‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Film Comes Home to Singapore

“Crazy Rich Asians” celebrated its Asian premiere in Singapore on Tuesday night, with local-born stars such as Fiona Xie delighted to be bringing the film home to the city where it was filmed.

“I’m so looking forward for every Singaporean to watch this because Singapore is so beautiful on screen. Everybody (in Hollywood) was like, is this CGI? Does this place really exist?,” Xie, who plays gold digging opera star Kitty Pong, told reporters.

“This is a homecoming!” she said.

The film, the first Hollywood movie in 25 years with an all-Asian cast, is a rare Hollywood showcase of Asian identity and culture, which the filmmakers hope will be enjoyed by moviegoers of all backgrounds.

The romantic comedy about an Asian-American New Yorker who goes to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s wealthy and tradition-bound family of Chinese descent is based on the 2013 best-selling book of the same name by Kevin Kwan.

The Warner Bros. film directed by Jon M. Chu, launched above expectations, garnering $34 million in just five days.

The film, with a mostly eastern Asian cast, has drawn criticism for not representing Singapore’s multi-ethnic society.

“The film is set in Singapore, where 15 percent of the population are Malay and 7.4 percent are Indian, and none of them are represented in the film except as the background help,” said activist and journalist Kirsten Han on Twitter.

However, others saw it as an opportunity to tell other diverse Singapore stories.

“This movie is going to open more doors for us to tell the world more Singapore stories,” 19 year-old university student, Andrea Raeburn told Reuters at the premiere.

The film’s producer, John Penotti also shared similar sentiments:”We hope this starts a very long-running trend celebrating Asian-focused films that play around the world, that’s exactly the hope for the portrayal of Asians, that’s exactly what is starting to happen. There are many more stories, this is just one,” he said.

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‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Film Comes Home to Singapore

“Crazy Rich Asians” celebrated its Asian premiere in Singapore on Tuesday night, with local-born stars such as Fiona Xie delighted to be bringing the film home to the city where it was filmed.

“I’m so looking forward for every Singaporean to watch this because Singapore is so beautiful on screen. Everybody (in Hollywood) was like, is this CGI? Does this place really exist?,” Xie, who plays gold digging opera star Kitty Pong, told reporters.

“This is a homecoming!” she said.

The film, the first Hollywood movie in 25 years with an all-Asian cast, is a rare Hollywood showcase of Asian identity and culture, which the filmmakers hope will be enjoyed by moviegoers of all backgrounds.

The romantic comedy about an Asian-American New Yorker who goes to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s wealthy and tradition-bound family of Chinese descent is based on the 2013 best-selling book of the same name by Kevin Kwan.

The Warner Bros. film directed by Jon M. Chu, launched above expectations, garnering $34 million in just five days.

The film, with a mostly eastern Asian cast, has drawn criticism for not representing Singapore’s multi-ethnic society.

“The film is set in Singapore, where 15 percent of the population are Malay and 7.4 percent are Indian, and none of them are represented in the film except as the background help,” said activist and journalist Kirsten Han on Twitter.

However, others saw it as an opportunity to tell other diverse Singapore stories.

“This movie is going to open more doors for us to tell the world more Singapore stories,” 19 year-old university student, Andrea Raeburn told Reuters at the premiere.

The film’s producer, John Penotti also shared similar sentiments:”We hope this starts a very long-running trend celebrating Asian-focused films that play around the world, that’s exactly the hope for the portrayal of Asians, that’s exactly what is starting to happen. There are many more stories, this is just one,” he said.

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UEFA Forging Ahead with Plans to Increase Value of Women’s Football

The women’s Champions League is beginning to step out of the shadow of its male counterpart with the ultimate aim of being as much of a must-see and commercially-attractive event, a UEFA official told Reuters on Tuesday.

This season’s final in Budapest will be the first time the showpiece, in its current format, will be held in a different city to the men’s Champions League final.

The decision was taken to allow the pinnacle of women’s club football (called soccer in the U.S.) in Europe to have its own spotlight and not be overshadowed by the men’s edition, which is one of the most viewed annual TV events in the world, surpassing the Super Bowl.

The sponsorship and broadcast rights to the women’s final are currently sold by UEFA, with the previous rounds being managed by the clubs themselves.

However, Kayleigh Grieve, marketing manager for women’s football at European soccer’s governing body, said the ultimate aim was to part-centralize the rights-selling process to give the game the platform it deserves.

“We’re looking at that first step of bringing centralization back to the quarter-finals to final and hope that may shape up the process,” Grieve said on the sidelines of the Leaders XX Think Tank, held at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium.

“But certainly broadcast will help us build more of the story of the Champions League because now putting it in a city is one thing, but we essentially drop in a match a year and try and grow an audience for it and we’ve not really told them anything about the lead-up to that and built the interest and built the heroes of the matches, built the star players.

“We essentially want to get in a position where we can do that and that people at least recognize some of the names of the players and some of the clubs.”

A spokesman for UEFA later told Reuters that plans to further centralize the broadcasting rights were an “ideal world scenario” and had not yet been broached with clubs.

Unique sponsors

The 2018 final was held in Kyiv’s Valeriy Lobanovskyi Dynamo Stadium, where Olympique Lyonnais beat VfL Wolfsburg 4-1 to win their third successive Champions League title — two days before Real Madrid achieved that feat in the men’s edition.

The match attendance, however, was 14,237, the lowest for the women’s final for four years.

With a bigger push from sponsors specifically invested in women’s football, Grieve believed that number could see a big increase.

“It’s just about making sure we present the competition as a strong product and bring in unique sponsors to the women’s side,” she said. “So we’ve unbundled that from the men’s side and we’re selling that in its own right.

“The partners previously were just given the women’s rights which meant they hadn’t committed their budgets to it, they hadn’t got anything committed to the activation of the rights so it was just left languishing. They maybe took a few tickets, came to a few games but there was no activation around it.

“So at least this time if they do come on the program, it will be because they specifically paid for it, which means they will specifically activate around it.”

International plans

UEFA oversaw a record-breaking Women’s European Championship last year, hosted and won by the Netherlands, in terms of attendances, TV viewers and online interactions.

Grieve said it was a distinct possibility that future editions of the women’s World Cup or Euros could one day be as big as the respective men’s tournaments.

“I understand the sentiment of it,” she said. “They [FIFA] probably won’t be far off. From what I’ve seen of the predictions of next year’s Women’s World Cup, is that they are going to eclipse a number of men’s competitions — maybe not their own yet, but they are getting there.

“I don’t see why it can’t be as big, especially at a national team competition when you really tap into national pride, national interest and all those stories. … So from a World Cup or Euros perspective, I can see those competitions being massive.”

World soccer body FIFA’s governing council is still pondering proposals for a global women’s nations league and an impatiently-awaited Club World Cup.

With UEFA appointing former world player of the year Nadine Kessler as their first head of women’s football last year, the European body has the chance to lead the way for the women’s game.

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UEFA Forging Ahead with Plans to Increase Value of Women’s Football

The women’s Champions League is beginning to step out of the shadow of its male counterpart with the ultimate aim of being as much of a must-see and commercially-attractive event, a UEFA official told Reuters on Tuesday.

This season’s final in Budapest will be the first time the showpiece, in its current format, will be held in a different city to the men’s Champions League final.

The decision was taken to allow the pinnacle of women’s club football (called soccer in the U.S.) in Europe to have its own spotlight and not be overshadowed by the men’s edition, which is one of the most viewed annual TV events in the world, surpassing the Super Bowl.

The sponsorship and broadcast rights to the women’s final are currently sold by UEFA, with the previous rounds being managed by the clubs themselves.

However, Kayleigh Grieve, marketing manager for women’s football at European soccer’s governing body, said the ultimate aim was to part-centralize the rights-selling process to give the game the platform it deserves.

“We’re looking at that first step of bringing centralization back to the quarter-finals to final and hope that may shape up the process,” Grieve said on the sidelines of the Leaders XX Think Tank, held at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium.

“But certainly broadcast will help us build more of the story of the Champions League because now putting it in a city is one thing, but we essentially drop in a match a year and try and grow an audience for it and we’ve not really told them anything about the lead-up to that and built the interest and built the heroes of the matches, built the star players.

“We essentially want to get in a position where we can do that and that people at least recognize some of the names of the players and some of the clubs.”

A spokesman for UEFA later told Reuters that plans to further centralize the broadcasting rights were an “ideal world scenario” and had not yet been broached with clubs.

Unique sponsors

The 2018 final was held in Kyiv’s Valeriy Lobanovskyi Dynamo Stadium, where Olympique Lyonnais beat VfL Wolfsburg 4-1 to win their third successive Champions League title — two days before Real Madrid achieved that feat in the men’s edition.

The match attendance, however, was 14,237, the lowest for the women’s final for four years.

With a bigger push from sponsors specifically invested in women’s football, Grieve believed that number could see a big increase.

“It’s just about making sure we present the competition as a strong product and bring in unique sponsors to the women’s side,” she said. “So we’ve unbundled that from the men’s side and we’re selling that in its own right.

“The partners previously were just given the women’s rights which meant they hadn’t committed their budgets to it, they hadn’t got anything committed to the activation of the rights so it was just left languishing. They maybe took a few tickets, came to a few games but there was no activation around it.

“So at least this time if they do come on the program, it will be because they specifically paid for it, which means they will specifically activate around it.”

International plans

UEFA oversaw a record-breaking Women’s European Championship last year, hosted and won by the Netherlands, in terms of attendances, TV viewers and online interactions.

Grieve said it was a distinct possibility that future editions of the women’s World Cup or Euros could one day be as big as the respective men’s tournaments.

“I understand the sentiment of it,” she said. “They [FIFA] probably won’t be far off. From what I’ve seen of the predictions of next year’s Women’s World Cup, is that they are going to eclipse a number of men’s competitions — maybe not their own yet, but they are getting there.

“I don’t see why it can’t be as big, especially at a national team competition when you really tap into national pride, national interest and all those stories. … So from a World Cup or Euros perspective, I can see those competitions being massive.”

World soccer body FIFA’s governing council is still pondering proposals for a global women’s nations league and an impatiently-awaited Club World Cup.

With UEFA appointing former world player of the year Nadine Kessler as their first head of women’s football last year, the European body has the chance to lead the way for the women’s game.

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US Officials Threaten Russia with ‘Much More Economic Pain’

Washington is prepared to impose more economic pain on Russia if it does not change its behavior, Trump administration officials said on Tuesday, as U.S. lawmakers pushed for stronger measures to counteract “malign” Russian activities.

“Though Russia’s malign activities continue, we believe its adventurism undoubtedly has been checked by the knowledge that we can bring much more economic pain to bear using our powerful range of authorities — and that we will not hesitate to do so if its conduct does not demonstrably and significantly change,” Acting Deputy Treasury Secretary Sigal Mandelker told the Senate Banking Committee.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he would like better ties with Moscow, but although he met Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, relations between the two countries have come under further strain.

Members of Congress, where both chambers are controlled by Trump’ fellow Republicans, have called for more action — including threatening sanctions “from hell” — to punish Russia for actions including its annexation of Crimea, involvement in Syria’s civil war and cyberattacks seeking to influence U.S. elections.

Two U.S. Senate committees held simultaneous hearings on Russia on Tuesday, where some lawmakers chastised administration officials for failing to sufficiently answer their questions, and for sending conflicting messages and doing too little to change Russian behavior.

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have criticized Trump, particularly after his summit with Putin in Helsinki last month, for failing to stand up to Moscow on issues including what they see as Trump’s failure to hold the Russian president accountable for Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Microsoft Corp said late Monday that hackers linked to the Kremlin sought to launch cyberattacks on the Senate and conservative American think tanks, warning of broader attacks ahead of congressional elections in November. 

The Kremlin rejected the Microsoft allegations and said there was no evidence to support them. Moscow has repeatedly denied attempting to influence U.S. elections, including the 2016 presidential vote that brought Trump into office. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 campaign, seeking to tilt the vote in Trump’s favor.

Cost to Russia

U.S. administration officials told the Senate hearings that existing sanctions were having an effect on Russia’s economy, despite continuing behavior that concerns Washington.

Separately, the Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on two Russians, one Russian company and one Slovakian firm over actions it said helped another Russian company avoid sanctions over cyber-related activities.

The United States also announced sanctions on Russian shipping over the transfer of refined petroleum products to North Korea in violation of U.N. restrictions.

Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell told the Foreign Relations Committee that concern about sanctions has cost Russia $8 to $10 billion in arms deals. Without the American measures, Moscow’s behavior would be further “off the charts,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also said foreign direct investment in Russia has fallen by 80 percent since 2013, “which is a pretty stunning number.”

“I think this administration has been clear that we are prepared to take additional steps,” Mitchell said. “There is an escalatory ladder to sanctions. We are aware of what additional steps would be needed to make an even bigger point.”

Marshall Billingslea, assistant Treasury secretary for terrorism financing, told the Foreign Relations panel it was important that European allies, particularly in eastern Europe, do more to combat money laundering.

“There is an enormous amount of money that is still being exfiltrated from Russia by both organized crime and cronies surrounding Putin,” Billingslea said.

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump said he would only consider lifting sanctions against Russia if it were to do something positive for the United States, for instance in Syria or in Ukraine.

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Asia Argento Denies Sexual Relations With Actor She Paid Off

Italian actress Asia Argento, an outspoken advocate in the movement against sexual harassment, denied on Tuesday ever having had sexual relations with Jimmy Bennett, an actor who the New York Times reported had accused her of sexual assault.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Bennett had accused Argento of sexually assaulting him in 2013 when he was 17 and she was 37. Argento agreed to pay him $380,000 after he asked for $3.5 million, the paper said.

“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” Argento said in an emailed statement distributed by her Italian lawyer.

In her first public comments since the article, Argento said she had been linked to Bennett over several years “by friendship only.”

Representatives for Bennett did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter.

A spokesperson for the New York Times told Reuters: “We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting, which was based on verified documents and multiple sources.”

Argento said in her statement that Bennett had “unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money” to her following her media exposure in the accusations of sexual misconduct against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Argento was one of the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein. She told The New Yorker magazine last October that he had raped her during the Cannes festival in 1997 when she was 21. Since that interview, she has become an outspoken advocate in the #MeToo social media movement against sexual harassment.

She said in her statement that she and her then-boyfriend, the culinary television star Anthony Bourdain, had “decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him.”

“Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life,” she added.

Bourdain killed himself in June.

Argento said she would oppose the “false allegations” against her and would assume “all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.”

 

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Asia Argento Denies Sexual Relations With Actor She Paid Off

Italian actress Asia Argento, an outspoken advocate in the movement against sexual harassment, denied on Tuesday ever having had sexual relations with Jimmy Bennett, an actor who the New York Times reported had accused her of sexual assault.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Bennett had accused Argento of sexually assaulting him in 2013 when he was 17 and she was 37. Argento agreed to pay him $380,000 after he asked for $3.5 million, the paper said.

“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” Argento said in an emailed statement distributed by her Italian lawyer.

In her first public comments since the article, Argento said she had been linked to Bennett over several years “by friendship only.”

Representatives for Bennett did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter.

A spokesperson for the New York Times told Reuters: “We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting, which was based on verified documents and multiple sources.”

Argento said in her statement that Bennett had “unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money” to her following her media exposure in the accusations of sexual misconduct against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Argento was one of the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein. She told The New Yorker magazine last October that he had raped her during the Cannes festival in 1997 when she was 21. Since that interview, she has become an outspoken advocate in the #MeToo social media movement against sexual harassment.

She said in her statement that she and her then-boyfriend, the culinary television star Anthony Bourdain, had “decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him.”

“Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life,” she added.

Bourdain killed himself in June.

Argento said she would oppose the “false allegations” against her and would assume “all necessary initiatives for my protection before all competent venues.”

 

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Russia Calls Microsoft’s Hacking Allegations ‘Witch-Hunt’

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday denounced as a “witch-hunt” accusations put forward by Microsoft Corp over alleged attempts by hackers linked to Russia’s government to launch cyberattacks on U.S. institutions.

“It is regrettable that a large international company, which has been working in the Russian market for a long time, quite actively and successfully has to take part in a witch-hunt that has engulfed Washington,” the ministry said in a statement.

Microsoft said that hackers linked to Russia’s government tried to carry out cyberattacks on the U.S. Senate and conservative American think-tanks. It accused Moscow of broadening attacks ahead of November’s U.S. congressional elections.

 

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UK, EU Give Glimmer of Brexit Optimism Amid No-Deal Warning

British and European Union negotiators expressed cautious optimism Tuesday that they would reach a deal to prevent a disorderly U.K. exit from the bloc, saying talks will be intensified and take place “continuously” over the next few crucial months.

After meeting U.K. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab in Brussels, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said differences remained between the two sides on future economic relations and maintaining an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland.

 

Barnier said the challenge “for the coming weeks is to try and define an ambitious partnership between the U.K. and the EU, a partnership that has no precedent.”

 

Raab said there were “significant” issues to overcome, but that if both sides showed ambition and pragmatism, an agreement could be reached by October.

 

That’s the deadline the two sides have set themselves for a deal on divorce terms and the outlines of future trade, so that it can be approved by individual EU countries before Brexit day on March 29.

 

But negotiations have got bogged down amid infighting within British Prime Minister Theresa May’s divided Conservative government about how close an economic relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit.

 

Last month the government finally produced a plan, proposing to stick close to EU regulations in return for free trade in goods and no customs checks on the Irish border. But to some EU officials that smacks of cherry-picking benefits of EU membership without the responsibilities — something the bloc has explicitly ruled out.

 

Last week Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics put the chances of getting a Brexit deal at 50-50.

 

British businesses have warned that leaving without a deal could cause mayhem for trade and travel, bringing higher food prices, logjams around U.K. ports and disruption to everything from aviation to medical supplies.

 

A group that represents U.K. hospitals and ambulance services has said that its members may run out of drugs if Britain leaves the European Union without an agreement on future relations.

 

In a letter published Tuesday, NHS Providers said a lack of “visible and appropriate communication” from the government is hampering preparations for a so-called no-deal Brexit.

 

In a letter to National Health Service bosses that was leaked to the Times of London, the group’s chief executive said it would be more efficient to develop contingency plans nationally rather than “have to reinvent the wheel 229 times.”

 

Chris Hopson said “the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals” could be affected by the failure to reach a deal, adding that it could also “jeopardize” the EU workforce “on which the NHS relies.”

 

The U.K. government says it remains confident of reaching a deal, but is preparing for all outcomes. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Tuesday that the chance of no deal was “not negligible,” and that outcome would be bad both for Britain and for the EU.

 

On Thursday, the U.K. government plans to publish the first in a series of technical reports outlining the effects a no-deal Brexit would have on various sectors and offering advice to businesses and the public on how to prepare.

 

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Суд залишив під вартою підозрюваних у вбивстві «Сармата»

Апеляційний суд Запорізької області залишив під вартою до 29 вересня чотирьох підозрюваних у вбивстві бердянського активіста і учасника бойових дій на Донбасі Віталія «Сармата» Олешка. Колегія суддів відхилила клопотання адвокатів щодо обрання більш м’якого запобіжного заходу, ніж тримання під вартою їхнім підзахисним. Захисники також під час судового засідання просили перевести підозрюваних з ізолятора тимчасового тримання до слідчого ізолятора.

Під час засідання один з підозрюваних – Олександр Обухов – заявив, що не причетний до злочину і привіз інших затриманих за оплату на відпочинок до Бердянська. Ще один підозрюваний – Микола Ломака також заперечував свою провину, заявляючи, що приїхав до Бердянську на відпочинок.

Читайте також: «У Запоріжжі вшанували пам’ять вбитого бердянського активіста «Сармата»​»

3 серпня Бердянський міський районний суд обрав запобіжний захід чотирьом підозрюваним у вбивстві бердянського активіста Віталія «Сармата» Олешко.

Убивство сталося вдень 31 липня на території готелю, що належить родині Олешка: невідомий зайшов на його територію і здійснив два постріли. За підозрою у вбивстві «Сармата» біля Василівки Запорізької області було затримано 4-х осіб.

Наразі керівництво Національної поліції заявляє, що вбивство «Сармата» було замовним. Розглядається декілька версій вбивства.

У квітні 2018 року Віталій «Сармат» Олешко організував у Запоріжжі мітинг проти голови Запорізької ОДА Костянтина Бриля. Учасники акції звинувачували посадовця у занедбанні Молочного лиману, де минулого року внаслідок несвоєчасної очистки русла лиману стався масовий замор риби.

Окрім того, активісти заявляли, що на ремонт дороги Василівка – Енергодар виділили півмільярда гривень, проте ремонт так і не відбувся.

Віталій «Сармат» Олешко також неодноразово публічно виступав з критикою роботи бердянської міської влади.

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