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Japanese fashion tycoon takes off for International Space Station

A Japanese billionaire and his producer rocketed to space Wednesday as the first self-paying space tourists in more than a decade.

Fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa and producer Yozo Hirano, who plans to film his mission, blasted off for the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft along with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

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The trio lifted off as scheduled at 12:38 p.m. (0738 GMT) aboard Soyuz MS-20 from the Russia-leaded Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.
Maezawa and Hirano are scheduled to spend 12 days in space. The two will be the first self-paying tourists to visit the space station since 2009. The price of the trip hasn’t been disclosed.

“I would like to look at the Earth from space. I would like to experience the opportunity to feel weightlessness,” Maezawa said during a pre-flight news conference on Tuesday. “And I also have a personal expectation: I’m curious how the space will change me, how I will change after this space flight.”

A company that organized the flight said Maezawa compiled a list of 100 things to do in space after asking the public for ideas. The list includes “simple things about daily life to maybe some other fun activities, to more serious questions as well,” Space Adventures President Tom Shelley said.

“His intention is to try to share the experience of what it means to be in space with the general public,” Shelley told The Associated Press earlier this year.

Maezawa made his fortune in retail fashion, launching Japan’s largest online fashion mall, Zozotown. Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $2 billion.

The tycoon has also booked a flyby around the moon aboard Elon Musk’s Starship that is tentatively scheduled for 2023. He’ll be joined on that trip by eight contest winners.

Read more: Space debris ‘event’ forces ISS crew to take evasive action

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Abraham Ancer completes wire-to-wire win in Saudi Arabia’s golf tournament


Abraham Ancer of Mexico closed with a 2-under 68 for a two-shot victory over Cameron Young in the Saudi International on Sunday.

Ancer capped off a wire-to-wire victory, which featured a majority of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf league. It was his third worldwide victory.

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Young, the PGA Tour rookie of the year, received a release to compete in the Asian Tour event. It was his sixth runner-up finish in the last 16 months.

He caught Ancer briefly on the front nine until a two-shot swing on eighth home — Ancer made birdie, Young made a bogey — that restored Ancer's two-shot lead.

Lucas Herbert of Australia had a 65 and finished third.

Young now heads to back-to-back elevated events on the PGA Tour in Phoenix and Los Angeles. Ancer, who joined LIV last summer, has two weeks off before LIV Golf begins its second season.

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Grammy awards: Will megastar Beyonce finally win top honor of best album?


Pop superstar Beyonce, winner of more Grammy awards than any other female artist, has never taken home the coveted album of the year trophy at the music industry’s highest honors.
That could change on Sunday, according to industry experts and awards pundits, although it is not a sure thing in a formidable, wide-ranging field that includes Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny, pop musician Harry Styles, singer and flutist Lizzo, and disco-era Swedish hitmaker ABBA.
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Winners will be announced during a ceremony that will be broadcast live on US broadcast network CBS and streamed on Paramount+ starting at 5 p.m. Pacific time/8 p.m. Eastern time (0100 GMT on Monday).
Beyonce heads into the show in Los Angeles with nine nominations, including an album of the year nod for dance-heavy album “Renaissance.” She has won 28 Grammys over her career, and she could break the all-time record of 31 on Sunday.
But the top prize has escaped her. The acclaimed 2016 album “Lemonade” was defeated by Adele’s “25,” prompting the British vocalist to say on stage that Beyonce deserved the honor.
Beyonce “is about to be the most-winningest Grammy award winner. There’s almost no way she’s not going to break the record," said Jem Aswad, deputy music editor for Variety.
“But she has never won album of the year, one of the top awards, and that’s just wrong,” he added.
Adele, who has claimed the album trophy twice, also is in the mix this year with “30.” It is possible that Adele and Beyonce voters could cancel each other out, Aswad said, opening a door for Styles to prevail with “Harry’s House.”
Beyonce’s other nominations include record and song of the year for “Break My Soul.” If she wins at least four awards, she will top the late classical conductor Georg Solti as the most-decorated artist in Grammys history.
The winners are chosen by roughly 11,000 members of the Recording Academy, which has faced complaints that it has not given Black talent proper recognition. The organization has worked to diversify its membership in recent years.
In the best new artist category, contenders include Italian rock band Maneskin, jazz artist Samara Joy, American bluegrass singer Molly Tuttle and TikTok phenom Gayle, who rose to fame with “abcdefu.”
Taylor Swift’s 10-minute version of her 2012 song “All Too Well” was nominated for best song. Swift’s latest album, “Midnights,” was released after this year’s eligibility window, which ran from October 2021 through September 2022.
Comedian Trevor Noah will host Sunday’s awards show. Scheduled performers include Styles, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Luke Combs and Bad Bunny. First lady Jill Biden is among the night’s presenters.
Like other awards shows, the Grammys have seen their television audience decline in recent years. Last year’s ceremony drew roughly 9 million viewers, the second-smallest on record.
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Lebanon hopes UNESCO danger listing could save Trpoli’s modernist fairground


Its arch is cracking and its vast pavilions lie empty, but the crubling Rachid Karami International Fair in Lebanon’s port city Tripoli now has hope of revival, having been added to the United Nations’ list of world heritage sites in danger.
Designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1962, the collection of structures on the 70-hectare plot is considered one of the key works of 20th century modernism in the Middle East.

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But the fair park has slowly decayed due to repeated rounds of fighting over the last 60 years, poor maintenance and most recent-ly Lebanon’s crippling, three-year-old financial crisis.
“It was placed on the World Heritage List exceptionally, quickly and urgently –- and on the list of heritage in danger because it’s in a critical situation,” said Joseph Kreidi, UNESCO’s national pro-gram officer for culture in Beirut.
Its elegant arch is missing concrete in some parts, exposing the rebar underneath. Rainwater has pooled at the locked
entrances. One section is sealed off by a sign that reads, “Unsafe building entry.”
“Placing it on the World Heritage Danger List is an appeal to all countries of the world, as if to say: this site needs some care,” said Kreidi.
He said it was up to the Lebanese authorities to draw together a plan for the site’s protection and rehabilitation but that UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, could help search for funding and provide technical expertise.
Lebanon has five other sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, most of them citadels and ancient temples.
Niemeyer is recognized as one of the fathers of modern architeture and the site in Tripoli was an early foray into the Middle East.
Construction of the fairground began in the 1960s but was delayed when civil war erupted in Lebanon in 1975. Fighters used the site to stage operations and stored weapons underneath its concrete dome.
Mira Minkara, a freelance tour guide from Tripoli and a member of the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation’s Tripoli chapter, has fond — but rare –- memories of the fairground as a child.
For the most part, it was off-limits to Tripoli’s residents given safety concerns. But Minkara remembered her first visit during a festival of pan-African culture and crafts.
She hopes that UNESCO’s recognition could bring new festivals, exhibitions, and economic benefits to Tripoli –- already one of the poorest cities on the Mediterranean before Lebanon’s financial meltdown began.
Lebanon’s cultural heritage has been hit hard in recent years. The 2020 Beirut port blast tore through 19th-century homes in historic neighborhoods and power outages caused by the financial crisis have cut supplies to the national museum.
“We hope things change a little,” Minkara said. “It’s high time for this fairground to emerge from this long sleep, this almost-death.”

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