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Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Before the arrival of photography, the Western imagination of China was based on paintings, written travelogues and dispatches from a seemingly far-off land.

From the 1850s, however, a band of pioneering Western photographers sought to capture the country’s landscapes, cities and people, captivating audiences back home and sparking a homegrown photography movement in the process.

Among them were the Italian Felice Beato, who arrived in China in the 1850s to document Anglo-French exploits in the Second Opium War, and Scottish photographer John Thompson, whose journey up the Min River offered people in the West a rare look into the country’s remote interior.

These are just some of the figures whose work features in a 15,000-strong photo collection amassed by New York antiquarian and collector Stephan Loewentheil. His 19th-century images span street scenes, tradespeople, rural life and architecture, showing — in unprecedented detail — everything from blind beggars to camel caravans on the Silk Road.

A rare book dealer by trade, Loewentheil has spent the last three decades acquiring the pictures from auctions and collectors, both in and outside China. They form what he claims to be the world’s largest private collection of early Chinese photography. (And given the number of artworks and artifacts lost in the country’s turbulent 20th century — during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, in particular — the claim is entirely reasonable.)

In 2018, he put 120 of the prints on display in Beijing for the first time. The exhibition’s scope ran from the 1850s, the very genesis of paper photographs in China, until the 1880s. It featured examples of the earliest forms of photography, such as albumen print, which uses egg whites to bind chemicals to paper, and the “wet plate” process, in which negatives were processed on glass plates in a portable dark room.

These technological developments heralded the birth of commercial photography in China, as they allowed images to be quickly replicated and spread for the very first time.

“People wanted to bring back great images that they could sell in other places,” said Loewentheil. “People who traveled there, everyone from diplomats and businessmen to missionaries, all wanted to bring home a record of this beautiful culture of China that was so unique.

“Some of them had a market back home, but immediately they found a Chinese love for photography and they developed a strong market inside the country. Chinese photographers (then) picked up on that, and served both markets.”

Chen Man: ‘Tech and art must go together’

Chinese pioneers

Despite the prominent role of foreigners in early Chinese photography, Loewentheil’s collection also recognizes the achievements of the country’s own practitioners.

Some purchased cameras from departing Westerners looking to sell their cumbersome equipment, while others took advantage of Chinese innovation in the field, such as mathematician Zou Boqi, who used foreign-made products to design his own glass plate camera.

Having first arrived in port cities, photography spread throughout China in the latter half of the 19th century. This led to the creation of commercial studios specializing in portraits of individuals and families, with many of the pictures later hand-colored by trained painters.

Pioneering figures, like Lai Afong, produced portraits, landscapes and cityscapes that were, in Loewentheil’s eyes, equal in quality to those of their Western contemporaries.

“There is an equality in Chinese photography, and of Chinese photographers, that is not sufficiently known in China,” the collector said. “Some of the very earliest Chinese photographers were brilliant.”

Instead of copying their foreign forebears, China’s photographers were often inspired by their own artistic traditions. Portraits, for instance, were treated more like paintings in their composition and use of light, Loewentheil said. Sitters were often pictured facing the camera, straight on and wearing little or no expression, with early portraits appearing to “simulate painted Chinese ancestor portraits.”

Images of architecture, meanwhile, embraced the surrounding nature rather than focusing on the buildings in isolation, another divergence from the Western tradition.

“Very often, when we have an unidentified photographer, we have a pretty good idea of whether they’re Chinese or Western,” Loewentheil added.

Preservers of history

Beyond their artistic value, Loewentheil’s images also appear to be of academic interest, with his 2018 exhibition taking place at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, one of China’s leading colleges.

The arrival of foreign technology, including cameras, during the 19th century was just one of the radical changes that would bring the imperial era to an end (China became a republic in 1912 following a four-month revolution). As such, photos from the time capture a world that would quickly disappear from sight.

Take, for instance, the work of Englishman Thomas Child, an engineer who documented the intricacies of China’s traditional architecture. His pictures of Beijing’s Summer Palace, which was subsequently burned down by English and French invaders, offer an invaluable record of its lost architecture.

“Photography is the greatest preserver of history,” Loewentheil said. “For many years, the written word was the way that history was transmitted. But the earliest photography preserves culture in China, and elsewhere, as it had been for many hundreds of years because it was simultaneous with the technological revolutions that were to change everything.”

And while Loewentheil has made a business of collecting, he maintains that the images have been brought together for posterity’s sake. He sees himself as the custodian of a historical archive — one that should eventually return to its birthplace — and he is currently digitizing the collection with a view to creating an online repository for historians and researchers.  

“We really want this to be an asset to the Chinese people, and we’re open to academics or intellectuals who want to study (the photos),” he said.

“My hope is that the collection will end up in China. It’s not for sale, but from a cultural, intellectually honest perspective: It’s something that doesn’t belong with me.”

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Meet the senators who will be in charge if Dems win the Senate

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Potential committee chairs include 79-year-old Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at Budget; 80-year-old Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) at Appropriations; 87-year-old Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) at Judiciary; Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) at Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Mark Warner (D-Va.) at Intelligence; and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) at Foreign Relations.

The disparate group shows how seniority pays off in the Senate, where if you last long enough, you can end up with a gavel.

Democrats will tackle a wide array of issues if they control the chamber come January. For starters, they are expected to begin rolling back many of the Trump administration’s actions — on everything from climate change to immigration, health care and taxes. And Democrats, likely with a fellow party member in the Oval Office, would push their own progressive agenda, including oversight of tech giants, infrastructure, energy and environmental programs.

Here’s who would have critical roles in a Democratic-controlled Senate.

Robert Menendez

Often an antagonist of the progressive left when it comes to foreign policy, Menendez would reclaim the Foreign Relations Committee’s gavel, which he held from 2013-15. The New Jersey Democrat was acquitted on federal corruption charges two years ago, and he has challenged the Trump administration on an array of national security crises that have arisen over the past four years, including the president’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of northern Syria.

In an interview, Menendez said he wants to “restore the centrality of the committee and its importance in foreign policy” — the panel has largely taken a back seat in recent years — and will prioritize a “rebuilding” of the State Department, which has seen its budget reduced.

Ron Wyden

In a Democratic Senate, the Oregon senator would take the reins of the Finance Committee, a powerful panel that had a critical role in shepherding the GOP tax cuts through the chamber. Under a President Biden, Democrats would roll back many of those tax cuts— and Wyden will play a pivotal role in making that happen.

Wyden said in an interview that he has discussed the subject with Biden’s team. He also wants to focus on pandemic relief, which remains stalled.

“We’re going to make sure that the lesson of the Great Recession is learned — you don’t take your foot off the gas in the middle of an economic recovery,” Wyden said of his potential chairmanship.

Dianne Feinstein

Whether Feinstein is chair of the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress is still an open question, although it seems unlikely at this point after her performance during the past several weeks.

The California Democrat infuriated progressive outside groups during the panel’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett for being civil and deferential to the nominee and Republicans when the left — furious over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rush to fill the seat before Election Day — wanted the exact opposite. There remains speculation about whether Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will replace Feinstein atop the committee, or whether she will step down of her own volition. Feinstein’s retirement is another possibility. Neither Feinstein nor her office would comment about her future on the panel.

If Feinstein does leave, Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is next in line, although Democratic Caucus rules may prevent him from serving in leadership and as a committee chair simultaneously. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-R.I.), a former U.S. attorney, is third in line.

Bernie Sanders

This is a fascinating scenario. The most liberal senator and former White House hopeful, a lawmaker who has long espoused the dramatic expansion of the federal government’s role in average Americans’ lives, is set to take over the Budget Committee gavel. Yet the federal deficit topped $3 trillion this year and is the largest since World War II, and the U.S. economy remains in tatters due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sanders wants to reshape the focus of the Budget panel. “We’d create a budget that works for working families, and not the billionaire class,” Sanders said in a brief interview when asked about his agenda if he took over as chair. And if Schumer and the Democrats don’t get rid of the filibuster, Sanders’ committee would be involved in crafting reconciliation bills, allowing a potential Biden administration to push tax and spending bills through the Senate on a simple-majority vote.

However, if Biden wins, Sanders might not be in the Senate for long. POLITICO reported that Sanders has expressed interest in becoming Labor secretary in a possible Biden administration. But that’s far from certain, especially because Vermont’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, would be able to appoint a temporary replacement to Sanders’ seat.

Mark Warner

As vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has maintained strong relationships across the aisle with the previous chair, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and the current acting chair, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Even as the Intelligence Committee has been the epicenter of several Trump-related controversies over the past four years — most notably stemming from Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — Warner has avoided the partisan jabs that have defined the panel’s counterpart across the Capitol, the House Intelligence Committee.

If he becomes chair, the Virginia Democrat will play a critical role in shepherding national security nominees through the Senate — including a director of national intelligence and CIA director — who are not loyal to a political party or a president.

Maria Cantwell

The former tech industry executive, now in her fourth term, is in line to take over the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee if Democrats are victorious. Cantwell, of Washington state, is cautious about efforts to rein in Big Tech, or break up Google, Amazon or Facebook, and she wants to hear more on antitrust concerns surrounding the tech giants.

“I don’t care who’s in charge next time, I’m going to be talking about how we realize that we’re in an information age and we prepare for the future,” Cantwell said in an interview. “We have a president that basically is ignoring the fact, just like along with the pandemic, instead of realizing we’re in a global economy and an information age and we need to make some adjustments to make sure there are rules in the marketplace and that you invest in job training and education and disruption techniques — smoothing out disruptions.”

Cantwell added: “But I’m a believer we live in this age, not that you can deny it or put your head in the sand. So I don’t care who’s in charge, we’re going to focus on that.”

Cantwell and Commerce Democrats are releasing a report soon analyzing the impact the tech giants have had on local journalism. Hundreds of local and regional newspapers have disappeared as ad revenue has dried up, while Google and Facebook dominate the online ad market. This issue has become a major concern for those worried that the death of local papers is a threat to democracy.

Sherrod Brown

Brown is an old-school blue-collar Democrat who has spent most of his life in public office. But it’s clear the financial services industry may not love Brown as chair of the Banking panel. In 2014, when it looked like the Ohio Democrat may become chair, industry officials called it “frightening.” Six years later, it may be just as scary to them, although progressive Democrats would love it.

Brown, who has made a focus of his career pushing for more affordable housing for the middle class, has called for dramatically ramping up rental assistance during the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. And he’s been outspoken on efforts by the Trump administration to weaken fair housing protections. Look for Brown to push both issues if he gets the gavel.

“First thing: We do a major emergency rental assistance. I mean it’s all about housing. The word housing has essentially been left out of that committee the last three or four years. So it’s all about that,” he said.

Brown clashed with Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and moderate Banking Committee Democrats in 2018 over efforts to weaken Dodd-Frank, the landmark financial regulatory bill. Brown lost that fight, but he won’t lose many more as chair.

Patrick Leahy

Another old-school politician, Leahy has been serving in the Senate since 1975. If Democrats retake the majority, Leahy would become yet again the Senate’s president pro tempore — the senior-most member of the majority party, a position that puts him third in line to the presidency behind the speaker of the House and vice president.

Perhaps most important, though, Leahy would become chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. He and his counterpart, fellow octogenarian Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), have a productive working relationship and have shown that they can cut bipartisan deals together.

Leahy’s ascension to the helm of the Appropriations panel also underscores the role of seniority in the Senate. With Leahy atop Appropriations and Sanders chairing Budget, a small state like Vermont would have an outsize impact on federal spending, and it would almost certainly guarantee additional funds for the state.

Patty Murray

Murray, a member of Senate Democratic leadership, would take control of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the principal health care panel in the Senate. With the issue dominating recent elections — including this year’s cycle — the Washington state Democrat would be the face of the party’s efforts to protect and expand on the Affordable Care Act, which has come under assault from the Trump administration.

If Biden wins the White House, the Justice Department will likely drop its effort to invalidate the 2010 law in court, and Biden will work with Senate Democrats to develop a plan that vastly expands Obamacare, including the likely addition of a public option.

Gary Peters

Facing his own reelection fight, the Michigan Democrat’s ascension to the chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is not yet certain. But Peters’ goals for the committee, if he becomes chair, are simple: restore bipartisanship.

The committee, the Senate’s chief bipartisan oversight body, has devolved into chaos and distrust over Chair Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) efforts to investigate Trump’s political enemies, including the Biden family and former top Obama administration officials.

Peters tends to lay low in the Senate and tout his bipartisan credentials, but he has been forced to take on a role of pushing back against Johnson’s investigations, which he says are politically motivated and intended to boost Trump’s prospects in the election.

“I take great pride in finding ways to work in a bipartisan way,” Peters said in a brief interview. “And the committee has traditionally always worked that way.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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Labour Frontbencher Yasmin Qureshi Is In Hospital After Testing Positive For Coronavirus

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Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi announced on Facebook she was in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus (PA)


3 min read

A Labour shadow minister who tested positive for coronavirus a fortnight ago is in hospital being treated for pneumonia.

Yasmin Qureshi announced on Facebook she had been admitted to the Royal Bolton Hospital on Saturday after falling ill.

The 57-year-old MP for Bolton South East posted this morning: “Two weeks ago, I began to feel unwell.

“I then tested positive for Covid-19, so my family and I immediately self-isolated at home. I have not travelled to Westminster or anywhere else.”

The shadow international development minister added: “I continued to work as best I could remotely, attending virtual meetings and doing casework, but after 10 days, I began to feel much worse and on Saturday I was admitted to the Royal Bolton Hospital with pneumonia.  

“I’m being very well looked after and have nothing but praise and admiration for the wonderful staff at the hospital.  

“They have been amazing throughout the process and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone working here in such difficult circumstances.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “My thoughts are with my friend Yasmin Qureshi who has been admitted to hospital after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

“My thanks go to the staff caring for Yasmin at the Royal Bolton Hospital, along with NHS staff across the country who are on the frontline against Covid-19.”

Bolton has seen a surge in positive cases in recent weeks, moving from a seven-day average of fewer than 10 cases per day at the end of August to above 150 now and continuing to rise.

The region has been under extra lockdown restrictions for several months, and the government has been negotiating with local politicians about putting it into the highest tier of measures to try and drive down the spiralling infection rate, but is facing resistance from Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham over a financial aid package.

A former barrister who headed the criminal legal section of the UN Mission in Kosovo, Ms Qureshi was first elected in 2010 and served as a shadow justice minister for four years under Jeremy Corbyn, retaining her frontbench position when Sir Keir took over as Labour leader.

She is one of a number of MPs to have tested positive for coronavirus during the pandemic, including fellow Greater Manchester representative Tony Lloyd, who spent 25 days in hospital back in April with the disease.



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US election 2020: What does it cost and who pays for it?

US election campaigns can start years in advance and cost billions of dollars. Due to coronavirus, this year’s cycle looks a little different, but huge sums are still being spent ahead of the election on 3 November.

In 2016, the US elections cost an estimated $6.5bn. BBC Reality Check breaks down who paid for it and looks at how much 2020 might cost.

Motion graphics by Jacqueline Galvin

Produced by Jake Horton and Soraya Auer

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