R&B artist Sza opens up about fasting, wearing the hijab and more

SZA is best known for her hits “Good Days” and “All the Stars.” Instagram
SZA is best known for her hits “Good Days” and “All the Stars.” Instagram
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Updated 04 April 2021

R&B artist Sza opens up about fasting, wearing the hijab and more

SZA is best known for her hits “Good Days” and “All the Stars.” Instagram

DUBAI: In an interview with Muslim Girl’s new Snapchat series “Muslim Girl Says,” R&B singer Sza opened up about her Muslim faith, touching on topics such as fasting during Ramadan and facing Islamophobia.

The “Good Days” hitmaker sat down with the publication’s founder Amani via video chat, where she also discussed the Muslim women who inspire her and the real reason why she removed her hijab.

“I stopped covering after 9/11,” said the artist who was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother in Maplewood, New Jersey. “I was in Middle school, and I regret so much being afraid of what people said about me — that I let somebody dictate how I was,” she admitted. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SZA (@sza)

“We played (shows) in Malaysia and Indonesia and it was really comforting to be able to cover up for the show,” she said. “But I didn’t have anybody say to me I was being fake… I just really loved that,” she added.

The singer, whose real name is Solána Imani Rowe, also stated that her and her family experienced racially-motivated aggressions due to their faith. “Someone threw a brick at my dad’s mosque,” she recalled.

“I guess I didn’t realize things were weird and awkward until I got a lot older. I couldn’t believe Islamophobia randomly deciding I’m oppressed because I’m covering my hair,” she said.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SZA (@sza)

When asked if she would be fasting Ramadan this year, the 30-year-old said “I don’t see why not. Unless I’m ill.” 

SZA has been very vocal about growing up in a Muslim household in a predominantly white community since the beginning of her career. “I’ll feel most comfortable with Islam forever. It just makes most sense to me out of everything else, there’s less variables and less space for human error. It’s very rigid but it’s safe because you can trust it. There’s no photos or idles, no songs or hymnals, it is what it is. I like the clarity,” she said in a past interview with Complex magazine.


Prince Harry’s son was never entitled to a royal title — and it has nothing to do with Meghan

Prince Harry’s son was never entitled to a royal title — and it has nothing to do with Meghan
Updated 18 min 20 sec ago

Prince Harry’s son was never entitled to a royal title — and it has nothing to do with Meghan

Prince Harry’s son was never entitled to a royal title — and it has nothing to do with Meghan
  • Title protocol dates back to 104-year-old decree issued by King George V

LONDON: US TV star Oprah Winfrey’s high-profile interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry left many viewers with more questions than answers.
One major controversy covered in the interview concerned the title of the couple’s son Archie, full name Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
Despite being seventh in line to the British throne, Archie was not granted the title of prince, which has angered Megan and her fans.
But Archie’s lack of title at birth is to be expected, given the precedent established by a royal rule dating back 104 years.
In 1917, King George V issued a decree stating: “The grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes of these Our Realms.”
Because Queen Elizabeth II is the ruling sovereign, her children and grandchildren receive royal titles.
But her great-grandchildren — including any children of Megan and Prince Harry — will only be titled Lord or Lady Mountbatten-Windsor.
This also means that Archie did not receive the title “his royal highness” (HRH). His parents decided to use the title “master.”
Despite Megan’s expectation that her son would assume the title of prince upon becoming a grandson when Prince Charles takes the throne, she was told that “protocols would be changed.”
So why did the children of Prince William and Kate Middleton receive the royal titles? Because Queen Elizabeth demanded it.
As a direct heir to the throne, their son George was always entitled to be a prince, unlike his siblings Charlotte and Louis.
But when Kate was pregnant, Queen Elizabeth issued a letters patent giving the prince or princess title to any of William’s children.
This led to Megan arguing that her son “was not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be.”
Several of the queen’s grandchildren, including Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, could have been provided with royal titles when they were born, but their parents requested otherwise so that they could pursue normal lives.
So even though Queen Elizabeth decided to avoid extending the HRH title, it might be a silver lining for Megan and Prince Harry, given that they have since chosen to step back from royal duties altogether. 


Sydney man finds snake in lettuce bought at supermarket

Sydney man finds snake in lettuce bought at supermarket
Updated 16 April 2021

Sydney man finds snake in lettuce bought at supermarket

Sydney man finds snake in lettuce bought at supermarket
  • Alex White bought lettuce from ALDI supermarket Monday and bicycled home with salad and snake in his backpack
  • ALDI is investigating how a venomous pale-headed snake could have found its way into a supermarket

CANBERRA: Alex White thought he was watching a huge worm writhing in plastic-wrapped lettuce he’d just brought home from a Sydney supermarket — until a snake tongue flicked.
“I kind of completely freaked out when I saw this little tongue come out of its mouth and start flicking around and realized it was a snake because worms don’t have tongues,” White said on Thursday.
“I definitely kind of panicked a bit,” he added.
It was a venomous pale-headed snake that authorities say made an 870-kilometer (540-mile) journey to Sydney from a packing plant in the Australian city of Toowoomba wrapped in plastic with two heads of cos lettuce.
The refrigerated supermarket supply chain likely lulled the cold-blooded juvenile into a stupor until White bought the lettuce at an ALDI supermarket on Monday evening and rode his bicycle home with salad and snake in his backpack.
White and his partner Amelia Neate spotted the snake moving as soon as the lettuce was unpacked onto the kitchen table.
They also noticed the plastic wrapping was torn and that the snake could escape, so they quickly stuffed the reptile with the lettuce into a plastic food storage container.
White phoned the WIRES rescue organization and a snake handler took the snake away that night.
Before the handler arrived, White said WIRES had explained to him: “If you get bitten, you’ve got to go to hospital really quickly.”
ALDI is investigating how a snake could have found its way into a supermarket.
“We’ve worked with the customer and the team at WIRES to identify the snake’s natural habitat, which is certainly not an ALDI store!” the German-based supermarket chain said in a statement.
WIRES reptile coordinator Gary Pattinson said while the snake was less than 20 centimeters (8 inches) long, it was “as venomous as it will ever be.”
Pattinson is caring for the snake until it is returned to Queensland state next week, following the WIRES policy of returning rescued wildlife to where it comes from.
“It’s the first snake I’ve ever had in sealed, packed produce,” Pattinson said. “We get frogs in them all the time.”
Neate, a German immigrant, said her brush with a venomous snake in a Sydney kitchen was a setback in her efforts to assure relatives in Europe that Australia’s notoriously deadly Outback wildlife was nothing to worry about.
“For the last 10 years or so, I’ve told my family at home that Australia’s a really safe country,” Neate said.
“I’ve always said I’m just in the city; it’s totally fine here,” she added.


Kyrgyzstan pushes poisonous root as virus cure

Kyrgyzstan pushes poisonous root as virus cure
Updated 16 April 2021

Kyrgyzstan pushes poisonous root as virus cure

Kyrgyzstan pushes poisonous root as virus cure
  • Health Minister Alimkadyr Beishenaliyev took sips of the solution that contains extracts of aconite root in front of journalists as he talked up its healing properties
  • Alimkadyr Beishenaliyev: ‘You need to drink it hot, and in two or three days the positive PCR test result disappears and the person immediately becomes better’

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan is promoting a poisonous root as a safe treatment against the coronavirus as the country battles a new wave of infections despite health warnings.
The health ministry unveiled the remedy at a news conference on Friday, claiming the impoverished country’s leader has used the herb to cure “thousands” of sick inmates when he served jail time last year.
Health Minister Alimkadyr Beishenaliyev took sips of the solution that contains extracts of aconite root in front of journalists as he talked up its healing properties.
“There is no harm to health,” Beishenaliyev said after gulping the potion.
“You need to drink it hot, and in two or three days the positive PCR test result disappears and the person immediately becomes better.”
Aconite root is used in traditional medicine even though it is considered highly toxic.
The authorities have said that a third wave of Covid-19 cases is beginning in the Central Asian country of 6.5 million people, which suffered a difficult summer as the virus overwhelmed hospitals last year.
Ahead of the presentation, President Sadyr Japarov took to Facebook late Thursday, releasing a video that appeared to show the remedy being bottled by a team of men who were not wearing protective equipment.
The label on the bottles called the drink effective “against coronavirus and cancer of the stomach” but warned that drinking the solution without heating it up might result in death.
The World Health Organization on Thursday criticized the decision to promote the remedy.
“A drug that has not undergone clinical trials cannot be registered and recommended for widespread use by the population,” the WHO said.
Beishenaliyev claimed Japarov had successfully treated “thousands of prisoners” using the solution prior to being released from jail by protesters and catapulted to power during a political crisis last year.
Japarov is not the first leader to claim a herbal cure for the coronavirus.
In Turkmenistan, another Central Asian country, leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov hailed licorice root as a cure for the coronavirus, a disease he insists has yet to touch his isolated country of six million people.
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has promoted a locally-brewed infusion, based on the anti-malarial plant artemisia, to fight the virus.


SpaceX, NASA give ‘go’ for astronaut launch, 3rd for Dragon

SpaceX, NASA give ‘go’ for astronaut launch, 3rd for Dragon
Updated 16 April 2021

SpaceX, NASA give ‘go’ for astronaut launch, 3rd for Dragon

SpaceX, NASA give ‘go’ for astronaut launch, 3rd for Dragon
  • SpaceX has been shipping cargo to the space station since 2012, using the same kind of rocket and similar capsules, and recycling those parts as well

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: SpaceX is gearing up for its third astronaut launch in under a year, after getting the green light from NASA a week ahead of next Thursday’s planned flight.
Managers from NASA and Elon Musk’s space company Thursday cleared the Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule for a dawn liftoff with a crew of four to the International Space Station. They will spend six months at the orbiting lab, replacing another SpaceX crew that’s close to coming home.
This will be the first crew flight using a recycled Falcon and Dragon. Both were designed for reuse.
The rocket was used to launch the current station crew last November from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The capsule, dubbed Endeavour, also will be making a repeat performance; it carried two test pilots to the space station on SpaceX’s first crew flight last spring.
SpaceX refurbished both and added safety upgrades. Most of the capsule is already “flight proven,” company officials noted, except for some new valves, thermal protection covers and parachutes.
Kathy Lueders, head of NASA’s human exploration office, said it was “moving” to be on the verge of flying three SpaceX crew flights in 11 months.
“Looking back, it’s really, really amazing what both the SpaceX and NASA teams have accomplished,” she said.
SpaceX said it must resolve one issue before conducting a test firing at the launch pad this weekend. It appears the company has been loading more liquid oxygen into its first-stage boosters than anticipated, and engineers want to make “extra certain” that poses no safety risks, said Bill Gerstenmaier, a new SpaceX vice president who used to work for NASA.
Three of the astronauts are back for their second space station mission: NASA’s Shane Kimbrough, France’s Thomas Pesquet and Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide. NASA astronaut Megan McArthur was part of the final Hubble Space Telescope repair team in 2009.
For nearly a decade, the only route to the space station for astronauts was on Russian rockets. NASA turned to private companies for taxi service after the space shuttles retired in 2011. SpaceX has been shipping cargo to the space station since 2012, using the same kind of rocket and similar capsules, and recycling those parts as well.


Lebanon’s economic crisis takes Ramadan sweets off the table

Lebanon’s economic crisis takes Ramadan sweets off the table
Worker filing a plate of Ramadan sweets [Hadaf] for a client at El Karout Sweets, whose owner said production and profits went down due to economic crisis. (AN photo)
Updated 15 April 2021

Lebanon’s economic crisis takes Ramadan sweets off the table

Lebanon’s economic crisis takes Ramadan sweets off the table
  • Plunging currency value sends prices for traditional treats spiralling
  • Customers stay away from Beirut’s bakeries amid financial gloom

BEIRUT: Samir, a 10-year-old boy, excitedly accompanied his father into a sweet shop to buy Ramadan treats for iftar in Beirut.

Yet his excitement soon turned to disappointment after his father checked the prices and told him “we cannot afford kellaj today.”

A famous, traditional Ramadan sweet, kellaj are phyllo pastry sheets stuffed with cheese or cream, fried, dipped in sugar syrup and served after breaking fast at sunset.

Despite being an Iftar favorite, Lebanese have been left unable to afford the traditional sweets this year due to skyrocketing prices amid Lebanon’s economic disintegration.

Kellaj, along with other famous sweets like kunafa, shu’aybeyyat baklawa and qatayef usually decorate every home’s Ramadan table. This year, however, they are absent.

When asked why he looked sad outside the shop in Aiche Bakkar district on Tuesday, Samir said he was looking forward to having kellaj but his father would not buy any.

“I couldn’t earn much today,” Samir’s father, Ramez, a taxi driver, told Arab News. “I only bought four pieces of qatayef for my family.”

The father had promised his children kellaj, but the new price was 48,000 Lebanese pounds for 12. Qatayef were cheaper, so he bought four pieces for 10,000 Lebanese pounds.

The Lebanese currency has lost more than 85 percent of its value on the informal market since 2019.

The currency keeps hitting new lows against the dollar on the black market as Lebanon remains gripped by political deadlock and a worsening economic crisis.

Positioned at Beirut’s busy junction of Karakon Drouz, Al Shami Sweets’ manager Khaled Al-Imad told Arab News that sweet prices have “soared nearly 60 percent due to the dollar increase.”

Eventually that led to a “frightening plunge” in the number of clients by around 40-50 percent.

“We sold kellaj last year for 36,000 Lebanese pounds per dozen … this year we are selling it at 84,000,” Al-Imad said.

Al Shami’s staffer in charge of frying the kellaj said in past years he used to fry over 15 dozen per day. During this Ramadan, he just fries a few pieces every hour.

“The price of shu’aybeyyat has doubled from 30,000 pounds last Ramadan to 60,000 pounds this year,” Al-Imad said.

As he walked out of another small sweetshop, Beirut resident Mahmoud told Arab News: “Iftar tables look almost abandoned without traditional Ramadan sweets decorating them.”

A block away from Al Shami sits one of Mar Elias Street’s oldest sweetshops — Mekari and Sherkawi. Owner Ahmad Sherkawi said the demand for Ramadan sweets has declined dramatically this year.

“Our clients are only purchasing one piece per family member,” he said, as he plunged a dozen kellaj into the fryer. He estimated that the number of customers had dropped by 70 percent.

The steep rise in the dollar against the pound has forced Sherkawi, like many other sweetshop owners, to increase prices.

Sweet suppliers refuse to deliver the items except in exchange for dollar payments. But since banks were ordered not to allow dollar withdrawals, the currency is in short supply.

“Ramadan is a special occasion that families decorate their iftar meals with special sweets. We were expecting an increase in orders but unfortunately the demand wasn’t as high,” Sherkawi added.

Storekeeper and father of four Abu Mazen said he did not enter the sweetshop after reading the price list posted at the door.

“What a pity. My kids love kellaj and qatayef but I cannot afford it,” he said. “I will buy some cheaper cookies.”

Wissam Karout, owner of famous El-Karout Sweets in Zaydaneyye, said prices had tripled this Ramadan compared to last year.

“Our production went down and so did our profits,” he said.