In tune with the latest news?
We’ve got the death of a rock ‘n’ roll legend, the uncertain status of a beloved festival, the trial of a disgraced singer, and the poignant anniversary of an adored superstar.
TUESDAY’S TOP LINES
- Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, has died at the age of 80. Watts joined the band back in 1963. The BBC described Watts as the “subtle, stoic heartbeat of The Rolling Stones for almost 60 years”. CNN described him as the “unassuming son of a truck driver”.
- The organisers of Electric Picnic - an Irish annual music festival - have called on authorities to reverse a decision not to allow the event go ahead. Why? The calls for a reversal come following comments by Dr Tony Holohan - the country’s Chief Medical Officer - who said he would not be opposed to it going ahead if only fully vaccinated people were allowed attend.
- Zambia has a new president. Hakainde Hichilema was sworn in on Tuesday, after a victorious election in his sixth attempt to lead the country. He beat his predecessor, Edgar Lungu, who had ruled for six years. Despite alleged attempts to rig the election in Lungu’s favour, Hichilema won in a landslide victory with a margin of more than a million votes.
- Ryanair is to stop all flights to and from Northern Ireland. Why? Because of the “refusal to suspend or reduce APD [air passenger duty], and the lack of Covid recovery incentives from both Belfast airports,” according to a statement from the airline.
President Biden will not extend the presence of US troops on the ground beyond August 31, despite calls from European allies.
“In the end it took only seven minutes for Joe Biden to pour salt into the wounds of his fractured relationship with European leaders.” - Guardian analysis
The Director of the CIA held a secret meeting with the head of the Taliban in Kabul on Monday. The CIA declined to comment on the report, but The Washington Post broke the story and it was quickly picked up by other US outlets. CNN described the meeting as an “exchange of views” on what needs to be done between now and August 31.
The Taliban are now saying Afghans can no longer evacuate the country, only foreign citizens can. A Taliban spokesman said Afghans returning from the airport would not face reprisals, but should not be allowed leave the country as their qualifications are needed.
Working women in Afghanistan have been told to stay at home for now. Why? The Taliban say it is because their security forces “are not trained in how to deal with women”. They insist it is a temporary measure. Worth noting: During the Taliban’s time in power between 1996 and 2001, women were not allowed to work, leave the home without a male guardian, or receive a full education.
Airbnb will house 20,000 Afghan refugees around the world for free. Brian Chesky, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said he hopes the move inspires other businesses to do the same, adding “there’s no time to waste”.
According to Airbnb.org, “750,000 people have found a place to stay in times of crisis since 2012”.
Military perspective: I served in Afghanistan as a US marine, twice. Here’s the truth in two sentences. It makes for a fascinating, and very blunt, read.
“One: For 20 years, politicians, elites and D.C. military leaders lied to us about Afghanistan. Two: What happened last week was inevitable, and anyone saying differently is still lying to you.”
If you watch one thing today… please ensure it is the overview below. Ros Atkins summarises the situation in Afghanistan, dissecting the impact of the deal between the US and the Taliban.
“But the government Joe Biden wanted to have the strength and confidence to resist the Taliban, was the same government the Americans left outside the negotiating room in Doha… perhaps in the end rather than building confidence, the deal did the reverse for the government, when it’s relationship with Afghans was already fragile.” - Ros Atkins
What’s the latest in the R Kelly trial?
R Kelly’s trial is ongoing in New York at the moment. Here is a list of some of the key allegations made about the singer, who pleaded not guilty and has repeatedly maintained his innocence.
- One accuser claims Kelly knowingly gave her herpes, and forced her to have an abortion during a five-year relationship
- Kelly videotaped sexual encounters with an accuser
- The same accuser alleged she was once forced to eat feces as punishment, adding it was smeared across her face
- Kelly’s live-in girlfriends were barred from watching the “Surviving R Kelly” series about his alleged abuse
- One accuser says Kelly forced her to have sex with a man referred to as “Nephew,” while Kelly watched
- At least two males were also groomed and exploited by Kelly
Kelly’s legal team’s response…
- They claim the women were groupies of Kelly who were treated to lavish gifts
- They pointed to one woman’s letter to Kelly in 2019, where she declares her love for him
Kelly faces charges of racketeering and sex trafficking. As The Washington Post noted, if convicted he faces “potentially decades in prison”.
- BBC News: Covid protection in double-jabbed waning in the UK
- The Guardian: Covid claims 100 lives a day on average across the UK, statistics show
- The Financial Times: CIA meeting with Taliban revealed as US allies press for evacuation extension
- RTÉ News: Family criticises use of image in anti-vaccination push
- The Irish Times: Colin Bateman: ‘I took one of my son’s pills and ended up in an ambulance. He takes three.’*drawing on his teenage son’s experience with mental illness
20 years since the death of singer Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash when she was just 22. Blackground Records started releasing her five albums to streaming services starting August 20th, to mark the anniversary of her death.
Did you know? Aaliyah has been mentioned in the R Kelly trial this week. Back when Aaliyah was 15, a then 27-year-old R Kelly married her - though the dynamic between the pair has always been shrouded in secrecy. Documents allegedly used at the time suggested Aaliyah was 18. The pair had worked together on Aaliyah’s debut record, ‘Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number’.
A former tour manager of Kelly’s, Demetrius Smith, alleges he was told by Kelly that Aaliyah believed she was pregnant at the age of 15. According to The Washington Post, Smith then “played a key role in acquiring a fake ID for her,” so she could marry Kelly. Smith testified he bribed a government employee, paying him $500 to obtain the fake ID.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE…
Never skip dog day.