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

Melania Trump’s “Be Best”

Last night, May 7th, Melania Trump released her First Lady Agenda. In this agenda she expressed that her agenda is aimed towards the children of America and their well being. Melania Trump named her campaign “Be Best” and she plans to improve the lives of children all across the country. Melania plans to do this by focusing on childrens’ mental and physical health, and educating them on the many real life issues that they are surrounded by, and face today. These problems range from social media use, drug abuse, and being raised in a healthy environment.

The “Be Best” campaign is not only about promoting raising kids in a healthy environment and supporting them, but it’s also about teaching and raising them with the values for “kindness and respect.” This campaign doesn’t come as a surprise based on events that have happened in the past – especially based off of some of the comments that Melania has made based on how people treat her husband. “Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers,” Melania Trump made said in 2016.

In the end, it is amazing to see that our First Lady stands for the children and youth of our country. She wants what is best for all of our youth in this country; wanting them to be the best that they can be and helping them reach their full potential. This can be reached by helping these children start a young age, and by actually helping them, and not by leaving the pressure for them to be great on their own. And, as Melania Trump stated in her agenda, “Children deserve every opportunity to enjoy their innocence.”

Get your wag on! Walk for animals

Every year, the Animal Humane Society hosts a walk where people can not only walk but also donate money to help animals in need. They aimed to raise 1 million dollars for vulnerable animals and raised 900,000 dollars.

They walk through Theodore Wirth Park, turn around at the Golf Chalet, and head back to the Animal Humane Society. The walk starts at 10 am and they have fun activities and booths for before, during, and after the walk. The activities include: dog games (featuring games and training tips for your dog) hair and face painting, Chip n’ Nail Clinic: where you’ll find reduced fees for nail trims, microchipping, gland expressions, and photo booths. They also have a merchandise booth!

You are not committed to walking the full 2.5 mile walk, and can also participate in cute pet contests.

They have three competitions: best celebrity look alike, best dance moves, and best hairdo. (Sign up by 11:00 am to participate!)

There is also a complimentary shuttle service that starts picking people up at the satellite lots at 7:45 and loops through the lots until 2 in the afternoon.

They also have a team of dogs that perform some athletic tricks called The Purina Pro Plan Performance Team. This show is at 9 am and at 11 am. There is live music at 12:30 pm and then another Purina Team performance at 1 pm.

The Animal Humane Society is a shelter that gives any animal a chance to be adopted. While they could qualify as a no kill shelter, they choose not to and only euthanize pets with an incurable disease or untreatable behavior issues. Euthanization is only used when they’ve exhausted all other options.

Find out more about the Animal Humane Society here: https://www.animalhumanesociety.org

The Butterfly Effect

Have you ever heard that the flap of a butterfly’s wing could make a hurricane if it flapped at the certain time? Well, some may say it’s not true, but this is the theory behind the butterfly effect.

The butterfly effect is when one small decision, or action, may lead to an unforeseen chain of events. The term came from Edward Lorenz when he was doing experiments with a weather machine, where a small change in the speed of the wind affected the damage brought by the wind. The butterfly effect is strongly tied in with chaos theory, which states that a small event can lead to a catastrophic chain of events.

The butterfly effect has inspired movie producers by the mysterious way it works. Screen writers and producers, Eric Bess and J. Mackye Gruber released the film, The Butterfly Effect which has several endings depending on which version you see. The movie stars Ashton Kutcher who plays a 20 year old college student who finds out he has the power to go back in time and go into his old body to relieve bad mistakes from the past but soon finds out each little change has a big impact for when he goes back to the present.

When people hear about the butterfly effect there is often controversy around the fact if it’s real or not. Since the effect is something that is triggered by a small change, there is no indication that a big event would have been caused by it often causing people to dismiss the effect. All in all, the butterfly effect is a powerful but yet mysterious thing in society.

 

Starbucks closes for racial-bias training

Two men who had entered a Starbucks in Philadelphia were arrested after trying to use the restroom in the establishment. An employee had refused to allow them to enter, or use the restroom, because they had not bought anything from Starbucks. Soon after sitting down, the employee told them to leave, before calling the police. Once the police officials had arrived they soon arrested the two men. At that time, another person, Andrew Yaffe, confronted the police officers and asked, “But what did they do? What did they do? Someone tell me what they did?”

From the narration of Rashon Nelson; he and his friend were at Starbucks to meet a business associate. He wanted to use the restroom but was refused, and was told it was for paying customers only. So, he and his friend sat back down and waited until the business associate came. They hadn’t ordered anything because they had bottled water, and this was when employees had dialed 911, and police officials showed up to the scene shortly after.

Image taken from: https://www.cursor.org/business/2018/04/18/starbucks-racial-bias.html

Many people after hearing/seeing the story, started to try and bring awareness towards the racism in society, especially towards Starbucks. Many people were happy to hear that Starbucks was taking action, but they hated how they’re only taking half a day to “learn” about racial bias. People believe that taking half a day would not address the problem of racism and how they caused the arrest of two men because of how they were African-American.

This event was a moment of racial bias, where the two African-American men were disrespected and not allowed to do normal things by a white man. Racial bias in the world is huge, not only does it affect the rest of the world, and countries, etc., it is also affecting people, families, children in the U.S. Children have been bullied for having different colored skin, for being “black,” or “Asian,” or foreign.

One way or another, people will always be racist, because people will always be judging others, in everyday life. No one will forget about it and will always use race, skin color, or ancestry as an excuse to hate/discriminate against people.

Starbucks had announced this incident as racial/implicit bias, but really it was just racism. Starbucks had then decided to close all Starbucks in the U.S. for a racial bias training. Believing that teaching their employee’s/staff about racial bias would stop them from enacting these events in the future.

“It’s not just a black people thing. This is a people thing. And that’s exactly what we want to see out of this, and that’s true change. … Put action into place” –  Rashon Nelson

Rashon was one of the two men arrested that day, and appeared on ABC’s, Good Morning America news to talk about the incident.

After the incident, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson had released a video explaing, what Starbucks would do to ensure that this incident would not happen again.

To view the video of Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson -https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/nation/2018/04/16/starbucks-ceo-meets-officials-after-philly-arrests/33906029/

Image taken from: https://countryclubplaza.com/merchant/starbucks/

 

The Trump’s administration’s first state dinner

The Trump administration held their first state dinner, in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron, on Tuesday, April 24. First Lady Melania Trump was the head organizer of the event, and it was a prime opportunity for her to prove herself. She chose not to bring in an outside event planner.

White House state dinners are a historical tradition. They are usually held in the State Dining Room (though larger ones, such as those held by Barack Obama, are held outside under tents) and are an opportunity for the President to meet with, and honor one or more foreign heads of state. According to the White House Historical Association, the first state dinner was held in 1874 by President Ulysses S. Grant to honor King David Kalakaua of the Kingdom of Hawaii. President Barack Obama held 13 state dinners during his tenure.

The Trump dinner was attended by around 150 people, none of whom were journalists or Congressional Democrats. It was decorated in a gold and cream color scheme. The menu for the dinner was in an American style, inspired by French cuisine. The first course featured goat cheese gateau, tomato jam, buttermilk biscuit crumbles, and young variegated lettuces. The main course featured rack of spring lamb, burnt cipollini soubise, and Carolina gold rice jambalaya. For dessert, they ate nectarine tart and crème fraîche ice cream. Fox News reported that for entertainment, Mrs. Trump opted for the Washington National Opera over popstars, as was done for most of the Obama administration’s state dinners.

Following a less formal dinner with the Macrons, at Mount Vernon (the home of George Washington), on Monday night, the First Lady greeted the Macrons on Tuesday morning dressed in a white Michael Kors skirt and blazer, and a Hervé Pierre hat. For the dinner, she wore a Chanel Haute Couture dress, which received great praise from many media outlets, including CNN, for its elegance.

ABC News reported that the President used the toast as an opportunity to thank his wife, saying “To America’s absolutely incredible first lady, thank you for making this an evening we will always cherish and remember. Thank you, Melania.”

But, though it was elegant, the Trumps’ first state dinner was not without argument. Trump lambasted the Iran deal, which he is against and Macron is for. The Iran deal is an agreement reached in 2015 between Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, Germany, and the totality of the European Union, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for limiting their nuclear program until 2025. Trump opposes it because he believes it is inadequate; having no control over Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and other non-nuclear weapons and their behavior in the Middle East (i.e., supporting Islamist terrorist organizations), and for its temporary time frame. He blasted the deal, calling it “insane” and “ridiculous.” However, as CNN reported, Trump seemed more amenable in a news conference afterwards, saying “We can be flexible. You know, in life you have to be flexible, and as leaders of countries, you have to show flexibility.” After the dinner, it is unclear what the fate of the Iran deal will be.

In one particularly memorable moment of the dinner, according to The Hill, President Trump brushed a piece of “dandruff” off of Emmanuel Macron’s shoulder, saying “They’re all saying what a great relationship we have, and they’re actually correct. We do have a very special relationship. In fact, I’ll get that little piece of dandruff off — we have to make him perfect. He is perfect.” The President of France laughed.

 

 

 

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal and the testimony of Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, has been under fire recently for a scandal involving data immorally obtained from its servers by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. In 2014, Cambridge Analytica began collecting identifiable personal information from an alleged 87 million users, 70 million of which are Americans (according to Facebook). According to the BBC, though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed in a recent testimony, before the U.S. Congress, that the data collected included only mundane things such as “public profile, page likes, birthday and current city,” the scandal, exposed by former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie, has been enough to incite a nationwide conversation about privacy on the internet and consumers’ rights.

The Guardian has reported that Cambridge Analytica collected data in a dishonest method. The firm sent out a survey for allegedly “academic purposes” only, to which several hundreds of thousands of Facebook users consented. However, the survey collected information not only from the consenting users, but also from others in their social network. But, what is even more controversial is that this data was then sold to political groups, including the 2015 presidential campaign of Ted Cruz and politicians involved in the Brexit vote of 2016. Also, according to The New York Times, the data was detailed enough to develop psychographical profiles of its subjects, which could yield useful information to politicians on how to deliver their message to voters in different constituencies.

In the aftermath of the scandal, Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been very apologetic, calling it an “issue,” a “mistake” and a “breach of trust”; Cambridge Analytica have been less so. They maintain that the collected data amounts to that of only 30 million users, not 87.

It is also believed, by many on the left, that Cambridge Analytica played a crucial role in the election of President Donald Trump. Secret footage filmed by BBC’s Channel 4 News revealed bosses of the firm bragging about their role in his presidential campaign. Furthermore, a link has been drawn between Cambridge Analytica and the alleged efforts of the Kremlin in Trump’s campaign. Hillary Clinton has said, in Business Insider, “So you’ve got Cambridge Analytica, you’ve got the Republican National Committee — which, of course, had always done data collection and analysis — and you’ve got the Russians. And the real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania; that is really the nub of the question. So if they were getting advice from, let’s say, Cambridge Analytica or someone else about ‘OK, here are the 12 voters in this town in Wisconsin — that’s whose Facebook pages you need to be on to send these messages,’ that indeed would be very disturbing.”

Clinton’s remarks about the dishonesty and creepiness of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s actions represent those of many Americans on either side of the political spectrum. According to CBS News, speaking on a recent poll about the scandal, “Eight in ten Americans who took the poll said they weren’t surprised to discover outside companies got hold of their data, and 63 percent believe their Facebook data is currently unsafe.”

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at his first day of testimony to the U.S. Congress on April 10” image taken from: https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/11/watch-zuckerberg-testimony-online/

According to The New York Times, in response to allegations of dishonesty, poor regulation, and monopoly, Zuckerberg testified before the US Congress on April 10 and 11. Though he stated that Russia and Cambridge Analytica are corporations that “seek to harm us and hack our democracy,” and, “Do we have a responsibility for the content people share on Facebook? I think the answer to that question is yes,” Zuckerberg offered evidence of no actual solutions for the crisis being implemented, and was hesitant to answer any significant proposals of reform with a yes or no answer. This is especially important seeing as the Cambridge Analytica data scandal is not the first political scandal Facebook has been involved in in recent years; there were also the “fake news” and hate speech controversies. Zuckerberg’s testimony was perhaps more entertaining than informative, with internet commentators and meme creators teasing “Zucc” for his use of a booster seat and his alleged “reptilian” appearance mannerisms, especially on the social media network Reddit.

Vox reports that a civil rights movement is building against Facebook and it is uncertain how much the company is willing to give. Many protesters claim that Facebook’s virtual monopoly on social media (owning the three largest networks in the company, with Instagram and Facebook Messenger) justifies government intervention. Many individual Americans have sued Facebook in their county for infringements relating to the scandal. But, something even bigger is on the horizon: on Thursday, as reported by The Guardian, a joint US/UK class-action lawsuit was filed against Facebook, Cambridge Analytics and two other companies for using individuals’ private information for “political propaganda campaigns.” Even after the repealing of net neutrality laws last December, the future of consumer rights online may not be so bleak.