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GOLDEN GLOBES back on TV, but are reform efforts enough?

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GOLDEN GLOBES back on TV, but are reform efforts enough?

NEW YORK (AP) — Without a TV show, starry red carpet, host, press or even a livestream, the Golden Globe Awards were in chaos last year after scandal broke over lack of diversity, accusations of sexism, and ethical and financial lapses among members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Once known as Hollywood’s biggest, booziest party that regularly drew 18 million television viewers, the doling out of statues was reduced to a 90-minute private event with no celebrities present at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Winners were announced on Twitter, often without specifying what project a person had actually won for.

What a difference a year can make.

After dumping the telecast in the aftermath of a damaging expose by the Los Angeles Times, NBC will put the battered 80-year-old Globes back on the air Tuesday under a one-year deal, as opposed to multi-year contracts of the past worth tens of millions of dollars.

A wave of celebrities plan to attend, along with star presenters and funnyman host Jerrod Carmichael after the embattled controllers of the Globes dug deep into the work of implementing top-down reforms.

There’s now a strict code of conduct, refreshed bylaws, a ban on gifts and new rules on accepting travel and other perks from the industry. Contentious news conferences were dumped, and the pool of awards voters was expanded beyond the 87 Los Angeles-based foreign journalists who once ruled the organization.

But are the powerful publicists, studios and other stakeholders who boycotted in protest satisfied with the changes? And are those changes the beginning — or closer to the end?

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“It’s, by far, not over,” said German journalist Helen Hoehne, who took over as president of the HFPA a year and a half ago. “We always said when we started this journey that it would be ongoing and that it would take some time.”

Kelly Bush Novak, CEO and founder of the A-list public relations firm ID, said more must be done, but she supports steps taken so far.

“We came together … to ensure the future of the Globes, in step with our culture and our shared values as an industry, and we see commendable and seismic progress,” she said. “I’m optimistic that the work will continue.”

Still, Novak acknowledged not all stakeholders are on board ahead of Tuesday’s broadcast, despite sweeping changes aimed at restoring the luster of the Globes.

Last year, publicists like Novak banded together to battle the HFPA, and studios that included Netflix and WarnerMedia cut ties with the organization after the LA Times raised questions about corruption and a range of bias issues over race and sexual orientation.

None of the 87 Hollywood Foreign Press Association members was Black and the group had not had a Black member since at least 2002.

Now, after an effort to increase and diversify its ranks, 199 people decide who gets a Globe, a mix of 96 HFPA members and outsiders from other countries brought in to dilute the power of the old guard. Membership eligibility was expanded from Los Angeles to anywhere in the United States.

Heading into the telecast, Globes voters stand at 52% female, and 51.8% racially and ethnically diverse, including 19.6% Latino, 12.1% Asian, 10.1% Black and 10.1% Middle Eastern. Voters also include those who are LGBTQIA+. In all, 62 countries are represented.

The governing board was expanded from nine to 15 and includes three Black members, two of whom vote on rules and other matters but not awards. Overall, the organization now has six Black HFPA members and 14 Black international Globes voters who aren’t members.

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Perhaps the most significant change: The Globes were purchased by billionaire Todd Boehly, who also owns the Beverly Hilton, Globes producer dick clark productions and the Chelsea soccer team. He’s shifting the voting body from its founding nonprofit status to a for-profit model, pending approval by the California attorney general. He plans to preserve the HFPA’s charitable work with a separate nonprofit entity.

A hotline managed by two independent law firms was opened, with complaints investigated by outsiders. A chief diversity officer was hired, and mandatory racial, sexual harassment and sexual orientation sensitivity training was put in place, required for any HFPA member casting Globe votes.

Michelle Williams, nominated for her turn in “The Fabelmans,” is among dozens of stars panning to attend Tuesday.

“It feels to me like the community as a whole has decided that this organization has really done a lot of work to reform themselves and that we can support change, like we can hold people accountable and then we can support them as they continue to journey in their path towards being a better organization,” she said.

Added Judd Hirsch, nominated for the same film: “We’ll be there. We’ll give them another chance.”

Dumping news conferences at the center of insensitive questions posed to talent who felt obligated to show up helped cool off some critics, but not all.

“I can’t speak for everyone. There may be some reluctance to participate,” Novak said. “We must acknowledge the past and will never forget the damage done. Manifesting a new future requires it.”

Brendan Fraser, nominated for his performance in “The Whale,” will not be there Tuesday. In 2018, Fraser said he was groped by Philip Berk, a former HFPA president who is from South Africa.

Berk was expelled in 2021 after calling Black Lives Matter “a racist hate movement.”

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“I just hope that we can regain his trust over time,” Hoehne said of Fraser.

The same, Hoehne said, goes for Tom Cruise. Last year, he returned his three Golden Globes in protest. With a best picture nod for his long-awaited sequel “Top Gun: Maverick,” he was snubbed for best actor this year.

Under Boehly’s leadership, HFPA members will earn $75,000 a year as his employees, as opposed to current stipends closer to $5,000. They’ll vote on nominations and winners among films and television series submitted for awards consideration. They’ll write for the organization’s website, and organize other projects, the LA Times said, citing a confidential employee memo it reviewed.

The 103 new voting non-members recruited with the help of the National Association of Black Journalists, Asian-American Journalists Association and LGBTQIA+ organizations will not be paid, setting up a two-tier structure aimed at eliminating the taint of financial compensation as more new recruits come on board.

Outraged industry stakeholders had called for the overall Globes voting body to be closer to 300. Other reforms are aimed at battling the perception of influence peddling.

As eventual paid employees, members will be subject to firing without cause. They’re now required to sign a code of conduct every year covering job performance, decorum and ethical behavior.

The 80-year-old group had been stuck in its ways, Hoehne acknowledged.

“We needed to question a lot of things. We needed to look at these bylaws and say, OK, how can we make them better? How can we modernize the association? We had never really done it and not addressed it,” she said.

Although the new pay structure has not yet been implemented, over the past year the HFPA has pushed out several members it accused of violating its standards.

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One was accused of forging signatures on Internal Revenue Service documents, another case related to sexual harassment and a third involved fabricating interviews that never occurred, according to an HFPA spokesperson.

Boehly himself acknowledged the future is uncertain.

“I have nightmares where it doesn’t work too, you know? I get it, you can’t convince all of the people all of the time of anything,” he told the LA Times. “We know we have to add value and we know that we have to be part of the solution.”

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Associated Press Writer Krysta Fauria contributed to this report.

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Follow Leanne Italie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/litalie

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

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Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

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Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
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Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

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A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

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“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

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Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

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Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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