U.S. News | Blind

Accessibility programming at U.S. museums extends appreciation of the visual arts to blind individuals
  • The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and other major art museums offer programming allowing visitors to touch selected works or work replicas.
  • Such programming allows for the more individualized aesthetic appreciation enjoyed by those without visual impairment, and in museums where tactile engagement is forbidden, specialized tours offer detailed descriptions of works to visitors.
  • Museum professionals note the growth in accessibility programming since the 1970s, with the introduction of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1980 spurring cultural institutions to work to create inclusive experiences across the ability spectrum.

“I don’t think it’s red tape-wise such a difficult thing to do. … And you can certainly use the argument, ‘Look at all these other museums.’ … I think that the institutions that don’t have something in place are scrambling because they’re thinking, ‘Here we are 25 years [after the ADA], we’d better get going on this.’ ”

Read the full story at the Washington Post.

(Image Credit: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

U.S. News | Interfaith

Muslim and Arab-American groups rally to support black churches affected by recent spate of arson
  • Organized by the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, the Arab-American Association of New York, and Ummah Wide, the “Respond With Love” campaign has sought to provide financial support towards the reconstruction of damaged or destroyed houses of worship in Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
  • The campaign has raised almost $25,000 from more than 500 individual supporters.
  • Although the fires have not been deemed hate crimes, campaign leaders note that black churches have historically been particularly vulnerable targets of oppression and persecution by hate-motivated individuals.

“It doesn’t matter to us how or why these churches burned down, we want to help our Black sisters and brothers get back in to their houses of worship as soon as they can. … Ramadan is a time of giving and what better cause to give to than one that rebuilds houses of worship where God’s name is constantly called, remembered and loved.”

Read the full story at the Huffington Post.

Ethiopia News | Dissenters

Charges against Ethiopian journalists dropped ahead of Obama’s visit to country
  • Five of the Zone 9 bloggers jailed for their social and political criticism of the government were released as Ethiopia prepares for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to address the African Union later in the month.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists has indicated that 12 other journalists remain incarcerated, making Ethiopia one of the nations least friendly to press freedom in Africa.
  • The single-party rule of the People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front in the country has led to instances of criticism of the party being associated with terrorism, leading to the incarcerations.

Read the full story at the Guardian.

Iraq News | Muslims

Displaced Iraqis find support across sectarian lines in central Iraq
  • In cities like Najaf and Hillah, Sunni and Shiite Muslims alike have provided humanitarian support to those displaced by Islamic State violence regardless of affiliation.
  • Communities have rallied to include all in free evening iftar dinners and other forms of charity during Ramadan, with new arrivals discovering new economic opportunity as well.
  • In late June, the UN put the number of internally displaced Iraqis at 3 million, mostly from the northern and western provinces.

“In reality, the situation is very different from what media outlets interested in political spats report. … You will not find sectarianism here. Sectarianism is found among political elites and armed factions, especially those who came from outside of Iraq, most notably IS.”

Read the full story at Al-Monitor.

(Image Credit: Ahmed Saad/Reuters, via Al-Monitor)

E.U. News | LGBTI

European Parliament adds LGBTI rights to European relations policy
  • The European Neighbourhood Policy, which organizes relations between the European Union and its non-EU neighbors on the continent, now includes the LGBTI community in its promotion of minority rights.
  • Rights advocates lauded the move for giving a mandate for EU representatives to promote protections and inclusive policies in non-EU European countries.

“In a world where some countries make homophobia an active part of their domestic policy, I’m pleased to see Europe using the full clout of its economic power to counter these attitudes.”

Read the full story at PinkNews.

(Image Credit: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images, via PinkNews)

Turkey News | Uyghur Muslims

More than 170 Uyghurs resettled in Turkey following release from Thai detention camp
  • The 173 released–all Uyghur women and children–had been detained for more than a year by Thai immigration authorities.
  • The group is a part of a wave of ethnic Uyghurs fleeing their homeland in northwestern China because of the government’s crackdown on their culture and activities.
  • Those seeking exit from China rely on underground networks that take them through southeast Asia, where Thailand is a major node in smuggling routes.

“China deprives them of their human dignity, their human rights, and religious freedom in every possible way, so they head to Turkey to live like human beings.”

Read the full story at Radio Free Asia.

(Image Credit: Radio Free Asia)

U.S. News | Racial Symbols

Confederate flag removed from South Carolina capitol grounds
  • Governor Nikki Haley signed into law the bill calling for the removal of the flag from the statehouse following its passage by the state legislature.
  • The flag was placed in the South Carolina State Museum, which houses artifacts of the state’s history.
  • Originally hoisted in 1962 in response to the growing civil rights movement, the flag remained atop the dome of the statehouse until 2000, when it was moved to a pole next to a Confederate monument on the grounds.

“Twenty-two days ago, I didn’t know that I would ever be able to say this again. … But today I’m very proud to say that it is a great day in South Carolina.”

Read the full story at BuzzFeed.

(Image Credit: nbcnews.com, via BuzzFeed)