Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers to Meet at Super Bowl 50
Last Sunday, the NFL Conference Championships determined the two teams who will meet on 7 February at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California to compete Super Bowl 50. Led by their strong defence – which managed to sack Tom Brady on four occasions, intercepted two of his passes, including one in the second quarter which helped quarterback Peyton Manning to throw his second touchdown of the game, forced a turnover on downs twice in the fourth quarter, and stopped a 2-point conversion with 17 seconds left to play – the Denver Broncos edged the New England Patriots 20-18 to win the AFC Championship. And over in the NFC, the Carolina Panthers dominated the Arizona Cardinals, an 86-yard touchdown reception between Cam Newton and Corey Brown and 17 points unanswered in the first quarter, accompanied by seven turnovers through the course of the game courtesy of the defence, leading them to a 49-15 victory.
The Broncos will be appearing at their second Super Bowl in three years, after suffering a 43-8 defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks at Super Bowl XLVIII. In the process the Broncos will tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and New England Patriots on eight Super Bowl appearances. This will be just the second Super Bowl for the Panthers, but they head into the game favourites on the back of a 15-1 regular season, which made them only the seventh team to win at least fifteen regular season games since the league expanded its schedule in 1978. Super Bowl 50 will pit the Panthers as the NFL’s top offence against the Broncos as the league’s top defence, and it marks the third straight season in which the number one seeds in the AFC and NFC will meet.
Levi’s Stadium was confirmed as the venue for Super Bowl 50 back in May 2013, making the event first Super Bowl in the San Francisco Bay Area since Super Bowl XIX in 1985. In June 2014, the NFL announced that the game would be branded with Arabic numerals as ‘Super Bowl 50’ rather than with the usual Roman numerals, citing the asymmetry of the Roman numeral ‘L’ as well as its connotations with the insult ‘loser’. While the singer of the national anthem has yet to be announced, earlier this month Coldplay were confirmed as the halftime show’s headline act, the band to be accompanied by Beyoncé and Bruno Mars – who respectively headlined at Super Bowl XLVII and XLVIII.
* * *
5th Century Church with Unique Murals Uncovered in Cappadocia
Archaeologists this week announced the discovery of a church in Turkey believed to be 1,500 years old, whose walls bear unique frescoes depicting scenes from the Ascension and Last Judgement. The church was uncovered in the Cappadocia region of Central Anatolia, during excavation work being carried out as part of the Nevşehir Castle Urban Transformation Project.
Nevşehir Province was already home to the Derinkuyu underground city – an ancient multi-level underground city with a depth of 60 metres and enough space to have sheltered around 20,000 people, at the time considered the largest underground city in Turkey – when in 2014 archaeologists revealed what is thought to be an even larger complex in the Nevşehir capital. Carved into the rock, spreading out over an area of 360,000 square meters underneath an old Byzantine castle and eleven city neighborhoods, and with tunnels four miles long, experts have suggested that the site was first inhabited 5,000 years ago.
The cave churches for which Cappadocia is well known began to be cut in the late 4th century, at the time of the Cappadocian Fathers, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus. Together these three men, venerated as saints in both the Eastern and Western traditions, brought many of the ideas and practises of Greek philosophy into the theology of the early Church, shaping the doctrine of the Trinity. Preliminary studies date the church found in Nevşehir to the 5th century.
So far only its roof and upper walls have been uncovered, with the remainder of the structure filled with earth. The excavation has had to be put on hold until the spring with the cold and wet weather causing some of the church’s thin walls to crumble, and humidity threatening the vibrant colours of the paint. Ali Aydın, one of the archaeologists leading the project, said of the frescoes:
‘Only a few of the paintings have been revealed. Others will emerge when the earth is removed. There are important paintings in the front part of the church showing the crucifixion of Jesus and his ascension to heaven. There are also frescoes showing the apostles, the saints and other prophets Moses and Elyesa.’
* * *
Denmark Approves Law Allowing the Seizure of Asylum Seekers’ Valuables
On Tuesday the Folketing, Denmark’s unicameral parliament, approved by 81 votes to 27 a contentious law which will allow the Danish authorities to search and confiscate asylum seekers’ valuables. While the centre-right Venstre government’s bill received the support of both the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party and the opposition Social Democrats, one representative abstained from the vote and 70 others were absent.
The initial proposals contained in the bill would have enabled the seizure of cash and valuables worth more than 3,000 kroner (£300), which was subsequently raised to a threshold of 10,000 kroner (£1,000). The value confiscated is meant to cover housing and food costs. Dismissing criticisms from human rights groups and the UN, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said the proposals amounted to ‘the most misunderstood bill in Denmark’s history’, and supporters have argued that they simply bring asylum seekers in line with unemployed Danes, who can be legally required to sell assets worth in excess of 10,000 kroner before receiving state benefits. The government has also suggested that items of sentimental worth, such as wedding rings, will be exempt.
Yet many Danes have unemployment insurance, which prevents them from having to sell their assets. And critics have noted that unlike asylum seekers, who will be expected to undergo body and luggage searches, Danish citizens would never face the prospect of being searched and having their valuables seized. Anders Vistisen, an MEP from the DPP, said ‘the new law is about creating equality between migrants and Danes, so that everyone under the welfare system has the same possibility to receive public benefits’. On the other hand former Venstre politician Jens Rhode, who moved to the centre-left Radikale in December over his opposition to the bill, described it as ‘beyond any kind of decency, outrageous and cruel’, arguing that there is nothing contained within the bill that prevents the seizure of asylum seekers’ jewellery.
Rights groups have been especially critical of another aspect of the bill, which will delay the process of family reunification for asylum seekers from one year to three years. Zachary Whyte, an asylum and integration researcher at the University of Copenhagen, has noted that in practise this could mean a wait of up to five years before asylum seekers are able to bring their spouses and children to Denmark. Jonas Christoffersen, the director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, said ‘The right of refugees to be reunited with their family is protected by numerous international conventions ratified by Denmark. We believe the government is overstepping international law by implementing this bill’.
Other measures contained in the bill include a cut in temporary residence permits to two years, and a provision which will allow officials to consider ‘integration potential’ in resettlement cases. Denmark received around 18,500 asylum claims in 2015, a moderate number per capita when compared with the rest of Europe, and in sharp contrast with Sweden which received 163,000 claims over the same period.
* * *
Rihanna Releases Anti
On Thursday Rihanna released Anti, her eighth studio album and the first to be released through her own Westbury Road label in partnership with Roc Nation. First advertised in the fall of 2014, in 2015 Rihanna released the singles ‘FourFiveSeconds’, ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’, and ‘American Oxygen’, with Anti early in the year scheduled to be executive produced by Kanye West. But none of those three songs have made the final cut, which finds Rihanna as the executive producer collaborating with a team which includes Jeff Bhasker, Boi-1da, DJ Mustard, Hit Boy, Timbaland, No I.D., and Brian Kennedy.
Varied yet consistently sparse, infused with the sounds of dancehall and R&B, and with an atmosphere of woozy night time yearning and torment, the record’s opening track ‘Consideration’ features SZA, while its lead single ‘Work’ features Drake. The album’s artwork was designed by the Israeli artist Roy Nachum, Rihanna describing it as her favourite album cover to date. Anti was made available on Thursday exclusively on Tidal, with the record free to download in full. The Anti World Tour is due to start on 12 March in Jacksonville.
* * *
Russia on the Road Returns to the IRRA in Moscow
After debuting at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome last October, the exhibition Russia on the Road: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. 1920-1990 this week opened at the Institute of Russian Realist Art in Moscow. Comprising 60 pieces divided into four sections – ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’; ‘Love and Machines’; ‘Wild Russia’; and ‘The Space Race’ – the exhibition features works by prominent socialist realist artists including Alexander Deyneka, Yuri Pimenov, Alexander Samokhvalov and Georgy Nissky, and covers a period of seventy years following the Russian Revolution in 1917, viewing the development of the transport industry in the Soviet Union.
Conceived by the collector Alexei Ananiev, curated by Nadezhda Stepanova, the art director of the IRRA, and Matteo Lafranconi, of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, and with an education programme devised by Lomonosov Moscow State University and the University La Sapienza, Russia on the Road will run from 28 January until 22 May.
* * *
Louis C.K. Unveils Horace and Pete
Treading lightly, on Saturday Louis C.K. made a new series available on his website, sending an email to subscribers which stated simply ‘Horace and Pete episode one is available for download’. Set primarily in a bar, and shot as a stripped back, intimate take on the traditional sitcom, the series features C.K. as Horace, Steve Buscemi as his brother Pete, and an all-star cast including Edie Falco, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange, Aidy Bryant, Kurt Metzger, and Steven Wright. Louis has spoken previously about the creative freedom that lured him to make Louie on FX, and although the costs of his television show are largely funded by the success of his stand-up, Horace and Pete seems like another step in the direction of free-form drama. The first episode runs to 67 minutes, and costs $5.