Thursday, July 2, 2015

'Sugar gel' helps premature babies

A Bangladeshi friend of mine recently brought to my attention a BBC report on usefulness of sugar gel for premature babies.

He wrote:
"Over 1400 years ago, when a child was born, the Prophet (Muhammad (S) PBUH) made it his sunnah to take a small part of a date and place it in his mouth. He would then chew it until it was soft and then rub it onto the palate of the new born baby. This is called Tahneek.
Today, BBC News has reported that "experts" have said - "A dose of sugar given as a gel rubbed into the inside of the cheek is a cheap and effective way to protect premature babies against brain damage"
This is why Muslims follow the sunnah of the messenger without questioning it. Science is only now discovering a tradition that was introduced 1400 years ago because Islam was and still is the forefront of development."

You can read the full story in the BBC by clicking here:

Richard Martinez speaks out about the latest gun violence in Charleston

Remember Christopher Martinez? He was killed in Isla Vista in scenic Santa Barbara, CA (not too far from the university campus where I spent more than two years during my grad study in Nuclear Engineering) due to the culture of gun violence that is devastating American society. Every day 88 Americans are killed with guns. Can our society afford to ignore the problem?

Here is a letter sent from Christopher's dad:

Being Christopher's dad was the most important thing in my life. I haven't gone a single day without thinking of him since he was shot and killed last year in Isla Vista, California.
Each morning, I put on Chris's watch along with a bracelet that serves as a reminder of my purpose -- a reminder to keep fighting for the vision I set the day after my son was killed: Not One More.
Watch the video I made with Everytown about the meaning behind the Not One More bracelet. You can support the movement to end gun violence by getting your own bracelet today.
In addition to Chris's watch and the Not One More bracelet on my left wrist, I also wear many wristbands on my right arm -- each given to me by a grieving parent or loved one, each commemorating a precious life that ended too soon.
These bracelets represent a pledge to stand up for the 88 Americans who are killed every day with guns and the hundreds more who are injured. They symbolize our resolve to do everything we can to prevent future tragedies from happening. In the wake of the terrorist shooting in Charleston, it's even more important to strengthen this movement and spread the message of Not One More.
We don't have to settle for a country where shootings happen every day. We don't have to live this way. I hope you will join me and show you're proud to be part of the movement that's changing the conversation on guns in America.
Watch the video about the inspiration behind the Not One More bracelet -- and get yours today:

Thank you so much for watching, sharing, and being a part of this movement. Not One More.
Richard Martinez

Buddhist monk in drug trafficking business

Narcotics business has become a big one around the globe. It is, however, having a devastating effect on the society from top to bottom. For years, Yaba has been penetrating into Bangladesh from Myanmar and India and has been responsible for addicting hundreds of thousands of youths.

Very few people would ever imagine that some of the most notorious drug carriers or conduits are religious men with  shaven heads and saffron garb. But facts are sometimes stranger than fiction.

A Buddhist monk was arrested with Yaba by NSI (National Security Intelligence) and DB (Detective Branch) police yesterday in the evening from a residential hotel of Bandarban. The arrested Buddhist monk - Twai Cho Wa (Tun Shwe Wa), 30, as per police record - said that he lives at Combonia village of Gozolia union of Bandarban District of Bangladesh, police official said

“Police seized 300 pieces of Yaba tablets worth estimated Taka 300,000.”

According to DB police officer Rofiq Ullah, the Buddhist monk carried Yaba tablets from border area and sells in many different local areas. He has been involved in Yaba smuggling since long. Police believe that he is from Burma.

You can read the full coverage on the report by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Christian Group decides to divest from Israel

The United Church of Christ on Tuesday voted to divest from companies that it says profit from the occupation of Palestinian lands.
The move passed 508-124 with 38 abstentions at the 1.1-million member church’s General Synod meeting in Cleveland. It instructs the church to divest from companies that have “been found to profit from the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel” and specifically singles out Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Solutions, Hewlett-Packard Development Co., G4S and Veolia.
The companies are among a wider group that the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement has targeted, and the wide-reaching vote instructs the United Church of Christ Board, the Pension Boards United Church of Christ, United Church Funds, conferences, local churches, members and other related United Church of Christ entities to divest. While the entities' investments in the companies are considered to be substantial, a church spokesman told HuffPost Tuesday that the exact figure that will be divested is unclear.
“Things have not gotten better [in the region], they have gotten worse. We have to be clear and direct on our strategy that this is not acceptable. We should not be benefiting in any way from the occupation,” said the Rev. John R Deckenback, conference minister of the church’s Central Atlantic Conference, one of the regional bodies that proposed the measure.
Tuesday’s vote culminates a decadelong process for the church, which first began debating measures related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at its Atlanta synod in 2005. Major Jewish organizations, such as the Union for Reform Judaism, have strongly opposed divestment, while smaller groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace have praised the decision made by the UCC and others, as a number of American churches have taken the action.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church also controversially passed divestment-related resolutions last year. At separate governing body meetings this week, the Episcopal Church and the Mennonite Church USA are also debating divestment resolutions.
Divestment “undermines Israel’s legitimacy on the world stage,” said Mark Pelavin, chief program officer of the Union for Reform Judaism. “We see this as detrimental to the cause that we share with many denominations to move forward with the peace process for a two-state solution in the Middle East… The things that isolate Israel on the world stage make it harder rather than easier to move into a peace process.”
John Dorhauer, the newly elected UCC general minister and president, expressed his mixed emotions after the vote. “I will be obligated as the officer of this denomination and by mandate of General Synod to speak publicly the action taken here. But I will do so with a deep awareness at the pain that I will cause to people who I care about deeply,” he said. “And I will do so, to be quite frank, wondering if the benefits of our divesting from those companies is equal to cost to the relationships that we have with people who are critical to our movement towards justice, not just in Palestine but in many other places.”

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Media Treatment of White Terrorism in the USA

On Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina, was having Bible Study. Hours later, 9 Black church members were shot to death by Dylann Roof, a 21 year old White male.

Did Dylann Roof choose the date to send a message to the black community in the USA? After all, the 199-year-old church is the oldest AME Church in the South. Often referred to as "Mother Emanuel", it has played an important role in the history of South Carolina, including the slavery era, the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Lives Matter movement in the 2010s. Its history is closely tied with its co-founder, Denmark Vesey, a former slave who purchased his freedom in 1799. The AME Church was founded in 1816 in response to the exclusion that Blacks received from the broader Methodist denomination; it was a safe haven site for the Underground Railroad.

Vesey was suspected of planning a slave rebellion in Charleston at the stroke of midnight on June 16, 1822, which was to erupt the following day June 17. Thirty-five people, including Vesey, were executed and the church was burned down. Was it a mere coincident that Roof killed his Black victims on the 193rd anniversary of that thwarted slave uprising? The rebuilt church, later known as Emanuel AME Church, was badly damaged in the 1886 Charleston earthquake. The current building dates from 1891.

According to reports in the media, Dylann Roof sat next to Senior Pastor State Senator Clementa Pinckney, initially listening to others during the Bible study. He started to disagree when they began discussing the Bible. At one point, he stood up and pulled a gun. Before shooting his victims, he said, "I have to do it. You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go." He also reportedly said, "Y'all want something to pray about? I'll give you something to pray about." He reloaded his gun five times. He asked one of the survivors, "Did I shoot you?" She replied, "No." Then, he said, "Good, 'cause we need someone to survive, because I'm gonna shoot myself, and you'll be the only survivor." According to the son of one of the victims, who spoke to that survivor, the shooter allegedly turned the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger, but only then discovered he was out of ammunition. Before leaving the church, he reportedly "uttered a racially inflammatory statement" over the victims' bodies.

Roof was captured the next morning (June 18) in a traffic stop in Shelby, North Carolina, approximately 245 miles (394 km) from the shooting scene. That day many flags, including those at the South Carolina State House, were flown at half-staff. The Confederate battle flag flying over the South Carolina Confederate Monument near the state house, however, was not, as South Carolina law prohibits alteration of the flag without the consent of two-thirds of the state legislature. At a statehouse press conference on June 22, 2015, Governor Nikki Haley (originally of Sikh descent from India; now a Methodist Christian), flanked by elected officials of both parties, including U.S. Republican senators and former Republican Governor, called for the flag to be removed by the state legislature, saying that while the flag was "an integral part of our past, it does not represent the future" of South Carolina. "We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer," she said.

The massacre of nine African-Americans in Charleston has been classified as a possible hate crime. But many civil rights advocates are asking why the attack has not officially been called terrorism. Apparently, the killer himself wanted to ignite a race war. He reportedly had told friends and neighbors of his plans to kill people, including a plot to attack the College of Charleston. One image from his Facebook page showed him wearing a jacket decorated with the flags of two nations used as emblems among American white supremacist movements, those of Rhodesia (today called Zimbabwe) and apartheid-era South Africa. Another online photo showed Roof sitting on the hood of his parents' car with an ornamental license plate with a Confederate flag on it. According to his roommate, Roof expressed his support of racial segregation in the United States and had intended to start a civil war. He was agitated during scriptural discussion. To many Bible-thumping Christians, the scripture itself condemns the black people as a ‘cursed’ people (Gen. 9:20-27).

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate and subjugate, especially such use as a political weapon or policy.”

Civil rights advocates said the Charleston attack not only fit the dictionary definition of terrorism but reflected a history of attempts by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups to terrorize African-Americans. Professor Brian Phillips, a terrorism expert, said, "...the massacre in Charleston, S.C. Wednesday was clearly a terrorist act." However, James Comey, the FBI Director disagrees. He said, "Terrorism is act of violence done or threatened in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry, so it's more of a political act, and again, based on what I know, I don't see this as a political act. Doesn't make it any less horrific, but terrorism has a definition under federal law."

In a recent interview with the USA Today, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the themes of social disconnection and an attraction to radical thought expressed on online are responsible for recruitment of homegrown violent extremists like Roof. Lynch said, "People disaffected, people being radicalized online. Roof picked this racial hatred theme and that's what fueled him. Others picked the ISIL theme, and that's what fuels them.''

 Texas Governor Rick Perry called the massacre "an accident." Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (son of Indian immigrants from Punjab; he converted to Christianity), a fellow Republican, stated that it is hard to fathom an “incident” like this happening in America. To the conservative Christians like Bill O’Reilly of the Fox TV it was the action of a ‘disturbed’ individual, designed to terrorize people. In a recent broadcast of his show ‘Factor’, he staunchly insisted that racism is a nearly non-existent problem that is only represented by what he calls the “lunatic fringe.”

Most White Americans probably agree with O’Reilly on this. They see the massacre, committed by a fellow White, as a violent act (and not terrorism) done by a lone wolf – a fringe element of their society. And, as we have seen with other such cases, Roof’s religion – Christianity – is not deemed a problem here. Christianity is excused for the violence committed by one of its members!

It is worth pointing out here that assaults like the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and the attack on an anti-Islamic gathering in Garland, Texas, last month have been widely portrayed as acts of terrorism carried out by ‘Islamic’ extremists and not some ‘lone wolves’. Critics say, however, that assaults against African-Americans and Muslim Americans are rarely, if ever, called terrorism.

Is there a clear case of double standards?

Against the backdrop of rising worries about the Middle East, esp. ISIL, civil rights advocates see hypocrisy in the way the Charleston attack and the man under arrest in the shooting have been described by law enforcement officials and the news media.

“We have been conditioned to accept that if the violence is committed by a Muslim, then it is terrorism,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights advocacy group in Washington, said in a telephone interview. “If the same violence is committed by a white supremacist or apartheid sympathizer and is not a Muslim, we start to look for excuses — he might be insane, maybe he was pushed too hard,” Mr. Awad said.

Dean Obeidallah, a Muslim American radio show host and commentator, said it should be obvious that the Charleston killer was a terrorist. “We have a man who intentionally went to a black church, had animus toward black people and assassinated an elected official and eight other people,” he said. “It seems he was motivated by a desire to terrorize and kill black people.”

Samuel Sinyangwe, a civil rights activist who has helped chronicle violence against African-Americans, wrote on Twitter: “#CharlestonShooting terrorist wore an Apartheid flag on his jacket. If a Muslim man wore an ISIS flag, he wouldn’t get past mall security.”

Experts tell us that assailants who are white are far less likely to be described by the authorities as terrorists. Commenting on the Waco biker gang violence in May, 2015, Sally Kohn, a CNN political commentator, wrote, “One of the most distinct characteristics of white privilege is the privilege to be unique. When white people commit violent acts, they are treated as aberrations, slips described with adjectives that show they are unusual and in no way representative of the broader racial group to which they belong.  In fact, in much of the coverage of the Waco shootings, the race of the gang members isn't even mentioned, although pictures of the aftermath show groups of white bikers being held by police. By comparison, the day after Freddie Gray died in the custody of police officers in Baltimore, not only did most coverage mention that Gray was black, but also included a quote from the deputy police commissioner noting Gray was arrested in ‘a high-crime area known to have high narcotic incidents,’ implicitly smearing Gray and the entire community.

Kohn continued, “Research shows that implicit bias against black and brown people is real, as is white privilege. And studies show that white people greatly overestimate the share of crimes committed by black people. Is it any wonder, given the racialized nature with which we cover crime? According to one study, television stations covered crimes committed by black people in greater proportion than their actual share of criminal acts in the city.”

Amy Julia Harris – who writes for the Center for Investigative Reporting – similarly comments that when the shooter is black, the entire race is guilty; but when the shooter is white, he or she is viewed by the public (and the media) as a ‘troubled lone wolf’.

Worse is the case with Muslims. When the shooter is a Muslim, the entire religion is guilty. When one Muslim person even threatens violence in the United States, it is treated as terrorism of crisis-like proportions, and the person may rot in the jail for decades. The judicial mantra ‘everyone is innocent until proven otherwise’ does not seem to shield them from such allegations. It is patently obvious that the media and society at large treats criminals of color with more severe, less-balanced judgements than they do white criminals.

A 2011 survey by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found that Americans are much more willing to say Muslim extremists who commit violence in the name of Islam are really Muslims than they are to say Christian extremists who kill in the name of God are truly Christians. Overall, 83 percent of Americans surveyed said that people who commit violence and claim to be Christians are not really Christian. Interestingly, this poll was conducted not in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 or another terrorist attack in the name of Islam, but in the wake of the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik, who is often called a Christian terrorist, killed 77 Norwegians by setting off a bomb and gunning down victims. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News stridently said, “Breivik is not a Christian.” “No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder,” O’Reilly said. “The man might have called himself a Christian on the ’net, but he is certainly not of that faith.”

When it comes to Muslim suspects, I wish Christian apologists like O’Reilly had the impartiality to separate their crime from their religion. What would one call such an attitude but hypocrisy?

Explaining the 2011 survey, Robert P. Jones, the institute’s CEO, said, “Americans gave the answers they gave in the context of a blond-haired, blue-eyed, white Christian man committing terrorism. Even when they had a palpable example of someone who linked violence with his Christian faith, they weren’t willing to buy it at the end of the day.”

That is why, it is not difficult to understand the white American nonchalant attitude towards the latest terrorism committed by a fellow White Christian. In their passionate whitewashing of gruesome acts of terrorism by one of their own race, the Whites duck the fact that White right-wing domestic terrorism is one of the greatest threats to public safety and security in the post 9/11 America. Such a hard fact is, sadly, forbidden in mainstream American public discourse.

In the context of AME terrorism, it may be proper for White Americans to self-introspect and look into the mirror. What is radicalizing white men to commit such acts of domestic terrorism and mass shootings? Is something wrong with the white family? Why are their sons and men so violent? When will white leadership step up and stop white right-wing domestic terrorism? Are Fox News and the right-wing media encouraging violence? Is White American culture pathological? Why is White America so violent? Are there appropriate role models for white men and boys? Could better role models and mentoring help to prevent white men and boys from committing mass shootings and being seduced by right-wing domestic terrorism? Is there something wrong with Christianity? Is Bible the problem for their violence?

If they can’t look into the mirror of self-introspection, either every mass murderer of any race and religion should enjoy the “mentally disturbed” identity (that the mainstream media pampers about white spree killers with), or nobody deserves it. Let’s bury prejudice and call a spade a spade.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Hatemongering is big money for many born out-of-wedlock individuals

Here is an interesting article from MDI - Islamophobia is big money for well known Islamphobes

Why do Pamela Geller et al. do it? Sure, they believe it. But they get bankrolled to do it—and on a major scale.
People keep asking me why does Pam Geller spew so much anti-Muslim crap? Is it part of her work as a pro-Israel activist? Did she once get food poisoning at a Middle Eastern restaurant? Is it simply because she really, really hates Muslims?
Probably all the above, but one other thing is certain: Geller gets paid pretty well to demonize Muslims. I’m talking to the tune of $200,000 a year. True, that might be walking around money for Donald Trump (who actually bashed Geller this week for her draw the Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest), but that puts her in the top 5 percent of all Americans in terms of annual income. Now, $200,000 doesn’t make a person rich these days (although the $9 million in combined divorce settlement and life-insurance payments she reportedly got certainly qualifies her). But for what she does, it’s handsome pay.
In fact, many of the people identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Center for American Progress (CAP) as the leaders of the anti-Muslim industry in America are paid well for their efforts. I’m talking so much money I almost want to start hating on Muslims—and I’m Muslim.
In Geller’s case, her salary is paid from her organization the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a group listed by the SPLC as an active “anti-Muslim organization.” In 2013, the AFDI reported $958,800 in gross receipts and paid Geller a base salary of $192,500, plus $18,750 in other income (PDF).
Not bad for a group created, per AFDI’s tax returns, to act “against the treason being committed by the national, state and local government officials, the mainstream media and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic Supremacism.” This is truly one step removed from tin foil hats and claims that the government has bugged your cheese.
But Geller, who has also been denounced by the ADL for vilifying Muslims, is just one of many profiting from hate (PDF). As Matt Duss, a former policy analyst for the Center for American Progress and now president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, noted, “It’s certainly been a lucrative industry for leading anti-Muslim bigots. Tens of millions of dollars have been poured into this.”
Duss is truly an expert in this field, having co-authored a report released in February titled “Fear, Inc. 2.0” (PDF) that investigated the Islamophobia network in America and traced the funds used to support its key players. For example, the report notes that Frank Gaffney, Fox News regular (of course), is one of the leaders of the anti-Muslim movement and is the primary engineer of the claim that Muslims want to impose Islamic law across America. Gaffney has even argued that giving Muslim Americans a day off from work for Muslim holidays is a form of imposing sharia law.
Well, Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP) in 2012 reported $3.2 million in revenue. And Gaffney, as president, paid himself $300,000 a year for his work in demonizing Muslims.
Then there’s David Horowitz, a man described by the SPLC as “the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement.” He has also been denounced by the ADL for his work that “promotes anti-Muslim views and features events with anti-Muslim activists.” (PDF)
For example, Horowitz has tried to bully and marginalize Muslim-American college students by claiming that the Muslim Student Associations are“associated with terrorist organizations” and intend to “kill the Jews, to push them into the sea.”
Being “the godfather” of anti-Muslim hate appears to pay well. Horowitz’s Freedom Center in 2013 saw over $7.2 million in gross receipts and Horowitz was paid $525,000 in salary (PDF). And Horowitz even bankrolls Robert Spencer, another well-known Muslim-basher, with a $167,000-a-year salary.
Now in Horowitz’s defense, he doesn’t focus just on demonizing Muslims. He has also made other hateful comments like “There’s no community that’s more racist in America than the black community.” This guy is making a lot, but he is really earning his money.
And who can forget Brigitte Gabriel, another Fox News staple who demonizes Muslims at every turn.  Gabriel runs Act for America!, which the SPLC has noted is part of the “anti-Muslim inner circle.” Gabriel has given us such anti-Muslim classics as “America has been infiltrated on all levels by radicals who wish to harm America. They have infiltrated us at the C.I.A., at the F.B.I., at the Pentagon, at the State Department.
How much does Gabriel get paid to offer that type of garbage? Per Act for America’s 2012 tax returns, she was paid a $132,000 base salary and $84,090 as a bonus (PDF). I wonder if she earns that bonus by dishing out such off-the-wall claims as “tens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America…attending our colleges and universities, even infiltrating our government.
So who funds these organizations? Well that’s more challenging to determine. It’s like trying to figure the names of the people who fund the Klan or neo-Nazis—not too many people advertise their support for them. But the Fear, Inc. report found that certain key foundations have donated close to $60 million in recent years to these anti-Muslim advocates.
The most notable are the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Scaife Foundation, which each have donated over $5 million (PDF) to David Horowitz’s Freedom Center. The Scaife Foundation also donated over $3 million to Frank Gaffney’s CSP.
Why do they fund these groups is a big question. Duss explained that in his view it’s “because a group of hawkish conservative funders clearly see a political benefit to stoking Americans’ fears and suspicions of their fellow citizens who are Muslims.” This means we may see even more money flowing to these anti-Muslim advocates in the 2016 presidential race.
The bottom line is that the anti-Muslim industry is lucrative and not going anywhere soon. But at least now we can understand why some of these people engage in such hateful activities: It’s a living. And a nice one.

Homegrown terror from extremists

According to a recent report in the New York Times, in the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants.
But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed radical Muslims, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

Homegrown Terrorism
In the United States since Sept. 11, terrorist attacks by antigovernment, racist and other non-Muslim  extremists have killed nearly twice as many people as those by radical Muslims.

The contentious question of biased perceptions of terrorist threats dates back at least two decades, to the truck bombing that tore apart the federal building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. Some early news media speculation about the attack assumed that it had been carried out by Muslim militants. The arrest of Timothy J. McVeigh, an antigovernment extremist, quickly put an end to such theories.
The bombing, which killed 168 people, including 19 children, remains the second-deadliest terrorist attack in American history, though its toll was dwarfed by the roughly 3,000 killed on Sept 11.
“If there’s one lesson we seem to have forgotten 20 years after Oklahoma City, it’s that extremist violence comes in all shapes and sizes,” said Dr. Horgan, the University of Massachusetts scholar. “And very often, it comes from someplace you’re least suspecting.”      
Nonjihadist extremists
Fort Hood shooting
Boston Marathon bombing
Charleston shooting