For the second time in 2020, Indian security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen’s leader — a big setback for the militant organization.

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Police and protestors clash in September 2017 via Tasnim News Agency under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

“I protected my children under my wings like a hen does her chicks. I didn’t know he would run away like this… He wanted to be a doctor. He said he would help people. He didn’t become one but went into the medical line nevertheless. Then, he suddenly picked up the gun,” said Sarwa Begum about her son, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Saifullah Mir, in an interview with Riyaz Wani for Huffington Post India.

Indian security forces killed Saifullah Mir, also known as Ghazi Haider or Dr. Saifullah, in a gunfight on November 1 in Rangreth on the outskirts of Srinagar. …


The newlyweds vanished on the record-breaking expedition that would have made Bessie the first woman to raft through the Grand Canyon.

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Photo by Sonaal Bangera on Unsplash

1928 was the year of adventurers. Charles Lindbergh earned a Medal of Honor for being the first solo pilot to cross the Atlantic on a non-stop flight. Amelia Earhart took off on her voyage to become the first female aviator to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Explorer Richard Byrd’s first expedition to Antarctica launched. The wonders of the world seemed more attainable than ever. For newlyweds Bessie and Glen Hyde, this was the perfect year to spark their novel lives as noteworthy adventurers.

In October 1928, the couple embarked on a rafting voyage through the vast Grand Canyon. Their honeymoon trip would have broken records and made Bessie the first woman to raft through the entire Grand Canyon. With over a hundred miles under their belt, they stopped to resupply and visit a famous Grand Canyon photographer. After bidding adieu to a hitchhiker, the newlyweds happily set off into the rapids, and were never seen again. …


Jakarta is sinking. Fast. And they’re running out of time.

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Photo by Appai on Unsplash

In 2019, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced the impending move of the country’s administrative capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan on Borneo island. While government officials leave the current capital, about 40 percent of Jakarta is below sea level and some portions of the huge metropolis are sinking at a rate of about eight inches per year.

“The potential for Jakarta to be submerged isn’t a laughing matter. …


The isle’s tribes fled here after escaping the Trail of Tears and Indian Removal Act. Now they’re fleeing climate change.

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Photo by Mathieu Cheze on Unsplash

The residents of Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana’s southeastern bayous are the first trickle in the coming wave of climate change refugees. For decades, the tribes (Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw and United Houma Nations) who once called the isle home have been relocating to safer land. 98 percent of the isle’s land has sunk under the rising tide since 1955, with nothing but a thin strip of land left.

The isle’s tribes fled here after escaping the Trail of Tears and Indian Removal Act. The isolated bayou island was a safe place where the tribes could raise a family and escape persecution. It was not an easy life but these settlers made due, mainly through fishing and subsistence farming. By 1910, 77 families called the Isle de Jean Charles home. A road connecting the isle to land was finally built in 1953, but before this, everyone used boat travel to get to and from the mainland. While their ancestors came here to escape the world, the world was thrust onto them in the 1940s, when oil drilling and dredging projects arrived in nearby waters, which further eroded the isle. …


Many species of cactus grow only in the American southwest, but demand in markets from Europe and Asia has pushed thieves to steal the slow-growing plants from public lands.

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Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

Arizona’s deserts are home to the world’s densest forests of towering saguaro cacti. These cactus grow up to 50 feet during their lifespan, which can last as long as two hundred years. However, these stoic giants face a pervasive threat — poachers who dig them up under the cover of darkness to resell on a growing worldwide cactus black market.

Saguaros only grow in a small area, 120,000 square miles in the Sonoran Desert spanning sections of Arizona, California, and Sonora. The column-like cactus usually grows at least a few arms and sprouts yellow and white flowers, called saguaro cactus blossoms, Arizona’s state flower. Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona has one of the largest collections, with an estimated one million saguaros currently in the park. Large saguaros often weigh over 2000 pounds, making their removal difficult. …


86 percent of those surveyed had been exposed to crossfire and 83 percent to round-up raids.

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Photo by Sidharth Singh on Unsplash

“What happens when an entire society is suffering from PTSD?” asked Beyond the Breaking Point, published in 2009 by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma when addressing the mental health situation in Kashmir.

Sandwiched between India, Pakistan, and China, India-administered Kashmir suffers from violent political instability with conflict between government forces and militants always simmering just below the surface, if not actively boiling over. …


There is a saying passed around in Native American communities: when a Native woman disappears, she goes missing twice. First her body, then her story.

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Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

Audra Willis, a member of the Navajo To’hajiilee community, was only 39-years-old when she was decapitated and mutilated. …


Louisiana’s burial practices are not viable in the face of accelerating climate change.

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Photo by Veit Hammer on Unsplash

Casket flooding has been a problem in Louisiana longer than climate change, but as sea levels rise and hurricanes become more powerful and frequent, burial solutions in the state need to evolve — and fast. Louisiana loses land the size of a football field to the rising tide every hour. But for Louisiana’s dead, the rising tides of climate change isn’t a nebulous prediction but a current reality.

While combing the swamps for caskets washed astray from 2005’s Hurricane Rita, shocked authorities found caskets missing since 1957’s Hurricane Audrey. After the floodwaters of 2012’s Hurricane Isaac washed away, horrified searchers found that about 200 of the caskets that washed up on Mississippi River levees were older and made of wood. …


With rising temperatures and failing crops, the agricultural economy in troubled Kashmir is reaching a tipping point.

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Photo by Steven Lasry on Unsplash

Thousands watched online as a Kashmir farmer wept as he wildly tried to unearth his apple crop from the fresh snow deposited by an uncharacteristic snowstorm. The viral video was widely shared in the valley, with many farmers expressing their own frustrations with losing crops due to the changing reality that climate change has brought. Uncharacteristic snowfalls and the change of weather patterns can destroy a farmer’s entire season of work in just a day.

With rising temperatures and failing crops, the largely agricultural economy in Kashmir is reaching a tipping point. …


Writers and dissenters are always finding ways around these bans to explore new avenues of free expression and convey their frustrations with Indian occupation, lock downs, COVID-19, and the regular trauma that is a part of daily life.

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Photo by Eshani Mathur on Unsplash

A poet famously wrote of Kashmir, “if there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.” The steep, icy slopes of Sonmarg or the soaring Himalayan views are the sights that inspire poets and tourism magazines alike, but Kashmir is having a surge in a different kind of writing: passionate resistance literature against Indian occupation.

The voice of Kashmir is often suppressed by the censorship and seemingly endless repression from Indian officials. With a communication lock down in Kashmir, which affects everyone from journalists to poets to the average person on social media, their ability to express feelings and frustrations, free from oppression, is highly stifled. …

About

Raisa Nastukova

Freelance journalist focused on stories of both Kashmir culture and society as well as the rising tide of climate change.

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