Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman attorney Blog’

Kurdish-German Journalist Makes Light Of Hate Mail In Spoken Word Act

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 06 2015

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is Audie Cornish, and all week on this program, I’ve been talking with Muslims living in Western Europe about their faith, about how they’re perceived and about their sense of belonging. Today, I’m in Berlin. Of the nearly 4 million Muslims living in Germany, just under half are from Turkey.

A large number were guest workers who came to help rebuild Germany after World War II and never left. Those same workers were never allowed citizenship. And Germany has spent the last decade trying to integrate them and their children. Thirty-eight-year-old Mely Kiyak is the daughter of guest workers. She’s a columnist, and I went to meet her at her sunny flat in Berlin.

MELY KIYAK: Hello.

CORNISH: Nice to meet you.

KIYAK: Nice to meet you. Welcome.

CORNISH: Kiyak writes about politics for the influential newspaper Die Zeit in a column called “Kiyak’s German Lessons.” And she says the language Germans use to talk about Muslims, or most immigrants, frankly, is telling.

KIYAK: In Germany, we always talk about a special group of people. Although they are Germans, we still say they are – in Germany, we call it Auslaender, the foreigner. Although these people have a German passport, they are still the Auslaender. We do not really use this term when we mean Italian people or Spanish people, but we specially use this term for people from – coming from Turkey or the Arabic countries. They cannot really reach the status of being a normal German just because of this term.

CORNISH: How long do you have to be in Germany before you’re not considered an Auslaender?

KIYAK: Until you die (laughter).

CORNISH: Even if your family has been here one or two generations? Is that how Germans still think of people with migrant backgrounds?

KIYAK: Yes, of course. So even me as a journalist, if I say we don’t have a good taxation situation, then the reaction is you think that the taxation system in Turkey is better than ours? People always put things right in relation to the country they think I am from. This is a permanent reaction from my first text until now. I never get another reaction to what I wrote.

CORNISH: Like any other journalist, Mely Kiyak gets hate mail. But thanks to her Kurdish name, she gets messages with an Islamophobic bend. She’s not even Muslim. These messages have taken an even darker turn with the violence of ISIS in the news.

KIYAK: They call, very much on detail, how they want to kill me with the knife, how he wants to use the knife on my intimate organs. People write really crazy things.

CORNISH: She soon found that other writers with so-called migrant backgrounds were getting these racist and violent messages. And so they decided to turn the hate mail into poetry and make the public, specifically, a hate poetry night where they read the most heinous messages out loud.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KIYAK: (Speaking German) Rechnerisch stammen fuenfzig Prozent aller Tuerken von diesen Huren.

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: That’s a bit of Kiyak on stage reading from a letter that says half of Turks are born from whores. She and her fellow writers are sitting around a table with funny props scattered about – hats, confetti. The audience, usually a sold-out crowd of a few hundred people a night, isn’t sure what’s going to happen.

KIYAK: The first reaction is shock, and then it start to get funny. And then they know they are allowed to laugh. And after the laugh, after two, three, four, five hours of hate, hate, hate, people get really tired of reading it. And then they understand we do get it every day, and we are tired, too. And I think it makes so much more sense just to read the letters than write 200 articles about the daily racism in the society.

CORNISH: What are your hopes for Germany and its evolution when it comes to integration?

KIYAK: I really believe that things will change, because I know hate is always louder than love. But I believe that it is in each new generation able to give back the love or the will to understand the other person.

CORNISH: Well, Mely Kiyak, thank you so much for talking with us. Danke.

KIYAK: Bitte (laughter).

CORNISH: Columnist Mely Kiyak – she writes for Die Zeit.

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.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/05/391041966/german-journalist-makes-light-of-hate-mail-in-spoken-word-act?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

‘Zionist Union’ Party Creates A Stir In Israeli Elections

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 06 2015

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Israel’s election later this month, the main challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is a coalition of center-left parties. The name that coalition has chosen is the Zionist Union, and that’s causing a stir. The term Zionist goes back to the 1800s and the people who worked to create a Jewish homeland. But it’s become more controversial over the years, including in Israel, where the fight is over who can claim to be Zionists. NPR’s Emily Harris reports.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: The Zionist Union invited voters to a Tel Aviv bar a couple of weeks ago. Like at a speed dating session, mostly young Israelis spent a few minutes with one candidate before an announcer sent them on to the next.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: (Speaking Hebrew).

HARRIS: Everyone attending seemed to lean left politically. People had different feelings about the party name Zionist Union. Adam Horesh said it means good things.

ADAM HORESH: You like Israel. You like the people. You like other people – and that you care about what you do. And I like this name.

HARRIS: That you care about what you do, like building a good country. Ilana Pinshaw agreed there’s a positive side to the name. But ultimately, for her, it leaves people out.

ILANA PINSHAW: I think that it’s exclusionary, the choice. It was an attempt to take votes from the right, but they’re not really differentiating themselves so much. And I think that they could’ve been a democratic camp.

HARRIS: The word Zionism traditionally conveys the idea of Jewish self-determination. But it now signals a hard-line sentiment, especially toward the Palestinians, to some people both in and outside Israel. Zionist Union candidate Erel Margalit says the name should not be a synonym for right-wing policies.

EREL MARGALIT: That is not meant at all. Israel is both a Jewish and democratic country, and the Zionist idea is to give the Jewish people a place of their own, to reach a compromise with their neighbors and to take a proactive approach, rather than Netanyahu’s reactive approach, to setting our own destiny, our own borders and our own future.

HARRIS: He’s blaming Netanyahu for making Zionism controversial. The top of the Zionist Union ticket, Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog, says the title was being misappropriated.

YITZHAK HERZOG: In recent years, we’ve identified that somebody – a certain element in our society thought that they owned Zionism, that they have taken ownership over what Zionism is all about. Well, they’ve taken Zionism way far away from what it ought to be.

HARRIS: Netanyahu’s Likud party is not relinquishing its claim on Zionism. Danny Danon, a Likud party member, says the left is too liberal to truly defend Israel’s interests as the homeland for the Jews. He accuses the Zionist Union of picking that name to fool voters.

DANNY DANON: They’re there to hide the real character, and they’re doing it by using the word Zionist.

HARRIS: But Yoaz Hendel says neither political side should have a lock on the term. A historian and head of Israel’s Institute for Zionist Strategies, he thinks about this a lot. He does say that by failing to distance themselves from people further on the left who reject Zionism, center-left leaders have undermined their own image.

YOAZ HENDEL: All of them will serve in the army. All of them will self-identify as Israelis. But when it comes to politics, instead of fighting the extreme voices in the left, they prefer to ignore it and to fight extreme voices in the right.

HARRIS: Twenty percent of Israeli citizens are Arab. Arab-Israeli analyst, Diana Buttu, says the name Zionist Union wrangles many.

DIANA BUTTU: Their vision of the country is not one of equality. Their vision of the country is one that is based on being a Zionist first, and therefore being Jewish first, with privileges accorded to Jewish citizens of the state, and lesser rights accorded to the Palestinians who are citizens of the state as well.

HARRIS: Zionist Union party leaders say those ideas don’t square with their vision of Zionism. Emily Harris, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/05/391041980/zionist-union-party-creates-a-stir-in-israeli-elections?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Eat Your Veggies! Even The Ones From Fukushima

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 06 2015

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Farmer Magoichi Shigihara checks on his cucumber farm in Nihonmatsu in Fukushima prefecture, about 31 miles west of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, in May 2011. Testing shows radiation in foods grown and raised in Fukushima is back to pre-accident levels.

Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images


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Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

Farmer Magoichi Shigihara checks on his cucumber farm in Nihonmatsu in Fukushima prefecture, about 31 miles west of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, in May 2011. Testing shows radiation in foods grown and raised in Fukushima is back to pre-accident levels.

Farmer Magoichi Shigihara checks on his cucumber farm in Nihonmatsu in Fukushima prefecture, about 31 miles west of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, in May 2011. Testing shows radiation in foods grown and raised in Fukushima is back to pre-accident levels.

Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, people in Japan are still hesitant to eat foods grown around the site of the accident. They worry that anything grown in the region will contain dangerous levels of radioactive elements, increasing their risk of cancer.

Sometimes, food from Fukushima will bear a photo of the farmer who grew it or a number to dial to learn more about each bag of rice or vegetables, just to ease customers’ concerns.

Now there might be one more way to make customers feel confident that they aren’t munching on a radioactive dinner. It’s a chemical called CsTolen A, for Cesium Tolerance Enhancer.

Radioactive cesium is one of the biggest concerns following nuclear disasters. It takes a long time to decay — as much as 20 years for half of the cesium in the soil to disappear. And it dissolves in water, so plants draw it out of the soil just as they would nutrients. CsTolen A aims to block this uptake.

“The CsTolen A binds to cesium in the soil,” explains Ryoung Shin, a professor at the Riken Plant Science Center in Tokyo. In a study published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, Shin and her colleagues report that this binding prevents the cesium from entering the plant.

So far, the chemical has only been tested in the lab on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana — not on any field crops. Shin and her collaborators identified the cesium-blocking chemical from a library of commercially available compounds. After screening for the best cesium-blocking contenders, they chose five and added them to the water they used on the plant, the soil around the plant, the seeds, and the plant itself.

Then they tested the plant tissue for cesium accumulation. They found that the only radioactive cesium they could detect in the plants was normal, from background levels present in the atmosphere.

The study was conducted in a plant that doesn’t produce food, but the researchers are confident that the chemical will work on other kinds of plants, too. Because the chemical does its job before it enters the plant, Shin says it shouldn’t matter what kind of plant is growing in the soil. Plus, CsTolen A is available commercially, meaning that it is relatively easy to get and distribute.

Of course, Shin notes, it’s still too early to start applying this chemical to the fields around Fukushima. There are many layers of government regulation standing between Fukushima farmers and CsTolen A. And researchers aren’t 100 percent sure that the chemical has no impact on human health, because they haven’t tested it on people yet. But Shin says it looks promising: Since CsTolen A should stay in the soil and never enter the plant, it should never enter the human body, either.

Even now, there are still farmers who haven’t returned to their land because many areas around Fukushima remain restricted. After prohibiting anyone from entering a radius of about 12 miles from the plant, the government started to let residents back in last spring. Shin hopes that in the future, CsTolen A will help get more people within the restricted zone back on their land and back to farming.

As for Fukushima foods grown outside that circle of concern, extensive testing shows they’re just fine to eat, a group of researchers reported last week.

The researchers analyzed 900,000 food samples, including tea, beef, fruits, mushrooms, and vegetables grown and raised in the Fukushima region from 2011 to 2014. Their testing revealed that radiation in these foods had returned to pre-accident levels. Even so, consumers are still shying away from foods with the Fukushima label.

Shin says it’s too bad, because the produce from the region is very high quality and tasty.

“Fukushima used to be a very famous place for agricultural products,” she says. “There is plenty of produce, but people don’t want [it].”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/03/05/390937138/eat-your-veggies-even-the-ones-from-fukushima?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

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.

Jerome Delay/AP


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Jerome Delay/AP

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.

David Ramos/Getty Images


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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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Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

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.”

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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.

Jeff Koehler for NPR


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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.

Bilal Qureshi/NPR


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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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Ankita Rao for NPR

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