US hostage mother makes video plea

Steven Sotloff went missing in Syria in August 2013

Shirley Sotloff appeals for the release of her son

The mother of Steven Sotloff, a US journalist being held by Islamic State (IS) militants, has made an emotional video appeal for his release.

Shirley Sotloff addressed her plea directly to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant group.

Mr Sotloff, who vanished last year in Syria, appeared in a video showing the killing of US journalist James Foley.

The militant on the video said his life depended on the next move of US President Barack Obama.

The US has recently carried out dozens of air strikes against IS targets in Iraq.

In her video message, Mrs Sotloff described her son as a journalist who had travelled to the Middle East to cover the “suffering of Muslims under the hands of tyrants”.

“Steven has no control over the actions of the US government. He’s an innocent journalist. I’ve always learned that you, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you to please release my child,” said Mrs Sotloff.

“I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to follow the example set by the Prophet Muhammad.”

Mr Sotloff’s case was not widely reported after his mother was told by IS militants he would be killed if she publicised it.

But last week, Mr Sotloff appeared at the end of an IS video showing the beheading of James Foley.

The masked militant who beheaded Mr Foley held Mr Sotloff by the collar and said: “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”

Analysis: Christopher Voss, ex-FBI hostage negotiator, CEO of Black Swan Group

Shirley Sotloff was respectful of the kidnappers, and that was wise of her. Demonstrating respect is one of the best things to do in these situations, and it’s also one of the hardest things.

The chances of success are slim, and it takes a lot of courage to try something that most likely will fail. To be able to pull yourself together and choose this kind of approach is an indication you’re an extremely strong human being.

Still it’s a wise choice. I believe she would never be able to forgive herself if she hadn’t gone ahead and tried.

Earlier on Wednesday, another US journalist who was recently freed by militants in Syria, thanked everyone who had helped with his release.

Peter Theo Curtis, 45, was released on Sunday after being held captive for almost two years by al-Nusra militants.

I had no idea so much effort was being expended on my behalf, Mr Curtis said

China executes Tiananmen attackers

The Tiananmen crash killed five people and injured 38 others

China has executed eight people in the north-western region of Xinjiang, for what it calls “terrorist” attacks, reports the state news agency Xinhua.

Three of those executed had been convicted of an attack in Tiananmen Square in Beijing last October, in which five people died, Xinhua said.

The others were found guilty of crimes including bomb-making and arson.

The government has accused separatist militants based in Xinjiang of carrying out a string of recent attacks.

Xinjiang is the traditional home of Muslim Uighurs, who speak a distinct language and have different customs to the majority Han population elsewhere in China.

Huseyin Guxur, Yusup Wherniyas and Yusup Ehmet were deprived of political rights for life because of their role in the deadly car crash on Tiananmen Square in October 2013, Xinhua said

 They masterminded the terrorist attack the news agency added.

In the incident, a car rammed into bystanders on the politically important Beijing square before bursting into flames.

Two tourists died, along with three of the attackers.

Xinhua named some of the other men who were executed along with the Tiananmen attack perpetrators

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uighur Congress exile group, called the executions a typical case of the law serving political ends”.

Chinese officials often attribute attacks in Xinjiang to Uighur separatists, accusing them of seeking to establish an independent state called East Turkestan

Beijing has recently blamed them for an attack in May at a market in Urumqi, that left at least 31 people dead

It also accused them of being behind a mass knife attack in the southern province of Yunnan in March, in which 29 were killed and more than 130 injured.

Uighur leaders deny they are co ordinating a terrorist campaign

They say the government’s repressive policies in Xinjiang have provoked the unrest

How does education fit into the referendum debate?

(–As the people of Scotland weigh up how to vote in the independence referendum, they are asking questions on a range of topics from the economy to welfare.

In this series, we are looking at those major questions and by using statistics, analysis and expert views shining a light on some of the possible answers.

Here, we focus on education. Although it is already under the control of the Scottish government at Holyrood both sides of the campaign have seized upon it as an issue.

Do you have a referendum question? Let us know by….

BBC news website users, Dr S Anderson, David Smith, David Wilson, Mario Goodwin, Angus Millar and Lorraine Monaghan have all asked questions about education and the Scottish independence debate.

Yes. Even before devolution in 1999, the Scottish education system was quite distinct from England’s. Since devolution though, the gulf between policies and practice south of the border has widened. For instance, the new fourth year qualifications in Scotland are quite distinct from those in England.

Responsibility for nurseries, schools and colleges lies with Holyrood. Universities guard their independence from the state fiercely but receive some of their funding from the Scottish government through the Scottish Funding Council. As such, the Scottish government can pay for the tuition of Scottish students and work with universities to agree priorities.


Family income spent on childcare in Scotland


Family income spent on childcare in Sweden

50% Families relying on grandparents to help with childcare

79% Councils saying they do not have sufficient childcare

£1,032 Annual shortfall, per child, in council-funded places at private nurseries

Source: Family and Childcare Trust



















Britain average






Supporters of independence argue that an independent Scottish government could have more money to spend on improving the system.

The White Paper on independence highlighted how the SNP hoped to improve childcare if it formed an independent government. However, opponents of independence questioned these plans and stressed constitutional change was not necessary to improve childcare.

Mostly because of issues surrounding universities.

The principle issue concerns the position of students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland at Scottish universities. Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland are charged tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year but Scottish students have their tuition paid by the Scottish government. To comply with European Union rules, students from other EU countries – including the Republic of Ireland – also receive free tuition. This is because it is possible to discriminate between students from different parts of one member state but not between those from other states.

There is fierce debate over whether English, Welsh and Northern Irish students would have to be given free tuition too if Scotland became independent  potentially at a huge cost.

The SNP believes they would not the main opponents of independence believe they would. Ultimately, the matter would probably have to be settled in the European Court in what would be likely to be a lengthy process.

The Scottish government, which currently provides a third of research funds – argues that the current single, UK-wide structure for funding could continue.

Academics for Yes argues that Scotland’s current research base would be protected under independence, pointing to current joint arrangements between the UK and Ireland.

But Academics Together, which is part of the pro-Union Better Together campaign, argues that independence would put research funding at serious risk

No. Changes to school education in England have no direct bearing on Scottish education whatsover. Any decision to copy a Westminster policy or practice is already made in Scotland.

Yes. These matters are negotiated by the schools and exam boards directly so any constitutional change would not have a direct impact.

Chris Brown making strides to sobriety

Singer Chris Brown has managed to intrigue — and infuriate — the public since he first burst onto the scene in 2005. Here’s a timeline of his troubled history:

Los Angeles (CNN)Chris Brown has “made significant strides” in staying sober since he got out of jail in June, the singer’s psychiatrist said.

The doctor’s letter to Brown’s probation officer said he’s working on personal growth” and “is taking responsibility for his behaviors in the two months since he was freed from jail.

Those behaviors have included an alleged sidewalk fight that sent him to jail in Washington, D.C., in October and a violent outburst that got him booted from a drug rehab program in November.

The doctor’s treatment is part of his probation sentence for an attack on then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.

Brown, 25, was in a Los Angeles court on Wednesday for a status hearing on his probation, which will end on January 23, 2015, as long as he stays out of legal trouble and completes another 600 hours of community labor.

Judge James Brandlin praised the singer for his favorable probation report, which is a contrast to several recent reports that culminated in Brown spending four months in court-ordered rehab and three months in jail.

“Mr. Brown has made significant strides in maintaining his sobriety, as well as developing skills that promote personal growth,” wrote the doctor, whose name was deleted from the report.

Read Brown’s probation report (PDF)

He has passed all drug tests since he was freed from the Los Angeles County jail on June 2, the probation report said.

Brandlin rewarded Brown by reducing random drug tests from three times a week to twice each week.

But drug use — specifically marijuana — hasn’t been Brown’s only challenge. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which is blamed for violent outbursts.

Chris Brown apologizes for ‘GMA’ outburst

He still faces trial this fall in Washington on a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from the sidewalk fight.

He was booted from one rehab facility in November because he stormed out of a family counseling session and smashed the window of his mother’s Mercedes with a rock.

But Brown is taking his twice-a-week court-ordered psychological therapy sessions seriously, the doctor said.

“He continues to show great perseverance in implementing recommendations made by his treatment team, utilizing his learned skills and seeking guidance in his recovery process,” his doctor reported.

Brown’s efforts to remain calm and in control appeared successful at the courthouse, despite some tense encounters with the news media covering Wednesday’s hearing.

He quietly watched as a TMZ reporter attempted to get on a courthouse elevator with him after the hearing. He left it to bodyguard Christopher Hollosy to repeatedly nudge the reporter until he was out the door.

Hollosy, a large man who is fiercely protective of his client, was found guilty in April of attacking the same man in Washington that Brown is accused of hitting.

When he encountered news photographers at the front courthouse exit, Brown retreated to a rear door, appearing unshaken and unemotional.

The only woman with Brown at Wednesday’s court date was his mother. She has been with him at almost all the hearings, except immediately after the window-smashing incident.

Rihanna, who reunited with Brown at times in recent years, came to show her support for him at a hearing in February 2013.

Karrueche Tran, his on-again, off-again, girlfriend is off again. She has attended most of Brown’s recent hearings, including the last one in May. She was not in court Wednesday.

Brown was a young teenager when his remarkable dancing and singing talents made him a pop star. He was 19 when he smashed Rihanna’s face with his fist during an argument inside a rented Lamborghini on the evening of the 2009 Grammy Awards.

Rihanna gives painful details of Chris Brown assault

“Mr. Brown continues to work on gaining further insight into his thought processes and is taking responsibility for his behaviors,” his doctor said. “He is also working on personal growth as well as symptom management.”

Send a robot to the moon, win $20 million

Since humanity took its first steps on the moon in 1969, only 12 men have journeyed there. Now Google wants innovators from across the world to send a robot back to the lunar surface. Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin, pictured, with the first lunar rover in 1971.

The Art of Movement is a monthly show that highlights the most significant innovations in science and technology that are helping shape our modern world.

( believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. U.S. President John F. Kennedy speaking before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961.

It was the height of the Cold War and the United States and the Soviet Union were battling it out to be the first nation to put a man on the lunar surface. On July 20, 1969, eight years after President Kennedy implored the U.S. congress for funding for space exploration, NASA’s Apollo 11 spaceflight touched down on the moon. American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans in history to walk on the Earth’s nearest neighbor.

Since then a further 10 men have left their footprints on the moon’s dusty surface, with the last being Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan in 1972. But after this golden age, moon exploration was seen as not cost effective for international space agencies.

Then, last year, China sent its Jade Rabbit explorer on a three-month mission to examine the moon’s crust. But it suffered a critical malfunction just half way through and bid farewell to humanity in a final report (although it is still functioning, according to Chinese press reports). Now Google is shooting for the stars and calling for private organizations to participate in an international competition for innovators to go back to the moon.

The Google Lunar X Prize hopes to spur exploration on the moon and will see a hefty $20 million jackpot handed to the first team that puts a robot on the lunar surface.

But that’s not all there are a few scientific objectives a team must complete in order to obtain the ultimate honors from Google. Once on the moon, the robot must travel 500 meters and transmit HD video back to Earth. And they’ve got to do it all by December 31, 2015.

Read more: Do we need to go back to the moon?

Inspiring innovators

Competition leads to innovation, and the Google Lunar X Prize has brought together some of the brightest and most talented minds to accelerate the private NewSpace sector, says Chanda Gonzales, senior director of the Google Lunar X Prize.

We are encouraged to see this prize pushing the industry to take risks and invest in cutting-edge technologies to support lunar exploration, which will result in an entirely new economy around low-cost access to the moon and beyond.

It is now seven years after the prize was launched and 18 private teams remain in the running. Working tirelessly to secure funding (only 10% of financing can come from government sources) as well as designing and building their individual modules, these international innovators are finally moving into the testing phase.

U.S.-based company Astrobotic was set up off the back of the competition’s announcement, said John Thornton, the company’s CEO.

The Google Lunar X Prize is a catalyst to get started but it is not the end game. What we’re doing as a company is creating a long-term sustainable business of carrying payloads to the moon so it’s like UPS or a FedEx truck that flies regularly to the moon.

In partnership with students from Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Astrobotic is building a lander and a rover as part of its Skylight mission to travel to the rather dramatically named Lacus Mortis meaning Lake of Death. The team hopes to explore a pit that it suspects could be linked to a larger cave network underneath the moon’s surface.

Journeying to the Lake of Death

We think that the right way to settle the moon is underground first. You go underground, you pop up an inflatable or a small habitat under there and you have natural protection from the elements. You’re protected from micrometeorites that come in and the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere to burn them up. You’re protected from radiation, says Thornton.

It’s much easier to sustain long-term life on the surface of the moon so it’s really a game-changer in the catalyst of the future of the moon. That’s why we go there for the first mission: to explore, to see what these [pits] are about, and to cast the vision for the future.

The Astrobotic team will be going down to the wire as it works towards a tentative launch date at the end of 2015 — right before the competition deadline. And it won’t be the only team holding its breath. As part of its funding strategy, Astrobotic has offered to bring up several other prize contenders, essentially creating a secondary moon race within the competition.

Thornton explains: We’ll have other rovers that will deploy from our lander and those rovers will drive out and try to win the X Prize. It will be very much like NASCAR happening live on the moon now and the world will be able to watch, which will be incredibly exciting.

What you don’t want is a provider like us being incentivized to place first and everyone else to come in last. That’s not a good scenario for a partnership so the way we’ve modeled it is in a way that the partners can win and it helps everyone. It’s really like a ‘coop-petition, he adds.

Despite millions of dollars at stake, the Skylight mission comes before the competition, says Thornton. The mission is more important for us. The X Prize teams will be a small portion of the total payload that flies When we land we’ll have payloads from all over the world landing and doing various missions, sub-missions and objectives.”

A moon bunny?

Another team hoping to reach the lunar surface is Moon Express, which is building a hopper to bounce across the rocky terrain.

When you are on the moon you have one-sixth gravity and there’s no air resistance so we kind of use those to our advantage. And since we already have a spacecraft already designed to autonomously land, it’s pretty trivial for it to repeat that and just hop, says the company’s public outreach liaison Brad Kohlenberg.

Competitions like this offer the opportunity to get closer to untapped resources as well as inspire future generations, adds Kohlenberg.

It is recreating what we call the  Apollo effect, he says. “During the Apollo program, we inspired a generation of children who grew up to build their own industries and companies and now these billionaires are reinvesting and building things, investing in space companies.

You have Virgin Galactic from Richard Branson, you have Elon Musk all these people that are called Orphans of Apollo people who grew up thinking they would go to college and space and then once they got there, realizing that the space program kind of left them behind and so now they are using their own resources to reinvest in that and make the dreams they had when they were younger a reality.

It’s not about scientific discovery

For space scientist Lucie Green, this competition is more about technological payoff than scientific discovery.

These missions are always about process, she says. So the first mission is about technology can we get there? Can we build something that is robust enough to survive in the extreme environment of space? And then the science comes later. So I think first of all, this is very much about a technology development.

Green, who is a Royal Society University Research Fellow based at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at the University College London, uses Mars as an analogy to reveal why it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that little scientific research will come out of this particular endeavor.

The first technology to land on the surface of Mars was primitive really. It was all about getting to the Martian surface and surviving and here we are several decades after the Viking landed and we’re still looking for life, we’re still looking at challenging questions. You go, you learn, you feedback. You develop new instrumentation that’s more capable, that can record more data, can transmit more data, and can be more sophisticated each time.

She adds: “So for me, this is — I don’t want to say primitive because its not primitive — but it’s not going to be the science be all and end all. This is the start of the process.”

READ: Why solar flares aren’t just fireworks in space

SEE: Capturing the Cosmos through a lens

EXPLORE: Take a look under Curiosity’s hood

Five spectacular art fair cities

A security guard stands next to a sculpture by American artist Jeff Koons at , or TEFAF, on March 14. The fair takes place every year in Maastricht.

Editor’s note: The City is a CNN special series that profiles the sustainable urban future of five cities over five days. Watch the show every day during our special theme week starting Monday, Aug 19 on “World Business Today” at 1300 GMT and “Connect The World” at 2000 GMT.

(CNN) — If you’re of the opinion that the only thing better than viewing great art is owning it, put these destinations on your travel itinerary.

Not only are they cities renowned for their beauty, their museums and their architecture, they are the sites of the world’s great art fairs. From ancient objects to art that was conceived yesterday, these carefully curated fairs offer the best of the best to their audiences.

Attending one is like walking through a museum where everything is for sale — to anyone with adequate funds. Yet even if you’re not equipped to buy, you can still visit these fairs, take part in the spectacle and feed your aspirations.

5 train stations worth a stop

Maastricht, The Netherlands

Held annually in Maastricht, the European Fine Art Fair is the art fair by which all others are measured.

“There is no other fair like it,” says Lawrence Steigrad, a New York City fine art dealer who specializes in Old Master paintings. At the fair in March, he sold an 1810 painting by Dutch artist Nicolaas Baur to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

That’s the level of “shopper” who attends this fair: museum curators, serious collectors and those who aspire to be serious collectors. Calvin Klein and Kanye West are among those who have been spotted at the invitation-only preview day in recent years. They come because the quality and authenticity of every piece — from antiquities to contemporary art — undergoes what is acknowledged in the art world to be the strictest vetting process of any art fair.

After the preview day, the fair is open to all. The ticket price is considerable, but the chance to see and possibly purchase such art, antiques and objects is extraordinary. The next fair takes place March 14-23, 2014, and there’s talk of launching a TEFAF Beijing fair as well.

Maastricht, in the southern Netherlands near Belgium, is known as a place where Amsterdam residents go for a weekend break.

The cafes and restaurants around Vrijthof Square are lively and comfortable. Selexyz Dominicanen, housed in a former Dominican church, is one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores, and the Bonnefantenmuseum is an excellent place to see art all year round.

The places where masterpieces are born


Ever since its debut four years ago, Masterpiece London has been gaining a reputation as a mini-TEFAF. Installed in a specially built pavilion on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, Masterpiece specializes in fine art, antiques and design, and adds luxury goods — cars, yachts, watches and wines — to the mix of offerings.

Everything is vetted, everything is expensive, and Prince Harry was one of the VIP attendees in 2011. The list of exhibitors is hovering around 200 for this year’s fair, which will take place June 26-July 3.

Yet the even newer fair that everyone’s talking about now is Frieze Masters, an adjunct to Frieze London, both of which will take place October 17-20. While Frieze London showcases contemporary art, Frieze Masters, which premiered in 2012, is for everything pre-21st-century.

Last year’s exhibitors included 90 international dealers; attendees included curators from around the world; and sales included ancient Mesopotamian artifacts, Renaissance marbles, a couple of Picassos and a Joan Miró painting with an eight-figure asking price.

When you’re in London, it’s never hard to find great art to visit at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Tate Modern the British Museum or the Royal Academy of Arts. Put the London Transport Museum on your list as well. Its “Poster Art 150 — London Underground’s Greatest Designs” exhibition (through October 27) features art that everyone can understand.

Gatsby’s Gold Coast: 8 grand estates


There are other biennial international art exhibitions, but when people talk about “the Biennale,” they’re talking about Venice.

This being an odd-numbered year, the city is preparing the 55th Venice Biennale — a nearly six-month-long festival (June 1 to November 24) with pavilions and art installations throughout the city. An architecture Biennale runs in even-numbered years.

The Biennale seeps into every nook and cranny of the city, and the year won’t be the only odd thing about it. For artists, the chance to represent their countries at the Venice Biennale can be a career-making moment. The path to greatness isn’t easy, however, and neither is the art, which is typically conceptual, avant-garde and often (not to put too fine a point on it) just plain weird.

Of the 88 nations represented by national pavilions, 10 are exhibiting for the first time. One is Bahamian artist Tavares Strachan whose installation includes a re-enactment of Robert Peary’s 1909 expedition to the North Pole. The installation by Vincent J.F. Huang, representing Tuvalu (another first-time participant) involves suicidal penguins. Sarah Sze will represent the United States with an installation called “Triple Point.” Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is one of four international artists who will create the installation in the German pavilion.

At times, it can seem that the Biennale is inescapable. Whether that’s good or bad depends on your taste.

If, after seeing the newest of the new, you’re longing for a cleansing immersion in classical or decorative art, the 11 museums of the Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia will satisfy you.

Basel, Switzerland

When it comes to art fairs that truly put their cities on the map, Art Basel tops the list. In 1970, three Basel gallery owners joined forces and invited their “gallerist” colleagues to Basel to exhibit the works of their current clients. Ninety galleries from 10 countries exhibited, more than 16,000 people attended, and with that one bold move, Basel became a modern and contemporary art pilgrimage destination.

The 2012 Art Basel saw 300 galleries from 36 countries exhibiting and more than 65,000 curators and collectors attending. It’s a happening — and no one who’s passionate about contemporary art would miss it.

Art Basel is limited to 20th and 21st century art, and the emphasis is on the new. So, yes, you’ll see Warhol and the occasional Leger, but you’re more likely to encounter Cindy Sherman, Phyllida Barlow, Edward Ruscha, and Takashi Murakami among the offerings (and possibly among the attendees). In addition to the gallery exhibitors, there are installations of site-specific artworks open to the public free of charge in the Art Parcours section of the fair.

The next Art Basel takes place June 13-16, 2013.

With 40 museums to serve a population of around 165,000, Basel rightly claims the title of Switzerland’s culture capital. Recently, Kunstmuseum Basel has been welcoming crowds for its excellent Picasso retrospective (through July 21). In nearby Weil am Rhein, Germany, the Vitra Design Museum is celebrating the work of American architect Louis Kahn (through August 11).

Just as thrilling to locals and sports fans alike, the local soccer team, FC Basel, was the defending Swiss champion until they were defeated on Monday by Zurich-based club Grasshopper for the Swiss Cup title.

Miami Beach, Florida

It’s not really cheating to include Art Basel Miami Beach on this list. Yes, the show is an offshoot of the original in Switzerland, but as it approaches its 12th year, Art Basel Miami Beach has earned its stripes in the art community — and not merely because it gives everyone an excuse to visit Florida in the winter. (The even newer Art Basel Hong Kong kicks off its inaugural show this month, from May 23 to 26.)

Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Art Basel Miami Beach features more than 200 exhibitors showcasing the work of some 4,000 artists and competition to be included is fierce — close to 700 galleries applied to show at Art Basel Miami Beach last year.

As at the original Art Basel, the focus here is on the new, but in Miami Beach, there’s emphasis on artists and galleries from the United States and Latin America. The Art Nova and Art Positions sections of the fair showcase recent works, and young and emerging artists. The Art Public section, organized in cooperation with the Bass Museum of Art, places art installations in Collins Park.

The next Art Basel Miami Beach takes place December 5-8.

Miami and Miami Beach have a number of private art collections open to the public.

The Rubell Family Collection is among the world’s most respected private collections, featuring works by top 20th century artists and burgeoning contemporary artists. The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse includes works by Olafur Eliasson, Sol LeWitt, Willem de Kooning and Richard Serra. And in 2009, Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz opened the de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space to showcase their collection of contemporary art.

Sony’s profits jump on sales of PS4

The PS4 has helped Sony overtake rival Nintendo in game console sales

Sony has reported better-than-expected profit for the first quarter, helped by robust sales of its PS4 gaming console and a weak Japanese currency.

Net profit was 25.7bn yen ($250m; £148m) in the three months to 30 June, up from 3.1bn yen a year ago.

Sales at its gaming console division rose almost 96% during the period.

Sony, which has been restructuring its business after years of losses, still expects a net loss of 50bn yen for the financial year through March 2015.

The firm said its operating profit during the period was also boosted in part by a gain of 14.8bn yen on the sale of certain buildings and premises.

Sony’s PlayStation 4, which was launched in November last year, has emerged as the bestselling new gen console.

Its success has helped Sony overtake rival Nintendo in sales of game consoles for the first time in eight years.

Sony sold 18.7 million systems in the last financial year – which ended in March – compared with Nintendo’s tally of 16.3 million video games machines.

The figures also include sales of the older PS3 and original Wii, in addition to Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita handhelds.

On Thursday, Sony said its games unit made an operating profit of 4.3bn yen during the first quarter, compared with an operating loss of 16.4bn yen during the same period last year.

What can stop hot car deaths?

Editor’s note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor at-large covering family, career and life. She is a mom of two girls. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

(BURSA ESCORT) — While the case of the Georgia father accused of intentionally leaving his toddler son to die in a hot car continues to grip the nation, it has also sparked a debate about whether more could be done to prevent the accidental deaths of children from heatstroke inside a car.

Is it an issue for the automakers to tackle voluntarily? Should the federal government mandate a driver-reminder alert? Is it solely a matter of parental responsibility? Those are just some of the questions parents across the country, experts and public officials are asking.

Today, in most new cars, you hear an alert if a driver or passenger is not wearing a seat belt or if you leave the key in the ignition when you get out of the vehicle.

Beginning in 2018, another major safety feature will become a requirement. Under a final rule issued earlier this year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all new cars will be required to have rear-visibility technology. More than 200 people 31% of them children under five are killed annually in unintentional backing incidents, according to the government agency.

The national nonprofit is one of the organizations that helped get the rear visibility standard passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008.

Change has come slowly, said Janette Fennell, the group’s founder, noting that it has taken six years since the president’s signature for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue the final rule, and it will take four more years for the standard to be fully in effect.

What’s next in case of Georgia father whose child died in hot car?

We won’t have 100% of our vehicles meeting the rear visibility standard until 2018, and … you know the numbers of how many people are going to be killed and injured, said Fennell, who created her organization after she and her husband were kidnapped and locked in their trunk while their 10-month-old child was taken somewhere else.

They managed to escape and find their baby, who was also unharmed, but the experience led to the creation of The group’s first victory was a regulation that all new cars beginning in 2002 include a trunk release that glows visibly in the dark interior of a car trunk.

We do not know of one fatality in the trunk of a car that has that little release, she said in an interview.

Fennell and her organization have have been following the issue of children dying from heatstroke in cars for more than a decade. At least 44 children died from child vehicular heatstroke in 2013, according to her agency. She believes the technology exists today that could dramatically save lives.

READ: After leaving a child in a car, ‘that pain … never goes away’

You can’t buy a car (today) that doesn’t turn your headlights off for you or remind you to turn off your headlights, said Fennell, who argues these changes in cars show that the auto industry knows people are human and will forget to do things like turn off the car’s lights.

And the question just begging to be answered is, who has decided it’s more important not to have a dead car battery than a dead baby? And I don’t say that to be harsh or sensational. It’s just a fact.

NHTSA: Technology not there yet

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration did a study, as CNN reported back in 2012, and concluded that the devices that existed at that time to try to reduce infant heatstroke deaths were not reliable enough.

In fact, we recommend against people relying on the products … to protect their most precious cargo, said David Friedman, the agency’s acting administrator, in an interview.

Friedman said while the agency was able to conclude that rear visibility technology can protect children and adults from back-over incidents, the technology to protect children and adults from heatstroke just doesn’t seem to be there yet.

Yet is an important word there, said Friedman, who says his agency continues to evaluate new technologies.

OPINION: I, too, left my child in a hot car

The focus now, says Friedman, is on making sure people follow some simple safety tips that, if followed, can reduce infant car heatstroke by 100%: tips such as look before you lock, or put a reminder in the back of your car such as your cell phone, pocketbook or briefcase — something you just wouldn’t leave your car without — to remind you that you have a child in the back seat.

Another tip is to always lock your car and keep the keys out of reach, since about 30% of fatalities from vehicular heatstroke come from children who decided to play in the car, said Friedman. He said another 20% of the deaths come from people who knowingly left their kids in the car, thinking they would be gone only a short time.

The sad reality is all it takes is a few minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to turn deadly, said Friedman.

States across the country aren’t waiting for the federal government or the auto industry to step in, and are calling for new laws on the books. Nineteen states currently make it illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle, according to Two of those states are doing more: A new law in Tennessee now protects bystanders who break into a hot car to rescue a child from being held liable for damages, and in Connecticut, there is a push to stiffen penalties for leaving a child unattended in a car.

Parents: Mixed opinions on role of government

Has awareness of the problem and a desire to do more to prevent these deaths risen to a level where there is a demand for a government mandate?

In conversations with parents across the country, there’s a real difference of opinion.

Janis Brett Elspas, a mom of four in Los Angeles, thinks we need a government-required alert signal to prevent people from forgetting children in cars.

Latest in Georgia hot car death case

The problem is, like wearing a seat belt itself, people still ignore the warning light (and) sound that appears on their dashboard, added Elspas, founder of the blog Mommy Blog Expert. Government-mandated education of parents is also needed, she said.

Julie DeNeen, a mom of three in Clinton, Connecticut, thinks the government should require that car seats come outfitted with a technology to alert the driver that a child is still there when the car stops, just as the government already sets guidelines on height and weight restrictions for a car seat and use of a 5-point harness.

No one argues about the government setting the specifications for a car seat, said DeNeen. It would be a small effort on the part of the company and make a big impact on children’s lives.

Cynthia Lieberman, co founder of, a site focused on helping parents, educators and children use digital media safely, thinks the government could put guidelines in place for in-car child safety monitoring tools, guidelines the auto industry would be required to follow.

Adults should have the option to use the car manufacturer’s device or select their own monitoring system, she said, pointing to one device, a Cars N Kids car seat monitor that sends an alert to your smart phone if the car seat is too hot or cold, or the child gets out of the seat.

But on the other side are many voices that say this is not an issue for the government.

Honestly, people need to slow down and focus, said Rhonda Woods, a mom of three in New Milford, Connecticut, who says the topic has sparked a big discussion in her house for the past week.

There is no need to be so engrossed in our phones or our own minds that we lose touch with those around us, very specifically, our kids.

Laura Beyer, a mom of two grown children in West Allis, Wisconsin, and blogger for the local newspaper’s website, agrees. I would hate to have the government intervene on such basic parenting skills, she said. I can bet $1 million that parents remember to grab their cell phones, purses and such, but how the heck can they forget a human being they claim to love?

Other parents think voluntary technology that parents can choose is a better solution.

It should be an add-on option that when purchasing a car, a buyer can choose, said David LeRoy, a father of two boys in Chicago, who created a Facebook group for African-American fathers last year.

To others, the larger issue, which government regulation and technology can’t really impact, is parents who knowingly leave their children in cars and don’t realize the dangers of such an act.

Elizabeth Flora Ross, a mom of a five year old in Jacksonville, Florida, and a former marketing executive turned freelance writer, recently witnessed and wrote about a case of a baby left in a hot car in her community. Thankfully, the baby was OK.

When she asked her Facebook followers how many people have left their kids in cars, she was surprised by not just the number of parents who admitted they had, but how they didn’t feel there is anything wrong with it.

Perhaps regulation would make parents think twice. But I believe the key lies in building awareness of the dangers and working to change attitudes and behaviors.