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Oxfam forced to suspend Ebola response in DR Congo following pre-election...

Oxfam has been forced to suspend its work in the Ebola ravaged areas of Beni and Butembo, due to violent protests following the announcement that people in these areas wont be able to cast their votes for a new president, when the rest of country goes to the polls this Sunday. Raphael Mbuyi, Oxfams acting Country Director in the DRC said: “This is an extremely worrying situation, as every time the Ebola response has been suspended before weve seen a big spike in the number of new cases. This could mean Ebola spreading to even more people and potentially other countries in the region, putting many more lives at risk. “However, its not surprising that people who have had their votes taken away at the last minute are frustrated and going to the streets. These people deserve to have their say as well. “All parties need to find a way for people who have been devastated by Ebola and have lived through decades of violent conflict, to cast their vote. “Whatever the outcome, there needs to ..

Europe

Tech

Reverse review bomb? AC: Unity draws praise for Notre Dame preservation

Enlarge / The famous cathedral lives on in interactive digital form. At this point, we're actually a little tired of stories about "review bombing," where various put-upon groups of gamers gather together to leave a flood a negative user reviews, often for issues that have nothing to do with the game itself. But this week's flood of positive reviews for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Unity on Steam is a different (and much rarer) story altogether. The impetus for this reverse review-bomb (Review rocket? Review scaffolding? Review hug?) came earlier this week after the tragic fire in Paris' Notre Dame cathedral. On Wednesday, Ubisoft announced it would be donating €500,000 to help rebuild the cathedral that's recreated as a central landmark in Assassin's Creed Unity. On top of that, the company is giving away free copies of the game on its UPlay platform through April 25 as a way to encourage further donations and in order "to give everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre-Dame the best way we know how." "When we created Assassin's Creed Unity, we developed an even closer connection with this incredible city and its landmarks," the company wrote this week. "One of the most notable elements of the game was the extraordinary recreation of Notre-Dame… We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture." The PR-focused altruism seems to have paid off on Steam, where what had been decidedly mixed user reviews for Unity (partially driven by a bug-addled launch) have shifted to hundreds of "Very Positive" reviews in the last four days. Those reviews seem to be pretty evenly split in thanking Ubisoft for the free game and in appreciation for the real-world Notre Dame (and hopes for its rebuilding). "I hope this game will be able to help the repairation [sic] of Notre-DRead More – Source [contf] [contfnew] Ars Technica [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

Celebrities

What Will Hollywood Do with Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin?

The upcoming film Otherhood centers on three empty-nesting suburban mothers who embark on a road trip to New York in an attempt to reconnect with their layabout adult sons. Helmed by Sex and the City writer-producer Cindy Chupack, and based on the 2008 novel Whatever Makes You Happy by William Sutcliffe, the movie is a dramedy in the tradition of the Nancy Meyers oeuvre. The films cast includes Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, and, in a turn that has deeply complicated the films spring release, Felicity Huffman. When Netflix green-lighted the lark of a move in spring 2018, it couldnt have known that one of its stars would be embroiled in the largest academic admissions scandal in national history. Thats where the streaming company has found itself a year later, as Otherhoods fate has become the latest episode in the long-running Hollywood game of weighing programming strategy against a stars bad behavior. The streaming giant allowed as much last week, confirming that it would push the movies release back from next Friday to August 2. Its strategy, as Huffman stares down possible jail time for paying $15,000 to have a proctor boost her daughters SAT scores, appeared to be delay and pray. The decision, company insiders told me this week, wasnt based on Huffmans recent guilty-plea agreement, but was made with the filmmakers prior to her statement. What is interesting, though, is the services comfort in giving it a firm release date down the road. Will the college-admissions scandal—or at least Huffmans role in it—have blown over by late summer? “It is a wait-and-see situation,” said one Netflix insider. “No one can predict the future and no one is trying to. We dont want her personal issues to become the publicity of this movie.” Its a distinctly different strategy than the one being employed on the other Huffman-involved project Netflix is distributing this spring: Ava DuVernays four-part miniseries on the Central Park Five, When They See Us. In the series, Huffman plays prosecutor Linda Fairstein, the woman who led efforts to convict five innocent teenage boys of the 1989 assault and rape of a jogger in the case. Its a role central to the project, and Huffman appears in three of the episodes, but the series is focused more on the story of the wrongly convicted men than on those who did the prosecuting. Netflixs trailer for the series dropped Friday, to correspond with the 30-year anniversary of the incident. DuVernays series will debut on May 31, as initially scheduled. “That whole series is such a bigger thing so they dont think its going to take over the narrative,” said the Netflix source. Netflixs treatment of Huffman—lets call it kid-glove lite—differs somewhat from Warner Bros. Televisions handling of the other famous actress embroiled in the college scandal, Lori Loughlin. The 54-year-old, who, along with her husband, clothing designer Massimo Giannulli, pleaded not guilty earlier this week to charges that they spent $500,000 in bribes to get their teenage daughters into the University of Southern California, will likely not return to the cast of Fuller House (which streams on Netflix). (Earlier reports that Loughlin had been fired were inaccurate, a source at the studio told me.) While Aunt Becky is a millennial national treasure on the Full House revival, the company is under no obligation to hire her for the upcoming season; in light of the accusations and her lack of contrition, there is little to no chance she will return. Scandal in Hollywood dates as far back as the silent era, and the town has long grappled with how to treat the work of artists and performers who turn out to be less than morally fit. But its become a perpetual problem in recent years, especially in the post-#MeToo world, as those in charge run high-stakes equations on what to release, when to release, and, in some circumstances, if to release. “Its interesting to see who comes back,” said the Netflix source. “On one hand, Mel Gibson has been rehabilitated to an extent. On the other hand, Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein have not. What does that mean? Is it just recency? Is it severity?” Huffman, 56, is 1 of 13 parents who have agreed to plead guilty to the charges brought before them. And shes been one of the few showing contrition for her actions, starting with a statement last week: “I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions,” said the statement. “I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues, and the educational community.” Huffmans strategy has differed greatly from Loughlins, as has the Hollywood response. (The former, its worth noting, has had the more prestigious career by any standard of measurement.) In addition to likely losing out on the Fuller House gig, Loughlin was dropped by the Hallmark Channel, where she frequently appeared in its made-for-TV movies and two series for the network, Garage Sale Mysteries and the long-running When Calls the Heart. “Whats interesting is Felicity seems to be taking a play out of Martha Stewarts playbook whereas Lori is not,” said one crisis-P.R. executive. Though Stewart initially fought the felony charges brought against her in the ImClone stock-trading case in 2004, after being convicted, she asked to serve her five-month prison sentence immediately. The term became something of a publicity exercise in her favor as she made lemon soufflé, gained the nickname M. Diddy, and even received a much-talked-about going-away present from a fellow inmate: a gray crocheted poncho that made for a fashion moment. Today, she co-hosts a television show with Snoop Dogg. “Felicity is setting herself up to be rehabilitated,” the P.R. veteran continued. “Nobody wants to go to prison in order to work again, but she is definitely playing to the public sentiment. Lori is digging in, claiming innocence and ruining her value down the road. There must be a legal strategy here, but if you want to come back as an actor and a public figure, you have to factor in the optics.” Netflix seems to be doing just that. The company could have buried Otherhood indefinitely. TRead More – Source [contf] [contfnew] Vanity Fair [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

Awards, beyond symbolism