Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Faith, Race & Integration

I published this article today to report Sheikh Satardien's sound and simple guidance for the challenges of intercultural integration faced by Europe, and indeed the world over

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Dublin-based Sheikh (Dr.)
Shaheed Satardien
Director of the Intercultural Peace Centre, and President of the Muslim Council of Ireland
to address its conference FAITH, RACE &
on the topic, "Exploring the Role that Faith & Race can play in the integration of culures."
Dr. Satardein's message and insights are vital not only for Ireland, but surely for Europe, and in fact the essential guidelines offered by Satardein are applicable on a global scale.
When we find the unique good in the thoughts of notable peace-makers, it is important to know that the impulses reflect not only their special gifts and talents, but the ideals and spiritual traditions in which they are nurtured.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waterwise landscape: Mediterranean garden design

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Looking for plants that don't use much water? Those that originated in the Mediterranean region are ideal for a low-water landscape.

Traditional Mediterranean plants such as olives, lavender and other herbs, and Italian cypress mix with other boldly colored garden plants to create the feeling of warmth in Tuscan gardens.

If you're interested in creating a Mediterranean-inspired garden, here are some traditional plants to choose from, as well as some other waterwise plants that harmonize well with this style.

Mediterranean herbs for fragrance, color

Lavender, wormwood (Artemisia), sage, lavender cotton (Santolina), rosemary, oregano, and thyme all make excellent additions to a Tuscan-style garden. Because their foliage releases scent when they are brushed against, they can make an excellent planting for along a pathway or near a seating area.

The grayish-green foliage of many of these herbs harmonizes well with olive trees, and the cool purple-blue tones of many of the flowers contrasts nicely with the warm hues used in so many Tuscan garden designs.


Google flight search

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Google has launched Google Flight Search, a search tool that allows users to access flight information and fares and display it in various ways.

Google has launched a sharp, seamless airline search tool called Google Flight Search that provides quick access to flight information and fares.

To access the feature, users can go to or type a flight-related search into the main Google search engine,

After selecting an outbound flight, the page shows which return flights match your results. Users can also use filters, such as non-stop flights and price, and the research results are almost instantaneous.


9/11: 10 Years After

I published this article today

"America cannot find the path to recovery while looking to elected officials, business leaders, policy makers, media stars and celebrities, nor tech companies and wizards. We have lost the mediating structures between self and public life."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Prominent Alawite clerics denounce Assad regime’s ‘atrocities’

Bashar al-Assad is himself Alawite.

Such identities define social and political realities in the region. Assad's base and inner leadership are Alawites. This condemnation is momentous, and vital to end the tyrannicide entrenched in Syria

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Dubai - Three prominent Syrian clerics of the Alawite sect, to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs, have denounced the “atrocities” committed by the regime against pro-democracy protesters.

“We declare our innocence from these atrocities carried out by Bashar al-Assad and his aides who belong to all religious sects,” Mohib Nisafi, Yassin Hussein and Mussa Mansour said in a joint statement from Homs.

The clerics denied state media reports that members of the Shiite Alawite sect are being subjected to acts of killing and kidnapping in Homs.

“The daily reports of kidnappings, killings and harassment of members of the Alawite sect are all untrue. They are designed and spread to cause divisions among people united against the regime.”

The clerics said the Assad regime is pursuing a policy of divide and conquer by spreading false reports of sectarian strife between the Shiite Alawites and the Sunnis.

“The children of Homs, Sunnis, Alawite and Christians, have lived and will continue to live in coexistence and harmony.”

There is no other way left to save the self except by joining the peaceful demonstrations.” The clerics said.

“This regime and its president will not rule you forever."


Monday, September 12, 2011

Pentagon Confirms U.S. Boots on the Ground in Libya

"repeated assurances,"

"They are armed, however ... "

"Obama assured Americans,"

"U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity have acknowledged,"

"Kirby wouldn't say if there are plans in the future... "

Is there an American alive who can believe anything uttered by any US government representative?

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Despite repeated assurances from President Obama and military leaders that the U.S. would not send uniformed military personnel into Libya, four U.S. service members arrived on the ground in Tripoli over the weekend. 

According to Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby, the four unidentified troops are there working under the State Department's chief of mission to assist in rebuilding the U.S. Embassy. 

Kirby also made clear these troops are in no way part of a military operation on the ground. They are armed, however, if for some reason they need to protect themselves. 

The troops are only expected to be there for a short while. After the assessment of the embassy is complete, they are expected to leave. 

Obama assured Americans in March when the bombing campaign over Libya began that there would be no boots on the ground. From the East Room of the White House on March 18, he said: "The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya." 

U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity have acknowledged the CIA has had a small number of so-called "spotters" on the ground to assist in the NATO mission. It's also well known that other foreign governments have sent special operations forces to fight on the ground with the rebels. 

"You need this kind of expertise to make it safe for diplomats to return," Bolton said. 

Kirby wouldn't say if there were plans to send more U.S. troops in the future.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

10th Anniversary 9/11 reflections

Doug Johnston of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy has a long track record of substantial reconciliation efforts on the ground in some of the most difficult environments today.

Here are his thoughts on present challenges to the pursuit of a peaceful world

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International Center for Religion & Diplomacy 3
With the 10th Anniversary of 9-11, comes the opportunity to
determine how it should be honored.
ICRD 911
Beyond our military interventions, the U.S. response in
countering religious terrorism has thus far focused on addressing
symptoms rather than causal factors.
Despite the obvious need to address underlying cause, how to
do so remains a puzzle for most policymakers. Respectful engagement with
other cultures and countries only takes one part of the way, since that
has more to do with good manners than with religious faith. Its own
religiosity aside, America's proven inability to understand and deal
with the religious motives behind extremist violence has already led to
uninformed foreign policy choices in such places as Iran, Lebanon, and,
most recently, Iraq. To avoid similar mistakes in the future, we need to
move beyond the rational world view that has governed our practice of
international relations for most of the last century to a process that
includes religion and other so-called "irrational" factors. It will also
require that we broaden our basis for understanding the religious
dynamics at play and optimize our opportunities for responding

An Anniversary Call to Arms

Douglas M. Johnston


Searching For Answers In A Post-9/11 World - 92nd Street Y

I've discounted tickets for any in the NY area interested to attend. Drop me at note at

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Searching For Answers In A Post-9/11 World

Date: Thu, Sep 8, 2011, 8:15 pm

Location: Lexington Avenue at 92nd St

Arthur Miller, Emmy Award winning moderator

Ralph Singh, convener

Panelists: Karoline Buys, James R. Doty, M.D., Richard A. Ehst, Dr. Noor Gillani,

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, Dr. Stuart A. Kauffman, Rabbi Irwin Kula, Dr. Nina Lynn Meyerhof, Ed.D., R. Gustav Niebuhr, Iyafin Amibelle Olatunji, Carlos Portes, Diane Schenandoah, Dr. Naresh Singh, Asma T. Uddin


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Again the question: Is Osama winning?

Yesterday I posted in synopsis Andrew Sullivan's Newsweek offering recommending that the US "took the bait," by entering into the costly wars that 9/11 attacks were meant to provoke.

Here Daveed Gartenstein-Ross extends this thesis in a concise, clearly written book delineating his thesis that "the terrorist network has defined its strategy as bleeding the United States to bankruptcy."

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Daveed Gartenstein-Ross's new book, Bin Laden's Legacy, wonders which side actually is winning the war on terror.

Bin Laden's Legacy is a remarkable and laudable work. Gartenstein-Ross has created both a road map and a score card for the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks redefined America's sense of security. In a narrative that somehow manages to be both concise and comprehensive, the author lays out the multiple battlefields and competing strategies of both al Qaeda and the United States.

The American approach, as Gartenstein-Ross describes in unrelenting detail, is defined by extravagance, putting its emphasis on security at all costs -- with cost being the operative word. Because of a combination of missteps, hypervigilance, and political fear, virtually any program, policy, or plan that offers a shred of reassurance to the American public can get funded in this environment, whether it's sci-fi technology for airports or an intelligence community so big that no one knows how many people it employs. This results in vast expenditures for security benefits that are sometimes marginal, sometimes nonexistent.

Al Qaeda's strategy, unhappily, is exactly the same: provoke the United States into profligate spending and interminable military engagements, with a vision of the country's eventual economic collapse. Inspired by Osama bin Laden's romanticized view of the Soviet Union's back-breaking war against the mujahideen in Afghanistan, the terrorist network has defined its strategy as bleeding the United States to bankruptcy. This strategy does not require traditional tactical success. In recent years, al Qaeda has learned that even its most embarrassing operational failures can produce an expensive response.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Turkey Overturns Historic Religious Property Seizures

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This marks probably the most important recent development in religion, and in "church-state" relations in the world at present.
ISTANBUL, August 30 (Compass Direct News) - The Turkish
government made a historic U-turn in state policy this past weekend,
issuing an official decree inviting Turkey's Christian and Jewish communities to reclaim their long-confiscated religious properties.

Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the surprise decision on Sunday evening
(Aug. 28) in Istanbul, addressing a large gathering of Istanbul's
non-Muslim religious leaders representing 161 minority foundations.
Invited as the honored guest for an iftar (breaking the fast) meal near
the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan,
Erdogan declared, "The times when citizens in our country were
oppressed for their beliefs, their ethnic heritage or the way they
dressed is over."

Acknowledging past injustices inflicted
on those of different faith groups, he vowed, "Those days are over. In
our country, no citizen is superior to another."

In a deliberate
clarification the next day, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
emphasized that the government's formal decision was "not a gesture
toward minorities, but the return of the rights of legally equal


The Terrible Missed Chance

Philip Sehnon in Newsweek presents persuasive, carefully researched background that US had more than sufficient evidence to prevent the 9/11 attacks, and good background as to why they failed to do so.

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Moussaoui had paid more than $8,000 in cash that summer to sit in a cockpit simulator in a flight school in the suburbs of Minneapolis and learn—in a matter of days—the basics of how to fly a 747-400.
Michael Maltbie, a D.C. counterterrorism specialist, insisted repeatedly in the days after the arrest that there was no clear link between Moussaoui and Al Qaeda
Michael Rolince, who ran the FBI’s International Terrorism Operations Section, was arguably the bureau’s most important go-between with the White House on domestic terrorist threats in the summer of 2001. He tells Newsweek he spent “less than 20 seconds” being briefed on the Moussaoui case that August.
“Did it rise to the level of something that I would take upstairs?” Rolince asks. “The answer is no.”
Al-Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui
this new student was “weird” in many ways, including his method of payment. Moussaoui handed over cash—$8,600, paid out with a stack of $100 bills—for 12 hours in a 747-400 simulator and an extra two hours in a classroom.

Did Osama Win?

Andrew Sullivan posts a penetrating confession in Newsweek in this 9/11 decennial, commemoration week.

Sullivan explains the evolution of his understanding, arguing that Bin Laden hoped to provoke a civilizational war between Islam and the West. And we took the bait.

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We saw an emblem of our entire civilization tumble to the ground in the middle of the city that had once brought the skyscraper confidently and brashly to the world. We also saw the mighty Pentagon violated by a few religious fanatics living in caves. The skies were silent. Nobody seemed to know if this was the end or just the beginning. But what we did know was that only one word really sufficed to define the scale and gravity of what had taken place: war.

And in that very formulation, in the depths of our psyches and souls, we took the bait.

The bait was meant to entice the United States into ruinous, polarizing religious warfare against the Muslim world, so that the Islamist fringe could seize power in failing Muslim and Arab dictatorships.
Our president, meaning well, did his best, and it was more than good, at the beginning. But in retrospect, he never mastered the fear or the moment either. Instead of calming the populace over the coming months, he further terrified us with drastic measures that only seemed to confirm the unprecedented gravity of the threat.
Department of Homeland Security was set up, as a system of torture prisons (beginning with Guantánamo Bay) was constructed ... many concluded the threat must be grave enough to justify shredding some of the Constitution’s noblest principles and precedents.
so much of our inherited moral wisdom—such as the absolute stricture against torture and the ideal of habeas corpus—were tossed aside.
The fiscal costs of our actions are one reason we find ourselves today in a lost, jobless, debt-driven decade. About $2.6 trillion was spent in a decade of war

Saturday, September 3, 2011

CIA, MI6 helped Gaddafi on dissidents: rights group

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Documents found in the abandoned Tripoli office of Muammar Gaddafi's intelligence chief indicate the U.S. and British spy agencies helped the fallen strongman persecute Libyan dissidents, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.

CIA's close links with Gaddafi revealed

The documents were uncovered by the human rights activist group in the abandoned offices of Libya's former spy chief and foreign minister, Moussa Koussa.

The current military commander for Tripoli of Libya's provisional government, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, was among those captured and sent to Libya by the CIA, Human Rights Watch said.

The files shed new light on the practice known as rendition, used by the United States under former President George W. Bush, in which the terrorism suspects were handed over to other countries for interrogation. Rights groups have criticized the United States for sending these suspects to countries where they were likely to be tortured.

Belhadj has said that he was tortured by CIA agents before being transferred to Libya, where he says he was then tortured at Tripoli's notorious Abu Salim prison.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sony's unveils HMZ-T1

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The HMZ device enables the wearer to experience cinema-like viewing, equivalent to watching a 750-inch screen from 20 metres away

Technology giant Sony has unveiled a head-mounted display that takes the wearer into a 3D cinema of videos, music and games.

The HMZ personal 3D viewer is being targetted at people who prefer solitary entertainment rather than sitting in front of a television with family or friends.

Future vision? The HMZ personal 3D viewer is being targetted at people who prefer solitary entertainment rather than sitting in front of a television with family or friends
Officially unveiled in Tokyo today, the HMZ - which stands for head-mounted display - is equipped with two 0.7in high definition organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels and 5.1 channel dynamic audio headphone
Sony's latest product
is far more sophisticated, delivering an experience that is as immersive
as sitting in one of the best seats in a cinema.