Rodents

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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Shiraz Rehman Hired by Chicago Cubs

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

pic_735021_Chicago_Cubs2Shiraz Rehman of Phoenix, Arizona was hired this week as the assistant to the general manager for Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs. He left his position as director of baseball operations with the Arizona Diamondbacks to take the Cubs job. He had been in that position for three seasons, and spent six seasons overall with the Diamondbacks.

Rehman joined Arizona in December 2005 as a Baseball Operations Assistant and served for two years as the Manager, Baseball Operations after his promotion in January 2007. Rehman assisted General Manager Josh Byrnes and Assistant General Manager Peter Woodfork in all phases of managing the baseball operations department. He was hired there by former GM Josh Byrnes, who also served under Epstein in Boston.

In Arizona, Rehman’s primary responsibilities were with the Major League team, assisting in the maintenance of the club’s 40-man roster, providing financial and statistical analysis to support trade and player evaluation, and overseeing all transactions and Major League rules interpretation and compliance. He played a key role in the arbitration process, contract structuring and negotiations, and oversaw baseball analysis efforts for the team. Rehman also spearheaded the D-backs’ development of Baseball Operations technology and video solutions, and coordinated the department’s internship program. In addition, he managed much of the financial planning and budgeting processes for all of baseball operations.

In a news release, the Cubs described Rehman’s job will be to “support the general manager on potential player acquisitions” and also “develop the club’s evaluation database and coordinate the department’s technological efforts.” Rehman will crunch numbers as general manager Jed Hoyer prepares to sign free agents and make trades this offseason, which officially started Monday with the General Manager meetings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Originally an intern under new Cubs president of baseball Theo Epstein in Boston in 2005, Rehman is a 1999 graduate of McGill University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting and was a starting infielder on the baseball team for four years, captaining the squad in his junior and senior seasons. He spent time as both a commodities trader and financial consultant for more than five years at Enron and Deloitte & Touche before obtaining his M.B.A from Columbia Business School in 2006.

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Periscope

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufailA periscope, is an optical device for conducting observations from a concealed or protected position. Simple periscopes consist of reflecting mirrors and/or prisms at opposite ends of a tube container. The reflecting surfaces are parallel to each other and at a 45° angle to the axis of the tube. The Navy attributes the invention of the periscope (1902) to Simon Lake and the perfection of the periscope to Sir Howard Grubb.

For all its innovations, USS Holland had at least one major flaw; lack of vision when submerged. The submarine had to broach the surface so the crew could look out through windows in the conning tower. Broaching deprived the Holland of one of the submarine’s greatest advantages – stealth. Lack of vision when submerged was eventually corrected when Simon Lake used prisms and lenses to develop the omniscope, forerunner of the periscope. Sir Howard Grubb, designer of astronomical instruments, developed the modern periscope that was first used in Holland-designed British Royal Navy submarines. For more than 50 years, the periscope was the submarine’s only visual aid until underwater television was installed aboard the nuclear powered submarine USS Nautilus.

Thomas Grubb (1800-1878) founded a telescope making firm in Dublin. Sir Howard Grubb’s father was noted for inventing and constructing machinery for printing. In the early 1830s, he made an observatory for his own use equipped with a 9-inch (23cm) telescope. Thomas Grubb’s youngest son Howard (1844-1931) joined the firm in 1865, under his hand the company gained a reputation for the first-class Grubb telescopes. During the First World War, demand was on Grubb’s factory to make gunsights and periscopes for the war effort and it was during those years that Grubb perfected the periscope’s design.

First application of the periscope to submarine warfare is usually credited to Simon Lake in 1902, although there is a report that an Italian, Triulzi, demonstrated such a device in 1901 calling it a cleptoscope.

A modern submarine periscope incorporates lenses for magnification and functions as a telescope. It typically employs prisms and total internal reflection instead of mirrors. It may have additional optical capabilities such as range finding and targeting. The mechanical systems of submarine periscopes are typically hydraulically powered and need to be quite sturdy to withstand the drag through water. The periscope chassis may also be used as a radio or radar antenna.

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Cumran Vafa

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

vafaCumrun Vafa was born in Tehran, Iran in 1960 and graduated from Alborz Boys School. He came to the US in 1977 and completed  his undergraduate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a major in physics and mathematics. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 under the supervision of Edward Witten. He then became a junior fellow at Harvard, where he later got a junior faculty position. In 1989 he was offered a senior faculty position, and he has been there ever since. Currently, he is the Donner Professor of Science at Harvard University.

Cumrun Vafa’s primary area of research is string theory. String theory, a subject that is about four decades old, is at the center of efforts by theoretical physicists to find a unified fundamental theory of nature. String theory provides a framework to unify everything we know about nature, including all particles and the forces between them, in a consistent quantum theory. This is an ambitious goal, given that it aims to describe physical phenomena involving scales 1025times smaller than the atom, as well as the cosmology of our entire universe, which involves a scale of about 1037times bigger than the atom. In a single theory, one studies the mysteries of confinement of quarks inside atomic nuclei, as well as enigmatic properties of astrophysical objects such as black holes.

Such an all-encompassing theory necessarily requires a tremendous amount of mathematical skill. In fact, most of the mathematics needed for string theory is not even yet developed. String theorists thus have the exciting task of building new mathematics as tools to explore new laws of physics. It is therefore not surprising that string theory is at the cross roads of many fields, including mathematics, particle phenomenology and astrophysics. Cumrun Vafa’s research has involved essentially all these aspects. Together with his colleagues he has worked on topological strings, trying to elucidate some new mathematics originating from string theory  and using these techniques to uncover some of the mysteries of black holes, particularly the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy. He has also applied these ideas to particle theories by geometrically engineering quantum field theories, as well as solving the strong coupling dynamics of confining theories  and geometrizing string theory defects.  His recent work involves applying these ideas to come up with stringy predictions about what the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located at Franco – Swiss border may potentially discover in the near future.

Dr. Cumrun Vafa,  was elected as a new member of The National Academy of Sciences on April 28, 2009. Members are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

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Mohamed Sanu Ready to Ascend

August 11, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

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

Sanu103806432The Rutgers University football team may have a new offensive coordinator, but they still have the same prized offensive weapon: wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. Sanu will be making one change, however. He has been shifting between the wide receiver, running back, and even quarterback positions during his Rutgers career so far. This year, he will concentrate only on the wide receiver position.

“If football can be played with only one person on the field, he (Sanu) can probably play every position that is out there,” Rutgers wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck told NewBrunswick.com. “We really can do anything with him. He can play any position for us. He kind of already has (laughs).”

“It’s my job as offensive coordinator to put our playmakers in the best position to make plays,” Rutgers offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said. “We want to create the best matchups. (Sanu) is a wide receiver.”

“It’s a blessing to be able to do many things,” Sanu told NewBrunswick.com. “Right now, I’m pretty happy to be able to just focus on doing one thing. I get to see how good I can be at one thing.” His versatility helped him become well-rounded, but focusing only on receiving should preserve his health. “Being just a wide receiver should also help him health-wise,” Fleck said. “As a halfback, he got hit about twenty more times a game than he would as a receiver.”

Sanu’s football honors thus far have included Honorable Mention Freshman All-America by CollegeFootballNews.com and a Third Team All-Big East selection by Phil Steele.Sanu stands at an impressive 6’ 2” and 215 pounds. And, blessed with smarts, speed, and strength, he is rated as a possible first round draft pick in next spring’s NFL Draft by a number of scouting services. And while his experiences as a running back, quarterback, kick returner, and even punter have added to his skillset, it will be his specialization that should propel him to future National Football League success.
“We really can do anything with him,” Fleck noted. “From a selfish standpoint as the wide receivers coach, I’m glad I have him the whole time. There were times when we were working on things when he had to go be the quarterback or do the run game.”

“I think he’ll be even better this year,” Fleck said. “You have to rep technique. You have to do it over and over and over. He can take all of the mental capacity he has and focus it on being a receiver, with the routes and the concepts. I think he’ll be able to respond quicker, think faster.”

“First of all, he’s bigger than most receivers,” Rutgers sophomore quarterback Chas Dodd told NewBrunswick.com. “He’s very strong. He’s very fast. He’s able to catch the ball and make plays with it. His yards after the catch is one thing that really elevates his game. He catches the ball well and is a big target for me. I love throwing to a guy like that. The more reps we get, the more comfortable we’ll feel in the timing of the routes.”

“At this point, I can’t say anything is set,” Cignetti said. “As an offense, you always want to do what is best for us to represent problems for the defense we’re playing.

“If coach decides to go in that direction, we know we have him,” Fleck added. “He gives us the ability to create mismatches across the board.” “I never really thought of myself as being this or that position,” said Sanu, who spent his early childhood in Sierra Leone. “I’m a football player.”

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Sovereignty and a New Reality

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Palestinian Recognition at the U.N.

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Washington–Your reporter has devoted much time to the (progressive) Israeli position on any possible peace discussion with the rightful Arab claimants to the Holy Land.  The Palestine Center, housed in the American capital city, has given your narrator the opportunity to voice the opposing Palestinian position on their march to recognition towards their legitimate status at next month’s meeting at the United Nations.

“Ambassador” Maen Areikat gave a formal speech on his “country’s” formal position on a potential declaration next month of his country’s independence in New York City a month ago here in the District of Columbia with the most knowledgeable legal expert on Ramallah’s right for national agency, Professor John Quigley.  

This, presented in July, was part of the Palestine Center’s public examination of what they termed “The Arab Spring becomes the Palestinian Autumn” — something your scribe does not as yet subscribe.

“Ambassador” (your raconteur only puts parenthesis around his title because Areikat represents a stateless State, and his credentials may not be officially recognized here in D.C.) Mean Areikat is the main PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) representative in the U.S. officially commissioned with the rank of Ambassador by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority (PA). 

He has held high positions in negotiating teams and delegations with the Israeli occupiers.   Maen, also, served as Desk Officer over English-speaking powers within the PA’s Orient House’s International Relations Department.

From your author’s recent research on Israel, the attitude of the Palestinians going directly to the U.N. on Manhattan’s River for an official acknowledgment of their natural entitlement is anathema to Tel Aviv.  As John Quigley pointed out, the Israeli parliament (or Knesset) recognized the PLO as  representing a State by recognizing the legitimacy of the Oslo Accords or the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arraignments or more succinctly the Declaration of Principles (DOP) of September 13th 1993.  Further, under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, the Turks under their then Ottoman Empire ceded their former territories (including Palestine) as States to the (former) League of Nations who gave them in trust to the victorious (post-)World War I European Empires as temporary Mandates. 

Erekat noted, whatever,  the Security-Council does not have the right to recognize or deny nationhood, but it must be passed by two-thirds of its members to be sent on to the General Assembly (GA) , but, if it does pass the initial hurdle, it will most likely be bureaucratically shunted into a Committee.  Here, this Committee can be slowed down in referring it to the General-Assembly. 

The leading legal expert on this process this process is Professor John Quigley of Ohio State University in Columbus.  Besides the law, Quigley’s interests includes human rights; and, thus, Palestine.

Professor Quigley simply states that, after the matter has been referred to the General-Assembly without obfuscations, the Security-Council has to defend their position on whether to grant Statehood or not to the G.-A.   This can actually go back and forth between the two bodies for some time.

The Ambassador showed that it is only the G.-A. that can bestow the legal status of Statehood, and that standing can have several different levels.  Under the U.N. Charter the U.S. can’t say  “We don’t like it [our bid], or give Israel more time to make peace.”  Both of these are invalid under the United Nations’ Charter. 

There is a question of what exactly is legally binding because the Charter is ambiguous here:  It is not clear whether the General Assembly has the authority to admit a country into the U.N. without the Council’s approval to do so, and there has been no precedent to establish it one way or the other.  To continue the pun we are proceeding on uncharted ice.

Only Israel is claiming that this move is unilateral.  It is not so, as the Ambassador declares, “ We are going for full admission into the United Nations to be acknowledged as a sovereign entity!”    In the General Assembly the Palestinians only require a plurality of fifty (percent) plus one.  Debate is proceeding back home in Ramallah on which course to proceed.  According to the District of Columbia, the U.S. insists that Palestinian State’s status should only come through negotiation, but negotiations for Tel Aviv denotes the avoidance of the two-country agreement whereas Palestine advocates a dual realm resolution by fighting against the unjust Settlements.  The real cost of the Occupation is borne by the international commune.  This is “Not an effort to isolate Israel,” for “We are committed to non-violent peaceful resistance, but we shall not tolerate the Occupation!”

The Right Honorable Maen Areikat continued, “The only way we shall reconsider [this bid for recognition] is if the community of nations can guarantee our security; then, discussions can go on in good faith.”

Quigley, further, adds that, if Palestine achieves its place amongst the family of sovereign states, the War Crimes committed against the Canaanites can be brought before the International Court under the Treaty of Rome of 2003.

If Palestine would be welcomed into that august body on the Hudson, then, as a sovereign nation, “We would have [to have] responsibilities,” too, Areikat stated.  “We would [then] have to follow the U.N. Charter,”  Conversely, “The Quartet [the  nations acting as interlopers between Tel Aviv and Ramallah – the United States, the United Kingdom (U.K.), the Russian Federation, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations  as a coordinator] is concerned about [this forthcoming] September[‘s confrontation], for [it is bound] to be more favorable to the Arabs.  It is a foregone conclusion that Ramallah will gain the fifty plus one in the General Assembly guaranteeing a Palestinian nation, but alternatively, they can merely grant Observer  Status; but, thereby, we shall gain international legality,” also.

Areikcat said, “We may just be headed for New York  as a rouse..[but we have the ]the right to tell…people our options!”  Concluding, “We can move towards independence!…We have rights under the U.N. “  Then, “We can move forward towards [true] Independence…We’ll have our rights under the U.N.!”  There “will be a change in international relations.  In 1948,Israel agreed to be a neighbor of a bordering Arab State.  The PLO’s position is a two-State solution!”  Ultimately, the agreement will be made between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Although there is EU support, His Excellency felt the European vote is in question.

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Stand Up to Herman Cain

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Eugene Robinson

It is time to stop giving Herman Cain’s unapologetic bigotry a free pass. The man and his poison need to be seen clearly and taken seriously.

Imagine the reaction if a major-party presidential candidate — one who, like Cain, shows actual support in the polls — said he “wouldn’t be comfortable” appointing a Jew to a Cabinet position. Imagine the outrage if this same candidate loudly supported a community’s efforts to block Mormons from building a house of worship.

But Cain’s prejudice isn’t against Mormons or Jews, it’s against Muslims. Open religious prejudice is usually enough to disqualify a candidate for national office—but not, apparently, when the religion in question is Islam.

Sunday, Cain took the position that any community in the nation has the right to prohibit Muslims from building a mosque. The sound you hear is the collective hum of the Founding Fathers whirring like turbines in their graves.

Freedom of religion is, of course, guaranteed by the Constitution. There’s no asterisk or footnote exempting Muslims from this protection.

Cain says he knows this. Obviously, he doesn’t care.

Cain’s remarks came as “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace was grilling him about his obsession with the attempt by some citizens of Murfreesboro  to halt construction of a mosque. Wallace noted that the mosque has operated at a nearby site for more than 20 years, and asked, sensibly, what the big deal is.

Cain launched into an elaborate conspiratorial fantasy about how the proposed place of worship is “not just a mosque for religious purposes” and how there are “other things going on.”

This imagined nefarious activity, it turns out, is a campaign to subject the nation and the world to Islamic religious law. Anti-mosque activists in Murfreesboro are “objecting to the fact that Islam is both a religion and a set of laws, sharia law,” Cain said. “That’s the difference between any one of our other traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes.”

Let’s return to the real world for a moment and see how bogus this argument is. Presumably, Cain would include Roman Catholicism among the “traditional religions” that deserve constitutional protection. It happens that our legal system recognizes divorce, but the Catholic Church does not. This, by Cain’s logic, must constitute an attempt to impose “Vatican law” on an unsuspecting nation.

Similarly, Jewish congregations that observe kosher dietary laws must be part of a sinister plot to deprive America of its God-given bacon.

Wallace was admirably persistent in pressing Cain to either own up to his prejudice or take it back. “But couldn’t any community then say we don’t want a mosque in our community?” Wallace asked.
“They could say that,” Cain replied.

“So you’re saying any community, if they want to ban a mosque. . .,”

Wallace began.

“Yes, they have the right to do that,” Cain said.

For the record, they don’t. For the record, there is no attempt to impose sharia law; Cain is taking arms against a threat that exists only in his own imagination. It makes as much sense to worry that the Amish will force us all to commute by horse and buggy.

This demonization of Muslims is not without precedent. In the early years of the 20th century, throughout the South, white racists used a similar “threat” — the notion of black men as sexual predators who threatened white women — to justify an elaborate legal framework of segregation and repression that endured for decades.

As Wallace pointed out, Cain is an African American who is old enough to remember Jim Crow segregation. “As someone who, I’m sure, faced prejudice growing up in the ’50s and the ’60s, how do you respond to those who say you are doing the same thing?”

Cain’s response was predictable: “I tell them that’s absolutely not true, because it is absolutely, totally different. . . . We had some laws that were restricting people because of their color and because of their color only.”

Wallace asked, “But aren’t you willing to restrict people because of their religion?”

Said Cain: “I’m willing to take a harder look at people that might be terrorists.”

Generations of bigots made the same argument about black people.

They’re irredeemably different. Many of them may be all right, but some are a threat. Therefore, it’s necessary to keep all of them under scrutiny and control.

Bull Connor and Lester Maddox would be proud.

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Turk Is Best Center in 2011 NBA Draft

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

photo dayTurkish basketball player Enes Kanter was one of a dozen players who met the media in mid-town Manhattan Wednesday to discuss the 2011 NBA Draft, which takes place Thursday June 23rd. Kanter told the throng of reportes that he expected to go in the first three picks Thursday night, which are held by Cleveland, Minnesota and Utah in that order. While Cleveland is almost a lock to take Duke point guard Kyrie Lewis with the first pick, Kanter’s name will be in play almost immediately after that. While Minnesota has not shown much interest in the Turkish center, a number of teams have been rumored to be angling to trade into the second or third position to nab him. Utah at the third position is reportedly leaning toward Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight, but they also have Kanter in the back of their minds, as do the Cleveland Cavaliers who pick again at number four.

Kanter, who just turned nineteen years old on May 20th, was recruited to play basketball for the University of Kentucky. However, the NCAA declared him permanently ineligible for inter-collegiate athletics because he received approximately $33,000 from the Turkish professional team Fenerbahçe Ülker. The NCAA ruled that this amount was above and beyond what was considered acceptable. On January 7, 2011, the NCAA rejected Kentucky’s appeal, rendering Kanter permanently ineligible. As a result, he declared for the 2011 NBA Draft. His amateur accomplishments include being named the Most Valuable Player in the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, averaging 18.6 points and 16.4 rebounds while leading Turkey’s junior national team to the bronze medal.

Kanter, whose father Mehmet is a professor at Trakya University in Turkey, told the reporters that if would have been cleared by the NCAA to play college basketball last season that not only would the University of Kentucky have won the national title, but that he would clearly be the number one pick in this draft.”Because I believe I am the best player in this draft,” Kanter remarked. Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal asked Kanter if he believed he would have dominated in college basketball last season? “Yes,” he said, shaking his head. “We would have won the national title.” “Easily?” replied Bozich. “Yes,” retorted Kanter. Hopefully that confidence is borne out in Thursday’s draft.

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Herman Cain’s Muslim Problem

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Tim Murphy

On Tuesday, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain dropped by Glenn Beck’s radio program to argue that his previous promise to not appoint any Muslims to his Cabinet had been “misconstrued.” As he put it: “I did not say that I would not have them in my cabinet. If you look at my career, I have hired good people regardless of race, religion, sex gender, orientation, and this kind of thing.”

Cain’s position now is that only radical Muslims would be prohibited from serving in his administration. That sounds reasonable. Except he told Laura Ingraham in April that he’s never met a Muslim who didn’t fit his definition of a radical—and in the same interview, alleged that Rep. Keith Ellison (D–Minn.), who’s Muslim, has pledged his loyalty to Allah, not the Constitution. But even if Cain’s original statement, and subsequent defenses of it, were misconstrued, he still hasn’t adequately explained the rest of what he told Think Progress back in April.

When asked for examples of the “creeping attempt…to gradually ease” Islamic sharia law into the American judicial system he explained:

One judge did it up in New Jersey, and ruled in a case. Then last week we heard about a judge down in was it Texas? It might have been Texas where a judge said there was a dispute in a mosque and he was gonna consider ‘eclesiastical’ law in his deliberations, because of a dispute that was going on inside a mosque. This is the United States of America. Just because it’s going on inside a mosque doesnt mean you execute the laws based on what’s going on in the [mosque].”

Cain is right: This is the United States of America. But everything else here is inaccurate. In the civil case in question—which was in Florida, not Texas—the judge (a Republican) ruled that he was going to use “ecclesiastical” law because both parties had agreed, per their mutually agreed-upon contract, to settle their dispute through ecclesiastical Islamic law, in the form of a Muslim arbitrator. That’s totally normal; Christians and Jews also take advantage of independent arbitrators to settle disputes. If the government were to ban the use of such forums, it would mark a dramatic encroachment on the First Amendment’s freedom of religion—I’m fairly certain that Herman Cain doesn’t want to run for President on the platform of restricting Christians’ free speech rights. The actual trial, the judge noted, would be conducted according to Florida civil law; he was simply assessing whether the arbitration process had been handled properly.

Anyone can make a gaffe, which is how Cain is spinning his “no Muslims” comment. But the more serious problem isn’t that Cain misspoke; it’s that he has taken an extreme, unconstitutional position based on a conspiracy theory that could have been debunked in 30 seconds.

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Pushing Freedom

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves”. 

~Abraham Lincoln

freedomThe word “freedom” is one that is being heard more and more often in the Middle East whether it is in the media or brought up in simple conversation.  Countries like Egypt and Tunisia have already tasted the sweet tang of freedom in recent months. Other countries, like Bahrain and Libya, are still waiting to savor even a morsel of freedom in their countries. While certain parts of the Middle East have yet to provide full throttle freedom for its denizens there is one country that has been a beacon of light for a primary liberty, freedom of speech, in the Middle East for many years.

The State of Kuwait has topped the annual Freedom House “Freedom of the Press Survey” for several years running and has been heralded as having one of the most free media sectors in the region. However, this year, Kuwait was toppled from first position by Israel and further pushed down a notch by Lebanon to take third position.

It’s not surprising that Kuwait lost the top spot given that the past several months have seen quite an amount of political turmoil in the country with some media outlets not only reporting the news but also becoming part of it. At least one television station was ransacked in the pasts several months and one writer jailed over public statements they made which were deemed to be inflammatory.

Members of the public in Kuwait have also been prone to having their freedom of speech impugned as of late. This past January a Kuwait-based blogger was sued by an international eatery over writing a negative food review. Fortunately, the blogger proved victorious as the case was thrown out of court.  However, this past week a group of Kuwait University students found themselves simmering in a pot of “hot water” over comments made about one of their teachers on the social-networking site Facebook.

According to the teacher, who chose to press charges, the students posted derogatory comments about her teaching methods on a personal page. Other students chimed in about their experiences and it snowballed from there. Authorities investigated the incident and the case was seemingly closed until the teacher demanded punitive measures from the university’s governing panel. All of the students, some of which are set to graduate in the coming month, involved in posting the comments online face expulsion. In a counterclaim, a spokesman for the student union known as ‘The Democratic Circle’ has retorted, “Freedom of speech is a fundamental right granted by the Constitution. The fact that a university instructor does not respect this premise signifies the existence of a larger issue and jeopardizes the university’s reputation as an educational institute.”

Only time will tell if Kuwait can regain its status as the exemplar for free speech in the region. But one thing is for sure, censorship and transgressions against freedom of speech are both meals best served up cold. 

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Muhammad Wilkerson First Round Pick of the Jets

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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

800-Jets_Draft_Football.sff.standalone.prod_affiliate.4Temple University defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson reacted with emotion amongst friends and family in his hometown in New Jersey last week, as he learned that he was selected by the New York Jets with the 30th pick of the first round of the 2011 National Football League draft. Wilkerson was in tears, flanked by his mother in hijab and his father in a prayer cap, amongst a group of 80-90 friends and family members at a restaurant in his hometown of Linden, New Jersey. The 6 foot 4, 305 pound Wilkerson is expected to play defensive end in the Jets’ 3-4 defense, periodically moving inside to the 3 technique defensive tackle position in four-man fronts. “I think I can come in and help the defense be more destructive than it is,” he stated in a conference call with reporters the night of the draft.

And in addition to being versatile from a position standpoint, Wiikerson is also versatile from a skill-set standpoint, as he is proficient as both a pass-rusher and as a run-stopper. Known not only for his athleticism and strength but also for his work ethic, Wilkerson left college early after his junior year to pursue his dreams of a professional football career. Now that he has been selected in the lucrative first round of the NFL Draft, it appears that his dreams of pro football are about to become a reality. Jets coach Rex Ryan stated that he felt that Muhammad would fit in quite nicely. “I think Muhammad really fits what we want to do defensively,” Ryan told the Bergen (N.J.) Record. “He was an excellent player in college, but we think he’s got more to give. We’re going to push him and push him and coach him up to play the way that we play, play like a Jet.”

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Letters to the Editor–Syed Aslam’s Response to Criticism of his article

April 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear sir

I read with interest the Letter to the Editor dated April 22-228. 2011 written by Mr.  Masood Ranginwala, (Chairman, Islamic Learning Foundation NY).  I would like to remind him that my article was not against Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal, I have great respect for him and other Imams. He suffered to uphold the Sunnah of Prophet that is true, but his view regarding science and its learning could be different and that what I was trying to point out. As a matter of fact I found the quotation about Ahmed ibn Hanbal which is my article  in Syed Ameer Ali’s book The Spirit of Islam published in 1923 in which he discussed in detail why Muslims lost interest in science and technology.

Even in modern time Hossein Nasar, a well known scholar of history of Islamic science, insists that the Arabic word Ilm only refers to the knowledge of God.  He thinks that modern science is a cancer which is destroying the fundamentals  of the Islamic faith. You may agree or disagree with the position of these individual  but to bring it out and debate on their position is not Un-Islamic, unfair and should not cause any disrespect to any body or cause enmity as indicated Mr. Ranginwala in his letter.

So far the tradition of Prophet (as) is concerned he made  no distinction between secular education and religious education which this famous Hadith confirms:Seek knowledge though it be in China. Clearly, one would not go to China to learn about Qur’an and Hadith. What  our Prophet meant, was to seek technical or scientific knowledge even if you had to travel  a long distance, like going to China. There are many other Hadith which confirm this position.

Syed Aslam
Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

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Gulam Khan:CEO of US Endoscopy

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A64F Gulam Khan is the CEO of US Endoscopy which specializes in device design and manufacturing of accessories for GI endoscopy.  Khan has traversed a unique career path to his current position. He initially earned a law degree and worked at a Cleveland practice. At the same time enrolled himself in an MBA program.

A business plan he wrote for US Endoscopy as an MBA assignment landed him as a product manager at the company and he soon was on the track to higher position. Khan was able to position his small company against the dominant players in the industry by developing new client centric strategies.

Because of his efforts Khan was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Smart Business magazine. In its profile of Khan the magazine wrote, ‘US Endoscopy may be smaller in size, but with Khan in charge, this company can outwit the larger competition.’

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OPEN-Houston Brought A Most Useful Seminar For The Community

February 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs and Professionals (OPEN) is a not-for-profit organization and started in 1998 from Boston Massachusetts, with sole purpose to promotion entrepreneurship and professional growth of Pakistanis, in collaboration with those living around Pakistanis. OPEN has several chapters across USA. One of the main aims of OPEN is to enhance the prosperity of Pakistani businesspersons, which in turn should reflect in the augmentation of wealth and resourcefulness of the Pakistani community living in USA and for the societies at large Pakistanis live. In order to achieve its goals and objectives, OPEN organizes several educational seminars and networking events, as well as fosters sound relationship with political & business decision makers in USA and Pakistan. OPEN also has special focus on the youth, encourage them to be innovating entrepreneurs and proficient professionals and bring for them various internship programs themselves or through other organizations’, business and governmental entities.

At the picturesque Embassy Suites Hotel along Katy Freeway at South Kirkwood, OPEN-Houston organized a timely seminar on “The Credit Crisis and Great Recession: A Historical Perspective”, presented by Faisal David Khan, Senior Financial Advisor and Partner with Ameriprise Advisory Services. He talked about the governmental intervention, the worsened housing market, securitization, investment banking, and the current volatile financial climate. After his short power-point presentation, he answered several questions of the attendees for more than half-an-hour.

“I am against governmental control of free enterprise system of USA: However we do need proper regulations and check-&-balances, so that everyone plays by rules and greed does not become the main ingredient of the system,” said Faisal David Khan.

He said although President Obama Governments’ steps to strongly intervene into the markets have avoided the depression, but have we really come out of the troubled waters, no one can say for certainty. Reason is when there was incentive to buy homes, people bought the homes. Moment it was going away, we had the worst home sales month. Similarly clunker car program increased auto sales, but once gone, it also went down.

Faisal David Khan most eloquently explained that the concept of “Leverage” is one of the main reasons for the markets downfall. Leverage is when: (a) an institution’s financial assets are larger than its capital; (b) an institution is exposed to the change in value of a position more than the amount that it paid for the position; or (c) an institution owns a position with embedded leverage. A position with embedded leverage is a position with an exposure larger than the underlying market factor.

Result of this concept of “Leverage” is that we have seen watershed event of the Bear Stearns Companies, Inc Company of 1923, collapsing completely in 2008, due to the subprime mortgage crisis.

Businesses and individual consumers have learned the lesson and are willing to be regulated. President Obama Government needs to bring more innovative and stricter regulations and try to avoid complete takeover of the government, as that will hurt the free venture system.

“We should be worried about USA Economy, more so that the world economy is dependent on USA. Although we may see countries like China making amazing strides in the financial field, but in fact their economy is dependent largely on the well-being of US,” added Faisal David Khan.

For more information on OPEN-Houston and/or getting involved in a business endeavor, one can visit http://www.open-houston.org/

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Obama Appoints Former Microsoft Security Chief New Cybersecurity Czar

December 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Kim Zetter, Wired Magazine Email Author

howard-schmidt-with-president-obama

It took seven months but President Obama has finally found someone to take the cybersecurity czar job no one wanted.

Howard Schmidt,  a former Microsoft security executive and a one-time cybersecurity adviser to President George W. Bush, has been appointed to the position of cybersecurity coordinator, according to a White House announcement Tuesday.

Schmidt served as vice chair, and then chair, of the President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board and as Special Adviser for Cyberspace Security for the White House from December 2001 until May 2003, when he reportedly left the position out of frustration that the government wasn’t making cybersecurity a priority. After leaving the White House, he became chief information security officer at eBay.

In his new position, he will be responsible for coordinating the federal government’s cybersecurity initiatives to secure government networks and critical U.S. infrastructures. This will include working with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure that agencies have money allocated for cybersecurity priorities, and coordinating the government’s response to a major cyber incident or attack.

According to the Associated Press, Obama was directly involved in the selection of Schmidt, who was chosen after an extensive search.

But the announcement of Schmidt came with little fanfare on Tuesday and followed months of reports from other candidates that they either turned down the job or otherwise discouraged the White House from courting them.

Obama announced last May that he was creating a new office to be led by a cybersecurity czar. For nearly a year, however, he could find no one to take the job, because of what many viewed as its undesirable placement in the federal hierarchy.

The czar, Obama stated, would report to the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, putting the position one rung lower in the executive branch hierarchy than many security experts had wanted. Observers had hoped the czar would report directly to the president, which would have helped insulate the office from agency turf battles and ensure quick access to top decision makers.

The White House was quick to dispel concerns on Tuesday that Schmidt’s office would be exiled from the West Wing. An unidentified White House official told the Associated Press that Schmidt would have regular and direct access to the President for cybersecurity issues.

Schmidt, Microsoft’s chief security officer until 2001, is the second former Microsoft executive to take a top federal cybersecurity position. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appointed Philip Reitinger in March to the position of deputy undersecretary of the department’s National Protections Program Directorate.

Reitinger was Microsoft’s chief trustworthy-infrastructure strategist, a job that required him in part to help develop and implement strategies for enhancing the security of critical infrastructures. In his new position, he oversees the protection of the government’s computer networks and works with the private sector to help secure critical infrastructures.

There have been concerns about how the White House intends to address cybersecurity issues, particularly in the private sector, and protect civil liberties at the same time.

Obama asserted in his speech in May that the new White House cybersecurity office would include an official whose job is to ensure that the government’s cyberpolicies don’t violate the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.

“Our pursuit of cybersecurity will not include — I repeat, will not include — monitoring private-sector networks or internet traffic,” he said. “We will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans.”

Photo by Lawrence Jackson, courtesy of White House

MJ Khan in Houston Controller Run-Off

November 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ilyas Hasan Choudry, MMNS

Houston—November 4–“It is a distinct honor for the Muslim, Pakistani and South Asian Communities that a competent person with right credentials, has qualified through Houstonians Votes, to the run-off elections of December 12th, 209 for the Controller Position of the fourth largest metropolis of USA.”

These were the sentiments of those gathered at the Campaign Headquarter of the termed-out City Councilman M. J. Khan located along Richmond Avenue just east of Hillcroft, as they celebrated the strong showing by M. J. on the actual voting day to come from behind into the second position behind the termed-out City Councilperson Ron Green and qualifying for the run-off on Saturday, December 12th, 2009. Early voting for Run-Offs is tentatively expected to be between November 30th and December 08th, 2009. M. J. Khan’s wife and son were also present on the occasion.

Khalid Khan, who was vying to replace M. J. Khan on the City Council Position “F”, came in a strong third place in a race of seven candidates. On the voting day of Tuesday, November 03, 2009, Khalid Khan was number two in the number of votes received, but Al Hoang got majority of his votes in the Early Voting.

When the early vote count came in around 7:00pm., M. J. Khan was third in the pack of three candidates for the Controller position, trailing the second place Pam Holm by about 1,300 votes. By the end of the evening, M. J. Khan had about 2,000 votes more than Pam Holm, who called into M. J. Khan Campaign Office to congratulate him for qualifying for the run-off.

In fact on the voting day of Tuesday, November 03, 2009, M. J. Khan received the most number of votes, as compared to Ron Green and Pam Holm, which according to analysts show that voters learned about M. J. Khan’s credentials late in the race through his TV advertisements and once the voters knew about his strong financial background, he got many votes. The same thing of educating voters through electronic media can help him win on December 12th, 2009 and for that M. J. will need good sum of donations from well-wishers and Houstonians.

This Controller race became most heated, when in the last few weeks to the elections, Ron Green admitted certain issues with liens on his properties by IRS and that these problems were much highlighted by his opponent Palm Holm, while M. J. Campaign stayed out from any negative comments.

M. J. Khan has created history by becoming the first ever Muslim, Pakistani and South Asian Candidate to be running in the run-off elections for the second biggest position of Controller of the 4th largest city of USA .

“I feel most humble that with the support of my community and right choice of the voters to elect a person with right credentials, I will be contesting in December 12th run-off. City of Houston is the best place to live and after having served the City for the past six years, I feel my qualifications are the most appropriate for the Controller position, so that I can contribute more towards the well-being of all Houstonians. I am grateful to each and everyone, who has voted for me and expect more voters to come out in the run-off and elect him to be the next City of Houston Controller because I have the right background and expertise to run the finances of this great city in the most amicable manner,” said M. J. Khan, as final results came in late around 11:45pm.

In other races, it will be mayoral election run-off as well. Here again all political pundits were proven wrong, when City Councilperson Peter Brown, even after spending more than $2-Million of his own and wife’s money, came in third. Since none of the candidates got 50%+, there will be run-off between top position Annise Parker and Gene Locke.

Here is how the final outcome of various campaigns was:

Houston Mayor – Annise Parker 54,193 (30.5%); Gene Locke 45,954 (25.90%); Peter Brown 39,904 (22.4%); Roy Morales 35925 (20.20%) (Run-Off);
Houston Controller – Number Of Votes Are For Harris County Only – Ronald C. Green 53,993 (36.3%); M. J. Khan 49,424 (32.5%); Pam Holm 47,701 (31.2%) (Run-Off);
City Council At-Large Pos. 1 – Stephen Costello 24.1%; Karen Derr 19.6% (Run-Off)
City Council At-Large Pos. 2 – Sue Lovell 48.8%; Andrew C. Burks Jr. 21.4% (Run-Off);
City Council At-Large Pos. 4 – C. O. Bradford Won 52.3%; Noel Freeman 21.1%;
City Council At-Large Pos. 5 – Jolanda “Jo” Jones (I) 42.1%; Jack Christie 36.4% (Run-Off);
City Council Dist. A – Brenda Stardig 31.9%; Lane Lewis 21.8% (Run-Off);
City Council Dist. B – Jarvis Johnson (I) Won 82.0%; Roger Bowden 18.0%;
City Council Dist. C – Anne Clutterbuck (I) Won 81.8%; Randolph Locke 17.5%;
City Council Dist. D – Wanda Adams Won 76.2%; Larry McKinzie 11.0%;
City Council Dist. E – Mike Sullivan (I) Won 74.1%; Wayne Garrison 25.9%;
City Council Dist. F – Mike Laster 2,436 (25.5%); Al Hoang 2,351 (24.6%); Khalid Khan 1,859 (19.5%) (Run-Off);
City Council Dist. G – Oliver Pennington Won 59.1%; Mills Worsham 17.8%.

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