SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Marguerite Joseph might be advanced in years, but she likes to use Facebook to keep up with her family. It's just that Facebook doesn't accommodate the idea of being born in 1908.
When Mark Zuckerberg had (or didn't have) the sparkling idea for Facebook, he imagined that everyone on it would be 20 and gorgeous.
Oh, all right, maybe 22. And maybe not always so gorgeous.
But he surely never conceived that more mature people -- yes, the over-30s -- would be interested in sharing their party photos with strangers online.
How times have changed.
And yet the site still has some quirks. Something Marguerite Joseph from Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., discovered to her dismay.
Joseph isn't shy about her age. She's 104. In fact, she'll be 105 in April.
She's legally blind, but she likes to use Facebook to keep up with her family. She's also proud of her age. Yet every time she has tried to put 1908 as her year of birth, Facebook insists she must mean 1928.
Her granddaughter Gail Marlow reads and responds to Joseph's Facebook messages every day.
Marlow told Channel 4 in Detroit: "Every time I tried to change the settings to the right year, Facebook always came back with an unknown error message and would send us right back to a year she wasn't born in. I would love to see her real age on Facebook, I mean in April she's going to be 105. It's special."
You might imagine that Facebook was already aware of this little anomaly. You might imagine that the Duchess of Cambridge secretly dreamed of marrying Mick Jagger.
However, now that the publicity machine has cranked up enough noise to reach Facebook's ears, the company issued a statement: "We've recently discovered an issue whereby some Facebook users may be unable to enter a birthday before 1910. We are working on a fix for this and we apologize for the inconvenience."
What still seems odd is that the machines wouldn't even let Joseph have 1918, instead shifting her immediately to 1928. Perhaps they couldn't believe how young she looked.
There has been a small side benefit to Joseph's sudden publicity. When Channel 4 Detroit took up her cause, she had just over 100 friends.
However, if you go to her Facebook page now, she has 202.
In case you were wondering whether she might be friends with you, please let me reveal that she is a big fan of the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, "I Love Lucy," Ellen DeGeneres, and the movie "Casino."
Oh, yes, she seems like a character.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Fighting back tears and struggling to catch his breath, the father of a 6-year-old gunned down in the school shooting in Connecticut told the world Saturday about a little girl who loved to draw and was always smiling, and he also reserved surprising words of sympathy for the gunman.
Robbie Parker's daughter Emilie was among the 20 children who died Friday in the one of the worst attacks on schoolchildren in U.S. history. He was one of the first parents to speak publicly about their loss.
"She was beautiful. She was blond. She was always smiling," he said.
Parker spoke to reporters not long after police released the names and ages of the victims, a simple document that told a horrifying story of loss.
He expressed no animosity, said he was not mad and offered sympathy for family of the man who killed 26 people and himself.
To the man's family, he said, "I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you."
He said he struggled to explain the death to Emilie's two siblings, 3 and 4.
"They seem to get the fact that they have somebody they're going to miss very much," he said.
Parker said his daughter loved to try new things – except for new food. And she was quick to cheer up those in need.
"She never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for those she around her," he said.
The world is a better place because Emilie was in it, he said.
"I'm so blessed to be her dad," he said. - www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Imagine a future in which old electric-car batteries are deployed in neighborhoods as energy-storage systems that guard against power outages, while paving the way for wind and solar power—and more electric cars. The idea has moved one step closer with the demonstration of a boxy unit of used Chevy Volt batteries capable of providing enough electricity to power three to five average American homes for up to two hours.
Developed by General Motors and ABB, one of the world's largest electric-technology companies, the device features five lithium-ion battery packs from plug-in hybrid Volts, strung together in a new arrangement and cooled by air instead of the liquid used in their former lives on the road. The batteries are degraded below acceptable performance levels for cars, but the companies say the batteries have enough life to serve the grid for at least ten years in this device, a community energy storage unit.
"In a car, you want immediate power, and you want a lot of it," said Alexandra Goodson, business development manager for energy storage modules at ABB. Many grid storage applications, on the other hand, involve slow, steady delivery of energy. "We're discharging for two hours instead of immediately accelerating," she said. "It's not nearly as demanding on the system." (See related photos: "Seven Ingredients for Better Electric Car Batteries")
The Road to Renewables
The partners previously demonstrated the technology in a lab environment. Now, said Pablo Valencia, senior manager of battery lifecycle management at GM, "It's become a reality," during a presentation Wednesday in Sausalito, California, where GM set up a demo unit about the size of a few refrigerators to power video, lights, and audio in an outdoor tent. "This is an industry first, to be able to use secondary automotive batteries in a grid-based application," Valencia said.
To test the repackaged Volt batteries in the real world, partner Duke Energy, the largest utility in the United States, plans to install this unit next year in the field alongside a transformer. "We'll test it as long as it takes to highlight all the value streams," said Dan Sowder, senior project manager for new technology at Duke.
Deployed on the grid, community energy storage devices could help utilities integrate highly variable, and sometimes unpredictable, renewables like solar and wind into the power supply, while absorbing spikes in demand from electric-car charging.
"Wind, it's a nightmare for grid operators to manage," said Britta Gross, director of global energy systems and infrastructure commercialization for GM. "It's up, down, it doesn't blow for three days. It's very labor-intensive to manage." Sowder, whose company serves 7.1 million customers in the U.S. Midwest and Southeast, explained, "Our grid, and most electricity grids, are not really designed to handle that kind of rapid swinging. Storage can help dampen that out." Smooth delivery of renewable energy has been a major research area for Zurich, Switzerland-based ABB, the world's largest supplier of electrical equipment to the wind power industry.
Meanwhile, on the demand side, utilities are staring down the possibility of huge spikes in energy demand from electric cars, which represent "probably the largest electrical load introduced to a residential setting in 50 years," said Scott Hinson, director of the Pike Powers Commercialization Lab in Austin, Texas.
"That is a little bit alarming for a grid that was not designed to handle that load," adds Sowder. Community energy storage devices can be charged at times when, say, wind is kicking up a storm at night but there is little demand for electricity, and make it available when needed. "The result can be less infrastructure upgrades needed to support electric-vehicle charging."
Seeking Grid Solutions
GM isn't the only automaker looking to help build a secondary market for its electric car batteries. In January, Nissan North America joined with ABB, 4R Energy, and Sumitomo Corporation of America to announce plans to build a prototype of a grid storage system using Nissan Leaf batteries. (See related photos: "Eleven Electric Cars Charge Ahead, Amid Obstacles")
After all, if the battery—the most expensive part of an electric car—remains an asset beyond its useful life in the vehicle, Valencia said, "It helps with residual values." That's the term used to describe how much a car is worth at the end of its lease or the end of its useful life—a key factor in determining lease rates and resale values. As a result, he said, "We're helping the first customer."
"If there is a market in stationary power for spent batteries, consumers could recognize this as an increased resale value at end of life, however small," said Kevin See, an analyst with the research firm Lux Research.
Of course, because electric cars like the Volt and the Leaf are new to the market, there will not be a large supply of spent electric-car batteries for some time to come. The batteries are supposed to last for up to ten years in the car. For the demonstration unit, GM scavenged its own laboratories to find batteries that had been degraded by simulations.
The batteries in the demo unit had been degraded down to about 85 or 90 percent of their original capacity, Valencia said. "We were calling everybody and saying, 'Give me your oldest batteries,' " he said. But GM envisions old batteries eventually will be tracked down and purchased for grid-storage use through the same system used today to auction off parts like water pumps and starters at the end of vehicle life for recycling or rebuilding. Before a vehicle is scrapped, its ID number is scanned to pull up a list of all the "core" components for which there is demand.
Adapting lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles adds complexity to the task of designing energy storage for the power grid, however. "You must take a battery that's designed to function in a very specific, mobile, volume- and weight-constrained application in cars," said See. And the necessary adaptations vary by type of car. "A fully electric vehicle battery is designed to hold maximum energy, while a hybrid is designed to have a higher ratio of power to energy." Ultimately, he said, this extra complexity "could add further cost in preparing those systems for an entirely different application than the one they were initially designed for." (See related story: "Battery Maker A123's Bankruptcy Underscores Hurdles for Clean Tech")
Spent car batteries face tough competition from new lithium-ion batteries designed specifically for a given grid application, said See, as well as alternative technologies like flow batteries and molten salt batteries, which have the potential to cost less. "There is and will be no shortage of Li-ion batteries given the explosion of manufacturing capacity in the face of limited demand," See said.
possible that stationary power customers looking for batteries could purchase spent EV batteries at significant discounts, he said. "Those customers would be the real winners, provided those batteries hold up, rather than the automakers." Indeed, according to Sowder, Duke Energy is "hopeful," but not sure yet that adapted Volt batteries will save money.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: National geographic
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Akbari’s parents are from the state of Gujarat in India. Fremont’s population is 18 percent Indian-American and just over 50 percent Asian-American. (Paresh Dave/Neon Tommy)
Fremont — a Bay Area city with 218,000 people — welcomed its first major movie theater within city limits just five months ago.
It’s not like theaters in neighboring cities are more than a short drive away. But 18-year-old Aziz Akbari has wondered why an upper middle-class suburb on the edge of Silicon Valley has been slow to develop key features such as a cinema. After all, Irvine, a Southern California city of similar size already has a handful of theaters.
“When we have a large population, easy access to transportation, a very competitive rent market and existing office space, why aren’t companies coming to Fremont?” he asks.
Akbari, a sophomore at the University of Southern California pursuing a bachleor’s in mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science, is running for mayor of Fremont this fall. Though the clear underdog among the five major candidates, Akbari’s committed enough to spend three days a week away from his full course load in L.A. to campaign in Fremont. If elected, he would become the city’s youngest mayor ever and the first mayor of Indian heritage.
Akbari’s not the most polished candidate. Put on the spot, he couldn’t name the state legislators who represent Fremont. He hasn’t reported any campaign contributions since announcing his candidacy a month ago, according to the latest documents made available by the city clerk. And he hopes of improving local schools in ways mayors probably can’t affect. Yet, he’s met at least a pair of congressmen, chatted with business leaders across California and is on the verge of having his story told by a national news organization.
Born in Long Island, Akbari said his earliest exposure to politics likely came as his dad followed the 1996 presidential race that pit Bill Clinton against Bob Dole. During a recent Sunday evening conversation outside his USC apartment building, he said his passion lies in politics.
“I think the world would benefit from another mechanical engineer, but I think this is what I need now,” he said. “I have the opportunity, and I see the potential in Fremont.”
Akbari, pausing several times over the course of an hour to greet friends passing by, was especially critical of the city’s $4 million subsidy of a community water park. Finished in 2009, the park is open daily only during the summer.
“It is the most ridiculous thing the city council has ever done,” he said. “At the same time the school district announced pinks slips and libraries cut hours and staff, they said a water park would be a good idea that would attract enough people to pay for itself.”
The park, Aqua Adventure, also was constructed using state grants and donations. Anu Natarajan, a councilwoman also running for mayor, has trumpted that the park earns $800,000 in revenues in campaign mailers.
Akbari started toying with both money and politics in middle school.
He turned a $50 investment into a $1,000 paycheck by selling video games and collectibles on eBay. And though now running as an independent, he volunteered at the time for the campaign of Rep. Pete Stark, a Democrat. Out of every 10 registered voters in Fremont, five are registered as Democrats, three have no party preference and two are Republicans.
Now in the thick of things himself, Akbari says there’s room for more restaurants, shops, starts-ups and manufacturing plants in Fremont. To be sure, though supportive of growth, also on his platform is a pledge to preserve the city’s historic districts.
Jobs in Fremont peaked at the start of 2001, when biotechnology companies were blossoming on land where vegetables once sprouted. At the time, the San Francisco Chronicle described Fremont as “the first East Bay city to morph into a high-tech hub.”
Employment held steady until the recession, just as the city’s population began to rise from a steady 200,000 people. Employment has been slowly returning to pre-recession levels the past two years.
Fremont’s 6.9 percent unemployment rate in July was still more than two-and-half times higher than figures in 2001, but was modest compared to California’s 10.7 percent unemployment rate in July.
A quick glance of data collected last year by an economic analysis firm for the East Bay Economic Development Alliance suggests Fremont has lost as many businesses as its gained in the last decade.
A separate study completed for the alliance found that speculative development in the 1990s and early 2000s left Fremont with a third of the East Bay’s research and development space. But the market for such space hasn’t fully rebounded, and “some of the excess space in weaker locations may need to be adapted to other uses.”
The figures give some credibility to Akbari’s claims that development in Fremont has been stagnant for the past decade. But is the political novice (who will turn 19 shortly after the Nov. 6 election) the right person to attract investment to the city?
“I know exactly what I want to do and what needs to be done everyday in office to reach that vision,” he said. “A lot of young people feel they are not being heard, so in protest they don’t vote. But that’s not how democracy works. That’s what I’m trying to go out there and show.”— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Muslim Medianetwork
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A respite from almost a fortnight of clashes in Lebanon's second city, Tripoli, raised hopes yesterday that the release of some kidnapping victims would ease a growing threat of unchecked violence spilling over from the Syrian civil war.
But the lull failed to douse an enduring fear elsewhere in Lebanon that the enmity in the north will inevitably spread to other parts of the country. Another day of soaring violence in neighbouring Syria instead fuelled concerns that the raging civil war would further spill beyond the borders of its unstable neighbour.
Turkey yesterday announced that one of 11 Lebanese Shia men kidnapped north of Aleppo in Syria in May had been released in what was hailed by his captors as an "act of good will". Hussein Ali Omar's release came after a request by the head of the Committee of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon, Sheikh Hasan Qaterji.
Hours later a leader of the country's Meqdad clan, which kidnapped 20 Syrians inside Lebanon earlier this month, said all but four would soon be freed in a bid to defuse tensions.
Location of Tripoli and Beirut in Lebanon. Credit: Observer graphics
Lebanese leaders say that they don't fear a return to the dark days of the civil war that ravaged the country for 16 years from 1975. "We've lived through it and no one wants to do it again," said the leader of Lebanon's Druze sect, Walid Jumblatt. "The crisis in Syria is being driven by different things."
However, on the streets of Tripoli and of the capital, Beirut, there is a strong sense that the sectarian faultlines that drove the Lebanese civil war are driving the current tensions.
"People are talking Sunni and Shia again," said Wissam Awada in Beirut's Hamra district. "People here have always cared about where other Lebanese came from, but this time there is an edge to their questioning, more of a feeling than usual that you are being judged by where you are from."
In Tripoli, where the clashes have taken place between an Alawite community in the Jebel al-Mohsen district and conservative Sunni groups in the nearby Bab al-Tabanneh district, there is little reason to believe that incendiary tensions will disappear any time soon.
"It has been happening here since May," said Maher Anwar, a visitor from the nearby Akkar region. "And every few months things flare up between the groups. The hatred there is growing."
Tripoli's Alawites are staunchly supportive of the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Most of the city's Sunnis remain implacably opposed to the regime and supportive of the Syrian rebel army, now locked in a fight to the death with loyalist forces little more than 100 kilometres away.
Tripoli has become a microcosm of many Syrian cities, especially Homs just to the east, with whose residents many in northern Lebanon share ancestral links. The clashes there have been been driven both by sectarian enmity and a social fabric and history that have long cast each side as protagonists.
Tripoli's geopolitical history had always meant that its citizens would be unable to separate themselves from the crisis in Syria. Lebanon's leaders have more room to move on this score but, despite appearances, have seemed unwilling to use it.
"The official state policy is one of distance from Syria's troubles," said the head of one Lebanese sect. "But that's just a cloak. Everyone is involved in the same old Lebanese ways. Don't forget that the Syrian regime only physically left Beirut in 2005 [after the assassination of the former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, for which Syrian security chiefs have been blamed]. But they haven't really left at all."
Early this month Lebanon's former information minister, Michel Samaha, was arrested in his home and accused of transporting explosives from Syria at the request of Bashar al-Assad and his head of national security, Ali Mamlouk.
Accusations since levelled against Samaha, a staunch supporter of Assad and the 8 March political alliance in Lebanon, led by Hezbollah, include that he was told to ensure that the bombs were detonated in Akkar — a move that would have heightened already considerable sectarian tensions.
The arrest of Samaha, an unusual move in Lebanon, where security forces remain unable or unwilling to assert their independence from the whims of politicians, has drawn little response from Hezbollah, or the pro-Assad Christian bloc, led by the former general, Michel Aoun.
Both groups have joined the anti-Assad 14 March bloc in urging that civil obedience be restored in Beirut, where the airport road has three times in the past fortnight been obstructed by masked men, and in Tripoli, where gunmen continue to roam despite the presence of the army.
However, the ever-worsening violence in Syria appears sure to further test the resolve of Lebanon's leaders and the patience of its citizens.
"Can the 8 March bloc sit back in the face of obvious provocations and blame it all on al-Qaida?" the sect leader said. "The Samaha issue is a test case. The evidence is strong and they can't reflexively defend him."
In the meantime, residents of both cities are fervently hoping that the ghosts of the civil war will somehow contain the enmity in the north. "It has to stop," said Nour Dagham in Beirut. "If it doesn't, Lebanon is just the first stop in a regional firestorm."—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Darren Joblonkay was digging at an archeological camp in southeastern Turkey when he spotted a lock of curly hair carved in stone.
“At first, we weren’t 100 per cent sure what it was,” said Joblonkay, a 23-year-old University of Toronto graduate student.
He didn’t want to get too excited yet.
Then, there was a shoulder, an arm and a wrist adorned by a bracelet with two lions.
Word spread quickly at the site. Soon, there was a large crowd.
The student had found a king.
A colossal 3,000-year-old statue of King Suppiluliuma lay face down, eyes wide open, curly beard in the dirt, the tale of his reign carved into his back.
Joblonkay couldn’t believe his luck.
This was the third of his four major archeological finds. All hail from a 10-by-10-metre square bordered by two temples excavated in the 1930s and in 2008. They expected a courtyard, but it’s an archeological treasure chest.
“He’s very lucky,” said Tim Harrison, professor of near eastern archeology at the U of T and director of the Tayinat Archeological Project.
It took two weeks and a team of more than 60 field workers to unearth the two-tonne statue of the man who reigned over the Neo-Hittite kingdom of Patina in the 9th century B.C.
It is a massive monument.
The head and torso are intact and measure about 1.5 metres in length, suggesting the statue’s full size was close to 4 metres, said Harrison. It’s about a metre wide. They’ve found fragments of the bottom half but have not excavated it fully yet. The king’s big eyes, made of white and black stone, are beautifully preserved, said Harrison.
There was no guessing who the king was: “I am Suppiluliuma,” reads the inscription on his back. It is followed by a list of his accomplishments: taking land from eight neighbouring kingdoms, establishing a border, and building a monument to his father, said Harrison.
Joblonkay wants to know how the statue was knocked down, why it is there at all. Is there evidence of an internal conflict? Did trouble come from outside the kingdom, beyond the borders?
These are difficult questions to answer, said Joblonkay, who decided he wanted to pursue archeology after his first undergraduate year at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.
Though he is looking forward to starting his PhD this fall, and to having a real shower, Joblonkay said he’s “sad to be leaving the statue, sad to be leaving the site.” Joblonkay leaves Turkey Sunday.
He said he’ll return next summer to uncover the mystery of how the statue of the king was toppled, the big eyes staring at dirt for so long.—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia international Association) — Relatives have confirmed 6-year-old Veronica Moser was killed during the premiere of the latest Batman saga, 'The Dark Knight Rises', in Colorado. Her 25-year-old mother remains in hospital in critical condition.
10 people died during the attack in the theatre, and two more succumbed to their injuries at the hospital.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told reporters that the last of the 10 deceased victims from the midnight showing of a Batman movie has been removed from the theater.
Meanwhile, details about some of the victims are slowly emerging.
In a tragic twist of fate, one of the victims of this rampage was aspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi – who survived the Eaton Centre shooting in Toronto just one month ago. In a moving blog post she wrote a few weeks ago, Jessica spoke about that day, saying she " saw the terror on bystanders’ faces."
"I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath," the journalist wrote.
Her brother Jordan confirmed her death to reporters as he was catching a flight from her native San Antonio, Texas to Denver.
He took to Twitter to say "'This could easily be the worst night of my life. It appears that my sister has been fatally wounded in a mass shooting at a movie premiere in Denver, CO."
Jessica was attending the premiere with a friend, Brent Lowak, who was reportedly shot at least one time and was taken to a nearby hospital.
Another victim, AJ Boik, who graduated from the local high school just weeks ago, was attending the premiere of the 'Dark Knight Rises' with his girlfriend, Lasamoa Cross, who he planned to marry. She survived; he did not.
And on Saturday morning, parents of sailor John Larimer said Navy officials notified them that their 27-year-old son was one of the 12 killed.
The family said that Larimer's brother is working with the Navy to take his body home to Crystal Lake, Ill. He was with a unit that belongs to U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet at Buckley Air Force.
Matt McQuinn, 27, was killed after heroically diving in front of his girlfriend and her older brother to shield them from the gunfire.
And Alex Sullivan had planned to ring in his 27th birthday with friends at a special midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" and then celebrate his first wedding anniversary on Sunday.
Late Friday, Sullivan's family confirmed that police told them he was among those killed.
Micayla Medek, 23, was working in a sandwich shop while deciding what to do after college. Her family waited an agonising 19 hours before it was confirmed she was among the dead. —www.shafaqna.com/english