After Big Delays, Kuwait Moves Ahead On Infrastructure

By Sylvia Westall and Ahmed Hagagy



KUWAIT, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Freight trucks trundle down the dusty, potholed roads of Kuwait’s busiest port, running into traffic jams as they emerge into the surrounding streets. But after years of inaction, the government is finally moving to ease the congestion.

It is pushing ahead with a $2.6 billion plan to build a 36 km (22 mile) causeway, one of the longest in the world, connecting Shuwaikh port and densely populated southern Kuwait with the north of the country, near the Iraqi border.

Such big projects were stalled for years by political wrangling and bureaucratic inertia, leaving Kuwait with underdeveloped infrastructure and low levels of foreign investment in relation to its huge oil wealth.

In the last few months, however, authorities have begun issuing contracts for some of the projects, raising hopes that one of the region’s most under-performing economies may finally live up to its potential.

The government signed a contract with South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co in November to design and build the causeway over the next five years. Construction is due to start later this year.

“It is a very strategic project – we have been talking about this since the 1970s,” Abdulaziz Alkulaib, undersecretary at the Ministry of Public Works, told Reuters.

Last month, Kuwait signed a deal with a consortium led by France’s GDF-Suez, and including Sumitomo Corp of Japan, to build the Az Zour gas-fired power and seawater treatment plant in Kuwait.

This was seen as a breakthrough because it is the first of Kuwait’s major public-private partnerships, in which private firms will help to operate infrastructure. Once running in 2015, the plant is to account for some 12 percent of Kuwait’s power generation capacity and a quarter of desalination capacity.

“It has taken a long time for these projects to begin, but this is an encouraging step,” said Daniel Kaye, senior manager for economic research at National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).

“It sends a positive signal to businesses and investors that projects are at last moving.”


The causeway and Az Zour projects are part of a 30 billion dinar ($107 billion) development plan that aims to diversify the economy and was approved by the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, in 2010. The plan also includes a new airport terminal, an oil refinery, a metro system and hospitals.

In the fiscal year 2010/11, the first year of the plan, the government spent only 62 percent of its target on the projects, and it has continued to undershoot targets since then.

One reason is the technical and administrative difficulties of carrying out complex projects through a government which lacks experience, expertise and a reputation for efficiency.

Politics have been an even bigger obstacle. Continual feuding between an elected legislature and the cabinet, chosen by a prime minister who is appointed by Sheikh Sabah, blocked parliamentary approval of development funds and led to a series of cabinet reshuffles which distracted from policymaking.

Last year the country was rocked by large youth- and opposition-led demonstrations demanding political reforms. The protests did not constitute an Arab Spring-style campaign for regime change, but they also distracted the government.

In the past few months, however, the environment for economic policy-making has improved. After parliament was dissolved ahead of snap elections on Dec. 1, the government was able to use executive powers to push through a raft of legislative measures and approvals.

Opposition MPs, some of whom had blocked state spending in the past, boycotted the elections. The result was a new 50-seat parliament with a larger number of pro-government legislators and political newcomers, who may be more willing to comply with the cabinet’s plans.

Government officials are certainly adopting a considerably more decisive tone.

“This is in the master plan and it is set out by emiri decree. Whatever is in that master plan has to be implemented,” Alkulaib said of the causeway project.

Such statements are cheering the stock market, where the main index sank to an eight-year low last November but has since climbed about 12 percent.


The new mood of optimism does not necessarily mean the government will get an easy ride for its projects. Political tensions have not disappeared and street protests have continued since the December elections, presenting the risk that political turmoil could eventually worsen again.

A majority of lawmakers in the new parliament voted last week to form a special committee to probe the process under which the contacts for the causeway and Az Zour were awarded; the committee is expected to reach a conclusion in three months.

NBK’s Kaye said it was important not to get carried away about prospects for investment in Kuwait because there were still political, technical and administrative hurdles.

“But we do now detect a greater determination on the part of the authorities to push ahead with key development projects.”

Kuwaiti economists say the causeway, which will cut the road distance between the north and south of Kuwait by two-thirds, will help to develop the neglected north of the country, where an urban area called Silk City is planned.

“Urbanisation in Kuwait is located in the southern coastal area but there is planned urbanisation in the northern region as part of the plan,” said Abbas al-Muqrin, professor of economics at the University of Kuwait.

“The shortcut to gain access to this area will revive the region economically.”

Silk City’s name recalls the Silk Road, the web of trade routes which linked Europe and Asia centuries ago, and the project is designed to form part of a trade hub near a planned new port, Mubarak al-Kabeer. Some economists think the port could eventually become a rival to Iraq’s Umm Qasr.

Kuwaiti authorities hope Silk City will become home to around 530,000 people, or about 14 percent of the country’s current population.

“The causeway will create new chances for people to work there and live there,” senior project engineer Mai Ebrahim al-Mesad said. “It will be a signature for Kuwait.”


MDP Convention

By Faiz Khan and TMO Staff

photoOver 3600 people attended the Michigan Democratic Party’s convention at the Cobo Center in Detroit on Saturday February 23rd. 

As in the past, the Pakistani American Caucus participated at the event.  Many community members were in attendance. 

The Pakistani Caucus welcomed many elected officials and some candidates for various positions during the event.  Some of the many prominent guests who addressed the caucus included US Congressman Gary Peters, State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, State Rep. Sam Singh, Mrs. Juliana Smoot, and many more.


Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib Fundraiser in Dearborn

By TMO Staff

news190Dearborn–February 25–Rep. Rashida Tlaib spoke at a fundraiser this Monday in Dearborn, to committed supporters.  She made a point of thanking all those who had supported her in her elections, including  AAI’s I. Ahmed, Robert Ficano, Syed Taj, and the Muslim Observer. 

More than 50% of those present at the fundraiser actually happened to be Muslim Observer subscribers.

She thanked all those who had helped her win her election, and she explained her love of the city of Detroit and of her constituents in her district, and she said that she would do anything to help Detroit progress and improve.

At her office she works in human welfare, and she explained how she had used her office to help one family with six children that was on the verge of being foreclosed on because of past due payments–she had saved this family’s house for them and she noted that a church group had thanked her profusely for doing the good work of saving this family from a cruel eviction.

Rep. Tlaib explained she would always be ready to serve her community, her state, and her country.

Dr. Muzammil Ahmed, a prominent sponsor of Rep. Talib, was also ein attendance–he is the chairman of the Democratic party and chair of the MMCC.

Many of the leaders of the Arab community were also present.


Dry Eye


Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when the tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly.

In addition, inflammation of the surface of the eye may occur along with dry eye. If left untreated, this condition can lead to pain, ulcers, or scars on the cornea, and some loss of vision. However, permanent loss of vision from dry eye is uncommon.

Dry eye can make it more difficult to perform some activities, such as using a computer or reading for an extended period of time, and it can decrease tolerance for dry environments, such as the air inside an airplane.

Other names for dry eye include dry eye syndrome, keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), dysfunctional tear syndrome, lacrimal keratoconjunctivitis, evaporative tear deficiency, aqueous tear deficiency, and LASIK-induced neurotrophic epitheliopathy (LNE).

Aqueous tear-deficient dry eye is a disorder in which the lacrimal glands fail to produce enough of the watery component of tears to maintain a healthy eye surface. Evaporative dry eye may result from inflammation of the meibomian glands, also located in the eyelids. These glands make the lipid or oily part of tears that slows evaporation and keeps the tears stable.

Dry eye can be associated with:

•    inflammation of the surface of the eye, the lacrimal gland, or the conjunctiva;
•    any disease process that alters the components of the tears;
•    an increase in the surface of the eye, as in thyroid disease when the eye protrudes forward;
•    cosmetic surgery, if the eyelids are opened too widely.

The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped outer surface that covers the eye in front of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The cornea helps protect the rest of the eye from germs, dust, and other harmful matter. The cornea bends, or refracts, light entering the eye, and accounts for most of the eye’s total focusing power. It also serves as a filter to screen out most of the damaging ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths in sunlight.

The cornea is a highly organized, clear structure made up of a group of cells and proteins precisely arranged in layers, but it has no blood vessels to nourish or protect it against infection. Instead, it receives its nourishment from the tears and the watery fluid (aqueous humor) that fills the chamber behind it.

Tears, made by the lacrimal gland, are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. Tears bathe the surface of the eye, keeping it moist, and wash away dust and debris. They also help protect the eye from bacterial and other types of infections.

Tears are composed of three major components: a) outer, oily, lipid layer produced by the meibomian glands; b) middle, watery, lacrimal layer produced by the lacrimal glands; and c) inner, mucous or mucin layer produced by goblet cells located within a thin transparent layer over the white part of the eye and covering the inner surface of the eyelids. Tears are made of proteins (including growth factors), electrolytes, and vitamins that are critical to maintain the health of the eye surface and to prevent infection.

Tears are constantly produced to bathe, nourish, and protect the eye surface. They are also produced in response to emergencies, such as a particle of dust in the eye, an infection or irritation of the eye, or an onset of strong emotions. When the lacrimal glands fail to produce sufficient tears, dry eye can result.

Any disease process that alters the components of tears can make them unhealthy and result in dry eye.

Elderly people frequently experience dryness of the eyes, but dry eye can occur at any age. Nearly five million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye. Of these, more than three million are women and more than one and a half million are men. Tens of millions more have less severe symptoms. Dry eye is more common after menopause. Women who experience menopause prematurely are more likely to have eye surface damage from dry eye.

Depending on the causes of dry eye, your doctor may use various approaches to relieve the symptoms.

Dry eye can be managed as an ongoing condition. The first priority is to determine if a disease is the underlying cause of the dry eye (such as Sjögren’s syndrome or lacrimal and meibomian gland dysfunction). If it is, then the underlying disease needs to be treated.

Cyclosporine, an anti-inflammatory medication, is the only prescription drug available to treat dry eye. It decreases corneal damage, increases basic tear production, and reduces symptoms of dry eye. It may take three to six months of twice-a-day dosages for the medication to work. In some cases of severe dry eye, short term use of corticosteroid eye drops that decrease inflammation is required.

If dry eye results from taking a medication, your doctor may recommend switching to a medication that does not cause the dry eye side effect.

If contact lens wear is the problem, your eye care practitioner may recommend another type of lens or reducing the number of hours you wear your lenses. In the case of severe dry eye, your eye care professional may advise you not to wear contact lenses at all.

Another option is to plug the drainage holes, small circular openings at the inner corners of the eyelids where tears drain from the eye into the nose. Lacrimal plugs, also called punctal plugs, can be inserted painlessly by an eye care professional. The patient usually does not feel them. These plugs are made of silicone or collagen, are reversible, and are a temporary measure. In severe cases, permanent plugs may be considered.

In some cases, a simple surgery, called punctal cautery, is recommended to permanently close the drainage holes. The procedure helps keep the limited volume of tears on the eye for a longer period of time.

In some patients with dry eye, supplements or dietary sources (such as tuna fish) of omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA and EPA) may decrease symptoms of irritation. The use and dosage of nutritional supplements and vitamins should be discussed with your primary medical doctor.


Unique Event for Syria in Houston: More to Come: So Don’t Miss Them

By Ilyas Choudry, TMO

IMG_0476 IMG_0481

Right: Abdullah Elasmar: Lead Person of the Famous Lanterns for Syria Event. Left:  Dr. Malak Chabkoun: Emcee of the Event.

This past Sunday at the Houston Arab American Cultural & Community Center (ACC), an unique event was held to make special prayers for the innocent victims of the volatility in Syria, raise awareness about the humanitarian issues, and raise micro funds by involving common people of the community. An E-Mail has been received from one of the organizers of the event, which we will like to share:

We want to appreciate all those who came to our Syria Awareness Event. Thanks to our young team of volunteers, who did a phenomenal job, in putting together this event.

All those who came, saw several videos and power-points, on as to what is happening to humanity in Syria. You must have been inspired by the words of all speakers, including the two Emcees Malak Chabkoun & Ayub Hagi-Mohamed. Then Abdallah Bomouediene of LIFE, ILyas Hasan Choudry of Helping Hand USA, and our keynote speaker Shahir Raslan of Atlanta.

If you missed the event, InShaAllah stay tuned, as we will try our best to have more of these quite serene and somber events, plus maybe one bigger event. Contributions can still be made at: – Or you can call me at 1-832-275-0786.

People of several diversified communities were there, including Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Spanish, Turkish, African-American, and Middle Eastern. Event was simple and low expense, with refreshments served (no lavish food). Also fundraising was very informal, where you know in formal setting, someone stands in front of the people to ask from $10,000 to $5,000, to $2,500, and so on: That kind of fundraiser was not done: It was just closed envelope fundraiser and everyone was just encouraged to donate from $1 to as much as they can give. Idea with this kind of event is to bring communities together to first & foremost Pray for the humanity, and then get chance to give a little bit whatever they can, so that there are more & more Blessings.

Yes: Big patrons are always needed, but small donations are even as valuable as any other, as one never know if someone has given $50 how much hard-work that person may have done to have earned those $50: So making it a grassroots level educational, awareness, and fundraising effort was the idea behind this event.

By the Grace of God, this simple but unique event was able to raise $120,000+ for the humanity in dire needs.

May Allah SWT Bless you all, your families, and accept all of ours very small efforts for the humanity (Aameen).”


Aboushi Awaiting NFL Draft

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of,

aboushi-sandy-football.jpeg-460x307University of Virginia left tackle Oday Aboushi looks to be the highest-rated Muslim football player available in this April’s NFL Draft. Aboushi started every game for Virginia each of the last three seasons. A 6-6, 310-pound junior from Staten Island, N.Y., Aboushi is the son of Palestinian immigrants. The family still speaks some Arabic at home.

He spoke with last August about the challenges of balancing his duties as a Muslim with the rigors of Division I college football. “I try to get all the prayers in,” he told “I do Friday prayers when I can, when we’re not traveling.”

Aboushi also has fasted during Ramadan, both in high school, and in college.  “Some days are tougher than other ones,” Aboushi told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “It’s about knowing the feeling of hunger, and being grateful you know where your next meal is coming from.”

In 2011, Aboushi received the honor of being invited to a State Department reception for Muslim athletes, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Among the other attendees was boxer Amir Khan, Denver Nuggets basketball player Kenneth Faried, and former offensive lineman Ephraim Salaam who observed Ramadan for all 13 seasons he played in the NFL. “There are plenty of people who’ve done it before me,” he told afterward. “It was tough but doable.” ranks Oday as the 102nd best prospect overall in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft, and writes:

“Naturally large man with good overall weight distribution. Experienced at both left and right tackle. Shows at least adequate initial quickness off the snap. Gets a strong initial punch onto the defender and possesses the heavy hands to latch on and control his opponent. Extremely physical and aggressive player. Looks to dominate his target and will pancake or drive him deep downfield whenever he can. Rolls his hips into contact and keeps his legs churning to knock defenders off the ball. Good effort blocking at the second level. Solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Voted a team captain in 2012. Mentally tough individual…”

The 2013 NFL Draft will take place April 25th through April 27th.


Jaziri Gives Roger Federer A Scare

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of,

31jaziri-blog480The toast of Tunisian tennis, Malek Jafrizi, got a rise out of tennis legend Roger Federer by taking the first set in their first round match this week at the Dubai Championships. The 128th-ranked Jaziri was facing Federer for the first time, after qualifying for the tournament as a wild card. In the first set, Jaziri broke Federer’s serve to go up 6-5. And then served out the first set to take it 7-5. However, Federer thoroughly dominated thereafter, winning the second set 6-0 in only 23 minutes, and then breaking Jaziri’s serve twice in the third set to close it out 6-2.

Jaziri reached his highest individual ranking on the ATP Tour on June 11, 2012, when he became world number 69. He appeared in the qualifying draw at the 2010 Australian Open, losing in the first round to Michał Przysiężny of Poland. Jaziri qualified for the 2011 US Open, In the first round, Jaziri defeated World No. 159 Thiemo de Bakker in four sets. Jaziri lost to World No. 8 Mardy Fish 6–2 6–2 6–4 in the second round.

In 2012, he reached the second round in his Wimbledon debut and also the second round at the 2012 London Olympic, losing to American John Isner. He lost in the first round of the 2012 US Open, and followed that up with his best ever result on the ATP World Tour when he reached the semi-finals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, losing to eventual champion Andreas Seppi. In the process he became the first Tunisian male to reach the semi-finals of an ATP event. Jaziri has been a member of the Tunisian Davis Cup team since 2000, posting an 18–12 record in singles and a 7–10 record in doubles in 29 Davis Cup ties.


‘Traces of Pork’ Found in UK Prison Food Served as Halal

Press Association

Supplier of meat pies and pasties to prisons suspended after FSA informed of contamination

The Ministry of Justice is suspending one of the suppliers of meat to prisons after it discovered that halal pies and pasties sourced from a properly halal certificated supplier may contain traces of non-halal meat.

The products concerned have been withdrawn immediately, a spokesman said.

He added: “All prisons have been informed about this very regrettable incident and we reported this issue to the Food Standards Agency immediately.

“We are taking immediate steps to suspend the contract with the relevant subcontractor.”

Justice minister Jeremy Wright said: “This is an absolutely unacceptable situation and one which we regret greatly. Clearly this must be distressing for those affected and they can be reassured we are doing everything we can to resolve the situation. The prison service is investigating this as a matter of urgency.

The FSA said the incident involved traces of pork.

A spokeswoman said: “The FSA has been informed that a number of meat pies and pasties supplied to UK prisons which were labelled and served as halal contained traces of pork DNA. The local authority is investigating how this contamination came about and whether these products have been distributed further across the UK.”

This related to the local authority where the supplier is based, she said. She declined to say which one it was.

On a more general theme relating to recent stories about mis-description of food, she said: “People have a right to expect that the food they are eating is correctly described. We have called an urgent meeting of major retailers and suppliers on Monday to ensure that everyone is fully aware of their responsibilities.

“It is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure the food they sell contains what it says on the label. We are considering, with relevant local authorities, whether legal action is appropriate following the investigation.”

The Prison Reform Trust said it welcomed the immediate apology and investigation.

Its director Juliet Lyon said: “This is not a matter of dietary preference but of Islamic law.

“There are clear hospital and prison rules that halal meat must be on the menu.

“This lapse will have offended and distressed high numbers of Muslim prisoners and their families so apologising, suspending the supplier and investigating the incident are the right steps for the Ministry of Justice to take.”

Food and farming minister David Heath said: “People have a right to expect that the food they are eating is correctly described. I have made it clear that I want an urgent meeting with major retailers and suppliers first thing next week to get to the bottom of this completely unacceptable situation.”


Successful Joint Arab American Meeting

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) Services California and the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) held a joint meeting in Anaheim, California this past week. In the nearly ten years of its existence NNAAC has been working with independent Arab outreach community groups for the purpose of strengthening and empowering them to better perform their missions.

Jaime Kim, visiting from the national office of NNAAC in Dearborn Michigan, presided over the event. It was the fifth group she visited, the predecessors being New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Houston with San Francisco and Dearborn to follow.

Ms Kim said that she was at the meeting to listen and stated the interests of the national organization. They were to strengthen the work of local Arab community groups and to work collectively to address local needs on a national level.

She called for a discussion. The discussion would submit the problems that are current with suggestions for their resolution and also address the dreams for what the Arab American community would look like to see realized 20 years hence.The discussion that followed was vibrant and gave insight into the state of the Arab American community. Ms Kim mentioned some accomplishments on the part of the NNAAC which included but were not limited to the institution of Arab American Service Day, an annual conference, and support through grants.

One speaker said that since 9/11, distant as it is, many situations for Arab Americans have gotten worse. The capacity audience seemed to agree. Another speaker said she would like to see an Arab Museum that will detail the accomplishments of Arabs in general and Arab Americans in particular. Still another speaker spoke of the need for books on Arab history. Many in the audience spoke of the necessity to involve youth, both teenagers and young adults, albeit their needs should be addressed separately. The audience enthusiastically supported a community center for Arabs Americans either purchased for that purpose or rented on a regular basis from an existing building.

An audience member pointed out that, given the situation in the Middle East, we will soon see a great influx of refugees which we will be under equipped to deal with. Another member said that she would like to see endowed Arab Chairs at universities.

Expressing her pleasure at the vibrant responses of the audience, Ms Kim then proceeded to the second part of the discussion: what dream would we like to see realized in 20 years.

Most agreed that they would want an Arab Community Center and Arab Town Halls. They would hope that when candidates for local or national office ran their campaigns they would seek the input of the Arab communities.

When the meeting was adjourned the audience broke up into smaller discussion groups. It was decided to hold another similar meeting in two months, since the enthusiasm was great but there was so much to resolve.

Ali Saleh, the current mayor of the city of Bell, California was present. Bell became nationally famous for the exorbitant salaries its mayor and governing board paid themselves. They are currently on trial for their behavior. Ali Saleh, an Arab Muslim, was subsequently elected mayor and performed a feat virtually unheard of in politics: he returned money to the people.

To access the NNAAC, please use the following web site:  To visit the web site of ACCESS Services California, please visit them at:


Pressure Mounts on Israel as Protests Escalate

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Karin_April_2,_2009_008On February 23, Mohammed Al Namrooti from Gaza doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire in the street Tibet-style to protest the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Daily demonstrations this week in Jerusalem and the West Bank have been answered by Israeli soldiers using tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets, and stun grenades.

Arafat Jaradat, a 33 year old father of two who worked at a West Bank gas station, was arrested for allegedly throwing stones. Days later, Israeli officials reported that Jaradat had died of a heart attack during interrogation at Megiddo Prison on Saturday, February 23.

Physicians for Human Rights issued a statement casting doubt on the Israeli medical examiner (translated Hebrew):

“Who is the doctor who operated on the body of Arafat Jaradat, a prisoner who died Saturday at Megiddo Prison? None other than Prof. Yehuda Hiss, who was dismissed from his post in October 2012 as the chief medical examiner of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in the wake of many failures that occurred during the morgue management, including harvesting organs from the bodies, without the consent of the deceased or their families.”

An autopsy conducted in the presence of Palestinian officials revealed that Arafat Jaradat died of extreme torture in Israeli custody, not cardiac arrest, the PA Minister of Detainee Affairs said Sunday. Issa Qaraqe said Jaradat had six broken bones in his neck, spine, arms and legs.

Jaradat’s lawyer Kameel Sabbagh was the last person to see him:

“When I entered the courtroom I saw Jaradat sitting on a wooden chair in front of the judge. His back was hunched and he looked sick and fragile. When I sat next to him he told me that he had serious pains in his back and other parts of his body because he was being beaten up and hanged for many long hours while he was being investigated. When Jaradat heard that the judge postponed his hearing he seemed extremely afraid.”

Jadarat was given a hero’s funeral in Sa’ir, near Hebron. At least 8,000 people flowed into the streets to pay their respects. Dalal, the martyr’s wife, who is pregnant, announced that she would name her son Arafat, after his father.

Jaradat’s funeral coincided with the 19th anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in Hebron committed by a Jewish settler from Brooklyn, Baruch Goldstein on February 25, 1994 in the holy month of Ramadan during dawn prayer. Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinian worshippers and wounded 150 others, while they were in prostration.

UN envoy Robert Serry warned that “mounting tensions present a real risk of destabilization.”

This week also the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate organized a sit-in strike to protest Israel’s intensified assaults against Palestinian journalists, as several journalists were directly targeted during confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters, Ma’an reports.

Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’neh was arrested by occupation forces as he was returning from a visit to Jordan on Feb 16, 2013. Since then, he has been unable to see a lawyer and his family is frantic with worry, as they have no news of him.

UK human rights group, War on Want called on the British security firm G4S, which provides services to the Israeli Prison Authority, to end all dealings with the Israeli Prison Authority (IPA). G4S made the news in October 2010 when security guards working for Heathrow Airport killed Angolan Jimmy Mubenga aboard a British Airways flight while detaining him for deportation. G4S signs are prominently displayed all around Meggido jail.

Demanding that G4S “withdraws from contracts to supply Israeli prisons” in the wake of reports of torture, War on Want campaigner Rafeef Ziadah said: “G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons where Palestinian political prisoners, including child prisoners, are detained and tortured. This British company is profiting from human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. The terrible death of Arafat Jaradat highlights the urgent need for G4S to ends its complicity in Israel’s prison system.”

“79 detainees have died in prison since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (in September 2000) due to torture, medical neglect, excessive use of force by the soldiers and interrogators, in addition to several detainees who were executed by the arresting officers,” Palestinian Researcher Abdul-Nasser Farawna stated.

Hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners held a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with Samer Issawi and fellow long-term strikers Ayman Sharawna, Tarek Qa’adan and Jaafar Azzidine, reports Electronic Intifada. Two of the striking prisoners were hospitalized Thursday, according to a spokeswoman for the Israeli Prisons Service, reports the Washington Post.
Israel’s Jerusalem magistrate court has ruled to release Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi on March 6, 2013. But Issawi’s case will now be transferred to a military court which may rule to extend his imprisonment to his complete sentence of 20 years. Activists have quoted Issawi’s sister as saying he is continuing his hunger strike in spite of the court ruling.
International Solidarity Movement reports that nine Palestinians from Hebron, mostly family members of hunger-striking prisoners, are on hunger strike to express support for, and raise awareness of, the plight of Palestinian political prisoners:

“They began their strike last Saturday, and gained much media attention thanks to their presence in a solidarity tent in Hebron in the midst of Monday’s demonstration in support of prisoners.”
Teacher Nahil Abu Aisha from Hebron explained, “The whole world needs to know what’s going on here.”

Meanwhile, the lawyer for Dirar Abu Sisi, the technical director at Gaza’s sole electricity plant, who was kidnapped in Ukraine in 2011 and is currently held in solitary confinement in Israel, is “losing his ability to recall language and has speech impairments, a lawyer who visited him in jail said Sunday,” Ma’an reported.

Abu Sisi was the only prisoner excluded from a May 2012 deal with Israeli authorities to end solitary confinement, according to prisoners rights group Addameer. The deal, which included several terms to improve prisoners conditions, was made to end an earlier mass hunger strike campaign launched by Palestinian prisoners.

The worsening condition of the prisoners has brought expressions of concern this week from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the European Union. US president Barack Obama is due to visit Israel and the West Bank next month, largely as a result of European pressure.


Syria Opposition to Join Rome Talks After Foreign Aid Pledge

fsa fighters

The UK said it was ready to ‘significantly increase’ its support for Syria’s opposition

The Syrian opposition has agreed to attend an international summit in Rome, after the US and UK “promised specific aid” to the Syrian people.

The group had previously announced it would boycott the talks because of “the world’s silence” over the violence.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Minister William Hague earlier confirmed there would be more support for Syria’s opposition.

Mr Kerry was in London as part of his first foreign trip since taking office.

The Syrian opposition’s announcement came amid reports of a deadly explosion and heavy fighting in an eastern part of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

It also emerged on Monday that a member of the UN peacekeeping force monitoring the ceasefire between Israeli and Syrian troops in the demilitarised Golan Heights was missing.

“We can confirm that a staff member is not accounted for and we are in touch with the relevant parties to determine what has happened,” UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey told the Associated Press.

‘Alleviate the suffering’

After meeting Mr Hague and British Prime Minister David Cameron, Mr Kerry called Syrian Opposition Council President Moaz Al-Khatib and encouraged him to join the Rome talks on Thursday.
No further details have been released about the conversation.

But on Monday evening, Mr al-Khatib said in a Facebook post that his group would fly to Italy.

“After discussions with coalition leaders and various calls, the coalition leadership has decided to stop the suspension of the visit to the Friends of Syria conference in Rome,” the statement said.

John Kerry, less than a month into his new job as the US’ top diplomat, has already hit the ground running. At the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Monday, he appeared to speak directly to the Syrian opposition from his podium in the room full of US and UK press – citing his new role as a “ripe” moment to move forward.

“We understand the Syrian people want to see results and I would say to al-Khatib so do we,” he said. The state department said later that Mr Kerry called Mr Khatib directly. A spokesman told the broadcaster al-Arabiya they would send a delegation.

And then came the clear signal from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem that the Assad regime fears for its future: they are prepared to hold talks with the armed opposition. But the rebels are unlikely to sit down with them.

More specifically Mr Kerry and Mr Hague had both offered guarantees “to alleviate the suffering of our people”.

The talks would be “used as a practical way to reassess relations between the Syrian opposition and international parties”, the post said.

Mr Kerry is due to meet Syrian opposition members and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Berlin on Tuesday.

The US Secretary of State, who succeeded Hillary Clinton, is on an 11-day tour of Europe and the Middle East.

Speaking in London, Mr Kerry said he understood Syrians wanted results from the summit and promised it would not just be a talking shop.

“We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind, wondering where the support is, if it is coming,’’ he told reporters after meeting Mr Cameron and Mr Hague.

“We are not going to let the Syrian opposition not have its ability to have its voice properly heard in this process.”

Mr Hague also said the UK was preparing to “significantly increase” its support for Syria’s opposition.

Earlier, the Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem had announced his government was ready for talks with its opponents, even armed rebels.
John Kerry: “The Syrian people deserve better than the horrific violence that invades and threatens their everyday lives”

Meanwhile, a massive blast was reported in the al-Qaboun neighbourhood in Damascus on Monday evening.

Several Syrian security were killed in the explosion caused by a car bomb, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group.

Rebels were clashing with security forces and mortars had been fired in the area, it added.

The SOHR is one of the most prominent organisations documenting and reporting incidents and casualties in the Syrian conflict.

The group says its reports are impartial, though its information cannot be independently verified.


The Crying Butcher: A Visit to an Organic Halal Slaughterhouse

By Humera Afridi


On an overcast October afternoon on the 2nd day of Eid ul-Adha, the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice, a lamb nuzzled its mother’s flank as she munched lazily on hay in an airy chamber of the 15,000 square foot facility of Al Madani, an organic halal slaughterhouse, in Ozone Park, Queens. The sheep exuded an air of serenity that was utterly at odds with the ominous metal hook flush in the ceiling only yards away. An elderly man, wiry with a grey beard, dressed in an Arab-style tunic and waistcoat held out his fingers to the lamb and cooed at it as if it were a pet dog.

“As-salam ‘alaykum!” he said, as I approached.

Assessing the ease of his manner in these grim surroundings, I surmised he was a regular customer.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

When I told him I was here to meet Imran Uddin, the slaughterhouse’s manager, he smiled.

“Well, I’m his father!” he said. “And this happy lamb is Mantu. The mother arrived here pregnant on the truck by mistake.” He brushed his hand over the animal’s head and smiled. “My contractor says to me, ‘If she gives birth on Good Friday, the lamb’s lucky. Don’t you dare touch it!’ That’s exactly what happened!”

Across the warehouse, two rooms with doors ajar, bustled with activity. A river of dark, red fluids frothed and pooled over drains. Men in green T-shirts scrubbed the floor with brooms as wave after wave of water washed away the sacrificial blood. A sign on the wall outside read “Please Be Patient.” A wooden rack for slaughter sat empty in the middle of a room. It was cleanup time. Slaughtering was done for the day.

Imran Uddin, a former advertising executive in his early 30s, walked over to the manger where we stood. His blood-splattered jeans and stained rubber boots served as a map of his day’s activities.

“Did my father tell you the story of this sheep?” he asked, as he shook my hand. “He calls her Patricia, Ashley, Rana–everyday the name changes! He is so fond of her, and the employees are too!”

Imran, who oversees the halal facility for his father, Riaz Uddin, said they’d received 350 goats and 125 lambs especially for the Eid sacrifice. There are three mosques in close proximity to Al Madani. Each year, on the first day of Eid-ul-Adha following the Morning Prayer service, a few hundred people join the queue at the slaughterhouse and wait for their ticket number to be called. Patrons wander into the yard when their turn arrives, choose their animal, and get back in line with the animal in tow.

“The important Islamic prescription is that the animal be blemish-free and without injuries. Our animals are in excellent condition,” said Imran. “Some people prefer certain colors, for others the long horns are just more attractive. When I choose an animal, I look for an immediate attachment. It’s a very intimate experience.”

There was something surreal about standing in the space between the sheep, Mantu and Ashley, who were being caressed by passerbyers and the proximity of the slaughter room, just steps away, where animals are transformed into cuts of meat. Yet, the paradox is instinctively familiar. In Pakistan, animals for the Eid sacrifice spend days in people’s gardens, becoming acclimated, fed and fattened in preparation for the inevitable.

In a tradition that goes back to the Prophet Abraham, divine intervention turns an act of seeming paternal betrayal into a lesson of faith, surrender and the gift of renewed life. Muslims are obligated to offer an annual qurbāni or sacrifice, if they can afford it. Every year during the final month—Dhul Hijjah—of the Islamic lunar calendar, Muslims perform the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in commemoration of Abraham’s submission to the divine command. On the tenth day of the month, the sacrifice of a sanctioned animal, a camel, cow, buffalo, sheep or goat, marks the end of the pilgrimage. One-third of the meat is distributed to the needy, one-third to friends and neighbors and the remainder is kept for one’s own family. Those who are unable to sacrifice an animal, fast or donate money to a charity.

Halal slaughtering techniques, similar to Jewish kosher slaughtering, have been passed down through the centuries. At Al Madani, the slaughter is performed by an experienced, practicing Muslim. The animal is laid down, a prayer recited—Bismillah Allah hu Akbar—then a knife drawn over the animal’s throat.

“It is swift, and done as humanely as possible,” Imran reiterated. “The most important tool is a long, sharp knife because it has to cut through the trachea, the esophagus and jugular veins with one swift slice of the blade.”

The animal dies immediately, and the blood drains out over the next 15 to 30 seconds. Blood is the life of the animal, but it is also the carrier of disease. For the meat to be halal (or kosher) for consumption, the blood has to first be completely drained from the animal.

The subject of an award-winning documentary, A Son’s Sacrifice, Al Madani’s history carries biblical undertones even as it stands out as a quintessentially New York immigrant tale. In the year 1991, Riaz had undergone open heart surgery; at the time, he’d been a steakhouse and nightclub owner for the past 29 years. His wife and elder daughter supported selling the club, but his younger daughter, completing her Masters in Islamic History at the time, protested.

Recounting the story with pride, Riaz plunged his hand into the deep pocket of his tunic and pulled out fraying letters of his daughter’s academic achievements, one of which included a document confirming a Fulbright Fellowship.

“My youngest daughter understood me,” says Riaz, “She said to her mother, ‘Abba spent his whole life in public and you’re telling him, ‘No more business!’ He’s going to go crazy. ‘I’m on your side, Abba,’ she said, ‘but I want you to provide a service to people. I want you to open a halal business.’

With no formal knowledge of butchery, Riaz prayed to Allah and asked for guidance. Equipped only with a Muslim layperson’s knowledge of halal food, he went out the next day to inquire about zoning laws. He located the Al Madani property and realized it belonged to John Gotti, the head of the Gambino crime family, who was serving time in prison. He also happened to be an old friend.

“I told his son, ‘You don’t know me but I know your father.’ I put a note in his hand. ‘When you visit your father, open the window. Tell him I want that building on 94th Avenue,’” Riaz said, chortling.

Gotti instructed his son to take his mother to meet Riaz and sign the building over to him at zero cost.

“Of course, there was a debt on the building, and I had to contend with the city to get the license. But everything came to me.”

Next, Riaz visited the Animal Research Center at Cornell University through which he began networking with farmers.

“You see, there is a straight path,” Riaz said. “Allah says, ‘If you walk towards me, I’ll run towards you.’” He shook his head as if marveling, in wonder, and his eyes filled with tears. “I only have a basic education from India and Bangladesh. But America gave me great opportunity. My daughter has a Ph.D., and she knows seven languages. So, if America needs my last drop of blood, I won’t hesitate for a second.”

Al Madani is no ordinary halal slaughterhouse. It is a business backed by a family’s heartfelt commitment and unswerving faith in divine ordinance. The astonishingly mild manner of both father and son trumps every stereotype one may harbor of butchers.

“The day you become immune to taking the life of an animal for your benefit is the day you lose all your humanity,” Imran said in a somber voice.

The workers at Al Madani are under strict orders to treat the animals with respect. There is absolutely no tolerance for manhandling. Imran confessed that once he got into a tussle with a new worker after he’d witnessed the worker grabbing a lamb roughly by its legs and shoving it across the room. The employee was instantly fired.

Workers at Al Madani sweep blood and water off the slaughterhouse floor.

Some believe that sacrifice by means of the slaughtering knife was unprecedented until the Prophet Abraham received the command to carry it out. Muslims believe there is a talismanic power to calling out the name of God before taking a life for food. Most slaughterhouses in America use hammers, stun guns, and electrical devices to kill the animals before carving them up. As I watched torrents of bloody water swirl and swish beneath the hand motion of brooms, I asked Imran to describe what he considered to be the salient, differentiating features of a halal butchery.

“Well, actually, that’s a really deep question!” he said, raising a brow. “If you ask a hundred different Muslims, you’re going to get a hundred different answers. The way I interpret halal is–were these animals given sufficient food and water? Were they treated well? Were they happy? Did they lead a good life? That’s just one part of halal. There’s also the matter of how I conduct my business. Am I honest to my customers? Do I treat my employees well? How do I have conversations with people? Am I being sincere?”

Certainly, there was nothing dissembling or affected about the Uddins or their facility. The butcher and his father resonated with tenderness for the animals despite their commitment to the work of slaughtering them. The back area of the butchery carried the air of a petting zoo. About fifty lambs and twenty goats— all a year or older in accordance with Islamic specifications–grazed peacefully in a courtyard spread with lush green grass.

A handful of customers roamed between the animals, stroking their flanks even as they peeked at the weight and price tags neatly pinned to their ears. The goats and sheep ranged in weight from 80 lbs. to 120 lbs., the average price for each is $450. Indoors, pens containing partridges, guinea fowl, quails and turkey mirrored the tranquility of the pastoral scene outdoors.

There was a time when New York City was populated with abattoirs, many of them mom-and-pop poultry markets, until a city ordinance prohibited them from operating within 1500 feet of residential dwellings.

“Before, if you had a few hundred dollars you could easily get a license for this type of business,” Imran explained. “But then issues of hygiene, sanitization and, the inhumane treatment of animals came up and the city said, ‘Enough!’ and clamped down.”

At Al Madani, they like to do things the old-fashioned way, aiming to keep alive the traditions of two generations past. Hence, their poultry and livestock are sourced either from Amish farms in Pennsylvania or ranches in Texas, where the animals are nourished by plenty of sunshine, green grass and open space.

“The Amish are very hands on,” Imran said, “They actually go out and feed the animals themselves. They have knowledge regarding the care of these animals. The animals we source are really calm and docile, because they’re accustomed to being around people. We don’t deal with auction animals. By going through auction, the animals endure so much stress that their immune systems go down. They just aren’t as healthy.”

Of the eighty-nine live poultry markets in New York City, most are not organic. Only about a quarter of them are licensed to sell livestock, goat and lamb. Most facilities look at cost before purchasing.
“We not so much,” said Imran. “We’re concerned with the health and quality of the animals and how they’re being raised.”

This might, indeed, be the reason that Al Madani is the supplier for some of the city’s popular restaurants including The Breslin, Left Bank, Fatty Cue and M. Well’s Dinette at MOMA PS 1. But restaurants make up a small proportion of Al-Madani’s business; the bulk of it relies on walk-in customers. Last year, for the Thanksgiving holiday, alone, they supplied a thousand turkeys. When it comes to cattle, however, Imran is reluctant. He sources larger animals only on special request, preferring not to bring them into the city.

“Cattle, as big as they are, are actually very fragile animals. They can easily die of a heart attack when they get over-excited and they get scared easily. I’d rather not put them through that stress,” he admitted.

As we stood in the yard beneath in an industrial-gray sky, petting the animals and admiring their Zen-like calm, I felt as though I’d received a scriptural lesson, witnessed in meaningful practice the Abrahamic story of sacrifice. Time had collapsed in this slaughterhouse. A dream dreamt thousands of years ago carried the bite of urgency here.

A brown sheep waddled over to me and I held out my hand for it to sniff. I asked Imran if he remembered his first slaughter.

“Oh you never forget your first time!” he exclaimed.

Years ago, Riaz picked him up from college and asked what he wanted for dinner. “Chicken curry,” Imran replied, without a second thought. Father and son went to the poultry market where Riaz nudged him to choose a chicken. At home, in the kitchen, he handed him a sharp knife. “Here son,” he said, “if you want to eat chicken tonight, you have to take its life.” “I was very young, just seventeen or eighteen,” Imran swallowed hard. “I still get really emotional talking about that. I didn’t eat the chicken that day but the memory’s always stuck in my head.”

Harboring such sensitivity has got to be a professional hazard for a butcher. Didn’t it make his job more challenging?

“Well, that’s the beauty of halal,” Imran said, tears streaming down his face. “You realize you’re taking the life of the animal so that you can continue to live. And every animal that you slaughter, you never forget.”

Humera Afridi is an Open City Creative Nonfiction Fellow whose work has appeared in Granta, the New York Times, and several anthologies, including Leaving Home (Oxford University Press, 2001), 110 Stories: New York Writes after September 11 (NYU Press, 2003), and Shattering the Stereotypes (Olive Branch, 2005). She covers Jackson Heights


Nominated Afghan Film Fails to win Oscar but makes an impact

By Almas Akhtar, TMO

buzkashi-boys-kabul-afghanistanBuzkashi Boys tells the story of two Kabul children who dream of being Buzkashi riders—they compete in the Afghan sport similar to polo in which riders try to carry a headless goat over a goal line. It is a story of friendship and high ambitions set in Afghanistan. It tells its audience about the culture of Afghanistan and celebrates the spirit of its people. This movie is primarily shot in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The 28-minute film was nominated for an Academy Award this year for best live action short film. The producer of the movie is Ariel Nasr and the director is S. French. The two main actors of the movie are Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz, both teenagers. They both acted superbly in the film.

Buzkashi Boys is perhaps one of the first fiction films to be shot entirely on location in Kabul. It is produced through the Afghan Film Project which helps train Afghan filmmakers.

The Afghan Film Project intended to train actors and crew members of the movie within the country in an effort to someday launch a film industry in the worn torn country.

This short movie did not win an Academy Award on Sunday night but the nomination alone has been regarded a great achievement for Afghan filmmakers .


Dr. Aasim Padela wins Ibn Sina Award

aasimpadelaAasim Padela, MD, was recently awarded the 2012 Ibn Sina Award from the Compassionate Care Network of Chicago for his outstanding work and contributions in the field of Islamic medical ethics.
The director of the Initiative on Islam and Medicine and a faculty member of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Padela was honored for his scholarship in the Islamic ethico-legal tradition and the ways it influences the health behaviors of Muslim patients and the lives of Muslim physicians.

The award is named after Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna, a Muslim physician philosopher whose work in the field of medicine influenced science through the Middle Ages. “Ibn Sina was a man who was deep into Islamic theology and deeply committed to improving medical care,” said Azher Quader, MD, executive director of the Compassionate Care Network (CCN). “I believe we have in Dr. Padela a man similarly skilled.”

Specifically, Padela’s empirical research examines the ways in which religious beliefs, values and identities affect the health care decisions of American Muslims, as well as the health care inequalities they face. The aim of this research is to improve the health and health care of American Muslim patients.

In this vein, Padela is working with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago to investigate the influence of religion-related factors on breast cancer-screening practices in the local Muslim community.

His applied Islamic bioethics scholarship focuses on how modern scientific data are incorporated within, and can be used in, traditional Islamic moral reasoning and scholastic theology. This work aims to provide intellectual and practical resources to help American Muslims draw upon the assets of modern medicine faithfully, both as practitioners and as patients.

To this end, Padela works with traditional Islamic jurisconsults at Darul Qasim, an Islamic institute, and the Tabah Foundation. He also co-directed a landmark conference titled, “Where Religion, Bioethics, and Policy Meet: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Islamic Bioethics and End-of-Life Care,” which brought together scholars, religious leaders, social scientists, health professionals and other stakeholders to discuss Islamic law, bioethics, medicine and health policy in the American context.

“Medicine may nowadays be seen as a secular art and science, but healing in its truest sense may require us as physicians to exhibit more ‘godliness,’ “ said Padela, an emergency medicine physician.
Padela is the 2012-14 Templeton Foundation Faculty Scholar, studying the theological and ethical roots of the physician-healer in Islam and how Muslim physicians express their personal and religious identities in America.

He was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan from 2008 to 2011, and continues to be a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, D.C., working to understand the role religion plays in the health behaviors and health care challenges of the American Muslim community.

Padela has undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering and classical Arabic and literature from the University of Rochester. Following a medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City in 2005, he did his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Rochester. He was also a visiting fellow in the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in 2010.



science 02-18-13Balance is defined as a state of equilibrium. It takes significant amount of work for this to occur in the body. The brain uses inputs from many sources to understand where the body is located in relationship to the world and to allow it to function. Sensory information from the eyes, ears, and position receptors in the rest of the body help keep the body upright and allow it to move in a coordinated fashion.

Information comes to cerebellar lobes located in the base of the brain from the vestibular system in the inner ear, vision from the eyes, and proprioception (position) receptors located throughout the body that send signals through the spinal cord. The cerebellum uses that information to maintain posture, coordinate body motions like walking and also coordinate fine motor skills like using a pen to write.

Vertigo, a feeling of spinning movement and sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting, occurs when any part of the system breaks down. However, people tend not to use that word to describe their symptoms but instead use the word dizziness or lightheadedness. It is up to the health care practitioner to understand the person’s symptoms and define vertigo as the cause of the their situation.

Dizziness is a difficult word to understand and needs to be divided into two categories, either lightheadedness or vertigo. Lightheadedness is the feeling that a person might faint while vertigo is most often described as a spinning sensation with loss of balance. The direction of care is markedly different since lightheadedness may suggest to the health care practitioner to investigate decreased oxygen or nutrient supply to the brain due a variety of causes including heart rhythm disturbances or dehydration, while vertigo sends the health care practitioner looking for a neurologic or inner ear cause.

The most important initial step in helping a person with vertigo is to take a history and understand that the person is complaining of spinning symptoms that may be associated with nausea and vomiting and loss of balance among other symptoms.

Vertigo is an abnormal sensation that is described by the person as a feeling they are spinning or that the world is spinning around them. It is most often associated with an inner ear problem.
The inner ear has two parts, the semicircular canals and the vestibule, that helps the body know where it is in relationship to gravity. There are three semicircular canals that are aligned at right angles to each other and act as the gyroscope for the body. The canals are filled with fluid and are lined with a nerve filled, crystal encrusted membrane that transmits information to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that deals with balance and coordination.

The cerebellum adds information from sight and from nerve endings in muscles that deal with proprioception, the perception of movement, to help the brain know where it is in relationship to gravity and the world.

Normally, when the head moves, fluid in the semicircular canals shifts and that information is relayed to the brain. When the head stops moving, the fluid stops as well. There may be a slight delay and is the basis for the vertigo experienced after people participate in many children’s games and carnival rides. When a person goes on a merry-go-round or spins quickly around in circles, the fluid in the canals develops momentum and even though the head stops spinning, the fluid may continue to move. This causes vertigo or a spinning sensation and may cause the person to fall or stumble in a crooked line. It also may be associated with vomiting.

In patients with vertigo, inflammation of the fluid or irritation of the crystals on the nerve membrane that lines the walls of the semicircular canals may cause the spinning sensation even without much head movement. Often, only one canal is involved and the person may be symptom free if they don’t move.

While there are many causes of vertigo, the major distinction is between central causes of vertigo and peripheral causes. Central causes occur because of an abnormality in the cerebellum of the brain.
Distinguishing between central and peripheral causes for disease is an important concept in evaluating neurologic problems. The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system while the peripheral nervous system describes the nerves outside the central area. Sometimes it is easy to make the distinction, other times it is more difficult to distinguish between central and peripheral causes. For example, if a person hits their funny bone (elbow) and develops pain and numbness in their hand, it is mainly due to a direct blow to the ulnar nerve at the elbow. This is a peripheral nerve problem and most people would not seek medical care. If however, a person’s leg became numb and weak, the cause may be central (perhaps a stroke in the brain) or there may be a peripheral cause (sciatica or nerve impingement).


Shareef Becoming Agent to The Stars

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of,

MalikShareefMalik Shareef, Esq. is a senior sports writer with Politic365. A graduate of the University of Virginia and Washington and Lee School of Law (2006), he is a certified contract advisor for the NFL. He co-founded Dimensional Sports, a sports agency based out of New York City, along with equity trader Rodney Thomas. Shareef and Dimension made a splash in 2010 by signing Joe Haden, the number 1 cornerback in the draft out of the University of Florida, as their very first client.  Haden ended up being picked number 7 overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2010 NFL Draft, and he went on to sign a 5-year, $50 million contract.

Shareef has gone on to sign additional high-profile football clients. His current clients include: Arizona Cardinals running back Ryan Williams (a second-round pick in 2011), Browns safety David Sims (an undrafted free agent for the Giants in 2011), Houston Texans cornerback Rashad Carmichael, New Orleans Saints linebacker Nate Bussey, St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and most notably, star New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. Of this year’s draft prospects, Shareef represents Florida State University quarterback EJ Manuel. You can follow Shareef on Twitter @malikshareef.


From France to Oklahoma

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of,

Senegalese-French basketball player Amath M’Baye left France for a better basketball future. His path first led him to a prep school in California, then over to the big skies of the University of Wyoming before settling down at the University of Oklahoma. He first enrolled at Oklahoma in the fall of 2011, and he practiced with the team during the 2011-2012 season, but did not play in any games due to NCAA transfer rules.

Prior to that, he played his first two college seasons at the University of Wyoming. During his Freshman he played in 21 games and averaged 5.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per contest after having missed the first 10 games of the season due to an NCAA ruling on his amateurism. But the next year, in his Sophomore season he started all 31 games and averaged 12.0 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds in 30.3 minutes per outing for a 10-21 Cowboys team.

But despite making strides, he was still finding himself as a basketball player at Wyoming. “I was not very comfortable outside the paint when I was in Wyoming,” M’Baye said. “I could do stuff but it wasn’t my strength. I think I kind of expanded my game. I feel comfortable in the post and outside the paint, I’ve got more tools to work with. I’ve got more weapons to be a threat on the defenses.” And it became clear that he would not be staying in Big Sky country for very long. “A lot of things went good but not everything was great. We lost a lot of games and my coach (Heath Schroyer) got fired,” M’Baye said. “I pretty much knew I was going to leave before my coach got fired. But my coach got fired, and I started looking for new teams and new schools.”

Making Oklahoma his next stop was an easy choice for M’Baye, especially with coach Lon Kruger being there. “Everywhere he’s been, the program ends up with success. There’s no mystery, there’s no magic. He works the right way,” M’Baye told Fox News about Coach Kruger. “When you look at the players we’ve got and the recruiting class coming in, I don’t see how we could not play well. There’s no reason for us not to play well. There’s no excuses.”

Born in Bordeaux, France, M’Baye didn’t start playing basketball until his mid-teens. He went on to play on the 2009 Under-20 French national team that earned the silver medal at the Under-20 European Championships. He then made the decision to leave home after meeting coach Babacar Sy, the renowned Senegalese-American coach from Stoneridge Prep in California. He was lightly recruited and then signed with Wyoming to follow best friend and fellow Frenchman Arthur Bouedo.

An International Studies major, M’Baye has already shown enough leadership for his Oklahoma teammates to vote him a team captain before he even played a game. “I think the journey through life makes me appreciate life even better,” M’Baye said. “I’ve been through a lot of stuff and I think every year I’m in a better situation. I couldn’t have landed anywhere better than here,” he added. “It was a tumultuous ride but I think at the end of the day, I landed exactly where I want to be.” But this may not be his last stop, as the National Basketball Association could come calling. currently rates M’Baye as a second round draft pick this coming June.


Jaiteh Jetting Forward

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of,

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Foto: Sigbjørn Andreas Hofsmo, Digitalsport

Tijan Jaiteh - Mons Ivar Mjelde - Bjørn DahlFrench Under-18 center Mouhammadou “Mam” Jaiteh is catching the attention of American basketball scouts. The French-born big man was born to a father from Senegal and a mother from Gambia. Despite picking up the game relatively late a the age of 13, his outstanding physical profile made him a fixture on the French Under-16 and Under-18 national teams the past three years and earned him a coveted spot at INSEP (the National Institute for Sport and Physical Education), a government sponsored academy for top athletes in 24 (mostly Olympic) sports. As a 16-year-old, Jaiteh even led the French Under-18 team in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots.

Upon finishing his time at INSEP, the 17-year old Jaiteh elected to establish himself as one of the most productive players in the lesser division Pro B, where he currently ranks 3rd in Player Efficiency Rating. He briefly flirted with the idea of enrolling in college (Gonzaga University in Washington State even brought him to the US for a visit) but decided against it eventually, preferring to spend his summer with the French junior national team, and even getting called to train with the senior team as a body for practice, where he reportedly held his own.

When asked what his plans are after his finishes his time with INSEP, Jaiteh told “For this time I don’t know. But I think I can maybe go into the second division in France or first division or the United States. Maybe I want to go to college. I am open for everything.”

The 6-foot-9 big man said he is working on his leadership and outside shot. “I have to be an example for the new players (with the France national team). But I feel really good that I can be a leader,” said Jaiteh. “Close to the basket I am a good player and I can help the team. But I need work on my outside shot.” Currently projects Jaiteh as a second round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft should he turn pro this summer. However, projects Jaiteh as a Top 10 pick should he wait to turn professional in 2014.


Third Annual Youth Art Exhibition Held in Dearborn

By Adil James and Almas Akhtar


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TMO Columnist Almas Akhtar hosted her third  youth art competition in as many years this past Saturday February 16th at the Alexandria Ballroom of the Dearborn Inn in Dearborn.  In the first competition there were 76 exhibits.  In the second there were 123.  In the third, there were 180 kids, with 251 exhibits.  10 prizes were awarded by a panel of judges.

Four local schools participated in the competition, namely Huda, Crescent Academy, Detroit Country Day School, and Al-Ikhlas Academy.  There were also some participants from the Bloomfield Hills school district.

There were prizes in three categories, ages 5-10, 11-15, and 16-20.

The students produced many types of art, including excellent photography, paintings, and sculptures.  The judges selected a winner and runner-up in each of the three age categories and also gave awards for overall achievement, unique ideas, and gave an award to one school for the group’s presentation.

Said Ms. Akhtar, this is to “encourage the kids to get involved in art.  As Picasso said, every child is an artist.”

She also invited the kids who were involved to participate in the TMO Foundation Essay contest, the rules of which will be announced by the end of March.

There were certificates of $50 for the winners and in several categories there were ties for the post of runner up.

In the 5-10 category the winner was Issa Hassan.  Runners up wwere Shayan Rohila, and Anushia Chaudhry.

In the 11-15 category the winner was Naail Chaudhry (who has won first prize in each of the three annual competitions).  Runner up was Juni Katta of Detroit Country Day School.

In the 16-20 category the winner was PiumiJayatlake, and the runners up were Umar Mahmood of DCDS and Appeh Qomala.

The winner of the uniqueness award was Pratchi Qoyal, with runner up Amber Akhtar.

The overall achievement winner was Pooja Nayh of DCDS, and the runners up were Unser Jafri and Al Ikhlas’ Nusrat Rahman.


The prize for overall achievement went to DCDS.

Certificates were given to all of the participants in the competion.

“I organize this exhibition every year to promote the artistic talents of our youth and to encourage them,” said Almas Akhtar the event organizer and main sponsor. There are no registration fees for students residing in the state of Michigan.

This year  the event has been widely promoted by MMCC and Miindia through their websites. This event is designed to promote artistic expression and creativity amongst the youth in the Muslim community and their peers from other faith and ethnic traditions.  It is unique in the large number of Michigan Muslim youth that are involved. This year  kids belonging to many different faiths and cultural backgrounds also participated in the exhibition. Over 400 people from students, their families, art critics and teachers attended this event at the Dearborn Inn.


Voting: Local Elections Feb. 26

Voters who qualify can still obtain an absentee ballot

LANSING, Mich. – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reminds residents to cast ballots in local elections Tuesday, Feb. 26.

“It only takes a few minutes to participate in one of our country’s basic freedoms,” said Johnson, Michigan’s chief elections officer.  “If your community has an election Tuesday, please cast your ballot.”

Elections will be held in 42 of Michigan’s 83 counties. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find out if there is an election in their community, voters can visit the Secretary of State website at or check with their county clerk’s office.  In addition, the Michigan Voter Information Center can help residents determine whether they’re registered to vote, direct them to their polling location and provide a sample ballot.  The website is

There is still time for voters to obtain an absentee ballot. As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee ballot if you are:

•    age 60 or older
•    physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another
•    expecting to be out of town for the entire time the polls are open on Election Day
•    in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
•    unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
•    appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.

Those who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. Absentee ballots can be obtained in person anytime through 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25.  Voters who request an absentee ballot in person on Monday, Feb. 25 must vote the ballot in the clerk’s office. Emergency absentee ballots are available under certain conditions through 4 p.m. on Election Day.

Residents who registered to vote by mail or via a voter registration drive and have never voted in Michigan are not eligible to vote by absentee ballot in their first election. They must vote in person at their precinct. This restriction does not apply to voters who are overseas, disabled or 60 or older.

Absentee voters should remember to sign the return envelope. If a voter receives assistance in preparing the ballot, the signature of the person providing the assistance must also be on the return envelope. Signed absentee ballots can only be returned to a clerk’s office by the voter, a family member or person residing in the voter’s household, a mail carrier or election official.

Voters are reminded of the identification requirement. They will be asked to present photo ID at the polls, such as a Michigan driver’s license or identification card. Anyone who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID or failed to bring it with them can still vote. They will sign a brief affidavit stating that they’re not in possession of a photo ID. Their ballots will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.

A specially equipped voting station called the AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal is also available at each polling location for use by voters with disabilities.