October 17, 2016: There are more than 400 sites in the U.S. National Park Service, and Mikah Meyer plans to visit all of them. Most recently, he’s been in the northeastern state of Maine, where he’s noticed a recurring theme … that many of the vast and beautiful natural areas open to visitors like him would probably not have remained so had it not been for the generosity of a dedicated group of wealthy Americans.
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A good example of that philanthropy was a park Meyer had recently visited: the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, which President Barack Obama just designated as a national park.
The land, which encompasses about 35,000 hectares (87,500 acres) of spectacular woods and waterways, was purchased and donated to the National Park Service by Roxanne Quimby, a Maine resident and devoted conservationist who founded the hugely successful company Burt’s Bees. The company makes natural, Earth-friendly personal care products.
The entrepreneur, environmentalist and philanthropist donated the land, “and also a $40 million endowment to help improve the park and pay for the services,” Meyer said.
A family affair
Quimby formed the Quimby Family Foundation in 2004 with the vision “to advance wilderness values and to increase access to the arts throughout Maine.”
Meyer had a chance to meet with Quimby’s son, Lucas St. Clair, an avid outdoorsman and conservationist whose childhood years in Maine fostered his deep love and respect for the outdoors.
St. Clair, who is a member of the foundation’s board of directors, spoke with Meyer about the challenges of creating a national monument.
“We talked for over an hour about the almost decade-long process of getting Katahdin to become a national park site and how much work, time, energy and money has gone into doing this,” Meyer said. “It made me think about the time and effort it must have taken to create all the other 412 sites within the National Park Service. And I’m guessing that all of them probably took as much, or similar amount of work.”
Purchasing land and donating it to the park service has been an enduring tradition in the U.S. — particularly in this part of the country. And it takes a huge amount of work.
Acadia National Park is another example of a spectacular land and waterscape that’s been preserved and protected thanks to the generosity of dedicated, conservation-minded Americans over several generations.
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The very first national park established east of the Mississippi River, Acadia is over 20,000 hectares (50,000-acres) of lush woodland, rocky beaches, historic carriage roads and majestic granite mountains.
Its highest peak, Cadillac Mountain, at 466 meters (1,530 feet) is the highest point along the eastern coast and a place where visitors can be the first to see the sunrise in the United States from early October through early March. Its pristine lakes and ocean coastlines are home to a variety of plants and wildlife including moose, bear, whales and seabirds.
“What I think made Acadia unique was that you have these big mountains right next to the ocean … so that juxtaposition of the rocks and the waves and the mountains seem to be Acadia’s signature,” Meyer observed.
Roxanne Quimby — who donated the Katahdin land — also recently purchased some land near Acadia, Meyer said, “donating about 32 hectares [80 acres] to the Acadia Park to preserve it for future generations.”
“It was just fascinating to learn how as a family, they were able to use their particular strengths to acquire the land and then go through the whole process of convincing the public that this is something that is worth going through with,” Meyer said. “I just really admire all of the work that these people put into something that they didn’t have to do.”
But before the Quimby family, there were others.
Many attribute Acadia’s enduring existence to the early efforts of American academic Charles W. Eliot, Harvard University’s longest-serving president (1869-1909), who helped shape the university into a highly esteemed, world-renowned institution.
Eliot formed the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations in 1901, with the mission of “… acquiring, owning and holding lands and other property in Hancock County for free public use.” Essentially, to protect the natural resources of Maine’s Mount Desert Island, where his son — a landscape architect who died at 38 — vacationed, and had hoped to expand public access.
The father of Acadia National Park
George B. Dorr — who studied at Harvard — became known as a gentleman scholar and conservationist. He co-founded the trustees organization and spent most his adult life working in support of the establishment, care and expansion of the park, devoting not only his time but much of his personal wealth. As a result of his efforts, he became known as the “father of Acadia National Park.”
The peoples’ playground
Another wealthy recruit to the effort was John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a member of one of the most powerful families in America — known for its long tradition of supporting national parks by establishing or enhancing more than 20 of them, from Maine to Wyoming.
Rockefeller also had a vacation cottage on Mount Desert Island. He donated about 4,047 hectares (10,000 acres) to Acadia and financed and directed the construction of the historic carriage roads, the Park Loop Road, the gatehouses and a number of other iconic buildings.
“Acadia was fascinating in that it was once this playground to the wealthy,” Meyer noted, “Charles W. Eliott — then-president of Harvard — used to bring his boat up to the area and it was he and Dorr who really spearheaded the start of Acadia.”
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“It’s interesting to see how what was once private wealthy people’s playgrounds is now a public playground,” he added.
And as Acadia National Park rightly references in its online sites, there were countless other individuals who contributed to its creation by giving through their labor, or “generously gave properties they had purchased or inherited so they might be protected and enjoyed by all for generations to come.”
Meyer feels lucky to be one of the many millions of visitors who enjoy America’s national parks every year and to be able to benefit from the generosity of conservationists who had the foresight to protect lands he feels sure would have fallen victim to privatization or development.
“This whole time to New England — from Vermont, New Hampshire and now to Maine — a large theme has been wealthy American philanthropists who donate natural lands so that the rest of America can experience what they were fortunate enough to experience,” Meyer concluded.
Through the collaborative efforts of these conservation-minded citizens, the creation and preservation of America’s first eastern national park is just one example of an enduring tradition established by President Woodrow Wilson 100 years ago …
“To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” (VOA)
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS
June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.
Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.
Confusion leads to mistakes
All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.
“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”
Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.
Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.
“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.
IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.
IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.
Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.
“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.
IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.
Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.
IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.
Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.
Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.
Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.
“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.
IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.
Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.
“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)
Google's project 'We Wear Culture' is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago
Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India
It intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures
Its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago
June 15, 2017: To a certain extent, a culture is defined by what is worn by its people. In a country as diverse as India, vast and varied spectrum of cultures and clothes is one of the specialties. Google’s latest virtual exhibition project now provides us the opportunity to explore and know more about it.
Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago, from the ancient Silk Road to the unmatched elegance of the Indian Saree, from the courtly fashion of Versailles, to the Victorian ballgowns with intricate thread work.
According to Amit Sood, director of Google Arts and Culture,”We invite everyone to browse the exhibition on their phones or laptops and learn about the stories behind what you wear. You might be surprised to find out that your Saree, jeans or the black dress in your wardrobe have a centuries-old story. What you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”
The company also mentioned that noteworthy collections from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and varied weaves from across India, from Gharchola to Patola to Temple to Ikat sarees will be included in the online project, as it intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures.
According to PTI reports, the world fashion exhibit also includes designs from north-eastern India including the weaves of tribes such as the Nagas, Meitis. it will showcase the traditional attire from Meghalaya called ‘Dhara’ or ‘Nara’ worn by the Khasi women as well.
As a part of the exhibit, Sewa Hansiba Museum has brought the unique colorful and rich embroidery arts, applique and mirror work from different communities such as the Ahir, Rabari, Chaudhury Patel and many others from the western part of India online.
The exhibition conducted by Salar Jung Museum brings to light the Sherwani and its journey of becoming the royal fashion statement of the Nizams from 19th century Hyderabad. Fashion and textiles enthusiasts can revisit Colonial Indian attires with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. Over 400 online exhibitions and stories sharing a total of 50,000 photos, videos and other documents on world fashion are open to exploration as well.
The ‘We wear Culture’ initiative highlights significant events in the growth of the world fashion industry; the icons, the movements, the game changers and the trendsetters like Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Audrey Hepburn and many more.
– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang
Premature birth happens when a baby is born before at least 37 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The study found that two-thirds of those born at only 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time
The study also showed that almost 2 percent of those infants later achieved gifted status in school
June 14, 2017: A study following more than 1.3 million premature babies born in Florida found that two-thirds of those born at only 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time, and almost 2 percent of those infants later achieved gifted status in school.
Such very prematurely born babies did score lower on standardized tests than full-term infants, but as the length of pregnancy increased, the differences in test scores became negligible, according to the study, conducted by Northwestern University and published on Monday in JAMA Pediatrics medical journal.
“What excites me about this study is that it changes the focus for the clinician and families at the bedside from just focusing on the medical outcomes of the child to what the future educational outcomes might be for a child born early,” Craig Garfield, the first author of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics and medial social sciences at Northwestern Medicine, said in a statement.
Researchers analyzed the school performance of 1.3 million infants born in Florida from 1992 to 2002 who had a fetal development term of 23 to 41 weeks and who later entered the state’s public schools between 1995 and 2012.
They found that babies born at between 23 and 24 weeks tended to have normal cognitive functions later in life, with 1.8 percent of them even achieving gifted status in school.
During the time period the study covered, 9.5 percent of children statewide were considered gifted.
Premature birth happens when a baby is born before at least 37 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A normal pregnancy term is around 40 weeks, and a preterm birth can lead to serious medical problems, underdevelopment in early childhood or death for the infant.
The study does not account for why these extremely premature infants later performed well in school, Garfield said in the statement, and did not look at whether their success could be related to extra support from family or schools, or the children’s biological make-up. (VOA)