Monday, 23 January 2017

Anti-bullying activist Lizze Velasquez

Challenges meme culture in brave Instagram post
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Lizzie Velasquez and Sara Hirsh Bordo attend AOL Build to discuss 'A Brave Heart:: The Lizzie Velasquez Story' at AOL Studios on September 24, 2015 in New York City

Lizzie Velasquez knows a thing or two about appearance-based hate, but she knows more about putting up a fight against this hate.

The anti-bullying activist spoke out against memes featuring herself and real people. The 27-year-old woman, who lives with a neonatal progeroid syndrome which prevents her from accumulating body fat, bravely posted a meme featuring herself and subtext that suggests she is undesirable because of how she looks.

In response, the Austin-native fights back against the harmful words in the meme with a challenge to the meme creators and community.

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Neonatal progeroid syndrome

Neonatal progeroid syndrome is a rare genetic syndrome characterized by an aged appearance at birth. Other signs and symptoms include intrauterine growth restriction, feeding difficulties, distinctive craniofacial features, hypotonia, developmental delay and mild to severe intellectual disability. In most cases, affected infants pass away before age 7 months, but rare reports exist of survival into the teens or early 20s. Although the exact underlying cause of neonatal progeroid syndrome is unknown, it is likely a genetic condition that is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive.

The signs and symptoms of neonatal progeroid syndrome vary but may include:
  • Subcutaneous lipoatrophy (deficiency or absence of the fat layer beneath the skin) which gives infants an aged appearance at birth
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Failure to thrive
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Distinctive craniofacial features such as a triangular face; large skull with wide anterior (front) fontanelle; small, underdeveloped facial bones; natal teeth; low-set, posteriorly (towards the back) rotated ears, ectropion; and/or unusually sparse scalp hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes
  • Thin arms and legs with disproportionately large hands and feet
  • Small fingers and toes with underdeveloped nails
  • Osteopenia (low bone density)
  • Horizontal nystagmus
  • Developmental delay
  • Mild to severe intellectual disability
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A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story
Lizzie Velasquez has a rare congenital disease that impedes her from accumulating body fat. Foto: Thao Doan

Nine years ago, an anonymous person posted a video of Lizzie Velasquez at age 13 and titled it, “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” It went viral. This is her response.

There is one question I’ve been asked many times: “If you could talk to the person who posted that awful video about you, what would you say?” My answers have ranged from wanting to scream “WHY ME?!” all the way to saying I would give you the biggest hug and thank you for one of the biggest blessings in my life. To have to process what I would say after that is leaving me at a loss for words.

I believe with every fiber in my being that you and I were meant to be in each other’s lives. Mind you, I don’t know your sex, I don’t know your age and I don’t know where you’re from. At the end of the day, those are just facts. What I do know is that you have changed my life and the lives of people around the world.

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A Motivational Speaker
'World's ugliest woman' becomes motivational speaker

She has been given a title no woman will ever want to have.

She was labelled the world's ugliest woman by heartless netizens.

But that did not stop Ms Lizzie Velasquez, 24, from channelling the hatred into motivation and spreading the message of acceptance.

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Void decks remain a vital slice of HDB life

Mdm Chen Yuemei (left), 68, & her husband, Mr Wang Ye, 69, both retirees, teach elderly residents how to make dumplings at Palmwalk Cafe Corner, which is located at the void deck of Block 839, Tampines Street 83. The newly opened community cafe is where residents can interact informally over coffee and tea.ST FOTO: LIM YAOHUI

It is a Tuesday morning, about 20 elderly women are huddled at the void deck of Block 839, Tampines Street 83. 2 neighbours are teaching them how to make dumplings while they slurp free coffee and tea at the block's newly opened community cafe.

Also at the void deck is a mobile library filled with children's books, including comics & literary classics -- the perfect after-school treat for students living nearby.

A few streets away, beneath Block 718, Tampines Street 72, a group of senior citizens are engrossed in a regular session of tile game Rummy-O which, as retiree Tan Bak Muay puts it, is "good for the brain & eyes".

related:Yishun residents turn void deck into 'kumpung central'
No staring into the void for these folks

The story behind when the “void deck” was introduced and how it was invented
The term “void deck” is a truly Singaporean invention

Every Singaporean, especially those who live in the Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates, knows what a void deck is.

They are the open communal spaces located on the ground floor of most of Singapore’s 10,000 HDB blocks.

They are the spaces of fun (youth strumming guitar, boys playing football, elderly playing chess), the spaces of joy (Malay weddings), and the spaces of grief (funeral wakes) for many Singaporeans.

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Creating a void in our HDB void decks
10 Everyday Void Deck Scenes We Will Soon Never See Again

Tanjong Pagar Town Council has since confirmed that the railings were set up to prevent ball games, following complaints from residents.

What is becoming more obvious is that we are less and less able to do the things that were once possible at the community void deck of HDB housing estates.

The HDB flat is the essence of a Singaporean identity, but here are some of the things that we may no longer be able to see at our void decks in the future.

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Bird-Singing Corner - Uniquely Singapore
A group gather to stare and listen to the birds of their friends and possibly competitors

Bird-singing corners are the only places legal for old men to display their birds for all to see, and while this unique activity is slowly dwindling, there still remains a healthy number of mainly male hobbyist looking to keep their birds in tip-top condition.

Located mainly at void-decks or communal areas in neighbourhoods, bird-singing corners are easily distinguished by the tunes of prized birds such as the oriental white-eye or mata puteh. So prized are these birds that most cages that hang from their iron hooks are made of finely-carved ornate wooden furnishings, with some even having blue-jade bowls to contain water.

The history of these bird-singing corners however remains very much a mystery, and the many prideful uncles I spoke to often rattled on about irrelevant stuff before concluding that this hobby must have been either born from the days of catching birds in the kampong or something almost in the line of a sub-culture involving shorts, singlets, cigarettes and good old kopi.

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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Trump inauguration as the 45th president of the US

Trump fumes over inaugural crowd size

“Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly,” Donald Trump tweeted. | Getty
President Donald Trump and his team are still fuming over evidence of a relatively small crowd for his inauguration, with his chief of staff claiming the reports are an effort to “de-legitimize” Trump and another senior adviser explaining that the administration is offering “alternative facts.”

It has been an extraordinary start for the newly sworn-in president, in which Trump and his advisers have fixated on the inaugural crowd size and the well-attended protests, while also taking actions to freeze federal regulations and gut Obamacare.

Early Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at the millions of protesters worldwide who came out for the Women’s March on Washington — before sending a much more conciliatory tweet later in the morning.

A couple of hours before Barack Obama became a former President, he was walking along the White House colonnade. A reporter called out to him, “Any final words for the American people?” He had just two. “Thank you,” he said, without breaking his stride. Donald and Melania Trump were expected for coffee, and he had run out of time. There were no more speeches to deliver, no more warnings that he could issue. In language, deed, and demeanor, Obama had done his part to make the transfer of power an orderly one. It might have been reasonable for him to hope that, at least for the next few hours, the progression of Inaugural rituals would provide some semblance of civic grace to what had been a notably unsettling time of transition in America. The causes included the talk of Russian hacking and the antic appointment to many of the most important Cabinet posts of dubious executives, men and women who are tragically unfit, from ideological extremists to unschooled plutocrats. There was the matter, too, of financial conflicts and nepotism, an autonomic reflex of aspiring authoritarians. At a pre-Inaugural black-tie dinner, Trump said to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.”

When the Trumps arrived at the White House, Michelle Obama, wearing a dark-red dress, hugged Melania, in impeccable powder blue. Michelle, a practiced performer, smiled warmly. Still, then and later in the day, there were moments when her expression lost focus, as if she had finally exhausted her supply of forced cheer. The two women rode to the Capitol together; their husbands were in a separate car, as were the incoming and outgoing Vice-Presidents. Already seated on the Capitol steps were all of the living former Presidents and First Ladies except for George H. W. and Barbara Bush, who were too ill to travel. George W. Bush appeared to supply a stream of wisecracks. Jimmy Carter, who is ninety-two, and his wife, Rosalynn, had arrived the day before, on a commercial flight, on which he shook the hand of every passenger. When Bill and Hillary Clinton gamely walked down the steps to join them, someone could be heard to say, “We’re here for you.” Hillary’s presence was, by many measures, an act of civic courage.

Once everyone was in place, the ceremony moved quickly. Justice Clarence Thomas administered the oath of office to Vice-President Mike Pence. After an interlude of song from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, John Roberts, the Chief Justice, swore in the new President, and got the words right—he hadn’t in 2009, the first time he swore in Obama. Melania, who had been holding Abraham Lincoln’s Bible and one given to her husband when he was a child, sat down to listen to him speak. As he began his oration, she lifted an umbrella. It had started to rain.

Donald Trump inauguration: Booing speaks poorly of those in crowd, says Democrat Chuck Schumer

The most senior Democrat in the Senate has condemned supporters of Donald Trump who booed at his inauguration speech in which he called for an inclusive America.

Chuck Schumer was among those who spoke during Friday’s inauguration ceremony, and his slot was scheduled just minutes before Donald Trump took the oath of office.

“We Americans have always been a forward-looking, problem-solving, optimistic, patriotic and decent people,” said Mr Schumer, the only Democrat to address the crowds.

Donald Trump’s Inauguration Draws 18% Fewer Viewers Than Barack Obama’s in 2009

Television coverage of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration reached an average total of 30.6 million viewers across the 12 broadcast and cable news networks that provided live updates throughout the day, about 18% down from the viewers who tuned in when Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009.

About 38 million people watched coverage of the 2009 inauguration, far more than for Trump's swearing-in ceremony. Throughout his campaign, Trump bragged about his ability to get high TV ratings.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox News Channel led the networks in coverage, and was the only network that saw an increase in viewers from 2009. NBC News came in second.

Two million protest against Trump's inauguration worldwide

Hope appeared to emerge from fear among Donald Trump’s opponents at the weekend as up to two million people around the world, mostly women, staged protests against the new US president and proclaimed the birth of a new political movement.

In raucous but peaceful scenes, more than half a million joined the Women’s March on Washington DC in what was thought to be the largest ever inauguration protest, dwarfing the 60,000 who protested against the Vietnam war before Richard Nixon re-took office in 1973. "Welcome to your first day, we will not go away!” they chanted in the direction of the White House.

More than 600 “sister marches” took place across the US and around the globe with 250,000 reported to have gathered in Chicago, and around 100,000 each in Los Angeles and Boston. In New York, 400,000 anti-Trump activists marched past Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, according to the office of the Democrat mayor, Bill De Blasio. Around 100,000 people also mobilised in London, with other smaller marches in countries including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Hungary, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Canada.

Inauguration Day in the United States
Inauguration Day occurs in the USA once every four years on January 20. It occurs in the year after presidential elections have been held

The head of state of the USA has been a president since 1789. In that year, George Washington was elected and inaugurated as president of the United States of America. He was inaugurated for the first time on April 30, 1789, and for the second time on March 4, 1793. Subsequent inaugurations were held on March 4 until the second inauguration of President Franklin Roosevelt on January 20, 1937. Since then Inauguration Day has been held on January 20 and the term of office officially starts at 12:00 noon on that date.

Usually, the vice-president is sworn in first and the president at exactly 12:00 noon. After they have been sworn in, the president and vice-president are given four ruffles and flourishes. The ruffles are played on drums and the flourishes on bugles, which are simple brass instruments with no valves. The ruffles and flourishes form a fanfare before a performance of the president's anthem, "Hail to the Chief", and the vice-president's anthem, "Hail, Columbia". There is then a 21-gun salute from the howitzers of the military district of Washington.

After the ceremony, the president and vice-president are guests of honor at a luncheon given by the United States Congress. Later in the day, they parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and walk part of the way from the Capitol to the White House. If Inauguration Day falls on is a Sunday, the presidential oath is usually administered in a private ceremony on that day and a public ceremony and celebrations are held on the following day.

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was be the first African-American president to be inaugurated. He is succeded by Republican Donald John Trump, who won the 2016 elections where he was up against Hillary Clinton.