Bush wished to convince American public that “he is the most powerful man in the world”, and all he wants to do is make sure “every American is safe.” A Civil libertarian said: “Such reversions have led us in some terrible and self-destructive directions – loss of civil liberties, endorsement of torture and a misbegotten war paramount among them – because they are based on a need to deny, not address, a disturbing national reality.”
US STATE DEPARTMENT JOINS MUSLIM DEBATE
The State Department is vigorously posting on about 70 Web sites after it put its two Arab-American Web monitors to work last November. The department expects to add seven more team members within the next month – four more in Arabic, two in Farsi and one in Urdu, the official language of Pakistan.
Walid Jawad and Muath al-Sufi say they were tired of all the chatter on Middle Eastern blogs and Internet forums in praise of gory attacks carried out by the “noble resistance” in Iraq. So Mr. Jawad, one of two Arabic-speaking members of the State Department’s Digital Outreach Team, posted his own question: Why was it that many in the Arab world quickly condemned civilian Palestinian deaths but were mute about the endless killing of women and children by suicide bombers in Iraq?
The team said certain topics are repeated regularly, including the American soldiers torturing Iraqis, Abu Ghraib and President Bush’s comment that the fight against terrorism is a “crusade.” Much time is also spent whenever prominent Americans from talk-show hosts to politicians make anti-Muslim remarks of the “bomb Mecca” variety.
Analysts question whether the blog team will survive beyond the tenure of Karen P. Hughes, the confidante of President Bush who runs public diplomacy.
MORE THAN A MILLION IRAQI DEAD
In the week in which General Patraeus reported back to US Congress on the impact the recent ‘surge’ is having in Iraq, a new poll reveals that more than 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have been murdered since the invasion took place in 2003.
Previous estimates, most noticeably the one published in the Lancet in October 2006, suggested almost half this number (654,965 deaths). These findings come from a poll released by ORB, the British polling agency that has been tracking public opinion in Iraq since 2005. In conjunction with their Iraqi fieldwork agency a representative sample of 1,499 adults aged 18+ answered the questions for the poll.
QATAR: IRAQ CONFLICT TOO BIG FOR US
Addressing the UN, Sheikh Hamad, the Emir of Qatar and the only Arab leader to speak at the General Assembly said Iraq can no longer have the responsibility of just one country and called for a strengthening of the United Nations’ role there, in a speech that has been seen as a rare public criticism of US policy in Iraq.
BUSH ON CIVILIAN DEATHS IN IRAQ
President Bush, meeting face to face for the second time this month pressed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to move on stalled measures deemed critical to political reconciliation, while al-Maliki made clear his unhappiness about the killing of Iraqi civilians by private U.S. security contractors.
During her phone call to Mr Maliki, Ms Rice had “reiterated that the United States does everything it can to avoid such loss of life in contrast to the enemies of the Iraqi people who deliberately target civilians”.
US CONGRESS DENOUNCES IRANIAN PRESIDENT
US Congress rebuked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by a 397-16 vote and asked President Bush to tighten sanctions against his government. The swift rebuke was a rare display of bipartisan cooperation and reflected lawmakers’ nervousness about Tehran’s intentions toward Israel, fuelled by the pro-Israeli lobby whose influence reaches across party lines in Congress.
BUSH CALLS FOR EXPANSION OF SPY LAW
President Bush wants Congress to expand and make permanent a law that temporarily gives the government more power to eavesdrop without warrants on suspected foreign terrorists. Without such action, Bush said, “our national security professionals will lose critical tools they need to protect our country.”
MUSLIM GROUPS SUE FBI OVER SURVEILLANCE
According to Los Angeles Times several Islamic groups in Southern California have filed a lawsuit against Department of Justice in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana to force FBI to release information about alleged surveillance of mosques and individuals after the 9/11 attacks.
In May 2006, 11 Muslim leaders and community groups sent the FBI a Freedom of Information Act request for documents about suspected surveillance of them and sued after the bureau released just four pages, one of them largely blank. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the request and lawsuit, believes the FBI is withholding information. The civil rights group said in a statement that the FBI “squandered an opportunity” to build trust with the Muslim community by not releasing the information.
JUSTICE IS ONE-EYED MONSTER
The US Senate has voted against a bill that had sought to restore prisoners’ right to challenge detentions. The measure would have given the detainees at the Guantanamo prison camp and other foreigners the fundamental right to challenge their detention in the US courts. The legislation needed 60 votes to be considered by members of the senate, narrowly controlled by Democrats. But the bill received only 56 votes, with 43 voting against the effort to roll back a key element of George Bush’s “war on terror”.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION WESTERN STYLE
One may disagree with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies and pronouncements but the hysteria created around his recent visit to UN proves America loathes freedom, including freedom of speech.
Many were dismayed by the behaviour of democratically elected representatives who denounced him and threatened even Columbia University for inviting him to speak there. None could imagine that Columbia’s president would insult an invited guest speaker. The threats of possible sanctions against Columbia University were an insult. In an interview with The New York Sun, the speaker of New York’s Assembly, Sheldon Silver, warned that legislators might now “take a different view” of capital support provided to Columbia.
SPIN MASTER VETOES 10 OF 11 SPENDING BILLS
A compassionate fiscal conservative President Bush threatened to veto 10 of the 11 appropriations bills that have passed the House including a popular children’s health care programme. Nobody has any inkling what he calls spending more than 600 billion dollars for waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chris Edwards of Cato says federal outlays, when adjusted for inflation, have increased faster under Mr. Bush than under any president since Jimmy Carter. It sounds ridiculous, because we know he’s a big spender.”
TOO MANY MOSQUES IN USA
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has asked Republican leaders to repudiate remarks by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) in which he said “we have too many mosques in this country.” The Democratic National Committee has already condemned Rep. King’s statements, calling them “deplorable.”
King, who is on Giuliani’s Homeland Security Advisory Board, has in the past claimed that the vast majority of mosques in his state and nationwide are being run by “radicals” and called for racial profiling of Muslims in airports.
TOLEDO ISLAMIC ACADEMY IN TOLEDO, OHIO
Vandals broke two school windows and spray-painted Nazi swastikas on doors, windows, trees, and a vehicle at the facility. “White power” was also sprayed on a vehicle. The vandalism was discovered when the school opened next morning.
MOSQUES AS TARGETS
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the US government and law enforcement agencies portrayed the Muslims as sleeper cells of Al Qaeda and a potential threat in the United States. During the last six years Bush Administration has succeeded in implanting the “Muslim threat to America” in the minds of ordinary citizens. On the sixth anniversary of 9/11 the mosques and observant Muslims again faced the fury of unruly mob.
The worshippers were attacked as they attended prayers Friday night at Masjid As-Sahaaba marking the month-long fast of Ramadan. According to the police report, the attackers shouted “derogatory statements” and then began throwing rocks, injuring one person in the back and smashing two windows on the front of the mosque.
FLORIDA MOSQUE HIT
A Tampa Florida mosque was targeted by the vandals who threw bricks through mosque windows early Sunday morning. Local police is investigating the incident.
On the sixth anniversary of the 9/1, a Tempe imam said three men entered the downtown Tempe mosque and questioned him about his practices before cursing him. The men entered the prayer hall on the second floor of the mosque at about 3:30 p.m. and asked the Imam what he hid in the room. The man was asked to remove his shoes before entering the prayer hall but the man repeated his question while the other two men with him laughed. He told them, “Whatever we are doing here is not your business.”
ATTACK ON MUSLIM BUSINESS WOMAN
Nassau police continued searching Monday for two men wanted in a Locust Valley nail salon robbery they say was motivated not only by greed, but also hate, including an attack on the Iranian-born business owner, slurs and anti-Muslim graffiti. The high-end Givan Nail and Skin Centre at The Plaza was robbed. The suspects made off with jewellery, police said, and $2,000, according to the owner, Zohreh Assemi Assemi.
SHOTS FIRED AT TEXAS MOSQUE
A shooting at a Southside mosque on Friday sent a large-calibre bullet through an interior hallway. The Imam of the Islamic Society of South Texas said he discovered broken glass above a rear door of the mosque at about 6:10 p.m. Friday.
ISRAEL IN NATO
A 2006 Heritage Foundation paper by Nile Gardiner, a former Thatcher aide suggested adding Israel to NATO. That step would “leave the mullahs with no illusions about the West’s determination to respond to Iran’s strategic threat to the region,” Gardiner wrote. “Any nuclear or conventional attack on Israel, be it direct or through proxies such as Hezbollah or other terrorist groups, would be met by a cataclysmic response from the West.”
Adding Israel to NATO has been opposed by France and some other European nations, largely because it would entangle the alliance in the Middle East.
NO SINKS FOR WUDU
The Rev. Jerry Hillenburg, pastor at Hope Baptist Church has called on Mayor to halt the installation of the floor-level sinks at the Indianapolis International Airport. The sinks, which would be installed near the parking lot where taxi drivers wait between runs, would aid Muslims in washing their feet in preparation for their ritual prayers. Many cab drivers serving the airport are Muslims. They currently wash their feet in regular sinks or by using bottles of water.
MICROWAVE POPCORN MAY CAUSE CANCER
Microwave popcorn contains a molecule that can give an enthusiastic muncher a dose of potentially deadly bronchiolitis obliterans shook me a little.
One of the persistent problems of industrial agriculture is the inappropriate use of antibiotics. It’s one thing to give antibiotics to individual animals, case by case, the way we treat humans. But it’s a common practice in the confinement hog industry to give antibiotics to the whole herd, to enhance growth and to fight off the risk of disease, which is increased by keeping so many animals in such close quarters. This is an ideal way to create organisms resistant to the drugs. That poses a risk to us all.
CAN POOR NATIONS RECOVER STOLEN ASSETS?
The World Bank and the United Nations announced that they were setting up a system to help developing nations recover assets stolen and sent abroad by corrupt leaders that amount to an estimated $40 billion a year. “There should be no safe haven for those who steal from the poor,” Robert B. Zoellick, the bank’s president, said in presenting the plan with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
SAUDI WOMEN CHALLENGE DRIVING BAN
Saudi women rely on relatives or chauffeurs to drive them around. A group of women in Saudi Arabia is for the first time to lobby the kingdom’s government for the right to drive cars. Members of the Committee of Demanders of Women’s Right to Drive Cars plan to deliver a petition to King Abdullah by Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s National Day. The demand is likely to be rejected, as conservatives argue if women are allowed to drive, they will be able to mix freely with men.
Expatriate Afghans in chat rooms are furious about a scene in the film The Kite Runner. The rape scene is explicit though the producers say it was filmed discreetly in deference to Afghan feelings. Mustafa Maroof, who was a casting agent and translator, told the BBC that because the rape scene was filmed in an indirect way, there probably would not be an adverse reaction. Producer Rebecca Yeldham is aware of the sensitivities now surfacing and says she is in touch with community organisations in Kabul.
The producers’ concerns are such that they have just decided not to release the film in Afghanistan – although DVD versions are bound to circulate there.