Browsing articles from "February, 2019"

Floods Turn Northern California Towns Into Islands: ‘Our World Is Getting Smaller’

Feb 28, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Floods Turn Northern California Towns Into Islands: ‘Our World Is Getting Smaller’

A playground sits under water in a flooded neighborhood in Guerneville, California.

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A playground sits under water in a flooded neighborhood in Guerneville, California.

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Guerneville, Calif., “is officially an island,” the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said, after heavy rains caused the Russian River to rise nearly 14 feet above its flood stage Wednesday night. The high waters isolated both Guerneville and nearby Monte Rio.

The Russian River’s flood stage in Guerneville is 32 feet. But it reached nearly 46 feet Wednesday night, and the National Weather Service predicted major flood conditions will continue Thursday, because it will take time for all that water to recede.

As of Thursday morning, waters were finally beginning to come down and there had been no calls for emergency rescues in Guerneville overnight, the sheriff’s office said.

Rescue workers evacuate residents on a truck as they drive through a flooded neighborhood in Forestville, California.

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Rescue workers evacuate residents on a truck as they drive through a flooded neighborhood in Forestville, California.

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The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation order Tuesday afternoon, when the river was first predicted to surpass its flood stage. By Wednesday morning, the department said, “Guerneville is land locked. You cannot get into or out of town. All roads leading to the community are flooded.”

The river crested at 45.38 feet, the NWS said, announcing preliminary results Thursday morning. The water flooded thousands of buildings in Sonoma County, member station KQED’s Molly Peterson reports.

Ari Herman, left, and Lea Herman, right, embrace as they look at a flooded section of highway 116 in Guerneville, California.

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Ari Herman, left, and Lea Herman, right, embrace as they look at a flooded section of highway 116 in Guerneville, California.

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Near a bridge crossing the Russian River, Peterson spoke to local resident Darryl Cooper, who braved mud and high water to launch a boat from his truck. Cooper was on a mission, he told Peterson.

“I’m gonna deliver two packs of smokes to my friend who’s on an island right now — in his house,” Cooper said. “And I’ve got canoes. We’re gonna canoe down River Boulevard.”

A neighborhood sits in floodwaters near Guerneville, California.

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A neighborhood sits in floodwaters near Guerneville, California.

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Residents used anything they could find to get out and about and to reach people who were stranded. As roadways became streams and rivers, cars were replaced by paddleboards, canoes, rowboats — and in at least one case, an oar-driven dumpster.

The water reached near-historic high levels, falling a few feet short of earlier devastating floods that have hit Guerneville, some 75 miles northwest of San Francisco.

The Russian River’s highest recorded level was measured at 48.56 feet during a catastrophic flood in February 1986. Torrential rain from winter storms also brought dangerously high water as recently as 2006. The current floods are by far the worst in the past five years; 2017’s flood stage topped out at 37.82 feet.

Rich Willson paddles through the miniature golf course in Guerneville, California.

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Rich Willson paddles through the miniature golf course in Guerneville, California.

Karl Mondon/MediaNews Group via Getty Images

The National Weather Service categorizes any floods above 45 feet as “disastrous” for Guerneville, predicting nearly all of its downtown would flood at that height. At 44 feet, water is high enough to flood the Safeway grocery store and main business areas in Monte Rio and Guerneville Park.

In Monte Rio, Fire Chief Steve Baxman told Peterson that crews have been working to clear roads — but new landslides keep closing new stretches.

“Our world is getting smaller,” Baxman said.

A view of a flooded vineyard near Guerneville, California. The Russian River has crested over flood stage and is expected to continue to rise to record levels and inundate the town of Guerneville.

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A view of a flooded vineyard near Guerneville, California. The Russian River has crested over flood stage and is expected to continue to rise to record levels and inundate the town of Guerneville.

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Guerneville’s downtown is lined with shops and restaurants; dozens of wineries are a short drive away. But some of those vineyards are now under water, thanks to storms that brought intense rainfall to the area.

Flood warnings prompted officials to urge some 4,000 people to seek higher ground in the Guerneville and Monte Rio; similar calls went out in the nearby community of Yolo, where Cache Creek’s waters flowed over a levee Wednesday. Yolo County officials lifted an evacuation order late last night.

Highway 116 cuts through a flooded neighborhood in Guerneville, California.

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Highway 116 cuts through a flooded neighborhood in Guerneville, California.

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Long sections of Highway 116 were closed, either covered by floodwaters or cut off by mudslides. While Guerneville seemed to have the worst rain and flooding, other towns also faced damaging water and evacuations, as the Russian, Napa, Sacramento and other rivers topped their flood stages.

“Rivers and creeks continued to rise in Napa Wednesday,” KQED reports. “Napa River had risen to about 18 feet by noon Wednesday, according to a bridge marking.”

As the storm brought rain and snow to Northern California, an avalanche in the Sierra Nevada range forced two Amtrak trains to stop in their tracks and reverse direction, The Associated Press reports.

The state highway patrol used a helicopter to take a woman out of the small city’s downtown Wednesday, in what was called a medical emergency. The National Guard also sent help rescue teams in Guerneville and Monte Rio, in the form of six high-water vehicles.

Mailboxes sit underwater in a flooded neighborhood on in Forestville, California.

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Mailboxes sit underwater in a flooded neighborhood on in Forestville, California.

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There’s no rain in Thursday’s forecast for Guerneville, but there’s a chance of heavy rainfall Friday night, the National Weather Service said. There’s also a chance for more showers through next Wednesday.

Residents of Guerneville and other affected communities must now wait for the water to go away, so they can clean up the mud and take stock of the damage.

A ‘Period’ Movie Won The Oscar! So Why Are Some Menstrual Health Experts Ambivalent?

Feb 28, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on A ‘Period’ Movie Won The Oscar! So Why Are Some Menstrual Health Experts Ambivalent?

Producer Melissa Berton (center) and director Rayka Zehtabchi (right) accept an Oscar for their documentary ‘Period. End of Sentence.’

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Producer Melissa Berton (center) and director Rayka Zehtabchi (right) accept an Oscar for their documentary ‘Period. End of Sentence.’

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The moment the Oscar for best documentary short was announced, Marni Sommer’s email account started blowing up.

The award last Sunday night went to Period. End of Sentence, a 26-minute film that profiles women in an Indian village who band together to manufacture affordable menstrual pads.

A Menstrual Pad Movie Wins An Oscar

Sommer, a professor at Columbia University, is one of a small group of public health scholars who for years have been trying to convince fellow researchers and policymakers that the fact that many poor women lack access to menstrual products and hygiene is a serious problem. (For a sense of how lonely Sommer’s crusade was during the early years you can read this NPR piece.)

Now Hollywood was giving their often taboo subject the star treatment.

So Sommer says the tone of her colleagues’ emails was largely “just utter delight that [menstrual hygiene] had achieved this level of awareness-raising and attention.” And on that point, she adds, “I one hundred percent concur. I’ve got a colleague who for two decades has been saying, ‘We’ve got to break the silence around menstruation.’ And I wrote her, ‘Well, I think we’ve smashed it.’ “

But the joy has been tempered by some nagging concerns – particularly around the movie’s catch phrase – proclaimed by producer Melissa Berton as she signed off her acceptance speech: “A period should end a sentence — not a girl’s education.”

“As beautiful as that quote is,” says Sommer, with a sigh, “in terms of the evidence, I don’t think we’re that far along.” That’s because to date no one has actually done a rigorous study demonstrating that girls’ difficulties managing their periods are leading them to miss class — let alone drop out of school.

To be sure, as girls in poor countries reach puberty, substantial shares leave school – either by choice or because their families pull them out. Also, in a series of small, focus-group style studies in a range of countries, girls have reported that they lack adequate menstrual hygiene supplies. And says, Sommer, girls have reported “that this is one of many issues that makes engaging in and participating regularly in school problematic.”

But that’s a far cry from proving that the barriers to menstrual hygiene are causing educational harm – for example that, as a result, girls are forced to skip class or that they drop out altogether.

And Sommer notes that there are plenty of other possible explanations for why so many girls stop their schooling at puberty. Their families may believe it’s now time for them to get married. Or the parents might worry that once a girl reaches her teens, spending time outside the home could lead her into a relationship in which she gets pregnant. Or, often the girl drops out because she has gotten pregnant.

It’s also possible that the challenges around menstrual hygiene are one of a constellation of factors that combine to end a girls’ education. That, as Sommer puts it, “it’s one more thing that makes going to school difficult” – and therefore can tip the scales in favor of dropping out.

Which explanation is correct? “I would say it’s an excellent question,” says Sommer. Unfortunately, when it comes to mounting research studies that could answer it, “the funding just hasn’t been there.”

Sommer has been trying to change that. In fact, she’s organizing a meeting in Geneva in March for scholars and policy makers from disciplines ranging from adolescent health to education to sanitation infrastructure. They will review the existing evidence around menstrual hygiene challenges and lay out specific gaps that researchers could fill.

She’s also looking forward to the results of a study currently underway in Kenya led by Penelope Phillips-Howard of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom. That study is testing whether providing girls menstrual cups (similar to a pad) can extend the number of years they stay in school. (A similar study in Uganda suggested it can – but those findings also came with significant caveats. For instance, more than half of the girls in the study turned out to be too young to get their periods.)

Yet even as Sommer argues for the necessity of such studies, she’s ambivalent about what they imply. That’s because of a second quibble she and some of her colleagues have with the “a period should end a sentence – not a girl’s education” trope: It suggests that menstrual hygiene is only worth addressing to the extent that it impacts education.

Sure, says Sommer, if studies do end up showing a link, that will be helpful in making the case to governments and donors that they should address menstrual hygiene barriers. But even if it turns out there isn’t much of a connection to educational outcomes, being able to manage your period “is a human right,” says Sommer. “We shouldn’t have to justify that girls are deserving of an environment where they can just meet their basic bodily needs.”

Lastly, Sommer is disappointed that the recent surge of interest in menstrual hygiene – as exemplified by the documentary — has “this intense focus on pads as the solution. This idea that if we just provide pads we’re going to solve the problem.”

She points to many other barriers to managing periods in school that could be equally or possibly more serious: Many schools lack running water to wash your hands and toilets with doors you can lock for privacy.

“The studies out there are not looking at toilets,” Sommer laments. “Somehow, no one finds toilets sexy.”

Then there’s the problem of teachers who are unaware and even insensitive to girls’ needs. And the dearth of education for girls about menstruation and how to manage it.

“Providing girls with a product can only get you so far if you don’t have the enabling environment in the school, supportive teachers and information about what’s happening to your body,” says Sommer.

Also crucial to address, she adds, is the way many cultures stigmatize menstruation to the point that girls are unable to talk about it and even forced to isolate themselves when they are menstruating. “I was just in Nepal and seeing the way girls [who are menstruating] are not able to go into temples, not able to cook, was really profound,” she says. “There are these immense restrictions around girls’ lives that have become normalized.”

Period. End of Sentence does at least touch on this last point, says Sommer. And she’s hopeful that the result will be to prompt deeper examination and unpacking of the prejudices animating such attitudes.

“The benefit of this movie is that it opens the conversation,” she says.

And who knows, maybe someday someone will even make a movie about toilets for girls. “Well, probably not,” adds Sommer, laughing. But a researcher can dream.

SpaceX Readies For Key Test Of Capsule Built To Carry Astronauts Into Space

Feb 28, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on SpaceX Readies For Key Test Of Capsule Built To Carry Astronauts Into Space

In this illustration, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon approaches the International Space Station for docking. The capsule has room to carry seven astronauts.

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In this illustration, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon approaches the International Space Station for docking. The capsule has room to carry seven astronauts.

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On a launch pad in Florida, SpaceX is getting ready for the first flight test of its new space capsule designed to carry astronauts.

Even though the Crew Dragon capsule won’t have any people on board when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blasts off Saturday morning, assuming the schedule doesn’t slip, it’s still a huge deal for U.S. spaceflight.

That’s because ever since NASA retired the space shuttles in 2011, the agency has had to rely on Russian space vehicles to get astronauts to the International Space Station. John Logsdon, a space historian with The George Washington University, says this SpaceX flight test will be the first step toward restoring the nation’s ability to put people in orbit.

“And because it is that first step,” Logsdon says, “it has a kind of transcendent significance beyond the event itself.”

The last time SpaceX did a major flight test, the company tested its big new Falcon Heavy rocket by launching a cherry red convertible Tesla on a celestial joyride — images beamed back showed a space-suited mannequin named “Starman” at the wheel, cruising out into the universe accompanied by a David Bowie soundtrack. So hopes are high that the upcoming launch will be an entertaining show.

After all, the founder of SpaceX is a well-known showman who is rarely boring. Elon Musk is on a mission to colonize Mars, and his company has spent the past decade and a half methodically marching toward that goal. It started by offering satellite launch services at rock-bottom prices, then moved to ferrying cargo back and forth to the space station for NASA. Now, it’s flight-testing its first crew vehicle.

“Human spaceflight is basically the core mission of SpaceX,” company executive Hans Koenigsmann told reporters in a preflight briefing. “So we are really excited to do this. There’s nothing more important for us than this endeavor.”

For the latest test, another mannequin will be on board. This one will have all kinds of sensors to see how a real human would experience the trip. “We measure the responses on the human body, obviously, and measure the environment,” Koenigsmann says. “We want to make sure that everything is perfect.”

A mockup of the Crew Dragon spacecraft was on display during a 2018 media tour of SpaceX’s headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne, Calif.

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A mockup of the Crew Dragon spacecraft was on display during a 2018 media tour of SpaceX’s headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne, Calif.

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There’s actually room for seven astronauts in the white, bell-shaped Crew Dragon, which is basically a souped-up version of the SpaceX robotic cargo ship. If the capsule blasts off as planned and everything checks out, it will travel to the space station and dock there. The three astronauts currently living in the outpost will be able to open the hatch and go inside to load and unload cargo before the capsule returns to Earth and splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean.

That means this mission does involve people, and NASA and SpaceX have been super-focused on safety. “We’re doing things that are really risky, that most normal human beings don’t do,” says NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier, who notes that his agency and SpaceX do have different cultures. He thinks that’s been a good thing as they’ve collaborated on creating a kind of private taxi service to space that NASA can use to get astronauts to the space station, freeing up NASA to focus on building a massive rocket for deep-space exploration.

“It’s fun working with a new partner that approaches the problem in a slightly different way. They don’t carry the same background that we did in NASA and they don’t approach the design exactly the same way we do,” Gerstenmaier says. “And that’s cool. I mean, that’s really neat.”

NASA has already picked a pair of veteran space travelers to be the first to take-off in the Crew Dragon, assuming Saturday’s test and others go well.

Kathy Lueders, the manager of what NASA calls its Commercial Crew Program, says she recently accompanied those two astronauts when they went out to a launch pad at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to see the SpaceX vehicle that’s about to go up.

“And it really gave us a sense of getting ready, and realizing that the next vehicle that we’re going to be walking up to on the pad is going to be their crewed flight test,” Lueders says.

That piloted flight test could happen as soon as July.

Another company that’s collaborating with NASA, Boeing, is also working toward the first flight of its new astronaut ride. It’s called the Starliner, and an uncrewed flight test is expected no earlier than April.

Sweden Arrests Suspected Russian Spy

Feb 28, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Sweden Arrests Suspected Russian Spy

The Swedish flag. On Tuesday evening, Swedish law enforcement arrested an individual suspected of gathering intelligence for Russia.

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The Swedish flag. On Tuesday evening, Swedish law enforcement arrested an individual suspected of gathering intelligence for Russia.

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Authorities in Sweden have arrested a person on suspicion of being a Russian agent.

The individual, whose name has not been disclosed, was passing information to Russia since 2017, the Swedish Security Service says. He or she was working in a high-technology sector “on tasks known by our Service to be the type of intelligence sought after by foreign powers,” the agency said.

Swedish police officers working with security service agents arrested the suspect on Tuesday evening, in the midst of a meeting in central Stockholm.

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“This individual is suspected of having been recruited as an agent by a Russian intelligence officer who was working under diplomatic cover in Sweden,” Daniel Stenling, Head of Counter-Intelligence at the Swedish Security Service, said in a statement.

The agency is conducting a criminal investigation into the matter, led by a national security prosecutor.

Stenling described the threat facing Sweden today as “greater than it has been for several years.”

Advances in technology have helped state actors use more sophisticated approaches to gather intelligence in cyberspace, he said. “At the same time, the more traditional intelligence-gathering approach, using recruited agents to collect information, is still being used,” he said. “This combination enables state actors to broaden and deepen their collection of classified information.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov did not comment on the arrest and instead redirected an inquiry to Russian’s Foreign Ministry. Its embassy in Sweden has not made public remarks.

Video footage, allegedly showing the suspect being led out of a restaurant, made the rounds on Swedish media, according to the BBC. A witness reportedly said that officers ran into the restaurant and surrounded a table where two people were eating. A second person was reported detained and later released for having diplomatic immunity.

The arrest comes as the Scandinavian nation addresses recent tension with Russia. Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently summoned Russia’s ambassador to Sweden, requesting an explanation for a Russian fighter jet which flew within 20 meters of a Swedish aircraft.

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After Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, Sweden approved a plan to bring back military conscription. It also staged a collaborative military exercise with NATO powers despite being neutral on the alliance, NPR’s Colin Dwyer reported last year.

Sweden has considered whether to join NATO, prompting the Kremlin’s fear of unwanted expansion. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that if Sweden, and Finland, become NATO member states, Moscow would respond.

In ‘The Good Immigrant,’ New Americans Grapple With Their Polarized Country

Feb 27, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on In ‘The Good Immigrant,’ New Americans Grapple With Their Polarized Country

From left to right: Chimene Suleyman, Fatima Farheen Mirza, Daniel José Older and Nicole Dennis-Benn.

Courtesy of the author, Juergen Frank, John Midgley, Jason Berger/Little, Brown and Company


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Courtesy of the author, Juergen Frank, John Midgley, Jason Berger/Little, Brown and Company

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Fatima Farheen Mirza’s family received an unexpected gift.

At least, that’s how it seemed when a neighbor’s daughter delivered a bag of candy to their front door. Mirza’s parents had recently moved to Texas. At first, Mirza’s mother thought the candy might be a sort of welcome to the neighborhood.

“Then Mumma looked closer,” Mirza writes.

It wasn’t a gift bag, but a Ziploc plastic bag — “unadorned and filled only with Skittles.”


The Good Immigrant

At the time, Donald Trump was running for president. And his son, Donald Trump Jr. had just compared Syrian refugees to Skittles. “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you,” Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter, “would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

Mirza’s parents insisted the Skittles were no big deal. Until finally, Mirza challenged her mother to eat one of them.

“Mumma stood from the couch,” she writes, “lifted the bag of Skittles, and emptied them all into the trash.”

Mirza’s essay appears in the new book The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America, along with contributions from other first- and second-generation immigrants.

The debate over immigration has exposed real differences in how Americans understand America. Many on the political left say the country is great because of immigrants. Many on the right agree with President Trump – that America can only be great if immigration is dramatically curtailed especially across the southern border.

In The Good Immigrant, these up-and-coming writers, journalists and artists share personal stories that grapple with a country increasingly polarized about immigrants and immigration.

Mirza, the author of the novel A Place for Us, says she decided to write about the Skittles episode despite her father’s objections because it illustrates the fear and mistrust her family regularly encounters in the U.S. And how the family is divided about the right way to respond.

“One thing that my mom would always say after these kind of anti-immigrant interactions would be to say you know we’re just gonna lead by example and prove that we’re normal people,” said Mirza. But she found that approach frustrating, because it put her family in the position of having to “prove that you’re human.”

The Good Immigrant is a sequel of sorts to a book of the same name published in the U.K. in 2016. The co-editor of the U.S. version, Chimene Suleyman says the title is a nod to the constant pressure to demonstrate that you’re the right kind of immigrant.

“When you’re an immigrant there’s kind of the default setting of suspicion and paranoia that surrounds you,” Suleyman said. “You’re not really the good immigrant. You don’t start from that position. And you have to jump through kind of almost superhuman hoops before kind of allowed to one of the good ones, before people stop being fearful of you.”

The other contributors talked about what being a “good immigrant'”means to them.

Chimene Suleyman is a co-editor of The Good Immigrant.

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Chimene Suleyman is a co-editor of The Good Immigrant.

Courtesy of the author

“For me the good immigrant was staying true to family, to what my parents wanted me to be,” said novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn. “That promise, that American dream that they sold to me.”

Dennis-Benn moved to New York from Jamaica when she was a teenager. She was the first in her family to go to college, where she was expected to study medicine.

“I was working class Jamaican. So that was the expectation,” she said.

But after several years in school, Dennis-Benn realized she didn’t want to be a doctor. She wanted to be a writer.

In her essay for The Good Immigrant, Dennis-Benn writes about moment when she confides to a few other immigrants in her pre-med program that she’s thinking of changing her major to English.

“Chi-Chi, the Nigerian in the group, made a clucking noise and said, ‘You can’t be serious,'” Dennis-Benn writes. “‘If you want English, then what you doing here?’ She emphasized ‘here’ to remind me that I was taking my opportunity for granted, that we were students at one of the most competitive schools for pre-med in the country, that any first-generation immigrant with the weight of her family on her back would kill to take my spot.”

Dennis-Benn’s debut novel Here Comes the Sun was named one of the best books of 2016 by The New York Times and others.

Several of the writers said they grew up feeling intense pressure to assimilate in order to play the part of the “good immigrant.” For the book, author Daniel José Older wrote about his childhood in Boston in the 1980s.

“I really feel like I looked out into the world outside of my doors and just saw a world that had no use for bilingualism. That had no use for Latino culture,” Older said.

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Older says he resisted learning Spanish, the language his mother spoke growing up in Cuba because he wanted to seem more American.

“And I think there’s a tragedy in that,” Older said. “In that form of the immigrant experience that so many of us have that tells us that where we come from doesn’t matter. Because of course it matters so deeply.”

All of the contributors I talked to say it’s important to write about these issues now. Because the Trump presidency has brought immigration to the forefront of national debate. And it has brought anti-immigrant bias out into the open.

“The Trump era is an explosion of what’s been going on for so long. This is all built into the fabric of this country,” Older said.

That sentiment resonated with co-editor Chimene Suleyman. She told the story of a recent argument with a stranger outside a bar in Brooklyn, where she lives. It’s what she wrote about in her essay for the book.

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“He was just like a drunk dude looking to have a fight,” Suleyman said. “And he started with this whole like in America, this is how we do things in America. If you don’t like it go back to where he came from, kind of thing.”

Daniel José Older wrote about his childhood in Boston in the 1980s for The Good Immigrant.

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Daniel José Older wrote about his childhood in Boston in the 1980s for The Good Immigrant.

John Midgley/Little, Brown and Company

Suleyman grew up in London. Her parents immigrated to the U.K. from Turkey before she was born. But she never really felt like people accepted her as British, because she’s Muslim and clearly not Anglo-Saxon.

Now in New York, Suleyman says, her British accent changes the way people see her. Like the guy who overheard her talking outside the bar.

“It started with him calling me a white b****,” she said. “And then me foolishly being like I’m not white. Like that like that matters at one in the morning when you’re shouting at some man that you don’t know on the street. And it just sort of unraveled from that where he then called me a Kim Kardashian b**** instead.”

Earlier in her life, Suleyman says, she might have written an essay trying to change the mind of that drunk guy in the bar. But not anymore.

“We have to, I think, focus a lot less on trying to convince bigots to not be bigots. They can’t be the center of my attention,” she said.

“People like us sitting in this room, that has to be my focus. Helping each other and listening to each other is far more important to me than constantly arguing with people to allow us to just live and to exist and to be happy.”

In other words, Suleyman doesn’t want to wait for other people to decide who’s a good immigrant. She wants immigrants to answer that question for themselves.

Wherefore Art Thou, Gnocchi-o? Fair Verona Has Another Enduring Love Story

Feb 27, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Wherefore Art Thou, Gnocchi-o? Fair Verona Has Another Enduring Love Story

Sebastiano Ridolfi tries on the costume of Papà del Gnoco, or “Gnocchi Dad,” the Santa-esque figure who’s the symbol of the celebration in Verona. Although Ridolfi didn’t win the election, he was received warmly by the crowd and remains committed to challenging traditions.

Andrea Di Martino for NPR


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Andrea Di Martino for NPR

Sebastiano Ridolfi tries on the costume of Papà del Gnoco, or “Gnocchi Dad,” the Santa-esque figure who’s the symbol of the celebration in Verona. Although Ridolfi didn’t win the election, he was received warmly by the crowd and remains committed to challenging traditions.

Andrea Di Martino for NPR

Forget Romeo and Juliet. The most riveting love story out of Verona is about another couple whose passion thrives today: the city and gnocchi.

You can find pillowy potato dumplings anywhere in Italy, or possibly, the planet. But it’s only here, in this former Roman colony perched on the Adige River, that the dish has inspired an actual holiday. It’s called Venerdì Gnocolar — in English, “Gnocchi Friday” — and it always falls during Carnival on the final Friday before Lent. This year, that’s March 1.

And one sure sign it’s approaching is the sight of a fat, bearded gentleman holding a huge, bejeweled fork piercing the world’s largest (fake) piece of gnocchi.

Meet Papà del Gnoco, or “Gnocchi Dad,” the Santa-esque figure who’s the symbol of this celebration. He’s the crowned king of Verona’s carnival, and he and his court of costumed assistants — who also wield oversized cutlery — head the city’s grand parade on Venerdì Gnocolar. But this is no monarchy. Each year, about a month before the big event, a new Papà del Gnoco is elected by the citizens of Verona in San Zeno square, the heart of the neighborhood where this tradition was born waaaaaaaay back in 1531.

It’s here — in the shadow of the Romanesque Basilica of San Zeno, dedicated to Verona’s always-smiling patron saint — that a terrible famine ended when a group of wealthy families distributed all of the ingredients necessary to make gnocchi. (Not including New World potatoes, which were added to the recipe later.)

So today, it’s where the parade that has commemorated this act of charity ever since ends in an all-night gnocchi party, explains Alberto Botturi as he sips white wine inside Osteria Abazia, which sits on the corner of the square. “This is the place to be in Verona for Carnival. It’s like the Super Bowl here,” says Botturi, who owns a movie theater in San Zeno. Sara Zaffani, who’s prepping appetizers behind the bar, chimes in that Abazia serves homemade gnocchi every day — three types: with tomato, with ragu, and with pastissada de caval, a horsemeat-based sauce that’s very Veronese.

This, naturally, sets off a conversation about gnocchi. Botturi is a butter and sage guy, although he notes that, “I’m not against horse. That’s our heritage.” (Back when it was a poor, war-torn region, Verona didn’t let dead horses go to waste.) Then there’s another kind with cinnamon and sugar, but only old men like it, Zaffani says. Is gnocchi in Verona different than anywhere else? Botturi wouldn’t know. He’s never eaten it outside of the city.

On the final Friday before Lent, the people of Verona celebrate their love of gnocchi with a Carnival presided over by Papà del Gnoco and his court.

Vicky Hallett for NPR


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On the final Friday before Lent, the people of Verona celebrate their love of gnocchi with a Carnival presided over by Papà del Gnoco and his court.

Vicky Hallett for NPR

His most recent serving came just a few days earlier at the election festivities, where free gnocchi is available for all. It was a rainy morning, and Botturi had to wait about 30 minutes in line at the polls, but he didn’t mind doing his part for tradition — partly because he was giving it a jolt.

“I voted for the gay one,” he says.

That’s right, in 2019, for the election of Verona’s 489th Papà del Gnoco, the matchup included an openly gay candidate for the first time. Prior to the election, Sebastiano Ridolfi, a 36-year-old manager in a digital communication company, was best known for his local gay rights advocacy, as well as a stunt he pulled during the Venerdì Gnocolar parade two years ago. He donned a suit and a floppy blonde wig, and he posed as President Donald Trump. Flanked by a Melania lookalike and a MAGA-hat-wearing “son,” Ridolfi proclaimed his intentions to build a wall. (His proposed structure would keep out the people of nearby Vicenza, which, incidentally, is home to a large American military base.)

He had such a blast that he decided to take his impression to the next level: Ridolfi campaigned for the position of this year’s Papà del Gnoco as Trump with the slogan “Make Verona Gnoco again!”

What started as a joke quickly became serious for Ridolfi, who saw that his involvement could boost his city’s interest in the age-old contest. “This tradition was slowly decreasing,” he says. “I saw the possibility to do something different. My goal was to bring back the original spirit, but with a more contemporary style.”

Indeed, locals have noticed that Verona’s infatuation with its gnocchi-fueled festival has waned in recent decades. While Papà del Gnoco candidates once needed to be from the San Zeno neighborhood, a lack of entrants forced the rules to be loosened so they can be from anywhere in the city. “Carnival is now smaller, more contained,” says Virginia Conta, who runs the food tour company Romeo and Juliet Guide with Sara Valitutto. Both remember a more raucous bash in their youth, complete with teenagers pelting each other with flour and eggs. (Two ingredients in gnocchi!)

Outsiders may not notice anything amiss. “If you come on that Friday, you’ll find gnocchi is in every bar and every restaurant,” reassures Valitutto. And their groups are always pleasantly surprised by the spectacle of floats and dancers winding through the city streets — even if they are hesitant to try pastissada de caval. “It’s very tasty, and made with wine. But there are people who feel it’s like eating dogs,” Valitutto says.

The problem, explains Valerio Corradi, president of Bacanal del Gnoco (the organization that runs this whole shebang), is that the event needs to evolve. His predecessor held the job for 55 years. “Everything happened automatically. There wasn’t anything new,” says Corradi, who took over three years ago. Although he doesn’t have much of a budget — virtually everyone who participates is a volunteer — Corradi has been gradually implementing updates, such as commissioning a catchy theme (“Verona, Verona”) from spiky-haired pop singer Sergio Cremonese, whose grandfather was a Papà del Gnoco.

Another recent initiative: the Carnival bus. In the weeks leading up to Venerdì Gnocolar, a decommissioned city bus that’s been transformed into a rolling restaurant serves free gnocchi and red wine at stops all over town.

From left to right, parodies of Barron Trump in a “Make America Great Again” hat, Ivanka Trump, a cardboard cutout of Sebastiano Ridolfi when not in costume, Ridolfi in Trump costume, a parody of Melania Trump and a man in a secret service costume.

Andrea Di Martino for NPR


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From left to right, parodies of Barron Trump in a “Make America Great Again” hat, Ivanka Trump, a cardboard cutout of Sebastiano Ridolfi when not in costume, Ridolfi in Trump costume, a parody of Melania Trump and a man in a secret service costume.

Andrea Di Martino for NPR

At its first destination this season, the Borgo Venezia market, there’s a line to meet Papà del Gnoco and one of his sidekicks (called “Macaroni,” the previous name for gnocchi). Upon closer examination of the person wearing the bushy white beard and elaborate costume — an ivory and red ensemble adorned with lace and stuffed full of padding — it’s not one of this year’s candidates. “Once you become Papà del Gnoco, you are always Papà del Gnoco,” explains Arnaldo Leso, 73, who was elected in 1995. There are too many public appearances for just one guy, so former winners pitch in when necessary.

He has been doing this for decades, but the San Zeno native is still excited to smile for photos with babies, and, of course, talk about a certain food. “Now in these days, the moms and grandmas are all making gnocchi by hand,” Leso says. Two retired teachers sitting nearby, Louisa and Carla, nod in agreement while they chow down on their bowls of gnocchi, generously covered in donkey meat ragu. (Yep, another Veronese specialty.)

To the younger generation, this devotion of time and effort to Verona’s rituals can seem bizarre. “You can’t believe that people take it that seriously,” says lawyer Alberto Lorusso, a friend of Ridolfi’s. But after delving into this world of costumed craziness for the election, he has a new appreciation for Carnival and the volunteers who make it happen. Why do they do it? “They have a heart that’s so big,” Lorusso says.

This year’s campaign proved to be more controversial than any in recent memory, as far-right politicians argued that there shouldn’t be a gay Papà del Gnoco. That led to an opposing outcry for inclusion. Ridolfi boasts that he even got an endorsement from Stuart Milk, nephew of the slain civil rights activist Harvey Milk.

A young boy shows his spirit by dressing up as Papà del Gnoco, wielding oversized cutlery spearing a giant piece of gnocchi.

Vicky Hallett for NPR


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A young boy shows his spirit by dressing up as Papà del Gnoco, wielding oversized cutlery spearing a giant piece of gnocchi.

Vicky Hallett for NPR

“Everything was sleepy here,” Ridolfi says. “But the fight between us lit up something new for the Carnival and the city. It’s the best edition ever, as Trump would say.”

By “us,” Ridolfi means his opponent, 47-year-old videomaker Francesco Gambale, who sports a real — and impressive — white beard, and takes his gnocchi with pastissada de caval. (Unlike Ridolfi, who goes for gorgonzola.) Despite being the more traditional candidate, Gambale embraced the unconventional campaign. “Together, we managed to approach many people not at all interested in Carnival before,” he says. For proof, just look at the record turnout on that rainy election day. More than 7,000 people voted, and hundreds more were still in line when the polls closed.

Two days later, both candidates meet again at the Palazzo della Gran Guardia, which stands across from the city’s Roman Arena on Piazza Brà. This is where the parade will start on March 1. But up first, a packed auditorium awaits the coronation of the victor: Gambale.

A marching band, majorettes shaking pom poms, and regional “royalty” (or at least, folks dressed up like it) welcome him to a gold armchair. He grips his fork scepter through a series of speeches, as well as an aerial silks performance recalling the story of the Verona Carnival. It gets frenzied and aggressive to remind viewers of the famine and near revolt, and then turns joyous and graceful as gnocchi restores the peace, leading to Verona’s happily ever after.

That feel-good mood continues tonight, as Ridolfi gets invited on stage for a hearty round of applause, and after the ceremony, when Gambale poses for photos with well-wishers. (Before each flash: “Uno, due, tre, gnocchi!”) Then everyone heads upstairs for — what else? — a gnocchi feast.

Will Ridolfi run again? “Let me sleep for a while and then we’ll see,” he jokes. But he has certainly developed a taste for challenging the status quo. As he ponders the future, he envisions other candidates he could help. “Traditionally, you have to be male to run, but that is something I would like to change,” he says. The same is true of the Macaroni, Papà del Gnoco’s loyal sidekicks. They were originally the male heads of families, but he sees no reason it has to remain a boys’ club today.

“Carnival is quite conservative,” Ridolfi says. “But as the best traditions, it adapts.”

Vicky Hallett is a freelance writer based in Florence, Italy.

Promising New Bed Net Strategy To Zap Malaria Parasite In Mosquitoes

Feb 27, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Promising New Bed Net Strategy To Zap Malaria Parasite In Mosquitoes

A female Anopheles gambiae mosquito feeds on human blood through a mosquito net.

Emily Lund


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Emily Lund

A female Anopheles gambiae mosquito feeds on human blood through a mosquito net.

Emily Lund

What if, instead of killing mosquitoes that carry malaria, we tried to kill the tiny malaria parasite inside the skeeters before they can pass it on to humans when they bite?

That’s a question that occurred to Flaminia Catteruccia and Doug Paton; she’s a lab head and he’s a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Decades of progress against the disease have stalled in recent years, prompting many to rethink our best tool in the fight – insecticide-treated bed nets.

The World Health Organization credits insecticide-treated bed nets with preventing an estimated 1.3 billion cases of malaria, and 6.8 million deaths from the disease since the year 2000. But there’s concern that mosquitoes are evolving resistance against the one class of insecticide used on the nets – pyrethroids. Many scientists believe the rapid emergence of insecticide resistance could be slowing efforts to eradicate the disease.

“There is a consensus in the field that we need new, and varied, tools to continue making progress against malaria,” says Samir Bhatt, a scientist who studies malaria epidemiology at Imperial College London.

Research published today in the journal Nature proposes such an approach — kill the parasite that causes malaria while it’s inside the mosquito instead of killing the mosquito itself. Catteruccia’s lab at Harvard University demonstrated that an antimalarial drug can be transmitted to mosquitoes through brief, direct contact and effectively halt the transmission of the parasite.

“This is a really big deal,” says Bhatt, who was not involved in the study. “Treated nets aren’t the sole answer, but it could be very important. I’m kind of surprised that no one had thought of it before.”

Resistance evolves

Pyrethroids are poised to become victims of their own success. Since the turn of the century over a billion pyrethroid-treated mosquito nets have been distributed around Africa and have proved remarkably effective in reducing malaria rates. Insecticide-treated bed nets are thought by researchers to be responsible for 68 percent of all averted malaria cases since 2000.

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These nets work so well because the person sleeping is physically protected but their scent attracts mosquitoes to land on the net. They absorb the insecticide through their legs and it later kills them. Fewer mosquitoes means fewer opportunities for malaria transmission.

But nature often finds a way around a seemingly powerful human intervention. In the past few years, cases of pyrethroid-resistant mosquitoes have increasingly popped up across Africa. Doug Paton, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard who co-led the study, says “mosquitoes we worked with in the field in Burkina Faso had essentially become immune to pyrethroid concentrations that normally kill mosquitoes.” Now, resistance is widespread and present in most populations across Africa.

To fight back, “higher and higher pyrethroid concentrations are being used to achieve similar effects,” says Catteruccia. This trend is problematic because insecticides are only useful in the narrow sweet spot of being deadly for insects but safe for humans. Higher concentrations may be less safe, according to Paton. Currently, pyrethroids are the only insecticide approved for use in mosquito nets, meaning there are no ready alternatives available.

The degree to which pyrethroid resistance is responsible for the stalled success of malaria control strategies is debatable, according to Catteruccia. But the looming issue prompted her lab to explore other options.

A new approach

Instead of experimenting with new chemicals to kill mosquitoes, Catteruccia and Paton considered the other side of the malaria equation: the parasite itself. Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, a unicellular protozoan that is picked up by a female mosquito who feeds on an infected host, multiplies in her gut and then quickly wriggles its way into human bloodstreams while the mosquito feeds on humans.

Antimalarial drugs in humans prevent the disease by stopping the Plasmodium parasite from reproducing in our bodies. While previous work had tried to introduce antimalarial medications to mosquitoes through feeding, these strategies never quite took off. Catteruccia’s team wanted to see if the contact mode-of-transfer that proved so effective in delivering insecticides via bed nets could work for antimalarials too.

The researchers coated a petri dish with ataquavone, a antimalarial drug commonly used in humans that disrupts the parasite’s mitochondria. Mosquitoes frequently landed on the treated surface for approximately six minutes, and then were fed a blood meal rife with the malaria parasite.

While control mosquitoes, who were not exposed to antimalarial drugs, were chock full of the parasites a week after the blood meal, none of the mosquitoes treated with antimalarial drugs harbored the parasite. None.

“Mosquitoes land on this surface, bounce around on it for a few minutes and then simply did not become infected after a parasite-filled blood meal,” says Paton. “We were hoping for an effect but were not expecting this kind of complete blocking of transmission.”

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Paton says part of this effectiveness stems from the vulnerability of Plasmodium at the stage of its life cycle inside a mosquito. There just aren’t nearly as many Plasmodium for the drug to kill inside the mosquito as there are inside humans, making it easier to wipe them out.

Catteruccia says these results are a proof-of-concept that antimalarial-treated bed nets could be a powerful new tool. She and colleagues argue adding both antimalarials and insecticides to bed nets on malaria transmission could considerably improve control efforts.

“We are at a stage in malaria control where we realize the necessity of additional, non-insecticide tools,” says Bhatt. “This study shows that antimalarials, in principle, could be put into bed nets and reduce transmission.”

Targeting the malaria parasite itself, rather than the mosquitoes, makes this intervention especially appealing to Bhatt. “Mosquitoes aren’t the problem, the parasite is the problem,” says Bhatt. “Because mosquitoes aren’t harmed by this, there’s no selection for them to develop resistance, resulting in less disruption to the ecosystem.”

Of course the parasite itself can evolve resistance, but Paton says this may be more manageable than insecticide resistance. It’s easy to combine antimalarials, of which there are many, to counter resistance.

Because bed nets are a familiar and established control in many parts of the world, an infrastructure for production and distribution already exists. Catteruccia says that adding antimalarials to bed nets could be a simple extra production step. Without having to reinvent the wheel, this intervention could be swiftly put to wide use.

Of course, it would need to be proven safe for humans and the environment, says Catteruccia. The drug they used in their study has already been approved for human use, which may speed up the process of further testing.

Atovaquone is currently quite expensive, and a cheaper alternative is needed for this treatment to be practical, according to Bhatt. Finding an alternative is certainly possible, he says — and more important, “this study shows that in principle, you can do this.”

“It’s not a panacea. It’s not a silver bullet,” says Bhatt. “But the only bullet we currently have is waning in strength, and these results suggest a promising alternative.”

Jonathan Lambert is an intern on NPR’s Science Desk. You can follow him on Twitter: @evolambert

WATCH: German Firefighters Work To Free Rotund Rat Stuck In Manhole Cover

Feb 27, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on WATCH: German Firefighters Work To Free Rotund Rat Stuck In Manhole Cover

A plump rat stuck in a manhole cover spurred volunteer firefighters and animal rescue workers to act in Bensheim, Germany, over the weekend.

Berufstierrettung-Rhein-Neckar/AP


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A plump rat stuck in a manhole cover spurred volunteer firefighters and animal rescue workers to act in Bensheim, Germany, over the weekend.

Berufstierrettung-Rhein-Neckar/AP

Sometimes the lowly sewer rat is the target of shrieks, kicks and extermination attempts. And sometimes yesterday’s vermin becomes today’s vaunted victim, inspiring a phalanx of rescuers to come to its aid.

At least that is what happened over the weekend in Germany, where a firefighter-cum-corpulent-critter rescue crew worked to free the animal in a pinch with a manhole cover.

An employee with the animal rescue group Rhein-Neckar had tried and failed to save the rat in the town of Bensheim Sunday, the Auerbach Volunteer Fire Department said in a statement. Realizing reinforcements were needed, firefighters were called in. No matter that they were responding to a “small animal” rescue call, they arrived aboard their firetruck, armed with equipment and decked out in full gear.

Operation rat disgorgement was underway.

At least eight firefighters encircled the manhole, taking in the animal’s pitiful plight. The rat was secured with a loop at the end of the pole, then the crew propped up the cover, held aloft with wedges. The suspended rodent wiggled as a firefighter worked a glove underneath in an effort to gently pop it out. It took some maneuvering, but finally the rat was released.

Watch the video:

In a what may have been an optimism that the rat had learned a lesson, its rescuers placed it back inside the sewer hole whence it had tried to emerge. Or maybe there is no other logical place for a sewer rat.

Whether it will be avoiding wee apertures or knocking off the knockwurst remains to be seen.

But for now the rat, which Rhein-Neckar says was unharmed, has lived to see another day and, along with the good work of its rescuers, has been lighting up the Internet. Variations of “bravo” and “thank you” appeared in hundreds of comments and in myriad languages under Rhein-Neckar’s Facebook post about the incident. And a YouTube video of the rescue has racked up more than one million views.

From Trailers To Tents: What Happens To Leftover Aid Supplies?

Feb 26, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on From Trailers To Tents: What Happens To Leftover Aid Supplies?

FEMA disaster relief trailers in storage.

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FEMA

FEMA disaster relief trailers in storage.

FEMA

FEMA is planning to sell off thousands of leftover trailer homes in Texas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent the trailers for temporarily homeless families after Hurricane Harvey struck in August 2017. But not all of them were used. Now FEMA is auctioning the leftovers online to the public with a minimum bid of $100 for trailers that range from 1 bedroom units, valued at $57,354, to 3-bedroom units with a value of $70,965.

This practice is controversial (more on that later).

And it brings up the question: What happens to surplus humanitarian aid?

Bassam Michel Ibrahim, head of global logistics for the Norwegian Refugee Council, an international aid group, says that a surplus of humanitarian supplies should be a rare occurrence. In his experience, relief organizations are consistently up against a lack of funding and a lack of supplies.

According to Ibrahim, aid missions usually go through an intense planning process to ensure that all supplies are delivered and used as intended. This detailed process allows aid groups to report to their donors exactly how their money is being used, and it means there are almost never leftovers.

If there is a surplus, Ibrahim says it’s usually because problems arise that are outside of their control – like conflict breaking out or a landslide cutting off the only road to a village – that prevent them from delivering the aid.

Nonetheless, surpluses do occur.

Guillaume Brumagne, a logistics supervisor at Doctors Without Borders, says that the medical aid group deals with leftover supplies on a regular basis because their teams bring a lot of items – including drugs, medical equipment and shelters – when they arrive in a country to address a health crisis. Once the crisis is over and it’s time to scale down, they must figure out what to do with what’s left.

“The general rule within [Doctors Without Borders] is always to try to see how can these items benefit another partner within the country,” says Brumagne.

Brumagne says that whether the item is a used tent or unused medical equipment, they try to donate it to a similar actor in the area – possibly the ministry of health, a local health clinic or another medical charity. If they can’t find someone in the medical field who can use the item, they donate it in a way that still helps the local population. For example, Doctors Without Borders has donated tents to create more classroom space for schools.

The one thing they try to avoid is giving supplies to someone who will then sell them.

“The foundation of what we do is bringing aid to people that is completely free, accessible and without any kind of discrimination,” Brumagne says. “Even if in the end we don’t use the aid ourselves, we want to find a way for it to benefit the people it’s supposed to benefit, without them having to pay for it.”

Both Ibrahim and Brumagne say they’ve never seen a reason to sell aid instead of donate it.

“Why would we?” says Ibrahim. “There are always more needs than we are able to meet.”

Other aid agencies, including those that are part of the U.S. government, also try to donate surplus property from disaster relief efforts. But in some instances, as in Texas, arms of the U.S. government do sell things off. In fact, there are official channels for them to do so, whether the excess supplies are trailer homes, tents, office supplies or other items. According to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), federal agencies may sell unneeded property to the public through GSA’s auction system if no other government agencies or qualified voluntary organizations are interested in it.

The official policy FEMA sent NPR says that when the agency’s trailer homes are deemed “unsuitable for disaster survivors elsewhere,” FEMA can either put them up for auction or sell them to the current occupants.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, FEMA was criticized for selling trailer homes at “cut-rate prices after 18 months of use or the first sign of minor damage.” Since then, the agency has said they sell mobile homes at an “adjusted fair market value,” not cut-rate prices or for pennies on the dollar. The official policy that FEMA provided to NPR does not address at what age or in what condition the units are put up for sale.

Although the U.S. government willingly sells certain disaster-relief supplies, regulations prohibit the sale of government-issued military and humanitarian meal rations. So if you see them offered by an online retailer, for prices like $100 for a case of 10 meals on eBay, they’re likely being sold by the recipients themselves by the company that makes them.

Janet Nelson, who co-owns TheEpicenter.com – an Oregon-based company that sells emergency supplies – says her company only carries overstock humanitarian daily rations from manufacturers. When the government doesn’t purchase the entire order placed with a manufacturer, the manufacturer repackages the kits for civilian use and sells them to dealers like Nelson’s company. She says the last time they sold humanitarian daily rations was right after Hurricane Katrina.

And then there are the reports that FEMA tents were used at the failed Fyre Festival – a luxury music festival held on a Bahamian island in April 2017 that quickly spiraled into an epic fail, from lodging to meals to security.

The mainstream media and social media widely reported that leftover FEMA disaster-relief tents were the accommodation for festival-goers, who spent thousands of dollars to attend.

That claim is repeated in two new documentaries about the festival.

But that’s not the case. Clay Kimsey, a sales representative for the manufacturer (Shelter Systems) says the tents were purchased brand-new through a third-party vendor that was “not any type of humanitarian group.”

“Yes, those were our structures,” he says, and they have on occasion sold their tents to relief organizations and government agencies. In the case of the Fyre Festival, they were sold for recreational use at an event that turned out to be a disaster.

Joanne Lu is a freelance journalist who covers global poverty and inequity. Her work has appeared in Humanosphere, The Guardian, Global Washington and War is Boring. Follow her on Twitter: @joannelu

The Power Of Presidential Pardons: Ron’s Office Hours

Feb 26, 2019   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on The Power Of Presidential Pardons: Ron’s Office Hours

A presidential pardon can’t be stopped, blocked, vetoed or overturned. So where does this power come from? And is there any limit to it?

President Trump says he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself (though he says he wouldn’t need to because he hasn’t done anything wrong).

Just how powerful is the president when it comes to pardons? The latest episode of Ron’s Office Hours explains the history of the act and what the Constitution allows.

Could Trump Pardon Himself? Probably Not

William Barr Supported Pardons In An Earlier D.C. 'Witch Hunt': Iran-Contra

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