The Lone Star Crescent, July 2008
P. 03 The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
PLANO MASJID CONTINUES WITH INTERFAITH IFTAR PROGRAM Photos & Report by A. Basit Siddiqui (PLANO MASJID, TX) Continuing the tradition of community outreach, Plano Masjid invited local officials and elected members for iftar during ramadan in September. This was another successful event organized by Islamic Association of Collin County (IACC) sisters committee headed by Sr. Roshan Gaziani and Sr. Ferzana Mir. Guests included the mayor of Plano, Pat Evans, City Council members, Pat Miner, Lee Dunlap, Police chief, Greg Rushin and
the Fire chief, School Board members Skip Jenkins & Missy Bender. In addition many other city officials as well as other school administration and other dignitaries also attended this event. Imam Shaikh Yaseen gave an inspiring speech about the importance of Ramadan, Manzur Mahmud, IACC board president welcomed the dignitaries and sister Reem Elghonimi gave an informative presentation about Islamic civilization. the mayor thanked the community for the invitation and for staying involved.
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER WANTED Muslim community’s local paper, The Lone Star Crescent is seeking independent advertising sales manager in the Greater Dallas area. The candidate is responsible for acquiring new business account and advertisements for the paper and promote display and retail advertising. Job duties include sales to new accounts, managing current clients, up-sell and cross-sell our marketing services. Ideal candidate should be familiar with the market and this region. He/ She MUST have previous experience in outside sales and client account management. An understanding of media and advertising is required. Compensation is based on generous commission plus performance bonus. Candidate is required to work from home, but expected to meet sales quota monthly. If you are qualified for the job, apply in confidence by emailing your resume to info@myCrescent.com. Write “ad sales manager” in the subject line. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
Irving Masjid Brings Spirit of Ramadan to City Officials (IRVING MASJID, TX) CAIR-DFW and North TX Islamic Council (NTIC) hosted an iftar for city officials and political candidates at the most vibrant Islamic center in the area, Irving Masjid. Some of the speakers include Imam Zia Sheikh, Mustafaa Carroll, Imam Yusuf Kavakci and keynote speaker Craig Watkins, Dallas County District Attorney. The speakers stressed the need for better understanding between local Muslims and officials. Speakes encouraged Irving and neighboring community Muslims to engage more in making the city a better place for all residents. CAIR and NTIC presented a service recognition award to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins.
(Video Highlights of the program Online at www. myCrescent.com)
The Lone Star Crescent, August 2008
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
IQA Richardson Students Shine at the ISNA Hifz Competition
Islamic Convention When: Wednesday, October 29th 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Where: At Ameen People Montessori (APM) 614 Hiett Avenue Arlington, Texas 76010 817-543-2630 Topics: Various Islamic Topics
Speakers: APM students
(This convention is unique because of the way it is run. The entire program from the research, to the presentations, to the organization of the event is structured by the students of APM in grades 2nd -6th) Baby Sitting will be provided by APM students. Donations towards the APM student council will be accepted for baby sitting care.
AMINA AZIZ, 3rd Grade 3RD place: 5 juz category
SANA YOUSUF, 4th Grade 1ST place: 5 juz category
AMIR AZIZ, 6th Grade 2ND place: 5 juz category
ZAINAB YOONAS, 8th Grade 3RD place: 15 juz category
AMEENAH YOONAS, 10th grade 1ST place: 30 juz category
TAHIR AZIZ, 7th grade 2ND place: 30 juz category
9:00-9:15: Sign in and Register 9:15-9:45: Presentations and Lectures 9:45-10:15: Half time break, Snacks will be served in the school’s cafeteria 10:20-11:00: Presentations and Lectures Tickets: Sold at the door for (0.50) Donations Accepted for APM’s student council funds.
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
FOUNDATION DEDICATES ITSELF TO EDUCATION jority of Islamic schools do not meet the basic factors that drive quality. Proper infrastructure such as quality of facilities, student teacher ratio and industry standard compensation for the staff is a must to run an efficient school. IQAF plans to establish institutions where Islamic knowledge, Hifz and traditional curriculum are taught in an excellent environment and is run by a progressive management.
(RICHARDSON, TX) About 100 people gathered at Fun Asia in support of Richardson-based IQA Foundation (IQAF). The organization was formed at Islamic Association Of North TX (IANT) last year, to exclusively focus on education and proper school management.
IQAF aims to provide the best quality school environment for Muslim children in the region. “All schools should operate with good governance,” said Dr. Pervez Aziz while
“We must stop finding hundreds and hundreds of excuses, but start producing scholars”, insisted Imam Yusuf Zia Kavakci during his address at the IQAF fundraiser. He said that our schools should offer opportunities for teachers “in a dignified way”. Imam Kavakci congratulated the organizers of IQAF on their mission and efforts. “I am very proud to see our brothers and sisters very active in this work here”. Guest speaker Mathew Moes stressed the im-
portance of a proper infrastructure to operate a professional and quality Muslim school. Keynote speaker and IQA student Maaz Inaam asked the audience, “why the quality at our school is decreasing?” He pointed out that students of Islamic schools such as IQA will need support and guidance after graduation. Therefore, the community must build quality institutions. “Be among the people who build such institutions,” said Radwan Al-Barraq while raising funds for IQAF. “Think big,” he reminded the audience. “We want quality ulema who understand this environment”. IQAF raised over $100,000 in its first fundraiser.
introducing IQAF. He pointed out that ma-
(Follow up on IQAF programs and mission coming in January 2009 inshaAllah)
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
After months of campaigning, the election is finally upon us. This may be a bad news for the media that lived on over analysis of every meaningless matter. Surely, they will find something else soon! Alhamdulillah, we have an opportunity to participate in the political process and make things happen. Over the past few years, the United States has suffered deeply in all major aspects such as economy, healthcare, foreign relations and employment. “The past eight years have been like watching a TV makeover show in reverse. We entered the Bush era a ravishing beauty attracting envious stares. We leave it a gum-smacking sad sack with split ends and an empty social calendar. Over the course of George W. Bush’s second term, in particular, the images of our country have not just been unattractive but virtually apocalyptic: a major city destroyed; cars raining into the Mississippi from a crumbling bridge; swaths of exurbia dotted with foreclosed homes; a financial system in ruins; angry emotionalism flooding politics”, writes The New Republic (TNR.com). The U.S. brand once the envy of the world is losing its credibility at an alarming rate. The policies of the past few years have consistently failed the nation. The country is not in a position to re-try same old policies under a McCain-Palin administration. It is time to introduce new ideas.
“The U.S. is in want of leadership that repairs a damaged economy, restores faith in government as an engine for the common good and returns competence to the White House after the spectacular failures of the Bush administration”. -NY Daily News “The need for a fresh start in America has grown markedly in the two years of this presidential campaign, and became imperative as the crippled financial system punishes workers, families and retirees in the country”, writes the NY Daily News. “The U.S. is in want of leadership that repairs a damaged economy, restores faith in government as an engine for the common good and returns competence to the White House after the spectacular failures of the Bush administration”.
“The Times without hesitation endorses Barack Obama for President.” -LA Times “We need a leader who demonstrates thoughtful calm and grace under pressure, one not prone to volatile gesture or capricious pronouncement. We need a leader well-grounded in the intellectual and legal foundations of American freedom”, writes
WHO WILL SERVE BETTER?
The Los Angeles Times in an editorial endorsing Senator Obama. “Yet we ask that the same person also possess the spark and passion to inspire the best within us: creativity, generosity and a fierce defense of justice and liberty. The Times without hesitation endorses Barack Obama for president.” So what sets them apart? Some people tend to focus on policy details of the candidates. They look for exact figures and timelines that candidates offer. Although looking into details is critical, it is not the best approach when choosing a president. It may serve the purpose for school board or local city council election. In a national election, candidate’s macro-management philosophy matters a lot more. The elected president will bring what Republicans call “trickle down” values of service into the bureaucracy that runs our states and cities. If the philosophy of the administration is more control and less service for the people, it will show up in our cities and towns.
When asked about healthcare during the 2nd debate, John McCain said that it is a responsibility. In plain English, if you can’t afford your healthcare, you are toast! It is the stark difference in philosophy that sets the current presidential candidates apart. When asked about healthcare during the 2nd debate, John McCain said that it is a responsibility. In plain English, if you can’t afford your healthcare, you are toast! Barack Obama believes that it is a right. McCain is still relying on hopes of economic prosperity trickling down somehow. Obama has taken a position of supporting the backbone of the society; small businesses and the middle class. McCain plans to continue “I-will-not-talk-to-you” foreign policies, whereas Obama is offering dialogue and mutual understanding. McCain aims to continue free trade policies that caused production to plunge and drop in employee compensation. Obama understands that trade should be fair where rights of American workers are protected. McCain’s small government approach means that administration’s job is to curtail basic rights and civil rights, but whenever a service is needed you are on your own. Obama strongly believes in a system that serves the economic, healthcare, security and overall well being of common people. The Powell endorsement Collin Powell, a Republican, strongly believes that Obama’s approach is better in moving the country forward. “He knows, as we do, that this is a moment where we need
to come together as one nation - young and old, rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Republican and Democrat,” said Powell talking to NBC’s Meet The Press. “In the case of Mr. McCain... you got the sense that he didn’t have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had.”
Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is ‘No’, that’s not America.” Powell added that he is deeply dis-
turbed at the tone of McCain campaign. “I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the Party say... such things as ‘Well, you know that Mr Obama is a Muslim’. Well the correct answer is, ‘He’s not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian’. But the really right answer is, “What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is ‘No’, that’s not America.” “I think he (Barack Obama) would be a transformational president,” Powell said. An Obama victory would “not just electrify our country, it would electrify the world”, he added. After getting into the office, most of the candidates are not able to achieve everything they promised during the campaign. However, they set a direction for the country. Barack Obama brings a new commonsense approach towards tackling the crises we face today. McCain seems to believe that if we stay on course with current policies, some day we will get there. American Muslims must participate in the process to bring positive change in the country. Imam Zia Sheikh recently reminded us that voting is a time to testify (shahadah) and a responsibility of every eligible voter. The Lone Star Crescent recommends that you vote for Obama who is clearly the better candidate. Article by HazratAmin
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
THINKING CANADA? (Special Sponsor Section)
Canada Employment Immigration By Jimmy Sturo Both the birth and death rates in Canada are on the decline. As a result, the young and skilled population is in short supply. To offset this situation, the government of Canada has loosened its immigration policy to allow immigrants from other countries to settle in Canada and work for its growth and prosperity. The Canadian government encourages skilled and self-employed persons, investors, businessmen, entrepreneurs and farmers to permanently settle in Canada to boost its economy. Among the categories of immigrants who are welcome to seek employment in Canada, the skilled workers with good qualifications and plenty of experience are the most welcome. Several types of pro-
grams are available for skilled persons. The Canadian government has laid down six criteria for which you or your spouse must earn sufficient points in order to be considered eligible for immigration. Skilled and educated persons should have knowledge of English or French. They should have work experience of at least 10 years, including one year’s worth of full-time paid work in their field. The Canadian National Occupational Classification has set up certain Skill Types and Skill Levels to classify skilled workers. To qualify for immigration, the applicant must be in Skill Type 0 or Skill Level A or B. Besides the skills, you should also possess sufficient funds to settle and man-
age your business. You should also be able to transfer your skills to others and at the same time generate jobs. The government of Canada is ready to offer employment chances to about 116,000 in various categories of skilled persons, entrepreneurs and self-employed persons in the year 2005-2006. Besides the employment immigration offered by the government of Canada, the provincial government of Quebec also offers immigration for employment under its Quebec Immigration Service, which it shares with the government of Canada. A person with the right qualifications and experience with no health and security problems may be
considered for employment. In addition to the above categories, there is a Federal Self-Employed Program in cultural activities and athletics, which offers employment immigration to world-class athletes and participants in cultural programs. Farmers with sufficient funds and experience in farm management are also eligible in this category. Canada Immigration (www.e-canadaimmigration. com) provides detailed information on Canadian Immigration, Canada Immigration Visas, Canada Immigration Lawyers, Canada Employment Immigration and more. Canada Immigration is affiliated with Canadian Immigration (www.z-immigration. com).
Canadian Experience Class - The New Hope By Iqra Khalid Canada Immigration has introduced a new class of immigration in the 2007 budget. This new class of immigration, known as the Canadian experience class is to be implemented this year. With over 240,000 new immigrants expected this year, Minister Finley, the Immigration minister of Canada, ensures us that “Canada continues to grow and benefit from all that newcomers and their families bring to our country.” (CIC) This class of Canadian immigration will accept applications from international students studying in Canada and temporary workers employed in Canada who have relevant Canadian experience. The one main benefit of this class of immigration is that the person is allowed to apply for permanent residency from within Canada. A person who will become a permanent resident under this class of Canada immigration will have no trouble getting jobs in Canada or adjusting to Canadian life because they are already part of the community here. Citizenship and Immigration states that the Canadian Experience Class should add to other initiatives set up to address labour market needs and to help in the integration of newcomers to Canada (CIC). One such initiative was the Foreign Credentials Referral program set up to help immigrants under the skilled worker class find relevant jobs in their fields of expertise. This program provides assessments of credentials for skilled workers. Unfortunately, such programs are so inaccessible and inadequate that skilled workers are unsuccessful in their pursuit of a successful life in Canada. Many end up doing general labour way below their expertise.
The main problem that these initiatives fail to address is the lack of opportunity to gain Canadian experience. Most employers only consider candidates who have relevant Canadian experience. Getting your credentials assessed does not ensure a job. When applying for a job in their field, employers look for the experience to back up the education. When applying for jobs below their skill level, employers disregard the resume on the basis that the candidate is over-qualified for the job. Skilled workers struggle for years on end to get a little bit closer to the position they left in their home countries when immigrating to Canada. The Canadian Experience class ensures that the person seeking permanent residency is well-equipped with Canadian education and/or relevant work experience. This class of Canadian immigration is by far the most positive class of immigration that ensures the prospective immigrant’s success in Canadian life. Other programs, such as the skilled worker class of immigration, where they look great on paper, are not practical. More info on www.immigroup.com
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
What is an Economic Recession? By Simon Tan In most countries, it is normally defined as a technical recession when there are 2 consecutive of negative growth in terms of their GDP. Such situation will causes a lot of panic as the entire economy slows down. There are always sign of such event before it even gets started. Consumers spending will drops, employment rate in the country decline and industrial manufacturing production drop and there will be more volatility in the stock market. Historically, an economic recession will normally last for a period of about 1 to 2 years as cited by a lot of expert.
Nobody wants to face a recession. It is because people fear of losing their jobs, stock market crashes, people go bankruptcy and so much more can happen. However, this is something nobody can avoid it and must learn how to face it. So what actually is considering as an economic recession?
Why Can’t the Government Stop Recession? Recession period causes a lot of stress to the people and most people will the finger to the government. However, it is important to know that recession is deflationary in nature and if the government tries to rescue the economy, they would have to pump in a lot of money to improve liquidity. Such move will cause an after effect of increase inflation which will possibly lead to stagflation. That is why most government is always very cautious in this move whether to increase liquidity to the economy and reduce increase rate. How Economic Recession Normally Get Started?
It is a fact that the rich will always get riches while the poor gets poorer. When the rich sees an opportunity, they will know how to speculate the market as though it is a great way to make money. After a while, the rest of the population will follows and started to make some quick money. The combination effect of all the poor and middle income people make the entire market so huge and nobody will ever think of supply and demand. Economic bubbles will soon explode and it will be fierce and fast. However, the rich would be smart enough to exit way before such bubbles occur. So it is the majority of the population who will suffer and the governments are force to step in to clean up the mess. Phases Of An Economic Recession There are always few phases an economic recession has to go through, that is the period of slowdown, recession, recovery and than expansion again. Usually the period of recovery and expansion will last much longer than the period of slowdown and recession. Most people like to chase after money during the period of expansion, when the market is very hot and this is a sure loose strategy. Most people will never learn that they should position their investing during recession period where everything is at their cheapest. How to Rescue a Recession Lowering interest rates is the most common measures the government will take to help stimulate the economy. As mention earlier, the government will be very cautious in such move as this will cause inflation which will further dampen the spending from the consumer. It will normally implement over a period of times when situation forces them to do so. There are however times when the bubbles are so big that such recession lasted for a prolong period of times like the one happens on thirties. This will make the whole economies to go into depression which is the worst things that can happen. Conclusion So, please bear in mind that making money from the stock market is very possible but do not just chase after the market. You need to study the situation very carefully and the strategy of buying low selling high will always work. You need to have a long term vision and do not speculate. If you know the cycle of accumulating your cash during good times, start buying in during recession, hold and sell at good times and accumulating cash again ...etc You will soon be the next wealthy man like those gurus. Remember, we will only face such cycles a few times over our lifetime and you must take opportunities of it.
The author is an Online business Coach & Entrepreneur. Online at http://recession-survival.wealthdreamer.com.
Causes of Economic Recession By David Cornish For those who are unclear what a recession actually is, I will do my best to quickly clarify it. A recession is a contraction phase of the business cycle. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defines it as a “significant decline in economic activity spread across the country, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.” But what are the causes of economic depression? This definition looks scary, and rightfully so. Almost every facet of our lives as consumers is affected by a recession. Basic essentials like food and housing become (and are becoming) more difficult to obtain as prices sky-rocket and fear escalates. One of the most important causes of economic recession is unrestrained capitalism. We are paying our dues for years of overproduction and rampant greed. The golden age of capitalism in the seventies and eighties is now finally taking its toll on our economy. Another one of the important causes of economic recession is falling demand for goods and services. It’s not hard to understand that if we produce more than we are consuming. the demand for the excess production just won’t be there, and we have a waste of resources. There is a free electronic book that has just been published by an economist who has been carefully studying the current economic crisis. The information presented in the book can help anyone, regardless of what your present circumstances may be. I highly suggest you check it out by following the link below. If you would like to look at this free electronic book (e-book) pertaining to the present recession and possible depression, check out http://economicrecessioninfo.blogspot.com. It answers some common questions people have regarding the causes of economic depression and it also explains steps you can take to protect your income or even increase it.
more opinion articles online www myCrescent com www.myCrescent.com
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
RISD First in Nation to Implement New AntiBullying Program By Tim Clark
A little common courtesy and social development goes a long way for elementary students in Richardson ISD. Imagine seven year olds from all ethnicities, economic and social backgrounds greeting each other warmly, working cooperatively on tasks, and expressing real gratitude to each other along with other kind words. This is how a new anti-bullying program called RTime works, and RISD is the first district in the U.S. to implement the program, which has been used in England since 2002 with impressive results. RTime was introduced at three pilot campuses in RISD during the first week of classes, Bukhair, Mohawk and Springridge Elementary Schools. Using just 15 minutes of class time each week, RTime seeks to teach social behavior and skills to students from Kindergarten through 6th-grade. The lessons learned are then reinforced by teachers and administrators throughout the week. “This is the most impressive antibullying program I’ve ever seen, said RISD Director of Student Assistance Programs Jill Darling. “Starting from their first day at school, students learn to see their peers as people, get a chance to work one on one with them, learn about them, and form the foundation for friendship. The lessons learned through RTime are consistently reinforced throughout the year, at every level, to the point that a culture of mutual respect and understanding pervades the campus. It’s extraordinary.” During RTime, students are randomly paired, and work with a different partner for each lesson. Eventually, every student works with one other, allowing them to meet
and work with other students they might otherwise never have a chance to. The children introduce themselves to their partners with positive greetings, and then work together on an age-appropriate activity. The next step involves the children coming together as a group to share their experiences and provide feedback to each other and their teacher. Finally, the children thank their partners and end their time together by saying something positive about their partner that they learned during the experience. This past spring, Ms. Darling was able to see the program in action in England, and knew it was something that could greatly benefit RISD. “I saw entire campuses that had been transformed by RTime into places where every student respected themselves and others, which allowed the focus to be on learning and achievement, not social pressures.” A week before the start of school, Darling led a day-long training session for the more than 130 teachers and administrators at the three campuses, and the program was met with instant enthusiasm and discussions of how to adapt the components into various situations and activities. “One of the exciting aspects of RTime is it has no academic bias, so it’s accessible to students of all ages and abilities,” said Springridge principal Charis Hunt. “It is already having an impact at our campus.” RISD is already seeing RTime yield positive results, and is tentatively planning to expand the program to additional campuses next year. While RTime is an acronym for Relationships To Improve Education, some RISD students already have a different name for their weekly sessions: “Our Time.”
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
Rising College Fee Worries Parents By Mushtaq A. Ahmed Not every parent is blessed with gifted and talented child, capable of earning good grades and scholarships. Those few “gifted and talented children” comprise less than 2% of high-school students throughout the U.S. These kids get preferential treatment in college admissions, based on GPA. They have privilege of choosing college of their preference. These students are also smart and decide their career even before reaching high school. Most such students earn laurels at High-School and pave their way happily through college at Uncle Sam’s expense. But, stories abound of mediocre students’ parents trying to find ways to pay for rising cost of high college fees. It is not uncommon to find parents within your neighborhood, friends, or relatives often digging from their life-long savings, borrowing, or scrambling for ways to pay for sending a kid to college. Sarah was mad “I can’t believe I’m getting nailed this bad. It seems I’m supporting the entire university myself”. Once again she had to write a big check for her son’s tuition. Third year in college - her child, she had been told by the college financial aid officer that, “There was nothing you can do about it. You know that we’re doing all we can to help you.” Somehow, Sarah knew that the financial aid officer at her child’s college had to be working against her. “She must be. Why else would she be so willing to roll over and play dead for the university?” As Sarah finished subtracting the amount of check to the school from her check book, she was staring at a pile of un-
read newspapers on the coffee table. There was a headline on yesterday’s newspaper that said, “College costs Rising At An Average of 7.8% Per Year. Many Parents are Worried!” Sarah started to get hyper. She read the article and got even worse. The reported explained how the rise in college costs will have to be shouldered by new students and their parents. The story went on to say that while higher fees and tuition were inevitable, there were still many loopholes and strategies to legally reduce the amount of money any student or parent would be required to pay out of their own pockets. And that most parents of college bound students never used even a small percentage of these secrets to colleges preferred, people didn’t know. “If people only knew how many ways there are to reduce their out of pocket costs, they wouldn’t be complaining so loudly!” the article ended. Sarah had enough. “I’m going to fight back legally! I’ll never again be so naïve!” She knew that starting tomorrow she was going to stop worrying and take action. Most parents of college-bound children might be wondering - why cost of college in U.S. is so ridiculously expensive? How is an average middle-income family supposed to pay for all that? If one is lucky to have made some savings for their child’s education, it’s sometimes hard to part with their life-time savings. The next options borrow, apply for scholarship, send my child to a lesser school; or lastly – not send a child to college at all. It is expensive no matter where you
go. Not just tuition, college expenses include cost of books, laptop, room and board, living expenses, ever-expanding cost of gas, insurance, etc. Taking into account most of these expenses, sending a child for a 4-year college – cost range anywhere from $ 69,960 to $ 143,440 - or even more, depending upon which college you choose. Multiply that by number of kids. Each year cost of college increase faster than inflation rates – and parents are burdened with this cost. Per 2008/09 academic year, total cost of college throughout U.S. amounts to $ 258 billion. Of this $ 169 Billion (65.5%) is available as student aid in different forms and sources. Remaining $ 89 Billion (34.5%) is parent / student contribution. Student aid is available in different forms starting from Uncle Sam’s Federal Government aid in the form of grants, aids, loans, college work/study loans, etc. Next is the State Government which has special programs for in-state residents, teachers, healthcare professionals, minorities, etc. Colleges and Universities have endowment funds,
which is outside of federal and state funds. A small percentage of aid is available from private scholarship services. Parents and/or student maybe wondering how and where to get their fair share of student aid from $ 169 Billion? How do they determine if I’m eligible for aid? Filling out FAFSA, completing CSS/Profile, college registration forms, writing essays, providing home equity, detailed explanation of income and expenses, etc. Not easy to understand either for a high-school student or parent. End result - each year, billions of dollars or a large percentage available in financial aid goes un-used due to errors or inconsistencies in filling out various application forms. If any form is done wrong or is inconsistent with procedures, it usually gets bumped from computer system – as millions of applications need to be scanned and approved in a limited amount of time. When applicants make complaints, it usually takes 4 – 6 weeks delay in the process which often results in lost financial aid. With proper planning, timing, and co-ordination between parents/students, one can get their fair share from billions of unused dollars available in financial aid, if one has time and expertise. This reduces parents’ burden, saving thousands of dollars in outof-pocket expenses for sending a child to college and making college fee more affordable.
Understanding How the 529 Savings Plan Works By Louis Zhang Although most governments have made higher education immensely more affordable than it once was, it still remains beyond the reach of many people. The 529 savings plan is a much-needed financial solution that is designed to make higher education within reach of all those who seek it. There are several different types of 529 savings plans available and parents should look into and understand the workings and the benefits of the various plans so as to choose one that best suits the requirements of their children. “529” is essentially a United States’ Internal Revenue Code section, more commonly known as qualified tuition plans. By investing in their children’s college fees as early as possible parents get can avail of a tax advantage and can also avoid paying
higher fees when it’s actually time for their children to go to college. These plans are typically funded by educational institutions and various state agencies. One of the most significant benefits of a 529 savings plan is that parents do have to pay any inflation difference. There are two main plans available, which cater to two different types of situations. Investing in pre-paid tuition plans would involve purchasing credits or units at participating universities or colleges, which could then be used for books and admission fees or even a room on the campus. The college savings plan includes a variety of investments that could be made that would be of great assistance to the beneficiary student at some time in the future. However munificent the savings
may be, you should keep in mind that the 529 savings plans are still investments and would entail a certain amount of risk. There’s not much cause for worry though as these investments are relatively conservative. 529 savings plan is quite different from any typical mutual investment in many ways. For one thing, multiple members can contribute to the plan and for another you are not required to pay taxes on any of the account’s earnings. Also, the account can be rolled over to any other member if, for any reason, the original beneficiary does not go to university or college. In case the beneficiary earns a scholarship, the unused money can be withdrawn from the account anytime prior to maturity without incurring any penalties except for the applicable taxes. The savings plan allows
you, as a parent, to ensure that your child’s college education is secure financially. Keep in mind that the parent is the sole controller of the account and the student has no access to the money that has been invested in the 529 savings plan until such time that he or she goes to college or university. If you have the money, then investing early in a 529 savings plan is an excellent method of ensuring you are able to fund your child’s college education. This will help insure your child’s education against any possible financial difficulties that you might face in the future. Louis Zhang, 529plansforcollege dot com About the Author To get more information about how do 529 education plans work such as planning for college education visit www.529plansforcollege.com
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
SHOPPING & GIFTS
TOP #1 Pioneer KURO 50-Inch HDTV
By Mike Okada The Pioneer KURO PDP-5020FD represents Pioneer’s least expensive 50-inch 1080p HDTV. But amazingly, we also get some of the finest HDTV imagery available today. The bezel of this TV is a tasteful, glossy black finish. The TV stand has already been factory installed so setup is a snap. As an option, you can also install the TV’s speaker bar. It mounts on the bottom of the unit. Considering that this is a bundled unit, the sound was amazingly good. The bass response was especially good for a unit of this type. But if you already have a home theater setup, you can go without the speaker bar if you want a cleaner look.
The remote control was ok. Compared to the remote from some of Pioneer’s higher end units, this one is a step down. The buttons are more closely spaced together. They also lack backlighting. Instead, the buttons glow in the dark. Kind of a tacky and pointless in my opinion; I guess if you’re going to buy a TV this expensive, you’re better off spending a few bucks on a decent universal remote. Now, let’s get the best part, which is the picture quality. The HD rendering is amazing. Color accuracy was excellent. There was a bit of over saturation, but nothing to really worry about. The black levels were some of the best I’ve seen. Like a cup of hot coffee, the blacks were deep and engaging. This in turn translated to excellent contrast levels. In especially dark scenes, thanks to the blacks levels, the images started taking on more of a three dimensional appearance. As of right now, I don’t see an LCD matching this level of quality anytime soon. I have to assume that these excellent black levels
Wireless Door Bell Brings More Than Meets The Eye By Mark Taylor The wireless door bell is starting to gain significant market share in the doorbell industry. \It is practical and flexible, durable, offers increased performance over previous models, and it is cost competitive. However, these are not all of its benefits. Here is a list of a few that you may not have known: 1. Interesting conversation piece. The wireless door bell can become a great conversation piece for family, friends and guests. Many models can be tweaked to offer different musical chimes, sounds and songs. Your ability to choose things like your favorite college fight song or spooky sounds for Halloween or even Christmas music during the holidays can add extra excitement to your home. The variety of musical options
available makes these great for parties as your guest are greeted with something a little out of the ordinary. 2. They add to the home décor. These wireless models are great for adding style and unique look your home décor. Whether you want them to stand out or blend in, you can find models that will easily meet your needs and home decoration goals. Popular models come in all different styles from the modern and futuristic to the more contemporary models. In addition, they can often be found in a variety of different colors and different sizes. This is great for accommodating those who want to highlight your viewing in a particular room. And those who want to minimize their impact.
also contribute to this TV’s excellent energy consumption. In fact, it’s currently one of the most energy efficient 50-inch plasmas available today. How is the standard definition content? Well, the standard definition processing is a bit average. We saw a lot of jaggies and occasional moiré patterns. The engineers obviously optimized this TV more for HD content and it shows. I’ve seen plasmas from other competitors that did a better job with SD content. If this type of stuff is important to you, then you might want to look elsewhere. But in the end, HD is what most of us are looking for. That’s the reason why we’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on a collection of plastic and metal. As far as the HD content goes, this TV is one of the finest examples of incredible clarity, contrast, and consistency. If you’re someone who favors HD content and views little if any SD content, then you’ll be extremely happy with this TV. Image quality across the board is excellent. If you’re willing to pay the price, you’ll get something that will complement your home theater collection for many years to come. Mike Okada contributes to (www.hereviews.com) Home Entertainment Reviews This site specializes in reviewing all things related to home entertainment equipment.
3. There are more flexible than the man first thought. Many wireless models can even be taken with you when you’re working in the yard. These versions operate like a the people were they can attached your belt, and depending on the frequency range of that particular model, you can hear your visitors ring the bell even if you are in the backyard. This is great news because it decreases the chances of you missing any visitors. With these thoughts in mind, we are sure you will agree that the wireless door bell has come a long way in a short time. By doing just a little more research, you should be able to find a wireless model that will make your family and guests happy. Now stop wasting any more time looking for a Wireless Door Bell. Instead, try visiting http:// www.thedoorbell.net to get some more solid tips and information on wireless door bells and their wired counterparts.
THIS MONTH MO
OODH AND BAKHOORS Swiss Arabian Perfumery maintains an extensive stock of quality Oodhs and Dehn El Oodhs from India, Cambodia, Pusang, Indonesia, Laos and Thailand. The Agarwood is handpicked by our in-house experts and is meticulously cleaned; your satisfaction is guaranteed. In addition, we also maintain our own distillery to meet the demand of our most discerning customers. We manufacture some of the finest Bakhoors (Incense) available in the Middle East. Our superiority in Bakhoors manufacturing is due to three factors: 1. We use only the finest handpicked Agarwood dust in our Bakhoors 2. We use the original Givaudan fragrances. Swiss Arabian has been GivaudanRoure’s agent for 25 years. GivaudanRoure, with sales in excess of US$ 1 billion, is the world’s premiere manufacturer of perfume raw materials. They are credited for creations such as Hugo Boss, Contradiction and many more. 3. We have invested heavily in technology and machinery to provide a consistent quality in every batch. To order and for more information go online to www.OnlineIslamicStore.com
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The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
Guest House Conversions By Anita Koppens Guest houses are choice real estate selling points. Having a guest house is ideal for homeowners who frequently house long-term guests, want to supplement their incomes with lessors or simply want to provide their college-aged students a private, but safe, place to live. However, if you’re a homeowner who doesn’t fall into any of these categories, it’s time to make your guest house work for you. That may mean turning your guest house into a pool house, a home office or even a home gym. Every guest house will require a different amount of remodeling, and this will also depend on how much you would like to see done in terms of changes to the guest house. Depending on what you want to do, you may benefit from the employment of help. No matter how much change you ultimately decide to make, it is important to start making plans. Most guest houses are basically setup like a mini-house. It probably has a cooking area, one or two bedrooms, and a living room area. You need to conclude how you can best use the space for you, rather than how the guest house is currently setup. For instance, if you would like to turn your guest house into a pool house, chances are you won’t need a kitchen unless you plan to do some serious entertaining, but you may want to keep the bathrooms and bedrooms as changing and storage areas. If you want to turn your guest house into a home gym, you may want to break down every space except the bathroom in order to make room for your exercise equipment. When you are determining exactly what you do and do not need, it can be helpful to figure out what your intentions are for the area. Think about how much space you actually need, depending on what your project is. Do you need an open area? Or, just an office? Next, consider how many separate rooms that you are going to need. Keeping the bathroom is a good idea no matter what your purpose is. You also may need storage space. Now, think about the course of remodeling. How much work will it take to get your guest house looking the way you want it to look? The amount of remodeling needed will depend on how many actual structural changes you will have to make. If the amount of remodeling is outside of your budget, be willing to change your plan until you find the right balance. Choosing the right materials can add to your overall enjoyment of your property. If you are going for an office or a gym, carpet isn’t a good choice. It can get damaged too easily from office chairs and gym equipment. Tile would be a better option for either of these purposes. Is the ceiling too low for exercise equipment? Or would you like to have a view from your desk? The point is to select materials that will make your space more functional as well as add to the guest house’s décor and design. Take your time and look at other examples in magazines or online. This should be a fun project! The author has a BA in English literature and writes for real estate interests.
Advertise Now 214.306.7920 The Lone Star Crescent is the only local Muslim Community monthly in the Greater Dallas area distributed via Islamic Centers and over 40 retail locations. Serving the community since 2006, the paper gives you the opportunity to reach thousands each month. Promote your business in The Lone Star Crescent and online at www.myCrescent.com. For special advertising rates email us at ads@myCrescent.com or call (214) 306-7920.
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
Get to Know the New Housing Bill
Mainstream News Treats Foreclosure Crisis As Entertainment By Nick Adama
By Zeus John Martinez The White House has approved a law that will provide homeowners relief from the housing crisis. The Economic and Housing Recovery Act of 2008 will help troubled homeowners keep their homes and allow more people to have access to decent and affordable housing. Signed by the president in July 30, the housing bill may be the most significant housing bill in the last decade. It will help homeowners avoid losing their homes due to difficult mortgage payments. It also gives them the opportunity to switch to more affordable mortgages. The following are included in the housing bill: - Refinancing to cheaper, more affordable fixed-rate mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) - $300-billion guarantee for subprime mortgage borrowers, courtesy of the FHA - Strengthen regulations and infuse billions of dollars to mortgage giants FNM and FRE - Place Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Up to $7,500 refundable tax credit for firsttime homebuyers - Increases the FHA loan limit to $625,000 - FHA loans will have a required 3.5 percent downpayment - Prohibits seller-funded downpayment assistance Allows downpayment assistance from family members - A $3.9-billion budget aimed at repairing abandoned and foreclosed properties in several communities - $15 billion in tax cuts - Foreclosure counseling grants amounting to $180 million Countering foreclosures is an important aspect of this bill. It also ensures that borrowers receive protection from banks that wonâ€™t permit switching to cheaper mortgages. They are required to take a loss when you refinance--losses that are easier to shoulder than long and costly foreclosure procedures. However, you need to prove that you are spending more than 31 percent of your monthly income on mortgage, and that you have the ability to pay for the new loan. Housing Assistance Network ( http://new.housingassistancenetwork.com ) - is a site that aims to help those who are in the low to moderate income brackets find financial assistance for housing, help in acquiring a new home, or grant programs from both state and non-government institutions. Article source: http://new.housingassistancenetwork.com/posts/view/worried-about-losingyour-home-the-new-housing-bill-can-relieveyour-concerns The author is a freelance writer and part-time photographer.
The news that 9% of homeowners with a mortgage are either late in their monthly payments or are in foreclosure seems to have been with a resounding silence by the media and the public. This is a record number and an indication that the collapse of the housing market is just hitting its stride, rather than finding a bottom or beginning to recover. But on the scale of financial disaster, the people have apparently decided that this news does not even rate. Maybe there is no financial disaster meter any longer in the public mind because nearly all of this type of economic collapse news is filtered through our television culture. Nine percent of homeowners in foreclosure is so out of context that it is entirely meaningless for most of the news-watching population. They are unable to appreciate what this number means, because they have nothing similar to compare it to; only further irrelevant information and more sound bites. Foreclosure rates way up. McCain picks woman as VP. A few words from our sponsors. Local murder. Obama says something about faith. A few more words from more of our sponsors. Cubs lose. Olympics ended. A few more words from our favorite corporations. Weather will be nice tomorrow
after rain tonight. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailed out. CSI coming up next. Enjoy our Thursday night entertainment lineup. What is the connection between any of that information? And why should people care about the foreclosure rates anymore than they care about the latest Pepsi advertisement or the fact that the Olympics have ended? Most people are simply watching the news to ensure they have repeatable sound bites for work the next morning if a semi-informed discussion accidentally takes place. In fact, the way that our news media reports information, nothing is connected to anything else. All of the stories reported on television turn into nothing more than sound bites from a continuous stream of too much data presented as news entertainment. And no one should care about the foreclosure rates when they are being sold cars with 0% financing every few minutes. Financial Armageddon is bad, but if it is presented as entertainment and punctuated with psychologically rewarding commercials, then it is meaningless at best and actually encouraging at worst. In fact, the very medium of television is so insulting to the intelligence of the average human being that people simply
lower themselves down to the level of the medium and discount any attempts at critical thinking or analysis. If every few sentences, I inserted a few kind words about Gateway Computers or Amazon.com, most people would stop reading, believing me to be hopelessly distracted or even schizophrenic. But this is exactly how television makes all news irrelevant. Peopleâ€™s ability to detect the collapse of our economy and financial system has been so deadened by years of having their intelligence lowered to the level of television that they probably will not care even if the system does collapse. As long as the Machine that delivers their ideas and entertainment does not stop, they will keep trusting in their unconnected distractions. To find out more about the foreclosure process, visit the My Foreclosure Lender website, which provides services to borrowers trying to save their homes. Foreclosure loan and mortgage modification assistance can be found, as well as information on stopping a foreclosure before the sheriff sale. You can find the site on the web at the following: http://www.myforeclosurelender. com/
Tips to Avoid Home Foreclosure By Tarun Jaswani In United States, numerous people are not able to make monthly mortgage payments on consistent basis. The existing mortgage balance or credit card bills starts piling up which indicates the foreclosure process. Everything seems to be going negative for the debtors as the losing their dream home proves to be very traumatic to them. They just watch their dream home slipping away from their hands. After the default payments made by the home owners on their mortgage, banks starts the vicious process of foreclosing the property of the debtors in order to recover the existing loan amount. There are certain tips, which need to be considered by the debtors in order to stop bank foreclosure - Be Honest regarding the situation-If there are few hundred dollars coming short on the monthly mortgage payments, then it would be easier to get adjusted and residential property can be saved easily. But it is not an easy
task to come out of vicious circle of foreclosure and maintain the credibility in the financial market. In order to stop bank foreclosure, the phone call need to made to financial institutions regarding negotiating with the banks for payment of reduced loan amount at lower monthly payments. If the interest rate is reduced by the bank,then the debtor is able to reside in his home. All the things need to be disclosed to the financial institutions so that they can work accordingly in order to avoid foreclosure of property by banks. - Short sale - The owner of the property can sell the property at lower price or at the same purchase price in short period of time in order to avoid foreclosure of property by bank. He can pay the extra amount from his own side if the balance still exists on the mortgage. It is upto him to stop the property from being foreclosed or sell the property at lower rate than market price to pay off the existing balance on mortgage in order to maintain his creditworthiness in the financial market
Refinance-The other best way to stop bank foreclosure is to refinance the existing mortgage balance with lending institution and pay off the loan, Then the debtor can pay the monthly payments in installments at lower interest rate in a specified mortgage loan tenure of 15,20 or 30 years. It can be considered as the best option to save the property from being foreclosed. Visit http://www.aforeclosurehelp.com and learn how to avoid foreclosure.
The Lone Star Crescent, October 2008
Don’t Neglect These 3 Car Problems By Everette Jamison When it comes to used cars, it’s often the small problems that are left unchecked which end up costing the most money. Unfortunately, given enough time, they can require repairs that often cost thousands of dollars. Most drivers can avoid expensive car repairs simply by addressing issues as they occur. Below, I’ll describe a few common problems and how to resolve them. The Wrong Gas Drivers fill their gas tanks with the wrong type of fuel more often than you might think. For example, they’ll put diesel gas in when they should be using unleaded (or vice versa). It’s an innocent mistake, but it can cause severe damage. If you fill your tank with the wrong gas and recognize the mistake immediately, don’t start your engine. Doing so will circulate the gas throughout your car, potentially damaging parts in the process. Instead, have your car towed to the nearest mechanic. He’ll be able to drain the gas tank of the wrong fuel. The drain may cost a few hundred dollars, but it’s better than having to pay thousands to repair or replace expensive parts. Bad Water Pump Your car’s water pump will likely develop a leak at some point. When it does, you should replace it as soon as possible. A lot of drivers fail to do so and as a result, their car’s engine ends up overheating. The problem is that an overheated engine can cause the head gasket to blow or rupture. While a blown gasket may sound benign, it usually requires that substantial repair work be performed on the engine. Replacing the water pump may only cost a few hundred dollars (including the labor). By contrast, replacing the head gasket can carry a price tag of over $2,000. Address the problem early and you’ll save money in the long run. Low Oil The motor oil that you put in your car lubricates the parts during combustion. If your car runs out of oil, that lubrication deteriorates. When that happens, the parts grind together and heat builds, eventually causing your car to die. At that point, adding oil might not do much good because your engine is likely damaged and may even need to be replaced. Aside from running your car off a steep cliff, allowing the oil levels to decline is one of the most damaging things you can do. Taking care of your car is largely a matter of identifying and addressing small problems early. If you do, those small problems won’t lead to expensive car repairs in the future. And these days, when the economy is soft, avoiding unnecessary repairs is like money in the bank. When looking for used auto parts and used engines consider the leader in parts, http://www. everdrive.com
NISSAN MURANO -09 “As ever, with its car-based platform and available on-road-biased all-wheel-drive system, the Murano is definitely not made for rockcrawling..... Nissan retains the Murano’s attractive qualities while making some key improvements to keep this sporty crossover more than competitive in the midsize segment.” -Edmunds.com ......................................................................................................... “There is a huge number of competent, comfortable, convenient and roomy crossover SUVs available on the American market for 2009. We think the new Nissan Murano ranks right up there with the best of them. We like the Murano very much, inside and out. It’s good looking, easy to use, reasonably powerful, and won’t use up all your money on gasoline.” -Autos.Aol.com
2009 THE VW ROUTAN “Building a Minivan Without Any of the Work: VW reps talk around the C-word when discussing the Routan, but the Routan is built on a Chrysler platform in a Chrysler plant by people and bots who used to build Chryslers in their day jobs but now assemble Chryslers and Volkswagens. It gets VW-ish sheetmetal and a dedicated interior and rides on an exclusive suspension, but those who expect the Routan to be more Chrysler than Volkswagen are not too wide off the mark. Think of it as a Volkswagen interpreted by Chrysler.” -Car & Driver ......................................................................................................... “THE key fact: the VW Routan is a rebadged Chrysler minivan. Rebadged as in mildly reworked. .....Taken as a whole, the Routan is the most desirable of the three minivans sharing this platform– provided you don’t need the trick seats. If Honda, Kia and Toyota weren’t in this space, the Routan would rule. But they are, so it doesn’t.” -TheTruthAboutCars.com.
The Lone Star Crescent, August 2008