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Army of Poets – Education For All

Led by their fearless hands and cries of joy, the children pull me into the school. We all sit on the ground in the surrounding love and grace. Enthusiasm is palpable.  It is my first chance to see the faces of these children… my children: shiny eyes — the kind of shiny that puts pearls and diamonds to shame. Bright smiles. Big smiles. Honest smiles.

Not one of them, not two, but ALL of my kids hold my hands. At the same time. And I do my best to grasp a little bit of each of their hands as a way to show I honor and acknowledge them.  And then I wonder: when was the last time they were held? They each crave my glance, and when I am not looking straight into their eyes, one after another individually gets a grip of my cheeks to turn me face to face with their soul. Deep dive. Free falling and I don’t want to be caught. Suddenly it got me wondering: when was the last time anyone beheld their eyes?

My children range from being months-old babies — regularly breast-fed by their mothers in the school sphere — up to 12-year-old kids who are already parents of their own children. They all, in their totality, struggle to attend during school hours since they all beg on the sides of roads to have enough money to help their parents, to feed their own kids, or to simply survive on their own since some of them have no family whatsoever.

In our school we have no desks, no tables, no running water, no bathrooms, no blackboards, no basic school supplies — and some of my kids come to school wearing absolutely no clothing. I don’t reckon that’s their choice. Just to hold as a reference, on my first day of class, my children were writing on the wrapping paper of teabags with a piece of charcoal. Our school is a modest blue tin shed under a bridge. We are trapped between the train tracks and a busy road. It would be hard to find us, because we don’t show up on any map, and we don’t have a name for the school. Yet. If you want to find us, you may look up at the sky, wishing upon a star and ask it to direct you to a place where humanity plays its role — where imagination is free to roam, and love is flowing freely to every thirsty heart.

I have made a conscious decision to stop watching mainstream media news, as it constantly burdens my soul with sadness and despair — with constant reports of disgraces and endless wars.  What I am doing here presents yet another war; nevertheless, it is one of a different sort: we will not march to the field armored with iron helms, blood-stained shields, and corruptly-sponsored machine guns. I affirm you otherwise. We shall instead fight the way to our promised land by wearing nothing but light, and the white laces of dignity and peace.

In our left hand, a book. A book from which to preach and chant out our rights with the full might of our lungs.  Our rights, so long neglected in the night. In our right hand, a pencil to register the tale of our victory so that generations to come can join their voices in unison and immaculate harmony, singing and rejoicing in a time when equality shall prevail, abnegation shall rule, and education shall be within reach of all of us who can honorably be called: “humans”.

This is a call for love.

Reporting from New Delhi, India. On teaching assignment, collaborating with AIESEC in DELHI IIT


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58-year-old NRI masturbates sitting beside woman on board flight, held at Delhi airport

The security control room at the IGI Airport was informed in the early hours today that there was an “unruly passenger” on board a Turkish Airlines flight approaching Delhi.

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After tens of thousands of pre-orders, 3D audio headphones startup Ossic disappears

After taking tens of thousands of crowd-funding pre-orders for a high-end pair of “3D sound” headphones, audio startup Ossic announced this weekend that it is shutting down the company and backers will not be receiving refunds.

The company raised $2.7 million on Kickstarter and $3.2 million on Indiegogo for their Ossic X headphones which they pitched as a pair of high-end head-tracking headphones that would be perfect for listening to 3D audio, especially in a VR environment. While the company also raised a “substantial seed investment,” in a letter on the Ossic website, the company blamed the slow adoption of virtual reality alongside their crowdfunding campaign stretch goals which bogged down their R&D team.

“This was obviously not our desired outcome. The team worked exceptionally hard and created a production-ready product that is a technological and performance breakthrough. To fail at the 5 yard-line is a tragedy. We are extremely sorry that we cannot deliver your product and want you to know that the team has done everything possible including investing our own savings and working without salary to exhaust all possibilities.”

We have reached out to the company for additional details.

Through January 2017, the San Diego company had received more than 22,000 pre-orders for their Ossic X headphones. This past January, Ossic announced that they had shipped out the first units to the 80 backers in their $999 developer tier headphones. In that same update, the company said they would enter “mass production” by late spring 2018.

In the end, after tens of thousands of pre-orders, Ossic only built 250 pairs of headphones and only shipped a few dozen to Kickstarter backers.

Crowdfunding campaign failures for hardware products are rarely shocking, but often the collapse comes from the company not being able to acquire additional funding from outside investors. Here, Ossic appears to have been misguided from the start and even with nearly $6 million in crowdfunding and seed funding, which they said nearly matched that number, they were left unable to begin large-scale manufacturing. The company said in their letter, that it would likely take more than $2 million in additional funding to deliver the existing backlog of pre-orders.

Backers are understandably quite upset about not receiving their headphones. A group of over 1,200 Facebook users have joined a recently-created page threatening a class action lawsuit against the team.

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Accel Partners

With at least $1.3 billion invested globally in 2018, VC funding for blockchain blows past 2017 totals

Although bitcoin and blockchain technology may not take up quite as much mental bandwidth for the general public as it did just a few months ago, companies in the space continue to rake in capital from investors.

One of the latest to do so is Circle, which recently announced a $110 million Series E round led by bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain. Other participating investors include Tusk VenturesPantera CapitalIDG Capital PartnersGeneral CatalystAccel PartnersDigital Currency GroupBlockchain Capital and Breyer Capital.

This round vaults Circle into an exclusive club of crypto companies that are valued, in U.S. dollars, at $1 billion or more in their most recent venture capital round. According to Crunchbase data, Circle was valued at $2.9 billion pre-money, up from a $420 million pre-money valuation in its Series D round, which closed in May 2016. According to Crunchbase data, only Coinbase and Robinhood — a mobile-first stock-trading platform which recently made a big push into cryptocurrency trading — were in the crypto-unicorn club, which Circle has now joined.

But that’s not the only milestone for the world of venture-backed cryptocurrency and blockchain startups.

Back in February, Crunchbase News predicted that the amount of money raised in old-school venture capital rounds by blockchain and blockchain-adjacent startups in 2018 would surpass the amount raised in 2017. Well, it’s only May, and it looks like the prediction panned out.

In the chart below, you’ll find worldwide venture deal and dollar volume for blockchain and blockchain-adjacent companies. We purposely excluded ICOs, including those that had traditional VCs participate, and instead focused on venture deals: angel, seed, convertible notes, Series A, Series B and so on. The data displayed below is based on reported data in Crunchbase, which may be subject to reporting delays, and is, in some cases, incomplete.

A little more than five months into 2018, reported dollar volume invested in VC rounds raised by blockchain companies surpassed 2017’s totals. Not just that, the nearly $1.3 billion in global dollar volume is greater than the reported funding totals for the 18 months between July 1, 2016 and New Year’s Eve in 2017.

And although Circle’s Series E round certainly helped to bump up funding totals year-to-date, there were many other large funding rounds throughout 2018:

There were, of course, many other large rounds over the past five months. After all, we had to get to $1.3 billion somehow.

All of this is to say that investor interest in the blockchain space shows no immediate signs of slowing down, even as the price of bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies hover at less than half of their all-time highs. Considering that regulators are still figuring out how to treat most crypto assets, massive price volatility and dubious real-world utility of the technology, it may surprise some that investors at the riskiest end of the risk capital pool invest as much as they do in blockchain.

Notes on methodology

Like in our February analysis, we first created a list of companies in Crunchbase’s bitcoin, ethereum, blockchaincryptocurrency and virtual currency categories. We added to this list any companies that use those keywords, as well as “digital currency,” “utility token” and “security token” that weren’t previously included in the above categories. After de-duplicating this list, we merged this set of companies with funding rounds data in Crunchbase.

Please note that for some entries in Crunchbase’s round data, the amount of capital raised isn’t known. And, as previously noted, Crunchbase’s data is subject to reporting delays, especially for seed-stage companies. Accordingly, actual funding totals are likely higher than reported here.

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