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More than a year ago, Sofia was abducted from her home in Lighthouse Point, Florida, by her Syrian National uncle Feras Bankosly, MD, who is practicing medicine in the Chicago, IL, area. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Last March, a Florida judge issued an order to pick Sofia up from the uncle's house in Chicago and return her to her home in Florida. This weekend my two year-old abducted daughter Sofia remains in the middle of the bloodiest Easter in Syria's history! Demos against the Syrian regime and Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Banias, Latakia, Douma, and Daraa already left more than 150 dead between Good Friday and the funerals on Saturday, before Easter! Furthermore, it's widely anticipated that due to increasing violence in the country, the U.S. mission in Damascus will be closed before June, 2011. Turkey will also close its border with Syria by June, 2... (more)

Open Letter to the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad

Thursday, July 29, 2010 Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey   To the President of Syria, Mr. and Mrs. Bashar al-Assad Mr. and Mrs. President Bashar al-Assad: At the tender age of 17 months my severely ill daughter Sofia, an American citizen, was abducted by her mother on Monday, July 26, in Istanbul, Turkey, and taken to Syria. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story I was informed yesterday by Sofia's mother that she will not be coming back to the United States nor will she allow Sofia to return home. Sofia has been diagnosed with a severe medical condition that requires immediate treatment in the United States. It was scheduled to start on July 27, 2010, in New Jersey, the day after her abduction and was supposed to last until she reaches the age of 3. Any delay in the urgently needed treatment will result in a life-long disability for Sofia and make her dependent for the whole of her a... (more)

Open Letter from Sofia to First Lady of Syria Asma al-Assad

Thursday, March 3, 2011 Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey To the President of Syria, Mr. and Mrs. Bashar al-Assad Mrs. President and First Lady of Syria Asma al-Assad: I wrote an open letter addressing you and Mr. President seven months ago. I've been informed that you read my letter. I've also been informed that you will read this follow-up letter as well. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Seven months ago, at the tender age of 17 months, my severely ill daughter Sofia, an American citizen, was abducted by her mother on Monday, July 26, in Istanbul, Turkey, and taken to Syria. Following her abduction, I was informed by Sofia's mother that she will not allow Sofia to return home. Twitter updates on Sofia @FuatKircaali Sofia has been diagnosed with a severe medical condition that requires immediate treatment in the United States. It was scheduled to start on July 27, 2010, in New J... (more)

Uncle Who Kidnapped Sofia to Syria Still a Practicing MD in Chicago

More than a year ago, Sofia was abducted from her home in Lighthouse Point, Florida, by her Syrian National uncle, who is practicing medicine in the Chicago area. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Last March, a Florida judge issued an order to pick Sofia up from the uncle's house in Chicago and return her to her home to Florida. Due to a jurisdiction question in court - since Sofia had never lived more than 6 months in one state at the time of her abduction - the judge later gave temporary custody to her mom until the court could determine final jurisdiction between Florida, New Jersey, and Illinois. Sofia at Chicago's O'Hare Airport on her way home after her initial kidnapping from her home in Lighthouse Point, FL, by her uncle who is a practicing MD in the Chicago area. In July 2010, based on this uncle's instructions, Sofia was abducted by her mom to Syria where she ha... (more)

My Two-Year-Old Daughter Sofia Facing Life-Long Disability in Syria

The day after my last tweet regarding the lack of any new information about my abducted daughter Sofia since March 4, I received an updated letter on Thursday, April 7, 2011, from the State Department on Sofia's welfare in Syria. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Sofia was abducted by her mother from the United States to Syria last July, following her diagnosis of GDD with possible autism. She had 13 remaining medical appointments left at the time of her abduction, none of which she was able to keep. Last week's welfare report prepared by our Embassy in Damascus, Syria, after their second welfare visit to the home in Syria where Sofia remains with her mother and grandmother, showed a bleaker outcome for my daughter than the previous report dated November 2010. At two years and two months of age, Sofia still doesn't speak a single word, make or follow simple hand gestures... (more)

Parents Mean Well But Could Do More Harm

Dear Dr. Fournier: School has started and after only a couple of weeks, my son is having trouble with homework. I do not want my wife and I to get into last year’s shouting matches with him. It seems like every time I try and help him, he gets angry and defensive. What can we do to get our son to let us help him with his homework? James C. Austin, TX Dear James: Many parents have heard their children in frustration say this about homework, “I don’t know how to do it!” The natural inclination of parents is to respond this way: “Then let me help you do it.” Unfortunately, this leads many parents to cross the line of parenting into teaching. Instead of feeling helped, many children feel alone, intimidated and, finally, humiliated. James’ went on to write that his son Jeff had just started learning fractions. Jeff’s teacher assigned 20 problems for homework. Jeff t... (more)

New Linux-Based PCs Encourage Seniors To Learn The Internet

A new computer called SimplicITy has been aimed at people over the age of 60 who have never before used PCs or the Internet, BBC News reported. The simplified desktop has just six buttons directing users to basic tasks such as e-mail and chat and each machine is pre-loaded with 17 video tutorials from television presenter Valerie Singleton. The SimplicITy computer has no login screen when started up, and contains no drop-down menus. The made-to-order computer can be ordered by mail and takes two weeks from request to delivery.Singleton set up the project in partnership with Wessex Computers and Discount-age, her website aimed at older people. A recent survey by the Office for National Statistics in August 2009 revealed that 6.4 million people over 65 have never used the Internet.Singleton said the number of older people who do not have computers shocked her. "I think pe... (more)

A Bedtime Story for Sofia Who Remains Abducted in Syria

Diane Macedo of Fox News worked on Sofia's story for more than a month, studying documents, interviewing more than a dozen people, and fact-checking before publishing her news story on Monday and airing our interview. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story On Monday, she also published a detailed article on Sofia that was picked up by a dozen or so media outlets around the world during the week. ▸ Fox News Story on Sofia's Abduction to Syria When Sofia returns safely home, she will pay her first visit to Diane at the Fox News headquarters in New York City. ▸ US Leaves Its Youngest Citizen Behind Syria The following is a short weekend "bedtime story" for my daughter while she still remains abducted in Syria. Twitter updates on Sofia @FuatKircaali One day, during his travels, Daddy found a "little green Swiss frog" on his bed as he arrived in his hotel room. Daddy took the little g... (more)

State Department Photos of My Abducted Daughter Sofia in Syria

Wednesday morning I received new photographs of Sofia from the State Department in Washington, DC. Sofia remains in Syria since being abducted in July 2010. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story The day after my last tweet regarding the lack of any new information about my abducted daughter Sofia since March 4, I received an updated letter on Thursday, April 7, 2011, from the State Department on Sofia's welfare in Syria. Sofia was abducted by her mother from the United States to Syria last July, following her diagnosis of GDD with possible autism. She had 13 remaining medical appointments left at the time of her abduction, none of which she was able to keep. Last week's welfare report prepared by our Embassy in Damascus, Syria, after their second welfare visit to the home in Syria where Sofia remains with her mother and grandmother, showed a bleaker outcome for my daughter t... (more)

Old Style Discipline and Authority Won’t Work In Today’s World

Today’s column begins with two letters I received from parents concerned with new disciplinary rules that have been enacted for the new school year that has already started in some parts of the country. Dear Dr. Fournier: My son is back in school but at registration, I was handed a copy of the new discipline policy.  On the first day of school, he and his classmates got an explanation of the policy and it has scared him to death. He cries, doesn’t want to go to school, and says he can’t do his work because he is afraid. He’s 9 years old and in the 4th grade. He has always been a happy child who loves to play and ask questions. I’m really worried. What should I do? Debbie M. Lexington, Ky. School has started back and my son’s school has started a card system to try and better manage the behavioral problems the school had last year with kids. If a child misbehav... (more)

Older Student Finds College A Challenge

Dear Dr. Fournier: Your columns ring very close to home. I have worked very hard since I graduated from college. I have a wife and two children and what I thought was a great job. Each day, I thought I was getting closer to the top of the corporate ladder. I have been willing to do everything necessary in order to get there. Recently, I began to realize that kids straight out of college were suddenly my peers. They were at my level without having to do all the extra work and overtime hours I did to get where I am. As if that were not enough, I was told it was in my best interest to go back to college for an advanced degree. It's been the worst experience. I'm not doing well even though I read everything, take good notes and reread. I'm not making good grades and I don't feel I'm getting anywhere. I feel desperate. Do you have any advice? Dan T. Phoenix, AZ Dear D... (more)