Alford plays major role in Special Olympics International

first_imgAs an enthusiastic supporter of the Special Olympics who has worked for more than two decades with Special Olympics International, Harvard Law School Professor William P. Alford welcomed the opportunity to help bring about the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games, held in PyeongChang, Korea, earlier this year. He explains that the millions of athletes who participate in Special Olympics internationally range from children with very basic motor skills to world-class basketball players who have been known to give former NBA stars, including Special Olympics board members Dikembe Mutumbo and Sam Perkins, a very challenging game.“One of the major messages of the Special Olympics is that having a disability need not be seen as being as limiting or disqualifying as some people might assume,” says Alford, director of East Asian Legal Studies and chair of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD). “These games show us extraordinary determination and level of accomplishments and are inspiring.”More sobering, though, are the economic challenges and human rights issues—poverty, limited access to education and health care, and a lack of adequate legal protection—prevalent among the more than 200 million people with intellectual disabilities worldwide, the majority of whom live in low-income countries.Read the full story on the Harvard Law School website. Read Full Storylast_img read more

Guardians of the sky

first_imgIt was 16 degrees on a January night, the cold made worse by the fatigue of working so many hours. Box after box, heavy with glass, had to pass through the basement window, into the snow-covered parking lot.But if the cold made for deep discomfort — and chattering teeth — it also proved a disaster-recovery ally after a water-main break flooded the Harvard College Observatory’s Plate Stacks, a unique historical treasure holding hundreds of thousands of glass plate negatives that serve as a record of skies around the world across more than a century.By the time the flooding was discovered, early on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the lowest level of the three-story stacks had been flooded to three feet, immersing 61,000 of the negatives and derailing the Digital Access to a Sky Century at Harvard (DASCH) project, a decade-long scanning effort aimed at making the plates more accessible for study.The flood also soaked the custom-built digital scanner at the heart of the project. But the plates themselves were the main concern. With those in good repair, everything else would be OK.“This collection is unparalleled, in my opinion,” said Brenda Bernier, who is the James Needham Chief Conservator and head of Harvard Library’s Weissman Preservation Center and Collections Care. “It’s the depth and breadth of the data, it’s extraordinary. The scale — hundreds of thousands of one of the most vulnerable formats.”Prof. Josh Grindlay at the Center for Astrophysics with Lindsay Smith, assistant curator of the Harvard Astronomical Plate Collection and head of the DASCH project scanning staff. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerBernier credited the Harvard Library Collections Emergency Team and photograph conservators Erin Murphy and Elena Bulat with understanding that the chill could aid the rescue effort. With the plates stored in soaked paper sleeves, the biggest danger to the photographic emulsion was mold. Mold spots would mar a record that consists of thousands or even many tens of thousands of pinpoints of light. The best course, the team decided, was to get the plates into the sub-freezing air as quickly as possible.Since that night, the plates have been kept safely frozen and the mold at bay. They were transferred into refrigerated trailers, which are now stored with a North Andover company that specializes in document recovery. Early tests have suggested the photographic emulsion that coats one side of each plate will survive unaltered.Conservators are working with Jonathan Grindlay, the Robert Treat Paine Professor of Practical Astronomy, and others at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) to devise a process for restoring the plates. These will include extracting them from the paper sleeves, which have to be photographed because they include data critical to interpreting the images, and then cleaning them of silt and grime. The methods devised at the Weissman Preservation Center, Bernier said, will be taught to technicians at Polygon in North Andover, who will carry out the restoration work, which is expected to take a year and a half.Grindlay, who heads the DASCH project, and CfA director Charles Alcock expressed deep appreciation for both the tireless efforts of staff members and the expertise of the Harvard Library team.“People were cold and tired, but not one was dropped,” Alcock said. “I’m very encouraged so far — it’s not a good thing to go through, but the response has gotten us to a good place with respect to the flood.”Grindlay first imagined the scanning project in the 1980s, realizing that it would have to wait until computers were sophisticated enough to handle the enormous amount of data the plates contained, more than a petabyte.DASCH launched in 2004, with the first scans made in 2006. The project has covered about a third of the 525,000 plates, the first of which was shot in 1885 and the last in 1992. The data hold value for astronomers who are interested in changes in particular stellar objects, each of which was photographed between 500 and 3,000 times over the years. Findings have so far appeared in about 100 papers, Grindlay said.“There’s a tidal wave waiting to happen. There’s an enormous amount of data waiting for analysis.”Grindlay was at the CfA the night of the flood, having secured remote observation time on the Multiple Mirror Telescope on Mount Hopkins in Arizona. He and two grad students were collecting data about extreme variable stars they had identified through DASCH.Stacks of glass negatives of the sky taken around the world over a century, at the Center for Astrophysics. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerAt around 7 in the morning, Lindsay Smith, a senior curatorial technician, arrived at the plate stacks to calibrate the scanner for the day’s work. The building felt cold. When she descended the spiral staircase to the basement, she saw a couple of feet of water. Building manager Charles Hickey, who played a key role in the recovery effort, called the city of Cambridge to close the pipe. Workers later found that an eight-inch water main in the courtyard outside had ruptured 16 feet underground, sending muddy water though the soil and along the building’s foundation until it found a way in.Emails were sent out asking for help. Grad student Jane Huang was among the 17 responders who worked through the first night of the recovery and the 50 who worked in shifts over three days.“I knew my school needed help so I thought it would be good to pitch in,” Huang said.Edward Pickering, the Harvard College Observatory director who got the sky photography project going in the 1800s, was a bit paranoid that something would happen to the plates, Grindlay pointed out. He had the building specially made to hold up their weight — 170 tons — and oversaw the installation of sliding steel doors that could close rapidly in case of a fire.A new, faster scanner will arrive in May. It’s conceivable, Grindlay said, that the project could still end on time in 2018.“I hope we’ll be able to catch up.”last_img read more

Winning debuts for South Africa, Uganda coaches

first_imgIn other matches, there were away victories for Mozambique over Kenya and the Central African Republic over Niger while the Ivory Coast defeated the Democratic Republic of Congo in France.Benin at home and Malawi away snatched late draws against Zambia and Lesotho respectively and Togo came from behind to hold Equatorial Guinea in France. Ntseki was a controversial choice to succeed English coach Stuart Baxter after South Africa exited the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals.He had never been a head coach at senior level and critics alleged his appointment had more to do with the cash-strapped national football association needing a “cheap” replacement.– Immediate goal –But Ntseki insists he is up to the task with his immediate goal being to achieve a top-two finish in a 2021 Cup of Nations qualifying group including Ghana, Sudan and Sao Tome e Principe and reaching the finals.South Africa controlled most of the match against Mali, but a 75th-minute goal from Sekou Koita for the visitors created a tense finish.Judgment on Ntseki will have to be delayed as Mali lacked many of the players who took them to the last 16 of the Cup of Nations in Egypt this year.The 1-0 win for Mozambique over Kenya in Nairobi was a surprise with the only goal coming from Amansio Canhembe midway through the second half.Justin Shonga twice gave Zambia the lead against Benin in Porto Novo, but Michel Pote salvaged a 2-2 draw for the home side with a stoppage-time goal.Malawi left it almost as late to rescue a 1-1 draw away to Lesotho in Maseru with Hassan Kajoke scoring two minutes from time after Hlompho Kalake had put the home team ahead.Record seven-time African champions Egypt host Botswana Monday and 2019 Cup of Nations winners Algeria meet Colombia in France Tuesday as a six-day friendlies schedule continues.The matches are being used to prepare teams for the first two rounds of qualifying during November for the 2021 Cup of Nations in Cameroon.Share on: WhatsApp McKinstry (middle) with his new team of coaches. PHOTO FUFA MEDIAResultsEthiopia 0 Uganda 1South Africa 2 Mali 1 Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP |  South Africa and Uganda won international friendlies Sunday to give new coaches Molefi Ntseki and Northern Ireland-born Johnny McKinstry successful debuts.Goals from Dean Furman and Themba Zwane earned South Africa a 2-1 home victory in Port Elizabeth over Mali, who were missing many stars, including Southampton forward Moussa Djenepo.It was the first match for Bafana Bafana (The Boys) since xenophobic attacks on African immigrants in South Africa last month led Zambia and Madagascar to cancel friendlies.McKinstry guided Uganda to a 1-0 away win over Ethiopia in Bahir Dar with long-serving Emmanuel Okwi scoring the only goal midway through the first half.This is the third national coach post for the Irishman, who took charge of Sierra Leone in 2013 when only 27 years old and was later hired by Rwanda.last_img read more