June 14, 2021

RSF round-up: these figures are alarming

first_img Organisation Condemning abusesProtecting journalists ViolenceImprisonedHostagesDisappearances Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is releasing its annual round-up of violence and abuses against journalists throughout the world. A total of 65 journalists were killed in 2017, 326 are currently in prison, and 54 are held hostage. RSF_en Читать по-русски / Read in RussianThe 65 journalists who were killed were either fatally injured in the course of their work (for The 2017 annual round-upRead the round-upexample, in an artillery bombardment) or were murdered because their reporting angered someone. The murdered reporters were the majority – 60% of the total figure.Although these figures are alarming, 2017 has been the least deadly year for professional journalists (50 killed) in 14 years. Journalists are of course fleeing countries such as Syria, Yemen and Libya that have become too dangerous, but RSF has also observed a growing awareness of the need to protect journalists. The UN has passed several resolutions on the safety of journalists since 2006 and many news organizations have adopted safety procedures.The fall does not apply to deaths of women journalists, which have doubled. Ten have been killed in 2017, as against five in 2016. Most of these victims were experienced and combative investigative reporters. Despite threats, they continued to investigate and expose cases of corruption. The victims include Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Gauri Lankesh in India and Miroslava Breach Velducea in Mexico. In another noteworthy trend in 2017, some countries that are not at war have become almost as dangerous for journalists as war zones: 46% of the deaths occurred in countries where no overt war is taking place, as against 30% in 2016. There were almost as many deaths (11) in Mexico as in Syria, which was the deadliest country for journalists in 2017, with 12 killed.”Investigative journalists working on major stories such as corruption and environmental scandals play a fundamental watchdog role and have become targets for those who are angered by their reporting,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “This alarming situation underlines the need to provide journalists with more protection at a time when both the challenges of news reporting and the dangers are becoming increasingly internationalized.”Like the death toll, the number of journalists in detention has also fallen. The total of 326 journalists in prison on 1 December 2017 was 6% fewer than on the same date in 2016. Despite the overall downward trend, there is an unusually high number of detained journalists in certain countries, such as Russia and Morocco, that did not previously number among notable jailers of journalists. Nonetheless, around half of the total number of imprisoned journalists are being held in just five countries. China and Turkey are still the world’s two biggest prisons for journalists. They are followed by Syria, Iran, and Vietnam.Finally, 54 journalists are currently held by armed non-state groups such as Islamic State and the Houthis in Yemen. Almost three quarters of these hostages come from the ranks of local journalists, who are usually paid little and often have to take enormous risks. The foreign journalists currently held hostage were all kidnapped in Syria but little is known about their present location.See the full round-up here* These figures include professional journalists, non-professional journalists and media workers. December 18, 2017 – Updated on January 27, 2020 RSF round-up: these figures are alarmingcenter_img Reports Help by sharing this information Condemning abusesProtecting journalists ViolenceImprisonedHostagesDisappearances Related documents reporters_sans_frontieres_bilan_2017_en.pdfPDF – 4.66 MBcp_bilan_2017_rus.pdfPDF – 76.44 KB last_img read more

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Cyberdissident Ahmad Didi released, a photographer arrested

first_img Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release of Ahmad Didi, under house arrest since February 2005, who received a presidential pardon on 22 February along with another political dissident, Naushad Waheed. The following day, Ali Fahud, photographer on the weekly Adduvas, was arrested while covering an opposition demonstration. News September 12, 2018 Find out more News RSF_en MaldivesAsia – Pacific Maldivian president’s comms chief accused of sexually harassing journalist MaldivesAsia – Pacific Help by sharing this information News Organisation to go further April 23, 2018 Find out more RSF seeks press freedom pledges from Maldives presidential candidates July 15, 2020 Find out more Follow the news on Maldives News Receive email alerts RSF calls for open trial of Maldivian blogger’s accused murderers Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release of Ahmad Didi, under house arrest since February 2005, who received a presidential pardon on 22 February along with another political dissident, Naushad Waheed.The following day, Ali Fahud, photographer on the weekly Adduvas, was arrested while covering an opposition demonstration.The press freedom organisation urged the Maldives government to extend the same leniency shown to Ahmad Didi to Ali Fahud and to Jennifer Latheef, who has been under house arrest since 21 December 2005, and is in a poor state of health.Didi was arrested on January 2002, with three other cyberdissidents, Mohamed Zaki, Ibrahim Lutfy and Fathimath Nisreen, for working on an online newsletter, Sandhaanu, which exposed human rights abuses and corruption in the Maldives. Charged with defamation and “attempting to overthrow the government”, Zaki, Lutfy and Didi were sentenced to life imprisonment on 7 July 2002, and Fathimath Nisreen to ten years.Lutfy managed to dodge police surveillance in May 2003, while having an operation in Sri Lanka and now lives in political exile in Switzerland. Fathimath Nisreen and Mohamed Zaki were released respectively on 9 May and 18 August 2005.Naushad Waheed was arrested in December 2001 and sentenced on 12 October 2002, to 15 years in prison for supplying Amnesty International with reports on human rights abuses in Maldives. Police arrested Ali Fahud, photographer on the magazine Adduvas, while he was covering a demonstration by the Maldivian Democratic Party in front of the parliament on 23 February. Eight other people were arrested and taken handcuffed to a police station in Malé. Ali Fahud was clearly identifiable as a reporter when he was arrested.Elsewhere, Jennifer Latheef, journalist on the daily Minivan and a human rights activist, was sentenced on 18 October 2005 to ten years in prison for a “terrorist act”. After three months in detention in appalling conditions, she was allowed to return home on 21 December where she remains under house arrest. The young woman is suffering from spinal injuries.Reporters Without Border is also closely following the case of another journalist on Minivan, Abdullah Saeed (alias “Fahala”), who is currently on trial in a drugs case. His newspaper said that this charge was just a pretext to punish him for his political opinions.————-Create your blog with Reporters without borders: www.rsfblog.org February 23, 2006 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Cyberdissident Ahmad Didi released, a photographer arrestedlast_img read more

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Journalists scapegoated in “Occupy Gezi” crisis

first_imgNews Journalists threatened with imprisonment under Turkey’s terrorism law Help by sharing this information June 12, 2013 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Journalists scapegoated in “Occupy Gezi” crisis News TurkeyEurope – Central Asia Read in Turkish/ TürkçeAt least three journalists were injured during the clashes that occurred yesterday when the police used force to clear Istanbul’s Taksim Square of protesters.“We are becoming increasingly concerned about the dangerous climate for journalists covering Turkey’s protest movement,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Two weeks after the start of the anti-government protests, journalists are the targets of police violence, threats from government officials, and protester suspicion. We urge all parties to respect journalists and refrain from attacking them.”New round of violenceA tear-gas canister fired by police hit Osman Terkan, a reporter for the Islamist daily Star, in the hand, breaking one of his fingers. Jivan Güner, a trainee reporter with the EPA news agency and a student at Istanbul’s Marmara University, was hit on the head by a projectile of unknown origin. She was given a head X-ray and stitches to her injury at Taksim Hospital and then discharged.Mathias Depardon, a French photographer who strings for Le Monde and The Wall Street Journal, was hit by a projectile fired by the police. The projectile – he did not know if it was a tear-gas canister or rubber bullet – struck the mask he was wearing and his shoulder, causing a minor injury to the shoulder.Well-known freelance journalist Ahmet Sik, who had already been injured on 31 May, has hit on the head by a tear-gas canister again yesterday but was not hurt because he was wearing a helmet.“I have worked in war zones but Taksim was terrible,” he told Reporters Without Borders. “The security forces were hunting people down. Media personnel are targeted twice over. By demonstrators who think they are siding with the government and not covering events properly. And by the security forces, who deliberately fire at us.”Reporters Without Borders has meanwhile learned that Lorraine Klein, a French journalism student who was violently arrested on 4 June and was threatened with deportation, was finally released on 8 June.Censorship and threatsFour TV stations that have been giving the “Occupy Gezi” movement particularly close coverage – Halk TV (which supports the opposition CHP party), Ulusal Kanal (a nationalist station), Cem TV (an Alevi station) and EM TV – have received stiff fines from the Radio and TV High Council (RTÜK), Turkey’s broadcast media regulator.RTÜK accused them of “harming the physical, moral and mental development of children and youths” by broadcasting footage of the clashes. These stations have boosted their popularity in recent weeks by their detailed coverage of the protests, in contrast to other stations that ignored them for several days.Halk TV managing editor Hakan Aygün told Reporters Without Borders that the fine was designed to intimidate the station’s journalists and impose the government view of the protest movement. RTÜK’s members are named by Turkey’s political parties, in which the ruling party has the majority, he explained.“We were fined by the six elected members chosen by the ruling AKP party,” he said. “The other three members objected, but they were unable to prevent the fine.” Aygün added that Halk TV would take the case to the European Court of Human rights if RTÜK’s decision was not overturned on appeal. This would be a first for Turkey’s privately-owned national TV stations.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is continuing to verbally attack the media, accusing them of sensationalizing the protests for the benefit of certain interest groups. Last week, he said Twitter was a “problem,” while Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç accused the international media of working with “external forces” in an attempt to destabilize Turkey.Freedom for Journalists (GÖP), a coalition of Turkey’s main journalists’ associations, condemned the police violence in a press release yesterday. Several hundred journalists demonstrated in support of the “Occupy Gezi” movement six days ago in response to a call from the Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS). They also urged their colleagues to respect journalistic ethics and provide the protests with balanced coverage.Photo by: Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP News Receive email alerts Turkey’s never-ending judicial persecution of former newspaper editor April 28, 2021 Find out morecenter_img April 2, 2021 Find out more April 2, 2021 Find out more Human rights groups warns European leaders before Turkey summit RSF_en Follow the news on Turkey to go further Organisation TurkeyEurope – Central Asia Newslast_img read more

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HUD Provides Snapshot of Housing Market Health

first_img The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Subscribe HUD Provides Snapshot of Housing Market Health Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago in Daily Dose, Featured, News Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Share Save Related Articles Previous: Auction.com Welcomes New SVP of Auction Portfolio Operations Next: CoreLogic Appoints SVP of Government and Industry Relations Home / Daily Dose / HUD Provides Snapshot of Housing Market Health Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Sign up for DS News Daily  Print This Postcenter_img Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Kendall Baer is a Baylor University graduate with a degree in news editorial journalism and a minor in marketing. She is fluent in both English and Italian, and studied abroad in Florence, Italy. Apart from her work as a journalist, she has also managed professional associations such as Association of Corporate Counsel, Commercial Real Estate Women, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Project Management Institute for Association Management Consultants in Houston, Texas. Born and raised in Texas, Baer now works as the online editor for DS News. About Author: Kendall Baer The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) latest housing scorecard provides a snapshot of the recovery of our nation’s housing market during August, according to a recent report from the agency. HUD states that as they look back, the agency has witnessed notable progress among key indicators. These include a surge in new home sales, increasing home values, and a continued decline in foreclosure starts and completions. HUD states that although this scorecard notes that the housing market is on a healthy trajectory, they believe that the industry must still stay committed to helping American families and homeowners.HUD dives deeper into these indicators so further assess the health of the housing market first noting that July purchases of new homes surged to the fastest pace since October 2007. The report states that additionally, new single-family home sales rose 12.4 percent in July to 654,000 (SAAR) and were up 31.3 percent over a year earlier.The report also examines the indicator of increasing home values by noting that home prices were up again in June with annual house price changes remaining fairly stable in a 5- to 6-percent range. HUD cites that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index for June estimated that home values rose 0.2 percent over the previous month and 5.6 percent over the previous year. This was a slight decrease from an annual gain of 5.7 percent in May. In addition, the report states that the FHFA index shows that U.S. home values are now 3.5 percent above their previous peak set in March 2007 and stand 30.8 percent above the low point reached in March 2011.The final key indicator that HUD explores is foreclosure starts and completions. The report notes that these rates continue to fall specifically citing how lenders started the public foreclosure process on 36,863 U.S. properties in July, and stating that this is a decrease of 5 percent from June and 19 percent from a year earlier. Likewise, HUD notes that newly initiated foreclosures have declined for the last four consecutive months and have been below the pre-crisis (2005 and 2006) monthly average of 52,280 since March 2015. The scorecard also shows that lenders completed the foreclosure process (bank repossessions or REOs) on 27,907 U.S. properties in July, which was a decrease of 8 percent from the previous month and 41 percent from a year ago. The report says that this is the fifth consecutive annual decline in foreclosure completions.The report also takes the time to mention that the Administration’s programs continue to help struggling homeowners with nearly 10.8 million mortgage modifications and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements completed between April 2009 and the end of July 2016. The report states that additionally, nearly 2.7 million homeowner assistance actions have taken place through the Making Home Affordable Program. This includes more than 1.6 million permanent modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has offered nearly 3.3 million loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions through July. HUD states that they believe these Administration programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with lenders offering families and individuals nearly 4.8 million proprietary modifications through June.The report shares that while this reflects good news overall, they want to mention that the Administration remains committed to helping more Americans realize their dream of home ownership through an improving economy and new programs that will provide greater access to credit. Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Tagged with: FHFA Foreclosure Starts Home Prices HUD scorecard Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago FHFA Foreclosure Starts Home Prices HUD scorecard 2016-09-19 Kendall Baer September 19, 2016 1,566 Views last_img read more

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Sinn Fein say Irish Water meeting at Donegal Co Council is PR stunt

first_img Twitter 75 positive cases of Covid confirmed in North Further drop in people receiving PUP in Donegal Homepage BannerNews Pinterest Sinn Fein have confirmed that they will not meet with Irish Water representatives in Lifford today.The party had requested that Irish Water meet them as a grouping in the County House today, but Irish Water said they’d only meet with Cllrs individually.Cllr Mick Quinn has claimed that the offer of ten minute meetings to individual Councillors by Irish Water is a P.R. stunt.And he said the meetings should have been held in public:Audio Playerhttp://www.highlandradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/mquinn.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Meanwhile a protest is to be held outside Donegal County Council’s office in Lifford.The public are invited to join the protest picket outside the Council offices at 10am on Monday. Main Evening News, Sport and Obituaries Tuesday May 25th WhatsApp By News Highland – January 26, 2015 Google+ 365 additional cases of Covid-19 in Republic Facebookcenter_img Pinterest Man arrested on suspicion of drugs and criminal property offences in Derry Previous articleDraw for Ulster U-21 Club Football ChampionshipNext articleXtra Vision to close in Strabane and Derry with loss of 10 jobs News Highland Gardai continue to investigate Kilmacrennan fire Facebook WhatsApp Sinn Fein say Irish Water meeting at Donegal Co Council is PR stunt Twitter RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Google+last_img read more

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Death row inmate Rodney Reed maintains innocence weeks before execution: ‘They’re going to be executing an innocent man’

first_img(ABC) Rodney Reed, 51, has spent the last 21 years on death row for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites. He is scheduled to be executed in Texas less than a month from now.(AUSTIN, Texas) — Rodney Reed has spent the last 21 years on death row for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites, and he is scheduled to be executed in Texas in less than a month.Reed’s family and legal team say new developments in the case exonerate him. Reed, 51, maintains his innocence.“Early on I was somewhat upset, just for knowing her. If I wouldn’t have known her, I wouldn’t have been associated with her [and] I wouldn’t be in this situation,” Reed told ABC News’ Deborah Roberts in a jailhouse interview on Wednesday. “But, this is the situation that was handed to me so I have [to] accept … that I did know her. I have to accept that there was a relationship. I have to accept that I’m here now for something that I didn’t do.”Reed, who is black, was convicted of Stites’ murder in 1998 and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. Bastrop County District Attorney Bryan Goertz said Reed has exhausted his option to appeal the case after appealing repeatedly from 2001 through 2015.“None of them look like me but I … grew up in the military. I was a military brat. … I figured that they would hear the evidence and know that I’m innocent,” Reed told ABC News. “Race played a big part. I didn’t see it at first. … I wasn’t seeing racism like that.”Reed has found support with local politicians and activists around the country, most famously including Kim Kardashian West. His supporters have called on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to stay his execution on Nov. 20.“I hope that the right people look at this case in the right way,” Reed said. “The evidence will speak for itself.”The Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization that works to free wrongly convicted people, picked up Reed’s case in 2001. Bryce Benjet, senior attorney at the Innocence Project, is representing Reed.Benjet’s team maintains that Reed and Stites were having a consensual sexual relationship while she was engaged to her fiancé. They argue that this explains why Reed’s DNA matched the semen found in Stites’ body.“We had a relationship,” Reed said. “She wasn’t going to marry Jimmy … I don’t think she loved him.”During the 1997 trial, the prosecution argued that this evidence showed that Reed raped Stites, and it ultimately led to his conviction.The Innocence Project has filed a number of motions to test DNA evidence collected at the crime scene. His legal team argues that the belt found at the crime scene, which was used to strangle Stites, was never tested for DNA.His defense team filed a federal lawsuit in August arguing that Reed’s civil rights have been violated because prosecutors and the state courts have repeatedly denied his DNA testing requests.“The battle has been a long 23-year nightmare for us,” Sandra Reed, Rodney Reed’s mother, told ABC News. “But through it all, just knowing the truth has kept us strong — has kept us in this fight for him. Just knowing he’s innocent.”Prosecutor Lisa Tanner told ABC News on Tuesday that she is still sure “the right man has been convicted beyond a reasonable doubt of Stacey Stites’ murder.”“I have spent more hours in my life in the last 22 years trying to figure out how Rodney Reed could’ve not killed Stacey Stites,” Tanner said. “Rodney Reed was a serial rapist. … The fact that his DNA was found on and in and around her body … the condition of her body, based on the condition of her clothing, based on the condition of the DNA [that] had obviously been deposited there that morning, when she was killed. That was the thing that was most irrefutable.”In 2017, the Texas Court of Appeals rejected Reed’s request for court-ordered DNA testing, citing issues with possible cross contamination in storage. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Reed’s request to review the Texas court’s ruling.Today, Reed says he tries “not to even entertain” the idea that he will die in three weeks.“I feel that the truth is out there,” he said. “They’re going to be executing an innocent man.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Builders are not ‘land-banking’ but their homes are too boring, says Letwin review

first_imgMP Oliver Letwin’s long-awaited investigation into land-banking by big developers has failed to find proof of the alleged practice.“The review found no evidence that speculative land-banking is part of the business model for major house builders, nor that this is a driver of slow build out rates,” Chancellor Phillip Hammond said during his budget speech yesterday.But big builders are not off the hook. The report also takes a highly critical view of the homes they build and calls for large estates to be constructed more creatively and offer a wider range of home designs.In recent years big developers have been accused by many experts and lobby groups of ‘land banking’ or ‘sitting’ on land for their own financial gain.But Letwin’s review instead points a finger at the uninspiring and ‘homogenous’ nature of the homes they built as the main culprit.His report concludes that too many developments and the properties within them look and feel the same and this makes them harder to sell – or ‘absorb into the market’, as he puts it.Greater diversityTo remedy the problem, Letwin recommends that new planning rules are introduced to force site developers containing more than 1,500 homes to offer a greater diversity and range of dwellings, and create more thoughtfully laid-out estate plans.This would be achieved both through 106 planning agreements and threatening to withdraw government funding of the newbuild sector if developers don’t play ball.He also suggests that a national committee be set up to advise local authorities when they are granting planning permissions for these ‘mini towns’, and that local authorities should be given more draconian powers to force developers to build more creatively.But Letwin’s land-banking report rejects forcing developers to reduce their prices to speed up sales, saying that “it would not be sensible to attempt to solve the problem of market absorption rates by forcing the major house builders to reduce the prices at which they sell their current, relatively homogenous products,” it says.“This would, in my view, create very serious problems not only for the major house builders but also, potentially, for prices and financing in the housing market.”land banking Oliver Letwin build out rates October 30, 2018Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Home » News » Housing Market » Builders are not ‘land-banking’ but their homes are too boring, says Letwin review previous nextRegulation & LawBuilders are not ‘land-banking’ but their homes are too boring, says Letwin reviewEstate agents would find it much easier to sell newbuild homes on larger sites if their developers were forced to more creative, says MP.Nigel Lewis30th October 201801,368 Viewslast_img read more

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SBU Prof: Streaming services are the future of TV

first_img Google+ WhatsApp SBU Prof: Streaming services are the future of TV Google+ IndianaLocalNews Twitter Pinterest WhatsApp (Sarah Welliver/The Elkhart Truth) If you’ve noticed that some of your local TV channels aren’t available with your cable or satellite provider, you’re not alone.For example, TEGNA and DirecTV are feuding, which means people in the Indianapolis market who have AT&T or DirecTV can’t get the local NBC affiliate. AT&T customers also haven’t been able to get WISH-TV all year long. Same thing with NexStar and DISH network, meaning DISH customers in Indy can’t get FOX or CBS.“Every three years, stations negotiate with these multi-program providers,” says Dom Caristi, a telecommunications professor at Ball State University. “What we’re seeing is one of these three-year periods, where they have to re-negotiate. It’s all about money.”Caristi says these contract talks going nowhere is leading to local channels going dark, and that’s just another reason why more and more people are “cutting the cord.”“Six million people will stop paying for cable and satellite this year. Just this year,” he said.Those people are turning to the hundreds of streaming options that are now available, whether it be Hulu, YouTubeTV, Disney+, NBC’s Peacock or others.“People have complained about cable packages, like ‘I don’t want to pay $100 per month and get all of these channels I don’t want. I just want to pay for the five or six channels that I want to watch.’ Well guess what? That’s coming,” Caristi said. “It’s mostly younger people who are quite content paying for one, or two, or even three ‘over-the-top’ services.”Caristi believes streaming services are the future.“Once upon a time, cable was a service that was available in 80 percent of American homes,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it were only in 40 percent in ten years.”However, he says cable and satellite won’t go away entirely, because there are still some people that like the option of having 300 channels all in one place.“The idea is that you need a universal search service, kind of like Google, that will allow you to find the program you want on the service you want.” Facebook Pinterest Facebook Twitter Previous articleBeing single in IndianaNext articleGovernpr Holcomb pleased to see local officials step up virus control Network Indiana By Network Indiana – December 6, 2020 0 174 last_img read more

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Bob Weir Receives Lifetime Achievement Award From Americana Music Association

first_imgWeir also got to perform at the ceremony, treating fans to a thematically-appropriate rendition of “Mama Tried” in honor of the late Merle Haggard. Watch a clip below. After a spectacular summer out on the road with Dead & Company, guitarist Bob Weir has been really working on himself of late. Weir has a new solo album due out on September 30th, fans will get to hear his first new batch of original songs in over 30 years. Considering Bobby’s 50+ year career in music and revitalized solo career, it’s no wonder he was honored at last night’s Americana Honors & Awards ceremony, hosted by the Americana Music Association.It’s also no wonder that Weir was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the event, as his musical legacy is simply extraordinary. Between his songs written for the Grateful Dead and his countless years on the road, Weir is an embodiment of the Americana music culture. Congratulations!last_img read more

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A.R.T. reaps Tony Awards notice

first_imgWhen Diane Paulus heard that her production “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” garnered 10 Tony Award nominations, she burst into tears. Then she got back to business.The American Repertory Theater’s (A.R.T.) indefatigable artistic director was on the early morning train to Manhattan to attend auditions for the theater’s upcoming production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” when the text messages started pouring in and the nominations started piling up, including one to Paulus as best director, and one to “Porgy” as best revival of a musical.“I was texting back, ‘Are you sure?,’ ” said the director, who started to cry, but then promptly began trying to sell season tickets to her seatmate, a resident of a Boston suburb who was lamenting his lack of engagement with the theater.“It was a classic moment,” she said. “There I was, selling him a subscription to the A.R.T.”Even before “Porgy” premiered, Paulus had drawn criticism from veteran composer Stephen Sondheim for tinkering with the classic. But she persevered with her vision, with approval from the Gershwin estate and the help of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Suzan-Lori Parks and two-time Obie Award winner Diedre Murray. She also had support from stars Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis, who both eventually earned Tony nominations for their performances. The show premiered at the A.R.T. last fall before moving on to Broadway.“We never thought we would encounter the ride that we ultimately went on. This moment is just a very happy part of that ride, and is a tribute to the team’s work,” said Paulus in praise of her collaborators. “For me, as a director, there is nothing more gratifying than having your team recognized.”And the accolades keep coming. Monday night, her musical received two Elliot Norton Awards, which recognizes excellence in Boston-area theater. “Porgy” won for Outstanding Musical (Large Theater), and McDonald won for Outstanding Musical Performance (Actress, Large Theater).Paulus was also thrilled that another production with ties to the A.R.T. garnered a slew of Tony nominations. British theater director John Tiffany, who was a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study last year, workshopped his musical “Once,” based on the low-budget hit film about a pair of aspiring musicians, at the A.R.T. last year. The show received 11 nominations.Tiffany is the associate director of the National Theatre of Scotland, a nomadic production company that likes to stage shows in unlikely locations such as a museum, a ferry, and a forest, in keeping with its motto: “Theatre without walls.”He connected with Paulus while at Radcliffe, and the two directors, who both love breaking theater’s boundaries, became fast friends. “I have admired his work for years,” said Paulus. “He shares a very passionate feeling about theater as an event, and audience.”While at Harvard, Tiffany had directed a show with students from the American Repertory Theater / Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, and Paulus encouraged him to bring his work-in-progress “Once” to Cambridge for fine-tuning. Tiffany polished the production at Oberon with a mix of performers from the institute and professional actors.As a result, institute student Erikka Walsh went on to Broadway as a member of the cast, and the A.R.T.’s sound designer and engineer Clive Goodwin received a Tony nomination for the best sound design of a musical for his work.“Nothing made us happier than seeing that show so deeply recognized as well,” said Paulus. “It was this amazing day for the A.R.T.”The dynamic director, who will direct “The Glass Menagerie” next February, is quick to draw a connection between the Tony nominations and Harvard President Drew Faust’s commitment to the arts. “I feel so strongly the recognition A.R.T. received is truly a tribute to the level of artistic work being done at Harvard University,” Paulus said, “and the support and the commitment that this University shows to excellence in the arts.”After her first brush with the Tonys — Paulus’ hit revival of “Hair” won the 2009 Tony for best revival of a musical — she knows what to expect of the awards ceremony.“It’s kind of surreal,” she said of the show, which lasts for several hours and employs seat fillers, people who rush to sit in an empty seat when its occupant gets up so the viewers at home see a theater that is perpetually full. She also knows to arrive prepared, thanks to the famed British director Phyllida Lloyd, who sat behind Paulus in 2009 with plenty of treats to ward off hunger.“She told me,” said Paulus, “you have to bring snacks.”last_img read more

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