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Savannah, Georgia, September 10, 2017: On the surface, Savannah, Georgia, and Syracuse, New York, don’t have much in common beyond their size. Both are smaller cities, with populations hovering around 145,000 people. Yet their streets share a grim reality: Teenagers are being killed or wounded by firearms at rates far higher than in most U.S. cities, according to an Associated Press and USA Today Network analysis of shootings compiled by the non-profit Gun Violence Archive.
From 2014 through this past June, 57 youths aged 12 to 17 in Savannah and 48 in Syracuse were killed or injured in the gun violence. The cities’ rates of teen shootings per capita are more than double those seen in the vast majority of U.S. cities with populations of 50,000 or more.
“It’s getting worse,” said Barbara O’Neal, who started the group Mothers of Murdered Sons in Savannah. “They’re still shooting. And they still don’t care.”
Her son, Alan O’Neal Jr., survived his teenage years, only to be shot dead during a robbery attempt six years ago at age 20.
The unrelenting gun violence in both cities is tearing at the adults who struggle to find answers and the kids who try, often in vain, to avoid mayhem.
Sheryl Sams speaks with a mix of weariness and disbelief about teen shootings in Savannah. She directs a program called Youth Intercept, which dispatches volunteers to the hospital emergency room to offer assistance to young people being treated for gunshot wounds.
Sams says Youth Intercept has its share of successes; roughly 75 young people have graduated from the program since 2010. But she estimates only about 1 in 3 victims accept the program’s help.
“We have a kid who’s been shot three times and his mom finally tried to enroll him, but she hasn’t done all the follow-through,” Sams said, adding the mother and son stopped answering phone calls and knocks at their door. “He’s 14 now and he’s been shot three times. To them, it’s a way of life.”
Founded in 1733, Savannah is Georgia’s oldest city, and its downtown area forms the largest National Historic Landmark District in the U.S. An estimated 13 million visitors pumped $2.8 billion into the local economy last year. But beyond the Greek Revival mansions and manicured public squares, nearby neighborhoods struggle with poverty and violence.
In a case that typifies Savannah’s shootings, 17-year-old Wayne Edwards was on his way to a party in August 2014 when he got into an argument with another teen standing outside his car. That teen raised a gun and fired five shots, with one bullet killing Edwards. He wasn’t shot over money or drugs; the evidence pointed to violence sparked by tough talk and bluster.
The 18-year-old shooter was sentenced to life in prison, but the crime still makes no sense to Edwards’ father.
“It’s still hard after three years,” Wayne Blige said of his son’s slaying. “You know what happened, but you still don’t know why.”
Worse in smaller, midsize cities
The Gun Violence Archive compiles information on shootings nationwide from media and police reports. The AP-USA Today Network analysis of those cases found that smaller and midsize cities have higher rates of teen gun violence than major American cities. Chicago, plagued for years by teen violence, is the exception.
Wilmington, Delaware, a city of 72,000, had by far the highest rate of teen gun violence, nearly twice that of Chicago.
Syracuse sits just beyond the vineyard-rich hillsides of the Finger Lakes region of central New York, a tourist destination of spectacular waterfalls, deep gorges, and rolling hills. The city has a grittier past, built not by pressing Riesling grapes but by stamping out parts for automobiles and air conditioners.
Most of those factories have closed. The city is now known mostly for Syracuse University and its basketball team.
The university’s stately halls sit atop a hill that looms over the city’s South Side, a sprawling mix of neighborhoods that are often blemished by boarded-up clapboard homes sitting in overgrown lots. Many of the shootings cataloged by the Gun Violence Archive occurred here.
On one South Side street corner, mourners piled teddy bears where 15-year-old Akil Williams was shot and killed this summer during an argument. The corner is blocks away from where another 15-year-old was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2015. A year ago, 18-year-old Tyshawn Lemon was killed as he talked to a girl on her porch nearby.
‘It can happen to anyone’
“When I was growing up … if you were a regular kid and going to school and working, it didn’t happen to you,” said Lateefah Rhines, Tyshawn’s mother. “But now it’s touching everybody’s lives. And I feel like if it can happen to Tyshawn, it can happen to anyone.”
Researchers have linked high poverty rates to gun violence, and some South Side neighborhoods are plagued by both. They are among the poorest areas in a city with a poverty rate of 35 percent, well above the national average.
Despite the reasons for despair, some residents are not ready to give in to the violence.
Over the slap of boxing gloves at the Faith Hope Community Center, Arthur “Bobby” Harrison said some teens who get mixed up with guns are good kids but confused. His gym offers a place where neighborhood youths can shoot hoops, lift weights or spar in a ring next to a wall plastered with pictures of local boxers and role models such as Muhammad Ali and former President Barack Obama.
Harrison, who was serving a sentence in Attica state prison during the infamously deadly uprising in 1971, provides a firm hand for the teens who train here. But the gym also is a sanctuary for teens such as Quishawn Richardson.
“It doesn’t remind you of all the violence that’s going on outside,” said Quishawn, a lanky 15-year-old who dreams of playing basketball up the hill at the university. “It shows you that Syracuse has got some places you can go to without getting hurt.” (VOA)
During the festive season, kitchens are filled with people trying to find a space for them to work, while they contribute to the eventual feast. In India, festivals are one of the most important things that bind families and friends together over food. Diwali is of those festivals that apart from being known for the colors and lights, is known and remembered by the elaborate dishes that each family doles out.
In Karnataka, parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and South India in general, making obbattu/ holige/ puran poli is a festive ritual. Known as Holige, more popularly in Kannada, this dish is eaten as a dessert because of its sweetness but can be eaten as a meal in itself because of its nutritious value.
Holige is traditionally a flatbread filled with jaggery, coconut, chickpeas, or channa dal. Sometimes, it has vegetables and fruits. It is popularly made to celebrate Ugadi, the Kannada new year but is also eaten during Diwali. Making Holige involves multiple steps and be incredibly fun to do when done together as a family.
The ingredients laid out to begin cooking holige Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Making Holige is very similar to making parathas. A sweet filling consists of smashed dal or chickpeas seasoned with spices like cardamom, which is rolled out. a maida-based dough which will make the outer covering is rolled into a thin circle. After cooking the dal with jaggery, it is placed in the centre of the dough and cooked until it resembles a paratha. The marbling on the dough with a characteristic yellow background is the typical Holige. Ghee is smeared at every stage and at every turn of the Holige on the pan to ensure that it holds its shape.
Holige is made only one at a time and eaten immediately off the stove as it tends to exude a lot of moisture. This comes from the melted jaggery and ghee. Holige makes for an extremely delicious dessert and is perhaps one of the most awaited festive specialties. Depending on the state it is made in, it is served with varying accompaniments.
Keywords: Holige, Diwali festival, Dessert, Obbattu, Karnataka, the festive season, Kannada new year
Kerala Kalamandalam that teaches the globally recognized art form of Kerala -- Kathakali, has for the first time in its history of 90 years, admitted girl students.
In class VII of Kalamadalam, out of 10 students admitted, 9 are girl students for its Kathakali course. Kathakali is a highly masculine art form with even the female characters being portrayed by men. The attempt is being welcomed across the world.
However several women had started practicing Kathakali in 1970 and 1990 and K.K. Gopalakrishnan, renowned art critic of Kerala in his research book, 'Kathakali Dance - Theatre', said that some women from foreign countries had trained for some short-term courses in Kerala on Kathakali.
Most of these performing women artists were either trained privately by Kathakali masters but this is the first time that Kalamandalam is taking in girl students for its long-term programme.
T.K. Narayanan, Vice-Chancellor, Kerala Kalamandalam told media persons that giving admission to girl students in Kalamadalam was a demand for several quarters since long and that this academic year the governing body has decided to give admission to girl students in a full-time programme at Kalamandalam.
Training at Kalamandalam from school days would expose the students to the teaching and guidance of experts and a diverse pool of teachers of the institute who have huge exposure and deep knowledge of the subject. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Kerala culture, Kathakali, Dance Culture, kathakali Tradition, Kerala Kalamandalam
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the Delhi government would arrange free-of-cost travel for senior citizens from Delhi to Ayodhya.
"I want every Indian should be fortunate enough to have a 'darshan' (visit) of Ram Lalla. I am a small man but Lord Ram has given me enough and I will use my position to help people to come for darshan here," Kejriwal added after offering prayers at the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya on Tuesday.
Speaking to the media, he said, "I pray to Lord Ram to help India move ahead in the world and bring prosperity for 130 crore people."
Kejriwal, who visited the Hanuman Garhi temple, said he was fortunate enough to be in Ayodhya and seek blessings from Lord Ram for the welfare of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and the rest of the country.
The Delhi Chief Minister had arrived at the temple town on Monday and attended the 'Sarayu aarti' where he interacted with saints and seers. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Ayodhya, Ayodhya Ram Mandir, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Ram Mandir for senior citizens, Ram Janmabhoomi temple.