November 28 2008
November 13 2008
U.S. Interest in Shariah Finance Opens Dangerous Doors, Critics Say
Thursday, November 13, 2008
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Shariah-compliant banking, sometimes called Islamic banking, is growing in popularity in the Western and Islamic worlds. But critics say American interest in the system at a time of economic crisis is opening the door to increased Islamic influence in the American banking system. Worse yet, some fear the banks may be helping to finance international terrorism.
In Shariah-compliant banking, lenders may not charge interest and investors cannot make money from forbidden industries like gambling, alcohol, pork and pornography. Selling debt, devising derivatives and short selling are also prohibited, and investments must be closely tied to actual assets.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Islamic Index tracks Shariah-compliant companies and funds, and funds have sprung up like the Amana Mutual Funds Trust and the Azzad Asset Management.
American investment funds, like those offered by TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab, can invest in Shariah-compliant companies, and those companies can offer investments in American companies. Top holdings in the Azzad Ethical Midcap Fund, for example, include Western Digital Corp., Southwest Electric Co. and Apple Computer, Inc.
But allowing Shariah-compliant finance in the U.S. is green-lighting a seditious system that supports jihad, said Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C./**/
"If you understand what Shariah is, you understand that it is a pretty awful system. Not something that you'd want insinuated in your society and becoming a major feature of your economic system," Gaffney said.
"Shariah (Islamic law as dictated by the Koran) governs all aspects of life, from the personal practice of the faith to how you relate to your family to how you relate to your business partners, to your community ... all the way up to how the world is run, and it is all one seamless program. You can't say 'I'll take the personal pietistic practice ... and skip the beheading and the flogging and the stoning and the global theocracy,'" he said.
Punishments for some crimes under Shariah law include amputation and stoning to death. On Tuesday it was revealed that a 53-year-old Egyptian doctor had been sentenced under Shariah law in Saudi Arabia to 15 years in prison and 1,500 lashes for allegedly getting a Saudi princess in his care addicted to drugs.
But despite Islamic banking's association with Shariah's harsh practices, the U.S. government is taking an interest in it.
On Oct. 25, while on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Robert M. Kimmitt told reporters that the U.S. was interested in learning more about Islamic finance, and the Treasury Department held an "Islamic Finance 101" course in Washington on Nov. 6 to educate government officials on its ins and outs.
Islamic banking and investment products sprang up beginning in the 1970s when the Middle East experienced its first oil boom, and have been growing in popularity as oil prices soared in the past few years.
Yet it's unclear who is investing in Shariah-compliant mutual funds and other investments, Gaffney said. "An awful lot of them seem to be petrodollar-rich potentates and companies and royal families."
Nicholas Kaiser, fund manager at Amana Mutual Funds Trust in Bellingham, Wash., said that his company's Shariah-compliant mutual fund products are no different from any other religious funds and that the company carefully screens its investors.
"Our shareholders are American. We don't take money from non-Americans because of money-laundering laws. We have to know our shareholders and be sure they aren't engaged in nefarious activities. We screen and check and verify every shareholder," Kaiser said.
He disagrees with Gaffney's assertion that Islamic funds are a threat to the American way of life.
"We simply take people's money, invest it and give it back to them when they want it. We don't try and convert the country. We don't have any religious position. We aren't evangelical. We aren't zealots. We're money managers," Kaiser said. "I happen to be Episcopalian."
Azzad Asset Management declined to be interviewed for this story.
Estimates put the Islamic banking industry in the hundreds of billions of dollars. And while it's a small portion of the global finance industry, the Islamic sector is growing — by more than 30 percent in 2007.
A board of Shariah scholars determines which investments are compliant.
As Shariah law forbids charging interest, Shariah-compliant mortgages, like those offered by Devon Bank in Chicago and Guidance Residential, which operates in 23 states, are attracting pious Muslim buyers.
In one type of Shariah-compliant mortgage the bank buys a home and then either leases or re-sells it to the purchaser in monthly installments — interest-free, but at a higher price.
The bank's profit and the buyer's payments wind up being similiar to what they would be if the bank charged interest, said Ibrahim Warde, adjunct professor of international business at Tufts University.
"In the Koran there's a verse saying that making money from trade is good and making money from money lending is not, so basically whenever transactions are structured, they are sales transactions," he said.
Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy, said that whether they're sound investments or not, conforming to Shariah shouldn't be American policy.
"We should not allow Islamic banking to continue and definitely not to flourish in this country," Ehrenfeld said.
"Muslims in the United States who want to conduct their business according to Islamic banks can do it with mortgages ... but to allow Islamic banking as a rule to operate — it's our money and we shouldn't be abiding by Islamic laws. Period. I don’t want to have any kind of association with any laws that dictate wife-beating in Saudi Arabia," she said.
Ehrenfeld said that the practice of "zakat" — giving alms to the poor — while innocent on the surface can in fact be used to promote terrorism and the spread of radical Islam.
She said that that the money the Shariah banks give to charities goes to build madrassas and mosques and spread radical Islam and anti-American sentiment.
"They also send money to Hamas. They also send money to Al Qaeda," she said. "This is a huge Pandora's box. We don't know what the hell is going on with their charities ... even if nobody will say openly that they're giving money to terrorism."
In June, the Kuwait-based charity Revivial of Islamic Heritage Society was designated by the U.S. Treasury for providing money and material support to Al Qaeda, its affilitates and to acts of terrorism.
"It is illegal for anyone in the United States to provide funds to charities that have been designated by the Treasury Department as supporters of terrorism under Executive Order 13224. If the Treasury Department has information that anyone in the United States were engaged in such activity, we would take appropriate action," said Treasury spokesman Andrew DeSouza.
Warde, however, said that there is no reason to think that all Islamic financial institutions have terrorist ties.
"There are some people who equate all things Islamic to terrorism," he said. "Some people look at the world that way. We've seen that during the presidential campaign with the insinuations that Obama was a Muslim, therefore a terrorist. I don't think we should give much credence to that."
He said critics are not being fair to the system.
"People who don't like Islam and who are afraid of Islam would obviously not like the notion of Islamic finance. I'm not sure that those who hold this view necessarily know much about it, but it's some kind of visceral view that some people hold," Warde said.show_baynote_guide("ArticleGuide");
November 06 2008
November 03 2008
> *It is **August 30, 2008**. My name is Mark Gregg. I am a 50 something
> conservative white male. I have followed your campaign closely,
> including the speeches you and others made at the democratic national
> convention. I am respectfully providing you with seven simple (probably
> shallow) reasons why I could never vote for you. I believe my opinion
> is shared by many people. While there may not be quite enough to
> prevent you from becoming president of this nation, I do think there is
> an awakening to the fact that you are not a (the) messiah that the media
> and liberal Hollywood entertainers are trying to portray you. *
> *1. I hear your mantra of change, change, change. Yet, you picked a
> long term, liberal, **Washington insider** ( ) to be your
> running mate. This is NOT change. It is a move that hypocritically
> refutes the very thing you supposedly stand for. Your campaign then
> slammed McCain for picking , apparently, because she is NOT
> a **Washington** insider. She is a maverick who cleaned-up **Alaska**'s
> quagmire of political scandals. Which way is it, Barack? Is it okay
> for you to pick a Washington**** insider under the mantra of 'change',
> but not okay for to pick a smart, aggressive, reformer? *
> * *
> *2. You have the single most liberal voting record in the senate. This
> indicates to me and others like me that you may very well be an angry
> black man seeking to punish our country for sins of a different
> generation. I am not racist. I have some biases just like you and every
> other human alive. Unlike the democrat party who claims to be for the
> minority (but their record heavily refutes this), I will give any person
> who truly needs help, help. I married a 'minority' girl 35 years ago
> (she is Hispanic) and have seen the evils of prejudice first hand.
> However, I have also seen my wife and my children and others in her
> family throw off the veil of self imposed prejudicial bondage and move
> ahead. They love our country and do not view themselves any different
> than I view myself as a citizen of this country. Your lovely wife so
> disappointed people like me during this campaign when she stated it was
> the first time she had ever been proud of this country. She apparently
> never noticed the massive aid we give dozens of other countries. She
> apparently never noticed the sacrifice of literally millions of veterans
> who helped make this country a free nation and helped liberate other
> nations from brutal dictators such as . She apparently does
> not remember that she attended ivy league universities with scholarship
> money that ultimately (at least some of it) was paid for by our taxes.
> This troubles me more than you know. She is an angry black woman who
> appears to not like her country very much. I don't want her
> representing me to the rest of the world. *
> * *
> *3. You claim Christianity but apparently do not realize that the Bible
> teaches that he who does not work, does not eat. The Bible does not say
> or even suggest that he who CANNOT work, should not eat. Yet, your
> liberal policies reward people who are capable of working, but choose to
> not do so. This bothers me. I know that if you are elected our taxes
> will spiral upwards. You should heed the words of Winston Churchill:
> 'We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is
> like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the
> handle.' If I like anything about you, it is your campaign promise to
> balance the federal budget. Unfortunately, we have heard this a huge
> number of times from a number of different politicians and we realize
> that when you energize the very liberal , , Ted
> Kennedy, etc, etc, and the many other democrats like them, a balanced
> budget will never, ever happen on your watch.
> *4. During your question and answer session with Rick Warren of
> Saddleback Church your answer concerning the question of where does life
> begin, stunned me: 'Above your pay grade?' Does this mean when
> something bad happens as President of this nation that you are going to
> look at your salary to determine if you can respond? I am sorry, but
> this was the most serious gaffe I have seen you make. Frankly, it shows
> me that you are pandering in the most obvious manner. You will choose
> your words not from your heart, but from an agenda that I believe is
> still hidden from the American people. *
> * *
> *5. If anything stands out about you it is probably your appeasement
> mentality. In this era of rampant, radical Islamic extremism and with
> the latest stunt pulled by the re-energized Russian government, I am not
> sure appeasement is healthy. I again revert to the words of Winston
> Churchill: 'An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will
> eat him last.' *
> * *
> *6. You and your party tacitly believe that a 13 or 14 year old girl
> must have the parents approval to have the school nurse provide them
> with a Tylenol when they have a headache at school. Yet, this same girl
> can become pregnant and the school can skirt her off to a clinic and
> abort the child in her body without the parents knowing or being
> notified. This scares the h--- out of me. You have two little girls.
> Would you be upset if this happened to them and you were not informed?
> Then why do you stand for this? It makes no sense to me. *
> * *
> *7. My seventh and final point (for now) is your supporters. I have
> watched the **Hollywood entertainers** that support you, systematically
> embrace Hugo Chavez of **Venezuela** and others like him. I see the
> continuous smut and garbage produced by ** **, the very people
> who promote you the most vigorously. It is not a positive point to me
> and others like me to see these over-paid, bizarre, poor examples of
> human existence fawn over you and push you and your liberal agenda as
> hard as they do. The way I see it. When the devil is for you, we should
> question whether or not we should be against you. *
> * *
> *In closing, I just want you to know that you scare me. I cannot vote
> for you. It is not because of your skin color. It is because these
> items I've listed and many, many others like them. Do not claim that my
> dislike for you is race based. It is because I do not feel you have the
> best interests of this nation at heart. *
> * *
> *Respectfully, *
> * *
> * *
> *Mark A. Gregg*
November 01 2008
What do you think?
Eighth-Grade Boy Sent Home From School for Jesus Christ Halloween Costume
Saturday, November 01, 2008
PARAMUS, N.J. — Dressing up as Jesus Christ for Halloween turned out to be a problem for a northern New Jersey boy.
Alex Woinski, an eighth-grader at West Brook Middle School in Paramus, was sent home from school on Friday because of his costume.
Alex, who has shoulder-length brown hair, wore a white robe, a red sash, sandals, a fake beard and a crown of thorns.
His mother says Alex was told he could keep the costume on if he removed the beard and crown of thorns, but he declined.
Superintendent James Montesano says the district doesn't want students wearing costumes that could be distracting.
Alex's mother is Catholic, and his father is Jewish.
He recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and is studying Bible scripture, according to his mom.show_baynote_guide("ArticleGuide");
October 22 2008
September 29 2008
Branson, MO (PRWEB) September 24, 2008 -- The song "Get Out and Vote." on the new CD/DVD "Don't Make Me Come Down There" by The Fischers addresses head-on such controversial issues as abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration, slack politicians, and left versus right, all in just under 3 minutes of explosive, heart-pumping music.ischer believes, "In this election of 2008, it is absolutely inexcusable for any true believer not to vote. At this crucial time in our nation's history, with so much at stake, we must get out and vote for Godly values, the values that America was founded on. "We need to stand up and be counted. We need to rally one another. Anyone considering not voting should remember that 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." If we don't "get out and vote, the Devil will."
Fischer, 61, who served 24 years overseas in mission work, is appalled at the horrible, spiritual condition to which America has sunk in the past half-century. He quotes Psalm 9:17: "The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God."
Fischer emphasizes, "It's the 'forget God' part of which we in America are particularly guilty. We are a nation founded on Biblical principles by Christians--people with a strong faith in God and a respect for His Word. He is what made us the greatest, most powerful, most respected nation on earth. Now that we have turned our back on Him, we should not be surprised when showing him our backside that He gives us all a good, swift kick in the butt."
The new CD cover identifies God in the clouds shaking His finger and saying, "Don't Make Me Come Down There." That is also the title of the project's title. Fischer says, "I believe God has got a right to be angry. After all, we've thrown Him out of our schools, made it illegal for our children to pray in school, taught them that God did not create the heavens and the earth, as the Bible teaches, but that there was a 'Big Bang' and millions of years of 'evil-ution." To date, 43-million blessings of God have been aborted, while men and women across our country embrace and support this sacrifice of human life by calling it "choice."
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV) "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." Fischer says, "Could it be any clearer? America, this is an open-book test; God is revealing to you the right answer--Choose Life. America, It's time to wake up and turn around!"
The Fischers are a family of Christian entertainers, Mike, Karyn, Sam (11) and Reuben (7). Performing together since 2003, they currently reside in Branson, Missouri.
The CD "Don't Make Me Come Down There" contains six "issue-oriented" songs, including, "Stone-Cold Dead," a gutsy, in-your-face declaration on the right to bear arms. It challenges, "Ain't no way they're gettin' my guns unless I'm stone-cold dead."
September 19 2008
Think about this!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Ten Dating Red Flags
When determining if you should let things get serious, remember: actions speak louder than words. With that being said, here are ten dating red flags. If you see any of these, do yourself a favor and reconsider if it's worth it for you.
1. You are not on the VIP list for breaking news
Were you the last to learn about this person's job promotion or newborn niece or nephew? Once things are serious, you should be among the first to know about exciting news, or bad news.
2. They avoid meeting your family or friends
If they are shying away from meeting your friends/family consistently, then there are problems. Even if they are very shy, they should want to meet those who are important to you.
Healthy relationships don't require bending over backwards all the time, but a certain amount of sacrifice is necessary in a selfless union. When two of my friends first started dating one another, she demanded that he go to Farm Aid for her birthday, which was also the opening NFL football Sunday. While all the guys gathered to watch the games, he was sweltering on some field attending Farm Aid -- an event he never would have gone to if she hadn't have invited him. Now that's sacrifice.
4. They can't fit in your future
I admit it. When I meet girls, I envision future moments I may some day share with them. Most of my scenarios are her with me and my family at a Thanksgiving holiday or at a summer crabfeast. If I'm really into her, I usually relish the thought. If not, I kinda cringe.
5. They are too controlling
It's scary but I've seen many relationships where guys forbid girls to hang out with certain friends, or wear certain clothes. Major problem if someone is controlling you and not allowing you to be who you want to be within a relationship.
6. The "what are we" conversation fails miserably
Almost every relationship hits that crossroads where you both decide if it's worth taking the plunge into being exclusive and calling each other boyfriend/girlfriend. If they are confused and surprised that you're ready to get serious, the timing is not right, and you should try to figure out how long you want to wait around until they are ready.
7. They talk about plans that don't involve you
My sister has major wanderlust. She's always talking about heading off to Chicago or living in London for a year. She often talks about these things with no regard for the fact that she has a boyfriend at the time. If you find that someone is making plans or talking about far off places without inviting you along for the ride, don't let yourself get too into this person.
8. Your friends or family don't like them
Remember that your friends and family know you best. Don't take their thoughts with a grain of salt. It's one thing if a person or two don't get along with your significant other, but if a lot of them are saying you should reconsider, then do it. Unfortunately, we often find out about how much our friends hated that person after this person is gone.
9. They violated your trust
Whether it's cheating or a little lie that they got caught in, it will be hard to regain trust. Trust is something we don't give away easily, and once it's gone it's hard to get it back. We'll always be wondering about that lie, and doubt will creep in more and more as our minds fixate on that lie. Too often, people take trust for granted and once they lose it they never get it back.
10. You practice "unbalanced dating"
Are you always seeing his friends or doing things that he wants to do? Do you just let him pick the restaurants and events? Or is it the other way around? Relationships are fun when you are both able to contribute. If you're not taking turns creating fun times together, it will most likely fizzle out.
What would you add to the list? Ever been a victim of any of these red flags?
September 14 2008
Subject: Detective Columbo with Obama
Columbo still scratching his head?
Ah?Sorry to bother you Mr. Obama, Sir
> Excuse me Mr. Obama, I mean , sir. Um . . Know you are busy
> and important and stuff. I mean running for president is very important
> and . . . Ah . . . I hate to bother you. I will only take a minute ok, sir?
> See, I have these missing pieces that are holding me up, and I was
> wondering sir, if you could take time out of your busy schedule and help
> me out. You know, no big deal, just some loose ends and things.
> Hey, you have a nice place here! The wife sees houses like this on TV
> all the time and says boy she wishes she had digs like this you know? Is
> that painting real? Really? Wow. I saw something like that in a museum
> Oh, sorry sir. I didn't mean to get off the track. So if you could just
> help me out a minute and give me some details, I will get right out of
> your way. I want to close this case and maybe take the wife to Coney
> Island or something. Ever been to Coney Island ? No, I didn't think so. .
> Well, listen, anyways, I can't seem to get some information I need to
> wrap this up. These things seem to either be 'locked' or 'not
> available'. I'm sure it's just some oversight or glitch or something, so
> if you could you tell me where these things are . . . I . . . I . . .
> Have them written down here somewhere . . . Oh wait. Sorry about the
> smears. It was raining out. I'll just read it to you.
> Could you help me please find these things, sir?
> 1. Occidental College records -- Not released
> 2. -- Not released
> 3. Columbia Thesis paper -- 'not available'
> 4. -- Not released
> 5. Selective Service Registration -- Not released
> 6. Medical records -- Not released
> 7. schedule -- 'not available'
> 8. Law practice client list -- Not released
> 9. Certified Copy of original -- Not released
> 10. Embossed, signed paper of Live Birth -- Not released
> 11. Harvard Law Review articles published -- None
> 12. scholarly articles -- None
> 13. Your Record of baptism-- Not released or 'not available'
> 14. Your Illinois State Senate records--'not available'
> Oh hey . Listen! I know you are busy! Is this too much for you now? I
> mean tell you what. I will come back tomorrow. Give you some time to get
> these things together, you know? I mean, I know you are busy, so I will
> just let myself out. I will be back tomorrow.
> 'Who wants to know these things?' asked Senator Obama.
> Columbo answered: THE PEOPLE