Muslims in the U.S. state of Alaska face nearly 20 hours of daylight during the fasting month of Ramadan. VOA Hausa reporter Yusuf Harande went to Alaska to see how some Muslims are adjusting to the long days.
During the month of Ramada, millions of U.S. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. This year, Ramadan has fallen in May. Already temperatures in Washington, D.C., have risen above 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit.) Running while fasting on hot days can be challenging and ill-advised. Still about 70 fasting Muslims took part in a fundraising run to help raise $100,000 for children with special needs. VOA’s Niala Mohammad has more.
Eight contestants won the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday night, the first eight-way tie in the 94-year history of the competition.
The six boys and two girls ages 12 to 14 and from six states, Alabama, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.
“We’re throwing the dictionary at you, and, so far, you are showing the dictionary who’s the boss,” the bee’s pronouncer, Jacques Bailly, told the remaining eight after 18 rounds of competition.
They were: Rishik Gandhasri (auslaut), Erin Howard (erysipelas), Abhijay Kodali (palama), Shruthika Padhy (aiguillette), Rohan Raja (odylic), Christopher Serrao (cernuous), Sohum Sukhatankar (pendeloque), and Saketh Sundar (bougainvillea).
The self-dubbed “octo-champs” spelled words that included aiguillette, bougainvillea, erysipelas, and pendeloque.
Each winner will receive $50,000 in cash and a trophy.
This year’s tournament at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland began with 562 contestants from across the United States, its territories and six other countries.
Providence’s iconic Superman Building is included on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of the nation’s most endangered historic places.
The 2019 list highlights 11 architectural and cultural sites the private nonprofit deems at risk because of neglect, development or other threats.
The 91-year-old vacant skyscraper is Rhode Island’s tallest building at around 430 feet (131 meters). Formally the Industrial Trust Building, it resembles the Daily Planet headquarters in the old TV show.
Katherine Malone-France, the National Trust’s interim chief preservation officer, says few buildings in Providence are as iconic or beloved, but the Superman Building has deferred maintenance needs after six years of vacancy.
The National Trust says the list can mobilize support for preservation. This year’s list also includes Nashville’s Music Row and the National Mall Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.
your ad here
At a mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, outside Washington, a large number of Muslims are reciting evening prayers before they break their daily fast at sunset for Ramadan.
Afterward, some go home to eat Iftar, the daily meal shared with family and friends after fasting, while others break their fast at a restaurant. The problem with going out is that many restaurants close too early. That mostly leaves some 24-hour restaurants that serve fast food.
Now there is a new initiative to give Muslims in the Washington area more dining options during Ramadan, called Dine After Dark. The idea is for restaurants to open a couple of hours earlier or later during the holy month, to accommodate Muslims who fast from sunrise to sunset.
Dine After Dark a win-win
Katherine Ashworth Brandt, a graduate student at George Washington University and a Christian, came up with the idea.
Brandt said religious holidays like Christmas are celebrated, so why not Ramadan for people who belong to the third-largest religion in the United States?
In the Washington area alone, Muslims make up about 2% of the population, according to the Pew Research Center. Brandt thinks giving Muslims more places to dine during Ramadan, and restaurants more customers to serve is a win-win for everyone.
“I just want this to be a common business practice because I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “I think treating Muslim customers with respect and appreciation during their holiday season is something customers like and it’s also good for business.”
So far, only a few restaurants that are already open late have joined the effort, with the hope other eateries will follow.
Among them is a trendy local restaurant group called Busboys and Poets. Owner Andy Shallal hopes by calling attention to the issue that places now closed after dusk will join the Dine After Dark idea to extend their hours during Ramadan and make it a yearly habit.
“Me being a Muslim, I understand the significance of Ramadan, how important it is to people and families to come together and break bread together during this time,” he explained. “It’s not so much what the food is or what you are offering, it’s really about being welcoming.”
Customers like it
Some 80 people from the Muslim Writers Collective of Washington came to Busboys and Poets in downtown Washington to an Iftar to catch up and enjoy traditional food like halal chicken and vegetable dishes.
“I think it’s a great idea to have restaurants open later since Washington is not a city that caters to people late at night,” journalist Nesima Aberra said.
During entertainment on stage, local comedian Louie Al-Hashimi, made the group laugh as he talked about Muslim families.
“A lot of younger people move to Washington for jobs and might not have family nearby or know many people,” he said. “Ramadan is a good time to get to know one another. So, the more places we have to eat together late at night, the better.”
Shallal said he looks forward to the day when spending Iftar in restaurants as well as at home will be considered nothing out of the ordinary.
In the Washington area, there is a push to give Muslims more dining options during Ramadan. Local restaurants would open a couple of hours earlier or later during the holy month to accommodate Muslim customers who fast from sunrise to sunset. The moves give Muslims more places to dine and restaurants more customers to serve. A couple of restaurants that are open late have joined the effort with the hope others will follow. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about the initiative called Dine After Dark.
South African runner Caster Semenya filed an appeal Wednesday against the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to uphold testosterone regulations for some female athletes in track and field.
Attorneys for the two-time Olympic 800-meter champion said she lodged an appeal with the Swiss Federal Tribunal, Switzerland’s supreme court. CAS, sport’s highest court, is based in Switzerland.
Semenya’s appeal focuses on “fundamental human rights,” the attorneys said.
Under the International Association of Athletics Federations’ new rules, upheld by the CAS this month, Semenya is not allowed to run in international races from 400 meters to one mile unless she medically lowers her natural testosterone levels. She said after the CAS decision that she would not take medication and repeated her defiance in Wednesday’s statement announcing her appeal.
I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete,'' Semenya said.The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am.”
Semenya, 28, who is also a three-time world champion, is one of a number of female athletes with medical conditions known as differences of sex development that cause high levels of natural testosterone. The IAAF says that gives them an advantage over other female athletes because of testosterone’s ability to help athletes build muscle and carry more oxygen in their blood.
The IAAF requires Semenya and others affected by the rules to take hormone-suppressing medication or have surgery if they want to compete in the restricted events. That’s been labeled unethical by leading medical experts, including the World Medical Association, which represents doctors across the world.
Semenya’s attorneys said that “the Swiss federal supreme court will be asked to consider whether the IAAF’s requirements for compulsory drug interventions violate essential and widely recognized public policy values, including the prohibition against discrimination, the right to physical integrity, the right to economic freedom and respect for human dignity.”
Decisions made by CAS can be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal on only a very limited number of grounds. One of them is a ruling that possibly violates a person’s human rights.
Semenya’s attorneys could also seek a temporary suspension of the IAAF rules, which came into effect May 8, to allow her to defend her 800 title at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, in September. The testosterone regulations specify that athletes must reduce their testosterone levels to a level decided by the IAAF for six months consistently before being allowed to run in international events.
Under the current regulations, Semenya can’t run the 800 or 1,500 meters, her favorite events, at any Diamond League meets this season or the world championships.
The annual World Series of Poker opened Tuesday in Las Vegas with dozens of scheduled card tournaments and a special event to celebrate the 50th run of a series known for minting millionaires each year.
The seven-week poker festival is expected to again draw tens of thousands of players seeking a piece of a projected combined prize pool of more than $200 million. Buy-ins for the series’ 89 championship events range from $400 to $100,000.
To celebrate the milestone, owner Caesars Interactive Entertainment has scheduled an awards ceremony and a $500 buy-in, rake-free tournament with a guaranteed prize pool of $5 million. The company is allowing fans and others to choose some of the players who will be recognized at the ceremony.
“It’s absolutely a way to make them a part of it,” tournament spokesman Seth Palansky said. “The 50th year was a good time to reflect back on sort of where we’ve come both in poker and the World Series of Poker, but we wanted the fans and the players to decide what moments from our 50 years stood out to them.”
People can vote on seven categories, including fan favorite player, the series’ “favorite bad boy” and the four most important players in the tournament’s history. A panel will also put together a list of the 50 greatest poker players.
Casino owner Benny Binion started the series in 1970 as an invitation-only event. Johnny Moss was declared the winner by the other men at the table and was given a trophy.
Poker’s popularity in the U.S. erupted in 2003, when Tennessee accountant Chris Moneymaker entered a $39 online poker satellite contest, won an entry to the series’ famed no-limit Texas Hold `em main event and emerged victorious, winning $2.5 million and inspiring other amateur players.
The series this year will run through July 16 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, west of the Las Vegas Strip. Champions go home richer and with gold bracelets.
The tournament saw a record 123,865 entrants in 2018. The prize pool of over $266 million was divided among 18,105 participants. Twenty-eight of them earned at least $1 million.
Palansky said the tournament keeps going strong because organizers have been open to changes and feedback from players.
“Poker is a unique game. We are just the operator — we deal the cards, we provide the chips and the setup — but they play amongst each other. It’s a peer-to-peer game,” he said. “So, ultimately, the WSOP, we look at it as sort of in the trust of the players, and it’s our job to just listen to their feedback and provide the schedule that meets their needs and demands.”
The tournament’s famed main event starts July 3 with players staking $10,000 to buy in. ESPN and PokerGO will again provide live coverage.
Indianapolis resident John Cynn won the main event last year after playing more than 440 hands at the final table. His cut of the prize pool was $8.8 million.your ad here