Today News
A+ A A-
AFP and Tribune Wires

New York, United States — Gender equality may be the hot topic at Hollywood red carpets and press conferences but Claire Foy’s pay on “The Crown” demonstrates that, beyond the rhetoric, progress remains painfully slow.
Producers admitted this week that Matt Smith, Prince Philip on the hit Netflix drama, had negotiated a better deal than Foy — the star of the show as Queen Elizabeth II — because of his perceived higher profile.
They did not reveal either salary but said Smith’s 2010-2013 starring role on the BBC’s “Doctor Who” had been the decisive factor.
Varietymagazine last year put Foy’s pay at $40,000 an episode.
The revelation made headlines around the world but can hardly have been a surprise to anyone following the rankings of Hollywood’s highest paid actors, tabulated annually by Forbes magazine.
Emma Stone placed top of the female earnings list last year, but the inconvenient truth for progressive Hollywood is that she would have ranked a paltry 15th had the chart included men.
Treatment of women in show business has been in the spotlight since the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal last year touched off a deluge of allegations that brought down powerful men in public life.
Companies, government agencies and even the US federal court system have been forced to re-evaluate sexual harassment policies, while bosses have been confronted with the unfairness of actresses’ pay.
One corollary of a painful period of soul-searching has been the lifting of the taboo against discussing pay in public. Stories of unfairness have begun to surface with increasing regularity.
“You were not supposed to talk about salary, which is why all these conversations about pay equity in Hollywood are so refreshing, because it’s not something that was shared,” says Melissa Silverstein, founder of the Women and Hollywood website.
Oscar-nominated “All the Money in the World” hit the headlines in January when Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams were called back to reshoot scenes expunging Kevin Spacey, who was sacked over allegations of sexual abuse.
It emerged that Williams had been paid less than $1,000 for the extra work while Wahlberg got $1.5 million, a bonus he ended up giving away to the Time’s Up women’s movement as the furore blew up.
While Wahlberg’s gesture was considered noble and generous, pundits objected that it didn’t address the inherent unfairness.
Silverstein told AFP, however, that the simple fact that people were beginning to notice and talk about the issue was “change-making.”
“To understand why it’s so exciting and revolutionary that people are actually sharing salaries now is because it pierces the silence,” she said.
Television has traditionally boasted a more progressive approach to pay, in no small part thanks to the stars of hit 1990s sit-com “Friends,” who set the standard by negotiating as a team for the same salaries.
‘Game of chicken’
The lead cast of “The Big Bang Theory” and “Game of Thrones” followed suit and all earn the same — estimated at a shade under $1 million an episode for the sit-com and $500,000 for “Thrones.”
“Gray’s Anatomy” heroine Ellen Pompeo also got in on the act when she renegotiated her contract to boost her pay to $20 million a year, or $575,000 per episode.
A star’s value to Hollywood, says Silverstein, is determined not by his or her talent or even commercial potential but by what is known as their “quotes” — whatever amount of money they earned on their last project.
Foy, 33, was already making a name for herself in British costume drama, with roles in “Upstairs Downstairs” and “Wolf Hall,” when she was tapped to play the queen but her star profile was slightly lower than Smith’s.
Critics argued on Twitter that the pay discrepancy should only have shown up in the first season, before Foy was garlanded with awards and acclaim.
“This is how TV works. People who are getting a break and don’t have quotes make less than people who do,” Judd Apatow, the veteran filmmaker behind more than 40 movies, tweeted in reaction to the Foy story.
He described pay negotiations as “a scary game of chicken” and said Foy’s pay would have been determined by “her willingness to walk away if the rate offered is not acceptable to her.”
“It is usually not about gender. It is often illogical,” the veteran producer of “The Big Sick,” “Trainwreck” and “Bridesmaids” added.
“She should have gotten that raise for (the) second season, for sure. They always make you fight an ugly battle for it.” 

Hosh Nasri, Syria — Syrian soldier Ayman al-Khatib scoured the crowds streaming out of Eastern Ghouta until he spotted his parents. Falling to his knees, he embraced them for the first time in seven years.
A year after the young fighter left his hometown in 2011 for compulsory military service, Ghouta fell to rebels — putting Khatib and his parents on opposite sides of one of Syria’s most ferocious battlefronts.
“We were separated for too long. Today, I got my soul back by seeing him again,” said Khatib’s 51-year-old father Zakariya, after the emotional reunion.
Zakariya and the rest of the Khatib family were among around 2,000 people who fled Ghouta on Friday through a “safe corridor” leading into government-held territory.
Tens of thousands are estimated to have fled Ghouta, using two access routes carved out by the Syrian army as part of its assault on the one-time opposition bastion on the outskirts of the capital.
“My joy today is two-fold — the first is that I saw my son after long years of yearning,” said Zakariya, clutching Khatib’s face with both hands and checking it for any scars or wounds from fighting.
“The second joy is that I left oppression, injustice, and hunger.”
The towns, villages, and lush agricultural fields that make up Eastern Ghouta were home to around 400,000 residents, but had been sealed off from nearby Damascus since 2013.
With all roads closed, Khatib was not able to attend the funeral of his brother, killed two years ago in the violence ravaging the suburb.
Loved ones still inside
Since February 18, the government’s air and ground assault has recaptured 70 percent of Ghouta, and Khatib was battling alongside the troops as they pressed into his own hometown.
“I was flustered, there was a pit in my heart. On the one hand, I was scared for my parents. On the other, I wanted to do my duty,” he said.
On Thursday, he managed to contact his family, who said they would try to flee their battered neighborhood the following day.
“I looked for them in the massive crowds until I found them. I was like a thirsty man in the desert who finally found water,” Khatib said.
Setting aside his rifle and grinning, he picked up three of his youngest relatives, born in Zabdin after he left and whom he had never met.
Similar reunions were taking place all along the dusty roadside, where displaced families were awaiting buses to take them to temporary shelters in Damascus.
Waving away food and bread, 60-year-old Zahraa Nasser sobbed uncontrollably on her nephew’s shoulders, also an army fighter.
“He recognized me before I knew him — his face has changed so much,” said Nasser.
Just like Khatib, Aref Awad had left his hometown in Ghouta to serve out his compulsory military service in 2011, just as Syria’s war was breaking out.
“Today, I’m getting a sense of the value of my participation in the battles,” Awad told AFP.
“My aunt was freed, but I still have loved ones inside,” he said.
‘We lost seven years’
Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, said 40,000 people had escaped on Thursday alone.
The influx has overwhelmed the temporary shelters set up on the edges of Damascus by Syrian authorities, who were bracing themselves Friday for new numbers.
“There will be a lot of new people arriving today. We’re trying to get new places to shelter them and bring them basic services,” said Ratib Adas, deputy governor of Damascus province.
In Adra, a government-held quarter north of Ghouta, some 3,000 displaced people were being hosted in a school-turned-shelter.
Some water and food had been distributed, but many had spent the night sleeping on the floor and long lines formed at the public bathrooms.
“We spent 27 days living in terror, fear, under bombing,” said Yassin, a 35-year-old man who fled Hammuriyeh.
The recapture of his hometown this week by Syrian troops had allowed authorities to open up their second and much larger “corridor” for residents to flee.
Yassin was relieved to leave the bombing behind, but feared an uncertain future for him and his four children.
“I want to work to feed my family. I don’t need someone to feed me,” he told AFP.
“We lost seven years of our lives. We want to start afresh. But can we? No.” 

Miami, United States—The death toll from the collapse of a pedestrian bridge has risen to at least six, Miami police said Friday as crews searched under the huge concrete slabs which fell onto a busy highway.
The operation has shifted from rescue to body recovery, with engineers fearing the support structures at either end of the bridge could also come down, Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta told reporters.
“The entire bridge is in jeopardy,” he said.
The walkway, which connects Florida International University to a student housing area, went up less than a week ago but was not yet operational.
Ten people were taken to hospital, Zabaleta said, with emergency crews working all through the night at the scene.
Video footage on CNN shows the concrete structure suddenly crashing onto the road below. At least eight cars were trapped when the 950-ton bridge suddenly gave way on Thursday, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Division Chief Paul Estopinan said earlier. 

Police detective Juan Carlos Llera said when the bridge came down, it “sounded like an explosion. A huge bang.”
“It looks like a disaster area. It looks literally like a bomb went off,” Llera told AFP.
Loose cables
The bridge was suspended from cables which had come loose and while they were being tightened, the whole thing collapsed, Florida Senator Marco Rubio wrote on Twitter.
The bridge had only been installed on Saturday, ahead of its planned opening in 2019.
Isabella Carrasco, who arrived at the scene shortly afterwards, told CNN some cars were completely crushed and that there was “a lot of debris everywhere.”
She saw one woman get out of a car that was “just nicked” and rescue personnel performing life-saving CPR on another person in the road.
Another shaken driver, Lynnell Collins, told CNN he was about to make a right turn when “the whole thing really just came down.”
“I got out of my car and me and a few other people were sprinting over there. We started helping people whose cars were at least half crushed and whoever was easily saved.”
He said he saw two trucks that were completely crushed.
Quickly erected
The university had only recently been celebrating the construction of the bridge across a busy and dangerous section of highway that students said had been the scene of accidents.
It had been erected using an accelerated modular building method that enabled it to go up in the space of a day.
“We are stunned by today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge,” said FIGG Engineering Group, one of the partners involved in the walkway’s construction.
“We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why,” the firm said in a statement.
“In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before.”
“Continuing to monitor the heartbreaking bridge collapse at FIU - so tragic,” President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Many brave First Responders rushed in to save lives. Thank you for your courage. Praying this evening for all who are affected,” he said.
Bridge collapses in the United States are infrequent despite rising risks associated with aging infrastructure. 






Life Style




Unit 102, 1020 Bel-Air apartment, Roxas Blvd, Ermita, Manila Copyright 2000-2017 All rights reserved, The Daily Tribune Publishing Inc.