Day: October 10, 2020

Disney executive defends Mulan filming in China despite government’s human rights abuses

Disney’s president of film production, Sean Bailey, addressed the recent controversy over the studio’s live-action Mulan remake in a letter to a British politician this week. In the letter, which member of parliament Iain Duncan Smith posted online Thursday, Bailey defended the choice to film portions of Mulan in an area of China that has been the site of extensive human rights abuses.



a group of people walking down a dirt road: Jasin Boland/Disney


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Jasin Boland/Disney

After Mulan debuted on Disney+ last month, controversy arose when viewers noticed the end credits included “special thanks” to several government entities in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China. The region has been the site of what experts have called a “cultural genocide,” with the Chinese government detaining and torturing Uighur Muslims in mass “re-education” camps.

Some of the entities thanked in Mulan‘s credits have been directly linked to this campaign, including the Turpan Bureau of Public Security, which was sanctioned by the U.S. Commerce Department last year. The news raised questions from U.S. lawmakers and other observers about the degree to which Disney cooperated with the Chinese government. Duncan Smith, a prominent politician of the British Conservative Party and co-chair of the U.K.’s Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, sent a letter to Bailey inquiring about the film.

In his reply, dated Oct. 7, Bailey noted that the footage filmed in China, which consisted entirely of landscape shots, “comprises 78 seconds” of the 115-minute film, and was shot “over a brief four-day period — compared to 143 days of filming in New Zealand.”

“Although Mulan was filmed almost entirely in New Zealand, in order to accurately depict the unique geography and landscape of China for this period drama, the producers chose to film some scenery in 20 locations throughout the country, including the Kumtag Desert in Xinjiang Province, home to an important passageway along the historic Silk Road,” Bailey wrote. “The decision to film in each of these locations was made by the film’s producers in the interest of authenticity, and was in no way dictated or influenced by state or local Chinese officials.”



a group of people in costumes: In a letter, a Disney executive defended the decision to film portions of 'Mulan' in China despite the government's reported human rights violations.


© Jasin Boland/Disney
In a letter, a Disney executive defended the decision to film portions of ‘Mulan’ in China despite the government’s reported human rights violations.

He added that the studio was required to cooperate with the government in order to film in China, writing, “There are regulations that must be followed by all foreign film production companies wanting to operate in China. These companies are not allowed to operate independently and must partner with a Chinese production company which is responsible for securing all film permits.” The thanks in the credits were simply standard industry practice, he continued, saying the production company provided a list of entities to thank for granting permission

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Nebraska Humane Society goes the distance to connect people and pets | Local News

While the animals are listed online, Wiese said, the humane society wanted to give people a more personal connection with the animals they might adopt. 

“It’s hard to get a feel for a dog with a photo,” she said. 

Greg Sims, president and CEO of FIDO Friendly, said the magazine decided to make an extra stop this year in Omaha on their way back west from Chicago. Although the magazine originally planned 11 stops, all but a handful of shelters cancelled their events. 



Adoption Event

Omaha residents visit the Nebraska Humane Society’s adoption event held Sunday to meet potential new pets. 




“This year is just different,” he said, “everything is more challenging.” 

Those challenges haven’t stopped the tour, Sims said, and they continue to work for the welfare of animals. He said over the years, the magazine has helped to place over 15,000 animals in permanent homes. 

Laurie Zagurski, a volunteer for the shelter, said the event gave people a chance to meet more animals than they normally might if they visited. Pets and their volunteer handlers were spread across a green space behind the shelter, allowing for social distancing and separating the pets by category. It’s important to find the right fit in a home for shelter pets, and they often require extra patience.

But Zagurski she said the process is incredibly rewarding. 

“There is no love like the love you get from a shelter pet,” she said. 

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Judge throws out Trump campaign’s Pennsylvania lawsuit

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We’ve heard a lot about voter suppression as we approach Election Day. So what is it and how does it manifest itself? The Associated Press explains. (Oct. 5)

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Saturday threw out a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump’s campaign, dismissing its challenges to the battleground state’s poll-watching law and its efforts to limit how mail-in ballots can be collected and which of them can be counted.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan — who was appointed by Trump — in Pittsburgh also poured cold water on Trump’s claims that election fraud.

Trump’s campaign said it would appeal at least one element of the decision, with barely three weeks to go until Election Day in a state hotly contested by Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The lawsuit was opposed by the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, the state Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP’s Pennsylvania office and other allied groups.

“The ruling is a complete rejection of the continued misinformation about voter fraud and corruption, and those who seek to sow chaos and discord ahead of the upcoming election,” Wolf’s office said in a statement.

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The state’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, a Democrat whose office fought the Trump campaign’s claims, called the lawsuit a political stunt designed to sow doubt in the state’s election.

“We told the Trump campaign and the president, ‘put up or shut up’ to his claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro told The Associated Press. “It’s important to note they didn’t even need to prove actual voter fraud, just that it was likely or impending, and they couldn’t even do that.”

Trump’s campaign said in a statement that it looked forward to a quick decision from the appeals court “that will further protect Pennsylvania voters from the Democrats’ radical voting system.”

The lawsuit is one of many partisan battles being fought in the state Legislature and the courts, primarily over mail-in voting in Pennsylvania, amid concerns that a presidential election result will hang in limbo for days on a drawn-out vote count in Pennsylvania.

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In this case, Trump’s campaign wanted the court to bar counties from using drop boxes or mobile sites to collect mail-in ballots that are not “staffed, secured, and employed consistently within and across all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties.” Trump’s campaign said it would appeal the matter of drop boxes.

More than 20 counties — including Philadelphia and most other heavily populated Democratic-leaning counties — have told the state elections office that they plan to use drop boxes and satellite election offices to help collect the massive number of mail-in ballots they expect to receive.

Trump’s campaign also wanted the court to free county election officials to disqualify

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RHOD ‘s Brandi Redmond Says 9-Year-Old Daughter Survived Car Accident That Killed Her Mother-in-Law

Brandi Redmond is asking fans to keep her family in their prayers.

On Saturday, Oct. 10, The Real Housewives of Dallas star took to Instagram and shared that her mother-in-law, Jill Marie Redmond, died in a car accident. She also noted that her 9-year-old daughter Brinkley, who was in the vehicle at the time of the incident, survived.

“My husband’s beautiful mom has gone on to be with our Savior and my sister in laws said it best…so I PLEASE ask that you keep my family in your prayers during this difficult time,” she wrote, “and I ask that you lift my sweet Brinkley up as she continues to heal and that God protects her heart and eyes from this tragedy. I am so thankful for her life. This is probably the most thankful yet pain I’ve ever felt.”

The Bravolebrity did not share any further details regarding the accident or if the child suffered any specific injuries.

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In addition to publishing her own note, Brandi reposted a message from her sister-in-laws Lauren Cranford, Megan Hughey and Kristen Kosch.

“This is our mom, Jill Marie Redmond,” the post, which featured a series of photographs, read. “We spoke to her daily. To speak of her in past tense hurts beyond words. Hours ago we lost her in a tragic car accident. Thank you, Jesus, for saving our niece who was in the car with her.”

The women then went on to describe their mother. “To know our mom was to love her,” they continued. “She was a shining light to all who were lucky enough to know her. She loved so fiercely. She felt so deeply. And she loved Jesus with all her heart. Her world was FAMILY. She loved her 4 children and many grand babies to the depths of her soul, and she left us doing what she loved most- caring for her grand babies. We are in shock and are experiencing an indescribable pain.”

Cranford, Hughey and Kosch, who host the podcast Girl, I Slept in My Makeup, then informed their followers they were going to pause their show and thanked them for their support.

“In our mom’s honor, if you have a living parent please tell them how much you love and appreciate them, and hug your loved ones extra tight tonight and always,” they concluded. “We love you. Shine bright and spread love and kindness.”

News of the accident came a week after Brinkley celebrated her ninth birthday. Brandi—who is also the mother to Brooklyn, 11, and Bruin, 2—marked the milestone with a heartfelt message. “Happy 9th Birthday @brinkley__redmond,” Brandi wrote at the time. “You are my sunshine. I love you so so so much and can’t believe 9 years have already gone by. Thank you for your sweet gentle soul that loves life to the fullest. You are EVERYTHING and I am so blessed to call you my daughter.

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Prince William warns impact of climate crisis will be felt by society’s ‘most vulnerable’

The Duke of Cambridge has spoken out about the urgency of protecting the planet amid the ongoing climate crisis in a new TED talk.



Prince William, Duke of Cambridge sitting in a tree


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Filmed in the grounds of Windsor Castle, the talk forms part of Countdown, the first free and virtual TED Conference devoted entirely to environmental issues.

In the talk, Prince William stands alongside an oak tree and explains how it and many others in the grounds of Windsor Castle are thousands of years old.

“While these oaks have been growing, around 35 billion people have lived their lives on our planet,” he said.

“That’s 35 billion lifetimes worth of hope, love, fear and dreams. In that time, humankind has invented air travel, vaccines and computers. 

“We’ve explored every part of the globe, sequenced the human genome and even escaped Earth’s atmosphere. Our speed of innovation has been incredible. But so too has the acceleration of our impact.”

The prince went on to describe the science as “irrefutable” and explains how climate change will affect people differently.

“If we do not act in this decade, the damage that we have done will be irreversible and the effects felt not just by future generations, but by all of us alive today,” he said. 

“And what’s more, this damage will not be felt equally by everyone. It is the most vulnerable, those with the fewest resources, and those who have done the least to cause climate change, who will be impacted the most.”



a large tree in a grassy field: The oak tree in the grounds of Windsor Castle.Kensington Palace


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The oak tree in the grounds of Windsor Castle.Kensington Palace

The Duke goes on to reference Earthshot, the major environmental prize that he launched alongside Sir David Attenborough on Thursday.

The Earthshot Prize will see more than £50m awarded over the next decade to help applicants find solutions to the world’s more pressing environmental concerns by 2030.

Prince William is calling for “amazing people” to apply with “brilliant innovative projects”.

The prize money will be split between five winners each year up until 2030, with each of them receiving £1m.

The Earthshot Prize is centred around five “earthshots” goals for repairing the planet.

The five goals are: protect and restore nature, clean our air, revive our oceans, build a waste-free world, and fix our climate.

“If we achieve these goals, by 2030 our lives won’t be worse, and we won’t have to sacrifice everything we enjoy,” Prince William added.

“Instead, the way we live will be healthier, cleaner, smarter and better for all of us.

“I’m determined to both start and end this decade as an optimist.”

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David Attenborough and Shakira join The Earthshot Prize Council

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‘We Have Law Enforcement Watching’

At a White House rally on Saturday, President Donald Trump doubled-down on his claims of “crooked” and “fraudulent” ballots found and submitted for the upcoming presidential election, repeating that there are “tremendous problems” with mail-in voting.



a crowd of people standing in front of a building: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a rally in support of law and order on the South Lawn of the White House on October 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump invited over two thousand guests to hear him speak just a week after he was hospitalized for COVID-19.


© Samuel Corum/Getty Images/Getty
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a rally in support of law and order on the South Lawn of the White House on October 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump invited over two thousand guests to hear him speak just a week after he was hospitalized for COVID-19.

“Did you see how many crooked ballots are being found and turned back in and fraudulent? Just what I said,” the president said during his 20-minute speech. “Then they’ll say, ‘He doesn’t believe in freedom.’ I totally believe in freedom…what we’re doing is freedom.”

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He cited the nearly 50,000 voters who received incorrect absentee ballots this week in Franklin County—home to Ohio’s capital and largest city—accounting for almost 21% of the ballots sent out in the county. Franklin County residents reported misprinted information on the ballot, including for a congressional race.

The county’s Board of Elections released a statement on Friday stating that all replacement ballots will be sent out and received within 72 hours and that every voter will be allotted only one ballot while sorting systems will not accept replacement ballots submitted by any individual who voted in-person.

“We want to make it clear that every voter who received an inaccurate ballot will receive a corrected ballot,” the statement reads. “Stringent tracking measures are in place to guarantee that a voter can only cast one vote.”

The Franklin County error was one of several isolated incidents tweeted out by Trump this week to back his claims that mail-in voting is filled with fraud. He also pointed to a New Jersey postal employee accused of dumping 99 ballots—which were placed back in the mail stream for delivery—and a Texas mayoral candidate arrested by the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, for forging at least 84 voter registration applications.

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Trump proceeded to falsely state that “every day” there’s a story about fraudulent ballots.

Although cases of voting fraud remain extremely rare, the president has utilized his social media and campaigning platform to hone in on isolated errors in the voting system and amplify false and unfounded claims that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud.

“Some thrown out, they happen to have the name Trump,” he said during the rally, referring to a small number of military ballots that were allegedly “discarded” in Pennsylvania last month.

In a statement on September 24, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, David Freed, announced that his office and the FBI were investigating this incident, which occurred in Luzerne County. Freed said that the nine recovered military ballots were found in an outside dumpster, “improperly opened” by the election staff and “discarded.”

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Trump returns to public events with ‘law and order’ speech at White House

Defiant in the face of slipping opinion polls, and determined to justify his implausible claim of a swift and full recovery from his encounter with Covid-19, Donald Trump returned to public events on Saturday with a brief “law and order” speech from a White House balcony.



a man standing next to a clock: Photograph: REX/Shutterstock


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Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

In a closely-watched first public appearance at a live event just six days after he left Walter Reed medical center following a three-night stay, the president delivered an 18-minute scripted address to a crowd on the South Lawn. It had been billed as “2,000 invited guests” but in reality a gathering of about 500 mostly young flag-waving supporters, some of whom appeared to be not properly wearing masks.



Donald Trump standing in front of a building: Donald Trump removes a mask ahead of speaking from a balcony at the White House on 10 October.


© Photograph: REX/Shutterstock
Donald Trump removes a mask ahead of speaking from a balcony at the White House on 10 October.

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Trump was maskless during the speech, during which he appeared to show no lingering signs of coronavirus. But questions about the president’s health are still swirling following the refusal of doctors or aides to reveal when he last tested negative for coronavirus.

Today’s lunchtime in-person event also appeared to counter his government’s own health guidelines over large gatherings and social distancing as the attendees clustered together tightly in front of the balcony and cheered loudly at his remarks.

The campaign-style rally came after another tumultuous week in which Trump lost further ground to his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, and with the 3 November general election little more than three weeks away.



a group of people posing for the camera: Supporters cheer on Donald Trump during his White House event on 10 October. Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters


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Supporters cheer on Donald Trump during his White House event on 10 October. Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters

Video: White House spokesman sidesteps question on Trump’s last negative coronavirus test (The Washington Post)

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He explored several familiar themes in his speech, attacking Democrats for an agenda he said was “beyond socialism” and promising again that the battle against Covid-19, which has claimed more than 210,000 American lives, was being won.

He also touted, with little evidence, “the fastest economic recovery in history”, and heaped praise on Black and Hispanic voters in an apparent attempt to shore up support from demographic groups that polls suggest he has been making inroads with recently.

“We’re starting very, very big with our rallies and with our everything because we cannot allow our country to become a socialist nation,” he said.

As for coronavirus: “It’s going to disappear, it is disappearing,” he added, pledging that a vaccine was coming in “record time”, and contradicting growing evidence of a new autumn surge of the virus in many states. Twice he referred to Covid-19 as “the China virus”, resurrecting a racist theming of a pandemic that has affected almost every country in the world.

Trump also praised law enforcement, and repeated again his unfounded assertions of “crooked ballots and a rigged election”.

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Michigan’s history of self-styled militia groups has long vexed law enforcement

According to court papers, Null was part of a group that called itself the Wolverine Watchmen, and they engaged in regular firearms training and discussed a variety of potential attacks on law enforcement, the state capital complex, and the governor.

Leaf — who knew Null to be the founder of a different group called the Michigan Liberty Militia — said he was generally supportive of self-styled militias, which he said often grow in numbers when people feel their rights are threatened. He sought to distinguish what such groups do from the allegations against Null and the others.

“There’s your militia duties, and if they did what they’re accused of doing, those are not militia duties,” said the sheriff, adding he was shocked by the charges. “I did not see this coming. Had I caught wind they were even talking about this, I would have stopped it immediately.”

Leaf said he occasionally ran into Null at Second Amendment rallies in the state, and was introduced to his brother, Michael, who was also charged Thursday. The sheriff said William Null “seemed to be a very concerned, straight-shooting guy.” During the Flint water crisis, Leaf said Null told him he drove to Flint to pass out water bottles alongside those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. He said Null’s group also met with Black Lives Matter supporters at a Grand Rapids protest and “were chasing out the agitators so they could have a peaceful protest.”

Since the arrests, Leaf has faced criticism not just for his past public support of Null and his compatriots but also for his suggestion, first made in an interview with a local Fox reporter, that the defendants might have been trying to make a citizen’s arrest of the governor.

“The point is that, were they going to arrest her, which they legally can, they can legally make a felony arrest . . . It was just trying to make a point of why we cannot jump to conclusions,” he said, adding later, “If there was ever a regret, that would be the statement, because it does not communicate well.”

Michigan’s history of groups like the Wolverine Watchmen has long vexed law enforcement officials.

In the more than two decades that Andrew Arena worked as an FBI agent in Michigan before retiring from the Bureau in 2012, “the 64 million dollar question,” he said, “was always: Why Michigan?

“We had representatives of every known right-wing, white supremacist, anti-government group out there. And why Michigan, we just could never tell,” said Arena, who now teaches at Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School. “But obviously you got to deal with it.”

Michigan was one of the early strongholds of what was called “the militia movement,” which arose in the 1990s, and has typically manifested as paramilitary groups — often with no more than 10 or 12 members — that oppose the U.S. government, and believe it is actively involved in a conspiracy to seize Americans’ guns and enslave

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Joe Brolly: Society has been infected by Social Media Tourettes and the GAA is no exception

The Reverend Travis Clarke, Catholic parish priest of the Pearl Saint Peter & Saint Paul diocese in Louisiana, was arrested last week on obscenity charges. Bored by lockdown, his empty schedule allowing his head to be filled with unclean temptation, the poor man finally succumbed and as you do, organised an orgy on the church altar with his two communion servers. I have to say I’ve never been a fan of orgies. One never knows who to thank at the end of the night.

ast Wednesday, after the arrest, the Archbishop of New Orleans travelled to the church with his resident exorcist (I kid you not) and they performed a lengthy ritual (behind closed doors) that was said to have “purified God’s altar and restored the sanctity of his holy church.”

Rev Clarke, who has been summarily suspended, must be sorely regretting videoing the whole thing on his phone, which according to the local police chief he had “set up on a tripod to get the best possible angles, which will be a great help to the prosecution team.” As a friend of mine from Dungiven commented, “Let he who has not organised an orgy on the church altar with his communion servers throw the first stone.”

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Lawyers claim knife attack at law firm was inspired by Priti Patel’s rhetoric

Britain’s top lawyers have written to Priti Patel to express their concern after a knifeman threatened to kill an immigration solicitor last month in an attack colleagues say was directly motivated by comments made by the home secretary.



Priti Patel smiling for the camera: Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters


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Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters

On 7 September a man with a large knife entered a London law firm and launched a “violent, racist attack” that injured a staff member before the assailant was overwhelmed.

A confederate flag and far-right literature were allegedly found in a bag he was carrying. According to documents about the incident, police described the knife as a “weapon designed to cause serious harm”.

Days before, on 3 September, Patel dismayed the legal profession by claiming “activist lawyers” were frustrating the removal of migrants.

It was Patel’s remarks which the law firm – not being named for security reasons – believe inspired the incident. “Responsibility and accountability for this attack, in the eyes of this firm, lies squarely at the feet of Priti Patel,” say documents containing witness statements and details of the attack.

The day after the incident, the firm wrote to the Law Society asking it to raise the issue with Patel, government lawyers, the lord chancellor and the Ministry of Justice to “ensure that public attacks on the legal profession are prevented from this point forth”.

The letter said: “It must be ensured that no further lives are endangered as a result of her untruthful and deliberately inflammatory rhetoric. Put simply, this must stop now, before innocent lives are taken and other irreparable damage is done to those who work in this field.”

It added: “This must involve all previous statements made by Priti Patel being publicly retracted, and an apology or acknowledgment that such action to date has been inappropriate. Urgent reassurance is required from the government that this will not be repeated. The position as it stands is untenable, dangerous, and cannot be allowed to persist.”

On Saturday the Law Society confirmed it sent correspondence last month on the attack to the Home Office and Ministry of Justice.

Patel appears not only to have ignored its concerns but doubled down on her attacks against immigration lawyers.

Last Sunday, almost a month after the knife attack, Patel used her speech at the Conservative party conference to target “do-gooders” and “lefty lawyers,” claiming those who represented asylum seekers were “defending the indefensible”.

Two days later, in his keynote speech, Boris Johnson went even further, claiming the entire criminal justice system was “being hamstrung by lefty human rights lawyers”. It remains unclear to what extent, if any, the PM was aware of the knife attack.



Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: Boris Johnson has claimed the criminal justice system was ‘being hamstrung by lefty human rights lawyers’. Photograph: Reuters


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Boris Johnson has claimed the criminal justice system was ‘being hamstrung by lefty human rights lawyers’. Photograph: Reuters

Last night the body representing the legal profession reminded the government that inflammatory rhetoric had consequences. The Law Society revealed it had heard from other law firms which had received increased “levels of abuse, threats

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