8-Year-Old Guatemalan Boy Dies in US Custody on Christmas Day

featured image courtesy of (Reuters/Eric Gay/Pool)

Officials reported this morning, that an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy has passed away while in custody of United States Customs and Border Protection.

The young boy was showing several signs of early illness on Christmas Eve after being previously detained with his father. On Monday afternoon the boy was treated at a hospital in New Mexico where he was prescribed ibuprofen and amoxicillin for what seemed to be a common cold. After being released, the boy returned with “nausea and vomiting” only to die a few hours later.

This event marks the second death of a migrant child following 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin who passed away December 8th 2018 in El Paso, TX. Jakelin’s body was recently returned to Raxruha, northern Guatemala.

This is a developing story, information will be added as time progresses.

Get To Know Representative Anna Eskamani

As mentioned within my previous article,  Anna Eskmanai an Iranian-American woman, and representative of the Democratic party was recently elected in Florida HD 47.  She has contributed to the betterment of her community tremendously and continues to serve as an inspiration and mentor to young activists around the nation.  Last week, I had the honor of interviewing Representative Anna Eskamani over the phone. Below you can find the interview questions and answers.
1. Was there any specific event that sparked your desire to engage in civic discourse to make a change within your community and the nation?

AE: “My mother passed away to cancer when I was 13 years old, this was a traumatic experience for me and my family, however, at that moment I knew I would honor the life of my mother through empowering others and giving back.  Aside from this, my engagement with politics began at a young age. I partook in theatre within high school, however, Mr. Norris my AP Government teacher got me back into the fold of the operational side of civics. I attended, and currently attend, UCF which initially got me involved in a series of environmental movements, and Iranian organizations. I have always been  rooted in a foundation of having a professional career with constant non-profit advocacy.”
2. Throughout the duration of your campaign, it became evident the opposing side attempted to mark your actions and standpoints on progressive issues as “radical” what was your response or mindset throughout all of this.

AE: “I constantly reminded myself that my very existence was radical, the idea of a young woman of color, running for office, raising over half a million dollars, knocking on thousands and thousands of doors… they – the opposing side – would go to any extreme in the attempt to hurt or scare us, I grounded myself in knowing who I am and knowing the issues I was fighting for. I find in most cases the candidate in fire avoids talking about backlash and it’s so typical,  it is a fear of difference, and it is inappropriate, so I wanted to lead by example and clap back letting them know we weren’t afraid.”
3. Are there any current affairs that are at the top of your priority list, what do you ultimately wish to see change within the United States?

AE: “ There are many different affairs I’d like to address ranging from improving conditions for the hard-working Florida families, working to improve public schools, protecting the environment, fighting for increased health care access (mental health and reproductive health), while ensuring gun safety and regulations.  These affairs were also the root of our campaign, focusing on the many crises present today.”
4. Do you have any advice for young activists specifically in regards to getting involved within current affairs?

AE: “ Any young person should look for organizations that match their passions and if they can’t find them, then they should start their own and bring people together, I also advise the youth to look for internship opportunities and mentors. I am honored to be a mentor to so many and always show up for others. I truly believe that good leaders create new leaders and I want to make sure I can cultivate strong advocates and leaders through supporting them in any way I can.”

5. You’ve mentioned within various interviews etc. that you are very proud of your Iranian American roots do you have a message to other Iranian American individuals living in fear of their roots?

AE: “This is such an important question, throughout the campaign we were always authentic about our culture and our identity, the best advice is to just be yourself and be proud of how amazing our identity is.  Take pride in sharing your culture with others and know that you are never alone.”

I wanted to end this article with a sincere thank you to Representative Eskamani for allowing me to interview her and taking the time to have a genuine conversation with me and so many others throughout this exciting time.  I look forward to supporting Ms. Eskamani throughout all her future endeavors and witnessing the change she works for in action.

You can learn more about Representative Anna Eskamani here.

Democrats Take The House… Meet Anna Eskamani Florida’s First Iranian-American Woman Elected Into State Legislature

Featured Image Courtesy of  Anna Eskamani

As midterm elections and results came to a close Tuesday night, the Democratic party was able take back control of House.  In a series of states including: Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Colorado, Democrats were able to win formerly Republican held seats securing the 218 necessary seats to regain their control.  In Florida, Anna Eskamani became the first Iranian-American woman to be elected the state’s legislature, earning nearly 14 additional points than her opponent Republican businessman Stockton Reeves.

Who is Anna Eskamani?

Image result for anna vs stockton
Anna Eskamani (left), Stockton Reeves (right)                          Image Courtesy of Orlando Rising

Ms. Eskamani is an, “Orlando native, and daughter of immigrants […] a progressive with a proven track record of standing up for the rights […] and championing economic opportunities for all”.  Anna received her education at the University of Central Florida focusing upon environmental issues while taking part in the Iranian Student Organization, Political Science Honor Society, alongside eventually serving as the State Women’s Caucus Chair.  She earned two bachelors in Women’s Studies alongside Political Science and continued into pursuing higher education receiving a dual Masters with graduate degrees in both Public Administration and Nonprofit Management.

Anna Eskamani (right).                                                                         Image Courtesy of Anna Eskamani

Politically, she has been involved in a series of progressive reform movements and her involvement in opposition of President Trump’s imposed travel ban has been significantly noted within many communities across the nation.  Aside from this, she notably stands up for a series of current issues impacting our nation as a whole. As time has progressed Anna has continued her work in civic engagement serving as the Senior Director for Planned Parenthood, while successfully campaigning against Republican Stockton Reeves during the Midterm elections.

Her campaign focused on a series of progressive reform concepts including reproductive justice,  environmental issues, alongside LGBTQ+ rights. Prior to the election, Ms. Eskamani was well known within her community for publicly speaking out against transphobia, and attending a series of women’s rights marches. Throughout the duration of her campaign it became evident that her progressive standpoints were able to reel in a series of voters from all generations providing her 57% of the vote in comparison to the 43% her opponent received.

Anna Eskamani pictured publicly speaking out regarding health care.                              Image Courtesy of Anna Eskamani

After becoming informed of her victory, in an email announcement she stated, “together we’ve made history, in not only challenging the status quo and flipping a competitive state house seat — but in also electing the first Iranian-American to any public office in Florida”.

We look forward to the great changes she will influence and advocate for as she continues to inspire younger generations of leaders within our communities.  

“We Won”                                                                                       Image Courtesy of Anna Eskamani 

 

Tragedy Averted… America, We Have an Issue.

Featured Image courtesy of CBS News

BREAKING NEWS:

Image result for santa fe high school
Santa Fe High School 5.18.18 – Photo Courtesy of Yahoo

May 18th 2018.  7:45 a.m: A shooter opened fire on students at Santa Fe High School today killing over 8 individuals and injuring many others.  

May 18th 2017.  7:45 a.m: A shooter opened fire on students at Santa Fe High School today KILLING OVER 8 individuals  and injuring many others.  

May 18th 2017

7:45 a.m

Shooter.

Santa Fe High School.

KILLING.

OVER 8.

Santa Fe Independent School District has confirmed via Facebook that there were injuries sustained in an active shooter situation which has recently been contained with two suspects identified. One in custody the other detained.  The district has not confirmed the fatalities however it was mentioned that there could be anywhere from 8-10 deceased.

 

BREAKING NEWS:

Image result for dixon high school
Dixon High School 5.16.18  – Photo Courtesy of ABC News

May 16th 2018.  Wednesday morning.  19-year-old former student used a 9mm semiautomatic rifle to open fire near the auditorium of Dixon High School in Illinois.  Mark Dallas shot and wounded the gunman. Tragedy averted.

May 16th 2018.  Wednesday morning.  19-year-old former student used a 9mm semiautomatic rifle to open fire near the auditorium of Dixon High School in Illinois.  Mark Dallas shot and wounded the gunman. Tragedy averted.

May 16th 2018.

Wednesday morning.

Former student used a 9mm semiautomatic rifle

Suspect Matthew Milby opened fire near a graduation ceremony rehearsal.  The suspect was quickly identified and chased by Mark Dallas, Dixon Police Officer.  Milby and Dallas exchanged fire at one another until Officer Dallas shot and wounded Matthew Milby, the 19-year-old former student in possession of a 9mm semiautomatic rifle.  

Tragedy averted…. or was it.  

 

Fatalities do not mark a tragedy.  

 

The gun culture in America is a tragedy in itself encompassing, “behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs about firearms and their usage”.  To obtain a firearm federal law requires an individual to be at least 21 to purchase a handgun, and only 18 to purchase a long gun. Specific states however have decided to bypass these federal laws and allow children as old as 15 to purchase a firearm with no parental consent.  Many individuals may argue these laws are harmless and the matter of the transactions are carefully monitored and professional. This is the root of the problem. Americans are addicted to their guns and they don’t want to face this fact.

 

Unfortunately many elected officials are not helping the cause. Understanding the extent of their political abilities, their continued inaction on the legislation that could potentially prevent these inhumane acts have only opened doors for more to occur.

Image result for gun control
Gun Control Debate – Photo Courtesy of The American View

Individuals are missing the mark, we need gun control.  Eradicating guns is unlikely, and unnecessary, we need to monitor and control the transaction, trade, and behavior of gun owners, sellers, buyers etc.  As a community we need to ensure that the background checks and mental examinations of individuals with possession of firearms are strengthened and religiously utilized.   

 

Understanding the mental stability of the individual plays a significant factor in the recently observed violence and damage,  the loosely followed laws and lack of frequent background/ update checks allow for these potentially mentally unstable individuals to obtain these firearms.  

 

While taking into mind that many mass shooters obtain their weapons through a family member or through legal purchase it is important that any individuals with firearms in their household or in an accessible place undergo examination or background checks, and that any suspicious behavior is documented and reported by friends and families.  The phrase, “If you see something, say something” cannot be stressed enough.  

Image result for background check gun
Background Check – Photo Courtesy of Dr. Deb

In comparison to other nations, the protocol to obtain firearms in the United States is seemingly inadequate.  Understanding no background check can truly identify the intended use of the firearms or the early warning signs of a potential mass shooter, psychological exams as proposed by Utah cops and lawmakers may prove extremely beneficial.  

 

Konrad Chen stated he thinks its a, “good idea to make sure that [gun owners] are sane and that they are capable mentally to handle firearms”  further Chen mentioned that if, “there were any signs of issues that they could go ahead and take care of that before issuing a firearm”. The conversation continued with Chen further stating that these psychological exams could also ensure that the prospective gun owner knows how to safely use the firearm.  

 

The issue lies in the fact that many gun owners are hesitant when approached with the idea that their ownership of a firearm may be jeopardized due to increased legal action ensuring the safety of all.  It is important for individuals to understand that increasing the security and monitoring of the transaction of firearms is imperative to ensure that firearms are being obtained by stable, and mentally capable individuals.  

 

It is our hope that individuals continue to take action and speak out against the lack of action taken in order to alleviate the pain and suffering the lack of gun control has caused.  We cannot afford to remain silent in the midst of the chaos present.

Image result for march for our lives
March For Our Lives – Photo Courtesy of CNN

 

“ If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”

– Desmond Tutu

Florida Shooting: What We Know

Nikolas Cruz, a 19 year old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School opened fire on students and faculty Wednesday afternoon killing 17, and wounding others.  Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High had a planned fire drill Wednesday morning, so when the second alarm blared through the speakers students were confused but didn’t think much of the situation.  It was not until they heard gunshot that students  began to frantically flee and barricade themselves desperate to stay alive.

Image result for nikolas cruz
Nikolas Cruz, 19, Time

Cruz had been previously expelled and recognized as a danger on school grounds by the schools administrators, his expulsion was a product of his violence presented towards his ex-girlfriends current boyfriend.   Recent statements from students attending Marjory Stoneman mention Cruz had a tendency to “obsessively stalk”  or “threaten” many females within the school.  Classmates had also mentioned Nikolas would make, “dark, gun-related jokes” joking about, “shooting people or shooting up establishments” (USA Today).  Many students were able to immediately identify their former classmate equipped with smoke grenades, an AR-15 style weapon, and a gas mask.

Image result for marjory stoneman douglas high
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Wikipedia

After arriving at the campus, Cruz entered buildings where he immediately opened chaotic fire shooting through windows, computer screens, ceilings etc.  Many students hid inside closets, bathroom stalls, and classrooms however others found themselves attempting to flee the campus in order to reach a safe ground.  Students remaining on campus witnessed bullets spraying through classrooms in no particular direction hitting their classmates, and shattering windows.  Students used their mobile phones, specifically Snapchat, to record these traumatizing moments, while others texted their friends and families what they thought was their final goodbye.

Image result for florida shooting
Students evacuating Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, France 24

Cruz had killed the majority of the victims on campus however did shoot and kill an individual down the street.  It was mentioned that Cruz did not remain on campus throughout the duration of the shootings, and was constantly, “on and off campus”.  Cruz was eventually identified and taken into custody by local law enforcement officers, and has since been charged with 17 counts of murder.

The moment Nikolas Cruz was taken into custody by local law enforcement after killing 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Fla. Wednesday. 
Nikolas Cruz being taken into custody by the law enforcement after brutally murdering 17, WPTV West Palm Beach

12 bodies were found on campus, one off campus, and others succumbed to their fatal injuries on the way to the hospital or at the hospital.  The known victims are as listed:

Image result for aaron feis
Aaron Feis, MassLive.com

Aaron Feis – Assistant football coach killed after throwing himself in front of  the spray of bullets to shield the students.

Image result for nicholas dworet
Nicholas Dworet, NY Daily News

Nicholas Dworet – Nicholas was a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, and a  swimmer recruited by the University of Indianapolis.

Image result for jaime guttenberg
Jaime Guttenberg, Sky News

Jaime Guttenberg – Jaime was among the 17 individuals who lost their lives in this inhumane tragedy.

Meadow Pollack was killed on February 14, 2018 when Nikolas Cruz, 19, shot and killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018.
Meadow Pollack, Facebook

Meadow Pollack – Meadow was among many who were thought to be missing until her father confirmed her passing this morning.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10211229977607668&set=gm.1801617480134672&type=3&theater
Gina Montalto, Facebook

Gina Montalto – Gina was a member of her school’s color guard team, and unfortunately succumbed to her injuries Wednesday night.

Luke Hoyer was killed by a gunman who shot and killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Luke Hoyer, Family Handout

Luke Hoyer – Luke was one among the 17 individuals shot and killed by Nikolas Cruz.

Martin Duque was killed when Nikolas Cruz Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018.
Martin Duque, GOFUNDME

Martin Duque – Martin, a freshman, was also a victim to the school shooting Wednesday.

Related image
Peter Wang, Facebook

Peter Wang – Peter, a freshman, was also a victim to the school shooting Wednesday.

 Joaquin Oliver's family are searching for the young man, saying he was at the school when the shooting started
Joaquin Oliver, Facebook

Joaquin Oliver – Joaquin’s passing was confirmed by his cousin Thursday morning.

Image result for cara loughran
Cara Loughran, Facebook

Cara Loughran – Cara’s passing was confirmed by a peer counselor at the church in which she attended.

Scott Beigel, Facebook

Scott Beigel – Mr.Beigel was a geography teacher at the school, aiding students in reaching safety however unfortunately being shot and killed during the process.

Alaina Petty, Facebook

Alaina Petty – Alaina was confirmed deceased by the Bishop of the Coral Springs Ward, alongside her great aunt Thursday morning.

Image result for alyssa alhadeff
Alyssa Alhadeff, Facebook

Alyssa Alhadeff – Alyssa’s death was confirmed by her soccer club Thursday morning via Facebook.

Image result for chris hixon florida
Chris Hixon, Facebook

Chris Hixon – Chris was an athletic director at the High School who fell upon the 17 victims of the shooting.

Image result for madeleine wilford
Madeleine Wilford, Facebook

Madeleine Wilford – Madeleine was among the victims of the school shooting Wednesday.

Our hearts and condolences go to the families of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Shooting.

*this is a developing story as updates become available they will be posted*

I Started Taking Yoga Every Day. How Did It Help Me?

featured image via : Popust Plus 

I Started Taking Yoga Every Day. How Did It Help Me?

For those of you familiar with Yoga, you may know there are many different types of Yoga you can take.  For those of you not familiar with these types of yoga, they include  but are  not limited to: Hatha ( a basic slower-moving yoga class), Vinyasa ( a dynamic practice linking breath and movement together ),  Bikram ( a heated yoga in which you typically practice the 26-pose Bikram sequence, definitely a more vigorous practice ), and Hot Yoga * my personal favorite* ( obviously a heated yoga practice which is similar to Bikram yet not restricted to the 26 Bikram sequence).

These practices are some of the most common or popularly practiced types of Yoga.  There are many more including, Kundalini, Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga etc.  This being said they all focus on different aspects of finding peace and focusing on your breath and bettering of your body.

After researching, and learning the many positive effects yoga can have on your body, and mental health I decided it was time I finally take action, and take my first yoga class.  Luckily, I am a flexible person, with 9 years of background it martial arts training I definitely have become extremely flexible which came to my advantage in my opinion.

Here is how my first three days went.

 

Day 1 :

The first thing I noticed when I walked into that heated room with my mother was the complete silence in the room.  It was intimidating I won’t lie, individuals of all ages stretching, in child’s pose, handstands. The only things going through my mind were, I hope they don’t expect me to be able to do that.  and If it stays this hot the whole time I think I might pass out.  

After 10 minutes of stretching, the class had started and I was excited.  I was attending a hot yoga ” Flow ” class with an AMAZING instructor.  She started us off with a little meditation, then had us go through many poses including: ” Downward Facing Dog” or Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit, Chair Pose or Utkatasana, Child’s Pose or Balasana, and Crescent Moon Pose or Ashta Chandrasana to name a few.

We ended our night with some more meditation and spent around 5 minutes completely stretching or meditation on our own.  Whichever we felt we needed most.

If I was to summarize my first real yoga class, I’d say it was the best idea I’ve had to take it.  I found myself completely in the moment, at peace, and just relaxed altogether.  As hesitant as I was I am so glad that I took this class.

 

Day 2:

I went to sleep after my yoga class last night, and I felt so at peace.  I woke up feeling great and well rested, and I was looking forward to taking my second class tonight!  I think it’s appropriate I mention, my mom is a yoga fanatic.  She attends yoga class regularly and now I finally understood first hand how beneficial and calming yoga really was.  She always tells me I’m missing out, and it’s super fun and let me tell you she was 100% correct.  I can not explain how much the first class of yoga benefited me.

I took a different class today, Warrior Sculpt in a heated room again with another AMAZING instructor.  Let me be honest with you. This class kicked my butt.  Yoga itself is not a walk in the park, try doing it with weights in 100+ degree weather.  It’s like a soothing yet painful slow death.  All jokes aside, this class was definitely not easy at all but I loved it.  With different workouts and poses to work different parts of your  body, I walked out of that class sweaty, sore, but super happy.  Definitely a class I will return to.

The only thing going through my mind when I went to sleep that night was : I feel great now, I hope I can still walk tomorrow. Might I say, I am attending a 5:00 AM Yoga class tomorrow for my mom’s birthday. Wish us luck.

 

Day 3

It is currently 4:30 AM and I am half asleep filling up both my mom’s and my water bottle.  We are going to heated ” Flow ” yoga at 5:00 AM, and I am super excited and super sore!  Might I add, none of my hoping worked and I am so sore that I can’t even sit down but I don’t mind!

We arrived at the gym, and I was surprised to see class was full with over 25 people!  I never thought anyone would wake up that early on their weekend to attend a yoga class, until I attended my first class.

We started off our class with some meditation, and light music and to my surprise I had accidentally walked into a Flow core session yoga.  5 AM core workout. Not my best idea.  After my mom and I pushed through our core workout, we got into a more mellow/ cool down part of class in which we stretched, and practiced basic yoga poses.

I was extremely happy with this class.  Regardless of the fact I had no clue I was about to get a core workout at 5 AM, this class honestly was a great way to start my day.  I walked out of it refreshed, and ready to take on whatever the day had in store for me.  My mom and I had so much fun taking that class together, and I look forward to continuing yoga with her.

 

Final Thoughts

I am so so happy with my decision to attend yoga classes every day.  This week, I noticed so many different positive changes in my lifestyle and mood.  I felt completely relaxed and at peace with myself and my surroundings.  The many different classes that I took really worked my body, but in such a great way.  No matter how sore I felt, I found myself waking up eager to attend class, and eager to take on the day.

Despite being hesitant to try yoga, and be surrounded by experienced yogi’s after my first class I really understood what everyone meant when they told me yoga is solely for myself.  I did not have to compete with anyone, or try any of the things anyone around me was doing.  I did everything I wanted, and everything I wanted to do.  Just like starting any sport, it takes time to grow and advance.

In this one week, I noticed my levels of anxiety significantly decreasing.  I learned to focus on my breathing and to live in the moment rather than stressing about what is to come.  Aside from this I also noticed I began to become less and less stressed about the little things that always seem to get me tense and stressed out.  Taking 1-2 hours of yoga a day significantly improved my days and feelings this week.

In conclusion, I can honestly  say I will continue to take 1-2 yoga classes every day with my mom, and strongly advise you guys to take yoga at least once or twice a week.  The effects it has on you overall are so rewarding, and you will be so content with the results.

Until next time,

Namaste.

renee lee

this is a submission by Renée Lee

**

we’re all dazed and delirious,

wrapped in a cloak of ignorant bliss

 

reckless nights drowning in the affections of a new infatuation

 

impulsive kisses and fervent touch,

rapturous in our ecstasy

 

intoxicated confessions speak an unvarnished truth of a simple minded state,

a declaration of revelations, sensitivities and vulnerabilities

 

in spite of this, we recover our delirium

surrendering to the ease of oblivion

 

adolescence captured in a reverie of endless euphoria

 

– Renée Lee