Video of young Lankan girl controlling elephant goes viral

Astonishing footage of a modern-day David vs Goliath confrontation has emerged – with the underdog being a small girl, the Daily Mail reported.In an almost spooky fashion, a child has been filmed walking right up to an approaching elephant on a road and seemingly controlling it by showing it the palm of her hand. And one asked if the youngster’s ‘parents had been arrested yet’ for allowing her to go so close to a wild animal.Another user, bulbadox, came to the conclusion that the elephant is young and may be lost from its herd and feeling vulnerable.He said: ‘They are used to humans moving around. That elephant is young and must have [been] lost from its herd, otherwise it would never be in that situation.’ (Colombo Gazette) The confident little girl keeps her arm outstretched as she walks closer to it, then the elephant flees into the bush.Commenters on YouTube said they were in shock as they watched the child approach the creature and hold out her hand. One person said ‘oh my god, I can’t believe this’. The dramatic scene unfolded in Sri Lanka, with the girl showing absolutely no fear as she walks towards the creature gazing down upon her. Remarkably, the elephant, despite its massive size, appears to be scared of her and backs away as she continues to walk forwards. read more

United Nations begins informal briefings to select next SecretaryGeneral

‹ ›Antonio Guterres was most recently the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He is nominated by the Government of Portugal. Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, makes her opening remarks. UN Photo/Manuel Elias ‹ › Following their sessions, each candidate will have the opportunity to speak with the press. The events can be followed live on UN WebTV. Opening the dialogues, Mr. Lykketoft underscored that as the UN grapples with multiple crises and deals with “fundamental questions regarding its own role and performance,” finding the best candidate to succeed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “absolutely crucial.” “Much of what we are embarking on today is without precedent at the UN,” he stressed. “For the first time in this Organization’s 70-year history, the process for selecting and appointing the next Secretary-General is being genuinely guided by principles of transparency and inclusivity – and the dialogues that we are beginning today are at the very core of this change,” he added. Mr. Lykketoft reiterated that candidates will be given the opportunity to respond to Member States’ interventions at regular intervals, with Member States speaking on behalf of groups given priority. A civil society committee had reviewed all the more than 1,000 questions submitted from 70 countries since 26 February, when the call was opened for civil society to submit questions. The committee had agreed on a shortlist of 30 questions, the General Assembly President said. “The level of interest in these dialogues from the global public and civil society is extraordinary,” he said. Mr. Lykketoft said that for the purpose of transparency and inclusivity, each candidate will be asked to respond to one or two questions from civil society, time permitting. He also plans to post 10 of the top remaining questions on his website after the dialogues, and encouraged each candidate to answer them in writing. Opening remarks by Irina Bokova at the informal dialogue for the position of the next UN Secretary-General. Credit: UNTV Opening remarks by António Guterres at the informal dialogue for the position of the next UN Secretary-General. Credit: UNTV Antonio Guterres, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, makes his opening remarks. UN Photo/Manuel Elias ‹ ›Irina Bokova is currently the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. She is nominated by the Government of Bulgaria. “We are sailing into uncharted waters here,” said Mr. Lykketoft addressing the press ahead of the start of the informal dialogues. Calling the process a “potential game-changing exercise,” he said the informal briefings were part of a “very transparent, very interesting discussion about the future of the United Nations.” Over the course of the next three days, the official candidates – currently eight of them – will answer questions related to promoting sustainable development, how to improve efforts to create peace, how to protect human rights, how to deal with huge humanitarian catastrophes, and how to resolve challenges defined by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the end of the process, Mr. Lykketoft said, expressing his personal view, one single candidate could emerge, making it difficult for the Security Council – which is tasked with making the official selection, as stated in the UN Charter – to choose another candidate.General Assembly President Morgens Lykketoft briefs the reporters. Credit: UN News Centre Defining some of the qualities in who would be the “best person” for the job, Mr. Lykketoft stressed independence, strong moral authority, great political and diplomatic skills, and some experience in being at the head of a huge administration. As part of the informal dialogues, each candidate will have a televised and webcast two-hour timeslot, starting with a short oral presentation. Representatives from Member States will then ask questions, followed by the President of the General Assembly, who will ask a few of the more than 1,000 questions submitted by the general public on social media under the hashtag #UNSGcandidates. The three candidates who will go before the General Assembly today are listed below, in order of appearance. They will present their ‘vision statements,’ which address the challenges and opportunities facing the UN and the next Secretary-General, and answer questions from the audience. Igor Luksic is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration. He is nominated by the Government of Montenegro. Opening remarks by Igor Luksic at the informal dialogue for the position of the next UN Secretary-General. Credit: UNTV Igor Luksic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro makes opening remarks. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas read more

Column Will the State meaningfully combat racism in Ireland

first_imgMONDAY SAW THE publication of the first quarterly findings from the online racism reporting mechanism – iReport.ie. This independent, third party reporting system is coordinated by the European Network Against Racism Ireland (ENAR Ireland) and is supported by over 30 community-based organisations. The report is itself is timely, indeed well overdue, providing as it does some insight into levels and experiences of racism in Ireland.It is well-documented that some of the first victims of austerity at an institutional level in Ireland were those charged with upholding the equality infrastructure, including the Equality Authority, the Irish Human Rights Commission and the National Consultative Commission on Racism and Intolerance (NCCRI).Between 2001 and 2008, the NCCRI collated and published detailed insights into how racism manifested and was lived by people in Ireland, shedding light on these experiences but also filling the lacuna in terms of available data on racism in Ireland. The evisceration of the NCCRI in 2008 heralded the end of these data and the potential for both official and civil actors to form informed policies to challenge racism. Thus, the iReport.ie mechanism not only provides a resource for those who have experienced racism, but the data that are provided can also offer some basis upon which to construct effective anti-racism policies.Reluctance to make official complaintsOne of the central benefits of the iReport.ie mechanism lies in its ability to offer those who have experienced racism an outlet to report their experience in confidence. As Monday’s report acknowledges, those who are targeted with racist behaviour are often reluctant to make an official report of their experience.Reasons for not making a report may include a fear of secondary victimisation; a feeling that there is no point in making a report as nothing will be done; or, more worryingly, people may be reluctant to make a report based on previous interactions with individual members of government agencies that were themselves racist – a point demonstrated in the iReport.ie publication in relation to An Garda Síochána.The report also goes on to document what can only be perceived as unprofessional policing on the part of certain members of An Garda Síochána when approached by those reporting experiences of racism. These fears underscore the fact that the iReport.ie mechanism is an invaluable resource for those who experience racism, providing people a means through which they can document their particular experiences and seek support.The gendered nature of racismThe report details how racism can manifest in Ireland predominated by hostility in the form of verbal abuse but also manifesting as physical assaults. Participants reported being targeted on the basis of their skin colour, ethnicity, religion, or a combination of these characteristics. At times these identity characteristics also intersect with a person’s gender or whether or not they have a disability. The report notes that male participants experience higher levels of physical assault than women, even though there is no difference in terms of exposure to the threat of physical violence between men and women.This raises an interesting point in terms of the gendered nature of racism and also the specificity of different ‘racisms’. Research I conducted with Muslim communities across Ireland revealed that Muslim women experienced specifically anti-Muslim racism at almost twice that of Muslim men. Central to these experiences is the identifiability of Muslim women as Muslim. Indeed, the iReport.ie publication notes the manner in which the wearers of the Muslim veil or hijab were targeted with verbal abuse and discriminatory behaviour on the basis of their religious identity.Importantly, the report also clearly documents and delineates the effect that being the target or the witness of a racist incident can have on the individual and their extended community. Those who made reports referred to feelings of fear, anger, helplessness, and humiliation. This resonates with international research on hate crime which time and again documents the manner in which experiences of racism do not just affect the person who was immediately targeted, but also reverberate throughout their broader community.Anti-racism policy formationThe report concludes by restating its main purpose, that is, to provide an evidentiary base for anti-racism policy formation. Given the lack of reliable data on racism in Ireland, detailed earlier this year in a report by the Integration Centre, there is no doubt that the iReport.ie mechanism provides a bridge to the lacuna in terms of data on racism in Ireland.There are limitations; for example, more could be done to disseminate information about the iReport.ie mechanism throughout the school system. Children are not immune to racism and the effect is arguably more profound. Another criticism is the limited, qualitative data provided; such data were fundamental to the reports provided by the NCCRI. However, it must be noted that the iReport.ie initiative is still in its infancy and these issues may be developed in the future.The data provided by the iReport.ie mechanism have the potential to inform those charged with constructing and implementing policies that could challenge racism. It does not mean however that the Irish State can abrogate itself from its responsibility to effectively collect and analyse data on racism in Ireland. The iReport.ie publication provides an important, albeit brief, snapshot of racism in Ireland.The question remains: will the state go beyond rhetoric to meaningfully engage with civil society to combat racism in Ireland?James Carr works in the Department of Sociology in the University of Limerick; his recently completed doctoral research on anti-Muslim racism in Ireland was funded by a scholarship from the Irish Research Council.Read: Racism reporting website sees reports “flood in”Read: ‘Get out, go home!’: Report details racism on Irish streetslast_img read more