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‘Be Visible and Loud’ to Drive #MeToo Forward, Women Say

Women have to be “visible and loud” in their fight for equality to build on the gains of the #MeToo movement, activists said as they push for legal reform, an end to violence and equal pay.

From India’s female vigilantes who beat men accused of rape, to demonstrators in Argentina demanding safe abortions, women have been speaking out on local issues that matter to them, said Inna Shevchenko, famous for her topless feminist protests.

“The only way to change the situation is to be visible and loud,” said Shevchenko, who was granted asylum in France after receiving threats in 2012 for hacking down a cross in protest against the prosecution of Russian punk band, Pussy Riot.

“All these voices and campaigns have brought us to #MeToo. It is a key movement in the history of feminist movements and it will keep spreading,” she told Reuters on the sidelines of the annual Trust Conference in London.

The #MeToo movement that began in the United States a year ago, in response to accusations of sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment industry, has emboldened women to speak out, from Britain and France to India and Iran.

Tens of thousands of women have taken to social media to recount their experiences of being verbally abused, groped, molested and raped by bosses, teachers and family.

While women have been protesting over physical and sexual abuse for years, society has become more willing to listen since the emergence of #MeToo, campaigners say.

“You had to hear a Hollywood star speaking about an issue to pay attention to an issue that affects lives of so many women,” said Shevchenko, a Ukrainian who leads Femen, a Paris-based group of feminists.

Members of Femen, which started in Ukraine in 2008, have protested bare-breasted and painted with slogans in front of U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, and at comedian Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial.

The next frontier, activists said, is legal reform.

‘Accessible, affordable and efficient’

#MeToo led to the Times Up movement in the United States, which has raised $30 million in a defense fund to enable victims of sexual harassment to go to court, said Carol Robles-Roman, head of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality.

“What’s next after #MeToo in the United States is constitutional equality,” said Robles-Roman, a lawyer campaigning for the U.S. Constitution to be amended to expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.

“You can raise money to hire all the lawyers you want, but all it means is that the line to the courthouse is going to be that much longer with aggrieved women.”

Anjuli Pandit, who said she was harassed by her company’s chief executive in India but could not afford to take him to court, also called for legal reform.

“It needs to be accessible, affordable and efficient for a woman to access the law,” she told the annual Trust Conference in London.

“Because it’s difficult to use formal systems, and because its culturally taboo, many women in India don’t get up and tell their story,” she said.

‘Speak up’

In India, a law which allows someone who is accused of a crime to file a criminal defamation case against the victim for speaking out is used to intimidate women, she said.

Natalie Ponce De Leon, who underwent multiple corrective surgeries after a stalker hurled acid at her in 2014, also called for women to tell their stories to bring about change.

“Girls need to speak up. I understand that they feel scared but if they continue to be silent, then the violence will continue,” said Ponce, who has become a leading voice seeking stricter punishment for acid crimes in Colombia.

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Review: Smashing Pumpkins’ Album Shiny and Oh So Bright

It’s no question The Smashing Pumpkins has had a tumultuous past. Multiple iterations, breakups and solo careers later, three founding members of the 90’s Chicago-rooted rockers — Billy Corgan, James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin — are back to release their first collaborative album in 18 years, “Shiny and Oh So Bright, VolL. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.”

 

The title of the LP is fitting, considering there’s a past the band likely wants to leave behind.

 

The Smashing Pumpkins has teetered between dissolution and reconciliation since 1996, after the overdose death of touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin and the firing of Chamberlin. Members have been in flux ever since, with the current roster featuring Corgan, Iha and Chamberlin with guitarist Jeff Schroeder.

 

Ahead of their latest tour, one founding member, bassist D’arcy Wretzky, was left in the dark. The circumstances surrounding her exclusion from the band’s reunion started a feud between Wretzky and Corgan, complete with publicized text message screenshots and name-calling.

 

Peel away the dramatics and dysfunction that marked the launch of “Shiny and Oh So Bright” — and the Pumpkins’ past, for that matter — and you’re left with an album that stays true to the band’s classic sound with the help of legendary producer Rick Rubin.

 

Triumphant strings and distorted vocals open the album, as “Knights of Malta” crescendos to a choir singing with the guttural Corgan singing, “We’re gonna make this happen/I’m gonna fly forever.”

 

While the album captures the nonconforming spirit of eccentric frontman Corgan — swinging between manic, obsessive and edgy tracks like “Solara” and delicate, trance-like songs such as “With Sympathy” — overall, “Shiny and Oh So Bright” is no masterpiece. Songs build then fizzle, like “Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts),” a catchy tune lacking the chorus to be considered vintage Smashing, despite its nostalgic and distinctive Pumpkins feel.

 

Highlights on the 8-track album include “Travels” and “With Sympathy.” The optimistic “Travels” affirms the album’s commitment to “No Past. No Future.” in a fluid reality where Corgan sings, “See love, see time/see death, see life” before unfolding into a chorus of, “It’s where I belong/but far from here or else I’m gone.” There’s an element of opacity, common to Pumpkins lyrics, but one that manages to feel pleasantly unresolved by the anthemic track. “With Sympathy” pleads, “Please stay confused/disunion has its use,” but wraps itself in a comforting, steady melody.

 

“Shiny and Oh So Bright” brings hope that the band’s dark days are distant. Millions of Pumpkins fans certainly hope so.

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Roy Clark, Country Guitar Virtuoso, ‘Hee Haw’ Star, Has Died

Country star Roy Clark, the guitar virtuoso and singer who headlined the cornpone TV show “Hee Haw” for nearly a quarter century and was known for such hits as “Yesterday When I was Young” and “Honeymoon Feeling,” has died. He was 85.

Publicist Jeremy Westby said Clark died Thursday due to complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Clark was “Hee Haw” host or co-host for its entire 24-year run, with Buck Owens his best known co-host. Started in 1969, the show featured the top stars in country music, including Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, as well as other musical greats including Ray Charles, Chet Atkins and Boots Randolph. The country music and comedy show’s last episode aired in 1993, though reruns continued for a few years thereafter.

“‘Hee Haw’ won’t go away. It brings a smile to too many faces,” he said in 2004, when the show was distributed on VHS and DVD for the first time.

“I’ve known him for 60 years and he was a fine musician and entertainer,” Charlie Daniels tweeted on Thursday. “Rest In peace Buddy, you will be remembered.”

Keith Urban, who won entertainer of the year Wednesday night from the Country Music Association, also honored Clark on Thursday. “My first CMA memory is sitting on my living room floor watching Roy Clark tear it up,” Urban tweeted. “Sending all my love and respect to him and his family for all he did.”

Clark played the guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and other instruments. His skills brought him gigs as guest performer with many top orchestras, including the Boston Pops. In 1976 he headlined a tour of the Soviet Union, breaking boundaries that were usually closed to Americans.

And of course, he also was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

His hits included “The Tips of My Fingers” (1963), “Yesterday When I Was Young” (1969), “Come Live With Me” (1973) and “Honeymoon Feeling” (1974). He was also known for his instrumental versions of “Malaguena,” on 12-string guitar, and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009, and emotionally told the crowd how moving it was “just to be associated yourself with the members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and imagine that your name will be said right along with all the list.”

Clark won a Grammy Award for best country instrumental performance for the song “Alabama Jubilee” and earned seven Country Music Association awards including entertainer of the year and comedian of the year.

In his 1994 autobiography, “My Life in Spite of Myself,” he said “Yesterday, When I Was Young” had “opened a lot of people’s eyes not only to what I could do but to the whole fertile and still largely untapped field of country music, from the Glen Campbells and the Kenny Rogerses, right on through to the Garth Brookses and Vince Gills.”

Clark was guest host on “The Tonight Show” several times in the 1960s and 1970s when it was rare for a country performer to land such a role. His fans included not just musicians, but baseball great Mickey Mantle. The Yankees outfielder was moved to tears by “Yesterday When I Was Young” and for years made Clark promise to sing it at his memorial _ a request granted after Mantle died in 1995.

Beginning in 1983, Clark operated the Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre in Branson, Missouri, and was one of the first country entertainers to open a theater there. Dozens followed him.

He was a touring artist as late as the 2000s. Over the years, he played at venues around the world: Carnegie Hall in New York, the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo, the Grand Palace in Brussels and the Rossiya Theatre in Moscow.

Clark was born in Meherrin, Virginia, and received his first guitar on his 14th Christmas. He was playing in his father’s square dance band at age 15.

In the 1950s, Clark played in bands in the Washington, D.C., area. In 1960, he got the chance to front the band of country singer Wanda Jackson. He also performed regularly in Las Vegas. He got his first recording contract, with Capitol Records, in 1962.

He appeared on Jimmy Dean’s TV show “Town and Country Time” and took over the show when Dean left.

Clark and Owens worked together for years, but they had very different feelings about “Hee Haw.” Owens, who left the show in 1986, later referred to it as a “cartoon donkey,” one he endured for “that big paycheck.” Clark told The Associated Press in 2004 that “Hee Haw” was like a family reunion.

“We became a part of the family. The viewers were sort of part owners of the show. They identified with these clowns, and we had good music.”

Clark said the hour-long program of country music and corny jokes capped off his career.

“This was the icing on the cake. This put my face and name together.”

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At CMAs, Chris Stapleton Wins Big, Keith Urban Takes Top Prize

Chris Stapleton won the most awards at the 2018 Country Music Association Awards and had the show’s best performance, almost capping a perfect night.

That was until Keith Urban surprisingly won the top prize — entertainer of the year — moments before the three-hour show wrapped Wednesday night.

Urban’s actress-wife, Nicole Kidman, was in tears as the singer walked onstage to collect the award at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Baby girl, I love you so much,” he said. “I’m shocked beyond shocked.”

Urban last won entertainer of the year in 2005 and also beat out Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney for the prize.

“I wish my dad was alive to see this,” the Australian performer said.

Four awards for Stapleton

Stapleton, however, cleaned house at the CMAs, winning four awards including male vocalist, song and single of the year.

“I want to thank my kids who put up with me being gone quite a bit and not getting to be as a good daddy that I would always like to be,” said the father of four and soon to be five since his wife, singer-songwriter Morgane Stapleton, is pregnant.

Stapleton also won the performance of the night: His supergroup featuring Mavis Staples, Maren Morris, Marty Stuart and his wife gave a soulful and powerful performance of “Friendship,” a song made famous by Pop Staples, the iconic singer’s late father. They then performed “I’ll Take You There,” jamming onstage along with a choir. They earned a standing ovation from the audience.

When Stapleton won single of the year, where he won as both a performer and producer, earlier in the show, he said he was “thinking about the people in California right now” and he wants to “dedicate this award to them.”

He was referring to the 12 people who were killed at a Southern California country music bar last week, who were also honored at the top of the show when Garth Brooks led a moment of silence as the names of the victims were displayed on the screen.

“Tonight let’s celebrate their lives. Let the music unite us with love,” Brooks said.

The CMAs, which aired on ABC, also took time to honor those affected by the deadly wildfires in California.

“We send our love to you,” said Carrie Underwood, also mentioning the “brave firefighters.”

​Underwood wins female vocalist

Underwood worked triple-duty as co-host, performer and nominee at the CMAs. She was teary-eyed when she won female vocalist of the year.

“Thank you God. I have been blessed with so much in my life,” she said. “Thank you family. Thank you country music. Thank you country music family. … It’s all about family around here.”

She kept the positive and uplifting theme of the show going when she gave a rousing performance of her song “Love Wins.” It features the lyrics, “I believe you and me are sisters and brothers/And I believe we’re made to be here for each other.”

​Album of the year goes to Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves, the only woman nominated for album of the year, won the prize for “Golden Hour.”

“This is really, really crazy timing — 10 years ago today I moved to Nashville. That’s so crazy,” she said.

“I’m so proud of it,” she said of the pop-leaning country album, which was inspired by Sade, the Bee Gees and others. “It’s inspired by this beautiful universe, and all of you, and mostly love.”

Light-hearted moments

Dan + Shay lost in all four categories they were nominated in but gave an impressive performance of their hit “Tequila.” When Brothers Osborne won vocal duo of the year, John Osborne said, “I thought this was going to go to Dan + Shay. Make some noise for those boys.”

“I don’t know why we keep winning this,” John Osborne said when he first walked onstage.

“If this was in Florida there definitely would be a recount,” added T.J. Osborne, which earned laughs from the crowd.

Luke Combs, who has the year’s most-streamed country music album, sang onstage with a red cup in his hand and won new artist of the year.

“God, I love country music, man,” Combs said.

Brooks performed a touching new song dedicated to his wife, Trisha Yearwood, who was teary-eyed and was hearing the song for the first time. Recent Country Hall of Famer Ricky Skaggs performed alongside Brad Paisley and Urban.

Underwood and Paisley returned as CMA hosts for the 11th time this year, telling jokes at the top of the show, which ranged from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” to Underwood’s pregnancy.

Underwood seemingly revealed a secret about the child, saying it will be a “Willie” after Paisley repeatedly asked about the sex of the baby.

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Sigrid Nunez’s Novel ‘The Friend’ Wins US National Book Award

Sigrid Nunez’s “The Friend,” a meditative novel about grief, books and, not least, a Great Dane named Apollo, has won the National Book Award for fiction.

Other winners Wednesday included Jeffrey C. Stewart’s “The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke” for nonfiction and Justin Philip Reed’s “Indecency” for poetry.

On a night when those honored had roots throughout the world, from Peru to Japan, Elizabeth Acevedo’s “The Poet X” won for young people’s literature, and Yoko Tawada’s “The Emissary,” translated by Margaret Mitsutani, won for translation, a category newly revived.

Nunez, author of such previous novels as “Salvation City” and “The Last of Her Kind,” noted in her acceptance speech that she didn’t seek community when she became a writer, but unexpectedly found it.

“I thought it (writing) was something I could do alone and hidden, in the privacy of my own room,” she said. “How lucky to have discovered that writing books made the miraculous possible, to be removed from the world and be part of the world at the same time.

“And tonight how happy I am to feel a part of the world.”

Judges, who include writers, critics and other members of the literary community, chose from more than 1,600 books submitted by publishers when considering the awards. Winners in the competitive categories each receive $10,000. In translation, the prize money is divided between the author and translator.

Honorary medals were presented to novelist Isabel Allende and to Doron Weber of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Parks and Recreation” actor Nick Offerman hosted the ceremony and benefit dinner in Manhattan, presented by the National Book Foundation.

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Idris Elba’s Daughter Named Golden Globe Ambassador

Idris Elba’s daughter has been chosen as the Golden Globe Ambassador to assist with the glitzy awards ceremony.

 

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced Wednesday that 16-year-old Isan Elba will assume the ambassador title for the 76th annual Golden Globes Awards in January. Her 46-year-old father was named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine last week.

 

An ambassador is traditionally the child of a celebrity and assists with award presentations, handing out trophies to winners and escorting them off stage.

 

Elba is the second ambassador chosen after last year’s selection of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s daughter, Simone Garcia.

 

The HFPA rechristened the role, formerly known as Miss Golden Globe, in 2017. The association wanted to expand the role to help recognize the HFPA’s philanthropic efforts throughout the year.

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Sotheby’s: Marie-Antoinette Jewels Soar at ‘Once in a Lifetime’ Sale 

A royal treasure trove including jewels that belonged to French Queen Marie-Antoinette fetched 53.5 million Swiss francs ($53.2 million) on Wednesday, as collectors snapped up rare historic gems fresh to the market, Sotheby’s said.

Held in private European collections for more than 200 years, 10 royal jewels that belonged to the ill-fated Marie Antoinette and were passed down through Italy’s royal Bourbon Parma family, featured among 100 lots that all found new owners.

“The Marie Antoinette provenance is probably second to none.

It’s a record for a sale of royal jewels,” David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s international jewellery division who conducted the Geneva auction, told reporters.

The total exceeded the $50 million at its historic two-day auction of the Duchess of Windsor jewels, held in the Swiss city in 1987.

Bennett said that bidders in 43 countries participated in the Bourbon Parma sale. “It’s amazing when you think that these jewels, the majority of them, have not been seen in public for over 200 years. And so for collectors this was a once in a lifetime moment really,” he said.

Andres White Correal, a Sotheby’s jewellery expert, said: “I think we had said when we did the press conference for this sale that this was going to be the Sale of this Century. And I think that the results tonight prove that this is the case.”

The collection had a total pre-sale estimate of $4.5 million, but due to the historic provenance, bidding soared by phone, in the sale room and online, to reach many times that.

The top lot was an 18th-Century natural pearl and oval diamond pendant with a bow motif, which Marie-Antoinette would suspend from a three-row pearl necklace. The pendant soared to 36.4 million Swiss francs — which Sotheby’s said was a world record for a pearl — after 10 minutes of seesaw bidding.

The necklace with a diamond clasp fetched nearly 2.9 million, also drawing applause.

Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Archduchess who married the future King Louis XVI, secretly sent the jewels abroad in a wooden chest to her sister as they planned to escape from Paris.

But the royal couple was arrested in 1792 when the French Revolution overthrew the monarchy and executed by guillotine the following year. Their only surviving daughter Marie-Therese later retrieved the jewels in Vienna, which passed on through the Duke of Parma line.

The collection was sold off by descendents of Elie de Bourbon, Duke of Parma, whose wife was Marie Anne de Habsbourg-Lorraine, Sotheby’s said. It declined to name the sellers who were heirs to the couple’s eight children, all deceased.

A monogram ring, bearing Marie-Antoinette’s initials MA and containing a lock of her woven hair, had been estimated at $8-10,000, but soared in bidding to a whopping 447,000 francs.

“Prices really rocketed, some items sold for 25 times more than the pre-sale estimate,” said Sotheby’s Daniela Mascetti.

The top lot — the pearl and diamond pendant — was sold to a private collector bidding by phone, who asked to remain anonymous. The 10 lots combined fetched $42.7 mllion, Sotheby’s said.

At rival Christie’s on Tuesday, the “Pink Legacy,” a diamond weighing nearly 19 carats, fetched a record 50.375 million Swiss francs. It was purchased by U.S.-based luxury jeweller Harry Winston, owned by Swatch.

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Maná to Be Honored as Latin Grammys’ Person of the Year

Mexican rock band Maná will be honored as the Latin Recording Academy’s 2018 Person of the Year in a star-studded concert Wednesday, the eve of the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony.

 

Lead vocalist Fher Olvera, drummer Alex Gonzalez, guitarist Sergio Vallin and bass player Juan Calleros will be recognized during the event in Las Vegas for the band’s achievements and contributions to the Latin community and support of environmental protection and human rights causes. A variety of Latin stars, including Pepe Aguilar and the pop group Piso 21, will perform some of the influential band’s greatest hits.

 

“The band Maná started from way, way down,” Olvera told The Associated Press earlier this year. “Everything that happens in our lives as artists is a huge surprise … so to get to this point where we’re going to be `Person of the Year’ of such an important award ceremony is a big achievement. We were very inspired with the news.”

 

Maná has won six Latin Grammys and four Grammys and has released more than 48 No. 1 hits worldwide.

 

Its repertoire includes classics like “Vivir Sin Aire,” “Cuando los Angeles Lloran” and “Rayando el Sol.”

 

Maná has highlighted environmental, social, political and human rights issues for more than 30 years through its songs, concerts and, more recently, social media.

 

The band established the nonprofit Fundacion Ecologica Selva Negra in 1996. It works to preserve endangered species, offers educational programs on the environment and organizes community development projects.

 

Maná has also promoted the Latino vote in the U.S. and has denounced what it deems as social injustices in countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia.

 

Previous recipients of the honor include Shakira, Ricky Martin, Carlos Santana, Miguel Bose and Placido Domingo.

 

The Latin Grammy Awards will be presented Thursday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The show will be broadcast live beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern on Univision.

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Aretha Franklin’s ‘Amazing Grace’ Concert Film Finally Debuts

Three months after her death and 46 years after she first recorded it, Aretha Franklin’s live gospel concert is coming to the big screen.

“Amazing Grace,” filmed in January 1972 when the Queen of Soul was just 29 years old, follows Franklin over two nights giving a concert at the New Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

Belting out gospel songs like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Climbing Higher Mountains” and an 11-minute version of “Amazing Grace,” Franklin brought churchgoers and guests (including Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger) to their feet.

But Franklin herself stands still, saying little in the 90-minute film.

“It’s a church service. It’s basically just our aunt standing there singing,” Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece and executor of her estate, told Reuters Television.

“She doesn’t have much conversation with anybody beyond some of the technical crews that’s around her. At some point she asked about a key and other point she asked about water, but she’s just basically standing there singing, giving her all, doing what she does best,” said Owens, who is also a producer on the film.

The service was released as an album in 1972, becoming a best-seller for Franklin. But the film languished for years over problems with synchronizing the visuals and the audio. Advances in technology made it possible to fix that issue and producer Alan Elliott, who took over the project some 10 years ago, got agreement from Franklin’s estate following the singer’s death in August to finally release the film.

Owens said Elliott told her about the film some three years ago. “I had never even heard about it and he sent me the link, and I was like, ‘Oh wow! This is really good.'”

“Amazing Grace” got its world premiere in New York on Monday, winning warm reviews, and will get a limited release in the city and in Los Angeles in late November and early December, making it eligible for Hollywood’s awards season.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper said the film is “a spine-tingling sensation” while the Hollywood Reporter called it “somewhat shapeless as a movie… But it does contain moments of bliss.”

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