Aretha Franklin’s Funeral to be in Detroit

Relatives of the late singer Aretha Franklin say her funeral will be August 31 in her hometown of Detroit.

There will be a two-day public viewing before the funeral at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, a publicist for the family, Gwendolyn Quinn, said, to allow fans to mourn.

The funeral will take place at Greater Grace Temple, which seats about 4,000 people and will be limited to family, friends and invited guests, which are expected to include dignitaries and music royalty from around the world.

Following the funeral, Franklin is to be buried with other members of her family at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Franklin died Thursday at her home in Detroit at the age of 76 from pancreatic cancer.

The Grammy-winning vocalist was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but grew up in Detroit after moving there as a youngster with her family.

Her talent was recognized at a young age as she played piano and sang hymns at the church where her father, C.L. Franklin, was a popular preacher.

Franklin moved into pop and jazz music at age 18 on the Columbia Records label. But her real breakthrough came in 1967 on Atlantic Records, which allowed her to sing with her natural gospel intensity for the first time.

She rocketed to national fame that year with a series of hit singles, including “Chain of Fools,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and her most famous song, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” her first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

Franklin eventually racked up more than 110 entries on Billboard magazine’s charts, the most by any woman in the magazine’s history. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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Kosovo, Serbia Mull Territorial Swap in Quest to End Dispute, Join EU

A decade-long dispute between Kosovo and Serbia is compelling both countries to consider a territorial swap along ethnic lines — a move that has long been opposed by both Brussels and Washington. But the leaders of both Balkan countries say redrawing the borders could help them resolve their differences and advance in their quest for European integration.  

Experts have mixed opinions over whether such a deal is workable or even desirable. 

Ten years after Kosovo declared independence, there has been little to no progress between the two countries in settling their disputes. Kosovo considers itself a sovereign nation, though Serbia refuses to recognize it as such. Both countries want to join the European Union, but Brussels will not allow it until disagreements over Kosovo’s sovereignty are settled. 

WATCH: Trade of territory by Kosovo, Serbia brings concerns

Now, Kosovo’s President Hashi Thaci and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic have suggested a deal to trade territory or change borders that could spark a breakthrough. Some experts caution, however, such a move could create myriad problems. 

“It would create instability, it would be dangerous. It could spark violence in Kosovo as well as in Serbia,” said David L. Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. 

The proposed exchange would involve Serbia getting part of northern Kosovo, an area with a mostly Serb population, and Kosovo getting Serbia’s Presevo Valley, inhabited by a majority of ethnic Albanians. It also would mean the change would be along ethnic lines — anathema in Western thinking. 

“The principle of pluralism and democracy is something that is a cornerstone of U.S. policy. It’s also a cornerstone of Europe’s approach to countries that aspire to membership,” Phillips said. 

But David Kanin, adjunct professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University and a former CIA senior analyst, notes that Europe has a history of changing borders and population movements. 

“That has not stopped. Every change in Yugoslavia since the old Yugoslavia collapsed has been about changing borders, moving people around, some supported by the West, some opposed,” he said.

Diplomatic gap?

In the past, both Brussels and Washington have shot down the idea of redrawing borders along ethnic lines, but this time it appears they are not in agreement. 

The European Union has not openly commented on this issue. The office of the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, has not responded to VOA questions about this issue. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected any changes to the borders, saying, “The territorial integrity of the states of the Western Balkans has been established and is inviolable.”

The U.S. position has been more ambiguous. In a statement to VOA’s Albanian Service, the State Department said the solution should come from the parties themselves. It also said the parties should show flexibility, but stopped short of rejecting the idea of a border change. 

“If Kosovo and Serbia were able to agree on a settlement that would allow for permanent peace that would allow for mutual recognition, I think that would help settle politics in Serbia in some ways. It would give Kosovo a way forward,” said Kurt Volker, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO. 

Phillips, a former State Department senior adviser, suggested a lack of clarity does not signal a new policy.

“The U.S. government does not have a coherent policy toward Kosovo. It doesn’t pay any attention to the Western Balkans. I don’t think we should read too much into these vague and ambiguous statements. Right now U.S. policy remains as it always has been. It recognizes Kosovo within its current frontiers. That hasn’t changed.”

Benefits, ramifications

Even if the idea is officially included in the EU-mediated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, many questions remain, including whether Serbia should recognize Kosovo first and what that would portend.

“The discussion right now around partition, as noisy as it is, is dealing with the secondary issue of who gets what territory,” said Kanin. “The question of Kosovo’s sovereignty is the central issue and that will remain open as long as it is not recognized by Serbia and by the five outstanding EU members. And I see no sign that this is going to change.”   

EU members Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania and Greece still have not recognized Kosovo’s independence.

“Here it is a disservice to everybody in the Balkans, first of all the Kosovars, that their state is not recognized by Serbia, that they are not recognized by all members of the European Union and therefore they’re blocked in some of their relationships with the EU,” said Volker.

Experts and former diplomats warned that rethinking borders in the Balkans would pose a risk to stability in the region. 

“If the EU isn’t prepared to mediate a deal that allows Serbia to recognize Kosovo within its current frontiers, then Albanians will start thinking of unification of Albanian territories and creating an Albanian state that encompasses lands where all Albanians live,” Phillips predicted.

That concern is amplified, given the sizable Albanian minority in Macedonia, a country dealing with its own agreement about a name change with Greece. And Serbs in Bosnia already have said if Kosovo gets a U.N. seat, they will request the same.

The latest debate suggests there are no clear-cut prescriptions for a region attempting to shed the vexing legacy of the 1990s conflicts.

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First a Wedding, Then Hard Work: Putin to Visit Germany’s Merkel

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday for talks about the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that has drawn U.S. ire.

Putin arrives in Germany after a stop at an Austrian vineyard to attend Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl’s wedding to entrepreneur Wolfgang Meilinger.

Merkel warned on Friday against expecting too much from her discussions with Putin at the government’s Meseberg palace, but said the two countries needed to remain in “permanent dialogue” on the long list of problems they face.

“It’s a working meeting from which no specific results are expected,” she told reporters. The two leaders last met in Sochi in May and struggled to overcome differences.

But both Juergen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for Merkel’s conservative bloc, and Achim Post, a senior member of the Social Democrats (SPD), junior partners in the coalition government, were more upbeat.

“We can be cautiously optimistic,” Hardt told the Stuttgarter Zeitung and Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspapers in an interview published Saturday. “The Russian president has maneuvered himself into a dead end on Syria and eastern Ukraine, and needs international partners. For that he has to move.”

A senior German official told the papers: “There has been some movement,” but gave no details.

Post said in a statement that he expected both Merkel and Putin to look for pragmatic solutions based on common interests. “In a world that is increasingly uncertain, we must speak particularly with difficult partners like Russia,” he said.

Russia and the West remain at loggerheads over Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014 and the ensuing conflict between Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east and the Ukrainian army.

On Syria, Germany wants Putin to finalize a lasting cease-fire there in agreement with the United States. Merkel on Friday said a four-way meeting on Syria involving Germany, Russia, Turkey and France was possible.

Germany is also under strong pressure from the United States to halt work on the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will carry gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

The United States says it will increase Germany’s dependence on Russia for energy. Ukraine fears the pipeline will allow Russia to cut it off from the gas transit business. Germany’s eastern European neighbors, nervous of Russian encroachment, have also raised concerns about the project.

Merkel and Putin will each make statements at 1600 GMT on Saturday before the start of the talks. They do not plan to take questions.

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Miss America: Leadership Bullied, Manipulated, Silenced Me

The reigning Miss America says she has been bullied, manipulated and silenced by the pageant’s current leadership, including Gretchen Carlson.

In a letter sent Friday to former Miss Americas, Cara Mund says she decided to speak out despite the risk of punishment.

Her letter is reminiscent of the movie Mean Girls, in which characters Gretchen and Regina bully the heroine and make her life miserable. That’s what happened to her in real life, Mund wrote. Carlson is chairwoman of the Miss America Organization; Regina Hopper is its CEO.

Her letter exponentially increased the turmoil surrounding the pageant three weeks before the next Miss America is to be crowned in Atlantic City.

“Let me be blunt: I strongly believe that my voice is not heard nor wanted by our current leadership; nor do they have any interest in knowing who I am and how my experiences relate to positioning the organization for the future,” Mund wrote. “Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis. After a while, the patterns have clearly emerged, and the sheer accumulation of the disrespect, passive-aggressive behavior, belittlement, and outright exclusion has taken a serious toll.”

Mund said she’s been left out of interviews, not invited to meetings and called the wrong name. When she obliquely hinted at trouble with pageant leadership in an interview earlier this month with The Press of Atlantic City, Mund said she was swiftly punished by having her televised farewell speech cut to 30 seconds, and was told a dress she had been approved to wear in the traditional “show us your shoes” parade cannot be worn.

This year’s competition will not include swimsuits, and pageant officials from at least 19 states have called for the current leadership to resign.

There was no immediate response from The Miss America Organization or from Carlson and Hopper, who were singled out in Mund’s letter.

Mund said she was given three talking points to be made in every appearance: “Miss America is relevant. The #MeToo movement started with a Miss America, Gretchen Carlson. Gretchen Carlson went to Stanford.” (Mund said she was allowed to mention that she went to Brown to show that both women were highly educated.)

“Right away, the new leadership delivered an important message: There will be only one Miss America at a time, and she isn’t me,” Mund wrote.

Mund, who was Miss North Dakota and won the crown on a platform of increasing the number of women elected to political office, said she was treated better by the previous Miss America leadership that was forced from power after sending emails ridiculing the appearance, intellect and sex lives of former Miss Americas.

She cites examples of mistreatment including being excluded from the nationally televised announcement that swimsuits were being eliminated — even though she was with Carlson at the TV studio where it was made. She says pageant handlers ridiculed her clothing choices and chided her for wearing the same outfits too often. When she reached out to former Miss Americas to see if they had been treated similarly, “I was reprimanded by Regina who told me that problems and concerns had to be kept ‘in the family.'”

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Stormy Daniels Drops Out of UK Reality Show at Last Minute

Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress and nemesis of U.S. President Donald Trump, has pulled out of a British reality-TV show at the last minute after a dispute with producers. 

Daniels was due to take part in “Celebrity Big Brother,” which locks contestants in a house under constant surveillance. But she failed to join housemates including actress Kirstie Alley and psychic Sally Morgan for Thursday’s first episode.

Lawyer Michael Avenatti said Friday that Daniels argued with producers who attempted to “control her and produce a certain result.”

Broadcaster Channel 5 said Daniels told producers hours before airtime that she no longer wanted to participate.

Daniels alleges she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, and was later paid $130,000 to stay silent about it. The president denies the encounter.

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Держстат: за півроку населення України скоротилося на 122,5 тисячі осіб

Чисельність населення України за півроку зменшилася на 122,5 тисяч осіб, повідомляє Державна служба статистики України.

Як зазначається, станом на 1 липня 2018 року чисельність населення в Україні становила майже 42,3 мільйона осіб.

«Упродовж січня-червня 2018 року чисельність населення зменшилася на 122,5 тис. осіб. Залишається суттєвим перевищення кількості померлих над кількістю народжених: на 100 померлих – 55 народжених», – наголошують у Держстаті.

Зазначається, що дані щодо розрахунку чисельності населення охоплюють усі регіони України, крім тимчасово окупованої території Криму.

За даними Держстату, упродовж 2017 року чисельність населення України зменшилася на понад 198 тисяч людей. 

Всеукраїнський перепис населення проводився в грудні 2001 року, тоді чисельність населення становила 48 415,5 тисяч осіб.

Читайте також: «Нас 35 мільйонів»? Скільки залишилося українців

Наступний перепис населення уряд запланував на 2020 рік. У грудні 2019 року в Оболонському районі Києва і в Бородянському районі Київської області проведуть пробний перепис населення.

За прогнозом ООН, до 2100 року чисельність населення України може скоротитися на 36%.

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На студії в Кузьми я записав два проекти – лідер гурту «Плач Єремії»

Напередодні річниці з дня народження Андрія Кузьменка лідер гурту «Плач Єремії» Тарас Чубай поділився спогадами про нього. Він розповів Радіо Свобода про свою співпрацю з Кузьмою.

«Я писав у Кузьми в студії ці два проекти – «Наше Різдво» і «Наші партизани». І Кузьма, Шура і Гєра, які були в складі Скрябіна, були такими копродюсерами. Хлопці дуже допомогли у виході цих альбомів і це був такий гарний процес», – згадує Чубай.

Згодом, додає він, зустрічі з другом стали рідшими.

«Коли Кузьма потрапив у ці всі ситуації – «Інтер» і так далі, то його вже засмоктало в шоу-бізнес, і ми вже почали бачитися рідше».

Читайте також: «Вакарчук: «Океан Ельзи» виріс на музиці Кузьми»

Тим не менш загибель Скрябіна Чубай розцінює як особисту втрату.

«Це була гарна, симпатична людина зі своїми мінусами і плюсами, і мені було прикро і боляче, бо це втрата друга. Зараз насправді важко переключитися, бо це боляче і неприємно. Це було дуже несподівано, бо це була життєрадісна людина, людина, яка створювала життєрадісний настрій всім, хто був в приміщенні, де він з’являвся», – каже музикант.

Втім, Чубай вважає музичну спадщину Кузьми певною мірою його продовженням.

«Ну, немає людини. Залишися пісні. Кращі, гірші. У певному сенсі він залишився тут з нами. Його слухають. І він буде».

Андрій Кузьменко був музикантом, ведучим, продюсером, автором прози та лідером гурту «Скрябін». 2 лютого 2015 року він загинув у дорожньо-транспортній аварії на трасі Кривий Ріг – Кіровоград.

«Спільне інтерв’ю» з Тарасом Чубаєм читайте та дивіться на сайті Радіо Свобода 17 серпня.

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Ветерани бойових дій і волонтери закликають владу встановити 29 серпня Днем вшанування загиблих оборонців

17 серпня волонтери та ветерани бойових дій на сході України звернулись до української влади із закликом визнати дату 29 серпня Днем пам’яті загиблих оборонців України. Про це сьогодні на брифінгу у Київській міській держадміністрації повідомили представники місцевої влади і волонтерських організацій.

На брифінгу у КМДА представники волонтерських і ветеранських організацій оприлюднили пропозиції щодо вшанування загиблих 29 серпня. Серед іншого, заплановано встановити біля «Стіни пам’яті» електронний термінал і подовжити «Стіну», розмістивши 4 нові секції, з портретами і короткими біографіями загиблих за Україну в період 2016-го – початку 2019 року.

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З ініціативи предстоятеля Української православної церкви Київського патріархату патріарха Філарета та капеланів відбудеться міжконфесійний молебень на вшанування загиблих оборонців.

За словами волонтера, співробітника Національного військово-історичного музею України Романа Федчука, дотепер Київська влада не надала статусу «Стіні пам’яті» і території поруч з нею, що ускладнює роботу волонтерів по її впорядкуванню.

Як повідомив Радіо Свобода волонтер, координатор народного проекту «Стіна пам’яті» Павло Нетьосов, дату 29 серпня обрано не випадково: цього дня під Іловайськом гібридні російські війська розстріляли десятки українських військових.

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«Народ уже встановив 29 серпня Днем пам’яті, починаючи з 2015 року до «Стіни пам’яті» у Києві з’їжджаються люди з усієї України, щоб вшанувати пам’ять наших загиблих оборонців. Тепер справа за політиками – закріпити цей день офіційно», – зазначив Нетьосов.

У липні цього року волонтери та ветерани бойових дій на сході України розпочали кампанію на підтримку «Стіни пам’яті», до якої долучились відомі українські митці, військовослужбовці, бійці добровольчих батальйонів, родини загиблих воїнів, капелани.

Станом на початок 2018 року, кількість загиблих за оборону України перевищила 3.500 осіб.

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Вакарчук: «Океан Ельзи» виріс на музиці Кузьми

До 50-річчя з дня народження музиканта Андрія «Кузьми» Кузьменка співак та лідер гурту «Океан Ельзи» Святослав Вакарчук поділився спогадами про нього.

В фільмі Радіо Свобода «Кузьма. Несказане» він сказав, що ранні твори Скрябіна стали для нього провідником до нових музичних форматів.

«Вони виросли на нью-вейві. Це музика початку 1980-х, англійська музика, якої я взагалі не знав. Мабуть, «Скрябін» була перша нью-вейв група в моєму житті, яку я слухав, бо вона була українською мовою», – згадує музикант.

Термін «нью вейв» (з англійської – «нова хвиля») зародився в США в 1980-ті роки і охоплював низку стилів у рок-музиці. Він також асоціювався з панк-музикою. Пізніше так стали називати рок, ближчий до поп-музики.

Вакарчук визнає, що гурт «Скрябін», очолюваний Кузьмою, мав значний вплив і на українську естраду загалом, і на нього самого.

«Разом з його (Кузьми – ред.) колегами, які зробили гурт «Скрябін», були одним з перших прикладів якісної української музики і перевернули весь шоу-бізнес. В тому числі «Океан Ельзи» в буквальному сенсі на цьому виріс. Він створив величезний вплив на всю українську культуру», – розповів Вакарчук.

Андрій Кузьменко був музикантом, ведучим, продюсером, автором

прози та лідером гурту «Скрябін». 2 лютого 2015 року він загинув у

дорожньо-транспортній аварії на трасі Кривий Ріг – Кіровоград.

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US to Impose More Sanctions on Turkey Over Detained Pastor

The United States says Turkey faces more U.S. sanctions if it refuses to release an American pastor held on allegations of helping the organizers of the failed 2016 coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The United States says Ankara has no evidence for the allegations and has held the pastor for too long. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the United States is ready to hit Ankara with more sanctions if it does not release the American soon. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

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