Monday, November 29, 2010

Tell Members of Congress to get their priorities straight. Sign this petition to extend unemployment insurance for families struggling to find work!

The moms have it right, America. Force Congress into acting right for a change.--KAS

Dear Kevin,
Moms are good at sniffing out trickery. We've detected green beans stuffed in napkins, ratted out feigned illnesses with our trusty thermometers, and we're pretty sure the dog didn't eat that missing homework. So, when some of our elected leaders tell us that they can afford to extend tax cuts for the rich, but can't afford to continue unemployment benefits for our millions of families searching for work, we're a bit suspicious.
According to most estimates, extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires would increase the deficit by an estimated 700 billion dollars over the next ten years. [1] In contrast, keeping the emergency federal unemployment benefits programs in place for another year for the millions of families who are still desperately looking for work would cost only a small fraction of that.
Can you see why we're a bit skeptical? The math doesn't add up. The issue appears not to be fiscal responsibility, but a question of which families are going to benefit from government tax and spending policy.
*Tell Members of Congress to get their priorities straight. Sign this petition to extend unemployment insurance for families struggling to find work.
This week Congress may be voting on whether to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and also debating whether to extend the federal unemployment insurance programs that have been so essential to keeping so many families afloat.
So it's time for us to get busy! We'll be delivering these petitions and stories from moms and dads across the nation directly to members of Congress along with napkins decorated with real green beans.
And if you can give a donation to help us cover the cost of the delivery to Congress, that would be a big help too!
Here's one of the stories we're delivering from a MomsRising member from Texas:
"I was RIFed [laid off] from a company for whom I had worked for over 16 years as a highly compensated individual producer. I was shocked. The credit card industry closed in on me and my family was soon forced into bankruptcy. Being around 50 and in Chapter 13 made it impossible for me to find another job. Then the bottom fell out of the housing market. My house was worth $100,000.00 less than I owed on it. I kept thinking I might find a job and trying to get a modification. I exhausted my savings, including my retirement trying to keep everything going because it was so hard to believe that I would be unable to find another job either writing or teaching (I am also a certified teacher). Now my home loan has been modified but if I lose my unemployment I will lose my home. I am finally starting to get more interviews. Eventually I'm sure someone will hire me. But if there is another housing collapse because people lose their unemployment, the economy will start to fall and everyone will stop hiring again. I am getting foreclosure sale notices in my email again. I am frightened. I have three children still in public school. They are in the gifted and talented program. Are we going to throw their futures away too? This is just one story."
These stories of families who are living on the edge demonstrate that extending unemployment benefits, is not only good for families who are struggling to find work, it helps all of us by strengthening the economy. Unemployed workers spend their unemployment insurance benefits because they have to in order to survive. That means that unemployment insurance benefits go right back into the economy, bolstering local businesses and saving jobs.
According to a report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, every dollar spent on benefits increases the domestic product by $1.60. "A failure to extend the unemployment insurance program could hamper the fragile recovery," the report said. It predicts that consumer spending will fall by $50 billion over the next year if benefits are not extended, and that economic growth will be reduced by 0.4 percentage points by February 2011. [2]
Contrary to some of chattering you might hear on cable news, unemployment benefits aren't a disincentive to look for work. In fact, workers have to prove they are actively looking for work to keep collecting their benefits. Thus, there's every incentive to find work, especially since the benefits average just $293 a week, which covers less than half of the average family's expenses for food, housing and transportation.
Take a minute to sign our petition to continue critical federal unemployment insurance benefits and forward this message on to friends and family.
Let's make sure Congress is straight with the American people about fiscal responsibility and does the right thing for middle class families, and for the nation, by reauthorizing the federal unemployment insurance benefits program and keeping our economic recovery on track.
Please take a moment now to forward this email and action link along to friends and family now!
Together, we are a powerful voice for families.
Donna, Kristin, Julissa, Anita and the MomsRising Team

P.S. To hear many more perspectives on why Congress needs to extend unemployment insurance, see the MomsRising blog-a-thon

[1] Obama opposes permanent extension of tax cuts for rich, Reuters.
[2] Extending the Federal Unemployment Insurance Benefit Program, Report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, November 2010


Saturday, November 27, 2010


Kevin Drum’s summary (below) needs to be printed out and pasted on every refrigerator door in America.--KAS

Paying an Arm and a Leg
— By Kevin Drum, in MOTHER JONES| Tue Nov. 23, 2010 9:59 AM PST
So many charts, so little blog. Which chart should I show you from yesterday's release of the latest global comparison of healthcare prices? How about the cost of hip replacements? Here it is:

The "average" number is a little hard to see, so here it is: $34,454. That's 2x what it costs in Germany, 3x what it costs in France, and 6x what it costs in Switzerland. WTF?
This goes a long way toward explaining why hip replacements are so popular in the United States: they're a huge profit center for doctors and hospitals. Keep this in mind the next time someone starts going on about how you never have to wait in line for a hip replacement in America. It's not because our healthcare system is super efficient, it's because doctors are super eager to perform them.
The full set of cost charts is here, and they're pretty instructive. You can, if you want, try to make the case that we perform better hip replacements or do better angioplasties than other countries. But appendectomies? CT scans? Normal deliveries? As Aaron Carroll says about the astonishing numbers for routine CT scans and MRIs:
Why does it cost so much more in the US? Does the radiation work better here? Are the scanners different? If you’re wondering, the CT scanner was invented in the UK, so it’s not like there’s some reason to believe our machines are better....Let’s be clear. I have no problem with things costing more when they are demonstrably better. Or, if you’re getting more of them for your money. But a scan is a scan is a scan. There had better be a good reason for it costing more here, and I can’t think of a good one.
This is one of the reasons healthcare costs so much in America. We aren't getting more for our money, we're just paying a lot more for the same stuff as everyone else.
POSTSCRIPT: One caveat: the report doesn't mention how they convert foreign prices into dollars, and it probably makes a difference whether they apply purchasing power parity adjustments. Not a huge difference, but it's possible that different methodologies would produce modestly different results.


America, this is no way to start out the Christmas Season

America is not about putting people to jail for trying to improve the country and reform its overdependence on aggressive and wasteful military spending and anti-USA projects, like the one in Ft. Benning, Georgia.–KAS

Speaking Truth to Power
David Omondi and Father Louis Vitale Sentenced to Six Months in Federal Prison -- Incarcerated in Georgia Jail

Four human rights activists were in court on Tuesday, November 23 after being arrested and charged with federal trespassing at Ft. Benning, Georgia on November 20 and 21. During their arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles, Nancy Smith and Christopher Spicer pled not guilty. Their trial is set for January 5. Franciscan priest Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM and David Omondi of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker Community pled no contest and put the SOA on trial through their statements in court. Fr. Louis and David were sentenced to the maximum 6 months in jail. While nonviolent resisters are being sent to prison, those responsible for the use of torture manuals at the SOA have never even been charged for their crimes. Father Louis and David are presently in a Georgia county jail.

Write to the prisoners:
Because they may be transferred at any time, cards and letters to David may be sent to his community for forwarding: David Omondi, c/o The Los Angeles Catholic Worker, 632 N. Brittania St., Los Angeles, CA 90033. Louis' mail may be sent to the Nuclear Resister for forwarding at P.O. Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733.

Click here to read the letter that vigil speaker Father Alberto Franco wrote to all the prisoners of conscience from the November vigil and please feel free to ad your own message to the prisoners in the comment section below the letter text!

On Saturday, November 20, twenty-two others were arrested on city and state charges, including unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, and parading without a permit. Two were charged but not taken into custody. Some were blockading the highway leading into Fort Benning with a sign that read, "Stop: This is the End of the Road for the SOA". Many of those arrested were not intending to risk arrest but were swept up as they walked back to their cars after they left the permitted protest following the vigil on Saturday. These included journalists and a Columbus, Georgia resident who came out of a barber shop to take a photo of the protest. The SOA Watch Legal Collective is collecting testimony and photos of the indiscriminate arrests that took place on Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned!

On Sunday, November 21, Columbus Recorder's Court Judge Michael Cielinski found 21 of the 24 who were arrested by the city guilty on all charges. Two were convicted in a state court the next day. All were released from jail by Monday, with fines and bonds as high as $4,152.50. The SOA Watch community stepped up in a big way, supporters maxed out their credit cards at ATMs to ensure that no one had to stay another day in the Muscogee County Jail. Those who were arrested still have to answer state charges, and expect to be arraigned in January.

For more information about the Ft. Benning protest, visit
Photos from the November Vigil:
To view more photos by Linda Panetta, click here!

To view more photos by Linda Panetta, click here!

We appreciate your interest! You are subscribed to the SOA Watch list as

Click here to unsubscribe or change your subscription.

Contact us.

Our mailing address is:
SOA Watch, PO Box 4566, Washington, D.C. 20017, USA

Our telephone: (202) 234 3440

Click here to fund the campaign to close the SOA.


Serendipity: Fighting and Singing Insects—on Beigan, Taiwan November 27, 2010

Serendipity: Fighting and Singing Insects—on Beigan, Taiwan November 27, 2010

By Kevin Stoda, Matsu Islands of Taiwan

About a month ago, my wife and I had seen a program from National Geographic on “the cricket man” and fighting insects of China and Taiwan.

While the role of fighting crickets dates back in Chinese history to over two millennia ago. It is a relatively new sport in Taiwan, where I now live..

That episode of National Geographic, my wife and I had watched was focused primarily on crickets and their trainer in Taiwan. However, part of the program involved a journey to Shanghai with some of these champion crickets for an international match.

That episode of National Geographic focused on the journey of a small-town, but nationally-renowned raiser of crickets. The man, named Ango, has been raising crickets and promoting entomology in schools for many decades.

Till-our-present-day, international cricket combat championships are still held in Beijing, the traditional seat of the Chinese empires. However, crickets and their do-jo masters have made the trip from Japan, Taiwan and the Koreas.

Crickets have far more to offer than fighting skills. Historically, crickets are items for eating connoisseurs throughout Asia. In addition, they have been main (& beloved) and have become characters in Disney movies. Recently, they have played roles in modern alternative music.

Naturally, poets and other romantics have also sung odes to the joy of listening to crickets in the evening. Most of us consider crickets therapeutic and relaxing to listen to.


According to the National Geographic, “The biological features that make crickets want to fight may also offer help for audiologist researchers.”

This is where serendipity or coincidence in space and time fit in with my wife and my experience here in the Matsu Islands this week.

Namely, there is this very weekend a traveling “Singing Insect” exhibition with entomologists and musicologists staying at Ban Li Elementary School where I live and work. Among the leading organizers of this nationally touring exhibition (sponsored by the Quanta Culture & Education Foundation) is Dr. Jen-Yze Yang, Department of Entomology at the National Chung Hsing University.

Dr. Yang was a main character and advisor for the National Geographic program on fighting insects in Taiwan, which I had seen with my wife for the first time in October. Dr. Yang is also President of the Biological Society of the R.O.C (Republic of China or Taiwan). The Quanta Culture & Education Foundation sponsors such touring exhibitions as the one here in Ban Li—and organized by people like R. Yang-- in rural parts of Taiwan, i.e. schools and school districts that have been relatively underfunded (or poor) for decades.

Children along with their teachers have come today from three different islands to take part in the all day learning event and exhibition “Singing Insects”. Today’s program and exhibition focuses, therefore, on katydids (grasshoppers), cicadas, and crickets.

An original exhibition, which explored the nation’s attitude towards insects (especially singing ones) appeared in Taipei in 2009,

One lesson from that exhibition was: “The tradition of keeping singing or fighting insects can be found in other cultures. The Japanese keep katydids as pets to appreciate their singing, and beetle fighting is a traditional form of entertainment in Thailand. Meanwhile, there are cases where a species of singing insect can have very different meanings in different cultures. Locusts, for example, are seen as a curse in some cultures since one of the plagues of Egypt in the Bible was a swarm of locusts, which ate all the country’s crops. But for the Thais, locusts are simply a good source of animal protein. Chan Mei-ling says that the Thai government bans the use of pesticides on crops to avoid ‘contaminating” the locusts, trading starch for animal protein. Locusts in Thailand are either deep-fried before showing up on a dinner table or canned for sale in supermarkets.’”

While in Taiwan, there has been a boon in recent years in the popularity of another larger insect, i.e. the Taiwanese beetles, crickets are certainly making a comeback.

Most students, I interviewed at Ban Li Elementary--who were going to and from the exhibition and presentations on music and insects--stated unequivocally that they loved crickets (and Katydids). I know I am interested and have already learned a lot about the therapeutic workings of cricket singing to me (and to other crickets).

For example, “Young, male crickets that hear their older peers' mating songs are more likely to be better at fighting off infections when they're adults, researchers have discovered. But males raised in silence aren't as good at keeping the same illnesses at bay when they reach maturity.”

I also have come to know that crickets are already making many musicians become more inspired by their sounds (and training in music).

Check out what Robbie Robertson and others have put together with crickets singing the background for a Native American narration.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What was Bush's biggest Lie? Biggest Cover-Up? Most Dangerous Spin for America's present and future?

Bush's Biggest WMD Lie?
— By David Corn
| Fri Nov. 19, 2010 MOTHER JONES

— CreativeCommons/White House
It's official. George W. Bush's selective and self-serving book is a best-seller. He sold 775,000 copies in the first week and the publisher has rushed to print an additional 350,000. The amount of debunking the book deserves could, well, fill a book. But there's one trenchant portion of the book that reeks with hypocrisy. In discussing the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush notes, "That was a massive blow to our credibility—my credibility—that would shake the confidence of the American people." He then adds: "No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn't find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do."
A sickening feeling every time he thought about it? Really? Let's rewind the video back to a moment that crystallized the Bush-Cheney era. It was March 24, 2004. Washington's political and media elite had gathered at the Washington Hilton for the annual Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner, which is something of a cousin to the yearly White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. As thousands of DC's swells enjoyed their surf-and-turf meal, Bush was the entertainment. The tradition is that at such affairs the president is the big speaker, and he has to be amusing, poking fun at himself and his political foes.
Bush was no fan of such gatherings, and he and his aides had decided he ought to narrate a humorous slide show, instead of doing a stand-up routine. Large video screens flashed pictures of him and his aides, which he augmented with funny quips. One showed him on the phone with a finger in his ear. He explained this shot by saying he spends "a lot of time on the phone listening to our European allies." There were humorous bits about his mother and Dick Cheney.
Then Bush displayed a photo of himself looking for something out a window in the Oval Office. His narration: "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." The audience laughed. But the joke wasn't done. After a few more slides, there was a shot of Bush looking under furniture in the Oval Office. "Nope," he said. "No weapons over there." More laughter. Then another picture of Bush searching in his office: "Maybe under here." Laughter again.
Bush was actually joking about the missing weapons of mass destruction. He was making fun of the reason he had cited for sending Americans to war and to death, turning it into a running gag. His smile was wide and his eyes seemed bright, as the audience laughed. At the time I wrote,
Few [in the crowd] seemed to mind. His WMD gags did not prompt a how-can-you silence from the gathering. At the after-parties, I heard no complaints.I wondered what the spouse, child or parent of a soldier killed in Iraq would have felt if they had been watching C-SPAN and saw the commander-in-chief mocking the supposed justification for the war that claimed their loved ones. Bush told the nation that lives had to be sacrificed because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that could be used (by terrorists) against the United States. That was not true. (And as [WMD search team leader David] Kay pointed out, the evidence so far shows these weapons were not there in the first place, not that they were hidden, destroyed or spirited away.) But rather than acknowledge he misinformed the public, Bush jokes about the absence of such weapons.
In yet another act reminiscent of Soviet-style revisionism, Bush in his book does not mention this dinner and his performance there. If he indeed felt ill whenever he pondered the missing WMDs—as he insists in his memoirs—how could he turn this into a crass punchline? Asking that question provides the answer. He is fibbing in his book. Moreover, this small episode is proof of a larger truth: Bush's chronicle is not a serious accounting of his years as the decider. As for the hundreds of thousands of readers who shelled out $35.00 for the book, expecting the former president to level with them, the joke is on them.

If You Liked This, You Might Also Like...
• George W. Bush's Omission Points
What's missing from W.'s memoir? How about the time he floated a plan to provoke a confrontation with Iraq.
• Who Misses George W. Bush?
Bush nostalgia is already in full swing.
• Quote of the Day: The Lies of George W. Bush
• Bush Photoshops Rove Out of Plame Scandal
In an act of historical airbrushing, the ex-president leaves a key player out of his account of the CIA leak case.


NEWS from Mayors Against Illegal Guns to me and YOU

Dear Kevin,
Just before he was murdered, police officer Timothy Brenton was doing what he did best: teaching a rookie how to serve and protect the Seattle community.

The two officers were sitting in their patrol car and discussing a routine traffic stop when, according to the police, Christopher Monfort pulled alongside and opened fire. Rookie officer Britt Sweeney was wounded, and Timothy Brenton died instantly.

Monfort bought the rifle that killed Officer Brenton from an illegal gun trafficker who repeatedly sold guns to violent criminals at gun shows – no background check, no questions asked.1

All across the country, states with lax gun laws are seeing their police officers pay the price. It’s time to protect the men and women who put their lives on the line for us.
Visit to find out how tough your state is on illegal guns and spread the word about the urgent need to close these deadly loopholes.

As part of their groundbreaking investigation The Hidden Life of Guns, the Washington Post has tried to track down the firearms used in the 511 fatal shootings of U.S. law enforcement officials since January of 2000.2

Only two-thirds of the guns could be traced, and the findings on them were bleak.

More than 200 of the shooters owned their guns illegally. In fact, 45 were on probation or parole and at least four had been previously convicted of murder or manslaughter. And 16 times, the killer used a “straw purchaser” to get their gun for them -- yet fewer than half of these straw buyers have ever faced prosecution.

The facts are clear: too many police officers die each year because state laws aren’t tough enough to keep criminals from getting guns. These brave men and women deserve better.

See if your state has laws in place to protect your community from illegal guns:

There’s no excuse for more police officers to lose their lives to illegal guns. Let’s make sure our state lawmakers get serious about gun crime.

Thanks for keeping our communities safe,

Mayors Against Illegal Guns

1 Feds arrest gun dealer..., Seattle Times, November 19, 2010. Article available here.
2 Guns used to kill police officers, The Washington Post, November 21, 2010. Article available here.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

an american obituary


The late Chalmers Johnson was certainly to be respected because he is one the great public officials and academics who grew-up over decades and admitted he had made the errors of youth and came to be respected for criticizing the Imperial American Empire—he had loved overboard as a youth and government intelligence agency.
This is to be contrasted with the aging George Herbert Walker Bush, Dick Cheney, and Henry Kissinger. In a 2007 interview on DEMOCRACY NOW, the distinguished scholar and best-selling author Chalmers Johnson share with us how Americans role in history should be perceived by looking at the Greek God of Revenge-and other models in history and mythology. Only through such modeling can America today be properly evaluated.

CHALMERS JOHNSON: Nemesis was the ancient Greek goddess of revenge, the punisher of hubris and arrogance in human beings. You may recall that she is the one that lead Narcissus to the pond and showed him his reflection, and he dove in and drowned. I chose the title because it seems to be she’s present in our country right now, just waiting to make her, uh, to carry out her divine mission.
By the subtitle, I really do mean it. This is not just hype to sell books. "The last days of the American Republic." I am here concerned with the very real, concrete problem in political analysis, namely that the political system of the United States today, history tells us, is one of the most unstable combination there is. That is, domestic democracy and foreign empire. The choices are stark, a nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, like the old Roman Republic it will lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship.
I have spent some time in the book talking about an alternative, namely that of the British Empire after World War II, in which it made the decision, not perfectly executed by any manner of means, but nonetheless, made the decision to give up its empire in order to keep its democracy. It became apparent to the British quite late in the game that they could keep their, uh, the jewel in their crown, India, only at the expense of it administrative massacres, of which they had carried out often in India. In the wake of the war against Nazism, which had just ended, it became, I think, obvious to the British that in order to retain their empire, they would have to become a tyranny, and they therefore, I believe, properly chose- admirably chose- to give up their empire. As I say, they did not do it perfectly. There were tremendous atavistic fall-backs in the 1950’s in the Anglo-French-Israeli attack on Egypt. In the repression of the Nakuru- the savage repression in Kenya. And then, of course, the most obvious and weird atavism of them all, Tony Blair and his enthusiasm for renewed British imperialism in Iraq. But nonetheless, it seems to me that the history of Britain is clear that it gave up its empire in order to remain a democracy. I believe this is something we should be discussing very hard in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Chalmers Johnson, you connect the breakdown of constitutional government with militarism.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the signs of the breakdown of constitutional government and how it links?
CHALMERS JOHNSON: Well, yes. Militarism is what the social scientists has called the intervening variable, the causative connection. That is to say, to maintain an empire requires a very large standing army, huge expenditures on arms that leads to a military-industrial complex, and generally speaking, a vicious cycle sets up of interests that lead to perpetual series of wars. It goes back to probably the earliest warning ever delivered to us by our first president, George Washington, and his famous farewell address. It’s read at the opening of every new session of Congress. Washington said that the great enemy of the republic is standing armies. It is a particular enemy of republican liberty. What he meant by it is it breaks down the separation of powers into an executive, legislative, and judicial branches that are intended to check each other. This is our most fundamental bulwark against dictatorship and tyranny. It causes it to break down because standing armies, militarism, a military establishment, military-industrial complex all draw power away from the rest of the country to Washington, including taxes. And within Washington they draw it to the presidency, and they begin to create an imperial presidency, who then implements the military’s desire for secrecy, making oversight of the government almost impossible for a member of Congress even, much less for a citizen.
AMY GOODMAN: Chalmers Johnson, you write in your book Nemesis, "Once upon a time you could trace the spread of Imperialism by counting up colonies. America’s version of the colony is the military base." Can you lay out the global picture of American military bases, how many there are, what does the map look like?
CHALMERS JOHNSON: Americans really wouldn’t believe it, to see it, but according to the official count- it’s something called the Base Structure Report, which is an unclassified Pentagon inventory of real property owned around the world and the cost it would take to replace it. There are right now, 737 American military bases on every continent, and well over 130 countries. Some apologists from the Pentagon like to say, "Well, this is false, that we’re counting Marine guards at embassies." I guarantee you that is simply stupid. We don’t have anything like 737 American embassies abroad, and all of these are genuine military bases with all of the problems that that involves.
In the southernmost prefecture of Japan, Okinawa, site of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, there is a small island, smaller than Kauai in the Hawaiian islands, with over a 1,300,000 Okinawans. There are 37 American military bases there. The revolt against them has been endemic for 50 years. The governor is always saying to the local military commander, "You’re living on the side of a volcano that could explode at any time. It has exploded in the past. What this means is just an endless, nonstop series of sexually violent crimes, drunken brawls, hit-and-run accidents, environmental pollution, noise pollution, helicopters falling out of the air from Futenma Marine Corps Air Base and falling onto the campus of Okinawa International University. One thing after another. Back in 1995, we had one of the most serious incidents, when two Marines and a sailor abducted, beat and raped a 12-year-old girl. This led to the largest demonstrations against the United States since we signed the security treaty with Japan decades ago. It’s this kind of thing. I first went to Okinawa in 1996. I was invited by then Governor Ota in the wake of the rape incident. I have devoted my life to the study of Japan, but like many Japanese- many Japanese specialists- I had never been in Okinawa. I was shocked by what I saw. It was the British raj. It was like Soviet troops living in East Germany, more comfortable than they would be back at, say, Oceanside, California, next door to Camp Pendleton. And it was a scandal in every sense. My first reaction–I’ve not made a secret of it, that I was, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, certainly a Cold Warrior. My first explanation was this is simply off the beaten track, that people don’t come down here and report it. As I began to study the network of bases around the world and the incidents that have gone with them and the military coups that have brought about regime change and governments that we approve of, I began to realize that Okinawa was not unusual. It was, unfortunately, typical.
These bases, as I say, are spread everywhere. The most recent manifestation of the American military empire is the decision by the Pentagon now, with presidential approval of course, to create another regional command in Africa. This may either be at the base that we have in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa. In may well be in the Gulf of Guinea, where we are prospecting for oil and the Navy would very much like to put ourselves there. It is not at all clear that we should have any form of American military presence in Africa, but we’re going to have an enlarged one. Invariably, remember what this means: imperialism is a form of tyranny. It never rules through consent of the governed. It doesn’t ask for the consent of the government. We talk about the spread of democracy, but we’re talking about the spread of democracy at the point of an assault rifle. That’s a contradiction in terms. It doesn’t work. Any self respecting person being democratized in this manner starts thinking of retaliation. Nemesis becomes appropriate.
AMY GOODMAN: Chalmers Johnson, author and scholar. That interview from 2007. You can see the entire interview Chalmers Johnson died Saturday at the age of 79.
AMY GOODMAN: The distinguished anti-imperialist scholar, best-selling author Chalmers Johnson has died. He passed away in California on Saturday afternoon at the age of 79. He taught for 30 years of the Berkeley and San Diego campuses of the University of California or he held endowed chairs in Asian politics. He was president of the Japan Policy Research Institute and at Berkeley he chaired the Center for Chinese studies. In a tribute by Steve Klemens of the New America Foundation, Chalmers Johnson is described as, "The most significant intellectual force to have shaped and defined the fundamental boundaries and goalposts of U.S. foreign policy in the Modern Era." Chalmers Johnson served in the Korean War and was a consultant for the CIA’s Allen Dulles between 1967 and 1973. He first visited Japan in 1953 as a U.S. Navy officer and lived and worked for many years with his wife, the anthropologist Sheila Johnson. In 1994, he founded the Japan Policy Research institute. He was a prolific writer and authored some 16 books, numerous articles for The L.A. Times, The London Review of Books, Harper’s Magazine and The Nation.
Over the years, Johnson transformed from a right-wing conservative into an icon of the left and a trenchant critic of U.S. militarism. His last four books focus on American military hegemony and imperialism. He wrote Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of the American Empire in 2000, which became a bestseller after the 9/11 attacks. He went on to complete what would become a trilogy about American empire, Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic, and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. His latest book was published in August, a collection of essays published over the last three years called Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope He was featured prominently in the award-winning documentary Why We Fight. I want to plan excerpt from my last interview with Chalmers Johnson. It was February 2007, and the final volume of his trilogy had just been published. I began by asking him about the title of that book, Nemesis.


Warren Buffett: Read My Lips, Raise OUR (WEALTHY AMERICAN’S) Taxes

Warren Buffett: Trickle-Down Economics Don’t Work
In other economic news, billionaire investor Warren Buffett has told ABC News that the rich should be paying a lot more in taxes and that the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy should be left to expire at the end of December. During the interview, Buffett also dismissed Republican arguments that letting tax cuts expire for the wealthy would hurt economic growth.

Warren Buffett: "I think that people at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it ... The rich are always going to say that, you know, 'Just give us more money, and we'll go out and spend more, and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you.’ But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on."

America certainly needs to have a lot of more straight-talking wealthy, like Warren Buffett. Why can’t Congress get the message?

It’s because foreigners, like Rupert Murdoch and wealthy Republican and Tea Party Wonks control most of American media and schools. Moreover, Citicorp and other bad banks & insurers control our under under-cover-anti-progressive advertisements.-—kas

Warren Buffett: Read My Lips, Raise My Taxes
Billionaire Buffett tells Amanpour Bush-era Tax Cuts for Rich Should Expire
OMAHA, Neb., Nov. 21, 2010
In an exclusive interview on "This Week," Warren
Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, told
Christiane Amanpour that the rich should be paying
more taxes and that the Bush-era tax cuts for the
wealthy should be left to expire at the end of
"If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and
maybe even the upper middle class should even
probably be cut further," Buffett said. "But I think that
people at the high end -- people like myself --
should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it
better than we've ever had it."
The full Buffett interview will air on a special
Thanksgiving edition of "This Week" focused on The
Giving Pledge, a major philanthropic effort
spearheaded by Buffet, and Bill and Melinda Gates.
The billionaire brushed aside Republican arguments
that letting tax cuts expire for the wealthy would hurt
economic growth.
"They say you have to keep those tax cuts, even on
the very wealthy, because that is what energizes
business and capitalism," anchor Amanpour said.
"The rich are always going to say that, you know, just
give us more money and we'll go out and spend more
and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But
that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the
American public is catching on," Buffett explained.
The White House announced on Wednesday that
President Obama will award Buffett a Presidential
Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor,
early next year.


Sunday, November 21, 2010


Thousands Converge at the gates of Fort Benning for 20th Anniversary of November Vigil to Close the SOA


Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Action Followed by Indiscriminate Arrests and Targeting of Journalists. Among those arrested by Columbus Police were three Journalists, including TV News Crew from RT America and Unrelated Bystanders.

Thousands of human rights activists, torture survivors, veterans, faith-based communities, union workers, students, musicians and others from across the Americas are gathered today at the gates of the U.S. military base Fort Benning to call for the closure of the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).

Following the SOA Watch rally, human rights activists brought their nonviolent witness to close the SOA into the street leading onto the military base. The activists briefly shut down the road with a large sign that said, "Stop: This is the End of the Road for the SOA." Their action is part of a longstanding tradition of creative civil disobedience to call attention to the atrocities committed by graduates of the School of the Americas. 10-12 people were arrested, and others charged, including the 90-year old Jesuit priest Bill Brennan, and ordained Catholic priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska.

Two human rights activists crossed onto Fort Benning through the highway entrance. They have been charged with federal trespass and face up to six months in federal prison and a fine up to $5,000.

When the rally participants tried to leave the vigil area, the police blocked off all exit points. After a few minutes, the police allowed people to leave on the sidewalk, only to follow them, indiscriminately arresting people who had neither committed any crimes nor engaged in civil disobedience. Among those arrested was the RT America TV crew, who was filming the police misconduct and bystanders. All arrestees are currently being held in the Muscogee County Jail for up to a $5,500 bond.

SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots organization that works for the closing the
School of the Americas and a change in U.S. foreign policy -


Will the Senate get to Work on START before Republicans Kill it Off America must act in 2010?—LAME DUCK SESSION does not have to go by its namesake

Will the Senate get to Work on START before Republicans Kill it Off America must act in 2010?—LAME DUCK SESSION does not have to go by its namesake.–KAS

Time For A Vote On New START Last week, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta explained that the New START treaty was a test for Republicans to see if they were ready to govern. It now appears as if the GOP is prepared to fail that test. In a sign that nothing is above partisan politics, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the number two Republican in the Senate shocked the White House this week when he abruptly blew up months of negotiations and dismissed the prospects of a vote during the lame duck period. Republicans are stalling, either hoping to kill the treaty quietly to avoid giving President Obama a perceived victory, or to extort so much pork for the nuclear weapons-industrial complex that it makes further progress in this area impossible. Still, the vast majority of Republicans, including Kyl, refuse to say they actually oppose the treaty. The White House therefore is not backing down, as the New York Times writes today, “Mr. Obama on Thursday escalated ratification of the agreement, the so-called New Start treaty, into a public showdown.” After seven months of consideration in the Senate and more than 20 hearings on the treaty, Senate Republicans have had more than enough time to review the treaty. While back room talks with Kyl appear to be continuing, it is now up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to force Republicans to stop their equivocating by holding a vote on the Senate floor.

ENDANGERING NATIONAL SECURITY: By delaying the treaty, Senate Republicans put U.S. national security at risk. The original treaty expired last December, and it has now been 349 days since Americans have been on the ground in Russia monitoring and inspecting the country’s nuclear facilities — a vital provision that has helped maintain post-Cold War nuclear stability. As Vice President Biden said today, “We’re blind now.” The stakes are high, which is why the treaty has the unanimous support of the U.S. military and of a wide array of Republican foreign policy officials. Delaying a vote into the next senate would require that the treaty ratification process start from scratch. This promises to upset the “reset” with Russia, potentially destroying the careful coalition against Iran, which has seen Russia back sanctions and stop the sale of an anti-aircraft missile to Iran. U.S. troops in Afghanistan are also dependent on sensitive supply routes through Russia, which would also be at risk. More broadly, the delay and presumed defeat of the treaty would weaken Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, who pushed the treaty, and strengthen Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Perhaps even worse is the impact on stopping states from acquiring nuclear weapons. Ambassador Richard Burt, who negotiated the original START treaty on behalf of President Reagan, said on PBS this week, “There are only two governments in the world that wouldn’t like to see this treaty ratified, the government in Tehran and the government in North Korea.”

PARTY ABOVE COUNTRY: Editorial pages in newspapers throughout the U.S. erupted in anger at news of Kyl’s stunt. He was described as “narrow-minded,” politically “craven,” and as putting forth “lame excuses.” West Virginia’s Charleston Gazzette noted, “What a galling situation. Kyl cares more about playing politics than about protecting America.” The New York Times editorialized, “The world’s nuclear wannabes, starting with Iran, should send a thank you note to Senator Jon Kyl. … [T]he objections from Mr. Kyl — and apparently the whole Republican leadership — are so absurd that the only explanation is their limitless desire to deny President Obama any legislative success.” The San Jose Mercury News summed it up, “If you doubted that Republicans could be so craven as to put their own political interests above national security, the proof was delivered Tuesday: Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl announced he will block New START.” Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), the leading nuclear expert in the Senate and treaty backer, unloaded on his Republican colleagues for their dithering this week: “The Republican caucus is tied up in a situation where people don’t want to make choices. … Every senator has an obligation in the national security interest to take a stand, to do his or her duty. Maybe people would prefer not to do his or her duty right now. … There are still thousands of missiles out there. You better get that through your heads.”

FORCE A VOTE: Despite much of the press reporting, Kyl doesn’t run the Senate. Majority Leader Reid does. It is now up to Reid to find the time on the Senate floor to overcome Kyl’s inevitable obstructionism, which will draw out the process taking up considerable senate floor time. Importantly, the vast majority of Republicans, including Kyl, have not said they oppose the treaty. It is time to force them to make a decision. As Podesta explained in Politico yesterday, Reid and the White House have nothing to lose by forcing a vote: “Even if Republicans are actually willing to vote against New START in the lame duck session, why would anyone think they would more cooperative next year? Delay would simply reinforce partisan stalling tactics.” Lugar sent a clear message to Reid and the White House: “I’m advising that the treaty should come on the floor so people will have to vote aye or nay [even if there's no deal with Kyl]. … I think when it finally comes down to it, we have sufficient number or senators who do have a sense of our national security. This is the time, this is the priority. Do it.” Given that 73 percent of Americans support the New START treaty, according to a just released CNN poll, the stance of Kyl and Senate Republicans is proving incredibly unpopular, and the time to have a vote is now.



If you liked this author’s work on citizenship and Islam in the prior interview interview , check out an even more powerful piece.–KAS


By Rashid Al-Ghannoushi

Till our present day, there are still some Islamic groups that consider democracy to be un-Islamic, and maintain the hatred of freedom as their tradition. They argue that ‘there is no freedom in Islam’ and claim that freedom is restricted by the rulings of Shari`ah (Islamic Law). This would make Islam a dreadful contrast to freedom, and takes place at a time when Muslim people are suffering from despotism to the extent that Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the leading figure of Islamic moderation, gives priority to the requirement of freedom over the application of Shari`ah. In his book “Min Fiqh Ad-Dawlah Fil Islam” [Fiqh of the State in Islam], Al-Qaradawi states, “The first battle of the Islamic awakening and the Islamic movement in our time is the battle for freedom. All sincere Muslims must unite to call for freedom and defend it, as it is indispensable and has no substitute.”

A Worrying and Alarming Islamic Discourse

Acting Hesitantly in Fully Recognizing the Principle of Citizenship

Women and Political Leadership

Non-Muslims and Political Leadership

The Muslim Ummah is the Guarantor

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi is in no need of being reminded, since he is more knowledgeable on this issue, that freedom is one of the main objectives of Shari`ah. However, Al-Qaradawi addresses the audience of the Islamic movement who have come to understand Shari`ah as a group of warnings, punishments, and restrictions on freedom. Hence, he addressed them in a language they can comprehend. This means that the culture of freedom needs to be deepened and propagated.

A Worrying and Alarming Islamic Discourse
The general tendency among the Islamic movement is to rush to embrace democracy, taking part in it when the despotic powers give them some space to do so. The bitter experiences that the Islamic movement underwent at the hands of despotic powers may be the greatest motivation for this engagement in a way that makes practice come before theory, as the progression of theoretical conviction proceeds slowly.

However, the main problem at the present time does not lie in convincing Islamists about democracy, but in convincing despotic leaders. In most cases, this act is looked upon as a violation of the common norm to the extent that military rulers, who have no roots in their societies, frequently boast that they do not recognize Islamic movements, while these movements have large numbers of followers everywhere and were established even before these military rulers were born. There is no justification for this act except the logic of despotism and their feeling of personal ownership of the state and society.

Undoubtedly, current regimes and the international powers that support them remain the main obstacles to the yearnings of our Muslim Ummah to attain freedom and take part in the positive democratic trend which is spreading throughout the whole world today, with the exception of Arab countries. Some aspects of the Islamic discourse presented by the moderate Islamic movement – which is the core of our interest in this regard for it is the principal body of contemporary Islam upon which we pin our hopes – are still hesitant to proceed with freedom and democracy to the end, to say nothing of extremist movements. In addition, they are hesitant to entrust believers with complete confidence in connecting the destiny of the Islamic project with their consciousness and admitting that they are the sole possessors and source of power, instead of suspecting them, taking guardianship over them, and feeling fear for the Islamic project from them.

Acting Hesitantly in Fully Recognizing the Principle of Citizenship
The Madinah Constitution introduced an important precedent for the building of a state on the grounds of the principle of citizenship

The principle of citizenship is considered the legal basis for the distribution of rights and duties, as well as equality before the law, irrespective of differences in religion, race, and schools of thought. There are many respectable Islamic circles within the moderate Islamic movement that are still hesitant to recognize secular parties within an Islamic state. In spite of the fact that the document of the Muslim Brotherhood in acknowledging diversity is an advanced step, it did not mention anything concrete in this respect. The heritage of the Muslim Ummah and its previous convictions are distinct from its counterparts regarding the issue of religious and sectarian acceptance.

Furthermore, at the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, the Madinah Constitution introduced an important precedent for the building of a state on the grounds of the principle of citizenship. This Constitution made a distinction between religion and citizenship, where it considered the Muhajirun (Emigrants from Makkah to Madinah) and the Ansar (Helpers, inhabitants of Madinah who supported the Prophet) and their followers as one nation to the exclusion of other people. It was the nation of belief. It also considered the Jews, along with their various tribes, as one nation to the exclusion of other people. As such, the Constitution of Madinah combined both Muslims and Jews and described them as one nation to the exclusion of other people. It was the nation of politics on the basis of citizenship. Besides, the historical example of the Islamic state, which was based on the legality of conquest, collapsed and was replaced by national states on the grounds of equal participation in citizenship.

For this reason, there is no evidence that justifies fearing for Islam from diversity and freedom in general. In fact, all the disasters, which have afflicted Islam and Muslims, resulted from the absence of both freedom and diversity. If there is a true danger that we should worry about for the future of Islam, it is intellectual stagnation and the despotism of Muslim rulers. As for freedom, it is a boon, bliss, and one of the major objectives of Shari`ah. The absence of freedom would lead to the absence of people’s humanity and Islam would become subject to the gravest of all perils. How could Islamists ask governing political parties, the majority of which are secular parties, to recognize them while they are still unwilling to recognize them in return?
Some people have gone too far in their restriction of women’s rights, to the extent of depriving the community and the Islamic movement of their participation in the political process

This is a kind of dualism which cannot be justified or approved by any means. The powers of the Muslim Ummah will inevitably carry on exchanging denial and suppression, instead of exchanging recognition, communication, and authority. It has never been proven that the State of Madinah rejected any group on the grounds of difference in religion or difference in politics. This act is a branch of the Islamic principle that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ nor, with greater reason, in politics. Hence, it is possible for Islamic parties, in their various trends, to be established in the Islamic state as long as they are loyal to it and adhere to peace. In this way, such parties can contribute to building the interstate and interfaith communication project. Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, (O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah are the most pious…) (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Women and Political Leadership
It is widely considered that Islam’s restriction of women’s political leadership is one of the most firmly established rulings and religious matters in Islam. However, the whole issue belongs – as it is the case with most of the affairs of politics and governance – to the field of juristic interests and managing life affairs. Some people have gone too far in their restriction of women’s rights, to the extent of depriving the community and the Islamic movement of their participation in the political process, both as a voter and as a candidate to be elected. It is not strange in this regard to mention the story of the Kuwaiti women’s struggle to obtain the right of political participation, and the resistance of the Islamic movement in allowing this participation. However, this issue was solved through a royal decree, which ordained their participation in elections. Yet, the main Islamic movement, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, has acknowledged the political participation of women in all posts and leadership positions except the post of head of state.

This conforms to traditional Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), which forbade women from assuming the greatest guardianship, namely becoming head of state, on the grounds of the hadith which reads, “A People ruled by a woman will never prosper.” However, this hadith does not have one meaning, as they wished it to have. Rather, it swings – as Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali pointed out – between being informative about the lack of prosperity of the Persians, and giving glad tidings for the prosperity of Muslims. In this context, it can be considered a description of an emergent incident related to Chosroes’s daughter, and involving a juristic ruling. So how could this hadith, which deprives one half of the Muslim community from its rights and duty of participation in the public political process, be approved and become acceptable as a rule in constitutional Fiqh? Such a rule recognizes conclusive texts that acknowledged the principle of equality, such as the texts related to enjoying good and forbidding evil. Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, (And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong) (At-Tawbah 9:71). There are many other Qur’anic verses to the same effect.

If we take it for granted that the above-mentioned hadith has only one meaning regarding forbidding women from assuming the highest political post, then it must also be pointed out that this post has now completely vanished, and has been replaced by emirates and limited national leaderships. The state has turned, in modern times, into an institution ruled by laws and systems that prevent autocracy and that have turned the presidency into little more than a symbolic institution. As such, political decisions according to the law must be taken by the majority, and after consultation with the governing council.

The main objective in all cases is to work on fulfilling the common interest, regardless of gender. In addition, the interest of the Muslim Ummah does not depend on the gender of the ruler but on his ability to achieve justice, which is the main objective of Shari`ah-based policies. Where justice exists is where Allah’s Law is found. In spite of the fact that Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi was not one of those who supported women’s participation in parliamentary leadership or assuming the post of head of state, he found himself with the dilemma of choosing between two candidates, one male and the other female. As Al-Mawdudi considered the female candidate to be more suitable for the post, he therefore chose her. Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, (And the male is not like the female…) (Al `Imran, 3:36) This verse was a kind of entertainment for Maryam’s mother, who was expecting a male, but instead gave birth to a daughter. When she felt sad, she received divine assurance to console and inform her that the female whom she gave birth to was better than the male that she had wished for. (Quoted from Tafsir At-Tahrir Wa At-Tanwir )

This controversy reminds me of a relevant incident. Once I was in Pakistan to take part in a conference organized by Al-Jama’ah Al-Islamiyyah (the Islamic Party), when Benazir Bhutto was in government and Nawaz Sharif was in opposition. Nawaz Sharif attended the conference, and it was not long before a leaflet was distributed to conference participants, who were from all over the Muslim world. The leaflet included a Fatwa (legal opinion), which forbade women from assuming the highest political post while taking as evidence the above-mentioned hadith, and everyone was asked to sign it. When I received this leaflet, I refused to sign it. I felt greatly cheated by this professional politician who wanted to make use of what little he knew about our culture. Then, I began asking my brethren, saying, “What are the main features that you would like to see in your leaders? Is it not true that justice is present among you according to Shari`ah? If you are certain of their justice and righteousness, then you can investigate other subsidiary features, such as gender, color, and tribe.”

Non-Muslims and Political Leadership
This is one of the problems that caused controversy within Islamist circles, especially in their relation with non-Muslim citizens, when the Muslim Brotherhood raised it among the contents of a draft document for consultation to establish a political party where they were reserved on the issue of non-Muslims assuming the post of head of state. Despite the fact that many Arab constitutions make Islam one of its conditions when assuming the post of head of state without opposition or uproar, the Muslim Brotherhood’s adoption of the same stance was met with a wide wave of protest. The Muslin Brotherhood are not innovators in this matter, but are mere followers of the known ruling in the main Islamic references on Shari`ah-based policy. I am of the view that they did not properly appreciate the set of circumstances surrounding them, especially given the fact that the whole issue is a mere hypothesis. The current state of affairs in Egypt is very far from allowing any Copt to assume the post of head of state, even if the Muslim Brotherhood was to support it.

The Copts in Egypt find extreme difficulty to even become members of the People’s Assembly, except by direct appointment of a limited number of Copts by the President. In addition, the Egyptian ruling party does not accept the nomination of Copts on its lists, as their opportunities for success in the political arena are almost nil. How then is it the case when the post of head of state is still under the grip of the army? This makes the controversy surrounding this issue purely theoretical, and part of the campaign that targets the Muslim Brotherhood in order to warn people about them and incite public opinion against them. Hence, it would be much better if the Muslim Brotherhood didn’t allow their enemies to benefit from this opportunity, by keeping silent in this regard, as such an issue is a form of what Ash-Shatibi considered to be ‘engaging in what is useless’. Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood should abide by this condition without alluding to the fact that it is a constitutional prerequisite.

If we assumed the existence of a Coptic citizen who enjoys wide popularity and great national fame that makes him qualified to assume such a post, and then actually wins this post through fair elections, this would not be considered a national disaster or a religious wrongdoing. The Muslim Ummah is safeguarded against deviation when they have freedom of choice. Egypt has witnessed Coptic leaders in the past with a high degree of patriotism and popularity, such as Makram Ebeid. In addition, some of Hasan Al-Banna’s advisers and close friends were Copts.
The project of the Islamic as well as the democratic movements in general is to emancipate all states from the plague of autocracy and despotism

Likewise, Syria has witnessed the rule of a Christian Prime Minister, Faris Al-Khuri, who was known for his good performance and excellent relations with Islam and Islamists. He did not lay the country in ruins, but left behind a good legacy. If only those revolutionary Muslims who succeeded him in power would follow his course!

So, why should we move with such controversy when searching for the fittest, the most qualified, and fairest?! Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, ((Joseph) said: Set me over the storehouses of the land. Lo! I am a skilled custodian.) (Yusuf 12:55) Allah (Exalted be He) also says, (O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.) (Al-Qasas 28:26). Hence, the project of the Islamic as well as the democratic movements in general is to emancipate all states from the plague of autocracy and despotism, whatever the kind and level of the nominee’s religiosity and righteousness.

Our problem at the present time lies with our severe and tough male rulers, who would be more kind with us if they were females. In addition, if these rulers were affiliated to a Muslim minority, they would be more hesitant to suppress us for fear that they may be accused of doing so to subdue our religion. It may be for this reason that the successors of colonialism were more crushing and subduing than the colonialists themselves.

It may be for this reason too that the Khawarij preferred the leadership of the non-Qurashite so it would be easy for them to dethrone him. Furthermore, Nigeria’s Muslim generals were tougher with their people than the Christian civil ruler who succeeded them in democracy. The axioms of the Shari`ah-based policy have reported in the past that Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) will grant victory to the just nation even if it is non-Muslim, and will not grant victory to the unjust nation even if it is Muslim. Hence, the main objective of leadership is the fulfillment of justice, efficiency, bringing about the interests of the people, and the prevention of harm to citizens. When we get away from the fury of controversy into the real state of affairs, we will immediately discover that indulging in such an issue is useless.

We therefore have to confront our real problems and take up our positions on the battlefield, not outside the battlefield. The battle of the Muslim Ummah today lies with despotism, division, international sovereignty, and despots and their heirs. Hence, you should remain on the battlefield. The real state of affairs witnesses the escape of believers from Muslim countries, which are ruled by unjust Muslims to non-Muslim countries, which are governed by those who express the will of their people. Since the opposite is not true, then you have to be alert!

In fact, the incidents we confront are very complicated and cannot be resolved by autocratic thought. The Islamists of Sudan found themselves under the yoke of the real state of affairs. Hence, they were obliged, in order to keep the unity of their homeland, to give concessions that seem to be momentous. Among these concessions are recognizing the right of self-determination for the inhabitants of the South, sharing power with them, submitting to the principle of citizenship as the basis of civil rights and the assumption of official posts. This results in giving non-Muslims the right to assume any post, including the post of head of state. So, why should we then move only under the yoke of necessity? Why do we not understand the requirements of our world and, hence, benefit from them and make use of them, instead of continuing to run after them?

The Muslim Ummah is the Guarantor
Among the reservations of some Islamists concerning democracy is accepting the will of the people through polls, as stated in the draft of the Muslim Brotherhood’s program. They suggested the establishment of a board from amongst senior Muslim scholars, to be in-charge of giving counsel to the People’s Assembly in all religious affairs without making their opinion obligatory upon the Assembly. However, counter-propaganda has interpreted the suggestion in the worst way by recalling the example of the ‘Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists’ and associating it with this suggestion. In light of this accusation, the program of the Muslim Brotherhood was read in a way that defaced all the important reform aspects which it suggested.

In this sense, it may be that the Arabic proverb ‘Baraqish plunged herself into misfortune’ can be applied to the presenters of this suggestion because of what they offered their opponents, who are waiting for opportunities to defame them, make people fear them, and present them as the ones who pounce upon the gains of a new community and want to give its reigns back to the clergy.

Again, the Muslim Brotherhood did not need to justify the agreement of laws with a constitution stipulating that Shari`ah is the primary source of legislation. Hence, consigning the task to an elected constitutional assembly or to the State Council, along with its efficient and experienced judges, would guarantee this task is carried out in a much better way than can be done by Azharite Sheikhs working in an ailing institution that was subjected to severe marginalization until it became, along with its sheikhdom, a source of scorn.

It would have been more beneficial to spend that effort in saving the guardians of freedom such as the press, and the fairness of elections, as this would leave no space for despotism or the creation of institutions that are not of the people’s will. Thus, there would be no reason to worry about Islam from the elected members who express the will of their Ummah. The real peril comes from the Pharaoh-like and Korah-like leaders. One of the priority issues of Prophet Muhammad was to release people from the shackles that bind them. Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, (… He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them) (Al-A`raf 7:157)


Sharing "An Interview on Freedom & Citizenship in Islam"

Too often Western christians make up their own views on Islam--i.e. as an unchanging enemy of their faith--without a review of ongoing discussion. Here is one such discussion.--KAS

Sheikh Al-Ghannoshi's First Interview with Onislam
An Interview on Freedom & Citizenship in Islam

By Hady Yahmad Correspondent - France
Thursday, 11 November 2010 12:24
Sheikh Rashid Al-Ghannoshi

In a special interview with, the Islamic thinker Rashid Al-Ghannoshi, Head of the Tunisian Renaissance Movement, said that it is important to review many widespread concepts that are considered unchangeable in the structure of Islamic thought.

Sheikh Al-Ghannoshi said that “due to certain historical circumstances”, rigorous interpretations and exegesis have in the past controlled the path of Islamic thought. He emphasized the importance of advocating giving contemporary human values, such as "citizenship" and "freedom", their suitable weight, as it is a necessity for Islamic jurisprudence to deal with contemporary issues and reality in a positive way.

It is obvious that "The New World for Islam" in Europe, compared to what Sheikh Al-Ghannoshi calls "The Old World", is what enabled him to find in Islamic heritage new authentications of the values of coexistence with others. Sheikh Al-Ghannoshi mentions the fiqh of Al Mazery, a scholar from Tunisia, who urged the Muslims of Sicily to remain in their homes in spite of the downfall of the Muslim kingdom in the island, in comparison with another scholar, Al Wansherecy from Morocco, who urged the Muslims of Andalusia to migrate to "the land of Islam". Ghannoshi commented by saying that history sustained Al Wansherecy because of the prevailing fanaticism at the time (in Europe) that caused a long age of darkness.

The Interview:

OnIslam (OI): In one of your latest writings, you present Islamic foundations for the concept of “citizenship” in the West, and you criticize some historic concepts that originate from Islamic thought, such as the notion of “allegiance and disavowal” (al-wala' wal baraa'). You also criticize the statement made by Sayyed Qutb that “the nationality of a believer is his faith”. Are we heading toward rephrasing Islamic fiqh opinions in light of new contemporary realities, such as the growing Muslim presence in the West?

Sheikh Rashid Al-Ghannoshi: Praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. Let me first congratulate Muslims everywhere on the birth of, imploring Almighty Allah to make it a source of truth and guidance for all.

The issue is not related to reconsidering some fundamental concepts that are counted among the unchangeable principles of Islam, but reviewing some aspects of the political culture that prevailed in the past. Such culture was not an essential part of Islam but a reflection of predominant conditions under some political regimes that created such notions and cultures that suited them at the time. An example is the concept of “the abode of war and the abode of peace” (dar al-harb wa dar al-islam) that formed an expression of the pattern of international relations at the time, which were governed by war, to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. All lands outside the Muslim state were therefore deemed abodes of war, and the same was true for non-Muslims with regard to their relationship with Muslims.

However, war is not something to be sought or desired in Islam. War should only be resorted to when it is necessary and unavoidable, and it is not the default rule in dealing with non-Muslims who choose peace and forsake aggression. In the Qur’an, Allah says: (And if they incline to peace, then incline to it and trust in Allah; surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing.) (Al-Anfal 8:61) And He also says: (Fighting is enjoined on you, though it is an object of dislike to you.) (Al-Baqarah 2:216)

When these concepts dominate international relations, human rights disappear, including the right to choose one’s faith and live by it without any compulsion or threat. Under such situation, a Muslim would not be able to practice his faith in a country not ruled by Islam. This was the case for long periods when religious fanaticism took root, in Christianity and other religions. Consequently, the Muslim presence was falling and getting weaker and unable to defend itself. What happened in Al-Andalus and Southern Italy is a very clear example. It was within this context that Muslim scholars at the time, like the Moroccan scholar Al-Wansharisi, issued fatwas for Muslims remaining there after the collapse of the ruling Muslim emirates one after the other, that they were obligated to leave their homes and immigrate to Muslim lands; otherwise they would be sinful.

Other scholars, on the other hand, such as the Tunisian Imam Al-Mazri, gave fatwas to the Muslims living in Southern Italy following the collapse of Muslim rule that they had to remain there and call others to Islam in the hope of restoring Muslim presence in this land. However, history attested to the fatwa of Al-Wansharisi due to the predominant environment of fanaticism that darkened Europe for a long period of time. Would Al-Wansharisi and other like-minded scholars hold onto their fatwas if they saw millions of Muslims living in the same country of our forefathers, Spain, along with their mosques, schools and shops, having their full rights under non-Muslim, yet democratic, rule that recognizes the freedom of belief and religious practice? Indeed, such is the case of millions, even hundreds of millions of Muslims around the globe.
Many of those living in the new abodes of Islam enjoy rights and freedoms not enjoyed in the old abodes of Islam

Is it of benefit to Islam to call on one third of contemporary Muslims around the world who live as minorities in non-Muslim countries to leave their homelands and immigrate to "the abode of Islam", regardless of the changing times and circumstances? I wonder if this would benefit Islam in any way. In fact, this would be a nice present offered by some ignorant Muslims to far-right fascist leaders who are greatly disturbed by the rapid Muslim growth that is taking place without any war or battle. Yet, this growth is made possible under contemporary human and democratic values that have now been known in the West for the first time in its history, enabling millions of Muslims to establish a blossoming Muslim life there. Such climate has always existed in Muslim lands where adherents of different faiths lived freely under the tolerance and pluralism of this great religion.

Moreover, it is not practically possible to deport all these hundreds of millions of people and uproot them from their homes. In fact, many of those living in the new abodes of Islam enjoy rights and freedoms not enjoyed in the old abodes of Islam, many parts of which are suffocating under corrupt, authoritarian regimes.

OI: Do you mean to say that “the abode of war” is no longer a concept that can offer an accurate perception of the fiqh of reality in Western countries today, and therefore inapplicable and in need of renewal?

Al-Ghannoshi: Yes, I do. Let me clarify my point by an example. I performed the dawn Prayer today in the nearby mosque where I live in west London, after which I sat for a short lecture. And I waited until the sun rose to perform the duha Prayer. Thereafter, I looked up some references in the mosque’s library before leaving, and then went back home without any harm. The mosque’s guard waited for the departure of the last worshipper to lock the doors of the main hall, leaving a small room open for any latecomer or passing-by worshipper. When the time for the noon Prayer arrives, the doors reopen for worship, recital of the Qur’an and learning, all day till the last evening Prayer.

The case is otherwise in many mosques in the old "abodes of Islam", where the state holds sway over everything including these sacred places (i.e. mosques). Some of those regimes ban learning in the mosque unless authorized by the concerned minister, as is the case in Tunisia. Those who do not observe this ban would be detained. Also, the mosques’ doors are closed once Prayer is finished and they only reopen minutes before the next Prayer. There is no talk in these countries about political freedoms, freedom of expression, independence of the judiciary, or power-sharing.

So, I find no reasonable ground to regard the countries where Muslims and others enjoy the freedom to choose their religion, practice it and call others to it and even the freedom to participate in governance, as abodes of war. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is a case in point. When his hometown, Makkah, tightened the restrictions on him, and its arrogant leaders refused to embrace Islam or let anyone do so, the Prophet searched diligently for a free land where he would be able to call to his religion. Hence, the migration (hijrah) to Abyssinia took place, then to Yathrib - a hijrah from despotism to freedom.

That is why the connection which formed between a Muslim and his nationality is merely a historic incident imposed by an environment dominated by fanaticism, and not an essential part of Islam. The noble Qur'an mentions the case of some Muslims who were not living in the abode of Islam, as they remained in Makkah and did not immigrate to Madinah to dwell under the sovereignty of the newly-established Muslim state. This is related in a Qur'anic verse that reads: (And those who believed but did not leave their homes, ye have no duty to protect them till they leave their homes) (Al-Anfal 8:72)

The fact that they accepted to live under a non-Muslim sovereignty did not drive them out of the fold of Islam, but this stripped them of the right to protection enjoyed only by the citizens of the Muslim state, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. This emphasizes that the land of the state constitutes a pillar of its conception. Those who do not dwell in the land of the Muslim state can have the rights of brotherhood in Islam, which is still surpassed by the brotherhood of citizenship. They enjoy protection by the Muslim state, yet within the limits allowed by its interests and treaties, as revealed in the Qur'an: (And if they seek aid from you in the matter of religion, aid is incumbent on you except against a people between whom and you there is a treaty; and Allah sees what you do.) (Al-Anfal 8:72)

This broadens the concept of the abode of Islam to include every country where a Muslim enjoys the right to openly and safely practice his religious rituals, as illustrated by the verifying scholars (muhaqqiqun), such as the scholar of Hadith Yusuf Al-Jadee` in his book "the Abode of War and the Abode of Peace". This right is guaranteed today in all democratic nations, many of which, unfortunately, do not belong to the traditional abode of Islam.

OI: Can I understand from what you said that the concept of citizenship needs a renovated call for authenticating its principles within contemporary Islamic thought?

Al-Ghannoshi: Given today's reality, we should reconsider a number of concepts, including that of citizenship, a concept upon which the contemporary state is built. Under this concept, citizens living in a particular country share the ownership of its land regardless of whether they share the same faith. Thus, all citizens have equal rights. This concept has roots in Islam, as it was stressed in the constitution of Madinah (Sahifat Al-Madinah). This constitution was established by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and Al-Sahifa was intended to organize coexistence in the multi-faith society of Madinah.

That said, let me stress the fact that Islam is not merely a personal religion, as it also serves as a legal and moral reference for its followers through the institution of Shura (collective consultation), according to which contemporary democratic mechanisms should be defined. In this way, the institution of Shura will change from being a mere source of moral values and lessons proclaimed powerfully by a brave sheikh in the face of a tyrant, to an institution by means of which the entire Ummah can exercise its authority and supervision over its rulers. To this end, we should have elected bodies that truly represent the different trends of public opinion. In fact, this guarantees that people's representatives will not introduce policies or legislations that are inconsistent with what they agree upon and believe in, and what they consider being in the interests of the nation.
Should the barriers between this religion and people be erased, they would embrace it in droves. That is why freedom is a blessing for Islam

It befits the callers to Islam in such a case, when there is no longer repression or authoritarianism, to dispel any fear they may have from the effect of freedom on Islam. Islam in itself is a revolution of liberty, and it is the natural disposition upon which human beings were created. As such, Islam is not alien to the human soul. Should the barriers between this religion and people be erased, they would embrace it in droves. That is why freedom is a blessing for Islam. In a free market, the commodity of Islam will not go unnoticed. Here lies the wisdom behind the challenge that is repeatedly put before the enemies of Islam in the Qur'an, the everlasting Book of the Ummah:

(Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful.) (Al-Baqarah 2:111)

(Lo! we or you assuredly are rightly guided or in error manifest.) (Saba' 34:24)

(Say: Then bring some (other) book from Allah which is a better guide than both of them, (that) I may follow it, if you are truthful.) (Al-Qasas 28:49)

Indeed, this challenge would become meaningless in the absence of mutual competition and struggle, and it would only express a feeling of fear and lack of confidence in this noble message and the man to whom it was sent.

OI: In line with your approach for eliminating the concept of "the abode of war and the abode of peace", and your view that the West has transformed into an abode of Islam following the shifts it witnessed over the last centuries, and given its respect for the value of freedom, does this approach aim at forming a new Islamic perspective that establishes the value of freedom as a main pillar of a new Islamic fiqh?

Al-Ghannoshi: As emphasized by great contemporary reformers, such as Gamal Ad-Din Al-Afghani, `Abdur-Rahman Al-Kawakbi, Muhammad `Abduh, Hassan Al-Banna, Sayyed Qutb, and Abu Al-A`la Al-Maududi, Islam is a comprehensive revolution of freedom, and it strips the worship of any meaning if the performer lacks freedom. Any contract or promise a person makes has no meaning unless he is free, nor does his very humanity. Liberty is a value with which human beings were honored by Almighty Allah, to the point that the angels were commanded to prostrate themselves before our father, Adam (peace be upon him), though they are creatures who (Glorify (Him) night and day; they flag not.) (Al-Anbiyaa' 21:20) And (They do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, and do as they are commanded.) (At-Tahrim 66:6) Although man was described in the Qur'an as ingrate, hasty, and mostly argumentative, he still has a mind and enjoys freedom that makes it possible for him to reconsider his state, rectify himself, ask Almighty Allah for forgiveness, and return to the path of guidance.

The bottom line is that Islam was not subject to damage or disease as that inflicted by authoritarian and unjust rulers who brought down the rightly-guided rule of Shura and freedom. The most prominent aspects of conflicts in the history of Islam were the conflict between the rule by Shura under the rightly-guided Caliphate and the other patterns of rule that rose against it, being tainted by the impurities of ignorant tribalism and influenced by the two dominant models of Roman and Persian rule. It may come as surprise to say that even Islamic conquests aimed for establishing freedom and justice. This was plainly and succinctly expressed by Rib`i ibn `Amir (may Allah be pleased with him) when he was asked by the chief of staff of the Persian Empire, "What brought you here?", and he replied, "We have come here to drive you out of the injustice of different religions to the justice of Islam."

The revolutions that emerged throughout Islamic history were inspired by the model of freedom born with the very beginning of this history. Yet with the succession of ages and the prevalence of temptations, the Muslim culture witnessed a radical shift toward laying the foundations and paving the way for tyrannical and unjust regimes, similar to what monks and rabbis had previously done. Scientific and political revolutions were therefore coupled with rebellion against religions. And there emerged a conflict between freedom and faith, between science and religion, and between the rule of Allah and the rule of man. Such conflict has no room in Islam and its civilization.

It was the revolution of Islam that laid the foundation of this Ummah and established therein the pillars of civilization and liberty. The more the meaning of liberty in Islam declines in favor of coercion in belief, imitation in fiqh, rigid approach in upbringing, authoritarian rule in politics, the more the lights of the Muslim civilization fade away and the Ummah falls into a state of decadence. No wonder then when reform is associated with the call for liberty in the mentioned areas that are satanically united in defense of the ruling tyrants.

It is because of waves of fanaticism joined by a legacy of despotism, seclusion, takfir (declaring others unbelievers), sectarianism, and rejection of freedom that the call for liberty appeared alien, suspicious, and disapproved of. In fact, the call for liberty lied at the roots of every movement of reform in the history of the Ummah, restoring it to the pure sources of revelation and interacting with the new developments, discoveries, experiences, or problems. Then, attempts were made to introduce new solutions to these newly experienced problems.

To achieve the above, we must deepen, expand, and lay a firm foundation for liberty, without which no creativity, civilization, or advance is possible. Even more, the laws of Islam may not be properly applied in the absence of freedom. We cannot establish a healthy Islamic life, revive the Islamic civilization, or develop a sound Islamic fiqh without minds and souls that are free from all kinds of repression and tyranny. It comes as no surprise then that the heart of the Ummah, the Arab world, represents the black hole in the sphere of liberty on the global level due to intensifying international subjugation intended to paralyze its ability to move and act, lest the whole Ummah will follow it, causing a great shift in the world's balance of power. Yet, a time will surely come when the giant will become restless and get ready for an eruption of great change.

Interview published on the Arabic web site of in October 2010, and translated into English by Ahmed Al-Gharbawy


Saturday, November 20, 2010


The following petition, initiated earlier this week by Tom Hayden and others, has been endorsed by the Steering Committee of Historians Against the War. Organizers are hoping to amass 5,000 or more signatures (the count now is 3,300) by tomorrow, November 19, when President Obama arrives in Lisbon to present the NATO summit meeting with an Afghanistan proposal that includes four more years of combat.

The petitition can be signed at

Jim O'Brien
co-chair, Historians Against the War

Background (Preamble):

We object to the United States proposal for Afghanistan being presented this week to NATO ministers.

It is not a peace plan. It is a plan for four more years of combat by US and NATO forces.

It is not a plan for US or Western troop withdrawals but for further occupation. It is a proposal to gradually lessen Western casualties and lessen Western visibility while transitioning to Western-financed, Western-armed, and Western-advised Afghan army combat in a civil conflict. It is a plan for long-term Western military bases.

It is not a plan to stop al Qaeda or terrorists from attacking Western targets. There are virtually no al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. The most recent terrorist attacks on America have been inspired by our deepening wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In seeking to save our military reputation, we all but assure future threats against Western targets. CIA officials even describe Yemen’s al Qaeda cell as more dangerous than al Qaeda in Pakistan. [NYT, Oct. 18, 2010]

It pre-empts the Administration’s own proposal for a full “review” of Afghan policy in December. The timing instead is aimed at shoring up a faltering Western alliance.

The central proposal--to increase the scale of the Afghan army and police in order to prop up a corrupt Kabul regime--will never work without a parallel cease-fire, deep institutional reform, enforceable human rights, and peace-keeping arrangements with leadership by neutral countries.

The current expenditure of over $100 billion American dollars per year for Afghanistan could be spent on medical care for 15 million veterans, or 15 million college scholarships, or 1.8 million new teachers, or 72 million installations of renewable energy for American homes.



• Stop placating Republicans and Pentagon generals who seek unaffordable and elusive “victories:
• Heed and not disappoint the 75 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of Independents who want a timetable for withdrawal;
• Launch regional diplomacy towards power-sharing in Afghanistan with greater urgency as the current military escalation;
• Announce a substantial troop reduction from Afghanistan in 2011, and a complete phase-out in two years;
• Stop the foreign drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas and send massive medical aid and infrastructure assistance instead;
• Keep his pledge to withdraw all US troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.


• That deficit hawks apply their budget philosophy to the trillion-dollar costs of these unfunded wars;
• That the Republican leadership permit hearings, full debate and roll call votes on war funding and related amendments;

As President Obama and Gen. Petraeus have said many times, there is no military solution in Afghanistan. We ask, how many more will die in pursuit of this impossible goal?

Tom Hayden, director, Peace and Justice Resource Center
Daniel Ellsberg
Ariel Dorfman, author, Duke University
Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional Rights
William Quigley, legal director, Center for Constitutional Rights
Progressive Democrats of America [PDA]
Jean Stein, publisher
Rev. George Hunsinger, theologian, Princeton Theological Seminary
Carl Davidson, Progressive America Rising
Fatima Mojaddidy, Afghans for Peace, Oakland, CA
Afghans for Peace
Gar Smith, co-founder of Environmentalists Against War
John Gunther Dean, former U.S. Ambassador
to Cambodia, Denmark, Lebanon, Thailand and India
Jason Cross, Professor, Ann Arbor, MI
Matthew Evangelista, Chair, Department of Government, Cornell University
Dr. Cornel West, Princeton
Stephen Spitz, Falls Church, VA - Co-State, Coordinator, PDA Virginia
Tom Coffin, Atlanta, GA
Carolyn Eisenberg, Brooklyn, NY
Gordon Fellman, Brandeis
Shelagh Foreman, Peace Action, Massachusetts, MA
Andy Griggs, Los Angeles, CA
Linda L. Groetzinger
Norman J. Groetzinger, Chicago, IL
Dr. Judith Guskin, Hallandale Beach, FL
Russ Harrison, Hofstra Univeristy
Chris Lugo, Pacific Green Party, Oregon City, OR
Frances Fox Piven
Vernon H. Naffier, Ankeny, Iowa
José Pertierra, Attorney, Washington, DC
Barbara Reynolds, Chicago, IL
Richard W. Spisak Jr., Hobe Sound, FL
William A Wheaton, Altadena CA


workers in America are collectively owed some 19 billion dollars in overtime pay that managers and bosses refuse to give them

While some people on wordpress blogs talk about inane things, like haircuts , I discuss the things that count. I share news like this from MAS. I show and state my support for the news sources and encourage peoples to stand up. In theis case, it is about the lack of overtime pay.–KAS

MAS Freedom Joins National Call to End Wage Theft in America

On Thursday, November 18th – one week before the traditional Thanksgiving holiday in the United States – MAS Freedom joins with Interfaith Workers Justice and numerous worker rights and human rights organizations throughout the nation in calling attention to the ongoing tragedy of the pandemic of wage theft in America.

Many activists have noted that while many of us celebrate Thanksgiving as a time for connecting with our families and our loved ones, there is an ongoing injustice of the theft of workers’ wages that is rarely discussed, but that has a devastating impact on literally millions of working people and their families in this nation. In 2010, for example, it is estimated by the Interfaith Workers Justice organization that workers in America are collectively owed some 19 billion dollars in overtime pay that managers and bosses refuse to give them. The majority of these workers are Latinos, Latinas, African American and immigrant workers who earn very modest hourly wages, and in many cases, are among the working poor in this society.

But wage theft is much more pervasive that simply the refusal of posses to pay for overtime work. It is estimated that some three million workers in the United States are paid less than the legal minimum wage for their labor, and another three million workers are intentionally “misclassified” and placed into lower-wage occupational categories by bosses so that they are, in effect, cheated out of money that they should be paid for the work that they actually do.

Ibrahim Ramey, who represents MAS Freedom as a member of the national board of Interfaith Workers Justice and the Washington, DC area Interfaith Workers Rights Board, stated that “As Muslims, we are called by Prophet Muhammad to ‘Pay the worker while the sweat is still on his(or her) brow.’ We salute Interfaith Workers Justice and join with them, and with all people of conscience, to demand that the theft of wages from those people who do essential work in our society must end. And we should especially remember and honor the work of all the people who bring food to out dinner tables on Thanksgiving, and on every day.”

MAS Freedom is committed to supporting the national movement against wage theft in America, and we will be informing our constituents of relevant action items and legislation to help end this injustice.



The information below has made its way to my email. I did not know what a “paraprosdokian” was till I had read this, but it tells us by its irony that perspective comes from looking back at the start of something. Until we do that, we don’t see the joke.--KAS

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.

Ø I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way, so I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

Ø Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Ø Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

Ø The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it's still on the list.

Ø Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Ø If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong. (I have to remember this one)

Ø We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

Ø War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

Ø Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Ø The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Ø Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

Ø To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; To steal from many is research.

Ø A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

Ø How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Ø Some people are like Slinkies ... not really good for anything, but you can't help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.

Ø Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

Ø I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted pay checks.

Ø A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don't need it.

Ø Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "If an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR".

Ø I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Ø I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with "Guess" on I said "Implants?"

Ø Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Ø Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

Ø Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?

Ø Behind every successful man is his woman; behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Ø A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Ø You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

Ø The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

Ø Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

Ø A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.

Ø Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.

Ø Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

Ø I discovered I scream the same way whether I'm about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.

Ø Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

Ø There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

Ø I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

Ø I always take life with a grain of salt, plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.

Ø When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

Ø You're never too old to learn something stupid.

Ø To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Ø Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Ø Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.

Ø A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

Ø Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
“Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.”
• Where there's a will, I want to be in it.
• "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat." — Will Rogers
• "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." — Groucho Marx
• "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana." — Groucho Marx
• "I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my father, not screaming and terrified like his passengers." — Bob Monkhouse
• "A modest man, who has much to be modest about." — Winston Churchill (of Clement Atlee)
• "If you are going through hell, keep going." — Winston Churchill
• "I haven't slept for ten days, because that would be too long." — Mitch Hedberg
• "Take my wife—please." — Henny Youngman
• " It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." Winston Churchill
• "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." Winston Churchill