Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gaza: 72 Hour Truce, Is There an End?


There is no one in the world today that hasn't heard or seen the story of the Israel attack on #Gaza uhfolding. The world seems to have gone crazy and watched nearly silently as hundreds of Palestinian children were killed. The Muslim world has been the loudest voice, but the people dying are of all faiths. The problem seems to be between the truth and what Israel and it's supporters want us all to believe. 
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Social networks are on fire, but it is really hard to tell if we are making a dent in opinions of world leaders who are in a position to impose sanctions (and this what really needs to happen) against Israel. I really don't understand why no country has done this yet. The U.S. imposed sanction against Russia recently for much less than this, but with what seems to be a genocide campaign raging all we here is that Israel an ally of the U.S. from President Barack Obama and that Congress made sure that $225 billion funding bill for Israel's defense misiles was approved before they want on vacation. AID to a country that is bombing SCHOOLS and killing CHILDREN! 
Israel LiesIs it that too many people are believing in Israel's propaganda or are they just remaining quiet out of fear of the repercussions? Understand that if you are silent it means you see no problem with what Israel is doing. For me, it's difficult to watch all the images of children becoming orphans and parents becomes childless and not FEEL SOMETHING. A friend recently put this up as her status, "I'll admit I have stopped and thought about how my criticism of the Israeli genocide would affect me professionally. I'm reading a ton of articles about how people lost jobs or were ostracized for stating their views. But I cannot stay silent. And if things fall through because of it, so be it. I'd rather children stop being killed than my getting ahead. I could not live with it. I'll manage. So don't be afraid, please. Speak out. If you remain silent, you are complicit." I agree, so I am speaking out. Let the killing stop and let it be soon. #SupportGaza #Humanists4Gaza #GazaUnderAttack

Sunday, August 3, 2014

What's the Point: Ramadan Fasting


It's been many years now that I reverted to Islam. Muslims believe that all people are born with a natural faith in God and according to Islam, children are born with an innate sense of God, which is called the fitrah. Therefore, conversion to Islam as a "return" back to this original, pure faith. For this reason, many Muslims prefer to say that they have "reverted," rather than converted to Islam. A common definition of the word "revert" is to "return to a former condition or belief." Since I reverted I have fasted every year trying my best to follow all the customs, practices and rules of Islam and Ramadan. My people only think that Ramadan means you don't eat. As I tell my children, that is not the case. In fact, there is a lot more to Ramadan than not eating. It is a time we pray 5 times everyday (if you don't already), read the Quran and overall become closer to Allah. 


Fasting begins before sunrise and Muslims across the world wake in the wee hours of the night to eat their last meal before sunrise and then pray the Fajr prayer. Often, following Fajr they will read the Quran because it is believe the angels are listening especially at the time and therefore there extra blessing if you read at the time. Following the we return back to our beds for some time. 

The rest of the day we go about our day as usual taking care to offer prayers at Dhur (just after midday) and Asr (afternoon). At the timing of Maghrib (evening prayer) we break our fast with dates (as this is what the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) did) and water or juice. In some families this meal (Iftar) is elaborate with many dishes, but I prefer it to be a simple table. We are not supposed to over eat during Ramadan anyway. Following the meal, we pray the Maghrib prayer. Some families have dinner after this, but our family prefers Iftar to be the evening meal as well. 

After Isha prayer (night prayer) there are special prayers called Taraweeh that are held either at home or at the local mosque.  These are not obligatory prayers, so not everyone does them. This is mainly because they take a long time and many have early office hours. 



Ramadan is the month that the Quran was received by our Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and is the month we seek forgiveness for our sins, the sins of our near ones and pray for those who are no longer in this world. Muslims celebrate the arrival of Ramadan for many reasons. One is the extra time we get to spend with our family, but a big part of it is the opportunity to seek forgiveness. Ramadan is basically the month of forgiveness and all Muslims celebrate this month and the opportunities to commune with Allah for a clean slate. 

I know a few people who are married to people of the book (Christians) who sometimes fast along with the rest of the family. In some ways to be a part, to make the family members happy and in other ways to experience what the disadvantaged go through everyday. While it's great for them to feel included in the celebration of the month, they are not really experiencing all the reasons Ramadan is such a great part of Islam and being a Muslim. 

The end of Ramadan culminates in the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr. This is traditionally a 3 day long holiday, though depending on where you live it may only be a day for you.  Eid Mubarak.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Rewriting History?

March 26, 1971 is the date that Bangladesh won its independence from then West Pakistan. So, many things had happened since 1948 when the two nations were erroneously separated from India into East Pakistan and West Pakistan, but in 1971 the one thing that was certain in then East Pakistan was that Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was its leader. Imagine the surprise and shock of the vast majority when the top two BNP leaders announced in public forums that rather Ziaur Rahman was the first President of Bangladesh and the first to proclaim Bangladesh’s independence.

While I may be a foreigner in this country, like most foreigners I have read several books on Bangladesh history and viewed countless websites. Nowhere is there any inference that Ziaur Rahman had claimed to be the leader or President in 1971, so it is strange that so many years later his wife and son have taken the liberty to claim it now. For those who missed the speeches:

Tarique Rahman on March 25th, 2014 in London:

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on March 26, 2014 in Bangladesh:


The citizens of the country have been thrown into mass confusion due this new misguidence being thrown at them and naturally this has upset the ruling party as well. In fact a few newspapers have carried the news that Tarique Rahman may be sued over his statements as they go against the constitution according to the ruling party spokesman: He said the country's independence was the fruit of a continuous movement, rather than a stray incident. "In the general elections of 1970, the AL, under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a massive majority. Bangabandhu called for the independence of Bangladesh on March 7, 1971," he added.
Hanif said Bangabandhu had declared the independence of Bangladesh through the then EPR's wireless and asked the people to create resistance against the occupation force of the Pakistan army. "Zia did not proclaim the independence," he asserted.

He said MA Hannan, a local AL leader, and Abul Kashem Sandeep, vice-president of Fatiksori College, had declared the country's independence on behalf of Bangabandhu on March 26. "On March 27, Maj. Ziaur Rahman announced the declaration of independence on behalf of Bangabandhu," he added.

It is sad that these statements created a blight on an otherwise traditionally happy day in Bangladesh. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Beware of the Elephants

20140211_125017[1]Recently, I was walking and saw two elephants coming toward me. I stopped in my tracks not sure whether to go ahead or back, and then decided to take a few pictures. After all, it’s not everyday an elephant is so close. Well, as clicked away, one of the riders spotted me. I guess a white woman taking photos sort of stands out in Dhaka. 

 

Before I knew it there was an elephant standing in directly in front of me. I really didn’t realize he was there until he was in my camera view. Then I looked up and froze for a minute. This was surprising or so I thought for about a minute. The minute ended when the rider asked me for money. Of course, panhandling is common in Bangladesh though not usually from the back of an elephant. After this happened with me, I over heard my office staff discussing the same thing happening to them. Really saddened that animals are misused this way. I thought it was so cool, but these people ruined it for me.

20140211_125025[2]Finally, I saw a horrible thing when in my car with my chauffer on my way to a meeting. One of these elephant rider beggars stopped a car and actually blocked it from proceeding until they got their money. So, if you see elephants on the roads be careful and warn your chauffer of the same.

Beware of the Elephants!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Breaking News

This morning I opened my Daily Star to skim the headlines. Sad and shocking to say the least.  Usually I don't read the articles, between the errors in the writing and the stress I get from the articles themselves on the political activities ongoing, it really isn't worth it to me. Today I made an exception and took a closer look. Ugh! Now super stressed and outraged I am writing this post.

Just to give you and overview here are a few:

Door Shut Yet Open for BNP

Outraged Business Leaders Demand Security

Blockaders Torch AL Leader's House

Rickshaw-puller Hit By Crude Bomb

Children Suffer in Silence

ATM's Empty - Banks stop refilling over insecurity

Even 5yr-old Not Spared

Even I have to wonder is this politics or psychological warfare? Why do we accept this onslaught of political based violence every 5 years? It's difficult for me to take these things lightly anymore.

Blockade programs where the leader of the Opposition allows her party supporters to kill, maim, vandalize and commit many other crimes in the name of protest, hartal, blockade while preventing the nation's children from attending school or risking their lives to get there, causing losses to businesses who can't get their supplies, and much more can't be called political campaigning or even protest politics.  I won't be polite about it. It goes far beyond that, it  is dark and sinister. Yet, we all allow it to continue without looking for a way to end it. Why?

Why do we get upset when those empowered to uphold the law arrest those breaking them? Why do we allow the opposition to hold more violent protests to protest the arrests of people who have done criminal acts? Why are we allowing this to go on and on and on with no thought of the impact on our youth? Seeing that there is no respect for the police or law enforcement and that politicians object to criminals being arrested and are allowed to protest it, what do the youth of the country learn?

Jesmin-Akhter-Liza

Five-year-old Sumaiya Akhter Sadia was going to school yesterday morning when she was struck by splinter from a cocktail hurled from a procession of the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance activists, brought out to enforce its blockade, in Chittagong city's Akbar Shah Mazar area. The photo was taken at Chittagong Medical College Hospital. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

Imagine only a week or so before mid-year exams and nearly no days of school. Children sitting in their homes worried whether their parents made it to their places of employment or if they will make it home. Children missing weeks of school due to protests. Children and parents worried if they will make it to school and return home unharmed. Homemade bombs being thrown at vehicles, passersby and homes with the blessings of the opposition leader. She may disagree, but she has not told them not to do these things so her silence has been taken as approval. She may disagree, but she is calling for more of these programs as intensified agitation programs

People of Bangladesh and friends of Bangladesh, it is time to put and end to mindless acceptance of criminal acts done in the name of protest, elections or political campaigning. It is time to put into place regulations on all protests that will prohibit, or control them at the minimum. Restrict protests to a specific venue and restrict the acts and numbers of protesters.  Tell your leaders you won't accept this violence and insecurity anymore. Tell them today. Tell them for Sumaiya and for all the children of Bangladesh - security is a priority that can't be taken lightly anymore. Crime in the name of politcal elections is unacceptable.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why So Much Change, Google Apps?

When Google launched Google Apps I was probably one of the first to sign up. A great platform for my small personal domain at no cost. Actually I was probably just happy to not have to pay a fee to host my email, but over the years I found many more reasons to stay with Google Apps even when I could have easily used my domain host’s platform. In fact, I have moved domains that I had responsibility for to Google Apps because of my positive experience. Then last year Google decided to do away with its Standard (Free) version for new subscribers. So if you were already there great, but for new domains; oh well.
Google does have a paid version (a couple of them actually), but for my small domain I don’t really see the point. Now, today I receive an email about an update to the sign-in page (all versions). I have to say that it really irks me that for the companies who like to have their sign in page branded, they will no longer be able to do so. 
For any who might want to read the announcement, I have provided a snapshot below and the link to the full information on Google’s website
 
 
 
 

While the news is disheartening overall, there is one option still available for those who have personal domains and prefer not to use their host’s services. That is Live Domains which is basically Hotmail/live mail. To sign up, go here. It is not as full serviced as Google Apps, but nice just the same. Sad to see Google becoming another money monger. :(
If anyone knows of any other comparable services, let me know. I’ll update this post with verified information.







Friday, November 1, 2013

The US needs to retire daylight savings and just have two time zones—one hour apart (a reblog from QZ.COM)

 

This morning while browsing on LinkedIn, I came across this post, interesting idea though I am not sure I agree.

1. The flip to Daylight Savings Time (DST) gives children extra time at night during the summer days to play outside (at least in suburban and rural areas).  Then when Standard Time is resumed in the Fall, later play is discouraged by the earlier onset of darkness.

2. It is an advantage for farmers, giving extra morning time to work in Daylight and perhaps allows them to finish earlier rather than work into the darkness during peak times.

I did take a look at some of the energy savings and whether it is worth it in the end (or not), however it is more a case for the experts. I live in a country where energy shortages are the norm. A few years ago they attempted instituting Daylight Savings Time and it failed. I believed it failed due to the fact that they lacked the resources to implement properly. Subsequent to the first year, due to allot of dissent among the policy makers it never was attempted again.

Anyway, I found this to be an interesting read. I’d just do a reblog, but we’re on different platforms.

 

SAVING TIME

The US needs to retire daylight savings and just have two time zones—one hour apart

By Allison Schrager November 1, 2013

Allison Schrager is an economist with a focus on pension issues.

Daylight saving time ends Nov. 3, setting off an annual ritual where Americans (who don’t live in Arizona or Hawaii) and residents of 78 other countries including Canada (but not Saskatchewan), most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand turn their clocks back one hour. It’s a controversial practice that became popular in the 1970s with the intent of conserving energy. The fall time change feels particularly hard because we lose another hour of evening daylight, just as the days grow shorter. It also creates confusion because countries that observe daylight saving change their clocks on different days.

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It would seem to be more efficient to do away with the practice altogether. The actual energy savings are minimal, if they exist at all. Frequent and uncoordinated time changes cause confusion, undermining economic efficiency. There’s evidence that regularly changing sleep cycles, associated with daylight saving, lowers productivity and increases heart attacks. Being out of sync with European time changes was projected to cost the airline industry $147 million a year in travel disruptions. But I propose we not only end Daylight Saving, but also take it one step further.

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proposed-time-zones

This year, Americans on Eastern Standard Time should set their clocks back one hour (like normal), Americans on Central and Rocky Mountain time do nothing, and Americans on Pacific time should set their clocks forward one hour. After that we won’t change our clocks again – no more daylight saving. This will result in just two time zones for the continental United States. The east and west coasts will only be one hour apart. Anyone who lives on one coast and does business with the other can imagine the uncountable benefits of living in a two-time-zone nation (excluding Alaska and Hawaii).

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It sounds radical, but it really isn’t. The purpose of uniform time measures is coordination. How we measure time has always evolved with the needs of commerce. According to Time and Date, a Norwegian newsletter dedicated to time zone information, America started using four time zones in 1883. Before that, each city had its own time standard based on its calculation of apparent solar time (when the sun is directly over-head at noon) using sundials. That led to more than 300 different American time zones. This made operations very difficult for the telegraph and burgeoning railroad industry. Railroads operated with 100 different time zones before America moved to four, which was consistent with Britain’s push for a global time standard. The following year, at the International Meridian Conference, it was decided that the entire world could coordinate time keeping based on the British Prime Meridian (except for France, which claimed the Prime Median ran through Paris until 1911). There are now 24 (or 25, depending on your existential view of the international date line) time zones, each taking about 15 degrees of longitude.

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Now the world has evolved further – we are even more integrated and mobile, suggesting we’d benefit from fewer, more stable time zones. Why stick with a system designed for commerce in 1883? In reality, America already functions on fewer than four time zones. I spent the last three years commuting between New York and Austin, living on both Eastern and Central time. I found that in Austin, everyone did things at the same times they do them in New York, despite the difference in time zone. People got to work at 8am instead of 9am, restaurants were packed at 6pm instead of 7pm, and even the TV schedule was an hour earlier. But for the last three years I lived in a state of constant confusion, I rarely knew the time and was perpetually an hour late or early. And for what purpose? If everyone functions an hour earlier anyway, in part to coordinate with other parts of the country, the different time zones lose meaning and are reduced to an arbitrary inconvenience. Research based on time use surveys found Americans’ schedules are determined by television more than daylight. That suggests in effect, Americans already live on two time zones.

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It’s true that larger time zones would seem to cheat many people out of daylight by removing them further from their true solar time. But the demands of global commerce already do that. Many people work in companies with remote offices or have clients in different parts of the country. It’s become routine to arrange schedules to coordinate people in multiple domestic time zones. Traders in California start their day at 5am to participate in New York markets. True, not all Californians work on East Coast time, but research by economists Daniel Hamermesh, Catlin Meyers, and Mark Peacock showed communities are more productive when there’s more time coordination.  Californians who work on Eastern time require services that can accommodate their schedule and see less of their families on Pacific time.

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Frequent travel between the coasts causes jet lag, robbing employees of productive work time. With a one-hour time difference, bicoastal travel would become almost effortless. It might make international business harder, but it’s hard to say for certain. The east coast would be seven hours behind continental Europe, but one hour closer to time zones in Asia. Also, the gains from more frequent inter-state communication might outweigh the cost of extra international coordination.

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alaska-vs-us

In 1983, Alaska, which naturally spans four time zones, moved most of the state toa single time zone (except for an Native American reservation near Ketchikan and a few western Aleutian islands). The longitudinal distance of Alaska is nearly equal to the entire continental United States, yet the state functions, albeit with some tension, on one time zone. China has been on one time zone since 1949, despite naturally spanning five time zones.

1. Spain technically should be on Greenwich Mean Time but it is on Central European time. Many Spaniards believe being out of sync with solar time lowers productivity. But that is because the Spanish workday has not fully integrated with the rest of Europe. The major factor throwing them off is the three hour lunch that many Spaniards and school children observe which starts at 2pm. This shows that optimal time zones account for commerce and common cultural borders, not just longitude. The problems Spain has, being on Central European Time, wouldn’t apply to America because states are better economically integrated and already follow similar work schedules.

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Sure, moving the continental states to two time zones would cause two-hour jumps between adjacent time zones and America won’t line up with the time zones of countries directly north and south, unless this catches on as a global trend. But the discontinuity ship already sailed when rich Western countries haphazardly adopted daylight saving and most other countries didn’t. Time is already arbitrary, why not make it work in our favor?

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You can follow Allison on Twitter at @AllisonSchrager. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.