Obama awards arts medals

Updated 12 July 2013
0

Obama awards arts medals

WASHINGTON: Citing the power of artists and academics to open minds, President Barack Obama on Wednesday awarded 24 medals to people including “Star Wars” creator George Lucas and writer Joan Didion who he said touched his life and the lives of Americans.
“They challenge us to think and to question and to discover, to seek that inward significance,” Obama said, awarding the winners of the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
This year’s winners included filmmaker George Lucas, creator of “Star Wars,” whom Obama applauded for transforming movies.
“I remember when I first saw ‘Star Wars,’” Obama said. “There’s a whole generation that thinks special effects always look like they do today. But it used to be you’d see, like, the string on the little model spaceships.
Obama, known for his love of basketball and football, seemed particularly tickled to award a medal to Frank Deford, the legendary sportswriter who has spent 50 years at Sports Illustrated magazine.
“Frank, I grew up reading Sports Illustrated, and I think it was very good for me,” Obama said, to laughter.
He praised the winners for working hard and following their dreams against the odds.
One of the most poignant moments of the ceremony came when Obama strode to the edge of the stage to meet author Joan Didion, 78, frail and elegant, carefully lifting the thick red ribbon holding the palm-sized humanities medal over her
neck.
“Today, decades into her career, she remains one of our sharpest and most respected observers of American politics and culture,” Obama said, describing how Didion taught herself to read as her family moved frequently around the country with her father, who was an Army officer.
He cited the courage shown by Ernest Gaines, the descendent of Louisiana sharecroppers, who writes about the lives of African Americans, and blues and jazz musician Allen Toussaint, who helped revive his native New Orleans with music after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Other medal winners included Herb Alpert, who made Latin music popular in the 1960s and co-founded of A&M Records, soprano Renee Fleming, playwright Tony Kushner and comedian Elaine May.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


‘Kim Jong Un’ poses for selfies in Singapore ahead of Trump summit

Updated 28 May 2018
0

‘Kim Jong Un’ poses for selfies in Singapore ahead of Trump summit

SINGAPORE: Surprised Singaporeans pursued North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday before realizing the portly man with slick black hair near the Marina Bay Sands hotel was an impersonator.
“It looked like the real Kim Jong Un, but later I realized it’s not the real one,” said Sagar Admuthe who was visiting from Mumbai, India, after several selfies with the doppleganger against a backdrop of the city’s bay.
“When you see him, it’s very difficult to make out.”
The Australian-Chinese man posing as the North Korean leader calls himself only Howard X and said he was appearing to wish success for a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump to negotiate an end to the North’s nuclear program.
Howard X also made an appearance as Kim at the Winter Olympics in Gangneung in South Korea in February, bewildering North Korean cheerleaders who initially thought their leader had walked into a hockey stadium.
“I think the two leaders will sit down and they’re going to have a great time, because really they have the same personality,” he said on Sunday. “They are going to be best friends right after this meeting.”|
Trump signalled that preparations for a June 12 summit with Kim were going ahead, despite having called it off last week, and a White House team was scheduled to depart for Singapore this weekend to prepare for the possible summit.
Howard X said Kim’s rise as the third leader of North Korea in 2011 has proved lucrative for him, jump starting a new career in films, commercials and private functions, most often in his home town of Hong Kong.
“I said that guy looks a lot like me, and I thought, wow, I need to do something with this and make some money,” Howard X added.
“This is my normal body,” he said, when asked if he had to put on weight to impersonate the North’s leader. “But he’s fatter, and I can’t catch up ... it’ll damage my health.”
Howard X, who is a musician by training and said he still produces Brazilian music sung in Chinese, said his partner known as Dennis Alan impersonates Trump. Although he could not join him this week, both will return before the summit.
“Hey Donald, I’m already in Singapore, waiting for you to turn up,” Howard X said.