Monday, April 27, 2009

First They Came For...

Monday, April 06, 2009

President Obama Gives Mixed Messages to Muslims
President Obama recently made a trip to Turkey to tell the Muslim World that he is not at war with Muslims. The ironic thing to me is that Turkey does not represent the heart of the Muslim World. It may have over a hundred years ago, but not now. The symbolism behind Pres. Obama going to Turkey and making this statement makes me sick to the stomach. The reason I say this is because the Turkish government has shown opposition to Islam since the Young Turks came into power at the beginning of the last century. At the head of the Young Turks' movement was Ataturk the first president of the contemporary nation-state. During Pres. Obama's visit to Turkey, he paid homeage to Ataturk.
So why did Pres. Obama go to Turkey to give this message and not Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan? These countries more represent Islam than Turkey. The vision of Turkey is one of an extreme secular Muslim state. Is this the real message that Pres. Obama is giving the Muslims? Will he tolerate the Muslims so long as we "modernize" and reinterpret our din to fit in to our nuffs (desires)? If this is the case, then I do not see any real difference in his policies towards to Muslim World and former President GW Bush's policies. The only difference may be that he is not try to all out kill Muslims to change them, and he is not tracking down American Muslims in every masjid and corner of the US. While the differences are refreshing, the similiarities are dangerous (to say the least) to Muslims.
So Mr. President, will you tolerate an Islam that is practiced according to the Quran and the Sunnah and the way that the pious predecessors of Islam practiced it? Actions speak louder than words.
Here is an article on Pres. Obama's recent trip to Turkey:
Obama tells Turkey: U.S. ‘not at war with Islam’: In parliament, president calls for greater partnership with Islamic world
The Associated Press
updated 2:19 p.m. CT, Mon., April. 6, 2009

ANKARA, Turkey - Barack Obama, making his first visit to a Muslim nation as president, declared Monday the United States “is not and will never be at war with Islam.”

Urging a greater partnership with the Islamic world in an address to the Turkish parliament, Obama called the country an important ally in many areas, including the fight against terrorism. He devoted much of his speech to urging a greater bond between Americans and Muslims, portraying terrorist groups such as al-Qaida as extremists who do not represent the vast majority of Muslims.

“Let me say this as clearly as I can,” Obama said. “The United States is not and will never be at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical ... in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject.”
The U.S. president is trying to mend fences with a Muslim world that felt it had been blamed by America for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Arab channels carry Obama liveAt a news conference earlier with President Abdullah Gul, Obama dealt gingerly with the issue of alleged genocide committed by Turks against Armenians during World War I. He urged Turks and Armenians to continue a process “that works through the past in a way that is honest, open and constructive.”

Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyia, two of the biggest Arabic satellite channels, carried Obama’s speech live.

“America’s relationship with the Muslim community,” he said, “cannot and will not just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

“We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world, including in my own country,” he said.

The president spoke for about 25 minutes from a small white-marble-and-teak rostrum in the well of a vast, airy chamber packed with Turkish lawmakers in orange leather chairs.

Except for a few instances of polite applause, the room was quiet during his speech. There was a more hearty ovation toward the end when Obama said the U.S. supports the Turkish government’s battle against PKK, which both nations consider a terrorist group, and again when he said America was not at war with Islam. Lawmakers also applauded when Obama said the United States supports Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.

Touching on Turkey-Armenian tensionsEarlier, Obama said he stood by his 2008 assertion that Ottoman Turks had carried out widespread killings of Armenians early in the 20th century, but he stopped short of repeating the word “genocide.”

Gul said many Turkish Muslims were killed during the same period. Historians, not politicians, Gul said, should decide how to label the events of those times.
In his 2008 campaign, Obama said “the Armenian genocide is not an allegation,” but rather “a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence.”

Now that he is president, the genocide question may not be Obama’s best issue for taking a tough stand that antagonizes an ally. It is important in U.S. communities with large numbers of Armenian-Americans, but it has a low profile elsewhere.

In his speech to the parliament Monday, Obama said the United States strongly supports the full normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. He also noted that the United States “still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.”

The president also urged Turkey to help Israel and Palestine live “side by side in peace and security.”

Obama’s visit is being closely watched by an Islamic world that harbored deep distrust of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

In talks with Gul, and Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Obama hoped to sell his strategy for melding U.S. troop increases with civilian efforts to better the lives of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

After meeting later in the day with Erdogan, Obama said: “Turkey is a critical strategic partner with the United States, not just in combating terrorism, but in developing the kind of economic links, cultural links and political links that will allow both countries to prosper and I truly believe the entire region and the world to prosper.”

Obama recognized past tensions in the U.S.-Turkey relationship, but said things were on the right track now because both countries share common interests and are diverse nations. “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation,” he said at the news conference. “We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

He said he believes that “modern Turkey was founded with a similar set of principles.”

Obama’s trip to Turkey, his final scheduled country visit, ties together themes of earlier stops. He attended the Group of 20 economic summit in London, celebrated NATO’s 60th anniversary in Strasbourg, France, and on Saturday visited the Czech Republic, which included a summit of European Union leaders in Prague.

Turkey opposed the war in Iraq in 2003 and U.S. forces were not allowed to go through Turkey to attack Iraq. Now, however, since Obama is withdrawing troops, Turkey has become more cooperative. It will be a key country after the U.S. withdrawal in maintaining stability, although it has long had problems with Kurdish militants in north Iraq.

Turkey maintains a small military force in Afghanistan, part of the NATO contingent working with U.S. troops to beat back the resurgent Taliban and deny al-Qaida a safe haven along the largely lawless territory that straddles Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. Turkey’s participation in fighting Islamic extremism carries enormous symbolic importance to the Muslim world, and Turkey has diplomatic leverage with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Street gangs NY

Now this is really old school. --khalil

APACHE LINE: FROM GANGS TO HIP HOP (2004 trailer) by Jorge "FABEL" Pabon and Johnny "ZIP" Rodriguez

This is a clip from a documentary from Shukri aka Fabel. --khalil

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Al Adhan in Istambul

Death in Binghamton

Yesterday was a tragic day for Binghamton, New York since a gunman killed thirteen people including himself. Amongst the dead was a 50-year old Iraq Muslim woman. Inna lilaah wa inna ilaihi raaji'oon - to Allah we come and to Allah we return. I send my condolences to the families of the dead.

Binghamton hold a special place in my heart since I spend four years of my life studying there. I do not want to politicize the discussion, but I must state how none of the media refered to the gunman's religion. It is obvious thought that he was not a Muslim because had he been one all of the media would have made sure to make reference to him being Muslim.

Make Allah make us safe from the evil of terror and the taking and spilling of the blood of the innocent, amin.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Open admissions

Open admissions is a type of college admissions process in the United States in which the only criterion for entrance is a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. An outgrowth of the Civil Rights Movement of the mid 1900s, refers to the educational experiment at The City University of New York (CUNY) in the 1970s which changed the colleges’ admissions standards to allow more students a chance at higher education.

1 Background
2 The Five Demands
3 Political and Racial Tensions
4 Results

The events leading up to Open Admissions within the University system began nearly a decade before the actual program itself. Throughout the decade following World War II, the student body of CCNY (then integrated into the CUNY system in 1961) became increasingly diverse. However, the overwhelming majority of the students were still predominantly “white,” with middle-class Jewish, Irish, and Italian populations the most represented minorities, and by the mid- to late 1960s, middle-class Catholics constituted a third, and in some place, as much as 40 percent, of the student body (Lavin, et al, p. 4). In 1963, then Chancellor Dr. Albert Bowker, who would become the primary force behind the early changes that would form the foundation of and culminate in the Open Admissions Program of the 1970s, realized that the political support that CUNY enjoyed could disappear if the University system continued its highly selective admissions process (Lavin, et al, p. 6) In response to the ever-increasing number of applicants to the university, Bowker suggested a plan to prevent CUNY from becoming “an exclusive college catering to the academic elite,” which would provide for enrollment of 100,000 students by the end of the ‘60s. So, in 1965, the pre-baccalaureate program, eventually absorbed by SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge), was started in response to the criticisms of black and Hispanic leaders challenging CUNY’s use of public funds, considering how few minorities were admitted to the colleges. It provided special stipends to allow predominantly black and Puerto Rican students living in the ghettos to attend remedial programs meant to prepare them for entrance into mainstream college programs. However, by the middle of 1965, New York City’s financial troubles were mounting and, in the fall of 1966, CUNY admitted its smallest freshman class in years and, while more and more minorities and underprivileged whites were graduating from high school, but the make-up of the CUNY senior college classes were still predominantly white and middle-class, with blacks and Hispanics continuing to be underrepresented.

The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, led to several Civil Rights demonstrations on CUNY campuses that year, and in November 1968, a petition circulated on the CCNY campus by a Marxist organization, the black DuBois Club, stated that 55% of students in public high schools were black or Hispanic, compared with only 10% of students at CCNY. This petition, addressed to CCNY President Buell Gallagher, carried a list of demands, was signed by about 1500 students (which represented approximately 10% of the student body at CCNY), and the President responded by placing himself in agreement with the petitioners and listed changes already underway that addressed the students’ concerns. However, In February 1969, a new minority group called The Committee of Ten, made up of both black and Puerto Rican student leaders, “called upon the CUNY administration to alleviate ‘conditions that deny the very existence of the Black and Puerto Rican community.’” (Lavin, et al, 10), and the Committee issued the now-famous, non-negotiable “Five Demands.”

The Five Demands
1.) The establishment of a separate black and Puerto Rican freshmen orientation program controlled by minority upperclassmen
2.) The creation of a separate, degree granting School of Black and Puerto Rican Studies
3.) The matriculation of SEEK students and the control of the SEEK program, with the demand that those working in the SEEK program be given equal status with other degree-holding faculty, and that the director of SEEK be given Dean status
4.) That the composition of the student body at City University reflect the composition of the racial and economic make-up of the public high school system of the City of New York (40% black and Hispanic at the time)
5.) That all majors in the School of Education attain basic proficiency in Spanish and in Black and Puerto Rican Heritage
These “Five Demands” would remain at the heart of the protests that followed. In February, the Committee formed a party called the New World Coalition (NWC), with a platform that demanded “universal free higher education.” But by March, CUNY faced budget and admissions cuts and Chancellor Bowker’s announced that CUNY might be forced to eliminate fall enrollment completely. Several student groups organized and marched on CUNY campuses, culminating in a massive demonstration of 13,000 students on March 18, on the Albany campus. Then Governor Rockefeller assuaged the protestors by claiming that CUNY officials had overestimated the impact of budget cuts, but on April 1 it was announced that, while the budget would be larger than CUNY administrators estimated, it was still $20 million less than requested. This announcement prompted the resignation of twenty-three of the twenty-seven department chairs at CCNY, as well as President Gallagher, and caused, on April 21, the demonstration of the Black and Puerto Rican Student Community (BPRSC), which marched on the main campus of the City College of New York’s Harlem campus, the oldest and most famous of the CUNY institutions, with some two-hundred students, evicting students already on campus and taking control of eight of the university’s buildings, chaining off the college gates and demanding increased access to the public institutions of higher learning for underrepresented minorities. They proposed to control the campus until the “Five Demands” were met. The next day, a radical white political group took control of a ninth building in a show of support. However, white support overall was mixed. The student demonstrators made it clear that their demands were unrelated to the then-escalating protests against the Vietnam war, even going so far as to keep the anti-Vietnam protestors, who were predominantly white, away from the CCNY protests.

Political and Racial Tensions
President Buell Gallagher closed all classes campus wide and tried to negotiate the “Five Demands.” He was supported in his efforts by Mayor Lindsay, but one of the candidates for mayor, City Comptroller Mario Procaccino, with the support of Congressman Mario Biaggi, both representing white, working class constituencies, called for the immediate re-opening of the college and accused Mayor Lindsay of concentrating too heavily upon the needs of blacks and Puerto Ricans, his election base, to the exclusion of the needs of Jews, and lower-middle-class Irish and Italians. Negotiations soon crumbled under these political pressures, and Gallagher, who had initially said he would not call in the police, was forced to call the police onto the campus to quell the riot that ensued, a situation which culminated in the burning of the auditorium on May 8, and eventually led to the resignation of President Gallagher on May 29, 1969. He was replaced by Dr. Robert E. Marshak in September, 1970, who would remain President of CCNY through 1979 and oversee the implementation of the Open Admissions Experiment. On May 23, the CUNY administration proposed a “dual-admission” program that would admit 50% of students from the poorer, ghetto high schools, and 50% under the traditional, competitive criteria, a proposal which was almost universally criticized as a “quota” system destined to fail, so the plan was eventually scrapped, with the Faculty Senate proposing, instead, to bring in a few hundred extra students from the poor neighborhoods of New York City. But the Central Labor Council head, Harry Van Arsdale, who represented a large portion of the unionized, working class Irish- and Italian-Catholic whites in the city, argued that only a program that guaranteed admission to all would be successful and universally acceptable, and this Open Admissions policy soon gained favor amongst most groups, allowing for both the solution to the admissions problems and providing a reason for unprecedented expansion of the University. City officials were not consulted until after the resolution had been ratified, but they eventually supported it, and the ratification of the Open Admissions program helped to secure the reelection of Mayor Lindsey. The first class of freshmen to be admitted to CUNY through Open Admissions entered Fall semester, September 1970.

In many ways, Open Admissions was doomed to failure. This was due to a number of reasons – including the political nature of the program, the extent of the difficulties that revealed themselves in these new students, resistance from academics inside CUNY, a lack of financial resources, and the very faulty basic premise that academic performance in high-school and scores on standardized tests do not measure academic ability and therefore predict academic success. All of these factors played a role in shifting CUNY from consideration as the jewel in New York’s education, once called the “Harvard of the proletariat”, to Rudy Giuliani’s description of the state of CUNY as “really sad”.

Certainly, no one appreciated the extent of the problems that were exhibited by Open Admissions students, and the extent to which they lacked the basic skills they needed to succeed in the university. It quickly became apparent that these students required a great deal of remediation, a level of remediation that stretched university resources to the limit. The struggle to properly support Open Admissions students was exacerbated by the lack of experience that many teachers had in remediating these skills; most of the teachers were used to teaching the cream of the crop and they therefore lacked the knowledge to help these students effectively. Despite this, innovative teachers like Mina P. Shaughnessy devoted their energy to these students and did important work in helping understand the reasons for the lack in basic skills, and provided ways to teach those skills in a university setting. Teachers of this caliber were few, however, and their efforts were thwarted by scholars at CUNY who felt that standards were falling and the lack of financial resources to support these programs. This created what James Traub, in his book City on a Hill, describes as the "culture fostered by the [open] admissions commitment." He remarked:
“Teachers who knew that they couldn't insist on the highest standards without losing much of their class had succumbed to the ethos of mediocrity . . . they waved as students went on to the next level, still locked in the simplest patterns of thought. And this was so despite City's very high attrition rate, which one could interpret either as proof of the school's high standards . . . or as a sign that the majority of students were unable to meet even fairly forgiving standards.”

What Traub controversially points out is that there were real problems experienced in implementing Open Admissions at CUNY, and these problems were most distinctly reflected in falling graduation rates, although the impact of those rates is still open to debate. Significantly, in 1975, New York was hit by a slowing economy and CUNY was struggling to survive financially, so CUNY decided to do away with the free admissions that had been available to students. The lack of financial resources forced CUNY to require tuition of students, which had another adverse effect on the university. This was the first time that CUNY had ever charged for tuition in its history, so middle class white students who had previously attended CUNY because of the tuition waiver decided to rather attend universities in other parts of the country. This meant that more and more of the students at CUNY were coming from a disadvantaged background, with the remedial problems that extended form that background, and graduation rates began to fall. Another impact of this is that a number of CUNY’s top scholars also migrated to other universities, thereby creating a cycle of depression for CUNY.

Robert Fullinwider explains the impact of these numbers:

“After five years, 26 percent of open-admissions students who entered a CUNY senior college in 1970 had graduated, 16 percent were still in school, and 58 percent had dropped out. By contrast, 48 percent of regular-admissions students had graduated, 12 percent were still in school, and 40 percent had dropped out. Disaggregated by race, the figures show that 23 percent of black open-admissions students in the 1970 class, and just 19 percent of Hispanic students, had graduated by 1975. In contrast, approximately 35 percent of white open-admissions students had gotten their degrees. The gap between the graduation rates for minority open-admissions students (21 percent) and regular-admissions students (48 percent) was even more substantial. Then as now, minority open-admissions students were likely to be older than regular-admissions students. They were also more likely to come from poor families, to work full- or part-time, and to exhibit academic deficiencies.”

Yet despite the startling statistics there is another side to this data. Fullinwider points out that it may be misleading to focus on graduation rates only after five years. By looking at the data from the year 1984, nearly 10 years later, it shows that 56 percent of students had earned a B.A., including 49 percent of blacks. He says: “Because of their weaker academic preparation and their greater need to work while in school, minority open-admissions students traveled the route to a B.A. more slowly, but travel the route they did, in substantial numbers.” By looking at looking at the percentage of graduation figures over six years the percentage of graduating students rises from 8% to 32%, which is a significant increase. This means that a number of disadvantaged students received access to an opportunity that they never would have received. Fullinwider points out that in follow-up studies, Lavin and Hyllegard estimate that for an arbitrarily selected year in the late 1980s, these students earned $67 million more than they could have expected without their college degrees. This is something that critics of open admissions generally fail to consider.

But the fact is that these lower graduation rates would always be a concern. Even today, there is a great deal of very political discussion as to what the benefits and downsides of Open Admissions are. Different parties have tried to measure the progress of Open Admissions students, with markedly different results, some of which shows that it is a program that fails both the students and the university, while others point to substantial improvements in the lot of the lives of Open Admissions students. The problem is that the different research parties, all who have a vested interest in the outcome, measure variables in their research in different, but important, ways.

Still, these rates caused the CUNY board of directors in 2002 implemented new admission measures that effectively brought Open Admissions to an end. The problem is that these new measures, which require basic proficiency and math, reading and writing for all entering students, will exclude many of the students who were provided an opportunity that they would not have otherwise enjoyed. There is also a great deal of debate about which skills that are lacking in students can prevent students from ever succeeding in the university. It seems that a lack of basic skill in reading has a significant impact on student success, whereas deficient skills in writing and math can be remediated with appropriate support and instruction. This is linked closely to the issue of standards, and becomes a basis for excluding students. CUNY has decided to exclude students on the basis of a lack of basic skills in reading, writing, and math, despite there is evidence that if a student is deficient in either math or writing that there is a viable opportunity to improve on those skills. CUNY’s board has simply decided to push remediation of basic skills back in community colleges, saying that that is the best venue for such instruction. The problem is that there is significant research support showing that students who go to community colleges graduate at a lesser rate than if they went to 4-year universities.

La Mujer en Islam 3/3

Panama speaks on Police Brutality