Palestinians create seed bank to save their farming heritage in the Holy Lands hills

In the birthplace of agriculture, traditional crops are dying out. But one woman has a plan to preserve them

In the rocky hills of the Palestinian West Bank, farmers learned long ago how to adapt to extremes of climate that make spring the shortest season. In a part of the world where agriculture was first practised, they found crops that could survive even if watered only by the occasional rain storm.

But a form of farming that informed both Palestinian culture and identity seeping into the language, songs and sayings has increasingly come under threat from a combination of factors, including manmade climate change, the incursion onto Palestinian land by Israeli settlement, and agricultural companies marketing of hybrid varieties to farmers.

Now, however, an initiative is being launched to save Palestines agricultural plant heritage, with the first seed bank dedicated to preserving traditional varieties used by farmers for generations before they vanish for ever.

The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library to be formally launched in June is part of an effort both to educate Palestinians about traditional forms of agriculture in the Holy Land, which are in danger of being forgotten, and about the culture associated with them.

The seed library will preserve heirloom varieties particularly adapted to the West Bank. Supported by the Qattan Foundation, the project is the brainchild of Vivien Sansour, who studied and worked abroad before returning to the West Bank city of Beit Jala.

She was inspired to launch the library after her experiences in Mexico and after working with farmers in the West Bank city of Jenin. I was away from Palestine for a long time, said Sansour. While I was away, what I remembered were the smells and tastes. When I came back, I realised that what I remembered was under threat and disappearing.

That threat came from several things. From agri-companies pushing certain varieties and farming methods and from climate change. Places, too, where people would forage for edible plants like the akub thistle have come under threat because of issues like the spread of Israeli settlements.

I realised that what was also under threat was something deeper the connection to a sense of cultural identity. The songs women would sing in the fields. Phrases, even the words we use. So it is about preserving the local biodiversity, but it is also about the importance to Palestinian culture of traditional agricultural methods.

Typical for many Palestinian villagers were allotment-syle garden plots, known in Arabic as pieces of paradise, and the traditional multi-crop planting season known as baal.

They are vegetables and herbs you plant at the end of the spring rains and usually before St Georges Day. The varieties were ones that became adapted over the years to work well in the West Banks climate and soil, said Sansour.

The project, she hopes, will preserve strains including cucumber, marrow and watermelon, once famous throughout the region, that are in danger of dying out. There is a kind of huge watermelon, known as jadui, that was grown in the northern West Bank. Before 1948, it was exported around the region. It was famous in places like Syria. It has almost disappeared. One of the most exciting discoveries so far is that we found some seeds for it. They are seven years old, so we need to see if they are viable.

Part of the project which Sansour hopes will eventually be housed in a new science centre, the Qattan Foundation, in Ramallah has seen teachers being trained in a pilot project to reintroduce students to old agricultural practices. One of these is Inam Owianah, who teaches 12to15-year-olds. I am a science teacher, she said. Part of the curriculum is the growing cycle. I was invited to a workshop of the seed library.

I wasnt even sure what an heirloom variety was. And then I understood! It wasnt just about the seeds, but about an intimate connection to our heritage. And the students started to understand that civilisation is not just about buildings but about a way of life. It was why my grandmother would save the best aubergines and courgettes for seeds for the next year, said Owianah.

I started asking my students to ask their grandparents and parents about the stories and sayings associated with the plants.

On Sansours patch on the outskirts of the village of Battir, next to the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv railway line where she will plant her own baal varieties in the coming days, fennel, mallow, chard and mint are growing wild. On the stone walls she points out edible herbs.

Other plots around have already been cleared for the growing season with a glyphosate-based weedkiller. You can see the difference, she says, disapprovingly picking a handful of wild fennel from her own untreated plot to eat. You can see how wild and lush it is, even before it is cleared for planting.

There is an old Palestinian phrase, she adds: He who does not eat from his own adze cannot think with his own mind.

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PayPal to hold all-male panel on gender equality in the workplace

Event organizers said discussion intended for male allies at online payment company to participate with women on gender issues in the workplace

PayPal will host a panel on gender equality next Wednesday to discuss gender equality and inclusion in the workplace. The panel will be all male.

Please join us for a discussion with our senior male leaders about how men and women can partner to achieve a better workplace, reads a flyer shared online and first highlighted by NBC News.

EqualRightsAdvocates (@EqualRightsAdv) April 21, 2016

.@PayPal will host a discussion on gender equality in the workplace with — you guessed it — an all-male panel.

The event is being organized by Unity, Women@PayPal, and immediately ran into criticism on Twitter and Facebook. In response the groups president, Nolwenn Godard, issued a statement on her Facebook page pointing out that the event is focused on male allies.

For this panel our intent is to bring together our male allies to work with us on inclusion. The title of the panel is Gender Equality and Inclusion in the Workplace: a Conversation with our Male Allies, she wrote. Unfortunately the full title and the intention of the panel did not make it on to the initial posters that have been subject of commentary.

Gloria Bell (@gloriabell) April 21, 2016

Just saw this @PayPal Unity – Gender Equality & Inclusion talk on 4/27 – All male senior execs on the panel??

Godard has since been asked to moderate the all-men panel, according to LaFawn Bailey, global head of culture and inclusion at PayPal. She also pointed out that women in the community are to be full participants in the discussion.

Gender equality is not just a womens issue. It will take all of us to create an inclusive workplace environment where involvement, respect, collaboration and connections are cultivated, Bailey wrote in a blogpost addressing the criticism.

As a leader in culture and inclusion, I recognize that for men to be a catalyst for change, we have to create an environment for honest dialog to occur. Our hope is that this event, which is open to all PayPal employees, will provide a different perspective and spur advocacy around gender balance.

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Ashley Madison plaintiffs can’t sue anonymously over hack, judge says

Plaintiffs suing site for failing to adequately secure data, marketing full delete removal service that didnt work, and using fake accounts to lure customers

Plaintiffs leading a lawsuit against online dating website Ashley Madison over a security breach that exposed the personal data of customers must publicly identify themselves to proceed with the case, a US judge has ruled.

Forty-two plaintiffs, seeking to represent users of the website who had their information compromised, had proceeded anonymously against Ashley Madisons Toronto-based parent company Avid Life Media, the ruling released on 6 April showed.

The plaintiffs are suing Ashley Madison, a website that facilitates extramarital affairs, for failing to adequately secure their information, marketing a full delete removal service that did not work, and using fake female accounts to lure male customers, according to the ruling.

Their action comes after hackers who claimed to be unhappy with Avid Lifes business practices publicly released Ashley Madison customer data last August.

Reuters has not independently verified the authenticity of the data, emails or documents.

Judge John A Ross, of a district court in Missouri, wrote in his ruling that being publicly named as an Ashley Madison user amounts to more than common embarrassment but noted the 42 plaintiffs have special roles in the case that require identification.

The plaintiffs are class representatives and may need to testify or offer evidence, unlike class members, those in the lawsuit who do not need to participate as actively, Ross wrote.

He ruled that the plaintiffs must either identify themselves or proceed as class members, who can remain anonymous.

The class for the collective lawsuit has not yet been certified, the ruling noted. There are at least 10 plaintiffs who are publicly named.

Avid Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Meet the woman who makes fake fingers for Japan’s reformed gangsters

Yukako Fukushima crafts lifelike pinkies to help yakuza criminals who severed fingers as a mark of contrition begin a new life

When Yukako Fukushima holds the finger to the light, there is a brief moment when it is indistinguishable from her own, real, digits. Nothing about it screams fake. To the untrained eye, it is flawless.

Soon it will be ready for collection by its new owner, one of hundreds of hardened gangsters who have sliced off their pinkies in a ritual show of contrition, and who owe their exit from the underworld and return to mainstream society to Fukushimas prosthetics.

They are members of the yakuza Japans vast network of organised gangs who are desperate to leave behind their lives of crime.

But for those who have transgressed by mishandling money, failing to repay a debt, or simply offending their boss there is a striking physical obstacle to re-entering mainstream society: the painful, and glaringly obvious, self-amputation of their little finger.

That is where Fukushima comes in. For the past two decades, the 44-year-old has hand crafted hundreds of pinkie fingers for former gangsters a minor cosmetic accoutrement that has helped them find jobs and marriage partners, and a semblance of normal life.

Amid recent police warnings that Japans most powerful crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, is in a state of all-out war with a breakaway rival, the coming months could be her busiest yet.

This wasnt something I planned to do long-term, and I was about to look for another job when someone told me that I was the only person in Japan doing this kind of work, said Fukushima, who works at the Arte workshop in downtown Osaka, run by the prosthetic and welfare firm Kawamura Gishi.

If you lose a finger in a car accident, people are sympathetic, said Fukushima, who has won two government awards for her work helping yakuza rehabilitate and reintegrate back into society. But thats not the case with the yakuza. Most people cant get past their tattoos or missing fingers.

Yukako Fukushima, who makes prosthetic small fingers for reformed Japanese gangsters, at her workshop in Osaka, Japan. Photograph: Justin McCurry for the Guardian

Her decision to continue producing artificial pinkies for reformed mobsters resulted in the breakup of a relationship and criticism from her family for enabling gangsters.

But it also coincided with a dramatic rise in demand for her services. The 1992 anti-organised crime law brought Japans underworld under unprecedented police scrutiny. Combined with the bursting of Japans economic bubble a cash cow for gangsters involved in real estate the legal challenge to decades of official and public tolerance sent large numbers of mobsters to Fukushimas door in search of a fresh start.

World of mouth spreads incredibly quickly among the yakuza, particularly when they are in prison, she said.

Fukushima will only agree to make a pinkie, which can cost more than 1,500, under certain conditions. A group set up by the Osaka prefectural police to help rehabilitate former yakuza introduces her to potential clients after confirming that they have decided to go straight.

I need proof that they have definitely left their gang, and I wont accept extra cash from people who want to jump the queue, said Fukushima, a native of Osaka whose strong dialect isnt far removed from that spoken by many of her clients. Ive had complaints from gangsters who didnt like the look of their new finger, but I wont listen to their threats, even if they come here and start throwing the furniture around. Fortunately, it doesnt happen often, and the police look out for me.

Yubitsume literally finger shortening is thought to have originated among the bakuto feudal-era gamblers who are considered the predecessors of the yakuza. Men who were unable to pay their debts were forced to cut the top portion of their left pinkie, leaving them with a disability that made them less effective as swordsmen.

Typically, yakuza transgressors use a razor-sharp knife to remove a section of finger above the top knuckle, before wrapping the severed part in cloth and offering it to their boss. Contrary to popular belief, the ritual of self-amputation is rarely performed as a voluntary sacrifice. If the misdemeanours continue, more amputations follow, beginning with the second joint in the left pinkie and, in extreme cases, continuing on to the right hand.

Fukushimas artificial finger tips, like the other body parts she makes for people who have been in accidents or suffered serious illness, are the products of incredible attention to detail.

Drawing on around 20 colours, she can create more than 1,000 skin tones to ensure that the fake digit looks exactly the same as its owners other fingers. Every last detail, down to fingerprints, curvature, nails and veins, is expertly reproduced in silicone. The fake tip, which lasts five to 10 years, slides on to the existing stub much like a lid on to a pen.

In Kobe, a short train journey west of Fukushimas office, the Yamaguchi-gumi is in the midst of its biggest crisis since it was founded a century ago and one that is creating a new generation of men who no longer wish to live by the sword.

Yakuza Syndicate Yamaguchi-Gumi Head Shinobu Tsukasa. Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun/Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Police have been warning of a potentially violent power struggle since last summer, when more than a dozen gangs with connections to the Yamaguchi-gumi decided to form a breakaway group in protest at the leadership of Shinobu Tsukasa, the Yamaguchi-gumis septuagenarian boss.

In March, police said the organisation and its rival gang, known as Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, were in a state of all-out war following almost 50 incidents since the split, including the use of firearms and Molotov cocktails.

The conflict has already hit membership of the Yamaguchi-gumi, and could send more repentant mobsters to Fukushimas office.

Nationwide, tougher anti-gang laws and years of economic stagnation have seen the number of active gang members drop to around 53,000, from 80,000 in 2009, according to the national police agency.

Fukushima was reluctant to comment on the turf wars or to speculate how they might affect her business, but said: I just hope the vendettas end soon, but with all this talk of war, right now isnt the time for people to leave. After all, a lot of yakuza behaviour is still dictated by the ideas of duty and obligation.

While a new pinkie is no guarantee that a gangster will change his ways, Fukushima receives enough letters of thanks to convince her that her digits make a difference. I hear from men who have got married and had children or found a job. Others tell me they have straightened themselves out and apologised to their parents for the years of misery they put them through, she said.

Some tell me theyre simply glad to be alive, even though there were times when theyd wished they were dead. When I hear stories like that it motivates me to carry on. Im not doing this as a service for the yakuza. Im doing it for men who want a second chance and to be good role models for their children.

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Webbed Fingers As Swimming Aids…

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That’s easier than scooping it with her fingers

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Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Fingers Are The Perfect Savory Party Snack!

We have to make a million compromises every day.

We compromise with our spouses, with our coworkers, even with our kids, in the case of this demanding little powerhouse who will not be called princess.

Thats why, when we have the opportunity to avoid compromise, you have to seize it especially when it comes to food!

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of food. This is 2016, and you might have to make a million choices a day, but no one can make you choose between eating a cinnamon bun and eating a donut… you can do both at once!

Fortunately, this more is more approach doesnt just apply to sweets; similar hybrid foods can be found all over the culinary map.

Our personal favorite is a downright sinful marriage of two classic appetizers: chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks.

Combine both snacks into one savory treat using our tasty recipe, which you can print out below!

Cook: 6 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Serves 2

  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. adobo powder
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 4 mozzarella sticks
  • 1 cup flour
  • Egg wash
  • Bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Combine chicken and spices. Mix thoroughly by hand.
  • Dip each mozzarella stick into flour until coated, then dip in egg wash.
  • Wrap spiced chicken around each mozzarella stick until cheese is completely covered.
  • Roll each chicken finger in bread crumbs until coated.
  • Fry chicken fingers in heated vegetable oil, cooking 3 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown and crispy.
  • Serve hot with marinara sauce to dip. Enjoy!

And if you cant wait to whip up this finger-lickin appetizer, check out the video below for more details, and dont forget to SHARE with friends and family!
Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Fingers 10 minutes 6 minutes 16 minutes Serves 2×442.jpg 1/8 tsp. chili powder 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 1/4 tsp. onion powder 1/2 tsp. oregano 1/2 tsp. adobo powder 1 lb. ground chicken 4 mozzarella sticks 1 cup flour Egg wash Bread crumbs Vegetable oil for frying Combine chicken and spices. Mix thoroughly by hand. Dip each mozzarella stick into flour until coated, then dip in egg wash. Wrap spiced chicken around each mozzarella stick until cheese is completely covered. Roll each chicken finger in bread crumbs until coated. Fry chicken fingers in heated vegetable oil, cooking 3 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown and crispy. Serve hot with marinara sauce to dip. Enjoy!


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GOP lawmakers point fingers at Obama after Brussels attacks

Washington (CNN)Lawmakers on Capitol Hill reacted with shock and sadness Tuesday to the terrorist attacks in Brussels with members of both sides vowing to stand by the Belgian people. But with the calls for solidarity, congressional Republicans also quickly vented frustration that the Obama administration hasn’t done enough to counter ISIS, the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the deadly strikes.



    Clinton: Toughen surveillance after Brussels attacks


“It’s critical that we look at the safety and security of our transit systems to ensure this kind of attack doesn’t occur on American soil,” Schumer said at a news conference. “I believe the administration is doing a very good job fighting terrorism but you can never be too careful.”

Schumer said Democrats want to include in an upcoming FAA bill language to improve counter-terrorism training for TSA screeners, increase vetting of aviation employees, and add resources to airports to tighten security around their perimeters.

No threat to Washington

In the hours after the attack, House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to reassure the public he didn’t think U.S. faced an immediate threat of a terrorist strike.

“I have absolutely no reason to believe there is a threat here,” the top House Republican said when asked at a news conference whether the Washington or the Capitol was in danger.

“This scene is just so horrific,” Ryan said. “One minute, people are going about their day. The next minute, people are running for their lives. This is a terrorist attack in the heart of Europe. As our countries have always done, we must confront this together.”

Ryan planned a moment of silence on the House floor to express sympathy for those killed in injured in the attacks.

Senators in Europe

Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and five bipartisan colleagues from the panel were in Europe when the attack happened. For security reasons, an aide to the senator wouldn’t disclose their whereabouts however they had spent the weekend in Poland.

“Our government has offered robust support to our partners in Belgium, and I will continue to track the events closely as they unfold,” Burr said in a statement issued by his office.

While there were sharply partisan critiques on the administration’s policies there were also calls from top leaders for Americans to stand with its European allies who have suffered greatly in recent months.

“The United States stands with Belgium during this difficult time, and we pledge to do everything we can to assist our European allies as they mourn this terrible loss,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. “Senseless acts of terrorism will never intimidate us or break our resolve. We stand united in this fight. The United States and our allies will bring these depraved purveyors of death to justice.”

“Americans are saddened and horrified by the attacks on Brussels,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Our nation stands in solidarity with the people of Belgium and we will renew our determination to prevent more senseless violence against the innocent.”

“We must use all the tools at our disposal to fight back,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. “The way to prevent attacks like this is to develop good intelligence and always be vigilant. We can and must root out terrorist organizations like ISIL, interrupt plots before they are executed and protect innocent civilians.”

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Nail Polish Isn’t Just For Pretty Fingers And Toes — Here Are 19 Other Uses

Growing up, I was rarely allowed to paint my nails. My mom considered the lacquer too mature for a teenager.

But in a world where tweens have cell phones and just about everyone has a social media account — I’m looking at you, babies and pets — what is “too mature” anymore? Not much.

Nowadays, you’ll be hard-pressed to find me without painted tips and toenails, but the colorful polish is good for far more than just accessorizing an outfit. Here are just a few ways you can get the most out of your nail colors.

1. Instead of licking tons of envelopes — bleh! — seal them with some nail polish!

2. Turn any smooth rock into a beautifully customized paperweight with a little lacquer.

3. Apply clear nail polish to costume jewelry to keep it from discoloring your skin or losing its shine.

4. Give an old necklace a new look by painting over the stones with a new hue.

Here’s how.

5. Some prefer to use clear nail polish to get rid of stubborn warts. Just apply a thin layer and reapply as needed to suffocate the spot.

6. Can’t see the buttons on your remote in the dark? Paint important ones with some glow-in-the-dark polish.

7. Easily thread a needle by dipping the frayed end in some polish. Roll it between your fingers and not only will it dry stiff, it will go through without a fight!

8. Secure a loose button by coating the exposed thread with some clear polish.

The same idea applies to screws.

9. Stop a run from getting worse by applying some clear polish to the trouble spot.

10. If your clothes are fraying more than you want them to, stop the damage from getting worse with a touch of clear lacquer.

11. Too lazy to take your car in for a small scratch? Just use some similarly colored nail polish to patch it up.

12. Keep a windshield crack from spreading by putting a small coat of clear polish on it until you can get to an auto shop.

13. Coat the tips of your matches with some clear polish before heading out for a camping trip. This will prevent any water damage but won’t stop them from starting a fire.

14. Always trying to find your ideal temperature in the shower? When you finally land on it, mark the spot with some polish so you never have to search again.

15. Take your favorite color polish and turn a boring mug into a marbled beauty — here’s how!

16. Make a marbled coaster in the same manner!

Here’s how.

17. Keep track of which key goes to what by color coding them with some polish.

18. Make adorable, customized bobby pins when you paint them with a few colors.

19. Paint the bottoms of your shoes with a fun color. You can also hide scuffs with your shoe’s same polish palette.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to head to the store to stock up on every color of the rainbow…this stuff is so useful!

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Best To Prevent Arthritis In Fingers

We use the fingers to hold and grasp objects so it is best to prevent arthritis in fingers. In this content the causes, symptoms and preventive measures would be given on how to stop having arthritis in your fingers. There are a couple types of these ailments which impact the fingers and they are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis In Fingers

You may have had wounds or injuries in the past in your fingers. In such a case it is very important to get them treated properly so that there is no aftereffect.  If these wounds are left unchecked they tend to aggravate more and cause arthritis in fingers. The joints weaknesses can also be a cause for the same. If you are well aware of arthritis in fingers you will know the symptoms and preventive measures.

Symptoms of Arthritis In Fingers

The symptoms of  arthritis in fingers include extreme pain. The fingers may also become or undergo inflammation. These types of fingers which have arthritis may become extremely weak and not able to hold things in a proper manner. Swelling can also be a major sign of warning and the fingers may become malformed or deformed as well. As is common knowledge, fingers are mainly used to grip or hold the objects so if that strength is gone it is time to worry indeed. Just like every disease or ailment has a proper series of symptoms if you keep yourself well versed you would know the signs of having arthritis in fingers.

More On Arthritis In Fingers

How would you treat arthritis in fingers? Of course there would be blood samples and other forms of physical examinations. The patient’s detailed and completed medical background is also a prime factor if you wish to cure this ailment. In case of preventing rheumatoid arthritis once and for all,  the blood tests are essential.

Next it is important to note the method of treatment. First of all, if you are having severe inflammations in your fingers take some medicines as an anti-dote for the same. You can even take a Cortisone injection into the joint of the finger. It may be one of the methods minus surgery to reduce the pains. However if the arthritis has taken on a very severe turn, surgery may be in order. In such a case you may need it to combine or fuse the joints together.  The other purposes would include reduction of pains and other malformations in the fingers.

Conclusion On Arthritis In Fingers

These are some of the causes and effects and symptoms of arthritis in fingers. If you have finger arthritis it is recommended you take remedial measures soonest possible. The fingers are even more important than the hands because they help us to hold and grip objects and write or type while working.  Malformed or disjointed or even deformed fingers can mean the ability to lose one’s source of sustenance, leave aside a misshapen appearance. So seek medical help if you see any signs of arthritis in fingers.