TIME celebrities

Burt Reynolds Is Auctioning His Belongings to Tackle Financial Woes

Burt Reynolds
Burt Reynolds accepts the alpha male award at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Culver City, Calif. Frank Micelotta — Invision / AP

The 78-year-old screen legend has been bankrupted by a string of poor business decisions

Burt Reynolds is selling his Golden Globe for best supporting actor in Boogie Nights and over 600 other items to deal with his financial problems.

The auction is being organized by Julien’s at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas and takes place on Dec. 11 and 12. Apart from dozens of trophies, the collection includes cars, art, prop guns, a monogrammed carriage gifted by Dolly Parton, a multitude of signed photographs, and film memorabilia such as the red leather jacket Reynolds wore in Smokey and the Bandit II.

In a foreword to the catalog, Reynolds writes “I’ve collected so many things that I truly adore but at this stage of my life I find it very difficult to manage them all.”

The 78-year old actor was one of Hollywood’s greatest stars in the 1970s, but a string of poor business decisions have bankrupted him and already forced him to sell several of his homes, writes Sky News.

Reynolds, who underwent quintuple heart bypass surgery in 2010, has revealed that he will publish a memoir late next year.

TIME Hong Kong

Seven Hong Kong Police Officers Arrested for Allegedly Beating Democracy Activist

Attack was captured by local TV news crew

Seven Hong Kong police officers have been arrested on suspicion of beating a political activist who was taking part in the city’s pro-democracy protests.

The police force stated that the officers had been arrested on suspicion of “assault occasioning actual bodily harm.”

The case concerns Civic Party member and social worker Ken Tsang, who was lead away and then assaulted by a group of police officers following clashes between protesters and police in the early hours of Oct. 15.

Caught on video by a local TV news crew, the incident instantly became a cause célèbre and severely aggravated tensions between citizens and the police.

TIME Environment

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Is Easing Up

An aerial view of a tract of Amazon jungle recently cleared by loggers and farmers near the city of Novo Progresso
An aerial view of a tract of the Amazon jungle recently cleared by loggers and farmers near the Brazilian city of Novo Progresso, Pará state, on Sept. 22, 2013 © Nacho Doce / Reuters—REUTERS

In fact, it just fell to its second lowest level in 25 years

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has fallen to its second lowest level in 25 years, according to the country’s Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Teixeira said 4,848 sq km of forest were cut down between August 2013 and July 2014, compared with 5,891 sq km during the same period a year earlier, the Associated Press reports.

The drop is a surprise, since environmental groups have been warning of an increase following the adoption of a controversial 2012 bill that eases clearing restrictions for small landowners.

“The major message is O.K., is good: Brazil has been advancing,” says Marco Lentini, coordinator of the Amazon program for WWF’s Brazil branch, while cautioning: “It doesn’t mean that the deforestation issue is over.”

The Amazon rainforest, considered an essential natural defense against global warming, is gradually being razed to make way for cattle grazing, soy plantations and logging. Sixty percent of the forest is found in Brazil, which has pledged to reduce deforestation to 3,900 sq km per year by 2020.

[AP]

TIME Books

Previously Unknown Letter from Camus to Sartre Discovered

Albert Camus LIDO/SIPA—AP

The missive was written only months before the friends fell out, and was found above a collector's fireplace

A previously unknown letter from Albert Camus to Jean-Paul Sartre has been unearthed after hanging above an autograph collector’s fireplace for decades.

The long missive is believed to have been written in March or April of 1951, shortly before the two famous French author-philosophers fell out, Agence France-Presse reports.

Writing from his apartment in Paris, Camus among other things recommends Spanish actress Aminda Valls for one of Sartre’s plays, calling her a “marvel of humanity.”

An autograph collector acquired the letter in the 1970s and kept it framed in his home until recently, when it was passed to a bookseller and subsequently sold to a French collector.

Camus published The Rebel about six months after writing the letter, and Sartre went on to criticize the book. This led to the demise of their amicable relationship, and Sartre destroying almost all of their correspondence.

[AFP]

TIME Thailand

Thai Children Break World Record for Dressing as Christmas Elves

Students gather to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of Christmas elves outside a shopping mall in Bangkok on Nov. 25, 2014 Chaiwat Subprasom—Reuters

Largest gathering ever of Santa's little helpers near Bangkok

Santa’s little helpers are getting busy in Thailand’s capital Bangkok.

On Tuesday, 1,792 children dressed in matching red, green and white hats and T-shirts and pointy plastic ears to break the Guinness World Record for the largest Christmas elves gathering, Reuters reports.

The previous record was set when 1,110 little elves got together in Wetherby, England.

“I’m happy to have helped break the world record and steal the title from England,” said 11-year-old Theerathep Noonkao, who attended the event in his wheelchair.

While predominantly Buddhist, Thailand breaks out the holiday sheen every year, as shops and hotels widely decorate for Christmas.

[Reuters]

TIME movies

The Piano That Was Used in Casablanca Has Been Sold for $3.4 Million

Movie MemorabiIia Auction
This Nov. 21, 2014 photo shows the piano on which Sam plays "As Time Goes By," a bamboo and cane cafe chair the front doors of Rick's Cafe Americain, and a Moroccan-style painted metal floor lamp from "Casablanca," part of the "There's No Place Like Hollywood" movie memorabilia auction, at Bonhams auction house, in New York. Richard Drew—AP

"Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake."

The piano on which Ilsa famously asked Sam to play “As Time Goes By” in Casablanca was sold at a New York auction on Monday for $3.4 million.

A miniature instrument, and golden yellow in color, the piano is hard to recognize as an iconic prop from the 1942 blockbuster, which featured Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa, Humphrey Bogart as Rick and prominent African-American jazz drummer and band leader Dooley Wilson as barroom pianist Sam. (Remarkably, since posterity remembers him as a pianist, Wilson did not actually play the piano, but had the keyboard tinkling for Casablanca overdubbed.)

Despite the piano’s diminutive size — it has 30 fewer keys than normal — it didn’t fail to upstage the other movie memorabilia on sale at Bonhams. The Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz came closest, fetching $3.077 million.

Catherine Williamson, the director of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, said that the Casablanca piano is such a significant piece because Humphrey Bogart hides the letters of transit, his only possible escape from Morocco, in the instrument.

“Fifteen minutes into the movie, he tucks them in there,” she told the New York Times. “They’re under there while Sam plays; they’re there for all of the activity that happens in the cafe. The piano is there. It represents the way out for them. That’s what made it so important.”

The letters of transit were sold separately for $118,750.

TIME Asia

More Barricades Come Down at Hong Kong Democracy Protests

City bailiffs encounter no major opposition

Hong Kong bailiffs dismantled barricades at a major intersection in the Mong Kok protest area on Tuesday.

The site, on the teeming Kowloon peninsula, is one of three urban locations that have been occupied for almost two months by protesters demanding free elections for this city of 7.2 million.

Workers in white hard hats started taking down barricades at the intersection of Nathan Road and Argyle Street on Tuesday morning. Many activists did not resist but simply retreated with their tents and belongings to the main part of the site, which stretches for several blocks down Nathan Road and remains untouched. However, scuffles also broke out, pepper spray was used and about a dozen protesters were arrested for obstructing the bailiffs in their work, including Liberal Hong Kong politician Leung “Long hair” Kwok-Hung.

One-way traffic has now resumed on Argyle Street, but protesters and onlookers have spilled into adjoining roads. Police presence remains high in the area, with officers warning people to leave. Further clearance operations are expected in the coming days.

This morning’s action was taken in order to enforce a civil injunction granted to a bus company and two taxi companies, who successfully argued in court that the barricades at the intersection were obstructing their business.

Similar legal means were used last week to force the removal of some barricades at the fringes of the main protest site in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong Island.

Critics of the authorities say the reliance on private litigation to restore order is a sign of the government’s weakness.

“I think this is a political problem that the government is not solving with politics,” said a 50-year-old retiree, who only identified himself by his surname Lim.

Unique among Hong Kong’s three protest sites, Mong Kok is not just a commercial area but a high-density residential neighborhood as well.

Currently dozens, perhaps hundreds, of colorful tents still festoon both sides of Nathan Road, completely blocking the main thoroughfare through the district. Protesters have set up a study area, makeshift library, supply tents, first-aid posts and even an elaborate altar to the martial deity Guan Yu.

Many of the area’s mostly blue-collar residents have complained bitterly about the disruption the protest is causing to their daily lives, generating heated arguments and scuffles with the protesters on a daily basis. The area is thus seen as the “front line” of the Hong Kong protests and attracts a more radical brand of demonstrator than the other protest zones, as well as their more vociferous opponents.

For these reasons, any attempt to clear the Mong Kok site completely could easily spill over into clashes.

On Oct. 17, police cleared the site in the morning, only for thousands of supporters to reclaim it after nightfall. That night, and ones before that, were marred with scattered violence.

“If they remove this roadblock, we will come back soon,” said a nurse who identified himself as Siu at the protest site in Mong Kok.

While recent polls have shown that a majority of the city’s residents now think that the occupations should end, it appears that large numbers of protesters have no intention of withdrawing.

With reporting by Helen Regan and David Stout / Hong Kong

TIME Kenya

Kenya Says It Has Killed Around 100 al-Shabaab Fighters

Extremists hit in retaliation for the slaying of 28 travelers on Saturday

Kenya says it has killed around 100 al-Shabaab militants after pursuing them into Somalian territory.

The deaths are in reprisal for the slaying of 28 people on Saturday, when the extremist group stopped a bus in Kenya’s north and reportedly separated Muslims from non-Muslims before killing the latter.

“Two successful operations were carried out against the perpetrators of these murderous executions across the border,” Kenya’s Vice President William Ruto said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

The attacks, which have yet to be independently confirmed, reportedly destroyed one of al-Shabaab’s camps in Somalia, as well as four truckloads of weapons, the Guardian says.

Kenya has been the victim of several al-Shabaab attacks since Nairobi started battling the Somalia-based outfit in 2011. In September 2013, 67 people were killed in Nairobi after a group of militants seized the Westgate mall.

TIME China

China Is Building an Island Large Enough for an Airstrip in Disputed Waters

The reclaimed land mass is situated among the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, claimed by five Southeast Asian nations

China appears to be building an island large enough to carry an airstrip in a disputed part of the South China Sea.

Satellite imagery shows a narrow land mass and harbor area taking shape over the previously submerged Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands, claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan, reports IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.

This is the fourth such Chinese project in the archipelago, located between the Philippines and Vietnam, and by far the largest.

Tensions have run high in the South China Sea for decades, but especially since the recent discovery of oil-and-gas deposits in the region. Earlier this summer, China and Vietnam came at loggerheads over the Chinese deployment of an oil rig in contested waters.

If China does build an airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef, it would put Beijing on a par with Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam who all have such capability in the Spratlys.

“It appears that’s what they’re working toward,” U.S. military spokesman Lieut. Colonel Jeffrey Pool told Agence France-Presse. “We urge China to stop its land-reclamation program, and engage in diplomatic initiatives to encourage all sides to restrain themselves in these sorts of activities.”

Fiery Cross Reef was previously only equipped with a concrete platform, operated by China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy. The platform hosts a garrison, a pier, air-defense guns, antifrogmen defenses, communications equipment and a greenhouse, and may soon be connected to the new island.

The dredgers currently at work on the reef are also creating a harbor that appears big enough to receive tankers and major surface combatant vessels.

TIME Tunisia

The First Free Tunisian Election Is Heading Toward a Runoff

A Tunisian citizen casts her vote at a polling station during the Tunisian presidential election on Nov. 23, 2014, in Fouchana, suburb of Tunis Nicolas Fauque—Images des Tunisie/Sipa USA/AP

But former Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi appears to be in front

Neither of the two main candidates is likely to win an outright majority in the first free Tunisian presidential election, with a runoff likely.

Former Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi appears to be in front for the Dec. 28 second round, after receiving between 42% and 47% of the vote according to two private exit polls, the New York Times reports.

His opponent, interim President Moncef Marzouki, won between 29% to 32% of the vote.

Tunisia comes out of two disorderly years governed by an Islamist-led coalition, of which Marzouki’s party was a part.

The electoral commission said voting participation was 60%, reports the Associated Press. Official results are expected in the coming days.

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