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“Did you know it snowed in Las Vegas just a few weeks ago?” host Reba McEntire asked the crowd during her opening monologue at this year’s ACM Awards. “It was so cold it froze us women out of Entertainer of the Year.”

Reba was making light of the fact that, for the second year in a row, the nominees for Entertainer of the Year — the top honor at the Academy of Country Music Awards, held Sunday night in Vegas — included no female nominees. But even if the ACMs found a way to shut out women from its premier award in a year when Kacey Musgraves took home the Grammy for Album of the Year, it was those very artists — Ashley McBryde, Little Big Town, Brandi Carlile — who offered the emotional center points and clearest pictures of the genre’s forward-facing future.

Nowhere was this more apparent than during “The Daughters,” the daring, heartrending new single from Little Big Town that came halfway through the evening. Karen Fairchild and company’s delicately delivered prayer for gender equality (“I’ve heard of God the Son and God the Father/I’m still looking for a God for the daughters”) rang particularly true on a night when performers like Miranda Lambert thrived despite being relegated to a greatest hits medley, and McBryde silenced the crowd with her emotional voice-breaking rendition of “Girl Goin’ Nowhere,” abridged for broadcast though it may have been. Musgraves, for her part, was the only woman all night to win a non-gender based category, receiving her Album of the Year for her blockbuster Golden Hour.

“I have to say that this award goes out to any women, girl, or anybody, really, that is maybe being told that her perspective or her style is too different to work,” Musgraves said during her acceptance speech for Female Artist of the Year. “Just stay at it. It’ll work out.”

Overall, the show was an uncontroversial affair, a night that paid tribute, perhaps even more so than usual, to the genre’s staid commercial center while allowing a select few established agitators like Eric Church and Little Big Town make subtle statements with songs like “The Snake” (a left/right partisan political allegory) and “The Daughters.”

The night’s biggest winners were the hard-working duo Dan + Shay, who won three awards, including Song of the Year and Single of the Year for their 2018 crossover smash “Tequila.” Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney also scored their first-ever Duo of the Year win, receiving congrats afterward on Twitter from their chief competition, Brothers Osborne.

ACM Awards 2019 Little Big Town

Little Big Town sang their gutsy new song “The Daughters” on the 2019 ACM Awards. (Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock)

If the ACMs’ recognition of the groundbreaking success of “Tequila” shows what happens when a country song moves across genres under the guidance of the Nashville music industry, the show’s wholesale disregard of Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Old Town Road,” currently the most purchased iTunes song in the nation (in country music and otherwise), shows what happens when a country song doesn’t follow such pre-approved guidelines. The only rapping that came during the show was courtesy of Jason Aldean, who rhymed his way through “Dirt Road Anthem” in the middle of his Artist of the Decade medley.

The through-line of the broadcast, however, was the forcefulness with which this year’s ACMs leaned toward country traditionalism. Singers like Chris Stapleton (“A Simple Song”) and Luke Combs (“Beautiful Crazy,” featuring Amanda Shires on fiddle) favored balladry more than usual, and the genre’s fondness for old-time religion also came back into play.

In fact, it’s hard to think of a recent country awards show that was more heavily centered on God in its musical performances. Shortly before winning Male Artist of the Year, Thomas Rhett delivered his bouncy “Look What God Gave Her,” and George Strait and Blake Shelton delivered their respective country singles “God and Country Music” and “God’s Country.” Elsewhere, both Church and Little Big Town invoked the bible, while This Is Us actress Chrissy Metz was joined by Carrie Underwood, Maddie & Tae, Mickey Guyton and Lauren Alaina for an ensemble performance of the faith-based devotional “I’m Standing With You,” a song from Metz’s film Breakthrough.

The evening also had its fair share of baffling moments, perhaps none more so than the show’s comically forced opening of Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line’s chest-thumping “Can’t Hide Red,” which ended with FGL seemingly shilling for their signature whiskey line. Meanwhile, on an night when, for whatever reason, Album and Female Artist of the year winner Musgraves did not even perform, Strait took the mic on three separate occasions.

Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley. Brian Kelley, left, and Tyler Hubbard, of Florida Georgia Line, perform "Can't Hide Red" at the 54th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas54th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards - Show, Las Vegas, USA - 07 Apr 2019

Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean opened the 2019 ACM Awards. (Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Despite those head-scratchers, the 54th ACMs had its high points: “Travelin’ Light,” Dierks Bentley’s duet with Carlile, was a heartwarming rootsy showcase; Stapleton waxed poetic on the enduring richness of home life on “A Simple Song” alongside his pregnant wife Morgane Stapleton on harmony vocals; and Combs joined Brooks & Dunn for a soaring take on “Brand New Man,” one of the few rousing up-tempo numbers of the evening.

In the end, this year’s ACM Awards were a studious exercise, an even-keeled production that managed to nod to future stars Musgraves, McBryde and Kane Brown, who performed with R&B artist Khalid, while still honoring stalwarts like Aldean, Strait and Entertainer of the Year winner Keith Urban. It was a look ahead, yes, but a hesitant one.

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TSN Curling @TSNCurling 3h RT @TSN_Sports: Team Sweden stacks up a 7-2 victory over Kevin Koe and Team Canada https://t.co/sc7uojqZY6. Reply · Retweet · Favorite · TSN Curling @TSNCurling 3h Another curling season comes to a thrilling …

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TOKYO—Nissan Motor Co. shareholders voted to remove former Chairman Carlos Ghosn from the board at a three-hour extraordinary shareholders’ meeting, severing his final link to the company.

Shareholders also voted Monday to replace Mr. Ghosn with new Renault SA Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard. In addition, they voted to remove director Greg Kelly, who is accused by Nissan and Tokyo prosecutors of conspiring with Mr. Ghosn to inaccurately disclose Mr. Ghosn’s compensation. Mr. Kelly has said he is innocent.

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There was something of a social media storm in New Zealand on Monday, as Privacy Commissioner John Edwards attacked Facebook for refusing to accept fundamental changes to their platform.

In a series of such tweets, since deleted given the “volume of toxic and misinformed traffic they prompted,” Edwards said that “Facebook cannot be trusted. They are morally bankrupt pathological liars who enable genocide (Myanmar), facilitate foreign undermining of democratic institutions… [They] allow the live streaming of suicides, rapes, and murders, continue to host and publish the mosque attack video, allow advertisers to target ‘Jew haters’ and other hateful market segments, and refuse to accept any responsibility for any content or harm. They #DontGiveAZuck.”

After last month’s attack in Christchurch was live streamed and then shared, Facebook claimed that their systems failed to pick up the footage given the lack of relevant training data, but that such systems must and will improve.

Edwards refuted this, tweeting: “You didn’t have any systems.”

All about ‘live’

Edwards was responding in part to an interview given by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week, in which he commented on the events in New Zealand and the role Facebook had played, and in which he dismissed calls for radical change to the company’s Facebook Live streaming service.

“Would a delay help, any delay of live streaming?” George Stephanopoulos asked him on Good Morning America.

“You know, it might, in this case,” Zuckerberg admitted. “But it would also fundamentally break what live streaming is for people. Most people are live streaming, you know, a birthday party or hanging out with friends when they can’t be together. And it’s one of the things that’s magical about live streaming is that it’s bi-directional, right? So you’re not just broadcasting. You’re communicating. And people are commenting back. So if you had a delay that would break that.”

In a later interview on Radio New Zealand, Edwards said that he found Zuckerberg’s comments “pretty disingenuous. Maybe a delay until they sort out their AI would be a good thing. Maybe they just need to turn it off altogether.”

Regulation is (finally) now here

A week ago, Australia became the first country to introduce legislation that would hold social media executives personally liable for the content published on their platforms, with significant fines and even jail time on the table. On Monday, the U.K. is due to kick off its own ‘online harms’ consultation period that could result in something similar, with the belated end to the social media exemption for content.

Referring to the proposed regulation, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said that “it is time to do things differently, we have listened to campaigners and parents, and are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe.”

“Tech companies have not done enough to protect their users and stop this shocking content from appearing in the first place,” the country’s Home Secretary said in a statement. “Our new proposals will protect U.K. citizens and ensure tech firms will no longer be able to ignore their responsibilities.”

The prompt for the U.K. action has been the self-harm material shared on Facebook and other platforms, with the allegation that the platform’s algorithms even targeted vulnerable people with such material based on their clicks and likes. The problem isn’t terrorism or far-right hatred, the problem is much wider and deeper than that.

‘This gives a lie to what Zuckerberg talked about the greater good,” Edwards said in his radio interview. “[Zuckerberg] can’t tell us or won’t tell us how many suicides are live streamed, how many murders, how many sexual assaults. I have asked Facebook exactly that and they don’t have those figures or they won’t give them to us.”

We recognize that the immediacy of Facebook Live brings unique challenges,” Facebook had acknowledged in a blog post shortly after Christchurch. “We use artificial intelligence to detect and prioritize videos that are likely to contain suicidal or harmful acts.” The challenge, though, is that those “AI systems are based on ‘training data’, which means you need many thousands of examples of content in order to train a system that can detect certain types of text, imagery or video.” And so they need to rely on moderators and user reports, but “during the entire live broadcast, we did not get a single user report.”

When asked about the new wave of regulation, Edwards said that governments finally seem to be waking up to the danger and the need to act, and that “the legal protection… with no liability for content… what we are seeing around the world is a push back on that.”

Missing the point

Shortly after the Christchurch attacks, Edwards had made headlines when he dismissed Facebook’s silence as “an insult to our grief,” and of failing to “mitigate the deep, deep pain and harm from the live-streamed massacre of our colleagues, family members and countrymen broadcast over your network.”

In his own interview, Zuckerberg belatedly said of Christchurch, “that was a really terrible event. And we’ve worked with the police in New Zealand, and we still do.” The senior silence at Facebook was not broken until two weeks after the attacks, in a letter from the company’s COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Addressing the people of New Zealand, Sandberg wrote: “We have heard feedback that we must do more, and we agree. In the wake of the terror attack, we are taking three steps: strengthening the rules for using Facebook Live, taking further steps to address hate on our platforms, and supporting the New Zealand community.”

Zuckerberg’s more recent comments seem to suggest that the company maintains that it can stick with monitoring systems to preserve the magic of ‘Live’. The fact is that the level of engagement from a video is higher than for other types of content, and live opens the door to lengthier streams than pre-recorded. Forget about the ‘magic’, think about the ‘profits’.

Since then Facebook has changed policy in another area, banning far-right ‘white’ nationalism, albeit there are still almost daily reports of content that has escaped censure. But live streaming remains in place. Two weeks after Christchurch, Zuckerberg posted an opinion piece in the Washington Post, to speak in general terms about the direction that internet regulation might now take, and seeming to abdicate corporate responsibility for policing the internet.

Regulators seem to agree, they appear keen to do things their own way.

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Mr. Hoylman’s bill is one of at least three proposed in recent years that seek the release of Mr. Trump’s state tax returns, including legislation that he co-sponsored with Assemblyman David Buchwald, a Westchester County Democrat.

That earlier bill, known as the New York Truth Act, would require the state Department of Taxation and Finance to release five years of income tax returns from eight officials (if they earn income in New York): the president; vice president; New York’s two United States senators; and four statewide elected officials, including the governor and the state attorney general.

Most of those officials currently release or give access to their tax returns, but Mr. Buchwald said the Truth Act bill is the “most tangible, best opportunity to produce the president’s tax return.”

“Obviously, when someone fills one of these higher offices, they have to meet a higher standard,” Mr. Buchwald said, adding that such state returns would reveal “worldwide income” as well as potential conflicts of interest.

“I think it’s a good general principal for us to be promoting,” Mr. Buchwald said. The bill, first introduced in 2017, now has enough co-sponsors to pass the Assembly and Senate.

A third bill, also sponsored by Mr. Hoylman, would require candidates for president and vice president to reveal their past tax returns in order to appear on primary and general election ballots. Similar efforts are also being considered in more than a dozen other states, including California and New Jersey.

Daniel Hemel, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago who teaches tax law, said that the New York state Legislature could authorize the release of Mr. Trump’s state returns, but that knotty legal issues are at play as well, particularly because of federal laws protecting tax information. For instance, if New York were to release federal return information that is contained within the state tax return, Mr. Hemel said, the Internal Revenue Service “could conceivably cease cooperation with the state.”

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JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv, the foreign minister said Sunday, following a decision taken by the ruling party more than a year ago.

International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told journalists in Johannesburg that plans to downgrade the embassy in Israel were well underway.

“We will not be putting up a nomination for a representative at the level of an ambassador in Israel,” Sisulu said.

“The office will remain at the level of a liaison and that is how it will operate,” she added.

READ: SA must vote against Apartheid Israel in UN: Mandla Mandela

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) resolved to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to liaison office level 16 months ago.

The ANC has in the past voiced its solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, which many South Africans see as similar to the struggle against white minority rule in South Africa which was ended in 1994.

Last May South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel after at least 52 Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces during protests over the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

Addressing delegates at the South African Institute of International Affairs on Wednesday, Sisulu said the liaison office in Tel Aviv “will have no political mandate, no trade mandate, and no development cooperation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities”.

She added that the office would focus on consular and “people-to-people relations”.

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Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes has reportedly emerged as a serious candidate in UCLA’s head coaching search.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes has emerged as a serious candidate in UCLA’s head coaching search, according to multiple reports.

The Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bolch reported Barnes and Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger have interviewed for the position. However, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello received a statement from Kruger saying, “I have not interviewed for the job at UCLA, nor have I had any contact with anyone from UCLA.”

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported a source said “not to be surprised” if the Barnes move happens.

Barnes has been at Tennessee for the past four years, going 88–50. The Volunteers went 31-6 this season, earning a regular season SEC title and making the Sweet 16. Barnes was named this year’s Naismith Coach of the Year.

According to USA Today’s salary database, he made $3.25 million last season with a $5-million buyout.

UCLA fired head coach Steve Alford on Dec. 31 after starting the season at 7–6 before Pac-12 play. Alford led the Bruins to a 124–63 record with one Pac–12 tournament title and four NCAA tournament appearances in six seasons.

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TikTok may face a ban in India after a High Court ruling in Madras found that it failed to remove online predators.

The Madras High Court decision came after the BBC unveiled an investigation into the platform that called its brand and community safety measures into question.

Last week, the Madras High Court asked the government in India to ban the video app, while several right-wing groups and commentators had also weighed in on the subject, according to News 18.

TikTok issued a statement to the press, committing to abiding by local laws and guidelines, adding that it had appointed someone to coordinate with local laws.

The statement read: “At TikTok, we are committed to abiding by local laws and regulations. We fully comply with the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. We are currently awaiting the official order by the Honourable High Court of Madras and once received, we will review and take appropriate action regarding this matter.

“Maintaining a safe and positive in-app environment at TikTok is our priority. We have robust measures to protect users against misuse, protect their privacy and digital wellbeing. This includes easy reporting mechanisms that enable users and law enforcement to report content that violates our terms of use and comprehensive community guidelines. In order to better coordinate with law enforcement agencies, we have appointed a chief nodal officer based out of India.”

The company has already been hit with a $5.7m fine in the US after it was found to have illegally gathered the details of users under the age of 13.

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