Monday, September 01, 2008


The Abu Sayyaf Group is a Muslim terrorist organization based on Basilan Island, one of the southern islands in the Philippine archipelago. Since the mid- 1990s, the group, whose origins are somewhat obscure, has carried out terrorist attacks in the Philippines, including a series of high-profile kidnappings in 2000 and 2001.

For centuries, the southern Philippines have had a substantial Muslim population. Sixteenth-century Spanish colonizers spread Christianity to the northern islands, treating the Muslims as a despised minority; the area has seen periodic violence ever since. Its people are among the poorest in the country. In the early 1970s, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) began a war of secession against the Philippine government.

Although the fortunes of the MNLF and its splinter group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), have risen and fallen over the past 30 years, violence and lawlessness have been a constant in the southern islands. Defections, desertions, and ideological disputes have resulted in many armed bands roaming the islands.

Abu Sayyaf began as one such band of former guerrillas, led by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalania, a charismatic former Islamic scholar who had fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Abu Sayyaf means “Bearer of the Sword.” The group first came to light about 1994; at that time, it was thought to be a small splinter faction of the MILF. Most observers now consider it to be an entirely independent group. Early in its existence Abu Sayyaf established connections with international Muslim terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, and members may have received training and support from these groups.

Abu Sayyaf professes a desire for an independent Muslim state for the Philippines’ Muslim population, to be governed under shari’a law. In practice, however, the group’s attacks and particularly its kidnappings seem to have been motivated more by potential profit than by ideological or military significance; the Philippine government has long considered them to be mere bandits. In the mid-1990s, Abu Sayyaf’s strength was estimated at 500 members. Ransom money received from kidnappings has since increased that number, with some commentators believing the group to have as many as 4,000 members. Its stronghold is Basilan Island, though it operates on other Muslim-populated islands as well.

Starting in the late 1990s, Abu Sayyaf increased its numbers of kidnappings in Basilan and elsewhere. At first it targeted wealthy Filipino businessmen, usually releasing the captives after ransom had been paid, but sometimes killing them regardless. In March 2000, the group gained international attention after raiding
a local school, taking 27 hostages, most of them children. On April 23, the Army launched a dangerous raid against the Abu Sayyaf compound housing the hostages. Four terrorists were killed; 15 hostages were freed—10 of them seriously wounded. Most of the terrorists escaped into the jungle, taking 5 hostages with them.

Later that day, a different faction of Abu Sayyaf struck again, this time abducting victims from a resort on the nearby island of Sipidan, which is part of Malaysia. The second group took 23 hostages, 19 of them Malaysian and Filipino hotel staff but also several foreign tourists. Some of the journalists covering the kidnappings were also abducted; the hostages eventually included French, German, Finnish, Lebanese, U.S., and South African nationals. The international spotlight was now focused on the Philippine government, which felt compelled to act. Concerned for the safety of their citizens, the French, German, and South African governments prevailed upon the Filipinos to negotiate with the second group of hostage takers rather than launch another risky raid. A Libyan diplomat offered to act as a go-between and negotiations began. After months of negotiations, a ransom of undisclosed amount was paid to Abu Sayyaf and a dozen of the hostages were released. The kidnappers refused to part with the remainder, and President Estrada launched a massive military strike against the group in September 2000. The risky move secured their release. In May 2001, another kidnapping was similarly resolved through military action.

Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, and taking into consideration Abu Sayyaf’s connections to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, in January 2002 the U.S. government acceded to the request of Philippine president Gloria Arroyo and pledged $100 million in military aid for the elimination of Abu Sayyaf. The United States sent 660 U.S. Army Special Forces troops to act as military advisors, training the Philippine Army in counterterrorism tactics. The aid package caused considerable controversy in the Philippines but seems to have the support of the public, especially as President Arroyo pledged that the Special Forces troops will remain only for a short time. The success of the operation was thrown into question, however, when some surviving members kidnapped six Jehovah’s witnesses on the island of Jolo and killed at least two of the victims.

Source: Encyclopedia of Terrorism by Harvey Kushner.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Fun Food Trivia

Here are some food and fast food trivia that I gathered from different sources.

Roy Allen, who refurbished old hotels, met a pharmacist who had perfected a recipe for making root beer. Allen bought the recipe and on June 20, 1919, opened a root beer stand in Lodi, California, offering frosty mugs of root beer for a nickel. Shortly thereafter , he opened more stands in Stockton and Sacramento. In 1920, Frank Wright, an employee at the Stockton stand, became Allen’s partner; they combined their initials and called the company A&W Root Beer.

In 1949, Forrest Raff el and his younger brother Leroy of Youngstown, Ohio, bought their uncle’s restaurant equipment business, which they renamed Raff el Brothers, Inc. They decided that roast beef sandwiches would be an ideal centerpiece for a new fast food chain. Their first choice for a name for their new restaurant was Big Tex, but that name was already taken. Instead, they spelled out the initials of Raff el Brothers (RB) to produce Arby’s.

In 1927, Edwin Perkins, head of the Perkins Products Company of Hastings, Nebraska, invented Kool-Aid.

In 1952, Matthew Burns of Long Beach, California and his stepson, Keith G. Cramer acquired the rights to George Read’s Miracle Insta-Machines, one of which made multiple milk shakes ; the other was the Insta-Broiler, which cooked twelve burgers simultaneously in wire baskets so that the patties could be cooked on both sides simultaneously. Four hundred burgers could be turned out in an hour with one machine. In 1953, Cramer opened the Insta-Burger King in Jacksonville, Florida. His burgers sold for 18 cents apiece and they were a great success. Two franchisers, James McLamore and David R. Edgerton, Jr., launched several Insta- Burger-King outlets in Miami beginning in 1954. Unlike most of the other fast-food entrepreneurs who had limited education, Edgerton and McLamore both held degrees from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. Nevertheless, they were unable to make a profit, so they began to experiment. They disposed of the Insta-Broiler and created a flame broiler, for which Burger King became famous.

In 1926, Otto Schnering, owner of the Curtiss Candy Company of Chicago, invented the Butterfinger candy bar, consisting of an orange-colored, peanut- butter-flavored filling covered with chocolate.

In 1985, Rick Rosenfi eld and Larry Flax opened the first California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) in Beverly Hills, California. Rosenfield and Flax created unusual-flavored pizza, such as BBQ chicken, that differed greatly from traditional American pizza.

Henry D. Seymour and William Heston developed and trademarked a new product, rolled oats. All consumers had to do was add hot water to the rolled oats in order to eat them. Because most Americans did not eat oats at that time, the company decided to launch a major advertising campaign. To promote sales, the company packed its rolled oats in cardboard boxes bearing the reassuring image of an elderly Quaker and promoted their new product via a national advertising campaign in 1882, making it the first cereal to be advertised nationally. The campaign was so successful that the company changed its name to the Quaker Oats Company in 1901.

During the late 1940s, the Frito Company invented Cheetos- an extruded corn snack covered with an artificially colored powdered cheddar cheese, which were marketed by H. W. Lay & Company in 1948.

The invention of the chocolate chip cookie has been attributed to Ruth Wakefield, who bought a tourist lodge named the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts in the early 1930s. Wakefield, a nutritionist by training, gained local fame for her desserts that were served at the Toll House. According to tradition, she invented the chocolate chip cookie by accident. While preparing Butter Drop Do cookies, she found herself without baker’s chocolate, a required ingredient. She substituted a Nestlé semisweet chocolate bar cut up into bits. Baker’s chocolate would have completely melted, but the small pieces of semisweet chocolate only softened.

Jean Tobler launched a company that later marketed the Toblerone chocolate bar in 1879. In 1893, Milton S. Hershey, a caramel maker from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, created the Hershey Chocolate Company. Otto Schnering of Chicago created the Baby Ruth candy bar in 1916.

Claude A. Hatcher, a pharmacist in Columbus, Georgia, launched “Chero-Cola” (later revised and renamed Royal Crown Cola or RC Cola) in 1905.

The word cookie derives from the Dutch word koeptje ( koekje ), meaning small cake.

The National Biscuit Company, introduced another wheat product in honor of Sylvester Graham, called the Graham Cracker in 1898. Sylvester Graham (1795– 1851) launched America’s first culinary revolution by stressing the importance of coarsely milled, unbolted whole-wheat flour.

Isadore J. Filler, a traveling salesman, ate tostados (hard tortillas with various toppings) in San Antonio, Texas, and thought they might have wide appeal as a snack food. In 1932, he conceived the idea of manufacturing a rectangular-shaped corn chip and applied for a trademark for Corn Chips, which he was granted.

John F. McCullough began selling ice cream in 1927. A few years later, he and his son, H. A. “Alex” McCullough, founded the Homemade Ice Cream Company in Green River, Illinois. The McCulloughs began experimenting with what would later be called soft -serve ice cream.

Harry M. Oltz, a hamburger stand proprietor in Hammond, Indiana, claimed to have invented a continuous freezer that made it possible to serve ice cream at 20 degrees F. The McCulloughs met with Oltz and gained manufacturing rights to his machine, which Alex McCullough perfected. F. J. McCullough improved the mix and acquired a manufacturer. They named their new product Dairy Queen. In June 1940 Sherb Noble, an ice cream store owner in Kankakee, Illinois, acquired a franchise for the soft -serve product and opened his first outlet in Joliet, Illinois; he named the store after his new ice cream, Dairy Queen. Noble opened additional outlets, and by the time World War II broke out in 1941 there were 10 Dairy Queen outlets.

Doughnuts were probably of German origin. Early Dutch settlers in New
Amsterdam (later renamed New York) called them olykoeks.

William Rosenberg dropped out of school at the age of 14 and engaged in various employments. In 1946, Rosenberg founded Industrial Luncheon Services in suburban Boston. The company sold coffee, sandwiches, and baked goods from trucks to workers Within three years, his company was operating 140 trucks. In 1948, he saw that doughnuts were in high demand, and he opened a small doughnut shop called the Open Kettle in Quincy, Massachusetts. Two years later, he renamed it Dunkin’ Donuts.

In 1937, Vernon Rudolph launched a doughnut shop, which became known as Krispy Kreme, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Some claim that Roy Allen, founder of A&W Root Beer, constructed the first drive-thru so in 1921. Others claim that the first drive-thru window was created in 1931 by the Pig Stand Number 21 restaurant in Los Angeles, California, which created a small window where customers ordered and received their food. In these early versions, customers would drive up to the window, get out of their cars and place their order at the window.

J. T. “Stubby” Parker of Ft. Worth, Texas, was the manager of the Pangburn Candy and Ice Cream Company. In 1930 he figured out how to package a sugar cone filled with ice cream, topped with chocolate and nuts. He named it a Drumstick because it looked like a fried chicken leg.

.A Los Angeles preacher, Baker David Jung is credited in created the fortune cookie in 1916. His fortune cookies enclosed strips of paper bearing Biblical passages. He later launched the Hong Kong Noodle Company, which produced cookies with sayings purported to be ancient Chinese aphorisms. Fortune cookies were later adopted in Chinese restaurants all over the country.

In 1899, a dentist named Franklin V. Canning introduced Dentyne Gum and Chiclets.

Bubble gum was invented in 1928 by Walter E. Diemer, an accountant for the Fleur Chewing Gum Company in Philadelphia.

In the 1930s, Reuben Mattus, an immigrant from Poland who sold fruit ices and ice cream pops from a horse-drawn cart in the Bronx, New York, began manufacturing ice cream and distributing it to grocery stores. In 1960, he formed a company of his own that targeted those interested in premium ice cream. His wife came up with the name Häagen-Dazs to conveyed visions of Denmark, which he believed had a positive image in the United States.

Charles B. Knox patented a formula for making flavored gelatin in 1890. Frank Woodward, owner of the Genesee Pure Food Company in LeRoy, New York, bought the formula. Purportedly, Woodward’s wife came up with the name Jell-O, which was first used in 1900.

Harland Sanders devised his formula for making fried chicken at his restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky. He attended a foodservice seminar in Chicago in the 1950’s, where he met Pete Harmon, who operated a hamburger restaurant in Salt Lake City. Harmon became the first franchisee for what would become Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

The word ketchup derives from the Amoy dialect of Mandarin in China, and originally meant a pickled fish or fermented sauce.

Tradition has it that the idea for M&M’s was based on Forrest Mars’s visit to Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1937). He saw soldiers eating chocolate candies covered with a layer of hard sugar.

McDonald's first mascot was Speedee, a little chef with a hamburger head. This had to be changed because Alka Seltzer had already adopted a mascot named Speedy. McDonald’s settled on Ronald McDonald and today about 96 percent of American children recognize him. Willard Scott, an actor who played Bozo in a local children’s television program called Bozo’s Circus in Washington D.C. came up with the name Ronald McDonald. Scott played Ronald McDonald in the first television commercials broadcast in October, 1963.

Advocates claim that onion rings were invented by the Pig Stand restaurant chain in the 1920s.

Royal Crown Cola was the first soft drink distributed in a can.

The first pizza franchises started in 1954 with the creation of Shakey’s Pizza chain. Sherwood Johnson and Ed Plummer opened the first Shakey’s restaurant in Sacramento, California. “Shakey” derived from Johnson’s nickname, which he received after suffering from malaria during World War II.

Frank Carney, an 18-year-old student at the University of Wichita, read an article about pizza in the Saturday Evening Post and decided to open a pizza parlor in 1958. With his brother, Dan Carney, he opened a pizza parlor in Wichita, Kansas. They named it Pizza Hut because they believed that the small brick building they rented resembled a hut. Their main product was a small, thin, pan pizza with cheese, sausage, or pepperoni. Initially, it came in two sizes: small, which sold for 95 cents, and large, which sold for $1.50.

Frank Epperson, a lemonade salesman from Oakland, California, began the commercial manufacture of Popsicles which he called Epsicles- ice pops on wooden sticks in 1923.

According to popular tradition, in the 1850s, George Crum, chef of the Moon’s Lake Lodge in Saratoga, New York, was the fi rst person to fry thin slices of potatoes and serve them to customers. They were named Saratoga Potatoes and they are now known as potato chips.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sunni and Shi’ite

After the death of the prophet Muhammad in 632 CE some of his followers believed in electing caliphs (successors), while others thought the line of succession should be through Muhammad’s relative.
The pro-election faction became known as the Sunnis and the bloodline adherents formed the Shi’ites. Today, it’s estimated that about 85 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are Sunni. Most of the rest are Shi’ites.


Robert Wood Johnson introduced the first ready to use antiseptic bandage in 1886.

Procter and Gamble

Do you know that William Procter and James Gamble went to business making soaps and candles? They created Ivory soap in 1879, Crisco, the first all-vegetable shortening in 1911 ad Dreft, the first synthetic detergents or home use in 1933.

Maneki Neko

According to Japanese legend, during the Edo Period (1603-1867), a Japanese nobleman was riding by a rundown temple outside Tokyo. While passing, he happened to notice the temple master’s cat, which seems to call out to him. Intrigued, he approached the cat, and at that exact moment, a lightning bolt struck the spot of the road he’d just left. Believing that the humble cat had save him, the nobleman endowed the cat’s temple home with land and money. Years later, when the cat died, the nobleman had created a figurine for its honor.

Today the Maneki Neko, the cat with one paw raised in a welcoming gesture, is welcoming guests in most Japanese shops, restaurants and bars. This “beckoning cat” also attracts wealth and good fortune to anyone who displays it.

Mr. Clean

Mister Clean is not a genie; he is a sailor and was introduced in 1958. He is known in most European country as Mr. Proper and in the UK he goes by the name Flash.