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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

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

Hackers Demand Millions in Ransom for Stolen HBO Data


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Picture Courtesy: Genesis_3g/Pixabay

Hackers using the name “Mr. Smith” posted a fresh cache of stolen HBO files online Monday, and demanded that HBO pay a ransom of several million dollars to prevent further such releases.

The data dump included what appear to be scripts from five “Game of Thrones” episodes, including one upcoming episode, and a month’s worth of email from the account of Leslie Cohen, HBO’s vice president for film programming. There were also internal documents, including a report of legal claims against the network and job offer letters to top executives.

HBO, which previously acknowledged the theft of “proprietary information,” said it’s continuing to investigate and is working with police and cybersecurity experts. The network said Monday that it still doesn’t believe that its email system as a whole has been compromised.

This is the second data dump from the purported hacker. So far the HBO leaks have been limited, falling well short of the chaos inflicted on Sony in 2014. In that attack, hackers unearthed thousands of embarrassing emails and released personal information, including salaries and social security numbers, of nearly 50,000 current and former Sony employees.

Those behind the HBO hack claim to have more data, including scripts, upcoming episodes of HBO shows and movies, and information damaging to HBO.

In a video directed to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, “Mr. Smith” used white text on a black background to threaten further disclosures if HBO doesn’t pay up. To stop the leaks, the purported hackers demanded “our 6 month salary in bitcoin,” which they implied is at least $6 million.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

 

Big, Toothy Fish Found in Nevada Chomped Prey Like Sharks


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Photo Courtesy: http://www.rgj.com ( Reno Gazette-Journal,Nevada,USA)

A fossil found in northeastern Nevada shows a newly discovered fish species that scientists believe looked, and ate, like a shark.

The fossil is what remains of a bony, sharp-toothed fish that would have been about six-feet-long (1.83 meters) with long jaws and layers of sharp teeth.

The type of jaw and teeth on the fish suggest it would have chomped down on its prey before swallowing it whole, like a shark, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

“The surprising find from Elko County in northeastern Nevada is one of the most completely preserved vertebrate remains from this time-period ever discovered in the United States,” said Carlo Romano of the University of Zurich, lead author of a Journal of Paleontology article about the find.

The fish, which researchers called Birgeria americana, predates Nevada’s most famous fossil, the Ichthyosaur, by more than 30 million years. The Ichthyosaur was a 55-foot-long (16.76 meters) reptile. One of the largest concentrations of Ichthyosaur fossils was found near Berlin, Nevada. The find led to the Ichthyosaur becoming Nevada’s state fossil.

Possible look of the newly discovered predatory fish species Birgeria americana with the fossil oft he skull shown at bottom right.

The Birgeria americana fossil finding is important because it sheds light on how quickly large, predator species evolved following the Earth’s third mass extinction that preceded the Triassic period about 250 million years ago.

The evidence shows the fish was alive and well about 1 million years after mass extinction 66 million years ago wiped out an estimated 90 percent of marine species.

It also shows a large fish was surviving in water previously thought to be too warm to support such life.

At the time, water near the equator, which is where land that became Nevada was positioned about 250 million years ago, could have been warmer than 96 degrees. “The eggs of today’s bony fish can no longer develop normally” at such a high temperature, researcher said.

Researchers learned of the fossil about five years ago after fossil collector Jim Jenks of West Jordan, Utah, stumbled upon it near Winecup Ranch north of Wells.

“It was just a very lucky find,” said Jenks, who was credited among the paper’s authors. “I happen to notice the teeth glinting in the sun. That is what caught my attention.”

Jenks turned the fish over to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which has a large collection of fossils and connections with leading researchers.

Article Courtesy: VOA NEWS

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Satellite Images Could Identify Slave Labor in India


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Picture Courtesy: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Researchers in England are hoping to help root out modern-day slavery in northern India by using detailed satellite imagery to locate brick kilns — sites that are notorious for using millions of slaves, including children.

A team of geospatial experts at the University of Nottingham use Google Maps and dozens of volunteers to identify potential sites of exploitation and report them to authorities.

“The key thing at the moment is to get those statistics right and to get the locations of the brick kilns sorted,” said Doreen Boyd, a co-researcher on the “Slavery from Space” project.

“There are certainly activists on the ground that will help us in terms of getting the statistics and the locations of these brick kilns to [government] officials.”

Anti-slavery activists said the project could be useful in identifying remote kilns or mines that would otherwise escape public or official scrutiny.

“But there are other, more pressing challenges like tackling problematic practices, including withheld wages, lack of transparent accounting … no enforcement of existing labor laws,” said Jakub Sobik, spokesman at Anti-Slavery, a London-based nongovernmental organization.

Millions of people in India are believed to be living in slavery. Despite a 1976 ban on bonded labor, the practice remains widespread at brick kilns, rice mills and brothels, among others.

The majority of victims belong to low-income families or marginalized castes like the Dalits or “untouchables.”

Nearly 70 percent of brick kiln workers in South Asia are estimated to be working in bonded and forced labor, according to a 2016 report by the International Labor Organization. About a fifth of those are underage.

The project relies on crowdsourcing, a process where volunteers sift through thousands of satellite images to identify possible locations of kilns. Each image is shown to multiple volunteers, who mark kilns independently.

The team is currently focused on an area of 2,600 square kilometers in the desert state of Rajasthan — teeming with brick-making sites — and plans to scale up the project in the coming years.

Researchers are now in talks with satellite companies to get access to more detailed images, rather than having to rely on publicly available Google Maps.

The project is one of several anti-slavery initiatives run by the university, which include research on slave labor-free supply chains and human trafficking.

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

 

Report: India Needs New Ways to Fight Scourge of Child Marriage


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Poster Courtesy: storypick.com

India must campaign on social media, rewrite text books and engage its young men if it is to tackle child marriage in a country where nearly half of females wed before the legal age, according to a report released on Friday.

child-marriage

As a result, India ranks among countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world, accounting for a third of the global total of more than 700 million women, according to UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency.

“Despite the policy attention given to child marriage, implementation has remained ineffective in curbing the root causes, and failed to produce a substantial impact on its eradication,” charity ActionAid India said in its report.

“Legal efforts have failed to break the stranglehold of tradition and culture that continues to support child marriage.”

While boys also marry in childhood, girls are disproportionately affected.

Early marriage makes it more likely that girls will drop out of school, and campaigners say it also increases the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.

While poverty and low levels of female literacy are often blamed for child marriage, the practice is prevalent even in wealthy households.

A report released last month showed nearly one in four girls in rural areas and one in five in urban areas married early, challenging a long-held assumption that child marriage is largely a rural phenomenon.

This is why the government must be more innovative in getting the message out, using social media and school text books, and starting from a young age, ActionAid said.

Boys and men must also be actively engaged, and religious and cultural institutions brought on board, too.

Government school teachers should be given legal authority to rescue children at risk of child marriage, it said.

Some recent efforts have helped, including a cash incentive, where the state transfers a lump sum to the girl’s bank account if she remains in school and unwed at age 18.

Community efforts have also succeeded: suppliers of wedding tents in Rajasthan state have stopped dozens of child marriages by alerting officials.

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

After Mosul: The IS Family Dilemma


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Outskarts of Mosul Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

“Sir, my father was an Islamic State militant, but he divorced my mother in 2013,” said Jassem Mohammad, 21, pulling out his identification card and presenting it to the camp manager.  “He now has two other wives.”

In a tiny patch of shade on the edge of a blistering desert camp outside of Mosul, the manager listened as Mohammad made his case.  He wanted to leave the camp and go back to college.  He had good scores, he said, and was never involved with IS.

Militant rule in Mosul has collapsed and IS fighters here are dead, fled, arrested or in hiding.  But as their relatives try to re-integrate into society, Iraqi authorities face impossible questions with only bad answers.

If someone loved or even tolerated an IS militant, is that person guilty?  How do the relatives of the perpetrators make peace with the relatives of the victims?
Medics at this collection point for fleeing families treat a baby for malnutrition, which they say is widespread among children in Mosul, Iraq, on July 12, 2017

Officially in Iraq, the answer to the first question is “no,” especially when speaking of small children.  Women and children fleeing areas IS occupied are checked for bombs, and when cleared, they are considered civilians.

Unofficially, families of militants are shunned, feared and often separated from the “regular” people, all traumatized by violence and extreme poverty under IS.  Many IS families now live in camps, like Mohammad, where they are not quite sure if they are being detained or protected.  And both, in fact, are true.

“We’d need to see the divorce papers,” the camp manager explained to Mohammad.  If Mohammad offered evidence that his father was not in his life during IS rule in Mosul, it might be possible for him to go back to school.

“I want to study and do humanitarian work,” Mohammad continued, pleading his case to a nearby journalist.

Appearances

As Mohammad and the reporter chatted, the camp manager looked nonplused and strolled away.  A security officer, in contrast, was visibly annoyed and abruptly ended the conversation.

“You cannot talk to him without official permission,” he said, ushering all journalists out of the camp.  Other Iraqi officers said they worry that news about camps set aside for IS families will make them look like monsters, locking up women and children.

“What can we do as the Iraqi government?” said a member of a community police force who didn’t want to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.  “We are exposed to danger.  They are families, but we can’t loose them without rehabilitation.”

Distrust on all sides

Inside the city, at the base of a long-dormant Ferris wheel, a short row of tents served as a collection point for families fleeing Mosul in the final days of battle.

Women and children filed into the tents, some collapsing where they sat.  Medics treated injuries and food and water alleviated some of the most pressing pains.  Many of the people had been hiding in basements for weeks, after months of water shortages.  The smell of unwashed bodies was pungent and the heat in the stagnant tents was overwhelming.

“We were imprisoned,” said Khalifa, 46, a mother of three.  Unlike the rest of the women in the tent, she wore no veil and her curly hair was tousled.  “We tried to run away and militants locked us in a basement.  For the past three days we’ve had no food or water.”

“Once they brought us food in the basement,” adds Hoda, 25, her daughter.  “He came down wearing a suicide vest.”

Their story echoed tales from families all over Mosul and, even if their husbands or fathers were IS fighters, it could still be true.  However, local authorities worried they were lying, casting themselves as victims, rather than somehow complicit.
In Old Mosul, dead IS militants are scattered in houses and on the streets and the smell is overwhelming in 45-plus degree Celsius weather on July 13, 2017 in Mosul.

One man peppered Hoda with questions about the neighborhood she said she was from.  IS militants in Mosul were often not stationed near their original homes.   Hoda failed to identify the most famous church, mosque and graveyard in the area.

“See, they are an IS family,” the man said.  “They are lying.”

Another woman, Fatima, a mother of eight, said for relatives of IS omitting certain truths is a matter of survival.  Sitting with an intelligence official, Fatima admitted she had two brothers that fought with IS.  Both, she said, are now dead and she never supported their decision to join IS.

But when the officer walked away, she said at least one of her brothers is alive and now in Tal Afar, an Iraqi city still held by IS.

“We are afraid to tell them when we talk to family members who are with IS,” she whispered.  “We don’t want to be blamed for what they did.”

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Moon Dust Collected by Neil Armstrong to be Auctioned in New York


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Photo Courtesy: Flickr

Moon dust that Neil Armstrong collected during the first lunar landing was displayed Thursday at a New York auction house — a symbol of America’s glory days in space now valued at $2 million to $4 million.

The late astronaut brought the dust and some tiny rocks back to Earth in an ordinary-looking bag.

It’s one of 180 lots linked to space travel that Sotheby’s is auctioning off July 20 to mark the 48th anniversary of the pioneer lunar landing on that date in 1969.

The moon dust is the first sample of Earth’s satellite ever collected.

The bag has had a storied existence, a decades-long trajectory during which it was misidentified and nearly landed in the trash. About two years ago, it appeared in a seized assets auction staged on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service. The owner, whose name has not been made public, purchased the treasure and sent it to NASA for testing.

After a legal tussle, a federal judge granted the owner full rights over the curiosity.

A print of astronaut Neil Armstrong’s photograph of fellow Apollo 11 astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin standing on the moon, to be offered at auction at Sotheby’s, is displayed in New York, July 13, 2017.

Other items on the block are Armstrong’s snapshot of fellow Apollo 11 astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin standing on the moon, with an estimated value of $3,000 to $5,000.

A documented flight plan astronauts used to return to Earth is valued at $25,000 to $35,000.

In a photo valued at $2,000 to $3,000, astronaut Gene Cernan from Apollo 17 is seen rolling around in the lunar rover through a valley on the moon.

Capping the sale is a touch of humor: The Snoopy astronaut doll that was the mascot of the Apollo 10 crew, at an estimated pre-sale price of $2,000 to $3,000.

Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. He died in 2012 in Ohio.

The first human to venture into outer space was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who orbited Earth in a spacecraft in April 1961.

Gagarin’s description of the planet — translated from Russian — is being offered as part of his observations on being in space, at an estimated price of $50,000 to $80,000.

Calling it “a magnificent picture,” he wrote: “The Earth had a very distinct and pretty blue halo. This halo could be clearly seen when looking at the horizon. It had a smooth transition from pale blue to blue, dark blue, violet and absolutely black.”

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

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