Monday October 23, 2017
Home U.S.A. Another Noose...

Another Noose found, this time at African-American Museum which represents extreme violence for the Community

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National Museum of African-American History and Culture. VOA

Washington, June 1, 2017: A noose was found inside the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in here, the second time in less than a week after a noose was left at one of the Smithsonian museums.

“The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity — a symbol of extreme violence for African-Americans,” museum director Lonnie Bunch said on Wednesday.

“Today’s (Wednesday) incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face…We will continue to help bridge the chasm of race that has divided this nation since its inception,” said Bunch.

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The US Park Police were called to the museum and the noose, which had been found in an exhibition on segregation, was quickly removed afterwards, Xinhua news agency reported.

On May 26, a noose was found hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, also on the National Mall.

The two incidents are now under investigation. (IANS)

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24 years after Converting his Faith to Islam, 52-year-old Sheshadri from Mysore Returns to Hinduism

What was the reason for his conversion from Islam to back to his original religion Hinduism?

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Sheshadri originally belonged to a Brahmin family
(Representative image) Sheshadri originally belonged to a Brahmin family. Wikimedia
  • Sheshadri lost his mother when he was only 2 years old and he also lost his father while he was studying in class 10
  • No one from his community came to help him and to survive he had to take odd jobs at hotels in Mysore and Bengaluru 
  • He adopted Islam religion as he developed a liking for that religion

 Mysore, Karnataka, August 25, 2017:  Sheshadri, an old man from Mysore who is  59 yrs old and earlier belonged to a Brahmin family and Shree Vaishnava Pantha Brahmin community. He later adopted Islam religion. Now, after a long duration of time, Sheshadri and his 20-year-old son Syed Ateek have converted back to Hinduism.

Here’s how a Brahmin man who first converted to Islam and later came back to his own religion- Hinduism:

  • Sheshadri is a resident of Jakkanahalli (a small village which falls in Mandya district) town Shree Ranga Pattana in Karnataka. His profession is that of a lorry driver in Mandya.
  • His father’s name was late B Govindaraju, who was a priest and follower of Ramanujacharya, a Hindu theologian and held a belief in Vishishtadvaita (non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy).
  • His mother’s name was Kamalamma, who was a Shaiva Brahmin and follower of Adi Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta (a type of Hindu philosophy and religious practice, they believe that their soul is not really different from God). 
  • But his parents didn’t have an easy life as they had to leave the town as the community opposed their marriage.

ALSO READ: Tamil Brahmin’s transformation to urban middle class 

  • Sheshadri didn’t have a normal childhood. He lost his mother when he was only 2 years old and he also lost his father while he was studying in class 10.
  • During those tough days no one from his community came to help him, to survive he had to take odd jobs at hotels in Mysore and Bengaluru.
  • In 1993, he started working as a lorry driver with Syed Keezer from Kollegala. At that time, Sheshadri adopted Islam religion as he developed a liking for that religion.
  • Sheshadri married Fahmida, who was a relative of Syed Keezer and with her, he had two sons- Syed Ateek and Syed Siddiq.
  • But even his marriage didn’t last long as Fahmida left Sheshadri 2 years ago because of some conflict and after it, she started living with her parents and took her younger son Syed Siddiq along with her.
  • This event affected him in a huge way, leaving him frustrated and thus he decided to convert back to the religion he originally belonged to that is Hinduism.
  • His elder son Syed Ateeq joined him in conversion and changed his name to Harshal.
  • Sheshadri talked about the reason for conversion from Islam to Hinduism. According to Banglore Mirror report, he said “I embraced Islam and married a Muslim woman due to restrictions from our community. I was always eager to come back to Hinduism. I will now persuade my wife and the other son to convert to Hinduism.”
  • There was a Ghar Waapsi (homecoming) programme held for Sheshadri, conducted by Pramod Mutalik, Sri Ram Sene chief at the Arya Samaj Mandir, Mysore.

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This Washington DC Art Gallery Has Brought a Cosmic Buddha Artifact to Life Using 3-D Scanning

3-D scanning of the 16th century relic has allowed viewers to rotate the sculpture, adjust lighting and zoom in to see details of it's surface - a path breaking advancement in the realm of technology.

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Technological advancements are paving way for advanced researches. Pixabay
  • Technology has an active role to play in steering research about historic artifacts.
  • Relic of a sixteenth-century Cosmic Buddha has been recently scanned and developed into an online web module for advanced research.
  • 3D scanning with digital surface occlusion provides the clearest view of the surface of ancient sculptures paving way for elaborate understanding.

– By Soha Kala

JULY 26, 2017: Most of us have disliked visiting museums to look at ancient isolated pieces on a pedestal.  The cosmic Buddha statue at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art at Washington has had similar reactions for nearly 9 decades now.

Exhibit curator Keith Wilson duly noted why this hand-less, headless statue had stood alone, without attracting much attention.  “It’s not a beautiful, white marble surface”, he said calling the relic a “difficult piece to love”.

Also Read: Mummified Monk Found inside the 1000 Year Old Buddha Statue in Lotus Position in China

However, what makes the sculpture truly remarkable is the dense decoration that covers its surface, illustrating the Realms of Buddhist Existence- a symbolic map of the cosmos associated with Vairochana, the presumed subject of the sculpture.  Despite its rich bearing, the relic remained largely ignored in the museum.

In an attempt to heighten people’s interest, the relic was first scanned in 3-D for the Smithsonian Digitization project in 2011, facilitating detailed mapping of the sculpture’ surface to clearly identify scenes and figures it contains.

These scans have now been turned into a 3-D model, forming the basis of an interactive web-based resource about the Cosmic Buddha.

A 16th century relic has been 3 D scanned using laser scanning and high resolution photography.
This image has been used for referential purposes. Wikimedia Commons

The module, which is accessible online, includes guided tours written by Wilson and Janet Douglas, a former Freer|Sackler conversation scientist, showing brilliant clarity images, illustrating fundamental Buddhist teachings. Through the use of this digital model, researchers can now study the sculpture and its exceptional details, including previously unreadable details.

Wilson believes the relic was originally created to be a teaching tool. But it’s positioning in a museum brought all attention on the relic as an object, rather than as part of a ritual process. However, technology is now allowing museums to unite the artistic qualities of work with its religious connotation and purpose.

For example, Eileen Daily, director of the Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership at Boston University had created a mobile app in 2011 that explained users about the history and religious significance of artworks around them.

The constant access to smart phones and technology also means works like the Cosmic Buddha are no longer exclusive to museums- their 3-D models can be accessed via the internet from anywhere around the world. For example, curators and scholars can now order scans of all objects in a Buddhist temple and recreate the space virtually.

To sum up, David Morgan, professor of religious studies at Duke University believes technology and museums are now changing each other for the better.

– by Soha Kala for NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala


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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)