THIS DAY IN HISTORY FEBRUARY 20


Encyclopædia Britannica

FEATURED EVENT

Glenn, John H., Jr.

1962 – John Glenn’s orbit of Earth John H. Glenn, Jr., the oldest of seven astronauts selected by NASA for Project Mercury spaceflight training (and later a U.S. senator), became on this day in 1962 the first American to orbit Earth, doing so three times.

The Mir space station in orbit, at an early stage of assembly in the late 1980s. From left to right are the Mir core module (launched in 1986), the Kvant astrophysics module (1987), and a docked Soyuz TM craft.

1986 – The Soviet Union launched the core module of the space station Mir.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

1872 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City opened to the public, and it later became one of the foremost museums in the world.

Luanda Leaks: How collaboration helped connect the dots


February 18, 2020 Reporting by Priyanka Boghani Angola’s capital city, Luanda. i Bruno Fonseca / ICIJAngola's capital city, Luanda

BEHIND THE SCENES

The Luanda Leaks investigation revealed how Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman and daughter of the former Angolan president, made her fortune. But how did the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists come into the 700,000 leaked files that helped tell the story – and how did the collaboration of 36 media partners from around the world come together?

United States-based media partner PBS Frontline interviewed ICIJ’s project manager Fergus Shiel, about how ICIJ made sense of hundreds of thousands of documents, built a reporting collaboration and continues its mission to “shine a light in dark places, to uncover broken systems.” U.S.-based readers can watch Frontline’s Luanda Leaks documentary here.

This interview was originally published by PBS Frontline and has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Can you talk about how ICIJ came to possess the Luanda Leaks?

The investigation is largely based on more than 715,000 documents that provide a window into the inner workings of dos Santos’ companies. An organization called PPLAAF, the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa… obtained the files from a whistleblower and shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. That’s how we received them. WANT TO KNOW WHEN WE PUBLISH? Help us change the world. Get our stories by email.

How do you even begin to make sense of so many documents and start connecting the dots to find the larger story?

The first thing is to look at what we have, and so the documents include confidential emails, contracts, spreadsheets, ledgers, audits, incorporation papers, organizational charts, lists of clients with overdue payments for jewels, board of directors meeting minutes and videos, bank loan and other loan agreements. …[E]ssentially, they’re business documents.

What we do as a first step is we gather them, and then we index and share them all in a confidential database, which is called Datashare. And then we make those documents accessible across the world. That first step is really critical, making sense of what we have. In this instance, we shared them with more than 120 journalists from 36 other media organizations, and we used a second invitation-only platform to discuss and dissect them.

We don’t rely simply on the documents, obviously. In this instance, as with others, we do a whole lot of work around them. In this case, ICIJ and its partners — including FRONTLINE — traveled to Angola, interviewed dozens of people, including former dos Santos employees and financial experts. We received additional documents, not simply the trove that PPLAAF gave us, but along the way we acquired more, including invoices from the Angolan state oil production company, Sonangol and also internal documents from Angolan state’s diamond company, which is called Sodiam.

How did the ICIJ and its reporting partners approach the Angolan government?

To begin with, the Angolan authorities were very wary of ICIJ and its partners, so much so that it was even difficult for some reporters to travel to Angola. For several months, we didn’t know if anyone would be let in. Eventually we were let in. And then, over many months, we built contacts in Luanda that ultimately yielded information that has proven critical to underpinning some of our key findings. But it was a really painstaking, difficult process where there was a large degree of mistrust on behalf of the Angolan government, which we worked to overcome.

How does this fit in with the ICIJ’s broader work — especially the ones everyone’s heard of: the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers?

The famous American reporter Walter Lippmann said a hundred years ago, “There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the information by which to detect lies.” ICIJ’s mission essentially is to shine a light in dark places, to uncover broken systems, and to do so with the most rigorous standards of evidence. Our intent is to toss aside preconceptions, to set our sights on conducting an impartial and thorough investigation of the facts as is humanly possible. Luanda Leaks falls squarely within our mission.

Above everything, what the Panama and Paradise Papers taught us was that meticulous, thorough, brave investigation could best be achieved in collaboration with others. As you mentioned the Panama Papers, that was something like more than 11 million documents. And in this case, Luanda Leaks, 715,000, which is no mean number. So we use collaboration as an antidote to complexity, an antidote to timidity, because it takes a certain amount of bravery to take on so many documents, and it also takes a special amount of bravery to take on some of the most wealthy and powerful people in the world. We find that individually we may not be brave, but collectively we can be.

And it’s also an antidote to the confusion of many languages — because by harnessing reporters around the world we overcome problems of how to speak Portuguese, for instance — and many legal systems, and to the tyranny of distance when covering stories.

Getting at the truth is hard. Being heard even if you do get at it, is harder still. Collaboration is ICIJ’s recipe for both of those. Recommended reading

What sort of lessons did ICIJ learn with working on the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers and all the other investigations that you’ve done that you were able to bring to this one?

Each investigation is unique… but the foundation to all of them is the same. It goes back to the model we’ve built from the Panama Papers and on, which is radical sharing. We invite those whose trust we’ve built through previous, often smaller, collaborations, to join us again and we also try to harness the expertise of people around the world. And then we do what very few others do — we share with them all our secrets, and we tell them, “Here’s what we’ve got, make of it what you will.” And we help them to do the best stories that they can, not just our stories but their stories. We invest as much in their stories as we do in ours.

Our approach is transnational, and multilingual, totally transparent and generous to a fault in sharing credit. Our aim is not to take the credit for ourselves, our aim is for the story to be as good as it can be. …[H]aving a reporter in Angola looking at an Angolan story makes sense, having a reporter in France looking at a French story makes sense, having a reporter in Portugal, who can speak Portuguese, the language that is used in Angola, makes sense because it bypasses so many complexities. On top of that, we also encourage reporters to gather around themes that interest them because we find that enthusiasm is a great lubricant when it comes to investigations. If people are genuinely enthused about what they’re looking at, then they do more work and better work.

There are only two rules — we agree to share, and we publish on the same day.

Could you talk about how ICIJ works on these massive collaborative projects – what’s the process through which you find reporting partners, how does the reporting process go?

When we received the documents, the critical breakthrough for me was when I rang Micael Pereira from Expresso, which is a Lisbon paper. I said to him, “Would you be interested in an investigation into Isabel dos Santos and Angola?” And he immediately, and without hesitation, said, “Yes, because this is what we should be doing. This is the most important thing I can do. This is a really important story for Africa. This is a really important story for some of the poorest people on the planet.” If Micael had not come on, we would have been in real trouble, because we needed — as a vanguard if you like — somebody who knew Angola and somebody who spoke Portuguese.

Then what we were able to do is go back to the secrecy jurisdictions and say, “Okay, the dos Santos empire has many companies in Malta.” So then we rang the [Times of Malta’s] Jacob Borg who we’d worked with before and asked, “Jacob, would you be interested?” And he said yes. …And that’s how we built it. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. We begin with one key piece and then we build the puzzle out in terms of reporting strength. And as we build, we try to make sure that we build into the team people that know about specific areas. We build expertise. We build geographical spread. And we build using people that we trust and we’ve worked with before.

Know your online ‘triggers’…


Life as it happens to be

One of the things I realise that I love about Word Press, and this ‘blog life’ is that I very rarely feel any kind of fear or anxiety when logging in. And because a lot of online fear and anxiety is caused by unkind words of other people, I’d like to commend each and every one of you for your positive influence on the internet. I have never encountered another blogger who has tried to cut someone else down or cause harm or offence. We all have this open platform to share, and I can with real gratitude say that I am part of a community of bloggers who are encouraging, inspiring, motivated, helpful, understanding and positive. Whether or not you or I feel good, we seek to use our blogs as platforms for something good, wholesome, creative, informative and expressive. What a blessing and privilege to be part of…

View original post 898 more words

Major Islamic Conference on Reform Upholds Radicalism


Largely unknown to and unreported in the West, a large, two-day conference was recently hosted by Al Azhar University in Egypt and attendant by the leading clerics and politicians from 46 nations on January 27-28.  Titled, “Renewal in Islamic Thought,” it is currently the most significant response to Egyptian President Sisi’s calls for reform, which …

Source: Major Islamic Conference on Reform Upholds Radicalism

What all goes into making Trump’s India visit safe


ET Online|20 Feb 2020

Four C-17 Globemaster Hercules plane

1/9

Four C-17 Globemaster Hercules plane

Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India US’ first transport plane C-17 Globemaster plane arrived in India carrying security equipment including a security car, sniper units, fire safety equipment, spy cameras, etc. Four more such planes are expected to arrive at the Ahmedabad airport by Saturday. From air to ground here is a brief list of what all is used to protect US President–the most powerful person in the world.

Air Force One

2/9

Air Force One

It is a customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft. It is capable of refueling midair and has an unlimited range. The onboard electronics are protected against any electromagnetic pulse and is equipped with advanced secure communications gears, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command center in the event of an attack. It has three levels, including an extensive suite for the President that features a large office, lavatory, and conference room. It also has a medical suite with an operating room, and a doctor permanently on board. The plane’s two food preparation galleys can feed 100 people at a time.Reuters

Seven aircraft of the US Air Force

3/9

Seven aircraft of the US Air Force

Several cargo planes typically fly ahead of Air Force One to provide the President with services needed in remote locations.Getty Images

Marine One choppers

4/9

Marine One choppers

It is a specialty built Sikorsky helicopter. The 14-seater helicopter can cruise at over 150 mph and can continue flying even if one of its three engines fail. It has ballistic armor, missile warning systems, and is also equipped with secure communication lines. Similar to the identical decoy that flies alongside Air Force one, a decoy Marine One Chopper always accompany the helicopter.AP

Subscribe to: Slideshow Newsletter

Get your daily dose of news with striking images from India and around the world

Sample Newsletter

US president cavalcade

5/9

US president cavalcade

2 Cadillac One: Limousine (The Beast) in which one is decoy carGetty Images

Chevrolet Suburban

6/9

Chevrolet Suburban

Usually driven immediately following the President’s car. It carries the secret service, close protection agents. (Representative Image) Shutterstock.com

Roadrunner

7/9

Roadrunner

A modified SUV having a large range of satellite communications equipment. It keeps the President and White House officials securely connected through encrypted voice, internet, and video communications. It has vertical antennas and special domes that can jam any communication or remote detonating devices. It can also detect projectiles or unmanned air vehicles.ANI

Support vehicles

8/9

Support vehicles

They carry doctors, members of the cabinet, a top military aid and their security detail and additional security men. A defence equipment truck that also acts as a storage vehicle. It carries detect and respond to any sort of attack — nuclear, chemical or biological.Getty Images

Trump's security during India visit

9/9

Trump’s security during India visit

While the US Secret Service would be handling the innermost layer of security of the US President, India’s National Security Guard (NSG) will maintain the second layer and the elite state commando force Chetak will coordinate with the NSG to ensure foolproof security. Police officials said that a total of 10,000 cops would be deployed in Ahmedabad on February 24. Additionally, 10 companies of the State Reserve Police (SRP) and two companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) have also been requisitioned and will be stationed in the city. (Representative Image)

1 Corinthians 14:36-40


Arlin Sorensen's Thoughts on Scripture

In 1 Corinthians 14:36-40 Paul wraps up this chapter primarily focused on spiritual gifts and how they are demonstrated in the church. As he wraps up this chapter he begins to lay down the law for the Corinthians. “Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?” Paul wonders if some of the Corinthian Christians want to contend with him on these topics. If so, he will have none of it. The word of God did not come from the Corinthian Christians; it came to them from Paul. They need to sit and listen and be teachable instead of contending with the apostle Paul.

Paul heads the church off about his authority as an Apostle. “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you…

View original post 341 more words

God Blesses Holiness, Not Pastoral Talent | Crossway Articles


Truth2Freedom's Blog

If you’re not cleansed from the things that corrupt your life, you’re not a vessel fit for the Master’s use.

February 19, 2020by:John MacArthur

Constantly Turn from Sin

It’s a very simple thing to go down the path of sanctification. Through prayer, cry out to the Lord, confess your sins, repent of your sins, and turn from your sins so that you’re constantly cleansing your heart in an honest way. That goes back to what Paul said to Timothy,If A man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel fit for the master’s use.(2 Tim. 2)

That says it all. If you’re not cleansed from the things that corrupt your life, you’re not a vessel fit for the Master’s use. You may be able to get a crowd, you may be able to entertain some people and keep their attention, but it’s not great…

View original post 291 more words

In the Shadows of Men: Marriage


Posted by nadiaharhash

MARRIAGE

Since my divorce, I’ve studied and considered marriage carefully. It cannot be dismantled. No wonder marriage is described as an unbreakable charter. How can divorce be allowed to disassemble such an institution, when a nation of people, despite their many differences, has united around the singular idea that a full life must and should include marriage?

After my divorce, I fully trusted that the worst in my life had passed. I left behind the money and the glory and ran out with my children. I can work, I told myself. I am the one who built an empire with my husband. Why can’t I build another on my own? All I wanted was to lay my head on a pillow at the end of the day without someone else’s breath suppressing my own. To be able to wake up when I wanted to wake up. To get up and work or not work or do whatever I pleased. I wanted to breathe freely. I wanted to breathe without someone watching over every single breath.

Was that too much to ask?

For a time, it seemed impossible.

By getting a divorce, I challenged the very essence of a society in which marriage at its best was a marriage like mine. Women conspired against me, even my mother and my sisters. My husband was backed by an army of men dedicated to serving him and distorting me. They formed an entourage that surrounded him and stood by to help him and his family. Then there was me and my children… and God, perhaps. Or maybe He was busy protecting me on the multiple fronts that stretched beyond the horizon.

Each time I inhaled the air of freedom, I found myself besieged. I felt like a cat trying to protect her newborn kittens from encroaching and hungry felines. I forgot myself. I even forgot why I wanted a divorce in the first place—there were so many calamities coming from all directions. The moment I lifted my head, a new calamity appeared, as if the planets had united against me, as if the universe decided to oppose me, as if I were walking against a current each step of the way.

I raised my hands as an invocation to God, seeking sanctuary through my prayers. I started visiting graveyards in search of serenity. I wanted to sit with my grandfather. I wanted to talk to him, to cry on his knees. How I yearned to be consoled in his arms, to feel a kind hand expressing compassion for me. But the graveyard was dreary and fierce and filled with thorns.

There were more family members laid to rest there—more than I even realized—and the cemetery was crowded with the dead. I tried to clear the place of thorns, but they were too thick. The fierce loneliness of the place befuddled me, and I rushed to leave. I was astonished by how overrun the graveyard had become. The graveyards of Jerusalem are much like the city itself, with everyone scrambling for an eternal presence.

I left the graveyard adjacent to Lion’s Gate. I like this place for the way it gathers together the dead who were divided in life— Muslims, Christians, and Jews laid to rest on those different plateaus of the Jerusalem mountains. Our Islamic cemetery on both sides of the entrance to the plateau embraces Lion’s Gate, passes all the way through Via Dolorosa, and takes you from all directions to the Dome of the Rock. Our deaths embrace al-Aqsa from that direction.

The Jews look down from the opposite plateau, and Christians with their Gethsemane Church oversee the location. It creates a strange harmony that doesn’t otherwise exist in this city of collision. I wanted to get closer to God by praying at al-Aqsa. After all, a prayer there is like five hundred regular prayers elsewhere. I don’t actually like al-Aqsa much. It is a modest mosque. I don’t know why I always thought it was for men only. I like the Dome of the Rock more. It is pleasant, with a glorified beauty. There is much about it to observe and admire—its impressive artwork and architecture. It sits amid the courtyards like a beautiful bride that never ages. It only grows more beautiful with time. And maybe, the Dome of the Rock brings back warm memories from childhood.

When I accompanied my grandmother to Friday prayers as a child, other children would gather around me while I led the prayer like an imam. I recited prayers in such an impressive way that women and girls, and even my grandmother, would listen with pride. How I loved those days of my childhood. And how I feel transported back there when I’m within the stones of this ancient city. I don’t understand the charm of this place, and I don’t know if Jerusalem is a beautiful city. I often ask myself why so much fighting takes place here. It is definitely not among the most beautiful cities. Jerusalem is a way station for great civilizations. Its ancient stones affirm its origins. They tell of an emperor who brought with him a stone from his civilization and laid it in Jerusalem. It is a splendid place, however, with the various civilizations that passed through it and blew across it. It has a strange but real charm. It touches me the moment I enter any of its gates. The city is filled with the scent of history and contains a wondrous serenity despite the pollution in the air. It makes me feel warm and contained, despite the harshness of the surroundings and the eyes of the people.

I entered the mosque beseeching, dreaming, crying, complaining. I pretended to forget what was taking place around me—women sitting on the side of the room eating nuts and chatting. In another area, a gathering of women around a man discussing a fatwa or a religious issue that concerned them, perhaps. Children ran and played between other clusters of praying women. It was not yet prayer time. As if everybody were in that time between prayer—talking, entertaining, and gossiping.

I found a spot in a corner and was about to pray when a woman rushed towards me with a surprising attitude that befuddled me. “Some of your hair is showing from beneath your head cover,” she said. I was confused, and I started thinking of my hair, concentrating on what could be seen by others in the mosque more than on the prayer itself. But I wanted to find that certain place within where I could connect with God in His own house. So I ignored the thought of my hair. But no sooner had I bowed down with my head to the carpet than I sprang back up. The smell of the carpet was mixed with the smell of feet. I should have brought my own prayer rug, I told myself.

The odor was very strong, and I could not tolerate it. Sometimes I hate this aspect of myself. All of my senses are weak, except for my sense of smell. It is far stronger than my senses of hearing or sight. How can Islam be a religion of cleanliness? How can people wash five times a day for prayer (wudu) and their bodies still remain unclean? How can a person separate the cleanliness of his body from odors, from sweat in his unwashed clothes? Cleanliness is a part of faith. Why does our faith lack cleanliness? Ablution is mentioned in the Quran many more times than prayer. Don’t Muslims realize that ablution is a very clear demand for cleanliness?

I insisted on using the moment to become closer to God. I silently cried out to Him, begging Him, calling Him to save me. But the place was filled with children’s voices and women’s gossiping murmurs and the stinking odor in the air.

That was the last time I went to the mosque in search of God.

God must have been somewhere outside His own house. He must have left it to the masses over many generations.

I went back home. I don’t know how much time passed—days, months, or maybe years before that moment arrived. I was praying at night, crying and begging to God. At that moment, I was trying to demonstrate my submission so that God might hear me in the heavens and have some mercy on me. I had lowered my head to the ground in prayer, but then felt something pulling me up, as if God were trying to speak to me without uttering a word.