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19 Feb

Ruling party candidates newly vulnerable in presidential and legislative election

ECUADOR (WNF) - Ecuadorians, reported to be in a mood for change, vote for a president, vice president and 137-member National Assembly. The country’s recession and President Rafael Correa’s absence on the ballot open the door for centre-right and right-wing parties in the Assembly, but only if they can unite.
A run-off vote, if necessary, will be held on Apr 2.

The opposition is widely described as splintered, and not in a position to take on the governing Alianza Pais. In October the party chose former vice president Lenin Moreno to succeed Correa, who has led the country for a decade. Moreno, who is in a wheelchair, was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1998 robbery. His running mate will be Jorge Glas, the present vice president.

The country’s earthquakes in Apr and May 2016 killed hundreds of people and exacerbated the country’s economic problems.

Though the legislature scrapped presidential term limits, Correa decided not to run. His relatively enduring popularity has fallen alongside the price of oil and end of the global commodity boom. They bankrolled some 40 per cent of his social programmes and the country’s spending. He introduced reforms to make up the shortfall that have not been popular with his base.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Moreno’s main contenders are likely to include Guillermo Lasso, of the right-wing Creo party, and Cynthia Viteri, who is running on the Unity coalition ticket. Teneo Intelligence told the newspaper in October that a highly fractured opposition field “will be a major advantage for Moreno.” #21799 Updated: 01/15/2017 WRITE THROUGH UPDATE TO REFLECT DEVELOPMENTS

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24 Feb

Princess Di fashion exhibit begins events marking 20th anniversary of her death

UNITED KINGDOM (WNF) - The first of the memorial events marking the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana is a fashion exhibition at her London home that celebrates her renowned chic.
The curator of the exhibition, Eleri Lynn, describes her as the most photographed woman in the world. “Every fashion choice she made was closely scrutinized,” according to Lynn.

The mother of Princes William and Harry and ex-wife of Prince Charles, she died in a car crash in Paris on Aug 31, 1997.

The show, at Kensington Palace, the princess’ home for 15 years, is titled, Diana: Her Fashion Story. London’s Evening Standard newspaper reports that the exhibits range from the glamorous evening gowns worn on engagements in the 1980s, to the chic Catherine Walker suits that made up her working wardrobe in the 1990s. The show includes the pink Emanuel blouse Diana wore for her engagement portrait by Lord Snowdon in 1981 and the Victor Edelstein velvet gown that she wore at the White House when she danced with American actor John Travolta.

The royal residence will also see the gardens transformed for the anniversary. #21946 Published: 12/07/2016

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26 Feb

89th Academy Awards likely to ease diversity criticism

UNITED STATES (WNF) - The 89th Academy Awards look certain to avoid the controversy of the last two years when no American actors of African or Asian heritage were nominated.
Best Picture nominations for Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, Moonlight, which has already picked up a Golden Globe for Best Drama, and Loving, starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, are now favourites to address the diversity call. La La Land, a romantic musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and Kenneth Lonergan’s drama Manchester By the Sea, starring Best Actor frontrunner Casey Affleck, appear to be leading the way into the top awards.

Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation seemed initially a surefire Oscar contender to ease tensions over the lack of diversity, but the movie was seen as tainted after reports that Parker, the writer and director as well as the star, was charged and acquitted of rape while in college, and that the alleged victim killed herself in 2012.

The Oscars faced criticism again in 2016 after no non-white performers were nominated in the acting categories for a second consecutive year. The Hollywood Reporter, which reported the criticism, pointed out that such nominations are not unknown. It noted that in 2002, Denzel Washington and Halle Berry famously became the first black actors to win both lead acting awards in the same year. Washington’s Oscar was his second. Sidney Poitier was the first black man to win an Oscar.

Taking a cue from the diversity argument at the 2016 Oscars, a number of Asian-American actors have now emerged as fierce advocates for their own visibility in the industry. The New York Times reports that the issue has crystallised in a word - whitewashing - which upbraids Hollywood for taking Asian roles and stories and filling them with white actors. #21764 Updated: 01/23/2017 UPDATED to reflect nominations

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26 Feb

Eclipse tourists primed for first of two solar eclipses of the year

ARGENTINA, AFRICA (WNF) - The first of two solar eclipses in 2017 is annular, and the best viewing bet for eclipse tourists is Patagonia in southern Argentina. The other country in the path of totality, Angola, is a riskier bet because it will be in the middle of its rainy season.
Another safe bet is an eclipse cruise in the Indian Ocean, as captains can choose destinations along the path between Argentina and Angola that skirt heavy cloud.

Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Namibia are all in its path, but they will only see a partial eclipse. Rain is likely to wash out the view in the three African countries.

Annular eclipses lack some of the drama of the total kind, which occur when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned in an almost exactly straight line and turn day into night. In an annular eclipse, the Moon is more distant from Earth, making it appear too small to cover the whole Sun. The treat is the fiery ring that appears around the edge of the Moon.

The second eclipse of 2017, in August, will track a path across the continental United States. #21828 Published: 09/15/2016

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