Contributor’s Links post for February 11th, 2019

Daily Links Post graphic

Each day at just after midnight Eastern, a post like this one is created for contributors and readers of this site to upload news links and video links on the issues that concern this site. Most notably, Islam and its effects on Classical Civilization, and various forms of leftism from Soviet era communism, to postmodernism and all the flavours of galloping statism and totalitarianism such as Nazism and Fascism which are increasingly snuffing out the classical liberalism which created our near, miraculous civilization the West has been building since the time of Socrates.

This document was written around the time this site was created, for those who wish to understand what this site is about. And while our understanding of the world and events has grown since then, the basic ideas remain sound and true to the purpose.

So please post all links, thoughts and ideas that you feel will benefit the readers of this site to the comments under this post each day. And thank you all for your contributions.

This is the new Samizdat. We muse use it while we can.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

125 Replies to “Contributor’s Links post for February 11th, 2019”

  1. Pelosi, Dems demand that Ilhan Omar forswear her deeply held beliefs
    By Howard Portnoy February 11, 2019

    You can find any number of stories in the media today with titles like “Democratic leaders call on Omar to apologize for remarks” (CNN) and “Pelosi, Dem leaders urge Omar to apologize for ‘anti-Semitic’ tweet” (The Hill).

    All contain fundamentally the same information. All, for example, quote a statement issued by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders accusing Rep. Ilhan Omar of using “anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters” and calling on her “to immediately [sic] apologize for these hurtful comments.”

    All are exercises in cynicism and dishonesty, driven by a nakedly political agenda. Omar’s blatant hatred of Jews and Israel, manifested most recently in her admission on CNN that she finds the debates sparked by her controversial views on Israel to be “exciting,” is generating headlines and threatening to tarnish the Democratic brand. The part elders are therefore telling her to cool it, which is tantamount to telling a tiger to change its stripes. This is in no way a defense Omar’s anti-Semitism, which is as indefensible as any other form of bigotry. It is rather to observe that by forcing her to deliver an apology — which she has done, no doubt insincerely — is asking her to live a lie.

  2. New Jersey wants to tax the rain

    Saving money for a rainy day isn’t just a good idea in New Jersey — it’s about to become the law.

    Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is poised to sign a “rain tax” bill passed by the state legislature Jan. 31 — and Republicans and lots of taxpayers are howling with rage.

    “Every time you think there’s nothing left to tax, we come up with something else,” Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Morris-Sussex) exploded during a debate on the measure.

    “It’s just never-ending down here.”

    The law allows each of the state’s 565 municipalities to set up its own public stormwater utility. The new bureaucracies will build and manage sewer systems to treat pollutant-filled stormwater runoff.

    The infrastructure could cost billions, state authorities say. Under the law, the utilities can levy steep fees on properties with large parking lots, long driveways, or big buildings — which create the most runoff.

    The state would scoop up 5 percent of the proceeds.

  3. Number of child soldiers involved in conflicts worldwide jumps 159% in 5 years (thedefensepost, Feb 11, 2019)

    “The number of child soldiers involved in conflicts globally has increased 159 percent within five years, with almost 30,000 verified recruitment cases since 2012, Child Soldiers International, a London-based human rights organization, said in a press release on Monday, February 11.

    “Ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and persistent unrest in Somalia, South Sudan, DR Congo, Central African Republic and elsewhere are all leaving children increasingly exposed to recruitment,” the release said. “Boys and girls are routinely being used as fighters and at checkpoints, as informants, to loot villages and as domestic and sexual slaves.”

    Child Soldiers International analyzed United Nations annual reports on Children and Armed Conflict issued in 2013-2018, recording 29,128 verified cases of child recruitment in 17 countries. Even though a significant number of cases usually take place in Africa, about half of them happen outside the continent, in countries like Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, and Colombia.

    Records showed that in 2012, 3,159 children were recruited in 12 countries, while in 2017, the number jumped to 8,185 in 15 countries, an increase of 159 percent. At the same time, sexual violence grew 40 percent, with 951 incidents verified globally in 2017, up from 679 in 2012.

    “Child recruitment is among the most desperate human rights issues of our time. These statistics alone are shocking and probably only scratch the surface on the true scale of child exploitation by armed actors around the world,” Isabelle Guitard, Child Soldiers International Director, said.

    In 2017, seven state armed forces and 56 non-state armed groups were recruiting and using children, according to the U.N.

    Child Soldiers International highlighted that exploitation of girls has been on the rise, with 893 cases in 2017, compared to 216 cases the year before.

    Girls’ involvement in conflicts is often overlooked because they are largely used away from frontlines, but in Africa, for example, between 30 and 40 percent of recruited children are girls.

    “Consequently, they can fall outside official statistics and go unseen by child protection agencies – and thus this number is likely far higher,” the organization said.

    In many cases, children are abducted by parties to conflict or their families are forced to hand them over. However, some minors choose to join armed groups voluntarily, but the extent to which such actions are genuinely free has been difficult to establish, Child Soldiers International said. Often, insecurity, lack of education and economic opportunities, personal or community injustice, as well as ethnic or religious issues leave children with little choice.

    In July, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution to “strengthen mechanisms to prevent violations against children.”

    “Today’s resolution is providing us with important tools to better respond to the needs of boys and girls, such as the reintegration of former child soldiers,” U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba said at the time.

    And in September, the Global Coalition for Reintegration, co-chaired by the U.N. Office for Children and Armed Conflict and the U.N. Children’s Fund, was launched.

    According to Child Soldiers International, these initiatives could help to improve the dire situation: out of 55,000 children freed since 2013, only 70 percent have received support.

    Although the U.N. Office for Children and Armed Conflict said dependable and predictable funding for reintegration programming has been steadily decreasing, whereas the needs are significantly on the rise.”

  4. Terrorism ‘expanding’ in Sahel, African Union security chief warns (thedefensepost, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Terrorism is spreading in the Sahel region, and the African Union member states will be addressing the situation in a “comprehensive” manner, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui said on Monday, February 11.

    “Terrorism is expanding,” Chergui told journalists during a press conference in Addis Ababa. “Almost on a daily basis, Burkina Faso now is facing criminal and terrorist attacks not only from its border with Mali but also in the east, with the border on Niger. The whole West Africa now is on alert.”

    The region is seeing “increasing numbers of terrorist movements” who attack civilian populations and institutions, Chergui noted. At the same time, problems between ethnic groups, as well as clashes between farmers and herders, have been exacerbating the situation.

    “The combination of all these elements brings an unprecedented high level of violence and killing of innocent people, destroying their properties in a region that is already relatively poor,” Chergui said.

    The commissioner noted that issues of combating terrorism were discussed by all delegations, and AU member states had agreed to address the scourge of extremism in a more “comprehensive” manner.

    This meant not only through “military and security responses but also other means in terms of governance, in making sure that no one is left on the road in terms of development, in terms of political engagement, in terms of justice,” he said, noting that youth unemployment was a key challenge.

    Chergui comments echoed those of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who took over as AU chair on Sunday with a call to tackle the root causes of extremism.

    Chergui expressed disappointment with difficulties the G5 Sahel force has been facing.

    Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger agreed in 2017 to set up the 5,000-strong G5 Sahel joint counter-terrorism force that aims to train 5,000 troops to work alongside French troops as well as peacekeepers deployed to the United Nations’ Minusma stabilization mission in Mali. However, lack of funding and training, as well as poor equipment, have hobbled the G5 Sahel initiative.

    “The troops are ready, but there is no equipment,” Chergui said.”

  5. This Just In: Left Discovers Candace Owens Is A Nazi!
    Are Leftists evil, crazy, or both?
    February 11, 2019
    Robert Spencer

    Leftists thought they had hit the jackpot last week in their never-ending quest to portray all dissenters from their totalitarian agenda as Nazis and/or tools of Vladimir Putin: video surfaced of black conservative activist Candace Owens of Turning Point USA appearing to say that the only problem with Adolf Hitler was that he carried his program outside of Germany. Their gleeful smearing of Owens raises the question yet again: are Leftists evil, crazy, or both?

    Owens said this at a December event in London:

  6. Venezuela’s Dirty Cuban Secret
    February 11, 2019
    Daniel Greenfield
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    Venezuela didn’t get this bad on its own.

    The narcosocialist regime in power there had extensive backing from Cuban forces. While in the past, Cuba had been notorious for deploying military personnel beyond its borders, the habit had declined somewhat after the Cold War.

    Or at least become localized closer to home.

    Cuban thugs have long been notorious for their dirty wetwork in Venezuela. But now they’re coming out of the closet.

  7. The Slippery Slope of Speech Suppression at CUNY
    The dire consequences of violating students’ First Amendment rights.
    February 11, 2019
    David Seidemann

    Public universities morally should and legally must uphold free speech. Unfortunately, the university where I’ve taught for 43 years has a very bad record, and matters are getting worse.

    The City University of New York (CUNY) has a long history of speech suppression, as a sampling of legal cases at its various campus units reveals. For example, in 2007, a federal appeals court ruled that the College of Staten Island’s president violated students’ First Amendment rights when she nullified a student election; in a 2017 court settlement, Queens College administrators agreed to reverse their arbitrary decision to deny official recognition of a pro-life group litigation.

    The administration of Brooklyn College has been particularly aggressive in suppressing speech. This is illustrated in a series of court cases involving students who were attempting to stop the college from collecting a mandatory fee in support of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), an off-campus, liberal lobbying group.

    In 1996, the college arbitrarily canceled a referendum on the issue. A New York court ordered it reinstated. In 1997, the college blocked a similar referendum based on the (risible) claim that the students running it had libeled NYPIRG in a campaign poster by portraying the group as a rat. The college agreed to rescind that decision in a federal court stipulation. In 1998, the college refused to allow students to even start petitioning for a referendum, but a federal court ordered the college to permit petitioning. In 2001, the college refused to allow students all the allowed time for petitioning. That too was reversed in a federal court stipulation.

  8. Linda Sarsour Raises Money for Muslim Child Killer Who Raped 15-Year-Old
    February 10, 2019
    Daniel Greenfield

    By American standards, Domineque Hakim Marcelle Ray was a monster. But by the standards of Mohammed, who raped and killed countless people, Ray was a moderate. So why wouldn’t Linda Sarsour fundraise for this monster?

    “Domineque Hakim Marcel Ray was executed by the State of Alabama & denied his request to have his imam present. His final request was to AT LEAST have a proper Muslim burial. We can help make that happen,” Sarsour tweeted.

    Here’s what Ray did.

    • Raising money for burial is not the same as supporting a monster. Decent burial is a tribute to the Creator, not the person who was created. DG doesn’t know this?

  9. Turkey Opens Government Vegetable Stalls in Battle with Inflation (aawsat, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Battling a sharp rise in food costs, Turkish authorities opened their own markets on Monday to sell cheap vegetables directly to shoppers, cutting out retailers who the government has accused of jacking up prices.

    Crowds queued outside municipality tents to buy tomatoes, onions and peppers in Istanbul’s Bayrampasa district, waiting for an hour for items selling at half the regular shop prices, said a Reuters report Monday.

    The move to set up state markets follows a 31 percent year-on-year surge in food prices in January and precedes local elections next month in which President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party faces a tough challenge to maintain support.

    Traders blamed storms in southern Turkey’s farming region for food price inflation, as well as rising costs of labor and transport. Authorities called it “food terror” and said they would punish anyone trying to keep prices artificially high…”

  10. Qatar and France sign deal for greater economic, energy and security cooperation (mee, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Qatar and France have signed a “strategic dialogue” agreement to cooperate on economic, energy and security matters, in what is seen as a boost for the small Gulf peninsula amid an ongoing diplomatic rift with Saudi Arabia and its allies.

    Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, met his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Doha on Monday to sign the deal, which Al Thani said marks a “new phase” for the two countries.

    “This platform will include cooperation in different areas … including defence security, regional security as well as energy, economy and culture,” he said during a news conference…”

  11. US Congresswomen openly endorse BDS (memo, Feb 11, 2019)

    “The first two Middle East Congresswomen, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have openly endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

    Michigan congresswoman Tlaib said on Saturday that she wanted to highlight “issues such as racism and Israel’s violations of the Palestinians’ human rights”.

    Meanwhile Omar, the congresswoman for Minnesota, said she is working to bring some balance to the US position, which currently gives priority to Israel. Omar told US media:

    When I see Israel institute laws that recognize it as a Jewish state and do not recognize the other religions living in the country, and we still hold it up as a democracy in the Middle East, I almost chuckle.

    She added: “I know that if we saw that in another society we would criticize it – we do that to Iran and any other place that upholds its religion.”

    In response, Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin slammed Tlaib and Omar’s open support for the BDS movement, urging his colleagues to “to reject the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred that we are starting to see infiltrating American politics and even the halls of Congress”.

    The Republicans also accused the Democratic Party leadership of encouraging “hate speech and intolerance towards Israel”. Alvin Rosenfeld, director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism at Indiana University, said that “there is obviously a serious fight going on within the Democratic Party with respect to how to deal with BDS and some within their party who advocate for it”. “Should the party swing to the far left and appear to be way out of line with America’s traditional ties to one of its strongest allies, Israel, the party will surely suffer at the polls,” he told AFP.

    However, Omar has defended her views on Israel, saying she finds it “exciting” that her views are sparking debate. “I think it is actually exciting because we are finally able to have conversations that we weren’t really willing to before,” she told CNN.”

    • Next up, she will be asking about the PA and Hamas’s violation of the rights of everyone in the area, Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans and others residing in Israel.

  12. Saudi’s stateless Bedouins seek international help (memo, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Stateless Bedouins in Saudi Arabia – also known as the “Bidoon” – have been holding intensive meetings to bring international attention to their cause and end the injustice they face in the Kingdom.

    The tribes of the Qahtan, Hamdan, Bani Khalid and Anza areas are reported to have been holding the meetings in the hope that the Saudi authorities will listen to their appeals and grant them equal rights in the Kingdom, sources told Khaleej Online.

    With no Saudi citizenship, the Bidoon cannot register marriages, enrol in the public education system or seek medical treatment. The tribes have criticised the Saudi authorities’ reluctance to respond to their demands to recognise them as equal citizens.

    More than 150,000 Bidoons who live in Saudi Arabia have, over the past few years, filed thousands of cases through human rights organisations demanding equal treatment. None have been met with a serious response from the Saudi authorities.

    A source from the Anza tribe said they “live in Saudi Arabia under [an] unjust reality,” explaining that they do not have access to the necessary services including medical facilities, education and financial transactions.”

  13. Migrant rescue ship renamed after Syria refugee Aylan Kurdi (memo, Feb 11, 2019)

    “A German migrant rescue ship has been renamed after Syrian child refugee Aylan Kurdi, whose image sparked an international outcry over Europe’s migrant crisis after he washed up on a beach in Turkey.

    German charity Sea-Eye held a ceremony to mark the occasion, which was attended by Aylan’s father, Abdullah Kurdi, and aunt Tima Kurdi, in Palma on Spain’s Balearic island of Mallorca. The boat – formerly named after Professor Albrecht Penck – will now bear the name of the three year-old who was found in September 2015.

    “We are happy that a German rescue ship will carry the name of our boy. My boy on the beach must never be forgotten. Our grief for the loss is shared by many, by thousands of families who have so tragically lost sons and daughters this way,” Abdullah Kurdi said in a statement…”

  14. Algeria’s Sonatrach signs $1 bln gas plant deal with India (memo, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Algeria’s Sonatrach has signed a $1 billion contract with India’s Larsen & Toubro to build plants to produce 11 million cubic metres of gas per day, Sonatrach’s CEO said on Monday, says Reuters.

    “The project shows that we still have gas and we can raise output in the coming few years,” Sonatrach’s Abdelmoumene Ould Kaddour told reporters.

    Algeria’s gas output was 135 billion cubic metres for whole in 2018.”

  15. Soliciting expats patriotism to help revive Pakistan’s economy (tribune, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Pakistani Diasporas have always been upfront in the race whenever Pakistan has faced any perilous catastrophic situations. Pakistan has the sixth largest diaspora in the world which means about 8.5 million Pakistanis are living abroad. Inclined to stay connected with their home-country through investments, philanthropy, and personal involvement, they are contributing to the development of the country through annual remittances of over USD 20 billion. However, from an investment point of view, they cannot normally avail traditional commercial or Islamic bonds of a higher denomination.

    Pakistan is facing serious pressure on the external account due to lower inflows and massive external debt obligations. The government of Pakistan seems to be determined to try all the options to bridge the gap in the external sector accounts before finalising a bailout package with the IMF. Despite the fact that the balance-of-payments crisis has been taken care of, to a good extent, through assistance packages from friendly states, the country’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves – currently standing at $15.25 billion, including $8.86 held by the SBP – is still worrisome.

    The government has decided to tap into the international savings of overseas Pakistanis for building foreign exchange reserves via an attractive investment opportunity. For this purpose, the government has launched a Pakistan Banao Certificate (PBC) in order to provide the much needed Sovereign investment avenue to overseas Pakistanis so that they can earn handsome returns on investment. The certificates are issued globally by the government in conjunction with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

    After getting approval from the federal cabinet, the government promulgated Pakistan Banao Certificate (PBC) Rules, 2018, under which it will issue dollar-denominated scrip-less certificates to expats who hold Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC), National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistani (NICOP) or Pakistan Origin Card (POC) and are eligible to invest, either individually or jointly. These certificates issued in US dollars are providing an attractive investment avenue to Pakistani diaspora by empowering them to contribute to the development of the country at this important juncture. The investment will not only be favourable for the country’s Balance of Payment but it will also raise financing for critical infrastructure projects including dams, road networks, power generation and transmission projects etc.

    The certificates comprise of two types, one is of three years that offers 6.25% return semi-annually and the other one is of five-year maturity with 6.75% return semi-annually. For example: if certificates are issued on 6th February the profit payments would be made on 6th August and on subsequent six-monthly dates accordingly. The minimum investment amount should be USD 5,000 or higher in the integral multiple of US$1,000 with no maximum limit. National Bank of Pakistan (“NBP”) will open the Investor Portfolio Securities (IPS) Account of the investor after verification and screening of investor’s credentials. The certificates will be issued through Subsidiary General Ledger Account (SGLA) and will be placed in a separate account of National Bank of Pakistan, namely, NBP PBC holding account.

    The premature encashment of the certificates can be done anytime in Pakistani Rupees without levy or penalty, but in the case of encashment in USD within the first year of issuance, a penalty of 1% will be levied. The investment will provide maturity of money in USD as well as PKR with a semi-annual profit. However, if you opt for PKR maturity, there is an added incentive of 1% on the final premium. The PBC’s can be purchased individually or jointly by the resident and non-resident Pakistanis having bank accounts abroad, but it’s mandatory that funds for the purchase of certificates originate from their foreign accounts and remitted through official banking channels….”

  16. Four dancers abducted from wedding party, raped in Rawalpindi (tribune, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Police arrested eight men for allegedly raping female dancers in Rawalpindi on Monday.

    According to details, four dancers went to perform at a wedding ceremony where they were approached by one of the accused, identified as Tanveer, who ‘offered’ them to drop home after the function was over.

    The accused forced the performers to get into his car at gunpoint and asked them to remain silent. He drove them to an unknown location where Tanveer, along with seven other men, raped the dancers.
    An FIR has been lodged against the accused.

    Samples of the four victims had also been sent to the forensic laboratory, a police official said…”

  17. Iran will not withdraw forces from region: Commander (aa, Feb 12, 2019)

    “A top Iranian military official on Monday said his country would not withdraw its troops from the region, rebuking repeated calls by Washington to curb the country’s influence in the Middle East, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.

    “The enemy cannot ask us to leave the region,” IRNA quoted Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (RGC), as saying.

    “They must leave the region,” he added, addressing a Monday rally held to mark the 40th anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

    In a related development, RGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif declared Monday that Iran was safeguarding its national borders with what he described as “effective military capabilities”, vowing to “aggressively punish any aggressor”.

    Since Iran’s devastating eight-year war with Iraq (1980-1988), Sharif said his country’s defensive capabilities “have been greatly strengthened”.

    On Monday, rallies were held in capital Tehran — and across the country — to mark the passage of four decades since the 1979 revolution, which ended the rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.”

  18. France should face crimes in Africa: Turkish spokesman (aa, Feb 11, 2019)

    “French authorities should face human rights violations and murders they were involved in from Cameroon to Algeria, according to Turkey’s ruling party spokesman Monday.

    “Facing history is essential for France,” Omer Celik told reporters following a central executive committee meeting of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party. “What France should judicially face, from Cameroon to Algeria, is the acts of human rights violations and killings by the French authorities.

    “What is tragic is [Emmanuel Macron] talks about facing history. Facing history must be a term that should be used in another meaning for France,” he said.

    “While the crimes committed by the French authorities are obvious, hiding behind a term like ‘facing history’ is a result of a lobby support approach of Macron who is in a political turmoil,” he said referring to the French president’s tweets about the 1915 events.

    Last week, Macron announced April 24 as a day to commemorate the so-called Armenian genocide.

    Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as “genocide” but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides…”

  19. Iraq arrested more than 180 Daesh members: Officials (aa, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Iraq security forces arrested 186 Daesh members in western Anbar province, the interior ministry said Monday.

    “Terrorists confirmed that they have killed several people from Elbu Nemr tribes, a soldier named Mustafa el-Azzari, and conducted bomb attacks targeting civilians and security forces,” said an Interior Ministry’s spokesperson.

    He added that all the terrorists were sentenced to death…”

  20. Geneva votes to ban religious symbols on public employees (thelocal, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Geneva residents on Sunday voted for a controversial new “secularism law”, which will among other things ban elected officials and public employees from wearing visible religious symbols.

    Geneva residents on Sunday voted for a controversial new “secularism law”, which will among other things ban elected officials and public employees from wearing visible religious symbols.

    More than 55 percent of voters in the Swiss canton backed the law, final results showed, despite warnings that it could lead to discrimination, particularly against Muslim women. Some critics think it might violate the constitution.

    Geneva Canton, which for centuries has been a centre of religious freedom and tolerance, has been striving to replace a law on the books since 1907.

    The new law’s stated ambition is to expand the dialogue between religious groups and the state, and to better define the limits to religious expression in the public sphere.

    Supporters say it will help clarify existing principles in the Geneva Constitution to protect the religious freedom of believers and non-believers alike.

    The right-leaning cantonal parliament adopted the text last April. It also has the backing of Geneva’s three main religious communities, the Protestant Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Old Catholic Church.

    But the far left, the Greens, feminist organisations, unions and Muslim groups all opposed it, and collected enough signatures to force the issue to a public vote.

    Critics claim the law will have an oppressive and discriminatory effect, with some condemning it as Islamophobic and warning that Muslim women who wear a headscarf are being targeted.

    Teachers in Geneva are already banned from wearing visible religious symbols, including the hijab. The new text would extend this ban to elected officials and any local or cantonal public employees who comes in contact with the public.

    Two legal appeals have been filed against the new text which could block it from being adopted, despite Sunday’s vote.

    The Geneva Evangelical Network has lodged an appeal against a provision in the text that would ban religious gatherings in public.

    A second appeal has been lodged by the Green Party against a last-minute amendment to the text banning elected officials and cantonal and local government employees who have contact with the public from wearing visible religious symbols.

    “I am hopeful that the courts will side with us, since this law goes against the Swiss Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights,” Sabine Tighemounine, a local elected official for the Green Party who wears a Muslim headscarf, told the ATS news agency Sunday.

    Sunday’s vote did not spell final defeat, she said. “The process is just getting started.”

    The Geneva vote was among a range of local, regional and national issues voted on across Switzerland Sunday as part of the country’s famous direct democratic system.

    At the national level, voters resoundingly rejected an initiative brought by the Green Party’s youth wing, which called for a law to rein in urban sprawl by blocking zoning of new construction land.”

  21. the rebel- Jack Buckby – France HIKES Food Prices as Police Get Violent with Gilets Jaunes

    As Macron’s storm trooper police get rough with the Gilets Jaunes, the French government just hiked food prices. Isn’t it amazing…the President is so out of touch that he thinks hiking food prices is going to keep people happy, while Paris is literally still on fire.

  22. The clever way this bilingual school in Stockholm teaches empathy (thelocal, Feb 11, 2019)

    “Raising an empathetic, open-minded child is high up on the agenda for most parents. But how can you guarantee these values are reinforced during the school day? At Futuraskolan International School Bergtorp teachers take up the reins, organising global citizenship projects that foster tolerance and intercultural awareness.

    13-year-old Ebba recently discovered that families in Germany don’t share a communal butter knife. The revelation came during a meal with a German exchange student her family hosted for several days during the autumn term.

    “I realised that in Germany they live in a different way than here in Sweden. When he stayed with us he started taking the knife for the butter to himself because they have their own knives for butter there!”

    It might not seem like a life-changing realisation, but for Ebba it was an eye-opening moment. Discovering that people around the world have different norms is the first step to becoming aware and respectful of other cultures and customs.

    The student exchange project is just one of many projects that realise the school’s goal of shaping future global citizens. Part of the Futuraskolan network, which operates nine preschools and seven schools in Stockholm, Futuraskolan International Bergtorp offers grades 6-9 and teaches a combination of the Swedish curriculum and the International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC).

    “We try to teach students how the world works,” explains teacher Johan Filander, who heads up the school’s International Communications profile and organises the global citizenship projects. “We teach different communication and presentation skills to interact with each other but also to compare lives with students abroad.”

    There are several global citizenship projects running per class at any given time, such as the Världen Barn project in which sixth graders collect money for charity and investigate how it’s used, the Rubbish project run in collaboration with a school in Sri Lanka and, of course, the German exchange project mentioned by Ebba. All projects are carried out in English so students simultaneously improve language skills and become more culturally aware.

    Principal Kevin Munro explains: ”All of the current research suggests that experience and emotions are key components in the learning process. As such, we try to construct and facilitate experiences rather than assignments. This way students can attach meaning to their studies and can really apply it to their world in a way that best suits their ambitions.”

    Integrating projects and curriculum

    A major win for the school came in the form of Erasmus +, a two-year project funded by the EU and run in partnership with schools in the Netherlands, Poland and Germany. Johan explains that, where possible, teachers at Futuraskolan International Bergtorp try to connect the projects with the IMYC — in the case of Erasmus +, it naturally combined with the seventh grade’s Curiosity unit.

    “We want our students to learn about their family history, so we started researching their family backgrounds and connected it to writing an article and the unit of curiosity, since you have to be curious to find out about your background,” says Johan.

    He adds that the students have also created a travel agency to find similarities and differences between Sweden and the other countries involved with the project. They have designed packages for “trips in time” to see how the countries are connected but also where they differ.

    Students have already travelled to Poland as part of the Erasmus + project and are looking forward to trips to Germany and the Netherlands over the coming year.

    Improving language skills

    This year is the first time 12-year-old Ivar has taken part in a global citizenship project.

    “I thought it would be fun and interesting to take part”, he told The Local. “It’s fun learning about other countries and languages and learning English too.”

    So far, Ivar and his classmates have recorded messages in English to share with a partner school in Scotland. The students swapped stories about Christmas traditions which he was pleased to find are similar in some ways but very different in others.

    “I’m enjoying speaking with other people and socialising with people from different cultures,” enthuses Ivar. “This term, we will write a letter and learn about the schools and Skype with people from Scotland. I look forward to Skype, I like learning languages and some new words I don’t know.”

    Seventh grader Stella has also particularly enjoyed the opportunity to bolster her language learning skills. Not just in English but also in German, which she was able to practice with her German exchange student.

    “We had lots of fun and did lots of things together. She taught me how her school works and told me about how she lived and her hobbies. It was very exciting. I have learned new words and have spoken a little German too which I’m also studying.”

    Johan notices a real change in the children that take part in the global citizenship projects. They start out shy, he says, but quickly develop different communications skills and learn plenty about themselves and others in the process.

    “We hope to develop more understanding children who are tolerant and empathetic. We want them to see the positive things in the world and this is a thing that raises more positivity.”

    There are obvious perks for parents too, he adds.

    “When they go on trips they don’t have their parents with them and we teachers are not always there, so they have to find their own way of solving problems. That probably benefits the parents too when they get home!””

  23. Germany’s migrants: Wooed and discriminated against (DW, Feb 11, 2019)

    “From teachers to bookkeepers to police officers, migrants seeking jobs are in demand in Germany, particularly in the public sector. Nevertheless, they continue to face significant discrimination in the labor market.

    “We are Hamburg. Are you in?” That’s the slogan Hamburg is using to advertise municipal jobs to migrants. From police officers to teachers, doctors, bookkeepers and prison workers — the city is hoping to hire more employees with migrant backgrounds.

    And it’s not just Hamburg making this push. All throughout Germany, the business and public sectors alike are focusing on the country’s newest residents.

    Rising education levels

    That’s because the average education level of migrants in Germany is on the rise. In 2011, one-quarter of young migrants between the ages of 18 and 25 had completed their “Abitur,” or high school certificate exam. By 2015, that figure had climbed to 33 percent. During that same period, the percentage of youth without a migrant background who had completed high school rose from 32 to 39 percent.

    The numbers tell a similar story when it comes to higher education. In 2015, some 38 percent of people aged 35 or under with an immigrant background had completed vocational training, and 16 percent had completed a university degree. However, the proportion of migrants without any qualifications has remained at around 30 percent.

    ‘We can achieve something’

    “We just have to look at our parents,” said Cemile Ürük, who teaches English and social studies at the Emschertal Vocational College in the western city of Herne. “They didn’t come to Germany so that we come to nothing, but rather so that we can achieve something.”

    Ürük belongs to a network for teachers with immigrant backgrounds. She wants to be an example not just for her students, but for other Turkish-Germans. The network was founded by the North Rhine-Westphalia state Education Ministry in 2007 to promote diversity in the classroom.

    Germany’s other states have since followed suit, founding similar networks. And those networks are urgently needed, because there is significant progress to be made. In North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, 26 percent of students come from non-German families, yet only 5 percent of teachers do.

    ‘The state is counting on us’

    The situation is slightly better in the public sector. According to a survey by Germany’s Federal Institute for Population Research (BIB) and the Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, 15 percent of public employees in 2015 had a non-German background.

    “Opening our institutions is extremely important,” integration research Aladin El-Mafaalani told Der Spiegel magazine. “For migrants, because they see that the state is counting on us. But also for everyone else, because a teacher with an immigrant background doesn’t just change the classroom, but also the teacher’s lounge.”

    El-Mafaalani knows from first-hand experience. He was born in Germany to parents who immigrated from Syria. He currently works as a department head at North Rhine-Westphalia’s Ministry for Children, Family, Refugees and Integration in Dusseldorf, and wrote a best-selling book on integration in Germany.

    Persistent prejudices

    However, El-Mafaalani is among the experts warning that achieving equality and integration in society will not be an easy task. Discrimination persists in Germany, not just between those with or without immigrant backgrounds, but also within different immigrant groups.

    A lack of self-esteem, insufficient qualifications, mistrust, cultural differences and above all deeply-rooted prejudices can get in the way of immigrants starting off successfully in the workforce. Many job applicants with a non-German background are simply never offered an interview.

    According to a May 2018 study by the Berlin Social Sciences Center (WZB), job applicants with immigrant backgrounds face “clear discrimination” despite a shortage of skilled labor in the workforce.

    Education not the only decider

    The result, the WZB found, is that “while applicants with a German name receive positive feedback in 60 percent of all cases, only 51 percent of applications with an immigrant background do.”

    “Diversity hasn’t reached everywhere, and education alone doesn’t solve the problem,” the WZB’s Ruta Yemane, who authored the study, told DW. “Prejudices and cultural preferences have more of an influence on discrimination than differences in education levels.””

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