Swiss to vote on 2,500 franc basic income for every adult
(Reuters) – Switzerland will hold a vote on whether to introduce a basic income for all adults, in a further sign of growing public activism over pay inequality since the financial crisis.
A grassroots committee is calling for all adults in Switzerland to receive an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,800) per month from the state, with the aim of providing a financial safety net for the population.
Organizers submitted more than the 100,000 signatures needed to call a referendum on Friday and tipped a truckload of 8 million five-rappen coins outside the parliament building in Berne, one for each person living in Switzerland.
Read more » Reuters
by Dr. Qaisar Abbas
While the American silent majority has spoken lodging its protest throughout America, the so-called model minority of Desis seems to be in a state of perpetual silence. The affluent are part of a capitalist system which they cannot afford to oppose anyway. On the other hand, the disadvantaged communities of the diaspora are so isolated from the American society; they do not feel to be part of a grassroots movement …
…. The grassroots agitation against the exploitative capitalist system is challenging the powerful businessmen, financial institutions and politicians in the United States. The recent issue of the progressive journal “The Nation” reports the deplorable economic conditions in the United States in these figures:
- Twenty five million Americans are unemployed who are desperately looking for jobs
- While corporate CEOs are paid handsomely, wages of 70% Americans without college education are declining
- One in 6 American lives below the poverty line
- One in four homes, considered to be the largest asset for most Americans, is at the verge of foreclosure and eviction by banks for nonpayment of mortgage loans
- Fifty million people are unable to afford health insurance as healthcare costs are soaring
- The economy works well for the rich 1% who control 40% of the wealth
- Multinationals have conveniently transferred domestic jobs in other countries to reduce production costs
- The rising cost of education is becoming unbearable for youth and they are burdened with a record high education loans ….
Read more » ViewPoint
A new paper shows 18th- and 19th-century Ottoman rulers decriminalised homosexuality and promoted women’s education
by Tehmina Kazi
Hardline Muslim groups often portray the Ottoman empire as a magic template for a global caliphate. This is then used as a springboard for grandiose arguments that paint a caliphate as viable, and deem it as the only credible model of governance for the future. These arguments are based on a belief that the empire adhered to a single interpretation of sharia (Islamic law) for over 600 years, and – crucially – that its success was contingent on this.
But a paper by Ishtiaq Hussain, published by Faith Matters on Saturday displays a very different picture. Ottoman sultans, or caliphs, in the 18th and 19th centuries launched secular schools and promoted the education of women. The period of reformation known as the Tanzimat saw customary and religious laws being replaced in favour of secular European ones. More surprisingly, homosexuality was decriminalised in 1858 (long before many western states took their cue, and over a century before the American Psychiatric Association declassified it as a mental illness in 1973). Contrary to the claims of hardline groups, religious authorities approved many of these measures.
In terms of broader social change, the Ottomans made strong attempts to integrate non-Muslim communities. On the cultural front, it is well known that a minority of people claim that Islam frowns upon artistic expression. However, the last sultan/caliph, Abdulmecid Efendi (1922-1924) has numerous paintings on display in Istanbul’s new museum of modern art; many others were also keen musicians and played a variety of musical instruments. It is therefore clear that the sultan/caliphs enunciated a progressive vision for a secular Muslim society, many years before al-Qaida and similar groups came into existence.
Continue reading The Ottoman empire’s secular history undermines sharia claims
Shabnam Virmani is a filmmaker and artist in residence at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. 7 years ago she started travelling with folk singers in Malwa, Rajasthan and Pakistan in a quest for the spiritual and socio-political resonances of the 15th century mystic poet Kabir in our contemporary worlds. Among the tangible outcomes of these journeys were a series of 4 musical documentary films, several music CDs and books of the poetry in translation (www.kabirproject.org). Inspired by the inclusive spirit of folk music, she has begun to play the tambura and sing folk songs of Kabir herself. Currently she is working on co-creating a web-museum of Kabir poetry & music with folk singer communities in India and developing ideas for taking mystic poetry and folk music to school classrooms. She continues to journey to new areas such as Kutch, Gujarat and draw inspiration not only from Kabir, but also other mystic poets of the sub-continent [such as Shah Abdul Latif] and the oral folk traditions that carry them to us. Her earlier work consisted of several video and radio programs created in close partnership with grassroots women’s groups in India.
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