R&B newcomer H.E.R.’s self-titled “H.E.R.”

Six of the eight musicians competing for best new artist are also women, including “New Rules” British singer Dua Lipa, Chloe & Halle, Bebe Rexha and H.E.R.

While the show may give the impression that girls run the world, there is no guarantee how many will take home a Grammy.

Lamar leads with eight nods, many of them for writing most of the “Black Panther” movie soundtrack album, which is up for album of the year. Drake, the most commercially successful artist of 2018, follows with seven nominations, including for his album “Scorpion” and single “God’s Plan.”

It is not yet known whether either of the rappers will perform on Sunday.

The Grammy Awards take place in Los Angeles, Feb. 10, and will be broadcast live on CBS television at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT (0100 GMT).

by MediaExpert

How to Succeed in Hollywood as a Muslim Woman Filmmaker

Wearing a headscarf and a smile, Muslim movie director and writer Lena Khan stands out when she walks in Hollywood circles.

“It’s very hard to be a female filmmaker in Hollywood, that is for sure,” she said. “I think they feel like you don’t have as much authority, or you can’t command a set as much. And for the Muslim thing, I think they are still trying to process that.”

Khan is a child of immigrants from India. Born in Canada, she moved to the United States with her family when she was 2 years old and settled in a neighborhood east of Los Angeles. In school, she explored several career options before deciding on filmmaking.

“I had wanted to become a teacher. You look around and you’re like, ‘Nobody learns from teachers anymore,’” Khan joked. “Sometimes it feels like it,” she added. “And at least people learn so much from movies and films, about people, about social issues, about everything.”

However, Khan’s decision to pursue a career of writing and filmmaking sparked some criticism.

“When I was starting out, people in the community, South Asians most of all, they’re like, ‘Why are you entering such a stupid career?’”

Stories have value

But Khan persisted. Her first success was a movie she co-wrote and directed called “The Tiger Hunter.” The 2017 comedy is about the immigrant experience of a man from India in the U.S. Khan said the movie’s success surprised people in her community.

“People who are South Asian or Muslim can’t seem to believe that our stories have really real value. And so, the moment you start talking about, ‘Oh, you know such and such person from this company’ — aka white person — ’said this movie is good.’ That’s when their eyebrows raise. That’s when they feel like, ‘Oh, OK, somebody else validated this brown person’s story, and thus it has something to say.’”

Khan said the film’s universal themes and the coincidental timing of its release helped draw attention to it.

“The Muslim ban happened right when the movie came out,” she said, referring to President Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily barred people from seven countries, most with a predominantly Muslim population, from entering the U.S. “That was never intended. It’s not a good thing, but it became very, very relevant.”

Her own path

“The Tiger Hunter” opened doors to opportunities that Khan never had. She is now working on a TV comedy and directing a movie for Disney. She said she surprised many people during Hollywood meetings.

“The first thing when you walk into a room in a lot of places is them kind of looking at your head — sort of just a quick eye-glance over there. And then, when you say things like how I play the drums, and they were just very shocked,” she said. “They want people who they feel like they can hang out with that are part of their club. And you really don’t look like you’re a part of their club.”

But Khan said she will not compromise who she is. She just creates her own path.

“I’m not going to hang out in a bar until 2 a.m., which sometimes a lot of business gets done that way, and sometimes meeting those people on TV that you need to meet. So, you kind of have to make up for it in other ways,” she said. “For me, I’ve always had to make up for it, part of it. That’s how I started making my own movies.”

What keeps her going, even with obstacles from Hollywood and within her own community?

“I like what I’m doing,” she said. “I like it. I feel like it has some value. It’s incredibly fun. Then, I’m also a faithful person, whereas it’s always for me, it’s about sort of like how you went about your day, and kind of what you tried, and the results are up to God.”

by MediaExpert

Former Vatican Doctrine Chief Pens Conservative Manifesto

The Vatican’s former doctrine chief has penned a “manifesto of faith” to remind Catholics of basic tenets of belief amid what he says is “growing confusion” in the church today.

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller didn’t name Pope Francis in his four-page manifesto, released late Friday. But the document was nevertheless a clear manifestation of conservative criticism of Francis’ emphasis on mercy and accompaniment versus a focus on repeating Catholic morals and doctrine during the previous two papacies.

Mueller wrote that a pastor’s failure to teach Catholic truths was the greatest deception — “It is the fraud of the anti-Christ.”

Francis sacked Mueller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2017, denying the German a second five-year term.

​‘Truth of revelation’

In the document, which was published by conservative Catholic media that have been critical of Francis, Mueller repeats basic Catholic teaching that Catholics must be free from sin before receiving Communion. He mentions divorced and remarried faithful, in a clear reference to Francis’ opening to letting these Catholics receive Communion on a case-by-case basis after a process of accompaniment and discernment with their pastors.

Mueller also repeats that women cannot be ordained priests and that priests must be celibate. Francis has reaffirmed the ban on ordination for women but has commissioned a study on women deacons in the early church. Francis has also reaffirmed priestly celibacy but has made the case for exceptions where “pastoral necessity” might justify ordaining married men of proven virtue.

“In the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the faith, many bishops, priests, religious and lay people of the Catholic Church have requested that I make a public testimony about the truth of revelation,” Mueller wrote. “It is the shepherd’s very own task to guide those entrusted to them on the path of salvation.”

Nostalgic for Benedict XVI 

The manifesto was the latest jab at Francis from the conservative wing of the church. Already, four other cardinals have called on the Jesuit pope to clarify his outreach to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

And the Vatican’s former ambassador to the U.S. has demanded Francis resign over what he claimed was the pope’s 2013 rehabilitation of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite knowing the high-ranking American slept with adult seminarians. McCarrick is likely to be defrocked in the coming days after he was more recently accused of sexually abusing minors.

Mueller’s manifesto carries the date of Feb. 10, the eve of the sixth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s historic announcement that he would resign. Many conservatives are nostalgic for the doctrinal clarity and certainty of Benedict’s reign.

It was published after Francis penned a joint declaration of “fraternity” with a prominent Muslim imam during his recent trip to the United Arab Emirates. Some conservatives say the document’s claim that the pluralism of religions is “willed by God” muddies Catholic belief about the centrality of Christ. Francis has defended the document as doctrinally sound.

by MediaExpert

British Actor Albert Finney Dies at 82

Albert Finney, one of the most respected and versatile actors of his generation and the star of films as diverse as “Tom Jones” and “Skyfall,” has died. He was 82.

From his early days as a strikingly handsome and magnetic screen presence to his closing acts as a brilliant character actor, Finney was a British treasure known for charismatic work on both stage and screen.

Finney’s family said Friday that he “passed away peacefully after a short illness with those closest to him by his side.” He died Thursday from a chest infection at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, a cancer treatment center.

Finney burst to international fame in 1963 in the title role of “Tom Jones,” playing a lusty, humorous rogue who captivated audience with his charming, devil-may-care antics.

He excelled in many other roles, including “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”, a 1960 drama that was part of the “angry young man” film trend.

Finney was a rare star who managed to avoid the Hollywood limelight despite more than five decades of worldwide fame. He was known for skipping awards ceremonies, even when he was nominated for an Oscar.

“Tom Jones” gained him the first of five Oscar nominations. Other nominations followed for “Murder on the Orient Express,” ″The Dresser,” ″Under the Volcano” and “Erin Brockovich.” Each time he fell short.

In later years he brought authority to bid-budget and high-grossing action movies, including the James Bond thriller “Skyfall” and two of the Bourne films. He also won hearts as Daddy Warbucks in “Annie.”

He played an array of roles, including Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II, a southern American lawyer, and an Irish gangster. There was no “Albert Finney”-type character that he returned to again and again.

In one of his final roles, as the gruff Scotsman, Kincade, in “Skyfall,” he shared significant screen time with Daniel Craig as Bond and Judi Dench as M, turning the film’s final scenes into a master class of character acting.

“The world has lost a giant,” Craig said.

Although Finney rarely discussed his personal life, he said in 2012 that he had been treated for kidney cancer for five years.

He also explained why he had not attended the Academy Awards in Los Angeles even when he was nominated for the film world’s top prize.

“It seems silly to go over there and beg for an award,” he said.

The son of a bookmaker, Finney was born May 9, 1936, and grew up in northern England on the outskirts of Manchester. He took to the stage at an early age, doing a number of school plays and — despite his lack of connections and his working-class roots — earning a place at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

He credited the headmaster of his local school, Eric Simms, for recommending that he attend the renowned drama school.

“He’s the reason I am an actor,” Finney said in 2012.

Finney made his first professional turn at 19 and appeared in several TV movies.

Soon, some critics were hailing him as “the next Laurence Olivier” — a commanding presence who would light up the British stage. In London, Finney excelled both in Shakespeare’s plays and in more contemporary offerings.

Still, the young man seemed determined not to pursue conventional Hollywood stardom. After an extensive screen test, he turned down the chance to play the title role in director David Lean’s epic “Lawrence of Arabia,” clearing the way for fellow RADA graduate Peter O’Toole to take what became a career-defining role.

But stardom came to Finney anyway in “Tom Jones”.

That was the role that introduced Finney to American audiences, and few would forget the sensual, blue-eyed leading man who helped the film win a Best Picture Oscar. Finney also earned his first Best Actor nomination for his efforts and the smash hit turned him into a Hollywood leading man.

Finney had the good fortune to receive a healthy percentage of the profits from the surprise hit, giving him financial security while he was still in his 20s.

“This is a man from very humble origins who became rich when he was very young,” said Quentin Falk, author of an unauthorized biography of Finney. “It brought him a lot of side benefits. He’s a man who likes to live as well as to act. He enjoys his fine wine and cigars. He’s his own man. I find that rather admirable.”

The actor maintained a healthy skepticism about the British establishment and turned down a knighthood when it was offered, declining to become Sir Albert.

“Maybe people in America think being a ‘Sir’ is a big deal,” he said. “But I think we should all be misters together. I think the ‘Sir’ thing slightly perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery.”

He told The Associated Press in 2000 that he would rather be a “mister” than a “Sir.”

Instead of cashing in by taking lucrative film roles after “Tom Jones,” Finney took a long sabbatical, traveling slowly through the United States, Mexico and the Pacific islands, then returned to the London stage to act in Shakespeare productions and other plays. He won wide acclaim before returning to film in 1967 to co-star with Audrey Hepburn in “Two for the Road.”

This was to be a familiar pattern, with Finney alternating between film work and stage productions in London and New York.

Finney tackled Charles Dickens in “Scrooge” in 1970, then played Agatha Christie’s sophisticated sleuth Hercule Poirot in “Murder on the Orient Express” — earning his second Best Actor nomination— and even played a werewolf hunter in the cult film “Wolfen” in 1981.

In 1983, he was reunited with his peer from the “angry young man” movement, Tom Courtenay, in “The Dresser,” a film that garnered both Academy Award nominations.

Finney was nominated again for his role as a self-destructive alcoholic in director John Huston’s 1984 film “Under the Volcano.”

Even during this extraordinary run of great roles, Finney’s life was not chronicled in People or other magazines, although the British press was fascinated with his marriage to the sultry French film star Anouk Aimee.

He played in a series of smaller, independent films for a number of years before returning to prominence in 2000 as a southern lawyer in the film “Erin Brockovich,” which starred Julia Roberts. The film helped introduce Finney to a new generation of moviegoers, and the chemistry between the aging lawyer and his young, aggressive assistant earned him yet another Oscar nomination, this time for Best Supporting Actor.

His work also helped propel Roberts to her first Best Actress Oscar. Still, Finney declined to attend the Academy Awards ceremony — possibly damaging his chances at future wins by snubbing Hollywood’s elite.

Finney also tried his hand at directing and producing and played a vital role in sustaining British theater.

The Old Vic theater said his “performances in plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov and other iconic playwrights throughout the ’60s, ‘70s and ’80s stand apart as some of the greatest in our 200-year history.”

Finney is survived by his third wife, Pene Delmage, son Simon and two grandchildren. Funeral arrangements weren’t immediately known.


by MediaExpert

Green Roofs Benefit People, Environment

Excess rainwater flowing into streams and waterways — carrying pollutants and contaminants — is a problem for urban areas across the country. To combat it, an increasing number of cities across the U.S. are initiating programs like rooftop gardens to help absorb the rain, and in some cases also grow food. VOA’s Julie Taboh takes us to a rooftop garden in Washington, a city with one of greatest numbers of green roofs.

by MediaExpert

Bezos: Enquirer Threatening to Publish Revealing Photos

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says the National Enquirer is threatening to publish revealing photographs of him unless his private investigators back off the tabloid.

Bezos detailed the revelations in a Thursday post on Medium.com. He accuses the Enquirer of “extortion and blackmail.”

The National Enquirer published a story last month that included lurid texts between Bezos and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez. Since then, private investigators have been looking into how the Enquirer got the texts.

Bezos says the Enquirer’s parent company tried to get him to agree to a deal for the tabloid not to publish the explicit photos.

As part of the deal, Bezos would have to release a public statement that he has “no knowledge or basis” to suggest the tabloid’s reporting was politically motivated.