‘Integration’ or ‘Assimilation’ is a Two-sided Negotiation

well thought out

Media Diversified

by Chimene Suleyman 

A much older cousin lived in London’s Turkish neighbourhood of Green Lanes for forty years, and never learnt to speak English. She earned money tailoring clothes from a sewing machine in her living room. She shopped in local stores owned and frequented by other Turks. She socialised with her family. There was —as she saw it— little urgency for another language. In fact, there was little time. Above all, she had raised two children to speak English perfectly, have English friends, and to contribute to British society with good jobs in IT and wins at martial-art championships.

Attributing blame to a woman who does not learn the language of a country, is as good as forgetting we are not the sum of every ambition life got in the way of. Being a working mother of two will almost certainly “get in the way”. Depression and social…

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Warlords to the Lebanese People: Let’s Forgive and Forget!

Lebanese “Warlords Collage”. Geagea (with mustache) and Aoun (in uniform) appear in the photo at the upper right. Source: moulahazat.wordpress.com

Lebanon is special, we know, because our ancestors are Phoenician and because we can swim and ski in the same day. But Lebanon is also special because key figures of the Lebanese civil war are still in power, waltzing on the corpses of thousands of dead civilians and the living bodies of 4.5 million Lebanese citizens.

On January 18th, 2016, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea publicly endorsed his wartime rival Michel Aoun’s candidacy for president. This agreement means that Lebanon might finally have a new president, after 20 months in which the country’s top post has been vacant.

Here’s some context. Geagea, the executive chairman of the Lebanese Forces, the second largest Christian political party in Lebanon, and Aoun, a former Lebanese Army Commander and founder of the Free Patriotic Movement, are former enemies who fought against each other during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). On January 31, 1990, the Lebanese Army, with Aoun as its commander-in-chief, clashed with the Lebanese Forces (then a militia). The latter objected to Aoun’s assertion that it was in the national interest for the government to “unify weapons”, meaning that the Lebanese Forces should submit to his authority as acting head of state. The clash resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

I felt the need to add my two cents’—or two liras—on this state of affairs because of what General Aoun said during what blogger Joey Ayoub compared to an acceptance speech at the Oscars—that he wanted to leave the past behind in order to build the future.

“I would like to thank the academy for giving me this opportunity to shine” http://bitly.com/1JjfMA7

— Joey Ayoub جووي أيوب (@joeyayoub) January 18, 2016

People are sharing stories online of the times Aoun and Geagea bombed their neighborhoods. I can’t testify to that, as I was too young at the time and had the “luxury” of being born in a remote village in the north of Lebanon. I can’t testify first-hand to the pain of the war, to the loss, to the fear, to the experience of living surrounded by death. But I can testify to the hatred I saw, and continue to witness, between people my age or younger who also did not live through the war. No matter what anyone says, Lebanon’s regions, cities and neighborhoods, already riven by sectarian divisions, are still divided between the Aoun and Geagea camps.

I am not dismissing these experiences of these young partisans, nor the experiences of their loved ones. But I do wonder how they, with no direct experience of the war, manage to muster such hatred, why they listen to songs about an ugly war that ended 25 years ago that describe one leader as the alpha and omega and the other as god sent. I’m puzzled as to why they learn how to signal their support by honking their car horns—a “taratatata” or a “tata tatata tata tata tata” in the wrong place or time can get you into trouble—display party stickers on their cars, and wage their own second-hand war. A bloodless one, it’s true, but a cold war nevertheless.

“I’m puzzled as to why they learn how to signal their support by honking their car horns—a “taratatata” or a “tata tatata tata tata tata” in the wrong place or time can get you into trouble…”

Where is the urge to question those they blindly follow, and ask questions like “what happened”? “Who won”? “How many people died”? “What happened to those who were kidnapped”? “How many women and girls were raped”? “How many corpses were tied and dragged behind cars like war trophies”? “How many loaves of bread were stolen at checkpoints”?

During his “acceptance speech” Aoun basically said that what happened happened, and we should put it behind us, and maybe remember it so that we don’t repeat it. Geagea was smiling beside him.

Well, even though it is our fault (we elected them, after all, over again over again, those times we were actually allowed to have elections), I don’t want to stop believing that we deserve better. This endorsement, this deal between two war criminals, represents yet another nail in the coffin of our collective memory. Those of us who didn’t experience the war are now stripped of our ability to hold these men accountable for the deaths of thousands. And now they tell us to forget and move on. Because it is convenient for them? Because after years of wanting to eliminate each other, this is the only way to survive? We shouldn’t question their pasts or demand justice, yet these men want us to trust them with our future?

It’s about peacemaking, they say. But can peace really exist in a vacuum? How can we   achieve peace without a reconciliation process? Without healing the wounds of the past? How can peace exist when a silent, brutal, cold, war is being waged every day?

Where, indeed, is there room for peace when all we see is corruption, unaccountability, nepotism, theft, and the dismissal of an entire people?

Written by Abir Ghattas · comments (0)
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AWWP Poet to Make Guest Appearance at Michigan Poetry Slam


AWWP Poet Marzia will make a guest appearance via Skype at the Clarkston High School Voices for Change poetry slam on Friday, January 22nd at 7 p.m. This is the second year Marzia has participated as a guest reader. The slam, co-produced by sisters Madeline and Olivia Maday, will feature twenty Clarkston High School students selected to perform their work. Proceeds will go to the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.

“I am very excited about Voices for Change,” says Marzia, 25. “I believe my voice is not only for me, it is for millions of women and girls who have been fighting the violence and discrimination.”

Olivia Maday, 17, speaks to the importance of the poetry slam: “In a world where so many people are shouting to have their voices heard, important words can get lost in the noise. Slam poetry has the purpose of conveying personal messages as well as universal demands for change.”

The Maday sisters chose to include the Afghan Women’s Writing Project after a suggestion from a Clarkston High School teacher. “The AWWP saying ‘to tell one’s story is a human right’ inspired us because it was exactly the message which we wanted to convey throughout the Clarkston community as well as one that should be promoted globally,” says Olivia. “We were very moved by the courage that the women had in sharing their stories and messages with the world, and we greatly wanted to encourage a similar sense of empowerment for all students through the creative outlet of poetry.”

Voices for Change debuted last year to acclaim. “We were so surprised by how fantastic the response was,” says Maday. “My sister and I sat together after the show, reading aloud the incredible messages and tweets that people were sending to us, letting us know how inspired they were from hearing the voices of others. It definitely united our community on a whole new level.”

Admission is $1 and can be paid at the door. Follow the slam via Twitter at @_Voices4Change and hashtag #Voices4Change. Clarkston High School, 6093 Flemings Lake Rd. Clarkston, MI 48346 

Photo: Olivia (left) and Madeline Maday at 2015 Voices for Change Poetry Slam in Clarkston, MI. Photograph by Nathan Brown.

Cherokee Nation to Disperse Heirloom Seeds February 1st

Two-week-old Native Tobacco/Cherokee Ceremonial Tobacco seedlings grown by Cherokee Nation citizen Eugene Wilmeth using Cherokee Nation Seed Bank inventory.

Two-week-old Native Tobacco/Cherokee Ceremonial Tobacco seedlings grown by Cherokee Nation citizen Eugene Wilmeth using Cherokee Nation Seed Bank inventory.

Published January 20, 2016

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — The Cherokee Nation will begin dispersing its limited supply of heirloom seeds to tribal citizens interested in growing traditional Cherokee crops and plants starting February 1, 2016.

The Cherokee Nation keeps an inventory of seeds from rare breeds of corn, beans, squash, gourds, Trail of Tears beads, tobacco and several plants traditionally used for Cherokee customs. The seeds are not available in stores.

“The seed bank continues to expand and get more popular every year with our citizens. It’s also an important way the Cherokee Nation can keep our link to the land strong and preserve our history and heritage,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “For Cherokee people, the process of harvesting seeds and passing them down has gone on for generations. It is an essential part of who we are today, and because of the seed bank program, we have created a growing interest with a new generation of Cherokees.”

In 2015, the tribe distributed 3,463 packages of seeds to Cherokee Nation citizens.

Eugene Wilmeth, a Cherokee Nation citizen of Midwest City, Oklahoma, planted Cherokee White Eagle Corn and Native tobacco seeds.

“I am very grateful for the Cherokee Nation seed bank, which gives me the opportunity to grow traditional and sacred plants that connect us to our culture and to our Creator. The program allows each of us to play an important role in the preservation of our heritage,” Wilmeth said.

Citizens are limited to two varieties. To get the seeds, citizens can either make an appointment to pick them up or email their request to seedbank@cherokee.org to have them sent by mail. Individuals must include a copy of his or her Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship card, proof of age and address.

For more information, contact Pat Gwin at 918-453-5704.


The post Cherokee Nation to Disperse Heirloom Seeds February 1st appeared first on Native News Online.

Navajo Nation Confirms First Hantavirus Death of 2016

deer mousePublished January 20, 2016

NAVAJO NATION —The Navajo Nation has confirmed the first Hantavirus death of 2016.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is transmitted to people that come into contact with or breathe infected urine, droppings and/or saliva of wild mice, primarily deer mice. Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry Hantavirus is at risk of HPS. The illness is not spread from person to person.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome was first identified in 1993 when an outbreak of this infectious lung disease took place in the southwestern United States on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

The illness starts with fever, headache and muscle aches, and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death.

People should make sure to rodent-proof their homes to prevent infected mice from coming inside.

When cleaning rodent droppings, people should use a mask, disinfectant and gloves.

The post Navajo Nation Confirms First Hantavirus Death of 2016 appeared first on Native News Online.

We’re losing Antibiotics of Last Resort: NRDC’s Analysis Unveils the Global Spread of Drug Resistance

Carmen Cordova, Staff Scientist, San Francisco

Every week seemingly brings new evidence that we are overusing and on the verge of losing the effectiveness of life-saving antibiotics. The latest story to emerge was that discovery of a new form of bacterial resistance to colistin that can be easily shared between bacteria. Scarier still is that resistance to this critical antibiotic has spread globally.

Colistin is a drug of last resort which can save a patient’s life when faced with a multidrug resistant infection. The gene that gives bacteria resistance to colistin (“the colistin gene”), it turns out, is now more mobile and easily shared between bacteria, and has now been widely detected in meat, on animals and in people in many different countries.

What our new analysis maps, below, is that the list of countries across the world continues to grow, showing how this resistance gene has spread globally in food, animals and humans – from farms to communities, or vice versa.

Map of where mcr-1 (colistin resistance) has bee detected and associated categories of samples as of January 15th, 2016.png

What We Know

In November, Chinese scientists first published their discovery of the colistin gene (mcr-1) in bacteria in pigs in slaughterhouses, in pork (as well as in chicken) purchased from markets, and in human patients. Almost immediately, other scientists around the globe started checking for the colistin gene in their own collections of bacteria – i.e. bacteria that had already been collected from farm animals, meat, or human patients. In microbiology, as in life, you don’t always know what you’ve got until you specifically look for it.

Above is a map showing as of January 15th where the colistin gene has now been detected–in several countries and in all kinds of samples–from food animals, from meat, and from humans.

And because the colistin gene was detected more often in animals than in people, the authors of the original study say it is likely that this form of colistin resistance originated in animals and spread to people.

Here’s what we know:

  • The colistin gene has been found both hanging around in a healthy person’s gut, as well as in bacteria infecting especially vulnerable patients (children, elderly). That colistin gene has been detected in E. coli bacteria found in water, in a slaughterhouse, on workers (boot swabs) and on pigs, chicken, and cattle – on the animal and/or on the meat.
  • The bacteria carrying this gene (and resistance to colistin) don’t respect borders. They are moving across national boundaries either as passengers on international travelers, or in traded meat products.
  • Bacteria can collect resistance genes and splice them together on strands of DNA that can move around between bacteria. When a bacterium acquires one of these pieces of mobile DNA with many resistance genes, it can transform bacterium from one posing little threat to a potentially lethal superbug that resists treatment by multiple antibiotics.
  • One patient in Switzerland was infected with a multidrug–including colistin–resistant E. coli bacterium that could not be treated with almost any drugs of last resort. The bug had collected a ton of resistance genes along the way, including one for an antibiotic normally reserved for veterinary medicine, called florfenicol. This shows that bacteria that are infecting people are collecting resistance genes both from farms and from hospitals.

U.S. Outlook

We just don’t know if the colistin gene has showed up in the US. While colistin isn’t currently in use (as far as we can tell) in U.S. livestock production, other antibiotics in the same class are used. According to the FDA, they’ve tested almost 3,000 Salmonella bacteria for the gene and have come up with nothing.

Curiously, the FDA is not doing as much testing for this dangerous resistance as it could. The agency has only tested 76 of the E. coli bacteria in its collection despite the fact that the vast majority of colistin genes detected globally thus far has been detected in E. coli (although it’s also been found in some Salmonella and Klebsiella). Yet, we know that FDA has compiled samples of thousands of E. coli bacteria through their 12 years of grocery meat testing. FDA is mum about whether it will be testing for the colistin gene in those isolates.

To Stop the Spread, We Must Stop Overuse in Livestock Production

More than 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are sold for livestock– often for routine growth promotion and disease prevention in animals that are not sick. Leading medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization, warn that this practice causes bacteria to evolve and become resistant to the drugs we rely on them to treat them. And those drug-resistant superbugs can then spread to humans via the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat.

Two million Americans get sick from drug-resistant bacteria annually, and more than 23,000 die, according to conservative estimates.

While colistin itself is not used in livestock production here in the U.S., it is widely used abroad. And U.S. farmers commonly use other antibiotics that are often prescribed to treat the same illnesses as this drug of last resort–fueling resistance to other possible treatments that doctors would typically turn to first.

Several government reports last year called for reductions in antibiotic use, including in food animals. Most recently, a report from former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill, commissioned by the UK government, was issued.

That report calls out the critical need for nations to set numeric targets, to ensure that antibiotic use actually goes down. Admitting that there isn’t one silver bullet, the authors write that each country should be given the ability to identify their own way to meet that goal. In fact, we’ve seen this same strategy work in countries like the Netherlands and Denmark.

That’s not happening here in the U.S. While last year’s White House launch of a national strategy and action plan to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria garnered lots of attention, it failed to set any targets for reducing antibiotic use in livestock. That lies in stark contrast to clear goals on use reduction in human medicine. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the latest federal report on antibiotic sales in livestock demonstrates continuous increases, up 23% since 2009 to 2014.

We should be moving forward, not backward. To get there, we need federal limits on the use of any antibiotic on animals that are not sick, regardless of the label attached to such use.

Our analysis provides a crystal clear example now of how antibiotic use in livestock and human medicine are intertwined and translate into a very real public health threat. We cannot afford to keep waiting for action–we need urgent action to curb unnecessary antibiotic use in animal agriculture to save our miracle drugs and the lives that depend on them.

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FAO calls on donors to support Syrian farmers in their hour of need


With the war in Syria now approaching its sixth year, agricultural production has plummeted and food supplies are at an all-time low, pushing millions of people into hunger. FAO today called on governments to provide a boost in funding targeted at helping farmers keep their lands in production to prevent the situation from deteriorating even further.

Eritrean man was lynched by Israelis in uniform, new video shows | The Electronic Intifada

On 18 October, 29-year-old Eritrean refugee Haftom Zarhum was severely beaten and shot to death by a vengeful mob of Israeli soldiers, prison officers and police in and out of uniform, security camera footage recently obtained by the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz has revealed.The mob mistook Zarhum, unarmed and injured, for the gunman who had opened fire moments earlier at the central bus station in Bir al-Saba (Beer Sheva), a city in the south of present-day Israel.

Source: Eritrean man was lynched by Israelis in uniform, new video shows | The Electronic Intifada