The Word “Science” Has Disappeared From The EPA’s Mission Statement

March 11th, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under a communications blackout, has its long-time archenemy as its new chief, is having its funding dramatically cut, is having all its major climate change mitigation provisions and water protection rules rolled back, and may be entirely abolished by the end of 2018. Times are bad, to summarize.

The newly minted powers-that-be are also having a fiddle with the EPA’s website, something which is being tracked by the non-profit group, the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI). Although plenty of references to climate change have been slipping away as of late, the most recent change is particularly egregious.

The EPA’s Office of Science and Technology (OST) once had a mission statement that began thusly: “OST is responsible for developing sound, science-based standards, criteria, health advisories, test methods and guidelines…” It talks about using “scientific and technological foundations” to achieve things like clean water and pristine aquatic environments.

Now, the mission statement notes that it works on “economically and technologically achievable performance standards to address water pollution.” The word “science” has been completely removed from the site – despite the fact that, lest we forget, this if the Office of Science and Technology.

This is ludicrous, that much is obvious. Worryingly, this goes in line with what Scott Pruitt and his anti-environmental cronies were saying at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland. One lawyer who handled the transition between the Obama EPA team and the Trump one even said that the EPA should not conduct science at all.

This situation is so bizarre that there aren’t enough superlatives or analogies to adequately convey its malevolence effectively. Taking the “science” out of the Office of Science and Technology is like taking the “space” out of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It’s like removing the spaghetti from bolognese, the coffee out of an espresso, or the alcohol out of a bar.

It’s like taking cats off the Internet – what is the point of it without them?

You can’t base environmental protection on anything that’s not scientific. Are they going to use the entrails of a chicken to guide them? Will they search their feelings and use the Force? Flip a coin? Consult a Magic 8-Ball?

Science, it seems, is just massively inconvenient for those that like to do whatever they want with no care for the consequences of it. With few exceptions, the GOP of 2017 is the party to beat when it comes to science denial.

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EPA’s Environmental Justice Head Resigned After 24 Years. He Wants to Explain Why.

March 10th, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

“To move backward didn’t make any sense.”

By REBECCA LEBER for Mother Jones

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office on Environmental Justice submitted his resignation on Tuesday. First reported by InsideClimate News, the resignation of Mustafa Ali comes as the Trump administration considers layoffs and budget cuts at the EPA that, if enacted, would eliminate the environmental justice budget and cut funding to grants for pollution cleanup.

Ali, a founder of the program in 1992 who has worked there since, told Mother Jones he resigned because he was concerned the administration’s proposals to roll back its environmental justice work would disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. “That is something that I could not be a part of,” Ali says.

“Each new administration has an opportunity to share what their priorities and values are,” he says, adding that he has “not heard of anything that was being proposed that was beneficial to the communities we serve. To me, that was a signal that communities with environmental justice concern may not get the attention they deserve.”

The office, created during the George H.W. Bush administration, defines its mission as reducing the disproportionate impacts environmental problems have on minority, low-income, and indigenous people by integrating these concerns into all the EPA’s decision-making. Since its founding, the office has distributed $24 million in grants to 1,400 communities.

In his resignation letter, Ali attempted to make the case for the Office of Environmental Justice by appealing to Pruitt’s interest in economic growth. He described what happened in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which received a $20,000 grant from the EPA to address the community’s abandoned dump sites that were leaching toxic chemicals. The mostly low-income, African American residents of the region experienced high rates of cancer and respiratory disease. Local black leaders leveraged that grant into $270 million from investors and the government to revitalize the city, “creating jobs and improving their environments through collaborative partnerships,” Ali wrote. “When I hear we are considering making cuts to grant programs like the EJ small grants or Collaborative Problem Solving programs, which have assisted over 1400 communities, I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most.”

Ali spoke to Mother Jones from Flint, Michigan, where he was attending a two-day environmental justice summit in the city that famously confronted an environmental crisis when the community’s drinking water was found to be contaminated with lead. He says he will continue the work he has focused on for 25 years as the new senior vice president of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national nonprofit that organizes and recruits activists to promote social justice, including on climate change. “I want to make sure I am investing my time and talents in a place that is going to be supportive of that work,” he says.

Ali hopes his resignation will bring attention to the effects on low-income and marginalized communities of the new administration’s program cuts and loosened regulations.

During his confirmation hearings, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt told Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) that he is “familiar with the concept of environmental justice” and acknowledged that the “administrator plays an important role regarding environmental justice.”

“Under his leadership, he has the ability to move to the next level if he chooses to,” Ali says. Environmental justice leaders “have dedicated decades to trying to gain traction and make progress. We’ve done some of that, and to move backward didn’t make any sense to me.”

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Report: Growing Islamic Extremism In Latin America Poses ‘Major Security Threat’ To US

March 3rd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

Daily Caller, by Peter Hassan, March 30, 2017:

Growing Islamic extremism in Latin America constitutes a “major security threat” to the United States, according to an analysis published this month by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

“The threat from Islamic extremists in Latin America remains an overlooked aspect of U.S. national security strategy,” NCPA senior fellow David Grantham argued.

Grantham noted that “Saudi Arabia has invested millions to construct mosques and cultural centers in South America and Central America that expand the reach of its rigid version of Islam, known as Wahhabism.”

“The international spread of Saudi dogma, which the State Department’s first special representative to Muslim communities worldwide, Farah Pandith, called ‘insidious,’ has laid the foundation for likeminded radicals to thrive in other areas of Latin America,” he explained.

Later in the brief, Grantham noted that the “threats to U.S. security in the Greater Caribbean region are even more alarming in Trinidad and Tobago. The small island nation off the coast of Venezuela, once the target of an overthrow by Islamic militants, has also become a breeding ground for ISIS — 70 of the 100 Latin Americans known to have joined ISIS originated from the small country.”

The ease of mobility Islamic extremists have in Latin America is also cause for concern.

“Islamic extremism thrives where there is illicit finance and relative ease of movement across national and international borders. The mobility of terrorists throughout Latin America poses a serious problem,” Grantham stated.

Perhaps the greatest Islamic extremist threat in Latin America, though, is the Islamic Republic of Iran, which Grantham said could potentially strike the US from Latin America as a retaliatory act.

“The Islamic Republic has the capability and infrastructure to strike the United States from Latin America, but experts disagree over whether it would take that risk,” Grantham writes. “Experts consistently discuss the likelihood of a preemptive or first strike attack on the United States, though, which creates too high a standard. Instead, the argument should focus on the prospect of retaliatory attack.”

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton also warned of Iranian sponsored terrorism through Latin American “proxies” during a 2013 off-the-record speech to Goldman Sachs employees that was made public by WikiLeaks.

“If we had a map up behind us you would be able to see Iranian sponsored terrorism directly delivered by Iranians themselves, mostly through the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the operatives, or through Islah or other proxies from to Latin American to Southeast Asia,” Clinton said.

“The growth of extremist activity in Latin America is a major security threat. The prospects of retaliation from Iran, in particular, should not discourage action against Iran where necessary but should heighten awareness regarding the high probability of revenge attacks,” Grantham concluded. “Iran’s influence in Latin America and extremists, in general, demand new national security strategies in the region. Such an approach could begin with U.S. support to allied governments that improves their intelligence capabilities, and with targeted financial interdiction strategies.”

The brief can be read in its entirety here

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Islam and Indigenous peoples of Panama

March 3rd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

Islam and Indigenous peoples of Panama

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Q&A: Indigenous and Muslim ‘a growing trend’ in Australia

March 2nd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

Article here

Dr Peta Stephenson is an honorary fellow at the Asia Institute. She has interviewed dozens of Indigenous Muslims as research for her book ‘Islam Dreaming’, and says numbers of those converting are on the rise.

DR STEPHENSON, HAS THERE BEEN AN INCREASE IN INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS CONVERTING TO ISLAM?

If we look at the 2006 census and the two before that, we do see that the numbers are rising. In 1996 and 2001 there were just over 600 Indigenous Muslims in Australia in each of those censuses.

In the subsequent one, in 2006, the number had risen 60 per cent to more than 1,000. So, not huge numbers if we look at the population of Australia, but it’s still a significant climb.

WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MOTIVES FOR CONVERTING TO ISLAM YOU’VE FOUND DURING YOUR RESEARCH?

I conducted interviews with Indigenous Muslims for my book ‘Islam Dreaming’. Some of those were descended from Muslim fathers or forefathers, but wouldn’t classify themselves as practicing Muslims.

Perhaps they had an Afghan cameleer father or grandfather or a so-called ‘Malay Man’ who came to work in the pearl shelling industry. Then there were others who didn’t have that family history but had decided to embrace Islam.

And I found that the men and women who converted to Islam shared many commonalities with converts globally. Their experiences were that they enjoyed feeling part of a community, that they found Muslims to be extremely welcoming and hospitable.

In many ways, they felt that by becoming Muslim they were going back to their traditional pre-colonial indigenous identity, because they could see that there were many similarities in traditional Indigenous societies and Islamic ones.

For instance, men can have more than one wife, arranged marriages were common to both societies, men were usually much older than their wives, they had gendered spheres of influence, so, sort of ‘men’s business’ and ‘women’s business’.

The indigenous people I spoke to felt re-affirmed in their Aboriginality by becoming Muslim, and that wasn’t something I expected to find at all. That’s something that’s quite distinct from non-Indigenous people who embrace Islam.

Another difference was that Aboriginal people are coming to Islam against a backdrop of Christian ‘missionisation’, so some of them were attracted to Islam because it’s a non-Christian faith, and something they embraced by choice, not something that was imposed upon them.

DID YOU COME ACROSS ANY DIFFICULTIES WHERE THE TWO CULTURES MIGHT NOT PARTICULARLY BE COMPATIBLE?

I think that Aboriginal people haven’t really found that to be a difficulty, I mean, some people say they have foregone or given up their Aboriginality by becoming Muslim, but as I’ve just mentioned, the Indigenous Muslim people I’ve spoken to say, on the contrary, they feel more Aboriginal by becoming Muslim, particularly because in Islam, language differences and colour and cultural differences are recognised in Islam. It’s seen as a sign of God or Allah’s will to make people different.

So Aboriginal people maintain that, unlike Christianity, or their experience with Christian Missionisation at least, wherein people were expected to forego their languages and stop practicing their culture, Islam accepts that.

The difficulty they might find is in the reception, perhaps by friends or families but also the wider population who doesn’t perhaps understand, and might just think aboriginal people are embracing Islam as a, sort of oppositional anti-white type identity.

What about traditional aspects of Aboriginal Spiritualism? Have any of the Indigenous converts or their families expressed any regret at that being overlooked?

Most of the Aboriginal Muslim people I spoke to, and according to census figures as well, are younger people under 30 years old, and they live in metropolitan centres, the majority in Sydney.

These are people who have felt that they haven’t had access to their traditional spiritual beliefs, and perhaps, access to their languages and their traditional ways of life. I guess Islam to them helps provide an alternative route back to those roots.

Some people explained to me they felt they didn’t have a full identity, they could claim Aboriginality but they didn’t really have the full exposure to what that meant, to their traditional culture. So Islam helps fill that gap a bit, I suppose.

Of course some people I spoke to lament the fact that they don’t have access to that traditional way of life and traditional spirituality, but once the language is lost, and people die, that access is simply not possible. Islam has provided them with another way back, if you like.

WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT MALCOLM X, AND HIS INFLUENCE HERE?

A lot of the men I spoke to, particularly those who had been though the prison system, were first inspired by Malcolm X.

They had read his autobiography, and some of them openly described themselves as having been angry men who got into trouble with the law partly because of their attitude, they resented feeling like outcasts in their own country and were perhaps attracted to Malcolm X and the Black Panthers and those sorts of movements thinking that they were anti-white.

But once they started to learn more about Islam, they soon started changing their way of thinking very much, because they found a faith that accepted them, that accepted they were different from mainstream white Australia and that they weren’t judged for that, because Islam says all people are created equal.

So once the indigenous men sort of restored their sense of self, then that anger sort of dissipated. A number of them talked about how it is ironic some people accuse them of perhaps having terrorist tendencies because they have become Muslim.

They’ve said, before they embraced Muslim, they were angry, and afterwards they’ve actually become very peace-loving people, and their attitudes have been noticed in the prison system and by their families as well.

WOULD YOU SAY FOR SOME CONVERTS THE DECISION TO BECOME MUSLIM IS LIFE-SAVING?

For all of them, yes, on so many levels. Islam, you can’t drink, you shouldn’t gamble so just on that very basic level some people have found it very helpful to align themselves to a faith that forgoes some of the things that have had adverse effects in indigenous communities.

Men and women have embraced Islam for some of the same reasons but also some distinct ones. So men, for instance find Islam attractive because men are deemed to be the head of the household and they’re expected to protect and maintain their family, it says in the Qur’an.

A lot of the men have said Islam has helped them to step up and take responsibility for providing financially for their wives and children, to be hard-working men.

The women find that attractive because there are a lot of single-headed households in indigenous communities, particularly headed by women.

So the women are attracted to aboriginal men who are very family-oriented and who believe that having paid employment is important.

Also, against the backdrop of the taking away of children and the forcible breaking up of families, aboriginal women are attracted to faith that really places a lot of emphasis on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of the family and women’s role within that.

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Syrian Arab women battle IS, social stigma

February 12th, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

by Middle East Online

Arab female fighters battling Islamic State group in Syria are also facing off against disapproval from their relatives, wider society.

SDF now counts more than 1,000 Arab women in its ranks

DAMASCUS – They are fighting the world’s most feared jihadists, but hundreds of Arab female fighters battling the Islamic State group in Syria are also confronting the disapproval of their relatives and society.

“I braved my tribal clan, my father, my mother. Now I’m braving the enemy,” says 21-year-old Batul, who is part of an Arab-Kurdish alliance battling to capture IS’s Syrian stronghold of Raqa.

She is one of more than 1,000 Arab women who have joined Kurdish male and female fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, according to a spokeswoman.

Standing in the desert some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Raqa, Batul speaks passionately about her decision to fight IS, which holds the nearby village of Al-Torshan.

“My parents told me: ‘either you put down your weapons or we disown you’,” she says, wearing an ammunition vest and a floral scarf around her shoulders.

Her parents have not spoken to her since.

Batul comes from the Al-Sharabiyeh tribe, one of the best-known of the conservative Sunni Arab tribes of northeast Syria.

Her family views her as a rebel, who removed the headscarf worn by many Muslim women and refused her father’s orders to pray in front of him.

But she is proud of the decision she took two years ago to join the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which is a key component of the SDF alliance.

“I joined the YPJ to liberate my homeland, but also to free women from slavery,” she says.

“We must no longer remain cloistered behind four walls.”

– ‘My weapon is part of me’ –

Syrian Kurds and Arabs has been fighting IS since late 2015, with air support and other backing from the US-led coalition against the jihadist group.

But the current battle for Raqa is the first time Batul has been on the front line, where warplanes roar overhead carrying out strikes, and mortars boom in the distance.

“The first time I held a weapon, I was very afraid,” she admits.

“But now, my weapon has become part of me. It frees me and protects me.”

She speaks in Arabic, but her sentences are peppered with Kurdish words picked up from her fellow fighters.

“The relations between us and the Kurdish women are good. We don’t speak the same language, but we’re all here to free the country and women.”

Jihan Sheikh Ahmad, spokeswoman for the campaign on Raqa, said the SDF now counts more than 1,000 Arab women in its ranks.

“The YPJ’s experience has had a positive impact on society,” she said.

“The more territory we liberate, the more Arab female fighters have joined us.”

In a tent near the front line, six young Arab female fighters joke and share secrets as they sip tea.

– ‘Same rights as men’ –

“My goal is to liberate women from the oppression of Daesh (IS), but also societal oppression,” says Hevi Dilirin, an Arab woman who adopted a Kurdish nom de guerre when she joined the YPJ.

“In our society, women have no say. But they should have the same rights as men,” she says, dressed in a camouflage jacket and white-and-grey sneakers.

Syria’s Kurds have emphasised gender equality in both their militias and nascent autonomous institutions.

Since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011, they have sided with neither rebels nor government forces, concentrating instead on developing a semi-autonomous region in north and northeastern Syria, as well as fighting IS.

But the Arab tribes there are among the more conservative segments of the population, and 21-year-old Doza Jiyan says most Arab families find the concept of female fighters “hard to accept.”

“In our Syrian society, we find it bizarre for a woman to take up arms,” adds Jiyan, from the town of Ras al-Ain in Hasakeh province.

But she speaks confidently as she discusses the military situation with male colleagues.

“IS is no longer invincible, they’re only fighting on motorbikes and mining the villages,” she says.

IS’s extensive use of IEDs and mines has slowed the SDF’s progress towards Raqa, the jihadist’s group most important remaining bastion in Syria.

The SDF announced a new phase in their bid to capture Raqa on February 4, pressing towards the city gradually from the north and northeast.

Jiyan is convinced that the SDF’s military successes will eventually sway the opinion of her relatives and society, and she has no plans to leave.

“I’m very happy here,” she says.

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Kurdistani delegates to carry out meeting in Moscow

February 12th, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

by(A.K) ANHA

Party representatives from all four parts of Kurdistan (North, West, South and East) will come together for a meeting expected to take place in the Russian capital Moscow on February 15.
PYD Russian Representative Ebdulselam Eli told ANHA that they aimed to make a joint Kurdistani meeting on the status of Kurdistan in the Middle East with the participation of Kurdish parties.
Eli, who made explanations on the subject, noted that there had been preparations for a conference at this level and said, “We are going through a delicate process. Moreover, discussions on the future of Syria in Geneva and Astana were carried out. With this, the role of the Kurds in international arena is on the rise. For this, the Kurdish powers need to be gathered around for a common evaluation.”
According to Eli, a road map about the status of the Middle East and Kurdistan will be followed at the meeting.
Ferhad Batîîf, Chairman of the Syrian Kurdish Autonomy Council, said that they invited all Kurdish circles in connection with the preparations for the conference.
The names of Kurdish officials who have been invited to the Moscow talks are: PYD Co-Chair Asya Abdullah, Chairman of Executive Council of Kobanê Canton Enwer Muslim, HDP Urfa MP Osman Baydemir, Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan’s lawyers, PUK, Gorran Movement and KDP representatives, along with other figures.
Also invited are Russian Foreign Political Affairs President Kasachev Kostantin Yusofovich, Russian Justice Organization Politicians, Middle East Political Experts and some personalities.
Relations with Russia
Regarding relations with Russia, PYD Representative Ebdullselam Eli stated that relations with the Russian Government were good, and noted that the Ankara Government was uncomfortable with these good relations and therefore wanted to create an obstacle. “Although Turkey is uncomfortable, our relations with Russia are at a good level. This meeting we will do after Moscow now is important in terms of improving our relations. Russia has an active role in the Kurdish region, and no power can reverse it.”
Sihanok Dîbo: The role of the Kurds in the region in the future will be evaluated
PYD Representative Sîhanok Dîbo made evaluations on the matter, saying that there were radical initiatives for the political solution of the Syrian crisis, stating, “The Moscow meeting which took place before was already an example of this. Kurds are the main actors for the political solution [in Syria] and it is not possible to solve the crisis without them. The February 15 Conference is the continuation of these initiatives.”
Dîbo noted that Russia is a country which follows the developments in Syria and its regions, especially those happening in the autonomous regions. Dîbo added that they had offered the draft of the Democratic Federation Project to the parties in Moscow and opened it to discussions. The PYD representative stressed that the second meeting in Moscow will therefore discuss the role of the Kurds in the region.

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Kurds’ language in official settings sees new life in Syria

February 12th, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

Kurdish officials have reclaimed their tongue, reintroducing Kurmanji dialect of their language into the school curriculum Kurdish-majority regions in Syria.
Middle East Online

International works of literature translated into Kurdish

QAMISHLI – Abdo Shehu sits in an office in Kurdish-majority Qamishli in northeast Syria, surrounded by copies of the first Western novel available in the city in his own language.

The novel is “Snow” by French writer Maxence Fermine, the first fruits of a new project to translate international works of literature into a language that was effectively banned in Syria until recently.

The 29-year-old is working as part of the “Hunar” project, named for the Kurdish word for pomegranate, launched two months ago to translate literature into the Kurdish language in Kurdish-majority parts of Syria.

For years, Syria’s Kurds were banned from using their language in official settings and prevented from learning it in schools or publishing magazines or books in the tongue.

The restrictions were parts of a larger programme of constraints placed on Kurds, who make up around 10 percent of Syria’s pre-war population, including depriving them of Syrian nationality.

“I spent three months in a prison in Damascus in 2009, and was threatened with expulsion from university, because I was found with books in Kurdish,” said Shehu.

“Our language and our culture were banned by the authoritarian Baath party, which wanted to get rid of the Kurds and their culture,” he added.

But Syria’s central government no longer has much sway over the Kurdish-majority regions of the country, in the north and northeast.

– ‘Very few authors’ –

It withdrew its security forces from Kurdish-majority regions in 2012, a year after the uprising broke out against President Bashar al-Assad.

And since then, the Kurds have walked a careful line between the government and rebels, while focusing on building a semi-autonomous region.

Kurdish officials have reclaimed their tongue, reintroducing the Kurmanji dialect of their language into the school curriculum and restoring Kurdish names to villages and towns.

The project has already translated three more works, including “The Epic of Gilgamesh”, a poem from ancient Mesopotamia and among the earliest known literary writings in the world, from Arabic, and a study of the Kurdish people, from English.

Those books will soon go into publication, and work will continue with new volumes, which are chosen by a committee that weighs various criteria, including whether the works are relevant to Kurdish life.

It is a non-profit initiative, and funded by private donors, with translators working on a volunteer basis.

The translated version of “Snow” has already gone on sale, for just over one US dollar a piece, enough to cover the costs of printing, according to Shehu.

After translation, each work is reviewed by a committee for approval, which tried, without success, to reach Fermine to obtain copyright permissions before publication began.

After decades of marginalisation, today very few Kurdish authors write in their mother tongue, encouraging avid readers like Shehu to translate works from other languages.

“There are only very few authors who write literature in Kurdish,” writer Hussein Zido, 45, said.

“Kurds never obtained their cultural, social or political rights throughout their long history in the Middle East,” he said.

The “Hunar” project aims to save the Kurdish language from extinction by translating books from the rest of the world into Kurdish, Shehu said.

“We’re doing our best not only to translate literature, but also philosophy and thought… so that Kurds can read world literature in their mother tongue.”

To swell the body of homegrown books, Malfa Ali, one of the founders of the project, is also compiling traditional Kurdish folktales and songs to put them into print.

The 37-year-old said he spends long exhausting hours collecting these tales directly from the storytellers themselves.

They have never been formally recorded because publishing Kurdish-language books was forbidden.

“We’ll start gathering all the stories told in the area and then we’ll move on to the songs,” he said.

The project also hopes one day to produce a complete dictionary of the Kurdish language, including words and phrases from the tongue’s spoken form.

– Protecting Kurdish –

Kurdish areas have seen a cultural revival since 2012, with new cultural associations and magazines taking life.

Syrian authorities forced the Kurdish magazine “Sormi” to close down in its original Arabic-language form in 2008, but since the uprising it has reopened, this time publishing in Kurdish.

The latest issue of the bi-monthly, which relaunched in 2015 offering readers articles by Kurdish authors, is themed “Identity and Language”.

“The Kurdish language is the first thing we have to protect. It never had its chance before, despite representing the identity of a whole people,” said Abbas Musa, a member of the magazine’s editorial team.

“We’re striving to offer something different and varied to those interested in culture,” he said of the magazine, which is published in Qamishli and distributed in two other cities.

The 31-year-old said he hoped highbrow articles in Kurdish would show his mother tongue is “not weak”.

Fellow “Sormi” editor Bahar Murad, 39, also translates children’s stories from English to Kurdish.

In his office at the culture magazine, he points to a recent translation of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

He wants to see children reading in their mother tongue, he said.

“They’ve asked me to translate Little Red Riding Hood.”

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Germany largely bans fracking with new laws

February 12th, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

Particularly risky fracking is now banned until at least 2021, and “conventional” fracking will be governed by much tighter rules. For environmentalists, the laws do not go far enough: They want a complete ban.

A new legislative package on the use of fracking in Germany went into effect on Saturday, following much heated debate.
The legislation largely bans a particularly controversial form of fracking and imposes stricter rules on fracking overall. The German parliament and the 16 German states had approved the laws in June and July of 2016 after years of push-and-pull over environmental concerns and economic interests.
For environmentalists, the new laws don’t go far enough: They want a complete ban on all types of fracking. “If we want to meet the climate goals set in Paris, we need a clear ban on every type of oil and gas fracking,” said Kai Niebert, the chairman of Deutscher Naturschutzring, an umbrella organization for German environmentalist groups.

What is fracking?
Fracking – short for hydraulic fracturing – is a method used for extracting fossil fuels. A mix of water, sand and chemicals is pushed into the ground at high pressure to press out gas or oil. It allows the extraction of previously out-of-reach resources, but also poses environmental risks.
The new German laws distinguish between “conventional fracking” and “unconventional fracking.”
image©DW
Unconventional fracking is used when gas or oil is found not just embedded in rock strata but bound to the stone. In these cases, the fossil fuel often no longer has gaseous or liquid form. Extremely high pressure and high amounts of fracking liquid – often containing highly toxic chemicals – are needed to extract the fuel.
That practice is now banned in Germany until at least 2021, with the exception of up to four test drillings for scientific purposes. The German parliament is set to reassess the ban in four years’ time.
Conventional fracking is used when oil or gas can be reached comparatively easily. Less pressure, less liquid and fewer dangerous chemicals are usually needed to capture the fossil fuels. This method has been used in Germany since the 1960s, often in tandem with regular drilling: When a source is running low, conventional fracking is used to drive out the remaining oil or gas.
It will remain legal in Germany, but will be subject to tighter restrictions. It is, for example, no longer allowed in areas where drinking water is sourced.
Across Europe, laws on fracking vary from one country to the next. While France banned the procedure in 2011, the administration in the United Kingdom has plans to use fracking to explore its gas reserves to become more energy-independent in the post-Brexit era.
In the United States, unconventional fracking is particularly widespread. While some US states have banned the procedure, most states – especially those with large fossil fuel reserves – allow this type of drilling. President Donald Trump recently approved the Dakota Access pipeline, which is supposed to transport oil obtained through fracking in North Dakota across the US.
mb/tj (AFP, dpa)

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Indigenous Peoples Under the Rule of Islam (Book)

February 2nd, 2017 by EARTH PEOPLES

Frederick P. Isaac book (2003) gives an insider’s look at Iraqi human rights violations and first-hand account of persecution in the Middle East

excerpt:
Jihad. Many recognize this term, meaning “holy war” in Arabic, especially after deadly events during the last few years. Whether openly or secretly promoted by Islamic religious organizations, and with or without the approval of their governments, jihad forwards the cause of Islam through open threats and violence. While the whole world now knows the deadly effects of jihad, non-Islamic peoples living in Islamic countries have suffered its violence for decades. Now their story is told. Indigenous Peoples Under the Rule of Islam, a new book by Frederick P. Isaac, details the systematic mistreatment of non-Muslim natives, their denial of basic human rights, and their daily discrimination and persecution. This treatment, asserts Mr. Isaac, amounts to a clear-cut policy of genocide for aboriginal groups who refuse to convert to Islam.

Mr. Isaac, whose family lived in and fled from Iraq during the 1930s, details the use of terrorism, expansion, coercion, suicide bombing, and attacks on civilian targets as some of jihad’s aggressive methods, particularly in Israel and Iraq. He explains how mujahideen, or holy warriors, apply Islamic law and impose it on non-Muslims living in Islamic territory. Consequently, Mr. Isaac explains, the non-Muslim inhabitants become subjects of the Islamic policy of “conversion by the sword,” which seeks to eliminate the cultural identity, race, and faith of anything not Islamic.

He provides many examples, involving such diverse peoples as Jews, Assyrians, Arab Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian Christians, Egyptian Copts, and North African Berber Christians. The book also seeks to help people appreciate other aspects of Islam not thoroughly analyzed by the world media, aiming to raise the issue of human rights abuses of many indigenous people living under Islamic rule. Mr. Isaac hopes to encourage bodies such as the United Nations to take more active measures against inhumane and undemocratic practices, which he believes constitute a serious threat to world peace.

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