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Hollywood writers strike over pay in streaming TV ‘gig economy’

LOS ANGELES, May 2 (Reuters) – Thousands of film and television writers were headed to picket lines on Tuesday after union negotiators called a strike, sending Hollywood into turmoil and disrupting TV production as the industry wrestles with the shift to streaming.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) said its leadership unanimously supported its first work stoppage in 15 years after failing to reach an agreement for higher pay from studios such as Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and Netflix Inc (NFLX.O).

“The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce,” said the WGA, which represents roughly 11,500 writers.

The strike hits Hollywood studios at a difficult time. Conglomerates are under pressure from Wall Street to make their streaming services profitable after pumping billions of dollars into programming to attract subscribers.

The rise of streaming has led to declining television ad revenue, as traditional TV audiences shrink and advertisers go elsewhere. The threat of a recession in the world’s biggest economy also looms.

The last WGA strike in 2007 and 2008 lasted 100 days. The action cost the California economy an estimated $2.1 billion as productions shut down and out-of-work writers, actors and producers cut back spending.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios, said it had proposed “generous increases in compensation,” and was willing to increase its offer.

But it said it objected to WGA demands that “would require a company to staff a show with a certain number of writers for a specified period of time, whether needed or not.”

Writers say they have suffered in the streaming TV boom with shorter seasons and smaller residual payments.

“Wow. This is scary,” Emmy-winning writer Ashley Nicole Black wrote on Twitter after the strike was called. “But a future where we accept what the companies are trying to do – low paid, freelancer writing gigs with no job security – is much scarier.”

For TV viewers, the strike’s first impact will be seen on late-night talk shows such as “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that count on teams of writers to pen topical jokes for programs recorded on the day they are broadcast.

Sunrise over the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California
Sunrise over the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Those shows are expected to immediately start airing re-runs.

“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, in an episode taped just hours before the strike was called, showed pictures of his writing staff on screen in a gesture of support.

“They’re so important to our show,” said Colbert, who also is a WGA member. “I think that the writers’ demands are not unreasonable.”

Other TV programming may be disrupted depending on how long the strike lasts.

Writers said they were willing to walk off the job because changes from streaming have made it difficult for many to earn a living in expensive cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

Half of TV series writers now work at minimum salary levels, compared with a third in the 2013-14 season, according to WGA statistics. Median pay for scribes at the higher writer/producer level has fallen 4% over the last decade.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another issue at the bargaining table.

The WGA wants safeguards to prevent studios from using AI to generate new scripts from writers’ previous work. Writers also want to ensure they are not asked to rewrite draft scripts created by AI.

With a potential strike looming, production already had ground to a halt in Los Angeles. Film LA, which issues permits for filming in Los Angeles, said it had no shoots for scripted shows scheduled for Tuesday or the rest of the week.

If the work stoppage becomes protracted, the networks will increasingly fill their programming lineups with unscripted reality shows, news magazines and reruns. It also could lead to a delay of the fall TV season. Writing for fall shows normally starts in May or June.

Netflix may be insulated from any immediate impact because of its global focus and access to production facilities outside of the United States.

Why is Zibo burning all over the mountains, south and sea?

“Zibo barbecue” is popular all over the country, which is incredible and amazing. I thought that Zibo produced the best ingredients in the world, made the most beautiful delicacies, and made diners all over the world satisfy their appetites, but it is not. Although Zibo has a good food base, there are no good food materials anywhere in the country. Why is Zibo so popular all over the country?

What the editor learned is that during the epidemic in 2022, tens of thousands of students from Shandong University were quarantined in Zibo. The local Ma Xiaolei treated college students kindly and invited them to barbecue. College students value righteousness and form a group to repay Ma Xiaolei and Zibo’s “barbecue love” at the beginning. The group barbecue was reported and became popular all over the Internet; Zibo BBQ”. A piece of goodwill, a piece of warmth, the land of etiquette, and the hospitality of Shandong have created a lot of stories in the world and a lot of money.

On April 30, a wall was built on the side of Hukou Waterfall in Yichuan County, Shaanxi Province. The local said it was to ensure the safety of tourists. There is also a temporary construction fence on the Shanxi side of Hukou Waterfall. This year’s May Day trip, the crowds are surging. Many people who can’t enter the scenic spot or don’t want to be crowded in the scenic spot want to see the magnificent soul of the nation, but they return disappointed. The excuse of blocking the beautiful scenery seems reasonable, but officials at all levels, have they ever thought about tourists?

One positive and one negative, it makes people feel emotional. In today’s era when people vote with their feet, what is missing is not the beautiful scenery, but the warmth, comfort, consideration and convenience for tourists. The flow of people means a comprehensive harvest of transportation, catering and accommodation tickets, which is related to the economy and the pockets of the people!

Once upon a time, the beautiful scenery of the West Lake was free of charge, and Hangzhou’s tourism economy was active; the snowy village was robbed of tourists, and finally there were no visitors; Sanya was expensive, and now tourists talk about it… High foresight and short-sightedness must arouse the vigilance of the rulers!

I heard that the competent authorities in Zibo imposed heavy penalties on the 1.5 times increase in catering services during the May Day holiday; the editor repeatedly applauded and wanted to go to Zibo to have a barbecue immediately and stay for another two days. I also hope that the enclosure of Hukou Waterfall will be removed as soon as possible.

Tom Hanks admits doubts over ‘Forrest Gump’ bus bench scenes

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump in one of the famous bench scenes.

Camouflaged figures lurking in the bush expose Australia’s angst over climate activists

The campsite outside Sydney where climate activists noticed camouflaged figures hiding on a nearby slope.

Climate activists were sharing toast and coffee at a private campsite in mountains outside Sydney last Sunday when someone noticed movement on a nearby slope.

A member of the group went to investigate and found two figures in full camouflage gear, who appeared to radio for help from a black car that sped to the site.
“We were genuinely confused about why these people were on the property,” said Zianna Fuad, a 29-year-old member of climate activist group Blockade Australia.
Video released by the activists shows several of them sitting on a car with deflated tires as an older woman yells expletives at the four occupants, including the two people dressed in camouflage.
“We thought that maybe they were right-wingers that were spying on us,” Fuad said.
People in camouflage sitting in a car surrounded by activists after being discovered on a private property near Sydney.

It turns out they were police.
New South Wales state police divulged that the camouflaged men were officers from Strike Force Guard, a special squad formed in March to “prevent, investigate and disrupt unauthorised protests,” particularly Blockade Australia’s divisive “week of resistance” that has already caused chaos in central Sydney and angered some road users.
During the Monday morning rush hour, protesters kizik shoes marched through the central business district, and one activist locked herself in a car, blocking access to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
The increased police surveillance of protesters is part of the state’s tough new approach to disruptive climate action that rights groups claim sets a “disturbing precedent for protest rights.”
After protests earlier this year, some climate activists were ordered not to leave their homes under strict bail conditions that could see them jailed if they step outside. Others were deported.
Sophie McNeill, Australia researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said climate protesters are being “disproportionately subjected to vindictive legal action by Australian authorities.”
NSW Police Minister Paul Toole said the protests were not peaceful nor authorized and would not be tolerated. “This disruptive, dangerous action is illegal and anyone who takes part will be arrested,” he said in a statement to CNN.
Video distributed by NSW Police shows climate activists in police custody at the campsite.

After last Sunday’s surveillance operation, 10 members of the protest group were charged with multiple offenses, including assaulting and obstructing a police officer, and destroying or damaging property.
Acting Assistant NSW Police Commissioner and Strike Force Guard Commander Paul Dunstan told reporters the officers involved “feared for their lives.”
Lawyer Mark Davis, who represents most of the defendants, said during court hearings several arrested activists were banned from contacting 15 people on a non-association list of climate activists compiled by police. Two were refused bail and at least one was banned from the state after being found to have nobull shoes breached her bail conditions by posting a smiley face on another group member’s Facebook page.
Relations between authorities and climate activists haven’t always been this fraught in Australia’s most populous state — the trouble really started last November, when Blockade Australia brought the world’s biggest coal port to a temporary halt.

Under house arrest

More than 166 million tonnes of cargo pass through the Port of Newcastle each year, including millions of tonnes of coal transported by rail from mines in the Hunter region.
But for 11 days in November 2021, activists from Blockade Australia disabled machinery and blocked rail lines leading to the port, 163 kilometers (101 miles) north of Sydney, on Australia’s eastern coast. Fuad said she and a fellow activist abseiled off a coal loader and for that they were banned from contacting each other for two years.
At the time, NSW’s then Police Minister David Elliott said disruptive action would not be tolerated, and in April, parliament approved tougher penalties, including two-year prison sentences and fines up of up 22,000 Australian dollars ($15,270) for illegal protests on roads, rail lines, tunnels, bridges and industrial estates.
Zianna Fuad (right) and another member of Blockade Australia abseiled off a coal loader at Newcastle in November 2021.

Before the law was passed, 39 civil society groups wrote an open letter calling the legislation an “unconscionable attack on protest rights.”
The signatories included the Human Rights Law Center and Greenpeace who, with the Environmental Defenders Office, previously published a report that found climate activists were “routinely receiving disproportionate and excessive penalties and bail conditions which restrict their freedom of association and assembly.”
Australia has a long record of climate inaction under the previous Liberal government that held power for nine years and was voted out during the federal election in May. It’s also faced multiple climate-related emergencies in recent years, including widespread flooding and record-setting bushfires.
The incoming Labor government has higher targets for emissions cuts but has refused to rule out new coal power stations. Australia’s wealth is linked to exports of coal and iron ore, and critics allege there are strong ties between government and the fossil fuel industry.
Climate activists say that bond needs to be disrupted with direct action, and they’re willing to risk their safety and freedom to do it.
But while Australians want more action on climate change, many have reacted angrily to Blockade Australia’s disruptive tactics. Davis, the lawyer, said the group was unpopular with the general public.
“The fact that they would dare block a road of course enrages people,” he said. “You shouldn’t be blocking roads, I understand that. But let’s not get hysterical about what that threat means, and why not have a bit of latitude for political expression.”
Violet Coco, from civil resistance group Fireproof Australia, spent 21 days under full house arrest after standing on a truck parked near Sydney Harbor Bridge, holding a flare, for 25 minutes in April as she explained the need for urgent climate action in a Facebook live broadcast.
Violet Coco livestreamed her message from the top of a truck blocking one lane of traffic on Sydney Harbour Bridge in April, 2022.

She was charged with seven offenses, including explosives charges for holding the flare, according to Human Rights Watch. She pleaded guilty to blocking traffic and disobeying a police order and was released on bail of 10,000 Australian dollars ($7,000) for the other charges with the condition she didn’t leave her apartment other than for medical emergencies and court appearances.
“Even during Covid we were allowed to go for an hour walk a day, and these bail conditions are harsher than repeat domestic violence offenders,” she said. “What are we doing giving those to peaceful protesters?”
Davis, the lawyer, said house arrest is normally reserved for violent offenders or those who pose a serious flight risk. “Bail is there to ensure you go back to court. It’s not there to punish you,” Davis said.
In May, Coco’s bail veja sneakers conditions were relaxed to allow the 31-year-old musician to leave her home between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. — times chosen so she doesn’t disrupt peak hour traffic, she said.
She’s now living in Lismore, a northern NSW city wiped out by flooding in March, where she’s helping a community group to rebuild houses. She said she plans to apply for her bail conditions to be further relaxed.
“This is stupid,” she said. “I’m living in Lismore. There is no peak hour traffic.”

Banned from the state

Three months ago, Alex Pearse, a 32-year-old environmental scientist from Brisbane, was hanging from an eight-meter pole over rail tracks in Port Botany, NSW’s largest container port, blocking the supply chain for nearly two hours.
NSW Police said in a statement at the time that “railway authorities were required to stop all freight trains traveling on the line.”
Pearse said railway authorities were warned of impending action: “We don’t take this action unless we’re 100% sure that there are not going to be trains running, and we have other systems in place to make sure that that is the case.”
When police finally got him down he was charged with four offenses including encouraging the commission of a crime, based on a Facebook live broadcast he filmed while suspended from the pole.
Alex Pearse is banned from entering New South Wales after suspending himself from a pole at Port Botany in March, 2022.

Pearse pleaded guilty to two of four charges and is banned from NSW while he awaits his next court appearance, with the condition that he checks in with Queensland police every second day. “They wanted to take away my passport and ban me from international airports,” he said, adding that the judge refused that request.
An environmental scientist, Pearse travels around Australia to monitor mangrove ecosystems and sees the damage caused by the climate crisis up close. His bail conditions have put a stop to that, and he has no idea when the court process will end.
“The level of surveillance and repression that is taking place on normal everyday people who just want to show that they are unhappy with the state’s response to climate change is unprecedented and frankly quite scary,” he said.
Environmental scientist Alex Pearse studies coastal ecosystems and joined protest activity to impress the need for climate action.

As both Coco and Pearse are banned from travel, they won’t be attending the “week of resistance” in Sydney. Nor will Arno, a 21-year-old German working holidaymaker who was deported after taking part in the Port Botany protest in March.
Arno, who is using an alias to protect his identity, arrived in Australia in November 2021 and was taking jobs on construction sites to finance his travels. He joined information sessions run by Blockade Australia and then on March 23 suspended himself from a pole attached to a bridge at the port, blocking traffic for three hours.
The next day, before his first court appearance, Arno’s visa was canceled at the discretion of the former Liberal Party Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who deemed him a “risk to the good order” of Australia — the same provision used to deport tennis player Novak Djokovic over his views on Covid-19 vaccinations.
According to the deportation notice, seen by CNN, Arno had attracted a “significant amount of press coverage and public interest at a critical juncture in the government’s management of particular climactic events, such as the current flooding emergency in Queensland and New South Wales.”
The minister added that he believed Arno’s involvement in the promotion of this week’s climate action in Sydney was “likely to cause further division within the community and feel extreme disharmony within the community on both sides of the climate change spectrum.”
Arno, a 21-year-old working holidaymaker from Germany, was deported after taking part in the Port Botany protest on March 23, 2022.

Arno said he spent a week in prison then four weeks in Villawood Immigration Detention Center before being sent back to Germany. His 23-year-old brother Tom, not his real name, was also deported for taking part in the protest and banned from entering Australia for three years. Now jobless, Arno is still trying to pay off thousands of dollars in Australian fines and deportation costs.
He says he doesn’t think tougher penalties in NSW will deter climate activists.
“People are really aware of what the consequences are for not acting and not resisting this extractive system,” he said. “And people also realize that this is the system protecting itself once again, prioritizing the profits of the wealthy 1% over the interests of the vast majority of the population.”
The climate emergency swayed votes at the last election, confirming views expressed in opinion polls that Australians want greater climate action. The election put more members of the Greens party, Australia’s most environmentally minded political group, in parliament, along with new teal Independents, who are arguing for an even faster transition to renewable energy than that promised by the Labor majority.
Newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has vowed to end the “climate wars” — the argument between left and right over the cost of both climate action and inaction — but so far disruptive climate protests have been a matter for the states.

System hardening against climate activists

NSW isn’t the only Australian state getting tough on climate activists. Tasmania is close to passing amendments to raise fines and impose longer prison sentences on protesters who obstruct businesses or cause “serious risk”. And Victoria is considering laws to target people protesting the logging of native forests.
The clampdown extends not only to people taking part in protests, but those involved in anything deemed associated with possible protest action — as was seen during last Sunday’s raid.
In a joint statement, 40 civil society organizations expressed alarm that NSW police had engaged in “preemptive policing” by putting the group under surveillance then sending in a helicopter, the dog squad, the riot squad and the raptor squad — among others — when the officers’ cover was blown.
“Sending in 100 armed police officers to threaten and intimidate people planning a peaceful protest is alarming and disproportionate,” Alice Drury, legal director of the Human Rights Law Center, said in the statement.
Climate activists from Blockade Australia blocked traffic during peak hour in Sydney Monday morning, June 27.

More than 250 police have been deployed in the greater Sydney region this week to prevent what they expect to be “considerable disruption.”
NSW Police arrested 10 people and asked for public help to identify others who took part. “Expect a knock on your door, we will be coming for you to be arrested,” said Dunstan, the acting assistant NSW Police commissioner.
“The behavior of this group was nothing short of criminal activity,” he added. “The throwing of bicycles the throwing of garbage bins, the throwing of other items in the path of police, in the path of media, in the path of innocent members of the public just walking by, will not be tolerated.”
Activists previously bailed risk jail if they go anywhere near the protest sites — or if they contact each other by any means.
Fuad, the activist, said they “really, really” don’t want to go to jail, but they claim they don’t have much of a choice. “I feel like we’re at a point now where we deeply need to escalate our response because we’re not being listened to.”
Blockade Australia doesn’t have a specific list of demands — they just want the government, corporations, and media to act in accordance with the scale of the climate emergency.
Fuad said their communities had suffered from the 2019-2020 bushfires that destroyed millions of hectares of land on the east coast, as well as the recent flooding in NSW and Queensland.
People hug after moving their belongings to a boat from a flooded home at Auchenflower on March 3, 2022.

What else is happening over the Jubilee weekend?

People walk along the Mall in London on June 1.
People walk along the Mall in London on June 1. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Buckingham Palace is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the Queen’s incredible reign. Here’s a rundown of the rest of the long weekend:

Friday, June 3

A thanksgiving service paying tribute to the Queen’s seven decades of service will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral, central London, with family members in attendance.

Saturday, June 4

Several royal family members are expected to head to Epsom Downs racecourse, in Surrey, southern England, in the afternoon for the 243rd edition of its famous horse race, the Derby. The Queen — a keen horse breeder — has been a regular spectator at the event and has even presented the famous trophy.

In the evening, a two-and-a-half hour “Platinum Party At The Palace” concert will see a star-studded line up perform in front of Buckingham Palace and around the famous Queen Victoria Memorial. Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys and Diana Ross are among the artists set to appear at the show, which will be broadcast live by the BBC.

Sunday, June 5

To cap off the celebrations people are being encouraged to organize street parties as part of the “Big Jubilee Lunch” initiative on Sunday. Community gatherings are set to take place across Britain, including flagship events in London and at Cornwall’s Eden Project. “Big Jubilee Lunches” have also been planned around the world.

The weekend’s finale is the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, in which artistic performers, dancers, musicians, military personnel, key workers and volunteers will unite to bring iconic moments from the Queen’s reign to life.

Although the Queen is not due to travel in it, the pageant will be led by the Gold State Carriage. Starting at 2:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. ET), the pageant will involve a “River of Hope” section that will comprise 200 silk flags parading down The Mall like a river and a who’s who of Britain’s most famous faces.

Liverpool books ticket to FA Cup final after 3-2 win over Manchester City

Liverpool booked its ticket to the FA Cup final in a nervy 3-2 win over Man City.

A rampant Liverpool advanced to the FA Cup final on Saturday, beating Manchester City 3-2 at a sunny Wembley stadium.

The deadlock was broken within the first 10 minutes when Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konaté rose highest to slam home a powerful header from a corner.
And the afternoon went from bad to worse for City when goalkeeper Zack Steffen wanted too much time on the ball, allowing salomon shoes Sadio Mané to slide in and dispossess the US international to double the lead.
And on the stroke of halftime, Liverpool’s lead was three as Mané rifled in at the near post, past a despairing Steffen.
Just went all seemed lost for City, Jack Grealish popped up with a goal minutes after the break to give his side hope, and Bernardo Silva tapped in from close range in the 90th minute to ensure a nervy ending.
But it wasn’t enough as Liverpool progressed to the final where it will face either Chelsea or Crystal Palace who face off on Sunday.
Mané told the BBC afterwards that the day was “special.”
“We were playing one of the best teams in the world. To win this kind of game, especially in a semifinal, is a big, big, big win,” he said.
“We were very pleased to win and qualify for the final. We started very well, everybody started on the front foot — for my first goal, the goalkeeper made a mistake, but I think we pushed him to make that mistake. That is our style and I think that made the difference.”
The finest do battle
Red and blue, resplendent in the London sun.
Two of the world’s best teams doing battle — a week after their last encounter — for a spot in the final of football’s oldest competition.
For neutrals, there couldn’t be a more perfect setting: a packed stadium, beautiful weather and some football’s stars on show.
And, like their thrilling 2-2 draw last Sunday, the game began at a red-hot pace.
With both popping the ball around with zip and verve, the first goal came through a more agricultural route.
Konaté scoring the opening goal of the FA Cup semifinal.

Liverpool defender Konaté continued his rich vein of goalscoring form as he powered home a header from his side’s opening corner of the game — his third goal in as many games.
The goal sent the Liverpool fans wild, and as City restarted play, the air was thick with the smell of flares, the sunlight tinged red as the Liverpool fans bounced in celebration.
The red end of Wembley birdies shoes was jumping with joy just eight minutes later.
As City tried to play out from defense as they typically do so well, Steffen — City’s cup goalkeeper — wanted just fractions too long on the ball, allowing Mané to slide in and tackle the ball home.
The moment bore striking similarities to their clash in the Premier League last week, when regular starter Ederson also dallied on the ball but was just able to nick the ball away in time ahead of the on-rushing attacker.
Sadio Mané takes advantage of a big mistake by City keeper Zack Steffen.

Shell-shocked by two goals, Manchester City finally was able to gain a foothold in the encounter, as the reigning Premier League champions pushed to get back in the game.
But that pressure left space which Mané was able to exploit to further extend Liverpool’s lead on the stroke of halftime.
Some intricate play between Liverpool’s attackers prized an opening ajar for the Senegal star to slam the ball home with Steffen given no chance.
Liverpool was rampant and probably did not want the halftime whistle to come when it did.
And with manager Pep Guardiola’s words ringing in its ears, City made a much-improved start to the second half.
England international Jack Grealish fired his finish into the top corner after some neat play from Gabriel Jesus opened up a shooting opportunity.
Grealish shoots and scores City's first goal during the English FA Cup semifinal against Liverpool on April 16, 2022.

The goal sparked the City players — and fans — into life after a poor opening 45 minutes, with their attacks looking much more threatening.
Jesus could have drawn City to within just a goal as his well-timed run had him through on goal, only for his Brazil teammate Alisson to deny him deftly.
Although Man City pushed, it was actually Liverpool who had the better of the chances, with Mohamed Salah unable to convert any of his attempts.
Just when all hope seemed lost, an excellent touch and run from substitute Riyad Mahrez left Silva with the easiest finish to leave City trailing birdies shoes by just one goal with four minutes of added time remaining.
Raheem Sterling had a chance to score against his old club and be the hero with one of the final touches of the game but could only shoot straight at Alisson.
And despite some chaotic scenes in the City box, Liverpool was able to hang on and advance to the final and ensure that a historic quadruple — the Premier League title, the Champions League, the FA Cup and the League Cup — is still possible.
So far, Liverpool has already won the League Cup title, is second in the Premier League — a point behind City — is into the Champions League semifinals and now is into the FA Cup final.
When asked about whether the quadruple is an aspiration of theirs, Mané said it was a “dream.”
“We have a lot of games to go and we will try to do our best — it’s our dream, for sure, and we will fight for it.”

Blinken announces US has delivered written responses to Russia over Ukraine crisis

The United States has given Moscow its written response aimed at deterring a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday.

Blinken said the US response to Russia “sets out a serious diplomatic path forward should Russia choose it,” telling reporters Wednesday that he expects to have a follow-up discussion with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the coming days now that the document has been received in Moscow.
The response was delivered in person to the hey dude Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan. The written document is intended to address concerns Moscow has publicly released and to outline areas where the US has said it sees potential for progress with Russia — arms control, transparency and stability, the top US diplomat told reporters at the State Department.
“The document we’ve delivered includes concerns of the United States and our allies and partners about Russia’s actions that undermine security, a principled and pragmatic evaluation of the concerns that Russia has raised, and our own proposals for areas where we may be able to find common ground,” Blinken said.
US and allies discussing deploying more troops to Eastern Europe prior to any Russian invasion of Ukraine
It’s not yet clear whether the latest diplomatic overture, which Moscow had sought, will change the course of talks between Russia and the West that have continued over the past several weeks. US officials have said that Russia has shown no signs of de-escalation and they have warned that an invasion could be imminent as Moscow masses tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border.
The US has repeatedly said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s central demand — that the US and NATO commit to never admitting Ukraine to the alliance — is simply a nonstarter. While Blinken declined to detail specifics presented to Moscow, he said the US response reiterated the West’s public response to uphold NATO’s “open-door policy” rejecting Moscow’s demands that NATO commit to never admitting Ukraine.
“There is no change. There will be no change,” Blinken said of US and NATO support of the alliance’s open-door policy.
“We make clear that there are core red wing boots principles that we are committed to uphold and defend, including Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the right of states to choose their own security arrangements and alliances,” he added.
The ball is now in Russia’s court, Blinken said Wednesday.
“I think there are important things to work with if Russia is serious about working. And that is up to President Putin. We’ll see how they respond,” he said.
‘Not a formal negotiating document’
President Joe Biden was “intimately involved” in the US written response to Moscow, Blinken said.
“We reviewed it with him repeatedly over the last weeks, just as we were getting, as you know, comments, input, ideas from allies and partners,” Blinken said in response to a question from CNN’s Kylie Atwood.
Blinken contended that the document, which was delivered Wednesday, is “not a formal negotiating document.”
“It’s not explicit proposals. It lays out the areas and some ideas of how we can together, if they’re serious, advance collective security,” he said.
Blinken underscored that the US response was “fully coordinated with Ukraine and our European allies and partners,” and a source familiar said Ukraine had received a copy of the US document.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak told CNN Wednesday that the US response was “the right strategy,” adding that Russia should take the opportunity to use diplomacy to “avoid a negative scenario.”
“The comprehensive, well-thought-out, factual, and well-argued response of the United States to Russia’s demands was coordinated with Ukraine and other European partners of America,” Podoliak said.
Blinken said the document had also been shared with Congress and that he was briefing congressional leaders.
He said the US would not release its document publicly, “because we think that diplomacy has the best chance to succeed if we provide space for confidential talks.”
“We hope and expect that Russia will have the same view and will take our proposal seriously,” Blinken said, adding, “there should be no doubt about our seriousness of purpose when it comes to diplomacy.”
However, US officials have acknowledged there is a high possibility that Russia publishes the full document after receiving it.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that it had received the response. “Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Alexander V. Grushko received US Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan at his request,” the ministry said in a statement.
NATO also sent a written response to Moscow’s security demands on Wednesday, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. The NATO proposal was sent in “parallel with the United States,” he said during a news conference in Brussels, Belgium.
Although the positions of Moscow and the alliance are “far apart,” the NATO chief outlined three main areas where NATO sees “room for progress.” He asked that Moscow and NATO reopen their “respective offices in Moscow and in Brussels.”
“We should also make full use of our existing military-to-military channels of communications, hoka shoes for women to promote transparency and reduce risks,” he said. “And look also into setting up a civilian hotline for emergency use.”
Still hopes for fueling diplomacy
US officials said they had decided to provide responses in writing — a demand Russia has made since it put written ideas forward in December — in an effort to fuel the diplomacy that the US hopes will deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We put these ideas forward because they have the potential, if negotiated in good faith, to enhance our security and that of our allies and partners while also addressing Russia’s stated concerns through reciprocal commitments,” Blinken said Wednesday.
“We’re open to dialogue. We prefer diplomacy and we’re prepared to move forward where there is the possibility of communication, cooperation, if Russia de-escalates its aggression toward Ukraine, stops the inflammatory rhetoric and approaches discussions about the future security in Europe in a spirit of reciprocity,” he said.
But some allies and experts are skeptical of how much emphasis should be put on this document from the US, as it is not expected to give room for negotiation on Russia’s key demands, and there is concern that Moscow will use the US response as a pretext to say diplomacy has failed.
The top US diplomat acknowledged that it “may well be right that Russia’s not serious about this at all.”
“But we have an obligation to test that proposition, to pursue the diplomatic path, to leave no diplomatic stone unturned, because for sure it’s far preferable to resolve these differences peacefully consistent with our principles than it would be to have renewed aggression, renewed conflict, and everything that will follow from that,” he said.
“But the point is we’re prepared either way,” Blinken said.

South Korea’s largest dairy company apologizes over a video advert implying women are cows

The video sparked outrage among some internet users.

Halo is pushing the boundaries for the first time in over a decade.

There’s a Halo that exists only in your imagination.

A dropship crash lands, and you’re the only survivor. You crawl out of the wreckage and stare toward the horizon of an alien landscape. In the distance, dozens of enemies search for your corpse. A banshee streaks ominously through the skies. Everything seems vast, unknowable.

But this version of Halo barely exists. It’s just a memory. Returning to the original Halo in 2021 is disappointing and strange. Like returning to your childhood home as an adult.

The years have made Halo, a game that once seemed impossibly huge, feel small.

It’s been two long decades since Halo: CE was first released. Plenty of time for it to become distorted in brooks shoes the memories of the millions who played it. In the years since, Halo has become as integral to culture as any video game you could name. The Master Chief is to Xbox as Mario is to Nintendo: A crystalized icon representative of not just the series he is part of, but Microsoft’s entire games division as a whole.

So when it comes to the release of Halo Infinite’s single-player campaign, the stakes are high. Halo Infinite is more than just another game in a storied franchise, it’s a game tasked with bringing Halo back its former glory. Nowadays the kids are playing Fortnite, they’re playing Valorant, Overwatch, Destiny, Apex Legends, Call of Duty, Battlefield.

At this point, Halo Infinite’s troubled development period is common knowledge. A revolving door of executive developers and creative directors, alongside a disastrous first gameplay reveal in 2020, resulted in multiple delays, leading many to lower expectations accordingly. But with Halo Infinite, lowered expectations aren’t gonna fly.

Halo Infinite can’t just be another Halo. It needs to be the Halo that exists in your imagination.

And incredibly, against all odds, it pretty much is.

Arrival on Halo


Halo Infinite’s grand leap comes in the form of its open world.

Anyone who played the original Halo will remember its second level, “Arrival on Halo.” Allowing players to approach three large-scale combat encounters in any order they chose, it was a showcase for the game’s ambition and scope. “Arrival on Halo” has become shorthand for the Halo that exists in your imagination. Open, alien, gigantic.

Halo Infinite’s open world is “Arrival on Halo” writ large; a space that fulfills its promise. After an opening sequence that essentially serves as a tutorial, players are tossed headlong into this world, allowing them to pursue a seemingly endless list of targets and objectives in any order they choose.

The easy analog is Breath of the Wild, a game famous for the freedoms it granted users. In some ways that comparison makes sense, but Halo clarks shoes uk Infinite has more in common with a game like Metal Gear Solid 5. Much like that game, Halo Infinite takes established gameplay loops designed for tighter, claustrophobic encounters and places them wholesale in dramatically upscaled environments. And much like MGS5, it somehow still manages to preserve the crafted feel of its predecessors in the process.

That’s mostly thanks to the universe itself, which refuses to sacrifice detail for scale. No matter where you are in Halo Infinite’s open world, everything feels designed for the player. There are no dud textures, no spaces where you shouldn’t be. On the contrary, the game has a knack for making you feel like you are always exactly where you should be.

Halo Infinite confidently provides players the space and time to bask in its universe and brilliantly evokes that otherworldly aesthetic of the original. Structures climb endlessly into gloriously rendered skyboxes. Enormous hexagonal pillars, like precisely carved carbon totems, are stacked side by side, stretching into the horizon. Supernatural, alien and strange.

The Great Journey

Halo Infinite’s ambitious open-world aspirations would almost certainly have collapsed if it wasn’t for the addition of the grappling hook.

Designed to make open-world movement more manageable, Halo Infinite’s grappling hook allows players to scale any mountain and reach literally any point in the world you can see. It’s hardly the most original innovation — plenty of video games have used similar features — but the execution of Halo Infinite’s grappling hook elevates not just traversal, but every single element of the game’s celebrated combat loop.

Your mileage may vary, but my grappling hook journey was legendary.

Halo Infinite’s grappling mechanic ties everything together seamlessly.At first it was a novelty that barely registered. I used it rarely, self-consciously, during tutorial circumstances designed specifically for its use. Later I’d stumble across scenarios where using it made sense. “Oh yeah,” I’d say, “I should use that grappling hook thing.”
Eventually I’d find myself experimenting. “I wonder if I can grapple hook weapons” or “what happens if I grapple hook enemies?” (Answer: You electrify them and careen toward them at high speed, giving you the chance to land an extremely cool-looking melee attack.)

Slowly each experiment became part of my Halo vocabulary, to the point where it was integral to every encounter. I’d use it to grab exploding barrels before lobbing them at the most explicitly dangerous enemies. I’d grapple hook to new angles to attack the elites on my flank. Or launch myself toward cover while waiting for my shield to recharge.

Unlike previous additions to the Halo sandbox, the grappling hook feels unobtrusive, hey dude shoes essential and seamless. In a strange sense it feels like it’s always been there and I can’t — not even for a second — imagine playing Halo Infinite without it.

Tip of the Spear

Maybe it was during Halo 4, but it could have been as far back as Halo 2. Either way, at some point on the timeline, the Halo series forgot what it was really about.

It was never about “The Banished” or “The Prophets” or “The Harbinger” or any of the increasingly meaningless sci-fi nouns used to drive players from point A to point B. No, Halo has always been about how good it feels to lob grenades into a horde of Grunts and outwit Elites hellbent on grinding your bones to dust.

And while Halo Infinite is stubbornly committed to unraveling the increasingly dense threads of its bloated lore, it has carefully preserved — and elevated — the core combat that makes Halo such a continuous joy to engage with.

Halo 4 and 5 played loose and fast with the game’s legendary sandbox, but Halo Infinite treats it with more reverence. It’s almost nebulous to say, but Halo Infinite feels like Halo. The combat is stripped back and lean, but expanded in ways that make sense. The grappling hook is a huge part of that.

Halo’s core combat loops are preserved, but improved upon in the best possible ways.

Above all it feels considered. And it’s buoyed by a delicate sense of pacing. If you tire of exploring Halo Infinite’s open world, laying waste to enemy camps and blowing up silos, story-driven missions provide the timely salve of more linear encounters, deep inside the world’s alien structures.

These single-player missions come replete with some of the game’s most spectacular set pieces and dramatic boss fights, which had my heart exploding out my chest. On higher difficulty levels (I played on Heroic), I suspect a few of these could frustrate players, but anyone familiar with Destiny or Dark Souls boss battles will know what to expect.

Halo Infinite is far from perfect. Cooperative play — not available on day one but reportedly being worked on for a 2022 update — is notoriously absent. Given how integral co-op has always been to the Halo series, that’s a sizable issue I suspect many won’t be able to ignore.

Loading screens, when they appear, feel obtrusive, and pacing issues emerge in the final quarter. Mainly because Halo Infinite removes you from its open world for far too long as it builds momentum towards its conclusion. Placed in claustrophobic, tense battles for hours, I found myself gasping for the open air of Halo Infinite’s surface.

It’s in these situations that Halo Infinite leans on its perfectly crafted gunplay loops like a crutch. Even in moments of peak frustration, where you absolutely do not want to be clearing out yet another goddamn corridor packed with Grunts, Halo Infinite still works because of how polished every weapon feels to fire.


Halo Infinite stands tall among the very best of Halo.

Given the slow burn recession the series has experienced over the past decade, it’s impossible to read Halo Infinite as anything other than a shocking return to form.

Halo Infinite is a very special video game.

As the credits rolled, I started to consider where I’d place hoka shoes this version of Halo in my list. Where did it belong among the classics of yesteryear? Top three? Probably. I hadn’t even had that thought since, I don’t know… Halo Reach? A game that was released in 2010, over 11 years ago.

But it was a fleeting thought. I stared at the screen and checked my phone for the time: 2 a.m. I’d been playing for hours at this point. The credits wrapped, and Halo Infinite placed me back in its open world. Normally this would feel like a good time to sign off, but I couldn’t. I had side quests to complete. This fight wasn’t gonna finish itself.

Common and Tiffany Haddish break up after over a year of dating

Common and Tiffany Haddish are leaving their romance in 2021.

The couple has broken hoka shoes up after more than a year of dating, People reported Monday.

“They are never in the same city together and both of them are just too busy for a serious relationship,” a source told the publication.

Reps for the couple didn’t immediately return Page Six’s request for comment.

The “Girls Trip” star, 41, confirmed her romance with the rapper and actor, 49, in August 2020 while appearing on Steve-O’s podcast “Wild Ride,” calling it “the best relationship I’ve ever been in.”

“Knock on wood! I’ve lost 20 pounds since I’ve been in this relationship,” she added. “I feel more confident in me and it’s not him that’s doing it. I’m just way happier and it’s like knowing I got somebody that cares about me, that really has my back. It seems like he does anyways. And I love it. I love him.”

Prior to Haddish’s confirmation, fans had speculated for months that the pair were an item. Eyebrows hey dude were then raised when they signed a deal with dating app Bumble to promote virtual dating during the pandemic.

But the “Glory” rapper attempted to dispel rumbles of Bumble BS by publicly gushing about her.

Common and Tiffany Haddish

The now-former couple got together after a Bumble date.

“We’re doing wonderful. She’s a really incredible human being, and the more I get to know her, I just see how dynamic she is as a person,” he said on the “The Karen Hunter Show” in November 2020. How intelligent, how selfless she is, dr martens boots how she stands up in Hollywood for black women. I’m learning. You know what I mean?”

The former couple first met in 2019 on the set of “The Kitchen,” but didn’t start dating until 2020.