UPDATE – 1:48 PM EST:
Russia deploys missile cruiser off Syria coast, ordered to destroy any target posing danger, Russia Today reports.
UPDATE – 11:53 AM EST: Turkey tells Reuters that both pilots are still alive
A Russian warplane has been shot down near the Turkey-Syria border.
CNN.com is reporting that Turkey first warned the plane: “Turkey says it issued 10 warnings to the aircraft that violated its airspace Tuesday before responding “within engagement rules” near the Turkey-Syria border.
Currently the Russian military is searching for the pilot. A video posted online by rebels meanwhile appeared to show a Russian pilot immobile on the ground, either badly wounded or dead reports BBC.com.
In a twist, the Turkish government is now saying that both pilots are still alive and that Turkey is working to bring them to their territory.
According to Reuters the aircraft did not identify itself to the pair of Turkish F-16s that intercepted it in Turkish airspace. After multiple warnings were issued the F-16s brought down the aircraft in the “Turkmen Mountain” area. The pilots apparently ejected from the aircraft. One is reported to have been captured by local Turkmen forces in Syria.
A video released earlier in the day apparently showed a dead Russian pilot, in opposition to the statement by the Turkish government.
(Warning for graphic content)
In a separate yet released incident: new video also apparently shows Syrian rebels destroying a downed Russian helicopter today as well. The helicopter was reportedly searching for the missing Russian pilots shot down by Turkish jets. The Syrian rebels were armed with American military technology.
WATCH: Syrian rebels destroy Russian helicopter with American arms
ISTANBUL: Turkish fighter jets shot down Russian warplane near Syrian border today, Russia denied violating airspace pic.twitter.com/RdWsZXpdlK
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) November 24, 2015
Stay with Rise News as we monitor this breaking news story. John Massey contributed to this report.
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By Staff Report
Setareh Baig, a journalist from Weston, Florida has been named Rise News’s editor-in-chief.
Baig graduated from Florida State University last month, where she led the school newspaper the FSView and Florida Flambeau to impressive growth and increased journalistic excellence.
A rising star in the field, Baig boasts a diverse work background that has provided her great insight in how to organize young writers into producing great pieces of journalism.
Baig was lauded for her leadership during a campus shooting last November. In a tough judgement call, Baig and her team decided to not print the name of the shooter because of the potential impact on the still shocked campus community. It was a decision widely applauded on campus and in the greater Tallahassee area.
Rise News is a globally-focused grassroots journalism outlet that launched on August 31. It is owned by Rise News Group LLC, a Miami based company.
Over 100 of the best young journalists from around the world (including places like the United Kingdom, Canada and Egypt) are involved with the project. The company aims to increase that number to around 1,000 by the end of the year.
Baig said that she was excited about the opportunity to lead a globally focused organization.
“I’m excited to lead Rise News because we get to cover stories from everywhere,” Baig said. “On the Internet, you get all these perspectives, but sometimes you have to sift through the fluff to get to the stuff you really want to see. You have to seek it out yourself.”
Baig’s addition is a major development in the growth of the nascent media company.
“Our goal is to totally change the game and become the greatest source of news in the world for our generation,” Rise News CEO and Publisher Rich Robinson said. “Setareh is the missing piece that we needed to make this ambitious dream into a reality. With her, we can build something really special and important.”
Baig’s task is a immense one. She will be in charge of Rise News’ editorial content and in helping turn it into a global news organization – one with high standards.
“We are not building another clickbait site or something exploitive here,” Robinson said. “Setareh has a very traditional sense of journalistic values and some really innovative ideas on how to quickly build an audience of smart and urbane millennials.”
Baig said that she was excited about introducing the Rise News audience to new issues and places that aren’t covered by traditional news organizations.
“If we could find voices from the depths of a place we’ve never head of, then I would love that,” Baig said.
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What Do You Think?
By CieCie Tuyet Nguyen
I often wonder what my life would have been like if I was not a refugee.
On the other hand, what would have become of me had I not spent my childhood in a war-torn country, in a war that seemed to be forever a background to my memories?
Those questions and those ‘ifs’ are not for me to contemplate,as I would not be able to change history or be born anywhere but Vietnam.
However, it is not to say that my childhood was full of images of war, atrocities, death, mass graves or miseries.
There was happiness and joy. I had loved being together with my siblings, catching the double-wing like yoyo fruits in front of my house, running wild with the wind and gathering fallen dead leaves to set up a mischievous campfire.
Being with friends after school wandering the streets of Saigon enjoying street food was enough. It was simple, a few moments to let loose, albeit momentarily.
Although in hindsight, there was never a complete picture of happiness or joy with sunshine, laughter, and contentment, as peace was an important but absent part of that 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
I had never felt fully at ease, or in other words, completely carefree.
That was before the war ended. When bombing, gunfire, and fighting had ceased.
Then peace arrived.
Finally, that missing piece was found to replace the empty space in my picture. Horribly and strangely, other pieces began to disappear. Freedom, then prosperity, dignity, and kindness were taken away swiftly.
They were replaced with oppression, poverty, degradation, and revenge that left peace a lonely part in my peculiar jigsaw puzzle, like a pitiful hostess in an empty house full of ghosts.
I could not understand it at all.
Without realising it, what I had wished for dearly had destroyed everything I valued most before.
Perhaps it was my fault that my childhood was scarred. My sensitivity and perception of life was too acute back then.
Moreover, they still are now.
See, I can taste the sweetness of freedom and touch the holy peace every day, every morning now, then feel alive and complete.
Years of living with freedom and peace in Australia has transformed my being to accept them readily but not to take them for granted.
The scars are my reminders.
I was born with a photographic memory.
Some would have said, “You’re lucky!” Ah, I would proudly have expanded my chest fully and answered, “Yes, I am.”
Even though there were images or memories I would gladly let fade away quietly and set me free.
Then I could have pretended that I had once been a child living happily and contentedly in a carefree environment with cute baby dolls to play with during the day and sweet dreams every night.
Not in a refugee camp, where I had spent a brief three months when I was sixteen, full of sad stories and images that I could have lived without.
That morning on the crammed boat escaping from Vietnam, I remember standing on the upper deck next to my mother, clinging tightly to her, feeling dejected and full of shame when the Malaysian coast guards shouted angrily at us, shooing our boat away in disgust.
The little riverboat, barely 10 metres long, 3 metres wide, had served its life miraculously attempting to deliver 50 people to shore.
It then had to resume its journey to some unknown destination because the refugees were not accepted there.
I stood there and cried.
Tears of shame and hopelessness were silently rolling down my cheeks as gunshots fired rapidly in the air, scaring the bunch of battered and wearied boat people away.
It was only at that moment I had realised I was a stateless person, a nobody, a refugee.
As a small child, I had never understood the real horror and suspense of trying to escape by boat to sea.
I was full of hope and anticipation before my departure. I grew up very quickly during that seven-day voyage.
I escaped from my country, away from the barbaric treatment of the communists.
I survived a sea full of stormy turbulence and remained relatively unscathed from two pirate attacks.
Then the Malaysian authority refused to let our boat anchor on their shore. I could not understand the coast guards’ language but their gesticulations were enough. I was rejected!
An equally devastating feeling of hopelessness had resurfaced, as much as when my boat was rolling madly like a tiny egg in a giant boiling saucepan in the storms a few days ago.
Why must I leave my country? Were freedom and peace worthy of my sacrifice of being a stateless person?
Those were the questions that I dared to answer because without gaining freedom and peace,followed by human rights, dignity and prosperity, my life would have been a waste.
I would have felt miserable being a refugee for nothing.
Indeed, I am glad that I have been a refugee once in my life. Mind you, once is enough!
The experience came with a high price and for some of us that included death by drowning at sea; witnessing family members raped, murdered by pirates; or being stranded for months on an island and becoming a cannibal to survive.
I am lucky that I am here right now.
Back then there were times I thought I was not.
I was miserable. Assimilating into a new country with nothing familiar to the old world I had left behind was a struggle.
I cringed every time thinking if I had to do it again.
It was no fun at all and that added to my lost childhood years.
I would love to be sixteen again as an Australian, but definitely not a refugee.
There were times I thought I would like to keep my old world with me, to go home, or to “go back to your country,” as I was told many times in the beginning by the locals. It hurt and I cried a lot, being a silly sensitive person as I was.
In hindsight, I now know a refugee must take that obvious path. Just like a book with a prologue, a main story and an epilogue.
I must take various paths and go through various chapters to re-establish myself.
It was not fun in some chapters, but I think I can differentiate happiness and grief philosophically now!
Gradually, I was accepted and I often reminded myself that I could not possibly be comfortable and at ease in my newly adopted homeland until I acclimatised successfully.
I was uprooted from my familiar though wretched environment and I needed time to get accustomed to my new land to grow stronger.
It was not easy. I had to make efforts to stay afloat.
There were language, cultural, and social rules that seemed so bizarre to me, probably as much as the locals viewed mine.
There were times I thought I had lost my identity and I tried desperately to retain it by keeping everything the way it was.
However, time passes, and so I have evolved.
I have become a Vietnamese-Australian to the extent that I cannot go ‘home’ because home is now here.
I lost my identity as a Vietnamese, but I have gained a different one.
There were times when that concept was not visible to me.
I felt confused. Now, I am proud of my heritage but I no longer need to be a Vietnamese, because I am not living in Vietnam.
There is no more pressure for me and I am glad of my new identity, as I do not want my children to go through my experience.
They should not have to struggle with that disorientation.
They are Australians.
They must feel like Australians with the local language, culture, and social rules even though those are less bizarre to me now.
I would not want my children to feel alienated in their own home. They are Australians, luckier and richer with an extra bonus heritage in their background.
CieCie Tuyet Nguyen was born in Saigon and witnessed its fall in 1975 when she was 13-years-old. After continuing to live there for three years under the communist regime, she escaped with her family by boat to Malaysia in 1978. After staying in a Pulau Besar Refugee camp for three months, she resettled in Sydney, Australia, where she has remained ever since. She graduated with a bachelor of pharmacy in 1985 from Sydney University and has operated her own pharmacy since 1989. Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom is her first novel. For more information about Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom, you can visit Nguyen’s website or Facebook page.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
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By Bea Sampaio
MIAMI- Nestled along Wynwood’s 5th Avenue there’s a mural of a figure painted entirely in black and white. Pictured on its monochromatic surface is a woman, naked except for the long ringlets of hair wrapped constrictively around her body. She sits contemplatively before the viewer, back bowed while pedestrians pass her by.
Surreal-looking spectacles like these can be found scattered throughout the city, all of them authored by Rolando Adrian Avila. At only 25 years old and with less than six of months of residence in Wynwood he’s poised to become one of the more prolific and better-known painters within Miami’s art district.
The Cuban-born muralist and former Angeleno (native of Los Angeles) has roots to South Florida dating all the way back to his days at New World Schools of Arts, a small and selective magnet school known both locally and nationally for its excellent arts and theatre programs.
“Unfortunately not everybody has a chance to do it. I come from a pretty poor family, and the only way I was able to travel and to go outside the city was because of art,” Avila said during a sit-down interview, “I got money to go to California from school, that was the only way. I feel like that’s important for an artist, to be educated. Education is everything.”
To date Avila has created at least 12 murals in Miami, most of them concentrated within Wynwood and the surrounding art district. As a self-described “wall vampire” he often seeks out unadorned spaces within the area to renovate and embellish with his work, masking concrete in a monotint display of long-limbed bodies and lotus flowers.
Avila first emigrated from Cuba to the U.S. at the age of 13, eventually gaining a scholarship to attend Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. The most notable thing about his work at first glance is just how stripped-down his pieces tend to be, both literally and figuratively.
“Women in general are a lot more powerful than men to me, especially around [Miami].” -Avila said
The subjects he portrays are predominantly female and nude, implied to be the objects of a male gaze. But there’s also simplicity to the color composition of Avila’s work. He often picks a single shade to dominate the canvas, focusing attention and detail on the subjects of his murals by keeping the palette relatively monochromatic.
As for the nakedness, Avila doesn’t believe his primary subjects are likely to scandalize here as easily as they might somewhere else. Miami’s extensive beach culture brings with it an inordinate preoccupation with body image and physical beauty, making the city a quintessential place for nudity in art to be accepted and, in some cases, even lauded.
“I feel like people [here] really respond to figurative work. I do these girls, and in Miami the body is something that is celebrated.” Avila said.
It’s true that there’s a definite sense of eroticism to Avila’s work, but more often than not it’s purposely coupled with mythological imagery and significance. The women depicted in his paintings and murals often show up in triplicate, a reference to the religious archetype of “triple deity” so often seen in classical literature and art.
They’re goddesses the way you imagine goddesses would look like in the 21st century; slender and statuesque, hair coifed and lips pouted perfectly as if posing for an editorial.
“Women in general are a lot more powerful than men to me, especially around [Miami].” Avila said, “It’s kind of like the whole idea of goddesses, this whole idea of the Greeks and the Romans. To them women were everything.”
These women often appear to be reveling too, frozen mid-pose on the canvas while onlookers are free to gawk at the display of their bodies. Avila’s work is, if anything, voyeuristic in nature. He plays with perception as often as some other artists play with the colors on their mixing palettes and it’s never made clear exactly how we should feel looking in on these private scenes.
The women within his murals almost always have their eyes covered or bound by their own hair, blinded to the audience’s gaze and unable to take in their own surroundings. They appear naked and vulnerable before the viewer, and yet the artist himself describes their sightlessness as transcendent, a reference to a harrowing experience his sister once underwent in Guantánamo after one attempt to emigrate to the U.S.
“At the time my sister was trying to get out of Cuba. She tried to get out through the water because her boyfriend was trying to bring her over here and she got sent back to Guantánamo two times,” Avila said. “She almost died, and they cut off her hair just to be assholes with her. I was doing an illustration at the time just about depression and so I did this woman with her hair wrapped around her face.”
Avila explains most of the story from inside of his studio, a modestly sized, brightly painted room located in the heart of Wynwood. Walking in you can see the artist’s half-finished paintings dotting the main wall that runs along the interior. A pile of surreal-looking prints rest in the corner. The apartment building it’s housed in is also home to the studios of his colleagues, many of whom he spoke about as having an influence over his body of work.
“I think [it’s] one of the most important things as an artist. Especially when I was at Art Center what I learned was [being influenced by] other artists.” Avila said.
Like him, some of these individuals feel conflicted over the commodification of Wynwood’s art scene and the ensuing gentrification of the area. The popularity that events like Art Basel bring to the neighborhood creates more substantial opportunities for urban artists to work and promote themselves, especially when corporate sponsorship becomes a viable reality.
But all that promotion comes at a cost, mainly that the rise in property values now mean that a significant portion of Wynwood’s local artists can no longer afford to live in the same neighborhoods that their murals have helped to commercialize in the first place.
“I think artists should be paid a good amount of money to do what they do because it takes time and it’s hard, you know? If people appreciate it then [they] should appreciate it by helping.” Avila said. “That’s why I feel like I have a responsibility to make sure that happens, especially now that I’m getting lucky enough to get some projects and [have] some people like my work.”
A recent exhibition of Avila’s entitled Paradox Lost ran almost a month ago as part of an Art Walk experience originally hosted by Minimax Events. The display was held at the Mana Production Village, a raw space popular in the area for accommodating everything from art openings to film crews.
Aside from the show, one of Avila’s upcoming public projects includes plans to beautify a local apartment complex sometime in October. His intent is to turn the space into a hybridized showcase for both fine art and street art, one style juxtaposing the other in a strange marriage of aesthetic to functionality.
Collaborating with him on the project will be Reinier Gamboa, another Wynwood artist well known for his figurative painting style and use of religious and tropical iconography.
A contemporary of Avila’s, the Cuban-born Gamboa also spent his youth at New World. His body of work has been exhibited everywhere from the non-profit Locusts Project in Miami to the Nucleus Gallery in California.
“I want to be a fine artist that does walls,” Avila said at one point, explaining the changing nature of his field’s accessibility to the general public, “If you think about it that’s what artists do in their careers. They start by canvas and then later on in their life they do a mural somewhere. I want it to be the other way around.”
Photos: Bea Sampaio/ Rise News
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