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Thread: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

  1. #226
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    social distancing with swords

    Fencing, with built-in social distancing, proves ideal sport for coronavirus pandemic
    By Allison Ward
    The Columbus Dispatch
    Posted Jul 20, 2020 at 11:48 AM
    Fencers say that the sport might be the ideal activity to do right now as it promotes social distancing.

    Like many kids, summer looks a lot different this year for siblings Eleanor and Gavin McClung, who are not allowed to visit public pools, attend large gatherings of friends or go on vacation far from home.

    Fortunately, the Upper Arlington sister and brother, 8 and 14 respectively, still have at least one extracurricular activity their parents find safe: fencing.

    Masks and gloves are already standard equipment for the sport and some competitors now double up on masks, wearing a cotton one underneath the mesh fencing one, which does not have the same protective effect against COVID-19.

    And social distancing? That’s less of a problem for athletes carrying nearly 4-foot-long sabers, epees and foils with the goal of stabbing anyone who comes near them.

    “Innately, it’s a little safer,” said the kids’ mother, Becky McClung. “You’re not in each others’ faces all the time and there are those natural barriers.”

    In fact, fencing might be one of the safest sports right now, a perk that many clubs across central Ohio and nationwide have touted on social media in recent weeks as they’ve welcomed students back since reopening.

    “Fencers try to keep away from each other,” said Stan Prilutsky, head coach at Columbus Fencing & Fitness in Dublin, where the McClungs take lessons. “If you get too close, you’re in trouble.”

    Even though the sport boasts built-in barriers to deter the spread of COVID-19 — including that it only involves two athletes — Isabel Alvarez has reopened Profencing in Lewis Center cautiously, following protocols recommended by USA Fencing, the sport’s governing body.

    “I have an immune deficiency problem,” she said. “Staying in business, staying well and not getting sick, has been a big effort.”

    Finances became extremely tight after nonessential businesses were shut down in the spring, and a slow rebound since it reopened for private lessons has put the academy in jeopardy of shutting its doors for good, Alvarez said. A small Paycheck Protection Program loan and some generous parents who continued paying their children’s fees even when the business was closed have helped her weather the storm so far, she said.

    Anyone entering Alvarez’s building is asked to wear a cotton mask, even while fencing, and students aren’t allowed to store their equipment at the facility. She’s taught students how to sanitize their suits — something they should do anyway — and they’ve done away with ceremonial handshakes, following USA Fencing rule changes.

    So far, Alvarez said she is only seeing about half her regular students, and many of her summer camps with community centers have been canceled. However, she is still doing a few small camps, starting this month. She hopes to begin offering introductory classes for new students and small-group sessions soon.

    “It’s safe to do fencing, and it’s good because the kids need an activity,” Alvarez said. “It challenges the mind and body.”

    One of her students, Elise Lemasters of Delaware, who generally prefers bouts with friends and at tournaments, couldn’t wait for her first private class with Alvarez upon returning to the club.

    “In the car, I told my dad how excited I was, and I typically don’t like having lessons, but I was looking forward to it,” said the 12-year-old, who is the No. 1 female fencer in Ohio under 13.

    Parents at Profencing shared that excitement. Heather Besselman, a mom of four, said she and her two sons who fence, especially 10-year-old Noah, were thrilled when Profencing opened again.

    “Noah needed activity,” said Besselman, of Delaware. “It was time, and they’re taking precautions all across the board.”

    Her children still haven’t been many places, but she feels they’re safe fencing.

    “They’re fully geared up and the chance of saliva going through their mask then through another mask and onto their opponent is slim,” she said.

    While wearing two masks is “weird,” Noah said, it’s now “normal.”

    Normal is what many of Prilutsky’s students have craved these past few months. About 75% of his 150 or so students are back taking regular private lessons.

    While he acknowledged he and other instructors saw some benefits to teaching virtual lessons on Zoom — which focused on technique and footwork — he’s glad to have students back in his 8,000 square-foot facility that boasts 19 fencing strips.

    “One student was crying after her first bout because she was so excited to be back,” Prilutsky said. “There’s been an emotional response to getting back to the sport we love.”

    Gavin McClung admits he was a bit nervous to come back as he felt out of shape after two months away from the club. But it didn’t take long to fall into a rhythm with familiar faces around him.

    “I’ve been excited, too,” the teen said. “There are a lot of people here I haven’t seen in a while.”

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  2. #227
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    $34-36 M loss for PRC

    Wonder what the U.S. IMAX loss might be...

    Jul 22, 2020 6:57pm PT
    Imax China Warns of $36 Million Half Year Loss
    By Rebecca Davis


    Courtesy of IMAX

    Imax China, the Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of Imax, has warned that it expects a net loss between $34 and $36 million for the first half of the year, as cinema closures in the country due to COVID-19 have slammed exhibition firms.

    The 2020 figures stand in contrast to a net profit of $24 million in the same period last year.

    There are around 700 Imax cinemas in mainland China, nearly all of which have been shut since late January because of the coronavirus.

    A notice posted Tuesday to the Hong Kong stock exchange said the 2020 decrease was primarily attributable to the shutdown and coronavirus slowing the installation of new theater systems. A non-recurring deferred income tax charge and provisions of around $9 million made for trade and financing receivables were also other factors.

    The news comes after China’s largest cinema chain operator Wanda Film said last week that it anticipates net losses of between $214 and $228 million in the first half of the year, down from net profits of $75 million (RMB524 million) during the same period last year. Its 600 complexes have also been shut for nearly that entire time, and its blockbuster “Detective Chinatown 3” indefinitely postponed its late January premiere.

    Despite the downturn, Wanda and Imax struck a 20-theater agreement earlier this month, in which Wanda will upgrade ten of its existing theaters to the latest “Imax with Laser” technology and install Imax systems at ten others. With these upcoming systems, there will be 378 Imax screens across China at Wanda venues.

    Wanda Film’s executive president said that Imax “will be critical in welcoming back to theaters and offering the best possible cinematic experience well into the future.”

    Last year, Imax saw a record-breaking year in China with a box office of $366 million. It may be quite some time before the company sees such highs again.

    Although cinemas began reopening from Monday, the Chinese box office has so far been slow, with theaters earning just $500,000 nationwide their first day back in business. The strong $20.8 million opening weekend of South Korean zombie film “Peninsula” elsewhere in Asia, however, provides some hope of a faster recovery once desirable new blockbusters start hitting screens with regularity again.

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  3. #228
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    Slightly OT - toys not bots...

    ...but I suspect bots are among said toys. Love the denial that these are mostly for 'export' as well as the use of 'spurts' in the title.

    Economy / China Economy
    China’s sex toy makers in growth spurt, as coronavirus lockdowns fuel global appetite
    China’s sex toy exports have increased by 50 per cent this year, according to the Shanghai-based The Paper, with sex doll exports doubling
    Lockdown measures in the US, Britain, Europe, New Zealand and Australia have led to increased demand
    Cissy Zhou
    Published: 7:30pm, 23 Jul, 2020


    China’s overall economy has staged a mild recovery since the outbreak of coronavirus, and the sex toy industry seems to have been able to enjoy a more rapid recovery since the enforced closures and lockdowns. Photo: Reuters

    Sex toy manufacturers in China have seen a surge in orders since the start of the coronavirus, marking one of a few bright spots in an economy battered by the pandemic, according to industry insiders.
    China’s economy, including its manufacturing outlook and exports, crashed at the start of the year at the height of the outbreak with the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index plunging to an all-time low in February, while exports shrank by 17.2 per cent in January and February combined.
    The overall economy has staged a mild recovery since, and the sex toy industry seems to have been able to enjoy a more rapid recovery since the enforced closures and lockdowns, with one Shandong-based manufacturer reporting a 30 per cent increase in exports and domestic sales.
    Overseas sales manager Violet Du said Shandong-based Libo Technology had increased its production line staff by around 25 per cent to close to 400 since they returned to work at the end of February.
    Our production lines are running around the clock, and our workers are working in two shifts to meet the surging demand
    Violet Du
    France, the United States and Italy have been the most active export markets over the last four months, according to Du, although domestic sales slowed as China began to bring the coronavirus under control.
    “Our production lines are running around the clock, and our workers are working in two shifts to meet the surging demand,” Du said.
    The surge in demand is largely due to lockdown measures, added Du, with exports to the US and some European countries expected to continue to rise as virus containment measures remain in place.
    Dongguan-based manufacturer Aibei Sex Doll Company has also increased staffing levels but has been still forced to turn away orders, according to general manager Lou, who only provided his surname.
    This is a niche market in China, because the Chinese culture is relatively conservative, so all our products are export-oriented, with the US and Europe being the largest market
    General manager Lou
    Aibei produces around 1,500 sex dolls per month, with prices ranging from 2,200 yuan to 3,600 yuan, although Lou insists with a larger capacity, sales could have surged by more than 50 per cent.
    “This is a niche market in China, because the Chinese culture is relatively conservative, so all our products are export-oriented, with the US and Europe being the largest market,” Lou said.
    Large factories in Dongguan can produce around 2,000 dolls per month, with smaller factories producing around 300 to 500, although this is far below the current demand from the US and Europe, added Lou.
    China’s sex toy exports have increased by 50 per cent so far this year, according to the Shanghai-based The Paper, with exports of sex doll doubling. Sex doll exports to Italy have increased fivefold since March, when confirmed coronavirus cases began to emerge.
    Various reports also suggest demand from the US, Britain, Denmark, New Zealand, and Australia increased when lockdown measures were introduced.
    In March and April as coronavirus cases surged, Adam and Eve, a popular sex toy brand in North America, reported that their online sales had increased by around 30 per cent compared to the same period last year.
    Berlin-based sex toy maker Wow Tech Group reported in April that online sales for their We-Vibe and Womanizer brands had increased by more than 200 per cent.
    This totally redefines what 'essential worker' means...

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  4. #229
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    Follow the embedded link for a vid.

    Newsflare
    Shaolin monks disinfect stage and audience area to prepare for performance
    Duration: 01:10 17/06/2020
    Shaolin monks disinfected the stage and the audience area to prepare for the Shaolin Zen Music Ritual outdoor performance in central China's Dengfeng city on June 13. In the video, monks carry pressure sprayers to disinfect the audience area, the stage and the building's roof. According to reports, the Shaolin Zen Music Ritual reopened recently after months' coronavirus lockdown. Only one-third of the seats are available to visitors and social distance are requested.
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    HKIFF44 cancelled

    Variety
    Jul 23, 2020 10:39pm PT
    Hong Kong Film Festival is Canceled as Coronavirus Continues to Take Toll
    By Patrick Frater


    Courtesy of HKIFF

    The Hong Kong International Film Festival, set to have taken place in the second half of August, has been canceled.

    The festival had previously rescheduled its 44th edition from its usual slot in March, due to the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak. It had set Aug 18-31 Aug. instead.

    But, with the city now facing a third wave of the virus, organizers on Friday bowed to the inevitable and announced the cancellation of HKIFF44 and the smaller Cine Fan activities in September and October.

    They said that the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), one of Asia’s longest running film project markets, will go ahead as planned in virtual form. It will run Aug. 26-28.

    “While it is tremendously deflating, given all the hard work that we have put in, the well-being of our colleagues and the public is of utmost importance to us. Calling of HKIFF44 is heartbreaking, but we believe we have a duty to behave with social responsibility,” said Albert Lee, executive director. “We will start working in the next edition of the festival straight away. We are determined to make up for the ‘lost’ HKIFF44.”

    Last month it was announced that Hong Kong FilMart, the largest film rights market in Asia, had given up on plans to be held in physical form this year. Instead, FilMart will migrate to a virtual platform, FILMART Online, running Aug. 26-29, 2020. The problem at the time was not specific to Hong Kong, but more reflected other cities being put on lockdown, and travel difficulties among Asian territories.

    Hong Kong had seemed to manage the disease well through testing, contact tracing and quarantines that stifled a first dose of coronavirus in February, and a second wave in March-April brought on by residents returning from abroad. But the city is now suffering a third wave that is more serious than either of the two earlier outbreaks.

    Cinemas have been closed for nearly two weeks, restaurants and bars must close at 6pm, and mask-wearing has become compulsory on public transport and at all indoor public spaces, such as shopping malls.

    The territory’s government has rejected claims that it created too many quarantine exception categories and allowed new imported cases to restart local infections. But epidemiologists Friday said that is exactly what happened and point to the genetics of the recent COVID-19 cases that consist of strains that were not previously present in the city.

    To date Hong Kong has recorded 2,132 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It has caused 16 deaths.
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  6. #231
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    indefinitely

    ENTERTAINMENT
    Disney delays ‘Mulan’ indefinitely, Star Wars and Avatar movies pushed back a year
    PUBLISHED THU, JUL 23 20205:00 PM EDTUPDATED THU, JUL 23 20206:42 PM EDT
    Sarah Whitten
    @SARAHWHIT10
    KEY POINTS
    “Mulan” is no longer being released on Aug. 21 and is now “unset” on Disney’s calendar.
    All dated Star Wars films and Avatar sequels have been pushed back one year on the calendar.
    The company said that theater closures and production shutdowns during the global coronavirus pandemic caused it to make a number of adjustments to its slate.


    Liu Yifei stars a Fa Mulan in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Mulan.”
    Disney

    Disney is making some major changes to its release calendar that include delaying “Mulan” from its Aug. 21 release indefinitely and pushing back the debuts of future Star Wars and Avatar movies by a year.

    On Thursday, the company said that theater closures and production shutdowns during the global coronavirus pandemic caused it to make a number of adjustments to its slate.

    “Over the last few months, it’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and today that means pausing our release plans for ‘Mulan’ as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world,” a Walt Disney Studios spokesperson said in a statement Thursday.

    Disney shares fell slightly in after-hours trading and were down nearly 1%.

    “Mulan” is currently listed as unset, meaning its release is delayed indefinitely. This is the fourth time that the live-action film has been delayed since March.

    With “Mulan” vacating its August release date, there are now no Hollywood blockbuster releases set for the month. “Tenet” moved out from its August debut on Monday and has yet to announce a new release date. AT&T CEO John Stankey has promised movie theater owners that Christopher Nolan’s spy thriller will have a theatrical release.

    “New Mutants” a 20th Century Fox feature in the X-Men franchise that has been delayed for the last three years, appears to still be on the calendar for Aug. 28, but depending on if movie theaters reopen next month, the film could be pushed again or be delegated to a video on-demand release.

    A number of smaller, independent features are set for release in theaters. However, major theater chains like AMC may not be open to show them. Earlier Thursday, AMC announced that it has pushed back its reopening plans to mid-August after “Tenet” left the calendar. It is unclear how it will react to “Mulan” leaving as well.

    AMC, like other major movie theater chains, has been closed since mid-March, awaiting a slowdown in coronavirus cases and new content from Hollywood. AMC, in particular, had been very vocal about how the pandemic could push it into bankruptcy.

    Earlier this month, the exhibitor was able to reach a debt agreement that should help it remain solvent through 2021.

    “Theaters will again be forced to reassess their target opening dates,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, said. “Archival titles can only get the market so far while the summer weather is conducive to the current drive-in boom. Studios need theaters to be open, and theaters need studios to release new product. Anytime one side of that equation budges, the other has little choice but to follow suit in this current world of uncertainty.”

    Additional slate changes include:

    “The Personal History of David Copperfield” moving to Aug. 28
    “Death on the Nile” is now debuting on Oct. 23
    “The Empty Man” will arrive on Dec. 4
    “The French Dispatch” is unset
    “Antlers” is now dated Feb. 19, 2021
    “The Last Duel” will arrive Oct. 15, 2021
    An untitled Disney Live Action film will take the place of “Avatar 2” on Dec. 16, 2021.
    “Avatar 2” pushed to Dec. 16, 2022
    Untitled Star Wars moved to Dec. 22, 2023
    “Avatar 3” now dated Dec. 20, 2024
    Untitled Star Wars redated to Dec. 19, 2025
    “Avatar 4” will arrive Dec. 18, 2026
    Untitled Star Wars moved to Dec. 17, 2027
    “Avatar 5” now slated for Dec. 22, 2028
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  7. #232
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    Postponed to 2021

    Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins Moves to 2021
    Paramount and Hasbro’s G.I. Joe film franchise relaunch, Snake Eyes, will be pushed from its October release date.
    By Joseph Baxter
    |
    July 27, 2020


    Ray Park as Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe: Retaliation
    Photo: Paramount Pictures

    Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins will silently and stealthily shift its way out of a 2020 film industry schedule that’s been snakebit by the COVID cobra.

    Studio Paramount, which is partnering with property owners Hasbro Toys to produce, plans to move the release of the Snake Eyes film—a prequel intended to relaunch the G.I. Joe film franchise—to an unspecified date in 2021, as revealed by Hasbro (via THR,) in a call about the company’s quarterly earnings report. While the film had been set to hit theaters on October 23, 2020, the companies seem to have concluded that its long-set fall premiere is no longer insulated from the destructive reach of the pandemic, which continues to leave theaters shuttered nationwide.

    Indeed, Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s chairman and CEO, after citing significant COVID-era losses (seemingly due to a variety of reasons, be it the lockdowns to supply chain delays), stated that, “We’re working out the specifics with Paramount,” with regard to a new release date for Snake Eyes. Yet, if we were to take Paramount’s most recent pandemic-pushed release dates—specifically the lengthy 2021 shifts dealt to Top Gun: Maverick and A Quiet Place II—then it’s very possible that Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins could be given a similar quarantine lasting as long as a full year to October 2021. Of course, nothing has been confirmed as of yet, and the release schedule landscape is constantly shifting strategic variables against the health crisis, leaving open every possibility.

    Snake Eyes will manifest as a solo outing focused on the iconic silent black-clad commando and ninja of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero 3 ¾” toy line relaunch of the 1980s and ’90s. The character, a heroic member of the G.I. Joe team, is arguably the most famous of the franchise, last seen on the big screen as a dark, silent whirlwind of martial arts mastery in 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and 2013’s G.I Joe: Retaliation, played by Star Wars Darth Maul actor Ray Park (pictured above). This film, however, will see the title character played by Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding, this time mask-less and set to depict the eventually-disfigured and muted character’s tragic backstory, along with his complex relationship with eventual fellow Joe member Scarlett (Samara Weaving) and—another franchise A-lister—white-clad ninja frenemy Storm Shadow (Andrew Koji).

    Make no mistake, Snake Eyes is a major priority for Hasbro and Paramount, which—in a similar approach to 2018’s Bumblebee for the Transformers property—will use the film to launch a new iteration of G.I. Joe films after the general failure of the aforementioned previous entries left the franchise dormant for the past seven years. Indeed, news came as recently as this past May that the company coalition was planning to push ahead with new G.I. Joe films, which would be built upon the prospective success of this character-centric prequel, likely set to retain cast members like Golding, Weaving and Koji, whose characters are integral to the franchise. That last tidbit came after news from last fall revealed that another G.I. Joe solo film was in the works, this one centered on (curiously enough,) Chuckles, a loud-Hawaiian-shirt-clad undercover member of the Joe team.

    For now, the date on which Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins will fight for freedom wherever there’s trouble remains a mystery.
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    Tenet oked for PRC

    Jul 29, 2020 8:26pm PT
    ‘Tenet’ Approved for Theatrical Release in China
    By Rebecca Davis


    Melinda Sue Gordon

    “Tenet” announced Wednesday that it has passed government approvals for a theatrical release in China, an indication that an official release date is now on the horizon.

    The film has released a poster in Chinese, swapping the English tagline “time runs out” for a clarion call to return to cinemas that roughly translates to “make every second count; invade the theaters.”

    Chinese cinemas reopened in regions at low risk for COVID-19 on July 20, taking in $12.6 million in their opening weekend. Currently, around 44% of its cinemas are back in business, but have been required to operate at just 30% capacity to allow for social distancing, as well as reduce their total number of screenings to half their usual tally.

    Additionally, guidelines for reopening released by the National Film Bureau request that cinemas not screen films that are over two hours long — which could potentially pose problems for “Tenet,” which runs at two hours and 31 minutes.

    This directive was soon contradicted, however, by Chinese authorities’ subsequent approval of numerous films longer than two hours for nationwide theatrical release. These include “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and Nolan’s own “Interstellar” — currently scheduled for a theatrical re-run starting Aug. 2 — as well as local blockbusters already in play like “Operation Red Sea.”

    Until the guideline is more formally lifted, it appears that cinemas in different regions under different levels of COVID-19 threat have been given varied amounts of leeway, or at least have been variously willing to stick their neck out and program longer films.

    All eight of the “Harry Potter” films run over two hours, but they are all currently screening as part of the Shanghai International Film Festival.

    Yet at least two cinemas in Beijing said Wednesday in private chats posted to social media that due to the confusion, they currently didn’t dare program approved, available titles over 120 minutes long — even the patriotic blockbuster “Wolf Warrior 2,” which runs 123 minutes.

    Elsewhere in China, however, that film’s re-run has already made $1.1 million since cinemas reopened Monday.

    “Tenet” had to reschedule its release numerous times due to COVID-19 before Warner Brothers this week settled on the unconventional plan of debuting it internationally before it hits North America.

    It is now prepared to open in around 70 countries abroad starting on Aug. 26, including the U.K., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea and Russia. It will then premiere in select U.S. cities over Labor Day weekend from Sept. 3.

    China is far and away the most important foreign market for “Tenet” director Christopher Nolan’s films.

    The Chinese box office for almost every film he’s made as either director or executive producer has blown away earnings from other territories by a large margin. The only exceptions are “Dunkirk” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” for which China was the second largest market globally behind the U.K., and “Batman Begins,” which hit the Middle Kingdom all the way back in 2005, when its box office was still comparatively nascent.

    Of the Nolan-directed films, “Dunkirk” made $51 million in China in 2017, while “Interstellar” grossed $122 million there in 2014. The “Dark Knight Rises” grossed $52.8 million in 2012 and “Inception” $68.4 million in 2010.

    Films executive produced by Nolan have also seen strong showings in the country. They include “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” with $96 million, “Justice League” with $106 million, “Transcendence” with $20 million, and “Man of Steel” with $63 million.
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    red flag

    Patriotic Activities Mandated to Reopen Religious Venues
    07/24/2020 HAN SHENG

    Places of worship must prove loyalty to the CCP before opening their doors after the coronavirus lockdown. Flag-raising ceremonies are obligatory.
    by Han Sheng

    All religious venues in China were closed for more than five months to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Shaolin Temple on Mount Song in the central province of Henan, the Buddhist holy site reputed as “Number One Temple under Heaven” and renowned around the world for its martial arts school, was no exception.

    As lockdown restrictions were eased, it was allowed to reopen on June 22, but only on the condition that a grand national flag-raising ceremony promoting patriotism and pledging loyalty to the CCP was organized that day. A requirement each place of worship in China must accept if they want to resume their activities in the post-lockdown era.


    Shaolin Temple monks stand in lines for a flag-raising ceremony.

    At 9 a.m. that day, Shi Yongxin, the abbot of the Shaolin Temple, accompanied by about 100 disciples, led the flag-raising ceremony in the rain. After 1,500 years of promoting Buddhism in China, the temple has succumbed to the CCP’s “sinicization” policy, gradually losing its original values and responsibilities.

    “It is so unnatural for monks in traditional robes to take part in a flag-raising ceremony like soldiers,” commented a temple visitor who witnessed the reopening on June 22.

    “Strictly controlled by the state, people of faith must follow the Party’s commands,” another visitor added. “The government thinks that there are too many believers, which it sees as a threat to its regime.”

    Shaolin Temple monks carry a national flag in a marching drill, reminiscent of a military ceremony.



    Proof of “patriotism” has become a prerequisite for religious activity venues to reopen after the lockdown. Even after they are open again, religious activities are still banned or strictly restricted in the name of “epidemic prevention.” Patriotic events, however, are not spreading the virus, according to the CCP.

    The famous Nantai Rock Temple in Quanzhou, a prefecture-level city in the southeastern province of Fujian, was allowed to open its doors on June 21, but only if a flag-raising ceremony was organized. A staff member at the temple said that since the government controls religions and demands to prove loyalty to the state, the venue must now hold flag-raising ceremonies weekly and ahead of each monks’ assembly or other religious activity. The temple has no other choice but to obey. Before a small assembly on July 2, the temple abbot led a flag-raising ceremony for a group of about 30 Buddhists.

    The flag-raising ceremony at the Nantai Rock Temple on July 2.

    The Religious Affairs Bureau of Quanzhou also demands local religious venues to have the national flag on display throughout the week, regardless of the weather: raise it on Monday and lower it on Friday. The flag must be kept in pristine condition—unfaded and undamaged.


    Following a flag-raising ceremony, the Nantai Rock Temple abbot gives a speech, praising President Xi Jinping for his achievements in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

    On June 30, the eve of the 99th anniversary of the founding of the CCP, the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of Qingdao city in the eastern province of Shandong gathered monks in the Zhanshan Temple to watch The Founding of A Party, a film about the history of the CCP. “Promotion of Buddhism and most religious activities in the temple are still banned,” one of the temple’s monks explained, adding that they are not even allowed to gather for traditional morning and evening chants.

    In late June, imams of some state-run mosques in Shandong’s Liaocheng city were demanded by the city’s UFWD to “commemorate the Party’s birthday” and organize believers to hold a flag-raising ceremony on July 1 even though religious gatherings continue to be banned.

    “All mosques, churches, and temples in Liaocheng-administered Linqing city had to hold flag-raising ceremonies; some had over 100 attendees. Is this not a gathering?” a local Muslim questioned the reasoning behind the government’s regulations.
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    Premiering on VOD

    Another covid heartbreaker...

    Aug 4, 2020 2:00pm PT
    With ‘Mulan,’ Disney Tests Out Entirely New Early VOD Model
    By Adam B. Vary, Rebecca Rubin
    Mulan
    Courtesy of Disney

    In another major blow to movie theaters, Disney announced “Mulan” will forgo its planned theatrical release. Instead, the live-action remake is premiering on Disney Plus on Sept. 4 for a premium rental price.

    The company believes that the release of the action epic will help drive subscribers while serving as a valuable test case to determine how much of their hard-earned cash customers are willing to part with in order to watch a movie that was originally intended to debut exclusively in cinemas.

    Unlike the rest of the content available on Disney Plus, “Mulan” won’t be available directly to subscribers. Consumers in the U.S. and other territories will have to pay $29.99 to rent the movie on top of the streaming service’s monthly subscription fee of $6.99. In markets where Disney Plus isn’t available, “Mulan” will play in cinemas.

    For now, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek says “Mulan’s” big move isn’t reflective of a new business model for the company — even though it kind of is.

    “We’re looking at ‘Mulan’ as a one-off as opposed to saying there’s some new business windowing model that we’re looking at,” Chapek said Tuesday on the company’s earnings call.

    Disney may be signaling to exhibitors that it’s not turning its back on cinemas and that it will respect their ability to have exclusive access to the studio’s content, but Chapek wouldn’t be so interested in testing the waters if the possibility didn’t exist that the studio would dive back into streaming with some other oft-delayed theatrical release. There’s plenty to pick from on that score. Disney has shelved a number of buzzy titles since the pandemic shuttered theaters. Tellingly, Chapek said that Disney wants to “learn from it and see the actual number of transactions.” If those numbers are good, will “Mulan” still be a one-off?

    It’s also notable that the form of premium VOD that Disney is testing is very different and potentially more lucrative than others deployed by studios. “Mulan” will cost roughly $10 more than Universal charged for “Trolls World Tour” and it’s sticking the price of a subscription on top of that bill. It remains to be seen if that will be too rich for consumers at a time when unemployment is reaching Great Depression-era levels and benefits may be cut. It certainly makes “Mulan” the priciest VOD release since the failed attempt to offer 2011’s “Tower Heist” to cable subscribers for $60 three weeks after it opened. Universal, the studio behind the Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy comedy, abandoned those plans in the wake of exhibitor upheaval.

    Disney’s decision to mix things up with “Mulan” comes just days after AMC Theatres and Universal stunned investors when they announced that they had reached an agreement that would enable some movies to debut their film on home entertainment platforms within 17 days of their theatrical debut. The two companies hailed the move as an important evolution in film distribution, but other chains such as Regal and Cinemark were cool to the new model. Disney, among all of its major studio brethren, has historically been one of the staunchest allies of the theatrical experience. The announcement may have goosed its stock, but it was a drag on the shares of the major exhibitors.

    The decision to put “Mulan” on premium video-on-demand further emphasizes the studio’s increased reliance on Disney Plus at a time when most of their business — from theme parks and cruises to movie theaters and retail stores — have been crippled by the pandemic. Research, Chapek says, suggests that bringing a high-profile release like “Mulan” to homes “will act as a fairly large stimulus to sign up for Disney Plus.”

    Chapek added that it gives them a chance to recapture “some of our original investment” on “Mulan.” The movie cost $200 million to produce and many millions more to market and promote on a global scale. That means it will rely on ticket sales — and lots of ’em — if it hopes to turn a profit. Unlike Universal’s “Trolls World Tour,” Warner Bros.’ “Scoob” and other movies that were put on premium video-on-demand platforms in lieu of a traditional release, Disney won’t have to split in the riches from digital rentals since they own the streaming platform.

    Originally scheduled to open on March 27, “Mulan” was meant to be one of Disney’s major theatrical releases for the year. The studio mounted a lavish red carpet premiere at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on March 9. But just three days later, the cascade of industry closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced Disney to postpone “Mulan’s” release. It was delayed multiple times before Disney indefinitely removed it from the release calendar last week.

    It’s yet another stark indication of studios’ dwindling faith that movie theaters will be able to safely reopen in the near future, especially at the scale necessary to support mega-budgeted tentpole movies. Just before “Mulan” was pulled from Disney’s schedule, Warner Bros. removed “Tenet” from its release calendar. The sci-fi epic from Christopher Nolan is now expected to launch internationally starting on Aug. 26 before making its way to select U.S. cities on Sept. 3.

    The lack of a theatrical release for “Mulan” is another setback for exhibitors, who had hoped patrons of all ages would turned out to watch the fearless Chinese warrior back on the big screen. “Tenet,” another title that movie theater owners are counting on to revive moviegoing after prolonged shutdowns, is geared toward slightly older crowds.

    With sweeping battle scenes and lavishly appointed sets and costumes, Disney shelled out millions upon millions to make “Mulan” a must-see in theaters. In fact, when Disney delayed “Mulan” for the third time in June, co-chairman and chief creative officer Alan Horn and co-chairman Alan Bergman highlighted the necessity to see the film on the silver screen.

    “Director Niki Caro and our cast and crew have created a beautiful, epic, and moving film that is everything the cinematic experience should be, and that’s where we believe it belongs — on the world stage and the big screen for audiences around the globe to enjoy together,” said Horn and Bergman in a statement at the time.

    Based on the legend of the female Chinese warrior who disguises herself as a man to spare her infirm father from conscription into a war, “Mulan” features a breakout performance in the title role from Chinese actor Liu Yifei, and awards worthy performances from Tzi Ma (as Mulan’s father) and Gong Li (as a mysterious and complex villain). Along with “Crazy Rich Asians,” it is one of the only large-scale releases from a major Hollywood studio to feature an entirely Asian cast.

    “Mulan” was always meant to be a global theatrical player, especially in China. But even though Chinese theaters have started to reopen, box office sales have been sluggish without any new content to feature.
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  11. #236
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    Will the theaters survive?

    MOVIES
    U.K. Exhibitors "Bewildered" by Disney Decision Not to Bring 'Mulan' to Cinemas
    4:20 AM PDT 8/5/2020 by Alex Ritman


    Courtesy of Disney
    'Mulan'

    Disney's shock move to scrap the theatrical release in certain markets, including the U.S. and U.K., has gone down badly with the U.K.'s already-beleaguered exhibition industry.

    Exhibitors in the U.K. have reacted badly to Disney's shock decision to scrap Mulan's several-times-postponed theatrical release and take it straight to its Disney+ platform in certain markets.

    The controversial new release strategy was revealed on Tuesday, with the live-action family adventure — expected to be one of the first major blockbusters to be come out as exhibitors emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown — now set to be offered to Disney+ customers in the U.S., U.K. and other select markets for the premium price of $29.99 beginning Sept. 4, forgoing cinemas in many territories altogether.

    In a letter sent to British cinemas on Wednesday and seen by The Hollywood Reporter, Disney apologized for the decision, which it said was one that was "not taken lightly."

    "Given that COVID-19 has disrupted large parts of the content pipeline and markets are in vastly different situations right now, and after delaying the global theatrical debut multiple times, we are subsequently taking a tailored approach to this release," it said.

    However, the move to bypass cinemas altogether and not even give Mulan a day-and-date release has rattled the U.K.'s already beleaguered exhibitor industry, which had been counting on both Disney's blockbuster and Warner Bros.' Tenet — now due to launch overseas Aug. 26 — to draw back customers.

    "The decision not to give cinemas a chance to play the film (even if day and date with Disney +) is frankly bewildering and something we’ve of course gone back to them on," said Phil Clapp, chief executive of the U.K. Cinema Association, in a letter set to its members and seen by THR.

    In a later statement, Clapp said the move would seem a "step backwards rather than forwards" by much of the industry.

    "With cinemas across the U.K. now continuing to re-open and welcome back their customers, the decision by Walt Disney Studios yesterday to put Mulan on their Disney+ service and not into cinemas will be seen by many as hugely disappointing and mistimed," he added.

    "A trip to the cinema to see one of the event family films of the year would have been hugely popular, successful and a welcome escape for many after months of restrictions on out of home entertainment. It would also have provided a much needed boost for both audiences and cinemas who need a supply of new films after Christopher Nolan’s Tenet hits cinemas at the end of August."

    Kevin Markwick, who owns the independent Picture House cinema in Uckfield, was more descriptive in his response, joking that he'd be homeless by the time Disney decided to return to exhibitors.

    "Thanks Disney chums, we'll be here warm & waiting for you when you plan to return, having existed on thin air and love & cuddles and happy thoughts. Just give us a buzz when you are ready. I'll be sleeping in a doorway outside the bank soaked in my own wee," he tweeted. He later added: "One other thing special Disney cuddle bums, if sectors of the industry are so sure that VOD and cinemas can live together, why not let us have a bash at showing Mulan at the same time?"

    Another U.K. exhibition executive said the decision was perhaps taken because Disney didn’t want to "risk cinemas refusing to play the film" if it were to be released day-and-date on Disney+. "If Disney think they don’t need cinemas anymore that’s pretty much game over for us all."


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  12. #237
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    The plant based crayfish pic reminds me of a dinner I had with Shi Suxi

    His chef made the most amazing veggie prawns complete with antennae.

    China embraces plant-based protein as consumers look for alternatives to meat amid Covid-19
    Beyond Meat, the US plant-based meat company that launched a successful IPO on Nasdaq in May last year, made its retail debut in China last month
    China’s vegan food market is forecast to be worth nearly US$12 billion by 2023, up from just under US$10 billion in 2018
    Yujie Xue in Shenzhen
    Published: 6:15pm, 6 Aug, 2020


    Plant-based crayfish from Chinese start-up Zhenmeat. Photo: Handout

    With wet markets in China under the spotlight as potential hotspots for fresh coronavirus outbreaks, consumers are looking for alternative sources of protein in their diets. That shift is providing start-ups and their investors with an opportunity to profit from China’s fledgling food tech sector.
    Beyond Meat, the US plant-based meat company that launched a successful initial public offering on Nasdaq in May last year, made its retail debut in China last month with its Beyond Burger available in Alibaba Group Holding’s 50 Freshippo stores in Shanghai. The company also pledged to bring its products to 48 more Freshippo stores across China by the end of the year.
    The partnership with Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, is the latest move in China’s increasingly crowded food tech sector. In June, Yum China – owner of China’s KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell outlets – also joined with Beyond Meat to offer several plant-based beef dishes.
    Hong Kong plant-based meat brand Omnipork announced a partnership with Starbucks in April to offer plant-based pork dishes that cater to an Asian palate. Nestle, the Swiss-based multinational food and drink giant, also announced plans to build a plant-based food plant in China.
    “It's a great opportunity to start educating and introducing this new option to the masses for the first time,” said Matilda Ho, founder and managing director of Shanghai-based food tech venture capital firm Bits x Bites. “There’s been growing interest among Chinese consumers about plant-based meat since last summer.”
    Demand has already been growing in the world’s second largest economy. China’s vegan food market is forecast to be worth nearly US$12 billion by 2023, up from just under US$10 billion in 2018, according to a report issued last year by Euromonitor International. Sales of plant-based meat in China increased from US$7.2 billion in 2014 to US$9.7 billion in 2018, according to the same report.
    “We believe that plant-based meat, as a new food technology, will transform the traditional food industry like the internet transformed traditional industries,” said Zhou Qiyu, marketing manager of Whole Perfect Food, a Shenzhen-based vegan food company founded in 1993.
    A number of factors are driving China’s shift to plant-based food tech. Before Covid-19, an outbreak of African swine fever led to massive culling of pigs, causing a surge in pork prices and rising concerns about food safety in the meat supply chain.
    Separately, the government wants to halve the country’s meat consumption by 2030 to cut carbon emissions and control obesity. Surveys have also found that Chinese consumers are becoming more open to a “flexitarian”, or mainly vegetarian, diet.
    Separate outbreaks of the coronavirus pandemic in two separate wholesale food markets – the original one in Wuhan in January and a second wave in Beijing in June – have also sparked consumer concern when it comes to meat consumption.


    3D printouts of plant-based meat could become alternative food for world’s population

    “Although people are now returning back to the normal routine after Covid-19, consumers are concerned about the potential link between meat products and the virus,” Bits x Bites’ Ho said. “Some are reducing their meat intake as a result. Many are preparing for the worst to come again.”
    While the pace of food tech deals in the capital market has slowed due to the pandemic, Ho said fundamental demand for meat alternatives and consumer preference for plant-based protein technologies are on the increase. Bits x Bites has invested in four alternative protein start-ups, and one company in its portfolio – Israeli chickpea protein specialist InnovoPro – raised US$15 million in its series B funding in April.
    Domestic food-tech players are also raising funds off the back of their innovative plant-based protein products. Shenzhen-based Starfield, founded last year, closed its latest funding round in March, attracting investment from Dao Foods and New Corp Capital, an early backer of Beyond Meat.
    Whole Perfect Food collaborated with Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace in June to launch low-fat, plant-based chicken sausages targeting fitness freaks. Zhenmeat, another Chinese start-up, is experimenting with 3D printed bones to insert into its plant-based meat products to make them seem more like real meat.
    Owing to its Buddhist culture, China has a long history of developing vegetarian dishes that mimic the taste of meat. Whole Perfect Food, one of the country’s biggest vegetarian food producers, generates almost 300 million yuan (US$43.2 million) annually from sales of products such as vegan shrimp and plant-based abalone sauce.


    Products from Beyond Meat are shown for sale at a market in Encinitas, California. Photo: Reuters

    However, compared to Western competitors, Chinese players still have a long way to go. California-based Impossible Foods uses genetic engineering to harvest soy leghemoglobin, or heme, in large volumes from yeast to make its products taste more like meat. Most of the Chinese-developed plant-based meat still has a strong bean taste, according to Zhou.
    Meanwhile, US companies have yet to develop technologies to mimic muscle fibre, which means current plant-based meat is limited to the forms of ground or minced meat, rather than beef steak or chicken breast. Western food tech companies also have not developed a convincing plant-based alternative to higher fat meat like pork, which accounts for more than 60 per cent of China’s total meat consumption.
    Chinese consumers also tend to care more about the texture of the meat, said Xue Yan, secretary general of the China Plant-Based Foods Alliance, one of the first organisations to represent the alternative protein sector in China. He expects to see more local start-ups developing technologies to improve the meat’s texture and coming out with products that cater to Chinese consumers.
    A bigger question for suppliers is whether Chinese consumer interest and curiosity will translate into repeat buying or brand loyalty, rather than one-off purchases.
    “There aren’t enough qualitative breakthroughs in global plant-based meat technology. Domestic consumers’ pursuit of taste and flavour is endless. That’s the greatest challenge for us,” said Zhou.
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    Our newest article - Free from KungFuMagazine.com

    The latest update from Pan Mountain - READ Rebuilding the Northern Shaolin Temple: Part 16: Expansion Plans by Greg Brundage



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    Tai Chi for coronavirus disease 2019 in recovery period

    Tai Chi for coronavirus disease 2019 in recovery period: A protocol for systematic review and meta analysis
    August 9, 2020

    This article was originally published here
    Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Aug 7;99(32):e21459. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000021459.

    ABSTRACT

    BACKGROUND: Assessing the effectiveness and safety of Tai Chi for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in recovery period is the main purpose of this systematic review protocol.

    METHODS: The following electronic databases will be searched from inception to April 2020: MEDLINE, Ovid, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, the Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, VIP Database and Wanfang Database. In addition, Clinical trial registries, like the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry, the Netherlands National Trial Register and ClinicalTrials.gov, will be searched for ongoing trials with unpublished data. No language restrictions will be applied. The primary outcome will be the time of disappearance of main symptoms (including fever, asthenia, cough disappearance rate, and temperature recovery time), and serum cytokine levels. The secondary outcome will be the accompanying symptoms (such as myalgia, expectoration, stuffiness, runny nose, pharyngalgia, anhelation, chest distress, dyspnea, crackles, headache, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea) disappear rate, negative COVID-19 results rate on 2 consecutive occasions (not on the same day), CT image improvement, average hospitalization time, occurrence rate of common type to severe form, clinical cure rate, and mortality. Two independent reviewers will conduct the study selection, data extraction and assessment. Review manager software V.5.3 will be used for the assessment of risk of bias and data synthesis.

    RESULTS: The results will provide a high-quality synthesis of current evidence for researchers in this subject area.

    CONCLUSION: The conclusion of the study will provide an evidence to judge whether Tai Chi is effective and safe for COVID-19 in recovery period.
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    Chollywood rising once more

    Aug 11, 2020 4:56pm PT
    China to Ease Limits on Movie Ticket Sales, Screening Length Starting This Weekend
    By Rebecca Davis


    Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros.

    Cinemas in some parts of China have been told that they may now sell up to 50% of their available tickets for each screening and play films over two hours in length without restrictions starting from Aug. 14, local reports and leaked directives show.

    Concessions may also now be sold — not to snack on in theaters, but, amusingly, as take-away.

    The easing of theater restrictions is a big positive sign for the China box office prospects of Disney’s “Mulan,” which confirmed on Monday it would hit Chinese theaters “soon,” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which is set to debut in the country on Sept. 4.

    COVID-19 has dealt a blow to the global box office dreams of both films, with Disney choosing to forgo theatrical in most markets and release its live-action remake on its own streaming platform.

    Chinese cinemas reopened for the first time in six months on July 20. Initial national guidelines required them to cap ticket sales at just 30% of their max capacity to allow for more extensive social distancing. They also banned the sale and consumption of concessions, and requested that screenings not go over two hours. Local authorities in some regions began asking cinemas to program a short intermission into longer films, but not others.

    Now, the screening length issue appears to cleared up in time for the weekend debut of two hotly anticipated longer titles: a 3D, 4K restoration of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and the censored Chinese war epic “The Eight Hundred,” which both open Friday. “Bad Boys for Life” starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, which runs at 123 minutes, is also set to premiere alongside them.

    Giving cinemas the ability to sell up to half the available seats for each showing will be a welcome boon for exhibitors. Business has been “better than expected,” analysts say, but still slow as audiences appear to await more enticing offerings.

    The most successful cinema in the country, a five-hall, 565-seat venue on Hainan island, sold 1,379 tickets worth $7,000 on Tuesday.

    The images below show the seating availability for two different Imax theaters in Beijing last Saturday night for the opening weekend of “1917.” The red icons indicate seats already taken, while the grey, locked seats are those left empty for social distancing purposes. For a major title on the most popular weekend evening, the 30% capacity rule left most good seats occupied, leaving only options at the very front or side.


    Courtesy of Tao Piaopiao


    Recently, a few other foreign titles have announced an upcoming theatrical outing in China.
    Courtesy of Tao Piaopiao

    They include the 2017 U.S. historical drama “The Current War,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla, which will arrive in China on Aug. 28. Co-produced by Harvey Weinstein and originally set for distribution by The Weinstein Company, the film’s release got caught up in Weinstein’s sexual abuse scandal and did not debut until last fall. It’s made $12 million worldwide so far, with $6 million of that from North America.

    Two Japanese titles are also preparing to hit cinemas. They are the 1999 Cannes competition title “Kikujiro” — written, directed and starring Takeshi Kitano — which has yet to set a date, and “Masquerade Hotel,” a 2019 crime film directed by Masayuki Suzuki that will premiere in China on Sept. 4.
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