Muslim Jacksonville, Fla. Human Rights Commission

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported today that a Muslim university professor has been appointed to the Jacksonville, Fla., Human Rights Commission despite a prolonged smear campaign by the anti-Islam hate group ACT! for America, whose leader says Muslims should not be allowed to hold public office.

Become a Fan of CAIR on Facebook
Subscribe to CAIR’s E-Mail List

Parvez Ahmed, a professor at the University of North Florida, was appointed to the commission by a 13-6 city council vote last night after being subjected to weeks of smears based on his previous community activism and his political views. [Ahmed is a past national board chairman of CAIR.]

As the city council began discussion of the nomination, one of its members called Ahmed to the podium and asked him to “say a prayer to your God.” The same council member also asked Ahmed if the session’s opening prayer offended him. When asked why that was relevant, the council member claimed Ahmed “would be offended by a prayer to Jesus, and therefore was not suitable to serve on the commission.”

The Florida Times-Union newspaper reports that the council member’s inappropriate line of questioning “produced gasps from the audience, concern from one of the city’s top attorneys and sharp rebukes from his fellow council members.”

SEE: Ahmed Nomination Sails Rockily to Jacksonville Council Approval

During the weeks-long smear campaign against Ahmed, another city council member was asked, “Do you believe Muslims should be able to hold any public office in Florida?” He responded: “I don’t know.”

SEE: Controversial Florida Politician Unsure if Muslims Should Hold Public Office

“The Florida Muslim community applauds the Jacksonville city council for standing up to the hatred and bigotry promoted by a tiny minority of fear-mongers,” said CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Ramzy Kiliç. “This incident is further evidence of the unfortunately growing ‘Islamophobia machine’ in our nation that targets any Muslim who seeks positive civic participation.”

SEE: Georgia Church Sign Condemns Muslims (CBS)
CAIR-CAN: Anti-Islam Graffiti Found Near Canadian Mosque

He said the leader of ACT! for America, the hate group that campaigned against Ahmed’s nomination, claims an American Muslim “cannot be a loyal citizen” and that Islam is the “real enemy.” Brigitte Gabriel once told the Australian Jewish News: “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.”

When asked whether Americans should “resist Muslims who want to seek political office in this nation,” Gabriel said: “Absolutely. If a Muslim who has — who is — a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”

SEE: A Case Study in Sincere Hypocrisy: Brigitte Gabriel

Gabriel also stated: “America and the West are doomed to failure in this war unless they stand up and identify the real enemy: Islam.”

SEE: Islam’s March Against the West

One of ACT! for America’s Florida representatives recently bragged in a YouTube video that he desecrated the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, and urinates in the washing stations Muslims use to perform their ritual ablutions (wudu) for prayer.

A complaint has been filed with the FBI alleging harassment of Florida Muslims by ACT! for America.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

EPA Issues New Guidelines For “Spot On” Flea/Tick Preventatives

There is likely no doubt in any pet-lovers mind that cutting edge products formulated to prevent flea and tick infestations have been making a big quality of life difference both for them and their pets.

Unfortunately, for some pets, it’s a deadly difference. While most pets tolerate the products that are marketed under names like Sentinel®, Frontline, Advantix etc., a few of our precious pets can be seriously allergic to the poisons these flea-repelling potions put into their skin.

Most of the allergic reactions are not fatal and they are fairly rare. They can include skin irritation and, in rare instances, neurological issues. The reactions of pets that ingest those poisons by licking the preventative off the neck of their household companion pets can be devastating, and, in the worst case scenario, deadly.

After all, as the EPA points out, the ingredients in these preventatives are designed to kill fleas and ticks. If ingested, it stands to reason that these poisons will also kill pets. At the moment, the EPA’s plan is to demand stricter warning labels on these products to advise pet owners of the potential dangers inherent in their use, especially in multiple-pet households.

Simple ideas like isolating a pet away from other animals when you’ve applied Sentinel® or another flea/tick preventative can save an animal’s life.

If used properly, with the rare exception of animals that have serious allergic reactions to the formula, these serums safely provide pet owners with a great way to keep fleas and ticks at bay, and to enjoy a healthier home environment with their pets.

Just taking the time to utilize a little common sense during the application process can make these products more effective and a whole lot safer for your four-legged family.

Groucho`s Comedy Club longest Run Comedy Showcase on the Treasure Coast

Attention ” Residents of the Treasure Coast, as a result of Groucho`s Comedy Club opening at its newest location at Club Med, Sandpiper, 4500 S.E. Pine Valley Street, Pt. St. Lucie the entire Treasure Coast is now under a laugh advisory. If you find yourself at Groucho`s Comedy Club without proper cover, hold onto your funny bone and hunker down, one of Groucho`s fabulously fun staff will be with you shortly.

Groucho`s Comedy Club has featured such guests as Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Linslow, and Carrot Top just to name a few. We always try to get top notch performers. I want to make sure that when you leave Groucho`s, you leave with a smile on your face, ” said Larry Silver, owner.

Groucho`s offers a warm and friendly atmosphere that will leave you feeling like you`re a part of the golden age of comedy. The walls are covered with the Kings of classic comedy such as Groucho Marx, Abbott and Castillo, Laurel and Hardy, and little I love Lucy sprinkled in for good measure. Its candle lit atmosphere and quaint surroundings make it the perfect place for an evening filled with smiles.

Silver said he has lived in Stuart for the past 28 years. When I first came to the Treasure Coast I got my big brake in show business and landed a gig starting up a hotdog stand. You might ask yourself what a hotdog stand has to do with show business. What happened was that I overheard someone mention that the Barn Theatre in Stuart was holding auditions. So after trying out, it quickly became my newest hobby. I began doing professional theatre, commercials, open mic nights as well as numerous talent shows. ”

After several shows, Silver began to gain his confidence and decided to try his hand at directing and producing his own show. That was the spark that led to Groucho`s Comedy Club becoming a reality.

Groucho`s Comedy Club is currently the longest run comedy showcase on the Treasure Coast. Groucho`s has featured comics such as Steven Juliano Moore, Nick Arandes, as well as Jim Wiggins from The Last Comic Standing.

For more information, call 772-419-0302 or check them out on the web at

Read Dream Reachers Featuring Judyth Piazza


Urgent Action Needed Now: Florida House to Vote on Abortion Ban

As we write to you the Florida House of Representatives is preparing to vote on an amendment to ban private insurance plans from covering abortion. This amendment goes farther than any other law in the nation by banning ALL insurance plans sold in the state from providing insurance coverage for abortions, whether a plan is offered through an exchange established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or a plan that an individual or employer already holds. This amendment does not even offer the option of a rider or separate premium to purchase abortion coverage.

This means that the state of Florida is willing to do what the federal government promised not to do, taking away health care coverage that citizens in this state currently have now.
Call Representative Deborah Mayfield at (850) 488-0952 and urge them to oppose the abortion ban amendment to HB 885. Tell the person that answers the phone:
I urge Rep. Mayfield to oppose the abortion ban amendment to HB 885, filed by Reps. Gaetz, Dorworth and Plakon.

As filed, this amendment denies women the ability to obtain insurance coverage, even with their own private dollars, that includes abortion coverage.
The government should not dictate personal, private medical decisions, nor interfere with the private insurance market.

The legislature has the opportunity to prevent unintended pregnancies in Florida by supporting the Prevention First Act and Healthy Teens Act.
The Florida legislature has a history of interfering with the personal decisions of a woman and her doctor, while doing nothing to reduce the need for abortion by preventing unintended pregnancies.

Now more than ever we need to make a stand. We are asking all of our activists to phone their State Representative and ask them to vote against this dangerous amendment. Help us act before it is too late!

Thank you for your action,

Stephanie Kunkel

The SOP Radio Network is unique, entertaining, informative, and it`s FREE! Check it out!

By Robert Paul Reyes

I received a transistor radio for my 9th birthday; I would fall asleep listening to THE Top 40 tunes of the day.

I still listen to music all the time, but today my stereo equipment is more technologically advanced, and I have a zillion options to choose from.

There`s terrestrial radio, satellite radio, an iPod with hundreds of downloaded songs as well as Internet radio.

The SOP Radio Network is the cream of the crop of Internet radio; it features an all-star line-up of radio personalities. The SOP Radio Network aslo streams 24/7 from several websites such as,, and many more.

First and foremost there`s Judyth Piazza the founder of The SOP and The SOP Radio Network. Among the first crop of Podcasters, Judyth transformed the format that defined the possibilities and potential the Internet presents. Listeners around the world enjoy The SOP Radio Network by cell phone, iPod and, to the delight of her fans, also by way of traditional radio.


The American Perspective is a cutting edge radio program that is full of inspiration and information which airs on several radio stations. It`s intended to help people succeed in life. Each week the American Perspective features celebrity guests from around the nation such as Zig Ziglar, Maya Angelou, Yolanda King, Billy D. Williams, Tony Little, Mark Victor Hansen, Dean Koontz, Dave Ramsey and many many more.

The American Perspective is sponsored by Sedgwick & Cedar 73, which is the nation’s premiere hip-hop clothing line.

Judyth is the “Italian American” Oprah Winfrey of radio, but she never balloons to over 300 pounds, and she always looks great and sounds fantastic.


“The SOP`s Battle of the Bands features music from well known bands as well as independent artist. It is a helpful tool for bands and/or musicians when they need to market their music. The SOP Battle of the Bands page is just one category to browse on web page. You can hear one song (usually) of the featured musician and read some press kit info about the artist(s) to aid you in sizing up their project.”


Kenny R`s is the Avatar of Kenrick Rampersad, Connecticut School of Broadcasting Grad and current on air personality at WOKC 100.9 FM & 1570 AM, Okeechobee, Florida. Kenny is a musical scholar and a gentleman, and his SOP programs usually revolve around a theme: Music from Chicago, Powerful women in rock


Up-and-coming in the online radio and news world, John Danz, Jr. promises to both entertain AND inform all with this one easy-to-digest program. Danz gives his own take by recapping all of the best weird stories, and guarantees raucous laughter… or at least a chuckle here and there. Tune into this program for your daily laugh.


Djelloul (Del) Marbrook was the editor of six daily newspapers and held editorial posts on several major metropolitan dailies. He is the winner of the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize of Kent State University whose press published his book, Far From Algiers. Look for his regular podcast, Hot Copy, on this site. If you are serious about journalism, you must listen to this radio program.


Scott Bufis graduated from Flagler College along with his co-hosts Dylan Pembleton and V. Amadeus Hill. Plasticity brings and broadcasts music that transcends genres and breaks the formulaic mold that commercial radio shows that fall into straight from the warm, fuzzy format of the vinyl records. This episode presents hand-picked gems from the decade of synthesizers, strobe lights and pleather pants.

I remember my little transistor radio with nostalgia, but it didn`t kick a** quite like The SOP Radio Network!

The SOP Radio Network is unique, entertaining, informative, and it`s FREE! Check it out!

Other Programs on The SOP Radio Network:

Will Says with Will Roberts

Rise and Walk with Michael Teague

Fitness Made Simple Tip of the Day with John Basedow

Creating Powerful Exuberance with Deremiah CPE

3 AM Show With Scott Bufis, Dylan Pembleton and V. Amadeus Hill

For more information or to submit programming to The SOP Radio Network, please contact Judyth Piazza at

Follow Robert Paul Reyes on Twitter:

Sneak Away to Sebastian: South Florida’s Best-Kept Secret

Sebastian Florida is gradually being discovered by vacationers as one of South Florida’s best-kept secrets. It is located just 12 miles north of Vero Beach and 18 miles South of Melbourne. 

Sebastian and its laid-back lifestyle is located amidst unspoiled subtropical vegetation and miles of rivers and beaches. Sebastian is becoming the Atlantic’s newest vacationer’s playground as a result of all of its water-oriented activities, fine foods, and fun for the whole family.


One of Sebastian most well known resorts is the Oyster Pointe & Bay Resort, 150 U.S. 1, Sebastian, FL. While there, you will find that this is an exquisite vacation escape from the ordinary with an absence of crowded lobbies and check in delays.

They provide fully furnished apartments with a complete kitchen, dishes, linens and two bedrooms. Some of their amenities include cable TV, telephone and a private terrace. “We are a very family oriented place,” said Kathy Justus, assistant manager. Other amenities include a playground, lighted tennis courts, heated swimming pools, and relaxing Jacuzzis.

The seafood is abundant here with oysters, clams, and fishing for the aspiring angler. “During your stay with us you can be the captain of your own boat whereas we provide each guest with a 15 foot runabout motor boat to make their sport fishing enjoyable and easier” said Justus.

Area Attractions

A short distance from the resort is the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society and Museum.  While there you will experience the essence of the Age of Discovery from the late fifteenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries covering early European explorers’ exploits, their commerce, and the havoc they wreaked by both accident and design on the native inhabitants of the Americas all have their echoes in the artifacts in their collection.

Kids can explore the museum’s four ships, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita, both of which sank in a hurricane in 1622; The St. John’s Wreck , a vessel of exploration that carried conquistadors to the Caribbean in roughly 1560; and the Henrietta Marie, an English merchant slaver that sank off the Florida Keys in 1700.

After leaving the museum, you can make tracks in the sand across the street to the Bahamian Sandbar, and experience Capt. Hiram’s “Islandsphere.”

You can enjoy the river breezes and coconut palms while sipping on your favorite frozen drink or snack off their fabulous Sandbar menu, and you will be instantly transported to a tropical paradise.

The Sandbar at Capt. Hiram’s Resort features two full service bars, the beautiful Sandbar, which is undercover, and the all-new Coral Bar, both of which overlook the Indian River. The Grand Sand Bandstand accommodates the Sandbar’s extensive live entertainment line-up. You will be able to enjoy live entertainment daily. “Pete Harris, a Florida favorite appears regularly and is soon to be releasing his fourth CD,” said Jan Taylor, Director of Entertainment.

While dining at Capt. Hirams, make sure you try their Maryland style crab cakes, said Kym Cool, 36 a regular at Capt. Hirams.

For the nature lover, at Absolute Watersports & Kayak in Sebastian offers scenic tours of the Indian River Lagoon and Sebastian River Buffer Preserve, which are ripe with countless species of marine and land based wildlife. While there, you can experience intimate viewing of manatee, dolphin, armadillo, golden eagle, osprey, blue heron and many more.

A great way to end your vacation is with an adrenaline rush adventure. It includes a 13,500 foot Skydive with magnificent views of the Inter-Coastal Waterway & surrounding beaches while you experience the thrill and freedom of free fall skydiving safely harnessed to your instructor.

The sports minded angler will find Sebastian everything they have ever dreamed about and a little more.

Sebastian Women’s Group Aglow with Potential

“Through a commitment to prayer, Aglow women are building that spiritual house, a global house of prayer for all nations to see God’s blessing on the peoples of the earth and their destinies fulfilled.”
                                                                        Nancy McDaniel, Aglow International

Sebastian, FL – Aglow International embellished the Treasure Coast with a new sector known as the Sebastian Community Aglow.  These women bond their hearts together in prayer and then respond to God’s unique call as an apostolic body of influence for virtue in the world.

“We got off to a rough start because of the hurricanes, but we are back on track ready to share God’s love,” said Kathy Gehrke, Sebastian, Florida. 
The Sebastian Community Aglow has about 50 members and is continuing to grow. “This is a way in which women can bond with other women whom all believe in the gospel, said Gehrke.  “It is one of the largest international Christian women’s organizations in the world with over 1,400 groups called lighthouses in the U.S. and more than 2,100 groups outside the U.S.”

The interdenominational organization of Christian women is proud of the fact that they introduce others to Jesus Christ, through the sharing of teachings of the Bible. “I am proud to be a member of a unique group such as this one, Sebastian is a great place and the group is the icing on the cake,” said Verla Glen, Sebastian.

In 1967, four Christian women with a similar vision converged together without any restrictions or denominational boundaries. According to, one of the first local fellowships began in Edmonds, a small town just north of Seattle, where women began to invite their friends and neighbors to regular meetings at a local restaurant. Quickly, word spread about a lively series of groups for women, and fellowships began springing up around Washington. Other states followed as well as other countries. By 1972, more than 60 local fellowships were holding monthly meetings around the U.S. By 1973, fellowships began in Canada and New Zealand. The Netherlands followed in 1974, making Aglow an international “network of caring women.”

Cindy Faldo-Di Corrado, owner of The Victorian Lady in Sebastian hosted the group’s last gathering featuring guest speaker Joanne Derstines, author, editor and musician from Bradenton, Florida.

“What a beautiful day, the sun is out and there is a cool breeze in the air, and we have all these wonderful ladies here with us to help keep our spirits high, said Glen.

As of 1998, more than 27 nations around the world held conferences drawing crowds well over 20,000. Currently, Aglow can be found in more than 151 nations reaching out to women of every creed, color, and culture, and through them to families worldwide.

The Sebastian Community Aglow meeting is held on the 3rd Saturday of each month at 9:30 a.m. at the Sebastian Library.

Note for student writers:  Let this piece serve as an example of what community newspapers look for as to style and source attribution in a community feature.

A Faceless Enemy Using Weapons of Mass Consumption

As America moves forward into the 21st century, there are wars raging all across the globe.

Now more than ever, this country is in danger of being attacked by a faceless enemy using WMCs – or weapons of mass consumption. The foe being fought here is morbid obesity.

And leading the fight is James Kepler,  of Winter Beach, Florida. He is the pastor at First Baptist Church of Winter Beach as well as a hairstylist at The Hair Headquarters in Sebastian.

“I have been large all my life. I`ve never been small or even a normal size. I knew if I did not do something soon I would die at an early age,” said Kepler.

He was starting to feel fatigued and depressed on a regular basis because his weight had reached 439 pounds. He said just getting out of bed everyday was becoming a big ordeal. As a result, he started experiencing high blood pressure, heart conditions and shortness of breath, as well as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep and is common in the majority of people who suffer from morbid obesity.

Kepler said he realized it was time for him to take drastic measures to gain control of his weight when he overheard a visitor at his church say, “I can`t come to a church where the pastor looks so out of control with his eating”.

Every year, more and more Americans are waging a battle against obesity. According to, the total number of overweight adults is approximately 58 million Americans, or about one-third of the United States population and rising.

There is a variety of options available to help try to control this disease, such as fad diets, weight loss clinics and numerous surgical procedures, one of which is gastric bypass surgery. This procedure is the process of surgically removing a large portion of the stomach thus reducing it to the size of an egg. It promotes weight loss by restricting food intake and, in some operations, interrupting the digestive process enabling a person to consume less food.

Dr. .Michael Butler of Tampa, Florida says Gastric bypass surgery is the only option for people who have morbid obesity and cannot lose weight by traditional means or who suffer from serious obesity-related health problems.

A member of Kepler`s church had undergone the procedure in August 2001. He said he was inspired by the results and how it changed her life. After doing extensive research online at, he began reading success stories and viewing before and after pictures. Kepler and his wife, Debbie, decided that he should consider the surgery. He said he could remember tears streaming down his face at the thought of the surgery working as well for him too.

Kepler was able to have the surgery thanks to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation of Indian River County, Florida. This program is designed to help people to return to the workforce by giving them financial assistance and counseling. After receiving counseling, he met with Dr. Michael Butler in Altamonte Springs in October 2001. Once approved for the surgery he then began working with a team of doctors who performed a series of required pre-operative tests. Kepler eventually had the surgery on Feb. 13, 2002.

The procedure lasted about three hours and following the surgery Kepler was back to work in three weeks.

“The actual weight loss, however, has been a gradual process, and now after losing 235 pounds I feel better than I did when I was 30. Now I can bowl, fish, and take long walks with my wife. I am going to start bike riding soon, and that is something I could never do before. Patients have to maintain a diet of high protein and low carbs,” said Kepler.

“I was fortunate that my wife was able to alter my clothes in stages. Although I kept one pair of pants and one shirt, when I look at them now I cannot believe how humongous they are,” said Kepler.

Debbie laughed, saying, “He is only half the man I married.”

“As a pastor, I am very familiar with the sin of gluttony so when people are big, others automatically assume that you eat like a horse, but that is not always the case. I felt as if someone was always looking at me, it got to the point where I could not go to dinner and sit down without others gawking at me in my size 68 pants”, said Kepler.

Now that Kepler has lost the weight it has became a new world for him and his family.

“The things that I like most is visiting with other people and ministering to them. Even though I was treated cruelly sometimes, I knew all along that God had a plan for me,” said Kepler.

Kepler regularly contributes his time at a weight-loss support group counseling other gastric bypass surgery patients, as well as other people fighting the battle of obesity.

“It has been very helpful to me and my family, he said. It`s nice getting together with a group of people supporting each other for the same reason.”

The support group meets at 7 p.m. the first Monday of every month at First Baptist Church of Winter Beach, Florida 6605 N. U.S. 1.

Florida Engineering Firm Snapped up by Mass Company

MSCW, a planning and engineering firm based in Orlando, Florida has been acquired by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. a planning, design and engineering firm based in Watertown, Massachusetts. Both companies have been around for a long time – more than 25 years. The Florida operation will change it’s name to VHB MillerSellen.

According to VHB Southeast Regional Manager, Michael J. Carragher, the acquisition was prompted by growth opportunities and the improving economic climate in Florida.

The companies began a working relationship in 2008 and were already working together on major projects in Florida cities and counties, including a high-speed rail station and corridor, urban and redevelopment planning.

VHB has a long-term growth strategy in their main markets. They seek out companies with strong leadership, project innovation and similar values. In Florida, the company they found was MSCW.

Both firms have portfolios that include many significant projects and distinguished clients.

VHB, ranks among the nation’s top design and transportation engineering firms.

Their projects include:

  • Florida’s High Speed rail program – Lakeland station
  • I-95 Express in south Florida
  • Master planning for University of South Florida
  • APM Terminals Interchange Design-Build in Virginia
  • Patriot Place in Foxboro, Massachusetts
  • Harvard University
  • Philadelphia International Airport EIS
  • MSCW’s planning for the City of Jacksonville and sustainable community leadership throughout Florida won several awards. The company has a solid reputation for sustainability, vision and its innovative, elegant residential communities and complex roadway designs. MSCW is synonymous with sustainability and visionary projects throughout Florida.