Last month, Donald Trump Jr. visited India to tout new Trump properties. Full page ads in India’s top papers announced, “Trump has arrived. Have you?” It wasn’t Trump Jr.’s first trip to India. “I’ve been coming to India for over a decade,” he said during his visit last month.
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1. Why is Ramadan called Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and lasts either 29 or 30 days, depending on when the new crescent moon is, or should be, visible.
The Arabic term Ramadan connotes intense heat. It seems that in pre-Islamic Arabia, Ramadan was the name of a scorching hot summer month. In the Islamic calendar, however, the timing of Ramadan varies from year to year. This year Ramadan begins in most places on April 13. An Islamic year is roughly 11 days shorter than a Gregorian year.
2. What is the significance of Ramadan?
Ramadan is a period of fasting and spiritual growth, and is one of the five “pillars of Islam." The others being the declaration of faith, daily prayer, alms-giving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca. Able-bodied Muslims are expected to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn to sunset each day of the month. Many practicing Muslims also perform additional prayers, especially at night, and attempt to recite the entire Qur'an. The prevailing belief among Muslims is that it was in the final 10 nights of Ramadan that the Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
3. What is the connection between soul and body that the observance of Ramadan seeks to explain?
The Qur'an states that fasting was prescribed for believers so that they may be conscious of God. By abstaining from things that people tend to take for granted (such as water), it is believed, one may be moved to reflect on the purpose of life and grow closer to the creator and sustainer of all existence. As such, engaging in wrongdoing effectively undermines the fast. Many Muslims also maintain that fasting allows them to get a feeling of poverty, and this may foster feelings of empathy.
4. Can Muslims skip fasting under certain conditions? If so, do they make up missed days?
All those who are physically limited (for example, because of an illness or old age) are exempt from the obligation to fast; the same is true for anyone who is traveling. Those who are able to do so are expected to make up the missed days at a later time. One could potentially make up all of the missed days in the month immediately following Ramadan, the month of Shawwal. Those unable to fast at all (if they are financially able) are expected to provide meals to the needy as an alternative course of action.
5. What is the significance of 29 or 30 days of fasting?
By fasting over an extended period of time, practicing Muslims aim to foster certain attitudes and values that they would be able to cultivate over the course of an entire year. Ramadan is often likened to a spiritual training camp.
Besides experiencing feelings of hunger and thirst, believers often have to deal with fatigue because of late-night prayers and predawn meals. This is especially true during the final 10 nights of the month. In addition to being the period in which the Qur'an was believed to have been first revealed, this is a time when divine rewards are believed to be multiplied. Many Muslims will offer additional prayers during this period.
6. Do Muslims celebrate the completion of Ramadan?
The end of Ramadan marks the beginning of one of two major Islamic holidays Eid al-Fitr, the “festival of the breaking of the fast." On this day, many Muslims attend a religious service, visit relatives and friends, and exchange gifts.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 22, 2017
Profits soared in the first quarter at three US banking giants thanks to an improving macroeconomic backdrop that has reduced the need to set aside funds for bad loans.
JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo each notched earnings at least four times higher than the same three-month period of 2020, boosted in part by releasing funds that had been held in reserve in anticipation of a big pandemic downturn.
JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs also had a blowout quarter in Wall Street trading and due to deals connected to companies going public.
Bank CEOs offered a heady outlook on the expected boom-like conditions in the coming months, but cautioned that there were challenges ahead as pent-up demand for goods, services and experiences drives activity.
"We think we're going to have very robust economic growth in the second half of 2021 and into 2022," Goldman Sachs Chief Executive David Solomon said on a conference call with analysts.
The downside of that scenario is the chance for a big jump in inflation that prompts aggressive moves by the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary supply, Solomon said.
That outcome is "not obvious in the near-term," Solomon said. "But it's a risk issue markets will have to continue to watch."
Anemic loan growth
At JPMorgan Chase, earnings came in at $14.3 billion, about five times the level from the prior year. The result included $5.2 billion from releases of funds set aside earlier in the pandemic due to fears of bad loans.
Revenues of $33.2 billion were up 14 percent.
JPMorgan, the largest US bank by assets, turned in an especially strong performance in corporate and investment banking, thanks to gains in advisory fees and a big increase in commissions tied to trading in financial markets.
In consumer banking, JPMorgan pointed to a return in consumer spending to pre-pandemic levels. Home lending originations were strong, but the bank expects this area to cool with higher interest rates.
But JPMorgan executives acknowledged anemic activity in many areas of lending, attributing the trend to a flood of government support programs that have lessened the need for households and businesses to turn to banks.
JPMorgan's credit card loans fell 14 percent compared to the year-ago period and wholesale loans also dropped.
"What happened is the consumer has so much money, they're paying down their credit card loan, which is good," JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said on a conference call with reporters.
"That's not the same as when the economy's weak on the business side."
Dimon said companies have also taken advantage of loose monetary conditions to build excess cash on their balance sheet.
"This is not bad news about loan demand," Dimon said. "This is actually good news."
Trading revenues soar
At Goldman, profits jumped to $6.8 billion, more than five times the earnings in the year-ago period, while revenues more than doubled to $17.7 billion -- both setting quarterly records.
The results included a boost of $70 million in reduced provisions for credit losses.
Goldman cited robust public stock offerings and a heavy slate of merger and acquisition activity as drivers of the strong performance in investment banking.
Goldman also scored higher fees tied to underwriting for clients raising equity and debt.
The New York bank garnered a 47 percent rise in global markets revenues from the year-ago period to $7.6 billion, the highest since 2010.
At Wells Fargo, which has a much smaller investment banking business compared with JPMorgan and Goldman, profits soared to $4.7 billion, more than seven times the level a year ago. Revenues rose 2.0 percent to $18.1 billion.
Wells Fargo's results included a boost of $1.6 billion in reduced provisions for credit losses.
Wells Fargo Chief Executive Charlie Scharf said the improving economy enabled the bank to suffer historically low charge-offs, although "low interest rates and tepid loan demand continued to be a headwind for us in the quarter," he said in a news release.
Shares of Goldman Sachs rose 2.3 percent to end at $335.35 and Wells Fargo jumped 5.5 percent to $41.99. But JPMorgan fell 1.9 percent to $151.21.
GOP lawmaker slammed in Washington Post for parroting Tucker Carlson's racist 'replacement' conspiracy theory
On Wednesday, writing for The Washington Post, columnist Philip Bump ripped into Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) for echoing the white supremacist "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory promoted by Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.
"A subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee was meeting to examine the root causes of migration from Central American countries that make up a disproportionate portion of migrants seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The State Department's envoy to the region, Ricardo Zúniga, was offering testimony on the subject when Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) was given the floor," wrote Bump. "'For many Americans,' Perry began, 'what seems to be happening or what they believe right now is happening is, what appears to them is we're replacing national-born American — native-born Americans to permanently transform the landscape of this very nation.'"
The idea that immigration policies are "replacing" white people is an explicitly white supremacist idea, and Carlson's promotion of it has emboldened explicit white nationalist organizations.
"It's important to note how and where Perry picked up the Carlson line of attack. He simply throws it out with a 'people are saying' indifference, as though it is not the subject of intense national controversy after being articulated by one of the most-watched cable-news shows in the country," wrote Bump. "But the effect was to inject into a discussion of the causes undergirding the migration increase a claim that 'we' are replacing 'native-born Americans' to 'transform' the country. Perry argued that Biden policies were spurring the aforementioned migration — implying that Biden was part of the 'we' seeking to do that replacement. To which, of course, Carlson would offer vigorous nodding."
"To casually reinforce Carlson's rhetoric, for whatever reason, in a hearing focused on actually elucidating the causes of migration from the region is jarring. It replaces the sort of considered study of a complex subject that is ostensibly the point of such gatherings with false, toxic rhetoric. It's part of the now-common prioritization of talking points over policy that is a feature of the House," wrote Bump. "But it is also a reminder that the effort to cast immigrants as dangerous invaders aided by cynical leftist politicians may have started with self-identified white nationalists but it isn't stopping at Carlson. It's progressing to others in the conservative media and, now, to the House of Representatives."
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