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In this 2014 photo, Loretta Lynn waves to the crowd after performing during the Americana Music Honors and Awards show in Nashville, Tennessee.
In this 2014 photo, Loretta Lynn waves to the crowd after performing during the Americana Music Honors and Awards show in Nashville, Tennessee.
Loretta Lynn, coal
miner’s daughter and country queen, dies
NASHVILLE, Tenn. | Loretta Lynn, the Kentucky coal miner’s daughter whose frank songs about life and love as a woman in Appalachia pulled her out of poverty and made her a pillar of country music, has died. She was 90.
In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Lynn’s family said she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
“Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” the family said in a statement. They asked for privacy as they grieve and said a memorial will be announced later.
Lynn already had four children before launching her career in the early 1960s, and her songs reflected her pride in her rural Kentucky background.
As a songwriter, she crafted a persona of a defiantly tough woman, a contrast to the stereotypical image of most female country singers. The Country Music Hall of Famer wrote fearlessly about sex and love, cheating husbands, divorce and birth control and sometimes got in trouble with radio programmers for material from which even rock performers once shied away.
Her biggest hits came in the 1960s and ‘70s, including “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “The Pill,” “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “Rated X” and “You’re Looking at Country.” She was known for appearing in floor-length, wide gowns with elaborate embroidery or rhinestones, many created by her longtime personal assistant and designer Tim Cobb.
Her honesty and unique place in country music was rewarded. She was the first woman ever named entertainer of the year at the genre’s two major awards shows, first by the Country Music Association in 1972 and then by the Academy of Country Music three years later.
”It was what I wanted to hear and what I knew other women wanted to hear, too,” Lynn told the AP in 2016. “I didn’t write for the men; I wrote for us women. And the men loved it, too.”
In 1969, she released her autobiographical “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which helped her reach her widest audience yet.
”We were poor but we had love/That’s the one thing Daddy made sure of/He shoveled coal to make a poor man’s dollar,” she sang.
”Coal Miner’s Daughter,” also the title of her 1976 book, was made into a 1980 movie of the same name. Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of Lynn won her an Academy Award and the film was also nominated for best picture.
Long after her commercial peak, Lynn won two Grammys in 2005 for her album “Van Lear Rose,” which featured 13 songs she wrote, including “Portland, Oregon” about a drunken one-night stand. “Van Lear Rose” was a collaboration with rocker Jack White, who produced the album and played the guitar parts.
Reba McEntire was among the stars who reacted to Lynn’s death, posting online about how the singer reminded her of her late mother. “Strong women, who loved their children and were fiercely loyal. Now they’re both in Heaven getting to visit and talk about how they were raised, how different country music is now from what it was when they were young. Sure makes me feel good that Mama went first so she could welcome Loretta into the hollers of heaven!”
Born Loretta Webb, the second of eight children, she claimed her birthplace was Butcher Holler, near the coal mining company town of Van Lear in the mountains of east Kentucky. There really wasn’t a Butcher Holler, however. She later told a reporter that she made up the name for the purposes of the song based on the names of the families that lived there.
Her daddy played the banjo, her mama played the guitar and she grew up on the songs of the Carter Family. Her younger sister, Crystal Gayle, is also a Grammy-winning country singer, scoring crossover hits with songs like “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” and “Half the Way.” Lynn’s daughter Patsy Lynn Russell also was a songwriter and producer of some of her albums.
”I was singing when I was born, I think,” she told the AP in 2016. “Daddy used to come out on the porch where I would be singing and rocking the babies to sleep. He’d say, ‘Loretta, shut that big mouth. People all over this holler can hear you.’ And I said, ‘Daddy, what difference does it make? They are all my cousins.’”
She wrote in her autobiography that she was 13 when she got married to Oliver “Mooney” Lynn, but the AP later discovered state records that showed she was 15. Tommy Lee Jones played Mooney Lynn in the biopic.
Her husband, whom she called “Doo” or “Doolittle,” urged her to sing professionally and helped promote her early career. With his help, she earned a recording contract with Decca Records, later MCA, and performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage. Lynn wrote her first hit single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” released in 1960.
She also teamed up with singer Conway Twitty to form one of the most popular duos in country music with hits such as “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” and “After the Fire is Gone,” which earned them a Grammy Award. Their duets, and her single records, were always mainstream country and not crossover or pop-tinged.
And when she first started singing at the Grand Ole Opry, country star Patsy Cline took Lynn under her wing and mentored her during her early career.
The Academy of Country Music chose her as the artist of the decade for the 1970s, and she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988. She won four Grammy Awards, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008, was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
In “Fist City,” Lynn threatens a hair-pulling fistfight if another woman won’t stay away from her man: “I’m here to tell you, gal, to lay off of my man/If you don’t want to go to Fist City.” That strong-willed but traditional country woman reappears in other Lynn songs. In “The Pill,” a song about sex and birth control, Lynn sings about how she’s sick of being trapped at home to take care of babies: “The feelin’ good comes easy now/Since I’ve got the pill,” she sang.
She moved to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, outside of Nashville, in the 1990s, where she set up a ranch complete with a replica of her childhood home and a museum that is a popular roadside tourist stop. The dresses she was known for wearing are there, too.
Lynn knew that her songs were trailblazing, especially for country music, but she was just writing the truth that so many rural women like her experienced.
”I could see that other women was goin’ through the same thing, ‘cause I worked the clubs. I wasn’t the only one that was livin’ that life and I’m not the only one that’s gonna be livin’ today what I’m writin’,” she told The AP in 1995.
Even into her later years, Lynn never seemed to stop writing, scoring a multi-album deal in 2014 with Legacy Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. In 2017, she suffered a stroke that forced her to stop touring, but she released her 50th solo studio album, “Still Woman Enough” in 2021.
She and her husband were married nearly 50 years before he died in 1996. They had six children: Betty, Jack, Ernest and Clara, and then twins Patsy and Peggy. She had 17 grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.
Oman thanks Iran for ‘delivering’ detained Iranian-American
TEHRAN, Iran | Tehran said late Tuesday that Oman thanked the Iranian government for “delivering” to Muscat a detained 85-year-old Iranian-American who had been cleared to leave the country for medical treatment.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on its website that Oman’s top diplomat called his Iranian counterpart to express appreciation for Tehran’s decision to hand over Baquer Namazi, a retired U.N. children’s agency official, as a “humanitarian gesture.” It remained unclear whether Namazi, who was detained in Tehran in 2016, had actually left Iran.
Oman has frequently served as a neutral mediator between Iran and the West.
Namazi was placed under house arrest for medical reasons in 2018 but prevented from leaving Iran despite his family’s pleas that he travel to receive emergency heart surgery after suffering multiple hospitalizations.
Last October, he underwent surgery in Iran to clear a blockage in an artery to the brain that his family and supporters described as life-threatening.
The U.N. announced this week that following heavy pressure on the Iranian government, Tehran had agreed to lift Namazi’s travel ban so he could receive medical treatment abroad.
Namazi was arrested when he traveled to Tehran to visit his incarcerated son Siamak Namazi, a 49-year-old energy executive. Security forces had arrested the son, an advocate of closer ties between Iran and the West, months earlier while he visiting Iran on a business trip.
Both Namazis were sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran on what the U.S. and U.N. say were trumped-up spying charges.
Haiti at breaking
point as economy tanks and violence soars
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti | Daily life in Haiti began to spin out of control last month just hours after Prime Minister Ariel Henry said fuel subsidies would be eliminated, causing prices to double.
Gunshots rang out as protesters blocked roads with iron gates and mango trees. Then Haiti’s most powerful gang took a drastic step: It dug trenches to block access to the Caribbean country’s largest fuel terminal, vowing not to budge until Henry resigns and prices for fuel and basic goods go down.
The poorest country in the Western hemisphere is in the grips of an inflationary vise that is squeezing its citizenry and exacerbating protests that have brought society to the breaking point. Violence is raging and making parents afraid to send their kids to school; fuel and clean water are scarce; hospitals, banks and grocery stores are struggling to stay open.
The president of neighboring Dominican Republic described the situation as a “low-intensity civil war.”
Life in Haiti is always extremely difficult, if not downright dysfunctional. But the magnitude of the current paralysis and despair is unprecedented. Political instability has simmered ever since last year’s still-unsolved assassination of Haiti’s president; inflation soaring around 30% has only aggravated the situation.
”If they don’t understand us, we’re going to make them understand,” said Pierre Killick Cemelus, who sweated as he struggled to keep pace with thousands of other protesters marching during a recent demonstration.
The fuel depot blocked by gangs has been inoperable since Sept. 12, cutting off about 10 million gallons of diesel and gasoline and more than 800,000 gallons of kerosene stored on site. Many gas stations are closed, and others are quickly running out of supplies.
The lack of fuel recently forced hospitals to cut back critical services and prompted water delivery companies to shut down. Banks and grocery stores also are struggling to stay open because of dwindling fuel supplies — and exorbitant prices — that make it nearly impossible for many workers to commute.
A gallon of gasoline costs $30 on the black market in Port-au-Prince and more than $40 in rural areas, Desperate people are walking for miles to get food and water because public transportation is extremely limited.
”Haiti is now in complete chaos,” said Alex Dupuy, a Haiti-born sociologist at Wesleyan University. “You have gangs basically doing whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want with complete impunity because the police force is not capable of bringing them under control.”
Henry’s de-facto government “doesn’t seem to be fazed at all by the chaos and is probably benefiting from it because it allows him to hold on to power and prolong as long as possible the organization of new elections,” Dupuy said.
Gangs have long wielded considerable power in Haiti, and their influence has only grown since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Gangs control roughly 40% of Port-au-Prince, the U.N. has estimated. They are fighting to control even more territory, killing hundreds of Haitians in recent months — including women and children — and driving away some 20,000 people from their homes. Kidnappings have spiked.
Henry has pledged to hold elections as soon as it’s safe to do so, writing in a speech read at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24 that he has “no desire to stay in power longer than necessary.”
”My country is going through a multidimensional crisis whose consequences threaten democracy and the very foundations of the rule of law,” Henry said. He condemned widespread looting and violence, and said those responsible “will have to answer for their crimes before history and before the courts.”
U.S. President Joe Biden, also speaking at the U.N., said Haiti faces “political-fueled gang violence and an enormous human crisis.”
From 2004 until 2017, U.N. peacekeepers bolstered the country’s security and helped rebuild political institutions after a violent rebellion ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. But for now, any foreign intervention in Haiti is off the table.
Local political leaders have repudiated the suggestion of outside help, noting that U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti sexually abused children and sparked a cholera epidemic more than a decade ago that killed nearly 10,000 people.
The first round of protests in mid-September prompted France and Spain to close their embassies and banks to shut down in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Protesters attacked businesses, the homes of well-known politicians and even warehouses of the United Nations’ World Food Program, stealing millions of dollars’ worth of food and water.
Protests have since grown bigger. Tens of thousands of people recently marched in Port-au-Prince and beyond, including the cities of Gonaives and Cap-Haitien in the north. They waved leafy green branches and chanted, “Ariel has to go!”
Primary school teacher Jean-Wilson Fabre joined a recent protest as he ducked into a side street to avoid a cloud of tear gas thrown by police trying to control the crowd.
”He’s not doing anything,” he said of the prime minister.
The 40-year-old father of two sons lamented the lack of food and water, the rise of kidnappings and the growing power of gangs: “No one is crazy enough to send their kids to school in this situation. They will not be safe.”
Fabre is one of millions of parents who refused to send their children to school even though the government announced an Oct. 3 return to class as scheduled in an attempt to restore some normalcy amid an increasingly unstable situation.
Haiti’s courts also were slated to reopen on Oct. 3, but the country’s Bar Federation rejected an invitation from the prime minister to talk about the issue days before, noting that gangs still occupy a main courthouse in Port-au-Prince, among other problems.
”Under Ariel, things have gotten worse and worse,” said Merlay Saint-Pierre, a 28-year-old unemployed mother of two boys who joined a recent protest wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a middle finger.
Hundreds of people have spent hours in line each day just to buy buckets of water. Delivery trucks cannot go into neighborhoods because of roadblocks.
”I’m scared of this water,” said 22-year-old Lionel Simon, noting he would use it to wash clothes and add chlorine before drinking it.
At least eight people have died of cholera in recent days and dozens more have been treated, according to local health officials who urged protesters and gang leaders to allow fuel and water to flow into neighborhoods.
But Simon was not worried about cholera. His biggest concerns are gangs and an increase in young children carrying guns.
”We don’t know if life will go back to normal,” he said. “If you die today, you don’t even know if you’re going to make it to a morgue. You could be left in the street for dogs and animals to eat you. This is how crazy the city has become.”
Dupuy, the Haitian expert, said it’s unlikely Henry would step down since there is no international pressure for him to do so. He worried there is no clear solution as the situation spirals: “How much more boiling point can there be?”
tries to assuage anger
as protests continue
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates | Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday appealed for national unity and tried to allay anger against the country’s rulers, even as the anti-government protests that have engulfed the country for weeks continued to spread to universities and high schools.
Raisi acknowledged that the Islamic Republic had “weaknesses and shortcomings,” but repeated the official line that the unrest sparked last month by the death of a woman in the custody of the country’s morality police was nothing short of a plot by Iran’s enemies.
“Today the country’s determination is aimed at cooperation to reduce people’s problems,” he told a parliament session. “Unity and national integrity are necessities that render our enemy hopeless.”
His claims echoed those of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who blamed the United States and Israel, the country’s adversaries, for inciting the unrest in his first remarks on the nationwide protests on Monday. It’s a familiar tactic for Iran’s leaders, who have been mistrustful of Western influence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran has also blamed the unrest on Kurdish opposition groups in the country’s northwest that operate along the border with neighboring Iraq. On Tuesday, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard bombed three bases belonging to Kurdish militant groups in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region with drones and artillery, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported, without elaborating on casualties. It was the latest in a wave of Iranian bombardments that killed at least nine people last month.
The protests, which emerged in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code, have embroiled dozens of cities across the country and evolved into the most widespread challenge to Iran’s leadership in years. A series of festering crises have helped fuel public rage, including the country’s political repression, ailing economy and global isolation.
The scope of the ongoing unrest, the most sustained in over a decade, remains unclear as witnesses report spontaneous gatherings across the country featuring small acts of defiance — protesters shouting slogans from rooftops, cutting their hair and burning their state-mandated headscarves.
The hardline Kayhan daily on Tuesday tried to downplay the scale of the movement, saying that “anti-revolutionaries,” or those opposed to the Islamic Republic, “are in the absolute minority, possibly 1%.”
But another hardline newspaper, the Jomhuri Eslami daily, cast doubt on government claims that foreign countries were to blame for the country’s turmoil.
”Neither foreign enemies nor domestic opposition can take cities into a state of riot without a background of discontent,” its editorial read.
Iran’s security forces have sought to disperse demonstrations with tear gas, metal pellets, and in some cases live fire, rights groups say. Iran’s state TV reports that violent confrontations between protesters and the police have killed at least 41 people, but human rights groups say the number is much higher.
An escalating crackdown on the press, with dozens of journalists arrested in the last few weeks, has stifled most independent reporting on sensitive issues such as the deaths of protesters.
The recent disappearance and death of a 17-year-old girl in Tehran, however, has unleashed an outpouring of anger on Iranian social media.
Nika Shahkarami, who lived in the capital with her mother, vanished one night last month during the protests in Tehran, her uncle Kianoush Shakarami told Tasnim news agency. She was missing for a week before her lifeless body was found in a Tehran street and was returned to her family, Tasnim reported, adding relatives had not received official word on how she died.
Foreign-based Iranian activists allege she died in police custody, with hundreds circulating her photo and using her name as hashtag online for the protest movement. The prosecutor in the western Lorestan province, Dariush Shahoonvand, denied any wrongdoing by authorities and said was buried in her village Monday.
”Foreign enemies have tried to create a tense atmosphere after this incident,” he told the Hamshari daily, without elaborating on what happened.
As the new academic year began this week, demonstrations spread to university campuses, long considered sanctuaries in times of turmoil. Videos on social media showed students expressing solidarity with peers who had been arrested and calling for the end of the Islamic Republic. Roiled by the unrest, many universities moved classes online this week.
The prestigious Sharif University of Technology in Tehran became a battlefield on Sunday as security forces surrounded the campus from all sides and fired tear gas at protesters who were holed up inside a parking lot, preventing them from leaving.
In one video on Monday, students at Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran marched and chanted, “Jailed students must be freed!” In another, students streamed through Khayyam University in the conservative city of Mashhad, shouting, “Sharif University has become a jail! Evin Prison has become a university!” — referring to Iran’s notorious prison in Tehran.
Protests also appeared to grip gender-segregated high schools across Iran, where groups of young schoolgirls waved their hijabs and chanted “Woman! Life! Freedom!” in the city of Karaj west of the capital and in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj on Monday, according to widely shared footage.
The response by Iran’s security forces has drawn widespread condemnation. On Monday, President Joe Biden said his administration was “gravely concerned about reports of the intensifying violent crackdown.”
The British foreign office summoned the Iranian ambassador in London.
”The violence leveled at protests in Iran by the security forces is truly shocking,” said British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
Security forces have rounded up an untold number of demonstrators, as well as artists who have voiced support for the protests. Local officials report at least 1,500 arrests.
Shervin Hajipour, a singer who emerged as a protest icon for his wildly popular song inspired by Amini’s death, was detained last week. His lawyer said he was released on bail Tuesday and rejoined his family in the northern city of Babolsar.
In his somber ballad, “For the sake of,” he sings of why Iranians are rising up in protest.
”For dancing in the streets,” he intones. “For my sister, for your sister, for our sisters.”
—From AP reports
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