Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year Resolutions

The new year is upon us and most of us will have some resolutions that we try to stick to. Most of us are unsuccessful, but we try anyway. A good measure of this phenomenon for me is watching the dynamics at my school gym. Usually the first week after the New Year, everybody is at the gym. You'd be lucky if you find an empty bench to do some presses. Give that a couple of weeks or so and then you are guaranteed to have an almost empty gym by February or March.

So, what's Lebanon's or Michel Sleiman's 2010 resolution?

Cleaning up house, otherwise known as reform.

But my question to you Mr. President, why wait till 2010? Why after the New Year? Why the 'eff not when you were elected President?

You'd think one would want to immediately start the reformation process once elected to office.

My guess is however that this is another New Year's resolution that will not see the light of day.

Good luck with that your excellency.

And to my readers, good luck with you New Year's resolutions.

BG

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hariri Jr. government gets confidence vote

The newly birthed Hariri government finally gets a vote of confidence to start officially working and implementing its now infamous "governmental statement". For those of you who are new to Lebanese politics, an appointed PM puts together a government that in turn drafts a program or statement that it presents to the parliament in a bid to earn the confidence of the majority or else everything goes back to square one.

So after 3 long days of "debating" the governmental statement, and after a total of 6 sessions, 66 MPs debating and a whopping 26 hours of total "talk" (#'s are the courtesy of Nabih Berri), the government earned its confidence vote with 122 out of 128 voting to grant their confidence to the new government.

4 MPs were missing in action:
  • Dorry Chamoun
  • Talal Irslan
  • Nabil Nqoula
  • Hashem Alem El Din
One MP decided to not vote either way:
  • Imad El Hout
And one MO voted to not grant confidence:
  • Nqoula Fattoush
Imad El Hour's decision to not vote either yes or no was a bit weird, given that he represents Jamaa Islamiya, which to my understanding is part of Hariri's coalition.

The Nqoula Fattoush decision is not that surprising. He is a lone MP representing Zahle, not part or any coalition so to speak, largely his making though. He tried to outmaneuver his fellow March 14 MPs on the Zahle list, but proved to be ineffective and was booted out of the coalition. His vote of no confidence is more so a bitter response of a sore loser rather than a real disagreement over the governmental statement. He will soon regret that decision.

The majority confidence vote is not a shocker in anyway; it is a government of national unity after all. What's shocking the most is the charade these MPs put on for 3 days in a row thinking that any Lebanese citizen with their complete mental capacities will actually believe anything they say.

But then again, this is Lebanon.

BG

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

HIV as a death sentence, literally.

Everybody knows that a diagnosis with HIV is not the death sentence it used to be years ago, due to many improvements in anti-retroviral drugs and the emergence of new therapies.

However, some politicians in Uganda are trying to change that, literally.

Lawmakers in Uganda are trying to pass a new anti-homosexuality bill that would make it even more difficult for someone to be gay in that country. Mind you, homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the new bill will introduce even tougher penalties for being gay/engaging in homosexual acts.

The bill has a lot of disturbing penalties and clauses in it. The most disturbing however is the clause in the bill that allows the state to execute anyone who tests positive for HIV. Yes, you read that right. People who test positive for the virus that causes AIDS can be put to death.

Other oddities of the bill include a measure that will allow prosecution of gays that have engaged in homosexual acts outside of Uganda but can still be put on trial for it in Uganda itself. Sounds more like a lynching campaign to me.

I will spare you the annoying details, however the bill is rife with various basic-human-rights-insulting-clauses. Feel free to browse it at this link. Just a quick review of the table of contents is sufficient enough to give any human being a severe headache.

BG

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

RIP Elie Kanaan





Elie Kanaan, a critically acclaimed Lebanese painter has just passed away.

Winner of multiple awards and recognitions, most notably the "Salon du Printemps", "UNESCO's Prize" and "Prix Vendome".

Artist Website

Youtube Video

BG

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No one ran against Nasrallah

I think that's the best line of the entire article.

BG

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stupid of the Day Award 4

Check this guy out celebrating Egypt's win over Algeria in a Soccer match.



Oh, and check out the guy on the right trying to get in on the action.
I believe that these are highly pressurized and evidently highly flammable canisters that normally should not be close to any source of fire.

Both much deserving of our coveted Stupid of the Day Award!

BG

Thursday, October 22, 2009

FINALLY

It's about time!

The US congress has just passed a law that would make it a crime to assault any person because of his or her sexual orientation! You'd think that assaulting people in general should be frowned upon, but apparently not with the gays, up until now that is!

Kudos for congress.

Still lots of work to be done for a country such as the USA, but this is definitely a good start.

BG

Solde w Akbar!

Do you guys remember that show back in the day on MTV (Lebanese one) where Mireille Mazraani (at least I think that's what her name was) would be screaming solde w akbar all the time?

Well it seems that the Lebanese judiciary has gotten on board that ship.

Check out this news clip from LBC reporting on the judiciary seeking the death penalty for a bunch of arrested terrorists.

These are the guys that had been arrested for involvement in the Tripoli van bombing that killed a dozen or so Lebanese Army personnel.

This is what they have been accused of/what they have admitted to:

  • Tripoli bombing
  • Francois El Hajj assassination
  • Wissam Eid assassination
  • UNIFIL bombing in the south
  • Involvement in the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, or at least owning the weapon used
  • Possible involvement in the Damascus bombing
  • Planning the assassination of Ashraf Rifi
Does it seem a bit odd that these guys are pretty much responsible for almost every single little bombing/assassination that happened in the past couple years in Lebanon AND Syria?

Is the government putting the blame on a group/bunch of people to avoid blaming somebody else because of whatever political and security reasons?

Basically, is there a cover-up going on that someone should make a bigger fuss about?

And does it not seem odd that not a single politician in Lebanon has said anything about this? Or even praised the judiciary and the security services for their excellent investigative techniques (read as detainee abuse), which is pretty much what they do all the time in similar incidents?

This does not smell right to me!

BG

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Stupid of the Day Award 3

In other Libya related news, check out these idiots who planned an assassination by mail. Much deserving of our Stupid of the Day Award.

BG

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good Old Qaddafi #2

The only good thing about having a lunatic dictator for a ruler of a rogue country, is the inordinate amount of blogging material provided.

So, for your (and our) periodic dose of entertainment, we present to you Good Old Qaddafi at the UN. He made an extra effort to appear this year, for the first time ever, to celebrate 40 years in office!

I'm sure most of you have either heard or read about his antics at the UN this past week. My absolute favorite part is his rant about the Taliban and how that is, in his view, comparable to the Vatican, yes the Vatican, you read right. The thought goes on to venture into how Iraq should have a civil war, after all both the US and Spain had civil wars and turned out fine.

The best part about the whole presentation is the paper on which his notes are written. I mean, SERIOUSLY? Could he not have used decent paper at least, and not appeared to have torn these out of his grand child's school notebook? Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos's take on it.

In other Qaddafi related news, he was apparently looking for a place to stay at while in the US. As it turns out, New Jersey turned down his request to pitch a tent there. Here's Letterman's take on it.

In other sexually-deprived, America-hating, self-righteous, egomaniac dictator news, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela managed to have a little chat with a reporter from Fox News. Check out his response to a Holocaust/Ahmadinejad related question. I can't say I disagree with his assessment of Fox News though!

On the other hand, Ahmadinejad's speech was a disappointment. No antics or pompous rants and definitely no quotable moments for this blogger. What a shame.

BG

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jumblatt versus Peres

Israel's president Shimon Peres fainted the other day and was soon after released from the hospital after having been checked out by doctors.

Jumblatt had this to say about the incident:

حتى إبليس بالأمس رفض إستقبال شمعون بيريس بعدما إستدعاه للحظات في غيبوبة لو أتاح القدر أن تكون نهائية لكان العالم تخلص من تلك الاكذوبة التاريخية التي مثلها ذلك الرجل على مر عقود من الصراع العربي- الاسرائيلي، وهو الذي لعب أدورا عديدة خلال كل محاور هذا الصراع. ونتمنى على إبليس في المرة المقبلة ألا يخطئ في حساباته ويدعوه اليه لمرة واحدة وأخيرة، عله بذلك يفيد البشرية في مكان ما

A quick and rough translation: even Satan has refused to welcome Peres after fainting and if fate had willed it to be final, the world would have gotten rid of this historic lie that this guy has embodied for decades during the Arab-Israeli conflict . . . and we hope (or rather wish) that the next time around, for Satan to calculate correctly and invite Peres to him one final time, maybe this way, he (Satan that is) would benefit humanity in some way.

Whether you like Jumblatt or not, you have to agree that he is sometimes very theatrical and amusing!


BG

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Overheard

Overheard during a lunch with LaZaytouni:

Guy at the next table, talking to woman seated across from him: this is so fun, watching that woman parallel park is better than watching a movie!

Another classic!

BG

Lebanese Cabinet

Armand Homsi is at it again!
I love that guy, he's a genius.


(click on image for larger view)
Hariri-Aoun meeting chez Mr. Le President, aka Fakhamto!

Basically, Aoun and Hariri meet under the supervision of Baabda Palace Occupant to try and break the wall between them that is supposedly hampering the birth of a new government in Lebanon. Yep, that wall was broken alright!

Yes, supervision: since both politicians (actually all politicians) are acting like children and need to be supervised!
Yes, Occupant: since given his constitutional powers, our beloved President is nothing more than a space filler!

And as for the government, that thing needs a c-section now, no natural birth here!
It is far easier to believe the Immaculate Conception than to believe that this government will see the light anytime soon.

Oh, and whoever tells you that Syria is not behind this severe crippling of the Lebanese political system, is flat out LYING to you.

BG

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lebanese Syrian Relations 4

A recent incident occurring on the Lebanese-Syrian border has put the issue of border demarcation between Lebanon and Syria at the forefront again.

It took Syria about 60 some years to recognize Lebanon as an independent and sovereign nation by finally agreeing (albeit under pressure) to exchange diplomatic missions with Beirut. This however, has not stopped Syria from wanting and working towards the goal of meddling in Lebanese internal affairs to assure it's hegemony over anything Lebanese.

The mere presence of an ambassador in Beirut is not proof enough that Syria believes, wants, and works towards a free and independent Lebanon. After all, nobody hears anything from the guy, and he rarely appears in public. There is no shortage of issues that need to be dealt with when it comes to Lebanese-Syrian relations, and this blog has previously listed some of them.

One of the main issues, is the demarcation of the Lebanese-Syrian border. Syria has refused for years to demarcate the Lebanese border for various reasons that I will not get into in this post. However, one reason the border should be demarcated is the recent spat between the village of Arsal and the neighboring Syrian villages. Farmers and residents from both sides of the border have agricultural land that they tend to. The catch here is that since the border is not demarcated, and the propriety of the land is in question, and since apparently Wild West mentalities (video) are prevalent, every now and then, each time somebody goes out to tend to their land, they get killed. Usually, casualties are mostly on the Lebanese side of the border, however this time around, both a Syrian and a Lebanese were killed. The villagers are hoping that this will serve as a deterrent to what they see as a clear, concrete and constant violation of their rights by the Syrians.

Whatever the reasons are for Syria to not demarcate the border between the two countries, this however should not be used as an excuse or pretext by the Lebanese government to not protect its citizens and ensure their rights, no matter where they be found on Lebanese land.

It's time for the Lebanese government to take serious actions to pressure the international community and Syria to force a demarcation of the Lebanese-Syrian border. If this cannot be easily achieved, I believe that the Lebanese government should take unilateral actions to demarcate the border itself, at the very least to protect its citizens and territorial integrity.


BG

Having Sex in Lebanon




I have a story for you. It’s a sad story. My 22 year old best friend just started having sex, obviously pre-marriage. So we were talking, and I happened to ask her what kind of protection she’s using.
He pulls out,” she says.
I’m, sorry, what?? Yes, yes, ‘he pulls out’ was her response. No condoms, she is not on the pill, no plan B, nothing.

Oh, sorry, let me note that this is all taking place in Lebanon.

So I begin to patiently lecture my friend about the fact that the pulling out method can still get you pregnant, that it does nothing to prevent STDs, and then I go to the computer, do some research on all these things, and send info to her in an email.

She then proceeds to have sex two more times using, again, only the pulling out method.

Ok, so part of this is, no offense, because my friend is being an idiot, and the bigger part of it is there being NO SEX EDUCATION IN LEBANESE SCHOOLS. Yes, I realize it is a conservative society in the sense that people, more specifically women, are expected to wait until marriage until having sex. Let’s not get into how ridiculous that is and that the same is not expected of men and that that is a double standard which makes no sense unless these men are fucking each other.

So again I look up more information and send it to my friend. I also tell her we are setting her an appointment this week with a doctor to get her a prescription for birth control.

This morning I stopped by a pharmacy to buy her condoms and the morning after pill. She asked me to do it for her because I guess she is too embarrassed to do so herself. Goes to show you how much sex is a taboo in Lebanese society. Even more taboo is that I walked into the pharmacy and as there were two other customers there, I walked out, not wanting to buy condoms and try to explain the morning after pill (il suba7 b3daan pill?) to the pharmacist. I felt like a coward, but I looked at my watch pretending to be late for something and got the hell out of there. I’m planning on going back on my way home tonight, fingers crossed that no one else will be there.

Anyway, I was really disappointed to see how little my very intelligent, well-educated friend knew about sex. It made me wonder how little other Lebanese people knew about this. Obviously they don’t talk about it with their parents. I mean fuck, I remember a couple of years ago my girlfriends here thought that virgins couldn’t use condoms because it would break their hymen. They were like 21 at the time.

So looking up information for my friend I found out about this sex hotline in Lebanon where you can call and get information on sex and ask any questions you want anonymously. It wasn’t even easy info to find. So the point of this post, I hope someone in need will come across this in their search on the internet, or will send it to a friend in need (as you can see by the many, many labels I have attached to this post). Let’s do our part to avoid unwanted pregnancies and the spreading of STDs until the government starts doing its part and requiring sex education.


So girls and guys, my advice to you? Stay safe and go to your pharmacy and buy condoms (keep a couple on you at all times) and the morning after pill, you never know when you or your partner will need it.
Girls, if you’re having sex regularly, go to the doctor and get a prescription for birth control. If you’re worried your doctor will tell your parents, they can’t if you’re an adult (over 18) as doctor-patient confidentiality exists. Also, you can tell you doctor you are having really bad periods that are painful and want to go on birth control, which is very common, so you can be on birth control with your parents knowing…(in case you need them to pay for it). And please, no sex without condoms. Are you interested in getting AIDS or gonorrhea?


Stay safe,

Love

LZ

PS: Many may be wondering why the guy himself didn’t use condoms. Apparently he is convinced that the pulling out method works, that all the times he has used condoms it breaks, that when ur in the heat of the moment you really don’t want to put a condom on, and probably also that its not quite as pleasurable for him. Well I’m sorry, but fuck him. Is he the one that is going to end up pregnant? Is he ready to be a father? Do you want the STDs that he is going to give you from having unprotected sex with other women? And if he doesn’t even care about you enough to put on a condom to protect the both of you, why the hell would you want to be having sex with him anyway?


PPS: Thanks to the anonymous post from before for directing me on how to get through the Arabic language obstacle on blogspot.com



_______________


If you're in Lebanon and have questions about sex, AIDS, STDs, etc., call the LFPA or SIDC anonymously.


The Lebanon Family Planning Association (LFPA)

Contact InformationTelephone: (961) 1/ 318575 or (961) 1/ 311978Fax: (961) 1/ 318575 or (961) 1/ 311978


P.O. Box: 118240 Corniche El Mazraa, Masken Bldg



'Soins Infirmiére et Développement Communautaire' (SIDC),

Youssef Karam st, Daou bldg, 1st floor Sin El Fil El Metn Lebanon
01 480714, 01 482428 01 480714, 01 482428
P.O.Box: 55391 – Sin El Fil




~LZ

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Politics as a hobby?

Can somebody please explain to me how a Prime Minister-designate tasked with the almost impossible job of forming a Lebanese government decides to take a family vacation to France??

For crying out loud, should he not be trying to form a government as soon as possible that can tackle the multiple issues that are plaguing the Lebanese people, most importantly pressing economic needs and minimum bare standards of living, rather than vacationing with his family?

I don't know about the rest of the Lebanese people, but the official reason and statement issued by his parliamentary block was definitely not making sense to me:

"Hariri wanted to distance himself from the heated rhetoric regarding the cabinet’s formation and the political make-up of the March 14 coalition."

Well, taking a break every once in a while is fine, but the timing could not have been any worse. The need to form a government in Lebanon that will actually try to handle the multiple problems we have is and should be of paramount importance to all politicians, and especially so the politician tasked with putting that government together.

Oh, and if every politician in Lebanon were to take a break and leave to blow some steam every time Walid Jumblat maneuvers or takes a new position, then I think politicians will spend more time outside than inside Lebanon and we'd only be left with Jumblat as the sole politician in Lebanon.

Accountability people!

These guys need to be held accountable. If they were, I don't think Hariri would take the issue of premiership lightly and Jumblat would definitely stick to a position for longer than 24 hrs.

BG

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blatant Racism

Lebanon still has a lot to go when it comes to issues of race, class and religion.
Just check out this article and you'll know what I mean.

Now Lebanon link


This is racist and absolutely unacceptable.

BG

Friday, July 24, 2009

LZ in Cedarland

"Hey guys! I apologize for not posting. Initially it was because I was in my Northern Lebanese mountain village with no internet access. Now that I am working in Beirut during the week, my excuse is much more shameful. Blogspot.com is in Arabic and I cannot figure out how to log on and post. Sigh, sad I know. That would also explain why BG is posting this message for me instead of me posting it myself.

As a side note, I have only just discovered the amazingness that is Beirut Taxi Drivers and the service system. Someone needs to make a movie about it.

All my love,

LZ"

BG

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Really?!

British National Party leader had this to say about immigrants and people of ethnic background in his country:

"Britain is full, overcrowded and clearly terribly terribly unstable as a result of this multicultural experiment."

And what about those immigrants that want to come to the UK?

"What needs to be done as an example is to sink a couple of boats near the shores of Libya - throw them lifebelts so they can paddle back, so they understand they will never get to Europe."

*****************
Elsewhere on the beloved European continent . . .

The Greek police has demolished a camp used by immigrants and according to the story, the camp had become some sort of an "eyesore".

"The camp had been a source of tension with many Greeks who regarded it as a major eyesore for themselves and for tourists arriving from Italy."

******************

All this sort of makes the treatments of Arabs and Muslims in America post 9-11 seem like a stroll in the park.

BG

Ahmadinejad got owned

This is exactly why Obama kicks ass!

BG

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I was only shooting at the enemy, I swear!

Lebanon's Central Security Council (CSC) fully banned gunfire during political, religious and social events.


Eh, should it not be banned in ALL events and at ALL times?!
One has to wonder in awe when trying to decipher how the minds of our beloved leaders function!

Useless person in power: Listen haboob, it's summer season and all and we are expecting a lot of tourists this year, could we possibly keep the gunfire to a minimum.
Useless person working for useless person in power: eh, you're right! I mean after all, we are invested in this s**t. That would not be such a bad idea after all. Let me call these guys over at CSC and I'll have them issue a statement or something. People usually buy that kinda crap. Tikram 3aynak, walaw?!

Ridiculous.
Shameless.
Scandalous.

BG

Note: BG et LZ are highly appreciative of the actions of our reformist interior minister Ziad Barood. This is by no means a scathing post on his job or performance in particular, but at the entire lifestyle of Lebanese government's "business as usual" attitude.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Beiteddine Festivals Update #2

A nice video with some history of Beiteddine Palace and an intro to the current lineup of the Beiteddine International Festival.

VIDEO

The video is from AnnaharTV, which you should know about by now. If you don't then please explore it. I love most of the subjects they try to tackle with these videos especially so that we tend to forget that Lebanon is not all politics. Most of the blogs/coverage that comes out of Lebanon is politics heavy and AnnaharTV is a nice change.

BG

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chatter box

Yet another classic from Joe Biden.
"That S.O.B is rolling over in his grave right now."

As to why he is allowed to drift off scripted speech is beyond me.

It remains to be seen how many insurgents or Saddam sympathizers will find this extremely offensive and will thus go off on a killing spree.

BG

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Score one for the ladies! #2

It is indeed a good week for women in the Middle East!
Now, mind you lot's of work still needs to be done but there has been a few stories that are encouraging.

The first one comes out of Syria where Bashar Al Assad has decreed that men convicted of honor killings should get harsher sentences. Get this though, he increased their sentence from a 1 year to a whopping 2 year imprisonment! Still a ludicrous sentence for murder, but better than nothing I guess!
LINK

The second one comes out of Egypt where the government has finally done something about the rampant sexual harassment woman experience on a daily basis. This apparently had been a recurring problem in Egypt where woman just don't feel safe on the streets. A sexual perpetrator had been charged with 45 years in prison. A tough and very much needed sentence.
LINK

Both these stories are welcome developments coming out of the Middle East where women still lag considerably behind men when it comes to their rights and social equalities.

BG

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lost in Translation

I love it when I read articles on Lebanese non-Arabic sites. Some of them are just beyond entertaining!

Check out the following news article on Naharnet.

Cabinet on Low Fire as Preparations for Lebanon-Syria-Saudi Summit Underway

So, there is this saying in Arabic that goes "3ala nar khafifa", literally translating into something being cooked at low temperature or low heat. When used figuratively, one is indicating that someone/something is just going to take his/her/its' time to finish doing something.

Oh Ahmad, how is that deal going with Tony?
Ahmad: 3ala nar khafifa habibna, 3ala nar khafifa.

Now, let's just translate that into English shall we?

Oh Edd, how is that deal going with Anthony?
Edd: on low fire love, on low fire.

It just doesn't work.

You would think people over at Naharnet will either start learning proper English soon, or hire someone who knows proper English.

I just find it entertaining!

BG

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pocketless?!

I think every Lebanese politician/public worker should be issued one of these!

BG

Monday, June 29, 2009

Li2mi Zgheeri (A Little Taste...) n°9



Introducing Lebanese designer "Basil Soda" as someone to watch :

Paula Abdul #1


Paula Abdul #2

American Singer Katy Perry (This one was a big hit)

British Actress Emily Blunt


~LZ

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Beiteddine Festivals Update

Gad El Maleh has unfortunately canceled his performances scheduled for July 13-15th as part of the Beiteddine Festivals.

He has recently been a target of Almanar news website (mouthpiece of Hezbollah). They had claimed on their website that he is a French-Israeli artist, or "so called humorist" who is a supporter of Israeli "interests". They also claimed that he served in the Israeli army for 4 years and that he supports the "zionist" state and its' army.

Needless to say, all these claims have been refuted by El Maleh's producer and agent as incorrect and malicious. Understandably, in the face of accusations like these coming from Hezbollah, the artist has cancelled his travels and scheduled appearances in Lebanon, fearing his safety and the safety of his entourage.

I tried to find more information on the artist, but was unsuccessful.
It appears to me that this entire Hezbollah fuss is about the guy being Jewish, which in and of itself, would be a very sad reason to ban or veto an artist from coming to perform in Lebanon. Judaism is supposed to be an officially recognized and respected sect in Lebanon, and Lebanon's message as a cultural and pluralistic society is being tarnished.

I sincerely hope that something like this does not happen again. I don't see the guy's religion as enough cause to derail his entire performance in Lebanon. This goes against everything Lebanon stands for.

Now, if the Almanar claims are true and it is proven that El Maleh served in the Israeli army and/or is an active supporter of Israeli causes, then this course of action would be appropriate and we should not host him as a nation. However, it appears that the whole affair was unfair and more of a referendum on his religion than his actions.

BG

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sad day for Lebanon

Berri is Speaker again!

90 yays, 28 blanks.

It is sad to see the most important facade of our democracy (yes, the whole thing is a charade) being so un-democratic.
This is the fifth term for Berri, and his 17th year as speaker. I think that there should be limits on the number of terms you are allowed to be Speaker of Parliament, the same way there are presidential term limits. Because frankly, this is bordering the ridiculous.

But, it seems that we are not going to see the end of this charade anytime soon. In his acceptance speech, Berri is quoted as saying the following: "I am sure that those who cast blank ballots today will re-elect me in four years."

I guess we might just have to wait for him to die to see a new face as Speaker.

BG

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

R.I.P. Neda

This makes me want to cry.

Be warned, it's not for the faint of heart.

~LZ

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Programme pour 'Fête de la Musqiue' à Beyrouth!

C'est le jour de la Fête de La Musique ici à Paris! Donc, pour ceux entre vous qui sont au Liban, voici le programme pour la fête: (il y a quelques groupes dont on a déjà parlé sur le blog... :P )

--

L'Ambassade de France met en place six scènes à travers la ville, du rock au hip-hop oriental, en passant par la chanson française pure et des djs tech-house, la musique sous toutes ses formes est représentée dimanche 21 juin.

Bayat, Champlain, Elias Diez, Karimbo Mixity, Bernard Lavilliers, The New Governement, Mashrou'Leila et J-Electric jouent de 20h à 01h15 aus Thermes Romains.

Nahna El Nas, L’Fahrass, 7 Ta2at, Bicro-phone, Plugged, The crave, José González, Sphere et Vibrations sont a Hamra de 20h à minuit.

Trix, Charlie Shawlporn, Stephanie Merchak, Trash Inc, Aspro, Jade & Diamond setter, Alex Azzi, Jay K, Fady Assouad et Eli et Rabih se produisent au Dôme de 21h à 04h accompagnés des VJ KAma, La Mirza, Mosig, Labo et Strongsky.

Toni Bayeh, Cristobal, Youmna Saba, ShaBa wa l Kaylou tafaha, Omarz & Grandsunn, Meen, et Amab jouent à Gemmayze- Escalier Saint Nicolas de 20h à minuit.

Limelight, Khat Ahmar, Ashek’man, I-Voice, Malikah, Anne, Arcane, The Kordz et DJ Lethal Skillz sont Place des Martyrs de 20h à 02h du matin.

Enfin, The Narcycist, Sandmoon, Sylvain Nassar, The Incompetents et Katibe 5 se succèdent de 21h à 01h20 dans le jardin Samir Kassir.

***UPDATE***

Here is a more detailed programme that has the times each band is meant to go one and the genre of music the the band plays that I got from Lilliane!

PLACE DES MARTYRS:
20h00 Limelight (Rock)
20h40 Khat Ahmar (Arabic Hip Hop)
21h35 Katibe 5 (Arabic Hip Hop)
22h05 Malikah (Arabic Hip Hop)
22h45 Anne (Rock)
23h30 Arcane (Rock)
00h20 The Kordz (Rock)
01h10 DJ Lethal Skillz (Scratch / Hip hop)


JARDIN SAMIR KASSIR:
21h00 The Narcissist (Dubai / Hip hop)
10h45 Sandmoon (Folk)
23h20 Sylvain Nassar (Rock)
23h55 The Incompetents (Folk / Indie)
00h50 I-Voice (Arabic Hip Hop)


THERMES ROMAINS:
20h00 Bayat (Oriental)
20h40 Champlain (Chanson française)
21h15 Elias Diez (Rock français)
21h50 Karimbo Mixity (Rap)
22h25 The New Government (Rock)
23h15 Mashrou’Leila (Pop rock)
00h00 Fareeq el Utrush (Arabic hip hop)


GEMMAYZE (escalier St Nicolas):
20h00 Toni Bayeh (Oriental)
20h35 Cristobal (Indy-folk)
21h15 Youmna Saba (Lebanese Folk)
21h50 ShaBa wa l Kaylou tafaha (Comic critic)
22h05 Omarz & Grandsunn (Hip hop)
22h35 J-Electric (Funk / Jazz)
23h30 Meen (Lebanese rock)
00h20 Arnab (Live Drum n’bass)

DOME:
21h - TRIX - DJ SET - DEEP HOUSE
22h - CHARLY SHAWLLPORN - LIVE - MINIMAL
22h30 - STEPHANIE MERCHAK - LIVE - ELECTRO TECHNO
23h - TRASH INC. - LIVE - ELECTRO BREAKS
23h30 - ASPRO (FRANCE) - LIVE - DEEP HOUSE
00h - JADE & DIAMOND SETTER - DJ SET – MINIMAL / TECH-HOUSE
01h - AAA - DJ SET - TECH-HOUSE / DUBSTEP
02h - JAY K - DJ SET - TECHNO
03h - FADY ASWAD - DJ SET - TECHNO
04h – E.L.I & RABI-H - DJ SET - TECHNO

Visuals by KAMA (ITALY) – LA MIRZA – MOSIG – LABO & STRONGSKY

HAMRA (Next to Fransabank):
20h00 Nahna El Nas (oriental)
20h40 L’Fahrass (Arabic hip hop)
21h00 7 Ta2at (Arabic hip hop)
20h20 Bicro-phone (Arabic hip hop)
20h45 Plugged (Alternative rock)
21h25 The Crave (Alternative rock)
22h05 José González (Flamenco)
22h55 Sphere (Rock)
23h35 Vibrations (60’s rock)

--

Pour vous à Paris, peut-être je vous verrai dans les rues?? Bonne fête!

(Et, en fait, pour vous aux États Unis, Happy Fathers Day!)

~LZ

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stupid of the Day Award 2

I'm sure most of you by now have seen Obama's fly swatting techniques thanks to the media ever so eloquently shoving it down people's throats. It's almost on every news website, and in more than one case, made the top 10 news items. I'm sure the Iranians with their "green revolution" are thrilled at the fact that they have to compete with a fly swatter for news coverage.

But, if you have been living under a rock for a week now, Obama swatted a fly and the Iranians are having a revolution.

However, I think that the story that is most newsworthy and that also deserves our Stupid of the Day Award is PETAs response to Obama's fly swatting capacities.

PETA, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, just came out with a statement condemning the fly swatting as "execution" and asking the President to be nicer to "the least sympathetic animals."

Followed by the following gem:
"In a nutshell, our position is this: He isn't the Buddha, he's a human being, and human beings have a long way to go before they think before they act."

And by bestowing on us such great philosophical knowledge, we here at BG et LZ, bestow on them our highly coveted Stupid of the Day Award.


BG

Jihadists Don't Blog


BG, we are "bridge bloggers," oh, and apparently jihadists don't blog (i have this great image right now of a jihadist with a giant beard, osama like turban and sandals squinting at c omputer screen trying to pour out his emotions on a blog...haha)

The BBC just published an article about blogging in the Arab World

The studied, organized by the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard, looked at 35,000 active Arabic blogs (ie that are written in Arabic)

Their goal "was to produce a baseline assessment of the networked public sphere in the Arab Middle East, and its relationship to a range of emergent issues, including politics, religion, culture and international affairs."

They concluded: (1) the Arabic blogosphere is organized primarily around countries, (2) Egypt formed the largest cluster on the Arabic blogging map. The study also singled out Saudi Arabia, Kuwait & Syria (3) That within a given country, the make-up of the blogging cluster is varied,

and

(4)

The report also identified two large cross-national groups of what the authors call "bridge bloggers." One group is located in the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and frequently blogs in English in addition to, or instead of, Arabic. ...



Report co-author John Palfrey noted that these bridge bloggers were important because they serve as cultural interpreters for many in the West. Bridge blogs, he said, are often where "the water-cooler chatter" of the Arabic-speaking world gets into the wider public domain.

:P

I was a bit surprised that Egypt would be the top considering the arrests of bloggers that have been taking place there, but I guess when you live in a repressive society, blogging (provided it's not blocked by the governement) is the best way to express your anger and connect to the public...

Check it out here

~LZ

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Score one for the ladies!

I think it would be a huge exaggeration to say that women have full rights and are treated as equal and up to par with their male counterparts in society. Women are discriminated against left and right and are barely respected in some circles. Heck, some people even use science to undermine women and their creative/thinking/mental abilities.

And you certainly don't need me to tell you that the rights of women in the middle east are dismal at best. The injustices dealt to women in the middle east on a daily basis fall within a wide range of discrimination. Although some women are stronger than others and usually take woman power to a whole new level, women in general still have a lot to go in their emancipation struggle so to speak. For some countries in the middle east, it is not enough that most women have no rights at all, but some are even further discriminated against based on looks solely. Most women are used as sexual objects that are there to support their lovers' needs and when things just go awry, the woman is more times than not the victim. Some injustices are unfortunately sanctioned and supported by the "law".

However, Lebanese women (albeit one) have jumped a major hurdle towards their desire to have full rights under the law. In a recent court ruling a judge has given the right to a woman to transfer her Lebanese citizenship to her kids.
Wait, wait, WHAT?
Are you saying that a child born to a Lebanese woman can't be Lebanese unless the father is Lebanese too?
YES, that is what I'm saying, and it is a messed up law that is archaic, inhumane, unjust, unfair, sexist, discriminatory and that needs to be changed as soon as possible.

The law itself is un-constitutional, given that the constitution states that all citizens are equal in rights before the law, and this law clearly does not treat all citizens equally. And any law that violates the constitution is, well, un-constitutional. (I frankly don't know how anybody can possibly argue with that logic!) But, kidding aside, it really is un-constitutional, and everybody in Lebanon knows that even the politicians that are hesitant to change it. The fear is that if Lebanese women, and especially so those married to foreigners (read Palestinians), are given the right to transfer the Lebanese citizenship to their offspring, then a lot of Palestinians will take advantage of this and gain Lebanese citizenship that way. I personally think that that fear is unfounded, and if the law is repealed, I personally can't imaging that there will be lines and lines of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians queuing to get married. Maybe a few will gain citizenship that way, but to say that tons of Palestinians will start marrying Lebanese women just for paperwork is frankly an insult to women. How cheap do our politicians think our women are?

I think that this woman's case is an excellent example of a good and healthily functioning judicial system, even though it took a dying husband for her to get her rights, but you gotta start somewhere!

BG

Arabic Sound Bite n° 4 - Live from Paris

Hey guys!

So I don't know if any of you actually went to the concert at L'International yesterday, but I did and it was AMAZZIIINNGGG!

Sadly, we did not make it in time for Lumi (they were supposed to go on at 8pm and even for Paris that is early!) but The New Government was amazing! You can download their music for free here if you are interested: http://www.thenewgovernment.net/tngsite/index.asp

On another note, my brother was visiting me here in Paris and left for Beirut today. I decided to check to see when his plane had arrived, and was surprisingly impressed with the Beirut-Rafik AlHariri Intl Airport website. When did this get updated?


Impressed, that is, except for the slight spelling errors... :P


(click on image to enlarge)




~LZ

Photoshop, Middle Eastern style! 3

Apparently, now the Iranians are doing it too!
At least the bad ones are.

See, I told you all this doctoring things and making them up is a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean genetic thing.

It turns out, that Ahmadinejad et al. have doctored a few pictures to make the pro-establishment rally look a bit bigger than what it was supposed to be.

Here's a link with explanation and all for your enjoyment:

LINK

Link lifted from Sand Monkey.

BG

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

UPDATE-Making the Case Against Nabih Berri #2

Berri to become next parliament speaker.

With the recent support of Aoun and his clan, Berri's got the support of most members of parliament.

This is horrible.

I will now proceed to drown my sorrow at the mockery of democracy we have in Lebanon with a newly opened bottle of Grey Goose. Hey, don't be judging, it is after noon anyway!

BG

Yawn

So, is anybody surprised that an Israeli minister from the far right coalition of Yisrael Beiteinu was caught on tape slandering Arabs?

Or, is anybody surprised that Netanyahu's speech was considered by the Obama administration as a positive step forward, while actually it is only a repositioning to a previously held position that the Israeli's had retraced from, thus negating Netanyahu's speech and position as a step forward and affirming it as a return to status quo ante? (And not even that, given the many restrictions he wants to impose on any future Palestinian state.)


BG

For all you Lebanese in Paris...

If you guys are in Paris and interested in listening to some Lebanese underground bands tonight and tomorrow night, check out L'international in the 11th arrond.

Tonight The New Government and Lumi (my personal fav) are playing

Tomorrow it's Scrambled Eggs and Rayess Bek (who raps in Arabic and French)

If you want to listen to their music to see if you're into it, you can see each of their MySpace pages which is linked to from the L'international site. (Check out "Two Tears" or "Staying Here" by Lumi or "Samm" by Rayess Bek)

Entrance is free and drinks are cheap--so why not?

I'm going to be there tonight, maybe tomorrow, so see you there? :)

~LZ

Flying Kebab Episode 3

Hey guys,

Sorry been low on the updates. Brother has been in town and requires my constant attention. :P

Episode 3 of Flying Kebab titled "Forty Percent"" is now up!

Check it out here

OPens up with that band I mentioned before, Mashrou3 Leila

I also really like the closing scene of the episode which takes place in a typical Lebanese village in the mountains, reminds me of home...sigh (i'll be there is 2 weeks!)

~LZ

Monday, June 15, 2009

UPDATE-Making the Case Against Nabih Berri

With the recent endorsement of the Tashnag party and lack of a serious opposing contender, it looks like Berri is headed, unfortunately so, for a definite re-election (sigh) to the post of Parliament Speaker.

Sad, sad day indeed!

BG

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Making the case against Nabih Berri

Now that the parliamentary elections in Lebanon are over and the results have created a majority and a minority, the first order of business for the new parliament when it convenes is to elect a speaker.

Article 44 of the Lebanese Constitution stipulates the conditions of electing a Chamber of Deputies Speaker.

Each time a new Chamber is elected, the Chamber meets under the presidency of the oldest member and the secretariat or the two youngest. It will then elect separately, by a secret ballot and by an absolute majority of the votes cast, the President and the Vice President of the Chamber to hold office for the length or the Chamber's term. At the third ballot, a relative majority is sufficient. Should the votes be equal, the oldest candidate is considered elected.

The oldest member of the newly elected parliament is Abdel Latif El-Zein, elected for the region of Nabatieh, is a Shia Muslim and member of the March 8th coalition. The two youngest members are Nadim Gemayel, a Maronite, and Nayle Tueni, a Greek Orthodox, both members of the March 14th coalition and both elected in Beirut I district (Ashrafieh, Rmeil, Saife). Basically their roles are mostly ceremonial, they go around collecting secret ballots in a box and then count them.

To be elected Speaker, you must be an MP and a Shia Muslim and you must receive 2/3 or the votes of the members present. If a single candidate fails to achieve that majority of votes in the first two rounds of elections, then in the third round a simple majority suffices (1/2 the votes + 1). If two candidates get the same amount of votes then the oldest is automatically considered elected.

As things stand today, MP Nabih Berri and current Speaker is the major candidate for the new Speaker position. MP Okab Sakr, elected for the district of Zahle, has indicated that he is interested in the post of Speaker, it remains to be seen however if his interest is sincere or has any chance of materializing.

Nabih Berri has in his column at the very least the support of the following parliamentary blocs:

Amal movement bloc, 11 members
Hezbollah bloc, 13 members
Syrian Social Nationalist Party bloc, 2 members
Baath Party bloc, 2 members
Progressive Socialist Party bloc, 10 members
Michel El Murr, 1 member
And possibly anywhere between 5-10 members of independents and un-affiliated

This brings his total to 46-51 votes that he has for sure.

I personally don't think Lebanese Forces or Phalange MPs will vote for him. That's 5 MPs each.
Change and Reform bloc (Free Patriotic Movement, Marada, Tashnag and Lebanese Democratic Party) which is around 27 MPs will most likely not vote for him either. Tashnag MPs might, I'm not so sure what their position is at the moment, but I'll keep them in the NO column for now.

If this drags on into a third voting round (where only 1/2 +1 votes is needed) then Berri will win this thing easily, but if he is to win from the first two rounds of voting, he will need the support of other members of parliament or other blocs. We are left with the Future movement possibly tipping the balance here, either in his favor or against him. Although they (and by they I mean Saad El Hariri) have not come out with a decision on this, there are some rumblings going on within the Future movement against the nomination or election of Berri. Most notable of these rumblings is Ahmad Fatfat, who still has a not-so-completely-healed-wound still festering from way back when one of Berri's TV anchor ladies ever so elegantly asked when was Fatfat going to be assassinated, not knowing that her mic was hot (all this in the wake of the Eido assassination).
The support of Saad, with his 30 MPs, plus other groups within March 14th, will easily put Berri over the 86 votes he needs to win this thing. This is assuming that ALL will vote for Berri.

Unless he treads VERY carefully, he might not get the required 86 votes. Change and Reform, LF, and Phalange will make up 37 votes. Assuming all members of parliament attend the session, then 128-37 = 91.

Marwan Hamade from Jumblat's bloc has signaled he is unhappy with Berri. A few members of the Future bloc, who represent Beirut or the Sunni's might have a bone to pick with Amal invading Beirut and such.
Hamade, Fatfat, and a few grumblers could easily add up to 7 thus bringing the number of MPs voting NO or voting for another candidate to 44 or so. 128-44 = 84, less than two thirds required in the first couple rounds. This can easily torpedo his election.

One thing to really watch here is Aoun's response or decision. He knows that his 27 NO votes will not torpedo Berri's nomination, so will he actually pick that bone or not? Especially so that he butted heads with Berri in Jezzine and ended up humiliating him. In addition, he has always avoided answering whether he supported Berri for the post or not when asked by reporters. Also to consider here is the recent Ibrahim Kanaan thing on Berri's TV, Aoun might have a few things to say about that.

I personally am against a Berri re-election. For one, he has been speaker since 1992, I mean GOD, what kind of democracy is that?! Add to that the fact that he is an ex-militia leader, he is still the leader of the same group, but they are not a militia anymore. Now I understand that a lot of politicians in Lebanon have blood on their hands, but you gotta start somewhere, right? Not to mention that his Amal party took to the streets during the invasion of Beirut and contributed to the mini-war leading up to the Doha agreement. Also, his Amal party contributed to the Tent Sit-in in Central Beirut that crippled the downtown economy severely. Also, he was responsible for closing the doors of parliament for over a year to prevent the majority from voting an anti-Syrian to the presidency and to torpedo the International Court investigating the Hariri murder. And as far as I'm concerned, he just screams corruption and cronyism. Majlis el Jannoub anyone??

And on a not so serious note, I think our fashionista LZ, might have a few things to say about his sense of fashion!


BG

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Les idiots occupent nos places

This is exactly the type of situation where I am grateful that I know more than one language:

Me sitting correctly in my assigned seat on an intra-american flight minding my own business, while the plane is boarding.
Enter an overdressed American looking blonde with an estimated 1/2 kg of makeup exuding an air of confidence and entitlement, followed by a little girl around the age of 5.
Said woman stops in the middle of the isle by my seat, looks at me and proceeds to talk in my direction.

Woman (with a condescending tone): You are in our seats. (no excuse me or any sort of that kind of pleasantries)

Me: Excuse me?
Woman: These are my seats!

Woman does not wait for an answer or an explanation or a resolution to the problem and proceeds to call the hostess on the flight. The method used to call the hostess is extremely interesting.

Woman:
Hostess, hostess
Excuse me
Come over!
(woman proceeds to whistle to get the hostess's attention, followed by fingers snapping)

Little blonde girl asks her mother what is going on?

Woman (with the most horrible americanized french accent imaginable): les idiots occupent nos places

To which the little girl replies: what mommy?
Woman (using same accent): assieds toi! (which sounded more like asayeh tuwa)

At this moment, hostess arrives.

Woman: These people are in my seats! (yah, like you own them lady!)
Hostess: Let me see your boarding pass please.

Woman hands over boarding pass.

Hostess: m'am, you're seated over there, these seats are for your other flight!

Woman ignores hostess and proceeds to talk to child: allownzee

Me: bonne journee madame!

Moral of the story: 1/2 a kg of make-up looks horrible when you're embarrassingly blushing!

BG

Li2mi Zgheeri (A Little Taste...) n°8



June 7th: Lebanese Parliamentary Elections

June 11th: Battle of the Short & Chic Elie Saab Cocktail Dress


(Both equally as important)

#1. The One-Shoulder Rockstar: Actress Drew Barrymore in a teal blue one-shoulder Elie Saab dress. Long sleeve draped one-shoulder dress? That's a new take...Interesting shoe choice. Beyoncé's shoes from the image below would have gone better...



vs.

#2. 1950's Dinner Party: Beyoncé in a very chic white day dress. Very Jackie-O. She paired it very nicely with the shoes. Love the fabric hanging off the top right of the dress. How to keep this clean? Oh yes, don't wear it more than once...



So who wins this vote?


~LZ

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hot off the press! Election results in!

According to this BBC article:

"Interior Minister Ziad Baroud confirmed that the coalition led by Saad Hariri had won 71 seats in the 128-member body, one more than four years ago.

The bloc led by militant and political movement Hezbollah won 57 seats."


To see pictures of election day, click here.


The real victory? Peaceful elections. (Knock on wood)


~LZ



Friday, June 5, 2009

Naam, feena! (Yes we can!) n°3 - Speech Commentary


As promised, here is my take on Obama's speech at Cairo University yesterday.

To start off with, I have taken the actual transcript of his speech and picked out the parts I thought were most important. So if you missed the speech, can't bother to read the entire thing or just want a refresher, enjoy.

I've also taken the liberty of putting my comments in red italics between Obama's words (just like a girl over-analyzing a text message from her crush), and breaking it into an easy to follow structure.

This is the layout of the speech, set out very neatly like a high school essay:


INTRO

BODY : "Issues"
  1. Fighting violent extremism in all forms

  2. Israeli-Palestinian Situation

  3. Nuclear Weapons

  4. Democracy

  5. Religious freedom

  6. Women’s Rights

  7. Economic Development and Opportunity (proposes a Partnership)

CONCLUSION



~LZ


___


INTRO:

"More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims and a Cold War in which Muslim majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations..."

Iraq war much?

I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap and share common principles, principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings...

Applause breaks Obama had not anticipated whenever he mentions/quotes the Koran and the historical importance and influence of Islam...

And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear. But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire.

a.k.a. "We stereotype you as terrorists but you stereotype us as well."

Let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of America.

Blunt, important statement; acknowledging that Islam is an integral part of the US. Has this been done before?


And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations: to live in peace and security, to get an education and to work with dignity, to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Ok, I just had to throw this in here. This is something I have been saying for a long, long time. Republican, Democrat, Muslim, Christian, Man, Woman- we all want the same things in the end. Obama, or his speech writers, are just much more concise. I'll be stealing this if you don't mind...

Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail."

And that is a threat.


BODY: "The Issues"


1. FIGHTING EXTREMISM

It is my first duty as president to protect the American people.

a.k.a. The potential for war is not out of the question if the American people are threatened.

We plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who've been displaced.

That's why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend on.


I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no basis and no claim on their territory or resources. … That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012.


No claim on Iraqi territory?! Woohoo! Refreshing! Must watch to see if these promises are kept.

2. ISRAEL

America's strong bonds with Israel are well-known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. …Six million Jews were killed, more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless. It is ignorant, and it is hateful.


Mandatory Israel ass-kissing so speech is not seen as too pro-Muslim


3. NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Now, I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nations should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that's why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons…. And any nation, including Iran, should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Again, his aspiration for a nuclear-weapon free world. Iran can have nuclear power if it obeys intl guidelines...


4. DEMOCRACY

No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other. That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people.

America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election.


But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed, confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice, government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people, the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas. They are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere.


America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments, provided they govern with respect for all their people.


This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power. Once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others
elections alone do not make true democracy.


a.k.a. "We are not going to say that democracy is the best form of government, but it really is." And I must say that I, of course, agree.


5. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul.

This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive. But it's being challenged in many different ways. Among some Muslims, there's a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of somebody else's faith.

The richness of religious diversity must be upheld, whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt.


Lebanon shoutout!!!


6. WOMEN’S RIGHTS

I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal.

Notice how he says "chooses." Very important and subtle

But I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality.
And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well- educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Of course!

Now let me be clear, issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam.

Nice to have that said.

I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons.

I'm sorry, what? You are CONVINCED?? Really, and what made you come to that genius conviction?? Don't you have two daughters? He should have said: "It is an indisputable fact that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons." Was he trying to play it safe with his audience??

I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal. And I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice.

Freedom of choice again!

That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim- majority country to support expanded literacy for girls and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.


7. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND OPPORTUNITY

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home.

That Angelina Jolie--why is she so damn sexy??


But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradictions between development and tradition.

In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education… all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century. And in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas.

Thank you for addressing this issue. Maybe unlike the last American administration he won't just benefit financially from all the oil-money

-->PARTNERSHIP: (Plan to create bond btwn Muslims and the US)

At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students are internships in America, invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world and create a new, online network so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.
On economic development, we will create a new core of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim majority countries. And I will host a summit on entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations, and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim majority country and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops.
Today, I'm announcing a new global effort with the organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

CONCLUSION:


Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith in every country. You more than anyone have the ability to reimagine the world, the remake this world.

I'm an idealist, but I truly believe that. Screw that, I'm a realist and I believe that.


It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. It's easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is one rule that lies at the heart of every religion, that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

The Holy Quran tells us, Mankind, we have created you male and a female. And we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.

The Talmud tells us, The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.

The Holy Bible tells us, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Nice touch


Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you."

End it with God, always a crowd-pleaser

___

Overall, nothing too radical. An important reach out to the Muslim world (and he tried to hit on the Arab world instead of just the Muslim World through mentioning the Copts and Maronites). Important statement that Islam is a part of the US. Standard mandatory ass-kissing to Israel so as not to piss them off, but nothing to extreme reminiscent of the Palin-Biden "We love Israel"debate or any of Bush's speeches.

Mainly, its things that people (civilized and educated people the world over) already know and agree on, but something that needed to be said.

Some good quotes to remember Obama by.


You've heard the man. What do you think?


~LZ

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Naam, feena! (Yes we can!) n°2

US President Barack Obama speaking at Cairo University


Missed Obama's speech in Cairo?

Here is the text in full. I have yet to read it as am currently in class and should be focusing on other things, but will read soon and give my opinions.

Prefer to watch instead of read it? Watch it here

I hear he mentions the Maronites in Lebanon....


~LZ

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Naam, feena! (Yes we can!)

Guess who's in the Middle East??

Give you a hint: "____ fo you mama!"

He's in Saudi Arabia now and then heading to Cairo to make a speech at Cairo University.

Stop by the AUB on your way?

It remains to be seen how effective Obama's (oops, let it slip) Middle East policies will be, and how different they will be from his predecessors.

We here on this blog supported his appointment of George Mitchell, and this trip looks promising...but I think it definitely still remains to be seen how high Middle Eastern peace and Israel ass kissing ranks on his to-do list.


President Obama with King Abdullah in Riyadh


~LZ

Monday, June 1, 2009

Israel's Lebanon problem

With all the recent buzz in Lebanon about the seemingly crumbling Israeli intelligence gathering cells, one has to wonder if this suicide is related?

Also, one has to wonder, how come did Israel screw up so badly? The number one rule of espionage and spy networks and cells is to keep them separated at all cost. Over 20 people in Lebanon have been arrested and most so far have been charged with spying for Israel. Also, most have been from different networks or cells.

Could the Israelis have screwed up so badly?
If so, this has got to be the biggest blunder by any military in the world. Maybe they got really cocky and thought that Lebanon was too weak or dumb to discover any of their tracks.

This has so many similarities to the "Mirage" incident Lebanon had with the Soviet Union (the soviets were trying to steal a mirage airplane from Lebanon to study and had recruited a Lebanese pilot and paid him huge amounts of money to fly the fighter jet out of Lebanon, but ignored the capacity of the Lebanese intelligence services, known as deuxieme bureau [maktab el tani], against the might of the soviet power. They got busted of course, and the case is now taught in most intelligence agencies worldwide as an example to not take anything lightly or up to chance in the business of espionage.)

If all this is true, and I suspect it is (yes, for once I don't think my government is lying to me), then this severely ties Israel's hands with regards to its' next adventure or chapter in Lebanon.

Still intrigued by the suicide though and possible connections?

BG

Li2mi Zgheeri (A Little Taste...) n°7

Jordana Brewster, American actress from "The Fast and the Furious", in Reem Acra




Interesting choice of having that leather jacket covering up half the dress. And metallic fabric? Really? I have to say the top one is not a favorite..

The second purple dress looks beautiful on the model, not so much on Jordana--it was definitely custom-tailored for her. It loses the wavey folds on the bottom and becomes pretty simple and not too special. Whereas the original looks grecian, Jordana's loses that element.

Sorry Reem :(


~LZ