Category Archives: World

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Blinken returns to China amid ongoing tensions, with no breakthrough expected

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to China this week for talks with senior officials in Shanghai and Beijing to discuss a range of issues, including Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Middle East crisis, the South China Sea, and human rights. State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching has more.

Columbia’s ongoing protests cause canceled classes and increased tensions

NEW YORK — Columbia University held virtual classes Monday on the sixth continuous day of student protests over the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

University president Nemat “Minouche” Shafik sent an email to the Columbia community announcing that classes would be held virtually. 

“The decibel of our disagreements has only increased in recent days,” Shafik wrote. “These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas. We need a reset.”

More than 100 students were arrested at the school April 18, after the university’s president authorized police to clear away protesters. Some of the students also received suspension notices from the school. 

Columbia’s action prompted an onslaught of pro-Palestinian demonstrations at other universities and responses from faculty and politicians.

The arrests occurred after students calling themselves Columbia University Apartheid Divest erected dozens of tents on a lawn at the center of the campus, establishing it as the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.”

Following the arrests and the demolition of the original encampment, another pro-Palestine encampment sprung on an adjacent lawn.

Students aren’t the only demonstrators experiencing tensions on campus and with the university administration.

Monday morning, Business School assistant professor Shai Davidai was denied entry to the university for an attempted pro-Israel counter-protest on the occupied lawn after he refused to comply with the university’s counter-protest policies. 

“I am a professor here; I have every right to be everywhere on campus. You cannot let people who support Hamas on campus, and me, a professor, not on campus. Let me in now,” he said after Columbia COO Cass Halloway stopped him and other pro-Israel protesters at the entrance gates.

He has repeatedly called student protesters “violent maniacs” and “pro-Hamas terrorists.” A petition calling for Davidai’s dismissal has amassed nearly 9,000 signatures as of last Thursday night; additional grievances have been shared on social media and with the university.

Some Jewish students at Columbia say that many criticisms of Israel are antisemitic and make them feel unsafe.

Since the arrests, many student groups and Columbia affiliate groups have released statements condemning the university’s decision to arrest students, citing discriminatory enforcement of rules that limit students’ freedom of speech. 

Monday, hundreds of faculty members from across Columbia and Barnard staged a rally and walkout to urge the university to reverse the students’ suspensions. Some faculty members wore their graduation regalia and sashes reading “We support students.”

The backlash from the protests has even reached the ear of U.S. President Joe Biden. When asked about the recent events at the university by reporters Monday, Biden said, “I condemn the antisemitic protests. That’s why I have set up a program to deal with that. I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.”

Other campuses, such as Yale, Stanford, and New York University have also rallied around the Palestinian cause, calling for their universities to divest from companies with ties to Israel and for a ceasefire in Gaza. Many have put up tent encampments on their campuses. About 50 students were arrested at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, Monday after they refused to leave their encampment.

Student protesters at Columbia have urged organizers of rallies outside the campus to “remember what we are protesting for” and focus on the war in Gaza, rather than just expressing solidarity with protesters. 

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and the Associated Press.


Turkey hosted Hamas leader amid growing criticism over inaction in Gaza

Istanbul/Washington — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh and his delegation last weekend in Istanbul amid growing criticism in Turkey of his government’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war.

There was no news conference after the meeting.  Erdogan’s office released a statement on the topics discussed with Haniyeh, who lives in exile in Qatar.

According to the statement, Erdogan and the Hamas leader talked about “Israel’s attacks on Palestinian territory, especially Gaza, what needs to be done to ensure adequate and uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, and a fair and lasting peace process in the region.”

Erdogan also emphasized the importance of Palestinians acting in unity, which he called “the most robust response to Israel and the way to victory go through unity and integrity.”

In another statement, Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) revealed that a Hamas delegation, including key members of the militant group, was present in the meeting.

Haniyeh’s visit came at a time when Erdogan’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war and his support for the Palestinian people were questioned by the Islamist New Welfare Party, which came in third nationally in the local elections last month.

On April 9, Turkey’s Trade Ministry announced export restrictions of several product groups to Israel as a response growing calls in Turkey for a boycott.

Some analysts think that Erdogan’s meeting with Haniyeh is to consolidate his base.

“AKP and Erdogan have been very worn out recently regarding the Palestine issue after it was revealed that there was trade with Israel,” Erhan Kelesoglu, an Istanbul-based Middle East expert, told VOA.

“Meeting with Hamas leaders actually provides President [Erdogan] with the opportunity to refresh his image before the public. It shows that he is behind the Palestinian cause and Hamas,” Kelesoglu added.

On April 17, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan went to Doha, Qatar, where he met Haniyeh.

Later in a joint news conference with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Fidan said that Hamas has accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders.

“They have told me that following the establishment of the Palestinian state, Hamas would no longer need an armed wing and they would continue as a political party,” Fidan said.

Some experts view Ankara’s recent involvement with Hamas as its intent to play a mediator role.

“Turkey intends to reassert its influence in the region by playing a mediator role, particularly as Qatar’s mediating capacity reaches its limits, and Turkey has recently emerged as one of the intermediary countries in relations with Iran,” Evren Balta, a non-resident scholar at Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington, wrote in an analysis for MEI’s blog. 

“However, it is unlikely that either Israel or the United States will agree to the role that Turkey wishes to play or see the dissolution of the military wing of Hamas as a sufficient move to engage with the organization,” Balta added.  

Israel’s reaction

Following the meeting on April 20, Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz shared a photo of Erdogan shaking hands with Haniyeh on his X account.

“Erdogan, shame on you,” Katz wrote in a post in Turkish. He also listed his allegations of “rape, murder, and the desecration of corpses” committed by “the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Hamas shares the Islamist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Erdogan’s AKP also backed in the past.

Oncu Keceli, Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, reacted to Katz’s statement on X, saying, “It is the Israeli authorities who should be ashamed. They have massacred nearly 35,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children.”

“Türkiye’s priority is to bring the massacre in Gaza to an end, and the establishment of a Palestinian state to ensure lasting peace in our region,” Keceli added.

More than 34,000 people have been killed, Palestinian health authorities say, since the beginning of the war in Gaza last October.

Comparison with Turkish militia

On April 17, in his ruling AKP’s parliamentary group meeting, Erdogan accused critics of his handling of the Israel-Gaza war of slandering him, his party, his government, and the Turkish Republic.

“Some of our steps may not be visible. We may not be able to explain some of what we do. However, those who question our sensitivity on Palestine will sooner or later be embarrassed and disgraced,” Erdogan said.

“I say it very clearly and openly: Hamas is the same as Kuva-yi Milliye in Turkey during the war of independence,” Erdogan added.

He also called Hamas “a group of mujahideen waging a battle to protect its lands and people” in the past after the Oct. 7 attack. Mujahideen is an Arabic word meaning those who fight for Islam.

The U.S., the U.K. and European Union have listed Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Kuva-yi Milliye, founded in 1918, is the name of the Turkish militia forces that fought in the early period of Turkey’s War of Independence and was later organized under the command of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

Erdogan’s statement stirred a debate in Turkey as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) rejected such a similarity between Turkish national forces and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“Identifying Hamas with Kuva-yi Milliye means ‘the Palestinian cause started with Hamas.’ However, everyone knows very well that the [Palestinian] struggle is a struggle that has lasted for decades. And it certainly did not start with Hamas,” Oguz Kaan Salici, CHP’s Istanbul deputy and a Turkish Parliament’s Commission of Foreign Affairs member, told VOA.

CHP calls for a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.

White House weighs immigration relief for spouses of US citizens

washington — The White House is weighing ways to provide temporary legal status and work permits to immigrants in the U.S. illegally who are married to American citizens, three sources familiar with the matter said on Monday, a move that could energize some Democrats ahead of the November elections.

Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups have pressured President Joe Biden to take steps to protect immigrants in the country illegally as Biden simultaneously considers executive actions to reduce illegal border crossings.

Immigration has emerged as a top voter concern, especially among Republicans ahead of the Nov. 5 election pitting Biden, a Democrat, against his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump. Trump has said Biden’s less restrictive policies have led to a rise in illegal immigration.

The White House in recent months has considered the possibility of executive actions to block migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border if crossings reach a certain threshold, sparking criticism from some Democrats and advocates.

The Biden administration also has examined the possible use of “parole in place” for spouses of U.S. citizens, the sources said, requesting anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The temporary status would provide access to work permits and potentially a path to citizenship. No actions are imminent or finalized, the sources said.

A White House spokesperson said the administration “is constantly evaluating possible policy options” but declined to confirm discussions around specific actions.

“The administration remains committed to ensuring those who are eligible for relief can receive it quickly and to building an immigration system that is fairer and more humane,” the spokesperson said.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the possible moves.

An estimated 1.1 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally are married to U.S. citizens, according to data by advocacy organization

A group of 86 Democrats sent a letter to Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last year urging them to protect spouses of U.S. citizens and create a family reunification process for those outside the country.

Speaking at an advocacy press conference in Washington on Monday, Philadelphia resident and U.S. citizen Allyson Batista said her Brazilian-born husband still lacks legal immigration status after 20 years of marriage.

Batista and her husband have three children together and run a construction company, she said, pleading with Biden to act.

“Year after year, we continue to live in trauma and fear of separation,” she said, “especially if an unfriendly administration takes over again.”

Russian media: Kremlin will deploy ballistic missiles close to Finnish border

Russian media say the country plans to deploy ballistic missiles close to its border with Finland. Analysts say it’s the latest in a series of military and hybrid threats that Russia has made against Finland since it joined NATO last year in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Henry Ridgwell reports.

Work starts on bullet train rail line from Las Vegas to Los Angeles

las vegas — A $12 billion high-speed passenger rail line between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area has started construction, officials said Monday, amid predictions that millions of ticket-buyers will be boarding trains by 2028.

“People have been dreaming of high-speed rail in America for decades,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement released to coincide with a ceremony at the future site of a terminal to be built just south of the Las Vegas Strip.

Buttigieg predicted the project will bring “thousands of union jobs, new connections to better economic opportunity, less congestion on the roads, and less pollution in the air.”

Brightline West, whose sister company already operates a fast train between Miami and Orlando in Florida, aims to lay 351 kilometers of new track between Las Vegas and another new facility in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Almost the full distance is to be built in the median of Interstate 15, with a station stop in San Bernardino County’s Victorville area.

Brightline Holdings founder and Chairperson Wes Edens dubbed the moment “the foundation for a new industry.”

“This is a historic project and a proud moment,” Edens said in the statement. “Today is long overdue.”

Brightline aims to link other U.S. cities that are too near to each other for air travel to make sense and too far for people to drive the distance.

Company CEO Mike Reininger has said the goal is to have trains operating in time for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.

Brightline received $6.5 billion in backing from the Biden administration, including a $3 billion grant from federal infrastructure funds and approval to sell another $2.5 billion in tax-exempt bonds. The company won federal authorization in 2020 to sell $1 billion in similar bonds.

The project is touted as the first true high-speed passenger rail line in the nation, designed to reach speeds of 186 mph (300 kph), comparable to Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains.

The route between Vegas and L.A. is largely open space, with no convenient alternate to I-15. Brightline’s Southern California terminal will be at a commuter rail connection to downtown Los Angeles.

The project outline says electric-powered trains will cut the four-hour trip across the Mojave Desert to a little more than two hours. Forecasts are for 11 million one-way passengers per year, or some 30,000 per day, with fares well below airline travel costs. The trains will offer restrooms, Wi-Fi, food and beverage sales and the option to check luggage.

Las Vegas is a popular driving destination for Southern Californians. Officials hope the train line will relieve congestion on I-15, where drivers often sit in miles of crawling traffic while returning home from a Las Vegas weekend.

The Las Vegas area, now approaching 3 million residents, draws more than 40 million visitors per year. Passenger traffic at the city’s Harry Reid International Airport set a record of 57.6 million people in 2023. An average of more than 44,000 automobiles per day crossed the California-Nevada state line on I-15 in 2023, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority data.

Florida-based Brightline Holdings launched the Miami-to-Orlando line in 2018 with trains reaching speeds up to 125 mph (200 kph). It expanded service to Orlando International Airport last September. It offers 16 roundtrips per day, with one-way tickets for the 235-mile (378-kilometer) distance costing about $80.

Other fast trains in the U.S. include Amtrak’s Acela, which can top 241 kph while sharing tracks with freight and commuter service between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Passenger trains to Las Vegas ended in 1997, when Amtrak ended service.

Ideas for connecting other U.S. cities with high-speed passenger trains have been floated in recent years, including Dallas to Houston; Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina; and Chicago to St. Louis. Most have faced delays.

In California, voters in 2008 approved a proposed 805-kilometer rail line linking Los Angeles and San Francisco, but the plan has been beset by rising costs and routing disputes. A 2022 business plan by the California High-Speed Rail Authority projected the cost had more than tripled to $105 billion.

UK police charge two men with spying for China

LONDON — British police on Monday charged two men with spying for China, including one reported to have worked as a researcher in Britain’s parliament for a prominent lawmaker in the governing Conservative Party.  

Anxiety has mounted across Europe about China’s alleged espionage activity and Britain has become increasingly vocal about its concerns in recent months.  

The two men, aged 32 and 29, were charged with providing prejudicial information to China in breach of the Official Secrets Act, and will appear in court Friday. 

“This has been an extremely complex investigation into what are very serious allegations,” said Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Counter Terrorism Command at the Metropolitan Police. 

The Chinese embassy in London said the allegation that China was trying to steal British intelligence was “completely fabricated.” 

“We firmly oppose it and urge the UK side to stop anti-China political manipulation and stop putting on such self-staged political farce,” an embassy spokesperson said in a statement. 

One of the men was named by police on Monday as Christopher Cash.  

In September, the Sunday Times reported that Cash had been arrested for spying while working as a researcher in parliament for Conservative lawmaker Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. 

A Christopher Cash was listed on parliamentary documents from early 2023 as working for Kearns.  

In September, a lawyer for the arrested man issued a statement denying the accusations of spying without confirming the identity of their client. The same legal firm did not provide a statement on Monday when contacted by Reuters.  

Cash does not have publicly available contact details and could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Last month, the British government summoned the chargé d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in London after accusing Chinese state-backed hackers of stealing data from Britain’s elections watchdog and carrying out a surveillance operation against parliamentarians. 

China denied those allegations, calling them “completely fabricated.” 

The government also said in September Chinese spies were targeting British officials in sensitive positions in politics, defense and business as part of an increasingly sophisticated spying operation to gain access to secrets.  

Separately, Germany on Monday said it had arrested three people on suspicion of working with the Chinese secret service to hand over technology that could be used for military purposes.

US mulls sending more military advisers to Ukraine

Pentagon — The United States may send additional military advisers to its embassy in Kyiv to advise and support the Ukrainian government and military, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told VOA Monday.


The troops would serve in a “non-combat” role, Ryder said.   


“Throughout this conflict, the DOD (Department of Defense) has reviewed and adjusted our presence in-country, as security conditions have evolved. Currently, we are considering sending several additional advisers to augment the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) at the embassy,” Ryder said in a statement.


Two U.S. defense officials, speaking to VOA on the condition of anonymity to discuss plans that were not finalized, said the number of advisers was “small” and could fluctuate slightly based on embassy requirements. A source familiar with the considerations said the number of troops was “fewer than two dozen.”


The troops could advise on missions ranging from logistics, maintenance, communications and sustainment, the defense officials added.


Per the Pentagon, the ODC performs a variety of advisory and support missions and is embedded within the U.S. Embassy under the chief of the mission.  


Politico was first to report the additional troop consideration.


The Pentagon’s latest troop discussion comes after the U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday passed a four-part, $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.


House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, structured the bills so that they could be combined into one after each bill was approved, to prevent opposition to any one piece from derailing the entire deal. Johnson had declined to bring the aid packages to the floor for a vote for months. The Senate had passed a supplemental aid bill in February, as Ukraine said ammunition shortages were causing its forces to pull back in areas.

The newly-passed House legislation includes $61 billion for Kyiv’s ongoing war against Moscow’s invasion, as well as $26 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza, and $8 billion for the Indo-Pacific region.


President Joe Biden in a statement Saturday urged the Senate to “quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law, and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs.”


He said the bills advanced U.S. national security interests and sends “a clear message about the power of American leadership on the world stage.”

UK’s Sunak promises to start Rwanda flights in 10-12 weeks

London — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged on Monday to start sending asylum seekers to Rwanda within 10 to 12 weeks, telling the upper house of parliament he will force the new legislation through despite its opposition.

Sunak said the government had booked commercial charter planes and trained staff to take migrants to Rwanda, part of a policy he hopes will boost his Conservative Party’s flagging fortunes before an election later this year.

“No ifs, no buts. These flights are going to Rwanda,” Sunak told a press conference.

Tens of thousands of migrants— many fleeing wars and poverty in Asia, the Middle East and Africa — have reached Britain in recent years, mostly by crossing the English Channel in small boats on risky journeys organized by people-smuggling gangs.

Stopping the flow is a prime goal for the Conservative government, but critics say the plan to deport people to Rwanda is inhumane and that the East African country is not a safe place.

The move has been held up repeatedly by the House of Lords and it could face further legal challenges if it passes parliament. The legislation is due to return on Monday to the House of Commons — the lower house of parliament — where lawmakers are expected to remove changes proposed by the Lords.

Sunak, whose party trails Labour in the polls, said an airfield was on standby and slots were booked for flights. Five hundred staff had been trained and were ready to escort migrants “all the way to Rwanda”.

“We are ready. Plans are in place. And these flights will go come what may,” he said.

Under the policy formulated two years ago, any asylum seeker who arrives illegally in Britain will be sent to Rwanda in what the government says will deter Channel crossings and smash the people smugglers’ business model.

Sunak’s team hope the pre-election pledge will help turn around his electoral fortunes particularly among wavering Conservatives voters who want to see a reduction in immigration.

Polls suggest his Conservative Party will be badly beaten in this year’s election by Labour, which has said it will scrap the scheme if it wins power.

Even if Sunak is successful in stopping the House of Lords from blocking the legislation, he may still face legal challenges.

Charities and rights groups say they would try to stop individual deportations and the trade union which represents border force staff is promising to argue the new legislation was unlawful “within days” of the first asylum seekers being informed they will be sent to Rwanda.


Kurdish separatists, water issues loom large in long-awaited Erdogan visit to Iraq

BAGHDAD — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Iraq Monday for his first official visit in more than a decade as his country seeks greater cooperation from Baghdad in its fight against a Kurdish militant group that has a foothold in northern Iraq.

Other issues also loom large between the two countries, including water supply issues and exports of oil and gas from northern Iraq to Turkey, which have been halted for more than a year.

Erdogan’s last visit to Iraq was in 2011, when he was Turkey’s prime minister.

Iraqi government spokesperson Bassem al-Awadi said in a statement that Erdogan’s visit will be a “major starting point in Iraqi-Turkish relations” and will include the signing of a deal on a “joint approach to security challenges” and a “strategic agreement on the water file,” among other issues.

Erdogan has said his country plans to launch a major operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a Kurdish separatist movement banned in Turkey and with operations in Iraq, during the summer, with the aim of “permanently” eradicating the threat it poses.

Turkey has carried out numerous ground offensives against the group in northern Iraq in the past while Turkish jets frequently target suspected PKK targets in the region.

Ankara now aims to create a 30- to 40-kilometer deep security corridor along the joint border with Iraq, Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler told journalists last month.

The group, whose fight for an autonomous Kurdish state in southeast Turkey has claimed tens of thousands of lives since the 1980s, is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

Baghdad has complained in the past that Turkish operations against the PKK violate its sovereignty but appears to be coming closer to Ankara’s stance.

In March, after a meeting between the Iraqi and Turkish foreign ministers, Baghdad announced that the Iraqi National Security Council had issued a ban on the PKK, although it stopped short of designating it as a terrorist organization.

The two countries issued a joint statement in which they said the group represents a “security threat to both Turkey and Iraq” and that its presence on Iraqi territory was a “violation of the Iraqi Constitution.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani told journalists during a visit to Washington last week that Iraq and Turkey have “true interests with one another and common projects.” He noted that the PKK has long had a presence in northern Iraq, “but we are not allowing any armed group to be on Iraqi territory and using it as a launch pad for attacks.”

Ankara has argued that the presence of PKK bases poses a threat to the planned construction of a major trade route, the Iraq Development Road, that would connect the port of Grand Faw in Basra, southern Iraq, to Turkey and Europe through a network of rail lines and highways.

Baghdad might take a similar approach to the PKK as it has taken to Iranian Kurdish dissident groups based in northern Iraq.

The presence of the Iranian dissidents had become a point of tension with Tehran, which periodically launched airstrikes on their bases in Iraq. Last summer, Iran and Iraq reached an agreement to disarm the dissident groups and relocate their members from military bases to displacement camps.

Talks between Erdogan and Iraqi officials are also expected to focus on energy cooperation as well as the possible resumption of oil flow through a pipeline to Turkey.

A pipeline running from the semiautonomous Kurdish region to Turkey has been shut down since March 2023, after an arbitration court ruling ordered Ankara to pay Iraq $1.5 billion for oil exports that bypassed the Iraqi central government. The sharing of oil and gas revenues has long been a contentious issue between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in Irbil.

Water rights are also likely to be a key issue on the table.

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which provide most of Iraq’s fresh water, originate in Turkey. In recent years, Iraqi officials have complained that dams installed by Turkey are reducing Iraq’s water supply. Experts fear that climate change is likely to exacerbate existing water shortages in Iraq, with potentially devastating consequences.

Mustafa Hassan, a resident of Baghdad said that he hopes that Erdogan’s visit “will help to solve problems related to water, because Iraq is suffering from a water scarcity crisis, and this affects agriculture.”

Mary J. Blige, Cher, Ozzy Osbourne, others picked for Rock Hall of Fame

new york — Mary J. Blige,Cher, Foreigner, A Tribe Called Quest, Kool & The Gang and Ozzy Osbourne have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a class that also includes folk-rockers Dave Matthews Band and singer-guitarist Peter Frampton.

Alexis Korner, John Mayall and Big Mama Thornton earned the Musical Influence Award, while the late Jimmy Buffett, MC5, Dionne Warwick and Norman Whitfield will get the Musical Excellence Award. Pioneering music executive Suzanne de Passe won the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

“Rock ‘n’ roll is an ever-evolving amalgam of sounds that impacts culture and moves generations,” John Sykes, chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, said in a statement. “This diverse group of inductees each broke down musical barriers and influenced countless artists that followed in their footsteps.”

The induction ceremony will be held October 19 at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in the city of Cleveland in the U.S. state of Ohio. It will stream live on Disney+ with an airing on ABC at a later date and available on Hulu the next day.

The music acts nominated this year but didn’t make the cut included Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, the late Sinead O’Connor, soul-pop singer Sade, Britpoppers Oasis, hip-hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, and alt-rockers Jane’s Addiction.

There had been a starry push to get Foreigner — with the hits “Urgent” and Hot Blooded” — into the hall, with Mark Ronson, Jack Black, Slash, Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney all publicly backing the move. Ronson’s stepfather is Mick Jones, Foreigner’s founding member, songwriter and lead guitarist.

Osbourne, who led many parents in the 1980s to clutch their pearls with his devil imagery and sludgy music, goes in as a solo artist, having already been inducted into the hall with metal masters Black Sabbath.

Four of the eight nominees — Cher, Foreigner, Frampton and Kool & the Gang — were on the ballot for the first time.

Cher — the only artist to have a Number 1 song in each of the past six decades — and Blige, with eight multi-platinum albums and nine Grammy Awards, will help boost the number of women in the hall, which critics say is too low.

Artists must have released their first commercial recording at least 25 years before they’re eligible for induction.

Nominees were voted on by more than 1,000 artists, historians and music industry professionals. Fans voted online or in person at the museum, with the top five artists picked by the public making up a “fans’ ballot” that was tallied with the other professional ballots.

Last year, Missy Elliott, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius, Kate Bush, and the late George Michael were some of the artists who got into the hall.

Terry Anderson, US journalist held captive for nearly 7 years, dies

los angeles, california — Terry Anderson, the globe-trotting Associated Press correspondent who became one of America’s longest-held hostages after he was snatched from a street in war-torn Lebanon in 1985 and held for nearly seven years, has died at 76.

Anderson, who chronicled his abduction and torturous imprisonment by Islamic militants in his best-selling 1993 memoir “Den of Lions,” died Sunday at his home in Greenwood Lake, New York, said his daughter, Sulome Anderson.

The cause of death was unknown, though his daughter said Anderson recently had heart surgery.

“He never liked to be called a hero, but that’s what everyone persisted in calling him,” said Sulome Anderson. “I saw him a week ago and my partner asked him if he had anything on his bucket list, anything that he wanted to do. He said, ‘I’ve lived so much, and I’ve done so much. I’m content.'”

After returning to the United States in 1991, Anderson led a peripatetic life, giving public speeches, teaching journalism at several prominent universities and, at various times, operating a blues bar, Cajun restaurant, horse ranch and gourmet restaurant.

He also struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, won millions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets after a federal court concluded that country played a role in his capture, then lost most of it to bad investments. He filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

Upon retiring from the University of Florida in 2015, Anderson settled on a small horse farm in a quiet, rural section of northern Virginia he had discovered while camping with friends.

“I live in the country and it’s reasonably good weather and quiet out here and a nice place, so I’m doing all right,” he said with a chuckle during a 2018 interview with The Associated Press.

In 1985 he became one of several Westerners abducted by members of the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah during a time of war that had plunged Lebanon into chaos.

After his release, he returned to a hero’s welcome at AP’s New York headquarters.

As the AP’s chief Middle East correspondent, Anderson had been reporting for several years on the rising violence gripping Lebanon as the country fought a war with Israel, while Iran funded militant groups trying to topple its government.

Chained to wall, threatened with death

On March 16, 1985, a day off, he had taken a break to play tennis with former AP photographer Don Mell and was dropping Mell off at his home when gun-toting kidnappers dragged him from his car.

He was likely targeted, he said, because he was one of the few Westerners still in Lebanon and because his role as a journalist aroused suspicion among members of Hezbollah.

“Because in their terms, people who go around asking questions in awkward and dangerous places have to be spies,” he told the Virginia newspaper Orange County Review in 2018.

What followed was nearly seven years of brutality during which he was beaten, chained to a wall, threatened with death, often had guns held to his head and often was kept in solitary confinement.

Anderson was the longest held of several Western hostages Hezbollah abducted over the years, including Terry Waite, the former envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had arrived to try to negotiate his release.

By his and other hostages’ accounts, he was also their most hostile prisoner, constantly demanding better food and treatment, arguing religion and politics with his captors, and teaching other hostages sign language and where to hide messages so they could communicate privately.

He managed to retain a quick wit and biting sense of humor during his long ordeal. On his last day in Beirut, he called the leader of his kidnappers into his room to tell him he’d just heard an erroneous radio report saying he’d been freed and was in Syria.

“I said, ‘Mahmound, listen to this, I’m not here. I’m gone, babes. I’m on my way to Damascus.’ And we both laughed,” he told Giovanna DellOrto, author of “AP Foreign Correspondents in Action: World War II to the Present.”

He learned later his release was delayed when a third party who his kidnappers planned to turn him over to left for a tryst with the party’s mistress and they had to find someone else.

Trauma lasted for years

Anderson’s humor often hid the PTSD he acknowledged suffering for years afterward.

“The AP got a couple of British experts in hostage decompression, clinical psychiatrists, to counsel my wife and myself and they were very useful,” he said in 2018. “But one of the problems I had was I did not recognize sufficiently the damage that had been done.

“So, when people ask me, you know, ‘Are you over it?’ Well, I don’t know. No, not really. It’s there. I don’t think about it much these days, it’s not central to my life. But it’s there.”

At the time of his abduction, Anderson was engaged to be married and his future wife was six months pregnant with their daughter, Sulome.

The couple married soon after his release but divorced a few years later, and although they remained on friendly terms Anderson and his daughter were estranged for years.

“I love my dad very much. My dad has always loved me. I just didn’t know that because he wasn’t able to show it to me,” Sulome Anderson told the AP in 2017.

Father and daughter reconciled after the publication of her critically acclaimed 2017 book, “The Hostage’s Daughter,” in which she told of traveling to Lebanon to confront and eventually forgive one of her father’s kidnappers.

“I think she did some extraordinary things, went on a very difficult personal journey, but also accomplished a pretty important piece of journalism doing it,” Anderson said. “She’s now a better journalist than I ever was.”

Chose Marines over Michigan

Terry Alan Anderson was born Oct. 27, 1947. He spent his early childhood years in the small Lake Erie town of Vermilion, Ohio, where his father was a police officer.

After graduating from high school, he turned down a scholarship to the University of Michigan in favor of enlisting in the Marines, where he rose to the rank of staff sergeant while seeing combat during the Vietnam War.

After returning home, he enrolled at Iowa State University where he graduated with a double major in journalism and political science and soon after went to work for the AP. He reported from Kentucky, Japan and South Africa before arriving in Lebanon in 1982, just as the country was descending into chaos.

“Actually, it was the most fascinating job I’ve ever had in my life,” he told the Orange County Review. “It was intense. War’s going on — it was very dangerous in Beirut. Vicious civil war, and I lasted about three years before I got kidnapped.”

Anderson was married and divorced three times. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Gabrielle Anderson, from his first marriage.