Arts & Entertainment

Women Win Big at Emmys, in Front of and Behind the Camera

The Emmy statuette depicts a winged woman, and this year’s Emmy telecast celebrated a TV season in which women, as never before, were able to soar.


Strong roles about strong women abounded. And they were rewarded. The winning drama series and limited series (”The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies,” respectively) focused on issues of women — rather than defaulting to the male point of view — as a vivid way to explore the human condition. “Veep,” which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the former president of the U.S., won best comedy series.


Women also made inroads behind the camera, with Lena Waithe winning best comedy writer Emmy for “Master of None.” She’s the first woman winner ever in that category.


For many of the winners as well as many fans who were cheering them on, the Emmycast unfolded as a bracing rebuttal at a time when surveys continue to expose unfair representation by women in Hollywood.

“Let’s hope that this is the beginning of something even better in our country and the world,” said Louis-Dreyfus, savoring her record-breaking sixth win as Selina Meyer on “Veep.” “I think the world would be a better place if more women were in charge.”


“We’ve made incredible progress, obviously,” said Elisabeth Moss, who won the best actress Emmy for her starring role in “The Handmaid’s Tale” as one of the few fertile women left in a world ruled by a totalitarian regime that treats women as property.


But she added, “There’s still a lot of work to be done. There are still meetings you walk into and wonder if they say ‘no’ because it’s a show by or about a women.”


The answer, Moss said, is “not only women in front of the camera but it’s women behind the camera.”


“Feud: Bette and Joan,” starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange in a robust saga of clashing queens of the silver screen, was a promising entry in the Limited Series category.


But “Feud” was edged out by another woman-centric drama, “Big Little Lies,” which followed a group of mothers who each have secrets threatening to crash down upon her. The series collected eight Emmys also including best actress (Nicole Kidman), best supporting actress (Laura Dern) and best supporting actor Alexander Skarsgard, who, in accepting his trophy, thanked his colleagues for letting him be “one of the girls.”

Indeed, two of the series’ executive producers were Kidman and her co-star Reese Witherspoon.

Backstage, Witherspoon voiced delight that “we created four roles for women, and all got nominated.”


The characters those women portrayed “were complicated. They were complex,” she noted. “They were good and bad.”


“What was so wonderful,” said Kidman, “is that we had so many people, men and women of different ages, watching the show that went far beyond what we expected. As much as it was about women, it was for everyone.”


In accepting her Emmy as one of the series’ producers, Kidman implored the industry to create “more great roles for women, please.”


But Witherspoon pointed out that “it’s great to be the architect of your own destiny, and create material for yourself and . so many roles for women — award-winning roles. It turns out we know how to do it for ourselves!”

Economy & business

Peru’s PM: New Cabinet to Revive Slumping Public Investments

Peru’s prime minister said on Monday that the country’s new Cabinet will focus on reviving public investments as it seeks to mend fences with the opposition party that forced President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to form a new government.

Congress ousted the former Cabinet last week following a dispute over education reforms, fueling fears that political fighting might hurt economic growth that has already slowed sharply this year due to floods and a graft scandal.

Mercedes Araoz, Peru’s new prime minister, said on local broadcaster RPP that she was optimistic about rebuilding a working relationship with the opposition. A key test will be efforts to rapidly rebuild parts of Peru hit by flooding, Araoz said.

Congress will likely vote on whether to give Araoz’ Cabinet a vote of confidence in the first week of October, she added.

Araoz is a ruling party lawmaker and former finance minister in the 2006-2011 term of former President Alan Garcia.

Forecasts for an economic recovery in Peru hinge on the government increasing public investments that fell 10.4 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2017.

“Now’s the time. We can’t fall behind in this process” of increasing public investments, Araoz said.

President Kuczynski, a center-right politician and former Wall Street banker, vowed to work to modernize Peru and strengthen the economy of the world’s second-biggest copper producer.

But his first year in office has been marked by slowing economic growth and clashes with Congress, where the right-wing populist party of his former rival Keiko Fujimori has a majority.

Fujimori welcomed the new Cabinet on Twitter after it was sworn in on Sunday and said Kuczynski’s government still has four years to “mend its ways and make progress.”

Similar remarks from opposition lawmakers signaled Congress would likely give the new Cabinet a vote of confidence. But after previous efforts to reset relations failed, it was unclear how long the new truce might last.

Verisk Maplecroft, a global risk analysis company, said Peru has a score of 4.44 out of 10 – a “high risk” ranking – on its government effectiveness index.

Despite Fujimori’s support for the new Cabinet, “the re-tooled team will remain hostage to the Fujimorista-controlled Congress, with Kuczynski’s political credibility continuing to ebb,” said Maplecroft analyst Eileen Gavin.

If Congress fails to approve of the new Cabinet, Kuczynski can summon new legislative elections.

Economy & business

Federal Reserve Expected to Hold US Interest Rates Steady

U.S. central bank leaders are expected to hold the key interest rate steady this week, but they may begin trimming a huge bond-buying program that was intended to boost economic growth.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak with reporters about those decisions Wednesday afternoon, following a two-day strategy meeting in the U.S. capital. Surveys of economists show they do not expect the Fed to raise interest rates at this time.

During the 2008 financial crisis, Washington slashed the key interest rate nearly to zero in a bid to boost growth and jobs. Over the years, it has worked well enough to help cut the unemployment rate to its current low of 4.4 percent. As the jobless rate improved, interest rates have been raised, but remain below historic averages. 

An additional effort to boost growth involved purchasing trillions of dollars’ worth of bonds. The Fed is expected to gradually reduce this program over the next few years. 

Some experts worry that cutting back stimulus efforts too sharply or too soon could cause the economy to stumble back into recession. But continuing ultra-low interest rates or bond-purchase programs for too long could spark a sudden and sharp increase in prices. That inflation could also damage the economy.

Silicon Valley & Technology

Sources: Google Offers to Display Rival Sites Via Auction

Alphabet unit Google has offered to display rival comparison shopping sites via an auction as part of an EU compliance order following a landmark fine for favoring its own service, four people familiar with

the matter said on Monday.

The proposal, submitted to the European Commission on August 29 following a record 2.4-billion-euro ($2.87 billion) penalty, would allow competitors to bid for any spot in its shopping section known as Product Listing Ads, the people said.

Three years ago, the world’s most popular internet search engine made a similar offer in an attempt to settle a long-running investigation by the European Commission and stave off a fine. The offer was ultimately rejected following negative feedback from rivals and discord within the EU executive.

Under this earlier proposal, Google had reserved the first two places for its own ads. The new offer would also see Google set a floor price with its own bids minus operating costs. The company has sought feedback from competitors.

The offer does not address the issues set out by EU competition regulators, the people said. The Commission had ordered Google to treat rivals and its own service equally.

“This is worse than the commitments,” one of the people said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The Commission was not immediately available for comment.

Google did not respond to a request for comment. Google has until September 28 to stop its anti-competitive practices or its parent company Alphabet could be fined up to 5 percent of its average daily worldwide turnover.

Science & Health

WHO: Too Many People Dying Prematurely From Non-communicable Diseases

The World Health Organization reports some progress is being made in reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases.  But it says much more needs to be done to save the lives of nearly 40 million people who die every year from preventable causes.

In this latest global assessment, the World Health Organization reports cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes continue to be the world’s biggest killers.  Every year, it says 15 million adults in the most productive period of their lives, between the age of 30 and 70, will die prematurely.  

The biggest risk factors are tobacco, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity.  WHO director for the prevention of non-communicable diseases, Douglas Bettcher, said the world is not on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of cutting premature NCD deaths by one third by 2030.   

“The window of opportunity to save lives is closing.  This is playing out before our eyes in many ways, including increasing numbers of people, particularly children and adolescents suffering from obesity, overweight and diabetes.  If we do not take action now to protect people from NCDs, we will condemn today’s and tomorrow’s youth to lives of ill health and reduced economic opportunities,”  Bettcher said.

Despite common perceptions, Bettcher told VOA premature deaths from non-communicable diseases are not just a rich country problem.

“Eighty percent of the deaths are in countries that are already often stressed, their health systems are stressed with the usual, the conventional burdens of disease, communicable diseases, maternal-child health problems.  And, then this is an added, extremely large burden for the health system,” Bettcher said.

WHO reports Costa Rica and Iran lead the 10 best performing countries in reducing deaths from non-communicable diseases.  It says six countries have achieved no progress at all.  Five are in Africa: Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome Principe and South Sudan.  The sixth country is Micronesia in the western Pacific.

Arts & Entertainment

Erdem Sparkles With Glamour in London Fashion Week Catwalk

Canada-born designer Erdem Moralioglu has turned the Old Selfridges Hotel into a glamorous speakeasy for his London Fashion Week show.


With classics “Stormy Monday” and “My Funny Valentine” playing, the fashion house named Erdem on Monday displayed glamorous, full-length evening gowns with full-length gloves and sparkly accessories.


Many had floral themes and remarkable detailing, adding to the show’s exuberance and opulence.


While many designers are showing more and more skin, Erdem opts for a subtle celebration of feminine beauty. There were some sheer and lacy outfits, but most were more modest, with either high necklines or sweetheart ones.


The effect was entrancing. Nostalgia was in the air – the program featured a photograph of Queen Elizabeth II meeting Duke Ellington in 1958.


London Fashion week continues later Monday with Christopher Kane, and others.

Science & Health

Urgent Action Under Way to Prevent Spread of Cholera in West Africa

An emergency vaccination campaign is getting under way in northeastern Nigeria to prevent a deadly cholera outbreak from spreading to other countries.

The World Health Organization reports the potentially devastating cholera situation is emerging in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria. During the past few months, it says 2,600 suspected cases of this fatal disease, including 48 deaths, have occurred in this former stronghold of Boko Haram. The militant group has been waging war to establish an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.

Dominique Legros is cholera coordinator for WHO’s department for pandemic and epidemic diseases. He says the outbreak, which is centered in camps for internally displaced people, is spreading to other areas of northeastern Nigeria, toward Chad and northern Cameroon.

He says 900,000 people in the state will receive the oral cholera vaccine to quickly contain the spread of the disease.

“Once it is out of the box, once it has spread, it is very, very difficult to contain and we have a huge number of cases and deaths,” he said. “So, this outbreak in Nigeria, hopefully, will not reach Chad, because in Chad already, we have an alert in the eastern part of the country towards the border with Sudan, 344 cases, 49 deaths.”

Legros says this comes to a 14 percent case fatality. He notes this is very high for a cholera outbreak, which usually has a case fatality rate of less than one percent.

WHO estimates the global cholera disease burden at around 2.9 million suspected cases, including 95,000 deaths. It reports Yemen has the world’s worst cholera epidemic, with nearly 690,000 suspected cases and more than 2,000 deaths.

The agency expresses concern about the situation in Africa, where it reports tens of thousands of suspected cases and thousands of deaths in, among others; Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania.