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Abdulwahab’s Extreme Views and Farasat Latif

April 24th 2011

Your article entitled Neutrality Will Not Shield Sweden from Terrorism (see Security, January 10,2011), by Walid Phares quoted me as saying: "Farasat Latif, the secretary of the Luton mosque to which Abdulwahab belonged, said, “Despite Abdulwahab’s extreme views, nothing pointed to the fact that he was going to do something stupid.” While not rock-solid evidence of a plot in the making, Abdulwahab’s “extreme views” were at least an indication that he was a potential danger to others. Contradicting his statement above, Latif added, “Soon Abdulwahab began making extremist statements focusing on suicide bombings.”

As for the second statement; "Soon Abdulwahab began making extremist statements focusing on suicide bombings”, I never said such a thing. Abdulwahab's main focus was on the Muslim leaders, and the Muslim scholars. His brief episode with our mosque lasted no longer than 3 weeks in the summer of 2007 during which time he never espoused violence. Although at the time, we were criticized for not reporting him, would we now, in light of the upheaval in the Middle East, be expected to report someone who called for the overthrow of a Muslim leader.

Farasat Latif is Secretary of the Islamic Centre, Luton.

Nelson and Stern Statement Helps Afflict Jewish Campus Experience

April 23rd 2011
I applaud the comments of Kenneth L. Marcus in his analysis of the over-reaching protective proclamation by Cary Nelson and Kenneth Stern in aide and service of campus hate speech against Jews (see The Wrong Statement on Campus Anti-Semitism, Opinion April 22, 2011). Why a Jewish organization, the American Jewish Committee, would take pains on the Jewish holiday of Passover to help the further affliction the Jewish experience is baffling. People should think about that before donating. Not all speech is protected and some is downright dangerous, some purely illegal. Hate speech is real. Sexual harassment is real. Bullying is real. Threats are real. A balance must struck between free speech and harm, just as there is a balance between free religion and harm. The threat goes way beyond the "fire in the theater" analogy. If displaying a noose on the locker of an African-American fireman creates a hostile environment--and there are many more examples, than surely, we can understand how Jews would be entitled to the same level of peace on campus.

Pepco Broke my Computers With Outages

April 22nd 2011
I work in Rockville, Maryland and the historic outages that Pepco inflicted on the DC area were so numerous, so prolonged, and so punishing when the on-off on-off nightmare sequences began, that I lost two new computers. No one will pay me for these. It cost me thousands. The new legislation will help millions of companies and residents--but it is not tough enough. Pepco needs to not only pay penalties to the state, they need to pay claims by individuals and businesses.

Pepco Must be Made Responsible for Electricity Outages

April 21st 2011

I am very pleased to report that the Maryland Electricity Service Quality and Reliability Act has passed the General Assembly and is going to Governor O’Malley for his signature. Our goal is to ensure that electric power companies provide their customers with high levels of service quality and reliability in a cost effective manner.  The amended bill requires the Public Service Commission to establish certain standards relating to downed wire response, service interruption, vegetation management, customer communication, and periodic equipment inspections. Each company will be held accountable if it fails to deliver reliable service. The penalties assessed for failing to meet these standards are considerable.  Provisions include: $25K per violation per day on penalties, increased penalties for safety violations, and the utilities are prohibited from passing on the costs of penalties to the ratepayers. The bill is an emergency bill so it takes effect as soon as the governor signs it into law. When I first asked the Public Service Commission to investigate Pepco’s power outages after the 2010 snow disasters and testified at its first hearing on the problems in March 2010, I certainly did not expect the outages to continue this long or Pepco to be so unresponsive. When we introduced this comprehensive legislation, many delegates, who have other utilities, had no idea of the extent of our outages and the safety, health, and economic problems that resulted. I give special thanks to the Prime Sponsor of this bill Delegate Brian Feldman, Delegate Brian McHale (floor leader) the entire Montgomery County Delegation, Governor O’Malley, and Councilmember Roger Berliner.

Kumar Barve is the Democratic Majority Leader in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Peaceful Existence of Amazonia Under Threat

April 20th 2011

In a piece by Michael Reaney, (see Peruvian Presidential Election May Decide Amazon Future, Analys, April 11, 2011), the issue of rampant deforestation and its devastating consequences for the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon, contacted and uncontacted alike, was addressed.  The consequences of illegal logging for the uncontacted peoples of the Amazon could be especially tragic, as contact with outsiders could mean exposure to diseases that uncontacted groups have no immunity to. History shows that such exposure can fatally diminish a group to a fraction of its number even in the space of one year.  Yet this potential loss of life can be avoided, if there is the political will to enforce policies that promote the rights of the indigenous peoples. Those who tuned into Discovery Channel on Sunday night (April 17) to watch ‘Human Planet - Grasslands and Jungles,’ would have seen the aerial video footage (http://www.uncontactedtribes.org/) of one of these uncontacted tribes inhabiting the Amazon. But the peaceful existence of these peoples is under threat. If your readers could take a moment to sign Survivals petition (http://www.uncontactedtribes.org/act-now) to President Garcia, it would add to the weight of nearly 100,000 voices who have already asked Peru’s President to stop invading logging and oil companies in indigenous territories.  We need as many voices as possible to insist that Peru's prosperity is dependent on policies that protect its people and the environment they depend on.  Thank you for your consideration and action, and please spread the word about the work of Survival International.

Arrogant Hawaiian Tourism Officials Too Much for Aussie

April 19th 2011
I can empathize with the content of your article on the arrogant sleepy heads running the tourism offices in Hawaii (see Sustained Drop in Japanese Visitors Has Befuddled Hawaiian Tourism Officials At a Loss, Page One April 18, 2011). My family tried to visit last year, and received so many dodgy stories from the airlines and tourism offices, we gave up and went to Malaysia. Hawaii is beautiful I am sure. So is Malaysia with astonishing beaches, vastly cheaper rates all around, and no arrogant attitude by tourism hucksters or people with an attitude that says: "We don't need you." Now, today, Hawaii does need all the extra bookings it can get--but now, today, I am planning a return trip to guess where? To the heavenly shores of Langkawi in Malaysia.

Keystone Cops Running Hawaii Tourism

April 19th 2011
Your excellent coverage of the bust in Hawaii's tourism (see Sustained Drop in Japanese Visitors Has Befuddled Hawaiian Tourism Officials At a Loss, Page One April 18, 2011) only confirmed to me that Keystone Cops abound in government funded or allied agencies. We have seen it here in Detroit where the city refused to see the warning signs of an economic collapse tied to one sector--the auto industry. Hawaii seems to be in the same pickle with a sudden downfall in its tourism and a slow reaction because for years it has been a cushy industry. But here we see that Michigan tourism officials actually has picked up the ball and started running with an energetic advertising program and reach out. Call Michigan tourism --they will pick up the phone. I like many other people owe my job to a rebounding tourism field in this state. The Keystone Cops in Hawaii should take a lesson. It may be colder here, but we offer a warm reception--and we answer the phone.

Hawaiian Airlines Difficult to Deal With

April 19th 2011
I was not surprised by your reporter's comment that Hawaiian Airlines does not return calls (see Sustained Drop in Japanese Visitors Has Befuddled Hawaiian Tourism Officials At a Loss, Page One April 18, 2011). Earlier this year we had a less than happy experience with them. Our hopes to fly to Honolulu were dashed because we could not get solid information about flights and charges. Their operators are very courteous but their English can hardly be understood, and every time we called, we got a different answer. By the time we finally figured things out, the fairs had zoomed. So as wonderful as their in-air service is reputed to be, Hawaiian has a long way to go if people are put off before every stepping on the aircraft.

ElBaradei is the Advance Man for the Muslim Brotherhood

April 18th 2011
I am glad that someone is bringing out the fact that the media darling, Mohammad ElBaradei, despite his Nobel Prize and his prior status as the obstructionist former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is at this time a mere advance man for the Muslim Brotherhood (see Increasing Concern Over Connections between Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's Leading Presidential Contender, Analysis April 18, 2011). He is a radical Islamist advance man, but he is dressed in a three-piece suit. The man is as radical and any of his colleagues. ElBaradei's recent proclamation to the newspapers that, “if Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime," fits perfectly with the Hamas strategy of provoking Israel into a major military action. The mainstream media will never learn. But we should learn not to listen to the mainstream media.

A-380 Incident--Just another Reason Not to Fly Qantas to Australia

April 13th 2011
The recent collision at JFK of an Air France A-380 is just another reason for me not to fly Qantas on my next trip to Sydney. I plan to fly Down Under in a month, but I have been put off by the horrible A-380 safety record at Qantas and the evasive answers I get when I call the airline with questions. This latest incident at JFK seals it for me. I will fly any airline that does not use A-380s.

Earthquakes--Millions of Years in the Making

April 11th 2011

What will take to convince the public and the government that earthquakes are events millions of years in the making? Your article on earthquake readiness was most timely (see Lax School Construction Oversight Raises Doubts about Earthquake Safety, Features April 11, 2011). Shall we learn nothing from the Japan calamity? The planet does not ask for permission before disrupting the landscape. We must be prepared not just for the recent past, but for the geological past.

Jewish Students Sent to Meet with Hamas

April 11th 2011
A recently published letter to Chancellor Drake of UC Irvine signed by the O.C. Jewish Federation and the Rose Project dated October 8th. 2009 clearly shows the extent to which the Olive Tree Initiative and UCI were prepared to go in order to conceal the very real danger in which they had placed students when they arranged a secret meeting with an Hamas leader well inside the disputed territories. It seems their devotion to burnishing their liberal, one-way multiculturalist credentials far exceeded their responsibility to their students and constituted a prima facie case of reckless endangerment as well as an awful lapse of judgment. The students were deliberately put in harm's way and for what exactly? What sort of arrangements had been made for their security? Who was going to rescue them if anything went wrong while they were in the lion's den? Who was going to make the call to their parents if they had been kidnapped or murdered? How was this surreptitious meeting with an avowed Jew-killer supposed to enhance the students' understanding of Judaism or the State of Israel which, after all, was the ostensible purpose of the trip? Read more ..

Mosques Are Supposed to Be Places of Peace Not Violent Agitation

April 4th 2011
Mosques are supposed to be places of peace not violent agitation--we are told this every time a community objects to the construction of yet another giant mosque. But look at what happens every Friday in the news after Muslim prayers. Riots and horrid violence break out. Not just in one place--but throughout the Muslim world from Afghanistan to Tunisia. Last Friday, after prayers, the crowds in Afghanistan raced over to the UN headquarters and murdered seven people--including the beheading of two--because they were angered over an unknown preacher in Florida supposedly burning a Koran. The Christian church, the Mormon temple, the Jewish synagogue, and the Catholic cathedral are all places of peace where people emerge in peace and brotherhood. My church ends its mass telling all to "go in peace." So explain what is happening at the mosque that produces such violent effects?

Tokyo Nuclear Disaster and Israeli Solution Recalls BP Intransigence

March 30th 2011
If there is a solution or a potential solution of containing the entire nuclear disaster with new Israeli technology--monster domes, why haven't we heard that the fixes are being rushed into Japan (see Technology from Israel Can make Tokyo Safe from fallout in 3 Weeks, Sci-tech March 28, 2011). To me, this recalls BP's intransigence over stemming its oil spill. If something is not done soon, the fallout will become worse worldwide. Nor do I believe our public officials who claim the radioactivity will never reach our shores. No one knows how bad it is, or how bad it may become.

Hawaii Tourism Officials Need to be Nimble

March 28th 2011
I was stationed in Hawaii some years ago. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I hope Hawaii Tourism officials can be nimble enough to redirect their efforts to make up for the unfortunate lost of Japanese tourisms (see Shocked Hawaii Tourism Reps Scramble As Japanese Visits Drop Sharply, Page One March 21, 2011). If not, replace them. Nowadays, no one can rest on their laurels.

LA Times Reveals Shattered Moral Compass on Fogel Massacre

March 23rd 2011
Israel's decision to build more apartments for its citizens in Judea and Samaria is undoubtedly unpopular with the Palestinian Arabs and their sycophants in the international community. Nevertheless, to argue as the Los Angeles Times did that this construction is part of the "cycle of violence" that "provoked" last week's bloody massacre of a Jewish family reveals a shattered moral compass. Their editorial repeated the canard that the Jewish settlements violate international law. There is no legal treaty that prohibits Jews from living in any part of Israel. Further, such an accusation becomes grist for the incitement to murder. Israel's decision to build apartments may be controversial as a matter of policy. To compare it to killing children, however, is to rationalize evil. 

The writer is national vice chairman of the Zionist Organization of America.

Hawaii Tourism Officials Should Not be Paralyzed

March 21st 2011
As one who previously lived in Hawaii, and has friends still in the hotel business there, I can tell you that Hawaii's natural riches and beauty are a treasure for all the world. After learning of the toll on Hawaii that the Japanese quake and subsequent reduction in tourism has taken (see Shocked Hawaii Tourism Reps Scramble As Japanese Visits Drop Sharply, Page One March 21, 2011), I hope that its tourism officials will rise to the occasion, get off their duff, and lose their paralysis. They need to find other markets including Canadians who would relish the paradise that is Hawaii. Wake up Hawaii tourism people. We cannot allow the all-important tourism infrastructure to further decline.

Cancelling Hawaii Visit if Americans not Appreciated as much as Japanese

March 21st 2011
I was astonished to read that Hawaiian tourism prefers Japanese to American travelers because Japanese spend more money than U.S. citizens (see Shocked Hawaii Tourism Reps Scramble As Japanese Visits Drop Sharply, Page One, March 21, 2011). We were determined to go someplace exotic this year and remain in the USA. The flight to Honolulu from Philadelphia is a long and grueling one. I figure about 12 hours with the layovers. San Francisco and San Diego are only half that. The US Virgins are even closer. I will be canceling my two-week Hawaii vacation if Americans are not appreciated as much as Japanese because they spend double what we do. Everyone's heart goes out to the Japanese now. And we sympathize with the damage Hawaii has sustained on its own shores and from Japan's heartbreaking crisis. In this moment, perhaps Hawaiian tourism officials can open their eyes to their fellow Americans.

Japan Quake Show Oil Dependence a Shakey Proposition

March 14th 2011
The massive earthquake in Japan has rocked more than nuclear plants. It has also threatened the oil refineries and pipelines. The same can happen in America after a tornado, tsunami, or earthquake. Or terrorism. We are not prepared for any such calamity especially since even the Strategic Petroleum Reserve reportedly contains only a few weeks of stock and only unrefined oil. Time to rethink our dependence on oil and the shaky oil infrastructure--and start to think about batteries, natural gas, bio fuels, and other means of moving around. Studies show we can do it, if we just show the will.

Cuomo's Plan to Move Deaf Students Does Not Make Sense

March 9th 2011
New York Governor Cuomo's proposal to eliminate state funded schools for the deaf and move Deaf students into public school districts does not make sense. Schools for the deaf offer an inclusive, language rich environment to Deaf students using American Sign Language, a visual language that is equally accessible, while public schools are disorganized and inconsistent in how they educate Deaf students. Furthermore, schools for the deaf in our country have been around since American School for the Deaf was first established in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817.  The schools are valuable, historical centers of American Deaf culture and language. To shut them down is a domino effect of launching cultural genocide against the Deaf community. If it's about saving New York state money, I believe Governor Cuomo is misinformed because the other motive is too dark.

Deaf Community Nationwide Appeal to NY Gov. Cuomo

March 9th 2011

We appeal to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: All eyes across America are on New York’s legislative session, and we are joining millions of Americans to strongly object to your proposed budget elimination of the 4201 Schools for the Deaf. We strongly recommend that you take this proposed elimination of 4201 State Schools for the Deaf off the table. Not only would the proposed elimination of 4201 be in violation with Federal and state mandates, and unethical being that there has been virtually no deaf and hard of hearing stakeholder input to such proposal prior to this session, but the astronomical cost factor to the state would far outweigh the existing line item costs the state currently expends to provide quality education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students throughout the state of New York. Each school district has been unable to serve the students which is why they were referred to receive an education at one of the 4201 Schools. The cost to New York would be additional funding to every school district throughout the state: 1) for personnel they currently do not have for age appropriate placement; 2) critical mass needed per class per district , which would mean additional salaries and benefits and classroom costs for hiring new and qualified teachers for the Deaf; 3) not to mention, the state personnel board would need to fund hiring human resources personnel to locate such teachers to ensure their qualifications and certification clearly show Deaf Education expertise as well as fluent in American Sign Language. Additional costs to school districts are: 1) sign language interpreters (of which there is a paucity of actual qualified interpreters); 2) auxiliary aids, and other assistive devices for every classroom in every school district.

If placement is out of line with every child’s IEP, every parent will have due process to file suit against the state of New York. Bottom line, the cost to shift the 4201 Schools for the Deaf to ill-prepared school districts could result in approximately over $150 million above the cost of the existing line item. Whatever for? We believe you have been ill-advised and request that you step forward to reverse this proposed line item elimination.  Stand for quality, equality, and advocate for the minority – Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students who reside in New York – 4201 Schools for the Deaf. Do the right thing – take the elimination off the table. 

Sheri Farinha and Marla Hatrak are co-Chairs of the California Stakeholders for ASL & English. 

Congress Should Proceed with Islamic Extremism Hearing and Include Scholars Such as Phares

March 9th 2011

The hearings on Islamic extremism scheduled by Rep. Peter King must move forward and should include our best experts, that is, those without a political ax to grind. When I read that scholar Walid Phares would be dropped from King's witness list, (see NY Congressman King Fends off Critics on Top Terror Expert Testimony at Congressional Hearings, News March 3, 2011), I asked whether this series of hearings is going to be yet another politically correct exercise--or honestly identify a true threat to the nation and the world. I have heard Phares. He speaks the Arabic language, knows the movements from the inside, and should be at the top of the list, not crossed off. For that matter, get the eminent scholar Bernard Lewis, analyst Brigitte Gabriel, historian Edwin Black, and expert Steve Emerson. We must all be sensitive to Muslim citizens, but Islamic extremism is a threat to us all, and someone must finally look at what is happening. We must talk to the most knowledgeable and face the facts.

King Should not Fear the Truth from Walid Phares

March 9th 2011
Rep. Peter King should not fear the testimony of noted Islamic terror expert Walid Phares as has been reported in The Cutting Edge (see NY Congressman King Fends off Critics on Top Terror Expert Testimony at Congressional Hearings, News March 3, 2011). As one who has read one of Phares's recent books and seen him on TV, his views are rationale, carefully pronounced, and extremely informed. He is giving us the truth in a balanced, nuanced message. Congress and Rep. King should listen and act accordingly.

Obama Has No Plan for Oil Shutoff

March 8th 2011
For the longest time, in fact for many years, the voices of reason and sanity, have urged our leaders to prepare for the next oil shutdown from the Arab world. Does it not seem this frequently threatened calamity is ever more possible today. Yet the Obama administration is no more willing than prior administrations to get us off oil, or to prepare for oil shutdown. Lip service will not do. Half-hearted programs will not do. We need a crash program--for real. When do we get that.

Farhud Arab-Nazi Alliance Vibrant and Must Not be Obscured

February 28th 2011
Last weekend, I was amazed as I watch an apparent Book TV re-run Edwin Black speaking on his book The Farhud. I guess I am one of the many who had no idea this was the case, that Arabs and Nazis enjoyed a vibrant alliance across Europe and the Middle East. I have been the Holocaust Museum in Washington twice and never saw this there. This fits right in with the entire room of survivors and experts in the synagogue on Book TV agreeing that the Holocaust Museum obscures this information. But why? I then went onto this website and discovered Lyn Julius' review of The Farhud (see Edwin Black's 'The Farhud' Makes for Uncomfortable but Necessary Reading, Arts December 27, 2010). I have now purchased a copy. Black stated and Julius warned: "This book is a nightmare..." I cannot sleep with this book in my mind. It is a nightmare. With the uprisings in the Arab world now playing out, no wonder Book TV ran the lecture again. But are we to see to another nightmare in the near future? This is the question.

Be Fair to University of Wisconsin Press

February 28th 2011
As an alum of the University of Wisconsin, I think your recent letter writers who have called for drastic budget reviews at the University of Wisconsin Press should rethink their position. Knowledge is precious and sometimes its value does not make itself known immediately. The publishing track record of the press might seem irrelevant today, but in the years to come it may be praised for keen foresight and a great contribution. Be fair to the press. It has a valuable role to play.

Israel is an Island of Stability in a Middle East Sea of Rage and Violence

February 21st 2011
By now it must be obvious to the world that Israel seems an like an island of stability in a Middle East sea of rage and violence. Just look at the mass protests, government massacres, slashed throats, Internet cut-offs, public rapes, brutal dictators. Meanwhile, Israel is calm, America is welcomed, and foreigners do not have to fear for their life. What have we been missing in this country about the truth regarding the Middle East. The headlines now also show the big lie we have been fed: "Israel is at the core of all problems in the Middle East." It looks like each Arab country has its own stew of problems that have nothing to do with Israel--and everything to do with how these countries have evolved.

Borders Book Store Closures Open Floodgates of Book and Music Theft

February 20th 2011
Has it occurred to anyone that all these tempting blow-out sales at bankrupt Borders Books around the country--being advertised at scores of stores across the nation--mean great opportunities for consumers to steal music, books, videos, fancy diaries, and other literary and musical trappings? Yes, Borders will sell them all at half off or so, but the musicians, authors, video makers ands others who have worked so hard to create these products will not be paid. It is theft made possible by a billion-dollar American corporation. Here we are screaming at China for ripping off artist rights--and Borders is asking the entire country to participate in the same thing. Borders has opened the floodgates on consumer theft. Shame on Borders and shame on anyone who buys anything there.

University of Wisconsin Press and Budget Cut Priorities

February 18th 2011
Way back when, I was a student in Wisconsin. I always thought then that the University of Wisconsin Press was unnecessary. Seeing what is going on just north of here, with virtually everything on the chopping block, I could not agree more with prior writers. Any funding or free rent for University of Wisconsin Press should be at the top of the list for budget cuts. The same logic should also apply to many other university presses throughout the country that publish obscure books that few want to read at taxpayer expense. Are these publishing operations a priority, especially with the advent of electronic books. The world is changing. In academia the phrase is "publish or perish." Time for taxpayers to pick one.

University of Wisconsin Press and State Budget Crisis--Yes Cut It

February 18th 2011
In response to calls to slash the state budget, I think it would make a far greater contribution to education to slash any funding to the University of Wisconsin Press. I just looked at their latest line-up. It includes one book entitled Greek Prostitutes and another called Composing While Dancing. Our state is broke, and we are spending money we don't have to publish such books. I agree with another writer. More money to this operation--yes, cut it. Which would you rather have, a book on Greek prostitutes or firemen?

CBS Correspondent Lora Logan Accused by Mob as "Jewish" in Sexual Assault

February 17th 2011

We are deeply concerned that pro-democracy uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East have led to violence and intimidation against news crews and journalists working the frontlines of the demonstrations. It is also troubling that in at least three of the more violent episodes, including the brutal sexual assault on CBS News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Lara Logan, the perpetrators accused the journalists of being Jewish, or of spying for Israel. Regardless of who was responsible, these assaults serve as a powerful reminder that as Egypt contemplates democratic reforms, freedom of the press is fundamental. In an open democracy different points of view get expressed and reported on, and journalists are not intimidated into silence. Unfortunately for far too long the former Egyptian regime pursued a policy where dissent in the press was stifled, and where the government-sponsored media was allowed to promote anti-Semitism and anti-Israel invective. As we have seen in some of the attacks against news reporters and crews, these attitudes continue to leech out and infect the views of the broader society. As the reform movement gains traction across the Middle East, we will continue to actively advocate for and speak out about the need for a focus on press freedom. We will be calling on the new leadership in Cairo to ensure the ability of domestic and foreign journalists to operate freely, and safely, without fear of intimidation.

Abraham H. Foxman is national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Wisconsin Budget Crisis Should Not Overlook the University of Wisconsin Press

February 17th 2011
As I write this, the state is an uproar over education cuts and a massive $3-4 billion hole in our budget. The list of where to cut is long. The rancor is boiling. The national guard is deployed. In this mess, I would hope that budget planners would not overlook the University of Wisconsin Press. Based on their track record, perhaps our state would be better off if the University of Wisconsin Press agenda and modus operandi was pursued without access to state resources. Just as many are urging the federal government to cease funding NPR, I think our own state has some housekeeping of its own to see to. Our own children in Wisconsin need to obtain an education. We need to concentrate our monies where it will do the most good.

Criticism and Rebuttal of "The Muslim Brotherhood's March to Victory"

February 16th 2011

I write in response to Dr Rachel Ehrenfeld’s article The Muslim Brotherhood's March to Victory, which appeared on the Cutting Edge News site on January 18, with a follow-up article January 30, 2011. In her first piece, Dr. Ehrenfeld, of the New York-based American Center for Democracy, makes serious and unsubstantiated allegations against the United Nations and its partners; specifically against the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and its major donors, the US and the European Union. UNRWA takes attacks on its integrity and that of its major donors extremely seriously. 

Ehrenfeld fails to provide any evidence to back up the allegation that UNRWA, the EU and USAID are complicit in funding Hamas. To quote her directly, “The MB [Muslim Brotherhood] Palestinian branch, Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the E.U. and U.S., seems to derive large sums of money from the EU, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and even the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).”

UNRWA is dependent almost entirely on funding from UN member states. This funding allows UNRWA, in accordance with our mandate and at the behest of all UN member states, including Israel, to carry out essential human development work in the absence of a political resolution to the Palestine refugee issue. Our funding rests firmly in the hands of international officials dedicated to upholding impartiality and promoting UN norms and principles. Tight controls act as a check against abuse of UNRWA facilities by any party, and ensure that aid and other services such as education only go to eligible beneficiaries. In fact, since 2006, UNRWA and other non-Hamas affiliated organizations have been explicitly cited by donors such as USAID as a means of providing aid to Palestinians without supporting Hamas. This is matter of public record.

As for UNRWA’s online fundraising efforts, it is not clear to what Dr Ehrenfeld objects, as she mentions our website donation process oddly without comment. Like many nonprofit organizations, UNRWA encourages donations from individuals. Doing so helps to ease the burden of funding on our major donors, and ultimately on the American and European taxpayer. Read more ..

Pima Sheriff Recall Effort and Arizona Tourism

February 14th 2011

The AZ Tourist News is proud to actively support Americans Against Immigration Amnesty and its campaign to recall Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. The Sheriff’s comments on January 8, 2011 that “Arizona has become the mecca for bigotry and hatred” are tantamount to the President telling the world that they should not visit Las Vegas and will have a negative impact on the tourism business in Arizona, similar to that experienced by Las Vegas as a result of the President’s statements.

Tony Venuti is the publisher of AZ Tourist News.

Omissions by the NYTimes Paints a Different Story on Muslim Student Disrupters

February 14th 2011

It’s wrong to portray the University of California, Irvine’s Muslim Student Union (MSU) as a victim (“Charges Against Muslim Students . . .,” Medina, 2/10/11).  For years, MSU speakers have called Jews and Israel demonizing falsehoods such as “Nazis” and “baby-killers,” causing Jewish students and faculty to fear for their safety. Two Jewish students actually transferred. After the ZOA filed a student-supported civil rights complaint against UCI for failing to redress a hostile campus environment, UCI wasn’t “cleared,” as you stated. Rather, the U.S. Education Department decided not to afford Jews the same legal protection from intimidation that’s guaranteed to other minority groups – a policy that’s now been reversed.  MSU students also squelched the expression of pro-Israel views, shouting down Ambassador Michael Oren with screams that he’s a “mass murderer” and a “war criminal committing genocide.” The yelling and jeering was so unrelenting that the Ambassador had to stop twice and canceled the question-and-answer period. UCI’s investigator found that the MSU instructed its members to lie, by denying that the group had organized the disruptions. The District Attorney should prosecute those violating others’ freedom of speech and freedom to listen.
Susan B. Tuchman, Esq. is the director, Center for Law and Justice, and Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.

Not Buying Anything at Borders--It is Like Buying Stolen Goods

January 28th 2011
I am not buying anything at Borders, including their electronic reader. Who can trust this company. I won't even walk into the store. I do not buy stolen goods off the back of a truck. Nor will I step into a Borders to buy a paperback or even a cup of coffee, if the publishers and suppliers are not being paid. I can buy anything I want off Amazon, and make my own coffee doing it.

National Book Chains Like Borders were Built to Fail

January 24th 2011
For those who think switching their allegiances between a bankrupt Borders that has refused to pay publishers, and the bigger Barnes and Noble which drove out countless independents, let me say this. Many of us in San Francisco consider it wrong-headed to even get a cup of coffee in a Borders or a Barnes and Noble. If you support the existence of independent book shops as I do, you know that giving your business to a national chain is like contributing to the demise of the most important part of the book-selling world-- the local bookstore. Yes, Border and Barnes and Noble tried to drive them out of business, and in many cases succeeded. Those superstores were built to fail. But in some cities--and I am happy to say San Francisco is one of them, the public has stubbornly maintained its loyalty to local, independent shops. You get what you pay for, and America has paid for the mess Borders and Barnes and Noble have created.

Buying at Borders May be Akin to Stealing

January 23rd 2011
I agree with the sentiment of a prior letter writer that buying at Borders is probably not the best idea if you care about authors and publishers. If they are not being paid by Borders, I would feel the purchase was akin to stealing. Until I hear otherwise, I am buying from my local independent as I do not trust Barnes and Noble any further than Borders.

Think About Not Buying at Borders Until they Pay Publishers and Authors

January 21st 2011
I wonder if the public is aware that when they purchase books at Borders instead of independent booksellers--always preferred--or Barnes and Noble, that they are in effect hurting the publishing industry. I have a friend who works for a small West Coast publisher and she will soon be let go because Borders has stopped paying for books it has purchased and is selling and keeping the cash. My local bookstore complains that they must pay for their books to remain afloat, but Borders is running hundreds of giant stores that compete with independent bookstores, and all the while Borders is not paying for many of the books it sells. I urge everyone to think about fairness before they purchase a book at Borders. Independent bookstores, publishing companies, and authors are all being hurt by Borders's behavior.

Sign Language Film’s Selection a Good Start

January 18th 2011

The news about “The Preservation of the Sign Language,” the film produced by the National Association of the Deaf under George Veditz being included in the National Film Registry is very significant not only because it is among a limited number of films selected. It is among some of the most significant historical documentation of cultural genocide against the Deaf community during a time when eugenics was on the rise as described in Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak. There is more work left to do such as advocating for American Sign Language-English bilingual education of Deaf children, promoting greater recognition and acceptance of American Sign Language for foreign language credit in colleges and universities, and spreading awareness regarding eugenics and cultural genocide. I have great hope that positive changes and acceptance in society will continue to make this world a better place for Deaf people which science, medicine and technology alone cannot accomplish.

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