Israel ‘Will Attack Iran’ before new US president sworn in, John Bolton predicts

Courtesy Toby Harnden in Washington

John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations, has predicted that Israel could attack Iran after the November presidential election but before George W Bush’s successor is sworn in.

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Bolton: ‘the argument for military action is sooner rather than later’

The Arab world would be “pleased” by Israeli strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“It [the reaction] will be positive privately. I think there’ll be public denunciations but no action,” he said.

Mr Bolton, an unflinching hawk who proposes military action to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons, bemoaned what he sees as a lack of will by the Bush administration to itself contemplate military strikes.

“It’s clear that the administration has essentially given up that possibility,” he said. “I don’t think it’s serious any more. If you had asked me a year ago I would have said I thought it was a real possibility. I just don’t think it’s in the cards.”

Israel, however, still had a determination to prevent a nuclear Iran, he argued. The “optimal window” for strikes would be between the November 4 election and the inauguration on January 20, 2009.

“The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increase their defences by buying new Russian anti-aircraft systems and further harden the nuclear installations .

“They’re also obviously looking at the American election calendar. My judgement is they would not want to do anything before our election because there’s no telling what impact it could have on the election.”

But waiting for either Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, or his Republican opponent John McCain to be installed in the White House could preclude military action happening for the next four years or at least delay it.

“An Obama victory would rule out military action by the Israelis because they would fear the consequences given the approach Obama has taken to foreign policy,” said Mr Bolton, who was Mr Bush’s ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006.

“With McCain they might still be looking at a delay. Given that time is on Iran’s side, I think the argument for military action is sooner rather than later absent some other development.”

The Iran policy of Mr McCain, whom Mr Bolton supports, was “much more realistic than the Bush administration’s stance”.

Mr. Obama has said he will open high-level talks with Iran “without preconditions” while Mr McCain views attacking Iran as a lesser evil than allowing Iran to become a nuclear power.

William Kristol, a prominent neo-conservative, told Fox News on Sunday that an Obama victory could prompt Mr Bush to launch attacks against Iran. “If the president thought John McCain was going to be the next president, he would think it more appropriate to let the next president make that decision than do it on his way out,” he said.

Last week, Israeli jets carried out a long-range exercise over the Mediterranean that American intelligence officials concluded was practice for air strikes against Iran. Mohammad Ali Hosseini, spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, said this was an act of “psychological warfare” that would be futile.

“They do not have the capacity to threaten the Islamic Republic of Iran. They [Israel] have a number of domestic crises and they want to extrapolate it to cover others. Sometimes they come up with these empty slogans.”

He added that Tehran would deliver a “devastating” response to any attack.

On Friday, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, said military action against Iran would turn the Middle East into a “fireball” and accelerate Iran’s nuclear programme.

Mr. Bolton, however, dismissed such sentiments as scaremongering. “The key point would be for the Israelis to break Iran’s control over the nuclear fuel cycle and that could be accomplished for example by destroying the uranium conversion facility at Esfahan or the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.

“That doesn’t end the problem but it buys time during which a more permanent solution might be found…. How long? That would be hard to say. Depends on the extent of the destruction.”

 

10-27

Nuclear Inspectors in Syria Probe

The US has said Syria’s reactor was similar to a North Korean one

UN nuclear inspectors have arrived in Syria to investigate claims that it was building a nuclear reactor.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) four person team will spend three days examining the al-Kibar site in the desert in northern Syria.
The site was bombed by Israeli jets in September 2007. The ruins were bulldozed after the attack.

Israel and the US have said the installation was a nuclear plant in the making – a charge denied by Damascus.

Speaking on his departure, the deputy chief of the IAEA, Olli Heinonen – who is leading the team of inspectors – said they would meet their Syrian counterparts on Sunday evening.

After that, he said, they would start “looking for the facts”.

Syria has welcomed the inspection but insists that it will be limited to the al-Kibar site.

In April, Washington released pictures purporting to show North Korean experts inside the construction, which it said closely resembled a North Korean reactor at Yongbyon.

Syria has repeatedly denied it has any nuclear weapons programme, or any such agreement with North Korea.

Syrian officials have said the bombed site was an unused military facility under construction, but deny that it had anything to do with a nuclear programme.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has criticised both what he saw as a US delay in releasing information on the Syrian site and Israel’s bombing of the site before his agency could inspect it.

Ahead of the visit, Mr ElBaradei called on Syria to show “absolute transparency” and to give the inspectors access to all sites they wished to see.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya television, he said: “We have no evidence that Syria has the human resources that would allow it to carry out a large nuclear programme.

“We do not see Syria having nuclear fuel.”

 

10-27

Pakistani Student Snubs US Ambassador

Courtesy NNI (News Network International)

ISLAMABAD –The US Ambassador in Islamabad, Anne W. Patterson faced embarrassment on Wednesday when a Pakistani student refused to receive award from her as a protest over recent US air strike in the country’s tribal region.

 

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File:  U.S.-Pakistan Am-bassador Anne Patterson

Samad Khurrum, a school student, did not receive award at the hand of the US envoy who was chief guest at a function at the Islamabad’s National Arts Gallery, participants at the function said.

Private TV channels also reported the news.

The student of a private school was quoted by the private TV channels as saying that he will not receive the award from the US ambassador to protest over deaths of Pakistanis in the US air strike.

The student also did not shake hand with the American envoy and left the stage.

“I can not receive award from the US ambassador after the attack,” the student said, according to private TV channels.

Refusal of the student caused embarrassment for the American ambassador, who said that the air strike was unfortunate and that both governments are investigating the incident.

 

10-27

Obama Apologizes to Muslim Women

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama apologized on Thursday to two Muslim women who were barred from sitting behind the podium where Obama was speaking because they were wearing Islamic headscarves.

 

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The Muslim women asked by Senator Obama’s staffers not to appear behind the candidate at a Detroit rally.

 

At a campaign rally in Detroit on Monday, Shimaa Abdelfadeel and Hebba Aref were prevented by volunteers from taking seats behind Obama that would have been in view of television cameras, apparently because of their headscarves.

“I reached out to Ms. Aref and Ms. Abdelfadeel this afternoon,” Obama said in a statement. “I spoke with Ms. Abdelfadeel, and expressed my deepest apologies for the incident that occurred with volunteers at the event in Detroit.”

Obama said the volunteers’ actions were “unacceptable and in no way reflect any policy of my campaign.”

“I take deepest offense to and will continue to fight against discrimination against people of any religious group or background,” he said.
Obama said Abdelfadeel had accepted his apology and he hoped that Aref would as well.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Obama had left a phone message for Aref.

Obama, who is a Christian, has faced false rumors that he is a Muslim.

His personal apology followed an earlier apology made to the women by his campaign staff.

(Reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

A Guide to Election 2008

By Waheeduddin Ahmed Ph.D.

Truth is a casualty of politics. The longer one lives in the cradle of capitalist democracy, denser does the mist of disillusionment become. Ideals evaporate, choices mingle and images get fused, to present a panorama of endless absurdities. Elections are a liars’ quadrennial tournament like the Olympics. The system, which operates our lives cannot tolerate truth; even its proximity  shatters it to pieces. One would think that in any legitimate system, the choice should be, not between various personifications of falsehood but between truth and untruth. Until we are face to face with such a choice, we are living in a world, where there is no hope but a melancholy of conscious self-deceit.

The language of electoral politics itself unveils a grand hypocrisy. Take for instance the word electability (a word not found in Webster’s dictionary)  What it means is that a candidate, whether good or bad, must conform to the public’s taste, which is assumed bad. A candidate’s name may prejudice the public. A person with a Muslim name has a birthright to run for office but beware! the joke will be on him. A Black and a woman are a novelty; never happened in the annals of history and may still end up as something that never happened; long live the American Dream. Blackness has a clear and unambiguous definition: a candidate, half black and half white, with all the traits and qualities of the white culture, is Black, not White nor Half-white, even if he is brought up by all white grand parents and ends up in Harvard. That is a manifestation of charity, which both, the beneficiary and the benefactor must endure.

Dick Morris is a name to remember. Bill and Hillary in their White House days were the friends of Black America and vice versa. Bill, not only needed the Black’s votes but also those of the White Middle Class, who, while in grocery stores saw and resented those passing out food stamps as money. So, in a remarkable feat of  Dick Morrisian electobatics, he achieved a personal triumph setting aside party principles. Now once again, when election was at stake, Bill and Hillary went back to Morrisian politics, pulling out the race card: Barak and Jessy look-alike  Conclusion: The Clintons have a propensity to destroy institutions for personal gains.

Jeremiah Wright has been made out in the media as one whose views caste a shadow on the electability of Barak Obama. Who is Jeremiah Wright? Is he a drug dealer, a gangster, a terrorist? No! He is an outspoken political reformer, who uses, at the pulpit, the language of the one, whose name he has taken and of Amos, Mica, Isaiah and other angry scolding prophets. His honesty and integrity should be judged by the truthfulness or untruthfulness of his statements and his rancor deemed a barometer of societal mores. In fact, we should be thankful for such voices arising from churches, synagogues and mosques, without which the nation’s conscience will go to sleep.

What does bipartisanship mean? It clearly means duplicity and hypocrisy. For example, the Republicans painted Bill abusing his cigar in the Oval Office, while ignoring the images of Newt Gingrich‘s amorous indulgence on the Capitol Hill  It was a waste of time however, since in the tantalizing aura of licentious culture, it offered the public a glance in the mirror and the public found it entertaining not menacing.

In America freedom is a myth. Yes there is freedom to say what I am saying. It is only so because it is inconsequential in the final analysis. In America, the rulers and the ruled are dehumanized. There is no human face to the ruler; therefore there is no ego, no sense of insult or gratification. Criticism doesn’t hurt because there are no feelings to be hurt. Americans are ruled by a tyranny of financial interests. They are free to speak, act and move on the surface of their stratum. However, they cannot transcend from their confines and the rulers and the ruled always remain widely distanced.

John McCain is giving the world a new slogan: war against Radical Islamic Extremism. He is a nuanced strategist. The new slogan fills the vacuum created by the exit of the Red Menace and the Yellow Menace. One of the pillars of American capitalism is the behemoth of the arms industry. If it is dismantled, the system collapses. Arms can be neither manufactured nor sold if there is no enemy. However, the enemy in this context, doesn’t have to be corpuscular but ideational. It is phantomized in the psyche of the citizens, where it is nourished by the daily doses of propaganda and becomes a monster growling and tossing and turning. John McCain promises to wage a  hundred year war against this phantom. His challenge will be to keep the fear alive for  one hundred years, with the enemy manufactured in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, which uses IEDs (improvised explosive devices),  striking fear into the hearts, needing expenditures of trillions of dollars on cruise missiles, navy and air force. At the present rate of expenditure the country will become bankrupt in a decade Its super power will evaporate, rendering it a country behind many in the power of arms as well as in economics. Remember Europe after the Second World War!. As McCain’s chances of winning the White House brighten with the passage of each day of Clinton-Obama campaign, the future of the country gets bleaker and the superpower gradually falls into a different prefix.

The Jewish Lobby is supposedly an overwhelming factor in American politics and the Muslim populace is overawed by the acumen of the Jews in advancing the cause of Israel.

In fact, Jews are more a victim of the arms industry’s avarice than are the Palestinians, or Arabs or Muslims. The conflict in the Middle East is the bonanza the industry can ill-afford to lose. It sells trillions of dollars of arms to both the sides. What is ironic is that the Saudis and the Gulf countries buy arms, thanks to the agencies of the princes, which they never have to use. The Jewish lobby is foolishly working against itself, in so far as it tries to maintain status quo. Peace in the Middle East is not in the interest of America, at least not in the interests of the industry. Both, the Jews and the Palestinians are expendable. Israel is sitting on a powder keg; history is not on its side and the Jews are smart enough to know it

Now a word about ourselves: We need no enemy on the way to humiliation and shame; our mouths will take us there. Let me illustrate this with two examples. Some of us Islamic stereotypes make a fool of ourselves by throwing quotes from scriptures, out of place. Such uneducated and stupid diatribes show us in a very bad light.

Every Muslim child knows that a Muslim may not kill nor harm anyone, who is not in armed conflict with us. And there are those who say, without any proof, that 9/11 was planned and executed by Jews or the agents of the U.S. government. Such are opiate gossipers, whose preponderance in the Muslim community presents a serious challenge to our educators.

 

10-27

Syrian President’s India Visit

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS

NEW DELHI – Opening a new chapter in India-Syria relations, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was here last week on a five-day state visit (June 17-21). It was his maiden trip to India and the first by a Syrian president during the past three decades. His father Hafez al-Assad had visited India in 1978. Assad’s visit assumes importance in context of Syria’s “Look East” policy and emerging rise of India as an important power on the global stage.

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Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with the media in New Delhi June 19, 2008. Bashar is on a five-day state visit to India.

REUTERS/B Mathur

 

Accompanied by his wife and a large delegation, including several ministers and senior officials, Assad arrived here on Tuesday evening. His official engagements began the next day with his being accorded a formal reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. He was received at the Rashtrapati Bhawan by President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Ahead of his talks with Indian leaders, Assad said: “We have a lot of things to talks about. There are a lot of expectations from a rising India. We expect to have cooperation on many different issues, fight terrorism and increase trade relations between Syria and India.”

While addressing a press conference on Thursday, Assad said that Syria is keen on India playing a “big role in the Middle East peace process because it has credibility.”  “India has good relations with both US and Israel and anyone who wants to play a role has to have that credibility. India has that credibility because of its traditional support for the Arab cause as well as good relations with Israel,” he said.

When asked about Syria’s relations with United States, Assad replied that his country was keen on good ties with Washington, “But that does not mean we have to be puppets.” “We look forward to good relations with US as its role for the peace process in the Middle East is very important. Unfortunately, this US administration is not interested in peace. We will have to wait for the next one,” he said.

Ruling out direct talks between him and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, on sidelines of an international summit to be held in Paris next month, Assad said: “This is not like drinking tea. The meeting between me and the Israeli prime minister will be meaningless without technocrats, who are experts, laying the foundation.” “Only sending signals with no real result is meaningless,” Assad told reporters.

Assad and Olmert will be in Paris for launch of a new Mediterranean Union to be announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on July 13. His comments on rejecting direct talks with Israel are in response to Israeli President Shimon Peres having called on Syria on last Sunday for direct talks. Peres cited the example of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat having forged a peace deal with Israel.

Direct talks with Israel are unlikely before 2009, according to Assad, which are also dependent on fate of Olmert, who has to take care of calls for his resignation over a graft scandal. 

Syria and Israel recently announced launch of their indirect peace talks, with Turkey as the mediator, after an eight-year freeze. The two countries’ last round of negotiations on Golan Heights broke down in 2000. Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Israel annexed it in 1981, a move that is not recognized by the international community.

Indirect Syria-Israel talks and the Arab-brokered agreement in the Qatari capital Doha that led to election of former army chief Michel Sleiman as Lebanese president “were positive changes” in the region, Assad said.

“There is a glimmer of hope now. There are positive changes that make picture more positive,” Assad said. Nevertheless, he pointed out that if these developments were not backed with the right steps, the situation in the region could worsen again.

The ongoing conflicts in the region, including Palestine, Lebanon and the indirect talks between Syria and Israel, should be treated as one, Assad asserted. “All three should be negotiated together as one is related to the other and we are all interlinked,” he said.

On Iraq, Assad said that stability and peace of the country were as crucial as its “disintegration,” which could have a “domino effect” not just in the Middle East but all of Asia, he said.

“We are going to help in the peace initiatives. We can also help in Iraq. But it depends on Americans whether they want to see real and viable solutions to these problems,” Assad said.

Syria is now chair of six-member Arab League.

Stressing that Iran had the same right as any other country to peaceful use of nuclear technology, in keeping with international rules and laws, Assad urged direct talks between US and Iran.

The highlight of Assad’s visit was his one-to-one meeting with Singh as well as delegation level talks between the two countries (June 18). “The talks covered the entire gamut of bilateral and international relations with focus on trade and energy issues. The Middle East peace process also figured in the talks,” a spokesman for Indian foreign office said.

Inking of accords on mutual promotion and protection of investment, avoidance of double taxation and prevention of tax evasion, and improving cooperation in agriculture followed the talks.

At a luncheon meeting with Indian business community, Assad laid stress that the problem of food prices can be tackled only through global cooperation. “The challenges in energy and environment, rising food prices and health epidemics – globalization has shown us that no nation can afford to confront these without dialogue, cooperation and global partnership,” he said.

Laying stress on Syria’s willingness to seek help from India in the field of infrastructure development, Assad said: “I invite you to explore opportunities for joint ventures and other collaboration in major areas including infrastructure development, energy production, mineral processing, information technology education and training opportunities.”

Drawing attention to growth of Syrian economy to 6.6 percent in 2007 from one percent in 2000, Assad said: “Syria will continue to build on these successes in the coming years with further reform and strong partnerships,” he said.

Among the leaders who called on Assad were Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and leader of opposition L.K. Advani. President Patil hosted the official banquet in Assad’s honor at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Assad’s visit included a trip to Agra to see Taj Mahal and a daylong tour of Bangalore, where he visited the information technology establishments as well as the Indian Space Research Organization. His visit “further consolidated the excellent relations that exist between India and Syria and identified new areas of bilateral cooperation,” Indian sources said.

10-27

The Islam You Don’t Hear About

A trip to Indonesia home to more than 200 million Muslims reveals a faith that hardly resembles the one Americans have come to know in the blood-soaked years since 9/11.

Courtesy Stephen Prothero, USA Today

[Stephen Prothero is the chair of the department of religion at Boston University and the author of Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know And Doesn’t.]

After the 9/11 attacks, Americans put out a call for moderate Islam. Many Muslims answered that call, but few Americans heard them. Early this month, I traveled to Asia to see what Islam looks like on the ground there, and to listen to what Muslims themselves have to say about their religion, terrorism and the United States. What I found surprised me.

I went to Asia because Islam is by no means a Middle Eastern phenomenon. In fact, Asia is home to most of the world’s Muslims. I focused on Indonesia because there are more Muslims in Indonesia than in any other country roughly three times as many as in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

But what makes Indonesia strategically important to the United States is not simply its huge Muslim population (roughly 200 million) but the fact that Indonesian Muslims are by no means anti-Western.

There are fundamentalists in Indonesia, to be sure, but they account for roughly one in every 10 citizens there. The overwhelming majority of Indonesia’s Muslims are moderates, and about one in five are progressives.

Fundamentalists typically want to see their countries follow the path of Saudi Arabia or Iran in instituting an Islamic legal code referred to as shariah.

Moderates and progressives typically favor the separation of mosque and state, and they enthusiastically affirm democracy. Progressives distinguish themselves from moderates by speaking out more forcefully for religious pluralism and equal rights for women, and by drawing more generously on the thinking of intellectuals from Europe, Latin America and the USA.

The fringe, not the core

Although scholars might quibble about these definitions and the portion of the Indonesian public to assign to each, what is plain is that in Indonesia fundamentalism is fringe. A survey released in May by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute observes that “Islamist parties have failed to attract votes” in Indonesia, which “today has one of the world’s most successful track records in combating terrorism.”

The Muslims I spoke with during my visit to Yogyakarta, a cultural and intellectual center of this vast island archipelago, came from both the moderate and progressive wings. All are eagerly adapting Islam to local circumstances, mixing its ancient traditions with those of their own. They see no conflict between Islam and civil society.

During my days in Indonesia, I did not see a single woman covered from head to foot in the chador so characteristic of Iran, and in the rural areas I visited many women did not wear any head covering at all. According to “Who Speaks for Islam?” a Gallup poll of Muslims worldwide released earlier this year, 88% of Indonesians believe that a woman should be allowed to do any job for which she is qualified. In Indonesia, I heard about female imams (prayer leaders) and about marriages between Christians and Muslims. Repeatedly, I was told that Muslims reject any coercion in religion, that they view not only Jews and Christians as fellow “people of the book” but Hindus and Buddhists as well.

Religious pluralism, especially, seems a key concept here, where the influences of Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity have wafted across Indonesia’s 17,000-plus islands for centuries. Why did God create the world? According to the principle of an Islamic school in Yogyakarta, it’s because God prefers multiplicity to unity because “difference is good.”

The Muslims I encountered scoff at any notion of a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West. Any clash of civilizations that exists, they tell me, is between fundamentalists of all faiths and their liberal and moderate opponents. And in that clash, the vast majority of Americans are in common cause with the vast majority of Indonesians.

During my visit to Indonesia, Muslims pointed out many important commonalities between our two countries. Both are huge geographically. Both have ethnically and racially diverse populations. Both provide constitutional guarantees for religious freedom.

Barack Obama clinched the Democratic Party nomination while I was in Indonesia, and everyone I met wanted to talk about him. Indonesians are rooting for Obama not because he is some secret Muslim (they know he is a Christian) but because he spent some of his formative years in their capital city of Jakarta. One of my Indonesian interviewees, citing a local tradition of how family networks can be extended not only through marriage but also through political regimes, went so far as to suggest that if Obama is elected, Americans and Indonesians will become kin.

During my interviews, I always asked what Indonesians would like to convey to Americans about Islam. Repeatedly, my interlocutors returned to the question of war and peace. “Islam is not about violence,” they told me. “Islam is not terrorism. Islam is peace.”

Justice. Equality. Democracy.

This did not surprise me. What did surprise me was how American all these people sounded. I heard repeatedly about equality and democracy and humanitarianism and tolerance and reason and human rights, as if I were speaking with 21st century reincarnations of America’s Founders. When I asked Zuli Qodir, an intellectual of a highly popular moderate group called Muhammadiyah, what Islam is all about, he began with, “Islam is justice. And equality. And democracy.”

Just before I left, a progressive student activist in Yogyakarta went so far as to assert that in some respects, “the American people are more Islamic than the Indonesian people.” While political corruption is endemic in Indonesia, he explained, Americans respect the rule of law, viewing such corruption as something to be rooted out rather than something to be tolerated.

Americans have good reasons to be apprehensive about Islam. Islamic radicals bombed two nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia, in October 2002, killing 202 people. And the men who hijacked three jets on 9/11 shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) as they steered those planes toward their targets.

But jihadists are one thing, and ordinary Muslims are quite another.

Americans of good will know this. What we also need to know is that in the fight against Islamic radicalism, one of our key allies could be Islam itself.

10-27

NATO: 6,000 Troops Urgently Needed in Afghanistan

BERLIN (Reuters) – Up to 6,000 additional troops are urgently needed in Afghanistan and a failure to deploy them will only prolong the presence of Western forces in the country, a German NATO general said on Sunday.

Egon Ramms told public radio station Deutschlandfunk that alliance members would end up paying a price later if they did not boost troop numbers now.

“We are talking about a total of 5,000, 6,000 soldiers,” Ramms said. “We need these soldiers now, very soon, because we need to hold specific areas, we need to win over Afghanistan’s citizens and because at some point, in 2010, 2011 or 2012 we will want to hand over responsibility to Afghan forces.

Roughly 60,000 foreign troops are in Afghanistan, most of them part of the NATO-led International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), but security has deteriorated over the past two years.

Some 6,000 people were killed in 2007, the deadliest year since U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in 2007.

“The troops that I don’t have now could lead to delays in the withdrawal of NATO and ISAF,” Ramms said. “In other words, the costs that are not being paid now will have a negative impact on the bottom line at some point.”

Ramms declined to say how many additional German troops he thought were necessary, but said Germany should increase the number of troops it can send to Afghanistan from a fixed ceiling of 3,500.

The parliamentary mandate for German troops operating in Afghanistan is due to expire in October and Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung is expected to request an increase of at least 1,000 in the troop limit.

(Writing by Noah Barkin)

 

10-27

Tea Time Is Any Time!

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS

The British occupation of the Persian Gulf in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had a lasting effect on the whole region. The British concept of ‘tea time’ took hold and is still in force all over the Middle East, with Turkey being one of the World’s major tea consumers. It does not matter which Gulf nation you find yourself in. Tea and tea paraphernalia like pots, thermoses and tiny glasses can be seen out on the streets in the most unlikely places!

Gulf families habitually carry a full tea set with them whenever they are away from home even if they are only embarking upon a shopping excursion or a day at the zoo. It does not matter if it is winter or the scorching summer. Most families in the Gulf can be seen sitting on any patch of grass or open desert they can find enjoying the piping hot amber concoction. The most famous tea in the region is Ceylon tea while the most readily and inexpensive brand available in the Middle East is Lipton. Even if you cannot read Arabic, corner stores and restaurants often display the yellow Lipton brand tag proudly either as a part of their shop sign or else on a tiny placard in their window.

tt Arabs have got their teatime down to a simple ritual. The water is boiled and the loose Ceylon tea leaves are left to steep until the liquid turns to a rich amber color. Forget about mugs, all true Gulf tea aficionados use tiny little tea glasses and stainless steel spoons that are equally small. The tea glasses are filled and served with a pot of sugar so that each person can adjust the sweetness. You’ll never hear the phrase ‘pass the milk’ either, as tea is preferred black, with just a bit of sugar or honey. And, unlike the British, Gulf Arabs prefer the tea on its own without any calorie-laden sweets or savories.

In the Gulf, tea is always available and quite often placed in your hand without you even ordering it. It is considered good manners to offer someone a cup of tea even if they are simply popping into your store to make a quick purchase. Most major businesses employ one or more ‘tea boys’ (in reality men) to ensure that tea is always on hand. Tea making is a profitable profession in the Gulf as ‘tea boys’ are always wanted in restaurants, hotels, offices and anywhere else the public congregates. They often carry trays of tea through the streets to deliver to eager and thirsty customers. Most ‘tea boys’ pour between 300-500 glasses of tea per day. Their salaries are often 50% higher than other persons working in the service industries, like maids and chauffeurs, despite the work being very light.

Even the poorest of the poor in Iraq and Afghanistan have their daily intake of tea, which is quite often several glasses. Even if there is no other food on the table, the teapot will always be there ready to pour another glass. The love affair with tea will go on even despite inflation and price gouging which is in full swing in most Gulf States as a result of the high oil revenues.

So if you by chance find yourself in the Gulf one day and pass someone and hear the clanking of glasses emanating from their bag you’ll know they’ve got their tea with them!

10-27

The Return to Patriarchy

By Elder George

Self-propagation and preservation comprise the activity of the universe. The societal grouping that enables this activity consists of the male, female and their offspring, and the larger societal structure of similar species. Extended family or tribe is the natural gathering together of humankind just as the herd, flock, troop, school, and pride are for the animal world. Patriarchy—the natural gender relationship of the species—provides the structure for these groupings.

All customs, practices, mores, and rites have to do with the propagation and preservation of the species. Males provide the environment and means for females to bring forth life and nurture it. Mating rituals and cultural practices provide for the selection of mates that will produce offspring most likely survive, grow, and evolve into protectors and nurturers of the next generation.

The patriarchal societal structure develops a sense of cooperation, responsibility, and consideration of all members. It provides feelings of togetherness and belongingness, which in turn gives people a sense of security. It develops proper social behavior and the courtesies that enable a smooth inter-relationship with the larger social order.

People become attuned to nature and the delicate interdependence of all life. They evolve spiritually as they develop a sense of something that exists behind which they see. They begin to understand that chance or accident does not occur in the universe and that behind all occurrences there lies a cause. They begin to worship the underlying principle of all life and realize that it provides all that they see and experience.

The tribal structure provides material and emotional security along with spiritual growth and understanding. The tribe or family represents the natural universal patriarchal structure, which has survived for millennia. Great empires have come and gone, famine and drought have ravaged the lands, but in the end patriarchy always survives.

A scourge that originated in Europe and has spread westward now encompasses the world. It has a grossly materialistic psyche that believes in self-glorification and self-indulgence. It has no understanding of the delicate balance of nature, nor of the unseen force behind it. It has created government to supplant the natural patriarchal order. Marriage has declined and divorce and adultery have increased. The State has removed all manly authority and incarcerates men at a phenomenal rate. Children are neglected and raised by the State, and the aged are removed from society. Women are breaking down mentally, physically and emotionally due to the unnatural environment in which they function. Depression, mental illness, and a national angst have become the norm as society degenerates and implodes.

These conditions have been forecast by prophets in all lands and are known as the end of times, Armageddon, or the end of the age. The scourge will self-destruct as does everything that functions out of harmony with creation. When its influence passes a new era of traditional values will return.

Family will once again become the focus of societal activity and the propagation and preservation of the species will become the paramount concern of people. The obeisance to matters material will cease and the ubiquitous and all intrusive government will be gone. An understanding of the one God will increase as the new age unfolds.  

Elder George’s website is www.mensaction.net and he can be reached at 212-874-7900 ext. 1329.

 

10-27

Our Civic and Moral Responsibility

By Farhan Bhatti

As election season kicks in to full gear, I find myself interested in not just what the candidates are saying and doing, but also what ordinary American Muslims are saying and doing in response.  The American Muslim community has a long and proud legacy of shooting itself in the foot when it comes to participating in the political process and gaining clout as a result.

To illustrate this point, I look no further than a recent exchange on a MAS e-mail group.  The debate was not centered on which candidate offered a better hope for the future, what the best avenues were for civic involvement, or what campaign issues deserved our utmost attention.  Instead, the debate centered on whether it was even permissible, or halal, to participate in the American political system.  It seems every election cycle, there are those in our community – many of whom were born here and have benefitted mightily by the decisions that have come out of that political system – who argue that our religion forbids political involvement in America.  As someone who is building toward a career in politics, this to me is not only categorically absurd, but it also challenges the very livelihood I seek to pursue later in life. 

Muslims who think it is impermissible to be involved in politics argue that we should refrain from voting because “we will be taken to account in the Hereafter for choosing to support the killing” of fellow Muslims.  They argue that because Allah’s system is perfect, we should only operate under shariah and call others to it instead of operating under the system of “non-believers.”  These arguments, taken at their core, make it impossible to live in any country not governed by Islamic law. 

As Muslims, we do indeed believe that Islam is the best system.  But we do not live in a Muslim country, nor do we live in a theocracy.  When you have Muslims living in a non-Muslim country, Islam does not preclude Muslims from getting involved in the affairs of that country for the betterment of that society.  This is, actually, a form of da’wah because as more Muslims become involved in society, the misconstrued images and stereotypes that some Americans have in their minds about Muslims will begin to be eradicated.  We will not succeed in attracting people to Islam if we stay stubborn or arrogant by saying, as someone on the MAS e-mail list suggested, “Our way is the best way.  Follow us because you are all drowning in quick sand.”

Islam very clearly states that there is no compulsion in religion.  Americans have the right, and Senators Obama and McCain have the right, to choose not to be Muslim.  This does not mean, however, that we as Muslims are not supposed to associate with them or work with them because they made that choice.  We have proof, in the example of the Prophet (s), to support this claim.  Islam did not preclude Muslims from making treaties with the kuffar.  It did not preclude the Prophet (s) from defending a group of idol worshippers with whom he had made a treaty.  It did not preclude the Prophet (s) from sending his people to a country governed by a Christian king to seek his protection.

Sure, the system we currently employ in this country is flawed.  Senator Obama’s campaign, and every campaign that came before him, has been predicated on the idea that the system is not perfect and that we must come together to achieve certain goals in order to turn our country into a “more perfect union.”  Even though he and 99% of all other politicians in this country are not Muslim, they still share with us a common humanity, and it is that common humanity that binds us together.

People who claim political involvement is haram do a disservice to all the Muslim men and women who are working diligently to make the kind of progress and take the kinds of strides we need to take in order for our voices and opinions to carry more weight in this country, our country.  It is fine to believe that perfection can only come through faith in God.  But because the system is not perfect does not in any way mean that we should be exempt from the responsibility to engage it, operate under it, and seek to improve it for the betterment of humanity.  If we cannot even move past the permissibility of participating in a government not governed by Islamic law, then we will without question fail in our goals of improving the image of Islam in the eyes of non-Muslims and improving the plight of everyone in this country – rich and poor, Muslim and non-Muslim.  One who feels it is against his or her religion to participate in the electoral process in this country cannot in good conscience continue to live in, prosper, and benefit from that same electoral process which has produced legislation making their education and success in this country possible.

 

10-27

Why We’re Suddenly Paying Through the Nose for Gas

Courtesy Michael T. Klare, The Nation

As the pain induced by higher oil prices spreads to an ever growing share of the American (and world) population, pundits and politicians have been quick to blame assorted villains — greedy oil companies, heartless commodity speculators and OPEC. It’s true that each of these parties has contributed to and benefited from the steep run-up. But the sharp growth in petroleum costs is due far more to a combination of soaring international demand and slackening supply — compounded by the ruinous policies of the Bush Administration — than to the behavior of those other actors.

Most, if not all, the damage was avoidable. Shortly after taking office, George W. Bush undertook a sweeping review of US energy policy aimed at expanding the nation’s supply of vital fuels. The “reality is the nation has got a real problem when it comes to energy,” he declared on March 14, 2001. “We need more sources of energy.” At that time many of the problems evident today were already visible. Energy demand in mature industrial nations was continuing to grow as the rising economic dynamos of Asia, especially China, were beginning to make an impact. By 2002 the Energy Department was predicting that China would soon overtake Japan, becoming the world’s second-largest petroleum consumer, and that developing Asia as a whole would account for about one-fourth of global consumption by 2020. Also evident was an unmistakable slowdown in the growth of world production, the telltale sign of an imminent “peaking” in global output [see Klare, “Beyond the Age of Petroleum,” November 12, 2007].

With these trends in mind, many energy experts urged the White House to minimize future reliance on oil, emphasize conservation and rapidly develop climate-friendly alternatives, especially renewables like wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels. But Dick Cheney, who was overseeing the energy review, would have none of this. “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue,” the Vice President famously declared in April 2001, “but it is not a sufficient basis…for sound, comprehensive energy policy.” After three months of huddling in secret with top executives of leading US energy companies, he released a plan on May 17 that, in effect, called for preserving the existing energy system, with its heavy reliance on oil, coal and natural gas.

Because continued reliance on oil would mean increased reliance on imported petroleum, especially from the Middle East, Bush sought to deflect public concern by calling for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other protected areas. As a result, most public discourse on the Bush/Cheney plan focused on drilling in ANWR, and no attention was paid to the implications of increased dependence on imported oil — even though oil from ANWR, in the most optimistic scenario, would reduce US need for imports (now about 60 percent) by just 4 percent.

But this produced another dilemma for Bush: increased reliance on imports meant increased vulnerability to disruptions in delivery due to wars and political upheavals. To address this danger, the Administration began planning for stepped-up military involvement in major overseas oil zones, especially the Persian Gulf. This was evident, for example, when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave early priority to enhancement of American “power projection” to areas of instability in the developing world. Then came 9/11 and the “war on terror” — giving the White House a perfect opportunity to accelerate the military expansion and to pursue other key objectives. High on the list was the elimination of Saddam Hussein, long considered the most potent challenger to US domination of the Gulf and its critical energy supplies.

But the invasion of Iraq — intended to ensure US control of the Gulf and a stable environment for the expanded production and export of its oil — has had exactly the opposite effect. Despite the many billions spent on oil infrastructure protection and the thousands of lives lost, production in Iraq is no higher today than it was before the invasion. Iraq has also become a rigorous training ground for extremists throughout the region, some of whom have now migrated to the oil kingdoms of the lower Gulf and begun attacking the facilities there — generating some of the recent spikes in prices.

Then there is the dilemma posed by Iran. With Saddam out of the picture, the Islamic regime in Tehran is viewed in Washington as the greatest threat to US mastery of the Gulf. This threat rests largely on Iran’s ability to attack oil shipping in the Gulf and ignite unrest among militant Shiite groups throughout the region, but its apparent pursuit of nuclear weapons has inflated the perceived menace significantly. To restrain Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Washington has imposed economic sanctions on Iran and forced key US allies to abandon plans for developing new oilfields there. As a result Iran, with the world’s second-largest reserves after Saudi Arabia, is producing only about half the oil it could — another reason for the global constriction of supply.

But the Administration’s greatest contribution to the rising oil prices is its steady stream of threats to attack Iran if it does not back down on the nuclear issue. The Iranians have made it plain that they would retaliate by attempting to block the flow of Gulf oil and otherwise cause turmoil in the energy market. Most analysts assume, therefore, that an encounter will produce a global oil shortage and prices well over $200 per barrel. It is not surprising, then, that every threat by Bush/Cheney (or their counterparts in Israel) has triggered a sharp rise in prices. This is where speculators enter the picture. Believing that a US-Iranian clash is at least 50 percent likely, some investors are buying futures in oil at $140, $150 or more per barrel, thinking they’ll make a killing if there’s an attack and prices zoom over $200.

It follows, then, that while the hike in prices is due largely to ever increasing demand chasing insufficiently expanding supply, the Bush Administration’s energy policies have greatly intensified the problem. By seeking to preserve our oil-based energy system at any cost, and by adding to the “fear factor” in international speculation through its bungled invasion of Iraq and bellicose statements on Iran, it has made a bad problem much worse.

What can be done to reverse this predicament? There is no realistic hope of substantially increasing the supply of oil — drilling in offshore US waters, as favored by President Bush and Senator John McCain, will not reverse the long-term decline in US production — so it is only by reducing demand that fundamental market forces can be addressed. This is best done through a comprehensive program of energy conservation, expanding public transit and accelerating development of energy alternatives. It will take time for some of these efforts to have an impact on prices; others, like reducing speed limits and adding bus routes, would have a more rapid effect. And if this Administration truly wanted to spare Americans further pain at the pump, there is one thing it could do that would have an immediate effect: declare that military force is not an acceptable option in the struggle with Iran. Such a declaration would take the wind out of the sails of speculators and set the course for a drop in prices.

Michael T. Klare, Nation defense correspondent, is professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College. His latest book is Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy.

 

10-27

Teach Your Children

By Bob Wood, MMNS

I begin this week’s installment with some anecdotal observations I have made, which might well serve as useful lessons to our younger friends, perhaps your children. Observing the financial self-sufficiency – or lack thereof — of too many of today’s older people provides opportunities that allow the young to learn — while they still have time to make needed changes in their own financial habits.

On occasion, I stop at a local coin shop to diversify my personal savings with small amounts of gold or silver bullion. The shop also buys scrap gold and silver from anyone wishing to sell. With today’s price of these metals much higher these days, sellers have become frequent visitors to the shop.

What concerns me is how often these sellers are older people — senior citizens, in many cases. And I can’t help but wonder why they are selling small pieces of metal or silver sets that hold intrinsic value. I wonder if those small treasures are the last things of value they own — and if they are being sold to raise cash for daily living needs.

Recently, one older man showed me a set of two gold cigarette lighters in an elegant case. I assume that they were quite fancy for lighters. He said that, since so few people use lighters any more, selling them for what they might be worth seemed smart. When told that his lighters were only gold plated and worth $10 for both, he sold them anyway.

I couldn’t help but wonder if he really needed that $10, maybe to buy food or gasoline, or did he sell them just so his trip to the dealer wouldn’t be a wasted one? What about the others in the shop who were selling old jewelry? Were these the last things they owned that held any value and could be easily sold?

At their ages, I reasoned, they had most likely worked for many years. Yet those small items may represent much of what is left, much of what represents the net results of their life’s work.

Having been bearish on our economy for the past couple years, I have been looking recently at shares of pawn shops as possible investments. (And speaking of bearish, by the way, with the S&P 500 index now sitting just about where it was in October 2006, I am feeling a sense of vindication for being bearish on the domestic stock market throughout the ensuing period.) Yet a news story I read this past week points out that many small pawn shops are going out of business! With the economy in the dumps and many people struggling to pay for food and gas, I never imagined that pawn shops wouldn’t survive in an environment that seems tailor-made for them.

The problem, apparently, is that, while many people are going to pawn shops to borrow money against their tools, jewelry and hand guns, not enough buyers are looking for deals on items not claimed and bought back by their owners. And those original owners probably settled for prices equaling just a fraction of the true values of their possessions.

The striking part of this story is how many people are searching their homes for items of value, which can be pawned for quick cash. For many people in this country, believed to be the richest on earth, too few workers and retirees seem to have accumulated sufficient wealth to help them through hard times.

Imagine yourself among the scores of people rummaging around your home for anything of value to sell for needed cash. Where would you look, and what would you sell first? How does it feel when you think of yourself in those shoes, even if this is only as a mental exercise?

Have you seen or heard the reports, too, about the number of savers who are withdrawing money from retirement savings accounts at work, such as 401(k) plans? I’ve read that those taking premature hardship withdrawals now approach 25% of participants. What makes this especially sad, according to the last figures I saw on the amounts invested in those plans, is that the average saver over the age of 50 has about $60,000 put away for retirement. And part of that amount will be claimed by the government in the form of taxes when the owner initiates retirement withdrawal.

Even more disturbing are recent reports about the rising rate of bankruptcies among senior homeowners. That demographic has seen an increase in bankruptcy filings of more than 300% in recent months.

Can you imagine how that must feel? Can you envision going to your local court house, standing before a group of people you don’t know, and explaining to a judge that the end result of your life’s work amounts to a negative number? After working hard for 30 or 40 years, you have less than nothing to show for it?

I hazard a guess that virtually none of these people ever imagined ending up in such dire financial straits when approaching their ‘’golden years.’’ How many at age 25 or 30 ever imagines that their lives will end in poverty? No one dreams of the day they will move into a run-down mobile home park, yet millions of retirees do.

I feel safe in assuming that those now in dire financial situations would speak of their regrets for failing to plan ahead for later life. How much of what they earned should have been set aside in a savings account or their company-sponsored plan? How many wish they hadn’t chosen to live above their means, borrowing too much money to help pay for a bigger house than they could really afford or a big, shiny new car that made them feel good – as good as their neighbors and friends?

If I had children, I would talk with them about saving. First, I would take some time to congratulate myself for having lived through the experience of raising them, as should any of you who have them. Then I would sit down with them, look them right in the eye and make sure I had their attention.

Then I would explain the facts of financial life and what they should expect when they get older. I might take a page from those ‘’scared straight’’ programs for juvenile delinquents — where the young offenders are taken to a real jail and put in the same room with real inmates to get a first-hand look at what the future may hold for them if they don’t get the message in time.

I might take my children to one of the older, run-down mobile home parks and have them visit inside a couple of them, talking to those who live there and how they came to live in such demoralizing ways. Then I might take them to the local court house to watch a day’s worth of bankruptcy hearings to see how many others find themselves in bad shape financially. I would make sure my children understood that living within their means, saving money and staying healthy were their best options for attaining happiness, self respect and dignity when they become older and too tired to keep working.

For too many seniors today, financial insolvency is real – and, I must assume, painful. Surely, those who failed regret that they did not manage their finances prudently. I am sure all of them would love a second chance to go back and start over again, armed with the knowledge they came upon far too late in life.

But your kids have that second chance now. They can benefit greatly by seeing how too many others are faring today in this, the ‘’richest country on earth.’’
Teach your children about saving, budgeting and living within, rather than above, their means. They’ll likely roll their eyes, yawn or stubbornly tell you that they ‘’get it.’’ But you must make the effort. Many seniors now they wish that someone had sat them down and told them loudly about these important lessons — while there was still time to adjust their financial behavior.

The old song goes, ‘’Regrets, I’ve had a few,’’ and, hey, we all do. But don’t let “saving for that rainy day” be among them. Teach your children now, and know you’ve done your financial education job as a parent.

Have a great week.
Bob

Bob Wood ChFC, CLU Yusuf Kadiwala. Registered Investment Advisors, KMA, Inc., invest@muslimobserver.com.

SE Michigan (V10-I27)

P6217254

Dearborn’s 13th Annual Arab American International Festival Rained Out

P6217218 Dearborn–June 21–Thunderstorms seemingly came from nowhere on Saturday in Dearborn, soaking or chasing away many of the customers who had come not only from Dearborn but also from farther afield, intending to bask in the summer Arab festival which is anxiously awaited by many Muslims and Arabs in the Detroit area.

The festival was as it has been for the previous three years, other than the thunderstorm which struck at about 1:30pm Saturday.

Vendors were on hand from major local businesses, the army, national guard, P6217246intelligence services, local mosques, and several Arab ethnic organizations, each paying about $500 to have a booth at the festival.

Mohamed Abueida of Scada Systems, an international company based in Abu Dhabi which sells closed-circuit cameras of all types, said he had maintained a booth at the festival for the last 3 years, and said, attending the festival has “worked really good with our community–60% of our business is with the Arab community.” 

Another booth, that of the Young Muslims Association (YMA) affiliated with Ford road’s Islamic Center of America, was staffed by Mariam Zaiat.  She explained,  “We cater to the youth; we’re here to answer questions as well, but not necessary to get caught up in debates.”

P6217237 Perhaps 75% of the vendors were at the event for non-financial reasons, whether for recruiting, da’wah for varying organizations,  or even to promote the dietary benefits of the sunnah of eating honey.

In addition there were about 10 different food vendors, selling halal hot dogs and shawarma, french fries, and much P6217282more.  There were rides including a roller coaster and other speed rides of different kinds.

All-day all-ride passes were available for $20 per person. Plan a visit next year with your children, and pray for good weather!

P621728410-27

Community News (V10-I27)

Muslim man shot in Cleveland

Cleveland,OH–Police and FBI officials are investigating whether the shooting of a man at a Cleveland gas station was a hate crime.

The Cleveland Chapter Council on American Islamic Relations says some people were mocking 49-year-old Fazliddin Yakubov right before he was shot three times in the lower abdomen while pumping gas Friday night.

Yakubov is a native of Uzbekistan who is Muslim.

A hospital spokeswoman said Yakubov remained in critical condition Wednesday.

No arrests have been made. The shooting was caught on tape and the FBI is investigating if it was a hate crime.

Syed Ali Named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year(R) 2008 Award

Cavium Networks, a leading provider of semiconductor products that enable intelligent processing for networking, communications, storage, wireless, and security applications, today announced that Cavium Networks’ Chairman and CEO, Syed Ali, was named winner of the prestigious Ernst & Young Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008 award for Northern California. According to Ernst & Young LLP, the award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who are building and leading dynamic, growing businesses. Mr. Ali was selected by an independent panel of judges, and the award was presented at a gala event at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco on June 21, 2008.

community“I am honored to receive this prestigious award from Ernst & Young,” said Syed Ali, Chairman and CEO of Cavium Networks. “This award is a culmination of the tremendous effort and dedication of the entire team at Cavium. We look forward to continue delivering world-class products to the market and building a leading semiconductor company.”

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards celebrate their 22nd anniversary this year. The program honors entrepreneurs who have demonstrated exceptionality in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

“Ernst & Young is pleased to honor outstanding business leaders such as Syed Ali,” said Rick Fezell, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Program Director for the Northern California. “Award recipients of the Entrepreneur Of The Year award build leading businesses and contribute a great deal to the communities around them. Their success helps our area grow stronger.”

As a Northern California award recipient, Mr. Syed Ali is now eligible for consideration for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008 national program. Award recipients in several national categories, as well as the overall national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award recipient, will be announced at the annual awards gala in Palm Springs, California on November 15, 2008. The awards are the culminating event of the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies.

Scaled down mosque plans still draw criticism

WALLINGFORD, CT–The move to downsize the mosque planned for Leigus Road in Wallingford  was meant to be conciliatory, but the battle lines over the proposal have only become more pronounced, the Record Journal reported.

When it was announced two weeks ago  that the plan would be withdrawn in exchange for a smaller mosque proposal, residents in the audience launched a noisy protest.

The Town Hall auditorium was packed with mosque supporters and residents carrying signs stating “No Mosque on Leigus.” A couple of residents carried signs urging the commission to keep Leigus residential. People on both sides brought their children to the meeting.

Leigus Road area residents were upset by the surprise announcement that the earlier plan for a stand-alone, 4,900-square-foot mosque had been withdrawn.
“If anything, it makes opposition to this stronger,” said Craig Fishbein, a vocal opponent of the plan.

Prior to the announcement, Tariq Farid, who is proposing the mosque, spoke at length about his plans and frustrations with the neighborhood opposition.

At the meeting Tuesday, Farid said the signs protesting the mosque could have been more innocuous. He also complained that residents did not reach out to work with him when he held a community meeting about the project. He said his efforts to work with the neighborhood have not worked out.

“I was trying to turn around and show the neighbors that I’m willing to compromise, but I don’t think they will turn around and work with us,” Farid said.
But while Farid said he is willing to compromise, finding another site – as many neighbors have suggested – is “not an option.” Farid said he has the right to build, so long as he meets local zoning requirements.

10-27

Israel’s Much Practiced War On Iran; The Impact On Oil, Food, Jobs, And Our Humanity

By Charles Carlson

Should we reject and resist the reality that we live in a war-based economy? Our international banker and industrialist dominated political leaders will stoop to any deception to keep us oblivious of this simple fact of our economic life. They have made us dependent upon what we have come to call “serial wars.”

Now we are paying back the cost of warring, and $4.19 per gallon gasoline and $5.00 per gallon milk, and it is no fun for we consumers. Is the answer more war? Some of us must also consider this question from a humanitarian or “Christian” perspective…are you one of these?

We consumers should be able to see through the fog of words when crude oil is at $136.00 per barrel and the state of Israel is, with obvious US support, practicing for a military attack on Iran, the next biggest oil producer on Israel’s list of enemies. This is to be the next phase of the world war on Islam that began with oil rich Iraq in 1991.

Israel’s bombing of Syria last September was a practice run and we were too busy to notice, a stepping stone for an unprovoked raid on Iran, using US military machines with tactical support from us, though our leaders will pretend otherwise.

A business plan has just now been released to divide up Iraq’s oil among the same three giant international oil companies who were kicked out of Iran in 1972. It is fool hardy to doubt that this is also the pattern for Iran.

Politicians and media tell us that Muslims are scheming against us. We hear this from the same people who sold the “weapons of mass destruction” fairy tale five years ago. It’s the same claim being made by the same pretenders for the same purpose only, the target and the tactic is different, last time the target was Iraq…this time it’s Iran.

U.S. launched both attacks on Iraq while Israel watched; this time Israel has signaled that it will carry out the attack on Iran while the USA pretends disengagement. This will happen unless it is arrested by an immediate public outcry.

The White House has already signaled that it makes no objection to Israel’s publicized plans to bomb substantial industrial plants in Iran. It must be understood that Israel acts only with U.S. approval, because we pay all the costs, and then some. The “bomb Iran” threat has been tossed around for two years. We have become weary of hearing people cry wolf. But now there is smoke.

Signposts to war

One big hint of war is found in the marketplace in $124.bbl oil. When the oil prices are already too high (out of line with refined products which are much to low) and running still higher, it is probably because someone with a lot of money is very concerned about the supply being cut off, and is buying oil for future delivery. Big insider bankers and industrialists know. If we stop the pending war in Iran the price of oil will drop!

The fattest hint that the Warmakers are attempting to again fool the public went almost unnoticed on September 6, 2007, but the event is not over. Israel claimed it had discovered and destroyed a weapon of mass destruction, not in Iraq, but at a place called Al Kibar in Eastern Syria. Israel’s raid had a purpose other than blowing up a building that looked like an old high school. The only logical purpose of this act was to create the illusion that Israel has a better spy system than the rest of the world, and is capable of finding nukes when others are sure there were none. Israel bombed this building in Syria as a stepping stone to bloody destruction in Iran. We are supposed to be convinced that Israel’s spies can find weapons of mass destruction in Iran where UN and world known nuclear experts overlook them, and then destroy them without a trace, all to protect us from “Muslims.”

Many of us remember the televised holocaust over Baghdad when America unleashed “shock and awe” on the people of Iraq. Iraqis were supposed to be a threat to us. They also happened to have a lot of oil. The new target, a country with a sound-alike name, Iran, also happens to have a lot of oil.
We must learn to view Israel not as a small religious state trying to survive in a hostile neighborhood, but as a nuclear armed pit bull for the world Zionists, with the U.S. holding the leash. Washington does not need to send a message ordering Israel to attack; all it has to do is loosen the choke chain that holds Israel’s nuclear military back. Just look at Israel’s record of attacking its neighbors.

The long-planned attack on Iran’s industrial sites will be fast and violent, perhaps nuclear. Then Mr. Bush can retire to write books. He might first gently reprimand Israel when it becomes known that they kill too many civilians. Israel has announced its air force is already training for bombing Iran.

Do Iran and Syria want to be nuclear? Every leader worth his salt should desire nuclear power, and all that can afford it should have it because there is not enough oil. Syria is mineral poor and buys its oil as we do.

Conclusion

We can stop this newest, but not so clever, scheme for war upon Islam, which also translates into war on our money, gas and food, and our very sense of humanity. We must use the internet as aggressively and wisely as politicians use it. If this added tragedy happens, it is because Americans allow it.
If you agree with us maybe you should help us do it! You might ask; “where do I start, where can I have influence?”

Is your church or synagogue standing up for peace? Those who claim life is sacred should be shouting against war. Ask your congregation leaders if Arab lives are sacred too, and ask him why you have to ask to know what he thinks, why didn’t he tell you on Sunday?

Charles E Carlson is a minister with We Hold These Truths, Project Strait Gate Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. The church web address is http://www.whtt.org.

 

10-27

Houstonian Corner (V10-I27)

Port of Houston celebrated the 6th Anniversary of Small Business Development Program

What is Port of Houston? It is Number One in U.S. in foreign import tonnage and 2nd in overall tonnage; 10th largest port in world; 2nd largest petrochemical complex in world; 215 million tons of cargo; 150 public & private terminals; 7,057 ships annually and 150,000 barge calls. These were some of the statistics presented by the Port of Houston Authority (PHA) Commissioner James Edmonds and Executive Director Thomas Kornegay, as the PHA celebrated the 6th Anniversary of the “Small Business Development Program of PHA”.

Mistress of the Ceremonies was Melinda Spaulding, Anchor at KRIV Fox 26 News. Prominent speakers on the occasion included the Honorable Ed Emmett, Harris County Judge; Honorable Sylvia Garcia, Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 2; Honorable Sue Lovell, Vice Mayor Pro-Tem City of Houston Council and Kase Lawal, PHA Commissioner and Chairman of Small Business Task Force. In attendance were several elected officials, their staff members, special guests and prominent entrepreneurs of the region.

Through reciprocate and easy Small Business Certification Process, this program called “Small Businesses Doing BIG Business” is structured. With an application, the certifications from one of these agencies, namely the City of Houston, Houston Minority Business Council, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, U.S. Small Business Administration and Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance, is acceptable for enrolling with PHA.

Commissioner James Edmonds and Executive Director Thomas Kornegay informed that over $203.70 million worth of projects have been given to Small Enterprises’ since the inception of the program six years ago. This would mean 37% of small business participation in PHA projects. More than 1,100 small businesses are registered in the program and it is increasing every day.

Terence Cheng of TSC, Inc. and Gary Crouch of Crouch Environmental Services, Inc. were given special recognition as the “Biz Champions’ for Year 2007”.
Honorable Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said that over the years with ever increasing trade via PHA, the port has changed the very economic and social fabric of the region and the best change of all is that Small Business can now do Big Business with PHA.

Specials at 4th of July Houston ISNA Convention: Faiyaz Merchant

Theme of the ISNA’s Regional Convention in Houston over the July 4th weekend is: “Muslims in the Public Square: Spiritual and Institutional Development”. This was informed by social and entrepreneurial personality of the Houston community Faiyaz Merchant, as he further mentioned about certain specials during the conference. Like for instance, people can come for “No Charge” to see the excellent Bazaar during this upcoming ISNA Regional Convention at Houston’s Westin Galleria July 04 till July 06. Also those businesses, who offer specialized services and do not have products to sell on site at the Convention Bazaar like Clinics, Hospitals, Engineering Consultants, Business Opportunity Consultants, Media, etc. can have Vendor Booths for FREE at the Biz Arena during the Convention starting with Friday Prayers on July 04 and going all the way till Zuhr Prayers on Sunday July 06. For more information, call 281-748-9705.

During the Convention, nationally recognized and distinguished scholars and speakers like Ingrid Mattson, Sheikh Abdalla Idris Ali, Muneer Fareed, Sayyid Syeed, Louay Safi, Rodwan Saleh, Yahia Rahman, Mahmood El-Gamal, Monem Salam, Mohamed El-Moctar El-Shinqiti, Ibrahim Dremali, Dr. Laeeq Khan, Dr. Mazhar Kazi, Ubaid Qazi and many others. Registration is reasonable.

 

For more information, visit www.isna.net

10-27

Obama: McCain Will Leave Cities Poor

By Caren Bohan

MIAMI (Reuters) – White House hopeful Barack Obama on Saturday accused his rival John McCain of favoring budget policies that would leave cities unable to pay for critical projects like flood-prevention systems and highways.

The Republican candidate’s campaign shot back that Obama’s attack was “beyond the pale” and said the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee had opposed a move to put crucial flood-protection projects on a fast track over other spending.

“When it comes to rebuilding America’s essential but crumbling infrastructure, we need to do more, not less,” Obama, an Illinois senator, told the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“Cities across the Midwest are under water right now or courting disaster not just because of the weather, but because we’ve failed to protect them.”

The U.S. Midwest has seen its worst flooding in 15 years, with Iowa at the disaster’s epicenter. A rush of water from the Mississippi River overcame more than two dozen levees this week, leaving towns and vast stretches of prime farmland submerged or at risk of flooding from Iowa to Missouri.

The storms and flooding, which have caused 24 deaths, recalled Hurricane Katrina of 2005 and the Minnesota bridge collapse of 2007 and have prompted calls for more infrastructure spending.

‘Pork’

Obama said McCain’s budget policies would not leave enough room to help cities and states fund infrastructure needs. Obama and McCain are running as their party’s standard-bearers in the November election.

“Both Senator McCain and I have traveled to the areas that have been devastated by floods. I know that Senator McCain felt as strongly as I did, feeling enormous sympathy for the victims of the recent flooding,” Obama said.

“I’m sure they appreciated the sentiment, but they probably would have appreciated it even more if Senator McCain hadn’t opposed legislation to fund for levees and flood control programs, which he seems to consider pork,” Obama said.

“At a time when you’re facing budget deficits and looking to Washington for the support you need, he isn’t proposing a strategy for America’s cities,” he told the mayors.

McCain, who has long been an outspoken critic of what he considers wasteful government spending, has pledged to take aim at special-project spending known as “pork” that lawmakers often add to budget bills.

“It is beyond the pale that Barack Obama would attack John McCain for actually trying to fix the problem and change the way Washington works,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

The Arizona senator’s campaign hammered Obama for opposing a bipartisan legislative amendment to establish a process to ensure that levees and other water projects with the most life-saving potential got the highest priority in funding.

McCain’s camp noted that the effort had the support of Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, both Democrats.

“The process is broken,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain’s top economic adviser. “McCain was reaching across the aisle to Feingold and McCaskill to fix the problem.”

(Editing by Xavier Briand)

Obama Widens Lead Over McCain: Newsweek Poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has opened up a double-digit lead over Republican John McCain two weeks after he clinched the nomination, a new poll published on Friday showed.

2008-06-19T203835Z_01_LOA07_RTRMDNP_3_USA-POLITICS-HOLLYWOOD

Presumptive Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) greets actor Robert De Niro (L) at a campaign rally in East Rutherford, New Jersey  in this February 4, 2008 file photo. Ahead of a big fundraising event next week, many Hollywood power players are rallying behind Barack Obama in his bid for U.S. president, pledging money and starpower after lending early support to his one-time rival Hillary Clinton as of June 20, 2008.

REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

The nationwide poll conducted by Newsweek showed Obama leading McCain by a margin of 51-36 percent, indicating that he might have got a bounce from his recent primary victory over Hillary Clinton.

Newsweek said the survey of 1,010 adults nationwide on June 18 and 19, 2008 has a margin of error of 4 points.

Obama’s edge in the latest poll is larger than in other recent surveys. A Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday found Obama had a only a 5-point lead.
Obama was tied at 46 percent with McCain in a previous Newsweek poll completed in late May, when he was still battling Clinton for the nomination, Newsweek said.

Obama triumphed in early June in a grueling five-month Democratic nomination fight with Clinton. McCain clinched the Republican race in March.

McCain and Obama have clashed sharply on economic and security issues in the campaign’s early stages. Obama has tried to link McCain to the policies of unpopular President George W. Bush and McCain has questioned Obama’s judgment and experience.

The Newsweek survey indicated that only 14 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the direction of the country, and that they see Obama as the preferred agent of “change” by a margin of 51 percent to 27 percent, Newsweek said.

Newsweek said Obama is doing better at this point in the race than Democratic predecessors Sen. John Kerry and Vice President Al Gore, who both ended up losing their bid for the White House.

(Reporting by Peter Kaplan, Editing by Anthony Boadle)