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New York celebrates World Turban Day at Times Square with gusto

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Turban Day celebrated at New York, Photo: Singh Jeet (Facebook)

New York, May 4, 2017: With an intent to proliferate awareness about the Sikh culture and tell the world about the significance of it, the Sikh community in America celebrated Turban Day. Non-profit group ‘The Sikhs of New York’ has organized the “Turban Day” at Times Square in the April end. It was a four-hour event.

Apart from denoting compassion, universal acceptance, humanity, and nobility, these colorful turbans carry the ethos of Punjab.
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To celebrate the day, people in New York have celebrated this Turban Festival on the streets and the entire city was into the fervor reflected by the festival. Not just Punjabis and Indians, but everyone participated in the event and enunciated how happy they were.

It was celebrated on April 15. It was started to raise awareness about Sikh culture and religion. Turban is a headwear symbol mandated by the 10th Guru of Sikhism- Guru Gobind Singh.

Turban Day in NYC, Photo: Jeet Singh (Facebook)

It has often been misconceived as being linked with terrorism particularly in the years post the 9/11 terror attacks. It is because former Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has been seen wearing the turban. It is donned by both men and some women.

Terms like “Dastar”, “Pagri” and “Pagg” are aliases of the turban in Punjabi or Hindi language that covers the head. It is a long scarf-like cloth wrapped around the head or inner hat or “Patka”.

Organisation’s founder Chanpreet Singh said the Turban Day was started in 2013 at Baruch College to promulgate and enlighten people about the Sikh religion and identity. “We are spreading awareness about the Sikh turban and culture. The turban is the crown of each Sikh and represents pride and valour. Turban Day provides an opportunity for those that do not wear a turban to experience a turban and learn about its significance first hand,” he stated.

Turban Day in NYC, Photo: Jeet Singh (Facebook)

Singh added that he had personally experienced antipathy during his school years and wanted to take the initiative to educate Americans that “Sikh values are American Values”.

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He said by inviting people from other nationalities and faiths to wear the turban, the event also intends to encourage them to evade discrimination and speak out against hate crimes targeting Sikhs in America going forward.

The organisation, which consists of 600 members, also unveiled a new video featuring Sikh physicians and businesspeople articulating a message that Sikh people have different backgrounds, they are not terrorists. The event also showcased cultural performances and prayers.

– by Sabhyata Badhwar. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse

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NY to make Medication-Assisted Treatment Available to all Jail Inmates Struggling with Opioid Addiction

Laura Levine says she never smoked a cigarette or touched a drink until age 35. Then the mother of five tried heroin, and she was hooked

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Laura Levine prepares to dispense drugs at Vocal NY, an organization that works with addicts, where she is the health educator and coordinator for the opioid reversal drug Narcan, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, March 15, 2019. VOA

Laura Levine says she never smoked a cigarette or touched a drink until age 35. Then the mother of five tried heroin, and she was hooked.

After some brushes with the law — petty larceny to support her habit — she was booked into Nassau County jail and withdrawal started kicking in. As the nausea, shaking and sweating grew worse, she began pleading with guards for help.

“They kind of laughed and said, ‘You’ll be fine. Nobody dies from heroin withdrawal,’” said Levine, who is in recovery and now works to help others struggling with opioids. “I would rather give birth to all five of my children again without medication than go through withdrawal again.”

More help for people like Levine could be on the way, as lawmakers in New York are considering a measure to make medication-assisted treatment such as methadone or suboxone available to all prison and jail inmates struggling with opioid addiction.

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FILE – Family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses leave pill bottles in protest outside the headquarters of Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sackler family, in Stamford, Conn., Aug. 17, 2018. VOA

States across the country are considering similar approaches amid research that shows that the drugs along with behavior therapy can help addicts reduce the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that drive many addicts to relapse.

Federal statistics suggest more than half of all inmates in state prisons nationwide have a substance- abuse problem. New York officials say that percentage could be as high as 80 percent in state and local lockups, which at any given time have about 77,000 inmates.

Drug policy experts point to the success of a similar program in Rhode Island, which has seen a sharp drop in the number of former inmates who died of overdoses, from 26 in 2016 to nine last year.

Other successes have been reported in local jails in Louisville, Kentucky; Sacramento, California and in Massachusetts.

“It makes no sense that people who have a public health issue don’t have access to medicine,” said Jasmine Budnella, drug policy coordinator at VOCAL-NY, a group that advocates on behalf of low-income New Yorkers on such issues as criminal justice, drug policy and homelessness. “In the U.S., we talk about human rights but we are literally torturing these people.”

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FILE – Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter speaks at a news conference in Oklahoma City, April 26, 2017. Oklahoma is one of at least 13 states that have filed lawsuits against drugmakers, alleging fraudulent marketing of drugs that fueled the opioid epidemic. VOA

Two years ago, 24-year-old Matt Herring died of a drug overdose after years of struggling with addiction and bouncing in and out of correctional facilities. His mother, Patricia Herring, said Matt once tried to smuggle suboxone into jail in order to avoid the horrors of withdrawal. Guards found the medication and took it away.

Patricia Herring has now become a self-described “mom on a mission” to push for greater resources for addiction treatment in correctional facilities.

“If he had been given medication-assisted treatment when he entered, I don’t know, maybe things would have been different,” she said.

With no organized opposition, the debate over supporting medication-assisted treatment in correctional settings comes down to dollars and cents. Some counties have paid for programs in their jails; others have not. A total of six state and local lockups in the New York City area, for example, have limited drug-assistance programs for opioid addicts.

Albany County became the first county in the state outside of New York City to offer medication-assisted treatment. Sheriff Craig Apple said he’s become a believer.

“It took me a while to get on board with this, but we’re already seeing early success,” he said.

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Drug policy experts point to the success of a similar program in Rhode Island, which has seen a sharp drop in the number of former inmates who died of overdoses, from 26 in 2016 to nine last year. VOA

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A state budget proposal from Democratic Gov. Andrew would spend $3.75 million to expand access in county jails, and use more than $1 million to expand its use in state prisons. Democratic leaders of the state Legislature have called for more, and advocates say they want to see at least $7 million in the annual budget.

A decision is expected before April 1, when the new budget is due.

“Addiction is a disease,” said New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat who is sponsoring the drug-treatment legislation. “We should treat it like a disease.” (VOA)