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Step into the ring at an underground fight club

March 16, 2018
Source: The Undefeated

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It’s 10 o’clock on a cold Friday night in an industrial area of the Bronx, New York. A line of people gathers in front of an auto body shop, where a towering bouncer asks for tickets and lets in groups of three at a time to be screened and searched for weapons.

Inside the body shop is an octagonal ring made of crowd control barricades and gym mats. Roughly 200 people have purchased tickets and try to claim a spot with an unobstructed view. The promoter refused to disclose ticket prices. This is the fourth fight night of the Bronx’s newest underground fight club, Rumble in the Bronx.

Each night has been held at a different location, and attendees learn the venue’s address only hours before the fights begin. The third fight night was held inside the trailer of an 18-wheeler and was limited to 60 spectators.

So far, each night has had about 10 bouts. The rules are simple: No kicking, biting or shots below the belt. Sixteen-ounce gloves are provided, but fighters are allowed to bring their own. The fights last three three-minute rounds, and the winners are determined by cheers from the crowd. In the event of a draw, a fourth round is fought. A cut man, an off-duty emergency medical technician, monitors the safety of the fighters and tends to wounds. Under state law, anyone involved with an unlicensed boxing match can be charged with a misdemeanor. Everyone from the promoter to the card girls could be punished with up to a year in jail.

Killa Mike, the founder of Rumble in the Bronx, was once a fighter for another underground group called BX Fight Club. After BX stopped holding fights and he received the blessings of its founders, he created Rumble in the Bronx.

The club is “a place to kill beef and release aggressions,” said Killa Mike. He attempts to arrange fights in which both parties have a dispute and can settle their differences before guns become a part of the equation — all while still being entertaining. Killa Mike is proud of an early match that involved an ex-husband and the new boyfriend. The two men’s problems had escalated to the point of death threats toward each other on social media. The two men walked out of the ring with a mutual respect, he says, and the threats and bickering have ceased.

The current undefeated heavyweight champ of Rumble in the Bronx is a 6-foot-2, 240-plus-pound 21-year-old known as Big Country. All of his fights have been won by TKO or KO, and none reached the third round. After his first win, Killa Mike helped Big Country find a job with him at a construction site. Big Country’s fourth fight was the most important to him because he was fighting to end the beef between his neighborhood and that of his opponent, Big Pun. Their fight, the final one of the night, ended early in the second round as Big Pun was winded and tapped out. By the end of the night, people from both neighborhoods were posing for pictures with Big Country. Asked whether he would ever consider going pro, his response is quick: “I never train. I’m too lazy. When I get home from work, I just want to lay down. I’ve always loved combat sports, but this is only a hobby for me.”

So far, each night has had about 10 bouts. The rules are simple: No kicking, biting or shots below the belt. Sixteen-ounce gloves are provided, but fighters are allowed to bring their own. The fights last three three-minute rounds, and the winners are determined by cheers from the crowd. In the event of a draw, a fourth round is fought. A cut man, an off-duty emergency medical technician, monitors the safety of the fighters and tends to wounds. Under state law, anyone involved with an unlicensed boxing match can be charged with a misdemeanor. Everyone from the promoter to the card girls could be punished with up to a year in jail.

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Rising Afro-Brazilian Politician Marielle Franco Has Died in a Targeted Assassination in Rio

March 16, 2018
Source: Okay Africa

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Rising Afro-Brazilian Politician Marielle Franco Has Died in a Targeted Assassination in Rio The city council member was known for her social work in Brazil's favelas and critiques of the police. Marielle Franco, a popular Afro-Brazilian city council member, was killed alongside her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes by two attackers on a downtown street in Rio de Janeiro last night, The Guardian reports. She was 38 serving her first term in office.

Rio's head of public security, Richard Nunes, says there would be a "full investigation" into the killings, despite the military's takeover of policing in the city last month from the surge in violence. According to Dr. Keisha-Khan Y. Perry on Twitter, Franco participated in a panel discussion entitled, "Black Women Moving Structures," shortly before she was killed. Franco streamed the conversation live on her Facebook page. You can view it here.

Police officials say two men in a car fired nine shots into the car carrying Franco and Gomes. A press officer was shot in the back seat—but survived. Officials believe Franco was targeted. Franco was a proud Afro-Brazilian and an underdog in Rio politics. She won the fifth highest vote count among council members when she was elected in 2016. She was a police violence expert and recently accused officers of being overly aggressive when searching homes in gang-controlled favelas, The Guardian says.

-A member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSOL), Franco was known for her social work in the favelas. Her party called for a march on Friday to protest violence in Rio. Brazil's public security minister, Raul Jungmann, says federal police will help in the investigation of her death. Mourners have gathered on social media to laud her commitment to the community and for her radical activism.

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Spirit I

March 13, 2018

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Your body and spirit knows what’s best. After months of fighting a chaotic struggle I’m starting to feel centered. There are definitely different types of calm. The calm where outwardly your day is fine and you get along with your environment and then there is the sombring calm of depression which keeps you immobile and motionless but recently I have been feeling a tranquil type of calm which has me feeling inwardly satisfied and confident. It is not affected by external factors in the same way as other moods and without doubt has me feeling a centrality with peace. Everything will be alright I feel.

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what could have manifested this feeling. Is it a creature of my mountainous climb of life? My intake of Cacao? Blueberries? Moringa? Less junk food eating? Even if it is not solely my change in diet I feel I’ve transitioned to a better place in my health. One thing I’ve seen affect my week is reducing time spent on my phone, I found myself utilizing it for 37 hours a week and this week I was down to 9.5. This has had a huge change in how my time is utiilised throughout the day and has helped me focus in reading and focus in general. I find myself even being able to do tasks I found mundane and procrastinate on previously. My thought clarity is amazing. I have less chaotic ramblings in my head and less anxiety because of that.

Having plants all around me all the time has elevated my mood and the more they grow the more I grow. Sometimes I feel there is a pseudopsychic connection between me and the greenery in my living space. The positive nature of helping living things live must have a positive affect on the psyche surely.

I feel like my body and spirit have been my guide with the feelings they project. Things seem to be carrying momentum and I can feel taking on greater things and incorporating them into my life. All that is around me is starting to flowingly connect as I naturally put the pieces together.

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No progress for African Americans on homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years

March 06, 2018
Source: Washington Post

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Convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities, the presidential commission issued a 1968 report with a stark conclusion: America was moving toward two societies, “one black, one white — separate and unequal.”

Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified “white racism” as the key cause of “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,” there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute.

In some cases, African Americans are worse off today than they were before the civil rights movement culminated in laws barring housing and voter discrimination, as well as racial segregation.

- 7.5 percent of African Americans were unemployed in 2017, compared with 6.7 percent in 1968 — still roughly twice the white unemployment rate.

- The rate of homeownership, one of the most important ways for working- and middle-class families to build wealth, has remained virtually unchanged for African Americans in the past 50 years. Black homeownership remains just over 40 percent, trailing 30 points behind the rate for whites, who have seen modest gains during that time.

- The share of incarcerated African Americans has nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016 — one of the largest and most depressing developments in the past 50 years, especially for black men, researchers said. African Americans are 6.4 times as likely than whites to be jailed or imprisoned, compared with 5.4 times as likely in 1968.

“We have not seen progress because we still have not addressed the issue of racial inequality in this country,” said John Schmitt, an economist and vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, citing the racial wealth gap and continuing racial discrimination in the labor and housing markets. “One of the key issues is the disadvantages so many African Americans face, right from the very beginning as children.”

The wealth gap between white and black Americans has more than tripled in the past 50 years, according to Federal Reserve data. The typical black family had zero wealth in 1968. Today the median net worth of white families — $171,000 — is 10 times that of black families.

The wealth black families have accumulated is negligible when it comes to the amount of money needed to meet basic needs during retirement, pay for children’s college education, put a down payment on a house, or cope with a job loss or medical crisis, Schmitt said.

The lack of economic progress is especially startling, given that black educational attainment has improved significantly in the past five decades, Schmitt said. African Americans are almost as likely as whites to have completed high school. In 1968, 54 percent of blacks graduated from high school, compared with 75 percent of whites. Today, more than 90 percent of African Americans have a high school diploma, 3.3 percentage points shy of the high school completion rate for whites.

The share of young African Americans with a college degree has more than doubled, to 23 percent, since 1968, although blacks are still half as likely as whites to have completed college.

Yet the hourly wage of a typical black worker grew by just 0.6 percent a year since 1968. African Americans make 82.5 cents of every dollar earned by the typical white worker, the report said. And the typical black household earns 61.6 percent of the annual income of white households, with black college graduates continuing to make less than white college graduates.

Despite the poverty rate dropping from more than a third of black households in 1968 to about a fifth of black households, African Americans are 2½ times as likely to be in poverty than whites.

“We would have expected to see much more of a narrowing of the gap, given the big increase in educational attainment among African Americans,” Schmitt said.

A book, “Healing Our Divided Society,” to be released Tuesday at a D.C. forum, also examines how little progress has been made in the past 50 years.

Housing and schools have become resegregated, “locking too many African Americans into slums and their children into inferior schools.” White supremacists have become emboldened. And there is too much excessive use of force — often deadly — by police, especially against African Americans, notes the book, co-edited by Fred Harris, a former U.S. senator and sole surviving member of the Kerner Commission.

“Whereas the Kerner Commission called for ‘massive and sustained’ investment in economic, employment and education initiatives, over the last 50 years America has pursued ‘massive and sustained’ incarceration framed as ‘law and order,’ ” the book says. “Mass incarceration has become a kind of housing policy for the poor.”

“Whereas the Kerner Commission called for ‘massive and sustained’ investment in economic, employment and education initiatives, over the last 50 years America has pursued ‘massive and sustained’ incarceration framed as ‘law and order,’ ” the book says. “Mass incarceration has become a kind of housing policy for the poor.”

The 1968 Kerner Commission report ended on a note of deja vu, citing a witness who recalled similar analyses, recommendations and, ultimately, inaction following a government investigation nearly 50 years earlier after the 1919 Chicago riot.

“The destruction and the bitterness of racial disorder, the harsh polemics of black revolt and white repression have been seen and heard before in this country,” the report concluded.

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When New Towns Grow Old: The Solitary Seniors of Japan’s Bedroom Communities

March 05, 2018
Source: Nippon

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Dozens of suburban “new towns” sprang up around major metropolises during the period of high growth in Japan to accommodate the influx of workers from outlying areas. Many of the current residents of these bedroom communities—once touted as “dream homes”—are those who first moved in more than half a century ago. They often live alone, as their children have moved out and spouses have passed away. Measures are needed to ease the social seclusion of these solitary seniors.

During Japan’s high-growth years, the government advanced a “new town” development policy to accommodate the rapid influx of workers from rural to urban areas. The 1963 New Housing and Urban Development Act outlined plans for not only new residences but also roads, parks, schools, hospitals, and commercial establishments. Forty-six planned communities were built on hillsides and other suburban areas by municipalities around the country in accordance with this law. Since 1955, some 2,000 bedroom communities—spanning over 16 hectares and with 1,000 or more households (or 3,000-plus residents)—have been developed, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport.

A growing share of residents in these once-dynamic communities are senior citizens living alone. They moved in when the neighborhoods were first built, along with other young, nuclear families of their generation. The children who grew up there attended local schools, but as they entered the workforce and had families of their own, most chose to move out. As their parents have aged, so, too, have the communities in which they still live. An increasing share of these elderly residents live alone, following the death of their spouse.

An Asahi Shimbun survey (published December 3, 2017) of the 46 new towns modeled on the New Housing and Urban Development Act found that 31 communities had higher shares of 65-and-older residents than the national average (which was 26.6%, according to the 2015 census). And 27 had higher shares of single-person elderly households than the average (11.1%); the share exceeded 20% at seven new towns: 37.6% in the Tsurugaya housing complex of Sendai, 25.3% in the Akashi-Maiko community of Kobe, and 24.0% in the Momijidai district of Sapporo.

Elderly, solitary residents of new towns are especially at risk of becoming cut off from society, leading to financial hardships, weaker health, a narrowing of information sources, feelings of estrangement, depression, and even loss of dignity. Measures to prevent the isolation of such residents are a big priority for aging neighborhoods.

New towns were developed based on postwar housing and urban planning principles that sought to maximize privacy for nuclear families. Being social animals, humans need to interact with others; planners, though, gave priority to encouraging conversation within individual families, with little thought being given to interaction between households. As nuclear families aged and children moved out, the insulated units of planned communities provided few channels of communication with neighbors.

When these communities were built, many of the apartments were five-stories high and did not have elevators. For those on the top floor, climbing down and back up again is no easy task. As a consequence, an increasing number of aged residents, particularly those living alone, wind up spending their days holed up in their rooms. Even when living in detached, single-household units, people have tended to venture outside less frequently as they grow older. The hilly terrain of many planned communities presents yet another obstacle to getting out and about.

Modern urban planning is premised on the zoning of districts according to function, and new towns were developed primarily to fulfill a residential function. Since breadwinning fathers were away most of the day working downtown, communities were designed to meet the needs of mothers and their young children and were organized around the school district. Major thoroughfares ran outside the neighborhoods, inside of which instead were parks, community halls, and shops. As children grew up and moved out, though, older residents found very little that catered to their needs; retired men, in particular, had nothing to do and no one with whom to talk, and a large share simply stayed shut up at home.

Can these communities be redesigned to slow or reverse the aging trend? A number of initiatives have already been launched, the first step commonly being to induce younger families to move in to attain a more balanced demographic profile. Housing units have been renovated with modern amenities, and some are offered under house-sharing arrangements to students looking for cheap rent. While these measures will not induce wholesale changes in the age structure, they can at least inject some vigor into a graying landscape.

In addition to inviting youths into the neighborhood, ties among older residents should be strengthened and made mutually supportive. Arrangements have been introduced whereby seniors who are relatively young and healthy look after those who are older and physically weak—taking out their trash, for instance, or changing lightbulbs and helping with their shopping.

Important, too, is increasing opportunities for the elderly—particularly those living alone—to interact with others in the neighborhood, encouraging them to step outside by creating places where they can drop by and have a chat. Rather than narrowing the community’s functions, they should be broadened so as to enable many different uses of the spatial environment.

At one new town, for example, a nonprofit group opened a coffee shop on the first floor of a residential building. Serving coffee and tea at reduced rates, the shop has become a hub for casual conversation among older residents. Other initiatives worth considering include expanding the use of community meeting halls so they host not just formal, scheduled events but also ad hoc gatherings; building benches with roofs along pathways; converting vacant dwellings into salons that anyone can use; and placing tables and chairs in open ground-floor spaces.

New towns once supported Japan’s economic “miracle” by meeting the housing needs of young families migrating to large cities. Now, these communities need to fulfill a broader range of functions for the country’s super-aging society, promoting interaction among older residents and enabling a slower, quieter lifestyle. Preventing the isolation of senior citizens is a challenge faced by not just new towns but also all communities developed far from downtown areas. Such residents often have very little income and cannot afford to move to more convenient locations. Similar problems of isolated seniors may emerge a few decades from now in the high-rise condominiums that have become so popular today—whose market value lies precisely in their sequestration from the surrounding neighborhood and their fortress-like security that guards the privacy of inhabitants. Urban planners must give more thought to mitigating the social seclusion of the growing ranks of Japan’s seniors.

Hirami Yosuke (Originally published in Japanese on February 16, 2018. Banner photo: A farewell party on July 23, 2011, for a building in Tama New Town scheduled to be torn down and rebuilt. © Jiji.)

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The Stunning Rise And Fall Of Nigeria's Floating School

March 01, 2018
Source: Atavist Magazine

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Kunlé Adeyemi hustled across the ballroom in Venice, Italy, with a wide smile on his face. He wore a tailored tunic and pants—classic Nigerian menswear—cut from glossy brown fabric. The staid crowd that had gathered to witness his coronation applauded politely as he beckoned his team to join him on stage. There Adeyemi embraced each member of the jury that had named him the victor and seized his prize: the Silver Lion, awarded to a “promising young participant” in the International Architecture Exhibition, better known among the global design elite as the Venice Biennale.

It was May 2016, and the Biennale’s theme was “reporting from the front.” To curator Alejandro Aravena, “the front” encompassed spaces both literal and figurative. Aravena was the most recent recipient of his field’s top honor, the Pritzker Prize, and he designed buildings that prioritized public interest and social impact. He wanted his Biennale to crack open assumptions about architecture by drawing on the talent, knowledge, and imagination of those bearing witness to the world’s most pressing problems. “We are not interested in architecture as the manifestation of a formal style,” Aravena said before the exhibition, “but rather as an instrument of self-government, of humanist civilization, and as a demonstration of the ability of humans to become masters of their own destinies.”

Adeyemi, at whom Aravena beamed with pride during the award ceremony, was one of the Biennale’s darlings. The 40-year-old Nigerian was given his prize for designing a school in Makoko, one of the largest slums in Lagos. Described by the Silver Lion jury as “at once iconic and pragmatic,” the school was meant to serve poor children whose neighborhood the government wanted to demolish. What made it singular was its location: The school floated on the water that envelops much of the coastal megacity. The structure suggested an alternative to tearing down slums to make way for development, a new approach for elevating instead of erasing the poor. Thanks to Adeyemi’s innovative design, the children of Makoko had a space in which to expand their minds and horizons.

In his acceptance speech, Adeyemi compared his project’s setting to the Biennale’s. “It’s said that the early settlers of Venice were fishermen in the marshy lagoons, not very different from the people of Makoko,” he said. “It’s a great honor to be standing here representing the intelligence of the people of Makoko as well as countless waterfront communities all over the world.” The crowd standing before him could see the Makoko Floating School for themselves: A replica, called MFS II, sat between brick arches and white Istrian columns in the Gaggiandre, a 16th-century Venetian dockyard. Built specifically for the Biennale, the structure included a buoyant platform, on top of which blond wood beams crisscrossed into triangles that formed a classic A-frame.

MFS II projected a sharply modern geometry onto the still surface of the ancient canal. To rapt Biennale participants, it also reflected the far-reaching potential of Adeyemi’s design. Built in ten days by four Italian woodworkers, MFS II had been “adapted for easy prefabrication, rapid assembly, and a wide range of uses,” according to the architect and his team. Inside the replica, Adeyemi hung maps of coastlines from around the world. Pushpins designated construction projects in “water cities,” the coastal metropolises likely to bear some of the most drastic impacts of climate change and rising sea levels. With the floating school, Adeyemi wanted to spark a conversation about how cities like Lagos can adapt to their shifting environments and set examples for sustainable design.

It was a beautiful pitch, and Adeyemi is a gifted orator. When he spoke to reporters, he was articulate and self-assured. Before the Biennale, the school in Makoko had made headlines in The New York Times and The Guardian and been featured in segments on CNN and Al Jazeera. After Adeyemi’s victory in Italy, the accolades continued. On social media, the architect shared an image of his Silver Lion nestled in the grass of a Venetian park and another of a barge tugging MFS II into the Gaggiandre. Congratulatory notes littered the comments of both photos.

Then, suddenly, the praise evaporated. Shock and censure took its place. One week after Adeyemi claimed his statuette, the Makoko Floating School collapsed. All that remained of the structure heralded as a bellwether of change for a slum and its inhabitants was a flattened pile of planks adrift in the waters of a polluted lagoon.

What follows is an account of the school’s stunning rise and fall. Though it deals with the question of who is to blame for what happened, it is ultimately a parable of complicity. It is about the myths that people want to believe about the world, noble intentions sullied by ego or derailed by the mundane, the intractability of parochial politics, and the ethics of social experimentation. It is about gossip and spin, the spectrum between honesty and deceit, and the dilemma of who can speak for whom. It is also about the moral of the empty barrel—the emptier it is, the louder the echo—and bad belle, a Nigerian term for jealousy.

Stories that seem simple aren’t always so. Heroes and villains are rarely pure. In the case of the Makoko Floating School, the truth is shambolic, the characters changeable. >>> Read Atavist Magazine for more

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+ champ

March 01, 2018
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This year we're gonna try something quite different. Helping others is a very important attribute in cultivating a positive self. The amount of issues in the world can at times seem overwhelming. Being tired of feeling helpless I've decided to focus efforts on helping others and help better shape the state of this world. I'm starting to feel that complaining about abject poverty, refugee problems, banks and the military industrial complex is pointless if I don't find myself trying to make change with my own actions. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part but I will ensure I put my heart and soul into this. +champ will go towards helping people in need with 100% of profits going towards particular causes. Please bookmark this page for further updates.

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How Moringa Quickly Becoming the Favorite Superfood of Doomsday Preppers

March 01, 2018
Source: Motherboard

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​Doomsday survivalists have over the years have earned a reputation for stockpiling medical supplies, guns and ammo—essentially gathering whatever resources and expertise necessary for self-sufficiency in the event of the apocalypse. That ethos has now drawn a group of survivalists that call themselves preppers to an unlikely superfood that's just beginning to take hold in North America: moringa.

Moringa Oleifera is an unassuming shrub that grows in hot, dry tropical climates around the globe, and is prized for its high level of nutrients—especially protein. "The biggest reason is because it is a great food source," David Wentworth, who publishes expertprepper.com, explained. "It is very easy to grow, grows quickly, is highly nutritious and every part of the plant can be used as food. Its also great for water purification. Also can be turned into oils, fertilizers and a healing aid."

The preppers also like moringa because it can do the job of several plants, saving both space, and the necessary resources to grow the plant. "Its the swiss army knife of the prepper garden," Wentworth said. They're also fond of other exotic plants such as Chia, because of its similarly useful nutritional content, and more common vegetables such as broccoli. The point is that the veggies provide the most nourishment while using the fewest resources to grow.

I found out about the prepper interest in moringa when I was chatting with Lisa Curtis, founder of Kuli Kuli Foods, at the inaugural Foo​d Bytes Summit in San Francisco. Kuli Kuli makes energy bars, amongst other products that contain moringa, and Curtis explained that the preppers got interested because of the plant's nutritional properties.

"It's so nutritious that you could live off of it," she said. "They were interested in purchasing bulk quantities of moringa powder." A powdered version of moringa is a common way to ingest the plant—think sports drinks, and shakes.

In the US, moringa has been gaining popul​arity for years. It's a long way from being the next Açaí palm berry, massively popular around 2009. But, it's not exotic either. Kuli Kuli's bars are available in 200 grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Curtis said. There are also a handful of other vendors selling the powdered form of the plant online—although it's important to be conscious of the origins and process.

Touting a new dietary supplement is all well and good, but I wanted to get to the bottom of moringa's superfood status. So, I talked things over with Mark Olson, a biologist who conducts research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and has been working with morgina for more than 20 years.

"If you're in the right place [a dry tropical climate], moringa is a great plant to have for your doomsday apocalypse, survivalist toolkit," he said. "It provides many nutrients, among them large quantities of protein and high quality oil. Moringa also contains a family of compounds that boosts mammalian immune systems—which potentially could help more [species]."

Olson oversees what is perhaps the only complete collection of the plant's 13 species in the world. "We wanted to find the best one," he said. They succeeded, and are now trying, through breeding, to maximize the plants' nutritional properties—that's large quantities protein, vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and vitamin C.

Naturally the plant is found all over the equatorial region of the world, anywhere where there's dry land and a tropical climate. "I think its greatest value is in the dryland tropics, where they don't have green leafy vegetables," said Jed Fahey, a nutritional biochemist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "Moringa will likely survive most of the droughts, seasonality and food availability,"

Fahey's research of moringa focuses on the potential medical uses—especially disease prevention. "There are more than 300 different kinds of medical claims about the plant, and they can't all be true. What does look promising are anti-diabetic claims, and there is potential for antibacterial applications as well."

While the preppers' idea to use the plant in their doomsday preparations is an interesting one, Olson believes that the plant's true benefit to humanity will be its ability to help feed poor areas of the world. Because of the plant's drought resilience, and its nutritional properties, it could feed, or help feed many of the world's poorest residents. "Really the exciting thing about it is that it offers the benefits to the poorest people in the world at a low cost, the tropics, and this is where so much of humanity lives, and that's why they call it the miracle tree."

And that's just what the preppers want it for. After civilization's collapse, when what's left of humanity is poor, and hungry, anyone growing moringa will probably have a better chance of staying alive. At least until the zombies show up.

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Tsutaya Book Apartment Opening

March 01, 2018
Source: Superfuture

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managing a sizeable network of bookstores and video rental shops nationwide for over three decades, tsutaya has become a household name in japan. as the average home, and thus private space, is often limited, the japanese venture out relatively often to meet up with friends or to have some quality down time. tsutaya has playfully experimented with its retail formats in the past, redefining the bookstore as a social meeting place, and those familiar with the company's flagship outpost in tokyo's leafy roppongi area – one of the first to feature an in-house starbucks counter – know exactly what we mean. eager to please its savvy client base in the japanese capital, tsutaya continues to innovate and has recently raised the bar with the tsutaya book apartment in bustling shinjuku, a neighbourhood with high volumes of foot traffic.

concepted as a so-called common living space, it's a venue with an expanded social meeting purpose, and as such, it's open 24-hours a day. the hybrid concept effortlessly combines retail and hospitality, and is situated across three floors of a modern mid-rise builing with an expansive glass façade. as said, tsutaya book apartment offers a unique experience and does so by way of a set of relaxation-focused facilities. situated on the fourth floor – right on top of another starbucks coffee parlour, and you're allowed to take your freshly made order upstairs – is a co-working space with plenty of desks, imac computers and ipads, and of course, plenty of books and magazines. one floor up, the first common space unfolds, intended for a mixed crowd of male and female patrons.

concepted as a so-called common living space, it's a venue with an expanded social meeting purpose, and as such, it's open 24-hours a day. the hybrid concept effortlessly combines retail and hospitality, and is situated across three floors of a modern mid-rise builing with an expansive glass façade. as said, tsutaya book apartment offers a unique experience and does so by way of a set of relaxation-focused facilities. situated on the fourth floor – right on top of another starbucks coffee parlour, and you're allowed to take your freshly made order upstairs – is a co-working space with plenty of desks, imac computers and ipads, and of course, plenty of books and magazines. one floor up, the first common space unfolds, intended for a mixed crowd of male and female patrons.

offering regular seats, it also features 32 private booths, and next to lavatories, shower rooms are available to start the day afresh. the aesthetic is dominated by wood while suspended potted plants lend it a subtle feel of the outdoors. the sixth floor is exclusively available to women only, and also features regular seating and private booths, in addition to a shared area equipped with tatami mats for soothing naps, restrooms, and a full-fledged makeup room. with all that relaxation readily available 24/7, you may be in need of a little banter from time to time. well, the sake bar will do the trick. it's tucked away in the building's basement section, featuring a stylish setting with, yes indeed, plenty of books, that make downing japan's prized national drink an even more cultured experience. location: shinjuku minimu building II, 3-26-14 shinjuku [shinjuku].

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Humility and Value

March 01, 2018


vag

Humility is something I have tried to practice for as long as I can remember. Considering the gargantuan size of our cosmos and the infinite distance of time our lives and being are very small. We walk on the back of a giant rock we call home and require the energy and light of a foreign star a million miles away to exist. Fragile bodies compounded of brittle bone and mushy flesh. We come out of our Mother’s womb covered in blood crying with no knowledge of the world. We have to learn to speak and walk before we can even begin to go to any institution of learning. How many of us even survive our birth of infancy?

It’s great to put things in perspective and understand who I am in the universe and not get ahead of myself. However value is just as important as humility as it lets me find joy in my existence. I have recently been reading the amazing manga Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue and what struck me was how much the characters were aware of humility and it’s importance. Another struggle for them mostly was finding how much they valued themselves and how much others valued them. What kind of strength is valued? Does a weak person have the same value as one who is perceived as strong? How valuable is belief in your own path and understanding of yourself?

I only started reading this manga because I picked up The Book Of Five Rings and I can comfortably say I am far more centered today due to the teachings of the author Miyamoto Musashi.

Musashi was a master swordsman from the 17th century who is father to a whole school and style of swordsmanship. He became renowned through stories of his excellent and unique double-bladed swordsmanship and undefeated record of 61 duels. The parallels in his teaching of the arts of war and the struggles of existence are amazing. One thing he stresses in his book is to continuously study, practice and investigate things thoroughly and only as a humble student can one have room for knowledge. The idea is that by reading his writings, one can become a true strategist from ability and tactical skill that Musashi had learned in his lifetime. He argues that strategy and virtue are something that can be earned by knowing the ways of life, the professions around, and perhaps to learn the skills and knowledge of people and the skills of their particular professions.

Even though the manga Vagabond is a loose fictional account based on Musashi’s life it reminded me of how fragile a human being is in both their physical and mental being. Swords continued to slice through flesh and expose fragilities of his unfortunate opponents who cross his way but things such as fear and lack of emotional self-control can cut down an opponent before a battle has even begun. The balance of humility and value of learning and what one has learnt was incredible to see translated in such a gorgeous spread of art. It was coloured with so much empathy for all types of people it made me sit back and reflect on how insignificant my life was in the cosmos of the existence of others. A warrior may have fought and defeated 70 men but did not understand the strength and struggle of a farmer trying to keep his family from starving. Inoue does an amazing job of humbling every single character while giving value to life. Everybody is nobody and somebody and this is undoubtedly our human experience. Isn’t it amazing that we can find value in ourselves yet be humble at the same time?

“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.”

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champ