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Thread: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

  1. #346
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    ruin-therapy & covid

    Urine cures COVID, Christopher Key, recently arrested Alabama anti-vaxxer, falsely claims
    Updated: Jan. 10, 2022, 3:16 p.m. | Published: Jan. 10, 2022, 3:16 p.m.

    Christopher Key, of Futondale, is an outspoken anti-vaxxer.

    By Tandra Smith | tsmith@al.com and Carol Robinson | crobinson@al.com
    An Alabama anti-vaxxer recently arrested in Jefferson County is touting urine as a cure for COVID-19.

    Christopher Key is the founder of “Vaccine Police,” a website that gathers anti-vax news across the internet.

    Key posted a video to his Telegram account over the weekend, according to The Daily Beast, saying that the urine cure has been around for centuries.

    There is no scientific evidence to support Key’s claim.

    “The antidote that we have seen now, and we have tons and tons of research, is urine therapy,” Key said in the video. “I know to a lot of you this sounds crazy, but guys, God’s given us everything we need.”

    Key added that the vaccine is the worst bioweapon he’s ever seen. There is no scientific evidence indicating the COVID vaccines pose any health risk.

    “Now drink urine! I drink my own urine!” Key said in the video.

    The video came on the heels of his arrest after a recent court appearance.

    Key appeared in front of Jefferson County District Judge Katrina Ross on Jan. 4 for an incident that happened last April.

    Key was inside of the Whole Foods in Cahaba Village Plaza on U.S. 280 and refused to wear a mask.

    Key was eventually asked to leave by the staff and after refusing to do so, was arrested and charged with third-degree trespassing.

    A similar situation played out inside of the courtroom on Jan. 4, when he was asked to both wear a mask and stop recording inside of the courtroom.

    In the video, which can be seen on his Twitter account and on his website vaccine-police.com, Key said that he had a medical/religious exemption to wearing a mask and that it was his right to record his own court proceedings.

    Judge Ross eventually ordered Key be taken into custody.

    “Defendant was advised several times to put on a mask if he wished to address the court and to turn his camera off,” Ross stated in her order. “Due to his failure to comply with the Orders of this Court, his bond is revoked.”

    Key was booked into the Jefferson County Jail on Jan. 4 at 2:12 p.m and released on bond at 4:24 p.m. Jan. 5.

    Following his release, Key posted a video to his Twitter account, thanking his followers for their support while he was behind bars.

    In August, Key made news in Missouri after saying Walmart pharmacy workers could face execution for administering the COVID vaccine.

    In a 30-minute video posted to Facebook live, Key went to the Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, to spread his anti-vaccine message.

    Key was also mentioned in a letter issued by the National School Boards Association that asked federal law enforcement for help policing threats against school officials.

    The letter documented more than 20 instances of threatening behavior across the country and referenced Key, who has protested central Alabama school board meetings.

    The Alabama Association of School Boards cut ties with a national group two months after the letter was sent.

    Key is not the only Alabamian who has been in the news for their anti-vax beliefs.

    A couple known as the “Alabama Pickers” died in September of last year after being outspoken on their beliefs for months.

    A few months earlier, a Pell City man thought COVID was a hoax until he died of it.

    The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 61,234 new cases last week, nearly doubling the previous high.
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  2. #347
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    Free test kits for US citizens

    Four per household - https://special.usps.com/testkits
    Gene Ching
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  3. #348
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    The Maskalorian

    Gene Ching
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  4. #349
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    Postponed

    Hong Kong Film Festival Delayed Due to Omicron Surge
    The decision came as little surprise as Hong Kong continues to weather its worst infection surge of the pandemic.

    BY PATRICK BRZESKI

    FEBRUARY 23, 2022 12:53AM

    Hong Kong GETTY IMAGES

    The Hong Kong International Film Festival, scheduled to have kicked off on the last day of March, has been indefinitely postponed due to an ongoing wave of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

    The decision comes as little surprise given the severity of the city’s current infection surge. Since Feb. 15, Hong Kong has reported about 5,000 new daily infections, with cases threatening to overwhelm local healthcare and quarantine facilities.

    On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s chief executive said that the government would require the city’s entire population of nearly 7.5 million people to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing in March. Local cinemas have been shuttered since early January, and city officials said earlier this week that social distancing measures would be extended until April 20.

    Hong Kong’s government, acting under ever-growing deference to mainland Chinese policy, have held fast to Beijing’s “COVID zero” policy of total elimination of the virus. Although Hong Kong had great success in managing the early phases of the pandemic, the high transmissibility of the omicron variant has resulted in spiraling caseloads since the start of 2021.

    The city’s mandatory three-week quarantine policy for all inbound travelers already had assured that this year’s film festival would have been an entirely local affair. Hong Kong Filmart, the influential international content rights market that typically runs in tandem with the festival, opted months ago to take place as an entirely virtual conference this year. The online-only Filmart will carry on with its planned dates of March 14-17, according to organizers.

    The Hong Kong film festival was scrapped in 2020 because of the first phases of the pandemic, and last year it took a hybrid online-offline form. With Hong Kong tethered to China’s “COVID zero” policy, many local industry figures believe it could be years before the festival is again able to invite the world to its screenings.
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  5. #350
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    slippage

    Mar 13, 2022 8:28pm PT
    China Box Office Slips to Lowest Weekend of the Year as COVID Resurfaces


    By Patrick Frater

    ©Raymond Depardon / Magnum Photo
    Mainland China’s theatrical box office slipped to its lowest weekend total of the year as the market suffered a combination of rising COVID cases and a lack of new releases.

    Nationwide box office between Friday and Sunday amounted to just $19.2 million, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway. It was the fifth weekend of decline since the splashy opening of eight major titles on Feb. 1 for the Lunar New Year holidays.

    “The Battle at Lake Changjin II,” which dominated proceedings at New Year, remained at the top of the chart for the sixth consecutive weekend. It earned a lowly $4.6 million over three days for a cumulative total of $635 million.

    Recent days have witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases in China that has caused the return of restrictions in major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen as well as epicenters Jilin and Changchun in the Northeast.

    On Sunday, mainland authorities reported a total of 3,100 new locally transmitted cases of the disease in people who have symptoms and those who do not (China’s official count does not include asymptomatic cases as confirmed) and started to allow the results of rapid antigen tests in its data set. These are the highest daily figures in China in two years.

    China is operating a zero-COVID policy which entails largely closed borders, mass vaccination and localized lockdowns. Mainland China has reported 112,000 infections since the beginning of the outbreak in January 2020 and 4,635 deaths. Some 1.24 billion people have received at least one vaccination shot.

    It has been reported locally that some cinemas in Shanghai and Shenzhen were closed in response to the latest spikes. But a nationwide closure of movie theaters, like the five and a half month disruption in 2020, has so far been avoided.

    Another factor in the slumping box office is likely to be a continuing shortage of major new films. The weekend’s highest new entry was the fourth-placed “Do You Love Me As I Love You?”. The film is a Taiwan-produced romance that released in other Chinese-speaking parts of Asia in the third quarter of 2020.

    Monday sees the release in China of “Uncharted,” timed to give it a shot at the one day Qingming festival. And, if COVID conditions do not cause widespread cinema closures, Friday will see the release of “The Batman.”

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  6. #351
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    PRC cinemas closing again...

    Maybe The Batman won't dethrone TB@LC2...

    ‘The Batman’ Headed for Weak China Opening Amid COVID Outbreak, Cinema Closures
    Amid fraught geopolitics and virus-related release challenges, Hollywood studio films are earning a fraction of past China grosses.

    BY PATRICK BRZESKI, KAREN CHU
    MARCH 15, 2022 8:27PM

    The Batman COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES™ & DC COMICS
    Hollywood can’t seem to catch a break in China lately. Just as U.S. studio tentpoles were beginning to return to the country at scale, a COVID outbreak spanning two thirds of China’s provinces is shuttering cinemas and casting a pall over local consumer activity all over again.

    Approximately 30 percent of all Chinese movie theaters have been temporarily closed over the past week, according to exhibition industry consultancy Artisan Gateway. The regions hardest hit include major population centers like Shanghai and Shenzhen.

    Locally transmitted COVID cases rose on Tuesday by more than 5,000 new infections nationwide. While low by Western standards, the current outbreak represents China’s largest caseload since the pandemic first emerged in Wuhan in 2020. Local officials are scrambling to maintain their “COVID zero” policy of total eradication of the virus, resorting to their usual playbook of mass mandatory testing and the total shutdown of cities comprising tens of millions of residents.

    If Beijing leaders fail to get a handle on the infection surge soon, economists warn that China’s growing response could result in major supply chain snarls in the world’s manufacturing base, further jeopardizing the global economic recovery.

    Within the movie sector, box office analysts had been looking forward to the China release of Warner Bros’ The Batman on Friday for some indication of the country’s current appetite for U.S. superhero fare. A source close to the film, however, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the latest tracking suggests an opening of just $15 million to $20 million, down from earlier projections in the $25 million to $30 million range.

    “Our optimistic assessment is that Warners will be lucky if The Batman opens above RMB 100 million ($15.7 million),” adds James Li, co-founder of Beijing-based film industry market research firm Fanink, which has been tracking the title. “On the pessimistic side, they may be lucky to get half that,” he says. “There are four tier-one cities in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen), and these are the major markets where moviegoers tend to be the most pro-Hollywood — and half of them are currently shut down.”

    Domestically, The Batman has earned $245 million, with the worldwide total sitting at about $472 million.

    Director Matt Reeves’ take on Gotham’s dark knight is somber in tone and runs nearly three hours long, hence the rather modest original sales expectations. But the film will be the first U.S. superhero movie to open in China in nearly a year and half, after local regulators passed on the release of the last five Marvel tentpoles (Black Widow, Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home) due to suspected political reasons. Hopes were high that The Batman might give the studios some hint of their former glory in the massive China market.

    Sony and Tom Holland’s Uncharted is similarly struggling in China amid the theater closures and diminished interest in U.S. moviemaking. The action adventure film has earned $114 million in North America and $302 million worldwide so far. But it has brought in just $4.5 million in China since its opening on Monday and local ticketing app Maoyan projects it to finish locally with just $13.2 million.

    Chinese consumers’ declining enthusiasm for U.S. moviemaking is becoming increasingly unmistakable. After a decade of pulling in enormous blockbuster grosses from China, the only Hollywood films to earn over $100 million in the country in the past two years plus were Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla Versus Kong and Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga. Meanwhile, more than 20 Chinese titles have sailed past the $100 million mark during that same period, and the very biggest local blockbusters have earned more than $500 million a piece.

    Other upcoming Hollywood titles headed to China in the weeks ahead include Roland Emmerich’s disaster action film Moonfall (March 25), Sony’s animation sequel Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (April 3) and Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (April 8).

    “Over the past two years, the Hollywood brand has definitely taken a hit in China — for a variety of reasons related to supply, the actions of authorities and local market dynamics,” says Li. “It’s going to take some time and strong marketing effort to re-engage Chinese consumers around the Hollywood brand.”

    There is some concern in the mainland Chinese industry that the plight of neighboring Hong Kong could foreshadow what’s to come if health officials aren’t able to tamp down the current COVID outbreak soon.

    The omicron variant arrived in Hong Kong near the start of the year and local cinemas were closed on January 7 as infection caseloads skyrocketed. The suspension came on the heels of a strong box-office recovery in the semi-autonomous city, with Spider-Man: No Way Home taking more than $14 million in just two weeks in December 2021. A month after cinemas were ordered to suspend business, two major multiplexes – Broadway Hollywood and Cinema City Victoria – announced their permanent closure as their leases ended. Although the box office returns in Hong Kong in 2021 showed 125 percent growth compared to 2020, from $69 million to $155 million in total sales, the latest outbreak has decimated the local exhibition business. The theater industry missed out on the lucrative Lunar New Year holiday season in February, and the Hong Kong releases of West Side Story, Death on the Nile and The Batman, originally scheduled for January, February and March 2022, respectively, were all scrapped. The local government has indicated that reopening theaters won’t be considered until at least April 20.

    Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.
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  7. #352
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    A brigade of Black Knights

    Wow. Just when you think you've heard everything...

    Arrested martial arts duo planned to ‘build an army,’ Hong Kong national security police say
    The pair, who were arrested last Sunday, were accused of preparing for “revolution” by Steve Li of the National Security Department.

    by CANDICE CHAU
    19:35, 22 MARCH 2022

    A 59-year-old combat coach and his 62-year-old female assistant arrested last Sunday under the colonial-era sedition law were planning to “build an army,” according to Hong Kong police. Weapons – including crossbows, swords, bows and arrows, and air guns – were found at locations in Tsim Sha Tsui, Sha Tin, and Ma On Shan during the investigation.

    Senior Superintendent Steve Li of the National Security Department said on Tuesday that, since March 2020, multiple allegedly seditious articles have been published on the Facebook page of a training centre used by the pair. However, the police did not indicate whether they had published the posts.


    Senior Superintendent of the National Security Police Department Steve Li in an online press conference held on March 22, 2022. Photo: Hong Kong Police, via video screenshot.

    According to Li, the posts involved inciting others to use force to overturn the regime, and inviting netizens to practise martial arts “in preparation for a future revolution and resisting the regime.”

    “For example, some of the posts read ‘Hong Kong people keep it up, establish a shadow government and self defence forces to demand repayment from communist bandits, overturn the Communist Party with a revolution using force,'” said Li.

    Some posts published in late February were also suspected of inciting others to resist the government’s Covid-19 policies, such as claiming that the vaccines would create harmful toxins.


    Weapons confiscated by the police during the searches in Tsim Sha Tsui, Sha Tin, and Ma On Shan. Photo: Hong Kong Police, via video screenshot.

    Apart from weapons, police also found cash, most of it in foreign currencies, amounting to HK$380,000, as well as leaflets and posters.

    The pair will appear at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday afternoon.

    Possible national security offence
    The senior superintendent also said that the pair’s alleged offences “far superseded seditious acts,” and that the police force was discussing with the Department of Justice about adding charges under the national security law.

    “For example, we can see that the target is clear, emphasising on building an army, a brigade of black knights, supporting Hong Kong independence, targeting the regime of the People’s Republic of China and the SAR government,” said Li.


    Cash and leaflets confiscated by the police during searches conducted in Tsim Sha Tsui, Sha Tin and Ma On Shan. Photo: Hong Kong Police, via video screenshot.

    The anti-sedition law, which falls under the city’s Crime Ordinance, is different from the Beijing-imposed national security law.

    Last amended in the 1970s when Hong Kong was still under British rule, the sedition legislation outlaws incitement to violence, disaffection and other offences against the British Crown.

    The national security law, implemented in June 2020, criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

    The police also fined four people present at the arrest of the pair for violating the two-person Covid-19 group gathering limit. Li said that the police will also investigate whether participants of martial arts classes also took part in illegal activities.
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  8. #353
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    Robotic dog equipped with a loudspeaker broadcasts anti-pandemic measures in China

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  9. #354
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    Dumbledore

    China Box Office: ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’ Opens to $10M Amid Mass Cinema Shutdowns
    Approximately 54 percent of Chinese movie theaters are currently closed as the country battles local COVID outbreaks.

    BY PATRICK BRZESKI

    APRIL 10, 2022 10:41PM

    COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

    Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore cruised to an easy win during its opening weekend in China, but the prize was smaller than usual.

    The Harry Potter spinoff sequel earned just $9.7 million, according to data from Artisan Gateway. Thanks to ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, an estimated 54 percent of China’s cinemas are currently closed.

    The first Fantastic Beasts film opened to $40.4 million in China in 2016, and the sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, debuted to $36.6 million in 2018.

    Social scores for the Secrets of Dumbledore were solid, if unexceptional: 8.7 on Maoyan, 8.7 from Alibaba’s Taopiaopiao and 6.7 on Douban.

    The film performed somewhat better on Imax, earning $1.5 million in the giant-screen format, or 15 percent of its nationwide total. Dumbledore played on 360 Imax screens, roughly half of Imax’s usual outlay.

    In recent months and years, Hollywood titles have been earning conspicuously less than they once did in China, but the current COVID closures make it difficult to assess whether the general trend of waning local enthusiasm for U.S. movies was also a factor in Dumbledore’s lackluster opening.

    Sony’s animated sequel Hotel Transylvania 4 earned just $1.4 million in its second weekend for a running total of $6.2 million. Hotel Transylvania 3 (2018) earned $32.2 million in China.

    Other U.S.-made titles added similarly tiny sums. Escape Room 2, in cinemas for its second weekend, added $940,000, taking its total to $5.2 million. Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall, which was co-financed by Chinese studio Huayi Brothers Media, added $900,000. The film has earned $19.4 million since its local release late last month — slightly better than its $19.1 million North American total.
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  10. #355
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    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

    Kenneth Tsang, Hong Kong Actor With Such Hollywood Credits as ‘Rush Hour 2,’ Dies at 86 in COVID Quarantine Hotel
    The veteran leading man appeared in dozens of Hong Kong films, as well as Hollywood hits like 'Rush Hour 2' and James Bond film 'Die Another Day.'

    BY PATRICK BRZESKI


    APRIL 27, 2022 3:41AM
    Hong Kong COURTESY OF HONG KONG


    Veteran Hong Kong actor Kenneth Tsang, whose screen career spanned over 50 years, was found dead Wednesday at a hotel in Hong Kong where he was undergoing the city’s mandatory travel quarantine for COVID-19. He was 86.

    The actor was quarantining at a hotel in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district after returning from a trip to Singapore, according to the South China Morning Post, which cited a local government source. Tsang was discovered unconscious in his hotel room after knocks on his door by health care workers conducting daily checks went unanswered. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The newspaper’s source said Tsang had tested negative for COVID on Tuesday.

    Tsang’s screen career began when he was just a teenager, with appearances in The Feud (1955) and Who Isn’t Romantic? (1956). By the 1960s, he was a regular leading man, starring in a variety of detective films and classic kung fu movies. Later prominent roles included parts in John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow (1986) and A Better Tomorrow 2 (1987), as well as opposite Chow Yun-fat and Leslie Cheung in Once a Thief (1991). He then made his Hollywood debut in Chow Tun-fat’s The Replacement Killers (1998), going on to act in Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour 2 and the James Bond film Die Another Day (2002), along with many other Hong Kong and U.S. movies.

    Hong Kong currently requires all travelers from overseas to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine at a designated hotel at their own expense. On Wednesday, the city reported 430 new Covid-19 infections, up 83 from the day before, with eight deaths attributed to the virus.
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  11. #356
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    Cannes sans Chine

    May 17, 2022 8:00pm PT
    India Takes Over the Cannes Market as Chinese Executives Are Stuck at Home

    By Naman Ramachandran, Patrick Frater

    L'Oreal

    India is the country of honor at the Cannes Film Market and consequently a massive contingent from the country is descending upon the Croisette. Variety understands that some 400 attendees are winging their way from India, and that French embassies across the country were working at capacity to issue visas.

    That stands in contrast with the attendance from other parts of Asia, further East. Attendance of participants from Hong Kong and China is massively down compared with pre-COVID times. Korean companies are back in respectable numbers, with some attending a physical market outside their home country for the first time in over two years. The solid attendance of Korean executives also reflects the selection of Korean films across multiple sections of the festival.

    “I’m very excited to be back in Cannes, it has been three years for us,” said Danny Lee, senior manager at Contents Panda, part of the Next Entertainment World studio. “There are many Korean buyers here too.”

    The government-mandated travel restrictions that persist in Hong Kong (compulsory quarantine is down to a week now, having previously been 21 days, but the government maintains an aggressive approach towards airlines that carry passengers later found to be COVID positive) mean that flight conditions and the ability to return home are simply too uncertain for many.

    That in turn deprives the Cannes Market of executives from what was previously the hub of Asian sales and film finance — even if that role has been somewhat eroded by the increasing maturity of the mainland Chinese film industry and the prominence of the Korean industry.

    Hong Kong companies including Golden Network and Good Move Media are not attending, and will instead attempt to launch films and maintain business relations remotely. Others, including Edko Films and Media Asia, are making the effort and will be present.

    “We have a big-budget film ‘Kowloon Walled City’ to sell. Given how difficult it is currently to pre-sell Asian films, we need to talk to people in person,” said Fred Tsui, GM, head of sales and international co-production at Media Asia.

    China has limited in- and out-bound travel for months, as it seeks to achieve a COVID-zero policy through lockdowns, mass testing and border controls. This week it imposed its most stringent travel restrictions for decades, banning all but essential overseas travel.

    That leaves Cannes without the mainland Chinese companies which, in pre-COVID years, had regularly grabbed headlines. They were not necessarily volume buyers, but were previously involved in large package deals and big-budget co-productions. Other Chinese firms were looking to invest in international IP that could be exploited across multiple media.

    The COVID era, however, has coincided with a more generalized slowdown of the Chinese film market and a politically directed retrenchment towards local content. That makes it difficult to quantify China’s loss to Cannes.

    But, it is perhaps more than symbolic that Wednesday’s Cannes Market opening party, is this year sponsored by India. China had been its sponsor for several years.

    Anurag Thakur, India’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting, will inaugurate the Indian Pavilion in the presence of actor R. Madhavan, whose directorial debut “Rocketry” is premiering at the market; filmmaker Shekhar Kapur; Prasoon Joshi and Vani Tripathi from the Central Board of Film Certification; Grammy-winner Ricky Kej; and a plethora of actors including Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Pooja Hegde, Tamannaah Bhatia and Aditi Rao Hydari.

    Bollywood A-lister Akshay Kumar was due to be at the pavilion inauguration, but contracted COVID.

    India will be prominently visible throughout the festival this year. Actor Deepika Padukone is on the jury for the main feature film competition. Oscar-winner A.R. Rahman’s directorial debut, “Le Musk,” is premiering at the market’s Cannes XR program. Indian filmmaker Shaunak Sen’s Sundance grand jury prize winning documentary “All That Breathes” is showing as a special screening. And Indian auteur Satyajit Ray’s “The Adversary” (1970) and Aravindan Govindan’s “The Circus Tent” will be screened at the festival’s Cannes Classics strand.

    TV star Helly Shah will walk the red carpet for L’Oreal and also promote her film debut “Kaya Palat.” Multihyphenate Kamal Haasan will be present to promote his new film “Vikram.” There will be plenty of first looks unveiled, including for Shyam Benegal’s “Mujib: The Making of a Nation,” the biopic of late Bangladeshi leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, for which top Bangladeshi star Nusrat Imrose Tisha is expected alongside her filmmaker partner Mostofa Sarwar Farooki. Bangladeshi director/producer Abu Shahed Emon is also due at Cannes. First looks are also being unveiled for Pushan Kripalani’s “Goldfish” and Sandeep Singh’s “Safed.”

    “When you are a country of honor at the world’s largest film market you are on the radar of the Western world — it could be because of your creativity and international appeal, or maybe because of business potential and mass audience reach. We seem to be better-known for the latter,” said Samir Sarkar, who is co-producing Cannes’ La Fabrique project selection “Starfruits” via his Indo-Singaporean outfit Magic Hour Films.

    “As far as our creativity and international appeal goes, it’s time we nurture and support those filmmakers that can take Indian cinema into something more meaningful and successful for world audiences,” Sarkar added.

    From Pakistan, Saim Sadiq’s feature debut “Joyland,” produced, among others, by Indian-origin Apoorva Guru Charan, is premiering at the festival’s Un Certain Regard strand.
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  12. #357
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    The pandemic is NOT over...

    I just tested positive last Friday.

    Shanghai Film Festival Scrapped in Response to China’s COVID Flare-ups
    Shanghai's two-month quarantine was lifted June 1, but already public health officials are warning of a rebound in infections in some city districts.

    BY PATRICK BRZESKI

    JUNE 6, 2022 12:08AM

    Shanghai KEVIN FRAYER/GETTY IMAGES

    It’s official: The 25th Shanghai International Film Festival is canceled.

    Organizers confirmed Monday what industry figures had long anticipated — that China’s largest and most respected cinema event would not go forward this year due to ongoing Omicron outbreaks in the country and Beijing’s strict “COVID zero” policy.

    The Shanghai festival is typically held mid-June, but organizers had remained mum on the event’s fate throughout the city’s recent two-month lockdown. Festival officials put out a brief statement Monday afternoon saying the event was formally postponed until 2023. The decision marks the third year of abnormal operation for China’s longest-running cinema event.

    “Due to the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Shanghai International Film Festival Organizing Committee has decided that the 25th Shanghai International Film Festival, originally scheduled to be held in June 2022, will be postponed to next year,” organizers said.

    In 2020, the festival moved its dates from June to August after cinemas were shuttered for the first half of the year as China responded to the early phases of the novel coronavirus pandemic. By the summer of 2021, life in China had mostly returned to normal, as local public health efforts mostly eradicated the virus within China’s borders. The festival proceeded during its normal June window, but strict restrictions on inbound travel ensured that the event was almost entirely a local affair, with virtually no international participants or guests. Today, Shanghai’s plight is indicative of China’s overall: While most international festivals, such as the recently concluded Cannes Film Festival, have learned to operate as usual amidst the virus, thanks to high vaccination and former infection rates, China’s film industry remains hampered by an aggressive zero-tolerance policy.

    Festival organizers added that if health conditions in China improve in the latter half of the year, they will consider mounting the festival sometime in the fall or early winter. “We would hereby like to express our heartfelt thanks and sincere apologies to people from all walks of life who care and support the Shanghai International Film Festival,” they said. “If conditions permit, we will plan and hold relevant film festivals and themed events in the second half of this year.”

    Shanghai’s citywide, two-month COVID lockdown was lifted June 1, sparking celebrations in the city’s streets and public parks. Movie theaters remained closed, however, and recent mass testing already has indicated a slight rebound in infection rates in some areas of the city. On June 3, multiple districts were placed back under lockdown, and over 2 million residents remained confined to their homes.
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    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  13. #358
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    Ninja Covid

    This New ‘Ninja’ COVID Variant Is the Most Dangerous One Yet
    STEALTH MODE
    The BA.5 subvariant can slip past the body’s defenses easier than any of its predecessors.
    David Axe
    Published Jul. 08, 2022 4:48AM ET

    Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
    The latest subvariant of the novel coronavirus to become dominant in Europe, the United States, and other places is also, in many ways, the worst so far.

    The BA.5 subvariant of the basic Omicron variant appears to be more contagious than any previous form of the virus. It’s apparently better at dodging our antibodies, too—meaning it might be more likely to cause breakthrough and repeat infections.

    Vaccines and boosters are still the best defense. There are even Omicron-specific booster jabs in development that, in coming months, could make the best vaccines more effective against BA.5 and its genetic cousins.

    Still, BA.5’s ongoing romp across half the planet is a strong reminder that the COVID pandemic isn’t over. “We’re not done yet, by any stretch,” Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California, wrote on his Substack.

    High levels of at least partial immunity from vaccines and past infection continue to prevent the worst outcomes—mass hospitalization and death. But globally, raw case numbers are surging, with serious implications for potentially millions of people who face a growing risk of long-term illness.

    Equally worrying, the latest wave of infections is giving the coronavirus the time and space it needs to mutate into even more dangerous variants and subvariants. “The development of variants now is a freight train,” Irwin Redlener, the founding director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, told The Daily Beast.

    In other words, unstoppable.

    BA.5 first turned up in viral samples in South Africa in February. By May it was dominant in Europe and Israel, displacing earlier forms of the basic Omicron variant while also driving an increase in global daily COVID cases from around 477,000 a day in early June to 820,000 a day this week.

    In late June, BA.5 became dominant in the United States. Cases haven’t increased yet—the daily average has hovered around 100,000 since May. But that could change in coming weeks as BA.5 continues to outcompete less transmissible subvariants.

    Topol offered a concise explanation for BA.5’s ascendancy. Where the mutations that produced many earlier variants mostly affected the spike protein—the part of the virus that helps it to grab onto and infect our cells—BA.5 has mutations across its structure. “BA.5 is quite distinct and very fit, representing marked difference from all prior variants,” Topol wrote.

    BA.5’s widespread mutations made the subvariant less recognizable to all those antibodies we’ve built up from vaccines, boosters and past infection. BA.5 has been able to slip past our immune systems, ninja-style, contributing to the rising rate of breakthrough cases and reinfections.

    This comes as no surprise to epidemiologists who’ve warned for many months now that persistently high case-rates—which they largely attribute in part to a stubborn anti-vax minority in many countries—would facilitate ever more infectious and evasive variants and subvariant. The more infections, the more chances for significant mutations.

    In that sense, BA5 might be a preview of the months and years to come. A year ago, we had a chance to block SARS-CoV-2’s main transmission vectors through vaccines and social distancing.

    But we didn’t. Restrictions on businesses, schools and crowds have become politically toxic all over the world. Vaccination rates remained stubbornly low, even in many countries with easy access to jabs. In the U.S., for example, the percentage of fully vaccinated has stalled at around 67 percent.

    So COVID lingers, 31 months after the first case was diagnosed in Wuhan, China. The longer the virus circulates, the more variants it produces. BA.5 is the all but inevitable result of that tragic dynamic.

    The situation isn’t entirely hopeless. Yes, BA.5 seems to reduce the effectiveness of the best messenger-RNA vaccines. Vaccine-maker Moderna published data indicating that a booster shot it’s developing specifically for Omicron and its offspring works only a third as well against BA.5 compared to earlier subvariants.

    But vaccines, boosters and past infection still offer meaningful, if reduced, protection against BA.5. “Even a boost of the original genome, or a recent infection, will [produce] some cross-protective antibodies to lessen the severity of a new Omicron subvariant infection,” Eric Bortz, a University of Alaska-Anchorage virologist and public-health expert, told The Daily Beast.

    The more additional jabs you get on top of your prime course, the better protected you are. Arguably the best protection results from two prime jabs of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna plus a couple boosters. “Get your **** fourth shot!” Redlener said.

    The problem, in the United States, is that only people 50 years old or older or with certain immune disorders qualify for a second booster. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration won’t say whether, or when, it might authorize second boosters for younger people. “I have nothing to share at this time,” an FDA spokesperson told The Daily Beast when asked about boosters for under-50s.

    It’s an obvious bureaucratic screw-up. As many as a million booster doses are about to expire in the U.S., all for a want of takers. “A profound waste, which should be made available to all people, age under-50 who seek added protection,” Topol wrote.

    To be fair, Pfizer and Moderna are both working on new boosters that they’ve tailored specifically for Omicron subvariants. On June 30, an FDA advisory board endorsed these variant-specific boosters. The FDA announced it might approve them for emergency use for some Americans as early as this fall.

    But there’s a risk these jabs will show up too late, especially if they’re highly optimized for just one recent subvariant and thus ineffective against future subvariants. “Variant-chasing is a flawed approach,” Topol wrote. “By the time a BA.5 vaccine booster is potentially available, who knows what will be the predominant strain?”

    Fortunately, there are fallbacks. Masks and voluntary social-distancing, of course. Post-infection therapies including the antiviral drug paxlovid also help. “This is not a time to abandon non-pharmaceutical intervention,” Redlener stressed.

    But voluntary mask-wearing and paxlovid are bandaids on a festering global wound. The surge in BA.5 infections creates the conditions for the next major subvariant—BA.6, if you will. It might be even worse.

    It’s looking more and more likely that COVID will be with us, well, forever. “COVID is becoming like the flu,” Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington Institute for Health, told The Daily Beast.

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    Gene Ching
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    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  14. #359
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    Jake Shields...remember him?

    MMA Fighter Falsely Claims NIH Added Ivermectin To Covid-19 Treatments List
    Bruce Y. Lee Senior Contributor
    I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order.
    Follow
    Sep 5, 2022,03:45pm EDT

    Mixed martial artist (MMA) fighter Jake Shields, pictured here during a UFC Fight Night on October ... [+]ZUFFA LLC VIA GETTY IMAGES
    Mixed martial artist (MMA) fighter Jake Shields recently claimed on Twitter that on August 31 “the National institute of health added Ivermectin to the list of covid treatment.” The tweet also stated, “Looks like the conspiracy theorist were right and the ‘experts’ wrong once again.”

    OK, so, according to Shields, the “National institute of health” (apparently just one of the institutes and not all of them) added the anti-parasitic medication ivermectin to the “list of covid treatment.” Not the list of treatments, plural, but the list of just one treatment, singular. And, based on what Shields said, “the conspiracy theorist,” apparently the one big one, “were right,” sort like saying how a gigantic doughnut were in your fridge. That tweet got re-tweeted over 15.5 thousand times as you can see here:


    From TwitterFROM TWITTER

    Besides an interesting mismatch of plural and singular nouns and verbs, there was one itty bitty problem with what Shields had tweeted: he didn’t provide any evidence supporting his statement. And his statement went against what’s actually listed in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines. OK, two things were wrong with his tweet, along with the plural, singular stuff. All right, three things were wrong.

    Before believing what Shield, or rather Shields, says about the NIH, you may want to look up the NIH Covid-19 Treatment Guidelines yourself. The ivermectin page specifically says the following: “The Panel recommends against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19, except in clinical trials.” That doesn’t sound like adding ivermectin to the list of Covid treatment. Or rather list of Covid treatments, since list typically implies more than one item. For example, you usually don’t make a list of things to shop for and just have the word “meatball” on it.

    Why did Shields make it seem like the NIH recently changed their stance? After all, the NIH Covid-19 treatment guidelines have long recommended against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19 ever since random politicians, personalities, and social media accounts started telling people to use the medication without offering that little thing called real, legitimate scientific evidence. All of that began way prior to August 31. So nothing really special happened on August 31, except for perhaps National Eat Outside Day.

    Did Shields provide any evidence that ivermectin actually works against Covid-19. Well, Shields’ tweet thread went on to mention “the study” that supposedly showed “95% decrees In mortality” without specifically indicating what study he was referring to or providing a source:


    From TwitterFROM TWITTER
    I don’t know if you’ve ever faced a “decree in mortality” but that sounds pretty scary. If someone were to walk up to you in a bar, look straight at you in your eyes, and issue such a decree, you’d probably want to leave the bar as soon as possible. In the tweet, Shields also added, “These people would rather you die than admit they were wrong and lose money.” Yeah, you always want to look out for “these people,” no matter who “these people” happen to be. That’s the case, for example, when you are on a Tinder date at a restaurant or back at your place and have to ask your date, “why did you bring along ‘these people’?”

    On the next tweet in his thread, Shields asserted that “The study used 88,012 people with 92% reduction in death,” providing a screenshot of something that had no label or link:


    From TwitterFROM TWITTER
    Umm, without a source or a link, this screenshot for all you know could have come from a toilet tissue paper package insert or a transcript of what was written on a bathroom stall. You can’t really assess a “new study” when you can’t even tell how legitimate the study may be. You can’t just post a screenshot of a paragraph with the words “new study” in it with no clear source and expect people to believe what’s being said. That would be like posting a screenshot of the words “Detroit Lions win Super Bowl” or “wind turbines cause cancer” and expecting everyone to believe it. OK maybe the second example wasn’t the best example.

    Nonetheless, if the NIH had added ivermectin to the list of Covid treatment or treatments, don’t you think the NIH would have announced such a change? If there were indeed a legitimate ground-breaking scientific study on ivermectin, surely you would be able to find it on PubMed and a major press release. After all, it’s not as if medical researchers say, “I really hope a MMA fighter finds our study and tweets about it.”

    Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.
    Bruce Y. Lee
    I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, medical doctor, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order. Currently, I am a Professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health, Executive Director of PHICOR (@PHICORteam) and Center for Advanced Technology and Communication in Health (CATCH), and founder and CEO of Symsilico. My previous positions include serving as Professor By Courtesy at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University, Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Senior Manager at Quintiles Transnational, working in biotechnology equity research at Montgomery Securities, and co-founding a biotechnology/bioinformatics company. My work has included developing computer approaches, models, and tools to help health and healthcare decision makers in all continents (except for Antarctica). This has included serving as the Principal Investigator of over $60 million in research grants from a wide variety of sponsors such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), National Science Foundation (NSF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Global Fund. I have authored over 250 scientific publications and three books. I've also written articles for The New York Times, Time, The Guardian, The HuffPost, STAT, and the MIT Technology Review and others. My work and expertise have appeared in leading media outlets such as The New York Times, ABC, USA Today, Good Morning America, Tamron Hall Show, BBC, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, CBS News, Businessweek, U.S. News and World Report, Bloomberg News, Reuters, National Public Radio (NPR), National Geographic, MSN, and PBS. Follow me on Twitter (@bruce_y_lee) but don’t ask me if I know martial arts.
    I like author Bruce Lee's bio.

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    Gene Ching
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