BELGRADE: The Fortress

Belgrade – VIJAY SHAH via TARA GOLDSMITH and ReadyClickAndGo

While the capital of Serbia is not the first place that comes to mind for many when they think of a holiday destination with culture, history and impressive sights, Belgrade is in some ways an undiscovered treasure for those looking for something a bit different, but still ticking all the boxes.

Belgrade, known to its residents as ‘Beograd’, has an ancient history of settlement dating back to the Roman Empire. It was ravaged by the hordes of the Huns, and became an outpost of the Turkish Ottoman empire. In latter years, it was the capital of the Communist union of Yugoslavia, and saw much fighting, bloodshed and bombing during the collapse of that country in the early 1990s. By the end of the decade, Belgrade was bombed by NATO forces during the independence war of Kosovo. After all that mayhem, Belgrade has reinvented itself as a hip city of fashion, art and music that attracts young European things like wasps to honey.

Even with the modernisation and revamping characteristic of Belgrade now, the city has not let go of its history. Of particular importance is what is called by English-speaking tourists the Fortress. Located on the right bank of the Sava river which cuts through the city, the Fortress is chunky, stony and covers a great area of land, an inspiring monolith of masonry. The complex is said to be the final resting place of the great marauder and general Attila the Hun and was once the greatest military fortification in all of Europe.

The Fortress predates the Hun though. It was built in fact by the Romans who needed a strong fortification on the eastern fringes of their expansive empire to protect against tribes looking to overrun the territory. It was at first a Roman military camp and the largest structure in Belgrade’s ancestor, known in Latin as ‘Singidunum’.

 

After repeated incursions, the Ottoman forces overran Belgrade in 1521. Impressed by the magnitude of Belgrade’s Fortress, the Turks rechristened it Kalemegdan (or in modern Turkish “Kalemeydan”, (kale – city and megdan – field) and added two structures, the first being the fountain of Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic, the other the tomb of Damad Ali Pasha.

Over the years, the fortress became a hot potato, constantly passing between the rule of the Turks and the Austrians. The Austrians also added some cosmetic changes to the Fortress, mainly to its outer wall. The Turks were said to have preferred the local white rock (that is said to have given Belgrade its name) for their renovations, while the Austrians opted for traditional red brick. 

From being a military showpiece contested by regional powers, the Fortress wound up with a less dignified role centuries later. As Yugoslavia dwindled in size in the 1990s, local entrepreneurs turned the Fortress into a nightclub, playing probably house music inside a castle, you could say. Eventually the city government renegotiated the terms of use, and the Fortress was reborn as a local tourist icon and a museum.

The Fortress is split into four parts linked together via eighteen gates in total. The Fortress is large enough that it is considered as two phases, the Upper and Lower Towns, which are home to Orthodox churches, a planetarium, an apparently claustrophobic World War II bunker, and various monuments and museums.

Highlights available to visit today at the Fortress of Belgrade include a collection of Roman sarcophagi, gravestones and Christian church alters brought in from all of Serbia, the National Museum’s Collection of Stone Monuments. The Roman Well (which was actually built by the Austrians with their usual red bricks) was built for water supplies for troops, can be visited for a fee. There is also a clock tower and the 500-year-old Nebojsa Tower, built for the unsuccessful defence strategy against the Ottomans. Indeed the Fortress is essentially a combination of monuments of historical importance, museums, places of interest, religious buildings and parks, mostly with free entry and reasonable opening times. The fortress is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

SOURCES:

Listed@DrStephanieLang, Dr. Stephanie Lang, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/DrStephanieLang/lists/listed-drstephanielang

First Night Design, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/FirstNightArt

TaraGoldsmith, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Best_of_Tara

“BELGRADE FORTRESS” – Tara Goldsmith, ReadyClickAndGo Private Day Trips/ReadyClickAndGo (26 June 2015) https://www.readyclickandgo.com/blog/belgrade-fortress/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Belgrade Fortress, once one of the most powerful military strongholds of Europe” – Jorge Láscar, Flickr (20 August 2012) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlascar/13810353553

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MOTHER NATURE: Nature photo blog marks 5th anniversary

Croydon – VIJAY SHAH with ALEX SMITHSON

Mother Nature, the nature and photographic diary blog of Croydon-based blogging enthusiast Alex Smithson, has marked five years of being online this past week.

Alex has been a long term friend and supporter of HEM News Agency for the past four years, from when it was called the Half-Eaten Mind Blog. Based in the suburban town of Croydon, just south of London, Alex first started working on Mother Nature (under its former simpler title, ‘Photography – Nature’) on the 6th of June, 2013 when he uploaded a number of photography projects taken with a Samsung ST200F camera he carried around with him.

 

Alex began to use the new blog to explore his passions of gaming, technology and nature photography and show his imagery to a steadily growing audience.

Five years on, Mother Nature has gone from strength to strength, chronicling Alex’s pictorial journey around his hometown, his commencement of an A-Level photography course at a local college and even him getting to grips with the graphic design software, GIMP.

While the design and look of Alex’s blog has shifted much over the years, he still uses Mother Nature as a creative venue for his photos of colourful flowers and wildlife. For Alex, photography is a stimulating vocation that has motivated him in the hard work of maintaining his website and keeping the interest flowing.

In addition to his photography and writing work, Alex Smithson has also taken on the mantle of mental health advocate, publicising various issues and neurological conditions,  such as autism, mental health stigma and the impact of social media on youngsters’ minds. The blogger had lent his support to various mental health charities like Depression Alliance, the Samaritans, Mind and others. His advocacy for mental health and neuro-diversity has already won him praise from actor Oli Regan, who collaborated with Alex on one of his articles. Alex plans to further his campaigning for mental health issues through the medium of photography as part of his blog’s fifth anniversary celebrations.

Mother Nature

SOURCES:

“Celebrating 5 Years of Mother Nature!” – Alex Smithson, Mother Nature (6 June 2018) https://asterisk15.wordpress.com/2018/06/06/celebrating-5-years-of-mother-nature/

“Mental Health Organisations” – Alex Smithson, Mother Nature https://asterisk15.wordpress.com/mental-health-organisations/

IMAGE CREDIT:

Alex Smithson/Mother Nature.

EXCEL CAREERS FAIR: Arrives at Newham’s ExCel centre

London – VIJAY SHAH via TOM HORTON and Newham Recorder

The UK’s largest careers fair has made its way to the ExCel centre in Newham, east London this weekend, attracting around 30,000 visitors to the Custom House area in search of new and exciting employment opportunities, local newspaper the Newham Recorder reported on Thursday.

 

Skills London 2017 is geared towards young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and is hosted by London First and Prospects, and is supported by the office of the Mayor of London and the National Careers Service. The event will feature a selection of interactive activities and inspirational careers options for youngsters looking for their future career choice or to enter a new line of work.

The event is open to students, teachers, career advisors and jobseekers, with an astonishing 40,000 jobs on offer from 200 exhibitors from the fields of education, leading employers, training courses and job experts. Companies such as Google, Heathrow Airport and the supermarket chain Tesco and others will be on hand to offer careers advice and guidance.

Skills London is now in its tenth year and has been lauded for its high levels of interactivity and engagement with its target audience in a fun and inspiring atmosphere. Speaking to the Recorder on the fair, Jasmine Whitbread, the chief executive of London First, said: “London’s leading employers are stepping up to help young people make the most of their potential.”

The staging of the event in one of London’s lowest ranking areas for youth employment is also a sign of the recovery of the British economy after the 2008 financial crash which saw young people bear the brunt of job losses and a decline in opportunities.

Skills London 2017 takes place over 24-25 November from 9.30am to 4.00pm. Entry is free.

SOURCES:

Newham Recorder, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/Newham.Recorder/

“UK’s largest careers fair expected to bring 30,000 to the ExCel over the next two days” – Tom Horton, Newham Recorder/Archant (23 November 2017) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/uk-s-largest-careers-fair-expected-to-bring-30-000-to-the-excel-over-the-next-two-days-1-5293496

“Skills London 2017 – ExCeL London 24 & 25 November 2017” – skills London 2017/Skills London http://www.skillslondon.co.uk/Home.aspx

“About”- skills London 2017/Skills London http://www.skillslondon.co.uk/About.aspx

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Youth on the Move – Skills London” – DG EMPL, Flickr (22 November 2014) https://www.flickr.com/photos/socialeurope/15861149125

 

HIGH STREET TV – New senior team appointed at media company

York – VIJAY SHAH via Entirely Yorkshire

A Yorkshire-based retail channel company, High Street TV, has announced the creation of a new team of senior executives which it is hoped will help boost the profile and success of the company, reports the website Entirely Yorkshire.

High Street TV operates five television channels dedicated to shopping in the UK, and is described as the country’s most successful and longest running multi-channel DRTV Home Shopping Channel, diffusing around 3,000 hours of viewing time across its platforms, along with advertising on another fifty channels including major outlets like Channel 4 and Five. The media firm specialises in selling home and fitness goods, such as food preparation devices, electronics and fitness machines. 

 

The company has already enjoyed considerable success in a highly competitive industry, making it to the The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 business rankings of fast-growing firms. High Street TV has also being named the third fastest growing in its native county with a 42nd place ranking in the national league.

The company’s most significant appointment is Andy Haywood. Previously involved with High Street TV as a creative consultant, Haywood will commence a new role as Head of Creative. He has worked in a  creative capacity for several high-profile media companies, agencies and other clients. In a comment attributed to him by Entirely Yorkshire, Haywood said: “The opportunity for me to leave my own footprint on High Street TVs brand identity and creative portfolio is really exciting. We’ve already begun assembling a fantastic team with the knowledge and experience to really push the company’s brand and creativity to another level so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve for High Street TV.”

Alongside Haywood, the shopping channel firm have also hired three other executives who will bring more original content and creativity to High Street TV. Jill Ford, formerly of baby products company Mamas & Papas joins as Senior Designer. Will Parkinson , previously a graphic designer at electronics firm Siemens, will start a new job as Middleweight Designer; and James MacDonald, a Dublin-based medical animation specialist and television director, will take on the mantle of Lead Animator.

High Street TV’s marketing director Francesca Woodward told Entirely Yorkshire: “We were continuously impressed by Andy’s innovative approach to his role as Creative Consultant, so when we were looking towards appointing a Head of Creative, Andy was a natural fit.’

Along with Andy, we’ve welcomed three new employees to the High Street TV team. Will, James and Jill have brought a wealth of experience to the company, and they will work together to strengthen our brand identity through fresh and innovative creative content”

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Business Talk RTG, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/BTRTG

Entirely Yorkshire‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/EntYorkshire

“Newly appointed team at High Street TV” – Entirely Yorkshire https://www.entirelyyorkshire.co.uk/news/retail/york/newly-appointed-team-at-high-street-tv9888?x=3

High Street TV https://www.highstreettv.com/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Free illustration: Shopping, Final Sale, Shopping Cart – Free Image on Pixabay – 1163506” – Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay (28 January 2016) https://pixabay.com/en/shopping-final-sale-shopping-cart-1163506/

QUOTE MOMENT: A problem is an opportunity

 

Everyone hates problems. I do. You do. Hell, even your pet cat probably does. But in the name of positive thinking, it doesn’t hurt to think of a problem as an opportunity to learn, to self-improve and as a challenge to conquer. As strange as it may seem, encountering a problem gives you a chance to consider things from all angles and to find solutions to a) solve said problem; and b) get it out of the way and go back to living and enjoying life. Just as they say you should seize opportunities by the horns, so you must prepare to kick a problem in the rear end, as so to speak. Consider every problem that comes your way as a chance to really do your best and prove yourself. Remember, you may have 99 problems, but being the best certainly isn’t one of them.

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Burton Brown Sr.‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/BurtonBrown

PUBLIC SPEAKING: Ways to overcome the jitters

There comes a point in most people’s lives where they will have to do a bit of public speaking, Whether you end up being the best man toasting the groom during a wedding, or having to do a ‘make-or-break’ presentation for your university degree, public speaking is like jury duty, it is hard to get out of. For many of us, the very thought of standing in front of people, talking and showing things, is enough to leave us in a cold sweat. Paranoid fears of messing everything up or making a verbal faux-pas and embarrassing yourself in front of a whole bunch of people paralyse you, and in a slightly ironic self-fulfilling prophecy, those jitters and fears end up making you screw up the big talk. Big time.

For many people, it is preferable to be buried alive than to get up on stage, but public speaking, such as presentations of quarterly results, speaking at conferences and of course, those cringeworthy wedding speeches, are an important part of becoming successful in both our professional and personal lives. You only have to think of great figureheads such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Malala Yousafzai to understand that many of these people get their message across because they are great orators.

 

A Peruvian non-verbal language analyst and biology expert in human behaviour and neurocommunication, Miguel Figueroa, had published a book “Rompe el miedo y habla en público”, whose English title translates as Breaking Fear and Speaking in Public, late last year, in which he advises on ways to vanquish the trauma associated with public speaking, especially for first-timers. In a special tete-a-tete with Spanish-language online magazine GrandesMedios.com, Figueroa suggests techniques you can adopt to master the fear of speaking to an audience, as well as improving your expression skills.

  1. Bare your sole.

When sitting down for interview or presenting at conferences, for example, you may notice people touching or holding their feet. That is because, in an unconscious way, we instinctively protect the soles of our feet, due to their perceived vulnerability. According to Figueroa, placing the bottom of your feet and holding your feet can help relax you and dissipate any nerves. This is due to a ‘hormonal chain reaction’ that encourages relaxing mindsets, according to Figueroa.

2. Sit down and stay down!

While it is not always possible at all public speaking occasions, taking a seat can help you feel more comfortable and less ‘exposed’. Sitting helps provide mental and physical stability and, according to Figueroa, imparts a sense of confidence and authority of the speaker in the audience’s eyes, like a monarch proclaiming to their court from the throne.

3. Go walkabout and let your feet do the talking

Figueroa advises that public speakers should move around on their feet. At first this may seem strange advice. Surely, you might be thinking, trotting around the stage is the surest sign of nervousness. But Figueroa says that it is in the way you walk. You should take measured steps, first placing your heel on the ground, then bringing the arch down, followed by the toes. By doing this, you will avoid the quick rushed steps associated with someone who is frightened out of their wits, helping you feel more in control of the situation and again, upping the confidence levels, in both your and your audience’s perception.

4. Put your feet up!

Another foot technique to help you relax. Figueroa advises that a few minutes before you go out there and wow them with your wise words, you should find somewhere a bit private where there is a table or desk and literally put your feet up. Doing this will tell our brains that we are relaxed and calm, helping quell the  flight-or-flight feelings currently whizzing through our minds. This tip is especially useful for people attending interviews or auditions, who can do this in the waiting room or lobby before they go. However, do not do this in a public area and especially not in front of your audience. I do not have to tell you that it is the height of bad manners.

5. Do a little striptease

No, we are not advising you to do a sweaty nerve-wracked Full Monty in front of your audience, but Figueroa explains that hiding your hands when speaking is not a good idea as it tells your audience that you are nervous or insecure. To maintain your look of confidence, the best thing to do if you are wearing a long-sleeved garment, is to simply roll up your sleeves, ideally to your elbow.

6. Pose like an Egyptian

The ancient Egyptians saw the pyramid as an important cornerstone in their respect for the dead. It is this humble shape that can also help you bury the feelings of awkwardness in your public speaking. Figueroa suggests placing your hands together with palms slanted towards each other, fingertips touching so that your hands make a sort of pyramid. This hand position suggests balance and intelligence, and is an ideal gesture for saying concrete things, giving messages in depth and when concluding a speech or a negotiation dialogue.

7. Stretch Armstrong

Extending out our hand and fingers, such as when you move your hands when talking, has the advantage of telling you brain that you are in tiger mode, ready to pounce and actively engage the audience. In the audience’s eyes, constant and passionate movement of the hands suggests you want to get their attention and have important mission critical things to say. It also conveys confidence and engagement. A familiar gesture used by expert public speakers is the ‘what to do?’ position.

8. Barriers up!

The last technique Figueroa suggests is to use an object that will act as a barrier and help keep fear away. By holding an object, such as a pointer or a pen, the object serves as a ‘safety placebo’ which will trick the brain into thinking that everything is safe and calm. It is a comforting crutch on a psychological level, and is something that is a legacy of our childhoods from when we would take a stuffed toy to bed before sleep to keep away the big bad monsters in the dark. The barrier can also act as a distraction from negative thoughts or worries, and can be useful for the practicalities of pointing out things to an audience in a presentation.

SOURCES:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Trinadores, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Trinadores

“8 técnicas para superar el miedo a hablar en público” –  GrandesMedios.com/Grandes Medios (18 November 2016) https://www.grandesmedios.com/tecnicas-hablar-en-publico/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Speaking Out – Public speaking made easy” – Christian Heilmann, Flickr (10 February 2010)  https://www.flickr.com/photos/codepo8/4348899776

CHURCH OF THE APES: Scientists think chimps may have religious beliefs

London – VIJAY SHAH via ANDREW GRIFFIN and The Independent

Scientists are studying footage shot by the Chimbo Foundation and PanAf of strange behaviour by a group of African chimpanzees, which they may think indicate the chimps are performing rituals, which may indicate belief in a religion, according to Britain’s The Independent newspaper, and first reported last year (2016).

The footage shows chimps in a forest clearing in an unnamed part of West Africa, carrying stones and arranging them in little ‘cairns’. Mainly though, the chimps, including a mother carrying her baby, are seen hurling rocks against the bases of certain wide-bottomed trees, while screeching loudly. Other apes have been seen throwing smaller rocks into holes in the trees, creating deposits of material. It is surmised that this unusual behaviour, which has only so far been among this West African band of chimps, could be the beginnings of ritual behaviour. The participation of the mother and younger apes means the stone-throwing is highly unlikely to be mating behaviour, and the throwing does not also point to territorial marking.

 

Scientists studying the apes say their strange activities can give an insight into early human rituals and religious beliefs. Ancient humans constructed cairns and other rock formations as part of nature worship, one of the most famous and advanced examples being the UK’s Stonehenge monument. Chimps and other great apes have already shown the kind of intelligence associated with humans, for example in using sticks as tools to extract grubs and ants. Yet the stone-throwing in West Africa does not fulfill a functional purpose, such as finding food.

The researchers, whose institution was not mentioned in the Independent report, but described in the video above as being from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Biology, wrote in their report abstracts on the chimp rituals: “This represents the first record of repeated observations of individual chimpanzees exhibiting stone tool use for a purpose other than extractive foraging at what appear to be targeted trees,”

“The ritualized (sic) behavioural display and collection of artefacts at particular locations observed in chimpanzee accumulative stone throwing may have implications for the inferences that can be drawn from archaeological stone assemblages and the origins of ritual sites”

Interestingly, the scientists also found in their research that people in West Africa who follow traditional religions also enact similar rituals involving the construction of cairns at sacred trees.

In a piece written around the findings, researcher Laura Kehoe described the experience of watching the chimp look around and then fling a rock at the tree trunk.

Nothing like this had been seen before and it gave me goose bumps,” she wrote.

Marking pathways and territories with signposts such as piles of rocks is an important step in human history,” wrote Kehoe. “Figuring out where chimps’ territories are in relation to rock throwing sites could give us insights into whether this is the case here.”

SOURCES:

The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentOnline/

“Mysterious chimpanzee behaviour could be ‘sacred rituals’ and show that chimps believe in god” – Andrew Griffin, The Independent (4 March 2016) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mysterious-chimpanzee-behaviour-could-be-sacred-rituals-and-show-that-chimps-believe-in-god-a6911301.html

VIDEO CREDIT:

“This Could Be First-Ever Observed Ritual Practice Among Chimpanzees” – Hjalmar Kuehl and team/Scientific Reports/MPI-EVA/PanAf/Chimbo Foundation/GeoBeats News, YouTube (1 March 2016) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEQOThqq2pk

 

NATIONAL BLOOD WEEK: NHS encourages blood donors to come forward

London – VIJAY SHAH

As National Blood Week (19-25 June 2017) reaches its end, the U.K National Health Service is encouraging people to come forward and donate blood to help those who need it most, with an online strategy covering websites and social media such as Facebook, HEM News Agency exclusively reports.

The NHS Blood and Transplant division launched National Blood Week with a campaign to get more people visiting their local blood donation centre with a series of advertisements and even a hashtag #ImThere. The campaign was set up to celebrating new and existing blood donors making a difference and helping save people’s lives, according to the NHSBT website.

 

 

Blood donors are being encouraged to proudly announce they have donated via social media to help overcome the reluctance of other members of the public to donate and to solve shortages of certain blood groups, particularly those associated with ethnic minorities.

The NHSBT is particularly keen to get on board more donors of black African and Afro-Caribbean heritage, who are currently vastly underrepresented in the blood donation pool. An appeal was launched to increase the number of black British donors by 40,000, to help fight the effects of sickle cell anaemia among the African and Afro-Caribbean communities. The agency has received support from television presenter Scarlette Douglas, whose brother was a blood transfusion recipient. She spoke with sickle cell sufferer Aaron Thomas on the BBC One Show about the condition and the need for more donors from this community.

Donors are being encouraged to add frames to their Facebook profile photos and special ‘Twibbons’ to their Twitter pages. They can also take a selfie at the blood donation centre and use the #ImThere tag, to get their friends and family to join in and donate too.

NHSBT is also keen to reach out to more people with blood group O- as stocks of this blood type are running very low. The agency runs twenty three permanent centres and visits thousands of venues across England.

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

NHS Blood Donation, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/givebloodnhs/

“Give blood” – NHS Blood and Transplant https://www.blood.co.uk/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=paidsocial&utm_campaign=Junejuly&utm_content=emergency

“National Blood Week 2017” – NHS Blood and Transplant https://www.blood.co.uk/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/national-blood-week-2017/

SULLEE J: “Who Am I” with Don Streat

 

After the successful release of his hit single “Slangin Knowledge” in February of this year, acclaimed Baltimore rapper Sullee J has once again linked up with fellow musician Don Streat to release a brand new track in the past week. Their latest collaboration, “Who Am I” also features the talents of Vietnam & Alyson Blaire. The music video was produced by Profitt Productions Films. It features the rappers in a tough and gritty urban scene of dereliction, interspersed with footage of children labouring in a Congolese mine and news footage of the recent riots in the US and disturbances in Italy. The song talks about the harsh realities of life and of those who went to make it big, only to get dragged deep under in a world of crime, drugs and destitution. Each of the artists comes forward to tell a story in powerful words to make you think about life’s struggles and blessings, while getting you to be awake and conscious, while Alyson Blaire provided the backing chorus, asking the inevitable question that every individual facing the struggle asks…. who am I?

Sullee J (a.k.a Sullee Justice) has announced that he and Don Streat are also commencing work on a new project called The Reprogram, and have been actively recruiting other musicians from the Baltimore hip-hop/rap scene to produce music with a greater purpose. Who Am I is one of the first fruits of the new project’s labour, and has given a platform for upcoming artists like Vietnam and Alyson Blaire to show the world about themselves in their respective verses while  displaying several realities across the globe that cover famine, police brutality, corruption and more. The Reprogram is now opening more opportunities for local artists to become involved with Sullee J and Don Streat and bring out meaningful messages in their bars.

 

officialsulleej.com

SOURCE/IMAGE CREDITS:

Sullee J Management.