Bad blood boils between FBI, Muslim groups

Bad blood between the FBI and prominent U.S. Muslim groups is beginning to boil.

After 9/11, the FBI launched a coast-to-coast effort to reach out to Muslims in America, urging them to report anti-Muslim acts against them and vowing to investigate any that occurred. The bureau also called on Muslim Americans to apply to be agents and translators, and encouraged them to report suspicious activity.

By most accounts, the outreach was a success — until the FBI last fall reportedly cut off its cooperation with the Council on American Islamic Relations, one of the most prominent Muslim-American civil rights groups, which allegedly had been tied to the Palestinian group Hamas. (The FBI is tight-lipped about this, but several Capitol Hill lawmakers are demanding details.)

Now, many in the Muslim community are incensed at the demonization of CAIR and at the infiltration of California mosques by an FBI informant to make a case against Ahmadullah Niazi, who is suspected of having terrorist ties.

This past week, a coalition of 10 of the most prominent U.S. Muslim groups said it is on the verge of cutting off all contact with the FBI, unless the bureau vows to change its methods and approach. The FBI has not yet responded.

Booms, blasts and 24/7 missions be damned. U.S. troops deployed to combat zones should try to get 7 to 8 hours of "quality sleep" each night, Army doctors are recommending.

According to the Stars and Stripes newspaper, the proposed sleep guidelines — which would replace the current standard of at least four hours of shut-eye a night — are intended to cut back on accidents, friendly fire and ethical misconduct.

Those needing the most sleep: unit commanders, soldiers on guard duty (presumably after their shift ends) and those who perform tedious, repetitious tasks.

No jokes about watching paint dry, please. At least not when the paint runs down the middle of the highway. North Carolina researchers find that highway stripes reflect headlights much better from the direction that spray trucks drove when laying it down.

Who cares? Cash-strapped highway departments, which are about to have to meet federal standards on how bright pavement markers must be. Painting each mile of a road costs several thousand dollars. Now that experts have found that lines may pass tests looking one direction, but not the other, states may have to adjust painting schedules accordingly.

Why do some people take cover and others choose to ride out the danger when warned about the approach of severe weather? That’s what a National Weather Service research team set out to learn by reviewing the responses of those in the path of the Feb. 5 and 6, 2008 tornado outbreak in nine states. In all, 82 twisters left 57 people dead and 350 others injured.

Researchers found that the majority of survivors interviewed said they sought shelter of some kind, but most did not have access to the safest spots — a basement or storm cellar. Others said they thought the looming tornado threat was minimal because it was February, when twisters are uncommon. Several said they acted only when they actually saw a tornado. And many exhibited what’s known as "optimism bias," in which people think bad things happen only to others.

The Weather Service intends to use the findings to tweak its warning statements to better convey the "urgency and danger" at hand.

Scripps Howard News Service correspondent Lee Bowman contributed to this column. E-mail Lisa Hoffman at hoffmanl(at)