China Struggles to Contain Omicron Before Winter Olympics 

The Chinese city of Tianjin ordered a second round of COVID-19 testing for all of its 14 million residents on Wednesday after an initial screening of the population found 97 positive cases. The port city is about 100 kilometers southeast of the Winter Olympics host city of Beijing.   Authorities locked down several of the port…

Ronnie Spector, ’60s Icon Who Sang ‘Be My Baby,’ Dies at 78 

Ronnie Spector, the cat-eyed, beehived rock ‘n’ roll siren who sang such 1960s hits as “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain” as the leader of the Ronettes, has died. She was 78.  Spector died Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer, her family said.  “Ronnie lived her life with…

US Charges Man With Giving Illegal Drugs to Athletes for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. prosecutors have charged a man with supplying performance-enhancing drugs to athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, a first under a federal law allowing criminal charges against doping conspirators at events involving U.S. athletes, broadcasters and sponsors.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said Eric Lira, 41, distributed drugs, including human growth hormone, “for the purpose…

Indigenous People Lead Push for 2030 Winter Olympics, Paralympics in Vancouver

A group of Indigenous people is prepping a bid to bring the 2030 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to Vancouver, Canada. It would be the first time any Olympics was hosted by Indigenous people and could lead to further reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations. The group was known as the “Four Host First Nations” when…

Novak Djokovic Says He Made Mistakes in His Travel Documents Before Arriving in Australia

Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked male tennis player, says errors were made on his entry documents about his activities in the weeks before traveling to Australia, adding another layer of controversy in his fight to compete in the year’s first major “Grand Slam” tennis tournament.  The Serbian star issued a statement Wednesday saying his assistants…

Award-winning Ugandan Writer Charged for Offending Museveni and Son

A Ugandan author who wrote critical comments about President Yoweri Museveni’s son has been charged with offensive communications. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija’s lawyer says he was tortured in detention.   Award-winning writer Kakwenza Rukirabashaija appeared before a court Tuesday and was charged with two counts of offensive communication. Rukirabashaija was arrested on December 28 and taken from his Kampala…

Australian Court Releases Djokovic from Detention, Reinstates Visa 

Novak Djokovic has been cleared by a judge to remain in Australia, ending a five-day standoff between the government and the world’s top-ranked male tennis player over his COVID-19 vaccination status.   Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly Monday overruled the government’s decision to revoke Djokovic’s visa and ordered officials to return his passport and release him…

‘Power of the Dog,’ ‘West Side Story’ Win at Untelevised Golden Globes

“The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story” on Sunday won the top film prizes at an untelevised Golden Globes that was largely ignored by Hollywood, with awards unveiled via a live blog without any of the usual A-list glamour.    Jane Campion’s dark Western “The Power of the Dog” became only the second…

Bob Saget, Beloved TV Dad of ‘Full House,’ Dead at 65

Bob Saget, a comedian and actor known for his role as a widower raising a trio of daughters in the sitcom “Full House,” has died, according to authorities in Florida. He was 65. The Orange County, Florida, sheriff’s office was called Sunday about an “unresponsive man” in a hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando,…

Golden Globe Awards Carry On, But Without Stars or a Telecast

If the Golden Globe Awards aren’t on television, will anyone care? That’s just one of the uneasy questions facing the embattled Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is proceeding with its film awards Sunday night without a telecast, nominees, celebrity guests, a red carpet, a host, press or even a livestream. In a year beset by…

Italy Sends Back Parthenon Fragment in Landmark Loan to Greece

Greece this week takes delivery of an ancient fragment that once adorned the Parthenon temple, the country’s most important archeological site. The return from a museum in Italy is being seen as the strongest nudge yet to the British Museum, which holds the largest collection of Parthenon Sculptures and has refused for centuries to return…

NFL Teams Providing Female Fans with Clubs of their Own

Verdell Blackmon showed up for a recent NFL game and left no doubt who she was cheering for that afternoon. Blackmon’s hair, makeup, nails and dress were bright hues of blue, and Detroit Lions Women of the Pride was printed on her black shirt. The Lions season ticket holder was one of about 50 women…

Marilyn Bergman, Oscar-Winning Composer, Dies at 93

Marilyn Bergman, the Oscar-winning lyricist who teamed with husband Alan Bergman on The Way We Were, How Do You Keep the Music Playing? and hundreds of other songs, died at her Los Angeles home Saturday. She was 93. She died of respiratory failure not related to COVID-19, according to a representative, Jason Lee. Her husband…

Washington’s Trapeze School Knows How to Help You Raise Your Spirits

Whether you’re looking to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, explore the aerial arts, or just raise your spirits, the Trapeze School in Washington, DC, will make sure things are looking up. Maxim Moskalkov visited the school and met its many instructors. Camera: David Gogokhia …

The Sounds of Bells – Meet Natalia Paruz, A Unique NYC Street Musician

More than two decades ago, Natalia Paruz was hit by a car in New York. While recovering from the accident, she went to Austria, where she saw bells on necks of cows. And that simple vision prompted a huge change in her life. Anna Nelson has the story, narrated by Anna Rice. Camera: Natalia Latukhina…

In Photos: Egyptians Celebrate Coptic Christmas

In Egypt, Christmas celebrations are officially sanctioned by Islamic clerics for people of all faiths, despite objections from some conservative Muslims. On Friday, January 7, the holiday season concluded with Coptic Christmas, observed by the vast majority of Christians in Egypt. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this photo essay, with words by Elle Kurancid.  …

Sidney Poitier, First Black Actor to Win Best Actor Academy Award, Dies at 94

Sidney Poitier, who broke through racial barriers as the first Black winner of the best actor Oscar for his role in Lilies of the Field, and inspired a generation during the civil rights movement, has died at age 94, an official from the Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday.  Eugene Torchon-Newry, acting director general of…

Beauty is Only Skin Deep in China ‘Micro-procedure’ Craze

Midday queues snake out to the street in an upmarket Shanghai neighborhood, but it’s not lunch at the city’s hottest restaurant that people are lining up for — it’s cosmetic “micro-procedures”, which are surging in popularity in China.     The “lunchtime facelift” and other “medical aesthetics” procedures are booming as a new generation of Chinese consumers…

Peter Bogdanovich, Director of ‘Paper Moon,’ Dead at 82 

Peter Bogdanovich, the ascot-wearing cinephile and director of 1970s black-and-white classics like The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon, has died. He was 82. Bogdanovich died early Thursday morning at his home in Los Angeles, said his daughter, Antonia Bogdanovich. She said he died of natural causes.  Considered part of a generation of young “New Hollywood” directors,…

A Season of Joy — and Caution — Kicks Off in New Orleans

Vaccinated, masked and ready-to-revel New Orleans residents will usher in Carnival season Thursday with a rolling party on the city’s historic streetcar line, an annual march honoring Joan of Arc in the French Quarter and a collective, wary eye on coronavirus statistics. Carnival officially begins each year on Jan. 6 — the 12th day after…

Grammy Organizers Postpone Awards, Cite Omicron Risks

The Grammy Awards were postponed Wednesday due to what organizers called “too many risks” due to the omicron variant. No new date has been announced. The ceremony had been scheduled for January 31 in Los Angeles with a live audience and performances. The Recording Academy said it made the decision “after careful consideration and analysis with city…

Rio de Janeiro Cancels Street Carnival Parade for 2nd Consecutive Year Amid Omicron Outbreak 

Exactly two years after the World Health Organization issued an alert about “a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause” in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that evolved into the global COVID-19 pandemic, the world is now struggling under the weight of the fast-moving omicron variant of the coronavirus that sparked the disease.…

Mali Capital’s Modernization, Growth Threaten Traditional Urban Architecture

Mali is well known for its mudbrick Sudano-Sahelian architecture, which is also seen in buildings in the capital, Bamako, one of the fastest growing cities in Africa.  But rapid modernization is also threatening the unique structures and the face of the city, as Annie Risemberg reports from Bamako. …

2021 Box Office Closes With More Fireworks for ‘Spider-Man’

Hollywood closed out 2021 with more fireworks at the box office for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which topped all films for the third straight week and already charts among the highest grossing films ever. But even with all the champagne popping for “No Way Home,” the film industry heads into 2022 with plenty of reason…

Actress Betty White Dies Just Shy of 100th Birthday

Comedic actress Betty White, who capped a career of more than 80 years by becoming America’s geriatric sweetheart after Emmy-winning roles on television sitcoms The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died, less than three weeks shy of her 100th birthday, People magazine reported Friday, quoting her agent.  Her agent and close…