Chasing Mitchell

first_imgWho was Elisha Mitchell—the man who first summited the highest mountain in the East—beyond the short, terrible span of his final moments?In April, I walked up the ramp from the parking lot at North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell State Park to the mountain’s summit, as have countless visitors before me. I wanted to find out more about the mountain’s namesake—Elisha Mitchell, the 19th-century professor who died attempting to prove this mountain was the highest in the East.At the summit of Mount Mitchell is a tower with a plaque that reads:Elisha Mitchell (1793 – 1857)Scientist and professor. Died in attempt to prove this mountain highest in eastern U.S. Grave is at summit. 285 yds. S.When you arrive at the observation deck at the mountain’s top, there’s another marker for Mitchell, this one set into the side of the stone tomb where his body now rests:Here lies in the hope of a blessed resurrection the body of the Rev. Elisha Mitchell D.D. who after being for thirty-nine years a professor in the University of North Carolina lost his life in the scientific exploration of this mountain, in the sixty-fourth year of his age.June 27, 1857As I looked at the tomb, I thought about the professor, two months shy of his 64th birthday, wandering these mountains over 150 years ago.Mitchell was trying to prove that he’d found, measured, and climbed the highest peak in the East—despite rancorous counterclaims by Congressman Thomas Clingman, a former student of Mitchell’s, who maintained that he hadn’t.The debate between the two public figures played out for more than two years, and Mitchell set forth to lay to rest any questions about the legitimacy of his assertion. He died in the effort.When he fell to his death on June 27—and that day is an estimate—he was heading to the cabin of Big Tom Wilson, a famed mountaineer, hunter, and expert guide who lived near what prominent 19th-century geologist and geographer Arnold Guyot called “Black Dome” when referring to the mountain.The name Guyot chose is telling of the debate. He labeled it such in an effort to avoid referring to the peak with Clingman or Mitchell’s name attached to it—a mid-19th-century form of political correctness. It’s likely that locals rarely referred to the mountain by name at all—the seven tallest peaks in the Black Mountain Range, of which Mount Mitchell is one, vary in height by only 140 feet.The professor was seeking Wilson’s assistance in exploring the area and securing his claim, having grown weary of a long debate with political overtures. Ultimately, Wilson assisted in locating the professor’s lifeless body, found floating in a pool of water at the base of what is now known as Mitchell Falls.Wilson deduced that the professor was crossing a creek above the 25-foot-high falls, and that night had fallen. The conclusion drawn by Wilson was that the professor struck his head as he tumbled down the falls and that he then drowned in the pool below. There is also a mention by an eyewitness to the recovery of Mitchell’s body of “a slight wound on the head, caused, I think, by falling against the log…that leans against the torrent’s channel.”Wilson discovered Mitchell eleven days after he died, and did so with his own small group after larger, formal searches had been called off.The pocket watch that Mitchell bore is stopped at 8:19, with an assumption by Wilson that this marked the time of the professor’s death. Saturday, June 27, was the assumed to be the date of Mitchell’s death based on a diary found on his body that includes an entry from earlier that evening. Both the time and day strike me as estimates made concise to imbue a dark, unseen tragedy with some measurement, and in turn, the small comfort that comes with knowledge and understanding.Who was Mitchell beyond the short, terrible span of his final moments? The park museum largely conveys the story above, but despite its recounting, Mitchell remained to me thoroughly two-dimensional, and his life only defined by it abrupt ending. The drawings that exist of him are variations on a theme: a balding man, with wisps of hair curled around his temples, a formal collar and tie, and a look away from the portraitist that obscures insight into his eyes and in turn the person.On this visit, a thick bank of fog cloaked the mountain and rolled up its sides as if blown skyward by an unseen fan from below. As I descended the ramp, I headed off onto a trail tucked beneath the summit. It was clear treading on the path, but quickly thickened into a riot of fallen dead trees, rock outcroppings, and underbrush once I veered from it. If nothing else, the detour afforded me a glimpse into how limited Mitchell’s views must have been, even at these heights, and how slow his progress.Coming out of the woods, I walked the length of the parking lot to my small pickup. A young couple pulled up into the lot—the only other car there that day—and sprang out with a cellphone held aloft, pointed down at them. They ran in circles waving and sharing to their audience the splendor of this lofty, mist-shrouded, asphalt parking lot. They then hopped in their car and speed back down the mountain. I smiled and thought that—ironically—his eponymous mountain may not be the best place to better come to know Mitchell the man. It began to hail.I later do some reading to fill out the dimensions of the professor. He was born in Connecticut in 1793, and graduated Yale in 1813. He began teaching at Chapel Hill in late January, 1818, and was joined on his journey southward by fellow classmate Denison Olmsted. Both took up professorships at UNC, then called North Carolina University, with Mitchell teaching mathematics and “natural philosophy,” a precursor to today’s physics.Mitchell’s wife, Maria North, arrived in Chapel Hill a year later in 1819. At the time, the town was an outpost in an endless wilderness of oaks and loblolly pines, a cluster of some half-dozen university buildings and 40 houses comprising the village. It was a small, steadfast clearing in a sea of trees with its purpose the schooling of roughly 100 young men. The hope for their education, and one held by Mitchell, was to strike back the dark uncivility that in mid-19th century academic minds often accompanied untamed wilderness.With that backstory in place, in May I drove east 220 miles from Asheville to Chapel Hill to help picture Mitchell’s time there. At the Wilson Library at UNC, I quickly find the pocket watch that has only grown in its fascination for me since I first heard of it. It’s under a glass case, and now festooned with a faded black ribbon marking its dark place in Mitchell’s history.From there, I head to the reading room and pore over handwritten accounts of the professor and his peers, some dating back to the 18th century. It is as thrilling as it is often indecipherable, the ink and quill of the age forcing a slanted cursive that readily lends itself to misinterpretation.I learned that Mitchell was no religious firebrand, though he would bend the ear of a student on theological matters when the opportunity arose. But his tranquil demeanor and infinite patience were celebrated by many students and colleagues.In 1835, Mitchell had used barometric observations to measure the heights of the Black Mountains, and he determined that one peak was the highest mountain in the East. Nine years later, in 1844, Mitchell decided to confirm his findings on foot as part of his general ongoing work of surveying the western part of the state. It was on this trip that Mitchell summited what is today’s Mount Mitchell.But then in the early 1850s, one of Mitchell’s former students, Thomas Clingman, claimed that another peak was highest, and that he had summited it first. Clingman was a prominent attorney and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His counterclaims were wide and varied, and delivered with the oratory and written skills of a congressman and attorney. The debates between Mitchell and Clingman were often vitriolic, which ultimately prompted Mitchell to return to the mountain to prove the accuracy of his measurements in his last fateful journey.In the year following Mitchell’s death, a host of supporters corroborated his 1844 trip to the summit and confirmed his mountain was the highest. Part of this was proven when Big Tom Wilson—by the late 1850s a national celebrity for his mountain acumen—re-created the 1844 journey of Mitchell and brought experts to the point that is now the summit of Mount Mitchell, and known to be 6,684 feet.I’m most struck by the letters that poured into David Lowry Swain notifying him of Mitchell’s death. Swain was the former North Carolina governor who was by then president of UNC. The notes uniformly convey a despondency about the professor’s death that does help me better understand him, if only through the depth of their conveyed grief. One, dated July 6, 1857, is addressed to “Governor Swain,” although Swain was by then more than twenty years removed from the office.Gov. Swain,My Dear Sir,I have a most melancholy and unfortunate piece of information to communicate, and think it best to do it at once before rumor renders it more unpleasant, if that were possible, than the sad reality.Our dear old friend Dr. Mitchell is no more. He is lost among the mountains and the utmost search we have been able to make has yet proved unavailing. After navigating folders of papers conveying to me the life of Mitchell, I’m contented that I’ve come to know the outdoor adventurer as well as I can in the quiet spaces of a library. I spend the rest of the afternoon walking the campus, in the knowledge that at times I’m walking where the professor once trod.Within a week of the trip to Chapel Hill, I’m back at Mount Mitchell, and I’m informed for the fourth time after inquiries to four different parties that Mitchell Falls is strictly off limits. I do ascertain from a park ranger the region of the falls, and an agreement that several thousand yards taken in its general direction does not constitute trespassing, especially if the ranger is not looking.I walked out from the from the visitor center and down a gravel road, until I was quickly warned off the task by signage and the reluctance to land my helpful accomplice in serious trouble.I then walked back to my car and after looking at maps, decided to head to Roan Mountain on the North Carolina—Tennessee border, where Mitchell visited in the 1830s, and a place of which he was especially fond for its ability to be reached by horseback.En route I drove past a roadside marker to Andre Michaux, the French botanist who surveyed western North Carolina and its flora in the late 1790s. Through Michaux’s account of his findings, which Mitchell later read, he influenced the professor perhaps more than any other single factor to one day explore the region.Finally, I arrived at Carver’s Gap, parked my truck, and meandered to the top of Round Bald, elevation 5,826 feet. Its stunning beauty caught me off guard, a 360-degree vista of blue mountains, calf-high wind-blown grasses, and blossoming patches of rhododendron. A light breeze and a fading sun perfected the setting with the life and color so absent from the black and white renderings of the stoic Mitchell I first encountered.Perhaps now, and only now, I have gained some glimpse into Mitchell: a brilliant, flawed, persistent man who—at his core—fell in love with the mountains.last_img read more

Read More →

Guatemala Organizes Specialized Conference on Human Rights

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo May 10, 2018 Guatemala reaffirmed its commitment to human rights, bringing together 22 delegations from member countries of the Conference of American Armies (CAA) on April 9th-14th at the Ministry of National Defense in Guatemala City. The Specialized Conference on Human Rights for Military Support to Civilian Authorities promoted exchange of experiences and lessons learned among participants. SOUTHCOM assistance “Thanks to the invaluable support of U.S. Army South, we were able to hold the Specialized Conference on Human Rrights, with an emphasis on border security, for the first time,” Guatemalan Army Colonel Eric Francisco Espinoza, director of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law for the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense, told Diálogo. “The American armies are certain of [the importance of] respect for people’s human rights and support of civilian authorities.” CAA is a military body of countries of the Americas whose mission is the analysis, debate, and exchange of information and experiences related to the defense sector. The organization strengthens cooperation and integration among the armies, and contributes a military perspective to the security, democracy, and development of member countries. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, the United States, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and the Dominican Republic participated. Spain, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Center for Studies, Training, and Analysis and Human Rights—an autonomous academic organization from Costa Rica, which works closely with the Human Rights Office of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)—attended as observers “Holding this event was a challenge. The administration, logistics, and everything involving the subject itself was complex,” Colonel William López, a Guatemalan Army participant at the conference, told Diálogo. “Guatemala is committed to human rights.” Military support to civilian authorities During the conference, the delegations approved a draft for a CAA guide on human rights regarding military support to civilian authorities, focused on border control and immigration operations. CAA military forces must in occasion carry out border control exercises in support of civilian authorities, encouraging the creation of a guide. “The first thing we cleared up was that border control is not in itself a military function, but rather support the civilian authorities require, given that military units are found in areas where there is always government presence. This makes it necessary to put out a guide on military actions with a focus on human rights,” said Col. Espinoza. “The international migration issue is of the utmost relevance and timeliness in the majority of countries throughout the hemisphere.” The attendees’ experiences contributed to designing the guide’s development plan, divided into five topics: human mobility conceptual framework and definitions, human mobility operational framework, border control procedures, protocols for action, and general restrictions on the use of force and firearms. “The document is meant to standardize procedures for CAA members,” Col. López said. “This guide will cover the entire Western Hemisphere; however, each country is free to put it into operation in accordance with their internal legislation.” The manual will include all recommended protocols for CAA members to follow when faced with illegal immigration. “Hence the importance of respect for human rights to the extent possible, and of strengthening close communication and coordination with the proper authorities, so that they are in the know in the shortest amount of time and assume responsibility for these people,” Col. Espinoza said. The initiative will not only allow service members to respect, guarantee, and protect human rights, “but also [to focus] on the spirit of collaboration and coordination with the authorities of our own governments to prevent committing or being questioned for human rights violations,” said Col. Espinoza. “Every action and attitude of military personnel should always be with respect for human rights without judging or discriminating against anyone.” During the revision process for the guide, participants agreed that all CAA countries, SOUTHCOM, and U.S. Army South would be able to intervene to improve the content. Once finalized and approved, the guide will be presented to the Inter-American Defense Board, which will present it to the Organization of American States in November 2019. In addition to creating a general manual, participants analyzed the CAA Guide on Human Rights in Disaster Relief Operations, drafted during the CAA’s 32nd cycle in 2017. This guide includes the protocols and rights to be considered when military units provide humanitarian aid to disaster victims.last_img read more

Read More →

Justice rips shoddy work of private capital case lawyers

first_img March 1, 2005 Senior Editor Regular News Justice rips shoddy work of private capital case lawyers Justice rips shoddy work of private capital case lawyers Current standards for post-conviction counsel are ‘inadequate’ Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Privatizing post-conviction appeals in death penalty cases has resulted in “some of the worst lawyering I have seen” and some of the “worst briefs I have read,” Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero told the Commission on Capital Cases.“I’m talking about minimum standards. I’m not talking about requiring Clarence Darrow-quality high standards. I’m talking about whether this person should be doing these cases at all,” Cantero said.A frank discussion of the quality — or lack thereof — of private attorneys who agree to represent death row inmates in post-conviction appeals has prompted commission members to find ways to fix the problem — including the idea of raising the minimum standards to qualify as registry counsel by statute.The subject of Cantero’s comments also came up at the Senate Committee on Justice Appropriations meeting February 16.“We will look for guidance from the commission,” Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, chair, told Roger Maas, executive director of the Commission on Capital Cases.“I have met personally with the last three chief justices. Each has stated the same thing: As long as we have quality capital collateral counsel.. . there is a level of comfort with the court in dealing with capital cases. But if that was to erode, we could have problems. Whether private or public, it needs to be quality representation, or we will lose that confidence, that ethos.”More private attorneys were needed to handle complicated death penalty appeals in 2003, after Brad Thomas, then Gov. Jeb Bush’s policy advisor and now a First District Court of Appeal judge, lobbied to privatize all capital collateral counsel, with the rationale that death cases will move faster to their ultimate conclusion and private lawyers can do it cheaper.“Brad Thomas is who brought it to us,” Crist said. “In the astute wisdom of the Senate, we decided to slow it down and do a test and that’s how this whole thing came about.”In the end, the legislature eliminated one of three state death penalty appeals offices, laying off 10 lawyers and 15 support staff in the CCRC Northern Regional Office, and calling for a three-year pilot project to study efficiencies.Maas told both commissioners and senators that Bush is “not pushing for more privatization, but is not opposed to it. The governor would oppose reinstatement of CCRC North.”Crist appeared surprised.“The governor was pushing privatization for the last two years and the Senate was holding the line. Change of heart?” Crist asked.Crist continued that it was “pretty much a unanimous feeling” of the Senate Committee on Justice Appropriations to “leave the pilot project intact.. . “At this juncture, it is premature to determine success or failure, and we really need 36 months to study it to get an accurate sampling to determine which direction to go,” Crist said. “We want to make sure the Supreme Court is comfortable and confident.. . . Ultimately, we want to preserve the capital punishment system. We don’t want to create an imbalance that would put it into jeopardy.”Earlier, at the Commission on Capital Cases meeting, Cantero said totally privatizing all three CCRCs would be a bad idea.“The final area of concern I have is the idea of totally eliminating all CCRCs at this point,” Cantero said. “I think we have finally gotten to the point where there is some organization in the death penalty process, and there is competent representation from the CCRC. The complaints of delays for delay’s sake that were prevalent in years past with CCRC don’t pertain any longer to that office. I haven’t seen it, at least.. . . We will need a lot more registry counsel if we eliminate CCRCs at this point. I’m not sure there are enough quality registry lawyers to pick up the slack.”The current situation of lawyers with little understanding of death penalty appeals, as described by Cantero at the January 25 meeting, has created gross inefficiencies at the Supreme Court.Cantero said that though death penalty appeals are only 3 to 5 percent of the number of cases at the high court, they consume 40 percent of court’s case load and at least half of the oral argument calendar at any given time.Though he has only been on the court two and a half years, Cantero said, the high volume of death penalty cases has given him expertise in comparing the preparedness of private registry lawyers versus CCRC.“I will tell you the representation from the CCRC is consistently average or above average to excellent,” Cantero said. “As far as the registry counsel, those who were formerly CCRC counsel, some of them are some of the best ones that they had. I am very disappointed, however, by representation of many registry counsel that have practiced before the court.“I think some of the worst lawyering I’ve seen is from some of registry counsel, unfortunately. If you look at some of the oral arguments, you will understand why. It seems to me some registry counsel have little or no experience in death penalty cases. They have not raised the right issues, from our review of the record. Sometimes, they raise too many issues and still they haven’t raised the right ones. In arguments, they are unable to respond to questions or don’t know what the record shows. They don’t have a real good understanding of death penalty cases, I don’t think.”Part of the problem is the low threshold of experience, Cantero said. The registry lawyers who are charged with finding mistakes made by trial counsel are not required to have as much experience as the trial counsel.For example, the Supreme Court, in Rule 3.112, Rules of Criminal Procedure, requires five years in litigating criminal cases and nine trials, of which two the lawyer was lead or co-counsel in a death penalty case. Of those nine, the attorney should have been lead counsel in which three were murder trials or one was a murder trial and an additional five were felony trials.Compare those requirements to standards set by statute, in Chapter 27, Part IV, for capital collateral lawyers: Three years in criminal law, and participating in five felony jury trials or five felony appeals or five capital evidentiary hearings or any combination of five of those.“A felony can be a burglary,” Cantero said. “Just because you’ve had five burglary trials by no means indicates you can handle a post-conviction death penalty case.”In a February 9 follow-up letter to Maas, Chief Justice Barbara Pariente wrote: “In the past several years, the court has observed a marked improvement in the representation provided by the regional CCRC offices. As for registry counsel, we have observed deficiencies and we would definitely endorse the need for increased standards for registry counsel, as well as a continuing system of screening and monitoring to ensure minimum levels of competence.“As you are aware, several years ago, the court adopted standards for private counsel assigned to death penalty appeals, but declined to adopt standards for post-conviction counsel that would vary from those passed from the legislature. However, we believe that the current standards of post-conviction counsel are inadequate.”At the commission meeting, Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Oviedo, asked Cantero: “If you find a lawyer is not truly competent to work on a capital case.. . have you thought of removing them from the case?”And Cantero answered: “I’ve thought about it. I’m not sure we can. We have thought about whether this person should be a registry counsel at all. I think we are reluctant to go to that drastic a step.”Mike Reiter, who lost his job as head of CCRC North, is now a registry lawyer.“It is not my intention to attack the registry in any way. First of all, I am on the registry,” Reiter told the commission. But he said “there is no substitute for the experience and training you get working full-time at the CCRC,” adding case strategies by all lawyers were supervised.“I realize that the governor and others want a full three-year pilot project to continue before they have it analyzed. But if there is a flaw in the quality of services being provided by the registry attorneys, it will just get worse over time, not better,” Reiter said.“Now you’re talking about going full circle, spending more for registry lawyers than CCRC working full-time. You may in time have better quality from CCRC counsel and less cost by the time it’s all done.”Rep. Adams asked Reiter if there is no oversight of functions of registry lawyers.“True,” said Reiter.“So we are handing out funding with no accountability?” she asked.“That’s correct,” Reiter answered.He added that if standards are raised for private attorneys who take post-conviction death penalty appeals, “the less number of lawyers will qualify and there will be a reduction of people on the registry. If you are saying raise the cost of the registry to increase the quality, you have just recreated the CCRCs in a smaller package. That’s all you’re doing.”last_img read more

Read More →

Islamic Center of Long Island to Unveil Interfaith Institute

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York When the doors to the Islamic Center of Long Island opened for the first time two decades ago, there were only three people inside the basement praying toward Mecca and welcoming the solitude it offered.The unimpressive turnout prompted Dr. Faroque Khan, a co-founder of the mosque, to ask himself, “What are we doing here?” Little did he know what would become of the then-three bedroom house sitting atop a sizable plot on bustling Brush Hollow Road, which was purchased for $149,000 in 1984.Now hundreds attend Friday prayers, and as word of the mosque continues to spread, more and more worshippers decide to make the spiritual journey to Westbury. The ICLI underwent its first expansion in the early 1990s, which cost about $2 million. A second renovation is nearing its end, and the price tag has ballooned to $4 million.These are good times for the Islamic Center of Long Island, a vibrant, respected religious space that has earnestly focused on community outreach. The ICLI also showed itself to be a progressive religious center when in January it appointed Dr. Isma Chaudhry as its president, making her the first female president of the mosque in its history.If members of the community are looking for a moderate voice of Islam, they need look no further than the ICLI. But in the minds of the mosque’s leaders, much work remains.This weekend, the ICLI will yet again embrace its community-first attitude when it launches the Interfaith Institute of Islamic Center of Long Island, which will endeavor to educate the community about all faiths, not just Islam. Its goal is to foster a better understanding of the dozen different faiths being practiced on this Island. The institute includes an impressive board of trustees made up of men and women from different backgrounds and faiths, including representation from the Diocese of Rockville Centre and leaders in higher education. The interfaith institute is perhaps the only such organization in the region, if not the country, operated under the auspices of an Islamic Center, says Khan.“I need to understand better the tenets of other faiths,” he says. “Similarly the other faiths need to understand and learn about who we are, particularly in the present environment where the loudest voices are the most crazy voices. We need to bring that voice of reason, sanity into the conversation.”One of the institute’s main goals is to reach out to educators and their students—in local school districts and universities—to better educate them on Islam, a religion that most people learn about through uninformed talking heads on television and cable news. The religion, local leaders say, has been hijacked by extremists to justify bloodletting and territorial acquisitions. Such high-profile slaughters perpetrated by terror groups often prompt condemnation by the ICLI, but their voice isn’t always heard because mainstream media fail to report the institute’s denunciations, says Khan, the former chair of medicine at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.The group already has plans to work with school districts in Westbury, Hicksville, Herricks and Jericho to promote interfaith initiatives through conferences, seminars, essay contests and student visits, he says.Sitting inside the Jericho home he and his wife purchased in 1971, Khan recalls how Islam was thrust into the public conscience on Sept. 11, 2001—a horrible introduction.He’s not surprised that 14 years after the terror attacks that many Americans don’t have a better understanding of his religion. It takes time, he says. He’s patient. And despite increased Islamophobia in the media and public spaces, he has unbridled confidence that Muslims will one day no longer be looked upon as the “others.”“It’s been a slow, evolutionary process,” Khan tells the Press.With the introduction of its interfaith institute, the ICLI is essentially coming full circle. The idea of the mosque began when Khan and other newcomers to LI realized that not only did their children’s schools lack the basic understanding of Islam, but so did their children, who were minorities in their respective classrooms.That became clear three decades ago when Khan’s then-10-year-old daughter asked: “Dad, why can’t I have a Christmas tree?”The Khans and about 10 other families, made up of mostly physicians, got together and began contemplating how a suburban mosque would serve a burgeoning Muslim community. In the meantime, meetings were held in a nursery school in Hempstead. The Quaker Foundation-operated Advent Church in Westbury provided a comfortable place for children to learn from other parents about the teachings of Islam. Eventually the ICLI’s founders discovered the property on Brush Hollow Road, but they instantly hit a roadblock.The families were operating on a shoestring budget—with about $14,000 in the bank. The high-price tag notwithstanding, the families pooled their resources together and raised enough money to purchase the property. Its growth has been dramatic. Its latest remodel has been a massive undertaking. The installation of Chaudhry as president was a watershed moment. It’s evolution continues.DialogueOn Sunday, religious leaders and interfaith activists will gather at the Islamic Center of Long Island for the official launch of the Interfaith Institute. They’ll discuss plans to interact with schools and to lobby local universities to develop a formal course on interfaith dialogue.The backdrop will be a massively expanding mosque. Construction crews first broke ground in August 2013. The renovated mosque will include more classrooms to support the growing number of Muslim families moving into the Long Island community, as well as a recreation area and interfaith center.The Interfaith Institute has already received letters of support from such elected officials as Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) and New York State Comptroller Tom D’Napoli.Prominent religious leaders are also throwing their support behind the Interfaith Institute.“Since my arrival on Long Island in 2001, I have been inspired by the willingness of the Muslim community, among others, to work together,” Bishop William Murphy wrote in a letter to Chaudhry, which has been included in a 35-page handbook detailing the institute’s goals and wishes. “This institute is certainly the fruit of those sentiments, and I applaud its inception and wish its Board of Trustees every success.”Among the members of the board is Rev. Tom Goodhue, executive director of Long Island Council of Churches. He’s been involved in inter-religious activities with the ICLI for more than a decade.“They’ve always been great at a sort of dialogue at a kind of a street level,” he tells the Press.“It’s great the Muslims are tackling this,” Goodhue adds, “because they still face a lot of misunderstanding and suspicion, and they need to do things somewhat differently to come up with a way to interact with other faith communities.”Goodhue hopes the institute will “further inter-religious dialogue and understanding” on Long Island.Chaudhry, the ICLI’s new president, has been at the forefront of interfaith efforts. Her relationship with the ICLI began as a volunteer. Like Khan, the realization that education is necessary to foster understanding came when she realized her children were among only six Muslims kids enrolled in the private school. She created a curriculum and proceeded to educate the school’s staff on Muslim traditions and culture. Soon, other schools inquired about her services.While combating Islamophobia and anti-semitism is one of her stated goals for the institute, Chaudhry hopes to simply unite communities and “build a healthy society.”“People are afraid of what Islam is,” she adds.The ICLI has a long history of coordinating initiatives with other faiths.More than 20 year ago, it partnered with Catholics to produce 20 half-hour segments on Telecare called “Our Muslim Neighbors.”In 2001, the ICLI and Temple Beth El in Great Neck collaborated on an event dubbed “American Muslims and Jews in Dialogue,” which the ICLI credits with spurring illuminating conversations about the two prominent religions.And more than once the mosque has worked alongside the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove to promote interfaith harmony. One such event at HMTC highlighted the bravery of Muslims in Albania during World War II.Albania, according to Steven Markowitz, chairman of HMTC, was allied with Germany during the war [following its invasion and occupation by Italy and Germany, respectively], but became the only European country to boast that it had more Jews after the war than it had prior to the conflict.The Albanian people “protected their Jews and welcomed Jews from other countries,” says Markowitz. “These people were all Muslims who did this.”Markowitz is not on the board of the Interfaith Institute but he wrote a letter of support.HMTC promotes people they call “upstanders”—the brave souls who stood up for the marginalized, especially during the Holocaust. Inside HMTC is a photo of a young Muslim man rescuing Jewish boys at a subway in New York City.“If there was ever a more perfect example of how people can stand up for each other and truly be ‘upstanders,’ that was it,” he says.On Sunday, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, intellectuals, educators and a bevy of other supporters will stand united as they launch the ICLI’s latest—and perhaps most ambitious—project yet.Their announcement comes amid continued turmoil in the Middle East. The so-called Islamic State continues to wreak havoc in Syria and Iraq; Libya is essentially a fallen state; Egypt’s fledgling democracy continues to crumble; proxy wars between US and Russia and Iran and Saudi Arabia are pushing the region into further chaos; and the Syrian refugee crisis has only underscored how the West is unfit, or simply unwilling, to welcome people fleeing war zones.But despite the turmoil there’s hope here.Just last month, Pope Francis stood at Ground Zero and held an interfaith prayer with dozens of religious leaders. Khan was in attendance. He left impressed.Francis’ message of “love your neighbor,” says Khan, is one the ICLI and other faiths on LI have preached for years.Yet pleas for solidarity are often muffled by the bloodshed, making it difficult for voices like Khan’s to reach the mainstream.“Violence,” Khan laments, “gets more attention than peace-building and outreach.”He says the tide is changing. Leafing through “Story of a Mosque in America,” a book he wrote and published in 1991, Khan recalls a time not tool long ago when Jews were marginalized in America. He finds hope in how they eventually found acceptance and prominence in society.Khan understands that the fight for prosperity will perhaps never end, but future generations will be better off if organizations like the Interfaith Institute succeed in its mission.“The hope is that these young people, down the road, will understand the community better and will be better neighbors,” Khan says. “I want to make it a better place for my children and grandkids, simple as that.”last_img read more

Read More →

Handling cold temperatures on the farm

first_img“I did quit my regular job to farm and to sell the goat milk, soaps, and lotions. That kind of took over faster than I expected. So, every day I’m out here at the farm and I’m doing what I love, making products from our farm and selling to the community,” said Shamrock Creek Farm owner Patty McMahon. Patty isn’t the only one needing to stay warm. She makes sure her goats, chickens, ducks, and rabbits stay warm too. TOWN OF MAINE (WBNG) — Whether it’s the family business or a passion, local farmers work hard to provide for themselves, their families, and the community. Shamrock Creek Farm was built on that passion for farming. No matter the weather, local farmers know to stay prepared and be ready to work in just about any condition. “Ventilation is good, but drafts are bad. So you have to make sure that your structures aren’t drafty. The animals need clean, fresh straw to bed down in. The key also is to have warm water,” said McMahon.center_img “Dressing in layers is a key. Having limited skin exposure during the really cold temperatures. I suggest Carhartts, good hat, wool gloves,” said McMahon. Outside of the growing season, farmers are still hard at work, even when it gets cold. The routine around the farm may stay the same, but extra preparation is needed for the elements. “Being a farmer in Upstate New York you have to embrace all kinds of weather, especially anything that Mother Nature is going to throw at you. You still have a job to do and regardless warm or cold we’re still out here,” said McMahon.last_img read more

Read More →

Vietnam, France report more H5N1 in birds

first_imgAug 15, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Vietnam’s agriculture ministry today announced the detection of a poultry outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in a province bordering China, a day after French officials reported that four wild ducks in Moselle had the virus.The Vietnamese outbreak occurred at a farm in the northern province of Cao Bang, about 43 miles from the Chinese border, where 89 chickens and ducks died recently, Reuters reported today. Tests conducted in Hanoi confirmed the birds had the H5N1 virus, the report said.Vietnam has had seven human H5N1 cases this year, including four deaths, according to news reports. However, five of the cases have not yet been confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), whose current avian flu tally for Vietnam is 95 cases with 42 deaths.Elsewhere, government officials in France said yesterday that four dead wild ducks found Aug 8 in the Moselle region in the eastern part of the country had tested positive for the H5N1 virus, the Associated Press (AP) reported today.The outbreak is the third since early July, when dead wild swans found in Assenoncourt and Diane Capelle, both in the Moselle region, tested positive for the virus, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The infected wild ducks in the most recent outbreak were also found in the Diane Capelle area, the AP report said.In other avian flu developments, the WHO yesterday confirmed Indonesia’s latest human case, in a 29-year-old woman from Bali province who fell ill on Aug 3 and died Aug 12. She is Indonesia’s 103rd case-patient, according to the WHO. The country has had 82 H5N1 deaths.The WHO report said the woman’s daughter had died Aug 3 after being hospitalized with a respiratory illness, but hospital officials did not suspect she had avian flu. The woman and her daughter had both been exposed to sick and dead poultry, the WHO reported.Household and healthcare worker contacts who were exposed to the woman are being monitored, and all remain healthy, the WHO said.Meanwhile, a 2-year-old girl from a neighboring home who was hospitalized on Aug 10 with suspicious respiratory symptoms does not have the H5N1 virus, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today. Ningrum, a doctor from Indonesia’s avian flu information center, told AFP that the negative test results came back last night.See also:OIE reports on French outbreakAug 14 WHO reporthttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2007_08_14a/en/index.htmllast_img read more

Read More →

Governor Wolf Announces Pennsylvania Receives Nearly $7 Million in Grant Funding for Transit

first_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Efficiency,  Infrastructure,  Press Release,  Transportation Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that it is the recipient of nearly $7 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to help provide more modern, reliable bus service for transit riders in Pennsylvania.“Providing Pennsylvanians with improved transit operations is truly reflective of government that works,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Mobility is key to life quality and we’re glad to have been chosen to receive funding for these important infrastructure improvements.”Governor Wolf said the FTA selected projects include those that replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment as well as projects to purchase, rehabilitate and construct bus-related facilities, such as buildings for bus storage and maintenance.“It’s important to me as secretary that those who need Pennsylvania’s transit system for employment, education and healthcare have the best experience possible,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “These grants will help to ensure that our customers’ expectations are met.”Pennsylvania’s grant allocations are as follows:Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) $4,000,000SEPTA will receive funding to rehabilitate the Wissahickon Transit Center on the Manayunk/Norristown line in Northwest PhiladelphiaRiver Valley Transit $2,040,000River Valley Transit will receive funding to purchase new CNG replacement buses in Williamsport.Transportation and Motor Buses for Public Use Authority (AMTRAN) $864,000AMTRAN will receive funding to purchase replacement buses in Altoona.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf Governor Wolf Announces Pennsylvania Receives Nearly $7 Million in Grant Funding for Transitcenter_img September 09, 2016last_img read more

Read More →

The 5 most horrifying revelations in the newest Planned Parenthood video

first_imgLifeSiteNews 19 August 2015Today’s video just might be the most horrifying of the seven videos released by the Center for Medical Progress exposing Planned Parenthood’s practice of harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies.But then again it’s kind of hard to imagine what could be worse than previous videos: like the one showing technicians sorting through the dismembered arms and legs of a 20-week aborted twin, or the other one where a technician exclaims “It’s another boy!” while prodding at a “specimen” (So much for the lie that unborn babies are just “blobs of tissue”).That said, here are the five most horrifying revelations from today’s video. Be warned, it takes a strong stomach to read this, and then to realize that this is actually happening.1. StemExpress technicians working at a Planned Parenthood clinic harvested the brains of a baby whose heart was still beating.2. There are other times when aborted babies are born with beating hearts before organ harvesting.3. Planned Parenthood changes the abortion procedure to obtain “fully intact” aborted babies.4. The hardest part of the baby to get is the brains. So when the abortionist wants a brain, they will deliver the baby “breach” and only “crush” around the head to kill the baby.5. Planned Parenthood knows that if they do abortions without killing the baby first with Digoxin, the baby might be born alive. But they do it anyway, to obtain the best quality specimens.https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/the-5-most-horrifying-revelations-in-the-newest-planned-parenthood-videolast_img read more

Read More →

Huge merger creates marijuana giant ahead of legalisation in Canada

first_img Sharing is caring! BusinessHealthInternationalLifestylePrint Huge merger creates marijuana giant ahead of legalisation in Canada by: – May 15, 2018 In this file photo taken on April 20, 2018 shows a man wearing a Canadian maple leaf flag with marijuana leaf during the annual 4/20 rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo: AFP)Montreal, Canada (AFP) — With the legalisation of recreational marijuana looming in Canada, therapeutic producer Aurora says it is acquiring rival MedReleaf Corp in a huge deal set to create a giant company.Aurora today said it would pay Can$3.2 billion (US$2.51 billion) as part of an all-stock deal that will leave Aurora shareholders with control of 61 per cent of the resulting company.The new company will have a production capacity of 570 tonnes of cannabis a year, with nine greenhouse operations in Canada and two in Denmark, Aurora and MedReleaf said in a joint statement.The merger comes amid surging interest in the country’s nascent ganja industry with legalisation expected this summer.Already in January, Aurora had spent more than Can$1 billion to purchase rival CanniMed.The Canadian government originally scheduled legalisation for July 1, coinciding with the Canada Day weekend, but complications with new distribution and monitoring systems forced delays.But last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told AFP that legalisation would come this summer. While provincial governments work to set up distribution channels – and prepare to share resulting tax windfalls with the federal government – companies linked to the cannabis business have seen a speculative bubble develop.The capitalisation of the three biggest Canadian producers on the Toronto Stock Exchange has exploded in recent months.Aurora shares have more than tripled in value in the past year, to more than Can$4.6 billion.Whether or when that bubble might burst is unclear.But it illustrates the growing interest in this soft drug, seen increasingly as a fiscal boon to governments in Canada, as it has been in US states like California that have legalised ganja use.In another deal, one of Aurora’s chief rivals, Canopy Growth, today announced its purchase of the 33 per cent of the Tweed Joint Venture group that it did not already own for Can$374 million, and said it planned to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Share 25 Views   no discussionscenter_img Share Tweet Sharelast_img read more

Read More →