There is an interesting article at Quartz looking at the PR problem Pope Francis could face if he tries to mend relations with Beijing.
For those of you not up to date on Sino-Vatican relations, China hasn't held official talks with the Holy See since the 1950s. The communist country actually allows a state-sponsored version of the church to exist, but it has clashed repeatedly with the Vatican. Several of its bishops were even excommunicated after they were appointed without the Vatican's approval.
There have been signs, however, that relations have been thawing — the most notable example being when Pope Francis and Chinese President Xi Jiping exchanged correspondence — and speculation has been growing that the pope might make a visit. (And no, it's not because Pope Francis has a natural affinity to a communist country.) At Quartz, Heather Timmons shows just what a minefield such a visit could turn out to be:
There are an estimated 12 million Catholics in China, but they are divided between the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a group created by Communist Party in 1957 that does not recognize the Vatican as its head, and an underground, technically illegal, Catholic church that recognizes the Pope (and still has millions of members).
Visiting China in an official capacity would almost certainly require a meeting with the former, but Pope Francis would be unlikely to want to come without a promised meeting with the underground group as well, which would embarrass Beijing. [Quartz] Nico Lauricella
Baltimore's police commissioner on Friday conceded that officers made mistakes in their handling of Freddie Gray, the unarmed black man who died last weekend of a severe spinal injury while in custody.
"We know that police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner," Commissioner Anthony Batts said, adding that 30 investigators are probing the incident.
"If someone harmed Freddie Gray, we will have to prosecute him," Batts said.
As they have all week, demonstrators took to Baltimore's streets Friday to protest the incident. Jon Terbush
After a 40th anniversary screening of the cult classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the five surviving members of the Monty Python comedy troupe — John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones — reunited live on stage on Friday for a special Q&A at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The Q&A was moderated by Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, a longtime Monty Python fan who quickly embraced the anarchic spirit of the evening. As he asked the panel about their career-long commitment to a "healthy disregard for authority," John Cleese wandered around the stage, grabbed Oliver's question sheet, and stuffed his microphone into his mouth, as the rest of the Monty Python members repeatedly switched seats in an impromptu game of musical chairs.
When the Monty Python members did settle down, they spoke engagingly (and often coarsely) on a wide variety of subjects, including the filming of Holy Grail, their 2014 series of live shows at London's 02 stadium, and the state of comedy in general. "I think we don't talk enough about this awful political correcteness," complained Cleese. "I do a lot of… I don't know if they're really racist jokes, but jokes like, 'Why do the French have so many Civil Wars? Answer: Because they like to win one now and again."
"I used to do these jokes, and then I would say, 'There were these two Mexicans,' and the room would freeze. And I would say, 'Why's everybody gone quiet? We did jokes about Swedes, and Germans, and Canadians, and the French. What's the problem about the Mexicans? Are they not big enough to look after themselves?' I find a lot of that very condescending."
The group also recalled the 1989 funeral of deceased Monty Python member Graham Chapman, during which John Cleese delivered a legendarily irreverent eulogy. "Graham's whole ceremony was like that, because we were laughing and then crying, and then laughing and crying. It was as though the emotion was sort of flowing through us, instead of getting blocked, like it usually does in England," said Cleese. "When I was writing it, I got that idea, and I thought, 'No, I can't do that.' And then I thought, 'That's exactly what Graham would like.' Because one thing Graham could not stand was what he called mindless good taste."
John Oliver brought the evening to a close by praising Monty Python one last time. "We've established there's nothing less funny than sincerity, but you're the f----ing greatest," he said, to an enthusiastic standing ovation. Scott Meslow
If you've ever wondered what the Joker would look like if he shopped at Hot Topic, now you know.
To celebrate the Joker's 75th anniversary, Suicide Squad director David Ayer on Friday shared a teaser image of Jared Leto as the film's interpretation of the iconic Batman character.
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) April 25, 2015
In contrast to previous takes on the villain, the film seems to be going for more of a hip, edgy Joker who could just as easily be seen burning down Gotham as he could be seen sneaking cigarettes behind the high school while cursing his parents. The content of the tattoos may scream "crazy!", but the neat artistry of the designs whispers "Crazytown." Jon Terbush
Famed Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner on Friday came out as transgender in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, saying he is transitioning from male to female.
"For all intents and purposes, I'm a woman," Jenner said.
"Bruce lives a lie," the 65-year-old Jenner added. "She is not a lie. I can't do it anymore."
Jenner said his struggles with gender identity began as a child when he would try on his mother's clothing, and it continued in private for decades even as he became a masculine icon while winning gold in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics. In recent months, tabloid rumors abounded surrounding Jenner's then-alleged transition. Jon Terbush
A powerful earthquake on Saturday struck Nepal near the capital Kathmandu, killing hundreds of people and leaving extensive damage across the area. Rescuers are picking through the rubble, and the death toll, which rapidly rose to around 700 in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, is expected to rise further.The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the initial quake's magnitude at 7.8, with at least 15 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or above. Jon Terbush
If there's one person who's glad the Senate gridlock over Loretta Lynch's attorney general nomination is over, it's the man she's set to replace.
The Senate finally voted to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general yesterday, five months after President Obama named her his nominee. Eric Holder, the outgoing attorney general, had announced he would stay at the Justice Department until a successor was named when he resigned in September — but he probably didn't anticipate another half-year in Washington. As months passed and Holder's term dragged on, some of his staff started circulating black rubber wristbands with the message "Free Eric Holder" as a protest of Lynch's protracted nomination.
Now, seven months after announcing his resignation, Holder finally made his goodbye speech Friday. In it, he proclaimed: "I think we can officially say now that Eric Holder is free." He then reportedly took the "Free Eric Holder" wristbands off his wrist and threw them into the audience.
Consider Eric Holder's mic dropped. Kimberly Alters
Robert Downey Jr. walked out of an interview with London's Channel 4 News earlier this week, and the rest of his Avengers: Age of Ultron press tour hasn't fared much better.
In an interview with The Guardian on Thursday, Downey was asked about a 2014 statement by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who said that superhero films were a form of "cultural genocide" for promoting a right-wing agenda.
Downey's response? "Look, I respect the hell out of him, and I think for a man whose native tongue is Spanish to be able to put together a phrase like 'cultural genocide' just speaks to how bright he is," he told The Guardian.
Cosmopolitan for Latinas has deemed Downey's remarks "racist," and E! Online adds that the comment suggests "that native Spanish speakers couldn't be as smart as native English speakers." Downey isn't the only one struggling on this press junket, though: His co-stars Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner called Scarlett Johansson's Avengers character, Black Widow, a "slut" and a "whore" in an interview this week, for which they have since apologized. Meghan DeMaria