In Egypt, even helping street children can land you in prison

The couple’s lawyer, Ahmed Saad, told PRI the case was “fabricated,” a view shared by Hijazi’s family and colleagues. Now, rights groups are questioning whether America’s incoming Donald Trump administration will pressure the Egyptian   government on rights abuses. But the   case has implications far beyond these   humanitarian workers. Investigating judges revived the case earlier this year — resulting in travel bans, asset freezes, as well as threat of closing organizations and possible 25-year sentences for some human rights defenders if found guilty. “There are new leaders coming up from their organizations, and those new leaders are going to challenge the leaders that exist right now, so they are seeing this as a threat in 10 years,” Zaraa said. “I can only comment when it comes to NGOs that are registered in the ministry data base. “According to the NGO law you can go register and wait 60 days for approval. Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered a forensic examination of the children. “She has read a lot of books,” says Basel Hijazi about his sister Aya. Hijazi is imprisoned not in spite of her American citizenship, but because of it.”
In November, Egypt’s parliament approved a new NGO law that will give security agencies even more control over the funding and work of aid groups. In September, a group of legal observers concluded that “multiple violations of international law” against Hijazi occurred during the trial. “In other words, Ms. “When we asked for permission to search for the children, the court refused.”
Met family of Aya Hijazi, jailed w/o charges 865 days in #Egypt for running children’s shelter. The   subsequent report   disproved the allegations of torture and sexual assault, says Mohamed Zaraa, a member of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, which is providing support to Hijazi and her co-defendants. “I am definitely concerned with the possibility that the US government may stop pressuring the Egyptians on the case,” Okail says. Will the US pressure Egypt? That includes ensuring international legal observers are present during the trial to monitor proceedings. Analysts say they have been caught up in one of the fiercest crackdowns on human rights and dissent in Egypt’s contemporary   history — even worse than during the dictatorship that was deposed in 2011. “The court told us they don’t have their contact details as they were handed back to their parents,” he says. The US president-elect has yet to acknowledge the country’s deterioration in human rights. However, Hijazi and Hassanein’s defenders say their work was not about that. Others say the case is driven partly by anti-American sentiment. Aya Hijazi, who turns 30 in January, has been in an Egyptian prison since May 2014. Government alleges kidnapping and sex abuse

After a detention hearing in 2015, Aya Hijazi waving and smiling to her family. Their approach is likely to have marked them, according to Zaraa. Loss for Egypt
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) September 13, 2016
Though initially quiet on the case — the US government became more vocal over the summer and fall. Yet, according to Zaraa, “they even got an approval to open a bank account.” And their lawyer adds, “[the Belady Foundation] organized activities with the Cairo mayor’s office and Egypt’s Cabinet.”
‘All-out war with civil society’
So why then were Hijazi and Hassanein, who used their wedding funds to open the foundation, arrested? Credit:


The charges against the foundation workers are numerous: They include running an unlicensed organization, fraud, holding children captive, inciting children to demonstrate against and throw stones at security forces, torturing and sexually abusing children. They say the couple was focused on local development: providing much-needed care, education and skills to Egypt’s homeless children, so that they grow up to be good citizens and integrated members of society. The observers’ report also criticized the prosecution’s “failure to produce any evidence before the court.”
And the defense has found it difficult to speak to key witnesses for questioning, like the children Hijazi allegedly held captive, says her lawyer, Saad. Zaraa adds that the Belady Foundation was technically legally registered. His Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies along with the organization’s founder, Bahey El Din Hassan, have also had their assets frozen in the “foreign funding case.” He thinks the institute’s closure is imminent. Though he acknowledges that his institute’s ability to support Hijazi and her co-defendants has been impaired given the group’s own crisis, he says they have nevertheless done the best they can in the circumstances. By “NGO trial,” she means Case 173, also known as the “foreign funding case.” It’s a long-running investigation of nongovernmental organizations that are alleged to have acquired illegal foreign funding to harm Egypt’s national interests. If the 60 days pass   with no rejection, you’re OK to go ahead,” Zaraa says. A   statement   issued by the White House in September said, “The United States calls on the Government of Egypt to drop all charges against Hijazi and release her from prison.” (It did not mention her husband and the other co-defendants.)
Demands for her release have also come from some members of Congress, including representatives Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly and Senator Tim Kaine, the former vice presidential candidate, from Hijazi’s home state of Virginia. In December, a   Washington Post   editorial   said the government of Egyptian President   Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is hunting what it “considers to be Washington-sponsored subversion in his country.”
“According to the regime’s conspiracy theories, US-backed nongovernment groups are bent on overthrowing the government,” the Post said. However, with incoming President-elect Donald Trump — who has expressed his intent for close relations with Egypt — there are fears that the case will be way down his list of priorities. “So that’s why they are trying to close the space. Those working on matters of political rights have been the main target of this clampdown. It has yet to be ratified by the president. Trump referred to Egyptian President Sisi as a “fantastic guy,” after meeting with him on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September. They are not allowing new leaders, with new vision outside the mainstream, people who are innovative and solving problems, which the government is not.”
Zaraa himself has been banned from travel for reasons unknown to him. And after a recent meeting between Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and US Vice President-elect Mike Pence, PBS Newshour   pressed the top Egyptian diplomat on whether human rights issues had been specifically raised. Hijazi, an American-Egyptian citizen, and her Egyptian husband Mohamed Hassanein were arrested on May 1, 2014, after the humanitarian group they co-founded to care for street children in Cairo was raided by Egyptian police. The American-Egyptian and her Egyptian co-defendants have been held in pretrial detention over Egypt’s two-year limit, although one of the volunteers was recently granted bail on health grounds. He says the new NGO law is also targeting organizations doing social work. “Novels do help her escape the reality she is living.”
The “reality” he’s referring to, others might call a nightmare. Okail herself, who is now based in the US, was tried in this case and sentenced in absentia in 2013. I am sure she is not as I checked not less than 48,000 files and names which are in our data,” spokesperson Olfa Elsalamy said. The Belady Foundation’s slogan is “Looking at our children on the street in a different way.” Its unique approach included recycling workshops and art classes for impoverished children, on top of teaching those not at school to read and write. Human Rights Watch says the legislation “would effectively ban what remains of the country’s independent civil society groups.” Many view it as an escalation in the government’s attack on civil society. Another six volunteers at their Belady Foundation were also arrested. “Her arrest is the perfect opportunity for a government that is at all-out war with civil society and NGOs as evidenced by the reopening of the 2012 NGO trial and the introduction of an incredibly restrictive NGO law,” says Nancy Okail, executive director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. “They chose street children because they thought it was one of Egypt’s biggest problems that needed to be addressed quickly, because street children are considered time bombs if not helped in time,” says Hijazi’s brother. “So 60 days had passed with no rejection.”
When contacted for comment, a Ministry of Social Solidarity spokesperson said she couldn’t find a trace of Hijazi’s humanitarian group on file. Shoukry responded “no.”
Salma Islam reported from Cairo.

North Korea’s highest ranking defector has no regrets

“I am very happy, and now my family here is settled down, and everyone in my family thinks that it is the right decision,” he told Evans.

As Pyongyang’s deputy ambassador in London, Thae Yong-ho was the public face of North Korea in England, says Stephen Evans, BBC’s Seoul correspondent. “I quite liked him. The options were sending Thae’s son to a great university in England or to a “very limited university in Pyongyang with a very limited future.”
Evans says Thae had a message he wanted the North Korean people to understand: “‘If the head gets cut off, North Koreans don’t get cut off as well.” In other words, taking down Kim won’t hurt North Koreans — they shouldn’t be afraid to be disloyal. “North Korean diplomats do not defect!” he said. “‘Human scum’ is the phrase that is being used,” says Evans. When Evans, who’s based in Seoul, came to London in the past, he would often meet with Thae at the Curry House, which Thae recommended. But he would never crack. On Tuesday, Thae spoke for the first time since his defection to South Korea. North Korea’s response to Thae’s defection and statements? Now in Seoul, Thae and his family are under the South Korean government’s protection, and he’s been sharing information with the intelligence services. According to Thae, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued a directive to complete nuclear development by the end of 2017. In an interview with Evans, Thae’s message was clear: he has “no regrets at all” about his decision to turn on North Korea. “We had a journalistic relationship,” says Evans. No North Korean ever cracks if you go anywhere near a criticism of the regime.”
Thae would talk to “left-wing groups about North Korea and how marvelous socialism was,” Evans recalled. And yet Thae seemed very comfortable living as a diplomat in London. His kids were educated in public schools and his youngest son is a bright kid … “There’s no doubt that if North Korea could bump off Thae, they would.” According to the BBC, Thae has relayed to the South Koreans that Pyongyang may have an effective nuclear arsenal a year sooner than many experts had predicted. Evans has had a working relationship with Thae for years — but he said the diplomat’s sudden defection came as a complete surprise. “He seemed very English in lots of ways; there’s a slight hint of an English accent when he speaks. who was about to go to university.”
That probably played a part in Thae’s decision to defect, says Evans. In August, North Korea’s highest-ranking diplomat became the country’s highest-ranking defector.Player utilitiesPopout
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You think you know the refugee story? This documentary might change your mind.

Hassan is just one of the refugees that Exodus follows. Then Hassan began taking part in   anti-government protests during the Arab Spring. Exodus: Our Journey to Europe | Trailer – BBC Two Exodus takes us as close as possible to traveling with these refugees.

“He was a regular dude, he drove a nice car, he liked to date girls, he had a regular, fun life in Syria.”
That’s how   James Bluemel, director of a new   Frontline documentary   called Exodus, describes Hassan — one of the main characters in the film. He was severely beaten and taken into custody. “I’ve got two of my ribs broken, my left leg was heavily damaged,” recalls Hassan in the documentary. Bluemel says the film is aimed at everyone. During   one of those protests, Hassan was arrested. Recalling the traumatic events, Hassan is unable to continue the interview and breaks down to cry. “People may think they know this subject very well,” he says. “They took us to the station. Hassan was an English teacher before the war began in Syria.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. They put us in a cell and things were very ugly there,” he recalls, stumbling and breathing heavily. “They might have seen it on the news — those images of refugees coming through Europe and feel a bit numb or a bit disengaged with it.”
And this is the challenge, he says:   How do you   help viewers re-engage   with the story? Listen to the full interview. It’s a powerful reminder that for so many of them, life back home is so hard that they are willing to die to get to a better   home. There is a young man from the Gambia who is abducted on his way to Europe through Libya. There are Syrian families desperately trying to make it to Europe.

Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ was born 30 years ago — and ‘world music’ grew with it

To an American   audience, the music was new, fresh and   unfamiliar. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Paul Simon’s album “Graceland.” And its musical, cultural and political significance is worth noting. “Some of the songs are fantastic,”   says Collinet. But to a certain degree, Simon helped seduce Americans to sounds around the globe. Collinet was working in Paris for Voice of America at the time. At the time, Simon was influenced by South African music, specifically the album “Gumboots: Accordion Jive Hits, Volume II.” According to Georges Collinet, host of the PRI music show Afropop Worldwide,   the album raised Simon’s ear “and he said, ‘Wow, I want to work with something like that.'”
Simon recorded   the album in Johannesburg, South Africa, with local musicians, including the   a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. And the title track begins “the Mississippi Delta was shining like a National guitar.”
But what made “Graceland” different   was its   sound. When “Graceland”   was released, Collinet admits that at first, he had “mixed feelings, but was more in favor of Paul Simon.”   After all, Collinet says, Simon “was playing with black musicians” and “wrote a lot of these songs with South African musicians.”
In 1987, a   year after the album came out,   a bunch of globally obsessed music aficionados got together at a pub in London and came up with the phrase “world music.”   Sure, it quickly became a marketing tool. This was in the midst of the anti-apartheid struggle. There was “You Can Call Me Al,” a song about a man in a midlife crisis. Collinet, by the way, is a Cameroonian-American and followed South Africa’s politics and music closely. His   1986 release was no different. “As long as you remain close to the traditional, it’s beautiful.” Collinet agrees:   “Paul Simon opened American ears to music, to African music.”
And “Graceland”   at 30 years old still holds up. But   he also   shined a spotlight on the injustices there. On the one hand, Simon ignored the calls to boycott the apartheid regime and went to   South Africa, spending money in the country. As a lyricist, Simon was always telling stories.

Remembering Carrie Fisher’s outspokenness about her alcoholism and other challenges

Fisher has long been outspoken about her problems, but seeing is believing. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop.”   — Fisher’s mother, the actress Debbie Reynolds
“no words #Devastated”   — Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker)
“I am extremely sad to learn of Carrie’s passing. She was wonderful to work with. She arrived in dark glasses —   yawning. “To me there’s Carrie and there’s Carrie Fisher,”   she explained, “and Carrie has to make sure Carrie Fisher gets enough sleep so Carrie Fisher can do her show, [because] Carrie wants to go shopping.”
Hear more of that 2010 conversation, where Fisher talks about her struggles with addiction and mental health that touched so many:  
With reporting from PRI’s Studio 360 and Agence France-Presse. In 2009, she   took to Broadway a one-woman show called “Wishful Drinking” — an account of her struggles with alcoholism, failed romances and brushes with death that proved Fisher had a knack for stand-up. Be strong, be as (strong) as she’d want you to be. Condolences to her friends, family & fans around the world.”— David Prowse (Darth Vader)
“Millions fell in love with her as the indomitable Princess Leia; she will always have a special place in the hearts of ‘Star Wars’ fans as well as all of us who were lucky enough to know her personally.”   —   Bob Iger, head of The Walt Disney Company
“We just lost a great ally for mental health and addiction. Rest in paradise.”   —   Comedian Margaret Cho
It was that advocacy that Cho mentions that really defined Fisher’s later years. Shortly after her death, tributes poured in:
“Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. In December 2010, she visited PRI’s   Studio 360 to talk about her work. A filmed version of her stage show aired on HBO. Fisher died Tuesday at the age of 60 after suffering a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. Carrie Fisher, famous for her no-holds-barred portrayal of Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, refused to be cowed by any of the struggles she faced in her later life.

Japanese and US leaders celebrate ‘the power of reconciliation’ in a visit to Pearl Harbor

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo   Abe   and US President Barack Obama made a joint pilgrimage to the site of the   Pearl   Harbor   attack on Tuesday to celebrate “the power of reconciliation.”
The Japanese attack on an unsuspecting US fleet moored at   Pearl   Harbor   turned the Pacific into a cauldron of conflict — more than 2,400 were killed at Pearl Harbor, drawing a   reluctant America was drawn into World War II. Hawaii time — 5:05 p.m. And, at least on the campaign trail, Trump has also called into question the US security guarantees that shielded   Japan   through the Cold War and later through the rise of an increasingly confident China. Healing old wounds
In eight years, Obama — America’s Hawaiian-born first “Pacific president” — never made much headway in his vaunted “rebalance to Asia” diplomatic strategy. A reluctant America was drawn into the war already raging in Europe and its colonies, a war that ended after US atom bombs razed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And   Abe’s grandfather, Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, also did so in 1957. Only five of the Arizona’s crewmen are still alive and, while the memorial remains a tourist draw, in Hawaii the divisions of war have given way to a shared present. In 1956, then prime minister Ichiro Hatoyama visited the headquarters of the United States Pacific Command in Honolulu, which fronts onto   Pearl   Harbor. “The peoples of   Japan   and the United States were put in position to hate each other,” he said. But after   Pearl   Harbor, the US Congress declared war on   Japan. Obama and   Abe   were due to make statements at 12:05 p.m. But   Japan’s government says   Abe’s visit is the first by a sitting prime minister to the Arizona Memorial to console the spirits of the dead. Hundreds of sailors drowned when the USS Oklahoma, still lashed to the quay, pitched onto its side and trapped them. But the scene was grim in 1941 when Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto maneuvered six aircraft carriers to within 240 miles of Oahu and unleashed two waves of dive bombers. ‘Remember   Pearl   Harbor’
December is peak tourist season in balmy Hawaii, and the US First Family is halfway through its annual Christmas break on the islands. The meeting between the two leaders comes as Obama prepares to leave office and with   Abe   leading   Japan   into uncharted waters, after remarks by incoming US president Donald Trump clouded US-Japanese relations. Last week, he again caused consternation when he blithely threatened to revive the global nuclear arms race. Post-war cooperation, however, has healed many wounds. “I don’t think there is any feeling of antipathy towards the Japanese, 75 years after the attack.”
Today, Obama’s home state has a reputation as one of the most multi-ethnic and multi-cultural in the country. The US president-elect has declared his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, effectively killing a major trade deal that Obama championed and that   Abe   put at the heart of his economic strategy. eastern. Three days later,   Japan’s European ally Nazi Germany declared war on the United States in turn. Before the attack, the US isolationist campaign’s cry of “America first!” — now revived as Trump’s slogan — found a ready ear among voters wary of embroilment in Europe. “I hope the image of President Obama and I together visiting   Pearl   Harbor   will serve to make the term ‘Remember   Pearl   Harbor’ symbolize the power of reconciliation.”
The same force of reconciliation was on show in May, when Obama surveyed ruins in Hiroshima and revived his Nobel Peace Prize-winning call for a world without nuclear weapons. The US Pacific fleet, formerly   Japan’s main rival in the region, lost 21 warships and 328 planes. Trump, who takes office on January 20, was forced to backtrack during his campaign after he appeared to suggest   Japan   break a taboo and develop its own nuclear weapons. The two leaders were to hold their last bilateral meeting in the morning before heading by boat to the white-walled memorial positioned over the sunken Arizona, still lying in the clear blue waters of the   harbor. Abe   is not the first Japanese leader to visit Hawaii since the war to pay homage, but he has invested poignant symbolism in choosing to see the wreck of the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 crew members. The “America first!” slogan was quickly replaced on posters, in political speeches and in song by recruiters’ refrain: “Remember   Pearl   Harbor.”
Three-quarters of a century later,   Abe   wants to imbue the wartime rallying cry with a new resonance. “Hawaii has a very multi-ethnic population with a very large Japanese population,” Stanley Chang, a 34-year-old Democratic member of the Hawaii state senate, told AFP. But he and   Abe   have chosen a telling spot to celebrate US-Japanese partnership, 75 years after the notorious “day of infamy,” December 7, 1941. It is also the first time that a sitting Japanese prime minister has been joined at the memorial by a US president.

North Korea plans to push nuclear weapons in 2017

The   North’s state media denounced him as “human scum,”   and accused him of embezzling state funds, raping a minor and spying for South   Korea   in exchange for money. According to a transcript of his press conference, Thae said Kim would never trade away the   North’s nuclear arsenal — no matter how large a financial incentive might be offered. Thae was living in London when he escaped to the South with his wife and two sons — becoming one of the highest-ranking diplomats ever to defect. But all agree it has made enormous strides in that direction since Kim took over as leader from his father, Kim Jong-Il who died in December 2011. “Even the foreign minister doesn’t know,” he added. The   North   Korean leader’s main aim is to open a new dialogue with the US from the position of a confirmed nuclear power, he said. North   Korea   carried out two nuclear tests in 2016 and numerous missile launches in pursuit of its ultimate goal of a deterrent capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the US mainland. Analysts are divided as to how close Pyongyang is to realizing that ambition, especially as it has never successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. North   Korean leader Kim Jong-un is planning a push to activate its nuclear weapons program in 2017 — to take advantage of leadership transitions in South   Korea   and the United States, a high-ranking defector said Tuesday. “With South   Korea   holding presidential elections and the US undergoing an administration transition, the   North   sees 2017 as the prime time for nuclear development,” Thae told local reporters. Washington has repeatedly vowed that it would never accept the   North   as a nuclear state. “That’s based on a calculation that the US and South   Korea   will not be able to take physical, military measures because they are tied up with domestic politics,” he added. In his first press conference since fleeing his post as   North   Korea’s deputy ambassador to Britain in August, Thae Yong-ho said Kim had issued a directive at a rare ruling party congress in May to “complete” nuclear development by the end of next year. Thae said he was ignorant of how much progress the   North   had really made with its nuclear weapons program, saying such information was not given to diplomats.

25 years ago the Soviet Union fell — and Russians are still re-inventing themselves

Finally, there is Donald Trump. There were new books and newspapers; new political parties and civil society groups, and there were the “New Russians” — a class of businesspeople with endeavors   big and small. “Because you had nothing and all [of a] sudden the whole world was right in front of you. The position would help land him a job with the Kremlin, and — seemingly out of nowhere — propel him to Yeltsin’s choice for prime minister and chosen successor. because the Soviet Union was already gone.”
What Krovsheyev does remember is the ensuing post-Soviet ride under Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin. Through its annexation of Crimea, the Kremlin has re-established its zone of influence over neighboring post-Soviet states. The dark side of progress
But the new Russia could take away more easily it gave —   a lesson learned by many.  
Take Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Russians have seen worse,   far worse,   in recent history. Economic reforms known as “shock therapy,” exhilarating revelations about Soviet repressions and Stalinist crimes, and change. All around him. Putin’s mission is now to restore Russian prestige — what foreign policy analyst Vladimir Frolov calls “making Russians feel good about themselves again.”
It’s clear that Putin sees foreign adventures as providing the roadmap. The fact is they   did. Friends who grew up in those years recall the exhilaration —   and shame — at bringing home paychecks far beyond their parents’ wildest dreams. In reality, it was all of the above and then some. Indeed, it could seem as though the norms of daily life were suddenly rendered meaningless. Personal experience dictated attitudes. “Those who understood what was going on, truly what was going on … Opportunity everywhere, for those who could ride the wave. Memories of the deprivation of the early Yeltsin years runs deep in the collective memory. Putin’s rise remains but one example of the strange miracles post-Soviet society could muster. A period of national decline? “So he knows how to play on these sentiments.”
It’s often mentioned Putin has called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. There were multiple bank defaults, millions in average Russians’ savings lost, a gangster-style business culture, and the vaunted Red Army reduced to a punchline. Overwhelmed with the scope of the changes underway, Yeltsin told Russia’s regions to “take as much freedom as you need.”   Soon, wars for independence in Chechnya   would test the sustainability of the new Russian Federation itself. Too many had learned that currencies collapse; that banks can shutter in a day with personal savings swallowed whole. Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak, among the leading liberal democratic voices of his time. “I think this is one of the secrets of [Putin’s] popularity: It was his personal humiliation as well as the humiliation of his countrymen,” she says. Scientists? But that’s only half the story. Russia, through its intervention in the Syrian conflict, has re-established itself as a player in the Middle East. Should people selling T-shirts on the street really earn more than doctors? “And I’m happy that we have a strong president.”
Whetter you   share her enthusiasm, it’s clear that Pogreevenkova and other Russians see   their post-Cold War story as too quickly written. Whatever happens to US-Russian relations going forward, the Kremlin sees Trump as giving Russia the respect it feels it deserves. “I didn’t feel like something out of the ordinary was happening … A time of gangster capitalism? It helps explain Russians’ relative ambivalence to Western sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Career military officers? It gives me the feeling that if they’re still feeling our power,” says Anna Pogreevenkova, a schoolteacher in Moscow. No one enjoys seeing   their currency — and paychecks — shrink by half. But certainly it was a time for personal reinvention. For a new generation of Russians, there comes with it a sense of Russia’s rising influence. Increasingly, Putin’s authoritarian-tinged from of conservatism is challenging Western liberal democracies in Europe. In the post-Soviet space, there was no one singular story. Teenagers could suddenly earn more —   much, much more —   than the parents who raised them. Was it a time of great democratic freedom? “Frankly speaking, I have no memory of that day,”   says Max Krivosheyev, a friend of mine who was a 17-year-old university student in Moscow at the time.   Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Who would? “I think somehow we’re getting to a better position in the world. Talk to anyone from that period, and they will regale   you with stories of shifting professions, multiple political dalliances,   fortunes won and, more often,   lost.

Because while few would deny the symbolic significance of the Soviet hammer and sickle flag for the final time, the moment felt more whimper than bang. Like with a snap of somebody’s fingers. The entire Putin phenomenon,   a demand for revision. for them, it was the best time,”   says Krivosheyev. Reared by years of economic and political turmoil, Russians I know tend to live for the moment, spend money they have — rather save for a rainy day. It was unbelievable.”
But the gains of the Yeltsin 1990s also brought decay. A career KGB agent in the Soviet period, Putin emerged in the 1990s as a trusted aide to St. Teachers? In the new Russia, adaptability reigned. Indeed, harnessing Russian   feelings of humiliation from that period has been one of the driving forces of the Putin years, says Maria Lipman, a Moscow-based journalist and editor of Counterpoint Journal. For all the Western media’s attention on the 25th anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union, most Russians met the occasion with a collective shrug.

Israel advances plans for settlements in the West Bank, despite UN resolution to stop


Amir Cohen/Retuers

New ‘Dreyfus trial’? Jerusalem deputy mayor Meir Turjeman, who also heads the committee, has reportedly also spoken of seeking to advance plans for some 5,600 other units at earlier stages in the process. Israel   later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community. The resolution, which passed after the United States took the rare move of abstaining, infuriated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who lashed out at President Barack Obama and vowed not to abide by it. On Christmas Day it summoned ambassadors of countries that voted for the resolution while Netanyahu met US ambassador Daniel Shapiro on Sunday. And on his Facebook page Turjeman: “I’m not concerned by the UN or anything else trying to dictate our actions in Jerusalem. The UN resolution demands “Israel   immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”
It says settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the basis of years of negotiations. Washington is   Israel’s most important ally and provides it with more than $3 billion per year in defense aid. A general view shows part of the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank on December 24, 2016. It would mark the first such approvals since Friday’s UN Security Council vote demanding a halt to Israeli settlement building in Palestinian territory. Credit:

Amir Cohen/Reuters

Diplomatic reprisals
Israel   has already taken diplomatic steps in response to what it calls the “shameful” resolution, which passed with support from all the remaining members of the 15-strong Security Council. Some 430,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state. On Tuesday he told AFP there were no plans to call off discussions in response to the UN vote. On Tuesday, the foreign ministry said it was “temporarily reducing” visits and work with embassies of nations that voted for it. A building can be seen in the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank, in the background the Palestinian village of Azariya is seen on the edge of Jerusalem on December 24, 2016. “I hope the government and new US administration will give us the momentum to continue and make up for the shortage created over the eight years of the Obama administration,” he said of settlement construction. Israeli hardline Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman dubbed the conference a new “Dreyfus trial” and urged French Jews to move to   Israel Plans by France to hold an international Middle East peace conference on January 15 — opposed by   Israel   which has called for direct talks with the Palestinians — is another point of concern. Officials fear the conference could be lead to further action against   Israel   that would then be taken to the Security Council for approval before Donald Trump takes over as US president on January 20. Settlements are built on land the Palestinians view as part of their future state and seen as illegal under international law. “We’ll discuss everything that’s on the table in a serious manner,” he said. By declining to use its veto, the US enabled the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn   Israel   over its settlement policy. Security Council members such as Russia, China, and Britain are key to Israeli diplomacy or trade and some analysts suggested the measures being taken were more symbolic than substantive. The hundreds of building permits were on the agenda before the resolution was passed. Obama’s administration has been frustrated with settlement building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, which   Israel   occupied in 1967. Palestinian leaders support the conference, saying years of negotiations with the Israelis have not ended the occupation. They are also worried it could encourage some countries to impose sanctions against Israeli settlers and goods produced in the settlements. He said he hopes it “comes out with an international mechanism and a timeline to end [the] Israeli occupation of our country”. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Monday said the UN resolution “paves the way for the success” of the conference. The resolution contains no sanctions but Israeli officials are concerned it could widen the possibility of prosecution at the International Criminal Court. On Wednesday, a Jerusalem planning committee is to discuss issuing building permits for 618 housing units in the mainly Palestinian eastern sector of the city, according to the Ir Amim NGO, which monitors settlement building. Israel   could advance plans this week for thousands of more homes   in settlements in annexed east Jerusalem in defiance of a landmark UN resolution demanding an end to such activity.

Anne Frank’s diary inspired some victims of Guatemala’s civil war to tell their stories

But first he had to persuade the women who were reluctant to break the paradigm of silence. The conflict between rebel groups and state security forces lasted nearly four decades and took an estimated 200,000 lives — the great majority of them indigenous Mayans. One of these women, Margarita Aju Barreno, is now 58 years old. In reality, the soldiers threatened to kill her. Cochoy returned to his community with a university education and a strong desire to tell the world what had happened there during the ’80s. 29, 1996. And I said we can do it for your children and grandchildren.”
The book that came out of their collaboration, “Voices Breaking Through the Silence in Utatlan,” was published by the United Nations Development Program in 2006. But after the signing of the peace accords in 1996, the survivors in her community began to come together for support, forming the Committee of United Victims of Santa Lucía Utatlán. These ills came on top of the economic insecurity that followed after these marginalized, mostly illiterate women were left alone to raise children when their husbands, fathers, brothers, and other loved ones were killed or disappeared. The army was here to kill us, to do us harm. Working at her stand in the market is just one of the many jobs   Barreno has worked since she was left alone to raise four children more than 30 years ago. … And because they were so scared, they were in silence,” says Julio Cochoy, another war victim from Santa Lucía who worked with the women of his community to tell their stories. … My mother got sick and died because of this.”
According to Barreno, after her brother disappeared, her mother stopped eating and eventually suffered a stroke. Cochoy himself was only 14 when five members of his family were killed or disappeared. Julio Cochoy persuaded Doña Margarita Aju Barreno (l) and other   victims of Guatemala’s civil war to collect their stories in a book by telling them about Anne Frank. “They were so scared because when the perpetrators came to kill [or] to kidnap their husbands and family members, it was clear; they say, don’t talk. He hid in his house for a year, terrified he might be next. “And this moment was the moment when I said, yes, I know about Anne Frank because there is a book about her. “Some days I get sad,” she admits. Guatemala’s civil war ended 20 years ago, on Dec. “We’ve   suffered very much,”   she says, “all the more because we had no liberty. Her community was militarized by the army, and her marriage fell apart after her brother was disappeared. “But most times, I think of how Jesus forgave, I think of my children, and I sing a song to the Lord,” she says, and then happily sings a hymn. I didn’t meet her, how [do] I know about her?’ And then one of the ladies said maybe you read it in a book,” Cochoy recalls. As a result of the liberation and healing that came from telling her story, once timid and shy Margarita Aju Barreno is no longer afraid to speak out. She works selling metal pots and pans and traditional Guatemalan textiles called cortes in the market of her community, Santa Lucía Utatlán, a mostly Mayan town located in the hills above Lake Atitlán in the country’s western highlands. Eventually, they also began to talk publicly about what had happened to them and their loved ones. His father finally raised the money to send him to study outside of Santa Lucía. First, though, they had to overcome the fear of reprisals that telling their story might bring. “And then I ask them, ‘Why I know Anne Frank’s story? Because if you do we will kill you, we will come back and kill you. Cochoy remembers the Mayan women being touched when he told them the story of the young Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis. For one thing, they could not read nor write, and struggled to visualize the power of their written testimonies. He finally convinced them by telling them the story of another war victim, Anne Frank. Barreno herself became sick with tension and fear. It was especially hard on Mayan women, who lost loved ones, suffered sexual abuse and other atrocities, and have had to find new ways to survive and move forward in the ensuing years. Today, it’s peaceful in Santa Lucía, but back then Barreno says life here was full of terror and fear for her and the rest of the community, especially the women. Linda Green, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona, has written about women like Barreno in “Fear as a Way of Life:   Mayan Widows in Rural Guatemala.” She says physical and emotional illness was common among these women, from chronic headaches and gastritis, to symptoms of what is commonly known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Credit:

Maria Martin

For years, women in rural Guatemala like Barreno were terrified to speak out. When she went to ask the soldiers what happened to him, her abusive husband accused her of sleeping with them.

Syrian parents in Turkey worry their kids are losing their culture

For Wafaa, who doesn’t speak Turkish, closing down the Syrian schools would mean she’d lose her job. After her release, Wafaa fled to Turkey with her two daughters and enrolled the younger one in a Turkish school. Teachers run around organizing textbooks as parents try to register their children, and kids cling to their mothers not wanting to let go. A second option would be to send all Syrian students entering primary, secondary and high school next year to Turkish schools, so that in a few years Syrian schools would be phased out. Dominique Bonessi’s reporting was supported by the International Center for Journalists. “Syrian Arabic would be just a dialect spoken at home.”
Another Syrian teacher at the temporary education center, Ibrahim Talib, shares those concerns. Only about a third of them are actually going to school. “For this generation if we don’t protect it, the Arabic language could become obsolete,” she says. One would be to have Syrian schools teach a Turkish curriculum. She says she’s been bullied and couldn’t make friends. But it’s the third proposal that has Syrian parents worried — shutting down the temporary Syrian education centers all at once and sending all Syrian kids into Turkish classrooms. But for now, this school is in session, with 600 students registered. This year the Turkish Ministry of Education is considering some proposals aimed at integrating Syrian students into Turkish schools, which is something Wafaa says she welcomes, though she adds that many Syrian parents want their kids to learn in Arabic. Muhammad’s new teacher, Wafaa, hands out textbooks to her students. The first day of school can be exciting and scary at the same time, but at this school for Syrians in Istanbul, there’s a strong sense of scrambling as well. “I love Arabic and math,” he says, “and soccer.”
There are an estimated 934,000 Syrian children living outside of refugee camps in Turkey, displaced by the war back home. “In all seriousness, my friends outside Turkey help me all the time. They send me money.”
She worries she might have to leave the country to find work. The Ministry of Education is weighing three possibilities. Wafaa, who used to teach English and Arabic back home in Damascus, asked that I not use her   last name because her husband and son are still in Syria. They’re scared their kids would lose their language, culture, and Syrian identity if they send them to Turkish schools. Even though Wafaa sent her daughter to a Turkish school, it’s something she’s concerned about too. “Everyone, the schools and the parents, everyone is against this plan,” says Adnan Hassan Khaled, vice principal of the temporary school where Wafaa teaches. “She is in fourth grade,” Wafaa says, “and in a matter of a month and a half, she picked up the [Turkish] language.”
Wafaa says she’s glad her daughter is learning Turkish, but it’s been hard for her at a Turkish school. He too supports learning Turkish, but not at the expense of “erasing the Syrian children’s memory of their home and culture.”
It’s not clear yet how Turkey plans to proceed. She says she was imprisoned for seven months by the Syrian government, accused of being a political activist. “I’m always excited when there is school and I can go,” he says. And for the first time since these education centers opened in 2013, they’re tuition-free. “[Other kids] would say ‘You are Syrian.’ So they made her feel like she wasn’t one of them.”
Wafaa’s older daughter is a senior in a temporary high school with classes taught entirely in Arabic. Muhammad says he’s just happy to be back in class. Her salary at the temporary school barely covers the rent as it is, she says. For 13-year-old Muhammad, who came to Turkey a year and a half ago, this is his first day at school in two years. He says the ministry hasn’t consulted the Syrian parents and educators. The ministry declined a request for comment. Like Muhammad, they’re enrolled in temporary education centers,   run by the Turkish Ministry of Education and funded by UNICEF.

Some advice for starting your own backyard ‘carbon farm’

But as he explains, many of the techniques he’s using to sequester more carbon in his own garden have long been used to make plots of land naturally produce more food. walking around in there because it’s so fascinating,” Toensmeier says. What’s more, many of the species he cultivates have a few jobs in his garden — like the little patch of plants behind his greenhouse, which attract helpful insects. Any of your own composting you can do is going to be excellent; you’re starting to bank some of that carbon in your soil, organic matter. “Everybody likes berries. “My wife’s family has one in Guatemala, and it’s the most unremarkable thing there, but I could go and get a Ph.D. But for home gardeners, carbon farming can be an easy, no-mow solution for backyards and gardens. Altogether, Toensmeier estimates that as many as 80 of his 300 perennial species are woody plants like trees, shrubs   or bamboos. “None of these techniques were developed for the purpose of sequestering carbon,” he says. “They were all designed because they do something important on the farm. “The multistrata agroforestry system with multiple layers of trees and shrubs and vines and herbs is the very best system for sequestering carbon that we have, agriculturally.”
In Toensmeier’s garden, perennial plants grow above, around   and underneath other crops, even in the shade. That’s due in part to farming practices, not just climate. In the back garden, about 300 species of perennials are thriving on just one-tenth of an acre: Raspberries, mountain mint, bamboo   and bush clover all jostle for space alongside persimmon, chestnut   and mulberry trees. He adds that the beans were first cultivated long ago by indigenous Americans, and the false indigo can be used for pesticide, fodder   and indigo dye. And that’s where I would have people start.”
This article is based on an   interview   that aired on PRI’s   Living on Earth   with Steve Curwood. Incorporating trees in the right way, and in the right context, can increase the productivity of the farm quite a bit.”
“Studies in France have found, for example, that when you combine annual grain crops with timber trees and you have the spacing right, on 100 acres you could produce the same amount of grain and timber that would take 130 to 140 acres to produce if they were grown on their own.”
Carbon-sequestering gardens are most effective in humid, tropical climates such as in India, Latin America, the Caribbean   and parts of Africa. Some types of grasses can yield a leaf protein concentrate that’s as much as 50 percent protein on a dry-weight basis. For anyone looking to sequester more carbon at home through smart gardening, Toensmeier has some advice:
“Anything you can do to reduce tillage, to have a no-till system, a heavy mulch system, is going to be excellent.  
“These are mountain mint, which is a native one, and there’s a large, nitrogen-fixing shrub, false indigo, which is being used as a trellis for perennial, edible beans,” Toensmeier says. They’re really good for you. Listen to the full interview. “The productivity on a per-acre basis of protein with leaf protein concentrate is about 30 times more than beef.”
Toensmeier is quick to admit that carbon agriculture won’t solve all of our climate-change problems. For visitors to Eric Toensmeier’s home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the lush, 8-foot banana plant in the front yard is the first indication that something is unusual about his landscaping.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview.

A walk around his stucco-covered house confirms it. But he says that protein-rich, edible grasses like bush clover — which grow up to 10 feet tall in his garden — are the real carbon-sequestering food of the future. As scientists and policy experts rush to develop ways to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, Toensmeier estimates that the carbon sequestration in his garden roughly offsets the emissions of one American adult each year. “There’s a limit to how much carbon you can store in soil and biomass, and experts estimate that that’s somewhere around 200 billion tons globally,” he says. “In these multistrata systems, these food forest systems, we try and take advantage of all the space,” he says. “I feel like the gateway drug to perennialization is berries,” he says. About 80 of the species he cultivates have edible leaves, and around 50 have edible fruit. And the more you can perennialize, the better.”
And according to Toensmeier, the easiest perennials to start with are ones we already know and love to eat. Toensmeier’s garden is an exercise in what is known as “carbon farming,” or the use of agriculture to remove excess carbon from the air and soil; storing it instead in trees and plants. Berries are delicious. “So, certainly the scale at which we’re doing this is not the scale which is necessary to fully address the problem,” he says, “but it’s sort of a research and development project, and it’s certainly doing more than mowing a lawn. So, increasing organic matter in the soil is already a good idea on the farm. It’s a step in the right direction.”
In his new book, “The Carbon Farming Solution,” Toensmeier explores in detail the potential for using perennial crops and agroforestry to trap carbon from the atmosphere. “So, by switching to these giant grasses you can produce protein and energy on the same land while sequestering carbon in the soil,” he says. Most of them are pretty easy to grow, and in this climate we have some good options for at least partial shade and a few for full shade.

Halfway through med school, undocumented students worry Trump will derail their progress

Mark Kuczewski, says they are committed to keeping them in the program because they bring unique skill sets and many languages. “Without DACA, I would have to withdraw from school and the almost two years investment in my education would have gone to waste and my debt will not be forgiven.”
However, Brubaker says their medical school is looking into ways for DACA students to continue their education, even if the program is revoked. “We are planning for the possibility of having to move from a loan model to a pure scholarship model to accommodate students,” says Brubaker. If this type of legislation isn’t passed and DACA is revoked, it will put Ramos and Gomez in a financial bind, because the cost of medical school is about $30,000 per semester at Loyola’s medical school. “When I was 12 years old, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was a very traumatic thing because it was the first major health issue in our family,” says Ramos. “My thought to that is, well, bless you. DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is President Barack Obama’s executive action which gives some immigrants brought here as children work authorization and   temporary relief from deportation. The program Gomez is in requires him to practice primary care medicine in an underserved area of Illinois after he graduates and completes his residency training. He says a presidential executive action like DACA is usually pretty simple to overturn. “Something I wish that doesn’t happen is one day I’m sitting in lecture in medical school, trying to become a competent physician, and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] walks in to apprehend me and take me away.”
In the meantime, Ramos is waiting to hear back from Loyola’s Medical School. “It’s no different than it would be for a boss to send a memo via email to its employees that says, ‘You were suppose to do things this way, now you have to do things this way,’” says Olney. “That variety of experience and breadth of abilities enables them to treat patients that are tremendously underserved in our country,” says Kuczewski. Their dreams and Ramos’ may be put on hold, though, because President-elect Donald Trump opposes the DACA program. “I remember the special interaction that the physician had with my mother, and I want to have that role in my community. “I still needed a competitive MCAT, I still needed competitive scores in grad school and undergrad, I still needed to do community service, I still needed to do every single thing that an applicant needs to do,” says Gomez. He was in 10th grade when he had to fill out an application to go on a field trip that required him to include his social security number. “Because we’ve had the DACA students here, other students have learned more about other cultures, they’ve learned more about our immigration system, they’ve learned more about the types of stresses that are on their patients who are recent immigrants.”
David Gomez, 29, is in his second year of medical school at Loyola and is concerned about his future because he too is undocumented. “I do not have family members with money I could borrow money from and I have nothing to sell,” says Gomez. That experience motivated him to work even harder in school. “It does not help the American people because we won’t have those 65 physicians out in the field to serve a variety of communities that need those physicians.”

The Stritch School at Loyola University in Chicago currently has 28 undocumented medical students, who are able to attend because of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The school, says Kuczewski, is proceeding with their normal admissions process regardless of what Trump does with the DACA program. Gomez says people sometimes think he’s taking a coveted spot in medical school that should go students who aren’t undocumented. Republican Sen. The Association of American Medical Colleges says that, if things continue as they are, we could could have a shortage of almost 95,000 physicians by 2025. He should learn sometime in the spring if he has been accepted. They helped their parents mow lawns and clean houses to earn money. You’ve been so blessed to not experience the things I’ve been through to get to the same point. “The government knows where I live, the government knows where I go to school, the government knows what I drive and the government knows what I look like,” says Gomez. But it was another life experience, that helped shape his future. “We knew we didn’t want to be mowing lawns forever,” says Gomez. But he quickly realized education was a way out of poverty. Linda Brubaker, dean of the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola, estimates that there are 65 DACA medical students   currently enrolled in medical schools across the nation. Gomez is not his real name; he asked us to use this pseudonym to protect his undocumented family members. “There’s absolutely no benefit to anyone to not let these current 65 students finish their education and serve as physicians,” she says. It’s one of the few medical schools in the nation that allows undocumented students who have received DACA to attend. The only thing that can be done to protect the program during Trump’s administration is to convince Congress to pass a law. That’s one of the reasons why Brubaker has been an advocate for the undocumented medical students who may not be able to finish their medical education. “I went back and asked my mom what’s my social security number and that kind of began the whole discussion of, ‘We don’t have one,’” says Ramos. While undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid, the Stritch School of Medicine has some programs in place with the state of Illinois to help provide loans to DACA students. However, make your own story, follow your own passion,” says Gomez. I want to help people and educate them about their health, so they can live to be prosperous and live to be with their families.”
Ramos is now a middle school biology teacher in south Texas, but he recently applied to the medical school at Loyola University in Chicago. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, is proposing legislation that combines relief for people brought to the US as children with tougher language on undocumented people who have committed serious crimes. As president, he will have the authority to end it. Lindsey Graham has drafted bipartisan legislation that would help keep deportation relief for people like Ramos and Martinez in place once Trump takes office. “If you’re blessed and you call yourself an average midwest white boy, use that to help others.”
As the new year approaches, Gomez says one of his biggest concerns is being specifically targeted in the Trump administration. Credit:

Courtesy of Loyola University

The Stritch School currently has 642 medical students, 28 of whom are undocumented and have work authorization through DACA. “Right now, the process of finding private lenders who might be interested in and willing to providing resources to these students is frozen,” he says. “It will be very difficult for an incoming class to have the same resources available that we’ve been able to find for the prior classes we’ve admitted.”
The struggle is not just about money though. Gomez says growing up in the US, he and his five siblings were taught the value of hard work. The chairman of the department of medical education, Dr. It’s not easy, though, says department chair Kuczewski. Sen. He came to the US from Mexico at a young age with his parents, who overstayed their tourist visa and, like Ramos’ family, settled on the border in the Rio Grande Valley. Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, 24-year-old Julio Cesar Ramos didn’t know he was undocumented. “I was able to do all of that as an undocumented student and being a DACA student comes with a lot of hardships.”
Gomez says he recently had a conversation with a classmate who said he felt like an average midwestern white male can no longer be competitive. “We really liked school, so we worked really hard to ensure we would be accepted into university and be able to finance it without having to ask my parents for a penny.”
Charles Olney, assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, teaches constitutional law.

The next generation takes a dance from Hawaiian history into the future

She calls him “kumu hulu,” which means source or teacher. Constance Hale’s new book draws from his work. And in most of those incidents they broke into a chant and danced hulas.”
Hula, it turns out, can be many things. “There’s fabulous music and dancing in every one of the Pacific cultures,” Hale says, “but the Hawaiians lived almost for a millennia more or less isolated in Hawaii.”
Hula, she says, is a dance of memory. “One even called it a ‘Devil’s Nest,'” Hale explains. “They’re asking a different question, which isn’t how do I save my culture, but rather how do I make sure my culture doesn’t become fossilized? “Many consider the mountain sacred land. “Hawaiians are being emboldened to make stronger political statements, and hula is certainly a part of that movement,” says Hale. But they were never able to fully ban it — it’s just that connected to Hawaiian identity, she says. They marched up to the top of the volcano,” says Hale. So far, they have won the battle. Hula is related to other Polynesian dance forms, but it is distinctly Hawaiian, and that gives it a unique insight into that past, present and future of the islands. But journalist Constance Hale wanted to look forward, and hula offered her a way to do that. Makuakāne choreographs traditional Hawaiian movements to nontraditional music, like electronica or pop. Creative people in Hawaii, she says, are finding ways to do something new with a very old art. Many journalists have told the story of the Hawaiian renaissance and of the political uprising involved with the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. And there are composers who are creating all new songs for the hula. Hale derives the inspiration and much of the substance of her new book, The Natives are Restless,   from Makuakāne. “Any time you have Hawaiians getting together and making music, there’s probably going to be some dancing as well.”   Makuakāne, she says, uses that dance “to tell cultural stories epic stories, mythological stories and very explicitly political stories.” “They interrupted the groundbreaking ceremony. She compares his influence in hula to famed choreographer Alvin Ailey’s influence on ballet and modern dance. Patrick Makuakāne is to hula what Alvin Ailey was to ballet. Credit:

Courtesy of   Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu

Dance master Patrick Makuakāne is Hale’s source, both literally as a journalist and figuritively as a hula disciple. When Christian missionaries landed in Hawaii, they deemed the ancient dance, performed by both men and women, scandalous. “It’s a series of movements — a movement vocabulary that is has its origins in Hawaii,” says Hale, who grew up on the islands. Native Hawaiians really mobilized in ways that I haven’t seen, and I’ve been covering Hawaiian culture and politics for the past 25 years. Last year, Hawaiians climbed 13,000 feet to brave the ice and snow atop Mauna Kea to dance hula in protest of a massive telescope being built. What does that mean for me to be a Hawaiian in the 21st century?”   Hale said. She has been dancing hula since she was 7.

Israel is still smarting over the UN resolution condemning its settlements

“Whether there’s going to be a solution, I don’t know about that. It’s hard to say how far this will go or how long it will last, but this is a very, very sensitive issue. He called the UN vote a “shameful ambush” by the Obama administration, and he said he is looking forward to working with his “friend,” President-elect Donald Trump. It’s about one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this issue of settlements. “[Netanyahu is]   looking at ways to punish some of the countries, perhaps by cutting off trade or other types of relations. And that’s been US policy as well. The US abstained from the vote but refused to veto the measure as the US delegation had done many times before. For instance, Friedman has said he wants to move the Embassy of the United States from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — which Trump has also said he wants to do. “That will send a signal that we are serious about a two-state solution, since we don’t know if Netanyahu really is.”
Many Middle East observers believe, in the long term, there has to be a Palestinian state —   they can’t live under occupation forever. They felt like, if they were to veto it, that the settlement activity would keep going on, and it would really put the whole idea of a two-state solution at risk.”
The US move can be viewed in another light as well:   It reflects the poor state of relations between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama. “Perhaps this was just the situation where Obama thought, ‘You know what, sometimes you have to tell your friends what they’re doing is not good for them’ — and that’s his point of view — and so he decided this time let’s just abstain and let this resolution go through,” Toosi says. “The fact that there has been so much more settlement actually in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem, which is disputed territory under international law, is one of the reasons the US said that they decided to abstain on this vote. “That would infuriate a lot of people, especially in the Arab world, because they view Jerusalem as a contested city,” Toosi says. Friedman is an orthodox Jewish attorney who has a long history of supporting settlements and other policies that many on the Jewish left would disagree with, says Toosi. Trump was also critical of   the UN   vote. But it does actually remind people that, hey, this crisis is still out there.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response? That trend, says Toosi, may have pushed Washington to take a stand. behind resolution against Israeli settlements
— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) December 23, 2016
In recent years, a number of Middle East issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and the war in Syria, have pushed the quest for an Israeli-Palestinian   peace deal to the back burner. Israel’s settlements in territory that would eventually make up an independent Palestinian state has long been controversial — and it was formally criticized at the UN just last week. “Perhaps this is going to make things harder, true, but it actually brings attention back to the Isreali-Palestinian issue,” Toosi says. But Trump has chosen   David Friedman,   a man who is on record saying he doesn’t want to recognize the rights of Palestinians,   as his next ambassador to Israel. So this is something that he is not going to let go of for quite a while.”
The construction of settlements has been up dramatically since 2011, the last time the US vetoed a resolution on Israeli expansion at the UN Security Council. “I think he was very clear that he was very angry about this,” says Nahal Toosi, a foreign affairs correspondent at POLITICO. He wrote on Twitter that it   “will make it much harder to negotiate peace,” adding, “we will get it done anyway.”
Back in Israel, Netanyahu reportedly summoned the ambassadors of the countries currently on the UN Security Council to denounce them for supporting the resolution. Obama official denies U.S.

Iranian currency has plunged to new lows in the wake of the US election

“The big international banks still refuse to work with   Iran, which is preventing the repatriation of petrol money,” said the broker. Iran’s central bank appears to have slowed its interventions without explanation. That would reverse one of the few successes of President Hassan Rouhani’s government, whose efforts to rebuild trade ties and improve economic management has seen inflation fall from more than 40 percent to 8.6 percent since he was elected in 2013. The banks are reluctant to engage with   Iran’s opaque economy, and fear they could fall foul of remaining US sanctions that were not affected by the nuclear deal. Iran’s   currency   plumbed new lows against the dollar on Sunday, continuing a six-month decline that has seen the rial lose some 19 percent of its value despite the lifting of sanctions. The tightening of global sanctions in 2012 had a devastating impact on the rial —   which fell to 35,000 to the dollar from around 10,000 just two years earlier. The decline has quickened since the US election of Donald Trump, who has threatened to tear up the nuclear deal with world powers that removed many global sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s atomic program. “Before, the central bank was injecting dollars into the market to maintain the level of the rial, but it has greatly reduced its injections in recent weeks,” said a currency   broker in Tehran, who asked not to be named. The worry now is the return of high inflation as importers are forced to pay more for consumer goods and industrial parts. The rial was trading at 41,300 to the dollar, down from 34,600 in June — widening the gap with the official government rate which remains fixed at 32,300. Experts say much of the current problem lies with the refusal of global banks to return to   Iran   despite the end of sanctions —   making it difficult to secure trade and investment deals.

Tributes to George Michael: ‘We grew up with you and you spoke for us’

That was also year the American sitcom Will & Grace went on the air, which featured a gay lead character. Police said they would be conducting a post-mortem examination and were treating the death as “unexplained but not suspicious.”
His manager Michael Lippman told Billboard magazine   that the cause of the star’s death was heart failure. He was a great talent, person and community member,” read another note stuck to a yellow bucket containing a plant of small pink roses. “Everybody who’s been important to me has been ripped away this year — David Bowie, Victoria Wood,” Walkden added, referring to the late rock legend   and a much-loved British comedian who both died in 2016. With their good looks, perma-tans, highlighted hair and hedonistic image, the duo captured the go-getting spirit of the age and fast became one of Britain’s biggest pop acts. Lippman said he was told that Michael was found “in bed, lying peacefully.”
Michael was due to release a documentary about his life and a new album in 2017. Mags Sorrell, 60, said she had seen Michael in concert around a dozen times. “On the stage, he looked at his happiest,” she said. Peter Tatchell is a British human rights campaigner who has fought for LGBT rights. though I understand entirely the reasons why he didn’t.”
Tatchell said   that Michael was very active in helping with AIDS organizations later in his life. Credit:

Dylan Martinez/Reuters File Photo

Leandros Kalisperas, 39, who said that he like Michael was of a Greek Cypriot background from north London, brought flowers, a candle and a note. At the time, he told CNN, “I spent the first half of my career being accused of being gay… “Shocked and sad… “I was very surprised and pleased when about three years later he had a big hit as part of Wham!”
Following years of speculation over his sexuality, Michael came out as gay in his mid-30s, in 1998, after being arrested for committing a lewd act in the public toilet of a Los Angeles park. British pop star George Michael performs during a concert at Wembley Stadium in London June 9, 2007. “He died so young!” said Karen Walkden, 52, who brought a message to the large red-brick mansion in Highgate in north London. “For me there was no one else that can take us to that high, joyous place.”
Big names in entertainment like Elton John and Madonna hailed Michael’s talent and human qualities, while former Wham! became the first Western pop band to perform in China as the country was slowly beginning to open up to the outside world. bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said he was “heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend.”
Michael was best known for 1980s and 1990s hits like “Freedom,” “Careless Whisper,” “Faith,” “I Want Your Sex” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.”
He won a string of awards including two Grammys and three Brits, but run-ins with the law over drugs and a series of bizarre incidents and health scares in his final years often overshadowed his music. Fans placed bouquets of flowers, single roses and emotional messages outside the house, as well as on the pavement in front of his luxurious London home. We were in the midst of the AIDS crisis and stigma was high for gay people. so I spent my years growing up being told what my sexuality was, really. When Michael came out, it was still rare though for celebrities to be open about their sexuality. In 1985, Wham! “He turned his arrest into something positive. “It was my generation, it’s absolutely shocking,” said Walkden, who came from nearby Finchley to the posh neighborhood adjoining Hampstead Heath. “He shaped my life,” he said, wiping away a tear. With additional reporting by Nina Porzucki. “But of course, many of us wish that he had come out way back in the 1980s when it was really needed… He used it as a peg to come out and do so in a very defiant way,” said   Tatchell. Tributes came from around the music world and tearful fans on Monday after British pop superstar George Michael, who rose to fame with a string of smash hits including “Last Christmas,” died aged 53. “He was a star with a social conscience,” he says. “I remember him saying to me at the time that he was going to be a pop star. “It was a chance meeting in a small, gay disco in the suburbs of north London,” he said. He didn’t say, ‘I want to be a pop star.’ He said, ‘I’m going to be a pop star,'” Tatchell said. Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou to a Greek Cypriot father and English mother in north London in 1963. We grew up with you and you spoke for us,” read one note outside the Highgate house. Also: Prince and David Bowie helped me find my place in America
“You have been loved, you were loved, you will be loved. Then by the time I kind of worked out what it was, and I stopped having relationships with women, I was just so indignant at the way I had been treated until then.”
He came out as gay for the first time on that program. in 1981. He met the singer in about 1980 when Michael was a teenager. US funk star Prince   and soulful Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen   also passed away this year. Then, Michael was already a great dancer and singer. He met Ridgeley at high school and the pair went on to form Wham! His last album “Symphonica” (2014) rose to number one in the charts. Michael died of apparent heart failure on Christmas Day at his home in Goring, a village on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, west of London, after an award-winning career spanning more than three decades.

A fake Israeli news story prompts a real threat of nuclear attack in Pakistan

Khawaja Asif was responding to an invented story published on the website AWDNews and headlined: “Israeli Defense Minister: If Pakistan send ground troops into Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack.”
“Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh (Islamic State).Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too” the Pakistani minister tweeted Friday. Mainly Muslim Pakistan has no diplomatic ties with Israel. Asif was widely mocked for his blunder. Pakistan’s defense minister has threatened to retaliate in kind to any Israeli nuclear strike after apparently being tricked by a fake news site into a confrontation on social media. Pakistan, which conducted its first nuclear test in 1998, is believed by analysts to have around 120 nuclear weapons and the fastest growing stockpile. His missive prompted a clarification from Israel’s Ministry of Defense, which responded to him on Saturday:
“@KhawajaMAsif The statement attributed to fmr Def Min Yaalon re Pakistan was never said,” adding: “KhawajaMAsif reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false”. “Our nuclear program is too serious a business to be left to Twitter-addicted politicians,”   said prominent TV journalist Nusrat Javeed. Earlier this month, a rifle-wielding man entered a pizza restaurant in Washington, saying he wanted to investigate a fake news story that the establishment was a center for child abduction linked to failed US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Last week, Google said it was working to refine its algorithm to weed out “non-authoritative” information after a British news report showed a Holocaust denial website was the top result when users asked “Did the Holocaust happen?” Israel has a policy of ambiguity in relation to its nuclear arsenal, neither confirming nor denying its existence, but is widely believed to be an atomic power. There is a rising tide of fake articles being widely shared on social media.

The hidden costs of prescription drug coupons

Insurance companies can ask pharmaceutical companies for the best possible price on a drug, and offer to pair it with a low copayment in return — incentivizing consumers to choose that drug over other similar options. “It might make a drug more affordable that would have been out of reach before.”
But coupons hijack a part of our health care system — copayments — that insurance companies use to balance out drug costs. Neither does the entire state of Massachusetts. Listen to the full interview. And the insurance companies will have to pay a high price for both of them.”
Some insurance companies and local governments are responding to the threat of higher premiums by banning the use of drug coupons. According to Margot Sanger-Katz, a health care correspondent for The New York Times, that’s because, despite initial savings, the coupons come with hidden costs — and may even make our drugs more expensive in the long run. You may have noticed that some   drug companies offer coupons to consumers — which slash copayments for brand-name medications.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. Sanger-Katz says that Medicare does not allow coupons to be used. “If you’re an individual person and you’re buying a drug, especially one that your insurance company wants to charge you a high copayment for, [a coupon] can really affect the price of the drug,” Sanger-Katz says. “So for you, you’re thinking about the difference between $5 and $50, but your insurance company may be thinking about the difference between a $20 total price and a $300 total price.”
“But the other bad thing is it really can mess up these negotiations between the drug companies and the insurance companies, because if the insurance company can’t effectively steer its patients to the discounted product — if you don’t care between these two brand names because of a coupon — then maybe both of those drugs will get no discount. In this case, Sanger-Katz says, “the copayment becomes an inducement for the drug company to offer a discount to the insurance company.”
But when drug coupons enter the mix — straight from pharmaceutical companies to consumers — insurance companies lose their copayment bargaining chips. Sanger-Katz explains that’s because insurance companies use copays as “signaling mechanisms” to steer customers towards generic drugs whenever possible. As in: “If you take this generic drug, it’s going to cost you $5. So you may be much more likely to buy the expensive drug.”
Choosing the drug with the higher base cost or the brand name may make us feel like we’re getting a good deal, but Sanger-Katz says it can actually drive up our insurance premiums over time. “Researchers recently did a study where they compared people in Massachusetts to people in New Hampshire, and New Hampshire has no ban,” she says. “If you are a person who needs a particular drug — let’s say it’s a drug where there’s a generic version — and you could get a coupon for the brand name, and you go to the drugstore, and it’s $5 either way, you don’t really have a preference anymore,” Sanger-Katz says, “and your insurance company can’t steer you towards the cheaper thing. If you want to use the brand-name version, you might have to pay $50.”
She says that copayments also play a role in the negotiations between our insurance companies and drug providers. But they frustrate insurance companies and are even banned   in some states.

The coupons are good news for people who face expensive copayments at the counter. “Many of these drugs may cost your insurance company hundreds or thousands of dollars,” she says. “And they looked at just drugs where there is a generic equivalent.”
“And what they found is that people in Massachusetts, where there was a ban, many more of them chose the generic drug, and that the savings were actually quite substantial.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s   Science Friday.

Indian tycoon gives fatherless brides a mass wedding

Mahesh Savani performed the Hindu wedding ritual of ‘Kanyadaan’ —   the practice of giving away one’s daughter in marriage — for 236 fatherless brides from poor families at a mega-wedding event in the western state of Gujarat at Christmas. Hundreds of brides in colorful ethnic attire and ornate jewellery performed their wedding rituals in front of thousands of guests in the city of Surat, a hub for the diamond polishing industry. “This year my two sons also got married during the mass wedding event. It is not known how much the giant ceremony cost. So, in all there were 238 marriages,” said Savani. Indian weddings are famous for their lavish scale with multi-course feasts, decorated horses, brass bands and huge tents to entertain hundreds or even thousands of guests. An Indian diamond trader has thrown a mass wedding for more than 200 fatherless brides and given each of them gifts worth thousands of dollars, to help poor women start a new life. Savani said he began his charitable campaign in 2008 when one of his own employees died just days before his daughter’s wedding. “With Sunday’s mass wedding, I have become (a) proud father to have performed ‘kanyadaan’ of over 700 girls,” he told AFP. The tycoon also gave gifts of gold and household items, including sofas and beds, worth 500,000 rupees ($7,400) to each of the brides to help them start married life.  
Two of the grooms at the mass wedding were his own sons. Savani, who believes that giving away brides is a blessing from God, has been organizing similar mass weddings every year since 2012.