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*drum roll please*... The Atlantic published an article on the 10 Most Fraud-Ridden States. My home-state, Florida, came in second. Interesting facts such as:

  • Of the 27 categories, fraud related to identity theft, debt collection, Internet services, and lotteries were the most prevalent.
  • Consumers reported losing more than $1.7 billion in those complaints. The average amount lost was $594.
  • 'Eighty-six percent of the consumers who reported a fraud-related complaint also reported an amount paid,' according to the report. In other words, the other 14% of Americans victimized were not sure what it cost them.
When I hear these types of questions, I'm not sure if I want to laugh hysterically or be shocked that some Americans actually believe this is an issue.

On Sunday night, CNN aired Soledad O'Brien's documentary Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door. It followed the story of a community in Murfreesboro, Tennessee that was trying to build a mosque, but met with much hate (and a lawsuit) against their plan by locals. One fear that was expressed was that allowing Muslims to build mosques will eventually lead to the rise of Sharia Law taking over the country (ie, 'creeping'). (How one leads to the other, I'm not exactly sure.)

Professor Noah Feldman, legal scholar at Harvard Law School, was briefly interviewed regarding this issue. He stated that America has nothing to fear because the US Constitution is designed to prevent such a takeover. While that statement is correct, what is missing from the dialogue is the following: that Sharia Law has no desire to take over America. US Muslims are happy under the laws of the United States (minus some of that discrimination, but we're working on that, right?). There is no movement or conspiracy to bring Sharia Law over the law of the United States. Period.

Further, I would urge everyone to learn what Sharia Law is. It is in fact a very rich and deep legal system with various opinions on a wide variety of issues. It is not a ...

WSJ: On Law and the Hajj

I was going through my feed and found this interesting blog post on the Wall Street Journal about law and Hajj. As a Muslim, it, of course, made my spidey senses tingle. For those who may not know, Hajj is an annual pilgrimage required of every Muslim once in his/her life, if the individual is able to (barring health, financial and other concerns).

So in short, a teacher, after being employed for nine months, requested three weeks off to go on Hajj. For those who may not know, Hajj is done during a designated time (ie, you can't go whenever you'd like). The school denied the teacher her request, she resigned and went anyway, and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Justice Department subsequently filed a lawsuit against the school on her behalf.

Now we don't know all the details. Did the school grant leave for other teachers and not her? Did they try to accommodate her? Did she try to work with the school? Those facts would undoubtedly affect the outcome of the case (and validity of the claim).

If it were me in her shoes, however, I don't think I would have done that (assuming the facts only presented to us). I think the legal claim is not a strong one because the school's policy, a reasonable one, incidentally affects her rights and is (I assume) applied equally to everyone. Further, Islamic law does not require that everyone drop what they ...

Florida, a De-Facto Sharia State?

This morning I woke up to news about a Tampa, Florida judge ordering that Sharia law be used to arbitrate a dispute between a Mosque and ex-trustees of the Mosque who believe they were wrongfully ousted in 2002. As many of you know, there has been a great deal of animosity towards the American-Muslim population, to the point of nearly 20 states proposing 'anti-sharia' laws, one of which makes it a felony to wash your feet per Islamic ablution. (Not to mention the King hearings).

So now, Judge Richard Nielsen in Florida has ruled that these two parties shall use Islamic Law for their arbitration. 'Say what?! On what grounds?!' Does Richard Nielsen have some sort of secret Islamic agenda? Not likely. The fact of the matter is, it was contractually agreed to by the parties upon drafting and execution of their contract. All Judge Nielsen is doing is enforcing the terms of the contract. Arbitration clauses in contracts are common and may consist of whatever the parties agree to. To deny enforcement of the clause would deny the other parties' benefit of the bargain. Unless there are grounds for striking the clause, such as fraud, duress, illegality or other grounds used by courts, a judge can not just come in and arbitrarily to decide what clauses are proper or not. I really have a problem with the opening line of the article by the St. Petersburg Times that I cited above:

The question of what
No matter how you spin it or view it, there is no doubt that part of reason why we are in this economic mess is the deregulation of banks in the United States. Enter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created by Congress in July 2010 and set to go into effect July 21, 2011. For the first time, the federal government has created an agency to regulate the financial markets. Currently, only state attorney generals play this role. The ultimate goal of the CFPB is to 'make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans—whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products.' (See here).

Early this month, the CFPB launched its website, ConsumerFinance.govElizabeth Warren, who headed up the creation of the CFPB, believes that CFPB could have prevented foreclosure fraud, particularly the bank taking advantage of homeowners who actually have good payment history. Let's hope that we see some change (pun intended) and hope that consumers become more educated as well.