Thursday November 23, 2017

Former Catholic Nuns Isabel and Federica fall in love, register same-sex Civil Union in Italy

Serafino Ferrino, refused to conduct the civil union, claiming they were morally "wrong" and that many Italian mayors agreed with him

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Italian Nuns
Two Nuns Waiting Together. Representational image. Pixabay
  • Former Catholic nuns, Isabel and Federica, registered a  same-sex civil union and renounced their vows in North-west Italy on Wednesday, after falling in love
  • The civil union ceremony took place in Pinerolo on the outskirts of Turin and was conducted by the town’s mayor, Luca Salvai
  • Italy’s parliament voted civil unions – including same-sex partnerships – into law in May after the government won a confidence motion on the fiercely debated bill

Pinerolo, Italy, Sept 28, 2016: Two former Catholic nuns registered a same-sex civil union in northwest Italy on Wednesday after they fell in love and renounced their vows, media reports said.

“God wants people to be happy and to live their love openly,” Turin-based daily La Stampa quoted one of the ex-nuns named Isabel as saying.

“We call on our Church to welcome all people who love each other,” said the other nun, named Francesca, quoted by La Stampa.

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The civil union ceremony took place in Pinerolo on the outskirts of Turin and was conducted by the town’s mayor, Luca Salvai, a member of Italy’s grassroots Five Star movement.

La Stampa described the couple as two 44-year-old former Franciscan Sisters, who met on a pilgrimage. Isabel is from Latin America, and Federica is from Italy, according to the daily.

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A priest who was suspended from the priesthood in 2003 because of his support for gay marriage, Franco Barbero, was also going to bless the couple and has already done this for 19 gay couples this year, it reported.

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Gay activists on Tuesday lodged a complaint with prosecutors and police against a Catholic mayor in Favria on the outskirts of Turin who refused to officiate a civil union between two men.

Serafino Ferrino, refused to conduct the civil union, claiming they were morally “wrong” and that many Italian mayors agreed with him.

The Gay Centre rights group said it was taking action against all town and city councils who don’t apply the legislation which legalised same-sex partnerships in Italy earlier this year.

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Italy’s parliament voted civil unions – including same-sex partnerships – into law in May after the government won a confidence motion on the fiercely debated bill.

Italy was the last in Western Europe to adopt such reforms and the legislation was heavily diluted due to staunch opposition from the Catholic Church, Catholic groups, and conservative Catholic politicians as well as divisions within the ruling centre-left Democratic Party. (IANS)

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‘In Standing up for Herself, Edie Also Stood up for Millions of Americans’, Tweets Bill Clinton as the World Mourns the Death of Gay Rights Activist Edith Windsor

Paying his tribute to Edie, former US President Barack Obama rightly said, "Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor - and few made as big a difference to America."

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Edith Windsor
Edie dearly loved the LGBTQ community which loved her right back and held her in reverence for her fight for freedom, equality, and justice. Wikemedia

New York, September 13, 2017 Gay rights activist Edith Windsor, whose same-sex marriage fight led to a landmark US ruling, has died aged 88.

Her death was confirmed to the New York Times by her wife Judith Kasen-Windsor. She died in New York.

“The world lost a tiny but tough-as-nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality,” the BBC quoted Kasen-Windsor as saying.

“Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community, which she loved so much and which loved her right back,” she added.

Edith Windsor’s Supreme Court case struck down the Defence of Marriage Act in 2013, granting same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time.

She had sued the US government after being ordered to pay $363,053 in federal estate tax after her previous wife, Thea Spyer, died. The couple had been partners for 44 years and had married in Canada in 2007.

Windsor, known as Edie, argued that the provision of the law which defined marriage as between a man and a woman prevented her from getting a tax deduction due to married couples – and was “unconstitutional”.

In the landmark 2013 ruling, the US Supreme Court agreed – and that decision became the basis for a wave of further court rulings increasing the rights of same-sex couples.

In 2015, another crucial Supreme Court ruling gave same-sex couples the right to marry.

Remembering the gay rights trailblazer Edith Windsor, former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also paid their tributes.

“Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America,” Obama said. While Clinton tweeted: “In standing up for herself, Edie also stood up for millions of Americans…” (IANS)

 

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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)

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India’s Textile and Fashion Heritage now part of Google project

Google's project 'We Wear Culture' is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

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we wear culture
Google's new art project 'We wear Culture' digitizes fashion, Wikimedia
  • Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India
  • It intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures
  • Its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

June 15, 2017: To a certain extent, a culture is defined by what is worn by its people. In a country as diverse as India, vast and varied spectrum of cultures and clothes is one of the specialties. Google’s latest virtual exhibition project now provides us the opportunity to explore and know more about it.

Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago, from the ancient Silk Road to the unmatched elegance of the Indian Saree,  from the courtly fashion of Versailles, to the Victorian ballgowns with intricate thread work.

According to Amit Sood, director of Google Arts and Culture,”We invite everyone to browse the exhibition on their phones or laptops and learn about the stories behind what you wear. You might be surprised to find out that your Saree, jeans or the black dress in your wardrobe have a centuries-old story. What you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”

Culture is defined by what is worn by its people. Click To Tweet

The company also mentioned that noteworthy collections from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and varied weaves from across India, from Gharchola to Patola to Temple to Ikat sarees will be included in the online project, as it intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures.

ALSO READ: New Google Project Digitizes World’s Top Fashion Archives.

According to PTI reports, the world fashion exhibit also includes designs from north-eastern India including the weaves of tribes such as the Nagas, Meitis. it will showcase the traditional attire from Meghalaya called ‘Dhara’ or ‘Nara’ worn by the Khasi women as well.

As a part of the exhibit, Sewa Hansiba Museum has brought the unique colorful and rich embroidery arts, applique and mirror work from different communities such as the Ahir, Rabari, Chaudhury Patel and many others from the western part of India online.

The exhibition conducted by Salar Jung Museum brings to light the Sherwani and its journey of becoming the royal fashion statement of the Nizams from 19th century Hyderabad. Fashion and textiles enthusiasts can revisit Colonial Indian attires with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. Over 400 online exhibitions and stories sharing a total of 50,000 photos, videos and other documents on world fashion are open to exploration as well.

The ‘We wear Culture’ initiative highlights significant events in the growth of the world fashion industry; the icons, the movements, the game changers and the trendsetters like Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Audrey Hepburn and many more.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang