Sunday, October 31, 2010

Edgewater synagogue serving LGBT Jews was terror target

The Sun Times updates the story on our friends and former tenants who found themselves targets of Al Queda
A small, progressive synagogue in Edgewater that serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews said Saturday it had learned that it was one of the targets of the foiled mail bombs plot.

"We are somewhat alarmed and somewhat disturbed," said Lilli Kornblum, co-president of Or Chadash, a North Side congregation of about 100 members.
And watch your webpage,
However, Zedek also learned Saturday that his synagogue's website had been repeatedly visited recently by someone from Egypt -- a fact that concerned him enough to report it to law enforcement authorities.

"What I was told this morning by the person who keeps our website current is that when she was checking to see how many hits we'd been getting recently, and this is before what occurred on Friday, to her surprise we had 83 hits from an address in Cairo, Egypt," Zedek said. "It does assume a greater interest in light of what happened.''
And here's the coverage over at Harry's Place plus video below.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

John Fund: Requiem for the Pelosi Democrats

A quote from Fund's interview with Rep. Brian Baird (D-Washington),
In his new book, "Character, Politics and Responsibility," Mr. Baird argues that in order to afford caring for the needy, liberals will have to challenge "unsustainable entitlements." "I would eliminate the concept of entitlements and move to needs-based social insurance," he says. "The key is to both promote personal responsibility while lowering expenditures by not promising or giving money or other benefits to those who don't need it."
An unexpected twist on sustainability for many UUs perhapes, but unsustainable unjust too. We're going to have to sort that out.

A pic of me over at the Chicago News Bench during Right Nation 2010 where a bunch of us Chicago bloggers sat down with Fund. Fund mentioned the increasing velocity of changes in opinion (that's what's new by the way; not incivility) and it leads off his column,
It took Democrats in the House of Representatives 40 years to become out-of-touch enough to get thrown out of office in 1994. It took 12 years for the Republicans who replaced them to abandon their principles and be repudiated in 2006. Now it appears that the current Democratic majority has lost voter confidence in only four years.

How did this happen? And what does the increasing speed of voter backlash mean for Republicans who will likely take control next Tuesday?
What's different today is speed. It's going to require quick response and nimble politics. Nimble theology perhaps too...

Radical Islam reaching close to home: Chicago's Second UU

From Today's Trib: Jewish community carries on among terrorist allegations
The source indicated that the targeted Jewish congregation in Lakeview may have been using the facilities of a Unitarian church.

The Rev. Adam Robersmith, who works at the Second Unitarian Church in Lakeview, said the Jewish Congregation Or Chadash last used the church facilities for its worship services several years ago. The congregation — which serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews — has since moved to Edgewater, where it shares space with Emanuel Congregation.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Attack Ads, Circa 1800

Or maybe, Attack Ads by a Unitarian and a Univeralist fellow traveler....

The International Day Against State Religion

via their face book page,

On August 11, 1947 Mr. Jinnah in his 1st Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan said that religion has nothing to do with the business of the State.

None of the Parliamentarians of Pakistan has deemed it fit and proper to heed the ideas of the Founder of Pakistan on the relation of Religion and State. Thus, it is our humane duty that we must remember August 11, 1947 in the name of the Universal Human Rights. The best constitutional, non-violent and peaceful way to remember it is to request the United Nations to recognize this 11th day of August as the INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION.

This DAY will remind the civilized world that all the non-Muslims as well as non-believers of Pakistan are the HALF CITIZENS; so, they must be FULL CITIZENS at once. The first requirement to win the right of FULL CITIZENSHIP is to DEMAND repeal of the STATE RELIGION from the Constitution of Pakistan.
Their website here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rebukes Church; Pastor Resigns

“It takes optimism to the limit to stand the strain of preaching year after year to a congregation without seeing results,’ said the Rev. R. F. Johonnot, for eighteen years pastor of Unity church, Oak Park, in his sermon yesterday morning following the formal reading of his resignation.

“It is better to work in a poor community at a small salary and feel that you ar doing something,” he went on, “then to be administering to a rich congregation and to realize that you are accomplish nothing. A minister cannot exist on faith; he can’t preach comfort and inspiration to a stone wall or courage to an empty pew, and it is a mistaken idea of many people that a minister can be satisfied with having a good church and the friendship of his people.

“I have chosen my text today with relation to myself and mean to be frank with you. The loyalty and cooperation which are given me would be strengthened by steady-attendance at church. Men support the church but do not go to hear the sermons. They pay a large amount every year for something that is actually worth about 20 cents a copy, but do not trouble themselves to go to hear it read.”

Dr. Johonnet has built up Unity church from a mission to its present independent position in the church field, and he declares the church does not need his services any longer.

“I feel that my work here is done,” he continued. “I am useful for at least ten years more in some other field. The ministry is not an attractive business or one in which any man will succeed unless called to it by nature, and special training only brings success.”

In conclusion, Dr. Johonnot exclaimed” How can you expect any man to stand before you week after week, month after month, an year after year preaching good cheer, courage, and inspiration unless he himself is encouraged and strengthened by seeing some result?”

Dr. Johonnot’s resignation will be acted upon by a committee consisting of James B. Healt, J.B. Berry, C.A. Sharpe, H.A. Taylor, and John Lewis.

The Chicago Tribune,  7 June 1909
An image and bio of the good Rev. Rodney Johonnot can be found here.

Dan Harper: Still True Today

A must read most from Dan: Still True Today 

Please read and than ask yourself how UUA's proposed centralization strengthens or mitigates our Methodological Conservatism.  

Seems to me what UUA's proposing just ads to the rigidity.  Just more Religious Complacency with some cost savings, 'cause gosh after all, we're on the side of love.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bill Roggio: 5 killed in bombing at shrine in eastern Pakistan

A bomb killed five people today at a shrine of a saint worshiped by both Sufi Muslims and Hindus in Pakpattan in Pakistan's Punjab. The attack is the latest at religious sites in Pakistan.

The blast, which was caused by a remotely detonated device, occurred at the gate of the Dargah Hazrat Baba Farid Ganjshakar shrine. Two men on a motorcycle placed the bomb hidden in a milk carton at the gate.
Two women were among the five people killed. At least 13 others were wounded in the bombing, which took place during morning prayers, and eight are in critical condition.

No group has taken credit for the attack, but the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the so-called Punjabi Taliban have claimed credit for previous attacks on religious institutions in Pakistan.

The Punjabi Taliban includes members and factions of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in particular is well known for carrying out sectarian terror attacks against minority Shia, Ahmadis, Sufis, and Christians in Pakistan.

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is an anti-Shia terror group that has integrated with al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal areas. The Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has an extensive network in Pakistan and serves as al Qaeda's muscle for terror attacks. The group has conducted numerous suicide and other terror attacks in the tribal areas, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the Northwest Frontier Province), and in Punjab province.

Read more:

About that UUA board seeks big changes from districts

Go ahead and educate me on this one: The Unitarian Universalist Association’s Board of Trustees will ask the UUA’s districts next month to transform their role in the denomination’s governance and service delivery.

It sounds like centralization in the name of cost-savings to me; coupled with a nasty frame,
Public witness is Morales’s third priority. He emphasized that the UUA wants to continue working with and empowering congregations at the local level. He referred to the success of the UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love Campaign, which has provided resources and support to congregations to address social justice issues arising in their own communities. “It’s empowered and released the energy and idealism in our congregations. We need to nurture that as we move forward.”
Standing on the side of love has sounded nothing more than standing on the side of smugness to me, and contrary to everything that's been offered in my Church on peaceful methods of dialogue. Any good it's done for our Churches a mystry.  So how many Churches have availed ourselves of the resources?  Any metrics for this endeavor to evaluate how well it's met goals?

Your takes?


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Charles Hegna and William Stanford, their names now lost to history.

The back and forth with Steve Caldwell got me thinking to this event. I was working for Dept of Defense IG then in the Pentagon and the auditor who survived this attack --Charlie Kapar-- spoke at the Association of Government Accountants afterwords about how to survive being taken hostage.

SecDef Weinberger had just issued instructions about Surviving with Dignity and I asked Charlie about Weinberger's policy. He responded without humor, you forget about your dignity real quick when taken hostage like this.

Below via Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
In September of 1984, Hezbollah struck the US embassy in East Beirut againkilling 23 employees and wounding 21 others.

Three months later, Hezbollah hijacked a Kuwait airliner. They murdered the two Americans aboard: Charles Hegna and William Stanford, their names now lost to history. I’ll bet you have never even heard of them. Both were US government employees, auditors for the US Agency for International Development (AID).

Charles Hegna was 50 then, he would be 72 now. He lived in Northern Virginia with his wife Edwena. They had five children.

Charles Hegna had just done a financial audit in Yemen and was flying to Pakistan when four Hezbollah terrorists stormed the cockpit of his plane. They shot an air marshall and forced the plane down in Tehran.

Charles Hegna and another AID auditor, William Stanford, were singled out and murdered.

A third American with them was tortured but survived.

Hegna was beaten after he identified himself as an American. They then shot him in the stomach, and still alive, they threw him on to the tarmac, breaking his legs.

He was shot once more from above and for three hours he lay wounded, in agony in the sun, until an ambulance finally brought him to a an Iranian hospital where he died a few days later.

His wife Edwena, now in her 70’s, said a few years ago that the family had been destroyed by the murder.

“Our lives were put into quicksand,” she said.

When the bodies of Charles Hegna and William Stanford came back to the US, the elder George Bush, then vice president, made this vow:

"We shall know their murderers, with the long memories of those who believe in patient but certain justice."

So that was 24 years ago and the US “knows” their murderers all right. But we have done nothing about it –just like we have done almost nothing about all the other attacks by Hezbollah against Americans.
Charlie of course the third who survived.

RealClearPolitics - Video - Krauthammer Slams NPR's Hypocrisy Over Williams And Totenberg

RealClearPolitics - Video - Krauthammer Slams NPR's Hypocrisy Over Williams And Totenberg

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chicago Tea Party Ad

A pretty average lot of folks the Tea Party as the first ad from Chicago shows.  You might have a few at your Church too... as one from mine stumbled upon another congregate at a local Tea Party ralley.  He said he was staking-out-the-enemy and my friend said I'm a member; and handed him a leaflet. Surprise... surprise....

Spouse of Ahmad Zeidabadi: “We Constantly Dream of His Freedom" / همسر زیدآبادی: رویای هر روز ما آزادی همسرم است

Here's an interview with a Muslim (and a journalist!) via Mir Hussain Mousavi whom you won't find Main-Stream-Media or Liberalism giving much of a hoot about.

In an interview with Kaleme, Mahdieh Mohammadi, the wife of Ahmad Zeidabadi, discussed his recent condition:

Since the arrest of Ahmad Zeidabadi, journalist and head of the Islamic Alumni Association a year and a half ago, he has not been able to receive a prison leave. In the past year, Zeidabadi has won the 2010 Golden Pen of Freedom Prize by the World Association of Newspapers and was issued one of the heaviest sentences for a journalist [by the coup government].

Zeidabadi is sentenced to six years imprisonment, a lifelong ban from activities associated with the media or politics, and five years exile in the city of Qonbad-e Qabus. Despite all this, Zeidabadi’s wife and children get through the days holding on to the hope that one day he will be freed.

And the English translation of the interview,

Kaleme: Mrs. Mohamamadi, may you please provide us with the most recent news on Ahmad Zeidabadi’s situation?
Mahdieh Mohammadi (MM):  Mr. Zeidabadi is still held in Rajai Shahr prison along with other  political prisoners including Isa Saharkhiz and Masoud Bastani. We get  to visit him every week. But since men and women have to visit on  separate weeks, I see him every other week. He calls the house twice a  day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Anyway, this is how  we pass the days far away from each other.
Kaleme: Mr. Zeidabadi is one of the political prisoners who has not yet been given any time off from prison. Why is that?
MM:  I have no idea why he is not allowed to benefit from prison leave  considering it is his legal right. None of the political prisoners in  Rajai Shahr have been given any time off from prison, except for Mr.  Soleimani who a few days ago was allowed to leave for a very short  period of time. The reason for not allowing a leave for my husband is  unknown to us considering that it is a legal right for all prisoners.
Kaleme: What measures have been taken in this regard by you or his lawyer?
MM:  We have requested a leave for him five or six times. One of the  requests came directly from Mr. Zeidabadi and was received by the Tehran  Prosecutor Mr. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi. Interestingly, he said that it  is out of his hands because the Ministry of Intelligence must grant the  prison leave, and the Ministry has issues with my husband.  The Tehran  Prosecutor stated that there is a lot of sensitivity around [my  husband].
Kaleme: Your husband won the 2010 Golden Pen of Freedom Prize. How did that feel?
MM:  I had two polar feelings. On one hand, I was truly thrilled and proud  that I have spent years living by the side of such a human being; a  person whose aptitude and influence is applauded by the world. On the  other hand, I am worried that by being given this award, the Islamic  Republic will be even more resistant to him. He will be deprived of more  allowances, such as his right to prison leave. I’m afraid that prison  conditions for my husband will be even more difficult now.
Kaleme: Did Mr. Zeidabadi have any reaction when he heard the news of the prize? What did he say?
MM: This  award was given to my husband last year and the ceremonies took place  this year. Anyway he was very happy to receive such an award. Mr  Zeidabadi is an extremely knowledgeable and talented journalist. Our  country is great at fostering the elite, but unfortunately it does not  know how to utilize these great citizens. On one hand our universities  produce exceptional students, then these same highly educated citizens  are held captive in prison.
Kaleme: Mrs. Zeidabadi, you have three sons. How has your husband’s imprisonment affected their lives?
MM: You  can imagine how important it is for a father to be there for his sons,  especially when they are going through puberty. My two sons who are in  their adolescence and the younger one need their father right now. But,  unfortunately, my innocent children have been deprived of the blessing  of a father for the past year and a half.
Kaleme: How are you holding up? Do you ever cry because of being so far away from your husband?
MM:  Of course, yes, over and over again. I cry because of the injustices  committed against my husband, me, and our children. I have aged  ten  years in the past year and a half. Everyone needs a partner and  confidant in their lives, and we had spent every moment of the last 20  years by each other’s side. I will never forget the moment my husband  was arrested.
Through the camera lens on my i-phone I witnessed  how they took him and dragged him away.  The memory of that moment is  very painful. I have the responsibility of three children on my  shoulders and [the imprisonment] has made my situation even more  difficult. Anyway, we have trust in God, and we must try to have  patience so God may provide retribution.
Kaleme: Throughout Mr. Zeidabadi’s imprisonment he has hardly complained or written any letters. Why is this?
MM:  In practice, he does essentially recognize the law. Even though he is  banned for life from any media activity, he does not accept this  verdict, but prefers to heed to it because of the current situation in  society. Additionally, at the start of the Millennium, he was sentenced  to a five-year ban from any media activity. He has not involved himself  in the press or conducted any interview since then.
Kaleme: How much hope do you have that he will be released before his sentence deadline?
MM:  We have a lot of hope and get by every day holding on to this hope. I  always tell my friends that if they told me on the day of his arrest  that we would endure a year and a half of separation, I probably would  not be able to bear it. Every day we hope that he will be freed. Every  night we sleep with the hopes and dreams of his freedom. I cannot  imagine, even for a moment, that he will actually spend another 4 1/2  years in prison.
Kaleme: Have you thought of the moment when your husband is freed?
 MM: All our daily and nightly dreams are about that moment.
Kaleme: During this time, what were the best and worst moments?
MM: The  worst and most difficult moment was when I watched the i-phone video of  how he was dragged forcefully and taken away by Intelligence agents.  The sweetest moments are the phone calls. With every contact from him we  become re-energized and I am able to discuss issues pertaining to the  kids and make decisions [together] about our life affairs.
Kaleme: How will life change when your husband returns home?
MM: I  think that even if he is freed, we will always live with the fear that  at any moment, the doorbell will ring and they will take him away again.  This feeling has been with us since the year 2000, the first time my  husband was arrested; a constant feeling of insecurity and anxiety. With  every unexpected doorbell or phone call our hearts begin to race.

منبع: کلمه
Translation by Laleh Irani - (Persian2english)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Defund NPR

NPR free to fire Juan Williams and the US Gov has no business funding NPR either. The time's long past when there was a public interesting in funding other sources for news.  Let's pull the budget from NPR and let them stand on their own.  Sarah Palin's got it exactly right.....
At a time when our country is dangerously in debt and looking for areas of federal spending to cut, I think we’ve found a good candidate for defunding. National Public Radio is a public institution that directly or indirectly exists because the taxpayers fund it. And what do we, the taxpayers, get for this? We get to witness Juan Williams being fired from NPR for merely speaking frankly about the very real threat this country faces from radical Islam.

We have to have an honest discussion about the jihadist threat. Are we not allowed to say that Muslim terrorists have killed thousands of Americans and continue to plot the deaths of thousands more? Are we not allowed to say that there are Muslim states that aid and abet these fanatics? Are we not allowed to even debate the role that radical Islam plays in inciting this violence?

I don’t expect Juan Williams to support me (he’s said some tough things about me in the past) – but I will always support his right and the right of all Americans to speak honestly about the threats this country faces. And for Juan, speaking honestly about these issues isn’t just his right, it’s his job. Up until yesterday, he was doing that job at NPR. Firing him is their loss.

If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it’s time for “National Public Radio” to become “National Private Radio.” It’s time for Congress to defund this organization.

NPR says its mission is “to create a more informed public,” but by stifling debate on these issues, NPR is doing exactly the opposite. President Obama should make clear his commitment to free and honest discussion of the jihadist threat in our public debates – and Congress should make clear that unless NPR provides that public service, not one more dime.

Mr. President, what say you?

- Sarah Palin

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Black And Red: "We're Better Than This": Activists Admire Ahmadinejad, Overlook Human Rights Abuses

NOTE: I guess I bungled the blockquotes on this, but I wasn't in attendance at the meeting. Black-and-Red was and I quote them below.

Black and Red posts over at Mostly Water,
Every year during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds a series of strategic dinners and meetings. This year, one of his dinners in New York was held for American anti-war, social justice and peace activists, and I attended it.

I firmly believe in diplomacy and dialogue and am disappointed each year with the growing lack of international cooperation and failing leadership. We saw the same thing surrounding Ahmadinejad’s trip to the UN. The United States and Iran refuse to talk to each other so they talk around one another hoping that their messages will get delivered to those they are seeking to court. Lost in translation between these two countries and the static political posturing they use are the people of Iran and the United States.

While I didn’t know if I would have the opportunity to ask any questions or raise any issues at the meeting, I was hoping that I would be one among many that would challenge Ahmadinejad over Iran’s human rights violations.

Unfortunately, after over one hour of speeches from other activists in the room, I found myself feeling disappointed and dismayed. One after another, the guests at the dinner delivered prepared statements, posing no questions or challenges to the Iranian delegation. Mostly, people expressed outrage over U.S. foreign policy. They lauded Ahmadinejad as a hero for standing up to the bullying of the United States government and likened the meeting to Malcolm X’s encounters in Africa with revolutionaries fighting against colonialism. Many apologized for decades of dire U.S. policy towards Iran, while calling for self-determination for Iran and confidence in Ahmadinejad.

Speech after speech failed to address any calls for solidarity with the brave young men and women in Iran who took to the streets and demanded their rights in the face of government suppression. Iran has upwards of 500 political prisoners and the highest rate of capital punishment in the world. In the last year government critical newspapers have been shut down and countless journalists imprisoned. An estimated 44 people were killed in street protests in the last year.....
Go read it all. It's an excellent insightful post. Sadly, the anwer's no, those in attendance not better than this. I know. I've been there. Start the journey away from this crowd Black and Red.

All Souls in Tulsa Sunday Sermon: Politically Conservative & Religiously Liberal?

I won't be able to live stream it tomorrow but hope they save it in text or video. Clipped from All Souls' site,
There are people who cannot understand how someone can be both politically conservative and religiously liberal. If you wonder the same thing, then this is the Sunday for you! With mid-term elections coming up in a few weeks, there may be an assumption that people who worship alike will vote alike. But no reputable church should ever hitch its star to one political party. Doing so degrades the church’s moral authority, independence, and prophetic witness. Yet, there is often an assumption made, by some, that if a person is in a religiously liberal church, then that person must be politically liberal too.

More than one politically conservative member of the church has told me stories of being in a classroom, Branches group, dinner party, or other conversation with other All Souls members in which everyone in the group talked as if they were sure everyone else must agree with them politically. Conservatives were being so thoroughly mocked and maligned that the person did not feel welcome at church. If you have ever been on either side of these discussions at work, at church, or anywhere, you know what that feels like. And it is a feeling that none of us want to have at our own church.

Mike Wessinger won the prize at last year’s auction to name a sermon topic, and this is the worthy and provocative topic he has chosen. Our Centennial Vision 2021 includes the statement that All Souls be filled with people of all kinds, including a diversity of political persuasions. To that end, it is important that we discuss the differences between religious and political liberalism and conservatism.
I think the problem is talking as if they were sure everyone else must agree with them.... that kinda happens a lot.. too much. I admit though, if a politically conservative UU complains about feeling outcast, I tell 'em it's not like they didn't know what kind of Church they were joining.

Elgin's Northwest Baptist Bible Church just knocked on my door and invited me and the family to cook out tomorrow. Polite guys, waiting for a hint to engage on some doctrine or whatever, but left after the invite and their spiel. Wonder when's the last time a Unitarian or Universalist ever went door-to-door inviting strangers to lunch. Notice I didn't say UU because I can't imagine that happening post 1960.

Friday, October 08, 2010

UU Membership declines

More a marker post than anything with a H/T to Inner Light, Radiant Life for picking up Don Skinner's post in UU World (sitting unopened, unread in my living room). Our RE program threiving, but I'd say membership flat.

I think we're (greater UUism) headed for the perfect storm of bad economic times, and the collapse of political liberalism as an ideology UUs invested far too much faith into, that puts our Church in a crisis.

I'm surprized more haven't picked up the drop and written on it, but then maybe there are more UUWorlds out there unread and unopened.

Dick Blumenthal Stumped On How To Create A Job

Man, this is the difference between Democrats and Republicans, between left and right, it can't be more clearer than this.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ahmad Zeid-Abadi awarded the 2010 Golden Pen of Freedom

Mir Hossein Mousavi
میر حسین موسوی
Ahmad Zeid-Abadi, an Iranian journalist and political analyst who was imprisoned following Iran's disputed presidential election in June, has been awarded the 2010 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Mr Zeid-Abadi is known for an open letter he wro...te from prison in 2000 protesting the judiciary's treatment of imprisoned journalists. The letter was widely distributed despite attempts by authorities to suppress its publication.

His work led Iranian authorities to imprison him again in August on a six-year sentence, and to impose a lifetime ban on practicing his profession as a journalist.

In making the award, the Board of WAN-IFRA said: "All journalists are aware of the dangers of challenging the autocratic regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the actions of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Mr Zeid-Abadi has chosen to repeatedly brave them and publicly support reform and the rule of law in Iran. He was sentenced to six years in prison, five years in internal exile in the town of Gonabad and a lifetime writing ban in the wake of the disputed presidential election in June. Mr Zeid-Abadi has refused to give in, despite the horrific conditions in which he is being held, and his courage makes us feel very humble. We hope Mr Zeid-Abadi's sentence will be overturned."

Mr Zeid-Abadi is the second Iranian journalist to receive the prize in recent years, following Akbar Ganji in 2006.

Mr Zeid-Abadi, who has been in and out of prison since 2000, was among dozens of Iranian journalists who were systematically rounded up and detained following the disputed presidential election in June. He was tried in August, along with more than 40 other journalists and 100 prominent supporters of the country's pro-reform movement, on charges of plotting to overthrow the clerical theocracy with a "soft revolution". He was sentenced to six years in prison. At least twenty-six other journalists are still being held, with some facing sentences ranging from five to nine years.

One week after his trial began, Mr Zeid-Abadi went on a hunger strike to protest his detention, and was hospitalized for 17 days when he was found unconscious in his cell.
Mr Zeid-Abadi, the former chief editor of the Azad newspaper, has appeared in the Tehran-based daily Hamshahari, on the BBC Persian service, and on the Persian/English news site Rooz. He is a member of the Association of Iranian Journalists, and is the elected president of one of Iran's largest student organisations, the Iranian Alumni Association. He is also a professor of political science, and has lectured at many academic institutions, including the Iranian Studies Group at MIT in Tehran.

Mr Zeid-Abadi rose to prominence following his arrest in 2000, and for his letter from prison in which he criticised the judiciary for being "against and in opposition to the Koran's criteria and measures."

He was released on bail in March 2001, only to be imprisoned against less than a year later, when he was sentenced to serve 23 months and banned for five years from "all public and social activity, including journalism." Released in 2004, he found himself at odds once again with the government during the presidential election of 2005, when he published numerous articles calling for a boycott of the national election.

In an interview following his imprisonment nearly a decade ago, Mr Zeid-Abadi described conditions in the notorious Evin prison this way: "The desperation they create in prison is so bad you think it's the end of the world. The criminals use rape, especially with newcomers. And when you're taken everywhere blindfolded and hear horrible, scary screams, and you are put in a tiny cell, you have the feeling you will never see normal life again."

The Golden Pen of Freedom is an annual award made by WAN-IFRA to recognise the outstanding action, in writing and deed, of an individual, a group or an institution in the cause of press freedom.

Source: World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Bronze letters stolen off of Oak Park's Unity Temple

via Chicago Breaking News,
In 1909, Frank Lloyd Wright finished one of his many masterpieces, Unity Temple in Oak Park.

Since then, bronze letters reading “For the worship of God and the service of man” met guests at both entrances, a message from the famous architect about the importance of what was built.

But 101 years later, a thief ripped the words right off the wall.

Officials at Unity Temple are in a state of shock after about 50 bronze letters were stolen from outside the building last week. The letters were apparently pried off the temple, 875 Lake Street, sometime between 10 p.m. Sept. 28 and 9 a.m. Sept. 29. The letters, which are believed to be bronze possibly with other metals, are more than 100 years old.
A friend of mine is a member of a UCC Church not so far away from Unity Temple. It was once the First German Reformed Church of Chicago. They had brand new copper gutters and downspouts installed which was a big mistake. They were ripped off twice before they had the good sense to go plastic.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

RIP: Dr. Farooq Khan

via Pakhtunkhwa Peace Forum
We strongly denounced the martyrdom of Dr. Farooq Khan a well known psychiatrist and an enlightened religious scholar who was killed by terrorists in Mardan. Dr. Farooq Khan was an enlightened religious scholar and he served Islam well and ...he wanted to take Muslims out of the present and prevailing quagmire. He had a feeling for the Muslims and wanted to bring them at par with other nations of the world. His services for the Muslims will be remembered for a long time to come. He was a vice chancellor of the Swat Islamic University and had started to rehabilitate those children who were suffered from the menace of extremism and terrorism. His death created a vacuum which will take a long time to be filled. We demand of the government to arrest the culprit and punish them for their such heinous crime against humanity. Dr. Farroq khan was a true son of this soil and his martyrdom exposed the true faces of terrorists who have only one agenda to kill.
And his vision from,

My Vision and Mission

I am humanist, Muslim, Pakistani and a Pakhtun. To strive for the well being of the whole humanity, to uphold the cause of Muslim Ummah and to exalt the dignity of Pakistan and Pukhtoons is my mission. There is no contradiction between their interests, provided every issue is seen with justice and fair play.

In my opinion there are ten basic values which should be honored by every individual, community, country and the whole mankind. These essential and fundamental values are:
  • Human equality and democratic culture
  • Justice
  • Honesty
  • Merit
  • Hard work and thorough struggle
  • Law abiding mentality
  • Wisdom and patience
  • Education
  • Health
  • Strong and well-coordinated welfare institutions for the down trodden classes.
It is not possible for me to address the whole humanity so I address Muslim Ummah, Pakistan and Pukhtoons. In my opinion the degraded and helpless position of all the above three communities is because of the lack of the above ten fundamental values. We lagged behind in fulfilling and abiding all these values. Without honoring these values, we will not be able to survive as prestigious communities and nations.

The Muslims usually blame others for their plight, but in my view the internal factors are much more important than the external factors and once we overcome our weaknesses and shortcomings then the external world will become favorable slowly and steadily.

Development and dignity of Pakistan and the Ummah is based on the efforts to achieve these ideals and standards. It is very clear that a thorough struggle is needed in this regard. This struggle should be totally free from any kind of violence, sentimentalism and provocative rhetoric.

I always strictly follow the teachings of Quran, Sunnah, and my conscience in pondering over all the collective issues and problems facing us. In my opinion, the Muslim Ummah needs a comprehensive discussion and consensus on the following issues:
  • Status of Women in Islamic Society
  • The real instructions of Islam regarding Jihad and Qital
  • The true perspective of Islamic teachings in crimes and punishment
  • Islamic instructions regarding relations between Muslims and Non-Muslims
I have written a few books on these Issues e.g.:
  • Jihad, Qital aur Aalam-e-Islam (Urdu)
  • Islam Kya hai?(Urdu)
  • Islam and Women (Urdu & English)
  • Dialogue with the West (English)
  • Kashmir Issue (Urdu & English)
  • Ikkisween Saddi aur Pakistan (Urdu)
  • Jadeed Zehan Kay Shubhat Aur Islam Ka Jawab (Urdu)
  • Hudood aur Qisas wa Diyat Ordinance Ka Tanqeedi Jaiza (Urdu)
In my opinion Muslim states must proceed according to the following four important points.
  • To bring democratic culture in Muslim states.
  • To resolve all the disputes and conflicts through peaceful means.
  • To dominate and inculcate the above mentioned ten basic collective values in their states.
  • To make a serious and conscious advance in the field of science and technology.
  • I have written extensively on the above issues.
This is my vision and the struggle for this purpose is the mission of my life.