Articles of Interest, February 1st, 2008

Ann Coulter for Hillary Clinton?

  • Let us all repent and pray for God’s grace, the end is near!

Al Gore For Obama?

It feels official: Barack Obama has momentum. He won a resounding victory in South Carolina. He just posted another astonishing fundraising total. Gallup reports that he’s pulled to within four points of Hillary Clinton. And Ted Kennedy’s endorsement Monday had the feel of history about it. Even conservatives swooned. Only one endorsement could be bigger—and if Al Gore is going to pull the trigger, you have to think he’ll do so in the next 72 hours.

Yes, yes, I know. Gore has said he won’t endorse. He’s happily retired from politics now, a senior statesman, a big-shot investor. He’s won an Oscar and a Nobel. The cause he crusaded for has become central to the public conversation in a way even he could never have imagined.

All of these are good reasons to stay out of the fray. But they’re equally good reasons to jump into it. What would be the risk? There’s no chance that his endorsement would be followed by an embarrassing Dean-like collapse; Obama has already notched wins. Climate change won’t suddenly disappear from the agenda if he loses. And nobody’s going to take away the golden statuette.

  • This would be so big that words can’t adequately describe what it could mean.

Berkeley council tells Marines to leave

Hey-hey, ho-ho, the Marines in Berkeley have got to go. That’s the message from the Berkeley City Council, which voted 6-3 Tuesday night to tell the U.S. Marines that its Shattuck Avenue recruiting station “is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.”

In addition, the council voted to explore enforcing its law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against the Marines because of the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy. And it officially encouraged the women’s peace group Code Pink to impede the work of the Marines in the city by protesting in front of the station.

In a separate item, the council voted 8-1 to give Code Pink a designated parking space in front of the recruiting station once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week from noon to 4 p.m.

Councilman Gordon Wozniak opposed both items.

The Marines have been in Berkeley for a little more than a year, having moved from Alameda in December of 2006. For about the past four months, Code Pink has been protesting in front of the station.

“I believe in the Code Pink cause. The Marines don’t belong here, they shouldn’t have come here, and they should leave,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates after votes were cast.

A Marines representative did not respond to requests for comment.

  • This crap is pathetic.  I remember clearly September 12th 2001!  People all over the country were no all of a sudden patriotic and loved the military.  That’s why many like myself didn’t trust it as we knew it would be short lived.   Here we are again.  These people need to get their minds right, if you have a problem with foreign policy, take it out on those who make it.  Fortunate for these imbeciles, I’m not there on recruiting duty!

Airport found legitimate in troop treatment

The Oakland International Airport did not break any laws or regulations when it denied 200 Marines and soldiers access to the passenger terminal during a layover last year from Iraq to the troops’ home base in Hawaii, the Transportation Department says.

Calvin L. Scovell III, the department’s inspector general, blamed the mix-up on security concerns and a communication failure between the Defense Department and the Homeland Security Department.The contract to allow military layovers at the California airport “did not require that military personnel have access to the airport terminal; it only required that military personnel be allowed to deplane and stretch their legs on stops lasting over one hour,” said a report released yesterday to House lawmakers who requested an investigation into the matter.The Sept. 27 layover was the last stop for fuel and food, but the troops, who were returning from a tour in Iraq, were denied access to food and bathroom facilities.

A Marine reported the incident to Rep. John L. Mica, Florida Republican and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and said it “felt like being spit on.”

  • Another example of foolishness.  I bet if Al-Qaeda was outside they would want the troops there.  What the hell were the troops going to do…..uhhh go to the bathroom and eat!  Oh the humanity!

A True Story of a Prince among Slaves

In an effort to gain support for his children’s freedom from slavery, the newly freed American slave Abdul Rahman once wrote out what was supposed to be the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic.

Years later, it was discovered that he had actually written out Surah Al-Fatihah, the opening chapter of the Qur’an.

After forty years of crushing servitude in a strongly Christian land, this former African prince still remained faithful to Allah, with the memory of His words still in his heart and mind.

That incredible fortitude, enduring belief and nobility of character infuses the remarkable story of Abdul Rahman’s life, now brought to public television in a new documentary, “Prince Among Slaves,” by Unity Productions Foundation, producers of Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet and Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain.

“The theme is , the oppressor can never rob you of your dignity so long as you show forbearance,” said Co-Executive Producer Alex Kronemer of the film. “Remember this man, and remember your dignity: which is the message I would like people to come away with.”

Born in 1762, Abdul Rahman lived his first 26 years as royalty in the kingdom of Futa Jallon, in western Africa, where he served as a military commander in his father’s army. His extraordinary journey, which would test his character in the most surprising and often brutal ways, began when he was captured by rival warriors and sold to English slavers in 1788.

After surviving the harrowing 3,000-mile Middle Passage in chains on a slave ship, and several hundred more miles through the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi river, Abdul Rahman began his life as the slave of a young planter named Thomas Foster by running away. But after weeks of wandering in the wilderness -and after the search for him had been abandoned -he returned to his new master and pledged his loyalty.

“Someone brought up in Futa Jallon believes that… God knows and numbers every day of your life,” said historian Terry Alford, author of the 1977 book, “Prince Among Slaves,” upon which the documentary is based. “This fate, however cruel it seemed to him, was part of a divine plan. His resignation to the will of God was demanded.”

Over the next twenty years, the prince used his knowledge, skill and integrity to build the best life for himself possible in his situation, marrying an American-born slave, Isabella, raising nine children, and winning his master’s trust by his own loyalty and hard work. He helped to greatly increase Foster’s wealth and success as a farmer, and became known as the “African Prince” in the environs around Natchez, where he lived.

An astonishing chance meeting in 1807 showed once again the power of the will of God in Abdul Rahman’s life. At a Sunday market where the prince was allowed to sell a few of his own vegetables for his own money, a passerby recognized him as the son of the African chief who had saved his life over twenty years earlier. Dr. John Cox, an Irish ship’s surgeon, had been stranded sick in Africa in the late 1780’s and nursed back to health by Abdul Rahman’s family.

Cox immediately tried to secure the prince’s freedom, and continued to try until his death in 1816, after which his son took over his efforts. But Foster would not sell his loyal, hardworking slave for any price. Still, rising anti-slavery sentiment across the country made it possible for Abdul Rahman’s supporters to bolster his efforts. Cox had partnered with a local Natchez journalist to draw national attention to his story, which eventually led to the involvement of President John Quincy Adams and his Secretary of State Henry Clay. Because of the prince’s Arabic knowledge, the government believed he was Moroccan, and agreed to support his cause only to boost America’s relations with Morocco.

In 1828 Foster finally agreed to free only Abdul Rahman, with the stipulation that he return to Africa immediately and alone. But white supporters helped purchase Isabella’s freedom, and then Abdul Rahman defied Foster’s orders and set off on a tour across the northern United States, giving speeches and collecting donations to help free his children and grandchildren.

On his return trip to the White House, President Adams declined to aid Abdul Rahman after discovering he was not in fact Moroccan. That was when the prince turned to the American Colonization Society, a powerful group working to free slaves, resettle them in Africa and spread Christianity there.

Abdul Rahman sought the help of Thomas Gallaudet, head of the ACS’s Connecticut office. It was Gallaudet who, in his mistaken belief that the prince was a Christian, gave him an Arabic Bible and asked him to write the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic.

Although Abdul Rahman’s story did not end quite as he hoped, it still stands as a testament to his incredible resilience of spirit and commitment to his own values, as the documentary illustrates.

“Abdul Rahman survived the harsh ordeals of slavery through his love of family and his deep abiding faith,” said Co-Executive Producer Michael Wolfe. “The film depicts a universal story of perseverance and hope. Abdul [Rahman] endured unimaginable indignities and faced immeasurable odds, yet managed to survive his long fall from royalty with character and integrity intact.”

“Prince Among Slaves” airs at 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4 on PBS stations nationwide. Check local listings at www.pbs.org and visit www.princeamongslaves.tv

Ayesha Ahmad is a freelance writer working with the Unity Productions Foundation

Where are the Jewish American condemnations? 

For years now, I have heard demands that we Americans Palestinian descent condemn various military actions. And we do because innocents should never pay for the sins of their military forces and government. I’d like to know if the American Jewish community will ever condemn the intentional starvation and collective punishment of an entire Gazan population?

The silence has been deafening at this inhumanity. I’ve heard that Palestinians have invited these brutal measures after they elected Hamas during internationally-observed elections, since Hamas refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Setting aside that the elections were about corruption, Palestinians said nothing when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert invited Avigdor Leiberman to his cabinet. Leiberman, once praised by Jewish extremists for supporting the deportation of Palestinians inside Israel, is known as an avid racist.

There were no condemnations from the American Jewish community about this repulsive appointment despite their long history of persecution.

I’ve also heard that 1.5 million Palestinians are to be collectively punished for the acts of a few militants firing homemade rocket into Sderot. If our government believed that, all of us Michiganian’s would have been punished for the indirect role of the Michigan Militia during the Oklahoma City bombing in1995. But that is not what America stands for. People are not expected to pay for the acts of others.

What does the American Jewish community believe?

In February 22, 2006, Israel’s Gideon Levy of Haaretz reported on a disturbing story, “Everyone agreed on the need to impose an economic siege on the Palestinian Authority, and Weissglas, as usual, provided the punch line: “It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die,” the advisor joked, and the participants reportedly rolled with laughter.”

That’s supposed to be funny?

And now nearly two years later, their “joke” has become a tragic reality with tens of thousands of Palestinians having to forcibly destroy parts of a wall to stream into Egypt to get food, fuel, and other necessities. Where was the American Jewish condemnation for this siege? When Israel prevents Palestinians from getting vital medical care and preventing dozens of Palestinian university students from returning to their studies in Europe., where are the condemnations from the American Jewish community?

When Gazan children go to school hungry and unable to concentrate, where are the American Jewish condemnations?

According to the Defense for Children International (DCI), there were 385 children doing time in Israeli prisons as of July, 2007. The DCI also notes that, “amongst the denial of many other fundamental rights, children do not have the right to a parent, a responsible adult or a lawyer to be present during the interrogation process. On average, Palestinian children are detained before being taken to court from between 8 and 21 days. As with adults, under Military Order 378, a child can be detained and interrogated for up to 90 days without charge.”

Where are the American Jewish condemnations?

The list of human rights violations go on and on, whether they are noted by Amnesty International or Israel’s own B’tselem. And with so many people having access to information on the internet, there is little excuse to be unfamiliar with at least some of the eye-opening tragedies on the ground. It’s important to point out that The Israeli Coalition Against the Siege at least attempted to send a protest convoy to the Gaza border, on January 26, in coordination with the Palestinian Coalition. Parallel actions inside Gaza and in Ramallah, demanding a complete end to the blockade of Gaza, will also take place. Thankfully, there is more coordination between Palestinians and Israelis abroad. Rarely, here in the States.

I am often reminded of a conversation I observed between an Israeli and an American Jew years ago. The American Jew had expressed incredulity that another Israeli in the forum did something not particularly upstanding. The Israeli person responded that “We’re human. We have bad people, too”

I left the forum a short while later but the conversation stayed with me. I was appreciative that the Israeli was more realistic about humanity and utterly disappointed in the star-struck tone of the American Jew. If peace is ever going to prevail, American Jews are going to have to look honestly at the realities on the ground and start speaking up. Staying silent while children starve from an Israeli siege can only be interpreted as approval. Is that the message we’re supposed to get?

Sherri Muzher  is a contributing writer and journalist

West Embraces “Sham” Democracies 

CAIRO — Europe and the United States increasingly tolerate autocrats posing as democrats in countries such as Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria and Russia out of pure self-interest, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday, January 31.

“It’s now too easy for autocrats to get away with mounting a sham democracy,” Kenneth Roth, the HRW executive director, said in a press release.

“By allowing autocrats to pose as democrats, without demanding they uphold the civil and political rights that make democracy meaningful, the US, the EU and other influential democracies risk undermining human rights worldwide.”

The watchdog’s World Report 2008 said the US and Europe do not press governments on the key human rights issues that make democracy function such as a free press, peaceful assembly and a functioning civil society.

It separately reviewed rights situations in more than 75 countries, identifying many troubling cases such as atrocities in Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Sudan’s Darfur region.

The report voiced concern at closed societies or severe repression in Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Libya, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

It accused the Bush administration of failing to push for all governments to respect human rights.

“The Bush administration has spoken of its commitment to democracy abroad but often kept silent about the need for all governments to respect human rights.”

In 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, Bush advocated democracy in the Middle East in a series of bold statements and speeches.

But the reform tone died down as Washington was getting deeper and deeper into the Iraq quagmire, needing the help of repressive regimes in the region.

In 2005, Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice again played the democracy tune, vowing support for “the democratic aspirations of all people.”

Little has changed since then.

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