The Big Takeover: The global economic crisis isn’t about money – it’s about power.


Illustration by Victor Juha


It’s over — we’re officially, royally fucked. No empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline — a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country’s heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire.

10 terms not to use with Muslims

There’s a big difference between what we say and what they hear.

In the course of my travels – from the Middle East to Central Asia to Southeast Asia – it has been my great privilege to meet and become friends with many devout Muslims. These friendships are defined by frank respect as we listen to each other; understand and agree on the what, why, and how of our disagreements, political and theological; and, most of all, deepen our points of commonality as a result.

I have learned much from my Muslim friends, foremost this: Political disagreements come and go, but genuine respect for each other, rooted in our respective faith traditions, does not. If there is no respect, there is no relationship, merely a transactional encounter that serves no one in the long term. Continue reading

What it means to talk with Hamas

Engaging it is fundamentally about accepting (perhaps uncomfortable) facts.


March 2009 may come to be seen as a critical month in the ending of the international community’s isolation of Hamas. Finally engaging Hamas would spell the end of hypocritical Western policy and bring the peace process in line with the realities of the Middle East.

First, a group of high-level US foreign policy officials, past and present, went public with their recommendation that the Obama administration talk to Hamas. Coincidentally, European politicians who visited Hamas officials in Syria about the same time echoed that view.

Typically, meetings between European lawmakers and Hamas leaders are conducted discretely, if not entirely in secret. Now, the trips have begun to be publicized: In March there were trips by a cross-party group of British and Irish members of parliaments, as well as their counterparts from Greece and Italy. Continue reading

Publishers Weekly Rave Review of “Ramadan Blues”: Short Story by Wajahat Ali

“Ramadan Blues” can be read here:

Pow Wow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience—Short Fiction From Then to Now
Edited by Ishmael Reed and Carla Blank. Da Capo, $19.95 (503p) ISBN 9781568583426
With help from writers such as Benjamin Franklin, Grace Paley and Wanda Coleman, novelist/poet/essayist Reed puts together a captivating, multifarious look at the American experience through its short fiction (a “cousin” to his lauded poetry anthology From Totems to Hip-Hop). From the ins and outs of a young Latino’s struggle in an Anglo-dominated Catholic school (Nash Candelaria’s “The Day the Cisco Kid Shot John Wayne”) to Haight Street during the Summer of Love (“Wormwood” by Conyus), Reed’s selections will draw readers into American cities, suburbs, prairies and mountains with vivid, precise, at times documentary description and bold, personal questions of American identity and purpose. At the same time, the overwhelming role of love, loss, and growth can render them almost allegorical; a perfect example is Wajahat Ali’s “Ramadan Blues,” in which a young boy is first introduced to the traditional holiday fast. The boy’s fear and self-deprecation over his meager battle with hunger balance the personal detail and honesty of the autobiographical with the sweep of America’s religious legacy. A “gathering of voices from the different American tribes,” this highly varied collection doesn’t neglect important works from the likes of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, George S. Schuyler, Gertrude Stein and Mark Twain. (Feb.)

Groups encourage Obama administration to hire more Muslim Americans,0,176096.story

From the Los Angeles Times
A book of resumes from some of the best and the brightest is sent to the White House. It’s part of an effort to get the administration to focus on a group that has at times felt slighted — or worse.

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah

March 29, 2009

Reporting from Chicago — In a bid to get more Muslim Americans working in the Obama administration, a book with the resumes of 45 of the nation’s most qualified — Ivy League grads, Fortune 500 executives and public servants, all carefully vetted — has been submitted to the White House.

The effort, driven by community leaders and others, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), was bumped up two weeks ahead of schedule because White House officials heard about the venture, said J. Saleh Williams, program coordinator for the Congressional Muslim Staffers Assn., who sifted through more than 300 names.
Continue reading