A reunion for families separated by the Korean war 68 years ago, and why Indonesia is hiding a river.
US Senate extends support to media, but Trump’s fuming
The US Senate Thursday adopted a unanimous resolution supporting a free press, saying in a statement that “the press is not the enemy of the people”, an allegation President Donald Trump frequently lobs at media critical of him, Reuters reports.
The non-binding resolution “reaffirms the vital and indispensable role that the free press serves to inform the electorate, uncover the truth, act as a check on the inherent power of the government, further national discourse and debate, and otherwise advance the most basic and cherished democratic norms and freedoms of the United States”. the report adds.
The vote followed a joint initiative by more than 300 newspapers in the US to publish editorials condemning Trump for constantly criticising the media. Trump, clearly, was not pleased, and lashed out on (where else) Twitter.
THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country….BUT WE ARE WINNING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
The soul weeps. Legendary singer Aretha Franklin passes away at 76
Aretha Franklin, the legendary American singer known worldwide as the “queen of soul”, breathed her last in Detroit, US, Thursday at the age of 76, the BBC reported.
Diagnosed with cancer in 2010, the singer announced last year that she was retiring from music, the report added. “Her death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type,” it said.
An avowed advocate of civil rights, Aretha Franklin was mourned deeply by friends, fans and colleagues.
Said British singing giant Elton John:
Former Beatle PaulMcCartney tweeted:
Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul pic.twitter.com/jW4Gpwfdts
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) August 16, 2018
Former US president Barack Obama wrote:
Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. pic.twitter.com/bfASqKlLc5
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 16, 2018
Questions arise over US support after Saudi strike kills 44 children
The 44 Yemeni boys killed in a Saudi-led airstrike on 9 August had stopped for a snack on their way for a field trip when the bomb hit their bus, The New York Times reported. The report sought to highlight that the strike revived questions about the United States’ tactics to support the Saudi and UAE coalition’s onslaught on Yemen to help the government against Houthi rebels.
While American military leaders insist that the United States is not a party to the war, human rights organisations beg to differ, saying “the US has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to allied coalition states, provided them with intelligence and refuelled their bombers in midair and therefore cannot deny its role”.
The report added that the US Congress had shown increasing concern about the war. “A defence policy bill signed by the President Monday included a bipartisan provision that requires Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to certify that Saudi Arabia and its close ally the United Arab Emirates — the two countries leading the coalition — are taking steps to prevent civilian deaths. If Pompeo cannot provide the certification, the legislation prohibits the American refuelling of coalition jets.”
‘Germany will take quicker action to deport rejected asylum-seekers’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Germany would step up efforts to deport rejected asylum-seekers faster, Reuters reported. Merkel’s announcement comes after hundreds of far-right protesters called on her to resign over her migration policy that admitted hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim migrants to the country.
The Chancellor has repeatedly defended her decision to admit migrants as a humanitarian necessity. However, since 2015, the Chancellor has “vowed to prevent a repeat of such a situation and to battle the root causes of migration into Europe”.
Merkel told Reuters that she was aware her decision on the refugee issue had unsettled voters. Germany goes to the polls in 2021.
North and South Korea hold family reunion after three years
A fresh batch of citizens of the two Koreas will meet their family members 68 years after the Korean war separated them, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.
Eighty-eight people from North Korea and 68 from the south will come together for the six-day event scheduled to begin on 20 August.
Such an event is being conducted after a gap of three years owing to tense relations between the nations that have only eased since a meet between their leaders this April.
Since the end of the Korean war in 1963, Seoul and Pyongyang have banned ordinary citizens from visiting relatives on either side of the border or contacting them without permission. However, both countries have been conducting such official reunions to let families meet.
Indonesia ‘hides’ polluted river amid preparations for the Asian Games
Indonesia has “hidden” a heavily polluted river located behind the venue of the 2018 Asian Games after a water purification project was declared infeasible, The New York Times reported.
“Last month, workers erected a nearly kilometre-long black nylon net covering the… black river, a local nickname for the polluted waterway,” the report said, adding that the authorities subsequently laid rows of lights across the cover to create “a festive evening light show”.
The river, officially known as the Sentiong, is one of Indonesia’s most polluted.
In preparation for the Asian Games, likely to draw at least 17,000 athletes, coaches and officials, the city of Jakarta is undergoing a major transformation, with gray bridges being painted in bright colours and authorities working on controlling traffic and checking theft.
“The city has also deployed an army of street sweepers to spruce up the city, planted sports-themed gardens along major thoroughfares, and widened pedestrian sidewalks near event venues,” the report added.
‘Islands of cool’ at Paris schools
Schools in Paris may now have “islands of cool” — designated green spaces boasting of potted plants and sections of grass — as temperatures soar in what is reportedly Europe’s least green city, The Guardian reported.
Project Oasis aims to transform the concrete walls of Paris’ schoolyards into green spaces, the report added.
If the trials turn out to be successful, the project will be implemented at all of Paris’ 800 schools by 2040.