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John Glenn, Aviation Icon and former U.S. Senator, dies at 95

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In 1998, still healthy and vigorous, Glenn embarked on his second venture in space.

In 1998, still healthy and vigorous, Glenn embarked on his second venture in space.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — John Glenn’s legend is otherworldly — he became the first American to orbit Earth, then became a national political figure for 24 years in the U.S. Senate. He died Thursday in Ohio. Glenn was 95.

Ohio State University announced his death. Glenn had recently been hospitalized at the university at the James Cancer Center, though Ohio State officials said at the time that admission there did not necessarily mean he had cancer. He had heart-valve replacement surgery in 2014 and a stroke around that time.

He had kept an office at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, which he helped found, and also had a home in Columbus.

Then just 40 years old and serving as a test pilot for the Marines, Glenn in 1962 become just one of the seven original American astronauts. He climbed into Friendship 7, the tiny Mercury capsule atop an Atlas rocket rising from the ground in Cape Canaveral. The Cold War had long stoked fears of nuclear destruction, and the Russians were well ahead in the space race — Yuri A. Gagarin and Gherman S. Titov, Russian astronauts, had already orbited Earth the year before.

It was a short flight, just three orbits. But when Glenn was safely back, flashing the world a triumphant grin, new faith that the United States could indeed hold its own against the Soviet Union in the Cold War and might someday prevail emerged.

No flier since Lindbergh had received such a cheering welcome.

Commuters filled the concourse of Grand Central Terminal to watch as Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.

Commuters filled the concourse of Grand Central Terminal to watch as Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.

Glenn was invited to the White House by President John F. Kennedy and paraded up Broadway and across the land. A joint meeting of Congress stood and applauded vigorously as Glenn spoke at the Capitol.

Glenn was reluctant to talk about himself as a hero. “I figure I’m the same person who grew up in New Concord, Ohio, and went off through the years to participate in a lot of events of importance,” he said in an interview years later. “What got a lot of attention, I think, was the tenuous times we thought we were living in back in the Cold War. I don’t think it was about me. All this would have happened to anyone who happened to be selected for that flight.”

After resigning from the astronaut corps in 1964 because he couldn’t find a vacant space seat, Glenn entered the private sector as an executive. He ultimately landed in politics, serving four full terms as a Democratic senator from his home state of Ohio, as well as unsuccessfully running for presidential nomination in 1984.

However, 36 years after his Mercury flight and in the last months of his final senate term, Glenn made his return to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. No matter how many pundits declared his return to space was a political move or waste of money, the yesteryear hero still brought out the crowds as he was launched back into orbit in 1998.

At age 77, he became the oldest person to go to space.

“John always had the right stuff,” President Obama said in a statement on Thursday, “inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond — not just to visit, but to stay.”

Glenn and President John F. Kennedy inspected the capsule that Glenn rode into orbit.

Glenn and President John F. Kennedy inspected the capsule that Glenn rode into orbit.

In his 1999 memoir, written with Nick Taylor, he admitted he was sorely disappointed when he was not the first astronaut originally tapped for a flight. Glenn was the most senior and articulate pilot on the staff, and had already attracted a large portion of the public’s attention. He said that he had “worked and studied hard dedicating myself to the program” and that he thought he had a “good shot” at being first. In a letter to a NASA official, Glenn wrote, “I thought I might have been penalized for speaking out for what I thought was the good of the program.”

As a senator, Glenn developed an expertise n weapons systems, nuclear proliferation issues and most legislation related to technology and bureaucratic reform. He generally took moderate positions on most issues, though in his last two terms his voting record became more liberal. He was an enthusiastic supporter of President Bill Clinton.

In recent years, honors continued to come his way: the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland was renamed the John H. Glenn Research Center.

In 2012, about a week before the 50th anniversary of the Friendship 7 flight, a reporter found the 90-year-old Mr. Glenn in full voice and clear mind, but regretting that he had sold his airplane the month before.

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Indian Americans jump into congressional races

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Indian Americans jump into congressional races | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — The latest numbers show more Indian Americans than ever are running for Congress. In the last six years, nearly 80 candidates made it on the ballot, soaring far beyond numbers seen in past elections. Leading the wave are successful candidates from California, like Kamala Harris, who rose from a Senate seat to become vice president. Helping those numbers, Indians Americans are also one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the country.  

Nisha Ramachandran is the new Executive Director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the first Indian American to serve in this role.  Ramachandran most recently managed her own consulting business focused on AAPI advocacy. She’ll be working closely with Congresswoman Judy Chu who chairs the group to further Asian American causes and initiatives. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the people of Telangana after the Kakatiya Rudreshwara Ramappa Temple was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The PM also urged citizens to visit the temple which was built during the rule of the Kakatiya dynasty.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Blinken begins India visit, Afghanistan top issue

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Blinken begins India visit, Afghanistan top issue | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — US secretary of state Antony Blinken begins his two-day India visit on Tuesday hoping to engage the nation on issues such as the Covid-19 response, human rights, and democracy. The American troop pullout in Afghanistan will also be a key issue. India is concerned about the implications of the withdrawal and the need for sustained pressure on Pakistan over issues like terror financing.

And India’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics goes to Mirabai Chanu. She won silver in Women’s weight lifting. Chanu’s Olympic preparations were hindered by injuries and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic but she still beat the odds and is being praised back home.

Tesla may open a factory in India. But CEO Elon Musk says only if the cars receive a good response in that marketplace. The company has already been hiring talent in the country. But Musk also hinted at some downsides to opening overseas, citing India’s import duty tax is the highest in the world for a large country.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Shrina Kurani announces CA congressional campaign

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Shrina Kurani announces CA congressional campaign | Diya TV News

SACRAMENTO (Diya TV) — Indian American Democrat Shrina Kurani is running for Congress in California’s 42nd district and is preparing to take on 15-year Republican incumbent Ken Calvert. Kurani is a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur and says she’s running to create more sustainable jobs in her community and to take on the status quo in Washington DC.

More than 30 interfaith organizations in the U.S. are urging the State Department to sanction India and designate it as a country of “particular concern”. Their resolution claims that the Indian government is promoting policies that lead to the persecution of religious minorities, especially Muslims.
Despite growing concern over rising Covid-19 cases in Japan, the 2021 Tokyo Olympic opening ceremony got underway. India is sending its largest ever contingent to the Olympics with120 athletes competing across 85 events.  The country hopes to win medals for shooting, wrestling, boxing, archery and badminton.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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