Monday, June 30, 2008

John Mayer's Got It Right

"It's better to say too much,
than never to say what you need to say again."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Are Your Eyebrows Being Threaded by Modern Day Slaves?

Lawsuit alleges Little India beauty salon chain exploits workers:

Ziba Chief Executive Sumita Batra, 39, and her staff have styled models for Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazines and TV shows "America's Next Top Model" and "Extreme Makeover."

But now Batra and her family partners are accused of building their business by exploiting workers, many of them female immigrants. Former Ziba workers filed a class action lawsuit last week alleging the owners of the 11-store salon chain failed to give them the minimum wage, overtime compensation and meal and rest breaks.

The plaintiffs include Payal Modi of India and Bishnu Shahani from Nepal, who say they were paid as little as $4 an hour at the salon, denied rest breaks and required to deliver hours of free henna tattooing services at parties.

The women, who say they were fired in January for challenging the salon's labor contracts, have since opened their own salon in Culver City.

"A lot of people don't read or speak English. They don't know California law," said Modi, who immigrated to Los Angeles in 2001. "So we have to fight for them."

Source: LA Times

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Database of Female Instructors in the Islamic Sciences

This (see below) made my day. It's time we got something like this started. It's 2008 and there are still Muslim organizations, knowledge institutions and madrassas without a single female instructor on staff and it's downright ridiculous. Please help out, and spread the word:

Assalamu Alaikum!

My name is Saad Omar and I am the Director of the Ghazali Project.. Having two younger sisters, I know how difficult it can be for sisters to find other sisters to study (for the sake of more private and intimate sessions that are not possible with male instructors). To facilitate this, the Ghazali Project is working on creating a database of female instructors in the various Islamic sciences such as tajweed, Fiqh, seerah, and other basic islamic disciplines, that will be organized by location (so students can find teachers in their area). (we are including Canada and the UK in this database)

I am looking for everyone's help to make this database. If you are a teacher or know someone that is qualified to teach, please send me the following information. As this information will be made public on our database, only send me information that you are comfortable making public for the student's benefit.

Full Name:

Email Address:

Cell Phone (Optional):

City/State/County (if you live outside the US, please email me directly to receive instructions on what to write):

Area of speciality (e.g. Tajweed):


Please spread this email on to others who may be interested in contributing! Please do not send a teacher's information without their permission

-Saad Omar []

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Interesting & Random Workers' Rights Statistics

12% African-American workers in unions typically earn 12% more than those without unions.

7 years It took the National Labor Relations Board over 7 years to find Wal-Mart guilty of unionbusting and firing a worker in Nevada.

59% of nurses in a recent survey say that a reason to organize unions is to have a formal channel to work with management to address issues that impact patient care, such as short-staffing and cost-cutting on equipment and supplies.

3,000 to 2,000 The NLRB's staffing level has fallen from nearly 3,000 full time employees in 1980 to fewer than 2,000 in 1998, only slightly more than staffing levels in 1950s. The NLRB caseload has tripled since the 1950s, but the agency's current staffing level remains only slightly higher than staffing levels in 1950.

$330 million v. $231 million $330 million Budget for the Department of Interior to preserve and improve sport fishing $231 million: Annual budget for the National Labor Relations Board.

$3,800 is the average amount employers owed to workers they illegal fired in retaliation for union activity in 2003.

36% of workers who vote against union representation and explain their vote as a response to employer pressure according to a survey of 400 NLRB election campaigns in 1998 and 1999.

$16 an hour is the average amount a Costco employee earns and workers only pay 8% of their health insurance costs.

25% Profits at Costco are 25% higher than at Sam’s Club.

50% Costco employees sell 50% more per square foot of salesspace than Wal-Mart’s rival warehouse chain Sam’s Club

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I'm Voting Republican! Not!

(Disclaimer: I do not think the Democratic party is an appropriate alternative.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"In Europe, Debate Over Islam and Virginity"

It seems every time I check in, we (certain members of the Ummah) are doing something even stupider than last time. The NY Times, today, published a piece on the move by many women to reconstruct their hymens. It also included some additional information on the French virginity/annulment case discussed here.

PARIS — The operation in the private clinic off the Champs-Élysées involved one semicircular cut, 10 dissolving stitches and a discounted fee of $2,900.

But for the patient, a 23-year-old French student of Moroccan descent from Montpellier, the 30-minute procedure represented the key to a new life: the illusion of virginity.

Like an increasing number of Muslim women in Europe, she had a hymenoplasty, a restoration of her hymen, the vaginal membrane that normally breaks in the first act of intercourse.

“In my culture, not to be a virgin is to be dirt,” said the student, perched on a hospital bed as she awaited surgery on Thursday. “Right now, virginity is more important to me than life.”

As Europe’s Muslim population grows, many young Muslim women are caught between the freedoms that European society affords and the deep-rooted traditions of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

Gynecologists say that in the past few years, more Muslim women are seeking certificates of virginity to provide proof to others. That in turn has created a demand among cosmetic surgeons for hymen replacements, which, if done properly, they say, will not be detected and will produce tell-tale vaginal bleeding on the wedding night. The service is widely advertised on the Internet; medical tourism packages are available to countries like Tunisia where it is less expensive.
One character jokes that she wants to bring her odometer count back down to “zero.”

“We realized that what we thought was a sporadic practice was actually pretty common,” said Davide Sordella, the film’s director. “These women can live in Italy, adopt our mentality and wear jeans. But in the moments that matter, they don’t always have the strength to go against their culture.”

The issue has been particularly charged in France, where a renewed and fierce debate has occurred about a prejudice that was supposed to have been buried with the country’s sexual revolution 40 years ago: the importance of a woman’s virginity.

The furor followed the revelation two weeks ago that a court in Lille, in northern France, had annulled the 2006 marriage of two French Muslims because the groom found his bride was not the virgin she had claimed to be.

The domestic drama has gripped France. The groom, an unidentified engineer in his 30s, left the nuptial bed and announced to the still partying wedding guests that his bride had lied. She was delivered that night to her parents’ doorstep.

The next day, he approached a lawyer about annulling the marriage. The bride, then a nursing student in her 20s, confessed and agreed to an annulment.
“We had a revolution in France to win equality; we had a sexual revolution in 1968 when women fought for contraception and abortion,” said Dr. Jacques Lansac, the group’s leader. “Attaching so much importance to the hymen is regression, submission to the intolerance of the past.”

But the stories of the women who have had the surgery convey the complexity and raw emotion behind their decisions.
The lives of the French couple whose marriage was annulled are on hold. The Justice Ministry has sought an appeal, arguing that the decision has “provoked a heated social debate” that “touched all citizens of our country and especially women.”

At the Islamic Center of Roubaix, the Lille suburb where the wedding took place, there is sympathy for the woman.

“The man is the biggest of all the donkeys,” said Abdelkibir Errami, the center’s vice president. “Even if the woman was no longer a virgin, he had no right to expose her honor. This is not what Islam teaches. It teaches forgiveness.”

Full Story: NY Times

Friday, June 06, 2008

Wear Your Kaffiyeh with Pride Day

INTERNATIONAL “WEAR YOUR KAFFIYEH WITH PRIDE” DAY - Friday, June 6th - A response to the removal of the Dunkin’ Donuts Ad & the derogatory stereotyping of Arabs and their culture.

Last week, the US chain Dunkin’ Donuts pulled an advert following complaints that the scarf worn by a celebrity chef offered symbolic support for Islamic extremism, as it resembled a kaffiyeh. Although this item of clothing is Arab in origin, it is worn by people from all walks of life, including several American models and celebrities, who have no affiliation with, or sympathy for, terrorists of any kind.

Response to this incident has been largely negative, with many consumers going so far as to even consider boycotting the popular food chain. However, a more positive approach to combating the false stereotype, initially propagated by a small group of right-wing bloggers, headed by Michelle Malkin, is the launch of International “Wear Your Kaffiyeh with Pride” Day, where participants are asked to wear a kaffiyeh on Friday 6th June. This peaceful form of visual protest aims to remind the World that this cultural icon - much like hats, coats, gloves and shoes - is simply a popular clothing accessory that should not be discriminated against, solely on the basis that it is included in the wardrobes of a particular brand of criminal.

The event was launched on the popular social networking site, Facebook, in the early hours of Sunday, June 1st - yet already, over seventeen thousand people have been invited to the protest, with the numbers growing every hour. This does not include those who have pledged their support via blogs and websites.

The protest has resonated with people from across both the religious and racial spectra, with one recent recruit stating: “from a Catholic Canadian Living in America… Bravo! I’m now frantically looking for a Kaffiyeh!“. In fact, the organiser of the event, a blogger who goes by the handle “iMuslim”, is herself a non-Arab PhD student, based in the United Kingdom. The famous British activist and journalist, Yvonne Ridley, has also lent her support to the campaign, urging her contacts to “wear the kaffiyeh with pride”.

A similar newsworthy, clothing-based protest took place last year in several Canadian schools, as part of an anti-bullying movement. A large number of students attended school donning various pink items of clothing, to display their solidarity with a fellow male pupil who had previously been harassed by school bullies for wearing a pink polo shirt.

At the end of the day, the significance of Kaffiyeh Day extends past the misrepresentation of an article of clothing, and the misguided actions of one of America’s many fast-food chains. It is about self-empowerment, justice, and a call to the end of derogatory stereotyping of all peoples, irrespective of race or religion. And though the inspiration for these types of protest varies, at their heart lies the same message: please, whatever you do, don’t judge a book by its cover - or even its kaffiyeh.

More information about International “Wear Your Kaffiyeh with Pride” Day can be found via the following links:

Facebook event page

Blog post of event organizer

Contact details for the organizer can be found on her blog

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Every Drop Matters

The governor's pronouncement follows the driest spring on record and two years of below-normal precipitation. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, the backbone of the state's water supply, stands at two-thirds of normal; dusty banks line many important reservoirs; and environmental rulings have slashed water pumped from the crucial Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta - all while California's booming population threatens to overwhelm some of the state's key infrastructure.

Some water districts, including the East Bay Municipal Utility District, already have imposed rationing and threatened to fine or reduce water supply to customers who violate the restrictions. Most of the remaining Bay Area water districts have asked for voluntary cutbacks on the order of 10 to 20 percent.

But as the dusty days of summer approach, more districts are likely to make restrictions mandatory. The picture looks increasingly grim if the next winter brings scant rain and snow.

"If we get a third consecutive dry year, we're going to have serious, serious problems, and I don't know the answer," said Ted Thomas, spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources.
Source: SF Chronicle

As people of conscience we should already be making efforts to conserve, but consider this a reminder in case you needed one.

Ten ways to start saving:

1. Water your lawn only when it needs it. Step on your grass. If it springs back, when you lift your foot, it doesn't need water. So set your sprinklers for more days in between watering. Saves 750-1,500 gallons per month. Better yet, especially in times of drought, water with a hose. And best of all, convert your lawn to native plants.

2. Fix leaky faucets and plumbing joints. Saves 20 gallons per day for every leak stopped.

3. Don't run the hose while washing your car. Use a bucket of water and a quick hose rinse at the end. Saves 150 gallons each time. For a two-car family that's up to 1,200 gallons a month.

4. Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors. Saves 500 to 800 gallons per month.

5. Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. Saves 300 to 800 gallons per month.

6. Shorten your showers. Even a one or two minute reduction can save up to 700 gallons per month.

7. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks. Saves 150 gallons or more each time. At once a week, that's more than 600 gallons a month.

8. Don't use your toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. Saves 400 to 600 gallons per month.

9. Capture tap water. While you wait for hot water to come down the pipes, catch the flow in a watering can to use later on house plants or your garden. Saves 200 to 300 gallons per month.

10. Don't water the sidewalks, driveway or gutter. Adjust your sprinklers so that water lands on your lawn or garden where it belongs--and only there. Saves 500 gallons per month.

Additional Tips: Mono Lake

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Obama's Got It

And now the real fun begins...

Barack Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, becoming the first black candidate to lead a major party into a campaign for the White House. Vanquished rival Hillary Rodham Clinton swiftly signaled an interest in joining the ticket as his running mate.

Obama arranged a victory celebration in St. Paul, Minn., at the site of this summer's Republican National Convention — an in-your-face gesture to Sen. John McCain, who will be his opponent in the race to become the nation's 44th president.

The 46-year-old Obama outlasted Clinton in a historic campaign that sparked record turnouts in primary after primary, yet exposed deep racial and gender divisions within the party.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Barack O'Bollywood

(Please do not misunderstand this blog post. This is by NO means a Barack Obama endorsement.)