Mark Obama Ndesandjo, President Barack Obama’s half brother is interviewed by Fox News’ Sean Hannity. He agreed to the interview to promote his new book ‘Cultures: My Odyssey of Self-Discovery,’ which covers the intense encounters with Barack over the years. In the explosive book, he also offers painful details about the domestic abuse from their late father, and explains Barack’s strong affinity for African culture.
Their father, who died in a car crash in 1982 at age 46, was mostly an absent figure in their lives. Ndesandjo takes issue with many stories told in Barack’s 1995 autobiography, ‘Dreams from My Father.” Once such issue involves a quote wrongly attributed to Ndesandjo’s mother:
“It’s a correction. A lot of the stuff that Barack wrote is wrong in that book and I can understand that because to me for him the book was a tool for fashioning an identity and he was using composites,” Ndesandjo said.
“I wanted to bring it up because first of all I wanted the record to be straight. I wanted to tell my own story, not let people tell it for me,” he said.
The book also recalls alcohol-fueled beatings his father gave his mother. He even recounts one incident in which his father held a knife to his mother’s throat because she took out a restraining order in the courts against him.
However, throughout his conversation with Hannity, it seems clear that Ndesandjo knows more about Barack than he’s willing to admit. For how open he is about past-family pain, he is cautiously guarded about just what he thinks about Barack. Why do you think that is? Please leave us a comment and let us know.
Three years after the New York metro area was devastated by the US Northeast’s most destructive storm in history, Manhattan is set to undergo a flood-proof transformation that could change the very shape of the iconic island.
With more than $19 billion in damages to New York City alone, Hurricane Sandy was one of the United States’ most costly storms. Bridges, roads and tunnels were left in ruins, some 305,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and more than eight million people lost power, some of them for weeks.
After years of rehabilitation, New York today is looking towards a disaster-free future.
The city’s first-ever recovery and resiliency director, Daniel Zarrilli, is driving an ambitious project to reshape Manhattan’s coastlines in order to keep flood waters out when the storm comes in.
Sandy was a wake-up call for New York, Zarrilli says, and “there is no time to waste”. While much of the city sits higher than many world metropolises, lower Manhattan isn’t much further from the rising tides than Venice or Amsterdam, and yet, little has so far been done to protect it.
“Before Sandy there was no roadmap, no clear next step,” Zarrilli told a summit on urban planning in New York on Friday. “But the key lesson learnt is that this is not something that’s going to happen to us 100 years from now. This is something that’s happening now.”
Zarrilli said it was near impossible to get funding for climate-change related projects before Sandy hit. Today, the city is close to guaranteeing almost a billion dollars to safeguard Manhattan from future storms.
Much of that money will finance bold designs by Danish architecture firm the Bjarke Ingels Group, or “BIG,” which staved off fierce global competition in its bid to build the critical defences for Manhattan, with a multipurpose, sustainable and spectacular-looking prevention plan.
BIG’s “Dryline” (originally called the “Big U” for its shape), acts as a coastal barrier of raised land and deployable walls, but also provides a ribbon of much-needed public space on a cut of the island where skyscrapers dominate.
Speaking to FRANCE 24, BIG spokesperson Daria Pahhota summed it up as “both physical and social resiliency,” pointing out the importance of waterfront accessibility. Until recently, New Yorkers paid little attention to the water that surrounds them. Today, the Hudson and East rivers are recognised as a boon to the city, with parks, bars and art installations springing up along the water’s edge (a similar transformation has been taking place elsewhere, notably in Paris)
The Dryline initiative has been applauded for turning an environmental quagmire into an urban opportunity, and has already won several prizes around the world for its ingenuity.
“It’s a response to a direct and imminent threat, one we can no longer rationalise nor ignore,” New York-based architect Ben Olschner told FRANCE 24. “But it’s also a compelling attempt to make a playful fortress. The playfulness distracts us from any real danger the city might perceive”.
The entire project covers 10 miles of the Manhattan coastline, but the city’s projected one-billion dollar budget will only fund around three miles of the work.
Zarrilli’s office, acting under left-wing mayor Bill de Blasio, has chosen to fund a largely poor and particularly vulnerable stretch of the so-called “Big U” running from 23rd Street on the Lower East Side to Battery Park on the lower tip of the island. Areas covered include Chinatown, Alphabet City, two major social housing developments and critically, the Con Edison power plant that exploded when water poured in from the East River during Hurricane Sandy, leaving millions without electricity.
City officials are quietly hoping that the rest of the “Big U” project will be privately funded, as developers point out that if only a part of the island is protected, then water might easily overwhelm other areas.
“Water moves on its own, it doesn’t have boundaries,” Eric Kaufmann, head of sustainability group The Natural Resilience Fund and a leading advocate of the Dryline project, told FRANCE 24. “Water is not going to stop at 23rd Street.”
Kaufman is hopeful for the rest of the project – it’s not unusual in New York for public space initiatives to be privately funded (Central Park being the prime example), and climate change is considered a real threat by a majority of the city, which is crucial in a country where only 48 percent of the population views global warming as “happening and a result of human activity”. In New York that number is 70 percent.
Eric Kaufman, a public advocate of the Dryline, says that once the work has been completed, Lower Manhattan should be protected for the next century. © Sophie Pilgrim
.“When the very fabric of our life in the city is threatened, impossibly large projects suddenly find themselves becoming quite feasible because we have a common enemy to unify us,” Olschner argues, while pointing to New York’s failure to act on other issues, such as the dire public transport links between the five boroughs of New York.
Changing the shape of Manhattan?
Looking even further ahead, Zarrilli’s office is examining proposals to expand Manhattan into the East River, building a multi-purpose levee with some 20,000 homes on it. Authorities have ruled the plan “technically, legally and financially feasible,” but it is likely to face fierce opposition from residents on the current waterfront, whose view of Long Island would be blocked by new towers, half of which are planned to house low-income New Yorkers.
Kaufman, who acts as a bridge between the city and residents, expects “10 or 15 years of fighting” before locals agree to the project. The levee is hoped to be finished by 2050. BIG is hoping to break ground for the Dryline in 2017 and finish the first of three stages within four to five years.
But even if the entire "U" and the levee are built, they may not protect the island for much more than a century. Sea levels are expected to rise by three feet (90 centimetres) by 2100 – which the 19-foot Dryline and levee would handily tackle – but some scientists say the world’s ice caps could melt more quickly. If Greenland and Canada’s ice caps alone were to disappear, water would start pouring into lower Manhattan.
While Kaufman is a keen advocate of the Dryline, he sees it as a short-term solution to a problem that generations to come will inevitably be left to handle.
“As human beings we don’t think much longer than 50 to 80 years ahead,” he said. “Will Mother Nature wait for us to get our s**t together? Probably not. But you’ve got to do something.”
Olschner agrees that the Dryline is Manhattan’s best bet, at least for the time being.
“When the floods come, they might come quietly,” he said. “But in the meantime, we have a playground for adults and children alike to enjoy. We will certainly have a richer and better city because of it.”
The U.S. State Department updated its travel warning on Turkey on Saturday, ordering family members of consulate employees in Istanbul to leave the country, citing threats against U.S. citizens.
“The Department of State made this decision based on security information indicating extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to attack U.S. citizens in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent,” the department said in a statement.
The State Department said the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul remains open and said the order does not apply to any other U.S. diplomatic posts in Turkey.
Saturday’s warning updates previous State Department advisories of “increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey.” The department advises U.S. citizens to avoid travel to southeast Turkey and also advises caution on the risks of travelling anywhere in the country, reports Reuters.
Obama, Putin Talks 'Surprisingly Open' After Frosty Beginning
US President Barack Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin called for cooperation to bringing an end to the war in Syria on Monday, but clashed over whether any peace plan should include Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
Addressing the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, Obama said the US would be willing to work with both Russia and Iran to find a solution to the bloodshed that has ravaged Syria since civil war broke out more than four years ago.
“The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” Obama said. "But we must recognise that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.”
In voicing a willingness to deal with Iran and Russia, both staunch backers of Assad, Obama was openly acknowledging their influence in Syria and swallowing a somewhat bitter pill for the United States.
Obama was adamant over Washington’s continued refusal to support Assad, referring to him as a “tyrant” who “drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children”.
However, he did not explicitly call for Assad’s ouster and he suggested there could be a “managed transition” away from his rule, the latest sign that despite US hostility towards the Syrian leader, it is willing to see him stay for some period of time.
The rise of the Islamic State (IS) group, as well an influx of Syrian refugees in Europe, has pressed some Western leaders into softening their stance on cooperation with Iran, Russia and even Assad in establishing peace in Syria.
'Enormous mistake to shun Assad'
Putin, speaking after Obama, called for a “broad coalition” of international actors in dealing with the conflict, particularly in combating the IS jihadist group, which has capitalised on the chaos in the country to gain huge swathes of territory.
But the Russian leader reaffirmed Moscow’s belief that support for Assad was the best way to stop the spread of the IS and other extremist groups.
“We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face,” Putin told the General Assembly.
“We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and (Kurdish) militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organisations in Syria,” he said.
Tehran has armed the Syrian government and, through its backing of Hezbollah fighters, helped Assad fight rebels seeking to end his family’s four-decade rule. Russia has recently engaged in a military build-up in Syria, where it has a naval base that serves as its foothold in the Middle East.
The two leaders held a bilateral meeting later in the day, reaffirming their differences on Assad. A US official, speaking anonymously, told AP that the pair agreed to discuss a political transition in Syria, but remained at odds about what that would mean for the Syrian leader’s future.
The official said Obama and Putin’s 90-minute meeting – their first in two years – was dominated by discussions of the crises in Syria and Ukraine.
Putin said Russia had not ruled out joining air strikes against the IS group in Syria but would not send ground troops into combat.
The Russian leader said the talks were "very good, business-like and frank".
US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters outside the meeting that the talks were “very constructive”.
Few people in the history of money have made more than a billion dollars in a single day. It’s an elite club whose sparse ranks–which you probably don’t need more than two hands to tally–are held by the biggest of the boldface hedge-funders and tech-titans, including George Soros, Jeff Bezos and, well, you guessed it, Mark Zuckerberg.
One day this past January, Zuckerberg made $6 billion in the 24 hours following a particularly rosy Facebook quarterly earnings report. That’s $250 million an hour, $4,166,667 a minute, $69,444 a second. Median American household annual income was $53,657 at last count, meaning Zuckerberg made 29% more in a single second than a typical American family makes in an entire year. Even in the winner-take-all, second-Gilded-Age we’re currently in, that’s still a lot of gravy. And in the 50 minutes average Facebook users squander each day watching sneezing baby panda videos and wondering why all of their friends seem to take more fabulous vacations than they do, Zuckerberg made more than $200 million (at least they can take solace in the fact that Zuckerberg probably takes more fabulous vacations than all of their friends combined).
A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.
While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who asked for anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the penetration of the nation’s electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability. Government and utility industry officials regularly monitor the nation’s electrical grid because it is highly computerized and any disruptions can have disastrous implications for the function of medical and emergency services.
American officials, including one senior administration official, said they are not yet sure what the intentions of the Russians might have been. The penetration may have been designed to disrupt the utility’s operations or as a test by the Russians to see whether they could penetrate a portion of the grid.
Federal officials have shared the malware code used in Grizzly Steppe with utility executives nationwide, a senior administration official said, and Vermont utility officials identified it within their operations.
While it is unclear which utility reported the incident, there are just two major utilities in Vermont, Green Mountain Power and Burlington Electric.
According to a report by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, the hackers involved in the Russian operation used fraudulent emails that tricked their recipients into revealing passwords.
The Russians have been accused in the past of launching a cyberattack on Ukraine’s electrical grid, something they have denied. Cybersecurity experts say a hack in December 2015 destabilized Kiev’s power grid, causing a blackout in part of the Ukrainian capital. On Thursday, Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russian of waging a cyber war on his country that has entailed 6,500 attacks against Ukranian state institutions over the past two months.
A DHS spokesman declined to comment on the matter Friday - The Washington Post