Day: November 14, 2022

Invasive Mosquito Threatens Malaria Control in Africa

Malaria exploded this year in the Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa, which saw more than 10 times as many cases between January and May as it did in all of 2019.

What made this spike in cases unusual is that it happened outside the rainy season, when malaria typically surges across Africa, and in an urban area — malaria is more of a rural problem on the continent. Cities are not immune, but they typically don’t see these kinds of outbreaks.

Something new and insidious has arrived in the Horn of Africa. An invasive species of mosquito called Anopheles stephensi threatens to unravel two decades of gains in malaria control. And it may bring the deadly disease to more of the continent’s rapidly growing cities.

“There is real fear that it could start more transmission in these areas that traditionally don’t have as much malaria,” said Arran Hamlet, a disease modeling expert with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “And they don’t have infection control strategies implemented to the same levels.”

The new mosquito arrives at a bad time in the fight against malaria.

Africa’s native mosquitoes have become increasingly resistant to insecticides. (Anopheles stephensi is already resistant.) In addition, the malaria parasite is getting not only tougher to kill, but tougher to spot. Malaria strains that don’t show up on rapid diagnostic tests are becoming more common.

“We don’t want the three to meet — the drug resistance, the diagnostic resistance and the highly efficient vector [Anopheles stephensi],” said Fitsum Girma Tadesse, a molecular biologist at Ethiopia’s Armauer Hansen Research Institute.

“What happens if they coexist? We don’t know,” he said. “It’s really dangerous. You can’t detect the parasite. You can’t kill it with a drug. And the mosquito is wise enough to evade your [control] mechanisms.”

Fitsum and his colleagues linked Anopheles stephensi to the Dire Dawa outbreak in a study presented at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Seattle this month. It is the strongest evidence yet that the mosquito is increasing malaria rates in Ethiopia.

A different mosquito

Malaria fighters started the millennium strong.

With insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor insecticide spraying campaigns and new artemisinin-based drugs, deaths from malaria plunged from nearly 900,000 in 2000 to around 560,000 in 2015. But since then, progress has stalled.

And the tools that have worked up until recently won’t help much against Anopheles stephensi.

“This [mosquito] is different and more insidious than some of the other mosquitoes that transmit malaria that we’re used to seeing in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs epidemiologist April Monroe.

Africa’s native malaria mosquitoes prefer to bite people inside their homes late at night. That’s why bed nets and indoor spraying have been so effective.

But Anopheles stephensi bites earlier in the evening. When it goes searching for a meal, “people aren’t actually in bed yet, and so they don’t get the same protection” from bed nets, Hamlet said.

It also prefers to take its blood meal outdoors. Or if it does bite indoors, it doesn’t rest there, thereby avoiding indoor insecticides.

The new mosquito’s habitat is different, too. Most malaria mosquitoes live in rural Africa. But Anopheles stephensi is “really highly adapted to urban areas, which isn’t what we typically see,” Monroe said.

It likes to lay its eggs in water storage containers, which are especially common in Africa’s fast-growing unplanned urban areas that lack piped water, Fitsum noted.


Originally from South Asia, Anopheles stephensi was first spotted on the African continent in Djibouti in 2012.

The small nation was on the verge of eliminating malaria at the time. It recorded just 27 cases that year. In 2020, there were more than 73,000.

Besides Djibouti and Ethiopia, the mosquito has turned up in Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria.

One study estimates the mosquito may put an additional 126 million people at risk of malaria in cities across Africa.

In Ethiopia alone, Hamlet and colleagues estimate that Anopheles stephensi could increase malaria cases by 50% and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to control.

“This is very much possibly a cheap option compared to letting Anopheles stephensi spread around the country,” Hamlet said. “There is a lot of economic burden on both individuals and the wider economy in this level of malaria increase.”

The last thing African countries need, however, is new disease vector that is expensive to control.

“Most of the countries affected by malaria have limited resources to deal with already existing prevalent diseases,” Fitsum said.

One bit of relatively good news is that since Anopheles stephensi breeds in the same places as the mosquitoes that carry yellow fever, chikungunya and dengue, efforts that target one would also control the others.

Fitsum says covering water containers with polystyrene beads can help prevent the mosquitoes from laying eggs. He advises people to cover water containers tightly and get rid of any they don’t need.

And keep using bed nets and indoor sprays, he added. Native mosquitoes are still out there.


40 States Settle Google Location-tracking Charges for $392 Million

Search giant Google has agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with 40 states to resolve an investigation into how the company tracked users’ locations, state attorneys general announced Monday. 

The states’ investigation was sparked by a 2018 Associated Press story, which found that Google continued to track people’s location data even after they opted out of such tracking by disabling a feature the company called “location history.” 

The attorneys general called the settlement a historic win for consumers, and the largest multistate settlement in U.S history dealing with privacy. 

It comes at a time of mounting unease over privacy and surveillance by tech companies that has drawn growing outrage from politicians and scrutiny by regulators. The Supreme Court’s ruling in June ending the constitutional protections for abortion raised potential privacy concerns for women seeking the procedure or related information online. 

“This $391.5 million settlement is a historic win for consumers in an era of increasing reliance on technology,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement. “Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt-out of tracking.” 

Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago. 

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” company spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in a statement. 

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet — which has a market value of $1.2 trillion. 

In its 2018 story, the AP reported that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store users’ location data even if they’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so. Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP’s request. 

Storing such data carries privacy risks and has been used by police to determine the location of suspects. 

The AP reported that the privacy issue with location tracking affected some 2 billion users of devices that run Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search. 

The attorneys general who investigated Google said a key part of the company’s digital advertising business is location data, which they called the most sensitive and valuable personal data the company collects. Even a small amount of location data can reveal a person’s identity and routines, they said. 

Google uses the location information to target consumers with ads by its customers, the state officials said. 

The attorneys general said Google misled users about its location tracking practices since at least 2014, violating state consumer protection laws. 

As part of the settlement, Google also agreed to make those practices more transparent to users. That includes showing them more information when they turn location account settings on and off and keeping a webpage that gives users information about the data Google collects. 

The shadowy surveillance brought to light by the AP troubled even some Google engineers, who recognized the company might be confronting a massive legal headache after the story was published, according to internal documents that have subsequently surfaced in consumer-fraud lawsuits. 

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed the first state action against Google in May 2020, alleging that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software. 

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month, but by then attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had also pounced on the company with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable for its alleged deception. 



Pakistan’s Ban on Prizewinner ‘Joyland’ Movie Sparks Outrage

In a last-minute controversial move, Pakistan has banned the screening of its international award-winning movie, “Joyland” in theaters across the country for containing “highly objectionable” content.

The movie, which features a married man falling for a transgender woman, was supposed to be released in Pakistani cinemas Friday.

In May, “Joyland” became the first Pakistani feature film to win a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It is also Pakistan’s entry for the 2023 Academy Awards in the United States.

The government-led Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) had in August formally granted the filmmaker the license to screen the movie in cinemas.

A federal information ministry statement, however, said that it had stopped the screening of the movie as the material in question does not “conform with the social values and moral stands of our society.”

The material in question is “clearly repugnant to the norms of decency and morality” in line with the relevant laws, said the statement without elaborating.

The director of “Joyland” denounced the decision as “absolutely unconstitutional and illegal.”

“We — a team — are gutted by this development but fully intend to raise our voice against this grave injustice,” Saim Sadiq said in an Instagram post late Sunday.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, who represents the right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami party in the upper house of parliament, was leading the campaign against the screening of “Joyland” in Pakistan. He praised the government’s decision to revoke the license.

“Pakistan is an Islamic state where no law, no step and no ideology against Islam can work here,” Khan wrote on Twitter.

Sadiq criticized the government, saying it “caved under pressure from a few extremist factions … and made a mockery of our federal censor board.” He urged the information ministry to review its decision.

Independent critics, Pakistani show business celebrities and social media activists also questioned the movie ban in a country that recognizes and gives legal rights to transgender people.

Salman Sufi, a key government adviser, announced Monday on Twitter that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had constituted a high-level committee to “assess the complaints as well as merits to decide on its release in Pakistan.”

“I personally do not believe in banning films that highlight issues faced by marginalized segments of our society. People should be trusted to watch & make their own mind,” Sufi tweeted Sunday in response to the widespread outcry sparked by the ban.

Pakistan has in recent years taken significant legal and administrative measures in its bid to protect the rights of transgender people who are often considered outcasts in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation.

The reforms effectively started with a landmark Supreme Court ruling a decade ago, which directed authorities to register transgender people as voters and give them, among others, equal inheritance and job opportunity rights.

The government launched a hotline this past September for transgender people, estimated to number around 500,000, to protect them against discrimination and harassment.


California City Designates ‘Little Arabia’ Neighborhood

California is home to the largest Arab American community in the United States. That growing economic and political visibility is evident in Southern California’s newly designated “Little Arabia” neighborhood. For VOA, Genia Dulot takes us there. Videographer and producer: Genia Dulot


Claim of New World Record for Longest Beard Chain in Wyoming

Facial hair enthusiasts claimed to have set a new world record for longest beard chain during an event in Wyoming on Friday, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

Participants gathered at Gaslight Social, a bar in Casper, where they stood side by side and clipped their beards together to create a hairy chain that was measured at 150 feet long, according to the newspaper. That’s more than double the Guinness World Record of 62 feet, 6 inches, set in Germany in 2007.

To participate, people needed to sport a beard at least 8 inches long, according to the Star-Tribune.

The event occurred on the sidelines of the National Beard and Moustache Championships, which took place Saturday at the city’s Ford Wyoming Center.


Musk Touches on Twitter Criticism, Workload at G20 Forum

It’s not easy being Elon Musk.

That was the message the new Twitter owner and billionaire head of Tesla and SpaceX had for younger people who might seek to emulate his entrepreneurial success.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Musk told a business forum in Bali on Monday when asked what an up-and-coming “Elon Musk of the East” should focus on.

“I’m not sure how many people would actually like to be me. They would like to be what they imagine being me, which is not the same,” he continued. “I mean, the amount that I torture myself, is the next level, frankly.”

Musk was speaking at the B-20 business forum ahead of a summit of the Group of 20 leading economies taking place on the Indonesian resort island. He joined the conference by video link weeks after completing his heavily scrutinized takeover of Twitter.

He had been expected to attend the event in person, but Indonesian government minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who’s responsible for coordinating preparations for the summit, said Musk could not attend because he’s preparing for a court case later in the week.

He’s got plenty else to keep himself busy.

“My workload has recently increased quite a lot,” he said with a chuckle in an apparent reference to the Twitter deal. “I mean, oh, man. I have too much work on my plate, that is for sure.”

The businessman appeared in a darkened room, saying there had been a power cut just before he connected.

His face, projected on a large screen over the summit hall, appeared to glow red as it was reflected in what he said was candlelight – a visage he noted was “so bizarre.”

While Musk was among the most anticipated speakers at the business forum, his remarks broke little new ground. Only the moderator was able to ask questions.

The Tesla chief executive said the electric carmaker would consider making a much cheaper model when asked about lower-cost options for developing countries like India and G-20 host Indonesia. 

“We do think that making a much more affordable vehicle would make a lot of sense and we should do something,” he said.

Musk also reiterated a desire to significantly boost the amount and length of Twitter’s video offerings, and share revenue with people producing the content, though he didn’t provide specifics.

He bought Twitter for $44 billion last month and quickly dismissed the company’s board of directors and top executives.

He laid off much of the rest of the company’s full-time workforce by email on Nov. 4 and is now eliminating the jobs of outsourced contractors who are tasked with fighting misinformation and other harmful content.

Musk has vowed to ease restrictions on what users can say on the platform.

He’s reaped a heap of complaints — much on Twitter itself — and has tried to reassure companies that advertise on the platform and others that it won’t damage their brands by associating them with harmful content.

In his appearance Monday, Musk acknowledged the criticism.

“There’s no way to make everyone happy, that’s for sure,” he said.


Olympics-Phrygian Caps to Be Paris 2024 Games Mascots 

Phrygian caps will be the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games mascots as organizers look to to celebrate the French revolution’s spirit.

“‘Phryges’ aim to show that sport can change everything, and that it deserves to have a prominent place in our society,” Paris 2024 brand director Julie Matikhine said on Monday.

The Phrygian caps were favored over animals, who have mostly been the first choice in other Olympics — such as the ‘Bing Dwen Dwen’ panda at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing this year.

“We were almost ready not to make a mascot if we didn’t find a real reason to do so, and a real message to convey,” said Matikhine.

“The mascot must embody the French spirit, which is something very fine to grasp. It’s an ideal, a kind of conviction that carries the values of our country, and which has been built up over time, over history.”

The red Phrygian caps come in two versions — the Olympic and the Paralympic one — with a blade leg.

The Olympic Games will be held from July 26-Aug. 11 and the Paralympics from Aug. 28-Sept. 8.


New China COVID Rules Spur Concern as Some Cities Halt Routine Tests

Several Chinese cities began cutting routine community COVID-19 testing on Monday, days after China announced an easing of some of its heavy-handed coronavirus measures, sparking worry in some communities as nationwide cases continued to rise.

In the northern city of Shijiazhuang, some families expressed concern about exposing their children to the virus at school, giving excuses such as toothaches or earaches for their children’s absence, according to social media posts following a state media report that testing in the city would end.

Other cities, including Yanji in the northeast and Hefei in the east, also said they will stop routine community COVID testing, according to official notices, halting a practice that has become a major fiscal burden for communities across China.

On Friday, the National Health Commission updated its COVID rules in the most significant easing of curbs yet, describing the changes as an “optimization” of its measures to soften the impact on people’s lives, even as China sticks to its zero-COVID policy nearly three years into the pandemic.

The move, which cut quarantine times for close contacts of cases and inbound travelers by two days, to eight days total, was applauded by investors, even though many experts don’t expect China to begin significant easing until March or April at the earliest.

The changes come even as several major cities including Beijing logged record infections on Monday, posing a challenge for authorities scrambling to quell outbreaks quickly while trying to minimize the impact on people’s lives and the economy.

Some areas of Beijing are requiring daily tests.

The concern and confusion in Shijiazhuang was a top-five trending topic on the Twitter-like Weibo.

The city’s Communist Party chief, Zhang Chaochao, said its “optimization” of prevention measures should not be seen as authorities “lying flat” – an expression for inaction – nor is Shijiazhuang moving towards “full liberation” from COVID curbs.

The city, about 295 kms (183 miles) southwest of Beijing, reported 544 infections for Sunday, only three of which it categorized as symptomatic.

“I’m a little scared. In the future, public places will not look at nucleic acid tests, and nucleic acid test points will also be closed, everyone needs to pay for the tests,” one Weibo user wrote, referring to Shijiazhuang.

Gavekal Research said in a Monday note that it was “curious timing” for China to relax its COVID policies: “The combination of an intensifying outbreak and loosening central requirements has led to debate over whether China is now gradually moving to a de facto policy of tolerating Covid,” it said.

Fresh records

Nationwide, 16,072 new locally transmitted cases were reported by the National Health Commission, up from 14,761 on Sunday and the most in China since April 25, when Shanghai was battling an outbreak that locked down the city for two months.

Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Zhengzhou all recorded their worst days so far, though in the capital city the tally was a few hundred cases, while the other cities were counting in thousands.

Case numbers are small compared with infection levels in other countries, but China’s insistence on clearing outbreaks as soon as they emerge under its zero-COVID policy has been widely disruptive to daily life and the economy.

Under the new rules unveiled on Friday, individuals, neighborhoods and public spaces can still be subject to lockdowns, but the health commission relaxed some measures.

In addition to shortening quarantines, secondary close contacts are no longer identified and put into isolation – removing what had been a major inconvenience for people caught up in contact-tracing efforts when a case is found.

Despite the loosening of curbs, many experts described the measures as incremental, with some predicting that China is unlikely to begin reopening until after the March session of parliament, at the earliest.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs said on Monday that rising cases in cities including Guangzhou and Chongqing and the continuation of the zero-COVID policy pose downside near-term economic risks. 



Artemisia Gentileschi’s 1616 Nude to Be Digitally Unveiled

Art restorers in the Italian city of Florence have begun a six-month project to clean and virtually “unveil” a long-censored nude painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the most prominent women in the history of Italian art.

Swirling veils and drapery were added to the “Allegory of Inclination” some 70 years after Gentileschi painted the life-size female nude, believed to be a self-portrait, in 1616.

The work to reveal the image as originally painted comes as Gentileschi’s contribution to Italian Baroque art is getting renewed attention in the #MeToo era, both for her artistic achievements but also for breaking into the male-dominated art world after being raped by one of her art teachers.

Her work was featured in a 2020 exhibit at the National Gallery in London.

“Through her, we can talk about how important it is to restore artwork, how important it is to restore the stories of women to the forefront,” said Linda Falcone, coordinator of the Artemisia Up Close project.

“Allegory of Inclination” originally was commissioned for the family home of Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger, the great-nephew of the famed artist. The building later became the Casa Buonarotti museum, and the painting was displayed until recently on the ceiling in a gilded frame. When lead conservator Elizabeth Wick removed the painting in late September, a shower of 400-year-old dust was released.

Wick’s team of restorers is using ultraviolet light, diagnostic imaging and X-rays to differentiate Gentileschi’s brush strokes from those of the artist that covered the nudity. The public can watch the project underway at the museum through April 23.

Restorers won’t be able to remove the veils because the cover-up was done too soon after the original, raising the risk that Gentileschi’s painting would be damaged in the process.

Instead, the restoration team plans to create a digital image of the original version that will be displayed in an exhibition on the project opening in September 2023.

Gentileschi arrived in Florence shortly after the trial in Rome of her rapist, during which the then-17-year-old was forced to testify with ropes tied around her fingers that were progressively tightened in a test of her honesty.

She also had to endure a physical examination in the courtroom behind a curtain to confirm that she was no longer a virgin. Eventually, her rapist was convicted and sentenced to eight months in prison.

“Somebody else would have been crushed by this experience,” Wick said. “But Artemisia bounces back. She comes up to Florence. She gets this wonderful commission to paint a full-length nude figure for the ceiling of Casa Buonarroti. So, I think she’s showing people, ‘This is what I can do.'”

While in Florence, Gentileschi also won commissions from the Medici family. Her distinctive, dramatic and energetic style emerged, taking inspiration from the most renowned Baroque painter of the time, Caravaggio. Many of her paintings featured female heroines, often in violent scenes and often nude.

She was 22 when she painted “Allegory of Inclination,” which was commissioned by Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger. Another member of the family, Leonardo Buonarroti, decided to have it embellished to protect the sensibilities of his wife and children.

“This is one of her first paintings. In the Florentine context, it was her debut painting, the same year she was then accepted into the Academy of Drawing, which was the first drawing academy in Europe at the time,” Falcone said.

With the younger Michelangelo as her patron, Gentileschi gained entry to the cultural milieu of the time.

“She was able to hobnob with Galileo and with other great thinkers. So this almost illiterate woman was suddenly at the university level, producing works of art that were then, you know, appreciated by the Grand Duke,” Falcone said. “And she became a courtly painter from then on.”


Musk’s Latest Twitter Cuts: Outsourced Content Moderators

Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk is further gutting the teams that battle misinformation on the social media platform as outsourced moderators learned over the weekend they were out of a job.

Twitter and other big social media firms have relied heavily on contractors to track hate and enforce rules against harmful content.

But many of those content watchdogs have now headed out the door, first when Twitter fired much of its full-time workforce by email on Nov. 4 and now as it moves to eliminate an untold number of contract jobs.

Melissa Ingle, who worked at Twitter as a contractor for more than a year, was one of a number of contractors who said they were terminated Saturday. She said she’s concerned that there’s going to be an increase in abuse on Twitter with the number of workers leaving.

“I love the platform and I really enjoyed working at the company and trying to make it better. And I’m just really fearful of what’s going to slip through the cracks,” she said Sunday.

Ingle, a data scientist, said she worked on the data and monitoring arm of Twitter’s civic integrity team. Her job involved writing algorithms to find political misinformation on the platform in countries such as the U.S., Brazil, Japan, Argentina and elsewhere.

Ingle said she was “pretty sure I was done for” when she couldn’t access her work email Saturday. The notification from the contracting company she’d been hired by came two hours later.

“I’ll just be putting my resumes out there and talking to people,” she said. “I have two children. And I’m worried about being able to give them a nice Christmas, you know, and just mundane things like that, that are important. I just think it’s particularly heartless to do this at this time.”

Content-moderation expert Sarah Roberts, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who worked as a staff researcher at Twitter earlier this year, said she believes at least 3,000 contract workers were fired Saturday night.

Twitter hasn’t said how many contract workers it cut. The company hasn’t responded to media requests for information since Musk took over.

At Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters and other offices, contract workers wore green badges while full-time workers wore blue badges. Contractors did a number of jobs to help keep Twitter running, including engineering and marketing, Roberts said. But it was the huge force of contracted moderators that was “mission critical” to the platform, said Roberts.

Cutting them will have a “tangible impact on the experience of the platform,” she said.

Musk promised to loosen speech restrictions when he took over Twitter. But in the early days after Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October and dismissed its board of directors and top executives, the billionaire Tesla CEO sought to assure civil rights groups and advertisers that the platform could continue tamping down hate and hate-fueled violence.

That message was reiterated by Twitter’s then-head of content moderation, Yoel Roth, who tweeted that the Nov. 4 layoffs only affected “15% of our Trust & Safety organization (as opposed to approximately 50% cuts company-wide), with our front-line moderation staff experiencing the least impact.”

Roth has since resigned from the company, joining an exodus of high-level leaders who were tasked with privacy protection, cybersecurity and complying with regulations.


Taylor Swift Wins Most Prizes at MTV Europe Music Awards

Taylor Swift walked away with four prizes at MTV’s Europe Music Awards on Sunday, including best video for her 10-minute “All Too Well.”   

Double-award winners included Nicki Minaj for best song and best hip-hop, and the French DJ and record producer David Guetta won the best electronic award and best collaboration.   

The event, broadcast on MTV from Duesseldorf in western Germany, honored musicians from Brazil to South Korea.   

It featured an appearance by Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, the winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which performed “Stefania” in an arena glowing with Ukraine’s national colors of blue and yellow.   

The U.S. pop singer Swift, wearing a dress of bejeweled mesh, won best artist, best pop, best video and best long form video.   

“I felt like I learned so much about how making film can be a natural extension of my storytelling,” Swift said as she accepted the long form video award.   

In “All Too Well,” Swift draws inspiration from 1970s Hollywood and recounts a fraying romantic relationship that disintegrates, leaving behind only a scarf and memories.   

“It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well,” Swift sings.   

Minaj’s winning song “Super Freaky Girl” incorporates the 1981 hit “Super Freak” with lyrics “I can lick it, I can ride it while you slippin’ and slidin’.”   

British pop star Harry Styles won in the “best live” category and the Thai-born Lalisa ‘Lisa’ Manoban won best K-pop. South Korea’s BTS, the global K-pop sensation, won the biggest fans category.   

The hosts for the show were British pop star Rita Ora and the film director Taika Waititi, who married this year. Ora herself won for “best look.”   

Duesseldorf has a musical heritage as home to the pioneering German electronic band Kraftwerk, which influenced generations of pop and dance musicians with mesmerizing tracks such as “Autobahn.”   

The city also hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011.   

Screaming teens watched the stars walk down a red carpet before the event was broadcast from the PSD Bank Dome.   

Julian Lennon, the son of the Beatles’ John Lennon, said as he entered that he had not seen a concert in years and was looking forward to it.   

The rock band Muse, which won the best rock award, said it was dedicating its victory to the people of Ukraine and Iran.   

Kalush Orchestra’s frontman Oleh Psiuk, donning a pink hat, said before the performance that he hoped more Ukrainian bands would be present next year.