Monday, October 21: Eric, BMS football coaches, Lisa Gausman (BHS girls cross country) Monday, November 25: Aaron & Darrick, Josh Blankinship ( Milan BBB) Monday, November 4: Eric, Brad Stacy (Franklin Co. GBB) Monday, November 11: Eric (?), Scott Smith (JCD GBB), Derek Cox (BHS GBB) Monday, October 28: Eric, Chris Deal (BHS wrestling), Derek Suits (BMS cross country) Monday, November 18: Eric (?), Kevin Moore (EC GBB), Darrick Cox, Aaron Garrett (?)
Jamaica will be aiming to retain their Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Under-20 title when they oppose hosts Haiti in the final today at the Sylvio Cator Stadium in Port-Au-Prince, starting at 6 p.m. The young Reggae Girlz advanced to the final following a 2-1 win against Puerto Rico in one semi-final on Wednesday night. Simone Wark sent the Jamaicans ahead in the third minute, and Deneisha Blackwood made it 2-0 in the 64th minute. Puerto Rico pulled a goal back when Alejandra Carrion scored in the 83rd minute. In the other semi-final, Haiti blanked Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) 2-0. With Wednesday’s wins, Jamaica and Haiti advanced to the CONCACAF stage of the World Cup qualifiers. Puerto Rico and T&T will battle for the final spot in the third-place play-off. The CONCACAF tournament will be staged in Honduras in December. Meanwhile, president of the Jamaica Football Federation Captain Horace Burrell has congratulated the young Reggae Girlz for qualifying once again for the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s tournament. “I am indeed extremely proud of our female footballers and wish them well in the final against Haiti,” Burrell stated in a media release.
Man Utd academy chief Nicky Butt: Five new kids pushing for first teamby Paul Vegas2 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United academy chief Nicky Butt says as many as five unknown youngsters have the potential to break into the first team this season.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a fan of blooding youngsters and has already played the likes of Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Brandon Williams this campaign.Head of first-team development at Manchester United Butt is confident that this is just the start and that more youngsters will soon be following suit.”They’re very exciting players,” Butt told the PA news agency.”We’re all excited about these young boys and there’s probably another four or five in the background that are slowly going to come up behind them.”Hopefully more behind that and more behind that, but they’re only babies and young at the minute.”But, for me, it’s difficult to bring in a lot of players into a team that’s not firing on all cylinders, if you like.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
Larissa BurnoufAPTN National NewsA First Nations basketball phenomenon ranked number one in Canada for three on three hoops is hoping the 2020 summer Olympic games will be golden.Michael Linklater has won a number of national titles and trophies when he played for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies – and he was the first, First Nation player ever to hoist the University championship trophy.The game Linklater is playing right now is three on three – a game that will be featured at the next summer games.“I think it’s every athlete’s dream to play in the Olympics representing their country,” said Linklater. “And since I was a child it was something that I wanted to do. But growing up and playing five on five it’s a little more difficult to crack that roster – and for this to be a possibility for three on three that we’ve been so successful at you know it really gives us a glimmer of hope.”[email protected]
History was made at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Sunday night, when the Pittsburgh Penguins became the first team of the NHL’s salary-cap era to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.1The NHL instituted a salary cap after labor disputes that resulted in the loss of the entire 2004-05 season. Winning back-to-back titles wasn’t as big of a deal for much of the NHL’s history — through the 1970s and ’80s, it wasn’t uncommon to see teams win two, three or even four Stanley Cup titles in a row — but repeating has been notoriously difficult in recent decades.The last franchise to go back-to-back was the Detroit Red Wings, whose ridiculously talented Steve Yzerman-led teams won in 1997 and 1998. And before that, it was Mario Lemieux’s Penguins, buttressed by some teenager from the Czech Republic named Jaromir Jagr; they lifted the Cup in the springs of 1991 and 1992, cementing Pittsburgh as a hockey town.Just as those Penguins teams from the early 1990s owed a lot to their captain — Lemieux won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in both Cup-winning campaigns — these Penguins have been powered by their leader, Sidney Crosby. He played brilliantly in this season’s playoffs, scoring 27 points in 24 games, including 7 in six games during the Final, and earning a second consecutive Smythe. Only one other player, beyond Crosby and Lemieux, has won back-to-back Smythes since the award was first given out in 1965.2That player is goalie Bernie Parent, who led the Philadelphia Flyers to Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975. (And it was never done by all-time greats like Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy and Bobby Orr, although each of those players won the trophy at least twice in his career.)Of course, netminder Matt Murray wasn’t too shabby, either. After returning from injury to play in the conference finals, Murray was virtually unbeatable. In 11 games, he recorded seven quality starts3Hockey-Reference.com defines a “quality start” as one in which a goalie records a save percentage greater than or equal to the league average for the season. (Or, if a goalie faces 20 shots or fewer, he must record an 88.5 percent save percentage for the start to be considered “quality.”) and stopped 93.7 percent of the shots he faced.Here’s the most ludicrous thing of all: Murray led Pittsburgh to not one, but two titles as a rookie. After backstopping the Pens to the title last season, he still qualified as a rookie for 2016-17 because of the way the NHL judges rookie status. That elevates Murray into the same territory as Montreal great Ken Dryden, who as a rookie led the Habs to a Stanley Cup championship in 1971.Dryden won the Conn Smythe that year, and because he’d played in only six regular-season games, he still qualified as a rookie for the 1971-72 season. The Habs failed to repeat, but Dryden won the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie. Regardless of what Murray does over the rest of his career, he and Dryden will always be mentioned in the same breath. That’s not bad company!Beyond Crosby and Murray, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was exceptional, finishing as the leading scorer in the playoffs. Geno’s 28 points are tied for the sixth-most of any player in a single postseason since the lockout and are the second-most of his playoff career (trailing the insane 36 points he dropped in 2009, when he won the Conn Smythe).In the first nine seasons they played together, Crosby and Malkin were playoff fixtures. They won one Cup, but otherwise, the Penguins during that time frequently seemed to disappoint in the postseason. After Pittsburgh’s championship in 2009, its record under coach Dan Bylsma was just 27-27 in the postseason, and the team was 0-5 in elimination games. Despite having two of the best players of their generation, the Pens were underachieving. The Crosby-Malkin era had held such promise, but each star was aging out of his prime. It was beginning to look like they might have missed their window for further championship success.All that panic feels like a dream now. Two championships in succession have put Pittsburgh’s tally during the Crosby-Malkin era at three — one more than the team earned in the Lemieux-Jagr era.So where does this place Crosby and Malkin in Penguins lore? It’s difficult (and kind of foolish) to compare eras. The game has changed a lot since Lemieux and Jagr played together, and Crosby and Malkin probably won’t touch their predecessors’ scoring totals. But in terms of titles, the Crosby-Malkin era has been the most successful run in the Penguins’ history. It’s hard to argue with all that silverware.
Know the role market makers play when executing stop losses. For the Miller’s Money Forever portfolio we generally set a trailing stop loss when we buy a stock. Entering a stop loss order with your broker will automatically generate a sell order should the stock drop to that number. A market maker can see that number and may drop down to buy your stock at the low price and then resell it for a profit. As a practical matter, I set stop losses for big companies like Coca-Cola that trade millions of shares per day. The stop loss was there for a reason, and I don’t want to risk the price dropping further before I can sell it. Some pundits think you should never enter a stop loss with your broker. They prefer another method: a stop loss alert, which many brokerage firms offer. They notify you through an email or text message if the stock drops to the stop loss price, and then you can go to your computer and enter the sell order. We always use the alert for thinly traded stocks, so we’re less vulnerable to an aggressive market maker. If you are concerned about showing your hand to the market maker, by all means, use a stop loss alert. If you think the risk associated with stop losses is minimal for high-volume stocks, you may want to use both stop losses and stop loss alerts, depending on the stock. Whether any of this means the market is “rigged,” I’ll leave to those $500-per-hour lawyers to hash out. This is the game we’re playing, so it’s critical to understand the rules, whether we like them or not.A Universal Truth Whether you’re a retail investor or just a guy shooting at moving ducks at a carnival, you need knowledge and skills to succeed. Miller’s MoneyForever, our monthly newsletter, exists for that very reason. We provide individual investors with the education, tools, and investment recommendations essential for a rich retirement. The best part is: We do the heavy lifting for you. Plus, there’s no risk to try Miller’s Money Forever for three months: if you decide it’s not for you, just call, write, or email, and we’ll refund 100% of the cost without any fuss. Let others get the goldfish; we’ve set our sights on winning that giant teddy bear for you. Start your risk-free subscription to Miller’s Money Forever now.On the Lighter Side It’s been a few years since Jo and I took a long driving trip together. Long drives can be a great experience or pure hell. While we can’t control things like traffic and the weather, we can control many of the small things that irritate weary travelers. Here are some tips: Bring extra twist ties. They make it easier to store cell phones, iPads, and a lot of other electronic gadgets that have dangling cords. Health-food fans are going to hate me for this, but McDonalds has by far the cleanest rest rooms, and you generally don’t have to wait in line. When someone in the car indicates a need to stop at the next exit, don’t wince or show frustration. If you do, expect payback when it’s your turn. Never pass up an opportunity to use the rest room, even when it is not urgent. Bring along an electric wall socket extender that can turn a two-prong socket into six. Your destination will never have enough outlets to charge everything at once. Learn how to use your phone as a WiFi hotspot. Internet connections on the road are terrible and slow. Your hotspot is much faster. And finally… I saved the best for last: There are many ways to pack a vehicle for a long trip; however, two people will never agree on the best method. Only one person should pack the car. Until next week… The American Legion sponsored a carnival every summer when I was a young lad. My dad was a legionnaire, so each year I had a job. Beginning at age 12, I hauled soft drinks and food to the various concession booths well into the night, which probably violated some labor laws. Dad warned me about the carnival barkers, telling me to never play games where you try to win a giant teddy bear. They were rigged, he said, and no one ever wins—“So don’t waste your money.” I questioned Dad’s advice when I saw other boys carrying giant teddy bears to the delight of cute teenage girls. So I quietly watched some of the games. Some people won silly goldfish, but few won the giant teddy bear. Then I befriended some of the carnival workers and told them what my dad had said. To my surprise, they took his remarks personally. Each one stepped outside his booth to demonstrate just how easy it was to win by pinging ducks or knocking over little stuffed clowns with ease. The guy who shot the BBs told me to ignore the rear sights because they were off center. He also told me exactly where to hit the moving duck to make it go down. Ping, ping, ping! He knocked them down one after another. He argued that the game was not rigged; if it were, eventually no one would play. But the odds were tilted toward those who practiced. I tried it, lost a dollar (one hour’s pay), and realized it was cheaper to buy the teddy bear than to spend the money to learn how to win consistently. I think about those carnival games often, when friends and readers ask about market makers, brokers who help keep markets liquid and profit in the process. Do they just hold a unique position, or is something fishy going on?24 Men Make History Under a Buttonwood Tree Let’s take a step back to answer that question. The history of what would later become the New York Stock Exchange began in 1792, when 24 brokers and merchants signed the Buttonwood Agreement outside 68 Wall Street—under a buttonwood tree, of course. The securities market grew, particularly in the aftermath of the War of 1812, and in 1817, a group of brokers established the New York Stock & Exchange Board (NYS&EB) at 40 Wall Street. At that time, stocks were traded in a “call market” during one morning and one afternoon trading session each day. A call market is exactly what it sounds like: a list of stocks was read aloud as brokers traded each in turn. Whatever the benefits of this seemingly orderly system, it did not foster liquidity, and in 1871 the exchange, which had been rechristened as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 1863, began trading stocks continually throughout the day. Under the new system, brokers dealing in one stock stayed put at a set location on the trading floor. This was the birth of the specialist. Designated Market Makers (DMMs), who are assigned to various securities listed on the exchange, have since replaced specialists. DMMs are one type of market marker, which are broker-dealers who streamline trading and make markets more liquid by posting bid and ask prices and maintaining inventories of specific shares. Since the NYSE is an auction-based market, where traders meet in-person on the floor of the exchange, the DMMs, who represent firms, maintain a physical presence on the floor. Unlike the NYSE, the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) is an exclusively electronic exchange. Plus, it has approximately 300 competing market makers (not physically present at the exchange). Stocks listed on the Nasdaq have an average of 14 market makers per stock, and they are all required to post firm bid and ask prices.Why Market Makers Matter to Retail Investors You may be thinking, “That’s great, Dennis, but why should any of this matter to me?” Well, because the existence of market makers should affect a few of your trading habits—for thinly traded stocks in particular. Trades are not automatically executed via magical computer elves. When you place a buy or sell order (likely via the Internet), your broker can choose how to execute your trade. When you place an order for a stock listed on the NYSE or some other exchange, your broker can pass that order on to that particular exchange, or it can send it to another exchange, such as a regional exchange. However, your broker also has the option of sending your order to a third market maker, a firm ready to buy and sell at a publicly quoted price. It’s worthwhile to note that some market makers actually pay brokers to route orders their way—say, a about penny or so per share. On the other hand, your broker will likely send your order for a stock traded on the Nasdaq, an over-the-counter market, to one of the competing Nasdaq market makers. And of course, your broker can always fill your order out of its own inventory in order to make money on the spread—the difference between the purchase and sale prices. Or it can send your order (limit orders in particular), to an electronic communications network (ENC), where buy and sell orders of the same price are automatically matched. With that in mind, there are two steps you should take to make the most of your trades:Always place orders at limit prices, as opposed to market prices. As of Tuesday, the price for Coca-Cola is a bid of $41.23, and the ask price is $41.24; the spread is a penny. If you put in an order to buy at $41.24, a market maker could buy at $41.23 and sell it to you for $41.24, pocketing a penny per share. If you buy 100 shares, they make $1.00. That is their profit for making the market. If you put an order in at “market,” it can cost you a lot more. The depth of the current bids goes all the way down to buy at $34.01 (there are a couple of orders to buy KO for $22.12 and even one as low as $3.00, but the probability they will be filled is negligible), and the sell side goes up to $53.68 (again, there is one order to sell KO at $88 but this investor won’t find a counterparty in his right mind that would take it). That means there are currently orders sitting with the market maker to be executed at those respective prices. If the market maker sees a market order, he would buy the stock at $41.23 and sell it at a much higher price. A market order is basically a license for the market maker to steal. You want the best price for any stock you’re trading; entering a market order will ensure you don’t get it. The spreads for thinly traded stocks are generally larger. If you want to buy, you can offer a lower price than the bid, or perhaps a penny higher. If you want to trade several thousand shares, consider doing so in small tranches, so you don’t show your full hand to the market maker.
In the early hours of Monday, August 14 last year, Samuel Senessie woke up to one of the most powerful rainstorms he had ever seen. Water cascaded down the steep slope of Sugarloaf mountain, a precipitous peak on the edge of Sierra Leone’s tropical seaside capital, Freetown, where Senessie lived in a small concrete home with his family.He stepped outside to find his neighbors frantically barricading their houses against the floodwaters. His own house seemed to have avoided the worst of the flow, so he ran across the hillside to check on his brother, whose house was leaking heavily. It was a decision that saved his life.Soon after Senessie reached his brother’s house, the ground beneath his feet started to tremble. Giant sinkholes opened in the deep red soil. Torrents of water began to well up from the ground and flow down the hillside. All around, people screamed out for help.As deafening sound — “fearful, like a bomb” — rent the air, Senessie turned and ran for his life. As he fled, he saw a small girl stuck in the floodwaters and pulled her to safety. By the time he looked back, a vast section of the mountain had collapsed, entombing his home and five members of his family, along with most of his friends and neighbors.”I felt so much pain,” Senessie told me seven months later, as he perched on a low wall outside the house of a local chief, waiting to receive a little money so he could travel to the city center to find work. “At that time I decided to die. But then I realized it was the will of God.”Nobody knows exactly how many people died during the mudslide. More than half a year later, most of the bodies still lie beneath the rubble. But a World Bank report, released a month after the event, identified 1,141 dead or missing, making it the worst natural disaster in Sierra Leone’s history.Like Senessie, most of the survivors I spoke to attributed the event to an act of God.But the reality is far more complex. Both the causes and the consequences of the mudslide highlight the vulnerability of a still-fragile postwar state that lacks the capacity and political will to effectively prevent and react to crises. In Sierra Leone, rapid population growth and an increasingly volatile climate — combined with deeply entrenched corruption that frequently trumps the responsibilities of the government to its people — set the stage for a horrifying tragedy.A Disaster Waiting To HappenThe first question many asked after the disaster is how any of these houses got built in the first place, on land so clearly vulnerable to landslides. In April 2014, one resident of Regent — the part of Freetown where Sugar Loaf is situated — penned an opinion piece for a local newspaper. He called on the government to stop the unchecked construction on, and environmental degradation of, the mountain.”Mr President,” the man wrote, “these areas are prone to landslides, the ministry officials doesn’t [sic] give a damn, all that they care about is the money they make. When the natural disasters occur … the death toll will be unprecedented.”He wasn’t alone in making such predictions. Over the years, local and international media, government bodies, United Nations agencies and international NGOs have all warned of the risk posed by unregulated construction on the country’s hillsides. Exactly eight years to the day before the Sugar Loaf collapse, rescue workers were scrambling to reach survivors of a mudslide that killed seven people in another part of the city. Such events, seldom reported by international media, are common here.During the 11-year-long civil war that ripped apart the country during the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of rural Sierra Leoneans migrated to the capital. The population explosion was followed by a postwar construction boom, fueled by burgeoning iron-ore exports that created double-digit economic growth for several years. The population of the Freetown area is almost eight times larger than in 1963, according to census data.Senessie, who comes from a poor family in the far east of Sierra Leone, moved to this hillside 11 years ago.”Our house was over there,” he said, gesturing toward a spot on the lower right side of the rocky scar that marks the location of the mudslide. “Back then the place was full of forest. But around 2011 lots of people started moving here.”As a construction worker, Senessie had helped build many of the homes that now lie in fragments beneath the mud. In hindsight, he says, many of them should never have been built.”Men Are In Conflict With Nature”Sugar Loaf Mountain sits at the edge of the Western Area Forest, a protected swath of land that runs along the spine of the Freetown peninsula and provides a home for a wide array of plant and animal species, some of them endangered. The park has existed for over a hundred years, yet many of its hillsides, once thickly forested, have been stripped bare. A few meters from the edge of the mudslide, a small wooden sign, partially obscured by undergrowth, reads “National Park — Protected Area.”During 2015 and 2016, while the country grappled with the last few cases of a devastating outbreak of the Ebola virus, I lived at the base of one of these hills, in a village to the south of Freetown. Month by month, the change was clearly visible, as the scattered trees and shrubs slowly disappeared, destined to fuel cooking fires in a country where the supply of electricity remains inconsistent. Unlike much of the peninsula, Sugar Loaf Mountain still retained a healthy covering of trees across its upper half. But its lower reaches had been stripped of virtually all vegetation.This deforestation has made the hills less stable, stripping away both the canopy that once protected the earth and the roots that bound the soil in place. The increasingly erratic climate — in the weeks leading up to the landslide, Sierra Leone received about three times the usual amount of rainfall — and the steady spread of concrete and and cement have made the hillsides an increasingly dangerous place to live.”The green belt used to start at [the] State House,” said Prince Alieu, a wealthy community leader whose property narrowly escaped last year’s mudslide. “But today that is considered the city center.”No one can say to what extent deforestation contributed to this particular mudslide. But Alieu argues that Sugar Loaf Mountain is far from unique. Across Freetown and its suburbs, hundreds of thousands of people live on the sides of steep, barren hills, where unregulated construction has been going on for decades.”The government urgently needs to do a technical assessment of all the land in Freetown,” said Alieu, who chose not to build on the other side of the valley, which he deemed dangerous and unsuitable for construction.The Ministry of Lands, Environment and Country Planning, which issues permits for land acquisitions, had on several occasions issued warnings over building in the area, yet the construction continued. On a recent Wednesday I visited the ministry’s offices on the third floor of a moldering 1970s tower block in central Freetown and asked a spokesman whether corruption has allowed people to build on clearly unsuitable land.”That’s a challenge we have here,” said the spokesman, Alfred Kabia. “Some people try to connive with some officials here to acquire land. It’s been going on for a long time. But we’ve been trying to put the system under control.”Kabia explained that when he looked into some of the land permits in Regent and cross-referenced them with internal records at the ministry, he found that many were forged or falsified. Even when the ministry does attempt to inspect properties or demolish illegally built homes, it frequently finds itself obstructed by local residents.”Their attitude is a problem for us,” said Kabia. “They tell us they have nowhere else to go, and that fosters violence. They use stones and machetes to chase us away.” He added that one ministry official was killed during one of these clashes a few years ago.Despite this, the ministry had previously identified several structures in Regent that were unsafe or illegal, and in need of evacuation and demolition. It presented its plan to parliament, explained Kabia, but faced stiff resistance, including from members of the community. The motion was eventually blocked.Among the powerful figures who owned property in the area were the minister of information, a former minister of lands, several high-ranking army officers and the chair of the country’s Environmental Protection Agency.”Men are in conflict with nature,” said Idris Turay, a government official who worked on the mudslide response. “It’s a conflict that nature will always win. And now we’ve paid dearly.”Where’s The Money?Back at the disaster site, Senessie continued to wait patiently under the hot sun for the chief. He took out his phone and started scrolling through photos of friends and family members who died in the mudslide. Their bodies, he explained, were never found. These blurry, pixelated photos were all that remained of his previous life.During the frantic days after Sugar Loaf collapsed, survivors and rescue teams clad in hazmat suits left over from the recent Ebola outbreak scoured the area for survivors. Charities descended on the scene, handing out basic supplies — rice, clothes, oil. Officials visited, photographed the dead on their phones and posted them to Facebook, much to the outrage of the survivors.On August 15, Sierra Leone’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma, made an address to the nation.”Many of our compatriots have lost their lives, many more have been gravely injured and billions of leones worth of property destroyed in the flooding and landslides that swept across some parts of our city” he announced. “with a heavy heart, let me extend profound condolences to the bereaved families.”To the survivors of the disaster, he promised, “We will continue to stand by you and share with you your grief and help those of you that are traumatized and depressed.”Seven months after the mudslide, the president’s words ring hollow for Senessie and many other survivors. Senessie still hasn’t received any of the money to which he’s entitled. When he went to register as a survivor of the mudslide, he was told that he could not be verified as a resident of the area. The process of identifying survivors in need of assistance, according to many of those NPR spoke to, was hijacked by powerful local figures who ultimately decided who would receive aid and who would not.”People started calling their brothers and their friends from other parts of the country, so that they could get more of the benefit,” complained Senessie, who lost not only his home and his family but also his possessions. After saving up for years, he’d accumulated more than five million leones ($650), which he kept under his mattress.”I lost everything,” he told me. “My laptop is gone and all of my money. Every day I think about what I’ve lost.”According to Prince Alieu, roughly a third of those living in his community at the base of the mudslide never received their money from the government. Others received a portion but said it was not what they had been promised.”They gave me just two million leones ($260),” said 44-year-old Abubakar Kamara, who lost his son in the mudslide.Kamara used to own a thriving business and a spacious home with four bedrooms. Now he’s renting a dark, cramped shack, with a hole in its roof, on a hillside across the valley. Thin mattresses lie squeezed together on the floor, next to the family’s remaining possessions.Kamara is also looking after his now-orphaned sister-in-law, 10-year-old Adama, whom he pulled from the floodwaters before he made his escape. A Chinese charity active in the country gave the family money for Adama’s education, but it won’t last long.”How are we supposed to survive?” he asked angrily. “The money will only cover one year’s rent.”What Kamara doesn’t know is that ever since the mudslide, over $6 million, donated mostly by individuals and diaspora groups, has been sitting in a bank account while authorities decide what to do with it.At a seaside restaurant in Western Freetown, where expatriates and government officials come for sundowners and grilled barracuda, I met with Idris Turay, the director of the National Social Protection Secretariat, one of the government bodies tasked with overseeing the mudslide response and the distribution of money to the survivors.”If we gave too much, it could affect the labor market and family relations,” said Turay. “We didn’t want it to look like people were getting money for nothing—like they were on the dole. And we also didn’t want to undermine our existing cash-transfer programs [supporting various marginalized groups]. So we had to be careful with the amount of the package.”Turay outlined a series of payments, in various installments, that should have added up to $692. He insisted that most of those who’ve registered to receive assistance have received the full amount.”I’d give [the response] an 8 out of 10,” he said. “But the registration process was not proper. We still have people who were affected by the disaster just waiting for aid, who didn’t manage to get included in the program.””Lessons have been learned,” he added. “We’re going to make sure we’re not in this chaotic situation next time, and we’ll be ready.”Turay said the government intends to create a new Agency for Disaster Response — a body that will be both preventive and reactive. But seven months after the mudslide, the agency has yet to be established.A Young Woman’s SorrowCash transfers were just one part of the promised response. High in the hills above central Freetown, another mudslide survivor is wrestling with a different challenge. Fatmata Dabo, 20, lost one of her parents during the Ebola outbreak, then the other during the landslide. On neither occasion was she able to see the bodies to say farewell.Dabo avoids eye contact as she talks, wringing her hands constantly. “I did not receive anything at all from the government,” she said. “But for me the main challenge is trauma.”Despite President Koroma’s promising remarks in the early days of the response, Dabo has received no counseling or mental-health care.”When I go back to the area [of the mudslide] I cry,” she said quietly, sitting on a cheap plastic chair outside her boyfriend’s home. “It makes me remember everything. So now I can’t go back there even when there’s a distribution going on. When I sit down now I’m always lonely. In the past my mother was always there. But now she’s gone.”Dabo was planning to use her money from the government to start a small business, buying agricultural produce from upcountry and then selling it for a small profit in Freetown. Now she spends her days lost in painful memories.Like many of those who lost their homes to the mudslide, Dabo spent months living in a camp for displaced people in the capital. Life there wasn’t easy, but she had some shelter, food and water. The authorities had promised to provide a more permanent place for the survivors to live. But when the government forcibly emptied the camps of survivors in December, no such assistance materialized. “The government never wanted the camps,” Turay told me. “Camps are easy to open but very difficult to close, and the advice from IOM (International Organisation for Migration) and UNHCR [the UN refugee agency] was to be very careful with the construction of camps.”When the residents of Dabo’s camp protested their eviction, security forces reacted with violence. Several people were hospitalized. Dabos says that an officer struck her in the stomach with the butt of a rifle.”Now when we try to complain to the Organization of National Security [another of the bodies charged with overseeing the mudslide response and the camps], they call the police to send us away,” said Dabo. “Since we left the camp they don’t even want to know about us.”Turay acknowledged that promises of accommodation had been made and pointed out that the government still plans to create an affordable-housing project in the village of 6 Mile, outside Freetown. But “affordable” can be a relative term in Sierra Leone. The government initially said it would give the properties to the mudslide survivors for free, Turay explained. But then it backtracked.”There’s a 230,000 housing deficit in Freetown,” said Turay, referring to the number of people in need of homes. “So how ethical is it to give these 2,000 people free housing while there are other people who are equally poor and need houses? So the government decided to use the donated money to build houses, but not give them for free. There will be a mortgage.”By Turay’s reckoning, those mortgage payments could amount to as much as $200 a month — in a country where the average annual income is just $490, according to World Bank figures from 2016. Fifty-two houses have recently been built, using money donated by Sierra Leonean philanthropists. But they’re not being made available for free. None is currently in use.Waiting For His RewardBack in Regent, I asked Prince Alieu, the local community leader, what the main challenges are for the mudslide victims.”Most of the victims are dead,” he replied simply. “For those who survived, the challenges are the same as they were before the landslide, only worse. People still need shelter, jobs and food.”Senessie now finds himself facing an uncertain future. Since the mudslide, he’s been living with a friend, picking up work when he can and trying to deal with the loss of his family.”When people feel pain like this, it’s the kind of pain that could bring war,” he said. “It’s the government’s fault. It’s all for the money … I’m having to start my life from scratch. But one day God will reward me.”Tommy Trenchard is a freelance writer and photographer working mostly in Africa and the Middle East. He lived in Sierra Leone between 2012 and 2016, covering news, culture, development and the country’s fight against Ebola. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
On the face of it, it was just another hair removal ad aimed at women in both Pakistan and India But this ad, like the others, would have slipped by unnoticed were it not for a social media uproar led by none other than Sana Mir, the former captain of the Pakistan women’s cricket team.First uploaded on the product’s YouTube channel on April 5, the ad for Veet Perfect Silk hair removal cream shows Pakistani actress Mahira Khan slinking onto a basketball court on a college campus. Even though she’s wearing a tight pink dress and high heels, she handles the ball with ease and sinks it into the basket. As she accomplishes this feat, her arm brushes up against one of the other players, in athletic garb, who declares “wow” and then exclaims breathlessly, “So smooth!””Not smooth,” replies Khan. “Perfect!”Skin lightening and hair removal creams are some of the subcontinent’s best-selling products, playing on the familiar insecurities South Asian women share on both sides of the border about body hair and the color of their skin. But when Sana Mir commented on the ad in a Facebook post on April 22, her post went viral — shared over 700 times from her official page and liked 28,000 times at last count.Mir opened her statement with a strong salvo: “To all young girls out there who aspire to take up sports. Make no mistake: you need strong arms, not smooth arms, on a sports field.” She related how she’d refused to endorse similar beauty products because they objectify women “in different professional settings.” Because this one involved sports and was clearly aimed at a younger crowd, Mir decided to speak up.”The worst thing is that instead of sending a message to young girls that the colour or texture of their skin does not matter, we are promoting body shaming and objectification,” Mir wrote. She ended her post by requesting companies and the celebrities who endorse products to try and give girls the confidence to fulfill their dreams rather than making them feel self-conscious about their bodies.Both Indian and Pakistani women reacted enthusiastically to Mir’s post, which she paired with jubilant images of the Pakistani women cricket’s team performing on the field. Women called her a strong role model and bemoaned the pressure that women feel to look “perfect”, thanks to advertisements for beauty products like these. Others lauded her for refusing sponsorship deals in the name of resisting body-shaming. “You’re a real hero for refusing to compromise on values for sponsorship money,” said Shahbano Aliani, from Karachi.Mir’s protest comes at a time when Pakistani women are becoming increasingly aware of the sexism that keeps them in a position of lesser status. But there has been backlash. Some media painted Mir’s statement as “slamming” Mahira Khan, predictably pitting two of Pakistan’s most recognizable celebrities against each other.Neither Sana Mir nor Mahira Khan will lose popularity over the controversy — Khan’s fans are supportive of Khan’s appearance in the ad so far, even as some see this as a turning point where South Asian women are starting to voice their resistance to impossible beauty ideals forced upon them in the name of revenue and profit. Social media users have observed that Mahira Khan too has spoken out before against fairness cream ads and has questioned the Pakistani penchant for unnaturally white skin.Previous marketing campaigns for Veet have included Miss Veet, a modeling competition on the lines of America’s Next Top Model. So far, Reckitt Benckiser, which markets Veet in Pakistan and elsewhere in South Asia, has not released any official statement about the current controversy.Bina Shah is a writer living in Karachi, Pakistan. Her forthcoming novel, Before She Sleeps, a feminist dystopian story about women’s lives in a future Middle Eastern society, will be published in August 2018. She tweets @binashah Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.