As many cities sour on hosting Olympics, Salt Lake City’s enthusiasm endures

SALT LAKE CITY — The International Olympic Committee was effusive Wednesday in its support for a decadeslong effort to bring back the Winter Games to Utah’s capital city in 2034.

Unlike so many other past hosts that have decided bringing back the Games isn’t worth the time, money or hassle, Salt Lake City remains one of the few places where Olympic fever still burns strong. Olympic officials praised the city for preserving facilities and public enthusiasm as they kicked off their final visit ahead of a formal announcement expected this July.

Reminders of the 2002 Winter Games are nestled throughout the city, from a towering cauldron overlooking the valley to an Olympic emblem stamped on manhole covers downtown. Leaving the airport, a can’t-miss arch amid snow-capped mountains shows visitors they’re entering an Olympic city.

Those remnants are part of a long-term strategy Utah leaders launched on the heels of their first Olympics to remind residents that the Games are part of the fabric of their city, and that being a host city is a point of pride.

Olympic officials said they were greeted with such excitement Wednesday that it felt like the 2002 Winter Games never ended.

In the decades since Salt Lake City first opened its nearby slopes to the world’s top winter athletes, the pool of potential hosts has shrunk dramatically. The sporting spectacular is a notorious money pit, and climate change has curtailed the number of sites capable of hosting.

Even though Salt Lake City got caught in a bribery scandal that nearly derailed the 2002 Winter Olympics, it has worked its way back into the good graces of an Olympic committee increasingly reliant on passionate communities as its options dwindle. The city is now a prime candidate if officials eventually form a permanent rotation of host cities, Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi told reporters.

“We are in an environment here where we look for opportunities more than concerns,” Dubi said. “For the next 10 years, we’re not so much looking at what is challenging, but what are the opportunities to work together.”

The committee was left with only two bid cities for 2022 — Beijing, China, and Almaty, Kazakhstan — after financial, political and public concerns led several European contenders to drop out.

“The International Olympic Committee needs Salt Lake City a lot more than Salt Lake City needs the International Olympic Committee, or the Olympics,” said Jules Boykoff, a sports and politics professor at Pacific University.

For Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, securing the bid is central to his goal of cementing the state as North America’s winter sports capital.

Cox has continued a long-running push by state leaders to beckon professional sports leagues and welcome international events like last year’s NBA All-Star Game that could help burnish its image as a sports and tourism mecca, while chipping away at a lingering stigma that Utah is a bizarre, hyper-religious place.

About half of the state’s 3.4 million residents and the majority of state leaders belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon church.

Dave Lunt, a historian at Southern Utah University who teaches about the Olympics, said the Games give members of that faith, and other residents, a chance to clear up misconceptions and share their values with the world.

“Latter-day Saints really just want to be liked. No disrespect or anything, that’s my community, but there’s this history of, we want to show that we fit in, we’re good Americans,” he said. “We’re happy to host the party at our house.”

The 2002 Games, widely regarded as one of the most successful Olympics, brought government funding for a light-rail system and world-class athletic facilities. The city grew rapidly in its wake.

Utah bid leaders declined to release a budget estimate, saying they should be able to provide one next month. But they assured the committee that they could keep costs down by using most of the same venues they’ve spent millions to maintain since 2002. They also touted bipartisan support for hosting in the Democratic capital city of a predominantly Republican state.

With few options remaining for the Olympic committee, Salt Lake City has leverage to dictate terms, Boykoff said. Those can include funds, deadlines and even which sports are included.

And with NBC’s multibillion-dollar broadcasting contract with the Olympic committee set to expire in 2032 — two years before Utah would host — the committee has a vested interest in selecting a U.S. city in a better time zone for live broadcasts to entice U.S.-based broadcasting giants.

Unlike many cities, Salt Lake City residents did not get to vote on whether they wanted another Games, even as leaders say their polling shows more than 80% approval statewide.

Olympic historians say the hype can distract residents from downsides for other hosts, such as gentrification, corruption, rising taxes or empty promises of environmental improvements.

So far, no opposition has formed in Utah.

“If we consider the Olympics a cultural institution,” Lunt said, “maybe it’s worth paying some money if the people of Utah decide that’s important to us, collectively.”

US newsman who created no-frills PBS newscast dies

new york — Robert MacNeil, who created the even-handed, no-frills PBS newscast “The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour” in the 1970s and co-anchored the show with his late partner, Jim Lehrer, for two decades, died on Friday. He was 93. 

MacNeil died of natural causes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to his daughter, Alison MacNeil. 

MacNeil first gained prominence for his coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings for the public broadcasting service and began his half-hour “Robert MacNeil Report” on PBS in 1975 with his friend Lehrer as Washington correspondent. 

The broadcast became the “MacNeil-Lehrer Report” and then, in 1983, was expanded to an hour and renamed the “MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour.” The nation’s first one-hour evening news broadcast, and recipient of several Emmy and Peabody awards, it remains on the air today with Geoff Bennett and Amna Nawaz as anchors. 

It was MacNeil’s and Lehrer’s disenchantment with the style and content of rival news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC that led to the program’s creation. 

“We don’t need to SELL the news,” MacNeil told the Chicago Tribune in 1983. “The networks hype the news to make it seem vital, important. What’s missing [in 22 minutes] is context, sometimes balance, and a consideration of questions that are raised by certain events.” 

MacNeil left anchoring duties at “NewsHour” after two decades in 1995 to write full time. Lehrer took over the newscast alone, and he remained there until 2009. Lehrer died in 2020. 

When MacNeil visited the show in October 2005 to commemorate its 30th anniversary, he reminisced about how their newscast started in the days before cable television. 

“It was a way to do something that seemed to be needed journalistically and yet was different from what the commercial network news (programs) were doing,” he said. 

Wrote memoirs, novels

MacNeil wrote several books, including two memoirs “The Right Place at the Right Time” and the best seller “Wordstruck,” and the novels “Burden of Desire” and “The Voyage.” 

“Writing is much more personal. It is not collaborative in the way that television must be,” MacNeil told The Associated Press in 1995. “But when you’re sitting down writing a novel, it’s just you: Here’s what I think, here’s what I want to do. And it’s me.” 

MacNeil also created the Emmy-winning 1986 series “The Story of English,” with the MacNeil-Lehrer production company, and was co-author of the companion book of the same name. 

Another book on language that he co-wrote, “Do You Speak American?,” was adapted into a PBS documentary in 2005. 

Explored post 9/11 challenges

In 2007, he served as host of “America at a Crossroads,” a six-night PBS package exploring challenges confronting the United States in a post-9/11 world. 

Six years before the 9/11 attacks, discussing sensationalism and frivolity in the news business, he had said: “If something really serious did happen to the nation — a stock market crash like 1929, … the equivalent of a Pearl Harbor — wouldn’t the news get very serious again? Wouldn’t people run from `Hard Copy’ and titillation?” 

“Of course you would. You’d have to know what was going on.” 

That was the case — for a while. 

Born in Montreal in 1931, MacNeil was raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa in 1955 before moving to London where he began his journalism career with Reuters. He switched to TV news in 1960, taking a job with NBC in London as a foreign correspondent. 

In 1963, MacNeil was transferred to NBC’s Washington bureau, where he reported on Civil Rights and the White House. He covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas and spent most of 1964 following the presidential campaign between Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, and Republican Barry Goldwater. 

In 1965, MacNeil became the New York anchor of the first half-hour weekend network news broadcast, “The Scherer-MacNeil Report” on NBC. While in New York, he also anchored local newscasts and several NBC news documentaries, including “The Big Ear” and “The Right to Bear Arms.” 

MacNeil returned to London in 1967 as a reporter for the British Broadcasting Corp.’s “Panorama” series. While with the BBC, be covered such U.S. stories as the clash between anti-war demonstrators and the Chicago police at the 1968 Democratic Convention, and the funerals of the Reverand Martin Luther King Jr., Senator Robert Kennedy and President Dwight Eisenhower. 

In 1971, MacNeil left the BBC to become a senior correspondent for PBS, where he teamed up with Lehrer to co-anchor public television’s Emmy-winning coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973. 

США і Британія оголосили нові заборони щодо експорту РФ алюмінію, міді та нікелю

Лондонська біржа металів (LME) і Чиказька товарна біржа (CME) більше не будуть торгувати новими алюмінієм, міддю та нікелем, виробленими в Росії.

Розвідка США виявила, що Китай різко збільшив продаж обладнання до Росії для її війни проти України

Argentinian’s tiny invention changed pizza delivery forever

Sometimes it’s the little ideas that can make the biggest difference. And that definitely goes for delivery pizza. From Buenos Aires, Gonzalo Bañez Villar has the story of a little idea that had a big impact, in this report narrated by Veronica Villafañe.

Кримінальне покарання за обхід санкцій проти Росії: Рада ЄС ухвалила закон

Рішення передбачає, що умисне порушення санкцій має тягнути за собою максимальне покарання у вигляді тюремного ув’язнення

У Москві поліція вдерлася до квартири дипломата з Киргизстану

Міністерство закордонних справ Киргизстану предʼявило російській владі офіційну ноту

Clouds gather over Japan’s ambitious Osaka World Expo

Osaka, Japan — One of the largest wooden structures ever built is taking shape in Osaka but hopes that Expo 2025 will unite the world are being dogged by cost blowouts and a lack of public enthusiasm.

The imposing circular centerpiece will be crowned by a 20-meter-high sloping canopy, designed by top architect Sou Fujimoto, known as the “Grand Roof.”

It has a circumference of a staggering 2 kilometers and 161 countries and territories will show off their trade opportunities and cultural attractions at pavilions within the vast latticed ring.

A crane hoisted a block of beams into place this week as organizers said construction was largely on schedule, one year before visitors will be welcomed.

Expo 2025 global PR director Sachiko Yoshimura maintained that global participants would be “united” by the event even though there are conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza and elsewhere.

Russia will not be among the participants at Expo 2025, which will run from April 13 to October 13.

“Of course, there are so many crises around the world, but we want everybody to actually get together and think about the future and sustainability,” Yoshimura said.

It has also met a lukewarm response in Japan, where promotion is ramping up and the red-and-blue Expo 2025 mascot “Myaku-Myaku” — billed by the official website as “a mysterious creature born from the unification of cells and water” — is ever-present.

A recent Kyodo News survey found that 82% of Japanese companies, sponsors and others involved said “fostering domestic momentum” would be a challenge.

Ballooning budget

The construction budget has ballooned 27% from 2020 estimates to $1.5 billion due to inflation and Japan’s chronic worker shortage.

Some say the costs are also hard to justify when 6,300 people are still in evacuation centers and hotels after an earthquake on New Year’s Day devastated parts of central Japan.

Fujimoto’s “Grand Roof” alone has a price tag of 35 billion yen and has been slammed by opposition leader Kenta Izumi as “the world’s most expensive parasol.”

The “Grand Roof” and other structures are temporary, with no clear plan for them other than organizers saying they will be reused or recycled.

The site on an artificial island in Osaka Bay will be cleared after the Expo, with plans to build a resort there containing Japan’s first casino.

Jun Takashina, deputy secretary general of the Japan Association for Osaka 2025, acknowledged budget and regulatory “struggles” among foreign participants but said organizers would help make sure the displays are ready in time.

Among the most hotly anticipated attractions are flying electric cars, which take off vertically, showcasing the event’s technological and environmental aspirations.

But the vehicles — subject to reams of regulations — will be a “kind of experiment,” Yoshimura said.

More than 1.2 million tickets have already been sold, and organizers hope to attract 28.2 million visitors, including 3.5 million from abroad.

That would be 4 million more than the last World Fair in Dubai but pales in comparison to the 64 million people who attended the 1970 Expo in Osaka, a record until it was overtaken by Shanghai in 2010.

Future like science fiction

The first world fair to celebrate culture and industrial progress was held in London in 1851, with the Eiffel Tower built for the 1889 Paris World Fair.

Osaka academic Shinya Hashizume, a specialist in architecture history and town planning, said he was amazed as a 10-year-old when he saw a “future that looked like science fiction” at the 1970 Expo.

The first film in IMAX format was shown at that event and visitors could admire rocks brought back from the moon.

“Those six months were extraordinary for Osaka. Simply put, the whole town was having a party,” he said.

The advent of mass tourism and hyper-connected societies may have since lessened the attraction, but some Osaka residents still think it’s a good idea.

Kosuke Ito, a 36-year-old doctor, said it would “strengthen the economy.”

However, Yuka Nakamura, 26, said she might be put off by adult entry fees ranging from $25 to $50 a day.

Прем’єр-міністр Бельгії анонсував розслідування щодо спроб Росії втрутитися у вибори в ЄС

«Мета дуже ясна: ослаблення європейської підтримки України служить Росії на полі бою, і це справжня мета того, що було розкрито за останні тижні»

Росія: в Бєлгороді дрон врізався у будівлю «Газпрому», відомо про поранених

Внаслідок вибуху двоє людей зазнали осколкових поранень і шпиталізовані, повідомив місцевий губернатор

Бундестаг засудив політиків AfD через зв’язки з Москвою

Депутати Бундестагу звинуватили AfD у «близькості до Росії і зраді інтересів Німеччини»

Росія відправила військових інструкторів до Нігеру – держтелебачення

RTN також повідомив, що Росія погодилася встановити протиповітряну систему в Нігері

У Білому домі відреагували на чергові удари РФ по енергооб’єктах України

У Білому домі вкотре закликали Конгрес США ухвалити законопроєкт щодо додаткового фінансування для України

Президентка Молдови у розмові з міністеркою оборони Нідерландів згадала про ППО для України

Командувачем сил НАТО в Європі: армія РФ зараз на 15% більша, ніж коли почалося вторгнення

За словами Крістовера Каволі, за минулий рік Росія збільшила чисельність своїх військ на передовій з 360 тисяч до 470 000

Україна та Чехія домовились про укладення безпекового договору

Петр Павел припустив, що у травні чи червні цей договір може бути укладений

У Казахстані криміналізують домашнє насильство

Закон запроваджує кримінальну відповідальність за побиття та навмисне заподіяння легкої шкоди здоровʼю

За звʼязки з ФСБ – Європарламент оштрафував на 1750 євро депутатку від Латвії Жданок

Мандат депутатки Європарламенту Тетяни Жданок спливає цього року. Раніше її виключили із європейської фракції «Зелених» – після відмови засудити повномасштабне вторгнення Росії в Україну

Росія викликала посла Австрії після того, як Відень вислав двох російських дипломатів

МЗС Росії оголосило персоною нон-ґрата неназваного австрійського дипломата

Зеленський прибув на саміт у Литву закликати до допомоги Україні після «підлих ударів» Росії

«Головне зараз – зробити все для зміцнення нашої ППО, забезпечення нагальних потреб Сил оборони України, а також консолідації міжнародної підтримки»

Cambodia’s relocation of people from UNESCO site raises concerns

RUN TA EK, Cambodia — It’s been more than a year since Yem Srey Pin moved with her family from the village where she was born on Cambodia’s Angkor UNESCO World Heritage site to Run Ta Ek, a dusty new settlement about 25 kilometers away.

Hers is one of about 5,000 families relocated from the sprawling archaeological site, one of Southeast Asia’s top tourist draws, by Cambodian authorities in an ongoing program that Amnesty International has condemned as a “gross violation of international human rights law.” Another 5,000 families are still due to be moved.

The allegations have drawn strong expressions of concern from UNESCO and a spirited rebuttal from Cambodian authorities, who say they’re doing nothing more than protecting the heritage land from illegal squatters.

Yem Srey Pin’s single-room home is a far cry better than the makeshift tent she lived in with her husband and five children when they first arrived, which did little to protect from the monsoon rains and blew down in the winds.

And their 600-square-meter property is significantly bigger than the 90-square-meter plot they occupied illegally in the village of Khvean on the Angkor site.

But the 35-year-old is also in debt from building the new house. Her husband finds less construction work nearby and his wages are lower, and there are no wild fruits or vegetables she can forage, nor rice paddies where she can collect crabs to sell at her mother’s stand.

“After more than a year here I haven’t been able to save any money and I haven’t earned anything,” she said. 

The Angkor site is one of the largest archaeological sites in the world, spread across some 400 square kilometers in northwestern Cambodia. It contains the ruins of Khmer Empire capitals from the 9th to 15th centuries, including the temple of Angkor Wat.

When it was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1992, it was named a “living heritage site” whose local population observed ancestral traditions and cultural practices that have disappeared elsewhere.

Still, UNESCO at the time noted that Angkor was under “dual pressures” from some 100,000 inhabitants in 112 historic settlements who “constantly try to expand their dwelling areas,” and from encroachment from the nearby town of Siem Reap.

Cambodia’s answer was a plan to entice the 10,000 families illegally squatting in the area to resettle at Run Ta Ek and another site, as well as to encourage some from the 112 historic settlements to relocate as their families grow in size.

“The number of people were on the rise, including those coming illegally,” said Long Kosal, spokesperson for the Cambodian agency known as APSARA that’s responsible for managing the Angkor site. “What we did was that we provided an option.”

Cambodia began moving people to Run Ta Ek in 2022, giving those who volunteered to leave their homes in the Angkor area plots of land, a two-month supply of canned food and rice, a tarp and 30 sheets of corrugated metal to use to build a home. Benefits also included a Poor Card, essentially a state welfare program giving them around 310,000 riel (about $75) monthly for 10 years.

In a November report, Amnesty questioned how voluntary the relocations actually were, saying many people they interviewed were threatened or coerced into moving and that the relocations were more “forced evictions in disguise.”

The rights group cited a speech from former Prime Minister Hun Sen in which he said people “must either leave the Angkor site soon and receive some form of compensation or be evicted at a later time and receive nothing.”

Amnesty also noted Hun Sen’s track record, saying that under his long-time rule Cambodian authorities had been responsible for several forced evictions elsewhere that it alleged “constituted gross violations of human rights.” It said Run Ta Ek — with dirt roads, insufficient drainage, poor sanitation and other issues — did not fulfil international obligations under human rights treaties to provide people adequate housing.

That has now changed: Homes with outhouses have been built, roads paved, and sewers installed. Primitive hand pumps made of blue PVC piping provide water, and electricity has been run in.

There’s a school, a health center, a temple; bus routes were added, and a market area was built but is not yet operating, Long Kosal said.

But Amnesty maintains there are major concerns.

Among other things, families have had to take on heavy debt to build even basic houses, and there is little work to be found, said Montse Ferrer, the head of Amnesty’s research team investigating the Angkor Wat resettlements.

“They had a clear source of income at the time — tourism — but also other sources of income linked to the location at Angkor,” she said. “They are now at least 30 minutes away from the site and can no longer access these sources.”

Following Amnesty’s scathing report, UNESCO moved up the timeline for Cambodia’s submission of its own report on the state of conservation at the Angkor site, specifically asking for the allegations to be addressed.

In that report, submitted to UNESCO in March, Cambodia said it had not violated any international laws with the relocations, saying it was only moving people involved in the “illegal occupation of heritage land” and that in Run Ta Ek many were now property owners for the first time in their lives.

UNESCO said it would not comment on the situation until it has been able to analyze Cambodia’s response.

It referred The Associated Press to previous comments from Lazare Eloundou Assomo, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center, who stressed the agency had “always categorically rejected the use of forced evictions as a tool for management of World Heritage listed sites.”

Yem Srey Pin said even though Run Ta Ek has slowly improved since she arrived in February 2023, and her new home will be paid off fairly soon, she’d rather return to her village if it were possible.

But with almost all of the village’s 400 families moving out, Yem Srey Pin says there’s nothing left for her there.

“I can’t live in my old village alone,” she said.

«Китай не сприйматиме звинувачень і тиску» – Пекін відреагував на претензії щодо співпраці з Росією

Китай і Росія мають право на «нормальну співпрацю», вона не повинна піддаватися зовнішньому втручанню або обмеженню, кажуть у МЗС країни

Європарламент схвалив реформу міграційного законодавства ЄС

Реформу ще має схвалити Рада ЄС, тобто представники країн, які входять до Євросоюзу

«Clara met her wife Maria at lesbian bar» – у РФ побачили «ЛГБТ-пропаганду» в сервісі вивчення мов Duolingo

Duolingo – одна з найпопулярніших програм для вивчення мов, створена у США в 2011 році

Боррель у Європарламенті відмовився називати виборами перемогу Путіна в РФ

10 квітня у Європарламенті відбулися дебати щодо результатів виборів у Росії. Далі парламентарії працюватимуть у комітетах – намагатимуться узгодити проєкт резолюції про невизнання Володимира Путіна легітимним президентом