Paris Pinacotheque museum closes as visitor numbers drop post attacks

2016-02-14 09:01:05

PARIS The Paris Pinacotheque, one of France's rare privately owned art museums, will close on Monday as visitor numbers have plunged following the November shootings in Paris. The Pinacotheque, which has been under court receivership for three months, said that like all Paris museums it had suffered a dramatic drop in attendance.Opened in 2007, the Pinacotheque's two exhibition spaces on the Place de la Madeleine in central Paris mainly ran temporary exhibits with works loaned from other museums or private collections and had a testy relationship with the public French museum world."The disastrous economic climate due to a large extent to the Nov. 13 attacks forces us to close the Madeleine sites in Paris," the museum said in a statement.Last year's show on Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secession attracted nearly 400,000 visitors, according to the museum. Following the November attacks in which Islamist militants killed 130 people and the January 2015 attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish deli in which 17 people were killed, the Paris tourist industry has suffered. Preliminary official data released late January showed museum attendance in the Paris region had dropped 5 percent last year. The Louvre, the world's most visited museum, saw visitor numbers drop to 8.7 million from 9.3 million in 2014. The Pinacotheque will close on Monday evening, prematurely ending an exhibition of photographs by fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld which was set to run until the end of March. The museum said it hopes to reopen in a less expensive site in a few years, adding that part of its permanent collection - made up mainly from private collector's loans - would be partly relocated to the Singapore Pinacotheque de Paris.Founder Marc Restellini told Le Monde that as a private museum the Pinacotheque struggled to compete with state-owned museums, which do not pay rent or value-added tax on their ticket sales. Major private art museums such as Fondation Maeght in southeast France, Jacquemart-Andre in Paris and the recently opened Paris Louis Vuitton Foundation, are rare in France, where the state runs most top collections.On its website, the Pinacotheque offered a 50 percent reduction on all items in its gift shop until Monday evening, but displayed no clear announcement that the museum would be closed and its online ticket booking was open on Saturday. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq, editing by David Evans)

California desert to be protected as national monument

2016-02-13 06:30:10

Some 1.8 million acres of scenic California desert were designated national monuments by U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday, roughly doubling the amount of public land set aside for protection during his presidency.Obama's protection of three sections of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts means that the federal government, which owns the land, will not be able to sell it, build new roads or allow new development that is not in keeping with such uses as recreation, environmental protection and flood control."The California desert is a cherished and irreplaceable resource for the people of southern California," Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said Friday. It was the second time in less than two years that Obama has stepped in to protect large swaths of California wilderness after Congress was unable to agree on setting them aside, and the latest example of Obama using executive power to act on issues stalled in Congress. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, tried for years to persuade Congress to set aside the desert land, located southeast of Los Angeles in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties and owned by the federal government.When her effort became mired in partisan politics, Obama agreed to use his executive power to designate the three areas as national monuments.Similarly, in 2014 Obama set aside a 540-square mile section of the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles after Rep. Judy Chu attempted unsuccessfully to win approval for its protection in Congress. Opponents in both cases said naming the land national monuments could lead to restrictions on rights held by local businesses, or impact the type of recreational activity that could take place.But the White House said that the designations would not change any existing rights to use the land. The new protected areas include the 1.6 million acre Mojave Trails National Monument, which includes rugged mountains, ancient lava flows and sand dunes, the White House said.Obama, who was set to visit the desert city of Palm Springs on Friday, also set aside the Sand to Snow National Monument, 154,000 acres from the desert floor to mountain peaks, and Castle Mountains National Monument, 21,000 acres connecting two mountain ranges. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Kanye West's new album and fashion show draw 20 million viewers

2016-02-12 05:01:05

LOS ANGELES More than 20 million viewers watched rapper and fashion designer Kanye West put his own twist on a New York Fashion Week runway show on Thursday as he debuted a new album and clothing collection at famed music venue Madison Square Garden. West, his reality star wife Kim Kardashian and her family, including former NBA basketball player Lamar Odom, entered the Manhattan venue to cheers from the audience. It is the first time Odom, the estranged husband of Khloe Kardashian, has been seen in public since he fell into a coma after using cocaine at a brothel last October and was hospitalized. The was streamed for free online via subscription music streaming service Tidal, garnering around 20 million viewers according to the platform. Tidal, which touts hi-fidelity streaming, is co-owned by a group of music's top artists including West, Jay Z, Rihanna and Beyonce. As West played new tracks for his upcoming "The Life of Pablo" album, dozens of models were unveiled standing on raised platforms in the center of the arena, wearing the new Yeezy Season 3 that West designed for sports brand Adidas. The collection, launched on the first day of the city's fashion week, featured West's penchant for neutral tones but included bright pops of pink, red and orange across the collection of leotards, tops, leggings and parkas worn by a diverse group of models. West also announced an upcoming video game called "Only Once," which he said was about his late mother Donda West's journey to the gates of heaven.The show quickly became a top social media trend, as fans tweeted about the collection and the music. One particular explicit lyric regarding Taylor Swift on new track "Famous" garnered a strong response from fans as West rapped that he had made the pop star famous, referring to the their infamous 2009 MTV Video Music Awards incident where West interrupted Swift's acceptance speech on stage. Swift and West had since buried the hatchet, but fans speculated the new lyrics could incite a feud between the two music stars. Also getting in on the action, former drug executive Martin Shkreli tweeted out a letter addressed to West offering to buy "The Life of Pablo" for $10 million so that it would be released solely to him, and kept from the public. Shkreli is currently being sued over his Wu-Tang album "Once Upon A Time in Shaolin," the sole copy of which he bought for $2 million. West has yet to respond to Shkreli. (Story refiles to add dropped word "streaming" in paragraph 4) (Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Obama says confident in legal footing after Supreme Court climate decision

2016-02-11 23:30:10

ATHERTON, Calif. U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday called the Supreme Court's decision to delay implementation of his administration's Clean Power Plan "unusual" and expressed confidence that the White House would prevail."We’re very confident that we’re on strong legal footing," he told a group of Democratic donors in California in his first public remarks about the move. (Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

2016-02-10 00:30:10

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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