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Obama presidency fails to unite whites and blacks: Poll

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Washington: Barack Obama’s presidency has not united whites and blacks in America, a new poll suggests, noting that Americans’ negative views on the state of race relations in the country persist.

Just 15 per cent of Americans think Obama’s presidency has brought whites and blacks closer together, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll released on Thursday.

Instead, 47 per cent think his presidency has made no difference, while 34 per cent think his presidency has pushed blacks and whites further apart.

Blacks (30 per cent) are more likely than whites (11 per cent) to think the Obama presidency has brought blacks and whites closer together, though about half of both groups think his presidency hasn’t made much difference.

Americans give a mixed review to Obama for his handling of race relations in the US, and white and black Americans assess his presidency differently on this measure, according to the poll.

Overall, 46 per cent of Americans approve of how Obama is handling race relations, while 44 per cent disapprove.

Among whites, more disapprove (50 per cent) than approve (40 per cent), while blacks overwhelmingly approve (72 per cent).

More specifically, although 62 per cent of white Americans think the Obama administration’s policies treat both blacks and whites equally, more than a quarter of whites (27 per cent) think his policies favor blacks over whites, up from just 12 per cent in 2010.

This rises to 49 per cent among whites who disapprove of the president’s handling of race relations.

In contrast, 85 per cent of blacks think the policies of the Obama administration favor both blacks and whites equally.

Still, 45 per cent of Americans think Obama has been judged more harshly because he is black; blacks (80 per cent) are far more likely to think so than whites (37 per cent).

And while many Americans remain critical of Obama’s handling of race relations, more Americans think the Democratic Party (44 per cent) is more likely to improve race relations than the Republican Party (23 per cent).

Positive opinions of race relations rose above 50 per cent in the 2000s, and reached a high of 66 per cent in April 2009, shortly after Barack Obama took office, CBS said.

But those positive assessments have not lasted: in mid-2014, after the conflicts between blacks and the police in Ferguson, Missouri, the percentage that said race relations are good dropped, it noted.

(IANS)

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Yellowstone National Park: A magnificent place to explore

America’s first national park – Yellowstone. It's also the first national park in the world, established by Congress in 1872, even before the National Park Service was set up.

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Yellowstone National Park: A magnificent place to explore
More than half the world's geysers are in Yellowstone National Park. VOA

January 2, 2018: When you think about America’s national parks, what probably comes to mind first is America’s first national park – Yellowstone. It’s also the first national park in the world, established by Congress in 1872, even before the National Park Service was set up.

Yellowstone sits on an active volcano, the source of the more than 10,000 geothermal features in the park, including more than half the world’s geysers. National Parks traveler Mikah Meyer made sure he caught the eruption of the best-known of its 500 geysers – Old Faithful, which shoots a column of superheated water up to 42 meters into the air, every 60 to 110 minutes.

“They have geysers that range from Old Faithful to these geysers that are basically holes in the ground that give a glimpse into what the bubbling boiling earth underneath is like.”

And some of what bubbles up is mud. Mikah describes these ‘mudpots’ as a witch’s cauldron. “They look like some sort of witch’s concoction because you’re just walking along this boardwalk and suddenly to your left and your right you’ve got these giant mud pools that are bubbling up in random spots, and so it really is a place where you can see the earth’s underbelly.”

The thousands of steam vents in Yellowstone give off a powerful sulfur odor.
The thousands of steam vents in Yellowstone give off a powerful sulfur odor. VOA

He noted a constant feature of the park — steam. “Anywhere you are in the park it always seems like somewhere in your 360° view you’ll see some steam rising out of the ground.” These fumaroles, or steam vents, are the hottest hydrothermal features in the park, with temperatures as high as 138°Celsius.

Yellowstone is also home to thermophile microbes, which thrive in the hot springs. Trillions of these microorganisms are grouped together, so they appear as masses of color. Since different types of thermophiles live at different temperatures within a hot spring, they produce what looks like a rainbow in the water.

Grand Prismatic Spring is Yellowstone's largest hot spring. It's about 112.8 meters across and more than 37 meters deep.
Grand Prismatic Spring is Yellowstone’s largest hot spring. It’s about 112.8 meters across and more than 37 meters deep. VOA

And it’s not just hot water shooting up… Yellowstone also has 350 identified waterfalls that tumble down more than 4 1/2 meters. The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River is the tallest cascade in the park. At 94 meters, it’s twice as high as Niagara Falls.

An abundance of wildlife

Many of the more than 4 million visitors to Yellowstone each year come to see one of the symbols of the American West. Yellowstone is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times, and the park’s herd of 4,000 to 5,000 animals represents the last-known wild bison population in the world.

Grand Prismatic Spring is Yellowstone's largest hot spring. It's about 112.8 meters across and more than 37 meters deep.
Grand Prismatic Spring is Yellowstone’s largest hot spring. It’s about 112.8 meters across and more than 37 meters deep. VOA

Mikah said they really catch visitors’ eyes. “I have this video of what I call a Yellowstone traffic jam which is basically anytime there’s any sort of animal on the side of the road, everyone seems to stop their car and take pictures or pull over and it’s an instant traffic jam!”

But bison aren’t the only iconic animals in the park. Yellowstone is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states, including predators like grey wolves and bears, and large herbivores, like big horn sheep, elk and moose.

Two decades ago, 41 wild gray wolves from Canada and northwest Montana were released in Yellowstone National Park to start a recovery effort. Today, the park is home to more than 100 animals in eleven packs. (NPS/Jim Peaco)
Two decades ago, 41 wild gray wolves from Canada and northwest Montana were released in Yellowstone National Park to start a recovery effort. Today, the park is home to more than 100 animals in eleven packs. (NPS/Jim Peaco). VOA

There are nearly 300 species of birds, 16 species of fish, five species of amphibians, and six species of reptiles.

But the main draw remains the regular eruption of Old Faithful. “If you’re on the hunt for geysers,” Mikah concludes, “you really can’t do much better than Yellowstone National Park.” (VOA)