The Hindustan Times – Thirty-nine Indians missing in Iraq are alive, in touch with nations to rescue them: Government

External affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said the government had no information to indicate that the 39 Indians, believed to have been abducted by the Islamic State in Iraq, were not alive.

New Delhi, 17 June 2017. India is in touch with all the countries which can help in locating 39 Indians, believed to have been abducted by terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS) in Iraq in 2014, the government said on Friday.

Responding to a question on the issue, external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said Sushma Swaraj had met representatives and families of these 39 Indians early this month.

“We are in touch with all nations who are helping us or who can help us. All possible steps are being taken. As of now we have the information that the people are alive. We have no such information to suggest that they are not alive,” Baglay said.

The families said they had last heard from the men on June 14, 2014, when they all called home to say they were being taken away by IS fighters.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/39-indians-missing-in-iraq-are-alive-in-touch-with-nations-to-rescue-them-govt/story-928DsV181FN1xLkLsA9mHK.html

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The Tribune – UAE gurdwara holds Iftar for all faiths

Dubai, 16 June 2017. In a heart-warming gesture, a gurdwara here, the largest in the Gulf, organised Iftar where people of different religions and over 30 nationalities broke the Muslim fast together.

To demonstrate the spirit of tolerance and giving, Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, hosted 120 residents of over 30 nationalities to celebrate the holy month of Ramazan and support the Muslim community in breaking their fast in a multicultural setting.

As the call to maghreb (evening) prayers rang inside the gurdwara, Muslims broke their fast over water, dates and Indian dishes. Later, they offered prayers inside the gurdwara premises in Jebel Ali.

Surinder Singh Kandhari, chairman, Guru Nanak Darbar, was quoted as saying by the Khaleej Times that the Iftar was to bring people together in the face of adversity.

“In a world that struggles with extremism, the best way out is through creating friendships among different faiths and nationalities. It is only through communication that we can overcome adversities,” said Kandhari, noting that guests varied from Arabs, Ethiopians, Mexicans to Americans and Serbians.

Indian Consul General in Dubai Vipul said the gurdwara was doing a great service by getting all communities and religions together. He cited the example of the gurdwara achieving a Guinness World Record by hosting breakfast for 101 nationalities in April.

“I see today’s Iftar also as a step in that direction,” he was quoted as saying by Gulf News. A regular visitor at the gurdwara, Mitchell Peeters from Belgium, said as a Christian, having Iftar in a Sikh Gurdwara made the experience in the UAE more special.

“It is a nice experience to enjoy happiness and friendliness of people around you from different faiths and nationalities. It is part of the charm of living in Dubai and adjusting to local customs,” said Peeters, a UAE resident for four years.

The gurdwara serves free meals to visitors everyday and food packs in labour camps each weekend. (PTI)

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/uae-gurdwara-holds-iftar-for-all-faiths/423580.html

Brabantdam – Schooldreef, Veldstraat, Zonnestraat

Brabantdam
14 May 2017

Brabantdam / François Laurentplein

Brabantdam / François Laurentplein
Library De Krook

Brabantdam – Lippensplein

Schooldreef, Veldstraat, Zonnestraat
21 May 2017


Schooldreef
First day of operation of new Tram 2
replacing Tram 21 an 22

Veldstraat, tramstop Zonnestraat
No more 21 and 22, only Tram 1

Zonnestraat – Korte Meer – Kouter
No more tram 21
Tram 2 to Melle Leeuw via Gent-Zuid and Gentbrugge stelplaats

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Baltimore Sun – Sikh arrested in Catonsville over ceremonial knife, released without charges

Jessica Anderson

Baltimore, 16 June 2017. Harpreet Singh Khalsa has worn the ceremonial knife known as a kirpan every day since he converted to Sikhism nine years ago.

“We don’t consider it a knife, but a visual reminder to stand up to justice,” the 33-year-old Baltimore County man said.

But the kirpan is often a cause of misunderstanding by those outside the faith, including law enforcement. Khalsa, who owns a catering business, said he’s been stopped multiple times by police, and was arrested again on Monday outside a Catonsville grocery store after a customer called police.

Khalsa said he explained to the officers that the knife is part of his religion, but they frisked him, took the kirpan, placed him in handcuffs and drove him to the local precinct.

Khalsa was later released without charges, after police “confirmed that the knife was a kirpan and part of his religion, and not a threat to the community,” Baltimore County Officer Jennifer Peach, wrote in an email.

“The officer did follow all Maryland and county laws properly in this incident,” Peach said. “There is no known exception to the deadly weapons laws at this time.”

She said the department is providing education and guidance to its officers about Sikhs and their culture.

“This incident clearly illustrates that this is an increasingly diverse county, and BCoPD works hard to understand and respect the many cultures that call Baltimore County home,” Peach wrote in an email. “Sometimes this poses challenges to our officers, but cultural competency is part of the job, and we are committed to it.”

Such interactions between Sikhs and police are not uncommon.

In many cases, Sikh advocates say, it’s the result of ignorance about traditions of the religion, which was founded more than 500 years ago in the Punjab region of South Asia. Sikhism is now the world’s fifth-largest religion. More than 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States.

As part of their tradition, many Sikhs wear the five articles of faith, which include the kirpan, kesh (long hair), kanga (a small comb), kara (a steel bracelet), and the kachera (shorts).

“The kirpan obligates a Sikh to the ideals of generosity, compassion and service to humanity,” Harsimran Kaur, legal director of the New York-based Sikh Coalition, wrote in an email. “It acts as a reminder to its bearer of a Sikh’s solemn duty to protect others and promote justice for all.”

The Sikh Coalition was founded in 2001 in response to violence against Sikhs after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The organization has assisted individuals in more than 30 criminal cases involving kirpans, and none have resulted in convictions, Kaur said. In most instances, she said, prosecutors dropped the charges.

“Like the broader American community, most police departments have very little knowledge about the Sikh faith and its religious practices,” she said.

Khalsa said he was shopping at around 2:40 p.m. on Monday when police approached him, walked him out of the store and took his kirpan.

Rachel Bereson Lachow captured the arrest on video and posted it to her Facebook page. The 54-second video has been shared 1.6 million times and received hundreds of comments.

Lachow said she watched Khalsa leave the store with police. She said the officers told him to keep his hands away from the knife until they removed it from him.

Lachow said Khalsa continued to tell the officers he was a Sikh and showed the officers his five articles of faith.

Lachow said she hopes the video will raise awareness.

“I think it’s been an enormous force for good,” she said.

Khalsa, who was born as Justin Smith and was raised as a Quaker, said he hopes his experience will help educate the police and the community about his religion because he and many Sikhs have experienced discrimination.

Sikhs still face restrictions. The Transportation Security Administration prohibits “religious knives, swords and other objects” through security checkpoints at airports and requires that the items be packed in checked baggage, agency spokesman Mike England wrote in an email.

Khalsa said he wants to create protection for Sikhs in Maryland. He said the issue will be discussed at an upcoming meeting at the Sikh Association of Baltimore in Randallstown.

“There’s no oversight whatsoever, so anything can happen to people in our community,” he said. “There’s just so much that needs to be done here.”

“Sometimes this poses challenges to our officers, but cultural competency is part of the job, and we are committed to it.”

Such interactions between Sikhs and police are not uncommon.

In many cases, Sikh advocates say, it’s the result of ignorance about traditions of the religion, which was founded more than 500 years ago in the Punjab region of South Asia. Sikhism is now the world’s fifth-largest religion. More than 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States.

As part of their tradition, many Sikhs wear the five articles of faith, which include the kirpan, kesh (long hair), kanga (a small comb), kara (a steel bracelet), and the kachera (shorts).

“The kirpan obligates a Sikh to the ideals of generosity, compassion and service to humanity,” Harsimran Kaur, legal director of the New York-based Sikh Coalition, wrote in an email. “It acts as a reminder to its bearer of a Sikh’s solemn duty to protect others and promote justice for all.”

The Sikh Coalition was founded in 2001 in response to violence against Sikhs after the attacks of 11 September 2001. The organization has assisted individuals in more than 30 criminal cases involving kirpans, and none have resulted in convictions, Kaur said. In most instances, she said, prosecutors dropped the charges.

“Like the broader American community, most police departments have very little knowledge about the Sikh faith and its religious practices,” she said.

Khalsa said he was shopping at around 2:40 p.m. on Monday when police approached him, walked him out of the store and took his kirpan.

Rachel Bereson Lachow captured the arrest on video and posted it to her Facebook page. The 54-second video has been shared 1.6 million times and received hundreds of comments.

Lachow said she watched Khalsa leave the store with police. She said the officers told him to keep his hands away from the knife until they removed it from him.

Lachow said Khalsa continued to tell the officers he was a Sikh and showed the officers his five articles of faith.

Lachow said she hopes the video will raise awareness.

“I think it’s been an enormous force for good,” she said.

Khalsa, who was born as Justin Smith and raised as a Quaker, said he hopes his experience will help educate the police and the community about his religion because he and many Sikhs have experienced discrimination.

While police said there is no exception to the state’s weapons laws, courts have overwhelmingly found that Sikhs can carry kirpans, said Michael Meyerson, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

A dangerous weapon is determined by intent, Meyerson said. For example, police would not arrest a carpenter carrying potentially dangerous power tools because the intent is not for violence but to build. Conversely, a brick has many nonviolent uses, but with intent could be a deadly weapon.

Meyerson said the police officers should not have arrested Khalsa. A kirpan, “which is known as a sign of devotion,” is not a dangerous weapon under the law, he said.

Sikhs still face restrictions. The Transportation Security Administration prohibits “religious knives, swords and other objects” through security checkpoints at airports and requires that the items be packed in checked baggage, agency spokesman Mike England wrote in an email.

Khalsa said he wants to create protections for Sikhs in Maryland. He said the issue will be discussed at an upcoming meeting at the Sikh Association of Baltimore in Randallstown.

“There’s no oversight whatsoever, so anything can happen to people in our community,” he said. “There’s just so much that needs to be done here.”

jkanderson@baltsun.com

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/-bs-md-co-sikh-arrest-20170616-story.html

The Hindu – How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate

New DNA evidence is solving the most fought-over question in Indian history. And you will be surprised at how sure-footed the answer is.

Tony Joseph

June 16, 2017. The thorniest, most fought-over question in Indian history is slowly but surely getting answered: did Indo-European language speakers, who called themselves Aryans, stream into India sometime around 2,000 BC – 1,500 BC when the Indus Valley civilisation came to an end, bringing with them Sanskrit and a distinctive set of cultural practices?

Genetic research based on an avalanche of new DNA evidence is making scientists around the world converge on an unambiguous answer: yes, they did.

This may come as a surprise to many, and a shock to some, because the dominant narrative in recent years has been that genetics research had thoroughly disproved the Aryan migration theory.

This interpretation was always a bit of a stretch as anyone who read the nuanced scientific papers in the original knew. But now it has broken apart altogether under a flood of new data on Y-chromosomes (or chromosomes that are transmitted through the male parental line, from father to son).

Lines of descent

Until recently, only data on mtDNA (or matrilineal DNA, transmitted only from mother to daughter) were available and that seemed to suggest there was little external infusion into the Indian gene pool over the last 12,500 years or so.

New Y-DNA data has turned that conclusion upside down, with strong evidence of external infusion of genes into the Indian male lineage during the period in question.

The reason for the difference in mtDNA and Y-DNA data is obvious in hindsight: there was a strong sex bias in Bronze Age migrations. In other words, those who migrated were predominantly male and, therefore, those gene flows do not really show up in the mtDNA data.

On the other hand, they do show up in the Y-DNA data: specifically, about 17.5% of Indian male lineage has been found to belong to haplogroup R1a (haplogroups identify a single line of descent), which is today spread across Central Asia, Europe and South Asia.

The Pontic-Caspian Steppe is seen as the region from where R1a spread both west and east, splitting into different sub-branches along the way.

The paper that put all of the recent discoveries together into a tight and coherent history of migrations into India was published just three months ago in a peer-reviewed journal called ‘BMC Evolutionary Biology’.

In that paper, titled “A Genetic Chronology for the Indian Subcontinent Points to Heavily Sex-biased Dispersals”, 16 scientists led by Professor Martin P Richards of the University of Huddersfield, UK, concluded: “Genetic influx from Central Asia in the Bronze Age was strongly male-driven, consistent with the patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal social structure attributed to the inferred pastoralist early Indo-European society.

This was part of a much wider process of Indo-European expansion, with an ultimate source in the Pontic-Caspian region, which carried closely related Y-chromosome lineages… across a vast swathe of Eurasia between 5,000 and 3,500 years ago”.

In an email exchange, Professor Richards said the prevalence of R1a in India was “very powerful evidence for a substantial Bronze Age migration from central Asia that most likely brought Indo-European speakers to India.”

The robust conclusions of Professor Richards and his team rest on their own substantive research as well as a vast trove of new data and findings that have become available in recent years, through the work of genetic scientists around the world.

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/how-genetics-is-settling-the-aryan-migration-debate/article19090301.ece?homepage=true