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Hindus urge Netherlands to ban “Dutch Black Pete”

English: The helper of Sinterklaas. Nederlands...

The helper of Sinterklaas. Nederlands: De helper van Sinterklaas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus want “Dutch Black Pete” to go.

Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was time for this negative, offensive, racist and discriminatory caricature to vanish from annual traditional festivities in cities and towns throughout the Netherlands in November-December.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that “Dutch Black Pete” might be a popular Dutch tradition but it appeared to be a racist throwback to the slavery era.

Rajan Zed further said that it was absolutely baffling that racist stereotypes like “Dutch Black Pete” continued to exist in 21st century world, which should have been extinct many decades ago. Was not Netherlands famous for promoting equality? Zed asked.

Portrait of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet.

Portrait of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zed urged His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands to urgently intervene to put an end to the character of “Dutch Black Pete”. Country of Rembrandt and Van Gogh which has a long history of social tolerance and which hosts International Court of Justice should not be in the business of negative stereotyping.

Zed suggested His Holiness Pope Francis to also come out with a strong statement against “Dutch Black Pete” tradition as religions were supposed to speak against racism.

A white Dutch woman as Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaa...

A white Dutch woman as Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaas’ helper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zed urged Netherlands to also make efforts to end frequently complained workplace discrimination.

Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) is a traditional jolly sidekick to Dutch Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas (Dutch version of Santa Claus); dressed in a gaudy medieval costume with blackened face, thick red lips, earrings and curly Afro wig; often showed as servile, clumsy and dumb; in the annual parades and festivities in Amsterdam and other cities/towns of Netherlands. It first appeared in an 1850 book by Jan Schenkman.


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What exactly is Feminism today anyway?

Originally posted on Cynic No More:

First wave feminism I understand. Second wave feminism I understand. Once we get into the modern era of feminism, I get very confused.

What exactly does the modern feminist stand for? Can’t figure it out. I’ve read feminist blogs and they only served to confuse me more. Contradictory ideals. Comments on the blogs from women also claiming to be feminists saying the blogger had no idea what they are talking about. Still can’t figure it out.

There’s such radically different ideologies under the feminism banner. I’ve watched interviews with sex workers and pornstars. They say sex is freedom of expression. They are in control of their bodies and sexuality. They love their work, it’s a lot of fun. They consider themselves feminists. But then you’ll have other women who say that porn industry encourages objectification and violence towards women. They can’t both be feminists, can they? So who is right?…

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Earthpages gets a new Facebook page!

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Earthpages new Facebook page

There’s an old saying that success is like a snowball. The more it rolls down the hill, the bigger it gets. This has certainly been the case with my use of Facebook.

Since opening my personal Facebook page to the public, I’ve met a lot of really interesting people. People who I’ll probably never meet in person but who are open to relating through the web. Not everyone has that kind of global perspective. Some want to keep their Facebook page private for known friends and family. And I can appreciate that. But I believe the broader perspective will become increasingly normal in the future (it already is with musicians, who collaborate with like-minded souls at a distance).

It’s only a matter of time before mankind’s little boundaries get bigger. And I want Earthpages to be at the forefront of that change.

Funny thing is, as I get to know my new Facebook friends (whom I haven’t met in person), the whole bunch starts to feel like an extended family. Or maybe a circle of acquaintances. We all have common interests. And many post vital stories that I want to share with the rest of my Earthpages visitors.

But still, there’s a slight tension – I’ll be honest – with my extended circle, on the one hand, and my old friends and family, on the other hand. I have to think before posting family photos or divulging somewhat personal info. So far, I’ve managed the two realms on one Facebook page pretty well.

But it’s time to break free and start up a whole new page. And that’s why I’ve launched a second Facebook page for Earthpages. It’s quite new and doesn’t have many followers yet. But I am delighted that the search engines have picked it up.

This new page contains cutting edge stories and alternative commentary. It won’t tell you how I feel today or if I brushed my teeth after dinner! That kinda stuff will be at my first Facebook page, which everyone is still welcome to join. My new page, simply called “Earthpages“, is about what’s happening now. And what will make a difference tomorrow.

Check it out!  https://www.facebook.com/earth5569

—MC


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Hindus say minority rights ignored in Kenya’s new polygamy law

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 Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus have stressed that feelings and rights of minorities were not kept in mind when Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta signed Kenya’s marriage bill into law on April 29, which legalized polygamy.

Rajan Zed, who is based in Nevada, said that polygamy was not practiced in contemporary Hindu society. Marriage was taken very seriously as it was considered a sacred rite and highest duty in Hinduism.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, points out: In Hinduism, vivah (marriage) is the most important samskar (sacrament). Married couple is looked as a complete module for worship and participation in cultural/social acts. With the marriage samskar, one thoroughly enters into grihasth-ashram (householder phase), where one can attend to the goals of dharm (duty).

Zed believes that Kenyatta should have met the leaders of Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Baha’i and other minority religions/denominations in Kenya and taken into account their viewpoint before signing the marriage bill into law.

Zed reminded Kenyatta of his “core value” to “treat everyone fairly”. Moreover, Kenya’s constitution and other laws/policies protected religious freedom and Kenya needed to protect its minorities in order to attract foreign investments.

Ethnic diversity of Kenya, described as “the cradle of humanity” which showed earliest evidence of human’s ancestors, had produced a vibrant culture. With its abundant wildlife and scenic beauty, if Kenya wants to continue attracting tourists and increase its numbers, it has to take care of its minorities and project a picture of harmonious coexistence to the world, Rajan Zed noted.


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Jews Lead Nation Accepting Gay Marriage

Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released (2/26/14) a new study of a decade of changes in attitudes on LGBT-related issues which revealed a 21-point jump in support for same-sex marriage from 2003, when one-third (32%) of Americans supported same-sex marriage, to 2013, when a majority (53%) of Americans did.

The PRRI study, “A Shifting Landscape: A Decade of Change in American Attitudes about Same-Sex Marriage and LGBT Issues” found that of all the identified religious groups in the poll, Jews are more supportive of same-sex marriage than any other religious group.

Thus, 83% of Jews favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally compared to 73% of those with no religious affiliation, 62% of white mainline Protestants, 57% of Catholics, 46% of Hispanic Protestants, 35% of Black Protestants and 27% of white evangelical Protestants.

Moreover, 58% of Jews strongly favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry (a full 22 points higher than the next highest category, the religiously unaffiliated).

Amazingly, Jews are only 3 points behind LGBT Americans in their own support of marriage equality (86%).

Even more amazingly, only a quarter of Americans believe Jews are friendly toward LGBT people, a third believe we are unfriendly and 41% do not know or refused to answer the question.

Jews are perceived by non-Jews to be only 1 point friendlier than evangelical Christian churches and 6 points less friendly than African-American churches; when in reality Jews are much more friendly than those two groups.

The size of the gap between Jewish support for gays and these two church groups is a giant 56 points when compared to evangelical Christian churches and 48 points compared to African-American churches.

The Union of Reform Jews was the first national religious organization in the U. S.to accept a LGBT congregation as a member.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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Hindus find violence against European women heartbreaking

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Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus feel that something needs to be done urgently to rescue the European women as 62 million of them have reportedly “experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15”.

A report released by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on March five revealed wide prevalence of violence against women in Europe at home, work, in public and online.

Rajan Zed, based in Nevada (USA), said it is simply immoral and sinful to watch about one third of European women suffer from violence and do nothing.

Quoting Hindu scriptures, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, says: Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased. Men and women are equal in the eyes of God, Zed adds.

Rajan Zed noted: It was really shocking to learn that “33% have childhood experiences of physical or sexual violence at the hands of an adult” and one in 20 women had been raped, as the report pointed out.

Zed stressed that European policy makers, employers and religious leaders needed to wake up to this extensive physical, psychological and sexual abuse of women; including during childhood; and come up with “real and effective” ways to combat it. Zed urged His Holiness Pope Francis to strongly come out condemning all violence against women.

And unenlightened European men should also seriously rethink their attitudes and treatment of women in general and work towards bringing positive changes, Rajan Zed stated.

FRA, headquartered in Vienna (Austria) and established in 2007, helps to ensure that the fundamental rights of people are protected. Morten Kjaerum is the Director.


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Five Million Free Kid’s Books

Purim: Attack of the Happy Kids by Flavio~ via Flickr

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

You would think that Jews, who are called “The People of the Book” by the Qur’an, would have lots of Jewish books for their children.

But there are many Jews whose homes lack even a few Jewish kid’s books. This is especially true for Jews who live in remote areas or have a spouse who is not Jewish. But for them things are changing.

A recent report carried by the Religious News Service relates how more than 10 years ago, Harold Grinspoon learned that Dolly Parton, who grew up in a poor home with no books, gives away thousands of books each month as part of her “Imagination Library” literacy project.

Grinspoon signed on to help her, sending books to kids in western Massachusetts, where he lives. Then he decided to start his own free book project, the PJ Library, for Jewish kids who might not know much about Jewish values or Jewish holidays.

“I love the Jewish people,” said Grinspoon, 84, who worries about rising rates of intermarriage among Jews. “If I can bring something warm and fuzzy in the form of the PJ Library into the homes of Jewish children, then that’s a good place for me to be,” he said.

Now 9 years old, the PJ Library — which stands for “pajamas,” because many PJ books are read at bedtime — recently gave out its 5 millionth book in North America. Grinspoon delivered it himself to a 4-year-old named Jake in Natick, Mass.

That book was one of 130,000 books the PJ Library mails to homes across North America each month, for which the Harold Grinspoon Foundation pays approximately $4 million a year. Those funds are matched by local Jewish organizations in each community served by the PJ Library.

These include many areas with tiny Jewish communities, such as Zion National Park where my granddaughters, the only Jewish children in 50 miles, live.

A Spanish version of the PJ library just started in Mexico and Grinspoon wants to bring the PJ Library to Russia — a country with a large Jewish populations where Jewish children were cut off from Jewish education for over 70 years.

In Israel, both Muslims and Jews receive books; in Arabic for the Muslims and in Hebrew for the Jews.

In the U. S. many of those who sign up for the PJ Library, are non-Jews who are or were married to Jews.

The sign-up form asks for little more than an address and the ages of the children in a household, so that the library can send them age-appropriate books. Anyone can sign up online.

Marcie Greenfield Simons, the PJ Library’s director, said a new study commissioned by the Grinspoon Foundation of 20,000 American Jewish families that receive the free books shows they are doing their job.

Nearly 58 percent said the program has moderately or greatly influenced their decisions “to build upon or add a Jewish tradition to their home life.”

And more than 62 percent said it “increased their families’ positive feelings about being Jewish.”

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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Hindus want withdrawal of Roma-stereotyping Czech police coloring book

Czech Police (Policie České Republiky) officer...

Czech Police (Policie České Republiky) officer in Český Těšín (Czeski Cieszyn) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Hindus want immediate withdrawal of Czech Police coloring book POLDOVY OMALOVANKY, reportedly meant for distribution in kindergartens and primary schools.

Rajan Zed, based in Nevada (USA), said that it apparently stereotyped Roma, indicating them as criminals. Racial stereotyping should not be acceptable in 21st century Czech Republic and the world, Zed stressed.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Czech Republic Interior Minister Milan Chovanec to look into the matter, withdraw all of these coloring books and mandate diversity training for all employees of the department to put an end to all such racial stereotyping, prejudices and caricaturing in the future; which was highly irresponsible.

Zed pointed out that such negative depiction of the Roma community would send wrong signals to the children’s minds at an impressionable age, who would be the leaders of Czech Republic tomorrow. In the future, the Interior Ministry should pre-screen and monitor all such material before it went for public distribution to make sure that Roma minority was not stereotyped, Zed added.

Moreover, police are meant for fighting against the stereotypes and not strengthening them, Zed noted.

Zed argued that Roma people in Czech Republic reportedly faced violent attacks, stereotyping, racism, prejudice, growing gap between Roma and other Czechs, fear, beatings, poor quality housing, systemic employment and overall discrimination, persecution, throwing of Molotov cocktails, social exclusion, segregated schools, marginalization; refused service at restaurants, stores, discos, etc.; municipalities/towns failing to support them; and the state being unwilling or unable to offer protection.

Zed further said that the country of Franz Kafka, Antonin Dvorak, Jaroslav Hasek, and rich cultural heritage should not continue staying apathetic and silent spectator ignoring Roma apartheid. Milos Zeman and Bohuslav Sobotka are President and Prime Minister respectively of Czech Republic.


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Hindus feel abandoned over no Diwali holiday in New York City schools

Diwali - The Festival of Lights Often referred...

Diwali – The Festival of Lights Often referred to as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is celebrated by Indian communities throughout the world to celebrate the new year. Hindus, Jains and Sikhs all get involved in this festive time of year which signifies the triumph of good over evil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

The Hindu community is heartbroken over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio not declaring Diwali as a school holiday despite all out efforts by them.

Rajan Zed, based in Nevada (USA), said it was unfair to Hindu pupils and their families as they would have to attend school on their most popular festival while schools in the district would be closed on festivals of some other communities.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that this unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow. Zed urged Mayor de Blasio to reconsider his decision and include Diwali, which fell on October 23 this year, on the holiday calendar of public schools.

Believing it is important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children, Zed says Hindus do not want their children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of absences on this day. Closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and it would be “a step in the right direction.”

Zed also noted that awareness about other religions created by holidays like Diwali would make the New York City pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It would make the District look good also besides bringing cohesion and unity in the community. Zed urged all school districts across USA to declare Diwali as school holiday.

According to Zed, Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hindus worship goddess of good fortune and beauty Lakshmi, god of wisdom and auspiciousness Ganesh, and mountain Goverdhan on this day. Also on this day, coronation of Lord Ram was held, Lord Hanuman was born, Lord Vishnu returned kingdom to monkey king Bali of Kiskindha, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi married, Lord Krishan killed demon Narakasur, and ancient king Vikramaditya was crowned. On this day of forgiveness, festivities, and friendliness; families and friends get together for worship followed by a sumptuous and elaborate feast. It is also considered a harvest festival. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

The New York City Department of Education is the largest system of public schools in USA, serving about 1.1 million students in over 1,700 schools with $24 billion annual budget. Carmen Farina is Chancellor of the Department of Education.


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It’s Martin Luther King Day in the USA

About 4 mintues of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963, set to original music. When reading about Dr. King, I couldn’t believe what an incredible man of faith he was. And so kind. When whites hated him and threatened his life, he called them his “sick white brothers.” How generous is that? I’d probably have another name for them!

Martin-Luther-King-JrAnyhow, instead of me talking about him, I think his own words should speak today.

The full text of his speech can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk…

The full audio is here:
https://archive.org/details/MLKDream

And the Wikipedia entry is here: http://en.wikipedia.org…

The following is from the last speech he made before he was assassinated:

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats… or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. [applause] And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! [applause] And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!

A truly amazing man.

—MC

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