Neptune Strike '22 Kicks off Monday in Mediterranean > U.S. Department of Defense > Defense Department News

by C. TODD LOPEZ, 3 days ago

Starting Monday, NATO partners, including the United States, kick off the 12-day maritime exercise "Neptune Strike '22" in the Mediterranean Sea, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.

White House Praises DOD Acquisition Professionals for COVID-19 Efforts Around the World > U.S. Department of Defense > Defense Department News

by Terri Moon Cronk, 3 days ago

Professionals with the Defense Department's acquisition workforce who worked on the White House and DOD COVID-19 supply chain global effort were honored with a letter of appreciation from President Joe Biden.

Nigeria Jihadists Kidnap 20 Children in Borno State, Residents Say

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Jihadists killed two people and kidnapped 20 children in Nigeria's Borno state, where Islamist militants are waging a more than decade-long insurgency, a community leader and residents said Friday.  Thursday's assault on Piyemi village took place near Chibok town where eight years ago, Boko Haram jihadists abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in an attack that sparked an international outcry.  Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stormed Piyemi on Thursday afternoon, killing two men and seizing 13 girls and seven boys, according to the residents and the community leader. The ISWAP militants dressed in military uniforms started shooting and looting shops in the village and setting homes on fire, they said.  "They shot dead two people and took away 13 girls and seven boys aged between 12 and 15," local resident Samson Bulus told AFP by phone.  The militants who attacked from nearby Sambisa forest herded "the 20 kidnapped children into a truck they seized from the village and drove them into the forest," said resident Silas John.  Military officials were not immediately available to comment on the attack.  But a local Chibok government official confirmed the attack without giving details.  A community leader also gave similar details about the jihadist assault and the abducted children.  "This attack was the third in recent days and underscores the risks villages around Chibok face from jihadists," said Ayuba Alamson, the community leader from Chibok.  Schools targeted Thursday's kidnapping came as Nigeria struggles with a string of abduction-for-ransom attacks on schools by criminal gangs over the last year in its northwestern states. About 1,500 schoolchildren were seized last year in 20 mass kidnappings in schools across the region, with 16 students losing their lives, according to the U.N. children welfare agency UNICEF. Most of the hostages were released after negotiations with the criminal gangs known locally as bandits, but some are still in captivity in forest hideouts. Forest enclaves Following Thursday's raid, residents said they returned to Piyemi village Friday after spending the night in the bush to escape the ISWAP attackers. The jihadists razed part of the village, including a church, and they burned 10 vehicles in the three-hour long attack, said resident John. Troops have been stationed in Chibok since the infamous 2014 schoolgirl abduction, but deadly jihadist raids continue in the area, with the militants launching attacks from their nearby forest enclaves. ISWAP, which split from Boko Haram in 2016, seized Sambisa Forest from rival Boko Haram following the death of Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau in May in clashes between the two factions. More than 40,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million people displaced by the jihadist conflict in the northeast of Nigeria.   

White House Says COVID-19 Tests Being Shipped 

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The White House says some of the at-home, free COVID-19 tests it is offering to Americans have begun shipping via the U.S. Postal Service.  During a Friday press briefing, Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said shipping started Thursday.  He said demand has been high and added that there had already been millions of orders through the government website that was launched earlier this week.  He would not provide specific numbers when asked, saying the White House was waiting on data.  Americans are allowed to order four of the tests per household. The Biden administration has faced criticism for a lack of tests during the omicron surge.  During the briefing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said the average number of omicron cases was down nationally by about 5%, mostly in areas where it began to surge. She said there were about 744,600 cases per day on average in the past seven days.  She warned that some parts of the country could still see an increase in infections.  "In some parts of the country we are seeing the number of daily cases caused by the omicron variant beginning to decline," she said. "The surge in cases started at different times in different regions and (we) may continue to see high case counts in some areas of the country in the days and weeks ahead."  Some information in this report came from Reuters.

Video of Child Militants Executing Nigerian Soldiers Raises Concerns 

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A video released this week by the Nigerian terrorist group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) appears to show armed children executing two military officers. Security experts say the recruitment of Nigerian children into violent extremism is hampering efforts by authorities to end the insurgency.  The 27-minute-long video was released Tuesday by SITE Intelligence Group — a jihadist monitoring organization.  In the video, young militants around 12 years old are seen shooting two men in the head who are dressed in Nigeria military uniforms. The video also shows many young fighters receiving military training. Nigeria military authorities have yet to issue a statement on the video.  This is not the first time armed groups have released video of child soldiers executing abductees. But security analysts are concerned the latest video will undercut claims by authorities they are gaining ground in the battle against terrorists. Senator Iroegbu is the founder of the online security magazine, The Global Sentinel.  "Where it becomes concerning, apart from the fact that this violates the rights of these children, is the element of continuity because they are indoctrinating these children right from the young age and it presents a problem that means they're planning about their succession ahead of time," Iroegbu said. "This is one of their strategies." This week, the military said troops rescued 16 abductees and that 863 terrorists quit Boko Haram. But experts say the recruiting of young fighters makes it more difficult to defeat terror groups and can hamper the efforts of the authorities. Security intelligence groups say child soldiers are often used by the terrorists as spies and informants to gather intelligence from target communities.  "Because they look innocent and they have been radicalized, it presents a dilemma because in observance of rule of engagement you can't just see a child and start shooting the child," Iroegbu said. UNICEF says some 95,000 children were recruited globally between 2005 and 2020 and that more than 3,500 were recruited by militants in Nigeria between 2013 and 2017.   In the past, Boko Haram often used children as suicide bombers — a practice that attracted widespread criticism.   Security analyst Ebenezer Oyetakin said poverty helps drive kids into the arms of terrorists. "The most important way to win this kind of a war is to ensure that in the first place we enlarge the basis of the economy of our nation," Oyetakin said. "A country of over 200 million people should have a minimum of 1 trillion in GDP because we cannot win this battle only by the kinetic, we must also win it in the belly of our children in their self-esteem in their capacities to care for themselves.”  Islamic State West Africa Province split off from Boko Haram in 2016. The group’s activities raise concerns about IS expanding its enclaves to West Africa.   Both Boko Haram and ISWAP are fighting and anti-government war to create their own Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria. UNICEF says the war has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced millions more.

Louie Anderson, Comic, Emmy Winner for 'Baskets,' Dies at 68

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Louie Anderson, whose four-decade career as a comedian and actor included his unlikely, Emmy-winning performance as mom to twin adult sons in the TV series "Baskets," died Friday. He was 68. Anderson died at a hospital in Las Vegas of complications from cancer, said Glenn Schwartz, his longtime publicist. Anderson had a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Schwartz said previously. "'Baskets' was such a phenomenal 'second act' for Louie Anderson. I wish he'd gotten a third," Michael McKean said on Twitter. George Wallace wrote: "You'll be missed, Louie. What an awesome friend. One in a million." Gilbert Gottfried posted a photo of himself, Anderson and Bob Saget, who died Jan. 9, with the caption: "Both good friends that will be missed." "You were as gracious and kind as you were funny. Rest well!! Keep 'em laughing in Heaven," Viola Davis said on Twitter. The portly, round-faced Anderson used his girth and a checkered childhood in Saint Paul, Minnesota, as fodder for his early stand-up routines. In a 1987 interview with The Associated Press, Anderson compared himself to another comedian who mined his childhood for comedy. "Bill Cosby and I had similar goals," Anderson told AP. "I wanted parents to be able to bring their children and children to be able to bring their parents to my concerts. I feel a family that can laugh about family problems is better off. The difference between Cosby and myself is that he sees it from an adult perspective and I tell it from a child's viewpoint." He had a life-long battle with weight, but said in 1987 that he'd put a stop to using his size as stage material. "I've always been big," he said. "But I don't do fat jokes anymore." In later years, his life as one of 11 children in a family headed by a troubled father and devoted mother was a deeper source of reflection and inspiration for Anderson, both in his screen work and in his best-selling books. His latest book, 2018's "Hey Mom," was a tribute in letters to the lessons he learned from her and how-to tips on facing life's challenges. He also gave the late Ora Zella Anderson a shout-out for the "Baskets" role. "I just started writing with one letter, saying, 'Hey Mom, I'm playing you on TV. I hope you see it. I hope you're a part of it..." Anderson told AP that year. He won the best supporting actor Emmy in 2016 for his portrayal of Christine Baskets, mother to twins played by Zach Galifianakis, in FX's "Baskets." Anderson, who received three consecutive Emmy nods for the role, played it with restraint and with specific touches he credits to his mom. "Nuance is what I go for, tiny rather than bigger things. Mom did things with her eyes or her grimace or her disappointed lips — or her passive-aggressiveness," he told the AP in 2015, laughing. "Rolling eyes were big in our family." Anderson, born March 24, 1953, was the 10th of 11 children for Ora and William Anderson. His father played trumpet with musical great Hoagy Carmichael and, Anderson has said, was an alcoholic. After his father's death, Anderson learned of how difficult his childhood had been and forgave him, he told People magazine in 2018. Louie Anderson's early jobs included counseling troubled children. He changed course after winning a 1981 Midwest comedy competition, where he was spotted by veteran comic Henny Youngman, who hosted contest, according to Schwartz. Anderson worked as a writer for Youngman and then gained onstage experience while crisscrossing the United States. His big break came in 1984 when Johnny Carson, known for showcasing promising comedians on "The Tonight Show," brought him on to perform. He was a familiar face elsewhere on TV, including as host of a revival of the game show "Family Feud" from 1999 to 2002, and on comedy specials and in frequent late-night talk show appearances. Anderson voiced an animated version of himself as a kid in "Life With Louie." He created the Humanitas Prize-winning cartoon series, which first aired in prime time in late 1994 before moving to Saturday morning for its 1995-98 run. Anderson won two Daytime Emmy Awards for the role. He made guest appearances in several TV series, including "Scrubs" and "Touched by an Angel," and was on the big screen in 1988′s "Coming to America" and in last year's sequel to the Eddie Murphy comedy. In a magazine interview, Anderson recounted getting the role after he spotted Murphy, who he knew from working in comedy clubs, at a Los Angeles restaurant. Anderson said hello, then made a costly decision that paid off. ″Take Eddie Murphy's check and put it on my credit card, but don't tell him until after I leave,″ Anderson recalled telling a waiter. He ended up with a $600 charge, but Murphy called to thank him and offered to write a part for him in "Coming to America," Anderson said. His books included "Dear Dad – Letters From An Adult Child, " a collection of letters from Anderson to his late father; "Good-bye Jumbo… Hello Cruel World," a self-help book, and "The F Word, How To Survive Your Family." His survivors include sisters Lisa and Shanna Anderson.

Air Force Medical Student Called to Work as Translator for Afghan Evacuees > U.S. Department of Defense > Story

by Sarah Marshall, Uniformed Services University, 3 days ago

When the Defense Department began airlifting nearly 130,000 people out of Afghanistan as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces last August, Air Force 2nd Lt. Kristen Bishop found her fluency in Persian Farsi and Dari was suddenly in high demand.

UN, Aid Groups Decry Latest Deadly Yemen Escalation

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The United Nations and international aid organizations have expressed concern and outrage over Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen Friday that killed at least 70 people and knocked out the country’s internet. The early morning strike hit at a temporary holding facility in the northwestern city of Sa’ada, with mostly migrants, including women and children, among those killed and wounded. Doctors Without Borders’ Yemen director, Ahmed Mahat, said around 200 of the injured were taken to a local hospital and his team in Sa’ada said many bodies remain beneath the rubble. “It is impossible to know how many people have been killed. It seems to have been a horrific act of violence,” Mahat said in a statement. The International Committee of the Red Cross said at least 100 people were killed and injured. “It is essential that we protect the lives of people in armed conflict. The human toll that we witness in Yemen is unacceptable,” Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC’s regional director for the Near and Middle East, said in a statement. Airstrike at Hodeidah In a separate airstrike in Yemen, three children were killed while playing in a football field in Hodeidah city, according to aid group Save the Children. At least five adults were also injured. Coalition airstrikes on Hodeidah also damaged the country’s main telecommunications center and knocked out the internet nationwide. The U.N. mission in Yemen said it is “gravely concerned” about recent military hostilities in the city that have killed and injured civilians and damaged public infrastructure. “The consequences of continued military confrontation in Hodeidah could be catastrophic for Yemenis, given the importance of the Hodeidah ports, which remain a critical lifeline for the population,” the U.N. mission said. Yemen is reliant on imports for nearly all its food and fuel, most of which come through Hodeidah’s Red Sea port. Both Hodeidah and Sa’ada are controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, whom the ousted Yemeni government has been fighting with assistance from a Saudi-led coalition since March 2015. Reprisals The Saudi-led coalition has stepped up airstrikes since Monday’s Houthi-claimed drone attack on Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Three civilian workers — two Indians and a Pakistani — were killed and six others injured in the brazen daytime strike. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned both the airstrikes and the Houthi attack on the UAE during a news conference on Friday. “This escalation needs to stop,” he told reporters at the United Nations. He reiterated his calls for the parties to implement a cease-fire, open the ports and airports, and then begin a serious dialogue. News of the latest airstrikes and casualties came as the U.N. Security Council met privately Friday morning in New York at the request of the UAE. The council issued a statement condemning the Houthi attack and calling for accountability for the perpetrators. UAE envoy Lana Nusseibeh told reporters that she shared information on the attacks with her Security Council counterparts. 'Launched indiscriminately' “The details, the origins of these attacks in Yemen, and where they were targeted to in Abu Dhabi, shows clearly that Sana’a, amongst other places of origin, were the place that these missiles — cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones — were launched indiscriminately at my country, in order to target the maximum number of civilians and civilian infrastructure,” she said. Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, has also seen heavy airstrikes in recent days. Among the Houthi’s targets in Abu Dhabi was the international airport, which Nusseibeh said sees more than 60,000 passengers transit on a daily basis. “This terrorist attack threatened the lives not only of my fellow Emiratis, but of the citizens of every U.N. member state, as well as all the residents of the UAE,” Nusseibeh said. “It is essential that the Security Council and the international community hold this terrorist Houthi militia to account for these crimes and to prevent future atrocities.”

January 21, 2022

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A look at the best news photos from around the world.

The Benefits of Walking

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((PKG)) WALKING LUCKY  ((TRT: 07:15)) ((Topic Banner: The Joy of Walking)) ((Reporter: Faiza Elmasry)) ((Camera/Editor: June Soh)) ((Map:  Vienna, Virginia)) ((Main character: 1 female)) ((Sub character: 1 male)) ((NATS/Amy: You want to go for a walk? Okay, just a minute. Okay.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) My name is Amy Jones and I'm a retired teacher and have lived here in Vienna for 22 years which seems like a long time. ((NATS/Amy: Lucky, Lucky. Come here. Come here. Come on. Stand up. Stand up.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) This is Lucky. He's six. He's part of the family. ((NATS/Amy: Come on. Oh, what a good kitty! Here you are. I don't know where the other one is.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) And I live here with my husband and two cats. ((NATS/Nathanial: Sit. Look at me. Go!)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) Lucky is a great companion. He's super friendly. He loves everybody. He's a terrible guard dog. ((NATS)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) During the pandemic, I've gotten into some new habits. So I've been working at home and I try to take two breaks during the day. So I go out and I do a quick walk around the neighborhood just to get a change of scenery. ((NATS/Amy: Come on pup. Here you go.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) But in the afternoons, Lucky and I’d go really consistently at 4:00, 4:30 after work is over, after school is over. And we have been going on some longer and longer walks. And I got thinking that I should really explore Vienna. So I went to the town hall which is just up the street and I asked if they had a map. And they gave me a big map of Vienna with all the streets. And I decided that Lucky and I were going to walk every street in the town so I could kind of get to know it. ((NATS/Amy: Oh boy, this might be slippery. I don't know, you want to try it, Lucky? You want to try it?)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) One of the things that struck me most about our town is how many, how much access there is to nature within neighborhoods. So you get to the end of a neighborhood or a cul-de-sac and often there would be little trails that would go off from the end of the cul-de-sac and it would end up down by a little stream. And then there would be paths and walking trails at the end of these and I had no idea. ((NATS/Amy: Come on pup. Come on. Ah, look. There’s a friend.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) I really enjoyed getting to know my neighbors. I saw them much more frequently than I would had I not been out walking regularly. So I have a neighbor down the street, Patty, who picks up trash every day. ((NATS/Amy and Patty: Hey, Patty. Hi, Amy. How are you? Oh my gosh! Look at all of that! I know. It's sad, isn't it? Wow! Where have you gone? Just from our house around the block and this far. I haven't even made it to the other side of Church Street yet. Oh my gosh! Isn’t that amazing? Oh, that's awful. I know. Oh, I'm so glad you're doing that. Thank you. Thank you. All right, see you later. See you later.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) I think walkers just need friendly folk to greet them as they're going. There's one spot that I have gone by a number of times that offers water for dogs, offers first aid kit for walkers and runners. It has cheerful flowers. It has signs greeting you. So that's always encouraging. ((NATS/Amy: Look at that friend. Look at that. Oh, look at that. Hi. That's okay. He's so cute.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) The other thing that happened, sort of mid-pandemic, was I got a diagnosis of osteoporosis. So bone, you know, bone density challenges and my doctor prescribed medicine. And I just felt I was too young to be having this. And I said, what could I do other than taking the medicine? She said, “Well, you have to walk. You have to run. You have to dance. You have to play tennis. You have to eat differently.” And so the walking is really part of trying to keep healthy and to build bone strength. ((NATS/Amy: Let's see what's here. Let's see what's here. Guitar for Dummies. That's just what I need. Oh, my goodness.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) I can clear my mind from work and I feel healthy and I've also gotten to know the town and neighborhoods I've never visited before. ((NATS/Amy: You want to come up here? Let's go. Let's try this. I don't know if you'll like this. Do you want to come up here? Try it. Come on, Lucky. Ha, what a good boy! What a good boy! That’s too scary? No? Let's go down. Let's go down. Oh, okay Lucky. I’m sorry. Is that too scary? A little scary? Okay, let’s go.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) The time capsule is 1990 to 2040, bequeathed by the citizens of Vienna. I have been here so many times. I've never read that sign or seen that. Wow, that's interesting. Come on. ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) In my work with students as a teacher, I have read how important it is to get outside for children and how important natural light is for learning and for mental health. And I think it's true for everyone. I think to connect with nature is something that I have, I really re-discovered as I was out walking. ((NATS/Amy: Wow, this is lavender, I think. Umm. Lucky, do you like lavender?)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) It always gets me into a positive mood. I think that I could go out feeling quite low and I would always come back feeling as if I'd accomplished something and felt as if I were in a better mood than when I had started initially. ((NATS/Amy: And I wanted to end up at the “Welcome to the Town of Vienna” sign. And I found myself quite emotional and I felt as if I had discovered so much about it and I felt a part of it. And then the other thing I recognized was how important my relationship with Lucky is. And he and I have spent so much time together.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) You know, my husband and I didn't need to negotiate who was going to take the dog out. I mean, if it was raining we'd go out. If it was cold we'd go out. We were going out and we were going to go out and discover Vienna and we were going to do it together. And I think Lucky was just as happy as I was. ((NATS/Amy: Stay.)) ((NATS))

The Joys of Cycling

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((PKG)) BIKE SHOP  ((TRT: 02:08)) ((Topic Banner: The Joy of Cycling)) ((Reporter: Mike O’Sullivan)) ((Producer/Editor: Elizabeth Lee)) ((Camera: Roy Kim)) ((Drone Camera: M. Howard)) ((Map: Los Angeles, California))   ((Main character: 1 female)) ((NATS: I’m going to do like some solar power.)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) Before the pandemic I was a single mom, ((Courtesy: Kellie Hart)) a new mom. I was also doing like Uber driving and Postmates [delivery], just little odds and ends, just jobs, just to keep myself afloat. ((NATS)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) Once the pandemic hit, I couldn't work out anymore. So we wanted to pull our bikes out. I pulled mine out. It was a little rusty just because I'd had a kid and I just hadn't ridden for a long time. But I pulled it out, got it repaired and started riding and I fell in love all over again. ((NATS: Lights on. Lights on.)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) And then my friends wanted to come and I'm like “Come on, let's go, let's go!” And more people came, more people came. And then I looked up and I had 100 people behind me on a Tuesday night. In the beginning right around the time we started riding, I noticed that a lot of people who wanted to come ride with us didn't have bikes. They wanted to, you know, they wanted to know, “How do I get a bike? How do I get a bike?” And so I found a place that had bikes and I took my savings and I bought three of them. And I posted on my social media that I had bikes for sale and they sold immediately. ((NATS)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) And the whole time I knew I needed to shop. I just wanted to purchase the best one and I wanted it to be the perfect shop. Two years later, here we are back with the bike shop, with a thriving bike shop and back at this lot where I wanted to open a carwash two years ago. So it's just kind of come full circle and I'm forever grateful. ((NATS)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) Cycling has always been a great sport but through the pandemic, it has picked up. People have realized what a great sport or activity it is. The appeal is the freedom, the exercise, the fun, all at one time. ((NATS: Overland to Venice.)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) When I'm on my bike, I forget I'm exercising. When I'm with 100 of my friends following me on a regular ride, I forget I'm exercising. And it's just fun and we're on a bike. Everyone pretty much knows how to do it. And, you know, it's just one thing we have in common that will bring us all together. ((NATS))

Nigeria's Online Vendors Count Losses After Long Twitter Ban 

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Online computer dealer Mohammed Maitano has nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter and says he normally makes around $4,500 every month from sales of his computers and other office accessories. He says that being blocked on Twitter for months was a big setback. "Seventy-five percent of my business income comes from Twitter," Maitano said. "Banning Twitter was one of the catastrophes that happened to us online vendors, actually. We lost a huge amount of investments and profits during this time. We suffered a lot." Nigerian authorities lifted a seven-month ban on Twitter last week. The ban was imposed June, barely 24 hours after Twitter deleted a message from President Muhammadu Buhari to separatist groups that referred to Nigeria’s 1960s civil war, in which an estimated 1 million people were killed. In imposing the ban, authorities blamed Twitter for promoting comments that could incite public unrest in Nigeria. This week, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce said the ban cost Nigeria about $26.1 billion. Victoria Akai, the director general of the Abuja chapter of the Nigeria Chamber of Commerce, agrees. "A lot of Nigerians do businesses on Twitter and they make a lot of income, and this income, some of it is taxable," she said. "So definitely there's a very possible likelihood that Nigeria lost that amount of money from banning Twitter.” Despite the end of the ban, an activist group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, is calling on authorities to compensate citizens like Maitano, who incurred economic losses. The group sued the government this week at the court of regional bloc ECOWAS in Abuja. Kolawole Olawale, the group's deputy director general, said, "Our position remains the same: The ban shouldn't have been done in the first place because it is unlawful. Millions of Nigerians have been victims who have lost not only in pecuniary terms but in other terms as well during the period of the ban. We intend to seek compensation for those victims through the court to make sure that there's some form of remediation." Nigeria’s information minister, Lai Mohamed, did not respond to requests from VOA to comment on the lawsuit. The ECOWAS court is scheduled to hear the case on January 31.In the meantime, many vendors like Maitano have resumed their online marketing and will be trying to recover lost revenue.

Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandate for US Federal Workers 

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A federal judge on Friday issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting the enforcement of U.S. President Joe Biden’s requirement that federal workers be vaccinated.  Biden announced the mandate, which required 3.5 million federal workers to be vaccinated or ask for a medical or religious exemption, in September. There was no option to be regularly tested instead.  When the mandate went into effect in November, the White House said 95% of federal workers had either been vaccinated or applied for medical or religious exemptions.  Those not conforming to the mandate could lose their jobs.  Judge Jeffrey Brown of Texas, writing in the injunction, questioned if a president “can, with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress, require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment.” He called the mandate a “bridge too far,” citing a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down a mandate on private employers.  Earlier this month, the Supreme Court struck down the Biden vaccine mandate requiring companies with more than 100 workers to be fully vaccinated. The court allowed a mandate requiring certain healthcare workers to be vaccinated.  Brown said public health could be adequately protected using masks and social distancing.  The plaintiff in the suit is a group called Feds for Medical Freedom. The U.S. Department of Justice said it will appeal the injunction.  COVID-19 has killed more than 861,000 Americans.  Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.       

A Cleaner Bitcoin

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((PKG)) SUSTAINABLE BITCOIN MINING  ((TRT: 7:02)) ((Topic Banner: A Cleaner Bitcoin)) ((Reporter/Camera: Aaron Fedor)) ((Producer: Kathleen McLaughlin)) ((Editor: Kyle Dubiel)) ((Map: Niagara Falls, New York))   ((Main character: 1 male)) ((MUSIC/NATS))  ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) So this is our facility here in Niagara Falls, New York. We're converting this facility from what was an industrial building to a data center to mine Bitcoin. ((MUSIC)) ((Text-on-video:  Creating or “mining” the digital currency Bitcoin relies on computers to solve a complex mathematical problem. The massive amount of electricity to run the computers often comes from non-renewable sources. While many believe digital currency will become increasingly important, others ask: at what price to the environment?)) ((MUSIC)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) Well, at the time this factory was being used to actually strip down for scrap metal. Prior to that this was actually a power generation plant where they were using coal and fossil fuels to generate, unfortunately, dirty power at the time. ((NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) Blockfusion is a blockchain infrastructure company that uses renewable energy. ((NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) At the facility we actually mine Bitcoin. So traditionally people would think about mining Bitcoin or, you know, like mining a resource, right? Very expensive equipment. Guys with hard hats underneath the earth trying to actually get resources. In this particular case, we're mining Bitcoin and while we are leveraging expensive hardware to do so, the resource is really about how quickly you can actually solve a particular algorithm, mathematic equation, on the blockchain to be able to go and obtain one Bitcoin. ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) And now I'm going to take you into our Bitcoin mining facility where you'll see the hardware actually processing and mining for Bitcoin. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) This is our control room just before you actually go into the mining facility itself. So I'm about to put some headphones on just because it's extremely loud in the mining facility. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) So I'm going to show you the miners themselves. These are not individuals mining. You'll see the actual computers themselves. And then I'll take you into the exhaust room. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) You'll see, we'll be in the hot and the cold aisles. So the hot aisle where it expels all the hot air and the cold aisle which actually has the cold air go through the actual computers themselves and the fans that actually expel the exhaust. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) One of the things that I wanted to talk about was each one of these computers do not work individually. They actually work together. They pool together the resources and the processing power like a supercomputer to be able to do the algorithms to actually be able to mine one Bitcoin. The total miners that we have here at the facility is about 2,600. We actually anticipate that by the time we build out the entire facility, we'll be somewhere between 12,500 to 15,000 units. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) So this is the repair facility or one of the repair facilities that we've actually got on the site. So, as you can see, we've got all the latest equipment here. We actually take and repair all of the hardware. The goal here is, is that because of the price of the hardware currently and the time it takes, it could take somewhere between nine to 12 months from the time you get the order placed to the latest hardware, that to actually repair the current hardware that we have or the digital's hardware, it allows us to actually go and continue to actually mine on a more real-time basis and mine more Bitcoin sooner. We're actually working with the local schools, both the technical schools as well as the colleges and universities, to actually find folks in computer science who actually want to be in this particular space. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) This facility here in Niagara Falls, we are five miles [8 km] away from the Robert Moses Hydro Plant. Absolutely critical for us when we actually chose this location that if we were going to consume energy, we wanted to make sure that it was renewable. So as we're looking at building this facility out into a data center, that was a critical factor in our decision-making. So the Robert Moses Hydroelectric Plant is the fourth largest hydroelectric plant in America. We are in Zone A. Our property is located in Zone A which is about five miles [8 km] from the actual dam itself and the plant. So we are in an ideal location to actually have most if not all of our energy actually being supplied from that particular plant. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) So behind me here you're seeing just the remnants of what's left over of the actual coal piles that were at this facility prior to us actually environmentally cleaning this and taking this and remediating this particular property. So you'll see right behind me is the substation for the property. So this is where they're taking the power from the high voltage lines and we're switching it down and stepping it down to be able to be consumable energy for the miners themselves. So behind me here are cooling towers that were actually used. These are actually filled with water or rainwater and actually then pumps in to go and cool the facility. The team here is currently constructing our next data center pod. So this will house about 2,250 more miners within the next 30 days. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) One of the things that we do at the facility, especially when there's actually peak usage for power within the particular region, is we're enrolled in what's called demand response. So that's where, if the grid themselves require more power back, we'll actually shut down our operations or curtail it back to actually provide that power back to the local community as required. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) If we think about blockchain and this particular industry, this is the industry of the future. ((MUSIC/NATS))  

Forensic Forestry

3 days ago

((PKG)) FORENSIC FORESTRY   ((TRT: 5:08)) ((Topic Banner: Forensic Forestry))  ((Reporter/Camera: Jeff Swicord)) ((Map: Keedysville, Maryland))  ((Main character: 1 male))   ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) When I’m in the woods I am looking for signs that I know that are there. I can see the way the trees are growing. It tells me something. It’s almost like forensic forestry. You’re going out and you’re looking for signs that are telling you things about what’s happened there in the past. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) Got a master’s in forestry. I’ve worked 30, about 33 years with the University of Maryland Extension doing education and outreach with woodland owners. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) This is kind of interesting in terms of the natural development of these woods here. So all this land was cleared at one time and was abandoned. And basically it started to, you know, to regrow back. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) It starts out with grasses and things like that and then the woody species come in. And the trees that first come in are those that are totally intolerant. In other words, they are intolerant of shade. They require full sunlight. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) And that’s what you see here. This is the remnants of all the locust trees, black locust trees. So they kind of died out. So what you’re looking at is the earlier trees that have basically fallen to the ground. And those later successional species of like hickory and oak and things like that have now, you know, taken over and that’s what you see in this forest now. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) So why is it so important to make sure that forests are doing okay and what are their value? Well, of course, many of these have come out recently because of the big focus on climate change. You know, the fact that forests turn carbon, you know, dioxide into oxygen. They protect water quality by reducing erosion. They provide habitat for wildlife. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) This is a little cleared area down here and all the duff has churned up probably from turkey or deer who are looking around for acorns and nuts to eat for the, you know, buff up for the winter. You can see little pieces of acorn. So this is probably more just marking territory. And the deer and both turkeys will do that as well. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) What is a healthy forest? If there is something we can do to control some of the invasives that are really affecting the woods, that’s a good thing. A lot of things like grape vines and things like that are really affecting the canopy of their dominant trees. And they produce native grapes which are eaten by birds and turkeys. They have a lot of wildlife value but they also can cause a lot of the damage to trees. So, you know, one thing working with landowners is to have a compromise between having some grapevines but for those trees that you really want to be, you know, dominant in your forest that you typically would just cut these off at the ground and, you know, stop them from causing a lot of damage to the, to your main trees. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) Most people are managing for things that directly affects them. They’re interested in wildlife, in conservation. Deer are overabundant at this point. They basically had a large impact on the biodiversity of the forest throughout most of the eastern United States. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) So this is a trail cam [camera]. This is here by one of the hunters here on the property. We really encourage hunting of deer. They tend to eat a lot of the natives first, which is another reason why we have so many problems with invasive species. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) And a lot of the programing we do is by working with private landowners and going to their property so they can demonstrate that to others. And we train volunteers as well, called the program called Maryland Woodland Stewards. And at the end of the day, what makes me happy I guess is to see that they’ve done some good management on their property. ((NATS/MUSIC))

Sustainable Lifestyle (VOA Connect Ep 210)

3 days ago

VOA – CONNECT EPISODE # 210 AIR DATE: 01 21 2022 TRANSCRIPT   OPEN ((VO/NAT)) ((Banner)) Sustainable Currency ((SOT)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) This is our facility here in Niagara Falls, New York. We're converting this facility from what was an industrial building to a data center to mine Bitcoin. ((Animation Transition)) ((Banner)) Healthier Forests ((SOT)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) So all this land was cleared at one time and was abandoned. And basically, it started to, you know, to regrow back. ((Animation Transition)) ((Banner)) Exploring the Neighborhood ((SOT)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) My goodness. I can clear my mind from work and I feel healthy and I've also gotten to know the town and neighborhoods I've never visited before. ((Open Animation)) BLOCK A ((PKG)) SUSTAINABLE BITCOIN MINING  ((TRT: 7:02)) ((Topic Banner: A Cleaner Bitcoin)) ((Reporter/Camera: Aaron Fedor)) ((Producer: Kathleen McLaughlin)) ((Editor: Kyle Dubiel)) ((Map: Niagara Falls, New York))   ((Main character: 1 male)) ((MUSIC/NATS))  ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) So this is our facility here in Niagara Falls, New York. We're converting this facility from what was an industrial building to a data center to mine Bitcoin. ((MUSIC)) ((Text-on-video:  Creating or “mining” the digital currency Bitcoin relies on computers to solve a complex mathematical problem. The massive amount of electricity to run the computers often comes from non-renewable sources. While many believe digital currency will become increasingly important, others ask: at what price to the environment?)) ((MUSIC)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) Well, at the time this factory was being used to actually strip down for scrap metal. Prior to that this was actually a power generation plant where they were using coal and fossil fuels to generate, unfortunately, dirty power at the time. ((NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) Blockfusion is a blockchain infrastructure company that uses renewable energy. ((NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) At the facility we actually mine Bitcoin. So traditionally people would think about mining Bitcoin or, you know, like mining a resource, right? Very expensive equipment. Guys with hard hats underneath the earth trying to actually get resources. In this particular case, we're mining Bitcoin and while we are leveraging expensive hardware to do so, the resource is really about how quickly you can actually solve a particular algorithm, mathematic equation, on the blockchain to be able to go and obtain one Bitcoin. ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) And now I'm going to take you into our Bitcoin mining facility where you'll see the hardware actually processing and mining for Bitcoin. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) This is our control room just before you actually go into the mining facility itself. So I'm about to put some headphones on just because it's extremely loud in the mining facility. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) So I'm going to show you the miners themselves. These are not individuals mining. You'll see the actual computers themselves. And then I'll take you into the exhaust room. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) You'll see, we'll be in the hot and the cold aisles. So the hot aisle where it expels all the hot air and the cold aisle which actually has the cold air go through the actual computers themselves and the fans that actually expel the exhaust. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) One of the things that I wanted to talk about was each one of these computers do not work individually. They actually work together. They pool together the resources and the processing power like a supercomputer to be able to do the algorithms to actually be able to mine one Bitcoin. The total miners that we have here at the facility is about 2,600. We actually anticipate that by the time we build out the entire facility, we'll be somewhere between 12,500 to 15,000 units. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) So this is the repair facility or one of the repair facilities that we've actually got on the site. So, as you can see, we've got all the latest equipment here. We actually take and repair all of the hardware. The goal here is, is that because of the price of the hardware currently and the time it takes, it could take somewhere between nine to 12 months from the time you get the order placed to the latest hardware, that to actually repair the current hardware that we have or the digital's hardware, it allows us to actually go and continue to actually mine on a more real-time basis and mine more Bitcoin sooner. We're actually working with the local schools, both the technical schools as well as the colleges and universities, to actually find folks in computer science who actually want to be in this particular space. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) This facility here in Niagara Falls, we are five miles [8 km] away from the Robert Moses Hydro Plant. Absolutely critical for us when we actually chose this location that if we were going to consume energy, we wanted to make sure that it was renewable. So as we're looking at building this facility out into a data center, that was a critical factor in our decision-making. So the Robert Moses Hydroelectric Plant is the fourth largest hydroelectric plant in America. We are in Zone A. Our property is located in Zone A which is about five miles [8 km] from the actual dam itself and the plant. So we are in an ideal location to actually have most if not all of our energy actually being supplied from that particular plant. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) So behind me here you're seeing just the remnants of what's left over of the actual coal piles that were at this facility prior to us actually environmentally cleaning this and taking this and remediating this particular property. So you'll see right behind me is the substation for the property. So this is where they're taking the power from the high voltage lines and we're switching it down and stepping it down to be able to be consumable energy for the miners themselves. So behind me here are cooling towers that were actually used. These are actually filled with water or rainwater and actually then pumps in to go and cool the facility. The team here is currently constructing our next data center pod. So this will house about 2,250 more miners within the next 30 days. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) One of the things that we do at the facility, especially when there's actually peak usage for power within the particular region, is we're enrolled in what's called demand response. So that's where, if the grid themselves require more power back, we'll actually shut down our operations or curtail it back to actually provide that power back to the local community as required. ((MUSIC/NATS)) ((Kant Trivedi Blockfusion USA, COO)) If we think about blockchain and this particular industry, this is the industry of the future. ((MUSIC/NATS)) TEASE ((VO/NAT)) Coming up ((Banner)) Into the Woods ((SOT)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) Deer are overabundant at this point. They basically had a large impact on the biodiversity of the forest throughout most of the eastern United States. BREAK ONE                                                                   BUMP IN ((ANIM))                 BLOCK B  ((PKG)) FORENSIC FORESTRY   ((TRT: 5:08)) ((Topic Banner: Forensic Forestry))  ((Reporter/Camera: Jeff Swicord)) ((Map: Keedysville, Maryland))  ((Main character: 1 male))   ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) When I’m in the woods I am looking for signs that I know that are there. I can see the way the trees are growing. It tells me something. It’s almost like forensic forestry. You’re going out and you’re looking for signs that are telling you things about what’s happened there in the past. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) Got a master’s in forestry. I’ve worked 30, about 33 years with the University of Maryland Extension doing education and outreach with woodland owners. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) This is kind of interesting in terms of the natural development of these woods here. So all this land was cleared at one time and was abandoned. And basically it started to, you know, to regrow back. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) It starts out with grasses and things like that and then the woody species come in. And the trees that first come in are those that are totally intolerant. In other words, they are intolerant of shade. They require full sunlight. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) And that’s what you see here. This is the remnants of all the locust trees, black locust trees. So they kind of died out. So what you’re looking at is the earlier trees that have basically fallen to the ground. And those later successional species of like hickory and oak and things like that have now, you know, taken over and that’s what you see in this forest now. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) So why is it so important to make sure that forests are doing okay and what are their value? Well, of course, many of these have come out recently because of the big focus on climate change. You know, the fact that forests turn carbon, you know, dioxide into oxygen. They protect water quality by reducing erosion. They provide habitat for wildlife. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) This is a little cleared area down here and all the duff has churned up probably from turkey or deer who are looking around for acorns and nuts to eat for the, you know, buff up for the winter. You can see little pieces of acorn. So this is probably more just marking territory. And the deer and both turkeys will do that as well. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) What is a healthy forest? If there is something we can do to control some of the invasives that are really affecting the woods, that’s a good thing. A lot of things like grape vines and things like that are really affecting the canopy of their dominant trees. And they produce native grapes which are eaten by birds and turkeys. They have a lot of wildlife value but they also can cause a lot of the damage to trees. So, you know, one thing working with landowners is to have a compromise between having some grapevines but for those trees that you really want to be, you know, dominant in your forest that you typically would just cut these off at the ground and, you know, stop them from causing a lot of damage to the, to your main trees. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) Most people are managing for things that directly affects them. They’re interested in wildlife, in conservation. Deer are overabundant at this point. They basically had a large impact on the biodiversity of the forest throughout most of the eastern United States. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) So this is a trail cam [camera]. This is here by one of the hunters here on the property. We really encourage hunting of deer. They tend to eat a lot of the natives first, which is another reason why we have so many problems with invasive species. ((NATS/MUSIC)) ((Jonathan S. Kays Forestry Extension Specialist, University of Maryland)) And a lot of the programing we do is by working with private landowners and going to their property so they can demonstrate that to others. And we train volunteers as well, called the program called Maryland Woodland Stewards. And at the end of the day, what makes me happy I guess is to see that they’ve done some good management on their property. ((NATS/MUSIC)) TEASE ((VO/NAT)) Coming up ((Banner)) Strolling the Neighborhood ((SOT)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) I think walkers just need friendly folk to greet them as they're going. There's one spot that I have gone by a number of times that offers water for dogs, offers first aid kit for walkers and runners. It has cheerful flowers. It has signs greeting you. So, that's always encouraging. BREAK TWO                                                                  BUMP IN ((ANIM))                  BLOCK C ((PKG)) WALKING LUCKY  ((TRT: 07:15)) ((Topic Banner: The Joy of Walking)) ((Reporter: Faiza Elmasry)) ((Camera/Editor: June Soh)) ((Map:  Vienna, Virginia)) ((Main character: 1 female)) ((Sub character: 1 male)) ((NATS/Amy: You want to go for a walk? Okay, just a minute. Okay.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) My name is Amy Jones and I'm a retired teacher and have lived here in Vienna for 22 years which seems like a long time. ((NATS/Amy: Lucky, Lucky. Come here. Come here. Come on. Stand up. Stand up.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) This is Lucky. He's six. He's part of the family. ((NATS/Amy: Come on. Oh, what a good kitty! Here you are. I don't know where the other one is.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) And I live here with my husband and two cats. ((NATS/Nathanial: Sit. Look at me. Go!)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) Lucky is a great companion. He's super friendly. He loves everybody. He's a terrible guard dog. ((NATS)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) During the pandemic, I've gotten into some new habits. So I've been working at home and I try to take two breaks during the day. So I go out and I do a quick walk around the neighborhood just to get a change of scenery. ((NATS/Amy: Come on pup. Here you go.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) But in the afternoons, Lucky and I’d go really consistently at 4:00, 4:30 after work is over, after school is over. And we have been going on some longer and longer walks. And I got thinking that I should really explore Vienna. So I went to the town hall which is just up the street and I asked if they had a map. And they gave me a big map of Vienna with all the streets. And I decided that Lucky and I were going to walk every street in the town so I could kind of get to know it. ((NATS/Amy: Oh boy, this might be slippery. I don't know, you want to try it, Lucky? You want to try it?)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) One of the things that struck me most about our town is how many, how much access there is to nature within neighborhoods. So you get to the end of a neighborhood or a cul-de-sac and often there would be little trails that would go off from the end of the cul-de-sac and it would end up down by a little stream. And then there would be paths and walking trails at the end of these and I had no idea. ((NATS/Amy: Come on pup. Come on. Ah, look. There’s a friend.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) I really enjoyed getting to know my neighbors. I saw them much more frequently than I would had I not been out walking regularly. So I have a neighbor down the street, Patty, who picks up trash every day. ((NATS/Amy and Patty: Hey, Patty. Hi, Amy. How are you? Oh my gosh! Look at all of that! I know. It's sad, isn't it? Wow! Where have you gone? Just from our house around the block and this far. I haven't even made it to the other side of Church Street yet. Oh my gosh! Isn’t that amazing? Oh, that's awful. I know. Oh, I'm so glad you're doing that. Thank you. Thank you. All right, see you later. See you later.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) I think walkers just need friendly folk to greet them as they're going. There's one spot that I have gone by a number of times that offers water for dogs, offers first aid kit for walkers and runners. It has cheerful flowers. It has signs greeting you. So that's always encouraging. ((NATS/Amy: Look at that friend. Look at that. Oh, look at that. Hi. That's okay. He's so cute.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) The other thing that happened, sort of mid-pandemic, was I got a diagnosis of osteoporosis. So bone, you know, bone density challenges and my doctor prescribed medicine. And I just felt I was too young to be having this. And I said, what could I do other than taking the medicine? She said, “Well, you have to walk. You have to run. You have to dance. You have to play tennis. You have to eat differently.” And so the walking is really part of trying to keep healthy and to build bone strength. ((NATS/Amy: Let's see what's here. Let's see what's here. Guitar for Dummies. That's just what I need. Oh, my goodness.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) I can clear my mind from work and I feel healthy and I've also gotten to know the town and neighborhoods I've never visited before. ((NATS/Amy: You want to come up here? Let's go. Let's try this. I don't know if you'll like this. Do you want to come up here? Try it. Come on, Lucky. Ha, what a good boy! What a good boy! That’s too scary? No? Let's go down. Let's go down. Oh, okay Lucky. I’m sorry. Is that too scary? A little scary? Okay, let’s go.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) The time capsule is 1990 to 2040, bequeathed by the citizens of Vienna. I have been here so many times. I've never read that sign or seen that. Wow, that's interesting. Come on. ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) In my work with students as a teacher, I have read how important it is to get outside for children and how important natural light is for learning and for mental health. And I think it's true for everyone. I think to connect with nature is something that I have, I really re-discovered as I was out walking. ((NATS/Amy: Wow, this is lavender, I think. Umm. Lucky, do you like lavender?)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) It always gets me into a positive mood. I think that I could go out feeling quite low and I would always come back feeling as if I'd accomplished something and felt as if I were in a better mood than when I had started initially. ((NATS/Amy: And I wanted to end up at the “Welcome to the Town of Vienna” sign. And I found myself quite emotional and I felt as if I had discovered so much about it and I felt a part of it. And then the other thing I recognized was how important my relationship with Lucky is. And he and I have spent so much time together.)) ((Amy Jones Vienna Resident)) You know, my husband and I didn't need to negotiate who was going to take the dog out. I mean, if it was raining we'd go out. If it was cold we'd go out. We were going out and we were going to go out and discover Vienna and we were going to do it together. And I think Lucky was just as happy as I was. ((NATS/Amy: Stay.)) ((NATS)) ((PKG)) BIKE SHOP  ((TRT: 02:08)) ((Topic Banner: The Joy of Cycling)) ((Reporter: Mike O’Sullivan)) ((Producer/Editor: Elizabeth Lee)) ((Camera: Roy Kim)) ((Drone Camera: M. Howard)) ((Map: Los Angeles, California))   ((Main character: 1 female)) ((NATS: I’m going to do like some solar power.)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) Before the pandemic I was a single mom, ((Courtesy: Kellie Hart)) a new mom. I was also doing like Uber driving and Postmates [delivery], just little odds and ends, just jobs, just to keep myself afloat. ((NATS)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) Once the pandemic hit, I couldn't work out anymore. So we wanted to pull our bikes out. I pulled mine out. It was a little rusty just because I'd had a kid and I just hadn't ridden for a long time. But I pulled it out, got it repaired and started riding and I fell in love all over again. ((NATS: Lights on. Lights on.)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) And then my friends wanted to come and I'm like “Come on, let's go, let's go!” And more people came, more people came. And then I looked up and I had 100 people behind me on a Tuesday night. In the beginning right around the time we started riding, I noticed that a lot of people who wanted to come ride with us didn't have bikes. They wanted to, you know, they wanted to know, “How do I get a bike? How do I get a bike?” And so I found a place that had bikes and I took my savings and I bought three of them. And I posted on my social media that I had bikes for sale and they sold immediately. ((NATS)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) And the whole time I knew I needed to shop. I just wanted to purchase the best one and I wanted it to be the perfect shop. Two years later, here we are back with the bike shop, with a thriving bike shop and back at this lot where I wanted to open a carwash two years ago. So it's just kind of come full circle and I'm forever grateful. ((NATS)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) Cycling has always been a great sport but through the pandemic, it has picked up. People have realized what a great sport or activity it is. The appeal is the freedom, the exercise, the fun, all at one time. ((NATS: Overland to Venice.)) ((Kellie Hart Bike Store Owner)) When I'm on my bike, I forget I'm exercising. When I'm with 100 of my friends following me on a regular ride, I forget I'm exercising. And it's just fun and we're on a bike. Everyone pretty much knows how to do it. And, you know, it's just one thing we have in common that will bring us all together. ((NATS)) CLOSING BUMPER ((ANIM)) voanews.com/connect BREAK THREE                                                                      BUMP IN ((ANIM))                     SHOW ENDS    

Biden Admin Unveils Changes to Attract Foreign STEM Students

3 days ago

The Biden administration on Friday announced policy changes to attract international students specializing in science, technology, engineering and math — part of the broader effort to make the U.S. economy more competitive. The State Department will let eligible visiting students in those fields, known as STEM, complete up to 36 months of academic training, according to senior administration officials. There will also be a new initiative to connect these students with U.S. businesses. The officials insisted on anonymity to discuss the changes before their official announcement. Homeland Security will add 22 new fields of study — including cloud computing, data visualization and data science — to a program that allows international graduates from U.S. universities to spend up to three additional years training with domestic employers. The program generated about 58,000 applications in fiscal 2020. The programs are designed to ensure that the U.S. is a magnet for talent from around the world, attracting scientists and researchers whose breakthroughs will enable the economy to grow. Government data shows that international students are increasingly the lifeblood of academic research. The government's National Science Board reported this week that international students on temporary visas account for more than half of U.S. doctoral degrees in economics, computer sciences, engineering and mathematics and statistics. But in the sciences and engineering, China is fast closing the gap in doctoral degrees by generating nearly as many graduates as the U.S. did in 2018.

Why 30 out of 32 NFL head coaches are white -- behind the NFL's abysmal record on diversity

3 days ago

Vesuvius will erupt again—but not for a few hundred years

by Peter Rüegg-ETH Zurich, 3 days ago

Mount Vesuvius last had a violent eruption in 1944. When will it erupt again? New research suggests it could be a few hundred years.

French Oil Company TotalEnergies Leaves Myanmar

3 days ago

French Oil Company TotalEnergies and U.S. oil company Chevron have announced they are pulling out of a major joint gas project in Myanmar, citing the February coup. In February, Myanmar's military junta seized power, arresting civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her government. Since then, local and international rights groups say security forces have killed more than 1,400 people and arrested thousands.   In a statement on its website, TotalEnergies said that while it has condemned the February coup from the start and halted all new projects in the country, it and partner Chevron continued to produce gas from the Yadana field, which is essential to supplying electricity to local citizens and to protect its employees from the risk of criminal prosecution or forced labor. But, the statement said, the situation in the country “in terms of human rights and more generally the rule of law … have kept worsening” and “no longer allows TotalEnergies to make a sufficiently positive contribution in the country.” The statement said the company will continue operating until its contract expires in six months. In its own statement, Chevron, a minority partner in the project, said, "In light of circumstances in Myanmar, we have reviewed our interest in the Yadana natural gas project to enable a planned and orderly transition that will lead to an exit from the country.” TotalEnergies and Chevron, along with other firms, were part of a joint venture operating the Yadana gas project off Myanmar's southwest coast, and the MGTC transportation system carrying gas from the field to the Myanmar-Thailand border. They have now become the latest Western companies to decide to pull out in the wake of the coup.     Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

UN Chief: ‘Avalanche of Action’ Needed to Stem Global Crises

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Friday that the world is facing “a five-alarm fire” that requires urgent and united global action to be extinguished. “I want to begin the year by raising five alarms -- on COVID-19, global finance, climate action, lawlessness in cyber space, and peace and security,” he told the U.N. General Assembly in a wide-ranging speech laying out his top priorities for 2022. On the coronavirus pandemic, he said the international community must go into “emergency mode” particularly in ramping up global vaccinations. “Manufacturers worldwide are now producing 1.5 billion doses per month,” he noted. “But the distribution is scandalously unequal – and we need to convert vaccines into vaccinations everywhere.” Vaccinating the world  The World Health Organization said last week that 90% of countries did not meet the goal of vaccinating 40% of their population by the end of 2021. In Africa alone, about one billion people have not yet received a single vaccine dose. The United Nations chief urged countries and producers of the vaccine to prioritize supplying COVAX, the global vaccine coalition, which is supplying developing nations. COVAX has delivered one billion doses worldwide so far. Guterres had strong words for the international financial system, which he said is in dire need of comprehensive reform. “Let’s tell it like it is: the global financial system is morally bankrupt,” the world’s top diplomat said. “It favors the rich and punishes the poor.” He said it has particularly failed developing countries in one of its main functions – ensuring stability and supporting economies through financial shocks, such as those caused by the pandemic. “Unless we take action now, record inflation, soaring energy prices and extortionate interest rates could lead to frequent debt defaults in 2022, with dire consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable,” he warned. “The divergence between developed and developing countries is becoming systemic – a recipe for instability, crisis and forced migration.” Call for climate action The U.N. chief has been a leader in the global movement for climate action and he reiterated his concern that the planet is “far off-track” to meet minimum targets for reducing global warming. “This year, we need an avalanche of action,” he said. “All major-emitting developed and developing economies must do much more, much faster, to change the math and reduce the suffering – taking into account common but differentiated responsibilities.” He said that includes phasing out the use of coal and ramping up the transition to renewable energy, including investing $5 trillion annually in renewable infrastructure by 2030. It also means rich countries increasing their financial commitments to adaptation measures in poorer countries. The secretary-general said those three challenges – the pandemic, the global financial system and the climate crisis amplify social problems. “They undermine human rights and are a powder keg for social unrest and instability,” he said. The secretary-general also called for better management of digital technologies, including “strong regulatory frameworks” and getting internet connections for the nearly 3 billion people who do not have them. Push for global stability Guterres said conflict prevention is at the heart of his agenda. “I pledge to spare no effort to mobilize the international community – and step up our push for peace,” Guterres said, as he ticked off conflicts and crises from Afghanistan to Ethiopia to Myanmar and Mali. “Geo-political divides must be managed to avoid chaos around the globe,” he urged. “We need to maximize areas for cooperation while establishing robust mechanisms to avoid escalation.” He said the United Nations needs a more united Security Council to tackle issues of international peace and security, as well as the financial and moral support of all 193 member states. “Now is not the time to simply list and lament challenges,” he conceded. “Now is the time to act.”

Medical Advancements in COVID

3 days ago

We look at some advancements in medicine during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the expansion of telemedicine. And the World Health Organization says the surge of the Omicron COVID variant appears to be flattening in Africa. Plus, an artist in Nigeria creates prosthetics with darker skin tones.

WHO Recommends Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for 5-11-Year-olds

3 days ago

A World Health Organization ((WHO)) advisory panel Friday recommended extending the use of a smaller dose of the Pfizer - BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11. The recommendation follows a meeting this week by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts ((SAGE)) on immunization to evaluate the company's vaccine. The WHO had previously recommended the vaccine for use in people ages 12 years and older. During a virtual briefing Friday, SAGE Chairman Alejandro Cravioto told reporters the committee said the 5-11 age group should be a low priority for vaccination except for those children with underlying medical conditions who are in the high priority group. The recommended dosage for the younger population is 10 micrograms instead of 30 micrograms. Cravioto said the panel is also recommending that booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine should be administered to adults 4 to 6 months after receiving an original series of shots. He said older adults along with health and other front-line workers should be prioritized for the boosters. U.S. and European health and drug regulators approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for young children and for boosters late last year. Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.   

South Africa's Indigenous People Fight Planned Amazon Headquarters in Court

3 days ago

South Africa's Indigenous Khoi and San people are in court to block construction of the planned African headquarters for online retail giant Amazon. Opponents say the project will ruin a historically significant riverside site in Cape Town and harm the environment.  Closing arguments are being heard Friday.  The site is slated to be developed into a 70,000-square-meter complex that will house Amazon, along with other businesses. City authorities approved construction of the nine-story complex last year.  But some Indigenous Khoi San leaders and community groups are trying to reverse the decision, saying it undermines the city's own heritage and environmental standards.  "We're in a situation where a terrain that is so sacred to the people of our country is not just under threat, but being damaged and destroyed as we speak," said Tauriq Jenkins, high commissioner of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council, which is among the groups fighting the project. Construction has already begun at the site, which is currently occupied by a restaurant and golf course.  Property owners Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, or LLPT, said it did consult Indigenous groups while planning the site's redevelopment.  In a statement, company spokesperson James Tannenberger said the opposing community group and Indigenous council led by Jenkins "have been driving a misinformation campaign …after their concerns were validly dismissed by the competent authorities during the comprehensive three-year development approval process."  Other Indigenous leaders have given their approval to the project, Tannenberger added.  He said the new site will also pay tribute to their history by including a museum and memorial site, along with creating low-income housing and jobs.  The current divide within the Indigenous community is complex.  The Khoi Khoi and San were some of the country's first inhabitants and their presence in the southern tip of Africa dates back thousands of years.  Their lands were lost to colonial settlements in the 1600s.  "They're enslaved, they're oppressed, they're exploited," said June Bam-Hutchison, a researcher with the Center for African Studies at the University of Cape Town. "Their language was also taken away, their culture was taken away, their knowledge systems that sort of helped us in so many ways to build a more peaceful and healthier society, that has also taken away."  She said their unique cultural identity was only acknowledged by South Africa in more recent decades.  "Today, they are now being recognized. That took some time. The land question remains very much unresolved, highly disputed," she added.  The riverside development is contentious because of the site's history.  The Khoi San say it lies on a battlefield where they defended their territory from Portuguese colonizers in 1510.  Jenkins said losing the case would set a dangerous precedent for giving up historic sites to corporate interests.  Amazon, which does not own the site but will be leasing the space once constructed,declined to comment.   

Pope Benedict accused of mishandling sex abuse cases: 4 essential reads

3 days ago

Drug treats Parkinson's, then makes it worse

by Pat Harriman-UC Irvine, 3 days ago

A new study clarifies how L-dopa, the front-line drug for Parkinson's disease, also contributes to the rapid decline in quality of life over time.

Reports: FBI Searches Home of Prominent Texas Democratic Congressman Cuellar

3 days ago

FBI agents on Wednesday searched the home in Texas of prominent Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar, media reported, with the bureau confirming it had conducted "court-authorized law enforcement activity" in the area.  Cuellar said in a statement he "will fully cooperate in any investigation. He is committed to ensuring that justice and the law are upheld."  His office did not answer questions about the reason for the search.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was present in the "vicinity of Windridge Drive and Estate Drive in Laredo conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity. The FBI cannot provide further comment on an ongoing investigation." Texas news site myrgv.com reported that more than a dozen agents visited Cuellar's home in Laredo, near the Mexican border, and were seen taking "cases and other items" from his home.  Reporter Valerie Gonzalez posted a photo on Twitter of two men in FBI T-shirts approaching a salmon-colored house on a tree-lined street. Gonzalez said agents had also visited Cuellar's campaign office Wednesday afternoon.  Cuellar, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives, represents a Texas district that hugs the banks of the Rio Grande River, just opposite Mexico. He is facing a primary challenge from Jessica Cisneros, an immigration attorney. 

Expert: ARPA could better fight racial wealth inequality

by George Vlahakis-Indiana, 3 days ago

The American Rescue Plan Act could do more to tackle racial wealth inequality, argues professor Goldburn P. Maynard Jr.

Artistic Expression at Sea > U.S. Department of Defense > Story

by Press Operations, 3 days ago

Sailors assigned to the USS Carl Vinson had the opportunity to show their true colors during a recent paint night aboard the aircraft carrier as it traveled in the Sulu Sea.

'Turncoat' drug treats Parkinson's, then makes it worse

by Pat Harriman-UC Irvine, 3 days ago

A new study clarifies how L-dopa, the front-line drug for Parkinson's disease, also contributes to the rapid decline in quality of life over time.


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