review bombed” in the fall because it depicted a gay superhero kissing his husband, with online trolls flooding the Internet Movie Database with hundreds of homophobic one-star reviews. In January, Disney was accused by the actor Peter Dinklage and others of trafficking in stereotypes by moving forward with a live-action “Snow White” movie — until it was revealed that the company planned to replace the seven dwarfs with digitally created “magical creatures,” which, in turn, prompted complaints by others about the “erasure” of people with dwarfism.

Disney executives tend to dismiss such incidents as tempests in teapots: trending today, replaced by a new complaint tomorrow. But even moderate online storms can be a distraction inside the company. Meetings are held about how and whether to respond; fretful talent partners must be reassured.

As Disney prepared to introduce its streaming service in 2019, it began an extensive review of its film library. As part of the initiative, called Stories Matter, Disney added disclaimers to content that the company determined included “negative depictions or mistreatment of people or cultures.” Examples included episodes of “The Muppet Show” from the 1970s and the 1941 version of “Dumbo.”

“These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now,” the disclaimers read.

The Stories Matter team privately flagged other characters as potentially problematic, with the findings distributed to senior Disney leaders, according to two current Disney executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential information. Ursula, the villainous sea witch from “The Little Mermaid” (1989), was one. Her dark color palette (lavender skin, black legs) could be viewed through a racial lens, the Stories Matter team cautioned; she is also a “queer coded” character, with mannerisms inspired in part by those of a real-life drag queen.

changing of the guard, with Mr. Iger stepping down as executive chairman in December.

Mr. Iger occasionally spoke out on hot-button political issues during his time as chief executive. His successor, Bob Chapek, decided (with backing from the Disney board) to avoid weighing in on state political battles. Disney lobbyists would continue to work behind the scenes, however, as they did with the Florida legislation.

gently explored gender identity. Gonzo donned a gown, defying a directive from Miss Piggy “that the girls come as princesses and the boys come as knights.” Out magazine wrote that the episode “just sent a powerful message of love and acceptance to gender-variant kids everywhere!” And a far-right pundit blasted Disney for “pushing the trans agenda” on children, starting an online brush fire.

Around the same time, some L.G.B.T.Q. advocates were criticizing Disney over “Loki,” a Disney+ superhero show. In the third episode of “Loki,” the title character briefly acknowledged for the first time onscreen what comic fans had long known: He is bisexual. But the blink-and-you-missed-it handling of the information angered some prominent members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community. “It’s, like, one word,” Russell T. Davies, a British screenwriter (“Queer as Folk”), said during a panel discussion at the time. “It’s a ridiculous, craven, feeble gesture.”

The fighting will undoubtedly continue: The Disney-Pixar film “Lightyear,” set for release in June, depicts a loving lesbian couple, while “Thor: Love and Thunder,” arriving in July, will showcase a major L.G.B.T.Q. character.

Last month, when Disney held its most recent shareholder meeting, Mr. Chapek was put on the spot by shareholders from the political left and right.

One person called Disney to task for contributions to legislators who have championed bills that restrict voting and reproductive rights. Mr. Chapek said that Disney gave money to “both sides of the aisle” and that it was reassessing its donation policies. (He subsequently paused all contributions in Florida.) Another representative for a shareholder advocacy group then took the microphone and noted that “Disney from its very inception has always represented a safe haven for children,” before veering into homophobic and transphobic comments and asking Mr. Chapek to “ditch the politicization and gender ideology.”

In response, Mr. Chapek noted the contrasting shareholder concerns. “I think all the participants on today’s call can see how difficult it is to try to thread the needle between the extreme polarization of political viewpoints,” he said.

“What we want Disney to be is a place where people can come together,” he continued. “My opinion is that, when someone walks down Main Street and comes in the gates of our parks, they put their differences aside and look at what they have as a shared belief — a shared belief of Disney magic, hopes, dreams and imagination.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

How China’s Xi Jinping Is Staging the Beijing Olympics on His Terms

When the International Olympic Committee met seven years ago to choose a host for the 2022 Winter Games, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, sent a short video message that helped tip the scale in a close, controversial vote.

China had limited experience with winter sports. Little snow falls in the distant hills where outdoor events would take place. Pollution was so dense at times that it was known as the “Airpocalypse.”

Mr. Xi pledged to resolve all of this, putting his personal prestige on what seemed then like an audacious bid. “We will deliver every promise we made,” he told the Olympic delegates meeting in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.

host of the Summer Olympics, the Games have become a showcase of the country’s achievements. Only now, it is a very different country.

China no longer needs to prove its standing on the world stage; instead, it wants to proclaim the sweeping vision of a more prosperous, more confident nation under Mr. Xi, the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. Where the government once sought to mollify its critics to make the Games a success, today it defies them.

Beijing 2022 “will not only enhance our confidence in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” said Mr. Xi, who this year is poised to claim a third term at the top. It will also “show a good image of our country and demonstrate our nation’s commitment to building a community with a shared future for mankind.”

Mr. Xi’s government has brushed off criticism from human rights activists and world leaders as the bias of those — including President Biden — who would keep China down. It has implicitly warned Olympic broadcasters and sponsors not to bend to calls for protests or boycotts over the country’s political crackdown in Hong Kong or its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, the largely Muslim region in the northwest.

combat Covid and imposed stricter safety measures than those during the Summer Olympics in Tokyo last year. It has insisted on sustaining its “zero Covid” strategy, evolved from China’s first lockdown, in Wuhan two years ago, regardless of the cost to its economy and its people.

an accusation of sexual assault by the tennis player Peng Shuai, a three-time Olympian, the I.O.C. did not speak out. Instead, it helped deflect concerns about her whereabouts and safety.

staggering costs of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the white-knuckle chaos of preparations for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

blue skies. High-speed railways have slashed the trip from Beijing to the most distant venues from four hours to one.

In an area perennially short of water, China built a network of pipelines to feed a phalanx of snow-making machines to dust barren slopes in white. Officials this week even claimed the entire Games would be “fully carbon neutral.”

Christophe Dubi, executive director of the upcoming Games, said in an interview that China proved to be a partner willing and able to do whatever it took to pull off the event, regardless of the challenges.

“Organizing the Games,” Mr. Dubi said, “was easy.”

The committee has deflected questions about human rights and other controversies overshadowing the Games. While the committee’s own charter calls for “improving the promotion and respect of human rights,” officials have said that it was not for them to judge the host country’s political system.

Instead, what matters most to the committee is pulling off the Games. By selecting Beijing, the committee had alighted on a “safe choice,” said Thomas Bach, the committee’s president.

unseasonably warm weather. Sochi 2014 — intended as a valedictory of Vladimir V. Putin’s rule in Russia — cost a staggering $51 billion.

Growing wariness of organizing the quadrennial event gave China an unexpected advantage. Beijing — no one’s idea of a winter sports capital — could reuse sites from the 2008 Games, including the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium for the opening ceremony. The Water Cube, which held the swimming and diving events 14 years ago, was rebranded as the Ice Cube.

Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, once a republic of the Soviet Union.

The final tally was 44 to 40 for Beijing, with one abstention. Almaty’s supporters were left to fume over a glitch in the electronic voting system that prompted a manual recount to “protect the integrity of the vote.” That Kazakhstan has plunged into political turmoil on the eve of the Games seems now, in hindsight, further validation of the choice to pick Beijing.

Xinhua, compared to 480,000 three years before.

ceremonial scepter popular in the Qing dynasty, complete with a 6,000-seat stadium at the bottom that is supposed to hold soccer matches after the Olympics.

military preparations for the Games, including the installation of 44 antiaircraft batteries around Beijing, even though the likelihood of an aerial attack on the city seemed far-fetched.

“A safe Olympics is the biggest symbol of a successful Beijing Olympic Games, and is the most important symbol of the country’s international image,” he said then.

accusation of sexual harassment rocked the sports world last fall, the committee found itself caught in the furor.

fumed in private. Without the protective cover of the international committee, they feared reprisals if they spoke out individually.

The 2008 Olympics also faced harsh criticism. A campaign led by the actress Mia Farrow called the event the “genocide games” because of China’s support for Sudan despite its brutal crackdown in the Darfur region. The traditional torch relay was hounded by protests in cities on multiple continents, including Paris, London, San Francisco and Seoul.

The accusations against China today are, arguably, even more serious. The United States and other countries have declared that China’s crackdown against the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang amounts to genocide. Ms. Farrow’s biting sobriquet has resurfaced for 2022, with a Twitter hashtag.

only screened spectators of its own choosing. It will mostly be a performance for Chinese and international television audiences, offering a choreographed view of the country, the one Mr. Xi’s government has of itself.

If the coronavirus can be kept under control, Beijing could weather the Olympics with fewer problems than seemed likely when it won the rights to the Games seven years ago. Mr. Xi’s government has already effectively declared it a success. A dozen other Chinese cities are already angling for the 2036 Summer Olympics.

“The world looks forward to China,” Mr. Xi said in an New Year’s address, “and China is ready.”

Chris Buckley contributed reporting. Claire Fu, Liu Yi and Li You contributed research.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

The New Political Cry in South Korea: ‘Out With Man Haters’

SEOUL — They have shown up whenever women rallied against sexual violence and gender biases in South Korea. Dozens of young men, mostly dressed in black, taunted the protesters, squealing and chanting, “Thud! Thud!” to imitate the noise they said the “ugly feminist pigs” made when they walked.

“Out with man haters!” they shouted. “Feminism is a mental illness!”

On the streets, such rallies would be easy to dismiss as the extreme rhetoric of a fringe group. But the anti-feminist sentiments are being amplified online, finding a vast audience that is increasingly imposing its agenda on South Korean society and politics.

These male activists have targeted anything that smacks of feminism, forcing a university to cancel a lecture by a woman they accused of spreading misandry. They have vilified prominent women, criticizing An San, a three-time gold medalist in the Tokyo Olympics, for her short haircut.

They have threatened businesses with boycotts, prompting companies to pull advertisements with the image of pinching fingers they said ridiculed the size of male genitalia. And they have taken aim at the government for promoting a feminist agenda, eliciting promises from rival presidential candidates to reform the country’s 20-year-old Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

runaway housing prices, a lack of jobs and a widening income gap.

YouTube channel with 450,000 subscribers. To its members, feminists equal man haters.

Its motto once read, “Till the day all feminists are exterminated!”

The backlash against feminism in South Korea may seem bewildering.

the highest gender wage gap among the wealthy countries. Less than one-fifth of its national lawmakers are women. Women make up only 5.2 percent of the board members of publicly listed businesses, compared with 28 percent in the United States.

And yet, most young men in the country argue that it is men, not women, in South Korea who feel threatened and marginalized. Among South Korean men in their 20s, nearly 79 percent said they were victims of serious gender discrimination, according to a poll in May.

“There is a culture of misogyny in male-dominant online communities, depicting feminists as radical misandrists and spreading fear of feminists,” said Kim Ju-hee, 26, a nurse who has organized protests denouncing anti-feminists.

The wave of anti-feminism in South Korea shares many of the incendiary taglines with right-wing populist movements in the West that peddle such messages. Women who argue for abortion rights are labeled “destroyers of family.” Feminists are not champions of gender equality, but “female supremacists.”

In South Korea, “women” and “feminists” are two of the most common targets of online hate speech, according to the country’s National Human Rights Commission.

abortions were common.

mandatory military service. But many women drop out of the work force after giving birth, and much of the domestic duties fall to them.

“What more do you want? We gave you your own space in the subway, bus, parking lot,” the male rapper San E writes in his 2018 song “Feminist,” which has a cult following among young anti-feminists. “Oh girls don’t need a prince! Then pay half for the house when we marry.”

The gender wars have infused the South Korean presidential race, largely seen as a contest for young voters. With the virulent anti-feminist voice surging, no major candidate is speaking out for women’s rights, once such a popular cause that President Moon Jae-in called himself a “feminist” when he campaigned about five years ago.

has said.

It is hard to tell how many young men support the kind of extremely provocative​ and often theatrical​ activism championed by groups like Man on Solidarity. Its firebrand leader, Mr. Bae, showed up at a recent feminist rally​​ dressed as the Joker from “Batman” comics and toting a toy water gun. He followed female protesters around, pretending to, as he put it, “kill flies.”

Tens of thousands of fans have watched his stunts livestreamed online, sending in cash donations. During one online talk-fest in August, Mr. Bae raised nine million won ($7,580) in three minutes.

legalize abortion and started one of the most powerful #MeToo campaigns in Asia.

Lee Hyo-lin, 29, said that “feminist” has become such a dirty word that women who wear their hair short or carry a novel by a feminist writer risk ostracism. When she was a member of a K-pop group, she said that male colleagues routinely commented on her body, jeering that she “gave up being a woman” when she gained weight.

“The #MeToo problem is part of being a woman in South Korea,” she said. “Now we want to speak out, but they want us to shut up. It’s so frustrating.”

On the other side of the culture war are young men with a litany of grievances — concerns that are endlessly regurgitated by male-dominated forums. They have fixated, in particular, on limited cases of false accusations, as a way to give credence to a broader anti-feminist agenda.

Son Sol-bin, a used-furniture seller, was 29 when his former girlfriend accused him of rape and kidnapping in 2018. Online trolls called for his castration, he said. His mother found closed-circuit TV footage proving the accusations never took place.

“The feminist influence has left the system so biased against men that the police took a woman’s testimony and a mere drop of her tears as enough evidence to land an innocent man in jail,” said Mr. Son, who spent eight months in jail before he was cleared. “I think the country has gone crazy.”

As Mr. Son fought back tears during a recent anti-feminist rally, other young men chanted: “Be strong! We are with you!”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Vaccine Hesitancy Hurts Covid Fight in Poorer Countries

JOHANNESBURG — The detection of the Omicron variant in southern Africa signals the next stage of the battle against Covid-19: getting many more people inoculated in poorer nations where vaccines have been scarcest in order to deter new mutations from developing.

But while world leaders sometimes talk about this as if it were largely a matter of delivering doses overseas, the experience of South Africa, at least, hints at a far more complex set of challenges.

Like many poor countries, South Africa was made to wait months for vaccines as wealthier countries monopolized them. Many countries still do not have anywhere near enough vaccines to inoculate their populations.

The problems have not ended as shots began arriving in greater numbers.

Neglected and underfunded public health infrastructure has slowed their delivery, especially to rural areas, where storage and staffing problems are common.

turned away shipments of doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson, worried that their stockpile of 16 million shots might spoil amid insufficient demand.

Dr. Saad Omer, a Yale University epidemiologist, and they have had a deeper effect.

have said. In several countries, fewer than half say they intend to get vaccinated.

sometimes-violent resistance in rural communities. Vaccine hesitancy rates there approach 50 percent among those who have not completed high school. In some parts of the country, more than a third of doses spoil amid the low demand.

Still, many are eager to be vaccinated. When doses first became widely available in South Africa earlier this year, a third of the country’s adults swiftly got inoculated, a pattern that is repeating elsewhere.

allegations of corruption amid last year’s lockdown, have heightened public unease.

“There’s a lack of confidence in the public health system’s ability to provide vaccines,” said Chris Vick, the founder of Covid Comms, a South African nonprofit group.

The group has been holding vaccine information sessions, but overcoming skepticism is not easy. After a session in the Pretoria township of Atteridgeville, one 20-year-old who attended said she had not been persuaded.

briefly pause delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, leading South Africa to delay its rollout to health care workers. Both countries decided to resume the shots after concluding that they were safe.

The South African government held regular briefings, but these were on television and in English, when radio remains the most powerful medium and most South Africans do not speak English as their mother tongue.

a recent study found. That is in part because of mistrust of the Black-led government, but also because American Covid conspiracists have found wide reach among white South Africans on social media, according to Mr. Vick of Covid Comms.

Covid pill from Merck for high-risk adults, the first in a new class of antiviral drugs that could work against a wide range of variants, including Omicron. The pill could be authorized within days, and available by year’s end.

The first modern, worldwide campaign, begun in 1959 against smallpox, provoked deep skepticism in parts of Africa and Asia, where it was seen as a continuation of colonial-era medical abuses. Some W.H.O. officials used physical force to vaccinate people, deepening distrust. The campaign took 28 years.

The effort to eradicate polio, which finally ramped up in poor countries in the 1980s and is still ongoing, has run into similar resistance. A study in the science journal Nature found that vaccine avoidance was highest among poor or marginalized groups, who believed that the health authorities, and especially Western governments, would never voluntarily help them.

In Nigeria in the early 2000s, amid a spike in religious tensions, unfounded rumors circulated that foreign health workers were using polio vaccines as cover to sterilize the country’s Muslim population. Boycotts and local bans led to a polio resurgence, with cases spreading to 15 other countries, as far as Southeast Asia.

survey by the Africa Center for Disease Control found that 43 percent of those polled believe Africans are used as guinea pigs in vaccine trials — a legacy of Western drug companies’ doing exactly this in the 1990s.

Even within their own borders, Western governments are struggling to overcome vaccine resistance. So it is hard to imagine them doing better in faraway societies where they lack local understanding.

Any appearance of Western powers forcing unwanted vaccines into African or Asian arms risks deepening the backlash.

“If the objective is to keep the U.S. and the rest of the world safe, it should be pretty obvious that the success of the domestic program depends on what happens internationally,” Dr. Omer said.

Declan Walsh contributed reporting from Nairobi.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Rights Group Hits Israel With Explosive Charge: Apartheid

Mr. Regev added: “To allege that Israeli policies are motivated by racism is both baseless and outrageous, and belittles the very real security threats posed by Palestinian terrorists to Israeli civilians — whose fundamental human rights to live in freedom and security are callously ignored by H.R.W.”

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan, said the report bordered on anti-Semitism.

“When the authors of the report cynically and falsely use the term apartheid, they nullify the legal and social status of millions of Israeli citizens, including Arab citizens, who are an integral part of the state of Israel,” he said.

Human Rights Watch does not draw a direct comparison with the notorious South African regime that segregated and subjugated people according to their skin color. Instead, it cites international laws that define apartheid as a crime against humanity in which one racial group dominates another through intentional, systematic and inhumane acts of oppression. And it contends that the word race as used in those laws applies broadly to ethnic groups.

While Human Rights Watch argues that these policies persist, to varying degrees, across the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and within the state of Israel itself, it points to the occupied West Bank as exhibit A. There, the group says, Israel has created a two-tier system with some Palestinians living under military rule and Israeli settlers under a civil legal system with greater freedoms, an inequity that H.R.W. said “amounts to the systematic oppression required for apartheid.”

Israel fully governs over 60 percent of the West Bank, and uses checkpoints and a permit system to regulate Palestinian movement between areas of nominal Palestinian self-rule and to Israel. H.R.W. also cites “the forcible transfer of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, denial of residency rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their relatives, and the suspension of basic civil rights to millions of Palestinians” as policies that meet the definition of apartheid.

“These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another,” Mr. Roth said.

View Source

Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar Win Ends Night Highlighted by Diversity

LOS ANGELES — In a break with tradition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to end its Oscars ceremony on Sunday with the prize for best actor instead of the one for best picture.

It was easy to understand why. The late Chadwick Boseman, nominated for his visceral performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” was the runaway favorite, and an acceptance speech by his widow was sure to be an emotional moment. Further, the best actor prize had gone to a Black man only four times in 93 years, and celebrating Mr. Boseman at the night’s climax — after a year in which racial justice was at the forefront of the country’s consciousness — would put an exclamation point on the academy’s aggressive diversity and inclusion efforts over the past few years.

It backfired in spectacular fashion.

The film establishment instead went with Anthony Hopkins, rewarding his performance in “The Father” as a man suffering from dementia. Apparently certain that Mr. Boseman would win, Mr. Hopkins had decided not to attend the ceremony. With no one there to accept the award, the Oscars telecast abruptly ended, leaving the academy to face questions about whether it had misjudged its voting body.

“At 83 years old, I did not expect to get this award — I really didn’t,” Mr. Hopkins said in a video speech released Monday morning from his hometown in Wales and during which he paid tribute to Mr. Boseman.

all-white slates of acting nominees in both 2015 and 2016. It has scrambled to enact diversity-focused reforms, most notably inviting about 4,000 artists and executives — with a focus on women and people from underrepresented groups — to become members. The organization now has about 10,000 voters. It says that about 19 percent of its members are from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities, up from 10 percent in 2015.

This year’s ceremony had a chance to be a showcase for those efforts. Going into Sunday night, some awards handicappers predicted that movie history would be made, with all four acting Oscars going to people of color for the first time. Along with Mr. Boseman, Viola Davis was seen as a leading contender for the best actress prize for playing a blues singer in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Best actress instead went to Frances McDormand for playing a dour van dweller in “Nomadland.” It was her third best-actress statuette.

Daniel Kaluuya, who played the Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and Yuh-Jung Youn, for her comically cantankerous grandmother in “Minari.” She was the first Korean performer to win an acting Oscar, and only the second Asian woman. Chloé Zhao, who is Chinese, took home the best director prize, only the second woman to do so in Oscar history and the first woman of color.

Two Black women, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, won Oscars for makeup and hairstyling for the first time. Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) was the first woman to take home a solo screenwriting Oscar in 13 years. And the director Travon Free was the first Black man to win in the best live-action short category. He was recognized for “Two Distant Strangers,” a film about police brutality that he made with Martin Desmond Roe.

revealed that he did not accept the academy’s overtures.

Last year, the academy announced a plan that will require films to meet diversity criteria to be eligible for a best-picture nomination, starting with the 2024 awards.

Still, those who have been critical of the way the film industry operates are not ready to heap too much praise on the academy’s efforts.

“What we have to constantly recognize is that an institution like the academy didn’t give anything to Black people,” said Rashad Robinson, president of the racial justice organization Color of Change. “What the academy has done over the years is have a system and a set of rules that has stalled Black careers, which has prevented people from being able to be fully seen, which has had an economic impact on folks. Now that they are working to make some changes, let’s acknowledge those changes but let’s not give them any awards that they haven’t earned.”

resigned from the academy’s board in 2018.

“We have settled on numeric answers to the problem of inclusion, barely recognizing that this is the industry’s problem far, far more than it is the academy’s,” Mr. Mechanic wrote in his resignation letter, which was leaked to the news media. “Instead we react to pressure. One governor even went as far as suggesting we don’t admit a single white male to the academy, regardless of merit!”

At the same time, some people have turned away from the Oscars because of its lack of diversity. Under 10 million viewers tuned into Sunday night’s telecast, according to Nielson, a 58 percent drop compared with last year. One member of the academy’s board of governors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules, said that market research had shown that people of color, upset about the racial disparity of nominees (and tired of seeing many of the same people get nominated over and over), had become less interested in the ceremony. A couple of smaller civil rights groups have called for viewing boycotts.

That was the case for April Reign, the campaign finance lawyer who originated the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag in 2015. Despite the changes at the organization, she said she believed the academy’s efforts to diversify its voting body had fallen short.

“It’s still a popularity contest among all the white men,” she said.

Others see reason for optimism in this year’s Oscars, no matter how they ended.

“To have a film about Fred Hampton that doesn’t demonize him but instead celebrates him, and provides this broader story from a group of Black filmmakers is, you know, kind of hard to believe that it would even be made much less be nominated,” Mr. Boyd said of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” “And we could go through each of these examples. It’s great. It’s wonderful. I just don’t want it to be an isolated incident.”

View Source

English Soccer Announces Social Media Boycott to Protest Online Abuse

English soccer officials said Saturday that they would conduct a social media blackout next weekend to protest “the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.”

The boycott has the support of a coalition of groups, including the Premier League, the richest and most high profile soccer league in the world, but also England’s soccer federation; the top two professional tiers of men’s and women’s soccer; referees; the country’s players union, and others.

The action is the most direct effort yet by a sport to pressure social media companies like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to take action against online abuse, and comes after a season in which players, clubs, team executives, referees, female commentators and others have been the targets of abuse.

The social media boycott also follows a week of fury and street protests against top clubs and their owners who tried — and failed — to create a breakaway European Super League that would have walled them off from many of the structures, including the pay system, that have sustained soccer for a century. At each of the protests, there were vitriolic demands for the owners of teams to sell.

a picture on Twitter with the caption “Working with a smile!”

The tweet was met with racist abuse from a Twitter user who told Nketiah, who is Black, to leave the club. Twitter responded by permanently suspending the user’s account, Sky Sports reported.

Leeds team Twitter account, which invited a slew of hateful messages toward Carney.

who called for the tweet to be deleted.

Bethany England, a forward for Chelsea, called out Leeds’ social media team for “atrocious behaviour.”

“Cyber bullying a female pundit and opening her up to mass online abuse for DOING HER JOB AND HAVING HER OPINION!” England said.

wrote an open letter to Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, and Mark Zuckerberg, the C.E.O. of Facebook, calling for the leaders to put an end to “the levels of vicious, offensive abuse” coming from users on their platforms.

“The reality is your platforms remain havens for abuse,” the soccer executives wrote. “Your inaction has created the belief in the minds of the anonymous perpetrators that they are beyond reach.”

In the past, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have taken steps, such as banning users temporarily or permanently, but the issues of online abuse have persisted.

the encouragement of the league’s team captains and with the support of league officials.

But some players and even entire teams, frustrated with a lack of concrete progress on racial issues and feeling the gesture has become more performative than productive, have recently stopped taking part.

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha said he had come to see the kneeling as “degrading,” and said he would stop doing it and would focus his efforts elsewhere. Brentford, a team in England’s second-tier Championship, in February stopped taking a knee before games. While the players said in a statement that they still supported antiracism efforts, they said, “We believe we can use our time and energies to promote racial equality in other ways.”

The social-media blackout will take place while an entire slate of games in multiple leagues will be played, including one between Manchester United and Liverpool, the Premier League’s defending champion.

Edleen John, director of international relations for the Football Association, said English soccer will not stop pressing for change after next weekend.

“It’s simply unacceptable that people across English football and society more broadly continue to be subjected to discriminatory abuse online on a daily basis, with no real-world consequences for perpetrators,” John said. “Social media companies need to be held accountable if they continue to fall short of their moral and social responsibilities to address this endemic problem.”

View Source

Guilty Verdict for Hong Kong Journalist as Media Faces ‘Frontal Assault’

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s police chief warned journalists they could be investigated for reporting “fake news.” A newspaper controlled by the Chinese government called for a ban on the city’s biggest pro-democracy news outlet. Masked men ransacked the offices of a publication critical of China’s Communist Party and smashed its presses.

Hong Kong’s reputation as a bastion of press freedom in Asia, home to journalism that is far more aggressive and independent than that found next door in mainland China, has been under sustained pressure for years. Now, as Beijing moves to stamp out dissent in the city, the news media is under direct assault. Traditional pressure tactics, such as advertising boycotts, have been eclipsed by the sort of bare-knuckles campaign that could leave prominent journalists silenced and their outlets transformed or closed.

Recent targets include the freewheeling pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, whose founder was sentenced to 14 months in prison last week, and RTHK, a public broadcaster known for its deep investigations. On Thursday, one of the network’s prizewinning producers, Choy Yuk-ling,was found guilty of making false statements to obtain public records for a report that was critical of the police. She was ordered to pay a fine of 6,000 Hong Kong dollars, about $775.

“We seem to have turned some sort of a corner fairly recently,” said Keith Richburg, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Center. “Self-censorship is still an issue and not knowing where the red lines are, but now we see what seems to be more of a frontal assault on the media in Hong Kong.”

imposed a tough national security law last year, criminalizing many forms of antigovernment speech. Then it made changes to Hong Kong’s election system, tightening the pro-Beijing establishment’s grip on power.

removed from office. The protest movement was silenced. Activists were jailed. And journalists found themselves in the government’s cross hairs.

On Thursday, a Hong Kong court found that Ms. Choy, a freelance producer, had broken the law when she used a public database of license plate records as part of an investigation into a July 2019 mob attack at a train station, in which 45 people were injured. Activists have accused the police of turning a blind eye to the violence.

She was arrested in November and charged with making false statements about why she had used the publicly accessible database.

Ms. Choy said her case showed how the authorities were trying to crack down on the news media and restrict access to information that was once publicly available.

“I realized since my arrest it’s not my individual issue,” she said in an interview. “It’s a bigger issue of press freedom in Hong Kong.”

Press freedom groups have denounced Ms. Choy’s arrest and described it as part of a campaign of harassment. The Committee to Protect Journalists called the government’s case an “absurdly disproportionate action that amounts to an assault on press freedom.”

The case against Ms. Choy is the latest move against RTHK, Hong Kong’s leading public radio and television network, which for years offered hard-hitting reports critical of the government. The outlet’s charter grants it editorial independence, but as a government entity, it has little protection from officials who want to see it brought under stricter control. Regina Ip, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, said last week that the government should consider closing it altogether.

Just months after the national security law was passed, the Hong Kong government called for RTHK to be more tightly supervised by government-appointed advisers.

The head of RTHK, a veteran reporter and editor, was replaced in February by a civil servant with no journalism experience. Under that new leader, Patrick Li, two radio programs known for their lively political commentary were suspended.

RTHK reported.

International news outlets have also come under pressure in Hong Kong. An editor for the Financial Times was forced to leave the city in 2018, in apparent retaliation for his role in hosting a talk by a pro-independence activist. The New York Times has moved a number of editors from Hong Kong to Seoul, in part because of problems with securing work permits.

Epoch Times, a newspaper linked to the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned in mainland China, has dealt with even blunter attacks. On April 12, four men stormed the paper’s printing plant, smashing presses and computers. The newspaper said no one was injured and it was able to resume publication soon after.

raided by the police last year, and Mr. Lai faces charges related to the national security law for allegedly calling for American sanctions against Hong Kong. Under the law, crimes “of a grave nature,” an intentionally ambiguous term, carry sentences of up to life imprisonment.

The authorities have not been shy about threatening journalists. They have made their opinions known in the pages of state media, on the floor of the local legislature and from police headquarters.

State-controlled newspapers in Hong Kong have escalated their criticism of Apple Daily, calling for it to be regulated or even closed under the national security law.

“If Apple Daily is not removed, a gap still exists in Hong Kong’s national security,” Ta Kung Pao, a newspaper owned by Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, said in a commentary last week.

Ms. Ip, the pro-establishment lawmaker, made clear to RTHK journalists what she believed their role was. In a legislative session last week, she said that a reporter for the outlet should be willing “to be a government mouthpiece.”

Chris Tang, Hong Kong’s police commissioner, last week warned that publications which produce “fake news” could face investigation, and he called for new laws to help regulate the media.

Nevertheless, many reporters say they will not be cowed by the government’s efforts to stifle their reporting.

“Some are disillusioned,” said Gladys Chiu, the chairwoman of the RTHK Program Staff Union. “But some feel there is still space to fight for.”

View Source

Georgia Faith Leaders Urge Boycott of Home Depot Over Voting Law

A major coalition of Black faith leaders in Georgia, representing more than 1,000 churches in the state, called on Tuesday for a boycott of Home Depot, arguing that the company had abdicated its responsibility as a good corporate citizen by not pushing back on the state’s new voting law.

The call for a boycott, led by Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who oversees all 534 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia, represents one of the first major steps to put significant economic pressure on businesses to be more vocal in opposing Republican efforts in Georgia and around the country to enact new restrictions on voting.

“We don’t believe this is simply a political matter,” Bishop Jackson said in an interview. “This is a matter that deals with securing the future of this democracy, and the greatest right in this democracy is the right to vote.”

Home Depot, Mr. Jackson said, “demonstrated an indifference, a lack of response to the call, not only from clergy, but a call from other groups to speak out in opposition to this legislation.”

Coca-Cola and Delta have spoken out against the state’s new voting law, Home Depot has not, offering only a statement this month that “the most appropriate approach for us to take is to continue to underscore our belief that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure.”

While not publicly wading into the fray, one of the company’s founders, Arthur Blank, said in a call with other business executives this month that he supported voting rights. Another founder, Ken Langone, is a vocal supporter of former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Jackson said that the faith leaders were calling for four specific actions from Home Depot: speaking out against the Georgia voting law, publicly opposing similar bills in other states, offering support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in Congress, and backing litigation against the Georgia law.

Not all voting rights groups are on board with a boycott.

“I can’t fully support a boycott within Georgia,” said Aunna Dennis, the executive director of the Georgia chapter of Common Cause. “The boycott hurts the working-class person. But corporations do need to be held accountable on where they put their dollars.”

Faith leaders acknowledged concerns from state leaders, both Democratic and Republican, about the impact of boycotts, but felt the stakes were high enough.

“It is unfortunate for those who will be impacted by this, but how many more million will be impacted if they don’t have the right to vote?” said Jamal H. Bryant, the senior pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.

“And so in weighing it out, we understand, tongue in cheek, that this is a necessary evil,” Dr. Bryant said. “But it has to happen in order for the good to happen.”

View Source

The Israel Prize Is Meant to Unify. More Often, It’s Mired in Controversy.

Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer who represents Professor Goldreich, said that even if his client did support B.D.S., such support should not disqualify him from receiving the Israel Prize.

“Now, to prove that someone called for a boycott, you need to scrutinize his writings and signatures, driving us straight toward a McCarthyist process,” Mr. Sfard said, referring to the 1940s and 1950s in the United States, when leftists were regularly accused of subversion and treason. “This is an attempt to exclude a whole political camp in Israel.”

Professor Goldreich missed this year’s ceremony, which was recorded on Sunday for broadcast on Thursday. The judges said that should he be approved, he could receive the award at next year’s ceremony, if not before.

Mr. Gallant, the education minister, appeared emboldened by the court decision.

“Prof. Goldreich may be a brilliant scientist, but his support for the boycott movement and his call to boycott Ariel University is a spit in the face of the state of Israel and of Israeli academia and is possibly even a violation of the law,” he wrote on Twitter. He added that he would use the time to investigate whether the professor’s “current renunciation” of the boycott movement was genuine.

Mr. Gallant’s staff declined requests for comment.

“I view this (unlawful) behavior of the minister as a small step in the process of pushing the left in Israel outside the limits of legitimacy, a process that has been going on for decades now and has been intensified in the last years,” Professor Goldreich said in an emailed comment. “I am happy to play a role in the struggle to block this delegitimization process and the attempt to reverse it.”

The professor’s colleagues and supporters held an alternative award ceremony for him at Weizmann Institute this week, where he referred to the award as the “Likud Prize.”

“I think that the Likud and the state of Israel are two different things,” he said.

The Weizmann Institute took out ads in the Hebrew newspapers on Wednesday congratulating Professor Goldreich and saying that, as far as they were concerned, he had won the prize.

View Source