Iran president calls U.S. dollar ‘worthless’
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that OPEC’s members have expressed interest in converting their cash reserves into a currency other than the depreciating U.S. dollar, which he called a “worthless piece of paper.”
His comments at the end of a rare summit of OPEC heads of state exposed fissures within the 13-member cartel — especially after U.S. ally Saudi Arabia was reluctant to mention concerns about the falling dollar in the summit’s final declaration.
The hardline Iranian leader’s comments also highlighted the growing challenge that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, faces from Iran and its ally Venezuela within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“They get our oil and give us a worthless piece of paper,” Ahmadinejad told reporters after the close of the summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. He blamed U.S. President George W. Bush’s policies for the decline of the dollar and its negative effect on other countries.
Oil is priced in U.S. dollars on the world market, and the currency’s depreciation has concerned oil producers because it has contributed to rising crude prices and has eroded the value of their dollar reserves.
“All participating leaders showed an interest in changing their hard currency reserves to a credible hard currency,” Ahmadinejad said. “Some said producing countries should designate a single hard currency aside from the U.S. dollar … to form the basis of our oil trade.”
A secret scandal and dirty tricks: the campaign mud starts to fly
The mud is starting to fly in the 2008 presidential race, with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama trading shots over rumours of a secret scandal while Republican rivals of Mitt Romney have been forced to deny being behind an underhand “push-polling” attack on his Mormon faith. Just days after increasingly acrimonious exchanges in Thursday’s Democratic debate, agents of Mrs Clinton were quoted as saying that they had obtained unspecified “scandalous information” about Mr Obama. His campaign responded furiously over the weekend, challenging Mrs Clinton either to make the information public “or concede the truth that there is none”. Mr Obama, who is standing on a platform of changing Washington’s adversarial culture, accused the Democratic front-runner of using “Swift Boat” tactics of “innuendo and insinuation” similar to those deployed in the 2004 race when John Kerry’s Vietnam war record as a Swift Boat captain was smeared.
- Obama on the Clinton ‘secret pact of ambition’
LAS VEGAS — Barack Obama is starting to slip into his speeches a disputed account of a secret 20-year plan for both Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton to win the White House. “I’m not in this race to fulfill some long-held plan or because it was owed to me,” Obama told a gathering of Nevada Democrats after Thursday night’s Las Vegas debate.That was a veiled reference to an account by biographers Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta that the Clintons sealed a “secret pact of ambition” to both win the presidency, which has been vehemently denied by Clinton advisers.Asked if Obama was referring to the pact, a spokeswoman replied: “Barack Obama has not been mapping out his run for president from Washington for the last 20 years like some of his opponents.”
60 Years In Prison For 13-Year-Old Rapist
A teen who was 13 when he sodomized and assaulted a 6-year-old neighbor has been sentenced to 60 years in prison. Sherman Burnett was sentenced Thursday. He had earlier pleaded guilty after he was certified to stand trial as an adult. He was the youngest inmate ever housed at the St. Louis County jail.The victim was found more than 13 hours after she disappeared. It happened in November 2005.
Pioneering ‘heat wave’ gun may be used in Iraq
American commanders in Iraq are urging Pentagon chiefs to authorise the deployment of newly-developed heat wave guns to disperse angry crowds or violent rioters.But the plea for what senior army officers believe could prove a valuable alternative to traditional firepower in dangerous trouble-spots has so far gone unanswered.Washington fears a barrage of adverse publicity in the suspicious Muslim world and is concerned that critics will claim the invisible beam weapons were being used for torture. Now the US military directorate charged with developing non-lethal weapons, which has invested more than a decade developing the Active Denial System (ADS), has launched a concerted effort to convince both the public and its own bosses at the defence department of the device’s merits.
First-grader suspended over drawing
EAGLE POINT — A first-grader was suspended Tuesday for drawing a stick figure shooting another in the head with a gun and allegedly threatening students. Little Butte School officials sent 6-year-old Ryan Weathers home after receiving complaints from parents saying he threatened their children, said Douglas Weathers, the boy’s father.“He’s not a violent kid,” Weathers said. “He did not mean any harm.”School district officials declined to comment. State law bars them from discussing disciplinary actions against specific students.
Powell: Iran far from nuclear weapon
KUWAIT CITY – Iran is far from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and despite U.S. fears about its atomic intentions, an American military strike against the Islamic Republic is unlikely, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday. Tehran rejects claims by the United States and some European Union countries that its nuclear program is aimed at secretly producing weapons, insisting it is for peaceful purposes only.“I think Iran is a long way from having anything that could be anything like a nuclear weapon,” said Powell, who was invited by the National Bank of Kuwait to speak on economic opportunity and crisis in the Middle East.A recent report by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog found Iran has been generally truthful in the information it has provided the agency about aspects of its past nuclear activities.
- Cosby urges African-American teachers to stand up for kids
Bill Cosby acted as both a cheerleader and a scold Friday at a gathering of African-American educators in Nashville for an announcement of an initiative to take on education as a civil rights issue. The comedian, philanthropist, author and holder of a doctorate of education could bring the assembly of the National Alliance of Black School Educators to laughter, which he often did, with just the change in his tone of voice.
New concerns crack unity of religious right
LYNCHBURG, Va. – On Main Street of this Civil War-vintage city, known in recent years as the birthplace of the religious right, the only political sign bears the name of Ron Paul, the antiwar libertarian who is running for the Republican nomination.
more stories like this * Democrats: Bush hinders new Iraq course
* Bush tells Dems war denial is dangerous
* Obama, Edwards take on Clinton in debate
* Many Democrats opposed to war with Iran
* Edwards criticizes Republican Romney, Democrat Clinton on Iran
*At nearby Liberty University, the headquarters of the late founder of the Moral Majority, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, many students say the campus is divided between at least five Republican presidential candidates, including Paul, and some support for Democrats, as well.With just weeks remaining until primary season, leaders and foot soldiers of the religious right have come to a surprising conclusion: Their bloc of voters, considered by many to be the largest single constitu ency in the Republican Party, is not going to break for any one candidate in 2008.
- African-American films ride ‘Cosby effect’
Preston Whitmore didn’t exactly set out to make a statement. He didn’t think he was filling some void in Hollywood. When he penned the screenplay for “This Christmas,” his semi-autobiographical film about the trials and tribulations of a middle-class African-American family celebrating the holidays, he was simply writing about what he knew best. “When I sat down to write this, I was merely writing stories based on my family experience,” the director said. “When I sat down to write, I just wrote about the stories that happened to me.”These stories about family, while universal, rarely make it onto the big screen. More often, films that deal with the African-American experience focus on the hip-hop community, “gangsters” and violence. But the latest spate of movies depicting middle- to upper-middle-class life, including “This Christmas,” which opens nationwide Wednesday, is proving there is an audience for this type of fare.
Preaching across racial lines
MERIDIAN — With his waist- length dreadlocks gathered in a ponytail, Terrence Roberts opened a laptop on a coffee bar and turned to the dozen people scattered among tables in a warehouse-turned cafe. “Let’s take a moment to bow our heads together as we begin to open up today and worship together,” he said, signaling the start of Sunday service at New Wine Ministries.Visitors to New Wine can easily see how it differs from a traditional church. Worship starts around 1 p.m., or when enough people show up. Congregants may sip organic coffee during the service. And instead of a choir, churchgoers sing along with praise music videos projected on a wall.But one of the most innovative aspects of New Wine is not immediately evident. It’s the fact the church is a member of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, which for the last five years has been helping to launch churches led by black pastors.
“As far as Southern Baptists go, he really pushes the envelope of our image,” said David Alexander, church planting consultant for the Mississippi Baptist Convention, which is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Though several predominantly black churches have been affiliating with the Mississippi Baptist Convention for more than a decade, Alexander said the organization formed an intentional strategy in 2002 to help plant African-American congregations.
- Student confesses to nooses
CMU says incident is not related to delivery of anti-Muslim fliers to professors on campus. Central Michigan University students are struggling with how to respond to a fellow student’s weekend confession to leaving symbols of hate in a classroom.The university said the student, whom it did not identify, called police Saturday and took responsibility for four nooses found hanging Thursday in a classroom laboratory of CMU’s Engineering and Technology Building.The nooses, which some associate with the past lynching of African-Americans in the United States, followed the recent distribution of anti-Muslim pamphlets on campus. CMU President Mike Rao had offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information about the perpetrators. The FBI also joined local authorities in their investigation Friday, promising federal charges if the incident is proven to be a hate crime.
10-month-old girl’s death ruled homicide
The Allegheny County medical examiner yesterday determined that 10-month-old Daniyah Jackson died from multisystem organ failure precipitated by injuries to her abdomen and from a sexual assault. Her death has been ruled a homicide.Police are expected to charge Clinton Smith, 30, with homicide. Before the child died, he was charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person in the case. According to police, the girl’s mother, Latoya Jackson, left Daniyah in the care of Mr. Smith on Thursday morning at her Herman Street home in Troy Hill when she left for work. Paramedics were called to the home that evening.Police said the baby had suffered bruises on her face, arms and legs as well as a bite mark on her chest. Doctors told police she also had been sexually abused.Mr. Smith told police that he and his 2-year-old son were the only other people in the house that day, but that he didn’t know how the baby was injured.
- Still a democracy?
The government of Israel, with all due respect, does not represent the Jewish people but rather the citizens of the State of Israel who elected it. Israel is a sovereign state, which is still considered to be a democracy. In other words, it is a state for all of its citizens. Therefore it must not demand of the Palestinians to recognize it as a Jewish state, because in that way it would be declaring that any citizen whose mother is not Jewish or who did not convert with our strict Orthodox rabbis is a second-rate citizen, and his rights as a human being and a citizen are not ensured. The Jews are a people but not a nation, they are a religious ethnic group or as respected a tribe as may be. The Jewish citizens of Britain, including the Orthodox among them, are British, and that is what is written in their passports and in the British population registry. The same is true of France; the Jews there are French. In Canada, they are Canadians, and in Holland they are Dutch. They uphold their Jewish lives in their communities, since in democratic nations there is freedom of religion and freedom from religion. If they were to register the Jewish citizens in these countries as “Jewish” in the nationality category, we would accuse them of being anti-Semitic. AdvertisementThere is a difference between a people and a religion and a nationality, since nationality is decided by citizenship – a people as opposed to a nation – and therefore citizenship is nationality. The affinity of a citizen to the state is based on citizenship and not on religion; it is not based on the tribe nor on the heritage of the genes of the mother. If among the cabinet ministers there are those who feel that they are more Jewish than Israeli, that is their right, and they can uphold all the religious precepts and pray all the prayers. But that is not relevant to the ties between the State of Israel and its neighbors.
My Islam: Freedom and Responsibility
Muslims in America today seem to have lost the right to be individuals. We are treated as a collectivity – responsible as a group for any crime committed by another Muslim or done in the name of Islam. Shortly after 9/11, I wrote an article stating that Muslims have the greatest obligation to reject terrorism and political violence committed in the name of Islam. I still believe this is the case. Islam does not have a centralized authority; there is no universally recognized council of scholars or clerics who speak on behalf of all Muslims.With freedom from clerical authority, however, comes the responsibility to engage in the debate over the true meaning of Islam. Islamic law states that silence is an indication of consent. If Muslims do not reject the perverted interpretations of the Qur’an proffered by terrorists, they will have shirked their responsibility to define the real meaning of Islam.At the same time, clarifying our own position does not mean that we have to “speak out” against each and every statement issued by terrorists or every criminal action taken by groups claiming to represent Muslim interests. Once we have defined what we stand for, and what we stand against, then any particular action that violates those guidelines are clearly rejected by us. American Muslim organizations have made extraordinary efforts to publicize their rejection of terrorism and extremism in the name of Islam: we have organized petitions, written fatwas and position papers, distributed brochures, held conferences, organized press briefings, published op-eds, spoken on the radio and television.
- Iran considers Saudi plan to end nuclear impasse
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has for the first time signalled that Iran may be interested in a facesaving way out of the international crisis triggered by its suspected nuclear weapons programme. The President said in Riyadh yesterday that he would discuss Saudi proposals for a consortium for uranium enrichment in a neutral third country such as Switzerland, which represents US interests in Tehran. The Iranian leadership had rejected similar Russian proposals.Mr Ahmadinejad did not reject the Saudi plan out of hand, telling Dow Jones newswires: “We will be talking with our [Arab] friends” about the scheme endorsed by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. He did not comment further.
- Islam Awareness Week Promotes Understanding
Last week, the Muslim Student Union of UC Irvine held several events to showcase Islam Awareness Week. In addition to an outdoor board where students could write their perceptions about the role of women in Islam, and a Dawah table with informational packets devoted to different topics, the MSU invited several speakers to discuss different topics pertaining to Islam. Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist who snuck into Afghanistan to cover the war after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, recounted her capture by the Taliban and her conversion to Islam in a lecture entitled “Behind Enemy Lines: The Story of a Taliban Captive” on Tuesday night at Doheny Beach CD in the Student Center.After entering a small village near Jalalabad in Afghanistan, Ridley experienced a “hospitality that was only outstripped by curiosity.” Ridley explained that when the locals found out she was a foreigner, instead of retreating, they spoke with her about their experiences post-9/11. Many did not understand what those attacks had to do with Afghanistan, as the hijackers were mostly from Saudi Arabia.Ridley described herself as having many of the typical Western stereotypes of Muslim women. However, after speaking with a few Afghan women, she quickly found that they were not “quiet Afghan women hiding,” but “larger than life” and very well educated.
A Taliban soldier discovered Ridley as she was attempting to sneak out of Afghanistan via a smuggling route. Her banned camera fell out of her burqa, and she was taken into custody. She refused to eat for six days because she was not allowed to telephone home. She decided that she would be “the prisoner from hell, cursing, spitting and yelling” at her captors.