Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman’

How To Help Children Orphaned By Ebola

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 05 2015

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Promise Cooper, 16, Emmanuel Junior Cooper, 11, and Benson Cooper, 15, of Monrovia lost their mother, Princess, in July and their father, Emmanuel, in August.

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Promise Cooper, 16, Emmanuel Junior Cooper, 11, and Benson Cooper, 15, of Monrovia lost their mother, Princess, in July and their father, Emmanuel, in August.

Promise Cooper, 16, Emmanuel Junior Cooper, 11, and Benson Cooper, 15, of Monrovia lost their mother, Princess, in July and their father, Emmanuel, in August.

Jerome Delay/AP

The Ebola epidemic has taken a heartbreaking toll on children.

More than 1,000 children have died from the disease. Even more have lost parents, grandparents and siblings.

“To date, 16,600 children have been registered as having lost one or both parents or primary caregivers,” UNICEF‘s Timothy James Irwin writes in an email. “We would define all these children as ‘orphans.’ “

These children need immediate help, he says. They need food, clothing, health care and psychological support.

About 97 percent of these children have been taken in by a relative or close family friend, UNICEF reports. The others are in temporary shelters because they’ve been exposed to the virus and must be quarantined, or they are waiting for a family member to come and take them home.

“Eventually we aim to place all these children in family-based care arrangements,” Irwin writes. “Very few children will have no home to go to at the end of the crisis.”

Even when a home is found, these children are at high risk for physical abuse, marginalization, teenage pregnancy and being forced to work, the British charity Street Child reported last month.

Many children are traumatized by the death of a parent, says Paolo Lubrano, who directs Plan International‘s aid work in Liberia. “Most of the children who have lost a parent are in high distress and isolated from their families,” he says.

And in most instances, foster families need financial support to take care of extra children.

“These families are already relatively poor,” Lubrano says. “We need to provide them with food or cash — even just enough money so the kid can go back to a relatively normal life. So they can have clothes, boots and can go back to school.”

Plan International runs two centers in Liberia for children waiting to be placed with a family member or in a foster home. They’re hoping to open a few more centers across the country soon.

“While the number of Ebola cases have dropped significantly in Liberia, a number of children have been falling through the cracks,” Lubrano says. “At the moment we’re dealing with about 230 children.”

The centers set up by Plan International offer children basic care, toys, educational activities and some psychological support. The organization is also ensuring foster families have hygiene supplies to keep Ebola — and other diseases — out of homes.

The Ebola crisis has opened up the opportunity to improve children’s lives, in general, in West Africa, UNICEF’s Irwin writes.

“For example, in Sierra Leone, there has been a ban on FGM/C [female genital mutilation/cutting] as a result of Ebola,” Irwin writes. “It will be important to try and use this opportunity to put an end to this practice for good.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/03/04/388721367/how-to-help-children-orphaned-by-ebola?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Is Fighting Racism In Soccer ‘A Lost Cause’? FIFA President Says No.

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 05 2015

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Soccer player Dani Alves has said fighting against racism in Spanish soccer is a lost cause.

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Soccer player Dani Alves has said fighting against racism in Spanish soccer is a lost cause.

Soccer player Dani Alves has said fighting against racism in Spanish soccer is a lost cause.

David Ramos/Getty Images

FIFA president Sepp Blatter says he’s concerned about the findings of a recent study regarding racism in Russia, which will host the 2018 World Cup.

The report, by the Fare network and SOVA Center, found more than 200 incidents of discrimination in Russian soccer between 2012 and 2014. The Fare network is an organization dedicated to combating racism in European soccer. The SOVA Center, based in Moscow, does research on nationalism and racism.

This is not the first time Blatter has addressed racism in Russian soccer. In 2014, he asked President Vladimir Putin to tackle the problem.

The Globe And Mail quotes Blatter speaking earlier today to the presidents of South American football confederations and other officials in Paraguay. “We must deduct points, relegate a team [to a lesser division],” he said. “The moment we have the courage to do that discrimination will end.”

Incidents of racism are not limited to Russia. In Spain, fans often yell macaco, or “monkey,” to black players. Last year, NPR’s Gene Demby wrote about the infamous banana incident during a match between FC Barcelona and VIllareal CF in Spain. Brazilian player Dani Alves was setting up to take a corner kick, when a fan launched a banana at him. Alves took a bite, afterwards joking on Twitter that he was grateful for the extra potassium. The man who threw the banana, a 26-year-old youth soccer coach, was banned for life from Villarreal’s stadium, and the Villarreal team was fined 12,000 euros by the Spanish soccer federation.

In an interview, Alves addressed the incident. “To me, sadly, the fight against racism is a lost cause and until more drastic measures are taken it will continue to exist” he said. “I have been in Spain for 10 years and since the first year these things have happened.”

Alves adds, “You have to look at how the issue is dealt with in other places, for example, in England. It rarely happens there and when it does, the punishment is severe.”

NPR’s Gene Demby recently interviewed Laurent Dubois, a Duke University historian who wrote Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France. He told Gene that racism in European soccer was at levels unheard of in U.S. sports, and that it was fueled by deep-seated anxieties about immigration to Europe. In other words, major sports in the U.S. do not involve large numbers of immigrants, certainly not like European soccer does. Dubois also said that while players and managers can be easily sanctioned, fans are harder to monitor.

That became clear during the 2014 World Cup, which was marred by racist incidents, including offensive chants at games involving Russia and Croatia, and German fans showing up at a game against Ghana wearing blackface.

Just last month, NPR reported that British soccer team Chelsea banned three fans over a racist incident on the Paris Metro, caught on video. NPR listener Blythe Rodgers is a black Chelsea fan. Rogers also expressed doubts about how much FIFA can actually achieve, but suppored “stripping season tickets from the fools on the Paris Metro and banning them from games. Repeat offenders should be subject to the travel sanctions of old in which they were put right back on the train/plane.”

But other NPR soccer fans where more skeptical. Listener Rick Spies wrote, “They’re threatening Russia and not Qatar? The mind boggles.” Spies was referring to allegations that hundreds of immigrant employees died on construction projects for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/03/04/390707630/is-fighting-racism-in-soccer-a-lost-cause-fifa-president-says-no?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Many French Muslims Find Lives Of Integration, Not Separation

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 05 2015

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Three women, two of them partially veiled, walk past a hijabs shop in Paris. The wearing of the veil has been a serious point of contention in France, with the government banning its use in public schools and the wearing of face-covering garments, including burqas and niqabs, in public.

Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images


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Three women, two of them partially veiled, walk past a hijabs shop in Paris. The wearing of the veil has been a serious point of contention in France, with the government banning its use in public schools and the wearing of face-covering garments, including burqas and niqabs, in public.

Three women, two of them partially veiled, walk past a hijabs shop in Paris. The wearing of the veil has been a serious point of contention in France, with the government banning its use in public schools and the wearing of face-covering garments, including burqas and niqabs, in public.

Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Excited children shout out the answers during a Sunday afternoon Arabic class at the grand mosque in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil. The mosque has thousands of worshipers and is one of the largest in Western Europe.

Aboubakar Sabri is a part-time imam there. During the week he runs a successful elevator-construction firm in Paris. Sabri came to France from Morocco in 1980 for doctoral studies at the Sorbonne, then stayed and raised three daughters.

He says Muslims can live perfectly well in French secular society.

“We’ve succeeded in France, and we are totally integrated,” he says. “Our kids attend the public schools. We love France. On Friday we say prayers for France, because if France is in good shape so are we. We are all in the same boat.”

These days there is a lot of talk about the couple hundred Muslims suspected of being involved in extremist activities — and about those who feel excluded from French society.

But the fact remains that France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe — a number estimated to be anywhere between 5 million and 8 million — and the vast majority are integrated into French society and helping shape the future of the country.

Things have been tense since three self-proclaimed Islamist extremists attacked satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store in Paris in January, killing 17 people.

In jarring contrast to the children playing at the Argenteuil mosque, there also are three heavily armed French soldiers who now live there to protect the congregation.

Sabri says everyone is glad to have them. There have been thousands of Islamophobic attacks around the country since the January attacks. Sabri laments that some people lump all Muslims together with what he calls “the crazy killers.”

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Jamel Debbouz, a Frenchman of North African descent, is one of his country’s most popular comedians and actors. But overall French media are limited in their portrayal of Muslim characters, television producer Amirouche Laidi says.

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Jamel Debbouz, a Frenchman of North African descent, is one of his country's most popular comedians and actors. But overall French media are limited in their portrayal of Muslim characters, television producer Amirouche Laidi says.

Jamel Debbouz, a Frenchman of North African descent, is one of his country’s most popular comedians and actors. But overall French media are limited in their portrayal of Muslim characters, television producer Amirouche Laidi says.

Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images

Television producer Amirouche Laidi says the media plays a big role in stigmatizing Muslims, because they are underrepresented except when it comes to news or films related to Islamist extremism. He is working to show a more realistic representation of ordinary French people of Muslim background in films, advertisements and television.

We watch a skit of French comedian Jamel Debbouz, a Frenchman of North African descent and one of the country’s most popular actors. But Laidi says there are too few like him in France.

“A country’s media creates a sort of common, imaginary world, a view of how we all live together,” he says. “The lack of Muslims on the screen, and the warped view shown of them is chipping away at our feeling of togetherness as a nation.”

Laidi says that could lead some French people who might not know any Muslims to believe that Muslim lifestyles are incompatible with the values of the French Republic — a notion he calls “completely false.”

Laidi, who is a second generation Frenchman with Algerian and Muslim roots, is also deputy mayor of the well-heeled town of Suresnes, west of Paris, and one of his duties is officiating courthouse marriages. He says statistics show France has the highest number of mixed unions between people of different religions and ethnic groups of any country in Europe.

“France is a very multiethnic country,” he says, “but you wouldn’t know it watching television.”

Laidi blames the country’s political elite for not understanding and taking the right steps to fix the problems. One of the biggest barriers to integration and social mixing in France are the banlieues — rings of housing projects around major French cities that are overwhelmingly populated by families who are poor, immigrant and Muslim.

Journalism student Amira Bouziri says she hopes to be a TV news reporter. The 23-year-old, whose parents emigrated to Paris from Tunisia, says she never has faced discrimination. What annoys her, she says, is all the talk about Muslims and integration.

“No one talks about Buddhists or Jews integrating,” she says. “Why would it be more difficult for Muslims?”

But Bouziri admits things might be different if she wore a headscarf, or lived in one of the public housing projects far from the city center.

“I do think I’m lucky to be raised and educated here in Paris,” she says. “I thank my father for that. He worked for the post office and was offered a bigger place on the outskirts of town, but he wanted to stay in the center of the city — even in a smaller apartment — for our education and for the city’s cultural life.”

As a hard-working, born-and-bred Parisian, Bouziri says, she’s always assumed she’ll have the same chances as any other citizen of France.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/03/04/390757729/for-many-french-muslims-a-life-of-integration-not-separation?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Debate About French Muslim Identity Plays Out In Hip-Hop

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 04 2015

Copyright © 2015 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Muslims make up about 7 percent of the population in France. The majority of them live in the outer suburbs of Paris. Many French Muslims struggle with how to define themselves – by nationality, by religion? They say the strict separation of church and state there, known as laicite, doesn’t help. Commentator Hisham Aidi says you can hear that frustration in the music that young French Muslims listen to. We asked him to share his thoughts for our series on Muslims in Western Europe.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MISUNDERSTOOD”)

HISHAM AIDI: This is (foreign language spoken), a hip-hop group from (foreign language spoken), just south of Paris. And this song, “Misunderstood,” is about not belonging and not being accepted in France. I was born here and I’m still called an immigrant, goes one lyric. It’s also a song about colonial history, ghetto-ization and the grim housing projects where these artists live. French hip-hop artists have long had an uneasy relationship with law enforcement. Rappers have been sued for verbally abusing the police, accused of setting back integration and of using incendiary language. French politicians cringe when hip-hop artists speak of ghettoes. That’s a loaded term, they say – an American label and an American problem. (Foreign language spoken) raps about these ghettos and the underside of the French dream.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

AIDI: But French Muslims are conflicted about what music best reflects their experience. In fact, the debate about Muslim identity in France increasingly revolves around music, with different political camps arguing that one style is more conducive to integration than another. If hip-hop fans claim their music rattles their very concepts of laicite and integration, their critics argue that French Muslims need to move beyond protest and that angry lyrics about alienation will only further isolate the community. They call for something less confrontational.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIVERSITY OF GNAWA SONG)

AIDI: That was the University of Gnawa, and for some French Muslim activists, this is the kind of soothing, non-threatening music that can ease Muslim youth into the cultural mainstream. The rhythms of the Gnawa Brotherhood of Morocco and their Sufi chants, especially when fused with the sounds of the accordion and the piano, convey soft, pluralistic Islam that can charm the French majority.

(SOUNDBITE OF GNAWA BROTHERHOOD OF MOROCCO SONG)

AIDI: But critics ask, how will trance scene (ph) and night clubs to Gnawa chants (ph) address the unemployment intention that French Muslims face? And then there is rai music, which became popular among young North Africans in the 1980s, the soundtrack of everyday life in Algeria.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

AIDI: In the ’90s, a number of rai artists were exiled to Paris and they too began singing about life in the French suburbs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “GOING FAR AWAY”)

AIDI: This song, (foreign language spoken), “Going Far Away,” is about belonging neither here nor there. Rai artists in North Africa once sang of a ship that would come and take them across the blue sea to France. Now that they’ve arrived, they’re still waiting for their destination. In the current debate about French Muslim identity, this wrangling over music continues.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “GOING FAR AWAY”)

BLOCK: Hisham Aidi is the author of “Rebel Music.”

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

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Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/03/390484853/debate-about-french-muslim-identity-plays-out-in-hip-hop?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Tea Tuesdays: Kenyan Farmers See Green In The Color Purple

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 04 2015

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Three varieties of Kenyan purple tea from What-Cha: silver needle purple varietal white tea (from left), hand-rolled purple varietal oolong, steamed purple varietal green tea-style tea.

Jeff Koehler for NPR


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Three varieties of Kenyan purple tea from What-Cha: silver needle purple varietal white tea (from left), hand-rolled purple varietal oolong, steamed purple varietal green tea-style tea.

Three varieties of Kenyan purple tea from What-Cha: silver needle purple varietal white tea (from left), hand-rolled purple varietal oolong, steamed purple varietal green tea-style tea.

Jeff Koehler for NPR

Across the picturesque highlands of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, fields of tea shimmer in shades of emerald, lime and moss under the equatorial sky.

Some of these fields, though, are now darkened with patches of purple. The purple comes from leaves with high levels of anthocyanins, natural pigments that also give cranberries, beets and grapes their color.

Tea Tuesdays is an occasional series on The Salt that explores the science, history, culture and economics of this ancient brewed beverage.

These purple leaves are Africa’s newest — and most intriguing — tea.

At the moment, they are being made into a handful of different styles. The most popular, according to Alistair Rea, owner of the online retailer What-Cha, is a delightful hand-rolled oolong, a traditional Chinese tea. There’s also a simple steamed green tea-style tea — the freshly plucked leaves that are steamed before rolling to stop any oxidation — and a subtle, high-end silver needle white tea with spiky, airy buds that have a fuzz of fine, silvery hairs.

Each tea carries grassy, plummy aromas, and its steeped liquor, with a slightly purple tinge to the color, has earthy flavors and undertones of berry sweetness.

Kenya is the world’s third-largest producer of tea, and nearly all of the almost 1 billion pounds produced in 2014 were a brisk black tea processed by the cut-tear-curl, or CTC, method. Mainly exported in bulk, this tea goes largely into English breakfast, Earl Grey and other blends.

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A field of purple tea growing in Kenya.

Courtesy of the Tea Research Institute


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Courtesy of the Tea Research Institute

A field of purple tea growing in Kenya.

A field of purple tea growing in Kenya.

Courtesy of the Tea Research Institute

Kenya’s industry is dominated by some 560,000 small farmers who bring their plucked leaves to the 60 or so factories run by the Kenya Tea Development Agency for processing. These account for about 60 percent of the country’s production, with large-scale producers like Finlays and Unilever making up the remainder.

But the CTC market is saturated, global competition is stiff and auction prices are volatile. At the end of 2014, prices were down to near-historic lows as record harvests left a glut on the market.

As part of a long-term project to diversify the industry that accounts for over a quarter of the country’s export earnings and directly or indirectly employs 4 million Kenyans, the state-run Tea Research Institute spent 25 years developing the purple variety, officially named TRFK 306.

Along with carrying those anthocyanin pigments, the new hybrid is high-yielding, contains properties to make it resistant to drought, frost, and certain natural pests, and has large leaves making hand-plucking easy, according to the Tea Research Institute. In July 2011, it was released for commercial production.

The first batches of Kenyan purple tea arrived at U.S. tea shops like Phoenix Tea in Burien, Wash., in 2012. While purple tea still isn’t widely known or coveted, Phoenix co-owner Virginia “Cinnabar” Wright says that its quality makes it more than just a novelty. “[Our customers] try because they are interested,” she tells The Salt. “Then they come back.”

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Kenya hand-rolled purple varietal oolong (left) and silver needle purple varietal white tea leaves (right) from the online retailer What-Cha.

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Kenya hand-rolled purple varietal oolong (left) and silver needle purple varietal white tea leaves (right) from the online retailer What-Cha.

Kenya hand-rolled purple varietal oolong (left) and silver needle purple varietal white tea leaves (right) from the online retailer What-Cha.

Jeff Koehler for NPR

As pleasing as the unique flavors might be, TRFK 306 was never developed for its taste.

Instead, TRI breeders were most interested in creating “a high-value medicinal tea product.” A number of scientific studies done inside and outside Kenya on purple tea suggest that its anthocyanins may help protect against neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

“Anthocyanins have capacity to scavenge for free radicals and thus are good antioxidants,” says Stephen Karori Mbuthia, a biochemist at Egerton University, Kenya’s premier agricultural public university, and lead author of a recent study.

Seduced by the potential of TRFK 306, many farmers ripped out their old bushes and replanted with the new varietal. But some are finding there is nowhere to take their leaves for processing.

That’s because specialty purple teas require a processing style different from the country’s standard CTC.

At the moment, only one of KTDA’s factories is able to handle the new leaves. But purple tea accounts for only a tiny fraction of the factory’s annual output of 6.6 million pounds.

While farmers close to that factory can deliver their freshly plucked purple leaves there, growers elsewhere in Kenya are generally forced to have theirs processed along with standard black CTC tea.

That could soon change. The KTDA plans to set up smaller processing plants to handle the first crop of purple tea that farmers planted in 2011 that’s now maturing.

Tea giant Finlays has planted some purple tea in its Kenya fields but is still trying to identify the market and its customers before releasing anything. “This is a new product and we do not yet know whether its value will be as a beverage in its own right, or as an ingredient, or as an extract,” says Ashleigh Kahrl, group head of corporate communications for Finlays.

Kenya had better hurry, though, if it wants to take a firm hold on this potentially lucrative market.

At the end of December, Pradip Baruah, the principal scientist at India’s Tocklai Tea Research Institute, said that wild purple tea bushes had been recently found growing in Assam and that region, in northeastern India, had tremendous potential for cultivating it.

This would be something of a reversal. Planters introduced tea to Kenya in 1903 with seeds from Assam and began to commercially plant the crop in 1924. “It’s time we took a leaf out of Kenya’s tea book,” Baruah told the Kolkata-based Telegraph.

India produces 2 1/2 times more tea than Kenya. But more relevant is the industry’s diverse styles of manufacturing, producing such refined, celebrated orthodox-style teas as Darjeeling. India has the means to kick-start a full-blown purple tea craze.

While you can’t order a cup of purple tea at your local Teavana yet, you can get the leaves from select specialty tea shops and online retailers.

But don’t be surprised to see it showing up in supermarkets in the near future, with the tea, or perhaps with the superfoods. Just call this one supertea.

Jeff Koehler is a freelance writer and author. His book Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea will be published in May by Bloomsbury. You can follow him on Twitter: @koehlercooks

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/03/03/390442285/tea-tuesdays-kenyan-farmers-see-green-in-the-color-purple?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

In France, Young Muslims Often Straddle Two Worlds

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 04 2015

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Gare du Nord railway station is what British historian Andrew Hussey calls “the frontier zone” between the world of affluent and well-heeled Paris and that of the banlieue, the suburbs north of the French capital that are home to largely poor, immigrant and minority communities.

Philippe Lissac/DPA/Landov


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Gare du Nord railway station is what British historian Andrew Hussey calls the frontier zone between the world of affluent and well-heeled Paris and that of the banlieue, the suburbs north of the French capital that are home to largely poor, immigrant and minority communities.

Gare du Nord railway station is what British historian Andrew Hussey calls “the frontier zone” between the world of affluent and well-heeled Paris and that of the banlieue, the suburbs north of the French capital that are home to largely poor, immigrant and minority communities.

Philippe Lissac/DPA/Landov

The French, with their national motto of “liberty, equality, fraternity,” are so against religious and ethnic divisions that the government doesn’t even collect this kind of data on its citizens, but it’s believed that nearly 40 percent of the country’s 7 million Muslims live in and around Paris.

Many live in poor suburban communities known as banlieues., and the residents of these communities have felt increased scrutiny since three young Muslim men, each born and raised in France, killed 17 people in January’s terror attacks in Paris.

The bustling Gare du Nord train station marks the frontier between central Paris and the banlieues, says Andrew Hussey, a British historian who has written about the tensions between France and its black and Arab minorities.

It’s the place where the suburbs of northern Paris — which consist of mainly immigrant, minority populations, who are often very poor — come into contact with the relative affluence and comfort of the city center.

“The thing about the Gare du Nord is that that’s where you feel — the kids from the banlieue feel excluded,” he says, “They come here, and like it’s a frontier zone between Paris over there — which is very well-heeled and very rich and very beautiful, and over there [the suburbs] — where they’re sort of, you know, cast out into this world that’s not quite connected to the center of France.”

Ismael Medjdoub is one of these “kids from the banlieue” who straddles these two worlds. Medjdoub, 21, a third-generation Frenchman of Algerian descent, spends a lot of time on the subway getting to and from work and school — up to four hours every day, including Sunday.

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Ismael Medjdoub grew up in one of Paris’ banlieues. He spends up to two hours a day commuting from his home in Tremblay en France to work and to school at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris.

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Ismael Medjdoub grew up in one of Paris' banlieues. He spends up to two hours a day commuting from his home in Tremblay en France to work and to school at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris.

Ismael Medjdoub grew up in one of Paris’ banlieues. He spends up to two hours a day commuting from his home in Tremblay en France to work and to school at the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris.

Bilal Qureshi/NPR

Medjdoub is a student at the Sorbonne in Paris, and would like to get an apartment in the city, but he says his district number — it’s like an American ZIP code — is hurting his chances.

Make no mistake, Medjdoub says that he’s proud to be from a banlieue — his town, called Tremblay en France, is next to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport — but that he knows people look down on those communities.

“Every time that I say to someone I’m coming from suburbs, they have some pity for me that I cannot understand,” he says.

He recalls an incident during his first year studying history at the Sorbonne. He had gone to see his professor, to apologize for a delay in turning in his schoolwork.

“He answered to me: ‘Don’t worry, you are coming from suburbs, so I know what you are feeling,’ ” Medjdoub says. “And I was — ‘What? I mean, come on guy, I am living in a big house with two cats! So you see it’s not the image that you are making of suburbs.’ “

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Ismael Medjdoub’s mother, Fatihah, was born in France in 1963. Her family had emigrated from Algeria earlier. She says young Muslims of her generation practiced their religion privately — unlike the current generation’s very public assertion of its Muslim identity.

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Bilal Qureshi/NPR

Ismael Medjdoub's mother, Fatihah, was born in France in 1963. Her family had emigrated from Algeria earlier. She says young Muslims of her generation practiced their religion privately  unlike the current generation's very public assertion of its Muslim identity.

Ismael Medjdoub’s mother, Fatihah, was born in France in 1963. Her family had emigrated from Algeria earlier. She says young Muslims of her generation practiced their religion privately — unlike the current generation’s very public assertion of its Muslim identity.

Bilal Qureshi/NPR

We arrive at the small, quiet station in Tremblay en France, a world apart from Paris. We meet Ismael’s mother, Fatihah Medjdoub, at a nearby cafe.

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As she adjusts the soft, blue-green jersey of her headscarf at the edges of her ears, Fatihah tells me that her family emigrated from Algeria, and that she was born in France in 1963. But she says times are different for her son’s generation.

“Young people today claim to be more Muslim than they did during my time. We practiced an Islam that was much more … I can’t find the exact word, but we practiced Islam privately, at home,” she says. “Today’s generation practices an Islam that they seek to understand, and that can lead to prejudices against them.”

Ismael agrees with his mother, and takes it one step further.

“Especially with the young generation — we are telling them that you are not able to wear the veil, and because they are denied in their identity, the only way they have to answer to the situation is not simply wearing a hijab (headscarf) but a niqab,” he says, referring to an even more obscuring head covering that leaves only the eyes visible.

Despite these challenges, Ismael is adamant: “The fact is that I’m French. … I will never deny my nationality, and I am very proud of it.”

He knows that life would be very different if his family had stayed in Algeria.

“I’m just grateful to my country,” he says, “and I want to contribute to make it better.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/03/03/390449785/in-france-young-muslims-often-straddle-two-worlds?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

How ‘Flower Beds’ Give Love And Lentils To Moms And Babies

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 03 2015

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Nursery worker Shivkumari Pate leads children in a learning song. Pate works with the nonprofit Jan Swasthya Sahyog, which developed the first network of community nurseries.

Ankita Rao for NPR


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Nursery worker Shivkumari Pate leads children in a learning song. Pate works with the nonprofit Jan Swasthya Sahyog, which developed the first network of community nurseries.

Nursery worker Shivkumari Pate leads children in a learning song. Pate works with the nonprofit Jan Swasthya Sahyog, which developed the first network of community nurseries.

Ankita Rao for NPR

Chhattisgarh is one of the world’s worst places to raise a baby, let alone be one. The state in central India has some of the worst health indicators in the country, including sky-high child mortality and extreme malnutrition.

For decades, aid organizations tried to improve the health of moms and babies in Chhattisgarh. Little made a dent. But then a garden of flowers rose up in the state.

In 2012, a group of tribal leaders worked with nonprofits and the government to launch the Fulwaris, which literally means “flower beds” in Hindi. Fulwaris are a network of nurseries run entirely by moms in the community who take turns feeding and caring for each other’s children.

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Toddlers enjoy a lunch of eggs and rice at a Fulwari in Haramar, a tribal village in northern Chhattisgarh.

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Toddlers enjoy a lunch of eggs and rice at a Fulwari in Haramar, a tribal village in northern Chhattisgarh.

Toddlers enjoy a lunch of eggs and rice at a Fulwari in Haramar, a tribal village in northern Chhattisgarh.

Ankita Rao for NPR

Each day, two mothers volunteer to make lentils, rice and eggs for babies, toddlers and pregnant moms in the village. The mothers also teach the kids lessons and create toys out of scrap material.

The impact has been clear. Malnutrition dropped by nearly a quarter among children in Fulwaris, the State Health Resource Centre of Chhattisgarh reported in September 2013. Maternal health also improved because volunteer moms had more access to nutritious foods and learned how to track their weight and their children’s weight.

On a sunny January afternoon, the Fulwari in the Surguja district was buzzing with babies. While one snoozed under a mosquito net, toddlers waddled around, shaking colorful rattles made out of crushed bangles in old plastic soda bottles. A few 2-year-olds sat cross-legged on a rug, stuffing rice and egg into their mouths with impressive speed.

Eggs, leafy greens, lentils — these are the obvious benefits of coming to a Fulwari in a state where 1 in 3 children go hungry. It’s enough to keep the kids, and the pregnant mothers, coming back.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get the children to eat the vegetables, but they always love the eggs,” says Brindavati, one of the young moms supervising the nursery that day.

But there’s more to Fulwaris than filling up empty tummies, says UNICEF’s Sheshagiri Madhusudhan, who has worked with the government to design the centers. The toys and social interactions also make sure kids get the stimulation they don’t always get at home. Six months to 3 years old is one of the most important times for children in terms of brain and psychological development, he says.

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Mina, a 22-year-old mother in Jamkani, Chhattisgarh, says sending her child to the Fulwari gives her more time to farm and collect forest wood.

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Mina, a 22-year-old mother in Jamkani, Chhattisgarh, says sending her child to the Fulwari gives her more time to farm and collect forest wood.

Mina, a 22-year-old mother in Jamkani, Chhattisgarh, says sending her child to the Fulwari gives her more time to farm and collect forest wood.

Ankita Rao for NPR

“In most cases, what keeps parents from having a loving environment [in their homes] is the sheer need for survival and livelihoods,” Madhusudhan says.

For 22-year-old Mina, a beautiful mother in the village of Jamkani, the centers have meant freedom to farm and collect forest wood while her child is safe. And her home has changed because of habits promoted by the Fulwari: The family now washes their hands regularly and puts healthy oil in their food.

“We want our children to be smarter than us and get a job,” Mina says.

Another ripple effect of the Fulwaris is lower rates of alcoholism among the mothers who participate, says Santosh Patoda, who has been working with the state government to assess the program’s health effects. The centers teach moms good habits, she says.

Fulwaris don’t cost the India government much money. Taking care of and feeding one child each day costs about 6 rupees (about 10 cents). That’s one reason the penny-pinching state of Chhattisgarh was willing to invest 200 million rupees ($3.2 million) in the Fulwaris last year.

Right now, the program reaches about 3,000 children through 300 centers. But it will expand and reach 40,000 children and 17,000 young mothers in 19 districts by the end of this year.

Fulwaris aren’t foolproof. Funds often come in from the government weeks or months late. Mothers have to use their meager savings, or they have to shut down the nurseries, sometimes permanently, because they don’t have the money to run them.

Even so, “flower beds” are cropping up across the state. And mothers, like Brindavati, are relieved that their children have somewhere to go. “We grew up without proper food, without a chance to stay in school,” she says, nursing her 10-month-old baby under the folds of a turquoise sari. “Their lives are different.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/03/02/390161977/how-flower-beds-give-love-and-lentils-to-moms-and-babies?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Free Wi-Fi On Buses Offers A Link To Future Of ‘Smart Cities’

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 03 2015

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More than 600 Porto city buses and taxis have been fitted with routers to provide free Wi-Fi service. It’s being touted as the biggest Wi-Fi-in-motion network in the world.

Sérgio Rodrigues/Veniam


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More than 600 Porto city buses and taxis have been fitted with routers to provide free Wi-Fi service. It's being touted as the biggest Wi-Fi-in-motion network in the world.

More than 600 Porto city buses and taxis have been fitted with routers to provide free Wi-Fi service. It’s being touted as the biggest Wi-Fi-in-motion network in the world.

Sérgio Rodrigues/Veniam

Board any city bus in Portugal’s second-largest municipality, Porto, and you’ve got free Wi-Fi. More than 600 city buses and taxis have been fitted with wireless routers, creating what’s touted as the biggest Wi-Fi-in-motion network in the world.

The service not only provides commuters with free Internet connections but it also helps collect data that makes the municipality run more efficiently.

The tech startup behind this new service is called Veniam, based in Porto and Mountain View, Calif. It calls its project the “Internet of Moving Things.”

Porto is the first test market, but the company hopes to expand to several U.S. cities later this year.

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Inside Veniam’s Porto office, CEO João Barros displays a map tracking Wi-Fi routers on buses and sensors planted around the city.

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Sérgio Rodrigues/Veniam

Inside Veniam's Porto office, CEO Joo Barros displays a map tracking Wi-Fi routers on buses and sensors planted around the city.

Inside Veniam’s Porto office, CEO João Barros displays a map tracking Wi-Fi routers on buses and sensors planted around the city.

Sérgio Rodrigues/Veniam

Veniam’s founders took NPR on a bus tour of downtown Porto to demonstrate how the Wi-Fi service works.

“Our equipment’s up behind that panel in the front,” above the driver’s head, says Roy Russell, Veniam’s chief technology officer.

Russell and his wife Robin Chase founded the car-sharing company Zipcar in Boston 15 years ago. Now, the both of them have joined Veniam.

The test of a robust Wi-Fi connection is if you can keep a Skype call up and running, with video, while moving around. So that’s what we try — while careening through different neighborhoods of Porto.

Over Skype, we reach André Cardote, Veniam’s engineering manager. From his office, he’s able to track our bus in real time, watching its Wi-Fi router connect to RSUs — roadside units — or fiber access points scattered across the city, through which it connects to the Internet.

“We’re on bus No. 1103, can you tell what’s happening?” Russell asks Cardote over Skype.

“You are now connected to the RSU in the municipality building … [then] to one of the RSUs on top of the rectory building,” Cardote replies, as he watches the bus move across the city.

The fiber access point through which the Wi-Fi connects changes, but the Skype call never drops. The fiber network is owned by the city — put in place about 10 years ago to allow public health centers to communicate digitally.

Hopping off the bus, Russell points out the access points on a typical city street.

“They’re generally fixed to a pole — a tiny box and an antenna — atop a lamppost or traffic light,” he explains. “There’s an amazing amount of little sensors and things all over the place that you don’t know about.”

The concept here is to offload data traffic from 3G and 4G cell networks and use this public Wi-Fi instead. That’s a shift that could hurt telecom carriers in the long term.

In Porto, free Wi-Fi has become a public utility, rather than a commercial commodity.

Veniam sells the city Wi-Fi routers, and a monthly subscription. Citizens get free Wi-Fi, without having to drain their mobile data plans. In return, the city gets a host of data collected by the Wi-Fi routers from a network of sensors planted around town.

“Environmental sensors, noise sensors. … In the end, what this project has given to the city is a lot of data,” says Filipe Araújo, Porto’s city councilor for innovation and environment. “We can understand where the city can save money, to invest in other projects. Waste management has the key role here.”

For instance, sensors attached to garbage dumpsters tell the network when the dumpsters are full. The city saves money since it doesn’t waste fuel on trips to half-full containers. It can also see which buses are stuck in traffic and reroute them, or change traffic lights in real time.

Veniam CEO João Barros says future “smart cities” will rely on this type of Wi-Fi data exchange.

“If you think about it, the cost of sending data through a cellular network is very, very high — about 20 times higher than sending the data through Wi-Fi,” Barros says. “So by connecting vehicles to the Wi-Fi infrastructure, we’re actually lowering the cost of sending data to the cloud — and also providing Internet access to people on the move, for example on public transit.”

Many cities already have such underused fiber networks, which could be repurposed to host public Wi-Fi and receive data from sensors, he says.

“There’s no such thing as too much bandwidth. You give people more bandwidth, and they will use it,” Barros says. “So the future will be heterogeneous networks — some that operate statically using the Internet, others while you are moving. We are going to find ways for all these different networks to be able to operate together.”

Veniam’s prototype in Porto was funded by the European Union, Portuguese regional authorities, and private investors. It debuted last year, and more than 70 percent of local smartphone owners in Porto are already using it.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2015/03/02/389250795/free-wi-fi-on-buses-offers-a-link-to-future-of-smart-cities?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Britain’s Muslims Still Feel The Need To Explain Themselves

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 03 2015

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Members of the Muslim community leave the East London Mosque after prayers before the start of the holy month of Ramadan in June 2014. The mosque has an estimated 7,000 worshippers.

Rob Stothard/Getty Images


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Members of the Muslim community leave the East London Mosque after prayers before the start of the holy month of Ramadan in June 2014. The mosque has an estimated 7,000 worshippers.

Members of the Muslim community leave the East London Mosque after prayers before the start of the holy month of Ramadan in June 2014. The mosque has an estimated 7,000 worshippers.

Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Jihadi John, runaway schoolgirls, no-go zones: the headlines are everywhere in Great Britain.

If you are Muslim in Britain, you can’t get away from them. If you’re Salman Farsi, you’re often at the center of it.

“It feels like we’re constantly having to explain ourselves,” says Farsi, the spokesman for the East London Mosque.

It’s a huge complex in a booming and diverse neighborhood, serving 7,000 worshippers at Friday prayers; some 1,000 kids pass through its halls each week.

Farsi is the mosque’s social media guru, posting sermons on YouTube and tweeting responses to the day’s news.

The 29-year-old was born and raised nearby in a Bangladeshi family.

“Most Muslims — and there’s 2.7 million Muslims living here in Britain — most Muslims feel they’re very much part of the community, part of society, part of Britain, and so when our sentiments and feelings are not those that are perceived by the rest of society, it’s quite challenging,” he says.

And the recent climate of Islamophobia, and misconceptions, he says, has made his job difficult. For example, Farsi has to deal with the hate mail the mosque receives.

“It’s having to fend off the far right, who see the actions of extremists and they blame the whole community,” he says. “And we pay the price for it.”

And the risk is that this need to constantly “explain themselves” will lead to disillusionment, or worse, among young Muslims, Farsi says.

“If mainstream society … can’t see things from the young people’s perspective, then we’re just going to lose them,” Farsi says. “They’re going to become disillusioned, and then, these are the ones that unfortunately will go off and join groups that are deemed terrorists.”

What It Means To Be British

Arfah Farooq, 23, is another tech-savvy East Londoner of South Asian descent. She’s British-Pakistani. One of the latest Muslim-focused headlines, a BBC poll touting that 95 percent of Muslims “feel loyalty to Britain,” annoys her.

“You see in the paper all the time, your identity challenged,” she says. “But all my friends … we’re practicing Muslims, but we’re still going to support Britain in the Olympics, or England in the football.”

She questions, too, what it means “to be British” or “to have British values.”

“Is a British value meaning that I have to go to the pub?” she says. “I don’t drink, I’m Muslim, I don’t do that, that’s not going to be a part of me, that’s never going to be a part of me, and it’s about respecting all of that.”

Arfah Farooq, a 23-year-old British-Pakistani woman, says Muslims constantly have their identity challenged — but that ultimately she feels lucky to live in Britain.

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Audie Cornish/NPR

She says she does feel that in general her identity and her religion are respected.

She says one of the hardest things she has had to do recently was to bring her prayer mat with her on the first day at a new job.

“I did it on purpose on my first day there, because … they don’t know me, so they just think it’s a part of me,” she says.

She contrasts that with something a friend told her: that if he “busted out a prayer mat” in his workplace all of a sudden, his colleagues would think “My God, he’s being recruited by ISIS.”

“You do kind of question yourself in terms of what do people think about me,” Farooq says. “My colleagues really respect me; the CEO of the company actually turned around and asked me if I wanted a private space [to pray], so I’m very lucky.”

But this is London — every other block is a riotous mix of languages and cultures — and just as New York City doesn’t reflect the rest of the U.S., London doesn’t exactly reflect the rest of Britain.

A Patchwork, Not A Melting Pot

Take Birmingham, for instance. It has been in the news recently: Muslim teachers there have been accused of radicalizing their students. And in January, a Fox News analyst falsely described it as a no-go zone for non-Muslims; Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana later used the same phrase.

It’s one of Britain’s most diverse cities, where the percentage of people who don’t speak English is twice the national average and more than 1 in 5 identify as Muslim.

There are Pakistani, Somali, Indian areas. But it’s less a melting pot than a patchwork.

Abdul Rashid, secretary of the Birmingham Central Mosque, says this isn’t inherently a bad thing.

“Isn’t that what we find in all societies, that people tend to get together with friends and people of the same background?” he says.

Rashid says the danger is that if people don’t mix, they don’t understand each other. That may lead to Islamophobia and radicalization, he says.

“Because the stigmatization and demonization of a community creates hatred in the hearts of some of the people in that community,” he says.

The tensions in Birmingham are real; some white people NPR spoke with expressed strong views against Muslims. But they refused to speak on the record.

Mohammad Afzal, the first Muslim elected to Birmingham’s city council in 1982, takes the long view.

“I remember back in the ’70s and early ’80s, white people would close their windows and say, ‘Oh we’ve got this horrible smell of curry,’ ” Afzal says. “But now, everybody loves it.”

That’s partly a matter of exposure: You’re comfortable with ideas and people that you’re familiar with. And the Queensbridge School in Birmingham is trying to do something about that, by exposing kids of different backgrounds to each other.

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Some 2.7 million Muslims live in Great Britain. In many cities, though, ethnic neighborhoods are more of a patchwork, rather than a melting pot.

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Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Some 2.7 million Muslims live in Great Britain. In many cities, though, ethnic neighborhoods are more of a patchwork, rather than a melting pot.

Some 2.7 million Muslims live in Great Britain. In many cities, though, ethnic neighborhoods are more of a patchwork, rather than a melting pot.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A Matter Of Comfort?

Principal Tim Boyes is white, but he used to live in Pakistan, he speaks Urdu and he teaches the Islamic Studies course. And that has led to some illuminating conversations.

Boyes gives a recent example of a student who repeated something he’d heard at his mosque — that just like Sept. 11, the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris were a CIA conspiracy to justify aggression on the Muslim world.

Boyes says he took it as a chance to start a conversation about how to figure out what’s true. And he also took it as a good sign: that the student trusts him enough to approach him with such questions.

In the school cafeteria, the food is halal. A 14-year-old named Phoebe Baker says everyone takes that in stride. Phoebe is white, and she has experiences at school that just don’t happen at home — for example, during Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day.

Although you can see kids mixing happily at this school, the kids at Phoebe’s lunch table are all white. Kids at the next table are Pakistani. Another table over, and they’re all Somali.

It’s not because of ethnicity, the students say. It’s just that everyone hangs out with the people they’re most comfortable with.

And for all the tensions, Londoner Arfah Farooq says she considers herself lucky.

“Comparing myself to other countries in Europe I am 100 percent lucky that I am in Britain,” she says. “Just with the far right growing in Germany, with the forced secular stuff in France, I am so grateful that I live in Britain.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/03/02/390188555/britains-muslims-still-feeling-the-need-to-explain-themselves?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Thousands March In Moscow In Memory of Murdered Opposition Figure Boris Nemtsov

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 02 2015

Copyright © 2015 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Tens of thousands of people marched in Moscow today to remember one of President Putin’s staunchest critics, who was gunned down on Friday night. The procession to mourn Boris Nemtsov was one of the biggest in the city since the anti-government demonstrations began in 2011. NPR’s Corey Flintoff has this report.

(SOUNDBITE OF HELICOPTER PROPELLER)

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: The mass of people passed by some of the most potent symbols of the Russian state, including the Kremlin Towers. Some carried signs saying I Am Not Afraid.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking Russian).

FLINTOFF: Opposition groups provided hundreds of Russian flags, each one with a strip of black ribbon in sign of mourning for one of their most outspoken and charismatic figures.

ANTON ROMANENKO: I would say, first of all, that he was a very good human being. I would say that he was very bright figure and a very good politician.

FLINTOFF: That’s university student Anton Romanenko, who says he particularly admired the 55-year-old leader for exposing corruption among government officials. Nemtsov’s corruption accusations extended as high as President Vladimir Putin. He published a pamphlet last year detailing what he said was Putin’s unaccounted-for personal wealth, including estates and palatial homes.

If Putin felt enmity, he’s been careful not to show it in the past two days. He issued a statement condemning the crime and saying that he would personally oversee the investigation.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Speaking Russian).

FLINTOFF: One of Nemtsov’s closest allies called it a political murder, aimed at scaring those who don’t agree with the government. Sergei Belagorov, a physicist, says Nemtsov’s death is an especially painful loss for people like him who remember Nemtsov’s rise in the 1990s, when there was much more political freedom.

SERGEI BELAGOROV: Because, for me – I’m about 44 – the atmosphere is already quite bad. I can imagine that for younger people, there is still some hope.

FLINTOFF: There were many younger people in today’s procession, but it’s not clear whether they feel hope or whether that hope will translate into activism. Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Moscow.

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Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/01/390033523/thousands-march-in-moscow-in-memory-of-murdered-opposition-figure-boris-nemtsov?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world