How Proper Planning Can Save You Thousands in Estate Taxes

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

trust-estateUnless one of your primary objectives is to fund the government with more of your money, taking the initiative of planning your estate should be one of your top priorities. Far too often people find it an inconvenience to plan their estate; however what is commonly misunderstood is that by taking the time to structure your estate, you could potentially save upwards of thousands of dollars.

One of the optimal tools to use when it comes to estate planning is the creation of a Revocable Living Trust. However, what many attorneys sometimes fail to explain is that even within a Trust, there are certain methods that can be used to help reduce the amount of estate taxes one would normally pay. This trust is commonly referred to as the “AB Trust.”

Under an AB Trust, married couples are given the ability to maximize the use of their federal exemptions from estate taxes. Currently, any estate valued over $5M would be subject to the tax (for the amount in excess of $5M). However, although the current exemption limit is set at $5M, there are strong indications that Congress is to reduce that limit back down to $1M in 2013.

So let’s give a brief breakdown on how an AB Trust works:

How the AB trust system works

In order to avoid being a victim to a steep estate tax, spouses have the option of setting up an AB trust, where each spouse leaves their property to a trust. An AB Trust is created by establishing a living trust with an AB provision. Although the trust remains revocable while both spouses are alive, when the first spouse passes away, the trust becomes irrevocable and is split into two separate components: the A trust and the B trust. Under the A trust, the surviving spouse holds his/her half of the estate, and controls all the property while receiving distributions of income and principle on a need-basis.

On the other hand, the B trust contains the deceased spouse’s share of the estate. Typically, the funds transferred into the B-Trust belong to the beneficiaries, who are usually the children. However, the surviving spouse has the right to use the property during his/her life and is allowed to receive any income, if needed. It is upon the death of the surviving spouse that the property in the B-Trust passes to the beneficiaries designated in the original trust document, as well as the assets contained in the A-Trust.

Advantages of an AB Trust

The property that is contained in the B-Trust is never considered part of the surviving spouse’s estate; therefore it is not subject to estate taxes. It is only the property contained in the A-Trust that is subject to estate taxes at the time of the surviving spouse’s death, but if the A-Trust contains less than the estate tax exemption, then no estate taxes will be imposed. Although many presume an AB Trust is only appropriate if you carry in excess of $5M, which is the current estate tax threshold, this is not necessarily the case because it is always important to note that the current laws may not be the laws in the future. The laws change on a constant basis, and a proper estate plan takes into consideration not just what applies today, but what could apply in the future.

Disadvantages of an AB Trust

With every good comes a little bad. There are disadvantages to an AB trust. After the death of the first spouse, the A and B trusts requires separate tax returns. In addition, the AB trust can limit the surviving spouse’s rights to the trust property, depending on how it is worded.

It is always important to note that an AB Trust is not suitable for every household. With all its benefits, there are reasons for families to not implement such a Trust and to instead utilize the regular Revocable Living Trust. However, it should also be noted that consulting with a professional in the field could prove to be vital as it could potentially save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

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Stroke: Major Cause of Disability

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Anis Ansari

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Stroke is one of the most devastating illnesses that can affect people.

Due to its major disabling features, it is the least preferable of any of the major diseases. During stroke patient may lose control of their arms, legs, ability to talk, eat or to see properly. Large stroke can cause death. Other can leave long term complications which are difficult on patients and their families.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the US and second worldwide in both men and women. There are 200,000 cases of death due to stroke and 795,000 new and recurrent cases of stroke every year in the US.  Cardiovascular diseases (stroke and heart attack) cost staggering $444 billion in terms of medical care and lost productivity.

There are 5.8 million adults living with long term disability in the US.

Stroke (brain attack) is a medical emergency which occurs when blood supply to a certain part of brain is completely cutoff or greatly reduced. Strokes are of two types. Ischemic strokes makes up 80% of cases while hemorrhagic stroke 20%. Cardio embolism (clot from the heart) is responsible for 20% of all ischemic strokes.

Symptom depends on the area affected.

Definition of the stroke is sudden onset of focal neurological deficit lasting more than 24-hour period. It is called transient ischemic attack (TIA; mini stroke) if symptoms are resolved within 24 hours.
Symptom of stroke includes sudden onset of facial droop, arm and leg weakness, slurring of speech, inability to talk, inability to eat, difficulty seeing with one eye or both eyes, confusion or alteration of their mentally status, and trouble walking as well as balancing.

People who have history of hypertension, atrial fibrillation, diabetic mellitus, high cholesterol, family history of stroke are at high risk this problem. Aggressive treatment of hypertension is very important in reducing the risk of a stroke. Med-wire News on September 29, 2011based on meta-analysis of 12 studies involving more than 500,000 patients showed that pre-hypertension (systolic BP 130 to 139 and diastolic BP 85-89) are at increased risk of having stroke.

Workup of stroke includes Doppler ultrasound of the carotid arteries in the neck. If blockage is more than 70% then surgery is needed to bypass the blocked area. Cerebral angiography is the gold standard for identifying the blockages inside the brain arteries. Balloon angioplasty can be done and stent can be placed if necessary.

Aspirin is usually used to prevent stroke. If stroke occurs while on aspirin then stronger ant-platelet drug like Plavix is prescribed.

Preventive measures includes dietary modification, exercise, control of hypertension, diabetic, cholesterol and smoking cessation.

In terms of treatment, time is of the essence. After sign and symptom of a stroke is recognized, 911 should be called. Patient should be transported by paramedic who can assess their ABC (airway, breathing and circulation). They can provide much-needed oxygen and an intravenous access.

On arrival, the Emergency room physician will quickly assess patient, order lab tests, emergent CT scan of the head and activate the stroke team if available. Onset of a stroke is determined before any decision is made to administer the clot busting drug (t-PA) transminogen plasma activator.  They must reach ER within 3 hour and meet certain criteria before being eligible for above medication. There are some patient who can qualify for this medication up to 4.5 hour of the onset of symptom unless their age is more than 80, are diabetic , have prior episode of ischemic stroke, and taking oral anti-coagulation regardless of INR.

Long term complication will include skin breakdown, depression, and aspiration pneumonia, difficulty in learning, concentrating and memory.

Some patient requires comprehensive rehabilitation where physical (walking), occupational (strengthening) and speech therapy (speech, memory, and balancing check books) are provided. A video swallow study is performed to determine the type and consistency of food they will be able to tolerate.

US government officials have announced an initiative to Prevent 1 million heart attacks and stroke during the next 5 years. Naturally, up to date protocol and public education is a very important part of the same process. Early recognition and rapid response will prevent a large number of death and disability.

Anis Ansari, MD, Chairman, Department of Medicine, Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, Iowa.

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On Losing Legal Legend Derrick Bell

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nadia Ahmed

derrickbellOn October 5th, the law lost a monumental American, NYU Visiting Professor Derrick A. Bell. He was 80 years old when carcinoid cancer seized him. While news of his death may have been lost in the headlines because of the demise of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs the same day, Bell’s life deserves commemoration especially among Muslim Americans.

Bell was to social justice and constitutional law what Jobs was to Silicon Valley’s high tech industry and computer innovation. Bell was a rebel before the American Bar Association (ABA) ever began honoring recipients with the distinction of “Legal Rebel.” He was well-known for being the first African-American law professor with full tenure at Harvard Law School, but resigned in protest because of the lack of hiring of women of color. The New York Times reported that at a rally while a student at Harvard Law Barack Obama compared Professor Bell to the civil rights hero Rosa Parks.

At the beginning of his career, Thurgood Marshall recruited Bell to join the NAACP Legal Defense Fund after he left his position with U.S. Department of Justice because of his refusal to end his ties with the NAACP.  In 1966, Bell was named deputy director of civil rights at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Afterwards, he would start teaching law. 

I had the great fortune of being able to meet Derrick Bell in 2001 as a result of a series of emails back and forth between us. I was supposed to be studying for the LSAT in the summer of 2001, instead I started reading Bell’s books which I saw sitting on the same shelf of the Seminole County Public Library’s Casselberry branch as the LSAT materials: Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protestor and Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism. For someone who is naturally reticent, I resort to writing as a preferred mode of communication. Bell had also taken the time to contribute to my 9/11 anthology, Unveiling the Real Terrorist Mind. He helped me feel comfortable in my own skin.

Looking back to 9/11, Muslims were scared and some even afraid to even leave their homes. Muslim leaders were issuing fatwas for women to remove their headscarves in public out of fear for their safety. I was more astounded and confused by the North American Muslim community’s reaction. This was not the first time our community had come under attack and it surely would not have been the last. For me, 9/11 was a time more than any other to reassert our identities as Muslims.

In Professor Bell, I found someone who had walked the walk. He was also one of the most spiritual persons I had ever known, who had a deep commitment to religious value, an anomaly in higher education, especially within the law.

Initially, when I heard of his death, I was saddened, but at the same time I felt reawakened and reenergized. I remembered one of those occasions when I had to the chance to sit in on his class. On the blistering cold afternoon of February 4, 2002, I trotted up to the NYU Law school building and was told that I could not enter the building because my name was not on the list of approved visitors for that day. From my days in journalism, I knew how to slip by security. I walked slowly toward the side exit door and when the guard was distracted by other visitors, I darted up the stairs to find the Secret Service central because unknown to me President Bill Clinton was giving a talk at NYU Law that afternoon. The speech had just concluded so I stood on the side of the hallway as President Clinton walked by and greeted students. When I finally got to Professor Bell’s class, I heard some of the students joking that they had “gotten their tuition’s worth” because they “got to meet President Clinton.” I laughed inside that I, too, had been able to meet the President without the exorbitant cost of paying NYU Law tuition.

When I was accepted to the University of Florida Levin College of Law a few months later and somewhat hesitant to attend, Professor Bell encouraged me by saying that the battlegrounds for social justice and civil rights are in the South, but warned me that the racism only worsens the further I progress in my life in the law. My law school days and the year or so after I was admitted to the Florida Bar were pure and utter whatever.

In 2007, Professor Bell had mailed me a copy of his book, Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth.  And it is that book that serves as my blueprint for surmounting obstacles and advancing where life leads.

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Zeeshan Syed Study Predicts Risk of Cardiovascular Death

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ZeeshanSyedANN ARBOR, MI–Computationally generated cardiac biomarkers — morphologic variability (MV), symbolic mismatch (SM), and heart rate motifs (HRMs) — can accurately stratify the risk of cardiovascular death after acute coronary syndrome (ACS), according to a study published in the Sept. 28 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Zeeshan Syed, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues investigated the utility and prognostic ability of MV, SM, and HRMs to stratify the risk of death after ACS. The biomarkers were derived from the continuous electrocardiographic data collected during the TIMI-DISPERSE2 clinical trial through machine learning and data mining methods. The biomarkers were tested in more than 4,500 participants of the Metabolic Efficiency with Ranolazine for Less Ischemia in Non-ST-Elevation Acute Coronary Syndrome-Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction 36 (MERLIN-TIMI36) clinical trial.

The investigators found that there was a robust correlation between all three computationally generated cardiac biomarkers and cardiovascular death over a two-year interval after ACS. The information derived from each biomarker was independent of the information in the other biomarkers, as well as the information provided by existing clinical risk scores, electrocardiographic metrics, and echocardiography. The model discrimination as well as precision and recall of prediction rules based on left ventricular ejection fraction significantly improved with the addition of MV, SM, and HRMs to existing metrics.

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Phil Rees report: Al Qaeda Decapitated?

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Al Qaeda decapitated? – 2011 from Phil Rees on Vimeo.

From Inside Story on Al Jazeera English, 2 May 2011. The future of the complex, multi-layered and multi-faceted group remains uncertain following Osama bin Laden’s death.

“US Is Destroying Pakistan”

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Imran Khan: ‘America is destroying Pakistan. We’re using our army to kill our own people with their money’

The Pakistani cricketing legend and politician talks about his country’s damaging relationship with the US, how aid and corruption are further ruining it — and how he is sure he will be its next president

By Stuart Jeffries

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File:  Imran Khan

When Barack Obama announced in May that American commandos had killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Imran Khan was furious. “The whole of Pakistan felt this way. Wherever I went I felt this humiliation and anger in people. It was humiliating because an American president announces it, not our president. And because it was the American military, not our military, which this country has given great sacrifices to nurture, that killed him.”

Khan stirs his cappuccino angrily. “Most humiliating of all was that the CIA chief Panetta says that the Pakistan government was either incompetent or complicit. Complicit!” But surely Leon Panetta had a point, didn’t he? The world’s most wanted man was living a mile from Pakistan’s military academy, not in some obscure cave. “They’re talking about a country in which 35,000 people have died during a war that had nothing to do with us. Ours is perhaps the only country in history that keeps getting bombed, through drone attacks, by our ally.”

Khan’s rage is directed not chiefly at Obama’s administration but at successive Pakistani governments for entrapping his homeland in a dismal cycle of immiseration and mass deaths for the past eight years by supporting the war on terror in return for billions of dollars of financial aid. The manner of Bin Laden’s killing and the national shame of its aftermath typify for Khan how Pakistan has never properly learned to stand on its own two feet. He calls it an era of neocolonialism in which Pakistan’s people seem destined to suffer as much as, if not more than, they did during British colonial rule.

“According to the government economic survey in Pakistan, $70bn has been lost to the economy because of this war. Total aid has been barely $20bn. Aid has gone to the ruling elite, while the people have lost $70bn. We have lost 35,000 lives and as many maimed — and then to be said to be complicit. The shame of it!”

Arguably Khan is benefiting from that anger. The legendary cricketer turned politician hopes — even expects — to become Pakistan’s next prime minister. “Every poll has shown the gap widening between us and other parties.” He is modest about his impact on the polls: “It’s not what I have done, it’s that they have got discredited. These are the best of times and the worst of times. The best of it is that people are hungry for a change.”

I sip the tea that his ex-wife, Jemima Khan née Goldsmith, has just handed me. We’re sitting on huge sofas in the vast living room-cum-kitchen of her opulent west London home. He’s here to see his two sons, Sulaiman Isa, 14, and Kasim 12, who live with their mother, when they return from school. Later this evening he will fly home to Islamabad.

Jemima retreats upstairs so that her ex and I can analyse what went wrong with his country — and the couple’s marriage. Understandably, Khan would rather talk about the former.

He recalls his greatest cricketing achievement as Pakistani team captain, winning the 1992 World Cup. Perhaps the 2012 Pakistani election will eclipse that triumph. “I played five World Cups and it was only in the last World Cup before we won [in 1992] that I said:

‘Put money on us.’ Now I’m saying my party will win. I’m throwing everyone a challenge that nothing can stop this party. Nothing.”

Perhaps. But Pakistani politics, to hear Khan talk, isn’t cricket. “To have a senior post in the government, you have to have a criminal record.” I laugh. Surely not? He names ministers who have. This was one consequence of ex-president Pervez Musharraf’s 2007 National Conciliation Ordinance that gave amnesties to many politicians (including former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan as a result and was shortly afterwards assassinated). “He did the greatest disservice to us by that ordinance. And guess what — it was brokered by the Bush administration.

“My country can barely stoop any lower. All you need to do with a senior politician today is look at his assets before he came into politics and look at them after and you know why they’re there. My party is made up of people who don’t need politics. You need people who don’t need politics to make money.” But surely that implies government by gentry, by people who are independently wealthy? “Or people who are not necessarily wealthy but who are in a profession and are doing quite well out of it outside politics. Career politicians have destroyed our country.”

I take a sidelong glance at Imran Khan. He’s a young, fit-looking 58, dressed in western playboy uniform (jeans, sports jacket, big-collared open-neck shirt), but with an imposingly stern face that he may have inherited from the Pashtun ancestors on his mother’s side of the family. He claims to be shy and introverted, but to me he conveys the enviably easy assuredness typical of English public schoolboys. Indeed, Khan is steeped in that ethos: he was educated at Aitchison College in Lahore, a so-called English-medium school, before being sent to England to study at the Royal Grammar School, Worcester, and then read philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. Ironically, one of his party’s policies is that elite schools such as Aitchison should be abolished for being inegalitarian.

If this cricketing legend did become Pakistan’s prime minister, it would involve a remarkable turn around in fortunes. In his early test-cricketing days, he was called Imran Khan’t — and that nickname applied too to his political career. Ever since he established his political party Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) in 1996, Khan has fared abysmally. Even the Guardian’s Declan Walsh described him in 2005 as making a “miserable politician. Khan’s ideas and affiliations since entering politics in 1996 have swerved and skidded like a rickshaw in a rain shower.”

Khan may have been a brilliant cricketer who for 21 years until retirement in 1992 made Pakistan a leading force in the international game. He may have once been renowned as a soigné habitué of toff nightclubs such as Annabel’s and Tramp in the 1980s, and as the playboy who romanced debutantes Susannah Constantine, Lady Liza Campbell and the artist Emma Sergeant. But is he really the man to lead Pakistan from what he calls “the the edge of collapse”?

He, at least, thinks so. “The old parties are all petrified of me now.

They all want to make alliances with me and I say: ‘No, I’m going to fight all of you together because you’re all the same.’”

Excellent. But how does he propose to effect what he calls a soft revolution in Pakistan? “Oh hawk,” he replies unexpectedly, “death is better than that livelihood that stops you ascending.” He is quoting a verse from his favourite poet and philosopher, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who died in 1938 and so missed both Pakistan’s birth, its rule by dicators and corrupt dynasties, and its current ignominy.

How do Iqbal’s words apply to modern Pakistan? “I take them to mean anything that comes with strings attached damages your self-esteem and self-respect — you’d better die than take it,” says Khan. “A country that relies on aid? Death is better than that. It stops you from achieving your potential, just as colonialism did. Aid is humiliating.

Every country I know that has had IMF or World Bank programmes has only impoverished the poor and enriched the rich.” And American aid, he argues, has had a calamitous effect on his homeland.
What Khan is planning politically echoes what he did in cricket.

“Colonialism deprives you of your self-esteem and to get it back you have to fight to redress the balance,” he says. “I know for myself and my contemporaries Viv Richards [the great West Indies batsman] and Sunil Gavaskar [the no-less-great Indian batsman] beating the English at cricket was a means of doing that. We wanted to assert our equality on the cricket field against our colonial masters.”

Isn’t cutting foreign aid a perilous policy for a bankrupt economy?

“But it doesn’t matter,” retorts Khan. “We will cut down expenditure, tax the rich and fight corruption. The reason we’re bankrupt is because of corruption. Asif Ali Zardari [Pakistan’s current president] puts his cronies on top and they literally siphon off money.”

He argues that if Pakistan’s two greatest problems, corruption and tax evasion, can be solved, then the country will become solvent. “We have the lowest tax-GDP ratio in the world: 9%. If we get it to 18%, which is India, we’re solvent.” Not only does Khan believe he can tax the rich but also that exploiting Pakistan’s huge mineral reserves will help the country escape its current mess. “A country that has no power is sitting on the biggest coal reserves in the world!”

Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s other key policy is withdrawing from the war on terror. Why? “The war on terror is the most insane and immoral war of all time. The Americans are doing what they did in Vietnam, bombing villages. But how can a civilised nation do this? How can you can eliminate suspects, their wives, their children, their families, their neighbours? How can you justify this?

“When I came here at 18 I learned about western rule of law and human rights, innocent until proven guilty. The Americans are violating all of this.”

Khan wrote an open letter to Obama arguing that the war was unwinnable.

“I said you do not have to own Bush’s war — you can’t win it anyway.

It’s creating radicals. The more you kill, the more you create extremism.”

Why can’t the war be won? “The Soviets killed more than a million people in Afghanistan. They were fighting more at the end than the beginning. So clearly a population of 15 million could take a million dead and still keep fighting. They [the Americans] are going to have to kill a lot of people to make any impact and they also have in Zardari an impotent puppet as Pakistani president who has not delivered anything to the Americans.

“The Americans also don’t realise that this whole Arab spring was against puppets or dictators. People want democracy. So this whole idea of planting your own man there, a dictator — neocolonialism is what it’s called — is not going to work any more.

“The aid to our puppet government from the US is destroying our country. We’re basically using our army to kill our own people with American money. We have to separate from the US.”

Khan knows what it is to be attacked from both sides. “I’ve been called Taliban Khan for supporting the tribal Pashtuns and I’ve been called part of a Jewish conspiracy to take over Pakistan. I am of course neither.”

The latter allegation came when Khan married Jemima Goldsmith in 1995.

In a chapter on his marriage in his excellent new book Pakistan: A Personal History, he recalls that, when he left for England aged 18, his mother’s last words were: “Don’t bring back an English wife.” But after his mother’s death, Khan did that, even though the British press wailed that Jemima would not be allowed to drive in Pakistan and that she would have to be veiled from head to toe; even though the Pakistani media portrayed the marriage as a Zionist plot to take over Pakistan.

No matter, as Khan writes, that his wife wasn’t actually Jewish (her paternal grandfather was Jewish), but had been baptised and confirmed as a Protestant. No matter that she converted to Islam and set about learning Urdu on her arrival in Pakistan.

The smears got worse a year after their marriage when Khan launched his political career. “Cross-cultural marriage is difficult, especially when one person has to live in another country. But I thought there was a very good chance of it working because people grow together if they have a common passion. But from the moment my opponents attacked her in the first election in terms of a Zionist conspiracy we had to then take her away from politics. That meant we were doing different things. We couldn’t share our passions.”

Jemima returned to England, ostensibly for a year to do a masters in modern trends in Islam, taking her sons with her. She never returned, the couple divorced in 2004 and she is now associate editor of the Independent and editor-at-large for Vanity Fair. They remain on friendly terms. “It was very painful that it didn’t work out but that bitterness and anger that comes when a marriage breaks down through infidelity was not there. We were completely faithful to each other.”

There was no way he could have moved to London? “London is like a second home, but never could I imagine living away from Pakistan.” It must be tough with his sons living half a world away most of the year.

“Very tough. Nothing gave me more happiness than fatherhood. And here’s someone who had great highs in his life. The biggest void in my life is not being close to my children all the time, but mercifully, thanks to my relationship with Jemima, I see them a great deal.”

One way of looking at his failed marriage, then, is that it could not survive the bearpit of Pakistani politics. How could he continue in that grim game given the high cost it extorted from you? “Ever since my mother died in great pain from cancer, I have had a social conscience that can only express itself in getting involved in politics. As long as I played cricket there was hardly any social conscience. It came because of my mother and how she was treated.” It also came after a spiritual awakening and renewed Islamic faith, in which Iqbal’s writings played an important role.

“The No1 thing that struck me about your country when I came here was your welfare state, which I’m sad to say they are dismantling — a big mistake. I thought: ‘What a civilised society.’ When my mother was treated here we were paying for her and there was a national health patient next to her — equal treatment. We didn’t have that in Pakistan.”

After his mother’s death he founded the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Lahore in her name. “My hospital is the only one in Pakistan where doctors are not allowed to know which patients are paying and which are free. Equal treatment for rich and poor is essential.”

But the hospital was only possible because of donations that he raised  from the streets of Pakistan’s cities. “We needed $4m for the hospital and we had run out of steam so someone suggested we just go out into the streets. I ended up covering 29 cities in six weeks and I just went into the street with a big collecting sack. Only in Pakistan would this happen.”

But that Pakistani generosity, he realises, articulates an important principle of Islam, of doing good deeds to get to heaven. In the book he writes that he asked why poor people would give such high proportions of their income to a cancer hospital not even in their own town. “It was always the same reply, ‘I am not doing you a favour. I am doing it to invest in my Hereafter.’”

That geneoristy proved a catalyst for Khan’s political career, he writes: “I started thinking that these people were capable of great sacrifice. Could these people not be mobilised to fight to save our ever-deteriorating country?” He may have a sentimental vision of poor Pakistanis but Khan has no doubt: they will revolutionise Pakistan, led by him.

Just before I leave him to his children, he tells me that the nadir for Pakistan came last year when Angelina Jolie visited Pakistan’s flood-hit area. “It’s so shameful. The prime minister gave her a reception in his palace and she commented on its opulence. The prime minister gets his family in a private jet to see her, the family give her expensive presents and yet there are people dying in these flood-affected areas. They were living like Mughal emperors in splendour and our people were dying. It took a Hollywood star to point this out. Our politics can never be so shameful again.” That remains to be seen.

Guardian UK

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Ladybird Deeds

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq. 

house_deedAvoiding probate is (or should be) a main objective of all estate plans.  By avoiding probate (a systematic distribution of assets, which is beyond our clients’ control) our clients have the power to determine how their assets will be distributed upon their death.  There are many tools available to accomplish this aim; one such tool is the ladybird deed.  It should be noted that ladybird deeds by themselves are insufficient to avoid probate; however, if used in conjunction with other probate avoiding tools, such as trusts and pour-over wills, our clients can successfully avoid probate.

What is a ladybird deed? 

To understand what a ladybird deed is, it is essential to know what a deed is.  A deed is a legal instrument that transfers an interest in real estate.  The most common type of deed is a “fee simple” deed.  A fee simple deed conveys property from Person A to Person B.  Once signed and delivered, Person B immediately becomes the owner of the real estate.  Unlike a fee simple deed, a ladybird deed does not immediately convey the property.  A ladybird deed conveys the property to another person but reserves ownership to the grantor (the person who conveys the property) for so long as the grantor is living.  For example, if Person A executed a ladybird deed to Person B, Person A would still own the property until Person A dies; at which point, Person B becomes the owner of the property. 

In addition to remaining the owner of the property until death, the grantor of a ladybird deed reserves the right to sell, mortgage, or transfer the property during their life.  So if Person A executed a ladybird deed to Person B, Person A could still sell the property or give it to someone else.  Ladybird deeds thus avoid probate by designating the person to whom the property will be distributed upon the grantor’s death.  If a ladybird deed (or other deed) is not in place, the property would be subject to probate. 

Ladybird deeds are not always the appropriate solution to avoid probate.  Choosing the wrong deed or using it at an inappropriate time may have significant negative consequences.  Moreover, there are many tax, Medicaid, and other implications associated with deeds; as such, qualified attorneys create each estate plan on a case-by-case basis based on the specific facts and situations of each client. 

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

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Lessons from a Medina Graveyard

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Fahad Farruqui

slide_42595_328275_largeOne can learn many lessons at a graveyard. I once found myself helping carry the corpse of a stranger, an old woman, to its final abode. At the time, I was a 20-year-old on a family trip to the Holy City of Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Following the ish’a (night) prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque (Al-Masjid al-Nabawi) and the recitation of obligatory funeral prayer, I came across a middle-aged man searching for help to transport the coffin of the woman, who I later learned was his mother. She had passed away a few hours earlier and her son was eager to fulfill her final wish: to be buried immediately after death.
The son was the only family member present. He was anxious to hastily transport the steel coffin, containing the corpse of his mother wrapped in a white shroud, to the Garden of Heaven or, as it is called in Arabic, Janatu l-Baqi’, a graveyard adjacent to the Prophet’s (s) Mosque.

Since it was late at night, the mosque had emptied quickly and there weren’t many eager beavers to lend a hand. A few men on their way out of the mosque regrettably declined the man’s pleas for assistance, saying they had far travel before reaching home. I wanted to help, but I was unsure if I would be able to carry the coffin all the way to the grave situated a couple of hundred meters away.

After a handful of men gathered to move the coffin, four men including me lifted it in unison and rested each corner on the shoulder. As we proceeded toward the graveyard, the coffin was tilted toward my side since I was relatively shorter than the other three.

“She isn’t heavy,” I thought to myself in relief.

A man behind me yelled blessings to the dead as we commenced our walk towards the Medina graveyard. We all joined in enthusiastically, chanting blessings to the dead.

Our voices started to get dimmer as we ran out of breath. The farther we moved away from the mosque, the darker it became. In the sunlight, the sands of Medina graveyard vary in color from orange to a shade that borders on red, with volcanic rocks scattered throughout the grave marking the grave. But at night, it was pitch-black. Our pathway was lit only by the light illuminating from the towering minarets atop the mosque, where Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, rests along with Abu Bakr, the first caliph, and Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph, may God be pleased with both.

slide_42595_327677_largeAfter a few uneven steps, the buckle of one of my sandal’s broke, forcing me to push it aside as we continued forward. The ground was warm, even at this late hour. I could barely see where my feet were stepping in the wide graveyard around us. I was granted some relief when a man volunteered to help, seeking only reward from the Creator.

We walked aimlessly for a bit, trying our best not to trample over the other graves as we searched for the woman’s resting spot. Once we located it and rested the coffin beside the dugout, I took a peak at the grave. It was remarkably dark — the darkest shade of black that I have ever seen.

As I stood among these strangers with death before my eyes, and a six-foot deep grave that felt suffocating from above, the importance of my worries drifted away, and I began reflecting on the temporality of life.

It dawned on me how near we are all to death, our inevitable fate, although many of us think about death very rarely.

Quite out of the blue, I felt I was granted clues and answers to questions that had been filling my mind: Why am I here? And where will I go from here?

I had little to no sense of time. My startled parents went out looking for me when they saw all the doors of the Prophet’s Mosque closed from the window of our hotel room. I arrived back at the hotel more than an hour later than usual, yet the impression the experience left on me has been lasting. It was a moment of clarity, an hour that changed the very foundation of my existence.

“A moment of true reflection is worth more than ages of heedless worship,” Faraz Rabbani, a leading Islamic scholar, said recently on Twitter.

His words reminded me of that night. At certain points in our lives, we have experiences that shake us to the core and compel us to question our outlook on existence and, if we cultivate them properly, bring us nearer to the Almighty. Even many years later, in times when anger, distress, tribulation or temptation has attempted to sway me, my mind returns to that graveyard.

When you become mindful of death, you think and act differently. It becomes difficult to lash out in anger when we know how near death could be. A person conscious of death would think twice before defrauding and deceiving another human being.

slide_42595_328537_largeBy remembering that we will all perish and be buried in dirt, taking none of our possessions with us, it becomes undesirable to wrong or hurt someone intentionally. But one has to realize that death is inevitable.

My recollection of the funeral procession that night is vivid. I remember how time seized for me in the midst of that graveyard. I recall the haunting feeling of suffocation and discomfort that kept me awake that night.

Back in the hotel, as I rested my head on the plush pillow, in an arctic air-conditioned room, I thought of the rock-hard walls encircling that meager grave.

We need not reflect on death at all times to keep us on track. Paying attention to life — to the wondrous creations of the universe around us — can always draw us near to God and prompt us to be grateful. But also reflect on death, since it turns you away from the superficiality of the world and curbs your ego.

I would not say I am a man of immense knowledge. I haven’t spent an adequate amount of time fully uncovering the miracles of the Quran as deeply as I should. I have my ups and down. My faith, at times, dangles, and then I have to realign my thoughts. It happens more often than I am ready to confess here.

Yet I find remembering the inevitability of death from time to time is one way to stay grounded. During a course on Buddhist ethics I took a decade ago with Robert Thurman, the professor related a tale of a newlywed royal couple who went to a celebrated monk, Atisha, for marriage advice.

slide_42595_327710_largeInitially hesitating to offer any since he had never been married himself, the monk finally yielded, giving some of the soundest marital advice I have heard: “Eventually, husband and wife, each will die. So now while alive, you should strive to be kind to each other.”

Thoughts of death need not flood our minds with sorrow and negativity, as we should understand that death is a natural part of the journey of life.

If we work on making every prayer count as if it’s our last and set aside time from our busy schedules, including the social media that consumes a measurable chunk of our day, to unwind the thoughts and worries entangled in our minds, we may become better humans and will indeed have a greater chance of living with peace.

13-35

Peace Eludes Kashmir: Who Is At Fault?

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, TMO

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: The brief phase of apparent peace in Jammu and Kashmir has been shattered once again by what has been described by critics as “state-terrorism.” The recent weeks have been marked by several suspect-terrorists having been killed in what have been labelled as “fake encounters” and the custodial death of Nasin Rashid (28) in Sopore district, Baramulla district. Rashid’s death provoked Kashmiris to take to streets demanding justice and prompted several Kashmiri leaders to strongly voice their protest against it. 

The Indian troops claimed to have killed five suspect militants, three of whom were killed at Rajwar in Handwara and two in Surankote area of Poonch. They were, according to Indian troops, killed as they tried to cross the Line-of-Control. The Kashmiri leaders have, however, blamed the troops for having “martyred” the five in an act of “state-terrorism.” Even before this issue has settled down, an actual “fake-encounter” has raised questions on credibility of the earlier claims made by Indian troops. A preliminary probe has reportedly revealed that a man killed in an alleged 12-hour gun battle with an army unit was not a suspect militant, but a mentally unstable civilian.

Initially, a high-ranking officer had briefed the media (Aug 7) that the “militant” killed was Abdu Usman, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s “divisional commander.” The officer also claimed recovery of a pistol and other materials from his possession. Ironically, before this “news” had created any waves, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah accepted that the “encounter” in which the individual was killed may not have been real.

“We are still enquiring into the exact circumstances as to what happened. Preliminary information suggests to us that a local Territorial Army fellow and an SPO (Special Police Officer) had conspired to inform the local army unit about the presence of the foreign militant in Pooch,” Abdullah said. “Subsequently, information came to light that that the person is not who (that is a ‘suspect militant’) the Territorial Army and the SPO claimed him to be,” he said.

The “accused,” according to Abdullah, “have been charged under section 302 amounting to murder and we will ensure that the law follows its own course.” The accused, include SPO Abdul Majid and Territorial Army soldier Noor Hussain. While the SPO’s intention, through this “encounter,” was to be regularized as a constable, the soldier wanted a cash reward of Rs 200,000.

Amazingly, this is one of the rarest of rare “fake encounters,” which on the basis of a preliminary probe has been promptly acknowledged as one, with the state chief minister himself saying so. Over the past three years, at least 14 cases of fake encounter in Kashmir have been reported and registered by India’s National Human Rights Commission. And this raises the pertinent question: Who is to be blamed for grievances afflicting Indian Kashmiris?

Speaking at a seminar in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra said: “A major problem facing the country today is the nexus between political hierarchy, mafia and bureaucracy. All elements of government are tainted and now fingers are being pointed towards the armed forces.” Taking note that the Police Act was 150 years old, Vohra said: “We need to reform every part and parcel of the government including police for providing justice to the people.”

Vohra’s tacit acceptance that people were being denied justice was referred to from a different angle by former Chief Justice of Orissa High Court Justice Bilal Nazki at the seminar (Aug 8). He raised the question: “In Kashmir there are many cases of alleged excesses committed by the police and at the same time police is investigating them. How can anybody expect fair investigation from the accused?” “Once the crime takes place there should be no business of police to meddle in investigations. Police cannot handle everything from law and order to security to the investigation,” Nazki said.

Undeniably, Kashmiris have suffered for long at the hands of law and order system in their terrain. The army and police are expected to ensure security for the Kashmiris. But instead, they have been trigger-free while targeting Kashmiris, particularly Muslims. In recent years, thanks to communication revolution, “reports” on fake encounters accusing Kashmiris (particularly Muslims) as “terrorists” have started hitting headlines. The Indian media has also woken up to not easily accepting claims made by officers about several “terrorists” being killed in certain encounters. Earlier, their prevailed the tendency to virtually accept whatever was said at press conferences, after such “encounters” as the final word, without examining the credibility of such claims and not considering the option of giving “suspect terrorists” a chance to prove their innocence.

Despite the media and people having woken up to the hard reality that “peace” and “security” continues to elude Kashmiris as innocent persons are still being targeted by state-controlled bullets, the concerned authorities have not yet taken any major step to solve this problem. Irrespective of whatever claims that India makes about its commitment to the Kashmir-issue, peace shall elude problem-ridden region, till adequate attention is paid to address grievances faced by Kashmiris!

13-33

Garden of Peace Flint Cemetery Update

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Flint–July 10–The Flint Islamic Center’s Garden of Peace cemetery is slowly and inexorably growing, as one might expect.

Last year I wrote an article about the opening of the first Muslim cemetery in Flint, Garden of Peace (http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=6191).  At the time the cemetery had only five people interred there–and at the time I wrote the article I had never visited the site.

Now I have visited the cemetery, and it has grown to about 29 people buried there. 

Most of the graves have stones lying horizontally on top, and stone markers saying the name and dates of birth and death of the deceased, however a few are only marked by dirt.

The cemetery itself is in very gently rolling hills–a very simple site has been prepared for use, of a few acres–of which only a small amount of space has been occupied.  The access is very adequate but very simple–perhaps the biggest investment other than buying the land was the fence and gate that enclose the cemetery–which is as advertised last year only a very short distance from the Flint Islamic Center mosque.  A simple asphalt driveway comes to a stop and cul-de-sac about a quarter mile from the gate, and from there the headstones are a short walk.

I looked at the headstones, and the graves are a testament to the unpredictability of death, with a few older people as one might expect, but also a few infants and some middle-aged people–a reminder to all of us that we cannot expect to stay on this earth for any guaranteed amount of time.

One WWII hero is buried at the cemetery, a Bronze Star recipient–and from this position of his grave it appears that he was one of the very first people interred–a convert to Islam.

The corporate name for the cemetery is the “Flint Islamic Cemetery,” and it is administered by the Flint Islamic Center.  Its policies have matured somewhat since its inception a year ago.

The policies follow:

1.  24 Hours advance notice should be given to arrange preparations for burial.

2.  A completed application form (available at the FIC office) must be filled out and duly certified by the respective Islamic Center. The following items should be submitted before the burial is accepted:

•    Certified check or money order in the name of Flint Islamic Cemetery or cash for the applicable amount (no personal checks are accepted).
•    Hospital release / death certificate must accompany the application.
•    Interstate transportation certificate (if applicable).

3.  Ladies attending the funeral must observe proper Islamic attire while in the Islamic Center and/or cemetery.

Unfortunately cemetery officials were not available for comment before this article went to print.

The cemetery is at 1310 South Morrish Road, in Swartz Creek, Michigan.  For more information, you can call Hossam Shukairy, 810-691-7738, Abed Khirfan, 810-877-1415; or Muhammed Saleem, 810-730-1776.

13-29

Before You Judge, Stand in Her Shoes

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mike Mcgovern

New Haven–REVELATIONS about the hotel housekeeper who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault suggest that she embellished claims of abuse to receive asylum, fudged her tax returns, had ties to people with criminal backgrounds, had unexplained deposits in her bank account and changed the account of the encounter she gave investigators. Yet those who would rush to judge her should consider the context.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser is from Guinea, also the home country of Amadou Diallo, the street peddler who was shot to death in the doorway of his Bronx apartment building by four New York City police officers in 1999. Guineans leave their country in large numbers, partly because of grinding poverty; 70 percent live on less than $1.25 a day , despite the fact that Guinea has almost half of the world’s bauxite (from which aluminum is made), as well as iron, gold, uranium, diamonds and offshore oil.

The same leaders whose theft and mismanagement have kept so many Guineans poor in the decades since independence from France, in 1958, have also been ferociously violent, massacring as many as 186 unarmed demonstrators calling for democratic reforms in 2007, and at least 157 demanding the same in 2009. After the latter massacre, members of the state security forces gang-raped dozens of women to punish them for protesting and to terrorize men and women into silence.

While the American government condemned the massacres, the bauxite kept shipping, supplying Americans with aluminum cookware and automobile parts. That’s no surprise; the biggest mining companies doing business in Guinea are based in the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia.

People fleeing state-sponsored violence and extreme poverty will do anything to leave. I receive requests every few weeks to write expert-witness affidavits for West African asylum claimants. As a personal matter of conscience, I will not write in support of an applicant whose testimony I believe contains inconsistencies.

Yet asylum claimants are often asked to perform an impossible task.

They must prove they have been subject to the most crushing forms of oppression and violence — for this, bodies bearing the scars of past torture are a boon — while demonstrating their potential to become hard-working and well-adjusted citizens.

This is where the lies and embellishments creep into some asylum seekers’ narratives. Immigrants share tips and hunches about ways to outwit the system, even as immigration judges try to discover the claimants’ latest ruses. But I can say from experience that for every undeserving claimant who receives asylum, several deserving ones are turned down. So few Africans gain access to green cards through legal channels that the United States government grants about 25,000 spots annually to Africans selected at random through the diversity visa lottery.

Just as Mr. Diallo’s death resonated because it made the tribulations of many West African immigrants public, the case of Mr. Strauss-Kahn and his accuser has the aura of a parable. Many Africans feel the International Monetary Fund, which Mr. Strauss-Kahn led, and the World Bank have been more committed to the free flow of money and commodities like bauxite than to the free flow of people and the fulfillment of their aspirations.

Guinean press accounts, and recent conversations I’ve had with Guineans, suggest that they disapprove of the deceptions by Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser. But given the poverty and systemic violence in their country, they understand the circumstances in which such deception could occur — and we should, too.

As the case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn seemingly disintegrates, he is enjoying a political renaissance at home, yet I keep asking myself: does a sexual encounter between a powerful and wealthy French politician and a West African hotel cleaning woman from a dollar-a-day background not in itself suggest a gross abuse of power?

Mike McGovern, an assistant professor of anthropology at Yale and the author of “Making War in Côte d’Ivoire,” is writing a book on Guinea.

13-29

Saudi- Indonesia Attempts to Save 28 on Death Row

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

MENAFN – Arab News

(MENAFN – Arab News) Indonesia has called home its ambassador to Saudi Arabia for consultation following the execution of an Indonesian maid in Makkah on Saturday.

“The Foreign Affairs Ministry in Jakarta has recalled Ambassador Gatot Abdullah Mansyur for consultations and to discuss measures to solve other serious cases,” said Wishnu Krishnamurthi, spokesman of the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh, on Monday. “A note of protest over the beheading of Indonesian maid Ruyati binti Sapubi has been sent to the Saudi side.”

Krishnamurthi added that the Kingdom carried out the execution by sword without giving Indonesia prior notice.

Sapubi’s family has sought the government help to get the body to Indonesia. The maid from Bekasi district, Western Java, was executed for murdering her 70-year-old Saudi woman employer in January 2010.

Didi Wahjudi, a representative from the Indonesian Consulate in Jeddah, said neither the consulate nor the embassy was informed of the execution. The protest has been lodged because Indonesia was still trying to settle her case and seek clemency, he added.

Krishnamurthi said his government has stepped up efforts to save 28 Indonesians on death row.

“A plan is under way to reach a settlement in all cases either in the courts or through exerting more efforts in cooperation with Saudi officials for out-of-court settlements,” added Krishnamurthi.

He pointed out that the Indonesian diplomatic missions were seeking pardons from families of the victims in several such cases.

“We are quite hopeful that the embassy and the consulate will manage to secure pardons either by talking or by giving blood money to the victims’ families, which will pave the way for their release,” said the spokesman.

He said Indonesia had succeeded in solving three out of the 31 cases.

“These three Indonesians have been repatriated after they were pardoned by the families of the victims,” said the spokesman.

The move comes after human rights and labor activists called on the Indonesian government to take immediate action to assist Indonesian workers in Saudi Arabia.

Asked about the serious cases, Krishnamurthi said as many as 22 migrant workers out of the 28 are facing the same fate as Sapubi.

According to a report, a total of 316 Indonesians are currently involved in legal cases in Saudi Arabia, including those who have been sentenced to death.

The spokesman said Jakarta would strive to ensure they did not meet the same fate as Sapubi.

13-27

An Effective Tool to Save on Estate Taxes

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

With the limited free-time you have outside of work, drafting a sound estate plan is usually not the first thing on your list of chores.  However, a simple overlook can cost you money. When discussing an estate plan, more and more people have begun to inquire about Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT). An ILIT is a unique estate planning tool utilized to help minimize taxes – estate or gift, by reducing the size of your estate.

This trusted tool has saved individuals hundreds, if not thousands of dollars by limiting the amount of taxes paid upon their death. Although commonly used to effectuate a goal, many still hesitate to implement this tool as part of their overall estate plan.

With the ever-changing demands of society, it has become essential for you to carry some form of life insurance to ensure your loved ones are taken care. The amount of coverage varies depending on your family and your current lifestyle. However, there is no dispute that carrying life insurance is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity.

Many are unaware that without proper planning life insurance proceeds become subject to federal estate taxes. This is something often overlooked until you realize the sizable amount of estate taxes you pay. The State of Michigan includes life insurance proceeds in your estate if you claim “incidents of ownership” over the policy; for example, being able to change your beneficiary; borrow from your policy; or exercise any other right that is usually possessed by an owner. By giving up these rights you are assured to have your proceeds excluded from your estate.

Another option is to list your spouse as the beneficiary. This too, reduces the value of your estate, as the proceeds will be excluded, but don’t be fooled into thinking the planning stops here. What happens when your spouse passes away? The amount your spouse inherited will be counted in his/her estate. Therefore, although you possibly avoided estate taxes upon your death, you have not completely solved the problem. This is where the effectiveness of an ILIT is best illustrated.

An ILIT is an extremely useful tool used to help minimize your estate taxes. With the estate tax exemption being widely speculated to hit pre-2001 figures, $1 million exemption at a 55% tax rate, ILITs are increasingly becoming the most popular estate planning tool. Remember, planning for today will serve you no protection for tomorrow; but planning for tomorrow will serve you protection for today.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

13-23

Egypt’s Mubarak Set to Go on Trial August 3

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dina Zayed

2011-05-27T143917Z_1705055056_GM1E75R1QWY01_RTRMADP_3_EGYPT

A man sits at his shoe-shine stall as his sleeping child (R) is covered with the Egyptian national flag at Tahrir square in Cairo, May 27, 2011. Thousands of Egyptians converged on Cairo’s Tahrir square on Friday in what organisers called a "second revolution" to push for deeper reforms and a speedy trial for ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his former aides.

REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

CAIRO (Reuters) – Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, overthrown by a popular uprising this year, was ordered on Wednesday to stand trial in August for the killing of protesters on charges that could carry the death penalty.

Mubarak, ousted on February 11 after mass protests demanding an end to his 30 years in power, has been questioned about his role in a crackdown in which more than 840 demonstrators died, as well as about alleged corruption.

He could face the death penalty if convicted on the charge of “pre-meditated killing.”

His two sons, Gamal, who was once viewed as being groomed for the presidency, and Alaa, will also stand trial alongside their father and prominent business executive Hussein Salem.
Judge Sayed Abdel-Azim, the head of the appeals court, said the trial would open on August 3 in a Cairo criminal court.

Egypt’s public prosecutor said on Tuesday that Mubarak was in no condition to be transferred to a prison hospital and would for now stay in a health facility in a Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has been detained since mid-April.

Mubarak was admitted to hospital after reportedly suffering heart problems during his initial questioning.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States hoped Egypt would ensure due process for Mubarak, who was long a close Arab ally of Washington.

While emphasizing that it was up to the Egyptians to decide whether to prosecute Mubarak, she said any trial should be conducted to the highest standard. “Obviously we want to see the rule of law,” she told reporters.

Mubarak’s alleged crimes listed by the prosecutor include pre-meditated murder, abuse of influence, wasting public funds and unlawfully making private financial gains.
His sons and other former top officials are being held in Torah prison on the outskirts of Cairo.

(Writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Alistair Lyon)

13-23

Could Bin Laden Become An Arab Icon After All?

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

With A Little Help From A Foe

By Stephanie Doetzer

The reactions following Bin Laden’s death are a disaster. A person’s death may sometimes be good news. But somebody’s assassination never is. A commentary by Angela Merkel is happy. Hillary Clinton is happy. Barack Obama claims that justice has been done and hundreds of Americans celebrate cheerfully right next to Ground Zero. Hmm. Is this the Western world that likes to think of itself as an epitome of civilisation?

Bin Laden has never been the Arab icon that many Westerners believed him to be. And during the last four months of Arab revolutions Al Qaida has become even more irrelevant. But the fact that he was shot by American Special Forces on a “kill mission” changes the picture. He now has a chance of becoming an icon after all.

To be sure, many Arabs aren’t even interested in Bin Laden’s death. There are far bigger issues to care about these days and the young revolutionary crowd doesn’t have time for a man they perceive as a mere Western obsession. They didn’t care while Bin Laden was still alive, and why would they now?

German chancellor Angela Merkel comments on the death of Bin Laden in front of the press:

Epitome of civilisation? Chancellor Angela Merkel was chided in Germany for expressing “joy” of Osama Bin Laden’s death Others, however, do care quite a lot. They started caring when the news of the killing broke and changed the tone in which Bin Laden is being talked about. While most Western media prefer to use the word “killing” rather than “assassination”, Arab media go for either ightiyaal, meaning political murder, or istishhad, which is martyrdom said to lead straight to paradise.

More than ever, Bin Laden is now referred to as “Sheikh Osama Bin Laden”. In most Arab countries this is a sign of respect – or at least, it’s not the kind of word one would use to describe a heretic who has besmirched religion and misused Islam for his own goals.

Complex picture of Arab realities

In secular media, formulations are neutral and almost indifferent, but in many more religiously conservative outlets the tone is clearly one of mourning. But how to write about this for Western media without distorting the complex picture of Arab realities with its many shades of grey?

Does it make sense to quote the most outrageous reader’s comments from Al Jazeera Arabic’s website? From “May God have mercy on his soul and let him enter paradise” to “If he’s dead, then we’re all Bin Laden”?

Or is it more appropriate to quote those Arabs who say exactly the kind of stuff that Westerners want to hear? Like the commentators in Egypt’s Al Wafd newspaper who call Bin Laden a “black spot in Islamic clothes” and hope to close a dark chapter of Arab history.

There has been plenty of both. What is new is that people who are neither Salafi, nor particularly religious now defend Bin Laden as a person. They don’t approve of attacks on civilians, but they do consider him a fighter for a just cause rather than a criminal. And not because of 9/11, no. It’s because of his criticism of the Saudi royal family, because of his speeches about Palestine and because he allegedly relinquished his family’s fortune to lead a life of poverty.

Those who praise his principles and ‘good intentions’ don’t hate the West, nor are they likely to ever turn terrorist. But they feel an immediate urge for solidarity when one of them – and that’s what Bin Laden remained after all – gets shot by the special forces of a country of which they have ceased to expect anything good.

What may sound offensive to most Westerners, doesn’t shock many Arabs. After all, Bin Laden’s image in the Arab world has never only been that of a ruthless mastermind of international terrorism. He was the man that you could see on those Al Qaida videos from time to time, until they were replaced by audio-tapes. A man with a calm voice, a charismatic face and a captivating way of speaking classical Arabic – which is not exactly what the Western world got to see. Outside the Arab world, Bin Laden was reduced to fear-inspiring sound bites without context.

Front page of a Pakistani newspaper covering the death of Bin Laden

Is Bin Laden merely an obsession of the West? Al Qaida believes in violence as a political means, and, writes Doetzer, “the problem with many Western powers is that they believe in similar things, but without ever openly acknowledging it” By listening to him directly, Arabs could disagree, discard his ideas and compare him with their official leaders they liked even less. Unlike most Westerners, they knew Bin Laden wasn’t only talking about US foreign policy and Israel, but also about climate change and food security. And that he sometimes came up with suggestions for a US withdrawal from the Middle East that weren’t completely preposterous.

Emotional mishmash and contradictions

But events in these days also show that many Arab Muslims never quite figured out their own take on Bin Laden: Within one conversation, the same person may well claim that Bin Laden was on the payroll of the CIA, then deny his involvement in the 9/11 attacks – and end up by saying that the attack could be morally justified given the American atrocities on Arab soil.

It’s usually an emotional mishmash without much moral reflection, but a high dose of an intra-Islamic sense of unity that allows downplaying crimes committed by one’s own group by pointing to those committing by others.

The mechanism is strikingly similar to what Americans and Europeans do when they celebrate the extrajudicial killing of an individual and justify their reaction by highlighting his crimes.

It’s yet another example to show that the current enemies may have much more in common than they would ever admit: The problem with Al Qaida is that it believes in violence as a political means. The problem with many Western powers is that they believe in similar things, but without ever openly acknowledging it.

Watching those YouTube videos of Americans cheering in front of the White House feels a bit like a Déjà-vu. Last time, it was some Palestinians cheering the killing of Israeli settlers. And if I remember it rightly, Westerners were appalled by the pictures.

US Americans celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden in front of the White House in Washington

An eye for an eye:

Doetzer criticises the extrajudicial killing of Bin Laden, arguing the victory of Al Qaida’s ideology would have been more sustainable had it been achieved in court those chanting “U.S.A.” and “We did it” in New York and Washington don’t sound fundamentally different from Islamists chanting “Allahu Akbar”. And in both cases, it’s not the words that are problematic; it’s the spirit behind them.

A myth rather than a man

Both are tearing at each other for double standards, but neither truly believe in the rule of law. After all, things could have been done differently: Bin Laden could have been captured and put on trial. We could have listened to his version of events and might have found out what kind of person he was.

Instead, all we have are a couple of pictures: Bin Laden as a young fighter in Afghanistan, and then the man with a turban and a greying beard. It’s not much. And it allows him to be a myth rather than a man who has lived until a couple of days ago.

Had he died of kidney failure instead of the bullets, it may indeed have been a blow to Al Qaida.

But as things are, American Special Forces did him a huge favour by making him a martyr in the eyes of many. “I swear not to die but a free man” he said on an audio tape released in 2006.

He got what he wanted – with a little help from a foe.

Source: Qantara.de

13-22

Federal Government Reinstates the Estate Tax – What That Means to You

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

FeaturedImageRecently, the Federal government has reinstated a law that will have a significant impact on how we manage our estate. Beginning in 2011, the Federal government brought back the federal estate tax, which imposes a 35% tax on any estate exceeding $5 million, or $10 million for married couples.

An estate tax is defined as a tax imposed on your gross estate that exceeds the exemption limit. For example, if John dies leaving a gross estate of $6 million, his total taxable estate would be $1 million ($6M – $5M). Thus, his estate would pay $350,000 in estate taxes to the government ($1M x 35%). Note: only assets owned by you individually at the time of your death are included in your estate.

Although the common citizen may overlook this law due to the large required estate, it is important to note that many experts consider this $5 million exemption to only be temporary. By the end of 2012, it is widely speculated that federal lawmakers will revert back to the pre-2001 days, where there was only a $1 million exemption and a tax rate of 55%.

Whatever the exemption amount, there are certain tools at your disposal that can assist you in lowering your estate for purposes of avoiding the estate tax altogether, or lowering the amount of money that you will be required to pay to the government. The following are certain deductions that are available to reduce your estate taxes:

(1) Marital Deduction: any property transferred to your spouse upon your death is excluded from your estate;

(2) Charitable Deduction: donations made to a charitable organization are deducted from your estate (creating a charitable remainder annuity trust – CRAT – is beneficial in this regard);

(3) Irrevocable Trust: this is a trust that takes ownership away from you individually and transfers title to your trust’s name; therefore, because you no longer claim individual ownership, the size of your estate is reduced.

The above options are effective means to help reduce your estate; however, you are not restricted to just those. That is why it is always advised that you consult with an attorney who is well-versed in estate planning and asset protection to ensure that you have structured a sound estate plan. Remember, although the exemption may not apply to you this year, there is a strong likelihood that the exemption limit will dramatically decrease by 2012. Plan now to be assured that you have the utilized the right tools to reduce your estate. After all, it is always better to pay your heirs as opposed to the government.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Estate Planning, Shariah Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, Physician Contracts, and Family Law. To contact him for any questions related to this article or other areas of law, he can be reached at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

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Peter Bergen on Pakistan and Afghanistan After the Death of Osama bin-Laden

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

New York City–May 5th–Although your columnist regards the subject of his article herein to be worn out, (he had contemplated placing it next to his Op-Ed of last week on the death of Osama when the event was au courant,) but instead your essayist has decided to concluded his material on this important incident by this report he has garnered during his recent wanderings.

The Asia Society chapter in (N.Y.C.‘s borough of) Manhattan, the very City of 9-11 presented Peter Bergen, the author of the popular Holy War, Inc. and the equally acclaimed The Osama bin Laden I Know with the authoritative the  Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda which has only recently been released.  That journalist relayed his subject honestly with great insight that night.

His discourse there concerned itself on how the death of the commander of Al-Qaeda, the infamous Osama bin-Laden, might change the strategy of global terrorism and the counter-insurgency that it generates — especially within Afghanistan and the chief worldwide counterterrorist, the United States’ relationship with its second most dependable ally since the Second World War (after Great Britain, of course), Pakistan. There is a sense here in the West that their Pakistani ally’s bilateral commitment to the United States has become problematic with bin-Laden’s discovery by U.S. intelligence living comfortably and openly within the Islamic Republic.  American commandos (the U.S.’ Navy’s Seals), then, moved in for the “kill.”  (The American public has always shown a prejudice against Islamabad due to Indian propaganda while the regime(s) in Washington has (have) strongly relied upon this Islamic country to defend their mutual interests.  Osama’s domicile in the Punjab Province was due to rogue elements [possibly with connections to that Government whose seat is only down the road from Osama‘s home], but it was not the South Asian nation’s Administration’s policy [or knowledge] to have him there as a “guest!”)

Bergen’s background includes the Directorship of the National Security Studies Program at the New American Foundation.  He is, also, CNN’s (the Cable News Network‘s) national security analyst and a fellow at New York University’s Center on Law & Security, too.

Peter Bergen has reported extensively on al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and counterterrorism in the past.  In fact, he was of the few news commentators to have actually have interviewed bin-Laden himself.

As your author here has written on these pages in the past, and now Bergen has confirmed to this impressive and imposing assemblage that “Al-Qaeda’s ideology had already [started] to be slashed by the blossoming Arab ‘Spring.”

The Arab “Spring” has become a problem for Al-Qaeda in that it has invalidated their violent techniques to most of their “fellow-travelers,” and their “True Believers” that the “Base’s” methodology is redundant; and, therefore, its support has dwindled as Arab democracy has asserted itself!

Egypt had always been troublesome and hostile to the (violent) Jihads.  Now, with the reforms, hopefully, democratic change, if it is a finely-tuned, will discourage, the necessity for violently overthrowing the State.  So far, the Arab “Spring” — in the areas of its success — has largely chased gratuitous aggression from those  regions of the Middle East.  

Al-Qaeda was formed at a meeting during September of 1988.  A sub-national (not even that, but an organization that advocated bloodshed to those who did not believe as they — in essence, Takfrs.  Their odium  was strongly against the majority of Muslims whom they considered heretics while the majority of Islam considers their movement as heterodox.)  “bin-Laden was the commander of the violent Jihadi cluster”.  Bergen concludes that there is no one to replace him.  Something that your reporter is not so sure, but Peter Bergen, who had conversed with Osama before his death, conjectures that currently “After the commander‘s demise…[Al-Qaeda will] never [be able] to unite as a popular resistance!” 

Further, “bin-Laden orders and strategy [for post-his-extinction] are well-known.”  Al-Qaeda is immigrating towards the African country of Somalia.  Bergen felt, alas, his death would be “…a positive [change in the chance] for Israel’s survival…The longest War just got shorter!”

United States intelligence from Quetta and Karachi expose a robust anti-Americanism a over the expanse of the Pakistani State, but “The Obama Administration has handled the state of affairs well.”  His indictment of the Bush Regime was as an appalling aberration.  “They refused to look at dispute as it actually was.”  W.’s” Bush assertion of WMDs within Iraq was based on his willful imagination.  “The District of Columbia became a self-correction agency [i.e., state]!  Obama, now, is trying to make changes in foreign policy.  Peter Bergen deems that he has Afghanistan and Libya correct since, as he believes that “Khadafy is the worse mass  murderer in the Middle East!”

In the Hindu Kush where the Taliban thinks more in national terms whereas Qaeda looks into an international vista, it is a rural, therefore a more effective, insurgency where the fighting season is demarked between the end of the poppy and the beginning of the marijuana harvest.

The Afghan (National) Army is a reconfiguration of the old Northern Alliance.  Military service has become more economically attractive, and, thus, a more credible fighting service.

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Osama bin-Laden and Us

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Charlotte (N.C.)–May 5th–Coming home from the Southeast of the United States, I find myself in the Charlotte (North Carolina) airport.  Charlotte’s is the Seventeenth largest city in the United States.  In the last several years, Charlotte has become a major U.S. financial center, now the second largest after New York City, and the shenanigans here — such the executives of the Bank of America headquartered there, etc. — were partially the cause of the collapse of the housing market and the recession which followed from which, now, the B. Hussein Osama Administration is fighting to emerge.

Charlotte is referred to as the Queen City because the surrounding County was named after the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenberg, the Queen Consort of the (infamous “mad”  English) King George (the III) of American Revolutionary fame.  So, Charlotte is an (old for an American) city.  It is close to both the Appalachian (Mountains) and the Atlantic (Ocean).

Charlotte is not my story, but I was there when Osama bin-Laden was finally hunted down, and “slaughtered,” and, by the time I reached home on the North American Pacific Rim, he had been buried at sea; so, like Hitler last century, there would be no place for like-minded people to pilgrimage.

Arriving home last night, one of our regional (Oakland, Calif.) local evening news shows did a man-on-the-Street “survey” segment of (San Francisco) Bay Area (U.S.) citizens reaction to the “assassination” of an (undeniably) mass murderer (if you reject the conspiracy theories over 9-11 which I, personally, do).  There was one extremely thoughtful response from a Vietnam veteran: “Look., I was forced to take human lives, and sometimes this is necessary, but there is no pleasure in it!”  He is quite right.  While on this earth, life is the most valuable thing we can have, for it is only during life we can repent before Allah (SVT), and prepare ourselves for a righteous entrance into Paradise.  Bin-Laden had taken human life unmercifully, and his bloody ending is what a life of violence will lead.  That is, by his actions, his early death was inevitable.  

Fortunately, in my (forced) service as a young man, I never had to slaughter another soul, or, for that matter had been eradicated myself by an alien-commissioned “adversary.” either!  God is, indeed Great (and mercifully compassionate) to me!

Further, as an Afro-American woman interviewed on the aforementioned program, who had lost her son in battle in Afghanistan, said, because she was a Christian, she could take no delight in his passing, and Muslims, also, should not take delight in such a dispatch because he made the lives of American Muslims Hell, and worldwide more Muslim than non-Muslims had died from his policies! 

Although an evil and dangerous man, there is no joy in his death, for while we are alive we can repent before Allah (swt).  I cannot bemoan his passing, even though this man was responsible for so many — especially civilian deaths — in my natal land, and  began a tragic  war — like the Fuhrer in Germany.  I cannot delight in his death because like the Vietnam veteran, it has come to this.  I celebrate the bravery of the (U.S.) elite SEALS who accomplished what they were trained to do for their citizens!  According to reports, they did attempt to take him alive; so, we could see his sins of cruelty (or not); thus, the world could judge him in the bright light of day, and pronounce fitting justice in the cold thoughtfulness like the aloof International Courts in Nuremburg after the Second World War.

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Op-Ed by Rev. Michail Curro

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Executive Director, Interfaith Center for Racial Justice

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.

In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late…

We still have a choice today; Nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Curro2011MLK2 (1)In the stunning revelation that US forces had killed Osama bin laden, we are all called to reflect on what this means and re-emphasize the necessity to lift up the importance of nonviolence as taught and practiced by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (and Mahatma Gandhi before him).

President Obama emphasized in his death announcement that, “we need to remember that we are one country with an unquenchable faith in each other and our future.”

It would great if we could put an end to cynicism about government, see rancor in politics disappear, have Islamaphobia replaced by trust, and feel genuinely optimistic.  Thankfully, through my work with the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice (ICRJ), I haven’t lost hope and believe unity and working for the common good is achievable, but only if we use nonviolence.

Each year our Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration of Macomb County draws over 1,200 people—gathering draws every sector of our county and demonstrating unity and common purpose.  For one evening, this most diverse grouping of community leaders commemorate Dr. King and re-commit to working for a better tomorrow for all.  It is a night where all seems possible to build unity and strengthen community while lessening bigotry, intolerance and racism.  President Obama’s vision and King’s dream—both so eloquently articulated—seem shared and attainable during this celebration. 

Still the challenge after each MLK Celebration (and today in the aftermath of bin Laden’s death) is to remain united, focused, and hopeful.  We attempt to do this by calling on community leaders to keep MLK’s teachings at the heart of all they (and we) do.  And not just King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, but more importantly his teachings about and use of nonviolence to initiate social change and to create the “beloved community” we desire.

Our efforts here may never be more important, particularly in witnessing the spontaneous celebrations that followed the news of bin Laden’s death, the quick call that justice has been served, and the loud public clamoring to see photos of bin Laden with a bullet hole through his head.

I am reminded that Mahatma Gandhi once said of retribution:  “An eye for an eye and soon the whole world will be blind.”  Or as Dr. King explained, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already void of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Like every American, every Muslim, and most everyone around the world, I am delighted that Osama bin Laden was finally captured.  It is a great accomplishment.  Bin Laden and his followers symbolized terrorism and violent death.  But I cannot celebrate his death or think that his death alone is equal justice for all the death, loss, pain, and expense his actions, and those of al-Qaida, have caused.  I caution us from expressing such hate and vengeance for our enemies.  And I ask that we learn more about and practice nonviolence—the tool that has brought about the most change historically (Gandhi, Civil Rights) and we are witnessing in Egypt today.

Central to the ICRJ’s programming (and to nonviolence) is overcoming fear, particularly fear of others and the recognition that we cannot lift ourselves up by putting others down.

Our “Listen, Learn, & Live” (LLL) programs aim to build bridges of understanding among people of different cultures and faith traditions.  Currently we are in the middle of our ninth module on Islam and Muslims.  And earlier this week we began a module on Christianity at a mosque.

LLL’s purpose, however, isn’t just to deepen intellectual understanding but to help build trust among different people that fosters relationships and ultimately unity in working together for social justice.

We offer a variety of programs annually, including two June LLL modules:  an experience with the Black Church and on the Chaldean community.  And later this year we will look for community support and involvement in our LLL Summer Camp for Teenagers, fall interfaith breakfast seminar, interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration, and upcoming 2012 Silver Anniversary MLK Celebration.

At this time of great social change worldwide, our community can either choose to follow the downward spiral of vengeful distrust of others, or continue the important legacy of nonviolence that brings about real and lasting justice and peace for us, for our children, and our children’s children.

(For more information please call (586) 463-3675, visit www.icrj.org, or email curroicrj@sbcglobal.net.) 

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US Football Player Targeted for Criticizing Celebration of Killing

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jerry White

Following the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the news media and virtually every avenue of American popular culture was activated to manufacture an atmosphere of jingoism and celebration over the dirty killing of the Al Qaeda leader.

As has so often been the case, in particular since September 11, 2001, professional sports has been used to create a false aura of “national unity” and intimidate anyone critical of the criminal actions of the US government.

The backward chants of “USA! USA!” by a section of the crowd at the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the New York Mets baseball game Sunday night—following the announcement of the bin Laden killing—was followed by a week of sporting events where soldiers threw out the ceremonial first pitches and the routine singing of the national anthem at the National Basketball playoffs became the occasion for even more crude displays of flag-waving patriotism and militarism.

Sportscasters from the ESPN cable network were immediately dispatched to solicit pro-government comments from prominent athletes in an effort to demonstrate the supposed unanimity of public opinion. In an interview with Minnesota Vikings football coach Mike Priefer, a former Navy helicopter pilot, ESPN commentator Jay Crawford urged the coach that defensive players who tackle ball carriers on kickoff returns were a “well-trained team, working in precision,” just like the Navy Seal assassination squad.

Whether they shared the right-wing political conceptions or were naïve and taken in by the propaganda blitz, several prominent athletes issued statements praising the military and President Obama. There were, however, notable and, in the present circumstances, courageous exceptions. Since sports cable channels and news media would not broadcast such statements, the athletes making criticisms used their Twitter accounts.

The day after Obama’s announcement of the killing, Rashard Mendenhall, the 23-year-old star running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, tweeted: “What kind of man celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side.”

Mendenhall’s comments—which were bound up with his religious convictions and skepticism in the government’s version of the 9/11 events—were immediately seized upon for a rabid campaign accusing the football player of being disloyal and contemptuous of the 3,000 Americans killed by the terrorist attacks. The fraternity of cable television sportscasters—who, with few exceptions, generally appeal only to the base instincts of sports fans—demanded that the National Football League block athletes from having access to Twitter and social networking sites.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II released a statement regarding Mendenhall, saying it “is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments.” He added, “The entire Steelers organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done.”

In the face of the torrent of criticism, Mendenhall issued a clarification on his blog, which, while expressing religious conceptions and some conciliation to pro-war propaganda, nevertheless upheld his initial comments and the right to the express them.

“This controversial statement was something I said in response to the amount of joy I saw in the event of a murder. I don’t believe that this is an issue of politics or American pride; but one of religion, morality, and human ethics. I wasn’t questioning Bin Laden’s evil acts. I believe that he will have to face God for what he has done. I was reflecting on our own hypocrisy. During 9/11 we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death on our soil. Earlier this week, parts of the world watched us in horror celebrating a man’s death.”

On Friday, sports apparel maker Champion fired Mendenhall, who recently signed a four-year contract and had been a sponsor with the company since his NFL career started in 2008. While hypocritically claiming to respect his right to express such views, the company said, “We no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship.”

The statement added, “Champion is a strong supporter of the government’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the US Armed Forces” and said Mendenhall’s comments and opinions “were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand.”

Despite the witch-hunt atmosphere, other athletes also spoke out. Milwaukee Bucks basketball player Chris Douglas-Roberts tweeted after hearing of Bin Laden’s death, “Is this a celebration??”

Responding to several hostile tweets he went on to express his anti-war position in the regards to the killing of bin Laden.

“It took 919,967 deaths to kill that one guy.

“It took 10 years & 2 Wars to kill that…guy.

“It cost us (USA) roughly $1,188,263,000,000 to kill hat guy. But we’re winning though. Haaaa. (Sarcasm).”

With more negative reaction being tweeted at Douglas-Roberts, he went on to clarify his position.

“What I’m sayin’ has nothing to do with 9/11 or that guy (Bin Laden). I still feel bad for the 9/11 families but I feel EQUALLY bad for the war families. …

“People are telling me to get out of America now b/c I’m against MORE INNOCENT people dying every day? B/c I’m against a 10-year WAR?

“Whatever happened to our freedom of speech? That’s the problem. We don’t want to hear anything that isn’t our perspective.”

The effort to stampede public opinion, of course, has an effect. But the overwhelming sentiment of the population is one of suspicion towards the government and its official explanations and a concern over the erosion of deeply felt democratic rights in the name of the “war on terrorism.”

The American population—including athletes—have had ample experience with the lies of the US government and their exploitation of 9/11. Eight months after the terrorist attacks, Arizona Cardinal football player Patrick Tillman left a lucrative career to join the military. His death in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, was used by the Bush administration and Pentagon to promote support for the war, even as they concealed the fact from the American public and his family that he had been killed by friendly fire from US troops.

In 2007 testimony before a US congressional hearing, Tillman’s brother Kevin Tillman testified: “The deception surrounding this case was an insult to the family: but more importantly, its primary purpose was to deceive a whole nation. We say these things with disappointment and sadness for our country. Once again, we have been used as props in a Pentagon public relations exercise.”

While the military presented Tillman as a pro-war sports icon, his family and friends later made public that the young man developed anti-war and left-wing views while in the military and was preparing to write an anti-war book when he returned from Afghanistan.

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