A crew from BBC World Service recorded a program Thursday at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that will air on Sept. A panel featuring civil rights activist Bernard Lafayette, who took part in the Freedom Rides in 1961, discussed the role of African-American churches in the fight against social and racial injustice. Simon Pitts, arts and faith editor for BBC World Service. BBC is the British Broadcasting Corporation. A recording of the panel discussion will be featured on the weekly radio program “Heart and Soul,” which has about 79 million listeners worldwide and focuses on faith, he said. The “Heart and Soul Gathering” panel included local ministers the Rev. Eva Melton and the Rev. Arthur Price, pastor of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
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Amid the neon-lit diners and coffee shops of New York’s Upper East Side sits a townhouse that’s a world away from the fast-paced drama of Manhattan. In sight of Central Park, but not as far north as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is just one of many such houses on a street full of elite mansions and enviable residences. No sightseeing map would direct you to East 70th Street, and it’s routinely bypassed by cab drivers, commuters and pedestrians, all of whom have somewhere else more important to be. But beyond the townhouse’s wrought iron doors, under a keystone archway, a world of tightly guarded secrets awaits. • The origin of life on Earth?
The deepest oceans. The farthest rivers. The highest peaks. Even the moon and outer space itself. All of it has been mapped by the club’s globetrotting members. And on any given day, many can be found in the back room, taking tea while plotting their next extraordinary adventure. Talk is not of the weather, but of moon landings and blow dart encounters. This is the little-known Explorers Club, the headquarters of one of the world’s most awe-inspiring field science institutions. Now the club’s 44th president, Wiese was drawn into this Indiana Jones world by his father, Richard Wiese Sr, who was the first man to solo the Pacific Ocean in a plane.
He remembers standing on his front lawn in Connecticut looking at cumulus and contrail clouds wishing he could be just as adventurous. By age 12, he had travelled to Africa and climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. “I recall the first time I came to the club in the mid-1980s,” Wiese told me, while we sat at a table once owned by former member and US president Theodore Roosevelt in the club’s boardroom. Like the other mountain-climbing, polar-exploring, zeitgeist-defining club presidents before him, Wiese maintains the society’s purpose is for knowledge enhancement alone, not self-fulfilment. Its 3,500 members – spread across 32 global chapters, including the New York headquarters – are bound by a bond to push the boundaries of science and education.
And these days, membership is predominantly taken up by oceanographers, lepidopterologists, primatologists and conservationists. A case in point: this past summer, a group of club palaeontologists were in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert hunting for fossilised dinosaur remains using drone scanners. “They found dozens, if not hundreds,” Wiese told me, almost as if he couldn’t quite believe it himself. “Exploration for us is now less a cult of personality and more a cult of data. It was 1904 when The Explorers Club was founded by historian, journalist and explorer Henry Collins Walsh and like-minded Arctic explorers. At the time, the race to the North Pole had brought the group together with a broader purpose to explore by air, land, sea and space.
This saw the first meetings held at its original headquarters in the Studio Building at 23 West 67th Street. But as the club grew in stature, so too did its need to expand to house trophies, books and priceless artefacts. Enter American writer and broadcaster Lowell Thomas of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ fame years later. An enthusiastic member in the 1960s, he was instrumental in the club acquiring its current headquarters, once a private family home owned by an heir to the Singer Sewing Machine. “This place used to be about pushing dragons off the map,” said the club’s archivist and curator of research collections Lacey Flint, leading me on a fascinating tour of the townhouse. “We still push those dragons, but the club has become so much more.
History is alive in the building’s upper galleries like few other places in New York. It isn’t just the taxidermy polar bear guarding the staircase. Or the sledge used by Robert Peary and Matthew Henson on an expedition to the North Pole in 1909 (now placed above a door in the Clark Room). It’s in the indigenous totems found by Michael Rockefeller on a trip to collect primitive art from New Guinea (while several artefacts were airmailed to the US, Rockefeller never returned and rumours persist he was eaten by cannibals). It’s in the series of framed club flags, once folded into spacesuit pockets and carried on every Apollo mission into space.
And it’s in the artefacts on the desk of the club’s archivist that still need to be catalogued. Moreover, it’s a place that boggles the senses. On the day of my visit, Flint’s desk was taken over by a prized 17th-Century Persian helmet and a pair of Spanish colonial spurs. She oversees some 1,000 objects in the club’s collection, as well as a library brimming with 14,000 volumes, photographs, slides and reports. One recent acquisition is a century-old Akeley Pancake Camera, dating to 1919 and first built for rugged expeditions. The townhouse is an intriguing architectural marvel in itself. There are wooden beams taken from HMS Daedalus (an 1826 frigate warship).
A ceiling bought from a 15th-Century Italian monastery, plus original stained-glass windows inlaid with Tudor roses from Windsor Castle in England. It’s so out-of-this-world, in fact, it feels as if it could have been designed by Jonathan Swift’s fantastical traveller, Lemuel Gulliver. One floor up, past the Hall of Fame and the Sir Edmund Hillary Map Room, is the extraordinarily detailed Gallery. “The risks these explorers took were crazy,” said Flint, pointing to an oil painting of Danish explorer Peter Freuchen that hung above the fireplace. Freuchen, she told me, wore a coat from a polar bear he killed, and once escaped an ice cave using frozen excrement as an improvised dagger. “These were people who would amputate their own foot.
They were rock stars of their age and their stories are just as radical. Some unearthed burial grounds of ancient kings, while others travelled to the Arctic with a full tea service or crossed a desert with a camel carrying a full-size writing desk. Members’ adventures are just as inspiring today. Archaeologist Joan Breton Connelly – aka ‘Indiana Joan’ – continues to dig for clues at a Cypriot temple built by Cleopatra that she discovered, while deep-sea explorer Jennifer Arnold’s passion is diving for megalodon teeth. 25 during the society’s weekly public lectures – is to experience an expense of spirit most people can only dream of.
While the world of the explorer is changing, the club’s president believes it is a golden era for members – particularly in the fields of palaeontology, anthropology and space exploration. “Our challenge is to stay relevant,” Wiese said, looking out the window. “In science, if an organism doesn’t evolve it’ll go extinct. Yes, we have an illustrious history, but our members are focussed on the future – on climate change and on animal and human preservation. So the more we can promote and popularise science to people that have curiosity about the world the better. CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of the Explorers Club. Join more than three million BBC Travel fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Capital and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.
— It is the opinion of two British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) journalists that the investments that China is making in Jamaica must spark a level of caution in citizens. The ‘World Questions’ team is in Jamaica for the hosting of an episode of their show, which took place last night at Spanish Court Hotel, Valencia in St Andrew. “It is fantastic to get investment, and Jamaica shouldn’t be scared, but of course, you have to be wary about taking all your aid from one great power,” Taylor asserted. “When we do ‘World Questions’ and go around the world to countries like Kenya and Ghana, the same issue of China comes up, too.
The Chinese have wide-scale investment in Jamaica, including a number of businesses and properties, as well as construction of the country’s highways and major roadways. According to Dymond, the Chinese “move very fast”, warning that “very few countries in the world give out aid without wanting something. Without accusing China of any wrongdoing, the veteran journalist said that there are aspects of the Chinese system of governance that Jamaica must be mindful of. “We are here to do ‘World Questions’, because we believe in having a variety of voices, including that of the audience. I don’t see that kind of thing on Chinese television or hear on radio. I happen to think that liberal democracy is a good thing and is a better system than what they have in China,” he stated. “Is China something to be wary of? Jamaica has strong institutions and has the rule of law. You have been independent for decades. I don’t think there is anything to be scared of. I just think you should be wary of other countries, including Britain. Jamaica didn’t throw off Britain simply to become an economic colony of another power.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ top diplomat cried foul after the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired a documentary about President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown against illegal drugs. The documentary, titled “Our World—Philippines: Democracy in Danger?”, aired last Saturday. BBC said in the description of the documentary posted on its website. Cayetano said in a statement. Cayetano also accused BBC of being one-sided on the cases of Sen. Leila de Lima, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, all known critics of Duterte. De Lima has been detained for allegedly being involved in the proliferation of the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
Duterte recently revoked the amnesty granted to Trillanes and ordered his arrest. Sereno’s appointment as the country’s top judge was nullified following a quo warranto petition that Solicitor General Jose Calida filed. De Lima has been in government custody since February 2017 but releases handwritten “dispatches” through her staff. She is heavily escorted when brought to and from court hearings, with her police escorts at times trying to block media cameras from taking photos. On at least one ocassion, her escorts coughed simultaneously to drown out what she was shouting to reporters covering the hearing. Both Trillanes and Sereno were interviewed in the documentary.
Trillanes warned of a possible declaration of nationwide martial law while Sereno talked about how the administration is threatening the independence of the judiciary. Trillanes told BBC correspondent Howard Johnson. Sereno described how the Duterte administration does not like criticism and shows viciousness to groups that they consider as critics. Cayetano also claimed that the BBC reported did not take into consideration that Duterte continues to enjoy high trust and approval ratings. Citing the latest Pulse Asia survey, the DFA chief said seven out of 10 Filipinos trust the president while three out of four approve of his performance. The latest Social Weather Survey (SWS), meanwhile, found that Duterte’s satisfaction rating went up to 70 percent.
What Cayetano failed to mention was that Duterte suffered a double-digit drop in his approval and trust ratings. The latest Pulse Asia poll showed that his approval rating fell from 88 percent in June to 75 percent in October while his trust score decreased from 87 percent to 75 percent in the same period. A recent SWS survey also found that majority of Filipinos consider Duterte’s controversial “God is stupid” remark and joke about Davao City rape cases were “bastos” or vulgar. The DFA secretary called on the BBC to present an “accurate” and “balanced” views of the issues in the Philippines next time. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had earlier challenged BBC to produce a report on Duterte’s supposed links to the Davao Death Squad.
Roque claimed that former United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston already cleared Duterte of liability in relation to killings blamed on the vigilante group that targeted drug offenders. “I also mentioned in the BBC that what the Philip Alston report said were administrative lapses and it’s there. Will someone please get the relevant paragraph cited by BBC and will you please write a letter to BBC, because they should not have just limited it to mentioning the paragraphs, they should actually have shown what Philip Alston said? ” Roque said in a press briefing Tuesday. The Mayor of Davao City has done nothing to prevent these killings, and his public comments suggest that he is, in fact, supportive. Mayor Duterte responded to the reported arrest and subsequent release of a notorious drug lord in Manila by saying: ‘Here in Davao, you can’t go out alive. You can go out, but inside a coffin. Is that what you call extra-judicial killing?