China officials ‘faked water tests with bottled water’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

China officials ‘faked water tests with bottled water’

A row of unbranded plastic water bottlesImage copyright GETTY CREATIVE
Image captionThe officials reportedly faked the data by using bottled water instead of river water

China is sending investigators to Hunan province after local officials were accused of faking data at a water monitoring station, state media report.

The officials are alleged to have placed sensors intended to measure the water quality of Lujiang River inside bottles of mineral water instead.

The river, in Zhuzhou, is badly polluted by sewage water, reports say.

There is widespread suspicion that some local officials and companies in China ignore environmental policies.

The environment ministry says it is investigating in Zhuzhou and “will seriously punish” any “violations”.

One monitoring sensor was even placed in a cup of tea instead of the Lujiang River, Xinhua news agency says.

Water monitoring currently takes place at 2,050 sites in the country, China Daily reports.

The Chinese government has vowed to improve its efforts to monitor and combat pollution – but there continues to be concern about air and water quality in China.

In 2016, one government report said more than 80% of rural wells in the north-east contained water unsafe for drinking.

Meanwhile, a separate 2017 government survey found more than 13,000 companies in China failed to meet environmental standards.

India: Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

220,000 people left homeless in southern Indian state after unusually heavy rain

Play Video
1:35
 ‘Please pray for us’: Kerala experiences worst monsoon in nearly a century – video report

More than 324 people have died in the worst flooding in nearly a century in the south Indian state of Kerala.

Roads are damaged, mobile phone networks are down, an international airport has been closed and more than 220,000 people have been left homeless after unusually heavy rain in the past nine days.

Officials repeatedly revised the death toll upwards from 86 people on Friday morning to more than 300 by the evening as a massive rescue operation reached more flood-hit regions. “Around 100 people died in the last 36 hours alone,” a state official said.

Casualty numbers are expected to increase further, with thousands more people still stranded and less intense though still heavy rain forecast for at least the next 24 hours. Many have died from being buried in hundreds of landslides set off by the flooding.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/08/kerala_floods/giv-3902lxSDbOfGLgX2/

The Kerala chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the state was experiencing an “extremely grave” crisis, with the highest flood warning in place in 12 of its 14 regions.

“We’re witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala,” he told reporters.

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, was on his way to Kerala on Friday evening “to take stock of the flood situation in the state”, he said.

Kerala, famed for its tea plantations, beaches and tranquil backwaters, is frequently saturated during the annual monsoon. But this year’s deluge has swamped at least 20,000 homes and forced people into more than 1,500 relief camps.

People are airlifted to safety in Kerala floods, India.
Pinterest
 People are airlifted to safety. Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters

The toll in Kerala contributed to more than 900 deaths recorded by the Indian home ministry this monsoon season from landslides, flooding and rain.

Rescue workers and members of India’s armed forces have been deployed across the state with fleets of ships and aircraft brought in to save the thousands of people still stranded, many sheltering on their roofs signalling to helicopters for help.

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0:23
 Aerial view shows scale of monsoon flooding in Kerala, India – video

Officials estimated about 6,000 miles (10,000km) of roads had been submerged or buried by landslides and a major international airport in Cochin has been shut until 26 August. Communications networks were also faltering, officials said, making rescue efforts harder to coordinate.

Residents of the state used social media to post desperate appeals for help, sometimes including their GPS coordinates to help guide rescuers.

“My family and neighbouring families are in trouble with flood in Pandanad nakkada area in Alappuzha,” Ajo Varghese said in a viral Facebook post. “No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable and switch off. Please help … No rescue is available.”

Another man in the central town of Chengannur posted a video of himself neck-deep in water in his home. “It looks like water is rising to the second floor,” he says. “I hope you can see this. Please pray for us.”

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0:39
 Kerala floods: man, neck-deep in water, appeals for help from inside his house – video

The fate of the man was still unclear on Friday. The state finance minister, Thomas Isaac, tweeted in the afternoon that the last road to Chengannur had washed away before his eyes and the town was cut off.

The water has claimed parts of Cochin, the state’s commercial capital, and was still rising in some areas of the city on Friday, with residents urged to evacuate and guide ropes strung across roads inundated by fast-moving currents.

Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam.
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 Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

Meteorologists said Kerala had received an average 37.5% more rainfall than usual. The hardest-hit districts such as Idukki in the north received 83.5% excess rain. More than 80 dams across the state had opened their gates to try to ease the crisis, the chief minister said.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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Did cruise ship guards have to kill polar bear?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS AND FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Did cruise ship guards have to kill polar bear? Experts say maybe — but blame climate change

by Kalhan Rosenblatt / 
Image: TOPSHOT-NORWAY-ARCTIC-ANIMALS-POLAR-BEAR

A dead polar bear lies on the beach in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago on July 28, 2018. Norwegian authorities said the polar bear was shot after it attacked and injured a polar guard who was protecting a group of tourists from a cruise ship.Gustav Busch Arntsen / Scanpix via AFP – Getty Images

A German cruise line has received a wave of backlash after its crew members shot and killed a polar bear that had attacked a guard whose job it was to spot and prevent interactions with the animal.

The cruise, a Hapag-Lloyd ship called the MS Bremen, was traveling near the northernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, between mainland Norway and the North Pole, had intended to show the bears off to a group of tourists — and it appears guards on the vessel attempted to scare the bear off before resorting to lethal force, officials said.

Police spokesman Ole Jakob Malmo told the Associated Press that two members of the Bremen’s 12-man crew that set out ahead of tourists on Saturday first tried to ward off the bear “by shouting and making loud noises as well as firing a signal pistol, but to no effect.”

In a statement, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises had said the attack happened when a four-person bear guard team, went on land ahead of the tour.

“One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person,” the statement said. The guard who was injured is in stable condition, according to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises spokesman Moritz Krause.

Experts warn that, as climate change continues to shrink the polar bear’s habitat, the animals are finding themselves face-to-face with humans more often.

“With climate change there’s a lot less sea ice and bears have to spend a lot more time on land. There is definitely more chance of interaction between people and bears,” said Sybille Klenzendorf, senior biologist and senior species expert for the World Wildlife Fund.

“And this is not just for tourism. This is for communities, this is for industry, anybody operating and living in the Arctic has this chance of higher encounters so we have to be prepared in a preventive and proactive manner to prevent conflict with polar bears,” she noted.

Experts told NBC News that in most cases guards have and are able to use a host of methods to deescalate bear encounters before resorting to killing the animal.

“Deterrent methods are extremely successful,” said Brian Horner, the founder and director of LTR Training Solutions in Anchorage, Alaska, which includes bear-guard instruction.

Horner said there are several steps guards can take before killing the animal. A guard who sees a bear can first try to shoot a projectile firework that will cause a bang and scare the animal off, although this requires a precise shot in order to scare the bear backwards rather than forward. Guards also must take care not to start a fire with the flare, Horner said.

Guards can also use a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with blank rounds.

“All it does is make the shotgun make a really big bang. We like those, but our clients don’t like them because it’s 161 decibels, and if you’re not ready, you’re going to have an ear ache,” Horner said.

The next line of defense is rubber bullets before a final non-lethal option: bean bag projectiles. But they can be risky.

“When you’re using bean bags, you’re so close that if it decides it doesn’t like the bean bag, it’s going to run toward you,” Horner said of polar bears.

Klenzendorf said that there are specific rules of engagement that cruise lines are supposed to follow in the region where the killing happened over the weekend, and that polar bear guards are required to limit the chance of interaction between humans and bears. But even to the trained eye, in the Arctic, it’s not an easy task.

“It’s very hard sometimes in the arctic environment to actually see them,” Klenzendorf said of polar bears.

Horner agreed that it can be a challenge for bear guards to spot the animals.

“Polar bears are smart. They’re really smart … and they have to hunt a lot. Polar bears go from curious to interested quickly,” Horner said, adding that “polar bears are sneaky” and likely crept up on the guards.

Fortunately, Klenzendorf said, polar bear guards don’t often end up having fatal interactions with the animals.

“Given that it’s only been the second bear in 20 years of the cruising industry in Svalbard that has been killed, it shows there must be high standards that are being followed for interactions,” she said.

Air Pollution Contributes Significantly to Diabetes Worldwide

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Study: Air Pollution Contributes Significantly to Diabetes Worldwide

Saturday, 30 June, 2018 – 07:15
via GETTY IMAGES
Asharq Al-Awsat
A study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis suggested that there are strong links between outdoor air pollution and an increased risk of diabetes worldwide.

According to the study, air pollution caused one in seven new cases of diabetes in 2016, adding that even low levels raised the chances of developing the chronic disease.

The study estimated that pollution contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases globally in 2016 — or around 14 percent of all new diabetes cases globally that year, AFP reported.

“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, the study’s senior author.

Pollution is believed to affect the production of insulin in the body, “preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health,” the research elaborated.

Al-Aly said the research, published in the Lancet Planetary Health, proved a higher risk even with levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened,” he added.

According to AFP, diabetes affects more than 420 million people globally and is one of the world’s fastest growing diseases.

China’s premier calls for ecological efforts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI NEWS PAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

China’s premier calls for ecological efforts

Xinhua

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday called for efforts in greening and prevention and control of forest fires, floods and droughts to ensure socio-economic growth and the building of an “ecological civilization.”

Li made the remarks in a written instruction to a teleconference on national work in land greening and prevention and control of forest fires, floods and drought held in Beijing on Tuesday.

He instructed governments at all levels to carry out solid work in greening as well as disaster prevention and control, which are pivotal for sustainable development and the security of lives and property.

Extensive land greening programs should be carried out to build a green shield, meeting the annual goal of adding 100 million mu (about 6.7 million hectares) of forests, Li said.

Work in forest fire prevention should be done in a scientific way, while strictly following procedures and preventive measures.

He also called for efforts to enhance preparation for flood and drought by improving water infrastructure and disaster prevention and control abilities.

Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said at the meeting that green resources should be increased via multiple channels, including key forestry projects, and called for efforts to improve ecological protection and develop green industries.

Hu also called for intensified safety supervision and monitoring, urging improvements in emergency planning for disaster prevention and control.

The Pollution in Iran’s Ahwaz Region Turns Deadly

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

The Pollution in Iran’s Ahwaz Region Turns Deadly

Image: public domain from Pixabay.

Severe sandstorms have blanketed Iran’s Ahwaz region again this past week, with people choking as atmospheric dust levels reach 57 times the safety limit set by the World Health Organization. In late January the news broke that citizens were crowding hospitals across the predominantly Arab region—which is desperately poor despite being home to over 95 percent of the oil and gas resources claimed by Iran—complaining of severe shortness of breath and respiratory problems. Between January 21 and 25, three people died from severe respiratory illnesses.

The area is blanketed by a thick smog of sand and visibility is down to under 200 meters. The government has suspended flights to and from regional airports and closed schools, offices and banks across the once-lush province.

In 2013, the city of Ahwaz, the capital of the region, topped the World Health Organization’s list of most polluted cities in the world. According to the report, Ahwaz’s average Air Quality Index score was 372—the global average is around 71—or “Hazardous”. It was the only city on the list with an average value above 300. Reporting on the situation at the time, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) wrote that “contributing factors include desertification caused by river diversion and the draining of the marshes and the oil, petrochemical, metals and sugar and paper processing plants in and around Ahwaz.”

More than four years later, the situation in Ahwaz remains unchanged, and the group most affected are the region’s indigenous Ahwazi Arabs, who have long been discriminated against by successive Iranian governments.

The reason for the high rates of pollution is the accelerating desertification of the region, due to the extensive drying of the rivers and marshes as a result of the massive river-damming and diversion project initiated when Hashemi Rafsanjani became president in 1989. The project has seen millions of gallons of water rerouted from the region’s rivers to other parts of Iran and has intensified the already high rates of pollution and environmental degradation in the region.The dust storms combine with the constant clouds of choking pollution released into the atmosphere by the region’s petrochemical refineries and factories—none of which are subject to any environmental regulations or oversight—and also with the pollution produced by the burning of sugarcane.

Speaking on condition of anonymity due to fears of reprisals by the Iranian regime, an Ahwazi high school student told Global Voices that, “The burning used to take place during the day, but after there were protests by local Arabs chanting ‘We might be able to buy potable water, but we cannot buy clean air!’ they have begun burning it at night. This morning, the school grounds were covered in several centimetres of ash from the burning. I already have severe asthma, and this is making my condition worse.”

Sugarcane in the Ahwaz region

Sugarcane is not indigenous to Iran, but has been cultivated in the region since the 1960s. During the tenure of Hashemi Rafsanjani the government embarked on an ambitious state-subsidized sugarcane-farming project that involved the seizure of thousands of hectares of farmland from Ahwazi farmers whose ancestors had farmed there for generations. Thousands of families were driven into abject destitution as their farmland was converted into vast sugarcane plantations.

These efforts have brought little profit: the sugarcane project has proven economically disastrous, with imports far cheaper than local production. The greater concern, however, is the widespread pollution and environmental devastation it has wrought on a region that was once the breadbasket of the Gulf area. Across the Ahwaz region, in cities like Falahiyeh, Muhammarah and Abadan, massive plantations of palm trees whose produce was famed across the Middle East have either been deliberately destroyed or simply left to wither. Also at serious risk are the region’s flora and fauna, as the Falahiyeh wetlands and the Hor-Azim wetlands are almost completely destroyed.

Sugar refineries are depleting the already scarce supply of river water for their water-intensive processes, and polluting the region’s remaining rivers and streams by pumping untreated chemicals used in the sugar-cleaning and refining process back into the waterways. This leaves the water downstream unusable and high in saline, which destroys the arable lands of the region’s poor Ahwazi farmers.

Then there’s the burning of the sugarcane, which takes place on plantations around the Ahwazi capital and other cities in the region before the May-November harvest. The smoke from burning sugar cane is thick and heavy due to the dense sugar and alcohol content; instead of drifting upward it blows across the land, causing severe and sometimes fatal respiratory and skin problems among the population.

The heavy toll on health

At the end of January, at least three Ahwazi Arabs were reported to have died as a result of respiratory problems caused or exacerbated by the region’s severe air pollution. One of them, 43-year-old Kareem Abdul Khani from the city of Susa, who suffered from chronic asthma, was rushed to the city’s Mafi Hospital on January 21 after complaining of dizziness and difficulty breathing due to the severe pollution in the area, which greatly exceeded usual levels. He died the following day.

The second man, 47-year-old Hamid Hamdian from Mollasani County near Ahwaz city, had been suffering from respiratory disease for some time. He died suddenly after being overcome by severe breathing problems.

The third man, 34-year-old Ahmed Chenani from Hamidieh city, 30 kilometers west of Ahwaz, died from chronic respiratory problems on the night of January 25, after suffocating from the air pollution blanketing the area. Family members who rushed him to the Golestan Hospital in Ahwaz city, said that the lack of adequate medical facilities and the negligence of medical staff contributed to his death.

Rates of cancer in the region are also rising. A member of the medical staff at a hospital in Ahwaz who, like other interviewees, wished to remain anonymous, said that ten years ago the hospital had 40 beds that were largely underused. In recent years, the hospital has become overrun with cancer patients.

All this is a huge price to pay, especially for the indigenous Ahwazi Arabs, who are still denied all but the most menial jobs in sugarcane and oil—the two industries wreaking havoc on their home region‚—while ethnic Persians are brought in from other parts of Iran and offered high wages and modern, purpose-built housing in segregated settlements. Despite being natives of the wealthiest region in Iran in terms of resources, the majority of the Ahwazi people live in medieval conditions under a de facto apartheid system.

32 Missing After Ships Collide Off China’s Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

The Panama-registered tanker "Sanchi" is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China's eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
The Panama-registered tanker “Sanchi” is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China’s eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
Korea Coast Guard/AP

By GERRY SHIH / AP

9:49 AM EST

(BEIJING) — An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s east coast, leaving the tanker’s entire crew of 32 missing and causing it to spill oil into the sea, authorities said Sunday.

Chinese authorities dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene after the collision, which happened late Saturday. The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and a plane to help search for the missing crew members — 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257 kilometers (160 miles) off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport said.

All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, were rescued, the ministry said. The Crystal’s crew members were all Chinese nationals.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision.

State-run China Central Television reported Sunday evening that the tanker was still floating and burning, and that oil was visible in the water.

It was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil. The size of the oil slick caused by the accident also was not known.

Earlier Sunday, Chinese state media carried pictures of the tanker on fire with large plumes of smoke.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 metric tons (150,000 tons, or nearly 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels into Prince William Sound off Alaska in 1989.

The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the U.N.-run International Maritime Organization. The IMO listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd., on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Co., a publicly traded company based in Tehran. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

An official in Iran’s Oil Ministry, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said 30 of the tanker’s 32 crew members were Iranians.

“We have no information on their fate,” he said. “We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.”

The official said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and had been rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co. He said the tanker was on its way to South Korea.

Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil giant Total. Total did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker Co. in less than a year and a half. In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the Singapore Strait, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spill.

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White House: 200 Year Old ‘Jackson Magnolia Tree’ To Be Removed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

A large portion of a famed Jackson magnolia tree, at left, will be removed, White House officials said Tuesday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

The enormous magnolia tree stood watch by the South Portico of the White House for nearly two centuries. Its dark green, glossy leaves shaded politicians and heads of state. Its ivory flowers bloomed through times of peace and war. It is the oldest tree on the White House grounds, a witness to Easter egg rolls and state ceremonies, a resignation, a plane crash, all the tumult and triumph of 39 presidencies.

But the iconic magnolia is now too old and badly damaged to remain in place, the White House announced Tuesday. At the recommendation of specialists from the National Arboretum, first lady Melania Trump called for a large portion of the tree to be removed this week.

The decision, first reported by CNN, comes after decades of attempts to hold the aged tree up with a steel pole and cables. Arboretum experts said that rigging is now compromised and that the wood of the magnolia’s trunk is too delicate for further interventions. Any other tree in that condition would have been cut down years ago.

But this is not any other tree. According to White House lore, the stately evergreen was brought to Washington as a seedling by Andrew Jackson. The magnolia was a favorite tree of his wife, Rachel, who had died just days after he was elected. Jackson blamed the vicious campaign — during which his political opponents questioned the legitimacy of his marriage — for his wife’s untimely death.

The new planting, which came from the couple’s Tennessee farm, the Hermitage, would serve as a living monument to her in the place she despised; before her death, Rachel had reportedly said, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than live in that palace at Washington.”

Long after Jackson left office, his magnolia remained. Other trees were planted to supplement it, and the tree became a fixture in White House events. Herbert Hoover reportedly took breakfast and held Cabinet meetings at a table beneath its sprawling branches. Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke with Winston Churchill in its shade. Richard Nixon strode past it as he left the White House for the last time after his resignation. In 1994, a Maryland man piloting a stolen plane clipped the tree before suffering a deadly crash against the White House wall. And for decades, the magnolia was featured on the back of the $20 bill.

“No tree on the White House grounds can reveal so many secrets of romance and history,” longtime White House butler Alonzo Fields once told the Associated Press.

In 2006, when the National Park Service initiated a “Witness Tree Protection Program” to study historically and biologically important trees in the Washington area, the Jackson magnolia was at the top of the program’s list. By then, the tree was tall enough to reach the White House’s second-story windows and had already eclipsed the minimum life expectancy for its species — about 150 years.

According to a report from the NPS program, workers attempted to repair a gash in the tree in the 1940s. But within a few decades, much of the interior portion of the tree had decayed, leaving behind a “rind” of brittle wood. Those surviving portions were held in place by a 30-foot pole and guy-wires. “It is doubtful that without this external support the specimen would long survive,” the report said.

Ultimately, those measures could not allay safety concerns about the tree, said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham. Visitors and members of the press are frequently standing right in front of the magnolia when the president departs on Marine One; the high winds from the helicopter could make a limb collapse more likely.

Keith Pitchford, a D.C.-based certified arborist, is familiar with the Jackson magnolia but has not professionally assessed it. He wondered whether the removal may be premature: “If you can lower the tree and make it a bit more squat, it really prolongs the life of these trees we thought were hazardous,” he said.

According to Grisham, the first lady requested that wood from the magnolia be preserved and seedlings be made available for a possible replanting in the same area.

Already, progeny of the historic tree are thriving in other spots nationwide. It’s said that Lyndon B. Johnson had a seedling from the magnolia planted outside a friend’s home in Texas so that when Lady Bird stayed there she could look out the window and imagine the president at work in the White House. Ronald Reagan gifted a cutting to chief of staff Howard Baker Jr. for his retirement in 1988. Then-first lady Michelle Obama donated a seedling to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “people’s garden” in 2009.

Jackson’s original magnolia at the Hermitage was destroyed along with hundreds of other trees during a devastating tornado in the late 1990s. It was ultimately replaced by new trees donated from the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tenn. According to Michael Grantham, gardens manager for the Hermitage, staff always said that those trees were clones of the White House magnolia — but without an identifying label, no one knew for sure. So Grantham sent tissue samples to a plant genetics lab at Cornell University.

“It was not an exact match,” he said. “What we got was probably seedlings from underneath the tree.”

Someday, Grantham would like to bring a cutting, or an exact clone, of the White House magnolia back to the Hermitage. “I know there are some out there,” he said. In those trees, Jackson’s two-century-old tribute lives on.

Adrian Higgins contributed to this report.

(Humanity Poem) Culture, Up Bringing, Police, And The Heart

Culture, Up Bringing, Police, And The Heart

 

Culture is just what it is you say, so no blame here or there, just chance

Dictating life, street life, who to rob, who to cap, gun smoke, not so sweet

Education, Religion, is it really only for the weak who work to get ahead

Staying alive day-to-day, avoiding 5-0 like a plague, give yourself a chance

True, the world can be a cold-cold Witch, Dead behind the Mask we wear

Cuddled in at your own Crib tonight, are you and your family in safety’s bliss

Hate, anger, fear, blood in our streets, God please save us from our selves

# Me Too: But, From A Different Perspective

# Me Too: But From A Different Perspective 

 

As most folks know by now there has been a lot of attention being paid to sexual abuse of women in the media lately and the call sign for this movement is #Me-Too. I am by no means a person who pays any attention to the Hollywood scene so I do not know who the movers and shakers are in that ‘world’, nor do I care to be. Evidently a couple of weeks ago a bigwig male Producer was accused by several women of sexually abusing them and this started the conversation about powerful men who have been sexually abusing ladies for many decades. If I had been asked a month ago what was meant by sexual abuse I would have thought they were talking about rape or attempted rape. Reality is sexual abuse goes much further than just trying to have sex with a lady who did not want to have sex with you. I would have thought that sexual abuse would have been along the line of the ‘Directors couch’ where if you wanted to get the part in one of their movies, you had to give out sexual favors. In the business world, I would have equated it to if a woman wanted to get the promotion they had to spread their legs or get on their knees. Reality is ladies getting their butts slapped or their tits grabbed is definitely sexual abuse/harassment also. But this article today is not about sexual harassment, but it is about another (Me Too), concerning women, and some men, and not just gay men.

 

I am a straight man so I can only relay my personal experiences from this angle. I have been married now for 18 years and I have not touched another woman in a sexual manner even once since we first got together back in 1999. What I am writing this article about is women being the brunt of physical abuse as in being punched and kicked, beaten. In my life, I was blessed to know many women and there was one thing that I came across over and over again and that was that every single woman that I have ever got to know had been physically beaten by a man, and usually more than one in their life. I was raised to respect women, I loved women and I definitely enjoyed the sex, but I never struck a lady for saying no. There were a few times in my life when a lady and I were well on the path to having sex when the woman for whatever her reason changed her mind and wanted to stop. Each of those times I put my hands up and did not touch her again, at all.

 

Think about guys who rape women, or even men. To me this is stupid, there are plenty of women everywhere who like to have sex just as much as the guys do. But, if you are so scummy or ugly that you can’t get a knothole in a tree to play with you then its time to find a woman or a guy if that is your persuasion, who excepts cash or credit cards. What I am getting at is, there is no reason for anyone to sexually force themselves onto a person who is telling you no! Then comes the physical aggression bit, why does anyone think that they have the right to rape, punch or kick another person? Machoism is the only thing that I can think of. Think of the situation of prisons where a person thinks they are such a bad ass that they will physically beat another person up, then rape them, you know, showing everyone else ‘who the man is’. These are the same ‘men’ who will say, hell no, I ain’t gay. All I have to say to that is, really. If you are willing to touch another person of the same sex as yourself in a sexual manner, guess what, your gay! But really this article isn’t about being gay or not being gay. This article is about physical aggression that is put upon women by men. To me, I was always taught that only a coward physically strikes a woman, not a man.

 

Think about it, my personal experience with women in my lifetime that I have gotten to know well enough where we could just talk as friends and every single one of them had been beaten by a ‘man’. This even applies to my wife and to my x-wife. Folks, this is sickening, there is no excuse for this to exist in our society, yet it does. What is it going to take to get this monster brought out of the closet, the President beating up the First Lady, in public? We need to have a movement called #Me-Too in regards to the physical beatings women are having to face in our society. How can we honestly say we have a civilized society with all this violence toward women, both sexually, or with the fist?

 

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