Day: November 13, 2019

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Beijing running 500 concentration camps?


Uighur activists said Tuesday they have documented nearly 500 camps and prisons run by China to detain members of the ethnic group, alleging that Beijing could be holding far more than the commonly cited figure of one million people.

The East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, a Washington-based group that seeks independence for the mostly Muslim region known to China as Xinjiang, gave the geographic coordinates of 182 suspected “concentration camps” where Uighurs are allegedly pressured to renounce their culture.

Researching imagery from Google Earth, the group said it also spotted 209 suspected prisons and 74 suspected labor camps for which it would share details later.

“In large part these have not been previously identified, so we could be talking about far greater numbers” of people detained, said Kyle Olbert, the director of operations for the movement.

“If anything, we are concerned that there may be more facilities that we have not been able to identify,” he told a news conference in suburban Washington.

Anders Corr, an analyst who formerly worked in US intelligence and who advised the group, said that around 40 percent of the sites had not been previously reported.

Rights advocates have generally estimated that China is detaining more than one million Uighurs and members of other predominantly Muslim Turkic ethnicities.

But Randall Schriver, the top Pentagon official for Asia, said in May that the figure was “likely closer to three million citizens” — an extraordinary number in a region of some 20 million people.

Olbert said that archive imagery from alleged camp sites showed consistent patterns — steel and concrete construction over the past four years along with security perimeters.

He said that the group tried to verify the nature of each site with on-the-ground accounts but declined to give greater detail, citing the need to protect sources.

– ‘Like boiling a frog’ –

Activists and witnesses say China is using torture to forcibly integrate Uighurs into the Han majority, including pressuring Muslims to give up tenets of their faith such as praying and abstaining from pork and alcohol.

Olbert described China’s policy as “genocide by incarceration,” fearing that Uighurs would be held indefinitely.

“It’s like boiling a frog. If they were to kill 10,000 people a day, the world might take notice,” he said.

“But if they were just to keep everyone imprisoned and let them die off naturally, perhaps the world might not notice. I think that’s what China is banking on,” he said.

China has justified its policy after first denying the camps, saying that it is providing vocational training and coaxing Muslims away from extremism. Hundreds died in 2009 riots in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi that largely targeted Han Chinese.

The United States has likened China’s treatment of Uighurs to Nazi Germany’s concentration camps, but an increasingly strong Beijing has faced limited criticism outside the West.

China last month secured a statement at the United Nations by nations including Russia, Pakistan and Egypt — which have all faced criticism of their own records — that praised Beijing’s “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.”

The Uighur activist group said it periodically added data including on the destruction of cemeteries in Xinjiang, which was documented in an investigation last month by AFP using satellite imagery.

The movement said it had unsuccessfully asked the State Department for satellite data in hopes of improving its information sources.

US lawmakers have also spoken out increasingly on Xinjiang.

In a recent letter, Representative Jim McGovern and Senator Marco Rubio, who head the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, urged customs authorities to take “aggressive action” to ban imports of goods from Xinjiang made with forced labor.



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DISNEY+ surpasses 10 million sign-ups in 1 day…


(L-R) Julia Lester, Matt Cornett, Lisa Simpson, Yvette Nicole Brown, Bart Simpson, Dara Renee, Marge Simpson, Maggie Simpson Frank Rodriguez, Sofia Wylie, Larry Saperstein, Olivia Rodrigo, and Homer Simpson pose for portrait at the Disney+ Official U.S. Launch Party at The Grove at The Grove on November 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Rodin Eckenroth | Getty Images

Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, has already seen 10 million sign-ups since launching Tuesday, the company announced Wednesday.

Disney’s stock was up more than 7% on the news. Netflix shares were down more than 3%.

Disney’s new streaming service launched Tuesday with some technical errors that prevented some users from connecting with the service. But that didn’t stop customers from flooding the sign-up page.

At $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year, Disney+ is significantly cheaper than competitors such as Netflix, which charges $12.99 for its most popular standard HD plan.

Disney is offering a seven-day free trial, so likely not all of the sign-ups represent customers who will continue to pay for the service. Disney did not immediately respond to a question about whether the 10 million sign-up figure included presales. Verizon is also offering its customers a free year of Disney+, which could further boost its subscriber numbers.

Even with the promotional deals, Disney+ has already achieved huge sign-up numbers while competitors such as Netflix and Hulu have taken years to build their audiences. The company has already signed up more than 10% of the high end of its forecast of 60 million to 90 million subscribers by the end of 2024. Disney+ has yet to roll out to many countries beyond the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands, which were included in Tuesday’s launch. The platform will be available in Australia and New Zealand on Nov. 19. More countries will get Disney+ in the coming months.

For comparison, it took CBS about five years to reach 8 million streaming subscribers combined for CBS All Access and Showtime. CBS said it reached its subscriber goal two years earlier than expected.

Disney-owned Hulu, which has an advertising-based streaming model, claimed more than 28 million subscribers in May. Of those subscribers, 26.8 million are monthly paying customers, while the remaining have promotional accounts. Netflix claimed more than 60 million paid domestic members in its third quarter of 2019 and more than 97 million international paid members.

In short, Disney has made a significant move against its rivals just over a day since launching, even before Disney+ becomes fully available across the globe.

WATCH: Disney officially enters the streaming wars—here’s what six experts say investors should watch



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Hunter attacked by gator tells how he was prepared to die in swampy wilderness…



Hunter attacked by gator tells how he was prepared to die in swampy wilderness...

(Third column, 7th story, link)






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Documentarian Set Out to Expose Monogamy as Sham. Then Fell in Love With Her Subject…


On its surface, the provocative documentary Talking About Adultery, which premiered in New York last week as part of the DOC NYC festival, is a condemnation of marriage. Take, for example, a sequence in which a woman wearing a neon pink apron and chimpanzee mask poses in a brightly lit kitchen, leaning over the sink or tending to a pan on the stove, as a disembodied female voice laments how much she resents being a wife and mother.

The stylized 71-minute film combines original visual art and anonymous confessional interviews with adulterers from all walks of life to illuminate the restrictive nature of monogamy. It sets out to prove that marriage says more about the way society organizes itself structurally and politically than about love or the individuals involved.

But with a few crucial words thrown in just before the credits roll, as if an afterthought, Czech filmmaker Bara Jichova Tyson dismantles this thesis. Sort of. The soundbites from interviews with over 50 people—lovers, mistresses, husbands, wives, and non-monogamists—are woven together with a loose narrative thread. Short, written notes between a couple having an affair (referred to only by the initials B and R) punctuate sections of the film.

The couple presumably met on a kind of dating site where B, the filmmaker, Jichova Tyson, was searching for subjects for her documentary. After over an hour of brutally honest, occasionally heartbreaking conversations about the struggle to keep love alive in marriage, a title card at the end reveals that B and R met through the making of the film and got married. They have a young son together. One of the final images is his sonogram.            

It’s a bittersweet conclusion. On the one hand, it is a hopeful counterpoint to the many bleak portrayals of marriage the film offers. That Jichova Tyson went into the filmmaking process with the intention of exposing marriage as an idealistic, disappointing construct, as she explained in an interview with Huck, and came out married with a baby is the ultimate rejection of her cynical theory. But then, many of the unhappily married couples she interviewed began as happily married. Her unexpected fairy-tale ending could be interpreted as a triumph of monogamous love, or as not an ending at all, but the beginning of a slow crawl towards dissatisfaction.  

Talking About Adultery successfully straddles the line of being (mostly) negative about marriage without being negative about love. In fact, many of the anonymous anecdotes about cheating are rooted in love, either the pursuit of it or the preservation of it. One interviewee, identified as No. 27, harshly confesses that he would not describe his wife as the love of his life. As the camera pans over a cluttered kitchen counter tableau of raw steaks on a baking sheet, empty wine glasses, and half-eaten jars of peanut butter, the man divulges his desire to feel the thrill of real attraction again. “Somewhat selfishly, I suppose, I want to treat myself to love,” he admits. “I want to feel romance. That’s very important to me and I won’t do it at the expense of devastating [my wife] by leaving or being reckless.”  

Another couple, Interview No. 17, provide a counterpoint. They’ve decided jointly to sleep with other people, sometimes together and sometimes separately. Theirs is the kind of comfortable love rooted in trust. “In this case,” the husband explains, “I felt, not like, ‘Wow, I want to get married my whole life.’ It’s like, ‘You know what, I trust you enough to be married to you.’” Later, when reflecting on his uncertainty that they will stay together for the rest of their lives, and whether or not that even matters, he adds, “The question about that is less about adultery and more about honesty.”  

One of the most striking takeaways from the film is the sheer multitude of factors that drive people to non-monogamous relationships and the different ways these relationships can manifest. The cinematography emphasizes this, between Jichova Tyson’s abstract collage art and lingering aerial shots of bustling crowds.

In the collage sequences, the director’s hands, sheathed in blue latex gloves, arrange black and white photos of people—couples, individuals, or groups. Some photos have the faces cut out, and she overlays these with other faces to form different pairings. The message? Non-monogamous and adulterous relationships are more common than they seem, and they can take completely different forms.

R touches on the commonality and humanness of affairs early in the film when he asks B, “May I ask, why are you making a film about adultery? It seems intriguing as an idea, but boring as a fact. Is that true?”

For a few moments, B leaves his question unanswered, allowing us to decide for ourselves.



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Daytime TV Shocker: Entire 'DAYS OF OUR LIVES' Cast Fired…


The sand appears to be leaking out of the hourglass.

TVLine has learned exclusively that the producers of Days of Our Lives have released the entire cast from their contracts, with the venerable soap set to go on an indefinite hiatus at month’s end. While the NBC sudser has not been cancelled, the unprecedented — and decidedly ominous — move comes at a precarious time for ratings-challenged Days and the vanishing soap genre as a whole. It also comes as Sony Pictures Television and NBC are in negotiations to renew series.

Reps for NBC and Sony declined to comment for this story. A Sony source, meanwhile, tells TVLine that the studio is not involved in the contract negotiations with the cast. “The actor deals are through Corday Productions,” explains the insider, referring to Days‘ production company. A spokesperson for Corday Productions, meanwhile, did not reply to TVLine’s request for a comment.

An insider cautions that because Days shoots eight months in advance, the show will have enough episodes in the can when it stops production at the end of November to last through Summer 2020. If NBC does renew Days, production is expected to resume in March. But by releasing the contracted cast members from from their commitment to the show, producers have no guarantee who — if anyone — will return.

“It’s actually a shrewd — if cynical — business move,” sniffs one insider. “If Days gets picked up, [Corday] can offer the actors new contacts at a reduced rate and with a ‘take-it-or-leave’ it attitude. Worst case scenario, they lose half their cast. Best case scenario [for Corday], everyone agrees to return at a lower salary.”

Despite the gloomy turn of events, a source tells TVLine, “All indications are that NBC would like to keep the show going.”

The news comes as Days is shaking things up on-screen. This week, the soap is fast-forwarding the narrative by one year. “This is a great way to reset things in Salem,” executive producer Ken Corday told TVInsider.com of the time jump. “It will be a catalyst for many more [changes] to follow.”



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Journalists Pursue New Kind of Expose: Uncovering Their Salaries…




a store inside of a building: Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Times headquarters.


© Bloomberg
Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Times headquarters.

(Bloomberg) — Dozens of media employees have begun sharing a spreadsheet detailing salaries at different publications, seeking to shed light on pay disparities that could help some workers get a raise.

The spreadsheet, whose creator is unknown, lists the title, company, salary, years of experience and job duties at a wide range of media organizations, including the New York Times, BuzzFeed, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Vice and Conde Nast. Journalists also can list their gender identity and ethnicity.

“Talking about how much or how little money you make feels taboo, and it shouldn’t,” said a message at the top of document, which was reviewed by Bloomberg News. Saying that the website Glassdoor doesn’t provide enough information, the spreadsheet text declares: “Knowledge is power.”

“Wouldn’t it be great to know what your peers make so you can use that to leverage a raise?” the document said. “Let’s share what we make and any relevant info to help each other out.”

A deputy editor at the New York Times makes $145,000 a year, while a staff writer at Vice makes $62,000, according to the document. An editor at CNN makes $110,000 — plus a bonus — while a staff writer in Iowa for the newspaper chain Lee Enterprises Inc. makes $33,000 a year.

A female editor at Vox Media makes $400,000 a year editing, producing, hosting podcasts and running conferences, according to the spreadsheet. The salaries couldn’t be independently confirmed.

The document is indicative of the pressures journalists face as conventional news outlets like newspapers and TV stations lose customers to online media. Some have joined unions and demanded that their employers be more transparent about salaries.

Last week, the Washington Post Newspaper Guild released the findings of its own study about pay disparities at the newspaper. It found that women were paid less than men, and employees of color were paid less than white men — even when controlling for age and job description.

A Washington Post representative called the guild’s study “seriously flawed” and said the newspaper is “committed to paying employees fairly for the work they perform, and we believe that we do so, taking into account relevant factors like position, years of experience and performance.”

(Updates with statement from Washington Post in final paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Gerry Smith in New York at gsmith233@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Journalists Pursue New Kind of Expose: Uncovering Their Salaries…




a store inside of a building: Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Times headquarters.


© Bloomberg
Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Times headquarters.

(Bloomberg) — Dozens of media employees have begun sharing a spreadsheet detailing salaries at different publications, seeking to shed light on pay disparities that could help some workers get a raise.

The spreadsheet, whose creator is unknown, lists the title, company, salary, years of experience and job duties at a wide range of media organizations, including the New York Times, BuzzFeed, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Vice and Conde Nast. Journalists also can list their gender identity and ethnicity.

“Talking about how much or how little money you make feels taboo, and it shouldn’t,” said a message at the top of document, which was reviewed by Bloomberg News. Saying that the website Glassdoor doesn’t provide enough information, the spreadsheet text declares: “Knowledge is power.”

“Wouldn’t it be great to know what your peers make so you can use that to leverage a raise?” the document said. “Let’s share what we make and any relevant info to help each other out.”

A deputy editor at the New York Times makes $145,000 a year, while a staff writer at Vice makes $62,000, according to the document. An editor at CNN makes $110,000 — plus a bonus — while a staff writer in Iowa for the newspaper chain Lee Enterprises Inc. makes $33,000 a year.

A female editor at Vox Media makes $400,000 a year editing, producing, hosting podcasts and running conferences, according to the spreadsheet. The salaries couldn’t be independently confirmed.

The document is indicative of the pressures journalists face as conventional news outlets like newspapers and TV stations lose customers to online media. Some have joined unions and demanded that their employers be more transparent about salaries.

Last week, the Washington Post Newspaper Guild released the findings of its own study about pay disparities at the newspaper. It found that women were paid less than men, and employees of color were paid less than white men — even when controlling for age and job description.

A Washington Post representative called the guild’s study “seriously flawed” and said the newspaper is “committed to paying employees fairly for the work they perform, and we believe that we do so, taking into account relevant factors like position, years of experience and performance.”

(Updates with statement from Washington Post in final paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Gerry Smith in New York at gsmith233@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Europe Mandates Labels for Jewish Products…



Europe Mandates Labels for Jewish Products...

(Third column, 6th story, link)






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Report: Puerto Rico's infrastructure failing as federal aid remains on hold…


More than two years after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island’s bridges, dams, drinking water, ports, roads and power grids are at a breaking point — and the federal dollars to fix that infrastructure remains out of reach.

So says the American Society of Civil Engineers in a report released Tuesday that assigned the island’s infrastructure an overall grade of D-.

[Puerto Rico disaster aid delay could renew Democratic suspicions of Trump’s stonewalling]

The ASCE report card represents the first evaluation the organization has done of the island’s infrastructure.

The report found that the infrastructure needs on the island are huge, calculating that Puerto Rico must increase received investment by $1.23 billion to $2.3 billion annually and putting it at $13 to $23 billion over 10 years, not counting deferred maintenance and hurricane-related recovery projects.

Though the report primarily addresses the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s slow release of some $42.5 billion — it only had $15 billion as of May, according to ASCE — its themes reiterate complaints made by members of the House Appropriation Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development last month.

During that Oct. 17 hearing, lawmakers complained that HUD has held back some $19.9 billion in recovery money for Puerto Rico through the department’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Fund. It did so by refusing to post the notice that would instruct Puerto Rico on how to apply for and spend the federal dollars available to it. Because the CDBG disaster fund is not authorized, Puerto Rico does not have access to those dollars until the notice is posted.

Notices withheld

HUD released similar notices for other disaster-struck areas, but held back on Puerto Rico because of concerns about government corruption on the island, said David Woll, principal deputy assistant secretary for community planning and development at HUD, who called Puerto Rico a “very high-risk grantee” because of the large amount of money and corruption issues that have troubled the local government.

“We want to have a belts and suspenders plan in place to make sure that, A, we’re protecting taxpayers, but B — more importantly — the money is going to the people of Puerto Rico and not being wasted or abused,” he said.

[Coal-burning utility boosts lobbying, may get eased regulations]

That answer did not satisfy Rep. David E. Price, D-N.C., chairman of the subcommittee, who said that even after the notice is posted, there will be multiple opportunities to make sure the money is being spent appropriately.

Once available, the federal dollars from the CDBG disaster recovery program can be spent on projects laid out in the ASCE report, such as hardening electrical grids in order to minimize the impact of future storms.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed much of Puerto Rico’s electric grid in 2017, causing the island to experience the longest blackout in American history and the second-longest blackout in the world, according to the ASCE, which gave the island’s energy grid an “F” grade on its report card.

“We’ve seen the urgent need for this funding,” said Price. “And yet, it has been held back.”

Congress tried to force HUD to post the Puerto Rico disaster funding notice in June in the supplemental appropriations bill by requiring the secretary to do so by Sept. 4. But Sept. 4 came and went with no notice for Puerto Rico.

“The administration has a duty to faithfully execute the law,” Price said. “Why didn’t HUD follow the law, issue the Federal Register notice for mitigation funding for Puerto Rico?”

Republicans on the panel including Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida also expressed dismay that the dollars have not yet been released, saying he was “troubled” that the agency missed the statutory deadline for publishing the notice.

“What it looks like is that you don’t believe that these individuals deserve this money, that these individuals deserve access to disaster recovery dollars,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.

“That’s just not true,” said Woll, adding that the agency is “working extremely hard” to get the money to Puerto Rico.

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IDF assassinates Gaza terror leader…


TEL AVIV—Israel’s military killed a senior leader of the second-largest militant group in Gaza on Tuesday, prompting fighters in the Palestinian enclave to fire about 190 rockets into Israel that set off sirens and forced people into bomb shelters across the country.

Israel’s military said it killed Baha Abu Al-Ata, senior leader of the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in a targeted airstrike. It accused the militant commander of orchestrating numerous rocket attacks against Israel in recent months and of planning…



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