Spring blossoms

Spring’s beauty is beginning to show.  Nice!

Springtime in Tennessee brings the beauty of the Dogwood.

Photos by Becky Newbold at www.beckynewbold.com

Found this iris growing on a 75 acre farm we used to own in West Tennessee near an old homestead. The house was long gone but these iris faithfully bloomed early each Spring. www.beckynewbold.com

Magging: Where do you read Validity?

Magging, the newest internet trend, has taken hold with one of the newest magazines.  Validity Magazine announced with it’s February issue Magging as a unique way for readers to post photos of themselves on the publication’s website.

Business owners are finding Magging a helpful trend as they search for new ways to promote their company or product.  A simple photo of a customer reading Validity Magazine at the business owner’s establishment may find its way onto the Don Burgdorf would not think of working in his carving shop without Validity magazine close by.Valditymag.com website and a link to Facebook, further pushes the organization’s name into the public eye.

Readers find the more outrageous the place they read Validity, the more viral Magging becomes.

Validity Magazine Publisher announces subscriptions available

Validity Magazine's December issue featured Hohenwald's Mopar Mountain Museum owners, Floyd and Theresa Culberson.

Beginning in January, readers of Validity Magazine may subscribe to the monthly publication.  New to the south central Tennessee region, Validity focuses on small town life and the people who live in Tennessee.

Existing to reflect small town lifestyles in both storytelling and photo journalism, Validity Magazine promotes positive life experiences by delivering authentic, relevant content on healthy living, nature, outdoors, technology, gardening and travel to the people who enjoy the small town experience.

Visit Validity’s website for complete details on subscribing or email them at info@validitymag.com.

Validity Magazine expands coverage area

On the newsstands in Lewis, Perry, Hickman, Wayne and Maury Counites.  Ask for it!Followers of Validity Magazine will be excited to know the publication is now available in Centerville, Collinwood and Columbia, Tennessee.  Since the premier edition in October 2011, the regional magazine has expanded its coverage area to include a five county region in south central Tennessee.

The November issue features photographs of Cool Rides, area biker enthusiasts and their motorcycles.  Also, an important update onCool Rides featured in November 2011 issue of Validity Magazine. facial recognition software by regular contributing writer, Cody Newbold.  Other features include what to do in the garden this month, area events — musical venues, theatre events and what’s happening in the region.  In Centerville, plans are underway to replace a statue of Minnie Pearl on the square through various fun fundraising efforts.  In Columbia, revitalization of the historic square brings a new experience for those living in or visiting the area.  The Strand Theatre in Hohenwald always has a good show and is highlighted in the November issue.

Classroom winners of the Great American Smokeout contest are featured in the publication.  Area sponsors include Lewis Health Center, Tennessee Quality Homecare & Hospice, Centennial Heart, Rapid Care Walk In Clinic, Dr. Joey Hensley & the Hensley Clinic, Dr. Veena Anand & the Anand Clinic, Lewis County Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and Dr. Lori Stewart of Stewart Family Chiropractic.

Validity features news and events important to those living in “small town Tennessee,” Publisher Becky Newbold says.  Check us out! And remember to Like us on Facebook!


Validity Magazine is here!

Validity Magazine arrived on the newsstand in Hohenwald and in Linden this week.  The new magazine targeted toward small town living features people, places and things to do in and around the south central Tennessee area.

Born of a desire to tell great stories, Validity’s first issue contains locally written content and photography and is published by Becky Jane Newbold.

Add Validitymag.com to your favorites or bookmarks and check frequently for updates.  Friend us on Facebook!

Can protests bring Jews, Arabs together in Israel?

Some argue that the issues facing the Arab community — lack of land, housing and limited access to social welfare — are the same ones driving Israeli Jews into the streets

By Michal Levertov

HURFEISH, Israel — The Druze village of Hurfeish seems as pastoral as the rural north of Israel can be. Sitting on the northwestern slope of the Meron Mountains amid a national park, the centuries-old settlement of about 6,000 residents looks like an image taken from a tourist postcard: green, beautiful, serene.

But earlier this month, the atmosphere was not as peaceful. A policemen and an official from the national park authority were attacked by village youths when they attempted to enforce a demolition order for an unauthorized building.

As the disturbance spread, hundreds of youngsters set fire to tires and blocked Hurfeish’s main road, a central northern Galilee transport route, in protests that took four hours to bring under control.

Community leader Fawaz Hossain, 57, denounces the violence. But he puts the blame squarely on the police and the parks’ authority decision to issue the demolition order just as Israel is in the midst of an unprecedented wave of activism over rising housing prices.

What started off on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Avenue as a localized protest has turned into a nationwide call for social justice. At its peak, about 300,000 people turned out on across Israel in peaceful opposition to the growing disparity of income in Israel. And although initially seen as a mass movement among Jews, the country’s Arab citizens are increasingly involved in the civil protest.

“We are clearly a part of the wider tent protest, even though there are differences in our needs and demands,” explained Hossain. “It’s not the housing prices that we protest against, but the utter lack of adequate housing for us.”

Much of the land in Hurfeish was confiscated by the state decades ago, with most of it going to create a nature preserve. But some of the land was also intended for the development of a neighboring Jewish village.

Ever since, Hurfeish’s residents have been battling building restrictions on the remaining land.

While the residents of Hurfeish are quick to link their protest with those occurring elsewhere in Israel, other Arab communities are hesitant to join in what they see as a Jewish issue.

This hesitance, says Aida Touma-Sliman, editor-in-chief of the Arabic Al-Ittihad daily newspaper, has been due to a “deep disbelief within the Arab population – following decades of exclusion and discrimination — that it is capable of influencing the general Israeli agenda.”

But in truth, Touma-Sliman notes, the issues facing the Arab community — lack of land, housing and limited access to social welfare — are the same ones driving Israeli Jews into the streets.

While Israeli Arabs are inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings they see all around them, they also doubt they also are able to affect social change.

“Arabs in Israel also feel that the changes in the Arab states are being generated by a great sense of ownership that the citizens there have,” Touma-Sliman said. “The Arab public in Israel feels disconnected and alienated from the rest of the population, thus being deprived of the feeling of entitlement which enabled the protests of the Arab Spring, as well as that of the Jewish population in Israel.”

Nonetheless, Touma-Sliman said, the Arab public should join the movement.

“If there ever was willingness in the Israeli Jewish mainstream to hear the Arab citizens cry out against discrimination, land confiscations or house demolishing – and to do that not through a nationalist lens – it is now,” she said.

Others see no chance for the protesters finding common ground.

Writing in Haaretz, a major English-language newspaper in Israel, Arab journalist Zuheir Anderus emphasized that he could not identify with the protest because it “ignores my existence and my problems.”

Indeed, the 22-member committee that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed to offer solutions to the protestors’ demands does not include a single Arab representative.

But others see this as a unique opportunity to unite the country’s diverse communities.

Shahin Nassar, a 25-year-old student and journalist, founded an encampment in Wadi Nisnas, an Arab neighborhood in the northern city of Haifa, after participating in a rally in a Jewish neighborhood where he was disappointed by the lack of Arab participation.

“This protest is definitely mine too, and it is for me to determine its nature and its goals,” he said. “Any achievement, whether it is reducing housing costs or electricity prices, will benefit the Arab population just as much. Of course, we are in a unique position and nobody denies it. We are an integral part of the Palestinian people. But just the same, we are an integral part of the state of Israel.”

Michal Levertov is a reporter in Tel Aviv who writes for IWPR, a nonprofit organization that trains journalists in areas of conflict. (Copyright, 2011, The Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 48 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, U.K. www.iwpr.net)

Dragonflies and one BIG fish!

About a week ago my son, my husband and I took a short fishing excursion to a secluded pond in a remote area.  I have been sworn to secrecy, so the location is hush-hush.  When you see the BIG fish you will understand why!  Oh, and we practiced catch-and-release that day, so this fish is still out there somewhere.

Hope you enjoy the photos!

This blue dragonfly flitted around the lake as we fished.

Then a little brown joined the party.

A White-throated sparrow watched from a distance.

Hope these photos inspire you to get out and observe the beauty of nature.

Taliban unlikely source of hit songs in Afghanistan

Insurgents get their message across by distributing music and videos to cell phones

By Hejratullah Ekhtiyar

KABUL, Afghanistan –– Dawlat Khan says his 5-year-old son has suddenly become an ardent music fan.

“He asks me to play the Taliban songs for him and then sings along with them,” said the resident of Nangarhar province, who keeps the tunes, along with video clips produced by the insurgents, stored on his cell phone.

It seems the Taliban, long known to be the enemies of both music and technology, have discovered the value of both, delivering musical messages designed to stir up emotional support among young people for their battle against the government.

In fact, Taliban tunes appear to have gone viral, capturing the popular imagination in ways that more overt appeals for support – from both the insurgents and the government – have failed to do.

The government, on the other hand, struggles to counter allegations that it presides over warlordism, corruption and lawlessness, while the NATO-led troops have often aroused danger because of civilian casualties, intrusive house searches, and perceived slights on the Muslim faith.

“I’ve got about 50 Taliban songs on my phone. They’re much better than the meaningless music, dramas and movies that are on TV,” Dawlat Khan said. “You aren’t committing a sin by listening to the Taliban songs, but you do so every second if you watch TV.”

Music might seem an unlikely vehicle for the Taliban to use. But songs extolling Islamic virtues or Afghan patriotism in the past were not only allowed, but encouraged and have long been broadcast on the Voice of Sharia, the Taliban’s radio service.

Now, they are enjoying a revival, especially in parts of Afghanistan where Taliban influence is strong, thanks to new phone that support video as well as audio formats.

Everyone offers a different reason for watching the film clips or listening to the songs, from simple enjoyment to a degree of sympathy with the Taliban cause. The clips even circulate among local government officials and members of the Afghan security forces whose job is to fight the insurgents.

A member of the Afghan National Army who comes from Nangarhar’s Khogyani district said the main reason he had material like this on his phone was that it might save him if he ever fell into the insurgents’ hands.

“The truth is that I keep these songs in my mobile phone to protect my life,” he said. “Besides, there’s nothing bad about these songs, anyway. They are all songs about the country, and Islamic poems. We too are children of this country and we are Muslims. So we listen to them.”

Asked about videos showing young people preparing to carry out suicide bombings, the soldier said, “Yes, it’s true there are songs and clips encouraging young people to fight and to prepare for suicide attacks. I don’t endorse them, and I’d even like to see them banned.”

Sitting in a bookstore in Jalalabad, three young men were watching a Taliban-produced video of a child singing to a mother as he’s about to go off and fight for Afghan freedom.

When asked what attracted them to the video, they initially said they were attracted to the singer’s voice.

But when asked about the video’s message, which extols the virtue of fighting against the government, one of them angrily answered, “Why don’t you ask about the impact of music, foreign movies and [TV] dramas? They are full of immorality, they are driving society to destruction, they make young people forget their country, honor and religion, and they are destroying our culture, language and history.”

Taliban songs are “a thousand times” better than Afghan TV channels, he said, adding, “The children of this country are fighting for their country. They are our brothers and we listen to their songs unashamedly.”

Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the governor of the province, said that while people were free to listen to whatever they wanted, the authorities would try to prevent the dissemination of propaganda intended to draw civilians to the insurgent’s side.

But he admitted this was a difficult task.

“These songs and clips are produced and disseminated secretly. There isn’t an obvious center that is doing it in Nangarhar. Our security agencies are trying to block this kind of thing,” he said.

Hejratullah Ekhtiyar is a reporter in Afghanistan who writes for IWPR, a nonprofit organization that trains journalists in areas of conflict. (Copyright, 2011, The Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 48 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, U.K. www.iwpr.net)