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.


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.


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.


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