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Worth of a Girl: VOA Looks at Devastating Effects of Child Marriage

About 650 million girls worldwide were married before age 18. That is about 17% of the world’s female population, according to UNICEF. These marriages often keep girls from completing their education and can lead to devastating psychological and physical consequences. In a yearlong project, Voice of America met with child brides from Albania to Pakistan to Tanzania.Jesusemen Oni has more.

Bold Thinker Who Redefined US Architecture Receives Honor for the Ages

He is arguably America’s best known architect — in part because he was a shameless self-promoter — but Frank Lloyd Wright also possessed the talent and success to back up his boasts. And now eight of his designs are being recognized on a global scale. “The 20th century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright” was recently added to the list of  UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The designation is given to places that are deemed to have “outstanding universal value to humanity.” It’s rare for an architect to be designated by name on the list. Frank Lloyd Wright designed Taliesen, his home and studio in Wisconsin, to allow the sun to shine into every room sometime during the day. (Courtesy Taliesin Preservation)“I think Wright’s work was unique because he was unique,” says architectural historian William Richards. “Wright was calculating about his persona and he was an iconoclast who, I think, wore his uniqueness as a badge of honor.”The eight Wright structures, which include private homes, a church and a world-famous museum, are some of the only 20th-century pieces of architecture in the world to receive the honor.
 “They’re all fairly modest in scale,” says Richards of Wright’s works,“butthey had an absolutely outsized influence on generations of architects who thought about how we live in our homes, how we worship in our sanctuaries, how we use public space, and even how we engage artworks.”The American Institute of Architects calls Fallingwater, in Pennsylvania, which is partly built over a waterfall, the “best all-time work of American architecture.”UNESCO says the buildings reflect the “organic architecture” developed by Wright,  including an open plan, a blurring of the boundaries between the inside and outside of the house, and the unprecedented use of materials such as steel and concrete.  Wright didn’t pioneer the open floor plan coveted by today’s homeowners but his embrace of the concept helped popularize the design element.  Although Wright’s designs are up to a century old, they retain an air of modernity. One of the structures designated by UNESCO is the The Frederick C. Robie House, seen here in 1908, in Chicago, Ilinois.The Guggenheim Museum, New York City.Another Wright building on the list is the The Jacobs House in Wisconsin, was built in what Frank Lloyd Wright called the Usonian style, his vision of uniquely American affordable housing.“What he gave American architecture, I think, is a series of designs that are very clearly borne out of deep thinking, a concern for the landscape, and acknowledgement of the landscape, a design philosophy … something that could be defined as ‘American,’” Richards says. “I think that’s probably his biggest statement about architecture, which is that American architecture can’t possibly reference somebody else’s era, some other country’s heritage. It’s got to be expressly its own.” In his 70-year career, Wright designed 1,114 architectural works, 532 of which were actually built by the time he died in 1959. The American Institute of Architects considers Wright the “greatest American architect of all time.” To save costs, Frank Lloyd Wright used concrete to rebuild Unity Temple in Illinois, the only remaining Wright Prairie-style building that is open to the public. (Courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation)Wright also changed the course of American architecture. “Not because he gave architects something that they could repeat over and over again,” Richards says. “He gave them the OK really to pursue individuality whenever possible … he didn’t give them a formula to replicate his work, but he gave him kind of an invitation to be themselves.”The only other U.S. works of architecture on the list of World Heritage Sites list are Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia.  

A$AP Rocky Convicted of Assault in Sweden

A court in Sweden has found American rapper A$AP Rocky guilty of assault but he will not serve any more jail time.The court on Wednesday gave the rapper a suspended sentence.A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was arrested with three members of his team after a fight that took place in Stockholm June 30.  
Prosecutors alleged that Mayers and two members of his entourage repeatedly punched and kicked the victim during an attack that lasted several minutes. Prosecutors also accuse the rapper of hitting the victim with a glass bottle.The rapper, who said he was acting in self defense, spent nearly five weeks in detention but was released earlier this month, pending the verdict in his trial.President Donald Trump attempted to intervene in the case and had urged the release of A$AP Rocky. “We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem! #FreeRocky,” Trump said in a series of tweets about the matter.

Five Decades Post-Woodstock, Extracting Legacy from Myth

A generation-defining political statement, an epiphany of peace, three chaotic days that altered music history — the tropes of Woodstock are many, sometimes muddying meaning with myth.The festival carries significant cultural weight, but decades of rehashing its legend through the lens of nostalgia can leave the legacy of half a million youths partying in the rain feel less like a revolutionary subculture and more like a pop culture cliche.In 1969, American society was reeling from the draft, anti-Vietnam War protests, race riots and assassinations of figures like Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy — implicitly setting up Woodstock’s peace and love vibes as an antidote to the anger.”The mood in the country was a little bit like today. There was a sense of violence, of real hatred and division,” said Martha Bayles, a culture and music scholar at Boston College.Despite the sentimentality of baby boomers, however, Woodstock may strike younger generations as a simple iteration of the “narcissism of the sixties,” said Bayles, 71.In spite of the social and political turmoil of the decade, 1969 was also the last time the U.S. statistically ran a budget surplus until 1998 — partially thanks to war manufacturing. Education was cheap, and jobs plentiful.”That was one essence of Woodstock in 1969. Illusory or not, a certain abundance was taken for granted,” wrote Jon Pareles, a New York Times pop music critic who attended Woodstock.”We absolutely thought we were the center of the universe,” he wrote. “And afterward, someone else had to clean up the giant mess we left behind.””Insert the global-warming analogy.”Political influence?While Woodstock included some obviously political protest songs, Bayles called the popular notion that Woodstock was political a “misunderstanding.””To the anti-war movement, to the black power movement — nobody on that side of things saw Woodstock as anything but a joke,” Bayles told AFP.For activists, Woodstock “was a bunch of druggie hippies who were not serious; who didn’t understand how grave the situation was,” she said. “It was seen as silly and self-indulgent by the hardcore political crowd.”The most politically active artist on the line-up was folk artist Joan Baez, who recalls Woodstock as “a joy festival.””This three-day hoo-ha is an important thing. But it was not a revolution,” she told the New York Times. “A revolution or even social change doesn’t happen without the willingness to take risks.””And the only risk at Woodstock was not being invited.”Musical milestoneBut stylistically Bayles said the music that Woodstock brought to the fore lent the festival cultural clout.It showcased a rock genre rooted in American folk, blues and gospel traditions that gave a generation a common thread despite stark societal fissures.”The music did unite all the different sectors of that generation,” she said. “Working people, elite students, soldiers.”Commercialization and packaging underpin today’s festival circuit, but inklings of Woodstock’s spirit remain, according to Bayles, who said it was also a precursor to rave culture.”The power of it really had to do with the music and the crowd,” she said. “This illusion that people had that they were all being swept up into some kind of transcendent collective experience.”Industry-wise, Danny Goldberg, who covered the festival for Billboard at age 19, said post-Woodstock, resources were reallocated to promote rock music in a way that hadn’t been done before.”It certainly demonstrated to the big concert promoters, the big record companies, and the big broadcasters, that the audience for what then was called ‘underground music’ — kind of album-oriented rock music — was significantly bigger than had previously been perceived,” he said.”It was certainly an inflection point in the music business.”Beginning of the endThe 1970 release of the more than three-hour Oscar-winning documentary “Woodstock” burnished the festival’s image from chaotic mud fest to utopian village of peace.For Goldberg, 69, the film played a large role in mythologizing Woodstock.By the time Jimi Hendrix played his now legendary feedback-heavy abstraction of the U.S. national anthem on Monday morning, most people had already left — but its central place in the movie gave the performance symbolic heft and political undertones, Goldberg said.”Suddenly and intangibly we kind of expanded the notion of what patriotism was,” he said.Though the hippie movement did leave residues of influence on mainstream culture, like environmental activism or the prevalence of yoga, Goldberg said “it got too big to be a subculture anymore.””It became an object of satire instead of an object of idealism,” he said. “That counterculture aspect of Woodstock’s legacy — it was the end of something, more than the beginning of it.”  

Rep: K-Pop Superstar Group BTS Will Take Break, But Brief

A representative for K-pop superstar group BTS said Tuesday the boy band is taking a break, but it will only be brief.BTS’s rep told The Associated Press that the seven-member group will take a “well-deserved vacation.” It was recently reported that BTS will head on an “extended” hiatus, but the group’s rep said that’s not the case.”It has been widely reported that BTS will be taking a hiatus. To clarify, BTS will only be taking a brief, but well-deserved vacation,” the group’s rep said in an emailed statement. “We want to assure all of the BTS ARMY, fans, friends and the media that the group is excited to get back on the stage very soon for their scheduled stadium tour. More exciting BTS news and events to come!”BTS’s agency Big Hit Entertainment said a concert Sunday in Seoul was the group’s last scheduled performance before members take “vacations” for the first time since their 2013 debut.The agency didn’t say when BTS will start performing again. The company’s website said BTS is scheduled to perform in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Seoul in October.BTS has a large international following and was the first K-pop act to debut atop the Billboard Album chart last year with “Love Yourself: Tear.”

Q&A: Francis Ford Coppola on ‘Apocalypse Now’ 40 Years Later

If filmmaking is a war, then “Apocalypse Now” was very nearly Francis Ford Coppola’s Waterloo.The battles Coppola fought while making his 1979 epic nearly destroyed him. A typhoon wrecked a major set. Harvey Keitel was replaced by Martin Sheen. Coppola searched desperately for an ending. He worked even harder to coax a few lines out of Marlon Brando.But out of that tumult Coppola created a masterpiece. And 40 years later, “Apocalypse Now” has never looked so good.Coppola has supervised a 4K restoration of the film and, for the second time, tweaked the cut. Having perhaps gone too far in his 2001 “Redux,” which added 53 minutes, “Apocalypse Now Final Cut,” which opens in theaters Thursday and on home video Aug. 27, splits the difference at 183 minutes.In its present and restored form, the majesty and madness of “Apocalypse Now” is more vivid and hallucinatory than ever. Coppola considers it the definitive version. It completes a four decade journey turning what was almost a mess into the masterwork he envisioned from the start.   Coppola, 80, has lately been busy with equally audacious plans.In 2017, he published a book, “Live Cinema and its Techniques,” about his experiments and hopes for a new art form that combines cinema, television and theater in a live experience. He’s also recently returned to a long delayed passion project, “Megalopolis,” a sprawling sci-fi, New York-set epic. Coppola has been working on the script and casting, and searching for production partners. “Or maybe now it’s at the stage I can do it by myself, I don’t know,” he says.   In a recent interview, Coppola spoke about “Apocalypse Now” then and now, why he was “terrified” after making it and why he has so much trouble letting go.AP: You’ve talked before about the theatrical version of “Apocalypse Now” missing some of the “weirdness” you wanted. What did you mean?Coppola: In the 1979 version when it first opened, the various people who had sponsored it and were distributing it felt that it was too long and too weird. So we went through a tough few evenings trying to make it shorter and trying to make it appear more normal as opposed to “weird.” So we took some things out. Some of them were just 30 seconds long or a minute long but generally we were trying to make it shorter and less weird, which I guess is another word for “surreal.” After it was clear the movie had survived — meaning, you never know when you make a movie if its opening is going to be the last you heard of it or it’s going to have a life after that — I was looking at it on television and it didn’t seem so weird or surreal. It stuck out less as something unusual. For that reason, people kept saying to me, “Maybe you should have put back what you took out.”AP: Did you consciously want to put your stamp on the war movie?Coppola: The Vietnam War was different than other American wars. It was a West Coast sensibility rather than an East Coast sensibility. In war movies before “Apocalypse,” there was always a sort of Brooklyn character, an East Coast and Midwest personality. In “Apocalypse Now,” it was LA and it was surfing and it was drugs and it was rock `n’ roll so it was more of a West Coast ambiance to the war. In addition, there were many sort of odd contradictions that related to the morality involved. There was a line I once read that’s not in the film but to me it sums up the meaning of the movie. It was: “We teach the boys to drop fire on people yet we won’t let them write the word ‘f—‘ on their airplanes because it’s obscene.”AP: You’ve gone back and made changes to a number of your films. For you, is a film ever really finished?Coppola: The only reason I’m in a position to go back and evaluate some of these decisions is because I own the film, which is the same reason George Lucas looks at some of his movies. Obviously most filmmakers don’t own their films and would not be permitted to change a cut. But the version that you open with, you’re very concerned that it will have some longevity. And so you may do things for the opening that you’d rather not do but you don’t want to risk a negative reception because a film that opens with a negative reception is dead. If you can get it to be a positive reception or even a qualified positive reception then it has a chance of surviving. If you look at all the films I made, only “The Godfather” was just a runaway creative hit. Most of the other films were highly qualified and that meant that I was trying to nurse them into persisting and surviving. Later on, since I own them, I very often decided to undo things that were pushed on me by distributors or people at the time, and do what I wanted to do.AP: Eleanor Coppola, your wife, wrote in her “Notes” that you took on some of Kurtz’ megalomania while making “Apocalypse Now.”Coppola: Whenever I made a movie, I was always personally compared to the main character. When I was doing “The Godfather,” I was Michael Corleone, Machiavellian and sly. When I made “Apocalypse Now,” I was the megalomaniac. When I made “Tucker,” I was the innovative entrepreneur. The truth of the matter is all my life if I have been anything I’ve been enthusiastic and imaginative. I don’t have talent that I wish I had. My talent was more enthusiasm and imagination and a kind of prescient sense, a sense of knowing what’s going to happens before it happens. Other than that, my talent is limited.AP: A recent Film Comment essay lamented the film’s portrayal of the Vietnam as “a spectacular but soulless backdrop.”Coppola: It would have been interesting and good if the movie had been made in Vietnam. But the truth of the matter is when we were making “Apocalypse Now,” the Vietnamese War was only winding down. We did not have access to going there. We were making it in the Philippines and although we did have some Vietnamese people with us, it wasn’t the same as making it in Vietnam which would have made it possible to give an impression of the Vietnamese people, who I have only the highest regard for. When you make a war film, it’s from one side unless it’s “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and you’re deliberately deciding to depict both sides equally. This film was specifically about these young California Americans participating in this war, and that was the lens this film was made through.AP: Did you emerge from “Apocalypse Now” a different filmmaker?Coppola: Yeah, but no more than I was after the extreme experience of the “Godfather” movie. Every film I have made has been a new sheet of paper. I rarely would repeat a style. Every movie I worked on, I came out of it being a different person.AP: How did you feel after “Apocalypse Now”?Coppola: I was terrified. For one thing, I was on the hook for the whole budget personally — that’s why I came to own it. In addition, in those days interest was over 25, 27%. So it looked as though, especially given the controversy and all the bogus articles being written about a movie that no one knew anything about but were predicting it was “the heralded mess” of that year, it looked as though I was never going to get out of the jeopardy I was in. I had kids, I was young. I had no family fortune behind me. I was scared stiff. It was no different after “Godfather.” “Godfather” was a project I was constantly about to be fired from, that the studio hated what I was doing looked like. I didn’t think I was going to survive that. All of those movies, which were these monumental attempts at art, left me in a different place when I finished than when I started. But then it was followed by another one that was a similar challenge. I’m 80 now but from age 25 to 60, my life was one crisis after another.AP: Do you think you thrive in that kind of tumultuous environment?Coppola: When you attempt something that you don’t exactly know how to do but you still long to attempt it, you’re setting the stage for a certain style and struggle in life. Clearly if after I made the gangster movie that was successful, if I had just spent my entire career making gangster pictures, that would have been a more tranquil life. I wanted to learn. I realize now that one of my fundamental aspirations is learning. There’s nothing more pleasurable than learning something you don’t know how to do.AP: Is going back to your films to get them just right for you part of preserving your legacy? Do you think about how you want you and your work to be remembered?Coppola: I’m not so crazy about my legacy. I want people to know that I liked little kids and I was a good camp counselor when I was a camp counselor in 1957, that I have a family with wonderful children that I find so fascinating and very talented. But ultimately, to me, the greatest legacy you can have is that someone somewhere saw one of the things you did and it inspired them to do something that goes and then inspired someone else in the future. In a way, it’s a form of immortality.AP: Today, most directors seeking the scale of “Apocalypse Now” would likely only find it in a superhero film. Do you sympathize with them?Coppola: Absolutely. I feel now we have this bifurcated cinema in our country being of independent films where we have the most wonderful wealth of talent and then the industry films which are pretty much superhero films. One has too much money — the studio, Marvel comic-type movies. They’re basically making the same movie over and over again, and seducing all of the talent. Everyone is hoping to get a small part in one of those movies because that’s where the money is. And as opposed, the wonderful, unusual, exotic, interesting, provocative and beautiful independent films have no money. The budget for the craft service of one of those superhero films could more than be a budget for some of these brilliant young — and not only young — filmmakers. That is a tragedy.AP: The long life your films have had can lead to strange places. Prosecutors want to show “The Godfather II” during Roger Stone’s trial . Donald Trump has cited it as one of his favorite films.Coppola: The list of fans of the “Godfather” films not only includes the gentleman you speak of but also Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi. Just go through all of the toughest dictators in the modern world and their favorite movie is “The Godfather.”AP: What do you make of that?Coppola: Because “The Godfather” is an American story of an immigrant family that ultimately finds success in America. Success is not a bad thing but it depends on how you define it. If you define success as wealth, influence, power and fame, you have to know that does not bring happiness. We could go through the famous top 1% who have all the things we just mentioned and you’ll find some of the most unhappy people on Earth. What brings happiness is friendship, learning, creativity. We know what brings happiness. But what are you going to do when every nation in the world is pointing its main objective toward something that does not add up?

Not Just Bali: Indonesia Hopes to Develop More Tourism Sites

Hundreds of tourists, many of them young Westerners, sat on gray stone steps atop the world’s largest Buddhist temple, occasionally checking cellphones or whispering to each other as they waited for daylight.Sunrise wasn’t spectacular on that recent summer day. But even an ordinary dawn at Borobudur Temple — nine stone tiers stacked like a wedding cake and adorned with hundreds of Buddha statues and relief panels — provided a memorable experience.The 9th century temple is in the center of Indonesia’s Java island, a densely populated region with stunning vistas. Other highlights include the towering Hindu temple complex of Prambanan, like Borobudur a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Mount Merapi, the country’s most active volcano, whose lava-covered slopes are accessible by jeep.While the two temples draw many visitors, other foreigners head to the relaxing beaches of Bali, just east of Java and by far the most popular tourist destination in a nation of thousands of islands and almost 270 million people. More than 6 million tourists visited Bali last year, or about 40 percent of 15.8 million visitors to Indonesia overall, according to official figures.Local tourists take a selfie with the background of Mount Merapi, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 6, 2019. Yogyakarta and its hinterland are packed with tourist attractions, including Buddhist and Hindu temples of World Heritage.Recently reelected President Joko Widodo wants to change this dynamic by pushing ahead with “10 new Balis,” an ambitious plan to boost tourism and diversify Southeast Asia’s largest economy.Key to the plan is to upgrade provincial airports and improve access to outlying destinations, such as Lake Toba on Sumatra island, more than 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from Jakarta, the capital. Yogyakarta, the provincial city from where visitors head to Borobudur and Prambanan, is getting a second airport, expected to be fully operational later this year.Widodo has been promoting his plan in meetings with foreign leaders and in recent interviews, including with The Associated Press, in hopes of encouraging foreign investment. The president of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation told the AP in late July that as part of his push, he would like to see more business ties with the Middle East.“For investment and tourism, we would like to invite investors from the Middle East as much as possible because … we have many tourism locations in Indonesia, not only one or two or four, but many,” said Widodo. He did not give specifics.Muslim tourists, including from the Middle East, might also be an easier fit for some of the more conservative areas earmarked for tourism development. Tourism officials have played down the possibility of cultural friction that might accompany the influx of more non-Muslim visitors, arguing that Indonesia’s brand of tolerant Islam can accommodate everyone.“Maybe there are some particular locations that are very strict (religiously),” said Hiramsyah Thaib, who heads the “10 New Balis” initiative. “We believe we won’t have any problems. Sometimes we have problems in the media, but not in reality.”Yet Islamic hard-liners have become more assertive in recent years, potentially spooking investors by undermining Indonesia’s image as a moderate nation. Thaib said he believes investor confidence rose “significantly” after Widodo defeated former special forces general Prabowo Subianto in April’s presidential election. Subianto had been backed by Muslim groups favoring Shariah law.The tourism plan remains key to Widodo’s final five-year term, though at least one target — 20 million visitors this year — appears to have been too ambitious. The 2019 visitor tally is expected to be 18 million, based on current growth figures, said Thaib.Still, the Indonesian tourism sector grew by 7.8 percent in 2018, or twice the global average, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.Tourists inspect a Buddha statue at Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, Aug. 12, 2019.One of the 10 sites earmarked for development is the Borobudur Temple area and nearby Yogyakarta, a city of several hundred thousand people that is embedded in a large metro area. The city is a center of Javanese culture and a seat of royal dynasties going back centuries.In 2017, former President Barack Obama and his family visited the city, where his late mother, Ann Dunham, spent years doing anthropological research. Obama, who lived in Indonesia as a child, toured Borodbudur and Prambanan during the nostalgic trip.But while the Obamas got around with relative ease, including private jet travel, ordinary visitors struggle with congested streets packed with motorbikes weaving in and out of slow-moving traffic.Travelers hoping to be in place at Borobudur just before sunrise need at least 90 minutes to get there from Yogyakarta, a journey of 40 kilometers (24 miles). A 230-kilometer (140-mile) round trip to the Dieng highlands, with terraced fields, small temples and a colorful volcanic lake, requires a full day of travel, some of it on bumpy back roads.Anton McLaughlin, a 55-year-old visitor from York, England, said he was astounded by the number of motorbikes in the streets. Speaking during a jeep tour of the slopes of Mount Merapi, he said he’s become more aware of the natural disasters Indonesians endure regularly. Indonesia straddles the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Merapi’s last major eruption in 2010 killed 347 people, and the ruins of one destroyed hamlet were part of the tour.“People just seem to crack on with life,” McLaughlin said.Just a day after his tour, the volcano shot out hot clouds and lava that flowed 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) down its slopes. No casualties or damage were reported.Jan Tenbrinke, 37, from Zwolle in the Netherlands, said Bali is the next stop for his family of four, but that he hoped to get a better sense of Indonesian culture in Yogyakarta.In the city, tourists can visit workshops for Batik textiles, silver jewelry and Kopi Luwak — coffee made from partially digested coffee cherries that were eaten and defecated by wild tree cats, or civets. Billed as the “world’s most expensive coffee,” Kopi Luwak became known to a wider audience in the 2007 Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman movie “The Bucket List.”Local museums, including two royal palaces and a former Dutch fort, pose a challenge for foreign visitors eager to learn more about local history and culture because they mostly lack easily accessible explanations in English.Thaib, the tourism official, acknowledged that there is room for improvement. He said Indonesia is determined to catch up to other Asian nations, including Thailand, which he said began developing their tourism industries much sooner.“There is still a lot of work,” he said of his nation’s efforts. “We believe we are on the right track.”

Octavia Spencer To Be Honored by Gay-Rights Education Group

Octavia Spencer will be honored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network with its Inspiration Award at a gala later this year.The group known as GLSEN announced Tuesday that the star of “Hidden Figures and The Helpwill”” receive the honor at the group’s Respect Awards, presented in October in Beverly Hills, California.
GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said in a statement that Spencer “has devoted her career to diverse storytelling, promoting social good and is a steadfast ally for the LGBTQ community.”GLSEN was founded in 1990 to address LGBT issues in K-12 education, and has presented the Respect Awards since 2004.
The group’s past honorees have included Kerry Washington and Ellen Pompeo.