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Actress Sparks Walkout After Roman Polanski Wins Big at French Film Awards



  • When Roman Polanski won the best director award at the French Césars on Friday, several people walked out of the room in protest. 
  • Polanski has been called into further attention in the #MeToo era, as he plead guilty to having sex with a minor in the 1970s. He has evaded justice proceedings in the U.S. and has since faced more sexual assault allegations.
  • Protesters gathered outside the award ceremony outraged by the director’s award nominations and victories.

Controversial Award

Tensions heightened on Friday at the César Awards, France’s equivalent to the Oscars, when director Roman Polanski won high honors for his latest film. 

Polanski, 86, has been a controversial figure for decades. In 1977, the movie mogul pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in the United States. While awaiting sentencing, he fled the country and has been evading extradition since. Polanski has also faced several other sexual assault accusations since the 1970s incident, including a rape allegation from Valentine Monnier who came forward as recently as November. The director has denied these allegations.   

Polanski’s recent movie “J’Accuse,” or “An Officer and a Spy” in English, took home several awards at the Césars last weekend. When his name was announced as the winner for best director, “very few” people applauded, according to the French newspaper Le Monde

Adèle Haenel, a French actress who recently said she was sexually abused as a child by a director in the country’s film industry, walked out of the room upon Polanski’s director victory. She was waving her arms and mouthing the French word for shame, and was followed by several others, including “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” director Céline Sciamma in which Haenel starred.

Haenel had previously condemned Polanski’s César nominations when they were announced in an interview with The New York Times

“Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims,” Haenel told the newspaper in February. “It means raping women isn’t that bad.”

Polanski was not at the Friday ceremony. The day prior, he issued a statement in which he announced he would not be attending for fear of a “public lynching” from feminists activists.  

These activists were indeed present regardless of Polanski’s no-show. Protesters gathered outside the event with signs bearing messages like “Shame on an industry that protects rapists.” Police clashed with the mass of people protesting Polanski and fired tear gas.

Further Disapproval

The disappointment in Polanski’s formal recognition was widespread. Several prominent figures including Jessica Chastain, Rose McGowan, and Thandie Newton shared their support for those who walked out of the venue.

Florence Foresti, the actress and comedian who hosted the award ceremony, took shots at Polanski throughout the evening. At the beginning of the night, she welcomed the “predators” in the audience.

“There are 12 moments when we’re going to have an issue,” she said, referring to the 12 nominations for Polanski’s “J’Accuse.”

Foresti did not return to the stage after Polanski was named best director. Shortly after, she posted an Instagram story with the French word for disgusted. 

Hours before the Césars started, French Cultural Minister Franck Riester said in an interview that it would be a “bad symbol” if Polanski won the best director award given the “necessary awareness that we must all have in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.” 

However, Riester added that he didn’t think “J’Accuse” as a whole should not be chosen for best film just because of Polanski’s actions. The best film award ended up going to Les Misérables.”

The entire board of the César Academy, which distributes the awards, resigned mid-February amid backlash for nominating Polanski’s film for 12 awards. 

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (BBC) (CNN)


U.S. Intel Suggests Pro-Ukraine Group Sabotaged Nord Stream Pipeline



There is no evidence that the culprits behind the attack were acting under the direction of the Ukrainian government.

Europe Braces for Shocking Revelations

A pro-Ukraine group blew up the Nord Stream pipelines last September, intelligence reviewed by U.S. officials suggests.

The New York Times reported the news Tuesday, citing officials who said there was no evidence of involvement by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, any of his top lieutenants, or any government officials.

The strength of the evidence, however, is not clear, and U.S. officials declined to inform The Times on the nature of the intelligence or how it was obtained. They reportedly added that the intelligence indicates neither who the group’s members are nor who funded and directed the operation.

The Times’ sources said they believe the saboteurs were most likely Russian or Ukrainian nationals and that they possibly received specialized government training in the past.

It’s also possible that the group behind the attack was a proxy with covert ties to Kyiv, the report added.

When three of four Nord Stream pipelines were found to be severely damaged last year, the revelation shook markets and sent European gas prices soaring. Nord Stream 1, which was completed in 2011, and Nord Stream 2, which had been laid down but wasn’t yet operational, supplied Germany and by extension the rest of Western Europe with cheap Russian natural gas.

Following the explosions, Poland and Ukraine blamed Russia, and Russia blamed Britain. Other observers speculated that Ukraine might be behind it too.

More Ongoing Investigations

Last month, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed in a Substack article that the United States military carried out the attack and that President Biden authorized it himself. However, Hersh’s report cited only one anonymous source in support of its central claim, so it was largely dismissed as not credible.

Western governments expressed caution on Wednesday in response to The Times report.

“There are ongoing national investigations and I think it’s right to wait until those are finalized before we say anything more about who was behind it,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

Russia, by contrast, pounced on the opportunity to renew its demand for inclusion in a proposed international probe into the pipeline explosion.

The Ukrainian government denied any involvement in the Nord Stream explosions.

On Wednesday, multiple German media outlets reported that investigators have largely reconstructed how the attack happened, pinning the blame on six people who allegedly used a yacht hired by a Ukrainian-owned company in Poland.

German officials reportedly searched a vessel suspected of carrying the explosives in January, but the investigation is ongoing.

The country’s defense minister suggested the explosions may have been a “false flag” attack to smear Ukraine.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Associated Press) (Reuters)

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Turkey, Syria Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 41,000 as Survivors Pulled from Rubble



A pair of brothers spent around 200 hours trapped under debris, living off of protein powder and their own urine.

A Humanitarian Crisis Explodes

The number of confirmed dead from the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria last week has surpassed 41,000.

Millions more people have been left stranded without adequate shelter, food, clean water, or medical supplies.

At night, the region has dropped to below-freezing temperatures.

Now health authorities are worried that the lack of sanitation infrastructure, which was damaged by the quakes, will lead to a disease outbreak.

“We haven’t been able to rinse off since the earthquake,” 21-year-old Mohammad Emin, whose home was destroyed, told Reuters.

He was helping out at a clinic serving displaced people in an open-air stadium, but with no showers and only six toilets, the resource shortage was poignant.

“They are offering tetanus shots to residents who request them, and distributing hygiene kits with shampoo, deodorant, pads and wipes,” added Akin Hacioglu, a doctor at the clinic.

The World Health Organization monitors the population for waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid, as well as seasonal influenza and COVID-19.

Rescuers Race Against the Clock

After more than a week of searching, hopes that more living victims will be found amid the collapsed buildings are fading, but rescuers continue to pull out the final few survivors.

Abdulbaki Yeninar, 21, and his brother Muhammed Enes Yeninar, 17, spent about 200 hours under rubble in the city of Kahramanmaras before they were extracted Tuesday. They told reporters they held on by eating protein powder, drinking their own urine, and swallowing gulps of air.

In the same city, teams dug a 16-foot tunnel through debris to rescue a woman, and to the south, a volunteer mining crew joined the efforts to save another.

With no homes to go back to, some survivors have joined the ranks of volunteers themselves.

In the past week, more than 35,000 Turkish search-and-rescue teams worked alongside thousands of international workers in the effort, according to Turkey’s emergency management agency.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called the earthquakes the “disaster of the century” and said in a statement that at least 13,000 people were being treated in hospitals.

The death toll is expected to rise even further in the coming weeks.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Reuters) (Al Jazeera)

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Resigns



“In my head and in my heart I know that time is now,” she said to reporters

Sturgeon Steps Down

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her resignation on Wednesday. 

Sturgeon has been Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister and she is also the first woman to ever hold the position. She has been in politics since 1999, leading the charge for Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom. Sturgeon also guided the country through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sturgeon made sure to mention that her decision was not in response to the latest round of political pressure she is facing after her recent controversies regarding gender reform. Rather, her reasons are rooted in her own personal struggle with whether she can continue to do the job well. 

 “To be clear, I am not expecting violins here. But I am a human being as well as a politician,” she said during a press conference on Wednesday. “My point is this – giving absolutely everything of yourself to this job is the only way to do it. The country deserves nothing less. But, in truth, that can only be done by anyone for so long.

For me, it is now in danger of becoming too long,” Sturgeon continued. “A First Minister is never off-duty. Particularly in this day and age, there is virtually no privacy. Even ordinary stuff that most people take for granted like going for a coffee with friends or going for a walk on your own becomes  very difficult.”

Sturgeon’s Political Future

Sturgeon’s approval ratings are reportedly the lowest they’ve been since she’s been in office. Regardless, many political figures in Scotland, as well as the U.K., have applauded her and her historic service as First Minister. 

There are still several unknowns moving forward. There is still no confirmation on who will take over the position. However, Sturgeon did say that she will serve until someone else is elected. 

The push for Scotland’s independence is hanging in limbo as well, and no one knows what it’ll look like without Sturgeon’s leadership. She did mention, however, that she does not intend to leave politics fully and will still fight for the cause as a lawmaker in Parliament. 

Sturgeon said the support for Scottish independence needs to be solidified and grow.

“To achieve that we need to reach across the divide in Scottish politics,” she said. “And my judgment now is that this needs a new leader.”

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (BBC) (The Washington Post)

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