Many elderly people function and behave normally despite the fact that a brain scan (or later, an autopsy) will display characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease. So, why do some people become demented while others remain mentally sound even though their brains appear similarly diseased? It’s all a matter of proteins and synapses, say UCLA investigators. Compared to…
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“Dry Katrina”: In Memphis, Hundreds Of Families Are Being Forced Out Of The City’s Last Public Housing UnitsBy Contributor
By Courtney Anderson
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE- More than 700 families in the city of Memphis are at risk of losing their homes due to a mandatory relocation that some are equating to a manmade disaster.
This displacement comes from the mandatory relocation of residents from apartment buildings that were found to have housing code enforcement violations.
The residents were living in government subsidized housing units- the last such project in the city until the owner of the buildings lost HUD funding according to local paper The Commercial Appeal.
If they are made to relocate, many residents say that they will have nowhere to go.
But one organization in Memphis is working to provide assistance to residents in need.
For the better part of a year, The Mid South Peace and Justice Center (MSPJC), in Memphis, has been working on a renter’s rights collective to addresses the issues that led to the possible relocation of hundreds of Memphis citizens.
MSPJC director Bradley Watkins describes the collective as an effort to “engage in renter’s rights and training workshops on how tenants can form their own tenant associations,” in order to eventually create a network of organizations in Memphis—or “Memphis Tenant’s Union—” that work to protect the rights of tenants in the city.
In short, they are trying to stop what Watkins has dubbed as Memphis’s “Dry Katrina.” The nickname makes reference to the New Orleans housing crisis that followed Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago.
Watkins said there is no other organizations in Memphis of its kind and that tenants have been taking a “great risk standing up for their rights,” and that the residents who speak out “need more support than is often available.”
The Mid South Peace and Justice center began the collective by working with residents of low-income apartments Warren Apartments and Serenity Towers.
Both apartment complexes are owned by Rev. Richard Hamlet of Global Ministries Foundation in Memphis and subsidized by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
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Watkins said he and members of the MSPJC saw many violations in both Warren Apartments, Serenity Towers and an apartment called Tulane, also owned by Hamlet.
Two weeks later, HUD notified Hamlet that Global Ministries Foundation had failed to correct the violations and that the tenants would have to be moved.
Recently, an inspection of Serenity Towers found massive bug infestations. Residents were told they would have to be moved, as well.
Watkins said that he felt the relocation was inevitable and that they were the result of “decades of systemic neglect on the part of the landlords.” To Watkins, it was only a matter of time.
“Honestly, we all have to ask: What did we expect to happen? Now our collective chickens have come home to roost,” Watkins said in a blog post.
Watkins said that these relocations have created a serious dilemma in the city of Memphis.
“The relocation of residents at Warren and Tulane, if not properly handled, could lead to a massive crisis in housing here in Memphis,” Watkins said. “This will affect thousands of families and they will need this community and this organization to stand with them in this.”
Jessica Johnson-Peterson was one of the residents who spoke up about the housing violations. She said some of her closest associates had come to her with complaints for years and that she felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to “be a voice for the community.”
Johnson-Peterson said that after a conversation with her husband and a resident named Cynthia Crawford, she typed a letter to Hamlet and then contacted Watkins at the MSPJC.
Johnson-Peterson said there are still many concerns not being addressed by HUD or by Global Ministries Foundation. She also said the new appointed receiver has expressed that he has no interest in working with tenants.
“It seems that being a criminal has more benefits than being a law-abiding citizen. The citizens that do their best with the resources, they are forced to live impoverished and the ones that compromise and give into the corruption more than thrive,” Johnson-Peterson said.
On March 11, 2016, Watkins posted an email he sent to Memphis city councilman Worth Morgan, members of the administration of Memphis mayor Jim Strickland and management at Memphis Code Enforcement onto the MSPJC Facebook page.
The post detailed a proposal that would create two initiatives between MSPJC and Memphis Code Enforcement. Both initiatives would have used Serenity Towers as a “pilot program.”
The initiatives listed included the creation of tenants associations that would be recognized by HUD and a program in which college interns who work with MSPJC would be paired with residents of Serenity Towers who have mobility issues.
In the meantime, the MSPJC is keeping track of HUD’s responses to the violations in Serenity Towers and Warren and Tulane Apartments.
The MSPJC Facebook page is consistently updated with local news articles about the apartment buildings and the tenants who called them home.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
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#VestGate: UK University Challenge Program Ignites Controversy Over What It Means To Be “Intelligent”By Mariam Ansar
University Challenge, hosted by Jeremy Paxman and witness to the UK’s most intelligent of students going head to head to represent their universities, is a show which can clearly be seen to favour substance over style.
Focused on providing only the most gruelling of questions, its reputation is one of baffled English home-audiences rejoicing when answering correctly between themselves, university pride, and the classic jumper-collared-shirt combo. However, one episode, which aired last week, hosted one contestant whose choice of attire raised more than a few eyebrows.
Kamel Shah of King’s College, Cambridge, injected a certain amount of controversy into the show courtesy of his leather vest and gold chain.
Raising questions on the idea of propriety, some argued that the values of BBC 2, typically home of the straight-edged middle-class crowd, had been compromised. For many, the clothing choice was regarded as a sign of disrespect, aligned on ideas of good manners and appropriate attire which being on a show as esteemed as University Challenge supposedly demands:
— The Weirwolf (@jon_weir) September 7, 2015
However, the issue of the vest could be seen to prompt a much deeper discussion. When it comes to representations of intelligence, is there something inherently problematic in disputing the decency of someone who refused to toe the line of what many see as an out-dated ideal?
Shah in his leather vest, dragging #universitychallenge kicking and screaming into the late 1990s.
— Ali (@AliBonce) September 7, 2015
King’s Shah – brave choice of vest-top, defying usual boring clothes expectations for #universitychallenge. Nice one!
— Ted Loveday (@TedTalksUK) September 7, 2015
It is no secret that questions on the University Challenge appeal to an educational standard more at home with the privately-educated than anything else; which isn’t to say that its audience must simply be privately-educated. It simply suggests that when questions are focused on, for example, literature of the 17th century, Latin translation, or minimalism in music, one wonders at the concept of common knowledge, and knowledge in itself.
An example of previous University Challenge questions:
“Your starter for 10: A schoolboy play-on-words between Latin and English, what jocular translation is usually given to the phrase semper ubi sub ubi?
Three bonus questions on the opening lines of novels:
(a) Which novel, first published in serial form from 1914 to 1915, begins “Once upon a time and a very good time it was…”?
(b) “It was a dark and stormy night”’ are the first words of the 1830 novelPaul Clifford by which writer, whose other works include Eugene Aramand The Last Days of Pompeii?
(c) The novels Midnight’s Children, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Robinson Crusoe and Tristram Shandy all open with which word?”
What does intelligence mean and what is it measured by? When contestants famously previously failed to recognise a musical question sampling the modern R&B sounds of Frank Ocean, one must wonder as to what extent the non-typical, but very valid, contributions of the rest of the world are unnoticed by the majority’s standards.
It is very likely that Shah’s vest is improper, a fashion faux-paux which does not do well to read too much into. We cannot be sure that he donned the chain and the vest to question the legitimacy of educational standards. However, it is also clear that the impropriety can be interpreted as a sign of defiance. Within the elitist environment with which we both patrol the playground of the deemed intelligent and set the standard, there are remnants of inequality which would favour the symbolism of, for lack of better words, of the jumper-wearer over the vest-wearer.
#GeekAndGangsta. The hash-tag speaks for itself. It’s clear our clothes feature their own identities, can speak without saying of our cultural awareness. But as culture is so easily manipulated, the inference of what this can mean cannot be easily decided upon.
The conclusion is that Shah chose to don non-typical attire on a game show set to test intelligence and provided the ripples of an aftermath which suggest that clothing is not just clothing: the underlying current of values being tied up with appearance, and in this case intelligence, is definite.
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By: Lungani Gumede
UMLAZI TOWNSHIP, SOUTH AFRICA: Growing up in a rural village has many advantages and some of society’s favorite stories involve a dusty footed hero making it big in the city.
One of the biggest advantages of living in a rural setting is being thrust into the natural environment early on in ones life.
The surrounding forests, fields and rivers are a playground for children and, like other children, Dumisani Msweli quickly became infatuated with this environment.
He used to live with his grandmother in rural Umbumbulu, thirty minutes away from where Kwa-Zulu Natal’s coast meets the Indian Ocean.
However, Dumisani moved to be with his mother and stepfather in Umlazi township, the third largest township in South Africa, just outside of Durban.
Umlazi was one of them.
With a population of close to 405,000 in an area that is 47.46km squared (8,500 people per square kilometre) the township is compacted and land that is supposed to fit one family, has had to accommodate four or five houses on one plot.
So any arable land would have been converted into space for dwellings.
However, Dumisani always felt love for plants and trees and never forgot his passion.
After high school, Dumisani went to University and graduated with a degree in Nutrition, but that was not his passion.
“One of my mentors advised me to follow my passion,” Dumisani said in an interview with RISE NEWS.
Which is what he did by going back to school. He received a National Diploma in Horticulture from the Durban University of Technology.
Dumisani then says he “saw a need and an opportunity in the township,” a need for work, cheap products and a cleaner environment.
This is how Ibala Organics was born.
Ibala means “backyard” or “garden” in isiZulu and Dumisani quickly realized that other amabala or “openspace” that belonged to the people in the community were the key to creating a sustainable, consistently fruitful business for the township of Umlazi.
Dumisani’s idea was to rent and buy land from inside the community, such as gardens, backyards and schoolyards and plant tropical and subtropical fruits and then sell those fruits to supermarkets and fruit processors.
By shortening and localizing his supply chain, Dumisani says there will be no need for expensive refrigeration or transportation.
The initiative will sell its fruits (pun intended) to fruit processors and supermarkets, which means that the gardens will need to provide its wares regularly and on time and the more “amabala” they have, the better.
Ibala already has a square kilometre of household backyard space that it has acquired and processed and a further 1.5 kilometre squared space from schoolyards that are being cultivated for the planting of vegetables in April.
However, Dumisani says he is always on the lookout and constantly negotiating for more spaces.
Ibala Organics aims to provide communities with a very valuable second income, without actually having to toil the land.
Dumisani hires people from the community to work with him and is adamant that he wants to give opportunities to people who just left school with the right qualifications, over eight million people are unemployed in South Africa and university-leaving degree-bearing young people are not being hired.
Besides the good that Ibala Organics will do for the economies of the communities it operates in, Dumisani says “it is our vision to plant the value of tree’s in people’s lives.”
Dumisani wants to ensure that the people who will be participating in Ibala Organics gain a love for the plants and trees that he will be planting.
Getting buy-in from the community was not a problem for Dumisani, because he started close to home – on his own street.
Once he had proven his model to those close to home, it was easier to get support from neighboring communities.
The drought that has hit South Africa has not severely impacted on Ibala’s crop of tropical and subtropical fruit, such as Mangoes,paw paw, avocado, banana, granadilla, citrus fruit and litchi and in April they hope to add vegetables to the offering.
Ibala Organics will soon be completely operational and the gardens of Umlazi will be home to trees and plants with heavy-hanging branches bearing fruit and vegetables.
Perhaps Ibala Organics and Dumisani will create a wave across the 400,000 people strong township that encourages local products and unity in the community.
A hand-in-hand initiative for the people, by the people.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!
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