Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman Blog’

Moderate Muslims Counter Islamic State Propaganda With Own Media Strategy

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 27 2015

Imam Omar Atia (left) and Zac Parsons discuss Islam’s teachings in effort to combat what they see as misinformation being spread about the religion.

U.S. officials are concerned about the recruiting efforts of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, also known as ISIS, as the group has stepped up its online outreach.

One team in Southwestern Indiana who opposes the radical Islamist group is taking to the web to reclaim the message of Islam.

Dozens of four-minute web episodes, targeting young people with questions about Islam and its relationship to violence, are being released by Reclamation Studios.

In one episode, Zac Parsons is walking side-by-side with Imam Omar Atia, on a sunny day in Evansville, Ind., asking him a question about Islam:

“You’re a Muslim guy, a peaceful guy and yet, you know, we see all this stuff in the news all the time about, you know, terrorism and violence and killing, you know, in the name of Islam — which is supposed to be a religion of peace. How is it that for them it’s not peaceful, but for you it is?”

“It’s not even left for question,” Atia says. “Unjust killing is completely forbidden.”

The video, “Does Islam Encourage Violence?” is simply an interaction between Parsons and Atia, the leader of the Islamic Society of Evansville.

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Atia, co-founder of Reclamation Studios’ initiative, wants to try to dispel the image here that Islam is a foreign religion that forces believers to choose between nation and faith.

“There’s still this identity crisis that a lot of Muslim-Americans live, unfortunately,” Atia says, “because right now, still, the concept that Islam is a foreign faith to America.”

Parsons, a digital marketer, says these videos try to be engaging enough to reach younger viewers.

“Unfortunately, ISIS is doing a great job of creating that really compelling ‘this is something you can do to change the world,’ ” he says, “And we hope that we’re able to use some of those same ideas and technology to say ‘no, this is actually what the religion of Islam teaches.’ “

Nour Shams, who works on Reclamation Studios’ website from Egypt, says it’s important to get this information across as directly as possible.

“They can ask us questions, we can do consultations, we can give them further answers for any questions that they have,” she says. “We can even host people and just have everything transparent in front of the camera, and listen to people and answer their questions.”

Richard Maass, who researches international security at the University of Evansville, says the Islamic State has been successful at targeting isolated people who have little or no knowledge of Islam.

“So the more initiatives like this one that openly refute ISIS ideology, especially online — and especially through live communications with people online — the more difficult it will be for ISIS to monopolize the perceptions of those vulnerable individuals,” he says.

There are now more than a dozen people working on this project; the goal is to produce 70 web episodes, all in an effort to help counter what they see as misinformation about Islam.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/27/424961326/moderate-muslims-counter-islamic-state-propaganda-with-own-media-strategy?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Obama Talks Candidly About Flaws In Kenya’s Society

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 27 2015

On a trip to Kenya, a first for a sitting president, Barack Obama took advantage of his heritage. The first Kenyan-American president wrestled with tension between his office and family obligations.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/27/426674302/obama-talks-candidly-about-flaws-in-kenyas-society?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

After Court Ruling, 3 Immigration Detention Centers Could Close

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 27 2015

Thousands of Central American families claiming asylum in the U.S. have been detained. A federal district court judge ruled that 3 facilities that hold these families aren’t meeting legal standards.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/27/426674309/after-court-ruling-3-immigration-detention-centers-could-close?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Britain’s Pearson In Talks To Sell Stake In The Economist Group

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 26 2015

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Georg Kapsch, President of the Federation of Austrian Industry, holds an issue of The Economist during a news conference in Vienna last year. Britain’s Pearson PLC says it’s in talks to sell its 50 percent share in The Economist Group.

Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters/Landov


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Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters/Landov

Georg Kapsch, President of the Federation of Austrian Industry, holds an issue of The Economist during a news conference in Vienna last year. Britain's Pearson PLC says it's in talks to sell its 50 percent share in The Economist Group.

Georg Kapsch, President of the Federation of Austrian Industry, holds an issue of The Economist during a news conference in Vienna last year. Britain’s Pearson PLC says it’s in talks to sell its 50 percent share in The Economist Group.

Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters/Landov

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

Britain’s Pearson PLC — just days after announcing it would sell The Financial Times — has made public that it is engaged in talks to dump its 50 percent stake in The Economist Group.

“Pearson confirms it is in discussions with The Economist Group Board and trustees regarding the potential sale of our 50 percent share in the group,” the company said in a statement on Saturday. “There is no certainty that this process will lead to a transaction.”

Reuters reports that Italian holding company Exor, which now has a 4.72 percent stake in The Economist Group, is in talks with Pearson to increase its share.

The venerable Economist, a weekly news magazine that calls itself a newspaper, is known for its cogent analysis of international affairs and a wry wit.

Politico reports:

“Existing Economist shareholders led by John Elkann, heir to the Italian Agnelli industrial fortune and a member of the magazine’s board, are working on a potential buyout of Pearson’s stake, according to people familiar with the talks.

“Mr. Elkann was not immediately available for comment, an aide said.

“Sources said that Pearson could get as much as £500 million for its stake, although the price is subject to ongoing negotiations.”

The Wall Street Journal adds:

“The publisher makes most of its revenue from educational services underpinned by its operations in North America. It has a 50% non-controlling stake in The Economist Group which publishes The Economist, a weekly business and international news publication with a paid circulation of 1.6 million.

“The group’s businesses include data research firm Economist Intelligence Unit as well as other related assets such as The Economist Events and The Economist Corporate Network.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/25/426202627/britains-pearson-in-talks-to-sell-stake-in-the-economist-group?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

On A Visit To Kenya, Obama Addresses Fight Against Extremists

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 26 2015



ARUN RATH, HOST:

President Obama is in Nairobi, Kenya, this weekend, the first trip of any sitting president to Kenya and, for Barack Obama, a complicated visit to the country of his father’s birth. NPR’s Gregory Warner has been traveling with the president. Greg, I understand the first thing the president did after stepping off the airline was to meet with his extended family.

GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: That’s right. He met with about three dozen relatives, some of whom he had never met, some he’s known for decades like his half-sister Auma Obama. And then this morning, he opened the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit. This is a summit that he initiated in one very much in keeping with the president’s foreign policy in Africa which is to build more trade relationships – this trade, not aid, approach – encouraging American private investment, especially in the next generation of African entrepreneurs, tech entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs.

RATH: Then the president got into a rather public disagreement with the Kenyan president over the issue of gay rights. Tell us about what happened.

WARNER: The gay rights issue was certain to come up. Homosexuality is illegal in 38 African countries, including Kenya. Although, we should say it’s more complicated than that. This year, a prize-winning Kenyan novelist came out publicly as gay and then got into a Twitter fight with various public figures, including the vice president who said that there’s no place for gays in Kenya. So it is a subject of vigorous debate in Kenya.

Anyway, at this bilateral press conference with the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, President Obama said that his position on gay rights in Africa was unequivocal. And he said when a government gets in the habit of treating any people differently, those habits can spread. The Kenyan president, though, immediately responded and said it would be very difficult for his government to impose on people what they do not accept.

RATH: Kenya has been hit by domestic terrorism, and it’s an area where the country works closely with the U.S. But Western media took a hit for overplaying the terrorist threat in advance of the president’s visit.

WARNER: I think for listeners who use Twitter, they might want to check out the hashtag #SomeoneTellCNN. It’s a hashtag that was born in Kenya. It’s used a lot by Africans, not just Kenyan, to call out stereotypes about Africa in the Western media and not just CNN. Although, this case was a CNN headline that said something along the lines of security worries as president heads to Kenya, hotbed of terror, which, you know, is just not how Kenya feels to those of us who live here. And Twitter went crazy. And actually, CNN changed their headline. But of course, look, the terrorism threat is absolutely real, and the president spent a lot of time talking about counterterrorism and especially this thorny problem of how counterterrorism funding going to a military plagued by corruption might be worsening the terrorist threat, alienating further those groups in Kenya that – they’re most prone to recruitment.

RATH: Obama also made a reference to his post-presidency and what he’ll do and how it’s going to include Africa.

WARNER: This was really surprising. He said next time you see me, I probably won’t be wearing a suit and addressed specifically what has been some criticism, especially from his family and his home village area or his father’s home village area that he didn’t go upcountry to see them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: That’s partly, actually, what I had to explain, was begging for forgiveness, that once I’m a private citizen, I will have more freedom to reconnect.

WARNER: And then the president sort of thought about his post-presidency, and he said that right now, as president, he’s constrained to work directly with the government. But he’s looking forward to working more freely and to directly continue his focus on young Africans and helping them succeed.

RATH: NPR’s Gregory Warner traveling with President Obama in Nairobi, Kenya. Greg, thank you.

WARNER: Thanks Arun.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/25/426255416/on-a-visit-to-kenya-obama-addresses-fight-against-extremists?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Covering Greece: When It’s Not Just A Story, It’s Personal

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 26 2015

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A man pushes a trolley in central Athens, where Joanna Kakissis has made her home. For Kakissis, a Greek-American, the task of reporting on Greece’s financial crisis has been both painful and illuminating — a glimpse that only the emotional middle-distance can afford.

Petros Giannakouris/AP


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Petros Giannakouris/AP

A man pushes a trolley in central Athens, where Joanna Kakissis has made her home. For Kakissis, a Greek-American, the task of reporting on Greece's financial crisis has been both painful and illuminating  a glimpse that only the emotional middle-distance can afford.

A man pushes a trolley in central Athens, where Joanna Kakissis has made her home. For Kakissis, a Greek-American, the task of reporting on Greece’s financial crisis has been both painful and illuminating — a glimpse that only the emotional middle-distance can afford.

Petros Giannakouris/AP

Editor’s Note: Reporter Joanna Kakissis was born in Greece but grew up in the U.S. She returned to Greece in 2010 just as the economic meltdown was beginning. She describes what it’s like to cover a story that often feels very personal.

I live in a central Athens neighborhood that some describe as run-down, a term I still think is inaccurate and incomplete, applied by drive-by visitors from well-to-do suburbs and fellow journalists looking for a neighborhood to set the stage for a story about Greece’s post-austerity impoverishment.

My flat is on a stub of a one-way street lined with balconied apartment blocks and a few bitter-orange trees. The street is bookended by a tiny, forgotten city park and a rocky dirt lot that was supposed to become a church but instead, due to locals opposed to tolling bells, turned into a makeshift parking lot.

My neighbors include retired teachers, shop-owners, young couples with babies, an underemployed copyright lawyer and an untalented aspiring folk musician who sings like a goat.

My relatives also live on this street — my sister, my mother, my cousin and my resilient Uncle Thanassis, who lived through World War II and the Greek civil war that followed.

My uncle moved onto this little street in the 1960s, when this area was largely undeveloped and neighbors had donkeys and chickens in their backyards. At 85, he remains the unflappable voice of reason to our neighbors, who are all struggling to pay bills and mortgages, who have lost jobs and prospects, who can’t save money to support their kids through college, who plan downscaled weddings and baptisms in a cloud of uncertainty.

My uncle was the first to visit the elderly couple near the park after their son and only child, a civil engineer in his early 50s, died a couple of years ago of a stress-related heart attack after his business went under, leaving him unable to support his family.

“There is nothing I can say that will make this easier for you,” he told the sobbing couple, both in their late 80s, whom he had known for half a century. “But I am here for you. I am here.”

My uncle’s younger brother — my father — moved us to the American Dakotas from Athens when I was 4 years old. Growing up American, I only had a hazy recollection of my Greek life, an emotional scene of my mother weeping as she embraced her father, a soft-hearted, mustachioed orange farmer in Crete, before we moved halfway across the world.

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The author (second from left) with her uncle Thanassis Kakissis (far left), sister, Amalia, and father, Giorgos, during a family visit to Athens in 1979.

Courtesy of Joanna Kakissis


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Courtesy of Joanna Kakissis

The author (second from left) with her uncle Thanassis Kakissis (far left), sister, Amalia, and father, Giorgos, during a family visit to Athens in 1979.

The author (second from left) with her uncle Thanassis Kakissis (far left), sister, Amalia, and father, Giorgos, during a family visit to Athens in 1979.

Courtesy of Joanna Kakissis

I had returned for brief stays a couple of times, when Greece’s prospects seemed bright. During the 2004 Summer Olympics, for instance, the capital seemed to operate flawlessly, showing everyone that this tiny country could pull off three weeks of blockbuster events.

When I returned for a long-term stay as a reporter in 2010, the feeling that Greece was on the way up had disappeared. Greeks were shocked to discover that their country was deeply in debt and about to go bankrupt. They blamed their politicians, blamed themselves for electing these politicians. And they felt defeated after their leaders signed over much of the country’s sovereignty to creditors from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, in exchange for bailout loans to keep Greece solvent.

Reporters are not machines, even when we’re covering stories in lands to which we have no connection. Even then, we work hard to balance news, context, perspectives and storytelling with the emotional weight of the stories we’re experiencing or being told.

It’s much harder to keep an emotional distance when we’re living a story, seeing it unfold in real time as a resident. I’ve met homeless people in central Athens, rummaging through dumpsters for clothes and food. I’ve met people who sit in darkened houses because they have run out of money to pay their electricity bills. I know people who have committed suicide. I know people who have lost everything they’ve worked for, like my cousin Manolis in Crete, who built his home improvement and metalworking business from scratch and went bankrupt during the crisis. He and his wife and two children lost their house and now live with his sister. He works as a day laborer.

At the same time, I’m hypersensitive about sensationalism and stereotyping, two lenses that have distorted coverage of this crisis. That’s because, as a Greek-American, I sometimes internalize the exaggerations as personal insults.

Not all Greeks are tax evaders, and no Greek I know is lazy, I’ll huff to myself. Most Greeks don’t protest, and only a minuscule number actually throw petrol bombs during protests. And yet, whenever that happens, a TV reporter perched on a rooftop will be declaring that all of Athens is on fire, furthering the trope about the unruly, undisciplined Greeks who want to have their cake and eat it too.

But I’ve had to face painful truths, too. That corruption is still rampant, and that it continues because Greeks have failed to tear down the special interests that feed from it. That the public sector, for years a repository for unqualified friends of short-sighted politicians, is inefficient and even primitive, even after welcome changes in recent years to ensure new hires are based on merit, not cronyism.

That political dialogue is polarized, hateful and often vengeful. That Greek politicians of every stripe are woefully unprepared to lucidly manage a crisis that could unravel this country and tear it away from the eurozone into some badly-managed transition to a devalued national currency. This void of competence has created groups like Golden Dawn, a party of neo-fascists with Nazi roots who glorify violence and xenophobia as ways to “clean” Greece of corrupt politicians and foreigners “leeching” off Hellenism. The party holds 17 seats in the 300-member parliament.

The economic crisis has also rekindled an identity crisis here, as story after story references the soaring heights of Ancient Greece, a history that’s still the greatest source of pride here even after thousands of years.

The modern Greeks have much more in common with the Byzantines and even the Turks, whose ancestors, the Ottomans, enslaved the Greeks for 400 years. But that’s a challenge to the narrative of Hellenism, that this country cannot be defeated because it gave the world democracy and artistic, philosophical and mathematical literacy, and it cuts into a Greek’s heart like nothing else.

Joanna Kakissis’ Reporting From Greece

That existential threat may be a source of the conspiracy theories that seem to flourish here, such as the whopper that claims the Rothschild banking family (blamed by anti-Semites for controlling wealth and wars) owns the international press (a theory once espoused by a former government spokeswoman from the conservative New Democracy party) and is profiting from the economic crisis.

Conspiratorial thinking even laces the public debate of the current leftist government, which blames eurozone leaders for inciting a coup by forcing the government to sign an onerous bailout agreement. The parliament speaker, a lawyer educated in France and the United States, even claimed the the new deal would cause “social genocide.”

But these melodramatics in parliament and in many media outlets don’t resonate with most people in my neighborhood, who are too consumed with staying solvent, humane and united when everything is falling apart.

Two of our neighbors — a young couple with twin baby boys — ended up leaving a few months ago after they lost their jobs and fell behind on their rent.

The elderly couple who lost their son are now one — the man died after a long illness. His widow is fragile and keeps the curtains drawn.

Another elderly couple spent their savings to help pay their adult son’s mortgage, because the company he and his wife worked for hadn’t paid them in more than two years.

The musician with the voice of a goat stopped pursuing his dream of folk music stardom and is now temping. Two of my cousin’s three kids went to military school, where they’re at least assured a job and a modest salary.

And every day, on his way to the supermarket, my uncle Thanassis strolls past their homes, greeting anyone outside with a warm smile and a wish for good health. Sometimes I see him, a small, dignified figure with a cropped mane of wavy, snow-white hair, making his way down the street with the resolve of a survivor, spreading a calming sense of normalcy in a country where nothing feels safe or sure anymore.

Joanna Kakissis covers Greece for NPR. Follow her on Twitter at @joannakakissis.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/07/26/425839196/covering-greece-when-its-not-just-a-story-its-personal?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

When Detecting Land Mines, The Nose Knows — Or, In This Case, The Trunk

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 25 2015

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An elephant in South African offers an up-close glimpse of its prodigious instrument. According to Sean Hensman of Adventures with Elephants, trunks like this one could help the U.S. Army develop a better landmine sensor.

Greatstock/Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media/Landov


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itoggle caption

Greatstock/Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media/Landov

An elephant in South African offers an up-close glimpse of its prodigious instrument. According to Sean Hensman of Adventures with Elephants, trunks like this one could help the U.S. Army develop a better landmine sensor.

An elephant in South African offers an up-close glimpse of its prodigious instrument. According to Sean Hensman of Adventures with Elephants, trunks like this one could help the U.S. Army develop a better landmine sensor.

Greatstock/Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media/Landov

In Angola, a civil war that raged for decades has left lingering, and dangerous, reminders of the violence across the countryside. Long since the worst of the fighting ended in 2002, land mines continue to claim lives — and not just those of humans.

Even as the elephant population there saw a replenishment in numbers following the war, many of the mammoth animals were being killed by leftover land mines, as well.

But Angola’s wildlife observers have gradually noticed something curious going on. A number of elephants in Angola now appear to steer clear of land mines, even trumpeting warnings about them to other elephants.

That caught the attention of the U.S. Army Research Office, which funded some initial research to see just how, exactly, these lumbering giants manage to sniff out, and step around, the dangerous devices. The idea was to verify whether the claims coming out of Angola were to be believed — and, if so, whether there was any chance of turning these elephants’ talents to the purpose of saving lives.

As The Economist has reported: “The US Army’s Research Office has been testing the ability of a group of tame elephants in South Africa to find traces of TNT, an explosive, amid decoy odours of bleach, petrol, soap and tea.”

Sean Hensman, a South African researcher with the group Adventures with Elephants, took part in that stu.

“After a long time,” he tells NPR’s Scott Simon, “we found out that the [elephants] are very, very good at identifying the scent of TNT and other things, and are very, very quick learners.”

And they don’t just learn quickly; they also retain that knowledge long afterward.

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A ranger rides an elephant during a demonstration of its detecting abilities, at the Adventures with Elephants ranch in February.

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/Landov


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Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/Landov

A ranger rides an elephant during a demonstration of its detecting abilities, at the Adventures with Elephants ranch in February.

A ranger rides an elephant during a demonstration of its detecting abilities, at the Adventures with Elephants ranch in February.

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/Landov

“We tested one elephant a year after we had done the initial research, and he still passed the whole test with flying colors.”

Hensman chalks it up to the elephant’s hefty schnozz. “They’re reported to have a sense of smell 14 times better than a good dog,” he says, “and a good dog is reputed to be about 2,000 times better than you and I.”

Hensman is careful to note that the researchers have no intention of actually taking elephants into areas littered with land mines. Rather, he says the U.S. Army is testing the animals’ sense of smell in order to design better land mine sensors of their own.

“They spent billions on sensors and understanding a dog’s nose. And, you know, if an elephant is that much more sensitive than a dog, they have learned a lot from it. And they’ve applied that to some of their sensors, which they’re testing at the moment.”

But that’s not where Hensman’s ambitions end.

“They’re using dogs to detect cancer, they’re using dogs to detect diseases,” he says, “and if we could use an elephant do the same, then hopefully we can save a lot of people.”

For that, elephants could use a little breathless praise. And Hensman’s not hesitant about offering them just that.

“They’re highly intelligent, they’re good fun to be around and to be awed by them is putting it lightly,” he says. “They really are very, very special animals.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/25/425911395/when-detecting-land-mines-the-nose-knows-or-in-this-case-the-trunk?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

When Detecting Land Mines, The Nose Knows — Or, In This Case, The Trunk

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 25 2015

i

An elephant in South African offers an up-close glimpse of its prodigious instrument. According to Sean Hensman of Adventures with Elephants, trunks like this one could help the U.S. Army develop a better landmine sensor.

Greatstock/Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media/Landov


hide caption

itoggle caption

Greatstock/Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media/Landov

An elephant in South African offers an up-close glimpse of its prodigious instrument. According to Sean Hensman of Adventures with Elephants, trunks like this one could help the U.S. Army develop a better landmine sensor.

An elephant in South African offers an up-close glimpse of its prodigious instrument. According to Sean Hensman of Adventures with Elephants, trunks like this one could help the U.S. Army develop a better landmine sensor.

Greatstock/Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media/Landov

In Angola, a civil war that raged for decades has left lingering, and dangerous, reminders of the violence across the countryside. Long since the worst of the fighting ended in 2002, land mines continue to claim lives — and not just those of humans.

Even as the elephant population there saw a replenishment in numbers following the war, many of the mammoth animals were being killed by leftover land mines, as well.

But Angola’s wildlife observers have gradually noticed something curious going on. A number of elephants in Angola now appear to steer clear of land mines, even trumpeting warnings about them to other elephants.

That caught the attention of the U.S. Army Research Office, which funded some initial research to see just how, exactly, these lumbering giants manage to sniff out, and step around, the dangerous devices. The idea was to verify whether the claims coming out of Angola were to be believed — and, if so, whether there was any chance of turning these elephants’ talents to the purpose of saving lives.

As The Economist has reported: “The US Army’s Research Office has been testing the ability of a group of tame elephants in South Africa to find traces of TNT, an explosive, amid decoy odours of bleach, petrol, soap and tea.”

Sean Hensman, a South African researcher with the group Adventures with Elephants, took part in that stu.

“After a long time,” he tells NPR’s Scott Simon, “we found out that the [elephants] are very, very good at identifying the scent of TNT and other things, and are very, very quick learners.”

And they don’t just learn quickly; they also retain that knowledge long afterward.

i

A ranger rides an elephant during a demonstration of its detecting abilities, at the Adventures with Elephants ranch in February.

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/Landov


hide caption

itoggle caption

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/Landov

A ranger rides an elephant during a demonstration of its detecting abilities, at the Adventures with Elephants ranch in February.

A ranger rides an elephant during a demonstration of its detecting abilities, at the Adventures with Elephants ranch in February.

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/Landov

“We tested one elephant a year after we had done the initial research, and he still passed the whole test with flying colors.”

Hensman chalks it up to the elephant’s hefty schnozz. “They’re reported to have a sense of smell 14 times better than a good dog,” he says, “and a good dog is reputed to be about 2,000 times better than you and I.”

Hensman is careful to note that the researchers have no intention of actually taking elephants into areas littered with land mines. Rather, he says the U.S. Army is testing the animals’ sense of smell in order to design better land mine sensors of their own.

“They spent billions on sensors and understanding a dog’s nose. And, you know, if an elephant is that much more sensitive than a dog, they have learned a lot from it. And they’ve applied that to some of their sensors, which they’re testing at the moment.”

But that’s not where Hensman’s ambitions end.

“They’re using dogs to detect cancer, they’re using dogs to detect diseases,” he says, “and if we could use an elephant do the same, then hopefully we can save a lot of people.”

For that, elephants could use a little breathless praise. And Hensman’s not hesitant about offering them just that.

“They’re highly intelligent, they’re good fun to be around and to be awed by them is putting it lightly,” he says. “They really are very, very special animals.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/25/425911395/when-detecting-land-mines-the-nose-knows-or-in-this-case-the-trunk?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Willis Conover, The Voice Of Jazz Behind The Iron Curtain

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 25 2015

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Willis Conover, an expert on jazz, broadcasts “Music USA” from his Voice of America studio in Washington in March 1959.

AP


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AP

Willis Conover, an expert on jazz, broadcasts Music USA from his Voice of America studio in Washington in March 1959.

Willis Conover, an expert on jazz, broadcasts “Music USA” from his Voice of America studio in Washington in March 1959.

AP

Willis Conover was known around the world, but not so much at home. He was the voice of jazz over the Voice of America for more than 40 years, most of it during the Cold War.

Imagine what it was like to sit in the dark of a hushed room in Prague, Moscow or Warsaw in the 1960s, fiddle with the dial of a shortwave radio, slide over crackles, pops, and jamming, to finally find the opening notes of “The A Train” and a rich baritone intoning slowly through the static, “Good evening. Willis Conover with Music USA…”

He played the Count, the Duke, and Satchmo, Dizzy, Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker.

I remember asking East Berliners in the early 1990s, “Where did you learn such excellent English?” They didn’t say the name of any movie, rock star or statesman, just: “Villis Conover.”

Jan Zappner, the Czech jazz accordion player, told Terence Ripmaster, who wrote a Conover biography, that when he was a soldier in the Czech army, “Private radios were not allowed, so … every night at ten o’clock, I sneaked through the toilet window into the communications building, where there was a shortwave radio on which I tuned in the Voice of America.”

“There it was, ‘The A Train,’ and the great voice of Willis Conover. I will never forget that feeling of sweet conspiracy. While the barracks, the country, indeed, the whole socialist camp was asleep, I … found out that over the trenches of the Cold War there was normal life, with great music …”

It was a little hard for millions of people to believe that Americans were imperialist running-dog lackeys after they’d listened to Stan Getz, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk.

As Conover told Time Magazine in 1966, “Jazz tells more about America than any American can realize. It bespeaks vitality, strength, social mobility; it’s a free music with its own discipline, but not an imposed, inhibiting discipline.”

Conover could pack concert halls for jazz shows behind the Iron Curtain. But he wasn’t a household name in his own country because by law, the Voice of America cannot broadcast to the United States.

This week, Doug Ramsey, who writes about jazz for the Wall Street Journal, reported that a campaign to persuade the Postal Services Stamp Advisory Committee to put Willis Conover on a U.S. postage stamp now has thousands of signatures. It would send the face of the voice who brought the light of hot jazz into the darkest places of the Cold War around the world again.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/25/426029637/willis-conover-the-voice-of-jazz-behind-the-iron-curtain?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Willis Conover, The Voice Of Jazz Behind The Iron Curtain

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 25 2015

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Willis Conover, an expert on jazz, broadcasts “Music USA” from his Voice of America studio in Washington in March 1959.

AP


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AP

Willis Conover, an expert on jazz, broadcasts Music USA from his Voice of America studio in Washington in March 1959.

Willis Conover, an expert on jazz, broadcasts “Music USA” from his Voice of America studio in Washington in March 1959.

AP

Willis Conover was known around the world, but not so much at home. He was the voice of jazz over the Voice of America for more than 40 years, most of it during the Cold War.

Imagine what it was like to sit in the dark of a hushed room in Prague, Moscow or Warsaw in the 1960s, fiddle with the dial of a shortwave radio, slide over crackles, pops, and jamming, to finally find the opening notes of “The A Train” and a rich baritone intoning slowly through the static, “Good evening. Willis Conover with Music USA…”

He played the Count, the Duke, and Satchmo, Dizzy, Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker.

I remember asking East Berliners in the early 1990s, “Where did you learn such excellent English?” They didn’t say the name of any movie, rock star or statesman, just: “Villis Conover.”

Jan Zappner, the Czech jazz accordion player, told Terence Ripmaster, who wrote a Conover biography, that when he was a soldier in the Czech army, “Private radios were not allowed, so … every night at ten o’clock, I sneaked through the toilet window into the communications building, where there was a shortwave radio on which I tuned in the Voice of America.”

“There it was, ‘The A Train,’ and the great voice of Willis Conover. I will never forget that feeling of sweet conspiracy. While the barracks, the country, indeed, the whole socialist camp was asleep, I … found out that over the trenches of the Cold War there was normal life, with great music …”

It was a little hard for millions of people to believe that Americans were imperialist running-dog lackeys after they’d listened to Stan Getz, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk.

As Conover told Time Magazine in 1966, “Jazz tells more about America than any American can realize. It bespeaks vitality, strength, social mobility; it’s a free music with its own discipline, but not an imposed, inhibiting discipline.”

Conover could pack concert halls for jazz shows behind the Iron Curtain. But he wasn’t a household name in his own country because by law, the Voice of America cannot broadcast to the United States.

This week, Doug Ramsey, who writes about jazz for the Wall Street Journal, reported that a campaign to persuade the Postal Services Stamp Advisory Committee to put Willis Conover on a U.S. postage stamp now has thousands of signatures. It would send the face of the voice who brought the light of hot jazz into the darkest places of the Cold War around the world again.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/25/426029637/willis-conover-the-voice-of-jazz-behind-the-iron-curtain?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world