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Barack Obama says goodbye, rally spirits of Democrats




Washington, Jan 11, 2017: Outgoing President Barack Obama on Tuesday said goodbye to the US citizens in a dramatic reinterpretation of a presidential farewell address.

Obama asked them to reaffirm their faith in their own ability to “bring about the change”, ending with his signature: “Yes we can”.

The 44th US President gave the farewell speech in Chicago, reflecting on his time in office.

“By almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place” than it was eight years ago,” he said.

He implored Americans of all backgrounds to consider things from each others point of view, saying: “We have to pay attention and listen”.

He said if the citizen were tired of how things were then, “lace up your shoes and do some organising”.

If they were unhappy with the way the officials functioned, then “get a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for the office”.

Returning to Chicago, where he first declared victory in 2008, Obama was delivering the parting message to Americans after a divisive and vicious election campaign which led to Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

He said: “Presuming goodness in others could be a risk”, but asked the 20,000 strong crowd gathered there to “dive in and stay at it” whenever change should be brought.

Referring to his own experience, Obama said: “More often than not your faith in America and Americans will be confirmed.”

He cited examples of young graduates and officers whom he met in the past eight years. He also recalled the bereaved families he mourned with and “found grace” in the Charleston Church.

He especially drew inspiration from the youngest. Obama recalled the young boy who offered his house and brotherhood to another child, a refuge from Syria.

The country’s first black president, now 55, was first elected in 2008 on a message of hope and change.

His successor, President-elect Donald Trump, has vowed to undo some of his signature policies.

Trump would be sworn into office on January 20.

Striking an upbeat tone, Obama said that the peaceful transfer of power between presidents was a “hallmark” of American democracy, the BBC reported.

However, he added, “our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity”.

Back to where it all started he said: “I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life,” CNN quoted Obama as saying.

His address was at McCormick Place, the largest convention centre in North America and the venue for Obama’s speech after he defeated Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.

The tickets were given out free, but were selling online for more than $1,000 each hours ahead of the speech.

First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden are all in attendance.

Obama rallied the spirits of beleaguered Democrats, still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s election loss in November.



Hawking’s ashes to sit near Newton, Darwin’s graves



London, March 21: The ashes of renowned physicist Steven Hawking will be interred in Westminster Abbey here near the graves of ground-breaking scientists Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

In a statement released by the Abbey on Tuesday, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, said it was a “fitting” tribute to the British scientist who passed away on March 14 at the age of 76, CNN reported.

“We believe it to be vital that science and religion work together to seek to answer the great questions of the mystery of life and of the universe,” Hall said in the statement.

Isaac Newton was buried at the Abbey following his death in 1727, as was naturalist Charles Darwin a century and a half later in 1882.

The Abbey announced there would also be a service of thanksgiving in Hawking’s honour later in the year, CNN said in its report.

Considered by many to be the greatest scientist of his generation, Hawking overcame a debilitating disease to gain a worldwide following for his brilliant work in theoretical physics.

He was born in Oxford, England, in 1942 on the 300th anniversary of the death of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei.

Along with fellow physicist Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes.

He also published hugely popular books allowing readers to join him in probing the mysteries of the universe. His landmark “A Brief History of Time” sold more than 10 million copies.

He accomplished all this while suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a neurodegenerative disease which is usually fatal within a few years. He was diagnosed in 1963 at the age of 21.

Although his disease left him paralysed and using a wheelchair for mobility, Hawking said on his website he had tried not to let it affect the way he lived his life.

“I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many,” he wrote on his website.

Following news of his death, his fellow scientists around the world paid tribute to Hawking, with Neil DeGrasse Tyson saying he had left an “intellectual vacuum in his wake”.

“But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure,” CNN quoted the astrophysicist as saying on Twitter.


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19 die in Philippines bus crash



Manila, March 21: Nineteen persons were killed in the Southern Philippines when a bus ran off a highway and plunged into a ravine. At least 25 others have been injured in the incident, authorities said.

The crash occurred around 9.30 p.m. on Tuesday in Sablayan town of Occidental Mindoro, Xinhua news agency reported.

The bus driver lost control over the vehicle and it crashed, Acris Panillo, head of disaster risk management office said.


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Won’t cede even an inch of land, ready for bloody battle: Xi Jinping



Xi Jinping

Beijing, March 20: President Xi Jinping on Tuesday said China won’t cede even an inch of its land and was prepared to fight the bloody battle against its enemies.

“Not a single inch of our land will be or can be ceded from China,” Xi said on the concluding day of the annual session of the National’s People’s Congress – China’s parliament.

“We are resolved to fight the bloody battle against our enemies,” Xi said at the Great Hall.

China fears secession by Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Taiwan is a self-ruled island, which Beijing claims as its own and vows to unite it with China one day.

People in Hong Kong — a former British colony and now a special administrative region of China – resent growing interference by Beijing.

Xi’s views were echoed by Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

“China is resolute in upholding its own territorial integrity and will not abandon an inch of its own land. China will not take and occupy an inch of land of others,” Li said in a press conference on the closing day of the NPC session.


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