Meyers faces tough task to set Golden Globes tone amid Hollywood harassment scandal

Seth Meyers signed on for the job of Golden Globes host after Hollywood's sexual harassment scandal broke last year. (AP)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Meyers faces tough task to set Golden Globes tone amid Hollywood harassment scandal

LOS ANGELES: Seth Meyers is known for weaving comedy into his treatment of hard-line news on his nightly talk show, but as the host of Sunday’s Golden Globes, he has the unenviable task of setting the tone for Hollywood’s awards season as the sexual harassment crisis continues spreading throughout the industry and beyond.
Meyers signed on for the job after the scandal broke last year, so he knew what he was getting into.
“And my first instinct was, ‘Oh this is probably not the most fun year to do this,’” he said. But the creative team at “Late Night with Seth Meyers” excels at addressing current events with humor and accuracy, he said, and they are working with him to write material for the Globes.
Meanwhile, Gal Gadot, Saoirse Ronan, Mary J. Blige and Allison Janney will all be dressed in black at the ceremony as part of a planned anti-harassment protest, and all three voiced their support for a new initiative, Time’s Up, that’s aimed at supporting women who bring complaints.
“I am one of those women, so, you know, I don’t want to go into detail about that and I haven’t, but I am, and I stand with those women. I champion them,” Blige said Tuesday at the Palm Springs International Film Festival awards.
Blige, who earned a Globe nomination for her supporting role in “Mudbound,” said the Time’s Up campaign and the wear-black protest are important “because there’s so many women that don’t get a chance to speak in other industries that are not the film industry, the music industry. It’s important for us to stand up for them so they can get a chance to speak.”
Janney isn’t sure what dress she’ll wear, but she’s certain it will be black.
“I think that will be really powerful,” she said. “I will be in a black dress and be proud to be standing there with the other actresses.”
Janney, a supporting actress nominee for “I, Tonya,” also stands with Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, Jennifer Aniston and hundreds of other Hollywood women who formed the Time’s Up coalition, launched Monday with an open letter vowing support for women in the entertainment business and beyond — janitors to health care workers.
The organization, which dovetails with the Me Too movement, will include a legal defense fund and will advocate for legislation combating workplace harassment. Time’s Up also is backing the call for women to wear black, in solidarity with those who have been sexually harassed, at the Golden Globes ceremony.
Dozens of men have faced harassment and assault allegations in recent months, including Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose and Kevin Spacey.
The Golden Globes will be broadcast live on NBC.


Olympic dreams: Palestinian swim team braves pollution to train in Gaza waters

Updated 22 October 2018
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Olympic dreams: Palestinian swim team braves pollution to train in Gaza waters

  • Conditions are far from perfect; the waves make serious training difficult and they have little equipment
  • ‘We lack even the simplest equipment such as goggles and swimsuits’

BEIT LAHIA, Palestinian Territories: On one of the world’s most polluted coastlines, 30 young Palestinians dive head first into the sea off the Gaza Strip, their minds filled with dreams of Olympic glory.
Aged between 11 and 16, they make up a rare swimming club in the Palestinian enclave, and perhaps its only mixed-sex one.
Coach Amjad Tantish talks through a warm-up before they race from the trash-strewn beach into the sea as he continues to bark instructions.
Conditions are far from perfect; the waves make serious training difficult and they have little equipment.
But Tantish explained that there are no free public swimming pools in the Gaza Strip, so they had to brave the sea.
“We lack even the simplest equipment such as goggles and swimsuits,” he said. “We don’t have any funding.”
The Mediterranean hugs the entire 40-kilometer western border of the Gaza Strip, but almost no one enters its waters.
The desperate shortage of energy and lack of sanitation infrastructure mean around 100 million liters of poorly treated sewage are pumped into the sea every day, according to the United Nations.
In the worst spots along the shore the sea is tinted brown.
More than 95 percent of tap water is polluted, and water-related diseases are the primary cause of child mortality in Gaza, according to the World Health Organization.
The UN says the situation has come about mainly because of Israel’s crippling land and sea blockade of Gaza, warning recently the enclave is “imploding.”
Israel says the measures are necessary to isolate Hamas, the group that runs Gaza and with which it has fought three wars since 2008.
It accuses the group of squandering international aid on arms and fortifications.
Israel has seized dozens of diving suits and other swimming aids it says Hamas was seeking to smuggle into Gaza for military purposes.
For those still willing to get wet, environmental experts say the water near Beit Lahia in northern Gaza has the lowest rates of pollution.
And so the team train there a few times a week, helping to fuel their dreams.
Tantish says the squad dreams of competing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, though he knows that is improbable.
Even getting a visa to leave Gaza via Israel is an almost insurmountable hurdle.
“We have many opportunities to participate in outdoor training camps and in Arab competitions, but travel is a major obstacle,” he said.
The Palestine Olympic Committee sent only six athletes to the 2016 Games.
Four of those, including the two swimmers, were invited to attend despite not meeting the minimum requirements.
But even they had regular access to pools and neither were based in Gaza.
Abdul Rahman, 15, said he hopes to become a “hero and achieve first place in international competitions.”
Mixed-gender activities are rare in conservative Gaza, particularly in the sporting arena.
The girls mostly wear long black swim trousers and red blouses, with their heads largely uncovered.
Tantish, 42, said in the past it “was not an acceptable idea, we faced many difficulties and troubles.”
Now, he said, attitudes have changed.
“Families drop their daughters off to practice swimming and the proportion of women reached 30 percent.”
Rania, 32, was walking with her husband along the beach but stopped to watch the swimming.
“I don’t think being religious stops our girls from being like other people or from having this beautiful ambition,” she said.
Most of the girls joining this year decided to get involved at their own initiative, Tantish said.
Ruqiya, 14, said she loves the atmosphere at the club.
“I started learning to swim three years ago and recently I joined the team. My family supports me and I train and play with my friends in the sea.”
She dreams of becoming a professional: “We want a large swimming pool specially to train for the Olympics.”