Separated by travel ban, Iranian families reunite at border …

Estahbanati, like many Iranian students in the United States, has a single-entry visa and can’t leave the country without risking that she won’t be allowed back in. And her parents, as Iranian citizens, are blocked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban from visiting her in the United States.

She didn’t want to miss her destination: the Haskell Free Library and Opera House.

Estahbanati and her family had agreed to meet around 9 a.m. at the library, which through a historic anomaly straddles the U.S.-Canada border – and today has been thrust into an unlikely role as the site of emotional reunions between people separated by the administration’s immigration policies.

…”This is a neutral area, but the U.S. government doesn’t accept this situation, and they put a lot of pressure on us,” said Sina Dadsetan, an Iranian living in Canada who traveled to the library to see his sister the same day Estahbanati saw her family.

…As they approached each other at the border, demarcated outside the library by a line of flower pots, a U.S. Border Patrol agent quickly got out of a car parked close by.

“He said, ‘It’s been about a month that we’ve closed this; we don’t allow anyone to meet here,'” Izadmehr said. “I asked him, ‘Can you at least give me permission to hug my sister?'”

The agent allowed them to embrace but barred them from exchanging the gifts they had brought – dresses, Swiss chocolates and a watch – and kept a close eye on them as they talked from opposite sides of the flower pots.

The sisters finally entered the library when a staff member offered them a tour, but Border Patrol agents later chastised the staff member, said Izadmehr, who witnessed the exchange.

…The library is vulnerable to pressure from authorities because although the building sits on American and Canadian land, its entrance is on the U.S. side. U.S. officials allow staff and visitors from Canada to walk a few yards onto American soil without going through an official port of entry.

“Often there’s altercations with either RCMP or (U.S.) border security,” head librarian Joel Kerr said in a brief interview in early November, on a day in which two Iranian families reunited at the library. “They mostly harass us and threaten to shut us down.”

…The Iranians were mostly oblivious to signs stating in English and French that, by order of the library’s board of trustees, “family gatherings are not permitted.” Kerr said the signs had gone up just the week before.

Separated by travel ban, Iranian families reunite at border …



A remote Indian island, its fiercely isolationist inhabitants, and the death of an American missionary

A remote Indian island, its fiercely isolationist inhabitants, and the death of an American missionary – Los Angeles Times

It’s not the nicest thing to speak ill of the dead but seriously… What a fucking asswipe douchebag this guy was!

Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople | World news | The Guardian

The Russian Orthodox Church has announced it will break off relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople in a religious schism driven by political friction between Russia and Ukraine.

The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church elected on Monday to cut ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is viewed as the leading authority for the world’s 300 million Orthodox worshippers.

The split is a show of force by Russia after a Ukrainian church was granted independence.

Last week Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the “first among equals” of eastern Orthodox clerics, granted autocephaly (independence) to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which previously answered to Moscow.

Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople | World news | The Guardian


Sabarimala: Mobs attack women near India Hindu temple

Crowds of agitated protesters in Kerala attacked female devotees, many of whom turned back as a result.

Several people including an old woman were injured as crowds threw stones at vehicles and attacked police officers.

…But while most Hindu temples allow women to enter as long as they are not menstruating, the Sabarimala temple was unusual in that it was one of the few that do not allow women in a broad age group to enter at all.

This was overturned by the Supreme Court last month, with judges observing that “the right to practice religion is available to both men and women”.

Sabarimala: Mobs attack women near India Hindu temple – BBC News