Crinkling News: Australia’s only children’s newspaper to close


Powered by article titled “Crinkling News: Australia’s only children’s newspaper to close” was written by Guardian staff, for on Tuesday 16th January 2018 12.51 Asia/Kolkata

Crinkling News, Australia’s only children’s newspaper, has announced it will no longer be published.

In a joint statement, the founders of the newspaper, Saffron Howden and Remi Bianchi, said: “Two years ago, we left our careers in journalism for grown-ups and put all our personal savings into launching Australia’s only national newspaper for kids.

“We are very sorry to say we cannot keep publishing the newspaper with the resources we have.”

Journalist Howden and designer Bianchi, who pooled their redundancy payouts from Fairfax Media to start the newspaper, said: “We have stretched every cent of our modest personal savings and those donated through a crowdfunding campaign as far as humanly possible. We have rigorously pursued every new opportunity to diversify.

“We do not believe there is anyone who could have achieved more with the funds available or made them stretch any further in this market and environment and maintain the high standards for which Crinkling News is known.”

In May last year an 11th-hour appearance at a Senate select committee into public interest journalism and a whirlwind of publicity helped Crinkling News to stay in print after a fundraising goal of $200,000 was reached after the venture ran out of seed funding.

“To address the creeping influence of fake news, so-called alternative facts, clickbait and the selection by social media platforms of the information to which we are exposed, we need to start educating children at a young age,” Howden told the senators. “In short, we need to develop media literacy in Australia.”

The publishing venture, based in the Blue Mountains, cultivated a growing national subscriber base, a band of adoring young readers, grateful parents and rave reviews from teachers.

Crinkling News said last year’s crowdfunding campaign raised $212,303, of which $19,477 had to be paid to the crowdfunding platform and the payment processing system used.

It said that of the $192,826 remaining, $53,133.15 went to servicing new subscriptions to the newspaper and perks that people claimed as part of their crowdfunding contribution.

It said the remaining $139,692.85 went to producing an additional eight months of quality journalism for children – paying professional journalists, photographers and cartoonists across the nation to produce the newspaper. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Daily Encouragement, Spirituality


Here is Daily Guidance from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda for January 16.

FIRST of all, lets tear down any walls within our minds. For it is often the case that we ourselves determine our limits.

WE live in a world today where many think only about themselves and forget about those who are suffering. Yet all of you are striving day in and day out for the sake of humanity and working for the welfare of society. This is why people the world over place their trust and confidence in us. This is why people the world over find hope for the new century in the SGI.

STRONG are those who plant firm roots, tirelessly exert themselves, and create an unshakable foundation wherever they go. Such people are in fact creating their own eternal foundation of good fortune and benefit.

“THE Gohonzon is found in faith alone,” the Daishonin declared. If we have faith, the Gohonzon will manifest itself in our lives. Those who enshrine the Gohonzon yet do not practise faith (as the Daishonin taught), however, will receive no benefit. The Gosho strictly sets forth this principle of causality.

LIFE is a struggle. In a struggle, the person with the strongest desire to win triumphs. In the long journey of kosen-rufu, too, you must proceed forward with determined courage. With bold vigour, stride forever forward to grasp the laurel crown of triumph as an individual and for human society.

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Haryana, North India

Haryana CM Manohar Lal takes strong exception to criticism of the presentation of Srimad Bhagavad Gita to the President of India

Manohar Lal
Manohar Lal
Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Lal addressing the trainees of Basic Training Course in Police Training Centre at Madhuban in Karnal on January14, 2018.

North India Kaleidoscope Bureau


Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal has taken strong exception to those who have criticized the presentation of holy  Srimad Bhagavad Gita valued at Rs 38,500  to the President of India on Gita Jayanti and termed this gesture of the State Government as wastage of money.

 Talking with the media in Karnal, he said that The Gita was bought from a reputed company at a cost of Rs 37,900 as against its price of  Rs 38,500. “Those who do not know the meaning or value of Gita could term it as wastage of money,” he added. One could easily make out the worth of the book by its look. He further asserted, “Those who criticize the high price of the book of Gita should be condemned.”

On a question regarding the ban on screening of movie Padmavati, Mr. Manohar Lal said, “The Censor Board has made many cuts in this film but any decision about the screening of the film in the State would only be taken after watching the film”.

While dispelling superstitions, the Chief Minister said that there was a misconception among some people that in case any Chief Minister visits Police Training Centre in Madhuban, it would be inauspicious for him. “Today I am elated to break this 17-year-old misconception. The training centre where our police personnel are imparted training, cannot be inauspicious,” he added.

Referring to the Panipat rape case, Mr. Manohar Lal said the police had arrested the accused and also identified the accused in the Jind rape case who too would soon be arrested.

While addressing the 4,358 recruited constables of 84th batch, the Chief Minister said that their recruitment was purely on the basis of merit and 46 percent constables of this batch were graduate and postgraduate.  He said that these constables would aptly use their education in the service of society and the state.

He alleged that three years ago, the youth had to make many visits to the leaders for employment but “in his regime, the recruitment is done on the basis of merit.”

He further asserted that under e-Governance, corruption has been curbed in the state. Online transfers of teachers had been made to the places of their choice. Many schemes initiated by the Central government have benefitted the people of all sections of the society.  Due to the transparent policy adopted by the state government, the budget had been enhanced. He said that so far, interviews had been conducted for 35,000 jobs and to fill up class III and IV posts next time, there would be no interview.

He announced that all constables of Haryana Police would be given warm jackets and one off day in a week.

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Education Environment Health S&T, ENVIRONMENT

‘Pesky little birds’: corella culls planned in Western Australia


Powered by article titled “‘Pesky little birds’: corella culls planned in Western Australia” was written by Calla Wahlquist, for on Monday 15th January 2018 06.00 Asia/Kolkata

Regional councils in Western Australia are using fireworks, lethal gas, nets, and mass shooting to reduce the number of corellas, which are reportedly damaging buildings and destroying infrastructure.

The culprits are primarily eastern long-billed corellas, Cacatua tenuirostris, which were introduced to WA as a popular aviary bird.

Aviary escapees bred to create large wild flocks, which pose a threat to endemic birds such as the three WA subspecies of corella and local black cockatoos by competing for food and nesting spots.

Regional towns in mid- and south-west WA receive an increasing number of complaints about the birds each year, which the ABC reports have stripped rubber sealing from windows and damaged copper wiring.

Geraldton’s mayor, Shane van Styn, said the birds “don’t just eat, they destroy”.

He put the annual damage bill at $400,000, and told the ABC attempts to scare the birds away had not worked.

“We’re going to kill a few of these pesky little birds, and hopefully that sends a clear message to them to rack off,” Van Styn said. “They will be netted after being lured to the ground using wheat or any other nice snacks that they might like to consume, at which point they’ll be rounded up and taken to a place to be humanely gassed.”

The plan in Bunbury is similar: scatter grain, cast a net and shoot them at point-blank range with a rifle.

An earlier attempt to use fireworks to scare the birds away was not successful because the flocks reconvened nearby.

Busselton, 5okm south of Bunbury, warned residents it planned to use an artificial noisemaker that made “a loud whistle similar to a small fireworks rocket” to frighten the birds.

Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions guidelines say culling corellas is an option of last resort, but that trapping and shooting quickly with a low-powered rifle was the most humane option. It issued permits for the culling of 2,000 birds last year.

“Frightened corellas will injure themselves and other birds, so they must be euthanased as quickly and humanely as possible after trapping,” it said. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Green Tara Energy Circle

Green Tara

Green Tara Energy Circle-courtesy Switchword Remedies Group on Facebook

Green Tara

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Education, Education Environment Health S&T

Tiny dinosaur that roamed ‘lost world’ between Australia and Antarctica identified


Powered by article titled “Tiny dinosaur that roamed ‘lost world’ between Australia and Antarctica identified” was written by Michael McGowan, for on Sunday 14th January 2018 08.57 Asia/Kolkata

More than 10 years after fossils were discovered sticking out of a rock platform in Victoria’s remote south-west, scientists have identified a new dinosaur that once roamed the “lost world” between Australia and Antarctica.

Foot and tail fossils found in 113-million-year-old rocks near Cape Otway in 2005 have led to the discovery of a turkey-sized herbivore which lived in the Australian-Antarctic rift valley.

The dinosaur – named Diluvicursor Pickeringi, meaning Pickering’s flood-running dinosaur – ran on two strong hind legs and probably weighed between 3 or 4 kilograms.

The fossil was buried along with flood-transported tree stumps, logs and branches in deep scours at the base of what was once a powerful river.

Matt Herne from the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences said the discovery helped demonstrate the diversity of the dinosaur life that populated the ancient rift valley that once connected Australia to Antarctica.

“It shows for the first time that there were at least two distinct body-types among closely related ornithopods, small, two-legged grazing dinosaurs, in this part of Australia,” he said.

Fossil of Diluvicursor Pickeringi dinosaur discovered in south-west Victoria.
Fossil of Diluvicursor Pickeringi dinosaur discovered in south-west Victoria. Photograph: Supplied by Matt Herne, University of Queensland

“One called Leaellynasaura was lightly built with an extraordinarily long tail, while the other, Diluvicursor, was more solidly built, with a far shorter tail.”

Bordered to its east by a massive active volcanic mountain range that fed sediment into the valley via a series of large rivers, scientists believe the valley was likely to have been a “lush, fertile environment”.

“We don’t know the exact climatic conditions. Some scientists believe it would have been really quite cold because of its location on the edge of the Antarctic circle, but others, and I’m one, think it was probably warmer, maybe a climate similar to Sydney.”

After discovering the fossils in 2005, Herne said it had taken until now to fully understand the geology of the valley.

“Much of the fossil vertebrate material from this site has yet to be described, so we hope to discover further dinosaur species, specimens and other exciting animals there,” he said.

Among the other discoveries were rodent-sized mammals, turtles, and possibly a species of flying reptile.

“Understanding the ecology of these dinosaurs – what they ate, how they moved, where they roamed – based on the interplay between anatomy and the environment presents exciting challenges for future research,” Herne said. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Entertainment Films Shopping, Features

Saoirse Ronan: teen talent that grew into true stardom


Powered by article titled “Saoirse Ronan: teen talent that grew into true stardom” was written by Vanessa Thorpe, for The Observer on Sunday 14th January 2018 05.35 Asia/Kolkata

Film stars frequently rise to their place in the showbusiness firmament trailing a glittering series of lead roles and fiery celebrity feuds behind them. Others, like Saoirse Ronan, appear there suddenly, twinkling down benignly.

The Golden Globe-winner, now an A-list performer despite being only 23, is the open-faced, unpretentious Irish-American actor whose starring role in the acclaimed new film Lady Bird, along with forthcoming lead parts in the films Mary Queen of Scots, On Chesil Beach and The Seagull, is about to heavily underline her arrival in the first rank of talent. Yet reaching the top of the casting directors’ wishlists has been quietly achieved, through a succession of carefully delineated roles in unusual and complex films, such as Brooklyn, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Atonement.

Ronan’s latest performance, as the bolshy Sacramento teenager known as Lady Bird, has earned her awards and nominations in abundance. According to the New York Times, she plays the part, which is loosely based on the young life of the writer and director Greta Gerwig, “with daunting, dauntless precision”. She is already, the newspaper suggests, one of “the most formidable screen actors” of the day.

Fellow stars are also impressed. “Saoirse doesn’t have a dishonest bone in her body and that translates directly into her work, on to the screen,” Colin Farrell has said.

And as if all this early exposure and praise for her film work isn’t enough, Ronan also took to the Broadway stage with aplomb a year and a half ago as Abigail Williams in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. She was “the face of this production” as far as the Hollywood Reporter was concerned, “icy and commanding in her first stage appearance”. What’s more, Ronan turned up last year in Ed Sheeran’s video for his hit song Galway Girl. With the exception of this little pop outing (and perhaps her cameo in Muppets: Most Wanted) the actor is distinguished by a succession of rather sober career choices. She has taken risks with sophisticated screenplays, instead of opting for obvious crowdpleasers.

The fate of Lady Bird has become something of a Hollywood cause célèbre, although it is still a month before the film is released in Britain. As the teenager who insists her given name is Lady Bird – in the sense that she gave it to herself – Ronan is carrying much of the weight of this female-centred drama at a moment when such factors are especially significant. So when the film was ignored in the best director category at last Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony many sculpted eyebrows were raised, especially as it went on to win as best film, while Ronan won as best actor. Awards presenter Natalie Portman spoke for many of those clad in black that night when she queried the line-up of male nominees. Things have been set straight since with a Director’s Guild of America nomination for Gerwig, although only Ronan was recognised in the Bafta line-up.

Accepting her shining gong last week, Ronan mentioned that her mother was not with her for the ceremony, but was watching on Facetime. This prompted the Irish press to find out why. She was, it has been revealed, staying at home to mind a new puppy, Fran. It might sound odd to miss such a family triumph, but then Mrs Ronan has not been short of reasons to be proud.

Her daughter, who was born in the Bronx in New York City, has already been widely nominated for awards during her short career: first at the age of 13 for her fateful role as Briony Tallis in the 2007 film of Ian McEwan’s Atonement and then as the luminously reserved Irish immigrant, Eilis, in Brooklyn, adapted from Colm Toíbín’s novel in 2015.

Ronan in Joe Wright’s film version of Atonement, for which she was nominated for an Oscar.
Ronan in Joe Wright’s film version of Atonement, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Photograph: Shutterstock

In fact, her own parents’ story is not so far removed from the transatlantic questing in that story, although Paul and Monica Ronan’s attempts to make a new life away from Ireland belong to a later era. Her father worked on building sites and then behind a bar, while her mother took a job as a nanny. After trying out as an actor, her father went on to work on a series of films, appearing with Brad Pitt in The Devil’s Own. But his daughter now claims family memories of that tough time are sobering when Tinseltown threatens to dazzle.

“They had to struggle for a long time,” she has said. “Ma watched dad lose out on parts or star in shows off-off-Broadway and make buttons. She watched these really talented people never get the shot they deserved,” she has said. “So they prepared me to be realistic. And that’s good, because the moment fame becomes a priority, you should give it up.”

The young family eventually moved back to Co Carlow in Ireland, which accounts for Ronan’s lilting Irish brogue. Early on, she won a role in an Irish soap show called The Clinic, and going to school soon became problematic. Neither of Ronan’s parents had enjoyed the academic life. Monica had left school at 15 after “trouble with the nuns” and her father had not done much better. So when Ronan began to feel that her teachers and fellow pupils were “giving her a hard time”, she opted for home schooling instead.

“Some of the students were, you know, mean. But when your schoolmates recognise you before they’ve met you, and the teachers do too, it can make things very awkward and difficult,” she has said.

Her big break came with Atonement, a part she secured because she had worked with the dialect coach involved on the film on another aborted film project. By dint of her skill, Ronan was cast against type as Keira Knightley’s little sister. “Briony was supposed to be this brown-haired, brown-eyed, middle-class English girl – she was supposed to look like she was related to Keira,” says Ronan, gesturing to her pale skin, freckles and blond hair.

Although Briony is the catalyst for all the pain in the story, Ronan has always staunchly defended her. “People say Briony’s a bitch, and she’s not. She’s not vindictive or spiteful. It’s just that she doesn’t express her emotions; she just sits and observes everything.”

This relationship with McEwan’s fictional characters will continue this year with the release of On Chesil Beach, in which she plays his troubled honeymooner, Florence.

In the recent screen adaptation of Brooklyn, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.
In the recent screen adaptation of Brooklyn, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. Photograph: Kerry Brown/AP

Ronan’s career understandably took off after Atonement, which had earned her an Oscar nomination, with a leading role in the 2009 adaptation of Alice Sebold’s dark bestseller The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter Jackson, and an outing as a vampire in Neil Jordan’s 2013 horror film Byzantium. Jordan, best known for making Mona Lisa and The Crying Game, responded in particular to Ronan’s “stillness”. “When she begins to act she is so totally possessed that it’s quite spooky,” he said then. “People say that some actors are naturals. Well, with Saoirse, it almost feels unnatural.”

“A certain amount of technicality comes into it,” she says. “It’s about understanding the camera: how it works, what it will pick up. It all goes very quiet on set. You can feel the atmosphere when everyone knows how important the shot is. The camera’s like a friend, sitting down, that’s just all ears, and wants you to pour your heart out. It stares – that’s its way of listening.”

With growing fame in America and Britain came a continuing struggle for Ronan: that of getting people to pronounce her name correctly. She has learned, she says, to respond obligingly to a wide variety of sounds beginning with “S”. Even the poster for the Golden Globes a few years ago spelled her name Sarise by mistake. “You actually say it Sairsha,” she has explained. “But you can also say it Sersha, or Seersha.”

She will be swapping Irish roots for Scottish with the release of Mary Queen of Scots later this year. The film, based on John Guy’s study of Queen Elizabeth I’s ill-fated cousin, is directed by Josie Rourke, artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, who announced her departure from the job last week. Margot Robbie will play the queen, and Ronan will play Mary Stuart, who had to endure the eyes of the world on her at a tender age.

If there is one star who has had to learn to perfect teenage composure in the face of early public scrutiny, it is Ronan. It is only adopting the airs and graces of regal authority that will require a bit of imagination in this role.


Born 12 April 1994 in the Bronx, New York City, the only child of Irish parents. Her family moved to Dublin when she was three.

Her breakthrough performance was playing the teenager Briony Tallis in Atonement (2007), earning her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. She has also starred in The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Brooklyn (2015) and Lady Bird (2017), for which she won the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Haryana, North India

Canada evinces keen interest in investing and catalyzing investments in Haryana

North India Kaleidoscope Bureau


Appreciating the proactive and investor-friendly approach of the Haryana government, Canada has evinced keen interest in investing and catalyzing investments in Haryana.

A delegation of the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), led by President Kanwar Dhanjal called on Chief Minister Manohar Lal here and invited him and the officers of the state government to visit Canada for furthering the relationship and exploring investment opportunities.

While stating that his government would provide all possible facilitation to investors, the Chief Minister laid emphasis on such projects and sectors as would not only generate investments but also create employment avenues and ensure balanced growth of the state.

”A mechanism should be put in place to ensure continuous dialogue between the two sides. Being priority sectors, skill development and agro and food processing offered great potential in Haryana. The state is keen on supporting and promoting the agriculture sector by way of assured pricing and development of the food processing sector,” he added.

Mr. Dhanjal said the ICCC was a non-profit, non-partisan organisation, founded more than four decades ago. Its mission includes promoting business, professional, and general well-being of Indo-Canadians; creating positive awareness of the high degree of contribution of the Indo-Canadian business and professional community; facilitating business and trade opportunities between Canada and India, and Indian diaspora throughout the world.

Delegates from diverse sectors representing food processing, information technology, hospitality, legal services, skill development, interacted and exchanged views regarding avenues for investments and joint-business opportunities. They also mentioned some of the areas where expertise from Canada in skill development, urban farming and agro and food processing can be effectively utilised in the state.

Principal Secretary, Industries Sudhir Rajpal briefed the delegates about various initiatives taken by the state government and emphasized that there was great scope for MSME investments in Haryana, as they constituted a major source of employment.

Chairman, Foreign Investment and NRI Cell, Dr. Ashwin Johar, said the state was keen on foreign investments in general and by NRIs in particular, as these would be mutually beneficial and rewarding. Organizations like HAFED can explore Canada as a potential market for its products, he added.

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Education Environment Health S&T, Health

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about my colonoscopy (but never dared to ask)


Powered by article titled “Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about my colonoscopy (but never dared to ask)” was written by Mona Chalabi, for on Saturday 13th January 2018 16.30 Asia/Kolkata

The thing about writers – the thing that makes us hated and occasionally liked – is that very often we have our heads up our asses. There are two ways that people in my profession can address this.

We could develop a deeper sense of humility, looking beyond ourselves and try to use our voices to amplify the experiences of other people in this cruel, cruel world.

Or: we could bring you into our asses with us.

It’s January, a month where we tend to fall short of our ambitions, so I’m going to opt for the more realistic choice here. But before I invite you on a guided tour of my colon, there’s something you should know about it – it is not a happy place. It has not been happy for a very long time.

From the age of about 20, I’ve had inexplicable stomach aches accompanied by a red liquid that would dye a clear bowl of water or a bundle of white tissue. But I ignored it. Even when there was a lot of it. Even when I started to feel faint. The only person that could witness this was me, alone in the toilet stall and after a while, the only witness stopped noticing. For 10 years, I ignored it.

But early last year, something strange happened. My stomach started to hurt more than usual. The next day I had to take painkillers. A week later it hurt to sit down, it hurt to stand up and I had to go home early from work.

When I realized it was affecting my job, I started to see what I had been ignoring.

The first thing I did was research prevalence. About 16% of all adults experience some blood loss from the bum according to a survey of 1,643 adults published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Source: American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2017
Source: American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2017 Illustration: Mona Chalabi

Another study found that that 59% of people who experience rectal bleeding have never sought any medical advice.

The contrarian in me decided to book an appointment with a gastroenterologist. To find one, like any good New Yorker, I turned to Yelp.

People have a lot to say about being sedated and probed. People like Nancy C in Manhattan, who issued a one-star review about her “south of the border colonoscopy” (what other kind is there?). She was infuriated, in part, that when she woke up she was greeted by orange juice rather than a cookie. Nancy seemed like a smart woman. I heeded her advice and booked an appointment elsewhere.

The night before the procedure you have to drink a liquid designed to “clean your system”, which is a gentle way of putting it. The drink makes you shit and shit and shit and shit until you’re shitting water so clear that your bum could be an Evian volcano. By the time you arrive for the procedure, you haven’t eaten anything for 24 hours, you haven’t slept and your stomach aches from the constant fart-clenching.

After getting changed, a nurse wheeled me into a small room with two huge TV screens where a camera inching through my colon would be projected like an episode of Blue Planet. The anesthetist came in and injected me with something. I got halfway through a sentence explaining that the injection wasn’t working and then woke up wondering where the hell my cookies were.

A week later, the doctor called to discuss my results with me.

On her desk lay five pages stapled together with photos of me on them. Specifically, photos of my colon. Using the tip of her pen, she gently pointed to different areas and explained that I had a slight tear to my rectum, but the pain didn’t quite seem to match up to the injury. She suggested eating more fiber and gave me a prescription for a suppository (which is currently tucked behind some sunscreen on a shelf in my bathroom).

On the train home, I took out her report and studied the pictures a little closer to see if she had missed something. I wondered if a string of veins might have been turned from blue to a wine-purple after Donald Trump was sworn in. A little smooth area that glowed white from the camera’s flash suddenly struck me as a chunk of my stomach lining that might have worn away as I watched the news in the days that followed.

The truth is, we really do have “gut-wrenching” experiences because our brains and our stomachs are closely related. In a review of 13 studies, patients who tried a psychological approach saw greater improvements in their digestive issues than those who didn’t.

Maybe the doctor who had inspected my inner workings had missed something important. We use euphemisms even when we’re talking to ourselves. Our bodies are even capable of this linguistic device. My stomach hurt because my brain couldn’t speak my anxiety to me about a new political reality.

Euphemisms make our world more comfortable. We say bathroom even when there’s no bath in sight, and we generally stay away from words like shit and blood though they are the substances of life. These are little gentle sidesteps from the truth. Tiny verbal hugs in a scary world. The scarier the world becomes, the more tempting it is to deal in them. But I think now, more than ever we need to speak the truth as plainly as we can to ourselves and to each other.

This piece was first performed at Chris Duffy’s You Get A Spoon in December 2017 © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Education Environment Health S&T, Health

I love my job as a prison psychologist. But it’s time I was paid fairly


Powered by article titled “I love my job as a prison psychologist. But it’s time I was paid fairly” was written by Anonymous, for on Saturday 13th January 2018 15.58 Asia/Kolkata

Over the past 10 years I have seen a lot. Being a prison forensic psychologist is not a job for the faint hearted, but I love it.

As a forensic psychologist I am closely involved in assessing and treating criminal behaviour. I frequently go to parole board hearings and advise on whether violent and sexual offenders are suitable for release. It took an undergraduate degree, a masters and an ongoing professional development diploma to get here. It is a huge responsibility – and yet my salary is £29,000. I take home just £1,500 a month.

My colleagues and I feel undervalued. It is taken for granted that we will continue to work for the public sector out of love and loyalty. But the sector cannot rely on employees’ goodwill alone forever.

The government’s austerity measures have impacted me in other ways too. I have been assaulted at work because there aren’t enough officers around to ensure civilian staff are protected in the work they do. They are similarly undervalued, underpaid and overstretched.

My colleagues and I have been stretched further and further, so we are now providing the bare bones – and I do sometimes fear for my safety.

We are all expected to carry on, regardless of the threats and the struggle to make ends meet, because of the love of the job. That was once enough – but now I want to start a family, and that requires more income.

Advising on whether prisoners are suitable for release can take weeks. Weeks of interviewing the prisoner, reading their file information, reviewing their behaviour on the wing, checking their correspondence. Weeks of speaking to the staff who work with them, liaising with the security department and the probation service.

And then come the big decisions about whether prisoners need more treatment; whether they can go to a lower category prison without risk of trying to escape; or whether they can be safely released. I have to ask myself if I am confident they can return to society without harming someone else. And if they did, how would I live with myself knowing I had advised the parole board that I thought they were ready?

I have seen profound changes in prisoners I’ve worked with over time. I’m most proud of the work I did with a man with learning disabilities who had previously reoffended within a week each time he was released. The treatment he’d had didn’t work because he simply didn’t understand; it was too complicated for him. I worked with him over months, adapting the work by using different techniques, like drawing and role play.

I took the time to understand why he’d committed his crimes and what his learning needs were. I worked with his family so they could continue to support him. I helped him gain supported accommodation. He was released again and has stayed offence-free. That was five years ago. He still sends me letters because he says I made a difference in his life.

I take so much pride in my job and want to continue doing it, because I know it allows me to make a difference to society as a whole. As a previous victim of violent crime, my greatest motivation is to ensure that future crimes are prevented and people don’t experience what I went through.

But I’m not going to lie: sometimes it is hard to remain motivated when I have such little income coming in. I look around me and see friends who work as personal assistants to businesspeople earning more than me. The low pay makes me question whether I have taken the right route.

I have seen colleagues leave for private practices. They are working fewer hours for more pay. But if everyone does that, who will be left to do this work for the public sector?

I feel passionately about the work I do and feel it deserves fair pay. I’m not asking for the earth. I’m not asking for a massive wage. I’m just asking for a fair reflection of the work I do, the commitment I show – and the responsibility I have.

This series aims to give a voice to the staff behind the public services that are hit by mounting cuts and rising demand, and so often denigrated by the press, politicians and public. If you would like to write an article for the series, contact

Talk to us on Twitter via @Guardianpublic and sign up for your free weekly Guardian Public Leaders newsletter with news and analysis sent direct to you every Thursday. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Education Environment Health S&T, ENVIRONMENT, US NEWS, World

California mudslide: hope fades for survivors after deadly disaster


Powered by article titled “California mudslide: hope fades for survivors after deadly disaster” was written by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, and Reuters, for on Saturday 13th January 2018 06.48 Asia/Kolkata

Rescue crews expanded their search in Southern California’s Montecito on Friday for five missing people as the death toll rose to 18 from mudslides that damaged hundreds of buildings and caked highways with sludge.

About 1,250 emergency workers raced against the clock to find survivors with drones, heavy equipment and sniffer dogs in the rescue and clean-up efforts, the California governor’s Office of Emergency Services said.

The latest victim, 87-year-old Joseph Bleckel, was found in his Montecito home on Friday, the Santa Barbara County sheriff, Bill Brown, said, adding that the remaining missing were between the ages of 2 and 30.

“We’ve got a window that’s closing, but we’re still very optimistic. There’s been plenty of cases where they’ve found people a week after,” Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said earlier on a muddy Montecito street especially hard-hit by the mudslide.

Officials said secondary searches of damaged structures were under way.
The number of missing has fluctuated as people were located, said the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities said on Thursday night that 43 people were unaccounted for.

Residents in some areas were subject to a new mandatory evacuation on Friday, emergency officials said, adding the unstable environment remained a threat.

Montecito, a wealthy enclave north of Los Angeles, bore the brunt of a rainstorm that drenched southern California on Monday and Tuesday, triggering mudslides in hilly areas in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties recently scorched by wildfires.

Survivors compared the speed and roar of the debris flows to a freight train.

Hundreds of Montecito residents who were marooned but not injured by the devastation were led to safety on Wednesday as rescue teams with dogs, helicopters and specialised vehicles scoured the transformed landscape.

Many areas lacked gas, electricity and water. “A majority of Montecito and that whole area is in the Stone Age right now,” Mike Eliasonfor the Santa Barbara county fire department said. “We’re actively pursuing trying to get in there as quick as we can to get those people to safety.”

The flows buried a 30-mile stretch of the 101 freeway, parts of which are expected to remain closed until Monday.

Santa Barbara County fire search dog Reilly looks for victims in damaged and destroyed homes in Montecito.
Santa Barbara County fire search dog Reilly looks for victims in damaged and destroyed homes in Montecito. Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images

Tributes poured in for the first two fatalities to be publicly named.

Roy Rohter founded St Augustine Academy, a small private Catholic school in Ventura. “Roy’s life has been in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God,” the headmaster, Michael Van Hecke, said in a statement. “He has done so much for so many people and pro-life and Catholic education causes … Thousands have been blessed by the Rohters’ friendship and generosity.”

The real estate firm Riskin Partners in Montecito announced on Facebook the death of its founding partner, Rebecca Riskin. “The confirmation of her loss is incredibly devastating to her friends, family, and our community. Per her wishes, we intend to carry out her life’s work with the same strength, grace and elegance that wholly defined Rebecca.”

The storm – the first of the rainy season – turned devastating because huge wildfires in recent months charred mountains and canyons, leaving soil unable to efficiently absorb water.

Survivors rued not heeding official warnings to evacuate. “I think all of us have learned our lessons on this one. We were all bad children and ignored the warning,” David Cradduck, 66, told the LA Times.

He cited disaster fatigue, having just recently fled wildfire. “We were all tired of it. Now here we are, shovels in hand, trying to get our vehicles out. Mother Nature came back and dealt us a big blow, but it’s our fault. We should have heeded the warning.”

The Thomas fire, which encompassed the land around Montecito, burned more than 280,000 acres, the biggest in California’s modern history.

This followed a five-year-drought – by some measures the worst in a millennium – which emptied reservoirs and parched the countryside.

It ended in 2016 with record rainfall which counterintuitively aggravated last year’s fire season by producing vegetation – fuel. It turned tinder dry last summer, the hottest on record.

There is nothing new about big wildfires and mudslides in California but so many records in so short a time has convinced many scientists that climate change is a factor. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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India, Judiciary

India’s top judges issue unprecedented warning over integrity of supreme court


Powered by article titled “India’s top judges issue unprecedented warning over integrity of supreme court” was written by Michael Safi in Delhi, for on Friday 12th January 2018 19.45 Asia/Kolkata

Four senior Indian supreme court judges have gone public with an extraordinary warning that India’s chief justice is mishandling sensitive cases and endangering the court’s integrity and the country’s democracy.

The four judges, the most senior members of the bench after the chief justice, abruptly left their courtrooms on Friday morning and called the first press conference by members of the usually solemn institution.

Led by judge Jasti Chelameswar, they delivered an unprecedented message to the journalists gathered in Delhi: that the conduct of India’s highest court was “not in order” and that “unless this institution is preserved, democracy can’t be protected in this country”.

The revolt against the chief justice, Dipak Misra, has been months in the making. It broke into the open in November, when he was accused of mishandling a matter relating to a former judge alleged to have offered to bribe members of the supreme court in a case Misra himself was presiding over.

Misra has not been accused of taking bribes but was fiercely criticised, including by senior lawyers, for repeatedly intervening to ensure only judges of his choice could hear the matter.

One case cited by the four justices on Friday was a request for an independent investigation into the death of judge BH Loya, who was overseeing a case involving murder allegations against Amit Shah, a leading figure in the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP). Media reports in recent months have raised suspicions over Loya’s death.

Though politically charged cases have traditionally been overseen by the supreme court’s most senior judges, the request for an independent investigation into Loya’s death was assigned by Misra to a relatively junior member of the bench.

In a letter to Misra, which was released to the media on Friday, the four judges said: “There have been instances where cases having far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned by the chief justice of this court selectively to the benches ‘of their preference’ without any rationale for this assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs.”

Asked by journalists if the chief justice should be impeached, Chelameswar said: “Let the nation decide that.”

The judges were at pains not to accuse Misra of any specific wrongdoing nor criticise any specific judgments. Rather, their charge is that by breaking from the traditional procedures for allocating cases – which heavily emphasise seniority – he is allowing what they called “questions on the integrity of the institution” to fester.

Echoing criticism levelled at the court in past months, the Indian Express published an article on Friday morning by a senior lawyer, Dushyant Dave, highlighting instances where Misra had failed to allocate the most senior judges available for sensitive cases.

“It is important for this institution to ensure that an impression is not given to the public that the constitution of benches and allocation of matters is being done in a manner more palatable to the executive,” Dave wrote.

Chelameswar closed the dramatic press conference by saying: “We don’t want wise men saying 20 years from now that justice Chelameswar, [Ranjan] Gogoi, [Madan B] Lokur and Kurian Joseph sold their souls and didn’t do the right thing by our constitution.”

Alok Kumar, a senior resident fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, said chief justices had earned the rancour of their colleagues in the past but Friday’s events were “beyond the pale”.

Misra, who was appointed chief justice by the Narendra Modi government in August, did not made any public remarks on Friday but is reportedly meeting with the Indian attorney general, who is also yet to comment.

The Indian supreme court is larger than its UK or US counterparts, accommodating up to 31 members whose ranks frequently change as judges choose to leave or reach the mandatory retirement age of 65. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Education Environment Health S&T, Health

Stop racing. You’ll still get there just as quickly


Powered by article titled “Stop racing. You’ll still get there just as quickly” was written by Oliver Burkeman, for The Guardian on Friday 12th January 2018 20.30 Asia/Kolkata

Pleasingly, a new study endorses one of my favourite insights about writing, or getting any creative work done – though I’m pretty sure that wasn’t intentional, since the researchers were actually studying traffic jams. Jonathan Boreyko, an American engineering professor, was crawling along in his car one day, observing how drivers naturally bunch up at red lights or other stoppages, leaving mere inches between vehicles. Their motivation isn’t a mystery: the closer you are to the car ahead, you’d assume, the better your chances of squeezing through before the light goes back to red, and the sooner you’ll reach your destination, even if you also increase the risk of rear-end collisions.

But you’d assume wrong. When Boreyko and a colleague recreated the traffic-light scenario on a special test track, they found that drivers who bunched up made no swifter progress. True, they stopped slightly closer to the light. But it also took them longer to resume moving safely, and these two factors cancelled each other out. “There’s no point in getting closer to the car in front of you when traffic comes to a stop,” Boreyko concluded. Not quite a case of “more haste, less speed”, but certainly “more haste, no extra speed”. And probably more crashes.

If you’re wondering what this could have to do with writing or similar work, it’s just more evidence that impatience almost never pays. This includes the kind of impatience we celebrate in people we call “driven” or “obsessed”, those who never rest in urgent pursuit of their goals. Yes, it all looks impressively hyper-productive. But as the psychologist Robert Boice argues, racing to get a task completed generally imposes a cost that offsets or even outweighs the benefit, so you may end up completing it later, or doing it worse. You tire yourself out, so you can’t shine the next day. Or you neglect so many other duties that you’re forced to take an extra admin day to catch up. Or you start damaging work you’ve already produced – which is why the novelist Gabriel García Márquez said he gave up writing in the afternoon: he wrote more, but he had to redo it the next morning, so the overall effect was to slow him down. (That’s also why Boice insists that, when you’re writing on a schedule, it’s as important to be disciplined about stopping as starting, even if you’re on a roll.)

Clearly, this is all a convenient way to feel superior to people who put in more hours. But that doesn’t mean it’s untrue. Indeed, it’s scary to ask what role impatience plays in your life in general: how much of each day we spend leaning into the future, trying to get tasks “out of the way”, always focused on the destination, metaphorically inching closer and closer to the bumper of the car ahead. None of it gets us anywhere faster. It’s also no way to live. Essentially, it’s the attitude of the driver stuck in traffic: “I just want this to be over!” Which is fair enough, when you’re stuck in traffic. The trick is not treating the whole day like some aggravatingly tedious commute. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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