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Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi seeks action to combat Hate Crimes against Religious Minorities in US

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Raja Krishnamoorthi, Twitter

Washington, May 2, 2017: Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has urged Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to use his complete authority in combating hate crimes against religious minorities in the US.

Krishnamoorthi made the appeal in a letter signed by 68 others.

The Congressman’s letter comes after Kelly in a Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus meeting said that there was a need for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to focus more on white supremacist organisations and hate groups, the American Bazaar Online reported on Tuesday.

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“I was heartened to hear Secretary Kelly’s recognition of the threat posed by hate groups and other forces of intolerance,” Krishnamoorthi said.

“This letter urges the Secretary to act on that knowledge and use the resources of his department to combat both hate crimes and their root causes.”

Krishnamoorthi wrote in the letter that many Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and other religious minorities in the US are living under the fear for their safety and requested him to protect their interests.

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Kelly, during his congressional meeting, said: “One of the first things I noticed from the last administration is that there was not enough focus, in my view, on white supremacy organisations or hate organisations? this intolerance is truly disgusting.”

In the letter, Krishnamoorthi pointed out the attacks on Indian Americans and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. He specifically pointed to the Kansas incident in February, where Indian American engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead.

Krishnamoorthi said the time has arrived to take decisive action to put an end to the hate crimes, and asked Kelly to assure the US people their basic rights to live freely in the country. (IANS)

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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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Internet Firms Initiate Steps to Counter Online Hate speech and Incitements to Violence

Internet companies have increasingly found themselves in the crosshairs over hate speech and other volatile social issues

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Daily Stormer
GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving joins the celebration during New York Stock Exchange opening bell ceremonies for his company's IPO, April 1, 2015. VOA
  • The internet domain registration of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer was revoked twice in less than 24 hours
  • After GoDaddy revoked Daily Stormer’s registration, the website turned to Alphabet’s Google Domains
  • Twitter, Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other platforms have ramped up efforts to combat the social media efforts of Islamic militant groups, largely in response to pressure from European governments

The internet domain registration of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer was revoked twice in less than 24 hours in the wake of the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, part of a broad move by the tech industry in recent months to take a stronger hand in policing online hate speech and incitements to violence.

GoDaddy, which manages internet names and registrations, disclosed late Sunday via Twitter that it had given Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain to another provider, saying it had violated GoDaddy’s terms of service.

The white supremacist website helped organize the weekend rally in Charlottesville where a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a man plowed a car into a crowd protesting the white nationalist rally.

After GoDaddy revoked Daily Stormer’s registration, the website turned to Alphabet’s Google Domains. The Daily Stormer domain was registered with Google shortly before 8 a.m. Monday PDT (1500 GMT) and the company announced plans to revoke it at 10:56 a.m., according to a person familiar with the revocation.

As of late Monday, the site was still running on a Google-registered domain. Google issued a statement but did not say when the site would be taken down.

ALSO READ: People who use Internet a lot may experience increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure when they go offline: Scientists

Caught in the middle

Internet companies have increasingly found themselves in the crosshairs over hate speech and other volatile social issues, with politicians and others calling on them to do more to police their networks while civil libertarians worry about the firms suppressing free speech.

Twitter, Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other platforms have ramped up efforts to combat the social media efforts of Islamic militant groups, largely in response to pressure from European governments. Now they are facing similar pressures in the United States over white supremacist and neo-Nazi content.

Facebook confirmed Monday that it took down the event page that was used to promote and organize the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

Facebook allows people to organize peaceful protests or rallies, but the social network said it would remove such pages when a threat of real-world harm and affiliation with hate organizations becomes clear.

“Facebook does not allow hate speech or praise of terrorist acts or hate crimes, and we are actively removing any posts that glorify the horrendous act committed in Charlottesville,” the company said in a statement.

Several companies acted

Several other companies also took action. Canadian internet company Tucows stopped hiding the domain registration information of Andrew Anglin, the founder of Daily Stormer. Tucows, which was previously providing the website with services masking Anglin’s phone number and email address, said Daily Stormer had breached its terms of service.

“They are inciting violence,” said Michael Goldstein, vice president for sales and marketing at Tucows, a Toronto-based company. “It’s a dangerous site and people should know who it is coming from.”

Anglin did not respond to a request for comment.

Discord, a 70-person San Francisco company that allows video gamers to communicate across the internet, did not mince words in its decision to shut down the server of Altright.com, an alt-right news website, and the accounts of other white nationalists.

“We will continue to take action against white supremacy, Nazi ideology, and all forms of hate,” the company said in a tweet Monday. Altright.com did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Twilio Chief Executive Jeff Lawson tweeted Sunday that the company would update its use policy to prohibit hate speech. Twilio’s services allow companies and organizations, such as political groups or campaigns, to send text messages to their communities.

Arbiters of acceptable speech

Internet companies, which enjoy broad protections under U.S. law for the activities of people using their services, have mostly tried to avoid being arbiters of what is acceptable speech.

But the ground is now shifting, said one executive at a major Silicon Valley firm. Twitter, for one, has moved sharply against harassment and hate speech after enduring years of criticism for not doing enough.

Facebook is beefing up its content monitoring teams. Google is pushing hard on new technology to help it monitor and delete YouTube videos that celebrate violence.

All this comes as an influential bloc of senators, including Republican Senator Rob Portman and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, is pushing legislation that would make it easier to penalize operators of websites that facilitate online sex trafficking of women and children.

That measure, despite the noncontroversial nature of its espoused goal, was met with swift and coordinated opposition from tech firms and internet freedom groups, who fear that being legally liable for the postings of users would be a devastating blow to the internet industry. (VOA)

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Five Years of Massacre: Sikh Community in US Continue to Hail Act Of Kindness

Devout male followers of the Sikh faith, a monotheistic religion that originated in Northern India, keep long beards and wear turbans, and often are confused with Muslims

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Six people were killed when a white supremacist attacked the Gurdwara or Sikh Temple of Wisconsin five years ago. VOA

Aug 06, 2017: Over the past year, minorities across the United States have increased their outreach to the public and efforts to make their voices heard amid fears of a White Supremacy movement.

The Sikhs of Oak Creek, however, were working to raise awareness of their faith and uplift their community long before 2016.

On August 5, 2012, a white supremacist named Wade Michael Page killed six believers of the Sikh faith in their house of worship, a Gurdwara, outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Mourners attend the funeral and memorial service for the six victims of the Sikh temple of Wisconsin mass shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Aug. 10, 2012. VOA

In the five years since, members of the Gurdwara have organized scholarships, blood drives, 6K walks and runs, and presentations on understanding the Sikh faith in local schools.

“My outreach is also a coping mechanism,” Pardeep Kaleka, whose father was one of the six victims, told VOA. “Processing my own pain and hurt… I’d rather just go into the community and make it better for everybody else.”

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Members of the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, prepare a communal meal for the community. VOA

Immediately after the shooting, the Sikh community increased its efforts to invite people of all faiths to come to the temple and learn about Sikhism.

But Navdeep Gill, who co-founded the temple’s outreach program, “Serve to Unite,” with Kaleka, says they soon realized they also needed to spread awareness outside the temple after members of the community said they were uncomfortable attending Sikh services.

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“Peacekeepers” at a Montessori school made this mural after a workshop with “Serve to Unite” – the organization started by the son of one of the victims of the 2012 shooting. VOA

“Whatever faith you practice, whatever community you come from, you should feel comfortable attending an event,” said Gill, who was tasked with organizing events commemorating the 5th anniversary of the shooting. “Whether that’s in schools, churches, telling other people who Sikhs are, as well as trying to learn about other people and see where the commonalities exist.”

Also Read: California Sikh community Raises Money to keep City’s Fireworks Show Alive

 Saturday’s 6K run is the 5th instance of the annual event. The blood drive was added three years ago to the August 5 activities.

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A man completes the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin’s 6k “Chardhi Kala” Run with a high five. VOA

This year, members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin had their first float in the 4th of July parade. Though organizers were initially skeptical, Gill said it was well received and prompted non-Indian neighbors to strike up conversations with participating Sikhs.

Devout male followers of the Sikh faith, a monotheistic religion that originated in Northern India, keep long beards and wear turbans, and often are confused with Muslims.

And while some minorities across the country have expressed feeling less safe since U.S. President Donald Trump’s election, Oak Creek Sikhs say the political climate hasn’t affected their community.

“Honestly, nothing has changed,” Navdeesh Toor, an Oak Creek resident and member of the Gurdwara for the past eight years, told VOA.

sikh
People gather in Lafayette near the White House, Aug. 8, 2012 to participate in a candlelight vigil against hate violence. VOA

Toor said that although hate crimes have received more media attention in the past year, which some attribute partly to divisive rhetoric heard during President Trump’s campaign and first few months in office, she doesn’t see any impact on her community.

“A vast majority of Wisconsinites voted for Trump, including minorities and a lot of desis [South Asians] I know,” she said, adding that she didn’t fault her neighbors for voting for “the lesser of two evils” in 2016.

Regardless of politics in Washington, survivors of the 2012 shooting, along with their friends, family, and fellow members of the Gurdwara, have not lost momentum in their pursuit of engaging the community.

“It’s not just about organizing 5Ks, it’s about… what we’re really being asked to do spiritually,” Kaleka said.

“I think there’s a reason [the shooting] happened, a reason those people who stood up made that sacrifice. This community has really stood up.” (VOA)