Egan Bernal Wins 2019 Tour De France

 

Egan Bernal clinched victory in the Tour de France on Sunday after parading into Paris safely in the overall leader’s yellow jersey, becoming the first Colombian winner of cycling’s greatest prize and its youngest in more than a century.

With the sun setting behind the Arc de Triomphe, the 22-year-old Ineos rider completed the 21 stage, 3,409km (2,118 miles) marathon around France 1min 10sec ahead of 2018 champion and teammate Geraint Thomas.

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Colombian spectators thronged the Champs Elysees to witness the traditional eight-lap finale, where Australia’s Caleb Ewan, also 22, won his third stage of the 2019 edition on the culminating mass bunch sprint.

AFP

Ryan Adams Cancels UK, Ireland Tour Over Abuse Claims

Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams performs at “I Am The Highway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell” in Inglewood, California. KEVIN WINTER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Ryan Adams’ tour of Britain and Ireland has been cancelled, ticket retailer Ticketmaster said Friday, following accusations of abuse against the US alternative singer-songwriter.

Adams has been accused by several women of emotional abuse and exploiting his position as a career mentor as a means to obtain sex.

Ten concerts have been scrapped. The BBC reported that several fans had sought refunds on their tickets following the allegations.

“The Ryan Adams UK and Ireland tour has been cancelled,” Ticketmaster Ireland said on Twitter, adding that full refunds to people who bought tickets from authorised outlets would be processed by the end of the day on Monday.

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An expose in The New York Times published last month details a pattern of manipulative behaviour from the 44-year-old Grammy-nominated artist, including testimony from performer Mandy Moore, his ex-wife.

In one instance the newspaper — which interviewed more than half a dozen women and reviewed a trove of the US rocker’s digital communications — describes Adams as sending graphic texts to a 14-year-old aspiring bass player and exposing himself on Skype.

The paper said he continued the sexually provocative correspondence for months despite appearing to doubt that she was of age.

The country-influenced rocker also allegedly presented women with opportunities to build their profiles while pursuing sex with them, turning angry and sometimes verbally abusive when rejected.

The music world so far has been less affected by the #MeToo movement and crusades against workplace harassment than sectors including Hollywood and the media, despite a growing legion of people saying the industry shields pervasive abuse.

On his Twitter account on February 13, Adams said: “I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes. To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologise deeply and unreservedly.”

AFP

Melania Trump To Visit Ghana,Kenya And Other African Countries Next Month

US First Lady Melania Trump at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York on September 26, 2018. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

US First Lady Melania Trump on Wednesday announced that she would visit Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt next week, kicking off her first major international solo trip to promote child welfare and education.

Trump, 48, made the announcement at a reception welcoming spouses of visiting heads of state and other foreign delegations on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“October 1 will mark the first day of my solo visit to four beautiful and very different countries in Africa: Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt,” she said.

Trump said those countries had worked alongside the US Agency for International Development, with whom she has been organizing her trip, in making “great progress in overcoming some of their biggest challenges.”

She said that she was looking forward to taking with her the message of her signature initiative, “Be Best,” which she set up with the goal of focusing on children’s well-being, as well as social media use and opioid abuse.

“I am so proud of the work this administration is doing through USAID and others, and look forward to the opportunity to take the message of my Be Best campaign to many of the countries and children throughout Africa,” she added.

“Whether it is education, drug addiction, hunger, online safety or bullying, poverty or disease, it is too often children who are hit first and hardest across the globe.”

The first ladies of Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi attended the reception, as did the wives of US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Sara Netanyahu, the wife of the Israeli prime minister, was also there.

‘Love Africa’

Trump thanked, in turn, the first ladies of Ghana, Malawi, and Kenya, saying how much she was looking forward to visiting their countries. She did not say how long her visit would take.

In Ghana, she said USAID programs have focused on healthcare; in Malawi, on education as the key to combating poverty; and in Kenya on programs including early childhood education, wildlife preservation, and HIV prevention.

US President Donald Trump and Melania hosted Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta and his wife at the White House last month.

In Egypt, the US first lady’s final stop, she will highlight tourism and preservation projects as well as issues concerning women and religious minorities.

“Each of us hails from a country with its own unique challenges, but I know in my heart we are united by our commitment to raising the next generation to be happy, healthy and morally responsible adults,” Trump told the reception.

Her husband has yet to travel to Africa in office and fanned major controversy at the start of the year for allegedly disparaging “shithole” countries on the continent.

Earlier on Wednesday Donald Trump trailed his wife’s announcement, saying “we both love Africa. Africa is so beautiful.”

In September 2017, the mother of one and the Slovenian-born former model went alone to Toronto, where she met Britain’s Prince Harry and attended the opening ceremony of games he organizes for disabled and wounded veterans.

Melania Trump has also accompanied the US president on visits to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

The White House said the trip would take place in the first week of October, and focus on maternal and newborn care in hospitals, education for children, the culture and history of each country, and how the United States is supporting them on their journey to self-reliance.

AFP

French President, Macron Addresses U.S. Congress In Final Tour

France’s President Emmanuel Macron addresses a joint meeting of Congress inside the House chamber on April 25, 2018 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP

 

French President Emmanuel Macron was poised to address US lawmakers Wednesday as he wraps up his three-day visit to Washington — a whirlwind of nuclear diplomacy on Iran, and lighter moments showcasing his unlikely “bromance” with Donald Trump.

Macron earned an exuberant welcome from the Republican president — an elaborate state dinner, an intimate dinner for four with their wives at George Washington’s Virginia estate Mount Vernon, and repeated vows of friendship.

“May our friendship grow even deeper, may our kinship grow even stronger, and may our sacred liberty never die,” Trump said in his toast to the Macrons late Tuesday at the White House.

In turn, the 40-year-old French leader spoke at length of “how deep, how strong, and how intense the relationship is between our two countries,” and marveled at the unforeseen rapport he has forged with the 71-year-old Trump.

“I got to know you, you got to know me. We both know that none of us easily changes our minds, but we will work together, and we have this ability to listen to one another,” he said.

In his speech Wednesday, Macron will address what he thinks are historically warm Franco-US ties now challenged by differences over economic inequality, climate change and the rise of nationalism, according to his aides.

Iran and trade 

But amid all the friendly gestures — Trump even seemingly flicked dandruff off Macron’s shoulder to “make him perfect” — the pair’s meetings were not all about style, with the fate of the Iran nuclear deal and transatlantic trade on the table.

The pair called for a “new” deal with Tehran, looking beyond their past disagreements over the landmark 2015 accord to curb the Islamic republic’s nuclear program — an agreement slammed by Trump as “insane” and whose future still hangs in the balance.

Trump instead wants a broader “deal” that would also limit Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for militant groups across the Middle East.

“I think we will have a great shot at doing a much bigger, maybe, deal,” said Trump, stressing that any new accord would have to be built on “solid foundations.”

Macron admitted after meeting Trump that he did not know whether the US president would walk away from the nuclear deal when a May 12 decision deadline comes up.

“I can say that we have had very frank discussions on that, just the two of us,” Macron told a joint press conference Tuesday with Trump at his side.

Putting on a brave face, he said he wished “for now to work on a new deal with Iran” of which the nuclear accord could be one part.

The key question is whether Macron can translate their privileged relationship into concrete results — as he also pushes for a permanent exemption for Europe from US steel and aluminium tariffs.

After his speech to Congress, Macron will meet students at George Washington University and deliver a final press conference before heading back to Paris.

AFP

Africa, United States Move On From ‘Shithole’ Remarks As Tillerson Starts Tour

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) waits for the start of a news conference with African Union (AU) Commission Chairman Moussa Faki (R), of Chad following their meeting on March 8, 2018 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. 
JONATHAN ERNST / AFP

 

Washington’s top diplomat began his first Africa tour Thursday by meeting with the African Union chief, who said the continent had moved on from a reported insult by President Donald Trump.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat discussed security and counter-terrorism, trade and development, corruption and conflict in an hour-long meeting at the continental body’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

But looming over the meeting was Trump’s alleged description of African nations as “shithole countries” in January, which forced the president to pen a letter reaffirming his commitment to the continent.

Faki, however, insisted the slur was now in the past.

“I received a letter written by President Trump to myself and I shared that with other African leaders. I believe this incident is of the past,” he said.

Tillerson’s five-nation Africa tour — to include Djibouti, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria, all key allies in fighting Islamic extremism — has been described as a “listening tour”, with no deals or initiatives due to be announced.

“The purpose of my trip is to listen to what the priorities of the countries here on the continent are and see where there is good alignment,” said Tillerson.

The diplomat met Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu as well as Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who resigned earlier this month amid a political crisis in Africa’s fastest growing economy.

Tillerson urged Ethiopia to move on from a state of emergency “as quickly as possible” and called for citizens in the tightly-run country to be given “greater freedoms”.

Focus on security 

Analysts highlight the choice of countries visited by Tillerson as a sign of the United States’ focus on security issues on the continent.

Chad, Kenya and Nigeria are all battling Islamic extremism, with help from the United States, while Djibouti hosts the only permanent US military base on the continent.

Tillerson and Faki discussed continued US support to African counter-terrorism forces in the Sahel and Somalia but no new concrete commitments were given.

“We have not yet won that battle in Somalia and we must stay at it,” Tillerson said.

His visit is also a bid to counter the mounting perception that the continent is a low priority for the Trump administration, with US-Africa policy ill-defined and key ambassadorial and State Department posts unfilled.

Tillerson’s department, meanwhile, submitted a 2019 budget request that would cut US health programs in Africa by a fifth and diplomatic programs by more than a third.

However he said his visit was “an indication of the importance the continent plays in the future of the US, both in security and from the economic standpoint.”

Also looming over the journey is the rise of China as an economic and diplomatic power to rival the West.

Tillerson warned against blind acceptance of booming Chinese investment in Africa.

He said the US was “not in any way attempting to keep Chinese investment dollars out of Africa” but urged governments to “carefully consider the terms of those investments” so they do “not forfeit any elements of your sovereignty”.

He also solicited African support in pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Tillerson said the US was “a long way from negotiations” with North Korea, which this week made a shock offer to discuss denuclearisation in return for security guarantees.

Lavrov meeting? 

Tillerson’s trip to Ethiopia is scheduled to briefly overlap with a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said he had requested a meeting. Washington denied receiving an invitation to talks.

“We sent proposals to the Americans and they said they will think about that but later. As you know, they announced that there will be no meeting and that no discussions (about it) have taken place at all,” Lavrov said in Zimbabwe.

Tillerson, in Addis Ababa, called the idea that he had rejected a meeting with Lavrov “silly.”

“If it doesn’t work out here, he and I see each other often around the world and we have each other’s telephone numbers and we do use them.”

Tillerson heads to Djibouti and Kenya on Friday.

AFP

Elton John To Bow Out With Final Tour

 

Elton John To Bow Out With Final Tour
lton John performs during the Elton John Special Announcement at Gotham Hall on January 24, 2018 in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images/AFP

 

Elton John announced Wednesday that he is retiring from touring, with the consummate showman saying he wants to devote himself to his children — but after a final, massive swing around the world.

The 70-year-old British entertainer, revealing his plans at a gala New York event, said he planned to “go out with a bang” with a global tour that will open in September and last through 2021.

“It will be the last time that I’m touring and travelling the world, because my priorities have changed,” John told several hundred journalists and guests after a mini-concert and virtual reality presentation of his career.

Saying he has had an “amazing life and amazing career,” he added: “My priorities now are my children and my husband and my family.”

John, who in the 1980s became one of the first openly gay major celebrities, has two children with his husband, Canadian filmmaker and former advertising executive David Furnish.

The original “Rocket Man” said he had no health concerns, despite a scare with a bacterial infection that caused him to cancel South American dates last year. He said he would stay active, hoping to record more albums and write further musicals.

“I will be creative, hopefully, until the day I die,” he said.

Don’t let the sun go down on me

John, who closes his latest extravagant Las Vegas residency in May, said he was also open to concerts after the tour, but that they would likely only be in his native Britain.

He said he was more interested as a septuagenarian in taking his children to soccer practice than to traveling.

“I never thought that I could love anything as much as I love my sons. There’s not a word in the English dictionary that describes the love you have for a child,” he said.

The pop megastar said he remained excited by entertaining audiences — but was fed up with traveling, with his children often imploring him to stay home. “I’ve been in the back of a van since I was 16,” John said.

John made the announcement under the Roman-inspired dome and columns of Gotham Hall, a former bank turned event space in Midtown Manhattan, where guests were offered champagne and shrimp tempura hors d’ouevres.

The self-described Luddite — “I’ve never downloaded anything, not even porn,” he quipped to laughs — offered a virtual reality retrospective of his career on headsets offered to the audience.

The mini-biography starts in 1970 at West Hollywood’s Troubadour club, where the little-known pianist, born Reginald Dwight, electrified the audience. It then takes the viewer on stage with him at his legendary 1975 blowouts at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

John promised that the upcoming tour would offer a similar show-biz pizzazz.

He has already shown his signature flair in Las Vegas, where he is one of the biggest entertainment attractions.

The pop legend’s latest Las Vegas show, “The Million Dollar Piano,” opened in 2011 and features an elaborate display through dozens of video screens. It followed a separate Las Vegas residency, “The Red Piano,” from 2004 to 2009.

Still standing

John, often known as Sir Elton after a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, has generated decades of hits such as “I’m Still Standing,” “Rocket Man,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

His style brought together the old-school rhythm-and-blues piano of early rock ‘n’ roll with Gospel influences as well as a solid grounding in classical music.

The artist has also earned a fortune as a composer for musicals including blockbuster “The Lion King,” “Billy Elliot” and the upcoming adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Forbes magazine last year ranked him as the 26th highest-earning celebrity, earning $60 million over the previous year.

After struggles in the past with addiction and depression, John’s last studio album, “Wonderful Crazy Night,” carried a palpable sense of joy. Last year he put out a greatest hits collection dubbed “Diamonds.”

AFP

Jonathan Rededicates Self To Country’s Development During Pilgrimage

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan along with his entourage has kicked off his holy pilgrimage to Israel with a tour of some holy sites in Jerusalem.

The tour was used as a rededication by the President to the development of the country.

The President also took time to tour the holy sites within the walls of old Jerusalem.

The walk down the way of the cross in particular was used by the president to make supplications on behalf of the country.

On the first day, the tour started with a visit to the garden of Gethsemani, the Upper Room in Mount Zion and the Church of St. Peters, where Peter was said to have denied Jesus.

Supplications were made in Chapels to mark every holy site by Christian Ministers, as they prayed for the President, as well as the unity and continued existence of the country back home.

The second day of President Jonathan’s tour started with the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem and the President was received by the Rabbi of the Wall, who led the pilgrims to offer supplications.

President Jonathan was led afterwards to the tunnels underneath the Wall to the Station of the Cross, which marked Jesus’ travails from the seat of Pontus Pilate to the Calvary.

The journey ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with President Jonathan offering prayers at every station along the way.

The experience no doubt awakens the sense of sacrifice in officials in the President’s entourage and perhaps an obligation to leave their country better for the next generation.

It will be recalled that the President left Nigeria for the year’s holy pilgrimage on Thursday 23rd October.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Reuben Abati, the President will also be meeting with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset.

There will also be talks between President Jonathan’s delegation and the Israeli government officials, with a focus on the enhancement of bilateral relations between Nigeria and Israel in areas of trade, economic development, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, communications, culture, education and tourism.

According to the statement, President Jonathan will also be meeting with the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas.

Those among the entourage of the President on the holy pilgrimage are Senator Emmanuel Paulker, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Akinwunmi  Adesina, the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, the Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolememen, the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Prof Viola Onwuliri, and the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

The President, who is expected to be back in the country next week, may meet and interact with some other Nigerians who are already in Israel for the holy pilgrimage.