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Historic Win: Indian-American Kamala Harris wins US Senate seat from California

A two-term Attorney General of California, Harris defeated L Sancez from her own party

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Kamala Harris, UPI
New York, November 09, 2016: Kamala Harris who is California’s Attorney General, on Wednesday made history as she won the US Senate seat from the state. This makes her the first Indian-American to reach the feat.
Apart from that, 51-year-old Harris, who defeated fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez, is also the sixth black individual to be elected to the US Senate. US President Barack Obama was the fifth black elected Senator.

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Kamala was born in Oakland, California. Her mother Shyamala Gopalan came from Chennai to United States, to study science, specifically endocrinology and complex mechanisms of cancer, mentioned PTI.
Harris’ father Donald grew up in Jamaica, where he became a national scholar and earned the opportunity to study economics.

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A two-term Attorney General of California, Harris defeated L Sancez from her own party.

She would replace Barbara Boxer who announced her retirement in 2014 after serving more than two decades in the Senate.

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“Kamala will take the oath of office as California’s next Senator on January 3, 2017,” said the office of the Senate elect, mentioned PTI.
Described by former US President Obama as “fearless”, Harris may push for strong India-US ties. Considered to be protege of Barack Obama, she is expected to be a fierce advocate of India and US relationship.
-prepared by NewsGram with inputs from PTI

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Warning Signs of Radicalization : Understanding What Makes a Terrorist

The internet is an irrefutable aspect of modern life. But do you know what your child is doing online?

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Radicalization
What motivates children to join terrorist outfits and participate in extremist activities? Pixabay
  • Radicalization is the process by which young individuals are introduced to a blatantly ideological message that accompanies extreme views
  • Over 50 per cent of the radicalization operations carried out by terrorist organizations are conducted over the internet
  • Parents must observe any change in their child’s behavior to gauge potential radicalization

New Delhi, September 4, 2017 : Imagine looking at a video of adolescents in camouflage, wearing ISIS bandanas in a barren dessert, learning hand-to-hand combat. Imagine ISIS fighters wielding long daggers standing behind them, wearing black scarves that mask their faces.

Imagine watching these masked men address the government; they claim that the government is no longer fighting an insurgency but an entire army of young adolescent recruits- kids who should have stayed in school.

ISIS has made shocking progress in expanding its operations in recent times due to the upsurge in enthusiasm that would-be jihadist from all parts of the globe demonstrate to join their fight in Iraq and Syria.

However, one of the most frequently asked questions about terrorism traces the very root of the matter.

Why do children join terrorist outfits and participate in extremist activities?

The ISIS runs an elaborate operation that targets, manipulates and eventually recruits young people to believe and uphold their twisted ideologies- a process understood as radicalization.

 

What is radicalization?

According to a report published by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 2009, radicalization is understood as the process by which young individuals are introduced to a blatantly ideological message that accompanies extreme views.

While radicalization is not always negative, it becomes problematic when it culminates into acts of violence, a phenomenon common to organizations like ISIS, IRA and Al Qaeda.

Over 50 per cent of their radicalization operations are conducted over the internet- a space flocked and dominated by young, impressionist minds.

 

Online risk of radicalization

According to John Horgan, a psychologist at UMass- Lowell who specializes in terrorism, terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, and ISIS can be viewed as amateur psychologists, who are also adept marketers. They provide youngsters, usually very young people, with a ‘one time offer’ and encourage them to act fast.

These extremist organizations make use of internet and the social media to communicate and spread their messages, and recruit people to join their forces.

In an attempt to brainwash and lure young individuals to join forces, their messages usually present extremist vision as an exciting alternate to the ‘mainstream’.

ALSO READ Pakistani Militant Group Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) Now Targeting Women as New Jihad Recruits through their Magazine

Who are most vulnerable to radicalization?

Personal attributes or local factors can make an individual more susceptible to extremist influence. An absence of a positive, supportive force can additionally accelerate the process of radicalization.

  • Children struggling with independent identity

Some children can have a hard time accepting the culture they practice, which can make them question their place in the society. Young children tend to struggle establishing a sense of independent identity which often makes them vulnerable to extremist influence.

  • Personal circumstances

Instances in a child’s personal life such as fights within the family, or undergoing any trauma can increase their vulnerability to radicalization. Extremists prey on children with low-self esteem, who harbor feelings of injustice, such as those who believe they have been subjected to racial discrimination.

Additionally, kids who feel detested by their peers or abandoned by their family members are also at a greater risk of harboring feelings of vengeance that can motivate them to indulge in extremist behavior.

  • Emotional response

Kids who seek adventure and excitement tend to indulge in activities just for the adrenaline rush, without thinking about the consequences. Additionally, kids who yearn to dominate or control others and those who are comfortable with violence can also be an easy target for radicalization.

  • External factors

A child can also be influenced by what he experiences in the local community, country or when exposed to people who have joined any extremist group.

  • Criminal background

Individuals with a previous criminal background or those who find it difficult to integrate with the mainstream society after serving sentence in a jail, or a reprimand home may also be at a greater risk.

  • Exposure and indulgence with technology

Additionally, kids who spend increasing amount of time online, or have no supervision on their online interaction are at a greater risk.

Radicalization
FILE – Indonesian youths browse their social media accounts at an Internet cafe in Jakarta, Indonesia. VOA

Signs of Radicalization

There is no single route to radicalization- it can either occur quickly, or over a long period. Sometimes, there can be clear warning signs that can intimidate you when a child acts out of character. But, sometimes, these changes may not be very obvious,

  • Change in appearance and personal relationships

Young individuals may distance themselves from people, bring a significant change in their appearance and dressing style and refrain from activities that were previously a part of routine.

  • Change in political orientation

The children may exhibit sudden indulgence in a particular behavior or growing interest in politics especially relating to trouble areas. They may additionally become intolerant to those who do not share the same beliefs as them (other religions, races and ethnicity) and may begin to look down upon them.

ALSO READ How a young Astronomer from Turkey turned into an Islamic State Fighter

  • Change in online identity

A change in the online identity of the individual such as changing their username on various social media accounts or the profile picture. Alternately, the individual may make two parallel profiles- one being the ‘normal’ one and the other used for extremist purposes, more often than not with a pseudonym.

Spending long hours on the internet, being secretive and showing reluctance to divulge personal details and information about their whereabouts also comprise suspicious behavior.

  • Additional signs can also include a growing fondness, sympathy or justification for extremist ideologies, increasing interest in accessing more extremist material online, being in contact with extremist recruiters or jihadis, etc.

Exhibition of one of these signs does not necessarily mean that a child is being radicalized. They can also point out to other issues that a child might be facing, such as depression.

At the heart of it all is – COMMUNICATION.

Talking to children regularly and honestly is the best way to keep them safe. Making sure that the individual is safe online is also of equal importance.

An individual undergoes several changes during adolescence that can either make children react in different ways. As a parent, you should try and recognize these changes and trace their roots. Also, we would suggest addressing all issues, rather than simply ridiculing or ignoring them.

 


 

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Indian-American Lawmakers Slam US President Donald Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

They are accusing him of bigotry

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Trump's transgender military ban is being slammed by India-American lawmakers
Trump's transgender military ban is being slammed by India-American lawmakers. Wikimedia
  • Ami Bera is the longest-serving Indian-American currently in the Congress
  • Removing these men and women from service or refusing recruits because of who they are going against every American value they swear to defend
  • Our transgender service members deserve honour and respect

Washington (US), August 27, 2017: Prominent Indian-American lawmakers have criticised US President Donald Trump after he signed a memo instructing the Defence Department to stop accepting transgender people into the armed forces.

The presidential memorandum signed on Friday officially requested the Pentagon to develop an implementation plan for the ban by February 21, 2018, to be put in place on March 23, 2018.

Slamming the move, Democratic US Representative Ami Bera said, “If you wear an American military uniform, you deserve the respect and support of the Commander-in-Chief… Unfortunately, Donald Trump is more comfortable peddling in discrimination and bigotry, and he’s shown that he is unable to support our troops.”

“Removing these men and women from service or refusing recruits because of who they are going against every American value they swear to defend,” said Bera, who is the longest-serving Indian-American currently in the Congress, in a press release.

ALSO READ: US Senate Confirms Three Indian Americans picked by President Donald Trump to Key Governmental Posts

The directive, signed on Friday, bars transgender people from enlisting, but instructs Secretary of Defence James Mattis and the Homeland Security “to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving based on military effectiveness and lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints, applicable law, and all factors that may be relevant”, according to a White House official.

It ordered the Pentagon to stop paying for gender reassignment surgeries, except in cases that were already in progress to “protect the health of an individual”.

California Democrat Ro Khanna tweeted, “Our transgender service members deserve honour and respect. This military ban is anti-trans discrimination and must not be tolerated.”

In a tweet, Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi said that he hoped that Trump would reconsider the ban.

“I hope the President immediately reconsiders this ban. There is no place for discrimination in our armed forces.”

In another tweet, Krishnamoorthi said, “We must never abandon those who have sacrificed so much for their nation. #ProtectTransTroops”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington, termed the ban “downright shameful”.

“I stand shoulder to shoulder with the transgender community. This is downright shameful. #TransRightsAreHumanRights,” she tweeted. (IANS)

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The Solution to Racial Politics in Guyana and Trinidad

It is believed that the PNC was instrumental in the Wismar massacre on May 26, 1964

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Trinidad and Tobago
Indentured Laborers taken from India. Wikimedia

– by Dr Kumar Mahabir

Tobago and Trinidad, August 10, 2017: A noted Anthropologist from Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Kumar Mahabir has brought to attention the racial politics in Guyana and Trinidad. The article is an excerpt from a research paper presented by him recently at the First Diaspora Engagement Conference in Guyana organized by The University of Guyana.

There is legitimate suspicion, fear and insecurity among East Indians of the ruling APNU+AFC regime in Guyana. The President of Guyana, David Granger, was a former Commander of the African-dominated Guyana Defence Force under the PNC regime (1964 -1992), which is the major partner in the current APNU +AFC coalition government.

It is believed that the PNC was instrumental in the Wismar massacre on May 26, 1964.  USA non-Indian historian, Stephen Rabe (2005) of the University of Texas, reported that in the massacre, 200 persons [mainly Indians] died, 800 were injured, 200 houses were destroyed and 1,800 persons were left homeless.

Dr Kumar Mahabir

Non-Indian sociologist Stephen Spencer at Sheffield Hallam University (UK) stated: “While the police and special volunteers looked on passively, the African Guyanese engaged in an orgy of violence against the Indian community, involving rape, arson, beatings and murder” (p. 52).

Indians have no faith and trust in the African-dominated Government of Guyana led by a PNC former military commander. And indeed most Indians in and out of Guyana believe that the APNU+AFC came to power through a rigged election.

Their belief is not without factual and historical basis. The Latin American Bureau, a human rights organization, reported that the PNC “has been responsible for massively rigging every election that has occurred since the country gained independence.”

Indian Diaspora in Guyana has no Faith in African-dominated Government Click To Tweet

Indians would have no faith in the Diaspora Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs unless it is staffed by 40% Indians appointed by the opposition PPP. Contesting the 2015 election as a single party, the PPP barely lost the fight against the united forces of the APNU+AFC alliance.

The result was a narrow victory for the APNU+AFC party with 207,201 votes (50.3% = 33 seats). The PPP followed very closely with 202,656 votes (49.2% = 32 seats) (GECOM, 2015). PPP lost the opportunity to become the government by a mere margin of 4,545 votes. The APNU+AFC collation government is in power by a mere one-seat majority.

General elections were held in racially-divided Trinidad and Tobago on September 7, 2015. The Afro-based People’s National Movement received 52% of the votes and won 23 of the 41 seats in the House of Representatives. The Indo-based People’s Partnership (PP) coalition led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar got 40% of the votes and won 18 seats. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, his Cabinet Ministers and Ambassadors are mainly Afro-Trinidadians and the PP Opposition consists mainly of Indo-Trinidadians.

For the Guyana’s Government’s diaspora engagement programme to succeed, the ghost of the Wismar massacre has to be put to rest. This can only be done if the APNU+AFC government establishes a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) modelled after the restorative justice court in South Africa established after the abolition of apartheid. The APNU+AFC government also has to initiate action to take the surviving assailants of the Wismar Massacre to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Holland.

Guyana’s State polices and programmers can work only if the APNU+AFC government shares power. In his book entitled, Ethno-Politics and Power Sharing in Guyana (2011), David Hinds wrote: “Ethnic groups living side by side have always been suspicious of one another. That suspicion turns to fear and insecurity when the issue of who controls power – decision-making (political) and resource allocation (economic) – invariably arises.”

Hinds added: “In other words, groups fear domination by the other and act out that fear through choices they make both at the community and national levels…. What compounds this fear is that both groups have had a taste of domination by the other” (p. 173).

Attempts by the APNU+AFC government to entice Indian figures to give the semblance of ethnic equality is an exercise in futility. The faces of Moses Nagamootoo, Khemraj Ramjattan, Rupert Roopnaraine, Amna Ally and Ronald Bulkan are used as ethnic window-dressing.

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In Guyana, David Hinds noted: “Such leaders bring little tangible benefits to the party as they are often ridiculed by their own group as traitors. They are often forced to either endorse ethnic attacks on their group or remain silent” (p. 176).

Hinds observed that parties accept the solution of power sharing when they are in opposition, but reject it when in power. Power sharing with the Opposition is the only solution for development in racially-divided Guyana and Trinidad.

The concept of consociational democracy was developed in 1968 by the political scientist Arend Lijphart from the Netherlands. The political system is intended to reconcile societal divisions along ethnic and religious lines. In consociational states, all groups, including political minorities, are equitably represented in the political and economic arena.

Dr Kumar Mahabir is an assistant professor of Anthropology in Trinidad and Tobago.