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Apple Music to Launch its 1st Radio Show in Africa

Apple Music is launching its first radio show in Africa.The streaming platform announced Thursday that “Africa Now Radio with Cuppy” will debut Sunday and will feature a mix of contemporary and traditional popular African sounds, including genres like Afrobeat, rap, house, kuduro and more.  Cuppy, the Nigerian-born DJ and music producer, will host the weekly one-hour show, which will be available at 9 a.m. EDT.”The show represents a journey from West to East and North to South, but importantly a narrative of Africa then to Africa now,” Cuppy in a statement.African music and artists have found success outside of the continent and onto the pop charts in both the U.S. and U.K. in recent years. Acts like Drake and Beyoncé have borrowed the sound for their own songs, while performers like South African DJ Black Coffee as well as Davido, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid and Mr Eazi — all with roots in Nigeria — continue to gain attention and have become household names.Apple Music’s announcement comes the same week Universal Music Group said it was launching Def Jam Africa, a new division of the label focused on representing hip-hop, Afrobeat and trap talent in Africa. The label said it will be based in Johannesburg and Lagos but plans to sign talent from all over the continent. 

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Olympic Chief Bach Consults With IOC Members Over Virus Fallout

Olympic chief Thomas Bach on Wednesday held talks with International Olympic Committee members on the potential consequences of the coronavirus pandemic that has seen the Tokyo Games pushed back a year to 2021, sources said.Bach was to address the 100 IOC members in three different sessions decided by language and local time zone.Bach’s aim is to canvas the members for their view on “how to handle the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic,” a source told AFP.The IOC president wants to hear “thoughts, ideas and experiences of all members across the globe,” the source said.While Bach addressed all Olympic actors on March 24 when announcing the postponement of the Tokyo Games, it was the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak that he had specifically consulted IOC members.Bach was backed up by Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi, IOC sports director Kit McConnell, IOC director general Christophe De Kepper and chief operating officer Lana Haddad.The IOC’s medical and scientific director, Richard Budgett, also took to the floor to discuss “the issue of a vaccine,” according to a second source.’Last option’Bach warned last week that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the delayed Tokyo Games, stressing that postponement could not go on forever.He said he backed Japan’s stance that the games would have to be canceled if the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t under control by next year.The German wouldn’t say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but he was lukewarm on the idea of holding them without fans.In March, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed to July 23, 2021, over the coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands around the world and halted international sport and travel. It was the first peacetime postponement of the Olympics.The IOC has already set aside $800 million to help organizers and sports federations meet the extra costs of a postponed Olympics.According to the latest budget, the games were due to cost $12.6 billion, shared among the organizing committee, the government of Japan and Tokyo city.

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Larry Kramer, Playwright And AIDS Activist, Dies at 84

— Larry Kramer, the playwright whose angry voice and pen raised theatergoers’ consciousness about AIDS and roused thousands to militant protests in the early years of the epidemic, has died at 84.
Bill Goldstein, a writer who was working on a biography of Kramer, confirmed the news to The Associated Press. Kramer’s husband, David Webster, told The New York Times that Kramer died Wednesday of pneumonia.
“We have lost a giant of a man who stood up for gay rights like a warrior. His anger was needed at a time when gay men’s deaths to AIDS were being ignored by the American government,” said Elton John in a statement.
Kramer, who wrote “The Normal Heart” and founded the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, lost his lover to acquired immune deficiency syndrome in 1984 and was himself infected with the virus. He also suffered from hepatitis B and received a liver transplant in 2001 because the virus had caused liver failure.
He was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay for “Women in Love,” the 1969 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s novel. It starred Glenda Jackson, who won her first Oscar for her performance.
He also wrote the 1972 screenplay “Lost Horizon,” a novel, “Faggots,” and the plays “Sissies’ Scrapbook,” “The Furniture of Home,” “Just Say No” and “The Destiny of Me,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1993.
But for many years he was best known for his public fight to secure medical treatment, acceptance and civil rights for people with AIDS. He loudly told everyone that the gay community was grappling with a plague.
Tributes from the arts community flooded in Wednesday, with Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter saying “What an extraordinary writer, what a life.” Dan Savage wrote: “He ordered us to love ourselves and each other and to fight for our lives. He was a hero.”
In 1981, when AIDS had not yet acquired its name and only a few dozen people had been diagnosed with it, Kramer and a group of his friends in New York City founded Gay Men’s Health Crisis, one of the first groups in the country to address the epidemic.
He tried to rouse the gay community with speeches and articles such as “1,112 and Counting,” published in gay newspapers in 1983.
“Our continued existence as gay men upon the face of this earth is at stake,” he wrote. “Unless we fight for our lives, we shall die.”
The late journalist Randy Shilts, in his best selling account of the AIDS epidemic “And the Band Played On,” called that article “inarguably one of the most influential works of advocacy journalism of the decade” and credited it with “crystallizing the epidemic into a political movement for the gay community.”
Kramer lived to see gay marriage a reality — and married himself in 2013 — but never rested. “I’m married,” he told The AP. “But that’s only part of where we are. AIDS is still decimating us and we still don’t have protection under the law.”
Kramer split with GMHC in 1983 after other board members decided to concentrate on providing support services to people with AIDS. It remains one of the largest AIDS-service groups in the country.
After leaving GMHC, Kramer wrote “The Normal Heart,” in which a furious young writer — not unlike Kramer himself — battles politicians, society, the media and other gay leaders to bring attention to the crisis.
The play premiered at The Public Theater in April 1985. Associated Press drama critic Michael Kuchwara called it an “angry but compelling indictment of a society as well as a subculture for failing to respond adequately to the tragedy.”
A revival in 2011 was almost universally praised by critics and earned the best revival Tony. Two actors from it — Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey — also won Tonys. Joe Mantello played the main character of Ned Weeks, the alter ego of Kramer.
“I’m very moved that it moved so many people,” he said at the time. Kramer often stood outside the theater passing out fliers asking the world to take action against HIV/AIDS. “Please know that AIDS is a worldwide plague. Please know there is no cure,” it said.
The play was turned into a TV film for HBO in 2014 starring Mark Ruffalo, Jonathan Groff, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina, Joe Mantello and Julia Roberts. It won the Emmy for best movie. Kramer stood onstage in heavy winter clothing as the statuette was presented to director Ryan Murphy.
The 1992 play “The Destiny of Me,” continues the story of Weeks from “The Normal Heart.” Weeks, in the hospital for an experimental AIDS treatment, reflects on the past, particularly his relationship with his family. His parents and brother appear to act out what happened in the past, as does the young Ned, who confronts his older self.
In 1987, Kramer founded ACT UP, the group that became famous for staging civil disobedience at places like the Food and Drug Administration, the New York Stock Exchange and Burroughs-Wellcome Corp., the maker of the chief anti-AIDS drug, AZT.
ACT UP’s protests helped persuade the FDA to speed the approval of new drugs and Burroughs-Wellcome to lower its price for AZT. He also battled — and later reconciled — with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been leading the national response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kramer soon relinquished a leadership role in ACT UP, and as support for AIDS research increased, he found some common ground with health officials whom ACT UP had bitterly criticized.  
Kramer never softened the urgency of his demands. In 2011, he helped the American Foundation for Equal Rights mount their play “8” on Broadway about the legal battle over same-sex marriage in California.
“The one nice thing that I seem to have acquired, accidentally, is this reputation of everyone afraid of my voice,” he told The AP in 2015. “So I get heard, whether it changes anything or not.”
One of his last projects was the massive two-volume “The American People,” which chronicled the history of gay people in America and took decades to write.  
“I just think it’s so important that we know our history — the history of how badly we’re treated and how hard we have to fight to get what we deserve, which is equality,” he told The AP.  
At the 2013 Tonys, he was honored with the Isabelle Stevenson Award, given to a member of the theater community for philanthropic or civic efforts.  
A few months later, Kramer married his longtime partner, architect David Webster, in the intensive care unit of NYU Langone Medical Center, where Kramer was recovering from surgery for a bowel obstruction. 

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US Priest Who Founded Knights of Columbus to be Beatified

The founder of the Knights of Colombus, the influential U.S.-based lay Catholic organization, is moving a step closer to possible sainthood.
Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Rev. Michael McGivney, a Connecticut priest who died at age 38 of pneumonia in 1890 during a pandemic similar to the current coronavirus outbreak.
He would be the first U.S. parish priest to be beatified, the first major step before canonization.
The Vatican said Wednesday that Francis had signed off on the miracle required. The Knights said it concerned the medically inexplicable cure of a baby with a life-threatening condition who was healed in utero in 2015 “after prayers by his family to Father McGivney.”
McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut, to encourage greater, active participation of lay Catholics in their faith and to care for families when the breadwinner died. Today the Knights are one of the biggest Catholic organizations in the world, known for their charitable efforts and counting about 2 million members in the Americas, Caribbean, Asia and Europe.
The organization is also an insurer, boasting more than $100 billion in financial protection for members and their families.  
No date has been set for the beatification, which the Knights said would be held in Connecticut.

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Documentary Focuses on Unlikely Champion of Mexican Cuisine

If you add garlic to your guacamole, we have bad news: You’re not doing it right. Do you mince the onion? That’s also a no-no. And, please, leave the avocado lumpy.So says 97-year-old Diana Kennedy, a foremost authority on traditional Mexican cuisine. Over many decades, she has mastered, documented and become fiercely protective of the culinary styles of each region.  This summer, a portrait as zesty as her dishes comes in the form of the documentary ” Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy,” which marks director Elizabeth Carroll’s feature film debut.The documentary traces the unlikely rise of an Englishwoman who became one of the most respected authorities on Mexican food. She’s been called “the Julia Child of Mexico,” “the Mick Jagger of Mexican Cuisine” and even the “Indiana Jones of food.”Carroll’s camera follows Kennedy as she navigates Mexico in her trusty Nissan truck, walks through her remarkable garden, teaches professional chefs in a harrowing class in her home, and meticulously makes coffee — toasting her beans in an antique toaster.”It’s some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. I know that sounds like what I’m supposed to say, but it’s true,” said Carroll, laughing.The film includes various TV appearances by Kennedy during her career as well as interviews with notable chefs, including Alice Waters, José Andrés, Rick Bayless, Pati Jinich and Gabriela Cámara. It’s less a cooking lesson than a beautifully drawn character study.”I just felt really drawn to her and very comfortable with her, like there was some kind of unspoken understanding between us when we would look at each other,” said Carroll. “I think she’s somebody who operates a lot on instinct and I think that there was just an instinct of trust between us.”Kennedy, a culinary purist, arrived in Mexico in the late 1950s and has traveled thousands of miles throughout the country, often alone, seeking out regional foods.  She’s written nine cookbooks, faithfully acknowledging where and from whom the recipes were obtained. Kennedy has received the Order of the Aztec Eagle from the Mexican government — the highest award given to foreigners for service to Mexico.”She saw a need for recording recipes that were potentially being lost by industrialization,” said Carroll. “Nobody was recording those recipes in an official way. She saw an opening there to take on a responsibility like that and she obviously devoted her life to it.”When Kennedy makes guacamole, she uses serrano peppers (“Keep your hands off the jalapeno, por favor!” she says in the film). Add salt, finely chopped tomatoes, but no lime. There is cilantro, and if some guests don’t like it she has this advice — “Don’t invite them.””She sees it as her responsibility to share and perfect the original way that things have been done. And that if other people want to deviate from that, they have to know the rules first,” said Carroll.Jinich, host and co-producer of PBS’ two-time James Beard award-winning “Pati’s Mexican Table,” said Kennedy’s outsider perspective helped as she documented the pillars of the cuisine.  “It’s no coincidence that this British woman had to come and see and recognize and be fascinated with everything that for us Mexicans was just our Mexican food,” Jinich said. “I feel like the entire country of Mexico is indebted to Diana Kennedy.”Kennedy and Carroll met in a serendipitous way in 2013. The filmmaker was in Austin, Texas, and beginning to research a film about how recipes and traditions are passed down. She soon realized she’d have to talk to Kennedy.But how? Kennedy lived in the mountains of western Mexico. Carroll looked around online for an hour, gave up and went to a bookstore. She pulled into the parking lot and looked up to see the marquee: “Book signing with Diana Kennedy tomorrow.””It was confusing and exciting and wild and special all at the same time,” said Carroll. “I was like, ‘OK. There’s some divine games happening here.'”  The film took more than six years to make and it captures a woman confronting her own mortality but still insistent that her work continue. “What are you going to do when I’m gone?” she asks in the film. “Who else is going to start screaming?”

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#Metoo, Phase 2: Documentary Explores Heavy Burden on Women of Color

It may have been plagued with controversy after Oprah Winfrey pulled out as executive producer, but “On the Record” has moved on. The the new #MeToo documentary about rape accusations against hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is a powerful look at one woman’s agonizing decision to go public, and an exploration of misogyny and sexual harassment in the music industry. Most importantly, though, it shines a light on the unique burden faced by women of color, who are often not believed or accused of being traitors to their own community if they come forward with accusations. The film premieres Wednesday on the new streaming service HBO Max.  There’s an elegant, almost poetic silence to one of the most compelling scenes of “On the Record,” a powerful new documentary about sexual violence that knows just when to dial down to a hushed quiet.In the early morning darkness of Dec. 13, 2017, former music executive Drew Dixon walks to a coffee shop and buys the New York Times. On the front page is the story in which she and two others accuse the powerful hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, her former boss, of rape. Dixon examines the article, carefully folds the paper back up, puts on a wool cap as if for protection — and crumples into silent tears.They are tears of fear, surely, about the ramifications of going public — but also, clearly, relief. It feels as if the poison of a decades-old toxic secret is literally seeping out of her.  “It saved my life,” she now says of that decision.”On the Record,” by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, provides a searingly intimate portrayal of the agonizing process of calculating whether to go public. Beyond that, it shines an overdue light on the music industry, where sexual harassment is “just baked into the culture,” in the words of Sil Lai Abrams, another Simmons accuser featured in the film.Most importantly, it puts a spotlight on women of color, and the unique and painful burden they often face in coming forward.The project also has been associated with controversy, of course, due to Oprah Winfrey’s well-documented withdrawal as executive producer just before the Sundance Film Festival, scuttling a distribution deal with Apple. Winfrey later acknowledged Simmons had called her and waged a pressure campaign, but said that wasn’t why she bailed.But the film has moved on. It opened at Sundance anyway to cheers and two emotional standing ovations, and was soon picked up by HBO Max, where it premieres Wednesday.For Dixon, vindication at Sundance was sweet.”Just standing there, on our own, and realizing that we were enough,” she said in an interview last week along with Abrams and accuser Sherri Hines, of the premiere. “That our courage was enough. That none of us waffled. None of us buckled. That we were strong enough to defend ourselves and each other.”Less than two years earlier, Dixon had been plagued by doubt. She’d expected that the film, which began shooting before she decided to go public, would be a general look at #MeToo and the music industry. But then the directors wanted to focus more on her journey.”The idea of being blackballed by the black community was really scary,” she says. “But I also felt this pressure, this responsibility to be brave, to highlight the experience of black women as survivors. The opportunity might never come again.”Dixon was in her 20s when she got her dream job at Simmons’ Def Jam Recordings. The daughter of two Washington, D.C. politicians — her mother, Sharon Pratt, was mayor — she attended Stanford University, then moved to New York to join the exciting world of hip-hop.As her star rose at Def Jam, she assumed that would immunize her from what she describes as Simmons’ constant harassment. He would come into her office, lock the door and expose himself.  But he wasn’t violent. Until the night in 1995 when, she says, he lured her to his apartment with the excuse of a demo CD she needed to hear. He told her to get it from the bedroom, she says, and then came in wearing only a condom, and raped her.Simmons has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.The film weaves together Dixon’s and multiple other accusations against Simmons with key voices of women of color like Tarana Burke, who founded the #MeToo movement, and law professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw.”A lot of black women felt disconnected from #MeToo initially,” Burke says. “They felt, ‘that’s great that this sister is out there and we support her, but this movement is not for US.'”When black women do seek to come forward, they risk not only not being believed, but being called traitors to their community, both Burke and Dixon explain.”There’s this added layer in the black community that we have to contend with, like, ‘Oh you’re gonna put THIS before race?'” says Burke. “You let this thing happen to you, now we have to pay for it as a race? And we’re silenced even more.’Dick and Ziering, who’ve made several films about sexual assault, say they saw it as essential to go beyond the current #MeToo discussion and focus on the experience of black women.”Now you can come forward — but what about women of color? What do they face?” asks Ziering. “There are so many impediments.”For Dixon, coming forward was clearly worth it. It’s more complicated for Abrams. Even as the audience was applauding at Sundance, Abrams, who attempted suicide after her alleged rape by Simmons, was weeping next to her young adult son, worrying about him as he learned the full details for the first time, she says.  Abrams also says that “as a result of coming forward, my career has stalled. Everything just dried up.”Dixon says it remains to be seen whether she will be punished within the music industry. She says she recently was up for a job, things were going well, and suddenly all went quiet. “They must have Googled me,” she says.But she feels, most importantly, like she rescued a part of herself: her creativity, her drive, her very sense of who she is.For more than 20 years, she says, “I had banished the young woman who came to New York City prepared to work really hard in a man’s game, to prove she could do it, but not expecting that she would be raped.””In order to banish the pain I banished part of her light,” she says. “When I said it out loud, those parts of me lit up again.”Her message to any other survivors out there — and she hopes they will come forward: “Facing it frees parts of yourself that you don’t even know you’ve missed.”  

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JK Rowling Publishing New Story Online

J.K. Rowling is publishing a new story called The Ickabog, which will be free to read online to help entertain children and families stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic. The Harry Potter author said Tuesday she wrote the fairy tale for her children as a bedtime story over a decade ago. Set in an imaginary land, it is a stand-alone story “about truth and the abuse of power” for children from 7 to 9 years old and is unrelated to Rowling’s other books. Rowling said the draft of the story had stayed in her attic while she focused on writing books for adults. She said her children, now teenagers, were “touchingly enthusiastic” when she recently suggested retrieving the story and publishing it for free.  “For the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again,” she said.  “‘The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed).”The first two chapters were posted online Tuesday, with daily installments to follow until July 10.The book will be published in print later this year, and Rowling said she will pledge royalties from its sales to projects helping those particularly affected by the pandemic.  

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Macau Gambling Tycoon Stanley Ho Dies at Age 98

Stanley Ho, the man credited with transforming Macau from a sleepy former Portuguese colony into one of the world’s gambling meccas, has died at the age of 98. His daughter, Pansy, said Ho died Tuesday at a hospital in his native Hong Kong. The son of a once-influential and wealthy Hong Kong family who lost their fortune in the Great Depression of the 1930s, Stanley Ho escaped to Macau during World War Two when Japanese forces captured Hong Kong.  He built his fortune smuggling luxury goods from Macau to China, turning that into a successful trading company.  Ho’s gambling empire began when he successfully bid for a casino monopoly from Portuguese authorities in 1962.  He built a harbor to ferry high-stakes gamblers from Hong Kong to his casino, and also had stakes in numerous businesses in the enclave, including department stores, luxury hotels and horse racing tracks.   By the time China gained control of Macau and opened it to foreign competition in 2002, Ho had become notorious not only for his wealth but his flamboyant lifestyle, his love of ballroom dancing and the 17 children he fathered with four wives.  He was forced to restructure his business in 2012 after a legal battle broke out within the family. Ho was also dogged by allegations that he had ties to Chinese criminal gangs known as triads, which he denied.  

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