Start of Ramadan this year

The first night of Shahr Ramadan, based upon lunar sighting in the Western Hemisphere, appears to be starting on the night of Saturday, June 28, 2014, which means the first day of fasting will be on Sunday, June 29, 2014.

Here are three of my lectures pertaining to spiritual preparation for Shahr Ramadan.

Also, here’s a good explanation pertaining to devils being chained during Shahr Ramadan.

Water woes add to Detroit’s third world status

JUN 24, 2014, 3:53 PM 

Water woes add to Detroit’s third world status

Adding to the narrative that Detroit is a third world city is the recent international media attention surrounding potential lack of water for its residents.

Activists last week appealed to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights for relief from the possible shut off of water for almost half of the city’s water customers due to delinquent bills. The report submitted to the United Nations states that access to water is a human right and appeals to the international body to have the federal government preserve the water security of Detroiters.

This isn’t a plea for Ethiopians, Palestinians or Sudanese but for water access for American citizens and residents in one of the world’s richest nations. How embarrassing.

Customers in general do need to be responsible for paying their bills. Everyone also understands that bankrupt Detroit has serious fiscal issues.

Detroit, however, has one of the best and most efficient water systems in North America. Residents of America’s poorest major city also pay almost double the national average in water prices. Adding to this, the inept city council just passed a 9 percent hike on water prices last week.

Cutting off homes’ water for being in the whole as little as $150 to the water department is ridiculous. The public health concerns down the road for cutting off the water to hundreds of thousands of people who are barely surviving is shameful not just to the city but for the entire state, especially since Detroit is under an emergency manager appointed by Governor Rick Snyder.

The report submitted to the United Nations also stated that the water shut off is part of a larger scheme “to sweeten the pot for private investors” to take over Detroit’s water system. Of course, the capitalist argument always puts forward that privatization brings down costs and is more efficient than government. I’m not one for conspiracy theories normally, but this whole situation does smell a little fishy to me too.

Detroiters need federal intervention regarding this potential water crisis. The amount of arrears should also be significantly higher than $150 before households with infants and elderly have their water cut off, especially as we approach our warmest months of the year.

Whether the United Nations issues a damning report or the federal government intervenes or not, Detroit continues to have the whole country shaking its head. It’s definitely not a good recipe to attract new businesses and migration back to our state. That’s for sure.

Keep our military out of the mess in Iraq

JUN 17, 2014, 12:00 PM 

Dawud Walid: Keep our military out of the mess in Iraq

President Barack Obama’s order to deploy 275 troops to help further secure America’s largest embassy in the world, which resides in Baghdad, is emblematic of failed foreign policy that has contributed to the current chaos in the region.

Before the American invasion into Iraq in 2003, which was based on misinformation, Al-Qaeda affiliated groups were not operating in the country.

As treacherous as Saddam Hussein was, there were no suicide bombings in markets and attacks upon mosques and churches in Iraq, nor religiously segregated neighborhoods in Baghdad. The occupation opened up Pandora’s Box by destablizing civil institutions in which our military and the Iranian government armed Shia groups. Then our military armed Sunni militias to fight the Al-Qaeda fighters who enter the country after America’s ill-conceived invasion.

Both groups, using American weapons, then began to fight each other, which any political science rookie could have predicted. President George W. Bush, at the time of the initial military incursion, did not even know the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims, much less had any reasonable calculation of the hell that would be unleashed due to the occupation.

Meanwhile, in Iraq and Syria, havoc is being spawned by the murderous group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a group so extreme that even Al-Qaeda has condemned it.

In the face of the ISIS threat, there is discussion that Obama will logistically cooperate with Iran, a country our government says sponsors terrorism, to combat the spread of ISIS as Bush did with Iran when we invaded Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, a terrorist group which was once an American ally.

It’s one big hot mess, right?

Now Obama is compelled to send American troops to defend our monstrous embassy in Baghdad which, if attacked, would lead many politicians will be to call for full-blown military retaliation. Given the Benghazi incident in Libya and the rhetoric which has followed, we all know the script.

The last thing Iraq needs is American military intervention. I hope that the American people raise their voice against American military re-involvement in Iraq. Using diplomacy and not arming any of the parties is the best option that Obama has at this point.