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TOKYO (AP) — It may not be as famous as Japanese anime legend Studio Ghibli, but Kyoto Animation has many core fans and is known as a team of skilled animators that provides top-quality work for others and can produce its own hits, such as “Lucky Star,” ”K-On!” and the “Haruhi Suzumiya” series.

The company hit by a suspected arson on Thursday that killed 33 people and injured 36 others also has a unique founding history.

It was started in 1981 by a former animator who recruited housewives from her neighborhood in Uji city south of Kyoto, where she married and moved from Tokyo, the center of the animation industry.

Yoko Hatta previously had worked at Mushi Production, a studio for the works of anime legend Osamu Tezuka, who created Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion.

The company, better known as KyoAni, doesn’t have a major presence in Japan but has won gradual recognition while providing secondary animation work for major productions. Their work included a 1998 “Pokemon” feature that appeared in U.S. theaters and a “Winnie the Pooh” video.

While providing work for top artists, the company has been able to make and feature its own stories in Japanese TV anime and comic series. Some of its mega-hits include “Lucky Star” in 2008, “K-On!” in 2011 and “Haruhi Suzumiya” in 2009. The company was preparing for a planned release of a new feature animation film “Violet Evergarden,” a story of a woman who professionally writes letters for clients.

Places featured in the hit animation stories have become pilgrimage destinations for anime fans.

Among them is Washinoniya Jinja, a shrine in Saitama prefecture just north of Tokyo, a scene in the TV animation series “Lucky Star,” or “Raki Suta,” based on comics by Kagami Yoshimizu.

Years after the TV animation ended, the area still attracts fans of Raki Suta girls, with goods featuring the characters sold at its neighborhood stores, and a portable shrine decorated with the anime characters appearing at an annual festival in September.

Ryusuke Hikawa, a pop culture expert at Meiji University, said Kyoto Animation became a brand name for “a general company that can provide high-quality presentation and animation,” while demonstrating its capability even away from Tokyo.

“Kyoto Animation demonstrated that a top brand can come from outside the capital,” Hikawa told an interview with NHK television. “It was a major breakthrough, and was a revolutionary change to the Japanese animation industry.”

The company’s 160 employees work at studios in Uji and Kyoto and an office in Tokyo. The company also trains aspiring animators, produces and sells novelty goods featuring its characters. A store selling such items is near the studio damaged by Thursday’s fire.

The attack, in which a man shouting “You die!” poured a flammable liquid near the entrance and set it ablaze, shocked animation fans across in and outside Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe mourned for the victims as he tweeted that he was speechless at the magnitude of the damage.

Anime fans expressed anger, prayed and mourned for the victims on social media. A cloud-funding site was set up to help the company rebuild.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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WTOP by Hallie Mellendorf - 58m ago

Some things we just don’t need to know.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he will nominate lawyer Eugene Scalia to be his new labor secretary.

Scalia is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He is a partner in the Washington office of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm.

Trump tweets that Scalia “is highly respected not only as a lawyer, but as a lawyer with great experience working with labor and everyone else.”

Trump’s previous labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, resigned last week. Acosta has come under renewed criticism for his handling of a 2008 secret plea deal with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is accused of sexually abusing underage girls.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats (all times local):

8:35 p.m.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar says she isn’t backing down in her criticism of President Donald Trump.

The freshman Democrat says she’s going to “continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us.”

A defiant Omar spoke to a crowd of supporters who greeted her at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday night as she returned from Washington. The Somali-American has been targeted this week by President Donald Trump who has questioned her patriotism. On Wednesday, Trump’s supporters chanted “Send her back” at a rally in North Carolina. Omar arrived in the U.S. as a child when her family fled violence.

Omar’s supporters held signs saying “End racism now” and “I stand with Ilhan.” She told them she was not deterred: “We are not frightened. We are ready.”

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1:55 p.m.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says President Donald Trump’s attacks on her and three other Democratic congresswomen are putting millions of Americans at risk of physical harm.

The New York Democrat says Trump “put millions of Americans in danger” at a rally in Greenville, N.C., where Trump supporters chanted “send her back” about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, an immigrant from Somalia.

Ocasio-Cortez told reporters Trump’s “rhetoric is endangering lots of people. This is not just about threats to individual members of Congress, but it is about creating a volatile environment in this country through violent rhetoric that puts anyone, like Ilhan, anyone who believes in the rights of all people in danger and I think that he has a responsibility for that environment.”

Trump claims he “was not happy” when his supporters at a rally Wednesday night in North Carolina chanted “send her back” in reference to Omar. Trump said last weekend that Omar and other progressive Democratic lawmakers of color should leave the country and “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” over their criticism of his administration.

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1:25 p.m.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Somali-born congresswoman and target of “send her back” chants at President Donald Trump’s campaign rally, is lashing out at Trump, calling him “fascist.”

The Minnesota Democrat made the remark to reporters Thursday, a day after Trump accused her and other progressive Democratic lawmakers of color of disliking the U.S.

During his Wednesday night rally, Trump slowly surveyed the crowd but did nothing to stop the “send her back” chants after his remarks about Omar.

Omar told reporters: “We have condemned his remarks. I believe he is fascist.”

Omar cited the chants, saying, “This is what this president and his supporters have turned our country” into.

She says Trump’s taunt that she and others should return to their native countries is “to every single person who shares an identity with me. He’s telling them that this is not their country.”

___

1:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he “was not happy” when his supporters at a rally Wednesday night in North Carolina chanted “send her back” in reference to Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Trump is claiming that he thought he ended the chant at the rally, saying “‘I felt badly about it.” But video shows him pausing his remarks and not admonishing his supporters.

He adds he “would certainly try” to stop the chant should it return.

Trump said this weekend that Omar and other progressive Democratic lawmakers of color should leave the country and “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” over their criticism of his administration. The racist message sparked days of controversy, as the president sought to make the progressive lawmakers the face of their party.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Trump says he will nominate Gene Scalia, son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for Labor Secretary.

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) — The wife of a U.S. Army sergeant from Michigan who plotted to kill her husband has been found guilty of murder.

Kemia Hassel was convicted Thursday by a Berrien County jury in the death of Sgt. Tyrone Hassel III.

The 23-year-old Hassel was fatally shot in an ambush on New Year’s Eve while visiting his family in St. Joseph Township.

Prosecutors contended during trial that Kemia Hassel told police she spent months planning her husband’s death so she could continue a romantic relationship with 24-year-old Jeremy Cuellar. All three were soldiers stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia.

Judge Angela Pasula set Kemia Hassel’s sentencing for Aug. 29.

Cuellar is in custody on a $2.5 million bond, and will be tried in August on first degree premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges.

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The search for a new police chief for Montgomery County, Maryland, appears to be over — but there’s no official word about who is being considered for the post.

County Executive Marc Elrich said he has chosen a candidate. On Thursday, the county council that approves appointments told Elrich it wants formal notification of the selection.

“We have received a confidential transmittal, but not an official (one),” Council Chair Nancy Navarro said. “So, at this point, we don’t have a particular appointee to consider.”

In a letter sent to Elrich, Navarro states:

“In your recent comments to the press, you have identified this candidate without mentioning her name. Also, members of the press have been in touch with me and have mentioned her name. Regardless, I await receipt of your formal letter confirming this individual as your choice.”

A nationwide search for a replacement for former chief Tom Manger, who retired this spring, has been underway since February.

The Washington Post reported last week that the search for a new police chief was down to three finalists. Since then, two have been removed from consideration: acting Chief Marcus Jones and Takoma Park police Chief Antonio DeVaul.

That leaves Tonya Chapman, who was chief of the Portsmouth, Virginia, police department before abruptly resigning last March. Chapman said that she was forced to resign from the Portsmouth Police Department and accused officers in the department of racism.

“In this instance, I believe strongly that we do need time to do our due diligence, as well, and be able to send over to the administration as many questions as possible,” Navarro said.

It could be September before Elrich’s candidate for police chief is publicly interviewed by the Montgomery County Council, considering all that Navarro said needs to happen first.

“When we know, officially, who the nominee is, then we need to go through the vetting of, ‘Is this the person who has the best combination of experience, track record, etc.,'” Navarro said.

Before an interview is scheduled with the candidate, Navarro expects council members will submit numbers of questions to the executive by mid-August over what the candidate vetting process included and how finalists were selected.

The council has the month of August off and returns from its summer break in September.

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana judge ruled Thursday that a damage lawsuit can continue against the NFL over the playoff “no-call” that helped the Los Angeles Rams beat the New Orleans Saints and advance to the Super Bowl.

State Civil District Court Judge Nicole Sheppard also ruled that attorney Antonio “Tony” LeMon can request documents and ask questions of NFL officials. LeMon said that means he will be able to question Commissioner Roger Goodell and three game officials in depositions about the lack of a penalty — pass interference or roughness — against Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman for his helmet-to-helmet hit on receiver Tommylee Lewis well before a pass arrived. The play came during a crucial point in January’s NFC title game.

Attorneys representing the NFL in the case didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment. LeMon said he was informed Thursday that NFL attorneys, whose bid to stop the suit was rejected, would seek relief at a state appeal court.

LeMon says money isn’t the object of the February suit he and three others filed, which alleges fraud by NFL officials. It seeks only $75,000, which LeMon said would go to charity.

“The purpose of the lawsuit is not to get some minuscule amount of money. They won’t even notice that,” LeMon said. “It’s to get at the truth.”

Other suits dealing with the blown call have wound up in federal court, where they have failed. They included one long-shot effort to have the game or a crucial part of it played over before the Rams met the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, which the Patriots won.

LeMon said that by seeking $75,000 in damages, he keeps the suit below a threshold that could result in it begin transferred to federal court, as other suits have been.

“I feel that their record in the federal courts is way too good,” he said. He also wants the case tried under Louisiana law and jurisprudence, he said.

LeMon said he wants what he describes as a “mountain” of evidence in the case. He said he wants to know, among other things, whether the officials involved in the play were disciplined for not throwing a flag. “I want their personnel files. I want their gradings,” he said. “I want their notes from the game.”

A flag on the play would have meant a first down for the Saints, who could have run down the clock and won the game with a field goal. Instead, the Saints kicked a go-ahead field goal with 1:41 left. The Rams came back to tie with a field goal before winning in overtime.

In April, NFL owners voted to next season allow pass interference calls to be challenged by coaches and reviewed on replay by officials.

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — A judge ruled Thursday that 17 former members of El Salvador’s military, including ex-leaders of the armed forces, will also face charges of torture, forced disappearance and forced displacement related to the 1981 El Mozote massacre, a gruesome point in the country’s civil war.

The new charges encompass alleged crimes against humanity stemming from the incident in the early years of the conflict, according to the ruling in San Francisco Gotera, a town northeast of the capital. The defendants already were on trial on charges that include murder, rape, theft and terrorism.

Four of the 17 weren’t in court because of illness or travel outside El Salvador. None are being held, but the court said Thursday that the defendants must stay in the country.

The government and insurgents signed a peace accord in 1992 to end the 12-year war, which killed more than 75,000 people. 

The massacre in the village of El Mozote, 75 miles (120 kilometers) from San Salvador, took place over three days in December 1981.The Atlacatl battalion, which was trained in counterinsurgency tactics in the U.S., set out to find guerrillas but ended up killing civilians.

The official death toll was 989, including farmers and children. Many of the victims’ bodies were thrown into a church that was burned to the ground. In one mass grave, forensic analysts found 136 skeletal remains of children who averaged 6 years of age.

A 1983 report by the United Nations Truth Commission blamed the massacre on Col. Domingo Monterrosa, commander of the Atlacatl battalion; Col. Armando Azmitia, and six other officers who were never put on trial because of an amnesty law. Monterrosa and Azmitia died at El Mozote in 1984 when a helicopter in which they were flying exploded when fired on by guerrillas.

Among those facing new charges are former Defense Minister José Guillermo García; retired Gen. Rafael Flores Lima, a former head of the armed forces; and retired Gen. Juan Rafael Bustillo, former leader of the air force.

Bustillo has repeatedly claimed his innocence and petitioned the judge that he not be required to come to court for fear of being harmed by the victims’ families.

Victims’ relatives showed up at the hearing to demand justice, holding signs with phrases like: “The murderers want us to forget so they can secure their impunity” and “Neither forgiveness, nor forgetting.”

In mapping out the chain of military command and weighing the evidence, the court said it took into account opinions from military experts, historians and anthropologists.

Judge Jorge Guzmán Urquilla ordered the investigation reopened after El Salvador’s Supreme Court repealed the 1993 General Amnesty Law that had prevented war crimes and crimes against humanity from being investigated.

At the beginning of the trial, in early 2017, Guzmán Urquilla subpoenaed 18 former military members, including García and Flores Lima.

On Thursday, the judge told Col. Jesús Gabriel Contreras Alfaro, who was the head of operations for the armed forces in 1981, that evidence suggests he participated in the massacre.

Contreras Alfaro defended himself, saying that the events in El Mozote did not take place in the framework of a “regular war.”

David Morales, the one-time head of El Salvador’s human rights commission who now represents the victims, said he hasn’t heard the accused express any remorse, accountability or solidarity with the victims.

“I didn’t hear anyone ask for forgiveness, or say sorry,” Morales said.

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s National Migration Institute says child protection officials have assisted since December more than 10,000 unaccompanied minors, most of them from Central America.

The institute shared images online Thursday of child protection workers painting with grade school age children, and reading them stories. The agency said it ensures that the children are adequately fed, clothed, rested and that their basic health needs are met.

The agency said officials also update children on their migration status and make sure they are in regular contact with their family members via telephone.

Most of the children were born in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua.

The agency said it has also assisted since December more than 5,000 Mexican children who have been repatriated from the U.S.

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