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Saturday, July 5, 2008

OUR TEACHERS UNION AT WORK

Some
of the almost 10,000 members of the National Education Association
(NEA) attending the teachers union's annual conference this week in the
nation's capital spoke out on the issues they hope their lobbyists will
fight for during next year's legislative session, including the
establishment of a peace academy, in-state college tuition and a path
to citizenship for illegal immigrants who graduate from high school.

Susie
Jablinske, a first grade teacher at Central Elementary School in
Edgewater, Md., said children who are in the country illegally should
have the same educational rights as American children.

She
proposed that the NEA add the following words to its resolution to
develop programs to help minority students become college graduates,
regardless of immigration status: "Access to higher education and
in-state tuition, regardless of immigration status, as well as paths to
legalization to undocumented high school graduates," Jablinske proposed.

She said as many as 65,000 graduates from U.S. public high schools are "undocumented," even if they don't know it.

"Many
of them actually didn't even know they were undocumented until they
started applying for a driver's license or financial aid for college,"
she said.

Outgoing NEA President Reg Weaver, in an interview with The Hill
newspaper in February, said that the NEA - with a membership of 3.2
million - plans to spend $40-$50 million to help get candidates who
will help advance its agenda in the 2008 election, including the
union's endorsement and support for Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

"We
plan to be very aggressive," Weaver said in the interview, citing at
least 25 House and nine Senate races around the country the NEA
supports.

"We also knew that our commitment to public education
would require us to employ new strategies in the political arena,"
Weaver said in his keynote address at the start of the NEA
Representative Assembly of delegates on Thursday.

"So we had
the courage to create a campaigns and elections department, which
helped us win important battles last year in states like Utah,
Kentucky, Virginia, Washington state and others," he added.

Members
who spoke at a legislative hearing on Wednesday told lobbyists what
they hoped would be priorities in the 111th Congress, including the
creation of a federal post-secondary institute devoted to peace.

Ken
Curtis, a retired teacher from Missouri, said he wanted to amend the
NEA's "Good Public Policy" legislative platform to include a "peace"
academy that would hold the same status as its military counterparts,
including offering degree programs.

"I've had the good fortune
in the last four or five years to visit a number of countries, and I'm
disturbed about the image the United States has in terms of being an
advocate of peace," Curtis said. "We have somehow developed a
reputation that we are not a peace-loving country, and I think that
this would be a step in the right direction."

Curtis said a peace academy would send the right message to the world.

"Look,
we're in favor of establishing a peaceful community worldwide, and
we're trying to do that right here in the United States," he said.

The
session's moderator agreed it would be a step in the right direction,
but that it would most likely take "a new attitude at 1600 Pennsylvania
Avenue" to take that step.

Delegates at the conference elected
officers and updated its core mission statement, or Resolutions, on a
wide range of educational and other issues, including human rights - a
topic addressed by one of the delegates at the legislative session in
another proposed amendment of the "Good Public Policy" section of NEA
Resolutions.

"The NEA opposes torture and other cruel, inhuman,
or degrading treatment or punishment of persons in the custody or under
the physical control of the United States government, regardless of
nationality or physical location," the delegate said.

A 45-page report detailing the NEA's vision for the future of public education also was unveiled at the conference.

"Great
Public Schools for Every Student by 2020; Achieving a New Balance in
the Federal Role to Transform America's Public Schools," spells out
that vision, including a condemnation of the No Child Left Behind
policy, a cornerstone of the Bush administration.

In the
introduction to the report, William Blakely, chairman of the board of
the Council on Legal Education Opportunity or CLEO, offered advice to
the winner of the 2008 presidential election.

"The National
Education Association has taken a bold step and articulated a brave
vision for redefining the federal role in education for the next
president of the United States," Blakely said.

"(The report)
challenges the nation by outlining a vision for educating America's
children and assuring the nation will provide 'liberty and justice' for
all. Our next president would do well to heed the words and wisdom
reflected in this important document," he added.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

JORDAN'S LEGAL JIHAD !!!!!

n a
brazen attempt to stifle free speech in the West, a Jordanian court
recently summoned twelve European citizens to answer criminal charges
of blasphemy and inciting hatred.



Among those sought by the court is Geert Wilders, the Dutch liberal politician who made the anti-Islamist film, Fitna.
Released last March, the Dutch MP’s production caused an uproar in
Islamic countries, since it equated Islam with violence. Now a Middle
Eastern court would like to prosecute Wilders for the “crime.”
(Ironically, a Dutch court dropped charges against him for inciting
hatred against Muslims with his film the day before the Jordanian court
issued its subpoena.)



The Jordanian court’s move is only the most ambitious attempt to
silence debate about Islam. Until now, the preferred strategy has been
to file civil lawsuits in western courts to intimidate critics. The
latest version of what may be called the legal jihad is even more disturbing.



In one subpoena, issued in early June, the Jordanian court ordered
ten Danish newspaper editors to travel to Jordan for the “crime” of
having republished the “Mohammad cartoons” last February. The cartoons,
first published in 2005, were also greeted with disturbances in Muslim
lands. Seventeen Danish newspapers republished the controversial
cartoons as a response to the discovery of an Islamist plot to murder
Kurt Westergaard. Westergaard, a caricaturist, drew the most famous of
those cartoons in the form of Mohammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban,
for which he is also included in the summons.



This new campaign of intimidation against the West is being mounted
by a Jordanian organization calling itself “Messenger of Allah Unite
Us”, which is made up of “… media outlets, professional associations,
parliamentarians and thousands of volunteers.” This organization,
according to one account, arose as a “civilized response” to the
Mohammad cartoons’ republication in 17 Danish papers last winter, after
which it took the matter to a Jordanian court and successfully had
charges pressed against the Danes, and later against Wilders.



The subpoenas will be sent to the twelve Europeans through their
embassies in Jordan. If they do not appear within 15 days, the
Messenger of Allah group says it will seek international arrest
warrants through Interpol.



But while Denmark and Holland will not forcibly send innocent
citizens to Jordan, this new, “legal jihad” tactic of criminalizing
those believed to have insulted Islam constitutes a threat on an
unprecedented level against freedom.



Citizens of western countries who criticize Islam, and are even
willing to face lawsuits in civil courts their own countries for doing
so, may now exercise restraint if they risk facing criminal charges in
a Muslim country. Especially if the charge is blasphemy and it is being
tried by a sharia court, which can impose a death sentence (The Danes
and Wilders, a Jordanian lawyer said, are facing a maximum of three
years in jail).



As well, critics of Islam who have outstanding warrants against them
from courts in Muslim countries will have their freedom of movement
restricted, since travel abroad will now be problematic. Wilders
expressed this sentiment, saying he will be careful when he travels
now. Such targeted individuals, like Wilders, will obviously have
reservations travelling to a third country where Jordan could file an
extradition application or may already have an extradition treaty in
place.



But what is most disturbing is that an Islamic country would dare
subpoena citizens of another state for an action not committed within
its borders but in a land where no laws were broken. Besides being
meant as a weapon of intimidation, this tactic also represents a
frightening extension of Islamic law into the heart of western
countries.



But perhaps most ominously, this incredibly brazen measure shows
that even a small Islamic country like Jordan has no fear of Europe.
And, indeed, no retaliatory response met the Jordanian court’s action
against European citizens.



Europe’s appeasement is also evident in the second part of Messenger
For Allah group’s anti-blasphemy campaign. This part calls for a
commercial boycott of all Danish and Dutch products in Jordan and of
anything associated with the two countries, such as airlines and
shipping companies. The boycott campaign actually began late last
February but was suspended due to the losses Jordanian importers were
incurring that had large stocks of unsold Danish and Dutch products.



The boycott, however, was resumed June 10. One million posters
containing the logos of banned Dutch and Danish products will
eventually hang in Jordanian businesses under the title “Living Without
It.” The boycott will also be spread by television and radio ads,
t-shirts, and bumper stickers.



Dutch and Danish companies were instructed they could get their
products off the boycott list if they, essentially, betrayed their
nations’ values and their countrymen. The affected companies, according
to The Jordan Times, were told to denounce the Dutch film and the
Danish cartoons in the media both in Jordan and in at least one
publication in their own country, support the Jordanian legal action
taken against Wilders and the Danish newspaper people as well as the
creation of an international anti-blasphemy law.



Several companies have already complied. When informed of the
stipulation that requires a denunciation be published in a Dutch
newspaper, a spokesman for a Dutch food company that exports to Jordan
said his company “…would print it if needed.”



But such groveling will only buy these companies a little time, as
another Dutch company discovered. It had immediately distanced itself
from Wilders and Fitna after the film’s release last March but still
had products placed on the boycott posters.



The Dutch government did not fare much better in its appeasement
efforts. One Dutch embassy official in Jordan said he was surprised his
country was included in the boycott in the first place since his
government had already printed statements in the Jordanian press
distancing itself from Wilders’ film.



And, naturally, the Jordanian blackmailers’ demands have not
stopped. Only last week, Dutch and Danish companies were told to put
the boycott posters up in their own countries if they did not want
their products blacklisted.



Perhaps to further intimidate Holland’s and Denmark’s populations,
the Jordanians are also claiming their boycott campaign is causing
these countries huge financial losses of over four billion Euros in
four months. A Danish official, however, says that is ridiculous since
his country only exported about $50 million worth of goods to Jordan in
2007.



The overall goal of the Messenger of Allah group’s legal and
commercial campaign against the two European states, it says, is the
enactment of “a universal law that prohibits the defamation of any
prophet or religion”, especially of the Prophet Mohammad. Islamic
countries are already pushing for such a law at the United Nations.



“The boycott is a means but not an end,” said Zakaria Sheikh, a
spokesperson for Messenger of Allah Unite Us. “We are not aiming at
collective punishment, but when the Danish and Dutch people put
pressure on their governments to support the creation of an
international law, we are achieving our goal.”



Well, there you have it. The Muslim organization wants Denmark and
Holland not just to muzzle themselves but to help it muzzle the rest of
the world as well.



But just the opposite should occur. All western countries should
help put a muzzle on Jordan’s ridiculous campaign to squelch free
speech, meddle in the internal affairs of two sovereign, western states
and intimidate their citizens. In terms of financial measures, Denmark,
showing its usual mettle, has already led the way when it told the
Sudan it would have to repay a $500 million debt the Scandinavian
country was considering cancelling, if it joined the boycott.



It should also be pointed out in the West that Jordan, which is
demanding respect for its religion, does not respect other religions
equally. While the practice of other faiths is not forbidden in the
Middle Eastern country, none are allowed to proselytize, and converts
from Islam to other religions are prosecuted by Jordanian sharia
courts.



Moreover, the Jordanians should be told that if they want to
extradite inciters of hatred to their courts, then citizens of their
country, and of other Islamic countries for that matter, who have
advocated killing Jews and other the infidels will be extradited to
face western courts. In the end, if legal jihad is not recognized as
the danger to the West that it is, and vigorously opposed, it will wind
up punishing more than just two small European countries.