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    On a high school trip to Jordan's ancient city of Petra, a group of teenagers sneak out at night to drink beer, smoke weed and gossip around a bonfire. A girl asks her frisky boyfriend to take things slow. By global Netflix standards, its first original Arabic series 'Jinn' hardly pushes the envelope. But when the show debuted last week, many Jordanians were shocked and appalled by a program that had been billed as a point of national pride. Some Twitter users blasted the series as pornographic. Government ministers vowed to censor it. Jordan's grand mufti denounced it as 'a moral degradation.' Lawmakers called an emergency session. The attorney general demanded the cyber-crimes unit 'take immediate, necessary action' to pull it from Netflix. While the government has not made good on its threats, the outrage nonetheless has shaken Jordan's self-image as a bastion of tolerance in a turbulent region. It reflects a cultural gap between the reputation of the country's Western-allied ruling elite and conservative Muslim public, many of whom consider it 'haram' — forbidden — to drink alcohol, smoke marijuana or even kiss before marriage, and look to television to deliver morality. 'Jordan likes to think of itself as miles ahead of other Arab countries,' said Jordanian media analyst Saed Hattar. 'But the reality is, although social media is flooding millennials with more modern content, our traditional values and morals have not changed.' The five-episode thriller centers on a private school in the capital of Amman, a bubble of liberalism and privilege in the country. School buses cart the teenagers off to a wide-open desert haunted by ancient demons that make strange and terrifying things happen. Prior to the release, the internet was buzzing with pride in the first Netflix original from the Middle East. Directed by Lebanese filmmaker Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya and locally produced by Elan and Rajeev Dassani, the series, featuring an all-Jordanian cast and backdrop, sought to portray Arab youth outside Hollywood stereotypes and shine a long-awaited spotlight on Jordan's nascent TV industry. In a Netflix statement, Bassel Ghandour of Jordan's first Oscar-nominated film 'Theeb,' hailed the series as a 'real turning point' for Jordanian representation. Entertainment bloggers praised 'Jinn' as an antidote to the grim news from the volatile region. Jordan rolled out the red carpet for the series premiere at an upscale Amman golf course flocked by paparazzi. The show appeared in line with the liberal, tolerant image that the Western-educated King Abdullah II and his glamorous wife Queen Rania have promoted for Jordan in spite of the country's widespread poverty, largely tribal society and authoritarian legislation. As the U.S.'s closest Arab ally, Jordan is one of the largest recipients of American aid. But the royal family's cosmopolitan reputation doesn't entirely reflect Jordanian society. Almost immediately following its debut, excerpts from the pilot episode spurred scathing posts on social media. Complaints were various. For starters, the actors curse in Jordanian dialect. 'This will encourage teenagers to use indecent language in the streets, with their families,' said Laith al-Tantawi, a 31-year-old Amman resident. Of all places, these transgressions occur in the historic site of Petra, the country's crown jewel of tourism. But what seemed to bother viewers most was the kiss. 'I will never allow my children to watch it. This is impossible,' said Khetam al-Kiswani, 42, a mother from Amman. 'It contradicts our morals, society and our religion, it contradicts everything.' Hattar, the media analyst, said that while far more scandalous American shows flood the country's screens, he had never before seen Jordanian actors kiss on TV. 'Much of the country lives in camps and rural areas and follows the orders of patriarchal society. They do not condone such public displays, even if these things happen privately,' he said. Jordan's Royal Film Commission, which had granted 'Jinn' producers approval to shoot, sidestepped responsibility, saying in a statement that it neither 'condones or approves or encourages the content of a film or series.' It tried to play down the controversy as the outcome of 'divergent opinions that reflect the diversity of Jordanian society.' The Tourism Ministry, which had preemptively welcomed the show as a promo for Petra, also tried to deflect blame, berating its 'lewd scenes' as 'a contradiction of national principles ... and Islamic values.' Jinn's progressive defenders dove into the online combat. In an op-ed, journalist Daoud Kuttab argued that because a mere 1% of Jordan subscribes to Netflix, 'to say that it corrupts society is an exaggeration.' Jordanian TV critic Maia Malas wrote that the show's brazen exploration of young love defies Jordan's long legacy of self-censorship. In response to a request for comment, Netflix said the series 'seeks to portray the issues young Arabs face as they come of age, including love, bullying and more.' It added: 'We understand that some viewers may find it provocative but we believe it will resonate with teens across the Middle East and around the world.' So far, attacks on 'Jinn' have been rhetorical. Although Jordan's attorney general and information ministry threatened to block local access, it's still unclear if and how the government will take action. 'It's highly unlikely they'll end up censoring it,' said Hattar. 'It's a familiar strategy. The loudest voices are calling for harsh punishment, and the government needs to look like it's responding.' Netflix said content removals are rare but that it complies with take-down requests from authorities. The streaming site drew global condemnation earlier this year when it obeyed Saudi Arabia's order to pull an episode of its show 'Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,' which criticized the crown prince, from the kingdom's Netflix feed. Despite the firestorm, Netflix is accelerating its push to the region, announcing that its second Middle Eastern original, 'Al-Rawabi School for Girls,' would launch later this year. Its Jordanian director, Tima Shomali, says the series, with its focus on the travails of young Arab women, strives to push cultural boundaries and spark conversations in her country. ___ DeBre reported from Jerusalem.
  • Jane Fonda is joining a group of Hollywood power players to host a fundraiser for presidential candidate Steve Bullock on Thursday, a show of support that could lend credibility among Democratic donors to the little-known Montana governor. The Academy Award-winning actress, activist and fitness guru is among a handful of Los Angeles agents, producers and lawyers hosting the event at the home of model and professional golfer Anna Chervin and her talent-agent husband, Ted, according to an invitation obtained by The Associated Press. Bullock, a cowboy-boot-wearing executive from a rural state won by President Donald Trump, may seem like an unusual benefactor of campaign cash from members of the Hollywood elite often associated with far-left causes. But his success enacting some progressive priorities such as expanding Medicaid, combined with his distinction as the only White House contender to get reelected at the same time his state broke for Trump, has led some donors to take a closer look. 'A progressive governor from a Trump state has a great story to tell,' said Rose Kapolczynski, a veteran Democratic strategist in California. As for Fonda, Kapolczynski says she 'is a great person to land as a host because she is known by absolutely everyone in the donor community and has decades of credibility.' A Fonda representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The fundraiser comes as Bullock is in a tiff with the Democratic National Committee, which established polling and fundraising benchmarks to qualify for next week's debates in Miami that Bullock didn't reach after getting a late start with his campaign. Although Bullock's campaign says he will qualify for the upcoming July debate in Detroit, subsequent ones will have an even higher requirement threshold, underscoring the necessity for Bullock to line up donor support. Fonda is not the only top celebrity or donor to show interest in Bullock. Jeff Bridges, the Academy Award-winning actor known for his role as 'The Dude' in the cult classic 'The Big Lebowski,' has donated to his campaign. Country musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen helped with a fundraiser in the past. And DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, a massive player in the Hollywood money game, cut a check to Bullock's political action committee for $5,000 last year, Federal Election Commission records show. Bullock also had an event co-hosted for him last month by Democratic megadonor Steve Rattner, according to an event invitation obtained by the AP Thursday's fundraiser is also co-hosted by talent agent Carter Cohn, TV producer Aaron Meyerson and 'Empire' producer Matt Pyken. ___ Follow Slodysko on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BrianSlodysko
  • The debate over reparations for descendants of slaves catapulted from the campaign trail to Congress on Wednesday with an impassioned plea from actor Danny Glover and others for lawmakers to address compensation for America's blighted heritage of racism and Jim Crow laws. Glover, who told a House Judiciary panel that his great-grandfather was enslaved, called a national reparations policy 'a moral, democratic and economic imperative.' It was Congress' first hearing in a decade on the topic and comes amid a growing discussion in the Democratic Party on reparations and sets up a potential standoff with Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes the idea. 'This hearing is yet another important step in the long and historic struggle of African Americans to secure reparations for the damage that has been inflicted by slavery and Jim Crow,' Glover told the panel. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who drew new attention to the issue with his 2014 essay, 'The Case for Reparations,' told the panel 'it's impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery.' Sen. Cory Booker , D-N.J., a presidential contender, testified that U.S has 'yet to truly acknowledge and grapple with the racism and white supremacy that tainted this country's founding and continues to cause persistent and deep racial disparities and inequality.' But another writer, Coleman Hughes, who at times testified over boos from the audience, said black people don't need 'another apology,' but safer neighborhoods, better schools, a less punitive criminal justice system and better health care. 'None of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery,' said Hughes, who says he is the descendant of blacks enslaved at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The legislation, which would set up a bipartisan commission to study the issue, spotlights a national conversation over the legacy of slavery. Several of the party's presidential candidates have endorsed looking at the idea, though they have stopped short of endorsing direct payouts for African Americans. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Wednesday called reparations a 'serious issue' and said he expects the resolution will see a vote in the House. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who became the sponsor of a measure to study reparations after the retirement of Democratic Rep. John Conyers, said to the packed hearing room, 'I just simply ask: Why not and why not now?' But McConnell opposes reparations, telling reporters Tuesday he doesn't want reparations for 'something that happened 150 years ago.' 'We've tried to deal with the original sin of slavery by passing civil rights legislation,' McConnell said, and electing an African American president, Barack Obama. 'It would be hard to figure out who to compensate' for slavery, the Kentucky Republican said, and added: 'No one currently alive was responsible for that.' While reparations has been moving toward the mainstream of the Democratic Party, the idea remains far from widely accepted, both among Democrats and the public at large. In a Point Taken-Marist poll conducted in 2016, 68 percent of Americans said the country should not pay cash reparations to African American descendants of slaves to make up for the harm caused by slavery and racial discrimination. About 8 in 10 white Americans said they were opposed to reparations, while about 6 in 10 black Americans said they were in favor. Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the top Republican on the panel, said he respects the beliefs of those who support reparations. He called America's history with slavery 'regrettable and shameful.' But he said paying monetary reparations for the 'sins of a small subset of Americans from many generations ago' would be unfair, difficult to carry out in practice and, in his view, likely unconstitutional. Top Democrats pushed back Wednesday on McConnell's comments, with one calling his remarks 'sad.' Rep. Kathleen Clark, D-Mass., a member of the leadership team, said the country's history of slavery is a 'stigma and a stain' that continues to be felt today. That McConnell wants to 'write that off,' she said, is ignoring the impact and legacy of the country's history. 'We cannot look to him for any sort of moral authority or guidance on how we should be addressing the issues of slavery and the impact today on income inequality, curtailing opportunity and civil rights and voting rights,' she said. Republicans invited Hughes and also Burgess Owens, a former Oakland Raiders football player and Super Bowl champion, who recently wrote a Wall Street Journal editorial eschewing reparations. The debate over reparations for black Americans began not long after the end of the Civil War. A resolution to study reparations was first proposed in 1989 by Conyers of Michigan, who put it forward year after year. Visitors lined up Wednesday to attend the hearing. Abibat Rahman-Davies, 20, from Southern California, said she was waiting more than two hours. 'I think that this has been a part of history that we've ignored for too long so it's very important for me to be here and to see this part recognized,' she said. The hearing Wednesday coincided with Juneteenth, a cultural holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved black people in the United States. ___ Whack is The Associated Press' national writer on race and ethnicity. Follow her work on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/emarvelous .
  • South Carolina's Democratic leader says he granted MSNBC exclusive live rights to this weekend's party convention because the network agreed to show 21 presidential contenders speak and it offered a strong chance to reach black voters. The coverage arrangement for the event, a stop in a key early primary state and a chance for candidates to make their case before next week's opening debate, angered other media outlets. C-SPAN says it shuts them out of a previously open political event it has covered live for many years. Journalist Roland Martin, former host at TV One, said the 'terrible' decision hurts black-owned media outlets. Fox News Channel lodged a complaint. 'These are the events that should be open to all media,' said Steve Scully, political editor at C-SPAN, which just spent $13,351 to give out tote bags to attendees of Saturday's session. State Party Chairman Trav Robertson said Wednesday that MSNBC did not pay for the exclusive arrangement. 'This is a fair and equitable way to get time for every candidate running for office,' he said. Two of MSNBC's African American anchors, Joy Reid and the Rev. Al Sharpton, will be live all day from the event, interviewing each candidate after he or she addresses the convention. The network was chosen in part, Robertson said, because of Reid and Sharpton's appeal to black voters, who make up the majority of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina. MSNBC's audience is 21% African American during the week, but jumps to 30% on the weekend, when Reid and Sharpton have regular shows. The network has received some criticism for a lack of diversity with its all-white weeknight lineup of hosts from 4 p.m. to midnight. Other outlets may tape Saturday's proceedings, which run all day in the capital city of Columbia, but may not broadcast anything until three hours after its afternoon conclusion. Scully said he doesn't blame MSNBC for making the deal; journalists always seek exclusivity. But it has made him check with Democratic officials in states like Iowa and New Hampshire to make sure other events won't face similar restrictions. Robertson said more than 100 members of the media had been given permission to cover the event, albeit with restrictions, and that no credential request had been denied. 'We understand that any time we try to do something new or different, we're going to take criticism,' he said. The deal further solidifies MSNBC, which is simulcasting next week's debate with NBC News, as a friendly forum for Democrats. While it will show live speeches from 21 Democratic candidates this weekend, the network aired none of Republican President Donald Trump's campaign kickoff in Florida on Tuesday night. ____ Bauder reported this story from New York.
  • Goodbye, Norma Jean? Officials say someone climbed a more than two-story tall Hollywood public art piece and stole a statue of Marilyn Monroe. The statue depicting Monroe in her iconic pose from the 1955 film 'The Seven Year Itch' went missing early Monday from the 'Four Ladies of Hollywood' gazebo. Los Angeles Councilman Mitch O'Farrell says a witness saw someone climb the gazebo on the Hollywood Walk Fame and saw off the statue. Los Angeles police say investigators have recovered fingerprints from the gazebo. The gazebo was erected in 1994. It pays tribute to women in film, with depictions of Dolores Del Rio, Dorothy Dandridge, Mae West and Anna May Wong making up the structure's pillars. Monroe, whose real name was Norma Jeane Mortenson, died in 1962.
  • Tiffany Haddish says she chose to join a boycott of Georgia after she read the state's new anti-abortion legislation. Haddish announced this week that she had cancelled a show in the state and explained her reasoning Tuesday at the launch of a 'Harry Potter' mobile augmented-reality game. 'The reason that I cancelled the show, is because I read that bill,' she said. 'And I feel like everyone should just take the time to read it.' The new law bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. It was signed into law on May 7. Haddish had been scheduled to perform June 22 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Major Hollywood studios have said they may reevaluate filming in Georgia. Celebrities like John Legend and Spike Lee have joined calls for a boycott. The 'Girls Trip' star on Tuesday was the host of an event that unveiled the new 'Wizards Unite' video game at Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 'I love everything about 'Harry Potter' because it teaches unity, it teaches friendship, it teaches loyalty, it teaches to believe in something,' Haddish said.
  • Iconic art works by Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gaugin, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso went on show Wednesday in a major exhibition at Moscow's Pushkin Museum. The treasures hail from the early 20th century collection of Russian businessman Sergei Shchukin, whose collection was confiscated and then divided up by the Soviet state. The exhibition unites works from the Pushkin, Hermitage and other museums in what is arguably the most complete version of his collection, offering viewers the chance to see it as Shchukin himself conceived it. The exhibition, 'Shchukin. Biography of a collection,' brings together works amassed by the Russian cloth magnate and his brothers on numerous trips they made to Paris before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Shchukin showed his collection at his own home in Moscow, displaying works that were radically new at the time. He didn't care what public opinion thought and pursued pieces that even he sometimes found hard to appreciate, but which he thought were compelling and important. 'Shchukin was prepared for a lack of understanding from society — this was total — not just his own business milieu but the art community, critics and excellent Russian artists, who did not accept Matisse or cubist Picasso,' Pushkin Director Marina Loshak told The Associated Press. 'He did all this knowingly, he expected such reaction and he was delighted by it.' Loshak sees Shchukin as a pioneer who influenced the course of 20th century art history. He bought Gaugin, Matisse, the French Impressionists and Picasso when these artists were deeply unfashionable in Europe. But the array of priceless masterpieces now hanging throughout the Pushkin, including Matisse's renowned 'Dance', is testament to his unique taste and personal conviction. Shchukin 'wanted to be first, to discover things first and show them to the world and to create a new history' Loshak said. She described Shchukin as one of the great art collectors, in a Russian tradition which includes banker Pavel Tretyakov (whose Russian art collection fills Moscow's Tretyakov State Gallery). 'It's hard to find someone who collects contemporary art in this way, with such passion and making it their life's object, these kind of people are few, but they existed in Russia,' Loshak said. ___ 'Shchukin. Biography of a Collection' and a parallel exhibition of contemporary art from the private collection of Fondation Louis Vuitton run from June 19 - September 15 at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
  • A revolver believed used by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh to kill himself has sold for about $146,000 at an auction in Paris. An individual buyer whose name was not released bought the 7mm pocket revolver for 130,000 euros plus taxes on Wednesday. The weapon was discovered in the 1960s in fields in the northern French village of Auvers-sur-Oise. Van Gogh is widely believed to have shot himself in the chest there in 1890. The family of former owners of the inn where the painter died two days later decided to sell the revolver after it was featured in a 2016 exhibit at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum that charted his descent into mental illness. Van Gogh's suicide was questioned in a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors who concluded he was fatally shot by two teenagers.
  • Joy Harjo, the first Native American to be named U.S. poet laureate, has been ready for a long time. 'I've been an unofficial poetry ambassador — on the road for poetry for years,' the 68-year-old Harjo wrote in a recent email to The Associated Press. 'I've often been the only poet or Native poet-person that many have seen/met/heard. I've introduced many poetry audiences to Native poetry and audiences not expecting poetry to be poetry.' Her appointment was announced Wednesday by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, who said in a statement that Harjo helped tell an 'American story' of traditions both lost and maintained, of 'reckoning and myth-making.' Harjo's term is for one year and she succeeds Tracy K. Smith, who served two terms. The position is officially called 'Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry,' with a $35,000 stipend. Harjo will have few specific responsibilities, but other laureates have launched initiatives, most recently Smith's tour of rural communities around the country. 'I don't have a defined project right now, but I want to bring the contribution of poetry of the tribal nations to the forefront and include it in the discussion of poetry,' says Harjo, an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma. 'This country is in need of deep healing. We're in a transformational moment in national history and earth history, so whichever way we move is going to absolutely define us.' She is known for such collections as 'The Woman Who Fell From the Sky' and 'In Mad Love and War' and for a forceful, intimate style that draws upon the natural and spiritual world. Her previous honors include the PEN Open Book Award and the Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement. Earlier this year, she was awarded the Jackson Prize, given by Poets & Writers, for a poet of merit who deserves more attention. Harjo is currently editing an anthology of Native poets, and a new book of her own poems, 'An American Sunrise,' comes out in August (her publisher, W.W. Norton, moved it up from its planned September release). She also has a background in painting and dance, and is an impassioned saxophone player who has recorded several albums. In a 2017 blog post that is also part of her poem 'Rabbit Invents the Saxophone,' she called the instrument 'so human,' writing that 'Its tendency is to be rowdy, edgy, talk too loud, bump into people, say the wrong words at the wrong time. 'But then, you take a breath, all the way from the center of the earth and blow. All that heartache is forgiven.' The poet laureate is not a political position. Harjo makes clear her disdain for many office seekers, however, in her poem 'For Those Who Would Govern.' She also has expressed her views on President Trump. In 2016, she linked to a Newsweek article about then-candidate Trump's overseas business connections and tweeted, 'Donald Trump's foreign ties may conflict with U.S. national security interests.' Last summer, she linked to a New York magazine article about Trump and Russia, and tweeted: 'What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987?' The head of the Library of Congress' poetry and literature center, Robert Casper, told the AP that laureates are encouraged to focus on 'poems and the way they work,' including politically. During her interview, Harjo declined to talk about Trump directly, and said instead that 'everything is political.' 'I began writing poetry because I didn't hear Native women's voices in the discussions of policy, of how we were going to move forward in a way that is respectful and honors those basic human laws that are common to all people, like treating all life respectfully, honoring your ancestors, this earth,' she said. She cites her poem 'Rabbit is Up To Tricks' as an expression of political thought, but in a timeless way. Her poem tells of a trickster Rabbit who has become lonely, and so forms a man out of clay and teaches him to steal. The clay man learns too well, stealing animals, food and another man's wife. He will move on to gold and land and control of the world. And Rabbit had no place to play. Rabbit's trick had backfired. Rabbit tried to call the clay man back, but when the clay man wouldn't listen Rabbit realized he'd made a clay man with no ears.
  • Paul Simon doesn't care much for requests, but he might ask you to sing along. The singer-songwriter's latest honor came from the Poetry Society of America, which celebrated him Tuesday during a dinner benefit at the New York Botanical Garden. Simon and longtime poetry editor Alice Quinn were the guests of honor, their careers both lasting for decades and making them revered names among lovers of words. Quinn has championed Sharon Olds, Edward Hirsch and countless other poets as an adjunct professor at Columbia University, the poetry editor at The New Yorker (from 1987 to 2007) and an editor at Alfred A. Knopf. She is stepping down as executive editor of the poetry society, where she has served since 2001. She was introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner and U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith, who praised her contributions to 'the inner life across this country and beyond.' Quinn noted that Simon had been a supporter of the poetry society and remembered seeing him in the offices of Knopf, which published a book of his lyrics. Simon was then introduced by former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins, who noted that Simon was among the first rock songwriters to use the word 'poetry' in a song ('I Am a Rock') and to name poets, reading lines about Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson from Simon's 'A Dangling Conversation.' Simon, meanwhile, was alternately playful and contrarian. He chastised Collins for misremembering a discussion they had about writing and wondered about the meaning of awards when the planet was 'disintegrating.' He joked about making room for his poetry society award among his 'shelves and shelves' of prizes, right next to a special trophy for being the 'best-dressed dad.' His acceptance came in three parts: He read work by two poets who died this year, Les Murray and W.S. Merwin; chatted briefly on stage with Collins about writing; and, to everyone's obvious pleasure, performed a few songs. Simon, 77, has retired from touring and his voice sounded strained at first. But he grew stronger, and even danced a little, as he ran through such favorites as 'Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard' and 'The Boxer,' asking the audience to join in on the chorus of 'Lie-La-Lie' as a small backing group added touches of jazz and Cajun music. Be careful, though, about requests. Simon explained that during one show he saw a woman come close to the stage, sobbing, begging him to perform a certain song. But Simon couldn't understand what she was asking for. What song, he wondered, had made such a 'deep connection' that she couldn't stop crying? Perhaps he had reminded her of a 'loved one or a parent.' Please, the woman finally asked, would you play 'The Lion King'?