25 June 2007

Lebanon: Almost Non-Political Questions

What are we eating? Why are our banks flourishing? Who are those clearing cluster bombs? How will Brazil help in recycling Lebanese wastes? Where are some of the children who were caught in the crossfire? What about some music? These are some of the questions answered in this week’s selections from the Lebanese blogosphere.

Let us start with three existential questions posed by Mazen Kerbaj. In his artwork [to the right] he asks: “who are we? who knows? who will fill the blanks?”

Moving on we have Prof Rami Zurayk who begins one of his article titled “O Lebanese if only you knew what you were eating” with a letter that Antoine Howayyek, head of the Organization of Lebanese Farmers, sent to some ministers in the Lebanese cabinet asking them:

why are there no standards and no controls over the quality of the imported food products: fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products? Why does the ministry not do its job and operate or outsource the quality control at the borders?

The above mentioned letter raises many other points about trade, agriculture and local production. One of these points is:

There is no way to know the origin of products sold in the Lebanese market. Most products are imported and yet sold as originating form Lebanon. Each year, 5,000 tons of white cheese is imported and sold as Lebanese cheese. Lebanese law states that products have to be sold in their original packaging.

After discussing the content of the letter, Prof Zurayk concludes that:

Supporting local production through identifying origins may be the first step of something bigger, like food quality criteria. Imagine if we took a decision to clearly label GMO-containing foods. There goes US grain, US junk food, US soybean oil, and US confectionery. The bulk of our food import bill. Now the US masters will NOT be very happy with that, will they?

>>> the rest is at Global Voices Online

22 June 2007

Rubbing the Osama Lamp

Whenever President Bush has faced oblivion — at the polls or in his approval rating — he’s had one ally more reliable than Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Fox News, Rugh Limbaugh and the American press corps put together: Osama bin Laden.

All Bush needs to do is rub the Osama lamp, and out comes the genie to restore some luster to The Decider’s Global War on Everybody.

Remember those timely video appearances by Osama before the 2002 and 2004 elections? Remember John Ashcroft’s recurrent Big Scares about impending attacks? The yo-yo use of the Department of Homeland Security’s color codes?

>>>more from Pierre Tristam

17 June 2007

To Save the Falcons

In testimony before the Sept. 11 Commission, the former White House counterterrorism analyst, Richard Clarke, said that in the 1990s the United States had planned to bomb a falconry camp in Pakistan when Osama bin Laden was present. The raid, Clarke said, was scrubbed because a minister from the United Arab Emirates was a member of the hunting party.
Why rush when nations like Iraq can be destroyed and hundreds of thousands of its citizens killed, at some later date. Its their fault anyway. Had they been able to afford a $100000 falcon and thus be deemed qualified for membership to the hunting party, they wouldn't have been shocked and awed to smithereenes? And by the way, New Tabouk is not for just anybody. So don't even dream.


[thanks victor]

14 June 2007

Lebanon: Living Through Terror

This was yet another violent week here in Lebanon. In addition to the military action, taking place in the North between the Lebanese Army and the militants, and the almost regular explosions taking place around the country, this week was marred by another assassination. A terrorist car bomb explosion took away the lives of Member of Parliament, Walid Eido, his son, his bodyguard and seven civilians who happened to be at the scene of the crime - in addition to around 10 injuries. As a result, a gloomy atmosphere looms over most blogs. Some wrote before the assassination about how the Lebanese were coping with the anxiety of expected explosions and/or war, while others happened to be at the site of the car bomb explosion during the blast and survived to share their experiences. Included in this summary are posts on the political, social and educational repercussions of the violence and explosions as well as tributes to the innocent civilians killed in the blasts and violence.

I will start this weblog with this drawing that Amal posted four days ago and which she titled “Death”:

Bloggers who were at the site of the explosion:

Two bloggers were at a café very close to the site of the explosion that targeted MP Eido. Both wrote about their experience. Photo Beirut said:

However, we were very very close to the bomb that just went off in Beirut late this afternoon, which killed the MP Walid Eido (a member of Hariri’s coalition) and his son and two bodyguards as well as at least 6 others. Waleed and I were walking into the outdoor al-Rawda cafe on the seafront with some friends and were approaching a table next to the water when the massive explosion happened.

And Charles Malik was also there. His account of the explosion was mentioned in yesterday’s roundups. He mentioned that: “Children were playing on the equipment under the setting sun. Mothers were holding their babies. Old men were smoking argile.” Then “BOOM!!!”

Bloggers who were very close:

In addition to being on the site during the explosion, other bloggers were very close to the explosions and also wrote about their experience and reflections. MFL reflected on the new found anxiety and fear that have become part of our lives:

As I speak, 20 minutes ago my house’s foundation shook. I do not know who of my friends are down there (because my friends are meeting there today at this time). But I write, a car loaded with explosives blew up into kingdom, wounding 10 people and five people killed (and I hope the ones I know are not among them).
This is our new trend of life. Worry at every car parked, worrying if this car is loaded with explosives or not. Fear has locked most of the people in their houses, and citizens are dying.

Sietske In Beiroet also heard the blast while on her balcony and went down to the scene. In her photo–report, she takes us, step by step, through the “rather predictable” stages of what goes on when a blast of this type takes place: ...

>>>>Read the rest here, at Global Voices Online...

13 June 2007

Terrorism strikes again in Beirut

A powerful blast ripped through Beirut’s seaside, between the Long Beach and Sporting Club swimming facilities in Beirut's Manara district.

The explosion according to VDL targetted Parliamentarian Walid Eido's car.

Update: Al-Moustaqbal Movement MP Walid Edo, his son Khaled, two body guards and two civilians were killed in the Manara car bomb.

Update: Eleven injured civilians. Death toll rose to ten.

More at fellow bloggers: Blogging Beirut and Blacksmiths of Lebanon

Charles Malik
was very close
(50m) to the scene of the explosion and recounts his experience.

Nothing, nothing at all, justifies such acts of terror and in no way should they be condoned ...
Lord have mercy.... we in Lebanon are in dire need for it today ....

09 June 2007

Privatizing Synthetic Life

"Scientists working to build a life form from scratch have applied to patent the broad method they plan to use to create their "synthetic organism"."

"Dr Craig Venter, the man who led the private sector effort to sequence the human genome, has been working for years to create a man-made organism."

"The J Craig Venter Institute's US patent application claims exclusive ownership of a set of essential genes and a synthetic "free-living organism that can grow and replicate" made using those genes."

Those for say: "The effort could result in "designer microbes" that produce biofuels such as ethanol, and hydrogen. They could also be engineered to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere."

Those against say
: "The company was pressing ahead with its work despite the fact the public had not had the chance to debate the "far-reaching social, ethical and environmental implications". And that "these monopoly claims signal the start of a high-stakes commercial race to synthesise and privatise synthetic life forms.""

I say: There is no stopping this now. If the 20th century was the century of physics, the 21st century is going to be the century of biology with outbursts in genetic sciences. Expect more tinkering.

Scientists had already assembled the first synthetic virus in 2002.

image 1
image 2

Bush's Strategic Hitlist

Wesley Clark (A retired US general) points out in this interview that the Bush administration intended to “take out” seven countries just after September 11, 2001 (or maybe before). These countries are Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. The execution was planned to be carried out within five years.

Just another strategic plan dressed up as conspiracy theory?!

hat tip

04 June 2007

Explosion in Sad el Busheriyeh

LBC TV is reporting about an explosion in Sad el Busheriyeh, Beirut outskirts. It reports that the explosion occured 3o minutes ago. Explosives were placed near or under an empty bus near a business center. Seven injuries are being reported.

Lebanon: The Special Tribunal and The Fighting*

*Written for Global Voices Online:

This week, most Lebanese bloggers discussed the forming of the special tribunal for Lebanon at the United Nations and the continuing war between the Lebanese Army and the Fateh al Islam militants/terrorists. The first is the special tribunal of an international character that was passed under UNSCR 1757 to try those responsible for the terrorist crime that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others. Some bloggers see this as the beginning of a new era in Lebanese history. The second is the fighting that started three weeks when a group of Fateh al Islam militants/terrorists attacked and killed Lebanese soldiers, some of whom were not on duty, and hid in the Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp. What followed was that the army enforced a blockade on the camp and engaged the militants in fierce fighting that is still going on today. Some of the bloggers report on their visits to the refugee camps.

So what did some of the bloggers say about these two events?

On the special tribunal

Laure Ghorayeb posted a series of her drawings about the tribunal. This one here is titled “la femme du martyr” or “the martyr’s wife”:

l ghorayeb

Independence05 wrote about the days and hours before the voting in the United Nations on the resolution concerning the special tribunal:

On the social level, those last 10 days were not busy at night as it is usually. Malls, movie theatres and restaurants had no waiting lines, empty parkings and innocent traffic jams. Lebanese are not afraid as much as they are sick of the situation. Delivery and DVDs are the Lebanese’s best friend those last few days. There are always exceptions of those who go out and party whatever the situation is, but these people are rare.

Perpetual Refugee took another approach. He began by a flashback, describing his impressions and personal experiences in Lebanon during the past decade, and then drew parallels with today in light of the tribunal: . . .

>>> read the rest here ...

On the fighting:

Laure Ghorayeb
also posted a series of drawing on Nahr el Bared, of which the one posted here is called “Nahr el Bared 21”.

Land and People used sarcasm to suggest that poverty is a possible cause for the instability and unrest that is spreading around the country:

Half the Lebanese people are poor […] (this is confirmed by Oxfam study posted earlier and by the findings of the UN survey). The Lebanese government is unimpressed, and the minimum wages have been frozen since 1996, but not the prices of basic commodities. The worst regions: South Lebanon, Bekaa and North Lebanon. No surprise if most of the ‘turbulence’ in Lebanon originate from these regions. Could this be linked to the events in Nahr el Bared? Noooo of course not. In Nahr el Bared, it is just Palestinians trying once more to destroy Lebanon. Ask any Lebanese. Especially (but not exclusively) those aligned with the government.

Lebanese Renaissance also pointed out the widening rift between the rich and poor in Lebanon and declared that it was unacceptable. Although he did not relate this topic to the fighting going on: . . .

>>> read the rest here ...


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