Monday, November 14, 2016

AfD - The News That Could Occur Next Year in Germany

In a stunning upset, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has been declared the victor in the national elections, carving out a clear majority in the Bundestag.

The victory makes Frauke Petry, the spokesperson of the AfD, next in line for the Chancellery. The unexpected result also questions the very existence of EU, as Ms Petry repeatedly denigrated the institution during the campaign, and promised to take Germany out of EU if it meant, in her words, "subsidizing the lazy people of Greece and Spain with hard working German money". The results have thrown world markets into turmoil, further depressing the Euro.

Europe is in the midst of a stunning upheaval. Following from Brexit, and the shock election of Donald Trump as the President of USA (and the dismantling of NATO, followed by the cancellation of Paris Accord and the TTIP), Hungary, Holland have both voted to leave the troubled organization.

If Germany, a founding member and leader in the EU chooses to depart, it may well be the death blow to the EU. The Chinese yuan has already risen ten fold in thirteen hours since the election result.

It was thought for a long time that Germans would never warm to a political party pledging allegiance to neo Nazi ideals, denigrating migrants, peddling Islamophobia and anti-Semitic propaganda and insulting long standing allies. Indeed polls right the day before the vote gave a huge lead of 29.5 points to now outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The party has also pledged to take Germany back to its "Christian roots" and sought to strengthen the church and family values in Germany. Its closeness to the Vatican has also raised eyebrows, with the Pope choosing to remain silent on some of the outrageous statements issued during the campaign.

In hindsight, the Holy See must have seen something the polls had all missed. An anger at the current state of government, the bureaucracy in Brussels, the numerous Muslim migrants and the crimes alleged to have been committed by them (all debunked as false news by Politico Germany) and the "I-know-best" attitude of the ruling Christian Democratic Union.

It now remains to be seen how Europe will reshape itself in the years to come following this cataclysmic election.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why American Muslims Should Leave USA Right Now

My American Muslim friends and family.

Before I start, I want to tell you a little reality. It's something you can ask any Canadian, especially those who were immigrants to the Great White North, and they will verify this.

We often go the United States for little trips. Disneyland, shopping, tourism, work, visiting friends and family, and so on. The Americans are (usually) very nice and we have no complaints.

But ...

On the way back, as soon as our car crosses the 49th parallel back to Canada, we heave a sigh of relief. Just a few meters over the border in Canada, everything is the same as it was in US. The highway is equally good, the scenery hasn't changed much, the weather is the same. But something is different. We are in Canada.

We are home. We belong.

Now I ask you. Do you feel a sense of belonging in America? Is it your home? Is the government of America your government? Does it serve you? Are the people yours? Do they accept you as one of them?

These are not some bland questions. I want you to think about it deeply. What does it say when your country has elected a man who has openly villified your religion, talked about putting you in special registration programs, advocated a shutdown of people of your faith coming in to the country, and refused to apologize for his numerous racist, bigoted, sexist, ultra right wing comments?

In your country the police openly shoot unarmed black civilians without any fear. And this was under a black President.

This is the same country that elected Bush twice. An illegal war killing millions (and some of them Americans) did not stop a majority of the people from voting for him. And this is a country where the Muslim FRIENDLY candidate would talk about Muslims being on the front lines of the war against terrorism, would continue the drone bombings of civilians, would continue the PATRIOT act, amongst others. Not even the other guy. The other guy is far worse. And he is now your President, elected by half of your countrymen.

I don't need to go on. I know you KNOW the situation is bad. I am writing to tell you why you should LEAVE the United States NOW. Before it gets worse, and before your options dwindle, LEAVE NOW. While you still can.

I know this is your homeland, your place of birth. This is where you grew up. Went to school. Got married. Made a life. It's not easy to even think about moving.

There is some merit to the idea to stay, and fight, and make things better. Strive for your country. Try and make the society better. Help your country.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stayed in Makkah for 55 years - the vast majority of his life - trying to improve the society, help the people, strive for his place of birth. But at some point, you have to realize that things are not going to get better, ever. In fact, they will get worse.

The Clock Boy - Ahmed - was a genius and he was put in jail. And he was a KID! Sure, he then met the President, and the Faceook CEO, but what good did it do? Other future Clock Boys would still be put in jail. And there are no consequences. And this was under a black Democrat President. Things are not going to get better.

They are going to get worse.

We thought Bush was bad. 9/11 happened, and surveillance and overreach of power and so on. When you guys elected Obama, there was Hope that things would Change.

But has things changed? They only became worse. Obama never undid the Patriot Act. He made sure the US government could assisinate its own citizens. He never shut down Guantanamo Bay. Drone killings became a fact of life.

And now, what? The KKK approved guy is your President, with the House, the Senate and pretty soon the Supreme Court in tow. What more signals do you need to know things in America are not going to get better. Trump will not be able to make America Great Again, the way his supporters want him to. It's not 1950s any more. And then what?

I would urge you to consider Canada. It's right next door, and the culture is very similar. As part of NAFTA (until your new President dismantles it) you can get a job here easily before applying for Permanent Residence.

We are not perfect. We have healthcare, but it has issues (we are working on it to fix it, not dismantle it). We don't have racism the way you do, but we do have the French part of the country, Quebec, that ocassionally tries to ban the niqab or hijab. In fairness, our current Prime Minister also hails from Quebec, so there's a lot of good people there as well.

We have Muslims in the Cabinet, while you will now have a person in Cabinet (Ben Carson) who rose in the polls by saying US Muslims should never serve in Cabinet.

Sometimes our police do kill an unarmed civilian. But then we have an inquiry and an investigation. It's nowhere on the same scale as in USA, which is why Black Lives Matter gets far less traction here.

We had First Nations women being killed and missing for a long time. Our last Prime Minister refused to have an investigation, and prefered "old stock Canadians" (whatever that was). We got rid of him, and now we have an official inquiry into those missing women led by a lady who is a First Nations person herself.

Yes, things are not perfect (I mean there's our weather) but Canada is a far better place to be a Muslim than America, alhamdulillah. Our Walmart sells Halal stuff without any cries of boycott.

And we need you. We need you because the election of your crazy President will embolden the crazies here. You might remember our last Prime Minister. He's not there any more but there's people trying to become the leader of his party. Some of them are crazy right wing, and they will have noted the success of your President. We need you guys here so they don't succeed. We really like it here and don't want to move (ironic, eh?).

After 55 years in Makkah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) realized things are not getting any better, but were getting worse. So he immigrated. He left his beloved place of birth and moved on. Your parents (or their parents) made the decision to move to this country for economic reasons. So you can't say you cannot move because it's your birth place - they did it and you can too.

Yes, some Muslims remained in Makkah because they couldn't move due to various circumstances. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) always prayed for them, and helped them when he could.

So whatever your decision is, you will always be in my prayers. And may God be with you.

And may God bless your country with true justice.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Ten Thoughts on the Historic US Election

So America has done it. Elected Donald Trump as President.

(Picture courtesy: Rolling Stone)

Some thoughts (a postmortem, if you will).

1. The racists have won. 

There is no way to sugar coat it. The man ran on a racist platform, and was endorsed by the KKK, and won.

2. White people have nothing to fear.

Notice all the talks of losing Democrats about coming together, healing, congratulating the President and wishing him well. They are all white. People of color remember what Trump said about them.

3. Muslims in USA should seriously think about emigration.

Trump cannot target Hispanics or other immigrants as easily as Muslims. Immigration from Muslim countries will be curtailed. So it's really time to think about the long term future.

Also, kind of ironic to see famous sheikhs (you know who they are) who thought Clinton had it in the bag and couldn't resist a dig at her, saying how bad she was and why third parties deserve a look and how America was facing two bad choices. Now they are calling out to Allah for help and guidance. Should have done that before the election.

4. Trump did everything wrong, and still won.

No ground game, no significant ad buys, no support from the main party, no coalition of diversity, and still won. He proved in the US you can run on white supremacy and win a national election.

As Electoral-vote said

"Similarly, everything we thought we knew about campaigning was apparently in error. Conventions? Don't matter. Debates? Don't matter. Endorsements? Don't matter. High-profile defections? Don't matter. Missteps? Don't matter? Commercials? Don't matter. Ground game? Doesn't matter. An All-Star team of campaign surrogates, including one former president, one sitting president, and a wildly popular first lady? Doesn't matter. The "blue wall"? Not a thing."

5. All the polls were wrong. 

Like, ALL of them. This will have significant impact future elections. Why should anyone pay any attention to what the polls say?

6. Trump controls the House and the Senate. 

In the next 4 (or maybe 8) years he could appoint as many as 5 Supreme Court justices. America has really changed into a darker society yesterday.

7. Sexism, racist, and generally bigotry was always there, it just needed a champion and it found one.

Americans can't really say it's only a fringe minority who are racist. As a nation, yesterday they proved themselves to have no qualms about electing a racist bigot. 

8. Hillary cheated Bernie out of a nomination win in the Democratic primary.

Hillary lost in 2008 to an unknown called Barack Obama and did not want history to repeat itself. So this time around she made sure she was going to get the nomination by any means necessary. The Democratic primaries should have been a signal. Despite all the advantages of the party machinery, she had trouble beating an unknown old man from Vermont. 

When facing a choice between a fake and a real deal, voters usually choose the real deal. For all his faults, Trump was Trump, warts and all. No one knew what Hillary really stood for. 

9. For all our smugness in Canada, be prepared. 

Our Conservatives must have seen that being crazy, racist and a bigot can lead you to victory. Be prepared for more craziness from our right. And we thought Harper was bad.

10. Final thought:

If you as a white person feel frightened of a Trump presidency, then think of an immigrant, a Muslim, a Mexican, a person of colour, a gay, trans or marginalized person.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Should You Go For an MBA Today?

Should I get an MBA?
As a double major MBA alumni from one of Canada's top universities, as well as a class rep, I get asked this question a lot, especially by prospective immigrants from Bangladesh. It's often looked at as a quick way to get Permanent Residency (and eventual citizenship) in Canada. It's relatively easier to get into an MBA program in a Canadian university as a foreigner, it's quick (2 years) and job prospects seem promising. 

First thing I would advise you is to see whether you need it for your career. An MBA is most useful if you want to set up your own business or you are in the financial or stock market area. It's a must (I feel) if you are going to start your own business here in Canada. It's probably useful if you are a manager or going to be one. If you want to go into HR, it could be helpful. 

After that, it's usefulness starts to decline rapidly compared to other options, especially getting a PMP certification, or a booster course at a community college.

Second, it's very, very costly. Rotman, for example, is the costliest in Canada, and an international student (depending on courses) can easily be looking at $108,000 in tuition alone (domestic fee is around $99,000). There are far cheaper ways to get PM into Canada. And definitely far cheaper ways to get educated.

Third, the job prospects around the world are dull. An MBA doesn't have the lure in a down market as it used to, except for some specific job sectors. If you have been working as a programmer, for example, and you want to become a manager, an MBA will not help you, but dev lead experience and technical expertise will.

Those are the downsides. However, I have also experienced the upsides. Alhamdulillah I had a consulting job that was a direct result of the MBA. It also gave me great connections (provided I leverage the alumni network). And of course the knowledge you get from an MBA itself is excellent.

If you do decide to do an MBA, based on your career path and affordability, here's some guidelines.

1) Stay away from 1 year MBAs. They are not worth it. You will not learn anything in 1 year.

2) Some schools, such as Rotman, have morning or evening part time MBAs (3 years). They may be suitable if you have a job. Ryerson also has a cheaper part time MBA for IT, which is unique in Canada.

3) Do not go for MBAs that are not in the original campus (such as a visiting MBA course in another city). You will not get the best instructors then.

4) If you are in full time MBA, look for co-op opportunities as interns. They are the best way to get into the career track you need.

5) Some universities also have an exchange option (so you can do a course or two for a term in another country's university). Take advantage of that if you can.

6) GMAT is really, really, really important.