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Dr. Fawzia’s Corner


Judge lets 14 more plaintiffs join mosque lawsuit

16 Pages

Graft is good when it’s in the garden

Charles E. Carlson’s Corner

& Illinois

(602) 321- 5101

Issue No. 18

Taraq ramdan visted Tucson and spoke at the U of A




April 21 - May 5 2011

2nd Sikh man dies after attack in Northern Calif.


Iranian girl attacked in UK over hijab

“Not the first incident in America “


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — A Rutherford County judge has granted a motion that allows 14 new plaintiffs to join a lawsuit seeking to stop construction of a new mosque. The motion was among several that Chancellor Robert Corlew heard Wednesday, including one to dismiss a majority of claims against Rutherford County commissioners and employees. There was no dispute that the now 17 plaintiffs are allowed to sue over whether proper public notice was given of the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission meeting last May, where the site plan for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was approved.

NY senators clash over panel testimony on Muslims

Syeeda Hussaini loaded up the car and drove less than a mile to Mattress Firm. Her husband, Mohammad, encouraged her to lie on different beds to see which one felt best. She said the store manager approached, but oddly didn’t want to help. He told the family that he wouldn’t sell them a mattress for security reasons, she said. the manager told her she needed to show her face for service. Mohammad, a pathology resident at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, tried to explain that his wife dressed this way to be modest, much like NEW YORK (AP) — A legislative hearing on New Catholic nuns. But the manager stomped off, they say. York’s readiness for another terrorist attack degenerated into name-calling and bruised feelings Friday after a state senator solicited testimony from two ac‫ﻟﺸﺤﻦ ﺑﻀﺎﺋﻌﻜﻢ اﱃ أي ﻣﻜﺎن ﰲ اﻟﻌﺎﻢﻟ‬ tivists known for their hard line on Islam and opposi‫أﺳﻌﺎر ﻣﺨﻔﻀﺔ اﱃ ﺑﺮﻴوت واﻟﻌﻘﺒﺔ‬ tion to the construction of new mosques in the United States. Sen. Greg Ball, a Hudson Valley Republican, Special Rates To Beirut & Aqaba angered some Muslims and civil liberties groups by inviting Nonie Darwish and Frank Gaffney to discuss 2547 S Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92707 “the culture of jihad,” or Muslim holy war, at a dayFax. (714) 550 - 1198 long hearing that was otherwise devoted to the nuts Tel. (714) 550 - 1154 and bolts of homeland security preparedness.


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Entertainment and sports Christie’s to auction Liz Taylor jewelry, art NEW YORK (AP) — Christie’s auction house says it has reached an agreement with Elizabeth Taylor’s family to sell her prized jewelry collection, as well as some of her art, clothing and other memorabilia. Christie’s says it is planning a series of auctions that will be announced later this spring. Taylor died last month at age 79. The screen star was known for her passion for opulent diamonds. She published a book in 2003 entitled, “Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry,” and her collection has included some of the world’s most expensive stones.

Prince William, Britain’s Sea King of the skies

ANGLESEY, Wales (AP) — Dense fog curled around the snowcapped Welsh mountains and fierce winds rattled the cockpit of the military rescue helicopter. At the controls, plotting a daring path to a stranded heart attack victim, was a newly engaged air force co-pilot. Prince William — or Flight Lt. Wales, as he is known to his Royal Air Force colleagues — guided his Sea King aircraft through the gloom, swooping low so hiker Greg Watkins could be winched from the hillside and raced to a hospital. The mission last November — two days after the prince and Kate Middleton announced plans to marry — is typical of the often-risky rescues performed by the king-to-be in his unlikely day job: patrolling Britain’s coast with a military search squadron. “The weather was particularly severe on that particular day, with the visibility reduced down to the ground. The crew was looking to Flight Lt. Wales — to William — to navigate us up the side of the mountain,” said Sgt. Keith Best, a paramedic and winchman on William’s team. “Time really was critical, and he did his job impeccably well,” said Best. “The guy is still alive because of the efforts of Flight Lt. Wales.” Britain’s monarchy has an enduring connection to the armed forces — William is part of the fourth successive generation to have served as a pilot. His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, is the military’s ceremonial chief and joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II, reaching the rank of junior commander and training as a driver. Yet the reality of modern conflicts — complete with battlefield kidnappings documented in grisly Internet videos — means that William’s ambitions of serving on the frontline will almost certainly be unfulfilled. The 28-year-old has repeatedly aired his frustration that military chiefs have barred him from serving in Afghanistan, dismissing as “hyped up” the belief that — as a future king — he would be a prime target for insurgents. “It’s just a pity I didn’t get to Afghanistan,” William said last year. “I still have hope and faith and a real determination to go out there.” The last monarch to eyeball the enemy in conflict was his great-grandfather King George VI, who fought in the Battle of Jutland during World War I. George, however, was not destined for the throne, only later thrust into the role following his elder brother Edward’s abdication. “While Prince William, I know, would love to have had the opportunity to serve in Afghanistan, there is no doubt that there are risks that surface out there,” Gen. David Richards, the head of the British military, said at the time. Though Prince William did make a brief stop in 2008 at an air base in Kandahar, it is younger brother Prince Harry, third in line to the throne, who has joined British personnel in clashes against the Taliban. Harry served a 10-week tour in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province as a battlefield air controller, but was abruptly removed in February 2008 after a media blackout was breached and the prince’s safety was judged to be in jeopardy.

US video game sales fell 4 percent in March SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — U.S. retail sales of video game systems, games and accessories fell 4 percent in March as game software sales declined, according to new data from an industry group.Market researcher NPD Group said Thursday that consumers spent $1.47 billion on games, consoles, portable devices and accessories during March. This compares with sales of $1.53 billion in March 2010. When including sales of PC games, March sales totaled $1.53 billion, which was still a 4 percent drop from $1.58 billion last year. Sales of gaming hardware such as Nintendo Co.’s hand-held Nintendo 3DS climbed 12 percent to $494.5 million from $440.6 million last year. NPD analyst Anita Frazier said the Nintendo DS was the top system, selling about 100,000 more units than the Nintendo 3DS, which was released stateside on March 27. Frazier added that sales of Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 console and PlayStation Portable handheld gaming device and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 console rose year over year. The PSP in particular was helped by a $40 price drop at the start of the month, she said. Sales of game software — physical games for consoles and portable players — dropped 16 percent. NPD does not include game downloads or online games in its monthly sales data, so the numbers can show a decline even if more people are playing those. On the list of top-selling games — which includes games for consoles, portable players and PCs — Nintendo’s “Pokemon White Version” took the No. 1 spot in March, and “Pokemon Black Version” took the No. 2 spot (according to Nintendo, the two sold more than 2.5 million games total). “Homefront” from THQ came in third. Frazier noted that last March included several popular new games such as “Final Fantasy XIII,” “Battlefield: Bad Company 2” and “God of War 3” — each of which sold more than a million units that month. Sales of gaming accessories, which includes products such as Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller, rose 13 percent to $241.3 million. The month’s top accessory was the $20 PS3 network card, Frazier said. Such cards can be used to download things such as games, movies or new game content.

April 21 - May 5 , 2011


Tony Shalhoub gets award, talks at Arab museum

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — “Monk” TV series star Tony Shalhoub is in Michigan to get an award and give an oral history at the Arab American National Museum. On Saturday, Shalhoub is to receive the Arab American of the Year Award at the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services’ 40th Anniversary Dinner in Detroit. Shalhoub will share the award — and stage — with George Joulwan, a retired Army general who was the top NATO commander in Europe from 1993-97. Shalhoub also plans to record an oral history for the Dearborn-based Arab American museum’s free educational page on iTunes U. Shalhoub earned four straight Emmy nominations and three awards for his work on “Monk.”

Michael Jackson’s mom, estate, clash over charity LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Heal the world. Make it a better place for you and for me.” So sang Michael Jackson in his mega-selling 1992 anthem for change. Now the singer’s estate and Jackson’s mother could use a little healing themselves as they fight each other over the non-profit Heal the World Foundation, which claims it’s the successor to the pop star’s defunct charity inspired by the song. At stake in the skirmish are trademarks worth millions of dollars and a piece of Jackson’s legacy. The dispute, which is playing out in a federal court in Los Angeles, is the latest example of the sometimes strained relationship between Jackson’s family and his estate, which has already earned hundreds of millions of dollars. But the fight against the new incarnation of the Heal the World Foundation has also raised questions about which causes the singer would want to focus on if he hadn’t abandoned his charity to fight off allegations of child sexual abuse. His mother, Katherine Jackson, left little doubt about her sentiments in a recent court filing: “It is not my desire, nor would it be the desire of my son Michael, to continue this lawsuit against Heal the World Foundation.” Her attorney, Perry R. Sanders Jr., said Friday that Katherine Jackson supports the charity but hopes that a more civil relationship between her and the estate can be restored. Sanders was hired late Thursday after Katherine Jackson’s former attorney publicly cast doubts about the authenticity of her filing. “Bottom line — I am going to do anything in my power to try to tone down the rhetoric that has happened to date to the extent possible,” Sanders said. Last year, Jackson’s mother and father joined Heal the World’s board of directors and placed their three grandchildren on a youth board. Jackson’s mother and his children were prominently featured on a recent “Good Morning America” story that also included footage of Heal the World giving a $10,000 donation to a shelter in Los Angeles. It was a high-profile plug for an entity that according to tax filings reviewed by The Associated Press has done little fundraising or charitable giving, but has fought to stake its claim to several Jackson-related trademarks and likeness rights that the singer’s estate maintains it should own. Jackson’s estate wrote in a statement to the AP that the new Heal the World Foundation “has no relations to Michael Jackson’s charity that touched so many lives before becoming inactive several years before Michael’s death.” The estate did not say whether Katherine Jackson’s involvement with the charity was costing the estate money, but said the “costs would be far greater if the estate did nothing to protect (Michael Jackson’s) name and his trademarks because others would be profiting from intellectual property that rightfully belongs to Michael’s children.” The foundation’s director, Melissa Johnson, claims the pop singer handed her control of Heal the World through intermediaries in 2005, when he was defending himself against child molestation accusations. Despite never having personally met the singer, Johnson’s attorneys claim she has the right to manage the charity, use various trademarks and that the permission now comes from the Jackson family itself.

Glenn Beck’s Fox show ending

NEW YORK (AP) — Glenn Beck later this year will end his Fox News Channel talk show, which has sunk in the ratings and has suffered from an advertiser boycott. Fox and Beck’s company, Mercury Radio Arts, said Wednesday they will stay in business creating other projects for Fox television and digital, starting with some documentaries Beck is preparing. Beck was a quick burn on Fox News Channel. Almost immediately after joining the network in January 2009, he doubled the ratings at his afternoon time slot. Fans found his conservative populism entertaining, while Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert described Beck’s “crank up the crazy and rip off the knob” moments. He was popular with tea party activists and drew thousands of people to the National Mall in Washington last August for a “restoring honor” rally. Yet some of his statements were getting him in trouble, and critics appealed to advertisers to boycott his show last summer after he said President Barack Obama had “a deep-seated hatred for white people.” Beck said that he went to Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman and CEO, in January to discuss ways they could continue to work together without the daily show. “Half of the headlines say he’s been canceled,” Ailes said. “The other half say he quit. We’re pretty happy with both of them.” Beck said he noted on his show Tuesday “how many times can I tell the (George) Soros story,” referring to the liberal donor Beck has made a target of attacks. “We felt Glenn brought additional information, a unique perspective, a certain amount of passion and insight to the channel and he did,” Ailes said. “But that story of what’s going on and why America is in trouble today, I think he told that story as well as could be told. Whether you can just keep telling that story or not ... we’re not so sure.” Beck, who outlined on Wednesday’s show his reasons for believing that “we’re heading into deep and treacherous waters,” told his viewers at the end of the show that his Fox talk show would conclude. “I will continue to tell the story and I will be showing other ways for us to connect,” he said. More than 400 Fox advertisers told the company they did not want their commercials on Beck’s show. Beck’s advertisers were dominated by financial services firms, many touting gold as an investment. Ailes dismissed the financial impact of the boycott but expressed some frustration with it. “Advertisers who get weakkneed because some idiot on a blog site writes to them and says we need to stifle speech, I get a little frustrated by that,” he said. One of Beck’s most prominent critics — David Brock, founder of the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America — said that “the only surprise is that it took Fox News months to reach this decision.” “Fox News Channel clearly understands that Beck’s increasingly erratic behavior is a liability to their ratings and their bottom line, and we are glad to see them take this action,” said James Rucker, executive director of, which organized the advertiser boycott.Beck was a lightning rod for other critics, as well. The Jewish Funds for Justice organized a petition drive last fall to get Beck fired for what it called his misuse of Nazis and the Holocaust phrases against political opponents. Viewers had begun turning away.



April 21 - May 5 , 2011

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April 21 - May 5 , 2011

A Christ Follower Would Not Burn a Quran, a Neo-Christian Would A certain NeoChristian, who I will call “Pastor burn,” made himself famous with the US Media by destroying a Qur’an in a church setting that he called a “trial.” The event was witnessed by so few that Pastor burn could not even make a respectable photo-op out of the non-event. But a Muslim professing organization, Truth TV, made it for him! Word of what Pastor burn did spread around the world in a heartbeat, propelled by the rumor mongering US Media, and riots followed in Afghanistan and other Islamic countries, resulting in 30 deaths. Pastor burn takes no responsibility for his acts because he, as a Neo-Christian, regards those who were killed as God’s enemies. Seven were foreign employees of the United Nations. Afghan President Hamid Karzai fanned the flames by denouncing the Qur’an burning and has called on the U.S. government to prosecute those responsible for their actions. Imam Muhammad Musri

of the Islamic Society of Central Florida in Orlando, did his best to dissuade Pastor burn from Qur’an burning, and attributes the deaths that followed to a lack of understanding in far Eastern countries, where he said, ordinary people mistook the “trial” to be one conducted by the US government in a real court. But who is really responsible? In fact, the agitation of Muslims world wide is part of US war policy since at least January 19, 1991, when operation Desert Storm made war on Islam an unofficial policy of the US Government, as this writer noted at the time. US war policy is based on a perceived need for a war-based economy to keep the dollar afloat and employment clinging to the growth of the war industry. Witness the recent press release from the Saudi Arabian government that it will buy $60 billion of US war weapons in the coming year from US companies, with part of its oil largess. Surely my readers can see that it is wars, and threats of war, that have driven crude oil to over $110 per barrel, and in gratitude for being allowed to stay in power, the Oil Sheiks of Saudi Arabia and other favored countries reward the US government by buying armaments. Moammar Gadhafi of Libya is no longer one of those favored Oil Sheiks, nor are Iran’s leaders. M K Bhadrakumar stated in a recent Asia Times story, Saudi money wins Obama’s mind, “Washington will allow Saudi Arabia

I have demonstrated in an earlier article short cuts for hints on the multiplication facts of number between 6 and 9, as well as one only for the table of nine. Since these hints are literally at the tip of your fingers, children can check them anywhere, anytime. Thankfully, a number of books have been published on how to memorize addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. My favorite is a series called “Math It”, which includes “Add It”, “Timezit”, and so on. Some schools today even make basic fact memorization a fun exercise, so much so they call the teachers Math coaches. Students shout out facts the way they would a cheer at a ball game. No wonder these schools are particularly successful at teaching math. Among all the math curricula in the world, one has been

standing out for the past 15 years, and that is the Singaporean national curriculum for Math. One of the main reasons for its success is the simple fact that mental math is taught very early, from Kindergarten and First Grade onwards. The same reason is also the reason why it is difficult to implement in the US: Most lower elementary math teachers are not able to do mental math. But that’s not what I’m trying to focus on today. The mental math that the Singaporean curriculum promotes is based on the breaking down of 10 and 5, what they call “number bonds”. For example, 10 is 9 and 1, 8 and 2, 7 and 3, 6 and 4, and 5 and 5. This, in turn, is the basis for the ancient Chinese mechanical calculator called the abacus. The abacus is a very simple little contraption where one vertical row stands for a place value. The lower beads are single units, while the upper bead stands for 5 units. Up to 50 years ago, most shopkeepers in East Asia still used the abacus to tally customers’ total amount due. As recently as 20 years ago, abacus was still a part of the Math curriculum in East Asia. I believe that is the main reason why East Asians are known to be excellent in Math. They master the four basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication

Charles E. Carlson

to have a free hand to tackle the movements for democratic reforms in the region and forestall any regime changes in the region. Accordingly, the Saudis have done everything possible to portray the democracy movement in Bahrain, which has serious potential to overthrow the regime in Manama and trigger a domino effect, in starkly sectarian terms as an issue of Shi’ite empowerment. The Saudi calculation by stoking up the latent fires of sectarian prejudices in the Sunni mind is to somehow prevent a unified, pan-Arab democracy movement from taking shape.” Any ongoing government propaganda program requires grass roots support. The primary grass roots, immoral, supporters of serial wars in the Middle East are some 70 million Neo-Christians, who also call themselves Judeo-Christians or more radically, Christian Zionists. They say they believe they follow Jesus, the peacemaker, but fail to heed His words or acts of peace. Neo-Christians are not the other guy’s family. Many of us have close friends, business associates, or family. I myself was once influenced by it. My readers, Christ followers and Muslims, meet Neo-Chrsitians every day and have a chance to influence them. Neo-Christianity by whatever name, is only three generations old, it is one of the youngest and largest religions making up 24% of the US population, some 70 million persons according to impar-

Memorization in Math

Visitors to my garden this time of year are often astonished to see me lopping the tops off some of my trees. No, I’m not the Henry VIII of horticulture, chopping the head off any tree that no longer meets my fancy. OK, I am actually lopping the head off any tree that doesn’t meet my fancy. I part ways with Ol’ Henry, though, because first, lopping the head off a tree does not kill it, and second, I graft on a new head. A few years after this seemingly brutal operation, the tree looks as chipper as ever. And it has a head that I like better — or else off it comes again. I do this type of grafting, called topworking, mostly on my apple trees, but it could be applied to many other kinds of fruit or ornamental trees. For instance, if you don’t like the growth habit of your red maple or the leaf shape of your Japanese maple, you can

tial polls. We have reason to think it is even larger, with power that extends far beyond its numbers. Pastor burn is a Neo-Christian by belief. Most of the growth of Judeo-Christianity occurred since 1967 when Oxford University Press rewrote the Scofield Reference Bible. The Jewish political state of Israel was then added into this bible as a supposed party to God’s plan. Hundreds of pages of additional footnote sub-headings were added and interspersed to create the illusion that political Israel made biblical sense. Tragically, this has lead Judeo-Christians to be as much in scriptural error as were the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisitors, and the perpetrators of the Salem Witch Trials. We have defined it as the belief that Israel (not Jesus) it the fulfillment of biblical prophesy. This author has made a mission of exposing NeoChristianity. Both Pastor burn and Truth TV enjoy tax exempt status granted by the US government, known as 501(c)3 status. Those hoping to find and spread the elusive “truth” in America should be aware of its consequences. This writer, and his organization, We Hold These Truths, have never accepted tax exempt status and contributions to us are not tax deductible. We, like Al Mashraq, find it easer to tell the truth because we have not accepted tax favors from the government we criticize.

Dr. Fawzia Mai Tung and division early in childhood and never look back. Their minds are now free to tackle fractions, complicated word problems, algebra, geometry and so on. By pushing beads to represent numbers, students can add, subtract, multiply and divide very large numbers, including decimals. The next step is to now give a “paper abacus” to the students, and ask them to push imaginary beads on the paper. Since only 4 lower beads and 1 upper bead maximum can be moved at any one time, visualizing and memorizing their position is a cinch. The “paper abacus” is then taken away, and students are trained to push totally imaginary beads in the air. The result is a “virtual calculator” imprinted on the child’s mind. I have watched the national finals of mental abacus competitions in Taiwan. It is quite a sight to behold. Thousands of adults in a hall watching three little five-year-olds on stage, standing in front of a table with a large poster-size board and a marker in the right hand. The announcer shouts out, “OK, Section 4. Ten numbers of 4 digits each, mixed addition and subtraction! Ready… Start! 7,428, plus, 4206, minus, 2,471, plus, 3092, minus, 5310, etc etc… answer?” And all this at the speed of a salesman at a fish market. The very minute

Graft is good _ when it’s in the garden just lop back the head and change it. Same goes for the flower color of a crab apple or flowering cherry. Each time I lop back one of my apple trees, I can make that tree into any one of the more than 5,000 other varieties of apple. Mostly, you can only graft the same kinds of plants together — any variety of apple on an apple trunk, cherry on cherry, maple on maple, etc. GATHER YOUR STEMS Before you can topwork any tree, you have to have stems, called scions, of the variety to which you want to change the plant. You might get scions from a neighbor’s or friend’s tree that you have admired. I often get scions for grafting mailed to me from enthusiasts elsewhere across our fruited plain, or from government institutions. Healthy portions of last year’s growth, each cut into pieces a foot or so long, are ideal to become scions. They can be collected anytime in winter or early spring, as long as stems are showing no signs of growth and temperatures are above freezing. Once you have scions in hand, put them in the refrigerator. Wrap them well in plastic, perhaps with a damp cloth to keep them plump with moisture. A FEW CUTS AND YOU’RE FINISHED The ideal time for topworking is when buds


on the trunk are just beginning to grow; the scions are still under refrigeration in their winter sleep. This way, the scion will have time to knit to the lopped-back trunk and hook up its plumbing before its buds expand into thirsty new shoots. The actual grafting operation is simple, and there are a few ways to go about it. The method I’ll describe is the cleft graft, practiced by gardeners for thousands of years and best done on trunks 1 to 4 inches across. Wedge grafting and bark grafting are among other methods of topworking, described in such books as “The Grafter’s Handbook” by R. J. Garner (Sterling Publishing, 1993) and “Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices” by H. Hartmann, D. Kester, F. Davies and R. Geneve (Prentice-Hall, 2010), and are useful with trunks even a foot across. After lopping off the tree’s head and squaring off the top of the trunk with a clean saw cut, begin the cleft graft by hammering the blade of a heavy knife right down into the stub to form a 2- or 3-inch split. Remove the blade and let the split close up. Next, cut two scions to fit into the split in the trunk. Do this by slicing wood from the bottom 2 to 3 inches on either side of each scion, making that bottom portion wedgeshaped in cross section, but slightly asymmetrical. (You “plant” more than one scion

he stops speaking, all three little cuties raise their marker pens and write the answer in big digits across the poster board and raise them up immediately for the crowd to see. And, of course, they were correct. And I was still trying to figure what came after 7,428… Showmanship aside, mental abacus is extremely beneficial to brain development. Students develop better concentration, longer attention span, more fluent eye-hand coordination, more interaction between right and left brains, and stronger memory. Many parents were astonished to find that their children made progress in all subjects in school after taking up mental abacus! Of course, we offer mental abacus at Pax Academy, and I have seen firsthand the benefits of this skill on students. It is never too late to learn, and though I have long crossed the half-century threshold, I tried training along with my students this year. Amazingly, I actually felt rusty gears grinding away in my brain while students chugged along happily. Friends, if you want to avert the onset of Alzheimer, keep your brain young and exercise it! Mental abacus is effective in that way, but it also makes you more sprite in calculations as well!

LEE REICH into the trunk when topworking as insurance against failure; a couple of years later you prune to leave only the one that made the best growth.) Now, force a screwdriver into the middle of the slit in the trunk to open it up, and slide each scion into each of the outer edges of waiting gap. The better the alignment of the line between the bark and wood on each scion with this same line on the trunk, the better the healing, because the layer just beneath the bark is the source of all new cells at the graft. Once scions are snuggled in place and aligned, remove the screwdriver to let the split close up and firmly hug the two scions. DRYING IS YOUR ENEMY If your timing is right, and trunk and scions are in good contact, the only remaining threat to success is from the cut ends drying out. Avoid this by thoroughly coating all cut surfaces, including the tips of the scions, with some sort of pruning paint or grafting wax. My favorite is a gooey black stuff called “Treekote.” Check the graft a day after the operation to make sure all surfaces are still thoroughly sealed. Then stand back, because with an established root system it’s possible to get 3 feet or more of growth from a scion in one season!


Arizona & National News

April 21 - May 5 , 2011

Iraqi immigrant who ran over daughter gets 34 yrs.

Islamic scholar Prof. Tariq Ramadan visited Tucson and spoke at the UOA

Almashreq - Will-known Islamic scholar Prof. Ramadan was invited by the Department of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson on Wednesday April 13 to speak about the significant role of youth as a positive driving force for change in the Middle East in relation to this project

on radical reform and Islam. He also addressed the potential futures of the revolutions and reforms currently taking place in the Middle East, as well as the role of religio-political groups in them. Tariq Ramadan is a Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the Oxford University (Oriental Institute,

St. Antony›s College). He also teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. He is a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, (Qatar), a Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Mundiapolis University (Morocco). Tariq Ramadan holds an MA in Philosophy and French literature and PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva. Almashreq attended the event and will be posting parts of Prof. Ramadan’s speech at our website:

PHOENIX (AP) — An Iraqi immigrant was sentenced Friday to 34½ years in an Arizona prison for running over and killing his 20-yearold daughter because she became too Westernized. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roland Steinle told Faleh Hassan Almaleki that forgiveness is the core of all religion, but the judge said he was struck by Almaleki’s

and converted to Christianity after immigrating to the U.S., has written books assailing Islam as oppressive to women, intolerant and diametrically opposed to American views about individual liberty. Gaffney is a top proponent of the claim that there is a global conspiracy by Muslim leaders and institutions to overthrow the U.S. government and replace the Constitution with Islamic religious law. During Darwish’s testimony Friday before the Senate’s homeland security and military affairs committee, she argued that Islam is a threat to the U.S. She said that schools and mosques throughout the Arab world commonly teach children to embrace

disrespect and other cultural mores can never serve as a justification for the taking of an innocent life. Mr. Almaleki will have an appropriately long time in prison to ponder this truth.” A jury found Faleh Almaleki guilty of second-degree murder for the killing and aggravated assault for running over the mother of Noor Almaleki’s boyfriend. Jurors also convicted Faleh Almaleki of two counts of leaving the scene of an accident. On Oct. 20, 2009, Noor Almaleki spotted her father when she and Amal Khalaf visited a Department of Economic Security office.

Arizona Senate OKs bill on guns in gov’t buildings PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Senate has passed a gun-rights bill that would allow people to carry guns into most government buildings with no armed guards or metal detectors in place. Courthouses, prosecutor’s offices and police buildings are among the exempted government buildings. The bill exempts public events and multipurpose facili-

NY senators clash over panel testimony on Muslims

NEW YORK (AP) — A legislative hearing on New York’s readiness for another terrorist attack degenerated into name-calling and bruised feelings Friday after a state senator solicited testimony from two activists known for their hard line on Islam and opposition to the construction of new mosques in the United States. Sen. Greg Ball, a Hudson Valley Republican, angered some Muslims and civil liberties groups by inviting Nonie Darwish and Frank Gaffney to discuss “the culture of jihad,” or Muslim holy war, at a daylong hearing that was otherwise devoted to the nuts and bolts of homeland security preparedness. Darwish, who was born in Egypt

apparent lack of remorse for killing Noor Almaleki. The case caused outrage nationwide after prosecutors deemed it an “honor killing” because Faleh Almaleki had said his daughter dishonored his family. Defense attorneys called the death an accident. But in a statement, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose prosecutors handled the case, said “the killing of one’s own child is more than just a violation of the law.” “It is an offense against parenthood itself and the awesome responsibility parents have for nurturing and protecting their children,” he said. “Dishonor,

violence as a way of dealing with nonbelievers and that women are brutally punished for perceived sexual crimes. “You’re supposed to hate America,” she said. “You’re supposed to hate Western culture.” That brought an angry response from Sen. Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat. “It wasn’t the Quran that brought down our buildings,” he told Darwish. “You are bringing hate and poison into a diverse country.” Addressing Ball, the committee chairman, he demanded to know “why are we allowing her to bring this poison into a hearing” dealing with the state’s preparations for a possible terror attack. That brought a taunting retort from Ball, who accused his colleague of grandstanding. “I know you like the TV cameras,” Ball said. “And I’m glad nobody is in between those TV cameras and you, because that’s the most dangerous place in New York City right now.” That didn’t quite end the argument. Darwish, continuing her argument that her former religion was a sinister ideology, went on to complain that Islam allowed men to have women as slaves for sexual purposes.

ties used for sporting events, conventions or other cultural activities. Supporters say the bill protects Second Amendment rights. Critics say it poses unfunded mandates on local governments. It would not lift a current state law’s ban on taking guns into K-12 schools nor disturb a state law that lets colleges and universities have bans of their own. The bill now goes to the governor.

Census: Hispanics surpass blacks in most US metros

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hispanics now outnumber African-Americans for the first time in most U.S. metropolitan areas, shifting the political and racial dynamics in cities once dominated by whites and blacks. Census figures released Thursday highlight the growing diversity of the nation’s 366 metro areas, which were home to a record 83.7 percent share of the U.S. population. The numbers from the 2010 count are already having a big effect on redistricting in many states, where district tions coming from already boundary lines are being planned cuts. Sales increased redrawn based on populafor the third consecutive tion size and racial makeup. quarter, profit margins continued to improve and the number of economists whose firms increased spending over the previous quarter held steady. Nearly all of NEW YORK (AP) — Stanthe 72 economists surveyed, dard & Poor’s Ratings Serabout 94 percent, now ex- vice cut its outlook Monday pect the economy to grow at on the United States’ soverleast 2 percent in 2011. The eign debt, saying there is a quarterly survey includes one in three chance it will the views of economists for downgrade the rating on the private companies and trade debt in the next two years. groups who are NABE mem- The agency lowered the bers. The data are reported long-term outlook to “Negaby broad industry groupings. tive” from “Stable.” It reafMany results in the survey firmed its investment-grade are expressed through the credit ratings on the U.S. Net Rising Index, or NRI long- and short-term debt it— the percentage of panel- self, but said the ratings are ists reporting better outlooks at risk from the country’s minus the percentage whose growing deficit. S&P said outlook is bleaker. the U.S. has a high-income,

US economy improving despite global events

Hispanics became the largest minority group in 191 metropolitan areas last year, their population lifted higher as blacks left many economically hard-hit cities in the North for the South and new Latino immigrants spread to different parts of the country. That’s up from 159 metro areas when the previous Census was taken in 2000, when Hispanics were most commonly found in Southwest border states. The new metro areas include Chicago; Grand Rapids, Mich. and Atlantic City, N.J., whose states will lose U.S. House seats in the 2012 elections. Other places seeing rapid Hispanic gains compared to blacks were Lakeland, Fla.; Madison, Wis.; Oklahoma City and Omaha, Neb., due to the mid-decade housing boom that attracted many new immigrants seeking work in the construction and service industries. The Census Bureau reported last month that overall Hispanic population jumped 42 percent in the last decade to 50.5 million, or 1 in 6 Americans. Blacks increased a modest 11 percent to 37.7 million, with declines

particularly evident in big cities such as New York, Detroit, Cleveland, and St. Louis, Mo. “A greater Hispanic presence is now evident in all parts of the country — in large and small metropolitan areas, in the Snowbelt and in the Sunbelt,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, who analyzed the census data. “From now on, local, state and national politicians will need to pay attention to Hispanics rather than treating blacks as the major minority,” he said. The political effects have been immediate. Analysts and black groups — including some members of the Congressional Black Caucus themselves — are acknowledging the possibility of fewer black-majority House districts, even as they fight to preserve, if not expand, their gains. That’s because of slowing AfricanAmerican growth in big cities and broader black movement over the last decade into once predominantly white suburbs. Read more about the story at our website:

S&P cuts long-term outlook for US debt to negative

WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists say the U.S. economy is gaining strength despite political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East and last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A survey from the National Association for Business Economics finds that economists are hopeful that the broader economy is substantially improving, with rising employment re-

ported for the fifth quarter in a row. The survey found that “companies appear to be positioning themselves for a firming economic environment,” said Shawn DuBravac, an economist with the Consumer Electronics Association, who analyzed the findings. The outlook for employment rose slightly, reaching a 12-year high. No firms reported significant layoffs, with the only reduc-




economy that has helped it to encourage growth while containing inflation. But the country’s ballooning deficit could offset those positives over the next two years. The agency noted that the deficit grew to 11 per cent of gross domestic income in 2009. That is much higher than the average of two per cent to five per cent in the previous six years. S&P said it has little confidence that the White House and Congress will agree on a deficitreduction plan before the fall 2012 elections. By that time, the measures won’t

go into effect until the fiscal year 2014. “We see the path to agreement as challenging because the gap between the parties remains wide,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Nikola G. Swann. Mary Miller, assistant secretary for financial markets, said S&P “underestimates the ability of America’s leaders to come together to address the difficult fiscal challenges facing the nation.” President Barack Obama and Congress are working on ways to reduce budget deficits over the long term, she said

California & Illinois News State system to offer Arabic degree through Cal U. CALIFORNIA, Pa. (AP) — California University of Pennsylvania will become the first state-owned school to offer a four-year degree in Arabic language and culture, and will offer the degree online to students at the other 13 stateowned universities. The State System of Higher Education’s board of governors approved the new major last week. It will be offered through the school in California, Pa. beginning in the fall.

State system spokesman Kenn Marshall tells the Observer-Reporter in Washington, Pa. that the degree is being offered because of a “supercritical” need for Arab-speaking employees in federal agencies, including the FBI. Students who take the program at other state schools will complete 30 core credits through California U. while completing general education courses at their home school.

April 21 - May 5 , 2011 Hispanic advocates propose Illinois political map

2nd Sikh man dies after attack in Northern Calif.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The death of an elderly Sikh man on Friday has turned the work of police into a double homicide investigation as they try to determine whether a shooting in a Northern California suburb last month was a hate crime. Gurmej Atwal, who was 78, had lost the use of most of his organs after being gunned down in near Sacramento on March 4, his son, Kamaljit Atwal, told The Associated Press. His father had been on a ventilator and unable to talk for most of the time he had been in the hospital. “We are in a great grief,” Kamaljit Atwal said. But his father did speak briefly with

Elk Grove police, who said he and his friend, Surinder Singh, might have been targeted because they wore turbans, which often are confused with the head coverings of Muslims. Singh, who was 65, died the day of the shooting. Police said Atwal gave a description of a suspect, which they would not release. Sgt. James Fuller said his department is working overtime on current leads, but the description has been among the most useful. He called Atwal’s death “tragic.” “It just adds to the senselessness of the whole investigation,” Fuller said. Atwal and Singh were shot during one of their regular afternoon strolls together in the suburb just south of the state capital. The violence provoked repeated calls for tolerance from the community, which has collected $52,000 in reward money to go to anyone who provides information that would lead to an arrest. The shooting also was denounced on the floor of the state Legislature this week. Lawmakers, some wearing turbans as a sign of solidarity, attended American Sikh Day on Wednesday outside the Capitol. Atwal is survived by 10 grandchildren, four children and his wife, Balbir Kaur. He was born and raised in Punjab, India, before retiring and moving to the U.S. to live with his son.

Calif. Muslim students arraigned for disruption

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Eleven Muslim students pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges stemming from the disruption of a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States at a California university. The students were arraigned in Orange County Superior Court on misdemeanor conspiracy to disturb a meeting and misdemeanor disturbance of a meeting. The case has stoked an intense debate about freedom of speech, and defense lawyers are seeking to have the have Orange County district attorney, Tony Rackauckas, removed from the prosecution. The students were arrested on Feb. 8, 2010, at the University of California, Irvine, after shouting in protest at the speech on U.S.-Israeli security. The interruptions forced Ambassador Michael Oren to halt his remarks for 20 minutes. Seven of the defendants entered their pleas in person. Four other pleas were entered by defense attorneys. Muslim and civil rights advocates accuse prosecutors of

discriminating against students exercising their right to dissent, just as many other college-goers do without punishment. They also say prosecutors have shown bias against Muslims in their internal communications and want the state attorney general to take over the case. “This is not about the war in Gaza. This is about democracy right here,” Jacqueline Goodman, an attorney representing two of the defendants, told reporters after the hearing. Prosecutors contend the subject of the students’ protest has nothing to do with the case and say defense attorneys have failed to prove they are biased or have a conflict of interest. Rather, they say the demonstration was a premeditated attempt to disrupt Oren’s lecture that infringed on the rights of hundreds of people who had gathered on campus to hear him speak. “They trampled on the other people’s First Amendment rights,” Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner told reporters. On Friday, the prosecution filed a 32-page response to defense attorneys’ efforts to have prosecutors pulled from the case. The filing includes copies of email communications from the head of the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine in the days before Oren’s speech outlining the socalled “game plan” in which “we will be staying for the majority of the program and disrupting it throughout the whole time.” Prosecutors also asked Judge Peter J. Wilson to unseal transcripts of the grand jury called to investigate the case — a move opposed by defendants. Eight of the students attended UC Irvine and three were from the nearby campus of the University of California, Riverside. If convicted, they could face a sentence ranging from probation with community service and fines to up to a year in jail. The next hearing in the case is set for May 13. A trial, which is expected to take two weeks, is scheduled to start Aug. 15.

Former Chicago police officer pleads guilty

CHICAGO (AP) — A former Chicago police officer accused of shaking down suspected drug dealers and others for tens of thousands of dollars has pleaded guilty to federal charges with the understanding he could be sentenced to prison

for as long as 13 years. Keith Herrera also faces a maximum fine of $500,000 when he returns to court in July for sentencing. Herrera was one of four former members of an elite police unit who were charged this month with federal civil rights violations. Herrera pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring with other officers to violate a person’s civil rights and filing a false income tax return. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Herrera is the second of suspects to plead guilty. The two others are expected to plead guilty within weeks.


CHICAGO (AP) — A group of Hispanic advocates and community leaders is proposing new political boundaries in Illinois to better protect the interests of the state’s fastest growing minority group. The La-

tino Coalition for Fair Representation is made up of Chicago-area advocates and has proposed new Hispanic majority districts for the Illinois House. That includes the Chicago suburbs of Aurora and Elgin, where Hispanic growth has boomed. A group spokesman says the idea is to give Hispanics a louder political voice. The group is working on an Illinois Senate map. Their action comes as legislators from both chambers travel the state for public hearings on redistricting. Redrawing political maps is done every decade based on U.S. Census figures. Census data show Illinois’ Hispanic population grew more than 32 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Illinois steps in to help Japan recovery effort

CHICAGO (AP) — The state of Illinois is sending help to Japan as that country tries to recover from a devastating earth-

quake and tsunami that crippled a nuclear power plant. Illinois is donating 2,000 radiation detectors that recovery workers can use. The state also announced Friday it was working on a long-term plan with the agricultural community to send resources and products to Japan. A subsidiary of Peoria-based Caterpillar is paying to ship the radiation detection devices. The state says it used $1.3 million in federal grants to buy the radiation detectors that are now being donated. But sending the devices to Japan won’t affect disaster preparedness at home. The state says it still has about 3,000 detectors. Illinois has six nuclear plants with a total of 11 reactors.

Obama: Raise debt ceiling or risk global recession

CHICAGO (AP) — Failure by Congress to raise the U.S. debt limit “could plunge the world economy back into recession,” President Barack Obama declared Friday, and he acknowledged that he must compromise on spending with Republicans who control the House to avoid such a crisis. “I think he’s absolutely right that it’s not going to happen without some spending cuts,” the president told The Associated Press in an interview in his hometown, agreeing with House Speaker John Boehner’s assessment. Obama urged swift action, saying he doesn’t want the United States to get close to a deadline that would destabilize financial markets. He said he was confident Congress ultimately would raise the limit. “We always have. We will do it again,” said Obama, who voted against raising the debt limit as a freshman senator from Illinois. The interview came a day after the Democratic president held the first major fundraising events of his reelection campaign, which was launched a week ago in a nation still reeling from high unemployment and struggling to recover from economic recession. “I’m the person who is best prepared for us to finish the job so that we’re on track to succeed in the 21st century,” Obama said. That’s the heart of his argument for voters to give him a second term over more than a half dozen Republicans seeking the White House. As the 2012 campaign gets under way, it’s being shaped by a deep disagreement over federal spending in Washington between Republicans who control the House and Democrats in power in the Senate and White House. Obama and Republicans compromised a week ago on a spending bill to avert a government shutdown, a preview of the debate that’s certain to dominate the coming months on deficits and the ceiling on money the nation can borrow. The president said that he doesn’t expect either

side to get everything it wants in negotiations and that he’s pushing for “a smart compromise that’s serious.” He warned of dire consequences if the debt ceiling is not raised before it hits its limit of $14.3 trillion; the administration says the latest Congress could possibly act is by early July. But Obama said some longer-term questions about where the government trims its operations will have to be left until after the 2012 presidential election. Obama’s remarks about the relationship between lifting the debt ceiling and the need for spending cuts was the clearest acknowledgement yet by the president or the White House that the two issues are intertwined. Republicans, particularly tea party-backed lawmakers in the House, have repeatedly said they would not vote to increase the debt cap without a significant step toward long-term deficit reduction — a point reiterated by Boehner on Thursday. To win a second term, Obama must convince the recession-weary nation that he deserves more time to help the economy recover from a recession that began under George W. Bush. “I think the economy is going to continue to improve, and I think I’m going to be able to make an effective case that given the extraordinary circumstances that I inherited when I came in — the worst recession since the Great Depression — that not only have I been able to yank this economy out of that hole and get it back on a track to growth but that we’ve been able to make changes in our economy,” Obama said. He pointed to rewriting Wall Street regulations, overhauling the health care system, investing in clean energy and helping make college more affordable. The 2012 presidential race is the first in which the tea party coalition, which rails against the growth of government, excessive spending and Obama’s presidency, will play a major role.


International & Business News

April 21 - May 5 , 2011

Former Israeli president to appeal prison sentence

JERUSALEM (AP) — A lawyer for Israel’s former President Moshe Katzav says he will appeal his rape conviction and seven-year prison sentence. Katsav is due to enter prison on May 8. Attorney Avigdor Feldman told Army Radio on Monday that Kat-

sav’s lawyers would ask for a delay. Analysts have predicted that the disgraced former president would be hard-pressed to win an appeal. Katsav was convicted in December of raping a former employee and sexually harassing two other women who used

Somali gov’t rejects UN efforts to hold elections

to work for him. An Israeli court sentenced him to jail last month, making him the country’s highest-ranking official ever ordered to prison. Katsav has denied all wrongdoing. At the sentencing, he accused judges of committing an injustice.

CIA sends teams to Libya; US considers rebel aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — While the White House debates whether to arm rebels battling Moammar Gadhafi’s troops, U.S. officials have acknowledged that the CIA has sent small teams of operatives into Libya and helped rescue a crew member of a U.S. fighter jet that crashed. Battlefield setbacks are hardening the U.S. view that the poorly equipped opposition probably is incapable of prevailing without decisive Western intervention, a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press. Still, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday: “No decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any groups in Libya. We’re not ruling it out or ruling it in.” The CIA’s precise

role in Libya is not clear. Intelligence experts said the CIA would have sent officials to make contact with the opposition and assess the strength and needs of the rebel forces in the event President Barack Obama decided to arm them. An American official and a former U.S. intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, told the AP about the CIA’s involvement in Libya after the agency was forced to close its station in Tripoli, the capital. They said CIA helped safely recover the F-15E Strike Eagle’s weapons specialist, who was first picked up by rebels after the crash March 21. The pilot was rescued by Marines. The former intelligence officer said some CIA officers had been staging from the agency’s station in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The New York Times first reported the CIA had sent in groups of operatives and British operatives were directing airstrikes. Obama said in a national address Monday night that U.S. troops would not be used on the ground in Libya. The statement allowed for wiggle room as the president explores options in case he decides to use covert action to ship arms to the rebels and train them. In that event, the CIA

would take the lead, as it has done in the past such as in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks and the run-up to the Iraq invasion in 2003. In those covert action programs, CIA officers along with special operation forces were sent in, providing arms to opposition forces to help fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Lawmakers met Wednesday with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, and intelligence head James Clapper “They’re absolutely committed to keeping the U.S. role limited,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. “Nobody is making guarantees we’ll be out in two weeks.” The top NATO commander, U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis, has said he’s seen “flickers” of al-Qaida and Hezbollah among the rebels, but no evidence of significant numbers within the political opposition group’s leadership. During the meeting, Clapper, compared the rebel forces to a “pick-up basketball team.” He indicated that intelligence has identified a few questionable individuals within the rebel ranks but no significant presence, according to lawmakers.

Bahrain opposition: 4th supporter dies in custody

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bahrain’s Shiite opposition party said Wednesday that another one of its supporters, the fourth to date, had died in police custody. Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s main opposition party in the Sunni-ruled Gulf country, said Haji

Karim Fakhrawi died in “mysterious circumstances,” while his relatives pointed to a body covered in bruises saying he had died of torture. Bahrain’s official news agency cited the medical examiner from the army hospital saying Fakhrawi died of kidney failure. At least 30 people have been killed since anti-government protests by Bahrain’s Shiite majority began in February. Hundreds have been detained in the crackdown on the rebellion. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. was aware of Fakhrawi’s

death and was deeply concerned about the deaths of individuals while in custody in Bahrain. “We strongly urge the government of Bahrain to ensure the security of all arrestees,” Toner told reporters in Washington. He said Bahrain’s government must guarantee transparent judicial proceedings in line with Bahraini and international standards. It should also conduct complete and transparent investigations into all the deaths, he said.

Jordan man sets himself ablaze outside PM’s office AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Police and hospital officials in Jordan say a man has set himself on fire outside the prime minister’s office in the country’s first act of self-immolation during unrest engulfing the Middle East. Similar acts have occurred in other Arab countries to protest government policies. A doctor at the state al-

Bashir Hospital said Thursday that Mohammed Abdul Karim was in critical condition with third-degree burns to his face and much of his body. A police official said the 45-year-old wanted to draw police sympathy to revoke his criminal record, which included theft and illegally trafficking drugs and light weapon-

ry. A Jordanian judicial official, meanwhile, says 80 pro- and antigovernment activists have been charged with resisting police in a March 25 demonstration that turned violent, leaving one person dead. All three officials insisted on anonymity because they were not allowed to make press statements.

Iranian girl attacked in UK over hijab Presstv -- An Iranian Muslim girl has reportedly come under attack in Britain after refusing to remove her hijab amid a new wave of Islamophobia in Western countries. The incident occurred on Wednesday when London resident Zahra Kazemi Saleh was attacked by four young British women as she was going home from school, Tabnak reported on Thursday. The Iranian member of the Islamic Student Association was attacked in broad daylight by the girls who did not like Zahra’s refusal to take off her hijab. Zahra sustained facial injuries in the encoun-

ter, which is not the first act of violence against a Muslim in Europe. London’s Muslim Student Council condemned the attack, and blamed the British government for supporting the spread of Islamophobic opinions in the country. “[The] Muslim Student Council strongly condemns this heinous Islamophobic crime of hatred and ignorance. Furthermore, we demand the Home office to take action to bring the attackers to justice and sentence them accordingly and set an example in the society in order to get the message out there that such crimes are not tolerated in a Multicultural society.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Somalia’s government on Thursday rejected the outcome of a U.N.-backed meeting on the Horn of Africa nation that called for the ouster of the current leadership to prepare the country for new elections. The two-day gathering was aimed at working out how Somalia can navigate through an upcoming transitional period. The mandate of the Mogadishu government expires in August, and the government’s international backers are demanding that new elections be held. “That meeting was fruitless and did not meet what was expected of it,” said a statement from the Somali government Cabinet. “It was not representing the desires

of the Somali people.” The response underscores the tension between the U.N. envoy on Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, and Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed. Ahmed’s administration was angered that the meeting, held this week in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, was attended by so many officials opposed to a term extension for Ahmed’s government. Some two dozen international observers, including the U.S., U.K., EU, African Union and the League of Arab States, were also in attendance. Mahiga said late Wednesday after winding up the highlevel meeting that “there is still room to discuss” the government’s position on how it wants to end its term. Mahiga said it was not up to the U.N. or international community to extend the government’s term, but that Somalia’s parliament could do so. Somali government officials on Tuesday called on Somali participants in the meeting to withdraw. The Somalia government did not attend the meeting, though Somali parliamentarians as well as representatives from two regional administrations and a pro-government militia did.

Dutch anti-Islam hate speech trial resumes

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Defense lawyers sought Wednesday to discredit a judge who ordered Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders to face trial on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims. Wilders, leader of the country’s third-largest political party, says he has done nothing wrong by expressing his opinions that Islam is a violent ideology comparable with fascism, and that the Quran should be banned. Defense witness Hans Jansen, a retired professor of Arabic and Islamic studies, testified that he had been approached at a dinner by appeals judge Tom Schalken to discuss the Wilders case shortly before the trial was to start. Defense lawyers argue that contact was inappropriate and grounds for dismissing the hate speech case. Schalken sat on the panel that ordered Wilders’ case to proceed, even after prosecutors had declined to press charges and a trial court had endorsed that decision. “Do you think that he(Schalken) tried to influence your testimony?” defense lawyer Bram Moszkowicz asked Jansen. “Yes. I think he did,” Jansen answered. Schalken, testifying later, denied trying to influence Jansen or having committed any impropriety. He said he was surprised to learn that Jansen considered Wilders’ prosecution a

“witchhunt.” Schalken said he didn’t think that Jansen understood the appeals panel’s reasoning, so he tried to explain it to him “so he could form his viewpoint on the basis of the right foundation.” Judges are expected to rule on the motion for dismissal on Friday. Wilders says the trial is about his right to free speech. Dutch Muslims who pressed for the trial say it is about their right to practice their religion freely. They say Wilders’ strident anti-Islam tone has led to increased discrimination against them and even attacks on mosques. Wilders is charged with inciting hatred against Muslims based on their religion or race, and for “making statements insulting to Muslims as a group.” Each charge carries a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment, although a fine would be more likely if he were found guilty. Nearly 100 public remarks by Wilders have been entered into evidence. Typical among them was an interview published in De Volkskrant newspaper in which he said: “The core of the problem is the fascist Islam, the sick ideology of Allah and Mohammed as written down in the Islamic Mein Kampf.” Wilders’ international profile grew after his short film “Fitna” aired in 2008, which equated Islam with violence and led to protests in Muslim countries. He announced earlier this month he is making a new film, this time about the life of the Prophet Mohammed. His party is supporting a conservative minority Cabinet, in exchange for a promise of new rules curtailing immigration and banning Muslim facecovering clothing.

UAE detains another democracy activist, academic DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have detained two more activists advocating democratic reforms in the oil-rich Gulf nation where most political activity is banned, a lawyer said Sunday. The pair includes one of the country’s most outspoken academics, Nasser bin Ghaith, who is a financial analyst and an economics professor at the Abu Dhabi branch of Paris’ Sorbonne university. He was detained Sunday in Dubai, said Mohammed al-Mansouri, the lawyer and a fellow activist. He has frequently criticized the Gulf region’s ruling sheiks for refusing to consider all but the most limited of political reforms and for failing to provide a legal framework for the staggering economic development of the past decade. The other activist, Fahad Salem al-Shehhy, was detained late Saturday in Ajman, another of the federation’s emirates north of Dubai,

al-Mansouri said. Al-Shehhy has been participating in an online forum calling for free elections and other democratic reforms in the UAE, an alliance of seven sheikdoms run by ruling families. The forum had been led by Ahmed Mansour, a blogger and human rights activist, who himself was arrested on Friday in Dubai after he signed a petition in favor of an elected parliament. Police and government officials have not responded to calls for comment, and representatives of Sorbonne Abu Dhabi could not immediately be reached. Dubai’s police chief confirmed Mansour’s detention Sunday in a state-run newspaper based in Abu Dhabi, the capital. In a brief statement to The National’s online edition, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim said Mansour was arrested in Dubai on a request from the UAE attorney general “in connection with a criminal case.” Tamim did not elaborate.

English issue 18  

English issue 18

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