GAINESVILLE, Florida — The leader of a small Florida church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy says he is canceling plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11.
Pastor Terry Jones said Thursday that he decided to cancel his protest because the leader of a planned Islamic Center near ground zero has agreed to move its controversial location. The agreement couldn’t be immediately confirmed.
And it doesn’t sound like it will be. According to Reuters:
He said at the same time that an agreement had been reached with Muslim leaders to move the location of an Islamic cultural center and mosque planned close to the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.
But sources close to New York Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said there was no agreement to move the site of the proposed Muslim cultural center.
What IS confirmed, however, is that Donald Trump has said he will make an offer to buy the Ground Zero mosque building:
Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) — Donald J. Trump offered to purchase the site of the proposed Islamic community center near New York City’s Ground Zero for the price paid plus 25 percent.
As part of the bid, any community center built would be located at least five blocks farther from the World Trade Center site, Trump said. The offer was made in a letter dated today and included in a statement received by e-mail.
“I am making this offer as a resident of New York and citizen of the United States, not because I think the location is a spectacular one (because it is not), but because it will end a very serious, inflammatory, and highly divisive situation,” Trump wrote in the letter to Hisham Elzanaty, a businessman who’s said he provided the majority of the financing for the two buildings where the center would be built.
Elzanaty didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message for comment.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, the center’s sponsor, didn’t respond immediately to an e-mail seeking comment.
Trump’s offer appears to be in response to a declaration made yesterday by Elzanaty:
A major investor in the mosque near Ground Zero said yesterday he is ready to pull the plug and sell some or all of the site if the price is right.
Hisham Elzanaty, an Egyptian-born businessman who says he provided a majority of the financing to gain control over the two buildings where an Islamic community center and mosque would be built, said he already has received offers for three times the $4.8 million price of the site.
“Develop it, raze it, sell it,” Elzanaty, who lives on Long Island, told the Associated Press.
“If someone wants to give me 18 or 20 million dollars today, it’s all theirs.”
The AP is reporting that Trump’s offer has been declined.
I’m ready for Pastor Jones to go back to being an unknown preacher of a small church in Florida, for the GZ imam, Elzanaty, and anyone else who normally speaks on behalf of the GZM to, frankly, STF*U. Most importantly, I’m ready to commemorate 9-11 properly – and free from all this nonsense.
Update – 6:00 PM: Via the AP:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Florida imam says that no deal has been reached to move the site of a mosque at the site of ground zero in exchange for a Florida minister to call off plans to burn Qurans.
Imam Muhammad Musri tells The Associated Press that what he offered was a meeting among the Rev. Terry Jones, the New York imam planning the Islamic center and himself to talk about the mosque location.
Musri is president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida. He says he told Jones that he does not believe the mosque should not be there and would do everything in his power to make sure it is moved.
Jones says he believes a deal was reached to move the mosque and would fly to New York Saturday to discuss it.
Related: There’s a Westboro Baptist Church connection to Pastor Terry Jones? I think I’m gonna throw up.
The Hill reports that Vice President Joe “Gaffetastic” Biden had some kind words for President Bush on Stephen Colbert’s show last night on the issue of Iraq:
Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday night said that former President George W. Bush deserves “a lot of credit” for his handling of the initial Iraq war drawdown.
Speaking to Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, who conducted a rare serious interview with the vice president, Biden was asked what he would say to Bush as the United States meets a preliminary deadline set by President Obama in 2009 for the withdrawal of combat troops this week.
“Mr. President, thank you,” said Biden, addressing a hypothetical Bush. “I’ve known you for all eight years of your presidency, and I’ve never known a time when you didn’t care.”
Asked whether Bush deserves credit for the end of combat operations, Biden said earnestly, “You deserve a lot of credit.”
Oh, to be a fly on the wall when President “I-Won’t-Give-Bush-Credit-For-Anything, Only-Blame” Obama heard about this interview (which you can view/listen to here). As per the best-selling book Game Change, we already know how then-candidate Obama felt about Biden’s pre-election gaffes and outbursts, and earlier this year it was rumored that Obama had effectively put a muzzle on the Veep to try to keep the Mr. Embarassalissimo’s unintentionally, er, candid moments to a bare minimum. So it’s not a stretch to take a wild guess as to the Presidents thoughts and reaction to Biden speaking warmly about Bush, especially on the contentious issue of Iraq.
Mary Katharine Ham describes the Obama-Biden relationship to a T:
Barack is a pensive kid, alone in his room, utterly absorbed for hours in painstakingly setting up an elaborate chain reaction with thousands of carefully placed dominos. Just as he has placed the very last domino, and prepares to call in his mom and dad to watch his meticulously constructed masterpiece at work, in rushes the obnoxious neighbor kid, all rough-and-tumble and sweaty, bursting through the door, knocking Barack over onto his creation, and starting the cascade of dominos before anyone is there to witness little Barack’s mastery.
Granted, this analogy was more applicable back when everyone actually believed Obama and his communications team were masters of messaging and competence, but I think it still works, as Biden clumisly plods all over the White House’s talking points, admitting things Robert Gibbs assiduously refuses to and shattering carefully built illusions as he goes.
That Mexico is wracked by violence as the federal government battles drug gangs and the gangs battle each other isn’t really news anymore; around 23,000 people have died since 2007, and I’ve written before about violence in Mexico’s northern border cities, as well as the possibility of it spilling over to our side. Secretary of State Clinton recently referred to this drug war as an insurgency, something the Mexican government loudly denounced.
But what do you call it when the central government loses control of a city to the drug cartels? Residents of Reynosa, Mexico, might well agree with Secretary Clinton:
“It’s hard to be sure when the Gulf cartel gained the power over the city that it has now; it didn’t happen in a single blow, reporters said. Most traced the change to three or four years ago. Before then, the cartel ran a kind of parallel government from which it strongly influenced institutions such as the police and the city government. Reynosa Mayor Oscar Luebbert Gutiérrez did not respond to written questions submitted by CPJ, but journalists say the cartel is fully embedded in the government and gets nearly whatever it wants. “
Journalists are not allowed to print stories without the cartel’s consent first. The cartel even has its own Website where it publishes stories that are okay to cover under its guidelines (They don’t print the site’s url, though.) There is a gun battle nearly every day in Reynosa, yet they largely go unreported by the media who have been threatened or killed for reporting on the violence.
“The editor said journalists also know what it means to go against the cartel. “They will abduct you; they will torture you for hours; they will kill you, and then dismember you. And your family will always be waiting for you to come home.” In a chilling illustration of the traffickers’ brutal enforcement methods, three Reynosa journalists disappeared in March and are now feared dead. Colleagues said the three could have done something to anger either the Gulf cartel or the Zetas, or have gotten caught up in the warfare by doing favors for one of the groups.”
The situation is so bad, according to journalist Melissa del Bosque, that gangs even hijacked trucks and used them to block the local Mexican Army base, effectively sealing troops inside to prevent them from intervening in a battle in Reynosa between rival cartels wielding assault rifles and grenades.
And that’s right across the bridge from the US city of McAllen, Texas.
Mexican President Profirio Diaz once famously said “Poor Mexico. So far from God and so close to the United States.” Nowadays he might phrase it “Pobre Mexico – y triste Reynosa!”
RELATED: Reynosa and McAllen feature in an excellent book I read recently, Robert Lee Maril’s “Patrolling Chaos.” Professor Maril spent the better part of two years riding with the agents of the Border Patrol station in McAllen and studying its operations. Far from being a dry academic work, it’s fascinating reading with compelling portraits of the people and the area. I plan to do a fuller review soon, but, for now, take this as a strong recommendation for anyone interested in border issues, illegal immigration, the Border Patrol itself, and Deep South Texas in general.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)