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13 Reasons Not to Worry About the Future of the Church


13 Reasons Not to Worry About the Future of the Church

The church has survived and thrived through worse problems than whatever is worrying us today

by Karl Vaters

The church is in trouble.

It must be. My blog feed keeps telling me it is.

For several years now, barely a day goes by without someone writing about the imminent demise of the body of Christ.

Everyone seems to have a different reason why they think the church is dying:

The “nones” are growing faster than the churchThe “dones” are leaving faster than we’re replacing themPeople aren’t singing together any moreOfferings are way downRegulars attend less often than they used toMillennials – well where do we begin with their so-called problems?

But despite all the gloom-and-doom, I have not lost one moment of sleep over the demise of the church. Here are 13 reasons not to worry (there are more, but I had to stop somewhere):

1. The Church Belongs to Jesus, Not Us

And Jesus knows what he’s doing.

2. The Picture Is Not As Bleak as We Think

Ed Stetzer has done some great work on this. His take? “No serious researcher believes Christianity in America is dying. Not one.” Check out his post, The State of the Church In America: Hint: It’s Not Dying, for a balanced look at this.

In fact, while the European and North American church is dealing with what Stetzer calls “transition”, the church in the rest of the world is experiencing strong, steady growth.

3. The Church Always Thrives Under Persecution

If persecution is coming to the American church (let’s face it, that’s the church everyone is worried about) it may reduce church attendance numbers and perceived cultural influence, but it won’t kill the church.

Prosperity is far more dangerous to the church than persecution has ever been. As the Puritan writer Cotton Mather put it in the early 1700s, “Religion brought forth prosperity, and the daughter destroyed the mother.”

4. Loss of Privilege Is Not the Same As Persecution

The loss of morning prayers in public schools is not persecution. Neither is the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from a courthouse.

Don’t get mad at me. I’m not saying those things are good. But they’re not persecution.

There are Christians in places like Syria and Iran who know what real persecution feels like. When we claim persecution for what is little more than loss of privilege, we minimize the real persecution our brothers and sisters face all over the world today.

5. The Church Is at Its Best When We Are Counter-Cultural

The church doesn’t hold the reins of power well. We’re better off in the role of a burr-in-the-saddle of the culture than the conquering hero on the stallion. Let’s leave that role to Jesus himself.

6. The Church Is Bigger than Our Buildings and Our Denominations

I do believe that we will lose many church buildings in the coming decades. It will be especially challenging for churches like mine – small congregations with full-time pastors and a mortgage in a big city. I also foresee massive problems for many denominations. (But I don’t need to be a prophet to see that one, do I?)

We may need to lean on our buildings and denominations less in order to lean on Jesus more.

I sympathize with those who love their church’s historic building and/or denomination, only to lose one or both. But I’m grateful that buildings and denominations are not needed for the church to survive and thrive.

In fact, we may need to lean on our buildings and denominations less in order to lean on Jesus more.

7. The Church Is People Who Love Jesus, God’s Word and Each Other

This is one the main reasons the church thrives under persecution. It forces us to turn to what really matters and can never be taken away – loving Jesus, the bible and each other.

8. The Church Has Faced Bigger Problems Than This – Whatever Your “This” May Be

We tend to magnify the severity of small pains that are close to us, while diminishing the reality of much larger pains that are further removed from us. Whatever your real or perceived church crisis may be, it is not, as I’ve seen written way too many times lately, “the greatest crisis the church has ever faced.”

There have been bigger problems than this. But the church is still here.

9. MY Church Is Not THE Church

My church may be tied to a particular worship style, theological stance, historical background, denominational identity or any of a wide variety of other distinctives. But the way I worship is not the church. It’s just my little corner of it. If the way I like to worship becomes less popular, that has nothing to do with the strength of the church as a whole.

In fact – brace yourselves – even if the church in America collapses, as tragic as that would be, it would not mean the end of the church.

Jesus has sheep that are not of this fold.

10. Maybe the Parts that Can’t Survive Shouldn’t

Anything Jesus does will not just survive, but thrive. Eternally. So I have to wonder, if my favorite form of church is dying, maybe it’s because Jesus isn’t building it?

Everything but the church itself (as defined in point #7, above) has an expiration date. No denomination, worship style or tradition is forever. Sometimes a congregation, tradition or denomination dies because it has finished serving its purpose.

(This point is not meant to trivialize the very real pain of a local church going through serious hardships. I stand with you. Like John said to the suffering saints in Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13), “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” You have my heart, my prayers and any help I can offer.)

11. The Church Is the Most Relentlessly Growing Organism In History

For almost 2,000 years of great triumphs and horrifying persecution, the church keeps going.

When Jesus builds something it tends to stand. And stand strong.

12. Worry Doesn’t Work

In fact, worry makes it worse.

13. Jesus Told Us Not to Worry About Anything

You can toss the previous 12 points. This is all I need to know.

To wildly (but hopefully not inappropriately) paraphrase Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5:25-33:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your church building, where you will worship or fellowship; or about your denomination, what decisions it will make. Is not church more important than buildings, and the faith more important than denominational creeds? … Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his church’s life or a dollar to its offering basket? … But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Whatever is of worry is not of faith.

And we need all the faith we can get.

Copyright © 2015 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal. Click here to contact me concerning reprint permissions.

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Never Settle for a Small Church (No Matter How Big It Is)

When our dreams for our church end at our church doors, we’re dreaming too small.

by Karl Vaters


1621 Wellington Road – Los Angeles, California

1621 Wellington Road – Los Angeles, California 90019
323-734-7856 – voice 213-747-1975 – fax 213-494-9493 – mobile
Chairperson: Bishop Reginald T. Jackson
Director: Mrs. Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker
CONN-M-SWAWO President: Mrs. Lula Cleckly
Clergy Family Information Center Administrator: Mrs. Ora L. Easley

July 18, 2015 For Immediate Release

The African Methodist Episcopal Church Call For Action In The Death of Sandra Bland

“The death of Sandra Bland, 28 years old, with a new job and promising future demands and requires that her treatment by Waller County Police and the cause of her death be made known. We will remain vigilant and supportive of her family as they seek the same”, declares the Council of Bishops.

On behalf of the AME Church, the Social Action Commission offers the following possibilities as we mobilize and take action to insure that Sandra Bland’s incarceration and death while in custody is thoroughly reviewed. Please see below:

RIGHT NOW – We have received word of a group holding a prayerful vigil outside the Waller County Jail. It includes Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner of St John UMC -Houston, Dr. Taylor from Prairie View, and others who want to be in solidarity and honor Sandra Bland’s life.

Hope AME Church
709 University Blvd
Prairie View, Texas 77445
Call by Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Presiding Bishop of 10th District of the AME Church for AME Church and all who will support Call for Justice

Waller County Sheriff’s Dept.
701 Cavit Street
Hampstead, Texas 77445
Call by Attorney, Canon Lambert with support of the Texas Conference Ministerial Alliance. For more information, contact Rev. David Israel Madison at 281-730-1460

WEDNESDAY, July 22nd 7:00 PM (In your time zone) PERSONAL/GROUP PRAYERS @ 7:00 PM
To join the group in the Houston area, contact the Texas Organizing Project, Dara Silverman
At WHEREVER YOU ARE – STOP TO PRAY AND INVITE OTHERS TO JOIN WITH US. PRAY FOR: 1) Independent Investigation to learn the truth; 2) Generous donations to assist the family with the costs of obtaining an independent autopsy; 3) Witness to come forward; 4) The Brand family and her church family – DuPage AME Church.

The Social Action Commission thanks you for being faithful and available.
Bishop Reginald Jackson, Chair
Sis “Jackie’ Dupont-Walker, Director

323-734-7856 – voice 213-747-1975 – fax 213-494-9493 – mobile
Chairperson: Bishop Reginald T. Jackson
Director: Mrs. Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker
CONN-M-SWAWO President: Mrs. Lula Cleckly
Clergy Family Information Center Administrator: Mrs. Ora L. Easley

July 18, 2015 For Immediate Release

The African Methodist Episcopal Church Call For Action In The Death of Sandra Bland

“The death of Sandra Bland, 28 years old, with a new job and promising future demands and requires that her treatment by Waller County Police and the cause of her death be made known. We will remain vigilant and supportive of her family as they seek the same”, declares the Council of Bishops.

On behalf of the AME Church, the Social Action Commission offers the following possibilities as we mobilize and take action to insure that Sandra Bland’s incarceration and death while in custody is thoroughly reviewed. Please see below:

RIGHT NOW – We have received word of a group holding a prayerful vigil outside the Waller County Jail. It includes Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner of St John UMC -Houston, Dr. Taylor from Prairie View, and others who want to be in solidarity and honor Sandra Bland’s life.

Hope AME Church
709 University Blvd
Prairie View, Texas 77445
Call by Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Presiding Bishop of 10th District of the AME Church for AME Church and all who will support Call for Justice

Waller County Sheriff’s Dept.
701 Cavit Street
Hampstead, Texas 77445
Call by Attorney, Canon Lambert with support of the Texas Conference Ministerial Alliance. For more information, contact Rev. David Israel Madison at 281-730-1460

WEDNESDAY, July 22nd 7:00 PM (In your time zone) PERSONAL/GROUP PRAYERS @ 7:00 PM
To join the group in the Houston area, contact the Texas Organizing Project, Dara Silverman
At WHEREVER YOU ARE – STOP TO PRAY AND INVITE OTHERS TO JOIN WITH US. PRAY FOR: 1) Independent Investigation to learn the truth; 2) Generous donations to assist the family with the costs of obtaining an independent autopsy; 3) Witness to come forward; 4) The Brand family and her church family – DuPage AME Church.

The Social Action Commission thanks you for being faithful and available.
Bishop Reginald Jackson, Chair
Sis “Jackie’ Dupont-Walker, Director




I am a millennium.

My words are unapologetic. I have participated and set my mind to be part of the WMS AND OF THE AME CHURCH. I am not pushed down or set aside because of pluralism. My Joy is not the same as your JOY my answer to everything is with a solution and not a problem. I am young ready and awake. REALLY awake. Nothing or nobody can speak for me at any time. Members of the KINGDOM do not make others feel apart. Instead of minimizing who you include, focus of the impact of the KINGDOM.

Sandra Bland Was Murdered Suicide or not, police are responsible for Sandra Bland’s death

Sandra Bland Was Murdered

Suicide or not, police are responsible for Sandra Bland’s death

BY July 24, 2015

Sandra Bland
Sandra Bland was found dead at the Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas, on July 17. Jay Janner/AP

So news broke yesterday that authorities in Waller County, Texas, have “full faith” that Sandra Bland committed suicide. They said there was “no evidence of a struggle” on the body of the 28-year-old African-American woman who was ludicrously jailed last week after an alleged lane change violation.

In related news, the Texas Department of Safety ruled that Brian Encina, the officer who arrested Bland, pulled her from her car, and threatened her with a Taser, had merely violated the state’s “courtesy policy.” The state said there was “no evidence” yet of criminal behavior on Encina’s part.

So barring something unexpected, we know now how this is going to play out in the media.

Many news outlets are going to engage in an indirect version of the usual blame-the-victim game by emphasizing the autopsy finding of suicide, questioning Bland’s mental health history, and by highlighting the reports of marijuana found in her system.

Beyond that, we can expect a slew of chin-scratching “legal analyses” concluding that while there may have been some minor impropriety on officer Encina’s part, the law governing police-motorist encounters is too “complicated” to make this anything more than a tragic accident.

Media scandals are like criminal trials. They’re about assigning blame. Because Bland may have technically taken her own life, the blame is now mostly going to fall on a woman with a history of depression and drugs, instead of on a criminal justice system that morally, if not legally, surely murdered Sandra Bland.

Backing up: It’s been interesting following conservative news outlets after the Bland case. They’ve been conspicuously quiet this week, holstering the usual gloating backlash of the “He’d be alive today, if he’d just obeyed the law” variety.

After the Garner, Brown and Freddie Gray cases, of course, law-and-order commentators flocked to the blogosphere to explain the secret to preventing police brutality.

It was simple, they explained. There’s no police corruption problem. The real issue is that there are too many people who don’t know how to behave during a car stop. Don’t want to get murdered by police? Be polite!

A writer named John Hawkins took on the subject for in a piece last year carrying the not at all joking headline “How to not get shot by police.” After revealing that his only real experience in this area involved speeding tickets, Hawkins lectured readers that “the first key to not getting shot” is to not think of the police as a threat:

“They’re really not going to randomly beat you, arrest you or shoot you for no reason whatsoever. It’s like a bee. Don’t start swatting at it and chances are, it’s not going to sting you.

“In fact, when a cop pulls you over, you should have your license and registration ready, you put your hands on the steering wheel so he can see them when he arrives, and you say ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, sir.'”

It’s hard to wrap one’s head around the absurdity of someone like Hawkins imagining to himself that black America has not already tried using the word “sir” as a strategy to avoid beatings and killings. But over and over again, we heard stuff like this from the Fox/Real Clear crowd, which as time passed flailed around with increasing desperation in search of a non-racial explanation for all of these violent episodes.

After Eric Garner was killed, for instance, a New York Post columnist named Bob McManus argued that we should only blame – the word “only” was actually used – the “man who tragically decided to resist.” Michigan’s even dumber Ann Coulter wannabe, Debbie Schlussel, countered that Garner would still be alive if his parents had raised him better, and if he wasn’t a “morbidly obese asthmatic.”

After Ferguson, it was the same thing. Editorials insisted that the solution to the brutality problem lay in “less criminality within the black community.” The officer who shot Michael Brown, Darren Wilson – the same guy who called Brown a “demon” – insisted that Brown would still be alive “if he’d just followed orders.”

But nobody yet has dared to say Sandra Bland would still be alive today, if only she’d used her blinker. That’s a bridge too far even for types.

Suddenly even hardcore law-and-order enthusiasts are realizing the criminal code is so broad and littered with so many tiny technical prohibitions that a determined enough police officer can stop and/or arrest pretty much anybody at any time.

Bland was on her way to a new job at Prairie A&M university when she was pulled over for failing to signal when changing lanes, something roughly 100 percent of American drivers do on a regular basis. Irritated at being stopped, she was curt with Encina when he wrote her up. He didn’t like her attitude and decided to flex his muscles a little, asking her to put out her cigarette.

She balked, and that’s when things went sideways. Encina demanded that she get out of the car, reached for his Taser, said, “I’ll light you up,” and eventually threw her in jail.

Video from Bland’s arrest

Many editorialists following this narrative case suddenly noticed, as if for the first time, how much mischief can arise from the fact that a person may be arrested at any time for “failing to obey a lawful order,” which in the heat of the moment can mean just about anything.

But this same kind of logic has underpinned modern community policing in big cities all over America for decades now. Under Broken Windows and other “zero tolerance”-type enforcement strategies, police move into (typically nonwhite) neighborhoods in big numbers, tell people to move off corners, and then circle back and arrest them for “loitering” or “failing to obey a lawful order” if they don’t.

Some cities have tried to put a fig leaf of legal justification on such practices by creating “drug-free” or “anti-loitering” zones, which give police automatic justification for arrest even if a person is guilty of nothing more than standing on the street. Failing to produce ID – even in the halls of your own building, in some cases – or being seen in or around a “known drug location” can similarly be grounds for search or detention.

A related phenomenon is the policy governing “consent searches.” Police stop people on the highways, in airports, on buses, really anywhere at all, and ask for their consent to search their property or their persons. Sometimes they do the asking with a drug-sniffing dog standing beside them.

Studies have consistently shown that black and Hispanic people are pulled over at a far higher rate than white people, usually more than double, even though white people are statistically more likely to have illegal drugs on them.

Add to this the whole galaxy of stop-and-frisk type behaviors, also known as “Terry stops,” in which any police officer with an “articulable suspicion” that a crime of violence might be committed can pat down and question any person.

The end of New York’s infamous program notwithstanding, there are millions of such stops every year. In Chicago, for instance, recent data showed a rate of about a million stops per year, with roughly 72 percent involving black people – and this in a city that’s only 32 percent black.

You add all this up, and we’re talking about millions upon millions of stops, searches and misdemeanor arrests and summonses that clearly target black people at a far higher rate than the rest of the population.

And if you’re continually handcuffing people, sitting on them, putting knees in their backs and dragging them to jail in cases when you could have just handed over a summons, a certain percentage of these encounters are going to end in fights, struggles, medical accidents and other disasters. Like the Bland case.

We’d call it murder if a kidnapping victim died of fright during the job. Of course it’s not legally the same thing, but a woman dying of depression during an illegal detention should be the same kind of crime. It’s especially true given our long and sordid history of overpolicing misdemeanors.

In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander described how white America re-seized control after slavery by instituting a series of repressive “vagrancy laws,” under which nonwhite Americans could be arrested for such absurdities as “mischief” and “insulting gestures.”

In an eerie precursor to the modern loitering laws, many states even had stringent rules against “idleness.” There were even states where any black male over 18 could be thrown in jail for not carrying around written proof that he had a job.

What exactly is the difference between being arrested for “idleness” and being arrested for “loitering in a designated drug-free zone”? What’s the difference between an arrest for “mischief” and an arrest for “disorderly conduct” or “refusing to obey a lawful order”? If it’s anything more than a semantic distinction, it’s not much more of one.

Law-and-order types like to lecture black America about how it can avoid getting killed by “respecting authority” and treating arresting cops like dangerous dogs or bees.

But while playing things cool might prevent killings in some instances, it won’t stop police from stopping people without reason, putting their hands on suspects or jailing people like Bland for infractions that at most would earn a white guy in a suit a desk ticket. That’s not just happening in a few well-publicized cases a year, but routinely, in hundreds of thousands or even millions of incidents we never hear of.

That’s why the issue isn’t how Sandra Bland died, but why she was stopped and detained in the first place. It’s profiling, sure, but it’s even worse than that. It’s a systematic campaign to harass people, using misdemeanors and violations as battering ram – a campaign that’s been going on forever, and against which there’s little defense. When the law can be stretched to mean almost anything, obeying it is no magic bullet.

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Self-Promotion Is Key to Career Success

Self-Promotion Is Key to Career Success

Categories: Leadership, Management & Communication Skills

Sharon Ranson, Deb Brown, and Tanya van BiesenDiligence and hard work, keeping your nose to the grindstone, will always pay off when seeking to land your next promotion or job opportunity, right? Actually, no.

This is not to suggest that such attributes are unimportant, but they are only components of success — not the end itself. Self-promotion is key, said Sharon Ranson, founder and president of the Ranson Group, at the recent Women in Investment Management Conference. Ranson moderated a discussion titled “Promote Yourself: Raise Your Visibility and Land Your Next Opportunity,” with Deb Brown of Russell Reynolds Associates and Tanya van Biesen of Spencer Stuart.

Self-promotion does not come as easily to women as it does to men, Ranson noted, so she created the acronym “PROMOTE” as a guide:

  • Purpose: You need to define what you want to achieve and what success looks like for you.
  • Relationships: It starts with relationships — with key decision-makers, peers, bosses, subordinates, career coaches, and others. In essence, expand your network.
  • Optimism: Have a winning attitude, and further, expect to win. This helps you handle and recover from the inevitable set backs we all experience.
  • Modus operandi: Every good idea needs a plan of action. How will you get to where you want to be?
  • Telling others: You need to tell others what you want to do or what you want to achieve. You cannot keep your dreams to yourself and expect to achieve them. You do, however, want to be strategic about whom you tell.
  • Elevate your confidence. This includes encouraging and supporting others, watching your body language, and most importantly, taking action. Confidence is gained by doing.

Brown’s best strategies for self-promotion are:

  • Attend and participate in conferences and workshops to raise your visibility.
  • Build relationships and networks.
  • Create your own personal advisory board for advice, support, and mentoring.
  • Find a unifier to engage with other like-minded people.
  • Build your own brand. You need to stand for something, so determine what that is.

Van Biesen concurred, adding that you should take on leadership roles when offered and contacting a recruiter for advice. All agreed that networking is important. The vast majority of roles are filled through both personal and professional networks. Go to networking events and build those relationships. Work to create your personal brand.

When negotiating your next position and/or salary, the panel recommended doing your research. Know what your market value is by getting information on comparable positions and salaries so you do not undersell yourself. The old adage is still true: never take the first offer.

If you liked this post, don’t forget to subscribe to the Enterprising Investor.

All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Photo credit: W. Scott Mitchell

Who was SANDRA?

1. She had a bright future ahead of her.

Bland was a college graduate, having received her diploma from Prairie View A&M University in 2008. While enrolled she was a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., according to the website Watch The Yard. She’d recently interviewed for a new job working in student outreach at her alma mater. Her family told ABC 7 News that she had gotten the job and was excited to begin work on July 15.

2. Friends and family describe her as a happy and successful person.

“Sandy would not have taken her own life. Sandy was strong… mentally and spiritually,” a friend, LaNitra Dean, told ABC 7. One of her sorority sisters, Alana Taylor, told Watch The Yard that “Suicide would be the last thing on her mind as she was on the brink of starting a new chapter of life: a new job, a strong cause to fight for and a thick network of support.” Her family, who she’d been visiting in Illinois just prior to her arrest and death, agree that they can’t imagine Sandra wanting to end her life.

3. She was an outspoken opponent of police brutality.

Bland often posted to social media urging friends and acquaintances to think more deeply about racism, inequality and police brutality. Her messages often took the form of video segments, which she called “Sandy Speaks.”

4. She was a voice of encouragement in her community.

In her “Sandy Speaks” videos, Bland spoke words of inspiration and positivity. She became heated at times, impassioned by her feelings about racism and inequality. But rather than projecting negativity, she sought to unite listeners in a deeper understanding of race issues in America.

– See more at:

be fearless

Beating is usually considered as violence. But there are other forms like insulting you, or neglecting you which are also called violence. You are not one of the few, but one of the many women who are battered. It is hard for us to accept that violence can happen within the family. We tend to go by common sayings. If violence is repetitive, you will need to help yourself. There are many options. You can use the law or go to the police.

What is Domestic Violence?

“I could not understand what was happening to me. I was married into a decent family and everything was fine for a year. Then there was occasional shouting from my husband and his family said nothing. It became worse and he hit me several times. When I told my sister, she said he was an educated, nice man and I had to find out what I was doing wrong. I tried very hard to please everyone but the slaps continued followed by insults and jokes. Perhaps this is my fate. I do not know what to do or how to stop this”.

Your first reaction is shock along with feeling hurt and upset. Why me? What have I done wrong? You will feel confused and as a way to set things right, you will try to appease people. It might disappear or get resolved but it might also continue.

You may notice that you are constantly on guard. Will I be beaten again? You are looking for signs which might lead to violence. You find yourself constantly afraid.

Gradually you might notice that you are loosing self confidence, becoming timid, withdrawn and perhaps loosing weight.

This section will answer your questions – what is violence? Why is there a confusion and apathy towards it? Why is it called “violence with no name?“

A Violence With No Name:

Domestic violence is defined as abuse that occurs within the four walls of a home or within a nuclear or extended family. The abuse includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic violence through cruelty, ill-treatment or exploitation by one or more members of a household towards another member.
It is a hidden violence, one with no name. We know it exists but deny it, shrug it off or in some cases even justify it. Violence in the family, it is said, usually takes place because the wife must have provoked it, or because the man was drunk or wanted to teach the woman a lesson.

Women do not mention it and men pass it off as a personal incident or as part of their right over women and children. Society as a whole sees it as anomaly that happens sometimes in some families. By giving it a name, studying it and raising it in public, this form of violence had to be accepted and steps taken to prevent it.

The first step in doing something about Domestic Violence is first recognizing it, accepting it that it is done by someone we love within the family and then speaking about it.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women estimates that …“One in three women throughout the world will suffer violence in her lifetime; she will be beaten, raped, assaulted, trafficked, harassed or forced to submit to harmful practices such as female genital mutilation. In the majority of cases, the abuser will be a member of the woman’s own family or someone known to her”


Stand in Solidarity With Us:

Wear Black on Sunday, December 14, 2014


Dear Members of The Christian Solidarity:

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus!

We are at a moment of critical crisis in our nation.  It is not a moment to be underestimated.

The ways we have witnessed and endured the losses of Trayvon Martin in Florida at the hands of a vigilante, of Michael Brown in Missouri at the hands of a police officer, of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Ohio at the hands of a police officer, and of Eric Garner in New York who could not breathe through his “choke hold” – and the harboring  subsequent questions of justice (or injustice) in the facts surrounding their deaths and in the aftermaths of indictments and/or trials (or lack thereof) – all testify to the mounting crises of unanswered injustices toward Black persons in America.  We have witnessed these things; they are in our collective consciousness; and we dare not think that they pass through our consciousness without traumatizing us.

This is not a time for the Church to be silent.

In joint conversation with denominational leaders, we have agreed to ask the members of our respective denominations to wear black on Sunday, December 14, 2014, in solidarity with the message that “Black Life Matters.”  Moreover, we are asking pastors on that Sunday to have special prayer at our altars, asking God’s presence and protection over the lives of our Black men.

This action is symbolic.  More is being done and more needs to be done.

More than100 years ago, first to the Pan-African Conference in London and then in The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. DuBois said, “… the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of [the] color line.”  How prophetic that statement was for the 20th century, and yet, how tragic it is in 2014 that the statement remains true in this second decade of the 21st century!  Racism is still very much alive, very much entrenched, and is indeed systemic in America’s machinations.

As leaders in the Christian church, we publicly applaud the participation by many of our clergy and laity who have stood in solidarity with and ministered to the overwhelmed community of Ferguson, Missouri, and who have joined the march to the State Capitol in Jefferson City.  Their actions in solidarity with Ferguson’s community are in line with the salvation history that is liberation history, evident in the instances of God’s prophetic calls when God’s people were in distress.  Moses heard God say, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them …” (Exodus 3:7-8a, KJV).   The prophet Isaiah heard a voice saying, “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3, NIV).   Even so, in the wilderness of 21st Century America, God still calls and uses prophets (with credentials and
without credentials) to stand on the lines of injustice – even in controversial times and places – and to say, amidst the injustices and oppressions of our desert places, that God is not pleased and we as God’s people will not be silent.

Join us, please, in this immediate step of symbolizing our solidarity by wearing black on Sunday, December 14, 2014 – saying to this nation and the world, “Black Life Matters.”  Symbols have power.


Executive Director, Scott D. Anderson, Wisconsin Council of Churches

Senior Bishop George E. Battle, Jr., African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Presiding Bishop Charles Blake, Church of God In Christ

Dr. Byron T. Brazier, Apostolic Church of God

Dr. Teresa Fry Brown, Historiographer and Homiletics Professor

Senior Bishop John R. Bryant, African Methodist Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop Charles H. Ellis, Pentecostal Assemblies of the World

Archbishop J. Delano Ellis, Joint College of African American Pentecostal Bishops

Bishop Neil Ellis, Global United Fellowship

Dr. Cynthia Hale and Dr. Otis Moss, III, United Church of Christ

Bishop T. D. Jakes, Potter’s House of Dallas, TX

Executive Director Carlos Malave, Christian Churches Together

Presiding Bishop Paul Morton and Presiding Bishop-Elect Joseph Walker, Full Gospel Baptist  Church

President James C. Perkins, Progressive National Baptist Convention

Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Dr. Barbara Williams Skinner, Skinner Leadership Institute
President Samuel E. Tolbert, Jr., National Baptist Convention of America

Indian Siddis: African Descendants with Indian Admixture – (A.M.E.C.)

The Siddis (Afro-Indians) are a tribal population whose members live in coastal Karnataka, Gujarat, and in some parts of Andhra Pradesh. Historical records indicate that the Portuguese brought the Siddis to India from Africa about 300–500 years ago; however, there is little information about their more precise ancestral origins. Here, we perform a genome-wide survey to understand the population history of the Siddis. Using hundreds of thousands of autosomal markers, we show that they have inherited ancestry from Africans, Indians, and possibly Europeans (Portuguese). Additionally, analyses of the uniparental (Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA) markers indicate that the Siddis trace their ancestry to Bantu speakers from sub-Saharan Africa. We estimate that the admixture between the African ancestors of the Siddis and neighboring South Asian groups probably occurred in the past eight generations (∼200 years ago), consistent with historical records.

Main Text

Siddis, or Habshis, are a unique tribe that has African ancestry and lives in South Asia. They are mainly found in three Indian states—Gujarat, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh—and according to the latest census, their total population size is about 0.25 million.1 The first documented record of Siddis in India dates to 1100 AD, when the Siddis settled in Western India.2 and 3 By the thirteenth century, substantial numbers of Siddis were being imported by the Nawabs and the Sultans of India to serve as soldiers and slaves. The major influx of Siddis occurred during the 17th–19th centuries, when the Portuguese brought them as slaves to India.2Previous genetic studies have shown that the Siddis have ancestry from up to three continental groups: Africans, Europeans, and South Asians.2, 4 and 5 Some genetic studies have suggested that they are most closely related to Africans.3 and 6 However, the specific African group to which the Siddis trace their ancestry remains unknown. To obtain a high-resolution genome-wide perspective of ancestry, we analyzed data from three Siddi groups (from Karnataka and Gujarat) by genotyping them with ∼850,000 autosomal and sex-linked markers. Applying statistical methods, we have estimated the contributions of various continental ancestries to the Siddis genome and investigated the likely source of the ancestral populations and the timing of the admixture events.

Blood samples (about 10 ml from each individual) were collected from Gujarat and Karnataka in India. Specifically, we collected samples from 60 Siddis (unrelated and healthy males) and 90 individuals belonging to the nearby tribal populations (Charan and Bharwad) of the Junagarh district of Gujarat and from 94 Siddis (65 males and 29 females) and 178 individuals belonging to neighboring tribal populations (Medar, Gram Vokkal, Kare Vokkal, and Korova) from the Uttara Kannad district of Karnataka. Informed written consent was obtained from all the donors. This project was approved by the Institutional Ethical Committee of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India. We genotyped 16 Siddi samples on Affymetrix (SNP 6.0) arrays by using standard protocols. We removed four duplicate samples and restricted the analysis to SNPs that had <5% missing data (846,418 SNPs). Two merged datasets were created for further analysis. Dataset I contained Siddi data that were merged with data from the International Haplotype Map (HapMap) phase 37 (n = 1,115 samples from 11 populations genotyped on an Illumina 1M array) and the India Project (n = 132 individuals from 25 groups genotyped on an Affymetrix 6.0 array). The merged dataset contained 574,197 SNPs. Dataset I was used for the principal-components analysis reported in Figure 1. Dataset II contained the Siddi data merged with three other datasets: the Population Reference Sample (POPRES)8 (n = 3,845 samples from 37 populations genotyped on an Affymetrix 500K array), the International Haplotype Map (HapMap) phase 37 (n = 1,115 samples from 11 populations genotyped on an Illumina 1M array), and the India Project9 (n = 132 individuals from 25 groups genotyped on an Affymetrix 6.0 array). The merged dataset contained 257,840 SNPs. Dataset II was used for estimating the admixture proportions and dates of admixture.

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Figure 1.

African Ancestries in Siddis

(A) Principal-components analysis of three Siddi groups, HapMap Phase 3 populations (CEU, YRI, and CHB), and 16 Indian groups.

(B) Schematic representation of the proportions of African and ICP ancestry in Siddis. ICP includes the 16 Indian groups and Portuguese and represents the ancestral non-African population.

To explore patterns of population structure in the Siddis and to test their genetic affinity to other groups worldwide, we analyzed autosomal data from 12 individuals from three Siddi groups (six individuals from Karnataka and six individuals from Gujarat), 128 individuals from 16 Indian groups (Mala, Madiga, Kurumba, Bhil, Kamsali, Satnami, Vysya, Naidu, Lodi, Tharu, Velama, Srivastava, Meghaval, Vaish, Kashmiri Pandit, and Hallaki), and 300 individuals from three HapMap populations (Yoruba from Ibadan, Nigeria [YRI], Utah residents with Northern and Western European ancestry [CEU], and Han Chinese from Beijing, China [CHB]).7 and 9 The 16 Indian groups were chosen because they spanned a high degree of diversity within India. It had been previously shown that most Indian populations have ancestry from two highly divergent groups: an Ancestral North Indian (ANI) population that is closely related to West Eurasians and an Ancestral South Indian (ASI) population that is not related to any population outside India. The ANI ancestry proportion lies within the range of 39%–71% across the 16 groups chosen.9 The ANI and ASI have been inferred to be highly differentiated at the time that they mixed, and Reich et al. (2009)9 estimated that the average allele frequency differentiation, FST (ANI, ASI), is ∼0.09.

We performed principal-components analysis (PCA) on the autosomal SNP data with the EIGENSOFT software.10 A plot of the first and second principal components (PCs) suggests that the Siddis have ancestry from Africans as well as Eurasians (Figure 1A). Like other Indian populations, Siddis have both ANI and ASI ancestry, but they lie off the main cline of ANI-ASI admixture and are closely related to African individuals (Figure 1A). The average allele frequency differentiation between the two Siddi groups (Karnataka and Gujarat) is relatively high; FST (Siddi_Karnataka-1, Siddi_Gujarat) = 0.02 (Table S1), suggesting that the populations differ substantially, possibly as a result of endogamy, different ancestral origins, or admixture with different local South Asian groups. However, the diversity in the Siddis is not correlated with geography in our small sample; the individuals from the Karnataka-2 group are genetically closer to the Gujarat Siddis (FST[Siddi_Karnataka-2, Siddi_Gujarat] = 0.002) than to the other group from Karnataka (FST [Siddi_Karnataka-1, Siddi_Karnataka-2] = 0.026) (Table S1, available online). This suggests that the members of Karnataka2 might be recent migrants from Gujarat or that the ancestors of one of the Karnataka samples might have experienced a very strong recent founder event.

Previous genetic studies with traditional biochemical and autosomal markers have suggested that the Siddis have ancestry from up to three distinct ancestral groups: Africans, Indians, and Europeans.3 and 6 To formally test whether the Siddis have ancestry from each of these three ancestral populations, we used a regression method proposed by Patterson et al. (2010).11 This method allowed us to model the allele frequency of the admixed Siddis as a linear combination of the allele frequencies in the ancestral populations and to build optimal models with and without each ancestral population and then compute the error between our model and the data. For example, to test whether the Siddis contain genetic admixture from Africans, we built two models with the data; one included Africans as the ancestral population, and another excluded Africans from the model. Applying this method to the Siddi Gujarat samples, we observed that there is strong evidence that the Siddis have African ancestry (Z score >> 25), but the genetic variation in Africans does not fully explain the underlying genetic data in the Siddis (Table S2A). Next, we assessed whether a two-way model or three-way mixture model provides a better fit to the data. Table S2B shows that a two-way model of African + Portuguese or African + Mala (or any other group that has high ASI ancestry) provides a poor fit to the data. However, the model of African + Vaish (or any other group that has high ANI ancestry) provides just as good a fit to the data as a three-way model of African + any Indian population + Portuguese (Table S2B). This suggests that the Siddis have some West-Eurasian-related (ANI or Portuguese) ancestry, in addition to their African and ASI ancestry. However, the size of our dataset prevents our methods from being sensitive enough to differentiate between ANI and Portuguese ancestry. To represent the ancestral non-African population of the Siddis, we combined the data from 16 Indian groups and the Portuguese (“ICP”). To test the robustness of our models, we analyzed Siddi Karnataka samples with the models built from the Siddi Gujarat samples and showed that the models provided a good fit to the data (Table S2C).

Applying the regression-style method to all three Siddi groups with YRI and ICP as the ancestral populations, we estimated that the Siddis have on average ∼67% African ancestry (Table 1). We obtained qualitatively similar results when we used East Africans (HapMap Luhya [LWK]) in place of YRI (Table 1 and Table S2D).

Table 1.Estimation of Ancestry Proportions in the Siddis

African Ancestry Non-African Ancestry
African Ancestral Population = West Africans (YRI)
Siddi_Gujarat 66.90% ± 0.59% 33.10% ± 0.59%
Siddi_Karnataka-1 70.90% ± 0.65% 29.10% ± 0.65%
Siddi_Karnataka-2 62.30% ± 0.99% 37.70% ± 0.99%
African Ancestral Population = East Africans (LWK)
Siddi_Gujarat 70.50% ± 0.66% 29.50% ± 0.66%
Siddi_Karnataka-1 74.40% ± 0.71% 25.60% ± 0.71%
Siddi_Karnataka-2 64.80% ± 1.11% 35.20% ± 1.11%
Admixture proportion estimates are based on a regression-style method11 for which the ancestral populations shown in the table were used. ICP includes combined data from 16 Indian groups and the Portuguese and represents the ancestral non-African population.

To characterize the temporal impact of admixture and to develop a historical interpretation of the results, we needed not only to qualitatively demonstrate a history of admixture but also to quantitatively estimate a date for the admixture event. We applied the ROLLOFF method, 12 which utilizes information related to admixture linkage disequilibrium (LD) to estimate the time since admixture. This method capitalizes on the fact that the genome of an admixed population contains chromosomal segments from ancestral populations, whose length is inversely proportional to the date of admixture. By modeling the decay of the LD in the admixed individuals and weighting it by the allele frequency differentiation in the ancestral populations (such that the statistics are only sensitive to admixture LD), we can precisely estimate the time since the admixture event. Simulations have suggested that this method is robust for data from poor surrogates of ancestral populations and can estimate the date of admixture up to 300 generations ago. 12

Applying ROLLOFF to the Siddis (combining data from all three groups—Siddi_Karnataka-1, Siddi_Karnataka-2, and Siddi_Gujarat—to increase the power), we observed an approximately exponential decay of the weighted correlation with distance, which provides strong evidence of admixture ( Figure 2). By using the least-squares method to fit an exponential distribution to this pattern, we estimated an average date of ∼eight generations, or 200 years (if one assumes a generation size of 25 years 13). This approximately coincides with the historical date of arrival of most African ancestors of the Siddis to India. To show that combining the data from the admixed group does not substantially change the results, we ran ROLLOFFseparately for each admixed group and obtained qualitatively similar results (within two standard errors) for Siddi_Gujarat and Siddi_Karnataka-1. Because of the limited number of samples, we were not able to perform analysis for the Siddi_Karnataka-2 group (ROLLOFF analysis requires at least four samples). In addition, changing the African ancestral group to East African Luhya did not change the estimated date of admixture (Figure S1).

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Figure 2.

ROLLOFF Analysis of Siddis

We analyzed 12 Siddi samples from Karnataka and Gujarat and estimated admixture linkage disequilibrium by computing the LD between all pairs of markers and weighting it by the frequency differentiation between the ancestral populations (YRI and ICP). We observed an approximately exponential decay of LD with distance and found an average estimated date of admixture of 8 ± 1 generations. This corresponds to a time of around 200 years (if we assume a generation interval of 25 years). The estimated dates of admixture for Siddi_Karnataka-1 and Siddi_Gujarat are 6 ± 1 and 8 ± 1 generations, respectively. Standard errors were computed with a weighted block jackknife as described in Moorjani et al.12

To gain insight into the most likely source of the African ancestry in Siddis, we examined paternally inherited Y-chromosomal biallelic markers as well as maternally inherited mtDNA markers. Analysis of data from uniparentally inherited markers can provide information about population genetic relatedness, including probable ancestral source populations and information related to admixture events. We genotyped 32 Y-chromosomal biallelic markers (viz. M94, M60, M182, M168, M130, M145, M96, M75, M2, M89, M82, M304, M172, M9, M70, M11, M45, M207, M173, M17, M124, M201, M170, M70, M147, M189, M214, M52, M33, M356, P36, and P2) in 125 Siddis and 268 individuals (all males) from nearby Indian groups. We combined our data with published data from 2,301 individuals belonging to 56 different groups from the African subcontinent and 667 individuals from 16 populations from Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra-Pradesh in India (Document S2).14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26

We observed that the Y-chromosomal haplogroups B2-M182 and E1b1a-M2, which are characteristic of African ancestry, were present at high frequencies in the Siddis but not in other Indians. Moreover, about 70% of the Siddi male lineages fall into haplogroups generally characteristic of African populations (Figure 3A), thus confirming the results from the autosomal DNA markers (Figure 1B). The remaining 30% were C-M130- and M89-derived Indian or Near-Eastern lineages (H1a-M82, H2-Apt-H2, J2-M172, L-M11, and P-M45). The populations neighboring the Siddis were found to harbor only these Asian-specific haplogroups. It is interesting to note that none of the African paternal lineages were observed among the neighboring Indian groups, whereas Indian-specific lineages were detected in Siddi individuals. This suggests primarily unidirectional paternal gene flow from Indian populations to the Siddis (Figure 2B).

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Figure 3.

Y-Chromosomal and mtDNA Haplogroups in Siddis

(A) Y-chromosomal haplogroup frequencies in the populations analyzed. Abbreviations are as follows: SG, Siddis from Gujarat; CH, Charan; BH, Bharwad; SK, Siddis from Karnataka; MD, Medar; GV, Gram Vokkal; KR, Korova; and KV, Kare Vokkal. The African-specific B and E1b1a haplogroups in India were found exclusively among the Siddi population.

(B) Distribution of mtDNA haplogroups in Siddis. Details of diagnostic mutations that define haplogroups are shown in Figure S5.

To learn more about the source of the African paternal lineages, we performed PCA with a merge of our Y-chromosomal dataset (Siddis and neighboring Indian groups) with data from 2,301 individuals from 56 African populations (Document S2). A plot of the first and second PCs showed that the Siddis cluster with Bantu-speaking populations of sub-Saharan Africa (Figure S2A). Previous studies have proposed that the E3a (currently known as E1b1a), E2, and B2 haplogroups are associated with the Bantu expansions within Africa.21, 22 and 27 The presence of these haplogroups in the Siddis suggests that their ancestors might have been part of this expansion. To investigate this possibility, we typed 17 Y-STRs by using multiplex PCR and the Y-filer kit (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, USA) in reaction volumes of 10 μl with 1U of AmpliTaq Gold DNA polymerase (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, USA), 10 mM Tris-HCl (pH 8.3), 50 mM KCl, 1.5 mM MgCl2, 250 μM dNTPs, 3.0 μM of each primer (forward primers were fluorescently labeled), and 1 ng of DNA template. Thermal cycling conditions were as follows: (1) 95°C for 11 min, (2) 30 cycles as follows: 94°C for 1 min, 61°C for 1 min, and 72°C for 1 min, (3) 60°C for 80 min, and (4) 25°C hold. The PCR amplicons along with GS500 LIZ (as a size standard) were run in the ABI 3730 DNA Analyzer (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, USA). The raw data were analyzed with the GeneMapper v4.0 software program (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, US).

We excluded two DYS385 loci from the current analyses because they could not be distinguished via the typing method employed, and we renamed locus DYS389I as DYS389b, whereas we calculated DYS389a by subtracting DYS389I from DYS389II. We constructed median-joining networks with ten common loci (Figure S3) for the two major African haplogroups (E1b1a-M2 and B2-M182) that are present at high frequencies in Siddis. We supplemented our dataset with other published data that included African samples.28 and 29 The TMRCA (time to most recent common ancestor) was estimated with the ρ statistic (the mean number of mutations from the assumed root), for which a 25-year generation time was used, and the TD statistic (for both, a mutation rate of 6.9 × 10−4 per STR per generation was assumed),30 The majority of the Siddis haplotypes were found shared on otherwise Bantu-specific branches and were present all over the tree (Figure S3). In addition, the Gujarat and Karnataka Siddis were highly diverged and did not share any haplotypes. These results support the autosomal observation of high Fst differentiation among Siddis from Gujarat and Karnataka. Although the majority of the Siddi haplotypes were scattered in the network, we found that all haplogroup B2 Gujarat Siddis formed a cluster and coalesced to their most recent common ancestor 2.4 ± 1 Kya (thousand years ago). The sharing of haplotypes suggests relatedness among the samples. This is similar to the results seen in the autosomal analyses of the Siddi_Gujarat and Siddi_Karnataka-2 samples. The male effective population size was estimated with BATWING31 and 32 via a demographic model that assumes a period of constant size followed by exponential growth (the prior probabilities for the other parameters used in the model were set as previously described).26 A random subset of 40 samples was analyzed after 106 to 108 MCMC cycles, and we obtained the same posterior probability for effective population size (N) as that obtained after 107 cycles. The effective population size of the African ancestors of Siddis brought to India during the slave trade was estimated as ∼1,400 individuals (Table S3 and Figure S4).

To gain insight into the maternal lineages and to test the directionality of maternal gene flow in the Siddis, we assayed the hypervariable region I (HVRI) of mtDNA in 153 Siddis and 269 individuals from the nearby Indian populations (accession numbers JN022021–JN022442). These data were compared with those from the revised Cambridge Reference Sequence (rCRS),33 and variations were scored. We assigned haplogroups on the basis of HVR1 variations and further confirmed these by genotyping the coding-region mutations published to date.34 The mtDNA haplogroup distributions in the Siddis are shown in Figure 3B, Document S3, and Figure S5.

PCA plots of the combined dataset (Document S3) showed that the African-specific mtDNA haplogroups were present at high frequency in the Siddis; these results were similar to the observations from the autosomal and paternal lineages (Figure S2B). The African-specific haplogroup L was present at a frequency of 53% and 24% in Siddis from Gujarat and Karnataka, respectively. Previous studies have suggested that the L0a, L2a, L3b, and L3e haplogroups are associated with the Bantu expansion.35, 36, 37, 38 and 39Haplogroup L2a (including L2a1) was observed in the Siddis along with rare sublineages of L2, which further supports the conclusion that the ancestors of the Siddis were most likely African Bantus (Figure S5). The L0d lineage, which is now largely confined to the Khoisan-speaking South African populations but which was possibly more widespread in the past,40 was also observed in two Siddi individuals from Gujarat state. The presence of Indian-specific sublineages of M and N (R and U, which include M2, M3, M5, M6, M33, M35, M39, M57, R8, R30, and U2 haplogroups) is indicative of recent admixture with indigenous Indian populations (Figure S5).26 In addition, haplogroup T, which is widespread in southern and Western Europe41 and is also present at a low frequency in some South Asian groups42 was present in four Siddi individuals (Figure S5). This suggests maternal gene flow from a West Eurasian ancestral source—perhaps Portuguese or Indian. Consistent with the Y-chromosomal results, there is no evidence of African haplogroups in the neighboring Indian populations, thus confirming the hypothesis of unidirectional gene flow to Siddi individuals from contemporary Indian populations (Figure 1B).

In order to further explore the evidence of sub-Saharan ancestry, we analyzed data for the G6PD (MIM 305900) variants in Siddis along with 26 ethnic populations from India. The A− variant, which provides protection against malarial infection and is estimated to have a sub-Saharan African origin between 3,840 to 11,760 YBP, 43 was observed only in Siddis (10%) and not in any other Indian populations ( Table S4). This further strengthens the evidence for the sub-Saharan ancestry of the Siddis.

In conclusion, our combined analysis of genetic variation in the Siddis, involving high-resolution sex-linked and autosomal markers, provides strong evidence of African ancestry together with unidirectional gene flow from local Indian groups to the Siddis. The directionality of gene flow supports the complex genetic structuring among Indian populations, which are highly influenced by social norms. We have traced the likely ancestry of Indian Siddis to sub-Saharan African Bantus. The ancestry proportions based on the analysis of autosomal and Y-chromosomal markers are similar, whereas mtDNA markers reveal more likely South Asian lineages among Siddi individuals. The model that emerges from our results is as follows: During the course of the Bantu expansion, African farmers settled in East Africa. Later, during the 15th to 17th centuries, this region was predominantly ruled by the Portuguese. They brought some Africans to India as slaves and sold them to local Nawabs and Sultans, whose descendents, admixed with neighboring populations, comprise the present-day Siddi population of India (Figure 4).

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Figure 4.

Migration History of the Siddis

Dotted arrows represent the expansion of Bantu speakers with agriculture within Africa. Agriculture in Africa started from the central western part of the continent and proceeded toward the east and south of the subcontinent. The shaded gray area represents the Portuguese territory, and the lines between Africa and India represent the path that the Portuguese might have used during the 15th–19th centuries to supply African slaves to Indian rulers on the western coast of India.


We thank all the donors, who have voluntarily donated their blood samples for this study. K.T. was supported by the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (RG-4772), the Indian Council of Medical Research, and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India. C.T.S. was supported by The Wellcome Trust, and G.C. was supported by the Centre of Excellence of the Estonian Biocentre. D.R. and P.M. were supported by the National Science Foundation. L.S. was supported by a Bose Fellowship from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and a Bhatnagar fellowship from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India. ROLLOFF software is available upon request from P.M.

India Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church will host an International Praying Convocation January 20-28 in Hyderabad.

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The 4th Episcopal District of the India Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church will host an International Praying Convocation January 20-28 in Hyderabad.

Women in India face daily persecution for just being a girl. Every hour a newlywed bride is burned alive, hundreds of thousands of young girls are trapped in prostitution each year, millions of widows, ignored by society live on the streets and beg for a living, the suicide rate among women is 20 times higher in India than the global rate. They are one of the most disadvantaged, abused and unreached groups in the entire world.

I am asking for your help to send me to India, I pray that God will bless you through your giving. I thank you for believing in this journey I shall embark on. Love Kelly.

I am asking for your donation to help pay for my flight to Hyderabad, India. With 40 people, to bless this trip with $30.00 each I could reach my goal.

Please share and spread the word with friends and family members.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart, may God Bless you.


For Canada’s Indigenous Women, Going Missing Is a Terrifying Possibility

 – Hana Shafi is a journalist, intersectional feminist, illustrator and Lord of The Rings enthusiast hanging around Toronto.

Posted: 11/04/2014 12:16 pm EST

Cee Jai Julian

There’s an epidemic in our country that our government is refusing to respond to. For Indigenous women in Canada, the idea that they might go missing is a terrifying reality. The United Nations has urged Canada to launch a national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women. But Harper has not been willing to act. Disappointing as the news is, it’s, unfortunately, not surprising that a settler-colonial state does not value the lives of Indigenous women as much as other citizens.

The RCMP recently released information stating that the number of missing and murdered is around 1,200 women. The rate that Indigenous women go missing is disproportionately larger that any other group in this country and Indigenous women are three times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women are.

All these statistics are part of the narrative of a country that has marginalized Indigenous women for centuries. It’s time to hear their voices.

“We have entire communities living with knowing that it’s a fact that, in their lifetime, their mother or their sister or their daughter or at least someone they know is going to go missing,” says Jessica Brant, a Mohawk woman who participated in the recent VIA rail blockade protest to bring attention the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

“There’s proof in numbers the fact that Aboriginal women are the most at risk group,” says Brant. “There is proof in the numbers that Aboriginal women are sought out, they’re targeted, they’re preyed upon, simply because they are Aboriginal.”

Marian Horne, president of the Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council and the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General for the Yukon, believes that the government has not done nearly enough in addressing this issue. And she’s absolutely right.

“I’m absolutely appalled with our federal government for not doing something about this issue,” says Horne. “It’s been ongoing for so long and it’s being ignored.” She points out that when the Rehtaeh Parsons, a Halifax teenager, killed herself due to cyber-bullying, Prime Minister Harper reached out to the family personally and quickly put forward an anti-cyber-bullying bill. No such action has been seen for the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Horne says that when Loretta Saunders went missing and was eventually found dead, Harper did not reach out to her family in any way whatsoever.

Horne is a survivor of the controversial residential schooling system where many Indigenous children were subject to horrific abuse. She says she feels that public education and awareness on this issue is one of the key ways in tackling it and reducing the number of Indigenous women who go missing.

“The public just goes on every day thinking that this is something normal that should happen,” says Horne. “It’s taken as a norm because it has been made so. It is systemic racism in our society that has lead to the situation that we’re in.”

Samantha Dawson, an Indigenous woman and journalist based out of the Yukon, believes that the media needs to be doing more about addressing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

“As journalists, what we need to do in this situation is bring out the human element of the people that we’re writing about,” says Dawson, “so the fact that these women aren’t just prostitutes, they aren’t just sex workers. They had families, they were sisters, cousins, wives, auntie, granddaughters. There’s a whole narrative there that doesn’t often come out.”

Dawson is referring to the increased media attention on Indigenous women who are sex workers that go missing, even though according to Pearce’s dataset, 80 per cent of the Indigenous women who went missing were not in the sex trade. Dawson feels that the Loretta Saunders case garnered more media attention than other cases, because Saunders was a bright student with a future of potential ahead of her, rather then the popular narrative of sex workers going missing.

“In the media, it’s pretty prevalent that Aboriginal women and girls- the idea that they are disposable members of our society is perpetuated a lot,” says Dawson.

Horne feels similarly. “That’s why so many First Nations women are targeted, because it’s believed that our lives are useless, that we don’t contribute to society, we’re seen as lesser, not equal to non-First Nations,” says Horne.

“As an aboriginal woman,” says Dawson, “I am mostly disappointed by the coverage that I see, as the framing is always around victimization and sexualization. Aboriginal women and girls are not objects, they are people, and this is something that I think all self-identifying non-white women contend with.”

Dawson urges journalists who are covering this issue to do more research and educate themselves on the colonial history of Canada that has allowed an issue like this to exacerbate.

Brant says she feels that though the media has taken a while to home in on this issue, the recent attention is a victory in and of itself.

Still, there is much more work to be done to adequately tackle this issue. Horne says she would like to see more representation of Indigenous people in the government and more education on the history of Indigenous people in Canada being a requirement for recruitment in all levels of government.

“Although we say were not racist, its there. It’s just under the surface. I’ve seen it in the government,” says Horne. “They don’t know us, they don’t know our culture. That’s why these issues keep multiplying. It’s a vicious circle.”

But there is hope for the issue. Increased media attention, as well as extensive research on how many Indigenous women go missing and high-risk areas being done by the Native Women’s Association in Canada and Sister’s In Spirit, means that the issue is slowly, but surely, coming to the forefront of Canada’s consciousness. Though there is collective frustration and pain among Indigenous communities, many continue to speak out.

“It’s important for me as an Aboriginal women, as a person, to get up and bring light to an issue that other people don’t have the ability to do,” says Brant. “I feel like it’s my job as another person to stand up for other people.”

What now after Nigeria’s Boko Haram ceasefire fiasco?

A screen grab from a video released by Boko Haram, showing its leader Abubakar Shekau delivering a speech - 31 October 2014
The video released on Friday was Boko Haram’s first statement after the government announced a ceasefire

The latest Boko Haram video in which its leader Abubakar Shekau denies any ceasefire talks between his group and Nigerian officials will come as a huge embarrassment to the government, reports the BBC’s Africa Security Correspondent Tomi Oladipo.

The militant leader has directly contradicted government claims that the ceasefire would set the stage for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in April from Chibok town.

With the presidential elections just three months away, any chances of having a peaceful vote in north-eastern Nigeria are unlikely.

Analysts now suggest it might be time to rethink any diplomatic solution to the crisis and instead concentrate efforts on restoring the stability of the nation.

‘Married off’

Shekau’s defiance in the video did not come as a surprise to many.

In fact it was the government’s announcement of a truce that provoked scepticism among Nigerians, even if some of the Chibok community said they were “cautiously optimistic”.

Much of the handling of the crisis over the last six months has hinged on securing the release of the schoolgirls.

A campaigner from "#Bring Back Our Girls" addresses a rally calling for the release of the Abuja school girls who were abducted by Boko Haram militants (1 November 2014)The chances of campaigners seeing an imminent release of the schoolgirls appear to be fading
Newspapers with headlines on the Chibok girls and their possible release are displayed at a news stand in Abuja - 18 October 2014News of the government supposedly sealing a truce with Boko Haram recently made the front pages

While Shekau says the girls have now converted to Islam and been “married off”, there might still be the possibility of a swap for Boko Haram members in custody of the government. The insurgent group has long demanded the release of its men from prison.

So far, attempts at dialogue have not led to any cessation of violence. Only a few weeks ago, Nigerian government officials seemed certain they had agreed a truce but Boko Haram militants and Nigerian security forces clashed shortly after the announcement.

‘Mixed signals’

So where does the government go from here?

Veteran diplomat Bolaji Akinyemi suggests that the government needs to rethink its strategy.

“We can accept this latest [Boko Haram] video at face value that this group is not willing to talk,” he says.

“The government needs to stop sending mixed signals about the possibilities and now consider that maybe the solution is a military one. Unfortunately we have to accept that the loss of lives is inevitable and maybe we need to prepare ourselves for that.”

Mr Akinyemi was part of a presidential committee tasked to come up with recommendations for a solution to the insecurity.

One of its findings was that security agencies needed improved training and equipment to stand up to the Boko Haram challenge.


Who are Boko Haram?

  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Who are Boko Haram?

Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau


If any changes have since been made, they have not stopped Boko Haram on its territorial quest.

Nigeria’s general elections are expected to be held in February and there is every indication that the process will be bloody if it goes ahead in the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, where Boko Haram has its strongholds.

It is also unlikely that civilians there will be convinced to cast their votes in a democratic system that is antithetical to Boko Haram’s central objective – to instil its radical form of Islamic rule.

Nigerian journalist Ahmad Salkida – who has recently had rare access to the group – says that the sect believes its “brand of Sharia is superior to the [Nigerian] constitution”.

Fleeing soldiers

It appears the government is now fighting not just for the territorial integrity of the nation but also for the very existence of the Nigerian state.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (October 2014)The government led by President Goodluck Jonathan is eager to reassert Nigeria’s sovereignty
The site of a bomb blast at a bus station in Gombe, north-eastern Nigeria (31 October 2014)Attacks carried out by Boko Haram in recent months have left a trail of destruction across Nigeria

Mr Akinyemi thinks there are few other options. “Even if you ask Boko Haram to hold on to the territory they have, it would not restrain them.”

The latest major town to fall to the militants is Mubi in Adamawa State.

Military sources say the soldiers there would have been well equipped to repel any rampaging Boko Haram fighters but, not for the first time, the soldiers fled alongside residents as the attackers arrived.

They left behind resources, including military hardware, that could sustain the insurgents for much longer. It is a trend that should deeply trouble the authorities.

A tenuous possibility is that the military has not gone on the offensive because of the ceasefire order, although a recent statement from the defence headquarters said that a “highly coordinated air bombardment is already yielding required results in the mission to repel the unwarranted attacks on citizens” in the north-east.

Desertions in the face of battle

Such teamwork between the air force and ground troops was successful when the military prevented Boko Haram from taking over Konduga, near Maiduguri, to public acclaim in September.

Abducted Nigerian schoolgirls (May 2014)Boko Haram’s denial that there have been any ceasefire talks between them and the government does not augur well for the kidnapped schoolgirls

The belief that Boko Haram informants have infiltrated certain army units appears to have damaged morale among soldiers on the frontline, who now fear that their own brave efforts could be wasted. Hence the common desertions in the face of battle.

“Any cases of infiltration, if any, would not be significant enough to undermine the combat efficiency of the military and its capacity to bring the military campaign to a successful conclusion,” asserts Major Lancelot Anyanya (Retired), a security analyst.

“Where the issue is radicalisation, you have to look to fight long-term with arms and counter-ideology. Build up the military but also consider and address what drives people into these groups.”

In the meantime Boko Haram has taken over several towns and seeks to control more.

The government, on the other hand, is hoping to reassert Nigeria’s sovereignty. A new phase looms in this bloody conflict.

Late October


the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
to black
for comfort

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order simply
to begin

Estranged husband of Marissa Alexander testifies he doesn’t remember much and also lied; no ruling Monday

promo_AlexanderHearing1_0A decision on whether attorneys for Marissa Alexander can introduce her estranged husband’s history of spousal abuse into her criminal trial is now in the hands of Circuit Judge James Daniel.

Daniel recessed a two-day pretrial hearing for Alexander on Monday after her estranged husband, Rico Gray, denied allegations that he’d abused three women who were the mothers of his children. All three women testified during the first day of the hearing earlier this month that Gray hit them.

Daniel did not say when he would issue a ruling in the case, but he appeared to lean toward prohibiting Alexander’s attorneys from introducing the evidence when the trial begins Dec. 1.

The judge repeatedly said he struggled to see why Gray’s previous history of spousal abuse was relevant.

The case has generated international attention with many supporters of Alexander viewing her as a domestic-violence victim who shouldn’t face criminal charges.

Gray denied beating the women Monday even though he’d previously acknowledged hitting two of them in a 2010 deposition. Gray said he lied during that deposition in an attempt to help Alexander because he didn’t want her to go to prison. The two are now going through a divorce.

Gray was largely uncooperative on the stand, saying he didn’t remember a domestic-violence arrest against one of his girlfriends. He also denied sending text messages to his ex-girlfriends that discouraged them from testifying at this hearing.

Gray became the fourth person to acknowledge that he’d lied under oath during the hearing.

The three women who testified earlier this month had all previously given depositions saying Gray hadn’t abused them. All said they lied because they didn’t want to hurt Gray, were afraid of him or just didn’t want to get involved.

Alexander, 34, faces a potential 60-year prison term for firing a shot in the direction of Gray and two of his children from previous relationships. She is charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a weapon and is asserting she fired the shot in self-defense because Gray had just beaten her and was about to beat her again.

Gray has denied abusing Alexander before the shots were fired and said he was leaving the house when it happened.

Defense attorney Faith Gay argued that Gray’s previous history of abusing woman was relevant because it showed Gray has a pattern of beating his partners and then calling police and blaming them for the abuse. An ex-girlfriend testified that after Gray hit her he stabbed himself with a fork and tried to convince police that he was the one who’d been attacked and hit her to defend himself.

Part of their defense is that Gray lied about what happened before Alexander fired the shot, and it’s relevant to point out he has a history of lying, Gay said.

“We’re not introducing it just to show he is a bad person,” Gay said. “We’re trying to show what his intent was.”

Assistant State Attorney Rich Mantei said Gray’s history should not be introduced because it had no bearing on what happened when Alexander fired the shot. He said the defense was trying to attack Gray’s character even though the information wasn’t legitimate evidence.

“None of what we heard here was known to the defendant and none of this involved the defendant,” Mantei said.

Daniel appeared to agree, saying that Gray’s character wasn’t essential to the case, especially when it came to incidents that happened years before.

Some allegations of abuse against Gray go back to the 1990s.

“A victim’s character isn’t an issue in most self-defense cases,” Daniel said.

What matters most is Alexander’s state of mind at the time she fired the shot, not Gray’s history or intent, the judge said.

Alexander had given birth to Gray’s child, his fifth child with five different women, nine days before the incident in August 2010. She was previously convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, but the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned the conviction because of faulty jury instructions.

Larry Hannan: (904) 359-4470

One thousand one hundred and eighty one murdered and missing Indigenous mothers, sisters, daughters and loved ones.


One thousand one hundred and eighty one murdered and missing Indigenous mothers, sisters, daughters and loved ones.

RCMP release Report on Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Key findings:

• A total of 1181 Indigenous women and girls have been mnurdered or are missing between 1980 and 2012.

• 1017 are homicide victims.

• 164 Indigenous women and girls are still missing.

• 225 cases are still unsolved.

• Indigenous women and girls make up 4.3 percent of the total female population but make up 11.3 percent of the murdered and missing.

• The report states that of the cases solved: 85% of Aboriginal cases compared to 89% of non-Aborginial cases.

• Half (49%) of the women murdered in Canada are Aboriginal.

– See more at:

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls



RCMP report on Aboriginal women puts numbers to our national shame: Tim Harper

We are quick to work to protect women’s rights abroad, but when it comes to murdered Aboriginals at home, we are quick to look the other way.

Tim Harper – – May 18

Last week, while Aboriginal demonstrators were marching outside the Centre Block, New Democratic MP Niki Ashton rose in the Commons and asked the government — again — to convene a national inquiry to provide answers and justice for the families of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

What she got from the country’s justice minister, Peter MacKay, was a patronizing smack down.

“What we do not need is haughty, condescending questions from the Opposition,” said Mackay, before lapsing into the familiar rote answer about more “actual, concrete, substantive, practical action” to protect aboriginal women.

The government has long resisted an inquiry, saying another analysis is not needed. What is needed, we are told, is action.

That argument would be much more palatable if this government was actually doing something substantive, rather than cosmetic.

It would be far more palatable if this government could explain why an inquiry into how this has happened somehow precludes immediate action. now.

An inquiry is not an excuse for inaction in the here and now.

It would be far more palatable if a law-and-order government, which preaches the rights of victims, could explain why it is so reluctant to give families who lost loved ones the tiny bit of closure that could come from speaking publicly if they felt their concerns were not given priority by law enforcement agencies.

Yes, an inquiry would be costly and the range of issues at play here mean the scope could be unwieldy. An inquiry would embarrass us all — successive governments, local police forces and the RCMP, and non-aboriginals in this country.
Maybe we need that.

This government, and indeed this country, needs a jolt to some type of action to deal with a national shame that is depriving families of justice and staining this country’s reputation worldwide.

Read more:

– See more at:



Hello supporters of Marissa Alexander!

We just wanted to do a quick update about the status of Marissa’s case b/c there seems to be some confusion. The articles floating around that say Marissa’s conviction was overturned is OLD NEWS from Sept 2013. Good news, but old news. Some might remember there was a grassroots push last fall to urge Angela Corey to drop the case after Marissa won her appeal. But Corey then said that, not only would she re-prosecute Marissa, this time she ispursuing a 60 year mandatory sentence, tripling Marissa’s original 20 year mandatory sentence. 

So that’s where the case has been for a year: Marissa won her appeal last September, and now as a consequence of winning her appeal, she is facing mandatory 60 YEARS IN PRISON.  That should be the headline. That should be the news that people are sharing.

Marissa’s trial is currently scheduled for December 8, 2014 (jury selection begins on December 1st). So we need to KEEP GOING. We’ve got a lot of work to do before the trial in terms of fundraising, direct action, and media advocacy. Florida needs to know that the world is watching. So please share this widely and keep doing your work, b/c she’s only going to win this with your big love and support!!  Donate here:

And if you ever have any questions about the case, please come here first or e-mail us at

The Encylopedia of Contemporary Missionaries


The Encylopedia of Contemporary Missionaries recognizes and celebrates  WOMEN in the AME CHURCH (Forty Years and under) who are WORLD CHANGERS!  It is a QUADRENNIAL Publication of the FOURTH EPISCOPAL DISTRICT, host district for the 18th Quadrennial Convention. A LOCAL SOCIETY from the 1st to th 20th District, may submit a nomination of ONE; but not more than THREE YOUNG WOMEN who are living lives of CHRISTIAN IMPACT in one of the following areas:




A Generation Held Hostage?

LONDON – On April 14, 2014, the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from the government secondary school in Nigeria’s northern town of Chibok. Many escaped, but 219 remain in captivity, their whereabouts still unknown.

So deep is the despair and desolation felt by the girls’ parents that they are now considering whether to declare their daughters “presumed dead.” According to local custom, funerals are held after loved ones have gone missing for four months, so that a period of mourning can give families some closure. The girls have now been held captive for over five months.

No one can overstate the families’ unspeakable anguish from not knowing if their daughters have been raped, beaten, or trafficked out of Nigeria – or even if they are still alive. The rest of the world may have moved on, but the girls’ parents wake each morning to a day of uncertainty and resignation. Hope is fast evaporating.

It is difficult to see how the girls could be returned safely. Launching a military rescue operation would be highly risky. It is believed that the girls have been split into separate groups, so that any attempt to rescue one group would imperil the others. Despite talk of the government negotiating a deal with the captors, this option, too, would be fraught with danger.

Even if all of the girls eventually do come home, nothing will ever be the same again for them or their families. For some, it is already too late. Seven parents, despite being relatively young, have died of heart attacks or strokes, to which the intolerable strains of their situation may have contributed.

But amid the gloom, there is, perhaps, a glimmer of hope. While we cannot know the future for the girls still in captivity, 15 of the 57 girls who escaped their kidnappers are now back at school, braving Boko Haram’s threats to return and abduct more students. Hundreds of thousands of other girls in northern Nigeria are now too afraid to go to school, but these girls refuse to be cowed. They are determined to make up for lost time.

This display of astonishing courage and determination to get an education should be an inspiration for us all in the fight against discrimination. To support and encourage more girls to attend school in the face of abduction threats, the Nigerian Safe Schools Initiative has been launched to fund fortifications, telecommunications, and security measures aimed at allaying children’s fears about going to what should be a safe haven.

Sadly, the world’s response to pleas for donations has been slow and miserly. This indifference mirrors similar reactions to other recent global appeals, such as for schooling for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The lack of concern seems particularly callous when one considers that the cost of educating a refugee child is no more than $8 a week.

There is simply not enough outrage – except from young people themselves. They are more assertive in standing up for their right to education than the adults who are supposed to uphold that right. It was particularly encouraging to see hundreds of global youth ambassadors from 100 countries descend on New York recently to demand the right to education and to support the Bring Back Our Girls campaign in Nigeria.

Bring Back Our Girls is the highest-profile campaign highlighting discrimination against girls. But it is only part of a growing global movement by young people for civil rights.

The American civil-rights struggle that reached its height in the 1960s fought racial prejudice and discrimination at home and opposed colonialism abroad. But there is a war of liberation that remains to be won worldwide – against child labor, child marriage, child trafficking, and discrimination against girls. None of these evils will end until basic education is made compulsory for all – just as was done in the West more than a century ago.

The campaign for the 219 Nigerian girls – kidnapped simply because they wanted to go to school – is an iconic battle of this freedom struggle. That struggle will be won some day. No injustice can last forever. But for the missing girls and their loved ones, it is a struggle that cannot be won soon enough.


Bring Back Our Girls? Boko Haram and the Forgotten Captives

// BENJAMIN RADFORDdnews-files-2014-09-boku-haram-670x440-1409171-jpg

It was a bold and brash attack on innocent girls that outraged the world and spawned online activism: Boko Haram, an extremist Muslim group in Nigeria, abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls from a rural secondary school. A few days after the April 14 abduction, 57 of the girls managed to escape.

Since that time no more girls have escaped or been rescued, and hundreds remain in captivity. They remain missing despite an international outcry and hundreds of celebrities demanding that the group #Bringbackourgirls. Despite the presence of advisors and special forces troops from countries including the United States, Canada, England, and France, the location of the kidnapped girls remains unknown — or if it is known, it has been deemed too difficult a location to stage a successful rescue mission.

So what happened? How has Boko Haram been able to defy a half-dozen of the most powerful nations in the world?

First, rooting out the group has been much more difficult than American and Nigerian officials expected. The region where the captives were taken is remote and vast — including the rugged Sambisa Forest where surveillance drones are of little use — and where the Nigerian government has limited influence. Many also blame Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan for not accepting international assistance sooner.

Second, the limits of hashtag activism became apparent; sharing outrage on social media felt empowering to many shortly after the abduction but did not translate into any real effect. The collective outrage of the Western world was irrelevant to Boko Haram, who reveled in the attention and recognition. First Lady Michele Obama was one of many prominent celebrities to embrace the cause, and the fact that the wife of the most powerful man in the world addressed the group in a viral May 7 photo posted to social media asking for the return of its hostages gave Boko Haram legitimacy it sought.

The online community soon lost interest when positive results weren’t forthcoming. As days turned to weeks and weeks turn to months, the demand to Bring Back Our Girls faded. Most of those who initially shared the pleas on social media soon moved on to other causes and other concerns, including ALS water dunkings and outrage over the police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. Other important international news stories took precedence, from downed planes to Russia to other Muslim extremists in Iraq beheading Westerners.

Third, political and ethical pressures have prevented the return of the kidnapped girls. There have been several opportunities to bring back the captives, but none of them were politically viable for Nigeria and the United States. For example one option would be to simply buy the girls back from Boko Haram through intermediaries, since they were captured to be sold as slaves. While this would safely reunite the girls with their families and achieve a peaceful end to this hostage situation, this would put both countries in the position of participating in the slave trade and trafficking of humans — which of course is illegal and morally abhorrent.

American officials could reframe the situation to avoid the slavery aspect by simply referring to the girls as “hostages” (regardless of what Boko Haram wishes to call them), and proceed to negotiate for their release, as governments around the world often do (whether they publicly acknowledge it or not).

nformal overtures were made to Boko Haram about the possibility of making a deal for the girls’ return:

Some have expressed outrage at the practice, saying it encourages kidnapping and rewards terrorism, but the simple fact is that governments negotiate with terrorists all the time while officially denying it. The reason is simple: if a group has hostages you want returned alive and unharmed, there are very few options. Like it or not, the best way to get the desired outcome is to negotiate the release of hostages. Anything else, including — and especially — an armed military attack is likely to leave dozens of people (both terrorists and hostages) dead, which the government will likely be blamed for.

Boko Haram Expands

None of that happened, of course, and not only has Boko Haram refused to release its hostages as demanded, but their power has grown. In recent months Boko Haram operatives have targeted prominent political figures, including suicide bombings in Nigeria and the abduction of a vice prime minister’s wife in neighboring Cameroon. As an NBC News story noted, “The leader of the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram has established the world’s second Islamic ‘caliphate’ this summer and is seeking to cement his bloody rule on a territory that is now roughly the size of West Virginia…. the forces of Boko Haram have been racking up victories in northern Nigeria and violently imposing an equally harsh version of Islamic law on approximately 3 million civilians — including beheadings, forced marriages and the forced induction of children into its military forces.”

The Obama administration is understandably distracted by serious conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Russia, and elsewhere, and the Boko Haram hostage situation has created a very thorny political and ethical dilemma. The parents of the kidnapped girls, of course, don’t care whether Nigeria and the Western countries set political precedents or appear to appease terrorists or buy slaves. They just want their children returned, and hopefully a solution — whether military or diplomatic — will come soon.

Dalit Stops Cleaning Dry Toilets, Becomes Leader


Monday, October 6, 2014

Choti Bai has left the dehumanizing work behind and is helping other Dalit women follow her lead. Manual scavenging is illegal in India but activists estimate that over a million people, mostly women, are still caught in it.

NEW DELHI (WOMENSENEWS)–Choti Bai hates everything that is yellow. It reminds her of human excreta she cleaned in home toilets with her bare hands for over two decades while working as a manual scavenger.

The life of this 43-year-old resident of Chittorgarh district in India’s western state of Rajasthan improved drastically six years ago, when she gave up this work. But bad memories persist.

“I cannot forget the 22 years I spent cleaning dry toilets,” Bai said in a recent interview held in Delhi, where she had come to attend a meeting. “Although I stopped the work in 2008, whenever I see any food or clothes that are yellow in color, I feel I am handling human excrement once again.”

In India, manual scavengers, mostly women, are involved in cleaning dry toilets without any protective gloves or equipment and carry human excreta in containers or baskets on their head for disposal. Men from this community clean septic tanks and sewers.

It seemed to Bai, at the age of 15, shortly after she was married, that there was no other life. As a child she had seen her mother and two older sisters do the same work. Although she and another two younger sisters were allowed to go to school, Bai knew it was only a matter of time before they were drafted into the family profession of manual scavenging.

“It did not come as any surprise when my mother-in-law told me to accompany my sister-in-law for manual scavenging soon after my marriage. I knew this was my destiny. I believed that this was what I was born to do, being a Valmiki Dalit,” she said, referring to her caste community traditionally engaged in this occupation.

Several laws outlaw manual scavenging in India, the earliest one was passed in 1993. Last year, a more comprehensive ban, the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation, was passed because the government in power felt the earlier act did not prove very effective in ending the dehumanizing practice.

Laws Lag Behind

But laws lag behind reality. There are 790,000 families that still work as manual scavengers, according to the 2011 census. Activists working for this community give higher estimates, closer to 1.2 million. Certain groups of Dalits, especially the women, make a living out of manual scavenging and have been doing so for generations.

Those who get paid can earn as little as 60 cents a day. However, most female manual scavengers receive no wages. Bai said she used to get leftover flatbread, food and a small sack of wheat from her employers. Sometimes, she would get money during festivals. Other household expenses were met by her husband who cleaned septic tanks and also worked as a daily wage laborer.

In 2008, many years into earning her living this way, Bai discovered that manual scavenging was illegal. This was when she met activists with the Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan (National Campaign for Dignity and Elimination of Manual Scavenging), a coalition of 30 community-based organizations from 13 Indian states, working to better the lives of marginalized communities.

When the Rajasthan state coordinator of the campaign, Kuldeep Ghanwari, along with other campaign activists visited her village and explained they were not required to do this undignified work, she and other female manual scavengers were skeptical. Bai recalled. “I didn’t believe them. This was being done by all the families of our community. Also, I didn’t have any skills to do anything else. So I didn’t know what I could do if I gave it up.”

But Ashif Shaikh, national convenor of the campaign, said the activists didn’t give up. They continued to speak to the women about their rights. “More than 95 percent of the manual scavengers are women,” said Shaikh in a phone interview. “They are victims of caste-based discrimination. So there was a greater need to raise awareness among them.”

It took eight months for Bai to decide she could give up manual scavenging. Despite opposition from her husband and mother-in-law, Bai held her ground.

She turned to work as a daily wage laborer working in the fields and took to sewing clothes.

Newfound Dignity

In 2010, when campaign activists saw her determination, they asked her to work with them. In 2012 she joined the campaign as a motivator, earning a monthly salary of $75, far more than she ever earned as a manual scavenger.

Of great value to her as well is the dignity her new life has brought her and the respect she gets, especially from those who once considered her untouchable.

Since then, she has helped persuade 112 women working as manual scavengers in her district to give up this work. While some of these women have been helped to start a small poultry business, others have been helped to get job cards under the government’s national rural employment guarantee scheme.

Bai said there are no more female manual scavengers in her village anymore.

She has worked on other forms of self-empowerment too.

In 2012, for the first time, Bai persuaded some other women from her community to join her in participating in a prayer being conducted by a local temple in her village. It was a big achievement as her community had traditionally been barred from taking part in any temple activities.

Last year, Bai broke another boundary by taking five women from a nearby village, who had also given up manual scavenging, to drink tea at local tea shop, which had in the past refused to serve members of her community.

Female scavengers who have left the work are the best equipped to lead the campaign and inspire others, said Shaikh, the national campaign leader. “Only after women liberated themselves, did they understand what is was working as a manual scavenger. We have been able to change mindsets of this community and those who have given up their profession have done so voluntarily,” he said. “We have 100 such former women manual scavengers as motivators and have been able to liberate 16,000 women with their help.”

Together, they are now drawing attention to some fundamental ambiguities in the 2013 law. According to Shaikh, while the present law provides for rehabilitation measures, it is silent on how manual scavengers like Bai, who left the profession before 2013, will be rehabilitated. Unless this is addressed, some of them may return to this profession or some other form of undignified work. So, there is an urgent need to make the necessary policy changes, he said.

Swapna Majumdar is an independent journalist based in New Delhi and writes on development and gender.

Marissa Alexander Now Faces 60 Years in Prison for Firing a Warning Shot in Self Defense

Marissa Alexander Now Faces 60 Years in Prison for Firing a Warning Shot in Self Defense


Steven Hsieh on March 3, 2014 – 5:10 PM ET

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey will seek to triple Marissa Alexander’s original prison sentence from twenty to sixty years, effectively a life sentence for the 33-year-old woman, when her case is retried this July, The Florida Times-Union reports.

Alexander was convicted on three charges of aggravated assault in 2012 for firing warning shots in the direction of Rico Gray, her estranged husband, and his two children. No one was hurt. Alexander’s attorneys argued that she had the right to self-defense after Gray physically assaulted and threatned to kill her the day of the shooting. In a deposition, Gray confessed to a history of abusing women, including Alexander.

In September of 2013 a District Appeals court threw out the conviction on grounds that Circuit Judge James Daniel erroneously placed the burden on Alexander to prove she acted in self-defense, when she only had to meet a “reasonable doubt concerning self-defense.”

Judge Daniel originally slapped Alexander with three twenty-year prison sentences, but ordered that they be served concurrently. If Alexander is convicted a second time in July, State Attorney Angela Corey will seek consecutive sentences, adding up to sixty years in prison.

Florida’s 10-20-Life law imposes a mandatory minimum of twenty years in prison for anyone who fires a gun while committing a felony. Angela Corey’s prosecution team says it is following a court ruling that multiple convictions for related charges under 10-20-Life should carry consecutive sentences.

The advocacy group Free Marissa Now released a statement calling Corey’s move a “stunning abuse of power.” Members of the group say Corey is pressing for a longer sentence to thwart attention from accusations of prosecutorial misconduct, as well as recent failures in high-profile trials. Corey failed to secure murder convictions for George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn, two men who fatally shot black teenagers.

“Remember that when Marissa Alexander fired her warning shot to save her own life, she caused no injuries. Now she’s facing the very real possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison for that act of self-defense,” said advocate Sumayya Fire in the statement. “That should send a chill down the back of every person in this country who believes that women who are attacked have the right to defend themselves.”

Ebola virus disease

Ebola virus disease

Fact sheet N°103
Updated September 2014

Key facts

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
  • The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
  • The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.
  • Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation.
  • Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
  • There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but 2 potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.


The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

The current outbreak in west Africa, (first cases notified in March 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It has also spread between countries starting in Guinea then spreading across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia, by air (1 traveller only) to Nigeria, and by land (1 traveller) to Senegal.

The most severely affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have very weak health systems, lacking human and infrastructural resources, having only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability. On August 8, the WHO Director-General declared this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

A separate, unrelated Ebola outbreak began in Boende, Equateur, an isolated part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The virus family Filoviridae includes 3 genera: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus, and Ebolavirus. There are 5 species that have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Taï Forest. The first 3, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. The virus causing the 2014 west African outbreak belongs to the Zaire species.


It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. This has occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced.

Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola.

People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.

Symptoms of Ebola virus disease

The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms. First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools). Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.


It can be difficult to distinguish EVD from other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis. Confirmation that symptoms are caused by Ebola virus infection are made using the following investigations:

  • antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • antigen-capture detection tests
  • serum neutralization test
  • reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay
  • electron microscopy
  • virus isolation by cell culture.

Samples from patients are an extreme biohazard risk; laboratory testing on non-inactivated samples should be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.

Treatment and vaccines

Supportive care-rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids- and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated. No licensed vaccines are available yet, but 2 potential vaccines are undergoing human safety testing.

Prevention and control

Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission. Risk reduction messaging should focus on several factors:

  • Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
  • Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
  • Outbreak containment measures including prompt and safe burial of the dead, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola, monitoring the health of contacts for 21 days, the importance of separating the healthy from the sick to prevent further spread, the importance of good hygiene and maintaining a clean environment.

Controlling infection in health-care settings:

Health-care workers should always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or other contact with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe burial practices.

Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding. When in close contact (within 1 metre) of patients with EBV, health-care workers should wear face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown, and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures).

Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Ebola infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.

WHO response

WHO aims to prevent Ebola outbreaks by maintaining surveillance for Ebola virus disease and supporting at-risk countries to developed preparedness plans. The document provides overall guidance for control of Ebola and Marburg virus outbreaks:

When an outbreak is detected WHO responds by supporting surveillance, community engagement, case management, laboratory services, contact tracing, infection control, logistical support and training and assistance with safe burial practices.

WHO has developed detailed advice on Ebola infection prevention and control:

Table: Chronology of previous Ebola virus disease outbreaks


Year Country Ebolavirus species Cases Deaths Case fatality
2012 Democratic Republic of Congo Bundibugyo 57 29 51%
2012 Uganda Sudan 7 4 57%
2012 Uganda Sudan 24 17 71%
2011 Uganda Sudan 1 1 100%
2008 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 32 14 44%
2007 Uganda Bundibugyo 149 37 25%
2007 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 264 187 71%
2005 Congo Zaire 12 10 83%
2004 Sudan Sudan 17 7 41%
2003 (Nov-Dec) Congo Zaire 35 29 83%
2003 (Jan-Apr) Congo Zaire 143 128 90%
2001-2002 Congo Zaire 59 44 75%
2001-2002 Gabon Zaire 65 53 82%
2000 Uganda Sudan 425 224 53%
1996 South Africa (ex-Gabon) Zaire 1 1 100%
1996 (Jul-Dec) Gabon Zaire 60 45 75%
1996 (Jan-Apr) Gabon Zaire 31 21 68%
1995 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 315 254 81%
1994 Cote d’Ivoire Taï Forest 1 0 0%
1994 Gabon Zaire 52 31 60%
1979 Sudan Sudan 34 22 65%
1977 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 1 1 100%
1976 Sudan Sudan 284 151 53%
1976 Democratic Republic of Congo Zaire 318 280 88%

For more information contact:

WHO Media centre
Telephone: +41 22 791 2222

Monday #herstory

The Old Plantation, c. 1790. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

The Old Plantation, c. 1790. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

The Young Republic Era spanned from 1789-1814. The unrest in the colonies over British rule led to war in 1775. The struggle between the British and American forces was equally matched since the stakes were high for both sides.  The colonists had leverage over the British forces and were able to defeat their mother country in 1781, when the British surrendered at Yorktown.  The Revolutionary War officially came to an end on September 3, 1783 with the Treaty of Paris.  Written two years prior, the Articles of Confederation of 1781 declared each state would have sovereignty, freedom and independence within the confederation of states. Unfortunately, the liberty sought after and won from the British did not extend to the poor, the landless, women, Native American or African American people who inhabited the newly formed states. The air was ripe with liberty, freedom and justice for select landowning white men who now could chart their own destiny, as well as, the destiny of everyone else.

During this time, the Protestant Christian church experienced the Second Great Awakening, where biblical truths were employed to curb avarice and human corruption. Nevertheless, the opportunity to expand westward and increase personal wealth fluttered before the eyes of war weary veterans.  African American women remained enslaved and lived precarious lives of producer and reproducer with greater urgency since the international slave trade was formally abolished in 1808. The early abolition of enslavement throughout the New England area afforded black people in that region of the country the ability to cultivate themselves through educational, religious and cultural means. In 1809 the African Female Benevolent Society of Newport, Rhode Island was founded.  The organization sought to provide financial and moral support to widows, orphans and other distressed women.

Monday #Herstory

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first major-party African-American candidate to run for the Democratic nomination for president. Chisholm was also the first African-American congresswoman, representing New York in the US House of Representatives from 1969 to 1983. (Photo: Library of Congress.)



One Of The 219 Abducted Chibok Girls Miraculously Found, She’s In Trauma – Oby Ezekwesili

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Barely 24 hours after the emotions of Nigerians where raised and later dashed over reports that some of the school girls abducted from Government Girls Secondary Chibok in Borno state had been freed, a report that turned out to be false, it has emerged that one of the ?girls have miraculously escaped from their abductors.

Former World Bank Vice President, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, who incidentally is one of the leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, a group that has in the last 4 months advocated for government action to secure the release of the girls confirmed the development via her twitter handle  ·on Wednesday.

According to Madam Oby as she is fondly called, the girl she simply identified as Susan was miraculously found in the bush by locals who then took her to Yola.

“After the emotional upheaval of yesterday’s dashed hope, today came with the FACTUAL RETURN of ONE of OUR 219 . She’s in trauma,” Madam Oby tweeted.

She added that, “OUR 1 , miraculously found in a bush by locals & returned today is confirmed by ChibokParents with her in Yola. INCREDIBLE!”

“It is hard to comprehend the return of Susan who is yet incoherent. The locals that found her took her to Mubi Police & now moved to Yola.”

She said the return of the girl has been confirmed by Chibok parents who are with her in Yola.

Madam Oby said she hoped that Security/Military would handle the return of Susan in a way that will help us to learn more in the next couple of days.

“One hopes that Our Security/Military would approach Susan’s return in a way that helps us learn more in the next couple of days.”

She also expressed optimism that Susan’s return is an indication that the rest of the 219 Chibok girls will return.

“The eternal optimist that I am makes me see the return of Susan as a GOOD SIGN for the rest of our 219 ChibokDaughters. They SHALL RETURN!!”


Right now in our world there are a lot of people who would love to feel better about their bodies. Studies show that a good portion of both men and women are unsatisfied with themselves or struggle with self-confidence. This is no secret, and it is apparent that as a society we are searching for better answers than painful dieting and hours in the gym. The idea is you find the right blend of fruitsveggies, and greens to throw into a blender that make a delicious smoothie and a powerhouse nutrient-rich boost for your body! The possible and proven benefits to drinking a green drink on a daily basis are awesome!

  • Weight loss
  • Mood enhancement
  • Natural detox and cleanse
  • Immune support/boost
  • Huge percentage of daily need for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • ENERGY increase that lasts
  • Fiber that you don’t get from juice
  • You feel ‘light’ verses ‘heavy’
  • Happy cells!!

Green smoothies are great at anytime during the day, but are particularly excellent forbreakfast. Our body goes through natural cycles  throughout a day where it focuses respectively on these three processes: Elimination, Appropriation, and Assimilation. In the morning we are typically in elimination mode and our body is focusing on releasing toxins and cleansing. 


Eating a heavy breakfast that is cooked can often be counter-productive to this cycle. Think of how it feels if you’re trying to clean the kitchen and before you’re done someone comes in and starts pulling out  food to make a big meal.  It would definitely slow you down or maybe even stop you from cleaning completely. Our body is the same way.

Our body responds the best to living and easily digestible foods in the morning. Living food means it is raw (uncooked) and is thus still full of enzymes and nutrients that aid digestion and fuel your body.

Convinced to give smoothies a try? Let’s address some common hesitations for those that need a push!

Tastes nasty?

The first time I made a green smoothie it was disgusting. I didn’t blend it well so it was chunky and I was a little too ambitious on the percentage of greens that I added.  In general we are used to overly-sweet food, and starting off your smoothie habit with too many veggies can cause you (and your family victims) to tank before finishing the first glass. Luckily our taste buds adapt over time. Try starting with 20% veggies and 80% fruit. Then slowly change it until you’re eventually drinking 50/50. Baby steps!

Can’t get over looks and texture?
I would recommend getting a good blender.  For example try a Blendtec. They are FANTASTIC. Your smoothies will feel like Jamba Juice.  But let’s be real, a good portion of us don’t have that kind of money to throw around just yet.  But don’t let that stop you from changing you life.  Any blender will do the job. Putting the veggies in and blending them for a bit first can help to get rid of chunks making them easier to drink. 

Now that I’ve got a spouse to please, I’ve put a lot more energy into VARIETY. Don’t get stuck on one recipe. Try new things! Mix new colors! If you make your family drink something that tastes too weedy one day, make a really delicious one the next day. Find your favorites and have fun getting creative.




  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • 1 whole lemon (just cut end nubs off)
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp of green super-food powder
  • 1 tbsp of organic flax power
  • 1 cup of frozen pineapple
  • 2 scoops of organic yogurt
  • Coconut milk/Water


  • A few handfuls of spinach and kale
  • 1 Banana
  • 1-2 cups of frozen berries
  • 1 whole lemon (just cut end nubs off)
  • 2 tbsp of organic chia seeds
  • Water



  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 2 tbsp of organic flax powder
  • 1 tsp of bee pollen
  • 1 whole lemon (just cut end nubs off)
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 banana
  • A few slices of grapefruit or 3 drops of grapefruit oil
  • 2 scoops of organic yogurt
  • Water/Coconut milk


  • 1 mango
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
Just not sure it is for you?

Maybe smoothies just aren’t and will never be your thing. That’s fine! As with everything, don’t take my word for it. Give it a good shot. If it is a good thing your body will let you know!

Thank you for reading!

Come out and learn about Buying Sex Is Not A Sport Pan Am 2015 and its grassroots campaign to challenge the demand for paid sex before and during national sporting events like the Pan Am Games.

Hear from experts including a formerly prostituted woman, local police and male abolitionists.
Network with front line organizations and NGOs who have focused on the issue of human trafficking.
Sign up – to stand silently outside venues where the Games are being held.
Bring friends, family, neighbours and coworkers. Forums are free and run from 7 – 9 p.m.

Cities and dates: Toronto (September 24), Hamilton (October 2) and Welland (October 29). For event updates and information (including locations), visit

6 Attributes of Living by Faith


Would you characterize your life as one who lives by faith? I believe there are six attributes of a person who lives by faith.

Attribute #1: Do Live by the Word
Do you believe perception is reality? Perception is not always reality. You might perceive that a product you buy will do what it says it claims to do, only to discover it falls short. Sometimes we perceive things about God based on our experience versus what the Bible really says. The apostle Paul exhorts us to “live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

God told Joshua to walk around the city 7 times by faith, not by his logic or reasoning. He had to live by the Word from God, not his perception of how illogical the command might have been for he and his troops. The Bible talks about obedience being better than sacrifice. So, live in the Word and obey His Word no matter what the perception is that might not be logical.

Attribute #2: Count things as though they have already happened – The Bible tells us that faith is living as though the goal has already been achieved.

As it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations” in the presence of Him whom he believed-God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17).

We believe in the covenant promises of God (more than 7500) in the Spirit dimension– awaiting the manifestation in the physical. We must claim His promises for our situations. Once we know it is God’s will we pray in authority He has given each believer in Jesus Christ. We don’t have faith in faith, we have faith in God and His promises.

Attribute #3: Obey God in the Small Things – God always entrust you with a small thing first before He entrust you with the larger thing. Abraham was told simply to go, without know where he was going. He had to trust God with the outcome of that decision.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Heb 11:8

I was once invited to speak to less than 10 people in Barbados. I wrestled with God over the logic of that invitation and the meeting. Once I obeyed, God opened many new and greater opportunities as a result of that obedience.

Attribute #4: Think Right – Sometimes we suffer from bad thinking. We mix the world’s value system in with God’s. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Negative thinking produces negative outcomes.

Fear can drive us to negative outcomes in life. It is a form of negative faith. “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me,
and what I dreaded has happened to me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
I have no rest, for trouble comes” (Job 3:25-26).

If you are trying to kick a bad habit, don’t try to avoid the bad habit, think on what kind of behavior you want to have that will replace the bad habit. Think about filling the cup up; don’t focus on what is not in the cup.

Meditate on These Things
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8).

Attribute #5: There is Power in the Tongue

God created the world by speaking it into existence Gen 1:1-9 says, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

Can you see that God spoke things into existence, that there is power in our words?

Proverbs 18:21 tell us: Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
 and those who love it will eat its fruit. Your audible words do carry power. God spoke the world into existence. Jesus spoke to the fig tree.

Jesus tells us to speak to the mountain. So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them (Mark 11:22-24). One time God spoke to me on a Saturday morning a few months after I published a book. We had very limited sales. The words that came to me as I woke were, “Speak to your mountain of books!”

I went downstairs and laid my hands on my mountain of books and said, “In the name of Jesus get out of my basement! Go be a blessing to someone who needs to read these books.” That Saturday afternoon a ministry in Dallas, Texas called me and ordered 300 books! I had no prior relationship with the group and IT WAS SATURDAY!

Attribute #6: Claim Covenant Promises – Use the Keys you have been given – “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19)

There are 7500 covenant promises in the Bible that represent your currency of your faith. A covenant promise reveals what you know is His will, but you must pray it into existence. God’s covenant promises are His currency for manifesting His will upon the earth. God has given us the Power of Attorney spiritually on the earth to bring Heaven on earth in the area of our calling.




How to Awaken your Chakras – Learn the Ways!

1. Root Chakra:

If the root chakra is out of alignment, you will feel fearful, overly attached to materialistic things and feel insecure. You may feel that you are disconnected from life. To awaken this chakra, you need to:

  • Stand with your feet as wide apart as you can comfortably place them.
  • Rotate your hips from right (forward) to left (back) 49 times.
  • Take slower re-birthing breaths with each rotation.
  • When done, take 3 directed breaths.
  • Now repeat the same in an opposite direction followed by 3 directed breaths.

Location: The base of the spine

2 & 3. Navel Center Chakra:

If the navel center chakra is out of alignment, you may feel a loss of power and vitality. To awaken this chakra, you will have to:

  • Take 49 re-birthing breaths.
  • With every inhalation, you shall have to pull in your belly sharply.

Location: The stomach and navel center

4. Heart Chakra:

When the heart chakra is out of alignment, you may feel beaten by life and may come across various pride and ego issues within yourself. To awaken it:

  • Stretch your arms outside and in front of the line of your shoulders.
  • Now take 49 re-birthing breaths.
  • With each breath, move your arms (while keeping them straight) so that the fingertips trace a big circle.
  • Try to move them up and down in front as you attempt a circle.
  • When done, bring your hands down and take 3 directed breaths.
  • Now repeat the process in the opposite direction.

Location: The heart and lung area

5. Throat Chakra:

When the throat chakra is out of alignment, you feel that your ability to communicate is compromised. To awaken this chakra:

  • Do 7 head rolls
  • Start with dropping your head forward, roll it to the left, then to the back and right, and then again forward
  • Do 7 rebirthing breaths after each roll.
  • In total, you need to take 49 breaths.

Location: Throat area and neck







1. Apply before foundation: There’s been a debate about whether to apply concealer before or after foundation, but we suggest applying beforehand. Getting problem areas (like blemishes or dark circles) evened up before applying foundation makes for a smoother end result.

2. What green concealer means: Green concealers neutralize red zones on your face, like blemishes or red spots. Use green concealer to better cover up acne, but don’t use green on darker parts of your face such as dark circles or spots.

3. What yellow concealer means: Yellow helps to even out skin tone overall, so use this on your face in areas that need equalizing. Yellow is the safest concealer color and works well for women who need basic concealing in general.

4. What pink concealer means: Like green concealer, pink works to neutralize the dark blue or purplish areas on your face, such as dark circles or spots. If you’ve got serious under eye circles or dark spots, pink concealer will help to cover up those areas.

5. Use it with loose powder: Especially under your eyes, loose powder over top of concealer helps to set it in place and goes one step further to even out skin tone. Simply use a translucent powder with a large, fluffy brush to sweep powder over the concealer.

6. Go one shade lighter: When choosing a concealer, go about one shade lighter than your foundation. If you’re applying concealer to dark or red areas, using one shade lighter than the rest of your makeup will help to even out those tones. Be wary not to go too much lighter (or darker) with the product, though, as it can be a dead giveaway that you’re wearing too much makeup.

7. Use it as a primer: Nothing helps your eyeshadow stay in place more than a great primer, especially if you’re planning a long night or you’ve got eyelids that are more on the oily side to begin with. Because of concealer’s consistency, it works as a smooth, slip-free base for your eyeshadow, plus it’ll help to make your shadow colors more vivid because it neutralizes your eyelid color first.

8. To keep it from looking caked on: First, go for a more lightweight concealer to prevent a caked on look. Make sure that you’re prepping your eye first with a gel or cream moisturizer, as dry skin underneath concealer can make it look packed on.

9. Use a sponge, and dot: For the most even distribution, apply concealer along the bottom of your eye in four or five small dots. Using a makeup sponge, gently blot the concealer into skin. Applying in dots will help with even, crease-free distribution of the concealer.  

10. Use it to clean up excess makeup: Emma Watson’s makeup artist says to clean up stray mascara (or other makeup) by dipping a cotton swab in a bit of concealer, you’re cleaning up the area and covering it up at the same time. Genius!
Read more:

The Islamic State of Sexual Violence


The Islamic State of Sexual Violence

The jihadists’ rape campaign in Iraq and Syria is not a women’s issue. It is a terror tactic and a crime against humanity. So why won’t anyone in Washington talk about it?



It’s no secret that now more than ever our bodies are exposed to harmful toxins that do all sorts of outrageously damaging things to our health. They’re in the air we breathe, food we eat and water we drink. The list is almost endless. Although (short of wearing an oxygen mask and never leaving the house) it’s impossible to completely cut out our exposure to all toxins, we can definitely reduce unnecessary exposure as well as improve our body’s efficiency and ability to eradicate them.

Traditionally when we think of detoxing, it’s all healthy foods and cutting out nasties. However, there’s another way to rid your body of toxins that’s a little unorthodox but just as effective (not to mention relaxing).

A detox bath encourages the body to efficiently flush out toxins. When we take a detox bath, we’re not only boosting our health and well-being, but also strengthening our immune system. A detox bath is one of the easiest healing therapies that can be done to facilitate and enhance our body’s natural detoxification process.

Typically, a detox bath is made with Epsom salts, which not only draws out toxins, but also has health benefits of its own:

  • Eases stress and improves sleep and concentration
  • Help muscles and nerves function properly
  • Helps prevent artery hardening and blood clots
  • Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps
  • Improves oxygen use
  • Improves absorption of nutrients
  • Help prevent or ease migraine headaches


  1. Add 5-10 drops of oil to 2 cups of Epsom salt, then add to a standard tub full of water.
  2. It’s important to keep the water quite hot, as you want to make sure you create a nice sweat.
  3. If your bath water isn’t filtered, add 1 cup of baking soda as this helps neutralize the chemicals as well as increase mineral absorption.
  4. Immerse yourself in the water, all the way up to your neck. You want as much of your body underwater as you can.9678bbe6f2495f593bce03aaa5cf60a9



Mindful Worship Meditation #1 – A Tree and Its Fruit

Scriptures in this meditation: 1 Peter 5:7, Luke 6:43-45, Galatians 5:19-21, Galatians 5:22-23

Apple Tree

The high cost of #DOMESTICVIOLENCE


Even One Case Is Too Many”: Vice President Biden Marks the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act

September 09, 2014 at 07:54 PM EDT
Vice President Biden on the 20th Anniversary of VAWA
Vice President Joe Biden speaks on the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, at the National Archives, in Washington, D.C.

Twenty years ago this week, President Clinton signed into law the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) — a landmark law that empowered women and children to expose and prosecute domestic violence. The signing of the law marked the end of an arduous road to pass the legislation and put our society on the path toward effectively combating such heinous abuses. Vice President Joe Biden, then a U.S. Senator, not only authored VAWA, but helped drive it through Congress and deliver it to the President’s desk.

Today, standing in front of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives, Vice President Biden reflected on how far we’ve come in our ability — and willingness — to address domestic violence:

Even just 20 years ago, few people wanted to talk about violence against women as a national epidemic, let alone something to do something about. No one even back then denied that kicking your wife in the stomach, or smashing her in the face, or pushing her down the stairs in public was repugnant. But our society basically turned a blind eye. And hardly anyone ever intervened, directly intervened — other than my father and a few other people I knew.

And no one — virtually no one called it a crime. It was a family affair. It was a family affair. Laws — state laws when we attempted at a state or a federal level to design laws to prevent actions that were said that we now are celebrating, we were told, I was told, many of us were told that it would cause the disintegration of the family. That was the phrase used. It would cause the disintegration of the family.

“This was the ugliest form of violence that exists,” he said, and though many wanted to see these crimes remain hidden in the shadows, the Vice President was committed to bringing them out into the light. “We had to let the nation know,” he said, “because I was absolutely convinced — and remain absolutely convinced — in the basic decency of the American people, and that if they knew, they would begin to demand change.”

“The only way to change this culture was to expose it . . . the best disinfectant is sunlight.”

Change could not come soon enough for the victims of domestic violence. Many summoned the courage to share their stories before Congress in order to convey exactly why the nation needed to act:

These were stories of survivors from all walks of life, all parts of the country, North, South, East and West, and Midwest.  One young woman I remember had her head put in the vice on a workbench by her father, crushing her skull, as punishment and abuse. Another who had both her arms broken with a hammer by her husband because she didn’t respond quickly enough. Several others had their heads beaten with pipes by the men who professed their great love for them; a 15-year-old girl stabbed by her ex-boyfriend who had just been released from prison for beating her before. So many other cases, a famous journalist whose daughter who was killed after having a stay-away order in the Mid-Atlantic states, and her husband following her to Massachusetts because there was no computer system to be able to know it was done, they let him loose.  And he killed her.

More than anything, as we painted this honest picture of what was going on in America, public opinion began to change.  As more men — I might add — and women, but men spoke out, as well, minds began to change.  And the terms of the debate shifted.

Four years after it was first introduced, VAWA finally passed Congress and was signed into law on September 13, 1994.

Since then, VAWA has been reauthorized three times:

In 2000, when we added the definition of dating violence to protect women from violent partners
In 2005, when we added a new training program for health-care providers to screen patients for domestic abuse so they could better address their psychological and physical needs
In 2013, when — despite Republican opposition — we ensured services would be available anywhere to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“When violence against women is no longer societally accepted, no longer kept secret; when everyone understands that even one case is too many. That’s when it will change.”

Though we’ve come a long way as a society, the Vice President made it clear that much work remains:

We have so much more to do, because there’s still sex bias that remains in the American criminal justice system in dealing with rape — stereotypes like she deserved it, she wore a short skirt still taint prosecutions for rape and domestic violence. We’re not going to succeed until America embraces the notion — my father’s notion — that under no circumstance does a man ever have a right to raise a hand to a woman other than in self-defense — under no circumstance; that no means no, whether it’s in a bedroom, or on the street, on in the back of a car — no means no.  Rape is rape — no exceptions.

Until we reach that point, we are not going to succeed.  But I believe that we can get to that point.  It’s still imperfect, but the change is real that’s happening. 

To pursue that progress, the Vice President announced that he will hold a Summit on Civil Rights and Equal Protection for Women in order to expand civil rights remedies in the law — because, as he said, “You can’t talk about human rights and human dignity without talking about the right of every woman on the planet to be free from violence and free from fear.” 

It’s a right that flows from the document behind me — the equal protections clause — inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And it’s enshrined in every document we pay tribute to. And it’s the right that measures the character of the nation. It’s the single-most significant and direct way to measure the character of a nation — when violence against women is no longer societally accepted, no longer kept secret; when everyone understands that even one case is too many. That’s when it will change.

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