Officials scrap plan to name Hawaiian beach after Obama

Updated 08 October 2014
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Officials scrap plan to name Hawaiian beach after Obama

OAHU, Hawaii: A Honolulu City Council proposal to name a popular Oahu beach after the first Hawaii-born US president, Barack Obama, has been withdrawn after the plan met with little enthusiasm from the public, its sponsors said.
Council Chair Ernest Martin and co-sponsor Stanley Chang introduced a resolution last week to honor the commander-in-chief by renaming Sandy Beach Park as President Barack Obama Sandy Beach Park.
Located near Hanauma Bay on the east end of Oahu, the beach is known for a large shore break that makes it a favorite among body surfers, including, sponsors say, the president.
Obama is known to have body surfed at Sandy Beach while he was growing up, and has ridden the waves there while on vacation since being elected to the White House.
But according to a statement Martin issued on Tuesday, “public reaction to the proposal has been mixed.”
“Most of the comments have raised the issue of historical and cultural sensitivity, and a number of alternatives have been suggested by the public,” the statement said, adding that the two sponsors have agreed to remove the resolution from the council’s agenda.
Reaction among beachgoers seemed sharply divided.
“Maybe he did grow up here, but as a local, I’ve been surfing here for 10 years easy, and I don’t think it’s fair,” Kanaloa Kane, a resident of the nearby community of Waimanalo, told local TV station KHON2.
But another frequent Sandy Beach visitor, Beth Amann, was quoted as saying that naming the park for Obama would “keep things more picked up” and bring “better maintenance.”
Martin suggested that given Obama’s strong support of Honolulu’s rail transit project, a better idea might be to name one of the stations after him.
“I’m confident that as this process moves along, the entire community will weigh in with other ideas for Honolulu to properly honor its hometown president,” he wrote.
The City Council, whose jurisdiction covers the entire island of Oahu, has previously approved funding for a plaque to be placed at or near Sandy Beach commemorating Obama’s fondness for bodysurfing there, said Mark Segami, a spokesman for Martin.


Father of boy saved in Paris ‘Spiderman’ drama in court

This file photo taken on June 18, 2018 shows Malian immigrant in France turned hero, Mamoudou Gassama addressing the media within a meeting with Mali's president in Bamako. (AFP)
Updated 47 min 30 sec ago
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Father of boy saved in Paris ‘Spiderman’ drama in court

  • The man’s lawyer Romain Ruiz said prosecutors had taken “particularly reductive” elements of the story out of context, but added that the 37-year-old father admitted he had “done something really stupid”

PARIS: When a Malian illegal immigrant rescued a child dangling from a Paris balcony, he was hailed worldwide as a hero — but the little boy’s father will appear in court Tuesday charged with negligence. Mamoudou Gassama, the migrant nicknamed “Spiderman” after footage of his daring rescue went viral in May, has since been rewarded with French citizenship and a job in the fire service. But the four-year-old’s father, who has not been named, faces a potential criminal conviction for leaving the child unattended in their 6th-floor apartment, popping out to buy groceries. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said at the time of the incident that the father also delayed his return because he wanted to play the popular Pokemon Go game on his phone. The man’s lawyer Romain Ruiz said prosecutors had taken “particularly reductive” elements of the story out of context, but added that the 37-year-old father admitted he had “done something really stupid.” “He is leaving his fate up to the court,” Ruiz said.
He added that the father had left home “for between 30 minutes and an hour” and had taken “precautions” to keep the child safe in his absence. The little boy clambered onto the balcony and appears to have fallen, before miraculously managing to grab the rail of a balcony lower down. Footage of the incident, filmed by a bystander below, shows him hanging over the edge, a neighbor on the adjoining balcony desperately trying to hold onto him. Gassama, 22, then scales the building Spiderman-style and pulls him to safety.
In theory, parental negligence carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison under France’s penal code, and a fine of up to 30,000 euros ($35,300).
But such a sentence is thought unlikely in the case of this father, who has been allowed to keep custody of his son. The boy’s mother was away at the time of the May 26 incident on a trip to France’s Reunion island in the Indian Ocean. Both parents were said at the time to be extremely shaken by the incident but hugely grateful to Gassama.