A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘diasporas

[LINK] “How Berlin’s Muslims Are Tackling Jihad”

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Bloomberg’s Donna Abu-Nasr looks at the various strategies used by Muslims in Berlin to prevent disaffected young people from going off to join ISIS. Engagement, it seems, is key.

Security services say it’s crucial that imams and Muslim families help combat extremism in a way they can’t, even if that means they are blamed inside their communities for selling out – while at the same time confronted by growing animosity toward Islam in their adopted homelands.

“If I had to learn about Islam from the movies and the media, I would be afraid of myself,” said Mohammed Matar, 25, a university student who attends the Dar Assalam Mosque. “They see over there people claiming to speak for Islam. They see Muslims here and they lump us all together.”

From the bombing of London a decade ago to the slaughter at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, home-grown militants have long been on the radar of security forces. The rise of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq means it takes more to combat the extremism at its root.
[. . .]

So far more than 650 Germans have traveled to Syria, according to a senior German security official. They’re among an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 European Muslims, many with Arab immigrant backgrounds, who have exchanged life in a stable country for a place where dissenters are killed.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2015 at 10:47 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Parkdale tenants battle back-to-back rent increases”

This Toronto Star article by Manisha Krishnam makes for grim reading, especially since the neighbourhood of Parkdale is one of the few downtown (or near-downtown) neighbourhoods still affordable for low-income people. The effect on Toronto’s Tibetan-Canadian community is also noteworthy.

Property manager Akelius Canada applied to increase the rent at 188 Jameson Ave. by 4.1 per cent in 2014; this year it doubled down, seeking a 4.6 per cent hike. At least 50 residents of the midrise apartment building, including many Tibetan refugees, say they can’t afford to pay that much and are planning to protest outside Akelius’ Toronto head office Monday.

“The amount they want to increase, it’s just too much,” says Namgyal Lhamo, 39, a personal support worker who lives in a one-bedroom apartment with her three-year-old daughter and her cousin.

In a statement to the Star, Akelius spokesman Ben Scott said the increases are meant to subsidize costs Akelius incurred from municipal taxes and utilities, increased security measures and extensive renovations. The provincially recommended guidelines for rent increases were 0.8 per cent and 1.6 per cent for 2014 and 2015, respectively.

[. . .]

Lhamo, a Tibetan refugee, moved to Canada from a small village in India in 2010. As a single mom, she said she works long hours at Baycrest hospital, followed by chores when she gets home, often at around midnight. Making ends meet is difficult enough without the rent hike, she said, adding she can’t afford to move elsewhere.

Akelius, a Swedish company, acquired 188 Jameson Ave. and a handful of other Parkdale properties between December 2012 and November 2013. Last summer, residents from four Parkdale buildings filed an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board claiming Akelius’ decision to remove on site superintendents has resulted in neglect. That issue will also be discussed at an April 28 hearing.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 23, 2015 at 9:25 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Why Do Severed Goat Heads Keep Turning Up in Brooklyn?”

New York Magazine‘s Adrian Chen takes a look at the phenomenon described in the title. The goat heads may, or may not, have connections to any number of Latin American and Caribbean folk religions. Chen’s engrossing investigation on the ground is fascinating journalistic ethnography.

At the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street in Brooklyn, the heart of Park Slope’s tree-lined prosperity abruptly gives way to grittier windswept blocks that march south to Sunset Park and west to the Gowanus Canal. Trucks and cars speed down Ninth Street as dusty construction workers, sharply dressed professionals, nannies with strollers, and roughhousing teens hustle across Fifth Avenue, all on their way to somewhere else. Perhaps this neither-here-nor-there-ness explains why two skinned goat heads that appeared without explanation above the intersection last November remained there for days. The heads were tied together at the base of the skull with twine and slung over a light pole on the intersection’s northeast corner. After at least four days, an employee from a nearby car service knocked the goat heads down with a pole and threw them in a garbage can.

Or maybe the sluggish reaction to the Park Slope goat heads signals the extent to which such discoveries have become a routine occurrence in the area. Severed goat heads keep turning up in nearby Prospect Park. Last year alone, readers sent the blog Gothamist photographic evidence of three goat heads found in the park. (In all of these cases, the goat heads had their skin still attached.) Gothamist seems to be experiencing something like goat-head fatigue, judging from the increasingly nonchalant tone of its goat-head coverage. Pretty soon it will probably take a cow head to get them excited. “It’s New York,” one spectacularly unimpressed passerby told DNAinfo. “I’ve seen the towers come down, so beyond that, nothing really stings that bad.”

But while repeated exposure to goat heads may have inured some local residents, others have sensed an unsettling trend. Many news reports about the Park Slope goat heads suggested a dark link to the goat heads discovered in Prospect Park. “Residents have questioned whether the incidents could be connected to religious animal sacrifice,” The Wall Street Journal wrote. The specter of Santería was invoked. The Drudge Report picked up the story. The goat heads went global. As I read all this in my apartment a few blocks from the site of the hanging goat heads, I was riveted. A mysterious flood of goat heads is the only interesting thing that has happened in Park Slope since I moved to the neighborhood three years ago. Yes, the rush to blame a little-understood religion practiced largely by immigrants smacked a bit of lazy xenophobia, but the idea of Park Slope as a hotbed of animal sacrifice, in addition to child-friendly bars, was undeniably intriguing. In a city where everyday occurrences are casually weighed against the events of September 11, 2001, it was shocking to find that so many of my neighbors and I were actually shocked. The goat heads seemed to rear out of some shadow New York City that was even gnarlier than the pre-Guiliani version I’d seen in the movies, and at the edge of Brooklyn’s most thoroughly gentrified neighborhood, to boot. When New York asked me to investigate the goat heads, I leapt at the chance. I wanted to see if the world they hinted at lived up to the hype.

I quickly learned that any answers would not be forthcoming from official channels. The NYPD opened an investigation into the hanging goat heads back in November, but a public information officer with Park Slope’s 78th Precinct informed me that “no further information has been found out.” A spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance said, “I don’t think anyone in the park is going to have that much to say about it.” A FOIL request I filed with the New York City Parks and Recreation Department (for “all records related to reports of decapitated animal corpses and animal heads found in New York City parks between the years 2010–2014”) didn’t seem to be at the top of their list of priorities.

[DM] “Some St. Patrick’s Day notes on how Irish immigrants became integrated into Toronto”

I’ve a post up at Demography Matters noting how the Irish become integrated into Toronto despite starting off with very little other than the prejudice of the city’s Protestant majority. There’s lessons for us all even now in their story.

(Go, read.)

Written by Randy McDonald

March 18, 2015 at 3:59 am

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • On St. Patrick’s Day, blogTO offers a guide to Irish Toronto.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the existence of chaotically-orbiting Earths.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting that the Yucatán peninsula was hit by a tsunami a millennium ago.
  • Joe. My. God. notes an anti-gay American who claims that Obama orchestrated the Ukrainian crisis at the behest of gays who wanted to punish Russia.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the interest of Chinese in California real estate.
  • Peter Rukavina reports on Prince Edward Island’s latest snowfall.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the prospects for subways in Scarborough.
  • Torontoist notes that Build Toronto has failed to provide affordable housing on nearly the scale promised.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the dismissal of a civil case brought by a man who had sex with a minor he met through Grindr brought against Grindr.
  • Window on Eurasia observes a Russian nationalist’s call to partition Belarus, suggests that Russia has been trying to split Ukraine for a while, and wonders if the families of Russian gastarbeitar from Central Asia could fall into support for Islamist terrorism.

[LINK] “Irish town builds memorial to thank Native Americans who helped during Famine”

Irish Central’s Frances Mulraney reports about the contemporary recognition in Ireland of unexpected help lent to the Irish by the Choctaw during the potato famine.

A sculpture of nine eagle feathers will be installed in Bailic Park, in Midleton, Co Cork to thank the Choctaw Indians for their kindness and support during the Great Irish Famine.

Despite the oppression faced by the Choctaws in the years preceding the famine, on hearing of the plight and hunger of the Irish people in 1847, they raised $170 to send to the Irish people and ease their suffering. This figure is equivalent to tens of thousands of dollars in today’s currency.

The sculpture, consisting of nine giant, stainless steel eagle feathers, is currently being completed by Cork sculptor Alex Pentek. Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Pentek says, “I wanted to show the courage, fragility and humanity that they displayed in my work.”

[. . .]

In what is one of the most surprising and generous contributions to Irish famine relief, a group of Choctaw people gathered in Scullyville, Oklahoma, on March 23, 1847 to collect funds for the starving Irish people. They passed money collected onto a U.S. famine relief organization, in an extraordinary act of kindness from those who already had so little.

Just 16 years prior to this collection, the Choctaws were among one of the so-called “civilized tribes”, who were forced off their land by President Andrew Jackson (the son of Irish immigrants) and forced to complete a 500-mile trek to Oklahoma that would become known as the Trail of Tears.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 12, 2015 at 10:39 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO notes that the site of the former Linux Caffè on Harbord at Grace is set to become a retro-style malt shop.
  • Centauri Dreams reacts to the discovery of an exoplanet in the uadruple 30 Arietis system.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that the protoplanetary disk of T Chamaeleontis can be best explained by stationary structures.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes controversy over Gliese 581d’s existence.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog’s Sally Raskoff notes the complex relationship between sex and gender.
  • The Frailest Thing considers the possibility of being cruel towards artificial entities like robots.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is critical of anarchism’s ability to organize workers.
  • The Map Room’s Jonathan Crowe shares a detailed image of Ceres’ surface.
  • Marginal Revolution debates David Shambaugh’s argument of impending political change in China.
  • The Planetary Society Blog describes when we should expect detailed images of Pluto and its moons to come in from New Horizons.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog charts falling fertility in the North Caucasus.
  • Torontoist notes mourning and anger at the police reaction to the death of Toronto transwoman Sumaya Dalmar.
  • Towleroad notes a Michigan gym’s defense of a transwoman client.
  • Why I Love Toronto celebrates the new Honest Ed’s development plans.
  • Window on Eurasia is skeptical about the prospects for Russian immigrants in Europe to constitute a political force and mourns Nemtsov’s death.
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