UN chief slams ‘suicidal’ war on nature as 2020 on track to be one of hottest years on record



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This year is on course to be one of the three warmest ever recorded, the United Nations said Wednesday, as the UN chief warned the world was on the brink of “climate catastrophe”.

The past six years, 2015 to 2020, are set to make up all six of the hottest years since modern records began in 1850, the UN‘s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its provisional 2020 State of the Global Climate report.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the 2020 report spells out “how close we are to climate catastrophe”. 

“Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are increasingly the new normal,” he said in a speech at Columbia University in New York on the state of the planet.

“Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back — and it is already doing so with growing force and fury.”

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change calls for capping global warming at well below two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level, while countries will pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 C.

“2020 has, unfortunately, been yet another extraordinary year for our climate,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas.

“The average global temperature in 2020 is set to be about 1.2 C above the pre-industrial level.

“There is at least a one in five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5 C by 2024.”

Hottest decade

The WMO said 2020 seemed on course to be the second-hottest year ever.

The years from 2015 to 2020 are therefore individually “likely to be the six warmest on record”, the report said.

Temperature averages across the last five years, and across the last 10-year period, “are also the warmest on record”, it added.

Neville Nicholls from Monash University in Melbourne said this was “testament to the acceleration of global warming”.

“We took about a century for our greenhouse gases to warm the globe by 1 C; we are on track to add another 1 C in just the next 30 years,” he said.

Oil, gas and coal production must fall six percent a year in order to limit catastrophic global warming, said the UN’s annual Production Gap assessment, which measures the difference between the Paris goals and countries’ fossil fuel production plans.

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — the main driver of climate change — hit record highs last year and continued climbing in 2020 despite measures to halt the Covid-19 pandemic.

The annual impact of the coronavirus crisis was expected to be a drop of between 4.2 and 7.5 percent in carbon dioxide emissions.

However, CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries, meaning the effect of the pandemic is negligible.

Taalas was nonetheless encouraged by China’s bid for carbon neutrality by 2060 and US president-elect Joe Biden’s 2050 target, saying these and pledges from the European Union, Japan and Canada could trigger countries like India and Russia to follow suit.

Earlier Wednesday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared a “climate emergency”, telling parliament that urgent action was needed for the sake of future generations.

Wildfires, sweltering Siberia

Taalas said that 2020 saw “new extreme temperatures on land, sea and especially in the Arctic.

“Wildfires consumed vast areas in Australia, Siberia, the US west coast and South America.

“Flooding in parts of Africa and southeast Asia led to massive population displacement and undermined food security for millions.”

The heat in northern Siberia reached 38 C at Verkhoyansk on June 20, provisionally the highest known temperature anywhere north of the Arctic Circle.

This year’s La Nina cool phase of the Pacific Ocean surface temperatures cycle raised the question of how hot 2020 might otherwise have been.

The WMO said that more than 80 percent of the ocean area had experienced at least one marine heatwave so far in 2020.

“Recently sea level has risen at a higher rate due partly to increased melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica,” the report said.

“In the Arctic, the annual minimum sea-ice extent was the second lowest on record.”

Meanwhile a record 30 named storms, including 13 hurricanes, formed in the Atlantic Ocean, exhausting the alphabet and forcing a switch to the Greek alphabet for only the second time ever.

The 2020 provisional State of the Global Climate report is based on temperature data from January to October.

The final 2020 report will be published in March 2021.

(AFP)



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Some Iranian children are literally climbing mountains to access online school


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Some Iranian children are finding virtual school harder than others. Photos have recently emerged on social media of children in rural areas who literally have to climb a mountain every day to find an internet connection strong enough so that they can attend their online classes. People have been especially shocked by the image of a child who fell and was injured on his dangerous hike to access the internet. We spoke to one teacher who feels utterly helpless in the face of the situation. 

Iran has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the Middle East, with more than 43,000 officially recorded deaths. However, even officials at the Ministry of Health admit that the actual number of dead is likely three or four times that number. 

Most schools across Iran have been closed, except a few schools in rural areas. The Iranian government is pushing for all students to stay home and attend online classes using an application called Shad, which was developed by the Ministry of Education. However, to participate in distance learning, children need a strong internet connection or, at the very least, a cell phone.

Even though the number of Iranians with access to the Internet has increased dramatically over the past ten years, the digital divide remains a real issue. Many students living in rural areas face serious connection issues, unlike those in large towns where mobile networks are accessible.

Screenshot
Screenshot © Observers France 24

“Is it fair that these children have to give up their studies and [the chance to go to] university?” asks the person who filmed this video in Golzamin, a village in central Iran.

 

However, some children in rural areas have shown an incredible determination to attend their online classes. Some walk for kilometres and climb to the tops of nearby hills or mountains to tap into 3G networks, despite how dangerous the journey may be.

Several teachers and activists have spoken out about the situation, publishing photos and videos of children walking across the mountains, cell phones in hand, trying desperately to find an internet connection solid enough to enable them to participate in their classes via the Shad application.

This photo was taken in Avaj in central Iran.
This photo was taken in Avaj in central Iran. © Observers

One photo in particular underscores just how terrible this situation is for many children. On November 7, a photo of a young boy with blood all over his face was posted online, shocking viewers across Iran. The young man took a bad fall on a mountain near Rumoshtik, a town in eastern Iran, when he was trying to connect to the application so he could attend online classes.

 

This photo shows the boy who took a bad fall near Rumotshik. It was posted online on November 7.
This photo shows the boy who took a bad fall near Rumotshik. It was posted online on November 7. © Observers

 

“Politicians sitting in air-conditioned offices with a strong 4G connection are the ones overseeing plans for distance learning.”

Hermidas (not his real name) is a teacher who works in a rural region in northeast Iran. Before, he taught a class of about 20 or so students. For the past two months, however, he’s had to teach using a smartphone and the internet. Distance learning has been really challenging for many of his students:

We’ve been doing online classes since September 22, when the fall semester began. We immediately realised that less than half of the children had a smartphone and none had access to an internet connection at home. After a few days and speaking to lots of parents, we realised that there were locations high up in the nearby mountains where you could get internet access. Since then, the children from the village have walked 45 minutes to reach that spot every day. And, right now, it is particularly cold. 

 

A child from Dolbi, a village in southeast Iran, climbing a mountain in order to get a stable enough internet connection for the children to access their classes online.
A child from Dolbi, a village in southeast Iran, climbing a mountain in order to get a stable enough internet connection for the children to access their classes online. © Observers

Another problem is that these children don’t have their own cell phones, so they have to borrow a phone from a member of their family who sometimes needs it. So, sometimes, they can only have it for a few hours before they have to give it up. 

Morally, I feel like I am trapped at an impasse. How can I ask these children to climb a mountain? If there’s an accident, I will feel responsible. Thankfully, for now, nothing has happened to any of the children who are in my class but I fear that in the weeks to come, with the snow and the cold, it will be almost impossible to hold class. 

“Some of the young girls, who were brilliant students, are no longer taking my classes”

Another consequence of this situation is that young girls who were brilliant students are no longer taking my classes. I lost all of my female students because their parents don’t want them to climb the mountain [Editor’s note: The region is extremely conservative and most young girls need their parents’ permission to go anywhere].

As for the boys, there are about four or five who only attend intermittently and I have to catch them up on the lessons. I know that some of them borrow a neighbour’s telephone in order to attend class. The children try to share information among themselves. Other times, I’ve called to check in on students who I haven’t seen for a long time but, often, I struggle to reach them. 

This student built a little hut in the mountains in the province of Sistan-and-Baluchestan, where he can get internet and participate in online classes. This photo was posted on Twitter on November 14.
This student built a little hut in the mountains in the province of Sistan-and-Baluchestan, where he can get internet and participate in online classes. This photo was posted on Twitter on November 14. © Observers

I went to school once to give the students a lesson in-person. Some of the children had no idea what I was talking about because they hadn’t been able to attend the virtual classes. Even so, they are usually full of energy and curiosity and eager to learn. One of my colleagues in the region was able to continue giving in-person classes [Editor’s note: The Iranian government has made exceptions for small villages without internet access and for teachers who live near the schools where they teach]. However, I don’t live in the region where I teach so I have to do it virtually now. 

Politicians sitting in air-conditioned offices with a strong 4G connection are the ones overseeing plans for distance learning. They don’t know what it’s like outside their ivory tower. They aren’t interested in what things are like for village children. They launched this online learning system months ago. They could have come up with a solution to supply emergency internet access or given cell phones to children from poor families. They could have made the internet free in these areas, but they did nothing. 

Child suicides reported by some Iranian media outlets

Several media outlets, including the BBC Persian service, have reported that at least eight children living in rural areas who were unable to attend classes online have committed suicide in recent weeks. Our Observer says he, sadly, isn’t surprised by this horrifying statistic:

We haven’t had any cases in my class but I understand the danger. These children believe that the only way for them to escape poverty is by going to school. Right now, for example, it’s their poverty preventing them from going to virtual school, learning and gaining the chance to ascend the social ladder. This situation reinforces pre-existing inequalities and feeds into the shame they feel that they are not on equal footing with their classmates. 

We must never forget how important the idea of studying is to our culture and what a strong force social pressure is in Iran. Each year, there are cases of students committing suicide after they get bad grades. 

The Iranian government, for its part, denies that any children have committed suicide because they are unable to attend school online. They also say that they haven’t reported any cases of children being injured while climbing mountains.



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Hervé Le Tellier wins Goncourt Prize, France’s most prestigious literary award



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French author Hervé Le Tellier has been awarded the Goncourt Prize for his novel “L’Anomalie” (The Anomaly). France’s top literary honour was attributed by videolink owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Le Tellier, 63, is a mathematician by training and former journalist. He is president of the international literary group Oulipo, founded in France by poet Raymond Queneau and writer and scientist François Le Lionnais in 1960.

Le Tellier’s “L’Anomalie” obtained eight votes from the Goncourt jury to earn the country’s most prestigious book award. Finalist Maël Renouard, meanwhile, won two votes for “L’Historiographe du royaume” (The kingdom’s historiographer).

The 2020 Renaudot Prize, awarded moments after the Goncourt as is traditional, went to author Marie-Hélène Lafon for her novel “Histoire du fils” (A son’s story).

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)



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Darth Vader actor Dave Prowse dies at 85




Dave Prowse, the British actor behind the menacing black mask of Star Wars villain Darth Vader, has died, his agent Thomas Bowington said Sunday.



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Eritrea hit by rocket fire as Ethiopia presses ahead with Tigray offensive



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Eritrea’s capital came under fire from Ethiopia’s breakaway Tigray region Friday, raising fears that Ethiopia’s internal conflict could spread as leader Abiy Ahmed resisted calls for dialogue.

For more than three weeks now, Ethiopia and Tigray have engaged in fierce fighting that the International Crisis Group said Friday had left thousands dead “including many civilians as well as security forces”.

On Friday night, at least one rocket fired from the northern Tigray region targeted neighbouring Eritrea, four regional diplomats told AFP.

Abiy, the winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, announced Thursday a “third and final phase” in his campaign against leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Global concern remains centred on the half a million residents of Mekele, Tigray’s regional capital, which the army says it has encircled ahead of the threatened attack.

 

World leaders and human rights groups have warned such a strike could violate rules of war and were calling for urgent mediation.

Pope Francis was among those worried about the intensifying fighting, growing loss of life and displacement, Vatican media head Matteo Bruni said Friday.

Abiy announced military operations in Tigray on November 4 after months of friction between his government and the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades before Abiy took office in 2018.

The prime minister has refused to negotiate with the TPLF and dismissed calls for dialogue as “interference” in Ethiopia’s internal affairs.

On Friday he met with three African ex-leaders — Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa — dispatched this week by the African Union as mediators.

‘Enforce rule of law’

In a statement issued after their meeting in Addis Ababa, Abiy said he appreciated “this gesture and… the steadfast commitment this demonstrates to the principle of African solutions to African problems”.

Even so, the government has a “constitutionally mandated responsibility to enforce rule of law in the region and across the country,” his office said in a statement.

“Failure to do so would further a culture of impunity with devastating cost to the survival of the country,” it said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres welcomed the talks with the AU envoys and urged all parties to “peacefully resolve the conflict”.

The UN Secretary-General also stressed the need “to ensure the protection of civilians, human rights and access for humanitarian assistance to the affected areas”.

The Tigrayan government, meanwhile, said Friday the federal army was bombarding towns and villages and inflicting heavy damage, although it did not specifically mention Mekele.

“Our struggle will continue from every direction until the self-determination of the People of Tigray is guaranteed and the invading force is driven out,” Tigrayan authorities said in a statement read on regional television.

A communications blackout in Tigray has made it difficult to verify claims from both sides on the fighting.

Hostilities have erupted in a year when the 55-member AU — which is headquartered in Addis Ababa — resolved to play a more prominent role in resolving conflicts across the continent under the slogan “Silencing the Guns”.

Fresh strike on Eritrea

At least one rocket fired from Tigray targeted neighbouring Eritrea Friday night, four regional diplomats told AFP, the second such attack since Ethiopia’s internal conflict broke out earlier this month.

There was no immediate confirmation of how many rockets were fired, where they landed, and any casualties or damage caused.

The TPLF has accused Ethiopia of enlisting Eritrean military support in the fighting, a charge Ethiopia denies.

The group claimed responsibility for similar strikes on Eritrea two weeks ago, but there was no immediate comment from its leaders Friday.

Abiy, who ordered the “final” offensive on TPLF forces in Mekele after the lapsing of a deadline for their surrender earlier this week, said “great care” would be taken to protect civilians and spare the city from severe damage.

Humanitarian crisis                  

The prospect of a full-scale attack accelerated diplomatic efforts this week to resolve the conflict, with the UN Security Council holding its first meeting on Tigray and US and European officials urging restraint.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who met his Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonnen in Paris on Thursday, called for urgent measures to protect civilians as the humanitarian fallout from the crisis worsened across the region.

The UNHCR said Friday that nearly 100,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray could run out of food as early as Monday if supplies could not reach them.

In eastern Sudan, meanwhile, where more than 40,000 refugees have escaped the fighting in Tigray, local authorities are struggling to meet the sudden surge in demand for food, shelter and other life-saving essentials.

(AFP)

 



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Immune responses during embryo development could increase risk of schizophrenia


Embryo
Human Embryo. Credit: Ed Uthman, MD/Wikipedia

Past research has often highlighted the effects that immune activation in pregnant women can have on the development of human embryos, for instance increasing the risk of a child developing psychiatric disorders later in life. The neural mechanisms underpinning these effects, however, remain largely unclear.

Researchers at New York Medical College have recently carried out a study investigating the impact that the activation of microglia (i.e., a specialized cell population that removes damaged neurons or infections) can have on an embryo’s development of a specific class of neurons that regulates information processing, known as cortical interneurons. Their findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, suggest that activated microglia can cause metabolic disruptions that adversely impact the development of cortical interneurons. Interestingly, in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia these disruptions could persist when the microglia are no longer activated.

“While we now known that cortical interneurons are affected by maternal immune activation, the mechanism through which they are affected is still poorly understood,” Sangmi Chung, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told Medical Xpress. “Since the human embryo is not accessible for mechanistic studies, we used iPSC-derived human cortical interneurons to investigate how inflammation during development affects this vulnerable population of neurons.”

Chung and her colleagues generated cortical interneurons using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a technological tool that allows neuroscientists to reprogram cells that are extracted from human tissue samples. Past studies have found that individuals with schizophrenia present abnormal patterns in the functioning of cortical interneurons.

The researchers hoped that their study would enhance the present understanding of the neural mechanisms that may lead to the development of Schizophrenia or other neuropsychiatric disorders. The cortical interneurons used in their experiments were thus generated both from people with no psychiatric disorders and from patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.

After they created these cells, Chung and her colleagues co-cultured them either with or without activated microglial cells and observed the effects that these two procedures had on cortical interneurons generated from the tissue of healthy subjects and on those derived from that of patients with schizophrenia. Co-culture is a technique that enables the simultaneous cultivation of two or more different types of cells. The researchers specifically used a method called tissue culture insert, which allowed the signals released from microglia to reach the cortical interneurons they created through a membrane that was inserted between them, which is permeable but does not allow cells to pass through.

“We found that the metabolism of cortical interneurons is compromised under inflammatory condition during development, which showed prolonged impact in cortical interneurons derived from schizophrenia iPSCs but not healthy control iPSCs,” Chung said. “Our findings highlight the existence of interactions between schizophrenia genetic backgrounds and environmental risk factors.”

The findings gathered by Chung and her colleagues could inform future studies investigating the neural mechanisms that link prenatal immune activation with the risk of developing schizophrenia or other neuropsychiatric disorders. Most notably, it suggests that the activation of microglia, the cells that protect the nervous system against diseases and carry out immune responses, can cause metabolic disruptions in developmental cortical interneurons.

Moreover, the researchers found that in the cortical interneurons generated from the tissue of individuals with no neuropsychiatric disorders, these metabolic deficits were no longer present after the activated microglia were removed, while they persisted in patients affected by schizophrenia. Their findings could thus help to identify pre-natal neural processes that may interact with a person’s genetic propensity for developing schizophrenia, increasing his/her risk of the developing the disorder later in life.

“We now plan to pursue further studies investigating the detailed mechanisms and pathways that are affected by inflammatory environments surrounding cortical interneurons,” Chung said.


Interneurons find their way to the striatum


More information:
Activated microglia cause metabolic disruptions in developmental cortical interneurons that persist in interneurons from individuals with schizophrenia. Nature Neuroscience(2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41593-020-00724-1

© 2020 Science X Network

Citation:
Immune responses during embryo development could increase risk of schizophrenia (2020, November 27)
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from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-11-immune-responses-embryo-schizophrenia.html

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Dymbëdhjetë filma që duhet t’i shikoni në dhjetor


Recesionisti Nicholas Barber ka zgjedhur 12 nga filmat më të mirë që do të dalin në muajin dhjetor duke përfshirë një animacion të ri të studios ‘Pixar’, vazhdimin e filmit  ‘Wonder Woman’ dhe filmin e fundit të ‘Chadwick Boseman’, shkruan BBC Culture.

BBC rekomandon shikuesit t’i shikojnë këta filma të cilët do të transmetohen në muajin e festave të fundvitit.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Ky film ka shtrirje kohore në Chicagon e vitit 1927. Gjithçka fillon me Ma Rainey, pioniere e  ‘Mother of the Blues’, e cila planifikon të inçizojë një album të ri, por gjërat shkojnë keq për shkak të një menaxheri të bardhë që po e shfrytëzon atë dhe një trombisti me ambiciet e tij.

Ky film do të mbahet mend, mbi të gjitha, pasi është filmi i fundit në të cilin ka aktruar  Chadwick Boseman  para se të vdiste nga kanceri këtë verë.

“Promising Young Woman”

Emerald Fennell e cila luan shumë role në të nëjtën kohë, e luan rolin e Camilla Parker Bowles në “The Crown” Por ajo është gjithashtu një shkrimtare-regjisore që organizoi serinë e dytë të filmit “Killing Eve.” “.

Premisa e komedisë së errët të Fennell-it është se Cassie, rol i luajtur nga Carey Mulligan, braktisi shkollën e mjekësisë pasi u sulmua atje 10 vjet më parë.

Ajo si  hakmarrje,  shkon në lokale dhe bën sikur dehet. Burrat që e marrin atë në shtëpi, duke shpresuar të përfitojnë prej saj, marrin më shumë sesa kanë menduar.

“Another Round / Druk”

“Another Round / Druk”,  është “porta” e Danimarkës për filmin më të mirë ndërkombëtar në Oscarin e vitit të ardhshëm. Mikkelsen luan si një mësues dyzetvjeçar i cili s’ ka energji për të bërë të lumtur nxënësit ose familjen e tij. Gjithçka ndryshon kur ai dhe tre shokë vendosin të provojnë teorinë se të rriturit janë më të motivuar dhe krijues Në qoftë se janë pak nën ndikimin e alkoolit gjatë gjithë kohës.

“Dehja është bërë rrallë kështu mirë në ekran”, thotë Emma Simmonds në Radio Times, “dhe një tjetër raund kap bindshëm nivelet qesharake dhe nivelet shkatërruese të një eksperimenti mrekullisht qesharak, ndërsa personazhet përplasen, kërcejnë dhe pengohen në udhën e tyre për në një fund në mënyrë absolute plotësisht të bujshëm. ”

 

“The Midnight Sky”

Filmi ka koncept aventurën fantastiko-shkencore të George Clooney është vendosur në një të ardhme post-apokaliptike që mund të jetë edhe më e keqe se bota reale në vitin 2020. Përveç si regjisor dhe producent, Clooney luan si Augustine, një shkencëtar i vendosur në një observator të Arktikut. Ai duhet të kontaktojë një anije kozmike në mënyrë që të mund të paralajmërojë astronautët e saj (Felicity Jones dhe David Oyelowo, ndër të tjera) të mos kthehen në tokën e shkatërruar. Por e vetmja antenë me një sinjal mjaft të fortë për t’i arritur ato është milje larg nëpër mbeturinat e akullta. Qielli i mesnatës është përshtatur nga romani i Lily Brooks-Dalton nga Mark L Smith, bashkë-skenaristi i filmit “The Revenant” dhe një specialist në filmat për burrat që ecin nëpër shkretëtirat armiqësore.

 “The Prom”

Filmi ka fokus një vajzë dhe mbëmjen e saj të maturës.

Në vitin 2010, një vajzë adoleshente u ndalua të merrte pjesë në mbrëmjen e maturës së saj meqë ajo planifikonte të vishte një smoking dhe të merrte të dashurën e saj. Pasi të famshëm të ndryshëm folën në emër të saj, historia e saj frymëzoi një muzikant në Broadway që  më pas u bë një komedi e shkëlqyeshme nga Ryan Murphy, krijuesi i Glee.

Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman dhe James Corden luajnë aktorët  që shpresojnë të rigjallërojnë karrierën e tyre duke u drejtuar në një qytet të vogël Indiana në mbështetje të heroinës si Hirushja (e sapoardhura, Jo Ellen Pellman).

“News of the World”

Tom Hanks, i cili kishte rolin kryesor në “Captain Phillips, në këtë film luan një kapiten tjetër, një veteran të ve të Luftës Civile që bën jetesën e tij si një rrëfimtar i tregimeve. Kur gjen një vajzë 10-vjeçare që ishte rrëmbyer nga një fis autokton, ai e çon atë nëpër Teksas për ta ribashkuar me tezen dhe xhaxhain e saj.  Filmi është përshtatur nga romani nga Paulette Jiles.

“Soul”

Filmi i pari i animuar i  ‘Pixar’ që ka një personazh kryesor afrikano-amerikan.

“Soul” mburret me një lloj skenari filozofik me guxim të cilin asnjë studio tjetër s’ do ta provonte.

Jamie Foxx është zëri i një mësuesi muzike që ëndërron të ketë sukses  si një pianist xhaz në New York. Por menjëherë pas një audicioni të suksesshëm, ai bie poshtë një pusi dhe e gjen veten në një hapësirë ku shpirtrave njerëzorë u caktohet personaliteti i tyre. Dhe gjërat bëhen edhe më surreale nga atje.

Jason Solomons i filmit “The Wrap” thotë se “Soul” është mbase filmi më ambicioz ekzistencialisht i provuar ndonjëherë nga Disney [kompania që zotëron Pixar] dhe megjithatë shfaqet me pamje shumëngjyrëshe dhe mençuri të butë ndërsa storja shkon së bashku pavarësisht lartësisë marramendëse të konceptit.”

 

“David Byrne’s American Utopia”

Filmi i koncertit të “Talking Heads”, “Stop Making Sense”, është një zhanër klasik.

Tridhjetë e gjashtë vjet më vonë, një film tjetër koncerti me ish-frontmanin e “Talking Heads”, David Byrne, po vlerësohet si i barabartë. Drejtuar nga askush tjetër përveç Spike Lee, “David Byrne’s American Utopia” dokumenton shfaqjen e gëzueshme të Byrne 2019 në Broadway, të cilën këngëtari i valës së re organizoi me 11 muzikantë multikulturorë me kostume gri dhe këmbë të zhveshura.

Festa që ata organizojnë ka të gjithë ngazëllimin e një koncerti tradicional rock, por përzihet me elemente të një instalacioni arti, një recital vallëzimi avangardë, një akt komedie stand-up, një tubim politik, një seminar filozofie dhe një shërbim të kishës humaniste . Ann Hornaday në “Washington Post” e quan atë një “ekstazë ekstatike të ritmit, lëvizjes, pluralizmit dhe shoqërisë muzikore … e cila shpërthen me një përzierje të tepruar të gëzimit optimist dhe nostalgjisë së mbrujtur”.

Me pak fjalë, “American Utopia” është vetëm lloji i balsamit shërues, frymëzues, për të cilin audienca ka nevojë për momentin”.

 

“Wonder Woman 1984”

Një vit nga dita kur ishte planifikuar të dilte fillimisht, filmi  “Wonder Woman” 1984 më në fund po shfaqet në kinema – dhe në një platformë streaming – duke e bërë atë blockbuster-in e parë dhe të fundit të madh të superheronjve në vitin 2020.

Gal Gadot kthehet si princesha luftëtare e Amazon, këtë herë duke luftuar Cheetah-in e Kristen Wig në vitet 1980  dhe Chris Pine është përsëri në rolin e  Steve Trevor edhe pse ai u vra në fund të filmit të mëparshëm “Wonder Woman.”

Por mos u shqetësoni Në qoftë se s’ mund të mbani mend se çfarë ka ndodhur atje. Vazhdimi, producenti i filmit i tha Indiewire, është “një film më vete në të njëjtën mënyrë siç janë filmat Indiana Jones ose Bond, në vend të një historie të vazhdueshme”.

 

“Nomadland”

Kur Fern (Frances McDormand) është e ve, ajo s’ ka mundësi të jetojë në një shtëpi të sajën, kështu që paketon sendet e saj të pakta në një furgon kampi dhe largohet për në shkretëtirën e Nevadas.

Ajo së shpejti zbulon se s’ është vetëm: ekziston një komunitet i madh i të moshuarve që janë detyruar të jetojnë në rrugë, duke mbështetur veten me punë afatshkurtra gjatë udhës. Ajo që e bën Nomadland unik është se ndërsa Fern luan një aktore fituese të Oscarit, gati të gjithë njerëzit që takon janë nomadë të vërtetë që rrëfejnë përvojat e tyre. Shkruar dhe drejtuar nga Chloe Zhao (The Rider), filmi është një “hibrid i dokumentarit dhe trillimit”, thotë Caryn James i BBC Culture, duke shfaqur “talentin e rrallë të Zhao për të evokuar shfaqje të gjalla, të besueshme nga jo-aktorë dhe për të zhytur shikuesit në peisazhet e panumërta mahnitëse të Perëndimit Amerikan ”.

 

“Wolfwalkers”

Filmi më i mirë i animuar i vitit s’ vjen nga shtëpia e “Dreamworks” ose “Pixar”, por nga Cartoon Saloon, një studio irlandeze e specializuar në folklorin kelt dhe artin e stilizuar 2D të vizatuar me dorë.

Përralla e tyre e fundit e zgjimit zhvillohet në mesin e Shekullit 17, kur ushtarët anglezë po përpiqen të zbutin pyjet e egra pranë Kilkenny. Një vajzë e një gjahtari mëson se s’ ka vetëm ujq në pyll, por “shigjeta ujku” që mund të kthehen në ujq natën. Richard Whittaker në Kronikën e Austin vlerëson “një histori zemëruese të familjes dhe miqësisë, një ekzaminim familjar të tmerrit të shtypjes, një aventurë të fortë rreth dy vajzave që gjejnë veten dhe një mësim vjedhurazi të historisë së artit …

 

“Mank”

“Citizen Kane” është filmi më i madh amerikan i bërë ndonjëherë, të paktën sipas një sondazhi të kryer nga BBC Culture në vitin 2015. Por kush ishte përgjegjës për madhështinë e tij? Orson Welles, ylli dhe drejtori i tij i ri brilant? Apo bashkë-shkrimtari pirës i Uellsit, Herman J Mankiewicz?

Drama e David Fincher zbret në krah të Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), i cili dikton skenarin ndërsa rimëkëmbet nga një aksident automobilistik dhe bazon historinë në kohën që ai kaloi me William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance), manjatin e gazetës dhe të dashurën aktore Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried).

“E ndërtuar në një performancë të lartë nga Gary Oldman,” thotë Ian Freer në Empire, “është e zgjuar, e sofistikuar, nga kthesat ngjethëse dhe e vështirë, dhe ndër më të mirat e Fincher.”

 

Përktheu-Antigona Isufi



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Taking proper sick leave has never been more crucial. So why are people still ‘soldiering on’ at work?


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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian, who last week carried on working for up to two hours while awaiting the results of a rapid COVID test, wasn’t the first Australian to “soldier on” in the face of health concerns and a big day at work.

And she almost certainly won’t be the last, despite the COVID pandemic making it clearer than ever before it’s important to take time off if you’re sick or self-isolating.

Soldiering on—also known as “sickness presenteeism”—is alive and well even in 2020. Many people, from state premiers to minimum-wage workers, feel they have no choice but to show up and carry on. Those with precarious employment may feel as if their entire job hinges on it.

If a pandemic won’t get workers to call in sick, then what will? What we need is for managers and leaders (state premiers included) to model responsible behaviour, and foster a healthy workplace culture in which soldiering on isn’t celebrated as heroic.

A 2016 report by Pathology Awareness Australia estimated the economic costs of workers turning up sick or putting in unnecessary extra hours at more than A$34 billion a year, due to productivity loss and the spread of infection to coworkers.

Since the advent of COVID, it has become a significant public health issue too. Cases have been traced to workers spreading the virus at work, including abattoirs and health-care facilities.

Presenteeism is found throughout the employment spectrum, but is more prevalent among “essential” workers, such as those in health care, who typically report feeling “socially obligated” to attend work.

A 2019 survey of 6,387 women in the public sector found 90% had gone to work while sick in the preceding 12 months. The main reasons included workload pressures (52%), and the perception they weren’t sick enough to stay home (54%).

But why is sickness presenteeism still a thing in 2020? The sad fact is that even amid a pandemic, workers in essential services such as aged care and teaching report feeling pressured by their managers to turn up to work.

Another reason is the broader socioeconomic issue of job insecurity. Workers on temporary or casual contracts may not have sick pay entitlements at all, or feel their job is at risk if they are absent. Coupled with the workload pressures typical of precarious work, these people face an almost impossible dilemma when sick or self-isolating.

How workplaces can help

The onus is on businesses an