31 March 2006

"March 14 was a stupidity waiting to come to light"

The not-so-petite squabbles going on among the not-so-young-boys presiding over our not-so-lucky-country have raised questions about the future and decline of the March 14 movement. The boldest statement that I have read so far was made by freedom:

March 14 was a stupidity waiting to come to light, much like the continuous stupidities that the Lebanese state and its so-called guardians have been engaged in ever since its founding.

March 14 was never about bettering the conditions of the working class; it was about defending the "honour" of a clan leader and brutal capitalist, the assassination of whom led his clan to arouse the masses in a racist manner against his alleged murderers. March 14 was, more than anything else, a tribal reaction, with rival clans joining the leading clan a la "if you can't beat them, join them".

Bold, deeming it quotable.

30 March 2006

يا دي الكســوف - Total Eclipse of the Heart!!!

The people - Lebanese - that I meet these days (more in the "light" of today's news) can be categorized into two groups:

  • Those who are grateful to God (Allah) that they have a second nationality.
  • Those who are seeking the grace of God (In-Sh-A-llah) to get a second nationality.
Where do you stand?

29 March 2006

يا دي الكســوف - What a Shame!

لا يعـرف العـار من لا يعـرف الشــرف.

It’s a shame.

The round-table-of-quarrels was not enough for them to vent their domestic anger, P.M. Seniora and Pres. Lahoud had to take their petite squabble to Sudan. They had to shout at each other for the entire world to see. Each had to prove he was the boss. What a shame.

It’s about time they sought counseling.

28 March 2006

Only Sissies Love Tree-huggers?!

I like this man, President Lula of Brazil.

I don’t know much about him. But every time I hear him, he is profound.

The fact that he won in-spite of the long arm of the Macho Cowboy sheriff is in itself certificate of credibility.

At the time when campaigns and efforts for environmental conservation is growing around the world to curb the unsustainable consumption of non-renewable resources, especially by the “industrialized nations”, green thumb Macho Cowboy have decided, with his allies of course, to cut down on financial resources needed to support these efforts! Only sissies love tree-huggers?!

The rich countries want more and the poorest nations should provide. Let me repeat this: natural resources are non-renewable they need to be conserved. Laying the load of conservation on the "poor" countries instead of those countries who are actually consuming these resources is just another form of agression. As if poverty, famine and wars are not enough to make the lives of the poor countries “exciting”!

And it takes a President like Lula to tell them what needs to be said.

26 March 2006

"Wrong war, wrong time, wrong way, wrong place."

While the Strong Macho Confident Cowboy enlightens us with the rejuvenating facts of how democracy is spreading in the Middle East, substituting falafel with juicy roasted chicken thighs, and how the war in Iraq is being won, with hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians dead and wounded, his “masters”, the neo-cons are losing it! Failures in Iraq are compelling them to start abandoning the sinking ship. The next thing we can expect now will be rounds of “scapegoating” and “couter-scapegoating”. But can the wrong already being done in Iraq ever be righted? Can the wounded be healed? Can the dead return?

Richard Perle: the administration "got the war right and the aftermath wrong."

Fukuyama: "Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for Jihadists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at."

Michael Ledeen: "Wrong war, wrong time, wrong way, wrong place."

Pat Buchanan: “That Bush is in trouble is undeniable. But his people are not Bush's problem. His policies are. It is these policies, not his advisers that have given us huge deficits and a no-win war that is bleeding our country.”

more at Anti-war.com

25 March 2006

A Snapshot of (In) Justice [Israeli Style]

Remember this – one of hundreds – incident, when Captain R shot 10 bullets into 13 yr old Iman al-Hams in Rafah last year? Remember the Doctors said she had been shot at least 17 times? This was the transcript of the shooting.

‘It’s a little girl. She’s running defensively eastward’
Operations room
‘Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?’
‘A girl of about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death’
Captain R (after killing the girl)
‘Anything moving in the zone, even a three-year-old, needs to be killed’

Well, Captain R, who has since then being promoted to a Major, will be rewarded or compensated with NIS 82 000 (how much is that in dollars?).

Captain R’s version was accepted. He said that the shots he fired were not aimed directly at the girl’s body. Yet 17 shots managed to penetrate her body! I wonder how?

24 March 2006

Is Sa3eed 3akel a Visionary?!

Does Saeed Akel, the writer, poet and self proclaimed Lebanese philosopher, know that his crusade (as in campaign, not as in the infamous wars) to write the Lebanese (Arabic) language using Latin script has been realized? About thirty years ago he called for the use of Latin letters because he claimed that these were of Phoenician origins. At the time he was questioned about the value of this change, not to mention where we will get the kha, ha, a’ein etc, the Arabic sounds from.

Well the ingenuity of the youth (Lebanese & Arab) has come up with a solution. Necessity is the mother/father (to be politically correct) of invention. SMS and chat is easier when the language is Arabic but the script is Latin. The sounds above were replaced by numbers: 5, 7, 3 etc.

Consider this sample of a message written by a 15yr old Lebanese to her friend in class. Of course, the 60 yr old Arabic literature teacher did not understand a word [permission for publishing was granted by student]:

“tani mara lama 7kit ma3o al msn 2alli ma kint 3arfik hal 2ad 7ilwi” or “5alli mahmod ya3rif eno ente binit kteer mni7a w 3a2le w ma bte3mle add la 7ayala 7ada w ma bte3te wij lal shabab…”

Written in Arabic: "تاني مرة لما حكيت معو عل م س ن أللي ما كنت عارفك هل أد حلوي. خللي محمود يعرف إنو إنتي بنت كتير منيحا و عاءلة و ما بتعملي آد لا حيالا حدا و ما بتعطي وج للشباب"

Translation: “when I spoke to him the second time on msn he told me that he did not know that I was this beautiful” or “ let Mahmoud know that you are a very good girl and you don’t just add any body [to your contacts on msn] and you are strict with the [young] men…”

The only letter left now is the ض which has no equivalence in any other language. Then the language of the ض will have a new set of letters.

23 March 2006

Strong Macho Lying Cowboy Lies for the 1442 time

In the nutshell:Afghanistan provided safe haven for al-Qaeda. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans [9/11]. And that's why I went into Iraq... and the world is safer for it.” – Pres. Bush

Helen Thomas: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true.
My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet ...your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth ... what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil ...quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

President Bush: I think your premise, in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist, is that, you know, I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect ...

Helen: Everything...

Bush: Hold on for a second, please.

Helen: everything I've heard...

Bush: Excuse me, excuse me. No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy, but we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people. Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq ...hold on for a second ...

Helen: They didn't do anything to you or to our country.

Bush: Look ...excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaeda. That's where al-Qaeda trained ...

Helen: I'm talking about Iraq ...

Bush: Helen, excuse me. That's where ...Afghanistan provided safe haven for al-Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.
I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, ‘Disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences’

Helen: ... go to war ...

Bush: ... and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

"... Bush answering Helen Thomas ...commonly referred to as the “First Lady of the Press", Helen Thomas is the most senior member of the White House Press Corps. She has served as a White House correspondent for some 57 years ... It was the fist time President Bush has called on Helen Thomas in three years." - Amy Goodman

article source. cartoon source

21 March 2006

Cute little Israel is being bullied by the big bad guy in the neighbourhood. Cute, little, helpless, innocent Israel must be protected! Strong macho cowboy must protect cute, little.....

20 March 2006

"Was the love of Judas' mother for her son less than the love of Mary for Jesus?"*

Peace & love to all mothers.

*Gibran. "Sand & Foam"

19 March 2006

Awakening & Premonition

“It is normal for every political group [read sect] to endeavor to make the electoral law serve the best of its interests. The representative [in parliament] should not be only a Moslem or a Christian; he should represent the Moslems or the Christians respectively. Then, thing will be better.”
Al Hakim Samir Ja’Ja’, interview on LBC, 18/3/2006

I must have been in the dark all this time. I thought that laws were made to serve the best interest of the country. And I really believed that “Lebanon was first” and representatives represented the nation. I thought naively that the “first class” leaders of the round table were making an effort in drafting laws in which all citizens are equal. But then what do I know. If I were as wise as they are, I would have been with them, serving them tea, at least.

The electoral law seems to be drafted in order to lead to definite results in the elections. This is scary. We are reliving the past. The law is tailored to fit certain individuals. And if this course carries on, then it will be no surprise when Rustom Ghazali comes back as the ambassador of Syria in Lebanon, and Jame’ Jame’ as the cultural attaché. And who knows maybe after fifteen years the officers in custody today will be sitting around a round table for a new round of “National Dialogue”. Too much turning makes me dizzy.

I am having the strangest feeling that “the National Dialogue” is a good rehearsal for the “House of Senate” (Majlis al Shoyoukh) stated in the “Taef Agreement” in which the heads of the illustrious sects of the land are represented. Therefore, I propose (makes me feel important when I say propose) that it be given a legitimate status in law and let it be another of the ruling institutions. Why stick with three heads when we can have four. And let the Sultan of Bani Maarouf, guess who, preside upon this house. Aren’t most of the members of the on going “National Dialogue” “Sheiks” while he is the “Beik”?

17 March 2006

Seven “Shibrs” and a half of Petition

Today, for the fourth time this week, I met someone who told me:

"Layk maddayt 3anak 3ala tutyeer lahoud, Akeed ma 3indak mane3."

Instant translation:
"Hey, I signed your name on the petition to kick Lahoud’s ass. Sure you don’t mind."

Some people are just a shibr and half. But not me, no! I am four times a shibr and half (6 shibrs or 6 shbars, so far).

To add pain to injury, my mother-in-law signed the name of my 5-yr old son! The hyper-active activist told her she could. My half shibr son is now shibr and half.

With a little more effort, Lahoud himself may sign too! 47 times, at least!

16 March 2006

Beirut & Baghdad, Ill Fate?

The effect of the situation in Iraq on Lebanon can not be over stressed. Evidence of this can be drawn from the recent history of both countries. The Iran-Iraq war had its reflections here during the civil war in the eighties. The American led coalition’s war in the nineties affected directly our politics especially since the U.S. distributed prizes to those who stood by her. The heat of the 2003 American invasion is still grilling us in addition to the daily blood bath and suffering going on in Iraq. The consequences are felt from the top of the political strata right down to the daily lives of individuals not even interested in politics.

Pierre Tristam wrote a very good article, in two parts, drawing parallels between what “was” the Lebanese civil war and what is the current Iraqi “civil war”. Up till the moment I read the articles, I never thought of the events taking place in Iraq as a civil war. As for our civil war, I don’t think that it is really over.

The first part of the article is mostly about Lebanon, and following is an excerpt:

Baghdad Does as Beirut Did
The Makings of a Civil War

One of my sharpest memories of growing up during the Lebanese civil war is of the daily concurrence of horror and normalcy—of playing Monopoly at a friend’s while rumors of beheadings were serrating the neighborhood, of shooting marbles in the driveway while the town across the valley got its five o’clock shelling. So it was around the country: Feasting in one sector while another burned, sometimes because another burned; a sector thronged with shoppers and typically wild drivers in the morning (road rage being a Lebanese talent going back to the Phoenicians, who must have invented seafaring rage) only to be deserted by afternoon as snipers or fugitive checkpoints drenched the place in terror. Florida has its thunderstorms. Lebanon had its militias. Weather reports on the radio were about the “hot” and “cold” sectors—where it was safe to drive and play, and where corpses marked the end of the road, where “armed elements” (éléments armés, in the dearly departed French of the time) ruled your fate.
Dichotomies flow through Lebanese culture. Read the rest here

The second part is an analysis of the situation in Iraq, and this is an excerpt:

Semantics as Warheads
’s Civil War, and Ours

Is it, then, or is it not a civil war in Iraq? Merely to ask the question, post-Samarra mosque shock, suggests that those who ask it can probably trace their ancestral gray matter to the dim side of that vapor-filled moon around Saturn that Cassini just centerfolded. The question has no relevance in Iraq, where it answers itself day in and day out. That’s not keeping the parachuting propagandists from finding vehicles for their one-hand clapping: they’ll drive about in the US military’s armored convoys for a few miles then report back, with glee, that they were welcomed, applauded, cheered and, who knows, propositioned a few times. If Oliver North, that paragon of truth-telling and loyalty to all things lawful, could do it in the early days of the war, why not another lieutenant colonel cut of the same tripe-adoring cloth? Read the rest here

Thanks Pierre

12 March 2006

Our Great and Wise Leaders

Cult of personality is a term for what is perceived to be excessive adulation of a single living political leader.

The reputation of this leader, often characterized as the "liberator" or "saviour" of the people, elevates that leader to a near-divine level. A cult of personality has a negative connotation, and is thus a pejorative term.

A personality cult is characterized with many images and representations of a leader in public places, including statues, billboards, posters, signs, paintings, and vast murals.
In many cases the leader is portrayed in various types of garb (indicating many roles) and in heroic positions. This is meant to emphasize the greatness and wisdom of the leader.
The leader's slogans and other quotes cover massive spaces, and books containing the leader's speeches and writings fill up bookstores, libraries, and schools.
The level of flattery can reach heights which may appear absurd to outsiders.

Some examples are: Stalin, Ataturk, Mobutu, Mussolini, Eva Peron, Sadam....

Can you point out who, and/or figure out how many of our Lebanese political leaders fit this category of personality cult?

I have lost count!

09 March 2006

A subject interesting to the teacher will bore students

  • The time a teacher takes in explaining is inversely proportional to the information retained by students.
  • A meeting's length will be directly proportional to the boredom the speaker produces.
  • Clocks will run more quickly during free time.
  • Students who are doing better are credited with working harder. If children start to do poorly, the teacher will be blamed.
  • The problem child will be a school board member's son.
  • New students come from schools that do not teach anything.
  • Good students move away.
  • When speaking to the school psychologist, the teacher will say: "weirdo" rather than "emotionally disturbed".
Laws of Applied Terror
  1. When reviewing your notes before an exam, the most important ones will be illegible.
  2. The more studying you did for the exam, the less sure you are as to which answer they want
  3. Eighty percent of the final exam will be based on the one lecture you missed about the one book you didn't read.
  4. The night before the English history midterm, your Biology instructor will assign two hundred pages on planarian.
First Law of Final Exams
  • Pocket calculator batteries that have lasted all semester will fail during the math final.
  • Corollary: If you bring extra batteries, they will be defective.
Second Law of Final Exams
  • In your toughest final, the most distractingly attractive student in class will sit next to you for the first time.

Happy Teacher’s Day, and enjoy your break.

More of Murphy’s Laws about teachers and teaching and plenty of other things.

08 March 2006

International Women's Day

Eve puts it well, when she says on AD-LIBanaises that today, March 8, is:

a moment of respect. an ode to femininity. a time to reflect. a call for change. a thought, carefully treasured for you: my mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, virtual friends, working wives, household wives, grocery store ladies, scary childhood dentists, unloved teachers, strangers smiling at me in a crowded street … you, my "ordinary" women, makers of my history, who have shaped me into the woman I am today.
To all of you, today I say: thank you.
Let the coming years bear the fruits of respect, dignity and equality. May they bring peace and peace of mind to the mothers of lands torn by violence. May our struggle for better days pay off.
Meanwhile consider these selected paintings by Lebanese women painters.

Houry Chekerjiane

Odile Mazloum

Mona Sehnawe

Cici Sersock

04 March 2006

It's Spring & Loooove is in the Air

From left: Aridi, Berri, Ja'ja', Aoun and Oudwan (with all due respect)

Aridi, Kassarji & Nassrullah

Ja'ja' & Khalil

At this rate, by next spring they will be with Bashar, God willing.

Quotable quote

الشارع في لبنان شوارع، والشوارع طوائف ومذاهب وعواطف يسهل تهييجها ويصعب من بعد ضبطها، خصوصاً في ظل المناخ المسموم الذي ينشره لجوء الاحتلال الأميركي في العراق إلى محاولة إدامة وجوده وإشغال العراقيين عنه بالفتنة، وكذلك في ظل توغل الاحتلال الإسرائيلي لفلسطين في قتل المقدسات والسلطة المتهالكة والبشر والأرض والشجر والحق بالوطن
طلال سلمان

03 March 2006

Traffic, Sects, and Races

Beirut: Traffic Jam

Zattam is an expert when it comes to the roads of Beirut and traffic jams. His experience goes back to the good old seventies. Those were the days, ehhhhh. He explained how the traffic jams we are now experiencing at the intersections were not real.

"They are cooked up on purpose for security reasons. Look at the streets over there, away from the intersections, who do you see? Nobody! Nobody doing anything! Nobody is going anywhere!" Yet there is traffic jam at intersections.

"The security men, they cause it on purpose, for security reasons. You know, these days everybody is fed up with everybody, without even knowing each other."

"Allah yostor. Allah ma3ak."

Sects of feather, flock together

The “National Dialogue” started yesterday. Head of blocs in parliament were chosen according to sectarian representation.

Non-sectarian parties, also in the parliament, were excluded. The “heads” did not want to be disturbed. They are onto some very serious business. No time for childish games of non-sectarian blah blah.

Notice how warm the handshakes were between Jumblat, Hakim and Nasrullah? Allah yi deem al wifik. So the self-pronounced non-sectarian parties (the entire spectrum of communists and nationalists) were not represented.

Serves them well. Had they been doing their homework and duties as they ought to have done, during the past seventy and more years, we would not have been here.

The women? Well in a patriarchal sectarian group of clans as ours, the “heads” are men. And by the way, why the hell are you asking about the women?

Shou badak min al mara wleh?!

Races, Races.

A group of IC students arguing, (the spirit of al Hiwar spreads).

Those to the left (side): What are you talking about; the Jews are the smartest race ever!

Those to the right (side): What are you saying, that is not true, you say the Jews are the most intelligent race. You are wrong. The Jews are not a race. Don’t you know there are black Jews, like from Ethiopia?!

Those on the left (side): WHAT!! WHAT!!

01 March 2006

Bits and Pieces

Hide and Seek - II

Pres. Lahoud found the ministers downtown and presided over their meeting. But they spoke their minds alright, directly into his face this time!
How did these ministers feel, when just a few days ago they were refusing, strongly, to even be in the same country with him?

Meetings keeps the cabinet going

According to the Lebanese constitution, if the cabinet does not convene in its regular meeting for three consecutive times, then it is considered resigned and a new cabinet must be formed.


Clinical depression increased by 15% and so did the rate of consumption of tranquilizers during the year 2005 in Lebanon, according to Assafir (15/2/2006)


Saad Hariri and S. H. Nasrallah met yesterday for SEVEN hours. They talked and had dinner together. I wonder what was on the menu. Anyway sahten!

Pots and Pans

Who told Elias Atallah that if demonstrators beat pots and pans together then the president will be intimidated and resign?

Defeat is victory. Death is life

(Excerpts from Fisk’s article, 02/26/06, on U.S. practices and policies in the Middle East and North Africa. Full text of the article at Information Clearing House.)

Everyone in the Middle East rewrites history, but never before have we had a US administration so wilfully, dishonestly and ruthlessly reinterpreting tragedy as success, defeat as victory, death as life - helped, I have to add, by the compliant American press. ….

Last week's visit to Beirut by one of the blindest of George Bush's bats - his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice - was indicative of the cruelty that now pervades Washington. She brazenly talked about the burgeoning "democracies" of the Middle East while utterly ignoring the bloodbaths in Iraq and the growing sectarian tensions of Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the key to her indifference can be found in her evidence to the Senate Committee on International Affairs where she denounced Iran as "the greatest strategic challenge" facing the US in the region, because Iran uses policies that "contradict the nature of the kind of Middle East sought by the United States". …

And so myth-making and tragedy go hand in hand. Iraq's monumental catastrophe has become routine, shapeless, an incipient "civil war". Note how the American framework of disaster is now being portrayed as an Iraqi vs Iraqi war, as if the huge and brutal US occupation has nothing to do with the appalling violence in Iraq. They blow up each other's mosques? They just don't want to get on. We told them to have a non-sectarian government and they refused. That, I suspect, will be the get-out line when the next deluge overwhelms the Americans in Iraq….

But let's just sit back and enjoy the view. Democracy is coming to the Middle East. People are enjoying more liberties. History doesn't matter, only the future. And the future for the people of the Middle East is becoming darker and bloodier by the day….


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