By: Zeyneb Varol of The Middle East Eye
Under the glaring sun of a Saturday afternoon in August, a restaurant in a small eastern Turkish town welcomes its “most valuable customers”.
It is only one of the many establishments across the town where those in need are invited to eat free of charge. This well-preserved tradition has been carried down from generation to generation for decades.
Karakocan, a 70-minute drive north of the centre of Elazıg province, has attracted attention in recent years for its tradition of offering free food to those in need. For locals, the custom is a way of fulfilling their responsibility to assist the less fortunate.
Mehmet Ozturk, 55, the owner and manager of one of Karakocan’s busiest restaurants, Merkez, for nearly 35 years, says he always keeps at least three tables reserved for those in need, even during rush hour when his eatery is cramped. According to Ozturk, “the poor never fail to come”.
On any given day, Ozturk says at least 15 people come to his restaurant to receive a free meal. According to residents, around 100 people eat for free each day across the whole town, which is home to around 28,000 people, according to official statistics.
Galip is one of the familiar faces at the restaurant who has eaten there every day for the last 10 years. “He was here for breakfast and he will probably come for dinner as well,” a young waiter says.
Suffering from mental illness, Galip doesn’t share much.
“The Merkez is my favourite place in town, because the food is great,” he says.
The restaurants offer Galip and others their pick from a variety of choices listed on their menus including kebabs, chicken, soup, rice and salads.
Ozturk says: “The tradition has always been here, even 70 years ago. For us it was a natural thing to do, something we learned from our elders.”
By: Rachel Revesz The Independent
An 11-year-old boy who was dying from severe epilepsy has not had any seizures for 300 days since being prescribed a medical marijuana product.
Billy Caldwell, whose intractable epilepsy means he cannot get help through medication or diet, began treatment with cannabis oil in the US, where medical marijuana is legal, in 2016.
His prescription was transferred to his local GP, Brendan O’Hare, in Northern Ireland, and Billy became the first person to receive a prescription for medical marijuana in the UK.
The medicine, which contains a compound found in cannabis plants called CBD, does not contain any synthetics or chemicals. The company, Billy’s Bud, was named after Billy in July.
His mother, Charlotte Caldwell, said Billy used to suffer up to 100 seizures per day, has now not had a single seizure for 300 days. Ms Caldwell said the cannabis oil has also improved his autism, for example, better eye contact and engagement with books and toys.
“To me, that’s incredible, because one seizure can kill him,” she told ITV News after 90 days of no seizures.
By: Jon Sharman of The Independent
South Korea’s military has dropped eight heavy bombs near its border with the North in a show of what local media called “overwhelming force” following Pyongyang’s latest missile test.
President Moon Jae-in ordered the strike, by four F-15K fighter-bombers, at a firing range in the country’s east to “display a strong capability to punish” North Korea if it were to attack.
The MK-84 multi-purpose bomb is a 2,000lb munition that can penetrate some 11m of earth and 11ft of concrete. South Korea said all eight hit their targets at a testing ground on the country’s own soil.
The Yonhap news agency said government officials wanted to show Seoul’s ability to overwhelm its belligerent neighbour in the case of all-out hostility.
Pyongyang’s test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island was condemned by Tokyo as an “unprecedented, serious and grave threat” to the region. “We will do our utmost to protect people’s lives,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
By: Lucy Wang of Inhabitat
A pollution-fighting green city unlike any before is springing to life in China. Designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, the first “Forest City” is now under construction Liuzhou, Guangxi Province. The futuristic city will use renewable energy for self sufficiency and be blanketed in almost 1 million plants and 40,000 trees—a sea of greenery capable of absorbing nearly 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 57 tons of pollutants annually.
Commissioned by Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning for the north of Liuzhou along the Liujiang river, the 175-hectare Liuzhou Forest City will be the first of its kind that, if successful, may raise the bar for urban design worldwide. This first Chinese Forest City will host 30,000 people in a community where all buildings are entirely covered in nearly a million plants of over 100 species, as well as 40,000 trees, that produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen. The use of greenery-covered facades builds on Stefano Boeri’s previous works, including the Vertical Forest residential building in Milan.
The new green city will be entirely wired and connected to Liuzhou with a fast rail line used by electric cars. Powered by geothermal and solar energy, Liuzhou Forest City will include residential areas, commercial and recreational spaces, two schools, and a hospital. The project is slated for completion in 2020.
By: Sonia Gutierrez
Twenty one people were fired from a South Carolina company after taking part in the Day Without Immigrants Protest.
The movement closed restaurants and shops across the country to show the contributions immigrants have on the American workforce.
Juvenito Quintana and 20 others all missed work on February 16th and right the next day, they got a letter from Encore Boat Builders LLC in Lexington.
The letter said they were being terminated for no show/ no call in. Their last day listed as February 16th, the day of the protest.
Quintana says some employees got calls from management the day before telling them not to miss or else they’d lose their job. That’s why he said a lot didn’t call in, for fear.
Most of the employees had been working there for years and have small children. Quintana is a permanent resident and feels like the termination was unfair.
Melissa Burnette is an employment attorney and says South Carolina is a Right To Work state where employers can make those kinds of decisions.
“Some employers are more supportive and would not have terminated the employees but some employers have the right to do that” she said.
It’s important for employees to understand their rights to protest like wearing t-shirts or posting flyers if it doesn’t interfere with the business operations Burnette said. But they also need to understand their responsibilities like being expected to show up to work.
By: Lynsey Bews
The Scottish Government is considering enshrining a ‘right to food’ in Scots law.
It is one of a number of recommendations being looked at following the publication of a report by the Independent Working Group on Food Poverty earlier this year.
The group said that while enshrining the right would not in itself end food insecurity, it would mean the Government and other public bodies would have a duty to ensure everyone has secure access to adequate and affordable food.
“The Scottish Government would be prepared to be challenged legally on how well it is implementing policies and deploying resources towards this end, within the limits of its existing powers,” its report said.
Other measures recommended by the group and accepted by the Government include introducing a system to measure food security in Scotland, and calling on the UK Government to help reduce the risk of sanctions and benefit delays in the welfare system.
The charity Trussell Trust has reported a rise in the use of food banks in recent years, with problems with benefits identified as the most significant reason for the increase.
The working group was set up by Scottish ministers in October 2015 to examine food insecurity and poverty.
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: “We have been very clear – no-one should have to rely on emergency food provision in a country as prosperous as Scotland.
“As the report from the working group highlighted, food poverty is a symptom of wider poverty and the UK Government’s harmful welfare cuts and benefit sanctions regime has clearly pushed more and more people into an income crisis, increasing the demand for emergency food.
“We want to create a sustainable solution to tackling food poverty across Scotland, and therefore I am committed to exploring a range of options, including looking into potentially enshrining the right to food into Scots law.
By: Fiona Macdonald
Scientists have struggled for millennia to understand human consciousness – the awareness of one’s existence. Despite advances in neuroscience, we still don’t really know where it comes from, and how it arises.
But researchers think they might have finally figured out its physical origins, after pinpointing a network of three specific regions in the brain that appear to be crucial to consciousness.
It’s a pretty huge deal for our understanding of what it means to be human, and it could also help researchers find new treatments for patients in vegetative states.
“For the first time, we have found a connection between the brainstem region involved in arousal and regions involved in awareness, two prerequisites for consciousness,” said lead researcher Michael Fox from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre at Harvard Medical School.
“A lot of pieces of evidence all came together to point to this network playing a role in human consciousness.”
Consciousness is generally thought of as being comprised of two critical components – arousal and awareness.
Researchers had already shown that arousal is likely regulated by the brainstem– the portion of the brain that links up with the spinal cord – seeing as it regulates when we sleep and wake, and our heart rate and breathing.
Awareness has been more elusive. Researchers have long thought that it resides somewhere in the cortex – the outer layer of the brain – but no one has been able to pinpoint where.
Now the Harvard team has identified not only the specific brainstem region linked to arousal, but also two cortex regions, that all appear to work together to form consciousness.
To figure this out, the team analysed 36 patients in hospital with brainstem lesions – 12 of them were in a coma (unconscious) and 24 were defined as being conscious.
The researchers then mapped their brainstems to figure out if there was one particular region that could explain why some patients had maintained consciousness despite their injuries, while others had become comatose.
What they found was one small area of the brainstem – known as the rostral dorsolateral pontine tegmentum – that was significantly associated with coma. Ten out of the 12 unconscious patients had damage in this area, while just one out of the 24 conscious patients did.
By Nicky Woolf
SpaceX founder Elon Musk has outlined his highly ambitious vision for manned missions to Mars, which he said could begin as soon as 2022 – three years sooner than his previous estimates.
However, the question of how such extravagantly expensive missions would be funded remains largely in the dark.
“What I really want to try to achieve here is to make Mars seem possible – like it’s something we can achieve in our lifetimes,” Musk told an audience in his keynote speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Tuesday.
He said there were “two fundamental paths” facing humanity today. “One is that we stay on Earth forever and then there will be an inevitable extinction event,” he said. “The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilization, and a multi-planetary species.”
In order to achieve this goal, Musk outlined a multi-stage launch and transport system, including a reusable booster – like the Falcon 9, which SpaceX has already successfully tested – only much larger. The booster, and the “interplanetary module” on top of it, would be nearly as long as two Boeing 747 aircraft. It could initially carry up to 100 passengers, he said.
The first ship to go to Mars, Musk said, would be named Heart of Gold as a tribute to the ship powered by an “infinite improbability drive” from Douglas Adams’ science fiction novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Similar modules, also launched using reusable boosters, would remain in Earth’s orbit to refuel the interplanetary craft to be able to use multiple trips, including to other parts of the solar system such as Enceladus, a moon of Saturn on which Nasa’s Cassini mission recently found evidence of a polar subsurface water ocean that could harbor life.
Michael Edison Hayden
Multiple NFL players showed their support for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Sunday, as members of teams from across the country locked arms, raised their fists or knelt during or just after the national anthem during the first big day of the league’s 2016 season.
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raised his fist, four Miami Dolphins players knelt, and players from several other teams interlocked arms or raised their fists as an apparent sign of unity with Kaepernick, who began his protest last month during the NFL’s preseason over what he said was the oppression of “black people and people of color.”
Peters — who is black and told the press Friday that he salutes Kaepernick, calling it “a great cause” — raised his fist in protest at the start of a home game against the San Diego Chargerstoday. As he did, many of his teammates locked arms in an apparent show of solidarity.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, Miami Dolphins players Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jelani Jenkins and Kenny Stills knelt during the national anthem at the start of their game against the Seahawks.
Across the field, Seahawks team members interlocked their arms in a gesture that they had announced earlier would be a “demonstration of unity.”
In later games, the New England Patriots‘ Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty raised their fists following the anthem, as did Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard and Jason McCourty of theTennessee Titans.
Other individual players — including Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, and Denver Broncos‘ linebacker Brandon Marshall — have at times also followed Kaepernick’s lead in kneeling during the anthem.
Kaepernick has drawn considerable attention for his stance on racial issues and his remarks about the police, sparking a debate among fans and many public officials over the right to protest and the appropriate response to the national anthem.