Animal Communication

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufailA discipline within the field of animal behavior that focuses upon the reception and use of signals. Animal communication could well include all of animal behavior, since a liberal definition of the term signal could include all stimuli perceived by an animal. However, most research in animal communication deals only with those cases in which a signal, defined as a structured stimulus generated by one member of a species, is subsequently used by and influences the behavior of another member of the same species in a predictable way (intraspecific communication). In this context, communication occurs in virtually all animal species.

The field of animal communication includes an analysis of the physical characteristics of those signals believed to be responsible in any given case of information transfer. A large part of this interest is due to technological improvements in signal detection, coupled with analysis of the signals obtained with such devices.

Information transmission between two individuals can pass in four channels: acoustic, visual, chemical, and electrical. An individual animal may require information from two or more channels simultaneously before responding appropriately to reception of a signal. Furthermore, a stimulus may evoke a response under one circumstance but be ignored in a different context.

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Successful Convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

MPAC-initials-white-on-blkWith the phenomenon of Islamophobia on the rise and now the province of Presidential candidates, thoughtful Americans welcome organizations which confront this problem and work toward solutions. The United States cannot truly fulfill its democratic destiny until the issue of Islamophobia is consigned to the dustbin of history. In addition, many other problems – perhaps trumping Islamophobia in impact – call out for Islamic participation with the concurrent application of Islamic values. The Arab Spring and what America’s role should be, and the Islamic movements outside of the United States are but two. 

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) successfully examined these issues during its 11th Annual Conference, rising once again to the challenge inherent in its founding principles. The Convention took place this past Saturday in Los Angeles and was titled: “Spring Forward: America’s Role in A Changing World”. The Convention consisted of two parts: three work sessions and an evening banquet with speakers.

During the welcome by MPAC President Salaam Al Marayati, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca spoke about Islamophobia and praised the Los Angeles Muslim community in general and MPAC in particular for their cooperation with law enforcement. His presentation might well have been the prologue to the second workshop session. In a direct approach, Sheriff Baca reminded his audience that the United States Constitution grants religious liberty. There should be no interference in the construction of a church, synagogue or mosque. He said that he, like all law enforcement officers, took an oath to defend the Constitution. If there are officers who for reasons of deep seated bigotry are unable to reconcile their positions with their oath, they should leave the office. He received a standing ovation.

The first session,  Plenary I ,  featured Dr. Nayyer Ali, a member of the MPAC Board, as moderator and was titled: “US Foreign Policy: Potentials and Pitfalls”. A diverse panel considered the question of US foreign policy towards the nations of the Arab Spring. While there were answers as diverse as the participants, the results were a mixture of optimism, pessimism, and a wait and see attitude. There was consensus that an American Muslim role is imperative. D Ali gave a summary that perhaps best describes the work of the session.

He said that what we see in the Arab world is the end of the post colonial slumber period much like 1989 was for East Europe. Pay attention to the input of Islam, he continued. It will play a large role and will be integrated into democratic governments.The message of the Koran is a perfect guide as it calls for justice, religious and political freedom, and consensus. Injustice is un Islamic. While the Koran is not a political document, it lays the framework for a just society. The concept of Shura intrinsically prevents dictatorship. “The Arab spring will evolve into something we find admirable”. 
“I feel as if I have attended a graduate level political seminar” said one young woman.

A second session followed a luncheon break. This session was titled: “The Industry of Hate in the Public Square”. Edina Lekovic, MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programing, was the moderator.  She described a whirlwind of activity with emphasis currently on Lowe’s stores withdrawal of sponsorship for the TLC show All American Muslim.

Before the session began, each attendee was given a publication by the Center for American Progress. The book is titled: “Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America”.
One of the authors, Wajahat Ali, was the first presenter. Mr. Ali is also a playwright, journalist, attorney, humorist, and blogger. “Congratulations. The Muslim agenda is in place”. He cited, facetiously, a Muslim beauty queen and stealth halal turkeys. Mr. Ali spoke of the recent decision of Lowe’s stores to remove their sponsorship of the widely acclaimed television series, All American Muslim. He surprised his audience by telling them that the pressure on Lowe’s to withdraw its support was initiated by the work of one man. He identified this man as David Canton, virtually the lone member of the highly touted Florida Family Association, and a man with a history of bothering corporations. He continued by saying that even Mr. Canton’s web site was poorly done. Yet, like the effect of a megaphone,  the efforts of one man was presented as a large group effort.

“Its like watching a balloon deflate” whispered one audience member.

He cited bloggers Pamela Geller and David Horowitz for their role in taking this issue and publicizing it. He referenced the book he co authored and told his audience to read about the money trails, the donors and the amounts they have contributed, the beneficiaries with their organizations and/or web sites.  The book is truly encyclopedic and a valuable weapon in confronting and defeating Islamophobia.

Attendees were given an opportunity to fill out sign up sheets indicating their willingness to work with MPAC in this crucial venture.

Steven Rohde, a well known civil rights attorney and activist, spoke next. He recited a poem which he had written which paraphrased the famous work of the Reverend Martin Niemoller about the German intellectuals’ reluctance to speak up against injustice because they were not not initially targeted. In this version, the Muslims were the miner’s canary.

Mr. Rohde expressed his willingness to stand with Muslims and fight with them against any injustice turned their way. The audience gave him a standing ovation.

Aziza Hasan was the last presenter. She is MPAC’s Director of Southern California Government Relations. She said that we are commanded by the Koran to stand up for truth and to speak up against injustice. She told her audience to anticipate and to build. We can reasonably expect that Islamophobia will get worse by the election of 2012. We can prepare for that battle. We will build alliances and work with those already in place.

The final session, Plenary II, was titled: “Islamic Movements: Help or Hindrance”.  Haris Tarin who is the Executive Director of MPAC’s Washington, D. C. office was the moderator. Will political movements, suppressed for decades, be able to lead the people in a government that is democratic and pluralistic?

Salaam Al Marayati introduced Haris Tarin and complimented him on bringing the MPAC Washington, D. C. office to new levels of influence. In the Arab world, he noted, Islamic groups were able to organize against the dictators in power.

The Muslim world entered modernity through colonialism and therefore entered it as subjects, said panelist Haroon Mogdul, an Associate Editor at Religion Dispatches, a Senior Editor for The Islamic Monthly, and a Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Dr. Jasser Auda said that the landscape is complex. For example, the youth of the Muslim Brotherhood is closer to liberal youth than to the senior leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. Auda is an Associate Professor at the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. He continued by saying that the Salafist youth are separate from their Imams. Youth are developing the idea of a civil state with an Islamic reference.

Invited guests for the evening banquet were Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of “Race Matters” and Ebrahim Rasool, South African ambassador to the United States.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council has worked since 1988 to promote an American Muslim community which will enrich American society through the application of Islamic principles. These principles are Mercy, Justice, Peace, Human Dignity, Freedom and Equality. MPAC has become the go to group for media and government officials. American Muslims have come to accept it as a spokesgroup on their behalf.

MPAC’s programs include: an Anti-terrorism campaign; a Hollywood Bureau; Government Relations; Countering Islamophobia; Young Leaders Development, and Interfaith Outreach.      

The foregoing is but a small portion of the work of MPAC. To learn more about the group, to contribute, and to volunteer, please access their web site at: www.mpac.org.

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Rodents

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufailA rodent is a member of the mammalian order Rodentia, characterized by front teeth adapted for gnawing and cheek teeth adapted for chewing. The Rodentia is by far the largest mammalian order; nearly half of all mammal species are rodents. They are worldwide in distribution and are found in almost every terrestrial and freshwater habitat, from the shores of the Arctic Ocean to the hottest deserts. They are variously adapted for running, jumping, climbing, burrowing, swimming, and gliding. Many of them have dexterous forepaws, which they use as hands while sitting on their haunches in a position characteristic of many rodents. The great majority are under a few inches in length; the largest, the capybara, is about 4 ft (120 cm) long and 20 in. (50 cm) high at the shoulder.

Rodents have enlarged, chisel-shaped upper and lower front incisors that grow throughout their lives. These have hard enamel on the front surface and soft dentine on the back surface, so that unequal wear keeps the chisel edge sharp. There is a gap between the front teeth and the cheek teeth. When the lower jaw is in a forward position, for gnawing, the upper and lower incisors are in contact but the upper and lower cheek teeth are not; thus, wear on the cheek teeth is avoided. The cheeks are drawn in behind the incisors when the animal is gnawing, so that bits of hard material cannot be swallowed. When the lower jaw is pulled back into the chewing position, only the cheek teeth make contact.

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Suleyman Karimov, Sportsman/Philanthropist

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Russia’s Suleyman Karimov is a member of the Federation Council of Russia (the upper chamber of the Russian parliament), a businessman, an investor and an active philanthropist. He has a degree in financial accounting and economics from Dagestan State University. And he is currently listed as number 118 on Forbes’ list of the World’s Billionaires, with a reported net worth of $7.8 billion. A self-made investor, Kerimov earned his success by building a diverse investment portfolio made up of both public and private interests. And his charitable organization, the Suleiman Kerimov Foundation, has directed over $60 million to charitable causes.

Most prominently, in January 2011, he purchased the Russian Premier League football team FC Anzhi Makhachkala. And this past August, Karimov made a huge splash by acquiring Samuel Eto’o and making him the highest paid footballer in the world. Eto’o’s salary is estimated at €20 million ($AU27 million) net per season, eclipsing the estimated €12 million ($AU17.4 million) that Cristiano Ronaldo earns at Real Madrid and the €10.5 million ($AU15.2 million) that Lionel Messi is paid by Barcelona. After a week of negotiations, the transfer fee was reportedly set between €25 and €27 million ($36 and $39 million). The deal also put the former Inter and Barcelona striker ahead of the NBA’s highest-paid player, Kobe Bryant ($AU25.2 million). The New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez still makes more with his $32 million this season.

From 1999 to 2007, Kerimov served as a Deputy of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament. He was Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Physical Education, Youth and Sports and also a member of the State Duma’s Security Committee. He now serves as a member of the Financial Markets and Monetary Circulation Committee.

Kerimov is married and has three children. A lifelong athlete and supporter of youth sports, Kerimov currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Wrestling Federation. He has served in this position since the board was created in 2006.

On November 26, 2006, in Nice, France Kerimov was seriously injured in a road accident on the Promenade des Anglais. He suffered severe burns from this accident followed by prolonged recovery. Following his car crash and resulting medical treatment for severe burns, Kerimov donated €1 million to the non-profit organization Pinocchio. The non-profit organization, which works with children suffering from burns, has an annual budget of between €250,000-300,000.

In 2007, Kerimov founded The Suleiman Kerimov Foundation with the vision to help lives by investing in initiatives that strengthen communities and help those in need. The foundation supports projects all over the world, with particular emphasis on Russia and Russian communities. Between its 2007 and 2009, the foundation made donations totaling over $164 million in support of worthwhile projects and causes.

On December 17, 2010, it was announced that Kerimov would spend $100 million on the construction of an advanced comprehensive school west of Moscow “for educating forward-minded children from different social groups.” The school is to include a modern sports complex with a swimming pool, a skating-rink, a giant dance floor, as well as a residential area for gifted children from the provinces.

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Abdul Ghaffar Sheikh, Dedicated AFMI Member, Passes Away

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

scan0129FARMINGTON, MICHIGAN—It is with profound sadness that the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) announces the passing away of Br. Abdul Ghaffar Sheikh. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon.  He was the former president of AFMI-Canada anda life-long dedicated activist for the cause of education.  He suddenly passed away at the Mumbai airport on reaching from Toronto.  He was planning to attend AFMI’s convention scheduled to be held on December 24-25,2011 in Ranchi.

He was associated with a number of community organizations in the Greater Toronto Area. He was deeply concerned about the educational status of Indian Muslims and had many ideas and plans of improving it. In thepast eight years he had hardly missed any of the AFMI’s conventions in India where he often moderated or spoke at the sessions. He would also mingle with the student awardees, giving them advice and inquiring about their career plans.

AFMI has lost a dedicated member whose presence will be sorely missed.

We pray to Allah (swt) to grant him maghfirah and the highest stations in jannah and patience to his family and friends.

The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin; 29008 W.8 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48336; Tel: 248-442-2364; afmi11@aol.com.

Pakistan Gets UNSC Seat

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Pak Says India Played Role

PTI

india-pakistan-flag_0

KARACHI: India played a big role in supporting Pakistan’s successful bid to become a non-permanent member of the powerful UN Security Council, Islamabad’s envoy to the world body Abdullah Hussain Haroon said here today.

Many of the countries that Pakistan had considered as friends were no longer its friends, but India “supported us in becoming a non-permanent member of the 15-member Security Council,” Haroon told reporters at the Karachi airport.

Pakistan, which was challenged by Kyrgyzstan, was backed by 129 of the 193 member states in the UN General Assembly. Kyrgyzstan polled 55 votes.

Pakistan will replace Lebanon, which currently occupies the Asian seat, on January 1, 2012, for a two-year term.

Haroon said that Pakistan had worked very hard in the past six months to win votes for the prestigious seat.

“I think we should not be discouraged by the reaction by some of the nations in the UN because I can say the world wants Pakistan to play its positive role in the global scenario,” he said.

Pakistan has been on the Council six times earlier — 1952-53, 1968-69, 1976-77, 1983-84, 1993-94 and 2003-04. It’s new term would overlap with India — which began its two-year tenure on January 1 this year — for the fourth time.

Pakistan and India had earlier shared terms on the Security Council in 1968, 1977 and 1984.

Haroon said Pakistan was committed to multilateralism and promoting principles and purposes enshrined in the UN Charter.

To a question on US drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas, he said he could only take up the issue if the government authorised him to do so. “But we should not be scared of these attacks.” he added.

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Turkey Rescue Efforts Hurt by Lack of Equipment

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Hürriyet Daily News

Search-and-rescue personnel working in the Van earthquake zone have decried their “primitive” working conditions and lack of technical equipment as they try and reach survivors from the eastern province’s devastating temblor.

“We are working with primitive tools, we have no equipment,” one rescuer told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Emergency personnel said they heard cries for help coming from under a collapsed building this morning and started to work on the wreckage to reach the survivors. The cries had stopped at around noon, they said, adding that they had to dig out the dead bodies of quake victims.

“We can’t get to survivors fast enough,” one rescue team member said.

The spirit among rescuers is noticeably low, and some members could only weep in frustration at the situation.

There is a device to find people under rubble, rescuers said, but added that they only had one of the devices in the district of Erciş, which was worst hit by the Oct. 23 quake.
“We yell into collapsed buildings, asking if anybody is there,” a rescue team member said.

Aid inadequate

Only one food distribution point was set up in Erciş and there was a significant lack of supplies and equipment. No new aid truck or supplies arrived for the hours that the Hürriyet Daily News was in Erciş.

Banks, hospitals and stores were all damaged or destroyed in the quake but there have been no reports of looting as people have continued to walk around Erciş in shock.

Many survivors said the only thing they wanted was some bread.

All but one of the homes in the nearby Yedikonak village was flattened in the quake.

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Questions Abound over Iran “Plot” to Kill Saudi Envoy

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Alistair Lyon

2011-10-12T013728Z_261663125_GM1E7AC0QST01_RTRMADP_3_USA-SECURITY-IRAN

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir speaks to the media at the Mideast Peace Conference in Annapolis, in this November 27, 2007 file photo. The United States accused Iran on October 11, 2011 of backing a plot to kill al-Jubeir, escalating tensions with Tehran and stirring up a hornet’s nest in the Gulf, where Saudi Arabia and Iran have long jostled for power.                    

REUTERS/Jason Reed/Files

LONDON (Reuters) – You couldn’t make it up — or could you?

U.S. allegations that an Iranian spy outfit attempted to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington in a convoluted plot involving a U.S. informant posing as a member of a Mexican drug cartel seem bizarre to say the least.

Still, Washington says the drama justifies new international sanctions against Iran and Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief insists that “somebody in Iran” must pay the price.

“The burden of proof and the amount of evidence in the case is overwhelming and clearly shows official Iranian responsibility for this,” Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said.

The potential consequences are dire in a tense region where the United States and Israel reserve the right to attack Iran to stop it acquiring a nuclear bomb, a goal Tehran disavows.

For starters, the row could throttle any slim chance of resuming negotiations to settle the nuclear dispute.

Saudi-Iranian acrimony has ratcheted up this year, especially since Saudi troops intervened to help Bahrain’s Sunni rulers crush protests led by the island’s Shi’ite majority and fomented, according to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, by Iran.

From across the Middle East’s Arab-Persian and Sunni-Shi’ite faultlines, Riyadh also accuses Tehran of inciting unrest among minority Shi’ites in its own oil-rich Eastern Province, and has often urged the United States in the past to attack Iran, according to diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.

The plot suspects are Iranian-American Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, arrested on September 29 in New York, and Gholam Shakuri, said to be a member of Quds Force, the covert, operational arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He is thought to be in Iran.

U.S. evidence rests mainly on Arbabsiar’s alleged confession that he had acted for men he thought were top Quds officials.

MOTIVE AND MEANS

Yet questions abound over the putative plot, not least the classic ones of motive and means. Many analysts are skeptical.

What could Iran hope to gain from an assassination that would have brought fierce retribution? Why try to recruit a hitman from a Mexican drug cartel instead of using its own?

On the other hand, why would the United States, even with a presidential election looming next year, go public with such accusations unless they were well founded, knowing the impact they could have on an already volatile Middle East?

“Killing the Saudi envoy in America has no benefit for Iran,” said independent Iranian analyst Saeed Leylaz. “Why should Iran create hostility when the region is boiling?

Dismissing the “very amateur scenario” as out of character, he said: “Iran might have conducted some political adventurism like denying the Holocaust, but an assassination attempt, particularly in America, is so un-Iranian.”

It would certainly be a departure for Iran, although it has assassinated its own dissidents abroad since the 1979 Islamic revolution, and it has used Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and Shi’ite militias in Iraq to further its own aims.

Decision-making in Tehran is murky and factional rivalry is rife. But the idea that rogue Quds elements could concoct such a momentous plot seems a stretch. That Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would authorize it seems more so.

“The United States would not blame the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) without substantial evidence,” argued U.S.-based global intelligence company Stratfor.

“However, this plot seems far-fetched considering the Iranian intelligence services’ usual methods of operation and the fact that its ramifications would involved substantial political risk,” it added.

Former CIA agent Robert Baer poured scorn on the reported Iranian conspiracy. “This stinks to holy hell,” he told Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “The Quds Force are very good. They don’t sit down with people they don’t know and make a plot. They use proxies and they are professional about it.”

CONSEQUENCES UNCLEAR

How this lurid episode in the adversarial relationships between Iran, the United States and its Saudi ally will play out in a Middle East already in turmoil is not yet clear.

Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, said the “fabricated allegations” were a U.S. bid to divert attention from Arab uprisings that Iran says were inspired by its own Islamic revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah in 1979.

Tehran has watched in glee as popular revolts have ousted U.S. allies in Egypt and Tunisia, even if Islam has not been the overt driving force behind the surge of Arab unrest – it may have more in common with Iran’s own street protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.

Iran, however, is disconcerted by the upheaval in Syria, its only solid Arab ally and overland link to Hezbollah.

The fall of President Bashar al-Assad would damage Iran’s “resistance” axis and perhaps strengthen Saudi Arabia and Turkey, its main Sunni rivals for influence in the Middle East.

Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, is already on a U.S. sanctions list for allegedly supporting Assad’s violent six-month-old crackdown on dissent.

Nevertheless, it seems doubtful that any of the protagonists would want to use the alleged Iranian plot as a pretext for all-out confrontation in a region the world depends on for oil.

Given that no one was hurt, Iran, the United States and Saudi Arabia may avert any violent fallout — although Washington clearly intends to push for further international punishment of Iran for its defiance of U.S. policy.

“More U.S. sanctions will be about the limit of it,” said Alastair Newton, a former senior British Foreign Office official and now senior political analyst for Japanese bank Nomura. “The U.S. case hardly looks solid, either, so let’s wait and see.”

U.S. officials have themselves acknowledged that the details of the plot smack of a Hollywood script, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton jesting: “Nobody could make that up, right?”

(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Tehran, Peter Apps and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London, and Washington/New York bureaux; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

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Stark Law Terms Often Misunderstood by Physicians

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

Stark-GraphWith the government beginning to scrutinize a physician’s practice now more than ever, many physicians are starting to take a proactive role in understanding certain rules that have been implemented against them.

In January of 1992, Congress imposed and substantially changed the health care industry by introducing what is commonly referred to as the Stark law. Specifically, Stark law is comprised of Sections 1877 (42 U.S.C. §1395nn, applicable to Medicare) and 1903 (42 U.S.C. §1396b, applicable to Medicaid) of the Social Security Act.

Stark law governs physician self-referral for Medicare and Medicaid patients, and prohibits physicians from referring designated health services (DHS) to Medicare or Medicaid qualified patients to an entity where the physician, or an immediate family member of the physician, has a vested financial relationship.

Despite the unambiguous definitions, many physicians/hospitals have fallen prey to this law and have found themselves in substantial legal issues. For any physician, it is imperative for them to know and understand the basics of this law and what certain definitions mean; as the understanding of the simplest terms can help avoid potential litigation.

The following are the top three (3) definitions that many physicians often misunderstand: Please note, these definitions are not exclusive, and it is always strongly advised to consult with your attorney prior to any potential referrals that may fall under this rule.

1.  Financial Relationship: An ownership or investment interest (through equity, debt or other means) in an entity; or a compensation arrangement between a physician, or immediate family member of a physician, and an entity.

2. DHS: The following are the type of services that are restricted under Stark: (i) clinical laboratory services, (ii) physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services, (iii) radiology and certain other imaging services, (iv) radiation therapy services and supplies, (v) durable medical equipment and supplies, (vi) parenteral and enteral nutrients, equipment and supplies, (vii) prosthetics, orthotics, and prosthetic devices and supplies, (viii) home health services, (ix) outpatient prescription drugs, and (x) inpatient and outpatient hospital services.

3. Referral:  Generally, a referral is considered a request by a physician for, or ordering of any DHS for which payment may can be made under Medicare Part B; in addition, it is a request by a physician to perform any DHS for which payment may be made under Medicare.

Despite these general terms, Stark law is a very complex rule that many physicians fail to take the interest in understanding. A physician who violates this rule is subject to the following penalties: denial of payment; required person would be required to refund amounts collected that were billed; and civil money penalty and being excluded from Medicare, Medicaid and other possible federal programs.

The above is simply an informative piece designed to help simplify certain terms under Stark law. Please consult with your own attorney to provide you with additional information that may be more specific to your situation and needs. Although the rule was implemented more than twenty-years ago, the government has recently begun to scrutinize the application of this rule.

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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Mohammad Qayoumi, New President of San Jose State University

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

SAN JOSE,CA–Mohammad H. Qayoumi was appointed last month as president of San José State University, the oldest and one of the largest universities in the 23-campus CSU system. Previously, Qayoumi served as president of California State University, East Bay, where under his leadership, the university adopted long-range academic and strategic plans that significantly strengthened its regional position and profile.

In addition to his more than 30 years of experience in the service of higher education and industry, Qayoumi is a licensed professional engineer and a certified management accountant. He has published eight books, more than 85 articles, and several chapters in various books. Additionally, he has presented at numerous national and international conferences on topics ranging from quality and energy to systems theory. Qayoumi is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and has served as a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award examiner and senior examiner.

Qayoumi has served his native country in various capacities, including as a senior advisor to the Minister of Finance of Afghanistan and member of the board of directors for the Central Bank of Afghanistan. Locally, Qayoumi is a member of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and serves on several boards including the Bay Area Council, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance and the Contra Costa Business Council.

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“Some Will Call Me a Torturer”: CIA Man Reveals

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Spencer Ackerman

handcuffsAdmitting that “some will call me a torturer” is a surefire way to cut yourself off from anyone’s sympathy. But Glenn Carle, a former CIA operative, isn’t sure whether he’s the hero or the villain of his own story.

Distilled, that story, told in Carle’s new memoir The Interrogator, is this: In the months after 9/11, the CIA kidnaps a suspected senior member of al-Qaida and takes him to a Mideast country for interrogation. It assigns Carle — like nearly all his colleagues then, an inexperienced interrogator — to pry information out of him. Uneasy with the CIA’s new, relaxed rules for questioning, which allow him to torture, Carle instead tries to build a rapport with the man he calls CAPTUS.

But CAPTUS doesn’t divulge the al-Qaida plans the CIA suspects him of knowing. So the agency sends him to “Hotel California” — an unacknowledged prison, beyond the reach of the Red Cross or international law.

Carle goes with him. Though heavily censored by the CIA, Carle provides the first detailed description of a so-called “black site.” At an isolated “discretely guarded, unremarkable” facility in an undisclosed foreign country (though one where the Soviets once operated), hidden CIA interrogators work endless hours while heavy metal blasts captives’ eardrums and disrupts their sleep schedules.

Afterward, the operatives drive to a fortified compound to munch Oreos and drink somberly to Grand Funk Railroad at the “Jihadi Bar.” Any visitor to Guantanamo Bay’s Irish pub — O’Kellys, home of the fried pickle — will recognize the surreality.

But Carle — codename: REDEMPTOR — comes to believe CAPTUS is innocent.

“We had destroyed the man’s life based on an error,” he writes. But the black site is a bureaucratic hell: CAPTUS’ reluctance to tell CIA what it wants to hear makes the far-off agency headquarters more determined to torture him. Carle’s resistance, shared by some at Hotel California, makes him suspect. He leaves CAPTUS in the black site after 10 intense days, questioning whether his psychological manipulation of CAPTUS made him, ultimately, a torturer himself.

Eight years later, the CIA unceremoniously released CAPTUS. (The agency declined to comment for this story.) Whether that means CAPTUS was innocent or merely no longer useful as a source of information, we may never know. Carle spoke to Danger Room about what it’s like to interrogate a man in a place too dark for the law to find.

Wired.com: Do you consider yourself a torturer? At the end of the book, you wrestle with the question.

Glenn Carle: According to Justice Department lawyer John Yoo’s August 2002 memo on interrogation, the answer is no. As one can see from the entire book, I opposed all these practices and this approach. I was involved in it, although I tried to stop what I considered wrong. I feel I acted honorably throughout my involvement in the CAPTUS operation, and tried to have him treated properly, but much of it was disturbing and wrong.

Wired.com: You’re maybe the only CIA officer to publicly describe a “black site” prison, your Hotel California. What was it like to be inside a place completely off the books from any legal accountability? Did it make you feel like you could act with impunity? How did you restrain yourself?

Glenn Carle: No, I never, never felt like I could or should act with impunity. No one I know felt that way. We all felt we were involved in an extraordinary, sensitive operation that required very careful behavior. What was acceptable was often unclear, despite the formal guidance that eventually was developed.

“How did I restrain myself” implies perhaps that I was inclined to act in unrestrained ways. I never, ever was; nor were, in my experience, my colleagues. From literally the first second I was briefed on the operation, I was acutely aware that I would have to weigh every step I took, and decide what was morally, legally acceptable. There was never the slightest thought that I or anyone could act with impunity. We were acting clandestinely; but never beyond obligations to act correctly and honorably. The dilemma comes in identifying where those lines are, in a situation in which much was murky.

Wired.com: You came to believe that the man you call CAPTUS “was not a jihadist or a member of al-Qaida.” Well, even so, was he still dangerous? Did you ever feel he duped you? You write that he lied to you, after all.

Glenn Carle: CAPTUS himself was not a terrorist, or a dangerous man. He had been involved in activities of legitimate concern to the CIA, because they did touch upon al-Qaida activities. That’s a fact. But he was not a willing member of, believer in, or supporter of, al-Qaida. He was not a terrorist, had committed no crimes, had not intentionally supported jihad or terrorist actions.

Did he dupe me? He evaded and lied on occasion, yes. And I always wrestled with the question of whether he was duping me. In the end, I had to decide, though, and I decided he was, fundamentally, straight with me. Never totally, but fundamentally, yes. This is not a black and white-hat situation. I try to make that as clear as can be in the book. Little was simple — thus, my descriptions of the “gray world” in which knowledge is imperfect, motivations and actions are sometimes contradictory — in which CAPTUS, perhaps, was truthful, innocent, disingenuous, and complicit simultaneously.

Wired.com: Did you ever feel, at Hotel California or before, that interrogating CAPTUS put you in legal jeopardy down the road?

Glenn Carle: I think everyone was concerned with this, at every level, and at every second of one’s involvement in interrogation operations. We all worked very hard to act legally.The challenges are how to reconcile contradictory laws, which are morally repugnant, perhaps, and which leave room for broad interpretation and abuse.

No one consciously broke the law, ever, in my experience or knowledge. But what should one do? How could one follow one’s orders and accomplish one’s mission, when it was flawed, objectionable, and perhaps itself legally, albeit “legally” ordered. That’s the supreme dilemma I wrestled with, and others did, too.

Wired.com: When you first interrogate CAPTUS, you write that you tried to establish a rapport with him — even as you kept him fearful that you controlled his fate. When that didn’t get the intelligence CIA HQ wanted, they shipped the both of you to Hotel California. Did CIA consider the possibility that he wasn’t who they thought he was?

Glenn Carle: I had slow, partial, success during my time of involvement in bringing colleagues and the institution to see him more as I did. But I failed, ultimately. The view that he was a senior al-Qaida member or fellow-traveler remained decisive for a long, long time. The agency or U.S. government didn’t change its views for eight years. Perhaps it never did.

Wired.com: Run me through how CAPTUS was treated at the Hotel.

Glenn Carle: The objectives are to “dislocate psychologically” a detainee. This is done through psychological and physical measures, primarily intended to disrupt Circadian rhythms and an individual’s perceptions. So, noise, temperature, one’s sense of time, sleep, diet, light, darkness, physical freedom — the normal reference points for one’s senses are all distorted. Reality disappears, and so do one’s reference points. It is shockingly easy to disorient someone.

But that is not the same as making someone more willing to cooperate. The opposite is true — as the CIA’s KUBARK interrogation manual cautions will occur, as I predicted and forewarned and as occurred in my and other officers’ experiences.

Wired.com: In 2003, according to declassified documents, your old boss, George Tenet approved the following “enhanced interrogation techniques” for use on high-value detainees: “the attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap (insult slap), the abdominal slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation beyond 72 hours, the use of diapers for prolonged periods, the use of harmless insects, the water board.” Were any of these used on CAPTUS? Did you take part in any of their use?

Glenn Carle: No. These measures were formally set out, I believe, after my involvement in interrogation. And in any event, from my first second of involvement in the CAPTUS operation I simply would not allow or have anything to do with any physical coercive measure. I would not do it. That point I was certain of instantaneously. I also had literally never heard of waterboarding until the story about it broke in the media.

Wired.com: Did you get any useful intelligence out of CAPTUS? If so, what interrogation techniques “worked”?

Glenn Carle: Oh, yes, CAPTUS definitely provided useful intelligence. The methods that worked were the same ones that work in classic intelligence operations: establishing a rapport with the individual, understanding his fears, hopes, interests, quirks. It is a psychological task, very similar to what one should do when establishing any human relationship.

The plan was to be a perceptive, and sometimes manipulative, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and purposeful individual who understood the man sitting opposite him, and earn his trust.

Wired.com: You came to question whether even the mild psychological disorientation you induced on CAPTUS was too severe an interrogation method. Why? Did you sympathize with CAPTUS too much?

Glenn Carle: There is always a danger for a case officer to “fall in love” with his “target.” That’s the term we use. Any good officer guards against that, and always questions his own perceptions. Always. But I was the one who looked in CAPTUS’ eyes for hours and hours and days and days. It was I who knew the man, literally. I’m confident in my assessment of him.

And yes, I at first accepted my training: that psychological dislocation induced cooperation, and would not be lasting or severe, therefore could be acceptable in certain circumstances. I came quickly to conclude that this was founded on erroneous conclusions — nonsense, actually — about human psyche and motivation. [It] did not work, was counterproductive and was, simply, wrong in every way. So, I came to oppose it.

Wired.com: How did the CIA react to you publishing this book? Huge sections of it are blacked out.

Glenn Carle: The agency redacted about 40 percent of the initial manuscript, deleting entire chapters, almost none of which had anything to do with protecting sources or methods. Much of it was so the agency could protect itself from embarrassment, or from allowing any description of the interrogation program to come out. One would infer, obviously, that large segments of the agency would have preferred to leave CAPTUS’ story in the dark, where it took place.

Wired.com: David Petraeus, the incoming CIA director, suggested to Congress that there might be circumstances where a return to “enhanced interrogation” is appropriate. What would you say to him?

Glenn Carle: That there is almost no conceivable circumstance in which the enhanced interrogation practices are acceptable or work. This belief is a red herring, wrong, and undoes us a bit. We are better than that. Enhanced interrogation does not work, and is wrong. End of story.

Wired.com: The Justice Department decided on June 30 to seek criminal inquiries in two cases of detainee abuses — out of 101. Was that justice, a whitewash or something in between?

Glenn Carle: It wasn’t a whitewash. It’s in general better not to seek retribution, but to seek to inculcate correct values and behavior going forward.

Wired.com: Did you ever learn what happened to CAPTUS’ treatment after you left at Hotel California? Why was he was released? Have you tried to find him? What would you tell him if you saw one another?

Glenn Carle: No. I left the case and knew nothing about him for years. I presume he was released because the institution, at last, accepted what I had argued as strongly as I had been able to do so. He was ultimately let go, I hope, because the institution and U.S. government, at last, came to accept my view of CAPTUS. His release validates — substantiates — everything I argued.

I came to respect CAPTUS. We are from such different worlds, and his and my circumstances — he a detainee and I one of his interrogators — are so radically different that conversation would be awkward if we ever met again. It is natural that he feel resentment. And little was ever clear in the entire operation. That’s the nature of intelligence work. He is not a total innocent, I don’t think. But his rendition was not justified by the facts as I came to learn them, which was at odds with the agency’s assessment of him.

Wired.com: Finally, how many CAPTUSes — people you believe to be innocent men swept up in the CIA “enhanced interrogation” system — are there?

Glenn Carle: I do not know.

Note: For more on secret prisons, see my articles transcribing the sections dealing with US secret detention after 9/11, which were part of a UN report on secret detention that was published last year: UN Secret Detention Report (Part One): The CIA’s “High-Value Detainee” Program and Secret Prisons, UN Secret Detention Report (Part Two): CIA Prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq and UN Secret Detention Report (Part Three): Proxy Detention, Other Countries’ Complicity, and Obama’s Record.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.                  Wired

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Hay Festival 2011: Ex-CIA Man Claims Barack Obama ‘Doesn’t Have a Clue’

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

David Cameron and Barack Obama ‘’don’t have a clue’’ about dealing with the war on terror, a former senior member of the CIA has claimed.

Scheuer_1908616c

Former head of the CIA Michael Scheuer talks about Osama bin Laden at the Hay Festival Photo: PA

Speaking at The Daily Telegraph-sponsored Hay Festival, Michael Scheuer said western politicians had to accept that the conflict in the Middle East was caused by US foreign policy.

Mr Scheuer, the former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit said that the terrorist and organisations such as al-Qaeda were fighting a war against US imperialism rather than a war on western culture.

‘’American politicians, and I’m afraid listening to Mr Cameron this week, there’s not a clue about what’s going down in the western world,’’ he told the festival.

‘’They can’t cope with the fact that it’s nothing to do with the way we live. It doesn’t have anything to do with elections or democracy or liberty.

‘’We are being attacked in the west and we will continue to be attacked in the west as long as we are in Afghanistan, as long as we support the Israelis, as long as we protect the Saudi police state.”

He added: ‘’Yet we hear the President, we hear your Prime Minister, talking about thugs and gangsters. We are still in the starting blocks in this war.

‘’The main recruitment sergeant for al Qaida is Barack Obama because his speech on the May 19 was a declaration of cultural war on Islam.’’

Mr Scheuer, who was speaking at the Festival, in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, is a controversial figure in intelligence and political circles.

He left the bin Laden unit two years before September 11 but was called back as an adviser in the wake of the terrorist attack.

Mr Scheuer described his experiences in his book Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism. It was published anonymously in 2004, but Mr Scheuer was soon outed as the author.
His book drew criticism in the US, but was praised for its insight in a speech by bin Laden himself.

In a round of questions, a member of the audience asked Mr Scheuer what advice he would give Mr Obama.

‘’I would ask him to tell the truth,’’ he replied.

‘’He, the first Mr Bush, then Mr Clinton and the second Mr Bush have assiduously lied to the American people for 20 years and as a result have made the relations in the United States between Muslims and other people much more difficult.

‘’They have identified the motivation of our enemy as a war against liberty, as a war against gender equality.”

He added: “There is almost no Muslim out there who is an insane character who is going to blow himself up because my daughters go to university.

‘’What I try and show in my book is that there is no discussion by bin Laden of this cultural war that is supposed to be waged against us.

‘’A president who was a statesman and a politician might say something like ‘I’m sorry we’ve been kinda lying to you for 30 years and why we are being attacked is until recently we were supporting fascism across the Middle East’.”

He continued: ‘’In the rhetoric of our enemies there is very little, if anything, about attacking us for how we live or how we think or how we act in our own country.

‘’It is about intervention, it is about being in the Arab Peninsula and it has nothing to do with these cultural things.

‘’We are the ones that are arranging the cultural war against them. What we will see as al Qaida evolves is that the next generation is better educated, combat experienced and probably much crueller.’’

Mr Scheuer said the only way to end the war on terror was to withdraw from the Middle East to an extent that is ‘’consistent with our interests’’.

He added: ‘’The American relationship with Israel, in my mind, is a useless and unnecessary relationship.

‘’As long as we are playing a role we are the recruiting sergeant for the people that are going to kill us.’’

The Telegraph UK

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Fire started at the Houston Masjid Targeted by Arsonists

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

According to Houston Fire Department, the iconic community Masjid (mosque) Madrasae Islamiah located in the 6600 block of Bintliff Drive in southwest Houston was targeted by masked arsonists. Madrasae Islamiah was established in 1989 and seniors at the Masjid have informed that they cannot recall if anything similar had ever happened.

Madrasae Islamiah Room Roof And Lights Have Black Dust From the FireSpeakers Got Black Dust Due to Fire at Madrasae IslamiahTiles And Floor Charred by the Fire at Madrasae IslamiahTiles Burnt by the Arson Fire at Madrasae IslamiahWater Sink is Charred at Madrasae IslamiahAccording to the footage from the surveillance video show two masked men sneaked from the backside of the property adjacent to CarMax. According to one member of the Masjid, who heard the fire alarm to reach the scene of the incident, the two arsonists had smashed in a window, and then doused a room with gasoline into the side prayer hall, before setting the fire. Many of the carpets on the floor got on fire, but the person was able to control much of the fire before it could have gone into the main prayer hall. Also many of the wrapped carpets did not catch the fire; otherwise the catastrophe could have been much more horrific. On Monday when our reporter visited the site, there was evidence of the smoke and flames in the atmosphere throughout the Masjid.

Surveillance video shows men creeping onto the property around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday. The video shows them covering their faces, which suggests that they had either known or feared of cameras on the premises. Few minutes later, they are seen getting into a white or silver four-door car driven by another person.

Talking to local mainstream American media outlets, Zaid Abdul-Aziz, a visitor and former Houston Rocket player, who played under the name Don Smith, said the crime was troubling. “It makes me really worried because Islam respects all religions,” he said.

The alarm sounded when glass was broken, but there was also someone staying inside the mosque who called 9-1-1. The crime, however, have not stopped the regular five times prayers at this populace Masjid.

Talking to various media outlets including Brad Woodard of KHOU 11 News, Atif Fattah, a member of the Masjid and radio programmer himself, said: “They came through here, sprayed gasoline all over the carpet and just torched it. There wasn’t significant damage. It was the act itself that’s scary.”

Mustafa Carroll, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Houston) said: “It sounded very nefarious, so I called the FBI and asked them to investigate this as a hate crime. We at CAIR have seen a spike in vandalism against Muslims nationwide since the death of Osama bin Laden. You have a small minority of people promoting this kind of thinking and causing people to distrust. When there’s distrust, hate is never far behind,” said Mr. Carroll.

The Houston Fire Department said there’s no question this was a case of arson. Whether it was an actual hate crime has yet to be determined. The FBI and ATF are following the investigation, but at the time of filing of this report, they were not actively involved.

If you know anything about the case, call police or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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President Obama Announces Special Envoy to the Organization for Islamic Conference

February 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

White House Press Release of February 13, 2010

WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama appointed Rashad Hussain to serve as his Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Comprised of over 50 member states, the OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization in the world. As Special Envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hussain will deepen and expand the partnerships that the United States has pursued with Muslims around the world since President Obama’s speech in Cairo last June.

President Obama said, “I’m proud to announce today that I am appointing my Special Envoy to the OIC—Rashad Hussain. As an accomplished lawyer and a close and trusted member of my White House staff, Rashad has played a key role in developing the partnerships I called for in Cairo. And as a hafiz of the Qur’an, he is a respected member of the American Muslim community, and I thank him for carrying forward this important work.”

Rashad Hussain biography

Rashad Hussain is presently Deputy Associate Counsel to President Obama. His work at the White House focuses on national security, new media, and science and technology issues. Mr. Hussain has also worked with the National Security Staff in pursuing the New Beginning that President Obama outlined in his June 2009 address in Cairo, Egypt. Mr. Hussain previously served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. Earlier in his career, Mr. Hussain was a legislative assistant on the House Judiciary Committee, where he focused on national security-related issues. Mr. Hussain received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Upon graduation, he served as a Law Clerk to Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Mr. Hussain also earned his Master’s degrees in Public Administration (Kennedy School of Government) and Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University. He attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Majority of UN member countries call on Israel to abide by resolutions on the occupied Syrian Golan

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mazen Eyon

New York, (SANA)-The majority of the United Nations member countries called on Israel to abide by resolutions related to the occupied Syrian Golan, particularly the UN Security Council resolution 497 which considers the Israeli decision to impose its laws and procedures on Golan as null and void.

The fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly (The Special Political and Decolonization Committee) adopted Thursday a draft resolution entitled ‘the occupied Syrian Golan’ with 165 countries voting for the resolution. Only Israel voted against the draft resolution and the US abstained.

The resolution called on Israel to cancel its decision of annexing the Golan, considering the Israeli administrative and legislative procedures to change the Syrian Golan identity as null and void as well as a flagrant violation of the international law and Geneva Convention.

It also demanded Israel to stop imposing the Israeli nationality and the Israeli identity cards on the Syrians in Golan and halt the repressive measures against the Syrian citizens, condemning Israel’s violations of Geneva Convention on protecting civilians.

The Committee urged the UN member countries not to recognize any of the Israeli procedures that contradict the international law.

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