Cloud computing buzz is on the raise. Cost reduction is one of the perceived benefits of this capability. But is it really that cheap?Yes, it’s a great solution for small companies with Web-based operations, which don’t have to plan for peak demand now – see “Animoto’s Facebook scale-up” as an example. We’ve looked into applicability of such Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution for Intel Silicon design environment, and I may blog in the future on some of the findings from this study. At Intel, we utilize internal distributed grid of over 60,000 compute servers to run various jobs at over 80% utilization. The idea was to consider an external IaaS capacity as an extension to accommodate possible peak demands. We’ve built a proof-of-concept environment using one of the major IaaS clouds. The applications we are interested in are mostly single-threaded, and are CPU bounded. We found that per-core performance of the external cloud instances is significantly lower compared to our internal compute servers. As a result, we’d need 3x-4x more instances in the cloud as opposed to the internal deployment to achieve the same throughput. The TCO for such use (calculated based on July’2009 pricing) would be significantly higher in the cloud, this is one of the reasons for us stepping back at this point in time. I’ll talk more about this study on the Cloud Computing Summit in Israel next week.Cloud vendors – bring the performance up and the cost down, and we may come back!Are you already leveraging external cloud capabilities to complement your computing infrastructure? What is your experience?Till the next post, Gregory Touretsky
Call it the Swades 2.0. Ambitious and bright, a rash of scientists had left India for better opportunities. After years of experimenting and collaborating with some of the top scientists in the world, they have now chosen to return to their homeland. Related Items
zoomImage Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line Cruise line major Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has agreed a partnership deal with Alaska Native-owned Huna Totem Corporation to develop a second cruise pier in Icy Strait Point in Hoonah, Alaska.The company, which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, informed that the pier is scheduled to be completed for the summer 2020 Alaska cruise season and would be built to accommodate Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Plus-class ships.The partnership will provide Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ brands with preferential berthing rights in the popular port destination and allow the company to increase its calls to Icy Strait Point.Currently Oceania Cruises’ Regatta, Seven Seas Mariner, Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Joy are scheduled to call on Icy Strait Point in the 2019 season.“This partnership marks the latest step in our ongoing efforts to promote economic development in the area and make a positive economic impact on the Alaska tourism industry,” said Howard Sherman, executive vice president of onboard revenue and destination development of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
Young people in Nova Scotia now have more opportunities to participate in arts and cultural activities. Through the new Cultural Opportunities for Youth Program, $150,000 will be available annually for projects that are designed specifically for, or by, youth. Previously, $88,000 was available under the Cultural Activities Program for projects involving youth. “We have tremendous young talent in this province and we want to support it,” said Len Goucher, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. “We also recognize the social value of arts and culture. Exposing youth to cultural activities and encouraging them to participate can empower them, build self-esteem, and engage them in their communities in new and creative ways.” The Cultural Opportunities for Youth program will provide grants of up to $5,000 for projects that will help build young audiences for arts and culture activities, strengthen community ties through cultural events, and to develop artistic skills through activities such as workshops, information exchanges or mentorships with professional cultural workers. The program is based on recommendations from the Nova Scotia Arts and Partnership Council. “We’re very pleased with this new program,” said Paul Gallant, chair of the council. “Until now, youth were addressed indirectly through other culture-funding programs but this program highlights how important they are to the future of arts and culture in Nova Scotia. We need to support a lifelong interest and the pursuit of artistic excellence in our youth.” An external assessment panel of two culture sector representatives, including at least one youth, and a departmental staff member, will review the applications and make funding recommendations. Cultural Opportunities for Youth is project-based funding. Provincial arts organizations that provide ongoing arts and cultural programming for youth can apply for operating grants through the Operating Assistance for Cultural Organizations Program. In addition to these funding programs, the department supports a number of other programs that foster artistic and cultural development in youth, including ArtsSmarts, Perform!, Writers in the Schools (WITS), Professional Artists in the Schools (PAINTS), and the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. Funding for Cultural Opportunities for Youth will be awarded four times a year. The first deadline for applications is Aug. 15. Detailed information on the program, including funding criteria and an application form, is available at www.gov.ns.ca/dtc/pubs/COY_app.pdf .
VICTORIA, B.C. — Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston says he is urging Canada’s transport minister to ensure a reliable supply of rail cars in Northern B.C., where the economy is suffering due to a chronic shortage of freight cars.“The impact of unreliable, and inadequate, rail service extends far beyond grain producers in northern B.C.,” Ralston stated in a letter to federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau. “Lumber mills and other industries, from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, are also being seriously impacted by the lack of rail service.”Ralston has asked Garneau to work with northern B.C. chambers of commerce to develop plans for improving oversight and performance of Canadian National (CN) Rail’s system in the region. “Minister Garneau needs to convey that the Prairie backlog at CN Rail and Canadian Pacific Railway is having a detrimental impact on northern B.C. families and businesses. Companies looking to invest in northern B.C. communities are understandably discouraged from doing so because of the risk and uncertainty caused by CN Rail’s unreliable service. While the recent apology from CN is an important acknowledgement of how serious the situation has become, longer-term solutions need to be found.”
Marrakech – The Moroccan NGO Education for All (EFA) was formed to help young girls living in rural areas have the chance to pursue their education. However, many of them have to give up their schooling to help their families in the tough working conditions in the Atlas Mountains, particularly during the winter months when roads can be impassable. Illiteracy amongst rural girls remains very high, as much as 80% according to EFA.The NGO works under the belief that if you educate women you will ultimately educate the whole family, as the girls become mothers and pass on what they have learned to their children. EFA identified a need to provide accommodation for girls close to where their schools are located. Colleges in urban areas were too expensive and too far for rural families So secure houses with dormitories were built near to schools. such as Dar Asni, Dar Asni II, Dar Ouirgane and Dar Tinmal. It used to be unheard of for rural girls to have a chance at a college education and the chance of a professional career, such as medicine. They were, and many still are, tied to the isolated rural communities where they were born. When the first project, a boarding house in Asni was undertaken by EFA in 2007, the aim was to provide 36 girls living in the High Atlas mountains with secondary education so that they had the chance to go on to college.In September 2009 EFA opened a second boarding house in a remote area of the High Atlas, 100km from Marrakech in the town of Talaat n’Yacoub. This provides the opportunity of college education for 36 more girls, who would otherwise not have had this opportunity. Last year there were five girls who, as a result of being in EFA houses for the full 5 years of secondary and lycée, are now at university. It only costs EFA 1000 Euro to fund a girl for a whole year at an EFA house near the school which, given that illiteracy rates for girls in rural Morocco is estimated to be as high as 80%, is a vital investment.Apart from a paid housemother and cook, there are no administrative expenses as the EFA committee and staff work on a voluntary basis, allowing 100% of all donations to go directly to the project.EFA was the brainchild of Mike McHugo, owner of the famed Kasbah Toubkal. Mike and his brother Chris renovated the Kasbah, with its stunning views of surrounding mountains and Jebel Toubkal, together with the local community as partners. This led them naturally to work on projects to help the local Amazigh mountain communities.In 2013 the EFA committee hit on the idea of a bicycle race from Marrakech to Oumkaimeden. Kasbah Toubkal often arranges bicycling events in Toubkal National Park. The Atlas Etape is a 40 km dash to the foot of Oumkaimeden, with a body crunching punishing 30 km climb up to Oumkaimeden at 2426 meters at the summit. Then the joy of a 70 km downward sprint all the way back to Marrakech with medals for the first frontrunners to make it back. The 2013 Atlas Etape saw a heavy fog draw in on Oumkaimeden, preventing some riders from getting back to Marrakech for safety reasons.Training on the road between Ourika and Tahanaout in the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco Copyright ©Alan Keohane/Sill ImagesThis year, with temperatures at a hot 35 degrees, this is unlikely to be a problem. The race is already attracting professional bicycle racers, a chance to visit Marrakech and a great opportunity to support a worthwhile cause. Three older participants are bicycling from England to Marrakech to take part in the event, and they have already raised over £80,000 for EFA. They call themselves the “fat dads on bikes” after a much-loved UK TV series, The Fat Ladies, who used to ride motorbikes to different locations to do their cooking programs on TV. They were a wonderfully irreverent pair.Marrakech Atlas Etape, April 28 2013, Photo by Alan Keohane & Terry Munson www.still-images.netHer Majesty’s Ambassador Clive Alderton will be on hand to present medals when the tired winners roll in at the Etape’s final destination. The Ambassador has recently become a patron of the EFA. Later on in the evening, there will be a fundraising dinner which is open to all, and some of the girls from EFA’s houses in Asni and the university will attend, which will be a great opportunity for friends and supporters to meet them. It should be a great evening.His Excellency Mr Clive Alderton LVO, Her Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco and Education For All Morocco Patron, talks about EFA© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
The United Nations human rights chief today voiced deep concern over the fate of a group of about 40 migrants who have been missing since they were abducted in Mexico last month, and death threats to a prominent human rights defender assisting other migrants who escaped the kidnapping ordeal. “The migrants were abducted in highly questionable circumstances a month ago,” said Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Since then there has been no trace of them, and human rights defenders working with other members of the same group have been repeatedly threatened.” According to human rights groups following the case and who have been interviewed by staff of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Mexico, on 16 December a group of some 250 migrants from Central America were travelling on a north-bound freight train in the state of Oaxaca, southern Mexico, when it was stopped in a joint operation by police and migration officials who detained 92 of the migrants. Military personnel were also involved, according to some accounts. An unclear picture has emerged about what happened next, but it seems that around 150 migrants were able to get back on the train, run by the State-owned company Ferrocarril del Istmo de Tehuantepec, but were then subjected to demands for money by the driver. Dissatisfied with the sum received, the driver allegedly threatened the migrants – believed to be mostly from El Salvador and Guatemala – with “more problems ahead.” About half an hour later, the train was reportedly boarded by unidentified gunmen who assaulted and robbed some of the migrants, and then abducted around 40 of them, including at least 10 women and one child. Two days later, some of those who had escaped managed to reach a migrant shelter called “Hermanos en el Camino” in Ciudad Ixtepec, Oaxaca. The manager of the shelter, Father Alejandro Solalinde, who is a well-known defender of migrants’ rights, informed the authorities and publicly denounced the kidnapping. Since then, he has received multiple death threats, Ms. Pillay said. Mexico’s interior ministry has announced that investigations are under way, and that the migrants who witnessed the kidnapping have been given humanitarian visas and taken to Mexico City for protection and further interviews. Ms. Pillay urged the Mexican authorities “to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of the alleged ill-treatment and abuse of the migrants by the Federal Police and the National Institute of Migration staff who conducted the original joint operation, as well as the circumstances surrounding the subsequent abduction of the migrants, and the threats received by Father Solalinde and his colleagues. “The Mexican authorities need to ascertain whether or not any state officials, including those working for the state-owned train operator, were complicit with the criminal organization that carried out the abductions and extortion, both in this and other cases.” The High Commissioner said that the human rights of migrants have been drastically deteriorating in Mexico in recent years. The country, she said, has also been suffering a wider wave of crime and violence, resulting in over 15,200 violent deaths in 2010 alone. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have stated that many thousands of transiting migrants have been kidnapped over the past two years, mostly for the purpose of extortion, Ms. Pillay said. In one of the worst incidents, last August the Mexican Navy discovered 72 corpses, including 14 women, who had allegedly been executed by members of a criminal group. Two government investigators deployed to the scene of the crime were reportedly abducted. Their bodies were found two weeks later. “In line with its international obligations, the Government of Mexico must make all possible efforts to protect the life and integrity of migrants, in particular women and children,” Ms. Pillay said. “It should also take the necessary steps to ensure that all state officials working with migrants fully respect their rights, and that human rights defenders like Father Solalinde and police and judicial officials investigating these acts are effectively protected.” Ms. Pillay said she fully recognized that the Mexican Government is facing a tremendous challenge as it confronts the extremely violent and well-armed organized crime gangs in the country. “Nevertheless, the protection of migrants, and of the brave and committed people working on their behalf, should not be neglected in the process,” she added. 21 January 2011The United Nations human rights chief today voiced deep concern over the fate of a group of about 40 migrants who have been missing since they were abducted in Mexico last month, and death threats to a prominent human rights defender assisting other migrants who escaped the kidnapping ordeal.
They condemned the anti-Tamil activities of the UPA government and urged it to skip the meeting scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka. While various political parties and pro-Tamil activists in India have been urging the Indian Centre to boycott the Commonwealth Summit held in Sri Lanka, to protest against the island nation’s genocide against the Tamils, four law college students have started an indefinite hunger strike urging the Central government to boycott the Commonwealth meet, New Indian Express reported.The third year students of ‘Government Law College’ were identified as N Pushparaj of Cuddalore, S Bharathi of Pudukkottai and T Kajendran and S Marimuthu of Tiruvarur. They started their indefinite protest on the college premises. Senthil Kumar (25), a diploma student of Pullambadi, was stopped by Fort range police when he tried to stage a hunger strike on the same issue. The students of Law College in Tiruchy earlier staged protests urging the Centre to introduce an amendment in the US-sponsored resolution at the UNHCR on the Lankan Tamils issue seeking an international, independent probe into the genocide during the military offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The Government today said that it was still investigating allegations of an alleged coup attempt during the January 8 Presidential Elections.President Maithripala Sirisena said that in his opinion there was no ‘conspiracy’ but some sort of discussion had taken place in an attempt to prevent the new government from taking power. Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had filed a police complaint alleging that former President Mahinda Rajapakse and some members of his government had attempted to stage a coup by using the military and the police. Rajapakse however denied the claims and said that the discussion held at Temple Trees was only to ensure a smooth transfer of power to the new President. “The investigations into this incident are still continuing,” President Sirisena said.He said that there was information to the effect that there was an attempt by the former regime to impose a curfew soon after the Presidential Elections which Sirisena won. Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse had also been accused of allegedly being involved in the coup attempt but he had also denied the claims.
OTTAWA – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says Canada’s closest ally and trading partner, the United States, has replaced Europe as the biggest threat to the domestic economy.The minister made the comment Monday evening on a conference call after wrapping up two days of meetings with his G20 counterparts in Mexico City, which had a mood he described as serious but not “doom and gloom.”Europe’s troubled finances and the U.S. fiscal cliff have both been hanging over the global economy for months, but Flaherty said the U.S. situation now potentially packs the bigger potential wallop.“I think the difference we have now is that the European leadership is starting to take some concrete actions with deadlines, and that’s quite encouraging,” he explained.“And more importantly, we’ve got less than 60 days for this fiscal cliff to be resolved in a very difficult political climate in the United States. Now it’s going to require breaking through that political gridlock … otherwise the consequences are dire.”Flaherty said failure to avoid the so-called cliff — the automatic lapse of about $600 billion in government spending and tax cuts that represents about four percentage points of U.S. economic growth — would push America into recession, with Canada likely to follow.He said the U.S. Congress must reach a compromise regardless of who — President Barack Obama or challenger Mitt Romney — is elected Tuesday.Earlier, the G20 ministers and central bankers issued a communique calling on the world’s largest economies to reject protectionism and currency manipulation, and called on the U.S. to “carefully calibrate the pace of fiscal tightening to ensure that public finances are placed on a sustainable long-run path, while avoiding a sharp fiscal contraction in 2013.”The communique made clear the world remains hobbled by moderate growth expectations and a mountain of risks, including weaker growth in some emerging economies and additional supply concerns in some commodity markets.That sober finding still left space for some optimism, Flaherty said.“It’s looking a little bit better in Europe, it’s looking a little bit better in the United States, the emerging economies still have significant growth,” he said.“So it wasn’t doom and gloom, it was cautious though.”One of the bright spots, he said, is the recovery in the U.S. housing market, which is already stimulating the lumber industry in British Columbia.Flaherty said he achieved one of his goals prior to the meeting: securing an agreement to establish a regime whereby G20 nations will “publish” their records on meeting commitments they have reached.One of those commitments was the target made in 2010 to halve national deficits by 2013. Many countries, including the U.S., will miss that goal. The G20 officials decided it was appropriate to loosen the hard target on some countries to support growth.Flaherty also said he discussed the challenge Canada faces in coping with foreign investments in the resource sector, particularly from state-owned enterprises.On Friday, Ottawa extended for the second time its review of Chinese-owned CNOOC’s $15.1 billion takeover of Calgary oil producer Nexen Inc.“Some countries have struggled with it and I had actually some very good discussions with them about how they approached the issue, how they managed it,” he said.He added that there was no suggestions from his colleagues to questions of whether Canada remains open for business.In other declarations, G20 officials moved to head off concerns that China or some other countries may resort to manipulating their currencies in order to support exports.“We reiterate our commitments to move more rapidly toward more market-determined exchange rate systems and exchange rate flexibility to reflect underlying fundamentals, avoid persistent exchange rate misalignments and refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies,” the officials said.The G20 represents most of the world’s biggest economies, including some with fixed currencies like China.As well, Germany and the United Kingdom proposed that the world’s biggest economies form a common front against tax evasion related to Internet commerce and other revenue-shifting schemes, and said they received strong support at the meeting of officials from the G-20 nations.— With files from The Associated Press Flaherty says G20 mood not ‘doom and gloom” but U.S. must avoid fiscal cliff by Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press Posted Nov 5, 2012 9:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
NASA ASTRONAUTS have replaced a pump during an emergency spacewalk to stop an ammonia leak at the International Space Station’s power system.The spacewalk was successfully completed an hour ahead of schedule at 18:14 GMT, six-and-a-half hours after flight engineers Tom Marshburn and Chris Cassidy ventured outside the space station.During the manoeuvre, Marshburn and Cassidy attached a spare pump and flow control sub assembly box to replace the one which was thought to be the source of an ammonia leak that affected the US segment of the orbiting laboratory earlier this week.Ammonia is used to cool the station’s power system.The new pump was turned on about an hour later, and after about 30 minutes of careful observation by the astronauts and mission control, ISS commander Canadian Chris Hadfield tweeted: “No leaks! We’re bringing Tom & Chris back inside.”Several months of tests to confirm source of leakAlthough the pump will continue to be observed through instruments, the early indications were positive that “we have climbed a big mountain on solving the ammonia leak,” a commentator at mission control said on NASA television.But he cautioned that it will take several months of investigation and observation before it can be confirmed that the pump was “the smoking gun” that caused the leak.Before re-entering the space station, the astronauts took precautions against ammonia contamination, despite not seeing any evidence of it in the area around the space station.That included an hour-long “bake-off” to allow the sun to burn off any ammonia traces on their space suits.Officials said the emergency spacewalk set a precedent because it was conducted at such short notice.It was the 168th excursion in support of the orbiting laboratory and the fourth for both Marshburn and Cassidy, who have worked together before.Both US and Russian officials stressed that spacewalks are usually taxing tasks involving ISS crews and control mission on the grounds.Hadfield, overseeing the mission, tweeted that it is “a workout” to wear a spacesuit which the Russian Space Agency noted weighs more than 100 kilograms.“The reason they regularly check their gloves is for damage. Even though multi-layer, even a tiny leak requires immediate haste to airlock,” Hadfield said on Twitter.“After each such sortie guys come back like they’ve been through a good battle, with bruised hands and grazed shoulders,” the Russian space agency quoted Vladimir Solovyov, flight director for the Russian segment of the space station, as saying in a statement.NASA has stressed that the lives of the multinational crew were not in danger, but both Russian and US space experts called the leak “serious.”Not the first ammonia leak from stationNASA said ammonia was leaking from the same general area as in a previous episode in November last year.A meteorite or a piece of orbital debris is suspected to have hit the cooling radiator and caused the problem, which International Space Station program manager Michael Suffredini described as an “annoyance because of all the work we have to do to work around the problem.”The issue took a turn for the worse on Thursday when it began leaking about five pounds of ammonia per day, compared with a previous level of five pounds per year.Hadfield earlier described the leak as a “very steady stream of flakes or bits” of ammonia drifting into space.The flakes were moving “evenly and repeatedly enough that it looks like they were coming from a point source,” he said in a recording of the conversation posted by NASA.Hadfield, Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko are set to return to Earth early on Tuesday after completing their half-year stint aboard the station.Cassidy is also set to perform two scheduled spacewalks in July, NASA said.Saturday’s six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk will not interfere with their planned departure from the space station, NASA said.- © AFP, 2013Read: ‘Very serious’ ammonia leak outside International Space Station
If you’ve ever done any work in 3D, or had to describe a 3D concept to someone, you might have noticed that it’s not that easy. It’s simple to think, and work, in terms of left/right/up/down, but throw in that third dimension and all of a sudden things get complex. This is especially true because our tools — like a mouse, computer display, and pen/paper — are designed to work in 2D. The ZeroN is a “physical/digital interaction element” that can help with these problems.“Interaction element” is rather vague, so it’s best to think of the ZeroN has a levitating sphere that an be controlled by a computer. And the computer control isn’t just a nifty trick — it means that a degree of intelligence can be added to the model. For example a person can move the sphere and the computer can follow and record the path, playing at a later time. It’s a cool trick, but it’s just the start of what something like this could do.One example in the video is the modeling of planetary movement. This type of thing might be hard to wrap your brain around, especially once multiple bodies are involved, but seeing it happen right in front of you could make a big difference. An even better example is using the sphere as a camera control for 3D animation/design. Just think of when you are playing a third-person game and you can’t get the camera to be just where you want it — there are people who have to deal with that all day.The ZeroN project, which works using (you guessed it) magnetic levitation, was designed by Jinha Lee of the MIT Media Lab Tangible Media Group, along with Rehmi Post and advisor Hiroshi Ishii.More at ZeroN, via notcot
It’s a short story about isolation and the limitations of a speculative technology: can it ever understand the complex requirements of its end-user, in particular, the human need to feel loved and valued?Honey Days, by Stephen O’ReillyMonday evening. The broken buzz of a corncrake and low hoot of a train klaxon drifts across fields and hills. Ava will be home soon. She will unlock her bike and cycle home from the station along sun spattered country lanes. She has been away all weekend.James is sitting at the table in the garden pretending to look at pictures in an old book while listening to the somnolent drone of bees around the pink flowers of the Escallonia hedge. He cannot decide if bees are real or not. Grace smiles at him. She is harvesting salad leaves from the raised beds they built together last year. Grace does not speak much although she is equipped with a warm melodic voice.“Will you read to us tonight?” he asks.Grace nods. She is a little old and slow but he likes her hazel eyes and short cropped hair. She sees him watching her, puts down the bowl of leaves and holds her arms out wide for a hug. He gets up and steps into her embrace, resting his chin on her shoulder. The fabric of her pink cardigan catches on the precise stubble of his chin.Her arms are very strong.After dinner, Ava lies in the bath, silvery beads of moisture gathered on her face, eyes closed but a compressed inner tension never allowing her to look fully relaxed. He kneels down beside her on the cool tiles and taking a face cloth begins to gently bathe her.Hands sliding over her, watching stiffness ease from neck and shoulders, breasts staring sightlessly up at him as his hands trace slick boundaries. Across the mild roundness of belly to where all her geometries intersect, down to the bruising high on her inner thighs. Fresh, blue, new.“You are hurt.”“Yes.”“Did I do that?”“No.”“Someone else?”“Yes.”“Do I hurt you?”“You don’t know how.”James often lies awake listening to the wind and the sound of Ava’s teeth grinding while some unnamed anxiety seeks expression. He holds her and whispers her name, maybe tells her that he loves her, that everything is going to be all right and the noise will abate for a few minutes. Sometimes it even stops.The phrases are useful things he has picked up from the afternoon trank shows. He enjoys trying to follow the complicated story lines and exaggerated facial expressions of the actors. They are not real. Ava is real.She keeps an empty room upstairs where she goes to scream. James has carefully tacked black soundproof insulation around the walls and windows for her. The carpet is a luxurious, light-absorbing brown. There is no furniture. She locks herself in the room and floats in the darkness screaming herself hoarse. She emerges ragged, dazed, smaller somehow, face swollen with tears. James sits on the floor outside the door and waits for her as instructed. Sometimes he puts his hands over his ears but is not sure why.During the night, Ava has adjusted some of his parameters. He can feel the difference in the morning when he wakes. Sections of self are missing or corrupted in ways he does not fully understand. He asks Ava about it at breakfast but she silences him with a kiss.Warm bud of tongue probing his mouth, tracing his perfect white teeth.She says she likes the taste of him this morning. His mouth makes a sterile saliva analogue that contains bonding hormone and tastes of honey, strawberry or chocolate depending on the day of the week. Tuesdays are strawberry days.“I need your help,” she tells him. “I’m so tired.”“I don’t understand.”Furrows appear between her eyebrows and her mouth turns down slightly at the edges.“Never mind,” she says.James can tell that she is disappointed. He realises that he has made a mistake but is not sure how. His mind quickly shuffles through the options. It is important that he always appears interested, empathic. He needs to get back on solid ground.“You’re a good person. Grace and I love you,” he tells her eventually.He widens his eyes and dilates his pupils slightly in emphasis.Later Ava waves at him and rings the bell of her bicycle as she pedals down the gravel lane towards the station. Grace is doing the dishes. He watches her slow, deliberate movements at the sink and thinks about the empty, changed places within himself.Perhaps Ava will prefer Grace now.While Ava is in the city they work together around the house. James is good at gardening, painting and minor repairs. Grace looks after dusting, dishes and the meals for Ava. She has a mathematical precision and an eye for food presentation with salad components and decorative smears of dressing.In the afternoon when the work is complete, they will often sit on the red sofa facing the big screen in the living room holding hands while watching the trank shows. Sometimes James puts his mouth on Grace’s cool, dry lips. He asks her to open her mouth and she complies, her eyes rapidly moving between the characters on the screen.Her mouth is very different from Ava’s.The geography of Ava’s mouth is always shifting, demanding, generating noise and meaning. Eating, licking, sucking, screaming.Grace cannot make flavours. Her mouth is a quiet thing, like an abandoned house he might find shelter within. He puts his head against her small, hard breasts and listens to the comforting monotonous hum there. It is the sound of her thoughts, he thinks.His first memory is the warmth of Ava’s hand on his face.He opens his eyes and sees her standing in front of him. She is a small, thin woman with black hair and blue eyes and she tells him that he is beautiful. That he belongs to her and that they will always be together.She asks him to manifest desire for her. He reaches out to touch her hair while diverting internal fluids to provide an erection and a rosy flush to cheek and chest.He dilates his pupils to drink her in. If he had lungs he could have flared his nostrils.Ava warns him to hide upstairs if anyone other than her approaches the house.His form will betray function, she says gently caressing the side of his perma-tanned face.People will laugh at her loneliness and call her foolish for wasting money on such a thing.Ava shows him how to do the things she wants. She works for a law firm in the city specialising in commercial contracts and is always very thorough. She describes in great and explicit detail the things she requires of him and provides him with a list of useful words and phrases. When play is over, he must verbally impress on her that she is a good and valuable person. He must not be overly effusive and she will tell him when to stop.She tells him to make it feel authentic.Often after play, Ava will want to hurt him.She says she hates him and that he is a stupid, filthy machine. He leans into her blows like a man desperately trying to pay attention.On Tuesday evening they retire early to Ava’s room and Grace reads to them from the large book of fairy-tales that are kept on the night stand. She sits at the cramped dressing table with its bottles of perfume and collection of simple necklaces draped over the mirror and in a warm feminine voice reads childhood stories as the light dims and a warm breeze comes through the open window with the distant evening song of a robin.Ava and James lie on the bed holding hands while discreet projectors interpret the stories as clever silhouettes played out on the opposite wall.Breadcrumb trails and witches shoved screaming into ovens.Comatose princesses raped.A pregnant woman stares covetously at her neighbour’s rapunzel, securing a craving for salad with her baby girl.“Do these things really happen?” James asks eager to display his innate curiosity.“All the time,” Ava says. “People are terrible.”“And magic is real?”“Magic is real,” confirms Ava smiling.Statistically Ava is smiling more than usual this evening and this pleases James as the twist and curve of her lips form one of his many key performance indicators.He asks Grace to leave. A slick shadow in a cardigan passing out of the room to stand sentry in her cupboard at the bottom of the stairs. Grace does not need sleep because she is only domestic and does not have many organic components. She is the stupid machine, not him. He is companion.Ava touches him behind his left ear which is a cue for them to fuck in the prescribed manner. The use of synonyms to describe the things they do has been forbidden this evening.She tells him that she wants to be in her right mind and that honesty is crucial, adjusting the line and angle of her limbs while James composes his features into a simulacrum of longing based on a Caravaggio she has shown him.Afterwards, Ava turns away from him, neck resting on his forearm, his other arm draped loosely across her torso.“Now, hold me tight as you can until I sleep,” she whispers.Kissing the nape of her neck, he says goodnight and complies. Vestigial internal alarms jangle faintly but are easily subdued by the modifications Ava has wrought within him and after a few minutes she is very quiet.Now James can choose to remain in her bed or sleep on the mat in the corner of the room. He prefers the mat because he can listen to the creaking noises the house transmits through the floorboards as it cools and contracts during the night. Sometimes a spider emerges from beneath the skirting board and crawls over his face as he lies there perfectly still. He looks forward to the arrival of the spider but there is a randomness to the thing that makes its comings and goings difficult to predict. The spider is real, he decides. It is a small perfect thing only concerned with its own moist mandates. If he was a spider he could live within Grace’s mouth and they would always be together.James will sleep for a few hours now while his mind automatically sorts and sifts through the events of the day. Across the room, Ava is peaceful. Usually he can hear the slosh and gurgle of food. The rhythmic double thump of her valves opening and closing. Her unconscious bruxism and occasional venting of gases. Now there is nothing but the faint murmur of infra-red from a shape beneath the sheet.In the morning he rouses her for work with a kiss.He strokes her hair and informs her that it is a beautiful summer’s day and that she is good and valuable and much loved. Her lips are parted and he can see the blue of one iris beneath a half-opened eyelid. It gives her face a slightly sceptical expression that makes him smile. Her mouth is more like Grace’s this morning. Quiet, cool, and dry.Not knowing how to proceed, he eventually decides to carry her downstairs for breakfast. Ava is stiff and uncooperative but Grace has set the table outside in the bright morning sun with the cereal that Ava likes and carefully racked precise triangles of golden toast. Grace stands beside the table, coffee pot in hand, hazel eyes flicking between them, watching carefully for some cue to begin serving breakfast.“Ava is under a spell,” he announces with some authority. “She will not be going to work today.” James is glad of this because he misses Ava when she is gone and now they will all sit on the sofa and watch the trank shows together. Magic is real and the good and valuable always live happily ever after.As Grace pretends to pour him a cup of coffee, a bee floats out of the Escallonia hedge and lands on the collar of Grace’s nightgown. James watches in delight as it crawls up her purple mottled neck and into her slightly open mouth.Bees are real, he decides and today is Wednesday.Wednesdays are honey days. By Stephen O’Reilly 1 Comment RTÉ Radio 1 short story award winner: ‘Honey Days’ Read the overall winner of this year’s RTÉ Radio 1 Short Story Award, in memory of Francis McManus. 2 hours ago https://jrnl.ie/4806846 Stephen O’Reilly Sunday 15 Sep 2019, 7:00 PM THE ANNUAL RTÉ Short Story Award recently chose its 2019 winners.At the top of the trio was Honey Days, written by Stephen O’Reilly. This year, as with last year, TheJournal.ie is delighted to publish the three winning stories, along with the audio of the story as read by an Irish actor.This week, Honey Days is read by Jane Brennan (of Brooklyn and The Tudors). O’Reilly, who lives in Galway, has previously been shortlisted for both the Francis MacManus and Seán O’Faoláin Short Story Awards. He is a recipient of a Molly Keane Memorial Award and his work has been published in various collections in the UK and Ireland.Honey Days is the story of a ménage-à-trois of a kind between Ava, Grace and James, only one of whom is human.Stephen says: Short URL Share1 Tweet Email1 Source: RTÉ Radio 1/SoundCloudHoney Days, the winner of this year’s RTÉ Radio 1 Short Story Competition in honour of Francis MacManus, will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 at 11.20pm on Monday 13 September 2019, read by Jane Brennan and produced by Sarah Binchy. The three judges of this year’s awards were writer Liz Nugent, RTÉ’s arts and media correspondent Sinéad Crowley, and Declan Meade, editor of The Stinging Fly. 3,844 Views Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article
WWE Clash of Champions Results – 9/15/19 (Rollins vs. Strowman, Kingston vs. Orton) Pinterest Cesaro Video: Watch the live WWE Clash of Champions Kickoff Show from Charlotte tonight Ronda Rousey Highlighting WWEs Problems Wrestleview Live #65: Reviewing and discussing WWE Clash of Champions from Charlotte WhatsApp Facebook Google+ Now Playing Up Next Kurt Angle Joan Jett Set To Perform Ronda Rouseys Entrance At WrestleMania 35 Videos Articles WWE Worlds Collide results courtesy of WWE.com.WWE Worlds Collide results, April 14, 2019: Prince Pretty beats back Undisputed ERA’s StrongAn evening of dream matches pitting NXT Superstars against NXT Alumni concluded with a technical wrestling clinic between Roderick Strong and Tyler Breeze. Although The Messiah of the Backbreaker looked to shock the Raw Superstar’s system, the new-look Prince Pretty refused to stay down as the 2019 Superstar Shake-up nears.Kassius Ohno def. Aiden EnglishAiden English was eager to remind everyone that as good as he is at calling the action of 205 Live, he’s still a dangerous threat anytime he enters the ring. The person he needed to convince most of all was his opponent, NXT UK’s Kassius Ohno. The Knockout Artist openly questioned why the WWE Universe was throwing its support behind “a commentator” and even warned Worlds Collide broadcasters Byron Saxton & Percy Watson that he was planning to hurt their colleague.English soon made Ohno regret his words, as he wiped out The Wrestling Genius with a tope con hilo before snaring a near fall off a picturesque Swanton. Yet, despite English’s success in the aerial department, his chin was still susceptible to Ohno’s huge, and sudden, knockout power. After a quickfire exchange, Ohno dusted The Drama King with a Rolling Elbow for the win.Harper def. Dominik DijakovicIt’s Worlds Collide Sunday. You know what that means: Harper’s back.In his first singles match on WWE Network since undergoing wrist surgery last year, the former Intercontinental and NXT Tag Team Champion brought a perilous fight to NXT’s five-tool player, Dominik Dijakovic. Approaching the match as if it was the main event of WrestleMania, Harper threw everything he had at The Rare Breed, and Dijakovic was only too happy to return the favor. The result was a wildly unpredictable brawl between two of the premier heavyweights in all of WWE.Dijakovic outmuscled the 275-pound SmackDown Superstar, slinging him from one end of the ring to the other. Later, he claimed a two-count after dropping Harper with a chokeslam powerbomb. Harper responded in the extreme, drilling Dijakovic with a Michinoku Driver off the apron and onto the floor. The impact was sickening — onlookers were visibly shocked — but both Superstars, somehow, still had gas left in the tank, and the match roared on.The big hits continued, as did the reversals. Dijakovic even countered Harper’s German superplex by backflipping into a safe landing, much to the WWE Universe’s amazement. But when the match descended into a slugfest, Harper’s discus lariat won out.Harper offered a handshake after the brutal encounter and Dijakovic accepted, underscoring the deep respect that both Superstars have for each other.Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish def. Alexander Wolfe & Killian DainSome things will never change, like Undisputed ERA and SAnitY tearing each other apart anytime they’re in arm’s reach of one another.As the two squads reignited their NXT rivalry at Worlds Collide, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish sought to divide and conquer the unit of Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain, focusing their efforts on cutting down Wolfe and keeping The Beast of Belfast at bay. When Dain finally tagged in, he barreled over both Undisputed ERA members and hit a two-for-one Samoan drop/fallaway slam on both Superstars.While SAnitY had brute force going for them, Undisputed ERA’s finely tuned tag team mechanics proved hard to stop. O’Reilly executed a blind tag while Dain prepared to put Fish away with a powerslam. The unabashedly sleazy Superstar quickly took advantage, chop-blocking Dain and working with Fish to fell the big man with a high-low attack for the pin.Fish & O’Reilly continued putting the boots to Dain after the bell, but Eric Young fought off both Superstars and sent them packing, suggesting the longstanding hostility between SAnitY and Undisputed ERA is far from over.Tyler Breeze def. Roderick StrongThe new-look Tyler Breeze received a hero’s welcome from the WWE Universe as he locked up with Undisputed ERA’s Roderick Strong. Prince Pretty’s contingent of supporters didn’t matter to The Messiah of the Backbreaker, of course, nor did it deter Strong’s attempt to crumple Breeze’s spine.Indeed, Strong made every effort to wreck Breeze’s vertebrae, whether it was converting a belly-to-back suplex into a creative version of a backbreaker or catching Breeze’s spin kick and turning that, too, into a backbreaker variation.Breeze stayed resilient. More than that, he had Strong well-scouted. When The Undisputed ERA member tried to apply the Stronghold, Breeze kicked him off. A front facelock by Strong appeared destined to lead to the End of Heartache, but Prince Pretty kneed his way out of the predicament. In a final evasive tactic, the hard-to-hit Breeze dodged Strong’s leaping knee strike and fired back with an Unprettier out of nowhere to take the winning fall.Recommended videosPowered by AnyClipSeth Rollins Defends WWE On Two Separate OccasionsVideo Player is loading.Play VideoPauseUnmuteDuration 0:30/Current Time 0:06Loaded: 100.00%0:06Remaining Time -0:24 FullscreenUp NextThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Replay the list Seth Rollins Mike Tedesco RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Videos Articles Now Playing Up Next Now Playing Up Next Roman Reigns is in Remission Twitter Ronda Rousey On WWE: I Love This Job, But I Dont Need It Seth Rollins Defends WWE On Two Separate Occasions Videos Articles Now Playing Up Next Now Playing Up Next
This week’s episode of Clark Talks, the Columbian’s podcast, dives into Vancouver’s past, then looks ahead to the city’s future.In this episode, hosts Katie Gillespie and Dameon Pesanti, reporters for The Columbian, chat with a historian about the century-old Interstate 5 Bridge that stretches across the Columbia River.The 100th anniversary of the northbound span’s official opening is Tuesday.Then the pair talk to Chad Eiken, director of community and economic development at the city of Vancouver, about what’s next in the rapidly changing downtown core.The pair also chat with features news coordinator Ashley Swanson to talk about what events are coming up this weekend.Here’s a list of the events featured:• “Waiting in the Wings,” presented by Magenta Theater. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10-11, 16-18 and 22-24; 2 p.m. Feb. 18 and 25. Magenta Theater, 1108 Main St., Vancouver; $20 to $22. Proceeds from the Feb. 16 performance benefit Vancouver PAL. 360-635-4358 or www.magentatheater.com• Sweetheart Hangar Dance, 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 11. Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St., Vancouver; $20 to $25. 360-816-6252 or www.friendsfortvancouver.org• Chinese New Year Lantern Festival, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 10. Franklin Elementary School, 5206 Franklin St., Vancouver; free. www.quanrenofvancouver.org• 100th Birthday Party for the Interstate Bridge, 3 to 6 p.m. Feb. 11 Red Lion Hotel on the River, Jantzen Beach, 909 N. Hayden Island Drive, Portland; free. 503-283-4466 or www.pdxbridgefestival.org/events.html
MondayVancouver City Council, 415 W. Sixth St., Vancouver• 8 a.m., special meeting: Council will discuss city council applicants in executive session. Plans to announce finalists at 9:30 a.m.• 4 p.m., special meeting: Council will interview finalists and go into executive session at 8:15 p.m. to deliberate. An appointment is tentatively scheduled for 9:15 p.m.Clark County Council, Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., sixth floor, Vancouver.• 10 a.m., council time.Port of Camas-Washougal, 24 S. A St., Washougal.• 4:30 p.m., executive session: personnel evaluation.• 5 p.m., regular meeting, agenda: waterfront development discussion, 2018 revised commission meeting schedule, employment contract.Camas City Council, City Hall, 616 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas.• 4:30 p.m., workshop: East County Fire and Rescue functional consolidation, intergovernmental agreement with Clark Public Utilities regarding transfer of a satellite water system, draft ordinance related to public records fees, 2018 proposed fee schedule update and addendum to the interlocal agreement with Camas School District for the school resource officer.• 7 p.m., regular meeting: 2018 citizen appointments to boards, commissions and committees.Battle Ground City Council, Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency, 710 W. 13th St., Vancouver.• 6 p.m., special meeting: emergency management tabletop exercise led by Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency staff.Woodland City Council, Council Chambers, 200 E. Scott Ave., Woodland.• 6:30 p.m., executive session: potential litigation.• 7 p.m., public hearing: comprehensive plan to change high-density residential to residential at 1350 Glenwood St., Woodland.Yacolt Town Council, Town Hall, 202 W. Cushman St., Yacolt.• 7 p.m., regular meeting: part-time employee health benefits, fireworks, update on hiring process for town clerk.TuesdayClark Public Utilities, Operations Center Education Center, 8600 N.E. 117th Ave. Vancouver.• 9 a.m., board meeting.Skamania County Commissioners, Skamania County Courthouse, 240 N.W. Vancouver Ave., Stevenson.• 9:30 a.m. regular meeting: ratify agreement with Polygon for salvage of records due to courthouse flooding, ratify resolution declaring a local emergency due to courthouse flooding.• 10 a.m. Wind River Business Park site visit.• 12:30 p.m. High Bridge Park (Blue Hole) site visit.Clark County Council, Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., sixth floor, Vancouver.• 6 p.m., regular hearing: intergovernmental agreement, notice to contractors, federal funding contracts, resolution for cancellation of delinquent property taxes, assessments and fees.WednesdayClark County Council, Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., sixth floor, Vancouver.• 10:30 a.m., work session: Freight Rail Dependent Uses Phase II.ThursdayClark County Solid Waste Advisory Commission, Clark County Center for Community Health, Conference Room 210, 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver.• 6 p.m., regular meeting: appointment of chair pro-tem, updates, legislative update, solid waste tip fee update, China’s “National Sword” and recyclables update.Ridgefield City Council, Ridgefield Community Center, 210 N. Main Ave., Ridgefield.• 6:30 p.m., public hearing: permitted overnight camping.FridayClark County Parks Advisory Board, Luke Jensen Sports Complex, 4000 N.E. 78th St., Bud Van Cleve Community Room, Vancouver.• Noon, meeting: public comment, administrative actions, budget update, park impact fee updates, Lewis and Clark Trail update, youth member update, PAB logo update, PAB Facebook page update, manager’s report, grant writing discussion.
EDMONDS — Brian Baird is talking, in paragraphs, about marine snails the size of lentils that are in danger of dying out from the increasing acidity of oceans.He’s speaking with authority about how the loss of those pteropods would disrupt the food chain, and, for a moment, it’s as if he’s addressing his former colleagues in Congress, imploring them to act before it’s too late.But Baird, 55, is not standing at the podium on the floor of the House of Representatives where the Democrat served 12 years as a Washington congressman. He’s seated at a small round metal table at the marina in the city of Edmonds where he moved six months ago with his wife, Rachel Nugent, and 6-year-old twin sons to begin a new phase of life as a stay-at-home father.“It was absolutely for the benefit of the kids,” he said of the decision to leave office. “People say that and it always elicits skepticism: What’s the real reason? Was there a crisis? Was he afraid of not getting re-elected? I didn’t have any fear about that. That had nothing to do with it.”Still, when an ex-congressman moves to town, it gets people talking.And when said congressman also has a bundle of money in his campaign kitty — $451,000 as of March 31 — and chooses to live where a congressional seat may soon be available, well, those conversations quickly become fodder for rumors nationwide.
I just got an e-mail from a spokeperson for Newsweek confirming that 111 of the 150 staffers offered buyouts are leaving the magazine. They’re calling it a “voluntary retirement program.” Here’s Newsweek’s statement:”Confronting the challenges in today’s media climate, we recently offered a voluntary retirement program to some of our employees. We were fortunate to be able to provide generous packages for eligible staffers who wanted to move on, while also saving on some of our existing expenses. A number of the familiar faces who accepted the offer, including David Ansen, David Gates, Cathleen McGuigan, Mark Starr and John Barry, will continue to contribute to the magazine and Newsweek.com. And, of course, Newsweek remains home to Jonathan Alter, Sharon Begley, Ellis Cose, Chris Dickey, Howard Fineman, Daniel Gross, Mark Hosenball, Mike Isikoff, Melinda Liu, Johnnie Roberts, Evan Thomas, Fareed Zakaria, Anna Quindlen , George Will and many other star journalists. New voices will be joining Newsweek too. We will continue to invest in Newsweek, newsweek.com and other new ventures, which collectively will strengthen our company’s long-term health and vibrancy. We are committed to producing the compelling, innovative and news-breaking journalism that has defined Newsweek for its 75-year history.”
Family members and villagers carry the coffin of Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper Sukhjinder Singh during the cremation ceremony at Gandiwind village, some 60 kms from Amritsar, on 16 February 2019, following an attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir. Thousands of mourners across several Indian cities 16 February attended funerals of soldiers killed in a deadly suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir as a round-the-clock curfew remains in force in a part of the restive region. AFP: AFPThousands of mourners across India attended funerals on Saturday for some of the 41 soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir as a round-the-clock curfew remained in force in part of the restive region.The paramilitary troops were killed on Thursday as explosives packed in a van ripped through a convoy transporting 2,500 soldiers in the disputed Himalayan region, the deadliest attack in a 30-year-old armed conflict.TV stations showed coffins wrapped in Indian flags being carried by thousands of people across their hometowns, after the bodies were flown to New Delhi late Friday for a ceremony attended by prime minister Narendra Modi.India has accused Pakistan of harbouring the militants behind the attack, which has sparked nationwide outrage and some public calls for war against the nuclear-armed arch-rival to avenge the killings.Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947, with both the countries, which have fought three wars, claiming it in its entirety.Two buses of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the 78-vehicle convoy were targeted by the bomber on a key highway in the Pulwama district, just outside the main city of Srinagar.The Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility, and the vehicle was driven by a known local militant.The powerful blast reduced one of the buses to a heap of mangled debris. Pictures showed bodies and body parts strewn all over the highway.”I feel proud of the martyrdom of my son. I expect the government of India to avenge the killings,” Brish Soreng, father of one of the soldiers, told reporters.- Diplomatic support -Modi on Saturday said that those behind the attack would be held responsible.India is garnering diplomatic support after the attack and has vowed to “isolate” Pakistan diplomatically in the international community, saying it has “incontrovertible evidence” of Islamabad’s role.Pakistan has rejected the allegations.Jaish-e-Mohammed is largely considered to be one of the most active Pakistan-based insurgent groups fighting in Kashmir.Islamabad was battling another crisis on its western border Saturday after Iran accused Pakistan-based militants of killing 27 Revolutionary Guards in a suicide car bomb attack in Isfahan city.Tehran asked Pakistan to crack down on militants or face consequences for “housing” them.The warnings to Islamabad came ahead of Sunday’s two-day visit by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan. He is expected to visit India a day later.- Protests continue -Street protests continued Saturday across several Indian cities with demonstrators burning effigies of Pakistani leaders and Muslim cleric Maulana Masood Azhar, who founded Jaish-e-Mohammed.The shock attack has caused widespread anger across India and a violent backlash against Kashmiris elsewhere in the country.Mob attacks on Kashmiri students and businessmen have been reported in the northern city of Dehradun, with some fleeing the city.A curfew remained in place in Kashmir’s Hindu-majority Jammu city after mobs on Friday attacked Kashmiri properties, set fire to vehicles and pelted housing complexes with stones, prompting counter-protests in Srinagar.At least 12 people were injured in the city, local media reported, and internet access in the area was suspended.Angry Indian social media users furiously demanded retribution for Thursday’s attack, while several hawkish TV channels called for all-out war with Pakistan.The attack has put Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the back foot ahead of national elections due by May.Modi’s government in recent years has adopted an aggressive posture in Kashmir and shelved dialogue with Pakistan to boost its popularity after accusing the previous government of being soft on militants.”Revenge is the only word that comes to my Mind,” Modi government minister Babul Supriyo wrote on Twitter.A meeting of political parties in New Delhi Saturday extended full support to the government in “fighting terrorism, defending India’s unity and integrity”.India has stationed some 500,000 troops Kashmir, making it the most militarised zone in the world, following an armed rebellion that began in 1989.Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict with most casualties civilians. Last year was the deadliest in a decade with almost 600 killed.Many separatist rebel groups are fighting for the independence of all of Kashmir, while some want the territory to become a part of Pakistan.
This weekend when you are relatively free from life’s mundane duties, ask yourself this: are you the one who loves to post motivational posts taken from new age gurus to the ancient scriptures on Facebook and Twitter? Did it ever occur to you that posting such profound thoughts may mean that you yourself need to fix your otherwise stressed life? Or are you a genuine change agent seeking to transform people’s lives for the better?Although some of the nation’s leading behavioural experts slightly differ on this, one thing is clear: for some people, in their quest for bringing clarity and optimism in their own lives, they may be sharing “profound” thoughts with others on various social media platforms. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’According to Dr Samir Parikh, director (mental health and behavioural sciences) at Fortis Hospitals in the capital, people typically share posts based on their likes and personalities. “This, however, cannot be generally applied to all the people. The fact is that people post things based on their personalities, their social groups, their interests and likes and dislikes, so any specific meaning to a post should be best avoided,” said Parikh. However, according to Piya Mukherjee, director at VES Leadership Academy and Research Centre (VESLARC) in Mumbai, such people may or may not are driven by unhappiness in their own lives but they have walked the path of pain and developed a keen sense of compassion for their wider circle of friends on social media. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix“Apart from the masses, there is another smaller group of people who share such posts – the catalysts or the change agents who genuinely see such posts as capable of inspiring others towards transformation,” noted Mukherjee, also a corporate coach. Such people are usually healers, teachers and counsellors by nature, irrespective of the official designation of the work they do. “Their role is to bring in some mind-food into the lives of their friends and they do this with a genuine intention,” said Mukherjee. A study last December created quite a stir as it claimed that people who post inspirational and motivational quotes on various social media like Facebook and Twitter are actually “dumb” and “have lower levels of intelligence”. In the study titled “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bulls***t” that took examples of some of the inspirational quotes from new age guru Deepak Chopra, psychologists from the University of Waterloo in Canada examined whether some people are more receptive to some silly inspirational statements than others.The findings that appeared in the journal Judgment and Decision Making showed that there is a definite link between low intelligence and being impressed by what looks like “profound statements”. “I do not agree with these findings. Posts on inspiration may be a reflection of a person’s mindset, temperament, insight or the situation that the person may be in. A person may choose to just share posts with his friends because it inspires him personally or provides him with strength,” elaborated Dr Sameer Malhotra (director, mental health and behavioural sciences) at Max Hospitals. “It is not merely about intelligence but also about suggestibility, personality and support systems around you that shape your attitudes, beliefs and thinking patterns,” Parikh added. Dr Jyoti Kapoor Madan, senior consultant (psychiatry) at Gurgaon’s Paras Hospital, felt that people identify with thoughts and feelings which are prominent in their own mind.“Therefore, we are often interested in reading and searching for content which is associated with our own dilemmas and conflicts. These feelings, thoughts and artistic interpretations are then further shared on social media,” said Madan.There is, however, a fine line between “pseudo-profound” and otherwise pure inspirational stuff. “Motivational and inspirational quotes will interest individuals who themselves seek motivation or are seeking to get out of their own sense of helplessness or hopelessness. They may be lonely but are definitely looking to make it better, not worse,” Madan explained.According to Mukherjee, when one is experiencing pain and decides to lend a helping hand to another, two things happen – there is an immediate sense of empathy and inter-connectedness with others who may be suffering which, in turn, leads to a better perspective on one’s own unhappiness.Do such posts on the social media constitute a cry for help? “It would take a perceptive mind to ‘join the dots’ and realise that the person posting inspiring material is actually going through an acute case of the blues. Hence, a reader can view such received posts at two levels – that of face-value inspiration and of a deeper level query about the person who has posted it,” Mukherjee pointed out.In the meantime, keep feeding friends with some real stuff on the social media that may change their lives for good – and yours too!