Bowe Bergdahl and the Resurgence of Conservative Islamophobia

Posted by The Atlantic on June 04, 2014

I have some sympathy for critics of President Obama’s decision to trade five Guantanamo prisoners for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. At the very least, the White House should have informed Congress beforehand, as required by law. And the administration’s effort to justify that failure by citing a presidential signing statement altering the law’s meaning sounds positively Cheneyesque.

Still, it's disheartening to see that some prominent conservatives are unable to critique the Bergdahl deal without resorting to anti-Muslim bigotry. Bergdahl’s father, an outraged Bill O’Reilly said earlier this week, “looks like a Muslim. He is also somewhat sympathetic to Islam.”...

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CAP Fellow Teams up with BDS Group to Thwart Israel Visa Bill

Posted by The Washington Free Beacon on May 21, 2014

A fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP) Leadership Institute was scheduled to moderate a congressional briefing Wednesday on ways to kill a piece of legislation that makes it easier for Israelis to obtain U.S. visas.

The briefing, held on Capitol Hill in a Senate office building, was organized by the group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and was to include remarks from an official of the group U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, one of the leading sponsors of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The groups seek to stop Congress from passing a bill that...

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Feds Choke Off Vital Somali Lifeline

Posted by Foreign Policy on May 16, 2014

Rules designed to keep money out of the hands of terrorists could soon cut off support to millions of ordinary East Africans too. Last week, another financial institution -- Merchants Bank of California -- started closing accounts belonging to companies that collect money from African immigrants in the United States and send it to Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and other African countries.

The money-transmitter companies function like smaller versions of Western Union and MoneyGram, but they can send money to far-flung African villages that the big guys don't serve. They rely on banks to make the international wire transfers necessary to...

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Week ahead: Boxer yields on Israel visa waiver

Posted by Al Monitor on May 16, 2014

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has dropped controversial visa waiver language from her US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, Al-Monitor has learned, paving the way for easy passage in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week.

Boxer is expected to offer an amendment during the May 20 mark-up that would nix language requiring the Department of Homeland Security to offer Israel visa-free travel once it has “made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to...

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One year in, it’s finally time for NSA reform

Posted by Tucson Weekly on May 15, 2014

Almost one year after the first Snowden leaks revealed that the U.S. government has been leading a massive surveillance operation against its own citizens, Congress may finally pass its very first piece of NSA reform legislation. But how much would it actually reform? The answer isn't as clear as the American public deserves.

Here's what we know: Almost a year ago, we discovered that the NSA was spying on innocent American citizens, including gathering phone records and online data, tracking the location of cellphones, storing personal details of phone calls and other communications for up to five years, and more....

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Father Reese named to Commission on International Religious Freedom

Posted by Catholic News Service on May 14, 2014

WASHINGTON — Jesuit journalist Father Thomas Reese is among several new members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In a May 14 announcement, President Barack Obama named Father Reese to the organization that serves as a monitoring and advisory panel to the federal government on religious freedom abroad. He joins three fellow Catholics on the commission: chairman Robert P. George, a bioethicist and Princeton University professor; James Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute; and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard University law professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Commissioners serve two-year...

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With home torn by war, family makes Maricopa their future

Posted by InMaricopa on May 13, 2014

It was late last fall when Nazem Mahayni and his wife Kenan Al Khatib Mahayni decided they had to leave. They locked the doors to their elegant home — leaving untouched the finely decorated living space as if they were only taking a short vacation. They disconnected the batteries from their cars, gathered some clothing and packed up a few suitcases.

Then, they walked away from all of it.Mahayni and Al Khatib Mahayni, along with two other family members, fled their homes near Damascus, in early November.The civil war in Syria, which began with protests against the country’s President Bashar...

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Perrotta, Mason join NADA- Source: McGreevy to take the reins at Beer Institute- NPA hires new COO

Posted by POLITICO on May 12, 2014

SCOOP … PERROTTA, MASON JOIN NADA: The National Automobile Dealers Association has added two to its legislative affairs staff, the organization tells PI. Laura Perrotta joins NADA from the American Traffic Safety Services Association, where she represented the road safety industry. And tax lobbyist Kathy Mason joins the association from her previous gig at the Newspaper Association of America. “Laura and Kathy are exceptional professionals who will help enhance our legislative and political efforts on Capitol Hill,” said Ivette Rivera, NADA vice president of legislative affairs. “Their depth of experience coupled with their drive will complete a very effective team...

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Brandeis Cancels Plan to Give Honorary Degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Critic of Islam

Posted by New York Times on April 08, 2014

Facing growing criticism, Brandeis University said Tuesday that it had reversed course and would not award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a campaigner for women’s rights and a fierce critic of Islam, who has called the religion “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.”

“We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” the university said in a statement released eight days after it had announced that Ms. Hirsi Ali and four other people would be honored at its commencement on May 18.

The university said that the president of Brandeis, Frederick...

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Census Bureau explores new Middle East/North Africa ethnic category

Posted by Pew Research Center on March 24, 2014

Organizations representing people of Middle Eastern and North African descent are asking the Census Bureau to add a new ethnic category on forms. People of this heritage are now categorized as “white,” a decades-old practice advocacy groups say is inaccurate.

Arab-American Population in the U.S.The new category would be broader than the Arab ancestry data collected by the Census Bureau since 1980. The Arab-American population is small but growing, and its exact size is disputed. The Census Bureau estimates there are 1.8 million Arab-Americans in the U.S., up 51% since 2000. But the Arab American Institute Foundation estimates there are...

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