TIME faith

Muslim Students at Duke Will Begin Chant of Weekly Call-to-Prayer

Move called unprecedented by one Islamic expert

Members of Duke University’s Muslim Students Association will begin chanting a weekly call-to-prayer from the bell tower of the school’s chapel this Friday, in what one religious expert called a first-of-its-kind development.

The chant, known as the adhan, will be “moderately amplified” from the chapel to alert the community of the weekly Friday prayer service. The Muslim chaplain at Duke Imam Adeel Zeb said in a statement that the call-to-prayer “serves as a reminder to serve our brothers and sisters in humanity.”

“The adhan is the call to prayer that brings Muslims back to their purpose in life,” Zeb said.

Christy Lohr Sapp, the associate dean of religious life at Duke’s chapel, said the broadcasting of the chant “represents a larger commitment to religious pluralism that is at the heart of Duke’s mission.”

“Our goal in Religious Life is to create a place where religious expression is valued and supported and to foster the spiritual development of the various communities on campus,” Sapp said in an email.

In Muslim communities across the globe, the adhan is broadcast up to five times a day—once for each of the five daily prayers. On Friday afternoons, Muslims gather for the congregational Jummah prayer. Princeton University Imam & Muslim Life Program Coordinator Sohaib Sultan called Duke’s announcement is a “wonderful recognition of the religious diversity at Duke,” noting that as far as he knows, the move is unprecedented.

“The Muslim call to prayer is a melodious chant that will be appreciated by anyone, regardless of faith, who has an ear for spiritual songs,” said Sohaib, who also authored the book The Koran for Dummies. “As far as I know this is unprecedented and a welcome first.”

At New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus, students are alerted of the call-to-prayer by Al Fajr clocks, which display prayer times and light up when the call-to-prayer is announced. The campus is located on Saadiyat Island where students can no longer properly hear the call-to-prayer broadcast throughout Abu Dhabi. At Emory University in Atlanta, the school’s Muslim Student Association broadcast the adhan throughout the month of February in 2010 during Islamic Awareness Month.

Not everyone is praising the announcement. Franklin Graham, a Christian evangelist and son of famed evangelical and Baptist minister Billy Graham, slammed Duke’s announcement in a Facebook post.

“As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism,” Graham wrote. “I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed.”

Read next: Meet the German Activist Leading the Movement Against ‘Islamization’

TIME White House

White House Will Call on Congress to Pass Paid-Leave Legislation

A tall security fence stands in front of the White House on Nov. 4, 2014 in Washington.
A tall security fence stands in front of the White House on Nov. 4, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

The announcement is Obama's latest policy recommendation geared toward the middle class

Correction appended, Jan. 15

U.S. President Barack Obama will continue rolling out policy recommendations that speak to issues facing the middle class ahead of his upcoming State of the Union address on Tuesday, with a call for Congress to pass legislation addressing paid leave.

Obama will be calling on Congress to pass a bill by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called the Health Families Act, which would allow Americans to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave every year. He’ll also be urging state and local governments to take up the issue, and will propose $2.2 billion worth of funding to support paid family and medical leave programs in states.

The President will also sign a memorandum that will give federal workers access to at least six weeks of paid family and medical leave. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said in a press call Wednesday that demands for state and local action was not an indication that the White House doesn’t want to work with Congress.

“This isn’t an either or, it’s a both and,” Jarrett said. ” “We think we can do both.”

Obama will announce the new initiatives at a roundtable discussion with a group of women on Thursday. No further details about the event were provided. Jarrett said Wednesday that many of businesses have “failed to keep pace” as both the American workforce and families have evolved.

“If we want to be globally competitive and attract the best workers, we need to figure this out,” she said.

Jarrett announced the upcoming announcement in a post on Linkedin Wednesday evening, a social site geared toward businesses and workers. The proposals follow the model of the President’s call for raising the minimum wage, which had much more traction in some states than on Capitol Hill.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated when President Barack Obama is giving his State of the Union address. It is on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

TIME Crime

Ohio Man Plotted to Attack U.S. Capitol, Feds Say

Authorities say Cincinnati-area men expressed support for ISIS

A man in Ohio has been arrested for allegedly planning to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government officials, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

The Cincinnati-area man identified by authorities as Christopher Cornell, 20 and of Green Township, is said to have used an alias and expressed support for the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) on Twitter, which caught the eye of law enforcement officials.

A criminal complaint explains that Cornell began unknowingly communicating with a confidential FBI informant when he allegedly expressed interest in carrying out an attack on the Capitol, which involved him detonating a pipe bomb and shooting government officials. He was arrested after purchasing two semi-automatic rifles and 600 rounds ammunition.

Cornell’s father, John Cornell, told CNN on Wednesday that he did not believe his son could carry out an attack: “I don’t think Chris could hurt a fly. His best friend is our kitty cat, you know what I mean? He’s such a loveable, kind person.” He noted his son had only recently taken interest in Islam, but made no mention of terrorism or ISIS.

TIME

GM Sold a Record Number of Vehicles in 2014

The same year it recalled millions of them over safety issues

General Motors set a new record in 2014, the year when its CEO landed in the hot seat as the company recalled millions of vehicles over safety issues, by selling more than 9.9. million of them worldwide.

The automaker said in a statement Tuesday that sales were up 2% from 2013, likely placing the it third in global sales for the year. Volkswagen sold 10.4 million vehicles in 2014, according to AFP, while reports indicate Toyota may have sold 10.22 million.

Deliveries to China rose 12% to 3.54 million vehicles, and North American deliveries rose 6% to 3.4 million.

“GM is making solid progress and has good momentum,” CEO Mary Barra said in the statement.

Read next: Mary Barra’s Bumpy Ride at the Wheel of GM

TIME cities

This Is the ‘Queerest’ City in America

Per an annual list just released by 'The Advocate'

The Advocate‘s annual list of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the United States, just released this week, has a new No. 1: Dayton, Ohio.

For this year’s list of the “Queerest Cities in America,” the outlet gave cities points for things like how trans-inclusive they are, the existence of LGBT-friendly Jewish and Muslim houses of worship and whether they hosted tours of Broadway hits like Kinky Boots, The Book of Mormon and Wicked. The Advocate divided the total points by the population to get a “per capita LGBT quotient.” (LGBT-friendly hubs like New York City and San Francisco are excluded.)

The top five “Queerest Cities” of 2015 are:

  1. Dayton, Ohio
  2. Atlanta, Ga.
  3. West Palm Beach, Fla.
  4. Lansing, Mich.
  5. Madison, Wisc.

Read more at The Advocate.

TIME celebrities

Watch Ellen DeGeneres Give the Most Ellen Speech Ever on Hollywood’s Alleged ‘Gay Agenda’

"I don't have an agenda," the comedian and talk-show host says

Ellen Degeneres took a moment during her daily talk show to respond to a recent op-ed written for The Christian Post that outlined a “gay agenda” promoted by Hollywood. In the post, Christian author Larry Tomczak cites DeGeneres as an example of Hollywood “promoting homosexuality.”

“Ellen DeGeneres celebrates her lesbianism and ‘marriage’ in between appearances of guests like Taylor Swift to attract young girls,” he wrote.

Her retort was a response only the comedian could pull off. After jokingly dismissing the claims made in the post, DeGeneres made it clear that her only goal is to promote compassion and self-acceptance.

“The only way I’m trying to influence people is to be more kind and compassionate with one another,” she said. “That is the message I’m sending out. I don’t have an agenda.”

 

TIME Cameroon

Cameroon Says It Has Killed 143 Boko Haram Militants

Screengrab taken on Oct. 2, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, shows group's leader Abubakar Shekau.
Screengrab taken on Oct. 2, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, shows group's leader Abubakar Shekau. AFP/Getty Images

Islamist extremists currently on the rampage in northeast Nigeria

The government of Cameroon says its military killed 143 Boko Haram extremists in a standoff near the country’s border with Nigeria. The Islamic extremist group has been terrorizing Nigeria for the past five years and has gained new momentum leading up to the country’s scheduled presidential election.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Cameroonian government said military engaged in a five-hour fight with extremists that left at least one corporal dead and four soldiers wounded, along with the dozens of Boko Haram militants who were killed, according to the Associated Press.

Boko Haram, the group responsible for kidnapping hundreds of school girls last year, has carried out a slew of violent attacks in recent weeks. Last week, the group massacred the town of Baga in Nigeria—officials estimate the death toll is 150, but it has been reported to be as high as 2,000.

Read next: Boko Haram Militants Are Back on the Attack in Nigeria as a Presidential Election Looms

[AP]

TIME Insects

‘Super Mosquito’ Resistant to Malaria Insecticide Found in Mali

Bed nets can't hold back new breed of mosquito

Interbreeding between two mosquito species has created a new “super” species that is resistant to bed nets treated with malaria insecticide, a new study has found.

The species has been found in the West African country of Mali and, according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a result of an evolutionary change caused by the introduction of the treated nets to the environment.

The treated nets have been credited with helping reduce the number of malaria deaths over the past decade. The World Health Organization reports deaths have decreased by 47 percent since 2000. According to a press release from the University of California at Davis, specialists were not surprised by the emergence of an insecticide resistant species.

“Growing resistance has been observed for some time,” said lead researcher and medical entomologist Gregory Lanzaro in the release. “Recently it has reached a level at some localities in Africa where it is resulting in the failure of the nets to provide meaningful control, and it is my opinion that this will increase.”

The scientists are urging the development of “new and effective malaria vector control strategies.”

Read next: How To Stop Chikungunya

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Crime

Mistrial Declared in Case of South Carolina Cop Who Killed Unarmed Black Man

Former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs sits with lawyers on the second day of testimony in his trial for the murder of Bernard Bailey in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Jan. 8, 2015.
Former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs sits with lawyers on the second day of testimony in his trial for the murder of Bernard Bailey in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Jan. 8, 2015. Reuters

Richard Combs, the former police chief of Eutawville, S.C., charged with murder of Bernard Bailey in May 2011

A judge in South Carolina declared a mistrial in the case of a white ex-police chief charged with murder in the killing of an unarmed black man in 2011.

The jury deliberated for 12 hours before failing to reach a consensus over the verdict, according to the Associated Press. Richard Combs, the former police chief of Eutawville, S.C., shot Bernard Bailey three times outside of the town hall in May 2011.

Combs, the small town’s only officer on patrol, said he fired in self defense and that Bailey was attempting to run him over with a truck when he tried to arrest him. Throughout the trial, according to the New York Times, state prosecutors attempted to paint Combs as spiteful and was arresting Bailey on a trumped-up charge.

The Department of Justice declined to file charges after a yearlong investigation into Bailey’s death, according to Bloomberg. State prosecutors say they will attempt to try Combs again.

[AP]

TIME Infectious Disease

California Confirms 9 Cases of Measles in Recent Disneyland Visitors

Euro Disney Paris
A general view of Disneyland Paris on Jan. 16, 2014. Paul Hubble—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Seven cases found in California and two in Utah

Nine cases of measles have been confirmed among recent visitors of theme parks in California, the state’s department of health said Wednesday.

Each of the cases were found to occur in visitors to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Orange County between Dec. 15 to Dec. 20, the department announced in a statement. Seven of the confirmed cases are in locations across California (six of them had not been vaccinated) and two are in Utah; three other California residents are suspected of having infections and are being monitored.

The department is urging people who are exhibiting symptoms of the airborne disease, which it calls “highly infectious,” to contact their health care providers immediately. Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and eventually the appearance of a red rash — first on the face, then on the rest of the body. And patients can be infectious for nine days.

Measles has been eliminated since 2000, the health department added, largely thanks to the highly-effective vaccine. But because Disneyland attracts many international travelers and there have been outbreaks in recent years, it’s possible that someone could have brought it to the U.S. and, in turn, to “the happiest place on earth.”

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