Thursday, July 30, 2009
Minnesota Republicans are going after U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson over a remark he made about his district. The longtime Democratic member of Congress told an online news site that he avoids holding town meetings because a quarter of his constituents subscribe to conspiracy theories about the government's role in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.Republican Party deputy chairman Michael Brodkorb says Peterson is out of touch. Spokesman Mark Drake says the GOP will run radio ads in Peterson's district starting Thursday. Drake says the party will spend at least $10,000 on the ads, but wouldn't give an exact figure. Peterson apologized for the comments.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Favre to Stay Retired
Brett Favre called Vikings coach Brad Childress on Tuesday to tell the coach he won't be coming out of retirement to play for Minnesota. "It was the hardest decision I've ever made," Favre told ESPN. "I didn't feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable. I would like to thank everyone, including the Packers, Jets and Vikings - but, most importantly, the fans." The decision, which was first reported by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, is a stunning blow for the Vikings after they openly courted Favre all summer. Adding Favre would have been viewed by many as the final piece for a team that already has star running back Adrian Peterson and a stingy veteran defense that returns nearly intact from last year's NFC North title season. "It was a rare and unique opportunity to consider adding not only a future Hall of Fame quarterback but one that is very familiar with our system and division," Childress said in a prepared statement. "That does not detract from the team that we have." Last year, Favre tearfully retired from the Green Bay Packers after 17 seasons in the NFL and three MVP awards - then made an about-face and played for the New York Jets. He retired again, had surgery in May to alleviate a torn biceps tendon and then flirted with the idea of coming back again with the Vikings, the Packers' NFC North rival. "When I heard the news, I was probably as surprised and shocked as everybody else," linebacker Ben Leber told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "The writing on the wall was as long as his arm was healthy he was going to play. I thought it was just a contractual deal that was taking so long and I really expected him to be at camp. So I was really surprised." After two months of rehab, Favre told Childress he didn't think he had enough in him to get through a full season. "I had to be careful not to commit for the wrong reasons," Favre said. "They were telling me, 'You went through all this, you had the surgery and you've got to finish it off.' But I have legitimate reasons for my decision. I'm 39 with a lot of sacks to my name." Now Childress has some damage control to do with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, the two veterans who were expected to compete for the job before the latest Favre drama began.Jackson and Rosenfels were peppered with questions about Favre during the team's minicamps this summer. It already was a testy situation for them to deal with, and now they will likely face a whole new set of inquiries with the job up for grabs again. Jackson's agent, Joel Segal, said he spoke to his client shortly after the news broke. "He was his usual cool, calm and collected self," Segal said. "He said, 'Great, let's get ready for camp."' Favre holds almost every NFL career passing record that matters, including touchdown passes (464), completions (5,720), yards passing (65,127), regular-season victories (169) and interceptions (310). Many thought he could help the Vikings land that elusive Super Bowl championship, even if he was reviled by fans here during his incredible run across the state line in Wisconsin. Favre instead passed on a chance for revenge on GM Ted Thompson and the Packers, whom he felt gave up on him too soon when deciding to move forward last summer with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He was sent instead to the Jets, where he appeared rejuvenated early in the season before arm problems arose. He threw nine interceptions in the final five weeks and the Jets finished the year 1-4 to miss the playoffs. Vikings players will begin arriving in Mankato for training camp on Wednesday, with a mandatory reporting day of Thursday and the first practice on Friday. Childress has said he believes the Vikings will be good with or without Favre. "As we have consistently communicated, we feel good about our team and they have put forth a tremendous effort this offseason preparing for the season ahead," he said. "With this behind us, we look forward to getting to Mankato and getting training camp under way." Of course, this is Favre, which means there always could be the possibility that he will change his mind. As far as Leber is concerned, however, there's no turning back now. "In my mind this should be the end of it," he said. "To be respectful of the players that are involved and the team as a whole, you have to put an end to this and you can't let it linger on."
Friday, July 24, 2009
Bill Cosby ’Shocked’ At Obama’s Statement On Harvard Prof’s Arrest
On a Boston radio program this morning, Bill Cosby suggested that President Obama spoke too soon on the controversial arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. “I’ve heard about five different reports [on the details of the arrest],” Cosby said on Boston’s WZLX. “If I’m the president of the United States, I don’t care how much pressure people want to put on it about race, I’m keeping my mouth shut.” “I was shocked to hear the president making this kind of statement,” Cosby said referring to the president’s remarks during last night’s press conference.The comedian appeared to have dialed his comments back a bit in a later interview on Boston’s FOX 25 television station. Cosby cautioned those from coming up with their own conclusions, but gave the president some leeway. “People who have not been there, people who don’t know are beginning to have their own personal feelings, but they weren’t there,” Cosby said. “Does this include the president?” asked the reporter. “It includes everybody,” Cosby said. “[But] I would have to take into consideration that he lived in Cambridge for some time so he may know more than he’s saying about situations of that sort,” Cosby said.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Businessman Kicked Out Of Mall For Political Merchandise
Concord Mills mall officials said they will no longer allow businessman Loren Spivack to sell his politically charged merchandise in their mall. Spivack insists that it’s an issue of free speech. Since May, Spivack has sold the items from his kiosk, called Free Market Warrior, inside Concord Mills. But at the end of the month, the mall, which is owned by Simon Property Group, is terminating its contract with Spivack, saying his merchandise is offensive and that people are complaining. In an e-mail sent to Concord Mills, one shopper said the kiosk “sells a variety of anti-Obama as well as pro-confederacy products. Looking over the merchandise in disgust, all I could help to wonder was why such a merchant was even allowed to begin operation to begin with.” In response to several calls from News 14 Carolina, Concord Mills released a statement, saying, “As a matter of corporate policy, Concord Mills does not comment publicly on landlord-tenant negotiations.”Concord Mills officials also wouldn’t clarify if any policies exist on items allowed to be sold on its property. “I don’t think they should be stopped from selling it, but it’s very interesting where Simon Properties has decided to pick their battle,” Spivack said. To stay in business in Concord Mills, Spivack said he was given the option to remove all controversial items from his cart. He said he's looking for another mall to move his kiosk to, but Simon Property Group owns the majority of the malls in the area, and he said he no longer wants to work with that chain.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Obama's Surgeon General Pick, Too "Overweight" To Lead
Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, Obama's pick for the next U.S. Surgeon General, is a MacArthur grant recipient who holds advanced degrees in medicine and business administration. She is a family practice doctor who runs her own medical practice, the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic that treats predominately poor patients in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. She was the first black woman to be elected to the American Medical Association board of trustees and became president of the Alabama Medical Association, making her the first African American woman to be president of a state medical society in the U.S. But despite the 52-year-old's accolades the nominee is facing harsh criticism for her size. Her round face, plump cheeks, and full-figure, serves as ammunition for her critics. They argue that an overweight surgeon general is sending the wrong message to a country already plagued by obesity. Obama has defined the U.S. Surgeon General's role as "America's leading spokesperson on issues of public health." Not everyone believes she can do the job effectively. "When a teenager listens to this person I want them to listen and respond in a positive way," said Lillie Shockney, administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center. "Not say ho-hum and then drive to a fast food place.""I think it is an issue, but then the president is said to still smoke cigarettes," said Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine who is now a senior lecturer at Harvard University Medical School. Currently there is extensive public concern about the national epidemic of obesity, Angell said. "Having a surgeon general who is noticeably overweight raises questions in people's minds." Despite her critics, Benjamin has supporters. One woman even saw the nominee's weight as a possible change agent. "I thank God that Dr. Regina Benjamin is a fat woman," said Joanne Ikeda, a nutrition specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. "Maybe now we will stop making the assumption that all fat people are unhealthy particularly in light of new data coming from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey." Some of the U.S. Surgeon General's duties are to "protect and advance the health of the Nation through educating the public, advocating for effective disease prevention and health promotion programs and activities, and, providing a highly recognized symbol of national commitment to protecting and improving the public's health," according to the Office of the Surgeon General. When nominated Benjamin stated, "my hope, if confirmed as surgeon general, is to be America's doctor, America's family physician." The nominee said, "as we work toward a solution to this health care crisis, I promise to communicate directly with the American people to help guide them through whatever changes may come with health care reform." Jenny Backus, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement saying, "Dr. Benjamin is a highly qualified physician who has dedicated her life to providing care to her patients. She is a role model for all of us, and will be an outstanding surgeon general."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Waste Dumped In Brazil Could Hurt UK Companies
The British Government's Environment Agency says companies and individuals responsible for transporting hundreds of tonnes of hazardous waste to Brazil could face prosecution. The Environment Agency's Liz Parks says British courts take the dumping of hazardous waste very seriously. Brazil has demanded that the waste be sent back to Britain and the UK Government says it is now working on ways to have it returned.The waste, found in about 90 shipping containers, included syringes, condoms and bags of blood. Ms Parks says British courts take the dumping of hazardous waste very seriously. "We've got the powers that we can take action," she said. "We do prosecute people. We've had a number of successful prosecutions in recent years, and in fact in the Crown Courts and prison sentences are imposed. "The UK courts do take this kind of activity very, very seriously."
Monday, July 20, 2009
Joggers Hurt In Buzzard Attacks
It is like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, with unsuspecting victims swooped on by avian attackers. Stuart Urquhart, a solicitor from Bristol, was on holiday with his wife and two children in Helford, Cornwall, when he suffered three six-inch cuts to his head in a buzzard attack. Mr Urquhart, 36, was jogging on a quiet lane near a river at around 9am, when he felt a searing pain in the back of his head before turning around to see a buzzard flying away. He said: "I thought somebody had thrown some heavy sacking or carpet at me but I couldn't see anyone. I carried on a few paces and then saw blood running down me and noticed a buzzard flying off into the trees. "I have brown hair and I wasn't sure if the buzzard had mistaken me for a big, slow rabbit, so I decided not to take any chances, and invested in a hat." Mr Urquhart, who was given a tetanus injection after the attack earlier this month, spotted the buzzard two days later on a telegraph pole. It swooped down with its talons out but Mr Urquhart managed to dive out of the way. Last week, Paul Powell, a plasterer from Shurdington, Glos, was also attacked by a buzzard while out jogging. He said: "I felt an almighty thud at the back of my head. At first I thought someone had hit me... and then I saw this big bird flying just above me. Then I felt a burning sensation and noticed there was blood dripping on to the ground."Mr Powell ran for cover, but the buzzard attacked him a second time. He was taken to hospital and given a tetanus injection. Ciaran Nelson of the RSPB said that it was very rare to see a spate of buzzard attacks. "These are the only incidents of buzzards attacking humans we have heard of in the last year, so to have two in such a short period is exceptionally unusual," he said. "It is most likely that the birds are feeling territorial and are being extra defensive, as July and August is the period when their young will be starting to leave the nests. "The buzzards won't have seen the joggers as a meal, but they will have been trying to defend their territory and dissuade anyone from coming into contact with their young. "We would advise anyone who has seen buzzards in one particular area to avoid it as much as possible for the next couple of months until the young have left the nests." Buzzards have a wing span of more than a yard and can weigh more than 2.2 pounds (1kg). They eat worms and grubs but also prey on rabbits and voles, and pick carrion. There are between 30,000 and 40,000 pairs of buzzards in the UK. They became a protected species 50 years ago and have recovered from near extinction after being regularly shot for killing game birds.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Michael Savage Off The Banned From Britain List
Home Secretary Alan Johnson is to scrap his predecessor's policy of naming and shaming people banned from Britain for spreading race hate and terrorism. The U-turn follows Jacqui Smith's controversial decision two months ago to announce a list of 16 people branded as 'least wanted' in the UK. It led to a claim for £100,000 damages by U.S. radio host Michael Savage, who objected to being put in the same category as Islamic hate preachers and terrorists. The Mail on Sunday has been told that Mr Johnson believes the move was a blunder and does not propose to issue similar lists in the future. But the switch could have major legal consequences for the Government. Mr Savage is suing Ms Smith for libel over the list and abandoning the policy could make it impossible to contest his demand for damages. The presenter, real name Michael Weiner, has eight million listeners for his Savage Nation show in America, but his hardline views on Islam, rape and autism have caused outrage. He said Ms Smith had no right to put him on the same list as a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, a skinhead gang leader and a Hezbollah militant. The ban sparked a major debate about freedom of speech - Mr Savage claimed he was forced to employ security guards after threats against him.
Michael SavageHe said: 'I'm not a terrorist. I'm one of America's most popular radio hosts and a happily married father of two. 'Maybe Jacqui Smith just plucked my name out of the hat because I'm controversial and white - to counter-balance all the Arabs named on her list.' The initiative was seen at a time as an attempt by Ms Smith to save her job after her expenses controversy. She said then: 'It's important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it's a privilege to come here, and the sort of things that mean you won't be welcome in this country.' But the list, denounced as a gimmick by the Tories, quickly unravelled after officials admitted not all the fanatics had actually intended to travel to the UK. They had been placed on a list of people accused of 'unacceptable behaviour' - simply on the off-chance they may decide to visit. Two on the list, Russian teenage skinheads Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, were serving ten years in a Russian jail. Others on the list included a Hamas MP, Islamic activists, a Kashmiri terror group leader and an American Baptist pastor.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Israeli Warships Rehearse For Iran Attack In Red Sea
Israeli and Egyptian officials said two ships had sailed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. Media reports in Israel said the two Saar-class missile ships had been sent as a "message" to the Tehran government, which has repeatedly issued threats against Israel and is developing nuclear technology believed by the West to be intended for atomic weapons programme. While Iran denies this, saying its enrichment of uranium is for civlian purposes only, so that it can generate electricity.Israel has also deployed a submarine using the Suez Canal, but it has since returned to the Mediterranean. Defence experts in Israel said this week that the naval activity had been publicised with the intent of sending a message to Iran. The Israeli government has reserved the right to carry out a first strike on Iran's nuclear facilities if the country continues to defy the international community and spreads instability in the Middle East. Israel also accuses Iran of sponsoring the Hizbollah movement in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Martin Luther King Was A Republican
Was Martin Luther King Jr. a member of the party of Lincoln or the party of Obama? Does it even matter? That is part of a question a group of black Republicans raised in Houston when they placed a huge billboard proclaiming: “Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican.” The black conservative group Ragingelephants.org sponsored the sign, which debuted July 2 but has since been removed by the billboard company because of controversy over the message. The billboard is a replica of ones erected by the National Black Republican Association in Denver to coincide with the Democratic National Convention and the nomination of Barack Obama – the first African American to head a major party’s political ticket. “We are a grassroots organization, devised to be a counter weight to left wing organizations,” said Claver Kamau-Imani, chairman and founder of Ragingelephants.org. “One of our main missions is to try to expand the conservative voting base through racial diversity. The billboard was just an opening salvo, to say that conservatives are coming. We are not simply going to concede the community of color to the Democratic Party.” While he had no voting records or other documentation, Kimau-Imani claims that King’s niece, Alveda King, said her uncle was a Republican.“I have not talked to Kimau-Imani. I don’t even know who he is,” she said. “I have never said Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. I never saw his registration card.” She does acknowledge that her grandfather, Martin Luther King Sr., once was a Republican. Historically, the perception that blacks leaned Republican came from the fact that Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and promoted the passage of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, was a party member. Nearly 100 years later, when King was arrested before the 1960 election, his family reached out to both candidates for help. The Republican Richard Nixon ignored them, while the Democrat John F. Kennedy secured King’s release. King Sr., who had planned to vote for Nixon, endorsed Kennedy. King Jr., on the other hand, did not endorse candidates. “Martin Luther King Jr. was not a Republican or Democrat,” said Alveda King, who was previously elected to the Georgia House as a Democrat, but later appointed to state and federal commissions by Republicans. “But everybody uses Martin Luther King Jr.’s name for their own benefit.” Kamau-Imani said his group plans more billboards with claims that other black historic figures, such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, were Republicans.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Man Ticketed While 'Honking for Peace'
A nuisance or freedom of speech? A Burnsville man says he got a ticket for honking too much during the weekly "Honk for Peace" event. Burnsville Police says they started getting complaints about the Thursday event and began taking photographs of the scene at Burnsville Parkway and Nicolette Avenue. "Just like that, you heard it beep-beep. That's what I did, a lot of those and that's what got me the ticket," said Bob Palmer. Palmer says he believed he was free to honk because last year, the ACLU reached an agreement with Burnsville that police wouldn't ticket people honking for peace.One of the group members snapped pictures of police taking pictures of them and passed them along to the American Civil Liberties Union. "Having two officers standing out taking photographs you is incredibly chilling," said Teresa Nelson with the group. Police say their cameras caught one driver honking more than 50 times. "We certainly don't mean to be chilling. I can see that's one interpretation of us. We're just trying to document accurately what's going down," explained Police Cpt. Eric Gieseke. The ACLU says they haven't decided whether to get involved in Palmer's case, but they have sent a letter to the police department requesting they stop ticketing people.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Soldier Balks At Deploying; Says Obama Isn’t President
U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, set to deploy to Afghanistan, says he shouldn’t have to go. His reason? Barack Obama was never eligible to be president because he wasn’t born in the United States. Cook’s lawyer, Orly Taitz, who has also challenged the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency in other courts, filed a request last week in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and status as a conscientious objector for his client. In the 20-page document — filed July 8 with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia — the California-based Taitz asks the court to consider granting his client’s request based upon Cook’s belief that Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and is therefore ineligible to serve as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.Cook further states he “would be acting in violation of international law by engaging in military actions outside the United States under this President’s command. ... simultaneously subjecting himself to possible prosecution as a war criminal by the faithful execution of these duties.” Cook, a reservist, received the orders mobilizing him to active duty on June 9. According to this document, which accompanies Cook’s July 8 application for a temporary restraining order, he has been ordered to report to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday. From there, the Florida resident would go to Fort Benning before deploying overseas. A hearing to discuss Cook’s requests will take place in federal court here Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Minneapolis Somali Man Discovered Dead in his Homeland
The Somali Justice Advocacy Center says 17 men from Minneapolis went missing last year. Now, the third of those men has turned up dead. 21-year-old Jamal Bana was shot in the head yesterday during combat in the city of Mogadishu. His family learned of his death through internet pictures that surfaced.Somali leaders say Bana, a graduated of Roseville High School, was recruited from Minneapolis to join a terror network and fight in Somalia's civil war. Local Somali community organizers fear more of the men will be dead soon, but hope to find the people responsible for convincing the men to fight.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Terrorist Sentenced In Mpls. Court
A man who spent 5½ years in solitary confinement before pleading guilty to conspiring to help al-Qaida will spend almost another year in federal custody and then be deported to Canada. Mohammed Abdullah Warsame, 35, was sentenced Thursday to seven years and eight months in prison. U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim gave him credit for time served and for good behavior, so he will likely be released and deported in about 10 months. Authorities say Warsame, a Canadian citizen, traveled to Afghanistan to attend al-Qaida training camps and dined with Osama bin Laden. They also say he went to the Taliban's front line. Warsame's attorneys, who argued that he should be sentenced to time served, depicted him as a bumbling idealist whom other fighters in the camps in Afghanistan viewed as ineffective and awkward. Prosecutors seeking a sentence of 12½ years painted Warsame as a jihadist who called his time in one training camp "one of the greatest experiences" of his life. They say even after the Sept. 11 attacks, he passed along information to al-Qaida operatives about border entries and whereabouts of jihadists - and only stopped when he was arrested in December 2003. In one December 2000 e-mail, prosecutors said, Warsame tells a jihadist to keep him informed "because I don't want to be late for the action, you know what I mean. We hear there might be an attack soon." Warsame pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to al-Qaida, admitting to conspiring with others to help the group beginning in 2000, when he left Canada and entered Afghanistan. His uncle, Abdullah Warsame, said Thursday that Warsame's wife left the courtroom in tears after he was sentenced. "I was not expecting this," Abdullah Warsame said. "We expected the time served ... considering his hardship." He said his nephew went to Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks, at a time when the U.S. was negotiating with the Taliban, not fighting them. He said Warsame has not had physical contact with another person for nearly six years, and when his wife visited she could see him only over a video screen."I suffered, and suffered, and suffered a mountain-load of suffering," Warsame said in a letter read by his attorney, David Thomas, describing his time in solitary confinement at the prison in Oak Park Heights. Tunheim said that even after 5½ years and hundreds of documents, Warsame remained a bit of a mystery to him. In deciding on a sentence, he studied other cases and noted that those with lighter sentences cooperated with authorities early. Warsame, he said, hasn't revealed all he knows. "Certainly you had access to, and relationships with, the most dangerous individuals on earth," Tunheim said. On the other hand, the judge said, there was no evidence that Warsame was involved in direct acts of terrorism. In the end, Tunheim said the sentence reflected the seriousness of the crime. Once deported, Warsame - who is of Somali descent - would be allowed to return to the United States only with permission from federal authorities. Defense attorneys say the deportation was negotiated as part of his plea deal and Canadian officials helped work it out. A representative for the Canadian consulate was not immediately available to comment Thursday. U.S. Attorney Frank Magill issued a statement saying the sentence shows "those who knowingly provide support to terrorists will be held accountable for their actions." Defense attorney Andrea George told the court to remember who was being sentenced. "You are not here today to sentence al-Qaida. You are not here today to sentence Osama bin Laden," she said. "The government seeks to drape the blood of al-Qaida on the shoulders of Mohammed Warsame." Federal prosecutor Joseph Kaster argued that even after Sept. 11, Warsame stayed in contact with associates in Afghanistan. Once he even sent money to a former Taliban trainer. "He may not have been a born soldier ... but what he had, he offered," Kaster said. "He offered himself." Authorities say Warsame tried to bring his family to Afghanistan, but was told by bin Laden lieutenant Mohammed Atef to return to Canada and renew his passport so could easily travel in Western countries. Warsame eventually relocated to Minneapolis.
Monday, July 06, 2009
"Prairie Home Companion" Celebrates 35th Anniversary
"A Prairie Home Companion" celebrated its 35th anniversary with a Saturday Independence Day broadcast from Avon - part of the central Minnesota region that inspired the fictional town of Lake Wobegon. Garrison Keillor says he plans a grass-roots show, with longtime special effects man Tom Keith, the Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, the Lake Wobegon Brass Band, the St. John's Boys' Choir and singer Andra Suchy.
Keillor's public radio variety show debuted on July 6, 1974. That show, broadcast live at Macalester College in St. Paul, was watched by about a dozen people. Now, "A Prairie Home Companion" is heard on nearly 600 public radio stations nationwide, attracting more than 4.3 million listeners a week.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Turkish TV Gameshow Looks To Convert Atheists
What happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists? Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers. The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion -- Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists. But religious authorities in Muslim but secular Turkey are not amused by the twist on the popular reality game show format and the Religious Affairs Directorate is refusing to provide an imam for the show. "Doing something like this for the sake of ratings is disrespectful to all religions. Religion should not be a subject for entertainment programs," High Board of Religious Affairs Chairman Hamza Aktan told state news agency Anatolian after news of the planned program emerged.The makers of "Penitents Compete" are unrepentant and reject claims that the show, scheduled to begin broadcasting in September, will cheapen religion. "We are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God," Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu told reporters. "We don't approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn't matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe," Soylu said. The project focuses attention on the issue of religious identity in European Union-candidate Turkey, where rights groups have raised concerns over freedom of religion for non-Muslim minorities. Detractors of the ruling AK Party government, which is rooted in political Islam but officially secular, accuse it of having a hidden Islamist agenda, a charge it denies. Some 200 people have so far applied to take part in the show and the 10 contestants will be chosen next month. A team of theologians will ensure that the atheists are truly non-believers and are not just seeking fame or a free holiday.
Friday, July 03, 2009
Run Hadji Run Fireworks Found In Wisconsin
You may be used to seeing fireworks with names like 'Seaside Garden,' 'Burst and Bloom,' or 'Red, White, and Boom.' But the product names of fireworks at one Wisconsin fireworks stand are sparking controversy in the Arab and Muslim communities. On one side of the packaging for 'Run Hadji Run' fireworks, men of Middle Eastern decent are riding on camels with a bomber plane flying above them. On the other side is an angry-looking Uncle Same yanking the beard of what looks like a Muslim man. "This is just outrageous," said Kenya McKnight. What comes in my mind, is that people will get idea to pop fireworks at Muslims." The fireworks were being sold for $30. While the owner didn't want to comment on camera, customers had a lot to say."To me it sends a clear message that Muslims are terrorists. ‘Run Hadji Run’—I’m going to throw some fireworks and I want to see you run," McKnight said. The Council of American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota issued issued a statement about the fireworks, explaining Hadji has been often used as a derogatory term by U.S. Soldiers during the Iraq War. After reporters visited the store and brought attention to the fireworks Friday, they were pulled off the shelves. The manufacturer, Missouri-based Red Rhino Fireworks, says they haven’t sold the product in several years.