Updates from August, 2018 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Earthling 12:01 am on 29th August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Artem Kozlyuk, blocking IPs, blocking IPs without court, Elvira Baiullina, extrajudicial blocking, , Russian Central Bank, ,   

    Russian Central Bank seeks right to extrajudicially block sites 

    The Russian Central Bank has developed a draft amendment to the law “On information”, allowing the regulator to block sites, located in Russia or abroad, if they are used for financial fraud.
    The Central Bank wants to get the right to block sites that are used for financial fraud, without trial. This idea, according to “Vedomosti”, was discussed last week at a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov. The regulator has developed a draft amendment to the law “On information”, giving it such powers regardless of whether the site is located in the Russian or foreign zone. If the Central Bank receives such powers, it will become the seventh state body that has the right to place sites in the Register of Prohibited Information.
    The regulator aimed at sites whose names are similar to others, which allows them to mislead consumers, as well as sites that provide financial services without a license. The right to block such sites will be granted to either the Chairman of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina, or one of her deputies.
    Also, the Central Bank wants to block sites that provide access to the resources of financial and credit institutions, not without trial, but in the pre-trial phase, using the block as an interim security measure. Finally, the Central Bank asks for the authority to block sites that spread false information about the state of financial institutions. But this idea was not supported by Akimov.
    The major Russian bank VTB supports the initiative of the Central Bank, as it considers it an effective method of combating fraud and the spread of malicious software, said the representative of the VTB. An employee of another large bank agreed with this. The rights of consumers can be protected by out-of-court blocking of phishing sites on foreign domains and sites that provide financial services, said Elman Mehdiyev, Executive Vice President of the Association of Russian banks.
    The head of the public organization “Roskomsvoboda” Artem Kozlyuk, in comments for “Vedomosti”, said that in contrast, he does not support this initiative, as violators can instantly move and continue their activities, and respectable sites that are unlucky enough to “live” on blocked IP-addresses and subnets will stop working:
    “More and more websites are being blocked by mistake without trial or before trial, so there is no need to expand the list of agencies with such powers. And sites that are blocked without trial cannot quickly challenge the regulator’s actions, and to make their sites available to users they have to remove the disputed information.”
    In July last year, the Central Bank discussed with the Ministry of Communications (now — the Ministry of Finance) a bill to empower it to block websites of financial pyramids in the pre-trial phase. The regulator planned to collect the web adresses of organizations that conduct illegal financial transactions and send them to Roskomnadzor.
    At the end of 2016, the Central Bank signed an agreement with the Coordination Center (CC) of the national internet domain — the administrator of national top-level domains “.rf” and “.ru” — according to which the Central Bank has received the status of a competent organization with the right to identify violating sites that distribute malware, resources with illegal content, and phishing sites, and to provide this data to the Coordination Center and accredited domain name registrars so they can block such sites. Last year, the Central Bank of Russia initiated the blocking of several hundred such internet resources.
    Translated from Roskomsvoboda: https://roskomsvoboda.org/41143/
    In the comments section it was suggested that these government agencies with the authority to extrajudicially block sites may start blocking each other soon.

  • Earthling 11:42 am on 27th August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: female farms, feminism and farming, first farmers, FOFI, funding women farmers, funds for woman farmers, IDE, IFAD, , rise of female farmers, rise of woman farmers, role of women, seeds for farmer women, Solidarities ngo, traditional farming, where women belong, women, women are good farmers   

    Global Food Crisis Raises the Status of Female Farmers 

    By Carroll Colette J. Yorgey
    According to Worldwatch, the global food crisis has reached epic proportions with more than one billion starving people every day, worldwide, with only 10 percent of charitable funding going to women farmers. Agricultural organizations are beginning to take notice of the important role of women farmers.
    Women farmers worldwide and especially in developing countries are taking action to increase their crop yields and educate themselves about sustainable farming, as part of their drive to nurture and protect their families by farming their land and improving food sources for their families. Within the near future women farmers will more and more take action to increase their funding sources themselves.
    Traditionally women, going back to hunting and gathering societies, were the first farmers. While men went out hunting for big game, the women stayed closer to home and gathered fruits and berries. When the first peoples began farming it was the women who were home with the children and who started planting and growing fruits and vegetables, while the men were still out hunting.
    With the advent of the industrial revolution and the 20th century, men took over the role of farming and gardening and it seemed to be a man’s occupation, but in countrysides and on family farms even though it appeared that men were the farmers, women could often be seen driving tractors and other farm equipment to support the farm. However today, women are increasingly buying and operating farms and are no longer the little woman helping out. Women are the farmers of today, and buying and owning farms. Women are today at the forefront of keeping the family together by doing their part in farming and growing crops to feed their families.
    Women have traditionally been the nurturers of their families, taking care of the children and staying home with the children. Women as they have grown into their own are beginning to realize some of the traditional roles of women are still very important and serve to increase the worth of women. Women are opting to stay home again, while at the same time operating the business of farming. Younger women are more acutely aware of environmental impacts of food on their families, and have taken the reins to building farms that protect and nurture their families, both here in America and around the world.
    Women farmers in America
    Jennifer Ludden, in her article entitled “Female Farmers: A Growing Trend in America”, states that “women now run 1 in 10 American farms,” with the number of farms managed by women climbing 13 percent between 1987 and 2002. Pennsylvania alone “lost 2,000 farms but gained 1,000 farms managed by women.”
    Allison Rogers in her article entitled, “Female Farmers Get Down and Dirty”, published in Mother Earth News, states that in America’s northeast region, 20,000 farms are owned and managed by women. In Virginia and Maryland, the rise in women-run farms has been 16 percent.
    Women farmers in developing countries
    In developing countries, women are taking over the role of farming, such as in Nairobi, Kenya, the largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa, where women “harvest vegetables on the outskirts of city slums” by “growing vegetables in sacks filled with dirt.” In sub-Saharan Africa, 80 percent of small farmers are women.
    Women farmers worldwide
    Worldwide 1.6 billion women are farmers and “depend on agriculture as their livelihood,” and produce more than one half of the world’s food supply. However, worldwide, women own only 2 percent of the land and only receive 5 percent of agricultural extension services.
    According to Action Aid at Worldwatch.org their goal is to cut hunger in half by 2015. To do this they are urging donors and governments to target female farmers for “funding and development.” Other agricultural organizations are also taking notice of female farmers to help them with resources needed to improve and build their farms, such as supplying seeds.
    Organizations that are helping to fund women farmers:

    • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
    • French NGO, Solidarities
    • International Development Enterprises (IDE)
    • Farmers for the Future Initiative (FOFI)

    These organizations are helping to do their part in helping to wipe out hunger by noticing women at the helm of farming initiatives and offering funding, education, and support to female farmers.
    Other organizations such as the Community Economic Development program at Southern New Hampshire University, educate both men and women in developing countries who bring back to their countries ways to improve their community economies. They are taught sustainable agriculture, organic farming, and how to improve degraded lands and streams for the health and well-being of their families.
    In conclusion, women, the traditional farmers of the world are more and more realizing their primary role as nurturers and taking on the responsibility of improving world conditions by being active farmers. Agricultural organizations are beginning to recognize women as a primary source for staving off world hunger and are beginning to fund more and more women farmers.
    Copyright © 2018 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey. Edited and used with her permission.
    Relevant Links:


  • Earthling 12:37 pm on 26th August 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Vladimir Sofronitsky, the ultimate Scriabin interpreter 

    Vladimir Vladimirovich Sofronitsky (Born on May 8, 1901 in- St. Petersburg, Russia — Died on August 26, 1961 in Moscow, Russia) was a Russian pianist and teacher who is particularly known for his mastery of Alexander Scriabin’s works. He married Scriabin’s daughter. During his lifetime, he was widely considered the greatest pianist in Russia. [1]

    Sofronitsky hated recordings and called them “corpses.”
    Sofronitsky was born in St. Petersburg in 1901. Sofronitsky’s father was a professor of mathematics and physics. His mother was from an artistic family that included the painter Vladimir Borovikovsky. They had six children, of whom Sofronitsky and his sister Vera were the youngest.
    The family moved to Warsaw in 1903. Sofronitsky showed pianistic talent from a young age, so his parents arranged lessons for him with Anna Lebedeva-Getcevich, a student of Nikolai Rubinstein. When Sofronitsky was nine, he performed at a concert along with Lebedeva-Getcevich’s other pupils. He impressed the composer Alexander Glazunov, who arranged for him to take lessons from Aleksander Michałowski. In 1913, Sofronitsky’s family moved back to St. Petersburg, but he continued his studies through monthly visits.
    When World War 1 broke out, he stopped visiting Warsaw. He took lessons with Leonid Shchedrin for a a year, then went to the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1916. At the Conservatory he studied piano under Leonid Nikolaiev and composition under Maximillian Steinberg. Among his fellow pupils at this time were Dmitri Shostakovich, Vladimir Horowitz, Simon Barere, Maria Yudina, and his future wife Elena Scriabin, the daughter of famous composer Alexander Scriabin (d. 1915).
    Sofronitsky began giving concerts in 1919. In 1920 he gave his first Scriabin-only concert, and he married Elena Scriabin the same year. Elena Scriabin was Alexander Scriabin’s eldest daughter. She vouched for Sofronitsky’s supremacy as a Scriabin interpreter, and Sofronitsky became deeply tied to the composer, although he never met him.
    Sofronitksy graduated in 1921 with a performance of Scriabin’s piano concerto. The next year, he performed Scriabin’s Prometheus with the conductor Nikolai Malko. He continued to give many concerts in Russia over the 1920s, and specialized in Scriabin.
    In 1928, Sofronitsky and Elena went to Paris for a tour. They stopped in Warsaw on the way. After giving the tour, they decided to stay for a while and remained in Paris for two years. They enjoyed the presence there of their friends the composers Sergei Prokofiev and Nikolai Medtner. Sofronitsky’s marriage did not go well and he separated from Elena Scriabin before returning to St. Petersburg in 1930.
    Throughout the 1930s, Sofronitsky continued to play Scriabin, Chopin, and his other old favorites; he also introduced more European music into his repertoire, ranging from Baroque music to contemporary French composers. In 1936, he started teaching at the Leningrad Conservatory. From 1937-8, he gave a twelve-concert series that summarized the history of keyboard music from Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) to contemporary composers.
    Sofronitsky was in Leningrad during the Siege of Leningrad in 1941. He continued to play during the siege and gave a concert at -3 degrees Celsius. He was evacuated to Moscow in 1942, and became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory the next year. Here he met his second wife, Valentina Duschinova.
    Sofronitsky continued to give many concerts and his pianism was highly esteemed throughout the USSR. He was however not allowed to leave the USSR because he was not on particularly good terms with the Soviet authorities. The only exception made was when Stalin sent him to play at the Potsdam Conference in 1945.
    In Moscow, Sofronitsky frequnetly performed at the Scriabin Museum. It has been reported that he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, but the evidence for this is disputed. [1] [2] He did not like teaching at the Conservatory, and avoided socializing. He lived a solitary life, absorbed in his music.
    Beginning in World War 2, Sofronitsky’s health steadily deteriorated. He was often bedridden beginning in 1957. He died in 1961 in Moscow.
    Musical Style and Legacy
    Sofronitksy was highly esteemed in the USSR during his lifetime, and was widely considered the most talented pianist in the USSR. Sofronitsky hated recordings and called them “my corpses”. Nevertheless, a number of his recordings have come down to us, notably of Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Lyadov, Liszt, Chopin, Beethoven, and Schumann. [1]
    Sofronitsky’s style has been described as improvisational, emotional, and spiritual. His renditions of Scriabin are particularly well-regarded, and Elena Scriabin said that he was the greatest interpreter of her father’s music. Sofronitsky was highly praised by fellow master pianists such as Heinrich Neuhaus, Emil Gilels, Sviatoslav Ricther, and Vladimir Horowitz. [1]
    [1] http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Sofronitsky-Vladimir.htm
    [2] https://www.allmusic.com/artist/vladimir-sofronitsky-mn0001725151
    Article written by me for Lunyr
  • Earthling 11:43 am on 22nd August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dhikr, , Islamic meditation, Islamic practices, Meditation, , , Sufi practices, Sufism   

    What is Dhikr? 

    Dhikr (also spelled Zikr) is an Islamic term designating the remembrance of Allah, either inwardly in the heart or outwardly with the tongue. Dhikr is a fundamental act of Islamic worship that is enjoined upon Muslims in the Quran. The word ‘dhikr’ literally means ‘remembering’ or ‘remembrance’. When done with the tongue, dhikr may be whispered silently or raised to any volume. Verbal dhikr is often done with prayer beads (tashbih).
    Dhikr may consist of the names of Allah, or of phrases relating to him such as “Allah is sufficient for us, and He is the best disposer of affairs.” Often the recitation of blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad (salawat) is included in the term dhikr. Dhikr may be done spontaneously, or based on formulas contained in prophetic narrations or litanies (awrad) received from a spiritual guide.
    Dhikr may be done alone or in unison with others in a group. Group dhikr is particularly characteristic of Sufism, but it is also found among other branches of Islam. Some Muslims who do not usually recite group dhikr will do so on special occasions such as the Eid and Mawlid celebrations.
    Dhikr may also be done silently. When done silently and with concentration, it may closely resemble other forms of meditation.
    The primary purpose of dhikr is to draw closer to Allah. It also serves to inwardly purify the person and help them become a better person. Muslims are encourged to do dhikr as much as possible.
    Sufi Dhikr
    Sufism involves a number of distinct forms of dhikr that are not part of mainstream practice: daily recitation of a litany (wird), group guided recitation of a litany (individually or in unison), the hadra which involves swaying or dancing while reciting dhikr, and various forms of musical performance and audition known as sema.
    The litanies recited are assigned by a Sufi shaykh, sometimes on an individual basis but often with the same litany for the entire tariqa (sufi group). Often there is a basic litany for the whole group, then individuals are given additional litanies to recite based on their individual needs. The recitation of the daily litanies may be prescribed at various times throughout the day and takes from minutes up to hours; in cases of intense spiritual practice, a shaykh may prescribe doing verbal dhikr all day long.
    The elements of the litany are principally ordinary dhikrs such as the names of Allah, common religious phrases, supplications, and blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad. Other elements may include songs, poems, and writings of the Sufi shaykhs.
    Group dhikr organized by Sufi tariqas usually takes place at least weekly. Hadras may be less frequent. The hadra often involves men standing in a circle, linking their arms, and swaying side to side or rocking back and forth, while loudly reciting names of Allah. Hadras and sema may also involve whirling, a practice that was originated by Rumi. Sema is especially associated with the Mevlevi and Chishti Sufi orders.
    Special forms of dhikr such as sema and hadra were not prevalent or nonexistent in the first generations of Muslims. Sufis have been criticized for introducing undesirable innovations to Islam through new forms of dhikr, and they respond that the principle behind the dhikrs is orthodox even though the forms are original. Other branches of Islam often limit dhikr to the forms and litanies that were clearly practiced by the first generation of Muslims, on the basis that innovation is undesirable or forbidden.
    Vision of Islam (Visions of Reality), by Sachiko Murata and William Chittick
    A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century, by Martin Lings

  • Earthling 3:21 pm on 18th August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Author of Wedding March, Composer, Conductor, Felix Mendelssohn, , German music, Greatest Romantic Composer, Jew music, , , Writer of Wedding March   

    Felix Mendelssohn 

    Felix Mendelssohn (Born on February 3, 1809 in Hamburg, Germany – Died on November 4, 1847 in Leipzig, Germany) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, and teacher of Jewish descent. He is considered one of the greatest early Romantic composers. His most famous piece is his Wedding March, which remains one of the most popular wedding songs in the world.
    Felix Mendelssohn was born in 1809 in Hamburg to Abraham and Leah Mendelssohn. His full name is Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. He was the grandson of the famous philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. His parents were converts to Christianity. They moved to Berlin during the French occupation of Hamburg, when Felix was two years old. His father became a banker.
    Mendelssohn and his sister Fanny both received early piano lessons from their mother. Mendelssohn’s early musical education progressed with piano lessons under Ludwig Berger and composition lessons under Karl Friedrich Zelter. He also studied foreign language, drawing, and painting. In 1816, he stayed in Paris for a while and had piano lessons from Marie Bigot.
    Mendelssohn was a child prodigy. During his childhood years, he wrote several operas and eleven symphonies, among many other compositions. His public debut took place in Berlin when he was nine years old.
    In 1819, Mendelssohn entered the Singakademie academy and composed prolifically. He also began conducting there. Mendelssohn studied with the renowned pianist and compoers Ignaz Moscheles in 1824.
    In 1829, Mendelssohn conducted a successful performance of St. Matthew Passion by Bach. Later that year, he conducted the London Philharmonic Society. He began writing his third symphony, known as his Scottish Symphony, while in Scotland.
    Mendelssohn toured Europe for several years, conducting and continuing to compose. In 1835, he became the conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. In 1836, Mendelssohn met Cécile Jeanrenaud in Frankfurt, and they married the next year. They had five children.
    In 1843, Mendelssohn founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music and served as its director. The Conservatory is still running today and is the oldest university of music in Germany. Mendelssohn has been credited with establishing Leipzig as the musical center of Germany. [1]
    Mendelssohn began to suffer health problems in 1844. In 1847, Mendelssohn’s sister Fanny suddenly died. Mendelssohn became depressed and his health worsened. Six months after his sister, Mendelssohn died from a ruptured blood vessel at age 38.
    Musical Style and Legacy
    Mendelssohn is considered to be one of the most major early Romantic composers. He remains extremely popular, and his Wedding March is one of the most widely known wedding marches in the world. His music has been described as dramatic, energetic, and original.
    Mendelssohn took inspiration from Bach and played a significant role in reviving interest in him. He also appreciated and supported his contemporary Franz Schubert.
    Notable Works
    Wedding March (from music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
    Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 25
    Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 40
    Violin Concerto, Op. 64
    People often complain that music is too ambiguous, that what they should think when they hear it is so unclear, whereas everyone understands words. With me, it is exactly the opposite, and not only with regard to an entire speech but also with individual words.”

    [1] https://www.biography.com/people/felix-mendelssohn-40373
    Article written by me for Lunyr

  • Earthling 11:56 am on 10th August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: First foreign conqueror of all China, Founder of Yuan Dynasty, , Khubilai Khan, Khublai Khan, Kubla Khan, , , Qubilai Khan, Toluid prince   

    Khubilai Khan 

    Article written by me for Lunyr
  • Earthling 1:38 pm on 9th August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , bitcoin censorship, bitcoin site censorship, crypto info blocked in Russia, , , Cryptocurrency and crime, cryptocurrency site block, DEA, Russian prosecutors, US Drug Enforcement Agency   

    Bitcoin is cleared of crimes 

    It turns out only 10% of transactions in cryptocurrencies are used for criminal purposes (5 years ago it was 90%).
    A study by the US Drug Enforcement Administration could be a useful addition to the knowledge of Russian regional prosecutors, who often argue for the prohibition of bitcoin sites by claiming that cryptocurrencies are used for criminal purposes.
    The use of bitcoin for criminal activites has decreased from 90% to 10%, as concluded by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which analyzed cryptocurrency transactions over the past five years. Special agent Lilita Infante told journalists that most operations with digital money are carried out by speculators.
    She added that blockchain technology has been used by US law enforcement agencies in recent years to identify citizens in the fight against money laundering and drug trafficking:
    “Blockchain gives us tools to identify people. In fact, I would like to see criminals continue using it.”
    The DEA agent noted that activity in the black markets continues to grow, as well as the volume of criminal transactions.
    When blocking bitcoin sites, Russian prosecutors often use the same argument — they allege that the cryptocurrencies are used to finance terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities. The head lawyer of Roskomsvoboda, Sarkis Darbinyan, claimed last fall that “prosecutors have not one proof of the illegality of cryptocurrencies,” so statements about the need to block certain sites in connection with the potential harmfulness of cryptocurrencies do not stand up to any criticism. We hope that this latest study from American drug fighters will cause a significant upgrade in the knowledge of Russian prosecutors concerning cryptocurrencies, and that the persecution of bitcoin sites will slow down at least a little.
    Translated from https://roskomsvoboda.org/40840/

  • Earthling 3:14 pm on 7th August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , educational apps, educational software, Federal Service for the Supervision of Education and Science, mobile app, mobile apps, Natalya Naumova, Rosobornadzor, , Russia USe, Russian government mobile apps, , Russian Unified State Exam, student anxiety, Unified State Exam, USE, ЕГЭ, Единый государственный экзамен   

    Russian government promises a mobile application for the Unified State Exam 

    According to Natalya Naumova, deputy head of Rosobornadzor (the Federal Service for the Supervision of Education and Science), one of the goals of developing a mobile app is to reduce the anxiety of children, parents and teachers. In addition to the application, they promise to develop a memo for the students about their rights. “We will focus on this, so that the students will know where to go, what the procedures are, and so these events can be explained to parents and students,” says Naumova.
    Recall that in February, Rosobrnadzor launched video consultations on preparing for the USE, and even earlier they released a series of posters , where the rules and features of the exam are presented in the form of infographics.
    Translated from http://www.edutainme.ru/post/rosobrnadzor-obeshchaet-razrabotat-mobilnoe-prilozhenie-o-ege/

  • Earthling 3:45 am on 6th August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: admirable body, , , Ali Jafarey, Ameretat, Amesha Spentas, Ameshaspenta, Ancient religion, angels, Archangel, Arda Viraf, Armaiti, Arthur Bleeck, Asha, , Bartholomae, beautiful body, Beings of Lights, bright body, , conscience, D.J. Irani, fat cow, Fire in Zoroastrianism, Fire temples, Fire worship, Fire worshippers, firouz Azargoshasb, , Freddy Mercury, garden of paradise, , Gathas of Zarathustra, God, good and evil, guardian angel, Haurvetat, Helmut Humbach, History of the Avesta, Hymns of Zarathustra, illustrious noble race, J.M. Chatterji, Kenneth Guthrie, Kshathra, , M.L. West, maiden of paradise, majestic maiden, Morgan Freeman, Nietzsche, noble maiden, paradise in zoroastrianism, Parsis, Piloo Nanavutty, , rosy arms, self, Stanley Insler, strong maiden, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Thus spoke Zarathustra, true nature of self, upright maiden, Vohu Mana, Yazata, Zarathustra,   

    Amazing Facts about Zoroastrianism 

    Zoroastrianism is an ancient religion that is associated with Iran and Afghanistan, its places of origin. It has some elements in common with Islam and Hinduism, among other religions. Zoroastrianism once had a substantial presence in the Caucasus and Armenia, and its influence can still be found in Dagestan. There remains an unused Zoroastrian fire temple in Georgia. Nowadays the most Zoroastrians are in India and Iran, although there are diaspora to be found around the world, from Kurdistan to Canada and Hong Kong. Zoroastrians today are remarkably diverse. For example, there are differences of opinion about whether or not God is omnipotent, whether or not people should worship fire, whether or not we reincarnate after we die, and whether or not there is a revealed Zoroastrian sacred law (comparable to the Islamic sharia).
    All about fire
    Sacred text: the Avesta
    Beings of light: the Amesha Spentas
    Your beautiful self: Daena

    All about fire

    Fire occupies a very important place in Zoroastrianism. Historically, Zoroastrians have been known for worshiping fire. However, a significant number of modern Zoroastrians do not worship fire. In the Zoroastrian scriptures, fire is referred to as the “son of Ahura Mazda.” Fires are expected to be treated with reverence and protected from abuse or pollution. This is especially the case for the sacred fires contained in fire temples or altars, but it also applies to all fires in general.
    Fire is considered to be an essentially sacred entity and a direct symbol or manifestation of divinity. Fire is particularly associated with the angelic quality or entity (depending on the interpretation) called Asha. Asha has been translated as “truth,” “righteousness,” and “order,” among other things; and Asha is also known as an archangelic entity (ameshaspenta) with a personality. Asha is revered in one of the principal Zoroastrian prayers as “the greatest good,” and similarly, fire is regarded as the most sacred element. Fire is also considered a symbol of spiritual light and the inner spiritual flame (mainyu athra) that illuminates the path of truth and righteousness.
    Fire is associated with creation as well. In the historical saga Shahnameh, Zarathustra is quoted as saying “Look at the heavens and the earth. God did not make them with dust and water. Look upon the fire and witness therein how they were created.” [3]
    Fire Temples
    According to traditional Zoroastrianism, the most appropriate place for a fire is the altar in the fire temple, and when fires are used for worldly purposes, this is intended only to be a temporary concession. Fires used for worldly purposes are supposed to be brought back to the fire altar eventually. [1]
    The fire altar in the fire temple is tended to by ordained priests. It is required to be kept burning at all times, as a symbol of the eternal flame of Asha (Truth/Righteousness). It is fed with pure fuels and protected from contaminants, as a symbol of how Zoroastrians should inwardly remain pure. Some possible historical fuels for the sacred fires are twigs and wood from Camel thorn, Juniper, and Plane trees. [2]
    Although Zoroastrians may sometimes worship in fire temples, it is usual on a day-to-day basis for them to worship at home, or in an open space while facing a source of light. Some evidence, such as accounts from Greek historians Strabo and Herodotus, indicates that the Zoroastrians in their time worshiped on platforms in high places and did not have temples or altars. [2]
    Types of Fire
    In organized Zoroastrianism, there have historically been many types of fire. The three principal types are Atash Bahram (victorious fire), Atash Adaran (fire of fires), and Atash Dadgah (court fire). Each of these types of fire is lit, consecrated, and maintained differently. The Atash Barham needs to be maintained by a Dastur (High Priest), the Atash Adaran requires only a Mobed (Advanced Priest), and the Atash Dadgah does not require any priest. The consecration of the Atash Barham requires 32 priests and can take up to a year; the consecration of the Atash Adaran requires eight priests and may take several weeks; the consecration of the Atash Dadgah requires one or two priests and can be done in a few hours. [3]

    Sacred text: the Avesta

    The Avesta is the main body of Zoroastrian religious texts. Many parts of the Avesta, and sometimes the whole Avesta, are attributed directly to the prophet Zarathustra. The Avesta is divided into two parts, the Old Avesta and the Younger Avesta, which are linguistically and stylistically different, and usually held to come from different periods. The Old Avesta includes the Gathas, which are widely considered the holiest part of the Avesta by Zoroastrians, and sometimes considered the only part truly written by him. The Gathas are contained in the Yasna, which are other prayers in the Old Avestan language. The Younger Avesta is in a different, newer-seeming language, and includes diverse content such as the daily prayers recited by Zoroastrians, the Vendidad, and accounts of the afterlife.
    There are different opinions among Zoroastrians as to whether the Avesta was non-participatively revealed by Ahura Mazda, or authored by Zarathustra himself, or some combination of the two. Conservative Zoroastrians more often hold the first opinion, while more liberal Zoroastrians are more likely to accept only the Gathas and believe that they were authored by Zarathustra rather than revealed to him.
    History of the Avesta
    The date of the authoring and/or revelation of the Avesta is disputed. Estimates for the age of the oldest part, the Gathas, have ranged from 7000 B.C. to 200 B.C. One Zoroastrian scholar, J.M. Chatterji, claimed that the Gathas were originally part of the Vedas.
    The original Avesta was said by Pliny to have had two million verses. Others say that approximately a fourth of the Avesta has survived. According to Zoroastrian tradition, the original Avesta contained 21 volumes. Each volume is said to correspond to a word of the Ahuna Vairya, the most sacred Zoroastrian prayer, which has 21 words. Three of the lost volumes are said to have been commentaries on the Gathas. The content of the lost volumes has been summarized in medieval Pahlavi texts, notably the Dinkard and the Bundahishn.
    Most of the original Avesta is believed to have been lost during the invasions of Alexander the Great, the medieval Arabs, and possibly the later Turks and Mongols. Only the 19th volume, the Vendidad, is considered fully preserved by some Zoroastrians, while others consider it a fabrication.
    In the fourth century BC, Alexander the Great conquered Persia. Zoroastrian tradition says that there were two full manuscripts of the Avesta at that time; one was destroyed by Alexander, and he took the other to disseminate among the Greeks. After the Zoroastrians regained Persia, they began compiling the Avesta again from fragments that had been written down or memorized.
    During the Arab conquest of Iran, one story says that the Caliph Umar ordered all the books from the Library of Ctesiphon to be destroyed. However, some scholars think that the Avesta was not destroyed at that time because detailed summaries of the Avesta were written centuries after the Arab conquest.
    Whatever remained of the Avesta following the Arab conquests may have been destroyed during the extremely destructive Mongol conquests, in which the Library of Baghdad was destroyed and Iran as a whole experienced unprecedented devastation.
    Translations of the Gathas
    The Gathas have been translated much more often than the rest of the Avesta. Translations have been very diverse depending on the approach used. Some methodologies include the Western philological approach, the mystical approach of the Ilk-e-Khshnoom school, and the traditional approach based largely on Pahlavi texts. Some translators rely more on similarities between Avestan and Sanskrit, which are sister languages, while other rely more on medieval Pahlavi texts or original reasoning. Many words that are interpreted as simple pastoral terms by Western translators are given a wider meaning by Zoroastrian translators. For example, the same phrase may translated as either “soul of the bull” or “soul of the world”; other such pairs include “milk” and “prosperity”, “butter” and “knowledge”, and so on.
    Notable Western translations include those of Arthur Bleeck, Stanley Insler, Helmut Humbach, M.L. West, Christian Bartholomae, and Kenneth Guthrie. Notable Zoroastrian translations have been made by J.M. Chatterji, Ali Jafarey, Firouz Azargoshasb, Piloo Nanavutty, and D. J. Irani.

    Beings of Light: Amesha Spentas

    In Zoroastrian doctrine, the Amesha Spentas are the seven first creations and the holiest beings after (or sometimes including) Ahura Mazda. The word ‘ameshaspenta’ has been translated as ‘bounteous immortal’, ‘Essence of God’, ‘Divine Spark’, ‘Divine Attribute’, and ‘Archangel’. The name of each Amesha Spenta can be interpreted as designating an attribute of Ahura Mazda, an archangel corresponding to that attribute, and a quality of ordinary beings like humans which is to be cultivated. The Amesha Spentas are named Vohu Mana, Asha, Kshathra, Armaiti, Haurvetat, Ameretat, and Ahura Mazda. The term ‘ameshaçpenta’ is sometimes used to refer to only the six Amesha Spentas other than Ahura Mazda, sometimes to refer to all seven, and sometimes it is used as a broad term for all of the Yazatas (“Archangels”).
    The Amesha Spentas are divided into male and female. This is done according to their linguistic gender. Vohu Mana, Asha, and Kshathra are linguistically neuter and therefore male, while Armaiti, Haurvetat, and Ameretat are linguistically feminine and therefore female. The name Ahura Mazda is both masculine and feminine, since Ahura is masculine and Mazda is feminine.
    Some of the Amesha Spentas are described as Ahura Mazda’s offspring. For example, Vohu Mana is said to be his son and Armaiti is said to be his daughter.
    Vohu Mana
    Vohu Mana may designate a human faculty of intelligence, a higher state of being which is to be reached by means of this faculty, the metaphysical space within which the faculty exists, and a specific archangelical entity with a personality. Vohu means good, and Mana has been translated variously as thought, mind, mindedness, thinking, intention, and disposition. One translator has Vohu Mana as ’’conscience’’, and others have rendered it as ‘’reason’’.
    Asha is usually translated as truth, right, righteousness, or justice. Other translations include law, reality, order, beauty, purity, holiness, freedom, superb brilliance and excellence, and artistic ingenuity. According to the Ashem Vohu (the second most important Zoroastrian prayer) Asha is the greatest good in existence, and a supreme source of happiness for all who possess it. Asha is symbolized by fire, which is the most important and revered physical element for Zoroastrians.
    Kshathra has been translated as dominion, power, control, and sovereignty. Sometimes the word is used to refer to the ‘’Kingdom of Heaven’’, sometimes to speak of benevolent political rulership, and sometimes to speak of a person’s benevolent sovereignty over their own self.
    Armaiti is translated very diversely. These translations include faith, piety, devotion, love, service, peace, serenity, tranquility, divine wisdom, and contemplation.
    Haurvetat and Ameretat
    Haurvetat means perfection, integrity, completeness and wholeness. It’s almost always paired with Ameretat, which means immortality. These two are translated more consistently than the other Amesha Spentas.
    Amesha Spentas and Elements
    The order the Amesha Spentas are presented in above is the order they are said to have been created in. Each of the Amesha Spentas symbolically corresponds to an element or class of living beings. The correspondence normally given is:

    • Vohu Mana corresponds to Animal Life.
    • Asha corresponds to Ether and Fire.
    • Kshasthra corresponds to Minerals and Metal.
    • Armaiti corresponds to Earth,
    • Haurvetat corresponds to Water, and the Ambrosia of Paradise.
    • Ameretat corresponds to Plants, and the Nectar of Paradise.
    • Ahura Mazda corresponds to Man.

    It is worth noting that the order of the production of the elements is different from the order of the creation of the Amesha Spentas. The elements and associated Amesha Spentas are celebrated during the six Gahambar festivals throughout the year, which are timed according to the seasons and represent the development of matter and its final return to the Spirit. The same elements and Amesha Spentas are also celebrated on the six Jashan days every month, which are done in the order of the creation of the Amesha Spentas.

    Your beautiful self: Daena

    The word Daena designates several concepts within Zoroastrianism. It can designate a person’s words, actions, thoughts, and intentions, especially envisioned from a moral perspective. It can also mean religion or conscience in a general sense. Daena also designates the Fravashi, which is the innermost angelical soul and also a sort of guardian angel. According to some schools of thought, the Daena is not uniquely possessed by human beings; everything is said to have a Daena, including the supreme deity Ahura Mazda. Daena is also considered to be a specific archangel (yazata). The Daena is notably described as sometimes appearing in the form of a beautiful young maiden.
    Daena in the Gathas
    The Gathas are widely considered the most significant and sacred Zoroastrian text. The word Daena is used more than thirty times in the Gathas, with various meanings. It generally designates the doctrine and teachings of Zarathustra, but the word is also used to designate religions or ways of living in general, and thus there is mention of the Daena of the evil person. The Daena appears as something abstract or manifested in a person’s choices, which benefits, honors, and helps the righteous, yet leads the evil to destruction. In the Gathas the idea of the Daena as a distinct individual entity with a physical appearance is not elaborated, unlike in later texts.
    Daena as Soul or Guardian Angel
    In later Zoroastrian texts the word Fravashi is often used to designate the Daena in the sense of guardian angel or innermost soul. According to the Zoroastrian doctrines, a person’s original innermost essence is the Daena or Fravashi, a heavenly being of light that chose to descend into the darkness of this world and do battle with evil. The individual soul in this world is a battleground between the Daena and demonic forces; so a righteous person is protected by their Daena and becomes one with it again after death, whereas the evil person is distanced from their original Daena and is lost in darkness.
    Appearance of the Daena after Death
    In various Zoroastrian texts, excluding the Gathas, the Daena is portrayed taking on a physical form when she meets a man after his death. The most commonly mentioned form is that of a beautiful fifteen-year-old virgin. This description is found in Zoroastrian texts such as Hadokht Nask, the Bundahishn, and the Book of Arda Viraf. Hadokht Nask of the Avesta describes the Daena of the righteous man as “beautiful, bright, with rosy [or white] arms, strong, majestic, with an upright and slender form, an admirable body, noble, of illustrious race, fifteen years of age, with a body brighter than the brightest of creatures.”
    In the Bundahishn, other forms of the Daena are mentioned: the form of a fat cow, and the form of a garden. The Bundahishn also mentions the Daena as she appears to the evil man after his death: in the form of a weak and sickly cow, then a hideous and ugly young woman, then a dry and barren garden. Thus, the forms perceived depend on the moral qualities of the person.
    In the narrative of the Bundahishn, the man asks the forms of the Daena who they are, and they all respond, “I am your Deen” (‘Deen’ being a later form of the word ‘Daena’). In the Hadokht Nask, the man asks “What maiden are you, most beautiful of all maidens I have ever seen?”, and the Daena responds, “I am your good thoughts, your good words and your good actions, the very nature [Daena] of your own body.”


    “Translating the Holy Gathas of Zarathustra Spitama”, from Expressing the Inexpressible (Thesis for Marlboro College, 2014), by Zebulon Goertzel

    Content taken from Lunyr articles written by me.

  • Earthling 1:48 pm on 4th August 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Acer in Russia, Dmitry Kravchenko, Federal Antimonopoly Service, FSA, GAFAM in Russia, Google in Russia, Google vs Russia, monopolies in Russia, preinstalled apps, preinstalled software, removing preinstalled apps in Russia, , Russian smartphone manufacturers, , Russian software competition, Russoft, Trojans from FSB, Valentina Makarova, Yandex vs Google   

    Russia: Smartphones & computers await mandatory Russian software 

    predustan_rf-softaThis initiative was made by the FAS (Federal Antimonopoly Service), which by April 2019 plans to legally require mobile phone and computer manufacturers to preinstall domestic equivalents of foreign applications and software.
    The new legislation obliging manufacturers of smartphones and computers to preinstall domestic analogues of foreign software should be prepared by April 2019, as revealed by the final version of the roadmap to develop competition for 2018-2020, created by the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia.
    Manufacturers will also have to provide users with the ability to completely remove preinstalled programs and applications, except for service ones. This will empower consumers to select their own software, according to the FAS. The main executor of the preparation of the federal law should be the Ministry of Finance, and the co-executors — FAS and Rospotrebnadzor.
    The antimonopoly service specified that the document has already been sent to the government. The project was previously presented in early April. The agency noted that it receives “complaints from citizens about service applications on smartphones and tablets that are installed automatically and cannot be removed.” Among these apps are, according to FAS, the browser, mail app, audio player, and others.
    According to the president of the association Russoft, Valentina Makarova, it is obvious that FAS is trying to help Russian developers through non-tariff regulation measures.
    “It is clear that Google has a stable set of application vendors, the ranks of which are difficult to penetrate, regardless of the quality of the product, and the market is of little help, yet the state can help. But on a global scale, such measures do not lead to the development of competition,” she said.
    At the same time, new requirements for equipment will lead to new costs for companies, an expert warns. Preinstalling paid products that duplicate functionalities is likely to increase the final cost of computers and smartphones, warns the CEO of Acer in Russia, Dmitry Kravchenko.
    The web reacted to this initiative quite predictably:
    “According to FAS, Russian software can be implemented only by force, and not because it is good and competitive.” (Turban Bazarov on Twitter)
    “Yeah, the Amigo browser, Yandex bar, Satellite search engine, etc. After buying a phone you can safely reflash.” (Artem on Twitter)
    “Trojans from the FSB. Let’s call things what they are.” (Meduza on Twitter)
    The most notable case in this realm was the conflict between FAS and Google, in which the Service in October 2015 asked Google to stop violations of the law on competition in terms of abuse of the dominant position of the Android operating system. In particular, the corporation was required to exclude from agreements with vendors the conditions limiting the installation of applications and services from other developers. Google also had to inform device users about deactivating preinstalled applications, changing the search engine in the Chrome browser, the ability to install a different search widget, and applications similar to those included in the Google Mobile Services package. The case against Google was initiated at the request of Yandex.
    Translated from https://roskomsvoboda.org/40674/

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc