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Amidst a hostile takeover by the Taliban, Afghan artists are consolidating their next move. In addition to vocalizing the disappointment in the US on its lack of follow-up in light of the humanitarian crisis, many artists fear the looming censorship and consequences brought about by their artworks. Some artists are scrambling to take down any proof of their art on the pretext of violent retaliation, while others are formalizing their sheer outrage in artistic displays of rebellion as a swan song before going underground. The general consensus is that the Taliban will forgo any protection of artistic integrity in Afghanistan despite its contribution to a national narrative. Afghan woman activist and fashion designer Laila Noor says that “one needs to be sensitive and ask, what is important for the people of this country? These barbarians do not have anything to do with the arts and culture, but other people in Afghanistan do. It is these people who need support and security and who should not be simply delivered to those who have no respect for the arts, culture, or women.”
Instigated by a review of non-core assets following its re-merger in December 2019, the network giant ViacomCBS is selling its Black Rock headquarters in Midtown Manhattan to real estate firm Harbor Group International. Designed by Eero Saarinen, the hallmark tower was the base of CBS since its inauguration in 1964; it is now slated for an interior revamp of its lobby and cafeteria areas, among other amenities, under its new owner. The $760 million transaction is expected to close by the end of the year. Although the Harbor Group has the financial capacity to pursue a long-term contract, CBS is expected to lease back the 38-storey skyscraper on a short-term basis. As noted by Naveen Chopra, EVP and Chief Financial Officer for ViacomCBS, the sale will “further financial flexibility to invest in our strategic growth priorities, including streaming.”
A new Harvard study has confirmed health experts’ early suspicions of polluted air heightening the chances of contracting Covid-19. Historically, the atmospheric ramifications of wildfires have caused a multitude of health problems for those who reside in nearby areas, and last summer’s explosive fire season recorded 20,000 infected persons due to smoky air. The small particulate matter, PM 2.5, in smoke hinders the white blood cells in the lungs from expelling infections, thereby making people exposed to fires at a higher risk of contracting a more severe infection. “We were not terribly surprised by the results as scientists,” says co-author Kevin Josey, “but as humans we are dismayed about the impacts.”