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Girish Karnad, veteran actor and playwright, dies at 81

MUMBAI: Jnanpith award winning playwright, actor and director Girish Karnad died at his residence early Monday morning, aged 81.

Karnad was a prominent playwright for four decades, often using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues. His plays have been translated into English and several Indian languages and directed by directors like Ebrahim Alkazi, BV Karanth, Alyque Padamsee, Prasanna, Arvind Gaur, Satyadev Dubey, Vijaya Mehta, Shyamanand Jalan, Amal Allana and Zafer Mohiuddin.

He was conferred the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India and has won four Filmfare Awards, of which three are Filmfare Award for Best Director – Kannada and the fourth a Filmfare Best Screenplay Award.

US billionaire pays of $ 40 m debt of 400 students

ATLANTA, May 20: Sunday was already a day of joy and pride for the graduating class at historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia -- and then it got a whole lot better.

Robert F Smith, an African-American businessman with a fortune estimated at $4.4 billion, told the new graduating class that he plans to pay off the entirety of their student debt: an estimated $40 million.

Of course, Smith received a thunderous round of applause from the 400 graduates -- and from their parents.

"My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans," Smith told the assemblage, according to the college's Twitter account.

"This is my class," said Smith, who was at the ceremony to receive an honorary degree.

"I know my class will pay this forward" and help improve the lives of other black Americans.

Smith had earlier this year announced a $1.5 million donation to the school, but Sunday's news came as a surprise even to staff at Morehouse, according to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

A spokesman said it was the biggest gift in the history of the school, whose graduates include civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, filmmaker Spike Lee and actor Samuel L Jackson.

"If I could do a backflip, I would," Elijah Dormeus, a business major, told the newspaper. "I am deeply ecstatic."

He said he has $90,000 in student debt. His mother, Andrea Dormeus, is a school bus driver in New York's Harlem neighborhood.

Smith, a graduate of Cornell and Columbia universities, founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000, and by 2015 had become the richest African-American, according to Forbes magazine, with a fortune surpassing even that of billionaire celebrity (and fellow Morehouse donor) Oprah Winfrey.

In recent years, the soaring costs of college education -- and the rising number of defaults -- have made student debt a growing national issue, addressed by many of the Democrats seeking their party's presidential nomination.

Total student debt now exceeds $1.5 trillion, according to the Fitch ratings agency.

So at least at Morehead, Robert Smith had folks breathing a sigh of relief on Sunday.

Charles Releford Jr., the father of one newly minted graduate and of a second son in Morehouse's class of 2020, has a fervent wish for Smith.

"Maybe he'll come back next year," he said.

IM Pei, mastermind behind Louvre Pyramid, dies at 102

PeiNEW YORK, May 16: I.M. Pei, the pre-eminent US architect who forged a distinct brand of modern building design with his sharp lines and stark structures, has died in New York, his sons’ architecture firm said Thursday. He was 102 years old.

From the controversial Louvre Pyramid in Paris to the landmark Bank of China tower in Hong Kong, the Chinese-born Pei was the mastermind behind works seen as embracing modernity tempered by a grounding in history.

Pei Partnership Architects confirmed Pei’s death. The New York Times, citing Pei’s son Li Chung, said the architect had died overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

“Contemporary architects tend to impose modernity on something. There is a certain concern for history but it’s not very deep,” Pei, with his owlish round-rimmed glasses, told The New York Times in a 2008 interview.

“I understand that times have changed, we have evolved. But I don’t want to forget the beginning,” he said.

“A lasting architecture has to have roots.”

His work earned the 1983 Pritzker Prize, considered architecture’s Nobel. Of his nearly 50 designs in the United States and around the world, more than half won major awards.

Born in China in 1917, banker’s son Ieoh Ming Pei came to the US at 17 to study architecture, receiving an undergraduate degree in the field from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940.

He then enrolled in Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where he received a master’s degree in architecture in 1946. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1954.

In one standout undertaking, he deftly inserted into the monumental structures of the capital of his adopted country the modern angles of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, opened in 1978.

The stunning concrete and glass structure features huge mirrored pyramids and a 50-foot (15-meter) waterfall.

It was “a composition of angular stone forms... that remains the most visible emblem of modern Washington,” said a New York Times review 30 years after its unveiling.

French president Francois Mitterrand was so impressed that he had Pei hired to build a glass pyramid into the courtyard of the Louvre, the world’s most visited museum.

The project was deeply controversial in Paris and Pei endured a roasting from critics before the giant glass structure opened in 1989, but his creation is now an icon of the French capital.

“I received many angry glances in the streets of Paris,” Pei later said, confessing that “after the Louvre, I thought no project would be too difficult.”

Other well-known and characteristic Pei projects -- often graceful combinations of geometric planes -- include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio; the Miho Museum of Shigo in Japan; the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and The John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.

He brought drama to the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan and Raffles City in Singapore.

His Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing, completed in 1982, was intended to incorporate technology and indigenous building principles in a blend that would open the way to a particularly Chinese brand of modern architecture.

Despite being a confessed Islamic art novice, Pei was also commissioned to design the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, which opened in 2008 to great fanfare.

The desert-toned building, inspired by the 13th-century Mosque of Ahmad ibn Tulun in Cairo, incorporates geometric patterns and is lit by reflected light entering from above.

Pei spent months traveling the Muslim world seeking inspiration.

“Islam was one religion I did not know,” he told the Times the year of the opening. “So I studied the life of Muhammad. I went to Egypt and Tunisia.”

Pei dedicated energetic efforts to supporting the arts and education, serving on visiting committees at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Harvard and MIT as well as a range of US government panels including the National Council on the Humanities and National Council on the Arts.

He dedicated the $100,000 prize money he was awarded as laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize to setting up a scholarship fund for Chinese students to study the craft in the United States, on the condition they return home to design and build.

In 1975, Pei was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Three years later he became Chancellor of the Academy, the first architect to hold the position.

He was also one of 12 naturalized US citizens then-president Ronald Reagan awarded the Medal of Liberty in 1986.

In 1988, Mitterrand inducted Pei as a Chevalier in the Legion d’Honneur, later raising him to the rank of Officier when Phase II of the glass-and-stainless steel Grand Louvre pyramid was completed in 1993.

US president George Bush awarded Pei the Medal of Freedom that same year, when he was also elected an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

In addition to his museum oeuvre and contributions to the government and commercial landscape, Pei also worked on moderate and low-income housing.

“His concern has always been the surroundings in which his buildings rise,” wrote the Pritzker jury that bestowed to him in 1983 architecture’s most prestigious prize.

“His versatility and skill in the use of materials approach the level of poetry,” the committee wrote. “His tact and patience have enabled him to draw together peoples of disparate interests and disciplines to create a harmonious environment.”

79-yr-old educated Pune woman lives life without electricity

PUNE, May 8: With summer at its zenith, can you imagine living without electricity for a few weeks or even a few days? The answer will obviously be no.

However, Dr Hema Sane, a 79-year old former professor has been living in a house without electricity in Budhwar Peth, Pune all her life. And the reason behind not using electricity is her love for nature and the environment.

“Food, shelter and clothing are the basic needs. Once upon a time, there was no electricity, it came much later, I can manage without it,” she said.

Dr Hema Sane said this property belongs to her dog, two cats, mongoose and a lot of birds.

“It is their property, not mine. I am only here to look after them,” she added.

“People call me a fool, I may be insane but it doesn’t matter because it’s my wicked way of life. I may live as I like,” Sane said firmly.

Dr Hema Shane is a PhD holder in Botany from Savitribai Phule Pune University and she was even a professor at Garware College Pune for several years.

She lives in a small hut or one may call it a small house in Budhwar Peth area of Pune. Her house is surrounded by different types of trees and birds. Her morning starts with melodious noise of birds and ends with shining lamps giving light to her house.

Dr Sane has written many books on Botany and environment, which are already published in the market. Even today, whenever she is alone in her house she keeps writing new books. Her study on the environment is such that there would be hardly any bird or tree which is unknown to her.

Dr Sane further said, “I never felt the need for electricity in my whole life. People often ask me how do you live without electricity and I ask them how do you live with electricity?”

“These birds are my friends and whenever I do my housework they come. People often ask me why don’t you sell this house, you will get so much money! I always say who will look after these trees and birds? I don’t want to go out. I want to stay with them,” she said.

As for people who call her mental, Dr Sane said, “I don’t give any message or lesson to anyone, rather I echo the famous quote of Lord Buddha who says that you have to find your own path in life.”

Prince Harry, Meghan name their newborn son Archie

LONDON, May 8: Britain’s Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle Wednesday named their newborn son Archie.

The announcement came after the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were introduced to their eighth and newest great-grandchild.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pleased to announce they have name their first born child: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor,” the royal couple announced on their official Instagram account.

Earlier, speaking in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle as Prince Harry cradled their two-day-old child, Markel said, “He has the sweetest temperament, he’s really calm”.

“I don’t know who he gets that from,” Harry was quoted as saying by the BBC.

There was no mention of a potential royal title for Archie, it said.

Talking about their first few days as parents, Meghan said, “It’s magic, it’s pretty amazing. I have the two best guys in the world so I’m really happy”.

“It’s great. Parenting is amazing. It’s only been two and a half days, three days, but we’re just so thrilled to have our own little bundle of joy,” the duke added.

‘Not a Yeti, it was a bear’s footprint’, says Nepal Army to India

KATHMANDU, May 2: Nepal officials have dismissed the Indian Army’s claim that one of its mountaineering expedition teams had discovered footprints of the mythical Yeti in the Makalu-Barun Conservation Area near the Nepal-Tibet border.

In a tweet, accompanied by a photo of the expedition team and three photos of footprints in the snow, the Indian Army on Monday night said it had sighted “Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’ measuring 32X15 inches close to Makalu Base Camp on 09 April 2019”.

The “elusive snowman had only been sighted at Makalu-Barun National Park in the past”, the tweet continued.

But the local porters who accompanied the Indian Army, locals in the area and the Nepal Army liaison officer dismissed the Indian Army’s claim, saying that such kind of footprints frequently appear in that area and were the footprints of a wild bear.

“A team of Indian Army had noticed the footprints and our liaison team was together with them... We tried to ascertain the fact, but locals and porters claimed that it is the footprints of wild bear that frequently appear in that area,” said Nepal Army spokesperson, Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey.

Yeti Footprints Sighted By Expedition Team: Indian Army

NEW DELHI, April 29: The Indian Army tweeted on Monday that its team had sighted "mysterious footprints of the mythical beast Yeti", commonly known as the "abominable snowman" that many over the decades claim to have seen, but without much proof.

The army, sharing images on its official Twitter handle, said a mountaineering expedition team had found the Yeti's "mysterious footprints measuring 32X15 inches".

The tweet was meant to "excite scientific temper," said sources as the Yeti claim generated curiosity.

The army said it discovered the footprints on April 9 at Makalu Base Camp in Nepal. It also claimed that the "elusive snowman" has also only been sighted nearby at Makalu-Barun National Park.

In the images, the prints appear to be of a single foot.

Army sources say the story is based on "physical proof of on-the-spot narration", photos and videos. "We got the inputs about 10 days back and yet we held on to it," they said, promising that the "photos and videos may surprise you".

The photographic evidence matches earlier theories, the army claims.

"We tweeted as we thought prudent to excite scientific temper and rekindle the interest. Some of us who reject the story surely shall have a definite answer to the evidences. As they say nature, history and science never write their final story," said a source.

There have been many stories about the mystery of the "The Abominable Snowman", mostly based on unconfirmed, often fantastical accounts of its giant size and terrifying howl.

The yeti also features in traditional Nepalese folklore, in which it is described as furry and ape-like. A very popular Tintin episode, "Tintin in Tibet", borrowed that version.

Many have in the past claimed to debunk such sightings, saying what was seen was in fact, a bear. One such report published in 2017 claimed that the creature sighted could have been three different kinds of bears: the Asian black bear, the Tibetan brown bear and the Himalayan brown bear.

"Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears," said lead scientist Charlotte Lindqvist, associate professor at the University of Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.

The study also collected genetic evidence from bone, tooth, skin, hair and fecal samples, which were linked to the Yeti. Artefacts gathered from private collections and museums across the world include a monastic relic said to come from a Yeti paw.

In reality, the relic turned out to be the remains of 23 distinct bears.

 



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