TIME Crime

Celebrities Are Protesting Ferguson Grand Jury Decision With ‘Blackout Black Friday’

Social media campaign to encourage boycott of biggest shopping day of the year

A social media campaign calling for a boycott on spending this Black Friday has caught the attention of celebrities.

In an effort to protest the Missouri grand jury’s decision on Monday not to indict officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in August, US celebrities have taken to social media to use the hashtags #NotOneDime, #BlackoutFriday and #BlackoutBlackFriday to advocate for a retail boycott. They include actors Michael B. Jordan and Jesse Williams, Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, actress Kat Graham, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and journalist Soledad O’Brien . The hashtags are meant to encourage people to stop shopping on the biggest retail day of the year as a protest against police brutality.

The campaign was started by a grassroots group called Blackout for Human Rights, which aims to “to raise awareness that builds and maintains pressure on the instruments of power until we are satisfied that the current threat has passed.” The group has hopes to “make Black Friday (November 28, 2014) a nationwide day of action and retail boycott.”

[Telegraph]

TIME Pakistan

Bollywood Actress Veena Malik Sentenced to 26 Years in Jail For Blasphemy

Veena Malik during promotional event
Veena Malik promotes her movie Zindagi 50 50 at the India Today multiplex in Noida, India. Ramesh Sharma—India Today Group/Getty Images

The actress appeared in a scene that referenced Muhammad's daughter

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has sentenced film and television star Veena Malik to 26 years in jail after she appeared in a scene that the Guardian describes as “loosely based on the marriage of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter.”

The sentence stemmed from a blasphemy charge, which was also levied at Malik’s husband, businessman Asad Bashir Khan and Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, owner of the Jang-Geo media group which aired the TV show, for their parts in the scene which aired in May. Khan and Shakil-ur-Rahman were also sentenced to 26 years. None of the accused were present in court.

The offending scene was a reenactment of Malik and Khan’s own wedding, acted as musicians played a devotional song about the wedding of a daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. After the episode aired, the senior vice president of a chapter of the Muslim religious organisation Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat made an official complaint, saying the show had defiled the family of the Prophet Muhammad, by using the religious music.

The sentence was handed down by judge Raja Shahbaz, who said, “The malicious acts of the proclaimed offenders ignited the sentiments of all the Muslims of the country and hurt the feelings, which cannot be taken lightly and there is need to strictly curb such tendency.”

[Guardian]

TIME

Robin Williams’ Napa Valley Estate Hits The Market for $25.9 Million

The 639-acre property has been reduced

Three and a half months after the death of Robin Williams, the beloved actor’s Napa Valley estate has been listed for sale.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that the Good Morning, Vietnam star’s longtime home was once listed in 2012 for $35 million and has recently hit the market again at a reduced $29.5 million. According to THR, the property consists of a “20,000-square-foot, three-story main house [with] five bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a screening room and climate-controlled storage for wine and art. There is also a four-bedroom caretaker’s house nearby. Outdoor amenities include infinity and lap pools, a nine-stall horse barn, tennis court, hiking trails and a spring-fed pond for bass fishing.”

Apparently the estate had been nicknamed Villa Sorriso, which means Villa of Smiles.

Williams killed himself on Aug. 11 at his home in Tiburon, Calif. He was 63.

[THR]

 

TIME Books

Crime Novelist P.D. James Dies at 94

Oxford Literary Festival
Author P.D. James poses for a portrait at the Oxford Literary Festival on April 9, 2011 in Oxford, England. David Levenson—Getty Images

The British writer was known as “the Queen of Crime” for her popular mystery novels

British crime writer Phyllis Dorothy James White — who wrote under the name P.D. James — has died at her home in Oxford, England, it was announced Thursday. She was 94.

James, who wrote more than 20 books, was known as “the Queen of Crime,” for her fiction. Some of her best-known works included The Children of Men, which was adapted into a film in 2006, The Murder Room and Death Comes to Pemberley, a spin-off of Pride and Prejudice.

Born in Oxford in August 1920, James did not publish her first novel, Cover Her Face, until she was 42. She went on to become an international success, with many of works being adapted for the screen. She was also awarded the Crime Writers’ Association’s Diamond Dagger award in 1987 for lifetime achievement and the Medal of Honor for Literature in 2005 by National Arts Club. In 1991, she was named a Conservative life peer under the title Baroness James of Holland Park.

James told the BBC last year that she was working on another novel, though she noted, “With old age, it becomes very difficult. It takes longer for the inspiration to come, but the thing about being a writer is that you need to write.”

The news of James’s death was announced by her UK publisher Faber & Faber. In a statement, the publisher said of James: “She was so very remarkable in every aspect of her life, an inspiration and great friend to us all. It is a privilege to publish her extraordinary books. Working with her was always the best of times, full of joy. We will miss her hugely.”

[BBC]

TIME India

Indian Girls Who Were Believed Murdered Took Their Own Lives

An official investigation into the gang-rape and murder of two girls in India in May rules that the victims actually committed suicide

Following worldwide outrage over the alleged gang-rape and murder of two girls, aged 14 and 15, in India earlier this year, the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now ruled that the girls took their own lives and were not gang-raped and murdered.

When the two girls were found hanging from a tree in a field near their home in the Badaun district in the state of Uttar Pradesh last May, it was widely reported that they had been gang-raped and killed. According to the BBC, an exam initially confirmed several sexual assaults and death due to hanging and three men were arrested in connection with the girls’ deaths.

The men were released on bail in September and, according to the CBI’s investigation, subsequent forensic tests have since concluded the girls were not sexually assaulted. “Based on around 40 scientific reports the CBI has concluded that the two minor girls in the Badaun case had not been raped and murdered as had been alleged,” CBI spokeswoman Kanchan Prasad told the BBC on Thursday. “Investigation has concluded that it is a case of suicide.”

Women’s activists and the families of the girls have voiced their suspicions over the CBI’s findings.

“CBI has tried to fudge the case and save the accused from the very beginning,” Sohan Lal, father of one of the girls, told the BBC. “I am very angry with their decision. The team did not show any promptness while investigating the case.”

MORE: Photos of The Indian Village Shocked By Brutal Rape and Murder Case

[BBC]

TIME France

France Considers Scrapping Its 35-Hour Working Week

The French 35-hour working week might be under threat in light of the country's economic woes

France has long had the reputation of taking a lax approach to working life. But now, the New York Times reports that the country is reconsidering the official 35-hour working week amid reports that the policy is abused by employers and creating financial hardships for employees.

The shorter working week was implemented in 2000 by the then-Socialist government as a way to stimulate job creation. But according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, French employees work an average of 39.5 hours per week, just shy of the eurozone average of 40.9 hours per week. According to the Times, the shorter working week hasn’t kept unemployment down — which is at 10.2 percent in France — and might even have led to the rise in part-time contracts, which employers increasingly use to avoid having to pay full-time staff overtime.

[NYT]

TIME russia

Watch Dozens of Passengers Help Push a Frozen Russian Plane

A group of intrepid passengers helped push a plane stuck on a Russian tarmac despite freezing temperatures

Though it sounds like a punchline of a joke, scores of passengers at an airport in Igarka, Russia, located about 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle, tried to push a frozen aircraft that was stuck on the tarmac on Wednesday. It wasn’t an easy task. The New York Times reports that the temperature in Igarka was -47.2°F (-44°C) and the aircraft, a Tupolev-134 jet, weighed 70-tonnes.

Oksana Gorbunova, a spokeswoman for the West Siberia Transportation Prosecutor, told Tass news agency: “In order to deliver the plane to the taxiway, the passengers were invited to leave the plane and move to a bus parked nearby. After that, some of them arbitrarily left the bus and approached the plane trying to assist with the use of physical force.”

A video of the mission was recorded and uploaded to YouTube where it quickly went viral.

Though there have been conflicting reports on why the plane broke down — and who was responsible for the mishap — the transportation prosecutor told the New York Times in a statement that the aircraft’s braking system had frozen and another key part had stalled. The statement added that prosecutors “will assess the legality of the actions of all those involved.”

[NYT]

TIME food and drink

Beware of Nutmeg This Thanksgiving

Too much of the spice can make you feel as if you are "encased in mud"

There’s a new threat this holiday season. The New York Times reports that toxicologists have a warning for anyone getting into the spices over Thanksgiving to be extra careful of nutmeg.

The spice has long been noted for its unpleasant side effects when abused or taken in large quantities, thanks to a chemical in it called myristicin, which “belongs to a family of compounds with psychoactive potential.” It seems that the spice has often been used by prison inmates or teenagers who are looking for an accessible high. As little as two tablespoons of nutmeg can cause what the Times describes as “an out-of-body sensation.”

So just what does an overdose of nutmeg feel like? “People have told me that it feels like you are encased in mud,” Dr. Edward Boyer, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, told the Times. “You’re not exactly comatose, but you feel really sluggish. And your remembrance of events during this time period is incomplete at best.”

Boyer also told the Times that he’d seen two cases of nutmeg poisoning that were so severe, the patients needed to be hospitalized.

There is good news, however, for most nutmeg fans. The amount of spice added to traditional pumpkin pie recipes or sprinkled on egg nog won’t cause any adverse reactions.

[NYT]

TIME movies

Ridley Scott Explains Why He Cast White Actors In Exodus: Gods and Kings

The famed director's upcoming film is set in Egypt, though there are no actors of color in lead roles

Those watching the trailer for the upcoming biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings for the first time might be struck by the film’s cast, though not for its talent, but for its uniform whiteness.

The Ridley Scott film counts Christian Bale (as Moses), Joel Edgerton (as Ramses), Sigourney Weaver (as Tuya) and Aaron Paul (as Joshua) as its leading cast, despite being set in ancient Egypt. The casting caused some outrage online, to which Scott has now responded in an interview with Variety. “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such,” the 76-year-old director said when asked about casting so many white actors. “I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

The answer isn’t likely to ease the backlash against the film. On social media, critics have been urging people to #BoycottExodusMovie for the “whitewashing” of the story.

[Variety]

TIME Canada

Canadian Radio Host Jian Ghomeshi Charged With Sexual Assault

Jian Ghomeshi
Jian Ghomeshi in Toronto on Jan. 22, 2010. Chris Young—AP

Radio host has been accused of assault by 11 women and one man

After weeks of revelations and allegations, Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking.

The news was announced by the Toronto Police Services on Wednesday in a statement that revealed Ghomeshi had surrendered to police and would be appearing in court later that day. He has been formally charged with “four counts of sexual assault” and one count of “overcome resistance – choking,” according to the statement which also went on to define sexual assault as “any form of unwanted sexual contact. It includes, but is not limited to, kissing, grabbing, oral sex and penetration.”

The charges mark a dramatic turn in the unfolding scandal that has gripped Canada since Oct. 26, when Ghomeshi was fired from his job at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). As the host of pop culture radio show Q — one of CBC’s flagship programs — 47-year-old Ghomeshi had long enjoyed celebrity status in Canada. When he revealed in a long Facebook post days later that he had been fired because he enjoyed “adventurous forms of sex” and was being smeared by a jealous ex-girlfriend, many people immediately rallied to his defense. Ghomeshi’s Facebook statement also said, “my tastes in the bedroom may not be palatable to some folks…. But that is my private life.” He also filed a $55 million (US$48.9 million) lawsuit against the CBC for breach of faith and breach of confidence.

But Ghomeshi’s post prompted the Toronto Star to publish a story they’d been investigating for months, featuring allegations by three women who said that they had been punched or choked by Ghomeshi without consent and allegations of sexual harassment by a former Q employee. The Toronto Star story inspired more people to come forward with their own allegations. To date eleven women and one man have accused the former radio host of harassment, physical abuse and sexual assault.

Many women shared explicit details of the alleged assaults. In an interview with the CBC radio show The Current, Lucy DeCoutere, an actress on the Canadian TV show Trailer Park Boys said when she’d gone home with Ghomeshi after a date, “he did take me by the throat and press me against the wall and choke me.” She added, “There was no build-up. When it went from smooching to smacking, there was no build-up.”

Another woman, lawyer Reva Seth, writing in The Huffington Post, alleged that in 2002 Ghomeshi unexpectedly attacked her one night: “Jian had his hands around my throat, had pulled down my pants and was aggressively and violently penetrating me with his fingers. When it was over, I got up and it was clear I was really angry. My sexual interactions until then had always been consensual, enjoyable and fun.”

As the story dominated Canadian media support for Ghomeshi fell away, as friends and colleagues publicly denounced his actions and offered support for the women coming forward. Toronto Police announced that their sex crimes unit had opened an investigation on Oct. 31.

CBC had also filed a notice of motion to dismiss Ghomeshi’s lawsuit on grounds the legal action was “without merit and an abuse of the court’s process,” shortly after it was originally filed. According to the Star, CBC had made the original decision to fire Ghomeshi after he came to them about potential allegations being made in the press and “showed CBC executives… a video which revealed bruising on the torso of a woman he had dated. He also showed them text messages that referred to a ‘cracked rib.’ A source said Ghomeshi had showed it as an example of how rough sex that causes bruising can be consensual.”

This week, Ghomeshi agreed to drop his lawsuit against the CBC and pay the broadcaster $18,000 (US$16,000) in legal fees, before he turned himself in to Toronto police. The last statement he made on Facebook before deleting his social media accounts, was on Oct. 30 when he wrote, “I intend to meet these allegations directly.”

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