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Meghan and Harry sign a deal with Netflix

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced this week that they have set up a production company to create streaming content for Netflix.

“Through our work with diverse communities and their environments, to shining a light on people and causes around the world, our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope,” the couple said in a statement. “As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us, as is powerful storytelling through a truthful and relatable lens.”

Reportedly, Meghan and Harry won’t be appearing on screen much, although Meghan has proven acting chops from her pre-royal career. They may, however, show up in front of the camera for select nonfiction projects. Harry was recently shown in a Netflix documentary on the Paralympic Games, and Meghan has lent her voice talents to narrate Elephant, a Disney nature documentary.

The financial details of the agreement were not disclosed, but it is a multi-year deal that could be worth north of $100 million. Content production already underway reportedly includes an animated series about famous women.

The couple currently live in Hollywood’s back yard, having recently purchased a home in Santa Barbara after moving to Los Angeles earlier this year with their baby son, Archie. —Margaret Brady

'Black Panther' star Chadwick Boseman has died at 43

Celebrated for his portrayal of T’Challa in Black Panther and beloved by fans of the Marvel cinematic universe, actor Chadwick Boseman passed away this week after a four-year battle with cancer. Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2016, but had not publicly disclosed this diagnosis.

A South Carolina native and graduate of Howard University, Boseman had a career of portraying famous African American men, from Jackie Robinson to James Brown to Thurgood Marshall. He expanded this impressive register with the role of T’Challa, with Black Panther being the “most tweeted” movie of 2018 and regarded for its representation of Black characters and its platform for a Black hero, rather than people of color being portrayed as mere sidekicks.

Black Panther is a movie made by people with an acute understanding of the black experience, and as a result of that understanding they have the ability to properly communicate a type of culture and character that really has never been fully fleshed out on the silver screen before,” Cinemablend writer Conner Schwerdtfeger wrote in a 2016 article on the film’s importance.

Many of Boseman’s colleagues in the Marvel franchise and beyond have shared tributes to his life, celebrating his integrity and originality. Among the celebrity expressions of grief and condolence, Chris Evans, known for his tenure as Captain America tweeted Friday, “Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist”; director Ava Duvernay shared, “May you have a beautiful return, King. We will miss you so.”

Shortly following Boseman’s passing, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster ordered that flags be lowered to half-mast throughout the state to "honor the life, contributions, and memory of a truly extraordinary son of South Carolina." —Maggie Sicilia Bickerstaff

French newspaper Charlie Hebdo republishes cartoons, as terror trial begins

Five years after a deadly terror attack ripped through Charlie Hebdo’s offices, 14 alleged accomplices of the terrorists are going on trial. Charlie, a satirical paper, has taken the opportunity to republish the Muhammad cartoons at the center of the violence.

The cartoons are being rerun under the headline “Tout ça pour ça,” (“All that for this.”) Eight editorial staffers, including director Stéphane Charbonnier, two policemen, and two other people died after brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi went on a killing spree at Charlie’s offices in Paris. They were motivated by outrage over the publication of cartoons featuring Muhammad, which they considered an intolerable sacrilege. The world reacted with outrage at the bloodshed, and the phrase “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) became a rallying cry on social media.

The gunmen involved in the attack were all killed by French police, but an investigation identified 14 people who allegedly helped the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly, who killed multiple people in a related attack on a Jewish market. The trial opened in Paris on Wednesday, but only 11 alleged accomplices were present; the others are presumed dead or hiding with ISIS in Syria. The trial will not be broadcast, but it will be filmed for posterity. Under French law, the defendants face the possibility of life imprisonment. —MB

United Airlines furloughs 16,000 employees

Thousands of United Airlines employees stand to lose their paychecks as airlines continue to stagger under the economic impact of COVID-19. “The pandemic has drawn us in deeper and lasted longer than almost any expert predicted, and in an environment where travel demand is so depressed, United cannot continue with staffing levels that significantly exceed the schedule we fly," CNBC quoted an employee memo.

The company said on Wednesday that more than 16,000 employees would be furloughed, joining more than 7,000 workers who have already volunteered to leave through programs like early retirement and buyouts. The furloughs mean that employees can be called back to work if demand for air travel kicks back up, but United CEO Scott Kirby has indicated that without a vaccine, demand will remain about half what it was in the pre-COVID era.

United competitor American Airlines announced its own cuts last week, putting 19,000 jobs on the chopping block and making plans to shrink its business by 30 percent. Labor and industry groups alike have been pleading for more financial assistance from the federal government. Earlier stimulus funds prohibited the airlines from making any job cuts until September 30.

The lay-offs could have been worse—last month, United warned as many as 36,000 jobs were on the chopping block. But that’s cold comfort to the employees who will be starting the fall without a paycheck. —MB

Portland protester kills Trump supporter

Last Saturday evening the ongoing protests in Portland, Oregon turned deadly when a protestor shot and killed a Trump supporter. The killing occurred when a caravan of Trump supporters brandishing American flags and MAGA caps passed through downtown Portland, where protesters have been gathering for the past three months to protest the police-involved killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and most recently, Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Aaron Danielson, a member of the conservative group Patriot Prayer that advocates free speech and opposes big government, was part of a group of cars parading through downtown after a political rally at Clackamas Town Center in Portland. The killer, Michael Reinohel, is shown on video aiming at the victim and then fleeing the scene. His sister, who asks not to be identified by name, said of Reinoehl that he has been estranged from the family for years. Of the shooting, she says, "On the one hand, this whole thing surprises the daylights out of us, because we always thought he is a lot of bark, not a lot of bite . . . But he's also been very impulsive and irrational."

Two days after the deadly clash, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s high-rise condominium was targeted by protestors as they set fire to his residential building, which also houses families with children. Ted Wheeler announced the following day that he is looking for a new place to live and expressed to fellow residents his “sincere apologies for the damage to our home and the fear that you are experiencing.” The president of the Portland Police Union also spoke up, seemingly criticizing Mayor Wheeler as he said that the city was “set up for a tragedy like Aaron Danielson’s murder” thanks to ineffective policies and lack of leadership. —Mariel Lindsay

Global Protests Rise Against Big Pharma

Last week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced the number of total deaths due to COVID-19 and also revised guidelines for testing. When the new numbers showed Covid-19 deaths fell from 154,000 to little more than 9,000, some began to clamor that the pandemic had been outrageously exaggerated. Others claimed that the CDC must have been unduly influenced by White House politics, with the administration seeking to downplay the virus’s dangers. According to the director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, “a small number of people have COVID ascribed as the sole cause of death. However, it is also clear that advanced age and several other underlying diseases lead to bad outcomes with COVID infections. The people dying were not going to die but for the acquisition of COVID.”

At the same time, mass protests across Europe and in parts of Asia are clamoring against Big Pharma’s push for mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, and their belief that Microsoft founder and business magnate Bill Gates is seeking to solidify power via people’s fears of the virus. Perhaps most notable was the protest in Berlin, Germany, where thousands gathered to protest their government’s rigid coronavirus restrictions. American environmental lawyer and activist Robert. F. Kennedy, who opposes mandatory vaccinations, gave a speech before the cheering crowds.

According to Kennedy’s statement posted to his Instagram page, protesting crowds reached an astounding 1.5 million people, gathered to “peacefully protest the alarming global rise of Medical & Digital Totalitarianism.” He also claimed that “Pharma-controlled mainstream media blacked out all coverage...ignoring what were perhaps the largest crowds in German history.” A few media outlets did briefly address the protest in retrospect, with The New York Times calling it “a strange mix of conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists, and ordinary citizens . . .fueled by conspiracy theories and exacerbated by distrust in the traditional media.” —ML

Good News of the Week

Girls who relied on Taco Bell wiFi to attend school receive over $100k in crowdsourced support

As schools across the country turn to virtual learning for this academic year, many students run the risk of losing access to education due to lack of Internet or other resources. 

Last week, a showed a photo of two young girls sitting outside a California Taco Bell in order to access wifi for their online schooling. The tweet also acknowledged the extreme digital access gap in Silicon Valley, and the prospect that these two girls are not the only ones struggling to connect to their online learning platforms. The tweet cites that over 40 percent of Latinos in the area are without internet.

Last week, a viral tweet showed a photo of two young girls sitting outside a California Taco Bell in order to access wifi for their online schooling. The tweet also acknowledged the extreme digital access gap in Silicon Valley, and the prospect that these two girls are not the only ones struggling to connect to their online learning platforms. The tweet cites that over 40 percent of Latinos in the area are without internet.

When Jackie Lopez discovered these girls’ plight, she also learned that the girls and their family were on the verge of being evicted from their rented room, and she started a GoFundMe campaign to help support them. Lopez expected the campaign to help raise a few months’ rent and get the family internet access.

Lopez’s goal for the GoFundMe was met—and largely exceeded. An NBC story reports that more than $115,000 have been raised to help these girls, and they’ve also been given wireless hotspots from the Salinas City Elementary School District, where the girls are enrolled. Due to the large amount of donations, Lopez also connected the family with an accountant to help manage these funds. —Maggie Sicilia Bickerstaff

Watch of the Week

If you have been quarantine snacking, you’re not alone. This week a gospel singer became an Internet sensation with an ode to quarantine snacks. Atlanta-based singer K.D. French went viral this week with her deliciously soulful song, “At the Fridge Again!” French recorded each voice of a nine-part gospel song chronicling frequent quarantined visits to the refrigerator, and the many tasty rewards she’s found there.

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