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31/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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Nineteen Hours of Ramadan Sunlight for Muslims in Alaska

Muslims in the U.S. state of Alaska face nearly 20 hours of daylight during the fasting month of Ramadan. VOA Hausa reporter Yusuf Harande went to Alaska to see how some Muslims are adjusting to the long days.

31/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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Muslim Americans Run for Charity During Ramadan Fast

During the month of Ramada, millions of U.S. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. This year, Ramadan has fallen in May. Already temperatures in Washington, D.C., have risen above 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit.) Running while fasting on hot days can be challenging and ill-advised. Still about 70 fasting Muslims took part in a fundraising run to help raise $100,000 for children with special needs. VOA’s Niala Mohammad has more.

31/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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National Spelling Bee Crowns 8 Co-Champions

Eight contestants won the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday night, the first eight-way tie in the 94-year history of the competition.

The six boys and two girls ages 12 to 14 and from six states, Alabama, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.

“We’re throwing the dictionary at you, and, so far, you are showing the dictionary who’s the boss,” the bee’s pronouncer, Jacques Bailly, told the remaining eight after 18 rounds of competition.

They were: Rishik Gandhasri (auslaut), Erin Howard (erysipelas), Abhijay Kodali (palama), Shruthika Padhy (aiguillette), Rohan Raja (odylic), Christopher Serrao (cernuous), Sohum Sukhatankar (pendeloque), and Saketh Sundar (bougainvillea).

The self-dubbed “octo-champs” spelled words that included aiguillette, bougainvillea, erysipelas, and pendeloque.

Each winner will receive $50,000 in cash and a trophy.

This year’s tournament at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland began with 562 contestants from across the United States, its territories and six other countries.

30/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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Superman Building Makes National List of Endangered Places

Providence’s iconic Superman Building is included on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of the nation’s most endangered historic places.

 

The 2019 list highlights 11 architectural and cultural sites the private nonprofit deems at risk because of neglect, development or other threats.

 

The 91-year-old vacant skyscraper is Rhode Island’s tallest building at around 430 feet (131 meters). Formally the Industrial Trust Building, it resembles the Daily Planet headquarters in the old TV show.

 

Katherine Malone-France, the National Trust’s interim chief preservation officer, says few buildings in Providence are as iconic or beloved, but the Superman Building has deferred maintenance needs after six years of vacancy.

 

The National Trust says the list can mobilize support for preservation. This year’s list also includes Nashville’s Music Row and the National Mall Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

 

 

30/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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Washington Restaurants Urged to Cater to Muslims During Ramadan

At a mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, outside Washington, a large number of Muslims are reciting evening prayers before they break their daily fast at sunset for Ramadan.

Afterward, some go home to eat Iftar, the daily meal shared with family and friends after fasting, while others break their fast at a restaurant. The problem with going out is that many restaurants close too early. That mostly leaves some 24-hour restaurants that serve fast food.

Now there is a new initiative to give Muslims in the Washington area more dining options during Ramadan, called Dine After Dark. The idea is for restaurants to open a couple of hours earlier or later during the holy month, to accommodate Muslims who fast from sunrise to sunset.

Dine After Dark a win-win

Katherine Ashworth Brandt, a graduate student at George Washington University and a Christian, came up with the idea.

Brandt said religious holidays like Christmas are celebrated, so why not Ramadan for people who belong to the third-largest religion in the United States?

In the Washington area alone, Muslims make up about 2% of the population, according to the Pew Research Center. Brandt thinks giving Muslims more places to dine during Ramadan, and restaurants more customers to serve is a win-win for everyone.

“I just want this to be a common business practice because I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “I think treating Muslim customers with respect and appreciation during their holiday season is something customers like and it’s also good for business.”

Be welcoming

So far, only a few restaurants that are already open late have joined the effort, with the hope other eateries will follow.

Among them is a trendy local restaurant group called Busboys and Poets. Owner Andy Shallal hopes by calling attention to the issue that places now closed after dusk will join the Dine After Dark idea to extend their hours during Ramadan and make it a yearly habit.

“Me being a Muslim, I understand the significance of Ramadan, how important it is to people and families to come together and break bread together during this time,” he explained. “It’s not so much what the food is or what you are offering, it’s really about being welcoming.”

Customers like it

Some 80 people from the Muslim Writers Collective of Washington came to Busboys and Poets in downtown Washington to an Iftar to catch up and enjoy traditional food like halal chicken and vegetable dishes.

“I think it’s a great idea to have restaurants open later since Washington is not a city that caters to people late at night,” journalist Nesima Aberra said.

During entertainment on stage, local comedian Louie Al-Hashimi, made the group laugh as he talked about Muslim families.

“A lot of younger people move to Washington for jobs and might not have family nearby or know many people,” he said. “Ramadan is a good time to get to know one another. So, the more places we have to eat together late at night, the better.”

Shallal said he looks forward to the day when spending Iftar in restaurants as well as at home will be considered nothing out of the ordinary.

30/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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Washington Restaurants Encouraged to Cater to Muslims During Ramadan

In the Washington area, there is a push to give Muslims more dining options during Ramadan. Local restaurants would open a couple of hours earlier or later during the holy month to accommodate Muslim customers who fast from sunrise to sunset. The moves give Muslims more places to dine and restaurants more customers to serve. A couple of restaurants that are open late have joined the effort with the hope others will follow. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about the initiative called Dine After Dark.

29/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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S. African Athlete Semenya Appeals Testosterone Ruling 

South African runner Caster Semenya filed an appeal Wednesday against the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to uphold testosterone regulations for some female athletes in track and field. 

 

Attorneys for the two-time Olympic 800-meter champion said she lodged an appeal with the Swiss Federal Tribunal, Switzerland’s supreme court. CAS, sport’s highest court, is based in Switzerland. 

 

Semenya’s appeal focuses on “fundamental human rights,” the attorneys said. 

 

Under the International Association of Athletics Federations’ new rules, upheld by the CAS this month, Semenya is not allowed to run in international races from 400 meters to one mile unless she medically lowers her natural testosterone levels. She said after the CAS decision that she would not take medication and repeated her defiance in Wednesday’s statement announcing her appeal. 

 

“I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete,” Semenya said. “The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am.” 

 

Semenya, 28, who is also a three-time world champion, is one of a number of female athletes with medical conditions known as differences of sex development that cause high levels of natural testosterone. The IAAF says that gives them an advantage over other female athletes because of testosterone’s ability to help athletes build muscle and carry more oxygen in their blood. 

Hormone-suppressing medication

 

The IAAF requires Semenya and others affected by the rules to take hormone-suppressing medication or have surgery if they want to compete in the restricted events. That’s been labeled unethical by leading medical experts, including the World Medical Association, which represents doctors across the world. 

 

Semenya’s attorneys said that “the Swiss federal supreme court will be asked to consider whether the IAAF’s requirements for compulsory drug interventions violate essential and widely recognized public policy values, including the prohibition against discrimination, the right to physical integrity, the right to economic freedom and respect for human dignity.” 

 

Decisions made by CAS can be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal on only a very limited number of grounds. One of them is a ruling that possibly violates a person’s human rights. 

 

Semenya’s attorneys could also seek a temporary suspension of the IAAF rules, which came into effect May 8, to allow her to defend her 800 title at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, in September. The testosterone regulations specify that athletes must reduce their testosterone levels to a level decided by the IAAF for six months consistently before being allowed to run in international events. 

 

Under the current regulations, Semenya can’t run the 800 or 1,500 meters, her favorite events, at any Diamond League meets this season or the world championships. 

29/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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50th Annual World Series of Poker Opens in Las Vegas

The annual World Series of Poker opened Tuesday in Las Vegas with dozens of scheduled card tournaments and a special event to celebrate the 50th run of a series known for minting millionaires each year. 

The seven-week poker festival is expected to again draw tens of thousands of players seeking a piece of a projected combined prize pool of more than $200 million. Buy-ins for the series’ 89 championship events range from $400 to $100,000. 

To celebrate the milestone, owner Caesars Interactive Entertainment has scheduled an awards ceremony and a $500 buy-in, rake-free tournament with a guaranteed prize pool of $5 million. The company is allowing fans and others to choose some of the players who will be recognized at the ceremony. 

“It’s absolutely a way to make them a part of it,” tournament spokesman Seth Palansky said. “The 50th year was a good time to reflect back on sort of where we’ve come both in poker and the World Series of Poker, but we wanted the fans and the players to decide what moments from our 50 years stood out to them.”

People can vote on seven categories, including fan favorite player, the series’ “favorite bad boy” and the four most important players in the tournament’s history. A panel will also put together a list of the 50 greatest poker players. 

Casino owner Benny Binion started the series in 1970 as an invitation-only event. Johnny Moss was declared the winner by the other men at the table and was given a trophy. 

Poker’s popularity in the U.S. erupted in 2003, when Tennessee accountant Chris Moneymaker entered a $39 online poker satellite contest, won an entry to the series’ famed no-limit Texas Hold `em main event and emerged victorious, winning $2.5 million and inspiring other amateur players. 

The series this year will run through July 16 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, west of the Las Vegas Strip. Champions go home richer and with gold bracelets.

The tournament saw a record 123,865 entrants in 2018. The prize pool of over $266 million was divided among 18,105 participants. Twenty-eight of them earned at least $1 million.

Palansky said the tournament keeps going strong because organizers have been open to changes and feedback from players.

“Poker is a unique game. We are just the operator — we deal the cards, we provide the chips and the setup — but they play amongst each other. It’s a peer-to-peer game,” he said. “So, ultimately, the WSOP, we look at it as sort of in the trust of the players, and it’s our job to just listen to their feedback and provide the schedule that meets their needs and demands.”

The tournament’s famed main event starts July 3 with players staking $10,000 to buy in. ESPN and PokerGO will again provide live coverage.

Indianapolis resident John Cynn won the main event last year after playing more than 440 hands at the final table. His cut of the prize pool was $8.8 million.

  

28/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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Smithsonian Appoints Lonnie Bunch as Its 14th Secretary

The founder of the Smithsonian Institution’s newest museum, which focuses on African-American history, has been selected to lead the institution’s entire system of museums and parks.

Tuesday, the Smithsonian Board of Regents appointed Lonnie Bunch as its 14th secretary, becoming the museum’s first African-American leader in its 173-year history.

The 66-year-old Bunch will guide the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, overseeing a $1.5 billion annual budget that helps fund 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo.

Board of Regents chairman David Rubenstein said Bunch’s experience at three museums, reputation and fundraising skills separated him from other candidates.

The appointment comes less than three years after the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

As its first director, Bunch oversaw an 11 year effort to collect more than 40,000 items before the museum opened on the National Mall in 2016. 

The museum immediately became one of Washington’s most popular attractions, drawing more than four million people in its first two and one-half-years.

George Mason University history professor Spencer Crew will serve as the NMAAHC’s interim director.

28/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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Lawyer Accuses Chris Brown of ‘Disrespect’ in Rape Case

The lawyer for a woman who filed a rape complaint in Paris against Chris Brown says the American singer-songwriter “has thumbed his nose at and shown disrespect for the French legal system” after he did not attend a formal meeting with the alleged victim on Tuesday.

Brown was arrested in January then released from custody without charge pending further investigation of the woman’s allegations that he and two other men raped her at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris. The Grammy winner called the accusation false.

“His failure to appear today is very unfair to my client, but I assure him that my client will not be deterred from seeking justice,” said American lawyer Gloria Allred, who traveled to Paris judicial police’s headquarters to assist her client at the meeting, which in France is called a confrontation.

The woman’s French lawyer, Jean-Marc Descoubes, said Brown was not legally obliged to attend the meeting. The two other suspects, both American, did not attend the meeting either, Descoubes said, adding he expects another date to be set.

“If he doesn’t show up a second time we will have to either ask for the preliminary investigation to be closed (to allow for an investigative judge take over the procedure) because we just can’t keep going like this. Or we will ask the prosecutor to put in place more coercive measures, a warrant to get him to come because the confrontation requested by our client is key to this case – a sexual abuse case,” he said.

Brown’s French lawyer, Raphael Chiche, did not immediately answer an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

French police detained Brown and the two others in January on potential charges of aggravated rape and drug infractions. The Paris prosecutor’s office said at the time the investigation hasn’t been closed, but Brown was free to leave the country while it continued.

Allred said Brown “has betrayed the trust of the criminal justice authorities who allowed him to leave France expecting that he would honor his promise to attend the confrontation.”

The AP does not typically identify people alleging sexual assault unless they agree to be named or come forward publicly. Descoubes told the AP his client does not want to be identified.

Brown burst onto the music scene as a teenager and won a Grammy Award in 2011 for best R&B album for “F.A.M.E.”  He has had continued legal troubles since he pleaded guilty to the felony assault in 2009 of his then-girlfriend, Rihanna.

28/05/2019
by MediaExpert
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D-Day’s 75th Anniversary Renews Interest in Some Classrooms 

Kasey Turcol has just 75 minutes to explain to her high school students the importance of D-Day — and if this wasn’t the 75th anniversary of the turning point in World War II, she wouldn’t devote that much time to it.

D-Day is not part of the required curriculum in North Carolina — or in many other states.

Turcol reminds her students at Crossroads FLEX High School in Cary that D-Day was an Allied victory that saved Europe from Nazi tyranny and that the young men who fought and died were barely older than they are. She sprinkles her lesson with details about the number of men, ships and planes involved in the landing at Normandy while adding a few lesser-known facts about a Spanish spy and a deadly military practice conducted six months earlier in England.

Losing resonance

In the U.S. and other countries affected by the events on June 6, 1944, historians and educators worry that the World War II milestone is losing its resonance with today’s students.

In France, which was liberated from German occupation, D-Day isn’t a stand-alone topic in schools. German schools concentrate on the Holocaust and the Nazi dictatorship. And despite having been part of the Allied powers, in Russia, the schools avoid D-Day because they believe it was the victories on the Eastern Front that won the war.

“History has taken a back seat” in the U.S. because of the focus on science and math classes, said Cathy Gorn, executive director of National History Day in College Park, Md. 

In the U.S., teaching about World War II varies from state to state. It’s often up to the teachers to decide how much time they want to give to individual battles like D-Day.

California framework

California’s History-Social Science Framework, adopted in 2016, includes for sophomores an expansive unit on World War II that covers how the conflict was “a total war,” the goals of the Allied and Axis powers and how the fighting was fought on different fronts. The unit also includes a section on the Holocaust. 

In New York, school officials are using the D-Day anniversary to review the curriculum and “make recommendations on how the current average time of 90 minutes of World War II study in a school year can be strengthened, expanded and mandated.” 

There are special programs available to immerse select students in the history of D-Day. 

For eight years, National History Day sent 15 pairs of students and teachers to Normandy to immerse them in the history of D-Day. The high school sophomores and juniors would research individual soldiers close to them — relatives or people from their hometowns — who died. On the last day, the group visited a cemetery where each student read a eulogy for his or her individual soldier. 

Teachers also have outside resources. The National World War II Museum offers an electronic field trip through D-Day and provides suggested lessons plans.

In North Carolina, history is taught through “conceptual design” with connections to themes such as geography, economics and politics, said Meghan Grant, coordinating teacher for secondary social studies in Wake County schools.  

The lessons are based on a method of teaching social studies that was developed in 2013 and used by about half the states, said Larry Paska, executive director of the National Council for the Social Studies. Paska said it may focus on asking students a question like, “What makes an event a turning point in the war?” Students then will use difference sources of evidence to back up their answers.

‘This is the moment’

As part of her D-Day lesson, Turcol tells her class of juniors and seniors that the Germans thought an attack from the Allied forces wouldn’t be possible.  

“It’s too stormy. It’s too risky,” she said. “And what do we do? Yeah, we find a glimmer of hope. On June 5th, the skies kind of clear. The moon kind of shines. And we’re like, ‘This is the moment. This is what is happening.’ ”

She tells students that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower kept D-Day plans on the “down low.”  

Turcol plays a few minutes of a documentary about D-Day to “show you the true humanity of the war,” she says.  

“You saw the German praying … asking for his mother, father, asking for this to be over. Not everybody is on the same message in Germany,” she says. “Everybody here is a father, a mother, a brother, a cousin, a friend. So every life matters.”

Students in Europe also receive dramatically different lessons on D-Day depending on where they live.

Because of Germany’s history, any hint of militarism remains a taboo. While battles like D-Day, Stalingrad and the Operation Barbarossa invasion of Russia might be mentioned briefly in schools, they tend to be lumped together in broad overviews of the war. Individual teachers do have leeway, however, to pursue topics that capture the attention of students. 

The curriculum is similar from state to state. In Berlin high schools, for example, curriculum guidelines include the history of the war under the overall focus on “the collapse of the first German democracy; Nazi tyranny,” which includes classes on Nazi ideology, resistance movements, the Holocaust and World War II.

Similarly, Bavaria’s ninth-grade curriculum focuses primarily on explaining how the Nazis came to power and their anti-Semitic ideology and genocidal policies, with the war taught briefly as part of their “expansion and conquest policies.”  In the 11th grade, the focus is even more directly on the Holocaust, and the curriculum guidelines note specific dates to be learned, including the anti-Jewish “Kristallnacht” pogrom in 1938.

The Russian narrative on D-Day has remained almost unchanged since the days of the Soviet Union. Historians and schoolbooks describe the invasion as a long-awaited move, happening after the course of WWII had already been shaped by Soviet victories in the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk and other battles on the Eastern Front.

Even in the country where D-Day occurred, the assault doesn’t have a central place in the teaching of World War II. The history of 20th century conflict is taught in France as a theme and no longer as a chronological list of major battles.

A week of lessons ‘not possible’

“We no longer teach as we did before, what we called ‘the history of battles,’ ” says Christine Guimonnet, who teaches history at a high school west of Paris and is secretary-general of the APHG, a French association of history and geography teachers. “Everyone will, of course, speak about June 6 because it was a major moment in the war, but we’re not going to spend a whole week on it. That’s not possible.” 

As long as they are still teaching the broader themes, French teachers may home in on specific events, like D-Day, to organize study projects and, if they have the budget, trips to Normandy beaches, museums or screenings of The Longest Day, a 1962 film about the events of D-Day. 

As cultural director at Normandy’s Caen Memorial, Isabelle Bournier deals daily with school groups that tour the museum. French children often aren’t familiar with the details of D-Day, partially because fewer families have relatives who lived through the war and can pass on their stories, she said.

Students from Normandy are different from the broader French student population, she said.

“All families are more or less impregnated by this history. It is part of us,” Bournier said.