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Rousing ghosts: Ukraine famine film warns Europe

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Rousing ghosts: Ukraine famine film warns Europe

BERLIN (Reuters) – Fading memories of 20th century horrors are leaving European society less resilient to similar evils that could lie ahead, Polish director Agnieszka Holland said at the premiere of “Mr Jones”, her film about the 1930s Ukrainian famine.

Director Agnieszka Holland poses during a photocall to promote the movie Mr. Jones at the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Holland, who during a decades-long career has made films about the Nazi Holocaust and Communist tyranny in eastern Europe, pointed to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union as a sign lessons from the past were being forgotten.

“I think that the experience of World War Two, the Holocaust, gave to Europe especially some kind of vaccination out of fear that things like that can happen again, but it evaporated in the last few years,” she told reporters at the Berlin Film Festival before her film was presented on Sunday.

The film, one of 17 competing for the festival’s Golden Bear award, tells the story of Gareth Jones, the Welsh journalist who escaped the gilded cage of 1930s Moscow to discover that the facade of a thriving Soviet economy rested on Ukrainian corpses.

The famine of 1932 and 1933, when leader Josef Stalin killed millions by diverting train-loads of wheat to prop up the Russian heartlands, still burdens ties between Russia and Ukraine, which is fighting a war against Moscow-backed separatists in its east.

Holland said the story of Jones, who risked his life to tell the world of peasants eating tree bark and orphaned children eating their own siblings in Ukrainian villages, was especially important in an age of “fake news”.

Written by Andrea Chalupa, a New Yorker of Ukrainian descent, the film contrasts Jones’s heroism with his more successful rival Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard), whose initial compromises become lies as the New York Times correspondent seeks to preserve his status as doyen of Moscow society.

“The story I was telling myself was I have access,” said U.S. actor Sarsgaard. “I was the gatekeeper for the Western world and if I went away there’d be no access. I betray myself and my profession by degrees.”

Duranty’s drugs-, drink- and sex-fueled orgies, clearing houses for journalists seeking gossip, are shot in rich colors that contrast with the unsaturated whiteness of wintry Ukraine.

In one scene, starving Ukrainians look on ravenously as Norton eats an orange, its peel the one dab of color in the frame.

Holland said she hoped the film would spark a reevaluation of the importance of journalism and its ability to tell the truth, blaming Britain’s Brexit vote on “essential lies” and “manipulation” by wealthy financial backers.

Now, she said she was worried about the efforts of Steve Bannon, former adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, to mobilize politically in Europe. “He is financed by the richest industrialists,” she said. “The only tool we have is free, courageous media.”

But the film’s immediate task was to remind the world about the least known of the massacres that disfigure Europe’s 20th century, said British actor James Norton, who plays Jones.

“There are ghosts calling for this spotlight to be shone,” he said. In 1935, Jones, not yet 30, was murdered by Soviet agents while reporting from Mongolia.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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Jussie Smollett has ‘no plans’ to meet with Chicago police Monday, despite request

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Jussie Smollett has 'no plans' to meet with Chicago police Monday, despite request

Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett say there are “no plans” for him to meet with Chicago police Monday for a follow-up interview about his alleged assault, even though law enforcement has requested one.

“There are no plans for Jussie Smollett to meet with Chicago police today,” Anne Kavanagh, a spokesperson for Smollett’s attorneys, said in a statement on Monday obtained by The Wrap. “Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate. Smollett’s attorneys will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf.”

On Saturday, a Chicago police spokesperson said Smollett is no longer considered a victim in the case that allegedly involved an attack by two masked men who shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at the actor and, “This is MAGA country!”

JUSSIE SMOLLETT’S LAWYERS DENY HE PLANNED ATTACK AFTER CHICAGO POLICE CLAIM HE’S NO LONGER CONSIDERED A VICTIM IN CASE

Police earlier said that the “trajectory of the investigation” shifted and that they wanted to conduct another interview with Smollett about the alleged hate crime last month. Police released two Nigerian brothers who were held for questioning about the reported attack. They were released late Friday without charges.

L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the "Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils" episode of "Empire."

L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the “Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils” episode of “Empire.”
(Fox via Getty)

“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the ‘Empire’ case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement at the time. “We’ve reached out to the ‘Empire’ cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”

‘EMPIRE’ STAR JUSSIE SMOLLETT SPEAKS OUT AFTER ALLEGED HATE CRIME ATTACK

The men were arrested Wednesday night after investigators tracked their movement on surveillance cameras in the area where Smollett said the attack occurred. Smollett, who is black and openly gay, said he was attacked by two masked men on Jan. 29 as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. Police have said they were investigating the attack as a possible hate crime and earlier considered Smollett a victim.

Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, vehemently denied that the attack was a hoax, previously telling press, “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

Singer Jussie Smollett during his concert at The Troubadour Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in West Hollywood, Calif. Smollett opened the concert with an emotional speech, saying he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win. (AP Photo/Andrew Dalton)

Singer Jussie Smollett during his concert at The Troubadour Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in West Hollywood, Calif. Smollett opened the concert with an emotional speech, saying he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win. (AP Photo/Andrew Dalton)

JUSSIE SMOLLETT DEFENDED BY CRISIS MANAGER AFTER POLICE SAY PHONE RECORDS WERE ‘INSUFFICIENT’

“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity,” the statement continued. “Jussie and his attorneys anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate. At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to “unnamed” sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.”

A rep for Smollett did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Fox News’ Louis Casiano and Michael Tobin and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Jussie Smollett has ‘no plans’ to meet with Chicago police, despite their request

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Jussie Smollett has 'no plans' to meet with Chicago police, despite their request

Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett say there are “no plans” for him to meet with Chicago police Monday for a follow-up interview about his alleged assault, even though law enforcement has requested one.

“There are no plans for Jussie Smollett to meet with Chicago police today,” Anne Kavanagh, a spokesperson for Smollett’s attorneys, said in a statement on Monday obtained by The Wrap. “Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate. Smollett’s attorneys will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf.”

On Saturday, a Chicago police spokesperson said Smollett is no longer considered a victim in the case that allegedly involved an attack by two masked men who shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at the actor and, “This is MAGA country!”

JUSSIE SMOLLETT’S LAWYERS DENY HE PLANNED ATTACK AFTER CHICAGO POLICE CLAIM HE’S NO LONGER CONSIDERED A VICTIM IN CASE

Police earlier said that the “trajectory of the investigation” shifted and that they wanted to conduct another interview with Smollett about the alleged hate crime last month. Police released two Nigerian brothers who were held for questioning about the reported attack. They were released late Friday without charges.

L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the "Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils" episode of "Empire."

L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the “Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils” episode of “Empire.”
(Fox via Getty)

“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the ‘Empire’ case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement at the time. “We’ve reached out to the ‘Empire’ cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”

‘EMPIRE’ STAR JUSSIE SMOLLETT SPEAKS OUT AFTER ALLEGED HATE CRIME ATTACK

The men were arrested Wednesday night after investigators tracked their movement on surveillance cameras in the area where Smollett said the attack occurred. Smollett, who is black and openly gay, said he was attacked by two masked men on Jan. 29 as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. Police have said they were investigating the attack as a possible hate crime and earlier considered Smollett a victim.

Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, vehemently denied that the attack was a hoax, previously telling press, “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

Singer Jussie Smollett during his concert at The Troubadour Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in West Hollywood, Calif. Smollett opened the concert with an emotional speech, saying he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win. (AP Photo/Andrew Dalton)

Singer Jussie Smollett during his concert at The Troubadour Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in West Hollywood, Calif. Smollett opened the concert with an emotional speech, saying he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win. (AP Photo/Andrew Dalton)

JUSSIE SMOLLETT DEFENDED BY CRISIS MANAGER AFTER POLICE SAY PHONE RECORDS WERE ‘INSUFFICIENT’

“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity,” the statement continued. “Jussie and his attorneys anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate. At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to “unnamed” sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.”

A rep for Smollett did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Fox News’ Louis Casiano and Michael Tobin and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Al Sharpton says Jussie Smollett should ‘face accountability to the maximum’ if attack was orchestrated

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Al Sharpton says Jussie Smollett should ‘face accountability to the maximum’ if attack was orchestrated

When “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett said he was attacked by two masked men yelling racist and homophobic epithets, as well as “This is MAGA country,” MSNBC host Al Sharpton came out in support of the star.

“We can’t make people love each other, but we can sure hold them accountable if they harm each other,” Sharpton said at the end of his “Final Thoughts” segment headlined, “We’re with you Jussie.”

But amid multiple reports this weekend that Smollett may have been involved in orchestrating the attack, Sharpton, who made his name in the 1980s as the spokesperson Tawana Brawley in what turned out to be false claims she was raped by four white men, changed his tune on-air on Sunday.

ROBIN ROBERTS SAYS COPS FELT JUSSIE SMOLLETT WAS CREDIBLE AT TIME OF INTERVIEW

Sharpton still thinks someone should be punished, but his tune has changed as these new reports emerged.

“If it is found that Smollett and these gentlemen did, in some way, perpetrate something that is not true, they ought to face accountability to the maximum,” Sharpton said referring to the actor and two men linked to him who have been questioned by police. “Let us get to the bottom of it, and let justice be done, no matter who is right or wrong.”

POLITICIANS WHO JUMPED ON JUSSIE SMOLLETT ATTACK CLAIM IN AWKWARD SPOT

Smollett, who is black and openly gay, has claimed he was attacked by two masked men early on Jan. 29 as he walked to his Chicago apartment from a Subway restaurant. Smollett alleged the men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at him.

Sharpton famously lost a defamation suit when the Brawley attack was eventually found not to have happened. Now, there are reports that Smollett might have also orchestrated an alleged attack — as local reports have cited sources saying the attack was a hoax, though the Chicago Police Department has not confirmed that.

Last week, Chicago police questioned two Nigerian brothers in the reported attack but released them Friday without charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the pair had given officers information that had “shifted the trajectory of the investigation.”

FOX NATION’S ‘SCANDALOUS: THE MYSTERIOUS STORY OF TAWANA BRAWLEY’ GOES IN-DEPTH ON THE LIE THAT MADE AL SHARPTON FAMOUS

“While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident, ” Guglielmi said Sunday.

In this 1988 file photo, Tawana Brawley speaks to reporters with her adviser the Rev. Al Sharpton in Chicago.

In this 1988 file photo, Tawana Brawley speaks to reporters with her adviser the Rev. Al Sharpton in Chicago.
(AP)

Smollett received an outpouring of support from politicians and celebs when he first went public about the alleged attack in January. Smollett reportedly has claimed at least one of the attackers said to him, “this is MAGA country,” in reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan.

The Brawley rape allegations in the late 1980s left an entire community on the brink of “civil war” – and a recent Fox Nation documentary took a closer look at one of the most racially-charged legal sagas in American history.

The New York teen’s claims — in which she said she was allegedly raped in the woods by multiple white men in Wappingers Falls, New York, and then left wrapped in a feces-covered plastic bag with racial slurs written on her body — helped springboard the careers of activists including Sharpton. But after an extensive investigation filled with twists and turns, a grand jury found the allegations to be an elaborate hoax.

Smollett’s lawyer has denied his client had anything to do with his alleged attack in Chicago.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” attorneys Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson said in a statement. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

Fox News’ Alex Pappas, Greg Norman and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.

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