March 31, 2004

"Air America"--New Talk Radio Goes On-Air

got this from a list-member:

Liberal talk radio goes on the air
'O'Franken Factor' kicks off Air America

Wednesday, March 31, 2004 Posted: 1:39 PM EST (1839 GMT)

CHICAGO, Illinois (Reuters) -- The gloves are coming off on talk radio.

Comedian-provocateur Al Franken is anchoring Wednesday's launch of a new liberal radio network -- Air America -- that promises irreverent voices from the opposite end of the political spectrum to conservatives like Rush Limbaugh who dominate talk radio.

"We're going to listen to (Limbaugh's) show and hold him up to scorn and ridicule," Franken said in a telephone interview.

The debut is auspiciously timed: the presidential candidates have come out swinging and liberal anger at Republican President Bush is at a fever pitch.

Network chief executive Mark Walsh said the goal was to skewer "pomposity" in high places regardless of political affiliation. "We're not in regime change radio," he said.

Walsh said his most recent job was as "the Internet guy" for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Franken also knows Kerry, who along with filmmaker Michael Moore is a likely Air America guest.

The network will also feature other radio neophytes such as actress Janeane Garofalo, rapper Chuck D and activist Robert Kennedy Jr. Each will be paired with a radio veteran.

Franken has kicked off with a three-hour midday show, "The O'Franken Factor," a mocking tribute to his broadcasting foe Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox News.

A former writer on NBC-TV's "Saturday Night Live", Franken wrote the best-selling comic diatribes "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" and last year's "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." The latter triggered a short-lived lawsuit from Fox News.

Wine and cheese, or red meat?
A onetime high school wrestler, the 52-year-old Franken's recent antics have earned him the label of comic brawler: he tackled a heckler at a political event and offered to fight a magazine editor who said Democrats had "sissified" politics.

Franken turns serious when discussing Bush.

"This is a president who ran as a uniter not a divider and he's the most divisive president that I can remember," Franken said. "He had an opportunity to lead us in a new American century united in purpose and sacrifice and blew it completely. He wanted for some reason very, very, very badly to attack Iraq ... (which) I think has damaged the war on terror."

Limbaugh and other conservative radio figures such as Sean Hannity and Michael Savage -- whose dominance of talk radio balances what some see as mainstream media's liberal bias -- have already begun mocking the upstart network.

"They're saying we're a bunch of wine-swilling cheese-eating liberal idiots; that it'll never work; that liberals don't listen to the radio; that all we did was hire a bunch of comics and not anybody that knows anything about radio," Walsh said.

Franken admitted he drinks wine occasionally but doesn't know the difference between labels. "I do eat cheese; they're more accurate than usual there."

Observers are unsure about Air America's chances of success but it has drawn an avalanche of publicity as the first liberal-minded radio network.

In truth, the serious-minded Pacifica network and segments of National Public Radio have already staked out liberal positions.

"If these guys succeed, you know who's going to be banging down their doors to get them on? All the guys running conservative talk radio. Radio's not a political business. Politics is just a product ... a prop," said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers, a magazine that covers the industry.

Air America is armed with $30 million in investor cash and a $30 million credit line being used to lease AM stations in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with more stations promised.


Posted by shereen at 05:13 PM | Comments (0)

'Against the Law to be Muslim'?

got this forwarded to me:
Is Playing Paintball and Firing Legal Guns Terrorism?
Three Disturbing Convictions Strongly Suggest Discrimination Against Muslim Americans

Thursday, Mar. 25, 2004

On March 5, in federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia, Judge Leonie Brinkema delivered her verdict in the case of three American citizens -- Masoud Khan, 32, Seifullah Chapman, 31, and Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 35 -- who were charged with participating in a conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism. (The three had waived their right to a jury trial.)

Brinkema found the three men guilty. As a result of the finding of being labeled "terrorists," the men now face prison terms of fifty to one hundred years.

Yet plainly, these men are no terrorists, as I will explain below. Instead, defense attorneys have made a convincing case that the men were indicted and convicted primarily because they are Muslims.

Even the Government Did Not Initially See This as a Terrorism Case

You need not take my word for the fact that these men weren't terrorists. Take the government's word, instead.

According to a report in a June 28, 2003 Washington Post article, Michael E. Rolince, in charge of the Washington FBI field office, conceded that the government had no evidence of specific plots against U.S. targets at home or abroad. "A lot of this is about preemption," he said.

A lot? How about the entire case? And since when is "preemptive" prosecution constitutional? Apparently, when you are a Muslim in post-September 11-America.

The government did not initially charge these men with terrorism. Instead, the government charged the three men, along with eight others, with conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Acts -- obscure, longstanding, yet rarely-enforced laws that make it a crime for Americans to attack countries with which the United States itself is at peace.

The basis for these charges was that all eleven men were, in the past, supporters of Lashkar-i-Taiba -- an Islamic group that would like to oust India from Kashmir, and that has been accused by India of mass killings of Sikhs, and of partial responsibility for a December 2001 attack on India's Parliament.

In late 2001, the U.S. declared Lashkar-i-Taiba a terrorist organization. However, at the time the eleven men were alleged to have plotted to support the group, the organization was not yet on the list.

Nor did the men "attack" anyone, or any country -- as the Neutrality Act requires. Instead, prosecutors alleged that they played paintball, and fired legally owned firearms in the Virginia countryside, in order to prepare to someday help Lashkar-i-Taiba if necessary. (Two of the men also admitted to being in a training camp in Pakistan, and one of said he helped to recruit others to join in support of Lashkar-i-Taiba. But again, these activities preceded Lashkar-i-Taiba's designation as a terrorist organization.)

Prosecutors called these activities "paramilitary training" and "preparation for violent jihad" -- although both playing paintball and firing a gun are perfectly legal in Virginia.

To shoehorn these facts into a Neutrality Act prosecution, the prosecution also had to insinuate that this "training," alone, was in effect an attack on India. Indeed, the government's whole case was based on speculation that these men might someday go to fight on the side of Pakistan -- ironically, an American ally. That's a far cry from actually going right now to fight for a U.S. foe -- the kind of conduct the Neutrality Act seeks to punish.

Plainly, the Neutrality Act charges were not strong. After all, the Neutrality Act generally allows prosecutions of Americans who go to war to fight against American allies -- not Virginians who play paintball and politics in their own backyards, imagining they may someday aid a political organization they support.

The Terrorism Charges Were a Coercive Plea Bargaining Tactic

Perhaps realizing the weakness of the Neutrality Act charges, the government offered three-to-eleven-year sentences to the 11 men, if they would plead guilty. Of course, these are hardly the harsh sentence we would expect the Bush Administration to mete out to true terrorists.

Unsurprisingly, four of the 11 pled guilty early on. Even innocent persons may rationally choose a three-year prison term over the chance of a 50-year sentence. And Muslims, after September 11, may have seen a 50-year sentence as a certainty.

The remaining seven men were then the subjects of superseding indictments in which new charges of conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism were added. And this was not terrorism by Lashkar-i-Taiba, but terrorism by the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Such charges, of course, made it even less likely that the seven men could receive a fair trial -- especially in the conservative Eastern District of Virginia. So, not surprisingly, two more men -- including the two who actually went to the training camp -- pled guilty shortly after the superseding indictments were handed down. For their cooperation, they too received promises of sentences of 3 to 11 years.

That left five men. Charges against two were completely dropped. Three insisted on going to trial -- the three that were just convicted by Judge Brinkema.

Why did these three Americans insist on going to trial? My guess is that they were innocent. Why else would they fight what they knew to be an uphill battle, at great risk, rather than accept a few-year plea bargain, as others in a similar situation had done?

Discriminatory Prosecutions

Consider the following hypotheticals: Would Irish Americans who played paintball and played with guns in order to support the IRA have been similarly treated?

What about Jewish Americans who played paintball and engaged in target practice to train to support the Israeli army's actions in the Palestinian territories?

And even if these Irish and Jewish Americans were charged, would anyone possibly suggest that they were terrorists who might someday attack the United States as well?

Judge Brinkema suggested exactly this with respect to the three Muslim American defendants. She said she believed that those convicted might someday take up arms against the United States.

Yet the defendants' only proven animosity--if any -- was toward India, over its actions in Kashmir. There was no evidence to support the claim that they had any political animosity toward the U.S. -- let alone that they would ever violently attack their own country.

A Prejudiced Verdict? Using Religious Belief As a Sword Against Defendants.

The evidence against the three men came from three basic sources, all of which are troubling.

One source was the testimony of their co-defendants who had pled guilty in exchange for light sentences, based on their willingness to give this very testimony. Again, these co-defendants had been under tremendous pressure to take these plea bargains, regardless of their own guilt or innocence -- and to testify in support of the government, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the men they were testifying against. Can testimony be truly credible when it is given in exchange for freedom?

Another source was the three men's political beliefs: They thought India ought to get out of Kashmir, and said as much. But of course, that was their right, as Americans protected by the First Amendment's free speech clause.

Another source was the three men's place of worship. They attended a Virginia mosque in which the Kashmir issue was discussed, and India's actions criticized. But of course, that was their right, as Americans protected by the First Amendment's free exercise clause.

Three tainted sources of evidence led to three convictions.

Obviously, the government does not -- and cannot -- prosecute every supporter of a cause of which it does not approve. But Muslims today are easy targets. The evidence suggests that these prosecutions and convictions were motivated by discrimination and a desire to send a message to Muslims, not out of concern for national security or justice.

The evidence also suggests that the three men who exercised their right to a trial will serve long prison terms--what in effect will be life sentences--not for their actions, but rather for their insistence on exercising that constitutional rights.

The prosecutorial strategy of "Plead guilty or be labeled a terrorist" is coercive, and wrong for our government to employ in any case, terrorism or no terrorism.


Posted by shereen at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

Another Video--This One's Funny!!

for those who don't get a 'smooth' video the first time, just replay for a 2nd round:


Posted by shereen at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

Nickelodeon Kids' News: Muslim Kids in the U.S. =:D
Posted on Sat, Mar. 27, 2004

American Muslim youth get a hearing

By Mike Duffy

Knight Ridder News Service

American Muslim children have been caught in the middle of the emotional aftermath of 9/11 and during the continued violent strife in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel.

"It is easier to fear what you don't know. And most of us don't know much about Muslims or the Islamic faith," Linda Ellerbee says in her calm, down-to-earth manner as she hosts "Keeping Faith: Muslim Kids in America" at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow on Nickelodeon.

It's the veteran journalist's latest Nick News With Linda Ellerbee special. The award-winning series is the longest-running children's news show in TV history.

In the last 13 years, Ellerbee's Nick News specials have addressed such events as the 9/11 attacks, the 2000 presidential election, the Columbine slayings, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, AIDS, and the Balkans war.

"Keeping Faith" echoes the straightforward and respectful tone of the previous specials. The casually dressed Ellerbee hosts the program while surrounded by a diverse group of young Muslims, who discuss what it's like growing up in America these days.

One schoolgirl recounts having heard taunts of "Go back to your own country!" in the months following 9/11 attacks.

"This is my country. I was born here," says the young girl. "I'm Arab American."

In addition to the lively, sometimes revealing thoughts of the young Muslims, the program offers a clear primer on the Islamic faith and its practices. It also explores key misconceptions about Muslims.

"The United States Constitution guarantees us the freedom to worship," Ellerbee observes near the conclusion of the half-hour program. "The right to be respected, to be treated with kindness, to be understood, no matter what your religion, is not in the Constitution.

"But it is in us."


Posted by shereen at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

"Psychic Claims to See Bomb..."

does anyone remember how nancy reagan used a psychic to run president reagan's official business??!!: =:(
Posted 3/27/2004 11:50 AM

Psychic claims to see bomb; feds search and delay plane

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A self-described psychic's tip that a bomb might be on a plane prompted a search with bomb-sniffing dogs that turned up nothing suspicious, but forced the cancelation of the flight.
American Airlines Flight 1304 at Southwest Florida International Airport was canceled Friday because some crew members had exceeded their work hours by the time the search was finished, officials said.

The purported psychic's call was "unusual," conceded Doug Perkins, local administrator for the federal Transportation Security Administration director.

"But in these times, we can't ignore anything. We want to take the appropriate measures," he said.

None of the 128 passengers had boarded yet for the flight to Dallas when the search was ordered, Perkins said.

TSA officials wouldn't say who the call came from or who received it.

The passengers were placed on later flights, American Airlines officials said.


Posted by shereen at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

GREAT Video!!!! =:)



Posted by shereen at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

"Israel Should Learn from Spain"...?

remember, uri avnery is an israeli jew--and a very proud one at that! (no "self-haters" here):

Throw Out Leaders Who Bring Violence

By Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom
Tel Aviv, Israel
March 20, 2004

Bravo, Amigos!
A Prime Minister is waging war. The great majority of the people oppose the war. The majority vote for the Prime Minister.

Absurd? Well, that was the situation in Spain. It also applies, more or less, in Israel. But here the similarity ends.

The Spanish people have thrown their Prime Minister out. The Israeli people go on supporting their Prime Minister.

The Spaniards, in their innocence, believe that if a Prime Minister does the opposite of what the great majority of the people want, he has to go. They think that this is what democracy is all about. In Israel, such a thing is unthinkable.

And that is not the only difference.

Of course, the Spanish people arrived at this conclusion under the influence of the big terrorist attack in Madrid. The Spanish reaction was very different from the usual Israeli one.

After the terrorist onslaught, the Spanish asked themselves: why did they do it? What caused this murderous attack on us? The logical answer was: the Prime Minister's policy has brought this on us. The conclusion: Let's find another one.

In Israel, such a question cannot arise. What brought the terrorist attacks on us? What sort of a question is that? The reason for terrorism is the inborn murderous character of the Arabs. It has, of course, nothing at all to do with the policy of our Prime Minister.

When a terrorist outrage happens here, logic flies out of the window. Instead of thinking and asking questions, people shout "death to the Arabs," demand bloody revenge and gather around the Prime Minister.

Another difference: the Spaniards got angry. The Prime Minister lied to them. He exploited the outrage for his election campaign. When he already knew that all the signs pointed to Islamic fanatics, he pretended in public that the attack was perpetrated by the Basque ETA organization. He hoped to garner the votes of those Spaniards who oppose an independent Basque homeland. But the voters understood that this was a lie and did not like it. The Prime Minister is lying to us? To hell with him.

In Israel, when the Prime Minister lies, the public remains apathetic. The Prime Minister has lied to us again? So what? Isn't he always lying? Nothing to get upset about.

One can only envy the Spanish. After a horrible civil war, after decades of an oppressive dictatorship, in spite of domestic splits and many terrorist attacks, what a healthy reaction! What strong democratic instincts!

(By the way: some 500 years ago, half a million Jews were expelled from Spain. In the last decades, almost all the 'sephardim'—Sepharad is the Hebrew name for Spain—came to Israel. The great majority of them support Ariel Sharon. Why do the "Spanish" Jews in Israel react differently from the Spanish people back home?)

There is another difference between Spain and Israel, and it may be the decisive one.

Last year I visited Spain. Some days before I arrived, the Prime Minister's party had won an impressive victory in the local elections. The opposition Socialist Party was lying flat out. Everybody spoke of it with contempt, some with pain. The party was in ruins, perhaps beyond redemption.

And then it happened: the party replaced its old leaders with an energetic, fresh one, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. With a lot of luck, this man has now led his party to power.

When the Spanish people were fed up with their Prime Minister, they knew that there was a reasonable alternative. They could throw the ruling party out because there was another party ready to move in.

In Israel, these conditions do not apply. Our leading opposition party, Labor, is also a shambles, but there is no sign of recovery. Quite the contrary.

It is headed by a pathetic person who would make a deal with the devil for a place in Sharon's government. Its other old leaders, all of them certified failures, are already quarrelling about the chairs that Sharon may allot them, should he be so kind as to invite them into his cabinet.

The Israeli situation is surreal: according to all opinion polls, a large part of the public is fed up with the war, the bloody cycle of suicide bombings and targeted assassinations, the settlements and the settlers. They want a solution and are ready to pay the necessary price—the end of the occupation, a Palestinian state, the dismantling of the settlements, a reasonable compromise about Jerusalem, withdrawal to the vicinity of the Green Line. They want to shift our national resources from occupation and war to economic growth, education and social welfare.

So how does this translate into political realities? It doesn't. There is no serious political force able to offer an alternative leadership.

In Spain that was a temporary situation, which corrected itself in a natural way. In Israel, this situation seems to be permanent.

Therefore, one can not only envy the Spanish, but also learn from them. The political ball is round. It can turn suddenly. What seems to be impossible can become possible if there are good people around, who can convert good intentions into political reality.

I hope that this will happen here, too. True, some people are already standing in line—Tony Blair and George W. Bush. What has happened to Jose Maria Aznar in Spain must happen to them, and I hope that it will. Then, with a lot of courage and a lot of luck, the turn of the fourth in the queue will come, and Ariel Sharon, another man of blood and lies, will be turned out.

In the meantime we salute our friends at the other end of the Mediterranean Sea—Bravo, amigos!


Posted by shereen at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

Maine: Anti-U.S. "Patriot" Act


Joshua L. Weinstein, Portland Press Herald, 3/24/04

The Legislature passed a resolution raising concerns about the USA Patriot
Act Tuesday, making Maine the fourth state to officially question the
anti-terrorism law.

Maine's resolution - passed by the House without a roll call vote on Friday
and by the Senate on a largely party-line vote of 18-15 Tuesday - asks
Congress to review the act and ensure that future laws "do not infringe on
Americans' civil rights and liberties."

It also asks Maine's congressional delegation to work to repeal sections of
the act that infringe "upon fundamental rights and liberties as recognized
in the United States Constitution."

The resolution is nonbinding and does not require the governor's signature.

The Patriot Act , which Congress passed only weeks after the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, comes up for renewal in 2005. President Bush has
said he would like Congress to renew the law without changes.

U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat who represents Maine's 1st Congressional
District, said that the "sunset provision" of the law - a mechanism that
makes the law expire if it is not renewed - was key in passing it...


Posted by shereen at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

Christians-Muslims: Anti-Alcohol

this article is NOT for the drinkers on my list: =;)


Chicago Tribune, 3/26/04,1,1869430.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed

PLAINFIELD, Ind. - American followers of Islam, which forbids all
consumption of alcohol, are working with a veteran, Christian-based
temperance group to fight against drinking.

The Islamic Society of North America, representing 300 Islamic
organizations, last year joined the National Temperance and Prohibition
Council, forming a partnership with 14 Christian groups.

At the council's annual meeting in Plainfield, Rev. Allen Rice of the
Michigan Interfaith Council on Alcohol Problems, said, "Getting the
attention of millions of Muslims in America is a powerful boost for us.

The council meeting issued 10 resolutions, including a call for reduction
of alcohol in medications and opposition to TV ads that promote alcohol
consumption by youths.


Posted by shereen at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

Et tu, Italy? <:|


Aidan Lewis, Associated Press, 3/25/04
After France, headscarf issue causes ripples in Italy

ROME (AP) - The debate over headscarves that divided France has reached Italy, with a kindergarten asking a Muslim trainee teacher to remove her headscarf because it might frighten children.

The case has made headlines here and prompted debate among politicians and church officials over the role of Muslims in this predominantly Catholic country, just months after a Muslim activist went to court to have a crucifix removed from his son's public school classroom.

The issue arose last week when a private kindergarten in Samone, in northern Italy, voiced concern about the headscarf worn by a prospective intern, Moroccan-born Fatima Mouyache, who was being placed by a teacher training service.

The Miele & Cri-Cri kindergarten said it had agreed to accommodate Mouyache's schedule of daily prayers, but asked the training service if she would be willing to remove her headscarf. The school said it feared it might frighten the students.

In a statement sent to media organizations, the kindergarten said it wasn't acting out of prejudice but merely to avoid "the negative reaction of the children who aren't used to seeing this type of dress" and the possibility that parents might be uncomfortable with it.

In an interview Thursday in the Rome daily La Repubblica, Mouyache said she couldn't understand how the veil, which covers her hair but not her face, could frighten anyone.

If it did make children afraid, she said she could be flexible: "In front of women and children, I can take it off," she said.

After the story was publicized, the town council in nearby Ivrea offered Mouyache a position in another kindergarten and she accepted.

"We decided to offer her a position at the nursery in Ivrea to complete her training, with or without the veil, just as she likes," Andrea Benedino, a municipal official in Ivrea, said.

While saying many Samone parents agreed with the school's position, Benedino said he too didn't understand how the veil could frighten children, noting it was similar to those worn by Catholic nuns.

Italy is officially secular, but largely Roman Catholic.

The Mouyache case was the first one publicized in Italy. It follows last month's vote by France's lower house of parliament to ban students from wearing Islamic head scarves and other religious apparel in public schools.

The French government argued the law was needed to protect France's secular traditions and ward off rising Islamic fundamentalism; critics said it would inflame anti-French feelings among France's large Muslim minority.

Most politicians in Italy's center-right governing coalition have criticized the school and called for tolerance.

"The Muslim veil, worn with dignity and without ostentation, is a harmless symbol of cultural and religious identity that deserves our full respect," Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said.

But the Northern League, an ally in Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government known for its xenophobia, has spoken out against the veil.

"If someone comes from the jungle and is used to going around dressed like Tarzan, they can do it there, but not here," Northern League senator Roberto Calderoli said.

The Northern League has recently taken up another issue concerning Islam, pushing for a law that would require referendums on requests to build mosques in Italy. The party contends Islamic culture is "historically antithetical" to Italian culture.

Confronted with such positions, even Vatican officials have chimed into the debate. Cardinal Julian Herranz, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, told Repubblica on Thursday the issue went beyond whether someone is allowed to wear a headscarf.

"Everybody must be allowed to freely profess their own faith, according to their own conscience, their own traditions," he said.


Posted by shereen at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2004

"Enduring Bases" in Iraq

did the u.s. invade iraq to get out of saudi...?...:


Christine Spolar, Chicago Tribune, 3/23/04

Last year, as troops poured over the Kuwait border to invade Iraq (news -
web sites), the U.S. military set up at least 120 forward operating bases.
Then came hundreds of expeditionary and temporary bases that were to last
between six months and a year for tactical operations while providing
soldiers with such comforts as e-mail and Internet access.

Now U.S. engineers are focusing on constructing 14 "enduring bases,"
long-term encampments for the thousands of American troops expected to
serve in Iraq for at least two years. The bases also would be key outposts
for Bush administration policy advisers.

As the U.S. scales back its military presence in Saudi Arabia, Iraq
provides an option for an administration eager to maintain a robust
military presence in the Middle East and intent on a muscular approach to
seeding democracy in the region. The number of U.S. military personnel in
Iraq, between 105,000 and 110,000, is expected to remain unchanged through
2006, according to military planners.

"Is this a swap for the Saudi bases?" asked Army Brig. Gen. Robert Pollman,
chief engineer for base construction in Iraq. "I don't know. present
operation, not in terms of America's global strategic base. But this makes
sense. It makes a lot of logical sense."

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy chief of operations for the coalition in
Iraq, said the military engineers are trying to prepare for any eventuality...


Posted by shereen at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2004

Gorbachev Talk: I Attended!!! =:D




well, you get the idea. =:D =:D =:D apparently, he was here in the u.s. last year on a talking tour. if you get a chance, don't miss him--what a great statesman!! =:D =:) <:)

gorbachev's talk was sponsored and hosted by the 'uci citizen peace building program':


A casualty to a distant General is murder when it's your daughter.

citizen peace building

What is the Citizen Peacebuilding Program at the University of California, Irvine?

You can help prevent violent conflict, promote reconciliation and encourage peace. At the Citizen Peacebuilding Program, we believe in the power of the individual to make a safer world. We're an international clearinghouse for research, education and action on peace processes, with hands-on experience in grassroots efforts in troubled communities from Los Angeles to Northern Ireland, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. We're working to build peace around the globe as well as within our own neighborhoods.

If you'd like to help, start by visiting our web site at .

citizen peace building


Posted by shereen at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

Uhm, This Guy's a Bit Concerned, to Say the Least...

Peering into the Abyss
William J. Thomson, Ph.D.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
March 23, 2004

It is impossible to imagine a more provocative act than yesterday’s assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin by Ariel Sharon’s government.

The response to this action is absolutely predictable and well understood by Mr. Sharon, and it is totally consistent with his policies and actions over the past several decades.

I believe that this brutal killing is the major escalation that will ultimately lead to an attempt by Mr. Sharon to kill or forcibly expel the majority of Palestinians from historic Palestine.

Many military campaigns begin with a feint, and clearly Mr. Sharon’s February statement to unilaterally evacuate Gaza may be seen in that light. To raise a glimmer of cautious hope among a humiliated and repressed Palestinian population, and then to crush it by brutally assassinating the single person who many Palestinian! s, especially those in Gaza, recognize as THE symbol of their struggle, virtually guarantees the violent Palestinian response that Mr. Sharon will use as the justification for ethnic cleansing.

It did not have to be thus. Repeated overtures by the Arab League, leading Palestinians and even Sheik Yassin himself offered significant concessions to Israel as a basis for a peaceful and just resolution to this struggle. Many years ago I received assurances from significant figures in HAMAS that a resolution of the conflict similar to that proposed a year ago by the Arab League would lead to settlement. Yet Mr. Sharon and a majority of the Israeli public consistently dismissed these overtures in the most derisive terms.

Faced with ageing and charges of political corruption, but most importantly recognizing the demographic reality of a majority Palestinian population in Israel/Palestine within a few years, Mr. Sharon has chosen to fight the ba! ttle now, on his terms, rather than allow even the possibility! of a ne gotiated settlement. To not recognize Mr. Sharon’s genocidal plan, and his ruthless repression of those who have toiled with nonviolence to provide an alternative vision, is simply pathological denial.

And what of America in this process? It is naive in the extreme to assume that we will emerge unscathed from this coming conflict, and I hold the American political and Jewish establishment to be primarily responsible for any actions directed at American citizens. I know that I will be labeled anti-Semitic for this statement (as have all of us who have in some way placed our bodies on the line to help resolve this conflict), but there comes a time when it is crucial to speak truth to power. Without the unstinting support of the American Jewish establishment and its stranglehold on the American political process in all matters involving Israel, the decades-old occupation of Palestine and the humiliation of its people could not have occurred. ! Let me be perfectly clear--the efforts of AIPAC and its supporting American Jewish establishment (including those who could, but have neglected, to thwart this process), and the craven thirst for power of American political figures who allow themselves to be manipulated by this body, will ultimately be held accountable for their actions, with consequences too horrible to contemplate.

Can anything be done at this point to prevent this catastrophe? Can Palestinians restrain their humiliated compatriots who are calling for violent revenge? Can moderate Israelis and American Jews find the strength to confront their own self-destructive establishment? Can American politicians and Mr. Bush summon sufficient courage and foresight to deal with the issue? And can American citizens do anything other than sit idly by?

Sadly, I think not. The bullet has been fired--can it yet be deflected?


Posted by shereen at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

Editorials/Opinion on Yassin's Assassination

New York Times, 3/23/04

The Israeli military's killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader
of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, is one of those pivotal events
around which passions and hatreds coalesce. The Israeli government will
defend the killing, while Palestinians plot revenge. It's always so. But
the Bush administration must resist the temptation to simply issue a mild
rebuke and call for restraint - it needs to do more.

Hamas has never accepted peace with Israel, and while Sheik Yassin was the
group's spiritual leader, Israel accused him of responsibility for numerous
terrorist attacks. Still, it's hard to see how his martyrdom will make
Israel any safer. Hamas will now redouble its efforts to send human
torpedos into Israel. The Palestinian Authority will be even less inclined
to confront terrorists in its midst and less able to coax Hamas into
observing a cease-fire. Moderate Arabs everywhere have been reacting with
dismay and despair to Sheik Yassin's killing. The U.S. war on terrorism may
also suffer as moderate Arab leaders feel compelled to distance themselves
further from Washington.

One of Israel's most firmly held policies has always been that as a small
Jewish state, it can never appear weak and must never shy away from hitting
its enemies, no matter how politically inopportune this may be. Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon is perhaps the most inflexible Israeli advocate of
the policy of an unflinching fist, but it has also been embraced by the
most dovish of Israeli leaders.

Ultimately, any argument that the assassination was "worth it" is
undermined by the fact that both sides will sink deeper into their separate
passions. The hard, tragic truth is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
is locked in a cycle of violence in which assassinations, suicide bombings
and mutual demonization seem destined only to grow, feeding the sense of
victimhood that is consuming both the Jewish state and any future
Palestinian state...


Washington Post, 3/22/04

ISRAEL'S ASSASSINATION of the founder and senior leader of Hamas, Sheik
Ahmed Yassin, is part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's attempt to radically
reshape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- an initiative that is looking
as reckless as it is bold. Mr. Sharon's intention is to scrap a decade of
the "peace process" aimed at a negotiated permanent settlement between
Israelis and Palestinians, and instead to impose a "long-term interim"
solution in which Israel would retreat behind a fortified border of its own
choosing. That would involve an evacuation of Israelis from most or all of
the Gaza Strip, and Mr. Sharon has recently faced objections that such a
withdrawal could leave Hamas in charge, or at least allow the extremist
Islamic movement to boast that its suicide bombings had driven Israel out.
With the killing of Sheik Yassin, an operation he supervised personally,
Mr. Sharon probably hoped to neutralize these problems even while
eliminating one of Israel's most implacable enemies.

Though he was wheelchair-bound and nearly blind, Sheik Yassin rightly could
be held responsible for a campaign of terrorism that has killed 377
Israelis and wounded more than 2,000 in the past 31/2 years alone. But even
in the short term -- Mr. Sharon's usual focus -- the strike against him was
risky. The storm of outrage among Palestinians yesterday will almost
certainly be followed by an all-out effort by Hamas, and possibly other
groups, to kill Israelis; history suggests that some suicide bombers will
get through. Egypt and other Arab states may abandon efforts to build up
Palestinian security forces and encourage a crackdown on terrorist groups,
at least in the short term. Hamas may end up strengthening its position in
Gaza, where Sheik Yassin now will be revered as a martyr...


Sherri Muzher, Reuters, 3/23/04

(Sherri Muzher is a media analyst in Mason, Mich.)

As an American of Palestinian descent and Christian faith, I never cared
much for the ultimate goal of Hamas: to establish a religious state in

But I find myself angered and baffled at Israel's decision to assassinate
Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

What is even more baffling is the U.S. response, especially since its close
ally, Ariel Sharon, personally commanded this extrajudicial killing.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said on NBC's Today that "it is
very important that everyone step back now and try now to be calm in the
region. There is always a possibility of a better day in the Middle East,
and some of the things being talked about by the Israelis... might provide
new opportunities."

So the good ideas will come from Israel, which just assassinated Yassin? I
read that as implying that if Palestinians react, they will be held
responsible for any fallout. Unbelievable.

One thing is certain about the killing of the blind and quadriplegic
Yassin: A peace agreement that once seemed unlikely now seems unreachable
in the near future. Sharon is not stupid; his government expects
retaliation. And the Israeli Defense Force will use that retaliation as an
excuse to kill more Palestinians. It is a script that has played itself out
for the last 31/2 years...


Posted by shereen at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

N.Y. Councilman to Publicly Support Chaplain Yee


(NEW YORK, NY, 3/23/04) - On Wednesday, March 24, New York City Council
Member John Liu will hold a press conference in support of Muslim Army
Chaplain James (Yousef) Yee. Council Member Liu, joined by James Yee's
family, fellow city council members, the Justice for James Yee ­ East Coast
Committee, and the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR-NY), will use the press conference as an opportunity to
raise awareness about Chaplain James Yee, and the larger issues of the loss
of civil liberties post 9/11.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 24 at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: City Hall Steps, New York, NY
CONTACT: CAIR-NY, Firdos Abdul-Munim, (212) 870-2002, 347-277-4061,

Yee, was arrested on suspicion of espionage on September 10, 2003, after
working as a chaplain in Guantanamo Bay. He spent 76 days in solitary
confinement, and was later released on November 25, 2003. After the
postponement of a hearing by the US Army on five different occasions, the
criminal charges against Yee were dropped on March 20, 2004.


Posted by shereen at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

Jesus Ad


(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/23/04) - The Southern California office of the Council
on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today announced the publication of
an advertisement in local newspapers highlighting Muslim respect for Jesus.


The ad, headlined "More In Common Than You Think," features a photograph of
the Old City of Jerusalem and text reading:

"''Behold (O Mary!)' The Angel said, 'God has chosen you, and purified you,
and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good
news of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Christ (Masih or Messiah),
Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and in the hereafter, and one of
those brought near to God.' (Holy Qur'an, 3:45)

"Like Christians, Muslims respect and revere Jesus. Islam teaches that
Jesus is one of the greatest of God's prophets and messengers to humankind.

"Like Christians, every day, over 1.3 billion Muslims strive to live by his
teachings of love, peace, and forgiveness. Those teachings, which have
become universal values, remind us that all of us, Christians, Muslims,
Jews, and all others have more in common than we think."

The ad is being published in five Orange County, Los Angeles-area and
Northern California community newspapers. It is an outgrowth of CAIR's
"Islam in America" advertising campaign.


CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in
Washington, D.C., and has 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and
in Canada.


Posted by shereen at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2004

"Left-Wing" Environmentalists...?... =:(

i think not:

March 19, 2004

UK wildlife vanishing

Dwindling populations of animals, insects, and plants spark fears of global extinction | By Catherine Brahic

Two studies published in Science this week paint a stark picture of declining biodiversity in Britain, with serious implications for world ecology. The first study provides strong evidence of shrinking plant, bird and butterfly populations in Britain. The second, on plant biodiversity, points a finger squarely at humankind.

The authors of the first study “tentatively suggest” their results support the hypothesis that world is facing the sixth major extinction in history.

“Evidence of a global extinction crisis has come into sharp focus with these important results from a team of top British scientists analyzing unparalleled datasets for birds, plants, and butterflies in Britain,” commented Mark Collins, director of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Centre, who was not involved in the studies.

Jeremy Thomas, of the British Natural Environment Research Council, and his colleagues compared six national biodiversity surveys. Together, the studies recruited over 20,000 volunteers to survey 1254 species of plants, 201 bird species, and 58 butterfly species. For each set, two surveys were carried out between 13 and 27 years apart.

Their comparison revealed population declines in all three groups. Twenty-eight percent of plant species declined over 40 years, 54% of bird species decreased over 20 years, and an astonishing 71% of butterfly species declined over 20 years. Among these, two species were present in the first survey, but not seen during the second.

Previous predictions that we could be heading to the sixth major species extinction have all been based on small numbers of species, mostly birds and plants. The inclusion of butterflies in Thomas' survey is significant because insects make up 54% of the planet's fauna and flora.

“This has led many to suggest that insects would be more resilient to extinction,” said Sandy Knapp of the London Natural History Museum, who was not part of the studies. “The lesson and warning is there for all to see—we are poised on the verge of the sixth extinction crisis. Britain, by virtue of its well known, well studied biodiversity, is the canary for the rest of the globe.”

Thomas remained cautious, underlining that the comparative figures for Britain would have to carry over to global populations for the warning to hold true.

Also in Science this week is a study led by PhD student Carly Stevens of The Open University. This research indicates a clear and direct relation between the amount of nitrogen pollution in an ecosystem and the decline of that system's biodiversity.

Stevens and colleagues monitored 68 grasslands across Great Britain over 2 years. “In areas of high pollution,” she said, “the species richness is significantly lower than areas of low pollution. No other environmental variable could explain the observations so well.”

Together, the two studies make rather bleak reading. Scientists are uncertain what caused each of the past five extinctions, said Thomas, but most agree on physical factors such as asteroids, volcanic eruptions, and climate change. If human environmental pollution were the cause of the disappearance of all forms of life, it would be the first time that an “organic factor” had brought about a mass extinction.

Intensive livestock farming and fossil fuel combustion are the primary culprits for nitrogen pollution, said Stevens. “Nitrogen pollution has been a long-term problem in the UK, and the effects we are seeing are cumulative.”

Collins said that current efforts to preserve global biodiversity are undoubtedly falling short of what is needed, adding: “Inorganic nitrogen has now been recognized as a global problem—it's time to take some serious and coordinated action.”

Links for this article

J.A. Thomas et al., “Comparative losses of British butterflies, birds, and plants and the global extinction crisis,” Science, 303:1879-1881, March 19, 2004.

C.J. Stevens et al., “Impact of nitrogen deposition on the species richness of grasslands,” Science, 303:1876-1979, March 19, 2004.

United Nations Environmental Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Natural Environment Research Council

The Open University


Posted by shereen at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

Seattle Times Article: "Military Drops All Charges..."

Saturday, March 20, 2004 - Page updated at 12:46 A.M.

Military drops all charges against chaplain

By Ray Rivera and Ralph Thomas
Seattle Times staff reporters

The fading espionage case against Army Capt. James Yee, the Muslim chaplain who ministered to Guantánamo Bay prisoners, came to an abrupt end yesterday after the U.S. military dropped all charges against him.

In a surprise move, the Army dismissed allegations of mishandling classified information — the most serious offenses left in a case authorities once described as involving spying, mutiny, sedition and aiding the enemy.

"Chaplain Yee has won," said his lawyer, Eugene Fidell. "The Army's dismissal of the classified-information charges against him represents a long-overdue vindication.

"Yee is entitled to an apology."

Yee, who was stationed at Fort Lewis before Cuba's Guantánamo, was unavailable for comment yesterday, his lawyer said.

Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the Guantánamo commander, said he dropped the charges because of national-security concerns that would arise from the release of evidence in a court proceeding, according to a statement released by the U.S. Southern Command in Florida.

Miller made his decision after consulting with government lawyers and intelligence officials, the statement said.

The military also dropped criminal charges of violating military law by committing adultery and storing pornographic images on a government computer.

Just days ago, Yee's defense team had proposed a settlement that called for the Army to dismiss the more serious charges of mishandling classified information.

In return, Yee would agree to undergo a lie-detector test and have the charges of adultery and pornography tried through an Article 15 proceeding, the military's method for dealing with minor infractions.
Yesterday's actions were not a result of the settlement offer, according to Fidell.

The Army said yesterday it still would seek administrative sanctions against Yee on the adultery and pornography allegations. Such penalties are typically mild, and could include duty restrictions or a temporary pay cut.

Fidell rejected the idea that national-security concerns influenced the decision to drop the case.

Even if there were evidence that was classified, Yee's lawyers have the necessary clearances to review such material, Fidell said.

"The government's explanation, therefore, raises more questions than it answers."

Only a few days ago the government said it still was determining which documents in the case were classified as sensitive, he said.

Imam Mohamad Joban, a friend of Yee's who runs the Islamic Center of Olympia, cheered the news after learning of it from a reporter yesterday.

At last night's weekly prayer service, Joban paused and told his congregation, "I have some good news I want to give you."

"Allah-Hu-Akbar (God is great)," the congregation responded solemnly upon hearing the news.

Many of the 75 people at last night's service knew Yee from his time at Fort Lewis and continue to maintain a friendship with his wife, Huda Suboh, and the couple's 4-year-old daughter, Sarah, who live in Olympia.

"We had the feeling that the government had no case from the beginning," said Nabil Azouz, a friend.

Joban closed his announcement by noting that when Yee was arrested, it was national news, but when the charges were dropped, it was "only small news, no breaking news, no CNN, no NBC."

Yee was arrested on suspicion of espionage and sedition last Sept. 10 at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida as he arrived back in the United States from Guantánamo.

Federal agents said he was found with information on detainees, their interrogators, and the prison facilities at Guantánamo Bay, where he ministered to captured Taliban and al-Qaida suspects.

But even as he spent the next 76 days in solitary confinement in a Navy brig, the case against him began to erode.

He was released Nov. 25 after being charged with six considerably lesser offenses, including making a false official statement, mishandling classified documents and the new charges of adultery and storing pornography, which investigators said they discovered during their investigation.

He was never charged with any of the more serious espionage-related offenses.

At a hearing to determine whether he should be held for a court-martial, the U.S. Customs agent who searched Yee's backpack at the Florida airport said he had found two pocket-size notebooks, a paper on Syria and a typed list of names and numbers with the top torn off.

Fidell said the military has never said which of the documents were classified, and some of the documents termed suspicious included research materials for a graduate course Yee was taking on Middle East politics — a course being paid for by the U.S. Army.

"It would be tempting to call this a comedy of errors, but there's nothing comic about putting an officer in solitary confinement for 76 days," Fidell said.

Yee, a 1990 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was raised a Lutheran in New Jersey. He converted to Islam while in the Army at about the same time he served in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 Gulf War.

His arrest gained national attention. Some saw it as symptomatic of security breaches at Guantánamo Bay, where 660 prisoners from 44 countries are being held.

Yee was one of four people, including an Army colonel and two Arabic translators, charged with breaches at the base. The charges against the other three are pending.

Others saw Yee, who also goes by the name Yousef Yee, as a victim of racial and anti-Muslim targeting by the government.

One of a handful of Muslim chaplains in the armed services, Yee had become one of the most visible spokesmen for Muslims in the military after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, calling for tolerance in the ranks and insisting that Islam was a religion of peace.

The Army said Yee, who is currently stationed at Fort Mead, Md., will be returned to his duty station at Fort Lewis at the conclusion of any Article 15 hearings.

His future in the military is uncertain. Fidell previously had said that he wondered "how Yousef will ever be able to shake off the stigma of being publicly branded in such horrific terms."

Fidell said there is no legal recourse for Yee to sue the government for damage to his name and his time spent in jail.

"The recourse is in the court of public opinion," Fidell said. "And I think the American people's sense of justice has been very much on display in this case. The breadth and intensity of public and private support has been extraordinary and extremely touching for him."


Posted by shereen at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2004

Cindy Corrie: Seeking Answers from Israel

Seeking answers from Israel

By Cindy Corrie, 3/18/2004

A YEAR AGO this week, my daughter Rachel Corrie was killed in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. She was run over by an Israeli bulldozer manned by two soldiers. The Israeli government exonerated the soldiers, closed the case, and refuses to release to the US government the complete report on the military police investigation into Rachel's killing.

Only the "conclusions" of the report have been released. In them, the soldiers are identified by their initials: Sergeant Y.F. and Sergeant E.V. Their initials are nearly all we know of them. I wonder about Y.F. and E.V. I wonder whether they will pause this week and remember.

Rachel was an unarmed peace activist trying to prevent the demolition of the home of a Palestinian pharmacist, his wife, and three children. She believed that nonviolent direct action against the Israeli occupation would make Palestinians, and also Israelis and Americans, more secure. Rachel stood there to protect a home and family in Gaza because the United States and Israel rejected a UN proposal to send international human rights monitors there. International activists went instead. Rachel stood there protesting illegal home demolitions that the United States opposes on the record yet fails to stop -- destruction that we support with billions in annual military aid to Israel for bulldozers, Apache helicopters, F-16s, and more.

Rachel wrote to me from Rafah: "This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don't think it's an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop."

On March 17, 2003, President Bush spoke with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about Rachel's killing. Sharon assured Bush that the Israeli government would undertake a "thorough, credible, and transparent investigation" and would report the results to the United States.

On March 19, 2003, Richard Boucher, spokesman for the State Department, noted in reference to Rachel: "When we have the death of an American citizen, we want to see it fully investigated. That is one of our key responsibilities overseas, to look after the welfare of American citizens and to find out what happened in situations like these."

In Congress, Representative Brian Baird of Washington state introduced a bill calling on the US government to "undertake a full, fair, and expeditious investigation into the death of Rachel Corrie." Others warned that passage was unlikely because of strong sentiment in Congress to avoid any legislation that appears critical of Israel. Nevertheless, 56 House members have signed the bill.

Despite promises of a transparent investigation, only two American Embassy staff members in Tel Aviv and my husband and I were allowed to "view" the full document. While it refers to evidence gathered by the Israeli military police, no primary evidence is included. Commenting on the report on July 1, 2003, Richard LeBaron, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission in Tel Aviv, stated, "there are several inconsistencies worthy of note."

For our family, the report raises questions and fails to reconcile differences between Israeli soldiers who say they could not see Rachel and seven international eyewitnesses who say she was clearly visible. Despite lingering concerns, there has been no move by the White House, the State Department, or the Justice Department to initiate a US investigation. Some ask if a precedent exists for investigating in another country without being "invited." The Israeli government has apparently not extended such an invitation.

The London Metropolitan Police, however, are now conducting inquests into the deaths in Rafah of British nationals Tom Hurndall and James Miller. In a seven-week period in 2003, Tom, James, and Rachel were all struck down in the same area, where the Israel Defense Forces are building a high steel wall and demolishing Palestinian homes. Remarkably, the London police recently transferred the Hurndall and Miller cases to one coroner, reasoning that a series of similar deaths in a short time could indicate "a more complex systematic problem" within the Israeli military.

Our family continues to call for a US investigation into Rachel's death. As we wait, I still wonder about Y.F. and E.V. I wonder whether they, too, see images of Rachel lying before the bulldozer. I wonder whether they, too, are suffering, or whether March 16, 2003, was for them just another day on the job. I wonder.

Cindy Corrie, a former educator and music teacher, lives in Olympia, Wash.


Posted by shereen at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2004


i was told by an intern that today is officially "rachel corrie day" all over the nation (??) -- mayor of the city of santa cruz (california) publicly declared "rachel corrie day" for the city of santa cruz:


Women in Black Los Angeles, Palestine Aid Society and Co-Sponsors Invite
You to Join Us
Tuesday, March 16th to protest the murder of Rachel Corrie one year ago
and to carry on her work of opposing Israel's brutal 37-year military
occupation of Palestine.

Vigil in memory of the brutal murder of Rachel Corrie

When: Tuesday, March 16th, 4-6 PM
Where: Israeli Consulate, 6380 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

One year ago, 23 year old American Rachel Corrie was crushed to death
by an Israeli bulldozer as she stood in front of the home of a
Palestinian physician in Gaza. The home was due to be destroyed by the
4th largest military in the world, so it could build a sentry tower.

The Israeli government has bulldozed thousands of Palestinian homes
and businesses over the past three years, simply because it wants the
land. Rachel was trying to stop them from demolishing this one. She
was in full view of the driver, dressed in a fluorescent vest, with
only a bullhorn and her bravery to protect her.

The soldier ran over her, then left the Caterpillar bulldozer blade
down as he dragged it back over her body in full view of several
witnesses from the International Solidarity Movement. To date, no one
responsible for her murder has been charged or arrested. Instead, the
Israeli government has blamed Rachel, the victim, for her own murder.

Please join us in front of the consulate to remember Rachel Corrie and
carry on her work of opposing Israel's brutal 37-year military
occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Women in Black-Los Angeles, Palestine Aid Society, ADC LA/OC Chapter,
Al-Awda-Los Angeles, Cafe Intifada, Council on American-Islamic
Relations-So. Calif. (CAIR-LA), Free Palestine Alliance,
International Action Center, ISM-LA, L.A. Palestine Labor Solidarity
Committee, Middle East Peace Fellowship So. Calif., National Lawyer's
Guild-LA, Palestine Solidarity Committee, Palestinian American
Congress, Palestinian American Women's Association, Students for
Justice in Palestine-UCLA, Union of Palestinian American Women,
United Arab Students of UCLA, Writing Empowerment Project
For more information contact us at


Posted by shereen at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

Hans Blix: NPR Audio Interview

check it out, in case you missed it: interview)


Posted by shereen at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

Israeli "McDonald's" Trying to Deny Use of Arabic

ADC Letter to McDonald's on Ban on Arabic in Israeli Franchises

ADC Legal Advisor Kareem Shora today wrote a letter to Jim Cantalupo, Chief
Executive Officer of McDonald's Corporation, expressing the organization's
deep concern regarding an apparent ban on employees of McDonald's Israeli
franchisees speaking in Arabic.

ADC is concerned about a recent discrimination allegation against McDonald's,
in which McDonald's allegedly abruptly fired 20-year old Abeer Zinaty from a
restaurant in Ramle, Israel although she had given over two years of service
to the company during which she was awarded the title "Excellent Worker 2003."
Ms. Zinaty has alleged that McDonald's fired her for speaking Arabic, her
native language and an official language of the State of Israel, while working
at the Ramle restaurant.

ADC understands that the Israeli Labor, Welfare and Health Committee has
recently called upon McDonald's to act in accordance with the provisions of
Israeli employment law and not to discriminate against employees on the basis
of race, religion, nationality or language. Without reference to Ms. Zinaty's
specific allegations, as the matter is currently under investigation by the
Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, ADC wishes to address the
general issue of discrimination at hand.

Not only is McDonald's a U.S. corporation, it is a symbol of the United States
and the U.S. way of life to people around the world. When a case of
discrimination is alleged at a McDonald's franchise in a foreign country, it
reflects poorly upon the company and is inconsistent with American values.
Moreover, where a single alleged instance of discrimination at a McDonald's
restaurant is, in fact, a symptom of a discriminatory company policy or
practice, both the American corporation and the corporation's foreign
employees are shamed before the international community.

ADC has not been able to determine whether McDonald's in fact employs a policy
of prohibiting workers at its Israeli restaurants from speaking Arabic because
McDonald's officials have made contradictory statements regarding the matter.
Ms. Ariella Padan, Deputy to the Chairman of McDonald's Management in Israel,
has said that there is no prohibition against McDonald's employees speaking
Arabic. On the other hand, McDonald's Israeli Assistant Director General for
Human Resources, Ms. Talila Yodfat, wrote in a letter to Ms. Zinaty's attorney
dated January 27, 2004, "there is a directive known to all chain employees,
that the restaurant staff will speak, among themselves and with clients, only
in the Hebrew language."

ADC urges McDonald's to investigate what language policy, if any, is in
operation at its Israeli restaurants, and to make sure that any policies
adopted are consistent with the spirit of both U.S. and Israeli equal-
opportunity employment laws. We also urge McDonald's to insure that all of its
practices abroad reflect the American values of equality, tolerance and
diversity. ADC believes that a policy prohibiting McDonald's employees from
speaking Arabic on-the-job would be discriminatory and an affront to the
dignity of its numerous Arabic-speaking workers, franchises, and customers.


Posted by shereen at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2004

U.S. Soldiers Go AWOL


Michael Martinez, Chicago Tribune, 3/15/04

NEW YORK -- In Iraq last April, freshly promoted Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia
led squads of Florida National Guard soldiers in the fight against
insurgents in the deadly Sunni triangle.

But Mejia became increasingly pained by his war experiences, and when he
went on leave in the autumn, he decided not to come back. The staff
sergeant--one of about 600 soldiers counted as AWOL by the Army during home
leaves from Iraq--eventually was labeled a deserter.

Now, after five months in hiding, Mejia plans to surrender Monday in Boston
on the eve of the war's first anniversary, and he aims to become the first
Iraq war veteran to publicly challenge the morality and conduct of the
conflict. At a time when polls indicate that Americans' support for the war
is slipping, Mejia intends to seek conscientious-objector status to avoid a

In an interview with the Tribune, Mejia, 28, of Miami, said he found the
war and many of his combat orders morally questionable and ultimately
unacceptable. He has been living in New York and other Eastern cities,
traveling by bus instead of by plane or car to escape the attention of the
police and military. He has avoided using his credit cards and cell phone.

Mejia accuses commanders of using GIs as "bait" to lure out Iraqi fighters
so that U.S. soldiers could win combat decorations. He also says operations
were conducted in ways that sometimes risked injuring civilians. He has
accused his battalion and company commanders of incompetence and has
reiterated other guardsmen's complaints about being poorly equipped.

Those commanders, however, defended their conduct. His immediate commander
described Mejia as a poorly performing soldier who "lost his nerve" as
bloodshed intensified in one of Iraq's more violent cities, Ramadi.

Perhaps the turning point for Mejia was the day in Iraq when he was ordered
to shoot at Iraqis protesting and hurling grenades toward his position from
about 75 yards away, which he considered too far of a distance to be a real
threat. Mejia and his men opened fire on one, and he fell, his blood
pooling around him.

"It was the first time I had fired at a human being," Mejia recalled. "I
guess you could say it was my initiation at killing a human being. . . .
One thing I ask myself a lot, `Did I hit him?...'


Posted by shereen at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

U.S. Army: 'We Were Wrong to Investigate Civilians',1282,-3863915,00.html

Army Wrong to Ask for Islam Meeting Info

Monday March 15, 2004 7:31 PM

Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Army Intelligence and Security Command agents overstepped their authority when they sought information on civilian participants at a University of Texas conference on Islam, the Army said.

Two counterintelligence agents from Fort Hood, near Killeen, went to the university's law school on Feb. 9, seeking information on people who attended the conference, ``Islam and the Law: The Question of Sexism.''

The Army is prohibited from investigating civilians unless the FBI waives its jurisdiction or requests assistance, said Deborah Parker, a spokeswoman for the Army Intelligence and Security Command, based in Fort Belvoir, Va.

``It was a lapse in judgment,'' Parker said Monday. ``It was not something that was done maliciously.''

The conference, which had taken place the previous week, was open to the public. Conference organizers said they refused to give the agents a list of participants and a video of the event.

``It is inappropriate for us to invite the public and the student body to come and freely exchange ideas and then to turn around and relay their personal information to the intelligence community,'' Sahar Aziz, a UT law student, had said last month.

The organizers and civil rights activists accused the Army of spying on the conference and using investigation tactics meant to stifle free speech.

A statement from the Army issued Friday said that the agents were acting on a report by two Army lawyers who attended the conference. The lawyers reported suspicious behavior by a conference participant who persistently questioned their identity, occupation and status, the statement said.

Army rules require its members to report those types of suspicious incidents, Parker said.

But the Fort Hood detachment of the Intelligence and Security Command erred in investigating the incident without first reporting it to command headquarters in Virginia, she said.

The incident involved civilians, and officials at the command's headquarters would have reported it to the FBI, Parker said.

``This is where things went wrong,'' she said. ``The procedure required that the FBI be notified before taking action, and that notification wasn't made.''


Posted by shereen at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

The Suffering of Dr. Sami Al-Arian <:(

Muslim world watches as U.S. mistreats some prisoners

Monday, March 15, 2004

In Bernard Malamud’s masterpiece, The Fixer, inmate Yakov Bok was subjected to psychological torture in a Soviet gulag through the humiliations of constant shackling and repeated strip searches.

The story I read in middle school comes back to me as I learn more about the abusive and psychologically damaging treatment of Sami Al-Arian, a former professor of computer engineering at the University of South Florida, who is in federal prison on terrorism-related charges.

Denied bail and his right to a speedy trial, Al-Arian is being held in the Special Housing Unit of the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County, Fla. The unit is the prison’s disciplinary ward, typically reserved for uncontrollable prisoners who have attacked guards or other inmates.

Al-Arian shares a 7-by-13-foot cell with co-defendant Sameeh Hammoudeh. The amount of room violates the American Correctional Association guidelines. But in that space, they are warehoused for 23 hours a day, let out for an hour of recreation five times a week. But even then they are denied daylight. Their "recreation" cell is a cage adjacent to the cellblock, which is surrounded by a high wall and an opaque weather covering.

All done for their own safety, says the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

In a display of petty cruelty, whenever Al-Arian meets with his lawyers, the guards refuse to carry his legal documents. He is forced to walk bent over, with his hands shackled behind him, balancing the paperwork on his back. "Like an animal," said Linda Moreno, one of his lawyers.

After the meeting, he is strip-searched, sometimes with other prisoners and guards watching. But this is a step up. He used to be strip-searched after every noncontact visit from family, too. A federal magistrate put a stop to that.

These privations and indignities have caught the attention of Amnesty International. In July, the group wrote a letter to the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, calling the manner of Al-Arian’s confinement "unnecessarily punitive," charging that the "deprivations imposed on Dr. Al-Arian are inconsistent with international standards and treaties."

I appreciate that Al-Arian is decidedly unsympathetic. The 50-count indictment accuses him of heading the U.S. operations of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group responsible for murdering more than 100 people in Israel and its territories.

But Al-Arian is a pretrial detainee, presumed innocent, and he is being subjected to conditions of confinement so harsh and unjustified that there must be an ulterior motive. All signs point to a purposeful strategy by the Justice Department to break him down psychologically and make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to assist in his own defense.

This may help the government obtain a conviction, but it will inevitably prove counterproductive in advancing our national-security interests. Al-Arian is a wellknown Muslim figure, and his treatment by our criminal-justice system will be watched around the world — and the Muslim world in particular. What is being done to him is unworthy of our system and lays bare a hypocrisy: We preach great principles of justice, fair-dealing and respect for human dignity to Arab nations yet are willing to make the principles a pick-andchoose proposition in our own nation.

The bulk of the government’s case against Al-Arian and his co-defendants is contained in more than 20,000 hours of audio recordings, the result of several years worth of wiretapped phone conversations. Al-Arian, like any other defendant, was granted the right to listen to this evidence in order to participate in his own defense. But the prison has made a mockery of this, persistently delaying his efforts by failing to maintain his recording equipment in working order.

Earlier this month, Al-Arian’s cell was raided by guards wearing masks over their faces. Al-Arian’s attorney claims that hundreds of pages of the notes Al-Arian had prepared were confiscated. Prison officials did not respond to my inquiries on this episode.

This is the same sort of mistreatment faced by hundreds of immigrants swept up into detention facilities after 9/11. The Bush administration has determined that a different set of rules should apply to anyone suspected of aiding terrorism.

When I asked Andrew Patel, one of the attorneys for Jose Padilla, the American who is being held without charge as a potential terrorist, about the confinement conditions for his client, he said it’s a taboo subject. Patel said he was told not to discuss anything regarding conditions with Padilla.

The ban reminded me of a passage in The Fixer, when Bok is visited by his wife. "They forbade me to ask you any questions about your conditions in this prison," she lamented.

The thing Al-Arian, Hammoudeh, Padilla and Bok have in common is that they have suffered in confinement without having been convicted of any crime. Like the old Soviet system, for certain suspects, we punish first and do the trial later. Robyn Blumner writes for Tribune Media Services.


Posted by shereen at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2004

If This is Really Al-Qaeda...

then they have adopted a rule from their enemy's book: "ends justify the means"...that makes them just as wrong as their enemy--i wonder if they realize that?:
Posted 3/14/2004 11:33 PM

Violence, outrage, ouster: A new tack for al-Qaeda?

By Steven Komarow, USA TODAY

In American politics, it's called the October Surprise: a dramatic, last-minute event that swings the election into the hands of the incumbent president. In Spain, that surprise came seven months early, a terrorist attack that turned a near-certain win for a pro-U.S. government into a stunning defeat with potentially ominous repercussions.
On both sides of the Atlantic on Sunday, analysts were suggesting that the turnabout in Spain raises troubling questions for the global war on terrorism and future support for the war in Iraq, questions that eventually could reverberate back into the American political scene.

Europe's citizenry never bought President Bush's argument that Iraq was a terrorist nation. Leaders such as Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar dared to support Bush and buck that opposition — in Spain's case up to 90%.

Now many inevitably will wonder whether events in Spain send a signal: that world leaders back Bush at their political peril or at the peril of their citizens.

"This event rivals 9/11 in terms of a victory for al-Qaeda," says homeland security consultant Randall Larsen. "They just influenced an election. That's a frightening development because it's only going to encourage them."

"It's not that we'll lose political support for a war that's already pretty unpopular," adds Michael O'Hanlon, foreign policy and defense expert at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. "What's truly troubling is that this may be seen as a model by al-Qaeda and they may try to test it to see other countries' resolve."

Friendship a liability?

It's still too early to say that last Thursday's horrific bombings are surely linked to al-Qaeda and not domestic terrorists, or that they directly caused the loss for Aznar's Popular Party. But terrorists and many of their victims will clearly make those links. Whether that will be enough to fracture alliances is uncertain.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, appearing Sunday on ABC's This Week, expressed the administration's position that terrorist attacks should draw Western nations closer together.

"I hope that Europeans will now see that no one is immune, and no system of transportation is immune," he said. "And I hope this will cause Europeans to rededicate themselves to going after terrorist organizations. Terrorist organizations, whether it's (the Basque region separatist group) ETA or whether it's al-Qaeda, are a threat to all civilized nations."

Spain's opposition to terror was made clear over the weekend when millions of people took to the streets in protest against Thursday's bombings. But it was a different opposition than what's seen in the USA. Those rallies were not to rally around the current political flag. Turnout in Sunday's election surged well above expectations. The ruling Popular Party was ahead in the polls before the bombing. On Sunday, with almost all the votes counted, its number of seats in the 350-seat parliament had fallen from 183 to 148, while the Socialists increased from 125 to 164.

Robin Niblett, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the results must be analyzed carefully.

"Three days ago it looked as if the (Popular Party) would win but it was always pretty tight. My sense is that historically over past four to five years people have grudgingly supported the Popular Party," he said. With the economy strong, "people were willing to overlook the war in Iraq even though there was huge public opposition to it."

The terrorist attacks "very possibly turned the swing vote against the Popular Party. In which case you can make the argument that that influenced the election. Whether that was deliberate or not is hard to tell."

The Socialists, he says, will be "far more skeptical of the United States. And this swings a balance in Europe. It makes (Britain's) Tony Blair look weaker."

Angry voters

Political analysts said it appeared that pro-Socialist voters who sat out the election four years ago were inspired by the bombing to cast ballots.

"The Spanish government's decision immediately to blame ETA signaled a defensiveness about its support for the war in Iraq," said Lee Feinstein, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who served in President Clinton's State Department leadership. "It's different from the picture in the United States, where when there's a crisis, there's ... generally support for the incumbent."

Many voters said they were angry that the incumbents were too quick to blame Basque separatists for the attacks.

Ernesto Sanchez-Gey, 48, who voted in Barcelona, said, "I wasn't planning to vote, but I am here today because the Popular Party is responsible for murders here and in Iraq."

Another voter, Paloma Galve, 50, a secretary at an engineering firm, said she narrowly missed being on one the trains and sees the bombings as fallout from Spain's military alliances with Bush.

"We suffered the consequences of the ambitions of Mr. Aznar," she said.

Being against Bush has been good politics in Europe from the buildup to the Iraq war in the fall of 2002. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won re-election that September with an anti-war campaign.

"As was the case in Germany, here's another case of a party running against the Bush administration and succeeding," Feinstein said.

The U.S. scene

The impact of Spain's traumatic events could be slow to unfold on the U.S. political scene.

It could make it even more difficult for the administration to convince European allies to contribute more troops and money to the war and reconstruction in Iraq. The Spanish Socialists have promised to pull out Spain's contingent of about 1,300 soldiers in July.

But Bush has not based his foreign policy on working closely with allies.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., appearing on CNN's Late Edition, called the attack in Madrid very sophisticated, coming as it did right before the election. "And it just so happens that the Socialist Party candidate for the prime ministership indicated he would simply withdraw all the Spanish support in regards to Iraq. So I think it's very politically sensitive."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., appearing on the same program, warned the Europeans to remember history.

"Anyone who thinks that if ... a nation's troops stay out of a particular military conflict that they'll be somehow protected from the fanatical Islamic terrorists, is just wrong," he said. "That's the same kind of logic that led Neville Chamberlain in Munich to try to pacify Hitler in the late '30s. And obviously that didn't work," he said.

One immediate consequence of the bombings was fear of more attacks in Europe. Some terrorism experts say the pumped-up security in the USA after Sept. 11 makes Europe an easier and more attractive target.

• In Italy, which supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq, officials enlisted another 4,000 military personnel to guard potential targets.

• In Britain, America's closest ally in the war, additional plainclothes policemen were ordered onto trains and aboard London's heavily traveled subway system.

• Poland, which also has sent troops to Iraq, ratcheted up protection at airports and train stations.

But even nations that have resisted joining the U.S.-led war and occupation of Iraq heightened security. French President Jacques Chirac, the leading critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, put his country on high alert and increased surveillance at transport centers.

Border controls and patrols in public areas were expanded in Germany. German officials on Sunday called for an emergency meeting of European nations to reassess security. Others called for Europe-wide action to centralize anti-terror strategy, akin to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"Europeans have always intellectually known they were a likely target, but emotionally they never felt the same sense of being at war with Islamic terrorism as you do in the United States. This could change that," says Dana Allin, a European security specialist at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in London.

'Close to home'

"Not since 9/11 has the war on terror felt so close to home," wrote the Sunday Times of London. "After Madrid? The Eternal City will be hit," Il Messaggero said Sunday, warning that Rome could be the next logical target for Islamic terrorists.

The concern over a new wave of attacks could prod the European Union to enact a continent-wide counterterrorism policy, as many experts have urged since Sept. 11.

Critics say that individual intelligence and security agencies within each European country make fighting terrorism a logistical nightmare. That's especially the case as the European Union becomes increasingly "borderless." At the same time, however, countries remain reluctant to share intelligence and other crucial data, such as on immigration.

Some experts say action may be needed akin to the Patriot Act in the United States. One sign that the Madrid bombings may serve as a wake-up call for a Europe-wide policy: France immediately allowed Spanish investigators into France, where ETA terrorists sometimes operate.

"The European Union will need a homeland security policy," says Rafael Bardaji, a defense analyst at the Real Elcano Institute in Madrid. "If it is al-Qaeda, we have to start doing things instead of saying things."


Posted by shereen at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

Merriam-Webster's Response

Dictionary Urged to Delete 'False' Definition of Anti-Semitism

By Caryle Murphy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 13, 2004; Page B09

A leading Arab American civil rights organization has asked Merriam-Webster Inc. to publicly repudiate what the group calls a "false and damaging" definition of anti-Semitism in the unabridged version of Webster's Third New International Dictionary.

That dictionary lists, as one of the meanings of anti-Semitism, "opposition to Zionism: sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel."
In its complaint to Merriam-Webster, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee also asked the company to delete the definition in future reprintings of the 2,662-page dictionary's current edition and to insert a correction sheet into printings already made.

Leaving the definition uncorrected, the committee said in a March 3 letter, "smears and impugns the motives of all those who support the human and political rights of Palestinians; undermines the efforts of Arab and Jewish groups working for Middle East peace [and] stigmatizes legitimate political opinions and activities."

Merriam-Webster spokesman Arthur Bicknell said the company has no plans to immediately change the definition. But he added that because the definition no longer reflects current usage, "it is likely that [it] will be changed or eliminated" in the dictionary's fourth edition, which will be published in seven to 10 years.

Hussein Ibish, director of communications for the anti-discrimination committee, called Merriam-Webster's response "totally unacceptable. . . . It's not good enough to say in 10 years' time they'll deal with it."

Ibish said the committee has no problem with the dictionary's first definition of anti-Semitism, which describes it as "hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority group, often accompanied by social, political or economic discrimination." But he called the second definition "absolutely ridiculous."

Several other Merriam-Webster dictionaries, including its collegiate and online publications, are abridged versions of the International -- the company's flagship reference work -- and do not contain the second definition.

The anti-discrimination committee became aware of the definition through Silver Spring resident Dan Walsh, Ibish said. Walsh is a political consultant who has collected more than 3,500 political posters relating to Palestine, supports Palestinian self-determination and has written extensively on his Web site about what he regards as a mistaken "fusion" of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.

When Walsh first questioned the definition with Merriam-Webster in 2001, senior editor Stephen J. Perrault replied by quoting from a memo by a Merriam-Webster researcher, who wrote that the definition was based "on a small group of citations clustered in the years 1947-1952" in which anti-Semitism was strongly associated with opposition to Israel or Zionism.

The memo went on to call that definition "now a relic and not needed in a dictionary that records primarily the contemporary vocabulary of English."

Ken Jacobson, associate national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, said defining anti-Semitism as "opposition to Zionism" is "close enough" to be a legitimate definition. "Zionism is the national expression of the Jewish people, and to deny that, it seems to me, most often reflects anti-Semitic views," he said. "It's an attack on the collectivity of the Jewish people."

Jacobson said, however, that he "would have a problem" with defining anti-Semitism as "sympathy for the opponents of Israel" because "it's too vague. . . . It might be appropriate in some cases, but there are too many exceptions to that that make it an inappropriate definition."

Bicknell said the dictionary publisher, based in Springfield, Mass., receives "hundreds if not thousands of requests each year from a wide variety of people who would like us to alter the definitions in our dictionary in order to promote a particular cause, interest or belief, and these requests come from all parts of the political spectrum."

Although the company appreciates "that people feel very strongly about particular words," Bicknell added, "we can't allow such considerations to deflect us from our primary job as lexicographers, which is to create a painstakingly accurate and comprehensive record of the English language based upon actual usage data."


Posted by shereen at 01:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2004

The FBI and Your E-Mail, Instant Messaging, ISP, etc.

FBI adds to wiretap wish list

By Declan McCullagh and Ben Charny
March 12, 2004, 1:05 PM PT

A far-reaching proposal from the FBI, made public Friday, would require all broadband Internet providers, including cable modem and DSL companies, to rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police.
The FBI's request to the Federal Communications Commission aims to give police ready access to any form of Internet-based communications. If approved as drafted, the proposal could dramatically expand the scope of the agency's wiretap powers, raise costs for cable broadband companies and complicate Internet product development.

Legal experts said the 85-page filing includes language that could be interpreted as forcing companies to build back doors into everything from instant messaging and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) programs to Microsoft's Xbox Live game service. The introduction of new services that did not support a back door for police would be outlawed, and companies would be given 15 months to make sure that existing services comply.

"The importance and the urgency of this task cannot be overstated," says the proposal, which is also backed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration. "The ability of federal, state and local law enforcement to carry out critical electronic surveillance is being compromised today."

Because the eavesdropping scheme has the support of the Bush administration, the FCC is expected to take it very seriously. Last month, FCC Chairman Michael Powell stressed that "law enforcement access to IP-enabled communications is essential" and that police must have "access to communications infrastructure they need to protect our nation."

The request from federal police comes almost a year after representatives from the FBI's Electronic Surveillance Technology Section approached the FCC and asked that broadband providers be required to provide more efficient, standardized surveillance facilities. Such new rules were necessary, the FBI argued, because terrorists could otherwise frustrate legitimate wiretaps by placing phone calls over the Internet.

"It is a very big deal and will be very costly for the Internet and the deployment of new technologies," said Stewart Baker, who represents Internet providers as a partner at law firm Steptoe & Johnson. "Law enforcement is very serious about it. There is a lot of emotion behind this. They have stories that they're very convinced about in which they have not achieved access to communications and in which wiretaps have failed."

Broadband in the mix
Broadband providers say the FBI's request would, for the first time, force cable providers that sell broadband to come under the jurisdiction of 1994's Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which further defined the already existing statutory obligations of telecommunications carriers to help police conduct electronic surveillance. Telephone companies that use their networks to sell broadband have already been following CALEA rules.

"For cable companies, it's all new," said Bill McCloskey, a BellSouth spokesman.

Several cable providers, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems, had no immediate comment on the FBI's request.

The FBI proposal would also force Vonage, 8x8, AT&T and other prominent providers of broadband telephone services to comply with CALEA. Executives from these companies have said in the past that they all intend to comply with any request law enforcement makes, if technically possible.

Broadband phone service providers say they are already creating a code of conduct to cover some of the same issues the FBI is addressing--but on a voluntary basis, according to Jeff Pulver, founder of Free World Dialup. "We have our chance right now to prove to law enforcement that we can do this on a voluntary basis," Pulver said. "If we mandate and make rules, it will just complicate things."

Under CALEA, police must still follow legal procedures when wiretapping Internet communications. Depending on the situation, such wiretaps do not always require court approval, in part because of expanded wiretapping powers put in place by the USA Patriot Act.

A Verizon representative said Friday that the company has already complied with at least one law enforcement request to tap a DSL line.

This week's proposal surprised privacy advocates by reaching beyond broadband providers to target companies that offer communications applications such as instant-messaging clients.

"I don't think it's a reasonable claim," said Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "The FCC should seriously consider where the FBI believes its regulate new technologies would end. What about Bluetooth and USB?"

Baker agrees that the FBI's proposal means that IP-based services such as chat programs and videoconferencing "that are 'switched' in any fashion would be treated as telephony." If the FCC agrees, Baker said, "you would have to vet your designs with law enforcement before providing your service. There will be a queue. There will be politics involved. It would completely change the way services are introduced on the Internet."

As encryption becomes glued into more and more VoIP and instant-messaging systems like PSST, X-IM and CryptIM, eavesdropping methods like the FBI's Carnivore system (also called DCS1000) become less useful. Both Free World Dialup's Pulver, and Niklas Zennstrom, founder of Skype, said last month that their services currently offer no easy wiretap route for police, because VoIP calls travel along the Internet in tens of thousands of packets, each sometimes taking completely different routes.

Skype has become a hot button in the debate by automatically encrypting all calls that take place through the peer-to-peer voice application.

The origins of this debate date back to when the FBI persuaded Congress to enact the controversial CALEA. Louis Freeh, FBI director at the time, testified in 1994 that emerging technologies such as call forwarding, call waiting and cellular phones had frustrated surveillance efforts.

Congress responded to the FBI's concern by requiring that telecommunications services rewire their networks to provide police with guaranteed access for wiretaps. Legislators also granted the FCC substantial leeway in defining what types of companies must comply. So far, the FCC has interpreted CALEA's wiretap-ready requirements to cover only traditional analog and wireless telephone service, leaving broadband and Internet applications in a regulatory gray area.

Under the FBI's proposal, Internet companies would bear "sole financial responsibility for development and implementation of CALEA solutions" but would be authorized to raise prices to cover their costs.


Posted by shereen at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2004

Got This One from a List Member!!

" has just broken a major story detailing how the Pentagon created a special office to manipulate intelligence data on Iraq and WMDs. It's written by Karen Kwiatkowski, a military offer who was part of this unit, telling us the inside story in her own words. Click here to read the full story:

The Salon story makes it even clearer than before that the Bush administration deliberately misled us in the run-up to the war in Iraq a year ago. The problem was not bad intelligence -- it was deliberate distortion of the facts."


Posted by shereen at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004

Homeland Security Chief: 'We Unfairly Trampled on Civil Rights' =:o

it keeps getting better, folks!:


Mark Baker, The Age, 3/10/04

America's top anti-terrorism official has conceded the country courted an
international backlash by failing to temper its security push with respect
for privacy and civil liberties.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said yesterday that some of the tough
measures imposed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks -
including racially-based checks on foreign visitors to the US - had been

"America knows we cannot seek a double standard and America knows we get
what we give. And so we must and will always be careful to respect people's
privacy, civil liberties and reputations," Mr Ridge said here at the start
of a regional tour...

He said immigration controls, imposed soon after the attacks in New York
and Washington, had focused on particular ethnic and religious groups and
been rightly condemned as racial profiling...


Posted by shereen at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

Muslim- and Arab-Americans Mature, Take Responsibility
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Arabs, Muslims guard clout
Growing civic sense means no one can take their votes for granted, many in O.C. say.

The Orange County Register

Sama Wareh registered to vote for the first time last year. But not for real. Just for extra credit in political science.

This time it's different, the college student said as she marked "independent" on a fresh registration form.

For Wareh, of Anaheim Hills, and thousands of other Arab Americans and Muslims in Orange County, the 2004 election is taking on the aura of a defining moment.

"We're waking up," said Wareh, 20, a film and zoology student at California State University, Fullerton. "We know we've got to become more involved in the society we live in."

Some of her community's concerns mirror the general population's - the cost of housing, education and health care. But in the wake of Sept. 11, local Muslims say their faith has been maligned, their loyalty unfairly questioned.

Islamophobia, they believe, is on the rise.

Muslims take responsibility for some of that. They are coming to realize, Wareh said, the only way to be recognized as full-status Americans is full participation in civic life. And that means more than just voting.

Arab Americans and local Muslims already vote in large numbers. An estimated 79 percent are registered and 85 percent of those say they vote, according to a 2001 poll taken on behalf of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Local political activists believe the power of their community's bloc vote helped put George W. Bush in the White House four years ago. Bush won Muslim votes overwhelmingly in Florida, where he claimed the presidency with less than a 600-vote margin.

The community cast those ballots on the advice of trusted voices, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Word spread to voters over the Internet, at Islamic centers and through popular, ethnic newspapers, such as Al-Watan and Arab World in Anaheim and An-Nahar in Whittier.

"It was what he said, particularly opposing the use of secret evidence, plus, frankly, Gore ignored us," said Omar Zaki, who oversees politics for CAIR in Anaheim.

This time, their votes won't be won as easily, rank-and-file Muslim voters say. They are searching for a better understanding of issues and candidates - a stronger say in whom they will support.

"We want to create a model community with 100 percent voter registration," said Aslam Abdullah, a political adviser and founder of the newly-minted Muslim Electorate Council of America. "That's what we are aiming for. We are doing the extensive work needed to bring in as many voters as possible."

It's been months now since Orange County Muslims could go to a community event or even some private parties without running into someone with a voter registration form in hand.

Registration tables pop up outside Little Gaza restaurants along Brookhurst Street. Community members are volunteering as poll workers. Imams preach on voting.

Last month, about 300 Arab and Muslim voters, including Wareh and Nuru Nuru, a Garden Grove cab driver, packed a political forum in Buena Park, where they cheered any candidate who took a strong stand on civil rights or spoke in favor of a just solution for Palestine.

"As an American and as a Muslim, we have to worry about what is going on," said Nuru, 45, who brought his son, Nader, 15, to the forum. "America is a free country, but our freedom is taken by Sept. 11 and we have to protest for all Americans."

Around the edges of the room that night, community volunteers, some in hijabs, bent over voting machines, demonstrating how to use them. Candidates handed out campaign leaflets, and Green Party members offered to register voters. Ralph Nader even phoned in a speech announcing his hours-old candidacy for president.

"This is a critical election for us, the first high-profile national election since Sept. 11," said Zaki, 38, formerly a sales executive for a global industrial gas company. "We raise our children here. We want a secure environment for them too. Just because we go to a mosque and you go to a temple or a church - There is no difference. And our work now, all this is for the long haul."

Bush's popularity with everyday Arab Americans has plummeted from a high of about 83 percent in October 2001 to 38 percent, according to a January poll by Zogby International. The trend is the same among local Muslims.

Still, Bush has a loyal following among wealthy Arab Americans and some foreign-born Muslims. Some, including those who support his economic policies and the war in Iraq, have joined the ranks of the "Pioneers" and "Rangers," Bush loyalists who have raised $100,000 or more for his re-election campaign.

And Arab-American leaders and local Muslims, anxious to parlay support for their issues, warn candidates no one should take their community's votes for granted.

Rima Nashashibi, vice chairwoman of the Democratic Party Central Committee in Orange County, couldn't be happier with the presumably strong trend.

"I am seeing a lot of people registering and re-registering as Democrats, but a large group is registering as independent too," said Nashashibi, a Laguna Hills insurance company marketing manager.

"And, since the bloc vote in 2000, a lot of candidates have been coming to the community asking for support."

Nashashibi said her entire family registers Democrat, except for her brother, Tareef Nashishibi, who she jokingly claims was dropped on his head as a baby.

For his part, Tareef Nashashibi, chairman of the Arab- American Committee of the Orange County Republican Party, insists he's countering the trend in his family by rearing two young Republicans in Aliso Viejo, where he is a project manager for a general contractor.

"Being a Republican, I am going to try and sway the vote to my party, but basically it is going to be a community decision," Nashishibi said. "The issue is who is going to make it a better country for our children."


Posted by shereen at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

'Army not Sure if Chaplain Had Secret Papers'

if they don't have the word "confidential" or "secret" stamped across them, then the papers are NOT confidential or secret; you know, it's not that difficult, folks: <:|

Brian Donohue, Star-Ledger, 3/10/04

Six months after the arrest of a Muslim Army chaplain charged with
mishandling secret information on terror suspects, U.S. Army officials said
yesterday they have still not determined whether the papers he was carrying
are actually classified.

A preliminary hearing for Capt. James Yee, a Springfield, N.J., native, was
delayed for the fifth time yesterday so officials can continue their review
of the documents, according to a statement issued yesterday by U.S.
Southern Command.

The hearing, scheduled to resume today at Fort Benning in Georgia, was
postponed until March 24.

Yee's attorney, Eugene Fidell, pounced on the growing pattern of delays as
a sign that the government has no evidence to back the charges against the
West Point graduate.

"I've prosecuted cases, and if I were them I wouldn't want to go forward
with this either," said Fidell. "What's missing is the smoking gun - or any
gun, even a cold gun. It's time for this case to be shut down and my client
to be given an apology."

A spokesman for U.S. Southern Command declined to comment on the case.


Posted by shereen at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)

...*sheesh* I Am Overwhelmed... =:|

i am overwhelmed at the amount of truth that is finally spilling! i could not even imagine this 5, 3, or even 2 years ago. <:)

if you don't want to read the article, check out the following key excerpts (though the entire column is riddled w/"key excerpts"):

"This time, UN aid workers witnessed the crime and insisted there was no other gunfire in the area." (<---actually pretty typical, but no one believed, until now, the palestinians)

"Israeli troops have been known to destroy food supplies and block aid workers from Palestinian areas."

"In Gaza, 8,000 settlers lord it over 1.4 million Palestinians, hogging 20% of the territory and the best water. ...It's all to defend the strip's arrogant, privileged 0.5%. "

"A poll of Palestinian households in the proximity of the fence suggests 28% of them have had all or some of their land stolen to build a wall that's making already arduous lives untenable."

"If the fence was meant purely for security, it would follow Israel's actual border -- a shorter line easier to police. Instead, it's being used to accommodate the extremist settlers and further cleanse the West Bank of its inhabitants."

"Late last month, Israeli troops shot to death two unarmed protesters at the wall defending what little they still have. Others are beaten, tear gassed and menaced by bulldozers."

March 8, 2004
Against wall
Cement barrier chokes life out of Palestinian villages
By BILL KAUFMANN -- Calgary Sun

Palestinians need a security fence of their own.

Not even the heroics of young British photographer-activist Tom Hurndall were enough to shield them from the daily brutality of Israeli occupation.

On April 11, 2003 while protecting Palestinian children from Israeli gunfire in Gaza, an unarmed Hurndall was shot in the head by a soldier equipped with a telescopic sight.

Only unrelenting pressure by his family overturned a typical Israeli military whitewash of the 22-year-old's killing.

The Hurndall family are the "lucky ones." Few instances of civilian deaths at the hands of Israeli troops result in charges.

Fewer still are heard of in North America, such as Manal Sofran, gunned down by Israeli soldiers in her Ramallah doorway as she frantically called out for her four children.

Then there's Khalil Mughrabi, 11, of Gaza -- shot in the head.

Another young boy armed with a sandwich was recently killed by a single bullet in the doorway of his West Bank home. His father feared he'd be harmed if he'd gone to school that day.

Last month, Gazan Yousef Bashir, 15, was shot in the back by an Israeli soldier and is possibly paralysed for life.

This time, UN aid workers witnessed the crime and insisted there was no other gunfire in the area.

A year ago, witnesses say nine-month pregnant Nuha Sweidan, 33, bled to death under rubble cradling a toddler when Israeli bulldozers attacked the Gaza building next door.

A security wall keeping out Israeli soldiers might have prevented these maimings and killings -- war crimes just as surely as Palestinian suicide bombings.

It wouldn't have prevented malnutrition among Palestinian children in some parts of the West Bank and Gaza due to Israeli siege and closure -- reported by UNICEF and visiting British MPs last year to have reached African severity.

It's no wonder -- Israeli troops have been known to destroy food supplies and block aid workers from Palestinian areas.

And before a wall would do anything for Palestinians, illegal Israeli settlements in their midst would have to be rooted out.

In Gaza, 8,000 settlers lord it over 1.4 million Palestinians, hogging 20% of the territory and the best water.

No suicide attacks have been launched into Israel from Gaza, yet the Israeli military has made the squalid, rubbled ghetto into which they've herded Palestinians a free-fire zone.

It's all to defend the strip's arrogant, privileged 0.5%.

This is the face of the Israeli military's moral superiority.

Ariel Sharon says he'll remove the Gaza settlers, but intends to relocate them in the West Bank where they can terrorize Palestinians and confiscate land there instead.

Most Palestinians would be happy with their own wall that doesn't meander onto their neighbour's land, unlike Israel's.

As if stealing land, water and access through the presence of oppressive West Bank settlements weren't enough, Israel has dreamed up a fence that'll hasten the process.

A poll of Palestinian households in the proximity of the fence suggests 28% of them have had all or some of their land stolen to build a wall that's making already arduous lives untenable.

Communities are being stranded on the west side of the wall, cut off from others on the east -- wreaking social havoc.

Some villages are being noosed by concrete that's choking the life from them -- clearly the intention of its builders.

"Because of the occupation, I cannot see my country. I can't travel in my country. It is like a big prison, and the wall will make it worse," says Iletzam Morrar, 15, of Budrus village.

If the fence was meant purely for security, it would follow Israel's actual border -- a shorter line easier to police.

Instead, it's being used to accommodate the extremist settlers and further cleanse the West Bank of its inhabitants.

Late last month, Israeli troops shot to death two unarmed protesters at the wall defending what little they still have.

Others are beaten, tear gassed and menaced by bulldozers.

To its shame, Canada has opposed the International Court of Justice's hearings on the legality of the wall.

And with its unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq and the hideous carnage it's unleashed there, the U.S. has little moral suasion over Israel.

But withholding its Israeli billions would re-route the wall.


Posted by shereen at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

"...Graceful Way to Kill the Case..."

looks like chinese-muslim-american yee is still not guilty of any charges; his due process rights under military law have been violated again and again and again and again...:
March 9, 2004

Muslim Chaplain's Article 32 Hearing Delayed Again

By Jane McHugh, Times staff writer

Capt. James Yee’s Article 32 hearing on allegations that the Muslim chaplain at the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba, had mishandled classified documents and held an extramarital affair has been postponed yet again.

Tuesday’s postponement of the hearing, being held to determine whether enough evidence exists to send the case to court-martial, was at least the fifth.

Yee was arrested in September and thrown in a maximum security brig amid suspicions of espionage linked to the alleged terrorists being held at the Camp Delta detention center.

Yee later was freed with only lesser charges of mishandling classified material filed against him. His attorney, Eugene Fidell, insists the material wasn’t classified. Federal agents seized the material when stepped off a plane and was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla., after a flight from Guantanamo Bay. In earlier proceedings, the agents described the seized materials as papers and compact discs but did not elaborate on their contents.

Yee’s Article 32, or preliminary, hearing started in December with testimony that he committed adultery with a female Navy officer and downloaded pornography onto his Army-issued computer. But it was abruptly halted in December to give prosecutors more time to review the seized material. Since then, it’s been postponed several times.

The hearing is scheduled to resume March 24 at Fort Benning, Ga.

Meanwhile, Yee has newly been assigned to chaplain duties at Fort Meade, Md., said Army Lt. Col. Bill Costello, a spokesman for U.S. Southern Command in Miami. Southcom has jurisdiction over Guantanamo.

In a telephone interview March 9, Fidell said there’s nothing to the charges and that the Army owes Yee an apology.

“I sincerely hope someone is figuring out a graceful way to kill this case dead,” he said.


Posted by shereen at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Invade Iraq? ~10 Year Old Idea

well, we all know this by now, i'm sure, so i think this will probably be the last article forwarded from me on this very specific discussion (don't want to beat a dead horse); anyone who still has doubts that the invasion/occupation had nothing at all to do w/sep 11, 2001, or about so-called weapons of mass destruction, should really do their own homework:


James Mann, Washington Post, 3/7/04

The Bush administration has offered a series of shifting justifications for
the war in Iraq. Each has been quite specific: The war was to uncover
Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction; to dislodge a brutal
dictator; to combat Iraq's support for terrorism; to deal with what
President Bush called a "grave and gathering threat."

Which was the real one? That's the overarching question that has dominated
public debate in recent months. But the question is too narrow. The
underlying rationale was both broader and more abstract: The war was
carried out in pursuit of a larger vision of using America's overwhelming
military superiority to shape the future.

The outlines of that vision were first sketched more than a decade ago,
immediately after the Soviet Union collapsed. Some of the most important
and bitterly debated aspects of the war in Iraq -- including the
administration's willingness to engage in preemptive military action -- can
be traced to discussions and documents from the early 1990s, when Pentagon
officials, under then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and then-Undersecretary
of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, led the way in forging a new, post-Cold War
military strategy for the United States.

The gist of the strategy they formulated was that the United States should
be the world's dominant superpower -- not merely today, or 10 years from
now, or when a rival such as China appears, but permanently. The elements
of this vision were couched in bland-sounding phrases: The United States
should "preserve its strategic depth" and should act overseas to "shape the
security environment." What could potentially flow from those vague words
was, however, anything but bland: The recent war in Iraq was, above all, an
effort to shape the security environment of the Middle East...


Posted by shereen at 12:23 AM | Comments (0)

House Rep Nancy Pelosi on "Patriot" and "Safe" Acts


Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the
following statement today on cosponsoring the Security and Freedom Ensured
Act of 2003 (SAFE) act, H.R. 3335:

"As we protect and defend the American people against terrorism, we must
protect and defend the Constitution and the civil liberties that define our

"When Congress voted for the Patriot Act, it was clearly understood that
the Patriot Act was intended to combat terrorism. Now that we have had
time to assess how the Patriot Act is being used, it is clear that Attorney
General John Ashcroft has misused the Patriot Act for investigations that
have nothing to do with terrorism. We should not simply extend it, but we
should correct it to prevent abuses of our civil liberties.

"In particular, we need to look at measures to restore the federal
judiciary's role to ensure that the Attorney General's far-reaching powers
are not abused. The SAFE Act, which I am proud to cosponsor, would modify
the Patriot Act by requiring court approval for the FBI to obtain records
and wiretaps. The SAFE Act would also make clear that the exercise of
political protest is protected. We should be able to keep the American
people safe without threatening our civil liberties."


Contact your elected representatives to ask that they support the SAFE Act.GO TO:


Posted by shereen at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

Jews Had the Yellow Star; Arabs Have the Red "X" =:(

Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Associated Press, 3/9/04

JERUSALEM-- Israeli Arab workers building a new wing for Israel's
parliament had their helmets marked with lines of red paint to help
security guards distinguish them from foreign laborers, parliament
officials confirmed Tuesday.

Parliament Speaker Reuven Rivlin ordered the markings removed after
learning of the practice from a report in the Maariv daily. The newspaper
ran a photo Tuesday showing five workers with white helmets, three of them
marked. Two of the workers had simple red lines on their helmets, and the
third bore a large "X."

Ahmed Tibi, an Arab legislator, complained of racism. "The Jews know who
was marked," he said, an apparent reference to the yellow Star of David
emblems Jews had to pin to their clothes during Nazi rule.

About 180 workers, including Israeli Arabs and foreigners, are Building a
new wing for the Knesset, Israel's parliament. Foreign workers, many from
the Far East or Eastern Europe, are not considered a security threat by


Posted by shereen at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2004

A Holocaust survivor speaks against the apartheid wall (Must Read)


Violence, humiliation only aggravate the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

In 1939, I left the village of Kippenheim, Germany, on a
Kindertransport - a small group of children allowed to go to
England - thus surviving the Holocaust. In December, I went to
Israel to honor the memory of my parents, Ella and Hugo
Wachenheimer, who did not survive the war against the Jews.
At a monument near Jerusalem, I lit candles for my parents
and for the other 80,000 Jews deported from France to the death

It is impossible to visit Israel these days without being aware
of the constant threat posed by terrorists. Suicide bombs kill
and maim innocent persons riding in buses or taking a meal in
a restaurant. We Jews who survived the Shoah know all too well
that the intentional targeting of civilians is illegal and
immoral. So I grieve the loss of life in Jerusalem from the
suicide bombs.

But I also grieve the loss of life in Palestine, which occurs
almost on a daily basis. So I went to Palestine as a member
of the International Solidarity Movement to observe the
difficult conditions of daily life under military occupation.
It would have been enough to reach out and touch just one
Palestinian and place my hand on her shoulder and tell her
that I was with her in her pain. But I saw and did much more.

In Bethlehem, I saw a Caterpillar bulldozer ripping up
centuries-old olive trees to clear a path for rolled razor
wire and antitank trenches dividing the town where Jesus was

In Qalqilia, I was dwarfed by Israel's separation wall rising
more than 25 feet. In President George W. Bush's phrase, it
"snakes in and out of the West Bank." It keeps farmers from
their fields and hems in 50,000 residents on all sides.

In Masha, I joined a demonstration against this wall. I saw a
red sign warning ominously of "MORTAL DANGER" to any who dare
cross this fence. Then I saw Israeli soldiers aiming at
unarmed Israeli and international protesters. I saw blood
pouring out of Gil Na'amati, a young Israeli whose first
public act after completing his military service was to
protest against this wall. I saw shrapnel lodged in the leg
of Anne Farina, one of my traveling companions from St.
Louis. And I thought of Kent State and Jackson State,
where National Guardsmen opened fire in 1970 on protesters
against the Vietnam War. Near Der Beilut, I saw the Israeli
police turn a water cannon on our nonviolent protest. And I
remembered Birmingham, Ala., in 1963 and wondered why a
democratic society responds to peaceable assembly by trying
literally to drown out the voice of our protest.

At the end of the journey I had a shocking experience. I
knew that what I had said and done was viewed by some as
controversial but surely not as threatening. So I did not
imagine that the Israeli security force that guards
Ben-Gurion Airport would abuse a 79-year-old Holocaust
survivor, holding me for five hours and performing a
completely unnecessary strip search of every part of my
naked body.

The only shame these security officials expressed was to
turn their badges around so that their names were
invisible. The only conceivable purpose for this gross
violation of my bodily integrity was to humiliate and
terrify me.

Of course, I felt humiliated by this outrage, but I refuse
to be terrified by cowards who hide their identity while
engaging in such unnecessary disrespect. It is a cruel
illusion that brute force of this sort provides security
to Israel. Degrading me cannot silence my small voice.

Similarly, humiliating Palestinians cannot extinguish
their hopes for a homeland. Only ending this utterly
unnecessary occupation will bring peace to the region.

Hedy Epstein of St. Louis is a Holocaust survivor,
Holocaust educator and longtime civil rights and peace
activist. Her story is featured in the Academy Award
winning documentary, "Into the Arms of Strangers:
Stories of the Kindertransport."


Posted by shereen at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

Merriam-Webster: Political Correctness in the Dictionary?? <:o

ADC has recently sent a letter to Merriam-Webster demanding that the company take steps to correct the definition of "anti-Semitism" in its "Third New International Dictionary," which was recently reprintined. The definition reads: "1) hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority group, often accompanied by social, political or economic discrimination (2) opposition to Zionism (3) sympathy for the opponents of Israel."

Arab Group: Change Dictionary Entry on Anti-semitism
By Ori Nir

The Forward
March 8, 2002

Washington - An Arab-American organization is demanding that the Merriam Webster company drop references to "opposition to Zionism" and "sympathy for the opponents of Israel" from its definition of anti-semitism.

The American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, the leading Arab civil rights organization, yesterday sent a letter to Merriam Webster demanding that the changes be made to the "Third New International Dictionary - Unabridged." The Arab group asked that Merriam Webster publicly repudiate the definition, send errata sheets to correct the dictionaries in libraries and rephrase the definition in future editions.

The current entry on anti-semitism reads as follows: "1) hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority group, often accompanied by social, political or economic discrimination (2) opposition to Zionism (3) sympathy for the opponents of Israel."
In correspondence with Dan Walsh, a Maryland graphics artist who has recently launched a public campaign to differentiate between anti-semitism and expressions of opposition to Israel, Merriam Webster stated that the latter part of the definition is a "relic" and "will most probably disappear from the next edition of the International" dictionary. The publication house refused, however, to issue a public clarification or a correction.

The Arab group's communications director, Hussein Ibish, wrote a letter to Merriam Webster's senior editor Steve Perrault, arguing that the dictionary "conflates the first sense of the definition with two spurious ones, thereby diminishing and even trivializing the very concept of anti-Semitism... Smears and impugns the motives of all those who support the human and political rights of Palestinians, undermines the efforts of Arab and Jewish groups working for Middle East peace and stigmatizes legitimate political opinions and activities."

Perrault said that the letter was passed along to the president of Merriam Webster. A spokesman for the company, Arthur Bicknell, told the Forward March 4 that a new edition of the dictionary, with an updated entry, is expected by the end of this decade. He said that sending errata sheets to libraries as a temporary fix is beyond the capacity of a small publishing house such as Merriam Webster.

Confusing anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism
Gulf News
Dubai:Thursday, March 04, 2004
George S. Hishmeh

Mel Gibson's blockbuster movie, The Passion of the Christ, which has just opened at movie theatres to overflowing crowds has resurrected the debate here on anti-Semitism. The term was first coined in 1879 by Wilhelm Marr, a German writer who described the dominance of Jews in Germany.

Coincidentally, it has also added impetus to an emerging campaign over the conflation of the term anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

The New Encyclopedia of Judaism (2002), says anti-Semitism "is a misnomer, since it is used with reference to Jews only rather than to all Semites (including Arabs)."

In fact, there's hardly agreement between many dictionaries or reference books on a clear-cut, unified definition of anti-Semitism. But none matches how Merriam-Webster, the American dictionary, explains it.

Three senses Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged), re-printed in 2002, provides this unbelievable definition with three senses and which has not been updated since 1956: It reads: "Anti-Semitism: (1) hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority group, often accompanied by social, political or economic discrimination (2) opposition to Zionism (3) sympathy for the opponents of Israel."

Dan Walsh, founder and CEO of Liberation Graphics (, a design and distribution firm that specialises in serving social activism, has personally encountered this three-layered definition in his work.

Over the past 25 years, soon after serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco, he has systematically acquired and conserved contemporary Palestinian poster art and his firm now houses the world's largest archives, over 3,000 originals, of Palestine-related posters.

His repeated attempts to exhibit the posters, mainly drawn by Palestinian artists and some by others, including Israelis, have been rejected because of fear that they were anti-Semitic.

"The Palestinian political poster genre cannot be considered anti-Semitic because the posters are by and about Palestinians," he told me, "but they are anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist."

Contemporary usage In response to a letter from Walsh, Steve Perrault, the senior editor at Merriam-Webster, Inc., had this to say last January 29, quoting his editor-in-chief, Frederick Mish: "The very great majority of all our citations for 'anti-Semitism' show the word being used unmistakably in the sense numbered 1 in Webster's Third. There is, however, a small group of citations, clustered in the years 1947-1952 in which 'anti-Semitism' is linked more or less strongly with opposition to Israel or to Zionism."

And Perrault had this eye-opening concluding paragraph: "In any case, unless there is a return of the 1950s use that is not in prospect at present, the second sense will most probably disappear from the next edition of the International. If it is a real sense at all, it is now a relic and not needed in a dictionary that records primarily the contemporary vocabulary of English."

But this response has not satisfied the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ADC, which has now agreed to join ranks with Walsh in getting Merriam-Webster to correct its loaded definition of anti-Semitism.

"Given the gravity of the matter and the Third's status as a primary scholastic and academic reference resource," said the ADC letter that is being sent to the publishers and made available to me, "we cannot but lament that Merriam-Webster did not take advantage of the re-printing in 2002 to correct the term that (it) identifies as a 'relic' and even states for the record that may not ever have been a real definition."

It thus legitimises and promotes the definition that, among other things, "conflates the first, accurate definition with two inaccurate ones, thereby undermining and even trivialising the very concept of anti-Semitism and damaging efforts to combat prejudice and discrimination against Jewish groups and individuals."

It further "smears and impugns the motives of all those who support the human and political rights of Palestinians."

ADC was hoping the publishers would issue a press release announcing their intention to remove its second and third senses of its definition from all future editions as well as issuing a detailed "errata sheet" that would be sent to all local, state, regional and federal libraries.

The significance of this encounter-in-the-making is that Israel and its supporters have long insisted on labelling any criticism of its government as "anti-Semitic", thus stifling any serious debate about the country's practices and policies.

Posted by shereen at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2004

Are These Two Articles for Real? =:o

Ali Abunimah & Nigel Parry, Electronic Intifada, 3/5/04

McDonald's Corporation today confirmed that it has a policy banning its
employees from speaking Arabic in its restaurants in Israel, despite the
fact that Palestinian citizens of Israel form 20% of its workforce, and
Arabic is one of the two official languages of Israel. The Corporation
denied, however, that Abeer Zinaty, a former "Excellent Worker 2003 --
McDonald's Israel," was fired because she spoke Arabic on the job.

EI co-founder Ali Abunimah received a statement from Julie Pottebaum, a
spokesperson for Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's corporation, after EI
contacted the company about the allegations contained in an article in
Al-Ahram Weekly [ ]

EI also issued an action alert to its readers
[ ] prompting calls and
emails from all over the world, urging McDonald's to investigate
allegations that it had a no-Arabic policy, and that at least one employee
had been fired for violating it. EI received copies of emails sent to
McDonald's from concerned readers in the US, the Czech Republic, and Jordan
among other countries.

The McDonald's statement said that it was "absolutely not true" that Abeer
Zinaty had been fired because she spoke Arabic on the job, and asserted
that, "her employment was terminated by her supervisor, a Palestinian Arab
who also speaks Arab, for performance-related reasons..."


Aluf Benn, Haaretz, 3/7/04

Israeli is refusing to return to the United States enriched uranium it
received from the Americans many years ago for the refueling of the nuclear
research facility at Nahal Sorek, according to an internal U.S. Department
of Energy report.

According to the report, the American administration has been working since
1996 to return enriched Uranium that was given to friendly countries under
the Atoms for Peace program. The collection of the nuclear fuel was meant
to prevent its being misused for nuclear weapons construction. The American
Department of Energy has so far been able to collect just 2.6 tons, while
15 tons of enriched uranium is still being held by former members of the

Israel is included in a list of 12 countries that the report says "are not
expected to take part in the program," and which hold roughly half of the
uranium that has yet to be collected. Other countries on the list include
Iran, Pakistan, South Africa, France, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands...


Posted by shereen at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

Yayy! Muslim-Saudi Woman on Ballot =:D

Allahu Akbar!!!:

Daryl Kelley, Los Angeles Times, 3/5/04,1,7123786.story

Ferial Amin Masry pulled off a rare double in last week's election,
qualifying as a Democratic write-in candidate in the 37th Assembly District
for the fall general election while winning a seat outright on the Ventura
County Democratic Central Committee.

But if Masry's feat was unprecedented locally, it pales beside what the
Thousand Oaks woman hopes to accomplish in November.

If elected, the 55-year-old U.S. government teacher would become the
nation's first Saudi American to hold elective office in the U.S.,
according to the Arab American Institute in Washington. She'd become
California's first Arab American woman to serve in the Legislature, and one
of only a few in the nation to be elected as a state lawmaker.

As she pursues her long-shot candidacy in a heavily Republican district,
Masry is equally occupied with thoughts of her oldest child, who has
undertaken his own uphill climb: Mohammed Omar Masry, 24, is a U.S. Army
sergeant in Baghdad, helping to rebuild Iraqi schools while explaining
America's role in dispatches on Islam Online, the Middle Eastern equivalent
of America Online.

Omar Masry said his mother's campaign should break stereotypes...

Posted by shereen at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)

...It's Open Season Folks =:(

what pisses me off the MOST on this planet are DOUBLE STANDARDS and HYPOCRISY; if the mosques were, say, synagogues instead, well, you know action would've been taken already:

Sebastian Kitchen, Avalanche-Journal, 3/8/04

Police and the FBI are investigating a hateful act of vandalism directed at
the area's Muslim community.

The Islamic Center of the South Plains was vandalized overnight Saturday,
and the mosque's spiritual leader found the destruction when he arrived at
6:20 a.m. Sunday for the first daily prayer.

Mohamed El-Moctar, the imam, found pro-American and anti-Muslim slogans
written on the walls along with damage throughout the building.

"I feel sad about what happened," El-Moctar said. "I feel sad. Our
community is very peaceful, and our community is targeted - not for
anything they did, but for what they are and what they believe."

His office was in shambles. The door was broken. His computer was on the
floor and had racial slurs written on it. His shelves had been tipped over
with books, paperwork and other items littering the floor.

"What hurt us more was not the material loss, it was the graffiti written
on the wall inside the mosque," El-Moctar said.

The fence around the mosque was bent down. Metal that once covered a window
had been pried back, and the window was smashed with a brick. Glass still
littered the mosque floor Sunday night as men kneeled to worship.

El-Moctar said the suspects likely entered through the window or a side door.

He said the FBI told him there was more than one person involved based on
shoe prints outside the mosque.

Nothing in the police report definitely identifies the crime as a hate
crime, police Lt. Jerry Brewer said. The crime will be listed as burglary
of a building, a state jail felony, he said...


Associated Press, 3/8/04

LUBBOCK- Smashed windows, anti-Muslim graffiti, broken furniture and other
destruction at a South Plains mosque are under investigation by the FBI and
police early Monday following a weekend break-in that religious leaders say
was a hate crime.

Imam Mohamed El-Moctar said his office at the Islamic Center of the South
Plains was ransacked when he arrived for morning prayers on Sunday.

A fan dangled above an overturned shelf and broken chairs in the women's
worship hall. El-Moctar pointed to a dent in the wall where he believed a
chair had been thrown.

"This is the action of someone angry, very angry," he told the Lubbock
Avalanche-Journal in Monday's online edition.

The mosque's spiritual leader said he found pro-American and anti-Muslim
slogans written on the walls along with damage throughout the building.

"I feel sad about what happened," he said. " ... Our community is very
peaceful, and our community is targeted not for anything they did, but for
what they are and what they believe."

Police Lt. Jerry Brewer called the property damage at the mosque
significant. Investigators believe the break-in occurred sometime between
10 p.m. Saturday and 6:20 a.m. Sunday by multiple suspects, possibly gang

In addition to breaking furniture and windows, the intruders took a sound
system and a VCR. A donation box was also torn open, and the funds inside
stolen. Pennies were left on the floor near the box.

Miles Burden, supervisor-in-charge of the Lubbock FBI office, told the
newspaper that agents went to the mosque Sunday morning. FBI officials in
Lubbock and Dallas did not immediately return calls to The Associated Press
for comment...


Elaine Sciolino, New York Times, 3/5/04

PARIS - A Muslim prayer center in the Alpine town of Seynod was destroyed
today and the annex of a mosque in nearby Annecy was damaged in separate
arson attacks before dawn.

The local police said the two fires were set on purpose but declined to
label them hate crimes.

The Ministry of the Interior made no public statement about the arson
attacks, and Frank Louvrier, the ministry spokesman, said that one was not
planned. A spokeswoman at the prime minister's office referred all
inquiries to the Ministry of the Interior.

The absence of reaction by the center-right French government to attacks on
the two Muslim places of worship was in stark contrast to the activist
steps it took after a Jewish school annex in a suburb of Paris was badly
damaged by a pre-dawn fire bomb in November.

Just hours after the attack against the Jewish school, Interior Minister
Nicolas Sarkozy visited the site and said it was "more than strongly
suspected" to be an anti-Semitic and "obviously" racist act. He vowed that
those who set the fire would be caught and punished "with the greatest

The next day, President Jacques Chirac declared that "an attack on a Jew is
an attack against France" and approved a plan for tougher policing and
prosecution of hate crimes and sweeping urban renewal investments of almost
$8 billion to clean up neighborhoods thought to breed Islamic extremism.

Mr. Sarkozy has no plan at the moment to visit the Muslim sites, Mr.
Louvrier said...

Fayik Dag, president of the Islamic Union in France at Seynod, accused the
government of a double standard in not condemning the attacks against the
Muslim targets...



(3/5/04) Lodi, New Jersey - Two Sikh teenagers reported to police that they
were beaten and robbed by a group of men who yanked off their turbans and
then cut off their hair in Lodi, New Jersey. Local police have confirmed to
the Sikh Coalition that the incident is being investigated as a bias crime.

The two teenagers, whose families have requested that they remain
anonymous, were at a bus stop when three men approached them and asked to
borrow money shortly after 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday night.

The Sikh teenagers and the men began pushing each other. According to
police, the two Sikhs then chased the assailants into a nearby park. The
assailants were joined by two more men who surrounded, beat and robbed the
two Sikhs of approximately forty dollars. According to the two Sikhs, one
man then removed their turbans, pulled out scissors, and cut three to four
feet of their hair as they pleaded for him to stop.

After learning about the reported incident today, the Sikh Coalition
requested a meeting with the Chief of the Lodi Police Department. The
Coalition attended the meeting with family members of the two victims,
members of the Lodi Sikh community, American Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee,
Bergen County Human Relations Commission and Community Relations Service of
the United States Justice Department.

Lodi Police Chief Vincent Caruso and Captain Vincent Quatrone, who is
supervising the investigation, briefed meeting attendees on police efforts
to investigate the crime. The police chief reported that the department had
decided to investigate the matter as a bias crime because the attackers
used epithets such as "Bin Laden" while cutting the two Sikhs' hair...

The Sikh Coalition expresses its deepest sympathies for the victims and
their families and encourages Sikhs everywhere to remember them in your


Posted by shereen at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

One Jew, One Muslim, One Stage: An evening of non-political laughter starring Rabbi Bob Alper and Ahmed Ahmed.

not all of you can attend, but for those in the area, you MUST!!!!! =:D i've actually seen these two perform at a synagogue (i think a couple of years ago):


One Arab. One Jew. One Stage. Two Very Funny Guys.

An evening of non-political laughter starring Rabbi Bob Alper and Ahmed Ahmed.

Sponsored by: CSULB Speech & Debate Team, Muslim Students Association @ CSULB, Long Beach Hillel, CSULB Multicultural Center

Tuesday, March 16th 7:00 pm
California State University, Long Beach
Ballroom, Student Union 2nd floor
1250 Bellflower Blvd. Long Beach, 90840

Early Bird (Buy today): $10 students with ID, $15 non-students
At the Door (procrastinator's price): $15 students>, $20 non-students
On-Campus Ticket Sales: Multicultural Center. To find a ticket sales person in your area or for more info, call 714-322-7835


" The touring stand-up duo are on the same side, and now there's a
smile-shaped crack in the wall between their long-warring peoples."
-Los Angeles Times


" The world's only practicing clergyman doing stand-up
comedy...intentionally," Rabbi Bob Alper performs all across North
America, London, and even at The Hollywood Improv. As seen on Showtime,
Good Morning America, and Extra.

ahmed ahmed bio_09.jpg

Egyptian-born, California-raised, Ahmed Ahmed was a guest on ABC's The
View, was the subject of a front-page Wall Street Journal article, and
appeared in a recent Newsweek. He's been seen on Comedy Central, and
headlines regularly at comedy clubs across the country.

This unique comedy pair appeared on PBS's California Connected, Also on
CNN's American Morning with Paula Zahn,the BBC, and NPR. They were
featured in the The Boston Sunday Globe,The Los Angeles Times, on the
front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Philadelphia Inquirer New
York Newsday, AP and Scripps Howard articles.


Posted by shereen at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

When Elizabeth Corrie Speaks, U.S. Americans Should Listen!!

this one packs a powerful punch; so much truth in such little space. God Bless Rachel Corrie!!!! :

A year of silence since Rachel Corrie died
Elizabeth Corrie IHT Thursday, March 4, 2004

Killed in Israel

ATLANTA, Georgia Only a year ago, the month of March would have held the same positive associations for me as it has for many - the beginning of the end of winter, the promise of springtime and even summer. This year, and for every year for the rest of my life, the approach of March will mean something else entirely - the anniversary of the brutal death of my cousin, Rachel Corrie.
On March 16, 2003, an Israeli soldier and his commander ran over Rachel with a nine-ton Caterpillar bulldozer while she stood - unarmed, clearly visible in her orange fluorescent jacket - protecting a Palestinian home slated for demolition by the Israeli army. The death of Rachel Corrie, and the response that her case has - and has not - received, reveal several disturbing, indeed immoral and criminal, truths.
First, Rachel died while attempting to prevent the demolition of a home, a common practice of the Israeli Army's collective punishment that has left more than 12,000 Palestinians homeless since the beginning of the second uprising in September 2000. This practice violates international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Second, Rachel was run over by a Caterpillar bulldozer, manufactured in the United States and sent to Israel as part of the regular U.S. aid package to Israel, which amounts to $3 billion to $4 billion annually, all of it from U.S. taxpayers. The use of Caterpillar bulldozers to destroy civilian homes, not to mention to run over unarmed human rights activists, violates U.S. law, including the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the use of military aid against civilians.
Third, the self-acquittal of the Israeli army for Rachel's death and the resistance of the state of Israel to an independent investigation into this case reveals both the Sharon administration's unwillingness to take responsibility for the death of a U.S. citizen and the Bush administration's cowardice in allowing another nation to attack U.S. citizens with impunity.
Fourth, Rachel's death was in fact only the first of several Israeli attacks on foreign citizens in the West Bank and Gaza. Brian Avery, from New Mexico, was shot in the face on April 5; Tom Hurndall, a British citizen, was shot in the head on April 11 and died Jan. 13, and James Miller, another British citizen, was also shot and killed in April. To date, only in Hurndall's case will the Israeli soldier responsible for the attack face trial, and this is because the British government, after several months, finally responded to the overwhelming evidence presented by the Hurndall family.
As we approach March 16, residents and citizens of the United States should ask themselves how it is that an unarmed U.S. citizen can be killed with impunity by a soldier from an allied nation receiving massive U.S. aid, using a product manufactured in the United States by a U.S. corporation and paid for with U.S. tax dollars. When three Americans were killed, presumably by Palestinians, in an explosion on Oct. 15, 2003, as they traveled through Gaza, the FBI came within 24 hours to investigate the deaths. After one year, neither the FBI nor any other U.S.-led team has done anything to investigate the death of an American killed by an Israeli.
Why the double standard? Perhaps this reveals the most disturbing truth of all.
Elizabeth Corrie is an administrator and teacher in a school in Atlanta.


Posted by shereen at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2004

Muslim Girl Scouts Harassed in Virginia

if little muslim girls are terrorists in training, what the heck are they doing being girl scouts? isn't THAT as "american as applie pie"?:

Man says Brownies selling cookies waging 'violent jihad'

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/6/2004) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR) today called on law enforcement authorities to investigate an
incident in which a group of Muslim Girl Scouts in Virginia was allegedly
harassed by a man who accused them of waging "violent jihad."

The six Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors were selling cookies outside a
Giant grocery store in Herndon, Va., on Saturday when a man began verbally
harassing the girls and their two troop leaders, saying "Jesus saves" and
trying to get them to take a religious tract with a picture of the burning
World Trade Center on the cover. He also referred to what he called the
troop's "false lord."

After repeatedly asking the man to stop his harassing behavior, which was
frightening the girls, one troop leader told him she would call the police.
The man then allegedly said: "You are being a true Muslim, waging violent
jihad." Some of the girls, and the troop leader who said she would call the
police, were wearing Islamic head scarves, or hijab, along with their Girl
Scout uniforms. Police were called to the scene, but did not take action
against the man.

"American Muslim children should be able to take part in public activities
without fear of harassment or religious intimidation," said CAIR
Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. "We call on local and national law
enforcement authorities to look into the case to determine whether this man
constitutes a real threat to the Muslim community." The troop leader filed
a formal complaint with the Herndon Police Department.

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in
Washington, D.C., and has 25 regional offices and chapters nationwide and
in Canada.


Posted by shereen at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)