June 26, 2019  

Two new flags will be flying high at the Olympic Games in Rio.

For the first time, South Sudan and Kosovo have been recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Kosovo, which was a province of the former Yugoslavia, will have 8 athletes competing; and a good shot for a medal in women's judo: Majlinda Kelmendi is considered a favorite. She's ranked first in the world in her weight class.

(South Sudan's James Chiengjiek, Yiech Biel & coach Joe Domongole, © AFP) South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, will have three runners competing in the country's first Olympic Games.

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus


(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)



Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler



CARTOON: Peter Broelman, Australia/BROELMAN.com.au)


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Entries in Kashmir (3)


Kashmir: The importance of reviving theatre as a medium of protest, debate and argument that questions a society (Report)

by Afsana Rashid Bhat

Bhand Kashmiri Folk Theatre performance CREDIT: FLICKRConflict in the Kashmir valley has badly hit the theatre movement, here. Theatre experts, however, believe that it offers enough space for theatre to debate and discuss.

Theatre director Bhawani Bashir Yasir says “efforts are on to revive the theatre movement in Kashmir, which took a back seat in valley after 1989 when armed struggle began here”. He hopes for better, prosperous and rich theatre, here.

“Ongoing conflict offers a lot to write, debate and perform in order to make masses think on various lines that can be more effective through theatre, provided the state seriously extends its full financial and moral support to genuine people engaged in the field,” says Bhawani, who is also director of Ensemble Kashmir Theatre Akademi (EKTA), School of Drama and Repertory.

He adds theatre in Kashmir has lost its proper audience over the last two decades. “Without material support from audience, our theatre can’t prosper”. Bhawani, who has been in the field for last 35 years, says “unless theatre doesn’t identify itself with contemporary challenges, aspirations and public sentiments, it becomes irrelevant”.

According to the theatre director, theatre is not “tamasha” (entertainment) but it is a medium of mild glorified protest, debate, argument that questions the society to find answers for good.

Rejecting that television and films pose serious threat to theatre, Bhawani who has been awarded senior fellowship by Ministry of Culture, Government of India for the year 2006-2008 says “theatre is art of multi angles where as film and television is an art of one eye. Art of one eye can’t subjugate art of multi angles”.

He adds “the hard fact lies in the reason that there is no financial allurement in theatre while as in television and films artists get money, name and fame, which lures them. Notwithstanding the fact, theatre is a learning institution and without theatre experience an artist can’t grow in television or films”.

Abdul Latief, a theatre artist argues that theatre in Kashmir is as old as written history in Kashmir and it has three essential elements - performer, audience and stage. Tracing brief history of theatre in Kashmir, he says, “Kashmir has been a hub of turmoil and turbulences since ages. When foreign cultural influence intruded Kashmir, theatre automatically underwent certain changes. However, for last 100 years theatre in Kashmir has tried to re-emerge”.

He said that Kashmir theatre history reached us through folk performers who under all circumstances managed to preserve and perform it. “We’ve rich traditional folk form of theatre known as ‘pather’ performed by bhands (folk artists). We’ve references of so many scholars of theatre in Kashmir history vis-a-vis Khamandar, Abenau Goupt, Kalidasa”.

Contemporary theatre, he says, is hardly 75 years old. According to him, there were some theatre activities in Kashmir in the 1920’s from the religious elite class (known as dharmic theatre) and the same was performed in temple premises of Srinagar up to 1940’s.

The theatre director while chipping in says, “When new progressive literary movement emerged, it had great impact on Kashmir. Many renowned theatre activists and literary scholars visited Kashmir like Balraj Sahani, Habib Tanvir. In the meantime, IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association) movement started in India, which had great impact on contemporary theatre in Kashmir. After this movement, theatre in Kashmir took flight in real sense when most of the activists performed new concepts on stage like Prof. Mohi-ud-Din Hajni’s play “Ghrees Sound Ghare” (1938) Prem Nath Pardasi’s “Bat-i-har” (1942). Formation of National Dramatic Club (1944) which later became Kashmir Kela Kendra in 1950’s was first theatre group to be registered. Then the National Cultural Front produced “Shaheed Shirwani”, “Kashmir yeh hai” in 1948 and “Kashmir hamara hai”.”

Bhawani says that 1980-1990 was the golden period of contemporary Kashmiri theatre. “In every nook and corner of Kashmir, there was a concerted theatre movement patronized by Jammu and Kashmir State Cultural Academy as district drama festivals were organized. A galaxy of playwrights, directors and actors earned popularity in theatre here during this decade. After 1990’s due to the conflict, Kashmir theatre movement went into comma. After 2002, our concerted efforts are to rejuvenate it”.

Theatre Director Bhawani Bashir YasirBhawani maintains that in 2002 drama festival was held at Tagore Hall by Jammu and Kashmir Academy in which only six productions were presented and those too were repeat productions of 1980’s. “Absence of separate ministry for culture in the state, lack of rehearsal space for artists, negligible funding, lack of professionalism, institutions and public support are confronting theatre activists in Kashmir working for its revival”, he says, adding “Theatre, in Kashmir, lacks public recognition, which renders it handicap and acts as a major impediment in its struggle to survive”

Stressing importance of media the theatre director believes that it can play a positive role in promoting theatre-culture among masses. “Print media hasn’t yet grown enough to give full coverage to theatre of Kashmir or to help it gain popular acceptance. The people lack required sensibility to acknowledge theatre”. Kashmir theatre, according to Bhawani, hasn’t yet been able to get sponsorships whereas in Jammu division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and other states private as well as public sector sponsors theatre to help its professional growth.

Theatre is a social institution, believes Bhawani adding people consider it only as a source of entertainment but it is a complete social science. “A nation without a living theatre is dead”.

- Afsana Rashid Bhat is a journalist based in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir-India. Author of the book, “Waiting for justice: Widows and Half-widows”She is a recipient of the Sanjoy Ghose Humanitarian Award, Sanjoy Ghose Media fellowship (2006-07) by Charkha Communications Development Network - New Delhi, UN Population Fund-Laadli Media Award and Grass-root Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) – Media Awards-2007. She was also awarded a fellowship in 2005 for her work on impact of conflict on the subsistence livelihoods of marginalized communities in Kashmir by Action Aid India.


Kashmir: A look at the affects of conflict on women (Report) 

by Afsana Rashid Bhat

(HN, December 30, 2010) Facing the brunt of a two-decade-long armed conflict, most women in Kashmir are caught between the devil and the deep sea. Their roles are shifting abruptly from a home maker to a breadwinner and has rendered them physically crippled, emotionally bruised and economically disturbed.

Kashmir being a major stumbling block in relations between India and Pakistan has so far involved two declared and two undeclared wars. When armed conflict started here in 1989, many people began disappearing on both sides.Kashmir region - showing disputed territories

Some victims were arrested by Indian armed forces and police for alleged involvement in militant activities. The families of those arrested believe that the victims are often killed after being tortured in custody, but many still hold onto the hope that they will see their dear ones again. There is no report that can prove that any missing persons taken by the government have ever returned.

Some people have been subjected to disappearance by militants on the pretext that the victims were working as informers for Indian forces. Families are generally reluctant to identify kidnappers, preferring to say that their loved ones had disappeared by “unidentified gunmen.” They don’t disclose who was responsible, whether Indian forces (the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force) or militant groups, for fear of retaliation against them or their families.

Women face most of the brunt of the entire situation. They are the worst sufferers on various counts.

Psychologically, they’ve been traumatized by the death of few women who were expecting babies due to the lack of ante-natal care in initial years of the militancy, as reported by Dr. Abdul Rashid Malik, former Deputy Director Health Services-Kashmir, and this fact sends shivers down the spine.

“In the early 1990’s, a few deaths of expectant mothers were reported for want of ante-natal check-up as they couldn’t make it to the hospital due to cross-firing and search operations.  The situation became grim particularly during Jag Mohan’s state governor’s reign. George Fernandes, the then Kashmir affairs in-charge Government of India, was apprised of the same information by senior health officers”, says Dr.Malik.

The former Deputy Director says that people, especially women, were on the look out for psychiatrists. “Since psychiatrists were not available in requisite numbers, they had to look for alternatives that lead to suicidal tendencies among them. Young widows and half-widows who, had to feed their children single-handedly faced the worst of it”.

Most of the women who have been directly affected by conflict, says Dr. Hameedullah, Shah, renowned psychiatrist suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which often leads to depression.

“Emotionally women are more susceptible. This keeps them under stress. Most of the time women have been apprehensive about safety of their male members,” says Dr. Shah adding “anxiety, body ache and pain, as well as an irritable attitude has been commonly observed among women, over here for these years”.A Kashmiri woman paddles along Dal lake in Srinagar, photo courtesy of globeandmail

Isolation and other social problems, says Dr. Shah have been witnessed in particular among women confined within the four walls of their homes as their interaction gets affected. He said that no specific data is available to quantify their health problems.

Referring to the attitude of society towards the plight of widows and half-widows, renowned religious scholar Kaleemullah Khan says, “Ignorance, selfishness, cruelty and inhuman attitude is at its climax”.

“The Quran is categoric about widows. If she does not have kids then she inherits one-fourth of the property left by the deceased and if she has children she inherits one-eighth,” says Khan, adding “though no authentic verse deals exclusively with it, a decree based on consensus can be issued by ‘ulemas’ and ‘molvees’ (scholars and clerics), with the consideration of the intensity and immediacy of the problem and its ramifications”.

“Rehabilitating orphan (special children) is one of the basic teachings of Islam, discussed  at least three dozen times in the Quran. More so when an orphan is nearest of kin, responsibility doubles”, he adds. To make such women economically self reliant, Khan suggests certain collective measures like providing them suitable professions (crèche, orphanages, home-based-industry) and encouraging their re-marry.

Dr. Khurshid-ul-Islam, a well-known sociologist, says that her attachment to her first husband and children stops her remarrying. “Facts are facts, it is children who become the motivating force for her not to re-marry - otherwise it is permitted under Islam”.

“Being more sensitive and fragile to issues, she can’t face the situation and while facing the brunt of it she gets labeled, exploited and becomes the talk of the town. Automatically, she gets distressed,” says the sociologist adding, “She is already at the back of the bench when something happens here.”

According to Dr. Khurshid, she becomes the ‘forced’ bread winner or crusader in a society like Kashmir and a forced decision-maker, wherein she normally fails. On the economic aspect he says, “The majority of them voluntarily work in fields but now it’s a forced role”, adding, “I won’t call it economic empowerment. Her heart isn’t with it”.

Psychologically, as well women have suffered immensely over the past two decades. Mental health of women has deteriorated the most, particularly direct sufferers of conflict.

According to doctors at the Government Psychiatry Diseases Hospital, women constitute 62 percent of patients visiting it, says a report published by Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (J&KCCS), a human rights group. Hundreds of women, it says, have no idea of medical counseling and continue to suffer.

According to studies, most Kashmiris suffer from PTSD and are in need of treatment.  As against 1,762 patients registered during 1990, number of patients who visited hospital in 2000 went up to 38,696 and nearly 48,000 in 2002, says the report, adding “before eruption of conflict in Kashmir in 1989 hardly any case of PTSD was reported”.

According to Medecins Sans Frontiers, MSF (Doctors Without Borders), a private international medical and humanitarian organization, counseling can help to understand the problem and treatment through counseling is psychological and a process that might continue for a certain time period depending upon severity, intensity, complexity, duration of problem and likewise.

PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) are common psychiatric disorders found in an orphanage, almost exclusively in female children. Younger age, being female and lower socio-economic class are believed to be other risk factors for PTSD, says the study, “Psychiatric disorders among children living in orphanages-Experience from Kashmir.”

Psychologists believe that not only physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural reactions occur under stressful situations but relationships get strained, accidents become common after severe stresses followed by danger of alcohol and drug abuse.

MSF believes that areas of armed conflict and mass violence generally give rise to stressful situations that can be difficult to cope up with. “Violence has touched each family here, in a way or other, which leads to detrimental effects on well-being of people”.

- Afsana Rashid Bhat is a journalist based in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir-India. Author of the book, “Waiting for justice: Widows and Half-widows”She is a recipient of the Sanjoy Ghose Humanitarian Award, Sanjoy Ghose Media fellowship (2006-07) by Charkha Communications Development Network - New Delhi, UN Population Fund-Laadli Media Award and Grass-root Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) – Media Awards-2007. She was also awarded a fellowship in 2005 for her work on impact of conflict on the subsistence livelihoods of marginalized communities in Kashmir by Action Aid India.


HUMNEWS - Photo's of the week - August 8, 2010 

 Pakistan Floods: An estimated 13 million Pakistanis affected by the worst floods in the country’s history are bracing from more misery as heavy rains further bloat rivers and streams. Many aid agencies have already begun to respond to the situation. Approximately 1600 people have died. (SOURCE: Irish Times)

Mongolian neo-Nazis: Anti-Chinese sentiment fuels rise of ultra-nationalismAlarm sounds over rise of extreme groups such as Tsagaan Khass who respect Hitler and reject foreign influence. (SOURCE: The Guardian)





Russia fires: The capital city of the Russian Federation is covered in thick smog, based on reports from Moscow. The problem is reportedly causing several businesses and schools to close down due to health risks. Moscow has a population of some 10 million people, about the same as the entire population of Hungary. A thick blanket of smog was allegedly caused by uncontrollable ongoing peat fires burning just outside the capital. The problem is also disrupting air traffic at major airports. Television coverage showed how commuters and residents wear masks and ambulances and paramedics are reportedly also on alert as summer temperatures reached 40C. At the same some 700 wildfires are raging in various parts of the country due to the severe drought. (SOURCE: The Budapest Report)





  Kashmir flash floods: At least 115 people confirmed dead and about 412 injured in flash floods near Leh on Thursday night news has also come in that 25 Army jawans in the area are missing after their posts and houses were washed away, Army sources said. (SOURCE: Indian Express/ PHOTO: Video Grab - PTI/Doordarshan)





Jamaica Dengue fever: Health Minister Rudyard Spencer told journalists at a press briefing at Jamaica House in Kingston this week that of the 77 cases, seven have been confirmed as of the more severe form of the illness -- the dengue haemorragic fever. Spencer, however, said no cases of dengue shock syndrome have been reported so far nor any related deaths. The health ministry, said Spencer, is on high alert in light of the growing number of cases of dengue fever and dengue haemorragic fever in the country and region. Consequently, he said, all parishes have intensified their fogging and oiling activities. Fogging is being carried out in approximately 800 communities across the island. (SOURCE: The Jamaica Observer)  

Kyrgyzstan protests: The authorities in Kyrgyzstan's southern city of Osh have prevented a mass protest against the deployment of an international police force in the Osh and Jalal-Abad regions, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports. Sonunbek Junusbaev, one of the activists who planned the protest, told RFE/RL that the Osh commandant ordered the removal of a yurt -- the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic dwelling -- from in front of a local theater on August 4. The protest organizers had set up the yurt earlier this week as a symbol of their protest. The 52 unarmed international police are expected to arrive in Osh and Jalal-Abad in early September to accompany police on patrols, engage in training and advising local police, and to monitor the human rights situation. The OSCE and the Kyrgyz government decided to send the police mission in an effort to restore order after clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz killed at least 356 people and uprooted hundreds of thousands more in June. International human rights groups have reported that Kyrgyz police and other security forces are arbitrarily detaining ethnic Uzbeks and also beating them.The OSCE police are to stay in the southern regions for four months (SOURCE: Radio Free Europe)

  Aura Borealis: NASA announced the discovery of a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) on August 1, 2010. The CME resulted from a class C3 solar flare and was aimed towards Earth. The coronal mass ejection should reach Earth on the night of August 3/4, 2010. The CME will cause a higher than normal possibility of aurora, also called northern lights, activity on the evening of August 3 and the morning of August 4. During a CME the Sun releases high energy charged particles, protons and electrons. When these particles, particularly the electrons, interact with atoms in Earth's upper atmosphere they cause northern and southern lights, which are more properly called the aurora borealis and the aurora australis. Earth's magnetic field causes the auroral displays to be more easily visible near the north and south magnetic poles, but in extreme cases aurora can be visible at lower latitudes. (SOURCE: Examiner.com)

Africa broadband: The East African Submarine System (EASSy) undersea cable, which now has an upgraded 3,84-Tb/s design capacity, has entered commercial operation, ahead of schedule and about 10% below its budgeted $300-million in capital expenditure.Dr Angus Hay, the chief technology officer of Neotel – one of the consortium of investors in the cable – on Thursday announced that the undersea cable had started commercial operations on July 30.The launch of the EASSy cable follows a year after the 1,28-Tb/s Seacom cable, which also runs along Africa’s East Coast, went live on July 23, 2009.The EASSy cable, which has a 25-year life, connects South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan with multiple other submarine cable networks from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. (SOURCE: Engineering news)

Cluster bomb ban: Effective Aug.1, an international treaty bans the cluster bomb, one of the world’s worst hazards for millions of farmers. To date, 108 countries have signed and 38 have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the production, use, stockpiling or transfer of cluster bombs. No country suffers the hazards of cluster bombs more than Laos. Per capita, it’s the most heavily bombed country on earth. Up to 30 percent of all bombs dropped on Laos did not detonate. They remain in the soil today, deadly as ever. (SOURCE: The Faster Times)



Salvador Dali moves to Andorra: The Salvador Dali sculpture, the ‘Nobility of Time’ has been placed in Andorra’s capital city, in the Piazza Rotonda Andorra la Vella. It was donated to the Andorran government by Enric Sabater, who was Dali’s agent, collaborator and confident between 1968 and 1982. The stunning five meter high sculpture has been placed in the city’s most prestigious and historic square, in the towns oldest quarter which dates from the twelfth century. The bronze sculpture is one of the melted watch series of sculptures which was created by Dali to symbolise the passage of time. The soft melting watch is draped around a tree trunk; atop the watch face is a crown, symbolising time’s master over humanity. Beniamino Levi, President of the Stratton Foundation and curator of over eighty Dali exhibitions worldwide, has expressed his approval of the donation and is delighted that the sculpture is now the main artistic attraction in Andorra la Vella. “It is going to be one of the major attractions of the capital and of the country”, pointed out the town’s parish minister Antoni Armengol, who described the donation as akin to ‘a Christmas present in the summer’. Andorra’s minister of Education Culture and Youth, Susanna Vela agrees that the sculpture is certainly , ‘a great point of attraction’. The sculpture ‘ Nobility of Time’ has also been displayed in other European locations such as London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and most recently Courcheval, France.  (SOURCE: artdaily.org)