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Madagascar Faces ‘Catastrophic’ Hunger After 3 Cyclones

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MANANJARY, Madagascar – Southeast Madagascar has been hit by three powerful storms in a year, resulting in “catastrophic” famine in remote, inaccessible places that have received little international attention, according to humanitarian organizations.

Cyclone Batsirai struck in February 2022, followed by Cyclone Emnati two weeks later. Then, in February of this year, Cyclone Freddy landed on the Indian Ocean island. According to a report by UNICEF and Madagascar’s National Office for Nutrition, the combined impact affected 60%-90% of farming regions in the southeast and largely destroyed food crops.

People like Iavosoa, a distraught young mother whose 10-month-old daughter, Soaravo, was at risk of dying before her first birthday due to acute malnutrition, feel the pain. Iavosoa, who only supplied her first name to protect her privacy, also has a 3-year-old son who is malnourished.

Last month, a team from the humanitarian organization Doctors of the World brought her children and two other severely malnourished children, both under the age of two, to a hospital in the city of Mananjary on Madagascar’s east coast after a group of parents and their children were discovered walking through the bush to reach the nearest health center.

Soaravo groaned softly at the hospital as her mother rocked the infant to soothe her. The child weighed only 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) and resembled a preterm infant, with eyes nearly too wide for her tiny skull. Doctors say she should weigh four to six times her age.

madagascar

Southeast Madagascar has been hit by three powerful storms in a year, resulting in “catastrophic” famine.

“If my daughter is in this state, it’s because we don’t have enough food where we live,” said Iavosoa. “I was sick with dysentery for two months.” I was almost out of milk. I was completely exhausted. My hamlet is three hour walk from the first basic health center. I couldn’t pamper myself because I couldn’t travel such a long distance.”

“And then she (Soaravo) became ill as well.” Then came Cyclone Freddy. “It destroyed our house and ravaged our village,” she claimed.

Iavosoa wore a tattered T-shirt and a piece of fabric wrapped around her waist, saying she wasn’t sure of her age but assumed she was between 21 and 24. She needed footwear. Everything she owned was wrapped in a cotton bundle on the hospital floor. She is a single parent.

Iavosoa looked at her daughter, a dismayed expression on her face. “She’s just turned 10 months old,” she explained.

The families spotted walking roughly 30 kilometers from the hospital were discovered by chance when a Doctors of the World team went to assess the quality of health facilities in places beyond Mananjary, according to Joaquin Noterdaeme, a coordinator with the organization known in French as Médecins du Monde.

Soaravo was treated for an illness and diarrhea, and malnutrition was addressed with a special milk formula. Doctors predicted that she would be hospitalized for at least a month. Her mother and brother moved in with her because they had nowhere else to go.

According to a Feb. 28 report by UNICEF and the National Office for Nutrition, more than a quarter of the population in Madagascar’s southeastern area, or around 870,000 people, do not have enough food and are at risk of hunger.

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According to humanitarian organizations, Soaravo and the other hospitalized youngsters are a drop in the bucket.

“This is a nutrition emergency,” said Jean-Francois Basse, UNICEF’s representative in Madagascar, describing the situation in rural regions as “catastrophic.”

The cyclones left scars on the hospital as doctors worked to save Soaravo’s life. Some of its structures are nothing more than shells. The walls were barely standing, but parts of the roof had collapsed. Some patients were treated outside in a tent.

Few trees stand upright in and around Mananjary, which bore the brunt of the cyclones racing in from the Indian Ocean and where Freddy made landfall. They were ripped out or left lurching at 45-degree angles by the cyclones, demonstrating the intensity of the wind brought by the storms.

Homes were demolished, rebuilt, then demolished again.

According to Brian Willett, head of mission in Madagascar for Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières, people living in remote districts like coastal Nosy-Varika and the mountainous region of Ikongo were extremely vulnerable to hunger before the cyclones and children across southeast Madagascar experienced chronic malnutrition.

“But, with the repeated climate shocks of the past year, their resilience has been exceeded,” he said. “Today, one in every four children is acutely malnourished.” These children face death if they do not receive medical attention.”

Willett suggested that mothers who couldn’t feed their children would participate in “acts of desperation,” referring to stories that some were selling their children to save them from famine.

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SOURCE – (AP)

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Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

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Toby Keith, a popular country singer known for his pro-American anthems who enraged detractors while also winning over millions of admirers, has died. He was 62.

According to a statement on his website, the singer-songwriter of “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” who had stomach cancer, passed away peacefully on Monday with his family by his side. “He fought his fight with grace and courage,” the statement read. He disclosed his cancer diagnosis in 2022.

The 6-foot-4 vocalist rose to prominence during the country boom of the 1990s, producing songs that listeners enjoyed hearing. Throughout his career, he publicly clashed with other celebrities and journalists and frequently fought against record executives who sought to tame his rough edges.

He was recognized for his overt patriotism in post-9/11 songs like “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue,” as well as loud barroom songs like “I Love This Bar” and “Red Solo Cup.” He possessed a big, booming voice, a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, and a range that could carry love and drinking songs.

Toby Keith health: What's happening with his stomach cancer battle

Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

His 20 No. 1 Billboard successes included “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “As Good As I Once Was,” “My List,” and “Beer for My Horses,” a duet with Willie Nelson. His influences included fellow working-class songwriters such as Merle Haggard, and he had more than 60 singles on the Hot Country chart over his career.

Keith continues to perform despite his cancer treatments, most recently in Las Vegas in December. In 2023, he also performed at the People’s Choice Country Awards with his song “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

“Cancer is a roller coaster,” he told KWTV in an interview broadcast last month. “You simply sit here and wait for it to go away. “It may never go away.”

Keith worked as a roughneck in Oklahoma’s oil fields as a young man, then played semi-pro football before beginning his singing career.

keith

Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

“I write and sing about life, and I don’t overanalyze things,” Keith told The Associated Press in 2001, following the popularity of his song “I’m Just Talking About Tonight.”

Keith received valuable lessons in the growing oil fields, which toughened him up and taught him the importance of money.

“The money to be made was unbelievable,” Keith told the Associated Press in 1996. “I graduated from high school in 1980, and they hired me in December 1979 for $50,000 a year. “I was 18 years old.

However, the domestic oilfield business crumbled, and Keith was not saved. “It almost broke us,” he admitted. “So, I just learned. I took care of my money this time.”

He played a few seasons as a defensive end for the Oklahoma City Drillers, a farm team for the now-defunct United States Football League. But he made consistent money playing music with his band on Oklahoma and Texas’s red dirt roadhouse circuit.

“All through this whole thing, the only constant thing we had was music,” he said. “But it’s difficult to sit back and say, ‘I’m going to make a fortune singing or writing music.’ I had no contacts.

His path eventually led him to Nashville, where he piqued the eye of Mercury Records’ head, Harold Shedd, best known for producing the success group Alabama. Shedd signed him to Mercury, where he launched his platinum debut album, “Toby Keith,” in 1993.

Country singer Toby Keith dies at 62 after battling stomach cancer |  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

His breakout hit, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” was played 3 million times on radio stations, making it the most popular country song of the 1990s.

However, the label’s focus on worldwide superstar Shania Twain eclipsed the rest of the group, and Keith believed that the executives were attempting to steer him in a pop path.

“They were trying to get me to compromise, and I was living a miserable existence,” Keith was quoted as saying by the AP. “Everybody was trying to mould me into something I was not.”

Keith signed with DreamWorks Records in 1999, following a string of albums that included singles including “Who’s That Man” and a cover of Sting’s “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying.”

That’s when his multiweek hit “How Do You Like Me Now?!” went viral and became his first Top 40 smash. In 2001, he won male vocalist and album of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards, screaming on stage, “I’ve waited a long time for this. “Nine years!”

Keith frequently wore his politics on his sleeve, particularly following the terrorist attacks on American soil in 2001, and he initially identified as a conservative Democrat before later claiming to be independent. He performed in events for Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, who awarded him the National Medal of the Arts in 2021. His music and forthright opinions occasionally sparked controversy, which he appeared to relish.

His 2002 song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” carried a threat — “We’ll put a boot in your ass — It’s the American way” — to anyone who attempted to interfere with America.

That song was removed from a patriotic ABC Fourth of July special because producers felt it was too furious for the broadcast. Singer-songwriter Steve Earle described Keith’s song as “pandering to people’s worst instincts at a time when they are hurt and scared.”

keith

Toby Keith, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies At 62 After Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

Then there was the conflict between Keith and The Chicks (previously known as the Dixie Chicks), who became Keith’s target after singer Natalie Maines informed a crowd that they were embarrassed by then-President George W. Bush. Maines had previously described Keith’s song as “ignorant.”

Keith, who had previously stated that he backed any artist’s right to express their political views, juxtaposed a doctored photo of Maines with an image of Saddam Hussein at his shows, inciting even more outrage among fans.

Maines retaliated by wearing a blouse with the letters “FUTK” onstage at the 2003 ACM Awards, which many people saw as a rude message to Keith.

Keith, who has admitted to holding grudges, stormed out of the ACM Awards early in 2003 after being spurned in earlier categories, missing out when he was named entertainer of the year. Vincent Gill accepted on his behalf. He returned the following year and won the top prize for the second year in a row, as well as best male vocalist and album of the year for “Shock ‘n Y’all.”

His pro-military stance was more than just material for songs. He embarked on 11 USO trips to visit and perform for overseas troops. Throughout his career, he has helped raise millions of dollars for charity, including constructing a home in Oklahoma City for children with cancer and their families.

Keith restarted his career after Universal Music Group acquired DreamWorks, launching his record label, Show Dog, in 2005 alongside record executive Scott Borchetta, who founded his label, Big Machine.

“Probably 75% of the people in this town think I’ll fail, and the other 25% hope I fail,” he said.

Keith, Trace Adkins, Joe Nichols, Josh Thompson, Clay Walker, and Phil Vassar were among the artists signed to the label, which later became Show Dog-Universal Music.

His following singles were “Love Me If You Can,” “She Never Cried in Front of Me,” and “Red Solo Cup.” He was elected into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.

He received the BMI Icon award in November 2022, a few months after announcing his stomach cancer diagnosis.

“I always believed that songwriting was the most important aspect of this entire industry,” Keith told the audience of fellow singers and writers.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Amazon Will Invest In Diamond Sports As Part Of Bankruptcy Restructuring Agreement

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Amazon will collaborate with Diamond Sports as part of a restructuring arrangement as the largest owner of regional sports networks seeks to exit bankruptcy.

Diamond controls 18 networks under the Bally Sports label. Those networks own 37 professional teams, including 11 baseball, 15 NBA, and 11 NHL.

Diamond Sports has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the Southern District of Texas since filing in March. In a late 2021 financial file, the corporation reported $8.67 billion in debt.

Diamond Sports announced the terms of the transaction Wednesday morning. Amazon has no comments. It is still subject to clearance by the bankruptcy court.

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Amazon Will Invest In Diamond Sports As Part Of Bankruptcy Restructuring Agreement

The agreement with Diamond Sports’ main creditors permits the company to emerge from bankruptcy, continue operations and avoid a catastrophic collapse of the regional sports network system, which would force the NBA, NHL, and MLB to step in and take over production and distribution of the majority of their teams.

Last season, MLB was forced to take over production and distribution of the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks after Diamond let rights payments to the Padres lapse and could not reach an improved agreement with the Diamondbacks.

According to the terms of the restructuring deal, Amazon will make a minority investment in Diamond and enter into a commercial agreement to provide access to Diamond’s content through Prime Video.

Customers can watch their local team’s programming on Prime Video channels, which Diamond holds rights to. Price and availability will be revealed at a later date. Regional sports material will still be available on cable and satellite providers.

Amazon Prime already offers some New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games broadcast by the YES Network.

Diamond has also agreed, in principle, with Sinclair Broadcast Group to resolve pending litigation between the businesses.

Sinclair acquired the regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Company for almost $10 billion in 2019. The Department of Justice forced Disney to sell the networks before its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets could be approved.

Amazon Will Invest In Diamond Sports As Part Of Bankruptcy Restructuring Agreement

Even before Sinclair purchased the regional networks, the company was experiencing a downturn owing to cord-cutting and declining advertising revenue after entering into excessive long-term contracts with certain teams.

Diamond Sports Group was spun out from Sinclair last year after reaching an arrangement with its creditors.

Sinclair will pay Diamond $495 million as part of the settlement and will continue supporting Diamond’s reorganization. The settlement monies will also be used to repay some creditors.

“We are thrilled to have reached a comprehensive restructuring agreement that provides a detailed framework for a reorganization plan and substantial new financing that will enable Diamond to operate and thrive beyond 2024,” Diamond Sports CEO David Preschlack said in a statement.

“We are appreciative for Amazon’s and a handful of our top creditors’ backing, as they obviously believe in the business’s value-creation potential.

amazon

Amazon Will Invest In Diamond Sports As Part Of Bankruptcy Restructuring Agreement

Diamond’s immediate priority will be to implement the RSA and emerge from bankruptcy as a going concern for the benefit of our investors, staff, team, league and distribution partners, and the millions of fans who will continue to watch our broadcasts.”

Diamond just finalized agreements with the NHL and NBA to retain local rights through the end of the current season. It is still in talks with Major League Baseball about reworking agreements for the upcoming season, with the next court hearing set for Friday.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Bitcoin ETF: Cryptocurrency Swings As Watchdog X Account ‘Compromised’

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Bitcoin surged temporarily on Tuesday when the US markets regulator’s X account (previously Twitter) announced the approval of new cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) later deleted the message, stating that its account had been “compromised”.

The social networking company stated that the compromised account did not result from a system breach.

US regulators are scheduled to announce the new ETFs this week.

The bogus post was published on the SEC’s official X account shortly after 16:00 Washington time (21:00 GMT).

bitcoin

Bitcoin ETF: Cryptocurrency Swings As Watchdog X Account ‘Compromised’

It stated that the Securities and Exchange Commission “grants approval for #Bitcoin ETFs for listing on all registered national securities exchanges”.

Social media users and business news sources quickly shared and quoted the tweet.

Within minutes, SEC Chair Gary Gensler tweeted a response on his personal X account contradicting the incorrect announcement: “The @SECGov Twitter account was compromised, and an unauthorized tweet was posted.” The SEC has not approved the listing or trading spot bitcoin exchange-traded products.”

“The SEC has determined that there was unauthorized access to and activity on the @SECGov x.com account by an unknown party for a brief period of time shortly after 4 pm ET,” a spokeswoman for the Securities and Exchange Commission said.

“That unauthorized access has been terminated,” they went on to say. “The SEC will work with law enforcement and our partners across government to investigate the matter and determine appropriate next steps relating to both the unauthorized access and any related misconduct.”

Later on Tuesday, X announced that it had finished a preliminary investigation into the bogus post on the SEC’s account and determined that it was not the result of a breach of the social media platform’s systems.

“We can confirm that the account @SECGov was compromised and we have completed a preliminary investigation,” X stated.

bitcoin

Bitcoin ETF: Cryptocurrency Swings As Watchdog X Account ‘Compromised’

“Based on our investigation, the compromise was not due to any breach of X’s systems, but rather due to an unidentified individual obtaining control over a phone number associated with the @SECGov account through a third party,” according to the statement.

“We can also confirm that the account did not have two-factor authentication enabled at the time the account was compromised.”

Bitcoin surged to about $48,000 (£37,800) shortly after the incorrect article before falling back to roughly $46,000.

Investors are eagerly anticipating the SEC’s news on the potential approval of spot bitcoin ETFs, which is expected this week.

It would be a significant milestone for the cryptocurrency market’s acceptance in mainstream financial markets.

Several asset management firms have sought SEC clearance for spot Bitcoin ETFs.

ETFs are portfolios that allow investors to wager on various assets without having to buy them individually.

bitcoin

Bitcoin ETF: Cryptocurrency Swings As Watchdog X Account ‘Compromised’

They trade like shares on stock exchanges, and the performance of the entire portfolio in real time determines their value.

Some ETFs already indirectly contain Bitcoin; however, a spot Bitcoin ETF will buy the cryptocurrency directly, “on the spot” at its current price throughout the day.

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that operates without a central authority or banks. It allows for peer-to-peer transactions to take place directly without the need for intermediaries. The technology behind bitcoin, known as blockchain, ensures the security and transparency of these transactions.

With a limited supply of 21 million coins, bitcoin is often seen as a hedge against inflation and a store of value. Its fluctuating price has led to both skepticism and enthusiasm among investors and has sparked discussions about the future of finance and monetary systems.

SOURCE – BBC

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