Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gay marriage in Lebanon? For the first time on Arabic TV station.

New TV dedicated a show to the issue of gay marriage in Lebanon and hosted two men who want to get married (and they appeared on the screen, without any disguise).  Unfortunately, and like US TV shows dealing with serious issues, the matter was totally sensationalized and not dealt with professionally.  Here is my critique of the show itself (if anyone wishes to translate, let me know). 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What kind of society produces physicians who will supervise waterboarding and “rectal feeding,” or psychologists

"We are a nation whose constitutional commitment to high-flown Enlightenment ideals is undermined by a vein of mendacity that too often makes the whole enterprise feel like an elaborate self-delusion. We have long been such a nation, maybe from the beginning. By day, Thomas Jefferson wrote passionate and glorious prose about the rights of man; by night, he pursued his manly privilege in the slave quarters." "What kind of society produces physicians who will supervise waterboarding and “rectal feeding,” or psychologists who spin the supervision of a secret torture program into an $80 million government contract? What ideal of America is being preserved by such methods, and will it bear their mark forever?" (thanks Amir)

BDS matters by Joseph Massad

Comarde Joseph: "Denmark’s parliament and the European Parliament itself are the latest bodies set to consider votes guaranteeing Israel’s survival in its present form within the 1948 boundaries only. Even neutral Switzerland agreed, upon a request from the PA, to host a meeting of signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention to discuss the 1967 Israeli occupation only. Expectedly, in addition to the Jewish settler-colony, the world’s major settler colonies — the United States, Canada, and Australia — are opposed to the meeting and will not attend.

These moves are unfolding as international support for the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has begun an accelerated move to the mainstream in the US and Western Europe. Academic associations calling for support for BDS include the Association for Asian American Studies, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the American Studies Association and the American Anthropological Association (which voted to defeat an anti-BDS resolution).

An exception is MESA, the Middle East Studies Association, whose members most recently voted to grant themselves the right to debate BDS, and in the process unwittingly granted the Zionists one full year to lobby and prepare to defeat a BDS resolution on which members may be asked to vote next year."

When yellow Israeli media, like Haaretz, publishes stories without sources about Hizbullah

Look at the verifiable and reliable sources: "Reports from Lebanon say that Hezbollah’s internal security forces have uncovered a high-ranking agent working for Israel’s espionage and intelligence agency.  According to the reports...."  Of course, the name of the writer is the token Arab in the paper, and he does not mention that the "reports" were published "exclusively" in Saudi and Hariri websites.

What the PA buffoon found to be refreshing

"After the meeting broke, a witness recalled that Rice scolded Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator: “You fucking Palestinians can never see the fucking big picture,” she said.
Not everyone is fazed by Rice’s crude language. Martin Indyk, the special U.S. envoy for the Middle East who was at that meeting, didn’t blink. “I found it refreshingly candid, and Erekat did too,” he told Newsweek. “But I can imagine others might find it startling and potentially offensive.” (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Presidency of AUB: an update

I received a letter from Leila Fawaz in which she tells me that she was indeed nominated for the presidency of AUB but that she notified the search firm that she is not interested in the job. 

machismo and House of Saud

An article by a Saudi dissident about machismo, marriage and House of Saud.

Who tortured you?

This cartoon is by Lebanese artist, Sa`d Haju.  It shows Muhammad `Abdul Wahab singing a classic sing titled "Who Tormented You" (but the word in Arabic can be translated also as "tortured").  

Arab media under strict orders

Today, I woke up: looked at the Arabic papers and news sites. Found that all are running the same theme: that the Russian economy is not only "in shambles" (as US media have been describing the Iranian economy for the last three decades) but that it has collapsed.  Does that mean that Arab media receive the same marching orders? Would that mean that you are a conspiracy theorist if you believe that? You bet, proudly.

Grading

Grading and grading. When does it end, when?

Center for combating atheism in Saudi Arabia

This is what the US government calls real reform: the House of Saud launches a center to combat atheism in the Kingdom. (thanks Mariam)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The head of Red Cross defends Israeli war crimes

"But it appears that publicly, the ICRC and de Maio were very happy to come to Israel’s defense at a conference dedicated chiefly to defending Israel’s actions."

Sultan Qaboos in the New Yorker

This is such a hagiography.  There is no mention of the savage crushing of the revolt in Dhofar, and there is nothing the brutal tactics of the regime and there is nothing about the secret US bases.

winning more hearts and minds

"In November 2002, a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to the floor died, apparently from hypothermia. This case appears similar to the that of Gul Rahman, who died of similarly explained causes at an Afghan site known as the “Salt Pit,” also in November 2002. The site was also called “The Dark Prison” by former captives." "The aide said that the Cobalt site was was dark, like a dungeon," "At the Cobalt facility, the CIA also forced some detainees who had broken feet or legs to stand in stress-inducing positions," "At least five detainees were subjected to “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration,” without any documented medical need. “While IV infusion is safe and effective,” one officer wrote, rectal hydration could be used as a form of behavior control." "CIA officers threatened to harm detainees’ children, sexually abuse their mothers, and “cut [a detainee’s] mother’s throat.” "Officers in the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program included individuals who the committee said, “among other things, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.” "

at least 54 governments cooperated with these CIA activities. Twenty-one of those are European

"According to information compiled by Open Society Foundations, at least 54 governments cooperated with these CIA activities. Twenty-one of those are European, of which 17 were at the time members – or soon to become members – of the European Union. In addition to the countries above, the list of European states that were complicit in CIA rendition flights and other unlawful activities includes Lithuania (there are strong indications that this country also had a “black site”), the UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania."

Media role in torture

"The U.S. media – beyond what I explained above (most would not even call it “torture”) - played a central role in first obscuring, then justifying, the Bush torture regime to the public. One of the most extreme examples was this Joe Klein column in The Guardian viciously mocking those who claimed the U.S. was torturing detainees" Liberal journalist Jonathan Alter wrote a Newsweek column expressly demanding that the U.S. Government use torture," "Does anyone at all have any difficulty seeing why few people outside the U.S. media take seriously the lectures of the Leader of the Free World?"

Below are 11 ways in which the CIA's techniques were worse than the body ever admitted

"Below are 11 ways in which the CIA's techniques were worse than the body ever admitted." "The report says enhanced interrogation techniques went on for days, and even weeks. People were kept awake for 180 hours; other prisoners were waterboarded in episodes that became “series of near drownings”. At least seven prisoners were force-fed through the rectum. Prisoners were threatened with sexual abuse and were told their families would be harmed."

BDS victory in Belgium

From a reader: ""The Belgian city council of Molenbeek voted to exclude businesses active in the Israeli occupation of Palestine in its bid for surveillance cameras, reports the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB)."

Molenbeek: premier boycott d'entreprises actives dans les territoires occupés palestiniens

Israel began stealing Lebanon's oil 7 years ago

"Israel has been dipping into Lebanon’s offshore oil and gas reserves for years, Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Musawi warned Sunday, days after Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri made a similar statement." "Musawi said that Israel has been violating 860 square kilometers of “Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone,” noting that the violation has yet to receive a governmental response that would allow Lebanon to reclaim the area."

A war created by the US and Hollwyood Dharfur groupies

"War in South Sudan is worsening with "extreme violence" and growing hunger, rights groups warned Monday,"

"West protects dictators while screaming about democracy"

"In reality, the British base’s main job won’t be to prop up the Bahraini regime, but to help protect the entire network of dictatorial Gulf governments that sit on top of its vast reserves of oil and gas – and provide a springboard for future interventions across the wider Middle East. British troops never really left the region and have been part of one intervention after another. The US itself controls an archipelago of military bases across the Gulf: in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the UAE, as well as Bahrain." (tanks Amir)

Fareed Zakaria, challenged

"ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about the general idea of this kind of critique, you know, because a lot of people watching might wonder, you yourself have admitted that you did attend -- witnessed some terrorist training camps or camps at which Mujahideen likes were trained. You moved your family to live in the Taliban regime -- in Taliban of Afghanistan.   And so, you know, it seems odd for somebody who seems to have sympathy for regimes that were brutal in terms of their oppression of human rights would never have some kind of Senate report like this that looked at their own practices, that routinely behead people, amputate arms, you know, discriminating massively against women, for you to be turning your eye on the United States, you know, wouldn't it be fair to say that there are far more great human rights violations taking place in the name of Islamic states and Islamic movements? 

MOAZZAM BEGG, FORMER DETAINEE OF THE U.S. HELD IN GUANTANAMO AND BAGRAM: Well, I think you're conflating many, many things here. I went to Afghanistan first in 1993 and visited a camp that was -- that was for Kashmiri. That had nothing to do with al Qaeda and I think this is one of the -- one of the problems that we've seen, is that there is a refusal to look at the details, a refusal to look at the nuance and in fact, to be honest with you, not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

When I lived in Afghanistan where the Taliban were present, it's true. I did live there. And I took my family there. But then there were plenty of non-Muslims NGOs who were living there and they never get scrutinized or mentioned or demonized in the way that we have. And of course, one could easily argue that even if I did live in Afghanistan at the time of the Taliban and even if I did think that they'd make some progress compared to the 25 years of war that have preceded there, then is it right that I'm tortured? Is it right that I was held without charge or trial? 

Is it right that I'm abused cruelly, inhumanely and degradingly? Is it right that pictures of my children are waved in front of me while I'm being beaten and tortured and abused by people who claimed to be the bastions of freedom and democracy and human rights? Is this all correct? And if it is, what is the evidence for it? Why was I never tried? Why was I never taken to court? Why was I never charged?   Why the world's most powerful democracy unable to produce any of these things despite that I was being interrogated by the world's most powerful law enforcement and secret intelligence agencies? It was me against all of this and still I came out with no charges. It doesn't make any sense. 

ZAKARIA: No, but I'm wondering, you're very eloquent and you're very intelligent. Why don't we hear that eloquence and intelligence directed against the ISIS' enormous human rights abuses which continue to this day?

BEGG: Well, what makes you think that I don't talk about these things? I think -- you're again once again jumping the gun perhaps not knowing what my position on some of these organizations and individuals has been. But I do it in my own time and in my atmosphere and my own place so that I can be most effective. But I can't let what was done to me by the United States --

ZAKARIA: Why not do it right now here? You'd be heard all over the world.

BEGG: Well, let me just explain this. Because for whatever the situation was, the Taliban and the ISIS, they didn't torture me. They didn't put me into dungeons. They didn't beat me. They didn't threaten to, you know, abuse my family. They didn't do that to me. So I can only talk to my experience. " (thanks Basim)

So where is Prince Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein (of the torturing Jordanian regime) giving his inagural lecture as a UN human rights commissioner?

At the research arm of the Zionist lobby, of course

Arabic

The only deficiency of the Arabic language is that we don't have capital letters. You can't yell in writing in Arabic. 

Arab world’s reactions to the CIA torture scandal

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English: "Arab world’s reactions to the CIA torture scandal".

Marwan Muashsher as AUB president?

It seems Marwan Muasher also wants to be president of AUB. Upon hearing that, many in the faculty are aghast, especially that he served "with distinction" as Hashemite regime's ambassador to the Zionist entity.

Tawakkol Karman speaks at a CAIR event

"It is difficult to imagine a more vapid and shallow speech. Delivered mostly in English, one had to be a native speaker of Arabic to decipher the jumbled thoughts and meaningless rambling that went on for over 30 minutes. The speech was written in Arabic with directions and guidance from her hosts at CAIR who apparently asked her to cater the speech to a US audience. It was then poorly translated into English and delivered with all the skill and charisma only a parent of an annoying and nervous child at a school recital would appreciate."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why?

From Alfred: "Why are there almost daily attacks against the Egyptian government by Al Qaeda/Islamists, but no attacks against the Jordanian and Gulf monarchies by Al Qaeda/Islamists?"

Western-sponsored rebel's 'hell cannons' kill 300 civilians

"Syrian rebels using improvised mortar bombs made of cooking gas canisters killed 311 civilians between July and December this year, a monitoring group said on Friday, condemning the use of the wildly inaccurate weapons."

Presidency of AUB

So now the competition is between Leila Fawwaz at Tufts and Mohammad Sayegh, the dean of the medical school at AUB.

Indian executive who became ISIS Twitter propagandist

"In an interview with Business Insider, Shami exposed his extremely sectarian views: "As sectarian as it may seem, I consider Iran a worse threat to Sunnis than Israel. The only way Iran gets defeated is one project stretching from Beirut to Diyal province [Isis plan]"."

“giftwapping Islamophobia”

"A lot of fuss has been made about Muslim charities like Islamic Relief supporting the political agenda of violent religious radicalism, something of which it has been cleared. But we seem unconcerned that many of our schools might be supporting something remarkably similar – in Christian form. More than a decade ago, in this paper, I wrote a column criticising OCC for “giftwapping Islamophobia”. It is depressing to find that, since then, very little has changed." (thanks Amir)

UAW becomes the first major U.S. labor union to support BDS

""UAW 2865, a labor union representing over 13,000 teaching assistants, tutors, and other student-workers at the University of California, has become the first major U.S. labor union to hold a membership vote responding to the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli occupation and in solidarity with Palestinian self-determination. The vote passed, with 65% (almost 2/3) of voting members in support. Over 2100 members voted, a testament to union democracy.

The measure calls on
1) the University of California to divest from companies involved in Israeli occupation and apartheid;
2) the UAW International to divest from these same entities;
3) the US government to end military aid to Israel.
4) 52 % of voting members also pledged not to “take part in any research, conferences, events, exchange programs, or other activities that are sponsored by Israeli universities complicit in the occupation of Palestine and the settler-colonial policies of the state of Israel” until such time as these universities take steps to end complicity with dispossession, occupation, and apartheid.""

How can anyone doubt or mock GCC achievements?

"Abu Dhabi: The General Directorate of Civil Defence achieved a new Guinness World Record by forming the world’s largest flag made of pencils." (thanks Basim)

The crimes of the Jordanian regime and the CIA against an innocent man

"Originally from Aden, Yemen, he had a small import-export business in Indonesia in 2003, when he traveled to Jordan with his wife to meet his mother and give her the money for heart surgery. But in Amman, he was arrested by the Jordanian authorities, who were suspicious about the new passport he held and his admission that he had once traveled to Afghanistan.

The Jordanians hung him upside down and beat him in three weeks of imprisonment before turning him over in the middle of the night to C.I.A. officers. There followed 19 months of solitary confinement in two secret prisons in Afghanistan, which he told Salon in 2007 was worse than physical torture.

“Whenever I saw a fly in my cell, I was filled with joy,” he said. “Although I would wish for it to slip from under the door so it would not be imprisoned itself.”

Then he was returned to Yemen and held there, reportedly at the Americans’ request. After nine more months, he was convicted of forgery based on an allegedly fake travel document that was not presented in court and sentenced to time served, according to an Amnesty International report."

Are you an honest journalist?

When asked if he was “an honest Muslim,” Mehdi replied, “I try to, but I am not sure if I am.”

Greenpeace damaged a patch of desert in Perus

"In a written statement the group said it was “deeply sorry.”"

resilience of the Asad regime

This in a footnote: "In addition to Hizb Allah, foreign actors such as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and a constellation of Iraqi-based Shi’a militias and volunteers, among others, have likewise proven their mettle as allies to the Ba’athist regime. At the same time, the factors that have contributed to the Ba’athist regime’s staying power in the face of an increasingly muddled insurgency led by radical Sunni Islamist currents such as al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (Support Front) and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant continue to be underestimated or disregarded outright. Indeed, the Ba’athist regime continues to count on a largely unified and loyal military and security apparatus that managed to weather an initial purge of defectors in the early stages of the conflict. "  This is largely ignored in all Western media accounts. (thanks Les)

New York Times mocks the award of peace to Castro

The New York Times did not mock awarding peace prizes to the likes of war criminals like Nixon, Kissinger, Rabin, and Peres, among others.  Where and when did Castro commit war crimes like Obama or Bush or Netanyahu?  It said: "He made no mention of Cuba’s military intervention in the Angolan civil war and other conflicts in Africa in the late 20th century."   Yes, Cuba intervened in Africa but--unlike the US--not on the side of apartheid South Africa and other right-wing supremacists and embezzlers. Castro supported the struggle of Africans against colonial powers, and that in itself deserves a peace prize.

It seems that (some) Muslims and Jews are the least enamored with the Pope

Positive Ratings for Pope Francis

Orange jumpsuits

“Now we have American hostages in orange jumpsuits because we put people in orange jumpsuits.”

The New York Times calls this American crime "conflicting accounts"

"The rest of the victims, eight in total, were civilians, including Abdullah al-Daghari, a 70-year-old man. Mr. Harad said he lost five sons, including Sheikh."

A member of the Jordanian royal family which still practices hanging of prisoners upside down to facilitate torture is now a human rights commissioner

"Zeid warmly welcomed the publication of the Senate Select Committee’s summary report on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program".

Crazy Crusaders

"For instance, on the “especially psychotic” nature of the First Crusade, about 1,000 years ago: “From all accounts, the Crusaders seemed half-crazed,” she says. “For three years, they had had no normal dealings with the world around them, and prolonged terror and malnutrition made them susceptible to abnormal states of mind.”

A message to propagandists of Saudi princes

I am sick and tired of the cliches of Lebanese propagandists of Saudi princes who keep peddling a variation of this line: "Arabs are all ISIS" or that "ISIS resides in all of us, Arabs".  To them, I say: no, it is not true. Speak for yourselves. ISIS resides in you, not in us.