ASTC Press Release
HOUSTON — Mr. Riaz Siddiqi of Houston has received the first Asia Society Texas Center Award for Distinguished Achievement in Business and Philanthropy. The Pakistani-American businessman was recognized for his work with organizations ranging from Grace Flight of America, which provides free air transport for medical patients in need, to the American Pakistan Foundation, an organization of the Pakistani American diaspora, focused on making a measurable difference in the lives of the people of Pakistan and to the improvement of relations between the peoples of the U.S. and Pakistan.
He was presented the award Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at a banquet at the Four Seasons Hotel attended by 150 friends and well-wishers. Nicholas Platt, a former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan and President Emeritus of the Asia Society, presented the award.
â€œWhen I came to Houston last March to give a lecture on Pakistan, Riaz and I spent time together in Denhamâ€™s box at the rodeo,â€ Platt told attendees. â€œThere I learned firsthand what an extraordinary person he is, combining the best of American and Pakistani entrepreneurial skill, philanthropic sensibility, and Texan drive and ambition.â€
The evening included a video chronicling Mr. Siddiqiâ€™s life and career, from his upbringing in Pakistan to the present. Mr. Siddiqi has enjoyed a successful 30-year career in the electric utility, energy and asset management fields and is one of the founders and managing partner of Denham Capital, a global private equity firm with over $4.3 billion in assets.
In his remarks Mr. Siddiqi challenged his audience to find ways to contribute to society not only through business-building and pure philanthropy but also through social philanthropy, which strives to engineer permanent improvements in the lives of the underprivileged. He also encouraged attendees to support organizations like Asia Society Texas Center, which are working to build bridges of understanding between peoples and cultures.
Wells Fargo Bank underwrote the evening.
Among those attending were Glenn Godkin, Salma Siddiqi, Nancy C. Allen, Peter Brown, Pakistan Consul General Mohammed Aqil Nadeem, Denham CEO Stuart Porter, Anwer Hussain, Indonesian Consul General Al Busyra Basnur, Gordon Quan, Shahid and Sehar Javed, William and Angie Zartler, Jim Fonteno, Asia Society Texas Center Board Chairman Charles Foster, and ASTC Executive Director Martha Blackwelder.
Asia Society Texas Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with the mission of educating Americans about Asia and preparing Asians and Americans for a shared future. Founded in New York in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, it comprises 11 centers worldwide. The Houston center was founded in 1979 by former First Lady Barbara Bush and former Ambassador Roy M. Huffington. ASTC hosts programs across a range of interests, from business and policy to art and culture.
Saudi Arabiaâ€™s King Abdullah is seen before his departure for the United States, at Riyadh airport November 22, 2010. REUTERS/Saudi Press Agency/Handout
Mina (Saudi Arabia): Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has made a passionate call to the Muslims of the world to bury their differences and unite.
â€œLast Haj season I spoke to you about the importance of interfaith dialogue and Saudi Arabiaâ€™s call was received well by the international community. This time we are in need of a dialogue within the ummah to abandon divisions, ignorance and immoderation which are major obstacles in the way of Muslims achieving their aspirations,â€ said King Abdullah in a message to Haj pilgrims this year.
â€œThe terror that threatens the world is attributed to Muslims while it is caused by extremists who are outside the scope of the tolerant religion of Islam. The perpetrators of terror represent none but themselves even though they appear in the guise of Islam, which is, in fact, far away from them,â€ he added.
The king called on Arabs and Muslims â€” both their leaders and people â€” to hold fast to the rope of Allah and abandon their differences and sectarianism so that no enemy of the ummah can take advantage of their disunity.
The king appealed to the people of different religions, creeds and civilizations to narrow down their differences by reinforcing the common values shared by all.
â€œOn this momentous occasion, I call on you and everyone who hears my words, whoever it may be, to look at the common points of different religions, creeds and cultures and to stress the shared principles in order that we sidestep our differences, narrow the distance between us and build a world dominated by peace and understanding, enjoying progress and prosperity,â€ the king said in a message reported by the Saudi Press Agency.
â€œThe objective of your brothers in Saudi Arabia is to preserve the glory of Islam as well as offering humanitarian service to all. We are optimistic about the outcome of these ideas that stamp out violence and terror,â€ the king said.
The king also declared that he would not allow anyone to disrupt the security of Haj because â€œthe safety of the pilgrims is the prime responsibility that cannot be slackened or loosened. And we will deal with any threat with firmness and determination. We have made all preparations in terms of men and material to guarantee the security and peace of mind of pilgrims,â€ the king said.
â€œI watch with joy and delight the holy sites where pilgrims from the farthest corners of the earth converge despite their diverse cultures and traditions, brought together by their faith, and united by their religion,â€ the king said.
By Robert Fisk
In any other country, the current American bribe to Israel, and the latterâ€™s reluctance to accept it, in return for even a temporary end to the theft of somebody elseâ€™s property would be regarded as preposterous. Three billion dollarsâ€™ worth of fighter bombers in return for a temporary freeze in West Bank colonisation for a mere 90 days? Not including East Jerusalem so goodbye to the last chance of the east of the holy city for a Palestinian capital and, if Benjamin Netanyahu so wishes, a rip-roaring continuation of settlement on Arab land. In the ordinary sane world in which we think we live, there is only one word for Barack Obamaâ€™s offer: appeasement. Usually, our lords and masters use that word with disdain and disgust.
Anyone who panders to injustice by one people against another people is called an appeaser. Anyone who prefers peace at any price, let alone a $3bn bribe to the guilty party is an appeaser. Anyone who will not risk the consequences of standing up for international morality against territorial greed is an appeaser. Those of us who did not want to invade Afghanistan were condemned as appeasers. Those of us who did not want to invade Iraq were vilified as appeasers. Yet that is precisely what Obama has done in his pathetic, unbelievable effort to plead with Netanyahu for just 90 days of submission to international law. Obama is an appeaser.
The fact that the West and its political and journalistic elites I include the ever more disreputable New York Times take this tomfoolery at face value, as if it can seriously be regarded as another â€œstepâ€ in the â€œpeace processâ€, to put this mystical nonsense â€œback on trackâ€, is a measure of the degree to which we have taken leave of our senses in the Middle East.
It is a sign of just how far America (and, through our failure to condemn this insanity, Europe) has allowed its fear of Israel and how far Obama has allowed his fear of Israeli supporters in Congress and the Senate to go.
Three billion dollars for three months is one billion dollars a month to stop Israelâ€™s colonisation. Thatâ€™s half a billion dollars a fortnight. Thatâ€™s $500m a week. Thatâ€™s $71,428,571 a day, or $2,976,190 an hour, or $49,603 a minute. And as well as this pot of gold, Washington will continue to veto any resolutions critical of Israel in the UN and prevent â€œPalestineâ€ from declaring itself a state. Itâ€™s worth invading anyone to get that much cash to stage a military withdrawal, let alone the gracious gesture of not building more illegal colonies for only 90 days while furiously continuing illegal construction in Jerusalem at the same time.
The Hillary Clinton version of this grotesquerie would be funny if it was not tragic. According to the sharp pen of the NYTâ€™s Roger Cohen, La Clinton has convinced herself that Palestine is â€œachievable, inevitable and compatible with Israelâ€™s securityâ€. And what persuaded Madame Hillary of this? Why, on a trip to the pseudo-Palestine â€œcapitalâ€ of Ramallah last year, she saw the Jewish settlements â€œthe brutality of it was so starkâ€ according to one of her officials but thought her motorcade was being guarded by the Israeli army because â€œtheyâ€™re so professionalâ€. And then, lo and behold, they turned out to be a Palestinian military guard, a â€œprofessional outfitâ€ and all this changed Madameâ€™s views!
Quite apart from the fact that the Israeli army is a rabble, and that indeed, the Palestinians are a rabble too, this â€œroad to Ramallahâ€ incident led supporters of Madame, according to Cohen, to realise that there had been a transition â€œfrom a self-pitying, self-dramatising Palestinian psyche, with all the cloying accoutrements of victimhood, to a self-affirming culture of pragmatism and institution-buildingâ€. Palestinian â€œprime ministerâ€ Salam Fayyad, educated in the US so, naturally, a safe pair of hands, has put â€œgrowth before grumbling, roads before ranting, and security before everythingâ€.
Having been occupied by a brutal army for 43 years, those wretched, dispossessed Palestinians, along with their cousins in the West Bank who have been homeless for 62 years, have at last stopped ranting and grumbling and feeling sorry for themselves and generally play-acting in order to honour the only thing that matters. Not justice. Certainly not democracy, but to the one God which Christians, Jews and Muslims are all now supposed to worship: security.
Yes, they have joined the true brotherhood of mankind. Israel will be safe at last. That this infantile narrative now drives the woman who told us 11 years ago that Jerusalem was â€œthe eternal and indivisible capital of Israelâ€ proves that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has now reached its apogee, its most treacherous and final moment. And if Netanyahu has any sense Iâ€™m talking abut the Zionist, expansionist kind he will wait out the 90 days, then thumb his nose at the US. In the three months of â€œgood behaviourâ€, of course, the Palestinians will have to bite the bullet and sit down to â€œpeaceâ€ talks which will decide the future borders of Israel and â€œPalestineâ€. But since Israel controls 62 per cent of the West Bank this leaves Fayyad and his chums about 10.9 per cent of mandate Palestine to argue about.
And at the cost of $827 a second, theyâ€™d better do some quick grovelling. They will. We should all hang our heads in shame. But we wonâ€™t. Itâ€™s not about people. Itâ€™s about presentation. Itâ€™s not about justice. Itâ€™s about â€œsecurityâ€. And cash. Lots of it. Goodbye Palestine.
These airport so-called security measures amount to state-sponsored sexual harassment.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jan Napolitano (L) listens as Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) John Pistole speaks about raising passenger vigilance from Reagan National Airport in Washington November 15, 2010.
Listen to this: â€œMy freely chosen bedmates and doctors are the only ones allowed to see my naked body or touch my genitalia.â€ For a sane person in a sane country thatâ€™s the ultimate in â€œno sh**, Sherlockâ€ statement. But not where I live.
Not the United States of America. Not since 11 September 2001, when the government reacted to an attack on its citizens by lashing out against the very citizenry it claims to protect. No bureaucracy better embodies that reactionary principle than the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), whose contempt for American citizens has grown so great that they now require we submit to government agents either photographing our, to them, visibly naked bodies or groping us in molestation-style patdowns if we ever want to fly again.
Iâ€™m sick of the craven cliches TSA apologists have cited these past nine years:
â€œThey protect us from terrorists.â€
No, they impose pointlessly superstitious security theatre, trample Americansâ€™ constitutional rights and make foreigners feel sorry for us. TSA protected nobody with its infamous â€œbathroom bansâ€ after last yearâ€™s Christmas terror attempt; rules like â€œkeep your lap empty and your hands visible at all timesâ€ only demonstrated the agencyâ€™s willingness to treat ordinary citizens like serial killers in supermax prison.
â€œYou gave up your rights when you bought an airline ticket.â€
I never gave up any rights. The government stole them while cowards egged them on.
â€œTSA agents are just doing their jobs.â€
A lousy apologia and historically ignorant to boot; the civilised world established at Nuremberg that â€œjust following ordersâ€ cuts no ice. And my fellow Americans are realising â€œitâ€™ll stop terroristsâ€ cuts none either, at least not to justify low-grade sexual harassment as standard behaviour for government agents.
Itâ€™s not hyperbole to call the enhanced patdown a low-grade sexual assault; if you donâ€™t believe me, go find some womanâ€™s boobs or manâ€™s balls, start cupping and squeezing them according to new TSA standards, and count how many offences youâ€™re charged with. Last month, an agent openly admitted that the purpose of the aggressive new patdowns was to intimidate people into choosing the nude scanners instead.
And Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano justified this Hobsonâ€™s choice â€“ and abandoned all pretence of being a â€œservantâ€ accountable to the public â€“ in an insufferably arrogant column she wrote for USA Today, burying outright lies beneath eye-glazing bureaucratic prose. â€œThe imaging technology that we use cannot store, export, print or transmit images,â€ she claimed â€“ though this was proven untrue almost as soon as the scanners were put in use; last August, US marshals admitted to storing 35,000 images collected from one single courthouse â€“ some of which have now been obtained by the website Gizmodo under a freedom of information request.â€
Rigorous privacy safeguards are also in place to protect the travelling public.â€
You canâ€™t claim privacy points when ordering people to let you either see them naked or feel them up.
The vast majority of travellers say they prefer this technology to alternative screening measures.â€
No, the vast majority realise Napolitanoâ€™s gone too far this time, and the backlash has finally begun. November 24 â€“ the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, and one of the busiest flying days of the year â€“ is National Opt-Out Day, whose organiser Brian Sodegren calls for all Americans to refuse the nude scanners and insist the patdown be done in full public view, so everyone can see how law-abiding travelers are treated in the Land of the Free. Sodegren points out the obvious:
â€œYou should never have to explain to your children, â€˜Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless itâ€™s a government employee, then itâ€™s OK.â€™â€
Similarly, the group We Wonâ€™t Fly calls for my fellow Americans to â€œJam TSA checkpoints by opting out until they remove the porno-scanners!â€
Iâ€™ve flown only three times since the inception of the TSA, and only when I couldnâ€™t avoid it: two business trips and a funeral I couldnâ€™t drive to. But I wonâ€™t fly on vacation; and last winter, when I thought Iâ€™d need to cross the Atlantic, I made reservations in Canada â€“ a 450-mile drive to the airport, but worth it to avoid the TSA.
Iâ€™m not alone. Industry leaders reportedly met with Napolitano to express their concerns; as one executive with the US Travel Association fretted, â€œWe have received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from travelers vowing to stop flying.â€
Airline executives are rich. Maybe theyâ€™ve got the clout to stop TSA bullying. Napolitano clearly doesnâ€™t care if ordinary Americans quit flying altogether; at Ronald Reagan National Airport, she openly offered â€œtravel by other meansâ€ as the only option for people who wonâ€™t submit to the new TSA probes.
Thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve been reduced to in America: security measures lifted from bad porn plots, and hoping this latest outrage inconveniences enough rich guys with political connections to get it repealed.
By Sonia Verma
There was a long moment during the street protests that followed last yearâ€™s Iranian presidential elections when the country appeared to be on the cusp of revolution.
The crowds demonstrated in open defiance of their Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had urged the country to unite behind the incumbent, branding Mahmoud Ahmadinejadâ€™s deeply suspicious victory as â€œdivine assessment.â€
Iran seemed about to break free of the clergyâ€™s grasp.
So what happened?
â€œWhat happened was Michael Jackson died,â€ says Reza Pahlavi, son of the late shah of Iran.
â€œSuddenly,â€ he adds dryly, â€œCNN started talking about him rather than the â€˜green movementâ€™ in Iran.â€
Dressed in a snappy suit, freshly shaven and somewhat suave, he appears the antithesis of the clerical regime that currently rules Iran with an iron fist.
Now 50, Mr. Pahlavi gave himself an unusual gift on his 21st birthday: He crowned himself â€œKing of Kings,â€ inheritor of Iranâ€™s Peacock Throne.
The fancy title, however, meant nothing. His Majesty lived in Maryland, half a world away from his supposed kingdom. His father had just died in exile, having fled Iran in 1979, at the height of the Iranian Revolution.
Thirty years later, Mr. Pahlavi still lives in Maryland (â€œstrategically, the U.S. made a lot of sense,â€ he says) and has shed his royal title (although his staff still refers to him as â€œPrinceâ€), along with beliefs about restoring the monarchy.
Instead, he has staked claim to a new, deeply nebulous title: leader of Iranâ€™s democratic revolution.
â€œI have said, â€˜Look, Iâ€™m not running for office here. Thatâ€™s not my job. Itâ€™s to help this movement get to the day where we can conduct free elections,â€™ â€ he says during a recent visit to Toronto for private meetings with prominent members of an Iranian exile community second in size only to that of Los Angeles.
Claiming not to be bitter about his lost destiny and to be a staunch democrat as well as a practising Shia Muslim, he has assumed the role of magnetic travelling salesman for the opposition green movement.
In the process, he hopes to catch the attention of Washington â€“ along with everyone else â€“ as the world grapples with how to deal with Iran and its nuclear ambitions.
â€œWhen the time comes that the world says, â€˜Fine, we would like to engage: Who do we engage with? Whatâ€™s their address?â€™ they canâ€™t just guess and they canâ€™t access anybody inside. There has to be a go-between, there has to be an element that makes that connection possible.
â€œThat,â€ he adds, â€œis the part I am trying to provide. Thatâ€™s the missing ingredient. â€¦ Sometimes you need charismatic personalities who, because of their name recognition or political capital, can already have an impact. â€¦ I think most people will say that I do have such a potential role.â€
But he was just 17 and studying to be a fighter pilot at a U.S. Air Force base in Texas when Iran had its Islamic revolution and his father relinquished power to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
His life since then has been a curious fight to reclaim for the people a country that he would have ruled by simple birthright. Indeed, an hour in conversation with Mr. Pahlavi at times feels like a job interview. Apparently itâ€™s not just me.
â€œYoung people today ask, â€˜Okay, what is Reza Pahlavi doing today for us? What is he providing? What is his proposition?â€™ Thatâ€™s everything that I have articulated in three books, and a lot of interviews,â€ he says, insisting, â€œI have a 30-year track record.â€
It is, however, an awkward truth that, from exile, Mr. Pahlavi is effectively leading a democratic movement having never been elected by anyone.
Iran itself is virtually impenetrable for him, so he has nurtured support among the exile community, which has been working to support pro-democracy forces back home â€“ offering advocacy, funds and shelter when needed by those who flee.
There are no obvious challengers to his de facto leadership, although there are critics who oppose him because of his lineage. Many Iranians still associate his fatherâ€™s rule with brutal autocracy and the widespread violation of civil rights.
Mr. Pahlavi bristles at the suggestion that his fatherâ€™s legacy looms over him: â€œExcuse me, but have I inherited genetically the politics and circumstances of my predecessors?â€ he asks pointedly.
â€œIâ€™m not saying there were not some mistakes done. Of course, there were. But the way they were propagated is so exaggerated in contrast to what we have now.â€
Despite the fact that he lives just outside the U.S. capital, he denies outright suggestions made in the wake of last yearâ€™s protests that he is working on Washingtonâ€™s behalf. Nor, he says, does his campaign receive financial support from any government. â€œYou cannot resolve Iranâ€™s problems in a foreign capital.â€
When his father fled Tehran and went into exile, he reportedly took with him a substantial amount of money â€“ a suggestion that his son dismisses as a vicious rumour. His efforts, he says, have been purely financed by Iranian exiles who share his vision, and by his own purse.
â€œI have done my part in this movement, including spending a lot of my personal money to help the cause, and Iâ€™ve been doing it for 30 years,â€ he insists.
â€œBut our personal wealth and family situation is much more modest than people think. The evidence is there and, one day when they see the evidence, they will see itâ€™s very different from whatever they were led to believe,â€ he says.
As for change in Iran, he says it can happen only through widespread civil disobedience inside the country. Although he supports foreign intervention such as sanctions, he staunchly opposes military action, which he worries would trigger a nuclear response.
â€œWhat is the single, collective Achilles heel of the regime at the end of the day? Itâ€™s when the country arrives to its Santiago moment. When all of the society starts banging and then, all of a sudden, that leadership becomes fragmented,â€ he says. â€œWe were on the verge of it last summer.â€
Now, he says, Washington almost seems blind to the danger posed by Mr. Ahmadinejad and the clerics. A nuclear weapon could soon be within Iranâ€™s reach, and â€œI think America has been behind the curve and has never caught up.
â€œThe [U.S.] President is going out of his way to say America is not at war with Islam. They donâ€™t get it. The Islamists are at war with you.â€ He punctuates his point with a wave of his hand, and adds: â€œEither the regime gets its bomb first, or we manage to get democracy first.â€
To him, its nuclear ambitions make Iran like an expectant mother: â€œBut the babyâ€™s about to be delivered â€“ what do we do now?â€
Sonia Verma is a writer with The Globe and Mail.
By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent
â€œPhotography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.â€
– Dorothea Lange
It is not uncommon to happen upon a photographer along the streets of Kuwait as he sets his lens on whatever strikes his fancy, whether it is a group of kids happily playing on the beach or a landscape shot of the glittering ocean waves as they rise and fall just barely kissing the parched seashore. However, not all photographers are as innocent as they may appear. For the past couple of years, scores of complaints have inundated Kuwaiti police stations with mainly women complaining about having their picture taken without permission by some â€œRomeoâ€ equipped with a digital lens.
The Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera, which is capable of taking crystal clear shots even at great distances, is the primary camera that has come under scrutiny recently by Kuwaiti authorities. The availability of DSLR cameras in the Kuwaiti market and ease of use has recently come under fire by three separate ministries. The Ministry of Finance, The Ministry of Information and The Ministry of Social Affairs have jointly banned the use of DSLR cameras in public places, like malls, parks, or recreational facilities. Now the only permissible use of DSLR cameras in Kuwait is by journalists exclusively.
The recent ban has taken DSLR camera owners by surprise especially since only a small percentage of photographers use the camera as a means to harass or provoke females. Now, in the wake of the ban, parents wanting to capture their little darling hard at play during a seaside adventure or professional photographers seeking to build up their portfolios now have cause to worry for using their DSLR camera in public.
Kuwaiti blogs have been one of the first places that people have gone to air their dismay and frustrations over the ban. On one popular Kuwaiti blog, a reader comments, â€œDefine what they mean by â€œpublic placesâ€ and does it mean that I will get arrested if they see my DSLR hanging on my neck even if Iâ€™m not shooting?â€ Another writes, â€œIf this is true then we are regressing faster than we anticipated.â€
A few conspiracy theorists have also been floating around their own theories about the Kuwaiti ban on DSLR cameras. The primary one is that protecting people from unwanted photography is only a cover for the real reason for the ban. Some conspiracy theorists say that the ban has been put into effect to protect sensitive Kuwaiti installations from being photographed by persons seeking to bring harm to Kuwait. The name on just about every theorists tongue is Iran and one can only assume there is a tangible threat of Iranian spies moving about Kuwait armed with DSLR cameras.
Regardless of the reasoning, Kuwait has set its sights high for creating a tourist destination that rivals the likes of Dubai in the coming years. Banning a type of camera that is popular with tourists and photography enthusiasts alike may be the deciding factor on whether someone chooses to visit the tiny Gulf nation or not.
The Christians in Iraq
By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
Berkeley–In Iraq we are seeing the tragic aftermath of the conflict â€“ one side basically Christian and the other largely Muslims. According to the CIA (the US.â€™ Central Intelligenceâ€™s) World Fact Book, the country was 3% Christian. In estimates, in the American press, the numbers range from 200,000 to 720,000. In Mesopotamia most Christians are of the dominant Chaldean domination but also the Syrian, Latin, and Armenian Catholics, and members of a various Orthodox sects. Their numbers have fallen from more than a million during the past 20 years, as emigration has taken its toll. In the Arab News, one of the most trusted news services in the Arab-speaking areas of the Middle East, a story appeared — dated September 17th 2010 — from Baghdad on the River itself, they reported that nearly half of the Christians had fled their ancient natal land since the American invasion of 2003. The U.N. (United Nations) approximates the true figure within the capital alone to have 1.5 million residing within the capital alone. A Christian countryman in exile in London declaimed, â€œThe Majority of Christians [have] left Iraq because of religious persecution by [by the Right-wing â€œIslamicâ€ — mainly foreign â€“ mainly the foreign mercenaries–extremists [i.e., violent Jihadi],â€ for, within the land of the two Rivers the Christians, being a People of the Book, were a (legally) active and accepted members of society and even involved in politics (i.e., most notably Tariq Aziz Husseinâ€™s last Deputy Prime Minister is a (Christian) Chaldean Catholic. Incidentally, at the time of this writing, he has been condemned to be executed, but the present President Jalal has refused the death warrant.) Currently, the afore-quoted Arab News stated that there are less than 500,000 Christians left.
Why should American Muslims care about Iraqi Christians? For one thing, the American media has found much propaganda value in the calamity upon this minority who has been native to the land longer than the Muslims. In fact, most Muslims there today were very likely past converts from Christian families in residing in the Eastern Roman Empireâ€™s Diocese (with which the Roman bureaucrats came to call their province) of the East after (Emperor) â€œSaintâ€ Constantineâ€™s conversion to Christianity. From 636 C.E. (the Common Era), the Islamic Arabs have been dominated the population in Baghdadâ€™s and its hinterlands. Although after often found themselves to be provinces within the forthcoming Empires.
Al Qaeda in Iraqâ€™s wholesale murder of Christians and the burning of churches and the brutal mass murder within their ancient houses of worship is intended to bring reignite the hostility of the West against Iraqi people and, especially, the new government of Iraq in their devilish â€œpolicyâ€ to prolong the War. This violent persecution along with their attack upon the majority, and the Shia the subsequent massacres of Kurds which have encouraged the Sunni to reply in kind. This has intended to encourage a devastating civil war. This senseless violent campaign in post-War Iraq is to campaign would discourage the re-construction from the War with America. Historically, Islamic citizens, for the most part, were able to get along on a personally with Christians (and even with the Iraqi Jews â€“ due to the persecution of the Baathist Party of [i.e. Arab Socialism) Saddam in the response of a hostile Israeli State although the political fractures during the Saddam regime were strained on both sectarian and ethnic lines.
In a future article your author would like to write up a primary literary source, an interview, your writer did with a Jesuit, Father Pierre de Charenteney, S.J. (the Society of Jesus of Jesus), the most intellectual of the (Christian) Roman Catholic religious (monastic) order who had just returned (in 2008) as a member of a delegation to determine the state of the Christians in Iraq. Your journalist does not believe Father deChartenayâ€™s perceptions will be obnoxious to Islam, but will provide those who are living outside the non-Muslim (majority) States, the knowledge and the arguments to hysteric anti- Islamic narrative that the major media outlets in North America and Europe have created and the ignorance of our political and religious Right-wings. I shall proceed with this project with you, and, also, with your essayists Kashmir project I began last week.
By Paul Krugman
Former Senator Alan Simpson is a Very Serious Person. He must be â€” after all, President Obama appointed him as co-chairman of a special commission on deficit reduction.
So hereâ€™s what the very serious Mr. Simpson said on Friday: â€œI canâ€™t wait for the blood bath in April. … When debt limit time comes, theyâ€™re going to look around and say, â€˜What in the hell do we do now? Weâ€™ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give â€™em a piece of meat, real meat,â€™ â€ meaning spending cuts. â€œAnd boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,â€ he continued.
Think of Mr. Simpsonâ€™s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize.
Some explanation: Thereâ€™s a legal limit to federal debt, which must be raised periodically if the government keeps running deficits; the limit will be reached again this spring. And since nobody, not even the hawkiest of deficit hawks, thinks the budget can be balanced immediately, the debt limit must be raised to avoid a government shutdown. But Republicans will probably try to blackmail the president into policy concessions by, in effect, holding the government hostage; theyâ€™ve done it before.
Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine Americaâ€™s role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson â€œcanâ€™t wait.â€ And heâ€™s what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican.
The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless itâ€™s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that partyâ€™s cooperation â€” cooperation that wonâ€™t be forthcoming.
Elite opinion has been slow to recognize this reality. Thus on the same day that Mr. Simpson rejoiced in the prospect of chaos, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, appealed for help in confronting mass unemployment. He asked for â€œa fiscal program that combines near-term measures to enhance growth with strong, confidence-inducing steps to reduce longer-term structural deficits.â€
My immediate thought was, why not ask for a pony, too? After all, the G.O.P. isnâ€™t interested in helping the economy as long as a Democrat is in the White House. Indeed, far from being willing to help Mr. Bernankeâ€™s efforts, Republicans are trying to bully the Fed itself into giving up completely on trying to reduce unemployment.
And on matters fiscal, the G.O.P. program is to do almost exactly the opposite of what Mr. Bernanke called for. On one side, Republicans oppose just about everything that might reduce structural deficits: they demand that the Bush tax cuts be made permanent while demagoguing efforts to limit the rise in Medicare costs, which are essential to any attempts to get the budget under control. On the other, the G.O.P. opposes anything that might help sustain demand in a depressed economy â€” even aid to small businesses, which the party claims to love.
Right now, in particular, Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits â€” an action that will both cause immense hardship and drain purchasing power from an already sputtering economy. But thereâ€™s no point appealing to the better angels of their nature; America just doesnâ€™t work that way anymore.
And opposition for the sake of opposition isnâ€™t limited to economic policy. Politics, they used to tell us, stops at the waterâ€™s edge â€” but that was then.
These days, national security experts are tearing their hair out over the decision of Senate Republicans to block a desperately needed new strategic arms treaty. And everyone knows that these Republicans oppose the treaty, not because of legitimate objections, but simply because itâ€™s an Obama administration initiative; if sabotaging the president endangers the nation, so be it.
How does this end? Mr. Obama is still talking about bipartisan outreach, and maybe if he caves in sufficiently he can avoid a federal shutdown this spring. But any respite would be only temporary; again, the G.O.P. is just not interested in helping a Democrat govern.
My sense is that most Americans still donâ€™t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do whatâ€™s necessary. But that was another country.
Itâ€™s hard to see how this situation is resolved without a major crisis of some kind. Mr. Simpson may or may not get the blood bath he craves this April, but there will be blood sooner or later. And we can only hope that the nation that emerges from that blood bath is still one we recognize.
By Shaheen Pasha
DUBAI, Nov 10 (Reuters) – From Australia to South Africa, governments are scrambling to change the law to accommodate the $1 trillion Islamic finance industry, whose avoidance of toxic debt has looked increasingly attractive since the global crisis.
But in the Gulf Arab region, birthplace of Islam and cradle of Islamic finance, governments have taken a more passive approach, which experts say is slowing the industryâ€™s growth.
â€œAside from Malaysia, Sudan and Iran, no government has really owned the Islamic finance project,â€ Humayon Dar, chief executive of London-based sharia advisory and structuring firm BMB Islamic, said.
In Malaysia, there is a national sharia council that sets rules for Islamic financial institutions. Rules are standardised under the central bank, which has made an active push towards supporting Islamic finance.
In the first three quarters of 2010, the Malaysian government accounted for 62.5 percent of all Islamic bonds, or sukuk, issuances globally, valued at $18.4 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data. By comparison, not one sovereign sukuk came out of the Gulf Arab region during the same period.
Saudi Arabiaâ€™s laws, by definition, require organisations to adhere to sharia, a set of Islamic legal principles that include a ban on interest. Its central bank does not even differentiate between conventional and Islamic banking.
Yet the growth of Islamic banking in the kingdom, the Gulf Arab regionâ€™s biggest market, is hindered by the lack of clear laws, a 2009 report by Blominvest Bank, the investment banking arm of Lebanonâ€™s Blom Bank Group, said.
Many Islamic lenders, for instance, are wary of providing mortgages given the lack of clarity in Saudi Arabia over their ability to foreclose on properties in default.
Lawyers and bankers say these concerns are putting pressure on Saudi housing demand and prices. A Saudi mortgage law has been in the works for over a decade but itâ€™s still unclear when it will come to pass.
Even in the United Arab Emirates, lawyers say some of the governmentâ€™s laws effectively work against Islamic financial transactions, especially those related to ijara sukuk, one of the most common forms of Islamic financing.
Ijara sukuk involves a transfer of tangible assets — most commonly real estate — from one party to the next as Islamic law does not allow for debt or interest payments. It can best be described as an operating lease in which the owner leases an asset to the client.
â€œThe issue lies with the high fees related to the transfer of land in an ijara and investors wonder if the cost is going to be significant enough to hurt their potential returns,â€ Nabil Issa, partner at international law firm King and Spalding, said.
â€œThe UK and France have encouraged sharia-compliant transactions. The UAE must waive the fees to make Islamic finance easier.â€
The financial crisis, which caused a rash of corporate defaults, disputes and insolvencies in Dubai, exposed weaknesses in regulation and resulted in a loss of faith among businesses.
That has prompted some companies to register in the Dubai International Financial Centre despite the higher costs because the financial free zone has been allowed to self-legislate.
DIFC has created a legal framework that blends the best practices of leading jurisdictions, reassuring companies in case of default or business disputes.
â€œThereâ€™s no doubt in my mind that if the UAE made a push to change its current laws to be more transparent and accommodating, especially when it comes to land registration fees, we would see more Islamic finance growth and more sukuk here,â€ said one attorney, who asked to remain anonymous.
â€œThereâ€™s so much pride in the industry that the rest of the world is making changes, but not enough work at home to support the needs of Islamic finance.â€
Bahrain–Islamic Finance Hub
Bahrain, to its credit, has positioned itself as a hub for Islamic finance in the region and the central bank provides a regulatory framework for Islamic financial institutions, based on the guidelines issued by the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI).
Bahrain-based AAOIFI is the closest thing Islamic finance has to an international independent regulator to set standards.
The central bank also has rules covering capitalisation, risk management, financial crime and disclosure and is pushing to train Islamic scholars to help the industry grow faster.
But Islamic finance faces hurdles in other markets in the Middle East and North Africa, where barriers to entry remain.
In Oman, home to about 3.4 million Muslims, the central bankâ€™s policies discourage the establishment and expansion of Islamic financial institutions.
Egypt is another case in point. It is the sixth-biggest Muslim nation with 80 million people, but only 3 to 4 percent of its $193 billion banking industry is Islamic.
While Egyptâ€™s financial regulator sees the implementation of sukuk rules by the first quarter of 2011, some analysts say it is too early to call how it will help Islamic finance grow.
Part of the blame lies with 1980s ponzi schemes that claimed to be Islamic and left millions of Egyptians wary of Islamic banking. After the exposure of the schemes, Egyptâ€™s foremost Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, issued a controversial ruling allowing for interest, as long as it was not excessive, which essentially sidelined the need for Islamic finance.
Analysts say fears that the Muslim Brotherhood, which believes in creating an Islamic state, could use Islamic finance for political gain have discouraged the government from adopting laws to foster the sector.
By contrast, Australiaâ€™s national taxation board is planning to meet in November to revamp its laws to get rid of double stamp duties. In South Africa, the government is looking to amend its tax laws to help grow the industry, even though Muslims only make up 2 percent of the population.
â€œThe Muslim community in South Africa was at a disadvantage,â€ Amman Muhammad, managing director at Absa Islamic banking, said.
â€œWe have gotten regulators to understand our plight.â€
(Editing by Lin Noueihed)
King Abdullah (C) arrives at a hospital in Riyadh November 19. He was admitted to hospital Friday after a blood clot complicated a back condition he is suffering from and doctors have recommended more rest, the state news agency said. REUTERS/Saudi Press/Handout
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Saudi Arabiaâ€™s aging King Abdullah arrived in the United States for medical treatment on Monday, while a frail Crown Prince Sultan hurriedly returned from abroad to govern the worldâ€™s largest oil exporter.
The kingdom is keen to show its allies in Washington and elsewhere there will be no power vacuum as health problems beset its octogenarian rulers, but the question of whether a reformist or a conservative will take over remains a matter of concern.
Abdullah, thought to be around 86 or 87, asked Crown Prince Sultan to fly home from Morocco to run the kingdom during his absence.
The king will be seeking treatment after a blood clot complicated a slipped spinal disc, the state news agency SPA said. It did not say when Abdullah would be back.
â€œSaudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz is currently visiting the U.S. for medical treatment, and we hope for his speedy recovery,â€ the U.S. State Department said on Twitter on Monday afternoon.
With both Abdullah and Sultan in their 80s, speculation arose that conservative Interior Minister Prince Nayef, at a relatively youthful 76, could take over running the affairs of state some time in the near future.
Diplomats say Sultan, who is also defense minister and has major health problems of his own, has been much less active during his convalescence in Morocco.
Abdullah appointed his half-brother Nayef second deputy prime minister in 2009 in a move that analysts say will secure the leadership in the event of serious health problems afflicting the king and crown prince and improve Nayefâ€™s chances of one day being king.
Diplomats in Riyadh say Western governments concerned about the fate of social and economic reforms promoted by Abdullah have reservations about the ascent of Nayef, seen as a religious and social traditionalist.
Nayef long denied that the September 11, 2001, attacks were carried out by Saudis or al Qaeda, suggesting they were carried out by supporters of Israel. He is seen as close to the powerful and hardline Saudi clerical establishment blamed by Washington for encouraging an ideology that promotes bigotry and fanaticism.
King Abdullah, who came to power in 2005, is the sixth leader of Saudi Arabia, whose political stability is of regional and global concern. It controls more than a fifth of the worldâ€™s crude oil reserves, is a vital U.S. ally in the region, a major holder of dollar assets and home to the biggest Arab bourse.
As home to Islamâ€™s holiest sites, as well as birthplace of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabia is key to global efforts to fight Islamic militancy.
Washington wants Riyadh to continue social and economic reforms promoted by Abdullah that were seen as crucial after a group composed of mainly Saudis carried out the September 11 attacks of 2001.
But confusion still swirls over the real state of health of both Abdullah and Sultan and what will happen to Abdullahâ€™s policies.
Diplomats say there has been uncertainty about Abdullahâ€™s health since he canceled a visit to France in July.
A series of official announcements over the past week on the kingâ€™s health reflect a desire to reassure Washington that the ruling familyâ€™s grasp of affairs remains firm in tense times.
The hasty return of Sultan from a three-month break in Morocco was more low-key than his return last year from treatment for unspecified health problems. Then the half-brother to Abdullah, only a few years his junior, was met with a Bedouin sword dance.
Saudi state television showed Sultan at Riyadh airport, where he was greeted by senior princes of the Saudi royal family, which may soon face the test of managing an orderly transfer of power. Abdullah was not present at the event.
The princes at the top of the hierarchy in the absolute monarchy are all in their 70s and 80s and the Al Saud family, in power since the kingdom was founded in 1932, will remain a gerontocracy unless it soon promotes younger princes.
While official media seek to present family unity, tensions remain between the senior princes over who will run the country and over securing positions for their sons in the future political architecture of the absolute monarchy.
Rulers have so far all been sons of founder Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud and many of the countryâ€™s 18 million people want to see power pass to a new generation.
Chicago real estate firm owners charged for defrauding Muslim investors
CHICAGO, ILâ€”Three owners of a bankrupt Chicago real estate development firm that purported to adhere to Islamic law in handling investments from individuals in the Chicago area and nationwide actually operated a Ponzi-scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims and three banks of more than $43 million, according to a federal indictment made public today. The defendants, who owned Sunrise Equities, Inc ., allegedly fraudulently obtained more than $40 million from more than 300 investors through the sale of promissory notes and fraudulently obtained more than $29 million in loans from three area banks. The individual victims collectively lost approximately $30 million and the banks lost approximately $13.7 million when the alleged scheme collapsed in the fall of 2008. Two defendants, Salman Ibrahim, the majority owner, president and chief executive officer of Sunrise, and Mohammad Akbar Zahid, senior vice president of investor relations and a 10 percent owner of Sunrise, allegedly misrepresented that an investment in Sunrise was Shariahcompliant, which meant that investors would not be paid interest on their investments, which is prohibited under Islamic law.
Instead, the investors would receive monthly payments consisting of â€œprofitâ€ generated from real estate development. As a result, they solicited and received investments from hundreds of Muslims in the Chicago area and around the country. Ibrahim and Zahid offered and sold purported investments to the public in the form of promissory notes, claiming that investorsâ€™ funds would be invested in real estate development only, and they promised annual returns of between 15 and 30 percent, according to 14-count superseding indictment. The charges were returned by a federal grand jury yesterday and announced today by Patrick J Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
â€œThis is the first time in Chicago that an alleged fraud scheme has been uncovered that used a pillar of Islam to induce potential victims to invest their funds. A key element in securing the charges was the extraordinary cooperation provided by members of Chicagoâ€™s Pakistani community, who were the primary victims of this alleged fraud scheme,â€ Mr Grant said. Both Ibrahim, 37, a Pakistani national, and Zahid, 59, a United States citizen, formerly of Chicago, allegedly fled the country since Sunrise collapsed and was forced into bankruptcy by creditors. They are believed to be living abroad and anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is encouraged to contact the FBI at (312) 421-6700.
Ibrahim and Zahid were charged together with seven counts of mail fraud or wire fraud and one count of bank fraud. Ibrahim was charged alone with two additional counts of bank fraud, as well as two counts of making false statements to financial institutions. Zahid alone was charged with one count of making false statements to a financial institution. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of at least $43.7 million from them.
A third defendant, Amjed Mahmood, 47, of Des Plaines, who was senior vice president of construction and a 10 percent owner of Sunrise, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. He will be arraigned at a later date in United States District Court. According to the indictment, between January 2003 and September 2008, the defendants engaged in a Ponzi scheme by continually using funds raised through the sale of promissory notes to new investors to make purported â€œprofitâ€ payments to earlier investors, all of which they concealed and intentionally failed to disclose to both new and earlier investors. The defendants allegedly knew that Sunrise was not generating any profits from real estate developments and the only way they could make the promised payments to investors was through the operation of the Ponzi scheme.
In addition, they allegedly obtained additional financing by making false statements to obtain loans from Mutual Bank, Cole Taylor Bank and Devon Bank. Altogether, the charges allege that the defendants took in a total of more than $69 million from individual investors and banks during the scheme. The defendants used a portion of investorsâ€™ funds to operate non-real estate projects that were not disclosed to investors, including a motorcycle parts manufacturing company in Pakistan, a gas station in suburban La Grange and a medical equipment sales company in Chicago, the indictment alleges. Ibrahim misused investor funds to purchase a plot of land on which to build a residence for himself, to operate an Islamic school in order to enhance his reputation in the community, and to lease cars for his personal use; Zahid misused investor funds to renovate his personal residence; and Mahmood misused investorsâ€™ funds to make mortgage payments for his personal condominium, according to the indictment.
All three defendants allegedly took steps to fraudulently lull investors into believing their investments were doing well, including sending monthly â€œprofitâ€ payments and falsely representing that Sunrise was a successful real estate development company. To obtain additional funds, Ibrahim allegedly arranged for certain investors to refinance their home mortgages in a â€œcash-out refinanceâ€ program so they could further invest their home loan proceeds into Sunrise. The indictment details five examples of unnamed investors who each lost between $120,000 and $300,000 in the alleged Ponzi scheme, including several who refinanced their mortgages to make further investments. In August 2008, the defendants allegedly organized an emergency investor meeting and falsely told investors that Sunrise needed an additional $1.2 million to continue operating.
The defendants allegedly knew, however, that Sunrise had expended all investor funds and had only approximately $200,000 remaining in its bank accounts and had no means to recover more than $40 million in principal that Sunrise owed to its investors. As part of the alleged bank financing scheme, Ibrahim and Mahmood obtained loans totaling approximately $20.3 million from Mutual Bank to construct a high-rise condominium building at 24 South Morgan St ., Chicago. They allegedly submitted false personal financial statements indicating that they each had a net worth of approximately $8.4 million and $1.5 million, respectively, based primarily on their ownership of Sunrise and its real estate projects, knowing that the company and its projects had no value. In June 2007, Ibrahim and Zahid obtained a $7.2 million loan from Cole Taylor Bank to construct high-rise condominiums at Leland and Clarendon avenues in Chicago.
They allegedly submitted false personal financial statements reflecting that they had a net worth of approximately $10.4 million and $687,305, respectively, knowing that they had no such personal worth to guarantee the loan. Similarly, Mahmood alone allegedly fraudulently obtained a $1.2 million loan from Devon Bank to build a high-rise condominium building at 2215 Madison St ., Chicago. The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorney Sunil Harjani. The investigation falls under the umbrella of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.
The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit: www.StopFraud.gov. Each count in the indictment, except the conspiracy count against Mahmood, carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and restitution is mandatory. The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Court may also impose a fine totaling twice the loss to any victim or twice the gain to the defendant, whichever is greater. If convicted, however, the Court must determine a reasonable sentence to impose under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bradley University Students Feel At Home With Halal Meals
CHICAGO, IL– . After every visit senior Bilaluddin Mohammed makes to his home near Chicago, he returns to campus with a cooler full of his motherâ€™s cooking. Itâ€™s always enough food to feed an army, despite Mohammedâ€™s slight frame, but itâ€™s the only way heâ€™s been able to follow a traditional Muslim diet while on campus. Now, thanks to the Universityâ€™s new halal food service, Mohammedâ€™s mother can spend less time cooking during her sonâ€™s visits, and more time learning about the wonderful things heâ€™s doing at Bradley â€“ like working with University Dining Services to establish what is believed to be the first halal food service at an Illinois university.
Students can now get sandwiches and pizza that meet the guidelines of Islam, and the service will soon expand to include additional options like hot dogs and chicken patties. Any fruits, vegetables, and most dairy products are fair game in the Muslim diet. Across the country, many Muslim students are forced into a quasi-vegetarian lifestyle while attending college, so initiating a halal food service at Bradley has been a top priority among student leaders here for some time. â€œNo matter what background Muslim students are coming from, they will feel so comfortable here and so appreciative of this service because they were raised eating this way,â€ said Mohammed, who is president of the Muslim Student Association. While Mohammed estimates some 40 students attending Bradley are already benefitting from this service, he has a keen sense of the far-reaching impact of a diverse food program. â€œBetter serving international students is a bonus.
These students donâ€™t face problems and issues with food overseas, so theyâ€™ve had to rely on us to let them know whatâ€™s permissible here,â€ said Mohammed. â€œI think theyâ€™ll really appreciate this.â€ University Dining Services Executive Director Ron Gibson has spent his career accommodating the culinary needs of multicultural university campuses. Under his leadership, Bradleyâ€™s offerings have expanded dramatically this year, including a very successful kosher service unveiled in August. â€œWe know there is a very diverse group on college campuses nationwide, so to assist with the recruitment process we want to be able to offer foods that are familiar to these groups of young adults,â€ said Gibson.
Company Charged For Fraud Also Forged Halal Certificates
HOUSTON, TX — American Grocers, Inc. and its owner Samir Itani have agreed to pay $13.2 million to settle civil charges that they engaged in false or fraudulent conduct by shipping food products past or near their expiration dates to United States troops stationed in the Middle East. The fraudulent conduct also involved forging Halal certificates required by countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Imports of food products into certain countries require certification that they meet appropriate requirements for Muslim religious slaughter.
The complaint alleges that, instead of procuring proper certification, Mr. Itani obtained fake Halal certificates created by a sheik that never inspected the product. Further, the complaint alleges, Mr. Itani eventually bypassed even the sheikâ€™s fees by duplicating the sheikâ€™s certificate and forging Halal certification within his company.
According to the complaint, Mr. Itaniâ€™s extensive efforts to cheat the government included the creation of two sets of invoices. Mr. Itani would send the â€œrealâ€ invoice, which included correct product descriptions and costs, to the bank to secure payment. Mr. Itani would send what he referred to as the â€œfakeâ€ invoice, with significantly lower stated amounts, to the customer for presentation to customs officials in order to lower the amount of customs and duties owed. As a result of this practice, the complaint alleges, Mr. Itani was able to secure and keep customers. The settlement was reached more than five years after Delma Pallaresâ€™ lawsuit against American Grocers, Inc. brought to light the illegal conduct. Pallares, represented by the law firm of Berg & Androphy, brought her lawsuit, also known as a qui tam action, under the Civil False Claims Act in the Southern District of Texas. The qui tam statute allows a private person to sue a person or company who is knowingly submitting false bills to the federal government. The U.S. Government intervened in the case in November 2010.
Houston, Texas (Ilyas Choudry / Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi): After months of hard work and preparation by the Coal Forum Committee of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce â€“ USA (PCC-USA), one of the leading organizations of the Pakistani-American businesspersons; PCC-USA organized the first ever Coal Forum at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Houston on November 18th, 2010, to inform about the presence of abundance of coal in Pakistan and as such attract investments into Pakistan in the coal energy generation sector. Coal Forum included several presentations by persons representing Government of Pakistan and US Energy Sector Companies; plus on the second day, one-on-one private meetings were held between the Pakistani Governmental Officials / PCC-USA Coal Forum Committee, and US Companies like WorleyParsons Group, Inc, Synthesis Energy Systems, Taggart Global LLC, Shaw Group, and JLP Minerals.
PCC-USA Coal Committee includes Waseem Rahim (Chairman), Zafar Mansuri, Asif Ehsan, Rashid Khokhar, Sheikh Muhammad Awais, and Saeed Shaikh.
Most appropriately as the keynote speaker during the lunch, PCC-USA Coal Forum Committee invited Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones. Texas Railroad Commission has the primary regulatory jurisdiction over oil and natural gas industry, pipeline transporters, natural gas & hazardous liquid pipeline industry, natural gas utilities, the LP-gas industry, and coal & uranium surface mining operations.
Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, who is considered one of the likely candidates to replace Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchinson as one of the Senators from Texas in 2012, said that just like in January 1901, Captain Anthony Lucas after two years of real hard-work, discovered the oil fields over the Spindletop Hill of Beaumont Texas (no previously discovered oil field in the world had ever been so productive), similarly the coal reserves in the most emerging country of Pakistan are waiting for their Captain Lucus and Thar can be the likely Spindletop Hill of Pakistan. As such Coal Forum of PCC-USA is one of those landmark events, which will eventually bring the energy independence to Pakistan in this fast becoming energy starved world. For US Companies to be involved in that expected energy boom out of Pakistan, which would bring much happiness to Pakistanis, people of that region, as well as Americans in this close-knit world, it is imperative a sound energy policy should come out of Washington, D.C.
Among many significant participants, some of the more prominent personalities at the forum included Consular General of Turkey in Houston Akil Oktem, Consular General of Pakistan in Houston Muhammad Aqil Nadeem, President of Turkish Chamber Celil Yakta, former US Ambassador to Qatar Chase Untermeyer, President of Pakistan Association of Greater Houston (PAG) Khalid Khan, former City of Houston Councilman M. J. Khan, candidate for City Council of Sugar Land Farah Ahmed, and Joseph Ringer of Export-Import Bank of the US (who informed that those who need capital to invest in Pakistan should contact him at 281-721-0467).
Earlier inaugurating the Coal Forum, the Chief Guest Ambassador of Pakistan Hussain Haqqani thanked PCC-USA for organizing such a well-planned event. He informed PPP government recognizes that coal is the most viable energy source for Pakistan. To realize the full potential of coal, Government of Pakistan has so far awarded four blocks to foreign investors. He agreed with the PCC-USA position that BIT should be negotiated in a speedy fashion.
Managing Director Thar Coal & Energy Board – Pakistan, Ajaz Ali Khan presented an extensive presentation on the Thar coal deposits and the efforts made by the government to tap them quickly. He provided insights into the volume of deposits that are estimated to be 187 billion tones. He briefed the audience on the blocks that are already awarded to foreign investors and the blocks that will be offered for auction in the coming months. He strongly encouraged US investors to participate in the bidding process, so that they become active participants. He informed that the incentives offered by Thar Coal Board include repatriation of profits in dollars and a minimum return on investment of 20% in dollar terms.
Khalid Mansoor, CEO, Sindh Engro Coal Mining, briefed the audience about the long term view of Engro in investing in coal fired power plants. He said the ten years scenario indicate that without using coal as feedstock for power generation, it may not be possible to finance the circular debt resulting from imported fuel. He said that Engro has partnered with Government of Sindh to create a mining company that will provide coal to a 1200 MW power plant built by Engro power. He said that the total project would cost over 12 billion dollars for which environmental studies have been completed and submitted to World Bank. He encouraged US Coal Technology companies to come forward and participate in Pakistanâ€™s coal initiative.
During the conference presentations were made by many, including Laique Rehman Chairman Advisory Council of CC-USA; Trevor Bailey, General Manager, Steam Products, GE; and Jim Powers, VP Coal Gasification, WorleyParsons. In response to a question, Mr. Bailey appreciated the efforts of PCC-USA and agreed to provide support to explore the creation of Coal Research Institute in Thar. Mr. Ajaz Ali Khan requested PCC-USA to work as a bridge between US and Pakistani companies to form joint ventures and alliances.
Earlier President of PCC-USA Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi in his welcome address stressed the need to use indigenous resources to bridge the supply demand gap in electric power. He insisted that clean coal technologies are now available to use for power generation. He requested the Government of Pakistan to put the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations on the fast track to attract more foreign direct investment from US investors. At the end of the program, he announced that this forum is a beginning of a long road towards development. The next milestone on this path is to form a delegation to visit Thar in early part of next year.
For this purpose, one can contact Waseem Rahim, Chairman Coal Forum, PCC-USA, International Trade Center, 11110 Bellaire Boulevard, Suite 202, Houston, Texas 77072, Phone: 1-281-701-1574, E-Mail: Rahim_Waseem@Yahoo.Com
About PCC-USA: Pakistan Chamber of Commerce-USA (PCC-USA) is the largest trade organization representing the interests of Pakistani-American businesses. PCC-USA is the only trade body with memorandum of understandings (MOUs) signed with Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Sialkot, and Haripur Chambers of Commerce & Industry. PCC-USA has also executed MOUs with Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Pakistan Gem & Jewelry Development Company (PGJDC). As a national organization we have chapters in San Diego, Los Angeles and New York with our headquarters based in Houston Texas. Contact: Mumtaz Khan, VP Media, Phone #: 281.744.6175, E-Mail: Info@PakistanChamberUSA.Com
File: Last year, University of Wisconsin then-freshman Mohammed Ahmed sprints into the finish line at the NCAA Division 1 cross country championships at the Lavern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Seelyville, Ind. Ahmed was the Badgersâ€™ top finisher in 30th place, earning All-American status. Jason McMahon — The Capital Times
TERRE HAUTE, IND. â€” Sophomores Mohammed Ahmed, Maverick Darling and senior Landon Peacock led the Univeristy of Wisconsin menâ€™s cross country team to a third-place finish at Mondayâ€™s NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Ahmed finished in 12th place, crossing the line in 30:03.4, to earn All-American honors for the second-consecutive year.
Born in Somalia, Ahmed moved to St. Catharines, Ontario, eight years ago with his parents and three younger brothers. During high school, he started to make a name for himself in cross-country running and track by competing for Canada at national and international junior championship meets.
Wisconsin wasnâ€™t on his short list during the recruiting process. â€œComing from Canada, all I was thinking about was getting out of the cold,â€ Ahmed recalls. â€œBut when I looked at my running career long term and my development as an athlete, the coaching philosophy here and the strong tradition, Wisconsin fit perfectly.â€
Ahmed also competes in the 3,000 meters (indoors), 5,000 meters, and on the Badger cross-country team.
– After early success, Indian shooters fail to keep up the good work
Guangzhou: The cueists continued their good run by providing a silver medal but the fancied shooters came a cropper in windy conditions, as India added two more medals to their kitty on the third day of competitions in the 16th Asian Games here Monday.
The performance of the snooker team comprising Yasin Merchant, Sneh Aditya Mehta and Brijsh Damani, who gave India their fourth silver, was the highpoint of an otherwise disappointing day, which saw most of the Indian sportspersons failing to make much of an impact.
The snooker trio proved too strong for Pakistan as they demolished their archrivals 3-0 to set up a gold medal clash against hosts China. While they lost to China 1-3 in the final, to be content with the silver, the menâ€™s tennis team bagged a bronze medal to take Indiaâ€™s medal tally to one gold, four silver and three bronze.
Sanam Singh gave a tough fight to Yang Tsung Hua but failed to convert his chances and went down after winning the opening set. He lost 7-6 (3), 2-6 6-7 in two hours and 44 minutes.
Somdev, ranked 105th in the world, brought India back into the rubber when he demolished Taipei rival Ti Chen 6-2 7-6 (4) in 1 hour and 39 minutes by out-hitting his rival from the base.
But the efforts seemed to have drained the Indian duo who were blown away in the doubles tie which they lost 6-4 7-6 (1) to settle for the bronze.
The paddlers endured a mixed day in the individual competitions with only Kumarsen Shamini making it to the second round of the mixed as well as womenâ€™s singles event.
In weightlifting, Indiaâ€™s medal hope K.Ravi Kumar failed to live up to expectations as he finished fifth with a below-par performance in the menâ€™s 69kg weightlifting.
The shooters, who have provided the bulk of the medals so far, were a big disappointment as they drew a blank at the Aoti shooting range with stars like Gagan Narang and Tejaswini Sawant failing to qualify, handicapped by windy conditions.
Narang was second best among Indians by finishing a lowly 24th with 587 points. But this is not the 27-year-old Commonwealth Games heroâ€™s main event at the distance and he would have a shot at the 50m three-position competition to be held on November 18.
Hariom Singh, who has already secured an Olympic berth in the same event at the Munich World Championship in August, was 13th from 54 shooters in the qualification stage. Third Indian entrant Surinder Singh Rathod was 27th with a tally of 586.
Indiaâ€™s first woman world champion in shooting, Tejaswini Sawant finished 11th with a score of 588 in the 50m rifle prone qualifiers, way below the top score of 595 notched up by eventual gold medallist Chengyi Wang of China.
Sawantâ€™s compatriots were no better with Meena (586) finishing 14th and Lajja Gauswami ending on the 16th spot with a score of 585.
The trio did not do too well in the 50m-rifle prone team event as well and signed off fifth with a score of 1759.
The disappointment continued for India in the menâ€™s 25m rapid-fire pistol event with the team of Rahul, Gurpreet Singh and Vijay Kumar finishing fourth with a total of 1711.
In swimming, Virdhawal Khade narrowly missed out on a medal and ended up fourth in the 50m freestyle event just 0.03 seconds behind the eventual bronze-medallist.
The 19-year-old Khade, who qualified with the fifth best timing of 22.98sec, clocked 22.87sec in the finals.
Indiaâ€™s Ashish Kumar finished a disappointing 23rd in a 24-participant field in the final of the menâ€™s individual all-round artistic gymnastics competition, while Sagolsem Somorjit finished a dismal last in the menâ€™s all-round nangun wushu competition.
Indian challenge in soft tennis came to an end after both the mixed doubles pairs failed to cross the first hurdle, losing to higher-ranked opponents.
Mixed doubles pair of Jitender Mehlda and Monica Murali Menon became a first round casualty after losing the opening round 5-0 to Mai Sasaki and Hidenori Shinohara of Japan.
In judo, Ramashrey Yadavâ€™s hopes of winning an Asian Games bronze medal went up in smoke as he lost in the menâ€™s 73kg repechage final at the Huagong Gymnasium here Monday.
Meanwhile, Indian Grandmaster Sasikiran Krishnan continued his unbeaten run with two wins and a draw Monday to sit at joint second after the seventh round, and remain in contention for a medal in the chess competition of the Asian Games here.
Another Indian in the menâ€™s section, Surya Sekhar Ganguly won two matches while lost one. Among women, Harika Dronavalli and Tania Sachdev are at joint fourth after the seventh round.
India beat Afghanistan 83-76 in a closely contested match to qualify for the group stage of basketball competition.
By Shahid Hashmi (AFP)
ABU DHABI â€” Pakistan left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman took three wickets and scored his maiden half-century to foil South Africaâ€™s attempts to win the second Test at Abu Dhabi Stadium on Tuesday.
Rehman checked South Africaâ€™s quest for quick runs in order to set a target for Pakistan with wickets of Alvior Petersen (35), Hashim Amla (62) and AB de Villiers (25) before South Africa closed the fourth day at 173-4, for an overall lead of 323.
Ashwell Prince was unbeaten on 27 and Mark Boucher was 13 not out on a day when the 30-year-old Rehman became Pakistanâ€™s saviour.
Rehman scored a career-best 60 to help Pakistan score 434 in their first-innings in reply to South Africaâ€™s mammoth 584-9 declared — the first time Pakistan crossed the 400-mark in a Test this year.
South Africa, for whom captain Graeme Smith couldnâ€™t open the innings after a recurrence of his finger injury, were running out of time to enforce a result in this match and the series which is tied at 0-0.
The first Test ended in a draw in Dubai last week.
Amla and Petersen gave South Africa a flying start of 81 before Rehman put the brakes on their progress, taking three wickets in the space of 36 balls. He removed Petersen, caught by Younis Khan in the last over before tea.
Amla, who completed 1,000 runs in the calendar year with his first shot for boundary, was bowled of an arm ball. Amla hit eight boundaries during his 64-ball rapid innings.
Amla is the third batsman behind Indian duo of Scahin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag to score 1,000 or more runs in this current year.
Rehman then trapped first innings double century maker AB de Villiers for 25, before Jacques Kallis fell to a loose shot off spinner Mohammad Hafeez for ten.
Rehman, who had figures of 3-73 off his 21 overs, said he was happy at his all-round performance.
â€œI am happy that my performance has saved my team and hopefully we will be able to save this Test because only odd ball is taking spin, so there is not much danger,â€ said Rehman.
In the morning, South Africa started on a positive note when they dismissed Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq for 77 off the first delivery of the day, trapped leg-before by paceman Dale Steyn.
Rehman then became Pakistanâ€™s last hope, adding 36 for the eighth wicket with Umar Gul, who scored 21, to bring Pakistan closer to avoiding follow-on.
When left-arm spinner Paul Harris (3-98) trapped Gul leg-before, Pakistan still needed 32 to avoid the humiliation of being asked to bat again, but Rehman hit Harris for a six and then took a single to avert the danger.
The Rehman-Tanveer Ahmed stand of 59 for the ninth wicket ended when Morne Morkel had debutant Ahmed out soon after lunch for 30.
Rehman hit eight boundaries and a six during his fighting, 139-ball knock, improving on his best score of 25 not out made against the same opponents in Lahore three years ago. Ahmed made 30.
He was the last man out, trapped leg-before by Johan Botha.
Steyn said the pitch was not good to bowl on.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t a great pitch to bowl on,â€ said Steyn. â€œIf we manage to get some quick runs, maybe we are able to set a target and pull it off.â€
By Ray McGovern
Why should George W. Bush have been angry to learn in late 2007 of the high-confidence unanimous judgment of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon four years earlier? Seems to me he might have said Hot Dog! rather than curse under his breath.
Nowhere in his memoir, Decision Points, is Bushs bizarre relationship with truth so manifest as when he describes his dismay at learning that the intelligence community had redeemed itself for its lies about Iraq by preparing an honest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. As the Bush book makes abundantly clear, that NIE rammed an iron rod through the wheels of the juggernaut rolling toward war.
Nowhere is Bushs abiding conviction clearer, now as then, that his role as decider includes the option to create his own reality.
The Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) has missed that part of the book. And hundreds of Dallas sheriffs, assembled to ensure decorum at the Bush library groundbreaking last week, kept us hoi polloi well out of presidential earshot.
But someone should ask Bush why he was not relieved, rather than angered, to learn from U.S. intelligence that Iran had had no active nuclear weapons program since 2003. And would someone dare ask why Bush thought Israel should have been furious with the United States over the NIE?
It seems likely that Bush actually dictated this part of the book himself. For, in setting down his reaction to the NIE on Iran, he unwittingly confirmed an insight that Dr. Justin Frank, M.D., who teaches psychiatry at George Washington University Hospital, gave us veteran intelligence officers into how Bush comes at reality or doesnt.
His pathology is a patchwork of false beliefs and incomplete information woven into what he asserts is the whole truth. He lies not just to us, but to himself as well. What makes lying so easy for Bush is his contempt for language, for law, and for anybody who dares question him. So his words mean nothing. That is very important for people to understand. (See Dangers of a Cornered Bush.)
Not Enough Sycophants
When the NIE on Iran came out in late 2007, Bush may have pined for his sycophant-in-chief, former CIA Director George Tenet, and his co-conspirator deputy, John McLaughlin, who had shepherded the bogus Iraq-WMD analysis through the process in 2002 but had resigned in 2004 when their role in the deceptions became so obvious that it shamed even them.
Tenet and his CIA cronies had been expert at preparing estimates-to-go to go to war, that is. They had proved themselves worthy rivals of the other CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, in cooking intelligence to the White House menu.
On Iraq, they had distinguished themselves by their willingness to conjure up intelligence that Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller described as uncorroborated, unconfirmed, and nonexistent after a five-year review by his panel. (That finding was no news to any attentive observer, despite Herculean and largely successful efforts by the FCM to promote drinking the White House Kool-Aid.)
What is surprising in the case of Iran is the candor with which George W. Bush explains his chagrin at learning of the unanimous judgment of the intelligence community that Iran had not been working on a nuclear weapon since late 2003. (There is even new doubt about reports that the Iranians were working on a nuclear warhead before 2003. See Iranian Nuke Documents May Be Fake.)
The Estimates findings were certainly not what the Israelis and their neoconservative allies in Washington had been telling the White House and not what President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were dutifully proclaiming to the rest of us.
Shocked at Honesty
Bush lets it all hang out in Decision Points. He complains bitterly that the NIE tied my hands on the military side. He notes that the Estimate opened with this eye-popping finding of the intelligence community:
We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.
The former president adds, The NIEs conclusion was so stunning that I felt it would immediately leak to the press. He writes that he authorized declassification of the key findings so that we could shape the news stories with the facts. Facts?
The mind boggles at the thought that Bush actually thought the White House, even with de rigueur help from an ever obliging FCM, could put a positive spin on intelligence conclusions that let a meretricious cat out of the bag that showed that the Bush administrations case for war against Iran was as flimsy as its bogus case for invading Iraq.
How painful it was to watch the contortions the hapless Stephen Hadley, national security adviser at the time, went through in trying to square that circle. His task was the more difficult since, unlike the experience with the dishonestly edited/declassified version of what some refer to as the Whore of Babylon the Oct. 1, 2002, NIE on WMD in Iraq, this time the managers of the Estimate made sure that the declassified version of the key judgments presented a faithful rendering of the main points in the classified Estimate.
A disappointed Bush writes, The backlash was immediate. [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad hailed the NIE as a great victory. Bushs apparent logic here is to use the widespread disdain for Ahmadinejad to discredit the NIE through association, i.e., whatever Ahmadinejad praises must be false.
But can you blame Bush for his chagrin? Alas, the NIE had knocked out the props from under the anti-Iran propaganda machine, imported duty-free from Israel and tuned up by neoconservatives here at home.
How embarrassing. Here before the world were the key judgments of an NIE, the most authoritative genre of intelligence analysis, unanimously approved with high confidence by 16 agencies and signed by the Director of National Intelligence, saying, in effect, that Bush and Cheney were lying about the Iranian nuclear threat.
It is inconceivable that as the drafting of the Estimate on Iran proceeded during 2007, the intelligence community would have kept the White House in the dark about the emerging tenor of its conclusions. And yet, just a month before the Estimate was issued, Bush was claiming that the threat from Iran could lead to World War III.
The Russians More Honest?
Ironically, Russian President Vladimir Putin, unencumbered by special pleading and faux intelligence, had come to the same conclusions as the NIE.
Putin told French President Nicolas Sarkozy in early October 2007:
We dont have information showing that Iran is striving to produce nuclear weapons. Thats why were proceeding on the basis that Iran does not have such plans.
In a mocking tone, Putin asked what evidence the U.S. and France had for asserting that Iran intends to make nuclear weapons. And, adding insult to injury, during a visit to Tehran on Oct. 16, 2007, Putin warned: Not only should we reject the use of force, but also the mention of force as a possibility.
This brought an interesting outburst by President Bush the next day at a press conference, a bizarre reaction complete with his famously tortured syntax:
Q. Mr. President, Id like to follow on Mr.on President Putins visit to Tehran about the words that Vladimir Putin said there. He issued a stern warning against potential U.S. military action against Tehran. Were you disappointed with [Putinâ€™s] message?
Bush: I as I say, I look forward to if those are, in fact, his comments, I look forward to having him clarify those. And so I will visit with him about it.
Q. But you definitively believe Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon?
Bush: I think so long until they suspend and/or make it clear that they that their statements arent real, yes, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. And I know its in the worlds interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace.
But this is we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So Ive told people that if youre interested in avoiding world war III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously, and well continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat.
Cant Handle the Truth
In his memoir, Bush laments: I dont know why the NIE was written the way it was. Whatever the explanation, the NIE had a big impact and not a good one. Spelling out how the Estimate had tied his hands on the military side, Bush included this (apparently unedited) kicker:
But after the NIE, how could I possible explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?
Thankfully, not even Dick Cheney could persuade Bush to repair the juggernaut and let it loose for war on Iran. The avuncular vice president has made it clear that he was very disappointed in his protÃ©gÃ©. On Aug. 30, 2009, he told Fox News Sunday that he was isolated among Bush advisers in his enthusiasm for war with Iran.
I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues, Cheney said when asked whether the Bush administration should have launched a pre-emptive attack on Iran before leaving office.
Bush briefed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before the NIE was released. Bush later said publicly that he did not agree with his own intelligence agencies. (For more on the Bush memoirs conflicts with the truth, see George W. Bush: Dupe or Deceiver?)
And it is entirely possible that the Iran-war juggernaut would have been repaired and turned loose anyway, were it not for strong opposition by the top military brass who convinced Bush that Cheney, his neocon friends and Olmert had no idea of the chaos that war with Iran would unleash.
Theres lots of evidence that this is precisely what Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen and then-CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon told Bush, in no uncertain terms. And it is a safe bet that these two were among those hinting broadly to Bush that the NIE was likely to leak, if he did not himself make its key judgments public.
What About Now?
The good news is that Cheney is gone and that Adm. Mullen is still around.
The bad news is that Adm. Fallon was sacked for making it explicitly clear that Were not going to do Iran on my watch, and there are few flag officers with Fallons guts and honesty. Moreover, President Barack Obama continues to show himself to be an invertebrate vis-Ã -vis Israel and its neocon disciples.
Meanwhile, a draft NIE update on Irans nuclear program, completed earlier this year, is dead in its tracks, apparently because anti-Iran hawks inside the Obama administration are afraid it will leak. It is said to repeat pretty much the same conclusions as the NIE from 2007.
There are other ominous signs. The new director of national intelligence, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, is a subscriber to the Tenet school of malleability. It was Clapper whom former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put in charge of imagery analysis to ensure that no one would cast serious doubt on all those neocon and Iraqi defector reports of WMD in Iraq.
And, when no WMD caches were found, it was Clapper who blithely suggested, without a shred of good evidence, that Saddam Hussein had sent them to Syria. This was a theory also being pushed by neocons both to deflect criticism of their false assurances about WMD in Iraq and to open a new military front against another Israeli nemesis, Syria.
In these circumstances, there may be some value in keeping the NIE update bottled up. At least that way, Clapper and other malleable managers wont have the chance to play chef to another cooked-to-order analysis.
On the other hand, the neocons and our invertebrate president may well decide to order Clapper to fix the updated Estimate to fit in better with a policy of confrontation toward Iran. In that case, the new director of national intelligence might want to think twice. For Clapper could come a cropper. How?
The experience of 2007 showed that there are still some honest intelligence analysts around with integrity and guts and with a strong aversion to managers who prostitute their work. This time around, such truth-tellers could opt for speedy, anonymous ways of getting the truth out like, say, WikiLeaks.
This article appeared first on ConsortiumNews.com.
[Raymond McGovern is a retired CIA officer and Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents over 27 years. He presented the morning intelligence briefings at the White House for many of them.]
Glue, like paste or cement, joins things together. These are known as adhesives because they make things adhere, or stick together. Stickiness, however, is not all that it takes.
In order for an adhesive to be practical, it must change from a soft liquid to a hard solid within a short period of time. Sticky substances such as honey, syrup, and chewing gum are not good adhesives because they take too long to harden.
If you were to look at any solid substance under a microscope, you would notice that even those we think of as perfectly smooth actually have bumps and spaces.
Suppose you are making a model that requires you to join two pieces of wood. You would apply the adhesive to one surface and place the other on top.
What the glue does is flow into all the little bumps and spaces of the two surfaces of wood. When it dries and hardens, it grips the two surfaces together.
Glue is made from the skin, bones, and tissues of animals and fish!
The secret ingredient in all the super glues on the market is Cyanoacrylate, an acrylic resin that bonds instantly. When the glue comes into contact with hydroxy 1 ions with water, it bonds. Cyanocrylate is the main ingredient in dozens of glues that are advertised as super glues or instant bonding glues. The Original Super Glue Corporation lists these glues under brand names that include Bondini, Pacer, Zap, and Pro Seal.
The term, â€œsuper glue fuming,â€ is related to the techinique that can be done at crime scene investigations. When cyanoacrylate, or any of the super glues, are heated in an air tight container, the cyanoacrylate evaporates and then reacts to traces of anything that has been left behind on surfaces. This technique has been useful for lifting finger prints in crime scene investigations. Current research efforts to imitate the natural adhesive found on the â€œfeetâ€ of mussels is underway. Mussels have a natural epoxy adhesive on their â€œfeetâ€ that is even stronger than the chemical version in super glue. The problem with using the natural epoxy glue from mussels is that it would take an endless supply of mussels to make even a small quantity for the use as a glue. Medical grade super glues have been used to close wounds instead of stitches, and the potential for larger surgery use is great. The invasiveness of stitches is eliminated when a super glue is used to cover an open wound area. Researchers are even looking into the possible use of super glue in sealing up larger internal wounds. Super Glue has one enemy that can dissolve its bond. Acetone has the power to unglue and remove traces of super glues from surfaces, and even human skin. Acetone is commonly found in many household products. The most common form of acetone suggested for removing super glue from skin, or for unbonding use, is nail polish remover.
Keeping a bottle of nail polish remover in the house can be helpful for small accidental super bonding, but sometimes serious accidental bonding requires medical attention.
There are endless practical uses for super glues. Many household projects or repairs can benefit from the storng holding and bonding power of super glue. Broken china, knick-knacks, and loose paneling can all be fixed with a few drops of a super glue. The specialty variations of super glues include a super glue type for nearly any purpose. There are gel and wood project variations of the glue, and super glues for large appliances and household items.
Generic super glues can often be found at discount stores and the Dollar Store. These glues contain the same main ingredient of cyanacrylate, which will do the job and save a few dollars in most cases. Itâ€™s worth stocking a few small tubes or plastic containers of super glue for household emergencies. This wonder glue can work permanent miracles.Elsie the Cow became Bordenâ€™s very popular â€œSpokescowâ€ in the late 1930â€™s. She was a big hit at the 1939 New York Worldâ€™s Fair, and soon afterwards the character of Elmer the Bull was created as Elsieâ€™s husband. In the late 1940â€™s, Bordenâ€™s new Chemical Division asked to use Elsie for its new white glue product. The thought of Elsie representing a non-food product didnâ€™t seem appropriate, so as a compromise, Elmer was loaned to Chemical as their very own â€œspokesbullâ€. To this day, Elmer the Bull still represents the most recognized adhesive company.Elmerâ€™s Glues are chemical based. They are made or formulated from chemicals which are synthesized (created by Man). These chemicals were originally obtained or manufactured from petroleum, natural gas and other raw materials found in Nature. The exact formula and specific ingredients used in making Elmerâ€™s products are considered proprietary information, therefore, we cannot share those with you.Although there are many ingredients used to make glue, most formulas contain something called polymers. A polymer is a large molecule that often is described as being a long molecular strand, much like spaghetti. Some polymers are naturally â€œstickyâ€ depending on how they are made. Others require certain ingredients called tackifiers to make them sticky. One of our many challenges here at Elmerâ€™s is to be sure we have exactly the right balance of polymers and tackifiers to create a glue that is sticky and strong.