Cut! Popcorn, candy ban hits French cinemas’ virus recovery

Cut! Popcorn, candy ban hits French cinemas’ virus recovery
A woman wearing a face mask to protect against COVID-19 looks at movie summaries outside a cinema, in Paris on Thursday. No more munching, crunching and slurping at the movies in France. (AP)
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Updated 30 December 2021

Cut! Popcorn, candy ban hits French cinemas’ virus recovery

Cut! Popcorn, candy ban hits French cinemas’ virus recovery
  • COVID-19 measures kicking in Monday will mean an enforced rest for popcorn machines and ice creams
  • The ban of at least 3 weeks on eating and drinking applies to theaters, sports venues and public transport

MARLY-LE-ROI, France: No more munching, crunching and slurping at the movies in France.
The country’s increasingly fraught fight against an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections is putting a stop to eating and drinking at French cinemas, just as they show signs of recovering from the brutal economic bashing of lockdowns last year.
COVID-19 measures kicking in Monday, once France’s New Year’s celebrations are out of the way, will mean an enforced rest for popcorn machines and ice creams left in cold storage. The ban of at least three weeks on eating and drinking also applies to theaters, sports venues and public transport.
For cinema owners hoping to lure back movie fans who switched to home-viewing during the pandemic, not being able to tempt them with candies and soft drinks is another blow. French cinemas sold 96 million tickets in the eight months they have been reopened this year, a jump of 47 percent compared to 2020. But ticket sales are still down 55 percent compared to 2019, before the pandemic, the National Center for Film and Moving Images said Thursday in its look at French cinemas’ annual sales.
Benoit Ciné Distribution, which supplies 70 percent of France’s cinemas with popcorn, sweet treats and drinks, was deluged with both order postponements and delivery requests from movie houses expecting good sales on the final weekend before the food and drink ban, with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Matrix Resurrections” featuring on billboards.
“It’s like being told to apply the emergency brake to the high-speed train,” said Vincent Meyer, a director at Benoit.
Against raging coronavirus infections, the government is hoping its latest measures will also apply a brake on the fast-spreading omicron variant, but without derailing France’s economic recovery that is a vote-getter for President Emmanuel Macron, facing reelection in April.
As well as the food and drink ban, there’ll once again also be limits on crowd numbers at public venues, with no more than 2,000 allowed indoors and 5,000 outdoors. The limits don’t apply to election campaign rallies, infuriating some musicians who will no longer be allowed to perform for stand-up crowds. Some suggested, only half-jokingly, that they may rebrand their concerts as political rallies.
France’s COVID-19 death toll is already at more than 123,000 people. New infections are higher than they have ever been and hospitals are again overburdened with the gravely sick. Many health experts had called for stricter measures than those announced by the government this week, with some pushing for renewed closures of schools and businesses. France reported another 206,243 coronavirus infections Thursday, just shy of the record 208,000 cases set Wednesday.
Michel Enten, manager of the Le Fontenelle cinema in the town of Marly-le-Roi west of Paris, was relieved to stay open, even if he’ll no longer be able to sell cotton candy, popcorn, ices and drinks. He says he has lost about half of his clientele during the pandemic. He expects the ban on food and drinks to hit larger cinemas particularly hard and says it may even help lure back fans to smaller, arty cinemas like his.
“There are lots of people who hate hearing the sounds of popcorn in the auditoriums,” he said. “Perhaps we will win over new movie fans, people who were watching Netflix and are saying to themselves, ‘Now there’s no more popcorn, let’s run to the cinema.’“
Cinemagoers said they understood the need for new measures, although some struggled to see any logic in not being able to indulge their sweet cravings in cinemas or theaters when restaurants are still allowed to serve food and drinks.
“It’s going to be strange to just go to the cinema and do without all these little moments,” Vincent Bourdais said as he lined up in Marly-le-Roi for “Spiderman.”
“Often, when one imagines the cinema, one thinks of the auditorium, the beautiful posters, the popcorn, the smells.”


’End of an era’ as New York removes last of its iconic payphone booths

A worker removes the last public payphone near Times Square in New York City, U.S., May 23, 2022. (REUTERS)
A worker removes the last public payphone near Times Square in New York City, U.S., May 23, 2022. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 May 2022

’End of an era’ as New York removes last of its iconic payphone booths

A worker removes the last public payphone near Times Square in New York City, U.S., May 23, 2022. (REUTERS)
  • Fixed-line payphones began disappearing from the streets of New York in the early 2000s as cell phone use spread, and then vanished even faster in the 2010s with the explosion of smartphones

NEW YORK: Marking the end of an era, New York City on Monday removed the last of its storied payphone booths, which have fallen victim to the ubiquity of free Wi-fi and cell phones in recent years.
But Superman fans can take comfort in the fact that Manhattan will keep four of the defunct booths, made famous as the impromptu changing rooms for journalist Clark Kent as he transformed into the Man of Steel.
Over the decades, the phone booths have featured widely in pop culture, from comic books to Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows.

Workers pose with the last public payphone before its removal near Times Square in New York City, U.S., May 23, 2022. (REUTERS)

That ended Monday morning, when, in front of assembled media, Manhattan borough president — the equivalent of the mayor — Mark Levine had the last booth housing two Bell System payphones at the corner of 7th Avenue and 50th Street dismantled and lifted on to a flatbed truck.
Levine said on Twitter he was “on hand today to say ‘Bye Bye’ one last time to the famed (infamous?) NYC pay phone.”
“I won’t miss all the dead dial tones but gotta say I felt a twinge of nostalgia seeing it go,” he added.
Fixed-line payphones began disappearing from the streets of New York in the early 2000s as cell phone use spread, and then vanished even faster in the 2010s with the explosion of smartphones.

New York City Council Member Julie Won poses for a photo after workers remove the final New York City payphone near Seventh Avenue and 50th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on May 23, 2022. (AFP)

The final blow came when, in 2015, Manhattan went ahead with the installation of thousands of LinkNYC hotspots offering WiFi and free local calls.
Those new kiosks are to be gradually connected to the emerging 5G network.
“Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access,” said Levine, referring to neighborhoods in northern Manhattan, such as Harlem, that are less well covered by telephone and Internet networks.
According to local media, Manhattan will keep four of the old-fashioned phone booths on the Upper West Side, on West End Avenue at 66th, 90th, 100th and 101st streets.


Riyadh police identify, investigate girl who assaulted another in viral video

Riyadh police identify, investigate girl who assaulted another in viral video
Updated 23 May 2022

Riyadh police identify, investigate girl who assaulted another in viral video

Riyadh police identify, investigate girl who assaulted another in viral video

Riyadh Police said they have identified the girl who was seen assaulting another girl in a video that went viral on social media platforms across the country. 

An investigation is ongoing, and the necessary actions will be taken, a spokesperson for the police department said in a statement. 

In the video, a group of girls are seen sitting together when the assailant begins to repeatedly hit the victim on the back of her head in an apparently unprovoked attack. 

One girl steps in to try to stop the attack while others watch. 

Dozens of people took to social media on Sunday to call on authorities to reprimand the assailant using the hashtag “Girl bullies her friend” in Arabic. 

And in a shocking twist a second video has been shared in response to the police tweet which appears to show the same attackers beating a woman in an abaya.

In this video the girls - who are wearing the same clothes and have the same physical features repeatedly punch their victim before two other youths appear to come to her rescue.


Canada celebrates political icon ‘Hurricane Hazel’, aged 101

Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport. (AFP)
Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2022

Canada celebrates political icon ‘Hurricane Hazel’, aged 101

Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport. (AFP)
  • She also played on a professional women’s hockey team for two seasons, losing two teeth while earning Can$5 ($4) per match, which she described as “a princely sum in those days”

TORONTO, Canada: Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada’s largest airport as she forges ahead with a career that has included being a city mayor for 36 years and playing professional hockey.
Her tenacity earned her the nickname “Hurricane Hazel.”
“I don’t know how it came about (that) they call me ‘Hurricane Hazel,’” she said in an interview with AFP at a Mississauga, Ontario exhibit celebrating her life, adding with a boisterous laugh: “I know I move quickly.”

And nothing seems to stop her. Throughout her long life, she says she followed the mantra: work hard and be prepared.

“Hard work never killed anybody, my mother told me that,” she said. “If you want to go anywhere you have to work hard.”
Born in 1921, in Port Daniel, Quebec, Hazel is the youngest of five children. Her father worked in the fishing industry while her mother was a nurse.
She left the family farm at age 16 to continue her education, before taking up secretarial work during the Second World War at a Montreal engineering firm.
She also played on a professional women’s hockey team for two seasons, losing two teeth while earning Can$5 ($4) per match, which she described as “a princely sum in those days.”
In 1951, she married Sam McCallion with whom she had three children.
“She wasn’t always there, but she was there when she needed to be,” recalled her son Peter McCallion, describing her as a “wonderful” grandmother to her only granddaughter.

Inspired by former Ottawa mayor Charlotte Whitton — the first female mayor of a major Canadian city — and Margaret Thatcher, she entered politics in the 1960s.
In 1978, she won the mayoralty of Mississauga on the shores of Lake Ontario, neighboring Toronto — helped at the polls by her refusal to be baited by her opponent’s sexist remarks during the campaign.
Today, she spurns questions on gender and politics. “It has not been difficult at all. I have been supported by men both in business and in politics,” she said, adding that she’s been “fortunate.”
McCallion has left an indelible mark on Mississauga, which has dramatically changed over the past decades as it grew to become Canada’s seventh largest city.
She had been in office only a few months when a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in a populated area of the city, and erupted in flames.
McCallion gained a national profile for managing the mass evacuation of 220,000 residents, in which nobody died or was seriously injured.
“To live a happy life you have to be very positive and you have to feel that you’re contributing. You can’t think of ‘me’ all the time,” she says, explaining her commitment to public service.
She would be re-elected 11 more times to lead the city of Mississauga, making her one of Canada’s longest serving mayors.
According to Tom Urbaniak, author of a book on Mississauga under her watch, her longevity in politics is due to her strong personality and accessibility, but also “her down-to-Earth populism” and outspokenness.
“Hazel McCallion leans toward conservatism but she is extremely pragmatic,” said the Cape Breton University professor, who noted her support for political parties of all stripes.
The self-described “builder” was voted most popular mayor, before retiring three years later at age 93.
A stamp collector, McCallion says she enjoys gardening and making videos for charitable causes, and keeps up with the news, wearing a yellow and blue ribbon on her lapel to show support for Ukraine at war.
“I’ve lived one hundred years and I’ve never felt so negative about what is happening in the world today,” she laments. “It’s very disturbing.”


Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville

Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville
Updated 20 May 2022

Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville

Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville
  • Gordon Smith, 42, disappeared after Scottish side’s defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Europa League final
  • Sister thanks fans ‘and Scotland as a whole’ for helping find her missing brother

DUBAI: A Rangers fan who went missing for nearly 36 hours after Wednesday’s Europa League final in Seville has been found.
Gordon Smith, 42, became separated from his brother Craig, 23, after going to the toilet at a fan zone at about 11 pm, soon after his team had been beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Spanish city.
According to media reports, after waiting for several hours, the younger sibling, from Renfrewshire, went searching for his brother but was unable to track him down.
When the missing man failed to make contact with any of his family members, his sister, Danielle Ashleigh Smith, took to social media to appeal to Rangers supporters to help find him.
She told the media that her brother had not returned to the fan zone and that bags containing the brothers’ passports, money and phones had been stolen.
“Their belongings were stolen at some point in the early hours from Craig,” she said.
Smith described her brother’s disappearance as “out of character” and said at the time she was concerned for his safety.
But on Friday afternoon, she posted on Facebook that the missing sibling had been found “safe and sound” at 11 a.m. that morning.
“He’s safe and en route to some accommodation,” she said.
She also expressed her gratitude at the response she received to her social media plea, saying that several people had offered help with money, accommodation and even flights.
“The support shown from not only Rangers fans but Celtic fans and Scotland as a whole has been amazing and I am proud this is my country,” she wrote.
News reports said a Seville resident had helped liaise with police during the search for Smith.
Younger brother Craig was now preparing to fly home after contacting his family and being issued with emergency travel papers, the reports said.


Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump
Updated 19 May 2022

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump
  • Murad Lamrabette, formerly of Dutch club SBV Vitesse, dies during family holiday in Majorca
  • Lamrabette’s wife recorded 31-year-old’s ill-fated stunt on video that went viral

DUBAI: A Moroccan former footballer leapt to his death while performing a daredevil jump whilst on a family holiday in Spain.
Media reports identified the man as 31-year-old Murad Lamrabette, who played for Dutch club SBV Vitesse’s U23 team in the 2010/2011 Eredivisie season, as well as other professional football clubs in Holland.
Lamrabette died in front of his two children and wife, who filmed him as he attempted to perform a “tombstone” stunt from a 30-meter high cliff during the family’s vacation in Majorca.
The 31-year-old miscalculated his jump, and drowned after hitting a rock and falling into the water below unconscious, said reports.
His wife could be heard shouting “oh my god” as she recorded the stunt in a 14-second video that later went viral across social media and news platforms.
Spanish authorities carried out an autopsy, the results of which indicated that Lamrabatte died from drowning, rather than injuries caused by the impact of hitting the rock.
Reports added that authorities had yet to interview his wife as she was too traumatized by the incident.
After retiring from football, Lamrabatte retrained and became a kickboxing coach.
His former club posted an obituary on its website, and tweeted: “Vitesse has received the sad news that Murad Lamrabatte has passed away. The former attacker of Jong Vitesse has just turned 31. We wish family and friends a lot of strength.”