Dhaka, Aug 20 (AP/UNB) - How do you create a space conducive to creative thinking?
A number of recent books explore the working environments of creative people in search of hints and inspiration.
"They're not highly produced spaces. They are spaces that reflect the real lives of people," says Ted Vadakan, co-author with Angie Myung of the new "Creative Spaces: People, Homes, and Studios to Inspire" (Chronicle Books). They talked with 23 creative people in a range of disciplines.
"One common thread we found is that things were in a state of progress," Vadakan says. "Things often felt sort of unfinished, in the midst of changing. ... The space changes over time as they grow and change and explore."
Put another way, he says, "many creative spaces feel like a continuous work in progress. That was very enlightening to me. It's easy to be critical of ourselves. But we realized that everyone is in that state of constant change and work in progress. They're always trying to be their better selves."
In addition to being comfortable with change, many of the people profiled in the book embraced imperfection, Vadakan said.
"I don't mind dirt and rust, and I like things that don't look spanking new, because it adds a little bit more character," creative director and graphic designer David Irvin says in the book. His elegant but comfortable modern home features a mix of different woods, from teak to plywood.
An abundance of plant life is also a common feature in creative spaces, as are displays of eclectic objects that trigger ideas or memories.
"If you have things that inspire you, like a large bulletin board with inspiring photos, or shelves with inspiring objects, whether natural objects or things that someone has made, it can really help the creative process," says Lorna Aragon, home editor at Martha Stewart Living magazine.
"Having natural elements in your space is also crucial. Bring some of the outdoors in. A view of greenery is important, if that's possible, or bring plants into your space," she says.
Creative spaces also should be orderly, Aragon says, with lots of natural light if possible.
"Clutter does not help you to focus. You want your space to have some order," she says. "And lighting — natural light if at all possible — is very important. It helps productivity and improves moods."
There also should be room to move around and space to create.
For desks, "Size is everything. It's frustrating to work at a desk that is too shallow, but you can equally go too deep — if you're working on a computer or laptop, for example, the ideal distance between your eyes and the screen is only an arm's length," writes Sally Coulthard in "Studio: Creative Spaces for Creative People" (Jacqui Small, London, 2017).
For colors, Aragon favors a light touch.
"I think neutrals are always good because they're not a distraction, but soft blues and greens also are supposed to help with productivity," she says.
Aside from these general themes, creative spaces are as individual and wide-ranging as the minds inhabiting them.
"In a lot of ways, each of these creatives infused their own style and personality in their spaces, and then they allow the spaces to change and grow along with them," Vadakan says.
Los Angeles, Aug 20 (AP/UNB) — Like many urban singles, the mountain lion P-22 lives a solitary life in a too-small habitat. And he has a hard time finding a mate in the big city.
Famous for traveling across two freeways and making a huge Los Angeles park his home, the lonesome big cat has become a symbol of the shrinking genetic diversity of wild animals that must remain all but trapped by sprawling development or risk becoming roadkill.
Hoping to fend off the extinction of mountain lions and other species that require room to roam, transportation officials and conservationists will build a mostly privately funded wildlife crossing over a major Southern California highway. It will give big cats, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes and other creatures a safe route to open space and better access to food and potential mates.
The span along U.S. 101 will only be the second animal overpass in a state where tunnels are more common. Officials say it will be the first of its kind near a major metropolis and the largest in the world, stretching 200 feet (61 meters) above 10 lanes of busy highway and a feeder road just 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of downtown LA.
"When the freeway went in, it cut off an ecosystem. We're just now seeing impacts of that," Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation told The Associated Press.
Scientists tracking mountain lions fitted with GPS collars found roadways are largely trapping animals in the Santa Monica Mountains, which run along the Malibu coast and across the middle of Los Angeles to Griffith Park, where P-22 settled.
"They can't get out of here to get dates, and cats can't get in to get dates. ... For those of us in LA, having a romance prospect quashed by traffic is something we can all relate to," Pratt said.
The result of that isolation, researchers say, is imminent genetic collapse for mountain lions. Habitat loss has driven the populations to inbreeding that could lead to extinction within 15 years unless the big cats regularly connect with other populations to increase their diversity, according to a study published this year by the University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Davis; and the National Park Service.
The $87 million bridge last month entered its final design phase. It's on track for groundbreaking within two years and completion by 2023, according to engineer Sheik Moinuddin, project manager with the California Department of Transportation. Construction will take place mostly at night and won't require any lengthy shutdowns of the 101 freeway, officials said.
Moinuddin said Caltrans considers it a "special" project that the agency hopes will inspire others like it across the state.
One of the reasons it's special is that 80% of the money to build it will come from private sources, Pratt said. She's in charge of fundraising and is using P-22 — "the Brad Pitt of the cougar world" — as the poster cat for the campaign.
"He is world famous, handsome, everybody loves him," she said about the cougar that's been photographed in his park home with the Hollywood sign as a backdrop.
Despite being the face of the project, P-22 is unlikely to use the bridge because he's confined to the park many miles away. But many of his relatives could benefit, Pratt said.
More than $13.5 in private funding has already been raised, Pratt said. Officials are considering offering naming rights to the bridge if an entity or individual — perhaps a Hollywood studio or star — ponies up a significant donation, she said.
The remaining 20% will come from public funds already allocated toward conservation projects, officials said.
Some 300,000 cars a day travel that stretch of the 101 in Agoura Hills, a small city surrounded by a patchwork of protected wildland that the new crossing will connect. Residents regularly spot tarantulas, coyotes and bobcats in their yards and enjoy a short walk to hiking and biking trails that offer sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
Drivers on the busy freeway in the Liberty Canyon area might do a double-take as they speed under a bridge 165 feet (50 meters) wide with brush and trees growing on top, seamlessly joining hillsides on both sides of the lanes.
"And who knows, you might see an animal peeking over as it's crossing," Pratt said.
From the perspective of that animal meandering to or from the Santa Monica Mountains, the topography will hopefully be indistinguishable from the scenery on either side, said architect Clark Stevens. His design will total about 8 acres of landscape — of which the bridge top occupies about an acre.
He's working with biologists and engineers to design berms and hollows with high edges that will block sound and light from the lanes below.
"Ideally the animals will never know they're on a bridge," said Stevens, with the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. "It's landscape flowing over a freeway. It's putting back a piece of the ecosystem that was lost."
Wildlife crossings — bridges and tunnels — are common in western Europe and Canada. A famous one in Banff National Park in Alberta spans the Trans-Canada Highway and is frequently used by bears, moose and elk. The first one in California opened with little fanfare last October near Temecula, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of San Diego.
The Los Angeles-area bridge has enjoyed nearly universal support, unusual for a public works project. The draft environmental impact document received nearly 9,000 comments — with only 15 opposed, according to the NWF.
Agoura Hills resident Fran Pavley, a retired state senator, said one of her neighbors was initially concerned about cost.
"He came on board after learning it would be funded privately," she said.
Stevens said he's encouraged by Caltrans' devotion to the project and its promise to consider more like it.
"Every hole in the freeway ought to be exploited. It's a game of odds," he said. "The more options animals have, the better off they'll be."
Beijing, Aug 20 (AP/UNB) — Scientists are working to develop a vaccine to help guard the world's pork supply as a deadly virus ravages Asia's pig herds.
Farmers have long contained its spread by quarantining and killing infected animals, but the disease's devastating march into East Asia is intensifying the search for another solution.
The virus hadn't been considered as high a priority for researchers until it turned up last year in China, home to half the world's pig population, likely by way of Eastern Europe and Russia. Since then, it has spread to other Asian countries including Vietnam and Taiwan, killing millions of pigs along the way. Though it does not sicken people, the disease is highly contagious and deadly to pigs.
"Today's situation, where you have this global threat, puts a lot more emphasis on this research," said Dr. Luis Rodriguez, who leads the U.S. government lab on foreign animal diseases at Plum Island, New York.
One way to develop a vaccine is to kill a virus before injecting it into an animal. The disabled virus doesn't make the animal sick, but it prompts the immune system to identify the virus and produce antibodies against it. This approach, however, isn't consistently effective with all viruses, including the one that causes African swine fever.
It's why scientists have been working on another type of vaccine, made from a weakened virus rather than a dead one. With African swine fever, the puzzle has been figuring out exactly how to tweak the virus.
In Vietnam, where the virus has killed 3.7 million pigs in six months, the government said this summer it was testing vaccines but provided few details of its program. In China, the government indicated scientists are working on a vaccine that genetically alters the virus, an approach U.S. scientists have been pursuing as well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it recently signed a confidential agreement with a vaccine manufacturer to further research and develop one of Plum Island's three vaccine candidates. The candidates were made by genetically modifying the virus to delete certain genes.
But before a vaccine becomes available, it needs to be tested in large numbers of pigs in secure facilities with isolation pens, waste and carcass incinerators and decontamination showers for staff, said Linda Dixon, a biologist at London's Pirbright Institute, which studies viral diseases in livestock. The process takes two to five years, she said.
The extensive testing is necessary to ensure vaccines made by weakened viruses don't have unintended side effects.
In the 1960s, for instance, Spain and Portugal tested such a vaccine after outbreaks of African swine fever. The treated pigs seemed fine at first, but then lesions broke out on their skin, arthritis locked up their joints and the animals failed to fatten up, said Jose Manuel Sanchez-Vizcaino Rodriguez, who leads a lab focused on African swine fever at the University in Madrid.
The two countries eventually eradicated the disease by enforcing strict sanitary protocols, quarantining and killing infected and carrier pigs.
Even if vaccines become available, they might not work across the globe. Vaccines developed for the virus in China and Europe, for example, might do nothing in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease has been around longer.
A vaccine might be most desirable in places where the disease is widespread, said Daniel Rock, who previously headed Plum Island's African swine fever program. Other countries might prefer the quarantine-and-kill method.
That could be the case in the U.S., where health officials have been training pork producers how to spot and report potential symptoms, which can include bleeding, lethargy and loss of appetite.
Still, Rock said the disease's global spread has made the option of a vaccine a high priority in the U.S.
Geneva, Aug 17 (AP/UNB) — From guitars to traditional medicines and from tusk to tail, mankind's exploitation of the planet's fauna and flora is putting some of them at risk of extinction. Representatives of some 180 nations are meeting in Geneva to agree on protections for vulnerable species, taking up issues including the trade in ivory and the demand for shark fin soup.
The World Wildlife Conference on trade in endangered species, known as CITES, which takes place every three years, aims to make sure that global trade in specimens of wild animals and plants doesn't jeopardize their survival.
The conference opens Saturday and runs through Aug. 28, with key decisions expected to be finalized in the last two days. It had originally been due to take place in Colombo in May and June, but was moved to Geneva after a series of terror attacks in the Sri Lankan capital.
Three months ago, the first comprehensive U.N. report on biodiversity warned that extinction is looming for over 1 million species of plants and animals. There are growing concerns that policymakers aren't acting quickly enough to stop it.
"Business as usual is no longer an option ... The rate of wildlife extinction is accelerating," said CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero in her opening remarks to the conference.
"The assessment confirms that nature's dangerous decline is unprecedented," Higuero said.
The meeting also comes just days after the Trump administration announced plans to water down the U.S. Endangered Species Act — a message that could echo among attendees at the CITES conference, even if the U.S. move is more about domestic policy than international trade.
Alain Berset, head of the home affairs department of host Switzerland, noted that sustainable management of threatened species "of course requires taking into account the interests and the needs of the countries where these species live."
CITES bans trade in some products entirely, while permitting international trade in other species provided it doesn't hurt their numbers in the wild.
Demand is diverse for animal and plant products, prized for their medicinal properties or as pets, culinary delicacies, and products for knitwear and handbags — among many other uses.
Customs officials around the world know to be on the lookout for the CITES logo on shipments of plants and animals across borders: It amounts to a highly respected seal of approval that trade in such species is legitimate.
The meeting's agenda contains 56 proposals to change — mostly strengthen — the level of protection among vulnerable or endangered species. But some argue that protections should be downgraded because the relevant populations have stabilized or even increased. Officials say the decisions are to be based on science, not political or other considerations.
"The new wildlife trade rules ... cover an array of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, trees and other plants. Twenty listing proposals are inspired by concern over the growing appetite of the exotic pet trade for charismatic amphibians and reptiles," CITES says.
Africa is facing an internal debate about elephants and ivory.
Zambia — which argues its population of wild African elephants is large and stable, at about 27,000 — wants to "downlist" that population to allow for ivory stockpile sales and exports of hunting trophies, hides and leathers. A few other countries in southern Africa want another rule on elephants eased. But 10 other countries — all but one African — want total protection for elephants from any international ivory trade.
Israel is even proposing tougher regulations on the legal trade of mammoth ivory, hoping to undercut illegal traffickers of elephant tusk who sneakily try to pass it off as "ice ivory" — ivory that comes from mammoth tusks.
Elephant and mammoth tusks can be almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye, and the mammoth ivory trade has become a booming business. Conference attendees will have to determine whether products from a long-extinct species can or should be covered by CITES.
Advocacy group Avaaz says one key question is whether Japan, home to the world's largest legal ivory market, will join other countries committed to closing their ivory trade.
"Japan's ivory market is fueling the international illegal ivory trade," Avaaz campaigner Andy Legon said in an e-mail. "And with elephants facing extinction, China, the U.S., Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and others have recently committed to closing their ivory markets."
Flora, arguably a less glamorous subject than animal life, also gets spots on the agenda. One proposal, for example, would exempt musical instruments from trade restrictions on a type of rosewood that's prized by guitar makers.
Also on the agenda are sharks. Some researchers say commercial demand for shark fins — largely driven by the Chinese appetite for shark fin soup — is decimating populations.
Sharks are getting some support in high places, including from retired basketball all-star Yao Ming, who led China's Olympic team three times. Yao became a WildAid ambassador in 2006 when he signed a pledge to give up shark fin soup and has since appeared in numerous ads calling for diners to skip the luxury soup to save sharks.
WildAid, an environmental group, also says Yao was instrumental in bringing about China's ivory ban two years ago.
Luke Warwick of the Wildlife Conservation Society said dried shark fin can command up to $1,000 per kilogram, and listing more shark species to the CITES list would be just one of several measures needed to help vulnerable populations of the predators of the deep.
"You've got this huge, unsustainable global trade in shark fin and huge parts of it, 80%, are not regulated, with millions of animals dying," he told a Geneva news conference this week. "We're watching them disappear before our eyes."
Dr. Abdulla Naseer, the Maldives' environment minister, said his island nation supports three proposals to protect 18 species of sharks and rays, namely the mako shark, white-spotted wedgefish and giant guitarfish.
"We would be ensuring future trade is sustainable ... before it's too late," he said. "We want to see the oceans protected for future generations."
Dhaka, August 17th (UNB) - The 13th death anniversary of country’s legendary poet Shamsur Rahman was observed on Saturday.
Different socio-cultural organizations took out various programmes to mark the day.
Jatiya Kabita Parishad and Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote placed wreaths at the grave of the poet at Banani in the morning. The death anniversary of this eminent poet was also observed at his ancestral village in Raipura of Narsingdi through various programmes.
The beloved poet was born on October 23, 1929 at his grandfather’s residence in Mahut-Tuli, Dhaka. He completed his education from Pogose High School, Dhaka College and Dhaka University.
Emerging in the latter half of the 20th century, poet Samsur Rahman achieved nationwide fame with a total of 112 books including 67 books of poetry, four novels, a short story and six translations. He was noted and considered as a key figure in Bengali literature- as well as an urban poet, columnist and journalist.
Throughout his poetic journey, he always focused on themes such as human relationships, romanticism, liberal humanism, democracy, religious fundamentalism, enormous patriotism etc.
He made his professional debut as a journalist for the ‘Daily Morning Sun’ in 1957. In a long career as a journalist, he served as the editor of a national daily named ‘Dainik Bangla’ and the ‘Weekly Bichitra’ in the 1980s.
Rahman’s first book of poetry ‘Prothom Gaan Dwitiyo Mrittyur Agey’ (First Song before the Second Death) was published in 1960. ‘Biddhasta Nilima’ (Destroyed Azure - 1967), ‘Neej Bashbhumay’ (In One’s Own Motherland - 1970) and ‘Bondi Shibir Theke’ (From Confinement in Enemy Territory - 1972) are some of his prominent books of poetry.
He also has translated poetries and published collections such as ‘Robert Froster Kobita’ (1966), ‘Robert Froster Nirbachito Kobita’ (1968) and ‘Khawaja Farider Kobita’ (1968). Apart from that, he also translated William Shakespeare’s much acclaimed drama ‘Hamlet’ into Bengali.
Rabindra Bharati University and Jadavpur University of India conferred honorary D.Lit. degrees upon him. He was also honored with many national and international awards like Adamjee Award, Bangla Academy Award for literature (poetry) in 1969, Jibanananda Das Puroshkar in 1973, Ekushey Padak in 1977, Kabitalap Puroshkar in 1979, Abul Mansur Gold Medal in 1981, Bhasani Purosker in 1982 and Mitsubishi (Japan) Award for Journalism in 1982.
This legendary poet died at the age of 76 on 17th August, 2006 of heart and kidney failure- after having been in a coma for 12 days at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).