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Taliban Won't Destroy Hindu or Sikh Temples
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:49:02 ( 843 reads )


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PAKISTAN, February 27, 2001: Afghanistan is rebuffing international demands to rescind a government order to destroy all Buddhist statues in the country. Some governments pointed out the statues had not been destroyed under the past 1,200 years of Islamic rule in the region. The Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, said on Tuesday, "We don't care why the statues weren't destroyed in the past, but we have a government now in Afghanistan that is religious, and we want to stop all things that are against Islam.'' As well as the two giant Buddhas, Afghanistan's national museum -- which has been damaged by rockets -- has hundreds of small statues of Buddha. They would also be destroyed under the order, Zaeef said. However, he said officials would not enter the temples of minority religions, including Hindus or Sikhs, to carry out the order. "We respect Hindus and Sikhs, and they will not be stopped from performing their rituals,'' Zaeef said.




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Sydney's Hindu Temple Allegedly Exploiting Indian Stonemasons
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:48:02 ( 838 reads )


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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, February 26, 2001: Indian workers at a Hindu temple in Helensburgh, south of Sydney, have been taken away from the site, where it is alleged they are being paid $45 (US$23.60) a month for their labor. The men are stone masons from the Indian province of Tamil Nadu, working in Australia on temporary visas, who are building pagodas at Helensburgh's Sri Venkateshwara Temple. Unions say Australians doing the same work could expect to be paid $500 to $1,000 (US$262.00 to US$524.00) a week. State Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Andrew Ferguson, says the conditions on the site are the worst he has seen. The Indian workers have now left the site and will be accommodated in Wollongong overnight. Temple management is refusing to comment on the matter subject to legal advice.




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Mandela Steps Into Racism Row
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:47:02 ( 817 reads )


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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, Feb 25, 2001: Former South African President Nelson Mandela has condemned "arrogant" members of the country's African majority who have suggested that minority groups have no role to play in South Africa. The interview with the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times, came in response to a report in the same paper last week about a prominent lawyer who had made a racist swipe at an Indian South African theatre boss. Mr. Mandela said he was concerned about increasing racial polarization, in particular a "widening of the gap" between Africans and Indians. "Some Africans ...... now throw their weight about as a majority. There are some Africans who inspire fear in the minorities because of the way they behave," he said. At a board meeting of Durban's Playhouse Company in November, a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Arts and Culture Council, lawyer Edmund Radebe chairing the meeting said: "I don't think education and development -- I am not being a racist, please -- can be run by an Indian." After the discussion was made public, the theatre's former acting deputy director, Gitanjali Pather quit. Mr. Mandela in outrage at the comment, called on the ANC, the ruling party which he previously led, to do more to bridge the gaps between race groups.




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Alerting Muslim Community of Marriages Among Relatives
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:46:02 ( 888 reads )


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BIRMINGHAM, U.K., February 22, 2001: Coming from a culture where the marrying of first cousins is acceptable, the practice is prevalent among the Pakistani Muslim community. The only reason these marriages are being questioned by Birmingham health authorities is because of the high mortality rate of children born from these unions. In a community where 80 percent marry close relatives, genetic disorders that cause mental retardation or blood disorders are also evident. Defective genes that run in the same family have a greater risk of manifesting genetically when close relatives marry. Community health prevention trainer Karamjeet Ballagan who initiated the awareness campaign said, "What the community told us is they want the health authority to provide some sort of genetic test for people getting engaged to find out if their genes are affected." A number of Hindu communities also practice "cross-cousin" marriage, which is considered in Western countries too close for genetic diversity.




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Book Release Postponed
Posted on 2001/2/26 22:45:02 ( 1182 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 2, 2001: The release of Francois Gautier's book has been postponed till March 14 or 16 march. Contact "source" email for a final date.




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Uproar Among Fiji's Hindus About Denial To Perform Last Rites
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:49:02 ( 828 reads )


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SUVA, FIJI, February, 25, 2001: An uproar in Fiji's Hindu community in the capital over another family being stopped from scattering the cremated remains of a family member along a shoreline, has police saying that they prevented the customary ritual in the interest of the public as the venue is a popular picnic spot. The family of deposed parliamentarian Raghu Nand were advised to seek permission from the Marine Department before carrying on with the last rites, who in turn imposed restrictions on such activities. A marine department official said anything that is not classed as a pollutant or dangerous substance could be released in the sea. A frustrated Nand said they were given the run-around by authorities that did not seem to know what they were doing."It is part of our religious right and freedom and I believe that we should not have been stopped," he said. The president of the Sanatan Dharam Sabha of Fiji Lautoka branch, Swami Maharaj, said "We have a right to religious freedom and freedom of expression. The commissioner of police should tell us if it is legal for Hindus to be stopped from performing their last funeral rites."




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Poverty in India
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:48:02 ( 829 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 22, 2001: If you live on less than ten dollars U.S. per month, a pre-determined arbitrary national cut-off figure, then in India you would be one among 260 million people. However, according to Abusaleh Sharif, chief economist for the National Council for Applied Economic Research, "This is a national cut-off, and this figure is unrealistic." Even though this recent determination statistically indicates that only 25% of the population now lives below the poverty line compared to 36% in 1993-94, the number of malnourished people in India is well over 60%. Poverty is more rampant in rural India and the northern states fare better than the eastern states. In the capital city alone 1.15 million people are struggling to survive.




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Pakistan Minorities Boycott Election
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:47:02 ( 853 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 24, 2001: A separate electoral system introduced in 1985, where non-Muslims can only vote for candidates belonging to their own communities, is being boycotted by Hindus and Christians in Pakistan. Hundreds of electoral seats were left unoccupied during a similar December election boycott.




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Government Offers Courses to Prospective New Couples
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:46:02 ( 785 reads )


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WASHINGTON D.C., February 23, 2001: When marriages break-up the individuals involved and the community at large pays the price. Emotionally and intellectually, children from broken homes suffer and comprise a large percentage of school dropouts, drug abusers, teenage pregnancies and depression victims. Hoping to intervene before the "I do" and marriage vows, states across the U.S. are providing incentives to couples to take premarital counseling. With a reduction in marriage license costs being minimal, the couples taking the courses feel the real benefit is in discovering their compatibility. More than 40% of American marriages end in divorce. On that note Wisconsin House Speaker Scott Jensen writes, "State and Federal government spend an extraordinary amount of resources on the fallout of broken marriages. We have an interest in having strong families and strong marriages."




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Londoners Intrigued With Indian Food
Posted on 2001/2/25 22:45:02 ( 782 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, February 20, 2001: Attempting to expand their customer base, top class Indian restaurants in London are trying new methods to entice the populace into their establishments. Educating the British public about the Science of Ayurveda, where spices not only add flavor but are also used for medicinal purposes, the Mela restaurant in Covent Garden has hired a chef experienced in the Ayurvedic food tradition. For the month of February during the food festival at Mela, British lovers of curries will be intrigued by the benefits of garlic, cinnamon and cardamon and the importance of meal balancing. Elsewhere in London, another Indian restaurant is introducing wine to its beverage list and has hired a wine expert to offer suggestions for wine and meal complements.




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Treatment of Hindus in Zimbabwe
Posted on 2001/2/24 22:49:02 ( 842 reads )


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ZIMBABWE, AFRICA, February, 24, 2001: Whites were not the only race coming under attack in the racially-motivated parliamentary election campaign currently ravaging Zimbabwe. Asians, in particular, are being targeted, most notably through a hate-filled document sent to prominent businessmen in the community and believed to have originated from the offices of black economic empowerment organization, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG). The document, "Indigenization versus Indians" comes as a rude shock to many Asians who as second or third generation Zimbabweans considered themselves "indigenous." The contents of the document state that this is not how the propagators of affirmative action in Zimbabwe view them. "Black people did not die for this country so that Indians could go on oppressing them," states the document. The situation is the same as in many other countries where the Indian communities have lived, even for generations, but failed to establish good relationships with other communities. Indians came to be regarded, with some justification, as only looking out for themselves.




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Apartheid? "Not Here," Says India.
Posted on 2001/2/24 22:48:02 ( 920 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, February 23, 2001: Human Rights Watch has criticized the Indian Government for discouraging debate over caste-based discrimination. The New York-based rights groups says Delhi is trying to avoid discussion of the issue at a major United Nations conference on racism in South Africa in August. Smita Narula, spokeswoman for the group, says Indian officials argued against including the topic of caste at a meeting on the conference agenda in Tehran earlier this week. The lower-caste Dalit community and a number of other South Asian groups are lobbying for the caste system to be discussed at the South African meeting. They argue that more international attention is needed on what amounts to hidden apartheid. Human Rights Watch says the caste system inflicts great social harm.




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The Non-Vegetarian Side of Vegetarian Products
Posted on 2001/2/24 22:47:02 ( 913 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 20, 2001: A large number of food items passed off as vegetarian actually contain some non-vegetarian ingredients. Some manufacturers add crushed deer antlers to chyawanprash, an ayurvedic medicine. Animal-based enzymes are used for baking biscuits and some beer and whisky makers also use animal-derivatives to "ripen" their products. The vitamin A and D normally added to vegetable oil is often of animal origin. Even items like soaps, shampoos and toothpaste may contain ingredients that are of animal origin. Until a few months ago, India's Union health ministry seemed concerned that consumers had the right to know if a product is of non-animal origin. Now it is being accused of "withdrawing notification of Law under pressure of vested commercial interests." The accusation comes from VOICE (Voluntary Organization in Interest of Consumer Education), in the wake of the ministry's decision to withdraw a notification which would have made it mandatory for manufacturers to indicate, through a stipulated symbol and color code, the fact that the product has non-vegetarian substances.




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What Coagulant is Your Cheese Made From?
Posted on 2001/2/24 22:46:02 ( 841 reads )


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AUSTIN, TEXAS, February 23, 2001: Vegetarians have always been faced with the challenge of finding cheese made without rennet. Derived from the stomach of young calves, the enzyme rennet was at one time the only coagulant that would produce cheddar or hard cheeses. Since 1989 a bio-engineered rennet called microbial chymosin was approved by the FDA and has been used by cheese-producing companies. To animal rights activists and vegetarians this alternative is more acceptable than killing calves for rennet. Estimating that at least 70% of domestic cheese is made from bio-engineered chymosin, labeling is so poor that the consumer is left unaware of the enzyme used to produce the cheese. Companies can simply use the word "enzymes" without detailing whether the source is animal, plant, or microbial.




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Scientists Craft Mouse with Human Brain Cells
Posted on 2001/2/24 22:45:02 ( 794 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, U.S.A, February 24, 2001: Researchers at a California biotechnology company, StemCells Inc., have produced laboratory mice with human brain cells, marking a potential step toward developing treatments for human brain disease like Alzheimer's but promising to fuel fresh debate over the evolving ethics of bioengineering. "We are not recreating a human brain. We're really just trying to understand how these stem cells can function, and how they can be used in the treatment of specific diseases," said Ann Tsukamoto, vice president of scientific operations at StemCells Inc. Irving Weissman, a Stanford university professor involved in the two-year research project, said the next step could be to produce mice with brains made up almost entirely of human cells but a thorough ethical review will be done before this step is taken. Tsukamoto added that the experiment also demonstrated that StemCell Inc's process was viable, and that cell banks could be established for future transplantation into humans. Both scientists stressed, though their logic may escape the casual reader, that their research was in no way aimed at blurring the lines between human and animal. But consider the bright side. If they develop a talking mouse, Disney can hire, rather than draw, Mickey Mouse.




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