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31/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Notables Gather in Detroit for Queen of Soul’s Funeral

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, his wife, Hillary Clinton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and a host of musicians are gathered in Detroit to remember singer Aretha Franklin, a giant in the world of American music.

The ceremony at the Greater Grace Temple assumed epic proportions, with a program of speakers and music scheduled to last more than five hours.

Franklin, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 76, has been dressed in four outfits as her body in state for public viewing over several days. While the week has been filled with tribute concerts and other high-profile celebrations of the singer and her remarkable life, funeral organizers say Friday’s funeral will be a religious service, not entertainment.

Bishop Charles Ellis the third, pastor of Greater Grace Temple, told the Associated Press before the service: “It is my goal and my aim to ensure that people leave here with some kind of spiritual awakening. …This is not a concert, this is not a show, this is not an awards production. This is a real life that has been lived.”

Franklin’s final days have been treated as a royal goodbye. She is to be buried in a bronze casket plated with 24-karat gold. Franklin’s name and the title “Queen of Soul” are embroidered into the champagne-colored velvet lining the interior.

Franklin’s body was brought to the church in a white hearse that carried the body of her father, minister C.L. Franklin, in 1991 and civil rights leader Rosa Parks in 2005; and like them, she will be buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

31/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Mourners Pay Final Respects to Aretha Franklin at Public Viewing

Thousands of mourners have come to pay their respects to music legend Aretha Franklin, who will be laid to rest Friday in Detroit, Michigan. A star-studded roster of performers and speakers are scheduled to attend. From Washington, VOA’s Jill Craig has more.

31/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Fans Flock to Her Father’s Church to Salute Franklin

Before the world marks the end of Aretha Franklin’s life at her funeral Friday, fans gathered a day early to celebrate her in the place where her faith was forged and her voice was first discovered, singing signature gospel classics like Amazing Grace and Precious Lord.

The line for the public viewing at New Bethel Baptist Church stretched for more than a half mile Thursday afternoon. Fans wearing a variety of T-shirts bearing Franklin’s image mourned her loss with a smile. There were spontaneous bursts into song and cheers for the Queen of Soul as they waited to enter the sanctuary.

Shouts of “We love you!” “Ree Ree!” and “Let the Queen through!” could be heard as the white 1940s Cadillac hearse drove down Linwood Street and pulled up to the front of New Bethel. The crowd jockeyed to snap photographs and cellphone videos of Franklin’s bronze casket as it was taken into the church just before noon.

‘A lifelong fan’

“I had to be here,” said Joyce E. Stroud, who traveled from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to say goodbye to the icon she first met at a concert in California many years ago.

“I met Aretha when I was 23 years old in San Francisco at the Fillmore West when she did that historic three-day concert,” Stroud said. “That was the first time I was introduced to her and I’ve been a lifelong fan.”

Several dignitaries were also expected to pay their respects at Thursday’s viewing, which was opened to the public after the tremendous outpouring of support throughout the week. Thousands attended the two days of public viewings at The Wright Museum.

The sight would’ve been truly humbling, even for a diva, said Michael Eric Dyson, a friend of Franklin’s who attended the New Bethel viewing and will speak at her service.

“She would be deeply honored and appreciative of the fact that people, for three days, have poured out of every vestibule and crevice of this city and country to travel long miles to recognize her genius,” he said.

Linda Swanson, executive vice president of Swanson Funeral Home, echoed the sentiment. The funeral home, which has been in Detroit for 60 years, also handled the arrangements for Franklin’s father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, who preached at New Bethel from 1946 to 1979.

“We, the Swanson family, also love the citizens of Detroit, and so it just swells our hearts with pride and joy to see the city turning out to honor this queen eternal,” she said.

Photos, roses

Inside New Bethel, the scene was reverent, with gospel music softly playing as a sea of ushers guided mourners into the red-carpeted inner sanctum, decorated with pictures of Franklin and more lavender and pink roses, which also surrounded her at the public viewing earlier this week at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Ever the performer, Franklin gave viewers yet a third outfit change — this time, a sparkling rose gold gown. Matching earrings complimented short cropped curls, and the ensemble was completed with gold-sequined Christian Louboutin heels. She has also worn head-to-toe red in honor of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, and baby blue.

Upon exiting the church, fans were able to write notes of support and condolence on posters taped to the wall.

The Swanson Funeral Home has declined to say what Franklin’s final outfit will be for Friday’s service, but it will almost certainly be different. The funeral is expected to begin at 10 a.m. at Greater Grace Temple and will last at least five hours.

30/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Prince Harry, Wife Meghan Attend Hit Musical Hamilton in London

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan attended a performance of the hit musical Hamilton on Wednesday to raise money for a charity which works with children affected by HIV in southern Africa.

At the end of the show, Harry and the musical’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda  addressed the audience, said a statement from Harry’s Kensington Palace residence.

Hamilton is an unconventional take on the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, blending, hip-hop and rap, rhythm and blues and ballads.

The London production, housed in the refurbished Victoria Palace Theatre, is the show’s first foray outside of the United States after successful runs in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as Broadway in New York.

Harry married Hollywood actress Meghan Markle in May, at a royal wedding that included a gospel choir and other nods to her African American heritage.

30/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Operation Finale – How Mossad Brought Adolf Eichmann to Justice

The drama “Operation Finale” revisits history and brings to life the dramatic capture, by Mossad operatives, of Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief architects of the Nazi Holocaust. Filmmaker Chris Weitz and scriptwriter and historian Matthew Orton offer a dramatic rendition of the historic events that took place in Argentina, 15 years after the end of World War II. VOA’s Penelope Poulou spoke with the cast about the significance of these events in postwar history and their retelling on film today.

30/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Maryland Muslim Organization Distributes Eid Holiday Meat to Local Residents

Muslims living in United States are sharing the happiness and joy of the Eid celebration with non-Muslims, especially when Muslims sacrifice an animal and share the meat with the poor and needy. VOA’s Vardha Khalil recently visited a residential area in Silver Spring, Maryland, where a local Muslim organization distributed more than 2700 kilos of meat to the community. Khalil files this report.

29/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Thousands Turn Out for Spain’s Annual ‘Tomatina’ Fight

Thousands of revelers hurled at least 145 tons of tomatoes at each other Wednesday during the annual “Tomatina” festival in the eastern Spanish town of Bunol.

With a firecracker blast marking the start of “La Tomatina” shortly before noon local time, at least six trucks loaded with tomatoes drove through Bunol’s main street, providing red ammunition for the revelers to fight each other for the next hour.

The event takes its origins from a spontaneous food fight that broke out amongst villagers in 1945. It was banned for a time during the 1950s at the height of General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, but has gained popularity again since it was reinstated, drawing a huge international crowd.

The Tomatina attracts thousands of participants and onlookers from Spain and around the world to Bunol, one of the country’s prime tomato-producing areas. The Reuters news agency reports that at one time, the festival involved up to 45,000 participants. Now, it has become a ticketed event with only 22,000 available slots, 5,000 of which go to local residents.

 

29/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Cardi B Sorry for ‘Real Housewives’ of Civil Rights Parody

Cardi B has apologized to the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. for portraying the civil rights leader’s wife, Coretta Scott King, in a comedy skit.

News outlets report the Bronx rapper was featured in “The Real Housewives of Civil Rights,” a two-minute parody that surfaced Tuesday on TMZ. Tuesday was the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The sketch from comedian Rip Michaels’ new series Off the Rip portrays pettiness between Coretta Scott King and Malcolm X’s wife, Betty Shabazz, and ends with a joke about Dr. King sleeping with “The Iggy Azalea of the Civil Rights Movement.”

But Bernice King later thanked Cardi B on Twitter for reaching out and apologizing, and said she looked forward to talking with her.

29/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Ugandan Pop Star Bobi Wine Has Kidney Problem After Jail

Bobi Wine, the Ugandan pop star who opposes the long-time president, has “a kidney problem” that needs urgent medical attention abroad, his lawyer said Wednesday, two days after the singer was freed from detention on crutches.

A medical report confirms “the suspicion of a kidney problem” now afflicting the singer, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, Medard Sseggona told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

 

Ssentamu, who is being treated at a private facility in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, also reported that in detention “they squeezed his manhood,” he said. “He was suffering pain in the hips.”

 

“All efforts are underway” to get the papers necessary for him to travel abroad for specialized care, he said.

 

Ssentamu, through his lawyers and colleagues, has alleged severe torture at the hands of security personnel during his detention. But he himself has not made any public statement since he was arrested on Aug. 14 in the northwestern town of Arua for his alleged role in an incident in which the presidential motorcade was pelted with stones.

 

Ssentamu was freed on bail Monday after being charged with treason alongside 32 other suspects arrested following the alleged stone attack on the presidential convoy. Ssentamu’s driver was shot and killed in the aftermath of the incident, allegedly by the security forces. The government says the killing is being investigated.

 

A trial date has not yet been fixed for the treason charges. Ssentamu and his co-accused will still be required to appear before a magistrate’s court on Thursday. The magistrate will consider the evidence and decide if the case should go to the High Court for trial.

 

Since winning a seat in parliament last year Ssentamu has drawn big crowds while campaigning for several opposition candidates who have won election. He is challenging the long rule of President Yoweri Museveni by appealing to young people frustrated by the lack of jobs and opportunities. His supporters, citing his popularity with the youth, are urging him to run for president in 2021.

 

Like Museveni, Ssentamu was in Arua to campaign in a local election to choose a legislator. The eventual winner of that vote, Kassiano Wadri, has also been charged with treason and is yet to be sworn in. Two other lawmakers have been similarly charged.

 

Another lawmaker arrested alongside Ssentamu, Francis Zaake, is hospitalized with injuries his colleagues describe as serious. The nature of those injuries has not been revealed.

 

The allegations of torture have angered Ssentamu’s followers, who see him as the victim of government intolerance. The speaker of Uganda’s parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has written to Museveni urging the arrest of alleged perpetrators within the security forces.

 

In the letter she said that Zaake “remains gravely ill” and Ssentamu “has visible signs of torture and beatings.” Unless the accused officers are arrested and presented in court, she warned, “it will be very difficult to conduct government business” in parliament.

 

Ssentamu’s arrest sparked protests in Kampala and elsewhere demanding his release, with scores of people detained as security forces cracked down on demonstrators.

 

Dozens of top international musicians, including Angelique Kidjo, Chris Martin, Chrissie Hynde and Brian Eno, signed a letter demanding Ssentamu’s release, and a social media campaign to (hash)FreeBobiWine was launched.

 

Museveni, a U.S. ally on regional security who took power by force in 1986, has been elected five times. Although he has campaigned on a record of establishing peace and stability, some worry that those gains are being eroded the longer he stays in power.

 

The 74-year-old Museveni is now able to seek re-election in 2021 because parliament passed legislation last year removing a clause in the constitution that had prevented anyone over 75 from holding the presidency. Ssentamu publicly opposed that decision.

 

Museveni recently accused “unprincipled politicians” of luring youth into rioting.

 

 

29/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Women Photojournalists in a Male-Dominant Society are Breaking the Norm

In the violence-wracked, Indian-administered state of Kashmir, photojournalists have been capturing the daily lives of people and telling their stories to the outside world for many years. 18 journalists and media personnel have been killed covering the three-decade old armed conflict in the disputed Himalayan region. Like much of South Asia, the industry is predominantly staffed by men but that’s changing. VOA’s Yusuf Jameel reports with narration by Bezhan Hamdard.

29/08/2018
by MediaExpert
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Oprah, John Legend Voice ‘Madagascar’ Director’s VR Passion Project

It’s been around for decades, but, unlike regular 3D, virtual reality (VR) has yet to make a big impact in the movie industry, something a maker of Hollywood animations believes can change – if the films are good enough.

Eric Darnell, who co-wrote and directed the “Madagascar” movies, showed his own VR film at the Venice Film Festival this week, “Crow: The Legend,” in which the viewer is immersed in the story of a mythical bird that has to fly to the sun to bring back warmth to the Earth.

With a voice cast that includes Oprah Winfrey, John Legend and “Crazy Rich Asians” star Constance Wu, “Crow” is hardly an amateur affair, but Darnell’s Baobab Studios will be giving the movie away rather than selling it, as a way to generate interest in the medium.

“I don’t expect it’s going to be today or six months even,” he said of when VR might go mainstream.

“The technology has to get better, headsets have to get cheaper, the content has to get better and that’s at least as important as anything else,” Darnell told Reuters. “It’s a chicken and an egg thing. You can make all the great headsets you can but if there’s not great content … what’s the point?”

Darnell said he was attracted to VR after becoming “a little bit stale” making regular animation.

“When I put a VR headset on, it just blew me away and it reminded me of the first time I saw computer animation back in the early 80s … (That) launched a whole career for me and so when I put that headset on it reminded me of what I felt like

back then.”

In “Crow”, based on a native American legend, the viewer wears a VR helmet and hand-controllers to join the bird on its adventure, using the hands to send waves of virtual energy to help it on its way.

“I think the way we are really going to get there is by putting the viewer inside the story,” Darnell said. “Not just playing a story for them, putting them inside the story so that other characters recognize that the viewer is there and that it means something to them, that you are in their world.”

The Venice Film Festival runs from Aug. 29 to Sept 8.