Mendhi, Ramadan, South Asian, henna, Eid

Girls showing off their henna’d hands, a South Asian tradition for Eid, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan. (Photo by Daaniya Iyaz)

The scent of home-cooked food at three in the morning and the calm of utter silence as hundreds of people stand together in prayer can only mean one thing: it’s Ramadan.

In my mosque, people from Egypt, Tanzania, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Denmark and countless other countries come together to commemorate this blessed month. While we may all speak different languages, our sole intention during Ramadan is the same: to come closer to God.

by -
5

Wild bears are kept in Syrian ‘zoos’ where they can be bought and transported in the exotic animal trade. (Photo courtesy of Animals Lebanon)

Grey parrots and vervet monkeys mingle with cats, dogs and hamsters in many of Lebanon’s pet shops, but if you want the really exciting animals, you have to ask behind the counter.

Lions, panthers and bears—in fact many of the mascots from the American sports franchises—are just a few of the animals you can buy here.

One pet store in Beirut—whose owner requested anonymity for fear of protests from animal rights groups—offers a chance at owning your own piece of the wild. The owner received a degree in veterinarian studies in Russia and, unlike many pet stores here, the six dogs strategically placed in the window are clean, healthy and vaccinated.

But these aren’t the only animals he sells. He can get you lion and bear cubs, leopards, even a baby crocodile. Sitting behind a tidy desk surrounded by bags of pet food, he describes the process of how a wild animal is ordered and smuggled into Lebanon.

Brandi Finn, a student at Seattle Central Community College, hands out signs for the Student Debt Noise Brigade, a weekly protest of tuition increases at Seattle Central Community College. (Photo by Hallie Golden)

When students in Quebec heard earlier this summer that the government planned to raise college tuition by 75%, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Montreal in massive protests.

If the increases go through, their tuition will be almost $4,000 per year.

University of Washington students, on the other hand, may soon be paying more than $20,000 per year, if the trend of tuition hikes over the past four years continues.

But throughout these yearly increases, protests with more than a couple hundred UW students have been all but unheard of.

Similar economic stresses and budget cuts have affected college students around the globe. The difference is how they are handling these changes.

As student protests have erupted from Chile to Canada, US college students have barely made a peep.

So why is it that the youth outside of this country seem determined and able to have their voices heard by those in power, while most in the US do not?

by -
20
Mourners cry outside the scene of a mass shooting at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. The shooter used a legally purchased 9mm handgun in the rampage. (Photo from REUTERS/John Gress)

Mourners cry outside the scene of a mass shooting at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. The shooter used a legally purchased 9mm handgun in the rampage. (Photo from REUTERS/John Gress)

Gun violence is an unfortunate and irrefutable part of American culture.

An American my age can almost mark years of their life by instances of extreme violence committed by armed nutcases, from Waco, to Columbine High School, to the DC Sniper, to Virginia Tech, to Tucson, to last month in Aurora, Colorado, and the shootings just yesterday at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

And of course, gun violence has taken its toll on Seattle, my former home, with the shootings at Café Racer in May.

I say my former home because, after growing up in the Northwest and living in Seattle for over 10 years, my partner and I immigrated to New Zealand two years ago.

And we are currently going through the process of legally obtaining firearms in New Zealand.