Microsoft won a nearly $22 billion contract to supply U.S. Army combat troops with its augmented reality headsets.
Microsoft and the Army separately announced the deal Wednesday.
The technology is based on Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets, which were originally intended for the video game and entertainment industries.
Pentagon officials have described the futuristic technology — which the Army calls its Integrated Visual Augmentation System — as a way of boosting soldiers’ awareness of their surroundings and their ability to spot targets and dangers.
Microsoft’s head-mounted HoloLens displays let people see virtual imagery superimposed over the physical world in front of them — anything from holograms in virtual game worlds to repair instructions floating over a broken gadget. Users can control what they see using hand gestures or voice commands.
The Army’s website says soldiers tested the gadgets last year at Fort Pickett in Virginia. It said the system could help troops gain an advantage “on battlefields that are increasingly urban, congested, dark and unpredictable.”
The Army first began testing Microsoft’s system with a $480 million contract in 2018 and said the headsets could be used for both training and in actual battle. The new contract will enable Microsoft to mass produce units for more than 120,000 soldiers in the Army’s Close Combat Lethality Task Force. Microsoft said the contract will amount to up to $21.88 billion over the next decade, with a five-year base agreement that can be extended for another five years.
Microsoft President Brad Smith told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February that the system could integrate thermal night vision and facial recognition to provide soldiers with “real-time analytics” on remote battlefields. He also described how it could help in planning a hostage rescue operation by creating a “digital twin” of the building.
A group of Microsoft workers in 2019 petitioned the company to cancel its initial Army deal, arguing it would turn real-world battlefields into a video game.
Microsoft is among several tech companies that have sought to wow the gaming world with glitzy new virtual reality goggles over the past decade, though the efforts have largely fizzled. Microsoft pivoted away from consumer applications for its second-generation HoloLens 2, introduced in 2019, which is the basis for the Army’s new gadgets.
Although Microsoft recently demonstrated a way to use the goggles to play the hit game Pokemon Go, it mostly pitches the devices as work tools to help surgeons, factory crews and others.
The headset deal is part of Microsoft’s broader work as a defense contractor. The Pentagon in September reaffirmed Microsoft as winner of a cloud computing contract potentially worth $10 billion, although the work has been delayed by a legal battle over rival Amazon’s claim that the bidding process was flawed.
Microsoft won a nearly $22 billion contract to supply U.S. Army combat troops with its augmented reality headsets.
A Kenyan music producer is taking his work to remote villages to record up-and-coming artists on location to offer something new and different for Kenya’s competitive music industry.Producer Presta George imagined how difficult it must be for village artists to get their songs on the radio, let alone become famous.And that’s where George found his calling – in the southwest town of Awendo.But the town of 16,000 people is not where he does most of his recordings.”I though it wise to bring these studios to the local people, so that at least they can compete, or they can sell their products,” George said.Every weekend George packs all the equipment he needs to record complete albums on location and in remote areas and hits the road.The country roads are inaccessible by car so, he travels by motorcycle – balancing instruments, a laptop, and recording equipment. From soloists to church choirs, this traveling producer’s goal is to find music that otherwise wouldn’t get distributed.In the remote village of Ko’molo Rume, George records the choir of the Obama Seventh-Day Adventist Church, named after the U.S. President Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya.Choir leader Hockey Otieno says George helped them record four albums, which would not have been possible otherwise in their village of less than 1,000 people. “This opportunity where we can get a studio where we are will make us air out the good talents that we have, which could not be heard at all,” Otieno said. Making his clients’ dreams a reality can come at a cost for George as many village artists cannot afford to pay for production.But George says it is worth the risk to discover up-and-coming talent that would otherwise get missed by Nairobi’s big production houses.Jackson Rakama, known by his stage name “Jegede,” is a Nairobi recording artist and music producer.”If you want to be successful in the music business, you have to move to Nairobi…unfortunately. So, the idea of moving studio is a very brilliant idea,” Rakama said. “You take the studio to the people so that they can get that quality. We should do more of that so that we can empower the local artists so that they can get access to the, you know, quality audios.”Kenya’s music industry insiders say success comes down to technology and the popularity of artists.George says he’s confident his travelling studio can get ahead of the competition.
The United States is becoming an increasingly diverse country. With whites expected to account for less than 50-percent of the population by 2045, there’s a push to make books for children as diverse as the nation itself. As VOA’s Dora Mekouar reports, experts say the success level of future American adults could be at stake.Camera: Griffin Harrington
Producer: Marcus Harton
Elon Musk’s SpaceX suffered another setback Tuesday when one of its experimental rockets malfunctioned during a test flight at the company’s Texas facility.
The incident occurred as the Starship SN11 prototype was attempting to land after what the company called a normal ascent to roughly 12 kilometers in altitude.
Heavy fog obscured observers from seeing exactly what happened, but an explosion seems most likely, as there were reports of fire and debris.
“At least the crater is in the right place!” Musk tweeted.
This is the third time the experimental rocket has crash-landed or exploded.
John Insprucker, a SpaceX engineer, said all was going well when data feeds and the on-board cameras stopped working as the vehicle entered a thick layer of fog while trying to land.
The company said it will provide more information as it gets it but added it does not expect to be able to recover video footage.
Starship SN11 is the vehicle Musk hopes will carry the first humans to Mars.
The company wants to send it into orbit by the end of the year. NASA has also awarded SpaceX a $135 million contract to potentially use the Starship SN11 to take astronauts to the moon.
Four Republican U.S. lawmakers requested on Tuesday that Facebook Inc., Twitter, and Alphabet Inc.’s Google turn over any studies they have done on how their services affect children’s mental health.The request follows a joint hearing last week of two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees at which the companies’ chief executives discussed their content moderation practices in the wake of the siege on the Capitol in January.Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the committee’s ranking Republican, asked the CEOs at the hearing whether their companies had conducted internal research concerning children’s mental health.Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said he believed the company had, while Twitter’s Jack Dorsey said he did not believe so. Google’s Sundar Pichai said the company consulted with outside experts and invested “a lot of time and effort in these areas.”In letters to the companies on Tuesday, McMorris Rodgers asked for copies of any relevant research or internal communications, as well as information on any contractors and partners involved. They also requested any research the companies had done about how competitors’ products affect mental wellness of people under 18 years old.The requests also cover Google’s YouTube Kids service and Facebook’s Instagram, which is developing a version for people under 13 years old.The other lawmakers who signed the letter were ranking Republicans on various subcommittees, including Robert Latta, Gus Bilirakis and Morgan Griffith.They asked for the companies to respond by April 16.
Athletes competing in the U.S. Olympic trials can protest, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said Tuesday, including kneeling or raising a clenched fist on the podium or at the start line during the national anthem. In a detailed document, the USOPC outlined a wide range of ways athletes can advocate for racial and social justice but drew the line at what will be unacceptable, including wearing a hat or face mask with a hate symbol or hate speech on it. In an open letter sent to Team USA athletes, USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said the organization “values the voices of athletes and believes that their right to advocate for racial and social justice as a positive force for change aligns with the fundamental values of equality that define Team USA and the Olympic and Paralympic movements.” FILE – United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland listens during a briefing with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Los Angeles 2028 organizers in Beverly Hills, Calif., Feb. 18, 2020.The USOPC made it clear that the guidelines are only meant for the U.S. Olympic trials and not the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to open on July 23. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has its own guidelines with Rule 50 prohibiting protests and demonstrations. The USOPC said guidance for the Tokyo Games will be published separately in the coming months once the IOC issues its updated policies. Current IOC rules say, “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” The relaxing of rules is an about face for the USOPC which sanctioned two athletes for protesting police brutality and racial injustice during medal presentations at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima. Fencer Race Imboden knelt during the national anthem while hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist. The USOPC later placed both athletes on 12-month probations. Under new guidelines, these demonstrations will be acceptable. Athletes will also be allowed to wear a hat or mask with messages such as “Black Lives Matter” or “equality” or “justice” and use their voices outside trials venues in other forums such as social media and the press.
After canceling plans for undersea cables connecting the United States with Hong Kong because of U.S. government pressure, Facebook and Google now say they will run similar cables to Singapore and Indonesia.
“Named Echo and Bifrost, those will be the first two cables to go through a new diverse route crossing the Java Sea, and they will increase overall subsea capacity in the trans-Pacific by about 70%,” Facebook’s vice president of network investments, Kevin Salvadori, told the Reuters news agency.
Salvadori would not comment on the cost of the project.
He said the Echo cable, which is being built in partnership with Google and Indonesian telecommunications company XL, would be completed by 2023.
Bifrost, which is being done in partnership with Telin, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s Telkom, and Singapore’s Keppel Corporation, should be completed by 2024, he said.
Both projects will need regulatory approval.
Most Indonesians who have internet access get it via mobile phones, Reuters reported, adding that only 10% have broadband access. Many have no access at all.
Facebook said plans for the cable to Hong Kong were scrapped because the U.S. government cited national security concerns about direct communication links to Hong Kong.
Facebook and Google are involved in other cable projects around the world.
Facebook announced last May that it was going to build a 37,000-kilometer-long undersea cable around Africa.
Google’s project, the Equiano undersea cable, could connect Europe and Africa when finished.
Hindus threw colored powder and sprayed water in massive Holi celebrations Monday despite many Indian states restricting gatherings to try to contain a coronavirus resurgence rippling across the country.
Holi marks the advent of spring and is widely celebrated throughout Hindu-majority India. Most years, millions of people throw colored powder at each other in outdoor celebrations. But for the second consecutive year, people were encouraged to stay at home to avoid turning the festivities into superspreader events amid the latest virus surge.
India’s confirmed infections have exceeded 60,000 daily over the past week from a low of about 10,000 in February. On Monday, the health ministry reported 68,020 new cases, the sharpest daily rise since October last year. It took the nationwide tally to more than 12 million.
Daily deaths rose by 291 and the virus has so far killed 161,843 people in the country.
The latest surge is centered in the western state of Maharashtra where authorities have tightened travel restrictions and imposed night curfews. It is considering a strict lockdown.
Cases are also rising in the capital New Delhi and states of Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.
The surge coincides with multi-stage state elections marked by large gatherings and roadshows, and the Kumbh Mela, or pitcher festival, celebrated in northern Haridwar city, where tens of thousands of Hindu devotees daily take a holy dip into the Ganges river.
Health experts worry that unchecked gatherings can lead to clusters, adding the situation can be controlled if vaccination is opened up for more people and COVID-19 protocols are strictly followed.
India, with a population of more than 1.3 billion, has vaccinated around 60 million people, of which only 9 million have received both doses of vaccine so far.
However, more than 60 million doses manufactured in India have been exported abroad, prompting widespread criticism that domestic needs should be catered to first.
The government said last week that there would be no immediate increase in exports. It said vaccines will be given to everyone over 45 starting April 1.
Eddie Murphy was inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame at the organization’s show that highlighted works by entertainers and athletes of color. After Murphy accepted his induction award Saturday night, the actor-comedian said he was “very moved” by the honor. He was presented the award by his longtime friend and “Coming 2 America” co-star Arsenio Hall. “I’ve been making movies for 40 years now … 40 years. This is the perfect thing to commemorate that and be brought into the hall of fame,” he said. “Thank you very much. I’m very moved.” Murphy went on to send a message to Hall about his famous red leather suit from his 1983 stand-up special “Delirious.” “My red suit was not that tight Arsenio,” Murphy said. “I get a lot of cracks about that red suit. When I was rocking that red suit, that [expletive] was fly.” The hall of fame induction is bestowed on an individual who is viewed as a pioneer in their respective field and whose influence shaped the “profession for generations to come.” Previous inductees include Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, Spike Lee, Ray Charles and Sidney Poitier. The most recent honorees to be inducted were Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Paris Barclay in 2014. Murphy began his career as a stand-up comic while as a teenager and eventually joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” He starred in the box office hit “48 Hours” and made his mark in a slew of films such as “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Coming to America,” “The Nutty Professor,” “Dr. Dolittle” and “Dolemite Is My Name.” His latest film “Coming 2 America” was released on Amazon this month. The awards ceremony virtually aired live on BET. It was also simulcast on CBS, MTV, VH1, MTV2, BET HER and LOGO. “Black-ish” star and comedian Anthony Anderson hosted the show for the eighth consecutive year. The late Chadwick Boseman won best actor in a motion picture for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The actor, who also starred in the blockbuster Marvel film “Black Panther,” died at 43 last year after he privately battled colon cancer. “As always, he would give all honor and glory to the most high God,” said the teary-eyed Simone Ledward Boseman, the actor’s wife, who accepted the award on his behalf. “He would thank his mom and dad. And he would give honor to his ancestors as we now honor him. Thank you, NAACP, for always giving him his flowers. He was an uncommon artist and an even more uncommon person.” Boseman spoke about how commonly Black people have been diagnosed with or died from colon cancer. She urged Black people over the age of 45 to get screened. “Don’t put it off any longer,” she said. “Please, get screened. This disease is beatable if you catch it in its early stages. So, you don’t have any time to waste, even if you don’t have any family history. If you think nothing is wrong, and younger than 45, please be proactive about your health. Know the signs. Know your body. Listen to your body.” LeBron James received the President’s Award for his public service achievements. He thanked the NAACP for recognizing his efforts beyond the basketball court. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar was recognized for his efforts through his LeBron James Family Foundation and his I PROMISE School, a co-curricular educational initiative. Last year, he launched More Than a Vote — a coalition of Black athletes and artists — that is dedicated to educating and protecting Black voters. James ventured into the entertainment realm with The SpringHill Company, which unites three companies he co-founded with Maverick Carter including athlete empowerment brand UNINTERRUPTED, film and television production company SpringHill Entertainment and The Robot Company, the brand and culture consultancy. “This award is so much more than myself,” James said. “I’m here receiving it, but this dives into everything that I’m a part of.” DJ D-Nice took home entertainer of the year in a competitive category against big names such as Regina King, Tyler Perry, Viola Davis and Trevor Noah. During the pandemic’s early stage, D-Nice created a virtual remedy for anyone dealing with the lockdown blues. He hosted Homeschool at Club Quarantine on his Instagram Live, where he spun popular tunes on the turntables at his home. An array of celebrities tuned in: Rihanna, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg popped in for a listen. “It’s been an honor to provide entertainment and inspiration during one of the darkest times we’ve experienced,” D-Nice said. Michelle Obama presented Stacey Abrams with the first Social Justice Impact award. Abrams was honored for being a political force and her voting rights work that helped turn Georgia into a swing state. Abrams paid homage to her parents for her upbringing. “They taught me and my five siblings that having nothing was not an excuse for doing nothing,” she said. “Instead, they showed us by word and deed to use our faith as a shield to protect the defenseless, to use our voices to call out injustices, and to use our education and our time to solve the problems that others turn away from.” Viola Davis took home best actress for her film and television roles in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”
Cities around the world were turning off their lights Saturday for Earth Hour, with this year’s event highlighting the link between the destruction of nature and increasing outbreaks of diseases such as COVID-19.In London, the Houses of Parliament, London Eye Ferris wheel, Shard skyscraper and neon signs of Piccadilly Circus were among the landmarks flicking the switches for one hour starting at 8:30 p.m. local time.“It’s fantastic news that Parliament once again is taking part in Earth Hour, joining landmarks across the country and the world to raise awareness of climate change,” said Lindsay Hoyle, speaker of the House of Commons.“It shows our commitment to improving sustainability … and that we’re playing our part in reducing energy consumption,” he said.In Paris, the three stages of the Eiffel Tower progressively went dark, but there were few people to watch with the whole country under a 7 p.m. COVID-19 curfew.The giant metal tower has been shut to the public since October 30 because of the pandemic.The ancient Parthenon is pictured just before the lights on the Acropolis hill shut down for Earth Hour in Athens, Greece, March 27, 2021.In Rome, the lights went out at Rome’s 2,000-year-old Colosseum, while police enforcing Italy’s coronavirus movement restrictions checked the papers of a small crowd of onlookers.Harmful human activityAsia kicked off the event after night fell with the skylines of metropolises from Singapore to Hong Kong going dark, as did landmarks including Sydney Opera House.The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Moscow’s Kremlin on Red Square also joined the annual initiative that calls for action on climate change and the environment.After Europe, Earth Hour moved west to the Americas with the Empire State Building in New York, the Obelisk of Buenos Aires and Rio’s Museum of Tomorrow among venues dimming the lights.For this year, organizers said they wanted to highlight the link between the destruction of the natural world and the increasing incidence of diseases, such as COVID-19, making the leap from animals to humans.Experts believe human activity such as widespread deforestation, destruction of animals’ habitats and climate change are spurring this increase and warn that more pandemics could occur if nothing is done.A view of the Kronborg Castle before the lights are switched off for Earth Hour, in Elsinore, Denmark, March 27, 2021.”Whether it is a decline in pollinators, fewer fish in the ocean and rivers, disappearing forests or the wider loss of biodiversity, the evidence is mounting that nature is in free fall,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of the WWF, which organizes Earth Hour.”And this is because of the way we live our lives and run our economies. Protecting nature is our moral responsibility, but losing it also increases our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerates climate change and threatens our food security,” he added.’Impact on environment’Earth Hour is about “more than just saving energy, it’s more like remembering our impact on the environment,” Ian Tan, 18, told AFP in Singapore.But he was not convinced the event, which has been running since 2007, made much of a difference.”One hour is not enough for us to remember that climate change is actually a problem,” he said.In Hong Kong, people at viewing points above the city watched as lights were dimmed on hordes of closely packed skyscrapers, while in the South Korean capital, Seoul, the historic Namdaemun gate went dark.In Thailand, Bangkok’s ultra-popular CentralWorld mall counted down to 8:30 p.m. before its exterior glass displays went dark for an hour. But inside, shopping appeared to continue as usual.
Facebook hired fact-checkers, Twitter labeled tweets and Google took down videos, but for tech companies, disinformation is the problem that won’t go away. The social media giants face intensifying pressure to curtail disinformation as lawmakers in the US talk about new regulations. Tina Trinh reports.
Producer: Matt Dibble
Beverly Cleary, the celebrated children’s author whose memories of her Oregon childhood were shared with millions through the likes of Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins, has died. She was 104.Cleary’s publisher HarperCollins announced Friday that the author died Thursday in Northern California, where she had lived since the 1960s. No cause of death was given.FILE – In this photo taken Nov. 12, 2003, President George Bush, center, stands in the Oval Office with recipients of the National Medal of Arts. From left: musician Buddy Guy, dancer Suzanne Farrell, author Beverly Cleary and actor Ron Howard.Trained as a librarian, Cleary didn’t start writing books until her early 30s when she wrote Henry Huggins, published in 1950. Children worldwide came to love the adventures of Huggins and neighbors Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby and her younger sister, Ramona. They inhabit a down-home, wholesome setting on Klickitat Street — a real street in Portland, Oregon, the city where Cleary spent much of her youth.Among the Henry titles were Henry and Ribsy, Henry and the Paper Route and Henry and Beezus.Ramona, perhaps her best-known character, made her debut in Henry Huggins with only a brief mention.”All the children appeared to be only children so I tossed in a little sister and she didn’t go away. She kept appearing in every book,” she said in a March 2016 telephone interview from her California home.Cleary herself was an only child and said the character wasn’t a mirror.”I was a well-behaved little girl, not that I wanted to be,” she said. “At the age of Ramona, in those days, children played outside. We played hopscotch and jump rope and I loved them and always had scraped knees.”In all, there were eight books on Ramona between Beezus and Ramona in 1955 and Ramona’s World in 1999. Others included Ramona the Pest and Ramona and Her Father. In 1981, Ramona and Her Mother won the National Book Award.Cleary wasn’t writing recently because she said she felt “it’s important for writers to know when to quit.””I even got rid of my typewriter. It was a nice one but I hate to type. When I started writing I found that I was thinking more about my typing than what I was going to say, so I wrote it long hand,” she said in March 2016.Although she put away her pen, Cleary re-released three of her most cherished books with three famous fans writing forewords for the new editions.Actress Amy Poehler penned the front section of Ramona Quimby, Age 8; author Kate DiCamillo wrote the opening for The Mouse and the Motorcycle; and author Judy Blume wrote the foreword for Henry Huggins.Cleary, a self-described “fuddy-duddy,” said there was a simple reason she began writing children’s books.”As a librarian, children were always asking for books about `kids like us.’ Well, there weren’t any books about kids like them. So when I sat down to write, I found myself writing about the sort of children I had grown up with,” Cleary said in a 1993 Associated Press interview.Dear Mr. Henshaw, the touching story of a lonely boy who corresponds with a children’s book author, won the 1984 John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. It “came about because two different boys from different parts of the country asked me to write a book about a boy whose parents were divorced,” she told National Public Radio as she neared her 90th birthday.Ramona and Her Father in 1978 and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1982 were named Newbery Honor Books.Cleary ventured into fantasy with The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and the sequels Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse. Socks, about a cat’s struggle for acceptance when his owners have a baby, is told from the point of view of the pet himself.She was named a Living Legend in 2000 by the Library of Congress. In 2003, she was chosen as one of the winners of the National Medal of Arts and met President George W. Bush. She is lauded in literary circles far and wide.She produced two volumes of autobiography for young readers, A Girl from Yamhill, on her childhood, and My Own Two Feet, which tells the story of her college and young adult years up to the time of her first book.”I seem to have grown up with an unusual memory. People are astonished at the things I remember. I think it comes from living in isolation on a farm the first six years of my life where my main activity was observing,” Cleary said.Cleary was born Beverly Bunn on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon, and lived on a farm in Yamhill until her family moved to Portland when she was school-age. She was a slow reader, which she blamed on illness and a mean-spirited first-grade teacher who disciplined her by snapping a steel-tipped pointer across the back of her hands.By sixth or seventh grade, “I decided that I was going to write children’s stories,” she said.Cleary graduated from junior college in Ontario, California, and the University of California at Berkeley, where she met her husband, Clarence. They married in 1940; Clarence Cleary died in 2004. They were the parents of twins, a boy and a girl born in 1955 who inspired her book Mitch and Amy.Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and inspired Japanese, Danish and Swedish television programs based on the Henry Huggins series. A 10-part PBS series, Ramona, starred Canadian actress Sarah Polley. The 2010 film Ramona and Beezus featured actresses Joey King and Selena Gomez.Cleary was asked once what her favorite character was.”Does your mother have a favorite child?” she responded.
Novelist Larry McMurtry, who wrote of complex relationships in novels such as “The Last Picture Show” and “Terms of Endearment,” and then helped redefine the American Old West with the epic “Lonesome Dove,” has died at 84, The New York Times reported Friday.McMurtry’s death was confirmed by family spokeswoman Amanda Lundberg, who did not specify a cause or say where he died, the Times said.In addition to his Pulitzer Prize for “Lonesome Dove” in 1986, McMurtry won an Academy Award in 2006 with writing partner Diana Ossana for the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain” about the relationship between two gay cowboys. He also was nominated in 1972 for his adaptation of his novel “The Last Picture Show.”McMurtry wrote nearly 50 books — collections of essays and criticism and memoirs in addition to his novels — but “Lonesome Dove” had the most impact. It was a sweeping tale of two aging former Texas Rangers, the amiable Gus and cantankerous Call, on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana.”If anybody had any sense, they’d throw out ‘Moby-Dick’ and put ‘Lonesome Dove’ in the center as the great American epic novel,” Carolyn See, a literature professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times in 2003. “No question about it. His heroes in that book are just terrific. His women are just terrific. And he sustains it for 800 pages.”FILE – Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry accept the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for their work on “Brokeback Mountain” at the 78th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, March 5, 2006.McMurtry developed lasting affection for many of his characters and quite often brought them back for sequels. The principals from “Lonesome Dove” would eventually be in four books and the characters from “The Last Picture Show” generated five novels.Critics praised McMurtry for his skill in fashioning nuanced and compelling characters and the way he brought them together — whether they were coming-of-age teenagers fighting small-town ennui in “The Last Picture Show” or a self-absorbed woman and her needy, dying daughter in “Terms of Endearment.”McMurtry had a contrarian streak — e wore jeans with his tuxedo jacket to pick up his Oscar — and took a simple approach to his writing.”I like making stuff up,” he told Texas Monthly in 2016. “I just write.”
Popular Haitian Rapper Izolan, is a free man after being arrested Wednesday night at the Toussaint Louverture international Airport in Port-au-Prince by agents of the anti-drug trafficking branch of the Haitian National Police. News of the arrest went viral on Twitter and Instagram after lawyer and opposition leader Andre Michel alerted his followers.
La DCPJ vient de procéder illégalement à l’arrestation de Jean Léonard Tout Puissant( IZOLAN),un artiste populaire.Maitre Palvin Phizéma, un avocat du du Secteur Démocratique et Populaire,est en route pour la DCPJ.Le Secteur Démocratique et Populaire exige sa libération immédiate— Me. André Michel (@avokapepla) March 24, 2021″DCPJ has just illegally arrested Jean Leonard Tout Puissant (IZOLAN) a popular artist. Palvin Phizema, a lawyer who works for the Democratic and Popular sector (of opposition groups), is on his way to the DCPJ. The Democratic and Popular Sector demand his immediate release,” Michel tweeted.
VOA spoke to Phizema shortly after he arrived at the headquarters of the judiciary police, DCPJ. He told VOA he had not yet been allowed to see or speak with the rapper. It is still unclear why the rapper was arrested.
Popular Haitian American rapper Wyclef Jean, who has recorded several songs with Izolan, posted a video on his Instagram account condemning the arrest. .@wyclef on the news that pioneering rap Kreyol artist @izolanofficial was arrested today in #Haiti, (we’re still waiting info from @PNH_officiel ) calls for his immediate release. pic.twitter.com/JMHIlcNIEL— Jacqueline Charles (@Jacquiecharles) March 25, 2021
“I’m only going to say this once, this thing – I’m not going for it,” Wyclef said, speaking in a mixture of Haitian Creole and English. “I’m not going for it, we’re not going for it … Let Izolan go. Please let Izolan go.” The video has since been deleted from Wyclef’s Instagram account.
About 10 p.m., after being released from DCPJ custody, Izolan posted a black-and- white selfie on his Instagram account and thanked fans for their support.
“Thanks everybody for your support. DCPJ asked me to join them to respond to some questions. I didn’t panic because I know myself. I will always be who I am, nothing can change that,” Izolan posted in Creole.
The rapper told a local radio station he had been interrogated but did not elaborate. He would say only that he was not asked about his ties to Fantom 509, the renegade group of former and current police officers who have been blamed for a series of jailbreaks, looting, violence and the Monday hold-up at gunpoint of the Belize national team bus, shortly after they arrived in Haiti for a World Cup qualifier. The team was unharmed. The U.S. State Department has described the group as “criminals.” Earlier this week, the national police announced several arrest warrants for members of Fantom 509.
Lawyer Michel tweeted his thanks.
“Good News. IZOLAN has just been released. In the name of the Democratic and Popular Sector I would like to thank all the lawyers who went to the DCPJ to help IZOLAN,” he tweeted.
Bonne nouvelle. IZOLAN fenk Jwenn liberasyon li.Nan non Sektè Demokratik e Popilè a,Mwen Remèsye Tout Avoka( Mèt Palvin Phizéma, Arnel Rémy, Jules Frantz, Bellevue, Théophin) Ki te rive nan DCPJ nan Kad Dosye IZOLAN an.— Me. André Michel (@avokapepla) March 25, 2021Izolan says he is ready to talk to the police again if needed.
The rapper has been an outspoken critic of President Jovenel Moise’s governance and widespread insecurity. In an interview with VOA during a pro-democracy demonstration on February 21, Izolan said he has received threats due to his outspokenness.
“I’m one of the people who receives threats all the time because of my political views. That’s why I don’t bother anyone, and I don’t want anyone to bother me either. Everyone clearly sees that gangs rule this capital [Port-au-Prince],” he told VOA. He also had a message for Fantom 509. “Everyone knows the 509 policemen are not illegal, they are legal, they are working with the union (SPNH17) to claim their rights. They are unable to eat or sleep and they spend their days out in the streets,” he told VOA, adding that as an artist he considers the police to be heroes.
Our reporter ran into rapper @izolanofficial on the street during the protest against dictatorship and kidnapping in #Haiti. He expressed support for the 509 Policemen who are trying to unionize. 📹Matiado Vilme pic.twitter.com/BcxdoSz62w— Sandra Lemaire (@SandraDVOA) February 21, 2021
Izolan says he will participate in two days of protests on March 28 and March 29. The demonstrations, organized by Haitian civil society groups, aim to protest violence and demand respect for the constitution.Matiado Vilme in Port-au-Prince, Haiti contributed to this report
With waves, smiles and streamers, but no cheers, the Olympic torch relay kicked off Thursday, beginning a four-month countdown to the postponed 2020 summer Games in Tokyo, the first ever organized during a deadly pandemic.
Casting a pall over celebrations already scaled back because of coronavirus measures, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles before the relay began in Fukushima, an area hit hard by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
“For the past year, as the entire world underwent a difficult period, the Olympic flame was kept alive quietly but powerfully,” Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said at an opening ceremony closed to spectators.
“The small flame did not lose hope, and just like the cherry blossom buds that are ready to bloom, it was waiting for this day,” Hashimoto said.
Foreign spectators won’t be allowed in stadiums and it remains unclear how many Japanese will be permitted to attend.
With organizers billing the games as the “Recovery Olympics,” a nod to the disaster as well as the pandemic, Thursday’s runners included many evacuees who fled their homes after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.
“This town is where I was born and raised, and I never thought a torch relay would be held here,” said Takumi Ito, 31, in Futaba, one of the towns worst hit by the nuclear disaster.
“We are still in the coronavirus pandemic, but I think it’s great we could hold the relay.”
Japan has fared better than most countries, with about 9,000 coronavirus deaths, but Tokyo reported 420 cases on Wednesday, the highest single-day figure this month. Polls show the majority of the public oppose holding the Olympics as scheduled.
About 10,000 runners will take part in the four-month relay, which will go through all Japan’s 47 prefectures.
Tokyo 2020 organizing committee executive Toshiro Muto said the first day of the relay had gone smoothly and organizers were able to maintain adequate social distancing among spectators.
Asked by a reporter what organizers planned to do if prefectures where runs are planned declare states of emergency over the spread of the virus, Muto said they would consider alternative celebrations instead of the relay.
No Crowds or Cheering
The relay, culminating with the Olympic opening ceremony on July 23, has been hit by several high-profile runner cancellations as celebrities and top-level athletes have pulled out, citing late notice and worries over the pandemic.
The brief, solemn opening ceremony was held at J-Village in Fukushima, a sports complex converted into a staging ground for workers decommissioning the crippled nuclear power plant.
“For the torch relay viewing, please ensure you are wearing a mask, keep proper distance, don’t stand close to each other and support with things like clapping, instead of using a loud voice,” an announcer said.
Members of the Japanese women’s soccer team were the first to run with the flame, wearing white uniforms decorated with red.
The number of spectators, some waving Olympic flags or carp-shaped cloth streamers, increased throughout the day, ranging from nursery school children in colorful caps to elderly people clapping in front of flowering spring trees.
Most stood far apart from each other on the side of the road and wore masks.
Some runners grinned and posed as they handed off the torch, waving, while others set off to the beat of traditional Japanese drums. One man pushed himself in a wheelchair, the torch mounted in a bracket.
‘You Must Be Joking’
Though Games organizers in Tokyo and Lausanne insist the Olympics will go ahead, doctors and nurses have complained about the strain on hospitals and experts warn about the spread of virus variants.
Japan was the last of the Group of Seven industrialized nations to launch a vaccine drive. Only 700,000 people have been inoculated so far, mostly medical workers.
After the torch relay finished for the day, dozens of protesters gathered in downtown Tokyo, holding placards calling on Japan to scrap the event.
Toshio Miyazaki, 60, who organized the anti-Olympics rally, said he was worried about the spread of the virus due to visiting athletes and officials.
“It’s meaningless to hold the Olympics that no one supports,” said Miyazaki, who works for Tokyo’s metropolitan government.
Japan has spent nearly $300 billion to revive the Fukushima region, but many locals are apprehensive about the Games, as some areas remain off-limits, worries about radiation linger and many have settled elsewhere. Decommissioning of the stricken plant will take up to a century.
“Fukushima’s recovery is going steadily,” Fukushima governor Masao Uchibori said at the launch ceremony.
“But there are still many people who can’t return to their homes, and many difficult issues such as reviving these areas and rebuilding the lives of their residents,” he said.
A protester driving a van near the relay shouted over a loudspeaker, questioning how the Olympics could contribute to the region’s recovery.
“You must be joking,” the man yelled. “Everyone knows we can’t have the Olympics.”
Cameroonian music lover Paul Tchana opened a tiny record shop in the early 80s and built a collection of more than 5,000 original vinyl records. When compact discs arrived, his little record store struggled but eventually became a kind of museum, with customers going there to learn about music history. Moki Edwin Kindzeka has this report by Anne Nzouankeu in Yaounde.
The Olympic torch relay will start in Fukushima on Thursday, kicking off a four-month countdown to the Summer Games in Tokyo, delayed from 2020 and the first-ever organized during a global pandemic. Some 10,000 runners will take the torch across Japan’s 47 prefectures, including far-flung islands, starting from the site of the 2011 quake and tsunami that killed about 20,000 people, highlighting the government’s “Reconstruction Olympics” theme. The first section will not have spectators to avoid large crowds, and roadside onlookers elsewhere will have to wear masks and socially distance along the way as Japan battles the deadly virus and scrambles to vaccinate its people. Casting a pall over the celebrations, North Korea on Thursday launched at least two projectiles suspected to be ballistic missiles, officials in the region said, the first such test reported since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga assured reporters in Tokyo the government was cooperating with the Tokyo metropolitan government and the International Olympic Committee to host a secure Games.Local people wait for torchbearers to arrive at the torch relay route of the first section of the Fukushima Torch Relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, March 25, 2021.”We will do our utmost in terms of coronavirus measures and continue to work with related areas to contain the spread of infections and hope to work towards a safe and secure Games,” Suga said. The starting ceremony will be held at J-Village in Fukushima, a sports complex converted into a staging ground for workers decommissioning the crippled nuclear power plant that caused tens of thousands to flee. On Thursday, members of the Japanese national women’s soccer team will use the Olympic flame, flown in from Greece, to light the torch. The relay, which will culminate with the Olympic opening ceremony on July 23, has been hit by several high-profile runner cancellations as celebrities and top-level athletes have pulled out, citing late notice and worries over the pandemic. The opening ceremony — originally planned for thousands of fans as a celebration of Japan’s recovery — will be closed to the public. It will feature a drum concert and dance performances by a group of residents from Fukushima, followed by a children’s choir. Japan has fared better than most countries during the pandemic, with fewer than 9,000 coronavirus deaths. But a third wave of infections has pushed the numbers to record highs, triggering a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas that was lifted this week.The majority of the public are against the Olympics being held as scheduled, polls show, and Japan is the slowest among advanced economies with its vaccination rollout. At Fukushima, J-Village will be decorated with local flowers arranged using Japan’s traditional ikebana techniques. Japan has spent nearly $300 billion to revive the disaster-hit region. But many locals are apprehensive about the Games, as areas around the plant remain off-limits, worries about radiation linger and many who left have settled elsewhere. Decommissioning will take up to a century and cost billions of dollars.
Former Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers forward Elgin Baylor died of natural causes at the age of 86 on Monday, the NBA franchise announced.Baylor, the number one draft pick in 1958 and Rookie of the Year in 1959, spent 14 seasons with the Lakers. He is enshrined in the Hall of Fame and was considered one of the greatest players to never win a championship.A gifted shooter and rebounder despite his 6 ft 5 in frame, Baylor still held the record for most individual points in a single game in the NBA Finals when he scored 61 points against Lakers’ arch rivals, the Boston Celtics, in 1962.”Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend. And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity and the time he gave to all fans,” his wife Elaine said in a statement.Baylor’s number 22 jersey was retired and hangs in the rafters of Staples Center while the 11-times NBA All-Star was immortalized in a statue that stands outside the arena.”Elgin was THE superstar of his era, his many accolades speak to that,” Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss said.”He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.”But more importantly he was a man of great integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass.”After his retirement, Baylor coached the New Orleans Jazz before he was hired as the general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers, spending 22 years in that role.”RIP to the NBA’s first high flyer, Lakers legend and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor,” former Lakers guard and former team president Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter.”Before there was Michael Jordan doing amazing things in the air, there was Elgin Baylor.”
Hackers in China used fake Facebook accounts and impostor websites to try to break into the computers and smartphones of Uyghur Muslims, the social network said Wednesday.The company said the sophisticated covert operation targeted Uyghur activists, journalists and dissidents from China’s Xinjiang region, as well as individuals living in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the U.S., Syria, Australia, Canada and other nations.The hackers tried to gain access to the computers and phones by creating fake Facebook accounts for supposed journalists and activists, as well as fake websites and apps intended to appeal to a Uyghur audience. In some cases, the hackers created lookalike websites almost identical to legitimate news sites popular with Uyghurs.The accounts and sites contained malicious links. If the targets clicked on them, their computers or smartphones would be infected with software allowing the network to spy on the targets’ devices.The software could obtain such information as victims’ locations, keystrokes and contacts, according to FireEye, a cybersecurity firm that worked on the investigation.Hundreds targetedIn all, fewer than 500 people were targeted by the hackers in 2019 and 2020, Facebook said. The company said it uncovered the network during its routine security work and has deactivated the fictitious accounts and notified individuals whose devices may have been compromised. Most of the hackers’ activities took place on non-Facebook sites and platforms.”They tried to create these personas, build trust in the community, and use that as a way to trick people into clicking on these links to expose their devices,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy.Facebook’s investigation found links between the hackers and two technology firms based in China but no direct links to the Chinese government, which has been criticized for its harsh treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. FireEye, however, said in a statement that “we believe this operation was conducted in support” of the Chinese government.China has imprisoned more than 1 million people, including Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups, in a vast network of concentration camps, according to U.S. officials and human rights groups. People have been subjected to torture, sterilization and political indoctrination, in addition to forced labor, as part of an assimilation campaign in a region whose inhabitants are ethnically and culturally distinct from the Han Chinese majority.