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‘CODA’ wins Oscar for best picture | News

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The win for deaf family drama ‘CODA’ marks the first time a streaming service took Hollywood’s biggest prize.

“CODA”, the heartwarming movie about a deaf family with a hearing daughter, has won the prestigious best picture prize at the Oscars.

Sunday’s win for CODA marked the first time a streaming service took home the film industry’s biggest prize.

“CODA” was released by Apple TV+, which beat Netflix Inc’s contender “The Power of the Dog” and other entries from traditional Hollywood studios.

Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli presented the award to the film, which follows teenage Ruby – who can hear – as she juggles pursuing her musical ambitions with her family’s dependence on her to communicate.

Deaf actors feature in several lead roles.

“I really want to thank the academy for recognizing a movie of love and family at this difficult time that we need today,” producer Patrick Wachsberger said in front of the film’s cast stood on stage.

“CODA” managed to take home the coveted prize despite being one of the least-nominated films with only three coming into Sunday. Not since 1932’s “Grand Hotel” has a movie won best picture with fewer than four nods.

Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger celebrate after winning the Oscar for Best Picture for "CODA" at the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California,
Philippe Rousselet, right, Fabrice Gianfermi, left, and Patrick Wachsberger, centre, celebrate after winning the Oscar for Best Picture for “CODA” at the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US, March 27, 2022 [Brian Snyder/ Reuters]

Earlier, a 94th Academy Awards that steadily maintained a buoyant spirit was rocked when best actor winner Will Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock onstage over a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock referenced the 1997 movie “G I Jane,” in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head.

Smith slapped Rock in what at first appeared to be a scripted joke. But the theatre turned sombre moments later when Smith, back in his seat, shouted back, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth”.

The comment was silenced during the live US broadcast on Walt Disney Co’s ABC.

Smith later apologised to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and to his fellow nominees as he tearfully accepted the Oscar for best actor for playing the father of Venus and Serena Williams in “King Richard”.

“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father,” he said, “just like they said about Richard Williams.”

Jessica Chastain landed the best actress award for playing TV evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”.

In other awards, Jane Campion won the Oscar for best director for her dark Western “Power of the Dog”.

Campion, who had been the first woman ever twice nominated in the category (previously for 1993’s “The Piano”), is just the third woman to win best director. It is also the first time the directing award has ever gone to women in back-to-back years after “Nomadland” filmmaker Chloe Zhao won last year.

Troy Kotsur made history as the first deaf man to win an Oscar, earning best supporting actor for his role in “CODA”.

Kotsur played Frank Rossi, the father of a teenager who struggles to help her family’s fishing business while pursuing her own aspirations in music.

“This is amazing to be here on this journey. I cannot believe I am here,” Kotsur said in a heartfelt speech delivered in sign language as he accepted the supporting actor honour.

He dedicated his golden statuette to the deaf and disabled communities.

“This is our moment,” he said.

Supporting actress went to Ariana DeBose for playing the spirited Anita, who sings “America” in Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story”.

DeBose, who first made her name on Broadway, celebrated her historic win for “an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina”.

Disney’s “Encanto” was named best animated feature, while “Summer of Soul” won best documentary for musician Questlove’s first movie about the huge “Black Woodstock” festival that took place in 1969 Harlem.

Japan’s “Drive My Car,” a Japanese arthouse film based on a short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami, was named best international film.



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Is a new strategy needed to fight armed groups in the Sahel? | Conflict

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Video Duration 24 minutes 45 seconds

From: Inside Story

Mali pulls out of the regional G5 Sahel force, blaming a lack of progress and disagreements.

A founding member of a multinational West African security alliance is pulling out.

Mali is withdrawing from the G5 Sahel joint force fighting armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.

The military government blamed a lack of progress and internal divisions.

It also accused a country outside of the region of trying to isolate Mali, without providing details.

With France, Germany and the European Union reducing their involvement in Mali, who’ll be left to look after security in West Africa?

Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom

Guests:

Niankoro Yeah Samake – Malian politician and president of the Party for Civic and Patriotic Action

Emmanuel Kwesi Aning – Director of research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre

Jacques Reland – Senior research fellow at the Global Policy Institute



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European energy giants set to keep buying Russian gas | Oil and Gas News

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The European Union’s guidelines appear to allow the continent’s energy giants to keep buying Russian gas without breaching sanctions.

By Bloomberg

European energy giants are pressing ahead with plans to keep buying Russian gas as the European Union’s guidelines appeared to allow them to do so without breaching sanctions.

Even as conflicting messages continued to emerge from Brussels over the legality of complying with Moscow’s demands to pay for gas in rubles, Italy’s Eni SpA said it was opening a ruble account to keep the gas flowing.

It’s the clearest sign yet that the biggest European importers of Russian gas are counting on business as usual. Germany’s Uniper SE and Austria’s OMV AG also expect to find a way to keep buying.

Moscow’s demand on March 31 that gas payments should now be made in rubles threw markets and policy makers into disarray and companies have been scrabbling ever since for a way to keep the crucial energy flowing without breaching sanctions aimed at weakening Russia in its war in Ukraine. The move has divided the bloc, with Poland and Bulgaria quick to reject Moscow’s demands — and have their gas cut off as punishment.

Share of natural gas imports coming from Russia, 2020 |

The bloc has issued two sets of guidance on the matter so far, both of which allow room for interpretation. There’s still nothing in writing from the Commission that explicitly stops companies from paying Gazprom PJSC in a way that the Russian company has indicated would be satisfactory.

Gas prices fell on Monday as the latest Brussels missive to member states stopped short of banning companies from opening bank accounts in rubles. Then on Tuesday, European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said that opening an account in rubles would go beyond the recommendations and constitute a breach of sanctions. Gas prices rose, before easing back again after Eni said it was pressing ahead.

“Anything that goes beyond opening an account in the currency of the contract with Gazprombank and making a payment to that account and then issuing a statement saying that with that you consider you have finalized the payment contravenes the sanctions,” Mamer said.

The issue has divided the bloc, with Poland outraged at the EU’s reluctance to set out clear red lines. In the opposite camp, Prime Minister Mario Draghi went as far as to say that it was a gray area when it came to sanctions. And enforcing sanctions is a matter for member states, rather than the bloc.

“There is no official pronouncement of what it means to breach sanctions,” he said. “Nobody has ever said anything about whether ruble payment breach sanctions.”

(releads)

–With assistance from Vanessa Dezem, Jonathan Tirone, Alberto Nardelli and Jerrold Colten.



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EU set to approve new military aid for Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell says bloc set to approve another 500 million euros ($527m) in military aid for Ukraine.

European Union defence ministers are set to approve another 500 million euros ($527m) in military aid for Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said.

“We have to continue to support the Ukrainians with arms, that’s why we will pull 500 million euros more” from the European Peace Facility, Borrell told reporters on Tuesday on the way to the meeting of EU defence ministers.

The new tranche of military support would bring the bloc’s military aid to 2 billion euros ($2.1bn).

Borrell also expressed support for Finland and Sweden’s requests to join NATO and hoped the alliance would be able to overcome Turkey’s objection to the bids.

According to Borrell, the two countries will “receive strong support from all member states because it increases our unity and makes us stronger”.

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht and her Luxembourg counterpart Francois Bausch argued both countries belonged in NATO “because of the values that they are defending”.

Sweden has signed a formal request to join NATO, a day after the country announced it would seek membership in the 30-member military alliance.

Legislators in Finland have formally approved Finnish leaders’ decision to join as well.

The moves by the two Nordic countries, ending Sweden’s more than 200 years of military non-alignment and Finland’s non-alignment after World War II, have provoked the ire of the Kremlin.

While most NATO members are keen to welcome the two countries as quickly as possible, Turkey has potentially complicated their accession by saying it cannot allow them to become members because of their perceived inaction against exiled Kurdish fighters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday doubled down on comments last week indicating that the two Nordic countries’ path to NATO would be anything but smooth.

He accused the two Nordic countries of refusing to extradite “terrorists” wanted by his country.

“Turkey has opposition to this. Turkey says that the two harbour terrorism, that they have supporters of the PKK and the Kurdish nationalists living in their countries. This is something that throughout the week is going to be a big issue,” Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays reported from Brussels.

“We understand that the Turkish foreign minister and the US secretary of state are going to meet in New York in the coming days but how can this issue be overcome?”

Turkey is a NATO member. All 30 NATO countries must agree to open the door to new members.

Sanctions against Russia stalled

The EU has been unable to agree on its sixth package of sanctions against Russia – which includes asset freezes and travel bans on prominent supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The plan outlined earlier this month by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen included an embargo on Russian oil imports to come into effect at the end of 2022.

The sanctions against Russia target individuals including Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as banning the export of luxury goods, and coal imports, and excluding Russian and Belarusian banks from using the SWIFT international payment system.

However, Hungary, which is nearly completely dependent on Russian oil, is holding up an EU-wide embargo that requires unanimity from the 27 member states.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has likened the oil embargo to an atomic bomb hitting his country’s economy.



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