Saturday, October 31, 2015

Young Boy Recalls Earthquake Scare

Amber Shakil /
Ahmed Iqbal, 11, had an earthquake experience that scared him.

By Amber Shakil
Junior Reporter
LAHORE, Pakistan – An earthquake can be really scary, especially for a child.
Eleven-year-old Ahmed Iqbal of Lahore, Pakistan, remembered what happened when he felt an earthquake for the first time this week.
The earthquake struck northern Afghanistan Monday, Oct. 26, and measured a magnitude of 7.5. People felt it around the region, in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Ahmed said that he was in his house when he started to feel the vibrations. He was standing, Ahmed said, talking to his cousins. One of the cousins was lying on a couch and they all were talking and laughing.
Then suddenly, they all felt some shaking. His cousin fell off the sofa and Ahmed tripped.
Then his mother and brother realized that it was an earthquake and all of them got out of the house and sat in the lawn by the wall.
“I was so scared at that time that I had no idea that what was happening, why are we sitting on the ground and why everything is shaking,” the boy said. “I saw the fans moving like they are gonna drop.”
Just as they were thinking that they should move, because if the earthquake didn't stop, the wall could fall on them, a large branch of the tree fell just a few inches in front of them.
They all got really scared, Ahmed said, and began to reading holy verses. Finally, the shaking stopped and their maid came from the backyard and asked them to come into the backyard as it was safer than the front lawn.
Ahmed and his family went there and waited in case there were any aftershocks and his mother contacted their family members to make sure that they were okay. 
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Friday, October 30, 2015

In Pursuit Of The Snitch: A Quidditch Match

Members of the Middlebury College Quidditch team mid-match on an October afternoon. Click on this photo or any other to enlarge the image.

Story and Photos By Kiernan Majerus-Collins
MIDDLEBURY, Vermont, U.S.A. – Fans of the bestselling Harry Potter fantasy series might have believed that Quidditch – a magical sport described in the books – only exists in the imagination. But they clearly haven't met the Middlebury College Quidditch team.
In real life, Quidditch is played reasonably faithfully to author J. K. Rowling's vision, minus, of course, magic.
At Middlebury College, where real life Quidditch began 10 years ago, the game is open to students of all skill levels. Some are serious athletes, but others are just playing for fun. The rules say each side must have at least two players of each sex.
Practices and matches take place on a large grassy field in the center of campus. Goal posts – which are hula hoops positioned about six feet off the ground – are set at each end.
Middlebury College Quidditch brooms
In a Quidditch game, there are seven players on the field at a time for each team. There's the keeper, who plays a goalie-like role and three chasers, who try to get a volleyball called the quaffle through the hoop. Two beaters on each team bring elements of dodgeball into the game by throwing rubber balls called bludgers at other players to halt their progress.
If a beater successfully hits a player with a bludger, that player is out and must run back to their own goalpost and touch it before resuming play.
Perhaps most important of all are the seekers, whose job it is to find and catch the snitch.
The Middlebury College Quidditch team is made up of serious athletes and others who are just playing for fun.
At Harry Potter’s school, Hogwarts, of course, the snitch is a golden, enchanted ball with wings, but at Middlebury, the snitch is a person. Middlebury’s snitch, Boone McCoy-Crisp, is dressed all in yellow, and attempts to avoid capture by either side's seeker.
Sometimes players find themselves running past the giant trees near the field.
Teams get points by getting a quaffle through the hoop and more points for catching the snitch. Catching the snitch means snatching a sock, filled with tennis balls, that is tucked into the back of the snitch’s pants and hangs out like a tail.
When a seeker catches the snitch, the game is over.
In order to level the playing field, the snitch gets the opportunity to hide at the beginning of the game. All players must close their eyes while the snitch gets a head start.
Middlebury College Quidditch team snitch, Boone McCoy-Crisp, is on the run away from the field.
Snitch Boone McCoy-Crisp takes a breather in a tree. He said he got tired of running and wanted a rest.
Since there are no boundaries to the Quidditch field, things can get pretty absurd. In a match earlier this month, the snitch took refuge in a tree, and in games past his hiding places included buildings all over campus – even the chapel steeple!
In order to keep with the lighted-hearted spirit of the game – and simulate the flying on broomsticks that Harry Potter and his pals do when they play Quidditch – players are required to hold a broom between their legs at all times. Only the snitch is allowed to run without a broom.
Everyone except the snitch has to keep a broom between his or her legs while playing.
Middlebury isn’t the only school with a Quidditch team, but it was the first. Students also play on school teams in Florida, Ohio, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, California, Connecticut and elsewhere.
You may not see Quidditch in the Olympics anytime soon, but at Middlebury and other colleges that dare to embrace the magic, members of the Harry Potter generation are bringing their childhood dreams to life.

Even Vermont's Green Mountains in the background aren't a distraction for the team. Click on any photo to enlarge it. 
Tabitha Mueller, a second-year student at Middlebury College from Oregon who is a seeker on the school Quidditch team, tries to capture the snitch, Boone McCoy-Crisp, another Middlebury student.
Snitch Boone McCoy-Crisp has some fun taking the broom away from seeker Tabitha Mueller, who is trying to capture him.
Seeker Tabitha Mueller in blue, is trying to catch the snitch, Boone McCoy-Crisp, wearing yellow.
Snitch Boone McCoy-Crisp runs past the goals at one end of the field with seeker Tabitha Mueller in hot pursuit.
Exhausted but victorious, seeker Tabitha Mueller carries the prize, the balls stuffed in a sock that she was able to snatch from the snitch in her left hand, and - the game now over - her broom in the right.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Facing Staggering Tuition Hikes, South African Students Protest - And Win, For Now

Bradley Andrews /
Stellenbosch University students gather on the Rooiplein at midnight to hear from organizers of the #feesmustfall movement to lower tuition and make university education affordable. Click on the photo to enlarge.

By Megan Higgo
Junior Reporter
STELLENBOSCH, South Africa – Students all over the country brought institutions to a standstill this past week in a nationwide protest campaign known as #FeesMustFall.
The protests began in response to significant proposed tuition increases of up to 11.5 percent for the upcoming year – a jump that would make tertiary education unaffordable for the majority of South African students.
 A spark of defiance was lit at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where mass student protests criticising the fee increase made it impossible for the university to continue functioning normally. Soon, universities across the country were forced to shut down due to powerful protest action from students.
At Stellenbosch University outside of Cape Town, the leaders of the #FeesMustFall movement made it clear from the get-go that they intended their protests to be peaceful, disrupting the university without harming anyone or causing any property damage.
And so it began.

Occupying the administration building

A group of more than 60 students occupied the university’s main administration buildings starting Monday, October 19. They vowed to stay there until management was willing to engage with them to discuss their demand: a zero percent increase in tuition fees.
No such engagement was made.
One of the student leaders, Kara Meiring, a second-year law student who chairs the Stellenbosch University Societies’ Council, made a public Twitter post shortly before midnight.
"Management is NOT here and they are NOT engaging with us," she wrote.
Students taking part in the occupation sent out updates
on social media, like this one posted on Twitter. Click to enlarge.
About 4 a.m. the next morning, the protesters were served a court order and given two options: Peacefully vacate the building within 30 minutes, or be liable for arrest.
Riot officers soon entered the building, but no arrests were made.
Fear spread among the occupants of the building.
More than eight uneasy hours later, the ultimatum was repeated: Peacefully vacate the building within 30 minutes, or be liable for arrest.
Forty-six members of the movement decided to stay and face arrest peacefully in the name of their cause. The police, however, did not arrest them.
"The police refused to arrest us, and, instead, resorted to violence against us," said Lovelyn Nwadeyi, a leader of the #FeesMustFall movement in Stellenbosch and a participant in the sit-in. 
"They were beating people, they were shoving and pushing people,” Nwadeyi said. “I had to remove a girl whose neck was stuck between two of their shields."
Outside the building's entrance, Lwazi Pakade, a member of the Student Representative Council, addressed the crowd of traumatized and crying students that had formed.
"They can expel me,” Pakade said. “They can arrest me. I am here for the students."
Asked for clarification about the events that had taken place inside, police officers at the scene declined comment.
Bradley Andrews /
A student at Stellenbosch University holds a sign protesting tuition fees.

University response, then a mass march

On Tuesday, the university posted a statement on its Facebook page, calling the student protest an “illegal occupation,” but promising to keep discussions open.
The management of Stellenbosch University remains committed to continue with discussions with students on the issue of student fees, despite the illegal occupation of a university building that commenced on Monday afternoon.
In its Facebook post, the university said police cleared the building only after students refused to leave and ignored the court order.
The following two days saw a rise in support from students, lecturers and members of the public alike. People all over the country - and beyond - took to social media to share their grievances with the increasingly unaffordable tuition fees.
The movement also gained a large amount of criticism from students and members of the public who saw the protests as disruptive, disorderly and unreasonable.
On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the Stellenbosch University Student Representative Council organized a mass march against the fee increases.
A couple of many Twitter posts in support of #FeesMustFall.
Click to enlarge.
Riot police monitoring the march – which was peaceful – declined comment on why they were carrying tear gas.
Not everyone on Twitter supported #FeesMustFall.
Prior to a press briefing on Wednesday following protests in Cape Town, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande apparently didn’t realize the cameras were already rolling when he joked with people near him.
“If the students don’t accept this, we’ll start our own movement – students must fall,” Nzimande said, chortling heartily.
Bradley Andrews /
Students at Stellenbosch University march against fee increases. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Students gather at midnight

Then, on Thursday night, hundreds of students gathered for a midnight mass meeting on the University's central plaza, known as the "Rooiplein," to discuss the plan of action for the following day.
Friday, Oct. 23 was the last day of class for the year.
Nwadeyi spoke, encouraging all students to support the movement, specifically addressing the many white students present.
Megan Higgo /
A South African newspaper's chart of the
proposed fee increases. Click to enlarge.
"We cannot have you only show up at night, and not show up during the day,” Nwadeyi said. “Tomorrow is probably going to be our last opportunity to really make a clear statement. We need this turnout ... we can no longer be seen as a group of noisy black students."
The encouragement worked.
The next morning, protest action throughout the campus was in full storm. All across the country, citizens were in uproar. A shutdown seemed inevitable.
Students at Stellenbosch took to the streets in preparation for a public meeting with the University's rector, Prof. Wim de Villiers.  
Faith Pienaar, a postgraduate student and a leader of the #StelliesFeesMustFall collective, addressed the rector and the crowd.
"I want this institution to open the doors of access. We want this institution to transform," Pienaar said.
At the same time, far away in the South African capital of Pretoria, thousands of students marched to the Union Building, awaiting an address from President Jacob Zuma.

Uneasy resolution

Bradley Andrews /
The document signed by
Prof. Wim de Villiers, committing
to a zero percent fee increase
for 2016. Click on the photo
to enlarge.
After further engagement with the movement's leaders at Stellenbosch, de Villiers gave in to student demands and agreed to support the zero percent increase, lift the court order and allow students an extra week to prepare for examinations. A document was written up and signed.
Shortly thereafter, in another part of the country, Zuma announced that there would be no increase in university fees for the upcoming year.
Although most demonstrations have stopped, there are still one or two campuses where protests rage on, according to local news reports. And many students seem to feel that this is just the beginning.
"We want to see free education in our own lifetime," said Nwadeyi, with determination. 

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Perfect Fall Day - Until The Earthquake

By Arooj Khalid
Senior Reporter
LAHORE, Pakistan – The crisp autumn air, running over to classes, grabbing a sandwich from the cafeteria, students whining about midterm exams – Monday was a normal day at my university – until the earthquake.
After taking my last class, I was enjoying the company of some friends, sitting on the second floor of a building that overlooked an indoor fountain. As the friendly squabbles went on, suddenly I felt the floor vibrate intensely and when it didn’t stop, I looked around.
No one seemed to have noticed anything at all except the friend sitting next to me who nodded in acceptance: it was an earthquake.
It didn’t seem like it was high magnitude and for a few seconds, it paused. Then, there was a huge shock. It felt like the whole building was moving right to left in front of my eyes.
Chills ran down my spine as everyone moved to the exit. I looked for a safe place, a door, desk or chair, but some professors asked us to go for the open ground.
We descended the stairs and came outside to a small crowd of confused and terrified students. Some of them, who had been having a midterm exam, held their answer sheets in their hands.
Some students looked seriously freaked out and were praying for God’s mercy, while others didn’t let go of their humor, even in this sinister situation.
We waited around for a short time and I got a call from home to make sure I was all right. I couldn’t reply to the many texts I received asking about safety or send any others because the mobile networks seemed jammed.
This earthquake brought back memories of the one in 2005, when, on October 8, Pakistan suffered one of its biggest natural disasters.
I was reminded of the thousands of people who lost their lives and the millions injured because of the ferocity of nature. For months after, every citizen in the less affected areas worked to save those in more affected areas.
Donations, food, blankets, toys and other items were collected and camps were set up all over the country to help and provide residence to the displaced people.
My heart wondered if this earthquake had been as catastrophic as that one. Only later did I come to know that it was even worse. More than one country is impacted by this earthquake, which means people should unify, put their differences behind them and work together to repair the damage.
In some sense it feels like Mother Nature is taking revenge upon humanity for damaging so much of her natural resources and beauty. Let’s hope for mercy now, and not more casualties.
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Delhi Area Residents Recall Earthquake

By Jereme Kennedy
Junior Reporter
CHENNAI, India – As a strong earthquake struck Afghanistan Monday afternoon, people felt the tremors in Delhi and surrounding areas.
According to the U.S. Geological survey the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.5 and occurred at a depth of 210 kilometres with its epicenter near the Hindukush mountain range in Afghanistan.
Jacob Manohar from Delhi, who is working with Ministry of Urban Development of India shared his experience.
“It was another day of work. We were doing our scheduled works. Around 2:40 p.m. we felt the tremor,” Manohar said.
“All of my colleague panicked and rushed out of the office building. But I felt it is not wise to do so. Being a structural engineer and having experience earthquake once in Port Blair I know I can rely on the beams,” said Manohar.
He said he took a position near a beam, prayed and kept an eye on the fire extinguisher in the balcony.
“The tremor lasted for 80 seconds,” said Manohar. “Things were back to normal in 30 minutes.”
Ambrose Thambi, who lives north of Delhi in Sonepat, Haryana, said everyone around him was in a panic and remained in the streets for many hours after feeling the tremor.
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Monday, October 26, 2015

The Earth Shook, Ignoring National Borders

By Harsha Mishra
Senior Reporter
GURGAON, Haryana, India – There are a few times in your life when you suddenly realize that maybe this moment is going to be the biggest tragedy of your life. This afternoon a little past 2 p.m., I had the same feeling, and for the second time in this year.
Sitting at my desk in my office, sipping coffee, I heard my colleague say, "Earthquake."
It was just a few seconds, but those 40 seconds were the most terrifying 40 seconds of the year. 
First the safety wardens tried calming every one down as we were not supposed to leave the building during the tremors. But as people realized that they are nowhere near to a halt, everyone started moving towards the emergency exits.
Once we reached the open ground, news started to come in about the epicenter and the amount of damage that the earthquake caused. 
It was Nepal the last time, and Afghanistan this time, but India has felt the tremors both times.
I wish my friends in Afghanistan and Pakistan are all fine and I hope to hear from then soon. These are not only my words, but what I heard all day long from every person I spoke with about today's earthquake.
Maybe this is the way that nature has chosen to make us realize that we are neighbors and we are one. It is us who will help each other at the time of need.
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Earthquake Shook The Ground, But It Also Rattled Students At Her Pakistani School

By Hafsa Ahmed
Junior Reporter
LAHORE, Pakistan – Hearing evacuation alarms never fails to evoke feelings of extremity. Hearing evacuation alarms while the 20-feet-tall windows of your school building rattle furiously and the ground below you shakes with an untamed ferocity results in a whole new kind of desperation.
I experienced that feeling today, when one of the strongest earthquakes in Pakistan’s history hit the country today.
It was around 2 p.m. local time, and I was immersed in a chemistry text book in a far upper corner of the school. Suddenly, I felt as if a tremor had shaken through the floor. Discounting it as a mere misapprehension, I went back to the world of ionic equilibriums and solubility products.
A few moments passed. Before I knew it, the ground began to shake like anything. Realizing the gravity of the situation, I stood up at once and made my way down the stairwell as carefully as possible.
Other students were going through the same drill. In moments, anxious kids filled the entirety of the grounds. Unable to contact their parents – communication signals were down – many students looked disoriented.
The earthquake came in waves, with a respite of four to five seconds in between. Though it lasted barely a few minutes, the magnitude was 7.5, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
This map from the U.S. Geological Survey shows the region and the epicenter of the earthquake.
Pakistanis are not unfamiliar with quakes of such extent. In the month of October, exactly 10 years ago, a similar earthquake left the people shocked beyond comprehension.
There were more than a few students who remembered clearly the horror we all experienced a decade ago. With those memories still clear in their minds, today’s quake undoubtedly took a toll on many young minds.
With the epicenter of the earthquake north of Kabul, near the Afghan border with Pakistan, citizens in Lahore encountered only the tail end of the earthquake. Landslides in the mountainous terrains have left people trapped, awaiting rescue.
With the Pakistani news organization Dawn reporting more than 200 dead and many more injured – and the numbers are rising – today marks a grave tragedy for the nation.
We are on a high alert for a probable after-shock, which is estimated to occur within a day, and praying for the well-being of the affected families. 
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Earthquake Safety 101: Don't Run

By Amber Shakil
Junior Reporter
LAHORE, Pakistan – Today was a good day. My friends and I were enjoying the weather. Around 2 o’clock we were sitting on the college grounds when we felt some vibrations.
At first, we didn’t give it a thought, but after a few seconds we realized that it was an earthquake. In the beginning, it was not that fast and after approximately a minute, it stopped.
I could feel every vibration, as I was sitting on the ground. But then it started again and this time it was too fast and all of us got scared.
Around me, girls started screaming and soon everyone came out of their classes.
A few of those who made the mistake of running fell down.
If you are ever in an earthquake, DO NOT run. Find a solid table and get under it to protect yourself from falling debris, or walk carefully out of the building.
During the earthquake, I could feel the hard ground moving like a water wave. I got so scared that I started reciting holy verses.
The whole earthquake lasted for two or three minutes. After that, everyone tried to contact their loved ones, but because of the earthquake there wasn’t any mobile phone service.
Even telephone land lines and internet service was gone for 15 to 20 minutes. After that time, people were able to contact each other and felt a little bit relaxed.
When I reached home I listened to the news and learned that the quake’s center was in Afghanistan. Many people are dead and even more injured and there could be aftershocks.

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Earthquake - Feeling Tremors In Pakistan

Map from the U.S. Geological Survey showing Northern Afghanistan as the epicenter of the October 26, 2015 earthquake.
By Irha Nadeem
Junior Reporter
LAHORE, Pakistan – Everything seemed normal. Life was going in the usual way until at 2:09 p.m., Pakistan Standard Time, we were hit by an earthquake.
My personal experience was quite a scary one. I was at home with my sister and my mother, sitting on my bed when I felt the earthquake.
I could see the fan swinging. The next moment there were stronger tremors and I could hear the doors and glass windows rattling.
As we live on second floor in an apartment building, I could feel the tremors quite well. We rushed out of our apartment and went outside the building. About five minutes later, when things seemed to cool down, we went inside and got more news about it.
The earthquake, measured by the U.S. Geological Survey at 7.5, struck about 158 miles – or 254 km – northeast of Kabul, Afghanistan near the Hindu-Kush mountain range. It was felt by people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
It’s still unclear how many people died or were hurt.
Since the quake, there is a high alert situation in Pakistan. The northern mountain areas have been most affected, with landslides and melting or breaking glaciers.
Local news channels here are reporting massive property damage in the affected areas.
This earthquake is one of the strongest in the history of Pakistan. In 2005, an earthquake of about 7.6 magnitude killed at least 86,000 people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Let's pray this one doesn’t claim so many lives. 
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Saturday, October 24, 2015

I'm Demisexual - Meet Me In The Middle

By Robert Mooney
RICHMOND, North Yorkshire, U.K. – Somewhere along the sexuality spectrum, about halfway between asexual and sexual, is demisexual.
That’s where I recently found myself.
Demisexual is in the middle, with Demi being Latin for half and the rest is self-explanatory. What many people don’t realize is that demisexuality isn’t a choice. It’s just who I am.
While according to some, this is a sexuality that originated on Tumblr, I really identify with it.
So what does this all mean? In real terms, while it may be a taboo subject, demisexuals only feel sexual attraction towards very few people and only towards those they have a strong emotional bond with, such as their boyfriend or girlfriend.
Even then, it doesn’t mean they have to act on that attraction.
Being able to finally put a name to what I was feeling for at least a year is a good thing. And being demisexual does not mean I am not straight.
Those who identify with the label can have all sorts of gender preferences, but mainly, they feel secondary attraction first. This means they often would like a person for their personality and emotional connection before aesthetic attraction, or what they can immediately see.
Admittedly, having felt like this for a year and a bit and only having put a name to it in the last few weeks, I’m still getting round the concept in my head, but as far as I can see, it’s no bad thing.
Asexuality, despite being not as well promoted as the LGBT movement, is genuine, and it is finally good to know that I’m not just the odd one out.
On the other hand, it is important to point out the difference between sexual attraction and sexual desire. While both relate to the feeling of being close enough to someone to have sexual contact with them, sexual attraction is merely the feeling of feeling close enough to someone that you could have sex. Sexual desire is when a person wants to act on this.
I also have epilepsy, and some of the medication I take has an impact on my drive for these sorts of feelings, but I know that not all of what I am feeling is down to that.
I hope that Asexual Awareness Week – from Oct. 19 to 25 – will lead to better understanding among people.
In the end, being demisexual doesn’t make me weird, just different. I couldn’t think of a better way to come out that through something I am really dedicated to, my journalism. If I have helped anyone through writing this, I am glad.
I really hope that people can accept it and me as I am. If you would like to read more about the asexual spectrum, please visit the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network at
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