Geneva, July 8 (AP/UNB) — Just like her fellow Hong Kong protesters, pop star Denise Ho is standing up to China. Just like them, she seems to have gotten under Beijing's skin — this time at an international human rights venue.
The Cantopop singer used her star power to stand up to China's economic and political power at the U.N.'s top human rights body Monday, telling the Human Rights Council that human rights were under attack in Hong Kong and asking whether it would suspend China as a member of the 47-nation body for its abuses.
Ever sensitive to its growing international reputation, China shot back and interrupted Ho twice during her allotted 90-second slot. The chair, Iceland's ambassador in Geneva Harald Aspelund, gave some gentle reminders, but let her keep talking.
Ho's comments were some of the sharpest and most varied criticism of China that the council has heard since the United States pulled out last year, partly over Trump administration complaints that too many rights-violating states were among its members. The U.S. had been generally seen as one of the countries least hesitant to stand up to its rising rival at the Geneva-based council.
Ho ripped into the bill that would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited to mainland China for trial, saying such a move would "remove the firewall protecting Hong Kong from interference of the Chinese government" — an allusion to a British-China agreement linked to Hong Kong's handover to China in 1997.
Chinese diplomat Dai Demao quickly upbraided her, saying she had wrongly referred to Hong Kong "side-by-side" with China. He said that was an affront to the widely recognized "One China" policy.
Ho then denounced the disqualifications of lawmakers, the jailing of activists, and the "cross-border kidnappings" of booksellers in Hong Kong as signs of "China's tightening grip." She said Hong Kong autonomy had slowly eroded since the handover. She accused China of "preventing our democracy at all costs" such as by appointing as Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam, who the protesters want to see ousted.
Dai burst in again to reject "unfounded allegations" and appealed to the chair that she refrain from using "abusive language."
Unbowed, Ho raised the tone again, asking the council whether it would suspend China and convene an urgent session to protect people in Hong Kong amid rising protests.
UN Watch, the advocacy group that hosted Ho, faulted Western countries for not speaking out in her defense. China's envoy also blasted the non-governmental organization, saying it had "abused its consultative status" and engaged in slandering — without mentioning the group or Ho by name.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Ho said she hadn't received any threats for her outspokenness.
"I don't know if it will stay this way," she said. "I will stand strong."
In an interview with The Associated Press before the session, Ho said the implications of China's alleged rights abuses went far beyond Hong Kong, in places like Tibet and China's Xinjiang region, home to many Uighur Muslims.
"This is a very serious issue and a global issue, that not only touches Hong Kong people, but really the global world — where you see governments they are silencing themselves, because of being afraid of political reprisal, economic reprisal," she said.
Ho praised a "creative move" by protesters in Kowloon over the weekend who reached out to incoming tourists from mainland China, saying many people in China had been "brainwashed to think that Hong Kong people are just rioters and anti-China, which is not true."
Ho said her activism has come at a price: She hasn't had any commercial work for the last several years, and she can't travel to China. But she brushed off the personal impact, and said she'll stay committed to the cause — even though she can't predict how things will evolve.
"The police they are still using excessive force," she said. "As long as the Hong Kong government keeps on ignoring everything that's happening and just pretending that it's OK, these protests will go on — I'm quite sure of that."
Rio De Janeiro, July 8 (AP/UNB) — Fans from around the world honored bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto, filing past his coffin at his funeral in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.
A small string orchestra and choir performed one of Gilberto's most famous songs, "Chega de saudade" as his body was displayed in an open casket at the entry of Rio's Municipal Theater.
Dozens of friends and family joined in and sang along, including Gilberto's daughter Bebel Gilberto, also a singer, who smiled and cried while turning to hug and kiss her younger sister Luisa.
Earlier Monday morning, his wife Maria do Ceu stood alongside the body as fans passed through to say their goodbyes. Gilberto's ex-wife Claudia Faissol was also present.
Huge funeral wreaths were lined up behind Gilberto's coffin with banners that read, "To the master of masters, João Gilberto," and "All the love for our genius, João." One fan stood on the steps to the theater holding up a homemade sign that read "Go with God, João Gilberto."
"His music reminds me of my teenage years," said Graciela de la Torre, a 67-year-old fan from Argentina. "That smooth, rhythmical tone to sing, it's so beautiful. ... We used to dance with our boyfriends to this music."
Josef Fitz of German said Gilberto's art "was exciting. It was a special kind of music, a new kind of music."
Jader Cruz, a 77-year-old from Rio de Janeiro, said he's been listening to Gilberto's music since he was 16.
"He will stay alive inside us, he will not die, his music will not disappear," Cruz said. "He left a mark with that strength he had, that sweetness and love he put while playing, that is unforgettable."
Gilberto, a two-time Grammy winner, also was honored at the final of the Copa America soccer tournament held in Rio de Janeiro. Tens of thousands of fans stopped for a minute of silence for Gilberto before the game started Sunday and pop star Anitta closed her opening performance by screaming, "Light to the master, João Gilberto!"
The Latin Recording Academy said in a statement on Monday that Gilberto was "an architect of bossa nova music" and that his "innovative style and master musicianship helped turn the genre into a worldwide phenomenon."
The 88-year-old Gilberto died of natural causes in his home in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.
Dhaka, July 8 (UNB) – Fine arts department of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy arranged a tribute seminar program on Monday afternoon in its National Art Gallery auditorium, in remembrance of three of the country’s most notable and influential artists- ‘Potua’ Quamrul Hassan, S M Sultan and Qayyum Chowdhury.
Presided by country’s renowned dramatist and BSA director-general Liaquat Ali Lucky, the programme weas attended by artist Qayyum Chowdhury’s wife Tahera Khanam Chowdhury, country’s renowned artist Hashem Khan, eminent writer and researcher Mofidul Haque , DU fine arts’ Dean artist Nissar Hossain, eminent art critic Moinuddin Khaled, artist Mostafa Jaman and artist Shaon Akand. BSA’s fine arts director Ashraful Alam Poplu was the welcome speaker at the event.
Mofidul Haque, Mostafa Jaman and Shaon Akand respectively presented and read their treatises on the lives and creative works of artists Quamrul Hassan, S M Sultan and Qayyum Chowdhury. Each presentation was followed by discussion on the presentations.
Artist Hashem Khan discussed Mofidul Haques’s presentation on ‘Potua’ Quamrul Hassan, critic Moinuddin Khaled tackled Mostafa Jaman’s essay on S M Sultan and artist Nissar Hossain discussed on Shaon Akand’s presentation on Qayyum Chowdhury.
The speakers recalled their experiences about the legendary artists and shared their viewpoints about their majestic artworks, focusing on how those have portrayed and impacted the nation through times. They also conveyed their gratitude to BSA for arranging such event.
The seminar was a part of the ongoing seminar series titled ‘Smrity, Satta, Vabisshyat’ (Memory, Existence, Future). Several departments of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) are currently arranging this series of remembrance programs, in association with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
Dhaka, Jul 8 (UNB) - Legendary West Bengal singer-songwriter, film director, and actor Anjan Dutt reached Dhaka on Monday to stage his play “Salesman’er Shongshar” on July 11.
The information was confirmed in a Facebook post by Sajjad Hussain, the author of Anjan Dutt biography “Anjan Jatra" and coordinator of the stage show.
He said that the popular singer had reached Dhaka by air in the afternoon with his team for a stage performance.
He also told the press that the venue of the production will be the auditorium of the Mohila Somity Mancha at Baily Road.
Two stagings of the play will be held on the same day, at 5.30pm and 8pm at the same venue.
The play “Salesman’er Shongshar,” directed by and starring Anjan Dutt, is an adaptation of Arthur Miller's famous play “Death of a Salesman.”
Anjan Dutt plays the lead role of Willy Loman in the play. It was first staged in Kolkata in January this year.
The national award winning filmmaker directed the “Byomkesh Bakshi” film franchise. As an actor, his first film was “Chalachitro” (1981), directed by Mrinal Sen, for which he won the best new actor prize at the Venice Film Festival.
The prominent figure acted in Aparna Sen's hit film, “Mr. and Mrs. Iyer.” while in 2018 he featured in Swapnasandhani's new play “Taraye Taraye,” as Vincent van Gogh, under the direction of Kaushik Sen.
One of Bengal’s most accomplished cricketers, Dutt’s filmography also includes, as director, “The Bong Connection,” “Chalo-Let's Go,” and “Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbona".
New York, Jul 8 (AP/UNB) — Martin Charnin, who made his Broadway debut playing a Jet in the original "West Side Story" and went on to become a Broadway director and a lyricist who won a Tony Award for the score of the eternal hit "Annie," has died. He was 84.
He died Saturday at a White Plains, New York, hospital, days after suffering a minor heart attack, his daughter, Sasha Charnin Morrison, told The Associated Press.
"He's in a painless place, now. Probably looking for Cole Porter and Ira Gershwin," Morrison wrote Sunday on Instagram .
Charnin was a keeper of the "Annie" flame, protective of what he created with songwriter Charles Strouse and book writer Thomas Meehan. The 1977 original won the Tony as best musical and ran for 2,300 performances, inspiring tours and revivals that never went out of style.
Charnin attributed the success of "Annie" in part to its sweet optimism and its message that things were going to get better. After all, it was written during a period of instability, he told The Associated Press in 2015.
"We were living in a really tough time. Right in the middle of Nixon. Right in the middle of Vietnam. There was an almost-recession. There was a lot of unrest in the country and you can always feel it and a lot of depression — emotional depression, financial depression. We wanted to be the tap on the shoulder that said to everyone, 'It'll be better.'"
"Annie" nearly didn't make it past the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut in 1976. But Charnin brought in noted stage and film director Mike Nichols, who signed on as a producer, and helped him revise the show.
With Andrea McArdle replacing Kristen Vigard as the red-haired moppet Annie and Dorothy Loudon added as Miss Hannigan, the production went on to open in New York in April 1977 with a bang.
The musical contained gems like "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard Knock Life." Charnin's lyrics, which earned him and Strouse a Tony for best score in 1977, are playful and moving: "You're never fully dressed/without a smile" and "No one cares for you a smidge/when you're in an orphanage."
The 1982 film version, which featured Carol Burnett in Loudon's role, was not nearly as popular or well-received. A stage sequel called "Annie Warbucks" ran off-Broadway in 1993.
The original show was revived on Broadway in 2012 and made into a film starring Quvenzhané Wallis in 2014. Charnin, who won a Grammy Award for the "Annie" cast album, found shards of his work also included in Jay-Z's 1998 Grammy-winning album "Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life." His song "Tomorrow" has been heard on soundtracks from "Shrek 2" to "Dave" to "You've Got Mail." In 2016, Lukas Graham used parts of the chorus from "Annie" for his "Mama Said" hit.
"'Annie' has touched generations and each one of the generations that it has reached has a very fond, distinct, specific memory of it. Because they love it — they don't like it, they love it — they pass that memory on like a baton in a relay race," Charnin said.
Born in New York, Charnin initially set off on a career in fine arts. He was an arts major at The Cooper Union when a friend invited him up one summer at an adult camp in the Adirondacks to wait on tables and act as an extra.
"I got bit," he would say later.
Charnin gave up a huge fellowship to go to Rome to paint in favor of life as a struggling actor. One day, he read that director Jerome Robbins "was looking for authentic juvenile delinquents" in an open call.
He went along among 2,000 wannabes, which became 200, then 20 and finally two. "I was one of the two," he said. That's how he made his Broadway debut as a Jet in "West Side Story" in 1957. He later played a waiter — and was a standby for Dick Van Dyke — in "The Girls Against the Boys" in 1959.
Three years later, he supplied the lyrics to the show "Hot Spot," with music by Mary Rodgers. He also wrote lyrics for "La Strada," a musical based on the Fellini film, but it closed after opening night.
Charnin had better luck with "Two by Two," in 1970, that had music by Richard Rodgers, who also directed. The show was a retelling of the story of Noah and his ark starring Danny Kaye and Madeline Kahn. The lyricist then became director of "Nash at Nine," a short-lived revue based on Ogden Nash poems. He was nominated for several Emmys for directing variety shows for NBC, winning for "Jack Lemmon in 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gers."
Charnin's reputation as a polished stage figure got him hired as the director of the new slapstick and envelope-pushing show "The National Lampoon Show," starring Gilda Radner, Bill Murray and John Bellushi.
NBC executives went to see the show at the Time-Life Building and wanted to do a TV show like it. Around that time, Charnin had gotten the rights to the celebrated comic strip character Little Orphan Annie and declined the offer to direct the new NBC show. That show became "Saturday Night Live."
Richard Rodgers and Charnin teamed up again in 1979 for a musical version of "I Remember Mama," which featured Liv Ullmann. Charnin was also either lyricist or director for "The Madwoman of Central Park West" (1979), "The First" (1981), "A Little Family Business" (1982), "Cafe Crown" (1989), "Sid Caesar and Company" (1989) and "The Flowering Peach" (1994).
Charnin was an old-school lyricist who considered modern lyrics "mind-boggling overwritten." He hated sloppiness (like, for example, when "mine" was rhymed with "time.") "They don't rhyme and they never will, no matter how you finesse the sound."
"I grew up at the feet of the Oscar Hammersteins and Alan Lerners of this world who, to my knowledge, never made a false rhyme in their entire writing careers," he said. "Go to the books of lyrics of Irving Berlin, show me one place where those kinds of fake rhymes exist?
"I don't think for a single, solitary second that 'Annie' opens any new doors to how to write lyrics. But I think it is a reminder of how lyrics are written. There are no fake rhymes in 'Annie,'" he said.
Charnin's career returned again and again to "Annie." He directed 19 productions of the show, including national tours and shows in the Netherlands and Australia. He led a new version on an American national tour in 2015. He was very protective of it and messing with "Annie" meant messing with Charnin.
"When you add a layer of behavior or you change lines or sequences, you are really disturbing the piece," he said. "It's like taking a skeleton apart, putting it together again, but the third rib is now the fifth rib. Uh-uh, because you won't walk straight."
He said he loved the casting process for "Annie" and developed a knack for finding new talent. Charnin gave such future stars as Sarah Jessica Parker, Molly Ringwald, Sutton Foster and a 5-year-old Catherine Zeta-Jones their starts.
While Charnin allowed some changes to "Annie" to different audiences — in England, he changed a reference to Lou Gehrig to the better known Babe Ruth — Charnin was loath to mess with much else.
He was irked by the last Broadway revival in 2012, in which the creators played up wrenching economic stress, layered on thick New York accents and didn't have the dog Sandy arrive as the final Christmas present.
"They aren't really big things unless you have allowed those little things to metastasize and build. It starts with a little heartburn and it ends up with a need to buy a ton of Prilosec. There are little choices that some directors make that go against the grain of what the show is about," he said.
"I have a responsibility to the audience," he added. "They've come for a reason. They haven't come for a new interpretation."
With remakes, tours and productions all over the world, Charnin never saw his best-known work fall out of favor. He noticed that the appetite of "Annie" would increase during elections.
"'Annie' is riddled with joy, tempered by some satire, some sarcasm," he said. "Being optimistic is really not a bad thing to be. If you took it out of the equation of how you'd live, I think everything would be 'The Hunger Games.'"