WASHINGTON: Pakistan's nuclear facilities have already been attacked at least thrice by its home-grown extremists and terrorists in little reported incidents over the last two years, even as the world remains divided over the safety and security of the nuclear weapons in the troubled country, according to western analysts.
The incidents, tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in UK, include an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan's nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007, and perhaps most significantly the August 20, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan's main nuclear weapons assembly.
These attacks have occurred even as Pakistan has taken several steps to secure and fortify its nuclear weapons against potential attacks, particularly by the United States and India, says Gregory.
In fact, the attacks have received so little attention that Peter Bergen, the eminent terrorism expert who reviewed Gregory's paper first published in West Point's Counter Terrorism Center Sentinel, said "he (Gregory) points out something that was news to me (and shouldn't have been) which is that a series of attacks on Pakistan's nuclear weapons facilities have already happened."
Pakistan insists that its nuclear weapons are fully secured and there is no chance of them falling into the hands of the extremists or terrorists.
But Gregory, while detailing the steps Islamabad has taken to protect them against Indian and US attacks, asks if the geographical location of Pakistan's principle nuclear weapons infrastructure, which is mainly in areas dominated by al-Qaida and Taliban, makes it more vulnerable to internal attacks.
Gregory points out that when Pakistan was developing its nuclear weapons infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s, its principal concern was the risk that India would overrun its nuclear weapons facilities in an armored offensive if the facilities were placed close to the long Pakistan-India border.
As a result, Pakistan, with a few exceptions, chose to locate much of its nuclear weapons infrastructure to the north and west of the country and to the region around Islamabad and Rawalpindi - sites such as Wah, Fatehjang, Golra Sharif, Kahuta, Sihala, Isa Khel Charma, Tarwanah, and Taxila. The concern, however, is that most of Pakistan's nuclear sites are close to or even within areas dominated by Pakistani Taliban militants and home to al-Qaida...
Attorney General Eric Holder made a curious selection for the closing speaker at a July 20 Justice Department conference marking the 45th anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Rather than turning to a lion of the movement, or a figure whose success in life was made possible by the bill, Holder turned to Arab American Institute (AAI) President James Zogby. It's a curious move because - despite his generally favorable public image – an examination of Zogby's record shows he is an apologist for Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups like the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizballah. On top of that, he is a strident foe of the federal government's efforts to cut off funding for terrorist organizations, including efforts by Holder's department.
Zogby's address barely touched on the significance of the Civil Rights Act. Instead, Zogby used his speech to settle some partisan political scores and depict himself and other Arab-Americans as victims -- of murder; death threats; "blacklisting" and "harassment;" "stereotypes;" "defamation;" and even harsh U.S. immigration laws that turned his father into an illegal alien.
Zogby attacked the Bush Administration for detaining Arab and Muslim immigrants and visitors right after the September 11 attacks (neglecting to mention the fact that the detainees were in the United States illegally.) He denounced former Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey for attempting to delineate how ethnic/racial profiling might be used to prevent terrorist attacks.
Zogby's speech included not a word about the sacrifices of Dr. Martin Luther King or other civil-rights workers who responded with non-violence in the face of jailings, vicious beatings and murder to make the 1964 legislation a reality. But it did include a note of self-praise for Zogby and others like him who worked in the Rev. Jesse Jackson's failed 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns – which Zogby in turn used to promote his own organization, AAI. "It was out of that experience that our AAI was born as an empowerment project to continue our progress into the mainstream of American politics," he boasted.
There is no evidence (at least on the public record) of anyone in government or the mainstream media questioning Zogby's Justice Department speech, and that is par for the course. Despite a long history of radical comments, Zogby has cultivated the image of being a moderate and a scholar. As a result, he is treated with kid gloves in the media and is often cited as an authority on policy issues. (See recent examples here and here and here and here.)
But the substance of Zogby's worldview - particularly when it comes to terrorism and other Middle East-related issues – is anything but moderate.
Although he is an Arab Christian, Zogby's positions over the years often echoes those of radical Islamist groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society, both rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood. On September 16, 2000, AAI joined CAIR in cosponsoring a rally in front of the White House in support of the Palestinian "right of return." In October 2003, AAI and CAIR co-sponsored a "Civil Rights Conference" in Dallas to mobilize opposition to the Patriot Act. Like CAIR, Zogby sought to whitewash an Obama campaign official's ties with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked MSA. Like CAIR and MAS, Zogby demands that Israel withdraw from the West Bank, but refuses to condemn anti-Israel terrorism and violence from Gaza, from which Israel unilaterally withdrew in 2005.
Since September 11, Zogby has repeatedly tried to discredit federal investigations of U.S.-based Muslim groups for supporting terror. One of his targets was Operation Green Quest (a multi-agency task force including the FBI, U.S. Customs, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the IRS, and the Treasury Department.)
In March 2002, Green Quest launched a series of raids against Northern Virginia-based organizations that were determined to be financiers of terrorism. The raids targeted sites affiliated with the SAAR Network, described by federal investigators as a network of up to 100 nonprofit and for-profit organizations that "are interrelated through corporate officers and holding companies – subsidiary relationships, to facilitate the funding of terrorist operations." Most of the funding went to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – terror groups responsible for hundreds of deaths during the past two decades.
Within days of the raids, Zogby's AAI moved to discredit law enforcement's efforts to cut off the flow of money to terrorists. AAI issued an "Action Alert" entitled "Treasury Department Must Address Overzealous Raids," which stated:
"Fear and confusion now prevail in our communities and many believe the government has plans to punish all Muslim organizations without clearly establishing a credible link to an ongoing criminal investigation. This is not acceptable."
One of the groups raided was the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), described in an FBI affidavit as a front to support Hamas and the PIJ. When Zogby appeared on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" less than a week after the raids, Matthews asked him if IIIT is "a dangerous group or not."
"No, not at all," Zogby replied dismissively. But federal investigators long have suspected that the IIIT housed some of the top Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States. IIIT was included on a "list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends" in an internal Muslim Brotherhood memorandum about the group's future in the United States:
"The Ikhwan [Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad In eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."
Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the current secretary-general of the PIJ, served as a director at the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a think tank and academic research center funded by IIIT.
Shallah, who headed WISE from 1991-1995 before emerging in Damascus as the head of the PIJ, wrote "that IIIT was the largest contributor to WISE." In November 2001, the Justice Department stated that WISE was among "front organizations that raised funds for militant Islamic-Palestinian groups such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas." During the early 1990s, WISE was home to four members of the PIJ's governing board, including senior operative Sami Al-Arian. Despite clear evidence of PIJ leaders at WISE, and publicvideos showing Al-Arian's extremism, Zogby's AAI denounced Al-Arian's 2003 arrest on conspiracy charges as an example of "profiling" and "specious charges."
Likewise, Zogby defends the Saudi Arabian government despite its longstanding role in funding radical Islamist groups and terrorism. In a 2005 article, he asserted that "anti-Saudi propaganda has become a tool to smear critics and target efforts to build ties between Saudis and Americans."
Furthermore, in 2004, when Palestinian organizations refused to sign a pledge stating that U.S. foreign aid would not be used to support terrorism, Zogby questioned the very concept of barring material support for terrorism. Requiring groups to do so "compromises the ability of the humanitarian organizations to function," he claimed.
Additionally, Zogby has opposed efforts to prevent Americans from financially supporting the terrorist organization Hizballah. Interviewed by the Washington Post for a May 8, 2003 article, Zogby said: "By criminalizing attempts to send money to Hezbollah or to support it, the FBI is confusing and alienating people here who could be allies in the war on terrorism."
Likewise, Zogby has defended other US-based supporters of Middle East terror groups. In October 2000, the Investigative Project on Terrorism videotaped Abdurrahman Alamoudi of the American Muslim Council at a rally across the street from the White House announcing his support for Hamas and Hizballah. When then-New York U.S. Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign announced it would return Alamoudi's contribution, Zogby claimed Alamoudi was a victim of a "shameful hysteria campaign of McCarthyism." Four years later, Alamoudi was sentenced to 23 years in prison for terror-related crimes which included participation in a Libyan plot to assassinate the then- Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
In August 2008, Mazen Asbahi, Sen. Barack Obama's Muslim outreach coordinator, resigned from the Democrat's presidential campaign following reports that he had been affiliated with various Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations, including the Muslim Students Association. In a blog posting on the Huffington Post website, Zogby claimed Asbahi had been a victim of "bigoted websites" and "fear and ignorance about all things Arab and Muslim."
Zogby has also defended people who raise funds for Hamas. During a 1995 appearance on the PBS Television show "Firing Line," Zogby criticized the idea of placing limits on "humanitarian activity" of groups with links to Hamas: "That is going to be hell to implement. It's going to prove, I think, very detrimental to the civil liberties of people in this country." Zogby also supported Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas leader, during his detention in the United States and called plans to extradite him to Israel "destructive."
Zogby has objected to suicide bombings on grounds that they benefit Israel politically. Writing in the Muslim World Monitor in February 1995, Zogby complained that, "The bombing of New York's World Trade Center in 1993 played right into the hands of Israel" by illustrating its concerns about Palestinian terrorism.
In a December 1995 article in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Zogby suggested that Arabs have suffered their own "holocaust" at the hands of the United States, Israel and European colonial powers. "Arabs may not have experienced the same holocaust [as the Jews in Europe], but if one adds up the Arab lives lost in digging the Suez Canal, the Libyans slaughtered by the Italians, the Algerians killed by the French, the Sudanese murdered by the British, and all the Palestinians butchered in this century – we've had our own holocaust, but it stretches over 100 years."
For years, Zogby has staked out positions in line with Islamist groups which reflexively criticize U.S. anti-terror polices. Yet his personal charisma enables him to receive favorable coverage from the mainstream media and administration officials. Attorney General Holder did the Obama Administration no favors by selecting a terrorism apologist like Zogby instead of a genuine civil-rights hero to commemorate one of the seminal moments in our nation's history.
Dog fighting in Alum Rock - not the white working class for once.
On holiday in Norfolk this week we met up with an old friend. It was a delight to find that the pub chosen (our friend chose it because she know they would be welcome) was happy to receive well behaved dogs in the non resturant part of the pub. This is a rural area and the welcome to canines has been noticed since in numerous places, with suitable consideration given to hygene.
This is something of a contrast to London.
This story from the BBC (HT Ed West's blog in The Telegraph) is about a group who have no love for dogs whatsoever. We have all read the stories of guide dogs ejected by Muslim taxi drivers, and the fuss made when a mosque agreed to alow a blind man's guide dog. However dogs are allowed as working animals. In this case that work is to earn their owners a fortune in fighting. It was the sound of dogs barking and whimpering that first attracted PC Paul Foster to the back of an old kitchen showroom in inner city Birmingham. As he got closer he heard voices and men cheering.
What police found in Alum Rock a mainly Pakistani inner-city suburb, was an unexpected and disturbing crime scene.
"The first thing I notice was the black pit bull terrier, little fur, covered in blood in a bad way," PC Rogers told BBC Radio 4's The Report.
Twenty-six men were eventually convicted two years ago for taking part in the largest illegal dog-fight uncovered in the UK.
The RSPCA had long regarded dog-fighting as the preserve of white working class men attending fights in the countryside.
What the fight in Alum Rock revealed was the first glimpse of organised dog fighting in the Asian community taking place in urban surroundings and tens of thousands of pounds gambled on the result. Although the BBC would prefer to be torn limb from limb by a savage dog rathere than be specific we can be confident that in this context "Asian" and "Pakistani" will be Muslim. The name of the man convicted, Barkat Hussein (really - it would be funny if the dogs were not suffering) is also a clue. Since then subsequent raids have revealed that dog-fighting has become a problem in some sections of the Asian community.
Ian Briggs, chief inspector of the RSPCA's Special Operations Unit said dog-fighting is up 400% in the past three years in the UK. "Out of all the work we do 98% is Asian".
Mr Briggs said the organisation believes there is a dog fight nearly every week nationally from a small fight in the park to the bigger organised events such as that uncovered at Alum Rock. "Information about one fight we uncover leads to another but certainly we are scratching the surface."
Meanwhile there is evidence that young British Asians are having an impact on dog fighting back in Pakistan.
Basharat Najiba, a youth worker in Birmingham, said that a sizeable number of spectators make the trip from the UK with some even owning the fighting dogs and paying money to locals to look after them.
He said: "I think British Asians are big players because of the financial attachments that they can bring from here."
Dog fighting is part of life in rural Punjab and Kashmir and there are fears that its acceptability could be increasing among a new generation of young Asians in the UK aware of fathers, uncles and cousins attending dog fights in Pakistan.
But forensic psychologist Dr Vince Egan, of the University of Leicester, believes this creates real dangers of a tolerance of cruelty and of lowering ideas of "what is acceptable" and creating greater cruelty. A very good point. A bit like practising beheading on the Eid lamb. The RSPCA says it is keen on tackling this problem in the British Pakistani community but is finding it hard to penetrate the gangs. Now what PC criteria will trump the other in ethnicity v animal rights?
CAIR Spreads Its Tentacles, Attempting To Make Sure That Hollywood "Tells The Truth" About Islam
Under the guise of "helping young Muslims" find opportunities in Hollywood - one can just imagine what is really meant, such as "make sure to report any and all anti-Islamic sentiments" and making sure that no script even comes close to hinting at worrisome aspects -- practically all the aspects, come to think of it -- of Islam, CAIR spreads its tentacles even unto Sunset Boulevard and the Chateau Marmont.
From The Times: :
Dispute Over a Script Seminar for Muslim Students
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
LOS ANGELES — An open invitation to a seminar for Muslim college students and recent graduates interested in Hollywood writing careers has placed the Writers Guild of America, West, at odds with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which was planning to hold the session on Tuesday.
Things started simply enough.
In a news release dated July 29, the council’s Los Angeles-area chapter said it planned to join the guild in hosting a “Writing for Hollywood” seminar with “a leading Hollywood filmmaker and writer” at an undetermined location. The program was to include “an overview of resources and opportunities available at the guild” and a tour of the Writers Guild Foundation library, which is in the same building as the guild’s Los Angeles headquarters.
The planned seminar would have been unusual for the guild, said Daniel Petrie Jr., a former president who now serves on the governing board of its foundation. The writers’ union has conducted programs about employment discrimination for older or female members, he said, but appears not to have systematically reached out to specific religious groups.
“I got a call on Friday night from a member who was upset about it,” Mr. Petrie said. “It was the first I’d heard of it.”
The council has known its share of controversy. In 2007 federal prosecutors named it as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Texas terrorism trial involving the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, whose leaders were eventually convicted of supporting terrorism by channeling money to Hamas. The council strongly challenged the co-conspirator naming as being an unfair “demonization” of things Muslim.
On ocweekly.com, the Web site of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper, one writer, Matt Coker, had already poked fun at the session with a fable about a “talented and unlucky Jewish kid” who brushes up on the Koran and peddles his hitherto rejected script at the meeting under the name Aziz Rahman.
Responding to a request for access to the seminar, Neal Sacharow, the guild’s director of communications, wrote in an e-mail message on Monday that the union was actually not connected to any of it.
“The event you’re referring to is a CAIR event that the guild was going to make space available for,” Mr. Sacharow wrote. “It is my understanding that CAIR has changed the location.”
Shortly afterward, however, Munira Syeda, the council’s Los Angeles communications manager, said the guild had helped set up the session by lining up a speaker, the filmmaker Jeffrey Nachmanoff, who directed and wrote the 2008 thriller “Traitor.”
Mr. Nachmanoff said he was recruited by the guild’s diversity program, as was a moderator. “I’m a non-Muslim writer who happened to write a screenplay” that deals with terrorism and the Islamic world, Mr. Nachmanoff said in a phone interview. Mr. Sacharow did not respond to subsequent requests to comment further.
Ms. Syeda said that the council had held a similar seminar with Fox Entertainment, and that it hoped to do more in the future.
The Tuesday session, Ms. Syeda said, was closed to observers to keep its participants from feeling inhibited in their queries. “We don’t want it to become censored in any way,” she said.
Obama Administration Gives Medal Of Freedom To "Agents Of Change"
President Obama Names Medal of Freedom Recipients 16 Agents of Change to Receive Top Civilian Honor
WASHINGTON – President Obama today named 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. America’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
This year’s awardees were chosen for their work as agents of change. Among their many accomplishments in fields ranging from sports and art to science and medicine to politics and public policy, these men and women have changed the world for the better. They have blazed trails and broken down barriers. They have discovered new theories, launched new initiatives, and opened minds to new possibilities.
President Obama said, "These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds. Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs. Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way.
"Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive. It is my great honor to award them the Medal of Freedom."
President Obama will present the awards at a ceremony on Wednesday, August 12.
The following individuals will receive the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom:
Nancy Goodman Brinker
Nancy Goodman Brinker is the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s leading breast cancer grass roots organization. Brinker established the organization in memory of her sister, who passed away from breast cancer in 1980. Through innovative events like Race for the Cure, the organization has given and invested over $1.3 billion for research, health services and education services since its founding in 1982 and developed a worldwide grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists who are working together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find cures. Brinker has received several awards for her work, and has also served in government as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary (2001 – 2003), Chief of Protocol of the U.S. (2007 – 2009), and Chair of the President’s Cancer Panel (1990). In May, Nancy Goodman Brinker was named the first-ever World Health Organization's Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control.
Pedro José Greer, Jr. Dr. Pedro Jose Greer is a physician and the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at the Florida International University School of Medicine, where he also serves as Chair of the Department of Humanities, Health and Society. Dr. Greer is the founder of Camillus Health Concern, an agency that provides medical care to over 10,000 homeless patients a year in the city of Miami. He is also the founder and medical director of the St. John Bosco Clinic which provides basic primary medical care to disadvantaged children and adults in the Little Havana community. He has been recognized by Presidents Clinton, Bush, Sr., and Carter for his work with Miami's poor . He is also the recipient of three Papal Medals as well as the prestigious MacArthur "genius grant". He currently has a joint private practice with his father, Pedro Greer, Sr.
Stephen Hawking is an internationally-recognized theoretical physicist who has a severe physical disability due to motor neuron disease. He is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post previously held by Isaac Newton in 1669. In addition to his pioneering academic research in mathematics and physics, Hawking has penned three popular science books, including the bestselling A Brief History of Time. Hawking, a British citizen, believes that non-academics should be able to access his work just as physicists are, and has also published a children’s science book with his daughter. His persistence and dedication has unlocked new pathways of discovery and inspired everyday citizens.
Jack Kemp, who passed away in May 2009, served as a U.S. Congressman (1971 – 1989), Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (1989 – 1993), and Republican Nominee for Vice President (1996). Prior to entering public service, Kemp was a professional football player (1957 – 1969) and led the Buffalo Bills to American Football League championships in 1964 and 1965. In Congress and as a Cabinet Secretary, Kemp was a self-described "bleeding heart conservative" who worked to encourage development in underserved urban communities. In the years leading up to his death, Kemp continued seeking new solutions, raising public attention about the challenge of poverty, and working across party lines to improve the lives of Americans and others around the world.
Sen. Edward Kennedy
Senator Edward M. Kennedy has served in the United States Senate for forty-six years, and has been one of the greatest lawmakers – and leaders – of our time. From reforming our public schools to strengthening civil rights laws and supporting working Americans, Senator Kennedy has dedicated his career to fighting for equal opportunity, fairness and justice for all Americans. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that every American has access to quality and affordable health care, and has succeeded in doing so for countless children, seniors, and Americans with disabilities. He has called health care reform the "cause of his life," and has championed nearly every health care bill enacted by Congress over the course of the last five decades. Known as the "Lion of the Senate," Senator Kennedy is widely respected on both sides of the aisle for his commitment to progress and his ability to legislate.
Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King was an acclaimed professional tennis player in the 1960s and 1970s, and has helped champion gender equality issues not only in sports, but in all areas of public life. King beat Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match, then the most viewed tennis match in history. King became one of the first openly lesbian major sports figures in America when she came out in 1981. Following her professional tennis career, King became the first woman commissioner in professional sports when she co-founded and led the World Team Tennis (WTT) League. The U.S. Tennis Association named the National Tennis Center, where the US Open is played, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2006.
Rev. Joseph Lowery
Reverend Lowery has been a leader in the U.S. civil rights movement since the early 1950s. It was in Mobile, Alabama, at this time –that he headed the Alabama Civic Affairs Association; the organization which led the Movement to desegregate buses and public accommodations. Rev. Lowery later co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a leading civil rights organization, with Dr. Martin Luther King, and was chosen by Dr. King to Chair the Delegation delivering the demands of the Selma-to-Montgomery March to Alabama Governor George Wallace.. Rev. Lowery is a minister in the United Methodist Church, and has continued to highlight important civil rights issues in the U.S. and worldwide, including apartheid in South Africa, since the 1960s.
Joe Medicine Crow – High Bird
Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief, is the author of seminal works in Native American history and culture. He is the last person alive to have received direct oral testimony from a participant in the Battle of the Little Bighorn: his grandfather was a scout for General George Armstrong Custer. A veteran of World War II, Medicine Crow accomplished during the war all of the four tasks required to become a "war chief," including stealing fifty Nazi SS horses from a German camp. Medicine Crow was the first member of his tribe to attend college, receiving his master’s degree in anthropology in 1939, and continues to lecture at universities and notable institutions like the United Nations. His contributions to the preservation of the culture and history of the First Americans are matched only by his importance as a role model to young Native Americans across the country.
Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official from a major city in the United States when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk encouraged lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens to live their lives openly and believed coming out was the only way they could change society and achieve social equality. Milk, alongside San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, was shot and killed in 1978 by Dan White, a former city supervisor. Milk is revered nationally and globally as a pioneer of the LGBT civil rights movement for his exceptional leadership and dedication to equal rights.
Sandra Day O’Connor
Justice O’Connor was the first woman ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court. Nominated by President Reagan in 1981, she served until her retirement in 2006. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, O’Connor served as a state trial and appellate judge in Arizona. She was also as a member of the Arizona state senate, where she became the first woman in the United States ever to lead a state senate as Senate Majority Leader. At a time when women rarely entered the legal profession, O’Connor graduated Stanford Law School third in her class, where she served on the Stanford Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. Since retiring from the Supreme Court in 2006, O’Connor has served as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary, on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center, and participated in the Iraq Study Group in 2006, as well as giving numerous lectures on public service. She has received numerous awards for her outstanding achievements and public service.
Sidney Poitier is a groundbreaking actor, becoming the top black movie star in the 1950s and 1960s. Poitier is the first African American to be nominated and win a Best Actor Academy Award, receive an award at a top international film festival (Venice Film Festival), and be the top grossing movie star in the United States. Poitier insisted that the film crew on The Lost Man be at least 50 percent African American, and starred in the first mainstream movies portraying "acceptable" interracial marriages and interracial kissing. Poitier began his acting career without any training or experience by auditioning at the American Negro Theatre.
Chita Rivera is an accomplished and versatile actress, singer, and dancer, who has won Two Tony Awards and received seven more nominations while breaking barriers and inspiring a generation of women to follow in her footsteps. In 2002, she became the first Hispanic recipient of the coveted Kennedy Center Honor. Propelled to stardom by her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of West Side Story, Rivera went on to star in additional landmark musicals such as Chicago, Bye Bye Birdie, and Jerry’s Girls. She recently starred in The Dancer’s Life, an autobiographical musical about her celebrated life in the theatre.
Mary Robinson was the first female President of Ireland (1990 – 1997) and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997 – 2002), a post that required her to end her presidency four months early. Robinson served as a prominent member of the Irish Senate prior to her election as President. She continues to bring attention to international issues as Honorary President of Oxfam International, and Chairs the Board of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI Alliance). Since 2002 she has been President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, based in New York, which is an organization she founded to make human rights the compass which charts a course for globalization that is fair, just and benefits all.
Janet Davison Rowley
Janet Davison Rowley, M.D., is the Blum Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology and Human Genetics at The University of Chicago. She is an American human geneticist and the first scientist to identify a chromosomal translocation as the cause of leukemia and other cancers. Rowley is internationally renowned for her studies of chromosome abnormalities in human leukemia and lymphoma, which have led to dramatically improved survival rates for previously incurable cancers and the development of targeted therapies. In 1999 President Clinton awarded her the National Medal of Science--the nation's highest scientific honor.
Desmond Tutu is an Anglican Archbishop emeritus who was a leading anti-apartheid activist in South Africa. Widely regarded as "South Africa's moral conscience," he served as the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) from 1978 – 1985, where he led a formidable crusade in support of justice and racial reconciliation in South Africa. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work through SACC in 1984. Tutu was elected Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986, and the Chair of the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995. He retired as Archbishop in 1996 and is currently Chair of the Elders.
Muhammad Yunus Dr. Muhammad Yunus is a global leader in anti-poverty efforts, and has pioneered the use of "micro-loans" to provide credit to poor individuals without collateral. Dr. Yunus, an economist by training, founded the Grameen Bank in 1983 in his native Bangladesh to provide small, low-interest loans to the poor to help better their livelihood and communities. Despite its low interest rates and lending to poor individuals, Grameen Bank is sustainable and 98% percent of its loans are repaid – higher than other banking systems. It has spread its successful model throughout the world. Dr. Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work.
Burkini Bather: "I cannot rule out leaving France."
I can't imagine why anyone would care, but this woman convert to Islam evidently thinks her threat to leave France will give people pause. AFP:
A Paris swimming pool has refused entry to a young Muslim woman wearing a "burqini," a swimsuit that covers most of the body, officials said Wednesday.
The pool ban came as French lawmakers conduct hearings on whether to ban the burqa after President Nicolas Sarkozy said the head-to-toe veil was "not welcome" in secular France.
Officials in the Paris suburb of Emerainville said they let the woman swim in the pool in July wearing the "burqini," designed for Muslim women who want to swim without revealing their bodies.
But when she returned in August they decided to apply hygiene rules and told her she could not swim if she insisted on wearing the garment, which resembles a wetsuit with built-in hood.
Pool staff "reminded her of the rules that apply in all (public) swimming pools which forbid swimming while clothed," said Daniel Guillaume, an official with the pool management.
Le Parisien newspaper said the woman, identified by her first name Carole, was a French convert to Islam and that she was determined to go to the courts to challenge the decision.
"Quite simply, this is segregation," the paper quoted her as saying. "I will fight to try to change things. And if I see that the battle is lost, I cannot rule out leaving France."
The newspaper ran a photo of the woman sporting her three-piece "burqini" which she said she purchased in Dubai during a recent holiday.
"I bought it thinking that I could enjoy swimming without having to uncover myself," she said.
Local mayor Alain Kelyor said "all this has nothing to do with Islam," adding that the "burqini" was "not an Islamic swimsuit, that type of suit does not exist in the Koran," the Muslim holy book.
France, home to Europe's biggest Muslim minority, has set up a special panel of 32 lawmakers to consider whether a law should be enacted to bar Muslim women from wearing the full veil, known as a burqa or niqab.
The country has had a long-running debate on how far it is willing to go to accommodate Islam without undermining the tradition of separating church and state, enshrined in a flagship 1905 law.
The burqa debate in France has drawn chilling warnings from Al-Qaeda that it was ready to "take revenge for the honour of our daughters and sisters."
Communist MP Andre Gerin, who heads the National Assembly's burqa commission, called the "burqini" ridiculous and said pool administrators were right.
"We can't allow this. This is proof that there is a political agenda behind such dress," Gerin told Le Parisien.
That's the question I put to a someone close to the admissions process at a reasonably selective school recently. His/her reply, which he/she would be the first to admit was deliberately highly exaggerated for maximum epigraphical effect is below (I've edited and cleaned up a disjointed conversation, so this is not a literal transcription). You can understand why my discussant was not interested in being identified and, as I say, this was exaggerated for maximum shock value...
Selective schools are not interested these days in girls who like English and history, like to read and are able to write clearly and well. Those skills fill the bell curve for smart girls ... Selective schools have absorbed the folk myths of bobo culture. So cool girls are math smart, genetically destined to be hackers, risk takers, and into competitive sports. Cool girls for selective schools prefer engineering over history, math over English, computer science over political science, and economics over psychology. A touch of Asperger's isn't a bad thing for a girl, either. Actually, it's a great thing. It will be a long time before being able to write well, disconnected from technical skills in math or science, will be a valued skill for its own sake in admissions. Actually, I don't think writing as a valued skill is ever coming back. That's why writing got transferred over to the SAT.
I know where they can find a lot of those kinds of students. They're called boys.
"I cannot rule out leaving France," huffs the Burkini Bather, banned from a Paris swimming pool. One or two First World War songs spring to mind:
"We Don't Want To Lose You, But We Think You Ought To Go..."
"Pack Up Your Burka In Your Old KitMan..."
Then there's this:
Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee
Tho' it's hard to part, I know,
I'll be tickled to death to go,
Don't cry-ee, don't sigh-ee,
There's a silver lining in the sky-ee!
Bon Soir, old thing! Cheerio! Chin-Chin,
Nah-Poo, Toodle-oo, Goodbye-ee