Our Bloodstained Ramadan

Today marks the final day of Ramadan. I just broke my last fast, and by now I should have butterflies in my stomach. At this exact time, I should be setting an early alarm for tomorrow’s first Eid namaaz; I should be planning my outfit, carefully selecting pieces of jewelry to match; I should be wishing family and friends, sharing love and spreading happiness. I should be doing so much more than sitting here with a gaping hole in my heart.

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Traces of Blood

On the evening of Saturday October 24, President of the Pakistan Arts Council Ayesha Kamran welcomed guests to the USC Pacific Asia Museum, pondering over how she could introduce the celebrated panelists for Traces of Blood: Art and Activism in Pakistan Today.

The truth is, no introduction could possibly do artists Salima Hashmi and Imran Qureshi justice. Recognizing this, Kamran chose instead to quote writer and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel: “The opposite of art is not ugliness,” she recited. “It is indifference.”

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Moving Mountains

Samina Baig is four-feet-nine-inches tall. Mount Everest is 29,029 feet tall.

Yet at just 22-years-old, the unlikely mountaineer from the small, remote village of Shimshal in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, reached the top of the world’s highest mountain. The following year, she went on to ascend the Seven Summits, the highest peaks in seven different continents, in just eight short months.

But Samina’s story isn’t just about climbing mountains; it’s about moving mountains.

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Dharkan: The Heartbeat of a Nation

A heartbeat: The steady, strong pulsation of one’s heart; the beat which blood dances to — from the atria into the ventricles, from the ventricles to the pulmonary artery and aorta.

A heartbeat: The indicator of life.

While many of us have grown accustomed to associating “heartbeat” with just the rhythm of our hearts, photojournalist Mobeen Ansari has added new meaning to the term most commonly used to define the tune that our doctor’s stethoscope plays.

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Ireland Says Yes

On May 23, the Republic of Ireland became my new favorite country.

For the rest of the world, it set the precedent for coexistence and equality, becoming the first country in the world to amend its constitution in order to legalize same-sex marriages — and it did so by popular vote, as over 60 percent of the 2 million Irish voters voted in favor of the referendum.

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Baying for Blood: The CIA’s Drone Warfare

On May 7, American media boasted of a dead terrorist in Yemen: Nasr bin Ali al-Ansi, the purported mastermind of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen. Back home, the United States celebrated the counter insurgency tactic of using unmanned aerial vehicles to do the dirty work.

But does al-Ansi’s death put an end to terrorism? No.

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The Baltimore Crisis

Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man and resident of Baltimore, Maryland, was arrested by Baltimore Police for carrying what they alleged was a switchblade. After brutal treatment, including a “rough ride,” Gray died in police custody on April 19 from spinal cord injuries sustained while riding in the police van. His funeral was held on April 27, and civil unrest ensued thereafter, as protests quickly turned violent.

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