Saturday, January 31, 2009

Baba Saab & Mama Acra

Paris Fashion week is going on! (And wouldn't you know it, right before I head off to Paris myself!)

I called Elie Saab and asked him to postpone his fashion show for a few days until I get there, but he apologized, something about finding another venue in time....

Anyway, even though I couldn't go, doesn't mean no one did. (Shocking, I know) Kanye West, actress Mischa Barton and glamour girl Dita von Teese were all there representin' for me:

To see a slideshow of his dresses from the runway show, go here:

Also, just to keep you updated on who's been recently wearing my 2 favorite designers:

Actress January Jones from Mad Men in Elie Saab

Actress Gabrielle Union in Reem Acra

Mischa Barton in Elie Saab at the Elie Saab fashion show in Paris

Angelina Jolie in Reem Acra

Maybe Reem and Elie will see this and take pity on me and send me a dress? Or how bout you two just adopt me? Please?!

Reem, Elie--i love you!


Friday, January 30, 2009

Take THAT Shimon Peres!

You MUST watch this!!! (It's very short, I promise!)

Watch the Turkish PM (my new favorite person--maybe not wise since I know nothing else about him, but my new favorite person nonetheless) stick it to Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Peres tries to make some retarded and so-ridiculously-untrue-I-don't-even-know-how-to-begin-debating-it argument that Israel only retaliates and is never the aggressor and that overall (as in EVER) Palestinians have killed several thousand Israelis, and it makes no difference that that was over a 60-year period whereas Israel did JUST that in 20-odd days.

Good argument Peres, I'm guessing you weren't on your high school debate team

Can you believe they wouldn't let the Turkish PM speak?? I LOVE his exit!

You go Recep Tayyip Erdoğan!!!! (That would be his name...)


Married at puberty?

There is this interesting program that is broadcast by LBCI called "Ahmar bil khat el 3areed" which roughly translates to "Red in bold font or handwriting" which is used to signify the taboo of subjects that this program ends up discussing. I don't get LBCI at my house so I unfortunately can't follow the program but I do every once in a while catch a few clips on youtube.
A recent episode was discussing the subject of homosexuality. I have not seen the entire episode, so I can't speak as to if I was favorable of the way they handled the subject or not, but a small clip available on youtube caught my attention.

You can find it here:

In this clip, a doctor (it is not apparent from the clip what kind of doctor he is) gives his opinion and solution (as if it were a problem to start off with) to the matter. So, of course there is the normal diatribe against gays: this is "shaz" or aberrant/pervert behavior, behavior that is outside the "normal" and so on and so forth.
His reasoning for the existence of homosexuality is that people in arab countries have these repressed sexual desires that they cannot fulfill with people of the opposite sex and thus end up looking at options with people of the same sex. Then he proceeds to give a solution. He postulates that the only solution is early marriage. He goes on to say that society should instate that early marriage thing as a solution. If people "knew" that they will definitely be married by the age of 20-21 then they will not even "think" of indulging in "wrong behavior" even just to "experiment" and this way you will ban them from "perversion".

Yep, that's right. Genius, why haven't people thought of this before? That's exactly how things happen. When I was growing up, sometime after puberty I had decided that marriage was too far away and that because I can't get married right away, then I should start messing around with guys, you know, just because I was sexually repressed. Maybe if my mom had assured me of marriage when I was growing up, I wouldn't have turned out to be gay. Argh, does anybody else find this stupid? I hate it when people try to shove down your throat what they think is right. Why can't people be left alone to run their own lives. How about that for a solution? Stay out of my business, and I'm sure as hell ain't getting involved in yours, especially not if you are that retard of "Dr." who still lives in the dark ages.

Equally disturbing is people's opinions on the matter. A short movie about what people would do if they found out that one of their close ones was gay is appaling. Reactions range anywhere from I'll kill them to I'll shun them. One guy had a favorable opinion and was barely broadcast for a microsecond.

The creme de la creme goes to the woman who says: allah la yjaribna, roughly translated to "may god not test us" in making one of her close ones gay. Like its a disease or something.


Get some bobcorrn out....

No plans this friday/saturday night? (don't lie, it's ok)

Things going slow at work?

Care to watch some movies/documentaries?

Well, I've got 4 for you, and best part? They're completely free! Yeh! (Come on ppl, we're in a recession--who can pay $12 to go to the movies anymore??)

First is the very popular 'Waltz with Bashir.' I know other bloggers have been posting ways to get it through torrent, but I'd like to not download a virus and crash my 625th computer thank you very much (also, i probably just wouldn't know how to work it) so here's a site where you just click a link and 'voila!', you watch!

I haven't actually seen the movie yet so can offer no opinion on it, i can say however that i wish the Israeli director would have made some comment on the genocide going on in Gaza when he accepted his speech, instead of making EXACT SAME SPEECH (did he think no one would notice?) at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice awards (To see it at the Golden Globes - fast forward to 4:13 - ) about the babies born on set instead of the ones dying in Gaza as he accepted his award--I guess that would be too much to ask, but it would have been a very nice, humane touch.

Anyway, enough chatter, to watch 'Waltz with Bashir':


Now, moving on to #2. The following was recommended to me by a very close friend studying journalism. It's by American journalist (as per my father, "one of the last great journalists" and "in a league of his own") Bill Moyers, titled "Buying the War". Its about how the international media completely screwed up in doing its due diligence on Iraq and WMDs, and how that was allowed to happen. The main question asked is: "How did the evidence disputing the existence of WMDs and the link between Saddam Hussein to 9-11 continue to go largely unreported?" Though I personally think that question could be better worded (ironically, at 1st glance it makes it seem as if Moyers is implying a link btwn Hussein and 9-11) my friend RAVED about this documentary, so watch it for free here:
(If for some reason that's not working for you, type in "Bill Moyers" and "Buying the War" into

You know what, that's quite a lot to take in, and since I don't want to overwhelm you with info (and actually think you should take the time to watch these) i'll save the 2 other movies for another posting in a few days.

Enjoy, and please let me know your thoughts once you do watch them!


Thursday, January 29, 2009


So this whole idea of promoting a better middle east and letting democracy reign from the euphrates to the jordan rivers and all that bushism talk has really done the region more harm than good. And it certainly does not help at all that the region and the arab and muslim street are boiling with anger right now especially after all what has been going on in Gaza.
People are becoming more extreme and more fundamental and are harboring bigger and bigger animosities and hatred to Israel/America/Western countries. Peace seems even more of long shot than it was years ago, or even a month ago before the Gaza offensive.
Even countries that had been at peace with Israel or had normal relations with it have become more and more critical.
Along the lines of that, check out Turkey's PM's response to "not being given the right to respond" to Israel's Peres over at Davos:

Also on a funnier note, check out the newest of the new fads in town, the infamous shoe:

You gotta love these guys.

I highly appreciate and respect Erdogan's actions. Kudos for somebody to finally stand up to Israeli bias.

I can't say the same about the shoe. As an art and sculpture lover, I think that thing is an abomination. However, I assure you that the imagery is not lost on me, and I can see how this is important to some Iraqis. I can however say that I am glad the ugliness is at least green. I think it was a good idea (aesthetically of course) to have trees coming out of it.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Salmonella maybe?

It seems that these pesky relations between Lebanon and Syria can't seem to come to an end. They have basically perfused every single little crevice of detail between the two countries. What should have been a totally normal and fun football game (or soccer as we call it here in americaland) turned into a tense game where accusations where flying high at the end. Apparently the Syrian team was mistreated by their Lebanese counterparts, with a few members ending up in the hospital for alleged food poisoning, which I might add was found "highly suspicious" by the Syrian modern reincarnation of Ibn Sina. Instead of the normal "rouh riyadiye" (sport spirit) we might end up with some people's rouh's, as in lives, somehow, mysteriously being lost, and again Syria of course having nothing to do with it. Although that is a very far fetched idea by any long stretch of the imagination, I wouldn't be surprised if this story puts a dent in the already strained bilateral relations.

You can find the relevant sports article at the Asian Football Federation's website at the following link:

The accusatory statements by the Syrian team can be found at the following link:

The best part about this whole debacle is that the Lebanese authorities promised a fast and full investigation. Hehe.

Does anybody else find this laughable?

I think the words Lebanese, promised, fast, full and investigation never ever belong in the same sentence, no matter what the combination.


Introducing....Cedar Island!!

Oh yes, Lebanon is about to get just a little big larger! No Israel is not giving us back the Shabaa Farms, no, no, even better--get this, we're going to BUILD MORE LAND! IN THE SHAPE OF A CEDAR!!! Genius, no??? When every known Lebanese male is an engineer, you think we would have thought of this earlier!

Don't believe me, check out the official site for the project right here:
Also, read this very funny and very true blog comparing Lebanon to Dubai (that built the Palm Jebel Ali resort) in the wake of the Cedar Project:

And finally, look at this blog to see a funny take on which "Cedar" (Ouwet, Kateib, national flag, AUB...) the proposed Island actually resembles...

May I propose Islands in the shape of a Phonecian man next?

This is my architectural rendering, if anyone would like to finance this project, please email:

(That orange thing is a fish, just fyi)


Monday, January 26, 2009

Lebanon the Teacher

Georgian Deputy Premier apparently thinks he can learn a lot from Lebanon. In a recent visit to Lebanon he says that Lebanon can teach his country a lot of lessons especially when it comes to the relations Lebanon has with its neighboring countries. You can find the article at the following link:

The idea to me sounds very funny. Lebanon teaching other countries lessons or even being an example to follow. Sure thing. In addition to exporting our best and brightest to foreign countries maybe we should also be exporting our failed models of democracy on confessional rule. Or maybe our model of co-existence and peace and love and harmony amongst all of our 18 different sects. See, we love each other so much that every couple years or so we take at each other's throats. I mean, what says I love you more than a full round of AK47 bullets. Or maybe our failed model of governance and corruption and continuous negative budget and so on and so forth.
If anything, any country seeking to learn things from Lebanon, should learn to never ever follow Lebanon's lead, especially when it comes to relations with neighboring countries.


Only in Lebanon...

BabaGannouj sent me the link to this maybe a week ago, and in case you haven't already seen it, I thought I'd share.

Apparently, BBC reporter Darius Bazargan was going to report another story in Beirut when he caught this beauty on tape on the autostrade:

I thought the police were starting to try to crack down on people for speeding, not wearing the seat belt and tinted windows, but this is ok?? What happens if they have to stop at an Army checkpoint---the driver lowers his window, turns down his music, says "Allahy aweek" then the soldier looks into the car, nods and signals to let him continue but takes a step back to avoid being hit by the cow's head??

I guess there's worse things to worry about in Lebanon than a cow in the back seat....but still


Return of the Phoenix...Returning again

As surmised before, the Rahbani brothers' "Return of the Phoenix" playing at Casino du Liban has been extended. You can buy tickets for Jan. 29, 30, 31 and Feb. 1, and the Casino du Liban site says it will be playing up until the 27th of February. (Actually, it's very possible it was not extended and that Virgin only sells tickets up to a certain date...haha, oh well, point is, it's playing longer than initially stated)

Buy tix here:

Has anyone seen it and can give us an opinion?

I know it stars Ghassan Saliba, often the star of Rahbani plays. I love his song "Watani By3arifni" or "My country knows me" to be quite literal, which you can listen to here:

Unfortunately, it's not the official video, I don't know if anyone can find it, but the official video was quite bad and involved one of the Rahbani brothers (Usama?) playing the piano on a beach and Ghassan in some odd traditional Lebanese outfit--I thought it should have been a much better touristic plug for Lebanon, but oh well, maybe they had a time/budget crunch? Meanwhile, i'll try to find the video, but you should listen to the song, its really nice.


Friday, January 23, 2009

The Jews of Lebanon...all 2 of them

I was surfing the web at work as I usually do, and I stumbled across a website for the Jews of Lebanon:

Talk about a nice website!! Also like the nice addition of Fairuz singing in the background.

I was reading the site and it seems as if there are solid plans to renovate the Maghan Avraham synagogue, which is the oldest synagogue in Beirut (built in 1925), and not to turn them into museums, but rather, for them to remain as functioning synagogues..should be very interesting.

See a very good article on NOW Lebanon from nearly a year ago about this synagogue: . It follows a sad story of an old Lebanese Jewish woman under the Alias of 'Liza" who just wants to be accepted as Lebanese.
Also, wiki has a good article on the synagogue here:

Apparently, Rafik Al Hariri had plans to renovate the synagogue and surround it with a garden before his assassination. Also, "In 1991, due to mass emigration of Lebanese Jews into foreign countries, only two Jews remained in Wadi Abu Jimail Street, and with a population of around sixty, the community more or less ceased to exist." I love how the article claims that precisely 2 Jews remained...haha..shows how small Lebanon is for you. Also, there's a bit on ancient Torah Scrolls that were sent from Lebanon to Geneva in 1976 for safe keeping, so check it out.

And, the lesser known Deir El Qamar synagogue built in the 17th century:

I really hope that these synagogues are restored and opened to the public. Unfortunately, there are so many within Lebanon that blindly hate Jews (and with Israel's incessant hostility and the facts that the vast majority have never met an actual Jew in their life this is somewhat [and i say that hesitantly] understandable) that i worry someone would try to prevent renovation or attempt to cause damage once/if renovation is complete..

But could you imagine what it would mean for Lebanon to have synagogues? I would imagine that it would be the only Arab country tolerant/modern enough to accept to have a synagogue, that is, of course, provided they do actually get restored...

One last link, check out a panoramic video of the synagogue here:


Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Daily Star Stops Shining

Sad news, the Daily Star, Lebanon's only English language newspaper, has just shutdown due to bankruptcy.

Read about it here:

According to wiki:
Since 2009, January 14th the website hasn't been updated, also printed issues have not been seen. There is a rumor that the publication has been suspended.

I've always hated their site ( , so unorganized and filled with adverts, but still, very sad to see it go. However, something is bound to spring up in it's place, or someone will buy it and start it up again--or maybe print media is just on its way out? Even the NYTimes is having trouble. Originally Lebanese, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helou lost $50million in NYT stock, but apparently is planning on buying more ($250 million worth) to save the company from bankruptcy.

Maybe someone should tell him to buy the Daily Star? Should be significantly cheaper...


Good Old Qaddafi

Good old Qaddafi, always good for a laugh.

In a video conference with Georgetown University students yesterday, he gave the world some great quotes to remember him by:

Apparently, Israeli's and Palestinians should live in a united state called "Isratine." Creative, huh?

Oh, and the US & Obama should give Osama bin Laden a chance to apologize

"I think Osama bin Laden is a person who can be given a chance...Maybe he wants peace."

Hey, everybody deserves a second chance. Maybe his chants of "Death to Amreeka!" really spoke of a sad, lonely childhood and his own lack of self-confidence?

My favorite?

"If you want to preserve this group, the Jews as an ethnic group, Palestine is not really the right place. The Middle East is a sea of Arabs...Take them to Alaska or Honolulu or the Hawaiian islands or the Pacific islands and they can live peacefully in an isolated setting."

Genius! Why didn't we think of that earlier?? All the jews can just move to Honolulu! What's not to like? Sunshine, beautiful beaches, coconut bras?? Who wants the Holy Land anyway?

If only he'd thought of this in 1948....


Lebanese American Appointed Envoy to MidEast by Obama

The 75-year old George J. Mitchell has been appointed Middle East Envoy by Obama.

Apparently, he's known for being fair and neutral.

An American with Lebanese roots? Not bad Obama.

According to the NYTimes:

"Other Middle East specialists said Sunday that if Mr. Mitchell was named to the job, he would be seen by both sides as a tougher but more balanced negotiator than recent envoys, which could make some Israelis nervous. Mr. Mitchell has Lebanese as well as Irish roots: his father, Joseph Kilroy, was an orphan adopted by a Lebanese family whose Arabic name had been anglicized to Mitchell, and Mr. Mitchell was raised a Maronite Catholic by his Lebanese mother."

Wonder what the original Arabic last name was?

Also, hilarious that a "more BALANCED negotiator" would makes the Israelis nervous...think about that for a second

To read the full article from Jan. 18:


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts on Bush on his final day

So Bush is gone.
Obama is in.
Change is always good especially when it's for the better. I am sure that there probably aren't a lot of people that will miss Bush and his many mistakes in office. From his double wars in the middle east to his Katrina fumbles to the economic crisis and many many more issues that he will surely be blamed for.
One thing though that Bush has done that will leave a huge positive impact and legacy is his AIDS initiative, and I for one am very proud of our American AIDS global initiative. It has to be in my opinion one of the few things that Bush did right, if not the ONLY one.
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, has donated more than 15 BILLION dollars for HIV/AIDS global initiatives. This initiative has brought antiretroviral drugs (the HIV virus is a retroviral virus, thus the name) to millions and millions of people that are infected and this has made their lives tremendously better. These medications have the ability to prolong someones life, or even keep the virus at bay and prevent infections from becoming lethal full blown AIDS. This makes a huge difference in the lives of poor people and poor people in poor countries. People that live longer can contribute to their societies longer and are around to raise their families and be productive members of society.
I think Bush's spending of billions of dollars to people that actually need it is going to be his biggest and most important legacy. Who knows, maybe one day this will overshadow his many other mistakes and shed some positive light on a very controversial presidency.


Barack Hussein Obama's Inaugural Speech

I, like many Americans, was stuck in work today as the inauguration took place in DC. No matter, I watched the inauguration speech live on my computer, and had the freedom to tear up privately in my closet of an office.

Listening to the speech, for the first time since I can remember, I felt hopeful and excited about the future of this country, about the good that it can do, about the transformation I hope is about to take place.

Yes, I teared up, right about the time he spoke about corruption, where was it--here: "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. "

He's promised quite a lot, quite a lot, and it may be too much. But I believe that he is an honorable, intelligent, just man, and with such a man at its head, I think America can truly flourish.

Another favorite:

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. "

We definately just witnessed history in the making, undoubtedly a speech that will be quoted over and over again in the future, just like JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

I'm excited to see what the next 4 years will bring.


Inaugural address Part 2:

Jan. 20, 2009

My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.
They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.
We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cease fire my behind.

Israel declared today a one-sided cease fire for its horrible genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
Here's the link:

PM Ehud Olmert goes on to say that they have achieved all their objectives set at the beginning of the war and that they will keep their troops in Gaza for the time being and pull out whenever they see fit. He goes on to say that Israel will respond with force to any further Hamas rocket fire or activity. I don't know about you but to me this seems like a declaration of of intent to continue all hostilities in the Gaza strip. Israel knows damn well that it has not achieved any objectives: rocket fire still falls on Israel by the day and Hamas still operates freely in Gaza. They might have leveled to the ground half of the buildings of Gaza but this is a far cry from "getting rid of Hamas infrastructure". Israel also knows damn well that Hamas will not tolerate any presence of Israeli troops in Gaza and will continue to shell Israel with rockets as long as the occupation persists and the the land/sea/air blockade continues.

All of this looks like a very lousy Israeli excuse to continue their hostilities in Gaza by claiming that Hamas does not want peace or a cease fire. It is clear to me that they just want to play the victim or the nice guy by claiming that even after they were being super nice to stop killing innocent civilians, Hamas was the instigator yet again and thus they have to fight on and kill more people, but have it slightly justified by a crappy one-sided stupid cease fire.

The Israelis at it again with their victim mentality obsession.

On a different note, it seems that the Israelis are preparing for their next mass murder campaign:

So get your popcorn and sit back and relax. The next episode in the bloody mess that is the middle east is soon to go on the air.


Speak of the Devil

BabaGannouj sent me a link to a CNN article from today that relates to yesterday's post.

In it, it describes the top Saudi Cleric, the grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh who has refused to annul the marriage of an 8-year old girl to her father's 47-year old friend. Apparently, the father gave his daughter to his friend in order to settle some debt he had with him.

I'll let you reflect on that for a second. A father gave up his 8 year old daughter, a man who was nearly 40 years old when she was born, so that he could settle some debt.

And the wonderful Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh refused to annul the marriage. Why, you may ask. Well, he gives us a perfectly logical reason: "It is incorrect to say that it's not permitted to marry off girls who are 15 and younger. A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she's too young are wrong and they are being unfair to her."

WOW. We are being "unfair to her" because we think it is wrong, it is animalistic, it is perverted for an 8-year old to marry ANYONE, let alone a 47-year old man.

What business does an 8-year old have in being married?? Is she in love? NO. Is she prepared to be a wife? NO. Can she run a household as she is bound to do there? NO. Can she give her 47-year old husband companionship?? NO. WHAT CAN AN 8-YEAR OLD POSSIBLY GIVE HIM?? We all know what the answer is, but is too disgusting to say.

When you're 8, you should be going to school, playing with your friends, having your parents take care of you and teach you about life. Not according to the grand mufti of Saudi.

I don't think I need to evaluate this ludacris statement any further. But what is truly troubling is that this practice is not only accepted in Saudi, it is far from rare. What is troubling is that the Grand Mufti thinks it is perfectly normal for little, innocent girls to get married.

But, you know what, maybe i'm being a little harsh on these guys. At least the judge "required the girl's husband to sign a pledge that he would not have sex with her until she reaches puberty." Maybe he's not such a bad guy after all. If the husband waits, she'll be...let's see.....12 years old approx. when she has sex?

Excuse me as I go throw up. Thank god I live in the US where people who even look at pictures of naked children are locked up in jail.

And all I can do is sit here and write this and pray for those little girls who are forced to give up their childhoods and their innocence.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Reflections on 1,000 Splendid Suns

I just finished reading Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns." (Who? That guy that wrote the Kite Runner. Oh, him? He wrote something else? Yeh)

The book starts off I think in 1978 and follows the lives of 2 girls. But what I found the most interesting was though it starts off in 1978, it works its way up to 2001 and beyond, all the while describing Afghanistan. And you see the transformation that Afghanistan went through--and that is amazingly striking/depressing. In 1978 (under the communists) it was more or less liberal, with women in school, walking around the streets unveiled, etc, etc, but then once the Taliban came in, it went completely backwards in time a couple of centuries. Women became the equivalent of animals, not allowed to go out unless with a male relative, forced to wear the burqa, forget about education, forced to go to inferior hospitals just for women, singing was banned, LAUGHING was banned---and the best part? The Taliban claimed that this was all in the name of God.

This just gets me.

"Be decent women, cover yourself, don't laugh, you are inferior to men." Why? Because God says so.

How dare you? How dare you do all these horrible, unthinkable, unjust, immoral, inhumane, hypocritical things and dare claim that it is in the name of God?????

So I have to say, even though I am fully against the War in Iraq and Bush and all that jazz, the US invading Afghanistan and getting rid of the Taliban is something I fully support.

Just something I felt like getting off my chest. I'd recommend you read the book; though I didn't love it, the fact that women in Afghanistan were living like THAT at the same exact time I was living a completely different live in the US is really eye opening. Also the thought that people still live like that today (Saudi is the obvious example but there are many others) is infuriating.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Death of the Phoenix

As most of you know by now, the Lebanese legend Mansour Rahbani died yesterday at the Hotel Dieu, Lebanon at age 83 of pneumonia.

His last play, the "Return of the Phoenix" is currently playing at the Casino du Liban. I heard from some friends who saw it that it was amazing, and recommend you to see it. You can buy tickets online at:

Also, probably in the Virgin Megastore or at the Casino du Liban where it is playing. It is playing Jan. 17, 18, 21, 22 and 24. Who knows if they will extend it in wake of Rahbani's passing?

~ LZ

Olmert on the phone

According to Olmert (Israeli PM) himself, when he gets on the phone and dials Bush, the latter better pick up, even if he was in the middle of a speech. He does not care, he just wants to chat. Chat about what? Well apparently he just wanted to tell Bush to tell Condi to abstain from voting on the UNSCR that was passed calling for an immedieate ceasefire in the middle east. To add pain to injury, he proceeds to mock Condi and how she was left embarrassed at the end of this UN debacle.

And who said Israel had too much power in Washington or at the UN?
That's nonsense!

The UN solely exists for the security of Israel?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"So long, farewell, auf weidersehen goodbye!"

With the inauguration coming up on Jan. 20th, most Americans (apparently 73%) cannot wait for Bush to get the hell out of the White House.

According to an interesting BCC article by Kim Ghattas (prob. Lebanese) there nevertheless are a slim few who will shed a few tears (not of happiness) as Bush steps down.

Who are these fools, you might ask?

Bush and his biggest fans

Well, obviously Israel which"is probably the only place on earth where Bush can still get a standing ovation" and surprisingly enough, some in Lebanon will be sad to see Bush go after his support for the 'Cedar Revolution', though his unwavering support of Israel in the 2006 War kind of supersedes the former in my opinion.

Check out the article here:


Monday, January 12, 2009

Lebanese Designers on the Red Carpet

Who watched the Golden Globes last night?? I definitely did--who thinks Leo and Kate should be a real life couple? I mean he had tears in his eyes when she won--and what's up with her fugly husband?? (

Anyway, if you tuned in early to watch the red carpet and see who was wearing what, you may have noticed that Lebanese designers Reem Acra and Elie Saab made more than one appearance:

Rumer Willis (Miss Golden Globes) in Reem Acra:

Olivia Wilde (from House) in Reem Acra:

Eva Longoria in Reem Acra:

Laura Linney in Elie Saab:

And Beyonce, who ALWAYS wears Elie, in Elie Saab:

Not a bad night for the Lebanese, eh?


Insomnia much?

When you're up all night and aren't able to sleep, your mind goes into overdrive mode and you start thinking of every possible thing that crosses your mind. Which, I might add, adds to the entire problem of not being able to sleep and further delays your ability to fall asleep.

But a positive outcome of all of this is the fact that you end up thinking of a lot of things. And I've decided that the feeling of "being let down" or the feeling of "being betrayed" by someone has got to be the worst feeling ever. When you give something your all and pour a lot of energy into it and barely get anything back or are not treated back in the same manner you really end up feeling so let down, and that feeling is just terrible.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The NY Times has an article on their website today that recommends the top 44 places to visit in 2009, and to my surprise and I might add excitement, Beirut TOPS the list at #1. It's really good to have Lebanon and Beirut in particular back on the international list of cities to visit and enjoy. You can filter your choices more by categories and Beirut is recommended for Luxury, Foodie and Party. This is great! I recommend you read the article and I have provided a link below.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wanna Play??

So who wants to play?
Well, somebody feels left out of this carnage that's been going on in the middle east.
"Someone" (so far un-identified) has launched a few rockets into northern Israel from southern Lebanon. No claims of responsibility so far and plenty of denials by hezbollah that they had anything to do with it. Even Israel is saying it's not hezbollah. Could the Israelis be chickening out of a 2006 repeat? Nasrallah in a recent speech has promised them that if they think of attacking Lebanon then 2006 will be a "walk in the park" compared to what he has in store for them (you gotta admit the guy is good with theatricals).

All I can say is that I hope that Lebanon is not dragged into this "Risk" game that's been going on. I think one crucial thing that a lot of actors in the middle east forget about is that if you wanna play with the big guys, you better have big guns.


This has got to be one of my favorite articles on BBC today.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Do you ever wonder what your blogging/online activity trends are?

Well, I never wondered, but today has been a very slow day at work, so I clicked on "Trends" in my google reader, not even knowing what that is anyway. If you have google reader, I recommend you do that.
Apparently my peak reading times are around 1PM. And the day I read the most of my blog subscriptions is Wednesday. I wonder if that's because as the week passes by, my interest in doing work goes down, and thus I spend more time online.
This is not to say that all these things are accurate. Google reader says I have zero shared or emailed items, but I usually shower my friends with emails and links. But I have the tendency to just copy the link and send it by email, for some reason I don't trust these share/email links to send the information I want to send.
I trust email though, weird.

Monday, January 5, 2009


My good friend N convinced me that I should start my own blog.
I will try to voice my opinion on many subjects.
This will not be a daily thing.

I'm BabaGannouj, originally from Lebanon, currently living in the US.