VOA Interview NASA Astronaut Victor Glover

VOA’s Kane Farabaugh spoke with NASA Astronaut Victor Glover ahead of Monday’s scheduled Artemis launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. While the launch was postponed, NASA’s quest to return to the moon and eventually send humans to Mars remains a priority for the U.S. space agency.

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Modern Film Adaptations Revive Classic Jane Austen Novels 

“Persuasion,” a new film based on Jane Austen’s early 19th century novel, has ranked among the top 10 on the Netflix streaming platform. While Austen diehards and many critics have slammed it as inauthentic, others say such modernized versions could attract new audiences to the books of the celebrated English author. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video editor: Penelope Poulou

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Musk Cites Whistleblower as New Reason to Exit Twitter Deal

Elon Musk and Twitter lobbed salvos at each other Tuesday in the latest round of legal filings over the billionaire Tesla CEO’s efforts to rescind his offer to buy the social media platform. 

Musk filed more paperwork to terminate his agreement to buy Twitter, this time based on information in a whistleblower complaint filed by Twitter’s former head of security. Twitter fired back by saying his attempt to back out of the deal is “invalid and wrongful.” 

In an SEC filing, Musk said his legal team notified Twitter of “additional bases” for ending the deal on top of the ones given in the original termination notice issued in July. 

In a letter to Twitter Inc., which was included in the filing, Musk’s advisers cited the whistleblower report by former executive Peiter Zatko — also known by his hacker handle “Mudge.” 

Zatko, who served as Twitter’s head of security until he was fired early this year, alleged in his complaint to U.S. officials that the company misled regulators about its poor cybersecurity defenses and its negligence in attempting to root out fake accounts that spread disinformation. 

The letter, addressed to Twitter’s Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde, said Zatko’s allegations provide extra reasons to end the deal if the July termination notice “is determined to be invalid for any reason.” 

Billionaire Musk has spent months alleging that the company he agreed to acquire undercounted its fake and spam accounts, which means he doesn’t have to go through with the $44 billion deal. Musk’s decision to back out of the transaction sets the stage for a high-stakes legal battle in October. 

In a separate SEC filing, Twitter responded to what it called Musk’s latest “purported termination,” saying it’s “based solely on statements made by a third party that, as Twitter has previously stated, are riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lack important context.” 

The company vowed to go through with the sale at the price agreed with Musk. 


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Excitement Over Cryptocurrency Tinged With Fear

The price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has fallen dramatically in recent months. Still, many investors are excited about the future of digital currencies despite the risks. VOA’s Michelle Quinn reports from San Francisco.

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Elon Musk Subpoenas Twitter Whistleblower Ahead of Trial

Elon Musk’s legal team is demanding to hear from Twitter’s whistleblowing former security chief, who could help bolster Musk’s case for backing out of a $44 billion deal to buy the social media company. 

Former Twitter executive Peiter Zatko — also known by his hacker handle “Mudge” — received a subpoena Saturday from Musk’s team, according to Zatko’s lawyer and court records. 

The billionaire Tesla CEO has spent months alleging that the company he agreed to acquire undercounted its fake and spam accounts — and that he shouldn’t have to consummate the deal as a result. 

Zatko’s whistleblower complaint to U.S. officials alleging Twitter misled regulators about its privacy and security protections — and its ability to detect and root out fake accounts — might play into Musk’s hands in an upcoming trial scheduled for Oct. 17 in Delaware. 

Zatko served as Twitter’s head of security until he was fired early this year. 


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US Navy Turns to Driverless Ships for Indo-Pacific Strategy

As the U.S. military continues to consider China’s military strength in the Indo-Pacific region, the U.S. Navy is turning to driverless ships to multiply its forces. VOA’s Jessica Stone takes us along for a closer look at this military innovation. Camera: Keith Lane

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Bad Bunny, Taylor Swift lead MTV Video Music Awards 

Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican Latin trap and reggaeton artist who’s among the world’s biggest stars, scored MTV’s artist of the year award Sunday at the annual Video Music Awards. 

But the performer was conspicuously absent from the show: he was busy with his own blockbuster tour, playing the second night of a sold out concert at Yankee Stadium that over the weekend drew some 100,000 fans. 

Bad Bunny, wearing a satin pink suit and white sunglasses, accepted the award via video and also delivered a seismic performance of his smash “Titi Me Pregunto” from the baseball stadium in New York, where the song has soundtracked the streets for months.   

“Thank you so much, New York,” the 28-year-old said in Spanish to resounding applause. 

“From the beginning I always believed that I could be great, that I could be one of the biggest stars in the world, without changing my culture, my language,” he said. “I’m Benito Antonio Martinez from Puerto Rico – for the whole world.”   

In a sure sign that pandemic-stymied touring was back in full swing, another of the year’s biggest stars, Harry Styles, also couldn’t make it to the VMAs – which aired from New Jersey’s Prudential Center – due to his own show at Madison Square Garden. 

The artist who dropped “Harry’s House” this year also accepted his award for the year’s best album via video.

Swift album on the way

Taylor Swift was also among the night’s big winners, turning heads on the red carpet in a dress dripping with crystals before winning the night’s top prize of music video of the year for her 10-minute-long film “All Too Well.”  

“I’m so proud of what we made,” said the 32-year-old, who has been making good on her vow to re-record her first six albums so she can control the rights to them. 

“We wouldn’t have been able to make this short film if it weren’t for you, the fans,” Swift said onstage. “Because I wouldn’t be able to re-record my albums if it weren’t for you. You emboldened me to do that.”   

She then gave fans a gift in return, announcing that her new album will come out October 21. 

Shortly after the broadcast’s end, the megastar revealed the new project’s name. 

“Midnights, the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life, will be out October 21. Meet me at midnight,” she wrote on social media.   

Hip hop superstar Nicki Minaj reigned over the evening as the 2022 recipient of the prestigious Video Vanguard Award. 

Wearing her signature pink wig, the hip-hop icon from Queens delivered a medley of her hits including “Super Bass” and her most recent single “Super Freaky Girl.” 

Brazil’s Anitta also turned heads with a booty-popping performance before winning the award for best Latin video for “Envolver.” 

“I was born and raised in the ghetto of Brazil, and for whoever was born there, we would never think this was possible,” she said when accepting the trophy  

Johnny Depp appears 

Iconic stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong awarded the Red Hot Chili Peppers with the Global Icon Award, before the California rockers performed and also paid tribute to Taylor Hawkins, the late Foo Fighters drummer. 

Eminem and Snoop Dogg opened their performance sitting on a couch as Snoop smoked a giant – albeit fake – blunt, before the pair headed to the metaverse for a trippy, animated performance of their latest collaboration “From the D 2 the LBC.” 

Marshmello and Khalid performed “Numb” with neon, disorienting visuals that created a brief but heady rave effect, while South Korea’s Blackpink gave their first show at a US awards night ever.

Lizzo also performed before scoring the Video For Good award — which honors videos with social or political messages — for her song “About Damn Time.” 

Wearing a cone-bra corseted dress that recalled Madonna, the superstar thanked fans for voting for her to receive the award before nodding to US politics. 

“Vote to change some of these laws that are oppressing us,” the star urged. 

And at the awards show that’s historically far better known for its antics than actual prizes, Johnny Depp – fresh off his controversial defamation trial against his ex-partner Amber Heard – appeared as the MTV Moonman, his head digitally superimposed on the flying astronaut.   

“You know what? I needed the work,” said the 59-year-old actor. 

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NASA Moon Rocket on Track for Launch Despite Lightning Hits 

NASA’s new moon rocket remained on track to blast off on a crucial test flight Monday, despite a series of lightning strikes at the launch pad.

The 322-foot (98-meter) Space Launch System rocket is the most powerful ever built by NASA. It’s poised to send an empty crew capsule into lunar orbit, a half-century after NASA’s Apollo program, which landed 12 astronauts on the moon.

Astronauts could return to the moon in a few years, if this six-week test flight goes well. NASA officials caution, however, that the risks are high and the flight could be cut short.

In lieu of astronauts, three test dummies are strapped into the Orion capsule to measure vibration, acceleration and radiation, one of the biggest hazards to humans in deep space. The capsule alone has more than 1,000 sensors.

Officials said Sunday that neither the rocket nor capsule suffered any damage during Saturday’s thunderstorm; ground equipment also was unaffected. Five lightning strikes were confirmed, hitting the 600-foot (183-meter) towers surrounding the rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The strikes weren’t strong enough to warrant major retesting.

“Clearly, the system worked as designed,” said Jeff Spaulding, NASA’s senior test director.

More storms were expected. Although forecasters gave 80 percent odds of acceptable weather Monday morning, conditions were expected to deteriorate during the two-hour launch window.

On the technical side, Spaulding said the team did its best over the past several months to eliminate any lingering fuel leaks. A pair of countdown tests earlier this year prompted repairs to leaking valves and other faulty equipment; engineers won’t know if all the fixes are good until just a few hours before the planned liftoff.

After so many years of delays and setbacks, the launch team was thrilled to finally be so close to the inaugural flight of the Artemis moon-exploration program, named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology.

“We’re within 24 hours of launch right now, which is pretty amazing for where we’ve been on this journey,” Spaulding told reporters.

The follow-on Artemis flight, as early as 2024, would see four astronauts flying around the moon. A landing could follow in 2025. NASA is targeting the moon’s unexplored south pole, where permanently shadowed craters are believed to hold ice that could be used by future crews.

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Turkish Pop Star Jailed Over Joke About Religious Schools

Turkish pop star Gulsen has been arrested on charges of “inciting hatred and enmity” with a joke she made about Turkey’s religious schools, the country’s state-run news agency reported.

The 46-year-old singer and songwriter, whose full name is Gulsen Colakoglu, was taken away from her home in Istanbul for questioning and formally arrested late Thursday. She was then taken to a prison pending trial.

The arrest sparked outrage on social media. Government critics said the move was an effort by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to consolidate support from his religious and conservative base ahead of elections in 10 months.

The charges were based on a joke Gulsen made during an April concert in Istanbul, where she quipped that one of her musicians’ “perversion” stemmed from attending a religious school. A video of the singer’s comment began circulating on social media recently, with a hashtag calling for her arrest.

Gulsen — who previously became a target in Islamic circles due to her revealing stage outfits and for unfurling an LGBTQ flag at a concert — apologized for the offense the joke caused but said her comments were seized on by those wanting to deepen polarization in the country.

During her questioning by court authorities, Gulsen rejected accusations that she incited hatred and enmity, and said she had “endless respect for the values and sensitivities of my country,” the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Her request to be released from custody pending the outcome of a trial was rejected.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, called on Turkey’s judges and prosecutors to release Gulsen.

“Don’t betray the law and justice; release the artist now!” he wrote on Twitter.

The spokesperson for Erdogan’s Justice and Development party, known by its Turkish acronym AKP, appeared however, to defend the decision to arrest the singer, saying “inciting hatred is not an art form.”

“Targeting a segment of society with the allegation of “perversion” and trying to polarize Turkey is a hate crime and a disgrace to humanity,” AKP spokesperson Omer Celik tweeted.

Erdogan and many members of his Islam-based ruling party are graduates of religious schools, which were originally established to train imams. The number of religious schools in Turkey has increased under Erdogan, who has promised to raise a “pious generation.”

Among those calling for Gulsen’s release was Turkish pop star, Tarkan, best known internationally for the song Kiss Kiss.

“Our legal system, which turns a blind eye to corruption, thieves, those who break the law and massacre nature, those who kill animals and those who use religion to polarize society through their bigoted ideas — has arrested Gulsen in one whack,” Tarkan said in a statement posted on Twitter.  

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‘Star Trek’ Actress Nichelle Nichols’ Ashes Headed for Solar Orbit

The late actress Nichelle Nichols, best known as Lieutenant Uhura on “Star Trek,” will become the latest member of the 1960s television series to be memorialized by having some of her earthly remains flown into space.

Nichols, who died July 30 at age 89, is credited with helping shatter racial stereotypes and redefining Hollywood roles for Black actors at the height of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, as one of the first Black women to portray an empowered character on network television.

Now she has been added to the posthumous passenger manifest of a real-life rocket ship due to carry a collection of vials containing cremated ashes and DNA samples from dozens of departed space enthusiasts on a final, and eternal, voyage around the sun, according to organizers of the tribute.

A date for the launch has not yet been set.

Other “Star Trek” cast members and executives who have had remains launched into space include James Doohan, who played the show’s chief engineer, Scotty, and “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry.

Also joining the launch will be the remains of Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who played nurse Christine Chapel on the series, and the renowned sci-fi visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull, whose work was featured in such films as “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”

The launch is organized by Celestis Inc., a Texas company that has created a unique niche in the burgeoning commercial space sector by offering a measure of cosmic immortality to customers who can afford a dramatic sendoff.

Celestis, which contracts with private rocket ventures, has not publicly divulged the fees and other financial details of its service.

The upcoming memorial flight will be aboard a Vulcan Centaur rocket, still under development by the Boeing and Lockheed Martin joint venture, United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Plans call for the 200-plus capsules carrying human remains and DNA for what Celestis is calling its “Enterprise Flight” to go inside the upper rocket stage that will fly on into deep space, beyond the gravitational pull of the Earth and moon, and eventually enter a perpetual solar orbit, said Charles Chafer, co-founder and chief executive officer of Celestis.

“It’s a wonderful memorial for her, an eternal one,” Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson told Reuters.

In the 1970s, Nichols was hired by NASA to help recruit more marginalized groups and women to the space agency, where she was influential in attracting such talent as the first woman U.S. astronaut, Sally Ride; the first Black woman astronaut, Mae Jemison; and the first Black NASA chief, Charlie Bolden.

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Big Name Entertainment Buyers Attend Africa’s Biggest Film, TV Market Since Lockdown

Big name entertainment providers like Netflix, Showmax and Paramount have been meeting African content creators this week at the Fame Week Africa conference in South Africa. The three-day conference, which ended Friday, was billed as the continent’s premier business conference for the creative and cultural sectors.

A local government official who declined to be named said numerous deals were being concluded on the floor – and predicted that Fame Week Africa would put Cape Town on the world map in terms of film events.

Countries like the United States, Canada and Kenya had government representation there, while businesses in film, TV, animation, music and entertainment technology had cubicles set up in the Cape Town International Convention Center.

Bonolo Madisakwane, the content distribution executive for Paramount Africa, was sitting in one of them.

“Next week is going to be a very busy week for me and my programming team,” she said. “We have received a lot of screeners. I’m very, very hopeful.”

She said Fame Week Africa was the biggest event of its kind in Africa since the COVID-19 lockdown and people have taken full advantage of it.

“Most of them I had pre-meetings already but quite a number of them, the minute they see me and I’ve got nobody sitting there with me, they just take a seat and they just pitch whatever it is that they want to pitch and they ask all the questions,” Bonolo said.

One man who was hoping to catch up with the likes of Bonolo was South African actor and social media influencer Ernest St. Clair, who has over 67,000 followers on Instagram. He stars in a new film, “2 Thirds of a Man.

“We shot this film in lockdown and it’s finally released and been picked up,” he said. “We are really hoping for it to be picked up by other channels like Showmax.”

Another participant, Canadian singer Domanique Grant, was there to promote her company that works with brands and artist management and development.

“We help to do everything from sponsoring vocal lessons to bringing them to major conferences so that they can get into the industry,” she said.

Having lived in Uganda, she’s also hoping to reach a wider African audience. She is also at the conference to promote her new album, “Queen/Dom.”

“‘Queen/Dom’ is about generational healing and self-love,” she said.

Jill Casserley, Africa sales manager for RX Global, which organized Fame Week Africa, said she believes there will be more events like this to come and that a lot of business was done at this one.

“I’m sure it will continue,” she said. “People are happy to be back to face-to-face meetings. I think they’re done with virtual markets.”

The event was sponsored by MIP Africa, the International Animation Festival, Muziki Africa, Media and Entertainment Solutions Africa and the city of Cape Town.

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Experts Worry Digital Footprints Will Incriminate US Patients Seeking Abortions

The U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of protections for abortion rights has intensified scrutiny of the personal data that technology firms collect. Apple, Facebook and Google typically comply with legal requests for user data. For women who live in states where most abortions are now illegal, their smartphones and devices could be used against them. Tina Trinh reports.
Videographer: Saqib Ul Islam, Greg Flakus Video editor: Tina Trinh

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Christie’s to Auction Microsoft Co-Founder’s $1B Art Collection

Christie’s announced plans on Thursday to auction the art collection of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, which it estimated to be worth more than $1 billion.

The November sale of more than 150 pieces spanning 500 years of art will be “the largest and most exceptional art auction in history,” Christie’s said in a statement.

The works will include La montagne Sainte-Victoire by French painter Paul Cezanne, valued at more than $100 million, the auction house said.

It is holding the auction with the late billionaire’s estate. Christie’s said all proceeds will go to charitable causes, as per the wishes of Allen, who was an avid art collector, innovator and philanthropist.

Allen, who died in 2018 at the age of 65, co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. Together, they came up with the PC operating system that made a fortune for the U.S. technology giant.

Allen left the company in 1983, due to health problems and a deteriorating relationship with Gates, who remained in charge of Microsoft until 2000.

The auction record for a private collection was set this spring by the U.S. couple Harry and Linda Macklowe, with $922 million fetched in auctions conducted by Sotheby’s.

Other than the work by Cezanne, the Allen collection features a work entitled Small False Start by American painter Jasper Johns, valued at more than $50 million, The New York Times reported.

Christie’s did not detail what else is in the collection, but a traveling exhibit in 2016 gave a glimpse of the richness of the Allen art trove.

It features works by Monet, Manet, Klimt and others.

This year is shaping up to be one of the biggest ever in the art market.

Besides the Macklowe auction, an Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe sold in May for $195 million — a record for a piece of 20th-century art.

Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti said the Allen auction will be like no other.

“The inspirational figure of Paul Allen, the extraordinary quality and diversity of works, and the dedication of all proceeds to philanthropy, create a unique combination that will make the sale of the Paul G. Allen Collection an event of unprecedented magnitude,” Cerutti said.

“To Paul, art was both analytical and emotional. He believed that art expressed a unique view of reality — combining the artist’s inner state and inner eye — in a way that can inspire us all,” said Jody Allen, the executor of the estate.

“His collection reflects the diversity of his interests, with their own mystique and beauty.”

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For First Time, Facebook, Twitter Take Down Pro-US Influence Operation

This summer, for the first time, Facebook and Twitter removed a network of fake user accounts promoting pro-Western policy positions to foreign audiences and critical of Russia, China and Iran, according to a new report.

The accounts, which violated the companies’ terms of service, “used deceptive tactics to promote pro-Western narratives in the Middle East and Central Asia” and were likely a series of covert campaigns spanning five years, according to the report from Stanford University and Graphika, a social media analytics firm.

Twitter and Facebook, which shared their data about the accounts with the researchers, haven’t publicly identified what entities or organizations were behind the campaigns, the researchers said. Twitter identified the U.S. and Britain as the campaigns’ “presumptive countries of origin,” and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, identified the U.S. as the country of origin, according to the report.

In recent years, internet firms have shut down online influence operations stemming from authoritarian regimes in China, Russia and Iran. The discovery of a U.S.-based online influence operation using many of the same techniques, such as fake people and fake followers to push a narrative, raises questions about who is behind the effort, its goals and whether the operation is effective.

When asked Thursday by VOA whether the U.S. military had created the fake accounts, Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said officials would need to look at the data provided by Facebook or Twitter. He said that the U.S. military does conduct “military information support operations around the world.”

“Obviously, I’m not going to talk about ongoing operations or particular tactics, techniques and procedures, other than to say that we operate within prescribed policies,” he said.

Linking to media, other sites

The researchers noted that the fake social media accounts often posted links to sham media sites as well as “sources linked to the U.S. military,” such as websites in Central Asia that name U.S. Central Command as their sponsor.

In addition, these inauthentic accounts linked to articles from Voice of America, the federally funded international broadcaster, and its sister organization, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the report said. Sham media sites copied stories from BBC Russia, VOA and other sources.

Several suspended social media accounts were linked to sham media accounts operating in Persian, such as Dariche News, which claimed to be an independent media outlet and had some original content. But, the report added, “many of their articles were explicit reposts from U.S.-funded Persian-language media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Radio Farda and VOA Farsi.”

USAGM responds

On Thursday, the United States Agency for Global Media, the agency that oversees VOA and RFE/RL, said it didn’t have knowledge of these accounts.

“USAGM maintains only its own official social media accounts and websites, using the highest standards to ensure that official accounts are fact-based, accessible and verifiable,” said Lesley Jackson, a spokesperson, in an email.

USAGM doesn’t work with other U.S. government agencies or other groups to promote news content through fake social media accounts, Jackson confirmed. 

“With its mission to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy, USAGM will always promote the free flow of credible information to those in need and stand against misinformation, disinformation and censorship,” Jackson said.


The online influence campaigns’ tactics were similar to those of other such campaigns and included doctoring photos to create fake accounts and using hashtags and petitions to attempt to build support.

One set of accounts in Central Asia focused on Russia’s military activities in the Middle East and Africa, but shifted in February to the war in Ukraine, “presenting the conflict as a threat to people in Central Asia,” the report said.

The accounts linked to a petition, whose authorship was unclear, “calling for the Kazakh government to ban Russian TV channels,” the report said.

The researchers said that the tactics of the inauthentic accounts didn’t really work to generate engagement. Most of the posts and tweets received only a handful of likes or retweets. A majority of the accounts had fewer than 1,000 followers.

Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report. 

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California Phasing Out Gas Vehicles in Climate Change Fight 

California set itself on a path Thursday to end the era of gas-powered cars, with air regulators adopting the world’s most stringent rules for transitioning to zero-emission vehicles.

The move by the California Air Resources Board to have all new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs be electric or hydrogen by 2035 is likely to reshape the U.S. auto market, which gets 10% of its sales from the nation’s most populous state.

But such a radical transformation in what people drive will also require at least 15 times more vehicle chargers statewide, a more robust energy grid and vehicles that people of all income levels can afford.

“It’s going to be very hard getting to 100%,” said Daniel Sperling, a board member and founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis. “You can’t just wave your wand, you can’t just adopt a regulation — people actually have to buy them and use them.”

Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom told state regulators two years ago to adopt a ban on gas-powered cars by 2035, one piece of California’s aggressive suite of policies designed to reduce pollution and fight climate change. If the policy works as designed, California would cut emissions from vehicles in half by 2040.

More to come

Other states are expected to follow, further accelerating the production of zero-emissions vehicles.

Washington state and Massachusetts already have said they will follow California’s lead and many more are likely to — New York and Pennsylvania are among 17 states that have adopted some or all of California’s tailpipe emission standards that are stricter than federal rules. The European Parliament in June backed a plan to effectively prohibit the sale of gas and diesel cars in the 27-nation European Union by 2035, and Canada has mandated the sale of zero-emission cars by the same year.

California’s policy doesn’t ban cars that run on gas — after 2035 people can keep their existing cars or buy used ones, and 20% of sales can be plug-in hybrids that run on batteries and gas. Though hydrogen is a fuel option under the new regulations, cars that run on fuel cells have made up less than 1% of car sales in recent years.

The switch from gas will drastically reduce emissions and air pollutants. Transportation is the single largest source of emissions in the state, accounting for about 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The air board is working on different regulations for motorcycles and larger trucks.

California envisions powering most of the economy with electricity, not fossil fuels, by 2045. A plan released by the air board earlier this year predicts electricity demand will shoot up by 68%. Today, the state has about 80,000 public chargers. The California Energy Commission predicted that needs to jump to 1.2 million by 2030.

The commission says car charging will account for about 4% of energy by 2030 when use is highest, typically during hot summer evenings. That’s when California sometimes struggles to provide enough energy because the amount of solar power diminishes as the sun goes down. In August 2020, hundreds of thousands of people briefly lost power because of high demand that outstripped supply.

That hasn’t happened since, and to ensure it doesn’t going forward, Newsom, a Democrat, is pushing to keep open the state’s last-remaining nuclear plant beyond its planned closure in 2025. Also, the state may turn to diesel generators or natural gas plants as a backup when the electrical grid is strained.

More than 1 million people drive electric cars in California today. Their charging habits vary, but most people charge their cars in the evening or overnight, said Ram Rajagopal, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University who has studied car charging habits and energy grid needs.

If people’s charging habits stay the same, once 30% to 40% of cars are electric, the state would need to add more energy capacity overnight to meet demand, he said. The regulations adopted Thursday require 35% of vehicle sales to be electric by 2026, up from 16% now.

But if more people charged their cars during the day, that problem would be avoided, he said. Changing to daytime charging is “the biggest bang for the buck you’re going to get,” he said.

Both the state and federal government are spending billions to build more chargers along public roadways, at apartment complexes and elsewhere to give people more charging options.

The oil industry believes California is going too far. It’s the seventh-largest oil-producing state and shouldn’t wrap its entire transportation strategy around a vehicle market powered by electricity, said Tanya DeRivi, vice president for climate policy with the Western States Petroleum Association, an industry group.

“Californians should be able to choose a vehicle technology, including electric vehicles, that best fits their needs based on availability, affordability and personal necessity,” she said.

Some difficulties seen

Many car companies, like Kia, Ford and General Motors, are already on the path to making more electric cars available for sale, but some have warned that factors outside their control like supply chain and materials issues make Californians’ goals challenging.

“Automakers could have significant difficulties meeting this target, given elements outside of the control of the industry,” Kia Corp.’s Laurie Holmes told the air board before its vote.

As the requirements ramp up over time, automakers could be fined up to $20,000 per vehicle sold that falls short of the goal, though they’ll have time to comply if they miss the target in a given year.

The new rules approved by the air board say that the vehicles need to be able to travel 150 miles (241 kilometers) on one charge. Federal and state rebates are also available to people who buy electric cars, and the new rules have incentives for car companies to sell electric cars at a discount to low-income buyers.

But some representatives of business groups and rural areas said they fear electric cars will be too expensive or inconvenient.

“These regulations are a big step backwards for working families and small businesses,” said Gema Gonzalez Macias of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.

Air board members said they are committed to keeping a close eye on equity provisions in the rules to make sure all California residents have access.

“We will not set Californians up to fail, we will not set up the other states who want to follow this regulation to fail,” said Tania Pacheco-Warner, a member of the board and co-director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at California State University-Fresno.

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Exhibition Explores Vibrant History of Black Filmmaking

African Americans have been involved in filmmaking since the early days of the movie industry. A new exhibition at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures explores that vibrant history, much of it forgotten. Mike O’Sullivan reports from Los Angeles.

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Ukrainian Company Repairs Broken Drones to Help Military

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are playing a huge part in the war in Ukraine. But keeping them in the air can be challenging. One Ukrainian company is doing just that and more. Kateryna Markova has the story. Camera – Viktor Petrovych.

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Chinese Censors Change Ending of Latest ‘Minions’ Movie

Censors have altered the ending of the recent animated film “Minions: The Rise of Gru” for its domestic release in China, social media users across the country noticed over the weekend.

The editing is yet another example of Chinese authorities editing a popular Hollywood film to make it more politically correct, leading some viewers to lament the changes.

According to posts and screenshots from the movie shared on Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter, censors tacked on an addendum in which Wild Knuckles, a main character in the heist film, was caught by police and served 20 years in jail.

Gru, a co-conspirator of Wild Knuckles, “returned to his family” and “his biggest accomplishment is being the father to his three girls,” screenshots of the film showed.

In the international version, the film ends with Gru and Wild Knuckles, the story’s two thief anti-heroes, riding off together after Wild Knuckles faked his own death to evade capture from authorities.

Numerous online commentators mocked the addendum, saying it resembled a power-point presentation.

DuSir, an online movie review publisher with 14.4 million followers on Weibo, noted that the Chinese version of the film runs one minute longer than the international version and questioned why the extra minute was needed.

“It’s only us who need special guidance and care, for fear that a cartoon will ‘corrupt’ us,” DuSir wrote in a piece published Saturday.

Universal Pictures, the film’s U.S. distributor, did not respond to a request for comment outside of normal business hours.

Huaxia Film Distribution Co. and China Film Co., the film’s distributors in China, did not respond to a request for comment.

China places a quota on the number of overseas movies that can be shown in domestic movie theaters. Many Hollywood films that screen in the country have certain scenes omitted or altered.

At times, some viewers note, alternate endings to films diverge far from the original.

Last year, Chinese viewers of the classic 1999 film “Fight Club” noticed that the original ending, in which the protagonist and his alter ego detonate a set of skyscrapers, was not on the version shown on domestic streaming site Tencent Video.

Instead, an on-screen script said police “rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.”

The changes were widely mocked among Chinese fans of the original film, and even elicited responses from the film’s director and the author of the novel it was based on. Tencent later restored the original ending.

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Friends, Fellow Writers Rally, Read for Rushdie 

Friends and fellow authors spoke out on Salman Rushdie’s behalf during a rally Friday on the steps of the main branch of the New York Public Library, one week after he was attacked onstage in the western part of the state and hospitalized with stab wounds. 

Rushdie’s condition has improved, and, according to his literary agent, he has been removed from a ventilator. 

Jeffrey Eugenides, Tina Brown and Kiran Desai were among those who shared wishes for a full recovery, told stories of Rushdie as an inspiration and defender of free expression, and read passages from his books, essays and speeches, including from The Satanic Verses, the 1988 novel that some Muslims condemned as blasphemous. 

Rushdie spent years in hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 edict, a fatwa, calling for his death, but had traveled freely over the past two decades. 

The hourlong “Stand With Salman” gathering was presented in part by the library, by Rushdie’s publisher, Penguin Random House, and by the literary and human rights organization PEN America. Hundreds were in attendance, many affiliated with PEN, of which the 75-year-old Rushdie is a former president. 

‘Indefatigable champion’

“He’s been a constant, indefatigable champion of words and of writers attacked for the purported crime of their work,” said the day’s first speaker, PEN CEO Suzanne Nossel. “Today, we will celebrate Salman for what he has endured, but even more importantly, because of what he has engendered — the stories, characters, metaphors and images he has given to the world.” 

The rally did not include any new words from Rushdie, but Nossel said Rushdie was aware of the event and even made suggestions for what to read. Rushdie’s son Zafar Rushdie, who has been with his father, tweeted that “it was great to see a crowd gathered” outside the library. 

“Stand With Salman” took place the day after a judge in Mayville, New York, denied bail to Hadi Matar, 24, who has pleaded not guilty of attempted murder and assault. While in jail, Matar told the New York Post that he disdained Rushdie as anti-Muslim and expressed admiration for the ayatollah. 

On Friday, other readers included author and journalist Gay Talese, author and former PEN President Andrew Solomon, and poet-activist Reginald Dwayne Betts. Actor Aasif Mandvi read from Rushdie’s upcoming novel, Victory City, which he completed before the attack and includes the passage, “I myself am nothing now. All that remains is the city of words. Words are the only victors.” 

Eugenides, whose novels include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex, remembered traveling to London in the early 1980s. Eugenides was 20 and Rushdie’s breakthrough novel, Midnight’s Children, had recently been published. He knew Rushdie lived there and decided he wanted to meet him. It was years before The Satanic Verses, and Eugenides found his name and address in the phone book. 

“I took the tube out to his house. As it turned out, Salman wasn’t at home; he was in Italy, vacationing,” said Eugenides, who was greeted by Rushdie’s then-mother-in-law and left a note for the author. 

“That was the world we used to live in,” Eugenides added.

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London Exhibit Marks New Era for African Fashion

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is hosting an exhibition of African fashion that organizers say is the largest of its kind. The landmark exhibit — named simply “Africa Fashion” — promises to set a new standard on how the subject is portrayed in museums and art galleries. For VOA, Pasi Myohanen reports from London. Camera: Humberto Nascimento

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