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New study finds continued gender disparity in book coverage

A new study finds that few of the top literary publications are giving equal time to women authors and reviewers.

The highly anticipated "VIDA Count," released Monday, has The New Yorker, The Nation and The Atlantic among those devoting less than 40 percent of their book coverage to women in 2017. Only two of 15 publications analyzed in the main VIDA count gave women 50 percent or more — Poetry magazine and Granta. Those between 40 percent and 49 percent include The New York Times Book Review and the Paris Review, from which editor Lorin Stein resigned last December amid allegations of sexual harassment. In April, the magazine hired Emily Nemens, only the second woman to run the Paris Review in its 65-year history.

VIDA, a nonprofit feminist organization otherwise known as Women in Literary Arts, found far stronger numbers for women in smaller publications. A Public Space, Agni and Conjunctions were among those in VIDA's "Larger Literary Landscape" giving women well over half of their coverage.

"We believe VIDA really is making a difference," VIDA Review editor-in-chief Amy King and assistant editor Sarah Clark wrote in the report's introduction. "The numbers may not radically change year to year, they may reach parity for some publications one year and fall back the next. But we can see the impact of our work beyond VIDA's numbers."

The numbers for 2017 are the first to come out in the #MeToo era and King told The Associated Press during a recent interview that she expected the movement to make an impact, although one that "may be measured publication by publication, rather than as an overall widespread effect." She noted the recent decision by the Boston Review to keep Junot Diaz as the fiction editor even after the Pulitzer Prize-winning author faced harassment allegations. Three poetry editors resigned in protest, while the Review's editors-in-chief defended their decision because Diaz's behavior didn't rise to the "severity that animated the #MeToo movement."

At the Review last year, men received more than 60 percent of coverage, according to VIDA.

"Editors can only coast along for so long on excuses that began as 'we're just publishing the best work,' now morphing into pardons in cases of abuse of power with 'He made mistakes, but he's still a good editor," said King, who also serves on VIDA's executive board.

VIDA has been tallying gender disparities in literary journalism for nearly a decade, when it startled many in the publishing world by documenting the predominance of books by men, and reviewed by men, in The New Yorker, Harper's, The New Republic and elsewhere. While Poetry, The New Republic and other publications have significantly increased the percentage of women reviewers and of books reviewed by women authors, some have changed more sporadically. At The New York Review of Books, men outnumbered women by 5-to-1 in the VIDA report for 2010. The ratio narrowed to nearly even in 2016, but last year fell back to 3-to-1.

As in previous years, the 2017 charts were compiled by VIDA volunteers.

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Online:

www.vidaweb.org

‘Incredibles 2’ comes with epilepsy warning

It’s been 14 years since the Parr family was on the big screen as “The Incredibles,” and it seems like fans have been waiting for the sequel as “Incredibles 2” crushed box office records, taking in an estimated $180 million in its opening domestic weekend, CNN reported.

But the film is now coming with a warning for those who suffer from epilepsy or other conditions, USAToday reported.

>> Read more trending news 

There is a segment of the movie that shows bright flashing lights used by the villain Screenslaver, USAToday reported.

There were warnings on social media from theater goers after last week’s premiere of “Incredibles 2” alerting fans with epilepsy, migraines or chronic illness that the mind control scenes could trigger seizures. 

The Epilepsy Foundation also issued a warning.

On Friday, Walt Disney Pictures took it a step further, requesting that theaters showing the film warn viewers about the scene, USAToday reported.

A theater supervisor for a Los Angeles AMC theater location told USAToday he has never had an alert like that before from a studio.

The Epilepsy Foundation says 3 percent of people with epilepsy can have seizures if exposed to some flashing lights. 

Roll out the barrels: Christo artwork floats on London lake

The ducks, geese and hardy cold-water swimmers in London's Hyde Park have a new neighbor: a monumental floating structure made from 7,506 stacked barrels colored bright red, mauve and blue.

"The London Mastaba," unveiled Monday, is the latest installation by Christo, a master of supersized artworks who has previously wrapped Berlin's Reichstag in silver fabric and festooned New York's Central Park with thousands of saffron-colored cloth gates.

The 83-year-old artist's first major creation in London rises 65 feet (20 meters) above the surface of the park's Serpentine Lake. Its slope-sided trapezoid was inspired by ancient Mesopotamian benches and Egyptian tombs. The colors have been chosen to complement the lush greenery and gray-blue skies of a London summer.

The sculpture, which will float on the lake until Sept. 23, is accompanied by an exhibition at the nearby Serpentine Gallery tracing the barrel-based artworks Christo has created since the 1950s — often with his wife and artistic partner, Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009.

The pair started experimenting with paint cans and upsized to oil drums, using them to create walls, mounds and other structures both monumental and temporary.

Many of their grander schemes have never been built. Others took decades.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude first dreamed of a floating mastaba — Arabic for bench — in 1967. Initially it was to be built on Lake Michigan. Five decades later, it has finally arisen in London.

Since 1977, Christo has been planning an even bigger version: a mastaba set in the Abu Dhabi desert that would be made from 410,000 barrels, rise 500 feet (150 meters) and constitute the largest sculpture in the world.

Like Christo's other works, "The London Mastaba" is temporary. At summer's end it will be dismantled and the barrels recycled, in keeping with Christo's "leave no trace" philosophy.

For now, it floats serenely, drawing a mixed reaction from the walkers, joggers and cyclists who use the park each day.

Local Lucia Halpern, who watched the work being constructed in the park over two months, said her cockapoo Coco was a fan, "because it keeps the ducks away and she can go in the water."

But she declared herself "a bit disappointed" by the structure.

"The only thing I find beautiful about it is the reflection in the water," she said. "Maybe that's the point. It's quite pretty when it gets the light and puts these magenta and pink colors on the water."

The Bulgaria-born, New York-based Christo is unconcerned about getting divergent reviews.

"Any interpretation is legitimate — critical or positive," he said. "All make you think. This is why we are human — to think."

Smooth criminal? Michael Jackson's former elephant briefly escapes Florida zoo enclosure

On Sunday afternoon, Ali the African elephant briefly wandered through an open gate into a contained courtyard behind the giraffe and elephant night house, according to press release from Florida's Jacksonville Zoo.

>> Watch the news report here

He was quickly returned and secured in a holding enclosure, the zoo said.

There were no guests, staff members or animals, including Ali, injured during the incident, according to the zoo.

The zoo said incident was a result of human error. When the elephant keepers realized Ali was not in his holding yard, they called a “code-red."

>> Read more trending news 

While no guests were in danger, any time an animal is not where it is supposed to be, established safety protocols go into effect, according to the release.

Ali was donated in 1997 from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, according to the zoo.

>> See the zoo's Facebook post here

Michael Jackson's elephant escapes enclosure at Florida zoo

An elephant that once lived at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch briefly escaped its enclosure at a Florida zoo.

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens posted on Facebook that Ali the bull elephant wandered through a gate that was accidentally left open Sunday and wound up in a courtyard behind the giraffe and elephant barn.

The zoo said guests weren't endangered and safety protocols were quickly put into place.

Zoo staff used food to entice the elephant back into the enclosure. Ali was loose for about 20 minutes.

Thomas Markle says Prince Harry said to give Trump a chance

The father of the former Meghan Markle says he talked politics with Prince Harry over the phone — and Harry argued that he should give President Donald Trump a chance.

Thomas Markle told broadcaster ITV on Monday that he had several phone conversations with Harry, including one in which the prince asked for permission to marry his daughter.

Markle said Trump was discussed at least once: "Our conversation was I was complaining about not liking Donald Trump, he said 'give Donald Trump a chance'. I sort of disagreed with that."

Markle said he also asked his future son-in-law about Britain's 2016 decision to leave the European Union and got the impression Harry is comfortable with Brexit.

"I think he was open to the experiment," Markle said.

Harry's press office declined to comment on Markle's televised interview, which could raise eyebrows because senior royal figures are scrupulously careful not to comment publicly on domestic or international political affairs.

Markle, who had been scheduled to walk his daughter down the aisle, missed the royal wedding in May due to heart problems. He told ITV he was "doing much better" and that he regretted missing the big event.

The 73-year-old Markle, who watched the wedding from California, says he was "very proud" but that "the unfortunate thing for me now is I'm a footnote in one of the greatest moments in history rather than the dad walking her down the aisle."

He says the couple, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will probably seek to have children soon.

"She's wanted children for a long time," he said.

Markle said he gave Harry permission to marry his daughter over the phone.

"Harry asked for her hand on the phone and I said: 'You are a gentleman, promise me you will never raise your hand against my daughter and of course I will grant you my permission. "'

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Associated Press writer Danica Kirka contributed.

Report: CAR foreign minister says Boris Becker not diplomat

Central African Republic's foreign minister reportedly says that retired German tennis star Boris Becker doesn't have diplomatic status in his unpaid role as a sports attache for the country.

Becker claims that his role gives him diplomatic immunity from bankruptcy proceedings in Britain. He argues that, as CAR's attache to the European Union on sporting, cultural and humanitarian affairs, he's covered by a 1961 convention on diplomatic relations.

But the African country's foreign minister, Charles Armel Doubane, was quoted Monday as telling German daily Die Welt that "Boris Becker is not an official diplomat of Central African Republic." He said that he would have had to sign a document giving Becker that status, but was never asked to.

Doubane said his country won't obstruct justice in any case against Becker.

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing.

In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the U.N. health agency said Monday that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition. The statement confirmed the fears of some parents but led critics to warn that it may risk stigmatizing too many young video players.

WHO said classifying "gaming disorder" as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers be more vigilant and prepared to identify the risks. The agency and other experts were quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no more than up to 3 percent of all gamers believed to be affected.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO's department for mental health and substance abuse, said the agency accepted the proposal that gaming disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to "the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world."

Dr. Joan Harvey, a spokeswoman for the British Psychological Society, warned that the new designation might cause unnecessary concern among parents.

"People need to understand this doesn't mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict, otherwise medics are going to be flooded with requests for help," she said.

Others welcomed WHO's new classification, saying it was critical to identify people hooked on video games quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who don't seek help themselves.

"We come across parents who are distraught, not only because they're seeing their child drop out of school, but because they're seeing an entire family structure fall apart," said Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a spokeswoman for behavioral addictions at Britain's Royal College of Psychiatrists. She was not connected to WHO's decision.

Bowden-Jones said gaming addictions were usually best treated with psychological therapies but that some medicines might also work.

The American Psychiatric Association has not yet deemed gaming disorder to be a new mental health problem. In a 2013 statement, the association said it's "a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion" in its own diagnostic manual.

The group noted that much of the scientific literature about compulsive gamers is based on evidence from young men in Asia.

"The studies suggest that when these individuals are engrossed in Internet games, certain pathways in their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict's brain is affected by a particular substance," the association said in that statement. "The gaming prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behavior."

Dr. Mark Griffiths, who has been researching the concept of video gaming disorder for 30 years, said the new classification would help legitimize the problem and strengthen treatment strategies.

"Video gaming is like a non-financial kind of gambling from a psychological point of view," said Griffiths, a distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. "Gamblers use money as a way of keeping score whereas gamers use points."

He guessed that the percentage of video game players with a compulsive problem was likely to be extremely small — much less than 1 percent — and that many such people would likely have other underlying problems, like depression, bipolar disorder or autism.

WHO's Saxena, however, estimated that 2 to 3 percent of gamers might be affected.

Griffiths said playing video games, for the vast majority of people, is more about entertainment and novelty, citing the overwhelming popularity of games like "Pokemon Go."

"You have these short, obsessive bursts and yes, people are playing a lot, but it's not an addiction," he said.

Saxena said parents and friends of video game enthusiasts should still be mindful of a potentially harmful problem.

"Be on the lookout," he said, noting that concerns should be raised if the gaming habit appears to be taking over.

"If (video games) are interfering with the expected functions of the person — whether it is studies, whether it's socialization, whether it's work — then you need to be cautious and perhaps seek help," he said.

___

Cheng reported from London.

'Everything Is Love': 3 things we learned from Beyoncé and Jay-Z's surprise album

Just when you thought Beyoncé and Jay-Z were turning their attention to their globe-trotting “On the Run 2” tour, which kicked off earlier this month in Wales, the couple managed to re-direct the conversation with the surprise weekend arrival of “Everything is Love.”

Here are three things we learned from the nine-song release, which is only (currently) available on Tidal, the streaming service partially owned by Jay-Z. Keep an ear out for Migos, Pharrell Williams and Ty Dolla Sign on the album, as well.

>> Jay-Z, Beyonce release surprise album 'Everything Is Love'

1. Jay-Z and Beyoncé do not suffer from a lack of self-confidence. “I said no to the Super Bowl / You need me, I don’t need you / Every night we in the end zone / Tell the NFL we in stadiums, too,” Jay-Z raps in “Ape****,” the first single from the album filmed in an empty Louvre. In the same song, he also admonishes the Grammy Awards; despite his eight nominations in January, he left empty-handed. “Tell the Grammys [expletive] that 0 for 8 [expletive],” he says.

On “Boss,” Beyonce emphasizes the couple’s wealth (as if anyone was questioning that?): “My great-great-grandchildren already rich / That’s a lot of brown children on your Forbes list.”

2. Clearly, the pair has worked through the issues that resulted in Beyonce’s layered, shade-throwing “Lemonade” and Jay-Z’s response, the stark “4:44” (aka, the album nominated for a bunch of Grammys that didn’t win any). 

On “Ape****,” Beyonce frequently drops a, “I can’t believe we made it,” line and revisits it in the bonus track, “Salud!,” singing, “Celebrate that we made it.” The aptly named “Nice” also finds her proclaiming that she and Jay are “feeling like the best year ever.”

>> Read more trending news 

3. Jay-Z noted in a New York Times story in 2017 that he and his wife used art as a sort of therapy session to make new music.They’ve now made music to directly respond to rumors and slights, standing tall while they sling their arrows.

On “Heard About Us,” Jay-Z makes a final, exasperated comment about his 23-year-old alleged love child: “For the thousandth time the kid ain’t mine / Online they call me Dad kiddingly / You’re not supposed to take this dad thing literally.” In “Friends,” he calls out the fickle ones who can’t maintain an alliance, and also seemingly alludes to Kanye West, who said he was “hurt” when the Carters didn’t attend his 2014 wedding to Kim Kardashian. 

“I ain't going to nobody for nothing when me and my wife beefing / I don't care if the house on fire … / If ya'll don't understand that, we ain't meant to be friends,” Jay-Z claps back.

Van crashes into fans at Dutch festival: 1 dead, 3 injured

A van ran into a small group of pop music fans near a popular festival in the Netherlands, killing one person and injuring three others before fleeing the scene Monday. A suspect turned himself in to police hours later.

Police in the province of Limburg said the suspect in the pre-dawn crash near the grounds of the Pinkpop festival was charged with manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. The festival ended late Sunday with a performance by Bruno Mars.

It was still unclear whether there was a motive behind the crash, which happened near a camp site, or whether it was a hit-and-run accident.

Police said the suspect was a local resident who drove the white van from the crash 200 kilometers (120 miles) north to Amsterdam, from where he called police to give himself up to police. They would not release more details because the investigation was continuing.

The person who was killed and the three injured also were local residents. Police said the survivors were hospitalized in very serious condition Monday afternoon.

The three-day Pinkpop, held in Landgraaf, is attended by tens of thousands of music fans.

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