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Friday, January 12, 2018

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China’s Anti-Graft Campaign: 527,000 People Punished in 2017

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 07:27 AM PST

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) — the highest internal-control institution of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — is currently holding its second plenary session from January 11 to 13. During the session, the CCDI, which has been overseeing the far-reaching anti-corruption campaign launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping since 2012, announced that a total of 527,000 people were published in 2017.

According to the announcement, in 2017, the CCDI received 2.73 million reports on corruption nationwide, dealt with 1.25 million cases, and punished a total of 527,000 people.

Among the 527,000 people, 58 were officials at the provincial and ministerial level or higher, about 3,300 were bureau-level, 21,000 county-level, 78,000 town-level, 97,000 ordinary cadres and the rest were from village or enterprises. And the punishments included warnings, demotion, expulsion from the Party, and removal from office.

The CCDI also revealed that about 48,000 officials were investigated or prosecuted for serious violations of discipline and suspected criminal activity.

Presiding over the CCDI session on January 11, Xi Jinping, who also holds the position of general secretary of the CCP Central Committee, vowed to continue the anti-graft campaign with more efforts. He said:

All-round efforts should see the Party’s political building enhanced, its theory strengthened, its organizations consolidated, its conduct improved, and its discipline enforced, with institution building incorporated into every aspect of Party building… Senior Party members should be subject to higher and more rigorous standards and placed under tighter scrutiny, though all Party members should follow the rules.

It’s worth noting that rather than urging the CCP officials to stay clean and honest, Xi paid much more attention to the importance of being loyal. He demanded that all officials should remain loyal to the Party “at any time, and under any circumstance” and “always be reliable, align themselves to the Party’s central leadership in thinking and deeds, follow the Party’s instructions and fulfill their responsibilities.”

Wang Qishan, who stepped down from the position of anti-graft chief last year, published a more than 5,000 word article in China’s state newspaper People’s Daily on November 11, 2017. In the article, Wang made it clear that what the CCDI focused most on was “political corruption” rather than other kinds, since “political corruption is the biggest corruption.”

He elaborated in the article that there are actually two kinds of “political corruption”: one is when an interest group attempts to steal Party and state power; the other is when a faction tries to undermine the Party’s unity.

Wang’s article seemed to have explained why Xi repeatedly emphasized loyalty in the latest CCDI session.

To demonstrate that the anti-corruption campaign has been extremely popular in China, the state news agency Xinhua claimed in multiple recent articles that “a recent public opinion poll showed that 93.9 percent of those surveyed in 2017 were satisfied with the Party’s anti-graft work, up from 2012’s 75 percent,” without specifying who conducted the poll.

Trump: ‘S–hole’ Was ‘Not Language Used’ in Immigration Meeting

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 06:17 AM PST

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared to deny using the term “s–hole countries” to refer to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations during a heated meeting on immigration, saying in a tweet that it was “not the language used.”

Reports that Trump, in a meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, made the profane remark sparked an evening of anger and outrage on cable news and social media, and some GOP elected officials called on him to apologize. The White House issued a statement that did not deny that he made the remark and Trump took to Twitter at several points, but did not refer to the controversy.

On Friday, he tweeted, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”

About an hour later, he tweeted, “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”

Starting with The Washington Post, multiple news outlets reported that in the meeting on Thursday, Trump responded to a proposal that an immigration deal include protections for Haitians and Africans by saying, “Why are we having all these people from s–hole countries come here? We should have more people from places like Norway.”

Josh Dawsey, the Post reporter who broke the story, said on CNN, “we stand by our reporting 100%.” He noted that Trump’s denial came 15 hours later, and that multiple other outlets also confirmed the remark.

Trump also rejected an immigration proposal that was on the table and attacked Democrats, writing, “Because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards. The Dems will threaten ‘shutdown,’ but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most.”

He was referring to the notion that Democrats would demand that there be protections for Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children — in the next government spending deal. The current government funding runs through Jan. 19. Past government shutdowns, like that in 2013, have meant the closure of government offices, but not essential functions like military defense.

The remark stirred some debate at news outlets whether to use the profane word. CNN and MSNBC used the word “s–hole” multiple times on Thursday, and featured it in their chyron, while Fox News blanked out some of the letters. ABC News and CBS News refrained from using the term. Lester Holt warned viewers before it was said once on Thursday’s broadcast of “NBC Nightly News.”

Facebook Stock Slumps After Mark Zuckerberg Signals Major Changes to News Feed

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 06:16 AM PST

Shares of Facebook dropped more than 5% in premarket trading Friday, as Wall Street reacted negatively to big changes CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined for the social service’s News Feed.

In a post Thursday evening, Zuckerberg said the social giant in 2018 will re-engineer News Feed to emphasize posts from friends and family — rather than from media publishers, businesses and brands — in the year ahead.

“One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent,” the Facebook chief wrote.

Zuckerberg said the change also will mean that “the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down.”

In response, Facebook’s stock saw its biggest decline in months — as investors fear the News Feed changes will crimp the company’s growth trajectory. The stock was trading a little over $177 per share Friday before the market opened, down 5.7% from Thursday’s closing price of $187.77.

“We think the actions the company will take pose a headwind to growth for the business in the near-term,” Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser wrote in a research note late Thursday. “However, we also think that the actions taken will be helpful for the long-term health of the overall business.” He maintained a “sell” rating on Facebook with a year-end 2018 price target of $147 per share.

Zuckerberg, in his post, said Facebook users can expect “to see more from your friends, family and groups” in their News Feed. In addition to surfacing fewer posts from businesses and publishers, he added, the revamped News Feed algorithms will favor third-party content that meets the standard of encouraging “meaningful interactions between people.”

“By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Sundance: Great Point Media Launching U.S. Theatrical Distribution Arm

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 06:00 AM PST

In a pre-Sundance Film Festival move, UK-based media fund manager Great Point Media is launching a US theatrical distribution arm with plans to release eight to 12 titles per year.

The company unveiled the plans Friday, saying that it has already assembled a full slate for 2018, with $10 million in P&A committed to date. The first release will come in March with “Submission,” writer-director Richard Levine’s adaptation of Francine Prose’s novel “Blue Angel,” starring Stanley Tucci and Kyra Sedgwick. It will open in New York on March 2 and will expand to multiple major markets on March 9.

Great Point Media’s distribution slate includes: Judy Greer’s directorial debut, “A Happening of Monumental Proportions,” starring Allison Janney, Jennifer Garner, Katie Holmes, and Common; “Measure of a Man,” a coming-of-age story directed by Jim Loach and starring Blake Cooper, Donald Sutherland, Luke Wilson, and Judy Greer; and Andrew Dosunmu’s drama “Where Is Kyra?” starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Kiefer Sutherland.

“At a time of great change in the market, we’re proud to be giving filmgoers the chance to experience exceptional independent films in some of the best theatres around the U.S.,” GPM co-founder Robert Halmi said.

Great Point Media has partnered with distribution veterans Mark Urman, Jeff Lipsky, and Michael Silberman, and GPM commercial manager Matt Stevens overseeing the releases from the company’s London office.

Founded in 2013 by Reeve and Halmi, Great Point Media is also planning to have a team at the Sundance Film Festival to scout projects for 2019. It’s backed Sally Potter’s “The Party,” “Lady Macbeth,” and “Christine.”

Great Point Media’s international sales arm at the Berlin film Festival next month will represent the Zellner Bros’ Sundance title “Damsel,” starring Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska; Frank Coraci’s Steve Coogan vehicle “Hot Air; and Bill Oliver’s “Jonathan,” starring Ansel Elgort and Suki Waterhouse.

Sony Music Entertainment Appoints Daniel Lieberberg President of Continental Europe, Africa

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 05:25 AM PST

Daniel Lieberberg, a former long-time executive at Universal Music Germany, has been appointed president of continental Europe and Africa at Sony Music Entertainment, where he will be responsible for breaking artists and driving strategic business initiatives across these regions.

In this role, Lieberberg will be based in Berlin, from where he’ll oversee Sony Music’s operations across continental Europe (expect Spain and Portugal) and Africa. He will report directly to Rob Stringer, Sony Music’s CEO.

“Daniel is one of the most outstanding creative and futuristic executives in Europe, and I am very happy that he will now lead a group of territories that contribute significantly to our global business,” said Stringer, adding: “Not only does revolutionary music technology come from some of these countries, but the adage ‘hits can come from anywhere’ has never been truer, and Daniel is uniquely capable of building on this momentum for our company.”

Lieberberg said he looks forward to “working with the many talented executives across the company to take advantage of the vast creative and technological opportunities in Europe and Africa to aggressively build on Sony Music’s global artist development successes.”

Lieberberg worked for 16 years at Universal Music Germany, and from 2014 oversaw the company’s domestic business in Berlin, including the Vertigo/Capitol & Polydor/Island labels. Under his leadership, Universal Music Germany signed Lana Del Rey, Volbeat, Unheilig, Andreas Bourani, and Felix Jaehn, among other artists.

Lieberberg began his career as a booker and talent buyer for Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur, Germany’s leading concert promoter, and worked with artists like the Fugees, Weezer, Alanis Morissette, Faithless and Linkin Park.

Chinese Frigate, Unidentified Submarine Enter Japan-Claimed Waters Near Senkaku Islands

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 05:17 AM PST

On Thursday, the Japanese Ministry of Defense said that a Chinese frigate and a submarine of unknown origin were both spotted in the contiguous zone around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. The incident was the first to involve a submarine in the contiguous zone around the Senkakus.

Japan administers the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which China also claims. The Japanese Ministry of Defense did not immediately clarify if the Chinese frigate, which was a Type 054A Jiangkai-II-class frigate, belonged to the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) or the China Coast Guard, which uses the Type 054A as well.

“This behavior unilaterally raises tensions, and we are seriously concerned about it,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told the press. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga warned China “not to undermine the trend of improvement in Japan-China relations.”

The two recent incursions come shortly after Japan and China reached a bilateral breakthrough in December 2017 concerning their long-sought East China Sea crisis management hotline. Officials from both sides met in Shanghai for two days and decided to implement the hotline.

The crisis management mechanism, however, excludes Japan’s territorial waters and air space around the disputed Senkaku Islands. It does not include the contiguous zone, where a coastal state is afforded some law enforcement rights under international law. (The contiguous zone is a 12-nautical-mile zone that extends out from the end of the 12-nautical-mile territorial sea.)

The incident comes just days after four China Coast Guard vessels entered Japanese territorial waters around the disputed islets. While incursions into Japan’s contiguous zone and territorial sea around the Senkakus are fairly common for Chinese maritime law enforcement vessels and civilian fishing trawlers, incursions by Chinese naval vessels are comparatively rarer.

For example, in 2016, for the first time in years, a PLAN frigate entered the contiguous zone of the Senkaku Islands. The vessel in that incident was a Type 054 Jiangkai-I-class ship.

The presence of a submarine during the latest incident adds a new dimension to the fairly regular Chinese incursions into these waters. (Chinese vessels started frequenting the islands in greater numbers following Japan’s 2012 nationalization of the Senkakus.)

Though the Japanese Defense Ministry has not said the submarine was Chinese, the circumstances suggest that it was likely a PLAN vessel. China has probed Japan’s claimed waters and air space in the East China Sea with a range of assets so far, including aircraft, drones, and surface ships. A submarine adds to this growing list. (While this was the first time a submarine entered Japan’s contiguous zone off the Senkakus, a 2004 incident saw a Chinese attack submarine enter Japan’s territorial waters in the region.)

Bella Thorne’s mother seeing therapist

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 05:00 AM PST

Bella Thorne’s mother is seeing a therapist after finding out her daughter was sexually and physically abused.

Tamara Thorne was devastated when she read about what the ‘Shake It Up’ actress had to endure as a young girl and says she is still “processing” it.

She told DailyMail.com: “It’s a private family matter and I only just found out now. I’m just talking to a therapist about it. I’m processing it – it’s not something I knew about before. I hadn’t heard about it before. I want to talk to my therapist first about it. I’m actually going to see a therapist, a psychologist about it.”

Bella revealed recently that she was sexually abused until she was 14-years-old and recalled being mistreated “from the day she can remember”.

She wrote on Instagram: “I was sexually abused and physically growing up from the day I can remember till I was 14 … when I finally had the courage to lock my door at night and sit by it. All damn night. Waiting for someone to take advantage of my life again. Over and over I waited for it to stop and finally it did. But some of us aren’t as lucky to get out alive. Please today stand up for every soul Mistreated. #timesup (sic)”

And in another post on Twitter, she added: “I never knew what was right or wrong growing up … I didn’t know the person sneaking into my bed room at night was a bad person. (sic)”

Bella is staying strong though, according to her close friend and ex-boyfriend Gregg Sulkin.

Gregg said’: “I spoke to her. She’s good. You saw at the Golden Globes this week how important it is for certain messages to be put out into the universe. For anybody that has ever experienced that kind of thing, they do have a voice. It must be extremely difficult and hard to try to share their story, [but] the more stories that are shared, hopefully the less it will happen.”

Kylie Jenner has baby-proofed house

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 05:00 AM PST

Kylie Jenner has already baby-proofed her house.

The ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ star is expecting her first child with her partner Travis Scott and is said to have already put things in place to make sure everything is ready for the arrival of her little one.

A source shared: “The nursery is done. She’s a go-getter like her mother [Kris Jenner]. No way she waited long to set that up! … Anything sharp has already been taken out.”

The 20-year-old star has made a conscious decision to stay out of the spotlight whilst pregnant.

An insider told Us Weekly magazine: “She’s very happy about the pregnancy but she doesn’t want to share this with the world. Her not being out is strictly personal preference. She wants to keep this one aspect of her life private.

“She spent her adolescent life on television and has been famous for over 10 years now. If this is the first thing she wants to keep to herself, she should be allowed that. She’s worked hard enough to do whatever she wants.”

Meanwhile, it was previously revealed that the the brunette beauty has been busy working on a nursery for her little one.

A source said: “She loves to talk about the nursery. She received a lot of gifts at her shower, including baby necessities and clothes. She has also bought a lot of things herself. Not wanting to get out much, her focus has instead been on buying things online for the baby … She has expressed some concerns about giving [birth] and the recovery, but she isn’t freaking out. It seems more like first-time mom concerns.”

Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy Spall set as ‘Mrs Lowry & Son’

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 04:26 AM PST

Leading British actors, Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave will head the cast of “Mrs Lowry & Son.” The film examines the relationship between early 20th century painter L.S. Lowry and his mother, Elizabeth.

To be directed by Adrain Noble, former head of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the film will shoot from mid-January in Greater Manchester and London. Production is by Geniuses Pictures in association with Moya Productions and IPG Media in Australia. International sales are being handled by Robbie Little for The Little Film Company.

Known for his unique depictions of the industrial North West of England, Lowry lived all of his life with an overbearing, bed-ridden and depressed mother. He spent his days as a rent collector, and his evenings at art classes, undeterred by his antagonistic mother criticism.

The screenplay is by Martyn Hesford (“Fantabulosa!”), adapted from his stage play of the same name. The producer is Debbie Gray (“Northern Soul,” “Maxine Peak as Hamlet,” “The More You Ignore Me”). Director of photography is Josep M. Civitediting by Chris Gill (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “28 Weeks Later”), with production design by Catrin Meredydd (“Black Mirror”). Costume design is by two-time Academy Award winner Jenny Beavan (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The King’s Speech”).

Redgrave has credits including “Howard’s End” and “Atonement” and, more recently, “Foxcatcher” and “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.” Spall won the best actor award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner.” Other credits include the “Harry Potter” film series, “The King’s Speech” and “The Damned United.”

Kerry Washington praises Scandal for making a legacy

Posted: 12 Jan 2018 04:00 AM PST

Kerry Washington believes ‘Scandal’s legacy will be to put more women of colour at the helm of TV series.

The 40-year-old actress has starred as political fixer Olivia Pope in the hit drama since 2012, with its seven and final season about to air this year, and she believes it will change television for the future.

She told the Los Angeles Times: “I think the fact that in my lifetime there had not been a black woman at the lead of a television show and now everywhere you look, every single network has women of colour helming shows. I think that will be part of the legacy of the show.”

The ‘Django Unchained’ star also heaped praise on ‘Scandal’s creator Shonda Rhimes for putting characters of all ages and ethnicities at the forefront of the show.

She added: “I think [it’s] very true that Shonda and [casting director] Linda [Lowy] have really allowed for characters to have a lot of different races and ages and ethnicities. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot after Sterling K. Brown’s speech at the Golden Globes – at the same time, Shonda was very specific from the beginning that Olivia Pope would be black because she was inspired by a real African American woman and she felt that her racial identity had real ramifications on the construction of her soul and she wanted those things to be connected.”

Joshua Malina, who plays US Attorney General David Rosen, also believes ‘Scandal’ should be credited with groundbreaking use of social media.

He said: “The intersection of technology and TV will also be part of the legacy, because I think our live-tweeting the show was part of the life’s blood of our early success, and I think we’ll get an asterisk in the record book for being one of the first to do it.”