US Supreme Court Rebuffs Defamation Suit Against Cosby

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday for a second time declined to take up a case related to sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Cosby, refusing to consider reviving a defamation lawsuit against the comedian filed by a woman who said he falsely called her a liar after she accused him of raping her in 1974.

The justices turned away an appeal by Kathrine McKee, an actress and former Las Vegas showgirl, of a lower court ruling in Massachusetts that threw out her lawsuit. Separately, Cosby was sentenced last September to three to 10 years in prison in Pennsylvania for sexually assaulting another woman in 2004.

The Supreme Court last October snubbed an appeal by Cosby in another defamation case, allowing a lawsuit brought by former model Janice Dickinson to go forward against the entertainer best known for his starring role in the 1980s hit television series “The Cosby Show.”

McKee went public with her rape accusation against Cosby in a 2014 interview with the New York Daily News. She is one of more than 50 women who in recent years have accused Cosby of sexual assault dating back to the 1960s by using drugs to incapacitate them.

An attorney for Cosby then sent a letter to the newspaper, suggesting McKee was a liar and calling her an unreliable source. In the letter, Cosby’s lawyer said McKee had admitted lying to get hired as a showgirl.

McKee sued Cosby for defamation in 2015 in federal court in Boston, saying the letter made false statements and harmed her reputation.

A trial judge in Springfield, Massachusetts in 2017 dismissed her claims, saying the lawsuit was barred by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech. The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.

The appeals court said that by deliberately wading into the controversy, McKee had become a public figure, requiring her to prove Cosby acted with malice — meaning he knew his statements were false — to win a defamation claim.

McKee told the justices that she “should not be victimized twice over” by making it harder for her to prove defamation merely because she went public as an alleged victim.

Cosby, 81, was found guilty in April 2018 of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the drugging and sexual assault of Andrea Constand, a former Temple University administrator, at his Philadelphia home in 2004. He was sentenced in that case on Sept. 25.

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Designer Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s Global Icon, Dies in Paris

Karl Lagerfeld, the iconic couturier whose designs at Chanel and Fendi had an unprecedented impact on the entire fashion industry, died Tuesday in Paris, prompting an outpouring of love and admiration for the man whose career spanned six decades.

Although he spent virtually his entire career at luxury labels catering to the very wealthy — including 20 years at Chloe — Lagerfeld’s designs quickly trickled down to low-end retailers, giving him global influence.

Former supermodel Claudia Schiffer, who credits Lagerfeld as her mentor, called him her “magic dust.”

“What [Andy] Warhol was to art, he was to fashion; he is irreplaceable,” she said.

The German-born designer may have spent much of his life in the public eye — his trademark white ponytail, high starched collar and dark glasses are instantly recognizable — but he remained a largely elusive figure.

Such was the enigma surrounding the octogenarian Lagerfeld that even his age was a point of mystery for decades, with reports he had two birth certificates, one dated 1933 and the other 1938.

In 2013, Lagerfeld told the French magazine “Paris Match” he was born in September of 1935 — which would make him 83 today — but in 2019 his assistant still didn’t know the truth — telling The Associated Press he liked “to scramble the tracks on his year of birth — that’s part of the character.”

Chanel confirmed that Lagerfeld, who had looked increasingly frail in recent seasons, died early Tuesday in Paris. Last month, he did not come out to take a bow at the house’s couture show in Paris — a rare absence that the company attributed to him being “tired.”

“An extraordinary creative individual, Lagerfeld reinvented the brand’s codes created by Gabrielle Chanel: the Chanel jacket and suit, the little black dress, the precious tweeds, the two-tone shoes, the quilted handbags, the pearls and costume jewelry,” Chanel said.

The brand’s CEO Alain Wertheimer praised Lagerfeld for an “exceptional intuition” that was ahead of his time and contributed to Chanel’s global success.

“Today, not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind to whom I gave carte blanche in the early 1980s to reinvent the brand,” he said.

Chanel said Virginie Viard, his longtime head of studio, will create the house’s upcoming collections, but did not say whether her appointment was permanent.

Tributes from fellow designers, Hollywood celebrities, models and politicians quickly poured in. Donatella Versace thanked Lagerfeld for the way he inspired her and her late brother Gianni Versace.

Lagerfeld was one of the most hardworking figures in the fashion world, joining luxury Italian fashion house Fendi in 1965 and later becoming its longtime womenswear design chief in 1977, as well as leading designs at Paris’ family-owned power-house Chanel since 1983.

While at Fendi, Lagerfeld helped create the notion of fun fur, lending an ease to a formal wardrobe topper by adding stylized touches.

At Chanel, he served up youthful designs that were always of the moment and sent out almost infinite variations on the house’s classic skirt suit, ratcheting up the hemlines or smothering it in golden chains, stings of pearls or pricey accessories.

Wit was never far behind any collection.

“Each season, they tell me [the Chanel designs] look younger. One day we’ll all turn up like babies,” he once told The Associated Press.

His outspoken and often stinging remarks on topics as diverse as French politics and celebrity waistlines won him the nickname “Kaiser Karl” in the fashion media. Among the most acid comments included calling former French President Francois Hollande an “imbecile” who would be “disastrous” for France in Marie-Claire, and telling The Sun British tabloid that he didn’t like the face of Pippa Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister.

“She should only show her back,” he advised.

Lagerfeld was also heavily criticized for sending out a negative message to women when he told France’s Metro newspaper that British singer Adele was “a little too fat.”

Despite this, he was very kind to his staff at Chanel, generous with his time with journalists and shared his Parisian mansion with a Siamese cat called Choupette.

“She is spoilt, much more than a child could be,” he told the AP in 2013.

Lagerfeld had little use for nostalgia and kept his gaze firmly on the future. Well into his 70s, he was quick to embrace new technology: He famously had a collection of hundreds of iPods. A photographer who shot ad campaigns for Chanel and his own eponymous label, Lagerfeld also collected art books and had a massive library and a bookstore as well as his own publishing house.

He was also an impressive linguist, switching between perfect French, English, Italian and his native German during interviews at fashion shows.

Even as he courted the spotlight, he made a deliberate effort to hide what was going on behind his trademark dark shades.

“I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that,” British Vogue quoted Lagerfeld as saying. “It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long.”

After cutting his teeth at Paris-based label Chloe, Lagerfeld helped revive the flagging fortunes of the storied Paris haute couture label Chanel in the `80s. There, he helped launch the careers of supermodels including Schiffer, Ines de la Fressange and Stella Tennant.

In a move that helped make him a household name, Lagerfeld designed a capsule collection for Swedish fast-fashion company H&M in 2004 and released a CD of his favorite music shortly after.

A weight-loss book he published in 2005 — “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet” — consolidated his status as a pop culture icon. In the book, Lagerfeld said it was his desire to fit into slim-cut Dior suits that had motivated his dramatic transformation.

The son of an industrialist who made a fortune in condensed milk and his violinist wife, Lagerfeld was born into an affluent family in Hamburg, Germany. He had artistic ambitions early on. In interviews, he variously said he wanted to become a cartoonist, a portraitist, an illustrator or a musician.

“My mother tried to instruct me on the piano. One day, she slammed the piano cover closed on my fingers and said, `draw, it makes less noise,” he was quoted as saying in the book “The World According to Karl.”

At 14, Lagerfeld came to Paris with his parents and went to school in the City of Light. His fashion career got off to a precocious start when, in 1954, a coat he designed won a contest by the International Wool Secretariat. His rival, Yves Saint Laurent, won that year’s contest in the dress category.

Lagerfeld apprenticed at Balmain and in 1959 was hired at another Paris-based house, Patou, where he spent four years as artistic director. After a series of jobs with labels including Rome-based Fendi, Lagerfeld took over the reins at Chloe, known for its romantic Parisian style.

Lagerfeld also started his own label, Karl Lagerfeld, which though less commercially successful than his other ventures, was widely seen as a sketchpad where the designer worked through his ideas.

In 1983, he took over at Chanel, which had been dormant since the death of its founder, Coco Chanel, more than a decade earlier.

“When I took on Chanel, it was a sleeping beauty — not even a beautiful one,” he said in the 2007 documentary “Lagerfeld Confidential.” “She snored.”

For his debut collection for the house, Lagerfeld injected a dose of raciness, sending out a translucent navy chiffon number that prompted scandalized headlines.

He never ceased to shake up the storied house, sending out a logo-emblazoned bikini so small the top looked like pasties on a string and another collection that dispensed entirely with bottoms, with the models wearing little jackets over opaque tights instead.

Lagerfeld was open about his homosexuality — he once said he announced it to his parents at 13 — but kept his private life under wraps. Following his relationship with a French aristocrat who died of AIDS in 1989, Lagerfeld insisted he prized his solitude above all.

“I hate when people say I’m `solitaire’ [or solitary.] Yes, I’m solitaire in the sense of a stone from Cartier, a big solitaire,” Lagerfeld told The New York Times. “I have to be alone to do what I do. I like to be alone. I’m happy to be with people, but I’m sorry to say I like to be alone, because there’s so much to do, to read, to think.”

As much as he loved the spotlight, Lagerfeld was careful to obscure his real self.

“It’s not that I lie, it’s that I don’t owe the truth to anyone,” he told French Vogue.

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Artists Create Contemporary Take on Ancient Art Form

Levitating objects and plastic boxes may not seem to have anything to do with landscape painting, but they are the contemporary take on an ancient Chinese art style called “shan shui hua” or mountain water painting.

Dating back more than 1,000 years, this style of landscape painting, which uses brush and ink, has evolved over time. The art form is evolving once again in an exhibit called “Lightscapes: Re-envisioning the Shanshuihua” at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles.

The goal of Nick Dong and Chi-Tsung Wu, the two artists in the exhibit, is to connect the new, digital generation to this traditional type of art and to capture its essence in a new way through modern technology. 

The exhibit forces the viewer to slow down and experience a different world. That’s one of the objectives of the ancient masters of Chinese shan shui paintings.

Escape from reality

“Actually, it was for all these artists to create a world which they want to hide, avoid, escape from reality. So, they create a mountain (and) imagine they could live there,” said Dong, an artist born in Taiwan who now lives in Northern California.

Trained in both Chinese and Western art styles, Dong and Wu use experimental materials and light in the various art pieces in the exhibit. 

In a contemporary approach to what’s real and what is not, one installation involves a slowly moving light directed at clear plastic boxes attached to a wall.

“If we see this through the light, through the different perspective, we could see there’s another world behind that,” Wu said about his installation called Crystal City.

That other world Wu referenced are shadows that look more real and solid than the actual plastic boxes. Wu said the art installation is symbolic of the modern digital age.

“We spend most of our time in our daily life, no matter to work or to our social life or our entertainment, all on this cyberspace,” he said.

That space is an escape for many people similar to the landscape paintings.

Philosophy and the spiritual

To capture the philosophical elements of the landscape painting, magnets are used to levitate objects to show that there is a force between everything in nature.

Another art piece in the exhibit is a take on one’s relationship with the universe. To view Dong’s representation of heaven, one has to step into a room filled with mirrors from ceiling to floor. There is a stool in the middle of the room.

“We’re all searching. We’re all longing for growth, become better and, ultimately, good enough to go to heaven. So, in my mind, heaven is a place of selfless, so eventually once you’ve entered the installation, at first you’ll see a lot of your reflection. But once you sit down, you trigger the mechanism of the room. The mirror actually starts to reflect, and you yourself will disappear within the space. You vanish. All you have is this empty, wide-open space. For me, it’s the ultimate evolution,” Dong explained.

The art pieces in the exhibit are ways the artists hope the modern-day viewer will be able to experience what the ancient artists of the landscape paintings were trying to achieve. 

“They (ancient scholars) were able to say, ‘We’re seeking a spiritual outlet. We’re seeking a way to refine the spirit and refine the soul.’ This work, today, it’s hard to have that experience with the traditional artwork because they’re such a contained device. You see them in a museum under glass, and they’re hard to approach,” said Justin Hoover curator of the Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles.

Contemporary artists hope their use of lighting and experimental materials will make an ancient art form more tangible and real in the 21st century.

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Artists Emulate Ancient Art With Modern Technology

Dating back more than 1000 years ago, the style of Chinese landscape painting that uses brush and ink has evolved over time. This traditional art form is evolving once again in an exhibit called “Lightscapes: Re-envisioning the Shanshuihua.” It is on display at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. The goal: to connect the new, digital generation to this type of art and capture its essence in a new way. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee has the details

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Рівень поширення ВІЛ серед молоді в Україні знижується – МОЗ

Рівень поширеності ВІЛ серед української молоді віком 15-24 роки має стабільну тенденцію до зниження. Як повідомляє Центр громадського здоров’я Міністерства охорони здоров’я, це може свідчити про ефективність профілактичних заходів і стабілізацію епідемічної ситуації щодо ВІЛ-інфекції.

«Водночас більше половини осіб віком 15 років і старше (56,4% у 2017 р.) уперше виявляють на 3-й та 4-й клінічних стадіях ВІЛ-інфекції», – йдеться в повідомленні.

За даними МОЗ, понад 66% усіх випадків інфікування ВІЛ в Україні трапляється під час незахищених статевих стосунків.

Безоплатні швидкі тести на ВІЛ є в усіх регіонах України, їх можна зробити як у спеціальних центрах і кабінетах «Довіра», так і у сімейного лікаря, терапевта чи педіатра, зазначили в міністерстві.

З початку епідемії СНІДу у 1980-х роках понад 77 мільйонів людей по всьому світу захворіли на ВІЛ, і майже половина з них померли від СНІДу.

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Кількість волонтерів в Україні за минулий рік збільшилась – опитування

2018 року відсоток тих, хто впродовж року займався волонтерською діяльністю в Україні, зріс з 12% до 18%. Про це свідчать результати опитування, проведеного фондом «Демократичні ініціативи» імені Ілька Кучеріва і соціологічною службою Центру Разумкова.

«Найвищий рівень волонтерства спостерігається серед молоді (24%), а регіонально – на заході (21%) та у центрі (22%) і значно нижчий – на півдні (11%) та сході (14%)», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Згідно з опитуванням, після Революції гідності істотно зросла кількість людей, які впродовж року надавали грошову чи матеріальну допомогу – з 29% у 2012 році до 47% у 2015-му.

«Щоправда, далі цей відсоток дещо знизився: 42% у 2016 році, 41% – у 2017 році, 38,5% у 2018 році. Водночас, рівень залученості до благодійної діяльності нині все ж залишається вищим, ніж до Революції гідності», – йдеться в повідомленні. Загальна сума, яку благодійники жертвували впродовж 2018 року, складала від 50 до 500 гривень.

Опитування фонду «Демократичні ініціативи» та Центру Разумкова тривало з 19 до 25 грудня 2018 року в усіх регіонах України за винятком Криму та окупованих територій Донецької та Луганської областей. Опитали 2017 респондентів віком від 18 років. Теоретична похибка вибірки не перевищує 2,3%.

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Світоліна вийшла до третього кола турніру в Дубаї

Українська тенісистка Еліна вийшла до третього кола турніру Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships після відмови представниці Тунісу Онс Жабер продовжувати гру через травму.

Світоліна виграла перший сет з рахунком 7:6, хоч програвала 4:1. У другому сеті українка вела 4:0, коли суперниця вирішила припинити боротьбу.

У наступному колі Світоліна зіграє з іспанкою Гарбінє Мугурусою.

Сьогодні свій поєдинок у Дубаї проведе ще одна українка, Леся Цуренко.

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Indonesia Submits Bid to Host 2032 Olympics

Indonesia has submitted a bid to host the 2032 Olympics, the state news agency said on Tuesday, after winning praise for hosting last year’s Asian Games, though it could face competition from India and a joint bid by North and South Korea.

Indonesia’s ambassador to Switzerland submitted a letter from President Joko Widodo to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last week.

“The IOC has acknowledged Indonesia’s capabilities during the Asian Games and Asian Paragames of 2018,” the Antara news agency quoted Ambassador Muliaman D. Hadad as saying. “We feel that is a strong foundation.”

A senior official in the coordinating ministry for human development and culture, Gunawan, who goes by one name, confirmed the bid.

If Southeast Asia’s most populous nation wins the opportunity to host the summer Olympics, it would become the fourth Asian country to do so, after Japan, China and South Korea. The IOC will pick the 2032 host by the year 2025.

Tokyo is to host the next Summer Olympics in 2020, with Paris holding the 2024 Games and Los Angeles confirmed to host the event four years later.

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Pressure Grows on Europe to Back Venezuelan Opposition Leader

Pressure is growing on the European Union to formally back Venezuela’s opposition, after three EU lawmakers were refused entry into the country Sunday.

The Venezuelan government accused them of having “conspiratorial aims,” and forced them back on a plane to Madrid. The three had been invited by Venezuelan members of parliament to visit the country.

“[It was] very unpleasant and a pure demonstration that Venezuela is a country held hostage by a power that is almost like North Korea,” Esteban Gonzalez Pons, a senior member of the European Parliament, told reporters on his arrival in Madrid Monday.

The diplomatic snub has triggered calls for Brussels to take a stronger stand against the government of disputed President Nicholas Maduro. The United States and many allies have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, after accusations of vote rigging in last year’s election.

The EU lawmakers have demanded that the bloc now abandon the International Contact Group or ICG, an EU initiative among European states and four Latin American countries, that is seeking a political way forward in Venezuela. The group met in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, earlier this month.

Europe’s foreign policy chief rejected pulling out of the ICG Monday.

“On the contrary, all member states have reaffirmed how crucial it is to have this instrument, which is currently probably the only one that we can use, to be at the same time in contact with relevant stakeholders and clear on the objective, which is a democratic, peaceful, and early election outcome for the crisis,” Federica Mogherini said in a press conference.

At the Munich Security Conference Saturday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the European Union must recognize the American-backed interim president.

The Netherlands was among the EU member states that followed Washington’s lead. Foreign Minister Stef Blok spoke to VOA following Pence’s speech.

“Twenty-two European countries did recognize Guaido as the interim president. And of course I would have preferred to see the European Union united,” Blok said.

The EU, however, is divided. Spain, which retains the closest links to its former colony, rejected Washington’s demands.

“Mr. Pence can’t ask us to not accept the constitutional law of Venezuela,” Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, said at the Munich conference.

Borrell’s French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drain, is insisting on new elections.

“The only way out of the political crisis in Venezuela is a presidential election with democratic guarantees,” Le Drian said.

The Dutch government has agreed that its overseas territory of Curacao, an island off Venezuela, can be used as an aid hub.

“In order to get the aid toward Venezuela, we will need the consent of the Venezuelan authorities,” Blok told VOA.

As the diplomatic debate intensifies over how to end Venezuela’s political crisis, hundreds of tons of foreign aid remain stranded on the country’s borders — and the Venezuelan people continue to suffer.

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Seven British MPs Quit Labor Party Over Brexit, Anti-Semitism

Seven British lawmakers have quit the main opposition Labor Party over the leadership’s approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism allegations in the ranks.  

The seven moderate members of parliament say they will form an independent group. Their defection is the biggest split in the Labor Party since four senior members quit in 1981 to form the Social Democratic Party.  

The group told reporters in London’s County Hall Monday that the Labor Party has changed since leader Jeremy Corbyn came to power in 2015 and said the party no longer tolerates center-left views.

 “The bottom line is this — politics is broken. It doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s change it,” said Chuka Umunna, one of the lawmakers.  

Chris Leslie, another defector, said: “Marxism is now masquerading as the Labor Party. It has the Labor brand, but it is a machine that has taken over.”  

In a direct challenge to Corbyn, the seven centrist parliament members say they are courting other lawmakers to join their group.  

One of the group’s chief complaints is that the Labor Party has been complicit in facilitating Brexit. Corbyn has come under fire by some party members for not doing enough to oppose Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for leaving the EU and for not pushing hard enough for a second referendum.  

The Labor Party has been divided by the Brexit vote, with many traditional voters, particularly in northern England, having chosen to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum, while a majority of Labor MPs had supported staying in.

 Brexit has also divided the country’s Conservative Party into pro-Brexit and pro-EU wings. Britain’s departure from the EU — the terms of which are still up in the air — is set for March 29.

The seven lawmakers also accused Corbyn Monday of failing to tackle anti-Semitism in the party, a charge that has previously been leveled at the Labor leader.

A longtime supporter of Palestinian rights and a critic of the Israeli government, Corbyn denies the allegations, saying he is stamping out anti-Semitism in the party.

Luciana Berger, one of the seven MPs who defected, said Labor has become “institutionally anti-Semitic.” Berger, who is Jewish, said in leaving the Labor Party, “I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation.”

Corbyn said he was “disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labor policies that inspired millions at the last election and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945.”

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