Ringling Bros. circus closing show after 146 years

By 2014, the plaintiffs, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society, had been ordered to pay the circus $25 million to reimburse its legal fees. Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of show producer Feld Entertainment, said he and his family came to the “difficult” decision to end the circus “after much evaluation and deliberation.”
“Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros.,” he said in a statement on the group’s website.”
“The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make.”
The group has a total of 30 stops scheduled on its 2017 tour. Animal rights controversies
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals cheered Ringling’s latest decision as the end of an era, and called for other circuses to follow their lead. World’s Greatest Shows, merged with Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, joined in. In May 2015, the circus retired its performing elephants after major criticism from animal rights groups, including widely circulated videos from PETA that showed a male handler hitting elephants with an ankus, or pointed stick. Two whales were boiled alive in their tanks during one of the fires. Barnum’s first show in 1871. You feel it is the end of an era,” long-time trainer Trudy Williams told AFP at the time. “It is sad. The Ringling Brothers herd was the largest in the Western hemisphere for Asian elephants, listed as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which says 40,000-50,000 exist in the world in highly fragmented populations. The case was eventually thrown out after a lead witness was found to have been paid for his testimony by animal rights groups. One such object was the Fiji mermaid, or Feejee mermaid, which was in fact no less than the head and torso of a monkey sewn to the body and tail of a fish. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced Saturday it will host its final show in May, ending “The Greatest Show on Earth” after 146 years.  
“After 36 years of PETA protests, which have awoken the world to the plight of animals in captivity, PETA heralds the end of what has been the saddest show on Earth for wild animals, and asks all other animal circuses to follow suit, as this is a sign of changing times,” the group’s president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement. The final “Circus XTREME” show will take place at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island on May 7, while the group’s “Out Of This World” tour will take place May 21 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Barnum launched his traveling circus after fires destroyed his Barnum’s American Museum. Ringling Brothers was also embroiled in a 14-year lawsuit in which animal rights groups alleged the circus was mistreating its herd. “A major moment as big brands that harm animals fade away and more humane businesses emerge I applaud @RinglingBros announcement,” he tweeted. While the Ringling brothers had been better known for traditional circus fare, Barnum was dubbed the “Prince of Humbugs,” known as a shameless promoter of incredible hoaxes, freak shows and zoological curiosities. Company executives cited high operating costs and declining ticket sales after the traveling American circus retired its popular elephants as reasons for drawing the curtain on a celebrated spectacle that traces its origins to politician and showman P.T. In 1881, Barnum teamed up with James Bailey to run their “Greatest Show on Earth,” making a fortune along the way. Ringling Bros. Freak show origins
Although Barnum’s first show took place decades before, it was not until 1919 that a group started by five Wisconsin brothers, Ringling Bros. Animal rights groups cheered the move as a success story following decades of activism against the use of animals in the circus.

The ‘Madhouse Effect’ of climate denial in America

“Tom Toles, in my view, has found a way to make delay and denial and despair funny, in an odd way. “We now encounter climate change denialism, an agenda of inaction on climate change in all of our branches of government now, in the Congress and in the presidency,” he says. “If we don’t dramatically bring down our emissions over the next decade, then we will likely commit to warming the planet more than that amount.”
In “The Madhouse Effect,” Mann and Toles use basic science — and comedy — to dismantle common climate denial perspectives and give evidence for action. One chapter of the book, called “Geoengineering, or ‘What Could Possibly Go Wrong?’” is dedicated to exposing the perils of large-scale climate intervention projects. California has the scientists, it has the lawyers. “What we’re talking about here are massive interventions with the Earth system that involve shooting things into the atmosphere, particles up into the stratosphere or dumping iron into the ocean, or putting mirrors in space to reflect sunlight or interfering with the climate system … in some unprecedented and untested way,” Mann explains.   
“Some scientists will point to [that] … as the level of truly dangerous, irreversible changes in climate,” Mann says. Just talk to ranchers in Texas or Oklahoma who recently suffered through the worst drought on record, Mann says, or look to the drought currently baking California: “For all those people, catastrophic climate change has already arrived.”
But despite the evidence, many Americans still deny that global temperatures are on a devastating path: President-elect Donald Trump, for one, has called global warming a “hoax” on numerous occasions. They’re going to act. “Jerry Brown actually said that he doesn’t care what Trump does. A cartoon from Toles drives the point home. They’re going to move ahead.”
And according to Mann, quick progress is of the essence because — here’s the other good thing — we still might be able to limit climate change to a scope we can survive within. “When you frame something in a humorous way, it leads to people dropping their defenses a little bit, sort of finding a side door,” Mann explains. 2016 is a wrap — and with it, likely the hottest year ever recorded. For one, if the federal government fails to provide effective national climate policy (such as putting a price on carbon), he sees an opportunity for state and local governments to step in. Its caption reads, “Year 2060: The search for a breakthrough technology to solve climate change continues.” In the drawing, two scientists tinker with a contraption of tubes and wires, as one of them explains to an onlooker (dressed in stars and stripes) that “it’s a time machine we hope will take us back 50 years when we should have put a price on carbon.”
“It’s a sort of gallows humor, I suppose, at times,” Mann says.  
“So we haven’t yet committed ourselves to truly catastrophic irreversible changes in our climate that go beyond our adaptive capacity, but we don’t have a lot of time left, and we do need to make progress over the next few years,” he says. “It’s worrying at a time when we need to be accelerating this transition away from our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Climate science shows that global temperatures are careening towards a critical checkpoint. Trump.” Suddenly, climate change denial is back in style, he says — and back in power. According to Mann, not only can these types of geoengineering projects be dangerous, they also involve a “kinder, gentler” form of climate change denial — insinuating that there can be a solution to climate change without quitting fossil fuels. But without a message of hope, without an avenue forward, gallows humor alone doesn’t lead us in the right direction.”
“And so one of the struggles in the book was to find a way to use the humor to go beyond just the exposure of hypocrisy of climate-change-denying politicians, but to try to paint a positive path forward at the same time.”
For Mann, hope takes several forms. The Earth shouldn’t warm by any more than 2 degrees Celsius   or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Mann addresses this disavowal trend in his new book, “The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving us Crazy,” which he co-authored with political cartoonist Tom Toles. “We’re going to need to find a way to make that progress even with a [United States] presidency which may end up on the wrong side of this issue.”
This article is based on an   interview   that aired on PRI’s   Living on Earth   with Steve Curwood. If Trump starts to defund our climate satellites, California will build them and put them up there. “When conditions are conducive to rainfall, you’re going to get more of it.” But the heat can be drying, too. “I actually had a meeting with [California Gov.] Jerry Brown just a few days ago, who is really leading the way on this issue,” Mann says. Mann says when they published the book last fall, “little did we realize how prescient the book would seem in the context of the way things have played out, in not just the UK election, the Brexit vote, but in the election of Donald J. Temperatures weren’t the only anomaly: Louisiana, for instance, saw floods so severe they should only happen every 1,000 years.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. PRI.org

According to Michael Mann,   a climate scientist at Penn State University,   the two events are related: “The bottom line here is that the atmosphere is warmer than it was, [meaning it] holds more moisture than it used to,” he says.

Another riot in an overcrowded Brazilian prison

We are going to verify the extent of the damage,” district security official Caio Berreza said on Globo News television. A series of massacres early this month left 100 prisoners dead —   many of them active members of gangs, authorities said. Officials raised the death toll from Saturday’s riot at the Alcacuz prison from three to 10. Security forces stormed the prison in northeastern Rio Grande do Norte state at dawn on Sunday and restored order after 14 hours of violence, local authorities said. “There are at least three inmates dead because we were able to see their heads,” state prisons manager Zemilton Silva told local media on Saturday. The prison, just outside the state capital Natal, is built for a maximum of 620 inmates but currently houses 1,083, the state justice department said. District security authorities said in a statement on Sunday that there were “at least 10 confirmed deaths.”
“We cannot yet confirm the final number of victims. Brazilian police on Sunday quelled a riot that left at least 10 people dead in a northern jail, the latest of several gruesome gang-related massacres in the country’s overcrowded prisons. Officials said members of two separate drug gangs had come out of different parts of the prison and clashed violently. Brazilian media said the riot was thought to be a clash between Brazil’s biggest drug gang, the First Capital Command (PCC), and a group allied to its main rival Red Command. They earlier said at least three inmates were beheaded. It was believed to be part of a war between drug gangs battling for control of one of the world’s most important cocaine markets and trafficking routes.

How ‘letters to the future’ are putting the spotlight on climate action now

But I stopped trying so hard.”
For Shrum, it was a watershed moment. Back at Harvard, where she was a graduate student in public policy, Shrum connected with Kubit, another student who was also interested in finding a way to talk about climate change with people, to show how it’s meaningful on a personal level. Shrum says they’re looking for an institution to archive the trove of messages as a time capsule, to be exhibited “in 2030 and 2050, and potentially beyond.”
For now, DearTomorrow’s founders are hoping that the project will strike a chord with all types of people, from climate activists to people who may otherwise have a hard time connecting the perils of climate change to their daily lives. For activists Trisha Shrum and Jill Kubit, climate change isn’t just an abstract concept. “At the heart of it, this is a storytelling project,” Kubit says. “When you try to give excuses to your child about why you didn’t protect their future, and why you didn’t enable the best possible world for them that you could, those excuses just fall flat,” she says. But even as Shrum wrote about how she’d worked to make a difference, she found herself making excuses for why she hadn’t done more to fight climate change. “I’ve tried, but, to be honest, I haven’t tried all that hard,” she wrote. And she began to wonder if the epiphany about her own “climate legacy” could be shared with others. Normal, beautiful things. I fell in love with your father and got married and had you. “The idea was that she was going to read it, I was going to send it to her, in the year 2050,” she adds. “And I was just writing in a very honest, open way, of everything that I’ve been doing on climate change,” she says. Hearing about it, she says, “Something kind of clicked for me.”
At the time, Shrum’s daughter Eleanor was 10 months old. “Instead I’ve focused on my own life. At the conference, Christiana Figueres, then head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, had given a talk that ended with a haunting story:
“She has this dream where the eyes of these children who are living in the future are looking at her and saying, ‘You knew about climate change. In a recent letter to him, she explained that the DearTomorrow project was “a small piece [in] trying to get people to take a step back, to reflect about what climate change means and to imagine what the world on the other side looks like.”
Letters, videos   and photographs from people around the world are collected on the project’s website. “What would I say to her now?” Shrum remembers thinking on the plane. At the time, her son Gabriel was 18 months old, and she had been thinking a lot about what raising a child would be like “in this period of time which is very scary, and also potentially very exciting,” she says. “And how could I capture this moment of how I feel today about climate change … in a way that she can relate to when she is my age?”
Shrum cracked open her laptop and began writing a letter to Eleanor. Rather, it has faces and names: Eleanor and Gabriel, their children. And through their time capsule project   DearTomorrow, Shrum and Kubit are hoping you’ll connect the planet’s future to your loved ones, too.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. What did you do about it?’” Shrum recalls. This article is based on a story that aired on PRI’s   Living on Earth   with Steve Curwood. PRI.org

DearTomorrow invites people to share letters, photos   and videos about how they’re working against climate disruption — the idea being the notes   will be seen decades in the future. Shrum got the idea for the project in 2014, on the flight home from a climate change conference in Iceland. “I had always felt like as a movement, as organizations, and as people, we weren’t always talking about it in a way that really, really got to the core of ‘Why are we doing this work?’”
“And the moment I heard this idea — Trisha was like, ‘I wrote this letter, it was a very powerful thing for me.’ I was like, ‘I’m on board, I’ll do anything.’”
Kubit became a co-founder of DearTomorrow. By then, she had already spent eight years trying to frame the topic in a way that seemed relevant.

Germany’s Merkel warns Trump against protectionism

to moving forward together than when everyone resolves their problems for themselves. During the US campaign, Steinmeier was even more damning, saying the prospect of a Trump presidency was “frightening” for the world. Asked if she believed “protectionist tendencies” by Trump could pose a threat, Merkel recalled the example of the 2008 global financial crisis, which “came from the United States.”
“As heads of state and government [of the G20], we said: ‘We must resolve the problem facing us together,'” she said. He compared Trump to a “hate preacher,”   saying he had much in common with “fearmongers” in Germany’s right-wing populist AfD party and advocates of Britain’s exit from the EU. I am truly convinced of this,” she told a press conference at a meeting of her CDU party. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Saturday against protectionist tendencies of US President-elect Donald Trump, citing lessons learned in the 2008 global financial crash and stressing the need to “move forward together.”
“My profound conviction is that there are more advantages… “I think this way worked, and naturally we are going to seek dialogue with the new American president,” who will be inaugurated on January 20. “And the response to overcome that financial crisis was not a response based on closing oneself off, but a response which called for cooperation, for common rules, for regulation of financial markets. Trump’s attitude has fuelled concern in Germany: on Thursday Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “perplexed” by Trump comparing the leak of a dossier of unsubstantiated allegations against him to something that could have happened in Nazi Germany. On the campaign trail Trump notably threatened to take protectionist measures against Chinese and Mexican imports, and claimed a first success with a decision by US motor giant Ford not to build a new plant in Mexico.

Trump slams civil rights icon who says his election illegitimate

At least eight House Democrats have publicly stated they will not be attending Trump’s swearing-in at the US Capitol next Friday, with several indicating their absence will be an act of political protest. “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong.”
US intelligence organizations have accused Russia of cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and distributing hacked emails from senior Clinton aides in an effort to influence the US election. “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis told NBC’s “Meet the Press” talk show in an interview that will air Sunday. Lewis took part in so-called Freedom —   challenges to segregated facilities at bus terminals in the South. President-elect Donald Trump lashed out Saturday at a prominent civil rights icon and lawmaker who said he is skipping next week’s inauguration ceremony because he sees the New York businessman’s election as illegitimate. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” he said, adding that he will skip the presidential inauguration for the first time since becoming a member of Congress in 1987. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results,” Trump said in a tweet. On March 7, 1965, he led a march in Selma, Alabama that ended in an attack by state troopers on the protesters that later became known as “Bloody Sunday.”   Lewis, who represents a district in the southern state of Georgia that includes Atlanta and surrounding areas, on Friday became the most high-profile Democratic lawmaker to boycott Trump’s inauguration. “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!” he added. Lewis, 76, is known for his decades of work in the civil rights movement, and marched with Martin Luther King at the August 1963 rally in Washington at which King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Citizen scientists have been taking an annual ‘bird census’ for over a century

Basically, as Kriensky says of the Christmas Bird Count, “everything counts.” Even the little brown sparrows that flock in droves across New York City. The count, which begins every Dec. “And it’s still pretty exciting, even if you get a high count of a really common bird. You can watch this year’s Christmas Bird Count results roll in here. The birds they counted represented roughly one-quarter of the world’s known bird species. “It’s a bird that shouldn’t be [there] at all, let alone at this season,” he says, adding that the little tanager was a hatch-year bird, and may have headed east instead of south on its first migration. Decades’ worth of bird count data show that bluebirds have expanded their range northward “quite a bit over the last 50 years,” LeBaron says. “I think it’s important to count the common birds while they’re still common because then you can tell are there changes over time in those populations,” she adds. “We have a new program called Climate Watch which we’re testing out right now, and it’s actually looking for areas where bluebirds are moving into during the winter in the north, and probably out of in the south,” he says. As snow, wind and rain kept many of us cozy inside our homes this December, thousands of bird-watchers grabbed their binoculars and headed out for a day in the elements.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. “We actually have a really amazing diversity of birds here in New York City, and even in our really small parks, our pocket parks, we get a lot of birds,” she says. 5, is a census of local bird populations. And LeBaron took part in a counting party in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, which spotted a northern waterthrush for just the third time in that area. “We can then sort of measure how much effort was expended to actually count all the birds that are tallied every year.”
While it’s too early to get the big picture on this year’s bird populations, local counts — each covering an area just 15 miles in diameter — have already yielded some surprises. “So, in a year like this, where potentially, weather is impacting the number of people that are out there and how they can get around, [the count] is still valuable data because we’re tracking ‘birds per party hour,'” LeBaron says. Taken at the end of the fall migration, the census provides a snapshot of “how many of which birds are where” — valuable data for scientists studying everything from climate change to the effects of West Nile virus. Even stranger was the sight of a western tanager, which had never been recorded there before. PRI.org

Theirs was no average bird-nerd-devotion: They were on a mission to count every bird they saw or heard, as part of the National Audubon Society’s   117th annual Christmas Bird Count. So we’ll see how that bird fares.”
One avian species that the Christmas Bird Count has helped scientists learn more about is the bluebird. “But also there’s been a series of strong storms that have swept right across from the Pacific Northwest over here, and that can also bring birds over. It’s a shift that Audubon is digging into further with a new citizen science project. In New York City’s Central Park, counters spotted a killdeer, a shorebird that usually doesn’t hang around Manhattan this time of year, says Debra Kriensky, a conservation biologist at the New York City Audubon. “So it’s trying to track how the birds are responding to climate change.”
In fact, if you missed this year’s Christmas Bird Count, there are opportunities to observe birds for science all year long: Another, newer bird count, the Great Backyard Bird Count, takes place every February, attracting bird-watchers from around the globe. LeBaron explains that the Christmas Bird Count dates all the way back to 1900, when ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed counting birds over the holiday, rather than hunting them. For example, we had in Central Park 1,300 white-throated sparrows. Results from this year’s tally are still pouring in, but last year, 77,000 birders recorded just under 59 million birds across the United States, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean   and Pacific Islands. In addition to collecting bird observation data, the count also tracks “effort data,” which helps scientists accurately interpret bird count results. “The beauty of the [Christmas Bird Count] is that we really are getting a yardstick on everything that’s out there on a continental basis at the same time of year, and we can actually really track what’s happening over time with a lot of the species,” says Geoff LeBaron, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count director. So they’re an abundant bird this time of year, but that’s a lot a lot of sparrows, and it was really fun counting them all throughout the park.”
This article is based on an   interview   that aired on PRI’s   Science Friday. 14 and wraps every Jan. There’s even a program called Hummingbirds at Home: “The goal of that is actually to track what food sources the hummingbirds are using in people’s yards,” LeBaron says.

Three ways to die on Venus, and other space facts

On Aug. “It’s based on Mercury’s very slow day and it’s very fast year. And who knows what kind of mythology will spring from that.”
Regas is an outreach astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory, co-host of the PBS program “Star Gazers,” and author of the new book,   “Facts from Space!: From Super-Secret Spacecraft to Volcanoes in Outer Space, Extraterrestrial Facts to Blow Your Mind!” It presents all kinds of   trivia and other colorful facts about the universe. PRI.org

As astronomer Dean Regas explains, that’s because the stars are moving relative to our position here. 21, 2017, the continental United States will experience a total solar eclipse. “Definitely mark your calendars, because, on that day, the sun will be covered over by the moon completely, covered over for a few minutes. Regas says the eclipse should be visible within a 100-mile-wide strip of land spanning from Oregon to South Carolina. “The report said it took them two hours to collect them,” Regas notes. Bask in the heat. He shared a few of his favorite anecdotes from the book with Science Friday’s Ira Flatow. “So you would be a melted, squished, ‘acidy’ pile of goop on Venus.”
As parting trivia, Regas shares details about an astronomical event that hasn’t even happened yet. Then, why it’s so hot is because there are these clouds, this dense atmosphere that traps in the heat.”
If the heat doesn’t get you, Regas suggests the oppressive atmosphere would do you in. “Venus is 900 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface — like, everywhere,” Regas says. “We’ve been waiting for a total solar eclipse in the US for a long time,” Regas says. The first option? When the astronaut opened it up, amid the weightlessness of space, the chocolates flew everywhere. And it is the most amazing sight you will ever see.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s   Science Friday. He writes that if you were standing on Mercury during its closest approach to the sun — this point in its orbit is called “perihelion” — the sun “would look more than nine times larger and shine nine times brighter than your Earthly view of the sun during Earth’s perihelion.”
Finally, for the morbidly space-curious among us, Regas explains that there are several ways to die (quickly) on Venus. “This is probably the worst planet for humans,” he says. The full title of Dean Regas’ book, available now, is “Facts from Space!: From Super-Secret Spacecraft to Volcanoes in Outer Space, Extraterrestrial Facts to Blow Your Mind!”   “If the clouds open up and it starts raining, it doesn’t rain [water], it rains sulfuric acid,” Regas explains. “That atmosphere, it would actually exert such force on you, it would squish you flat,” Regas says. Today we call it the “Big Dipper,” but in the year 75000, we may look up in the night sky and admire a constellation known affectionately as the “Big Spatula.”Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Regas says that an astronaut, on a Russian mission, received   a box of chocolates from his wife. It’s just a weird thing to see a sunrise, sunset, and sunrise right in the same place.”
And in his book, Regas shares even more about Mercury’s sun-viewing potential. “North Pole, South Pole, equator, daytime, nighttime — it’s 900 degrees. “I think ‘eat them’ more likely would be the right answer.”
Secondly, Mercury is a great place to “catch the sunrise.” After all, Regas says, it’s the planet closest to the sun. For starters, here’s a tip: When you smuggle snacks into space, open them carefully. “If you’re on Mercury in certain places, you could watch the sun rise, and then it’ll stop, turn around, go backwards, and set where it rose   and then rise again,” Regas adds. But even better? “Where we saw the Big Dipper, they’ll see something that looks like a big spatula. “And so you know, over thousands and thousands of years, the constellations we see today will actually change a little bit,” he says. “The air pressure on Venus would squish you like a tin can.”
Your third option for dying on Venus (although there are probably more) is to enjoy a “Venusian” rainstorm.

Welcome to San Escobar, a dreamy nation accidentally founded by Poland

RT aired for about ten minutes before C-SPAN1 came back. Credit:

Wikimedia Commons

A national currency:
BREAKING: #SanEscobar releases new banknote in honour of El Comandante pic.twitter.com/rLRMC2dWdh
— Exen   (Exen) January 12, 2017

A map of San Escobar. Everyone can find it on the map! On Thursday, the place even got some quality promotion on C-SPAN, when the regular broadcast was suddenly interrupted by Russian television’s RT, airing a segment about San Escobar. Unclear what happened. Credit:

Wikipedia screenshot

The new republic is also already taking stances on important diplomatic   issues:
After talks with FM #Waszczykowski the People’s Democratic Republic of #SanEscobar fully supports Poland’s candidacy to the Security Council
— San Escobar (@rpdsanescobar) January 10, 2017
That’s enough, Britain! After some meetings, he told reporters that he’d discussed the proposal with officials from nearly 20 countries —   including,   as he put it, “with countries such as Belize or San Escobar.”
Oops. These acts of our former imperial overlords will not be tolerated!https://t.co/oRSZTlhFNS
— San Escobar (@rpdsanescobar) January 11, 2017
  Think of it as “a small country located between Mexico and Guatemala with 200,000 citizens, with several main cities, including Esperal Bay, Santo Subito, and with several major exports including tomatoes and wine,” says Ewa Lalik, a technology blogger in Warsaw, Poland. Here’s what happened: Polish   Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski was in New York this week to lobby for a temporary Polish seat on the United Nations   Security Council. “Unfortunately after 22 hours in planes and several connecting flights you can make a slip of the tongue,” Waszczykowski said. It now has an invented flag:

The flag of the imaginary republic of San Escobar. — San Escobar (@rpdsanescobar) January 11, 2017
UK press calls #SanEscobar “non-existent” again. Here’s the moment Russia Today took over the C-SPAN1 feed. Thanks! He added that he was thinking of St. pic.twitter.com/mhWVgCoFxF
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 12, 2017
Turns out, San Escobar is a nonexistent   place that was inadvertently invented by Poland’s top diplomat. The   Twitterati quickly jumped on the gaffe with all sorts of jokes under the hashtag #SanEscobar. pic.twitter.com/25YkY2LZsl
— Ryszard Mikke (@rmikke) January 11, 2017
And of course a Wikipedia entry:

User-created online encyclopedia entries at Wikipedia now include the story of San Escobar. It was a diplomatic slip that the foreign minister later blamed on jet lag. https://t.co/BxJ0uHWG9U@EUCouncil @eucopresident Please throw the UK out of the EU immediately. Kitts and Nevis, a Caribbean country whose Spanish name, San Cristóbal y Nieves, may have popped into his head. The result is that, on the internet at least, San Escobar’s nationhood is shaping up very nicely. There is no country in the world called San Escobar.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Credit:

Wikimedia Commons

@rpdsanescobar Of course there is #SanEscobar! PRI.org

But in the age of “fake news” let’s just imagine for a moment a “fake country” called San Escobar.

The World music features this week: Teitur, Faada Freddy and Hannah Williams & the Affirmations

He told me that despite all the advances in technology, the voice was really the first instrument. Each week on The World, we feature a unique selection of music, and every week, we put together the highlights for you here. The songs were inspired by YouTube videos in which people share something unique about themselves. He was sitting on a bench   getting ready to leave, but before he did, I got the chance to ask him a couple questions about his most recent project. — Marco

“It’s all about the voice”
Faada Freddy is a singer and rapper from Senegal. He was also a founding member of the hip-hop group Daara J. PRI.org

YouTube-inspired music confessionals
Songwriter Teitur Lassen is from the Faroe Islands. —   April  

And the director’s cutaway pick
As director of The World, I choose a lot of the music you hear coming out of interviews or reporters’   stories. His latest collection of songs is a collaboration with American pianist and composer Nico Muhly, and performed with the Dutch ensemble   Holland Baroque. Senegal singer and rapper Faada Freddy


April Peavey

I met Faada Freddy at the World Music Expo in Spain back in October. This included releasing an acapella/beatboxing album. Here’s a video of a tune from their new album, “Late Nights & Heartbreaks.” —   April Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. It’s powerful and souful. I   also pick the music you hear between breaks. Hannah has a voice to be reckoned with. One recent cut on my “director’s playlist” is by the UK soul band   Hannah Williams & the Affirmations.

In Australia, police are looking for a cute, runaway quokka named Steve

4, fleeing a rubbish bin on the mainland where he was mistaken for a large rat, local media reported. Few quokkas are thought to exist on mainland Australia where they are exposed to predators like foxes and traffic. “As with all escapees, Steve is not to be approached as he may act in an unpredictable manner,” the police statement added, urging anyone who spots Steve to alert wildlife authorities. They are considered a vulnerable species and primarily found on Rottnest island, 12 miles   from Perth, where they are better protected. “Steve is described as small, cute and furry. He may use his cuteness to trick unsuspecting humans into giving him food,” Western Australia police posted on their Facebook page.   Authorities are concerned for the safety of the small animal, named Steve, who was last seen on Jan. A runaway quokka, who escaped its island home off Australia’s west coast on a rubbish barge, is in danger and police are issuing an appeal to save the “cute” marsupial.

How a polo tour in India is helping to protect a rare breed of ponies

But in the crisp January air, this   stadium returns to its roots — as the world’s oldest active polo ground. Cristina Fernandez, of the US team, says it was   a little “intimidating” as a “tall American” to ride these small ponies. Roy hopes the   international attention from the USPA   will   give the Manipuri pony a lifeline. The shrine overlooks a meadow that Roy   expects   will be a new grazing   area   for the ponies, keeping alive Marjing’s flock   as well as   an ancient piece of world polo heritage. The state of Manipur has pledged to create a sanctuary for the ancient breed whose numbers are dwindling. Red and white polo   mallets   hang in a corner, and there are pictures of horses on the wall. Since 2013, members of the United States Polo Association   have been coming to compete with Manipuris. Another   issue   for the Americans is the size of the Manipuri ponies. For much of the year, the Mapal Kangjeibung grounds in the center of Imphal are used for soccer. Communicating with local players is sometimes a challenge, says Tiamo Hudspeth, from Team USPA, who traveled to Manipur in   January 2016. A temple for Marjing   is shown here. The ponies are revered here — they were used for war and sacred ritual, not as pack animals. “I wanted to sort of wind it up and let it go.”

Manipuri ponies are grazing here. Manipur has a god of polo, Marjing, whose mount is the winged pony. But Roy, who’s worked as a film   curator in New York,   says when he returned to Manipur in 2000, he would see   abandoned ponies   wandering around the city, feeding on garbage   because people could not afford to take care of them, and their grazing   lands   were vanishing. But their numbers are dwindling. He says their numbers have fallen to fewer than 500. Somi Roy

These ponies are one of five indigenous Indian breeds, semiwild ponies, found just in this corner of India. Credit:

Courtesy of L. Credit:

Courtesy of L. “We have been promoting USPA here as part of our way of getting attention drawn to the Manipuri pony,” Roy says. Manipur’s historians say the earliest records of a polo match can be found in court chronicles that date back to the first century. The British discovered it there and brought   “hockey on horseback” to the West in the 19th   century. They look a little like windup toys, she says. Persia claims to be the birthplace of polo, but the modern version of the game comes from the small state of Manipur in northeastern India. It’s said that when the pony’s wings were clipped, it fell to Earth and became the Manipuri   pony. They’re only about 4 feet tall, from   shoulder to hoof. These days, the West is going back to Manipur to play polo. His interest in polo, he says, is really about the ponies. L. The 2017 USPA-Manipur games get underway next week in Manipur’s capital, Imphal. Marjing’s shrine on a hillside near Imphal   is strewn with small, white figurines of horses.  
Today, however, the game   is all about   women   power. The women   from Team USPA   come here   to play   alongside the   Manipuri   women, all under the watchful eyes of a Kangla-sha statue — a dragon with antlers. He’s worshiped in Manipur   as the deity who introduced polo to the world. Somi Roy

They might be looking for some divine assistance, as well. For instance, lingba for “strong.”   Nopa for “weak.” “We’d chant lingba, no nopa   before we played our game,” she says with a laugh. In 2013, the Manipur state government declared the ponies here an endangered breed. Still, she   picked up a few Manipuri words. Somi Roy, whose mother belonged to Manipuri royalty,   helps put together the USPA tour. In November 2016, the Manipuri state government announced plans for creating a sanctuary for the remaining ponies to help preserve the breed. At the polo grounds during the games in January last year, there was   a   banner with the words   “No pony No polo” — a reminder that if the ponies disappear, so would Manipur’s polo tradition.

In Niger and worldwide, legendary surgeon and humanitarian Jean-Marie Servant is mourned

Niger remembers the professor who fixed children
Reconstructive surgery is an important part of public health in Niger, where children often fall victim to complications caused by poor sanitary conditions and unsafe surroundings, sometimes requiring quite drastic   plastic surgery. Jean Marie had a very nurturing personality, which made him a personable and caring man. Bachir Athmani   also shared his   thoughts and feelings   on the late Servant:
“Jean Marie You were a good man;• An honorable and fair man, but not inflexible. Since there are always two of us on site, we can treat roughly fifty.”
Servant took on a number of students as part of his work, one of whom was Nigerien surgeon Issa Hamady, who learned how to treat Noma gangrene effectively   by working at Servant’s side. Born in 1947, Servant became the head of reconstructive plastic surgery at Saint Louis hospital in Paris in November 1995, where he worked for 15 years. Adel Laoufi worked with Servant as clinic director during Servant’s time at Saint Louis hospital. Professor Jean-Marie Servant,   a specialist in   reconstructive plastic surgery, lost a long   fight against leukemia last month. This   is Laoufi’s written homage to the late professor:
“2016 has taken many stars from us. It’s difficult to describe in so few lines all those hours we spent together in the operating room. Coming to visit us after her accident a week later, even though you could hardly walk or speak.”
“There was also Bistrot Mazarine’s coq au vin, after you’d just found out that you had leukaemia. All those cigarettes and coffees your drank, against all advice. Sentinelles, an NGO dedicated to providing aid to the wounded   in Third-World countries, explains this phenomenon:
“The number of children who are seriously burned is unfortunately high. Dr. I will always remember the image of the supposedly “inoperable” 80-year-old patient, on whom we operated together for countless hours between Christmas and the New Year to remove a complex facial tumor, and subsequently to reconstruct the patient’s entire eyelid. The long reconstructive surgery missions in Niger after you’d undergone a coronary bypass. His   humanitarian work didn’t   stop there. We work at Niamey National Hospital between two and four times per year. You knew how to bend but not break;• You loved people;• and you will always be remembered by your loving students.”
In an open letter, Malagasy doctor M. In an interview with the magazine   Pharmaceutiques,   a French language pharmaceuticals magazine, Servant   explained his work   in detail:
“We essentially try to operate on children suffering from facial malformations (Noma gangrene, in particular) and congenital conditions, such as cleft palate. A well trained surgeon can treat roughly 30 patients. More importantly, you always knew that it was important to accept the consequences of your actions. The patients are usually diagnosed and categorised on location, normally by the surgeons at Niamey. “Do what you want.” These were the words you said to me, but there was no hint of anger in your voice. Goodbye, Jean-Marie”
Writing on Facebook in   fewer, but no less poignant, words,   Borhane Belkhiria   summarized the memory that will   remain   with Jean-Marie Servant’s family and loved ones: “Geniuses are comets, destined to burn in order to make our generation a little brighter.” However, for me Dec. I told you to stop and you replied with a little smile, which told of how little consideration you had for your own well being.”
“When we first met in Niger in 1991, you’d already been working there for six years. We generally receive photos of the patients in France one week before we are scheduled to start work in Africa. Free to take such an inconsiderate risk, free of life, free of death. Our aim is to reconstruct the affected area and to reintroduce the mouth’s major functions. Doctors of the World works in Niger, Madagascar, and Vietnam. The   use of firewood   for cooking fuel in homes in Niger causes numerous accidents, usually to children. It is thanks to funding from the organization that all of this humanitarian work is possible. A celebration of his life and commemoration of his work   was held recently in Père-Lachaise’s dome hall crematorium. Servant was regarded worldwide as an expert in his field, however his humanitarian work in Africa in collaboration with Doctors of the World was just as important, if less well known. We also train the local surgeons, so that they are able to treat patients in these cases independently. But I’m going to do so anyway because, throughout our 20 years of friendship, I haven’t always done what you told me to.”
“Just like the day when, right after you’d removed my malign tumor, you watched me travel across the Atlantic to attend my students’ graduation ceremony. While roughly 80 percent of our cases, we do also treat burn patients and patients with tumors. In fact, you actually respected my choice.”
“This was the driving force of your life: not to judge others, forgetting your own wants and needs, and the passion of others. And by either accident or a miracle, you gave us 20 years of beautiful friendship, fixed our broken bodies with your hands of a master craftsman, and brought your immense heart into our pitiable and heroic lives.”
“Gifted, selfless, free. Children are often left near the fire unattended, meaning the slightest incident, a slight gust of wind for instance, can lead to the child’s clothes catching on fire.”
Servant came to Niger’s Niamey National Hospital not only to provide   care to   children suffering from serious burns, but also to train medical students in reconstructive surgery techniques. Servant participated in “Operation Smile,”   the focus of which is to treat and repair the faces of children suffering from Noma, a form of gangrene that   mainly affects malnourished children. I was lucky enough to be able to see him again a few months ago with my friends and colleagues Gregory Staub and Christelle Santini in a café, where he told us of his passion for African art.”
Dr. 29 marks the saddest of these losses. Hamady recently reflected   on what the late professor and his work   means to him:
“A great mentor, a loving and attentive father figure, and a man with an enormous heart has left us.Enough could never be said about this great man’s achievements, prowess, and passion for his work.Neither his hundreds of Noma patients, whose lives have changed dramatically thanks to him, nor those he taught the essence and complexities of reconstructive surgery, will ever forget him.May his soul Rest in Peace.”
A Wonderful Homage From His Peers and Friends
Colleagues and close friends around the world remembered Servant as   an exceptional surgeon and a brilliant man with integrity, whose generosity and kindness were unparalleled. Family “kitchens” generally consist of a stack of firewood with a pot on top that is used to prepare and serve family meals. You also had to respect his surgical genius immensely. Attending my daughter’s baptism, supported only by a cane and facing an uncertain recovery, amidst the row and euphoria of our family gathering. Farewell, my friend. Rakotomalala offered   a final farewell to his old friend:
“I know you wouldn’t have wanted me to write this letter: to speak of you, to pay you homage, to say that I am inconsolably sad after the announcement of your death that you predicted countless times. You were a giant among men. The hours and hours of complex and meticulous work were what allowed the patient to spend a few more years with their children and grandchildren. The idea was crazy, but I was free.

French and US astronauts spacewalk and successfully repair the space station

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet floated into space on his first-ever spacewalk Friday, and helped install three new, refrigerator-sized lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the power system at the International Space Station. Then, they carried out a series of maintenance jobs, performing six extra tasks in all, before the spacewalk ended   five hours and 58 minutes later at 12:20 p.m. https://t.co/L8jk825P95 pic.twitter.com/a96N0vckwZ
— Intl. Spacewalkers use tethers to stay attached to the station as they orbit 250 miles above Earth. Eventually, all 48 of the old batteries on board will be replaced with new ones. Parmitano said that ahead of Friday’s spacewalk, he gave Pesquet some words of advice: go slow and take plenty of pictures. .@Thom_astro has retrieved a new bag from the airlock with a replacement part and is moving towards a failed camera light pic.twitter.com/FflzmU9Rhz
— Human Spaceflight (@esaspaceflight) January 13, 2017
“This is Pesquet’s first foray into the vacuum of space,” a NASA commentator said as a live broadcast from the US space agency showed Pesquet’s booted feet dangling out of the airlock as he made his way outside. Space Station (@Space_Station) January 13, 2017
After a spacewalk earlier this month by Kimbrough, 49, and veteran US astronaut Peggy Whitson, 56, a total of six lithium-ion batteries are now installed. https://t.co/g4ukcRAvQm pic.twitter.com/TqU4QvdHqo
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) January 13, 2017
The pair made speedy progress. Parmitano is also a friend of Pesquet. About three hours into the spacewalk, they had finished their main goal of connecting adapter plates for the three lithium-ion batteries. (1122 GMT). When it was over, Parmitano told the men from his seat at mission control: “Thank you for your hard work. (1720 GMT). Space Station (@Space_Station) January 13, 2017
New batteries
The new batteries weigh about 428 pounds each, and replace older, but far lighter, nickel hydrogen batteries. https://t.co/L8jk825P95 pic.twitter.com/L2HQ43JqKc
— Intl. Wearing a white spacesuit with the French flag emblazoned on one shoulder, Pesquet and US astronaut   Shane Kimbrough switched on their spacesuits’ internal battery power to mark the official start of the spacewalk at 6:22 a.m. The spacewalk was the 197th for maintenance and assembly at the orbiting outpost, a global science collaboration of more than a dozen nations including Russia, the United States and Japan. They trained together for six years in the European astronaut corps. Back at mission control in Houston, Texas, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano orchestrated the spacewalk, giving the men directions and asking them periodically to check their gloves and helmets. Spacewalkers @Astro_Kimbrough and @Thom_Astro make good time completing a pair of “get-ahead” tasks. Shortly after the start of one of those spacewalks, Parmitano’s helmet began filling with a water leak and he had to be rushed back inside the station for emergency aid. A NASA commentator described the outing as “completely successful,” as the two men, clad in bulky white spacesuits and gloves, grasped hands and high-fived each other inside the space station. It was Kimbrough’s fourth career spacewalk. The European Space Agency described Parmitano’s role as lead communicator as “a recognition of ESA’s expertise in station operations.”
Parmitano went on two spacewalks during his six-month mission in 2013. First outing for Pesquet
Pesquet, 38, is the fourth French astronaut to perform a spacewalk, and the 11th European. The batteries store energy and supply the solar-powered orbiting lab when it flies in Earth’s shadow. It has been a privilege.”  
By AFP’s   Kerry Sheridan. Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet finish spacewalk at 12:20pm ET (5:20pm GMT) after 5 hrs, 58 min. The space station travels at a speed of more than 17,000 miles per hour, and circles the Earth about every 90 minutes, periodically moving through light and darkness.

In a small Texas town, a new private detention center for transgender migrants brings jobs — and concerns

The transgender unit is expected to close in 2020. Molina says another meeting was scheduled to take place in November, after the presidential election, but it was canceled. I really want to get out,” she says. She was detained in 2015 and released last year. But Aguilera and others say they are concerned about this new facility for transgender people because of what happened in Santa Ana. But such a board is not mandated by policies or laws. “If a detainee has a particular question, they cannot answer case-specific questions,” she says. Christina Fialho is the co-executive director of CIVIC, an organization that monitors the conditions of about 40 detention centers across the nation. I didn’t know how long I was going to be there.”
Aguilera, now 24, spent more than a year in the country’s first immigration detention facility with an official separate housing unit for transgender detainees. “The people on the TCCC [Transgender Care Classification Committee] will kind of be determining this for the detainee and will take into consideration what they prefer, but it will ultimately be a panel that decides where to place the detainee.”
ICE said in a statement that they are committed to upholding the health, safety and welfare of LGBT individuals in its custody and will implement the guidelines of the “Transgender Care Memorandum” of 2015, which includes the creation of such a committee. Credit:

Danny Burton/Wikimedia Commons

“There is absolutely job creation, from really every aspect,” says Davis. He says the community’s response has been positive, and that more than 200 jobs are expected to be created within their city, which has a population of about 4,000 people. While in detention, Aguilera says she did feel safer at Santa Ana than at the Las Vegas facility where she was first placed, because at Santa Ana she was housed among other trans women and not in solitary confinement. In 2011, 13 asylum-seekers from across the country filed a complaint that stated detainees suffered from sexual assault, long-term solitary confinement and denial of adequate medical care while detained with the general population   (PDF). Alvarado is part of Johnson County, which has about 4 percent unemployment, according to the latest Department of Labor data. “And it’s really hard to hear they’re going to open another one in Texas.”
Also: She fled abuse in Mexico, and now this trans woman says she was abused in immigration detention too
Alvarado city manager Davis says, though, the new detention center is already a part of his small town. The center will be operated by the private prison company Emerald Correctional Management LLC, based on a five-year contract after which the city will vote again to decide if they want to continue their partnership. “One thing they said is, ‘We want this to be a flagship detention facility across the United States, not just in Texas,’” Molina says. “Even more horrific is the sexual assault that occurs throughout the immigration detention system, including at the Santa Ana City Jail, in the form of unlawful and degrading strip searches.”
She also says they were still not receiving their hormone therapy medication on time and says there were delays in the transfer of detainees’ medical records. It’s concerning advocates in the state, but city officials say the facility   will help their local economy. People have been moving into the city to take new jobs. She says Immigration and Customs Enforcement   does not protect trans women in confinement. A new immigration detention facility will hold as many as 700 people. It wasn’t until last week that ICE allowed Molina and local organizations to tour the new facility before it opens. For Aguilar, the general information in this kind of program is not enough. She was also on the tour and says she was told that transgender detainees can also be placed in the small, one-bed cells or among the general population with men or women. “We’ve seen some homes purchased by those people moving in, so definitely there’s been an impact on our local economy,” says Davis. They have also told advocates that they will create a legal orientation program, to help detainees understand the law. Andrea Aguilar is the managing attorney at RAICES in Dallas-Fort Worth, which provides legal representation to people in immigration detention. According to data from the Transactional Access Records Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, about 300,000 migrants went through Texas   facilities   that year. “It’s really hard being inside the detention center and I wouldn’t like none of my girls being in detention, but there’s nothing I can do about it, you know?” says Aguilera. But the problems, Fialho says, continued in California’s transgender pod. After an outcry from advocates and neighbors, the city decided not to renew its contract with the federal government to house   immigrant detainees. “I was getting in, like, depression. “Our gas stations are seeing business and our restaurants are seeing business.” “The only thing I was thinking is that I want to get out. She wants to help provide them with individual consultations with lawyers. “The detainee doesn’t make this choice,” Aguilar says. The first meeting, he says, took place in June with DHS, ICE and Emerald Correctional Management LLC. There are about 4,000 people in this city, which is about 40 miles from Dallas. “We received reports of trans women who are told by guards to use their male voice and act male on an almost daily basis,” says Fialho. Also: 20 years ago, asylum seekers were not automatically put in immigration detention
Clint Davis, city manager of Alvarado, says there hasn’t been much local opposition to the detention center and the trans unit. The federal government will open another such facility next week, if everything goes according to plan. She says the Santa Ana transgender unit was created in response to problems LGBT migrant detainees were facing while in confinement. “From your guard all the way to your kitchen help, nurses, doctors, administrative staff — so there’s been a lot of hiring locally and from the county.”
Texas led the nation in fiscal year 2015 as the state with the most migrants going through its immigration detention centers. Molina and others suggested “know your rights” legal services for detainees and the opportunity to identify issues and advise immigration authorities and administrators on how to improve. When Leah Aguilera was held in a special section of the Santa Ana City Jail in California for transgender people, who were being detained by immigration officials, she experienced a delay and pushback for her request for hormones and disparaging remarks for being transgender. About 700 migrants are expected to be housed at the Prairieland Detention Center, including a separate 36-bed unit for trans individuals. They declined to respond to specific questions until the opening of the facility, set for Jan. Alvarado’s   downtown square. However, no official agreements were made. ICE has begun to a create a community advisory board to help increase communication about the facility. This time, it will be in Alvarado, Texas, about 40 miles southwest of Dallas. 16. Jorge Molina, an immigration attorney in Dallas, says the Department of Homeland Security reached out to him and other local lawyers and civil rights groups in May to form a kind of advisory committee to ensure the Texas facility does not meet the same fate as the Santa Ana one. Since her release last year, she says she wants to help others by getting a degree in criminal justice.

US federal investigation finds ‘pattern of excessive force’ by Chicago police

A year-long federal investigation into the Chicago police force has identified a pattern of excessive force, especially in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Friday. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former close adviser to President Barack Obama, was accused by political opponents of trying to cover up the incident. In a broad and damning analysis, Lynch said that Chicago police training procedures were “severely deficient,” and that the department “does not adequately review use of force incidents to determine whether force was appropriate or lawful, or whether the use of force could have been avoided altogether.”
All those problems, Lynch said, were “compounded by poor supervision and oversight, leading to low officer morale and an erosion in officer accountability.”
She added that the “countless vast majority” of Chicago officers were performing admirably, and noted that her department had heard from many who were “disillusioned and discouraged by strained trust, inadequate training (and) poor oversight.”
The city and the police department, Lynch said, had already taken some “encouraging steps,” but there was “still considerable work to be done —   work that will require federal partnership and independent oversight.”  
The Justice Department, in the course of its investigation, interviewed and met with city leaders, police officials and officers,   and residents. A statement from the Justice Department noted that the “pattern or practice of unreasonable force falls heaviest on predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods.”
The investigation was opened in December 2015, provoked partly by the highly publicized shooting death of a black adolescent by a white officer in 2014.    It also studied investigative files on use-of-force incidents that included more than 170 officer-involved shootings. Chicago, the third-largest US city, has faced a surging problem with violence in recent years —   there were 750 homicides there last year alone, a 10-year high, and more than 3,500 shootings. The authorities had waited more than a year before making public a video of the shooting, sparking a wave of anger. The city and police department have agreed to a series of reforms supervised by an independent monitor. “The Department of Justice has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago police department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution,” Lynch told a news conference in the city.

Obama’s end to ‘wet foot, dry foot’ is an ‘important step,’ says Cuba

The Cuban government said it would also “gradually adopt other measures to update the current immigration policy.”
The United States’ preferential immigration status for Cubans enticed millions to flee the island, fueling economic stasis and a severe “brain drain.”
Meanwhile in the United States, the growing Cuban-American population became a potent political, cultural and economic force. “This agreement removes the so-called wet foot/dry foot policy,” Raul Castro’s government said in an official statement broadcast on local television. However, Havana also called on the US Congress to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, another measure that still gives Cubans preferential immigration status, and which the Cuban government said “does not correspond to the current bilateral context.”
Cuba “will continue to guarantee Cuban citizens the right to travel and emigrate and return to the country, in accordance with immigration law,” the statement said. The decision, it said, is “aimed at guaranteeing normal, safe and ordered migration” and ending the acceptance of illegal Cuban emigres to the United States. The Cuban government on Thursday welcomed a US decision to end a decades-old policy allowing Cuban migrants who arrived illegally on US soil to stay, calling it “an important step forward in bilateral relations.”
US President Barack Obama announced earlier Thursday that he would scrap rules that allow Cuban migrants who arrive illegally on US soil a fast track to permanent residency, with immediate effect. It also welcomed Obama’s decision to rescind a program allowing Cuban medical professionals to seek parole in the United States.

The day Princess Diana stepped into an active minefield

“Don’t be embarrassed about asking questions,” Heslop   told the princess. “When we were taking her through the minefield, her security were very concerned about how we would manage it,” he says, “and I said to them, ‘You know, this is probably the one time in the trip that you don’t have to worry. “Do you have any reaction to that?”
“We’re here only trying to highlight a problem that’s going on all around the world,” the princess responded. Because we care more about something happening to her even than you do.’ And as they were leaving to get on the plane, the head of security came over and shook my hand, and he said, ‘That’s been the easiest two   hours of our trip, thanks very much.'”
The press event drew lots of attention worldwide —   not least in the UK where, in 1997, the British army still kept land mines in its arsenal. Just press a button, and there will be a bang, and you will have got rid of one of these things.”
“One down, 17 million to go,”   Diana said,   and pushed   the button. If you hear an uncontrolled explosion, please just check yourself to make sure you’ve not been injured, and we’ll come back to the control point here.”
“OK,” Diana replied. He says things did not go well at first. In a speech at the airport, the princess publicly endorsed a Red Cross campaign for a worldwide ban on mines. The princess was to be shown a dummy land mine. The princess was a benefactor of the nongovernmental organization that Heslop worked for, the Hazardous Areas Life-Support Organization, or HALO. And this poor woman was about to go into a live minefield, a dangerous area, in front of however many hundreds of millions or billions of people on the news, and I thought back to the first time I went into a minefield, and I was petrified.”
Cameras were rolling. The UK ratified the international convention   banning land mines the following year. She’d push a button to detonate it, just like Heslop’s team did every day. And with that, the   pair stepped together into an active minefield. “She wasn’t making eye contact, and I felt that initially she was disinterested,” he says. “As you can see, they’ve been working away here, and they’ve uncovered a mine,” Heslop told   her. “That’s all.”
A few months later, Diana would die in a car crash in Paris. It was all choreographed, of course. “Unfortunately, 20 years on, we’re a long way to solving the problem but we haven’t completely solved it yet,” says Heslop, who still works on land mines,   now for the United Nations. PRI.org

“I did not want to be on the front page of the news the next day,” that mine removal expert, Paul Heslop,   recently told the BBC, “as the man who’d blown up Princess Diana.”
Twenty years ago, Heslop had left his job at a London bank for a more adventurous life, traveling to former war zones around the globe to remove unexploded land mines. Today,   80 percent of the world’s countries have signed on to the treaty. “There couldn’t be a more appropriate place to begin this campaign than Angola,” Diana told the press gathered for the event, “because this nation has the highest number of amputees per population than anywhere in the world.”
Heslop was tasked with   guiding Diana through the minefield. He was in charge of the demining mission in Angola, which in 1997 was recovering from a brutal civil war, and remembers   being nervous about the arrival of his high-profile visitor. There’s still a way to go.”
Among the countries yet to ratify the international ban on land mines are China, Russia and the United States. A British reporter in Angola asked Diana for a comment. Diana’s trip was big news. She was   coming to see what Heslop’s team was doing with her largesse. “This was going to be an amazing opportunity to showcase the work we did, and how we did it, to the most famous woman in the world,” Heslop recalls,   “and there was obviously going to be a huge amount of media interest.”   
After 30 years of civil war, Angola’s countryside was still littered with millions of   land mines. On Jan. “What we’re going to do now, is, place a charge here, and you will detonate a mine. “And then, when the whole mob of journalists came off the other planes I suddenly realized why she was so nervous. Paul Heslop told his story to the BBC’s Farhana Haider. 15, 1997, one of the   world’s most famous women walked through an active   minefield in Angola, and   detonated a mine in front of an audience of international reporters, with the help of a land mine removal expert.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. All eyes were on the princess and Heslop, who helped her adjust her safety gear as he explained the protocol. Recalling the day two decades later, Heslop takes a certain pride in how well it all went. “Ma’am, a government minister at home has said you’re a loose cannon by supporting this campaign,” she   told Diana. “And if you find as a result of the blast you’ve been, you’ve gone into an uncleared area,” Heslop continued, “stay still, and we’ll come in and get you out.”
“Thanks,” she said. “And I think that would be the downside of Diana’s legacy, is that people feel that the mine problem has now been solved, and actually it hasn’t. “If at any time you have any doubt, if you’re in a safe area or unsafe area, just stand still, draw attention to yourself.

Here are the real lessons from flawed responses to Haiti’s disasters

The more than $9 billion in aid that went to Haiti in the two years after the earthquake was almost three times the Haitian government’s revenue during that period, and only about 6 percent of that aid went to the Haitian government, and even less to other Haitian organizations. Including:
•     Dr. It starts with the government. The two disasters were completely different — one urban, the other, rural; one arriving without warning, the other, visible in the distance — but both amounted to enormous   humanitarian crises that called for immediate, aggressive action, locally, and across the globe. In the aftermath of the hurricane, however, aid workers tell me the big, positive difference, is that this time, the government is in charge. The fact that the world didn’t rush in after the hurricane, as it did post-earthquake, has been positive in one way: It’s allowed for more local control and easier coordination of the response. The downside, though, is that money is tight in the impoverished country — and urgent needs persist. The UN set up coordinating meetings, but they were usually in English; the number of responders was overwhelming, but no one entity was leading the charge. “What we have to do on the level of international NGOs is support them technically and give them money,” she says. Also, government officials led coordination meetings. When I asked aid workers for success stories in the hurricane response, they brought up a number of partnerships. •     Gaskov Clergé Foundation, a group founded by natives of the hard-hit city of Les Cayes, signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the city’s mayor after the storm. So, as Haitian authorities apply the lesson of taking charge as best they can, would-be donors might still need to learn how to give them the means to do so. That’s something that NGOs seem to have taken to heart. Still, most NGO workers I’ve heard from say they want to see more government control, but the nation’s poverty is extremely limiting. In November 2016, the UN appealed to its members for $139 million, to go to relief efforts in Haiti, but by the year’s end, it was only 62 percent of the way there. The Haitian police also issued a statement telling aid convoys to contact their headquarters to develop a security plan. •     After the earthquake, CARE Country Director Jean-Michel Vigreux says donors, including USAID (United States Agency for International Development), asked CARE and other NGOs to   collaborate to set up a cash transfer program. They accomplished this by tapping   into their partner farmers associations and   rural women’s cooperative located in unaffected parts of the country. He says donors should do that more — encouraging NGOs to join forces with others. When the   hurricane hit, local groups got more involved. The Category 4 storm’s 145-mph winds tore through Haiti’s southern peninsula,   washing away farmland — one of the island nation’s “breadbaskets”   — along with vast swaths of   homes   and trees, and killing hundreds of people. In turn, the foundation would supply emergency aid and help rebuild schools and wells. In the end, the group also raised   funds to buy two dump trucks for the city. It was seven years ago today, at 4:53 p.m., that Haiti was violently shaken. Under the   plan, the city agreed to provide transportation and security for the foundation. Angel Aloma, executive director of Food for the Poor, tells me NGOs are less likely than governments to change because of their different cultures and reluctance to work together. Louise Ivers of Partners in Health said the most interesting news in the hurricane response was a cholera vaccination campaign that was made possible by support from the UN and   NGOs but “very much led by the Haitian government.”
•     Heifer International   donated food,   seeds   and seedlings to thousands of farmers who had lost everything. It took days for the president to address the nation, and when aid workers and money flooded in, they largely bypassed the government.  
The mayor of the hard-hit town of Port Salut, Wilson Denard, says he’s been working with multiple government ministries, as well as nongovernmental organizations, on various aspects of humanitarian relief and reconstruction. In 2013, CARE partnered with public and private entities to develop a social safety net program. That’s not just because it’s better equipped now, but it’s also being more intentional about asserting control. A major problem after the earthquake was how little this was happening: Some NGOs insisted on going it alone, even waging turf wars when partnering up   would have better served those in   need. Jean-Luc Poncelet, country director for the Pan American Health Organization, says that’s why the government’s role in coordinating these efforts is especially important. Vigreux just wishes it had happened earlier: “What is really sad,” he says, “is that between 2010 and 2012 there was so much money available   that could have been better used, with expanded cooperation between actors.”
•     Oxfam’s Marie Rivette says she now sees more international-domestic partnerships. Aid veterans agree that turf wars continue. This was clear in the statement   issued by the Haitian Embassy in Washington the day after the storm; it expressed that the government was responding to the disaster and that anyone who wanted to help should work with local institutions. PRI.org

Just over three months ago, on Oct. In just 35 seconds, the 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and claimed more   than 200,000 lives.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Still, the government’s near absence in the midst of the crisis was surprising. Persistent problems
Although great strides have been made here, not everyone has learned to cooperate — yet. As I drove around the disaster zone in the days after Hurricane Matthew, speaking with aid workers and others on hand, I was struck by what I heard over and over again: “We have learned from the mistakes of the earthquake response.”  
So, as horrible as the hurricane was, Haiti has been   able to apply some of those lessons — and more recently, it has led to a much-improved disaster response. 4, Hurricane Matthew dealt another devastating blow to the country. By contrast, in the aftermath of the earthquake, outside organizations rushed in and tried to do everything themselves. Dr. Lesson 2: NGOs must cooperate
The consensus in the aid world is clear: International NGOs need to cooperate more with each other, with local organizations and with the government. There was a lack of quality control, and there were redundancies and gaps in aid, and   many Americans wondered where their money had gone — either the tax dollars slated for earthquake response, or, the nearly half a billion dollars that went to the American Red Cross.   
Lesson 1: The government must be in charge
In the earthquake, Haiti lost its National Palace and main government buildings, and many civil servants lost their homes and loved ones, if not their own lives.

Tillerson hedges on climate science, but supports Paris agreement


The position, repeated several times during a day-long hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, puts him at odds with the president-elect’s campaign vow to “cancel” the landmark global accord. Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil until two weeks ago, did not mention the accord or climate change in his nine-page prepared introductory remarks. But again and again in his wide-ranging testimony, he was pressed by Democrats to articulate his views on the climate crisis, because as secretary of state he would have to lead the country’s climate diplomacy. Cushman Jr. Though Tillerson cautiously backed the Paris agreement, mainly to ensure other countries are doing their fair share of climate action, on other climate change issues he was more doubtful. Tom Udall of New Mexico, noting that more than 190 countries had come together to tackle climate change. Listen to the full interview. He pushed back against the growing scientific evidence that links global warming to severe weather events, habitat loss and spread of certain diseases. and Marianne Lavelle for Inside Climate News. “We’re better served by being at that table than leaving the table,” Tillerson said in response to a question from Democratic Sen. Rex Tillerson   told the Senate panel considering his nomination for secretary of state that he supported the United States remaining in the Paris climate agreement and that he has made his views known to Donald Trump.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. By Neela Banerjee, John H. To read the rest of their article, click   here. He also declined to answer questions about Exxon’s ambitious in-house climate research in the 1970s and why it pivoted to funding climate denial campaigns afterward, telling senators to ask the company. But Tillerson acknowledged that this advice would have to be squared with Trump’s own promises to put “America first” in the new administration’s energy policy, which heavily favors the unrestricted use of fossil fuels.