Midterm elections

Midterm elections are held halfway between presidential elections. Voters elect one-third of all U.S. senators and all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives during the Midterms. The reason Midterm elections are so important is that this election determines which political party—Democratic or Republican—will control each chamber of Congress for the next two years. The party in control of either chamber is the party more likely to get its proposed legislation passed in that chamber. Because proposed legislation must pass in both the House and the Senate for it to reach the president’s desk for approval it is easier to pass bills when the majority is leaning toward your political party.

The Midterm elections serve the purpose of allowing the public to have more control over the US government. The election also gives the public the freedom to implement their ideas and inspirations in the country’s laws, future goals, and other projects/ moments they might want to include into the government’s think box. The factor that Midterm elections play in this is, is if your party is elected in the majority, then chances are those ideas will be more likely to turn into something bigger. Therefore, the Midterms can present new opportunities, and concerns our day to day lives.

Though the Midterms only happen once every two years, the state and local elections can take place any time in various places throughout the year. These elections can be held for offices such as the state’s governor, seats in the state legislature, a city’s mayor, judges, a local official, or for other reasons. The election can be held to ballot initiatives that affect the laws, taxes, and budget of your state or town. The difference between these elections and the congressional ones is that the latter affect your state’s representation in Congress, which is the legislative branch of the federal government that includes the House of Representatives and the Senate and thus pertains to the entire country. The former, however, is only relevant to your own state or town.

As of 2018, we have the following people running in Minnesota:

  • Tina Smith (Democrat) and Karin Housley (Republican) for U.S Senate
  • For the U.S House of Representatives: the Democrats – Dan Feehan (District 1), Angie Craig (District 2), Dean Phillips (District 3), Betty McCollum (District 4), Ilhan Omar (District 5), Ian Todd (District 6), Collin Peterson (District 7) and Joe Radinovich (District 8)
  • For the U.S House of Representatives: the Republicans – Jim Hagedorn (District 1), Jason Lewis (District 2), Erik Paulsen (District 3), Greg Ryan (District 4), Jennifer Zielinski (District 5), Tom Emmer (District 6), Dave Hughes (District 7), and Pete Stauber (District 8).

To educate yourself with more information on what each of these individual’s takes on taxes, national debt, immigration, health care, and guns, are click on this link!

http://www.startribune.com/2018-minnesota-election-voter-guide-who-is-running-governor-house-senate-politics-issues/483224571/

 

Inktober 2018

No, I did not misspell October.

Inktober is a month long drawing challenge that takes place during October. The challenge is to fully complete one ink drawing every day from October 1st through the 31st. The challenge was created by Jake Parker back in 2009 to help artists develop their skills and get in the habit of drawing every day. There aren’t many rules, just draw and complete a full piece every day, and upload it onto Instagram or any social media platform.

Some people wonder why Inktober is a challenge. Why not just draw every day? What makes Inktober more challenging than “drawing every day” is that you must fully complete the drawing. Personally I draw every day, but most commonly the drawings are just sketches, and not inked and completed pieces.

How do you come up with an idea every day? On the official Inktober website there is a prompt list. The first prompt list was created in 2016. Each year the prompts change, although I have noticed many of the prompts tend to be fall/Halloween themed. There is a different prompt for every day, and although most people follow these prompts it is never required. Some groups also make alternative prompt lists. Feel free to come up with your own ideas, or only follow your favorite prompts!

Now, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy right now. Thirty one days of drawing? If a whole month is too much for you, people also do a “half-marathon” (One drawing every other day) or a “5k” (One drawing a week). There is also some confusion about which art supplies to use. Originally, the challenge was to do just black and white ink. Now, people do color as well, but the official rules suggest limiting the amount of color that you use to one or a few colors. People have also done calligraphy, lettering, watercolors, and more. If you do decide to participate this year (It’s not to late!) or in the future, just remember that you are the artist – do this challenge to help yourself and have fun!

For more information on Inktober, or to see what other people are drawing, check out Inktober.com, @inktober, #inktober, and #inktober2018.

Mass texts of the Presidential Alert system to everyone with smartphones

On Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018, everyone with a smartphone in the United States was expected to receive a text message that stated: “Presidential Alert: THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency System Alert System. No action is needed.” This is the first test that the federal government and cellular carriers put together to alert people of serious things like widespread disasters and terrorist attacks.

These are similar to AMBER ALERTS, for missing children, or serious weather warnings because they both come from the federal government. The only difference is with Presidential Alerts, you can not turn them off in your cell phone’s settings. The system is run by FEMA, which is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They have stated that all major cell phone carriers have agreed to participate in this.

This test was originally scheduled for September, but it was delayed because of Hurricane Florence. The law behind the cell phone notification system, which was passed in 2016, requires FEMA to run a test at least every three years.

There has been a concern about privacy with these notification alerts. People are worried that the government has too much power over what they can see on our personal devices. Thankfully, President Trump isn’t the one who can just decide what message to send out to cell phones. It is controlled by specific people that work for FEMA. Also, the FCC will ask cell service providers to produce a reflection about how the test went.

 

Marijuana and legalization

Image taken from: https://www.google.com/search?q=weed+legalization+mn&safe=strict&source=lnms&tbm= isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwidte-65-zdAhWGw4MKHb-BC8gQ_AUIDygC&biw=1200&bih=591#imgrc= bt7B3ocs9LjdlM:

 

No matter who you are, you probably have an opinion on the debate about whether or not marijuana should be legalized. According to The Pew Research Center, support for recreational marijuana use, and for legalization, has nearly doubled to 61% of Americans since 2000, when support was at 31%. As more and more states start to legalize marijuana, we need to get informed and start deciding what would be best for our state of Minnesota.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is defined as the dried flowers and leaves of a cannabis plant. It puts you in a state of “high” by mimicking a brain chemical and latching on to your neuro transmitters, which alters the way your brain sends messages to your body.

Arguments against marijuana

  • People with pre-existing marijuana problems will have easier access to the drug
  • The industry will market too heavily to younger targets
  • It has been proven to contribute to long, and short, term memory loss
  • There isn’t a productive way to enforce driving limits like there is with alcohol
  • Indoor marijuana farms could use up a lot of resources, and outdoor farms could have a harmful impact on wildlife

Arguments for marijuana

  • The majority of the public favors legalization
  • Legalization could create new jobs and revenue
  • Marijuana has medical benefits such as reducing the size of cancerous tumors, lowering anxiety and depression, and it can reduce the chance of seizures
  • Studies have shown it is less toxic then alcohol, which is a legal substance
  • Legalization could reduce legal costs, including police enforcement and jail expenses

At HPSH, I asked 10 adults and 10 students if they were in favor of legalizing marijuana or against it. 5 out of the 10 adults were in favor of legalization, while 7 out of the 10 teens felt marijuana should be legalized for medical and recreational use.

There are good arguments for both sides, for and against, but before any decisions should be made, there needs to  be more research done. If marijuana is to be legalized, the pros should outweigh the cons.

Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence was first discovered on August 30, 2018, when forecasters tracked a disturbance in the Atlantic, near the west coast of Africa. Hurricane Florence was considered to be a category 4 hurricane on September 10, 2018, and it was expected to hit the Carolinas and Virginia. Hurricane Florence was a fast approaching tropical storm and the agency predicted heavy rain over the Carolinas and Atlantic. About 1 million people who lived on the coastline of South Carolina and Virginia were ordered to evacuate by the South Carolina governor. But as the hurricane struck the coast of the Carolinas’ on September 15, 2018, it was downgraded to a category 1 hurricane. Over the course of four days it managed to dump around 23 inches of rain in South Carolina and 35 inches in North Carolina.

After Hurricane Florence first struck the coastline, it damaged many structures and caused a loss of power which affected thousands of people, but the after-effects of the storm was much worse than expected. The rainwaters of the hurricane increased water in rivers and streams which have now caused flooding. North Carolina’s two biggest rivers, Cape Fear and the Pee Dee River, both saw increased water levels which became one of the reasons for the major flooding. The water level has now risen and many residents are still waiting for the water to recede. More than 8,100 residents of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia that were forced to evacuate are still staying at Red Cross shelters, or with family or friends.

In Kinston, North Carolina, the streets flooded to the point where the National Guard had to use a helicopter to distribute water to stranded survivors. In North Carolina, it is estimated that around 3.4 million birds, and 5,500 pigs, drowned to death, and in South Carolina, the flooding damaged cotton, peanuts, and hemp crops. According to authorities, Hurricane Florence’s death toll climbed to 36, as of September 19, 2018, when two women died when they got swept away by the floodwaters while they were in a sheriff’s van.

President Donald Trump arrived in North Carolina on September 19 to help out at a church at New Bern, North Carolina, which was one of the first few towns that was hit. Trump distributed box lunches that consisted of hot dogs, chips, and fruits for people who waited for over an hour to collect their meal. As President Trump handed a man a lunch box, he said “Have a good time.”

On September 20, the power plant operator of Duke Energy reported that there was about 2,000 cubic yards of harmful waste that had gotten into the water from the landfill because of the flooding. The company spokesperson, Erin Culbert, had stated that the company will continue monitoring the situation.

Americans are trying their best to help everyone who was affected by the hurricane by donating money to nationwide agencies that are assisting the victims. On September 18, NBA champion Michael Jordan donated around $2 million to the cause. Members of NBA Hornets organization are putting together around 5,000 boxes for food banks in Charlotte, North Carolina. The organization also partnered with Fanatics, the NBA merchandising company, to help raise funds by creating a special T-shirt which features the Hornets logo in the middle of the Carolina states with the words “Carolina Strong.”

 

FDA declares teen vaping an epidemic

Adolescent use of e-cigarettes and vapes has increased over 50 percent since 2014. A lot of these devices are dangerous to the developing brain of teenagers. One of the most popular brand with teens is JUUL. One of the JUUL “pods” that are used in the device contain the same amount of nicotine as a full pack of cigarettes. They also come in pleasing flavors such as: fruit medley, mango, mint, and crem brûlée.

In September, the Food and Drug Administration declared that companies will have to stop sales of flavored electronic cigarettes if they can’t prove they are doing enough to keep them out of the hands of children and teenagers. They are giving companies like JUUL, Blu, MarkTen XL, and Logic 60 days to come out with their own solution to prevent teen vaping.

More than 2 million middle school, high school, and college students use the vapes that heat liquid based nicotine into an inhalable vapor. According to the “Youth Tobacco Survey,” 12 percent of high school students and 3 percent of middle school students have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.

The FDA will put anti-vaping posters in over 10,000 school bathrooms and on websites. “The Real Cost” campaign will target 10.7 million young people ages 12-17 who have either used e-cigarettes or maybe are wanting to try them.

Eid

Vector illustration of Eid Mubarak Islamic Holy Celebration greeting card design – image taken from: https://www.google.com/amp/indianexpress.com/article/when-is/when-is-eid-al-adha-4821958/lite/?source=images

There are two different holidays Muslim people celebrate. The first one is Eid-al-Fitr which happens after the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, and in that month Muslim people fast from sunrise to sundown.

The second holiday is Eid-al-Adha which happens after Hajj. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Hajj is when Muslim people go to pilgrimage to the holy city Makkah. Every Muslim person looks forward to Eid, because it only occurs twice in the entire year, and because all your family members have the chance to get together to celebrate and enjoy Eid together. We eat a lot during Eid, since we have been fasting an entire month before it, and our plates seem to never become empty.

For Eid-al-Fitr, families all have different ways of celebrating. Since it is the next holiday coming up, here are some ways that we have celebrated it in the past.

On Eid, my family and I start off our day by praying the Eid prayer. After we finish praying we go to my grandma’s house where we meet up with all our aunts and uncles and their kids. While we are there we eat breakfast and catch up with people we haven’t seen in a long time. We usually stay there for at least 2 hours, then we go to a restaurant, then to an amusement park where we stay. The next day we usually hang out with our friends and do something with them.

Weeks before celebrating Eid, you need new clothes because when you pray the morning prayer you need to be clean. My family and I go to a restaurant, Old Country Buffet, where we eat, and as you would expect it’s all you can eat, with really great food. There are usually a lot of other Muslims who are there eating because they are celebrating Eid as well. After that, we go to an amusement park, Valley Fair, where we meet up with my relatives and just enjoy the day as we celebrate the ending of fasting. Eid celebration is a beautiful day
where people get together and everybody is happy, parents are nice, and they give their children money.

On Eid, my family first all gets together. All the relatives we haven’t seen in forever come sleep over at our house. They sleep over so we can all wake up in the morning and go to Eid prayer together. Eid is a celebration after the month of Ramadan. Eid is meant to be spent with your family and friends. It’s like a reward after all the fasting we had the month of Ramadan. After prayer, my family comes home and goes back to sleep because it’s still pretty early and everyone is still tired. When we get back up, we go together as family to get breakfast and after that it’s up to you what you want to do. Whether you want to spend the day with your friends, and go to the movies or the mall, or if you want some quality time with your siblings and parents. Eid is a good day, and a day of happiness, don’t just stay home.

Ramadan

The month of Ramadan is a sacred month to Muslims. This month is a basic belief and command that all Muslims must follow. This month is part of the 5 Pillars of Islam which are: Shahadah, belief in Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon Him – PBUH); Salat, praying five times a day to Allah ONLY; Zakat, giving charity/alm; Sawm, fasting during the month of Ramadan; and Hajj, going to pilgrimage at least once in a Muslim’s lifetime.

The month of Ramadan is a month of 29 or 30 days where all Muslims, with the exception of few, have to fast (no eating or drinking) from sunrise to sundown. All able Muslims that have reached puberty, or the age of 15, must fast. The exceptions are: if you are menstruating, just gave birth, breastfeeding, pregnant, traveling, ill and need medication, or don’t have sanity etc. The people who have any of the above, except for insanity, will have to make up their fast after Ramadan and Shawwal.

The month of Ramadan brings people closer together because more people will do more good because Muslims believe that any good deeds they do will be multiplied more than any day that wasn’t in Ramadan. It is a month to learn to become a better person and a better Muslim. It also bring Muslims closer to God because God loves when we do good things for others and ourselves, and when we pray to Him, and do what we were commanded to do.

Also, during this month, the Holy Qur’an was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and we try to read the entire Qur’an at least once or twice, during Ramadan, in Arabic because we follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) which is his life story or biography and the Prophet (PBUH) read it once or twice.

There is a day called Laylatul-Qadr a.k.a. the Night of Power. This night is on one of the last 10 days, most likely an odd number day, but it is unknown to us which day it is. We give more, read the Qur’an more, learn more about Islam, and pray a lot more during these last 10 days because if we do these good deeds on Laylatul-Qadr we will be rewarded by Allah more and be rid of our previous sins.

There are about 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, and most will be fasting during this month. If you aren’t Muslim, and there are Muslims around you, keep in mind that they might be fasting. It isn’t an easy thing to do when people around you are eating/drinking or even listening to music, and it’s okay to ask them questions. Ramadan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak (Have a blessed Ramadan)!

58 dead in border protests after US embassy in Israel relocated to Jerusalem

On Monday, May 14, according to Vox, Gaza had its bloodiest day since the 2014 war. In total, 58 Palestinians were killed, and over 1,200 were injured, by Israeli forces, at the border, during protests after American President Donald Trump’s relocation of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The violence is a continuation of the 51-year-old conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, in the region, over territory, immigration and related issues. Both groups want control of Jerusalem, with the Palestinians specifically wanting East Jerusalem, to be the capital of their future state. The Palestinians oppose the blockade on the border of Israel and want Palestinians to be able to return to Jerusalem, their homeland, which contains many monuments sacred to both groups. Throughout the conflict, the United States has been a staunch supporter of Israel and its control of Jerusalem. Israel, the United States, and the United Nations recognize Hamas, the current governing body of the Palestinian territory Gaza, as a terrorist organization.

The Guardian reported that President Trump first announced plans to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem in a short speech delivered last December, where he also recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He stated, “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.” Officials then claimed the transition would take at least three years, so it came as a shock to the international community when it took fewer than six months.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and his promise to move the embassy, were highly controversial, being widely condemned by US Allies including the UK and by Palestine and other Islamic states. The Israeli government, however, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called Monday a “glorious day,” praised Trump when he made the recognition and promise, and in May when he acted upon it. At the opening ceremony of the new embassy in Jerusalem, Washington ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, stated, optimistically, “Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage, and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump” according to The New York Times.

The mood at the border was more chaotic, to say the least. The Guardian reports that protestors lit tires on fire to create “smoke screens” against Israeli snipers. They then rushed the fence, though none made it through, according to the Israeli military, which claimed, “The rioters are hurling firebombs and explosive devices towards the security fence and IDF forces, and are burning tires, throwing rocks and launching flaming objects in order to ignite fires in Israeli territory and harm IDF troops.” Hamas has encouraged and funded protests, and actively encouraged protestors at the border on May 14 to rush the fence over a loudspeaker. The violence raised the death toll of the recent protests to over 100.

Many have criticized Israel for their violent response to the protests. According to Real Clear Politics, Amnesty International called Israel’s actions “horrific” while senator Bernie Sanders said, “Instead of applauding Israel for its actions, Israel should be condemned. Israel has a right to security, but shooting unarmed protesters is not what it is about.” The White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah, however, only blamed Hamas saying, “We believe Hamas is responsible for these tragic deaths,” he told reporters. “Their rather cynical exploitation of the situation is what’s leading to these deaths and we want it stopped.”

With President Trump’s recent withdrawal of the United States from the Iran deal and now this, tensions are mounting in the Middle East. As Vox points out, Trump’s transference of the US embassy basically takes the idea of a Palestinian state off the table. Peace in the Middle East, the espoused goal of both Hamas and the Israeli government, seems far off.

Mother’s Day

What is Mother’s Day and why is it important?

Mother’s Day is an important day to show appreciation to mothers around the globe. Mother’s Day is celebrated in 46 countries, and it is a special day for mothers who are mostly dealing with a male dominant society.

History

According to Quora, Mother’s Day began in 1908 by a woman named Anna Jarvis, who did a memorial for her mother, who was a peace activist that helped the wounded soldiers during the Civil War. She began by getting support for Mother’s Day after her mother died. She wanted to honor all of the mothers who supported her family and loved ones.

Most of the U.S. started to celebrate Mother’s Day, and West Virginia, where Jarvis is from, declared Mother’s Day as a holiday. It became an official holiday when President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation in 1914.

It became an international celebration, and countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Italy, Singapore, Belgium, and more countries recognize it.

Mother’s Day is important because it is a day to honor, respect, and show more love than usual to mothers. The day acknowledges the maternal bonds, and roles of a mother in society. It is celebrated on May 13 in the U.S., but is different in other countries. Even if your mother is dead, or not there, it is a day to remember their importance to you.

Study from Psychologists

According to study.com, in the 1950’s, psychologists studied mother and child relationships by looking at how the child is affected to form long lasting bonds throughout their lives.

Infants that deal with high stress environments grow up to be worried adults who have difficulty developing bonds. Children with close relations to their caregivers end up being developing adults.

Also, maternal figures (moms) play a key role to help us become the people we are because they care and comfort us and provide us in so many ways.

Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

  • A Custom Handwriting Bracelet
  • Personalized Photo Stamps
  • Snapshot Mix Photo Art
  • Milk Chocolate Gift Basket
  • Flowers deliveries
  • Broadway Tickets
  • Personalized necklace
  • Plantable greeting card
  • Succulent Print Gardenia Candle
  • Mothers Day Box
  • Moms favorite perfumes