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Oscar boycott gets thumbs down from Americans – poll

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Diversity – or the lack of it – among Academy Award nominees has overshadowed this year’s Oscars, but 44 percent of Americans do not support the idea of boycotting the movie industry’s biggest night, according to a Reuters/Ispsos poll.

Yet that does not mean Americans are happy with the way Hollywood portrays people of colour, or that it makes enough movies that appeal to minorities, the poll showed.

The findings come a month after a furor over the omission of any actors of color among the 20 lead and supporting acting nominees for a second straight year, and the absence from the best picture contest of critically acclaimed hip-hop movie “Straight Outta Compton.”

The omissions prompted directors Spike Lee and Michael Moore, along with actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, to say that they would stay at home on the night of the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony in protest.

Civil rights activist the Reverend Al Sharpton and some groups have called on the public to hold demonstrations and to “tune-out” the ceremony, which is usually watched by about 40 million Americans on television.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll, however, showed that just 23 percent of the 2,423 people polled online agreed with an Oscars boycott over the issue. The same percentage had no opinion, and 44 percent disagreed.

The survey was conducted about three weeks after the largely white, male-dominated Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Oscars, announced it would double the amount of women and minorities among its ranks in the next four years.

However, Americans believe Hollywood has its work cut out for it in terms of the numbers of black, Latino and Asian-Americans in front of and behind the camera, as well as the movies the industry produces.

Forty-four percent of those questioned said they believe Hollywood has a general problems with minorities and 30 percent said movies made in the film industry’s capital do not accurately reflect the racial diversity of the United States.

(The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted from February 8-16 and has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. The poll can be found at

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: R-Entertainment

Quirky design museum seeks greater respect for Dharavi slum

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MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A mobile museum in Mumbai’s Dharavi is highlighting the skills and creativity of residents of one of Asia’s largest slums, in an attempt to dispel the negative image of urban slum dwellers.

The Design Museum Dharavi, which will travel through the area with different exhibits for about two months, was conceived by Amsterdam-based artist Jorge MaƱes Rubio with art historian Amanda Pinatih. They were aided by local artists and designers.

The museum reflects the nomadic nature and disparate skills of the more than 1 million people who live in Dharavi and are largely migrants from across India.

Items on display – arranged on and around a colourful handcart – include clay tea cups and saucers, terracotta water filters, reed brooms, painted wooden objects and textiles, all made with local or recycled materials.

“They live in a crowded space, in tough conditions, yet they are constantly creating, designing, manufacturing and commercialising all kinds of goods,” said Rubio, who was impressed with Dharavi when he first visited four years ago.

“There is so much creativity here, and they are constantly reinventing themselves. Yet we insist on having a biased perspective about slums and the people in them,” he said.

The sprawling slum in the heart of Mumbai is a lively amalgam of flimsy tarpaulin-covered shacks, one-room brick tenements with tin roofs and multi-storied buildings, as well as schools, temples and mosques and scores of small businesses, ranging from auto repair shops to textile units.

Attempts to develop the 240-hectare (590 acre) area in the past decade have run into opposition from residents and activists, and there are now plans for a public-private partnership to build permanent homes and better amenities.

“What’s so unique about Dharavi is that it’s right in the middle of this big city, and there are businesses and craftsmen, some running their family businesses for four generations,” said Pinatih. “Yet it’s looked on as an eyesore, something not desirable. We want to change that perspective.”

Mumbai, India’s financial hub, has long been a magnet for migrants seeking better economic opportunities. But its high rents mean that about half the city’s 22 million inhabitants live in slums, their shacks and open drains sitting cheek by jowl with gleaming high-rise apartments and luxury cars.

Dharavi has featured in several Bollywood movies, as well as the Academy award-winning Slumdog Millionaire (2009), which triggered a wave of slum tours and criticism of slum voyeurism.

The museum will seek to dispel some of the negative notions and encourage a greater respect for urban slums, Rubio said.

“Our main mission is to challenge our perception of slums, favelas, ghettos and other informal settlements around the world, and to acknowledge the citizenship and creativity of these people,” he said. “They have so much to contribute.”

(Reporting by Rina Chandran, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

Source: R-Entertainment

Obey or get wiped out: Australia's surfers bond with their dogs

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Syndey An Australian dog trainer and former surfing champion is using the discipline of surfing as a way of teaching owners to build healthy relationships with man’s best friend.

On sunny morning on the outskirts of Sydney, Chris de Aboitiz heads out on the surf on his stand-up paddle board, joined by Rama and Millie, two rescue dogs who perform tricks, jumping on their owners shoulders and back as he rides the waves.

The Sunshine Coast dog trainer, who is a former world tandem surfing champion, has been hitting the waves with his dogs for around ten years and has since taken to using it as a way to teach people to understand their dogs.

“Surfing is not just about training dogs, it is about understanding them and their behavior,” said Aboitiz.

“When you are surfing with the dogs they are allowed to look around but they have to sit on the board and not move, or we fall off and get wet,” he said. “Training dogs for everyday life is the same.”

Aboitiz travels up and down the Australian east coast with his four dogs, all rescued from shelters, using this unique method to teach owners and encourage them to take a more disciplined approach with their pets.

“So many dogs are given away because people don’t have control, their dog turns from an asset to a liability. The ultimate result is to have less dogs euthanised,” said Aboitiz.

Aboitiz said he has had a positive response from dog owners, some of whom had taken to the waves with him, while others have embraced his training but stuck to land.

“People make a lot of mistakes in training their dogs, who end up being dominant over them. Training the dog is the easy part, you also need to train the owner” he added.

(Reporting by Jarni Blakkarly; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: R-Entertainment

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