Cowell ‘crossing fingers’ for Dragon 3 Oscar win

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cowell is the author of the How To Train Your Dragon novel series

One intriguing subplot at this year’s Oscars can be found in the animated feature film category, where the third How To Train Your Dragon film is up against Toy Story 4.

There’s previous here, as it was Toy Story 3 that stopped the first How To Train Your Dragon winning this award in 2011.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 also lost out in 2015 (to Big Hero 6), so this is the final opportunity for DreamWorks’ fire-breathing franchise to take home an Oscar.

Set in and around a Viking land called Berk, the series tells of a young warrior called Hiccup and his adventures with his loyal dragon Toothless.

One person who’ll definitely be rooting for How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is Cressida Cowell, the British author (and Children’s Laureate) whose books inspired the series.

“I so want them to get it, I can’t tell you how much,” she told BBC News last month. “I’m crossing my fingers, I’m crossing my toes… I’m crossing absolutely everything.

“I could not be prouder of these movies and I really want them to get the Oscar they so deserve.”

Authors aren’t always pleased by adaptations of their books. Yet Cowell said she had found the process “really enjoyable”.

“I’ve loved the whole thing,” she declared. “It has been really fascinating to have an insight into a world I wasn’t really intending to end up in.”

Another bonus is the number of new young readers the films’ success has brought her way.

“Often people see the films as a sort of rival,” she said. “But I’m passionate about getting books in the hands of all children and the films have been wonderful for doing that.”

Two Netflix titles, Klaus and I Lost My Body, are also nominated this year, as is stop-motion animation Missing Link.

If the latter film doesn’t win, it will be the fifth time that Laika – the studio previously nominated for Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings – goes home empty-handed.

Image copyright Netflix
Image caption Klaus tells an alternative version of the Santa Claus origin story

Missing Link was crowned best animated film at the Golden Globes in January, while Klaus – an alternative version of the Santa Claus origin story – won the equivalent prize at the Bafta Film Awards last weekend.

Those films are generally considered to be the front runners in a category that has only been part of the Academy Awards since 2002.

Director Chris Butler was nominated, alongside fellow Brit Sam Fell, when ParaNorman was shortlisted for the animated film Oscar in 2013.

The Liverpool native describes Missing Link as “a kaleidoscopic travelogue” in which a 19th Century English explorer goes in search of a fabled Sasquatch creature.

“I started writing this 15 or so years ago, and the idea was to have a stop motion version of Indiana Jones,” he told the BBC last year.

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Media captionOscar-nominated film writer and director Chris Butler’s top tips

Hugh Jackman provides the voice for the heroic Sir Lionel Frost, while Zach Galifianakis voices the Yeti he discovers in America’s Pacific Northwest.

“Stop motion has a grand tradition of animated ape-men going all the way back to King Kong [1933], so I thought he was the perfect fit for this medium,” Butler continued.

Missing Link was not a box office success when it came out last April, barely recouping a quarter of its reported $100m (£77m) budget.

Toy Story 4, in contrast, made more than $1.07bn (£821m) worldwide, narrowly exceeding the $1.06bn (£813mn) that Toy Story 3 grossed in 2010.

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles on 9 February.

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More than 600 presents stolen from Santa’s grotto

Image caption Gifts from the community Santa’s grotto included children’s books, modelling clay and card games

More than 600 Christmas presents for children have been stolen from a community Santa’s grotto.

The gifts were being kept in buildings at the bowling green in Eastville Park, Bristol, after Father Christmas was unable to deliver them on Sunday.

High winds cancelled the event so the wrapped presents were being stored while organisers worked out what to do.

Volunteers called police and said the theft overnight on Monday and Tuesday had “knocked them for six”.

Friends of Eastville Park had planned a wildlife winter wonderland themed Santa’s grotto along with entertainment and crafts for its first Christmas event for children.

Volunteer Chrissy Quinnell, said: “It’s really hard to conceive that somebody would take children’s presents.”

“Hundreds of people were involved in the preparations but we had to cancel the event because of really high winds,” said Ms Quinnell. “So the fact the event didn’t take place was a bit of a low point for us and then to find this as well.

“We’re all pretty flat at the moment.”

Along with wrapped gifts – including children’s books, modelling clay and card games – thieves also “helped themselves to everything of value” including bottles of mulled wine and catering equipment.

Volunteers said it would take them a while to “bounce back”.

Posting on the group’s Facebook page, Andrew Gee said the loss of over 600 children’s presents was “particularly upsetting”.

“We are currently looking at CCTV footage from the car park area in the hope that something might come up,” he said.

Police are appealing for anyone who knows where the presents are following the burglary between 16:00 GMT Monday and 10:00 GMT Tuesday to get in touch.

A police spokesman said: “We’d appeal for anyone who saw or heard any suspicious activity around the building to contact us.”

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Are award winners and losers out of fashion?

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Vogue editor Edward Enninful (right) awarded the 2019 Turner Prize to the four nominees

“It’s a crazy contest between an orange and a spaceship and a potted plant and a spoon – which one do you like better?”

That’s how singer Anohni, formerly of Antony of the Johnsons, summed up awards in 2005.

She had just won the Mercury Music Prize, but was suggesting it was faintly ridiculous to pit very different artistic works against one another for the sake of a trophy.

The 2019 Turner Prize was a crazy contest between human effigies and a futuristic feminist city and a film about Northern Ireland and a sound installation about Syria.

So, before Tuesday’s prize-giving ceremony, the nominees got together and decided they didn’t want an individual winner to be chosen, instead asking the judges to let them share the coveted art award.

That wasn’t just because it was so hard to compare their works, but because they wanted to make a show of unity in divisive times, and didn’t want one nominee’s political message to be judged as more worthy than the rest.

There had never been a tie for the Turner Prize before. But the prize has changed since the headline-making days of the mid-1990s. Out have gone the indulgent, attention-grabbing sensations by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, and in have come the socially conscious, message-driven works of recent years.

The gesture and the reasons behind it have been warmly received. But now this precedent has been set, will next year’s nominees feel they need to do the same thing?

And after the Booker Prize judges failed to choose one winner this year, is the notion of competition in the arts going out of fashion?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo shared the Booker Prize

“Everyone agrees that competition is the enemy of art,” wrote Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian after the Booker in October. “And yet, on the whole, there is also an agreement to conspire in the notion that it isn’t.”

After all, a competition brings a certain amount of excitement and attention that wouldn’t have been there otherwise – if, for example, the Turner Prize was just another group exhibition.

BBC arts editor Will Gompertz said: “Maybe annual awards like the Turner Prize and the Booker Prize, which also didn’t have a single winner this year, are reaching their sell-by date: an anachronism from a bygone binary age of winners and losers.”

But Turner Prize head judge Alex Farquharson, who runs Tate Britain, told BBC News that Tuesday’s result was “very specific to this year”, and that the award had always evolved in order to stay relevant.

Here are four more recent examples of when artists or judges have decided to share the love – and one where they withheld their love altogether.

Turner Prize 2016

Image copyright PA
Image caption Helen Marten said the art world should show “an egalitarian platform of democracy”

Until this year, the closest the Turner Prize had come to a split award was when the 2016 winner, sculptor Helen Marten, decided to share her prize money (if not the prize itself) with her fellow nominees.

“Promoting a hierarchy is never the most useful thing for anyone involved, or the public,” she told BBC News at the time.

Her Turner win came just three weeks after she did the same thing with the £30,000 prize money from her win at the inaugural Hepworth Prize, after which she said art was “deeply subjective”.

“To a certain extent I believe in light of the world’s ever lengthening political shadow that the art world has a responsibility, if not to suggest a provisional means forward, then at least show an egalitarian platform of democracy,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

Marten was following the example of the winner of the 2015 Artes Mundi prize, the Chicago artist Theaster Gates, who announced he was sharing his £40,000 prize with the nine other shortlisted artists.

James Tait Black Prize for Fiction 2019

Billed as Britain’s longest running literary awards, the James Tait Black Prizes recognise the best fiction and biography books of the year. Olivia Laing won the fiction award in August for her debut novel Crudo, and said she would share the £10,000 prize with her fellow nominees.

“I said in Crudo that competition has no place in art and I meant it,” Laing told the awards ceremony, according to the Guardian.

“Crudo was written against a kind of selfishness that’s everywhere in the world right now, against an era of walls and borders, winners and losers. Art doesn’t thrive like that and I don’t think people do either.

“We thrive on community, solidarity and mutual support and as such, and assuming this is agreeable to my fellow authors, I’d like the prize money to be split between us, to nourish as much new work as possible.”

Booker Prize 2019

It was the judges rather than the nominees who decided to split this year’s Booker Prize between Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.

The Booker rules say the prize must not be divided, but the judges insisted they “couldn’t separate” the two works. Peter Florence, the chair, said: “It was our decision to flout the rules.”

He twice told organisers the judges wanted to declare a tie, and twice the organisers said no. The third time, the organisers relented. “We tried voting, it didn’t work,” Florence said. “There’s a metaphor for our times.”

But the decision was criticised by many, with some suggesting Evaristo would have benefited from having the spotlight to herself, whereas Atwood didn’t need it.

One of the judges was writer Afua Hirsch, who said the panel struggled to judge “the titanic career” of Atwood against “the quality and consistency” of Evaristo. That also raised hackles, because they were supposed to be judging individual novels, rather than careers.

“The outcome would always be imperfect, because it was an impossible task,” Hirsch wrote in the Guardian.

Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2019

The Literary Review’s tongue-in-cheek award for the most toe-curling descriptions of sex spoofed the Booker this year by also declaring a tie. Didier Decoin and John Harvey shared the dubious honour.

“We tried voting, but it didn’t work,” the judges said. “We tried again. Ultimately there was no separating the winners.

“Faced with two unpalatable contenders, we found ourselves unable to choose between them. We believe the British public will recognise our plight.”

Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2018

The judges of the Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction had a different problem in 2018 – they decided none of the nominees were good enough to win. So the award was withheld.

“We did not feel than any of the books we read this year incited the level of unanimous laughter we have come to expect,” judge David Campbell said.

A statement said there were “many amusing and well-written books”, but “none fulfilled the criteria of making all of the judges laugh out loud”.

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The wife of a Capital Gazette shooting victim finishes and publishes the book her husband started

(CNN)John McNamara was a sportswriter for the Capital Gazette when his life was cut short by a gunman who attacked the newspaper’s office in 2018.

His wife of 33 years, Andrea Chamblee, decided to keep her husband’s memory alive the best way she knew how — by finishing and publishing his book.
“I knew how hard he worked on this book, I couldn’t let it go unfinished,” she said.
    Chamblee, who said she was so impressed when she saw McNamara’s boxes of files organized by district, school and player, immediately got to work, recruiting local sportswriters to help.
    She recalled the particularly difficult feat of identifying the players in 178 photos that her late husband left behind.
    “He didn’t save the captions, so I didn’t know who they were or what game it was,” she said. “I printed them all out and carried the file around with me for about three months and found people who can identify them for me. I cross-referenced with yearbooks.”
    What resulted from Chamblee’s determination was a 300-page book recounting the century-long history of basketball in DC, with stories featuring legends such as Edwin Henderson and Dave Bing.
    “The Capital of Basketball” is now on shelves in the DC area, a year after Chamblee set off to complete her husband’s passion project.
    “It’s awfully bittersweet, I keep wanting to show it to John,” said Chamblee. “Part of me wants to keep it as our last love letter together, but on the other hand, I want people to know these stories.”

    A romance rooted in journalism and sports

    Chamblee, who, like McNamara, majored in journalism at the University of Maryland, is a sports enthusiast herself. She describes their relationship as a romance rooted in journalism and sports, adding that they met for the first time at a football game in 1981.
    Chamblee described McNamara’s enthusiasm for sports as infectious, noting that his passion came through in his three books, including “University of Maryland Football Vault.”
    She remembers McNamara as a devoted man.
    “He was devoted to writing, he was devoted to basketball and baseball, and for some crazy reason, he was devoted to me,” Chamblee told CNN. “He would get up early to scrape snow off my car, and make me coffee even though he never touched the stuff.”

    A life and career cut short

    On June 28, 2018, Jarrod Ramos stormed the Capital Gazette newspaper’s office in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five employees: McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.
    It was the single deadliest day for journalists in the United States since 9/11.
    Last week, a judge postponed an insanity trial for Ramos at his defense’s request, according to a spokeswoman for the Maryland Judiciary. He pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible to all 23 counts, including murder, in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, the spokeswoman said.
    The next phase of his trial will be to determine whether the shooter was mentally competent when he committed the crimes.
      Chamblee, who is now an active advocate of gun control, said “the time to have justice for John is gone, we missed it.”
      “We had the chance to protect John and his coworkers and we didn’t take it, we still haven’t taken it.”

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      Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theorist Ordered To Pay Father Of Victim

      A man who has claimed that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax has been ordered by a jury to pay one of the victim’s parents $450,000 for publishing false claims in a book.

      James Fetzer, a retired college professor who co-authored a book called “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook,” was ordered in Dane County, Wisconsin, on Tuesday to pay damages to Leonard Pozner, who filed a defamation lawsuit against him in November 2018. Pozner’s 6-year-old son, Noah, was one of 26 victims killed in the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

      Fetzer has accused Pozner of circulating fabricated copies of his son’s death certificate and also claimed that Noah was not Pozner’s son.

      A mourner grieves at the entrance to Sandy Hook village in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 15, 2012.

      Pozner, who has been a target of conspiracy theorists and stalkers since his son’s death, thanked the jury for “recognizing the pain and terror that Mr. Fetzer has purposefully inflicted on me and on other victims of these horrific mass casualty events, like the Sandy Hook shooting,” the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

      He went on to say that Fetzer and others like him have a right to believe what they’d like as part of their First Amendment right. But, Pozner said, that doesn’t mean they should be free to harass and terrorize others.

      Fetzer reportedly called the damages “absurd” and said he would appeal. The attorneys listed as his representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

      People participating in the March on Washington for Gun Control in 2013 hold signs memorializing those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

      Pozner has filed similar suits against other conspiracy theorists, including against Alex Jones, who runs the website Infowars. In August, a Texas judge turned down Jones’ attempt to toss a defamation suit brought against him by Pozner and Noah’s mother, Veronique De La Rosa, who are seeking more than $1 million in damages from Jones, who has reiterated his belief that the shooting was a hoax and the parents are “crisis actors.” This led to victims’ families receiving death threats and online harassment from Infowars followers.

      Fetzer has maintained that the shooting was a staged federal emergency drill to promote gun control.

      A Star of David for Noah Pozner is seen amongst 25 crosses at a memorial for those killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

      Fetzer’s co-author Mike Palecek and their publisher were also named in Pozner’s lawsuit. Both later reached out-of-court settlements, details of which were not disclosed, according to the State Journal.

      The publisher stopped selling the book and Dave Gahary, the publisher’s principal officer, issued an apology to Pozner.

      “My face-to-face interactions with Mr. Pozner have led me to believe that Mr. Pozner is telling the truth about the death of his son,” Gahary said. “I extend my most heartfelt and sincere apology to the Pozner family.”

      But Gahary later told Splinter News that he has no “discomfort” selling such books and that it’s up to readers to decide what they want to read. He said he also continues to have questions about the Sandy Hook attack.

      Read more:

      Humans can land on Mars by 2035, NASA chief says

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      Princess Beatrice engaged to property tycoon

      Image copyright Princess Eugenie
      Image caption Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi got engaged in Italy earlier this month

      Princess Beatrice is engaged to her boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, her parents have announced.

      The 31-year-old daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, got engaged to the 34-year-old property tycoon in Italy earlier this month.

      The princess, who is ninth in line to the throne, will marry Mr Mapelli Mozzi next year.

      “We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together,” the pair said in a statement.

      “We share so many similar interests and values, and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness,” they added.

      Image copyright Princess Eugenie
      Image caption The couple said they were “extremely happy” to share the news of their engagement
      Image copyright Princess Eugenie
      Image caption Mr Mapelli Mozzi designed Beatrice’s ring in conjunction with British jeweller Shaun Leane

      Beatrice said on Twitter she was “so excited” by the announcement, while her fiance said on Instagram: “You will never be alone my love, my heart is your home.”

      The Duke and Duchess of York said: “We are thrilled that Beatrice and Edoardo have got engaged, having watched their relationship develop with pride.”

      “We are the lucky parents of a wonderful daughter who has found her love and companion in a completely devoted friend and loyal young man. We send them every good wish for a wonderful family future,” they added.

      “I know what a mother feels so I have tears of joy,” the duchess added on Twitter.

      “I am so proud of this sensational news,” she said.

      “Andrew and I are just the luckiest people ever to have two great sons in law.”

      Mr Mapelli’s parents, Nikki Williams-Ellis and Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi, said they were “truly delighted” by the engagement.

      “Our family has known Beatrice for most of her life. Edo and Beatrice are made for each other, and their happiness and love for each other is there for all to see,” they said.

      “They share an incredibly strong and united bond, their marriage will only strengthen what is already a wonderful relationship.”

      Image copyright PA Media
      Image caption Princess Beatrice and her fiance Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi at singer Ellie Goulding’s wedding last month
      Image copyright Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
      Image caption Beatrice (right) and Eugenie at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011

      Beatrice’s sister, Princess Eugenie, married her long-term partner Jack Brooksbank at Windsor Castle in October 2018.

      “I’m so happy for you my dearest big sissy and dear Edo,” she said in an Instagram post congratulating the pair.

      “It’s been a long time coming and you two are meant to be,” Eugenie added.

      Who is Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi?

      Mr Mapelli Mozzi – known as Edo – is descended from Italian aristocracy, according to AFP.

      He is the son of former alpine skier Count Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi, who competed for Britain in the 1972 Olympics.

      His mother, Nikki Williams-Ellis, was formerly known as Nikki Shale, from her marriage to the late Christopher Shale – Edoardo’s stepfather.

      Mr Shale – who died from heart disease at Glastonbury Festival in 2011 – was a senior Tory and close friend of former prime minister David Cameron.

      Mr Mapelli Mozzi has been a friend of Beatrice’s family for some time.

      The BBC’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond, said he believed the pair had been together for about two years – and that they have only been seen together in public a handful of times. He said things have “moved pretty quickly”.

      Read more here.

      Beatrice is the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s granddaughter, and a cousin of the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.

      Her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, divorced in 1996. The duke, Prince Andrew, is the third child of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

      Image copyright Peter Summers/PA
      Image caption Royal Family fans will be preparing to celebrate another royal wedding.

      In addition to his royal engagements, Andrew served as a special trade representative for the government until 2011, when his links to the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein forced him to step down.

      Since their separation the duchess has been involved in various charitable projects, appeared on British and American TV and published several children’s books.

      Further details of Beatrice’s wedding will be announced in due course, her parents said.

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      Gentrification Comes For Harriet Tubman House

      BOSTON ― The Harriet Tubman House stands tall in the South End, one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. In the afternoon, the sun hits the front of the three-story brick building, entering its atrium and halls through picture windows and shining on art dedicated to Black history and culture. A mural, wrapped around the front and right side of the building, celebrates the building’s namesake, other trailblazers and a community with a rich history hidden in plain sight. 

      Since 1976, the Harriet Tubman House’s rooms have been filled with multiple generations of people, mostly Black, who wanted to be fed, nurtured and understood.

      The cherished building, which sits at 566 Columbus Ave., is owned by a 127-year-old community institution, United South End Settlements (USES). Among its tenants are six community organizations that aim to help Boston’s most disempowered. Through those nonprofits, families have been able to find affordable housing, get child care, obtain their GEDs, acquire job training and find solace. The Harriet Tubman House, in a neighborhood unlike many of the homogenous parts of Boston, helped bring a community together.

      But in recent weeks, the building has been mostly empty. It is nowin the process of being sold, news that has sparked protests from community members who wish to preserve an icon of Black history in Boston. But USES told HuffPost that selling the Tubman House was necessary in order for the organization to survive, per publicist Sean Hennesey. 

      The interior of the Harriet Tubman House in Boston.

      Tenants Divided

      In February, USES told its tenants that it was planning to sell the building to real estate development group New Boston Ventures, which would demolish it to make way for a six-story commercial and residential space with a “social enterprise café” for community gathering, according to New Boston Ventures principal David Goldman. The new building will keep the Tubman House’s mural and designate some workspace for USES programs, changes Goldman said were made after listening to community members.

      In May, leaders at USES told tenants that they had 90 days to leave the building (the original deadline was since extended to Nov. 30). Four of the nonprofit organizations under USES’ lease — Multicultural AIDS Coalition, Boston Prime Timers, Boston Debate League and Montessori Parent Child Center — agreed. USES and the development company worked to permanently relocate the four groups to new buildings close to the neighborhood.

      But the remaining two groups, housing rights organization Tenants Development Corporation and reproductive rights group Resilient Sisterhood, refused and stayed behind to fight for the legacy of the Harriet Tubman House and against efforts to gentrify a neighborhood full of Black history. And they brought other community members and alumni of USES programs with them.  

      Demonstrations commenced ahead of community meetings, including two in August that engaged the broader community beyond just tenants. Protesters chanted to let the facilitators of the sale know “we will not be erased.”

      It became a battle to save their home and their history.

      A Legacy Of Black History In Boston

      The Harriet Tubman House is now facing its fourth move in its history. In 1904, six Black women — including one of Tubman’s friends Julia O. Henson — rented the first Harriet Tubman House at 37 Holyoke Street in the South End to help other Black women who had just moved from the South and were looking for a place to stay. Later, Henson donated her home, located on the same street, for the house’s expanding programs. Along with Cornelia Robinson, Annie W. Young, Fannie R. Contine, Jestina A. Johnson, Sylvia Fern and Hibernia Waddell, she organized a settlement house to feed, clothe, shelter and provide community for Black women transitioning to a new city, going on to officially incorporate it in 1906. Tubman was named honorary president of the house just four years before her death in 1913. In 1960, the house was merged with other local settlement houses to form USES.

      In 1976, 566 Columbus Avenue was erected to serve as a modern home for USES’ programs and to honor Tubman’s legacy. It sits on land that was home to Boston’s historic Hi-Hat jazz club, the famed venue where icons like Miles Davis used to play. Behind it was a former Pullman porter meeting place where Black workers would organize. Across the street on Massachusetts Avenue sits the building where W.E.B. DuBois held some of the first NAACP meetings. Just a block away on the same street is the home in which Martin Luther King Jr. lived while attending Boston University.

      Arnesse Brown, head of I Am Harriet, a group formed out of the fight to save the building, often went to the Tubman House as a child. She told HuffPost that the building is one of the last standing pieces of Boston’s Black history that hasn’t been relegated to a mere plaque. She is also the corporate relations manager of TDC, the Black-owned housing and development companyfounded in the Tubman House that won a case that helped secure tenants’ rights across the country. She said she finds it ironic that her nonprofit is being displaced from the building that gave birth to it. 

      “This particular place, where it sits, and it was done purposefully, it sits in a tremendous amount of African American history, some known, some unknown, and it’s still needed,” Brown said. “This is creating more condos in an area that is overwhelmed by condos. But it’s also one of Boston’s most diverse neighborhoods and has been celebrated as such and it’s becoming more and more homogenized, less and less people of color and more and more wealthy and affluent whites.”

      Murmurs about the sale permeated the walls of the Tubman House for more than two years, but nothing had been confirmed. USES leadership met with tenants in December 2017 to discuss a “strategic plan implementation and real estate options for the future,” saying they were “in a period of hearing from the community at large (including you) on these options,” according to an email sent to tenants. 

      A Financial Bind

      In November 2018, tenants received a letter from USES President Maicharia Weir Lytle and board chair Julia Johannsen stating that the organization was “exploring the creation of a new Harriet Tubman House” at one of its other buildings located at 48 Rutland Street, less than half a mile away. The letter also stated that they were “seeking proposals for 566 Columbus Avenue to fund the expansion.”

      Around the same time, USES leaders notified tenants that their spaces would transition to month-to-month leases until June 30, 2019, at the earliest, despite not having a buyer at the time. 

      “Our strategic planning process clearly indicated that … in order to financially survive, we needed to consolidate our programs under one roof,” Weir Lytle told HuffPost. “We knew we were going to enter a real estate process. We did that with as much transparency as we were able to do.” Weir Lytle said USES held community meetings about entering the real estate planning process and after the organization decided it would consolidate to the Rutland Street building.

      Some tenants and community members, however, say that USES wasn’t transparent about the sale. Rachel Goldberg, a real estate investor and community member opposed to the sale, said the organization’s process didn’t actively engage the community. 

      “The process itself was flawed. People were not aware of it,” Goldberg told HuffPost. She suggestedeither repurposing it or changing the position of the property in the market as alternative solutions. “Demolition is really the last and final option and in this case not necessary at all.”

      Weir Lytle told HuffPost that USES explored other options but were left with the decision to either sell the Tubman House or risk shuttering their organization. She and Johannsen told HuffPost that parting ways with the building was hard for them, too, but said that it was necessary for the survival of USES and its programs that benefit thousands. They noted that the building on Rutland Street is not only in better condition than the Tubman House but also old enough to be considered “historic” by law, which would qualify for a tax credit. 

      Since the early 2000s, the organization has had difficulty fundraising and hasn’t been able to recover, said Weir Lytle.

      “We spend over $400,000 a year just to keep the doors open and the lights on. So being able to offload that on our budget and take that money and actually invest it into our programs is really necessary,” she said of the Tubman House.

      Though the building isn’t old enough to be deemed historic by law, community members and the two nonprofits who are against the sale feel as though one of the last pieces of Black history remaining in the South End is being ripped away from them. 

      “This is yet another one of the major Black institutions in Boston that is being bulled over and in this case torn down for condos,” former city councilor Tito Jackson told HuffPost. “To lose these institutions is not only an institutional loss but it’s also a loss of services and a loss of history in particular.”

      Brown and the rest of I Am Harriet know this is about more than a building. They fear what will come of the people who severely needed the Tubman House’s programs, especially those that could be cut because of USES’ new vision.

      “The most people who are going to be impacted are the underserved, the low-income families, the low-income people who lost all of their services,” Brown said, noting that many of the people who benefited from the GED, ESOL and job training services at the Tubman House came from other Black neighborhoods in the city like Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury. “This is a center that served the entire city of Boston, low-income white, low-income Asian, but predominantly low-income Black and Latino.”

      Goldman of New Boston Ventures said the new building will host workspace for displaced USES nonprofit organizations on its ground level. According to Goldman, 17% of the condos in the building will be affordable housing units for local artists, 4% higher than the city’s requirement for new condo buildings. 

      Lilly Marcelin, a member of I Am Harriet and the founding director of the Resilient Sisterhood Project, said that this compromise is not enough. 

      “They’re taking away our properties and they’re giving us crumbs and the crumbs are in the form of units,” she told HuffPost. “But they’re really pitting the community against one another and if you resist the crumbing of luxury condos, it’ll appear as though you aren’t supporting these artists in getting access to the apartments.”

      Weir Lytle apologized on behalf of USES “if people did not feel listened to or heard” in the process of the building’s sale.

      “As a woman of color leading an agency that predominantly serves people of color, I think that’s really unfortunate,” she told HuffPost. “USES is in the business of making sure that our communities that have been traditionally left out and oppressed, which has been the Black community of Boston, have access to services. That is the sole purpose of our organization. And I will continue to tell people that that is what we do.”

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      Does fat shaming help people lose weight?

      Image copyright Getty Images

      After US talkshow host Bill Maher called for fat shaming to “make a comeback”, fellow host James Corden’s impassioned response won widespread support online.

      “It’s proven that fat shaming only does one thing,” he said. “It makes people feel ashamed and shame leads to depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour – self-destructive behaviour like overeating.”

      “If making fun of fat people made them lose weight, there’d be no fat kids in schools.”

      But does Maher have a point? Almost two thirds of adults in England were overweight or obese in 2017. The NHS recorded 10,660 hospital admissions in 2017/18 where obesity was the primary diagnosis.

      In the US, the situation is starker still. More than 70% of adults over 20 are overweight or obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

      On Twitter, the former professional baseball player, Kevin Youkilis, claimed he owed his “whole entire career” to fat shaming, having initially been overlooked by scouts because of his weight.

      That experience, though, is atypical, says Jane Ogden, a professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey.

      “Shaming is the wrong way forward,” she told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Monday.

      “All of the evidence is that fat shaming just makes people feel worse. It lowers their self-esteem. It makes them feel depressed and anxious and as a result of that what they then do is self-destructive.”

      A study by behavioural scientists at University College London found rather than encouraging people to lose weight, fat shaming led people to put on more weight.

      Image copyright Victoria Abraham

      Victoria Abraham, 19, lives and studies in New York city, but grew up in Florida.

      She says that her first hand experience shows Mr Maher is wrong about fat shaming.

      “I have been shamed my entire life for my weight and I am still fat. When nasty comments were made to me as a child I used to go home after school and eat food to make myself feel better.

      “It’s not like people were saying these comments from a place of caring. They just wanted to make me feel small and negative about my body.

      “The people who cared about my health were my parents and my doctor and that’s it. They were the only people who had the right to talk to me about my body. The kids on the street were just teasing me for being different.”

      Victoria stresses that she is now very confident about her body and reflects that if her younger self could have seen her now then her childhood would have been much happier.

      “Back then you weren’t allowed to be fat and happy,” she said. “You weren’t allowed to love yourself no matter what you looked like”.

      It was changing the media she consumed that made all the difference.

      “After I finished middle school I started reading books with fat characters and watching TV with fat women which started to change the way I viewed myself. If you only see media with thin white women then you think something is wrong with you. But when you see beautiful fat women you start to see the beauty in yourself.”

      Victoria also acknowledges the health impacts of obesity.

      “Losing weight is good for your health but I am anti-diet. I have tried most of them and you just put the weight back on after the diet. Now I just try and do more exercise and eat healthier things.”

      “It’s a very hard conversation to have,” Professor Ogden told the BBC.

      “The evidence out there for the impact of excess bodyweight and obesity – on cancer, on diabetes, on heart disease – is very clear. And that’s education we need to have out there.

      “But because the line between getting that message out there and then actually making someone feel ashamed of who they are is so fine, those conversations are very difficult.”

      Image copyright Will Mavity

      Even if you do lose weight, fat shaming can negatively impact health in other ways.

      Will Mavity, 25, lives in Los Angeles. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, he was, he says, “extremely chubby”.

      It is not a description you would use about him today.

      “They would call me double d, and this stuff added up. When I started high school I decided the only way I could avoid this was to never be fat again,” he told the BBC.

      But Will developed an eating disorder.

      “Fat shaming caused me to lose weight, but not in a healthy way. I started to purge after every meal,” he said.

      “I injure myself over and over again because of over-exercise. I feel I have to. I start getting angry whenever I cannot work out. I can’t shake it. Because of the fat shaming, I associate my value as a human being with the way I look.”

      “Shaming anybody for anything doesn’t help you – whatever the thing is that is being shamed,” Professor Ogden explained.

      “It’s just not a positive way to run a society.”

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      Peaky Blinders: Who were the real Billy Boys?

      Image copyright Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. 2019
      Image caption Tommy Shelby has been sent a warning by Glasgow gang the Billy Boys

      The fifth series of Peaky Blinders has seen the arrival of the Billy Boys from Glasgow.

      The gang sent a gory warning to Tommy Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy) and his family as they made their mark on the BBC TV series, which is set in 1920s Birmingham.

      Who were the real Billy Boys?

      Image copyright Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. 2019
      Image caption Peaky Blinders is set in Birmingham in the late 1920s

      Like Birmingham, Glasgow was famous for its razor gangs.

      Author Robert Jeffrey told BBC Scotland the two main gangs in the 1930s were the Billy Boys and the Norman Conks.

      “It was a religious divide,” he said.

      “The Billy Boys were protestants and the Conks, who centred on Norman Street, were Catholics.”

      Mr Jeffrey said the main aim of the Billy Boys was to terrify the Catholic population, who were mainly Irish immigrants, and make them feel as unwelcome as possible.

      Their name came from William of Orange (King Billy), whose victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 secured Protestant rule in England and Scotland, as well as Ireland.

      The Billy Boys came from an area to the east of Glasgow city centre called Bridgeton, or Brigton as it was known.

      The staunchly protestant gang was initially set up to fight against Irish immigrants but as well as the rampant sectarianism, the gang ran the entire neighbourhood, operating illegal scams, protection rackets and providing “stewards” for political meetings and open-air boxing bouts.

      Who was their leader?

      Image copyright Caryn Mandabach
      Image caption In the TV show the Billy Boys are led by Jimmy McCavern (Brian Gleeson)

      The gang took their orders from Billy Fullerton.

      Former journalist Mr Jeffrey, who has written a number of books on Glasgow’s gangs, said: “Like in gangster films and TV shows, such as Peaky Blinders, you needed someone at the top who has got to have the guts and the respect and carry the troops with him.”

      Fullerton always claimed he had been attacked by a gang of Irish Catholic immigrants after performing well in a football match against their team.

      He regularly gave overtly sectarian speeches which aimed to inflame feelings against immigrants.

      According to Mr Jeffrey, Fullerton created a well-organised unit.

      “It was so disciplined, it was like a private army,” he said.

      Mr Jeffrey said that at a time when there was mass unemployment, being with Fullerton and his gang gave the young men a sense of power.

      The Billy Boys took a lead role in activities such as church parades and religious processions but they used them as an opportunity to march through Catholic areas goading and abusing them.

      Image copyright Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. 2019
      Image caption British fascist leader Oswald Mosley is played by Sam Claflin in the series

      They had a flute band and their own songs, including the infamous “Billy Boys”, which was sung in the TV show.

      “The main aim was to damage the Catholic population and make them feel unwelcome,” Mr Jeffrey said.

      “They would march up and down Norman Street, where the Conks came from, and sing ‘we are the Billy Boys’.

      “The intention of that was to terrify the Catholic inhabitants of the area.”

      With up to 800 young men involved, the police were outnumbered and intimidated.

      There were violent skirmishes with other gangs, often involving knives, hammers, broken bottles and chains.

      The activities of the gangs continued throughout the 1930s despite the crackdown from new police chief Percy Sillitoe, who waged war on their activities.

      In the run-up to World War Two, Fullerton and the Billy Boys became involved with Oswald Mosley’s fascists, providing a bodyguard for their meetings.

      The war, as well as the police crackdown, brought that chapter of Glasgow’s gang culture to an end.

      Fullerton died in 1962 at the age of 56.

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