Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chinese Reactions to the "Interview"

In response to the article in the Times to the effect that the Chinese viewers were raving about "the Interview", Robert sent me this: "Looked at a couple of Chinese forum threads - here's a few of the comments (Unlike the NY Times, I make absolutely no claim that they are representative of Chinese viewers as a whole, or even Chinese comments on the Internet - I really don't care enough to look any further).
Roughly translated:

"This must be shittiest film I've ever seen. What a crappy story."

"It's a load of crap. A massive disappointment."

"I really admire my patience for sitting through this film. But I seriously wish I hadn't. It has no redeeming features whatsoever."

"Just watched it. It's OK-ish.""

IMF and Greece

"In a wide-ranging review of the Greece program last year, the I.M.F. found that many of its predictions had failed. There was a sharp fall in imports, but little gain in exports. Public debt overshot original predictions. Predicted revenues from selling public assets were way off. The banking system, perceived as relatively sound at the beginning of the bailout, began having problems as the economy soured.

Looking back, the I.M.F. concluded that many errors had been made, including too much emphasis on raising taxes instead of cutting expenses. In addition, the monetary fund overestimated the ability of the government to deliver the changes it was demanding — because they were proving politically unpopular and because Greek institutions were far weaker that anyone understood."

Can you imagine the uproar if a US senator said that to any other foreign leader??

"Graham (R-S.C.), who is expected to take over as chairman of the Foreign Appropriations Subcommittee when the Republicans assume control of the Senate in January, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Israeli capital on Saturday night. Graham told Netanyahu that “the Congress will follow your lead” "

Henry Kissinger’s world view of the Middle East

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English: "Henry Kissinger’s world view of the Middle East".

If those were Muslim passangers, you can imagine the reaction of the American liberal and conservative press

"A flight from New York to Tel Aviv was delayed by half an hour last week after a group of male ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women, the third such incident in recent months." (thanks Amir)

It is a Zionist secret: the Washington Institute does not identify the polling firms which conduct its surveys in the Middle East

"A reliable new West Bank/Gaza public opinion survey conducted on June 15-17 -- the only such poll since the current kidnapping crisis began -- shows that Palestinian popular attitudes have hardened considerably on long-term issues of peace with Israel. Commissioned by The Washington Institute and conducted by a leading Palestinian pollster".  Well, that sounds very reliable and credible indeed.

Following US and Arab oil media, Human Rights Watch JUSTIFIES a Syrian rebel car bomb against civilians in Syria

"On October 1, two bombs exploded outside an elementary school in Akrama, a predominately Alawite neighborhood in Homs, killing dozens, mostly children, media reports said. Akrama, identified by numerous rebel groups as a loyalist, pro-government neighborhood, has been subject to repeated car bombings. The army and pro-government forces have intensified their attacks on al-Waer since then.

“As attacks on al-Waer intensify and restrictions tighten, what was once a refuge for residents, particularly Sunnis fleeing violence in other parts of Homs, has become a prison,” Houry said. “The people of al-Waer need more than the words of a UN resolution, they need to see the UN put it into action.”" (thanks Basim)

Saudi King dead?

An Arabic hashtag for the death of the Saudi King is already in use.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

When a paper declines and loses appeal and credibility, it resorts to porn and sleaze: the case of An-Nahar in Lebanon

It says: "An-Nahar" readers are now reading this: 1) Details of a horrific crime; 2) how a Kurdish engineer killed a Lebanese couple and set them on fire in Erbil; 3) Here we present naked Angelina Jolie (in pictures); 4) What are the predictions of [fortune teller] Samir Tumb for 2015".  This is what I call serious journalism.  

Here are the most read stories in An-Nahar:

1. Fadi Ibrahim loses his manhood in Damascus.
2. WhatsApp application: the surprise in 2015.
3: In Video: this is what happens during sexual intercourse.
4. Details of the flight from London to Beirut: this is how they evicted him from the plane (An-Nahar exclusive).
5. One of the most famous actors is considering converting to Islam. [a fake story about Liam Neeson].

This is the Israeli left

"Israel’s center-left parties yearn for a partnership with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates to combat extremism in Syria and Iran." (thanks dearest Michele)

So what does USAID fund in the Middle East? Well, it--among other things--also funds anti-Semitic trash media

This website had published anti-Semitic stuff before and mocked the Iranian regime for honoring Jewish "martyrs" of the Iranian armed forces, and now it publishes a disgusting story about the 16-year old daughter of Obama that she had an "illegitimate child."  Oh, yeah, it is funded by USAID.

Monday, December 29, 2014

"Iran Unveils Memorial to Fallen Jewish Soldiers"

It is fitting that US media would ignore this story because it conflicts with their narrative: "This week, Iran unveiled a memorial commemorating the lives of Jewish soldiers who died fighting for the country in the Iran-Iraq war. The monument, located in Tehran, has inscriptions in both Hebrew and Persian, and the ceremony remembered the fallen soldiers as "martyrs."" But what is also interesting is that the social media and media of clients of the US in the Middle East have been attacking Iran for "honoring Jews".

The journalistic methods of Anne Barnard

"There have been tensions in the southern province of Sweida, residents say".  Explain this one to me, Ms. Barnard? When you report about a country (from another country, mind you) and you write that "residents [in that country] say", what do you mean and how do you substantiate that? How many of the residents have to share a view with you to qualify as "residents say"? How many residents told you that? One or 20 or a 1000 or 10000? And does the foreign editor of the Times require any documentations for such generalizations about a whole resident population? How would you, those of you who are professors, respond to a student who employed this phrase in a research paper?

The Syrian "revolutionaries"

"He bitterly likened the F.S.A. to prostitutes, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid alienating American officials. “If I wear Arabic dress and let my beard grow, the West will hate me and Nusra will love me, and vice versa. We are kissing everyone’s rear to get support.”"  This article by Barnard is three years too late.

The US is now on record as the only government on earth which has sabotaged the internet in whole countries

The US has thus far sabotaged the entire internet service in two countries that we know of: Syria and North Korea. Can you imagine the uproar of Russia or Iran were to engage in similar acts of cyber terrorism?

The New York Times explains to readers why the West ostracizes Lukashenko of Belarus

"While Mr. Lukashenko had long been ostracized by the West because of his erratic nature and apparent disregard for human rights and civil liberties".  Really? Is this why the US also ostracize leaders of Morocco, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Jordan? Because of their "apparent disregard for human rights and civil liberties"?

Would a dissident in UAE or Saudi Arabia be able to speak as freely as this dissident in Cuba? And to a Western reporter?

"“He betrayed those of us who are struggling against the Cuban government,” Ángel Moya, a former political prisoner whose wife, Berta Soler, leads the Ladies in White, said of Mr. Obama’s decision to begin normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. “There will be more repression, only this time with the blessing of the United States.”"

The headline says: "Chinese Viewers Mostly Give Thumbs Up for ‘The Interview’"

The evidence for this headline is this: "“Perfect, the greatest film in history, all hail Sony,” read one online comment. Said another, “Their ability to amuse is out of this galaxy,” referring to the film’s stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco."  Why does one need public opinion surveys when New York Times correspondents can provide samples (representative, I am sure) of on-line commentary?

There is an attack on a mosque in Sweden but New York Times rules that the motive is "unclear"

Would the New York Times ever rules that the motive of an attack on a synagogue is "unclear"?

Arson agaisnt a mosque in Sweden

Notice this in the New York Times.  If there is an article about "rising anti-Semitism" in Europe, the article never ever put the subject in the context of rising hate and bigotry in general and never mentions the rising anti-Islam movement there. But if there is a rare article on attacks on Muslims, they invariably bring in attacks on Jewish targets. Look at this article dealing with an attack on a mosque how it concludes: "Across Europe, there are growing worries about a rise in attacks on minorities, including Muslims and Jews...In May, four people were fatally shot at the Jewish Museum in Brussels...In November, Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said “hatred of Jews” was on the rise once more in his country and across Europe, blaming the trend on the increased violence in the Middle East.In July, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, firebombs were thrown at a synagogue in the German town of Wuppertal that had been set on fire by Nazis in November 1938."  Either you put a context every time or don't put a context any time.

a separate state for Darfur

Is it not time for the Darfur groupies to lobby for the creation of a separate Darfur state given the shining model of governance and peace established in the American creation of South Sudan?

The buffoonish Jordanian "parliament"

All Arab parliament are buffoonish but no parliament is more buffoonish that the royal Jordanian parliament tailored to bring in the tribal elders of the most reactionary groups in society.  "Jordan threatened the militants of the Islamic State on Thursday with “grave consequences” if they harmed a Jordanian pilot captured after his F-16 crashed in northern Syria.  The warning, issued by Jordan’s Parliament, came as members of the pilot’s family appealed to his captors to welcome him as a “guest” and to show him mercy as a fellow Muslim."

What passes as terrorism in Saudi Arabia (can you imagine the US press reaction if this were in Iran or Cuba?)

"Two Saudi women detained for nearly a month after they defied edicts that prohibit women from driving were referred on Thursday to a court established to try terrorism cases, several people close to the defendants said."

More than 150,000 Brits in UAE

"More than 150,000 British workers and their dependants are estimated to be living in the United Arab Emirates alone, making up the single largest Western expatriate community in the Middle East..." (thanks Nu`man)

Remembering the Wounded Knee Massacre

"One hundred and twenty-four winters ago, on December 29, 1890, some 150 Lakota men, women and children were massacred by the US 7th Calvary Regiment near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Some estimate the actual number closer to 300."

Origins of the Saudi-American reactionary alliance

" the 1970s, when the kingdom became central to western foreign policy in the region. Washington welcomed the Saudis’ opposition to Nasserism (the pan-Arab socialist ideology of Egypt’s second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser) and to Soviet influence. After the Iranian Revolution, it gave tacit support to the Saudis’ project of countering Shia radicalism by Wahhabising the entire Muslim world." (thanks Amir)

security center for housemaids’ affairs

"Police had to intervene on Saturday after Ethiopian housemaids reportedly went on a rampage at the security center for housemaids’ affairs." (thanks Basim)

A Zionist recommends

"The practical approach to Islamist terrorism is not always to fight terrorists everywhere, but to play Shiites against Sunnis and vice versa, depending upon the circumstances."

On this day in 1968: Israeli terrorism

On this day in 1968, the Israeli terrorist state bombed the entire fleet of civilian planes of Middle East Airlines.  I was 8 years old and we were spending the holidays in Cairo, and the AlAhram reporter, Zakariyyah Nil, called my father to inform him.  We returned through the airport but I don't recall what we saw upon arrival a few days later.  Lebanese contemporary history, nay Arab contemporary history, is littered with dastardly deeds of Israeli terrorism.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Godfather of Saudi Arabia

"In a sense, Philby may be said to be "godfather" to this momentous pact by which the Saudi leadership would use its clout to "manage" Sunni Islam on behalf of western objectives (containing socialism, Ba'athism, Nasserism, Soviet influence, Iran, etc.) -- and in return, the West would acquiesce to Saudi Arabia's soft-power Wahhabisation of the Islamic ummah (with its concomitant destruction of Islam's intellectual traditions and diversity and its sowing of deep divisions within the Muslim world). As a result -- from then until now -- British and American policy has been bound to Saudi aims (as tightly as to their own ones), and has been heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia for direction in pursuing its course in the Middle East."

Western hypocrisy and the right to "to proselytize openly"

Excuse me but do Muslims in the US, say, have the right "to proselytize openly" in the US? I can safely tell you that if Muslims were to knock on doors, as Christians do, to invite people to Islam, the police will be called in.

Excuse me but when will the UN security council examine the human rights record of Saudi Arabia?

Is North Korea the only only country on earth, other than Syria and Iran, that violates human rights by the standards of the UN?

How much does it cost to prop up "friends"

"One senior Saudi official told me privately that the kingdom spent $30 billion in 2014 propping up its friends — not counting the costs of the wars in Syria and Iraq where Riyadh funds friendly Sunni groups."


"How much longer are we going to give a platform to thugs in suits struggling to keep a straight face for the cameras as they state they're "not racist, just against radical Islam", while their mates swill Stella and chuck Nazi salutes in the background?" (thanks Amir)

state of the Palestinians

"Palestinians, as stateless, not only lack most basic human rights, they do not even have a right to have such rights. Their property is unstable—they never know what they actually own, and whatever they think they own can be usurped at will. Their farms are encroached on; their olive orchards sabotaged; their wells go dry because Israeli squatters dig deeper ones and extract the water for agriculture on Palestinian land. Sometimes they are murdered with impunity by militant, armed squatters, while they are kept unarmed and vulnerable by the occupation military." (thanks Michele)

A Saudi man divorces his wife. Why?

He divorced her because she "romantically" held his hand in public. 

Minister of religious endowment in Jordan: sectarian rhetoric

Look at this sectarian rhetoric from the Minister of Religious Endowments in Jordan (and in the presence of King PlayStation): he basically says that ISIS can go ahead and kill all the Christians, `Alawites, Shi`ites, and Druzes but that only the killing of Sunnis is religiously impermissible.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

If they were white Americans or Europeans, they would have been freed

"Saudi Arabia beheads 12th Pakistani in two months for heroin smuggling"

The Jordanian pilot

It is amazing that no one (outside of the royal Jordanian family) in the Arab world is showing any sympathy whatsoever for the Jordanian pilot: either the Islamists or their rivals are mocking him and mocking his mission.

Forgotten Christians of Palestine

“We want Christmas without Occupation.” "

So who hacked Sony?

"All the evidence leads me to believe that the great Sony Pictures hack of 2014 is far more likely to be the work of one disgruntled employee facing a pink slip."

Saudi princes

It occurred to me today: do you think that there ever has been a Saudi prince who was able to talk to a woman about a matter not related to her body?

Despite a lack of shelter, a third of U.S. cities ban homeless camps

"Across the United States, local governments are moving to prevent outdoor camping by the homeless, according to advocates for the nation's nearly 600,000 homeless, estimated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development." "But Dr. Robert Okin, a psychiatrist and homelessness expert, said the camps are a symptom of the lack of affordable housing and other services. Disbanding them doesn't solve the problem, it just disperses it, he said."

The political insights of Marwan Muasher

Look at the deep and highly original insights of Marwan Muasher: no wonder Carnegie Endowment for International War lured him away from his services to the Jordanian royal family:  "Whatever the case, it is clear that the effect of the new oil price levels will not be limited to the economic sphere,” he wrote in a Carnegie report." Wow. Are you saying, Marwan, there will be a political impact to the steep drop in oil prices? How did you figure that one out? Did you seek help from a friend or you figured that one on your own?  That is what I call a brilliant mind.

Preaching in Islam at an Israeli university

Look at this silly conference at this Israeli occupation university in Haifa--Palestinian Haifa.  Can you imagine the uproar by Zionist groups in the West if an Islamic or Arab university were to hold a conference on preaching in Judaism? And don't you like when Israeli conferences find an unknown token Arab to participate in their affairs (of course, it is always a weak Arab that no one has ever heard of). 

The UN as a tool of Israeli occupation

"The mechanism for allowing the entry of materials into Gaza – including the monitoring of the distribution and use of concrete – was designed by the UN special envoy Robert Serry to satisfy Israeli government concerns that cement should not be diverted to Hamas for military purposes, including tunnel building."

Khalil Sa`adah: the unknown voice of radical enlightenment

I argue that Khalil Sa`adah has not received the scholarly and "national" attention that he deserves in Lebanon and in academia. The reason is that his son (Antun) surpassed him in reputation and overshadowed him; 2) people writing about the Middle East were too influenced by the personalities covered in Albert Hourani's Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age (which requires a radical reassessment); 3) the writer was too radical for people's taste. I received from the dear friend, Badr Al-Hajj, the new two volumes collection of writings by Khalil Sa`adah, "Syria" (edited by Badr Al-Hajj and Salim Muja`is) and it is remarkable that he opposed the French colonial rule over Syria even before it started and that his scathing critique of the role of the Maronite partiarchate were quite perceptive. 

The reporting of Liz Sly

This person also noticed the lousy reporting of Liz Sly in her propaganda coverage of Syria. 

CIA torture scandal

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "American savage torture (and Arab silence toward it)."

the religion of House of Saud

The Mufti of Saudi royal family has ruled: it is religiously impermissible to discuss the flaws of Saudi princes.  Kid you not.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Gulf rulers as "lovers" of Syrian children

Sign says: Syrian refugee camp.

Crimes by the North Korean dictatorship

Add this to the list of crimes by the North Korean dictatorship: the resurrection of the career of Seth Rogen.  

It is now official: the Syrian regime is falling and it can't get up

"The regime is increasingly stretched, militarily and financially, and so its refusal to engage politically with its own constituencies, let alone its adversaries, threatens it," wrote Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, in the pan Arab daily Al-Hayat. " (thanks Basim)

That would never get reported by Western correspondents in Beirut

""Hezbollah delegations toured several churches in southern Lebanon Thursday to wish Christians a merry Christmas.""

Rape in U.S. military

"Judy Atwood-Bell was just a 19-year-old Army private when she says she was locked inside a barracks room at Fort Devens in Massachusetts, forced to the cold floor and raped by a fellow solider." "A recent VA survey found that 1 in 4 women said they experienced sexual harassment or assault."

Only Americans deserve the right to be offended

""Shopping mall in central Moscow lays down U.S. flag doormats at its entrance for customers to wipe their feet in a show of defiance against U.S. policies towards Russia."" (thanks Amir)

Oil Reserves and Venezuela

From anonymous:

"Regarding your comment on the 25th saying the NYT statement on Venezuela having the world's largest proved reserves. It actually can be a correct statement. It's one of those fuzzy things that depends on how you define the term. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy (an annual publication that is considered an industry standard) does in fact list Venezuela as the largest reserve holder. You can download the data from the following page, the spreadsheet workbook having full details (see the "Oil - Proved reserves history" tab):

You'll notice that between 2007 and 2009, the Venezuelan reserves have a huge jump up, to the point of surpassing Saudi Arabia who are generally stated to have the largest reserves.  In those years, Venezuela re-defined what is known as their "unconventional" heavy oil reserves as if they were the conventional reserves Saudi uses. The unconventional reserves are this nasty heavy stuff that takes huge amounts of energy and capital equipment investment to extract. Unlike conventional reserves, they take a long time to develop and generally come in projects which - while very long lived compared to conventional production - produce comparatively small amounts for the medium term compared to the same investment into developing conventional.  For this reason, they are generally placed in a separate category. Canada has similar massive unconventional reserves which they have slowly but steadily built up high cost production from over time. Venezuela has struggled to build up production.

So basically, if you count the heavy unconventionals, yes Venezuela does have the largest currently proved reserves. The BP statistical review does count them, just as it counts Canadian unconventionals, but many do not.  If you don't count them, then Saudi has the most. In terms of what those reserves mean to geopolitical and market power, counting Saudi as the highest is definitely correct.

There are even more complicating factors one could get into as well (whether they are viable to be developed at current prices, undiscovered but highly likely to exist reserves in places like Iraq, etc.), but that is a simple answer."

This headline is from a liberal website

"Audiences 'Let Freedom Ring' At 'The Interview' Screenings In New York City"

Only in America

Only in America would watching the silly comedy of Seth Rogen be considered an assertion of freedom and democracy. 

People in the Arab world are still tred for affrontery

From Kuwait.

International arms sales

The journalistic methods of Liz Sly

Look at the sources for this article by Liz Sly: it is entirely based on--you guessed it--"activists", a US official, and my favorite part of them all "Syrians", as the "Syrians think" and the "Syrians say" and the "Syrians believe".  When I read her I always think: what would befall an undergraduate student who adheres to her methods of "documentation"?

HD Cristiano Ronaldo ignores Prince Morocco & Joseph Blatter alert Ronaldo

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Israeli police shoot 5-year-old child in the face

"Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem shot 5-year-old Muhammad Jamal Ubeid in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet, Wednesday afternoon, as he was exiting a school bus on his way home."

This information about oil reserves is wrong in the New York Times

"Venezuela, which has the world’s largest estimated oil reserves ".

Cuba's human rights record

It is easy to say that Cuban records of human rights is far better than that of all US clients in the Middle East region but also, how many of those rights are violated here in the US?  "Cuba’s record on human rights is well documented. The State Department’s annual human rights report said this year that the Cuban government carried out arbitrary arrests, failed to hold fair trials, spied on private communications, opposed free speech, restricted its citizens’ access to the Internet and refused to recognize independent human rights groups."

Land of the free

It is nice to be free in the US to spoof only the dictators who are not clients of the US while showing respect and reverence for dictators who are allies of the US.  I feel free.

Seth Rogen as high art in the US

The Washington Post has decided that Seth Rogen's spoof of the North Korean dictator is a sophisticated subversive comedy.  Kid you not.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Is there anything that the Israeli government does not lie about? Anything?

"Roughly one-third of all Israelis suffer financial hardship and are unable to cope with the high cost of living and provide for their family’s needs, according to a study conducted by Latet, the umbrella group of Israel’s food organizations.
Latet presented its data as part of an effort to provide an alternative to the official figures presented last week by the National Insurance Institute." (thanks Seif)

Don't you like the scientific and objective standards that the US employs to include and exclude countries on the terrorism list?

The Nobel Prize in literature has more credibility in its selection, damn it.

The cable also detailed relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia

"While Israeli citizens are officially barred from entering the UAE, a leaked diplomatic cable by Wikileaks from 2009 revealed positive high-level ties between political leaders from both countries. “[UAE ] Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah [bin Zayed al-Nahyan] has developed good personal relations with [then Israeli] Foreign Minister [Tzipi] Livni, but the Emiratis are ‘not ready to do publicly what they say in private’,” read a briefing by Marc Sievers, then political advisor to the US embassy in Tel Aviv. The cable also detailed relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia,"

India's government draws closer to Israel

"In what could amount to a tectonic shift in the country’s foreign policy, the Modi government is looking at altering India’s supporting vote for the Palestinian cause at the United Nations to one of abstention."

Andrew Sullivan on The New Republic

He believes that African-Americans are unfair to blacks.  His defense: 1) there are no qualified blacks to hire in the magazine: "Did we fail to find and nurture and promote African-American staffers? We did – along with almost every other magazine and newspaper at the time. I regret this. I tried – but obviously not hard enough. I’m no believer in affirmative action, but I’m a deep believer in the importance of differing life experiences to inform a magazine’s coverage of the world." 2) he defends the magazine decision to publish racist arguments by notorious racists but maintains that it was legitimate because one of the two racists in question had a Harvard connection: "One was a celebrated Harvard professor".  3) blacks were allowed to publish occasionally in the magazine provided they toed the line.  4) he said (totally erroneously and falsely) that Andrew Hacker was published in the magazine and that his views are those of the racist magazine: "The white contributors were just as caustic. Andrew Hacker, whose racial politics echoes TNC’s".  Hardly. 5) As for the record of the magazine in racism against Arabs and bigotry against Muslims, it is not important.

The headline talks about "rising anti-Semitism" and then you read this as evidence

"“Whilst we have much to celebrate about being Jewish in the UK, a summer filled with hostile, anti-Zionist demonstrations has clearly left its mark,” he said."

Gaza before and after Israeli occupation and destruction

The Iranian regime and Jews: the anti-Semitism of pro-US Arab media

Are you ware that in the Hariri and Saudi media they attack the Iranian regime for being too respectful of Jews and for inviting Rabbis and for honoring Jewish soldiers?  That part is not covered in the Western media.

Obama and the torture scandal

"In 2012 Barack Obama and his attorney-general, Eric Holder, decided not to prosecute any CIA agents for torture (John Kiriakou, an ex-agent who leaked details of the programme to reporters, was jailed). "

Watch Joseph Massad on Aljazeera talk about US attitudes toward the Palestinians (Arabic)

Comrade Joseph Massad

I started reading Joseph's new book, "Islam in Liberalism".  It may be the most impressive and devastating attack on Western discourse on Islam to date.  It surpasses Said's Covering Islam (as Talal Asad said in the blurb) and promises to become a classic on the subject.  It fills an important gap in the academic literature on Islam.  Grab your copies NOW.  And most importantly, as typical in Joseph's style, it is interesting to read. 

He what? "Snuck" into the Shatila camp???

""After five years of doing little but drink, party, and pick up women wherever he went, Eric snuck into the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut in 2008". What does that dumb statement mean? He snuck?  The camp is quite open and it has no walls or enclosures for people to "sneak in".  (thanks N.)

Gender gap in the technology industry

"Instead of narrowing gender gaps, the technology industry created vast new ones for Stanford University’s pioneering class of 1994. "

Documentation by Mr. Sam Dagher (or how much I miss the journalism of Tony Shadid)

Sam Dagher (@samdagher)

12/22/14, 3:22 AM
2/5 I have spoken to more than 2 dozen people incl. former regime officials, rebels & all say they believe regime did it #Syria @MajdArar

Sam Dagher and his scoop: is he backtracking now?

Is he backtracking now?  "Sam Dagher (@samdagher)

12/22/14, 3:19 AM
1/5 Thanks for constructive feedback @MajdArar but actually in story itself I say no concrete evidence & circumstances remain murky #Syria". 

The funny part about this article of his in the WSJ is that it is all based on Saudi, Qatari-controlled Syrian opposition and yet he leaves out this important piece: that every single car bomb and explosion that kill civilians and others has been blamed, in Syrian rebels communiques on the regime itself, even when supporters of the regime are killed. He does not mention that this is a pattern of rebel propaganda all along.  But hey: his theory that Munaf Tlas just remembered the theory which is believed by the highly credible Walid Jumblat is quite credible.

Israel to drill for oil in occupied Syrian Golan

"Israel has approved an exploratory oil drilling programme in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights...
Israel's Makor Rishon newspaper... pointed out that a group of senior legal advisors in Israel issued a report asserting that, according to international law, Israel may exploit the natural resources in the Golan region.
...The newspaper said Afek Oil and Gas, the company which is due to take over drilling operations, is owned by former minister Effie Eitam, a religious leader in the ruling Likud party who lives in Katzrin settlement in the occupied Golan Heights."

The “acid attack” on Israelis that didn’t take place quite as reported

"On 13 December, The Guardian ran an article with the headline “Israeli family suffer burns after West Bank acid attack.” "Except there’s one problem. The “acid attack” didn’t take place quite as reported. The liquid allegedly thrown at the settler vehicle was vinegar, as Israeli media reported just hours later. Household vinegar is indeed a weak acid, but wouldn’t cause severe or life-threatening injuries or “chemical burns” – that’s why people are able to put it in salads, on their french fries or even use it as a treatment for skin conditions."

Death toll among Qatar's workers revealed

"Nepalese migrants building the infrastructure to host the 2022 World Cup have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014 – despite Qatar’s promises to improve their working conditions, the Guardian has learned. The figure excludes deaths of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers, raising fears that if fatalities among all migrants were taken into account the toll would almost certainly be more than one a day." (thanks Amir)

42% of Americans reject evolution

Embedded image permalink

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Standards of covering bigotry

It is fair to say that one anti-Semite in an otherwise anti-Israel demonstration in Germany received more coverage and outrage than 17,000 anti-Islam bigots in Germany. Such are the standards of US media.

What Befel the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC

Look at this crude propaganda piece published by the Middle East Institute? The Middle East Institute of yester years would never have published this. This is a typical March 14-Zionist propaganda. There is not even a pretense of fairness of academic objectivity.  Look at the language used: you read such stuff on the website of Now Hariri.  It seems the place has changed a lot, but only to the worst.

PS Now, I am not romantacizing the Middle East Institute of yester years but it was not this kind of organization.  In fact, it was (from a conservative point of view) a place that produced alternatives to Zionist propaganda in Washington, DC.  But things changed when Gulf regime interests overlapped with Zionist interests.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Two stories on Egypt that only solidify the US reputation as the protector of human rights in the Arab world

Story I:  "Egyptian security forces have detained nearly 10,000 people suspected of being militants, rioters and others wanted in violent attacks over the past 12 months in a crackdown that a senior Interior Ministry official said Saturday was aimed at those trying to curtail Egypt’s development."

Story II: " Egypt received 10 Apache helicopters from the United States in the past week, security officials said Saturday, a sign that tensions between the longtime allies are easing as they confront Islamist extremism across the region."  Draw your own conclusions.

Protest in Kenya

The Kenyan people are at least more vigilant about protecting their freedoms than Westerners and Arabs.

Superpower's desire for freedom for the Cuban people

"Premature ecstasy over a perceived triumph of justice thus ignores the possibility that the U.S. has simply determined it’s easier to cajole Cuba into the neoliberal fold with a foot in the door. It’s safe to speculate that a portion of American business is salivating at the prospect of a Berlin Wall moment or a return of the prerevolutionary golden age of corporate-friendly dictatorship." "Since crass discussion of business interests isn’t the best way to win public support, the U.S. has euphemized its financial ambitions in Cuba into a desire for freedom for the Cuban people."

The new Canada

"The truth is that they’re each part of a larger scheme, one that has animated a good portion of Canadian politics for the past decade or so. It is a strategy to galvanize a political base (in a time of austerity and economic uncertainty) through fear, thereby dividing the citizenry along racial and religious lines to create the kind of political playing field most advantageous to the Tories. Canada is experiencing around seven percent unemployment and wage stagnation, with high joblessness projected in the future. Focusing on immigration and homegrown terrorism is a short cut to jolting their political base into outrage and action."

Anti-Muslim hooligans

"PEGIDA's connections to the hooligan community are also noteworthy. For instance, the police have identified some of the protestors as members of "Fist of the East," a Dresden hooligan group in the right-wing extremist camp. Members of "Hooligans Elbflorenz (Florence on the Elbe, a nickname for Dresden)," which the Dresden Regional Court has classified as a criminal organization, have also been spotted. Activists with the group have reportedly been in contact with the banned far-right extremist fellowship known as "Skinheads Sächsische Schweiz." " (thanks Amir)

Between the Chinese government and the US government I, of course, believe the Chinese government

"China condemns cyberattacks, but says no proof North Korea hacked Sony"

How can the Harvard Corporation not stand for occupation?

"Top Harvard University officials have stepped in after campus food services administrators agreed to remove the SodaStream label from equipment in their dining halls and not to make any new purchases from the company.

The decision to boycott SodaStream came after a series of meetings with faculty and concerned students to discuss the implications of using a product manufactured in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

But now Harvard University Dining Services is reconsidering its decision on the grounds that it should not have taken “political” factors into account. This flatly contradicts a decision in another recent case — that administrators did not contest — to boycott a company whose chair made anti-gay comments.

The university administration’s intervention in the SodaStream case is in keeping with other openly pro-Israel positions taken by Harvard President Drew G. Faust and Provost Alan Garber."

The good old days of the secular "Syrian revolution"

  Mr. `Ar`ur sitting between the commanders of the joint leadership of the military councils of the "revolution".  Compared to the current leaders of the "revolution", `Ar`ur is like Voltaire now.

New York Times on torture

The New York Times calls for the prosecution of the American torturers and their replacement with Israeli torturers.

The end of electoral appeal in the Arab world

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English: "The end of electoral appeal in the Arab world"

Human Rights Watch praises Jordan for executing 11 people

"“With these executions, Jordan loses its standing as a rare progressive voice on the death penalty in the region,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director. "  A rare progressive voice on the death penalty in the region?  Does Sarah think that there is one Arab out there who consider Jordan a progressive voice on anything at all?  What do you do.  Regimes that are allies of Israel and US get praised by human rights organizations even when they execute 11 people in one spectacle.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

This is hilairous: This Israeli center calls a writer anti-Semitic because he has an Arabic name not knowing that he is a Jewish Zionist

"British Arab journalist ‘Adel Darwish wrote in the London daily al-Sharq al-Awsat about Iranian President Ahmadinejad “he only caused damage to his country, which is [going through] a difficult period in [terms of] its foreign [relations]. He also caused severe damage to the Muslims by creating a political-cultural climate in which feelings of hate drown out the Muslims’ noble and humane sentiments.” This criticism, which once again focuses on the damage of this strategy to the Arab or Muslim cause, and not on its inherent ethical problems, was put also forward by others.[31]"

Notice how polite Amnesty International and HRW are about 11 wholesale executions by the Jordanian regime

"Jordan executed 11 men in Suwaqa prison today".  You bet that Western governments will not express concern.

This is how propaganda works: the story by Sam Dagher

So Sam Dagher published this story in the Wall Street Journal which is based on the "hunches" of Syrian opposition people.  So today, all the Syrian exile and rebel opposition websites are circulating the story as: The Wall Street Journal publishes a sensational story, etc.  I mean, they are the origin of the story but then they make it as if it originated with the "respected" Wall Street Journal.

The Sam Dagher story in the Wall Street Journal

A comrade sent me this (she does not want to be identified for some reason):  "What surprises me about in this article, other than it is a he said she said kind of report, and although it is not unlikely that the regime killed Asef Shawkat (although one may argue: why would they kill him in the centre of Damascus and with a bunch of other senior officials and look weak at a very critical period of the crisis), what is interesting is that Sam Dagher is trying to downplay Mounaf Tlas as the source of this "theory" maybe because he knows that he lacks any credibility. This article should be titled: Mounaf Tlas thinks or says that the regime killed Asef Shawkat and it would not have had an effect, instead Sam Dagher wants you to think that this is not the opinion of one man but many, on Twitter he says two dozens believe that including his neighbors maybe in addition to walid Jumblat. Also what does he mean by new revelations? Obviously he cannot use new evidence, because he has none, so he thinks revelations makes sense? انو نزل  الوحي على مناف طلاس بعد سنتين "

PS The Arabic says: "So divine revelation descended on Munaf Tlas two years later"?

It is over: the Syrian regime will fall next week

This guy is certain

Israel among the top ton collaborators with Saudi Arabia in research

The full report.

Earlier Syria scoops by Sam Dagher

"Additionally, the deputy foreign minister of Syria told Dagher that neighbors who might assist the United States in strikes, such as Turkey and Jordan, would also be attacked by Syria." (thanks Michele)

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Who will win tomorrow in Tunisia? Qatar or Saudi Arabia?

The art of Seth Rogen

And let us face it: who can better educate the world about foreign affairs and human rights than Seth Rogen?  

How could you, North Korea?

Will humanity be able to survive without the high art and humor of Seth Rogen? How could you, North Korea?

diet of Gaza

From Marc: "doesnt this sound like the "diet" israel puts gaza on:

In the spring of 1960, US Secretary of State Christian Herter expressed the need to take a "positive position which would call forth a line of action while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.""

Sony and the movie

So Sony first said that everyone got it wrong: that it did not decide to not release the movie, and that movie theaters decided to not run it. Today, Sony said that it has decided to release the movie, although as of yesterday it was denying stories that it did not release. Now we can all enjoy the high art of Seth Rogen.

Notice the word "possibly"

What #Assad & #Syria regime hardliners did to cling to power, possibly killing their own too on July 18, 2012 @WSJ

Have Arab regimes taken over Arabic Wikipedia?

I have been noticing as of late: Arab intelligence services seem to have taken over Arabic Wikipedia. They really control the full text of the entries on issues and personalities that they care about. The entry of Qaboos is clearly written by his media office. Look at this entry of Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab: it does not even mention the opposition to him by his own brother (who authored the first refutation of Wahhabiyyah ever), and it puts claims of wide travels and education by the illiterate man.  Finally, it claims he was prolific when he actually never authored books or articles by collected Hadith to bolster his kooky Jihadi terrorist cause. 

Sam Dagher's previous work on Syria

A reader sent me this: "Zamzam Khalil, 95, refugee Tiberias was eating grass in " did'nt do this" "
Embedded image permalink Older women used to have tattoos on their faces, and Mr. Dagher thought it was from eating grass. What do you say to that?

A response to the Sam Dagher's story in the Wall Street Journal

A well-known Western journalist in the Middle East (who does not wish to be identified) sent me this reaction:
"Any article that begins by quoting Manaf Tlass as a source immediately loses credibility, but then the only thing that discredits one more than quoting Tlass is quoting Walid Jumblatt
I’m curious why they decided to publish this now, its very weird, an article blaming Iran and Hizballah without any evidence or anything new to say about an explosion over two years old. There has to be something to the timing.
Tlass never told me or any of his close friends either story until now and they are surprised by his claims. He’s making up the story about being personally targeted. Also he would not know anything about this stuff, he was cut off from the internal workings of the regime, and he left before it happened. Moreover important insurgent leaders claimed to be behind the attack and western intelligence agencies did not blame the regime but thought it was an insurgent operation.
Shawqat was in fact well liked by many of the local opposition leaders he met at the time, whether in Homs or Reef Dimashq or elsewhere. And some were wondering if he was building his own kingdom. But he was not the only pragmatist in the regime at the time.
While elements in the regime might be cynical enough to do something like this, this article proves nothing and repeats rumor and gossip. It’s a surprise because Dagher is one of the best Western correspondents covering the Middle East and his work on Syria was better than most.
The bombing did not spur more Alawites to support the regime any more than any other incident let alone the nature of the opposition itself, and the nature of Alawites themselves too
The article greatly exaggerates the role of Iran and Hizballah, important as their roles are. Syria is not in the hands of Iran but of course Iran has influence and there are Iranian advisors.
“The killing of two Syrian protesters by regime forces on March 18, 2011, in the city of Deraa, changed everything. It shattered a short period of peaceful marches by mostly Sunni crowds calling for Mr. Assad’s ouster.”
March 18 was the first Friday demonstration in Daraa, so the short period had not started yet, nor had calls for Assad’s ouster really started yet
Also I do not think Faruq Sharaa was put under house arrest."

The journalism of Sam Dagher: the story of Abu Karo

Readers from around the Middle East have been sharing with me samples of the journalistic work of Sam Dagher. I thought it was a spoof, I swear.  I mean, it is possible that Abu Karo was one of the sources of his story in the WSJ yesterday. 

PS Did you notice that most Western journalists and even foreign editor were circulating the story as it it had some damning evidence?

Enemies of the Lebanese people

"The United Nations General assembly passed a resolution on Friday asking Israel to pay over $850 million in damages to Lebanon for the 2006 oil spill that occurred because of an attack by the Israeli air force. The resolution, approved by 170 members of the council, was denied by six members while three members abstained from voting. Israel, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Micronesia and Marshall Islands voted "no" for the resolution,"

Israel's dirty hands in Syria

"Covertly however Israel is a key player in prolonging the depleting war on Syria and the major beneficiary of neutralizing the military of the only immediate Arab neighbor that has so far eluded yielding to the terms dictated by the US-backed Israeli regional force majeure for making peace with the Hebrew state." "Israeli air force and artillery intervened several times to protect the al-Nusra Front's "safe haven" against fire power from Syria, which is still committed to its ceasefire agreement of 1974 with Israel. Last September for example, Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that was bombing the Front's positions, only three weeks after shooting down a Syrian drone over the area."

But of the total, only $100 million or so has been received by Gaza

"The conference in Cairo had been hailed as a success, with Qatar promising $1 billion, Saudi Arabia $500 million and the United States and the European Union a combined $780 million in various forms of assistance." "But of the total, only $100 million or so has been received, according to U.N. and other officials." "The Arab countries haven't paid anything until now," Mufeed al-Hasayna, the Palestinian housing minister, said this month." (thanks Amir)

Why would the West be bothered when the Turkish military rule didn't bother them

"President Tayyip Erdogan's tightening grip on power is likely to meet little more than symbolic resistance from the West next year, as Turkey's G20 presidency and the fight against Islamic State trump concerns about a slide towards authoritarianism."

Obama deepens Israeli-American relations

"The U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act increases the value of emergency U.S. weaponry kept in Israel by $200 million, to a total of $1.8 billion. It promotes closer U.S.-Israeli links in energy, water, homeland security, alternative fuel technology and cybersecurity. It also offers a verbal guarantee of Israel maintaining a qualitative military edge over its neighbors."

Pastry chefs

Basim sent me this: "Sheikh al-Masri is a moderate Islamist advocate, who makes a living from a pastry shop he owns in the area of Abi Samra in the northern city of Tripoli. "

Abu Ali al-Shishani: From pastry chef to ‘Islamic State’ emir. He added, in the midst of these events “I told myself that jihad began in Syria so I left Lebanon where I worked as a pastry chef” and headed to Syria."

Tunisian pastry chef Slim Gasmi died on a Syrian battlefield and was lionized with a hashtag: #martyrdomofabuqatada. By the time he was killed in April more than 1,500 miles from home, he had transformed into a warrior with a long beard and a nom de guerre, Abu Qatada, celebrated on a radical jihadist Twitter feed."

Western discourse on Islam: and anti-Semitism

You don't think we notice? That grotesque bigotry against Muslims never gets the same (justified) outrage that anti-Semitism brings?  How would those haters be perceived historically?  And why don't people point out the striking similarity between current Western discourses on Islam and the past Western (and even German) discourses against Jews prior to WWII.   "In the interview, he said: "There's a definite urge - don't you have it? - to say, 'The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.' What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation - further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan." "  If he said the same about Jews this man would not be allowed in polite company and he would never be allowed to publish anywhere. 

Yellow journalism mixed with crude propaganda: Sam Dagher in the Wall Street Journal

Let us face it. America's favorite armed gangs in Syria are not doing well at all. Your hero, Gen. Engineer Dr. Salim Idriss is nowhere to be found; the Syrian national coalition can't even meet because of dissent and divisions; what used to be called "rebels and activists" are now basically a variety of Bin Laden's children (Nusrah versus ISIS), and what is left of the Fee Syrian Army often defects in whole units to ISIS as happened in the north just recently.  And there are no more defections from the Syrian regime--not even clerks and photographers--to celebrate in the Western media. So what to do in such cases?  Well, the best thing is to cook a propaganda story and fabricate a fable that only those fabricated it can believe it. Sam Dagher has this article which adheres to the lowest standards of journalism that I have seen (and the standards of journalism on Syria in the Western press are the lowest I have seen in a long time). But look how Dagher documents his story: "Two dozen people, including past and current regime officials, opposition leaders, activists and rebels, and politicians in neighboring countries with ties to Mr. Assad told The Wall Street Journal".  But in fact the two dozen people he mentions are the same people: they are Syrian opposition people and their handlers in the Arab intelligence services.  It is really one source. But the favorite part of the story is that it relies mostly on the account of Munaf Tlas. Mr. Tlas sat on this explosive story for three years and just now remembered it? I mean, who not share it when the oil media were desperate for your stories and inside information although you provided none. And now when nobody talks about Tlasn and when it became clear that all factions of the Syrian rebels are not ready to work with him, he decided to pick a willing cheerleader for the Syrian rebels to tell his story.  Only now? And I like how the revelation came on the 3rd anniversary of the bombing.  But here is my favorite part of the anthology of lies:  "One opposition activist said Mr. Shawkat seemed to be the regime representative most interested in the discussion."  What? Most interested in discussion? All the time when the Syrian war started and up until the time when the bomb exploded and long after Shawkat died, the entire media of the Syrian opposition (armed and unarmed) were talking about Shawkat as the butcher of Damascus and as the worst man in the entire regime.  So Dagher wants us to now forget that we read all those accounts and believe that the Syrian opposition believed that he was a man of moderation and negotiations?  Finally, I need to add one last bit: among Dagher's sources for this article is...Walid Jumblat. Need I say more?

House of Saud forces assaults `Awamiyyah last night (or early morning Saudi time)

Victim, Salim Abu `Abdullah.

Friday, December 19, 2014

"The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings"

"Human experimentation, in contrast, has not been politically refashioned into a legitimate or justifiable enterprise. Therefore, it would behoove us to appreciate the fact that the architects and implementers of black-site torments were authorized at the highest levels of the White House and CIA to experiment on human beings. Reading the report through this lens casts a different light on questions of accountability and impunity."

Israelis: when they try to claim that the handful of Arabs who are not opposed to Israel are "great"

Never mind that Salem does not promote Israel in Arabic, or that he has written anti-Semitic stuff, or that he is published in the mouthpiece of Prince Salman, or that his claim to fame is a plagiarized play.  From Khelil:  "I remember you writing about Ali Salem and how Zionist media are keen to promote him and exaggerate his significance (it would be more accurate to say they invent his significance) all because he traveled to Israel. The Jerusalem Post has found their favorite Egyptian and wants readers to know that this guy’s books are “classics” and cites by way of authority Daniel Pipes’ journal: “Salem has written 25 plays and 15 books, and some of them Egyptian classics, said the article.” Silly "

Nir Rosen

""In it, he argues that the armed opposition has become hopelessly radicalized, while the Assad regime is nonsectarian in nature." “While the Syrian state was not the most attractive one even before the 2011 uprising, it also was not the worst regime in the region,” he writes. “It has strong systems of education, health care and social welfare and compared to most Arab governments it was socially progressive and secular…. It had a solid infrastructure and a relatively effective civil service.” "Rosen also argues against the assumption that Assad presides over an Alawite-dominated regime. “Most of the regime is Sunni, most of its supporters are Sunnis, many [if] not most of its soldiers are Sunni,” he writes. “The regime may be brutal, authoritarian, corrupt and whatever else it is described as, but it should not be seen as representing a sect.” The sectarianism that does exist in Syria, Rosen argues, is preponderantly on the side of the anti-Assad opposition."" So Nir does not believe in the theory that the Sufis and whiskey fans are running the "revolution" anymore?

fair and free elections

"This must be why Republicans demand that Cuba holds “free and fair elections” before any agreement between them. Because the one thing connecting the people the US backed during those 50 years – from Pinochet to the Indonesian military; Saddam when they liked him; the Emir of Kuwait; the Saudi royal family; Assad when they liked him; the Shah of Iran; Marcos in the Philippines; and Bin Laden when they liked him – is you can’t mention their names without thinking the words “free and fair elections”."

Governments don't interfere in the art of Seth Rogen in the West

"The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film’s gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony Entertainment CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime."

Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen to Western civilization, from what I read in the US media, is what Victor Hugo was to French literature.

decades of US plans to kill Castro: Castro won

"Fleming, it is claimed, told Kennedy, that killing Fidel Castro was not simply enough, he had to be thoroughly humiliated." "Other agents studied the possibility of killing Castro while he was diving. Plans were discussed which considered infecting his air supply with a biological agent. But Desmond Fitzgerald, the CIA's former head of Cuban operations said he bought two books on Caribbean mollusks, to find a seashell suitable to hold an explosive device, which would kill the communist leader on the sea bed. Another plan, which seemed similar to one discussed at the Kennedy dinner table involved a CIA campaign describing Castro as the anti-Christ, while a US submarine would light up the sky with starbursts announcing the Second Coming." (thanks Amir)

Will we ever laugh again, in the Western world?

Will we be able to laugh again in the Western world now that Sony censored yet another hilarious art project from Seth Rogen? I doubt it.

Learn about Islam from US media: secular Fatwas and semi Fatwas and kabab fatwas

"STEVEN CLEMONS, EDITOR AT LARGE, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, I think it helps  the right, because it makes everyone concerned about what might happen on their street corner in their local mall. This is the kind of act that al Qaeda wouldn`t do. Al Qaeda bombed planes and took on trophy targets.  They didn`t go after small targets like this.

MATTHEWS: But anyone with --you don`t need ISIS and the territory they`ve grabbed, Iraq, Syrian territory. All you need is somebody with a Web site to issue these semi-fatwas. Remember, they`re secular fatwas. What do you  make of it? " (thanks Basim)

Sony movies

What will befall Western civilization without Sony movies and the art of Seth Rogen? I shudder when I think.

Hugh Naylor: his method of journalism

Would the foreign editor of the Post and Times allow a story about Israel to be attributed to "security officials and people in Israel, as he does here: "according to security officials and people in Lebanon".   He then adds: "has been widely reported in the Lebanese and Arabic media".  But he fails to add that the story only appeared in Saudi and Hariri media, exclusively. No other media reported about it.  But he leaves that out.  [This without me commenting on whether the story in question is true or not, or about what I know about it, but I am merely commenting about his method of documentation).  But this is my favorite part: Naylor says: "Hezbollah refuses to deny or confirm the reports", but then he cites this expert saying: "“Hezbollah’s response to this is very deliberate, and it’s a response that was certainly decided on by the senior leaders, even Hassan Nasrallah himself,” he said." Wait. You just said that Hizbullah had no response, and then cited an expert saying that its response is very deliberate, whatever that means??  Learn journalism from Mr. Naylor.

Gay Marriage in Lebanon II

Saja kindly translated my remarks from Arabic about the TV show on New TV in Lebanon, which dealt for the first time with gay marriage.
"Some remarks with regard to the “Lilnashr” show on gay marriage:
1)    Did you notice the episode’s formal title? It was “First public gay marriage for the eyes of Lebanese society.” What does “for the eyes of Lebanese society” mean? It insinuates incitement as if to call on Lebanese society to assault the two young men, or worse.
2)    Dear Pierre [Abi Sa`b, culture editor of Al-Akhbar] did a great job raising important points and answering questions but he wasn’t allowed to complete his points. Contrary to some inaccurate impressions of Pierre that stem from his civility and democratic spirit (in a positive way), Pierre is actually assertive in debates. I’ve seen him defend the resistance at a conference in Berlin and you would’ve thought he was about to brandish a sword.
3)    Why do religious figures get invited to discussions of this type? When did religious figures become experts on various life matters? Why do religious figures make the topics of food, drink and especially sexuality repulsive? This is their objective even if they don’t know it. Religious figures should only address their own fields of expertise albeit the orientalist Philip Hitti used to say that Muslim religious figures do not enjoy privilege over laypersons in religion (Abdullah Alayili shared a similar opinion).
4)    Who is this physician, George Yarid, who talks at the beginning of the show and compares the homosexual to the “normal person”? He said it twice. If the “physician” thinks this way, what would one expect of laypeople?
5)    What did Rima Karaki mean when she spoke of the gay “composition”? Is there a composition that differs from everyone else’s?
6)    Equality between homosexuals and heterosexuals requires avoiding both demonization and romanticization of homosexuals. They’re like everybody else; there are good and bad, funny and unfunny. Male chauvinism manifests itself in gay couples as it does in heterosexual couples. In the show Muhammad is insufferable and treats his boyfriend “Jennifer” with the same repression and control that a traditional man would display towards his wife. Frankly, I fear for “Jennifer” vis a vis both his boyfriend Muhammad as well as the rest of society. He didn’t let him speak and he was rude and admitted to his possessive drive in relationships. I’m concerned that “Jennifer” could be the victim of taunting in the relationship, which of course exists in homosexual relationships according to numerous studies in several societies.
7)    I fear that our racist society would accuse Syrians of bringing homosexuality to Lebanon since Muhammad is of Syrian origin. In fact, in his outstanding book, La Personnalité et le devenir arabo-islamiques even the unparalleled historian, Hisham Djait, blamed Persians for historically bringing homosexuality to Arab society. Seriously.
8)    The agenda behind discussing such topics in sensational shows (in both the west and east) isn’t a noble one, unfortunately. "

Sony art

How could a two-bit dictator in North Korea restrain or restrict the art production by...the Sony corporation. How could we then live?

Castro won

The US has asked for the release of what it termed "53 political prisoners" in Cuba.  America's closest allies in the Middle East hold 1000 times that number, without complaint from the US, of course.

Love poem to oil--kid you not

A Saudi columnist writes a love poem to the barrel of oil. (thanks Mariam)

Meet the jovial Saudi Minister of Oil

From the civil war in Lebanon

  The woman below (Samirah Bushnaq) was looking in 1986 for her two children after an explosion.  In the year 2002 (16 years later exactly), she posed for the picture (above) with her two children (now grown up, naturally).

New York Times calls the Sony movie with Seth Rogen "art"

"That determination and the cancellation of the film were new twists in a series of developments that has found a major studio fighting for its art".  It is art, by America's standards.  Hell, by America's standards Saturday Night Live is comedy.

The CIA Wikileaked report on Israeli terrorist campaign agaisnt Black September leaders

"Following the killing of 11 Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics in September 1972 by the Black September faction of the PLO Fatah organization, Israeli leaders initiated a multidecade effort to eliminate PLO leaders. The subsequent killings of suspected PLO militants across Europe and the Middle East included low-ranking officials with questionable connections to the Munich events, as well as a Moroccan waiter in Lillehammer, Norway, who had no connection to terrorism, according to a book by a British journalist. 126 The program’s secrecy prevented its integration with other diplomatic and
military initiatives. International pressure following the July 1973 death of the Moroccan waiter forced Israel to curtail the effort. 127"

According to CNN, Israel has also added Kobani to its occupation collection

(thanks Fadi)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

President of AUB

The dean of the medical school, Muhammad Sayigh, met with Fu'ad Sanyurah, seeking Hariri support for his candidacy for president of AUB. 


Are Muslims going to be blamed now for the cancellation of the Sony movie, Interview?

Putin and U.S. Media

I wish the US media would treat the US president with the same cynicism and criticism as they treat Putin.  

that makes is credible: according to the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate

"In Iraq, Jaysh Muhammad (JM) suffered a significant setback in late 2004 after British
forces captured the head of JM and his replacements in short succession, according to
the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate."

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of the U.S.?

Surprisingly, Americans have a very favorable view of the US.

The hazards of heterosexual behaviour

"The hazards of heterosexual behaviour have been well documented. They include, but are not limited to, unplanned pregnancies, penile and cervical cancer, vaginitis, a host of sexually transmitted diseases (some of them incurable or deadly), a disproportionate propensity to engage in child molestation, global overpopulation, socially oppressive gender roles, and more. A recurring pattern of these health disorders resulting from the union of the penis and vagina has been named heterocopulative syndrome. These people could pose a serious public health threat if such practices continue unchecked and may be especially dangerous if employed as food handlers.(2)"

Look how an Israeli Jewish racist terrorist group is described in the Times

"Lehava, long known for provocative anti-Arab activities".  Do you notice that Jewish racist groups are always referred to as "provocative" or "controversial" but not racist in US media?

Is Saudi Arabia funding the Al-Qa`idah branch in Yemen?

In all Saudi media reports of bombings by Al-Qa`idah branch are reported rather sympathetically. And when children are killed, Saudi media carry the headline: bombings target Huthis.

Greenpeace and its liberal offenses

"Greenpeace said the activists were from other South American countries and Europe. The group’s leaders apologized earlier and pledged to cooperate with the inquiry."  I bet you that they were all from Europe. 

An American diplomat informs Americans about the Somali people

"“There are three things important to a Somali — his wife, his camel and his weapon,” Mr. Oakley told The Times in 1992. “In the Somali soul, there is the right to have a weapon.”"  His wife remembers her husband: "“Their idea of a crisis was a stiff diplomatic note, whereas for Bob it was natives coming over the wall.”"  He carried the best tradition of American diplomacy and cultural sensitivity.

It seems that all groups in the US support torture

Some CIA lies

"Consider just three examples. Hayden claimed that all of those conducting the program were “carefully chosen and carefully screened” and underwent more than 250 hours of specialized training. In fact, the CIA’s records show that it chose interrogators who “had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault,” according to the Senate report. Some interrogators were given no training at all; others had 65 hours — not 250. "

Death from police

Obama believes in killing people, not in toruring them

"Instead of capturing suspected terrorists, Mr Obama prefers to have them blown to pieces by drone-fired missiles."

The Dalai Lama is speaking about...himself--kid you not

"There is no guarantee that some stupid Dalai Lama won't come next, who will disgrace himself or herself. That would be very sad. So, much better that a centuries-old tradition should cease at the time of a quite popular Dalai Lama." (thanks Basim)

Just explain it to me

If Iran or Cuba were to make a movie that deals with the assassination of an American president, there would be laughter in the US and the UN or an uproar?

The Interview

Regarding the Sony movie about North Korea, The Interview. How come no one mentions the most important element of the story: that the movie is so unfunny and that Seth Rogen was funny in no more than one movie.  We watched the trailer in the theater and it was painful to watch.

Israeli drones are tested on civilians

"Israeli drones are marketed as “battle proven” due to extensive Israeli use in attacks on the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Lebanon. The marketing strategies use the Israeli colonization of Palestine as a selling point."

Among the dead in Syria

"More than 120,000 fighters supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been killed in the country's civil war since it began in 2011, a group monitoring the war said on Wednesday." (thanks Amir)

Western just bombing

"Western just war theory progressed in lockstep with justifications of slavery."

US suppresses its own history toward Iran

""...senior State Department officials “decided to delay publication because of ongoing negotiations with Iran”...
Dr. Stephen P. Randolph, the Historian of the State Department, confirmed yesterday that the status of the Iran volume “remains as it was in September” and that no new publication date has been set....
The suppression of this history has been a source of frustration for decades, at least since the Department published a notorious 1989 volume on U.S. policy towards Iran that made no mention of CIA covert action.""

Gay marriage in Lebanon? For the first time on an 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)