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Fighting for disarmament

first_imgAfter researching the devastating humanitarian effects of the deadly cluster munitions used in Afghanistan in 2002, Bonnie Docherty joined a worldwide campaign to eliminate them. Six years after she started her probe, cluster bombs were banned. Her investigation on the use of cluster munitions in Afghanistan, and later in Iraq and Lebanon, was highly influential in a 2008 treaty, which 118 states joined in banning of these weapons.For Docherty, a lecturer on law and a senior instructor at the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, the battle to protect civilians from unnecessary harm continues.Last month, Docherty traveled to Geneva to advocate for stronger regulations on incendiary devices, which she calls “exceptionally cruel weapons” that have been used in Syria, Libya, and Ukraine. Docherty, who is also a senior researcher in the arms division at Human Rights Watch, recently sat down for an interview to talk about these weapons, killer robots, and her guiding principle: to protect civilians from suffering caused by armed conflicts. GAZETTE: Before you became a disarmament advocate, you were a reporter for a local newspaper. Can you tell us about this part of your life?DOCHERTY: After college, I was a reporter for The Middlesex News, now the MetroWest Daily News, outside of Boston, for three years. I covered mostly local news, government meetings, environmental issues, but I had the opportunity to go to Bosnia and embed with the peacekeepers for about 10 days in 1998. There was an Army lab in my town, that’s how I got the invitation to go to Bosnia. I had been interested in armed conflicts, but that trip definitely increased my interest in that field.GAZETTE: How did you make the jump from suburban journalism to human rights and disarmament issues?DOCHERTY: After I left the newsroom, I went to Harvard Law School. Right after graduation, I went to Human Rights Watch, which was a perfect mix of journalism and law because you go out in the field and you apply the law to what you find. My start date was Sept. 12, 2001, by happenstance, so whatever was planned was changed. Six months later, I was in Afghanistan researching the use of cluster munitions, which was my first exposure to disarmament issues.GAZETTE: What are cluster munitions, and why are they so dangerous?DOCHERTY: Cluster munitions are large weapons, such as bombs or rockets that contain dozens or hundreds of small munitions called submunitions. They’re problematic because they have a broad area effect — they spread over the size of a football field — and because many of them don’t explode on impact and lie around like landmines and explode in years or decades to come.GAZETTE: How did your involvement with cluster munitions begin?DOCHERTY: I went to Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and later Georgia to document the use of these weapons. I’ve spoken with dozens of victims of cluster munitions, but the story I remember the most is when I was in Lebanon with two students from Harvard Law’s International Human Rights Clinic in 2006. We were there doing field research after Israel used cluster munitions in Lebanon. We were at a restaurant, and someone asked us to go to the town of Halta immediately. When we arrived, we found out that two hours earlier a 12-year-old boy had been killed by a cluster submunition. He had been playing with his brother, who had been throwing pinecones at him. The boy picked up something to throw back at his brother. It turned out to be a submunition. His friend said, “Oh, no. That’s dangerous, drop it,” and when he went to throw it away, it exploded next to his head. When we were there, they were still cleaning up the pool of blood from his body. The Lebanese army found 10, 12 submunitions lying around right next to a village, waiting to kill or injure civilians, farmers, children.GAZETTE: Your research on cluster munitions led you to become one of the world’s most widely known advocates against these weapons. How did this happen?DOCHERTY: After years of raising awareness about the issue through field research, interviewing victims, witnesses, and military officials, I got actively involved in the campaign to ban them. This led to negotiations that lasted 15 months and ended up in a treaty that absolutely banned cluster munitions, which was adopted in 2008. That was the most rewarding professional experience of my life: to be part of the process from raising awareness to taking part in the campaign to seeing them banned. It was also great that I was able to involve students in all this work. They went on a field mission to Lebanon, saw the treaty negotiation, and helped write advocacy papers that were distributed to diplomats. To share that experience with them was really amazing.GAZETTE: The convention banned the use of these weapons. Are these weapons still being used?DOCHERTY: Unfortunately, they are still being used, but not by the over 100 states that have joined the treaty. Those that have used them are certain countries that have no respect for international law, most notably Syria in recent years. There has been reported use in Ukraine, Yemen, and Libya. That’s something we want to condemn and work to eradicate, but the convention has had an impact on the countries that have joined and increased the stigma against the use of cluster munitions.GAZETTE: Has the United States ever used cluster munitions? What other countries have used them?DOCHERTY: The United States has not joined the treaty, but it has been influenced by the stigma of the treaty, and since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it has only used cluster munitions in Yemen in 2009. After that, the United States has complied with the prohibition on the use of cluster munitions. The other major users are Israel, Russia, and the United Kingdom. The most egregious user is Syria’s Assad regime, which intentionally and recklessly has used these problematic weapons on civilians repeatedly in recent years.GAZETTE: After cluster munitions, you turned your attention to incendiary weapons. What are those?DOCHERTY: I continue to work on the implementation of the treaty on cluster munitions, but over the past few years I’ve been researching the use of incendiary weapons. These are weapons that create fire or injure by burning. The classic incendiary weapon is napalm. In my mind, these weapons are among the cruelest that exist today. They burn people to the bone. And for those who survive, treatment is required, which is likened to being flayed alive because doctors have to slough off the dead skin. The weapons also cause long-term deformities, psychological trauma, and victims have trouble reintegrating into society. While all weapons cause awful harm, these weapons are particularly cruel, to my mind.GAZETTE: I understand you were in Geneva recently to take part in the session on conventional weapons, which include incendiary weapons. What were you doing there?DOCHERTY: I was in Geneva with two students to release a paper on what should be done to strengthen international law on incendiary weapons. There is a treaty that regulates these weapons and was adopted in 1980, but the treaty is rather weak. Its definition doesn’t include all weapons with incendiary effect, most notably white phosphorus, which has been used a lot in recent years. It’s not only a smoke screen. When white phosphorous comes in contact with skin, it can burn you to the bone, and when you take off the bandages, your wounds can reignite. Also, the regulations for ground-launched weapons are weaker than for airdropped ones, and from a victim’s perspective, it doesn’t matter whether a weapon comes from the air or the ground. There is a reason to close these loopholes. An absolute ban would have the greatest humanitarian impact, but we’re calling on states to at least close the loopholes and amend the current treaty to make it stronger.GAZETTE: Where are these weapons being used?DOCHERTY: Again in Syria, which has been the most egregious user in recent years, but Human Rights Watch documented their use in Ukraine, and there have been allegations of use in Libya and Yemen. The Syria example sticks out for me. There is a report that came out recently and includes photos of children completely charred. It’s just unimaginable to comprehend the horror they must have experienced.GAZETTE: Of the weapons you’ve researched, which one is the biggest killer of civilians?DOCHERTY: Perhaps in terms of scale, it’s explosive weapons when they’re used in populated areas. Explosive weapons can be rockets, missiles, bombs, or mortars, anything that explodes. An effort began this year to create a new international political commitment to try to curb the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. We recognize we can’t bring an end to urban warfare. That’s not our goal, but these particularly dangerous weapons should not be used in urban areas.GAZETTE: Your research has focused on governments’ use of these weapons. Did you find non-state armed groups that are using these weapons?DOCHERTY: We documented the use of cluster munitions by Hezbollah. It’s frightening because it shows that these dangerous weapons are getting in the hands of non-state armed groups as well as countries. During the Lebanon-Israel war, I spent a week in Israel with a team of students researching the Hezbollah attacks on populated areas. Ten days later, I was in Lebanon doing research on Israel’s use of cluster munitions, with another team of students. And during the Gaza-Israel conflict in 2006, I researched both sides. The Palestinian rockets launched from Gaza into Israel were handmade and intentionally targeted civilians. The Israelis responded with artillery attacks in towns and villages that killed more civilians than the handmade rockets. We found international law violations on both sides.GAZETTE: If you could compare governments and non-state armed groups, which one violates more international humanitarian law with the use of these weapons?DOCHERTY: I’ve done more research on the use of these weapons by government forces than their use by non-state armed groups. But my research has included Hezbollah, Hamas, and various groups in Gaza. It’s a sign of the proliferation and its dangers, which is one reason why we don’t want these weapons in the wrong hands.GAZETTE: You have said all the work you’ve done falls under humanitarian disarmament. Could you explain what that is?DOCHERTY: Humanitarian disarmament’s goal is to end civilian suffering rather than protecting national security. It began in the 1990s with the Mine Ban Treaty. The Convention on Cluster Munitions was the next big step. Both treaties embody humanitarian disarmament because they seek to eliminate civilian harm caused by problematic weapons. My guiding principle is to try to minimize the effects of armed conflicts as much as possible and protect civilians from the suffering caused by war.GAZETTE: Lately, you’ve begun research on killer robots. Could you tell us what those are and why we should be concerned about them?DOCHERTY: Killer robots are also known as fully autonomous weapons. They don’t exist yet, but they’re in development. A killer robot would be able to identify a target and choose to fire on that target without any meaningful human control. They’ve been described as the third revolution in warfare after gunpowder and nuclear arms. They’re being developed in the United States, Israel, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. They’re a step beyond drones. A drone has a human making the kill decision. With fully autonomous weapons, you’d lose that human intervention. We find that deeply disturbing. And in my mind and in the minds of many others, that’s a threshold that should not be crossed.GAZETTE: What will be the focus of your research in the next few years?DOCHERTY: I’ll continue to work for stronger regulation of incendiary weapons, and also on killer robots, which are now at the top of the international disarmament agenda.The field of humanitarian disarmament can be a slow process, but it can ultimately be successful. When I first went to Afghanistan to research cluster munitions in 2002, it was hard for me to imagine that six years later there’d be an absolute ban with the majority of states having joined in. I’m optimistic that in most cases determined advocacy, ongoing awareness, and research and documentation can lead to good disarmament results.This interview has been edited for clarity and length.last_img read more

Sevilla Suffer Late Own Goal to Stutter Quest for UCL Ticket

first_imgThe closest either side came to goal in the first period was when visiting winger Munir El Haddadi’s brilliant free-kick crashed against the crossbar.Sevilla did take the lead in the first minute of the second half, as former Barcelona player El Haddadi teed up Dutch striker Luuk de Jong to score his sixth league goal of the season.Levante managed to create some late pressure and centre-back Carlos put through his own net three minutes from time after a mix-up with goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.The draw helped 12th-placed Levante move 10 points clear of safety with nine matches to play.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Sevilla suffered a setback in their bid to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage as a late own goal by Diego Carlos allowed visiting Levante to grab a 1-1 draw on Monday.Julen Lopetegui’s side, who sit third in La Liga, hold a five-point lead over fifth-placed Getafe, although their closest rivals still have to play in this round of matches.The five-time Europa League winners, who last played in the Champions League in 2017-18, are four points clear of fourth-placed Real Sociedad, with Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Villarreal and Granada also in the top-four hunt.last_img read more

Odegbami, Chukwu, Others Speak on the State of Football in Nigeria

first_imgBy Kunle AdewaleFollowing the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for yet another Africa Cup of Nations, THISDAY sought the views of  some past gladiators of the game on what has gone wrong and how to reverse the free-fall of football in Nigeria. ExcerptsSEGUN ODEGBAMIThe history of Nigerian football would only have been half told without mentioning – Segun Odegbami. He was part of the IICC Shooting Stars team that won the Cup Winners Cup in 1976, which was the first continental trophy to be won by any Nigerian club side. And since breaking into the Green Eagles (as the Nigerian national team was then known) in 1975 hecommandeered the Number Seven jersey for a number of years and went on to captain the team until his retirement from the national team in1981after Nigeria’s botched attempt to grab the ticket to the 1982 World in Spain. Odegbami was also part of the Eagles that won the first Africa Cup of Nations for Nigeria in 1980. Even after his retirement the marriage between ‘Big Sheg’ and football is still intact.“Winning the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time for Nigeria was one great moment I cannot forget in my football career. It was a day over 60,000 fans at the National Stadium, Surulere and millions of fans watching on television lifted us up and made us believe we can win the trophy and we did not disappoint. We still refer to it and still celebrate it up till now. We had the opportunity to shake the hands of the President of the nation (Alhaji Shehu Shagari) and he did so much for us, very much that some of us will forever thank him and I believe so many Nigerians still live with that fond memory of March 22, 1980,” the Polytechnic of Ibadan engineering graduate recalled.From then it took Nigeria another 14 years to taste another Nations Cup glory, when the Eagles won the biennial competition in Tunisia, beating the Zambians in the final. After the Tunisia feat, winning the bronze had been the country’s best. But now it has descended to a level where Nigeria soccer fans go to Churches and Mosques to pray for the national team for a Nations Cup ticket, until the Eagles surprised victory in 2013 in South Africa.Odegbami however blame the abandonment of wing play, which he said was Nigeria’s natural style of play as one of the reasons for the dwindling fortunes of the country’s football. “The neglect of wing play has affected our football very much because we have not put the natural gift of Nigeria to great use in our football. Nigerians are very strong, fast and skillful and if you add all these combinations together you need the wings to be able to exploit them on the field of play and that is why our football best suits for wingers and we were so successful while we were adopting the wings style of play and we won several trophies.“But the moment we started concentrating on other styles outside the wings, we started looking ordinary and we never succeeded. So we need to go back to our wing play and concentrate on players that have speed, strength and can go through one or two defenders and are in front of goal. That was what made me a bit special. People thought I was great but it was because I had only one or two defenders to beat and I am in front of goal the mouth,” Odegbami observed.The former national team captain indeed is of the opinion that for Nigerian national teams to be back to the standard Nigerian football was known and to be able to match with great footballing nations, the country needs to produce more and better players, saying that Nigerian players these day are really ordinary, which shows that the foundation of our football is not really solid.“We need to start producing very good players that can start to represent the very best of Nigerian football. Right now our footballers are really ordinary and we need to do something. And one of the biggest problems that is also confronting Nigerian football are the artificial pitches everywhere now. They are only good for viewership and television but they are not good enough for football and football development. With artificial pitches you cannot play attractive football and you pick injuries very easily. If we don’t go back to the days when we have good lush green pitches, which allows for good football and go back to secondary school football, which allows administrators of football to pick from the very best, I’m afraid Nigeria will continue to struggle against small football nations. Look at the best football nations in the world you don’t find artificial pitches all over like you see here in Nigeria,” the ex international further observed.According to the former Shooting Stars winger, the foundation of Nigerian football was rock solid when he was an active participant in football in the country from the early 70’s up till the turn of the ’80s.“After the Moscow Olympics in 1980, then arise some avoidable and unnecessary developments which started to rock that solid foundation and it all started with the unceremonious removal of Mr. Isaac Akioye as the director of sports at the National Sports Commission (NSC). He was the one with the training skills in sports that established the solid foundation and around him he trained and hired people who were to sustain the development, So, when he was removed in 1981 it created a crisis situation and those who took over from him, though tried to sustain what was on ground but the turnover of personnel in the administration of sports especially football in Nigeria became accelerated and it became more watery and by the time we got to the early 1990 it was so watered down, though the effect of that solid foundation was still strong to sustain sports development but by the 90’s it became less in terms of human capacity.“Though, we were still winning laurels but the fact remains that the administrators that came in thereafter did not have the original vision of the initial founders. And by the time we got to the late 1990 the new administrators that succeeded came in with their own shallow vision and so the quality of the game started to drop, so much so that we no longer could recognize the original foundation. There is no longer any connection between the original foundation and where we are now. We are just drifting; there is no clear vision and direction again. All the things that were initially built are now lost,” Odegbami lamented.ADOKIYE AMIESIMAKAAnother of Odegbami’s teammate in the national team, Adokiye Amiesimaka would however not want to comment after THISDAY asked for his opinion  on the dwindling fortunes of Nigerian football. “I have nothing to say. I have nothing new to say that I have not said already and I don’t want to waste my time and waste anybody’s time. I used to run a column in Sunday Punch but I’ve stopped in the last three weeks because of that. There is nothing new to talk about its like repeating the same thing over and over again. They are not ready to heed so why bother?  It’s not as if they don’t know what to do but we are just not ready to do the right thing. I’ve been writing and saying these things for the past 10 years, and I don’t want to continue repeating myself again,” an obviously furious Amiesimaka said with finality.CHRISTIAN CHUKWUIn his own submission, another former captain and coach of the national team, Christian Chukwu, blamed successive football administration for lack of planning and development of the game.“Each time the tenure of an administration ends there are always controversies as to who becomes the next president and members of the board, which in most cases end in long court cases and at the end of the day there is little or no time to take off. So we don’t come in with any tangible programme rather we just enter for competitions without proper planning. I have never seen any of the administration that shoots off with any developmental programme. We don’t have a sustainable programme, all we are after is just to participate in competitions.Chukwu is also of the opinion that until we go back to the basics-school sports, the country will continue to be confronted with the same problem.“It was from school sports and grassroots football that some of us emerged,” he noted.The former Super Eagles coach also faulted the idea of heavy dependent of foreign-based players, saying attention should be focused on the development of the local league, whereby the nucleus of the national team should be home-based.“You don’t build a national team in a foreign land. You don’t build a national team with entirely foreign-based players. It cannot work, even if they are all Peles. We have lot of talented players in Nigeria to form a formidable national team. We just needed to inject three to five foreign-based players into the team.“That is how to build a national team. I don’t see why we cannot have a 19-year-old player in our national team? It took a lot of pressure to inject Kelechi Iheanacho into our national team. It is the young players that would provide longevity and that is how to build a team. It is not all about winning all the time,” Chukwu opined.FRIDAY EKPOAnother ex international, Friday Ekpo, also cited age cheats as the bane of Nigerian football. “Many of the players that have represented the country in age-grade competitions in the past failed to move up to the next cadre of national team because they falsified their age. The use of over-aged players for age-grade competitions is one of the major reasons why football has not fully developed in the country. It has done a lot of harm to our football. You will expect a good player that is truly 17 years of age to move to the U-21 category and later to the senior team later in his career. But that has not been the case; when you expect to see them at the senior level, they fade away because they had falsified their ages at one point in time,’’ he noted.Ekpo therefore advised that seminars should be organised for upcoming players on the dangers inherent in age falsification, adding that football administrators should desist from putting pressure on coaches to win competitions at all cost, as such coach would be left with little choice than to include over-aged players in their teams.“Most of the coaches include over-aged players in their team so as to save their job which is doing a lot of damage to our football,” he said.LADIPOThe President General of the Nigeria  Football Supporters Club, Rafiu Ladipo, on his part attributed  the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria’s football, to the country’s refusal to defend the Africa Cup of Nations it won in 1994 in Tunisia.“It all started in 1996 when we failed to take part in the ’96 edition of the Nations Cup in South Africa that was when the fortunes of our football started going down. As a footballer you have to be up and doing and be playing all the time and that two years break affected Nigerian football. After the 1994 edition of the Nations Cup what have been our achievement?At the 1998 World Cup in France we were humiliated in the second round, at the 2002 edition hosted by Japan and Korea we did not qualify from the group stages and in 2006 Nigeria did not even qualify while we did not win a single game at the South Africa’s edition in 2010 and something must have been responsible for these poor results. And the reason is that we failed to take part in the 1996 Nations Cup. That was when our fortunes started going down,” he said.Ladipo is however of the opinion that hope is not completely lost if the country is ready to go back to the basics, which is reviving schools’ sports.“We forgot that before we got the likes of Stephen Keshi, Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokachi, Austin Okocha and the rest of them that took the 1994 Mundial by storm, there were certain things we did. They were mostly products of schools’ sports. They emerged from their various schools and went on to play for different clubs in Nigeria before traveling abroad in furtherance of their footballing career.“Also, then there used to be different level of football competitions amongst the states couple with the fact that the youths were always engaged in one competition or the other. But where are these competitions today? We have the states academicals competition, in the western part of the country there was the Termogin Cup. Where are those competitions again? We relied so much on the Keshi, Amokachi, Kanu Nwankwo, Okocha for several years forgetting that age will catch up on them. The National Stadium that used to be our pride has become a shadow of itself and has become a ‘no go area’ for footballers. Under that circumstance how do we develop football? Have we forgotten that in Europe and other leading countries of the world there are unlimited facilities where athletes can make use of to develop their skills?” queried the Nigerian cheer party leader.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Sierra Leone FA refuse to recognise Swedish coach

first_imgThere is confusion over who is coaching Sierra Leone’s national football team.The Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) insist it has never recognised Swede Lars Olof Mattsson as coach.Mattsson was recently appointed by the Sierra Leone sports ministry, who pay the coach’s salary, to lead the team for the remainder of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.But the SLFA insist that Christian Cole is the coach and will be in charge for the rest of the 2012 campaign.The Swedish coach was originally named to only take charge of the Leone Stars for March’s qualifier in Niger.Despite its stance over Mattsson, SLFA officials were present when he was named as coach for the one-off game and travelled to Niamey for the match. Subsequently Mattsson was named as coach by the sports ministry for the final three games in 2012 qualifiers but the SLFA now say they do not recognise this decision.Source: BBClast_img read more

The Family Read & Sing Aloud

first_imgThurston County Timberland LibrariesLacey, (360) 491-3860March 3-8, Book Character Scavenger HuntMarch 5, 3-4 p.m., Show Me a Story (making puppets and props)March 27, noon-1 p.m., ages 2-6, Sing Along with Caspar BabypantsApril 4, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Egg Hunt, bring your flashlight.April 8, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Read & Sing Story Time & CraftApril 10, noon-5 p.m., ages 3-9, Labyrinth in the Library, a life-size mazeOlympia, (360) 352-0595March 3-8, Sneaky Cat, a book character scavenger huntMarch 8, 10-11:30 a.m., Saturday-Caturday (crafts, activities, games, and cat stories; pick up free tickets at the youth desk.)March 19, 10:15-11 a.m., for babies and toddlers birth-age 3, Teeny Tiny Movers and Shakers Workshop with Olympia Family Theater. (Enter the Adams St. door.)March 27, 10-11 a.m., ages 2-6, Sing Along with Caspar BabypantsMarch 28, 5:30-7 p.m., Family Sing-Along LOCATION: Northern, 414½ Legion Way, Olympia. Sing with local musicians and youth librarians. Pick up free tickets at the youth desk.Tenino, (360) 264-2369March 1, Book Character Scavenger HuntMarch 5, Nursery Rhyme Scavenger Hunt, Wednesdays, March 5-April 9, a new hunt each weekMarch 22, 11-11:45 a.m., Celebrate Seuss with Charles the Clown and Biscuit the Dog PuppetApril 4, 3-4:30 p.m., Show Me a Story, making puppets and propsApril 11, 4-6 p.m., Stuffed Animal Sleepover: bring your favorite stuffed animalTumwater, (360) 943-7790March 3-8, Best Friends, a book character scavenger huntMarch 7, 3-4:30 p.m., World Book Day Best Friend Bash: stories, crafts, and gamesMarch 14, 6-6:45 p.m., Irish Dance with Scoil Rince SlieveloughaneMarch 28, 6-7 p.m., Pajama Sing-Along; wear your jammiesYelm, (360) 458-3374April 10, 11 a.m.-noon, The Chancy & Narly Show: Playing with Words: children’s songwriter Nancy Stewart and sound impressionist Charlie Williams Facebook0Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Timberland Regional LibraryThe 2014 Family Read & Sing Aloud program runs March 1-April 12Who doesn’t remember the “ABC Song”? Besides being one of the most memorable songs of childhood, the Alphabet Song is the most basic example of singing as a pathway to reading. This year Timberland Regional Library’s (TRL) thirteenth annual early learning initiative, The Family Read-Aloud, becomes The Family Read & Sing Aloud, adding music as a major piece of the program.Running from March 1 through April 12, The Family Read & Sing Aloud centers on families reading aloud —and now singing together —in as many different areas of their homes as they can. The program focuses on children from infancy to grade 3, but all of a family’s children are encouraged to join in the fun.“It’s no coincidence that we open the Read & Sing Aloud celebration with the birthday of Dr. Seuss and close on the birthday of Beverly Cleary. Characters from books written by these beloved authors have become part of cherished childhood memories for generations!” said Ellen Duffy, TRL’s Youth Services Coordinator.Families, child care providers and classroom teachers may pick up “Read & Sing Aloud House” materials at any Timberland library beginning Saturday, March 1, enter a drawing for prizes and start reading and singing in rooms all over their homes. The more rooms and spaces, the merrier.Every local Timberland library will draw a winner for a backpack filled with books chosen especially for the winning family or classroom. Friends of the Library groups throughout the library system have generously provided many hundreds of books. Libraries will also have local drawings during the program for books and other prizes such as Read to Me calendars.New materials for this year include a Nursery Rhyme Kit and “Sing Along Stories,” a list of picture books of children’s songs. Also new is a “Books with a Beat” door hanger that includes a list of rhythmic read-alouds that just beg readers and listeners to clap, tap their toes, snap their fingers, and pat their laps.Sing to your Librarian Week is a new activity at all Timberland libraries. Children are invited to sing a nursery rhyme, short song, or the ABC song to a librarian at their library anytime during the week of March 24-29 to receive a small prize.Complete Family Read & Sing Aloud program details will be in libraries and online at www.TRL.org by March 1.Benefits of Reading Aloud and Singing Together“There is a tremendous body of research showing that a child’s emotional and social readiness is a strong predictor of school success. Sitting comfortably together to share a story or sing a song helps nurture the emotional bond between parent and child,” said Ms. Duffy.“Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library” (ECRR), a research-based initiative of the American Library Association (ALA), the Public Library Association (PLA) and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), stresses that early literacy begins with the primary adults in a child’s life. ECRR and Timberland Regional Library’s family programming encourage parents and caregivers to have fun engaging their young ones in talking, singing, reading, writing and playing every day.“Children who are lovingly and joyfully read and sung to from an early age develop better language skills, enhanced listening skills and larger vocabularies, and are more ready to read when they begin school,” said Ms. Duffy.Nancy Stewart, creator of the “Sing with Our Kids” community initiative, http://singwithourkids.com, writes: “Simply singing with a child connects neural pathways, and increases the ability to retain information… Music builds a strong sense of rhythm, which leads to a better ability to understand and produce language. Singing develops spatial reasoning, which allows children to recognize patterns and later helps in problem-solving.” Songs are rich in vocabulary and build awareness of sounds, Stewart said.“Song involves even the youngest child in language,” said Duffy. According to music education professor Lili M. Levinowitz, Ph.D., “Infants can…match pitch as early as three to four months of age. Purposeful singing can begin at around twelve months.”“The Family Read & Sing Aloud is all about highlighting the lasting value of reading aloud and singing with your child—nurturing, creating memories, modeling reading enjoyment, developing readers, helping your child enter school ready to read,” said Duffy, “And, how can you sing together without feeling happy?”Comments from families surveyed during previous years’ programs demonstrate that they enjoy reading, laughing, snuggling and spending time together. Parents heard their children using new words and stretching their imaginations by acting out the stories and making up new ones. One parent wrote, “She is beginning to read back to us!”Family Read & Sing Aloud events and activitiesPrograms listed below are for families and children of all ages unless ages are specified. Contact the libraries for more information or check the events listings at www.TRL.org/Events.March 24-29, Sing to your Librarian Week: Celebrate singing! Children are invited to sing a nursery rhyme, short song, or the ABC song to a librarian during the week of March 24-29 to receive a small prize.last_img read more

Oceanport Looks to 2018, With Concern For Monmouth Park

first_imgBy Chris Rotolo |OCEANPORT — At Monday afternoon’s reorganization meeting it was clear the mayor and six-member Borough Council will be focused on horse racing subsidies in the new year.After overwhelming Republican victories this past election season, the council’s first session of 2018 was used to appoint Joseph Irace as the new council president by a 5-1 vote, as well as to swear in incumbents Richard Gallo Jr. and Robert Proto, each of whom won a full-term seat on the council; Stephen Solan, who was elected to a two-year unexpired term; and William Deerin, who captured the bid for a one-year unexpired term.However, the assemblage also provided a stage for the governing body, led by Mayor Jay Coffey, to discuss its focus for the next calendar year, and atop that list was the ongoing debate about Monmouth Park.“We have a financial issue confronting us with the park, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of our tax base,” said Coffey. “And if we don’t get some sort of subsidization of horse racing, the track might not be able to sustain itself.”Coffey’s ominous tidings about the future of this Jersey Shore institution come in response to the lack of New Jersey government subsidies provided to Monmouth Park and the borough, a circumstance the mayor points out is not suffered by surrounding states.Stephen Solan takes the oath to be an Oceanport Councilman.“The four states around us all subsidize their horse racing and thoroughbred racing,” Coffey said. “This year, we need seven people all working together in lockstep to support the advancement of subsidization, be it gambling revenue or, we’re hoping for sports betting.”The fight for sports betting at Monmouth Park has been an ongoing legal battle that began six years ago, but the case to legalize was finally heard by the Supreme Court on Dec. 4, 2017, meaning Coffey’s hopes could be answered in the early months of 2018. Should the state be permitted by the nation’s highest court, Monmouth Park’s share of New Jersey’s sports wagering revenue is estimated at nearly $50 million annually, an amount the venue would split with its sports betting partner, William Hill.Deerin’s election to the council is an addition Coffey is pleased with, as he believes the longtime Oceanport resident’s background can be particularly helpful in achieving the borough’s subsidization goals.“Bill is one of the first people I met when I came to Oceanport in 2002, so I know him well, and I know his financial background will be a tremendous help with what we’re facing with both the park and the fort. His business acumen is much needed in a town like ours. He was elected for a one-year term, but I hope we have him for much longer than that.”“We’re facing some challenges for sure,” said Deerin, who has lived and coached youth athletics in Oceanport for 24 years, and now plans to serve an even larger role in the borough’s recreational sports leagues. “Our biggest focuses are the fort and the track, and we’re determined to make headway with both of them, while financially keeping us in line.”John Drucker was named as the new Fire Prevention Subcode Official, while Michael Macstudy was appointed to replace Proto and serve alongside John Bonforte on the Two River’s Water Reclamation Authority.Mayor Coffey also appointed William Sullivan (Class I), Daphne Halpern (Class IV), James Whitson (Class IV), Michael Savarese (Class IV), Thomas Tvrdik (Alternate I) and Michael O’Brien (Alternate II) to the Planning Board, while Anthony Forlini and Jack L. Harris were appointed to the Environmental Commission.Tearful AcceptanceFire department and first aid squad officer elections were also made official on Monday, as Mike Patterson (Fire Chief), Paul Van Brunt (1st Assistant Chief) and Michael Lippolis (2nd Assistant Chief) each took their oath, as did Kelsey Bernaducci (First Aid Squad Sergeant), John Gallo (2nd Lieutenant) and John Connor (1st Lieutenant).Though it was the emotional acceptance of the first aid captaincy role by Kathy Kenny that proved to be the most heart-warming moment of the meeting.Kenny’s father, Danny Sapp — who passed away in 1978 at the age of 50 — was a former Oceanport Fire Chief, and deeply connected to the borough’s first aid squad, a familial connection to the position that caused Kenny to voice her oath through prideful tears.“It was an emotional moment for me,” Kenny said. “My father died when I was 14 years old and my sister, who is my only living relative and has been very sick, she came out for me today… and I was done.”A teary-eyed Kathleen Kelly celebrates her election as Oceanport First Aid Captain with grandaughter.“I’ve been with the first aid squad for 18 years and today is the first time I’ve been captain, so this means the world to me,” Kenny added. “It’s overwhelming emotion right now, and I wouldn’t be in this position without the support of my family.”“I just hope I fill the footsteps of my past captains as well as they did it,” she said.According to Kenny, one of her priorities as captain is to bolster the numbers of her volunteer squad.“It’s tough being volunteers, and to get people to come out to volunteer,” Kenny said. “We get almost 700 calls a year, but I have great people standing beside to help me do it. And I urge people to join us, because there is no better feeling in the world. We come and help people in their worst time. When they need someone the most, we’re there. It’s truly is something special to be a part of.”For more information on how to join the Oceanport First Aid Squad visit oceanportfirstaid.org or call their nonemergency number at 732-544-0864.This article was first published in the Jan. 4-11, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.last_img read more

Bombers open final week of the 2016 season against Bercovich Gold

first_imgUnfortunately all great things come to an end, and that too, goes for summer baseball in Humboldt County. The Humboldt B-52s enter the last week in their summer season, starting with the last three home games today at Bomber Field against the Bercovich Gold before heading to Healdsburg to participate in the Wine Country Baseball Tournament next Friday.Bercovich Gold — a collegiate team from the Bay Area under Headfirst Baseball Academy — is no stranger to the Bombers, as they have played each …last_img read more

SA, UK boost for African farmers

first_img25 May 2006South Africa is a key partner in two new trade programmes designed to increase trade between SA and its neighbours and give emerging farmers in the region access to Europe’s supermarkets.The two programmes, supported by Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) and backed by £4.5-million (R56-million) in British funding, were announced by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and South Africa President Thabo Mbeki following their meeting in London on Wednesday.According to the Cape Argus, the first, four-year programme will see British and South African supermarkets helping vegetable farmers in southern African countries to meet the quality standards required by EU markets.The programme aims to increase the sourcing of products by SA supermarkets from neighbouring countries by 30% by 2010, and to increase international retail sector purchases of high-value agricultural products from southern Africa by 5%.The second programme aims to reduce waiting times at border posts for both smaller traders and larger businesses moving goods between South Africa and Lesotho, South Africa and Mozambique, and Zambia and Zimbabwe.According to The Herald, the programme, backed by £500 000 (R6.2-million) of legal and practical support from Britain’s DFID, will also involve the SA Revenue Service and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).The programme aims to help cut waiting times at the three border posts – among the busiest in southern Africa – by at least 30% by 2010.“If Africa is to achieve the growth necessary to meet the key Millennium Development Goals of halving the number of people in poverty by 2015, the business environment must improve,” Mbeki and Blair said in a joint statement after their meeting.“Today’s trade agreement takes southern Africa another step towards a better business climate.”SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

New law to curb ‘reckless lending’

first_img27 July 2006South Africa’s Ombudsman for Banking Services is experiencing an increase in complaints from consumers who have run into financial trouble after taking up unsolicited offers of credit from the country’s major banks.This is according to the Ombudsmans’ complaints investigation manager, Advocate John Simpson.Simpson told the SA Press Association (Sapa) on Wednesday that once people started falling behind with their repayments, the interest and legal costs snowballed, often leaving the borrower with a lifelong financial burden.“We suspect, from what we have heard, that the banks are engaging in an all-out drive to gather as many clients as they can ahead of the National Credit Act coming into force in June 2007,” Simpson told Sapa.The new law aims to stamp out “reckless lending”, which includes entering into a credit agreement likely to leave the consumer over-indebted.The Act will also prevent credit providers from increasing borrowers’ credit limits without first complying with prescribed formalities.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Urban organic agriculture in downtown Joburg

first_imgDiscussions about the regeneration of Johannesburg’s inner city usually revolve around refurbishment of buildings and attracting business and residents into the city. But an award-winning project in downtown Johannesburg with the ambitious long-term aim of feeding poor people in the inner city is changing the conversation.Urban farming has taken root in the run-down suburb of Betrams, as part of a municipal programme to revitalise the city. The Bambanani Food and Herb Garden has reclaimed the abandoned bowling greens of the old Bertrams Bowling Club, once a recreation centre reserved for white people during the apartheid era. Now, the lawns have been turned over, furrows tilled, soil fertilised, and vegetables planted and harvested.Earlier in November 2013 the project won the Mma Tshepo Khumbane Award, from the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, for the best community-based natural resources management project in the province. Khumbane is a grassroots activist and the founder of the Water for Food Movement, which works in rural Gauteng. For 40 years she has tried to fight malnutrition and hunger by encouraging small-scale farming.‘NO NEED TO GO HUNGRY’Turning upmarket bowling greens into food gardens … Volunteers at work tilling the soil to plant organic fruit and vegetables for the Bambanani Food and Herb Garden in BertramsThe brim of Maria Maseko’s hat shades her eyes from the afternoon sun: it’s a cloudless summer day with temperatures pushing into the 30s. One of the original volunteers at the Bambanani project, she takes in the familiar view of the dramatic Johannesburg skyline, with the iconic concrete tube of the Ponte Tower, and Ellis Park Stadium. “There is no need for anyone to ever go to bed hungry in Betrams, not when there is access to healthy affordable food right on their doorstep,” she says.Bambanani is just one of a number of art, sport and agriculture projects in downtown Johannesburg that are changing the way Joburgers experience their city. The garden is part of what is called Hope Village, a redevelopment project that includes a cricket oval and recreation centre for the kids of Bertrams and Hillbrow.Started with a R21 000 grant from the city in 2006 for seed and tools and the efforts of a group of 10 volunteers, the garden supplies cheap organic vegetables to the local community, and sells to street hawkers and the Bertrams Spar supermarket. The generosity of sponsors such as Talborne Organics and Jojo Tanks and the passion of people like Maseko and fellow volunteer Amon Maluleke has kept the project growing.FOOD AND MEMORY“We dug up the lawn and planted our first crop by hand,” says Maseko, who recently retired from Johannesburg’s Department of Social Development. “It was hard, backbreaking work but it’s a crucial part of the creation of a diverse ecosystem and an important bonding tool for the local community.”The gardeners use the companion planting method and their harvests are Participatory Guarantee Systems certified as organic. This allows the cooperative to also sell their products at local organic markets.“We grow our tomatoes next to our basil. This gives the tomatoes a rich taste, but more importantly the basil protects the plants from insects,” Maseko explains. She pulls a head of kale, known as shiyama to most Africans, out of the ground. It is a deep green and fills both her palms. It sells at the garden for R15 a head; at a supermarket it’s R30.As the suburb declined over the years, the Bertrams Bowling Club, the site of the garden, fell into disuse. The City of Johannesburg decided its two bowling greens would be better used to grow vegetables. The gardeners now produce an astonishing variety of vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, chillies, spinach, kale, onions and butternut. The once-fallow plot is now a bright green space, filled with activity and colour.“This Congolese man brought us seeds indigenous to the Congo,” Maseko says. “He wanted us to plant them so he could he have a taste of home here. Those are the memories food can evoke.”‘THEY KNOW HOW TO WORK THE LAND’Working on the food garden helps build a sense of community among the people living in Bertrams. Many of them, people who have moved to Johannesburg from rural areas, have the skills and knowledge to work the land (Images: Bambanani Food and Herb Garden)Bertrams, and Johannesburg, offers a collection of stunning architecture and museums but to a transplant like Amon Maluleke, from rural Limpopo, the city lacked green space that would allow people with the skills to farm vegetables. “People come to the city and want to work in a job where they wear a tie but they don’t have the skills,” he says. “Like me they know how to work the land, they can feed themselves, they can feed their neighbours if they were given the space and the opportunity.”Maluleke came upon the inner city farm in July 2007 after he had been retrenched. He is now assistant groundskeeper at the adjacent cricket oval, home to the Johannesburg Cricket Club, and is studying towards a degree in ornamental horticulture.Bambanani also serves as a gardening academy, training nursery school staff from across the city in the art of vegetable gardening. Across Bertrams school grounds that would have been planted with flowers are now being turned into fertile corners bursting with freshly grown fruit and vegetables. These are, in part, driven by need, but spurred on by the efforts of the volunteers at Bambanani.“In the beginning the idea behind Bambanani was regeneration of the neighbourhood and to improve the health of its residents by making fresh organic fruit and vegetables available to them,” says Maluleke. “It’s taken hold of people’s imaginations. They see the importance of fresh, healthy food and the need for green, working space in the city.”GARDEN SUBURB, THEN AND NOWOriginally built as a suburb for the professional classes, Bertrams abuts Old Doornfontein, the preferred neighbourhood for the city’s wealthy entrepreneurial classes in the early days of Johannesburg. Today it’s a suburb in transition with a multicultural population of South Africans and African refugees building a vibrant community of small businesses and sports clubs.Bertrams can lay claim to some famous past residents. Robert Baden Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, and colonial magnate Cecil John Rhodes lived on the ridge that today overlooks Ellis Park Stadium. Infamous serial poisoner Daisy de Melker did her misdeeds in the suburb. When it was incorporated into the city in 1897 Bertrams was known for its gardens and stables housing thoroughbred horses. Today it’s a part of the city most people race through with car windows closed and doors locked.What they miss as they speed through the neighbourhood is how the area is becoming a place of fecundity again. On the surface it seems to be on the brink of ecological and social collapse, but if you look closely you will see the green shoots of abundance.First published on Media Club South Africa – Brand South Africa’s library of quality images and articles, available for free.last_img read more