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For Belfast, keeping peace means a city of walls

Posted in News with tags , on June 16, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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For Belfast, keeping peace means a city of walls

Associated PressBy SHAWN POGATCHNIK | Associated Press – 5 hrs ago

In this photo dated June 10 2013 a massive wall and fence separates the Protestant Cluan Place from the Catholic Short Strand area. When President Obama comes to Belfast, he’s expected to praise a country at peace and call for walls that separate Irish Catholics and British Protestants to come tumbling down. Barely a 10-minute walk from where the U.S. leader is speaking Monday, June 17, 2013, those walls have kept growing in size and number throughout two decades of slow-blooming peace. Residents on both sides of the battlements today insist they must stay to keep violence at bay. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Associated Press/Peter Morrison – In this photo dated June 10 2013 a massive wall and fence separates the Protestant Cluan Place from the Catholic Short Strand area. When President Obama comes to Belfast, he’s expected to praise a country at peace and call for walls that separate Irish Catholics and British Protestants to come tumbling down. Barely a 10-minute walk from where the U.S. leader is speaking Monday, June 17, 2013, those walls have kept growing in size and number throughout two decades of slow-blooming peace. Residents on both sides of the battlements today insist they must stay to keep violence at bay. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — When President Obama comes to Belfast, he’s expected to praise a country at peace and call for walls that separate Irish Catholics and British Protestants to come tumbling down.

Barely a 10-minute walk from where the U.S. leader is speaking Monday, those walls have kept growing in size and number throughout two decades of slow-blooming peace. Residents today on both sides of so-called “peace lines” — barricades of brick, steel and barbed wire that divide neighborhoods, roads and even one Belfast playground — insist the physical divisions must stay to keep violence at bay.

Belfast’s first peace lines took shape in the opening salvos of Northern Ireland’s conflict in 1969, when impoverished parts of the city suffered an explosion of sectarian mayhem and most Catholics living in chiefly Protestant areas were forced to flee. The British Army, deployed as peacekeepers, erected the first makeshift barricades and naively predicted the barriers would be taken down in months.

In this photo taken on June 10, 2013, James McDowell is dwarfed by a peace wall as he stands in his garden in the Catholic Short Strand area of East Belfast, Northern Ireland. The peace wall divides the Short Strand from the Protestant Cluan Place. When President Obama comes to Belfast, he’s expected to praise a country at peace and call for walls that separate Irish Catholics and British Protestants to come tumbling down. Barely a 10-minute walk from where the U.S. leader is speaking Monday, June 17, 2013, those walls have kept growing in size and number throughout two decades of slow-blooming peace. Residents on both sides of the battlements today insist they must stay to keep violence at bay. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Instead, the soldiers’ role supporting the mostly Protestant police soon inspired the rise of a ruthless new outlawed group, the Provisional Irish Republican Army, committed to forcing Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and into the Republic of Ireland.

For all the unlikely triumphs of Northern Ireland diplomacy since the U.S.-brokered 1998 Good Friday peace deal — a Catholic-Protestant government, troop withdrawals, police reform, and disarmament of the IRA and outlawed Protestant groups responsible for most of the 3,700 death toll — tearing down Belfast’s nearly 100 “peace lines” still seems too dangerous a step to take.

“I’d love to see that wall taken down and I could say hi to my neighbors, but it isn’t going to happen. There’d be cold-blooded murder and I’d have to move out,” said Donna Turley, 48, smoking a cigarette at her patio table in the Short Strand, the sole Irish Catholic enclave in otherwise Protestant east Belfast.

Right behind Turley’s backyard refuge towers a 50-foot (15-meter) wall. It starts as brick, transitions into fences of corrugated iron, and is topped by more steel mesh fence. Each layer marks the history of communal riots like the growth rings of a tree. Higher still, two batteries of rotating police surveillance cameras monitor Turley and her Catholic neighbors, as well as the Protestant strangers living, audibly but invisibly, on the far side.

In this photo taken on June 10, 2013, a loyalist mural adorns a wall beside a peace wall that divides the Protestant Cluan Place from the Catholic Short Strand area, in the Protestant Cluan Place area of East Belfast, Northern Ireland. When President Obama comes to Belfast, he’s expected to praise a country at peace and call for walls that separate Irish Catholics and British Protestants to come tumbling down. Barely a 10-minute walk from where the U.S. leader is speaking Monday, June 17, 2013, those walls have kept growing in size and number throughout two decades of slow-blooming peace. Residents on both sides of the battlements today insist they must stay to keep violence at bay. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

“It’s terrible looking. But I wouldn’t feel safe if it wasn’t there. I couldn’t imagine that wall being torn down. Nobody here can,” said Tammy Currie, 21, who is Turley’s nearest Protestant neighbor, standing in her own small cement patio backed by the wall. Her 3-year-old son jumps on a trampoline that a few months ago had to be cleared of shattered beer bottles thrown from the other side.

Both families rent state-subsidized homes provided by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which is responsible for making their homes as safe as possible from the risk of further rioting. That means both have triple-layered Perspex windows that are foggy-looking and unbreakable, and metal-tiled roofs that can’t be set on fire.

It was a lesson hard learned. The Protestants of Cluan Place and the Catholics of Clandeboye Drive used to be able to look, from upper floors, into each other’s back yards until 2002, when militants on both sides sought to drive each other out with homemade grenades, Molotov cocktails and even acid-filled bottles. An IRA gunman shot five Protestants, none fatally, while standing atop what was then only a brick wall. Most homes in the area were burned, abandoned and rebuilt, and British Army engineers doubled the height of the wall in 2003. Nobody’s been shot there since, even though both sides continue to host illegal paramilitary groups billing themselves as community defenders.

In this photo taken on June 10, 2013, a boy plays at a bonfire site beside a peace wall that divides the Protestant Cluan Place from the Catholic Short Strand area, in the Protestant Cluan Place area of East Belfast, Northern Ireland. When President Obama comes to Belfast, he’s expected to praise a country at peace and call for walls that separate Irish Catholics and British Protestants to come tumbling down. Barely a 10-minute walk from where the U.S. leader is speaking Monday, June 17, 2013, those walls have kept growing in size and number throughout two decades of slow-blooming peace. Residents on both sides of the battlements today insist they must stay to keep violence at bay. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

This stretch of wall connects with other security lines that date back to the early days of the modernNorthern Ireland conflict in 1970, when IRA men in Short Strand shot to death three Protestants allegedly involved in attacking the district’s lone Catholic church. To make it less of an eyesore, Belfast City Council has funded imaginative art works all along that stretch, but it still leaves Short Strand looking a bit like Fort Apache.

Last month, the Catholic and Protestant leaders of Northern Ireland’s unity government announced a bold but detail-free plan to dismantle all peace lines by 2023. British Prime Minister David Cameron formally backed the goal Friday. Obama is expected to do the same Monday.

The politician working closest to the Cluan-Clandeboye wall, Michael Copeland, says both G-8 leaders are out of touch.

“Removing the walls would be a catastrophic decision,” said Copeland, a former British soldier and a Protestant member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, who keeps his office just around the corner from Cluan Place.

“The biggest walls to be addressed are in the minds of the people. And what people in here remember is being shot at, being bombed, having their street burned,” Copeland said while sitting on a Cluan Place bench outside one resident’s home. He knows everyone living in all 23 homes on the Protestant side and, in fact, helped get many of them get their housing assignment.

“The walls will come down when the people who live in the shadow of these walls, and look to those walls for a sense of security, can feel secure without them. Memories will have to fade. It will take another generation at least,” he said.

In this photo taken on June 10, 2013, a woman waters her plants in the Protestant Templemore Avenue area of East Belfast, Northern Ireland. A peace wall divides the Protestant area from the Catholic Short Strand area. When President Obama comes to Belfast, he’s expected to praise a country at peace and call for walls that separate Irish Catholics and British Protestants to come tumbling down. Barely a 10-minute walk from where the U.S. leader is speaking Monday, June 17, 2013, those walls have kept growing in size and number throughout two decades of slow-blooming peace. Residents on both sides of the battlements today insist they must stay to keep violence at bay. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The two sides mark their cultural divide in ways petty and profound. Each morning, two sets of children depart in different directions, wearing different uniforms, as Catholics head for their own church-run schools, the Protestants for state-run ones. At night, the two sides usually order fast-food deliveries from their own areas, fearful that someone from “the other side” might spit in their food. They use separate taxi companies and favor different newspapers.

Short Strand’s community association has erected house numbers bearing each family’s name in Gaelic, the little-used native tongue of Ireland that is loathed by most Protestants.

Reflecting their anxiety that the faster-growing Catholic community wants to push them out, the Protestants of Cluan Place have painted the gable end of one house with a mural featuring a massive Union Jack and a list of attacks on their street since 2002. “Still loyalist, always British, no surrender,” it says.

The house opposite Currie’s, belonging to an aunt, has a dog strutting about sporting a Union Jack collar, and Ulster loyalist music blaring loudly enough from a stereo to carry to Catholic ears beyond the wall.

Across the divide, 56-year-old Maggie McDowell cocks an ear at the sectarian tune. “Och, him again,” she said, identifying her Protestant neighbor not by a name or face she’s never known, but by his musical taste. Unlike most living on both sides of this wall, she was here for the 2002 rioting — and credits the wall’s extension with ensuring no repeat.

She and her husband, James, keep a collection of the most interesting objects that have crashed into their house or back garden, including one smooth stone used as a doorstop. He points out holes in their home’s brick wall marking strikes from past violence. Golf balls, a favored weapon for both sides, she collects by the bucket to give every so often to her golf-enthusiast brother.

When asked if she’d like the wall to come down, Maggie McDowell said, “It’s a terrible thing to say, but I wish they could make it higher.”

___

Online:

Maps and data of Belfast peace lines, http://bit.ly/11odl3w

Interfaces Map and Database – Overview

http://www.belfastinterfaceproject.org/interfaces-map-and-database-overview

In spring of 2011 Belfast Interface Project commissioned a piece of research carried out by the Institute for Conflict Research to identify and classify the known security barriers and associated forms of defensive architecture in residential areas of Belfast.

This interfaces map and database — provides a comprehensive listing with photographs and descriptions of security barriers and defensive use of space throughout the city, organised geographically by cluster — draws heavily upon the final research report produced by ICR and brings together photos and information from past BIP research projects including those undertaken by Frankie Quinn in 2005 and ICR in 2008.

Overview of Defensive Architecture

1. Categories and Locations of Barriers

The report identifies 99 different security barriers and forms of defensive architecture across the city associated with residential areas. These include:

  • 35 barriers which are made of different styles of metal fencing
  • 23 barriers which are comprised of a mixture of a solid wall with metal fencing above
  • 14 examples of a mixture of fences with vegetation which act as a buffer
  • 12 locations where roads have been closed to vehicles while allowing pedestrian access
  • 8 locations where there is a wall alone, and
  • 7 locations where roads have gates which are closed occasionally

Table 1 sets out the broad locations of these 99 barriers across the city:

  • 44 barriers are situated in North Belfast – defined as the area north of Crumlin Road and west of Belfast Lough
  • 30 barriers are in West Belfast – south of Crumlin Road and west of the Westlink and M1 motorway
  • 14 are in the Central Area – defined as immediately adjacent to the Westlink and Inner Ring roads
  • 10 are in East Belfast – east of the River Lagan and Belfast Lough
  • there is 1 barrier in South Belfast – east of the Dublin railway line, south of the city centre and west of the River Lagan

Table 1 - Categories of Barriers

2 Clusters

The different structures and blighted spaces are contained within 13 different ‘clusters’ — groupings of distinct and separate but related instances of defensively used space within the city — similar to the main interface areas identified by the NIHE in their internal review of interface areas carried out in 2006.

3. Ownership

The research also identified 10 different owners of the various structures (Table 2). The largest number of barriers (58) are owned by the Department of Justice (who inherited them from the Northern Ireland Office following devolution of policing and justice powers in 2007), 19 are owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, 7 appear to be in private ownership, and 3 belong to the Department for Regional Development. To date it has not been possible to identify the owners of 4 of the barriers.

Table 2 - Builder/Owner of Barrier

4. Date of Construction

It proved difficult to get detailed information on the dates when the barriers were constructed. Table 3 is based largely on data for those barriers constructed by the NIO, which are now the responsibility of the DoJ. The table shows that barriers have been constructed steadily since 1969, with most barriers constructed through the 1990s – 12 were constructed prior to the 1994 ceasefires and 14 in the second half of the decade.

The figures also indicate that one third of those barriers for which we have the construction date have been built since the ceasefires. The figures in brackets refer to the number of barriers that have been subjected to rebuilding or extension during the relevant decade. The figures for which we have dates indicate the rebuilding of 21 barriers, mostly under reconstruction since 2000.

Table 3 - Date of Construction

The figures also illustrate different patterns of construction in different parts of the city. The vast majority of the barriers in central, East and West Belfast were constructed prior to the ceasefires while in contrast half of the barriers in North Belfast have been constructed since the ceasefires were declared in 1994.

5. Blighted Land

The report also includes a number of examples of blighted land which are immediately adjacent to an interface barrier. The 58 examples include 20 areas where there are 1 or more derelict properties (in some cases there are numerous such properties plus empty plots of land), 32 locations where land remains unused and 6 sites which are currently used as car parks. At best this is a conservative list of unused or underused land in the immediate vicinity of an interface.

Table 4 - Blighted Land

Sweden’s Princess Madeleine weds

Posted in News with tags on June 11, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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Sweden’s Princess Madeleine weds

http://news.yahoo.com/lightbox/sweden-s-princess-madeleine-weds-slideshow/swedens-princess-madeleine-christopher-oneill-kiss-outside-royal-photo-161403681.html

Princess Madeleine, fourth in line to the Swedish throne, married U.S.-British banker Christopher O’Neill on June 8 in a ceremony attended by royals and socialites from around the world. The 30-year-old princess married O’Neill, 38, before some 600 guests in the chapel of the Royal Palace of Stockholm. (Reuters)
Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill kiss outside the Royal Chapel after their wedding ceremony in Stockholm, Saturday June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Bjorn Larsson Rosvall) SWEDEN OUT
Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill during their wedding ceremony at the Royal Chapel in Stockholm, Saturday June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Fredrik Sandberg) SWEDEN OUT
Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill during their wedding ceremony at the Royal Chapel in Stockholm, Saturday June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Anders Wiklund) SWEDEN OUT
U.S.-British banker Christopher O’Neill kisses Sweden’s Princess Madeleine at the royal church in the royal castle during the wedding ceremony in Stockholm June 8, 2013. Princess Madeleine, 30, daughter of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, marries U.S.-British banker O’Neill, 38, on Saturday at a wedding to be attended by European royals and socialites from across the Atlantic. REUTERS/Jessica Gow/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT)
Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill leave the Royal Chapel after their wedding ceremony in Stockholm, Sturday June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Tobias Rostlund) SWEDEN OUT
Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill, at the Royal Chapel during their wedding ceremony in Stockholm, Saturday, June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Scanpix Sweden, Jessica Gow) SWEDEN OUT
From right, Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria with Princess Estelle, Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip attend the wedding ceremony of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill at the Royal Chapel in Stockholm, Saturday June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Anders Wiklund) SWEDEN OUT
Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill kiss outside the Royal Chapel after their wedding ceremony in Stockholm, Saturday June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Bertil Enevag Ericson) SWEDEN OUT
The designer of Sweden’s Princess Madeleine’s wedding dress Valentino Garavani (C) sits in the Royal Chapel before the wedding of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill in Stockholm June 8, 2013. REUTERS/Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix
Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O´Neill leave in an open carriage after their wedding ceremony at the royal chapel in Stockholm Saturday June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Soren Andersson) SWEDEN OUT
Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and U.S.-British banker Christopher O’Neill leave in a carriage after their wedding ceremony at the royal chapel in Stockholm June 8, 2013. Princess Madeleine, 30, daughter of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, married O’Neill, 38, on Saturday at a wedding attended by European royals and socialites from across the Atlantic. REUTERS/Bertil Enevag Ericson/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and U.S.-British banker Christopher O’Neill pose with family members and guests on the stairs of Drottningholm Palace, after their wedding ceremony in Stockholm June 8, 2013. Princess Madeleine, 30, daughter of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, married O’Neill, 38, on Saturday at a wedding attended by European royals and socialites from across the Atlantic. REUTERS/Jonas Ekstromer/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN. NO COMMERCIAL SALES. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO COMMERCIAL USE
Princess Hisako Takamado of Japan arrives to the Royal Chapel before the wedding of Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill in Stockholm June 8, 2013. REUTERS/Soren Andersson/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS)
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – JUNE 08: Queen Silvia of Sweden and Prince Carl Philip of Sweden attend the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill hosted by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia at The Royal Palace on June 8, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
Britain’s Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex arrive at the royal church for the wedding ceremony of Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and her U.S.-British banker fiance Christopher O’Neill, at the royal castle in Stockholm June 8, 2013. Princess Madeleine, 30, daughter of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, marries U.S.-British banker O’Neill, 38, on Saturday at a wedding to be attended by European royals and socialites from across the Atlantic. REUTERS/Soren Andersson/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT)
John Taylor of the rock group Duran Duran and his wife Gela Nash arrive for the wedding ceremony of Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and U.S.-British banker Christopher O’Neill at the royal church in the royal castle in Stockholm June 8, 2013. Princess Madeleine, 30, daughter of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, marries U.S.-British banker O’Neill, 38, on Saturday at a wedding to be attended by European royals and socialites from across the Atlantic. REUTERS/Soren Andersson/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT)
Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark arrive at the Royal Chapel for the wedding of Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill, in Stockholm, Saturday June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Soren Andersson) SWEDEN OUT
Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and U.S.-British banker Christopher O’Neill walk towards the boat that will ferry them to Drottningholm Palace for their wedding dinner, after their wedding ceremony in the royal castle in Stockholm June 8, 2013. Princess Madeleine, 30, daughter of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, married O’Neill, 38, on Saturday at a wedding attended by European royals and socialites from across the Atlantic. REUTERS/Adam Ihse/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT)
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – JUNE 08: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Daniel of Sweden depart for the travel by boat to Drottningholm Palace for dinner after the wedding ceremony of Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill hosted by King Carl Gustaf XIV and Queen Silvia at The Royal Palace on June 8, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
L-R) Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary walk with Norway’s Princess Martha Louise, Norwegian author Ari Behn, Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon as they leave Riddarholmen for a boat trip to Drottningholm Palace for the wedding dinner after Sweden’s Princess Madeleine married Christopher O’Neill at the royal castle in Stockholm June 8, 2013. Princess Madeleine, 30, daughter of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, married O’Neill, 38, on Saturday at a wedding attended by European royals and socialites from across the Atlantic. REUTERS/Erik Martensson/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN. NO COMMERCIAL SALES. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO COMMERCIAL USE
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – JUNE 08: Crown Princess Victoria, and Prince Daniel of Sweden attend the evening banquet after the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill hosted by King Carl Gustaf XIV and Queen Silvia at Drottningholm Palace on June 8, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Julian Parker/Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and U.S.-British banker Christopher O’Neill arrive at Drottningholm Palace, after their wedding ceremony in the royal church in Stockholm June 8, 2013. Princess Madeleine, 30, daughter of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, married O’Neill, 38, on Saturday at a wedding attended by European royals and socialites from across the Atlantic. REUTERS/Christine Olsson/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN. NO COMMERCIAL SALES. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO COMMERCIAL USE
Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia leave Riddarholmen for a boat trip to Drottningholm Palace for the wedding dinner after their daughter Princess Madeleine married U.S.-British banker Christopher O’Neill at the royal church in Stockholm June 8, 2013. Princess Madeleine, 30, married O’Neill, 38, on Saturday at a wedding attended by European royals and socialites from across the Atlantic. REUTERS/Erik Martensson/Scanpix (SWEDEN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN. NO COMMERCIAL SALES. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO COMMERCIAL USE

Europe hit with worst floods in 70 years

Posted in News with tags on June 6, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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Europe hit with worst floods in 70 years

At least 16 people are reported dead as flood waters rise across sections of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. The city of Passau in southeast Germany was among the hardest-hit, with water relentlessly pouring in from three swollen rivers as rescuers used boats to evacuate stranded residents. The German army has sent 1,760 soldiers to help with flood defenses, while in the Czech Republic, authorities are scrambling to erect more barriers to protect Prague. (June 3)
People ride in a boat on waters covering a flooded road in the eastern German city of Dresden, June 4, 2013. Torrential rain in the south and south-east of Germany caused heavy flooding over the weekend forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A man takes pictures of a flooded area by the swollen Labe (Elbe) river near the city of Litomerice, June 5, 2013.  REUTERS/Petr Josek
An excavator removes mud from a formerly flooded street along the river Inn in the south-eastern Bavarian town of Passau June 4, 2013. Torrential rain in the south and south-east of Germany caused heavy flooding over the weekend forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Cars drive on a road surrounded by areas flooded by the swollen Labe (Elbe) river near the city of Litomerice, June 5, 2013.   REUTERS/Petr Josek
Exhausted members of the emergency services sit on a dam next to river Theiss in Lower Austria in Lower Austria, about 60 km (38 miles) west of Vienna June 5, 2013. Torrential rain in Salzburg, Upper and Lower Austria caused heavy flooding over the past days, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
A resident cleans mud from the footpath in front of her house following flooding along the river Inn in the Austria-German border town of Schaerding June 5, 2013. Chancellor Angela Merkel promised 100 million euros to victims of Germany’s worst flood in a decade on Tuesday as she toured areas devastated by the deluge, which has killed 12 people across central Europe. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
A resident mows the lawn in village of Stein-Krems next to the flooded river Danube in Lower Austria, about 80 km (50 miles) west of Vienna June 5, 2013. Torrential rain in Salzburg, Upper and Lower Austria caused heavy flooding over the past days, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Rescue workers evacuate a man from a house in the east German town of Bad Schandau after the Elbe river has broken its banks, June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Rescue workers ride a boat in the flooded streets of the east German town of Bad Schandau after the Elbe river has broken its banks, June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
The highway crossing of the A92 (bottom) and the A3 is flooded near the eastern Bavarian city of Deggendorf and the mountain rig of the Bavarian Forrest (rear) June 5, 2013, after one of Europe’s most frequented highways was flooded by the nearby river Danube on June 4. Chancellor Angela Merkel promised 100 million euros to victims of Germany’s worst flood in a decade on Tuesday as she toured areas devastated by the deluge, which has killed 12 people across central Europe. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT TRANSPORT)
A small settlement along the A3 motorway is flooded near the eastern Bavarian city of Deggendorf June 5, 2013, after one of Europe’s most frequented highways was flooded by the nearby river Danube on June 4. Chancellor Angela Merkel promised 100 million euros to victims of Germany’s worst flood in a decade on Tuesday as she toured areas devastated by the deluge, which has killed 12 people across central Europe. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
The A3 motorway is flooded by the Danube (L) near the eastern Bavarian city of Deggendorf June 5, 2013. The A3, one of Europe’s most frequented highways was flooded by the nearby river Danube on June 4. Chancellor Angela Merkel promised 100 million euros to victims of Germany’s worst flood in a decade on Tuesday as she toured areas devastated by the deluge, which has killed 12 people across central Europe. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT TRANSPORT)
A small settlement is completely cut off by the floods of the river Danube near the eastern Bavarian city of Deggendorf June 5, 2013. Chancellor Angela Merkel promised 100 million euros to victims of Germany’s worst flood in a decade on Tuesday as she toured areas devastated by the deluge, which has killed 12 people across central Europe. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
A small settlement is completely cut off by the floods of the river Danube near the eastern Bavarian city of Deggendorf June 5, 2013. Chancellor Angela Merkel promised 100 million euros to victims of Germany’s worst flood in a decade on Tuesday as she toured areas devastated by the deluge, which has killed 12 people across central Europe. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
A small settlement is completely cut off by the floods of the river Danube near the eastern Bavarian city of Deggendorf June 5, 2013. Chancellor Angela Merkel promised 100 million euros to victims of Germany’s worst flood in a decade on Tuesday as she toured areas devastated by the deluge, which has killed 12 people across central Europe. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
A member of the emergency services travels by boat along a flooded street in the centre of the Austrian village of Emmersdorf, about 100 km (62 miles) west of Vienna June 3, 2013. Torrential rain in Tyrol, Salzburg, Upper and Lower Austria caused heavy flooding over the weekend, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
A car stands in the flood water of the swollen Danube river in Klosterneuburg, the neighboring city north of Vienna, June 4, 2013. Torrential rain in Tyrol, Salzburg, Upper and Lower Austria caused heavy flooding over the weekend, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
An aerial view shows the submerged village of Kresice near the town of Litomerice, June 4, 2013. The worst floods to hit the Czech Republic in a decade forced the evacuation of almost 2,700 people from low-lying areas while the rising water threatened Prague’s historic centre, forced school closures and disrupted public transport. REUTERS/Petr Josek
The statue of world harmony leader Sri Chinmoy is partially submerged in water from the rising Vltava river in Prague June 2, 2013. Rivers across the Czech Republic are rising fast due to heavy rain. REUTERS/David W Cerny
The flooded Vltava river is seen behind the statue of Czech legendary knight Bruncvik in Prague, June 2, 2013. City authorities limited public transport and closed underground stations as water from the Vltava River overflowed several parts of Prague. REUTERS/Petr Josek
A street sign is partially submerged in the flooded centre of the Bavarian town of Passau, about 200 km (124 miles) north-east of Munich June 3, 2013. Torrential rain in the south and south-east of Germany caused heavy flooding over the weekend, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle
People sit in the upstairs windows of their flooded house in the centre of the Bavarian town of Passau, about 200 km (124 miles) north-east of Munich June 3, 2013. Torrential rain in the south and south-east of Germany caused heavy flooding over the weekend, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle
People stand next to a bridge and watch the flooding of river Steyr during heavy rainfall in the small Austrian city of Steyr June 2, 2013. During heavy rain rivers burst their banks, flooding parts of Tyrol, Salzburg, Lower and Upper Austria. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Flooded houses next to river Steyr are pictured during heavy rainfall in the small Austrian city of Steyr June 2, 2013. During heavy rain rivers burst their banks, flooding parts of Tyrol, Salzburg, Lower and Upper Austria. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
A street sign is partially submerged in the flooded centre of the Bavarian town of Passau, about 200 km (124 miles) north-east of Munich June 3, 2013. Torrential rain in the south and south-east of Germany caused heavy flooding over the weekend, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
Members of the Red Cross make their way by boats in the flooded street in the center of Passau, southern Germany, Monday, June 3, 2013. Raging waters from three rivers have flooded large parts of the southeast German city following days of heavy rainfall in central Europe. A spokesman for the city’s crisis center said Monday that the situation was “extremely dramatic” and waters are expected to rise further by midday to their level highest in 70 years. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
People stand in the flooded centre of Passau, southern Germany, Monday, June 3, 2013. Raging waters from three rivers have flooded large parts of the southeast German city following days of heavy rainfall in central Europe. A spokesman for the city’s crisis center said Monday that the situation was “extremely dramatic” and waters are expected to rise further by midday to their level highest in 70 years (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) l
A traffic sign is seen surrounded by the flooded Berounka river on the outskirts of Prague June 3, 2013. The worst floods to hit the Czech Republic in a decade forced the evacuation of almost 2,700 people from low-lying areas while the rising water threatened Prague’s historic centre, forced school closures and disrupted public transport. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
A general view of the flooded Berounka river is seen on the outskirts of Prague June 3, 2013. The worst floods to hit the Czech Republic in a decade forced the evacuation of almost 2,700 people from low-lying areas while the rising water threatened Prague’s historic centre, forced school closures and disrupted public transport. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
Volunteers place sand bags on a street in central Prague June 3, 2013. Volunteers piled up sandbags to keep a swollen river from overwhelming the Czech capital’s historic centre on Monday after floods across central Europe forced factories to close, drove thousands from their homes and killed at least seven people. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
Czech soldiers erect metal barriers at a bank of Vltava river in central Prague June 3, 2013. Volunteers piled up sandbags to keep a swollen river from overwhelming the Czech capital’s historic centre on Monday after floods across central Europe forced factories to close, drove thousands from their homes and killed at least seven people. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
A small truck, partially submerged by the water from the rising Vltava river, is seen in a park in central Prague June 3, 2013. Volunteers piled up sandbags to keep a swollen river from overwhelming the Czech capital’s historic centre on Monday after floods across central Europe forced factories to close, drove thousands from their homes and killed at least seven people. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
he Sunday, June 2, 2013 photo shows a couple trying to save three small kittens hidden in a plastic bag, which were endangered by a swollen Botic creek in Prague’s suburb Zabehlice, Czech Republic, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. (AP Photo/CTK, Roman Vondrous) SLOVAKIA OUT
The sign above the door of restaurant and hotel ‘Am Paulusbogen’ is partially submerged in the flooded centre of the Bavarian town of Passau, about 200 km (124 miles) north-east of Munich June 3, 2013. Torrential rain in the south and south-east of Germany caused heavy flooding over the weekend, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) l
People stand on the roof of a building and look at a flooded street in the centre of the Bavarian town of Passau, about 200 km (124 miles) north-east of Munich June 3, 2013. Torrential rain in the south and south-east of Germany caused heavy flooding over the weekend, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
A general view shows the flooded center of Passau, southern Germany, on Monday, June 3, 2013. Raging waters from three rivers have flooded large parts of the southeast German city following days of heavy rainfall in central Europe. A spokesman for the city’s crisis center said Monday that the situation was “extremely dramatic” and waters are expected to rise further by midday to their level highest in 70 years. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
A man walks through flood water in a street in the centre of the Bavarian town of Passau, about 200 km (124 miles) north-east of Munich June 3, 2013. Torrential rain in the south and south-east of Germany caused heavy flooding over the weekend, forcing people to evacuate their homes. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)
A person looks at the heavily damaged road between Lofer and Waidring in the Austrian province of Tyrol, Monday, June. 3, 2013. Heavy rainfalls caused floods along rivers and lakes in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Soldier accused of Afghan massacre describes killings

Posted in News with tags on June 6, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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Soldier accused of Afghan massacre describes killings

Associated PressBy GENE JOHNSON | Associated Press – 8 hrs ago

http://news.yahoo.com/soldier-accused-afghan-massacre-describes-killings-175512013.html

A Seattle lawyer and former member of the military says Staff Sargeant Robert Bales` case is more complicated than a civilian court and relies much more on the military judge. Bales is accused of murdering 16 Afghan citizens.

Afghan massacre suspect Robert Bales

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) — The American soldier charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians during nighttime raids on two villages last year pleaded guilty Wednesday then described shooting each victim, telling a military judge he has asked himself “a million times” why he did it.

To avoid the death penalty, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales pleaded guilty to multiple counts of murder at the hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle. He then read from a statement in a clear and steady voice, describing his actions for each killing in the same terms.

Bales, 39, said he left the remote base where he was posted in southern Afghanistan and went to the nearby villages of mud-walled compounds. Once inside, Bales said he “formed the intent” of killing the victims, then shot each one.

“This act was without legal justification, sir,” Bales told the judge. Bales sat at a defense table, his handles folded in front of him.

Robert Bales, the Army sergeant accused of murdering 16 Afghan villagers in 2012, is pleading guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty. Norah O’Donnell reports.

At one point the judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, asked Bales why he committed the March 2012 killings at two villages near the remote base in southern Afghanistan where he was posted.

Bales responded: “Sir, as far as why — I’ve ask that question a million times since then. There’s not a good reason in this world for why I did the horrible things I did.”

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, (L) 1st platoon sergeant, Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, is seen during an exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, in this August 23, 2011 DVIDS handout photo. Bales, charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians in cold blood was due in court on June 5, 2013, for a court-martial proceeding in which he is expected to plead guilty under a deal with military prosecutors to avoid the death penalty. REUTERS/Department of Defense/Spc. Ryan Hallock/Handout (UNITED STATES – Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS MILITARY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Most of the victims were women and children, and some of the bodies were burned; relatives have told The Associated Press they are irate at the notion Bales will escape execution for one of the worst atrocities of the Afghanistan war.

The judge still must decide whether to accept his plea.

Nance also questioned Bales about the burned bodies. Bales said he remembered there being a kerosene lantern in the room, and he recalled there being a fire and having matches in his pocket when he returned to the base. But Bales said he didn’t remember setting the bodies on fire.

Nance pressed him on whether he set the bodies on fire with the lantern, and Bales replied: “It’s the only thing that makes sense, sir.’”

Defense attorney Emma Scanlan entered Bales’ pleas on his behalf. She entered one not guilty plea, to a charge that he impeded the investigation by breaking his laptop after he was taken into custody.

This photo from the Norwood, Ohio High School 1991 yearbook shows Robert Bales who graduated in 1991. Bales boasted of being one of the good guys, a proud patriot who enlisted in the army just two months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and engaged in some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq. But the gung-ho military volunteer had a darker, more troubled and contradictory side – which surfaced over and over during his sometimes turbulent life. The 38-year-old Army staff sergeant is accused of killing 16 Afghans, including nine children in March 2012. (AP Photo/Yearbook via The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Although Wednesday’s proceedings provided Bales’ account for the first time, survivors who testified by video link from Afghanistan during a hearing last fall vividly recalled the carnage.

A young girl in a bright headscarf described hiding behind her father as he was shot to death. Boys told of hiding behind curtains as others scrambled and begged the soldier to spare them, yelling: “We are children! We are children!” A thick-bearded man told of being shot in the neck by a gunman “as close as this bottle,” gesturing to a water bottle on a table in front of him.

Afghan men sit in a bus with the body of a person who was allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March 11, 2012. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says a U.S. service member has killed more than a dozen people in a shooting, including nine children and three women. Karzai called the attack Sunday “an assassination” and demanded an explanation from the United States. He says several people were also wounded in the attack on two villages near a U.S. base in the southern province of Kandahar. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)

Prosecutors say that before dawn on March 11, 2012, Bales slipped away from Camp Belambay in Kandahar Province, armed with a 9 mm pistol and M-4 rifle outfitted with a grenade launcher.

He first attacked one village of mud-walled compounds, Alkozai, then returned to the base, woke up a fellow soldier and told him about it. The soldier didn’t believe him and went back to sleep. Bales then left to attack a second village, Najiban.

The massacre prompted such angry protests that the U.S. temporarily halted combat operations in Afghanistan, and it was three weeks before Army investigators could reach the crime scene.

An elderly Afghan man sits next to the covered body of a person who was allegedly killed by a U.S. service member, in a minibus in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March 11, 2012. A U.S. service member walked out of a base in southern Afghanistan before dawn Sunday and started shooting Afghan civilians, according to villagers and Afghan and NATO officials. Villagers showed an Associated Press photographer 15 bodies, including women and children, and alleged they were killed by the American. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)

Bales was serving his fourth combat deployment and had an otherwise good if undistinguished military record in a decade-long career. The Ohio native suffered from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury, his lawyers say, and he had been drinking contraband alcohol and snorting Valium — both provided by other soldiers — the night of the killings.

The case raised questions about the toll multiple deployments were taking on American troops. For that reason, many legal experts believed it was unlikely he would receive the death penalty, as Army prosecutors were seeking. The military justice system hasn’t executed anyone since 1961, but five men currently face death sentences.

“Any time you can strike a deal that saves your client’s life, I would call that a win,” said Dan Conway, a civilian military defense lawyer who is not involved in the case. “This is the right result for both parties.”

An Afghan woman gestures to the body of a child, who was allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March. 11, 2012. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says a U.S. service member has killed more than a dozen people in a shooting including nine children and three women. Karzai called the attack Sunday “an assassination” and demanded an explanation from the United States. He says several people were also wounded in the attack on two villages near a U.S. base in the southern province of Kandahar. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)

___

Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle

World’s Most-Visited City — Not London, Paris or NYC

Posted in News with tags , on June 5, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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World’s Most-Visited City — Not London, Paris or NYC

By GENEVIEVE SHAW BROWN | Good Morning America – 17 hours ago

http://gma.yahoo.com/worlds-most-visited-city-not-london-paris-nyc-175320938–abc-news-travel.html
  • World's Most-Visited City -- Not London, Paris or NYC (ABC News)

    Good Morning America – World’s Most-Visited City — Not London, Paris or NYC (ABC News)

Think you know which city is the world’s most visited? If you guessed London, New York or Paris, you would have guessed wrong.

According to the recently released Global Destinations Cities Index by MasterCard, an Asian city tops the list of having the most international visitor arrivals in 2013. The winning city narrowly inched out London, the top spot in 2012, for the No. 1 spot by 200,000 visitors. This year is the first time since the launch of the Index in 2010 that an Asian city came in at No. 1.

And the winner is: Bangkok.

The capital of Thailand, according to the Index, posted 18 percent growth rates in the past two years. Two years ago, Bangkok ranked No. 3 on the Index.

Istanbul and Dubai also showed dramatic growth in international visitors. While Paris’ position remained unchanged since last year (No. 3), it’s the only city in the top 20 that shows a projected decline in the number of international visitors.

“Destination cities in emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia are expanding the fastest in being connected to the rest of the world through having more flights to more cities, and more frequent flights to cities where they are already connected,” the report noted. “This will strongly drive the growth of their visitor arrivals and cross-border spending in the coming years.”

Only two U.S. cities made the Index’s top 20: New York City, which came in at No. 5, and Los Angeles, coming at No. 20.

When it came to visitor spending, however, New York did take the top spot, with an estimated $18.6 billion in international overnight visitor spending. By that measure, Bangkok, with $14.3 billion, ranked No. 4.

Index Ranking by Number of International Visitors (in millions):

1. Bangkok 15.98

2. London 15.96

3. Paris 13.92

4. Singapore 11.75

5. New York 11.52

6. Istanbul 10.37

7. Dubai 9.89

8. Kuala Lumpur 9.20

9. Hong Kong 8.72

10. Barcelona 8.41

11. Seoul 8.19

12. Milan 6.83

13. Rome 6.71

14. Shanghai 6.50

15. Amsterdam 6.35

16. Tokyo 5.80

17. Vienna 5.37

18. Taipei 5.19

19. Riyadh 5.05

20. Los Angeles 4.84

African warlord Kony poaching elephants to survive

Posted in News with tags on June 4, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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African warlord Kony poaching elephants to survive

Associated PressBy RODNEY MUHUMUZA | Associated Press – 16 hrs ago

 

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2006 file photo, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army Joseph Kony answers journalists' questions following a meeting with UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland at Ri-Kwangba in southern Sudan. The United States is looking for ways to ensure the hunt for wanted warlord Joseph Kony continues in Central African Republic despite a change in leadership in the country that has forced the search to be suspended, a State Department official said Thursday, April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Stuart Price, File-Pool)

Associated Press/Stuart Price, File-Pool – FILE – In this Nov. 12, 2006 file photo, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army Joseph Kony answers journalists’ questions following a meeting with UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland at Ri-Kwangba in southern Sudan. The United States is looking for ways to ensure the hunt for wanted warlord Joseph Kony continues in Central African Republic despite a change in leadership in the country that has forced the search to be suspended, a State Department official said Thursday, April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Stuart Price, File-Pool)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Members of a militia run by fugitive African warlord Joseph Kony are killing elephants across Central Africa to support Kony’s struggling group, according to a report by watchdog organizations that are urging the expansion of programs to encourage defections from the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The Enough Project, the Satellite Sentinel Project and two other groups said in the report released Monday that the LRA has turned to elephant poaching “as a means to sustain itself,” and that the militia uses money from the illegal trade in ivory to acquire food and other supplies.

“With prices at record-high levels, trading illegal ivory offers the LRA another way to sustain itself in addition to its habitual pillaging,” the report said. “Former senior fighters who defected from the group report that the LRA trades ivory for arms, ammunition, and food.”

The report said Kony, a cruel warlord who is accused of using boys as fighters and girls as sex slaves, gave the order to butcher elephants for their ivory as far back as 2010. Former captives say that LRA groups in Central African Republic and Congo “trade ivory with unidentified people who arrive in helicopters.”

In February Ugandan troops operating in Central African Republic discovered six elephant tusks believed to have been hidden in the bush by the LRA. Ugandan army officials said at the time that they were acting on information given by an LRA defector who said Kony long ago instructed his fighters to find ivory and bring it to him.

Experts say that Africa’s elephants are under increased threat from habitat loss and poachers motivated by rising demand for ivory in Asia. About 70 years ago, up to 5 million elephants are believed to have roamed sub-Saharan Africa. Today fewer than a million remain. The elephants of Central Africa, a region long plagued by armed conflict and lawlessness, are especially vulnerable. Much of the harvested ivory ends up as small trinkets.

The new report said Congo’s expansive but poorly protected Garamba National Park, which once was used by LRA commanders as safe haven, is the source of some of the ivory that ends up before Kony. But Garamba’s elephants also are being targeted by “members of the armed forces of (Congo), South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda,” the report said, citing the concerns of park rangers there.

It said the LRA is part of “the larger poaching crisis that puts wild African elephants at risk of local extinction.”

Facing pressure from U.S.-backed African Union troops tasked with eliminating its leaders, the LRA —which used to have several thousand men — is now degraded and scattered in small numbers in Congo, South Sudan, and Central African Republic. Fewer than 500 LRA rebels are still active in the bush, according to the Ugandan military, but they can conduct hit-and-run operations that terrorize villagers and move across the region’s porous borders in small groups.

Kony himself is believed to be highly mobile, but the U.S.-based watchdog group Resolve said in a report in April that he recently directed killings from an enclave protected by the Sudanese military. Until early this year, Resolve’s report said, Kony and some of his commanders were operating in Kafia Kingi, a disputed area along the Sudan-South Sudan border where African troops tasked with catching Kony don’t have access. Sudan’s government denies this charge.

Kony, whose rebellion originated in Uganda before spreading to other parts of Central Africa, was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Last year he became the focus of international attention after the advocacy group Invisible Children released a popular online video highlighting LRA crimes and calling for Kony to be stopped from recruiting children.

Some 100 U.S. military advisers are helping Uganda-led African troops to hunt down Kony and other LRA commanders. Their mission was recently set back by a change in government in Central African Republic, where former rebels who now control the country are reportedly hostile to foreign troops. Anti-Kony operations there have been suspended since April, raising fears among watchdog groups that the LRA could use the opportunity to recruit or regroup.

Poaching has also been rampant in the Dzanga-Sangha reserve in the rainforests of southwestern Central African Republic where more than 3,400 forest elephants roam, conservationists have reported. The political chaos since March has allowed poaching to escalate, and anti-poaching rangers who fled the rebel-controlled areas said that Sudanese hunters are now working in tandem with the armed rebels who overthrew the government in March.

 

5 Surprising Facts About Breadwinner Moms

Posted in News with tags on May 30, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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5 Surprising Facts About Breadwinner Moms

Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 29 May 2013 Time: 11:09 AM ET
CREDIT: Mom feeding baby image viaShutterstock 

More American moms than ever are the breadwinners in their family, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center. Working mothers are now the sole or primary source of income in 40 percent of all U.S. households with kids under 18, Pew found. In 1960, that number was just 11 percent.

But not all families with breadwinning moms are the same, and the public still has varying opinions about women heading up a household. Here are five facts from the report that might surprise you:

1. Most breadwinner moms are single

Today, there are 5.1 million married mothers with a higher income than their husbands, but they only make up 37 percent of all breadwinner moms, according to Pew. Most breadwinner moms in the United Sates — 8.6 million, or 63 percent — are single mothers, and there’s a big demographic gap between the two groups. Married mothers who earn more than their husbands are disproportionately white and college educated, and they have a much higher total family income than households led by a single mother, $80,000 in 2011 compared with $23,000 for single moms.

2. Married couples earn more with breadwinner mom

Among families with a married couple at the helm, total income is higher when the wife is the primary breadwinner. Pew found that the median family income was $80,000 in 2011 when a mother earned more than her spouse. That was roughly $2,000 more than the total median income for families with a father breadwinner and $10,000 more than the total income for families led by couples with the same income.

3. Americans still ambivalent about women outside the home

A whopping 79 percent of respondents in Pew’s survey rejected the idea that women should return to their traditional roles in the home, and 63 percent disagree that it is better for a marriage if a husband earns more than his wife. At the same time, 51 percent said children are better off with a stay-at-home mom. Only 8 percent said the same about dads. Men and women had different views on the matter, Pew found. Whereas 57 percent of men said children are better off if their mother stays home, 45 percent of women said the same. [5 Ways Motherhood Has Changed Over Time]

4. More married mothers better educated than husbands

Education levels of all women are on the rise, which may be contributing to the increased share of mothers who out-earn their husbands. Whereas most married couples come from similar educational backgrounds, the proportion of families with a more-educated mom is growing. In 2011, 23 percent of married mothers had earned a higher education than their spouses, up from just 7 percent in 1960, Pew found.

5. Concern about single moms is fading

The share of single-mom households has grown over the past several decades. Within that group, the share of never-married mothers is on the rise: 44 percent in 2011, compared with 4 percent in 1960. But concern about the growing trend of single moms seems to be fading. Sixty-four percent of Americas said it was “big problem,” Pew found. While that’s still a majority, it’s down from 71 percent who said the same as recently as 2007.

Younger generations and Democrats are less concerned about the uptick in unwed moms than older adults and Republicans. Among adults under 30, 42 percent saw it as big problem, compared with 65 percent of those in their 30s and 40s, and 74 percent of the 50 and older set. Fifty-one percent of Democrats identified the trend as a big problem, while 78 percent of Republicans shared that view.

The Pew report was based largely on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data and a recent April 25-28 survey that polled a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults through phone interviews.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescienceFacebook & Google+.Original article on LiveScience.com.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens

Posted in News with tags , on May 25, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens

May 20, 2013

Read more: http://nation.time.com/2013/05/20/mile-wide-tornado-flattens-oklahoma-city-suburb/#ixzz2UJSS2lOP

A huge tornado with 200-m.p.h. (322 km/h) winds devastated the town of Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, on Monday afternoon. At least 24 people — including children — died in the disaster, according to the state medical examiner’s office. That number is expected to rise. Officials said search-and-rescue efforts would continue throughout the night.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens

PAUL HELLSTERN / THE OKLAHOMAN / AP

A tornado with 200mph winds passes across south Oklahoma City, May 20, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
JEWEL SAMAD / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

Lightning strikes during a thunder storm as tornado survivors search for salvagable stuffs at their devastated home on May 23, 2013, in Moore, Okla.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
ADREES LATIF / REUTERS

From left: Junior Morales, 11, and his cousin David Manazano, 13, look at damage caused to their aunt’s house while helping to salvage family belongings in Moore, Oklahoma, two days after the Oklahoma City suburb was left devastated by a tornado on May 22, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
RICK WILKING / REUTERS

A sign outside the Plaza Towers elementary school, where seven children died in a tornado, says today was to be “Super Kids Day” in Moore, Oklahoma May 22, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
DANNY WILCOX FRAZIER / REDUX FOR TIME

Christine Jones hugs her daughter, Ashley, as the family searches what is left of the family home in Moore, Okla., May 22, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
JEWEL SAMAD / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

A man salvages belongings from what left of a bedroom of his tornado devastated home on May 21, 2013 in Moore, Okla.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
RICK WILKING / REUTERS

Sarah Dick reads a Doctor Suess book to her three-year-old daughter Jadyn at the driveway of her tornado-destroyed house in Oklahoma City, May 22, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
RICK WILKING / REUTERS

Men lift a wall in an effort to salvage belongings from their tornado-ravaged homes in Moore, Okla., May 21, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
ADREES LATIF / REUTERS

Danielle Stephan holds boyfriend Thomas Layton as they pause between salvaging through the remains of a family member’s home one day after a tornado devastated the town Moore, Okla., May 21, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
TONY GUTIERREZ / AP

A home demolished by Monday’s tornado, in Moore, Okla., May 21, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
TONY GUTIERREZ / AP

An aerial view of Monday’s tornado path is seen Tuesday, May 21, 2013 in Moore, Okla.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
JEWEL SAMAD / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

A man searches through a destroyed liquor store on May 21, 2013 in Moore, Okla.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
DANNY WILCOX FRAZIER / REDUX FOR TIME

An American flag sits in the remains of a destroyed home in Moore, Okla., May 21, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
DANNY WILCOX FRAZIER / REDUX FOR TIME

A man walks through a destroyed neighborhood near the Briarwood Elementary School in Oklahoma City, May 21, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
BRENNAN LINSLEY / AP

Chad Heltcel, center, hands a newly-recovered antique doll cherished by his mother to Jimmy Hodges, as the Heltcel family and friends salvage the wreckage of their home in Moore, Okla., May 21, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
JOSHUA LOTT / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

A man stands on the roof of a destroyed home on May 21, 2013 in Moore, Okla.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
JOSHUA LOTT / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

June Simson embraces her cat Sammi after she found him standing on the rubble of her destroyed home on May 21, 2013 in Moore, Okla.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
DANNY WILCOX FRAZIER / REDUX FOR TIME

Family and friends dig through the remains of a home in Moore, Okla., May 21, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
KENNETH M. RUGGIANO FOR TIME

Two men survey the damage done to the Moore Medical Center by the deadly tornado. Darkness begins to fall, and lights are brought in so work can continue

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
KENNETH M. RUGGIANO / REDUX FOR TIME

A woman on Kings Manor Drive surveys damage inside her home in Moore, Okla., on May 20, 2013

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills DozensResidents and first responders dig after a police canine alerted them to an area beneath a car in what once was a kitchen.

KENNETH M. RUGGIANO / REDUX FOR TIME

Residents and first responders dig after a police canine alerted them to an area beneath a car in what once was a kitchen

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
KENNETH M. RUGGIANO / REDUX FOR TIME

Cori Griffith stands in the driveway of her family’s home after a deadly tornado struck Moore, Okla., on May 20, 2013

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
KENNETH M. RUGGIANO / REDUX FOR TIME

Debbie Guidry and her daughter Ashley Brauer hug as Brauer and her husband arrive. The home Brauer grew up in was destroyed by the deadly tornado that struck Moore, Okla., on May 20, 2013

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
SUE OGROCKI / AP

A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., on May 20, 2013

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
SUE OGROCKI / AP

A fire burns in the Tower Plaza Addition in Moore, Okla., following a tornado, May 20, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
RICK WILKING / REUTERS

Destroyed neighborhoods in Moore, Okla., May 21, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
PAUL HELLSTERN / THE OKLAHOMAN / AP

Teachers carry children away from Briarwood Elementary school after a tornado destroyed the school in south Oklahoma City, May 20, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
PAUL HELLSTERN / THE OKLAHOMAN / AP

A teacher hugs a child at Briarwood Elementary school after a tornado destroyed the school in south Oklahoma City, May 20, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
RICHARD ROWE / REUTERS

A man and two children walk through debris after a huge tornado struck Moore, Okla.,, near Oklahoma City, May 20, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
SUE OGROCKI / AP

A child calls to his father after being pulled from the rubble of the Tower Plaza Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., May 20, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens

GENE BLEVINS / REUTERS

Rescue workers help free one of the 15 people that were trap at a medical building at the Moore hospital complex after a tornado tore through the area of Moore, Okla., May 20, 2013

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens

BRETT DEERING / GETTY IMAGES

Dana Ulepich searches inside a room left standing at the back of her house destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Okla.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens

SARAH PHIPPS / THE OKLAHOMAN / AP

People react in front of the Towers Plaza Elementary school in Moore following a deadly tornado, May 20, 2013.

Deadly tornado strikes Oklahoma
STEVE GOOCH / AP

Remains of homes are left after a massive tornado struck Moore, Okla., Monday May 20, 2013.

Tornado Flattens Suburb Outside Oklahoma City, Kills Dozens
RICHARD ROWE / REUTERS

Overturned cars are seen after a huge tornado touched down in the town of Moore, near Oklahoma City, May 20, 2013.

Crime at Sea: The World’s Most Dangerous Waters

Posted in News with tags on May 21, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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Crime at Sea: The World’s Most Dangerous Waters

CNBCBy Ted Kemp, CNBC | CNBC – 16 hours ago

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/crime-at-sea–the-world-s-most-dangerous-waters-171430018.html

Maritime piracy returned from days of old to become a front-of-mind issue for governments, shipping companies, cruise lines, energy firms, global conglomerates and—perhaps most immediately—for sailors in the earliest part of the 21st Century. Since then, while some former piracy hot spots aren’t as “hot” as they once were, the criminal phenomenon has persisted and spread globally.

When CNBC first examined the world’s most dangerous waters in 2008, Somalian pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and coastal Somalia easily dominated as the globe’s most prolific, according to data compiled by the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre. Somalia and the Gulf of Aden still have treacherous waters, but no longer the worst: Over the last five quarters, examined here, a new country’s national waters have become the most heavily pirated on earth.

Also changed are the tactics used to combat piracy. National navies have become much more active in the fight against piracy, and commercial tankers and cargo vessels increasingly employ armed security—a concept that was rare and even discouraged in many maritime circles as recently as 2008.

As may be expected, however, as greater arms have come to bear against the pirates, the maritime brigands have honed their tactics and beefed up their armament as well. Read on here for a look at the world’s most pirate-infested waters, and learn about individual attacks from each place.
1. Indonesia (43 Pirate Attacks Since January 1, 2012)
Attacked Vessel: Rudolf Schulte
National Flag: Singapore
Vessel Type: Chemical Tanker
Date: Sept. 3, 2012

Indonesia’s 17,500 islands and their surrounding waters now take the title as the world’s most heavily pirated. Shortly before 11 p.m. at Belawan Anchorage, the docked Rudolf Schulte, shown here, was boarded by six pirates who climbed aboard using a long bamboo pole topped with a metal hook. A sailor on duty spotted the men, who were armed with guns and knives. The pirates noticed the sailor as well, and attacked him as he tried to contact the ship’s bridge on a handheld radio. The robbers swiped his walkie-talkie, thrust him to the deck and bound him. They then turned to the ship’s stores and began to plunder. The raiding may have distracted the pirates, however, as the sailor managed to free himself and take off on foot toward the bridge. He raised a general alarm. The sound frightened the pirates, who fled. Indonesian authorities were informed, but as is often the case, their efforts were too little, too late. The six pirates, with their contraband, escaped into the night, free to attack again.

2. Somalia (31 Pirate Attacks)
Attacked Vessel: MSC Jasmine
National Flag: Panama
Vessel Type: Container
Date: Jan. 5, 2013

Somalian piracy isn’t as widespread as it was five years ago, but it’s still a serious problem. The mostly Ukrainian crew of MSC Jasmine was underway in broad daylight when six pirates in a skiff began chasing their ship. Shortly afterward, the attackers opened fire with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. The master of MSC Jasmine raised an alert, sent most of his sailors to the ship’s citadel, and ordered his security team to return fire. The pirates retreated, but didn’t get far. Two warships responding to MSC Jasmine’s distress signal, the American USS Halyburton and French FS Surcouf, intercepted the skiff and caught its mother ship to boot. Twelve pirates were taken into custody.

3. Nigeria (22 Pirate Attacks)
Attacked Vessel: PM Salem
National Flag: Honduras
Vessel Type: Offshore Support Vessel
Date: Dec. 13, 2012

Pirates arm themselves no matter where on the globe they operate, but perhaps no pirates on earth arm themselves with such high-caliber weapons as the pirates in Nigeria have over the last year. PM Salem was underway about 25 nautical miles southwest of Bayelsa, Nigeria, when pirates in a boat approached quickly from the rear of the vessel. The interlopers were armed with machine guns, and began firing on PM Salem, pictured, as they chased the Honduran vessel. The ship’s master opened up his throttle, fired off a distress message and ordered all crew except for himself and the onboard security team to a safe room. The security team took positions on PM Salem’s stern and returned fire. A vicious fight ensued and went on for 20 minutes before the security team finally drove off the attackers. Their successful efforts came at a horrific price, however: Three security team members were shot, one of them losing his life.

4. Gulf of Aden (10 Pirate Attacks)
Attacked Vessel: North Sea
National Flag: Singapore
Vessel Type: Tanker
Date: Feb. 22, 2012

Sometimes, the pirates shoot back. Crewmembers aboard the North Sea were already on alert after spotting a suspicious dhow—a wooden sailing vessel that pirates sometimes use as a “mother ship”—in the vicinity. Shortly after, the men saw a small skiff about 1.5 nautical miles away and closing in at 20 knots. The ship’s master sent a distress signal to the UK Maritime Trade Operation, a Royal Navy fleet that runs anti-pirate patrols in the Gulf of Aden. The British, though far distant, replied that they would immediately dispatch a military helicopter. The skiff drew closer, and security personnel aboard the North Sea saw that the pirates were armed with AK-47 assault rifles. Security fired warning shots, and the pirates immediately fired back. A ship-to-ship firefight broke out, with the pirates reeling off more than 50 rounds. Finally, they broke off the attack. Despite an extensive aerial search, the pirates were never located.

5. (tie) India (7 Pirate Attacks)
Attacked Vessel: Maersk Visual
National Flag: Singapore
Vessel Type: LPG Tanker
Date: July 4, 2012

It doesn’t take a speed boat to steal from a ship that’s sitting still. The six pirates who attacked the Maersk Visual, seen here, arrived at the anchored tanker just before 7 a.m. in a long, wooden boat with a sail and oars. The Maersk Visual’s officer of the watch spotted the boat alongside and ordered a sailor to investigate. The sailor spotted two strange men hauling ship property across the deck and gave chase. The pirates jumped into their wooden boat and started rowing. Crewmembers on Maersk Visual raised an alarm and called Visakhapatnam Anchorage port control, but amazingly, the back-to-basics pirates got away with their booty.

Click Here to Read the Full Pirate Slideshow: The World’s Most Dangerous Waters

6 Unique Ways to Be Successful and Happy

Posted in News with tags on May 18, 2013 by 2eyeswatching

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6 Unique Ways to Be Successful and Happy

IncBy Steve Tobak | Inc – 22 hours ago

http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/6-unique-ways-to-be-successful-and-happy-173157808.html

 

Happy at Work

What if the key to becoming successful and happy is to quit trying to be either? Would that throw a wrench into your career goals? Make a mess of your life plans? If so, then you need to read this.

Here’s the thing. Never before have there been so many people spending so much time searching for the secrets to a successful career and a happy life. Which is really a shame because they’re not going to find either, at least not that way.

There are lots of reasons why that is, but the most glaringly obvious one is that nobody ever got anywhere by doing what everyone else is doing.

Think about it. The world has never been more competitive. If you want to have a fulfilling career and live a good life, you’ve got to get ahead of the competition. The only way to do that is to do things differently, to find your own unique path that works for you.

Here are six ways to do that, to become successful and happy.

Build real relationships. What a novel concept, right? While everyone else is wasting their time developing their personal brands and building huge online networks, get out and spend time with real people in the real world. One-on-one in real time. That’s the only place you’ll find real opportunity and friendship. And that’s where success and happiness comes from. No kidding.

Groom yourself. Want to know how great companies that churn out hundreds of future CEOs develop their talent? They identify and recruit up-and-comers and then groom them by moving them around into different areas and situations. That’s how they learn a broad range of skills. Experience. Get out in the world. Try different things. Get your hands dirty. That’s how you’ll find opportunity and figure out what makes you happy.

Do nothing. So much of life is out of our control. We never seem to have enough information to solve tough problems and make important decisions. When you need to gain some perspective, resist the urge to seek out more information. Turn off all the sources of communication, all the noise that distracts you. Just be quiet and listen to your own inner thoughts. Don’t judge them; just listen. The answers to life’s most difficult challenges are always there.

Work for a great company. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur these days. Here’s a novel thought. Go work for a great company. Learn from people smarter, more accomplished, more experienced than you. Learn from the pros. Find a mentor or two. Learn how business works in the real world. Figure out how you can help that company be even better. What you can bring to the party that really matters and nobody else is doing. If you’re meant to be an entrepreneur, an opportunity will come to you. And you’ll be ready for it.

Do one thing at a time. Everyone’s so distracted with social media and all their slash jobs these days, try picking one thing you really want to do and just get it done. Prioritize. It’ll provide a sense of accomplishment and control. It’ll help you build confidence. Even if it fails, you’ll learn from the experience. And you’ll gain strength from knowing that failure didn’t kill you. That will make you more resilient and give you courage to tackle bigger things.

Be good to yourself. Most people who want a lot out of life are their own worst enemy. They take themselves too seriously. Judge themselves too harshly. Expect too much out of themselves and others. If you can learn to let go of all your expectations, quit trying so hard to get somewhere, you’ll learn that just being you, present in this moment, is all that matters. That’s what life is all about. And that’s when all good things will come to you. Success, happiness, everything.

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