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Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, dead at 76



Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, the music icon, Queen of Soul who influenced generations of singers with unforgettable hits such as Respect (1967), Natural Woman (1968) and I Say a Little Prayer (1968), was surrounded by family and friends when she died at 9.50am on Thursday local time.

It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul,” her family said in a statement issued by her publicist.

In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart.

We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.

Aretha Franklin

An early photo of Franklin

Her death from advanced pancreatic cancer was followed by an outpouring of grief, with celebrities flocking to pay their respects to the iconic singer.

John Legend tweeted: “Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I’ve ever known.”

Diana Ross said she was “sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.”

Barbra Streisand shared a photo of herself performing with Franklin in 2012, adding: It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world.

Tributes flowed for the remarkable woman, with everyone from Apple CEO Tim Cook to Hillary Clinton expressing their admiration for Franklin and sadness at her death.

Aretha Franklin

Franklin during her last public performance for the Elton John AIDS Foundation

Stars offered tributes and prayers for their idol earlier this week after news about her worsening condition emerged.

“My prayers are with Aretha Franklin and her family during this difficult time,” tweeted rapper Missy Elliott.

“We MUST CELEBRATE the Living Legends while they are here to see it. So many have given us decades of Timeless music.”

Boy George said: “This is sad news. Aretha Franklin, what a voice.”

Pop diva Mariah Carey, who was heavily influenced by Franklin, tweeted: “Praying for the Queen of Soul.”

Franklin has cemented her place in American music history with her powerful, bell-clear voice that stretched over four octaves. In her decades-long career, her hits spanned the genres, from soul to R&B, to gospel and pop.

She was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine put her at the top of its list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, male or female.

The Hall of Fame issued a statement titled “Lady Soul”, which read: “The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Franklin was an artist of passion, sophistication and command, whose recordings remain anthems that defined soul music. Long live the Queen.”

Franklin’s declining health was first disclosed on the Showbiz 411 website late Monday by Roger Friedman, a reporter and family friend. He wrote that she was “gravely ill in Detroit. The family is asking for prayers and privacy.”

Franklin, who is widely known by only her first name, in true diva style, rose from singing gospel in her father’s church to regularly topping rhythm and blues and pop charts in the 1960s and 1970s.

Beyond Respect, her powerful cover of the Otis Redding tune that became her calling card, Franklin had dozens of Top 40 singles, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Other hits include Day Dreaming (1972), Jump to It (1982), Freeway of Love (1985) and A Rose Is Still A Rose (1998).

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She won 18 Grammy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement, and sang at the inaugurations of two presidents: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Aretha Franklin

The singer pumps up the crowd in Detroit for President Barack Obama

In 2005, Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award for an American civilian, by then-president George W. Bush.
In 2010, she suffered serious health problems, but continued to perform until late last year, singing last in November 2017 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York. That same year, Detroit named a street after her.

Standing outside the Motown Museum in Detroit on Tuesday, Linda Laura-Culbreath told AFP that Franklin had influenced a generation of women who were empowered by her songs.

We all were blessed with pure talent,” the 53-year-old musician, who was visiting from Milwaukee, said.

She made sure that women in general knew that they were not under a man, that they were supposed to walk next to them.


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International (Global)

Navalny, Russian opposition leader ‘poisoned’



alexei navalny

Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader was “poisoned” by an unidentified toxic substance. Doctors have sent him back to jail despite his condition, his lawyer and personal physician said on Monday.

Doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva said the 43-year-old, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was rushed to hospital on Sunday with swollen eyelids, discharge in the eye and a rash on his upper body.


“It is indeed poisoning by some unknown chemical substance,” his lawyer Olga Mikhailova told reporters outside Moscow’s hospital No 64.

Vasilyeva wrote on Facebook that “some toxic agent may be the reason for Alexei Navalny’s ‘illness’”.

Navalny has been in jail since last week for calling an unauthorised rally.

After his hospitalisation on Sunday doctors diagnosed Navalny with a skin condition, Vasilyeva said.

He was treated with a steroid and he got better, but has been sent back to jail despite needing to continue the treatment.

She also said she suspected his prison cell could be contaminated.

Vasilyeva is an ophthalmologist who had treated Navalny previously for an eye injury.

She accused the hospital doctors of not wanting to find out what caused Navalny’s condition.

He was jailed for calling a rally against Russian authorities and move to block prominent independent candidates from taking part in Moscow parliament elections in September.


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International (Global)

US election: Trump never took presidency seriously, says Obama



US election


Donald Trump has “never” taken the US presidency seriously and lacks the skills to grow into the job, his predecessor Barack Obama will say Wednesday at the Democratic convention. US election.


“I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the US presidency seriously…. But he never did,” the 44th president will say, according to excerpts of his speech released by convention organizers.

However he’s shown no interest in putting in the work, no interest in finding common ground,” Obama said in a series of deeply critical comments about the sitting president. US election

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”


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International (Global)

Google Maps to alert users about travel restrictions related to COVID-19



Google Maps

Google Maps to alert users about travel restrictions related to COVID-19

Google Maps, a web mapping service that is developed by Google, has rolled out a number of new transit features that are aimed at helping users to travel safely through cars or public transport as countries start to ease lockdown and reopen after closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL.O) unit disclosed on Monday that Google is adding features on its Maps service to alert users about COVID-19-related travel restrictions to help them plan their trips better.

In the latest release of the Google Maps on Android and IOS, Google Map users will receive alerts about whether travel will be affected by any Covid-19 restriction, such as the requirements to wear a mask on public transport or if there are Covid-19 checkpoints or restrictions along the driving route

The update will allow users to check how crowded a train station might be at a particular time, or if buses on a certain route are running on a limited schedule, Google said.


According to the company’s blog post, the transit alerts will initially be rolled out in Argentina, France, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, India, Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom, among other countries.

Google Maps to alert users about travel restrictions related to covid-19

                                                            GOOGLE MAP APP

Users navigating to medical facilities or COVID-19 testing centers will also receive alerts reminding them of facility safety guidelines and to verify eligibility for testing to avoid being turned back.

In recent months, the company has analyzed location data from billions of Google users’ phones in 131 countries, to examine mobility under lockdowns and help health authorities assess if people were abiding with social-distancing and other orders issued to rein in the virus.

Google has invested billions of dollars from its search ads business to digitally map the world, drawing 1 billion users on average every month to its free navigation app.


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