The stolen childhoods of Kashmir in pencil & crayon & Ing’s Poem

The stolen childhoods of Kashmir in pencil & crayon & Ing’s Poem

By Soutik Biswas BBC News, Srinagar

May 29, 2017, BBC News from the section India

 

These are pictures of loss of childhood and innocence. They speak about a violent world outside shuttered homes. They reveal the terrors of the present and the fears for the future.

The colours are vivid. Red dominates, in blood and fire. Black is an ascendant colour, clouding the skies and scorching the earth. It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

The artwork is by schoolchildren in Indian-administered Kashmir, home to one of the world’s most protracted conflicts. These days, they mostly depict childhoods ruined by the violence of adults.

The meadows, streams, orchards and mountains that make their home “heaven on earth”, as a Mughal emperor once exulted, is missing in much of their work. Stone-throwing protesters, gun-toting troops, burning schools, rubble-littered streets, gunfights and killings are some of the anxious, recurring themes on the canvas.

Last summer was one of the bloodiest in the region for years. Following the killing of influential militant Burhan Wani by Indian forces in July, more than 100 civilians died in clashes with security forces during a four-month-long lockdown in the Muslim dominated-valley.

Security forces fired metal pellets from shotguns into protesting crowds, leaving many blinded. More than 1,200 children below the age of 15 were among some 9,000 people injured in the protests. Most of them, according to reports, were “young, [and] were either blinded completely or lost their vision in one eye”.

As violence spread on the street, schools shut. Children stayed indoors for months, drowning in the noise of TV news. At other times, they read and drew. They missed their friends and cricket games. Teachers gave lessons at home, and parents invigilated during home exams. One school even held an exam in a small indoor stadium.

“I would hide in a corner of my house’ (Video production: Shalu Yadav and Neha Sharma)

 When the schools reopened in the winter, teachers found many of the students irate, nervous and uncertain. They were children of government workers, businessmen, doctors, engineers, bankers and farmers.

They came looking “pale, like zombies”, the principal of a leading school told me.

They cried and hugged each other. Having spent months cooped up in their homes in near-captivity, they asked their teachers why they had closed the school. Some of them behaved strangely. They screamed without any reason, banged the tables and broke furniture. Counsellors were called in to calm them down.

“There was anger, a lot of anger,” the principal said.

Then, some 300 of them went to a school hall and sat down with paper and pastels. And they drew furiously.

“That’s all they did on the first day. They drew what they wanted. They didn’t utter a word. It was all very cathartic.”

‘I cannot see the world again’

The children drew mostly in pastel and pencil. Many wrote over their pictures, using speech bubbles, headlines and sentences.

In many of their pictures, the valley is on fire, and streets are littered with the black detritus of rioting against an incongruent backdrop of a blazing sun and birds in the skies.

Then there are young faces scarred and eyes blinded by pellets. It is a recurring, heart-wrenching theme.

“I cannot see the world again and cannot see my friends again. I am blind,” says the subject of one such haunting image.

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies, as a poet wrote, but in Kashmir, children have lived in the shadow of death for as long as one can remember. There are bodies lying on the street, and there are people on fire in the paintings.

“These are the mountains of Kashmir. And here’s a school for kids. On the left are army men and opposite them are stone-throwing protesters who are demanding freedom,” said a schoolboy in Anantnag, explaining his drawing.

“When protesters throw stones at the army, the army opens fire at them. In the crossfire, a school kid dies and his friend is left alone.”

The other recurring theme – and nightmare – is the burning down of schools. There’s a powerful picture of children trapped in a school on fire, screaming, “help us, help us. Save our school, save us, save our future”.

Others are angrier and more political.

There are drawings with pro-freedom graffiti, and signposts which say Save our Kashmir in pastels. Others extol Burhan Wani, and resonate with anti-India slogans. There are maps of Kashmir oozing red.

In another village in southern Kashmir, a prominent artist found children drawing Indian flags fluttering on top of their houses.

Rival neighbours

A scowling face of a man split into two is a metaphor for the bitter and festering rivalry between India and Pakistan, and the tragedy of a land sandwiched between the rival neighbours.

There’s a heart-breaking pencil drawing of a mother waiting for her son. The children also vent their frustration over the shutdown of internet and mobile phone services during the protests.

Five years ago, Australian art therapist Dena Lawrence conducted some art lessons with young people in the valley. She found black was the predominant colour in their paintings, and most of them reflected “anger, rage and depression”.

Kashmiri artist Masood Hussain, who has been judging art competitions for children aged four to 16 for the past four decades, says their subjects have changed.

“They have gone from the serene to the violent,” he tells me. “They draw red skies, red mountains, lakes, flowers and houses on fire. They draw guns and tanks, fire-fights and people dying on the street.”

Arshad Husain, a Srinagar-based psychiatrist, says the artwork of the children in the valley betrays their collective trauma.

“We think children are too young to understand. That’s not true. They absorb and assimilate everything around them. They express it in their own way,” he says.

“Mind you, most of this artwork is coming from children who stayed at home. Imagine the children on the streets who are closer to the violence.”

It is all reminiscent of children’s art inspired by 9/11: weeping children, the twin towers on fire and being yanked off the ground by Osama Bin Laden against a blood-red skyline, a scarred girl wearing an I Love New York T-shirt.

In Kashmir, where fairy tales quickly turn into nightmares, hope is not extinguished yet.

Let our future be bright, make us educated, don’t make this crisis a reason for darkness, pleads a girl in a drawing. It’s never too late.

Illustrations gathered from children in Indian-administered Kashmir

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-39801538

 

Ing’s Peace Project and Far Brook School & ST. Philips Academy in Newark, Ben’s 2nd grade and two 4th grade classes also, the adults Comments and artworks during 05.10-15.2012, organized by Joanne Leone and Rebecca Champbell.  Finished artwork, after the written comments by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts 

The following are Far Brook School and ST. Phillips Academy in Newark, NJ, Ben’s 2nd grade and two 4th grade classes also, the adults Comments and artwork on “What does Peace mean to you?” Shadow of Peace poster 5:

Singing, drawing

Running, Jumping, Flying

Planting as a community

The Beach

Notes

Kissing my Mom

School makes me peaceful

Sitting

Link to Far Brook School and St. Phillips Academy in Newark, NJ page:

http://ingpeaceproject.com/1-academy-street-firehouse-youth/3-far-brook-school-and-st-phillips-in-newark-nj/

I included “Ing’s Peace Project and Far Brook School & ST. Philips Academy in Newark, Ben’s 2nd grade and two 4th grade classes also, the adults Comments and artworks”, into this project because I would like to show how the children in a country without war expressed in writing and artwork.  Their comments and artwork are opposite. When adults make decisions to do something, they have to keep in mind how it is going to affect little children.  This can apply to families that have no war experience, but when parents fight or neglect children then the result will be as bad as affects on children in the war torn countries, such as is expressed in the following news on, “Texas toddlers die ‘after left intentionally in car for 15 hours’”.

 

Texas toddlers die ‘after left intentionally in car for 15 hours’

June 10, 2017,  BBC News from the section US & Canada

Two young sisters have died in Texas after their mother allegedly left them in a car for 15 hours in temperatures of up to 32C (90F).

Amanda Hawkins, 19, left the girls, aged one and two, in the car at 21:00 on Tuesday (03:00 GMT Wednesday) to visit friends nearby, police said.

Her daughters cried during the night but she ignored them, a sheriff said, and returned only at noon the next day.

Ms Hawkins has been charged with two counts of child endangerment.

Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer said it was the worst such case he had seen in 37 years on the force.

Hot car deaths: The children left behind

Ms Hawkins left one-year-old Brynn Hawkins and two-year-old Addyson Overgard-Eddy in the car to visit a 16-year-old male friend and others at a house in the town of Kerrville, 65 miles (105 km) north-west of San Antonio.

The sheriff said the male friend had at some point slept in the car alongside the children but they were not let out.

Ms Hawkins finally took the children out at noon the next day and found them unconscious.

She tried the bathe them, the sheriff said, but fearing she would get into trouble did not seek medical help immediately.

‘Smelling flowers’

Only after a friend suggested it did she take them to the nearby Peterson Regional Medical Center.

She reportedly told staff that she, the teenage male and the children had been at a nearby lake and the girls had “collapsed after smelling flowers”.

“They thought maybe they’d gotten into something poisonous – that’s what the story was,” Sheriff Hierholzer told the CNN affiliate station KABB.

“She left them in the car – intentionally in the car – while her and the 16-year-old male friend were in the house,” he said.

The girls were quickly taken to the University Hospital in San Antonio but died at about 17:00 on Thursday.

Police say the charges may now be upgraded.

Ms Hawkins’ husband was reportedly not present during the incident.

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40234401

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts’s Commment:

I was preparing the project about article, “The stolen childhoods of Kashmir in pencil and crayon”.  I feel very bad and sad for the children in Kashmir.  This morning I went to the BBC News website to check on the current news; I found the news article, “Texas toddlers die ‘after left intentionally in car for15 hours”.  This news provoked my thoughts about human behavior in all parts of the world.  One has to be educated and conscious in everything everywhere.  An accident can happen anytime and anywhere but if the result of the accident came for ignorant or selfishness people then we have to exam the way that society behaves.  It is so sad when bad things happen to anyone but it is worse when that accident causes innocent children to suffer or lose their lives from the adult’s action.

 

 Face to the Sun with Three Generations

Grandpa helping with the baby carriage

Mother walks close to her son

In the parameter of the sun rays

Their shadows shine upon the ground

Older generation passing all

To the next generation

Forming a link of chain

Continuing to nurture and progress

When war comes

Just like an axe

Cutting the link

With separation and despair

The end of the link become weak

Facing the world alone

No one care

For all the adults and the leaders of countries at war

Remember that your children are going to suffer

From the action that you created

Wise men and women will want

To see their children grow and glow

Then peace will come

When you are closing your eyes

And taking your last breath on earth

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Monday, June 1, 2017, 9:14 pm

On Friday, May 31, 2017 about 5 pm I was walking our grandson home from the play ground at the Military Park.  Just before we reached to the intersection of Halsey Street and New Street I met my husband and our daughter wanting to see me and our grandson in the park.  We decided to walk home.  I saw the evening sun rays shining on my husband, daughter and grandson, and the three shadows cast upon the ground.  I took some photos of this image with my camcorder.  When I saw the pictures I decided to write a poem about this beautiful moment.

I saw the article from the BBC News on “The stolen childhoods of Kashmir in pencil and crayon”.  I thought about my poem, in which I talked about the war torn countries causing so much trouble to all their citizens, especially the children, who will suffer the most.

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Desert on Fire, Qayyarah, Northern Iraq

Desert on Fire, Qayyarah, Northern Iraq

By Namak Khoshnaw and Daniel Silas Adamson, 5 April 2017

Early in summer 2016, the so-called Islamic State set fire to one of Iraq’s largest oil fields.

It has taken Iraqi firefighters 10 months to put the flames out.

The smoke has poisoned the air, the land, and the water across a vast region of Northern Iraq.

Photos from the charity Oxfam reveal how difficult life has been for the people of Qayyarah, since the Islamic State group fled their town.

 

Ali Hassan, his wife Fatima Mahmoud and their three children have been living next to a burning oil well.

Black smoke from the blaze filled their home.

Fatima said she was always cleaning, but the dirt just kept coming.

Mahmoud Ali’s house was ruined by an oil fire that raged for two months outside his front door.

The walls are blackened and the floors thick with tar.

Mahmoud used to be a policeman before the IS group took control of Qayyarah.

He was displaced by the conflict and recently returned to find his home in ruins.

Oxfam has been trying to make Qayyarah’s water supply safe to drink with deliveries of chlorine to the local treatment plants.

The charity’s staff there have been told by local people that up to 60 homes were completely burned in the oil fires.

But many more became uninhabitable because of the oil bubbling in and around them.

From above

In summer 2016, with the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces advancing west towards Qayyarah, fighters from so-called Islamic State rigged the wellheads with explosives.

The jihadists then shot at them from the roofs of nearby houses. Their hope was that the smoke would provide cover against airstrikes.

As the fires took hold, the wellheads collapsed into craters of burning oil that darkened the sky and sent toxic fumes into the villages beyond.

Control area information:
Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit

Satellite imagery:
Google, Nasa, Unitar-Unosat
(Cnes/Spot Image, DigitalGlobe,
Landsat/Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA, US Navy, NGA, Gebco)

Nasa’s Landsat 8 caught the first signs of trouble in June 2016

The satellite spotted a cloud of dark smoke blooming in the desert of Northern Iraq – about 60km (37.5 miles) south of Mosul.

By October, around 20 oil wells were on fire.

As recently as 25 February 2017, Nasa’s heat-detecting satellites appeared to show several distinct clusters of fires.

Now, in early April, the last of the wells around Qayyarah have finally been extinguished.

But the landscape remains heavily polluted and the clean-up operation is expected to take many months.

Extinguishing an oil fire is a major technical undertaking, even in peacetime.

But the Iraqi government fought these fires on the edge of a war zone, at a time when most of its resources are still deployed in the battle against the so-called Islamic State.

Before Iraqi engineers could even approach these flames, they had to clear the surrounding land of hundreds of improvised explosive devices planted by IS.

No-one knows how many IEDs remain.

The men battling to put out the fires used to work in the oil fields that underpinned Qayyarah’s economy.

But in the past year they have been working eight-hour shifts on the edge of these apocalyptic craters, withstanding intense heat and breathing air that stinks of burning tar.

Close to the edge of craters, pockets of oil and gas ignited without warning.

Excavators dumped load after load of damp sand on to the flames, while men with high-pressure water hoses struggled to keep the machinery cool enough to function.

On some days in Qayyarah the air was so thick with black smoke that it completely blocked out the sun.

In the acrid smoke, children playing out of doors began to struggle for breath and scratch at rashes on their skin.

Their eyes reddened and their lungs burned from smoke that contained carbon dioxide, acidic aerosols, and toxic metals such as lead and mercury.

A film of stinging, abrasive grease settled on people’s clothes and hair.

Boys played on the smouldering remains of extinguished fires, or threw stones into lakes of crude oil that pooled on the surface.

When they cleaned their teeth, they spat blackened toothpaste into the sink.

The public health crisis was exacerbated in October last year when the IS group set fire to a sulphur factory in Al-Mishraq, just north of Qayyarah.

A cloud of sulphur dioxide and sulphuric acid spread across Iraq, reaching south as far as Baghdad and northwest into Turkey and Syria.

A UN report found that over a period of just three days in that month, when the sulphur fire was still burning, more than 1000 people were treated for respiratory complaints and skin conditions caused by smoke from the factory fire and oil wells.

Also in October, a doctor in the nearby village of Haji Ali, Basima Obnar Mohammed, told Oxfam that she was treating around 20 children every day for breathing difficulties and gastritis caused by drinking polluted water.

“They need steroid cream for their skin,” she told the charity, “but we have a shortage of medicine.”

In the polluted air, the sheep on which many families in Qayyarah depend became black, sick and starving.

Soot settled on the animals’ grazing land and sank into the water they drank.

Full circle – a 360 view

See the smoke and flames in Qayyarah up close in this video from January 2017.

Use your mouse, trackpad or arrow buttons to look left, right, up and down.

It will not work in the Safari web browser – and is best experienced on the YouTube mobile app.

Find out more

BBC News: Islamic State conflict

Oxfam

 

Credits

Authors

Namak Khoshnaw and Daniel Adamson

Producer

Paul Kerley

Drone Footage

Joey L / Oxfam

Photos/Credits

Oxfam

Sam Tarling

Abbie Trayler-Smith

Tegid Cartwright

Joey L

Video Production

James Percy

Satellite Imagery

Google, Nasa, Unitar-Unosat

(Cnes/Spot Image, DigitalGlobe,

Landsat/Copernicus, Data SIO, NOAA,

US Navy, NGA, Gebco)

Iraq control information

Conflict Monitor by IHS Markit

Editor

Kathryn Westcott

Built with

Shorthand

Publication date

6 April 2017

All images subject to copyright

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/desert_on_fire

Ing-OnVibulbhan-Watts’ Comments:

I love all kinds of artwork. I love nature and I am interested in science, new inventions or exploration under the sea or outer space.  So I put most of my time into these subjects.

When I watch the news that shows wars and corruption from all types of professions I tend to ignore them because they cause me to be unhappy and feel like giving up everything.  Then I happen to read or watch an article about war, and feel like someone has hit me on the head.  I feel very unhappy and depressed.  Just yesterday I read BBC News’ article called, “Desert on Fire”.

 I never get used to seeing how a person or a group of people can be so vicious and cause so much trouble without remorse or any human decency.  How can some humans grow up to be so destructive and cruel?  I take care of our sixteen month old grandson, playing with him, seeing his cute little body running away from me with innocence and freedom. 

How, and why, can some of these innocent little ones become so vicious, adding more people to become part of destructive groups who want power and possessions and everything around them their way? 

Do we adults everywhere in the world question whether we feed these innocent little ones greed and uncivilized thoughts? 

Let us be more conscious about how we educate and raise our younger generations.  Let us not blame anybody but be more concerned and ask ourselves the following.

Do we do our best to cultivate and care for every youngster to be mentally and physically healthy to create a peaceful civilization?    

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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A Change in Diet may have Helped our Brains get so Big

A Change in Diet may have Helped our Brains get so Big

Many anthropologists think that living in large social groups drove the evolution of bigger brains, but new findings call that into question

By Melissa Hogenboom, 27 March 2017

There are bones hidden away in almost every cupboard in many of the rooms of New York University’s primatology department, and James Higham is keen to explain to me what they can tell us about an important part of our evolution: why we have such big, heavy brains.

He shows me hordes of lemur skulls, as well as casts of our extinct relatives.

Of particular interest to him are the sizes of their braincases. After studying this feature in primates including monkeys, lemurs and humans, he and his colleagues have presented an intriguing new idea as to why our brains are so large.

Orangutans live in very small groups (Credit: Mervyn Rees/Alamy) 

The reason why some primates have bigger brains than others is often said to be their social behaviour. That is, primates that move around in bigger and more complex social groups require bigger brains in order to efficiently manage all of those social relations.

The new analysis found that diet – not social group size – was the key factor linked to brain size

This theory has been around for over two decades, and is called “the social brain hypothesis”.

Following a large-scale analysis of primates, Higham and his colleague Alex DeCasien are confident that the social brain theory does not tell the whole story. 

Rather, brain size is more accurately predicted by primates’ diet, according to their new study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

To come to this conclusion, the team, led by DeCasien, put together a dataset of 140 primate species, including animals like the aye-aye and several species of gibbon. This allowed them to study the relationship between the size of primate brains and several social factors, such as group size and social structure.

Skulls of an adult male lemur, vervet monkey, gibbon, baboon, chimpanzee, and human (Credit: Megan Petersdorf) 

They tell me that this is the first time such a large dataset has been used to explore the idea. When the social brain hypothesis was formulated, it did not consider primates like orangutans, which have large brains despite often living solitary lives.

The new analysis found that diet – not social group size – was the key factor linked to brain size.

That is not to say that social group size plays no role in the evolution of large brains

It has long been known that fruit-eating primates (frugivores) tend to have bigger brains than leaf-eating primates (folivores), says Higham.

This might be because there are benefits to eating fruit. It has a higher nutritional value and is far easier to digest than leaves.

However, it is also a more demanding diet in some ways. For instance, fruit is more patchily distributed in both space and time, which makes the task of finding food more complex, says Higham.

That is not to say that social group size plays no role in the evolution of large brains, say the authors.

Skulls of an adult male spider monkey and a howler monkey (Credit: Megan Petersdorf)

Because fruit can be less abundant than leaves, frugivores often travel across larger ranges. They tend to form larger social groups for those long journeys. 

All of these things are co-evolving

“If there’s another group in that fruit tree, what determines which group ends up holding the fruit is usually just about group size,” says Higham.

In other words, the larger the group, the easier it will be to “push the smaller group out” when competing for food.

“All of these things are co-evolving, but the main problem with the social brain hypothesis is that it’s explicitly saying that this one force is contributing more than another force,” says DeCasien.

“If you want to break it down like that, our study shows that it’s the opposite force [diet] that is contributing more,” she adds.

DeCasien and Higham are aware that their findings will have their critics.

The new study says brain size is better predicted by diet than social complexity (Credit: Dr. James Higham)

I put their conclusions to the researcher behind the social brain hypothesis, Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford in the UK. He contests the findings.

First, Dunbar says that it is not overall brain size that is the important factor. Instead, it is the size of a particular part of the brain called the neocortex, which plays an important role in cognition, spatial reasoning and language.

“There is an important distinction between neocortex volume and brain volume,” says Dunbar. “The original social brain analyses showed that social group size does not correlate especially well (if at all) with total brain size, but only with neocortex size… That would be difficult to reconcile with their claim.”

Second, Dunbar points out that social group size and diet need not be two alternative explanations of brain evolution.

“Both are necessarily true,” he says. In line with DeCasien and Higham, Dunbar thinks these features must be connected at a deep level. “You cannot evolve a large brain to handle anything, social or otherwise, unless you change your diet to allow greater nutrient acquisition, so as to grow a larger brain,” he says. 

However, Dunbar still maintains that social group size, not diet, is the key driving force.

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For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170327-why-our-brains-grew-so-big

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Happy Mother’s Day to Every Mother on Earth

Happy Mother’s Day to Every Mother on Earth

We appreciate your hardship carrying us through nine months and raising us with love and care.

The real reasons why child birth is so painful and dangerous

There is a long-standing idea that it is because we walk upright, but new research suggests that might not be the whole story

By Colin Barras, 22 December 2016

Giving birth can be a long and painful process. It can also be deadly. The World Health Organization estimates that about 830 women die every day because of complications during pregnancy and childbirth – and that statistic is actually a 44% reduction on the 1990 level.

“The figures are just horrifying,” says Jonathan Wells, who studies childhood nutrition at University College London in the UK. “It’s extremely rare for mammalian mothers to pay such a high price for offspring production.”

So why exactly is childbirth so risky for humans? And is there anything we can do to further reduce those death rates?

Hominins have walked upright for millions of years (Credit: Juan Manuel Borrero/naturepl.com)

Scientists first began thinking about the problem of human childbirth in the middle of the 20th Century. They soon came up with an idea that seemed to explain what was going on. The trouble began, they said, with the earliest members of our evolutionary lineage – the hominins.

From an early date in our prehistory, hominin babies may have had to twist and turn to pass through the birth canal

The oldest hominin fossils so far found date back about seven million years. They belong to animals that shared very few of our features, except perhaps one: some researchers think that, even at this early stage, hominins were walking upright on two legs.

To walk on two legs efficiently, the hominin skeleton had to be pushed and pulled into a new configuration, and that affected the pelvis.

In most primates the birth canal in the pelvis is relatively straight. In hominins, it soon began to look very different. Hips became relatively narrow and the birth canal became distorted – a cylinder that varied in size and shape along its length.

So from an early date in our prehistory, hominin babies may have had to twist and turn to pass through the birth canal. This would have made birth a far more difficult task than it had been previously.

Then things got even worse.

Most hominins walked upright (Credit: P. Plailly/E. Daynes/Science Photo Library)

About two million years ago, our hominin ancestors began to change again. They lost their more ape-like features such as a relatively short body, long arms and small brain. Instead they began to gain more human-like ones, like taller bodies, shorter arms and bigger brains.

That last trait in particular was bad news for female hominins.

I was going to find evidence that supported the obstetric dilemma, but very soon everything came crashing down

Big-brained adults start out life as big-brained babies, so evolution came into conflict with itself. On the one hand, female hominins had to maintain a narrow pelvis with a constricted birth canal in order to walk efficiently on two legs. But at the same time the foetuses they carried were evolving to have larger heads, which were a tighter and tighter fit through those narrow pelvises.

Childbirth became a distressingly painful and potentially lethal business, and it remains so to this day.

In 1960, an anthropologist called Sherwood Washburn gave this idea a name: the obstetrical dilemma. It is now often called the “obstetric dilemma”. Scientists thought it explained the problem of human childbirth perfectly. Many still think it does.

But some, including Wells, are no longer happy with this standard explanation. In the last five years, Wells and several other researchers have begun to push against the classic story of the obstetric dilemma.

They think Washburn’s idea is too simplistic, and that all sorts of other factors also contribute to the problem of childbirth.

 Many women use pain relief during labour (Credit: Science Photo Library/Alamy)

Holly Dunsworth of the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, was drawn to the obstetric dilemma while she was still a grad student. “I thought it was so exciting, I was going to find evidence that supported the obstetric dilemma,” she says. “But very soon everything came crashing down.”

We have bigger babies and longer pregnancies than you would expect

The problem was with the predictions Washburn made. “When Washburn wrote his article, he was actually saying that the obstetric dilemma was solved by giving birth to babies at a relatively early stage in their development,” says Wells.

Go back to that moment two million years ago when human brains began to grow larger. Washburn suggested that humans found a solution of sorts: shortening the length of the human pregnancy. Human babies were forced out into the world earlier than they really should be, so that they were still relatively small, with diminutive, underdeveloped brains.

Washburn’s explanation seems logical. Anyone who has held a newborn can appreciate how underdeveloped and vulnerable they are. The standard view is that other primates hold onto their pregnancies for longer and give birth to babies that are more developmentally advanced.

But, says Dunsworth, it is simply not true.

Some animals, like this baby common eland (Taurotragus oryx), can walk straight after being born (Credit: blickwinkel/Alamy)2

“We have bigger babies and longer pregnancies than you would expect,” she says.

Women give birth to babies with larger brains than we would expect

In an absolute sense human pregnancies are long. They typically last 38-40 weeks, whereas a chimpanzee pregnancy is 32 weeks long, and gorillas and orang-utans give birth after about 37 weeks.

As Dunsworth and her colleagues explained in a 2012 paper, this remains true even if we adjust the pregnancy durations to take into account differences in body mass. Human pregnancies last 37 days longer than they should do for an ape our size.

The same thing applies for brain size. Women give birth to babies with larger brains than we would expect of a primate with the average woman’s body mass. This means that a key prediction of Washburn’s obstetric dilemma is incorrect.

There are other problems with Washburn’s idea too.

Male (left) and female (right) human pelvises (Credit: Visuals Unlimited/naturepl.com)

A central assumption of the obstetric dilemma is that the size and shape of the human pelvis – and the female pelvis in particular – is highly constrained by our habit of walking upright on two legs. After all, if evolution could have “solved” the problem of human childbirth by simply making women’s hips a little wider and the birth canal a little larger, it surely would have done so by now.

The birth canal is extraordinarily variable in size and shape

In 2015, Anna Warrener at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and her colleagues questioned this assumption.

The researchers collected metabolic data from male and female volunteers who were walking and running in the lab. Volunteers with wider hips were no more inefficient at walking and running than their narrow-hipped peers. From purely energetic considerations, at least, there does not seem to be anything stopping humans evolving wider hips that would make childbirth easier.

“The basic premise of the obstetric dilemma – that having a small or narrow pelvis is best for biomechanical efficiency – is likely not correct,” says Helen Kurki of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

Kurki was not involved with Warrener’s study, but her own research has identified yet more problems for the traditional obstetric dilemma hypothesis.

Childbirth is notoriously painful (Credit: Blend Images/Alamy)

If the female pelvis really is tightly governed by two opposing forces – the need to be narrow for walking and the need to be wide for giving birth – the shape of the birth canal should vary little between women. It should be “stabilised” by natural selection.

Pregnant women sometimes joke that their developing foetus feels like an energy-sapping parasite

But after analysing hundreds of human skeletons, Kurki reported in 2015 that the birth canal is extraordinarily variable in size and shape. It varies even more than the size and shape of human arms, a trait that is known to vary between individuals.

“I think my findings do support shifting attitudes to the obstetric dilemma,” says Kurki.

Washburn’s tidy narrative does not seem quite as satisfying as it once did. There has to be something else going on.

Dunsworth thinks she has identified one important missing piece in the puzzle: energy.

“We max out toward the end of pregnancy,” says Dunsworth, herself a mother. “Those last weeks and months of pregnancy are tiring. They are pushing right against the possible sustainable metabolic rates in humans. It has to end at some point.”

Evolution could, in principle, make the pelvis larger – but it has not had to

Pregnant women sometimes joke that their developing foetus feels like an energy-sapping parasite. In a sense it really is, and its energy demands grow with every passing day.

In particular, human brains have an almost insatiable appetite for energy. Growing a second, tiny brain inside the womb can push a pregnant woman close to the edge, metabolically speaking.

Dunsworth calls this idea the energetics of gestation and growth (EGG) hypothesis. It suggests the timing of childbirth is governed by the difficulties of continuing to nourish a developing foetus beyond 39 weeks – not by the difficulties of squeezing the baby out through the birth canal.

This CT scan shows the size of a full-term foetus (Credit: Cultura Creative RF/Alamy)

Dunsworth thinks people obsess too much about the tight fit between a baby’s head and its mother’s birth canal. It might seem too much of a coincidence that the two are so closely size-matched, but she says the pelvis has simply evolved to be the size it needs to be. Evolution could, in principle, make the pelvis larger – but it has not had to.

For most of human evolution, childbirth might have been quite a lot easier

By and large, Kurki shares this view. “The obstetric canal is big enough, the majority of the time, for the foetus to pass through,” she says.

This is true. But even so, take another look at the maternal mortality figures: 830 deaths every day. Even among women who do not lose their lives during childbirth, some studies say the process leads to life-changing but non-lethal injuries in as many as 40% of cases. The price women pay for childbirth seems extraordinarily high.

Wells agrees. “It’s impossible to imagine the problem has been this bad over the long term.”

Perhaps it has not. In 2012, Wells and his colleagues took a look at the prehistory of childbirth, and came to a surprising conclusion. For most of human evolution, childbirth might have been quite a lot easier.

Homo erectus may have found birth easier than we do (Credit: Volker Steger/4 Million Years of Man/Science Photo Library)

The prehistory of childbirth is a difficult subject to study. The hominin pelvis is rarely preserved in the fossil record, and newborn skulls are even thinner on the ground. But from the meagre evidence available it seems that some earlier species of human, including Homo erectus and even some Neanderthals, had a relatively easy time of it when it came to giving birth.

A shift to farming may have led to developmental changes that made childbirth far more difficult

In fact, Wells and his colleagues suspect childbirth might even have been a relatively minor problem in our species – at least to begin with. There are very few newborn baby skeletons among the human remains from early hunter-gatherer groups, which might hint that death rates among newborns were relatively low.

This situation changed a few thousand years ago. People began farming, and newborn baby skeletons became a far more common feature of the archaeological record, at least in some places.

If there was a rise in newborn death rates at the dawn of farming, there were almost certainly several factors involved.

Farming changed our bodies yet again (Credit: Jose Antonio Penas/Science Photo Library)

For instance, early farmers began living in relatively dense settlements, so transmissible disease probably became a far greater problem. Newborns are often particularly vulnerable when an infection is going around a community.

But Wells and his colleagues suspect a shift to farming also led to developmental changes that made childbirth far more difficult. A rise in infant mortality at the dawn of farming might be due in part to a raised risk of death during childbirth.

Human childbirth suddenly became more difficult about 10,000 years ago

There is one striking feature archaeologists have noticed when comparing the skeletons of early farmers with their hunter-gatherer ancestors. The farmers were noticeably shorter in stature, probably because their carbohydrate-rich diet was not particularly nutritious compared to the protein-rich hunter-gatherer diet.

This is a telling observation for those who study childbirth, says Wells, because there is evidence of a link between a woman’s height and the size and shape of her pelvis. In general, the shorter a woman, the narrower her hips. In other words, the shift to farming almost certainly made childbirth a little bit more challenging.

On top of that, the carbohydrate-rich diets that became more common with farming can cause a developing foetus to grow larger and fatter. That makes the baby harder to deliver.

Combine these two factors and human childbirth – which might have been relatively easy for millions of years – suddenly became more difficult about 10,000 years ago.

Pregnancy gets pretty exhausting (Credit: Blend Images/Alamy)

Something rather like this “farming revolution effect” replays whenever human diets become poorly nutritious – particularly if those diets also contain a lot of carbohydrates and sugars, which encourage foetal growth.

“We can make a simple prediction that the nutritional status of mothers should be associated with a local prevalence of maternal mortality and difficulties with giving birth,” says Wells. The statistics clearly follow such a pattern, suggesting that improving nutrition might be a fairly easy way to reduce maternal mortality.

Pregnant women have adapted to nourish their foetus for as long as they can

Both Dunsworth and Kurki think that Wells has identified something significant in his work – something that perhaps would only be evident to a researcher with the right background in nutrition and development.

“I’m so lucky that Jonathan is describing these complex issues from his perspective of human health,” says Dunsworth. “At the same time I’m approaching the problem from my perspective of human evolution.”

So we now have a new explanation for the difficulties of human childbirth. Pregnant women have adapted to nourish their foetus for as long as they can before it grows too large to feed internally. The female pelvis has adapted to be just the right size to allow this maximally-nourished foetus to travel through safely. And dietary changes in the last few thousand years have upset this fine balance, making childbirth risky – particularly for mothers who have a poor diet.

However, Dunsworth says that is probably not the end of the story.

A female chimp with her granddaughter (left) and son (Credit: Fiona Rogers/naturepl.com)

You do get something quite cute at the end, though (Credit: Tetra Images/Alamy)

Washburn’s ideas made good intuitive sense for decades, until Dunsworth, Wells, Kurki and others began to pick them apart. “What if the EGG perspective is too good to be true?” asks Dunsworth. “We have to keep searching and keep collecting evidence.”

This is exactly what other researchers are doing.

For instance, in 2015 Barbara Fischer of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Klosterneuburg, Austria and Philipp Mitteroecker of the University of Vienna, Austria took another look at the female pelvis.

A woman’s pelvis takes on a shape more conducive to childbirth in her late teens – when she reaches peak fertility

It seemed to them that Dunsworth’s EGG hypothesis – compelling though it is – could actually be seen as complementary to Washburn’s ideas, rather than disproving them entirely. Dunsworth agrees: she thinks many factors are involved in the evolution of modern childbirth.

Fischer and Mitteroecker investigated whether there is any correlation between female head size and pelvis size. Head size is heritable, at least to some extent, so women would benefit during childbirth if those with larger heads also naturally had a wider pelvis.

The researchers’ analysis of 99 skeletons suggested such a link does indeed exist. They concluded that a woman’s head size and her pelvic dimensions must somehow be linked at the genetic level.

“This does not mean that the [problem of childbirth] has been resolved,” says Fischer. But the problem would be even worse if there was no link between head size and pelvis width.

And there is another complication: women’s bodies change as they get older.

You do get something quite cute at the end, though (Credit: Tetra Images/Alamy)

A May 2016 study led by Marcia Ponce de León and Christoph Zollikofer at the University of Zurich, Switzerland examined pelvic data from 275 people – male and female – of all ages. The researchers concluded that the pelvis changes dimensions during the course of a woman’s lifetime.

Many babies are now born by Caesarean section

Their data suggested that a woman’s pelvis takes on a shape more conducive to childbirth in her late teens – when she reaches peak fertility. It then stays that way until around her 40th birthday, when it then gradually changes shape to become less suitable for childbirth, ready for the menopause.

The scientists suggest these changes make childbirth a little easier than it otherwise would be. They call this idea the “developmental obstetric dilemma” (DOD).

“The DOD hypothesis provides a developmental explanation for the variation in pelvic obstetric dimensions,” says Ponce de León.

If all these evolutionary pressures are acting on childbirth, is the process still changing and evolving even now?

A baby born by Caesarean section (Credit: Martin Valigursky/Alamy)

In December 2016, Fischer and Mitteroecker made headlines with a theoretical paper that addressed this question.

Earlier studies had suggested that larger babies have a better chance of survival and that size at birth is at least somewhat heritable. Together, these factors might lead the average human foetus to push up against the size limit imposed by the female pelvis, even though it can be fatal to push too far.

We all either did or didn’t arrive in the world through a pelvis

But many babies are now born by Caesarean section, an operation in which the baby is taken out of the mother’s abdomen without ever entering the birth canal. Fischer and Mitteroecker suggested that, in societies where C-sections have become more common, foetuses can now grow “too large” and still have a reasonable chance of survival.

In theory, as a consequence the number of women giving birth to babies that are too big to fit through their pelvis might have risen by 10 or 20% in just a few decades, at least in some parts of the world. Or, to put it in cruder terms, people in these societies might be evolving to have larger babies.

For now this is only an idea and there is no hard evidence that it is really happening. But it is an intriguing thought.

“We all either did or didn’t arrive in the world through a pelvis,” says Wells. “If we did, that pelvis mattered. And if we didn’t, that in itself is interesting.”

Ever since live birth evolved, babies have been constrained to some degree by the size of the birth canal. But maybe, for some babies at least, that is no longer true.

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For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20161221-the-real-reasons-why-childbirth-is-so-painful-and-dangerous

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World War 1 and American Art

World War 1 and American Art

The first major exhibition devoted to exploring the way in which American artists reacted to the First World War

Exhibition Info – Location: Fisher Brocks Gallery, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building

PAFA – Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is free every Sunday during World War I and American Art courtesy of the Presenting Sponsors, Exelon Foundation and PECO.

Coinciding with the centenary of America’s involvement with the war, World War I and American Art will be the first major exhibition devoted to exploring the ways in which American artists responded to the First World War.

The first major museum exhibition to revisit this unprecedented global event through the eyes of American artists, World War I and American Art will transform the current understanding of art made during the war and in its wake. The war’s impact on art and culture was enormous, as nearly all of the era’s major American artists interpreted their experiences, opinions and perceptions of the conflict through their work.

World War I and American Art is organized around eight themes: Prelude: The Threat of War; Hartley and Hassam: Tenuous Neutrality; Debating the War; Mobilization; Modernists and the War; Battlefields; The Wounded and the Healers; and Celebration and Mourning. Arranged to follow the narrative of the war itself, the exhibition will show how artists chronicled their experiences of the unfolding war as it crept closer to home and then involved them directly as soldiers, relief workers, political dissenters, and official war artists.

The exhibition includes numerous high-profile loans, among them John Singer Sargent’s monumental painting Gassed from the Imperial War Museums in London. This painting, which has not been seen in the United States since 1999, was part of a commission to demonstrate British-American cooperation during the war.

 

Gassed by John Singer Sargent, 1919, oil on canvas, 90 1/2 x 240 inches.  Courtesy of the Imperial War Museums, London

Gassed is based on a haunting scene the artist witnessed at an evacuation checkpoint—rows of British soldiers, their heads wrapped in gauze to protect eyes temporarily blinded by mustard gas, being led by orderlies to a dressing station. The painting, widely regarded as Sargent’s late masterpiece, conveys the waste and tragedy of conflict and is one of the most disturbing humanistic commentaries on war. 

Gassed brings together many of the themes that are essential to the story of the war and this exhibition: differing perspectives on the war and its larger meanings; the camaraderie of soldiers at camp and in the field; the harrowing pain of combat, the dignity of those who sacrifice for their country, and the heartbreaking realities of war, regardless of its justification.

Sargent and his fellow artists had a leading role in chronicling the impact of World War I, crafting images that affected public opinion, supporting the U.S. government’s mobilization efforts, and helping to shape the way soldiers were remembered in its wake. Some artists showed the efforts of the Red Cross and other relief workers, or the effect that the war had on women and families on the home front. Others witnessed the devastation brought by the war on cities and on bodies, producing work haunted by the experience. Once the war finally ended, artists produced major paintings that commemorated Armistice celebrations or memorialized its human toll.

 

 John Singer Sargent, Gassed, 1919, oil on canvas, 90 1/2 x 240 inches.  Courtesy of the Imperial War Museums, London

 

Claggett Wilson Flower of Death-The Bursting of a Heavy Shell-Not as It Looks, but as It Feels and Sounds and Smells, c.  1918-19, watercolor and pencil on paperboard, 17 x 22 7/8 inches  Smithsonian American Art Museum.

 

 Hugh Henry Breckenridge, The Pestilence, c. 1918, oil on canvas, 65 3/16 x 80 ¼ inches  Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Gift of the artist, 1928.10

Childe Hassam, Early Morning on the Avenue in May 1917, oil on canvas, 30 1/6 x 36 1/16 inches Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy.

Kerr Eby, Where Do We Go, c. 1919, lithograph, 18 x 23 inches National Gallery of Art, Washington.

George Benjamin Luks, Armistice Night, 1918, oil on canvas, 37 x 68 2/4 inches Whitney Museum of American Art.

Violet Oakley, Henry Howard Houston Woodward, 1921, oil on canvas, 53 x 35 inches Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. George Woodward, 1924.1

Gifford Beal, On The Hudson at Newburgh, 1918, oil on canvas, 36 x 58 ½ inches The Philips Collection, Estate of Gifford Beal, courtesy of Kraushaar Galleries, New York

World War I also unfolded when modernist art was being digested, adapted, and transformed by the American art world. Images made during the war reveal American artists in transition, using more experimental forms to capture the apocalyptic tenor of the conflict but also drawing on a straightforward realist manner to make the human experience accessible to their audience.

The exhibition features 160 works by 80 artists encompassing a broad variety of stylistic approaches, viewpoints, and experiences through paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints, photographs, posters, and ephemera. A diverse array of both well-known and under-recognized artists is represented including Ivan Albright, George Bellows, Charles Burchfield, John Steuart Curry, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, Henry Glintenkamp, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Carl Hoeckner, Mary Reid Kelley, George Luks, John Marin, Violet Oakley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Joseph Pennell, Jane Peterson, Horace Pippin, Debra Priestly, Man Ray, Boardman Robinson, Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, John Sloan, Edward Steichen, and Claggett Wilson. A small selection of work by contemporary artists who have confronted World War I’s legacy in their work will also appear, as well as a Fall 2016 exhibition of work by living military veterans in the Warrior Writers program in Philadelphia.


Community Education Programs

Born on the Battlefield: The Red Cross and World War I
February 25th, 2:00 pm (Lecture)

Observe and Create: The Artist Journal: A Scrapbook of Memories
March 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th, April 5, 11 – 3:30pm (Workshop)

Citizen Artists: World War I and the Creative Economy
March 11th and 12th, (Symposium and tours of special collections)

Observe and Create: Stamp, Stencil and Paint
March 18th, 11 – 3:00 pm (Workshop)

Family Arts Academy: Positive Postcards 
March 26th, 2:00 pm (Family art workshop)

Shoulder Arms and On Heights All is Peace at International House
March 30th, 7:00 pm (Film Screening)

Observe and Create: Exclamation!
April 8th, 11 – 3:00 pm, (Workshop)

The Process of Creation: Sabin Howard and the National WWI Memorial
April 8th, 2:00 pm (Lecture)


Press Coverage

New York Times: World War I – The Quick. The Dead. The Artists.

Washington Post: What Can Artists Do When the World Turns Ugly?

CBS: Positively Philadelphia: World War I and American Art

The Art Newspaper: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Honors Veterans

The New Criterion Highlights World War I and American Art

Newsworks: John Singer Sargent Painting on the Horrors of War Coming to Philly

Philadelphia Inquirer: Epic, ‘Harrowing’ Painting of War Travels to PAFA for Exhibit

Broad Street Review: PAFA’s World War I and American Art: How over there looked over here

Beyond PAFA

After the PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) presentation, World War I and American Art will travel to additional venues:

New-York Historical Society
May 26 - September 3, 2017

Frist Center for the Visual Arts
October 6, 2017 - January 21, 2018

For more on PAFA’s exhibitions on tour, click here.

Catalog: WORLD WAR I AND AMERICAN ART  (Now available for order)

For more information please visit the following link:

https://www.pafa.org/exhibitions/world-war-i-and-american-art

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was more than 38 million: there were over 17 million deaths and 20 million wounded, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The total number of deaths includes about 11 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians.

For more information please visit the following link:

World War I casualties – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties

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The men competing for love in the deserts of Chad, Africa

The men competing for love in the deserts of Chad, Africa

Monday, February 27, 2017

From BBC News, the section Africa

Pictures and words by Tariq Zaidi.

How the men of Chad’s Wodaabe culture put on their make-up and don their best clothes to impress would-be brides at a week-long festival.

Wodaabe men perform the “Yaake” ritual dance as part of the Gerewol, a week-long courtship ceremony in Chad. It must be one of the only African cultures which allows girls to take the lead in choosing their betrothed and even married women have the right to take a different man as a sexual partner. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

Wodaabe means “people of the taboo” – these are subgroups of Fulani and Tuareg, who have migrated around this part of Africa for centuries. Here a Wodaabe man wakes up as dawn breaks in the Sahel desert – his donkeys and very basic shelter his only possessions. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

The Wodaabes mostly live on milk and ground millet, with yoghurt, sweet tea and occasionally the meat of a goat or sheep. Here a child here shakes the milk in a calabash and churn it into yoghurt. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

Men start preparing for the Gerewol at daybreak. From early on there is a mounting sense of anticipation, as some years see more than 1,000 people gather for the festivities. The men paint their faces with make-up made from clay, stones and animal bones crushed and turned into a paste. Some men were said to paint their lips black with chemicals from batteries to emphasise their white teeth. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

This participant has shaved his hairline to elongate his forehead and is practising the eye-rolling, teeth-baring aspect of the dance, which shows off the features Wodaabe women find desirable.  Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

A Wodaabe family shelter from the blazing sun in their basic home. Their wooden beds house all their possessions and the whole family sleep together.  Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

A Wodaabe man pours his morning brew. Drinking tea is an important ritual in this culture. During Gerewol, men drink a tea made with fermented bark which is said to have a hallucinogenic effect, and also enables them to dance for hours on end. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

Preparations for the Gerewol festival are communal and everybody pitches in to help the men look their best. The hours the men spend on their clothes and make-up has led to the Wodaabe being called “the vainest tribe in the world”  Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

Some make-up is believed to have magical powers and the Wodaabe go to great lengths to secure it. The orange face powder is only to be found beside a special mountain near Jongooria in central Niger, and some clans must undertake a 1,400km (870-mile) round trip on foot to secure a supply. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

Gerewol only happens once a year, so the pressure and anticipation is huge and finding a wife is so important. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

Wodaabe men make some last-minute adjustments to their costumes for the night’s festivities, checking their reflections in brightly coloured pocket mirrors – indispensable accessories for the Wodaabe male. They look at them constantly, a bit like some people and their smartphones. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

Although the girls wear less make-up than the men, they also take great pride in their appearance, plaiting and decorating their hair. The tattoos on this girl’s face are caused by scarification at a young age and indicate tribal affiliations, as well as strength and valour.  Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

Here Wodaabe men grimace during the dance to show off their white teeth. The ostrich feathers in their hats emphasise their height. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

 A long line of Wodaabe men and boys, wearing bejewelled leather tunics and sparkling crowns and feathers, sways rhythmically backwards and forwards. Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

Two Wodaabe men take a break from dancing to catch their breath. The Gerewol festival is a gruelling test of endurance for the men, who dance for hours in stifling heat in the hopes of impressing a woman.  Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

This is the moment at the end of the week-long ceremony where, with the slightest of hands, a woman selects her husband at Gerewol. It all happens very subtly and quickly, she does not even look him in the eye. The festival is an inter-clan affair, in which women of separate lineages will pick men from opposing clans.  Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

At sunset the ostrich feathers in the mens’ caps resemble palm trees. They make the Wodaabe, already an incredibly tall and lean people, even taller. Once the week-long festival is over, the Wodaabe return to their day-to-day life as nomadic herders.  Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-39070587

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The Harbin International Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, 2017 in China

:) :) :) Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone :) :) :)

The Harbin International Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, 2017 in China

Harbin 2017: In China, a city made of ice

By CNN Staff

Updated 11:52 PM ET, Mon January 9, 2017

See the world’s best ice-sculptors in action 01:08

33rd Annual Harbin International Snow & Ice Festival kicked off January 5

At night, the massive sculptures are illuminated

(CNN)Always wanted to visit a real life winter wonderland, complete with its own ice castle?

Now’s your chance.

The Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival, famed for its gigantic illuminated sculptures, has officially kicked off in northern China.

The annual event, held in the capital of Heilongjiang Province, is now in its 33rd year.

The festival is made up of several themed zones. The main attraction is the Harbin Ice and Snow World, which covers more than 750,000 square meters and features up to 180,000 cubic meters of ice.

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/09/travel/harbin-winter-festival-china/

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Hundreds of Whales Dead after Mass Stranding in New Zealand

Thanks to the New Zealand people who are helping the stranded whales at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay, New Zealand

Hundreds of whales dead after mass stranding in New Zealand

By Ben Westcott, CNN

Updated 8:55 AM ET, Fri February 10, 2017

(CNN)Desperate efforts are underway to save dozens of pilot whales still alive after hundreds stranded themselves on a New Zealand beach, in the third largest mass stranding in the country’s history.

At least 250 whales were already dead of 400 found beached on Farewell Spit in Golden Bay on the tip of the South Island Friday, the Department of Conservation said in a statement.

Rescuers attempted to refloat more than 100 whales mid-morning, of which about 50 returned to sea.

However, another 80 to 90 whales who were freed re-stranded themselves in the same place just five hours later, Inwood said.

Thanks to the New Zealand people who are helping the stranded whales at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay in New Zealand

Hundreds of volunteers have come out to help the pilot whiles, pictured here at high tide.

Volunteers swoop on site

Hundreds of locals turned out to help keep the whales cool.

“There’s like two to three hundred car loads of people who have come to help, maybe three to four hundred people,” Department of Conservation Community Ranger Kath Inwood told CNN.

Cheree Phillips @Chazza1014

Just arrived at #farewellspit for sunrise to find whale stranding. Utterly, utterly heartbreaking. #stranding #whales #nz

12:51 PM – 9 Feb 2017

According to Inwood, the area regularly saw beached whales and many residents were already trained in keeping the animals comfortable and helping to refloat them.

“Lots of people will be there pretty quick and already have the knowledge and training to help effectively,” she said.

Work will stop overnight for the safety of volunteers, who could be in danger around the large, stressed animals.

More than 400 pilot whales stranded themselves on a New Zealand beach on the evening of Thursday February 9.

‘This is a huge one’

The whales were first spotted in the water late on Thursday night, by a department staffer, before being found on Farewell Spit on Friday morning.

“Normally (they) are between November and March and it’s not many years we don’t have one. (But) obviously this is a huge one compared to most years … mostly they’re in ones and twos,” she said.

The largest whale stranding in New Zealand took place in 1918, when 1,000 whales stranded themselves on Chatham Islands.

The second largest was in Auckland in 1985, when 450 ended up on a beach.

“You don’t usually get this many traveling at once, we have 180 once before but I think a lot of (answers as to why) are unknown really,” Inwood said. “There’s a lot of different theories.”

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/09/asia/new-zealand-whales-stranding/?iid=ob_article_organicsidebar_expansion

Hundreds of Whales Are Dead Following a Horrific Mass Stranding in New Zealand

George Dvorsky     Today 9:15am

 Image: AP

In what’s considered the largest mass stranding in decades, over 400

pilot whales have beached themselves on a New Zealand shore. Hundreds of whales died overnight, and rescuers are now frantically working to save the dozens of remaining whales who are clinging to life.

According to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC), 416 pilot whales had beached themselves at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay, at the northern tip of the country’s south island. When the DOC arrived on the scene, around 250 to 300 whales had already perished, and by the time dawn broke this morning, more than 70 percent of the whales were dead. DOC staff and dozens of volunteers are now trying to save the remaining 80 to 90 whales.

 Image: AP

For those trying to help, the sight must be truly horrific. Images from the scene show the beach littered with the large black-bodied corpses. The ones still alive are surrounded by rescue workers who are desperately trying to keep them cool, wet and and calm.

“It is one of the saddest things I have seen, that many sentient creatures just wasted on the beach,” noted volunteer rescuer Peter Wiles in The Guardian. The DOC has made a plea to the local community to come and help, and to provide towels, buckets, and sheets. Some rescuers have been working in the cold, wet conditions for upwards of nine hours straight. The response was incredible, and the DOC says no more volunteers are needed at this time.

The next opportunity to save the remaining whales is scheduled for noon tomorrow (Saturday) when the tide comes in. Frustratingly, the remaining whales were “refloated” at high tide earlier today (at about 10:30 am local time), but 90 of them came back and re-beached themselves. As social mammals, they were likely trying to stay close to their pod—the majority of which are now lying dead on the beach.

“We are trying to swim the whales out to sea and guide them but they don’t really take directions, they go where they want to go,” said DOC team leader in The Guardian. “Unless they get a couple of strong leaders who decide to head out to sea, the remaining whales will try and keep with their pod on the beach.”

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of whale strandings in the world; about 300 whales and dolphins beach themselves on the nation’s shorelines each year. Golden Bay is particularly conducive to strandings because of its shallow topography, which makes it difficult for whales to swim out once they’ve entered.

On top of that, pilot whales are notorious for stranding themselves. Entire groups of these whales will beach themselves on account of their strong social bonds. It’s possible that the whales got stuck when an old, sick, or injured whale got stranded, and its pod-mates swam to its aid. The stranding may also have something to do with the pilot whales’ compromised ability to use echo-location in shallow, gently sloping waters. These whales, which are the largest of the oceanic dolphins, prefer steep areas such as continental shelf edges. Farewell Spit, with its shallow waters, is a death trap.

This stranding is now considered the third largest in New Zealand’s recorded history. In 1918, over a thousand whales beached themselves on the Chatham Islands, and in 1985, 450 stranded themselves at Great Barrier Island off the coast of Auckland. Two years ago, 200 whales were killed in a mass stranding at Farewell Spit.

[DOC, Guardian]

For more information please visit the following link:

http://gizmodo.com/hundreds-of-whales-are-dead-following-a-horrific-mass-s-1792213145

Hundreds of whales die in mass stranding on New Zealand beach

Urgent plea issued for locals to drop work and school commitments and head to the remote beach to save surviving whales

Volunteers try to save whales at New Zealand beach after mass stranding

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin

@EleanorAingeRoy

Thursday 9 February 2017 22.52 ESTFirst published on Thursday 9 February 2017 17.47 EST

Rescuers are trying to save dozens of whales after a mass stranding on a New Zealand beach thought to be the largest in decades.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) discovered 416 pilot whales had beached themselves overnight at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay at the top of the South Island, with more than 70% dying by the time dawn broke on Friday.

DOC staff and dozens of volunteers were on hand on Friday morning trying to save the remaining 100 whales.

Peter Wiles, who was one of the first volunteers to reach Farewell Spit, told Fairfax New Zealand that the white bellies of the whale corpses were lined up on the sand and floating in the shallows. “It is one of the saddest things I have seen, that many sentient creatures just wasted on the beach.”

As the morning wore on, an urgent plea was issued for locals to drop work and school commitments and head to the remote beach to save the whales, bringing towels, buckets and sheets to keep them cool, calm and wet.

Andrew Lamason, a team leader for the DOC Takaka area, said the stranding was the largest in living memory, and although he had “no clue” why the whales had beached themselves this time, Golden Bay was conducive to strandings because of its shallow bay, which made it difficult for whales to swim out once they’d entered.

At high tide, at 10.30am, the 100 remaining whales were successfully refloated, but early in the afternoon at low tide 90 of them re-beached themselves. DOC staff and up to 500 volunteers are now focused on keeping the surviving whales as healthy as possible until the next high tide at lunchtime tomorrow.

Lamason said it was common for whales involved in a mass stranding to re-beach themselves, because they were social animals and would stay in close proximity to their pod, the majority of which were now lying dead on the beach.

“We are trying to swim the whales out to sea and guide them but they don’t really take directions, they go where they want to go. Unless they get a couple of strong leaders who decide to head out to sea, the remaining whales will try and keep with their pod on the beach.”

Lamason said whale strandings, which were common in Golden Bay, were an emotionally exhausting event and anyone who wasn’t fit and strong and equipped to cope with the trauma were advised to stay away from the beach and not participate in the rescue effort.

“It is cold, it’s wet and some of us have been in and out of the water for nine hours now, we can only cope with robust volunteers, not ones that are going to break down, which happens quite often.” he said.

“We are in the farthest corner of the universe here but now volunteers have started turning up en masse and there are hundreds of people here and they have brought food and supplies so they are prepared to be here all day and all night if needed.”

View image on Twitter

Farewell Spit in New Zealand. (Image: NASA)

 Cape Farewell is a headland in New Zealand 400 pilot whales who have become stranded at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay.

5:24 PM – 9 Feb 2017

Tony @Tonylean

The beach was still littered with the bodies of the nearly 300 dead pilot whales which died overnight, but plans for disposing of their bodies naturally at sea were on hold while rescuers “concentrated on the living”, Lamason said.

The stranding at Farewell Spit makes it the third largest whale stranding in New Zealand’s recorded history.

In 1918, 1,000 whales beached themselves on the Chatham Islands, and in 1985 450 stranded at Great Barrier Island off the coast of Auckland.

According to Project Jonah, a whale rescue group, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of whale strandings in the world, and on average about 300 whales and dolphins beach themselves on Kiwi shores every year.

The reasons for whales strandings are still unclear, but it is thought a combination of factors contribute, with old, sick and injured whales being particularly vulnerable. Navigational errors among pods are also common, especially when chasing food or coming close to shore to avoid predators such as orcas.

Since 1840, more than 5,000 whales and dolphins have beached themselves on New Zealand shores according to DOC records.

Strandings occur year round, but usually involve only one or two animals. DOC respond to about 85 events a year, usually involving just a single animal.

For more information please visit the following link:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/10/hundreds-whales-die-mass-stranding-new-zealand-beach

JamesKeye 

Direct causal evidence for this particular beaching may not be discoverable, but human action has been changing ocean chemistry, adding mechanical pollutants and turning the whole ocean into an acoustic combination hall-of-mirrors and shooting range for some time. Even if these activities are not the proximate cause of beaching, we’ve no right to destroy the ecological systems arrived at by billions of years of biophysical process….much less the sanctity of life there.

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Nobel Peace Prizes and other Nobel Prizes in other disciplines

Nobel Peace Prizes and other Nobel Prizes in other disciplines,

2016 and Previous Years

“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”
Mahatma Gandhi
The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1927
2 October, is the International Day of Non-Violence, marked on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was nominated for the #NobelPeacePrize a few days before he was murdered on 30 January 1948.
More on Gandhi and the #NobelPeacePrize at Nobelprize.org: http://goo.gl/eqkkHI

Nelson Mandela casts his vote in the first South African elections held without the discrimination of voters on grounds of race – on 27 April in 1994. It was the first time Mandela had voted in his life.
From Nelson Mandela’s 1993 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture:
“We stand here today as nothing more than a representative of the millions of our people who dared to rise up against a social system whose very essence is war, violence, racism, oppression, repression and the impoverishment of an entire people.”
To watch the lecture: http://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1855 #PeaceDay
Photographer: Paul Weinberg. License: CC BY-SA 3.0. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

 

Nobel Peace Prize For Colom bia’s Juan Manuel Santos
• 7 October 2016
• From the section Latin America & Caribbean
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the 52-year conflict with left-wing rebels.
The Nobel committee praised him for a peace deal signed with Farc rebels, but rejected by Colombians in a vote.
Mr. Santos said he dedicated the award to “all the victims of the conflict”, and the Farc leader congratulated him.
About 260,000 people have been killed and more than six million internally displaced in Colombia.
The award did not include Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, who also signed the accord.
• Who are the Farc?
• Colombia media hopeful over Santos peace prize
• Viewpoint: What next for Colombia?
• Santos: From hawk to dove
The head of the Nobel commitee said the award recognised the president’s “resolute efforts” to end the conflict.
“The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process,” Kaci Kullman Five added.
For more information please visit the following link:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37585188

Nobel Peace Prize For Colom bia’s Juan Manuel Santos
Juan Manuel Santo
• Born in Bogota in 10 August 1951 in an influential family
• Elected Colombian president in 2010 and re-elected in 2014
• Served as defence minister from 2006 until 2009
• Married, has two sons and one daughter
Sources: BBC Monitoring, Colombian presidency
For more information please visit the following link:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37585188

 Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos awarded Nobel Peace Prize for bid to end half-century conflict
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end a 52-year-old war with Marxist rebels, a surprise choice and a show of support after Colombians rejected a peace accord last Sunday. (Reuters)
By Michael Birnbaum and Nick Miroff October 7 at 2:22 PM
BRUSSELS — Five days after the worst defeat of his political career, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his dogged, but unfulfilled, effort to end a half-century of civil war.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it made the decision because of Santos’s landmark attempt to stamp out one of the world’s longest-running conflicts, which has killed more than 220,000 people and driven at least 7 million from their homes since 1964.
Juan Manuel Santos was recognized for his work to end a half-century conflict with Marxist rebels in his country.
For more information please visit the following link:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/colombia-president-juan-manuel-santos-awarded-nobel-peace-prize-for-efforts-to-bring-peace-to-his-nation/2016/10/07/c6e0d3c4-8a84-11e6-8cdc-4fbb1973b506_story.html

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos awarded Nobel Peace Prize for bid to end half-century conflict                                                                                                          Peace in Colombia
It Is a Good Example for Syrian Leaders
Peace for All Syrians and for Humanity as a Whole
‘Last armed conflict in western hemisphere’
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochenko, will sign an agreement at a ceremony on Monday, 26 September, 2016.
• From the section Latin America & Caribbean
http://www.bbc.com/news/video_and_audio/headlines/37469364
Colombia peace deal: Historic agreement is signed
Analysis, by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Cartagena:
The Farc’s 52-year fight
Image copyright Reuters
1964: Set up as armed wing of Communist Party
2002: At its height, it had an army of 20,000 fighters controlling up to a third of the country. Senator Ingrid Betancourt kidnapped and held for six years along with 14 other hostages
2008: The Farc suffers a series of defeats in its worst year
2012: Start of peace talks in Havana
2016: Definitive ceasefire
For more information please visit the following link:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37477202

Nobel Peace Prize
The heroines of peace-the 16 women awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize so far (1901-2015)
Celebrating Peace Day with the 16 Heroines of Peace
1905: Bertha von Suttner
1931: Jane Addams
1946: Emily Greene Balch
1976: Betty Williams
1976: Mairead Corrigan
1979: Mother Teresa
1982: Alva Myrdal
1991: Aung San Suu Kyi
1992: Rigoberta Menchu Tum
1997: Jody Williams
2003: Shirin Ebadi
2004: Wangari Muta Maathai
2011: Ellen Johnson Shirleaf
2011: Leymah Gbowee
2011: Tawakkol Karman
2014: Malala Yousafzai
For more information please visit the following link:
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Dr. Wangari Maathai, 2004 #NobelPeacePrize – Founder of a grass roots movement to combat deforestation, she “thought globally and acted locally”.
In 1977, Maathai started a grass-roots movement aimed at countering the deforestation that was threatening the means of subsistence of the agricultural population in Kenya.
The campaign encouraged women to plant trees in their local environments and to think ecologically. The so-called Green Belt Movement spread to other African countries, and contributed to the planting of over 30 million trees.
Wangari Maathai shared the Peace Prize “for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”. Her mobilization of African women was not limited in its vision to work for sustainable development; she saw tree-planting in a broader perspective which included democracy, women’s rights, and international solidarity.
In the words of the Nobel Committee: “She thinks globally and acts locally.”

Photo: Wangari Maathai (1940–2011) during an interview for Nobelprize.org in Stockholm, 2 April 2009. Photographer: Annalisa B. Andersson. © Nobel Media AB.
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Rest in Peace Mr. Shimon Peres. Your biggest contribution for your country and the world was to lay the groundwork for Peace between Israel and Palestine. It is now up to the citizens of Israel and Palestine to complete Shimon Peres dream of peace between these two countries, living side by side with prosperity in peaceful coexistence for all.
• Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Friday, September 30, 2016
Shimon Peres and Nelson Mandela, after a meeting at Mandela’s house in Houghton, Johannesburg, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2002.AP
The one thing Shimon Peres longed for in life remained out of his reach
How Shimon Peres’ last tweet reflected his forward-thinking spirit
Shimon Peres changed from hawk to dove ‘before my eyes,’ says author Amos Oz
For more information please visit the following link:
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.744917

• From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
• Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat receiving the Nobel Peace Prize following the Oslo Accords in 1994 for the Middle East Peace Process.
• From 1990 Peres led the opposition in the Knesset until, in early 1992, he was defeated in the first primary elections of the new Israeli Labor Party (which had been formed by the consolidation of the Alignment into a single unitary party) by Yitzhak Rabin, whom he had replaced fifteen years earlier.[29] Peres remained active in politics, however, serving as Rabin’s foreign minister from 1992.[29] Secret negotiations with Yasser Arafat’s PLOorganization led to the Oslo Accords, which won Peres, Rabin and Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize. But in 2002, members of the Norwegian committee that awards the annual Nobel Peace Prize stated they regretted that Mr Peres’ prize could not be recalled. Because he had not acted to prevent Israel’s re-occupation of Palestinian territory, he had not lived up to the ideals he expressed when he accepted the prize, and he was involved in human rights abuses.[56]
• For more information please visit the following link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimon_Peres                                                                                                Shimon Peres funeral: Leaders hail legacy of former Israeli leader
“Peace is not the pursuit of war by other means. Peace consists of putting an end to the red ink of past history and starting anew in a different color.”                               
Shimon Peres, 1996[54]
• BBC News from the section Middle East
• For more information please visit the following link:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37515057

Bob Dylan
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941 (age 75), Duluth, Minnesota, U.S.
Residence Malibu, California, U.S.
Other names Elston Gunnn, Blind Boy Grunt, Bob Landy, Robert Milkwood Thomas,
Tedham Porterhouse, Lucky Wilbury, Boo Wilbury, Jack Frost, Sergei Petrov
Occupation Singer-songwriter, artist, writer
Years active 1959–present[1]
Home town Hibbing, Minnesota, U.S.
Religion Judaism, Christianity
Spouse(s) Sara Dylan (m. 1965;div. 1977), Carolyn Dennis (m. 1986;div. 1992)
Children Maria Dylan (adopted), Jesse Dylan, Anna Dylan, Samuel Dylan, Jakob Dylan
Desiree Dennis-Dylan
Musical career
Genres Folk, blues, rock, country, gospel
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboards,harmonica
Labels Columbia, Asylum
Associated acts Joan Baez, The Band, Johnny Cash, Grateful Dead, George Harrison,
Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,Traveling Wilburys

BREAKING NEWS
The 2016 ?Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to
Bob Dylan
“for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
Prize motivation in Swedish:
“som skapat nya poetiska uttryck inom den stora amerikanska sångtraditionen”.
Age: 75
Born: May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, USA
Press release: goo.gl/xgiAKO
Biobibliographical notes in English: goo.gl/CXyTDt
Biobibliographical notes in Swedish: goo.gl/CXhZrj
Press material in French, German and Spanish will be available later this afternoon.
Biobibliographical notes
Bob Dylan was born on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. He grew up in a Jewish middle-class family in the city of Hibbing. As a teenager he played in various bands and with time his interest in music deepened, with a particular passion for American folk music and blues. One of his idols was the folk singer Woody Guthrie. He was also influenced by the early authors of the Beat Generation, as well as by modernist poets.
Dylan moved to New York in 1961 and began to perform in clubs and cafés in Greenwich Village. He met the record producer John Hammond with whom he signed a contract for his debut album, called Bob Dylan (1962). In the following years he recorded a number of albums which have had a tremendous impact on popular music: Bringing It All Back Home and High-way 61 Revisited in 1965, Blonde On Blonde in 1966 and Blood On The Tracks in 1975. His productivity continued in the following decades, resulting in masterpieces like Oh Mercy (1989), Time Out Of Mind (1997) and Modern Times (2006).
Dylan’s tours in 1965 and 1966 attracted a lot of attention. For a period he was accompa-nied by film maker D. A. Pennebaker, who documented life around the stage in what would come to be the movie Dont Look Back (1967). Dylan has recorded a large number of albums revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love. The lyrics have continuously been published in new editions, under the title Lyrics. As an artist, he is strikingly versatile; he has been active as painter, actor and scriptwriter.
Besides his large production of albums, Dylan has published experimental work like Taran-tula (1971) and the collection Writings and Drawings (1973). He has written the autobiog-raphy Chronicles (2004), which depicts memories from the early years in New York and which provides glimpses of his life at the center of popular culture. Since the late 1980s, Bob Dylan has toured persistently, an undertaking called the “Never-Ending Tour”. Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound, and he is the object of a steady stream of secondary literature.

Website bobdylan.com
Bob Dylan at Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, in June 2010
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 Nobel Prize
The official Nobel portrait photo of Svetlana Alexievich, awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”.
Photo: Alexander Mahmoud. © Nobel Media AB 2015.
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Nobel Prize
The 12 Nobel medicine women
1947: Gerty Theresa Cori
1977: Rosalyn Yalow
1983: Barbara McClintock
1986: Rita Levi-Montalcini
1988: Gertrude B. Elion
1995: Christiane Nusslein-Volhard
2004: Linda B. Buck
2008: Francoise Barre- Sinoussi
2009: Carol W. Greider
2009: Elizabeth H. Blackburn
2014: May-Britt Moser
2015: Youyou Tu
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Nobel Prizes 2016
Physics
– David J. Thouless
– F. Duncan M. Haldane
– J. Michael Kosterlitz
“for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”
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This year’s chemistry Nobel Prize has been awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for the design and synthesis of molecular machines. http://go.nature.com/2de9bsc
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The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 jointly to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa “for the design and synthesis of molecular machines”.
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Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa win 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Trio of Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa have won the prestigious 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has chosen them for this award for their individual efforts in developing molecular machines. These three laureates will share the 8 million Swedish kronor (around $933,000) prize equally. What are molecular machines? Molecular machines or nanomachines are the world’s smallest machines. Their working is inspired by proteins that naturally act as biological machines within cells. Molecular machines are discrete number of synthetic molecular components fused together. They produce quasi-mechanical movements in response to specific external stimuli such as light or temperature change. Molecular machines can be put to work as tiny motors, pistons ratchets or wheels to produce mechanical motion and can move objects many time their size. Future Potential Applications: Molecular machines can be developed to function as artificial muscles to power tiny robots or even prosthetic limbs in case of Bionics. They may lead to developments like new sensors, materials and energy storage systems. They can be used to deliver drugs within the human body directly to target a specific area of tissue to medicate or cancerous cells. They can be used to design of a molecular computer which could be placed inside the body to detect disease even before any symptoms are exhibited. Contributions of Jean-Pierre Sauvage (France): He had taken first step towards a molecular machine in 1983, after he successfully linkied together two ring-shaped molecules to form a chain. J Fraser Stoddart (Britain): In 1991, he threaded a molecular ring onto a thin molecular axle and successfully demonstrated that the ring was able to move along the axle. Bernard L Feringa (Netherlands): He is the first person to develop a molecular motor. In 1999 successfully designed molecular rotor blade to spin continually in the same direction. He also had designed nanocar using molecular motors.
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Nobel Prize
October 11 at 2:39pm •
Fraser Stoddart, awarded the 2016 #NobelPrize in Chemistry together with Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Bernard L. Feringa.
Photo: Denise Wilson, The University of Edinburgh
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Embassy of the Netherlands in Hungary with Ben Feringa and Nobel Prize.
October 10 at 12:19pm •
Dutch synthetic organic chemist Bernard L. Feringa receives Nobel Prize
Teamed up with Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, Prof. Feringa created the world’s smallest machines – molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added. “The 2016 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have miniaturised machines and taken chemistry to a new dimension” – the Nobel Committee`s laudation reads. Prof. Ben L. Feringa obtained his PhD. at the University of Groningen, where he was appointed full professor in 1988, after working as research scientist for Shell. Under his guidance the Feringa group has developed extensive expertise in the fields of organic chemistry, nanotechnology, asymmetric catalysis. His discovery of the molecular motor ranks highly among the many discoveries made over the years.
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Dutch synthetic organic chemist Bernard L. Feringa receives Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 is awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for their design and production of molecular machines. They have developed molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added. http://bit.ly/2e1Ll6H
2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded for World’s Tiniest Machines
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 to for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.
labmanager.com

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Nobel laureates in Physics

In 1910 Johannes Diderik van der Waals of Netherlands received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for his work on the equation of state for gases and liquids”[16]

In 1911 Wilhelm Wien of Germany received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for his discoveries regarding the laws governing the radiation of heat”[17]

In 1012 Nils Gustaf Dalén of Sweden received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for his invention of automatic valves designed to be used in combination with gas accumulators in lighthouses and buoys”[18]

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Nobel laureates in Physics
In 1908 Gabriel Lippmann of France received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for his method of reproducing colours photographically based on the phenomenon of interference”[14]

In 1909 Guglielmo Marconi of Italy and Karl Ferdinand Braun of Germany received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy”[15]

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Nobel laureates in Physics
In 1905 Philipp Eduard Anton von Lenard of Austria-Hungary & Germany received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for his work on cathode rays”[11]

In 1906 Joseph John Thomson of United Kingdom received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases”[12]

In 1907 Albert Abraham Michelson of United States received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations carried out with their aid”[13]

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Nobel laureates in Physics

The first Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 1901 to Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, of Germany, who received 150,782 SEK, which is equal to 7,731,004 SEK in December 2007.
“in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him”[7]

In 1902 Hendrik Lorentz, and Pieter Zeeman, of Netherlands received Nobel Prize in Physics
“in recognition of the extraordinary service they rendered by their researches into the influence of magnetism upon radiation phenomena”[8]

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Nobel Prize
Albert Einstein’s letter to Marie Curie in November 1911 when he told her to ignore the haters:
“Highly esteemed Mrs Curie,
Do not laugh at me for writing you without having anything sensible to say. But I am so enraged by the base manner in which the public is presently daring to concern itself with you that I absolutely must give vent to this feeling…”
Marie Curie was awarded the #NobelPrize in Physics 1903 and in Chemistry 1911. Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 1921.
Story on the letter: http://www.itsokaytobesmart.com/…/albert-einstein-marie-cur…
Also explore the Einstein Papers at: http://einsteinpapers.press.princeton.edu/
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“Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do – but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.”
Albert Einstein apparently scribbled this on a letter sent to him from a correspondent in 1933 – asking the influential Nobel Prize-awarded physicist if ‘perhaps it was while upside down, standing on their heads, that people fell in love and did other foolish things’?

The story is recorded in the book Albert Einstein, The Human Side: Glimpses from His Archives, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffmann with Ze’ev Rosenkranz (Princeton UP, 2013).
Photo: Einstein in the library of Paul Ehrenfest’s home. Leiden, 1916. Source: Boerhaave Museum (p08608). Public Domain. Via Wikimedia Commons.
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Nobel laureates in Physics
In 1904 Pierre Curie, (Maria Sk?odowska-Curie’s husband) of France and Maria Sk?odowska-Curie of Poland & France received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel”[9]

In 1904 Lord Rayleigh of United Kingdom received Nobel Prize in Physics
“for his investigations of the densities of the most important gases and for his discovery of argon in connection with these studies”[10]

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Nobel Prize
Marie Curie (née Sklodowska) is the only individual who has been awarded the #NobelPrize in both Physics (1903) and Chemistry (1911).
FAQ on Marie Curie: http://www.nobelprize.org/…/laure…/1903/marie-curie-faq.html
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Nobel Prize
Trivia about twice Nobel Prize-awarded scientist – and teacher – Prof. Marie Curie (1867–1934), center in photo with four of her students:

• She was born Maria Sk?odowska, the youngest of five children of a teaching couple.

• She attended an illegal “floating university” in her youth – a night school changing locations to elude authorities during a time of czarist Russia’s occupation of Poland, that forbade women to study at university.

• At age 16, Curie starts work as a private tutor and later governess to help support her elder sister Bronya’s medical schooling in Paris. The agreement is that Bronya will return the favour after graduating.

• Outside of work, Curie spends spare time teaching the illiterate children of her employer’s peasant laborers. She is 24 when she finally joins Bronya in Paris to begin studies at the University of Sorbonne.

• By the time of her marriage to physicist and collaborator Pierre Curie in 1895 (with whom she is awarded her first Nobel Prize in Physics 1903 for research on radiation), Marie holds two master’s degrees – in physics and math – and decides to earn a certificate that will allow her to teach science to young women.

• In 1897, she becomes the first lecturer at France’s most renowned teacher training institution for women, introducing lab work to the physics curriculum.

• In 1906 she becomes the first woman to teach at the University of Sorbonne.

• Also in 1906, Marie Curie helps start and run a cooperative school with a number of other professional parents who disapproved of the rigid French school system.

One of the pupils is Marie Curie’s oldest daughter Irène, who grows up to join her mother’s research staff at the Radium Institute, along with husband Frederic Joliot.

The couple Joliot-Curie discovered artificial radioactivity and were jointly awarded the 1935 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

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Sources: Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivty” by Naomi Pasachoff, online exhibit at the American Institute of Physics:https://www.aip.org/history/exhibits/curie/sitemap.htm
Nobelprize.org story on the Curies and their work:http://goo.gl/l471NC
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Photo: taken between 1910 and 1915 by unknown photographer. Source: Library of Congress. No known copyright restrictions.
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Colombian Peace Process

Colombian Peace Process

The Colombian peace process refers to the peace process between the Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC–EP) to bring an end to the Colombian conflict. Negotiations began in September 2012, and mainly took place in HavanaCuba. Negotiators announced a final agreement to end the conflict and build a lasting peace on August 24, 2016. However, a referendum to ratify the deal on October 2, 2016 was unsuccessful after 50.2% of voters voted against the agreement with 49.8% voting in favor. Afterward, the Colombian government and the FARC signed a revised peace deal on November 24 and sent it to Congress for ratification instead of conducting a second referendum.[1] Both houses of Congress ratified the revised peace accord on November 29-30, 2016, thus marking an end to the conflict.[2]

(wikipedia, for more information please visit the following link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colombian_peace_process )

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‘Last armed conflict in western hemisphere’
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochenko, will sign an agreement at a ceremony on Monday, September 26, 2016
• From the section Latin America & Caribbean
http://www.bbc.com/news/video_and_audio/headlines/37469364

Colombia’s President Santos says Farc deal must rebuild country
• Media caption Juan Manuel Santos: “The signature of the deal is simply the end of the conflict then the hard work starts”
• Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos says peace with the Farc rebel group will boost economic growth and enable the country to rebuild its social fabric.
• “War is always more costly than peace,” he said in an interview with the BBC.
• Mr Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochenko, will sign a historic peace deal later on Monday.
• But it will take a long time for Colombian society to recover from more than five decades of conflict, he said.
Juan Manuel Santos the Signature of the deal is simply the end of the conflict then the hard work starts

Colombia’s President Santos says Farc deal must rebuild country – BBC News    (bbc.com)

Mr Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez will sign the historic peace deal at a ceremony in the port city of Cartagena on Monday evening.
The document will be signed using a Baligrafo – a bullet turned into a pen – as a symbol of a peaceful future.
Some 2,500 attendees are expected, among them UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and several Latin American leaders including Cuba’s Raul Castro.
Victims of the conflict will also be present.

Timochenko travelled to Cartagena on Saturday for the historic ceremony
Image copyright AP Image caption

The Colombian government and left-wing Farc rebels have signed a historic agreement that formally brings an end to 52 years of armed conflict.
The rebel leader Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochenko, apologised to “all the victims of the conflict” and was greeted by cheers and applause.
He said: “I would like to ask for forgiveness for all the pain that we have caused during this war.”
Guests dressed in white at the ceremony in Cartagena, to symbolise peace.
The last of the major Cold War conflicts killed 260,000 people and left more than six million internally displaced.

• Timochenko said the Farc, which began as the armed wing of the Communist Party in 1964, is leaving armed conflict behind and moving in to peaceful politics.
• “We are being reborn to launch a new era of reconciliation and of building peace,” he said.
• “Let us all be prepared to disarm our hearts.”
• The president and Timochenko used a pen made from a bullet to sign the deal.

Analysis, by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Cartagena:
This was the first time Timochenko addressed the nation live on TV. He promised the Farc would give up its guns, and more than that, he asked for forgiveness.
It earned him a standing ovation. That would have been unthinkable not long ago.
But after 50 years of war, many Colombians still aren’t ready to forgive. As President Santos put it, the hard work of building peace now lies ahead.

Analysis, by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Cartagena:
Under the deal, the Farc will be relaunched as a political party. Correspondents say that although there is widespread hope that the deal may bring an end to the kidnappings and bloodshed that have blighted Colombia over five decades, it has also led to divisions in Latin America’s fourth-biggest economy.
Some people are angry that it allows rebels to enter parliament without serving time in prison.
Correspondents say President Santos has risked his political future on the success of the peace deal.

Analysis, by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Cartagena:
As Mr Kerry arrived in the country, he praised Mr Santos’ efforts to secure the deal and pledged $390m (£300m) to help implement it.
The US is not yet ready to remove the Farc from its list of terrorist organisations, he said, but is prepared to review that sanction once the peace agreement is up and running.

Farc rebels must now hand over weapons to the UN within 180 days.
But the smaller ELN rebel group is still active, as are right-wing paramilitary groups.

The Farc will be relaunched as a political party as part of the deal, which is due to be put to Colombian voters in a popular vote on 2 October.
“We could have grown between 2% and 3% more per year for the past 23 years,” Mr Santos told the BBC’s Lyse Doucet, adding that the conflict had also had a profound impact on Colombian society.
“We have even lost our compassion, which is the ability to feel some kind of pain for others.
“A country at war for 50 years is a country that has destroyed many of its values,” said President Santos.

Mr Santos said he was “very, very confident” that most Colombians would vote in favour of the deal.
“The latest polls say that between 65% and 70% of the people approve of the peace process,” he said
But he warned that if the agreement was rejected in the popular vote, the conflict would start again.
Image copyright AFP Image caption “The people vote yes to peace,” reads an sign in Cartagena
“We will go back six years and continue the war with the Farc. That’s plan B,” he said.
Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN (National Liberation Army), announced on Sunday a unilateral ceasefire until the referendum.
ELN leaders have publicly expressed their wish to engage in their own peace process with the Colombian government.
• President Juan Manuel Santos said: “Colombia celebrates, the planet celebrates because there is one less war in the world.
• We will achieve any goal, overcome any hurdle and turn our nation into a country we’ve always dreamed of – a country in peace.”
Analysis, by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Cartagena:
There was so much symbolism in this historic signing – a pen made from a bullet to sign the peace deal, the singing of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, everyone dressed in white.
President Santos said this historic moment was a message from Colombia to the world: no more war. “No more war,” the crowd chanted in return.

The deal comes after four years of talks in Havana, Cuba, between government and rebel negotiators. It must be approved by the Colombian people in a popular vote on Sunday before it can pass into law.
Polls indicate the majority of Colombians will vote for it, although there has been some opposition, led by ex-president Alvaro Uribe.

Dignitaries attending the ceremony included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban President Raul Castro.
Mr Ban told the ceremony: “You can look to the future with optimism. You are inviting Colombians to live in peace.”

Correspondents say most Colombians are expected to support the deal – these supporters have made a sign of the Spanish word for “peace” Image But some people are opposed to it – demonstrations against the deal were held in Cartagena on Monday
However, only hours before the signing, the EU announced it would suspend the Farc from its list.
“This decision will allow us to support the post-conflict programme and will be of benefit to all Colombians,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on social media.

Colombia peace deal: Historic agreement is signed
Analysis, by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Cartagena:
The Farc’s 52-year fight
Image copyright Reuters
1964: Set up as armed wing of Communist Party
2002: At its height, it had an army of 20,000 fighters controlling up to a third of the country. Senator Ingrid Betancourt kidnapped and held for six years along with 14 other hostages
2008: The Farc suffers a series of defeats in its worst year
2012: Start of peace talks in Havana
2016: Definitive ceasefire

• From the section Latin America & Caribbean
http://www.bbc.com/news/video_and_audio/headlines/37469364

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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37469149

Nobel Peace Prize For Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos
• 7 October 2016
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the 52-year conflict with left-wing rebels.
The Nobel committee praised him for a peace deal signed with Farc rebels, but rejected by Colombians in a vote.
Mr Santos said he dedicated the award to “all the victims of the conflict”, and the Farc leader congratulated him.
About 260,000 people have been killed and more than six million internally displaced in Colombia.
The award did not include Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, who also signed the accord.
• Who are the Farc?
• Colombia media hopeful over Santos peace prize
• Viewpoint: What next for Colombia?
• Santos: From hawk to dove
The head of the Nobel commitee said the award recognised the president’s “resolute efforts” to end the conflict.
“The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process,” Kaci Kullman Five added.
For more information please visit the following link:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37585188

Nobel Peace Prize For Colom bia’s Juan Manuel Santos
• 7 October 2016
• From the section Latin America & Caribbean
Juan Manuel Santo
• Born in Bogota in 10 August 1951 in an influential family
• Elected Colombian president in 2010 and re-elected in 2014
• Served as defence minister from 2006 until 2009
• Married, has two sons and one daughter
Sources: BBC Monitoring, Colombian presidency
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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his wife, María Clemencia Rodríguez Múnera

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos awarded Nobel Peace Prize for bid to end half-century conflict
The award was a surprise because Colombians voted Sunday against Santos’s peace accord, which many viewed as too generous to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Santos was considered a leading candidate for the prize prior to the referendum, but his chances seemed to fade after voters sunk the deal by a narrow margin.
Offering a window into Nobel deliberations, the committee said its members were conscious that the Colombian peace efforts were imperiled and wanted to offer a boost.
“There is a real danger that the peace process will come to a halt and that civil war will flare up again,” said Kaci Kullmann Five, a former Norwegian politician who is now chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. “We hope it will encourage all good initiatives and all the parties who could make a difference in this process in Colombia.”
Juan Manuel Santos and his wife, he was recognized for his work to end a half-century conflict with Marxist rebels in his country.
For more information please visit the following link:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/colombia-president-juan-manuel-santos-awarded-nobel-peace-prize-for-efforts-to-bring-peace-to-his-nation/2016/10/07/c6e0d3c4-8a84-11e6-8cdc-4fbb1973b506_story.html

Colombia peace deal: Government and Farc reach new agreement

13 November 2016, from the section Latin America & Caribbean

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES Image caption: The first peace deal met resistance as many claimed it allowed Farc rebels to get away with murder

The Colombian government and the Farc rebel group have announced a new peace agreement, six weeks after the original deal was rejected in a popular vote.

The two sides, which have been holding talks in Cuba for four years, said the revised plan incorporated proposals from the opposition and others groups.

The initial deal had been deemed to be too favourable to the left-wing rebels.

The new agreement is not expected to be put to another popular vote, but rather submitted to Congress.

“We have reached a new final agreement to end the armed conflict, which incorporates changes, clarifications and some new contributions from various social groups,” the two sides said in a statement.

It was read by diplomats from Cuba and Norway, the mediating countries, in the Cuban capital, Havana.

The statement did not give details of the revised agreement but Colombia’s lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said it “resolves many criticisms” of the previous deal.

One new requirement was for the Farc to draw up a complete list of its assets, to be used for victim compensation, he added. Further details are expected to be released over the weekend.

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES Image caption Farc  representative Ivan Marquez (left) shook hands with government negotiator Humberto de la Calle

However the leader of the “No” campaign, former President Alvaro Uribe, said the new proposals did not go far enough.

The previous deal was rejected by 50.2% of voters in a vote held on 2 October.

Many objected to the lenient sentences given to fighters who confessed to crimes. Some would have avoided serving any time in conventional prisons.

Those who opposed the deal also balked at the government’s plan to pay demobilised Farc rebels a monthly stipend while offering those wanting to start a business financial help.

Polls had initially indicated that the agreement would be approved by a comfortable margin, but opposition to the agreement had been stronger than expected.

Despite the rejection of the deal by voters, President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in the negotiations.

Colombia’s largest rebel group

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES Image caption The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) was formed in 1964

Farc, Colombia’s largest rebel group, was formed in 1964 with the stated intention of overthrowing the government and installing a Marxist regime.

After modest beginnings, the group rose to prominence through the 1980s and 1990s as its association with the drugs trade improved its financial standing.

At its peak it was the largest and best-equipped guerrilla force in Latin America.

But the number of active Farc fighters has diminished from its estimated high of 20,000 to about 7,000 after thousands of guerrilla fighters were demobilised or killed.

Colombia’s second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has also been engaged in an armed conflict for more than five decades.

About 260,000 people have killed and millions displaced in the 52-year conflict.

For more information please visit the following link:                                         http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37965392

“The Colombian government and left-wing Farc rebels have signed a historic agreement that formally brings an end to 52 years of armed conflict.
The last of the major Cold War conflicts killed 260,000 people and left more than six million internally displaced.”

“A Staggering New Death Toll for Syria’s War — 470,000” on FEBRUARY 11, 2016 report from FRONTLINE, PBS

For more information please visit the following link:                                          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/a-staggering-new-death-toll-for-syrias-war-470000/

Syria refugee crisis:

UPDATED JANUARY 31, 2017

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