Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ya Allah

‘Ya Allah,
You are my supporter
You are my helper,
by You I move
by You I attack

by You I battle.’

Thursday, April 26, 2007

VA Tech Copycat Threat @ Hastings

April 25, 2007

To: Boalt Community

From: Dean Christopher Edley, Jr.

It has been a week since the distressing events involving a Boalt student’s threat —a hoax — against the community at Hastings College of the Law. I am writing to let you know that all our actions following the incident have been taken with the intention of securing the safety and well-being of our community and that at Hastings, while respecting the procedural rights of the student.

On Wednesday, April 25, 2007, the Law School filed a complaint with the U.C. Berkeley Judicial Affairs Office against the law student who claimed responsibility for posting the threat on a website. We, the administrative leadership of Boalt, believe that the student’s action is clearly in violation of a number of regulations detailed in the Student Code of Conduct. The case will be adjudicated by Judicial Affairs according to campus regulations. Those regulations prohibit us from disclosing the name of the student against whom we are proceeding.

Based on the facts as we understand them today, we have recommended expulsion. This is based not only on the intrinsic wrongfulness of the act itself, but also the disruption, turmoil and emotional toll on the Hastings community and, to a more limited extent, the Boalt community as well. I have received ample evidence of this through a great many emails, some of them painful to read.

This incident has once again confirmed for me the strength and qualities of the Boalt community. Even in this challenging circumstance, you have engaged in thoughtful and productive discussions. We should all take some pride in this, imperfect though we are.

Christopher Edley, Jr.
Professor of Law and Dean


April 26, 2007

To the U.C. Hastings College of Law community:

On behalf of students at Boalt Hall, we express our deep sympathy and sincere disapproval for the unfortunate events associated with the recent threat to the Hastings community.

Understanding the pressures common to our field of study, particularly at this stage in the academic year, we find what transpired to be particularly inappropriate. The collective discomfort on each of our campuses underscores our interdependence as students. We can only hope that this incident will strengthen the bond between our schools in the future. Please accept our sympathies.

Boalt Hall Students Association


(Regular updates on the Hastings threat drama are available at Memoirs of Hastings.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Denim Day

The History:
Italy, 1992
An 18-year old girl is picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her very first lesson. He takes her to an isolated road, pulls her out of the car, wrestles her out of one leg of her jeans and forcefully rapes her. Threatened with death if she tells anyone, he makes her drive the car home. Later that night she tells her parents, and they help and support her to press charges. The perpetrator gets arrested and is prosecuted. He is convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.

He appeals the sentence. The case makes it’s all the way to the Italian Supreme Court. Within a matter of days the case against the driving instructor is overturned, dismissed, and the perpetrator released. In a statement by the Chief Judge, he argued, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”

Enraged by the verdict, within a matter of hours the women in the Italian Parliament launched into immediate action and protested by wearing jeans to work. This call to action motivated and emboldened the California Senate and Assembly to do the same . . .

Make a Difference: Why Wear Denim Today?

  • Make it possible for more survivors of sexual assault to reach out and find help.
  • Promote prevention through education, so sexual violence won’t occur in the first place.
  • Encourage men and boys to understand that strength is not for hurting, and the critical role they play in preventing violence against women.
  • Encourage institutional and societal change.

Source: Denim Day in LA

Friday, April 20, 2007

20 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

1. At Lunchtime, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don't disguise your voice.

3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.

4. Put your garbage can on your desk and label it "In".

5. Put decaf in the coffee maker for three weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to Espresso.

6. In the memo field of all your check, write: "For Smuggling Diamonds."

7. Finish all of your sentences with "in accordance with the Prophecy."

8. Dont use any punctuation

9. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

10. Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.

11. Specify that your drive-through order is "to go."

12. Sing along at the opera.

13. Go to a poetry recital. And ask why the poems don't rhyme.

14. Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical sounds all day.

15. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their party because you're not in the mood.

16. Have your co-workers address you by your wrestling name, "Rock Bottom."

17. When the money comes out of the ATM, scream "I won! I won!"

18. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling "run for your lives! They're loose!"

19. Tell your children over dinner, "due to the economy, we're going to have to let one of you go."

20. And the final way to keep a healthy level of Insanity .. Share this with a friend, make them smile. It's called therapy.

(This came my way via random email forwarding - I thought some of you would enjoy it, insh'Allah.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Happy Bid'ah Day (i.e. Birthday)
Ahmed Billoo!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ice Cream For A Good Cause

Today is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's! Affad Shaikh discussed this blessed event at: This American Muslim.

Eating for a good cause is very much up my alley.

BUT I have some words of caution, take them for what they're worth insh'Allah. It was recently brought to my attention (hat tip to Saira Lari) that the majority of ice cream flavors by Ben & Jerry's contain vanilla extract. According to Eat Halal (EXCERPT included below):

Vanilla is a plant product. It is extracted with alcohol as the solvent of choice, from the vanilla bean and is normally kept in a solution containing alcohol. It can be used in powder or liquid form. If you examine at a bottle of vanilla extract, you will find it lists alcohol as an ingredient, along with the percentage of alcohol. (In the USA, a minimum of 35% alcohol is required for it to be called natural vanilla.)
. . . .
In current practice, most of the vanillin and ethyl vanillin is produced synthetically; however, the food companies may also dissolve them in alcohol before they are used in the food items.
. . .
So in general, all intoxicants, regardless of the source, are haram. (Khamr is commonly considered to be ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol.) It is also haram to buy, sell, produce, transport, grow the raw materials for or in anyway be associated with the alcoholic drinks (Khamr). Vanilla is not a drink, but it does contain a large amount of alcohol. Even though it is used in small quantities, it is better to avoid it.

And ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, knows best.

Please note: Ben & Jerry's has ice cream ingredients available online, so check out which of their flavors do and/or don't contain vanilla extract before enjoying your free cone. (FYI I believe all of their sorbets are safe, Alhamdulillah.)

Eat with caution?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pakistan Battles HIV/Aids Taboo

Nearly 4,000 people with HIV/Aids have reported at treatment centres around Pakistan, government and World Health Organisation (WHO) officials say.

The figure is a fraction of the total number of Pakistanis with the virus.

A UNAids report last year said that between 80,000 and 140,000 people were infected - and the rate could spiral because of under-reporting of cases.

The WHO has been funding a three-year, $4.5m anti-retroviral programme in Pakistan since late 2005.

. . .
Pakistani officials say a low detection rate and stigma associated with the disease were hampering the treatment of HIV/Aids patients.

The problem is further compounded by a lack of awareness about the infection.

"People think it is exclusively caused by adultery, and are therefore reluctant to approach health services," says Quaid Saeed, WHO's national medical officer for HIV/Aids in Pakistan

More at: BBC News

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Breaking News: CSU - CFA Reach Tentative Agreement

California Faculty Association Announces Tentative Agreement in Cal State U. Faculty Contract Dispute

Union Board Puts Rolling Strike on Hold Pending Member Ratification of Contract

The California Faculty Association announced today a tentative agreement with the California State University administration in the 23-month dispute for a contract covering the CSU’s teachers, librarians, counselors and coaches.

CFA President John Travis said, “We have a tentative agreement on the CSU faculty contract that will be good for the CSU, good for our students, good for the faculty—and frankly it will be good for California. As a result, we have put the rolling walkouts at the 23 CSU campuses on hold pending ratification of the agreement.”

The accord was reached using recommendations made by an impartial fact finder as a framework. The fact finder’s report became public March 25. (see it at

The salary portion of the tentative agreement will help the faculty to catch up with the cost of living especially in campus cities like LA, San Francisco, and San Jose, which has been a main issue of contention.

Travis said, “The CSU will be better able to retain teachers in California, improving educational quality in the CSU for students today and in the future.

He added, “This happened above all because the CSU faculty were willing to take a stand and were determined, united, and stepped up with a huge strike vote and strong preparations to take action. The faculty took a strong stand for the CSU, and for California’s public higher education system. We will continue to work for the educational integrity of the CSU.”

Through this agreement faculty will make real progress toward closing the pay gap between themselves and colleagues in other states

CFA acknowledges the help of important supporters including members of the state legislature, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, CSU campus staff, labor unions throughout California and the nation including the AFL-CIO and our affiliates, and many of our students who need and believe in the CSU.

CFA Vice President Lillian Taiz noted there remain important issues challenging California’s state university system.

Taiz said, “Student fees will be raised by the CSU Trustees if more money is not found this spring. Working to stem the rise in student fees will be important for CFA. Also, new policies are needed on compensation for top CSU executives as well as accountability and openness in how the CSU is managed.”

In the coming weeks, the tentative agreement must be turned into a final contract that can be ratified in a vote of the faculty.

Travis said, “The CSU administration did the right thing by agreeing to a contract, based on the fact finder’s report, and avoiding a strike. We hope to work together on rebuilding our university after years of tight budgets, growing class sizes, loss of teachers. The relationship will improve as the administration shows that it values the faculty and places a top priority on the instruction of students.”

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dismantling Dismay

General Humanitarian Event Tips
by Ruben Vaughan III

Coordinating an event to feed the poor, make children smile or to service humanity in general takes planning and a dedicated team. In basic preparations for a humanitarian event your team must be assembled, assigned task and coordinated with an aim of a fluid success. Fluidity implies choosing the path of least resistance, feigning away from micromanaging but at the same time paying attention to details. The details are the people you are serving, their families, their feelings, their needs and their happiness. The stimulating feeling one gets as they realize some one genuinely cares about them and the condition they are in surpasses perception. . . .

More at: Dismantling Dimay

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Call That Humiliation?

No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a very uncivilised bunch

Terry Jones
Saturday March 31, 2007
The Guardian

I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this - allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it's hard to breathe. Then it's perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can't be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn't be able to talk at all. Of course they'd probably find it even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at least they wouldn't be humiliated.

And what's all this about allowing the captives to write letters home saying they are all right? It's time the Iranians fell into line with the rest of the civilised world: they should allow their captives the privacy of solitary confinement. That's one of the many privileges the US grants to its captives in Guant√°namo Bay.

The true mark of a civilised country is that it doesn't rush into charging people whom it has arbitrarily arrested in places it's just invaded. The inmates of Guant√°namo, for example, have been enjoying all the privacy they want for almost five years, and the first inmate has only just been charged. What a contrast to the disgraceful Iranian rush to parade their captives before the cameras!

What's more, it is clear that the Iranians are not giving their British prisoners any decent physical exercise. The US military make sure that their Iraqi captives enjoy PT. This takes the form of exciting "stress positions", which the captives are expected to hold for hours on end so as to improve their stomach and calf muscles. A common exercise is where they are made to stand on the balls of their feet and then squat so that their thighs are parallel to the ground. This creates intense pain and, finally, muscle failure. It's all good healthy fun and has the bonus that the captives will confess to anything to get out of it.

And this brings me to my final point. It is clear from her TV appearance that servicewoman Turney has been put under pressure. The newspapers have persuaded behavioural psychologists to examine the footage and they all conclude that she is "unhappy and stressed".

What is so appalling is the underhand way in which the Iranians have got her "unhappy and stressed". She shows no signs of electrocution or burn marks and there are no signs of beating on her face. This is unacceptable. If captives are to be put under duress, such as by forcing them into compromising sexual positions, or having electric shocks to their genitals, they should be photographed, as they were in Abu Ghraib. The photographs should then be circulated around the civilised world so that everyone can see exactly what has been going on.

As Stephen Glover pointed out in the Daily Mail, perhaps it would not be right to bomb Iran in retaliation for the humiliation of our servicemen, but clearly the Iranian people must be made to suffer - whether by beefing up sanctions, as the Mail suggests, or simply by getting President Bush to hurry up and invade, as he intends to anyway, and bring democracy and western values to the country, as he has in Iraq.

· Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python