New Year's Eve party in Times Square to cheer for press freedom
By Jonathan Allen NEW YORK (Reuters) - Reporters will be the guests of honor at the New Year's Eve party in New York's Times Square on Monday, in what organizers said was a celebration of press freedom after an unusually deadly year for journalists at U.S. news outlets. Two attacks in particular weighed on organizers as they discussed in autumn whom to give the honor of initiating the ceremonial ball drop just before midnight, according to Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.
By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Reporters will be the guests of honor at the New Year's Eve party in New York's Times Square on Monday, in what organizers said was a celebration of press freedom after an unusually deadly year for journalists at U.S. news outlets.
Two attacks in particular weighed on organizers as they discussed in autumn whom to give the honor of initiating the ceremonial ball drop just before midnight, according to Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.
One was the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi columnist for the Washington Post and U.S. resident, inside a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey. The other was the mass shooting in June in the newsroom of The Capital, a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, in which five employees were killed.
"Throughout the year it's been a big issue," Tompkins said in an interview. "Times Square itself is the ultimate agora and public space," noting that the area was named after the New York Times, and that it was a Times publisher, Adolf Ochs, who began the tradition of the ball drop in 1907.
Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the Times Square Alliance approached his group because of "the perception that the journalism and journalists in particular are under threat and their role is being questioned."
Simon, who said he usually spends New Year's Eve playing Scrabble with his wife in New Hampshire's White Mountains, will be in the spotlight at the Times Square festivities, joining Mayor Bill de Blasio to launch the ball drop a minute before midnight.
Simon will be joined onstage by journalists from U.S. and international news outlets, including NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC anchor Lester Holt, ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz, and Karen Attiah, global opinions editor at The Washington Post.
A year ago Attiah recruited Khashoggi to work at the newspaper. Since the writer was killed, she has been among those leading calls for answers about his fate.
The button-pressing honor has in previous years gone to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, an Iraq War veteran, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the singer Lady Gaga.
The Times Square Alliance contacted Simon in November, Simon said, several weeks before Time magazine would devote their annual "Person of the Year" issue to several prominent journalists who have faced attacks and hostility.
Among those journalists were Khashoggi, and Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters reporters imprisoned by Myanmar for investigating how the country's security forces killed members of the country's Muslim Rohingya minority.
U.S. President Donald Trump has become a vociferous critic of parts of the press, routinely chiding reporters and outlets he views as publishing "fake news," calling them "the enemy of the people."
Simon said this was in the background of his discussions with the Times Square Alliance.
"Unavoidably, Trump was the subtext, but not front and center," he said. "We wanted to have a unifying message."
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Diane Craft)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.