Articles of Interest, January 14th, 2008

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Drugs, race raised in Clinton-Obama fight

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) — Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson has waded into the Democratic presidential race on behalf of Sen. Hillary Clinton, leveling what appeared to be a criticism of Sen. Barack Obama’s admitted past drug use.

Johnson, a prominent Clinton supporter, made the remarks during an appearance Sunday at a church in South Carolina, the scene of a January 26 primary with a large share of African-American voters.

Clinton also accused Obama’s presidential campaign of distorting remarks she and her husband have made recently, which touched off concerns among some African-American voters.

Johnson said he has held previous fund-raisers for Obama but was unhappy with criticisms of the former first lady-turned-New York senator by Obama’s campaign.

“As an African American, I’m frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in his book,” Johnson said while campaigning at Columbia’s largely black Northminster Presbyterian Church.

In Obama’s recently reprinted 1995 book, “Dreams of My Father” the future presidential candidate writes he was once headed in the direction of a “junkie” and a “pothead.”

In December, Clinton personally apologized to Obama after her New Hampshire campaign co-chairman raised the issue, and the adviser resigned amid the controversy that followed.

In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, Johnson said his remarks referred “to Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else. Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect.”

The Clinton and Obama camps are locked in an increasingly heated battle for black voters in South Carolina, whose primary choices include the African-American senator and the wife of a man once nicknamed “the first black president.” Video Watch what race has to do with the Democratic nomination »

  • Let the mud slinging continue! This of course is another example of how big a factor race is in the election cycle, as well as exposing the widening rift between blacks generationally, as another tried and true older black supports Clinton versus a younger black population that doesn’t. This whole thing will expose many things about race in America. Stay tuned….

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Dubai declares national holiday for Bush visit

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — President Bush on Monday got a flavor of this cosmopolitan banking and business hub, whose glass skyscrapers and booming construction have turned it into the capital of Middle East bustle.

The soaring Persian Gulf city-state is Bush’s second stop in the seven-state United Arab Emirates federation, following his gentle lecture on democracy in Abu Dhabi and an opulent picnic at a desert horse camp Sunday.

The Dubai visit is part of a trip aimed at invigorating Mideast peace talks and keeping pressure on Iran.

Even before Bush touched down in Dubai, he had an impact. The government declared Monday a national holiday and shut down many main roads and bridges.

On a day of cultural diplomacy, Bush began with a stop at the historic home of the former rule of Dubai, now a museum loaded with photos and artifacts of the emirate’s history.

The president grinned and tapped his foot as a group of girls stepped rhythmically to Arabic music, their long hair swinging from shoulder to shoulder. The light rain that fell during Bush’s arrival did not dampen the mood, as rain is considered here to be good luck during the visit of a foreign leader.

Bush then had lunch with students of the Dubai School of Government, a research and teaching institution that focuses on public policy in the Arab world. The president and his hosts sat on cushions, set in a circle, their food in bowls on the carpeted floor before them.

“I’m most impressed with what I’ve seen here. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong, and equally importantly, the desire to make sure all aspects of society have hope and encouragement,” Bush later told a gathering of entrepreneurs and others affiliated with a young leaders’ group.

The session was held in a conference room high atop one of Dubai’s signature buildings, a luxury hotel shaped like a tall ship sail. The Burj Al Arab occupies its own manmade island.

“I also want you to understand something about America — that we respect you, we respect your religion and we want to work together for the sake of freedom and peace,” Bush told the group.

  • If you want to know what’s wrong with the Muslim world, here is a glaring example.

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Israeli PM: ‘All options’ legitimate to prevent nuclear Iran

JERUSALEM (AP) — Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a powerful parliamentary panel Monday that Israel rejects “no options” to block Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a meeting participant said.

The statement was the Israeli leader’s clearest indication yet that he is willing to use military force against Iran.

“Israel clearly will not reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran,” the meeting participant quoted Olmert as telling the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “All options that prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities are legitimate within the context of how to grapple with this matter.”

The meeting participant spoke on condition of anonymity because the session was closed.

Olmert addressed the panel days after discussing Iran’s nuclear ambitions in talks with President Bush in Jerusalem.

During that visit, Israeli officials disputed the recently released conclusions of a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

In Jerusalem, Bush declared that Iran remained “a threat to world peace,” but reasserted his commitment to trying to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program diplomatically. Video Watch Bush liken Iran to al Qaeda and the Taliban »

  • But of course, Olmert. The only country in the Middle East allowed to have nuclear anything is Israel!

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Germany’s Polar Bear Cub Quandary

Germany just can’t get enough of little polar bears, but its zookeepers seem unsure about how best to deal with them. Earlier this week the country’s tabloid press agonized over the deaths of two tiny Eisbär cubs in a Nuremberg zoo, who were presumably eaten by their inexperienced mother, Vilma, after zookeepers decided not to intervene. Then on Wednesday, a fresh round of photographs and videos revealed that a third cub at the same zoo had been “rescued” by zookeepers after another mother, Vera, showed signs of rejecting her offspring. “Sweet, sweeter, sweetest!” cooed the daily, Die Welt over photos of the still nameless rescued cub, who was born five weeks ago. The decision to intervene came after the death of the two other cubs triggered a broader debate in Germany about the ethics of allowing nature to take its course in the decidedly unnatural environment of a public zoo.

  • Should you allow nature to run it’s course, or should you intervene, is always an intriguing and interesting question. When pondered in depth, it can give great insight into the influence of mankind on the planet. Some would argue that just having the bears in the zoo in the first place in already intervening….

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No ‘confirmed sightings’ of suspect in Marine’s killing

JACKSONVILLE, North Carolina (CNN) — A city marshal in Shreveport, Louisiana, cast doubt Sunday on reported sightings there of a man charged with murder in the death of a pregnant Marine.

Authorities in North Carolina have charged Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean with murder in the death of a fellow Marine, Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20. She was eight months pregnant when last reported seen.

Sheriff Ed Brown of Onslow County, North Carolina, said Sunday that “several witnesses … validated” a report that Laurean was in a bus station in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Brown said someone who looked like the 5-foot, 9-inch, 160-pound suspect was seen either on a bus or getting off a bus that was heading to Texas, but cautioned, “That doesn’t mean he has to be tied to going that same direction.”

However, Chief Deputy Charlie Caldwell of the Shreveport Marshal’s Office told CNN affiliate KSLA-TV that he knew of no evidence that Laurean was in Louisiana.

“We haven’t had any confirmed sightings of [that] individual,” he said.

  • This has gotten out of hand. When this dishonorable turd is captured, the only punishment fitting is one of Marine tradition: Firing Squad.

Police: 11-Year-Old Boy Shot By Other Children

ATLANTA — An 11-year-old boy in south Atlanta was in critical condition Monday morning after being shot in the stomach by a group of children who had a gun.

Atlanta Police spokesman James Polite said the boy was inside a home on Oak Knoll Circle with several other children around 8 p.m. Sunday. Polite said police know several children were in the home unsupervised by adults. The children ranged in age from 11 to 13.Paramedics rushed the boy to the hospital. Police later found the boy’s mother.Police were still investigating Monday morning who fired the gun, whether the boy lives in the home and why the children were unsupervised. Officers have seized the gun to determine if it is stolen.

  • Contrary to what many believe, the real tragedy is not the gun, but the lack of parenting.

McCain Moves Into Lead; Obama Gains on Clinton

Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, January 14, 2008; Page A01

The first contests of the 2008 presidential campaign have led to a dramatic shake-up in public opinion nationally, with Sen. John McCain now leading the Republican field and Sen. Barack Obama all but erasing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s once-overwhelming advantage among Democrats, according to a new Washington PostABC News poll.

  • If true, what these polls show is that money and attack adds and/or speeches will not help get candidates their party nomination.

Robert L. Johnson, right, the founder of BET, greeted Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton at a rally in Columbia, S.C.

BET Founder Slams Obama in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, who is campaigning today in South Carolina with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, just made a suggestion that raised the specter of Barack Obama’s past drug use. He also compared Mr. Obama to Sidney Poitier, the black actor, in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”At a rally here for Mrs. Clinton at Columbia College, Mr. Johnson was defending recent comments that Mrs. Clinton made regarding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She did not mean to take any credit away from him, Mr. Johnson said, when she said that it took President Johnson to sign the civil rights legislation he fought for.

Dr. King had led a “moral crusade,” Mr. Johnson said, but such crusades have to be “written into law.”
“That is the way the legislative process works in this nation and that takes political leadership,” he said. “That’s all Hillary was saying.”

He then added: “And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –­ and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book –­ when they have been involved.”

Moments later, he added: “That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And I’m thinking, I’m thinking to myself, this ain’t a movie, Sidney. This is real life.”

A former Clinton campaign official in New Hampshire had to resign last month after he publicly suggested that Republicans would probably use Mr. Obama’s drug use in his youth, which he first wrote about in his memoirs, against him.

  • If black people are foolish enough to listen to this guy……Come on now, “BET” the scourge of the black community. Seriously, if Bob Johnson had the best interest of black people in mind, he would never have let his channel become the crap that it is. He would have viable programming that don’t destroy the minds of the black youth. The Clintons, will take support from any black person that will help pit blacks against blacks! Way to go Clinton, at least we know that you concur with what BET represents….Let’s make one thing clear, Obama represents what BET should be, for the founder of that filth to support Clinton who only cares about blacks when it will garner votes, shows just how much either truly care about blacks.

Michelle Obama: Husband No `Fairy Tale’

ATLANTA (AP) – Michelle Obama said Sunday her husband is the person America needs in the White House right now and criticized anyone who would dismiss his campaign as being built on illusion or fairy tale.

She said Barack Obama is the right candidate “not because of the color of his skin, but because of the quality and consistency of his character” and that postponing his bid for the White House was not an option.

“I know about the sense of doubt and fear about what the future holds, that keeps us hoping and waiting for a turn that will never come,” she said. “There are a lot of doubters and naysayers out there talking about, ‘I’m not sure America is ready for a black president.'”

But she declared that “we are more ready and prepared than we can ever know.”

Greeted by a standing ovation when she took the stage at the opening of the Trumpet Awards – an event celebrating black achievement – she went on to criticize anyone who would “dismiss this moment as an illusion, a fairy tale” in an obvious reference to comments made by Bill Clinton, the spouse of her husband’s main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, who used the term “fairy tale” to refer to Obama’s characterization of his position on the Iraq war.

Among that group, she included blacks who might be skeptical about whether Obama is electable. She pointed to his showing in Iowa and New Hampshire and said she is optimistic about his chances in the upcoming South Carolina Democratic primary – when the black vote will first factor into the election.

“We had a miraculous victory in Iowa,” Michelle Obama said. “Ain’t no black people in Iowa! Something big, something new is happening. Let’s build the future we all know is possible. Let’s show our kids that America is ready for Barack Obama right now.”

Michelle Obama’s remarks were also peppered with references to Coretta Scott King and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose 79th birthday is Tuesday.

  • What is wrong with black people? Obama is representative of the “Dream” Dr. King spoke of, but then again, the same black community is allowing the tragedy with his monument too…..

‘Islamic Jesus’ hits Iranian Movie Screens

A director who shares the ideas of Iran’s hardline president has produced what he says is the first film giving an Islamic view of Jesus Christ, in a bid to show the “common ground” between Muslims and Christians. Nader Talebzadeh sees his movie, “Jesus, the Spirit of God,” as an Islamic answer to Western productions like Mel Gibson’s 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ,” which he praised as admirable but quite simply “wrong”.

“Gibson’s film is a very good film. I mean that it is a well-crafted movie but the story is wrong — it was not like that,” he said, referring to two key differences: Islam sees Jesus as a prophet, not the son of God, and does not believe he was crucified.

Talebzadeh said he even went to Gibson’s mansion in Malibu, California, to show him his film. “But it was Sunday and the security at the gate received the film and the brochure and promised to deliver it,” though the Iranian never heard back.

Even in Iran, “Jesus, The Spirit of God” had a low-key reception, playing to moderate audiences in five Tehran cinemas during the holy month of Ramadan, in October.

The film, funded by state broadcasting, faded off the billboards but is far from dead, about to be recycled in a major 20 episode spin-off to be broadcast over state-run national television this year.

Talebzadeh insists it aims to bridge differences between Christianity and Islam, despite the stark divergence from Christian doctrine about Christ’s final hours on earth.

“It is fascinating for Christians to know that Islam gives such devotion to and has so much knowledge about Jesus,” Talebzadeh told AFP.

“By making this film I wanted to make a bridge between Christianity and Islam, to open the door for dialogue since there is much common ground between Islam and Christianity,” he said.

The director is also keen to emphasize the links between Jesus and one of the most important figures in Shiite Islam, the Imam Mahdi, said to have disappeared 12 centuries ago but whose “return” to earth has been a key tenet of the Ahmadinejad presidency.

  • Sweet Jesus! (pun intended) it never ends does it. Either way, this is interesting….

Huckabee Eschews Politics for Preaching

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) – Republican Mike Huckabee spoke from the pulpit Sunday, not as a politician but as the preacher he used to be, delivering a sermon on how merely being good isn’t enough to get into heaven.

Huckabee is vying for support from the Christian conservatives who dominate the GOP in South Carolina, which chooses a Republican presidential nominee on Saturday. A former Baptist minister and Arkansas governor, Huckabee is competing for their votes with fellow southerner Fred Thompson.

As in Iowa, where he won the Jan. 3 caucuses, Huckabee is rousing pastors to marshal their flocks for him. He pitches himself as someone who not only shares their views against abortion and gay marriage but who actually comes from their ranks.

On Sunday in South Carolina, Huckabee avoided politics entirely, instead preaching about humility and trusting in Jesus to open the gates of heaven.

  • Speaking of Jesus….(pun intended again) This has to be a “little” troubling don’t you think? A candidate for President, preaching during an nomination bid? I have great respect for Huckabee, as he is a man of great faith, but I believe there is some line crossing going on here, maybe it’s just me…

Islam Is Not the Source of Terrorism But Its Solution

During the last two decades in particular, the concept of “Islamic terror” has been often discussed. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on targets in New York and Washington which caused the death of tens of thousands of innocent civilians, this concept has once again returned to the top of the international agenda.

As Muslims, we completely condemn these attacks and offer our condolences to the American people.

In this article, we will explain that Islam is by no means the source of this violence and that violence has no place in Islam.

We strongly condemn the cruel terrorist acts which targeted the innocent people of the United States.

One point that should be stressed at the outset is that the identities of the perpetrators of the acts of terrorism which targeted the United States are not yet determined. There is a chance that these horrible attackers are linked to quite different centres. It may well be a communist organization harboring rage and hatred against American values, a fascist organization opposing federal administration or a secret faction in another state. Even though the hijackers have Muslim identities, the questions regarding by whom and for what purposes these people were used will probably remain to be a mystery.

The fact remains however, that even if the terrorists have Muslim identities, the terror they perpetrated cannot be labelled “Islamic terror”, just as it would not be called “Jewish terror” if the perpetrators were Jews or “Christian terror” if they were Christians.

That is because, as we will examine in the following pages, murdering innocent people in the name of religion is unacceptable. We need to keep in mind that, among those who were killed in Washington or New York, there were people who loved Jesus (Christians), Prophet Moses (Jews) and Muslims. According to Islam, murdering innocent people is a great sin that, unless forgiven by God, brings torment in Hell.

Thus, a religious person who has fear of God can never commit such an act.

In fact, the aggressors can commit such violence only with the intention of attacking religion itself. It may well be that they carried out this violence to present religion as evil in the eyes of people, to divorce people from religion and to generate hatred and reaction against pious people. Consequently, every attack having a “religious” facade on American citizens or other innocent people is actually an attack made against religion.

The major three Theistic religions command love, mercy and peace. Terror, on the other hand, is the opposite of religion; it is cruel, merciless and it demands bloodshed and misery. This being the case, while looking for the perpetrators of a terrorist act, its origins should be sought in disbelief rather than in religion. People with a fascist, communist, racist or materialist outlook on life should be suspected as potential perpetrators. The name or the identity of the triggerman is not important. If he can kill innocent people without blinking an eye, whatever his label is, then he is a disbeliever, not a believer. He is a murderer with no fear of God, whose main ambition is to shed blood and to give harm.

For this reason, “Islamic terror” is quite an erroneous concept which contradicts Islam’s message. That is because, the religion of Islam can by no means concur with terror. On the contrary, Muslims are responsible for preventing terrorist acts and bringing peace and justice to the world.

THE VALUES OF THE QUR’AN DEMANDS GOODNESS, JUSTICE AND PEACE

Terror, in its broadest sense, is violence committed against non-military targets for political purposes. To put it in another way, the targets of terror are entirely innocent civilians whose only crime is, in the eyes of terrorists, to represent “the other”.

This is an act bereft of any moral justification. This, as in the case of murders committed by Hitler or Stalin, is a crime committed against “mankind”.

The Qur’an is a Book revealed to people as a guide to the true path and in this Book, God commands man to adopt good morals. This morality is based upon concepts such as love, compassion, tolerance and mercy. God calls all people to Islamic morals through which compassion, mercy, peace and tolerance can be experienced all over the world:

You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you. (Surat al-Baqara :208)

The values of the Qur’an hold a Muslim responsible for treating all people, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, kindly and justly, protecting the needy and the innocent and preventing the “dissemination of mischief”. Mischief comprises all forms of anarchy and terror that remove security, comfort and peace. As God says in a verse, “God does not love mischief makers”. (Surat al-Qasas: 77)

Murdering a person for no reason is one of the most obvious examples of mischief. God repeats in the Qur’an a command He formerly revealed to Jews in the Old Testament thus:

So We decreed for the tribe of Israel that if someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. Our Messengers came to them with Clear Signs but even after that many of them committed outrages in the earth. (Surat al-Ma’ida: 32)

As the verse suggests, a person who kills even a single man, “unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth”, commits a crime as if he had murdered all mankind on earth.

This being the case, it is obvious what great sins are the murders, massacres and, attacks, popularly known as “suicide attacks”, committed by terrorists are. God informs us how this cruel face of terrorism will be punished in the hereafter in the following verse:

There are only grounds against those who wrong people and act as tyrants in the earth without any right to do so. Such people will have a painful punishment. (Surat ash-Shura: 42)

All these reveal that organizing acts of terror against innocent people is utterly against Islam and it is unlikely that any Muslim could ever commit such crime. On the contrary, Muslims are responsible for stopping these people, removing “mischief on earth” and bringing peace and security to all people all over the world. Being a Muslim cannot be reconciled with terror. Just the contrary, it is the solution and prevention of terror.

This being the case, how did the popular term “Islamic terror” emerge?

What has been examined so far reveals that it is not possible to talk about an “Islamic” terror. Indeed, a closer look at the characteristics of the perpetrators explicitly reveals that this terror is not a religious but a social phenomenon.

CRUSADERS: BARBARIANS WHO TRAMPLED THEIR OWN RELIGION

The true message of a religion or another system of belief can be at times exposed to distortion by its pseudo-adherents. The Crusaders, who constitute a dark episode of Christian history, set a good example of this.

Crusaders were European Christians who undertook the expeditions at the end of the 11th century to recover the Holy Land (the area around Palestine) from the Muslims. They set out with a so-called religious goal, yet they laid waste each acre of land they entered with fear and violence. They subjected civilians to mass executions and plundered many villages and towns.

Their conquest of Jerusalem, where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived under Islamic rule in peace, became the scene of immense bloodshed. They violently killed all Muslims and Jews. The Crusaders’ barbarism was so excessive that, during the Fourth Crusade, they plundered Istanbul, also a Christian city, and stole the golden objects from the churches.

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How The Arab Press Sees Bush Trip

If Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder, So Is News In The Expanding Universe Of Middle East Media

(CBS) This morning’s headline from President Bush’s trip to the Middle East: In a speech in Abu Dhabi, the President charged that Iran is threatening world security, and the United States and its Arab allies must join together to confront the danger. That’s OUR headline from the president’s address. How was it covered by the media over there? Mark Phillips has been looking at the world through their eyes.


The President of the United States arrives in the Middle East saying he’s trying to make peace one more time. At home, in a week of big political news, the story fights for airtime.But in the Middle East, on the growing galaxy of state and independent television channels, it was “all Bush, all the time.” And, depending what you were watching, you could have been forgiven for wondering if what you were seeing was the same event.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is news.

In Israel, the President’s visit was portrayed as a belated effort to shore up the tentative peace-making efforts of two weak leaders – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Within the Palestinian Territories, it was reported either as a push for statehood … or a cover-up for oppression.

And if you were watching Syrian TV as President Bush arrived in Israel, you could even have been confused as to where exactly he was.

“George Bush visits the Palestinian Occupied Territories,” they announced, where they said, “He ignored the daily aggression and terrorism of the occupying forces.”

Hisham Melhem works in the new growing world Arab media.

“The media landscape has changed radically in a revolutionary way,” he said. “Today we have more than 250 satellite television stations, we have 19 new radio stations in the last few years.

“We have a different media reality that is taking shape in the Arab world, and the powers-that-be cannot ignore it.”

In an office in Beirut, Lebanese analysts track the content of the editorial riot that media outlets in the Middle East have become. And there’s little mystery, Jihad Bitar says, where those conflicting voices are coming from.

“It really depends on the channel’s political backing. You know, in the Arab world, the main news channels, you have Al Jazeera, which is owned by the Qatari government. You have Al Arabiya, which is owned by Saudi interests. Big, big differences.”

  • It’s always nice to hear the other side of the story. If only this type of reporting was the norm.

Political ads make Muslims uneasy

Campaigns sound bigoted, some say

Victor Ghalib Begg has long been an active Republican. The 60-year-old furniture store owner from Bloomfield Hills campaigned hard for President George W. Bush and former Gov. John Engler, cutting them and other Republicans numerous fat checks over the years.

But as the race for president heats up, he has become disturbed by what he sees as growing anti-Muslim rhetoric from candidates.

“They’re all falling over each other to demonize Muslims and Islam,” Begg said. “They’re trying to appeal to the power of prejudice and hate. … And it’s brainless. Everybody knows we have a problem with terrorism. Let’s focus on how to deal with it, instead of focusing on a faith or a people.”

It’s a view shared by many in Michigan’s sizable Muslim and Arab-American communities. As the Republican candidates campaign in the state in advance of Tuesday’s primary, local Muslims are closely watching the race. But they feel under siege as candidates scramble to bolster their national security credentials with words Muslims say slander their religion.

In a recent TV ad for former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, images of angry Muslim men and women appear on screen with a voice-over warning of “a people perverted.”

Sen. John McCain of Arizona told the Free Press last month that “the challenge of radical Islam” is what drives him to run. And in a campaign video, McCain declares: “The transcendent issue of the 21st Century is the struggle against radical Islamic extremism. ”

Begg and others say they have no problems with talk of fighting terrorists, but argue that Republican candidates are consistently equating Islam with terrorism and crossing the line into bigotry. During last Thursday night’s debate in South Carolina, for example, McCain said:

“I’m not interested in trading with Al Qaeda. All they want to trade is burqas,” he quipped, referring to a type of dress some Muslim women wear.

Local Muslims say that criticizing Al Qaeda is legitimate, but wonder why he would make a snide remark. The remark was especially bothersome, some said, considering that McCain’s adopted daughter, Bridget McCain, is from a Muslim country, Bangladesh.

“Bashing Muslims excites certain kinds of bases,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab-American News in Dearborn.

McCain said Saturday after a rally in Clawson that he respects Islam. “I want to assure the Muslim community in Michigan and around this country that we respect an honorable religion,” he said.

Muslims are especially bothered by Giuliani, who has hired advisers they say are prejudiced against them.

Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suggested last year he probably would rule out a Muslim cabinet member. And some of the candidates repeatedly have used terms like “Islamo-fascism” during debates, which Muslims say is an absurd phrase that wrongly equates their religion with tyranny.

“Radical Islamic fascists have declared war on our country and our way of life,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says on his Web site. “They have sworn to annihilate each of us who believe in a free society, all in the name of a perversion of religion and an impersonal god.”

The tone this election season is a marked change from eight years ago, when Republican candidate George W. Bush actively courted the Muslim and Arab vote in Michigan.

Siblani, who once backed Bush, remembers watching with excitement when the future president said during a national debate with then-Vice President Al Gore that Arab Americans were being unfairly profiled.

Twenty years ago, some Republicans used TV ads that denigrated African Americans — such as the infamous Willie Horton ad run by former President George Bush.

Now, Muslims say, they are the scapegoats.

  • Surprise, Surprise, Surprise…..eerily familiar with another post of mine…..

Microsoft Tells Details of Office 2008 for Mac

Microsoft has announced pricing and availability of its latest Mac-compatible version of its Office suite of business tools.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is available from January 15 for £350 (US$685), including VAT, for the Standard Edition. A Home and Student Edition of Office 2008 for Mac costs $193.

Microsoft clams that Office 2008 for Mac is “more powerful and easier to use,” including a simplified new user interface and new tools such as Document Elements.

Office 2008 for Mac uses the same Open XML file formats, Office Art graphics engine, and other features as the Windows-based Office 2007. There are also “hundreds” of new customizable templates and suite-wide themes.

Word 2008 features a Publishing Layout View workspace that lets users create “incredibly rich documents” such as newsletters and brochures “without a degree in design.”

Excel 2008 has “vastly improved” charting capabilities to help users create and manipulate charts and graphs “easier than ever before.”

  • I just don’t get Microsoft’s strategy. Have they conceded defeat to Apple, and have decided to focus primarily on software?

Microsoft Switches Plan, Offers Vista SP1 Public Beta

In a quick turnabout, Microsoft Corp. made the newest tweak to Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) available to the public on Friday.Just two days earlier, the new version, dubbed Windows Vista SP1 RC Refresh, had been handed out to a group of about 15,000 testers who had been working with the service pack for several months. At the time, Microsoft said the refresh was “not available for public download.”

Friday, it changed its mind and posted instructions on its Web site for downloading and installing the new code using the Windows Update service.

According to the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 RC Refresh Public Availability Program, users must uninstall Vista SP1 Release Candidate — the earlier version offered to the general public a month ago — before attempting to download and install the refresh.

The refresh requires the same time-consuming, multiple-reboot process used by Vista SP1 RC in December. Also, users who have uninstalled that version must wait an hour before beginning the laborious update. “The installer service needs to clean up and complete the uninstall prior to installing the RC,” said instructions posted on the Web. “Failing to do this can result in installation errors when installing the RC version.”

Three prerequisite updates are also required before SP1 can be installed. Windows Update feeds them to the PC prior to downloading SP1, with a reboot after each. One of the prerequisites is a patch Microsoft mistakenly sent to all Vista users’ PCs last week when it meant to send it only to machines running Vista Enterprise or Vista Ultimate.

The company, which has slated Vista SP1 for final delivery this quarter, said as recently as Thursday that the update remains on track.

  • Now I must admit, I’m terrified. I hope SP1 doesn’t break my Vista!

Toyota makes 2010 plug-in hybrid pledge

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to test hundreds of plug-in hybrid vehicles with fleet and commercial customers worldwide by the end of 2010, company executives said Monday.

Plug-in hybrids can be recharged from a regular household outlet and generally have another power source on board to run the vehicles when the batteries become depleted.

The Japanese automaker is working on the necessary lithium-ion battery technology and is partnering with Panasonic to mass produce the batteries and produce its first plug-in, President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters in Detroit.

Watanabe also said he has encouraged his company’s engineers to meet stronger U.S. fuel economy standards before the deadline of 2020, though he gave no specific date.

Company officials said that when the plug-ins make it to showrooms depends a lot on their ability to mass produce the batteries and the usage by fleet and commercial customers.

Toyota has a sufficient lithium-ion battery in its laboratory and can produce them in small quantities, he said.

“There is a huge difference in producing a large volume,” Watanabe said.

Toyota also is planning to have powertrains ready to accommodate all fuel sources, whether it be diesel, electric or ethanol, he said.

  • I’m beginning to think American car manufacturers just don’t care anymore. If Toyota says they will be ready by 2010, Ford, GM, etc. should be ready by 2009…..

“Mullah Man”

I met a wonderful brother this past weekend at an event and he shared this hilarious series of videos with me. As promised, I’m sharing them with my fans. He said this was all in college fun that he and his friends got together to do. It proves that Muslims have a sense of humor too! 🙂

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