Red carpet filled with color for Oscars ceremony after tumultuous Hollywood year

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90th Academy Awards - Oscars Arrivals - Hollywood, California, U.S., on Sunday - Nominee for Best Visual Effects, Christopher Townsend. (REUTERS)
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2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Arrivals Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Sunday. (REUTERS)
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This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Frances McDormand in a scene from "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," which is nominated for an Oscar for best photo. (AP)
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90th Academy Awards - Oscars Arrivals – Hollywood, California, U.S., 04/03/2018 - Jennifer Lawrence. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Elizabeth Chambers, left, and Armie Hammer arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP)
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Leslie Mann arrives at the Oscars on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP)
Updated 05 March 2018
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Red carpet filled with color for Oscars ceremony after tumultuous Hollywood year

LOS ANGELES: Stars arrived on the Oscars red carpet on Sunday under sunny but breezy skies for an Academy Awards ceremony filled with suspense over which will win the best picture, and whether the Hollywood sexual misconduct scandal will steal the spotlight on the movie industry’s biggest night.
“Get Out” actress Allison Williams, “I, Tonya” supporting actress Allison Janney, supporting actor nominee Christopher Plummer and “Spider-Man” star Tom Holland were among the early arrivals. Women sported flowing blue, lavender and white gowns often embellished with sequins and crystals.
Sandra Bullock, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Black Panther” star Lupita Nyong’o, Jane Fonda and Nicole Kidman are among an eclectic lineup of presenters due to take the stage on Sunday.
The best picture Oscar — presented at the end of the 3-1/2-hour show — is anyone’s guess this year.
Fox Searchlight fantasy romance “The Shape of Water” with a leading 13 nominations, Fox Searchlight dark comedy “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and Universal Pictures racial satire “Get Out” all have a fighting chance, awards pundits say.
“I think ‘Get Out’ seems to have the momentum right now,” said Dave Karger, special correspondent for entertainment website IMDB.com.
“Three Billboards,” the tale of an angry woman seeking justice for her daughter’s killer, scooped honors earlier this year, but “Get Out,” a bold horror movie that became a talking point around modern-day race relations in America, won best picture at Saturday’s independent Spirit Awards.
Hollywood also has other issues on its mind, including the sexual misconduct scandal that has brought down dozens of once-powerful men, and lingering questions over racial and gender fairness in the movie business.
The Time’s Up campaign against sexual harassment in the workplace, spearheaded by celebrities including Reese Witherspoon and Ava DuVernay, will be recognized in some form in Sunday’s ceremony, organizers say.
History could be made on Sunday.
“Get Out” director and writer Jordan Peele is vying to become the first black man in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 90-year history to win a directing Oscar.
“Lady Bird” director Greta Gerwig could be only the second female to take home that prize when the decision of the 8,000 academy members is announced.
“Every year, the discussion around the awards is less and less who will win, but how many women are nominated, or how many blacks and Asians lost,” said Tom O’Neil, founder of awards website GoldDerby.com.
Host Jimmy Kimmel has the task of navigating the wider political themes with the celebrations. He is also expected to turn into a running joke last year’s embarrassing best picture envelope mix-up that saw musical “La La Land” being declared winner instead of “Moonlight.”
No such suspense surrounds the main acting races, where Frances McDormand is heavily favored to win for her turn as an angry, grieving mother in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and British actor Gary Oldman’s performance as wartime leader Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” is widely expected to bring his first Oscar.
In the supporting actor categories, odds are on Allison Janney for “I, Tonya,” and Sam Rockwell for “Three Billboards” after they swept previous awards.


China dog meat fest opens as South Korea goes the other way

Updated 22 June 2018
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China dog meat fest opens as South Korea goes the other way

  • The annual Yulin dog meat celebration opened without a hitch on Thursday
  • Eating dog to mark the summer solstice is a tradition in China’s Guangxi region

YULIN, China: As South Korea moves closer to banning dog meat, diners tuck into bowls of stewed canine in southern China, where activists are rethinking their tactics to counter a notorious festival that butchers thousands of dogs.
The annual Yulin dog meat celebration opened without a hitch on Thursday, a day after a South Korean court announced it had ruled that the slaughtering of dogs for meat was illegal.
Activists say the ruling could pave the way for the outlawing of dog meat consumption in South Korea, but there is less progress in China where advocates fear their tactics have been counterproductive.
Eating dog to mark the summer solstice is a tradition in China’s Guangxi region, where the festival has been held since 2009 to mark the occasion in the town of Yulin.
Despite rumors last year that Yulin authorities would ban dog meat sales altogether, many restaurants advertised the controversial offering this week with the veiled moniker of “fragrant meat.”
Carcasses were on display for purchase in the city’s open-air markets — though there were fewer of them than in previous years, locals said.
The Dongkou wet market downtown bustled with shoppers meandering past piles of dogs laid out atop butcher stalls for them to inspect. Others hung from hooks, their faces locked in a rigid grimace.
Market workers pulled in cartfuls of dead dogs while sweaty men blow-torched the fresher carcasses to remove any remaining fur. On the street, a man transported two live mutts in a cage on the back of his scooter.
As police patrolled outside the market premises, one woman bought a full dog for 662 yuan ($102), saying she would eat it with her family to celebrate the summer solstice.
“It’s very tasty,” another local surnamed Chen said, insisting “they’re all strays — strays and pets are different.”
Chen did not consider it cruel to consume the meat during what the Chinese zodiac system deems the Year of the Dog, quipping: “don’t you eat chicken in the year of the rooster, and pork in the year of the pig?”
But vendors were more discreet than usual.
They cooked in narrow alleys or inside their restaurants instead of preparing dog dishes in front of patrons, ushering diners inside and not serving outdoors.
Thousands of dogs are butchered during the event, the animal protection organization Humane Society International estimates — a fraction of the more than 10 million consumed each year in China.
Animal rights activists have typically attended the festival to purchase ill-fated dogs and save them from slaughter, said Qiao Wei, an activist from the Si Chuna Qiming Animal Protection Center.
But now they feel that working to establish a general ban on the dog meat trade would be much more effective.
“We have no hope that we can bring change just by going to Yulin,” he said. Simply buying dogs “doesn’t help.”
International animal rights groups concur, saying that focusing so intensively on dog meat consumption in just one city at an annual event risks becoming counterproductive.
“It would be far better to have a holistic campaign that works collaboratively across the country, engaging the government and public to acknowledge animals as our friends, not food,” said Jill Robinson, founder of the Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation.
Chinese leader Mao Zedong had banned dog ownership for being bourgeois, but the ranks of China’s rising middle-class are now full of proud and loving dog owners.
This year, the foundation set up an online portal where Chinese citizens can report restaurants that operate illegally.
Tipsters have already flagged some 1,300 restaurants in 153 cities, with over 200 of them shut down, forced to stop selling the meat, or issued warnings, said Robinson.
Before the festival, animal protection groups from around the world submitted a letter with 235,000 signatures to Beijing, calling for the event’s abolishment.
The tide appears to be turning against dog meat consumption elsewhere in Asia, and Chinese animal lovers like Zhang Huahua, a 62-year-old retired lecturer-turned-activist, sense change is in the air.
Zhang came to Yulin all the way from her home in the southern province of Guangdong to submit a letter with recommendations to the local government.
Her hope is to save dog lives by changing the system itself.
In South Korea, where one million dogs are believed to be eaten annually, a court ruled that meat consumption was not legitimate grounds for killing canines, after an animal rights group accused a dog farm operator of slaughtering dogs “without proper reasons” and violating building and hygiene regulations.
Last April, Taiwan banned the consumption, purchase and possession of both dog and cat meat, with offenders facing a fine of up to Tw$250,000 ($8,170).
But many in Yulin viewed the news with a shrug.
“They can do what they want,” said a resident surnamed Huang, who nonetheless wasn’t fond of the taste of dog himself.