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Musings From Abroad

Will Smith resigns from Academy over Oscar slap

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Veteran US actor Will Smith has voluntarily resigned from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, after the embarrassment he caused by slapping comedian and show host, Chris Rock, on stage during the Oscars on Sunday, March 27.

Announcing his decision in a statement by his publicist on Friday, Smith said:

“I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable.

“The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home.

“I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”

Smith had sensationally stormed the stage to slap Rock over a joke the comedian made about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head which is a result of an hair-loss condition known as alopecia.

Smith would go on to win the best actor award for his role in the Ministry “King Richard,” where he played the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

Shortly after Smith’s statement, the Academy said it has accepted the resignation and would “continue to move forward” with disciplinary proceedings against the actor.

David Rubin, President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said in a statement Friday that the organization has received and accepted Smith’s “immediate resignation.”

“We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18,” Rubin added.

Such disciplinary proceedings could include stripping Smith of the Oscar he won although that seems unlikely, but he would definitely be denied future appearance at Academy Awards ceremonies.

According to the regulations guiding the Academy, disciplinary actions include suspension or expulsion, along with “other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”

Only a handful of actors have been expelled from the Academy in the past including Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, but it was not clear if the same fate was about to befall Smith before he threw in the towel.

But with Smith willingly resigning from the organization of movie stars, directors and producers, he will no longer be able to vote on Oscar-nominated movies and performances each year but he works will still be eligible for future Oscars consideration and nominations.

Musings From Abroad

Swiss firm, ABB, gets $4.3 million fine over bribery case in South Africa

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Judicial authority in Switzerland has fined engineering and technology group ABB, the sum of 4 million Swiss francs ($4.3 million) in connection with a bribery case in South Africa.

According to the country’s Attorney General, the fine on ABB is for “not having taken all necessary and reasonable organisational provisions in order to prevent bribery payments to foreign officials in South Africa”.

The group was found guilty of improper payments and other compliance issues at the Kusile power station after a wide-scale investigation into state corruption concluded in June 2022.

Earlier in the week, ABB and South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) agreed that the company will pay reparations for its involvement in state corruption.

According to a statement by the NPA, the company agreed to pay 2.5 billion rands ($144.51 million) in punitive reparations to South Africa within 60 days from the first day of December.

The reparation is in addition to 1.6 billion rand ($92.48 million)the company paid back to South African state power utility Eskom in 2020.

The Central Europe country has been fingered in lots of corruption cases involving African countries.

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Musings From Abroad

United States: Appeal court rejects President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

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President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel student loan debt has suffered a new setback as a federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to support it.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit in Wednesday’s brief order declined to put Pittman’s ruling on hold while the administration appealed his decision, but the court directed that the appeal be heard on an expedited basis.

The court declined to put on hold a Texas judge’s ruling that said President Biden’s move was unlawful.

President Biden had requested to pause a judge’s Nov. 10 order vacating the $400 billion student debt relief program in a lawsuit pursued by a conservative advocacy group.

President Joe Biden announced plans earlier this year to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt for borrowers who qualify and extend the federal student loan payment pause until the end of the year.

As of the fourth quarter of 2021, the average federal student loan debt balance in the United States was $37,787 while the total average balance (including private loan debt) may be as high as $40,780.

The US Department of Education had already approved requests from 16 million to about 26 million Americans that applied for student loan forgiveness.

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