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Russia censures EU’s sanctions extension

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Moscow: Moscow considered the European Union’s decision to extend sanctions against Russia, over its role in the Ukrainian crisis, “unfounded and illegal”, and will respond in kind, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

“Russia, naturally, considers these sanctions to be unfounded and illegal, and we have never been the instigators of sanction measures,” Peskov told reporters.

Moscow will act accordingly, he added, referring to the extension of the measures banning imports of European perishables.

“We reiterate, the reciprocity principle is the basis of our approach in the exchange of sanctions,” Peskov added.

The imposition of sanctions from Brussels on Russia “does not only prejudice the interests of economic activity participants in our country but also the interests of these countries, that is, interests of taxpayers of the European states”, the spokesperson said.

European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to officially extend the economic sanctions imposed on Russia due to its role in the eastern Ukrainian conflict until January 31, 2016, contingent upon full implementation of the Minsk peace agreement.

The foreign ministers of the 28 EU countries approved the measure at Monday’s meeting without discussion, as it had been agreed on previously on the ambassadorial level. (IANS)

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Hinduism Acts As a Boundary for the Spread of Radical Islam in India: Chinese Media

The article called attention to the solid impact of Hinduism in India

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Hinduism in India
Hinduism in India. Pixabay

Sep 03, 2014: Muslims in India generally stayed unaffected from the radicalization of Muslim gatherings in different parts of the world in light of the strong impact of Hinduism in the nation, which has established a mark of itself by going past a religion to end up plainly as a lifestyle and a social establishment, said the state-run Chinese media on Wednesday.

Adulating Hinduism for helping India setting up an ever lasting attachment towards the religion among different sects, an article in Global Times, titled – “Hinduism tied to India’s geopolitical standing” said that Hinduism made India a boundary for the spread of radical Islam on the global geopolitical scene.

The article asserted that-

Why does it seem that Muslims in India have remained largely apart from the radicalization that has happened to Muslim groups in other parts of the world? Indian Muslims seldom have extreme organizations compared with groups in many other Asian countries. In the southern part of the Philippines, extremists backed by Islamic State have turned their occupied cities into horrible places. In southern Thailand, terror attacks staged by Muslim extremists take place almost every week.

The article called attention to the solid impact of Hinduism, the dominant religion of India while answering the question: Why does it seem that Muslims in India have remained largely apart from the radicalization that has happened to Muslim groups in other parts of the world? 

“Like many other religions, Hinduism has its extreme side, but for the most part, its more moderate side has the strongest influence. Perhaps it is this more moderate influence that has helped establish India’s lasting cohesion and is one of the reasons that the country has not separated”

Indians take pride in the Mughal Dynasty, the time of history which was built up by Muslims, not even by the Hindus, however, there was a strong Hindu influence in that time also.

“In the long history of India, Hinduism has gone far beyond a religion to become a lifestyle and social institution. Both its extreme and tolerant sides have constituted the foundation for its relationship with Muslims and this dual character is going to exist for a long time,” it said.

The consequence of this relationship has made India a hindrance for the spread of radical Islam on the global geopolitical scene.

Also Read: How Hinduism is Interpreted by Western Indologists-David Frawley. Wendy Doniger. Koenraad Elst

The article brought up that the absence of Islamic fanatics in India has established its role in Asia and it has been thought about by the US, Japan, Russia and European nations as well.

“In the future, India is sure to continue to stand out in geopolitical significance when it comes to increasing religious and ethnic conflicts around the world. Where China is concerned, this significance should not be ignored”, the article concluded.


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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“I Was Only Cleaning The Society of Biological Waste”, Says Killer As The Blue Whale Challenge Continues to Claim Lives Around The World

Games and challenges played via social media are not a new phenomenon. The ALS-Ice bucket challenge had been widely accepted and performed by people worldwide. However, this new challenge is quite the opposite- you play and you die!

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The blue whale challenge is an online phenomenon that currently plagues the world.
The last task of the 50-day Blue Whale Challenge is suicide. (Representational image) Pixabay
  • Children around the world in the grip of an online exploitative game called The Blue Whale Challenge
  • Originating in Russia in 2013, the game is rumored to have claimed more than 100 lives worldwide
  • The Russian game has a 50 day challenge, which ultimately ends with suicide.

August 3, 2017 : Rina Palenkova (Russia) was 17 in November 2015 when she posted goodbye selfie moments before committing suicide. In December 2015, Vilena Piven (Ukraine) was 15 when she jumped off a 13 floor building. More recently, Isaiah Gonzalez from Texas was only 15 when he filmed his own suicide. These and many more children are victims of a sick mind-manipulation game, The Blue Whale Challenge.

“Yes I was truly doing that. Don’t worry, you’ll understand everything. Everybody will understand”, were the words of 22 year old Phillip Budeikin, the creator of the nihilist menace currently engulfing people all over the world.

What is The Blue Whale Challenge?

Budeikin’s Blue Whale Challenge can be described as an obscure online phenomenon that began in 2013, that makes use of hideous mind exploitation and assigns participants 50 bizarre and eventually mortal tasks that they must perform.

The tasks include tweeting that you are a blue whale using a hashtag while a different task asked a participant to cut an arm three times, and range between standard and self-mutilating psychopathy.

The Blue Whale challenge first began in 2013.
The game allegedly involves a variety of tasks that range between physically hurting yourself, slicing wrists and cutting yourself with blades and pins. (representational image) Wikimedia

In June this year, as reported by Daily Mail, Russian investigators said a 26-year old postman from Moscow, Ilya Sodorov had confessed of being an administrator (curator) and revealed that participants used to update him about their daily progress.

According to Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, suicides of 130 Russian children between November 2015 and April 2016 have been linked to this lethal game. However, officials are yet to find physical evidence to support this hypothesis.

In an interview in Russia with Saint Petersburg News in May, Budeikin, nicknamed Philip Lis (Fox) accepted to intentionally pushing teenagers to suicide.

“There are people- and there is biological waste, those who do not represent any value for society. Who cause, or will cause, only harm to the society”, Budeikin said, saying that he was only ‘cleaning’ the society.

However, he refuted claims that his game was directly responsible for 130 deaths in Russia, stating that he had only directly influenced 17 suicides. He said the others had communicated with him, and committed suicide later, however without any direct influence from him. Chillingly, he added that there still were 28 people who were willing to take their lives.

“They were dying happy. I was giving them what they didn’t have: warmth, understanding, connections”, he said.

Though the scope and scale of the Blue Whale Challenge are yet to be confirmed, reports of suicide from different corners of the world are being linked to this online phenomenon, with the latest case coming from Mumbai where a teenager (14) is believed to have committed suicide following his alleged association with the game.

Budeikin has been sentenced to three years in prison this July.

However, Russian MP Irina Yarovaya has called for tougher penalties against Budeikin. She believes the law must catch up with abusive social media trends which threaten lives of young people, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Media Reportage

The issue has caught mass attention with several national and international media outlets covering stories about it.

In May, public schools in Alabama warned parents of their children’s likely indulgence in the ‘game’. Meanwhile, police officers in Miami also released a video on Facebook, alerting parents of the Russian game’s warning signs. Lately, the issue has also been taken up by the Indian media.

 

A school in Alabama shared about the blue whale challenge with parents through its Facebook page.
Schools in the US have chosen to discuss about the game with parents to keep them informed. Facebook

Reports suggest parents keep a check on their children’s social media accounts and not bring up the subject, unless the child already knows about it.

In April this year, the Pink Whale Challenge came up to counter its evil brother, urging people over the internet  to perform 50 happy tasks over a course of 50 days to prove “that the internet can be used to viralise the good.”

Some social media outlets like Instagram have also channeled efforts to curb the menace. If the words #BlueWhaleChallenge are searched, Instagram automatically pops a message encouraging the user to seek support.

Instagram asks users if they need help.
Various social media sites are now making an effort to gauge the scope of the menace. Instagram

 

How The Game Works

According to reports, the game holds its origins in the Russian social media platform VKontakte.com, where a person is supposed to download the app, create a profile and then share a public post expressing their interest to play the game.

In order for the curators to ‘find’ you, the post must have an exclusive selection of tags like,

#curatorfindme

#thebluewhale

#iamingame

#wakemeupat420, etc who then go through these profiles to prey upon targets, usually vulnerable 12-16 year olds.

The ‘game’ as they say, then begins.

 

the blue whale challenges continues to gather attention of kids worldwide.
Children continue to post statuses and tweets from different corners of the world about their willingness to participate in the game. Facebook and Twitter.

The selected players are then contacted through personal chats by curators. In other words, no individual can willing play the game; all you can do is say you want to, and then wait if the curators pick you.

 

The Challenges

Budeikin’s Blue Whale Challenge is believed to have been inspired by the blue whale’s tendency to beach themselves on purpose before death. And the repetitive mentions of 4:20 signal to the marijuana culture.

While some tasks seem harmless like waking up at 4:20 am, meeting a ‘whale’ (can be a fellow player/administrator) and listen to music that has been sent to you, the game allegedly turns violent as the levels progress, with tasks including cutting your lips, cutting the shape of a blue whale/4:20/ some random code on your arm using a blade. The administrator assigns the next task only after the previous ones are proven with photographic evidence. If not, the player faces penalties.

The blue whale challenge is a 50 day challenge, with the last task being suicide.
The alleged list of tasks that a child has to undertake as part of the game. Reddit.

While these may seem stupid to any mature person, young, impressionist children are suspected to be falling prey to the older administrators who threaten to kill or hurt their families and friends. These threats can seem rather real to a young teen or pre-teen, who is depressed or suicidal, which forces them to continue with the tasks. By the time they want to stop, the only way out appears to be through suicide, which is the final task for day 50.

 

Exposing the Real ‘Game’ called Blue Whale Challenge

While it is described as a game, the Blue Whale Challenge is far from being one. It is not an app and one cannot find it on Google Play Store. It cannot be downloaded through the computer, or played on an Xbox. Refuting popular belief, there is no website where you can sign up and land in the game.

So if it isn’t a game, then what is it?

We will recommend you view this as a phenomenon instead – a malicious tactic to establish contact and manipulate vulnerable children on social media, in the comments section of discussion forums and on shady websites.

The intention for such a nihilist act is difficult to interpret, it sure has psychopathic roots.

While there is no physical evidence as of now to link suicides from around the world to this game, what also needs to be understood here is that this ‘game’ is not taking lives. People hiding behind computer screens, who are merely making use of an established idea, are the ones who are to be blamed instead.

What You Can Do

As it is not a ‘game’ that can be uninstalled, the only way to avoid it is to not indulge in it. Kids must be advised to not interact with strangers on the internet, and to avoid revealing much of any sort of personal information on open mediums.

While it can also not be completely ridiculed, there are a few things you can do, assuming all this is not another over-hyped internet sensation,

  1. If you come across ‘suicide’ groups or communities on Facebook, where people are asking to be found by curators, report the group.

If you notice people tweeting #i_am_whale, #bluewhalechallenge or anything similar, do not hesitate to flag it ‘Abusive or Harmful’.

You can do the same on Instagram, where the game is beginning to witness some activity with kids posting pictures with similar captions.

Reaching out to these children can also be considered.

  1. Because the ‘herd-mentality’ never ceases to leave Indians alone, if you find yourself or somebody else curious to indulge in the game, simply DO NOT. 

Seek help, instead.

Additionally, you can also reach out to suicide prevention NGOs and help-lines given below. Because even when life hits you hard and seems exhausting, or for the sheer adrenaline rush, the risk is too huge to take.

Aasra : 91-22-27546669

Lifeline Foundation : 91-33-2474-4704/5886/5255

ROSHNI : 91-40-7904646

– by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter : @SohaKala


 

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
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European Union (EU) Takes Lead in Campaign to Prevent Gender-based Violence during Humanitarian Crises

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world

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Violence against women and girls
A South Sudanese refugee and 32-year-old mother, who was raped for several days by a group of soldiers before she was allowed to leave, stands by a window at a women's center. VOA
  • Violence during times of war and natural disasters also affects men and boys
  • The EU says its mission is to strengthen awareness and encourage the humanitarian community to take stronger action to protect women, men, girls and boys in crisis zones
  • Monique Pariat, director-general for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, says more must be done to prevent gender-based violence from occurring in humanitarian emergencies

Geneva, June 21, 2017: The European Union is assuming the leadership of a global initiative to prevent gender-based violence during humanitarian crises.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. The United Nations and many human rights organizations have documented tens of thousands of cases of rape, sexual abuse and exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other places of conflict.

Violence during times of war and natural disasters also affects men and boys. So, the European Union’s Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence is inclusive of both sexes and all ages.

ALSO READ: June 19 is International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict 2017: Why Women in India are Victims of Sexual Abuse?

The EU says its mission is to strengthen awareness and encourage the humanitarian community to take stronger action to protect women, men, girls and boys in crisis zones.

Monique Pariat, director-general for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, says more must be done to prevent gender-based violence from occurring in humanitarian emergencies. She says many simple measures can be taken to mitigate violence.

“For instance, to have separate and properly illuminated toilets and washing facilities in camps. Safe access to water and food distribution points. Safe access to hospitals. That can have a very significant impact in preventing and reducing gender-based violence. We can do more also on the education to armed groups, to armies. There are a lot of activities we can promote that will reduce the risk and occurrence of these atrocities.”

Pariat says it is crucial to bring the Call to Action program to the field, adding it is there that these life-saving measures can have the biggest impact. Pariat also says preventive actions must be taken at the earliest onset of an emergency where victims and survivors are at greatest risk. (VOA)