Veena Malik and the Realities of Pakistani Womanhood

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nadia B. Ahmad

Veena-Malik-File-640x480
Veena Malik

When Zahida Malik was born in Rawalpindi, her parents never imagined their daughter would bare all on the cover of an Indian magazine FHM. But the model and actress now known as Veena Malik has sent shock waves roaring through her homeland. She denies the photos and claims they were morphed and has already filed suit against the magazine stating that she was “materially misrepresented,” “deceived” and “induced to take a photo shoot.”

I had not heard of Veena Malik until last Friday, but understanding her and what she espouses is instructive for a constructive dialogue on the status of women in Pakistan. She is a phenomenon, a trend, a diva, and a role model for an increasing number of young Pakistani girls seeking to defy a male-dominated society. She is seen with contempt and scorn by diasporic Pakistanis because of her raunchy comedy and clueless persona.

Muslim clerics claiming some sort of moral authority have attempted to engage in debates with Veena Malik in the past to clean up her act and much to no avail. Meanwhile, she argues that she is an entertainer and what she does is her art. From the outset, Malik won the debates before anyone opened their mouths because she understood the media. Her tantrums, tears, and sobs were a throw-back to anyone who dared to confront her. Malik turned herself into a victim when all she wanted was a tad bit of attention, fame, and the ability to represent her people. 

Pakistan, like its neighbor India, takes its entertainers too seriously. As if one person can represent the entire country. (As if the one person who did represent the entire country did not recently resign. A throat clearing tribute to Hussain Haqqani who made way for a woman, Sherry Rahman, to replace him as the Pakistani Ambassador to the United States.)

Yet out of the Veena Malik controversy, an alarming issue is how women’s bodies are more and more becoming the platforms for geo-politics in South Asia. The display of excess skin is tasteless, yes, but by drawing attention to something that is reserved for private spaces makes the Pakistani ulema lose credibility.

The more pressing problem is that women in Pakistan have little or no opportunity to attend daily prayers in mosques. While women can roam freely in the markets and use the power of the purse, they are denied access to houses of worship all over Pakistan.  Even though women are not required to attend the Friday prayers and have no responsibilities in Islam outside of the house, the reality is women and girls would go to the mosque given the opportunity.

But by having this culture of shooing away girls from the masjid, deal with the aftermath.  Cope with reality. It bites.

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Face the Faith

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ahmad Al-Hilali, TMO Foundation

8477854Youth from all over the Detroit metro, and different religious backgrounds, came to the Face the Faith event at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills. The purpose of this event was to learn more about different cultures and faiths. There were icebreakers so that they could get to know each other’s names and religious beliefs. Than, after everybody had a feel about who was who, they went down to the basement to listen to the presentation by the Imam of the Muslim Unity Center, the representative of the Jewish faith, and the representative of the Christian faith. And after each presentation, they encouraged many people to speak up if they have a question, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.  It is better to know the answer to a question than to just assume you know, because if President Bush didn’t assume that WMD’s were in Iraq, than the Iraq war never would have happened. Asking questions is what separates the person who wants to learn, from the person who is too ignorant to. Many of the questions asked were regarding the Hijab the Muslim women wear. The answer to this was that women in the Muslim faith covered themselves to hide their beauty, therefore making them unnoticeable on the streets. There were also questions about marriage in Islam, whether it was true or not about the theory that all Arabs are Muslims, the proper Islamic wardrobe for both men and women, and many others. After the presentation, there was a dinner, and an opportunity for them to get to know more about the faiths that were at the event. After the dinner, it was prayer time for the Muslims. As they prayed, the youth of the other faiths watched. And after the prayer, the Imam of the Muslim Unity Center explained how Muslims prayed and why. After that, the event was concluded with a tour of the Muslim Unity Center. Many people thought that this was a very constructive event, and they hope that something similar to this will happen in the future.

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Debunking Iran ‘Terror Plot’

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Gareth Porter

2011-10-24T200930Z_1767819376_GM1E7AP0BPP01_RTRMADP_3_USA-SECURITY-IRANAt a press conference on October 11, the Obama administration unveiled a spectacular charge against the government of Iran: The Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, right in Washington, DC, in a place where large numbers of innocent bystanders could have been killed. High-level officials of the Qods Force were said to be involved, the only question being how far up in the Iranian government the complicity went.

The US tale of the Iranian plot was greeted with unusual skepticism on the part of Iran specialists and independent policy analysts, and even elements of the mainstream media. The critics observed that the alleged assassination scheme was not in Iran’s interest, and that it bore scant resemblance to past operations attributed to the foreign special operations branch of Iranian intelligence. The Qods Force, it was widely believed, would not send a person like Iranian-American used car dealer Manssor Arbabsiar, known to friends in Corpus Christi, Texas as forgetful and disorganized, to hire the hit squad for such a sensitive covert action.

But administration officials claimed they had hard evidence to back up the charge. They cited a 21-page deposition by a supervising FBI agent in the “amended criminal complaint” filed against Arbabsiar and an accomplice who remains at large, Gholam Shakuri. [1] It was all there, the officials insisted: several meetings between Arbabsiar and a man he thought was a member of a leading Mexican drug cartel, Los Zetas, with a reputation for cold-blooded killing; incriminating statements, all secretly recorded, by Arbabsiar and Shakuri, his alleged handler in Tehran; and finally, Arbabsiar’s confession after his arrest, which clearly implicates Qods Force agents in a plan to murder a foreign diplomat on US soil.

A close analysis of the FBI deposition reveals, however, that independent evidence for the charge that Arbabsiar was sent by the Qods Force on a mission to arrange for the assassination of Jubeir is lacking. The FBI account is full of holes and contradictions, moreover. The document gives good reason to doubt that Arbabsiar and his confederates in Iran had the intention of assassinating Jubeir, and to believe instead that the FBI hatched the plot as part of a sting operation.

The Case of the Missing Quotes

The FBI account suggests that, from the inaugural meetings between Arbabsiar and his supposed Los Zetas contact, a Drug Enforcement Agency informant, Arbabsiar was advocating a terrorist strike against the Saudi embassy. The government narrative states that, in the very first meeting on May 24, Arbabsiar asked the informant about his “knowledge, if any, with respect to explosives” and said he was interested in “among other things, attacking an embassy of Saudi Arabia.” It also notes that in the meetings prior to July 14, the DEA informant “had reported that he and Arbabsiar had discussed the possibility of attacks on a number of other targets,” including “foreign government facilities associated with Saudi Arabia and with another country,” located “within and outside the United States.”

But the allegations that the Iranian-American used car salesman wanted to “attack” the Saudi embassy and other targets rest entirely upon the testimony of the DEA informant with whom he was meeting. The informant is a drug dealer who had been indicted for a narcotics violation in a US state but had the charges dropped “in exchange for cooperation in various drug investigations,” according to the FBI account. The informant is not an independent source of information, but someone paid to help pursue FBI objectives.

The most suspicious aspect of the administration’s case, in fact, is the complete absence of any direct quote from Arbabsiar suggesting interest in, much less advocacy of, assassinating the Saudi ambassador or carrying out other attacks in a series of meetings with the DEA informant between June 23 and July 14. The deposition does not even indicate how many times the two actually met during those three weeks, suggesting that the number was substantial, and that the lack of primary evidence from those meetings is a sensitive issue. And although the FBI account specifies that the July 14 and 17 meetings were recorded “at the direction of law enforcement agents,” it is carefully ambiguous about whether or not the earlier meetings were recorded.

The lack of quotations is a crucial problem for the official case for a simple reason: If Arbabsiar had said anything even hinting in the May 24 meeting or in a subsequent meeting at the desire to mount a terrorist attack, it would have triggered the immediate involvement of the FBI’s National Security Branch and its counter-terrorism division. The FBI would then have instructed the DEA informant to record all of the meetings with Arbabsiar, as is standard practice in such cases, according to a former FBI official interviewed for this article. And that would mean that those meetings were indeed recorded. 

The fact that the FBI account does not include a single quotation from Arbabsiar in the June 23-July 14 meetings means either that Arbabsiar did not say anything that raised such alarms at the FBI or that he was saying something sufficiently different from what is now claimed that the administration chooses not to quote from it. In either case, the lack of such quotes further suggests that it was not Arbabsiar, but the DEA informant, acting as part of an FBI sting operation, who pushed the idea of assassinating Jubeir. The most likely explanation is that Arbabsiar was suggesting surveillance of targets that could be hit if Iran were to be attacked by Israel with Saudi connivance.

“The Saudi Arabia” and the $100,000

The July 14 meeting between Arbabsiar and the DEA informant is the first from which the criminal complaint offers actual quotations from the secretly recorded conversation. The FBI’s retelling supplies selected bits of conversation — mostly from the informant — aimed at portraying the meeting as revolving around the assassination plot. But when carefully studied, the account reveals a different story.

The quotations attributed to the DEA informant suggest that he was under orders to get a response from Arbabsiar that could be interpreted as assent to an assassination plot. For example, the informant tells Arbabsiar, “You just want the, the main guy.” There is no quoted response from the car dealer. Instead, the FBI narrative simply asserts that Arbabsiar “confirmed that he just wanted the ‘ambassador.’” At the end of the meeting, the informant declares, “We’re gonna start doing the guy.” But again, no response from Arbabsiar is quoted.

Two statements by the informant appear on their face to relate to a broader set of Saudi targets than Adel al-Jubeir. The informant tells Arbabsiar that he would need “at least four guys” and would “take the one point five for the Saudi Arabia.” The FBI agent who signed the deposition explains, “I understand this to mean that he would need to use four men to assassinate the Ambassador and that the cost to Arbabsiar of the assassination would be $1.5 million.” But, apart from the agent’s surmise, there is no hint that either cited phrase referred to a proposal to assassinate the ambassador. Given that there had already been discussion of multiple Saudi targets, as well as those of an unnamed third country (probably Israel), it seems more reasonable to interpret the words “the Saudi Arabia” to refer to a set of missions relating to Saudi Arabia in order to distinguish them from the other target list.

Then the informant repeats the same wording, telling Arbabsiar he would “go ahead and work on the Saudi Arabia, get all the information that we can.” This language does not show that Arbabsiar proposed the killing of Jubeir, much less approved it. And the FBI narrative states that the Iranian-American “agreed that the assassination of the Ambassador should be handled first.”  Again, that curious wording does not assert that Arbabsiar said an assassination should be carried out first, but suggests he was agreeing that the subject should be discussed first. 

The absence of any quote from Arbabsiar about an assassination plot, combined with the multiple ambiguities surrounding the statements attributed to the DEA informant, suggest that the main subject of the July 14 meeting was something broader than an assassination plot, and that it was the government’s own agent who had brought up the subject of assassinating the ambassador in the meeting, rather than Arbabsiar.

The government reconstruction of the July 14 meeting also introduces the keystone of the Obama administration’s public case: $100,000 that was to be transferred to a bank account that the DEA informant said he would make known to Arbabsiar. The FBI deposition asserts repeatedly that whenever Arbabsiar or the DEA informant mention the $100,000, they are talking about a “down payment” on the assassination. But the document contains no statement from either of them linking that $100,000 to any assassination plan. In fact, it provides details suggesting that the $100,000 could not have been linked to such a plan.

The FBI deposition states that the informant and Arbabsiar “discussed how Arbabsiar would pay [the informant],” but offers no statement from either individual even mentioning a “payment,” or any reason for transferring the money to a bank account. Furthermore, it does not actually claim that Arbabsiar made any commitment to any action against Jubeir at either the July 14 or 17 meetings. And when the informant is quoted in the July 17 meeting as saying, “I don’t know exactly what your cousin wants me to do,” it appears to be an acknowledgement that he had gotten no indication prior to July 17 that Arbabsiar’s Tehran interlocutors wanted the Saudi ambassador dead. The deposition does not even claim that Arbabsiar’s supposed handlers had approved a plan to kill Jubeir until after the Iranian-American returned to his native country on July 20.

Nevertheless, Arbabsiar is quoted telling the informant on July 14 that the full $100,000 had already been collected in cash at the home of “a certain individual.” Preparations for the transfer of the $100,000 had thus commenced well before the assassination plot allegedly got the green light.

The amount of $100,000 does not even appear credible as a “down payment” on a job that the FBI account says was to have cost a total of $1.5 million. It would represent a mere 6 percent of the full price. Bearing in mind that the DEA informant was supposed to be representing the demand of a ruthlessly profit-motivated Los Zetas drug cartel for a high-stakes political assassination well outside its purview, 6 percent of the total would represent far too little for a “down payment.”

The $100,000 wire transfer must have been related to an understanding that had been reached on something other than the assassination plan. Yet it has been cited by the administration and reported by news media as proof of the plot — and key evidence of Iran’s complicity therein. [2]

The Qods Force Connection

The FBI account of the July 17 meeting shows the DEA informant leading Arbabsiar into a statement of support for an assassination. The informant, obviously following an FBI script, says, “I don’t know what exactly your cousin wants me to do.” But the deposition notes “further conversation” following that invitation for a clear position on a proposal coming from the informant, indicating that what Arbabsiar was saying did not support the administration’s allegation that assassination plot was coming from Tehran.

After the FBI evidently sought again to get the straightforward answer it was seeking, however, Arbabsiar is quoted as saying: “He wants you to kill this guy.” The informant then presents a fanciful plan to bomb an imaginary restaurant in Washington where Arbabsiar was told the Saudi ambassador liked to dine twice a week and where many “like, American people” would be present. “You want me to do it outside or in the restaurant?” asks the informant, to which question the Iranian-American replies, “Doesn’t matter how you do it.” At another point in the conversation, Arbabsiar goes further, saying, “They want that guy done. If the hundred go with him, fuck ‘em.”

These statements appear at first blush to be conclusive evidence that Arbabsiar and his Iranian overseers were contracting for the assassination of Jubeir, regardless of lives lost. But there are two crucial questions that the FBI account leaves unanswered: Was Arbabsiar speaking on behalf of the Qods Force or some element of it? And if he was, was he talking about a plan that was to go into effect as soon as possible or was it understood that they were talking about a contingency plan that would only be carried out under specific circumstances?

The deposition includes several instances of Arbabsiar’s bragging about a cousin who is a general, out of uniform and involved in covert external operations, including in Iraq — clearly implying that he belongs to the Qods Force. Arbabsiar is said to have claimed that the cousin and another Iranian official gave him funds for his contacts with the drug cartel. “I got the money coming,” he says. Subsequently, in one of the most extensive quotations from the recorded conversations, Arbabsiar says, “This is politics, so these people they pay this government…he’s got the, got the government behind him…he’s not paying from his pocket.” The FBI narrative identifies the person referred to here as Arbabsiar’s cousin, a Qods Force officer later named as Abdul Reza Shahlai, but again, there is not a single direct quotation backing the claim. And the reference to “these people” who “pay this government” suggests that “he” is connected to a group with illicit financial ties to government officials.

This excerpt could be particularly significant in light of press reports quoting a US law enforcement official saying that Arbabsiar had offered “tons of opium” to the drug cartel and that he and the informant had discussed what the New York Times called a “side deal” on the Iranian-held narcotics. [3] If these reports are accurate, it seems possible that Arbabsiar approached Los Zetas on behalf of Iranians who control a portion of the opium being smuggled through Iran from Afghanistan, while seeking to impress the drug cartel operative with his claim to have close ties to the Qods Force through Shahlai. But if the DEA informant then pressed him to authenticate his Qods Force connection, he may have begun discussing covert operations against Iran’s enemies in North America.

The only alleged evidence that Arbabsiar was speaking for Shahlai and the Qods Force is Arbabsiar’s own confession, summarized in the criminal complaint. But, at minimum, that testimony was provided after he had been arrested and had a strong interest in telling the FBI what it wanted to hear.

The deposition makes much of a series of three phone conversations on October 4, 5 and 7 between Arbabsiar and someone who Arbabsiar tells his FBI handlers is Gholam Shakuri, presenting them as confirmation of the involvement of Qods Force officers in the assassination scheme. But the FBI apparently had no way of ascertaining whether the person to whom Arbabsiar was talking was actually Shakuri. After the October 4 call, for example, the FBI account merely records that Arbabsiar “indicated that the person he was speaking with was Shakuri.”

On their face, moreover, these conversations prove nothing. In the first of the three calls, the person at the other end of the line, whom Arbabsiar identifies to his FBI contact as Shakuri but whose identity is not otherwise established, asks, “What news…what did you do about the building?” The FBI agent again suggests, “based on my training, experience and participation in this investigation,” that these queries were a “reference to the plot to murder the Ambassador and a question about its status.”

But Arbabsiar is said to have claimed in his confession that he was instructed by Shakuri to use the code word “Chevrolet” to refer to the plot to kill the ambassador. In a second recorded conversation, Arbabsiar immediately says, “I wanted to tell you the Chevrolet is ready, it’s ready, uh, to be done. I should continue, right?” After further exchange, the man purported to be “Shakuri” says, “So buy it, buy it.” Despite the obvious invocation of a code word, it remains unclear what Arbabsiar was to “buy.” “Chevrolet” could actually have been a reference to either a drug-related deal or a generic plan having to do with Saudi and other targets.

In a third recorded conversation on October 7, both Arbabsiar and “Shakuri” refer to a demand by a purported cartel figure for another $50,000 on top of the original $100,000 transferred by wire earlier. But there is no other evidence of such a demand. It appears to be a mere device of the FBI to get “Shakuri” on record as talking about the $100,000. And here it should be recalled that the account in the deposition shows that the transfer of the $100,000 had been agreed on before any indication of agreement on a plan to kill the ambassador.

The invocation of a fictional demand for $50,000, along with the dramatic difference between the first conversation and the second and third conversations, suggests yet another possibility: The second and third conversations were set up in advance by Arbabsiar to provide a transcript to bolster the administration’s case.

Terrorist Plot or Deterrence Strategy?

Even if Qods Forces officials indeed directed Arbabsiar to contact the Los Zetas cartel, it cannot be assumed that they intended to carry out one or more terrorist attacks in the United States. The killing of a foreign ambassador in Washington (not to speak of additional attacks on Saudi and Israeli buildings), if linked to Iran, would invite swift and massive US military retaliation. If, on the other hand, the Qods Force men instructed Arbabsiar to conduct surveillance of those targets and prepare contingency plans for hitting them if Iran were attacked, the whole story begins to make more sense.

Iran lacks the conventional means to deter attack by a powerful adversary. In its decades-long standoffs with the United States and Israel, amidst recurrent talk of “preemptive” strikes by those powers, Iran has relied on threats of proxy retaliation against US and allied state targets in the Middle East. [4] The Iranian military support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, in particular, is widely recognized as prompted primarily by Iran’s need to deter US and Israeli attack. [5]

In one case in 1994-1995, Saudi Arabian Shi‘i militants carried out surveillance of potential US military and diplomatic targets in Saudi Arabia, in a way that was quickly noticed by US and Saudi intelligence. [6] Although the consensus among US intelligence analysts was that Iran was preparing for a terrorist attack, Ronald Neumann, then the State Department’s intelligence officer for Iran and Iraq, noted that Iran had done the same thing whenever US-Iranian tensions had risen. He suggested that Iran could be using the surveillance for deterrence, to let Washington know that its interests in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere would be in danger if Iran were attacked. [7]

Unfortunately for Iran’s deterrent strategy, however, Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda was also carrying out surveillance of US bases in Saudi Arabia, and in November 1995 and again in June 1996, that group bombed two facilities housing US servicemen. The bombing of Khobar Towers in June 1996, which killed 19 US soldiers and one Saudi Arabian, was blamed by the Clinton administration’s FBI and CIA leadership on Iranian-sponsored Shi‘a from Saudi Arabia, with prodding from Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, despite the fact that bin Laden claimed responsibility not once but twice, in interviews with the London-based newspaper, al-Quds al-‘Arabi. [8]

Hani al-Sayigh, one of the Saudi Arabian Shi‘a accused by the Saudi and US governments of conspiring to attack the Khobar Towers, admitted to Assistant Attorney General Eric Dubelier, who interviewed him at a Canadian detention facility in May 1997, that he had participated in the surveillance of US military targets in Saudi Arabia on behalf of Iranian intelligence. But, according to the FBI report on the interview, al-Sayigh insisted that Iran had never intended to attack any of those sites unless it was first attacked by the United States. And when Dubelier asked a question later in the interview that was based on the premise that the surveillance effort was preparation for a terrorist attack, al-Sayigh corrected him. [9]

With threats of an Israeli or US bombing attack on Iran, with Saudi complicity, mounting since the mid-2000s, a similar campaign of surveillance of Saudi and Israeli targets in North America would fit the framework of what the Pentagon has called Iran’s “asymmetric warfare doctrine.” If Arbabsiar spoke of such a campaign in his initial meeting with the DEA informant, he certainly would have piqued the interest of FBI counter-terrorism personnel. And this scenario would also explain why the series of meetings in late June and the first half of July did not produce a single statement by Arbabsiar that the administration could quote to advance its case that the Iranian-American was interested in assassinating Adel al-Jubeir or carrying out other acts of terrorism.

A plan to conduct surveillance and be ready to act on contingency plans would also explain why someone as lacking in relevant experience and skills as Arbabsiar might have been acceptable to the Qods Force. Not only would the mission not have required absolute secrecy; it would have been based on the assumption that the surveillance would become known to US intelligence relatively quickly, as did the monitoring of US targets in Saudi Arabia in 1994-1995.

The Qods Force officials were certainly well aware that the Drug Enforcement Agency had penetrated various Mexican drug cartels, in some cases even at the very top level. US court proceedings involving Mexican drug traffickers who were highly placed in the Sinaloa drug cartel between 2009 and early 2011 reveal that the US made deals with leaders of the cartel to report what they knew about rival cartel operations in return for a hands-off approach to their drug trafficking. [10] Further underlining the degree to which the cartels were honeycombed with people on the US payroll, the DEA informant in this case was not merely posing as a drug trafficker but is reportedly an actual associate of Los Zetas with access to its upper echelons, who has been given immunity from prosecution to cooperate with the DEA. [11]

When Did Arbabsiar Become Part of the Sting?

The Obama administration’s account of the alleged Iranian plot has Arbabsiar suddenly changing from terrorist conspirator to active collaborator with the FBI upon his September 29 arrest at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. He is said to have provided a confession immediately upon being apprehended, after waiving his right to a lawyer, and then to have waived that right repeatedly again while being interviewed by the FBI. Then Arbabsiar cooperated in making the series of secretly recorded phone calls to someone he identified as Shakuri.

For someone facing such serious charges to provide the details with which to make the case against him, while renouncing benefit of counsel, is odd, to say the least. The official story raises questions not only about what agreement was reached between Arbabsiar and the FBI to ensure his cooperation but about when that agreement was reached.

One clue that Arbabsiar was brought into the sting operation well before his arrest is the DEA informant’s demand in a September 20 phone conversation with Arbabsiar in Tehran that he either come up with half the $1.5 million total fee or come to Mexico to be the guarantee that the full amount would be paid.

Yet the FBI account of that conversation shows Arbabsiar telling the informant, without even consulting with his contacts in Tehran, “I’m gonna go over there [in] two [or] three days.” Later in the same evening, he calls back to ask how long he would need to remain in Mexico. Even if Arbabsiar were as feckless as some reports have suggested, he would certainly not have agreed so readily to put his fate in the hands of the murderous Los Zetas cartel — unless he knew that he was not really in danger, because the US government would intercept him and bring him to the United States. Making the episode even stranger, Arbabsiar’s confession claims that when he told Shakuri about the purported Los Zetas demand, Shakuri refused to provide any more money to the cartel, advised him against going to Mexico and warned him that if he did so, he would be on his own.

Further supporting the conclusion that Arbabsiar had become part of the sting operation before his arrest is the fact there was no reason for the FBI to pose the demand — through the DEA informant — for more money or Arbabsiar’s presence in Mexico except to provide an excuse to get him out of Iran, so he could provide a full confession implicating the Qods Force and be the centerpiece of the case against Iran.

The larger aim of the FBI sting operation, which ABC News has reported was dubbed Operation Red Coalition, was clearly to link the alleged assassination plot to Qods Force officers. The logical moment for the FBI to have recruited the Iranian-American would have been right after the FBI recorded him talking about wiring money to the bank account and casually approving the idea of bombing a restaurant and before his planned departure from Mexico for Iran. The only way to ensure that Arbabsiar would come back, of course, would be to offer him a substantial amount of money to serve as an informant for the FBI during his stay in Iran, which he would receive only upon returning. If Arbabsiar had already been enlisted, of course, it would also mean the keystone of the case — the wiring of $100,000 to a secret FBI bank account — was a part of the FBI sting.

FBI Trickery in Terrorism Cases

FBI deceit in constructing a case for an Iranian terror plot should come as no surprise, given its record of domestic terrorism prosecutions based on sting operations involving entrapment and skullduggery. Central to these stings has been the creation of fictional terrorist plots by the FBI itself. In 2006 the “Gonzales Guidelines” for the use of FBI informants removed previous prohibitions on actions to “initiate a plan or strategy to commit a federal, state or local offense.” [12]

Perhaps the most notorious of all these domestic terrorism sting operations is the case in which Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, leaders of their Albany, New York mosque, were sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for allegedly laundering profits from the sale of a shoulder-launched missile for a Pakistani militant group that was planning to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat in New York City.

In fact, there was no such terrorist plot, and the alleged crime was the result of an elaborate FBI scam directed against two innocent men. [13] It began when an FBI informant pretending to be a Pakistani businessman insinuated himself into Hossain’s life and extended him a $50,000 loan for his pizza parlor. Only months after the informant had begun loaning the money did he show Hossain a shoulder-launched missile, and suggest that he was also selling arms to his “Muslim brothers.” It was a devious form of entrapment; the prosecutors later argued that Hossain should have known the loan could have come from money made in the sale of weapons to terrorists and was therefore guilty of money laundering.

The FBI approach to entrapping Hossain’s friend Aref was even more underhanded. Aref was never even made aware of the missile or the phony story of the illegal arms sale. But on one occasion, when he was present to witness the transfer of loan money, what was later said to have been the missile’s trigger system was left on a table in the room. Prosecutors then argued the theory that Aref had seen the trigger, which looks much like a staple gun, and thus had become part of a conspiracy to “assist in money laundering.”

Many other domestic terrorism cases have involved deceptive tactics and economic inducements deployed by the FBI to involve American Muslims in fictional terrorist plots. The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University’s Law School found more than 20 terrorism cases that involved some combination of “paid informants, selection of investigation based on perceived religious identity, [and] a plot that was created by the government.” [14] This history makes it clear that the Justice Department and FBI are prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to fabricate terrorism cases against targeted individuals, and that misrepresenting these individuals’ intentions and actual behavior has long been standard practice. The trickery and deceit in past “counter-terrorism” sting operations provides further reason to question the veracity of the Obama administration’s allegations in the bizarre case of Manssor Arbabsiar.

Endnotes

[1] The full text of the “amended criminal complaint” is online at: http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=a334ea94-9f4f-4364-8…
[2] See New York Times, October 12, 2011 and Reuters, October 12, 2011.
[3] See New York Times, October 12, 2011 and Bloomberg, October 12, 2011.
[4] For an official US recognition of Iran’s “assymetric warfare doctrine” as a tool of deterrence of “any would-be invader,” see Department of Defense, Unclassified Report on Military Power of Iran, April 2010, p. 1.
[5] See, for example, Michael Young, “Another Israel-Hezbollah War?” Middle East Security at Harvard, National Security Study Program, February 28, 2008: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/mesh/2008/02/another_israel_hezbollah_war/
[6] See Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1997 and Steve Coll, Ghost Wars (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 276.
[7] Gareth Porter, “US Officials Leaked a False Story Blaming Iran,” Inter Press Service, June 24, 2009.
[8] Gareth Porter, “FBI Ignored Compelling Evidence of Bin Laden Role,” Inter Press Service, June 25, 2009.
[9] Gareth Porter, “US May Have Concealed Deterrent Aim of Iranian Plan,” Inter Press Service, October 21, 2011.
[10] New York Times, October 24, 2011.
[11] So said ProPublica reporter Sebastian Rotella in his podcast of October 18, 2011, online at: http://www.propublica.org/podcast/item/podcast-sebastian-rotella-on-the-…
[12] Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the “Homegrown Threat” in the United States (New York, 2011), p. 14.
[13] This account of the case is drawn from Petra Bartosiewicz, “To Catch a Terrorist,” Harper’s (August 2011).
[14] Targeted and Entrapped, pp. 50-52, fn 17.

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Tariq Mehanna’s Prosecution a Larger Community Issue

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Yet another “library terrorist” is being prosecuted in Boston, and as usual the typical Zionist lobbyists including the David Project aka “Citizens for Peace and Tolerance,” are suspect in a conspiracy against the Constitutional rights of this individual.

The Feds zeroed in on Tariq Mehanna, pointing to English translations of ancient Arabic Islamic texts on his website, aimed at new Muslims. The authorities said the pharmacist had conspired to attack civilians at a shopping mall, American soldiers abroad and two members of the executive branch of the federal government. The conspiracy occurred from 2001 to 2008, the acting United States attorney, Michael K. Loucks, said.

Mehanna comes from Sudbury, Massachussetts, an affluent suburb. He became acquainted with Daniel Maldonado, a Muslim convert who was arrested in Somalia, through his local mosque. According to the details from the Boston Globe, Tariq Mehanna was arrested for allegedly lying to the FBI in December 2006 regarding the whereabouts and activities of Daniel Maldonado. Mehanna is said to have spoken on the phone to Maldonado back in 2006 and then lied about doing so to the FBI which was investigating Maldonado for the “crime” of going to Somalia and receiving “terrorist training”.

Maldonado is said to have traveled to Africa where he joined up with the popular Islamic Courts Union and received military training and planned to fight with them against US backed warlords. He never even got a chance to fight as he contracted malaria. During this time his wife also contracted malaria, and by the grace of God some strangers brought his children back to Massachusetts in a tragic drama of epic proportions. Maldonado’s terrified children watched their mother die in a vehicle attempting to flee the war-torn country. Meanwhile, they await the release of their father from a CMU prison.

Mehanna was accused of many alarming things, but his only confirmed action was to travel to Yemen for religious study, and some other travel on the African continent. The FBI asked Mehanna to become an informant. When he refused, his troubles began. He accepted a job in Saudi Arabia as a pharmacist, and was arrested while trying to board the airplane. Agents from the NYPD traveled to Boston in an attempt to entrap him but Mehanna refused to partake in the “terrorist act” he was presented with. He has not been charged with any act of terrorism.

Tariq is described by those who know him well as humble, reserved, warm, compassionate, intelligent, charismatic, well-read, and dedicated. He has spent time delivering Friday sermons and directing youth study circles, speaking out against injustice and advocating for Muslim prisoners, teaching grade school students and helping those in need. Tarek is described as a man who is always giving.

“I have known him to be one of the most gracious, kind, caring, thoughtful, and respectable people I have ever known. For the two years that I knew him in Boston, I have seen him go above and beyond what most others would do to help others in need,” writes Ahmad AlFarsi in Tariq’s defense.

“Tariq was very involved in the Muslim community, masha’Allah; I remember many times that he would be giving halaqaat (Islamic lectures) in the local masjid on an Islamic text he was studying. And he helped many many other Muslims in the community come to the straight path.”

Mehanna has since been detained in pre-trial solitary confinement at Plymouth County Correction Facility in 23-hour isolation and denied bail twice. He now awaits trial, facing charges of “false statements,” “conspiracy” and “material support for terrorism” and a life sentence if wrongfully convicted. The trial has been set to begin next week. Supporters plan a protest march to the courthouse on Thursday.

Mehanna wrote in a letter to his supporters: “I cannot speak in detail about the charges and accusations against me, but suffice to say that nobody who truly knows me would for a second believe the utter lies and sensationalist garbage that has been peddled around in the media since my arrest. I am not the first person the government has played this game with, and I certainly won’t be the last. Regardless, that’s OK because, ‘Indeed, Allah defends those who believe…’ [Surat al-Hajj; v. 38]. And the Prophets themselves were targets of slander and lies by their opponents. So, who am I to be spared?”

While in prison, Mehanna has done his best to keep a positive attitude and to support fellow prisoners, while keeping his prayers. “No matter how bad things may be going for a given person, there is always someone worse off. There is always that one person you meet who gives you a reality check that reminds you that even though you are in prison going through hardship, etc., there are still things that you can take for granted.” He was referring to the unconditional support of his mother and family.

Pro-Israel lobbyists are connecting Mehanna to the Roxbury Mosque, which was not his regular prayer venue, in an attempt to connect their efforts to smear the Roxbury Mosque with this man’s plight. It would be wise for those defending Mehanna to uncover the conspiracy between extremist Jewish groups and the FBI in targeting this individual. If the David Project is not stopped, unlawful prosecutions will continue.

In a letter to supporters, Mehanna wrote about something a fellow prisoner said:

“‘When I was free, I saw your story on TV. However, it meant nothing to me, because I never thought it could happen to me. So, I did nothing for you. Now that I am in prison and it has happened to me, there are people who heard about my story and will think nothing of it, thinking it will never happen to them. Once it happens to them, others will think nothing of it and do nothing, etc…’ So, if you feel that you can just sit back and read about all these cases and do nothing to repel this injustice and that it can never happen to you, think again.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

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Dealing with Hypocrites

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

In this world, there are many people who do not speak the truth. Even more alarming, there are people who speak in half-truths, using linguistic details to mislead, while not technically lying. Just as the Disbelievers read the Quran looking for corruption within it, certain people make agreements in bad faith, seeking loopholes. Like the Quranic description of Satan, this person makes a promise, but then when you ask him about it, he claims he never promised that thing! Such people can make us want to beat our heads against the wall.

The Prophet (s) said: “Most of man’s mistakes and sins are committed by his tongue, and the worst sin is to lie!”

How can we navigate ourselves safely in a world where things are often not as they are explained? One thing we must do is give less space in our minds to the hypocrites. “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head,” as the saying goes. It is important to let go of the fantasy that we can control others. All we can do is control how we react to them, and make sure we don’t fall into their trap.

“Because hypocrisy stinks in the nostrils one is likely to rate it as a more powerful agent for destruction than it is.” wrote Rebecca West in 1928.

Promise-breakers generally have a pattern of behavior. At a certain point, nobody believes what they say. The Quran states in Surat al-Nur:

And of mankind, there are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day’’ while in fact they do not believe. They try to deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!

There are some people who are outwardly religious, but you still cannot trust them because they have developed an internal dialogue that justifies their transgressions against other people. A terrible example I can give is an outwardly devout Muslim man who married three wives without clearly explaining his marital status to his brides. When I asked him why he did not inform his third wife of his other two wives, his reply was, “She did not ask!”

In light of this admission I feel obliged to advise those seeking to enter into a marriage with anyone to do three things:

1.    Ask questions! Never trust someone blindly or withhold questions in fear of offending.

2.    Talk to people who know this person and ask very specific questions about their past.

3.    Ask for the person’s credit report

In this day and age where we arrange marriages with near strangers from other parts of the world, it important to check out anyone we plan to marry. A credit report will tell you a lot about a person, in particular: does this person honor his or her agreements? If a bank would not loan money to this person, it would be wise for you not to invest too much trust in this person.

On the authority of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, the Prophet (s) said: “There are four traits which, whoever possesses them is a hypocrite and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: the one who when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, when he disputes he transgresses and when he makes an agreement he violates it.”

Nobody is perfect. Some innocent people break promises just because they have personal weaknesses, not because they were intending to deceive. A friend of mine who was going to Germany asked me what I wanted as a gift so I asked her to bring me some marzipan. She faithfully bought the marzipan, but during the journey could not control her sweet tooth and ate it all! I was disappointed of course but I did not hate her for this because she did the honorable thing: She admitted she had made the promise, admitted she broke the promise, and felt genuinely sorry.

There is a huge difference between this and those who purposely trick people, who backbite, cheat, or bluff their way through life, and when you confront them they become hostile to avoid further discussion. One woman found out shortly after marriage that her fiance had lied about his ethnic background, his financial status, and even his source of livelihood! When she asked him why, he said, “If I had told you the truth, you would not have married me.”

A true liar lies in order to seek personal gain. It is not just a reflexive action like that of a teenager whose father asked her, “Have you been smoking?” Real hypocrites actually enjoy torturing truthful people with confusion, considering themselves above others.

Imam Ali stated about the hypocrites: “They are jealous of other people’s prosperity, interested in other people’s misery and are a source of hopelessness and stress.”

I have learned as I have grown older to trust others less and myself more. I have learned that my body never lies. If a certain person causes me to have headaches and stomachaches, or causes my heart rate to increase, that person is probably unhealthy for me as company. I should even refrain from arguing with such a person because they only respond with lies to my attempts to appeal to their higher self.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer. karinfriedemann.blogspot.com

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Sexual Health Education Still Inadequate

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

TMO Editor’s Note:  The following is a very frank account of a woman’s experiences before her conversion to Islam.

By Karin Friedemann

sex_ed1There is a time in every girl’s life that she looks to her mother for guidance. That time may pass, so it’s important to capitalize upon this moment. When I was eleven, I asked my mother if I should save my virginity for marriage. She answered me with the standard answer of modern America, “I don’t care what you do, just don’t get pregnant.” This was very unfortunate because I had been reading religious literature aimed at teens advising them not to have sex. I was willing to consider it. I was eleven, and my mother threw me to the wolves.

By the time I was 15 I got my first STD, chlamydia. When I was 19, I contracted HPV and herpes that took me years to overcome. Although youths in school are warned about deadly diseases like AIDS, nobody actually mentions how many bacteria, yeasts and fungi, or viruses are spread around through sexual intercourse every time. That point needs to be stressed: every time you have sex, you expose yourself to someone else’s bacteria, fungi and viruses, which are always there even if not to the point of causing immediate disease symptoms.

I think the reason I didn’t use condoms as often as I should have was because of my deep down conservative values. Even at 15, I truly wanted a child. I wanted someone to love me and take care of me so that I could have a child. In some countries I could have been married but that was not my fate.

All I can say now in my comfortable middle age is that it doesn’t matter if you are 20 or 40. Even a brief stray into the realm of casual dating could cause you to become infected with a disease. That disease could take you months or years to overcome through lifestyle changes and diet and prayer.

Do not underestimate the value of your chastity. Marriage is a hard road, but there is no comfort and security in casual dating. Marriage might cost you thousands in a divorce, but that is better than ten years of searing pain in your genitals. What people don’t understand is that disease is almost guaranteed when you have sex with a non-chaste person. 35% of Americans have some form of herpes. 80% have been exposed to HPV, which can lead to cancer. Even condoms can cause yeast infections. Vaginal strep infections are as common as step throat, but the bacteria can spread into the uterus and beyond.

So what do we do if we have already messed up and now we are facing the consequences? We invited poisoned people into our lives and we invited these diseases to take root inside our bodies. We have to take responsibility for that, and then we need to ask the Lord for forgiveness so that we can forgive ourselves, because disease flourishes in an environment of unresolved conflict.

We were given these challenges to DARE us to jump-start our lives and immune systems. I think when we become depressed or we hold anger inside we can get sick because people who should have been there for us were not. Even way before we noticed it like when a crisis came up. But nobody stopped us from loving ourselves but our own damaged belief systems especially the outdated belief that we need someone else to take care of us other than Allah.

For a newborn child, being loved is the same as life. If a newborn child were abandoned, he or she would die. It is totally natural for our bodies to associate lack of loving affection with impending death. As adults we have to stop waiting for affection if it is not forthcoming. That state of waiting will kill us. We are not helpless. It is just our baby self that is helpless. Even though we may have been abandoned, we would never abandon our child. And yet, we may still need help to care for our inner child. Imagine if you found a starved, abandoned baby. You would call someone.

As parents, in addition to giving compassionate advice, the best thing we can do to protect our children from viruses, bacteria and fungi however contracted is to make sure our family eats well. It can be hard to convince a teenager to eat anything at all, given society’s emphasis on calorie counting. However, the best we can do is to help our children associate food with good feelings and warm memories of togetherness. Eating disorders resulting in life long nutritional deficits that lower the immune system can be traced back to unhealthy emotions at the family dinner table, or the lack of any family dinner. Ultimately, a person’s ability to fight disease rests on his past history of healthy eating habits and a deep reservoir of love to draw upon in times of need.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

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529 Plans

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq. 

The-Benefits-of-a-529-Savings-Account-Daniel-Stoica-Accounting-ProfessionalA major focus of many estate plans is reducing federal estate tax liability.  Currently, the federal estate tax imposes a 35% tax on any estate exceeding $5 million, or $10 million for married couples.  For example, if you are a single person and your estate is worth $6 million, $1 million of your estate is taxed at 35%.  Instead of your chosen beneficiaries enjoying the fruits of your labor, the government will enjoy $350,000 of your hard earned money.  This exemption amount may not be a problem now; however, many speculate that the limit will be reduced in the next few years from $5 million down to $1 million, causing many savvy individuals to plan ahead. 

How do you reduce the amount of your estate?

Fortunately, many tools exist for reducing the size of your estate.  One such tool is a 529 plan.  A 529 plan is a college savings plan that not only reduces the amount of your estate that will be subject to the federal estate tax but also provides a means of financing your children’s (or grandchildren’s) education. 

How do 529 plans work?

A 529 plan is an investment option whereby the funds that you place into the plan grow tax free and are managed by brokers and other investment professionals.  More importantly for estate tax purposes, a 529 plan can be frontloaded, i.e. five years’ worth of tax free gifts ($13,000 x 5 = $65,000) can be immediately placed into the plan without tax consequences.  However, if you frontload your plan, you may not put in anymore money (that will be tax deferred) for five years.  But because you are able to put $65,000 into the plan right away, waiting five years is rarely a problematic issue.  

529 plans are created for a limited purpose (i.e. college savings) and, as such, the plan’s funds may be used only for limited purposes (without being subject to tax consequences):  qualified educational expenses, such as tuition and room and board.  If you create a 529 plan for your child and they decide that college is not in their future, you may change the beneficiary (the person who is to benefit from creation of the plan) or you can withdrawal the money but you’ll have to pay taxes on the amount withdrawn.   The person who puts money into the plan controls the plan and may choose which state in which to create the plan—you do not have to live in the state where the plan is created. 

How is the amount of the plan removed from your estate?

The amount of the plan is removed from your estate when you place the 529 plan into a trust.  After placing the plan into the trust, for estate tax purposes, the amount of the plan is considered outside of your estate; even though the creator of the plan controls beneficiary designation and has the power to withdraw the funds.  Therefore, you’ll want to contribute as much as you can to these plans.  The higher the plan, the lower your estate tax liability and the more financially secure the future of your beneficiaries.  Plus, in this day in age, if you are going to succeed in this world, education is almost always necessary.  Create a 529 plan today for the well-being of your children tomorrow. 

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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Post-Traumatic Stress: The Disability of Our Time

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological problem that can affect people from any part of the globe, and from every social class. We can all sympathize with someone who lost his mind after his family got swept away by a tsunami. We have all heard stories of war veterans who were no longer the same after they came back home. Yet PTSD can also be triggered by seemingly minor events, such as being punished as a child for a misdeed one didn’t commit. It is increasingly documented that women involved with men on the autism spectrum are extremely likely to suffer from PTSD due to the constant emotional trauma of caring for a person disabled by a neurological disorder, which prevents him from responding appropriately to the needs of others.

PTSD was not labeled as a psychiatric disorder until 1980, but people have suffered from PTSD throughout the history of mankind. During the American Civil War it was called “Soldier’s Heart.” It is possible that the prevalence of PTSD has increased in recent years due to the ability to access graphic news on TV and the internet. Humans are now able to see traumatic events all over the world and some people have trouble coping with the images. On the other hand, the general public’s increasing emotional numbness to exposure to painful world events or even violent video games is also worrying and perhaps even more dangerous from a clinical standpoint.

People respond to emotional stress very differently. Some people can witness a barbaric event and yet bounce back and go on to lead healthy productive lives, but some people find they cannot recover their emotional balance after a negative experience. Some negative experiences are so shocking that they shake a person to their core. Yet some negative experiences are ongoing everyday experiences that undermine a person’s self-worth, and can also result in long lasting psychological damage.

People are best able to cope with negative life experiences when they have a deep emotional reservoir of positive life experiences and trust-based relationships. A person with a solid foundation of self-esteem and love can eventually heal from something as terrible as witnessing a murder while someone with a poor sense of self could fall apart just because his home went into foreclosure. Some people are simply more sensitive than others. It’s often hard to predict how one will react to traumatic stress until it happens. Having a history of trauma may increase one’s risk of getting PTSD after a recent traumatic event. There is a huge connection between childhood neglect or mistreatment and a person’s inability to process negative emotions.

While traumatic stress is happening, a person tends to block out the pain or reinterpret events in order to deal with the present situation. However, in the weeks, months, and years after the emotional trauma has passed, the person remains unable to cope effectively because of the memory of the pain. PTSD is characterized by periodic disconnect from present reality, where one’s mind relives a past event over and over, fully experiencing the emotions of that event as if it were happening now. One clue that one is not processing one’s stress effectively is when one feels exhausted during the day and falls asleep on time, yet wakes in the night burdened by repetitive thoughts and cannot go back to sleep for hours. Some people are even afraid to go to sleep due to nightmares or images in their minds.

Other symptoms of PTSD include disinterest in normal everyday activities, avoiding things that remind one of that event, emotional numbness, startling easily, hyper-vigilance, paranoia, erratic heartbeat, fainting, inordinately angry outbursts, intense shame and guilt, and a constant sense of danger. Traumatized children may develop irrational phobias, lose their toilet training, and often relive their trauma in play. Palestinian children whose homes have been destroyed by the Israelis have often been documented building play houses, or wetting themselves when they hear loud noises.

According to US statistics, about 7 percent to 8 percent of the general population will develop PTSD. These numbers go up significantly for veterans and rape victims, among whom PTSD has anywhere from a 10 percent to 30 percent chance of developing. Women war veterans experience PTSD far more severely than their male counterparts.

PTSD is clinically treated with calming medication and/or psychological counseling. Many people experiencing PTSD self-medicate with alcohol while the lucky ones find solace in supportive relationships.

The process of healing from PTSD requires going through a full grieving and healing process so that one can learn and grow from the negative life experience instead of letting it hold one back from truly living. Healing also involves learning how to set internal boundaries against past and present abusers in one’s life as well as learning to steer one’s mind away from bad thoughts. It may help to keep a journal of one’s feelings or to make a schedule where one records the time lost daily ruminating about painful past events or conversations.

It is important to understand that PTSD is not a sign of weakness or cowardice but actually points to a strongly developed conscience and higher than average emotional intelligence. The only way to overcome PTSD is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past while learning how to minimize stress and anxiety in your current life.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

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Should it Take a Village?

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

photo

You’ve probably heard the old African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child”. However, it is doubtful that the person who first coined the phrase meant for anyone to take it literally.  It is true that raising a child, especially one who is considerate of others and mindful of being a contributing member of society, is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Yet still, in most parts of the world, a child’s parents are the primary caregivers and the ones responsible for raising the life that both brought into the world.

Conversely, there are several parts of the world where parents enlist a veritable army to assist in the raising of their children. In many parts of the Middle East for example, having a team of caregivers right in the comfort of your own home is a staple of the Arab culture. Chefs, chauffeurs, housemaids and nannies are the primary job titles that many families seek to fill even before junior is born. The annual surplus oil revenues that Middle Eastern countries like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman enjoy has paved the way for a life of ease for nationals. Why change dirty diapers or fool around with play time when you can hire someone to do it for you?

As a result, many children in the region are raised almost exclusively by their caregivers with ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ taking a backseat to the care of their child. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the gilded streets of the wealthy Gulf nations. Parents can be seen strolling hand in hand along sun-kissed beaches while a trio of nannies keep junior out of trouble or merely cart him around. Playgrounds are often full of rambunctious kids busily playing their hearts out. However, something is clearly wrong with the picture as nannies keep an eye on their wards instead of the parents. For many children in the region, there is not a parent around to watch their amazing feat on the jungle gym or one to snap a photo as he glides down a slide.

Perhaps the most distressing aspect of a reliance on caregivers is that most are unqualified for the job. Most of the household staff enlisted to help raise the children of a family come from Southeast Asia. They are typically poor, uneducated and semi-skilled laborers that do not possess the skills, and often temperament, to raise children. There have been countless cases of housemaids and nannies turning on their charges, sometimes fatally, in recent years. Some cases revealed an abundance of housemaids and nannies physically abusing the children that they were supposed to protect. Worse yet, some have even gone as far as to poison or otherwise murder the children they were hired to raise.

A professor at Qatar University recently shed light on the issue in a recent discussion that attributed a host of societal ills that are linked to children being raised by household staff. Professor Rabia Sabah Al Kuwari said, “This phenomenon is prevalent in the Arab societies. In other countries such as Holland, for instance, there are no household helpers.” Al Kuwari also went on to say that some of the problems associated with relying on paid staff to raise a child include a lack of affection between a parent and child as well as learning deficiencies that will most likely affect the child for his lifetime.

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Making Sense Out of Christian Evangelism

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

There are many Christian missionaries that are trying win souls to Christianity. One of them is Rev. Hicham Chehab, head of the Chicagoland Lutheran Muslim Mission Association (CLMMA). He is based in Chicago and is heading a campaign to convert Muslims in to Christianity. I have not been able to easily uncover any Zionist connections, which are obvious in the case of several other “former Muslim” spokespersons for pro-Israel organizations. In his facebook bio, Chehab does not state the Lebanese militia to which he belonged (or for which he was trained). It is critical information, and its absence could make all his claims dubious. It is certainly profitable to claim to be a former Islamic extremist now taking shelter in Christianity. However, nothing that I can find in the immediately accessible data can prove that his conversion was not sincere. His problems with Islam seem to be a result of upbringing and are very similar to other complaints among Muslims in Muslim cultures throughout the world.

Chehab attended the Islamic and Arab/Lebanese Nationalist Makased school system. His main issue with their approach to religion was this:

“After a few weeks in my Muslim school the teacher started giving us books that today we call political Islam. They said, the world is divided into two parts, the world of Islam and the world of Infidels.”

To be honest, it’s kind of hard to argue with this because there is at least one hadith saying as much. The issue of concern is interpretation and context. In my experience with Arab immigrant Muslims, their cultural interpretation of such verses tends to be vastly different than the way a college educated American Muslim would interpret it. It is possible, within the context of his political and educational status, that this type of teaching could have been perceived negatively by a sensitive person seeking higher truths. He may not have realized that there are other ways to interpret Islam.

When we hear about a Jew, who is tired of the “us versus them” mentality of the synagogue, accepts Islam, we rejoice. And yet, when a Muslim, who is tired of the “us versus them” mentality of the mosque, accepts Christianity, we grieve. I am not sure that we are in a position to judge in these matters, in many cases. If the person’s personal healing path leads them in a certain way, and inspires them to be a better person, only God truly knows if that is the path most suited to accessing God, given that person’s personal peculiarities. Chehab was clearly an emotionally conflicted individual, who made a choice to reject what his parents taught him and embraced a new spiritual path as a conscious choice. Maybe the version of Islam that his parents taught him was worthy of rejection. We can’t know. What we can’t deny is that Muslim activists study Bible verses to help them approach Christians with the intention of converting them to Islam.

I think every Christian has the right to preach the Gospel to anyone that is willing to listen just as every Jew has the right to preach the Ten Commandments and every Muslim has the right to teach about Islam. We argue with the best of arguments, and he who makes the most sense will gain the largest following.

The issue with this Muslim-Turned-Christian-Minister is that he was given a job to train immigration officials and also taught an anti-terrorism course to the Army Reserve. His connection with the government creates questions as to his actual motives. I think, as a majority Christian nation, it probably does help the US understanding when a former Muslim can explain Muslims to Christians using Christian language. But if you truly want to understand Islam, you also have to talk to someone who believes in it. That is where the CAIR complaint comes in. Maybe it’s not so much an issue of getting rid of the evangelist but of including more voices in the debate.

Islam is a beautiful religion. Christianity is also a beautiful religion, and they are intertwined. The interesting thing is, when you go to Palestine and observe the oldest Christian community in the world, you don’t see these boundaries between Islam and Christianity. Muslims and Christians intermarry, they give each other gifts on their respective holidays. When the Christians parade down the street in honor of the Virgin Mary, their Muslim neighbors join in. The Christians are as happy on Eid as anybody else. There is no conflict. Christianity is a very broad belief spectrum, in fact there are sects of Christianity that believe like Muslims do, that Christ did not die upon the cross.

It is so important for Muslims to love Jesus as all prophets, and especially the five holiest prophets, Prophet Muhammad (s) who is the best of them, and Jesus (as), Moses (as), Ibrahim (as), and Nuh (as).

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Preparing for Ramadan: Renewing Our Intentions

July 14, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Muslema Purmul

ramadan_family

Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that: “I heard The Prophet, peace be upon him, saying, “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended…” (Bukhari; Muslim)

In a hadith Qudsi, the Prophet, peace be upon him, tells us that Allah (SWT) said,

“And My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him.

And My servant continues to draw near to me with nawaafil (extra good) deeds until I Love him.

When I Love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks.

Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.” (Bukhari)

Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “Those who are the closest to Allah are the ones who have their Mubaah (allowed acts like sleep) turned into acts of worship and into a means of approach to Allah, on account of their good intention (Niyyah). They no longer have a Mubaah that is equal on both sides (where doing or abandoning it are the same). All their deeds are leaning to one side, (that is, they always gain a reward).”

Practical Steps

The first thing we need to do in preparing for the month of Ramadan is renewing our intentions, yes all the way from now! One of my teachers in Egypt had mentioned to me that the companions in order to increase the amount of reward they would get for a single good deed, would compete in seeing who can come up with the most amount of good intentions for that deed. Our practical tip for the day in renewing our intentions is two-fold:

1-    The first part is to make a list of all that you want to accomplish in Ramadan. This includes doing acts that are obligatory, recommended, and allowed as well as staying away from discouraged and prohibited acts.

This list should cover every aspect of your life: your spiritual relationship with Allah, your knowledge, your activism and volunteering in teamwork in the community, your relationships (family, bonds of brotherhood, sisterhood, your neighbors, etc.), your speech and character, your career, your finances, everything. And think about making each goal something you seek sincerely for Allah (SWT)’s pleasure. Make your goals challenging but within reach. If they are too easy you will take them for granted and if they are too difficult then they may discourage you. It has to be doable for you.

After you make your list, spend a few minutes making dua that Allah (SWT) grants you success in achieving each and every intended act, and in achieving sincerity in them all. Give yourself at least 15-20 minutes for this tip! Also keep in mind, some of the goals you have will be covered in our Count-Down, and some won’t be. Try to practice in a gradual way the goals you have set for yourself all throughout the Count-Down days, and as such you will have habituated your soul on the good action even before entering Ramadan insha Allah!

Just by renewing your intentions constantly, you will also find yourself speaking to Him more and making more dua

2- The second part is something you can practice today and continue practicing during the count-down. That is try to renew your intention for everything you have to do today as many times as possible.

When you eat, seek Allah’s pleasure by intending to gain energy through the food in order to serve Him better. When you sit down at the internet, seek to gain or deliver beneficial knowledge that would draw you and others closer to Him (SWT). When you send an email, seek to increase your bonds of ukhuwwah (brotherhood) and better the relationship with the other person for the sake of Allah (SWT). When you pray, seek to have the most concentration in order to increase the reward of that prayer, etc. etc. etc.

You will find, insha Allah—the more you renew your intentions, the better each act becomes, and the more blessings you find in them. Even chores will have a sweetness to complete when the remembrance of Allah (SWT) is present in the heart. You will find that just by renewing your intentions constantly, you will also find yourself speaking to Him more and making more dua. Remember and rejoice in Allah’s Generosity! There is reward and Allah’s pleasure just in having good intentions, even if we were not able to accomplish the specific actions we wanted!

In a hadith Qudsi, the Prophet, peace be upon him, mentioned,

“He who has intended a good deed and has not done it, Allah (SWT) writes it down with Himself as a full good deed; but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah (SWT) writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds to seven hundred times, or many times over.

But if he has intended a bad deed and has not done it, Allah (SWT) writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah (SWT) writes it down as one bad deed. (Bukhari and Muslim)

May Allah (SWT) bless both the quantity and quality of our intentions, and grant us success in them in this life and in the hereafter.

Ameen

From the site:  http://theramadancountdown.wordpress.com

13-29

CIOM Meeting with Gregg Krupa

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Speech by Gregg Krupa, Introduction by TMO Stringer

About 60 selected people were invited to a CIOM meeting this past weekend at the Westin Hotel, Southfield Michigan.  Fatima Salman presented CIOM’s recent activities.  Kassem Allie detailed CIOM’s and Islamic Center of America’s opposition to the recent unpatriotic activities of Terry Jones. Nauman Syed and Muzzamil Ahmed spoke of the importance of youth involvement and political education, Ghalib Begg gave an overview of CIOM’s activities.  Robert Bruttell spoke on community involvement, and about the importance of visibility, participation, organizationm, and social engagement.  Mr. Gregg Krupa, Detroit News Reporter and Michigan interfaith activist, was the main speaker; his speech follows this paragraph.

Gregg Krupa Speech:

To say we need each other now, more than ever, we people of faith, who know that our God requires us to accept all creation as sacred, including every being, regardless of differences or even trespasses, may simply be a matter of too much self-involvement.

Perhaps it is merely the task of every generation to welcome the other, and to follow the truth of each faith, regardless of where it leads, despite those who insist that only their way, their version of events, their human explanation of god, is correct. But, nonetheless, as these issues roil in our time, the difficulties are plain to see.

A good person is a bad person’s teacher. A bad person is a good person’s job.

This is true, today, whether one stands in Southfield, in Bahrain, in Pakistan, in Jerusalem, in Somalia, indeed, anywhere on the globe.

Those who work to increase understanding, to build community, to nurture cooperation, to make the peace, are called, in every epoch. But, clearly, we feel the need now.
It is what brings us, here, today. And it is the reason that the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan IS INTEGRAL to the development of the greater community in the state of Michigan.
Oh, mankind! I have created you of a male and female, and then rendered you nations and tribes so that you might know one another. Indeed, the most honorable among you is the one in the sight of Allah who is the most pious. Allah is Knower. Aware.

Will you do the work?

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan makes it easier. An active advocate, a trusted adviser, a vehicle for making straight the crooked path, the council’s work is of intrinsic value to those who seek understanding, inclusion, peace.

Gandhi said you really can not have a community without a journal of some kind, and in an era of disestablishment in the mass media, it is becoming harder to achieve.

I speak of intimate knowledge when I assure you that the Council positively impacts the media image of Muslims and of Islam in Metro Detroit. I have experienced it.

And that role is more important, day by day, as newspapers contract, as media become more diffuse and as the issues that divide us grow ever more exaggerated.

This spring, men and women of the books gathered at the Islamic Center of America to say no to evil. The assemblage said more about our faiths than that devil ever can. The council helped organize that awesome expression of one God.

A few weeks later, one of our local newspapers ran a letter to the editor in praise of Mr. Jones, that blasphemer, that bigot, that self-professed minister.

Would such a letter praising a sinner who advocated the burning of the Torah or the Bible ever have appeared in a journal of this community?

If it had, organizations representing Judaism and Christianity would have descended like a summer storm.

In crises, when a single message explaining the facts is essential to understanding, organizations like the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan perform an essential role. In every day life, when misunderstandings as common as the birds of the air threaten the community we seek to create for ourselves, our children and their descendants in our troubled state, organizations of truth and justice must step forth.

IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN IT IS OUR GOD’S WORK.

The council has done this and more. Its work must continue.

The attention of media waxes and wanes. Have you noticed? Sometimes the focus on a particular topic is so intense as to raise concerns about judgment. Sometime is so weak as to confirm the same concerns.

Sometimes, unless a person of integrity and curiosity about the other steps forward, a media outlet can not overcome institutional prejudices that have haunted it for decades.

That is why organizations like the Council are essential.

I know from 33 years of experience that no media outlet can be trusted to do the right thing without advocates representing diverse groups encouraging it, advocating it and sometimes demanding it. Sometimes it is a matter of a press release from a familiar organization bearing an announcement. Sometime it is an explanation.

Occasionally, it is a succinct suggestion that all children of God be respected.

As a reporter, if you were to seek to ask questions about Israel, or sometime even Judaism, of a Jew in Metro Detroit, one is often told, “You need to talk to the Jewish Community Relations Council.” Sometimes, someone will saiy “If you talk to the Jewish Community Relations Council, first, then I will talk to you.”

Helen Thomas calls it control. Robert Cohen calls it advocacy. I call it a firm intention to explain with one voice, and to marshal the power of a community when the voice is misrepresented or unheard.
When Irish and Italians Catholics moved to the United States and sought acceptance, freedom and justice, their advocates included the Knights of Columbus. My fractious Polish ancestors organized the Polish National Alliance and similar groups.

Who advocates for you? Who explains your truth? Who works toward your justice? Who creates your peace? Who tells your story?

Do you intend to proceed alone in this well-intentioned nation with its long record of falling short of its best intentions and its tendency to let the bad men act and speak for all?

I would advise against it.

It often takes a group to make a point. In fact, let us be honest, unfortunately, in our nation, it occasionally takes a riot.

But, as people of God, I would advise that we stick to the group.

When Victor Ghalib Begg calls The Detroit News and says, “I need to speak to Jon Wolman, the publisher and editor,” or, even asks, as I hope he does with great frequency and determination, “May I speak to Nolan Finley, or to the person who was in charge of the letters to the editor yesterday,” or “I would like to discuss with someone what Frank Beckman wrote today,” he is known, as is the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, as someone, and as a group of importance to metropolitan area and to the state, at large.

This organization is a balancer of opinion, an explainer of truth, a maker of peace an instrument of justice and a representative of my God, second-generation Polish American Catholic though I may be.
But these, the best of intentions, the most vigorous of efforts, must not be allowed to wither on the vine. They must be nurtured. We must give them sustenance.

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan must, in due time, make the transition from the best of intentions and an honest effort to an institution.

It, or something very much like it must take the place along side all of the easily recognized, traditional institutions of religious representation, explanation and advocacy of Christianity, or Judaism and of other faiths which inform our American culture and which correct our ways.

Without an organization like this in Metro Detroit and the State of Michigan, the explanation of our common humanity will be far less thorough, far less informed, far more wanting, far more open to the suggestion of bad people, far less inclusive of the divine instruction to all of us, that we become known to one another.

A salaam aleikum.

13-25

Hearing Aids

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufailA hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and noisy situations. However, only about one out of five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.

A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.

Hearing aids are primarily useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells. This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can occur as a result of disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medicines.

A hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations entering the ear. Surviving hair cells detect the larger vibrations and convert them into neural signals that are passed along to the brain. The greater the damage to a person’s hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss, and the greater the hearing aid amplification needed to make up the difference. However, there are practical limits to the amount of amplification a hearing aid can provide. In addition, if the inner ear is too damaged, even large vibrations will not be converted into neural signals. In this situation, a hearing aid would be ineffective.

If you think you might have hearing loss and could benefit from a hearing aid, visit your physician, who may refer you to an otolaryngologist or audiologist. An otolaryngologist is a physician who specializes in ear, nose, and throat disorders and will investigate the cause of the hearing loss. An audiologist is a hearing health professional who identifies and measures hearing loss and will perform a hearing test to assess the type and degree of loss.

The hearing aid that will work best for you depends on the kind and severity of your hearing loss. If you have a hearing loss in both of your ears, two hearing aids are generally recommended because two aids provide a more natural signal to the brain. Hearing in both ears also will help you understand speech and locate where the sound is coming from.

You and your audiologist should select a hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Price is also a key consideration because hearing aids range from hundreds to several thousand dollars. Similar to other equipment purchases, style and features affect cost. However, don’t use price alone to determine the best hearing aid for you. Just because one hearing aid is more expensive than another does not necessarily mean that it will better suit your needs.

A hearing aid will not restore your normal hearing. With practice, however, a hearing aid will increase your awareness of sounds and their sources. You will want to wear your hearing aid regularly, so select one that is convenient and easy for you to use. Other features to consider include parts or services covered by the warranty, estimated schedule and costs for maintenance and repair, options and upgrade opportunities, and the hearing aid company’s reputation for quality and customer service.

Hearing aids take time and patience to use successfully. Wearing your aids regularly will help you adjust to them.

Become familiar with your hearing aid’s features. With your audiologist present, practice putting in and taking out the aid, cleaning it, identifying right and left aids, and replacing the batteries. Ask how to test it in listening environments where you have problems with hearing. Learn to adjust the aid’s volume and to program it for sounds that are too loud or too soft. Work with your audiologist until you are comfortable and satisfied.

Although they work differently than the hearing aids described above, implantable hearing aids are designed to help increase the transmission of sound vibrations entering the inner ear. A middle ear implant (MEI) is a small device attached to one of the bones of the middle ear. Rather than amplifying the sound traveling to the eardrum, an MEI moves these bones directly. Both techniques have the net result of strengthening sound vibrations entering the inner ear so that they can be detected by individuals with sensorineural hearing loss.

A bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is a small device that attaches to the bone behind the ear. The device transmits sound vibrations directly to the inner ear through the skull, bypassing the middle ear. BAHAs are generally used by individuals with middle ear problems or deafness in one ear. Because surgery is required to implant either of these devices, many hearing specialists feel that the benefits may not outweigh the risks.

Hearing aids are generally not covered by health insurance companies, although some do. For eligible children and young adults ages 21 and under, Medicaid will pay for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, including hearing aids, under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) service. Also, children may be covered by their state’s early intervention program or State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Medicare does not cover hearing aids for adults; however, diagnostic evaluations are covered if they are ordered by a physician for the purpose of assisting the physician in developing a treatment plan. Since Medicare has declared the BAHA a prosthetic device and not a hearing aid, Medicare will cover the BAHA if other coverage policies are met.

Some nonprofit organizations provide financial assistance for hearing aids, while others may help provide used or refurbished aids. Contact the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders’ (NIDCD’s) Information Clearinghouse with questions about organizations that offer financial assistance for hearing aids.

Researchers are looking at ways to apply new signal processing strategies to the design of hearing aids. Signal processing is the method used to modify normal sound waves into amplified sound that is the best possible match to the remaining hearing for a hearing aid user. NIDCD-funded researchers also are studying how hearing aids can enhance speech signals to improve understanding.

In addition, researchers are investigating the use of computer-aided technology to design and manufacture better hearing aids. Researchers also are seeking ways to improve sound transmission and to reduce noise interference, feedback, and the occlusion effect. Additional studies focus on the best ways to select and fit hearing aids in children and other groups whose hearing ability is hard to test.

Another promising research focus is to use lessons learned from animal models to design better microphones for hearing aids. NIDCD-supported scientists are studying the tiny fly Ormia ochraceabecause its ear structure allows the fly to determine the source of a sound easily. Scientists are using the fly’s ear structure as a model for designing miniature directional microphones for hearing aids. These microphones amplify the sound coming from a particular direction (usually the direction a person is facing), but not the sounds that arrive from other directions. Directional microphones hold great promise for making it easier for people to hear a single conversation, even when surrounded by other noises and voices.

Hearing aid electronics control how sound is transferred from the environment to your inner ear. All hearing aids amplify sounds, making them louder so that you can hear them better. Most hearing aid manufacturers now only produce digital hearing aids — analog hearing aids are being phased out.

With digital technology, a computer chip converts the incoming sound into digital code, then analyzes and adjusts the sound based on your hearing loss, listening needs and the level of the sounds around you. The signals are then converted back into sound waves and delivered to your ears. The result is sound that’s more finely tuned to your hearing loss. Digital hearing aids are available in all styles and price ranges.

13-25

Dehydration

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufail-science

Dehydration occurs because there is too much water lost, not enough water taken in, or most often a combination of the two.

•    Diarrhea: Diarrhea is the most common reason for a person to loose excess amounts of water. A significant amount of water can be lost with each bowel movement. Worldwide, more than four million children die each year because of dehydration from diarrhea.

•    Vomiting: Vomiting can also be a cause of fluid loss and it is difficult for a person to replace water by drinking it if they are unable to tolerate liquids.

•    Sweat: The body can lose significant amounts of water when it tries to cool itself by sweating. Whether the body is hot because of the environment (for example, working in a warm environment), intense exercising in a hot environment, or because a fever is present due to an infection; the body uses a significant amount of water in the form of sweat to cool itself. Depending upon weather conditions, a brisk walk may generate up to 16 ounces of sweat (a pound) to allow body cooling, and that water needs to be replaced.

•    Diabetes: In people with diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels cause sugar to spill into the urine and water then follows, which may cause significant dehydration. For this reason, frequent urination and excessive thirst are among the early symptoms of diabetes.

•    Burns: Burn victims become dehydrated because the damaged skin cannot prevent fluid from seeping out of the body. Other inflammatory diseases of the skin are also associated with fluid loss.

•    Inability to drink fluids: The inability to drink adequately is the other potential cause of dehydration. Whether it is the lack of availability of water or the lack of strength to drink adequate amounts, this, coupled with routine or extraordinary water losses can compound the degree of dehydration

Water is a critical element of the body, and adequate hydration is a must to allow the body to function. Up to 75% of the body’s weight is made up of water. Most of the water is found within the cells of the body (intracellular space). The rest is found in what is referred to as the extracellular space, which consists of the blood vessels (intravascular space) and the spaces between cells (interstitial space).

Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in. The body is very dynamic and always changing. This is especially true with water in the body. We lose water routinely when we: breathe and humidified air leaves the body; sweat to cool the body; and urinate or have a bowel movement to rid the body of waste products.

In a normal day, a person has to drink a significant amount of water to replace this routine loss.

If intravascular (within the blood vessels) water is lost, the body can compensate somewhat by shifting water from within the cells into the blood vessels, but this is a very short-term solution. The body lives within a very narrow range of normal parameters, and signs and symptoms of dehydration will occur quickly if the water is not replenished.

The body is able to monitor the amount of fluid it needs to function. The thirst mechanism signals the body to drink water when the body is dry. As well, hormones like anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) work with the kidney to limit the amount of water lost in the urine when the body needs to conserve water.

Dehydration generally signifies the excess loss or deficiency of water in the body. It refers to deficiency of water in relation to other dissolved solutes. Along with water, several vital minerals called electrolytes are also lost when one is dehydrated. Water accounts for almost 2/3rd of the total body weight and is present both within the cells as well as in the intracellular spaces. Dehydration is a condition when the level of water in the body gets reduced below the level required for carrying out vital activities within the body. It occurs due to loss of water in greater amount than its intake. A considerable amount of water is lost from our bodies daily, due to activities like breathing, sweating and urination. So, we need to drink plenty of water in order to compensate for this loss and thereby prevent dehydration.

Symptoms
Dehydration is easily recognized by symptoms like thirst and reduction in the volume of urine or discharge of dark yellow colored urine. It also produces some other symptoms, such as dry mouth, headache, dizziness, sunken eyes, lethargy, increased heart rate and irritability. In addition to these, in infants, a sunken fontanel (soft spot on the head) can be an important indicator of dehydration. In severe cases, due to poor supply of blood to the brain and other parts of the body, confusion and weakness may occur. If remained untreated, it can lead to coma and organ failure.

Causes
There are a wide range of factors including many diseases, that can cause dehydration. Diarrhea is one of the most important causes leading to dehydration. In diarrhea, dehydration results from frequent discharge of loose or liquid feces. Dehydration resulting from diarrhea is the second most common cause of infant deaths throughout the world.

Sweating is a mechanism of cooling down the body and thereby maintaining body temperature. But it also involves significant loss of water from the body and hence can be a cause of dehydration. Vomiting, the expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth can lead to excess loss of water. Besides, victims of severe burns may also experience dehydration due to loss of fluids. .

In addition to all these, diseases like cholera, gastroenteritis, shigellosis and yellow fever can also cause dehydration. Large amounts of water are drained out of the body while exercising, playing sports and performing any other kind of strenuous activity, therefore the water or fluid balance of the body has to be maintained, to prevent dehydration.

Treatment and Prevention
Dehydration can be easily prevented as well as treated by replenishing the loss of fluid with adequate intake of water. The greater the amount of water lost from the body, the greater should the intake be. Besides water, one can also take rehydration fluids or solutions, especially in case of dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting. This will not only compensate the loss of water, but also the loss of important nutrients. Though dehydration can be easily treated with oral rehydration, sometimes intravenous administration of fluid may also be required, depending on the severity of the condition.

Dehydration, if neglected can lead to serious conditions, especially among infants and young children suffering from diarrhea. One needs to be more careful about babies and children as they tend to get easily dehydrated. An important indicator of dehydration is the frequency of urination and the nature of urine discharged. If the urine is dark yellow in color, along with a reduced frequency and volume of urine, then it can be an indicator of deficiency of water in the body. Whenever these signs are detected, body fluid should be immediately replenished by drinking water and other fluids containing important electrolytes like potassium and sodium.

Even when healthy, drink plenty of fluid every day. Drink more when the weather is hot or you are exercising.

Carefully monitor someone who is ill, especially an infant, child, or older adult. If you believe that dehydration is developing, consult a doctor before the person becomes moderately or severely dehydrated. Begin fluid replacement as soon as vomiting and diarrhea start — DO NOT wait for signs of dehydration.

Always encourage the person to drink during an illness, and remember that a person’s fluid needs are greater when that person has fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. The easiest signs to monitor are urine output (there should be frequent wet diapers or trips to the bathroom), saliva in the mouth, and tears when crying.

Drinking fluids is usually sufficient for mild dehydration. It is better to have frequent, small amounts of fluid (using a teaspoon or syringe for an infant or child) rather than trying to force large amounts of fluid at one time. Drinking too much fluid at once can bring on more vomiting.

Electrolyte solutions or freezer pops are especially effective. These are available at pharmacies. Sport drinks contain a lot of sugar and can cause or worsen diarrhea. In infants and children, avoid using water as the primary replacement fluid.

Intravenous fluids and hospitalization may be necessary for moderate to severe dehydration. The doctor will try to identify and then treat the cause of the dehydration.

Most cases of stomach viruses (also called viral gastroenteritis) tend to resolve on their own after a few days.

Dehydration means your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. Dehydration can be caused by losing too much fluid, not drinking enough water or fluids, or both. Vomiting and diarrhea are common causes.

Infants and children are more susceptible to dehydration than adults because of their smaller body weights and higher turnover of water and electrolytes. The elderly and those with illnesses are also at higher risk.

Dehydration is classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on how much of the body’s fluid is lost or not replenished. When severe, dehydration is a life-threatening emergency.

13-24

Be Yourself

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

A friend is someone who gives you strength. A friend is someone who makes you feel better after you see them or talk to them. A friend is happy because you are happy and a friend is upset when you are upset. So why is it so hard to find a friend in this world? Why is it so hard to give and receive love?

I have been communicating with a large number of women who are in despair because they feel like they invested so much – or gave up so much – for their marriage relationship: dropped out of college, quit their job, had X amount of kids, cleaned the house, cooked the food, did the bookkeeping… You would think that the least her husband could do would be to love her back!!! Flow some love, man!

Why does the dream of love appear so unattainable, even though it is as vital to our survival as food? It seems like the harder we work to please someone, the more sacrifices we make for someone, the less they love us. We get stuck in this situation where we are trying to be with someone, while they are judging us about whether they think we are good enough to merit their affection. This type of unhealthy dynamic is not limited to marriage. It can happen at work, at school, and in our social lives.

Some people start to think that it’s not even worth trying to love anyone anymore because no one ever loves you back – even those who are way too young to give up hope. Many of us at the prime our lives waste our youth and middle age in despair. Reality check: Either try something new that you haven’t thought of before, or else just give up for now and be patient. Be yourself. “Let them come to you,” said a very wise Iranian woman on Facebook.

If someone stresses you out to the point where you are becoming overwhelmed, just stay away. If you can’t avoid them, try to dwell on other thoughts. Make them a small part of your life. You can’t let other people “get to you.” If someone is upsetting you to the point where you cannot eat or sleep or concentrate because you are so upset, this is a sign that this is not a healthy relationship.

The Prophet Mohammed (s) advised that we should go towards a situation that gives us inner peace, and stay away from a situation that creates huge fluctuations in mood. When we become emotionally attached to someone that repeatedly causes us to have great hopes, and then totally disappoints us, this is a huge emotional drain that will affect not only our mood, but our ability to provide for everyone who depends on us. If we are clinging to such a person, we will become completely debilitated and useless.

When we try our best to be what someone else needs, we become less of ourselves. Less of a person to love. Sometimes we even become resentful. Ultimately, we become less lovable. We are not being the best we can be for the sake of God.

You can only be truly loved if you are totally being yourself. You can never truly love someone else unless you look at the other person as a unique person within their own unique situation.

A lot of people have a list of criteria for their potential mate. But our neediness gets in the way of true love. This list of wants gets in the way of viewing the Other as a human being. Because guess what. There is no human being out there that was specifically created to fulfill your needs. Human beings are not commercial products or drugs you can buy in order to solve your problems. Every person has their own Path they need to walk. God gives us what we need. No single person or situation can ever do that for us.

Choosing a mate or friend is not the same as looking for an apartment. If you look at someone else as a means to need-fulfillment, they will feel exploited. Likewise, if someone came up to you and said, “This is what I need. This and this and this. Can you do it?” – you would hardly fall in love with them.

We have to be ourselves, and let other people be themselves, and observe. Does it make sense for us to spend more or less time together? Do we enhance each others’ strengths or exacerbate each others’ weaknesses?

We can never have a true friendship or find true love unless we go beyond the question of “Do you meet my needs?” On the other hand, if we are getting nothing out of a friendship or marriage other than anguish, it may be time to detach. It must be a matter of the balance of respect for each other. It takes two people making an effort to have a relationship.

13-23

Drugs and Medicines in Historical Context

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

medical_marijuanaDid you know that George Washington used to grow marijuana on the White House lawn? America’s first president often spoke fondly of “female plants,” pointing obviously to marijuana’s medicinal uses. Benjamin Franklin, who avoided alcohol, was an ardent marijuana smoker. Did you know that up until World War II, American farmers could pay their taxes with hemp? Hemp, the mother of marijuana, is a native plant of every continent, and has been used during all periods of history to create rope, paper, cloth, oil, fuel, fiber, and medicine. Avicenna, the medieval Arab author of medicinal textbooks recommended marijuana, the hemp flower, for stomach ailments and many other health problems.

American, European, Asian and Arab-Islamic civilizations combined efforts during the 19th century to upgrade the standard of using drugs. The American Indians introduced the idea of smoking tobacco in a pipe to the world. Until then, Muslims had been using medicinal plants including hashish and opium by cooking them in food. The Arabs were so inspired by the New World to invent the water pipe. Using American tobacco, the Orient supplied the herbs, and a new world culture, a new economy began.

What does Islam say about drugs? According to hadith, if a person is ill, there is no sin on him whether he takes medicine to feel better, or if he chooses not to do so. During the 4th Caliphate, Muslims were introduced to drugs in the far regions of the expanding Islamic empire. But because of the deep fear of the sin of misinterpreting or over-interpreting scripture, there was no punishment for any medicinal plant other than fermented alcoholic beverages. Muslim governments never even destroyed vineyards. Even while wine is haram, grapes are not haram. Plants are protected by God.

Obviously, we have to give the Muslims credit for this. The use of the syrup from the poppy flower could kill a person’s pain making an amputation without huge physical trauma possible. Smoking marijuana could give a person dying from cancer the strength to write a book about his life. There is nothing more precious in this world than the ability to physically kill pain or nausea. God gave these things to us. Sometimes we can copy these medicinal effects in pill form. But the fact is, human beings want and require medicine. God gave us plants to reduce suffering. It is a crime against God to make a plant illegal. These plants save lives. These plants save the quality of people’s lives as well.

During World War II, the US used hemp fuel for their airplanes and tanks. Henry Ford actually created a car that was made entirely of cellulite from the hemp plant as well as ran on hemp fuel. It is an amazing idea, that American farmers could actually attain financial security growing the fuel that runs our cars! However, after the oil companies won the war, plant-based fuel became obsolete. The reason was because of Lobbyists.

Around the world today, you will still find many countries such as Canada, Indonesia and Malaysia growing hemp for industrial purposes such as oil or textiles. And it is an unspoken fact that marijuana is the top cash crop in the United States, year after year. People might pay up to $90 for 1/8 of an ounce of these flower buds. That is way more than any farmer could ever hope to get from parsley or chives.

When the Roman Emperor offered Maria and her sister to the Prophet Mohammed (s) as gifts, also included in the gift was some medicine. The hadith does not say what kind of medicine but it was probably opium or hashish given the time period. The Prophet Mohammed (s) returned the drugs and kept the girls. He freed from slavery and married Maria the Copt, who became his youngest wife, and he married her sister to one of his companions. This is the only hadith translated into English that specifically mentions drugs. In this hadith, the Prophet (s) said, “My Sunna is the best medicine.”
In a true Islamic society based on historical norms, drugs would not be illegal. They would be used for positive purposes. We would not distinguish between herbal vs. chemical versions of a medicine. People should be allowed to have access to whatever drugs make them feel better. This is a human right. Modern laws making all drugs illegal are neither halal nor beneficial to society. God gave us so many plants to help alleviate our suffering. It would be a rejection of His Mercy not to fully explore the medicinal properties of all the plants we have on earth.

13-22

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

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Chlorine explained, for kids

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufail

•    Chlorine is an element used in industry and found in some household products.

•    Chlorine is sometimes in the form of a poisonous gas. Chlorine gas can be pressurized and cooled to change it into a liquid so that it can be shipped and stored. When liquid chlorine is released, it quickly turns into a gas that stays close to the ground and spreads rapidly.

•    Chlorine gas can be recognized by its pungent, irritating odor, which is like the odor of bleach. The strong smell may provide an adequate warning to people that they have been exposed.

•    Chlorine gas appears to be yellow-green in color.

•    Chlorine itself is not flammable, but it can react explosively or form explosive compounds with other chemicals such as turpentine and ammonia.

•    Chlorine was used during World War I as a choking (pulmonary) agent.

•    Chlorine is one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals in the United States. Its most important use is as a bleach in the manufacture of paper and cloth, but it is also used to make pesticides (insect killers), rubber, and solvents.

•    Chlorine is used in drinking water and swimming pool water to kill harmful bacteria. It is also as used as part of the sanitation process for industrial waste and sewage.

•    Household chlorine bleach can release chlorine gas if it is mixed with other cleaning agents.

•    People’s risk for exposure depends on how close they are to the place where the chlorine was released.

•    If chlorine gas is released into the air, people may be exposed through skin contact or eye contact. They may also be exposed by breathing air that contains chlorine.

•    If chlorine liquid is released into water, people may be exposed by touching or drinking water that contains chlorine.

•    If chlorine liquid comes into contact with food, people may be exposed by eating the contaminated food.

•    Chlorine gas is heavier than air, so it would settle in low-lying areas.

•    The extent of poisoning caused by chlorine depends on the amount of chlorine a person is exposed to, how the person was exposed, and the length of time of the exposure.

•    When chlorine gas comes into contact with moist tissues such as the eyes, throat, and lungs, an acid is produced that can damage these tissues.

Long-term complications from chlorine exposure are not found in people who survive a sudden exposure unless they suffer complications such as pneumonia during therapy. Chronic bronchitis may develop in people who develop pneumonia during therapy.

No antidote exists for chlorine exposure. Treatment consists of removing the chlorine from the body as soon as possible and providing supportive medical care in a hospital setting.

Laboratory testing for chlorine exposure will not be useful in making treatment decisions. A person exposed to harmful amounts of chlorine will notice it immediately because of the unpleasant odor and the resulting skin, eye, nose and/or throat irritation. Therefore, the diagnosis and treatment of chlorine poisoning will primarily be based upon patient history and their health effects.

The Element Chlorine is defined as…

A highly irritating, greenish-yellow gaseous halogen, capable of combining with nearly all other elements, produced principally by electrolysis of sodium chloride and used widely to purify water, as a disinfectant and bleaching agent, and in the manufacture of many important compounds including chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. The most common uses of Chlorine are in Bleaches, Mustard gas, Water purification, Production of chlorates, Paper production, Antiseptic, Insecticides, Paint, Plastics and Medicines.
 
Chlorine is classified as an element in the ‘Halogens’ section which can be located in group 7 of the Periodic Table. The term “halogen” means “salt-former” and compounds containing halogens are called “salts”. The halogens exist, at room temperature, in all three states of matter – Gases such as Fluorine & Chlorine, Solids such as Iodine and Astatine and Liquid as in Bromine.

As stated that chlorine is a powerful oxidant and a strong bleaching agent, it is used for industrial uses and mainly for paper and cloth industries. They are also used to disinfect and purify water- both drinking water and water of the swimming pools since Chlorine destroys harmful bacteria. Chlorine because f its potential to disinfect also is used for the sanitation of waste and sewage that comes out of the industries. You can validate this by checking the disinfectant at your house and you will see that it also contains a small percentage of Chlorine if not more. Chlorine is also used in the manufacturing of pesticides, solvents and rubber. Chlorine gas is also used in refrigerants and being an important chemical, it is also used as an example to show the characteristics of halogens.
Chlorine is corrosive gas, which reacts with the hydrogen of water in the tissues of living tings and releases nascent oxygen. This nascent oxygen and the hydrogen compound that is formed, precisely Hydrogen Chloride have the potential to harm the tissues. Not only that the resultant compound of Chlorine also has the potential to enter the cells and destroy the constituents of the cell. So whenever a plant, an animal or a human being is exposed to chlorine, there are fair chances that it might have to go through all this if the exposure occurs for a considerable period of time.

Both spoil and water can have chlorine, which can be passed on to a plant, an animal or a human being. Chlorine has the potential to be fatal if the intake is in sufficient quantities. So if Chlorine is in air it can be inhaled by life forms, similarly if it is in a dissolved form even then plants and animals alike can consume it. Chlorine can also be there is the food that human consumed since it could have been cooked in Chlorine rich water. Being heavier and denser than air it always remains at the lower levels of atmosphere, which is the air that life forms inhale.

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Overlooking a Health Care Power of Attorney Can Be Costly

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

A very important estate planning tool that is not given the same attention as a Durable General Power of Attorney is the Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA). A HCPOA is a document that gives someone you trust the ability to make your medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. Once drafted, signed and witnessed, the patient advocate (person appointed) appointed is essentially filling the shoes of the principal (person signing the document) with respect to all health care decisions; thus, physicians are expected to respect and abide by their decisions as if they were being made by the principal individual himself.

Appointing someone to act as your HCPOA plays a significant role for not just the principal, but also for the patient advocate. Without a properly drafted HCPOA, and in the event you have a loved one (e.g. spouse) in the unfortunate situation of being admitted into the hospital, you would have no authority to make medical decisions on your spouse’s behalf. The proper procedure would be to file a petition with the court and be appointed as their Guardian/Conservator. This process can be time consuming and even costly.

When drafting your personal HCPOA document there is a particular section that deserves close attention. In the event you are in a persistent vegetative state or an irreversible coma, you will have to select who it is that you want to weigh the burden of your treatment versus the benefit. The three choices are: (1) Allowing your patient advocate to decide whether the burden of treatment outweighs the benefit; and based on that decision, your patient advocate has the authority to stop further treatment; (2) Allow the doctor to reasonably conclude that the burden of treatment outweighs the benefit; and based on the doctor’s decision, the doctor will decide whether to stop further treatment; and (3) Allow you to live as long as possible regardless of the burden and cost of treatment.

These are three important choices that need to be carefully addressed. By making such a decision it allows your patient advocate to know beforehand that they are responsible for your medical treatment. Through careful planning and by appointing a trustworthy patient advocate, it can bring significant ease to your personal estate. It is advised to appoint someone who is close to you and who knows your wishes, whether religious or personal, as that person can then make the proper decisions with your specific intent in mind.

Rather than going through the stress of probate, a HCPOA is the simple document that can protect your wishes as the principal and provide your patient advocate with the convenience that they would not otherwise have.

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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Florida Mosque Bombing Suspect Fatally Shot in Oklahoma

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Kristi Eaton

ORIENTA, Okla. — A man wanted in the bombing of a Florida mosque was shot and killed Wednesday when he brandished a weapon as agents tried to serve an arrest warrant in northwest Oklahoma, FBI officials said.

Sandlin Matthews Smith, 46, of St. Johns County, Fla., pulled out a firearm as federal and state law enforcement officers approached him in a field at Glass Mountain State Park near Orienta and asked him to surrender, said FBI Special Agent Jeff Westcott of Jacksonville, Fla.

Westcott said agents learned late Tuesday that Smith was staying in a tent in the park, located in the rugged foothills of the Glass Mountains in northwest Oklahoma. An Oklahoma City FBI SWAT team and other law enforcement officers blocked off the area overnight, Westcott said.

Agent Clayton Simmonds at the FBI’s Oklahoma City office said Smith was taken to a hospital in Fairview, where he was pronounced dead.

Reporters were kept back about two miles from the scene of the shooting. Because of the nature of the bombing, agents were concerned that there may have been an explosive device in the area, Simmonds said. Officials wanted to keep reporters away while they were processing the scene, but so far no bombs have been found, he said.

Simmonds said he didn’t think there were any other campers at the park.

Smith was facing several federal charges, including damage to religious property and possession of a destructive device, in connection with the May 10, 2010, bombing of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville. No one was hurt in that explosion, but authorities found remnants of a crude pipe bomb at the scene, and shrapnel from the blast was found a hundred yards away.
A call to a telephone listing for Smith in St. John, Fla., seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday night.

The center issued a statement commending law enforcement officers’ diligence in finding the person responsible for the blast.

“The membership and constituents of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida join all citizens of goodwill in Jacksonville to express their relief that any threat posed by the person suspected in the bombing of the Islamic Center has ceased as well as convey their regret that any lives were lost,” the statement read.

The shooting occurred about 110 miles northwest of Oklahoma City in a sparsely populated area of Major County.

Levada Tharp, who lives about four miles from the park, said law enforcement officers came to her house about 8:30 a.m. and asked if she had seen anything suspicious. Tharp said she hadn’t seen anything unusual.

She said she and her husband have been scared in the past of encountering coyotes on their 40-acre property, but not another person. They’ve locked the motorhome they keep behind their house and she will take other precautions when she goes out on their land.

“I won’t do it now without my cell phone,” she said. “Now I’ll take the truck.”

Simmonds said it’s unclear why Smith was in Oklahoma. He said the shooting still was being investigated.

“I’m not at liberty to say who fired on him,” Simmonds said.

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