Anesthesia (ÄƒnÄsthÄ“â€™zhÉ™) [Gr.,=insensibility], loss of sensation, especially that of pain, induced by drugs, especially as a means of facilitating safe surgical procedures. Early modern medical anesthesia dates to experiments with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) by Sir Humphry Davy of England and the dentist Horace Wells of the United States. Ether came into general use as an anesthetic after a demonstration at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston by William T. G. Morton in 1846.
General anesthetics, administered by inhalation or intravenous injection, cause unconsciousness as well as insensibility to pain, and are used for major surgical procedures. In the past, ether was the most commonly used general anesthetic. Today, safer anesthetics include Halothane and Isoflurane, both of which are administered through inhalation. Short-acting anesthetic agents, such as pentothal, Diprivan, and Midazolam, are generally given through intravenous or intramuscular routes. Inhaled nitrous oxide is used for light anesthesia in minor surgical procedures and in dentistry. Ultra-short-acting analgesics can also be given intranasally for pre-medication prior to the induction of general anesthesia. Anesthetics such as Brevital may be administered rectally, primarily among children.
Local anesthetics affect sensation only in the region where they are injected, and are used regularly in dentistry and minor surgery. Spinal and epidural anesthesia involves the injection of an anesthetic agent into a space adjacent to the spinal cord, a technique frequently employed for surgical procedures below the waist (e.g., obstetrics) where total unconsciousness is not necessary. Such anesthetics are known as regional blocks. Muscle relaxants may be used in conjunction with general anesthetics, particularly to reduce the amount of anesthetic required. Body temperatures are generally lowered in conjunction with the use of anesthetics in heart and brain surgery, reducing the bodyâ€™s metabolic rate so that cells are not damaged by the lack of circulating blood and reduced oxygenation. Several forms of anesthesia may be used in combination. Safer and more efficient anesthetics are constantly researched, in the hopes of perfecting new ways of combining and administering them.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilehi rajewoon (- To Allah, we belong and to Him we return).
May Allah accept this and forgive his short comings. Oâ€™ Allah, grant him mugfiraâ€™t and Jannaâ€™t.
Brother Naeem Saroya has been living in Metro Detroit since the late seventies. He left tremendous impact on the Muslim footprint in Metro Detroit, and national organization Islamic Circle of North America. Those who accomplish fast, depart soon!
Naeem has been backbone in formation and development of ICNA Detroit, CIOM, Masjid Ummar bin Khatab (Browns Town) and Majid e Falah (North Detroit/ Hamtramck). At a time when communities were still smaller or infancy, Naeem helped pull various communities together to achieve higher objectives. His work for MCWS, specially formation of Youth Group (YMFA) and Crescent Academy is remarkable. His work to bring ICNA and MAS closer is also incredible.
Naeem also served as ICNAâ€™s Central Secretary General and has been part and parcel of ICNAâ€™s growing up. He also served as President of Studentâ€™s Union at Univ. of Eng. & Tech. (UET, Lahore) and was a Member of Islami Jamiat e Talaba.
Naeem worked as Engineer with DTE and was retired. He was living in Ypsilanti, Mi for many years. Prior to that he was in Browns Town.
He left sister Nargis Saroya and two sons – Ali Abdullah and Ghazi Abdullah (both high school age). May Allah give the family sabr. And protect them.
Namaz e Janaza is expected on 5/23 after Zuhr Prayer in Dix Masjid (American Moslem Society, Dearborn) and burial next to the masjid.
Residents of Maiduguri ordered to stay indoors as military launches strikes against armed group in the north.
The latest military campaign could prove to be the biggest ever against Boko Haram [Reuters]
Nigeriaâ€™s military has declared a 24-hour curfew on a dozen neighbourhoods in a northeastern city that is a stronghold of the armed group Boko Haram.
The move in Maiduguri, the main city in Borno state, came as soldiers continued the governmentâ€™s emergency campaign against fighters in the region on Saturday.
The military deployed jets and helicopters to carry out air strikes on fighter camps, and said 10 fighters had been killed and another 65 arrested.
A spokesman for Defence Headquarters also said the military had seized stockpiles of weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, guns and ammunition from areas around Maiduguri, the main city in the northeast.
Boko Haram, which has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeriaâ€™s mainly Muslim north, has carried out scores of attacks in recent years, and has become emboldened and better armed in recent months.
Nigeria launched a massive offensive against the group this week, deploying several thousand troops across three states where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency after the fighters seized territory and chased out the government.
Nigeriaâ€™s offensive is targeting all three states put under emergency decree, including Adamawa and Yobe, but Boko Haramâ€™s traditional base of Borno, where is expected to see the most intense fighting.
In Marte district of Borno state, some residents have started fleeing east towards the Cameroon border, less than 25km away.
â€œIt has been scary in the past three days,â€ said Buba Yawuri, whose home is in the town of Kwalaram in Marte but who has fled to the border town Gomboru Ngala.
â€œFighter jets and helicopters kept hovering in the sky and we kept hearing huge explosions from afar.â€
Yawuri said that as the air assaults began, the security forces told all residents to stay indoors, cutting off his familyâ€™s access to food and water.
â€œI couldnâ€™t hold on any longer. I took the bush path,â€ and reached Gomboru Ngala early Saturday, he said.
Shafiâ€™u Breima, a resident of Gomboru Ngala, said the border town is receiving a continuous flow of people arriving from Marte and neighbouring areas.
The remote, thinly populated region has porous borders where criminal groups and weapons have flowed freely for years.
The military has sealed previously unguarded crossings to block Boko Haram fighters from fleeing during the offensive.
â€œBorder posts have all been manned by security agents to prevent escape or infiltrations by insurgents,â€ a military statement said.
Demonstrators shout slogans as they hold a placard and posters of former India test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth during a protest in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad May 16, 2013. Sreesanth and two other players have been arrested by Delhi police on suspicion of spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League, sports officials said on Thursday. REUTERS/Amit Dave
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indiaâ€™s Supreme Court dismissed a petition on Tuesday seeking to scrap the remaining matches of the countryâ€™s lucrative Twenty20 cricket competition amid growing concerns about corruption in the sport.
Former test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two other players were arrested along with 11 bookmakers on Thursday on suspicion of spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The case has prompted the Indian government to look at the possibility of introducing a law to combat matchfixing and spot-fixing.
Cricket fan and social activist Sudarsh Awasti lodged the petition demanding the scrapping of the remaining four IPL matches, including Sundayâ€™s final, but the apex court said the competition would go on as scheduled.
The court also asked the Indian cricket board to submit a report within two weeks with details of the playersâ€™ involvement in the scandal and what action is being taken against them.
Cricket is a gentlemenâ€™s game and it should remain so, the court observed.
Awasti also wanted a special investigation to get to the bottom of the spot-fixing scandal and for the league to be banned from next year, but the court found no merit in his demands.
Indiaâ€™s film industry was also pulled into the controversy when Mumbai Police arrested a Bollywood actor, Vindu Dara Singh, on Tuesday for alleged links to a bookmaker.
â€œMr Vindu Dara Singh has been arrested … He was in contact with some bookie, thatâ€™s what I can tell you right now,â€ a senior police officer, Satyanarayan Chaudhury, told Reuters, refusing to disclose further details.
Legal sports betting in India is confined to horse racing, while illegal betting syndicates thrive in the absence of a law dealing specifically with such corruption in sport.
Media estimates put the amount gambled on Indiaâ€™s top cricket Twenty20 competition at $427 million in 2009.
English Premier League football giants Liverpool are planning a summer move for Manchester City defender Kolo Toure on a free transfer once his contract expires in June. With long-time central defender Jamie Carragher having just retired, Liverpool are looking to sign two center backs, with Toure being one of their prime targets. Liverpool is trying to bring its way back into the ranks of the Premier League elite.
The 32-year-old Manchester City from English Premier League rivals Arsenal in July of 2009 for Â£14 million. He has also made 105 international appearances for Cote Dâ€™Ivoire beginning in 2000 with six goals scored. He and younger brother Yaya Toure were part of the Bluesâ€™ team that won the English Premier League title in 2012, the clubâ€™s first title for 44 years. However, his Manchester City career had gone downhill ever since a six-month ban that occurred during the 2010-11 season for allegedly taking a banned substance found in diet pills. Toure only made 18 appearances for Manchester City in the 2012-13 season and was left out of their squad for the Champions League campaign. Man City are in a state of flux currently, having just let go of manager Roberto Mancini, with rumors swirling that Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini is set to take over.
The 32-year-old Toure also has another brother, Ibrahim, who plays for Egyptian football club Makasa. He has a wife, Ewa, and a son, Yassine, and daughter, Sania. Toure is currently in the United States as part of Man Cityâ€™s post-season tour, but the proposed move to Liverpool is reportedly likely to progress quickly once he returns to England.
Germanyâ€™s biggest and best football club, Bayern Munich, have made plans to build a masjid for their Muslim players and fans. The plan was triggered by a request from one of its most prominent players, and one of the best Muslim footballers in the world, Franck Ribery. The masjid would be build inside the soccer stadium, Allianz Arena, and would have a full time Imam and an Islamic library. The club will finance 85 percent of the costs of the masjid, leaving 15% to Muslim players and fans who want to participate.
Bayern is not the first European club to build a mosque for its Muslim players after New Castle United specified a prayer room for Muslim players. Other Muslim footballers on the Bayern squad include German-Turkish midfielder Emre Can, and Albanian-Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri. Bayern is set to take on German Bundesliga rivals Borrusia Dortmund in the finals of the European Champions League on May 25th in Wembley Stadium in London. Bayern lost in the finals last year.
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Dominic Evans
A Free Syrian Army fighter fires back at Syrian Armyâ€™s position during what activists say was clashes between the Free Syrian Army and forces loyal to Syriaâ€™s President Bashar Al-Assad, in Deir al-Zor May 19, 2013. REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi
AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas have fought their biggest battle yet for Syriaâ€™s beleaguered president, prompting international alarm that the civil war may spread and an urgent call for restraint from the United States.
About 30 Hezbollah fighters were killed on Sunday, Syrian activists said, along with 20 Syrian troops and militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad during the fiercest fighting this year in the rebel stronghold of Qusair, near the Lebanon border.
That would be the highest daily loss for the Iranian-backed movement in Syria, highlighting how it is increasing its efforts to bolster Assad; it prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to voice his concern to his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Suleiman.
If confirmed, the Hezbollah losses reflect how Syria is becoming a proxy conflict between Shiâ€™ite Iran and Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which back Assadâ€™s mostly Sunni enemies. Dozens of dead in sectarian bombings in Iraq on Monday and killings in the Lebanese city of Tripoli compounded a sense of spreading regional confrontation.
Western powers and Russia back opposing sides in the cross-border Syrian free-for-all, which is also sucking in Israel – though Washington and its allies have fought shy of intervening militarily behind fractured and partly Islamist rebel forces.
The White House said Obama spoke to Lebanese President Suleiman and â€œstressed his concern about Hezbollahâ€™s active and growing role in Syria, fighting on behalf of the Assad regime, which is counter to the Lebanese governmentâ€™s policiesâ€. The Beirut government, however, has limited means to influence the politically and militarily powerful Shiâ€™ite group.
The two leaders agreed â€œall parties should respect Lebanonâ€™s policy of disassociation from the conflict in Syria and avoid actions that will involve the Lebanese people in the conflictâ€.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was â€œpreparing for every scenarioâ€ in Syria and held out the prospect of more Israeli strikes on Syria to stop Hezbollah and other opponents of Israel obtaining advanced weapons.
Israel has not confirmed or denied reports by Western and Israeli intelligence sources that three raids this year targeted Iranian missiles near Damascus that it believed were awaiting delivery to Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006.
FOG OF WAR
Syrian opposition sources and state media gave differing accounts of Sundayâ€™s clashes in Qusair, long used by rebels as a supply route from Lebanon to the provincial capital Homs.
Hezbollah has not commented but in Lebanonâ€™s Bekaa Valley on Monday several funeral processions could be seen. Pictures of dead fighters were plastered on to cars and mourners waved yellow Hezbollah flags. Several ambulances were seen on the main Bekaa Valley highway and residents said hospitals had appealed for blood to treat the wounded brought back to Lebanon.
The air and tank assault on the strategic town of 30,000 people appeared to be part of a campaign by Assadâ€™s forces to consolidate their grip on Damascus and secure links between the capital and government strongholds in the Alawite coastal heartland via the contested central city of Homs.
The government campaign has coincided with efforts by the United States and Russia, despite their differences on Syria, to organize peace talks to end a conflict now in its third year in which more than 80,000 people have been killed.
A total of 100 combatants from both sides were killed in Sundayâ€™s offensive, according to opposition sources, including the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Such a death toll would indicate at least hundreds had taken part.
Troops have already retaken several villages around Qusair and have attacked increasingly isolated rebel units in Homs.
â€œIf Qusair falls, God forbid, the opposition in Homs city will be in grave danger,â€ said an activist who called himself Abu Jaafar al-Mugharbil.
State news agency SANA said the army had â€œrestored security and stability to most Qusair neighborhoodsâ€ and was â€œchasing the remnants of the terrorists in the northern districtâ€.
Syrian television also showed footage of what it said was an Israeli military Jeep which it said the rebels had been using and which showed the extent of their foreign backing. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the vehicle was decommissioned a decade ago and dismissed the footage as â€œpoor propagandaâ€.
Opposition activists said rebels in Qusair, about 10 km (six miles) from the Lebanese border, had pushed back most of the attacking forces to their original positions in the east of the town and to the south on Sunday, destroying at least four Syrian army tanks and five light Hezbollah vehicles.
The Western-backed leadership of the Free Syrian Army, the loose umbrella group trying to oversee hundreds of disparate rebel brigades, said the Qusair fighters had thwarted Hezbollah with military operations it dubbed â€œWalls of Deathâ€.
Syrian government restrictions on access for independent media make it hard to verify such videos and accounts.
â€œNO DIALOGUE WITH TERRORISTSâ€
The fighting raged as Western nations are seeking to step up pressure on Assad – Britain and France want the European Union to allow arms deliveries to rebels – while preparing for the peace talks brokered by Russia and the United States next month.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said â€œno option is off the tableâ€ over the possible arming of rebels if the Syrian government does not negotiate seriously at the proposed talks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country has shielded Syria from U.N. Security Council action, said Syrian opposition representatives must take part without precondition, apparently referring to their demands for Assadâ€™s exit before they come to the table.
Assad has scorned the idea that the conference expected to convene in Geneva could end a war that is fuelling instability and deepening Sunni-Shiâ€™ite rifts across the Middle East.
â€œThey think a political conference will halt terrorists in the country. That is unrealistic,â€ he told the Argentine newspaper Clarin, in a reference to Syriaâ€™s mainly Sunni rebels.
Assad ruled out â€œdialogue with terroristsâ€, but it was not clear from his remarks whether he would agree to send delegates to a conference that may in any case falter before it starts due to disagreements between its two main sponsors and their allies.
The fractured Syrian opposition is to discuss the proposed peace conference at a meeting due to start in Istanbul on Thursday, during which it will also appoint a new leadership.
Among divisive factors in the rebel camp is fundamentalist Islam, practiced by some fighters and opposed by others. In the latest Internet video from Syria to cause discomfort for rebels seeking Western backing, anti-Assad Islamists flogged two men they said had infringed a ban on marrying newly divorced women.
Attacks by troops and militias loyal to Assad, who inherited power in Syria from his father in 2000, have put rebel groups under pressure in several of their strongholds in recent weeks.
Assad, from Syriaâ€™s minority Alawite sect, has been battling an uprising which began with peaceful protests in March 2011. His violent response eventually prompted rebels to take up arms.
Hezbollah has supported Assad throughout the crisis but for months denied reports it was fighting alongside Assadâ€™s troops.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the Hezbollah casualties on Sunday at 28 dead and more than 70 wounded, while 48 rebel fighters and four civilians were also killed.
Tareq Murei, an activist in Qusair, said six more people were killed on Monday as Syrian army artillery and Hezbollah rocket launchers bombarded rebel-held parts of the town.
Video footage purportedly showed a Syrian tank on fire at a street corner in the town. In another video a warplane was shown flying over the town amid the sound of explosions.
Lebanese security sources said at least 12 Hezbollah fighters were killed in Qusair on Sunday. Seven were to be buried in the Lebanese town of Baalbek and nearby villages on Monday, they said.
(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Hermel and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Samia Nakhoul, Alistair Lyon, Giles Elgood and Alastair Macdonald)
HPD Honors Siddiqi: Officer of the Year
Hard work pays, not just once but again and again. Officer Muzaffar Siddiqi, one of the most decorate police officers in Texas, has been honored yet again for his services to the community and the Houston Police Department.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker and HPD Chief Charles McClelland presented Officer Siddiqi with â€œOfficer of the Yearâ€ award on May 13 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, 1200 Louisiana, during an awards ceremony organized as part of the Police Week from Friday, May 10, through Friday, May 17.
Officer Siddiqi has been honored several times in the past for exceptional services. He is the only Muslim police officer of Pakistani descent to have received so many awards. His dedication to work and high professional standards have distinguished him as one of the best known police officer in the South Asian community.
He has earned plaudits in the community and has made the community proud by taking the initiative to rebuild the bridges in the aftermath of 9/11.
Officer Siddiqi has also received the Top Cop award by International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Parade Magazine in 2003. The award symbolizes the highest level of achievement among police officers in the country.
His previous honors include Officer of the year Award in 2000 by Houston Police Department, U.S. Congressional Recognition, Texas Law Enforcement Achievement Award by Governor Rick Perry, Four Chief Commendations by Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford, Officer Of the Month Award from American Society of Industrial Security and the Bravo Award by Houston Mayor Lee Brown.
Water needs take center stage in legislative budget battle
Some fearful of consequences if funds not appropriated immediately by legislature
As the state budget drama continues at the Texas State Capitol today, concern is mounting over the fate of billions of dollars in the stateâ€™s rainy day fund that may â€“ or may not â€“ be appropriated for the stateâ€™s water needs. Lawmakers initially were considering moving $2 billion from that fund to help initiate a fund to assist with much-needed water projects statewide.
But, the legislative session ends in 10 days and a source close to the issue said today that there is now concern that instead of legislators making that appropriation from the rainy day fund, they could instead put the issue before Texas voters to decide.
With Texas enduring almost three years of drought conditions, water issues are front and center in many parts of the state. However, some areas that were suffering from drought conditions are beginning to recover, thanks to cooler temperatures and some heavy rainfall. Those areas could come out of drought conditions and might then see investing $2 billion of taxpayer funds for assistance in other areas of the state as an issue on which they would vote â€œno.â€
Convincing voters in those areas of the state to vote for using rainy day funds will be a hard sell, and negative results could be disastrous.
\â€œWe need to make sure weâ€™re planning appropriately,â€ said Bryan Shaw, chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in an agency video regarding drought conditions in Texas. â€œGetting ahead of the drought is critical. Itâ€™s kindaâ€™ the same thing (as) with managing our finances. By the time that thereâ€™s no money in the bank, itâ€™s a little late then to start thinking about saving money.â€
So just how severe is the water problem for communities throughout the state? According to figures from TCEQ, as of this week, eight public water systems are at emergency priority, and could be out of water in 45 days or less. Customers of those systems already are facing restrictions from mild to severe. Another 10 could be out of water in 90 days or less. And a dozen more face the possibility of being out of water within 180 days or less.
If funding is not made available through the rainy day fund, our insider said the state could have to â€œtriageâ€ critical water projects throughout the state, funding projects by priority when funding is available.
Waiting in the wings to help bring the billions of dollarsâ€™ worth of much-needed water infrastructure are design firms and capital firms with experience nationwide in dealing with water projects, eager to partner with the government on these projects. If funding is not made available immediately, he said, these potential partners will exit Texas and seek to invest their millions of dollars in capital into water infrastructure projects in other states.
Thus, the critical water needs in Texas are dependent on money being available now.
The state has had a water planning process in place since the late 1990s, but the plan has never been fully implemented, mostly due to lack of funding. Estimates are that if the plan is not funded, by 2060, half of the residents of the state will not have enough water during certain drought conditions. The economic impact on the state could be $116 billion annually to Texas businesses and workers. An estimated 1 million jobs could be lost.
One water organization in the state, H204TEXAS, estimates that the latest plan, Water for Texas 2012, could begin to turn around the stateâ€™s water woes at this critical juncture. That organization says that every $1 billion in financial assistance provided for state water plan projects will generate $1.75 billion in sales revenue, create $888.8 million in state gross domestic product, add $43.9 million in state and local tax receipts and create or support more than 13,000 jobs statewide.
Not to be forgotten is that the water issue in Texas is not just a water-from-the-tap problem. Recent drought conditions prompted unprecedented wildfires in many areas of the state, where in 2011 drought conditions, more than 3.9 million acres of land in Texas burned, nearly doubling the previous record. Damage was particularly heavy in the Bastrop area, where two people were killed and more than 1,600 homes burned. The area is in recovery mode, but if the drought persists, there is the constant fear of more fires.
â€œMy fear is, the further we get away from any disaster – even as little as a year – the more we forget about that disaster. Weâ€™re still in a drought,â€ said Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management in the TCEQ video.
Add to that the proposed reorganization of the Texas Water Development Board, which our insider says is likely to be â€œtop to bottom,â€ and the need for the legislature to take control of the appropriation process for water funding is even more urgent.
Dear Dr. Cook:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding the potential for U.S. military action against Iran. I appreciate the time you took to write, and I welcome the opportunity to address your concerns.
I strongly believe that Iran should not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. As such, I have supported multilateral and unilateral sanctions against Iran in an effort to compel its government to uphold its international obligations and come clean about its nuclear program.
It has become clear that these economic sanctions against Iran are successfully affecting the countryâ€™s economy. Iranâ€™s ability to import and export goods has been curtailed, its financial sector is under pressure, and its currency is significantly devalued. In addition, Iran is more isolated than ever before. Syria is in no position to help it, and Iranâ€™s traditional United Nations Security Council defendersâ€”Russia and Chinaâ€”are curbing ties.
While no option should be removed from the table, I firmly believe that diplomacy and economic sanctions, not military action, remain the best bet for resolving concerns about Iranâ€™s nuclear program.
I understand that you have concerns regarding Senate Resolution 65, which was introduced by Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) on February 28, 2013 and of which I am a cosponsor. One of the resolutionâ€™s provisions expresses the Sense of Congress that, â€œif the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.â€
Please know that I do not believe the United States should encourage Israel to take preemptive action against Iran, and, in my view, S.Res . 65 would not do so. Moreover, the resolution explicitly states that â€œnothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war.â€
Please be assured that I remain fully engaged in this matter, I have carefully noted your views, and I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to discuss and debate U.S. policy towards Iran with my Senate colleagues and the Obama Administration.
Once again, thank you for writing, and I hope that you will continue to keep me informed about issues of importance to you. Should you have any further comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841, or visit my website at www.feinstein.senate.gov. Best regards.
United States Senator
By Noor Salem, TMO
The night of Friday May 17th was tranquil and wonderful when over 11 masajid in Michigan joined into praying for the oppressed people of Syria. Every masjid had a unique program for three hours, 9pm until 12 am. Particularly at the Islamic Center of Detroit over 300 people joined to be a part of such an experience. The halls were filled, hearts were touched, and eyes drew tears. After prayer there was a short movie from Syria, short yet wonderful lectures, and qiyam prayer. Itâ€™s hard to feel with people who are losing family members, homes, and friends every single day. We simply stand and pray for them, since itâ€™s the best we can do. The Global Qiyam was obviously â€œglobalâ€ and thousands stood up in worship to pray for those they canâ€™t personally help. It was a wonderful experience for all those who attended, and heart touching to see the vast empathy of the ummah.
By Noor H. Salem, TMO
Over 200 people joined together for an entire weekend while putting aside all other responsibilities- simply to hear unique advice from the Love Doctor: Yaser Birjas. The Al-Maghrib Institute held another exclusive and intense single weekend degree seminar at the University of Michigan Dearborn Friday May 17th to Sunday May 19th about what everyone wants to know more about: love. The seminar ran from 7pm until 10pm Friday and from 10am to 7pm Saturday and Sunday. Simple things were answered like meaning of love, particularly in Islam, proposing, etc. The best part is, the love doctor has a sense of humor, leaving everyone rumbling in laughter every once in a while there was time for questions and answers, along with group activities, and fun.
This year though, marks a milestone for Al-Maghrib-the 10th anniversary. Every community held a celebration the last day of any seminar the last two months. Since each community has numerous committee heads and different volunteers, ever celebration was different, and special. A team of dedicated volunteers helped turn the seminar into a different experience. The Dearborn and Windsor community had Sr. Sondos as the dÃ©cor head, who did a marvelous job with room set up, dÃ©cor, and particularly the 10th anniversary celebration. Hearts of red, pink and white, candles, and fresh flower bouquets were all around. She didnâ€™t forget to hand â€“craft a pink and red name tag â€œThe Love Doctorâ€. For the 10th anniversary the theme was purple and white. Two balloon poles of white and purple, lanterns, and elegant satin table covers gave the perfect touch. A very fancy three tier cake was served along with cookies, dipped pretzels, and purple punch with blueberries and fresh lemon slices were available as well.
The class was filled with laughter and at the same time self-reflecting moments like what do you look for in a spouse and what would you change about yourself that youâ€™d want to see in a spouse. He mentioned what women like in a relationship (spontaneous gifts, appreciation, and love) while men aim for respect, good food, and a happy content wife. He gave tips on surprising your wife with flowers, chocolate, or any small meaningful gift and covered sensitive topics like the 5 stages of love and problem resolution. Stories were shared and questions were asked and knowledge was passed. Best of all, everyone went home with a heart touching story that changed their lives.
Look for upcoming seminars near you at: Almaghirb.org/Michigan
By Noor Hani Salem, TMO
Over 1,000 people sat in the Presidential Ballroom at the Henry Hotel of Dearborn, MI Thursday night for the 25th Lebanese American Heritage Club Gala. On stage sat 55 high school, undergraduate, and graduate students facing their audience, who also happen to be the very people who sponsored them. Among the guests sat CEO of Wal-Mart, representatives from the CIA, Ford Motor Company, and DTE.
The past 11 years the LAHC held their annual Gala at the Hyatt regency of Dearborn. However last November the Hyatt was purchased by a new owner and this year marked a venue change for LAHC.
The past several years LAHC gave up over a million dollars in scholarships to students of the Arab American decent. They also give out two community awards and this year it was honored to Ford Motor Company and Rabih Dow.
The three hour long event included a choir, the awarding of the scholarships, and a dinner by Chef Habib Bazzi. It was yet another successful event for LAHC.
For more information about LAHC visit their website at http://lahc.org/
I really love lasagna but I know itâ€™s not too good for me. Can you help me find a replacement?
Good news my friend, you donâ€™t have to stop eating lasagna or any of your favorite foods. I donâ€™t believe short term diets are healthy, both mind and body wise. Cabbage soup diet means you eat cabbage soup for a month lose a few pounds, get excited, and eventually return to your old habits- and weight! Every diet that restricts certain food groups completely, restricts calories to an abnormal and unhealthy low, and simply makes you hungry and unhappy will never give you real results. You want real results? Make eating healthy a lifestyle. That means finding alternatives in ingredients that wonâ€™t make a huge difference in flavor.
Regarding your lasagna, filled with lots of cheese, meat, sauce, sodium and simple carbohydrates, again, some good news. Replace your noodles with a 100% whole wheat (unless you have celiac disease) for extra fiber and satiety. Try swapping your meat for spinach or broccoli, if you canâ€™t all of it then at least half. Or simply buy Organic grass fed certified meat and I promise you itâ€™ll taste great, if not better. Try buying your cheese certified organic as well, due to the hormones and antibiotics that do pass through. Still do go light on the cheese, and toss in ricotta for lower saturated fat contents. When it comes to jarred sauce, well many have added sugar, if not high fructose corn syrup, and way too much sodium. The best thing to do is make your own! Simply chop fresh tomatoes and heat it with tomato paste, sea salt, and fresh ground spices for extra flavoring. You wonâ€™t need the extra salt, and you definitely wonâ€™t need to throw in any sugar.
Noorâ€™s Healthy & Delicious Lasagna Recipe:
1 box 100% whole wheat lasagna noodles cooked
2 cups cooked chopped spinach
1 small red onion minced
2 cups certified organic ricotta cheese
Â½ cup certified organic mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup certified organic parmesan cheese (or any grated cheese of your choice)
1 lb organic certified ground extra lean beef *optional
4 ripe tomatoes
1 clove fresh garlic minced
At your desire: Sea salt, fresh rosemary, black pepper, turmeric, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder.
Â½ cup fresh parsley chopped
1. Preheat your oven to 350.
2. Cook your lasagna noodles as needed and put aside.
3. Steam your spinach (without salt) and put aside as well.
4. Mix the ricotta cheese, spinach, some sea salt, and mozzarella cheese in a bowl.
5. Cook the beef until brown with spices you desire and put aside.
6. Chop the tomatoes and simmer on high heat with the tomato paste, spices, and fresh parsley.
7. Mix a bit of the tomato sauce with the beef.
8. Layer your noodles in the Pyrex evenly. Top with some sauce and then the entire meat mixture.
9. Layer more noodles and top with sauce again and the entire cheese/spinach mixture.
10. Top with more noodles and sauce.
11. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese again. Cover in foil.
12. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, removing the foil and allowing another ten minutes.
For more healthy recipes and replacements visit my blog at: http://blackbeanbrownies.wordpress.com/
By Frank Holmes
A strong stomach and a tremendous amount of patience are required for gold stock investors these days, as miners have been exhibiting their typical volatility pattern.
Thatâ€™s why I often say to anticipate before you participate, because gold stocks are historically twice as volatile as U.S. stocks. As of March 31, 2013, using 10-year data, the NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index (HUI) had a rolling one-year standard deviation of nearly 35 percent. The S&P 500â€™s was just under 15 percent.
I believe the drivers for the yellow metal remain intact, so for investors who can tolerate the ups and downs, gold stocks are a compelling buy. Here are three reasons:
1. Gold Companies are Cheap.
According to research from RBC Capital Markets, Tier I and Tier II producers are inexpensive on historical measures. Based on a price-to-earnings basis, RBC finds that â€œshares are currently trading not far from the recent trough valuations observed during the 2008 global financial crisis.â€
And on a price-to-cash-flow basis, gold stocks are trading at bargain basement prices. The chart below shows that average annual cash flow multiples for North American Tier I gold companies have fallen to lows we havenâ€™t seen in years. Since January 2000, forward price-to-cash-flow multiples have climbed as high as 26 times. This year, we see multiples at the high end that are less than half of that.
On the low end, todayâ€™s price-to-cash-flow of 6.5 times hasnâ€™t been seen since 2001.
Tier I and Tier II companies â€œoffer investors an attractive entry point from an absolute valuation perspective with respect to the broader market,â€ says RBC.
2.Gold companies are increasing their dividends.
With the Federal Reserve suppressing interest rates, investors have had to adapt and reallocate investments to generate more income.
Thatâ€™s where gold companies come in. I have discussed how miners have become much more sensitive toward the needs of their investors as they compete directly with bullion-backed ETFs and bar and coin buying programs.
In response to shareholdersâ€™ desire to get paid while they wait for capital appreciation, gold companies have rolled out dividend programs and increased payouts. â€œThe growth in dividend payout has been spectacular when looking at the industry as a whole,â€ says my friend Barry Cooper from CIBC World Markets.
His data shows that over the past 15 years, the worldâ€™s top 20 gold companies have increased their dividends at a compound annual growth rate of 16 percent. By comparison, gold only rose 12 percent annually.
Not only are gold companies increasing their payouts, the yields offer a tremendous income value to investors compared to government bonds today. Whereas investors receive a 1.5 percent yield on a 10-year Treasury, the stocks in the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index (XAU) are paying a full percentage point more!
This is a significant change from the past: In April 2008, the Treasury yield was nearly 3 percent more than the dividend yield of the XAU.
In addition, the yields of gold stocks have been climbing over the past year while the 10-year Treasury remains low.
3. Enhanced returns in a diversified portfolio.
We have long advocated a conservative weighting of 5 to 10 percent in gold and gold stocks because of the inherent volatility you are seeing today. But despite the extreme moves, thereâ€™s a way to use gold stocks to enhance your portfolioâ€™s returns without adding risk.
Take a look at the efficient frontier chart below, which creates an optimal portfolio allocation between gold stocks and the S&P 500, ranging from a 100 percent allocation to U.S. stocks and no allocation to gold stocks, and gradually increasing the share of gold stocks while decreasing the allocation to U.S. equities.
The blue dot shows that from September 1971 through March 2013, the S&P 500 averaged a decent annual return of 10.34 percent.
What happens when you add in gold stocks? Assuming an investor rebalanced annually, our research found that a portfolio holding an 85 percent of the S&P 500 and 15 percent in gold stocks increased the return with no additional risk. This portfolio averaged 10.96 percent over that same period, or an additional 0.62 percent per year, over holding the S&P 500 alone. Yet the average annual volatility was the same.
Although 0.62 percent doesnâ€™t seem like much, it adds up over time. Assuming the same average annual returns since 1971 and annual rebalancing every year, a hypothetical $100 investment in an S&P 500 portfolio with a 15 percent allocation in gold stocks would be worth about $7,899. This is greater than the $6,246 for the portfolio solely invested in the S&P 500 while adding virtually zero risk.
By Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor in Chief
The debate about the events some 1400 years ago that resulted in the martyrdom of Imam Hussain is still on in Muslim leadership circles all over the world. Each describes the other as being in conflict with Muslim principles. The extremists in both camps justify violence against the other to please the God they both believe in; each denounces others as the worst enemy of Islam. Extremists on both sides are not tired of accusing each others most revered personalities of crimes.
Yet, the religious leadership of both communities is constantly engaged in rhetoric reminding followers that the Islam they preach is the most tolerant and most peaceful religion.
Most Muslims who are not involved in the conflict are bewildered and tend to believe that all these acts of violence are engineered by some hidden powers including the not so hidden US, Israel, India and Great Britain and others. A few are willing to admit that there is a serious theological, political and social problem in relations between Shias and Sunnis.and those committing acts of violence are Muslims belonging to either of the two communities.
The debate about the Caliphate as championed by many Sunnis and Imamate as promoted by the Shias is irrelevant in our times. Even in places like Saudi Arabia, a 100% Muslim majority country with Sharia laws–does not claim itself to be a Caliphate and the Shia Iran still waits for the arrival of its hidden Imam. Yet, in the name of their sects, both have been killing each other for long.
Non-Muslims have a right to ask this: If Muslims cannot tolerate their internal differences and do not know how to handle them peacefully, how can we be assured that they would not act violently against others with whom they might have fundamental deeper religious differences?
No one can resolve the differences that have existed among Shias and Sunnis forever. Those differences go back to some of the earliest days of Islam.
So what can be done?
Differences cannot be resolved but the violence can be controlled. Rather than violence, the leadership of the communities can engage in serious peaceful dialogue built on the fundamental divine principle that human life is sacred and it cannot be harmed. This is possible when those who are considered great spiritual leaders of the two communities instruct their followers that violence is not permitted in Islam and human beings cannot be killed for their theological differences.
The leadership has to repeat this message from every pulpit and vow to protect human life. It is possible to achieve peace between the two communities, but it requires a new style of leadership. This new style demands that leaders stop playing God and act as servants of God whose obligation is to ensure the sanctity of human life of not only Muslims but of all others.
Without that, it is almost impossible to control forces of violence unleashed by the hatred that has been nurtured for centuries in the name of Islam.
At people level we can stop promoting those leaders who talk the divisive language and incite them against the others. It is a difficult task, nevertheless it is doable. At least in the US, those who are shias and sunnis can prevail upon their religious leaders to refrain from using a language of hatred and violence against each other.
FBI whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds was described as â€œthe most gagged person in the history of the United Statesâ€ by the American Civil Liberties Union. Was the Sunday Times pressured to drop its investigation into her revelations?
By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
In a recent book Classified Woman, Sibel Edmonds, a former translator for the FBI, describes how the Pentagon, CIA and State Department maintained intimate ties to al-Qaeda militants as late as 2001.
A whistleblower has revealed extraordinary information on the U.S. governmentâ€™s support for international terrorist networks and organised crime. The government has denied the allegations yet gone to extraordinary lengths to silence her. Her critics have derided her as a fabulist and fabricator. But now comes word that some of her most serious allegations were confirmed by a major European newspaper only to be squashed at the request of the U.S. government.
In a recent book Classified Woman, Sibel Edmonds, a former translator for the FBI, describes how the Pentagon, CIA and State Department maintained intimate ties to al-Qaeda militants as late as 2001. Her memoir, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, published last year, charged senior government officials with negligence, corruption and collaboration with al Qaeda in illegal arms smuggling and drugs trafficking in Central Asia.
In interviews with this author in early March, Edmonds claimed that Ayman al-Zawahiri, current head of al Qaeda and Osama bin Ladenâ€™s deputy at the time, had innumerable, regular meetings at the U.S. embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, with U.S. military and intelligence officials between 1997 and 2001, as part of an operation known as â€˜Gladio Bâ€™. Al-Zawahiri, she charged, as well as various members of the bin Laden family and other mujahideen, were transported on NATO planes to various parts of Central Asia and the Balkans to participate in Pentagon-backed destabilisation operations.
According to two Sunday Times journalists speaking on condition of anonymity, this and related revelations had been confirmed by senior Pentagon and MI6 officials as part of a four-part investigative series that were supposed to run in 2008. The Sunday Times journalists described how the story was inexplicably dropped under the pressure of undisclosed â€œinterest groupsâ€, which, they suggest, were associated with the U.S. State Department.
Described by the American Civil Liberties Union as the â€œmost gagged person in the history of the United States of America,â€ Edmonds studied criminal justice, psychology and public policy at George Washington and George Mason universities. Two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, her fluency in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani earned her an FBI contract at the Washington DC field office. She was tasked with translating highly classified intelligence from operations against terrorism suspects in and outside the U.S.
In the course of her work, Edmonds became privy to evidence that U.S. military and intelligence agencies were collaborating with Islamist militants affiliated with al-Qaeda, the very forces blamed for the 9/11 attacks â€“ and that officials in the FBI were covering up the evidence. When Edmonds complained to her superiors, her family was threatened by one of the subjects of her complaint, and she was fired. Her accusations of espionage against her FBI colleagues were eventually investigated by the Justice Departmentâ€™s Office of the Inspector General, which did not give details about the allegations as they remained classified.
Although no final conclusions about the espionage allegations were reached, the Justice Department concluded that many of Edmondsâ€™ accusations â€œwere supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBIâ€™s decision to terminate her services.â€
When she attempted to go public with her story in 2002, and again in 2004, the U.S. government silenced Edmonds by invoking a legal precedent known as â€œstate secrets privilegeâ€ â€“ a near limitless power to quash a lawsuit based solely on the governmentâ€™s claim that evidence or testimony could divulge information that might undermine â€œnational security.â€ Under this doctrine, the government sought to retroactively classify basic information concerning Edmondsâ€™s case already in the public record, including, according to the New York Times, â€œwhat languages Ms. Edmonds translated, what types of cases she handled, and what employees she worked with, officials said. Even routine and widely disseminated information â€” like where she worked â€” is now classified.â€
Although certainly not the first invocation of â€œstate secrets privilegeâ€, since the Edmonds case the precedent has been used repeatedly in the post-9/11 era under both the Bush and Obama administrations to shield the U.S. government from court scrutiny of rendition, torture, warrantless wiretapping, as well as the Presidentâ€™s claimed war powers.
Other intelligence experts agree that Edmonds had stumbled upon a criminal conspiracy at the heart of the American judicial system. In her memoirs, she recounts that FBI Special Agent Gilbert Graham, who also worked in the Washington field office on counter-intelligence operations, told her over a coffee how he â€œran background checks on federal judgesâ€ in the â€œearly nineties for the bureauâ€¦ If we came up with shit â€“ skeletons in their closets â€“ the Justice Department kept it in their pantry to be used against them in the future or to get them to do what they want in certain cases â€“ cases like yours.â€ A redacted version of Grahamâ€™s classified protected disclosure to the Justice Department regarding these allegations, released in 2007, refers to the FBIâ€™s â€œabuse of authorityâ€ by conducting illegal wiretapping to obtain information on U.S. public officials.
Five years ago, Edmonds revealed to the Sunday Times that an unidentified senior U.S. State Department official was on the payroll of Turkish agents in Washington, passing on nuclear and military secrets. â€œHe was aiding foreign operatives against U.S. interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectivesâ€, Edmonds told the paper. She reported coming across this information when listening to suppressed phone calls recorded by FBI surveillance, marked by her colleague Melek Can Dickerson as â€œnot pertinentâ€.
In the Sunday Times exposÃ©, Edmonds described a parallel organisation in Israel cooperating with the Turks on illegal weapons sales and technology transfers. Between them, Israel and Turkey operated a range of front companies incorporated in the U.S. with active â€œmoles in sensitive military and nuclear institutionsâ€, supported by U.S. officials, in order to sell secrets to the highest bidder. One of the buyers was Pakistanâ€™s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) â€“ which often used its Turkish allies, according to the Times, â€œas a conduitâ€¦ because they were less likely to attract suspicion.â€
The Pakistani operation was, the paper reported, â€œled by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chiefâ€ from 1999 to 2001, when the agency helped train, supply and coordinate the Afghan Taliban and gave sanctuary to their Arab allies brought together in the coalition named al-Qaeda. Ahmad, as the Times noted, â€œwas accused [by the FBI] of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks.â€
According to Indian intelligence officials, they had assisted the FBI in â€œtracing and establishingâ€ the financial trail between the General and the chief hijacker. The discovery was, they allege, the real reason behind the Generalâ€™s sudden retirement in October 2001. The Pakistani daily, The News, reported on 10th September 2001 that the ISI chief held several â€œmysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Councilâ€ that week, including with CIA director George Tenet.
In an interview with this author in March, Edmonds raised the question of whether U.S. officialsâ€™ liaisons with an espionage network overseen by Ahmad, and the FBIâ€™s suppression of related intelligence, played a role in facilitating the attacks.
â€œFollowing 9/11, a number of the foreign operatives were taken in for questioning by the FBI on suspicion that they knew about or somehow aided the attacksâ€, reported the Sunday Times. The paper related that according to Edmonds, the senior State Department official received a call from a foreign agent under FBI surveillance asking for help to â€œget them out of the U.S. because we canâ€™t afford for them to spill the beans.â€ The official promised â€œhe would â€˜take care of itâ€™.â€
Edmonds told this author that high-level corruption compromised the ability of the U.S. intelligence community to pursue ongoing investigations of those planning the 9/11 attacks. â€œIt was precisely those militants that were incubated by some of Americaâ€™s key alliesâ€, she said. Corruption helped guarantee Congressional silence when that incubation strategy backfired in the form of 9/11. â€œBoth Republican and Democratic representatives in the House and Senate came up in FBI counterintelligence investigations for taking bribes from foreign agentsâ€, she said.
Al-Qaeda: Enemy or Asset?
In her interview, Edmonds insisted that after its initial exposÃ©, the Timesâ€˜ investigation had gone beyond such previous revelations, and was preparing to disclose her most startling accusations. Among these, Edmonds described how the CIA and the Pentagon had been running a series of covert operations supporting Islamist militant networks linked to Osama bin Laden right up to 9/11, in Central Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus.
While it is widely recognised that the CIA sponsored bin Ladenâ€™s networks in Afghanistan during the Cold War, U.S. government officials deny any such ties existed. Others claim these ties were real, but were severed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.
But according to Edmonds, this narrative is false. â€œNot just bin Laden, but several senior â€˜bin Ladensâ€™ were transported by U.S. intelligence back and forth to the region in the late 1990s through to 2001â€³, she told this author, â€œincluding Ayman al-Zawahiriâ€ â€“ Osama bin Ladenâ€™s right-hand-man who has taken over as al-Qaedaâ€™s top leader.
â€œIn the late 1990s, all the way up to 9/11, al-Zawahiri and other mujahideen operatives were meeting regularly with senior U.S. officials in the U.S. embassy in Baku to plan the Pentagonâ€™s Balkan operations with the mujahideen,â€ said Edmonds. â€œWe had support for these operations from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but the U.S. oversaw and directed them. They were being run from a secret section of the Pentagon with its own officeâ€.
Edmonds clarified, â€œthe FBI counterintelligence investigation which was tracking these targets, along with their links to U.S. officials, was known as â€˜Gladio Bâ€™, and was kickstarted in 1997. It so happens that Major Douglas Dickersonâ€ â€“ the husband of her FBI co-worker Melek whom she accused of espionage â€“ â€œspecifically directed the Pentagonâ€™s â€˜Gladioâ€™ operations in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan at this time.â€
In testimony under oath, Edmonds has previously confirmed that Major Doug Dickerson worked for the Pentagonâ€™s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under the weapons procurement logistics division on Turkey and Central Asia, and with the Office of Special Plans (OSP) overseeing policy in Central Asia.
Edmonds said that the Pentagon operations with Islamists were an â€œextensionâ€ of an original â€˜Gladioâ€™ programme uncovered in the 1970s in Italy, part of an EU-wide NATO covert operation that began as early as the 1940s. As Swiss historian Dr. Daniele Ganser records in his seminal book, NATOâ€™s Secret Armies, an official Italian parliamentary inquiry confirmed that British MI6 and the CIA had established a network of secret â€œstay-behindâ€ paramilitary armies, staffed by fascist and Nazi collaborators. The covert armies carried out terrorist attacks throughout Western Europe, officially blamed on Communists in what Italian military intelligence called the â€˜strategy of tensionâ€™.
â€œYou had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political gameâ€ explained Gladio operative Vincenzo Vinciguerra during his trial in 1984. â€œThe reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these peopleâ€¦ to turn to the State to ask for greater security.â€
While the reality of Gladioâ€™s existence in Europe is a matter of historical record, Edmonds contended the same strategy was adopted by the Pentagon in the 1990s in a new theatre of operations, namely, Asia. â€œInstead of using neo-Nazis, they used mujahideen working under various bin Ladens, as well as al-Zawahiriâ€, she said.
The last publicly known Gladio meeting occurred in NATOâ€™s Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) in Brussels in 1990. While Italy was a focal point for the older European operations, Edmonds said that Turkey and Azerbaijan served as the main conduits for a completely new, different set of operations in Asia using veterans of the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan, the so-called â€œAfghan Arabsâ€ that had been trained by al-Qaeda.
These new Pentagon-led operations were codenamed â€˜Gladio Bâ€™ by FBI counterintelligence: â€œIn 1997, NATO asked [Egyptian President] Hosni Mubarak to release from prison Islamist militants affiliated to Ayman al-Zawahiri [whose role in the assassination of Anwar Sadat led to Mubarakâ€™s ascension]. They were flown under U.S. orders to Turkey for [training and use in] operations by the Pentagonâ€, she said.
Edmondsâ€™ allegations find some independent corroboration in the public record. The Wall Street Journal refers to a nebulous agreement between Mubarak and â€œthe operational wing of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was then headed by Ayman al-Zawahiriâ€¦ Many of that groupâ€™s fighters embraced a cease-fire with the government of former President Hosni Mubarak in 1997.â€
Youssef Bodansky, former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, cited U.S. intelligence sources in an article for Defense and Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy, confirming â€œdiscussions between the Egyptian terrorist leader Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and an Arab-American known to have been both an emissary of the CIA and the U.S. Government.â€ He referred to an â€œofferâ€ made to al-Zawahiri in November 1997 on behalf of U.S. intelligence, granting his Islamists a free hand in Egypt as long as they lent support to U.S. forces in the Balkans. In 1998, Al Zawahiriâ€™s brother, Muhammed, led an elite unit of the Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbs during the Kosovo conflict â€“ he reportedly had direct contact with NATO leadership.
â€œThis is whyâ€, Edmonds continued in her interview, â€œeven though the FBI routinely monitored the communications of the diplomatic arms of all countries, only four countries were exempt from this protocol â€“ the UK, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Belgium â€“ the seat of NATO. No other country â€“ not even allies like Israel or Saudi Arabia, were exempt. This is because these four countries were integral to the Pentagonâ€™s so-called Gladio B operations.â€
Edmonds did not speculate on the objectives of the Pentagonâ€™s â€˜Gladio Bâ€™ operations, but highlighted the following possibilities: projecting U.S. power in the former Soviet sphere of influence to access previously untapped strategic energy and mineral reserves for U.S. and European companies; pushing back Russian and Chinese power; and expanding the scope of lucrative criminal activities, particularly illegal arms and drugs trafficking.
Terrorism finance expert Loretta Napoleoni estimates the total value of this criminal economy to be about $1.5 trillion annually, the bulk of which â€œflows into Western economies, where it gets recycled in the U.S. and in Europeâ€ as a â€œvital element of the cash flow of these economies.â€
It is no coincidence then that the opium trade, Edmonds told this author, has grown rapidly under the tutelage of NATO in Afghanistan: â€œI know for a fact that NATO planes routinely shipped heroin to Belgium, where they then made their way into Europe and to the UK. They also shipped heroin to distribution centres in Chicago and New Jersey. FBI counterintelligence and DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) operations had acquired evidence of this drug trafficking in its surveillance of a wide range of targets, including senior officials in the Pentagon, CIA and State Department. As part of this surveillance, the role of the Dickersons â€“ with the support of these senior U.S. officials â€“ in facilitating drug-trafficking, came up. It was clear from this evidence that the whole funnel of drugs, money and terror in Central Asia was directed by these officials.â€
The evidence for this funnel, according to Edmonds, remains classified in the form of FBI counterintelligence surveillance records she was asked to translate. Although this alleged evidence has never made it to court due to the U.S. governmentâ€™s exertion of â€˜state secret privilegeâ€™, she was able to testify in detail concerning her allegations, including naming names, in 2009.
In recent interviews, two Sunday Times journalists confirmed to this author that the newspaperâ€™s investigation based on Sibel Edmondsâ€™ revelations was to break much of the details into the open.
â€œWeâ€™d spoken to several current and active Pentagon officials confirming the existence of U.S. operations sponsoring mujahideen networks in Central Asia from the 1990s to 2001,â€ said oneSunday Times source. â€œThose mujahideen networks were intertwined with a whole range of criminal enterprises, including drugs and guns. The Pentagon officials corroborated Edmondsâ€™ allegations against specific U.S. officials, and Iâ€™d also interviewed an MI6 officer who confirmed that the U.S. was running these operations sponsoring mujahideen in that period.â€
But according to Edmonds, citing the investigative team at the paper, the last two articles in the series were spiked under U.S. State Department pressure. She recalled being told at the time by journalists leading the Sunday Times investigation that the newspaperâ€™s editor had decided to squash the story after receiving calls from officials at the U.S. embassy in London.
A journalist with the Sunday Timesâ€˜ investigative unit told this author he had interviewed former Special Agent in Charge, Dennis Saccher, who had moved to the FBIâ€™s Colorado office. Saccher reportedly confirmed the veracity of Edmondsâ€™ allegations of espionage, telling him that Edmondsâ€™ story â€œshould have been front page newsâ€ because it was â€œa scandal bigger than Watergate.â€ The same journalist confirmed that after interviewing Saccher at his home, the newspaper was contacted by the U.S. State Department. â€œThe U.S. embassy in London called the editor and tried to ward him off.â€
â€œWe were told that we werenâ€™t permitted to approach Saccher or any other active FBI agents directly, but could only go through the FBIâ€™s press office â€“ that if we tried to speak to Saccher or anyone else employed by the FBI directly, that would be illegal. Of course, it isnâ€™t, but thatâ€™s what we were told. I think this was a veiled threat.â€
Saccherâ€™s comments to the journalist never made it to press.
A lead reporter on the series at the Sunday Times told this author that the investigation based on Edmondsâ€™ information was supposed to have four parts, but was inexplicably dropped. â€œThe story was pulled half-way, suddenly, without any warningâ€, the journalist said. â€œI wasnâ€™t party to the editorial decision to drop the story, but there was a belief in the office amongst several journalists who were part of the Insight investigative unit that the decision was made under pressure from the U.S. State Department, because the story might cause a diplomatic incident.â€
Although the journalist was unaware of where this belief came from â€“ and was not informed of the U.S. embassyâ€™s contact with the paperâ€™s editor which the other journalist was privy to â€“ he acknowledged that self-censorship influenced by unspecified â€œinterest groupsâ€ was a possible explanation. â€œThe way the story was dropped was unusual, but the belief amongst my colleagues this happened under political pressure is plausible.â€ He cryptically described an â€œeditorial mechanism, linked to the paper but not formally part of it, which could however exert control on stories when necessary, linked to certain interests.â€ When asked which interests, the journalist said, â€œI canâ€™t say. I canâ€™t talk about that.â€
Edmonds described how, due to the U.S. governmentâ€™s efforts to silence her, she had no option left except to write her story down. The resultant book, Classified Woman, had to be submitted to an FBI panel for review. By law, the bureau was required to make a decision on what could be disclosed or redacted within 30 days.
Instead, about a year later, Edmondsâ€™ lawyer received a letter from the FBI informing them that the agency was still reviewing the book, and prohibiting her from publishing it: â€œThe matters Ms. Edmonds writes about involve many equities, some of which may implicate information that is classifiedâ€¦ Approval of the manuscripts by the FBI will include incorporation of all changes required by the FBI. Until then, Ms. Edmonds does not have approval to publish her manuscripts which includes showing them to editors, literary agents, publishers, reviewers, or anyone else. At this point, Ms. Edmonds remains obligated not to disclose or publish the manuscript in any manner.â€
The block was another example, Edmonds said, â€œof the abuse of â€˜national securityâ€™ to conceal evidence of criminality.â€ She said that this forced her to release the book herself in March 2012, as no publisher would risk taking it on.
Sibel Edmonds memoirs, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, is available from all good online booksellers.
Dr Nafeez Ahmed writes for The Guardian on the geopolitics of environmental, energy and economic crises at his Earth Insight blog. His personal website is www.nafeezahmed.com.
(The author is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own.)
By Gerard Wynn
LONDON, May 8 (Reuters) – Morocco is set to pay more for its solar power than far richer countries such as Germany and should switch tack to cheaper solar technologies that can compete better with wind, oil and coal.
The higher cost can probably be attributed to its choice of concentrated solar power (CSP), the competitiveness of which is being questioned as prices of rival photovoltaic (PV) technology tumble.
Morocco plans to install at least 2,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power capacity by 2020 at five sites, which it hopes will account for 14 percent of total power generating capacity by the end of the decade.
It will target both CSP and solar PV in its Moroccan Plan for Solar Energy, or â€œSolar Planâ€, according to the Moroccan Investment Development Agency, but has so far veered towards more expensive CSP at one initial project near the southern city of Ouarzazate.
That contrasts with how developers in California have increasingly ditched CSP for PV over the past three years as a global manufacturing glut sent PV costs plummeting.
CSP uses parabolic or other types of mirrors to concentrate sunlight and create heat and steam to drive a turbine. It is a technology championed by power equipment producers in Spain, Moroccoâ€™s neighbour and one of its closest diplomatic allies.
Solar PV converts sunlight directly into electricity using a light-sensitive semiconductor such as silicon.
Morocco would do well to switch to PV, given a far more developed supply chain, commoditised end product and competitive power generation, especially given that the countryâ€™s economic troubles make it riskier to experiment with less widely used technologies.
Moroccan authorities anticipated the solar plan would cost $9 billion at its launch in 2009, according to data on the website of the north African countryâ€™s solar energy agency, Masen.
The plan will be part-financed by a $1 billion Energy Development Fund, including donations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Morocco has raised additional funds for the first Ouarzazate project from institutions including the European Investment Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the German development bank KfW.
The plan will be delivered through 25-year power purchase agreements (PPA) with independent power producers which earn a fixed rate per unit of solar power they generate.
The aim is to achieve greater energy independence: Morocco is one of the worldâ€™s most energy-poor countries, importing around 95 percent of its needs, according to the World Bank.
Energy accounts for more than a quarter of the countryâ€™s imports and contributed to a record trade deficit of $23.6 billion last year. Sun-drenched Morocco wants eventually to export its solar energy to Europe.
The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed an open-access database measuring solar irradiance calculated according to the sunlight captured by a panel tilted southwards, defined in units of kilowatt hours per square metre per day.
The NRELâ€™s map shows a maximum â€œDirect Normal Irradianceâ€ (DNI) in southwest Germany of 3.39, compared with 7.47 at Ouarzazate in Morocco.
It shows that the Moroccan project should achieve far more competitive power generation.
But Morocco announced last September that it had given a group led by Saudi International Company for Water and Power (ACWA) a $1 billion contract to build a 160-megawatt (MW) CSP plant, at 1.62 dirham ($0.194) per kilowatt hour.
ACWA last week confirmed further details including the award of construction contracts.
That is more support than for smaller PV installations in Germany, at 0.134 euros ($0.18) per kWh for projects up to 10 MW, and in Britain, at 0.115 pounds ($0.18) for projects above 250 kilowatts, both of which are over 20 rather than 25 years.
Germany has scrapped support for projects over 10 MW.
By Geoffrey Cook, TMO
Healdsburg (Calif.)–May 15, 2013–Your author finds himself in the Californiaâ€™s north, and I am one of the few in my State who simply does not like wine; therefore, this would make it easier to accept the Islamic injunction on this.
This essay derives from a comment I made in response to a posting of Engineering Professor Martin Hellman of Stanford University in Palo Altoâ€™s extremely important blog, Diffusing the Nuclear Threat (http:// nuclearrisk.org/). (Although a scientist who â€œknows his stuff,â€ I find his writing on very technical subjects to be most accessible). My thesis here comes from my comment to Professor Hellmanâ€™s entry on the danger of NATOâ€™s intervention in Afghanistan which he believes has the potential of unfolding into a nuclear confrontation. He discusses this in his May 9th, 2013 blog (http://nuclearrisk. wordpress.com/2013/05/09/avoiding-needless-wars-part-7-afghanistan/) which submission is one of a series of contemplations, the seventh installment of his â€œAvoiding Needless Wars.â€
I have written quite a bit on Afghanistan as my regular readers are aware here on these â€œpages,â€ and I am preparing an (academic) paper for publication on a parallel subject as discussed on the above web page, and I hope I can follow through on perceptions that Dr. Hellman has given me through his blog in my upcoming more formal paper. Dr. Hellman is not concerned about the Islamic world per se, but more on the subject of â€œArmageddonâ€ in general. Here he is considering a conflict set in a Muslim land, though, and places it into a unique larger geopolitical context.
At the time (1979), I supported Jimmy Carterâ€™s assistance to the Afghani people when the Soviet Army initially invaded Afghanistan to buttress the faltering Communist government there, but, when the Reagan Administration imported Arab fighters, the resistance changed from an indigenous struggle for liberation to a mercenary one with larger geographical and ideological issues. Those foreign fighters held values quite different from the Islam of the Hindu Kush and incidentally, also, the Vale â€“ which was more Sufic.
I have written more than once that the current G.W.O.T. (the Global War on Terrorismâ€™s) roots lie within the Reagan Administrationâ€™s post-1989 failure to institute a Marshal-like Plan for the Mountains and Pakistan. The withdrawal of the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) led to a five-prong civil war in the Hindu Kush between the various warlords. A group of Madrassa students (i.e., the Taliban) arose as a rag-tag militia with the support of Afghanistanâ€™s citizenry since their preliminary goal was to achieve a relative peace and security by pushing the contending clan-bands into the Northwest corner of Afghanistan, and; thus, the triumphant rule of the â€œStudentsâ€ from Kabul was initially popular. Unfortunately, though, many of the Arab mercenaries, who remained after the Russian War, were protected under the tribal laws of hospitality there.
When the non-national al-Qaida declared War on the United States, the Taliban head of State, Mullah Umar, was furious because he knew his regime was doomed.
Back to the nuclear aspects of the situation, after the victory of the mercenaries, they, then were looking for further battles against the â€œinfidels.â€ They found it first in Kashmirâ€™s struggle for self-agency against India.
I have written on the Kargil dispute (May-July, 1999)previously early in my tenure on this paper, and myâ€ takeâ€ on it is different than most historians, and a bit revisionary, but I believe the historical sources bear me out. My research shows that it was probably a group of Arab irregulars who took the Kargil heights overlooking the Vale during the winter. The Pakistanis only became involved defensively in reaction to the mercenaries from Afghanistan which event, undeniably, also, became a seemingly a fortuitous advantageous to the Pakistanis.
A potential nuclear confrontation was brewing, and Pakistan, a state where the military with the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) dominate the political discourse, the Prime Minister (PM), Nawaz Sharif, who a fortnight ago was elected once again to the office of Prime Minister after a long political come back, did not perceive the danger of nuclear war since his COAS (Commander of the Armed Forces) kept him in the dark to the exact seriousness of the encounter; so, Bill Clinton dragged the PM into Washington on the fourth of July of that year. Under the .guidance of the U.S. President with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, a South Asian inferno was avoided at that time.
Shortly after, on December 13th, 2001, a group of sub-nationals attacked the Indian Parliament in support of Kashmiri separatists. In the Indo-Pakistani theater each side almost immediately accuses the other of any political violence within borders of the victimized. The Indian BJP, the political wing of the RSS — who gave us the assassination of Gandhi, accused Pakistan of the act against New Delhiâ€™s legislature when it seems that it was an independent organization seeking independence for Kashmir — although rogue elements of the ISI might have been aware and encouraged it.
Anyway, this led to the 2001-2002 Indo-Pakistani nuclear crises, which if all weaponry were successfully deployed might have led to a nuclear winter in the Northern Hemisphere. During this period, sub-national and non-State actors were encouraging the State actors to use their atomic capabilities to accomplish an Armageddon-like goal of the Islamic far religious right.
The real hero, in my opinion, in diffusing this situation was Pervez Musharraf, the then President of Pakistan.
By Karin Friedemann, TMO
TMO spoke to longtime community activist Muthanna al-Hanooti about the importance of the work of the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), which opened a new Greater Detroit office in September 2012. MLFA also has offices in Dallas, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Al-Hanooti is the regional director for MLFA in Southfield, Michigan.
This author first met al-Hanooti 20 years ago while doing charity work with Life for Relief and Development, while a Wayne State University undergrad student trying to raise awareness about the tragic effects of US sanctions on Iraqi children.
Al-Hanooti, a descendant of Palestinians expelled from Haifa in 1948, was born in Iraq, raised in Kuwait and moved to the US in 1980. He became interested in human rights at age 15 when he learned about relatives being persecuted by the former Iraqi regime. â€œI had a bad confrontation with the regime when I was 18 when I was denied enrollment in Baghdad University because I was not â€˜Baâ€™thist.â€™ This experience was a great eye opener to me. Since then I was adamant advocate for the human rights violations in Iraq and elsewhere,â€ he told the Arab American News. His background involves TV production and management. Much of his career was spent in government and international relations.
â€œIâ€™m a beneficiary of the Muslim Legal Fund of America,â€ Al-Hanooti said. â€œMy experiences opened my eyes to the negative and positive things about the legal system.â€
In 2003, al-Hanooti was wrongfully accused of being a spy for Iraq working for Saddam Husseinâ€™s foreign intelligence arm, the Iraqi Intelligence Service, after inviting US Congressmen to Iraq to observe the humanitarian situation. People who knew him personally were shocked to learn about the charges, because of his upstanding character and long time service to the community. He helped establish Life for Relief and Development, the Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan, Focus on American and Arab Interests and Relations and other organizations. The US government charges carried a 15-year sentence, and were eventually all dismissed.
Al-Hanootiâ€™s attorney Linda Moreno, who was provided to him by MLFA, spent 18 months examining classified documents, and the prosecutionâ€™s allegations, and created a strong defense that saved Al-Hanootiâ€™s dignity and freedom. Judge Paul Borman sentenced al-Hanooti to serve 10 months, citing his life of charitable and civic work in rejecting the governmentâ€™s call for considerably more prison time.
â€œAs an attorney handling federal national security cases across the country, I have never seen a judge depart so radically from the governmentâ€™s recommended sentence,â€ stated Ahmed Ghappour, an Egyptian-American trial attorney who focuses on national security law. â€œThis underscores the fact that al-Hanooti is a committed humanitarian and a role model for the community he so dearly served. In the end, a stunning trajectory for Muthanna al-Hanooti: from spy to patriot.â€
While MLFA has been criticized because the high profile Holy Land Foundation trials, and that of Aafia Siddique did not go well, resulting in life sentences, MLFA director Janney told Ihsan Alkhatib, Esq., PhD in an interview that â€œMLFA has won many other important cases, including that of Jamal Abusamhadeneh, who was falsely accused of being a member of a foreign organization. MLFA funded his defense and was successfully cleared of those charges. He is now a free American citizen; Linda Mahmoud, who had her 20-year security clearance revoked by her employer, the U.S. Department of Defense. MLFA funded her defense against accusation she was tied to Palestinian terrorists, and her security clearance was reinstated; Mohammad Salah, who has been wrongfully designated as a terrorist for the past 17 years, despite a jury finding him innocent. MLFA funded the lawsuit to lift the crippling designation. He is now free of this designation and can function normally in society; Imam Foad Farahi, who was the victim of government heavy-handed attempts to turn him into a spy against his congregation. He refused to deceive his community, but it nearly costs him his bid for citizenship. MLFA funded his defense and he is now on his way to becoming a U.S. citizen again.â€
MLFA is currently funding around a dozen cases and has handled nearly a dozen past cases on the basis of each caseâ€™s potential impact on the status of civil liberties in America.
One of the initiatives MLFA is launching this year is a preventative campaign aimed at increasing awareness of informants who try to snare community members into manufactured plots. They are providing posters for mosques to display that warn their communities that â€œIf that new friend starts calling for â€˜violent jihad,â€™ he might be an informant.â€
â€œLaw enforcement should focus on preventing crime, not creating it. Every community member needs to be aware of this issue. We also include our phone number on these posters for people who believe they are being targeted by informants,â€ said Janney.
Janney told Forum and Link that the Muslim Legal Fund of America is a charity organization started in late 2001 by a group of activists in the Dallas, TX area. â€œAfter watching the Clinton Administration lock away over two dozen Muslims and citing â€˜secret evidenceâ€™ as justification, we knew that things could be taking a bad turn for Muslims in America. After the 9/11 terrorists attacks the government raided and shutdown Muslim charities and business in various American communities and prosecuted their leaders. We witnessed new laws being passed that grant the government unprecedented power to criminalize speech, treat religious observation as suspicious activities and violate the very civil liberties that serve as the basis of our society. Fortunately, we have MLFA, our supporters, and other like-minded organizations that are actively standing up to these challenges.â€
The MLFA is one of the nationâ€™s leading organizationâ€™s committed to upholding justice. It is a 501(c)(3) charity that supports legal cases impacting the civil rights and liberties in America. Its staff, volunteers and supporters all share the common belief that treating people unfairly because of their religious beliefs undermines the core values that make America great. In addition to financially and logistically supporting legal cases, MLFA promotes justice by informing the media of the important issues and cases it supports in order for the public to learn more about them and see first hand the discrimination surrounding Muslim Americans.