ST. KOLLIE TOWN (SKT) was the gateway to the central Liberian town of Gbarnga, the headquarters of the rebel movement. Here, barely four hours since their vehicle left the outskirts of Mount Barclay, deep inside rebel territory, James Zonn and his companion, along with other Liberians, were stopped. It was around two in the afternoon, and there seemed to be a flurry of activities going on here.SKT, Zonn guessed, might have had no more than seventy mud houses on either side, since the dividing line of the town was the access road, directly towards the city of Gbarnga. It was reasonable that being the link to the rebels’ command center and residence of their leaders, security would be on high alert. Similarly, SKT was the home of the Liberian Agricultural Company (LAC), where modern residential houses were located. And rightly, the leaders in Gbarnga were using the lodgings as residences.But it was apparent that James Zonn had not thought about meeting with any experience worth its name. But considering the splintered nature of the rebels, there was everything to imagine that misunderstanding, even on a trivial issue, could result in the loss of precious limbs or life. And the rebel soldiers did not let Zonn to wait further, when fifteen minutes after their arrival, what appeared as an apparent confusion brewed ahead.There were a number of rebel soldiers, their guns at the ready, moving about in a hurry. “I can take care of that bitch,” he heard a soldier say, and then another, probably twenty, his face lined with worry, and unable to discern between life and death, said,“If you kill me today I die and my business is finished.”It was then that Zonn saw that the source of the contention was apparently the murder of three members of a family. Their bodies sprawled across the road, and there were still other people standing by in tears. Among the dead, Zonn learned was a woman, a Gio, who had defended her husband, who was a Sarpo.“The woman said the man was her husband,” a young man told Zonn, as the vehicle was finally released to go, “she would not hear the soldiers’ decision that the man should be killed, and as a result she chose to die with her husband.”“What about the third body?” Zonn’s curiosity moved him to ask. “Why did she die?” The other, his eyes downcast, said, “She was standing across the road when another soldier called her, and told her she was a Sarpo and before she could defend herself, he shot her dead.” As the vehicle hummed along, Zonn turned his attention to the road as it raced toward them. All of Liberia had become a jungle, and there was no Liberian alive who was safe. It was a hard judgment call, but whether anybody would survive the civil-war could be anybody’s guess. In fifteen minutes, Zonn felt the bus slowing down to a halt.“This is another check point,” the other told him. It was apparent to Zonn that his informer was a frequent traveler in this part of Gbarnga, and as Zonn looked him in the face, the young man said, “Our suffering is beyond reason. We are unable to understand what crime we have committed to be treated this way.”“Wipe your tears my friend,” Zonn urged him, when he saw his new friend in tears. “Believe in God, and pray for survival as long as the war continues.”“Yes,” his new friend also looked into his eyes, “our treatment is beyond insanity.” Zonn felt the rush of emotion gripping him, and turning around he saw Klubor soundly asleep. He felt some urge within him, but knew that till they reached the city of Gbarnga, the various checkpoints would present another barrier after another. But then he had given everything he had, and committed it into the hands of God. For, he believed that for whatever Liberia had become, God had a way for them to stay alive. He would find it, and search for it if he did not find it the first time. Then he would lead the campaign to save lost souls back to God.IT WAS evidently a case of having lived to fulfill his wishes, for what the Creator did for him. He knew he could not have it any other way. Death had come so close and yet, the hand of God had intervened, and it was no accident that he was alive. If for anything at all, James Zonn knew that he had had his demons destroyed, and it was time he lived true to his vows.For now, it was nearly three years since the war ended, and it was just the period he had anticipated. What was more, the church that he was presently officiating as the lead pastor was making more progress, and sometimes he felt the blessings of God on him and it was time he concluded his aim. As he contemplated on his past, his present and his future, there was every indication that he was among the blessed in the land that had enjoyed horror and sorrow. Who could he blame? He could blame the founding fathers of the land. And what was their crime? Why, did they neglect to remain true to the land of their adoption? Where were the schools or educational institutions that were supposed to help many of the people out of their ignorance? Wasn’t it true that when the rebels, mostly those of his countrymen, gained considerable control of the land, they killed anyone with an Identity Card? Didn’t they kill even those who shared the last name of the president of the republic whom they had been sent to eliminate? And it was true as he survived the war that his people, the very ones who were abused, rather took it upon themselves to just kill their fellow Liberians for sport. Weren’t their actions as a result of pure ignorance, since majority never had the privilege to have an education, and to know the difference between an enemy and a sympathizer?He could argue against that because the leaders of the war were all men and women who had had valuable education. But again, he was horrified that his people, and later joined by other ethnic groups, like the Mandingos, slaughtered others at will. But supposed Liberia, the land of his birth, had been developed, and educational and other opportunities were plentiful, would it not have gone without saying that they would rather have been involved in more productive work, than joining the rebel armies, which circumstances caused their very existence? No, James Zonn, now the man of God was not trying to offer any form of justification for the crimes committed on the land by his countrymen. Yes, he was making an effort to understand the insanity that went beyond the ordinary cause of events during the fifteen years that the Liberian war lasted.Now, across from him, Rev. Zonn watched at the figure seated before him at their Logan Town residence in Monrovia. Since the end of the war, and the formation of the new government, many things had happened, and very fast too. His beloved Klubor, sitting nearby, was mending a shirt that she very much wanted him to wear for this Sunday’s church service. Their three children, the oldest nine years old, played alongside his siblings, and the man of God felt blessed.With his church drawing people to the Lord every Sunday, and the country recovering in a slow pace, the reverend agreed that more sacrifices were needed from all to redirect the future of Liberia. But he could not agree with those who had been clamoring for a quick recovery to the period that they had passionately called, “the good old days.” As a man of God he believed that if there was any period in the history of his country known as the “good old days,” those days were yet to come.The events that resulted into the agony of the land were because of the mistakes of the past, yes, the same past others were calling the “good old days.” The people, he admitted, would have to develop a strong aversion to dealings and attitudes of the past when actions were taken for granted. The period when many of the people would not pay utility bills and individuals simply lived their lives for fun. It would have to change, and from that change one could say there could be some good days to come.The man of God considered the fervor of the spirit demonstrated during the recent national elections, and admired the spirit and resourcefulness of the young people. He realized it was the same spirit the youths showed with vim during the course of the war. “If they can translate that attitude and spirit to nation building,” Rev. Zonn, mused, “there is every chance this country will enter into a period of goodness.” But the man of God didn’t believe that such a spirit could ever exist; and if it existed at all, it would not be utilized. Here, he saw his role as a man of God clearly, and in it he saw the heavy burden on his shoulders.Rev. James Zonn had been a man of God for the last three years, and in those years, he had been able to draw many of the former child-soldiers to his church. There were some of the former child-soldiers that he recognized and many that had always stood before the congregation giving their testimonies. It was a situation that the man of God considered not only a miracle, but the kindness of God. And as a result he had commended the Liberian people for their outright forgiving spirit.In some instances, some of the former child-soldiers had wept, and requested Rev. Zonn to call God’s anger on them so that they would die. In such instances, Rev. Zonn had made use of the Scriptures, and had opened several areas, and read God’s mercies to the frail souls of the former child-soldiers. And the reverend had on several occasions used their agonies to caution the now emerging new nation. Now was the time, Rev. Zonn had always said, whenever he had the occasion to pull the former child-soldiers from the pit of their sorrows. They had become more prone to shedding tears, and they reminded Rev. Zonn of the Scriptural admonition that in the last days, there would be mourning and the gnashing of teeth as God’s mercy drew near. Though Rev. Zonn considered the outburst of the former child-soldiers as signs of total repentance, he wished economic issues would move faster to make them self-sufficient to sustain themselves, a condition that was unknown to them for fifteen years, and therefore strange to the former child-soldiers.Now as the man of God whispered a favorite gospel tune to himself, his eyes glowered with satisfaction, and he saw clearly the saving grace of his Creator. He felt sustained and blessed, for Liberia would continue to exist in peace and could result in prosperity, for the glory of God.THE ENDShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Embed from Getty ImagesChelsea boss Antonio Conte was asked about a number of issues at his press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Burnley. Here’s some of what he had to say.On Burnley“It will be a really tough game. We must pay great attention because the stats show Burnley are a really strong team at home.“They’re third in the table for games played at home – we are first with 33 points, Tottenham are second with 32 and Burnley are third.“It’s a fantastic achievement for them. I warned my players because if you don’t face this game in the right way, anything can happen.“We are preparing very well for this game. My players know really well the game that we will face.“It’s important to know the strengths and the weaknesses of the team you go to face. We have studied them very well.“They fight a lot, they play a lot of long balls and put a lot of pressure on when you have the ball”On Burnley’s ex-Brentford striker Andre GrayEmbed from Getty Images“Gray is a really good player, very clever, he’s always in the right position when they win second balls to attack the space in the defensive line.”On the benefit or otherwise of playing after title rivals“Whether we play before or the others play before us, the pressure is the same. If our opponents win it reduces the gap, if they don’t you have the possibility to take more points.“I think that until the end of the season you have to live with this type of pressure.“But it’s important to think about ourselves and our game against Burnley. Now we are at the top of the table so we can count only on our game. Then, if good news arrives about the other teams, we’ll be happy but we must count on ourselves.”On whether Manchester United are still in the title raceEmbed from Getty Images“Honestly, I think there are six teams who are very strong and can fight to win the title.“Manchester United have a great squad. If we think that we have a nine-point lead and we are very close to winning the title it’s a great mistake.“There are 14 games to play and five teams, with Chelsea the sixth, who can fight to win the title. It’s important we don’t make mistakes in this race.”On whether his return to Juventus this week was a business trip“No, only fun! [It was] a bit of relaxation after a very intense week, with FA Cup, then Liverpool and Arsenal – so to watch a game totally relaxed was very good for me, and to come back into a stadium I know very well was very good. It was a good experience.”On his players’ time off “After the game against Arsenal I wanted to give them one day off because I thought they deserved it. We’d had an intense week with three games in seven days.“There are different moments – there are the moments you must work very hard and sometimes there is a moment it’s important to have one, two or three days off, to relax with your family, to come back fresher and start to work very hard.“We know our results depend on our work. It’s good if the players want to go and relax in different countries – the most important thing for me is that they come back in the right way, with the right attitude and the right behaviour.”On the difficulty of playing lower-ranked sides“Honestly, in England, if you ask me before a match if it will be an easy game my reply is always the same – there aren’t easy games and we have lots of examples of teams at the bottom who win and draw.“For this reason it’s important to have always great concentration and great focus and to be ready to fight to try to win, if you want to win the title at the end.“If your ambition is to stay in the top four or top six, you can have highs and lows. If you want to win [the title] you must have always the same concentration, good focus and know that in every game you can lose points.”On why Eden Hazard came off against ArsenalEmbed from Getty Images“When I make a substitution there is always a reason. Sometimes I try to preserve some players. Sometimes there is a tactical choice.“In the last game, I wanted to give him the great applause of our fans because I think he deserved this, for the game that he played – not only with the ball, but above all without the ball.”On Hazard’s value“I’m not going to put a price on a player. Eden, for sure, is a great player, a top player. He’s in a very high level but I don’t see the problem because we don’t want to sell him. He hasn’t a price now.”On David LuizEmbed from Getty Images“He’s fit. He’s playing with a little pain in his knee but he’s a warrior and I think he’s playing very well.“I’m pleased for him. He’s showing me great attitude, [and a] great will to continue to fight despite sometimes having a bit of pain.”On whether Cesc Fabregas and Willian may return“There is this possibility because we are talking about two great players in good form.“To have, in this moment, Cesc and Willian on the bench or on the pitch is very important.“Now, Pedro is playing very well, he’s in great form [but] Cesc is playing very well when he plays and also when I call him to come on.“I have different solutions, for sure, but for me the most important thing is I can count on the squad and every single player is in good form.”On Willian suggesting Manchester United wanted to sign himEmbed from Getty Images“I don’t know about this news. For me it’s not important. The most important thing is the present, to be focused, to take the best choice for the team to try to win.”See also:Conte on Bakayoko, Hazard, Pedro’s setback and facing Spurs Ads by Revcontent Trending Articles Urologists: Men, Forget the Blue Pill! This “Destroys” ED x ‘Genius Pill’ Used By Rich Americans Now Available In Netherlands! x What She Did to Lose Weight Stuns Doctors: Do This Daily Before Bed! x Men, You Don’t Need the Blue Pill if You Do This x One Cup of This (Before Bed) Burns Belly Fat Like Crazy! x Drink This Before Bed, Watch Your Body Fat Melt Like Crazy x Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
SAN FRANCISCO — Before the Giants played their final game of the first half on Friday, Bruce Bochy sat in the home dugout and expressed what he’d like to see in his final three months as a major league manager.His wish list was straightforward: Stronger starting pitching, more quality at-bats from his veteran hitters and better execution in close games.Based on his team’s subpar play through its first 80 games, Bochy sounded like a child asking Santa Clause for a sports car. In game No. 81, …
Arunachal Pradesh Finance Minister Kalikho Pul has raised an alarm and warned of a “Kargil-like situation” brewing in the North-East.Pul told Headlines Today that Chinese personnel are constantly intruding into Indian territory. He said that the Chinese are easily able to come into many of the north eastern regions, especially Tawang and Anjaw districts.”The situation is alarming for the last seven-eight years. Chinese personnel are constantly intruding into our territory. Names of our villages are written in their area. China has better infrastructure on their side…while our connectivity to the border areas is very poor,” Pul said.Pul has asked the Indian government to take steps to better the infrastructure in the border areas which are lying vacant, otherwise, he has warned, a “Kargil-like situation” may develop in the state.For more news on India, click here. For more news on Business, click here. For more news on Movies, click here. For more news on Sports, click here.
India dropped Shikhar Dhawan from the playing XI for the ICC World Twenty20 semi-final clash against West Indies on Thursday. (Live Scorecard)Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who lost the toss at the Wankhede Stadium, made two changes to the squad after axing Dhawan. Ajinkya Rahane, who was with the team since the start of the tournament, replaced the out-of-form opener. (India vs West Indies, ICC World T20 semi-final: LIVE UPDATES) Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey replaced all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who was ruled out of the tournament after he suffered an ankle injury during the league game against Australia.Dhoni’s decision to axe Dhawan for the big clash came as a surprise as the Indian skipper had backed him even after a string of poor performances.Dhawan had scored only 43 runs from four outings in the tournament with his top score of 23 coming against Bangladesh. Dhawan had trouble facing up to against genuine pace in this tournament.Dhawan, who had hit a half-century in the home series against Sri Lanka, lost his touch in the Asia Cup T20 tournament. Dhawan could only manage 19 runs in the tournament before slamming a match-winning 60 against Bangladesh in the final.
Airbnb—the room rental company that does not own any rooms—has just sued the city of New York. Why? This is because the city has introduced a bill to penalise anyone who rents out their apartment for less than 30 days. This would effectively kill Airbnb’s business, which makes every household owner a potential hotelier. Airbnb provides an online listing system—anyone who owns a house, or many properties can rent out space. The business cuts into the profits of conventional hotels who have to buy land, build rooms and take care of the establishment. In Airbnb’s case, the costs are low and distributed. More importantly, thousands, even millions, of rooms suddenly become available, which eat into the market of house rentals or hotels. Airbnb is, not surprisingly, hitting old business, which also is hitting back. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfIt is also difficult to regulate. Just think. How do city governments control millions of property owners who have become instant hoteliers? Airbnb argues that its reputational system, where owners and guests rate each other, regulates the informal market. Governments disagree. Airbnb is fighting similar battles in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin and even in its hometown of San Francisco, and the list is growing. Uber—the taxi service that does not own any cars—has similar battles on hand. Uber, and others like it, have turned every car owner into a potential service provider. All that Uber does is to aggregate these millions of car owners who have overnight become taxi drivers. This is why it can reduce costs and work the market—drastically undercut the market price and drive regular taxi service into the red. All this without owning a single car. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveUber and its variants are facing tremendous hostility from the old business. I saw this at close hand when the Supreme Court of India directed that all taxis, including those run by aggregators like Uber or Ola, should convert to CNG. This was done to reduce Delhi’s runaway air pollution. But the result of this seemingly simple order was out and out war. All taxi owners—from the black and yellow, radio taxi, to the tourist taxi and all India tourist taxi—converged at the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (I am a member of it), which is required to oversee the implementation of the Supreme Court’s direction. They had only one demand: stop Uber and Ola. Our objective was different—to regulate the fuel used by taxis and not to stop their operations. But regulation is a challenge. In the very first meeting, the police informed us that they are helpless. They could not identify the taxi—every car had become a taxi. Uber and Ola told us that they were not taxi operators—only aggregators. In fact, their companies are registered as information technology providers. They were also not responsible for anything—customers hired cars using their platform and rated the service provided by drivers. The Delhi government had issued guidelines, which would curtail the operations of such aggregators, but Uber challenged this in the court. Finally, after weeks of protracted discussions, and often violent disagreements, it was agreed that all taxis, including those listed with the aggregators, would run on CNG. But all other issues, including the contentious issue of surge pricing, remained unresolved. Governments in India and abroad are battling with taxi operators and technology companies to formulate these rules. But why am I writing this now? The fact is Airbnb and Uber are part of the inevitable change in our future. The reason is that the modern world has formalised its economy to the point that it has become unviable. The brick-and-mortar world requires massive infrastructure, and this then requires regulations to ensure that all this operates within rules. The cost of regulations is also high and adds to the cost of running the economy. In my view, Uber and Airbnb are undercutting this world—by making the best use of the individual’s assets. In both cases, they are optimising existing resources—the cars and houses people own—to make more money and share the profits. But most importantly, these businesses are working the informal space. They are doing this to reduce costs and to expand opportunity. This is where we need to think further of what our world is about. In countries like India, informal business is the existing order of the day. Everything—from collecting sewage from homes, recycling garbage to providing transport in our cities—is managed by millions of myriad informal businesses. But we do not consider it part of our future. Worse, it defies regulation as we know it today. So, it must go. But given that the formal economy comes with costs, we cannot replace this informal and thriving business. But to kill it we neglect it; make it illegal, and altogether despise it. But still, it stays. We just can’t make it work. So, is it time we thought of a different business future? Let’s discuss this again.(The writer is Editor of Down To Earth magazine. Views expressed are strictly personal.)
Luxury Gold by Insight Vacations launches 2017 Worldwide program Tags: Insight Vacations, Luxury Travel Monday, October 17, 2016 TORONTO — Luxury Gold, curated by Insight Vacations, has launched its first Worldwide program for 2017, featuring 15 new itineraries, nine new countries and an exciting Immersive Volunteer Trip extension for the first time ever.Building on the success of its first year of operation, Luxury Gold’s 2017 Worldwide portfolio will now feature 38 escorted journeys that deliver private VIP experiences across Europe, North and South America, India, Southeast Asia and Australasia. The 15 new luxury itineraries include trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, all for the first time.“To travel with Luxury Gold is to travel beyond the ordinary,” said John Boulding, global CEO, Luxury Gold. “From the breath-taking five-star accommodation to the personal attention of our travelling concierges and truly immersive, VIP behind-the-scenes access that you won’t get with any other tour operator, we have thought of every last detail. Agents can be assured that their clients’ Luxury Gold vacations will be personalized, hassle-free and truly unforgettable.”More news: ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthAll itineraries in Australia and New Zealand will travel in small groups with a maximum of 20, in Southeast Asia with a maximum 26 and selected departures in Europe will operate with a maximum of 24 guests for those customers looking for a more intimate experience.Guests will stay in renowned properties including the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Cambodia, the Langham in Sydney, the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa in Italy, The Milestone Hotel in London and the Belmond Copacabana Palace in Brazil.New itineraries for 2017 include: the 19-day ‘Inspiring Indochina’, which links three of Luxury Gold’s new itineraries to create the ultimate combination of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos; the 15-day ‘Inspiring Australia’, which journeys through Queensland, the Northern Territory and New South Wales; the 13-day ‘The French Connection’, connecting England, Guernsey, Jersey and France; the 24-day ‘The Long White Cloud’, which combines the new ‘Southern Drift’ and ‘Endless Shores’ journeys to span the whole of New Zealand; and the seven-day ‘Quito and the Galapagos Islands’, which includes five days cruising to the Galapagos Islands.More news: Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaIn response to demand, a number of mini-trips that featured in the 2016 program have been expanded for 2017 to create dedicated and more in-depth tours such as the new ‘Classical Sri Lanka’ and ‘Nepal & Bhutan – Mountain Kingdoms.’Luxury Gold is also launching a new Immersive Volunteer Trip extension in India through partnership with ME to WE, allowing guests the opportunity to spend time in a community in rural Rajasthan. Here they will work on building projects and learn about sustainable agriculture practices, traditional crafts and daily life in the hills and farmland of India through the personal stories of the men and women living there.For more information, please contact your local Sales Manager or visit us at luxurygoldvacations.com. Posted by Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Share
ORLANDO — Several Hogwarts alumni were on hand to commemorate the grand opening of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, the latest addition to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.While at yesterday’s launch, film stars Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick) and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred & George Weasley) added a touch of magic by reciting the iconic ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ spell before the crowd. With a flick of their wands, trunks and storage containers magically flew away, marking the official opening of the new coaster.A special message from actor Robbie Coltrane, who portrays Hagrid in the Harry Potter films and the star of the new adventure, was also included in the festivities.“I’m excited to welcome you to this new chapter of magic here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” said Coltrane. “Be sure to hang onto your motorbike, and most importantly, have fun everyone.”More news: Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesFeaturing rich sets, an actual forest with over 1,200 trees, groundbreaking coaster technology and a captivating storyline, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the world’s first ‘story coaster’ that takes guests through mysterious ruins, above forest trees and backwards at speeds up to 50 mph, all while riding either Hagrid’s motorbike or in the adjacent sidecar.Riders also come face-to-face with magical creatures such as a majestic Centaur, a swarm of Cornish pixies, Fluffy, the three-headed dog, and Blast-Ended Skrewts, a creature that’s never been seen in the films.At select times, guests may be asked to use the Official Universal Orlando Resort App and enter the Virtual Line for access to the new attraction, allowing them to enjoy other experiences at Universal Orlando until it’s their time to return and join the queue.For more information go to UniversalTravelAgents.com. Posted by Harry Potter stars officially open Universal Orlando’s new Hagrid roller coaster << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Share Tags: Harry Potter, Orlando, Universal Friday, June 14, 2019