Taiwan Celebrates Same-Sex Marriage With A Mass Wedding Banquet

Taiwanese same-sex couples kiss at their wedding party in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 25, 2019. Taiwan has become the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage.

Chiang Ying-ying/AP


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Chiang Ying-ying/AP

More than a thousand people participated in a mass wedding banquet in Taiwan on Saturday to celebrate the island becoming the first place in Asia to legally recognize same-sex unions.

The event included a wedding ceremony for about 20 couples. Couples walked down a red carpet at the wedding banquet, surrounded by jubilant supporters. Supporters gathered around the venue, camping out on picnic blankets to watch the ceremony and stage performances.

Earlier this month, Taiwan’s legislature voted 66 to 27 to recognize same-sex marriages. Taiwan’s high court had ruled in 2017 that forbidding the marriage of same sex couples violated Taiwan’s constitution, and set a two-year deadline for the legislature to pass a corresponding law or same-sex marriage would become legal automatically.

NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reported that marriage equality was part of President Tsai Ing-wen’s 2016 campaign platform. Before the vote in Taiwan’s state legislature, Tsai tweeted, “Good morning Taiwan. Today, we have a chance to make history & show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society. Today, we can show the world that #LoveWins.”

🌈👬 Taiwan’s having its first official same-sex weddings after becoming the 1st in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

Meet Marc and Shane, who just got married by gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei (祁家威) in Taipei #LGBTQ #婚姻平權 pic.twitter.com/fZiauX5K0A

— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) May 24, 2019

#Taiwan Gay couples hold mass wedding banquet in Taipei #LGBT pic.twitter.com/KmGZwGUjnK

— AFP Photo (@AFPphoto) May 25, 2019

Taiwanese same-sex couples cheer with supporters at a mass wedding banquet in Taipei, Taiwan.

Chiang Ying-ying/AP


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Chiang Ying-ying/AP

Chi Chia-wei, whom The New York Times calls the “godfather” of Taiwan’s gay rights movement, told the news outlet, “Progress is good. More progress is even better.” Chi, who was imprisoned by Taiwan in 1986 for coming out as gay, told the NYT the issues of transnational couples and full adoption rights must still be addressed.

Same-sex marriages remain illegal throughout the rest of Asia, and in some parts of Africa, it is considered a crime. But as the NYT notes, Taiwan has been a leader of gay rights in Asia and its annual gay pride parade in Taipei routinely draws thousands.

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Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers Quarterback And ‘Ice Bowl’ Hero, Dies At 85

Brett Favre, right, stands with Bart Starr at a 2015 Green Bay Packers game. Starr, who died Sunday, had suffered with his health since a 2014 stroke.

Mike Roemer/AP


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Mike Roemer/AP

Legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr died Sunday in Birmingham, Ala. He was 85 years old.

Starr, who played for the Packers from 1956 to 1971, was the first quarterback in history to win five NFL championships. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

In a statement on the team website, Green Bay Packers historian Cliff Christl wrote that Starr was “maybe the most popular player in Packers history.”

Starr is known widely for one particular performance, in the NFL championship game many call the most storied-ever Packers victory.

It was New Years’ Eve, 1967, and the temperature was minus 15; thus, the game was called the “Ice Bowl.” The Packers were playing the Dallas Cowboys. With 16 seconds left, the Packers were down by three, and the ball was at the 1-yard line.

Starr, who had not run a quarterback sneak all season, suggested to Packers coach Vince Lombardi that it was time for one. So Starr ran across the end zone for a game-winning touchdown — and as Christl wrote, he will forever be remembered “for that frozen-in-time moment where he was lying face down under a pile of bodies in the south end zone of Lambeau Field, the hero of the Ice Bowl.”

“He always seemed to deliver in the clutch,” Christl said.

Until Tom Brady won his sixth Super Bowl with the New England Patriots earlier this year, Starr held the record for the most Super Bowls won by a quarterback. Starr is one of only six Packers to have a jersey retired by the team.

Starr was not instantly legendary; In fact, the Green Bay Press-Gazette wrote that he struggled during his first few years on the team.

Former Packers assistant coach Bob Schnelker told the Press-Gazette that Starr “didn’t start out like he was going to be the greatest player.”

“But toward the end, he was as good as there was,” Schnelker said. “Look at all the championships.”

After he retired from football, Starr returned to the Packers as a coach. He was not particularly successful in the role, and was eventually fired after nine years of coaching.

Later, Starr worked in real estate and, along with his wife Cherry Starr, helped to start a ranch that provides mental health services, equine therapy and other supports to teens.

According to the Packers’ team statement, Starr had been in poor health since 2014, when he suffered a serious stroke.

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South Africa’s Carbon Tax Set To Go Into Effect Next Week

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives for his swearing-in ceremony in Pretoria, South Africa on Saturday. Ramaphosa signed a carbon tax into law on Sunday.

Jerome Delay/AP


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Jerome Delay/AP

A carbon tax in South Africa will go into effect on June 1. President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the measure into law on Sunday, making South Africa one of about 40 countries worldwide to adopt a carbon-pricing program.

Proponents of the carbon tax say the true cost of carbon emissions, a key contributor to climate change, is not reflected in the price of fossil fuels. Many economists have argued that taxing carbon would result in a shift toward cleaner sources of energy.

The tax will be introduced in phases: The first phase will run until December 2022 and will tax carbon at a rate of about $8.34 per ton of CO2 equivalent. But according to a statement from the National Treasury, tax breaks will significantly reduce the effective rate of the tax.

The treasury will assess the impact of the tax and the country’s progress toward emissions goals before the second phase of the policy, which will start in 2023 and end in 2030.

The policy has been in the works for the better part of a decade, Reuters reported.

The state-owned utility Eskom has previously said carbon tax legislation would push up electricity prices, but the National Treasury said on Sunday that it did not expect the measure to raise the price of electricity. Financial struggles at Eskom have led to blackouts throughout the country this year.

Giants of energy-intensive industries, like the steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal and the gold producer Sibanye-Stillwater, have expressed opposition to the carbon tax, saying the policy would raise costs by too much.

But some climate advocates say South Africa’s policies are not going far enough.

The Climate Action Tracker, which measures countries’ progress toward meeting the goals of the comprehensive Paris Agreement, has said the country is not currently on track toward meeting its targets.

Globally, the Climate Action Tracker finds very few countries are currently set to meet their goals. The Paris Agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries, has a central aim: Keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But it also outlines a second, more ambitious one: Keep that increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Small island nations have said they would be decimated under a 2-degree increase.

The New York Times has called Britain’s carbon tax “perhaps the clearest example in the world of a carbon tax leading to a significant cut in emissions.”

The European Union has already implemented a broader system of cap-and-trade, another popular carbon pricing method. But Britain tacked on its own price floor for carbon, which the Times said “essentially functions as a carbon tax of around $25 per ton.”

The policy has helped to drive greenhouse gas emissions in Britain to their lowest level since 1890.

Many carbon pricing schemes are not as aggressive as Britain’s. And many countries that have instituted carbon taxes or cap-and-trade policies have not seen reductions as deep, in part because political opposition has prevented price increases large enough to significantly alter behavior.

Critics of the carbon tax law in Canada have said that even though the government offers Canadians rebates as part of the policy, the rebates fail to account for the fact that the tax increases the cost of food and other goods.

Last year, Greg Bertelsen of the Climate Leadership Council told NPR’s John Ydstie he was seeing growing bipartisan support for a carbon tax in the U.S. But former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber said he thinks gathering Republican support for a carbon tax would be difficult, given President Trump’s commitment to the coal industry.

“For a Republican today to embrace any tax is difficult,” Weber said. “And since President Trump was elected, particularly a tax that focuses on fossil fuels is even more difficult.”

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Likely Tornado Kills At Least 2 In Oklahoma

Emergency workers search through debris from a mobile home park in El Reno, Okla. early Sunday.

Sue Ogrocki/AP


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Sue Ogrocki/AP

A possible tornado struck the Oklahoma city of El Reno Saturday night and killed at least two people.

In a news conference early Sunday morning, El Reno mayor Matt White said the storm hit at about 10:30 p.m., and warning sirens sounded at 10:27 p.m.

The storm destroyed an American Budget Value Inn, damaged the nearby Skyview Estates mobile home park and also affected nearby businesses, including a car dealership. White said several individuals have also been hospitalized.

“It is very traumatic — I think you’ll see in the daylight,” White said. “You’ll see how dramatic it is when the daylight shines on it.”

White said the mobile home park had 88 homes and rescue efforts were mainly focused on about 15 of them. When asked about how many guests were staying in the motel, White said his team was “trying to run those numbers down.”

White described the scene as “horrific; decimated.”

El Reno sits 30 miles west of Oklahoma City. According to the 2010 census, its population is about 17,000.

“El Reno has suffered in the last couple of weeks some significant flooding,” White said.

This also would not be the first destructive tornado to hit the city in recent years: In 2013, eight people in the El Reno area were killed by a tornado that swept across a broad area of Oklahoma.

“Our first responders are experienced,” White said. “They’re qualified and our community is very resilient to this.”

The El Reno storm is the latest in a spate of deadly weather in the Midwest. Several tornadoes struck Missouri this week, and both Missouri and Oklahoma have been experiencing severe flooding.

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PHOTOS: From Sumo Wrestling To Grand Parades, How World Leaders Try To Impress Trump

President Donald Trump presents the “President’s Cup” to the Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament winner Asanoyama, at Ryogoku Kokugikan Stadium on Sunday.

Evan Vucci/AP


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Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump attended a sumo wrestling competition with Japan’s Prime Abe on Sunday, as the Japanese rolled out the red carpet for Trump during his visit to Tokyo.

The wrestler who won the competition received a U.S.-made trophy named the President’s Cup, in honor of Trump’s trip.

“That was something to see these great athletes, because they really are athletes,” Trump said after the tournament. “It’s a very ancient sport and I’ve always wanted to see sumo wrestling, so it was really great.”

On Monday, Trump will be the first foreign world leader to officially meet with Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, who ascended to the throne at the beginning of May.

Saudi Arabia hosted Trump for his first trip abroad as president in May 2017. He was greeted with a military flyover and canons when he arrived. He was also presented with a gold medal known as the Collar of Abdulaziz al Saud, which is Saudi Arabia’s highest honor. Here, Trump and first lady Melania Trump are seen with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (left) and Saudi King Salman.

Saudi Press Agency via AP


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Saudi Press Agency via AP

During a trip to China in 2017, Trump was treated to an opera performance and acrobats during a tour of the Forbidden City, a palace where China’s emperors lived for nearly six centuries. Chinese President Xi Jinping personally escorted Trump on the sightseeing excursion.

Andrew Harnik/AP


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Andrew Harnik/AP

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, dined with President Trump and first lady Melania Trump in the Eiffel Tower in July 2017. Trump later called it “one of the most beautiful evenings you’ll ever see. So that was a great honor.”

Yves Herman/AFP/Getty Images


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Yves Herman/AFP/Getty Images

Trump was the guest of honor at France’s Bastille Day parade in 2017, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of U.S. involvement in World War I. Trump was so impressed by the military display that he tried to have a similar parade in the U.S., but plans for the event fell through.

Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images


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Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

The Trumps had tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle during a visit to the United Kingdom last year. Trump said the queen was “fantastic” and that the first couple and the monarch really “got along.”

Matt Dunham/WPA Pool/Getty Images


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Matt Dunham/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Japan is the latest country to attempt to use a visit like this to impress Trump, who loves pageantry and puts a great deal of stock in personal connections. But these grand displays haven’t translated into lasting benefits for these countries. Listen to the story on NPR’s Morning Edition and see photos of past events below.

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