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Charlottesville Schools, Parents Address Children’s Fears After Violence


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Photo Courtesy: Twitter

When white supremacists began rallying in downtown Charlottesville last weekend, Liz Licht kept the TV off, trying to shield her three kids from the hate spewed on the streets of this normally quiet college town.

But after learning that a 32-year-old woman who joined a counterprotest had been killed by a man described as having neo-Nazi sympathies, Licht could no longer keep news of the violence from her 9-year-old son and 7-year-old twins.

“Our son went to bed scared that night,” Licht said. “He said he never really knew evil existed until that day.”

Licht joined other parents to call on the local school district to help Charlottesville children exposed to the hate and violence, especially as they leave the safe haven of home to start the school year.

“We want to work with them to develop buddy systems to pair them up with someone who is an immigrant or refugee,” Licht, 41, said Tuesday as she stood near a pile of flowers marking the street where Heather Heyer was killed. “Make it hands-on, not just talking about it.”

Charlottesville Public Schools officials said they were preparing specific plans for addressing the issue when students return to classes next week.

School leaders are tweaking their plans for the new year and preparing teachers to handle students’ questions about the violence and hate speech, schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins said in an e-mail.

“If we miss these steps, we will miss an opportunity for healing and growth,” Atkins said.

FILE – A woman kneels at a makeshift memorial for the victims of a car that plowed into counter-protesters after a “Unite the Right” rally organized by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 13, 2017.

 

Series of protests

Saturday’s rally was the latest in a series of demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville in recent months. It deteriorated into street fighting that culminated in Heyer’s killing, allegedly by James Alex Field, 20, who injured 19 other people by crashing his car into a counterprotest.

Psychologists often warn that young children can be traumatized by images of violence and urge parents to limit their exposure to news accounts of events like Saturday’s rally.

But given the white nationalist ideology that drove the “Unite the Right” event, experts said parents and schools should talk directly with their children about their beliefs.

“This is a really important teaching moment,” said Gail Saltz, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Cornell School of Medicine.

Schools in particular could use the incident as a way to teach students to cope with bullying, by stepping up to object to bullies, rather than being passive bystanders.

“Any way that one can be helpful always relieves anxiety,” said Saltz. “You might say to a child that in your microcosm of school, it’s really important to make everyone feel respected.”

Corey Eicher, 42, stopped with his daughters, aged 7 and 4, to leave flowers at the memorial for Heyer. He said he had tried to soothe his children’s fears by talking about the police and race.

“We showed them that a lot of the police working that day were black, of every color,” Eicher said. “My older daughter is 7, so she kind of understands what is happening.”

Lila’s reaction to Saturday’s events was brief: “Scary.”

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

At Least 17 Killed in Restaurant Attack in Burkina Faso


Suspected Islamic extremists opened fire at a Turkish restaurant in the capital of Burkina Faso late Sunday, killing at least 17 people in the second such attack on a restaurant popular with foreigners in the last two years.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the violence, which continued into the early hours Monday. Gunfire could be heard almost seven hours after the attack began.

Communication Minister Remi Dandjinou told journalists that at least 17 people were dead and eight others wounded, according to a provisional toll. The victims came from several different nationalities, he said.

Security forces arrived at the scene with armored vehicles after reports of shots fired near Aziz Istanbul, an upscale restaurant in Ouagadougou. The attack brought back painful memories of the January 2016 attack at another cafe that left 30 people dead.

Police Capt. Guy Ye said three or four assailants had arrived at the Aziz Istanbul restaurant on motorcycles, and then began shooting randomly at the crowds dining Sunday evening.

Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation in West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It shares a northern border with Mali, which has long battled Islamic extremists.

The three attackers in the 2016 massacre were of foreign origin, according to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which claimed responsibility in the aftermath along with the jihadist group known as Al Mourabitoun. But the terror threat in Burkina Faso is increasingly homegrown, experts say.

The northern border region is now the home of a local preacher, Ibrahim Malam Dicko, who radicalized and has claimed recent deadly attacks against troops and civilians. His association, Ansarul Islam, is now considered a terrorist group by Burkina Faso’s government.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Maps Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Celebrations and Protests After Kenyatta Re-elected as Kenya’s President


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Imcumbent President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta Picture Courtesy: Flickr

Both celebrations and angry protests erupted in Kenya after incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner in presidential elections.

Riots broke out late Friday in strongholds of opposition candidate Raila Odinga. Gunshots rang out in Nairobi’s biggest slum, Kibera, and well as in other poor areas of the capital and in the western city of Kisumu. Witnesses say police fired teargas in the Nairboi slum of Mathare and said police helicopters flew overhead.

The scenes were in stark contrast to strongholds of President Kenyatta, where supporters took to the streets with vuvuzelas and flags, cheering the election result.

Election results announced

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Opposition Presidential Candidate Raila Amolo Odinga Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Earlier Friday, an almost-full hall of election observers, dignitaries, journalists, politicians, political agents and electoral officials gathered to hear Kenya’s electoral commission announce that incumbent Kenyatta had won the presidential contest, defeating Odinga.

“Having fulfilled the requirement by law and having garnered 8,203,290 votes, representing 54.27 percent of the votes and 25 percent in 35 counties, I therefore wish to declare honorable Uhuru Kenyatta as president-elect and honorable William Ruto as the deputy president-elect,” Election chairman Wafula Chebukati said.

Chebukati announced that Odinga garnered 6,762,224 votes, which gave him 44.74 percent of the overall vote. He also received at least 25 percent of the vote in 29 counties.

Electoral commission results show a roughly 79 percent voter turnout, with more than 15 million Kenyans voting in an election with a pool of more than 19.6 million registered voters.

The winner of the presidential election must receive 50 percent of all votes, and 25 percent or more of votes in at least 25 of Kenya’s 47 counties. If neither candidate had hit that threshold, a run-off would have taken place.

Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the crowd after the announcement in the presidential race at the Centre in Bomas, Nairobi, Kenya, Aug.11, 2017.

Shortly after the announcement, Kenyatta and Ruto adopted a conciliatory approach to the opposition.

“As with any competition, there shall always be winners and there shall be losers, but we all belong to one great nation called Kenya, and I extend a hand of friendship, I extend a hand of cooperation, I extend a hand of partnership, knowing fully well that this country needs all of us pulling together in order for us to succeed. And Kenyans want us to succeed,” Kenyatta said.

Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, however, on Friday afternoon rejected the pending announcement, saying they will only accept the results if they are given access to data from the IEBC website. They stand by their claims that the electoral commission’s computer networks were hacked.

On Thursday, the electoral commission chief confirmed that there was an attempt to hack the system after the vote, but he said that attempt failed.

The opposition has said that its numbers showed Odinga beating Kenyatta by a margin of more than 600,000 votes.

WATCH: Uhuru Kenyatta Declared Winner of Kenya Election
“As a commission, they have made up their mind, they want to make a declaration, and therefore, we are saying that we are not going to be party to it, our issues have not been addressed, so as NASA, we shall not be party to the process that they are about to make,” said Musalia Mudavadi, leader of the opposition NASA coalition, prior to the electoral commission’s announcement.

A United Nations statement read, “I congratulate the people of Kenya for exercising their democratic rights in actively and peacefully participating” in the elections. The statement also “congratulates the IEBC for all their commendable efforts in organizing and conducting these elections.”

The election was held Tuesday, and officials spent the following three days certifying that electronic transmissions of results matched the official tallies signed by polling officers and political party agents before making the final announcement.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Some Rural Indian Women Challenge Ban on Calling Husbands by Name


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Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

When nonprofit Video Volunteers launched a campaign to tackle patriarchy in rural India, several women mentioned a seemingly innocuous custom: not being allowed to call their husbands by their first names.

Women, particularly in villages, are taught from a young age to never address their husbands — or older male relatives — by their names, as a mark of respect.

But the custom, which is less common in the cities, is deeply patriarchal, said Stalin K., director of Video Volunteers, which is based in Goa.

“At first glance, it seems like a small, harmless custom,” he said.

“But even these seemingly inane practices matter, as they are as much a power play as sexual assault or violence against women,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Video Volunteers trains men and women in rural areas across India to report on everyday issues that concern them.

The volunteers record short video clips on their tablets, which are then screened and discussed in the community.

About 70 volunteers in more than a dozen states were trained to report on patriarchy, sexism and violence against women.

More than 327,390 crimes against women were registered in India in 2015, an increase of more than 50 percent since 2010.

Many crimes go unreported, particularly in villages, because women fear bringing shame to their families.

The Video Volunteers reports included women talking about their limited freedom of movement compared with that of men, biases against widows, the practice of covering their heads in the presence of men, and the prejudice faced by women doing jobs considered to be men’s work, such as driving tuk-tuks, or three-wheeled taxis.

Several reports were about women not being able to call their husbands by names because they were told it was disrespectful and inauspicious to do so. Instead, a woman would address her husband as the father of their child, by his profession, or simply with “please listen.”

In discussions held afterward, women practiced saying their husbands’ names aloud for the first time, said Stalin, who goes by his first name.

The women were then encouraged to talk to their husbands about the practice.

In many cases, the men did not allow their wives to address them by name, and one woman was ostracized by her village for referring to an older male relative by name, Stalin said.

But some women were told they could call their husbands by name — in private.

“That is still a step forward,” Stalin said.

“Our experience with this campaign is that these women are not passively accepting of patriarchy. They are very aware and just waiting for an opportunity to push back — in a thoughtful and considered manner, which perhaps has a greater impact.”

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Italian Poster for “Casablanca” Attracts $478,000 at Auction


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Poster Courtesy: Flickr

The only known surviving Italian issue poster for the classic movie “Casablanca” has sold for $478,000 in Dallas at a public auction of vintage movie posters.

The firm Heritage Auctions says the price ties a record for the highest amount paid for a movie poster at a public auction.

The 1946 Italian poster — four years after the Oscar-winning movie was made and first shown in the U.S. — measures 55.5 inches (1,409.7 millimeters) by 78.25 inches (1,987.55 millimeters). It previously was owned by a collector in London.

Casablanca movie poster (Warner Brothers, 1946). First Post-War Release Italian 4 – Fogli (55.5″ X 78.25″) Luigi Martinati Artwork.

Auction spokesman Eric Bradley says the buyer Saturday chose to remain anonymous.

Bradley said Sunday the price equaled the record amount paid in 2014 for a poster for “London After Midnight,” a 1927 silent movie where Lon Chaney played a vampire.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

 

From Art to Aliens – Austrian Bodypainting Festival has Colorful Characters


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Pictures are use only for representational Purposes Picture Courtesy: http://lookandgaze.blogspot.in

Models endured waits of up to six hours in their quest to become elaborate human canvases in an Austrian town this weekend, as the 2017 World Bodypainting Festival and world championships got under way.

The event sees participants decorated not just in paint, but in elaborate latex makeup, creating appearances that would not be out of place in a science fiction film.

An artist touches up makeup on a model during the “World Bodypainting Festival 2017” in Klagenfurt, Austria, July 28, 2017.

On Friday, some of the human exhibits included a scaly-skinned woman with an animal skeleton headdress, another with multiple sets of horns, while the more reserved were semi-naked, painted with butterflies, apes and flowers.

A model performs on stage during the “World Bodypainting Festival 2017” in Klagenfurt, Austria, July 28, 2017.

“My painting is called ‘Utopia’ and stands for a world in which all dreams come true,” said artist and third-time participant Karen Dinger from Germany.

Her painting and costume, which took six hours to create, features heart-shaped red and white wings that stretch from the model’s head to knee-level and a painted moon on the leg.

The three-day festival, which is in its 19th year, sees 60 artists from over 50 countries take part, and competitions in 13 separate categories including special effects bodypainting, brush and sponge painting and ultraviolet effects.

A model performs on stage during the “World Bodypainting Festival 2017” in Klagenfurt, Austria, July 28, 2017.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Featured Image: http://lookandgaze.blogspot.in

13 Prisoners Dig Tunnel to Escape Guyana Jail


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Map Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Authorities in Guyana are hunting for 13 prisoners who escaped from custody, just weeks after another jailbreak.

Police in the South American country said the prisoners dug a tunnel disguised as a latrine under a high wall to escape Lusignan Prison, a minimum-security facility on the country’s east coast.

Lusignan Prison was recently fortified, after hundreds of inmates were transferred there from Georgetown Prison, a maximum-security institution that burned down after inmates set a fire to protest prison conditions and lengthy trial delays. Seventeen convicts died in the fire last year, and most of the hundreds of others formerly held at Georgetown have since been transferred to other facilities.

A senior police official said the 13 men who broke out between Sunday night and Monday morning were “real bad ones” and former Georgetown inmates, and he urged members of the public to be cautious.

Four other prisoners who escaped from what remains of the Georgetown Prison also are still on the loose. Using handguns smuggled into the jail, they shot their way out more than two weeks ago, killing a guard in the process.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

British Princes Regret Rushed Conversation with Mother Diana


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Picture Courtesy: http://showbiz.mirtesen.ru

Britain’s Prince William and Harry have spoken of their regret over the last conversation they had with their mother Princess Diana before she died, saying the telephone call was “desperately rushed.”

In a documentary called “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy” timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death in a Paris car crash on Aug. 31, 1997, the two princes said they spoke to their mother shortly before she died.

“Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say goodbye, you know ‘see you later’ … if I’d known now obviously what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have been so blase about it and everything else,” Prince William said.

Prince Harry said: “It was her speaking from Paris, I can’t really necessarily remember what I said but all I do remember is probably regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was.”

Nick Kent, the film’s executive producer, told Reuters he believed the document offered a glimpse of “the private Diana”. “Nobody has ever told this story from the point of view of the two people who knew her better than anyone else, and loved her the most: her sons.”

The princes recall their mother’s sense of humor, with Prince Harry describing her as “one of the naughtiest parents”.

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Picture Courtesy: http://showbiz.mirtesen.ru

They also recall the pain of their parents’ divorce and how they dealt with the news of her death and its aftermath.

While the film addresses aspects of Diana’s life such as her charity work involving HIV and landmines, it shies away from some other issues, such as extra-marital affairs.

According to the makers, however, the British royals were very open and did not put any subject off limits. Rather, they wanted to cover new ground and make a different type of film.

“What we had in mind is that in years to come, Prince William and Prince Harry would be happy to show this film to their own children and say this is who your grandmother was,” Kent said.

“Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy” will be broadcast on British and U.S. television on July 24.

A number of commemorative events have been planned to mark Diana’s death.

William and Harry attended a private service this month to rededicate her grave and the brothers have commissioned a statue to be erected in her honor outside their official London home.

Rarely-seen possessions of Diana, including her music collection and ballet shoes, went on display on Saturday at Buckingham Palace. An exhibition celebrating Diana’s fashion opened in February.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Strong Quake Rattles Turkey, Greek Islands; at Least 2 Die on Kos


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Kos, Greece Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

A powerful earthquake shook the Greek resort island of Kos early Friday morning, damaging older and historic buildings and the main port, killing at least two people and causing more than 120 injuries, authorities said.

The 6.5-magnitude quake rattled other islands and Turkey’s Aegean coast as well, but Kos was nearest to the epicenter and appeared to be the worst hit, with all of the deaths and injuries reported there.

A wall collapsed on a building dating to the 1930s, and it crushed people who were at the bar in the building’s lower level, according to Kos Mayor Giorgos Kyritsis.

“There are not many old buildings left on Kos. Nearly all the structures on the island have been built under the new codes to withstand earthquakes,’’ the mayor said.

Kos old town area littered with debris

Kos’s old town area, full of bars and other nighttime entertainment, was littered with fallen bricks and other debris. The island’s hotels had broken glass and other damage, leaving hundreds of tourists to spend the rest of the night outdoors, resting on beach loungers with blankets provided by staff.

“The instant reaction was to get ourselves out of the room,’’ said Christopher Hackland of Edinburgh, Scotland, who is a scuba instructor on Kos. “There was banging. There was shaking. The light was swinging, banging on the ceiling, crockery falling out of the cupboards, and pans …

“There was a lot of screaming and crying and hysterics coming from the hotel,’’ he said, referring to the hotel next to his apartment building. “It felt like being at a theme park with one of the illusions, an optical illusion where you feel like you’re upside down.’’

Other buildings damaged included an old mosque where a minaret collapsed and a 14th-century fortress at the entrance to the main port. Coastal roads were flooded. Minor damage — cracks in buildings, smashed windows and trashed shops — appeared widespread.

Rescuers were checking for trapped people inside houses after the quake struck in the middle of the night and were heading to outlying villages to check for damage. Ferry service was canceled until daylight because Kos’s main port was damaged.

Panic in Turkey

Greek officials said the quake was 6.5-magnitude and the numerous aftershocks were weaker but still could put at risk the buildings that were already damaged. The epicenter was 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of Bodrum, Turkey, and 10 miles (16 kilometers) east-northeast of Kos with a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers).

In Turkey, the ensuing panic caused minor injuries, according to Esengul Civelek, governor of Mugla province.

In Bitez, a resort town about 6 kilometers (4 miles) west of Bodrum, the quake sent frightened residents running into the streets.

Hotel guests briefly returned to their rooms to pick up their belongings but chose to spend the rest of the night outside, with some using sheets and cushions borrowed from nearby lounge chairs to build makeshift beds.

Greece and Turkey lie in an especially earthquake-prone zone.

News Courtesy: VOA News

In Suu Kyi’s Myanmar, Concern Rises Over Press Freedom


 

 

 

 

 

In the old, military-ruled Myanmar, it would not have been a surprising scene: three journalists, bound together in chains, raising shackled hands in unison and speaking out against their repressive government.

But this moment, captured on video by a local news organization, the Democratic Voice of Burma, was not from another era. It was recorded Tuesday, and it underscores how little has changed in the Southeast Asian country since the party led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and longtime opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won elections a year and a half ago.

“Just look at these chains. This is what we get for being journalists,” said Lawi Weng, one of three reporters detained by the military on June 26 for covering a drug-burning ceremony organized by an ethnic rebel group in the northeast.

“How can we say this is democracy?” Weng asked before entering a police van headed back to jail after a brief court hearing in Shan state’s Hsipaw township.

The reporters each face three years in prison for violating the nation’s Unlawful Associations Act, which was designed to punish people who associate with or assist “illegal” groups –  in this case, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, one of more than a dozen small rebel armies that control patches of territory in the north and east. The rebels burned a cache of narcotics to mark the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse.

Members of various rebel groups, along with their sympathizers and some aid workers, have been prosecuted under the Unlawful Associations Act. But rarely, if ever, have journalists – many of whom travel regularly to zones controlled by the Ta’ang and other insurgent groups.

It’s unclear why these journalists were singled out. Suu Kyi’s government, which is struggling to broker a nationwide cease-fire with the country’s rebel armies, simply says they broke the law and should have informed security forces before visiting a conflict zone.

The arrests, combined with the prosecution of critics who have spoken out against the nation’s military and civilian authorities, have surprised many who thought Suu Kyi’s rise would herald a new era of freedom of expression.

Suu Kyi spent nearly 15 years under house arrest during the nation’s long era of military rule, and she was praised worldwide for leading the struggle for democracy. Although her administration is officially in charge, the military still wields most power.

Shawn Crispin, Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said Suu Kyi’s administration continues to use “antiquated laws to threaten and imprison journalists.”

“Reporters are still being targeted for reprisals and imprisoned for their reporting,” Crispin said. “Frankly, that’s not what we thought an Aung San Suu Kyi-led government would condone or promote. It’s been massively disappointing.”

The New York-based press freedom group, which has called for the reporters to be released, had hoped the administration would “prioritize amending or scrapping these draconian provisions,” Crispin said. “To our dismay, they’ve chosen to use them to suppress criticism instead.”

Since Suu Kyi’s party swept elections in November 2015, at least 67 lawsuits have been filed under the controversial Telecommunications Law, which had been employed by the former military governments to punish dissent and prosecute those who took part in the pro-democracy struggle.

The law targets anyone “extorting, coercing, restraining, wrongfully defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening to any person.”

At least a dozen people have been charged so far, according to the Telecom-Law Research Team, an independent research group. Several suits have involved alleged insults against Suu Kyi, among them a woman now serving a six-month jail term for criticizing her on social media.

In addition to Lawi Weng, who works for the Irrawaddy media outlet, the two other journalists detained after crossing into rebel territory in Shan state are Aye Nai and Pyae Bone Naing, both from the Democratic Voice of Burma.

Their court appearances have repeatedly been changed without notice, fueling speculation authorities want to minimize media coverage.

Charles Santiago, a Malaysian lawmaker who chairs the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, said that “covering developments in conflict areas is already dangerous work.”

“Journalists shouldn’t have to add to their list of worries the possibility that the military might imprison them based on a century-old law that clearly wasn’t intended to apply to them and should have been repealed altogether long ago,” he said.

Speaking after their court appearance Tuesday, journalist Aye Nai said Democratic Voice of Burma reporters had traveled repeatedly to other rebel zones controlled by insurgent groups like the Kachin, the Karen and other minorities fighting for greater autonomy.

They had not been charged before, and should not be now, he said.

The government has reached provisional cease-fires with many of the rebel groups. The Ta’ang are among several still fighting, however, along with allies Kachin Independence Army and the Shan State Army-South.

“The government that was elected by the people should … amend these laws,” Aye Nai said. And even though they have detained us, “the belief we have in media will never fade away. We (will) do our job.”

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

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