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Archive for the ‘Personal Empowerment’ Category

‘Home Again’ Finds Reese Witherspoon Trying To Resuscitate The Rom-Com – UPROXX

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Open Road Films

Hallie Meyers-Shyers Home Again is a fascinating banality, the movie equivalent of a staring at a bucolic motel painting until you start to see skeletons in the haystacks. Its a rom-com about an adrift 40-year-old named Alice (Reese Witherspoon) who introduces herself by introducing her dad, a fictitious 70s auteur who made films you dont have to see to have seen: personal sagas about heartbreak and death starring ingenues in bikinis, most of whom he shagged. Alices mom Lillian (a breezy Candice Bergen) was less than half his age when they got married, and not much older when they divorced atypical only in that she got a ring and baby out of the deal.

Pops was away shooting in Mykonos when Alice was born, and hes long-dead before Home Again begins. But his ghost hides in the shadows of Alices sun-dappled life. Hes there in the selfish record executive (Michael Sheen) she married and had two daughters with, one of whom (Lola Flanery) is begging to go on anti-depressants. His statuettes and scripts clutter the Brentwood mansion she flees to when she and her husband, Austen, separate. And most of all, hes there in the way Alice acts like her own back-up singer, halfheartedly trying on vanity careers like a clothing designer and a photographer while waiting for another loud man to seize her mic. So while it might seem off-kilter when she takes home 27-year-old Harry (Pico Alexander), a cocky director who just moved to LA after his short won SXSW, her therapist, if she had one, would say her terrible mate selection is perfectly in-key. (And her best friend, played by Dolly Wells, cant resist noting that all their male friends are also dating millennials.)

Harry is a tall, handsome nothing, a strutting mannequin whose defining quality is skin as smooth and dense as butterscotch candy. He talks in a tranquilizing Hey Girl coo. Before taking Alice to bed, he purrs, Got anything from IKEA I can assemble? But hes no fantasy man; Meyers-Shyer smartly makes him too selfish for that. Instead, she emphasizes his immaturity: the face that looks airbrushed, the ego thats never taken a hit, the heart thats never dealt with any relationship more complicated than a college fling. Occasionally, he gives a grand speech about his passion for film, which to the movies credit, no one takes seriously. Hes also gloweringly jealous of Austen a beat that the movie considers both foolish and endearing, like a kid sulking over a participation trophy while demanding total devotion from his creative partners, aspiring screenwriter George (SNL escapee Jon Rudnitsky) and his own actor-brother Teddy (Nat Wolff.) To anyone whos survived dating 27-year-old, just-moved-to-town, wannabe directors, Harrys more strung up with red flags than Chinese New Years. During the scene where he talks over his own black-and-white film while showing it to Alice in bed, the theater seats in LA will shudder like a 5.6 earthquake.

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'Home Again' Finds Reese Witherspoon Trying To Resuscitate The Rom-Com - UPROXX

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September 7th, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Why the Cambodian government arrested our father in the middle of the night – Washington Post

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By Monovithya Kem and Samathida Kem By Monovithya Kem and Samathida Kem September 7 at 12:58 PM

The Cambodian government has jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha for alleged treason. Here, his daughter Monovithya Kem of the Cambodia National Rescue Party warns that Prime Minister Hun Sen is testing just how authoritarian he can be ahead of elections. (Gillian Brockell,Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)

Monovithya Kem is the deputy director-general of public affairs at the Cambodia National Rescue Party. Samathida Kem is an international economics consultant.

It was 30 minutes past midnight Sept. 2, 2017, when they came for our father, Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha. Dozens of heavily armed policemen converged on his house in Phnom Penh in the darkness. They had no warrant, but they told his guards that they would be destroyed if they didnt open the door. Then the police charged in. They pushed two female housekeepers to the floor, putting guns to their heads and robbing them of their phones and money. Our fathers last words to us over the phone were, Theyre handcuffing me. Then they dragged him away as our mother cried for help.

Everyone in Cambodia has heard stories like this from the 1970s. Our own grandfather was taken from his home by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and never returned. But this is September 2017.

Our fathers dream of democracy was born from the sleepless nights of the Khmer Rouge regime, when a small circle of well-armed men in black robes sold their year zero dogma of destruction to Cambodias youths. The Khmer Rouge nearly succeeded in their mission to erase our history and culture by denying the differences that animate our individual humanity.

Yet despite all the horrors we experienced in the 20th century genocide, war, foreign occupation ordinary Cambodians have clung to the dream of a society in which they can choose their leader and shape their own fates. Tonight, our father dreams that dream from behind bars, accused by Prime Minister Hun Sen of treason for preaching grass-roots democracy. And outside those prison bars a terrified citizenry looks to the outside world to save it once again.

Our father first became involved in politics in the early 1990s, when he was elected as a member of parliament. In the course of his work he came to believe that Cambodians needed to learn more about democracy if they were to participate in it effectively, so he resigned to found the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), a U.S.-funded nonprofit, in 2002.

CCHR was different from other human rights organizations in Cambodia in the sense that not only that it defended human rights and promoted democracy but also effectively encouraged people to defend and demand their own rights within democratic principles. It gave people a platform to voice their opinions through public forums that were broadcast on local radio.

When the first public forum took place the first of its kind since the genocide it was attended by roughly a dozen people. Supporters of the ruling party ridiculed the event, but they underestimated the change that was about to happen. Through years of our fathers tireless traveling to every village in the country, the CCHR forums became popular among rural villagers. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of them showed up at each forum, eager to take hold of the microphone and tell the world what they had kept secret for decades. It was through the CCHR forums that many traumatized Cambodian people first felt the sense of personal pride, empowerment and dignity that comes from having their voices heard, their grievances aired and their views respected.

As soon as the government realized that this was happening, our father became a target. In late 2005, the authorities accused him of defamation for displaying banners with handwritten criticisms of the government by ordinary citizens. He was arrested at his office on New Years Eve. He was released 17 days later.

This time the charge is far more serious. The brutality of his arrest is revealing: His work has become a threat to the ruling party. The government is accusing him of treason based on a video publicly broadcast with his knowledge in 2013. In the video, he explains his willingness to learn from experts from around the world, his effort to effect nonviolent change from the grass roots, and his return to politics to make that happen. The government has produced and distributed a selectively edited version of the video to buttress its claims. Yet what it calls treason is nothing more than an expression of support for grass-roots empowerment and effective opposition in democracy.

Whether they like it or not, Cambodians attitudes towards freedom and democracy have already changed. And the change is here to last. As our father has said, they may detain our bodies, but they may not detain our conscience. Yes, his arrest frightens us. But we will never again be the passive victims the world once saw during the Khmer Rouge regime. The governments crackdowns on the opposition, the media and civil society will not bring the silence it hopes for. Its repression is only contributing to political instability, and that is not in anyones interest.

A politically unstable Cambodia is not good for the world. Those foreign governments who seek favor with the current leadership for political or economic reasons are misguided. It is never a wise policy to ally oneself with a government that is an enemy of the people.

Today we once again call for the international community to take action to reverse the deteriorating political situation in our country. It is too late to save our grandfather and the millions of Cambodians who were murdered and oppressed by the Khmer Rouge. It is not yet too late to help the millions who are craving change now, including my father. But time is running out.

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Why the Cambodian government arrested our father in the middle of the night - Washington Post

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September 7th, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Beware the cult of ‘tech fixing’ it’s why America is eyeing the … – The Conversation UK

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With even Vladimir Putin now warning of global catastrophe from the recent tensions in Korea, we are in arguably the worst period of nuclear brinkmanship since the end of the Cold War. It is partly thanks to a strand of thinking among the American right that a nuclear attack on Pyongyang would succeed where decades of diplomacy has failed.

Welcome to the cult of the technological fix. It is the conviction that social and political problems can be side-stepped by clever engineering. The same logic finds its way into many recent initiatives. It helps explain why Donald Trump continues to pursue a 1,000 mile wall with Mexico as the answer to Americas problem with illegal immigrants, for example.

Technological fixes are nothing new, of course. Controlling the flow of populations with physical obstructions lay behind the medieval Great Wall of China and Hadrians Wall in England in the second century. The layout of 19th century Paris was transformed with broad avenues to prevent mobs from barricading the streets. In the 1880s, streetcar manufacturers experimented with automatic doors to make joyriding impossible.

In the 20th century, technological fixes were packaged and given the name by one tireless promoter, Alvin M Weinberg. Weinberg was a reactor designer during the wartime Manhattan Project, the Allies bid to be first to create an atomic bomb. He went on to become director of a national laboratory exploring applications of nuclear energy.

Imagining a world transformed by nuclear power, Weinberg became convinced that technological innovation was the best way of dealing with any social issue. Well placed to gain the ear of engineering peers and American policymakers, he invented a durable term for this confident new environment: Big Science.

For Weinberg, conventional problem solving through education, law enforcement and moral guidance was slow and ineffective. Convert such issues into technological problems to be solved by engineers, he argued. The Hiroshima bomb had dodged the need for political negotiation, he claimed, stabilising international relations in the process.

In the wall-building stakes, Weinberg was Trumps fellow traveller. He petitioned the Johnson administration to build a wall between North and South Vietnam, though privately admitted shortly after that his scheme was very amateurish. He also promoted the idea of funding air conditioners in slum districts, arguing they would literally cool down tensions during the hot summer months to avoid urban riots.

This too was left on the drawing board, but other less provocative ideas gained traction. He shared road safety campaigner Ralph Naders observation that car seatbelts were more effective than traffic laws or driver education for reducing fatalities. He claimed that intra-uterine contraceptive devices like the coil meant birth control was no longer a desperately complicated social problem. He pushed cigarette filters as an easier way to reduce the harms of smoking than persuading users to quit.

Weinbergs faith in engineers is even more widespread today. His championing of the likes of cigarette filters anticipated the way we value technological fixes for improving individuals particularly their health and well-being.

To address our cultural preoccupation with weight control, for example, why have diet plans or exercise regimes when there are low-calorie sugar substitutes, over-the-counter appetite suppressants, gastric bands and liposuction? And if you eat healthily and exercise anyway, dont worry: there are wearable technologies to monitor, cajole and regiment us further.

When Apple came up with theres an app for that to promote software-based tech fixes, it epitomised Silicon Valleys reinvention of Weinberg dogma as solutionism. Where Weinberg promoted societal benefits, now it had become about personal empowerment for the me generation.

The message is that if youre deficient in willpower, attention and consistency, its okay a consumer engineering fix is only a few clicks away. And the future promises to be still brighter. Say hello to genetic engineering, nootropics and implantable microchips.

Weinbergs agenda also endures at the policy level. To address terrorism, we have locks on cockpit doors, metal detectors, surveillance monitoring, bomb-sniffing devices and body scanners at airports. We seem to prefer such responses to anything so socio-political as negotiation or education.

Environmental concerns are another favourite. Electric motors promise more cars on the road with less air pollution. Oil-digesting microbes promise to clean up oil spills. Plastic packaging that degrades in sunlight could make litter disappear without clean-up campaigns.

Geo-engineering could even deal with climate change overall limiting temperature rise, carbon dioxide levels or both. Life can continue as usual, we are told again and again.

For all this confidence and hubris, we need to pay more heed to the drawbacks. Critics have long argued that technological fixes overlook deeper problems. Weinberg himself conceded they can look like band-aids, but believed they were still worthwhile while a better solution was being sought.

Yet this risks settling for the band-aid. We might become so pleased with electric cars that we stop worrying about the continued proliferation of roads, sedentary lifestyles and social segregation. If Trumps wall reduces illegal immigration, progressive Americans might lose interest in helping Mexico to become prosperous.

An even deeper concern is with placing problem solving in the hands of narrowly trained technical experts. Take the coil, for example: unlike condoms or the pill, where users make a daily choice, intra-uterine devices are a one-off insertion under a doctors authority. The flip-side of relying on engineering cures may be a passive and powerless public.

Weinberg never used the term technocracy, yet he did acknowledge that some technological solutions were incompatible with liberal democracy. Ironically, of course, it is exactly such frustrations that helped usher the current American president into office.

None of this is to say technological fixes are always wrong; more that they can be overly seductive. We need to recognise when they seem too good to be true, and consider them cautiously. That way we can steal back some of that democratic thunder before its too late starting, one would hope, by avoiding nuclear war in Korea.

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Beware the cult of 'tech fixing' it's why America is eyeing the ... - The Conversation UK

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September 7th, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Jaspers Attend Lasallian Women’s Symposium in New Zealand – The Quadrangle

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This summer two female Jaspers traveled over 8,000 miles to uncover what a Lasallian identity meant to them as women.

The 2017 Lasallian Global Womens Symposium (LGWS) took place from July 16 to 19 in Auckland, New Zealand at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and was attended by approximately 120 people. Two of them, senior Alannah Boyle and graduate assistant Jacqueline Martin, were representatives of Manhattan College.

Martin became involved with the Lasallian mission during her time as an undergraduate at Saint Marys College of California. Once Martin later learned of the LGWS, she knew she wanted to attend. Her trip to Auckland was made possible through funding by other Lasallians from various institutions.

I was really surprised at how many different Lasallians whom I had never met before were willing to help sponsor me so I could be a part of this experience, she said.

Boyle, on the other hand, felt that the symposium was relevant to research she was conducting within the Lasallian network regarding womens issues and the Catholic Churchs response to sexual assault and violence. Like Martin, she received funding from numerous sources, including student life and academic offices.

These women from DEMA represent 56 percent of Lasallian membership.Alannah Boyle / Courtesy

Boyle and Martin were two of ten women from the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN) who elected to attend the symposium, along with female students, faculty, and staff from other Lasallian institutions across America. Within the symposium, over one dozen countries were represented.

The symposium sought to address the evolving role of Lasallian women, largely due to their presence in the order. While Lasallian brothers account for just two percent of the orders entire membership, laywomen make up 56 percent, Martin stated.

Lasallian women are critical to the future of the mission, and it would not exist in the capacity that it does without us, Martin said.

Lois Harr, director of campus ministry and social action, believes that women may be able to offer a unique perspective within the mission itself.

I think, as in any realm, we are all better off if everyones gifts and talents are put in service of the world, she said. Everyones experience can help make organizations run well, bring good balance to decision making.

Despite their continued presence in the mission, laywomen are distinctly underrepresented in leadership roles within the Lasallian order. The LGWS seeked to address that issue, as well as provide its attendees with the necessary tools to become effective church leaders.

Boyle (second from right) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Auckland, New Zealad.Alannah Boyle / Courtesy

The LGWS had several goals, among them to recognize the distinct role and identity of women in the mission, especially as catalysts of change and empower Lasallian women to have a confident collective voice, according to the organizations website.

However, the central outcome of the symposium was to create an international Lasallian womens council to address the issues discussed during the meetings.

The priority was to ensure that women are equally represented and heard at every level of Lasallian leadership, said Martin. It was amazing to be a part of this symposium because we all had a hand in crafting what the future of our shared Lasallian mission can become.

The theme of the symposium was Lasallian women as changemakers. Due to their distinct presence in the ministry, laywomen are beginning to be viewed as powerful and unique voices within the realm of Lasallian leadership.

However, some critics of Catholicism might argue that women have traditionally had more subservient roles within the Church. Citing doctrines such as having only men serve in the priesthood and interpreting a pro-life stance as anti-woman, they may believe that women have no opportunities for self-betterment. To Martin, however, religious devotion and personal empowerment are not necessarily on opposite sides of the moral spectrum.

I dont think those two things are mutually exclusive, but it is very difficult territory to navigate because of the patriarchal structures of the Church, she said. I personally identify as both a Catholic and a feminist.

As a Catholic, I dont agree with all parts of the Catholic doctrine. My beliefs and actions are deeply rooted in Catholic Social Thought, which, in my interpretation does not align with some of the official Church positions on specific issues, said Boyle. If you love something, you hold it accountable.

A group picture of the cohort of DENA (District of North America) that was represented.Alannah Boyle / Courtesy

Personal empowerment remains a topic of discussion among Lasallian women. Similar to the beliefs of Boyle and Martin, the LGSW demonstrated that religious devotion and empowerment can go hand in hand, as opposed to representing the opposite sides of a coin.

I think that women have long been overlooked critical players of the faith. We are doing much of the work on the ground, and we should be represented in positions of leadership, Martin said.

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Jaspers Attend Lasallian Women's Symposium in New Zealand - The Quadrangle

Written by simmons

September 7th, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Faith In Recovery 7: How Religious Communities Combat Addiction – World Religion News

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September 7th, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Does Loyalty in the NBA Still Exist? – The Ringer (blog)

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If the NBAs summer of 2017 doesnt underscore that loyalty in sports is pure fiction, then what will? Chris Paul left Los Angeles. Paul George forced his way out of Indiana. The Bulls stunned Jimmy Butler. Gordon Hayward dumped Utah. Kyrie Irving abandoned King LeBron James. The Celtics blindsided Isaiah Thomas. But with players increasingly influential when it comes to their brands, short-term deals, constant speculation, and long-term planning by savvy executives, our ideas about player-to-team loyalty and team-to-player loyalty have been thrown out the window. Everything we think we know about sports tells us that Irving should want to stay in Cleveland, and Boston should want to keep Thomasbut the opposite is true.

Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose and commit myself towhat is best for me, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho wrote in his 2005 novel, The Zahir. That concept of freedom is the operating principle for organizations. But in the rare instances where players are free agents (like Hayward or Durant) or have enough status to control their destiny (like George or Irving), fans often admonish their decisions when they exercise their right to leave. After Thomas was traded, Caron Butler and Ray Allen took to Instagram to call out perceived hypocrisy: When players arent loyal to their teams theres outrage, but theres no similar reaction when, say, a team trades a player who played in a game two days after his sister passed away while recovering from dental surgeries and battling a painful hip injury. Allen would know: He left the Celtics for the Heat in 2012, one month after Miami beat Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals, which earned him a Judas Shuttlesworth nickname. He wrote on Instagram, It is just a business so when the teams do it there should be no difference when the players do it!

The executives and agents Ive chatted with agree; they dont think anything of the choices made by the players and teams this summer. Every team operates pretty much the same way, which is virtually the same way nearly every business on earth operates, said an NBA agent, who requested to be anonymous. Kevin Durants choice to leave the Thunder for the 73-win Warriors birthed the the My Next Chapter meme and a perception that he took the easy way out. Durant went on The Bill Simmons Podcast at the end of August, and had this to say: Guys have been getting traded in their sleep for years. Guys have been getting the shitty end of the stick for years. I mean, some guys have been fucking over organizations, too. Its no loyalty. Its business. Theres money involved.

You can feel however you want to feel if your favorite player gets traded or signs somewhere else. The range of emotions we all feel while watching, rooting, talking, and thinking about our favorite teams is what fuels our love for the game. But as the NBA evolves and grows, there are ways to alter what we expect from teams and players and how we respond to their choices.

One of the common responses to Irvings decision to request a trade from the Cavaliers was, Why would he want to leave LeBron, one of the greatest players ever? Does he not care about winning? Ive read it on Redditand NBA executives Ive texted with have expressed the same sentiment. Irving said during his introductory press conference that his decision was simply about doing what was best for him: going for something bigger than myself and honestly being in an environment thats conducive for my potential. The only way to grow was to escape from LeBron Jamess towering shadow. But LeBron is the one who lay the path for Irving, as well as for the other players who chose their own destinies this summer.

Irving and James were guests on Episode 12 of Richard Jefferson and Channing Fryes Road Trippin With RJ & Channing. On that episode, Irving said, Have you read The Alchemist?Coelhos most famous novelthen asked LeBron to share his takeaways from the book. (Paulo Coelho didnt respond to a request for comment for this story.) LeBron spoke about empowerment, having a vision, and chasing it. Kyrie has effectively done just that, saying in a video message to Cavaliers fans that the moment came and he wanted to take full advantage of it so he could accomplish things that I have dreamt of as a kid.

CP3 also opted for personal empowerment. So did George. So did Hayward. Disloyalty should be the expectation, not the exception. Loyalty is a two-way street where both teams and players are licensed to drive. Ultimately, this is where my mind has changed over the last 10 years or so. Teams stab players in the back all the time. Players do the same. Its reality: The frequency at which it occurs doesn't make it any easier to deal with, but it does mean that there's a level of shock that should be removed from these situations. LeBron could have handled leaving Cleveland for Miami better, but maybe it had to be that way to empower players to make decisions that benefit their lives. Durant mentioned on The Bill Simmons Podcast that its the relationships with the people in the organization that hes still loyal to, not the organization itself. Its hard to be loyal to something that, by its very nature, is ever-changing.

Teams foster the same emotional rhythms in fans that we deal with in life: happiness, angst, disillusionment. But there's a reason why allegiance doesn't usually end when a player is traded or retires: It's all cyclical. Wins and losses, additions and subtractions, all create new opportunities. For sports fans, it might be best to enter into a new relationship with a player knowing the odds are it wont lasteither by the players personal choice or the teams decision.

Front office work requires a certain level of callousness. The Bulls, Celtics, and Rockets reshaped their rosters this offseason with surprising trades. While I dont like the return Chicago got for Butler, it was the right decision to move on. Houston and Boston got considerably better, on paper. You could make the argument that Daryl Morey and Danny Ainge would be lesser general managers had they considered loyalty a good business model.

It was only four short years ago, in the summer of 2013, when Ainge traded two Celtics legends, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, for a bunch of Nets draft picks and replacement-level players. My fiercely loyal Celtics-fan boss didnt like the trade, and neither did a lot of other fans. It wouldve been easy to keep Pierce and let him fade off into the sunset after a year-long farewell tour in a Celtics uniform. Boston took a gamble on the future. No one couldve expected the deal to work out at the level it did. The Nets died. The Celtics ascended. Here we are today.

Bostons long web of trades and signings that started in 2013 culminated last week when Ainge acquired Irving for the 2018 Nets pick, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and, of course, Thomas, who won the hearts of an entire fanbase this past season. Boston fell head over heels for Thomas after he dropped 53 points in the playoffs. I always dream of moments like this, Thomas said after the game. Those are where legends are born. And one day I want to be one of those guys. Thomas meant it, and his love for the fans was not unrequited. But to reach their ultimate goal of winning a championship, the organization had to ignore those fuzzy feelings. The way I imagine it is like this: We were all watching Thomas on one knee, wearing his Brinks truck sandals, ready to propose for a long-term commitment to the team and the city. But Ainge stopped him before he could reach for the ring. It was just a fling all along, nothing more. Ainge dealt Marcus Thornton for Isaiah Thomas, then Thomas for Kyrie Irving. To systematically upgrade assets, you cannot let attachment be an overriding decision-maker.

Ill leave it to your own imaginations to realize how difficult that conversation might have beenfor me and Isaiah, Ainge said after the trade. Isaiah had just an amazing season this year and entertained us allthe whole city of Boston, and everybody fell in love with him. You know, hes such an underdog because of his size and his heart and his spirit in which he plays. It was very challenging to make this decision.

An agent texted me that Danny would trade his son Austin if he had to. I believe it. The Celtics had just won 53 games, earning them the no. 1 seed, and went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Now they have only four returning players: Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier. How many organizations in sports would seriously return only one-quarter of their roster after the season they had? Its so easy to accept the status quo when things are going well. Some owners would love for a nice jog on the playoff treadmill as a six-seed every year. But it was the right choice for Ainge and the Celtics. The team was good and full of overachievers, but it wasnt great like it needed to be for them to achieve their ultimate goal.

Any backlash Boston receives for the choices they made or grief Houston gets for trading away a fan favorite in Patrick Beverley will quickly fade as their reloaded teams surpass the good-but-not-great edition fans fell in love with. Sure, its no guarantee. The failed Lakers superteam still looms. So do the Nets, the spark that put Boston in this position in the first place. But usually when great players join forces, great moments follow.

Still, it can be hard as a fan to fall in love with a team with the realization that no matter how deep that love is, the players who define the team can be cut loose at any moment. But remember what got you here doesnt work against a dominant, paradigm-shifting team like the Warriors. To paraphrase what Morey told ESPN in June, when the juggernaut Warriors present long odds for the rest of the league, you need to up your risk profile and get more aggressive. Drastic measures must be taken. The teams with owners and front offices who allow for that freedom will be the organizations that flourish in this new era of basketball.

Its not easy for players and general managers to make these difficult choices. Oftentimes, they need to cut out the noise. In todays NBA, it seems like no matter how much better a team gets, theres someone who says, They still wont beat the Warriors. Maybe thats true. But teams wont back down. Morey also has expressed that he doesnt believe the Warriors are unbeatable. Other executives Ive chatted with this summer still think the Spurs wouldve made life a living hell for Golden State had Kawhi Leonard stayed healthy for the series.

Ainge expressed similar thoughts in July 2016, days after Durant signed with the Warriors. Listen, they are an outstanding team. And nobody can deny the great talent that they have, Ainge said. But were not going to just lay down and die, Ill tell you that. The Celtics and Rockets have stood their ground. Theyve moved forward as an attempt to transform their teams into worthy nemeses of the juggernaut Warriors. Irving, George, Hayward, and Paul all did the sameLeBron will next summer. Those parties arent worried about what others are saying or how their decisions are perceived; ultimately, its all babble.

After worrying about how the Irving trade with Boston might be judged considering Thomass hip injury, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert might have taken a page out of the Celtics book after moving forward with the decision to accept the trade for Irving. As the Cavs enter a likely post-LeBron era, they need to stick to their forward-thinking plan. Even if it means burning a big LeBron bridge, it could lead to something special down the line. Eventually, maybe the next generation of players will recognize and appreciate it.

Basketball is constantly shifting, and that reality can sometimes be cruel. Jazz fans would find it hard to lose Hayward, as Bulls fans would with Butler. But there are always new fan favorites waiting in the wings. And they, too, will eventually either abandon the team or get forced out. Thats business; thats life.

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Does Loyalty in the NBA Still Exist? - The Ringer (blog)

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September 7th, 2017 at 5:45 pm

On Shakti-goddesses, who were fierce and emancipated – The Hindu – The Hindu

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As a woman in India today, the question that often confronts me is: Is there a way to reconcile tradition and modernity? There perhaps is no conclusive answer to this there are stories that reiterate concepts that control women and their sexuality. We associate tradition with duty, a force that is in opposition to, and often seeks to control and regulate, desire and personal freedom.

Yet, I have to admit that I am surprised by the past. My grandmother, who I loved deeply, sought in her old age to connect me with the rituals and the pujas of her family and the past and I resisted this. It also seemed incongruous to me that my grandmother a woman who loved her lipstick, sported a bob cut, and delighted in wearing chiffon saris with sleeveless blouses a liberated woman, was, as she grew older, deeply immersed in certain traditions.

When she passed away, in honour of her memory a little against my own ideals we donated money for a puja at the temple of her Kuladevata, her family deity, Amba Bhavani. I had resisted hearing about this deity throughout my life, yet after her death, I found myself talking to the priest at the temple and was forced to confront my own prejudices. Amba Bhavani according to this priests description was exactly the sort of of Goddess my fierce and emancipated grandmother would have approved of. She was not merely the sister of Krishna, she was a single Goddess, unmarried, the incarnation of Shakti and incredibly strong.

It strikes me as ironic that a culture that boasts of a rich legend connected to deadly saviour Shakti-Goddesses is also a culture that allows gender inequities.

There is Lalitha Tripurasundari, the Goddess to whom Lalitha Sahasranama is dedicated. She is described in sensual terms, regarded as the embodiment of desire and is married to Kameswara, Siva incarnate as Desire. She fights and triumphs over a demon, Bhandasura a demon who is, literally, called Shame. It is fascinating to consider some of the metaphors that her story can offer us a form of Mahamaya, Lalitha is the one who plays, she is Beauty and Desire and defeats Shame.

But Lalitha Tripurasundari is a Goddess associated with the Tantric tradition, and we shy away from talking about and exploring the thoughts and ideas preserved in it. I was struggling to understand what exactly tantra was, when a scholar explained to me that tantricism involves practices and ideas that advance personal empowerment; that enables the practitioner or student of Tantricism to seek liberation moksha not merely in a spiritual sense, but also in the sense of being controlled and restricted by social convention.

Yet Tantricism is uncomfortable to discuss today with its focus on sex and eroticism; and in this sense suggests that the past, in many ways, was more open-minded than the present we live in. I cannot help wondering if delving deeper into the texts and ideas of Tantricism can give rise to a discussion on Desire that could free us as Lalitha does from Shame.

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On Shakti-goddesses, who were fierce and emancipated - The Hindu - The Hindu

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August 31st, 2017 at 1:42 pm

‘Be not afraid.’ Why the words of John Paul II still resonate – Troy Media

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There are many dark pages in the history of the 20thcentury, notably the tens of millions of deaths cased by Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Caught between the regimes of these cruel dictators was the Poland where Karol Wojtyla came of age.

The leaders of Nazism and Soviet communism tried to convince people that they were part of a great cause. The problem was that neither respected the dignity of individuals.

Wojtyla, however, believed that while we can all work together for a common cause, each of us is not only significant, were sacred beings and were loved.

After Stalinist Russia took control of Poland and much of Eastern Europe after the Second World War, Wojtyla studied and then taught the philosophy that ultimately led to the downfall of communism. The Catholic Church in Poland became the greatest voice in opposing the state and Wojtyla, seen as open to dialogue, rose through the ranks of this institution.

In 1978, Wojtila was named Pope John Paul II. Few outside of Poland knew who he was or what he had accomplished, but he immediately began using his global influence to bring down the Iron Curtain.

His message was quite simple: Be not afraid. He told people that theyre loved and sacred. He told them to embrace their dignity as humans, and to stand together for justice and freedom.

It didnt take long for workers to organize in his native Poland. The Solidarity movement became a powerful force. The government first tried to crush the movement through violence, arrests and intimidation. But with the world watching, their efforts only served to strengthen the resolve of the people. Wojtyla embraced his identity as a Pole and as an Eastern European, and the ideal of freedom spread.

By the end of the 1980s, the Iron Curtain had collapsed and the world was changed forever.

By studying the thoughts of Wojtyla, you see what inspired and motivated the person who led the revolution against a cruel dictatorship without ever speaking of violence.

As with all people who accomplish great things, Wojtyla knew he had a mission. This was expressed in a discussion with a friend while recovering from an assassination attempt in 1981. There is nothing more beautiful than to be a tool in the hands of God, he said.

In 1983, the Pope actually visited the jail cell of the man who tried to kill him and forgave him. There were other attempts on his life but he moved forward without fear. Millions of people took inspiration from him, especially in Eastern Europe, and did the same.

While no leader and no institution is perfect, John Paul II was the right leader for his time. No one but an Eastern European in a position of global leadership could have led a movement to overthrow the powerful communist regime.

Its significant to note the similarities between the peaceful movements that overcame oppressive governments in the 20thcentury and brought about lasting change. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela all had clear visions, and offered messages of personal empowerment, forgiveness, courage, acceptance and love.

No force on earth is more powerful than a movement that embraces these truths. It may take time but triumph is inevitable.

Its important to see beyond todays issues and apply whats worked in the past.The words of John Paul II still ring clearly: Be not afraid.

Troy Media columnist Gerry Chidiac is an award-winning high school teacher specializing in languages, genocide studies and work with at-risk students.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the authors alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

Catholicism, Communism, Fascism, Religion

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'Be not afraid.' Why the words of John Paul II still resonate - Troy Media

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August 31st, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Community empowerment, not walls, will prevent Zika – The Hill (blog)

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Though news about instances of the Zika virus in the U.S. have quieted down since last fall, transmission of the virus hasnt stopped. As recently as late July, Texas officials reported a locally-contracted case of Zika inside the state and scientists announced the troubling finding that rising temperatures could make outbreaks of Zika and similar viruses a more common occurrence.

Circumstances are even more difficult in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. With over 20 inches of rain leaving massive amounts of debris, coinciding with the peak of arboviral transmission in northern Mexico, the potential for mosquito-borne disease outbreaks in southern Texas is heightened for the coming months. In other words, when it comes to figuring out ways to do a better job of tracking, preventing, and responding to mosquito-borne illnesses, were not out of the woods yet.

Unfortunately, we now face a new challenge that makes this task even harder than might have been predicted roughly a year ago: strained political relations between the U.S. and Mexico, whose shared border is crucial ground in the fight to stop Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses, like chikungunya and dengue.

A strong U.S.-Mexico relationship is valuable for commerce, education, and personal lives in the border region and beyond, but its also important for our greater public health and safety.

Health departments from both countries have long exchanged bi-national case information to improve response to infectious diseases. From investigations into cross-border outbreaks of dengue in Texas/ Nuevo Leon and Arizona/Sonora, to programs developing leaders in border-centered public health, partnerships have been established that improve health in the border region. These collaborations help both sidesafter all, insects know no borders, and pathogens spread in both directions.

While many local health departments continue to work well together by pushing politics aside, there are noticeable signs that political strain is nevertheless having an impact on public health efforts.

Despite the added challenges that increased political tensions between the U.S. and Mexico have brought to monitoring and reporting potential Zika outbreaks, community-based technology is surfacing as a promising solution to containing and preventing such occurrences.

For instance, I have started experimenting with the application of this type of strategy. By developing a community-based mobile app that allows users to report symptoms that may be associated with mosquito borne-diseases like Zika, chikungunya and dengue in regions along the U.S.-Mexico border, we may have a greater chance of catching and containing outbreaks before they become widely spread.

Enhancing detection of transmission in the high-risk regions along the U.S.-Mexico border remains as critical as ever.

Potentially infectious mosquitoes are not hampered by our country's political strain and we must not be either. But the reality is that new obstacles have arisen.

Public health officials and researchers in border communities, such as myself, are finding that many Mexican immigrants, especially those living in U.S. border states, are more hesitant to share personal information.

This hesitation limits both the willingness to seek medical care when ill and to share personal health information through a community-based mobile system. Without this information, transmission of viruses such as Zika can go undetected and uncontrolled until a substantial outbreak is underway. While this is certainly an obstacle that needs to be addressed, it is also imperative that we as professionals remain mindful and respectful of communities privacy and comfort levels.

It goes without saying that in order for community-based solutions to be successful in aiding public health efforts, that community participation is essential. That is why we must rebuild and repair trust within border communities and work through trusted networks and organizations if we are to succeed in our efforts to empower communities to help stop the spread of Zika.

Once we secure community trust and buy-in, the optimal scenario for community-based technology would look something like this: if a cluster of suspiciously Zika-like symptoms are reported, local health departments would be notified and from there conduct enhanced surveillance of a region to test for a possible outbreak.

In the event of positive results, they would be able to immediately notify the community through a press release and other public health announcements so that community members can take the necessary precautions.

These types of innovations would ideally be taking part as other important steps are being made in parallel. Such as: enhancing policies surrounding the transparency of public data, which would allow communities more notice in responding to an outbreak.

In order to catch outbreaks in the early stages, public health departments must also be empowered and equipped to take proactive measures when it comes to public safety. They should not be forced, by a lack of resources, to take a more reactive approach.

Obtaining the necessary funding requires buy-in at more than just the federal level it is also critical to get buy-in at the state and local level. By having the necessary resources and infrastructure already in place to handle these types of potential public health outbreaks, we can make a substantial difference in saving lives and money in the long run.

For now, however, the biggest focus should be on rebuilding trust within communities in the U.S. that are most likely to be affected by a Zika outbreak, and potentially most helpful in helping to contain it.

Policies, technological innovations, and public health efforts all have important roles to play and we need to be doing everything we can to curtail the public health threat that does, indeed, still exist.

Kacey C. Ernst, PhD, MPH,is an Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director at the University of Arizonas Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and a 2017 AAAS Leshner Fellow for Public Engagement. Her primary projects examine the environmental determinants of vector-borne disease transmission and control. She and a team recently developed the Kidenga app.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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August 31st, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Youth Empowerment: Punjab leads the way – Daily Times

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Youth empowerment is imperative not only for national development but also for personal development of an individual. According to the recently released census data, our population comprises 60 percent of the youth. This is both a threat and an opportunity. If this raw talent's energy is not channelised, well then we have a real challenge at hand as it might act as a time bomb for our country. However, by channelising the energy and raw talent of the youth in the right direction, we can prepare them for a productive role aimed at shaping the future of the nation.

History has shown that under the dynamic leadership of the Quaid-e-Azam, the youth played an instrumental role in bringing Pakistan into being. The Quaid-e-Azam considered the youth as nation builders of tomorrow. He strongly believed in equipping the youth with discipline, education and training for the arduous tasks lying ahead of them.

Today, the youth of Pakistan is facing various social, political and economic changes. If we review our past policies, we would notice the palpable lack of concrete youth targeted policies. These policies have lacked consistency, coherence and a broader perspective. Given the present scenario of our country in terms of youth bulge, the slogan of youth empowerment has taken the centre-stage. However, the best way to empower our youth is through provision of greater educational and economic opportunities.

Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF) is South Asia's largest scholarship programme. The basic purpose behind the programme is to provide scholarships to the deserving but talented students who aren't able to pursue higher education due to financial constraints. The scholarships of worth Rs. 12 billion have been awarded so far. Under the umbrella of PEEF, Shahbaz Sharif Merit Scholarship (SSMS) is a revolutionary step of the Punjab government, which enables the youth to study in the top ranked educational institutions of the world by funding their whole expenditure. PEEF is a story of dedication and vision in the service of the youth that is changing lives and help realise dreams.

In the middle of difficulty lies an opportunity and educational scholarship is a gateway to opening of new avenues of socio-economic mobility and growth. The launch of Chinese and Turkish Language Scholarship programs by the Punjab government is a step in the right direction.

I believe that these Language Scholarship Programs are very productive exercise with far-reaching results. Besides being time-tested and sincere friends of Pakistan, both China and Turkey are our trusted development partners. Given the increasing footprint of the Chinese and Turkish investment and trade in Punjab and Pakistan, the language courses being funded by Punjab will help our students acquire expertise and understanding that will help facilitate interaction between our two countries. In addition to further strengthening our bilateral relations with these countries, the scholarship programs will open up more avenues for our youth in terms of better career prospects.

Skill development has created a huge space for generation of employment in today's world. The idea of earning millions by bringing fresh prospective and out of box thinking on the table is very encouraging and unique. One cannot only create job for oneself but also create livelihood opportunities for others. Unfortunately we as a nation are lagging behind in developing skills of our youth. But the recent keen interest of government in this field is laudable.

On the directions of the Chief Minister, TEVTA is engaged in imparting skills to two million youths of Punjab by the end of 2018. The project of Punjab Tianjin Technical University has been envisaged and definitely, Chinese expertise would be useful for the Punjab government. The students of Punjab Tianjin Technical University will get same facilities and latest technical education which is being provided in Tianjin University. The students of this university would get dual degrees.

Chief Minister Punjabs E-Rozgar Scheme, and Interest-free loan scheme are some other initiatives taken by Punjab to empower youth. It is a high time we utilised our resources to train our students in terms of technical, human resource and skill development. We need to create backward and forward linkages between industry and academia. Instead of preparing generalists, we should focus on producing qualified human resource keeping in view the indigenous and foreign demands. The construction of CPEC projects across the country has thrown open a huge demand for skilled labour and it is now on us how we convert this challenge into an opportunity.

The Chinese model of converting youth bulge into a demographic dividend needs to be emulated in our efforts to empower our youth. There is no denying the fact that our youth is talented and hard working. They have the overwhelming desire to realize their potential into an asset for the nation-building, provided the state can enable and equip them necessary tools. It is heartening to note that there is a discernible realization of giving our youth the conducive environment for development.

While the Punjab government has launched much needed initiatives, it is important that sustainable youth empowerment policies at the national level are worked out after consultation with all stakeholders particularly the youth bodies. We have to make our youth agent of change through investment in their future.

Published inDaily Times, August 31st 2017.

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Youth Empowerment: Punjab leads the way - Daily Times

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