Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 4th, 2016

Israel Cutting Palestinians Off

From Their Own Water Supply

According to an experienced reporter on Palestine, 50% of the water to a city of 40,000 people has been cut off during Ramadan, a timewhen people need to have access to food and water more than any other time.’

JERUSALEM — Apartheid Israel is limiting access to water in Palestine, a long-standing practice that’s only intensified during the holy month of Ramadan, when access to water becomes even more important than usual.

Cuts in water supply are hitting the Occupied West Bank especially hard, Al-Jazeera reported on June 23.

“Water shortages and cuts have … been reported throughout the northern Jenin and Nablus districts of the West Bank, although Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, the Israeli body in charge of the occupied West Bank, denied water had been cut or reduced at all,” wrote Sheren Khalel. 

Saleh Afaneh, head of water and wastewater for Salfit, a city in the northern part of the West Bank, told Khalel that his community is only receiving 30 to 40 percent of its normal water allowance from Israel.

“On the first day of Ramadan, the water stopped for 24 hours, with no notice,” Afaneh said. “Since then, it has been coming in at less than half the capacity. We’ve done everything we can to try and make residents comfortable, but this is a crisis.”

Marj Henningsen shared a link.

Most Palestinians are Muslim, and during the holy month of Ramadan, they abstain from eating or drinking water from dawn until dusk.

Having access to water for drinking and food preparation during the pre-dawn and post-sunset hours is particularly crucial during the holy month, which makes the blockade especially devastating, reported Ramzy Baroud, editor of The Palestine Chronicle, in a June 17 interview with RT.

“People need to have access to food and water more than any other time because of the Iftar, because of breaking the fast and now they are being denied that access,” Baroud said.

According to Baroud, Jenin, a city of about 40,000 people, also located in the northern part of the West Bank, is down to about 50 percent of its normal water supply.

The issue of access to water in Palestine is an ongoing one, Baroud noted.

“Throughout its history of conflict with the Palestinians, Israel has done so much to ensure that Palestinians don’t have access to water — not only as a form of collective punishment, but to also ensure that the Palestinians do not develop their economy because it is reliant on between 14 to 20 percent on agriculture,” he argued.

Controlling Palestinian agriculture allows Israel to profit from both the water supply itself and the few exports it allows to reach foreign markets.

Not only have human health and agriculture suffered under the blockade, it’s also stunted the region’s traditional flower growing and many other industries.

According to Khalel, the World Health Organization recommends that every person should have access to about 100 liters of water per day for all their needs, from cooking to washing to drinking. Israelis typically receive about 240 to 300 liters per day, while Palestinians, on average, receive just 73 liters per day.

israel water

An additional 180 especially impoverished communities within the “Area C” region of the Gaza Strip are not connected to any running water, and some Palestinians spend as much as one-fifth of their salary on water.

But according to Baroud, that water isn’t Israel’s to sell in the first place.

“The tragedy of all tragedies is that the water that Israelis are holding back from Palestinians is actually Palestinian water,” he told RT.

“So, this is really important to keep in mind. Israel steals the water of the Palestinians from the West Bank aquifers, repackages and sells them the water back and now they are actually cutting them off from the very water they stole from the Palestinians in the first place.”

Watch “How difficult is Ramadan in Palestine?” from PressTV UK:

Blind astronomer found a way to hear the stars

“Science is for everyone. It has to be available to everyone, because we are all natural explorers.”

Wanda Diaz Merced studies the light emitted by gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic events in the universe. When she lost her sight and was left without a way to do her science, she had a revelatory insight:

the light curves she could no longer see could be translated into sound.

Through sonification, she regained mastery over her work, and now she’s advocating for a more inclusive scientific community.

Wanda Diaz Merced. Sonic astrophysicist

While searching for ways to study stellar radiation without relying on sight, Wanda Diaz Merced has developed a way to represent complex data about our universe as sound. Full bio

Once there was a star. Like everything else, she was born; grew to be around 30 times the mass of our sun and lived for a very long time. Exactly how long, people cannot really tell.

Just like everything in life, she reached the end of her regular star days when her heart, the core of her life, exhausted its fuel. But that was no end.

0:39 She transformed into a supernova, and in the process releasing a tremendous amount of energy, outshining the rest of the galaxy and emitting, in one second, the same amount of energy our sun will release in 10 days. And she evolved into another role in our galaxy.

Supernova explosions are very extreme. But the ones that emit gamma rays are even more extreme. In the process of becoming a supernova, the interior of the star collapses under its own weight and it starts rotating ever faster, like an ice skater when pulling their arms in close to their body.

In that way, it starts rotating very fast and it increases, powerfully, its magnetic field. The matter around the star is dragged around, and some energy from that rotation is transferred to that matter and the magnetic field is increased even further. In that way, our star had extra energy to outshine the rest of the galaxy in brightness and gamma ray emission|By Wanda Diaz Merced

My star, the one in my story, became what is known as a magnetar. And just for your information, the magnetic field of a magnetar is 1,000 trillion times the magnetic field of Earth. The most energetic events ever measured by astronomers carry the name gamma-ray bursts because we observe them as bursts most or explosions, most strongly measured as gamma-ray light.

Our star, like the one in our story that became a magnetar, is detected as a gamma-ray burst during the most energetic portion of the explosion. Yet, even though gamma-ray bursts are the strongest events ever measured by astronomers, we cannot see them with our naked eye.

We depend, we rely on other methods in order to study this gamma-ray light. We can only see an itty bitty, tiny portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that we call visible light. And beyond that, we rely on other methods.

as astronomers, we study a wider range of light and we depend on other methods to do that. On the screen, it may look like this. You’re seeing a plot. That is a light curve. It’s a plot of intensity of light over time. It is a gamma-ray light curve.

Sighted astronomers depend on this kind of plot in order to interpret how this light intensity changes over time. On the left, you will be seeing the light intensity without a burst, and on the right, you will be seeing the light intensity with the burst.

Early during my career, I could also see this kind of plot. But then, I lost my sight. I completely lost my sight because of extended illness, and with it, I lost the opportunity to see this plot and the opportunity to do my physics.

It was a very strong transition for me in many ways. And professionally, it left me without a way to do my science. I longed to access and scrutinize this energetic light and figure out the astrophysical cause. I wanted to experience the spacious wonder, the excitement, the joy produced by the detection of such a titanic celestial event.

 I thought long and hard about it, when I suddenly realized that all a light curve is, is a table of numbers converted into a visual plot. So along with my collaborators, we worked really hard and we translated the numbers into sound. I achieved access to the data, and today I’m able to do physics at the level of the best astronomer, using sound. And what people have been able to do, mainly visually, for hundreds of years, now I do it using sound.

Listening to this burst that you’re seeing on the screen brought something to the ear beyond the obvious burst. Now I’m going to play the burst for you. It’s not music, it’s sound.

5:04 (Digital beeping sounds)

This is scientific data converted into sound, and it’s mapped in pitch. The process is called sonification.

So listening to this brought something to the ear besides the obvious burst. When I examine the very strong low-frequency regions, or bass line — I’m zooming into the bass line now. We noted resonances characteristic of electrically charged gasses like the solar wind.

And I want you to hear what I heard. You will hear it as a very fast decrease in volume. And because you’re sighted, I’m giving you a red line indicating what intensity of light is being converted into sound.

5:54 (Digital hum and whistling sound)

The (Whistles) is frogs at home, don’t pay attention to that.

what we found is that the bursts last long enough in order to support wave resonances, which are things caused by exchanges of energy between particles that may have been excited, that depend on the volume.

You may remember that I said that the matter around the star is dragged around? It transmits power with frequency and field distribution determined by the dimensions.

You may remember that we were talking about a super-massive star that became a very strong magnetic field magnetar. If this is the case, then outflows from the exploding star may be associated with this gamma-ray burst.

What does that mean? That star formation may be a very important part of these supernova explosions. Listening to this very gamma-ray burst brought us to the notion that the use of sound as an adjunctive visual display may also support sighted astronomers in the search for more information in the data.

Simultaneously, I worked on analyzing measurements from other telescopes, and my experiments demonstrated that when you use sound as an adjunctive visual display, astronomers can find more information in this now more accessible data set.

This ability to transform data into sound gives astronomy a tremendous power of transformation. And the fact that a field that is so visual may be improved in order to include anyone with interest in understanding what lies in the heavens is a spirit-lifter.

When I lost my sight, I noticed that I didn’t have access to the same amount and quality of information a sighted astronomer had. It was not until we innovated with the sonification process that I regained the hope to be a productive member of the field that I had worked so hard to be part of.

 Yet, information access is not the only area in astronomy where this is important.

The situation is systemic and scientific fields are not keeping up. The body is something changeable — anyone may develop a disability at any point. Let’s think about, for example, scientists that are already at the top of their careers. What happens to them if they develop a disability?

Will they feel excommunicated as I did? Information access empowers us to flourish. It gives us equal opportunities to display our talents and choose what we want to do with our lives, based on interest and not based on potential barriers.

When we give people the opportunity to succeed without limits, that will lead to personal fulfillment and prospering life. And I think that the use of sound in astronomy is helping us to achieve that and to contribute to science. (Can’t the community of scientists find ways to share what they seeing or hearing of data with experienced handicapped scientists?)

While other countries told me that the study of perception techniques in order to study astronomy data is not relevant to astronomy because there are no blind astronomers in the field, South Africa said, “We want people with disabilities to contribute to the field.”

Right now, I’m working at the South African Astronomical Observatory, at the Office of Astronomy for Development. There, we are working on sonification techniques and analysis methods to impact the students of the Athlone School for the Blind.

These students will be learning radio astronomy, and they will be learning the sonification methods in order to study astronomical events like huge ejections of energy from the sun, known as coronal mass ejections.

What we learn with these students — these students have multiple disabilities and coping strategies that will be accommodated — what we learn with these students will directly impact the way things are being done at the professional level. I humbly call this development. And this is happening right now.

10:13 I think that science is for everyone. It belongs to the people, and it has to be available to everyone, because we are all natural explorers.

I think that if we limit people with disabilities from participating in science, we’ll sever our links with history and with society.

I dream of a level scientific playing field, where people encourage respect and respect each other, where people exchange strategies and discover together.

If people with disabilities are allowed into the scientific field, an explosion, a huge titanic burst of knowledge will take place, I am sure.

My Warpy World (2002)

1.   I need to burn off my excess energy,

That stuff I used to have in abundance in my youth.

I burned it bending on desks,

Reading and learning.

About our warped literatures and histories,

Warped theories,

Warped philosophies, of a warped world we created.


2.   I now need to stretch time in my old age.

I don’t want time to fly by:

I am supposed to be scared

Of the imminent end.


No, I have to work double shifts to make ends meet.

I need to work harder to fulfil

Newly discovered dreams.

Fixing a broken school? Lead fearlessly, love hard

On Linda Cliatt-Wayman’s first day as principal at a failing high school in North Philadelphia, she was determined to lay down the law. But she soon realized the job was more complex than she thought.

With palpable passion, she shares the three principles that helped her turn around three schools labeled “low-performing and persistently dangerous.” Her fearless determination to lead — and to love the students, no matter what — is a model for leaders in all fields.

Linda Cliatt-Wayman.  A Philadelphia high school principal with an unwavering belief in the potential of all children. Full bio

Speech on May 2015

It was November 1, 2002, my first day as a principal, but hardly my first day in the school district of Philadelphia.

0:26 I graduated from Philadelphia public schools, and I went on to teach special education for 20 years in a low-income, low-performing school in North Philadelphia, where crime is rampant and deep poverty is among the highest in the nation.

Shortly after I walked into my new school, a huge fight broke out among the girls. After things were quickly under control, I immediately called a meeting in the school’s auditorium to introduce myself as the school’s new principal. 

I walked in angry, a little nervous  but I was determined to set the tone for my new students. I started listing as forcefully as I could my expectations for their behavior and my expectations for what they would learn in school.

When, all of a sudden, a girl way in the back of the auditorium, she stood up and she said, “Miss! Miss!” When our eyes locked, she said, “Why do you keep calling this a school? This is Not a school.”

In one outburst, Ashley had expressed what I felt and never quite was able to articulate about my own experience when I attended a low-performing school in the same neighborhood many years earlier. That school was definitely not a school. 

This fearless principal tells her students: “If nobody told you they loved you today, you remember I do, and I always will.”|By Linda Cliatt-Wayman

Fast forwarding a decade later to 2012, I was entering my third low-performing school as principal.

I was to be Strawberry Mansion’s fourth principal in four years. It was labeled “low-performing and persistently dangerous” due to its low test scores and high number of weapons, drugs, assaults and arrests.

Shortly as I approached the door of my new school and attempted to enter, and found the door locked with chains, I could hear Ashley’s voice in my ears going, “Miss! Miss! This is not a school.” The halls were dim and dark from poor lighting.

There were tons of piles of broken old furniture and desks in the classrooms, and there were thousands of unused materials and resources. This was not a school. As the year progressed, I noticed that the classrooms were nearly empty.

The students were just scared: scared to sit in rows in fear that something would happen; scared because they were often teased in the cafeteria for eating free food. They were scared from all the fighting and all the bullying. This was not a school.

And there were the teachers, who were incredibly afraid for their own safety, so they had low expectations for the students and themselves, and they were totally unaware of their role in the destruction of the school’s culture. This was the most troubling of all.

You see, Ashley was right, and not just about her school. For far too many schools, for kids who live in poverty, their schools are really not schools at all. But this can change.

Let me tell you how it’s being done at Strawberry Mansion High School. Anybody who’s ever worked with me will tell you I am known for my slogans. (Laughter) So today, I am going to use three slogans  that have been paramount in our quest for change.

My first slogan is: if you’re going to lead, lead.

I always believed that what happens in a school and what does not happen in a school is up to the principal. I am the principal, and having that title required me to lead. I was not going to stay in my office, I was not going to delegate my work, and I was not going to be afraid to address anything that was not good for children, whether that made me liked or not.

I am a leader, so I know I cannot do anything alone. So, I assembled a top-notch leadership team who believed in the possibility of all the children, and together, we tackled the small things, like resetting every single locker combination by hand so that every student could have a secure locker.

We decorated every bulletin board in that building with bright, colorful, and positive messages.

We took the chains off the front doors of the school.

We got the light-bulbs replaced, and we cleaned every classroom to its core, recycling every, every textbook that was not needed, and discarded thousands of old materials and furniture. We used two dumpsters per day.

 we tackled the big stuff, like rehauling the entire school budget so that we can re-allocate funds to have more teachers and support staff.

We rebuilt the entire school day schedule from scratch to add a variety of start and end times, remediation, honors courses, extracurricular activities, and counseling, all during the school day. All during the school day.

We created a deployment plan that specified where every single support person and police officer would be every minute of the day, and we monitored at every second of the day, and, our best invention ever, we devised a schoolwide discipline program titled “Non-negotiables.”

It was a behavior system — designed to promote positive behavior at all times.

The results? Strawberry Mansion was removed from the Persistently Dangerous List our first year after being on the Persistently Dangerous List for five consecutive years. Leaders make the impossible possible.

That brings me to my second slogan:  Eliminating excuses at every turn.

When we looked at the data, and we met with the staff, there were many excuses for why Strawberry Mansion was low-performing and persistently dangerous. They said that only 68 percent of the kids come to school on a regular basis, 100 percent of them live in poverty, only one percent of the parents participate, many of the children come from incarceration and single-parent homes, 39 percent of the students have special needs, and the state data revealed that six percent of the students were proficient in algebra, and 10 were proficient in literature.

After they got through telling us all the stories of how awful the conditions and the children were, I looked at them, and I said, “So what. Now what? What are we gonna do about it?”

Eliminating excuses at every turn became my primary responsibility. We addressed every one of those excuses through a mandatory professional development, paving the way for intense focus on teaching and learning.

After many observations, what we determined was that teachers knew what to teach but they did not know how to teach so many children with so many vast abilities.

So, we developed a lesson delivery model for instruction that focused on small group instruction, making it possible for all the students to get their individual needs met in the classroom.

The results? After one year, state data revealed that our scores have grown by 171 percent in Algebra and 107 percent in literature. We have a very long way to go, a very long way to go, but we now approach every obstacle with a “So What. Now What?” attitude.

And that brings me to my third and final slogan.  If nobody told you they loved you today, you remember I do, and I always will.

My students have problems: social, emotional and economic problems you could never imagine. Some of them are parents themselves, and some are completely alone.

If someone asked me my real secret for how I truly keep Strawberry Mansion moving forward, I would have to say that I love my students and I believe in their possibilities unconditionally.

When I look at them, I can only see what they can become, and that is because I am one of them. I grew up poor in North Philadelphia too. I know what it feels like to go to a school that’s not a school.

I know what it feels like to wonder if there’s ever going to be any way out of poverty. But because of my amazing mother, I got the ability to dream despite the poverty that surrounded me.

 if I’m going to push my students toward their dream and their purpose in life, I’ve got to get to know who they are.

So I have to spend time with them, so I manage the lunchroom every day. (Laughter) And while I’m there, I talk to them about deeply personal things, and when it’s their birthday, I sing “Happy Birthday” even though I cannot sing at all.

 I often ask them, “Why do you want me to sing when I cannot sing at all?” And they respond by saying, “Because we like feeling special.”

We hold monthly town hall meetings to listen to their concerns, to find out what is on their minds. They ask us questions like, “Why do we have to follow rules?” “Why are there so many consequences?” “Why can’t we just do what we want to do?” (Laughter)

They ask, and I answer each question honestly, and this exchange in listening helps to clear up any misconceptions. Every moment is a teachable moment.

My reward, my reward for being non-negotiable in my rules and consequences is their earned respect. I insist on it, and because of this, we can accomplish things together. They are clear about my expectations for them, and I repeat those expectations every day over the P.A. system.

I remind them of those core values of focus, tradition, excellence, integrity and perseverance, and I remind them every day how education can truly change their lives. And I end every announcement the same: “If nobody told you they loved you today, you remember I do, and I always will.”

Ashley’s words of “Miss, Miss, this is not a school,” is forever etched in my mind. If we are truly going to make real progress in addressing poverty, then we have to make sure that every school that serves children in poverty is a real school, a school that provides them with knowledge and mental training to navigate the world around them.

15:37 I do not know all the answers, but what I do know is for those of us who are privileged and have the responsibility of leading a school that serves children in poverty, we must truly lead, and when we are faced with unbelievable challenges, we must stop and ask ourselves, “So what. Now what? What are we going to do about it?”

And as we lead, we must never forget that every single one of our students is just a child, often scared by what the world tells them they should be, and no matter what the rest of the world tells them they should be, we should always provide them with hope, our undivided attention, unwavering belief in their potential, consistent expectations, and we must tell them often, if nobody told them they loved them today, remember we do, and we always will.




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