Everything you missed from the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games took place on the evening of Friday 5 August 2016 in the Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, starting at 20:00 BRT (23:00 UTC). As mandated by the Olympic Charter, the proceedings combine the formal ceremonial opening of this international sporting event (including welcoming speeches, hoisting of the flags and the parade of athletes) with an artistic spectacle to showcase the host nation’s culture. There were around 78,000 spectators at the Maracana.

Preparations 

The creative directors for the ceremony were Fernando Meirelles, Daniela Thomas and Andrucha Waddington. Deborah Colker, Brazil’s most celebrated choreographer, prepared a cast of over 6000 volunteers who danced in the opening ceremony. Rehearsals started at the end of May 2016. Meirelles stated that the ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics would have a significantly lower budget than those of other recent Olympics, totalling only 10% of the total budget for the ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Explaining his rationale, he explained that he would be “ashamed to waste what London spent in a country where we need sanitation; where education needs money. So I’m very glad we’re not spending money like crazy. I’m happy to work with this low budget because it makes sense for Brazil.” Meirelles outlined that because of the lower budget, the ceremony would eschew “high-tech” ideas such as moving stages and drones; fellow ceremonies director Leonardo Caetano went on to say that the concept of the ceremony would emphasize “originality” over “luxury”, and “compensate with creativity, rhythm and emotion”.

 Venue

For the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, a major reconstruction project was initiated for the Maracanã Stadium. The original seating bowl, with a two-tier configuration, was demolished, giving way to a new one-tier seating bowl. The original stadium’s roof in concrete was removed and replaced with a fiberglass tensioned membrane coated with Polytetrafluoroethylene. The new roof covers 95% of the seats inside the stadium, unlike the former design, where protection was only afforded to some seats in the upper ring and those above the gate access of each sector.

Ceremony

Fernando Meirelles said in September 2015 that the ceremony would be a vision of the country “and what I hope it will become”. Meirelles said he would try to steer away from cliches, but not all of them; for example, the carnival has been confirmed to be a part of the ceremony. Retiring Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen walked through the stadium as “The Girl from Ipanema” was performed by Daniel Jobim. Lea T participated in the opening ceremony of 2016 Summer Olympics, thus becoming the first transgender woman to participate in the Olympic Games.

End of torch relay

Ending the Olympic torch relay at the end of the Opening Ceremony, Gustavo Kuerten brought the Olympic torch into the stadium, relayed the Olympic flame to Hortencia Marcari, who relayed to Vanderlei de Lima, who then lit the Olympic cauldron.

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Ronald Reagan is shot and wounded in 1981

The attempted assassination of United States President Ronald Reagan occurred on Monday, March 30, 1981, 69 days into his presidency. While leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by John Hinckley Jr. Hinckley’s motivation for the attack was to impress actress Jodie Foster, over whom he had developed an obsession after seeing her in the film Taxi Driver. There were no fatalities in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Reagan was shot in the chest, just below the left underarm. He suffered a punctured lung and heavy internal bleeding, but prompt medical attention allowed him to recover quickly. No formal invocation of presidential succession took place, although Secretary of State Alexander Haig controversially stated that he was “in control here” while Vice President George H. W. Bush returned to Washington.
The most seriously wounded victim was White House Press Secretary James Brady, who was left paralyzed from a gunshot wound to the head. He would later die in 2014 of causes a Virginia medical examiner found were directly related to the 1981 shooting. Hinckley also wounded Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy and Washington D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of attempting to assassinate the President and remained confined to a psychiatric facility. On July 27, 2016 it was announced he would be released not before August 5, 2016, on convalescent leave to reside in Williamsburg, Virginia. In January 2015, federal prosecutors announced that they would not charge Hinckley with Brady’s death, despite the medical examiner’s classification of his death as a homicide.

 

Hinckley’s motivation 

Hinckley’s motivation for the attack was born of his obsession with actress Jodie Foster because of erotomania. While living in Hollywood in the late 1970s, he saw the film Taxi Driver at least 15 times, apparently identifying strongly with Travis Bickle, the lead character portrayed by Robert De Niro. The arc of the story involves Bickle’s attempts to protect a 12-year-old child prostitute, played by Foster. Towards the middle of the film, Bickle attempts to assassinate a United States Senator who is running for president. Over the following years, Hinckley trailed Foster around the country, going so far as to enroll in a writing course at Yale University in 1980 after reading in People magazine that she was a student there. He wrote numerous letters and notes to her in late 1980. He called her twice and refused to give up when she indicated that she was not interested in him.

 Assassination attempt 

On March 21, 1981, Ronald Reagan, the new President of the United States, visited Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. with his wife Nancy for a fundraising event. He recalled, “I looked up at the presidential box above the stage where Abe Lincoln had been sitting the night he was shot and felt a curious sensation … I thought that even with all the Secret Service protection we now had, it was probably still possible for someone who had enough determination to get close enough to the president to shoot him.”

 Shooting 

At 2:27 p.m., :82 as Reagan exited the hotel through “President’s Walk” and its T Street NW exit toward his waiting limousine, Hinckley waited within the crowd of admirers. While the Secret Service extensively screened those attending the president’s speech, in a “colossal mistake” the agency allowed an unscreened group to stand within 15 ft (4.6 m) of him, behind a rope line. :80–81,225 Unexpectedly, Reagan passed right in front of Hinckley. Believing he would never get a better chance, :81 Hinckley fired a Röhm RG-14 .22LR blue steel revolver six times in 1.7 seconds, :82  missing the president with all but one shot. The first bullet hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head. The second bullet hit District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty in the back of his neck as he turned to protect Reagan.  Hinckley now had a clear shot at the president, :81 but the third bullet overshot him and hit the window of a building across the street. As Special Agent In Charge Jerry Parr quickly pushed Reagan into the limousine, the fourth bullet hit Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen as he spread his body over Reagan to make himself a target. :81 The fifth bullet hit the bullet-resistant glass of the window on the open side door of the limousine. The sixth and final bullet ricocheted off the armored side of the limousine and hit the president in his left underarm, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung causing it to partially collapse, and stopping nearly 1 inch (25mm) from his heart. Parr’s prompt reaction had saved Reagan from being hit in the head.

 

 

 

 

World’s highest and longest glass bridge in China

People walk on a sightseeing platform in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China Zhangjiajie, a scenic national park in the country’s Hunan province, is set to open the world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge in July. Spanning two cliffs in the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon area, it will stretch 430 meters (1,410 feet) long and 6 meters (20 feet) wide, hovering over a 300-meter (984-foot) vertical drop. In comparison, the Grand Canyon Skywalk in the United States is 21 meters (69 feet) in length and stands 219 meters (718 feet) above the canyon floor. Canada’s Glacier Skywalk in Alberta, which opened last year, extends 35 meters (115 feet) from the cliff and is a little bit shy of 300 meters in height.Dotan says the bridge will serve as a runway for fashion shows and be able to hold up to 800 people at once. The Grand Canyon of Zhangjiajie skywalk will also offer the world’s highest bungee jump, stealing the title from Macau Tower’s 233-meter (764-foot)-high attraction. Zhangjiajie is a 56 square-kilometer designated tourist park inside the bigger Wulingyuan Scenic Area. It’s been open to the public since 2009 and is said to have been the inspiration behind the beautiful planet of Pandora in James Cameron’s 2009 “Avatar” film.

 

Syrian rebels advance in push to break Aleppo siege

Thousands of Syrian rebel fighters have joined forces to push back the army, in “the great battle for Aleppo” that they hope will end the siege. Some 10,000 fighters have launched an assault against government troops south of the city, in a last-ditch effort to open routes out of opposition-held areas which have been closed for weeks. Al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate and the powerful Islamist Ahrar al-Sham were on Wednesday trying to take Ramussa, a district in Aleppo’s southwest suburbs which houses a government artillery base.
More moderate opposition groups under the Free Syrian Army banner have launched their own offensives inside the city, but have so far refused to fight alongside the jihadists on the outskirts. In the last few days the Islamist rebels had made gains, but the Syrian army, backed by allied Russian warplanes, on Wednesday launched a fierce fightback. More than 50 rebel fighters and “dozens” of regime forces have been killed since the offensive began on Sunday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.
Some 300,000 residents of the opposition-held east of the city have been trapped since government forces blockaded the final road out last month. Petrol has run out and food is scarce. Aid agencies warn there is just two weeks’ worth of supplies and have called for aid to be let in. Russia last week announced the opening of humanitarian corridors for civilians and unarmed rebels. However, so far fewer than 200 residents of the rebel-held side have left through the supposed safe passages. With all four leading out to government-held areas, residents are worried they could be arrested or killed as they leave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan’s worst mass killing in decades

Nineteen people are killed and dozens wounded after an attack by a knife-wielding man at a facility for the disabled in central Japan.  A knife-wielding former employee has killed at least 19 people and injured 25 at a care centre for the mentally disabled in Japan, in the country’s worst mass killing in decades. The 26-year-old man, who reportedly threatened to kill hundreds of disabled people earlier this year, later turned himself in at a police station, admitting to officers: “I did it.” He reportedly also said: “The disabled should all disappear.”Authorities identified the attacker as Satoshi Uematsu and said he had worked at the facility in Sagamihara, a city of more than 700,000 people west of Tokyo, until February.
Broadcaster NTV said the man told police he had been fired and held a grudge against the care centre. The attack was “deeply distrubing” in so many levels: “The sheer scale and horrific nature of the attack, the twisted reasoning that apparently lay behind it and the fact that he set out in such a specific detail what he intended to do and was still able to do it.”
The attack began in the early hours of the morning when Uematsu allegedly broke a first-floor window to get into the building. Public broadcaster NHK reported that he tied up one caregiver before starting to stab the residents. A doctor at one of the hospitals where victims were taken said some had “deep stab” wounds to the neck. “The patients are very shocked mentally, and they cannot speak now,” the doctor told NHK. A fleet of ambulances, police cars and fire trucks converged on the Tsukui Yamayuri-en centre, a low-rise complex nestled against forested hills, which was cordoned off and draped with yellow “Keep Out” tape. The killing is believed to be the worst such incident in Japan since 1938, when a man went on a killing spree armed with an axe, sword and rifle, killing 30 people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting intensifies in Libya

The Libyan National Army has been carrying out air strikes on areas of Benghazi under the control of the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, including the city’s Ganfouda district. The strikes have endangered the lives of scores of detainees who are being held captive in Benghazi, according to Amnesty International. On the weekend, Libyan forces also said that they had edged further into the centre of Sirte, seeking to recapture the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS). Their advance came after heavy fighting the previous night, which killed dozens of people. Since last year, Sirte has become ISIL’s most important base outside Syria and Iraq, and its loss would be a major setback for the group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solar plane makes history after completing round-the-world trip

Solar Impulse 2, a solar powered plane, arrives at an airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Solar Impulse is a Swiss long-range experimental solar-powered aircraft project, and also the name of the project’s two operational aircraft. The privately financed project is led by Swiss engineer and businessman André Borschberg and Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, who co-piloted Breitling Orbiter 3, the first balloon to circle the world non-stop. The Solar Impulse project’s goals were to make the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power and to bring attention to clean technologies. Reflecting on these goals, Mike Scott wrote in Forbes magazine: “If we can fly around the world using only the power of the sun and the optimisation of energy efficiency technologies, the potential of clean technologies in other applications is immense.”
The aircraft are single-seat monoplanes powered by photovoltaic cells; they are capable of taking off under their own power. The prototype, often referred to as Solar Impulse 1, was designed to remain airborne up to 36 hours. It conducted its first test flight in December 2009. In July 2010, it flew an entire diurnal solar cycle, including nearly nine hours of night flying, in a 26-hour flight. Piccard and Borschberg completed successful solar-powered flights from Switzerland to Spain and then Morocco in 2012,  and conducted a multi-stage flight across the United States in 2013.
A second aircraft, completed in 2014 and named Solar Impulse 2, carries more solar cells and more powerful motors, among other improvements. On 9 March 2015, Piccard and Borschberg began to circumnavigate the globe with Solar Impulse 2, departing from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The aircraft was scheduled to return to Abu Dhabi in August 2015 after a multi-stage journey around the world. By June 2015, the plane had traversed Asia, and in July 2015, it completed the longest leg of its journey, from Japan to Hawaii. During that leg, however, the aircraft’s batteries sustained thermal damage that took months to repair. Solar Impulse 2 resumed the circumnavigation in April 2016, when it flew to California. It continued across the United States until it reached New York City in June 2016. Later that month, the aircraft crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Spain. It stopped in Egypt before finally returning to Abu Dhabi on 26 July 2016, completing the approximately 42,000 kilometer (26,000 mile) circumnavigation over a period of more than 16 months.

A Forgotten Crisis : Displacement in the Central African Republic…

 Ouham-Pendé, Central African Republic – As the humanitarian workers drive in to each village, people assemble around their vehicles or drag plastic chairs and benches to the shade to discuss the latest events: Which places have been attacked, burned or looted by armed groups, the number killed in this place or that, where people have fled to and how many have arrived from surrounding areas in search of safety. The emergency response team of NGO Action Against Hunger is on a mission in the Central African Republic’s northern Ouham-Pendé province – near the border with Cameroon – to reach out to those who have fled from a sectarian conflict that has left nearly one million people displaced, according to the UN. More than half have left the country, while the rest are living in camps inside Central African Republic (CAR) or sheltering with relatives and host families.
Rooted in longstanding resentment, the conflict erupted in 2013 when the mainly Muslim Seleka group seized power and the mainly Christian anti-balaka group formed in response. Atrocities were committed by both sides, leaving more than 6,000 dead and forcing an exodus of Muslims. Already chronically poor and unstable, CAR’s largely forgotten conflict has worsened a dire situation, disrupting food production and basic services and leaving swaths of territory under the control of armed groups and warlords. Today the UN says 2.3 million people are in need of aid, and half the population are without enough food.
There were tentative hopes of peace after a new president was elected in February, but a recent upsurge in violence – primarily in the north – has caused a new wave of displacement, says the UN’s refugee agency, with its human rights chief warning that he fears a “re-escalation”. CAR remains a country on edge, where rumours of impending attacks fly freely amid the terrifying truths, and the resulting tension is palpable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could North Korea missile strike the United States?

North Korea is believed to have more than 1,000 missiles of varying capabilities, including long-range missiles which could one day strike the US. Pyongyang’s programme has progressed over the last few decades from tactical artillery rockets in the 1960s and 70s to short­-range and medium-range ballistic missiles in the 1980s and 90s. Systems capable of greater ranges are understood to be under research and development. The country’s missile programme has mainly been developed from the Scud, itself a development from the German V2 rockets of World War II.
It first obtained tactical missiles from the Soviet Union as early as 1969, but its first Scuds reportedly came via Egypt in 1976. Egypt is believed to have supplied North Korea with missiles and designs in return for its support against Israel in the Yom Kippur War. By 1984, North Korea was building its own Scuds, the Hwasong-5. The larger, longer range Hwasong-6 followed, and eventually the Nodong – essentially a 50% larger Hwasong-6. Following these came the multiple-stage Taepodong missiles, which can potentially be configured as satellite launchers or missiles.
In 2006, it test-fired a Taepodong-2 missile, which experts say could have a range of many thousands of miles, and rockets with related technology in 2009 and 2012. All three launches ended in failure. However, North Korea made another, apparently successful, launch of a three-stage rocket on 12 December 2012. It was condemned by many in the international community as cover for a missile test. In June 2014, a North Korean propaganda film briefly showed what some experts said might be a newly developed cruise missile, believed to be similar to the Russian KH-35 anti-ship missile. It is unclear whether North Korea previously owned any cruise missiles.