The summer season is the time of year when many folks take to the highways for a little vacation. Some who are more intrepid will choose an overseas destination. I suppose that is what our friend Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf must be doing. He has been on a trip sponsored by the U S State Department and it is a trip with a mission. His trip is aimed at improving relations between the United States and the Muslim world. ( Thought that was NASA’s mission.) Of course, he has been enjoined to do no fund-raising for the Park 51 Project. Probably doesn’t need to. I expect that the $100 million plus for that effort is already in place.
One thing I have read about this trip stood. This is not Imam Rauf’s fist American sponsored trip. As I recall, it is the fourth. Two were during the Bush Administration and this is the second since Obama took office. He’s getting plenty of frequent flier miles on these trips alone. These trips were arranged by Bush adviser Karen Hughes as part of a Muslim outreach. So we seem to have opportunity infatuation no matter what he says. Oh wait, the State Department says that his somewhat inflammatory comments( in 00105, 06 I presume) were taken out of context.
Just a bit more Islamic outreach. If you liked the Imam’s taxpayer-funded trips you will be thrilled to learn that we are also paying for the renovation of mosques. A Washington Times article in April reported on our ambassador to Tanzania participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony for celebrating the refurbishing of a 12th century mosque there. And, and there was money provided to save the legendary 7th century Amr Ebn El Aas mosque in Cairo. Who was the namesake for this structure? He was the Muslim conqueror of Christian Egypt. The site was where he camped before doing battle with the country’s Byzantine rulers. A mosque on the site of a Muslim conquest. Does that sound familiar?
- State Department sponsors Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s visit to Qatar (nowpublic.com)
- If Feisal Abdul Rauf was fine before, he’s fine now (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Funny How Bush Officials Don’t Remember Working With Imam Rauf (alan.com)
- Karen Hughes doesn’t remember Park51 organizer, would like him to move “mosque” (salon.com)
Very simple question, right? Most folks park in their driveways, a carport, on the street in front of their home or in a garage. Perfectly normal and rather safe, at least from government intruding and snooping. Not so much anymore. That is , if you live in the geographic area encompassing California and 8 other western states. For this potentially snoopervision ( thank you Paul Harvey) you may thank the U S Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
Yes indeed, this bastion of liberal thought and action has handed down a ruling that must be quite a shock to the court’s usual fans. What this decision does at its basic level can be described a bit like this. Government agents, probably some of the three-letter boys, can sneak into your driveway, plant a GPS device on your vehicle and monitor said device, all without obtaining a search warrant or violating the 4th amendment right to privacy.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be searched.
So says the 4th amendment. Let us see how the court manged to pull of this feat. The ruling stems from a 2007 case involving a suspected marijuana grower whom the DEA was after. And they did just what we described in paragraph two above. Why was the driveway open to the DEA ? Listen closely. The driveway is open to strangers such as delivery people or neighborhood children who can wander across uninvited. Huh!
Here is a funny part of the ruling, not ha-ha funny. A strong dissent was rendered by Reagan appointee Alex Kozinski, the Court’s chief judge who opined that the ruling was Orwellian and a herald of 1984. Fortunately, the U S Court of Appeals for the D C circuit took a unanimous pro-privacy stand. Never forget, the 9th Circuit Court is quite influential so this ruling could be a harbinger of things to come.
Meanwhile, just to be safe, try parking your car indoors.
There is a company in Wilmington, NC named Education Management Systems. They have a division called MealsPlus which I presume is the part of the company that deals with food service. I meandered around the web site for a while and didn’t learn a lot other than they have been in business for about 20 years and their food service division has a number of school systems as customers in a number of states.
One of their services allows parents to track what their children are buying for breakfast and lunch while at school.The goal- why reducing childhood obesity of course. For a mere $10 annually parents can get a 45 day history of what their child is buying. Our local system, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County, has just signed on to the service. Neighboring school systems in Dare and Currituck counties also have subscribed the service.
When reading about this, I really wasn’t sure what I thought and I am still a bit unsure. As my wife pointed out, because one’s child is buying the right things doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is eating that food. I also wonder what the participation is in the program and could it eventually become mandatory for parents to take part? For example, including maybe bundling the fee in with other required items?
But with such a worthy goal, who could possibly complain about a little more intrusion and a little more monitoring? While you are chewing( pun intended) on that think about this. School officials in New Canaan, Ct are in the very preliminary stages of considering if they should add radio frequency tags to student and staff id cards and possibly place them on school property. School superintendent Dr David Abbey said student involvement would be voluntary and that parents would have to agree. Glad we got that cleared up.
I realize that about the only things connecting these two accounts is technology and the benefit to the children. Can never disagree with something that’s good for the children. Why then do both programs leave me with an uneasy feeling?
- D.C.schools refuse to disclose food-rebate accounting (grist.org)
- Forget Hall Monitors, School Investigates Tracking Students with RFID (readwriteweb.com)
Spent a little time on the Outer Banks of North Carolina the last couple of days.In the spirit of the Administration’s “summer of recovery” I did my small part at stimulating the economy. While driving around I saw a sign that encapsulated the ongoing economic problems that we face. The sign was located at a real estate office, a Century 21 branch I believe. Typically these advertise featured homes or land that are for sale. This particular sign said ” Bank owned homes tour.”
My interpretation of that based on homes tours with which I am familiar presumes that this office has enough foreclosed homes available to comprise a tour all their own. Very sad thing to contemplate. Unfortunately, it goes along with a USA Today article yesterday captioned ” Nothing but awful economic news.” I read another article , actually from two sources that reported foreclosure filings in July topped 300,000 for the 17th consecutive month. ( Actual forclosures are running a little over 85,000 a month.)
Alas, the recovery seems to an elusive thing indeed. But, on a ( maybe) brighter note, the Department of Energy has a new category to chart the success of the economic stimulus. Along with the millions of jobs created or saved they will publish a new number, “lives touched, ” presumably by the economic stimulus. So, hang in there, you may yet fit into a category.
Several days ago, I wrote about Europe and Great Britain in particular vis-a-vis Islam and terrorism and some of its implications. At the time I was attempting to read Londonistan by Melanie Phillips. I have finally managed to complete that self-assigned task. I might add that the fault is not that of the author but rather my unfamiliarity with her style and the complexity of the subject matter.
Moving forward, my intent is not to review the book but rather make reference to some things that intrigued me and speculate about what these things might or might not mean. As always dissent/disagreement is welcome. My comments do not follow the book from beginning to end since some areas were more pertinent for me than others. The author has an excellent notes section if one desires to trace her source material and pursue things further.
There are many references to people in the book with the majority of those names probably being Arabic. I won’t refer much to those individuals. Upfront i will assert that neither the author nor this writer are anti- Muslim ‘ She does however, make use of the term Islamaphobia which also appears in the American media. It refers of course to those who harbor an irrational view of the Islamic faith. An accusation of such is used at times to stifle even legitimate criticism of Islam. ( That didn’t work so well for Salmon Rushdie did it? ) She makes the point that adherents of the Muslim faith can often be sensitive to criticism( as are Christians) and use that to justify or explain away certain actions. Her starting point, the London bombings of 2005 was such a thing. Muslim leaders condemned the attacks but added that since the bombers were un-Islamic ( native Brits) they could not have been real Muslims. And this next that they added which is a relatively prominent reoccurring theme, is a concept she calls moral inversion. In general Muslims regard Western values as an assault on their principles so they present their own aggression as legitimate self- defense. Or, a country’s support of Israel or the Iraq war is ample cause for some sort of attack. Current example is related to the furor over the New york mosque/cultural center. The chairman of those efforts Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was interviewed by CBS just after 9/11. He opined that the United States did not deserve what happened but that its policies ” were an accessory to the crime.”
So what were the policies to which he referred? If you say support for Israel go the head of the class. That attitude in Britain, she writes, is even more prevalent. In Britain the prevailing wisdom regarding the Middle East is that of a territorial dispute. Before May 14, 1948 all was well between Arab and Jew and would be again if Israel acceded to legitimate Palestinian demands. The problem, that is not factual. This cannot be totally addressed here but factor in this one truth . Palestinians could have had a separate state in 1936, 1948 or 2000. Also, many Arab writers and leaders have often spoken of the inherently evil Jew out to conquer the world and they are demonized as the source of all evil in the Middle East. Let me hasten to add that Israel is not always right in its actions/methods but neither are they behind every conflict on earth as Palestinian Authority imam Ibrahim Mudayris said in 2005.
But let me continue. Let me refer to some of her conclusions but encourage the reader to interpret them on their own. Britain is a hub of Islamic jihad and has been.In Britain there continues the long-standing policy of appeasing terrorism which has now been combined with the prevailing doctrine of multiculturalism and ” victim culture.” She asserts that Britain is at a crossroads and could ease further down the road of appeasement. So the country that is the global leader of English speaking culture no longer champions those values. ( Sound a little like American education?)
She wonders if her native country will reverse its sleepwalk towards “cultural oblivion ” or sink further into disarray and drag the West down with it. Serious things to consider.
- What Obama Should Have Said About Mosque [Dispatches from the Culture Wars] (scienceblogs.com)
- CNN and Time Promote Accusation That ‘Bigotry’ is Driving Mosque Debate (newsbusters.org)
- Op-Ed: The words behind the man behind the mosque (jta.org)
The International Assistance Mission (IAM) began in 1966 in Afghanistan and except for a brief 3 month period in 2001, they have been there ever since. Their work primarily focuses on eye care, although they provide other services as well. Their current executive director is Dick Frans who is based in Kabul. I think one could call them unique since Afghanistan is the only place they work. Frans expresses their approach this way. ” Our faith motivates and inspires us but we do not proselytize.”
Most of those who serve do so at their own expense or through the generosity of others. On August 5, a 10 member team plus an Afghan driver was returning to Kabul after an arduous 2 weeks working in the remote Parun valley. Initial reports said they were surrounded by armed Taliban and brutally murdered by gunfire and hand grenades. As further information emerges, it appears that the act could have been perpetrated by armed bandits. It’s possible the truth will never surface or if so, not for some time. I would also doubt whether those responsible will ever be brought to justice.
I have read several articles about this tragedy and the more I read the more devastated I become. Those ten who were killed were quite a disparate group. There were six Americans, a German, a Brit and two Afghans who served as a guard and a cook. Their ages ranged from two grandfathers in their 60′s to a 25-year-old photographer/videographer and the 24-year-old cook. One, Karen Woo, was a London surgeon who gave up a lucrative career to serve. The senior member was Dan Terry who arrived in country in 1971 and met and married his wife and reared three daughters in the country. Tom Little was much like Cherry and had been in the country for four decades spearheading the mission’s work in providing eye care. The group’s junior was member Brian Carderelli from Harrisonburg, Va. Both of his parents had worked there and he knew somewhat the potential dangers he faced. When the opportunity came he grabbed it. Ironically he was putting together an album of photos entitled “The Beauty-It’s Not All War.”
Other team members were dentist Thomas Grams of Durango, Co, nurse Glenn Lapp of Lancaster, Pa and an interpreter from Germany Daniela Beyer. The Afghans killed were Mahram Ali, a guard and a young cook named Ahmed Jawed.
Certainly all had calculated the risks involved and chose to take those risks. Beyond the incalculable losses felt by the families and friends are the heavy toll on IAM’s work. At the least, much of it is in limbo. The attack was one of the worst carried out on foreign aid workers in many years.
Heartfelt prayers go out to those impacted by these losses, especially those closest to these who gave their all.
- Charity plans to stay in Afghanistan despite murders of 10 aid workers (foxnews.com)
- Karen Woo Remembered At Memorial Service (news.sky.com)
Once again, I read about Google in a way that leaves me somewhat disturbed. This time, the words come right from the source, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and they have an ominous ring to them. What makes them so for me is not just their content but the matter of fact way in which they are expressed.
Mr Schmidt recently did an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he spoke a lot about money and how the company intends to continue making large sums of said commodity. But there were several other points he made that could easily be described as Orwellian. In fact, one of the online comments said it quite well. Not only is Big Brother watching you but is taking notes as well. How so? Let us examine some of Mr Schmidt’s statements.
Before that, I have an issue that often comes to mind when I think of Google. Why are there not more concerns about their monopolistic position or their domination of their field or fields? They have YouTube, their dominant search engine, Blogger( twice as large as my friends at WordPress) not to mention Google Earth and so on. Sure they have some competition but they are a big gorilla in the industry. If memory serves correct, when Microsoft was quite dominant there were lawsuits filed screaming antitrust. One of the leading voices was Eric Schmidt as chief technology officer of Sun Microsystems. Microsoft has also had to deal with those issues in Europe as well. Here, it seems that Europe may be ahead of the game as Spain is now raising issues with Google.
Mr Schmidt acknowledges the issue by admitting there are people “who are intrinsic oppositionists to everything Google does.” Insert Microsoft here. How does his company intend to combat such charges? Easy, by making sure that everything they do is ” good for consumers” and ” fair” for competitors. Doesn’t that sound great ? Certainly, but then woud Google not be the arbiter of the goodness and fairness? But I have digressed fair afield.
My original premise was my concerns about their future. Try these on for size. Mr Schmidt envisions a day when search engines will be passe and what does he say about that? Among other things he envisions a time when Google will not be answering your search questions but rather telling you what you should be doing next. That, folks, is something to think about. He continues by saying that because of the info they have about you ” we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.” He adds that there are next generation handheld devices that will be capable of surprising you with information that you didn’t even know you wanted. Wow, is that not a lot to consider?
Just remember that the Google motto is ” Don’t be evil.” Guess we will have to continue these lovable folks for they are surely watching us.
Gotta be one of my favorite titles ever even if I did write it! To add more excitement mix in liberal( pun intended) doses of the ACLU, that liberal bastion of Boulder, Co and one has quite an interesting recipe.
Seems that there is an individual that a frequent critic of the Boulder City Council ( fyi: Boulder is a predominantly Democrat city so why anyone would criticize the council is amazing in itself) and was in action again just a few days ago. Apparently, he was quite vexed by something because as his public comments continued he began to shed his clothing. Before stopping he was wearing only boxer shorts.
The council responded by proposing a measure that would prohibit stripping while addressing the council as well as wearing a mask or otherwise being contemptuous. Somehow a local ACLU chapter got wind of this and howled in protest. They contended that the decorum rules would have ” a chilling effect” on free speech. They are kidding, right? Probably not , I doubt that the ACLU, the “nation’s guardian of liberty ” according to their website, hardly ever kids.
As a rule, I am not an ACLU fan, but will admit that there are times when they serve a good purpose. But not in this case. I believe the only chilling effect here would consist of the air conditioning being set too low during our critic’s boxer shorts interlude. Besides , most city councils could use a bit more decorum. Have to wonder, if a lady had begun to engage in similar behavior, would our guardians have reacted the same. Just a thought.
Once again, I got the urge to share a few quotes from a couple of famous individuals. One of the individuals is an actress, the other a politician.
#1 This quote comes from actress Jennifer Aniston and for our purposes we shall call it the profound quote. This was in response to a Russian journalist who had the audacity or temerity to ask her a question about love/marriage/men. Her response: ” Love is love and family is what is around you.” Wow, is that deep.
His first quote we call characterize as an intellectual quote. This one was actually about 3 weeks ago and came at a press conference announcing that this year’s ambitious climate legislation would shelved. We don’t have the votes he said. ” It’s easy to count to 60. I could do it by the time I was in eighth grade.” Shucks, Senator , I believe I learned it way before then.
Finally, this one could have a couple of names. Maybe politically unwise or maybe I just don’t care what they think. This was at a campaign stop in Nevada , speaking to a Hispanic audience. ” I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican. Do I need to say more? ” Apparently, he did. Just a day or so later comes this from his campaign. ” Sen Reid’s contention was simply that he doesn’t understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise would vote for Republican candidates.” Because after all they oppose all the good things that Democrats are trying to do. Perhaps the senator could ask some folks in November. Or , do you think he just believes in a one party system? Nah!
…… rather a prayer space, they say. Why? According to the leaders of the ” Park 51″ project, changed from an original name of ” Cordoba House,” it cannot be a mosque because it space for musical performances and a restaurant. But an AP article datelined Albany and written by Michael Gormley said that the center will contain a mosque. Confusion runneth rampant it seems. Glad we got that cleared up. But, call me a skeptic if you will, but at this stage of the project one can say there is space for any number of things that may or may not come to fruition.
Doubtful that anyone opposed or in favor the 13 story facility will change their opinion based on that information. So what are some of the things being said about the facility scheduled to be built at 45 Park Place. Some say that it shows great tolerance, some bring up our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion ( insert the name of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg here) some say that a Muslim facility should not so near to the site of the former World Trade Centers.
So , on a site fist occupied in 1858 by a structure built for a New York shipping tycoon, at its last fateful incarnation it was occupied by a simple Burlington Coat Factory store. The site was purchased for $4.5 million in cash just over a year ago, at which time the current process began. Certainly what is now being proposed was planned long before that date.
No doubt there are very well-intentioned people on both sides of this issue. Personally, I would prefer that the Muslim group that says it wants to rebuild the community would begin that process somewhere a bit distant. Governor David Paterson tried that approach and was unsuccessful. Of course, there is no way that one can have the feelings that many New Yorkers have about the structure because we have not experienced what they have. But, having said that, I wonder if all of those affected by 9/11 are opposed. I would guess that they are not . So, once again we have quite a convoluted situation.
Two final observations. Newt Gingrich has been quoted as saying that ” there should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York as long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” That certainly appeals to many although I really don’t see its relevance. One thing with which I do agree is that freedom of religion is not the issue. Another quote, this from Mayor Bloomberg. ” I always believed that government should not be involved in deciding who you pray to, what you say or where you say it.” But Mr Mayor, government is already quite involved in one of those areas, the where. ASk the religious groups who have trouble getting permission to build in certain locales due to zoning laws, etc. Conclusion, freedom of religion provides no guarantee of being able to build a house of worship anywhere one chooses, Confuses things even more, huh? The discussion about this center will doubtless proceed. A suggestion, follow the money.
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