IJNET: Mentoring clinic for MENA media startups launched

Amman – VIJAY SHAH via IFCJ

 

The International Journalists’ Network (IJNet)’s Arabic division has launched a new service from its mentoring centre designed to help journalists in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region set up or further develop their media startups, the International Center for Journalists has reported.

The year-long programme, aimed at entrepreneurs developing the next generation of technologically-rich Arabic media, aims to help develop new startups in the regional news economy by providing face-to-face and virtual training which culminates in a conference and media ‘boot camp’ hosted in Jordan. IJNet Arabic is also offering a lump sum seed fund of USD 4,000 (GBP 3,002) to startups with the most promising projects to jumpstart.

IJNet’s Mentoring Centre has run for several years, boosting the presence of independent media and entrepreneurship in a part of the world where most major media outlets are tightly controlled government mouthpieces and freedom of speech is often a luxury. In previous years, the Centre has helped support the development of a digital museum for women in Egypt, an independent Iraqi news agency site and a Moroccan podcast service. 

The media startup mentoring service is accepting applications from journalists from or located in the MENA region up until the end of this month, with the first round of project selections scheduled for June, followed in November by the ARIJ conference and boot camp in Amman in Jordan. The seed funding will be awarded at the end of the programme in March 2019.

SOURCES:

HEM Journalism Portal, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-journalism-portal

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

“IJNet Arabic’s Mentoring Center for MENA Media Startups” – International Center for Journalists https://www.icfj.org/our-work/ijnet-arabic%E2%80%99s-mentoring-center-mena-media-startups

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DENVER POST NEWSPAPER: Three senior staff walk out over staff and budget cuts

Denver – VIJAY SHAH via AP

In a sign of the decline of print journalism in the face of the digital age, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reports that three senior executives of an American paper, the Denver Post, have left their positions in protest at recent cuts in staff and finances at the struggling local outlet. One is reported to have been a former owner of the newspaper, AP reports.

The trimming of operational costs, along with the controversial reduction in staff numbers, was ordered by the Post’s New York-based owners, a hedge fund named Alden Global Capital. As part of the cost-cutting measures, thirty members of staff were let go, substantially reducing the newspaper’s workforce and causing tension among the remaining employees.

 

Reporters still working at the paper tweeted this past Friday that chairman and member of the editorial board, Dean Singleton, had renounced both positions that day. Singleton owned the Denver Post, which has been publishing since 1892 and has a weekly circulation of more than 134,000, from 1987 to 2013, helping steer the paper through difficult economic periods and an intense rivalry with another local news outlet. The Post is run by a media company named Digital First Media, of which the hedge fund has a controlling stake.

Singleton was joined in resigning by the Post’s senior editors, named by AP as Dana Coffield and Larry Ryckman.

“I’m sad to leave, but it was time to go. I will be rooting for those still fighting the good fight,” Ryckman tweeted.

The advent of digital news and the internet has seen advertising and revenue figures for print newspapers in a steady decline, forcing many papers, whether local, regional or national to shed staff and departments, merge with other titles, or in some cases, go online only and cease distributing their printed versions, as British newspaper The Independent did in 2016.

SOURCES:

HEM Journalism Portal, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-journalism-portal

WAN-IFRA, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/NewspaperWorld

“3 top figures at Denver Post, including former owner, quit” – AP/Associated Press (5 May 2018) https://www.apnews.com/cae12ecbd3cf4a3185edad7171d600ce

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Coffee cups and a Denver Post newspaper” – George Kelly, Flickr (22 July 2011) https://www.flickr.com/photos/allaboutgeorge/5975059129

CAR CRASH IN CHULA VISTA: Illegal U-turn injures four

Chula Vista – VIJAY SHAH via KAREN KUCHER and San Diego Union-Tribune

 

Four people are now recovering in hospital after a three-car pile-up in the U.S. city of Chula Vista began when a driver executed an illegal U-turn on a highway there, The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper reported yesterday.

The accident occurred on Friday morning when the driver of a white Honda vehicle was going westbound on Telegraph Canyon Road in the Californian city. The male driver then made a prohibited turn at the junction with Apache Drive, causing a fellow road user in a Camaro to crash into him, according to local police lieutenant Christopher Kelley. The Camaro was found to have been unlicensed and surprisingly, was been driven by a fifteen-year-old boy.

Police said the Honda was then pushed back by the impact into an oncoming car, also said to be a Honda vehicle, grey in colour. That crashed into the first car, causing serious injuries to the driver of the second Honda. The U-turn driver, who was travelling with his two children, also suffered injuries, though much less severe, and all three, plus the second Honda driver were taken to local hospitals, the Union-Tribune said.

Chula Vista lies just south of the San Diego metropolitan area in southern California and is popular with tourists and families.

SOURCES:

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

Twistools, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/twistools_en

“Illegal U-turn causes 3-car crash in Chula Vista that sends 4 to hospital” – OverNewser http://route.overnewser.com/twistools_en/?url=http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/sd-me-chula-crash-20180504-story.html&utm_source=OverNewser&utm_medium=twistools_en&utm_campaign=article

“Illegal U-turn causes 3-car crash in Chula Vista that sends 4 to hospital” – Karen Kucher, The San Diego Union-Tribune (4 May 2018) http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/sd-me-chula-crash-20180504-story.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Chula Vista, CA, USA – panoramio (1).jpg” – Roman Eugeniusz, Panoramio via Wikimedia Commons (5 September 2015) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chula_Vista,_CA,_USA_-_panoramio_(1).jpg

POKEMON GO: International Community Day next month

Tokyo – VIJAY SHAH via RENE RITCHIE and iMore

While the hype around the celebrated Nintendo augmented reality game Pokémon Go has long since died down, perhaps because everyone decided to twaddle with fidget spinners instead, the game still draws a loyal support base. For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is an interactive game, downloadable to your mobile phone, where you catch animals from the Pokémon kids’ cartoon series in real-life locations, raise them and use them to fight opponents. In 2016, the game’s popularity reached endemic proportions, with people crowding in parks to catch rare and elusive Pokemon, and state authorities such as police, giving out warnings for people to pay attention to their surroundings when immersed in the highly addictive game.

 

Pokémon Go lovers will soon be able to bond and exchange their little friends in a special Community Day event, scheduled for the 17th May 2018 across the world. The Community Day offers game players, known as ‘trainers’ a chance to go out and catch Pokémon together as teams in a special and social bonding experience.The creators of Pokémon Go, in a bid to counteract the perception of gaming as an anti-social hobby, created the events, held monthly, to encourage players to get out, discover new places, and meet new people.

There are many game bonuses being released for the day, according to online magazine iMore. These include extra XP, Stardust, faster egg hatching, lure modules that last three hours, and a special Pokémon with an exclusive move. The featured Pokémon for May’s event (the Community Day occurs for just three hours on one day per month) is Charmander, a small orange fire-breathing cross between a dinosaur and a dragon.

While the event is scheduled for just three hours, start and finish times will vary according to your location. Gamers in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, can start hunting at 12 pm to 3 pm JST (Japanese Standard Time). Participants in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India will have their regional event from 10 am-1 pm UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) and those in the Americas (including Greenland) can play from 11 am to 2 pm EST (Eastern Standard Time).

SOURCES:

interactive storytelling, ICIDS, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/icids/lists/interactive-storytelling

Louz Wate, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/LouzWate/

“Pokémon Go Events for April 2018” – Rene Ritchie, iMore/Mobile Nations (22 April 2018) https://www.imore.com/pokemon-go-events

“Pokémon Go Community Day Guide for May 2018” – Rene Ritchie, iMore/Mobile Nations (15 April 2018) https://www.imore.com/pokemon-go-community-day

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Abington Pokemon GO” – Penn State, Flickr (20 July 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/28170409310

DARKSOULES: New book club launched for fantasy fans

London – VIJAY SHAH

Fans of indie author fantasy books are in for a treat as a new book club dedicated to the works of small-time author Leslie D. Soule has been launched online.

The book group, named DarkSoules, has been unveiled on the social media network Facebook, and aims to bring together fans and new authors of fantasy literature, as well as being a forum for discussing the books of Soule, who has written fiction stories such as the Fallen Wood series, Hybrid Space, Birds of a Feather, and The Feast of Rule.

 

Soule, who lives in Sacramento, California, United States, has had a long love affair with the English language, having studied the subject as a postgraduate student at the National University.  She likes to experiment with different genres and has also a varied career in her young life, working as an artist and citizen journalist. She has been an established writer for a decade, and her collections of novels and short stories have been published in both e-book and print format.

DarkSoules will enable fans of Soule’s work to interact with her, receive the latest news exclusively about her new projects, chat with her directly and take a peek at her art works too. The group on Facebook is being promoted in the UK by fellow author and book promoter The Sassy Brit.

Interested fantasy fans keen to know more about Leslie Soule and her new online book group can find all the links below the article.

SOURCES:

HEM Bloggers List, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-bloggers-list

@Sassy_Brit 🇬🇧 Publicist & PA/VA #AltRead, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/sassy_brit

“About this group” – DarkSoules, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/541471792896263/about/

“Leslie D. Soule” – Melange Books/Melange Books, LLC http://www.melange-books.com/authors/lesliedsoule/index.html

Leslie Soule, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Falcondraco

“About Me” – Leslie Soule, LESLIE D. SOULE (16 February 2012) http://authors.coffeetimeromance.com/lesliesoule/about-me/

 

GHOUTA CHEMICAL STRIKE: Dozens of innocent Syrians feared dead

Douma – VIJAY SHAH via TOM ACRES and Sky News

In an escalation of the Syrian crisis where government troops allied with the country’s president, Bashar Al-Assad, are fighting rebels in the Ghouta area east of Damascus, a report has come in stating that around 70 people have been killed in a chemical bomb attack blamed on the Syrian army.

In what UK media firm Sky News has dubbed ‘one of (the) worst chemical strikes in Syrian history’, dozens of people, many believed to be women and children, were said to have died in Ghouta, a rebel-controlled district on the outskirts of capital Damascus, where a months-long siege between rebel and government forces has caused immense hardship for thousands of residents. Around five hundred people have been reported injured, according to Sky.

 

The United States has called on Russia, which is supporting President Al-Assad, to cease its support after the Ghouta chemical atrocity. The U.S. State Department said it was keeping tabs on the ‘grossly disturbing’ situation, which occurred in a city named Douma, around 10 km (6 miles) north-east of Damascus city centre. Babies and small children were among those caught up in the attack, according to video footage provided by Sky News. Children were seen in great distress, some clutching gas masks. A volunteer rescue service, called White Helmets in English, an opponent of the government, said it found dead children with frothing saliva around their mouths

The Syrian government has denied carrying out a chemical attack in Douma, but has been accused of using chemical weapons on civilian populations in previous skirmishes with the numerous rebel groups active in the Middle Eastern country. In April 2017, more than 80 people were killed in another suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which was also said to have been carried out by the Syrian government army. According to US intelligence, Al-Assad’s army is said to have stockpiles of the highly lethal gas agent, sarin, and possibly mustard gas.

“The United States continues to use all efforts available to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable,” the State Department said in a statement, which referenced the alleged sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun last year.

“The Assad regime and its backers must be held accountable and any further attacks prevented immediately.

“Russia, with its unwavering support for the regime, ultimately bears responsibility for these brutal attacks, targeting of countless civilians, and the suffocation of Syria’s most vulnerable communities with chemical weapons.”

Britain called for an “urgent investigation” into the alleged use of illegal weapons and an immediate end to the bloodshed.

“These are very concerning reports of a chemical weapons attack with significant number of casualties, which if correct, are further proof of Assad’s brutality against innocent civilians and his backers’ callous disregard for international norms,” the country’s Foreign Office said in a statement.

“An urgent investigation is needed and the international community must respond. We call on the Assad regime and its backers, Russia and Iran, to stop the violence against innocent civilians.”

In addition to the denial of responsibility by the official Syrian government, state-owned media outlets there have claimed that reports of the chemical attacks were propaganda, fabricated by rebels who they claim are close to defeat. Most of the Ghouta area is now back under government control, with only Douma city itself still under the control of the rebel group called  Jaish al Islam.

SOURCES:

Shere Singh via Facebook.

“Dozens dead in ‘one of worst chemical strikes in Syrian history’ ” – Tom Acres, Sky News/Sky UK (8 April 2018) https://news.sky.com/story/at-least-70-dead-in-chemical-attack-by-syrian-regime-in-eastern-ghouta-says-rescue-group-11322143

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Syria – Damascus Areas of Influence and Areas Reportedly Affected by 21 August Chemical Attack.jpg” – whitehouse.gov and Elissa Rubria Honoria, Wikimedia Commons (3 September 2013) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syria_-_Damascus_Areas_of_Influence_and_Areas_Reportedly_Affected_by_21_August_Chemical_Attack.jpg

GUINEA POLITICAL TENSION: Ten killed in February alone

Conakry – VIJAY SHAH via the International Crisis Group

A crisis is brewing in the west African country of Guinea after ten people died in politically motivated clashes after a controversial election held on the 4th of February this year, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has warned.

Tensions have been growing since the election and the opposition parties having had accused the Guinean ruling party of fraud in local polls held last month. Clashes between opposition supporters and strikers and Guinean security forces have led to the deaths of ten people already, according to the ICG’s CrisisWatch website. The president of Guinea, Alpha Condé, who has been at the helm of government since December 2010, has himself being accused of fraud in the election along with his party, the Guinean People’s Assembly.

 

Battles have been fought between Condé loyalists and opposition supporters  in the capital Conakry and also in the town of Kindia. Five children were reported to have been killed in clashes in the town of Dinguiraye. They perished in a fire, the ICG stated. Further clashes occurred between the gendarmerie, teachers and students who have been on strike or unable to learn since the 12th February. Teachers were later joined in their industrial action by union members of the Guinea General Union of Workers (UGTG). Strikers fought with the gendarmerie leading to around four deaths.

The government is in talks with the Guinean teachers’ union in an attempt to stem the tension. Talks began on the 28th of last month, but no word was made of progress in these talks by the ICG.

SOURCES:

HEM Journalism Portal, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-journalism-portal

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

Crisis Group, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/CrisisGroup

“The President’s Take” – CrisisWatch, International Crisis Group https://www.crisisgroup.org/crisiswatch/february-2018#guinea

ICELANDIC BITCOIN RUSH: Cryptocurrency mining drains entire country’s electricity supply

Reykjavik – VIJAY SHAH via Grande Medios

Bitcoins have become the source of what could be described as this century’s very own Gold Rush. The mining of cryptocurrencies, which is the most widespread method of obtaining this cyber money, requires a significant amount of both computing power and electrical current. In the northern European island of Iceland, the residents have taken to bitcoin mining in such a way that it is causing the country to actually run out of electricity.

Iceland has around 340,000 inhabitants, one of the smallest in Europe. Famed for its volcanic landscapes and breathtaking landscapes, the country is also well-known for living progressively. Renewable electricity, particularly from the Nordic nation’s many geothermal sources, is a big thing. But it seems the nation’s appetite for the financial game changer that is bitcoin is causing quite a headache for utilities companies, reports Spanish-language online magazine Grandes Medios.

 

Residential electricity consumption in Iceland barely exceeds 700 Gigawatt-hours per year, but the sudden uptake of mining activities for cryptocurrencies, including the highly profitable Bitcoin itself, which at one point in 2017 was trading at USD 8,000 per BTC, has seen miners add another 100 Megawatts to the consumption total. This could see usage push past the 800 gW/h mark.

Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson, a manager at utility firm HS Orka, told the Associated Press that “Four months ago I could not have imagined that we would reach this trend, but at that time the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed and we received many more requests. Just hours ago I met with a mining company that wants to buy 18 megawatts, “

Iceland’s electricity producers now fear that the increased demand will outstrip their capacity of supply, sparking a national energy crisis. Now in addition to the tech-savvy individuals who were the earliest adopters of mining in Iceland, there are several startups appearing who specialise in bitcoin mining on an industrial scale, meaning this virtual Gold Rush could see a painful run on the Icelandic electricity meter, and a lot of lights switching off.

Despite the volatility of bitcoin prices on the markets, with a crash in trade prices happening earlier this year, more and more Icelanders are flocking to bitcoin, meaning the country’s government in Reykjavik possibly planning to bring in regulation of the bitcoin mining industry in the near future to help conserve the electricity supply and prevent a island-wide blackout.

SOURCES:

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

Alexander Ochoa, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AlexanderOchoaQ

“La minería de bitcóin en este país pronto consumirá más electricidad que sus residentes” – Grandes Medios (13 February 2018) https://www.grandesmedios.com/la-mineria-de-bitcoin-en-islandia/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Bitcoin Mining” – Marco Verch, Flickr (23 January 2018) https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/39849768811

SRIDEVI: Bollywood film icon passes on

Dubai – VIJAY SHAH via Filmfare, sources

The Indian film star Sridevi Kapoor, popularly known as simply Sridevi, has died at the age of 54 after suffering a cardiac arrest while attending a nephew’s wedding in Dubai, UAE. 

The actor, known for her screen siren roles in the Mumbai-based film industry during the 1980s and 1990s, was once one of the Indian film industry’s most highly paid. Famed for her good looks and superb acting, her death yesterday was greeted with shock by India’s film fraternity and her worldwide army of fans.

 

According to the Indian Express, many current Bollywood stars including Priyanka Chopra, Jacqueline Fernandes, Sidharth Malhotra and others have taken to social media to express their condolences. Initial reports and commentary suggest that she suffered a ‘massive heart attack’ while attending the marriage celebration of her relative Mohit Marwah, along with her husband Bonny Kapoor and one of her daughters, Khushi. Initially regarded as a hoax when first reported, Sridevi’s death was confirmed as fact by her brother-in-law Sanjay Kapoor. Sridevi was said to have had no history of heart problems.

Sridevi was born in the Indian town of Sivakasi, in the Tamil Nadu state in the south of the country, in 1963. Named originally as Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan to mixed-race Tamil and Telugu parents, she began her career as a child actor aged just four in regional movies in both the Tamil and Telugu languages, before getting her big break in mainstream Hindi cinema in 1975, in the hit iconic film Julie. She won several awards and wowed observers with her sensual dance numbers and duplicity of roles. Her fame became global, even gaining a cult following in Afghanistan after the fall of the film-hating Taliban administration. In later years, she had invigorated her career and also took up modelling.

The actor’s body will be repatriated back to her home in Mumbai in the forthcoming days. Concerned fans and friends of the Kapoor family have being heading to her home to comfort her other daughter Jahnvi, who did not attend the wedding due to work commitments.

SOURCES:

Chirag Makwana/Sunny Atwal.

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

“Breaking news: Sridevi passes away” – Filmfare.com/Filmfare (25 February 2018) https://www.filmfare.com/news/bollywood/breaking-news-sridevi-passes-away-26779.html

“Sridevi” – Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sridevi

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Sridevi05.jpg” – Bollywood Hungama, Wikimedia Commons (24 March 2013) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sridevi05.jpg

WATERFALL PHOTO DEATH: Tourist dies in fall while posing for photo

Koh Samui – VIJAY SHAH via GEORGIA DIEBELIUS and Metro

A tourist has died after falling a hundred feet while posing for a holiday snap at a waterfall, reports the newspaper Metro today.

Jiri Barta, a man aged 32 from the Czech Republic, was visiting the tourist spot on the popular holiday island of Koh Samui, Thailand with a group of eight fellow travellers. They had reached the Khun Sri waterfall, where Barta and another group member decided to sit at a cliff edge to take pictures. However, Barta lost his footing and tumbled off the cliff, falling 100 feet (30.5 metres) to the ground below. His horrified companions desperately tried to give him first aid, but he did not survive.

 

Local ambulance rescue teams were called and arrived at the scene. They also attempted to save Barta’s life but later declared him deceased and ferried his body to a local hospital for a post-mortem.

According to a friend of the deceased quoted in the Metro article, Barta was part of a group of five tourists who arrived in Thailand on February 5, and hired five motorcycles to travel around Koh Samui island. The friend, Romana Uassara, told the paper: We were just admiring the beauty of the waterfall and he walked over to the edge for a picture.

‘The edge is so steep and he fell onto his back. It took a long time for his body to hit the bottom. I don’t know why. ‘

We went down and he was still alive. We tried to do CPR and asked for help from villagers in the neighbourhood”

Tourist police spokesperson Boonchai Wannawatchanasuntorn said that rescuers spend five hours negotiating the terrain to retrieve Jiri Barta’s body. He added There is a sign in both Thai and English barring people from entering, but tourists keep ignoring it.

Accidents happened often because the slope is very steep, at almost 90 degrees, and it is very slippery.”

Lieutenant Colonel Piyawat Chunwat added: “This is a very dangerous area and we advise all tourist [sic] to stay away and be extra careful.

‘The rescue and recovery of the body was made more difficult by the steep cliffs and dangerous conditions.”

Koh Samui, with a population of 62,500, is Thailand’s second largest island and is popular with budget travellers. The island is famed for its many beaches and mountainous scenery.

SOURCES:

Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

“Tourist fell 100ft to his death whilst posing for a photograph on waterfall” – Georgia Diebelius, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (24 February 2018) http://metro.co.uk/2018/02/24/tourist-fell-100ft-death-whilst-posing-photograph-waterfall-7338311/?ito=social

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Koh Samui rentals in a bungalow, vacation homes direct from the owners” – iha Holiday Ads https://www.iha.com/koh-samui-bungalow-rentals/c4b/