Harvey Weinstein expelled from motion picture academy


Harvey Weinstein, once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences  Saturday amid a barrage of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations going back decades. 

In a statement, the Academy, as it is commonly known, said “well in excess of the required two-thirds majority” of its members voted to oust Weinstein, the co-founder of Miramax and The Weinstein Company. 

“We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues,” read the statement from the Academy’s Board of Governors, “but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.”

The Academy held an emergency session to discuss the allegations against Weinstein, which were reported by The New Yorker and The New York Times. 

The move by the Academy, the world’s top movie organization and home to the Oscars, is almost unprecedented.

Weinstein was ousted a week ago from The Weinstein Co., which now is struggling to survive this scandal.

He has denied the accusations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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China says it has right to bar people from Hong Kong after British activist expelled


HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Thursday it had the right to bar people from Hong Kong, a day after a British activist was denied entry to the former British colony, and that it had complained to Britain after it demanded an explanation.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that promises it a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland.

But critics have accused the government of bending to the will of Communist Party leaders in Beijing and of a gradual watering down of the territory’s freedoms, including freedom of speech and right to protest.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was “very concerned” that Benedict Rogers, a co-founder of the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission, was denied entry to Hong Kong on Wednesday and demanded an “urgent explanation” from Hong Kong and China.

It came a week before a sensitive Communist Party leadership meeting starts in Beijing.

Johnson also said Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, rights and freedoms were “central to its way of life”.

Rogers has been a vocal critic of China-ruled Hong Kong’s treatment of political activists, including that of jailed student leader Joshua Wong. He believes the decision to bar him was made by Chinese officials after the Chinese Embassy in London had warned him earlier, through a British member of parliament, that he wouldn’t be allowed in.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the central government had a responsibility for foreign matters related to Hong Kong.

“The central Chinese government and the special administrative region government handle the relevant issue in accordance with the law,” Hua said. “Allowing or not allowing people in is China’s sovereignty … Hong Kong affairs are a purely internal matter for China.”

She said China had lodged a solemn representation with Britain, meaning an official complaint.

When asked about the incident on a radio talk show, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam agreed.

“Ultimately, under the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s mini-constitution), the central government is responsible for foreign affairs,” Lam said.

Asked if immigration controls fell under Hong Kong jurisdiction, Lam said: ”It has to be considered whether foreign affairs are involved during the process of immigration.

Hua Chunying, spokeswoman of China’s Foreign Ministry, speaks at a regular news conference in Beijing, China, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

“If you say everything falls under Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, this is not what the Basic Law says.”

Rogers, speaking to Reuters shortly after arriving in London, said Beijing’s statement confirmed his assumption that the decision to boot him out was made not by Hong Kong but by Chinese authorities.

He described the interference in Hong Kong’s immigration controls as “very alarming” and “a very serious threat to ‘one country, two systems’.”

“China has now revealed its hand. The world ought to have woken up a long time ago, but I think now they really ought to wake up to what this means for ‘one country, two systems’,” he said.

“I‘m very sad for what this means for Hong Kong.”

The former head of Hong Kong’s civil service turned pro-democracy activist, Anson Chan, said the case was a “serious breach” of the Basic Law.

Article 154 of the Basic Law says Hong Kong “may apply immigration controls on entry” of foreigners into Hong Kong.

“The Immigration Department must have sought instructions from on high,” she told Reuters. “They (Beijing) are sending a message that if you dare speak out on Hong Kong … you will not be allowed in.”

Amnesty International’s East Asia director, Nicholas Bequelin, suggested China’s definition of what constitutes national security is creeping into Hong Kong.

“In China if you’re critical of the political system, you’re committing a national security crime and this is exactly the type of thing ‘one country, two systems’ should protect against.”

In response to a Reuters’ request for comment on whether China was involved in Rogers’ denial of entry, Hong Kong’s Immigration Department said it did not comment on individual cases.

China has admitted asking a group of British MPs to cancel a visit to Hong Kong in 2014 during the massive pro-democracy protests, of which Joshua Wong was a leader, that paralysed highways for 79 days.

Hong Kong has, on occasion, barred entry to individuals including dissidents, such as former leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing and a Danish sculptor, Jens Galschiot, who made a Tiananmen sculpture.

Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing and James Pomfret in Hong Kong; Editing by James Pomfret and Nick Macfie


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Cuban diplomats expelled by US amid ‘hearing loss’ claims


A Cuban flag waved in front of the embassy in Washington DCImage copyright
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Two Cuban diplomats have been asked to leave the US

Washington has expelled two Cuban diplomats after US embassy staff in Havana suffered mysterious physical symptoms, the US state department said.

It was not immediately clear what had happened, with spokeswoman Heather Nauert saying there were no “definitive answers about the source or cause”.

Reports suggest US diplomats could have suffered hearing loss related to the use of covert sonic devices.

Cuba’s foreign ministry said it was investigating the allegations.

It called the expulsion of its staff unjustified but said it was willing to co-operate with Washington to clarify what had happened.

“Cuba has never, nor would ever, allow the Cuban territory to be used for any kind of action against accredited diplomats or their families,” the ministry said.

The Associated Press reports the diplomats’ hearing loss could have been linked to sonic devices which emit inaudible sound waves that can cause deafness.

US officials, speaking to the agency anonymously, said investigations had determined devices had been deployed either inside or outside diplomats’ homes.

Ms Nauert said staff began complaining of the strange symptoms late last year.

While they were not life-threatening, she revealed that a number of people had been brought home to the US as a result.

Ms Nauert said the government was taking it “very seriously, and there is an investigation currently under way”.

It is understood that the two expelled Cuban diplomats left Washington DC in May, the BBC’s Will Grant reports from Havana.

Washington and Havana only re-established ties in 2015, following 50 years of hostilities between the two countries.


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