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India Adds Another 379,257 Virus Cases As Vaccines Open To All Adults

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India set another global record in new virus cases Thursday, as millions of people in one state cast votes despite rising infections and the country geared up to open its vaccination rollout to all adults amid snags.

With 379,257 new infections, India now has reported more than 18.3 million cases, second only to the United States. The Health Ministry also reported 3,645 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 204,832. Experts believe both figures are an undercount, but it’s unclear by how much.

India has set a daily global record for seven of the past eight days, with a seven-day moving average of nearly 350,000 infections. Daily deaths have nearly tripled in the past three weeks, reflecting the intensity of the latest surge. And the country’s already teetering health system is under immense strain, prompting multiple allies to send help.

A country of nearly 1.4 billion people, India had thought the worst was over when cases ebbed in September. But mass public gatherings such as political rallies and religious events that were allowed to continue, and relaxed attitudes on the risks fed by leaders touting victory over the virus led to what now has become a major humanitarian crisis, health experts say. New variants of the coronavirus have also partly led the surge.

Amid the crisis, voting for the eighth and final phase of the West Bengal state elections began Thursday, even as the devastating surge of infections continues to barrel across the country with a ferocious speed, filling crematoriums and graveyards.



A coronavirus patient is shifted to a ward after admission at GTB hospital in New Delhi on April 29, 2021. 

More than 8 million people are expected to vote in at least 11,860 polling stations across the state. Election Commission has said social distancing measures would be in place.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have faced criticism over the last few weeks for holding huge election rallies in the state, which health experts suggest might have driven the surge there too. Other political parties also participated in rallies.

The state recorded more than 17,000 cases in the last 24 hours — its highest spike since the pandemic began.

Starting Wednesday, all Indians 18 and older were allowed to register on a government app for vaccinations, but social media were flooded with complaints the app had crashed due to high use, and once it was working again, no appointments were available.

The vaccinations are supposed to start Saturday, but India, one of the world’s biggest producers of vaccines, does not yet have enough doses for everyone. Even the ongoing effort to inoculate people above 45 is stuttering.

One state, Maharashtra, has already said it won’t be able to start on Saturday.

Since January, nearly 10% of Indians have received one jab, but only around 1.5% have received both required doses.

Amid the acute shortage of oxygen and other hospital supplies, the White House said the U.S. will send more than $100 million worth of items, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests. It said they will begin arriving Thursday, just days after President Joe Biden promised to step up assistance.

The U.S. and Britain have already sent a shipment of medical items. France, Germany, Russia, Ireland and Australia have also promised help.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has advised its citizens to leave India. An alert on the U.S. Embassy’s website warned that “access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus



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‘CODA’ Star Troy Kotsur’s Oscar Stolen In Car Theft

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Celebrities, they’re weird about where they keep Oscars!

Kate Winslet once stored hers in the bathroom. Catherine Zeta-Jones placed the statuette in a Bermuda vacation home, and Natalie Portman hasn’t seen the little gold man in years.

But leaving an Academy Award in your Jeep is decidedly more precarious, which “CODA” star Troy Kotsur learned the hard way when his car went missing over the weekend ― along with his Best Supporting Actor trophy.

The actor alerted Arizona police on Saturday that someone had stolen his car, where he was apparently keeping the award, according to multiple reports. It was returned hours later.

“Once Mr. Kotsur notified the department of the theft, officers began their investigation and through investigative techniques, they located the vehicle with two juvenile male suspects inside,” the Mesa Police Department shared in a statement, per Today.

“Mr. Kotsur had his vehicle returned to him to include all the property that was inside,” the statement concluded.

In a now-deleted tweet, Kotsur posted a photo with the officers who located the vehicle to express his gratitude.

“A little kid stole my Jeep while I have Oscar award in my Jeep. The city of Mesa, Az found my Jeep and Oscar award too! Thanks!” he wrote, according to Deadline.

Authorities said that two boys admitted to the crime and were charged with theft of means of transportation. They weren’t identified because they are minors and the case will be handled by the Maricopa County Juvenile Court System.

Kotsur grew up and lives in the Phoenix suburb, which awarded him the keys to the city Thursday. He apparently brought the award with him to the special ceremony, per Deadline, and kept it in his vehicle for days.

The actor made Oscars history in March when he became the first deaf man to win an award — for his performance in “CODA,” which also took home the prize for Best Picture.

Kotsur starred in the film as a deaf father and fisherman, who ― along with his wife and son (played by deaf actors Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant) ― depends on his daughter Ruby (Emilia Jones) to be their interpreter.

“I just wanted to say that this is dedicated to the deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community. This is our moment,” Kotsur said in an emotional acceptance speech that referred to the community of Children of Deaf Adults, for which the film is named. “This is our moment.”

He also won a BAFTA, SAG, and Critics Choice Award for his performance in the acclaimed Apple TV+ film.

Kotsur can next be seen in an upcoming Disney+ series that tells the true story of a deaf high school football team.





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Adele Reveals The ‘Worst Moment’ Of Her Career Happened This Year

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The cover star didn’t mince words when talking about the original iteration of the show, which was supposed to begin in January and end in April 2022.

Adele famously canceled the entire production just one day before the shows were set to begin ― meaning some audience members were already in Vegas.

“I was so excited about those shows. It was devastating,” the “Hello” singer explained.

But, “there was just no soul in it,” she told Elle. “The stage setup wasn’t right. It was very disconnected from me and my band, and it lacked intimacy. And maybe I tried too hard to give it those things in such a controlled environment.”

Adele said that “the first couple of months was really, really hard” post-cancellation, as she “was embarrassed.”

“But it actually made my confidence in myself grow, because it was a very brave thing to do,” she continued. “And I don’t think many people would have done what I did. I’m very proud of myself for standing by my artistic needs.”

The singer has previously defended her decision to cancel the shows, despite enduring “brutal” backlash.

“I definitely felt everyone’s disappointment and I was devastated and I was frightened about letting them down,” Adele told BBC Radio 4’s “Desert Island Discs” in July. “I thought I could pull it together and make it work and I couldn’t, and I stand by that decision.”

And to her fans’ delight, the entertainer recently announced her residency would resume on Nov. 18 and run until March 25, 2023.





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John Oliver Exposes Tragic Consequence Of America’s Most ‘Mind-Blowing F**k-Up’

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John Oliver said Afghanistan wasn’t doing well under U.S. occupation ― yet the situation got even worse when American troops left and the Taliban took over one year ago.

“Our exit was the foreign policy equivalent of putting a cake in the oven, and then 40 minutes later taking out a live rat dressed as Hitler,” he said. “It’s not just a fuck-up. It’s a mind-blowing fuck-up that’ll take years to fully comprehend.”

The Taliban has struggled to provide even basic services to the citizenry. One expert told PBS the Taliban was designed to fight ― not rule.

“A militant insurgency group is pretty low on the list of people that you’d want leading a government,” he said. “Right around the Hell’s Angels, the Manson family and Ron DeSantis.”

Under the Taliban, Afghans are finding it difficult or impossible to get food or healthcare, and girls past the age of 11 have been banned from school.

The Taliban at one point claimed they needed more time to create and approve a school uniform for girls before they could be allowed to return to class.

“Which is clearly total bullshit,” Oliver said. “Besides, for an organization so concerned with virtue and purity, taking months to brainstorm a schoolgirl uniform you like is objectively the single perviest thing you can do.”

See more from Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight”:





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‘Another World’ Soap Star Robyn Griggs Dies At 49

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Robyn Griggs, an actor who starred in the soap operas “Another World” and “One Life to Live,” has died. She was 49.

“Hi everyone, With a heavy heart, I am saddened to announce Robyn’s passing,” the statement began. “However, she is no longer suffering and would want us to remember that and the good memories.”

“I will never forget how open she was to telling her story, and accepting of me helping her tell it. She wanted to help people and spread the word of her story to do it. I was honored to do so. RIP my friend, I love you and smile when I think of you.”

Griggs was open on social media about her battle with cervical cancer. In a July update, she said she would undergo chemotherapy for four new tumors, two on her liver, one on an abdominal muscle, and one on a lymph node.

A GoFundMe page raising money for her medical bills said she had gone to the doctor for a pap smear in 2020 and learned that she had stage 4 endocervical adenocarcinoma.

Griggs played Stephanie Hobart on “One Life to Liveand Maggie Cory on “Another World” in the 1990s. As a child, she appeared on Nickelodeon’s “Rated K.”

She also appeared in several films, including “Severe Injuries,” “Dead Clowns” and “Hellweek.”





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Will Smith And Jada Pinkett Smith Step Out Together For First Time Since Oscars Slap

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Months after slapping Chris Rock on the Oscars stage, Will Smith is slowly stepping back into public life ― this time with wife Jada Pinkett Smith by his side.

The couple put on a united front in their first public outing together since the infamous awards ceremony in March, enjoying a lunch date over the weekend.

The stars were photographed outside Nobu Malibu in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, as they walked back to their car.

In a video obtained by TMZ, the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” alum can be seen leaving the popular celebrity eatery first, with Pinkett Smith trailing behind and appearing to hold on to his belt loop.

The “Red Table Talk” host kept to herself, but Smith chose to acknowledge onlookers, throwing a wave and even a peace sign their way.

The outing came weeks after Smith broke his monthslong silence to formally apologize once again to Rock for walking onto the Oscars stage and slapping him. The incident took place after the comedian made a joke about the shaved head of Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia.

Jada Pinkett Smith (left) and Will Smith attend the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. This weekend, the two had their first public outing together since the March awards ceremony, during which Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock.

Daniele Venturelli via Getty Images

“I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment,” Smith said at the start of the nearly six-minute video released last month.

“I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, and when he is he will reach out,” he continued. “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

Shutting down speculation that Pinkett Smith had a role to play in the debacle, the actor clarified that his wife didn’t tell him “to do something.”

“No. It’s like … I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris,” he asserted. “Jada had nothing to do with it.”

Rock has stayed relatively tight-lipped about the altercation, but Pinkett Smith has publicly addressed the incident, calling for the two men to reconcile.

“My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile,” she said during an episode of her “Red Table Talk” show. “The state of the world today? We need them both, and we all actually need one another more than ever.”

After the slap, Smith went on to win the Best Actor statuette for his performance in “King Richard,” though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has since banned him from attending its official events, including the awards ceremony, for the next decade.

But he could still be nominated for an award at the ceremony, and his upcoming film “Emancipation” is already generating some buzz.

Based on a true story, the film follows a runaway slave, played by Smith, who flees a Louisiana plantation and journeys north where he ultimately joins the Union Army. The Apple TV+ film, which is helmed by “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua, doesn’t currently have a release date, but is expected to arrive sometime in 2023.





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Denise Dowse, ‘Insecure’ And ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ Actor, Dies At 64

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Denise Dowse, a veteran television and film performer who’s best known for her roles in “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Insecure,” has died after being hospitalized with meningitis. She was 64.

Dowse’s death was announced Saturday on her Instagram account by sister Tracey Dowse, who celebrated her late sibling as “the most amazing sister, a consummate, illustrious actress, mentor and director.”

“I want to take this moment to thank our friends and family for all of the love and prayers,” the post read. “It is with a very heavy heart that I inform everyone that my sister, Denise Dowse has gone forward to meet our family in eternal life.”

“She was my very best friend and final family member,” Dowse’s sister continued. “Denise loved all of you. I know that she is watching over us with all the love she has.”

Dowse was hospitalized in a coma in early August with her sister revealing at the time that her condition was “brought on by a virulent form of meningitis.”

“Her doctors do not know when she will come out of the coma as it was not medically induced,” Tracey explained, sharing that her sister is a “vibrant actor and director” and “should have many years ahead of her.”

With over 120 film and television credits to her name, Dowse has steadily appeared on screen since 1989, becoming a regular guest star on some of the most popular series of the next two decades, including “Seinfeld,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Charmed,” “Sister, Sister,” “Moesha,” “Full House,” “Murphy Brown,” “Chicago Hope,” “Girlfriends” and “ER.”

But her recurring role as Vice Principal Mrs. Teasley on Fox’s “Beverly Hills, 90210,” in which she appeared in 24 episodes over the show’s 10-season run, was perhaps her most beloved.

Dowse was memorialized in a touching tribute from Ian Ziering, her former co-star on the ’90s teen soap, after the news of her death broke.

“Throughout all my years working on Beverly Hills 90210, my scenes with Denise will always be remembered with the utmost in respect for her talent, and fondness for the loving soul she was,” he wrote. “Some of my heartiest off camera laughs were between she and I hammering out the the discipline her Mrs. Teasley would dish out to my Steve Sanders.”

More recently, Dowse made recurring appearances on series like “Snowfall,” “The Resident” and “Imposters.” Her most recognizable role as of late was in the final three seasons of Issa Rae’s acclaimed HBO comedy “Insecure” as Dr. Rhonda Pine, the therapist to Yvonne Orji’s character Molly.

In a tweet on Sunday, Orji said it was “truly a delight and pleasure” to work with Dowse on the series, which ended its run last year.

“She embodied the strength and wisdom in real life that her character #DrRhonda shared with Molly,” she wrote. “You will truly be missed and so fondly remembered. May your soul forever Rest In Perfect Peace.”

In addition to her television work, Dowse also appeared in a handful of films over her career, including “Ray,” “Bio-Dome,” “Starship Troopers,” “A Civil Action,” “Coach Carter” and “The Call.”

Dowse made her directorial debut with the upcoming biopic “Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story” about the titular legendary gospel singer.

The film, which stars Ledisi, Columbus Short, Corbin Bleu, Janet Hubert and Wendy Raquel Robinson, served as the opening-night selection for the 30th Pan African Film and Arts Festival in April.

Dowse walked the red carpet at the premiere in her final public appearance.

Denise Dowse attends the 2022 Pan African Film and Arts Festival on April 19 in Los Angeles.

Maury Phillips via Getty Images





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‘P-Valley’ Star Nicco Annan Wants Others Who Look Like Him To Truly Be Celebrated

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You feel Nicco Annan’s presence immediately when he walks in a room. Between his 6-foot-2 height, vibrant fashions and melodic baritone, his energy is dominating. But not so dominating that it engulfs. Instead, his energy is as warm and generous as it is regal and captivating. Similar to Uncle Clifford, the beloved house mother he portrays on “P-Valley,” Annan feels like home.

That’s no surprise. For two seasons strong, the Detroit-born actor has invited TV viewers down to The Pynk, a legacied stripper joint in the fictional Chucalissa, Mississippi, where you can get a lap dance, lemon pepper wings extra wet and a brush with seduction in one fell swoop — but only if you follow Cliff’s rules. With her flashy fashions, unique prowess, country twang and grandmother-like phrases that make you chuckle and think at the same time, it’s hard not to feel Uncle Clifford. Really feel her. And you’d be hard pressed to find another character like her in TV history.

Annan, 33, has been playing the role of the nonbinary HBIC for about the past decade, since he was cast in Katori Hall’s “Pussy Valley,” the play from which the television show was created. The play ran only in Minneapolis.

The actor, who worked closely with Hall in molding Uncle Clifford, knows that this character represents the intersection of so many people’s real everyday life experiences. Annan breathed life into Cliff. That’s why the breakout character has been able to keep viewers enraptured in all her glory.

Season 2 finds Uncle Clifford at risk of losing The Pynk, yet again, while navigating the weight of a world plagued by COVID-19. She’s taking care of everyone — her grandmother, her dancers, her club’s legacy — but has neglected taking care of her heart as she fights the honest, raw love she shares with a rising local rapper half her age, Lil Murda. Her story is about vulnerability, trials, triumphs and community care. Her story is about learning to choose love, despite what the world believes a Black nonbinary person should experience. She represents humanity.

The key ingredient to Annan harnessing Uncle Clifford’s power? “Intimacy,” Annan said.

Nicco Annan said the “P-Valley” role of Uncle Clifford “literally was the thing that kind of woke me up.”

When Annan auditioned in 2009, Hall invited him to read for the part of Uncle Clifford in her apartment. She was originally only in one out of the two scenes in the five-page script. The description of Uncle Clifford — in combination with the dialogue between dancers Mercedes, Mississippi and Gidget — energized him.

“It literally was the thing that kind of woke me up,” Annan said in reference to Uncle Clifford. “What is this character? Because normally when you would read a character breakdown, it’ll say, ‘Black, male.’ Or it’ll say, ‘30s, male.’ Or, ‘Black, gay, flamboyant.’ And it didn’t say that.”

He recalled one of the best notes he’d ever gotten from Hall in portraying Cliff. “Dare to bore me,” she told Annan. It allowed him to “breathe and just be.”

“I think that Katori created the character to be all the things,” Annan said. “It resonates with me when plus-size or full-figured women and full-figured men that are straight, that are gay, that are nonbinary, and everybody kind of identifies with her in a way. That’s a gag for me, for real. I’m like, oh, this is why the SlimFast didn’t work for you when you were a kid. This is why it took time for me to even be comfortable in my body and to be able to walk in that light, to stand in that sun; it’s an honor.”

“Growing up, I didn’t see myself, but I knew that there was something else inside me as an actor, as a person,” says Nicco Annan, who grew up in Detroit.
“Growing up, I didn’t see myself, but I knew that there was something else inside me as an actor, as a person,” says Nicco Annan, who grew up in Detroit.

The world Annan grew up in didn’t want him or any other young, Black gay kids from the Midwest to see characters like Uncle Clifford on screen. He knew he wanted more out of life than to be the heir of his family-owned carwash. He was teased for having dark skin and Ghanaian roots and being heavyset.

“Growing up, I didn’t see myself, but I knew that there was something else inside me as an actor, as a person,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been through this fire because I’ve been trusted with a testimony. That’s really how I feel because there are people who look like me, people who come from the Midwest, there are people in this whole LGBTQ+ spectrum that have not had a level of visibility.”

He visited Ghana, his dad’s home country, for the first time when he was 10. He was reluctant to take the long plane ride, especially after a classmate told him he’d be sleeping with animals. But that trip to Ghana helped illuminate some things about Annan that the U.S. wanted to hide from him. That trip helped him embrace his dark skin, full lips and gap in his front teeth — “Back home, having a gap is distinguished. That means that God smiled on you.”

He sat in the chief’s throne on a floor made of pure gold. It was a gradual process, but Annan, whose first name translates to “first-born son of a prince,” began to come into himself.

“To have that kind of experience as a child, even being teased and all that stuff prior to, it changed for me. I was like, ‘Oh, you’re worth something. And everyone just doesn’t know. Everyone just doesn’t know.’”

As Annan’s dance and choreography career merged with an interest in acting, he met agents, executives and others along the way who didn’t recognize his true worth. They’d tell him he had to lose weight in order to make it on TV. But with nods from legends like poet Maya Angelou and dancer George Faison, Annan knew he was destined for more.

That’s why the slow ascension of his success as Uncle Clifford means so much to him. With it, he’s been able to create a framework that’s allowed his TV dreams to come true. It also led to roles on “This Is Us” and “All American,” and choreography work on “All American: Homecoming.”

He also acknowledges that characters like Uncle Clifford only recently began to have the space to exist on TV. GLAAD’s 2022 “Where We Are on TV” report found that 11.9% of all characters on prime-time TV are of the LGBTQ community, a record high.

While filming Season 1 of “P-Valley,” Annan recalled, a nonbinary production assistant thanked him for the work he was doing on the show. When Annan told them he was just doing his job, the PA told him they were dressed in all black for the job but normally they dress like Uncle Clifford. They told Annan, “If I had seen a character on TV like Uncle Clifford when I was younger, I wouldn’t have tried to take my life.”

Annan said he was “stuck.” He said, “Because, my God, what a pressure, but also what a gift, what a gift. It has taught me that, Nicco Annan, you have a place.”

Nicco Annan says he wants more people who look like him to feel celebrated in Hollywood.
Nicco Annan says he wants more people who look like him to feel celebrated in Hollywood.

Embodying this role has done a lot for Annan, reminding himself of the space that is rightfully his in this industry as well.

“If this had happened in 2009, when we first started the project, it would be a very different experience. I don’t think that the world was ready,” Annan said. “I think that the world is in a place where we can see women for who they truly are. We can see Black bodies, we can see full bodies in a space that are not overly sexualized. There’s a level of artistry, there’s a level of appreciation for the sheen, for the stretch marks, for the tiger stripes and the sun rays.”

Annan has TV and film plans on the horizon. He hopes, more than anything, that more people who look like him experience true celebration in Hollywood, and not just in the form of awards and accolades.

“There will never be another Nicco Annan. I’m not trying to be anyone else. There are many people that have gone before me that I stand on their shoulders, and I love for all of us to be able to have time and shine. It’s really dope to be around, especially on a pop culture kind of show, and bringing this level of artistry and integrity to the characters. I always want to tell gritty, hard, beautiful, complex stories because in there is light. In there is fun, and there is joy. That is what this experience of life is truly all about.”





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