By Charmaine Holland
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Masjid Al-Shareef of Long Beach tossed the disposables during the recent Ramadan in a step toward environmental stewardship, which is an essential part of the Islamic way of life.
Some may have noticed that this Ramadan, Masjid Al-Shareef introduced some new plates and cups with which to enjoy the blessing of a meal. Besides making iftar time a little more colorful, these reusable dishes served a worthy purpose: Cutting down on waste and making the Masjid more eco-friendly, while earning some more “hasanat” during this special month.
The serving-ware was donated by a community member, and several other Masjid attendees volunteered their time daily after iftar to wash the dishes and maintain the kitchen area.
By replacing disposable plates and cups with reusable ones, Masjid Al-Shareef, by itself, can have a huge positive impact on the environment. Do the math:
At least 60 people enjoyed iftar here every day; that means 60 plates and 60 cups used daily.
For 30 days of Ramadan, that adds up to 3,600 pieces of styrofoam and plastic being tossed in the trash.
This waste clogs up trash dumps, litters the land, pollutes the ocean, and poisons water, soil, animals and crops. By making the commitment to employ reusable dishes instead, this community can make an important contribution to the health of the earth.
“Going Green” is all the rage these days, but Muslims are no strangers to the idea of living conscientiously and conservatively. Allah (SWT) constantly reminds in the Qur’an of the Bountiful Resources He has granted and makes humans the stewards of the earth.
Verses extolling the grandeur and value of His creation abound in the Qur’an: “It is He Who has brought into being gardens, the cultivated ones and those growing wild, and the date-palm, and fields bearing multiform produce, and the olive tree, and the pomegranate: [all] resembling one another and yet so different!
“Eat of their fruit when it comes to fruition, and give [unto the poor] their due on harvest day. And do not waste [G-d’s Bounties]; verily, He does not love the wasteful!” (Qur’an 6:141)
The Prophet (SAW) directed Muslims to protect the amenities which Allah has provided so abundantly, saying, “The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily Allah, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it. And He sees how you acquit yourselves.” (Muslim)
In the deen (way of life) of Al-Islam, which teaches that we are held accountable for the tiniest of actions, we have an inherent motivation to refrain from wasting resources and bringing harm to nature.
Our consciousness about the environment should stem not just from being fashionably “green” like everyone else, but from our love and fear of Allah (SWT) and respect for His magnificent creation.
Giving up disposable goods during Ramadan may seem like an inconsequential step, but there can be no doubt that the greatest reward from such an action is from Allah SWT. The promise of our Lord is true for every single deed, and we are behooved to send forth as much good from our hands as possible, no matter how small or large the action.
The Prophet (SAW) advised: “Even if the day of resurrection comes upon any one of you while he has a seedling in hand, let him plant it.” (Muslim) Thus, we should not hesitate to do what we can to be excellent caretakers of this earth.
What better time to undertake this effort than during the blessed month of Ramadan, when the reward for a good deed is multiplied many times over. Insha’allah, this first step will be an encouragement to increase our environmental consciousness in our own daily lives, as well as an example for our fellow Muslims in other masajid and communities for all of the rest of the year.
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Two years is a relatively short period of time, but as Allah (SWT) says in Qur’an, Surah Al-Asr (Time Through the Ages): “By the token of time through the ages, surely man is in loss, except such as have Faith and do righteous deeds and join together in the mutual enjoining of Truth and of Patience and Constancy.”
Masjid Al-Shareef continues to exemplify Muslim community life and to be a beacon of light in the Long Beach area, by using time wisely. This year, Masjid Al-Shareef marked the two-year anniversary of its Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School (MASS) program at their Pre-Ramadan Dinner.
After opening with a dua by Bro. Ashraf Bhuiyan, a parent of MASS, student Tasneem Khatib welcomed everyone and recited a Ramadan poem. The students then led the way with the Sunday School’s Ramadan Blessings and Du’a Tree.
The Ramadan Blessings and Du’as Tree came about as a way for the students and families of MASS to stay mindful of the Mercy and Blessings of Allah (SWT), especially during the month of Ramadan.
Each student was asked to list something which they are thankful to Allah for and to write a du’a of what they would want to ask for this Ramadan. Some of the students came and presented their blessings and du’as written on leaves.
Each student then placed the leaves on the bare tree. All of the audience was invited to do the same. There were leaves at everyone’s seat to write down their own blessings and du’a, sign their names and add them to the Blessings and Du’as Tree at the end of the program.
What a beautiful sight as the tree slowly became heavy with the leaves of thankfulness and du’a against the backdrop of the room decorated with traditional Ramadan fanoos (laterns).
The program also was filled with Qur’an recitations by the some of the School’s top reciters: Muhamad Putra, Chelsea Rahman, Shahrir Bhuiya, Fayza Elshafie and Fathalla Elshafie.
Everyone appeared jubilant and enjoyed the dinner prepared by the parents, as they looked on at a slide show presentation of the many accomplishments and events of MASS over the past year.
After dinner, Bro. Kazem Elshafie, the Arabic Teacher presented the students with certificates for Good Attendance, Distinctive Progress, and Excellence in Effort.
As principal of MASS, I had the honor of presenting Certificates of Appreciation to some very surprised and deserving parents and supporters of MASS and announced the results of the Islamic Studies Fair.
The announcement of the results Second Annual Islamic Studies Fair was met with great anticipation. Students, ages 6-18, of MASS were asked to research and do some critical thinking on an Islamic topic of their choice, following specific guidelines and present their conclusions before a panel of judges.
This year, the range of topics were quite extensive and showed a great deal of progress in the reasoning skills of the students. The judges grouped the students into two age categories, 6 to 11 and 12-18, and questioned them on their findings, research and conclusions.
In the end, six students worked their way toward either first, second or third place trophies.
From the 6-11 age group, Tasneem Khatib won First Place with her project, The Future of Islam in America: How Muslim Americans Can Impact Islam in the World. Fayza Elsahfie won Second Place with her project on Ramadan. Nawaf Ahmed won Third Place with his project on Eid.
From the 12-18 age group, Shahrir Bhuiya won First Place for his project, Performing Salat. Chelsea Rahman won Second Place for her project, What are the Five Pillars of Islam? Muhamad Putra was the Third Place winner with his project called Islam in the Orient.
All of the winners received trophies and each participant received a certificate.
Another of the highlights of the dinner came as Bro. Ahmed Saafir gave an impressive introduction to Imam Haroon Abdullah, the founder of Masjid Al-Shareef. Bro Ahmed recounted meeting the Imam in his youth and how he witnessed Imam Abdullah’s establishment and formation of the Masjid from the early 1970s until the present.
Imam Abdullah received a standing ovation from the crowd. The entire room fell completely silent with complete attention and respect being paid to Imam Abdullah as he told the history of the Masjid.
It was the first time for many of the believers to hear of how the early members of Masjid Al-Shareef, before it was even called a masjid resigned themselves with the Help of Allah (SWT) to move from a storefront, find a building being used as a heavy duty machine shop, completely pay off the property, and reconstruct out of all that the beautiful Masjid which stands now in Long Beach.
Alhamdullilah! What an excellent example of the good use of time with patience and constancy.
Resident Imam of Masjid Al-Shareef and the director of MASS, Imam Ameen A. Omar closed the evening with remarks about the goals of Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School, which include teaching the Qur’an, Arabic reading and writing, Islamic Studies, Seerah, and life skills for being Muslim in America.
Imam Omar noted that it is the responsibility of Muslim parents to make sure that their children have an Islamic education. Imam Omar also announced that Masjid Al-Shareef is in the process of establishing Al-Shareef Learning Center, a full-time Muslim school to be opened in the very near future, insha Allah.
As the community continues to grow and develop, we can only give all praises to Allah, much can be accomplished in whatever time given, whether it is a year or two or 40 or more.
The mutual teachings of truth, faith, good deeds, patience and constancy has been a mainstay at Masjid Al-Shareef. The results has been a fruition of blessings from Allah (SWT).
(More pictures of our events and information can be accessed on Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School and Al-Shareef Learning Center’s Facebook page.)
Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School on Facebook
From E - The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: I understand that mountaintop removal as a way of coal mining is incredibly destructive. Didn’t a report come out recently that named major banks that were funding this activity? – Seth Jergens, New York, N.Y.
Yes it’s true that many major banks invest in companies that engage in the environmentally destructive practice of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining, whereby the tops of mountains are removed by explosives to expose thin seams of recoverable coal.
The wasted earth and other materials are either put back onto the mountain top in an approximation of their original contours, wreaking havoc on local ecosystems and biodiversity, or dumped into neighboring valleys, polluting lakes and streams and jeopardizing water quality for humans and wildlife.
According to the non-profit Rainforest Action Network (RAN), this dumping — especially throughout Appalachia where MTR is most prevalent—“undermines the objectives and requirements of the Clean Water Act.”
The group adds that some 2,000 miles of streams have already been buried or contaminated in the region. “The mining destroys Appalachian communities, the health of coalfield residents and any hope for positive economic growth.”
This past April, RAN teamed up for the second year in a row with another leading non-profit green group concerned about MTR, the Sierra Club, in publishing a “report card” reviewing 10 of the world’s largest banks in regard to their financing of MTR coal mining projects.
The new 2011 version of “Policy and Practice” takes a look at the MTR-related financing practices of Bank of America, CitiBank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, GE Capital, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, PNC, UBS and Wells Fargo.
What did they find? Since January 2010, the 10 banks reviewed have provided upwards of $2.5 billion in loans and bonds to companies practicing MTR. While some of the banks — Chase, Wells Fargo, PNC, UBS, and Credit Suisse — adopted policies limiting their financing of MTR, few actually pulled funding in place from any such activities upon adopting such policies.
Citibank, despite announcing publicly in 2009 that it would limit its involvement in MTR, doubled its investments in the business in 2010.
RAN and the Sierra Club are also keeping a close eye on UBS which, soon after stating that it “needs to be satisfied that the client is committed to reduce over time its exposure to [MTR],” went ahead and acted as a paid advisor on the merger of Massey Energy, which operated the West Virginia mine where 29 men died last year, and Alpha Natural Resources.
This merger created the largest single MTR company in the country, now responsible for some 25 percent of coal production from MTR mines.
The report card grades each bank based on its current position and practice regarding MTR investments, and calls on the banks to strengthen their policies and cease their financial support for coal companies engaging in MTR.
“The ‘best practice’...is a clear exclusion policy on commercial lending and investment banking services for all coal companies who practice mountaintop removal coal extraction,” says RAN.
RAN and the Sierra Club hope that by exposing the impact these banks are having on the environment through their financing programs, they can help alert the public and policymakers to the need to outlaw MTR coal mining altogether.
Contacts: Rainforest Action Network, www.ran.org; Sierra Club, www.sierraclub.org.
Dear EarthTalk: I’m interested in getting a new tattoo, but recently found out that red tattoo ink contains mercury. Is this true of other tattoo inks as well? Are there any eco-friendly alternatives? – John P., Racine, Wash.
It is true that some red inks used for permanent tattoos contain mercury, while other reds may contain different heavy metals like cadmium or iron oxide. These metals — which give the tattoo its “permanence” in skin — have been known to cause allergic reactions, eczema and scarring and can also cause sensitivity to mercury from other sources like dental fillings or consuming some fish.
While red causes the most problems, most other colors of standard tattoo ink are also derived from heavy metals (including lead, antimony, beryllium, chromium, cobalt nickel and arsenic) and can cause skin reactions in some people.
Helen Suh MacIntosh, a professor in environmental health at Harvard University and a columnist for the website, Treehugger, reports that as a result of a 2007 lawsuit brought by the American Environmental Safety Institute (AESI), two of the leading tattoo ink manufacturers must now place warning labels on their product containers, catalogs and websites explaining that “inks contain many heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and others” and that the ingredients have been linked to cancer and birth defects.
Of course, exposure to mercury and other heavy metals is hardly the only risk involved with getting a tattoo. The term tattoo itself means to puncture the skin. Tattoo ink is placed via needles into the dermis layer of the skin, where it remains permanently (although some colors will fade over time).
Some people have reported sensitivity springing up even years after they first got their tattoo; also medical MRIs can cause tattoos to burn or sting as the heavy metals in the ink are affected by the test’s magnetism.
Beyond the long term risks of walking around with heavy metals injected into your body’s largest organ (the skin), getting a tattoo in and of itself can be risky business.
If the tattoo parlor’s needles and equipment aren’t properly sterilized in an autoclave between customers, you could be exposing yourself to hepatitis B or C, tuberculosis, mycobacterium, syphilis, malaria, HIV or even leprosy.
“The potential risk of infectious spread from tattooing (particularly due to Hepatitis B) is high enough that it is a practice that should be avoided by pregnant women to safeguard the health of the baby [and that of the pregnant woman herself] whose immune system is down regulated and is much more vulnerable to these types of infection,” reports dermatologist Audrey Kunin, who runs the popular Dermadoctor website.
Dr. Kunin advises to be careful about choosing a tattoo parlor: “Make sure the place is reputable, perhaps check with the health department to see if there have been past claims against the parlor in question if you still have doubts.” She adds that since tattoos are essentially open wounds, they must be cared for properly, especially in the first few weeks, to stave off infection.
Those who want to go ahead with getting a tattoo anyway despite the risks should consider steering clear of colors derived from heavy metals. Dr. Kunin reports that black might be the safest permanent tattoo ink; it is often derived from a substance called carbon black and rarely causes any kind of sensitivity issues.
If your heart is set on red in your tattoo, ask around to see if any tattoo parlors in your area are willing to work with non-metallic organic pigments that lend a red color such as carmine, scarlet lake, sandalwood or brazilwood. There are non-metallic alternatives available for many other popular tattoo ink shades, too.
Contacts: Treehugger, www.treehugger.com; Dermadoctor, www.dermadoctor.com.
EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.
By Bassam Helwani
In the early 1980s, the talk among the Muslim community was Chicago’s newly established American Islamic College (AIC). Founded in 1981, the College’s goal was providing four-year college leading to Bachelor of Arts degrees with an Islamic perspective in subjects like Education and Social Studies, as well as Islamic and Arabic Studies.
The dream was to serve the Muslim and non-Muslim communities with sound academic programs and active community involvement. The location was certainly conducive to those aims, with facilities built on landmark real estate that afforded both a beautiful campus and good access to other services and universities – and just steps away from beautiful Lake Michigan.
"Bittersweet Place" is the road that brings one to the entrance of the College’s 640 W. Irving Park address, and bittersweet exemplifies the story of the American Islamic College. In the late 1990s, AIC hit a point of stagnation and its accreditation was rescinded.
But just like the proverbial Phoenix, the American Islamic College is rising again - with new blood, renovated facilities and a new outlook.
To begin the dream of reopening, the Interim Executive Council dug in and began rebuilding the institution they so believed in. Their first obstacle was the facilities themselves. Part of the building has been rented out to a French school and Parkview Montessori School.
Other parts of the facilites that had not been rented out were left in disrepair for many years. Roofs were leaking, floors were damaged, equipment was ruined. In its rebirth, AIC spent $600,000 renovating the dorms alone.
Once they had the facilities in shape, they turned to rebuilding the academic programs that would be the real heart of the College and getting the accreditation to put them in operation. The Interim Executive Council appointed Chicagoans to the Board of Trustees.
These prominent community members brought many years of academic experience to the AIC and provided the accountability and accessibility that makes for a successful governing body.
Receiving accreditation for a College is not a one-step operation. The AIC has applied through the Illinois Board of Higher Education for Operating Authority. This authority, which will allow AIC to offer for-credit courses, is well expected to come through in the next few months.
Degree-granting authorization takes a bit longer and the application is in full swing. The College hopes to be offering for-credit courses in the fall of 2012 and degrees within the next one to two years. The first degree offerings will include Bachelor’s and Master’s in Islamic Studies and Imam Training.
Later degrees in economics, media, political science and other subjects will be available.
But the American Islamic College is not just sitting back waiting for all those things to happen. In the meantime, the staff and board are working to overcome the largest obstacle of all. Those who lived through the past three decades and witnessed AIC’s first incarnation were left with little faith in the institution.
The new management has a long-range plan for earning back their confidence, and it includes the College, the Islamic communities in the U.S., and the community-at-large. They’ve begun with a free lecture series featuring prominent academians, politicians and writers.
The series is open to the public and has had an enthusiastic response. Interfaith activities are helping AIC renew its relationships with adherents of other faiths as well. An interfaith garden, an open arms attitude toward visitors and a Sounds of Faith program are among the projects that are revitalizing its interfaith ties.
In addition, AIC has hosted two “Islam and Muslims in America” conferences that brought together Muslim scholars and national politicians.
While they are awaiting full accreditation, AIC also is offering non-credit courses in subjects like Islamic Studies, Arabic Studies, Sufism, Classical Arabic Music and Turkish Ebru (the art of paper marbling with oil paint on water). These courses are being attended by students from neighboring universities.
With a local Board of Trustees and Interim Executive Council in place, a curriculum developed by experienced professors, a league of qualified, prominent instructors and a beautiful facility with a sparkling new library, auditorium, lab, cafeteria and dorm, the American Islamic College will be ready to receive students from overseas, from Americans across the U.S. and from Chicago itself.
AIC is ready to become the home of future scholars, economists, media professionals and politicians. It has regrouped, restructured and rebounded. “We have the preparation, the planning and the finances in place,” an AIC spokesman said.
“What we need now is du’a from all the community members. We need their support to become the first-rate institution we envision.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Decrying the threat to individual privacy posed by advances in surveillance technology, The Rutherford Institute has filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Jones, a case that will decide the legality of warrantless use of Global Positioning System (GPS) devices by police to track the movements of individuals.
At issue in the case is whether police violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, when they charged and convicted Antoine Jones with involvement in a drug conspiracy on the basis of evidence obtained by attaching a GPS device to his automobile that constantly monitored his movements for over a month.
Insisting that individuals have a reasonable expectation that they will not be subject to constant monitoring by the government, and that escalating secretive technological surveillance violates an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy, Rutherford Institute attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to uphold the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to suppress the evidence obtained using GPS surveillance.
The Rutherford Institute's brief in United States v. Jones is available at www.rutherford.org.
“We have entered a new and frightening age when advancing technology is erasing the Fourth Amendment,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.
“Indeed, if the courts do not step in and protect against police searches and surveillance, privacy as we have known it will go the way of the graveyard.”
In September 2005, without Antoine Jones’s knowledge or consent, police placed a GPS device on the undercarriage of Jones’ Jeep vehicle, while it was parked in a public lot in Maryland.
GPS devices use orbiting satellites to produce accurate and continuous records of their position and of any person or object carrying the devices.
Consequently, over the course of four weeks, police were able to monitor Jones’ movements and actions, as he drove his vehicle. Based upon the detailed information obtained about Jones’ movements, police arrested and charged Jones with conspiracy to distribute drugs.
Prior to trial, Jones moved to suppress the evidence obtained using the GPS monitoring, arguing that because the police had violated the terms of a court order allowing the placement of the GPS device on his vehicle, the evidence was obtained without a warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The trial court rejected Jones’ motion to suppress. However, on appeal, the D.C. Court of Appeals held that the use of the GPS device to track Jones and the evidence obtained constituted an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Additionally, the Court of Appeals rejected the government's claim that no violation of Jones’ privacy had taken place because the evidence pertained to Jones' movements while he was in public.
In asking the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the Court of Appeals’ ruling, Rutherford Institute attorneys point to numerous surveillance technologies available to the government, such as GPS, drones, and facial recognition, that threaten the right of citizens to be free from government monitoring.
“While this technology can serve a useful purpose in apprehending criminals," the brief argues, "the essence of the Fourth Amendment dictates that law enforcement officials not be permitted free reign to conduct high-tech surveillance absent judicial oversight through the warranting process.”
By Amatullah Sharif
EAST HAZEL CREST, Ill. – On Oct. 2, 2011, on a beautiful, crisp Sunday morning amid blue skies, Believers were making their way to 929 E. 171st St., in East Hazel Crest, The Mosque Cares building. This was historical, because the First Sunday Public address was held there for the first time, moving from its presence at Homewood Hotel, in Homewood, Ill.
As Believers arrived, they found the main area set in a theater style with overflow room in another area. The usual Vendors were successfully embedded in the area with beautiful wares and items for sale.
It was amazing to see just how much space was utilized without bumping into one another. Down the hallways, there were beautiful areas that displayed plaques, proclamations, and photographs of accomplishments of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. And a Library is almost ready for opening.
The spirit was high, as Imam Rasool from Flint, Michigan, encouraged everyone to continue practicing their Deen and strive to continue to hold high the Banner of Islam.
The spirit was high because The Mosque Cares Building belongs to the Community; it is their very own. The atmosphere was an intimate and comfortable one, with everyone meeting and greeting one another.
In his presentation, W. Deen Mohammed II excitedly told the audience about the new business venture that is on the scene, Your Products. Go to the website at www.yourproductsiwdm.com to see the items that are offered.
There, it says: Welcome to Your Products LLC, a Business Initiative endorsed and supported by The Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
Its current available products are: Coral Calcium Plus (vegetable based capsules) and a Hand Carved Vegetable Cleaver Block. Suggested products include: Supplements, Garments, Health and Beauty products.
Your Products asks: “Let us know what products you feel our community would benefit most from.” Believers are encouraged to suggest what they would like to see offered on Your Products and send them in.
The Mosque Cares Building has housed such offices as the Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim Journal, the classes of Imam W. Deen Mohammed Students, Salaam Nutrition, WDM Ministry Publications, WDM Special Events, and New Africa Printing and Publishing Copy Center.
And now it now holds Jumuahs on Fridays and Arabic Classes on Saturdays taught by Imam Elam Muhammad, and on First Sundays, Bro. Abdul Rasheed Akbar teaches financial literacy.
Hundreds of thousands of Indians cheer a rural activist on a hunger strike.
Israel was challenged by the largest street demonstrations in its history.
Young people in Spain and Greece took over public squares across their countries. Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness.
From South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: Wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.
They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box. “Our parents are grateful because they’re voting,” said Marta Solanas, 27, referring to older Spaniards’ decades spent under the Franco dictatorship.
“We’re the first generation to say that voting is worthless,” added Solanas.
Economics have been one driving force, with growing income inequality, high unemployment and recession-driven cuts in social spending. Alienation runs especially deep in Europe, with boycotts and strikes that, in London and Athens, erupted into violence.
Increasingly, citizens of all ages, but particularly the young, are rejecting conventional structures like parties and trade unions in favor of a less hierarchical, more participatory system modeled in many ways on the Culture of the Web.
In that sense, the protest movements in democracies are not altogether unlike those that have rocked authoritarian governments this year, toppling longtime leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Protesters have created their own political space online that is chilly, sometimes openly hostile, toward traditional institutions of the elite.
“You’re looking at a generation of 20- and 30-year-olds who are used to self-organizing,” said Yochai Benkler, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “They believe life can be more participatory, more decentralized, less dependent on the traditional models of organization, either in the state or the big company.
Those were the dominant ways of doing things in the industrial economy, and they aren’t anymore.”
The wife of Texas Governor Rick Perry defended her husband's immigration record during a stop meant to boost the presidential hopefuls’ campaign.
Anita Perry stumped for her husband at several stops in Iowa, where she characterized him as the best-suited candidate to match up against President Obama next fall and promised improved performances in the next GOP debate.
“Some have attacked Rick on this issue of immigration, so I want you to be armed with the facts,” Mrs. Perry said. “No one has done more to secure the border. And as President, he is committed to stopping the tide of illegal immigration,” she continued.
Mrs. Perry first noted that her husband vetoed a bill to give illegal immigrants driver licenses, fought illegal sanctuaries, and billed the government for incarcerating illegal aliens. She also said in-state tuition is only offered to residents who have gone to school in Texas for three years and have earned a high-school degree.
The First Lady of Texas was asked to clarify her comments on the latest debate, saying that her husband is not “polished” like some 2012 candidates.
She responded to reporters, saying, “Gov. Romney has been running for President for four or five years, and that was my husband’s third debate. I think [Perry] would tell you that the other night was not his best performance. But he is only going to get better.
“And I think part of the attacks had something to do with it. I think when you have seven arrows being shot at you – and you are the one person in the middle – a 30-second rebuttal doesn’t give you much time,” she added.
“He’s the most determined candidate that I know. And when the chips get down, he’s at his best, because he’s a fighter. And that’s why we’re in this race,” she said during a brief speech to a handful of supporters at the opening.
“When Rick sees so many people struggling, it breaks his heart – but steels his resolve. I think he is only one who can go toe to toe with Obama,” said Mrs. Perry.
After two days of energetically raising money in the precincts of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, President Barack Obama stopped at a high school to push for new ways to spend money.
Promoting his $450 billion jobs bill, Mr. Obama said the $25 billion in the legislation for repairing and renovating schools would allow Abraham Lincoln High School, a well-kept but aging institution, to update science laboratories of a 1960s vintage.
“My question to Congress is: What on earth are we waiting for? Let’s get to work,” Mr. Obama said to a boisterous crowd of students, he asked: “Why should our students be allowed to study in crumbling, outdated schools? How does that give them the sense that education is important?”
Neither Mr. Obama’s choice of Colorado, nor of this heavily Latino high school in a struggling part of Denver, were remotely accidental. He carried Colorado in 2008. Analysts believe he will need to hold on to it next year to put together a winning electoral map.
Mr. Obama accepted the Democratic nomination in the state and signed the $787 billion stimulus package. But with the jobless rate here rising to 8.5 percent from 7.4 percent since then, even Democrats here say Colorado could be an uphill battle. Mr. Obama repeatedly challenged Republicans to pass the jobs bill.
Amazon.com revealed plans to begin selling a color touchscreen tablet. Named the Kindle Fire, the device has a 7-inch touchscreen, weighs 14.6 ounces and is outfitted with a dual-core processor.
At $199, the Fire is less than half the price of the Apple iPad, which starts at $499. It is the first tablet from a major company to seriously undercut the iPad in price.
Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive who showed off the Fire on stage at a news conference, said it was meant to build on the popularity of the company’s e-readers and appeal to a broader audience that also wants to browse the Web and stream music, movies and video.
The device has access to Amazon’s library of 18 million e-books, songs and movies and television shows, and can run Android applications that have been approved by Amazon. There is also a newsstand for users who want to subscribe to magazines, with titles like Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, Wired and Glamour. “We’re building premium products at non-premium prices,” said Mr. Bezos. “We are determined to do that.”
Mr. Bezos also introduced a speedy custom-built mobile browser, called Amazon Silk, which he said was “cloud-accelerated,” combining Amazon’s computing cloud with the Kindle Fire device. “It’s truly a technical achievement,” he said. Amazon plans to begin taking preorders for the Fire on its Web site immediately, and they will start shipping Nov. 15. Mr. Bezos said the company was “making many millions of these.”
The Kindle Fire includes a free cloud-based storage system, meaning that no syncing with cables is necessary. Mr. Bezos seemed to take a swipe at Apple, saying, “That model that you are responsible for backing up your own content is a broken model.”
This first model of the Fire sends and receives data only over Wi-Fi, not cellular networks. Like the iPad’s screen, the screen on the Fire has so-called in-plane switching technology, meaning that unlike some LCD screens it can be viewed from a variety of angles, not just straight on.
Major health insurance companies have been charging sharply higher premiums this year, outstripping any growth in workers’ wages and creating more uncertainty for the Obama Administration and employers who are struggling to drive down an unrelenting rise in medical costs.
A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a research group, showed that the average annual premium for family coverage through an employer reached $15,073 in 2011 — 9 percent higher than in the previous year.
And even higher premiums could be on the way, particularly in New York, where some companies are asking for double-digit increases for about 1.3 million New Yorkers in individual or small-group plans, setting up a battle with state regulators.
The higher premiums are particularly unwelcome at a time when the economy is sputtering and unemployment is hovering at about 9 percent. Many businesses cite the cost of coverage as a factor in their decision not to hire, and health insurance has become increasingly unaffordable for more Americans. The cost of family coverage has about doubled since 2001, compared with a 34 percent gain in wages.
How much the new federal health care legislation pushed by President Obama is affecting rates remains a point of debate, with some consumer advocates and others suggesting that insurers have raised prices in anticipation of new rules that would, in 2012, require them to justify any increase of more than 10 percent.
Kaiser estimates that one to two percentage points of the increase this year is related to provisions of the law already in effect, like coverage for children up to 26 years old and for prevention services like mammograms.