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NYC’s Chinatown Welcomes Year of the Pig With Vvibrant Parade

Drums, dragons and dancers paraded through New York’s Chinatown on Sunday to usher in the Year of the Pig in the metropolis with the biggest population of Chinese descent of any city outside Asia.

Confetti and spectators a half-dozen or more deep at points lined the route of the Lunar New Year Parade in lower Manhattan.

“The pig year is one of my favorite years, because it means lucky — everybody likes lucky — and, for me, a relationship or family” and a better life, Eva Zou said as she awaited the marchers. “Because I just moved here several months ago, so it’s a big challenge for me, but I feel so happy now.”

There’s an animal associated with every year in the 12-year Chinese astrological cycle, and the Year of the Pig started Feb. 5.

Some marchers sported cheerful pink pig masks atop traditional Chinese garb of embroidered silk. Others played drums, banged gongs or held aloft big gold-and-red dragons on sticks, snaking the creatures along the route. Someone in a panda costume marched with a clutch of well-known children’s characters, including Winnie the Pooh, Cookie Monster and Snoopy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, both Democrats, were among the politicians in the lineup, where Chinese music mixed with bagpipers and a police band played “76 Trombones,” from the classic musical “The Music Man.”

The lunar year is centered on the cycles of the moon and begins in January or February. Last year was the Year of the Dog.

While some parade-goers were familiar with the Chinese zodiac, others said they were just there to enjoy the cultural spectacle or partake in a sense of auspicious beginning.

“We’re here to get good luck for the year,” said Luz Que, who came to the parade with her husband, Jonathan Rosa.

His hopes for the Year of the Pig?

“Wellness, well-being and happiness,” he said.

Fiascos and Fumbles: Oscar Organizers Stumble to Restore Glory

First it was the furor over a proposed new “popular” film category, then it was the fiasco over planned host Kevin Hart, and last month the organizers of the Oscars were accused of intimidating celebrities not to present at rival award shows.

Last week, another storm erupted when, as part of a pledge to shorten next Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, plans to present awards for cinematography, film editing, live-action shorts and makeup/hairstyling during commercial breaks were slammed as insulting by actors, directors and cinematographers. Five days later, the plan was scrapped.

It’s been a tough 12 months for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as it battles to restore its annual Oscars show to a must-see event after the U.S. television audience slumped to an all-time low last year.

“This year, the bigger question than who will win at the Oscars is what the heck is going on at the academy?” said Tim Gray, awards editor at Hollywood trade publication Variety.

“There have been a slew of bungles,” Gray added. “I feel they are flailing around and acting out of desperation.”

Under pressure from the ABC television network to trim and liven up the ceremony, the academy has seen many of its efforts backfire.

Bungles include a retreat in September over a proposed new “popular film” category, the withdrawal in December of Oscars host Kevin Hart because of past homophobic tweets, and an accusation in January by the U.S. actors union that the academy was pressuring celebrities not to appear or present at award ceremonies other than the Oscars.

The Oscars is the last in a long Hollywood season that sees award shows and celebrity-packed red carpets every week over two months.

“The academy is caught between its role as a venerable institution that confers honors for the ages on film and the demands of the hurly-burly of social media, the 24/7 news cycle and the demands of the ratings,” said Sharon Waxman, founder and editor in chief of Hollywood website The Wrap.

‘People really care’

The academy did not return a request for comment for this story, but said in a letter to members last week that show producers “have given great consideration to both Oscar tradition and our broad global audience.”

ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke told reporters earlier this month she believed that the publicity around the Kevin Hart withdrawal showed the Oscars was still relevant.

“I, ironically, have found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars has kept the Oscars really in the conversation, and that the mystery has really been compelling,” Burke said. “People really care.”

The missteps have all but drowned out initial kudos over this year’s diverse Oscar nominations list, which range from art house films like “Roma” to superhero blockbuster “Black Panther” and crowd-pleasing musicals “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “A Star is Born.”

Awards watchers say the Academy’s efforts to deliver a compelling show for viewers next week still risk falling flat.

“The Academy is dealing yet again with what appears to be a leading film that is a very small film, in Spanish, and in black and white, that has not been seen by that many people, Waxman said, referring to best picture front-runner “Roma.”

Recent best-picture winners include small art-house films “The Shape of Water” last year and “Moonlight” in 2017.

“That is the more fundamental problem the Academy is facing with this telecast,” Waxman added.

Variety’s Gray said that, for the movie industry, the Oscars ceremony is always an enjoyable family get-together.

“The Oscars should also be fun for the viewing audience,” he said. “We will see if they are.”

Dinosaurs Tracks Saved from Australian Floods

A team of Australian paleontologists and volunteers has saved a once-in a lifetime fossil discovery from devastating floods in Queensland state.

The dinosaur tracks give a rare insight into an ancient world.  Found on an outback farm near the Queensland town of Winton, 1,100 kms from Brisbane, they are estimated to be almost 100 million years old.

The footprints are stamped into a large slab of sandstone rock, and were made by a sauropod, a giant creature with a long neck and tail, and by two smaller dinosaurs.  Some of the footprints are up to a meter wide and come from the Cretaceous period.  

Scientists were alerted to the danger posed to this remarkable collection when it was partly damaged by severe flooding last year.

For three weeks scientists and volunteers worked to carefully dig up and relocate the dinosaur tracks.   

They are being stored at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum in Winton, where they will eventually go on display.

David Elliott is the museum’s executive chairman.

“We really want to preserve the integrity of the tracks.  We do not want to just tear them up and go and lock them on the ground somewhere.  You know, they have to be done a certain way.  We cannot just leave it here because that is, you know, [a] find of a lifetime.”

Dinosaur tracks are rare in Australia.

Steve Poropat, a paleontologist at Swinburne University in Melbourne says the footprints were saved from recent monsoonal flooding in Queensland.

“The imperative was to get those soft footprints out of the ground because they just would not have lasted in another flood now that they have been fully exposed.  To get it all out of the ground, to make sure that it is safe from future floods is fantastic,” he said. 

Monsoonal rains in Queensland have caused chaos, flooding hundreds of homes and drowning several hundred thousand livestock.  Officials said it was a one-in-100-year event, and they have warned it could take years to rebuild the local cattle industry.

As the floodwaters recede on land, they are polluting parts of the Great Barrier Reef.  Experts say plumes of polluted water are stretching up to 60 kms from the coast, putting more pressure on coral that has suffered mass bleaching in recent years.  When ocean temperatures increase, corals can expel the algae that live in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white.

The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s greatest natural treasure and stretches 2,300 kms down Australia’s northeast coastline.

Кінотеатр «Київ» передадуть в оренду на 10 років – влада

Київська влада має намір передати в оренду на 10 років будівлю кінотеатру «Київ», повідомляє прес-служба Київської міської державної адміністрації.

За повідомленням, департамент комунальної власності отримав п’ять звернень від юридичних осіб щодо наміру взяти в орендне користування будівлю кінотеатру «Київ».

«Про намір заявили ГО «Фонд «Молодість», ПрАТ «Мультіплекс-Холдинг», ТОВ «Планета Кіно», ТОВ «Компанія «Таурус-Альянс» та ТОВ «Сінема-Центр». Департамент видав доручення першому заявнику на проведення оцінки будівлі кінотеатру і 4 лютого затвердив висновок про вартість», – сказав 15 лютого заступник голови КМДА Володимир Слончак.

Відповідно до висновку, вартість будівлі становить майже 171 мільйон гривень, стартова орендна плата складатиме близько 569 тисяч гривень.

Читайте також: Київський кінотеатр «Кінопанорама» закривається напередодні 60-річчя – директорка

У КМДА заявляють, що кінотеатр «Київ» продовжить свою роботу «в нинішньому форматі – з акцентом на фестивальний профіль, покази арт-хаусного кіно тощо».

«Зокрема, відповідно до попередніх умов конкурсу, орендар має приділяти значну увагу популяризації українського національного кінематографу, продовжити співпрацю з найбільшими міжнародними кінофестивалями, у тому числі КМКФ «Молодість», «DocuDays», «КРОК», Одеський МКФ тощо, а також посольствами для проведення фестивалів національного кіно різних країн; здійснювати покази артхаусного кіно, а також проводити освітні та благодійні заходи», – заявив Слончак.

До 1 березня включно департамент комунальної власності Києва буде приймати заяви від потенційних орендарів.

Після завершення 10 робочих днів із наступного дня після публікації інформації департамент за результатами надісланих пропозицій і підтверджень сплати першої частини авансової орендної плати протягом 3 робочих днів ухвалюватиме рішення про передачу об’єкта в орендне користування на конкурсі, що буде оголошений на першому засіданні постійної комісії Київської міської ради з питань власності.

Конкурс проведуть через 20 календарних днів з дати публікації оголошення.

Кінотеатр «Київ» відкрився в 1952 році.

Pan African Festival Connects African Diaspora Through the Arts

More than 100 artisans and 170 films from around the world are being showcased at the 27th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles. 

The multiday event in the largely African American neighborhood of Baldwin Hills aims to connect Africans to people of African descent from around the world.

“As a result of the slave trade and colonization, African people are spread all over the planet, so we get a chance through this festival, get a chance to know each other,” said the festival’s executive director, Ayuko Babu.

Film, fine art, fashion and jewelry with Africa as inspiration are all featured at the festival.

“I never think of us as African American. I think of us as Africans in America, and in coming from that perspective, the ancestral lineage of art and Africa is beyond belief,” said jewelry artist Henry Baba Osageyfo Colby of Timbuktu Art Colony.

Film festival

Filmmakers from around the world, such as Nigerian director and actress Stephanie Linus, also attended the festival.

“Connecting all of us to film that is especially about us and we can see a reflection of ourselves and tell our stories and get a better understanding about where I’m coming from,” said Linus, who presented her movie, Dry, at the festival.

The film is about child marriage and the devastating effects of the practice. It is a social issue in Nigeria that surprised Linus when she first learned about it while attending college.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my God, can you believe that we’re living in the same country? We’re having two totally different experiences.’ We in the south (of Nigeria) are able to go to school, have an education, decide what happens to our bodies, and there’s some people up in the north where they don’t even have those choices.”

Linus has used the power of the media to bring awareness to child marriage, which affects girls around the world.

“I’m happy that people have taken proactive action because we screened the movie in Gambia and a month later, the government banned child marriage in Gambia,” Linus said.

Dialogue and education

One of the main goals of the festival is to create dialogue and education through film and the arts.

“We know there’s profound things happening around the black world, and so this is a way to amplify that make people pay attention,” Babu said.

This year’s festival opened Feb. 7 and runs through Feb. 18.

Gourmet Grubs Wriggle onto American Palate

A huge shipping container in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, is the home of some of the nation’s smallest livestock. Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch is Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm, and one of fewer than three dozen companies in the U.S. growing insects as human food or animal feed.

Wendy Lu McGill started her company in 2015, and today grows nearly 275 kilos of crickets and mealworms every month. “I want to be part of trying to figure out how to feed ourselves better as we have less land and water and a hotter planet and more people to feed,” she explains.  

Feeding the world’s appetite for protein through beef and even chicken is unsustainable, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.  Protein from bugs is more doable.


On the global menu


Edible insects are a great source of high quality protein and essential minerals such as calcium and iron. Edible grubs — insect larvae — offer all that, plus high quality fat, which is good for brain development.


Insects are part of the diet in many parts of the world. Analysts say the global edible insects market is poised to surpass $710 million by 2024, with some estimates as high as $1.2 billion. And while American consumers comprise a small percentage of that market today, there is growing demand for a variety of insect-infused products.


Thinking small


Amy Franklin is the founder of a non-profit called Farms for Orphans, which is working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “What we do is farm bugs for food because in other countries where we work, they’re a really, really popular food,” she notes.


In Kinshasa’s markets, vendors sell platters of live wild-caught crickets plus big bowls of pulsating African Palm weevil larvae. These wild insects are only plentiful in certain seasons. 

Franklin’s group helps orphanages grow African Palm weevil larvae year round, in shipping containers. “Most of the orphanages don’t own any land. There really is no opportunity for them to grow a garden or to raise chickens. Insects are a protein source that they can grow in a very small space.”


Changing the American palate


It’s estimated that more than 2 billion people worldwide eat insects every day. And even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that consumption of crickets and mealworms is safe and that they are a natural protein source, many Americans, like Denver grandfather Terry Koelling, remain skeptical. As he and his grandchildren take a tour of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, he admits, “I don’t think they are very appealing, as something to put in your mouth.  You see them around dead things, and it just does not appeal to me to eat something that wild.”

But his 5-year-old grandson Andrew is adventurous enough to try a baked salted mealworm and announces that it “tastes kind of crunchy and kind of yummy.”


Koelling gets adventurous at Linger, a Denver restaurant that has had an insect entree on its menu for three years.


Culinary director, Jeremy Kittelson, says Linger is committed to changing the American palate. “As much as we love beef,” he says, “there’s no scientist who will tell you cattle farming is a sustainable practice. We should eat more insects.”


And so Koelling takes a forkful of the Cricket Soba Noodle dish, with black ants, sesame seeds and crickets mixed in with green tea soba noodles, and garnished with Chapuline Crickets.


“The seasoning’s great!” he says with surprise, adding, “Seems to me there weren’t enough crickets in it!”