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Stress Questionnaire
Posted on 2001/2/18 22:46:02 ( 854 reads )


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February 15, 2001: The research team at the Department of Psychology at the Catholic University of America is interested in examining the ways in which people turn to religion in times of stress. They are looking for response from a wide variety of religious denominations, as well as people who are not currently affiliated with a religious denomination. Participation is voluntary and all responses are strictly anonymous. The website, which contains a series of questions, is located at http://research.cua.edu/psy.




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India Refuses Visas For Afghan Hindus In Germany
Posted on 2001/2/17 22:49:02 ( 925 reads )


Source: The Navhind Times, Panaji, Goa





GOA, INDIA, February 12, 2001: Some 8,000 Hindu refugees fleeing religious fanaticism and the civil war in Afghanistan have found shelter in Germany, but they have extreme difficulties in securing visas to India as red-tape prevents their visiting holy places or from immersing the ashes of their dead in the Ganges, as prescribed by the Hindu faith. Mr. Kewal Nagpal, who works as an administrator of a Hindu temple in Cologne run by an Afghan association called the Afghanische Hindu Gemeinde, lost his mother four and a half months back. Her ashes which should have been immersed within 10 days of cremation are in a funeral home. "I get terrible dreams in which she appears and seems to tell me her soul is not at peace," Mr. Nagpal said. But the Indian government refused to grant him a visa because of "security reasons," he was told by the Indian embassy in Bonn. Afghan Hindus are denied visas, as India, driven by security concerns has its security specialists screen applications which can take between six weeks to a year. Many Afghan Hindu refugees hold stateless identity cards issued by the German government which the Indian embassy does not recognize. Approximately 50,000 Hindus lived in Afghanistan prior to the civil war; hardly a handful is left.




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Nepal to Select New Goddess
Posted on 2001/2/17 22:48:02 ( 956 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





KATHMANDU, NEPAL, February 15, 2001: Honored by both Hindus and Buddhists alike, a new Goddess is being sought to serve in an ancient temple in Kathmandu. Selected from the Buddhist Shakya family, the new young Kumari would be assigned duties including several daily appearances to bless devotees. Many parents are avoiding the process as they want to educate their daughters for the work force, the life of the young Goddess is very isolated, and many Kumaris remain unmarried when their service ends. Tradition dictates retirement after puberty and until recently the money received was meagre. Retired Kumaris now receive about $40 a month from the government.




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Indian Firm Offers Deep Discount On AIDS Drugs
Posted on 2001/2/17 22:47:02 ( 813 reads )


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SAN LEANDRO, CALIFORNIA, February 17, 2001: A Mumbai-based drug giant Cipla Limited has attracted worldwide headlines by offering accessibility of a cocktail of generic life-saving AIDS drugs to voluntary organizations and governments at a whopping 95 percent discount or more compared to American retail prices. Company chairman Yusuf K. Hamied says he has a reason for doing this. The AIDS epidemic, he said, "is a tragedy. By making this humanitarian offer, we are telling the world, 'Please wake up.' Otherwise we are in for another holocaust." Cipla, India's third-largest drug company by sales, is offering the life-saving AIDS cocktail, which comprises three drugs -- stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine. Cipla offers three-tier pricing: $1,200 to wholesalers for a year's supply for a single patient, $600 for governments, and $350 to Medecins Sans Frontiere (Doctors Without Borders). MSF is the Nobel Prize-winning voluntary organization of doctors that gives medical care to the underserved. They get the drugs on the condition that they distribute them free of charge. The offer to MSF is below the cost of manufacture. Bought from drug companies licensed to produce these drugs, a year's supply of these same drugs can cost anything from $10,000 to $15,000 in the U.S.




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Dalai Lama Gives Advice to Journalists
Posted on 2001/2/16 22:49:02 ( 830 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 14, 2001: Journalists from around the world were honored at the International Press Institute World Congress in January with the Dalai Lama's presence. Charming the audience with his wit and humor, the revered religious leader of the Tibetan people gave his input on the Freedom of the Press. He alluded to the analogy of comparing journalists to elephants whereby they should sniff all around and investigate everything and everyone with sincere motivation. Encouraging the people of the press to practice nonviolence and compassion and to find peace in the midst of adversity, the 14th Tibetan Pontiff won the hearts of those in the audience. Many members of the press at the conference asked for clarification on the Dalai Lama's view of conversion. Reiterating his original comments, the humble Tibetan leader expressed that it is better to keep the religion you are born into because it influences your thinking. If conversion is forced, the individual never becomes a sincere convert but, if after deep self-reflection and philosophical study, the person commits to the premises of their new faith, then conversion is true, he explained.




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Tirade Against Valentine's Day
Posted on 2001/2/16 22:48:02 ( 887 reads )


Source: Times of India and Hindustan Times Reports





NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 13, 2001: A 100-strong mob ransacked a shop selling Valentine's Day cards in east Delhi, smashing glass windows and burning the cards. The attack was one of many at various places in the country following a call by the Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray not to celebrate "this shameless festival that is totally contrary to Indian culture." In Lucknow, a handful of activists of the Hindu Jagaran Manch forced gift shops selling Valentine's Day cards to shut down. In Kanpur, several shops selling Valentine's day cards were destroyed. It was in Mumbai that the Shiv Sena activists had a field day, destroying several heart shaped arches and gateways built for the occasion by shops and hotels across Mumbai. They also had a go at 'Madness,' a popular disco in suburban Mumbai and the Hallmark's outlet at the Crossroads mall. Police seemed to be looking the other way, though later made some token arrests. They don't want any major law-and-order trouble on the eve of the Indian Navy's first international fleet review beginning Thursday. In satellite townships of Kalyan, Dombivli and Thane several card shops closed their shutters, calling off their promotionals as a preventive measure.




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Vietnam Closes Two Fake Temples
Posted on 2001/2/16 22:47:02 ( 890 reads )


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HANOI, VIETNAM, February 16, 2001: Vietnamese authorities have sealed off two phony temples built to bilk Buddhist pilgrims out of offerings at one of the country's most popular religious sites, an official said Friday. The first two of 42 fake shrines at the Perfume Pagoda were sealed off Thursday, and local officials plan to close the others as well, said Nguyen Xuan Sinh, deputy chair of the People's Committee of Huong Son village, where the pagoda is located. The site has 31 temples and caves that are recognized as historical relics. The others were built by enterprising villagers in the mid-1990s to collect donations from unsuspecting pilgrims, Sinh said. He said three villagers were sentenced to probation for violating a historical site. "We faced fierce resistance from the owners of the fake temples, but we are determined to close the rest of them by the end of this month,'' Sinh said. Perfume Pagoda, 45 miles west of Hanoi, is one of Vietnam's most popular pilgrimage sites, drawing an average of 450,000 people during the three-month pilgrimage season that starts after the Lunar New Year.




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Activists Deter Valentine's Day Celebrations
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:49:02 ( 917 reads )


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KANPUR, INDIA, February 12, 2001: Attacking and raiding shops selling Valentine's Day gifts and cards, Hindu Jagaram Manch activists attempted to curb the Western celebration that has become popular among the youth in the last ten years.The District Magistrate in Kanpur has ordered Special Police pickets to be posted at hotels, markets and gift shops to deter the culprits. So far no arrests have been made.




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Youth Taught to Respect Animals
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:48:02 ( 879 reads )


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KAITHAL, INDIA, February 12, 2001: Attempting to kindle a "reverence of all forms of life," the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals has started teaching 30 members in the local OSDAV school. On a larger scale the society intends to set up Karuna Clubs in other schools in the district where the philosophy of compassion for animals will be taught. The recipients of the classes promoted by the Society will be educated, "to raise their voice against killing animals," and to protect both animal and human rights.




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Faith Funds Face Punishment Law
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:47:02 ( 872 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 12, 2001: The Vajpayee government proposes to replace the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) with new legislation which will contain strict penalties to prevent anti-India and fundamentalist activities. Under the old FCRA, it is mandatory for all organizations receiving foreign funds to register with the home ministry and file returns on receipt and expenditure of foreign exchange. But there are no stiff penal clauses if any organization is found diverting money to build institutions that act as "fronts" for terrorist activities. The existing law has only a provision to cancel the organization's registration. The law scheduled to replace the 1976 Act will propose a maximum punishment of imprisonment as well as fines for such organizations. All organizations receiving foreign funds will have to register with district magistrates and submit details of the amount received and names of the donors. It has been suggested that associations operating in the border regions and religious organizations be registered anew with the home ministry. This is to keep better watch on religious organizations which receive thousands of dollars as foreign contributions which are often channelized for activities other than those the funds were actually meant for. Reports have noted the increase in mosques and madarsas (Muslim schools) in the border areas and pointed to the growing use of these by terrorist outfits.




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Christians Challenge India's Census
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:46:02 ( 925 reads )


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NEW DELHI, February 15, 2001: Christian church authorities in India have launched a legal challenge to the country's massive population census, alleging it infringes on the religious freedom of lower-caste Christians. A statement of the All-India Christian Council said the census did not give members of the Scheduled Caste category, popularly called Dalits (oppressed, very low caste), the option of choosing from the Muslim, Christian, animist, indigenous, agnostic or "no-faith" categories. These Reuters report fails to explain the issue, which stems from the fact "reservations" in jobs and school slots are made for low caste and untouchable Hindus -- the Indian version of affirmative action. However, when Indian's constitution was drafted in 1947, Christians (and Muslims) were not allowed such reservations, on the basis that their faith did not recognize caste, so therefore no convert suffered the same disadvantages that they did when a Hindu. Of course, this is not the case, and the Christian churches are divided along the same caste lines as the Hindus. That is, a Dalit Hindu ends up a Dalit Christian, and a brahmin Hindu ends up a brahmin Christian, with separate churches and all. The Christians feel they will get more Dalit converts if they can get rid of this provision ending reservations for converts, apparently a more feasible solution to them than ridding their community of caste divisions.




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FAQ on Rama Janmabhoomi Movement
Posted on 2001/2/15 22:45:02 ( 1025 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA: February 13, 2001: As part of its campaign to spread the message about the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement, the VHP has prepared a booklet entitled "Frequently Asked Questions on the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement." It is available at the above "Source."




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Siva Sena Condemns Valentine's Day
Posted on 2001/2/12 22:49:02 ( 841 reads )


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BOMBAY, INDIA, February 12, 2001: The Shiv Sena organization in India has ordered its members to disrupt any Valentine's Day celebrations in the capital of Bombay by targeting beach and garden parties. The leader of the party, Mr. Bal Thackeray, condemns the festival. He called it shameless and contrary to Indian culture. Shops in Uttar Pradesh selling Valentine's Day cards have been attacked. This same state also recently banned beauty pageants. Quoting their intentions Mr. Thackery speaks, "We should focus on good work, good thoughts, love and harmony in our society and not let such Western culture spoil us." Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14, the day according to Christian mythology that one priest named Valentine was martyred in Rome in 270 ce. However, as with many Christian festivals, it is actually drawn from the pagan Roman festival in honor of Juno, Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses, which was celebrated on February 14. On this day it was the custom of the Romans to write the names of girls on paper and put them in a jar, then each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar with whom he would celbrate the Feast of Lupercalia on February 15. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.




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Muslims Blame India Quake on TVs
Posted on 2001/2/12 22:48:02 ( 849 reads )


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AHMEDABAD, INDIA, February 13, 2001: Conservative Muslims of Ahmadabad and Surat, 580 miles southwest of New Delhi, are destroying their television sets because Muslim cleric Mufti Imtiaz said television was the cause of the country's killer earthquake. "The mufti told us about the poisoning of minds through television, making Allah angry and causing the earthquake,'' said Abdulbhai Guliwala, a shopkeeper in Ahmedabad. "I just carried out the order of the mufti,'' he said. The idea has since raced through Muslim communities, spread in part by a recorded message from the cleric that was distributed throughout the state. In Panch Kuva, 22 Muslims brought out their televisions and destroyed them at the same time. Residents around two Ahmedabad mosques smashed their sets, and young men from the Baluchwad neighborhood destroyed televisions in public. Mufti Imtiaz's office said he was traveling through the quake-hit Kutch region of Gujarat.




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Corporal Punishment On Wane In Arkansas Schools
Posted on 2001/2/12 22:47:02 ( 858 reads )


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SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS, USA, February 11, 2001: Jim Lewis got his share of "licks" with a paddle when he was a student in public school. Now that he's a principal himself, he paddles students only on rare occasions and as a last resort. "Most principals now are far from the disciplinarians that principals used to be," said Lewis, principal at George Elementary in Springdale. He uses his wooden paddle about four times a school year and only with parents' consent. The principal was reluctant even to talk about paddling, since it's such a small a part of what goes on in his school. "It's not who I am," he said. Instead of giving licks, Lewis likes to work with the child and his parents on behavior changes when discipline problems arise. "Paddlings and spankings are usually short-term fixes," he said. Arkansas is one of 23 states in America that still allow corporal punishment in its public schools. Twenty-seven states have now banned the practice, up from five states in 1986. The Arkansas Board of Education adopted a resolution in 1993 urging school districts to pass policies against corporal punishment, saying such punishment wasn't in line with national education goals. Jim Argue, a Democratic representative for Little Rock, said "It represents a rural, male-dominated culture that sees corporal punishment as an acceptable tool of discipline." Argue said he's in the minority as a lawmaker against the practice. He decided to stop spanking his own children after punishing his young daughter one day. His daughter wondered aloud why he would hit her as punishment for hitting her sister. The irony struck him. "She kind of taught me a lesson," he said. "I don't think violence is a good tool [to encourage] nonviolence." "We discourage it," said Hartzell Jones, deputy superintendent for personnel in the Springdale School District. "But some people don't think a good spanking is child abuse. They think the Bible supports that." Many education groups and professional psychiatric and psychology taken the position that corporal punishment perpetuates a cycle of abuse.




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