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‘Thrones,’ ‘Fleabag’ Top Emmys, Billy Porter Makes History

“Game of Thrones” resurrected the Iron Throne at Sunday’s Emmy ceremony, ruling as top drama on a night of surprises in which “Pose” star Billy Porter made history and the comedy series “Fleabag” led a British invasion that overturned expectations.”This all started in the demented mind of George R.R. Martin,” said “Game of Thrones” producer David Benioff, thanking the author whose novels were the basis of HBO’s fantasy saga.Porter, who stars in the FX drama set in the LGBTQ ball scene of the late 20th century, became the first openly gay man to win a best drama series acting Emmy. “God bless you all. The category is love, you all, love. I’m so overjoyed and so overwhelmed to have lived to see this day,” said an exuberant Porter, resplendent in a sparkling suit and swooping hat. Amazon’s “Fleabag,” a dark comedy about a dysfunctional woman, was honored as best comedy and earned top acting honors for its British creator and star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and a best director trophy.Phoebe Waller-Bridge, winner of the awards for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, outstanding comedy series and outstanding writing for a comedy series for “Fleabag.””This is getting ridiculous,” Waller-Bridge said in her third trip to the stage to collect the top trophy.Her acting win blocked “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus from setting a record as the most-honored performer in Emmy history.”Nooooo!” a shocked-looking Waller-Bridge said as Louis-Dreyfus smiled for the cameras. “Oh, my God, no. Thank you. I find acting really hard and really painful. But it’s all about this,” she said, her acting trophy firmly in hand.In accepting the writing award earlier, she called the Emmy recognition proof that “a dirty, pervy, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys.”Porter, a Tony and Grammy Award winning actor, relished his groundbreaking moment, quoting the late writer James Baldwin, Porter said it took him many years to believe he has the right to exist.”I have the right, you have the right, we all have the right,” he said.English actress Jodie Comer was honored as best drama actress for “Killing Eve.” She competed with co-star Sandra Oh, who received a Golden Globe for her role and would have been the first actress of Asian descent to win an Emmy in the category.”My mum and dad are in Liverpool (England) and I didn’t invite them because I didn’t think this was going to be my time. One, I’m sorry, two I love you,” Comer said after saluting Oh.Bill Hader won his second consecutive best comedy actor award for the hitman comedy “Barry.”Peter Dinklage, named best supporting actor for “Game of Thrones,” set a record for most wins for the same role, four, breaking a tie with Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad.””I count myself so fortunate to be a member of a community that is about nothing but tolerance and diversity, because in no other place I could be standing on a stage like this,” said Dinklage, a little person.”Ozark” star Julia Garner won the best supporting drama actress trophy.The auditorium erupted in cheers when Jharrel Jerome of “When They See Us,” about the Central Park Five case, won the best actor award for a limited series movie.”Most important, this is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five,” said Jerome, naming the five wrongly convicted men who were in the audience. They stood and saluted the actor as the crowd applauded them.It was the only honor for the acclaimed Netflix series of the evening; “Chernobyl” won the best limited series honor.HBO retained its durable front-runner status, with a total of 34 awards from Sunday and last weekend’s creative arts ceremony.Alex Borstein accepts the award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.But streaming hit new Emmy heights, powered by Amazon Prime winners “Fleabag,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and a “Very English Scandal,” and Netflix’s “Bandersnatch (Black Mirror),” honored as best movie. Netflix collected 27 awards and Amazon nabbed 15.Michelle Williams, honored as best actress for her portrayal of dancer Gwen Verdon in FX’s limited series “Fosse/Verdon,” issued a call to arms for gender and ethnic equality.She thanked the network and studio behind the project for “supporting me completely and paying me equally because they understood … when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. And where do they put that value, they put it into their work.””And so the next time a woman and, especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her,” Williams said.Patricia Arquette won the trophy best supporting limited-series or movie actress for “The Act.” She paid emotional tribute to her late trans sister, Alexis Arquette, and called for an end to prejudice against trans people, including in the workplace.Ben Whishaw took the category’s supporting actor trophy for “A Very English Scandal,” admitting in charming British fashion to a hangover.Alex Borstein and Tony Shalhoub of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won best supporting acting awards at the ceremony, which included early and varied messages of female empowerment after the hostless ceremony.”I want to dedicate this to the strength of a woman, to (series creator) Amy Sherman-Palladino, to every woman on the ‘Maisel’ cast and crew,” Borstein said, and to her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother survived because she was courageous enough to step out of a line that, Borstein intimated, would have led to her death at the hands of Nazi Germany.”She stepped out of line. And for that, I am here and my children are here, so step out of line, ladies. Step out of line,” said Borstein, who won the award last year.Shalhoub added to his three Emmys which he earned for his signature role in “Monk.” The awards opened without a host as promised, with an early exchange pitting Ben Stiller against Bob Newhart.”I’m still alive,” Newhart told Stiller, who introduced him as part of a wax museum comedy hall of fame that included Lucille Ball and George Burns.Kim Kardashian West and Kendall Jenner drew some mocking laughter in the audience when they presented their award after Kardashian West said their family “knows firsthand how truly compelling television comes from real people just being themselves.”An animated Homer made a brief appearance on stage until he was abruptly crushed, with Anderson of “black-ish” rushing in to, as he vowed, rescue the evening. He called “Breaking Bad” star Cranston on stage to tout the power of television from its beginning to the current golden age.”Television has never been bigger. Television has never mattered more. And television has never been this damn good,” Cranston said.

Kabul Musician Teaches Street Kids, Hopes For Future Harmony

In Afghanistan, where the Taliban once banned music, a young musician teaches her art to a new generation of children, including many street kids. Masooma Mohammadi worries the Taliban might regain power, but also hopes one day, her students and all Afghans will embrace music.  VOA’s Jim Randle has our story. 

‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Veep’ Aim for Records at Emmy Awards

Records could be broken at the 2019 Emmy Awards by “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.The HBO fantasy saga already has the most awards for a show in one season, 12, and it’s competing Sunday in seven categories.If Louis-Dreyfus wins top comedy actress honors for “Veep,” she’ll have a total of nine Emmys, the most ever for a performer.Other contenders to keep an eye on include Sandra Oh of “Killing Eve” and Billy Porter of “Pose,” both vying for top drama series acting awards.Oh could become the actress of Asian descent to win in the category, and Porter could be the first openly gay actor to nab a trophy.The 71st annual Emmy Awards airs at 8 p.m. EDT Sunday on Fox. 

US Kid Population Shrinking Faster than Expected

Sixty years ago, children accounted for more than one-third — 36% — of the U.S. population. Today, that CLICK ON GRAPHIC TO ENLARGE — Courtesy Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data CenterMeanwhile, the overall adult population has continued to climb since 2009.The decline in births might be attributable to the fact that young American adults in their 20s and 30s, among the hardest hit by the Great Recession of 2007-2009, are still recovering professionally and financially from their rough entry into the workforce, prompting them to postpone starting their families.Meanwhile, the graying of America continues. By 2030, all Baby Boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — will be over the age of age 65, meaning that 1 in every 5 residents will be of retirement age.Experts had expected the U.S. birth rate to stabilize by now. America’s senior citizens will need more young workers, not fewer, to help bolster economic safety net programs like Social Security, which was designed in 1935 primarily to provide retired workers with a continuing income.The program currently also serves disabled workers and their dependents as well as survivors of deceased workers.In 2014, there were 35 workers per every 100 people drawing Social Security benefits. By 2030, the number of workers is projected to drop to 44 for every 100 beneficiaries.As of June 2018, about 175 million workers paid Social Security taxes while approximately 62 million people received monthly Social Security benefits.

Revelers Reach Gates of Area 51 Then Peacefully Rejoin Party

Hundreds of curious Earthlings from around the world traveled to the secret Area 51 military base in the Nevada desert after seeing an internet hoax dubbed “Storm Area 51.”About 100 made it all the way to the gates of the remote site that has long been the focus of UFO conspiracy theories.
 
A Canadian was cited for indecent exposure, but nobody broke down the gates in search of three-eyed aliens and no UFOs appeared in the sky.Police officers guard an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51 near Rachel, Nevada, Sept. 20, 2019.It wasn’t long before the revelers peacefully rejoined 2,000 other people at alien-themed festivals in the tiny towns of Rachel and Hiko.As he walked away from one of the gates, 25-year-old Cyril Soudant of Lille, France, said he was disappointed at how few people were at the event.
 
He took video for his YouTube channel and said he would wait until Friday night to make his final assessment on the experience.”If we get together, have some music, have some beers, that would be a success,” Soudant said.  
 
Among the revelers was Jade Gore, who quit her job at a Dairy Queen in Worthington, Minnesota, and drove to Nevada with Tracy Ferguson. They wrote “Area 51 bound” and “Comin 4 Dem Alien Cheeks” in green paint on the windows of their car.”People were taking pictures and laughing the whole way,” said Gore, 19, who sported dyed green hair and eyebrows.  
 
Ferguson, a truck driver, said they decided to make the trip after seeing the social media post in June calling for people to converge on the remote U.S. Air Force test site.”It started as a joke and now people are getting to know each other,” said Ferguson, 23, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
 
Authorities expected more people to arrive throughout the day for the festivals offering music and other alien-related activities.
 
They were sternly discouraged by the military and other law enforcement from acting on the internet hoax that joking said, “They can’t stop all of us. Let’s see them aliens.”People holds signs at an entrance to the Nevada Test and Training Range near Area 51 near Rachel, Nevada, Sept. 20, 2019.A music group called Wily Savage erected a stage Thursday near the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel and began playing after dark for several hundred campers who braved temperatures that dropped to about 45 degrees (7 Celsius).”It started as a joke, but it’s not a joke for us,” Wily Savage guitarist Alon Burton said. “We know people will come out. We just don’t know how many.”Daniel Martinez, 31, a dealer of Pokemon collectible cards from Pomona, California, was among the first to whirl and dance at the dusty makeshift festival grounds. He stayed warm beneath a wolf “spirit hood” and faux fur jacket.”Here’s a big open space for people to be,” he said. “One person starts something and it infects everybody with positivity. Anything can happen if you give people a place to be.”Another gathering was planned Friday and Saturday at the Alien Research Center souvenir store in Hiko. Owner George Harris said his “Alien Basecamp” would focus on music, movies and talks about extraterrestrial lore.Hiko and Rachel are a 45-minute drive apart on a state road dubbed Extraterrestrial Highway, and a two-hour drive from Las Vegas.Michael Ian Borer, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sociologist who researches pop culture and paranormal activity, called the festivities a blend of interest in aliens, the supernatural, government conspiracies and the desire to know what is unknown.”Area 51 is a place where normal, ordinary citizens can’t go. When you tell people they can’t do something, they just want to do it more,” Borer said.

Music Starts for Earthlings Around Area 51 Events in Nevada

Sound checks echoed from a distant main stage while Daniel Martinez whirled and danced at dusty makeshift festival grounds just after sunset in Rachel, the Nevada town closest to the once-secret Area 51 military base.Martinez’s muse was the thumping beat from a satellite set-up pumping a techno tune into the chilly desert night Thursday.Warm beneath a wolf “spirit hood” and matching faux fur jacket, the 31-year-old Pokemon collectible cards dealer said people, not the military base, drew him drive more than six hours from Pomona, California, alone.“Here’s a big open space for people to be,” he said. “One person starts something and it infects everybody with positivity. Anything can happen if you give people a place to be.”Minutes later, the music group Wily Savage started, and campers began migrating toward main stage light near the Little A’Le’Inn.The music kicked off weekend events — inspired by an internet hoax to “see them aliens” — that Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said had drawn perhaps 1,500 people to two tiny desert towns.Lee said late Thursday that more than 150 people also made the rugged trip on washboard dirt roads to get within selfie distance of two gates to the Area 51 U.S. Air Force installation that has long fueled speculation about government studies of space aliens and UFOs.The Air Force has issued stern warnings for people not to try to enter the Nevada Test and Training Range, where Area 51 is located.Lee said no arrests were made.“It’s public land,” the sheriff said. “They’re allowed to go to the gate, as long as they don’t cross the boundary.”Authorities reported no serious incidents related to festivals scheduled until Sunday in Rachel and Hiko, the two towns closest to Area 51. They’re about a 45-minute drive apart on a state road dubbed the Extraterrestrial Highway, and a two-hour drive from Las Vegas.Earlier, as Wily Savage band members helped erect the wooden frame for a stage shade in Rachel, guitarist Alon Burton said he saw a chance to perform for people who, like Martinez, were looking for a scene in which to be seen.“It started as a joke, but it’s not a joke for us,” he said. “We know people will come out. We just don’t know how many.”Michael Ian Borer, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, sociologist who researches pop culture and paranormal activity, called the festivities sparked by the internet joke “a perfect blend of interest in aliens and the supernatural, government conspiracies, and the desire to know what we don’t know.”The result, Borer said, was “hope and fear” for events that include the “Area 51 Basecamp” featuring music, speakers and movies in Hiko, and festivals in Rachel and Las Vegas competing for the name “Alienstock.”“People desire to be part of something, to be ahead of the curve,” Borer said. “Area 51 is a place where normal, ordinary citizens can’t go. When you tell people they can’t do something, they just want to do it more.”Eric Holt, the Lincoln County emergency manager overseeing preparations, said he believed authorities could handle 30,000 visitors at the two events in Rachel and Hiko.Still, neighbors braced for trouble after millions of people responded to the “Storm Area 51” Facebook post weeks ago.“Those that know what to expect camping in the desert are going to have a good time,” said Joerg Arnu, a Rachel resident who can see the festival grounds from his home.Those who show up in shorts and flip-flops will find no protection against “critters, snakes and scorpions.”“It will get cold at night. They’re not going to find what they’re looking for, and they are going to get angry,” Arnu said.Some cellphones didn’t work Thursday in Rachel, and officials expect what service there was to eventually be overwhelmed.The Federal Aviation Administration closed nearby airspace, although Air Force jets could be heard in the sun-drenched skies, along with an occasional sonic boom.George Harris, owner of the Alien Research Center souvenir store in Hiko, said Friday and Saturday’s “Area 51 Basecamp” will focus on music, movies and talks about extraterrestrial lore.Electronic dance music DJ and recording artist Paul Oakenfold is Friday’s headliner in Hiko.The event also promises food trucks and vendors, trash and electric service, and a robust security and medical staff.Harris said he was prepared for as many as 15,000 people and expected they would appreciate taking selfies with a replica of the Area 51 back gate without having to travel several miles to the real thing.Sharon Wehrly, sheriff in adjacent Nye County, home to a conspicuously green establishment called the Area 51 Alien Center, said messages discouraging Earthlings from trying to find extraterrestrials in Amargosa Valley appeared to work.She reported no arrests or incidents Thursday.Her deputies last week arrested two Dutch tourists attracted by “Storm Area 51.” The men pleaded guilty to trespassing at a secure U.S. site nowhere near Area 51 and were sentenced to three days in jail after promising to pay nearly $2,300 each in fines.
 

Nigeria’s Disabled Athletes Face Surprising Challenges

Nigeria’s paralympic athletes have outshined their able-bodied counterparts in world competitions year after year. Yet, these athletes face such challenges as lack of proper training facilities and inadequate funding. Abdulazeez Ibrahim, who’s known as Nigeria’s para powerlifting champion, is training hard for the powerlifting competition at the Paralympic Games next year in Japan.In 2016, he was part of the disabled team who won medals for Nigeria at the Rio Paralympic Games.FILE – Roland Ezuruike of Nigeria kisses his gold medal following the men’s Paralympic Powerlifting competition, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sept. 9, 2016.Despite dominating world championships, Abdulazeez says the performances of Nigeria’s paralympic athletes are a result of their personal sacrifices and fighting spirits.”I’m a champion, but when you see me along the road, I’m not looking like a champion,” he said. “But go abroad, you see their champions. They’re disabled, see their lives, see their cars. It’s different. Every day, we always make Nigeria proud, and they don’t make us proud. Why?”Nigerian paralympians say they are treated like second-class athletes and get less funding than their able-bodied counterparts, who win fewer medals.Queen Uboh, president of Nigeria’s para powerlifting federation, agrees.”If they can give 10% of the attention they give to soccer or football to para powerlifting or para sports, I think that’s a good start,” Uboh said.Nigeria’s paralympians lack proper training facilities, too.At an underequipped facility in Abuja, para athletes like Abdulazeez say they’re making do with what’s available as they train for the Olympic Games.But a new sports minister, Sunday Akin-Dare, who took over a few months ago, is promising to address their issues.”I think what you do for this country in spite of the circumstances is very commendable. We invest so much in the able-bodied sports men and women. I think we should invest equally in the paralympics,” Akin-Dare said.Nigeria’s paralympic team won all four gold medals in the powerlifting category at the Commonwealth Games, followed by Malaysia and India.While Abdulazeez and his fellow athletes don’t have much to show for their wins, they’re hanging on a hope that things will get better.

French Experts Restore Three Sudanese Relics 

A team of French diggers has restored three Sudanese artifacts, including a 3,500-year-old wall relief, and it handed them to the African country’s national museum Thursday, a French archaeologist said. 
 
The three artifacts were discovered at separate archaeological sites in recent years in Sudan and were restored by a French team of experts. 
 
The items are a wall painting of an ancient Kandaka Nubian queen, a Meroite stela and a wall relief inscription believed to be almost 3,500 years old. A stela, discovered at Sedeinga pyramids, is displayed at the National Museum of Sudan in Khartoum, Sept. 19, 2019.”The idea is to give back to the museum the most important archaeological pieces discovered and restored,” said Marc Maillot, director of the French archaeological unit deployed in Sudan. 
 
The wall painting was found at El-Hassa site, the stela at Sedeinga and the relief at the temple of Soleb, where French diggers along with Sudanese counterparts have conducted extensive archaeological work for several years. 
 
On Thursday, the three artifacts were handed over to the Sudan National Museum to mark the completion of 50 years of French archaeologists’ presence in the country. 
 
For decades, international archaeologists have worked extensively in Sudan, proving that the northeast African nation has its own extensive wealth of ancient relics and was not merely a satellite of neighboring Egypt. 
 
Archaeologists are convinced that many kingdoms still lie buried, waiting to be discovered.