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The Buzz 09.16.21

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FREE SPEECH

Rana Ayyub is the kind of journalist who is unafraid to speak truth to power. In one recent column in The Washington Post, where she is a regular contributor, she laid out how hate and divisiveness are spreading across India – and how Prime Minister Narendra Modi has failed to condemn even the most explicit calls for genocide. Ayyub is known for reporting on Modi and the Indian government and she’s now squarely in the government’s crosshairs. A co-founder of Hindu IT Cell, a group linked to India’s nationalist far right and that support Modi, filed a complaint against Ayyub, alleging she misappropriated money she raised for Covid relief via crowdfunding. Ayyub has reached out to the Central Board of Direct Taxes in an effort to show all funds were handled appropriately. “But it makes no difference that the information or accusation is completely baseless,” according to the group Reporters Without Borders. Ayyub is already receiving threats and is also now under a criminal investigation. If convicted on one of the fraud charges alone, she could face up to seven years in prison, according to the Clooney Foundation for Justice.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“You are decorating the sky with color.” - Kite-flying expert Glenn Mitchell on what compels him to kiting, which he has been doing since 1985 (see Face to Face article).

GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK

GOOD:

It’s been a good week (or two, actually) for Gathering For Women and the women it serves. The nonprofit’s second annual online art fair, which began Sept. 1, is off to a roaring start. As of Sept. 13, 36 of a total of 126 pieces of artwork had already been sold, raising $3,205. Pieces for sale in the art fair include many painted by Gathering For Women’s guests in the art classes the nonprofit offers, as well as some by local professional artists. The money raised is also divided along those lines – the guests, who are homeless women, receive all money from the sale of their work, while the professional pieces are sold as a fundraiser for the Monterey-based organization. The 22 guest pieces sold thus far have raised $1,190, and 14 artist pieces have sold for $2,015. The fair runs through the end of September and works can be viewed (and purchased) at gatheringforwomen.org.

GREAT:

It’s a gem in the middle of Salinas: 73 acres of what used to be agricultural land, and 100 years ago, was a lake. A century later, Carr Lake, now owned by nonprofit Big Sur Land Trust, is slated to again serve as a marshland ecosystem – plus a six-acre neighborhood park with a playground, picnic area and other amenities. The remaining 67 acres are set aside for habitat with public trails, also offering flood control. “It is the quintessential multi-benefit project,” says Rachel Saunders, BSLT’s director of conservation. The park had a pivotal approval on Sept. 14 when Salinas City Council voted 7-0 to amend the city’s general plan and rezoning required for the park. This means it’s a go, after four years with dozens of meetings. “It’s a really big milestone for the project,” Saunders says. Next BSLT can pursue funding opportunities for constructing the $21 million project.

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