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.

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THE CRIMEWAVE CONTINUES: London man shot in face, other person stabbed

London – VIJAY SHAH via GEORGIA DIEBELIUS and Metro

The crimewave of stabbings and shootings which has dominated headlines in the London area and across the United Kingdom’s media in recent months shows no sign of abating as two men were attacked in the city only last evening, the newspaper Metro reported.

In Peckham, south-east London, police and an air ambulance were called to a man who was reportedly shot in the face. Witnesses at the crime scene told Metro that a blue Ford vehicle had been cordoned off by police as part of their searches. The driver-side window was said to be shattered. Accounts of the shooting and its aftermath were shared on social media network Twitter. One commenter tweeted: “Shooting in Peckham. Apparently someone got shot in the face with a shotgun”. Another observer added: “Apparently someone has been shot in the face. I feel ill. The road is locked.”. Locals gathered around to try and help the stricken victim, who has not yet been identified.

 

Just an hour earlier in nearby Greenwich, a man was stabbed by assailants unknown. Police also attended this incident. As with the Peckham shooting, no details of the victim have yet been furnished publicly. A Metropolitan Police Service spokesperson told Metro “Police in Southwark were called to Wodehouse Avenue, SE5 at 7.56pm on Saturday, 2 June following reports of a shooting.

‘Armed police attended and found a man suffering from gun shot injuries. ‘He has been taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service. We await an update on his condition.

‘A second man was also found with injuries at the scene and has been taken to hospital for assessment. His condition is believed to be stable. ‘No arrests have been made. A crime scene remains in place. Enquiries continue.”

SOURCES:

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

“Man ‘shot in face’ and another ‘stabbed’ in latest attacks in London” – Georgia Diebelius, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (2 June 2018) https://metro.co.uk/2018/06/02/man-shot-face-another-stabbed-latest-attacks-london-7600536/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Jerusalem Stabbing Attack at November 23 2015.jpg” – Israel Police and Doodoo Bo, Wikimedia Commons (23 November 2015) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jerusalem_Stabbing_Attack_at_November_23_2015.jpg

MINI MAYOR: Ilford boy becomes London’s first ‘children’s mayor’

Ilford – VIJAY SHAH via ELLENA CRUSE and Ilford Recorder

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan beware, there’s a new kid on the block, and yes, he is actually a child. In a first for the city, London has witnessed the swearing into office (unofficially) of its first ‘children’s mayor’ – as part of a promotional campaign by a new kid-friendly theme park. Kishan Shah (no relation to the reporter), aged nine, and hailing from the upmarket Ilford suburb of Chigwell, has been elected mayor for youngsters with the help of children’s activity centre KidZania, his local newspaper the Ilford Recorder reported this past Thursday.

 

Shah beat off thousands of other entries and amazed judges at KidZania with his manifesto of improvements he would make to his city if he won. Among his manifesto pledges, Kishan suggested that people waiting in queues should be offered free fruit while they wait, the introduction of new clear signage for public water fountains, and helping children to interact with their new mayor via a suggestion box.

Kishan’s election was the result of a nationwide search by KidZania, an indoor theme park for children in west London, for a ‘KidZania London city mayor’ as part of their launch of a new annual pass that gives children unlimited access to their activity centre for twelve months. To celebrate Shah’s new ambassadorial role, KidZania will be giving his entire class a trip to their centre, a gold birthday party package for the new mayor himself, and even his own set of mayoral robes and keys to the KidZania City. Shah will also be the first recipient of the new KidZania yearly pass.

Kishan’s new job will be largely promoting KidZania activities, including the official opening of new attractions by the activity centre. The youngster was said to be thrilled at being chosen to be mayor, telling the Recorder: “I would make an excellent mayor as I am calm, friendly and approachable.

“I am also prepared to put in the hard work that being mayor would involve.”

Kishan’s mother Brijal added that the family were proud of their son winning the competition. She said: “He is an incredible boy with so much to give and I know he’ll do a brilliant job for KidZania”

The chief executive officer of KidZania London, Eddie Kemsley, also commented on the new mayor: “We received so many wonderful applications for the mayor position and we thank everyone for their efforts.

“However, there can only be one mayor and we are so happy for Kishan to come on board the KidZania London team.

“His personality really shone through in his application and we loved his ideas about introducing a mayor’s comment box in the city.

“We know he’ll be an enthusiastic voice for the people and we can’t wait for him to get started.”

SOURCES:

Ilford Recorder, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/IlfordRecorder/

“Chigwell boy with manifesto becomes newest children’s mayor in London” – Ellena Cruse, Ilford Recorder/Archant Community Media Ltd (30 May 2018) http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/chigwell-boy-with-manifesto-becomes-newest-children-s-mayor-in-london-1-5541137

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:KidZania pilots thumbs up while playing in a cockpit simulator.jpg” – KidZania Mumbai, Wikimedia Commons (9 October 2017) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KidZania_pilots_thumbs_up_while_playing_in_a_cockpit_simulator.jpg

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

NATHAN’S PIES AND EELS: Legendary East London cafe to close after 80 years

London – VIJAY SHAH and TOM HORTON via Newham Recorder

East London is to lose another long-time landmark after a business that specialises in selling the area’s traditional delicacy of jellied eels alongside hot football match snacks announced it would be calling time after eighty years in business, according to a report by the local newspaper, the Newham Recorder.

 

Nathan’s Pies and Eels, based in Barking Road, Upton Park, near the former Boleyn Stadium of the football club West Ham United, is a ‘pie and mash’ shop, a restaurant selling traditional London food such as steak and kidney pies and mashed potato It has been run by the Nathan family since it first opened eighty years ago, with forty of those years spent at the same Barking Road site. The shop was very popular with football fans travelling in to watch West Ham play, with its traditional East London fare a highly sought after introduction to local cuisine.

The shop was opened by the great-grandfather of current owner Richard Nathan. However, since West Ham United moved to the former Olympic Stadium in nearby Stratford in 2016, Nathan’s steadily lost business and, in addition to many of its staff nearing retirement age, forcing the shop to reconsider its future. Richard plans to keep it business as usual until the 26th of May this year when Nathan’s will serve its last pie. In its heyday, the small shop was frequented by even the giants of the West Ham locker room, such as Rio Ferdinand and Julian Dicks, during the glory days of the 1990s and 2000s

Speaking with the Newham Recorder, Nathan said the closure of the café would be a ‘sad day’ for the Nathan family, the shop staff and fans of it’s hunger-busting pies and mash, and that the closure was ‘the end of an era’.

“It’s a bit cheesy, but we are like a big family”, Nathan said of his close-knit staff, many of whom have worked at the café for years.

The owner of Nathan’s Pies and Eels himself plans to retrain as a handyman after the shop ceases trading in less than two weeks, the Recorder said. The café has been inundated with condolences and cards from well-wishers.

SOURCES:

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

“Iconic family-run Upton Park pie and mash shop to close after 80 years in business” – Tom Horton, Newham Recorder/Archant (10 May 2018) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/iconic-family-run-upton-park-pie-and-mash-shop-to-close-after-80-years-in-business-1-5513152

IMAGE CREDIT:

Google Maps.

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

‘LITTLE SCRATCHERS NURSERY’ – Parents complain after toddler son kicked from preschool for scratching classmates

Hull – VIJAY SHAH via ADAM SMITH and Metro

The family of a 2-year-old boy in the United Kingdom has lodged a formal protest after his nursery had him booted out for attacking other preschoolers, claiming that the suspension would ‘ruin his future’, tabloid news site and paper Metro reports.

Danny McKenzie-Love previously attended the Panda Nursery daycare centre in the east Yorkshire city of Hull, but he found himself without a place after nursery staff claimed he was assaulting other children by scratching their faces. He was suspended, although Panda Nursery have promised to let Danny back in if his behaviour improved.

 

According to Danny’s grandmother, Sharon Love, the trouble started soon after her grandson began attending the preschool. She told Metro: “He has only just turned two and we took him for half-an-hour over the Easter holidays and within that half an hour he scratched a bairn (child).

‘After the Easter break, he went back again and scratched another little girl’s face so her mother took her out of the nursery altogether. The day after he scratched another little girl and they suspended him for a week.”

After complaints from other parents about the little kid’s reign of scratchy terror, Panda Nursery’s directors ordered a meeting and told Sharon and Danny’s mother Charley that their child would no longer be allowed to attend as his behaviour was a threat to the other children. The grandmother however complained about the decision, stating that Danny had not been given a ‘fair chance’ and that the nursery was warned about his ‘tendencies’ to scratch the faces of other toddlers.

Sharon said: “He doesn’t swear or throw things – he is a really good bairn but now and then he will go for another child.’

She added: “Sometimes in the street we have got to watch him with other children. We haven’t got to the bottom of it and we don’t know what the problem is yet. ‘He has got challenging behaviour but they haven’t given him a chance. They haven’t worked with him and I am so disgusted. He has only just turned two and is only a baby but they have pretty much expelled him.”

A spokesman for the nursery, based at Marvell House in Cranbourne Street, said: “We take the safety and care of all the children in our nursery extremely seriously.

‘As a result of a number of incidents involving this child we were unfortunately left with no option but to suspend him until his behaviour improved, he has not been expelled and we said that once the behaviour issues had been addressed we would welcome him back to the nursery. ‘We explained that the risk of further incidents meant that we had to act formally to ensure we could continue to provide a safe and caring environment for all the children attending the nursery.”

SOURCES:

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

“Nursery kicks out boy, 2, for scratching other kids and his family is livid” – Adam Smith, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (28 April 2018) http://metro.co.uk/2018/04/28/nursery-kicks-out-boy-2-for-scratching-other-kids-and-his-family-is-livid-7506132/?ito=social

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Stand Child Red Looking Look Girl Naughty Little” – Max Pixel https://www.maxpixel.net/Stand-Child-Red-Looking-Look-Girl-Naughty-Little-474126

 

MURDERS IN LONDON: Newham had highest rate of killings in 2017-2018

London – VIJAY SHAH via JON KING and Newham Recorder

The east London borough of Newham had the highest number of homicides in the last year, with thirteen taking place there, more than in any other borough in the city, according to figures seen and reported in local newspaper, the Newham Recorder, it is said.

The borough tops the league for the murder rate according to figures released by the Metropolitan Police, the police force which deals with crime in the Greater London area, which is made up of thirty-two boroughs.

 

Between the period from April 2017 to March 2018, thirteen killings in the borough were investigated by the police, many involving young people in their teen and twenties. Recent tragedies included that of 18-year-old Sami Sidhom in Chestnut Avenue, Forest Gate, Beniamin Pieknyi, 21, in the Stratford Centre and Promise Nkenda, 17, in Canning Town. Sidhom was stabbed to death by a group of youths while returning from a football match at the new West Ham Stadium in Stratford, north Newham.

Newham’s murder crime rate is triple the rate of neighbouring boroughs, with Redbridge reporting five homicides, Barking and Dagenham reporting four, with Tower Hamlets being the highest at six murders, according to the figures.

On the numbers the Met’s assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt said: “We continue to experience a very busy and challenging time against the backdrop of significant cuts (to police funding).”

“I am very concerned about crime rises, particularly of murder, violent and knife crime.”

Despite a slash in police officer numbers and funding brought about by central government austerity measures, the Met Police has said it is doubling up on tackling knife crime with increased ‘stop-and-searches’ and extra officers on the beat in affected communities.

“There are complex reasons why more young people carry knives. Knife crime cannot be solved only by the police. We need the help of agencies and communities who we know are behind us,” the assistant commissioner said.

The police figures also reported increases in violent crime, robberies, sexual assaults/attacks and burglaries, with 2,082 incidents reported between April 2017-March 2018, according to the Recorder paper.

“Despite the challenges ahead, we continue to focus on bringing offenders to justice, making streets hostile territory for criminals, supporting victims and working with communities,” Hewitt said.

SOURCES:

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

“More Newham murders than in any other London borough, Met figures show” – Jon King, Newham Recorder/Archant (27 April 2018) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/crime-court/murders-newham-london-borough-met-police-figures-1-5495065

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Police Crime Scene Blue Light · Free image on Pixabay” – geralt, Pixabay (29 July 2015) https://pixabay.com/en/police-crime-scene-blue-light-862341/

 

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