Robert De Niro to open Sarajevo Film Festival

SARAJEVO The Sarajevo Film Festival will honor two-time Oscar-winning U.S. actor and producer Robert De Niro with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to film on its opening night on Friday. "We are honored to have Robert De Niro as the first recipient of the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo - Lifetime Achievement Award," director Mirsad Purivatra said in a statement on Monday. De Niro will present Martin Scorsese's digitally restored movie "Taxi Driver" in which he starred, in honor of its 40th anniversary, the statement said.British film director Stephen Frears, who will be awarded for extraordinary contribution to the art of film, will present his latest film "Florence Foster Jenkins". The Sarajevo Film Festival, founded as an act of defiance towards the end of the 1992-95 siege during the Bosnian war, will show 222 films from 61 countries to an audience of about 100,000. Its main award is the Heart of Sarajevo. An international jury will be chaired by Palestinian film-maker Elia Suleiman. (Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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Opponents target North Carolina transgender bathroom law

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. For 20-year-old Payton McGarry, a transgender man and college student, the North Carolina law barring him from using public bathrooms consistent with his gender identity means a routine part of life now dictates his day.He limits how much he drinks to avoid using a bathroom away from home. He looks for gender-neutral restrooms at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he attends, but has missed instruction time when he cannot find one in his classroom buildings."There is a lot of insecurity about being in public spaces," the accounting and business major said in a telephone interview. "If I know I’m going to be out an extended period of time, I just don’t drink a lot."On Monday, McGarry and other opponents of the law, known as House Bill 2, or HB 2, will ask a federal judge in Winston-Salem to block enforcement of its bathroom provisions while the legal fight against the full measure, enacted in March, plays out.North Carolina is the only state in the country to mandate that people use multiple-occupancy public restrooms and changing facilities that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity, placing it at the forefront of the latest civil rights frontier in America.The restrictions put transgender people, particularly students at public schools, in an untenable position, said Chris Brook, one of the American Civil Liberties Union lawyers challenging the measure."It forces all trans kids in our state to choose between breaking the law and using the correct restroom or using the wrong restroom, which could put them in a perilous situation," he said.Republican lawmakers have not been persuaded by such arguments, or boycotts of the state by corporations, conventions, entertainers and the National Basketball Association, which this month said it was pulling its 2017 all-star game from Charlotte in protest of the law, which has been decried by critics as discriminatory. Lawyers for Republican Governor Pat McCrory argue the measure protects the safety and privacy expectations of the state's residents."Plaintiffs purportedly seek to overturn a single state statute, but in reality they seek to overturn millennia of accepted practice by which men and women utilize separate facilities for using the restroom, bathing, and changing clothes," the governor's lawyers said in a court filing opposing efforts to block HB 2.McCrory's office did not reply to a request for comment ahead of Monday's hearing. The University of North Carolina, also named as a defendant, welcomes "resolution of these difficult issues by the court so that we can refocus our efforts on our primary mission - educating students," President Margaret Spellings said in a statement. TELLING THEIR STORIESKaty and Mac Schafer hope their family's story will help change minds. Their eldest child, 17-year-old Hunter, was assigned the gender of male at birth but now lives and identifies as female.She attends high school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, where until HB 2 passed she used the women's restroom in keeping with the guidance given to her by medical professionals.Her mother felt sick when lawmakers took that option away. "All that we had done right as parents to love and support our kid and everything the medical community was telling us was important to have our teenager thrive in the world ... none of that was considered," said Katy Schafer, who joined her daughter and McGarry as plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal advocacy groups.The case is due to go to trial on Nov. 14. North Carolina also has been sued by the U.S. Justice Department over the law, while McCrory and other public officials in turn have sued the U.S. government.The legal battles have thrust Joaquin Carcano, a 28-year-old transgender man and another plaintiff in the ACLU's case, into the national debate over bathroom access.Court documents tell how the only gender-neutral bathroom available to him in the office where he works as an HIV project coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill requires riding a service elevator to a part of the building used for housekeeping.Carcano said he feels a responsibility to speak for the transgender community. But being in the spotlight on such a personal matter is not always easy."Having your identity and body being a point of public conversation can be really exhausting," he said. (Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Ai Weiwei puts himself back in a jail cell in new Spanish show

CUENCA, Spain Artist Ai Weiwei has reproduced scenes of his incarceration for a new art installation, a series of almost life-size dioramas - encased in steel boxes - showing his life in jail.Visitors to the exhibition, in a cathedral in central Spain, have to peer through peep-holes in the stark, gray boxes to see the 3D scenes, which show Ai watched by two uniformed guards as he eats, sleeps, showers and uses the toilet in his tiny cell.Ai, one of China's most high-profile artists and political activists, was jailed for 81 days on charges of tax evasion in 2011. China confiscated his passport, only returning it in July last year.His installation, "S.A.C.R.E.D.", is a highlight of a series of events under the title "The Poetry of Freedom" taking place across Spain to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes. The Spanish writer was held as a slave in Algiers for five years in the late 16th century and spent months in jail in Spain later in life for bookkeeping discrepancies, where he is thought to have conceived the idea for his masterpiece "Don Quixote". A quote from that novel, about a middle-aged gentleman obsessed by ideals of chivalry who travels central Spain with his loyal squire Sancho Panza, adorns the wall of the Cuenca exhibition: "Freedom, Sancho, is one of the most precious gifts that heaven has ever given man." The exhibition, at the 12th century cathedral in the fortified medieval city of Cuenca, opens on July 26 and runs until Nov. 6. (Reporting by Catherine Bennett; Editing by Sonya Dowsett and Robin Pomeroy)

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WADA says IOC should consider ban on Russian athletes in Rio

LONDON The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday recommended that the IOC and International Paralympic Committee should consider banning all athletes entered by the Russian Olympic Committee for next month's Rio Olympics.WADA was responding to a damning independent report produced by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren and published on Monday that revealed evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.WADA made seven recommendations after the report was published, including one that Russian government officials be denied access to international competitions, including Rio 2016.Among the other recommendations, WADA said international federations from sports implicated in the report consider action against Russian national bodies and that McLaren and his team complete their mandate provided WADA can secure funding."Shamefully, the McLaren Report corroborates the allegations, exposing a modus operandi of serious manipulation of the doping control process in the satellite laboratory set up in Sochi for the 2014 Games; and, the Moscow laboratory since 2011 and after the Sochi Games," WADA president Sir Craig Reedie in a statement. "Not only does the evidence implicate the Russian Ministry of Sport in running a doping system that's sole aim was to subvert the doping control process, it also states that there was active participation and assistance of the Federal Security Service and the Centre of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia."The WADA-backed independent report confirmed allegations made by former Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory head Grigory Rodchenkov, who two months ago told the New York Times that dozens of Russians used performance-enhancing drugs in Sochi with approval from national sports authorities. The report said Russia's Sports Ministry had overseen the manipulation of athletes' analytical results for years before Sochi.In Sochi itself, where international observers were scrutinising the drug tests, positive results could not simply be brushed away, so a system of sample-swapping was put in place with the help of the FSB intelligence service, the report said. McLaren described the deceptions to Reuters as "beautiful in it's simplicity". (Reporting by Steve Keating/Martyn Herman; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Frank Pingue)

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Grammy-winning singer Chaka Khan enters rehab for drug abuse

LOS ANGELES Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Chaka Khan has postponed all performances for this month after checking herself into a drug addiction rehabilitation program, her representatives said in a message posted on her website.The 63-year-old vocalist has struggled with a dependence on prescription pain medications and has "voluntarily entered the program to get healthy and stay that way," the statement said, though it did not say when or where treatment began.The treatment was described only as "an addiction rehabilitation and aftercare program" that would require her to "postpone all dates scheduled for the month of July.""As part of the ongoing outpatient treatment the doctors have urged her to resume recording mid-July and commence all performances beginning August 1st and onward," according to the statement posted on Sunday. Khan, who first gained fame in the 1970s as the lead female vocalist for the funk band Rufus, launched her solo career with the 1978 smash hit "I'm Every Woman." Her 1984 chart-topping version of the song "I Feel For You," from the hit album of the same name, was written and first recorded by Prince and is widely credited as the first R&B track to feature a rap, which was performed by Grandmaster Melle Mel. Prince, a longtime friend and collaborator with Khan, died in late April from an accidental overdose of the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl. He was 57. (Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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