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Archive for August, 2010

Let the Mosque Rise

Posted by admin On August - 16 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Obama: They have every right.

President Barack Obama had initially skirted the issue of the mosque being built as part of a community center near the Ground Zero site in New York. The parties involved had sorted out the details and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf obtained City and other relevant approvals to proceed with the construction of the project dubbed “Park 51.”  Then the president changed his mind and made an unexpected comment and now the roaring has started.

President Barack Obama

As he departed for a weekend retreat in Florida on Saturday, Obama is said to have commented on a Friday night White House speech in which he asserted that Muslims have the same right to freedom of religion as everyone else in America.

They Have a Right

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.”

His comment was taken by some to mean that he strongly supported the building of an Islamic center near the Ground Zero site, although he never actually said that.

Speaking to a gathering at the White House on Friday evening to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Obama said that he believes “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”

He did not say whether he believed it to be a good idea or not to build the Muslim house of prayer steps away from the site where the World Trade Center once stood before it was felled by jets manned by Muslim terrorists.

Support

Obama’s seemingly impromptu statement has thrust him in the midst of a debate which he had skirted for weeks. The

Demonstrator Gary Phaneuf holds a sign in support of Muslims during a Landmarks Commission's hearing on the proposed mosque to be built near the Ground Zero site. (Photograph by Keith Bedford, Reuters.)

White House stance had been that the issue of the mosque was a local matter. Until Friday, it had maintained that it did not want to get involved in local decision-making.

In swift support of his statement, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent who has been a strong supporter of the mosque, welcomed Obama’s White House speech as a “clarion defense of the freedom of religion.”

In a Yahoo News interview Gov. Charlie Crist, Florida, who was among those who met with Obama on Saturday, lauded the his action. “I think he’s right — I mean you know we’re a country that in my view stands for freedom of religion and respect for others,” Christ said after the Florida meeting with Obama and other officials. “I know there are sensitivities and I understand them. This is a place where you’re supposed to be able to practice your religion without the government telling you you can’t.”

Furor

But others were just as swift with their objections. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene of Florida interpreted Obama’s Friday speech as support for the construction.

Unidentified woman protests mosque at site near Ground Zero. (Reuters photo)

“President Obama has this all wrong and I strongly oppose his support for building a mosque near Ground Zero especially since Islamic terrorists have bragged and celebrated destroying the Twin Towers and killing nearly 3,000 Americans. Freedom of religion might provide the right to build the mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero, but common sense and respect for those who lost their lives and loved ones gives sensible reason to build the mosque someplace else,” he said in a Yahoo News interview.

The mosque is part of a $100 million Islamic community center being constructed two blocks from where some 3,000 people were killed when hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

The proposed construction has sparked debate around the country that included opposition from top Republicans including Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich as well as the Jewish civil rights group the Anti-Defamation League.

Shah Rukh Khan Waxed

Posted by admin On August - 14 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Madame Tussauds Unveils Wax Figure of Shah Rukh Khan

Bollywood mega star and heart throb of millions of women around the world Shah Rukh Khan, 45, has found a place among the collection of iconic international celebrities on the ninth floor at the world famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in New York City.

Khan is the second Bollywood actor to be introduced to the museum’s Bollywood Zone collection. Amitabh Bachchan was introduced last year. The London branch has a wax figure of Aishwarya Rai.

Wax figure of Shah Rukh Khan at Madame Tussauds, New York City.

To the soundtrack of  My Name Is Khan playing in the background, officials at the world famous museum unveiled a smiling figure of Shah Rukh Khan dressed in black, at the inauguration ceremony on Thursday August 12, 2010 at Times Square, Manhattan.

Bollywood Axion Dance Troupe colourfully dressed in Indian dance costumes performed to soundtrack from My Name Is Khan during the unveiling. The DVD of the movie in which Khan starred in the leading role was also on sale.

The wax figure, wearing a sleek black suit and a white shirt, was positioned standing in front of a replica of the Taj Mahal, one of India’s most famous buildings.

Khan, who already has a statue at Madame Tussauds in Los Angeles, is the latest addition to the New York. He has a huge fan following worldwide and has starred in more than 50 Hindi films. In 2008 he was listed as one of Newsweek’s ’50 Most Powerful People in the World’.

Adjoining the room where Khan’s statue was unveiled is a collection of wax figures of presidents of the United States

Shah Rukh Khan

and other world leaders, among them, Fidel Castro, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., Yasser Arafat and Napoleon.

In a Hindustan Times article on August 13, 2010, Rosemary del Prado, director of marketing at Madame Tussauds said “More and more people are seeing Bollywood as part of the mainstream,” and pointed to Khan’s button down vest and blazer zipper. “It represents his current style,” she added.

According to the film’s website, the “My Name Iis Khan” DVD release has been timed to coincide with India’s Independence Day celebration. It showcases the changing face of Bollywood.

Khan and Kajol (the lead actress in the movie) recently visited the United States to promote the film and became the first Bollywood stars to ring the Nasdaq bell for Fox Searchlight Pictures, the distributors of the film.

Information on Madam Tussauds website states that it takes up to six months to complete one wax figure. It begins with a single sitting. Hours can pass with the subject holding the same position.

Sculptors spend several hours with the subject. They take more than 250 precise measurements of the body, hands and face with calipers and cloth tape measures. During the process, the subject’s head and body is photographed from every possible angle. At this point the sculptor makes detailed observations which will capture the subject’s personality and character in wax form. If the subject happens to be unavailable, Madame Tussauds studio artists study hundreds of photos and watch hours of video to create the figure. Each figure costs approximately $125,000 to make.

India Day Parade 2010

Posted by admin On August - 13 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

T&T Prime Minister is Guest of Honour

“Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge… At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.” Jawaharlal Nehru

Indian film actress Preity Zinta.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the first female Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago will be the guest of honour at the 30th India Day Parade carded to take place at Madison Avenue, New York on Sunday August 15, 2010. She will attend a Grand Gala Reception Dinner and Awards Ceremony at Royal Albert Palace in New Jersey on Monday August 16, 2010, to celebrate the occasion.

She will spend ten days in New York raising funds, attending meetings and religious services at various temples.

Trinidadian immigrants residing in New York and other states are expected to flood the parade to catch a glimpse of their new prime minister who ascended to office when the People’s Partnership Party trounced the People’s National Movement in the general election on May 26, 2010. She took over from Prime Minister Patrick Manning who suffered a humiliating defeat at the polls.

NYPD will step up police security in Manhattan to ensure an incident free parade.

India Day.

Hosted by the Federation of Indian Associations for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the parade is expected to be the biggest in its 30-year history. To mark the occasion The Empire State Building will be lit up with the three colours of India’s flag on the nights of August 14 and 15, 2010. And for the first time since the celebrations have been hosted there will be a Children Parade and Dress Competition.

Grand Marshall, Indian film actress Preity Zinta will preside over the day long activities organised to celebrate the spirit of India. She has starred in Hindi Bollywood films, as well as Telugu and Punjabi. Zinta holds a degree in criminal psychology. She made her acting debut in Dil Se in 1998 and followed up with Soldier later the same year. These performances earned her a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award. For her role in Kal Ho Naa Ho, she won the Filmfare Best Actress Award in 2003.

In addition to acting, Zinta has written a series of columns for BBC News Online South Asia and is co-owner of the Indian Premier League cricket team and Kings XI Punjab.

Celebrating the spirit of India. (Photo taken from

Seven hours of non-stop entertainment will begin with a street fair  and festival at 11 a.m. at Madison Avenue from 26th to 28th Streets. The Parade of Floats will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at Madison Avenue along 38 to 28th Streets. A Cultural Program will run from 2 to 6 p.m. at Madison Avenue on 23rd Street.

The celebrations will be carried live on channels in the USA, Canada, India and on the internet.

“FIA celebrates India Day event on a grand scale with a national fervor.  It is not the personal or individual celebration of any FIA leader.  It is not the celebration of marriage of my daughter.  It is a national celebration of every Indian American.  I beg all of you to attend the celebration and make it a grand success,” wrote event chairman Satish Gabhawala on the India Tribune website.

The following is a copy of Persad-Bissessar’s itenary for the duration of her visit.

Friday 13:

Noon-1.30 p.m. Visit to State University of New York, Albany.

6.30 p.m. Polytechnic Institute Public Symposium, Brooklyn

7.30 p.m. Public Meeting at Calypso City, now called Maracas, Queens.

8.30 p.m. Fundraiser and dinner at Liberty Avenue, Queens.

Saturday 14:

4 p.m. Interview with India TV Network, Long Island City.

5 p.m. Visit to Shiva Temple for reception Richmond Hill, Queens

7.30 p.m. Fundraiser in Long Island at Vijay Nahata residence, Upper Brookville.

Sunday 15:

12.45 p.m. India Day Parade at Madison Avenue and 38th Street, Manhattan.

7 p.m. Ramayan in the Park at Liberty Avenue, Queens

8 p.m. Fundraiser at Lefferts Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard, Queens

Monday 16:

2 p.m. GOPIO Meeting at Marriot Marquis

3 p.m. Business Meeting at Marriot Marquis

6 p.m. Federation of Indian Association Dinner at Royal Albert’s Palace, New Jersey

Saturday 21:

9 p.m. to 2 a.m. TT United Cultural Association Reception at Queens Village.