Politics

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Imam Lateef and Pres Obama

Muslim Journal welcomes “Muslim leaders in Profile,” to introduce/reintroduce the leadership among us in various fields. Imam Mohammed said, “Leadership is in the Resourceful People.”
One such belief and leader is Imam Khalid S. Lateef.
Khalid S. Lateef is an author, lecturer and commentator. He holds three degrees: an Associate’s Degree in Science, a Bachelor’s Degree of Science, and a Master’s Degree of Science in Education.
He retired in June of 2008 with permanent certification as a New York State School Administrator. He has been active in the dawah activities of our Association since 1975.
The following is a summary of some of his activities in our Association:
1975 - 1976: Negotiated successfully with the President of the Teamsters Union in New York City to allow the Nation of Islam to independently distribute Muhammad Speaks Newspaper to all newsstands in New York City’s subway system and designed “Tune in - Read Bilalian News” items for a nationwide promotional campaign.
1977: Lobbied Baruch College to recognize and fund the first Muslim Association at the college. Served as its first President and held the first Islamic Cultural Affair at the college that included a video recorded address by Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
1980: As a Consultant at New York Amsterdam News, negotiated to have Imam W. Deen Mohammed receive pages of coverage during his visit to New York City as the Grand Marshal of the New World Patriotism Day Parade and had Imam W. Deen Mohammed’s commentaries published in Amsterdam News monthly.
1980: Founded the American Muslim Mission Center, now named As-Siraatal-Mustaqeen Islamic Center of Wyandanch, Long Island, New York, and served as its Resident Imam from 1980 to 1994. Before leaving as Imam, paid off the Center’s mortgage and established its tax exemption status, which meant no more real estate taxes to pay.
1990: Received “The Clara Muhammad Institution Award for Moral and Academic Excellence” from Sister Clara Muhammad Elementary and Secondary School of Masjid Malcolm Shabazz at their second annual awards banquet on November 10, 1990.
1991 – 1992: Supplied financing, pictures, audio tapes and videos to Jeffrey El-Muhammad as the main consultant to Denzel Washington and Spike Lee during his vital input into the making of the movie “Malcolm X.”
1992: Published two literary works: “The Holy Quran’s Condemnation of the Lessons of W.D. Fard” and “Look At ‘Self’ Before Charging Others: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Last Public Comments on Islam, Race Relations and ‘Black’ Empowerment.”
1994: Retired from serving as Muslim Chaplain for two prisons under the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, which he held since the 1980s.
1994: Supplied pictures, audiotapes and videos to Jeffrey El-Muhammad for the documentary “Brother Minister, The Assassination of Malcolm X.”
1996: Served in the position of Assistant Commissioner of Public Relations for our National Convention in White Plains, New York, with the theme “The Light Is On.” His wife, Jacqueline Lateef, served as the Commissioner of Public Relations.
1999: Provided information to Lisa Miller, writer for the Wall Street Journal, for the article: “The Un-Farrakhan,” an article about Imam W. Deen Mohammed that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on July 9, 1999.
2002: Lead a campaign to bring Imam W. Deen Mohammed to Long Island to address the general community of immigrant and indigenous Muslims. Imam Mohammed sent Imam E. Abdulmalik Mohammed and he spoke to over 1000 (one thousand) people on Friday, March 29, 2002 at the Islamic Center of Long Island.
2008 – 2010: Supplied literary information and feedback for the book “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Man behind the Men” by Michael Mikal Saahir.
2010: Served on the Convention Planning Committee for The Mosque Cares Annual Muslim Convention and Ramadan Session.
2010: Published articles in Muslim Journal for The Mosque Cares Annual Convention and Ramadan Session; he has written articles for A.M. Journal/Bilalian News/Muslim Journal since the 1980s.
2011: Served as a Co-Chair on both committees for The Mosque Care’s Annual Convention and Annual Ramadan Session.
2011: The Mosque Care’s Annual Convention “Muslim Man of the Year” Award.

In 2009 Khalid S. Lateef published a book: “To Be Human: Life-Changing Insights from Around the World.” Recently, President Barack Obama invited him to the White House for the 2014 Iftar Dinner. After the dinner, he was contacted by the White House Executive Office to “stay in touch.”
He was invited to the State Department for the installation of Shaarik Humayon Zafar as the State Department’s “Special Representative to Muslim Communities” and receives regular invitations to participate in national conference calls from the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

GAZA and Palestine

By Leila Diab

Freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives to recapture their homeland, secure their families and friends from the reins of terror and the desire to exist as human beings are too numerous to count.
One thing is for sure, they were passionate human beings. Those who were my uncles, cousins, teachers, lawyers, Muslim scholars, poets and people of humanity in the medical profession, and many of my Palestinian brothers and sisters are now in heaven.
Granted, I and the world community's freedom of character and thoughts carry the torch in their memory for freedom, justice and human dignity.

Dishonorable racial bias, condemnation and barbaric slaughter  of Palestinians for decades should never go unchallenged to save humanity and urgently secure universal  international laws and human rights.
The significant social, economic, literary and cultural contributions of Africans, Chinese, and the Middle Eastern and Muslim  scholars are the treasures to the Western  World and beyond.

Throughout the decades, the Western/European world manufactured in storytelling myths, and I reiterate again, the myths, regarding the significant and flourishing centers of the sciences and liberal Arts.
These worldly contributions epitomized the Arab Muslim civilizations treasured gifts to the modern world.
The same holds truth for the ongoing and close to three weeks of incriminating violence in Gaza.
The world is now taking a concerted effort to realized the many false myths of the true nature of Israel's crimes against the innocent people of Gaza.
Hopefully/prayerfully, the world community and its leaders will read between the lines of terrorism and the understand the horrendous game that is being played out in the blazing destruction of civilian lives in Gaza.
     Here are the glossed over Gaza and Palestinian facts:

  1. There has been a blockade of Gazans going in and out of Gaza since 1996.
  2. Medical and food supplies are not allowed to reach Gaza, even if you inform the Israeli government of your desire for the right of passage of goods and the economic development of Gaza society, it will be denied.
  3. Gaza fishermen are only allowed a 25 meters area to fish in Mediterranean Sea.
  4. Gaza people cannot visit Jerusalem to pray at their mosques or churches.
  5. Permits are denied by the Israeli military government.
  6. Water shortages in Gaza due to the Israeli governments edict to channel water to the Israeli settlements in Gaza.
  7. A total strangulation of the Gaza people's right to economic freedom and jobs. Over 25,000 jobs that Gaza people once had in Israel have been banned.
  8. Extensive media coverage in Gaza is limited or banned.
  9. Hospital, for the elderly, children and the sick, wounded and maimed have been Israeli government targets.
  10. 25 Gaza family members, while in their beds and watching TV during the Israeli military bombing attacks in Gaza, were all killed - innocent people.
  11. Human rights organizations coming into Gaza are whimsically frozen and the reality of life in Gaza, one of the most densely populations of refugees in the world, is distorted with colorful characters of legendary myths.
  12. With high tech surveillance monitoring of Gaza, the Israeli government knows where and what every single building is – life in a cage.
  13. Thousands in the world community continue to stand up and voice their support of the people in Gaza as well as outspoken Israeli journalists/academics and Israelis in Israel.

With the sheer courage and determination to the Gaza people to be free with an end to the debilitating Israeli Military occupation, ask yourself this question: “If this knowledge was available to the world leaders, the president of the United States, and shown daily on the mainstream media networks,  would they have the courage and human dignity in reporting the reality of Gaza and Palestinian life?
And who has the right of power over the disenfranchised, dispossessed, and the homeless refugees?
That is the Gaza reality.
The world community has the power to stand up and voice their humanistic concerns to end these more than 100,000 Gaza people being displaced once again, and the over 600 Palestinians – women and children and their families – being massacred.
Freedom, dignity, character and humanistic thoughts will hopefully usher in, lessening these bitter results for humanity.
As Franklin Delano Roosevelt reiterated, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
(Leila Diab is a freelance journalist of Palestinian American descent in the Chicago area. She was instrumental in establishing and accompanied the delegation of Muslims led by Imam W. Deen Mohammed to the Palestinian territories culminating in a meeting with the late Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat. Diab has written for Muslim Journal since the mid 1980s.)

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Rabbi Lerner

By Rabbi Michael Lerner
According to Ha’aretz correspondent Amira Hass, the IDF has been conducting mass arrests in the West Bank, between 10 and 30 every day.  24 of the arrested are members of the Palestinian parliament from Hamas’ Change and Reform party.
The number of those arrested since the kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teens has already exceeded 1,000. The Palestinians are convinced that most of those detained have nothing to do with the kidnapping and that these are mainly political arrests for purposes of intimidation and revenge.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Tens of thousands of young Palestinian men have experienced arrest, torture, loss of employment, and have been unable to protect their parents, partners and friends from arbitrary and repressive treatment from IDF Occupation forces.
The surprising thing is that despite this inhumane and emasculating treatment, few Palestinians have engaged in acts of violence or desperation.
I’ve argued that acts of desperation can be self-destructive. Many Palestinians will suffer for the acts of the few Palestinian Hamas extremists. But since Hamas activists have come to believe that even if they do nothing they will still be targeted, some are saying that acting out violently against the Occupation is the only thing that can restore their dignity since nothing will restore their land.
I think that this is a mistake for Gaza and the West Bank. Sometimes I think that Hamas doesn’t really even care for its own citizens in Gaza – they care more about showing that non-violence will never work to challenge Israel’s occupation, and they are willing to let the people of Gaza pay the price, namely the invasion of Gaza by the Israeli army with the inevitable consequence of many more than the 220 Palestinians already killed in the past two weeks.
And yet, it is hard to deny that the Israeli Occupation is so repressive and dishonoring of Palestinians, that some young men have taken to violence, while others see those acts as the only thing that can momentarily give people a relief from the emotional depression of years under Occupation generates.
Yet the violence against Israeli civilian targets has pushed the politics of Israel even further to the Right.

For those of us like myself who care about the well-being of all people on the planet, not only my own Jewish people, but all peoples. The high toll of Palestinian civilians is horrifying – several thousand civilians already wounded according to Palestinian sources.
This will likely lead to more Hamas terrorists. But not only is the war stupid from the standpoint of Jewish self-interest, it is also immoral in the extreme.
None of this would have happened if Israel had been serious about negotiating an end to the Occupation. But as Prime Minister, Netanyahu made clear in his press conference (in mid July), that he never intends to give the Palestinian people an independent state of their own.
Israel must end the invasion, stop its bombing of Gaza, free the Palestinians it has arrested in the past years, and abandon its insane policy of seeking security through domination.
This approach may work in a dictatorial regime for a little while, but even in those circumstances, the repression only works for a limited period (ask the former leaders of the Soviet Community party).
Instead, Israel needs a generosity strategy, not only agreeing to a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but also the following:
• The release of all Occupation-related prisoners,
• Getting the U.S. and its Western allies to provide a massive reparation fund to support the new Palestinian state till it achieves economic and political parity with Israel,
• Share Jerusalem as the capital of both an Israeli and Palestinian state,
• An end to teaching hatred and racism in its schools and media in exchange for Palestine doing the same, and
• Agreeing to allow 20,000 Palestinian refugees a year to move to Israel each year for the next 40 years in exchange for Palestine allowing Israelis living in the West Bank to stay in their settlements as law-abiding citizens of the new Palestinian state and subject to Palestinian law and court system (just as Palestinians living inside the pro-67 borders of Israel are subject to Israeli law and Israeli courts).
If Israel could apologize for its part (partial, not total) in creating the Palestinian refugee population, create jointly with Palestinians a Truth and Reconciliation process similar to that done in South Africa, and accept an international force to police the borders and protect both Israel and the Palestinians from the inevitable extremist attacks by Hamas and Israeli settle fanatics….
And most importantly, if as the more powerful party in the struggle can act with a genuine spirit of open-heartedness to the Palestinian people in seeking to help rebuild all that it had destroyed in Gaza and the West Bank….
Its spirit of generosity would within less than 10 years undermine the hold of Hamas on a large section of that fundamentalist group’s political base in both the West Bank and Gaza.
In the Middle East, particularly among Arab communities, there is no stronger “weapon” than generosity and genuine caring for the well-being of the other.
So, yes, Hamas can start to lose its constituency fastest when Israel becomes most generous and caring, or Hamas can grow into a permanent majority the more that Israel relies on its current strategy of domination.
This focus on the psycho-spiritual dimension of the struggle and the need for a strategy of generosity is precisely what Tikkun brings to the table through our Network of Spiritual Progressives and which you’ll find sorely missing in most of the analyses whether from Israeli, Palestinian, European or American political analysts, editorialists, politicians, and media reporters and even leftie protesters.
Yet it is this dimension, which is ignored to their peril by all who care about the well-being of both peoples. So, yes, we demand an end to the bombing of Gaza and the invasion of Gaza, just as we have demanded of Hamas that it stop its attempted bombings of Israel.
It’s time for a brand new direction, but only you, the reader of this point can make it happen. For more information as to how, please read my book Embracing Israel/Palestine, join our interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org, and contact our new executive director Cat J. Zavis at cat@spiritualprogressives.org or at info@spiritualprogressives.org.
(Rabbi Michael Lerner is the editor of Tikkun Magazine, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif., and author of 11 books including two national best sellers: Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation  and  The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right.
His most recent book is Embracing Israel/Palestine (available as a kindle book from Amazon.com and in print from www.tikkun.org/eip). RabbiLerner.Tikkun@gmail.com)

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President Barack Obama. Photo by Shahid Abdul-Karim

By Shahid Abdul-Karim

@Shahid_Akarim on Twitter

(Photo by D. Shahid Abdul Karim)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Muslims share in the blessings of religious liberty. And in recognizing the Islamic faith as a staple in the fabric of American life, President Barack Obama invites Muslim Americans to the White House to attend the annual iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan.

More than 100 guests attended iftar, Mon., July 14, 2014, including elected officials, ambassadors and officials from the Republic of Iraq, the African Union Mission, Israel, along with members of the Community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed and others.

Connecticut’s first Muslim mayor, Saud Anwar of South Windsor, also attended. Iftar literally means “breaking of the fast” and it’s the meal Muslims enjoy after sunset every day during the month of Ramadan.

The annual dinner has become a White House tradition since the 1990s, under then-President Clinton and continued by President George W. Bush, according to the White House website. The dinner, the sixth for President Obama, was held in the State Dining Room.

In his remarks, the President said Ramadan is a time to reflect and to remember discipline and devotion as the essence of a life of faith.

”And for all of us, whatever our faiths, Ramadan is a reminder of just how much we share. The values of peace and charity, the importance of family and community — these are universal values,” Mr. Obama said.

“The command to love one another, to uphold justice, and to care for the least among us — these are common threads in our faith traditions.” he said.

U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) is one of two Muslim congressmen – both of whom are affiliated with the community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed attended the iftar. Cong. Carson said the President respects Muslims.

“I applaud the President’s recognition of Muslim Americans and join him in calling for understanding and respect among people of all faiths,” said Carson, 39, who was elected to Congress first in 2008.

“For me, like most Muslims, Ramadan has always been a special time to reflect upon God’s many Blessings,” he said. “It is a month for renewing our relationship with God and working to improve the lives of those around us.”

Fitrah Muhmmad of the Nation’s Mosque in Washington, D.C., said African American Muslims helped to open the doors for other Muslims, to make it acceptable to practice the faith in America.

“As an African American, being invited to the White House for the iftar would have been much more meaningful if those before me were acknowledged for their sacrifice and contributions to establishing Islam as a major American experience,” Muhammad said. She too is a member of the Community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed.

“History is important, and our contributions should not be marginalized or obscured,” she said. “We made it possible for all to call themselves Muslims in America.”

Amid the increased turmoil in the Middle East, President Obama made comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“In too many corners of the world, we see violence and terror,” he said. “The pictures we are seeing in Gaza and Israel are heart-wrenching. People here in the United States care deeply about what is happening there.

“And I know there’s strong views as well as differences about how we should move forward, which is part of American democracy. We welcome that debate — that makes us stronger,” he said.

Some attendees at Monday night’s event were angry about a magazine’s report that the National Security Agency and the FBI scanned the emails of five prominent Muslim Americans under a secret surveillance program aimed at foreign terrorists and other national security threats.

The Obama Administration has not confirmed the report in The Intercept. But the president said that “no one should ever be targeted or disparaged because of their faith.”

Other Connecticut Muslims acknowledged Obama’s iftar as an opportunity for better communication of the Islamic faith in the state.

Editor of the Chicago based Muslim Journal national weekly newspaper, Ayesha K. Mustafaa, noted the importance of Obama’s gesture in upholding the tradition of having an annual iftar dinner for Muslims.

“It is important to note that the United States is multicultural and multireligious. President Obama and other presidents have acknowledged this American tenet with an iftar dinner annually during the holy month of Ramadan,” said Mustafaa.

Muslim Journal is the longest-running weekly Muslim newspaper in America, nearing its 40th year of publication; it is in affiliation with the community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed.

“As one of the religions of the Abrahamic Faith — Jews, Christians and Muslims — the American public is reminded with these iftar dinners of how mainstream Muslims are in the United States,” Mustafaa said.

Al Hedaya Islamic Center of Newton cofounder and Director Eman Beshtawii said the recognition the iftar offers for Muslim communities is valuable.

“Being invited to the White House for the iftar not only means recognition of Muslims by the president, but also opens channels of communication,” said Beshtawii. Mustafaa and Beshtawii did not attend the event.

“It provides the President at the grassroots levels, through the leadership of Muslim communities, what the concerns are and what the feedback is from United States Muslims on any relevant issue of interest to the President,” Beshtawii said.

(Shahid Abdul-Karim is Community Engagement Editor at the New Haven Registrar; call him at 203-789-5614.)

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44 Barack Obama

From THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
“I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential.” – President Barack Obama, January 28, 2014
“There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.  And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?” – President Barack Obama, July 19, 2013
FACT SHEET: Opportunity for all: President Obama Launches My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to Build Ladders of Opportunity for Boys and Young Men of Color
Feb. 27, 2014, President Obama is taking action to launch My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color.
But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success.
The President wants to build on that work. We can learn from communities that are partnering with local businesses and foundations to connect these boys and young men to mentoring, support networks, and skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class.
And the Administration will do its part by helping to identify and promote programs that work.
That starts by using proven tools that expand opportunity at key moments in the lives of these young people.  The President believes this includes ensuring access to basic health, nutrition, and to high-quality early education to get these kids reading and ready for school at the youngest age.  But that’s not enough.
We need to partner with communities and police to reduce violence and make our classrooms and streets safer.  And we need to help these young men stay in school and find a good job– so they have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to their communities and build decent lives for themselves and their families.
New Presidential Task Force to Expand Opportunity:
President Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, an interagency effort, chaired by Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, that will help us determine what public and private efforts are working and how to expand upon them, how the Federal Government’s own policies and programs can better support these efforts, and how to better involve State and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community in these efforts.
The Task Force will work across executive departments and agencies to:
Ø  Assess the impact of Federal policies, regulations, and programs of general applicability on boys and young men of color, so as to develop proposals that will enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones.
Ø  Recommend, where appropriate, incentives for the broad adoption by national, State, and local public and private decision makers of effective and innovative strategies and practices for providing opportunities to and improving outcomes for boys and young men of color.
Ø  Create an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to disseminate successful programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
Ø  Develop a comprehensive public website, to be maintained by the Department of Education, that will assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color in absolute and relative terms.
Ø  Work with external stakeholders to highlight the opportunities, challenges, and efforts affecting boys and young men of color.
Ø  Recommend to the President means of ensuring sustained efforts within the Federal Government and continued partnership with the private sector and philanthropic community as set forth in the Presidential Memorandum.
Investments from Leading Foundations and Businesses to Advance the Achievement of Boys and Young Men of Color:
Leading foundations and businesses have long worked with others in philanthropy to create opportunities for young men and boys of color and today are committing significant resources to research critical intervention points in the lives of boys and young men of color; change the often-damaging narrative about them; and catalyze coordinated investments to seed, replicate, and scale up effective community solutions.
The foundations supporting today’s call to action have already made extensive investments, including  $150 million in current spending that they have already approved or awarded.
Building on that, today these foundations are announcing that over the next five years they seek to invest at least $200 million, alongside additional investments from their peers in philanthropy and the business community, to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in key areas, including: early child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, 3rd grade literacy, educational opportunity and school discipline reform, interactions with the criminal justice system ladders to jobs and economic opportunity and healthy families and communities.
The foundations will work over the next 90 days to design a strategy and infrastructure for coordination of these investments, which can be aligned with additional commitments from a diverse array of actors from other sectors.
These foundations, who are joining President Obama at today’s announcement, include The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Open Society Foundations, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and The Kapor Center for Social Impact.
Many of the foundations are members of the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color – a coalition of philanthropic institutions committed to leveraging philanthropy’s role in improving life outcomes for boys and men of color.
In addition to the leadership from the philanthropic community, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative will leverage participation from the business community and elected officials to support this cross-sector effort.
As part of today’s announcement, President Obama will meet with a number of business leaders – including Joe Echevarria of Deloitte, Magic Johnson of Magic Johnson Enterprises, Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake Partners, Adam Silver of the National Basketball Association and Thomas Tull of Legendary Entertainment – to discuss ways in which they and their companies can work with the Initiative to improve the life outcomes of boys and young men of color.
The President will also be joined today by public sector leaders including General Colin Powell, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Honorable Michael Bloomberg.  Additionally, several other prominent members of the business community – including Rosalind Brewer of Sam’s Club, Ken Chenault of American Express, and Don Thompson of McDonald’s – have already expressed their support for this effort, and the White House expects additional commitments in the coming days and months.
Data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career.
For instance, large disparities remain in reading proficiency, with 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of Hispanic boys reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade – compared to 58 percent of white boys reading below proficiency levels.
Additionally, the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic young men who are unemployed or involved in the criminal justice system alone is a perilous drag on state budgets, and undermines family and community stability.
These young men are more than six times as likely to be victims of murder than their White peers and account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year.
The effort launched today is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color – something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans.
The Task Force and new private sector partnership will take a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to building ladders of opportunity.  Both the Task Force and the partnership will take action immediately while planning for long-term success.

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Shaheer Aktab

By Mubaashir Uqdah

(The following is a continuation from the introduction of Bro. Shaheer Akhtab who is campaigning for a seat on the City Council of Kansas City, Mo., printed in Muslim Journal issue of Feb. 14, 2014.)

BE A 400 SUPPORTER

Shaheer Akhtab is embarking on the biggest challenge of his political career yet; he is running for a seat on the City Council of Kansas City, Mo., representing and serving over 50,000 people.

Once again, he is running as an independent. He doesn’t have the backing and money of the Democratic or Republican machines. He is rising with the tide of the people. He is asking for our help. He needs the support of the community that gave him birth.

Shaheer said during our interview, “I have sacrificed my whole life to serve the community, and I am just reaching out for some help.”

He said, “I am looking for 400 believers to donate $100 over a period of five months, which is only $20 per month. If I can find 400 people in our community who will join our ‘400 Supporters’ campaign, I believe I can reach the citizens and win.”

The “400 Supporters” campaign can make the victory happen. He defeated the Democratic and Republican machines in his last election and he can do it again. But it is going to cost him more to have a chance.

Bro. Akhtab has to print more signs for more yards, more literature for more people. He will need to build a bigger team to reach a bigger constituency. His ummah can help give birth to a political “son of consequence.”

If 400 believers across the country would be willing to donate $100 over the next five months, Shaheer could run a competitive campaign and he is confident he could win the seat. Just sign up at his website at www.shaheer2015.com. Become one of the 400 Supporters.

Shaheer Akhtab’s campaign for a City Council seat is called “the People’s Campaign for Individual Empowerment!” He has my support and help. He needs your help!

You can join the “400 Supporters” and donate online at www.shaheer2015.com. You can also send your donations to: Friends for Shaheer Akhtab, P.O. Box 270492, Kansas City MO 64127.

Bro. Shaheer can be reached by email at shaheer.akhtab@yahoo.com or by phone at 816-527-0979.

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Atty. Lateefah Muhammad

TUSKEGEE, Ala. – Attorney Lateefah Muhammad, a life-long resident of Macon County, Alabama, is a democratic candidate for District Court Judge.
On June 3, 2014, voters will elect a new District Court Judge for the first time in 37 years. “I thank retiring Judge Aubrey Ford, Jr. for his commitment and service to this County for so many years,” Muhammad states.
Named Geraldine Mabson at birth, Muhammad was raised on a farm in the Armstrong Community in south Macon County. Her parents are the Late Dea. Colonel Mabson Sr. and Lillie Harris Mabson. Her grandparents are the Late Rev. Ulysses Grant Mabson, Sr. and Lucindy Williams Mabson, and the Late Hudson Harris, Sr. and Mary Will Jones Harris.
Married to “7th Wonder” founder Marvin L. Patton (Jamal Muhammad) for 40 years, they have a son, Reginald (Kareem) Mabson, granddaughter, Jasmyn Brown, great-granddaughter, Zanyia, and spiritual daughter and son, Angel Renfroe and Russ Caldwell.
Muhammad says she will faithfully and fairly perform the duties of the office she seeks. She also says she will maintain the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary of the State.
Graduate of Cotton Valley Elementary School and South Macon High School, a strong advocate for education, Muhammad was conferred a B.S. Degree in Marketing at Tuskegee University. She held the highest GPA in business courses among her peers at Tuskegee.
In 1991, Muhammad received her Juris Doctor Degree at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at TSU in Houston, Texas, and while there, was elected as Editor-In-Chief of the Thurgood Marshall Law Review.
With her leadership, the Law Review published four volumes in one year, a feat never before accomplished and not since. They garnered over $10,000 from Law Review subscribers that year.
Muhammad was also elected Governor of the American Bar Association/Law Student Division’s 13th Circuit. She was bestowed the AmJur Award in Federal Jurisdiction, and was voted Outstanding Woman of America.
Muhammad is a proud member of the Alabama State Bar and Macon County Bar for over 20 years, having served as the local Bar treasurer for at least three two-year terms.
She has served thousands of clients during her legal career, some of whom were represented pro bono because of her commitment to serving people, despite their means. She served as the first law clerk to the Hon. Vanzetta Penn McPherson, Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama.
In 1996, Muhammad became the only attorney ever elected to the Tuskegee City Council and to serve on the City’s Utilities Board, and the only Muslim sworn into public office by the Late Muslim American leader, Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
In four years, her Council and Board produced over $8 million in grants for the Tuskegee Municipal Airport, built two new water towers, upgraded the electrical system, paved over 100 streets, hired a Chief of Police who shut down several “crack” houses, made neighborhoods safe, upgraded and provided traffic lights, repaired homes and negotiated to locate CVS in Tuskegee.
Muhammad is Tuskegee’s first certified municipal official and Alabama’s first Muslim woman elected to public office.
Featured in the 2011 inaugural issue of Who’s Who in Black Alabama, Muhammad has served as middle district representative of the Alabama Lawyers Association. She is a member of the Alabama New South Coalition and NAACP.
Dorothy Mabson Woody, long-time community advocate, is Muhammad’s campaign chairperson. Supporters can reach her at (334) 744-7054, Electdistjudge@aol.com. Voters can contact Muhammad at (334) 727-1997, lateefahmuhammad@aol.com.

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By Julianne Malveaux

NNPA Columnist

In President Barack Obama’s State of the Union (SOU) address, he appealed to our nation’s employers to raise wages from the current minimum of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

He has already signed an executive order that requires federal contractors to be paid $10.10 an hour, an only appropriate move since so many workers on federal contracts are living in poverty.

The plight of federal contract workers at the bottom is especially galling, given that CEOs at the top have no limits in what they can be paid.  Many earn more than president Obama’s $400,000 salary.

They are awarded contracts by coming up with a minimum bid, which too often means paying people the lowest possible wage.

There are many consequences to workers earning so little money that they often work at a level below the poverty line.  The federal government through food stamps, subsidized health care, and a number of other well-deserved benefits subsidizes those with families surviving on low wages.

They are also stigmatized by receiving government help.  Why not pay these folks enough to make it on their own, instead of railing about those who “depend” on the government?

When women with children earn a minimum wage, they are challenged to take care of their children.  If there is not affordable childcare, or a family support system, many of these women are desperate to figure out a way to work and find someone to take care of their children.

In Henrico County, Virginia, which is part of the Richmond metropolitan are, 23-year-old Brittney R. Downing admitted her role in the deaths of her two children, aged 3 months and 20 months.

Brittney Downing left her children in a parking lot, inside her vehicle, while she went to work at a Henrico hotel.   Both of her children were affected by heat strokes. Her 20 month old son died first, her daughter four days later.  She is charged with involuntary manslaughter and can spend as many as 25 years in jail.

Brittney’s children are collateral damage in the war against women and minimum wage workers.  As President Obama noted in the SOU address, women are the majority of minimum wage workers.  All of them aren’t teens; many are rearing children.

Too many of them don’t earn enough to sustain themselves.  Brittney Downing’s children, Jelani and Jade, died partly because their mother didn’t earn enough to put them in an affordable child care program.

Some will say that Brittney Downing should have had better sense than to leave her children in a locked car.  I would say that those who value life so much that they rail against a woman’s right to choose ought to consider the consequences of choices, especially when they aren’t supported.

Why don’t we have a work/family policy that makes child care assessable and affordable?  Given these provisions, or a living wage, Brittney Downing may not have found the need to bring her children to work with her, and to keep them in the car.

Some employers provide on-site childcare, allowing employees with the same challenges that Brittney Downing faced to drop their children off and come back for them at the end of their shifts.

While many provide this childcare at a small fee, others are willing to subsidize low-wage workers.  These employers are more the exception than the rule.  Do they understand their productivity losses when they do not institute policies that are friendly to the work of women who have children?

There have been spates of cases where mothers have left their children “home alone.”  Not all of them have been cases similar to Brittney’s, when a woman leaves her children because she has no childcare support system.

Some of the cases happen to be women who have walked out to buy a soda or get a stamp.  That’s likely to be a woman, cooped up with her children, with not enough support to take a break.

Other women have left their children “home alone” while they engaged in social activities.  While their actions are foolish, the lack of a support system is still quite evident.

There are no excuses for putting a child in danger, or are there?  When a woman must work and has no child care, what is she to do?  When the research on post-partum depression suggests irrational behavior on the part of some mothers, why are they vilified?

How many women have written the post-partum story, while nannies and maids had their backs?  How many, without nannies or maids, are challenged to make it on their own?

The low wages that many single mothers earn limit opportunities.  The children they try to raise are the collateral damage that our Congress is complicit in when they refuse to raise the minimum wage.

(Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.  She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.)

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Ben Chavis

By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
NNPA Columnist

President Barack Obama served notice in his State of the Union speech that he intends to make 2014 a year of action on his “opportunity agenda” for all the people of the United States.
For millions of Black Americans and others who yearn for a better quality of life, it was refreshing and good to hear President Obama affirm that he would act independently of the Congress, when he can, on issues of minimum wage increase for federal contractors, improving the quality and access to education, job preparation, and innovations in economic development.
After watching suffering disrespect and an all-out attack on him by conservative Republicans, it was way past due time for President Obama to finally stand up to his political opponents.
He   stated, “After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth. The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress.”
While the national and international media focused on the President Obama’s announcement that by executive order, the minimum wage for federal contract workers would be raised to $10.10 an hour, there was another important, but little-noticed part his address that potentially could have a positive impact on the Black American community.
President Obama emphasized, “And I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.”
Young Black men in the U.S. are the most disproportionately incarcerated, the victims of homicides, the largest percentage of the unemployed, and represent the highest percentage of high school drop outs.
But with the responsive leadership and commitments, allocation of resources, and outreach, encouragement, nurture and care, the negative socioeconomic situation of young Black men can be turned around.
President Obama also said, “The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us. But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete, and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise, unless we also do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.”
In the past, President Obama has been roundly criticized when he spoke candidly about the plight of the Black family. Much was the criticism was because the president seemed to focus Black imperfections while failing to hold up the same mirror to Whites. In that respect, the criticism is understandable.
But even so, the truth is we all must take a greater responsibility for the uplift of all women, men and children in all our communities. It is not just up to the president, governor, mayor or members of congress alone to fix the problems that confront our communities.  We must also assume greater and more consistent responsibility for the empowerment of our people.
We are, therefore, pleased that our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have stepped up to the plate of self-responsibility on the issue of helping young Black males and have endorsed a remarkably successful pilot effort led by Ronald Mason, President of the Southern University System in Louisiana titled “Five Fifths Agenda for America.”
President Mason’s vision for this long-term program is a comprehensive approach to nurture and empower young Black males.  There are four underlying strategic goals of the Five Fifths Agenda:
1.To increase the number of Black males that attain a bachelor degree;
2. To increase the number of Black male teachers and graduates in the sciences and math;
3. HBCUs will serve as institutional homes and development centers for long-term systemic change for America; and
4. To promote, foster and facilitate a truthful, national conversation about the relationship between Black men and America, both historically and contemporarily.
When President Obama referred to helping “young men of color,” I smiled because I already knew the Obama administration was actively supporting efforts to get the Five Fifths Agenda for America adequately funded.
We thank President Obama not just for another great speech but also for his leadership, action and outreach to our young brothers who need to be uplifted.  Lastly, we remain very grateful to President Ronald Mason, Southern University, NAFEO the White House Initiative on HBCUs for responding to this issue.
(Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. He can be reached at: http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc)

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Barack Obama

(IN PART)
FEB. 6, 2014
Washington Hilton
Washington, D.C.

 

MR. PRESIDENT:  … Each time we gather, it’s a chance to set aside the rush of our daily lives; to pause with humility before an Almighty God; to seek His Grace; and, mindful of our own imperfections, to remember the admonition from the Book of Romans, which is especially fitting for those of us in Washington:  “Do not claim to be wiser than you are.”
So here we put aside labels of party and ideology and recall what we are first:  all children of a loving God; brothers and sisters called to make His work our own.  But in this work, as Lincoln said, our concern should not be whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God’s side.
And here we give thanks for His Guidance in our own individual faith journeys.  In my life, He directed my path to Chicago and my work with churches who were intent on breaking the cycle of poverty in hard-hit communities there.
And I’m grateful not only because I was broke and the church fed me, but because it led to everything else.  It led me to embrace Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  It led me to Michelle - the love of my life - and it blessed us with two extraordinary daughters.
It led me to public service.  And the longer I serve, especially in moments of trial or doubt, the more thankful I am of God’s guiding hand.
Now, here, as Americans, we affirm the freedoms endowed by our Creator, among them freedom of religion.  And, yes, this freedom safeguards religion, allowing us to flourish as one of the most religious countries on Earth, but it works the other way, too - because religion strengthens America.
Brave men and women of faith have challenged our conscience and brought us closer to our founding ideals, from the abolition of slavery to civil rights, workers’ rights.
Many of you carry on this good work today - for the child who deserves a school worthy of his dreams; for the parents working overtime to pull themselves out of poverty; for the immigrants who want to step out of the shadows and become a full member of our American family; for the young girl who prays for rescue from the modern slavery of human trafficking, an outrage that we must all join together to end.

Through our Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, led by Melissa Rogers, we’re proud to work with you on this and many other issues.  And I invite you to join us in a new initiative that I announced in my State of the Union address - an effort to help more young men of color overcome the odds, because so many boys in this country need that mentor to help them become a man and a good father.
I’ve felt the love that faith can instill in our lives during my visits to the Holy Land and Jerusalem - sacred to Jews and Christians and Muslims.  I’ve felt it in houses of worship - whether paying my respects at the tomb of Archbishop Romero in San Salvador, or visiting a synagogue on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or a Buddhist temple in Bangkok.
And I’ve felt the compassion of so many faith leaders around the world, and I am especially looking forward to returning to the Vatican next month to meet His Holiness, Pope Francis, whose message about caring for the “least of these” is one that I hope all of us heed.…
Yet even as our faith sustains us, it’s also clear that around the world freedom of religion is under threat.  And that is what I want to reflect on this morning.  We see governments engaging in discrimination and violence against the faithful….
Old tensions are stoked, fueling conflicts along religious lines, as we’ve seen in the Central African Republic recently, even though to harm anyone in the name of faith is to diminish our own relationship with God.
Extremists succumb to an ignorant nihilism that shows they don’t understand the faiths they claim to profess - for the killing of the innocent is never fulfilling God’s Will; in fact, it’s the ultimate betrayal of God’s Will….
We, therefore, believe in the inherent dignity of every human being - dignity that no earthly power can take away.  And central to that dignity is freedom of religion - the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do this free from persecution and fear.
Our faith teaches us that in the face of suffering, we can’t stand idly by and that we must be that Good Samaritan.  In Isaiah, we’re told “to do right.  Seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.”
The Torah commands:  “Know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.”
The Qur’ran instructs:  “Stand out firmly for justice.”
So history shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people -including the freedom of religion - are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful.
Nations that do not uphold these rights sow the bitter seeds of instability and violence and extremism.  So freedom of religion matters to our national security.
… Promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.  And I’m proud that no nation on Earth does more to stand up for the freedom of religion around the world than the United States of America.

It is not always comfortable to do, but it is right.  When I meet with Chinese leaders - and we do a lot of business with the Chinese, and that relationship is extraordinarily important not just to our two countries but to the world - but I stress that realizing China’s potential rests on upholding universal rights, including for Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims.
When I meet with the President of Burma, a country that is trying to emerge out of a long darkness into the light of a representative government, I’ve said that Burma’s return to the international community depends on respecting basic freedoms, including for Christians and Muslims.
I’ve pledged our support to the people of Nigeria, who deserve to worship in their churches and mosques in peace, free from terror.  I’ve put the weight of my office behind the efforts to protect the people of Sudan and South Sudan, including religious minorities.
As we support Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in direct talks, we’ve made clear that lasting peace will require freedom of worship and access to holy sites for all faiths.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Kerry for his extraordinary passion and principled diplomacy that he’s brought to the cause of peace in the Middle East.
More broadly, I’ve made the case that no society can truly succeed unless it guarantees the rights of all its peoples, including religious minorities, whether they’re Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, or Baha’i in Iran, or Coptic Christians in Egypt.
And in Syria, it means ensuring a place for all people - Alawites and Sunni, Shia and Christian.
Going forward, we will keep standing for religious freedom around the world.  And that includes, by the way, opposing blasphemy and defamation of religion measures, which are promoted sometimes as an expression of religion, but, in fact, all too often can be used to suppress religious minorities.
I look forward to nominating our next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom to help lead these efforts.  And we’re moving ahead with our new strategy to partner more closely with religious leaders and faith communities as we carry out our foreign policy.
So around the world, we’re elevating our engagement with faith leaders and making it a regular part of our diplomacy. Let’s do more together to advance human rights, including religious freedom.  Let’s do more to promote the development that Raj describes - from ending extreme poverty to saving lives, from HIV/AIDS to combating climate change so that we can preserve God’s incredible creation.
On all these issues, faith leaders and faith organizations here in the United States and around the world are incredible partners, and we're grateful to them.
And in contrast to those who wield religion to divide us, let’s do more to nurture the dialogue between faiths that can break cycles of conflict and build true peace, including in the Holy Land.
Finally, as we build the future we seek, let us never forget those who are persecuted today, among them Americans of faith.  We pray for Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who’s been held in North Korea for 15 months, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.  His family wants him home.  And the United States will continue to do everything in our power to secure his release because Kenneth Bae deserves to be free.
We pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini.  He’s been held in Iran for more than 18 months, sentenced to eight years in prison on charges relating to his Christian beliefs.
And as we continue to work for his freedom, today, again, we call on the Iranian government to release Pastor Abedini so he can return to the loving arms of his wife and children in Idaho.
And as we pray for all prisoners of conscience, whatever their faiths, wherever they’re held, let’s imagine what it must be like for them.  We may not know their names, but all around the world there are people who are waking up in cold cells, facing another day of confinement, another day of unspeakable treatment, simply because they are affirming God.
Despite all they’ve endured, despite all the awful punishments if caught, they will wait for that moment when the guards aren’t looking, and when they can close their eyes and bring their hands together and pray.
In those moments of peace, of grace, those moments when their faith is tested in ways that those of us who are more comfortable never experience; in those far-away cells, I believe their unbroken souls are made stronger.
I hope that somehow they hear our prayers for them, that they know that, along with the spirit of God, they have our spirit with them as well, and that they are not alone.
Today we give humble thanks for the freedoms we cherish in this country.  And I join you in seeking God’s Grace in all of our lives.  I pray that His Wisdom will give us the capacity to do right and to seek justice, and defend the oppressed wherever they may dwell.
… May God bless the United States of America, and God bless all those who seek peace and justice.  Thank you very much.

Politics

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By Nusayba Hammad, Communications Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (nusayba@uscpr.org) WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an act unprecedented in recent history, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand...
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