Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Canadian gender-segregated school in Saudi Arabia

"Algonquin College is studying the feasibility of opening a women-only campus in Saudi Arabia after coming under fire from faculty members and the premier of Ontario for operating a campus just for men."

Western human rights organizations: how cute

"Human rights groups are smuggling thumb drives with movies, TV shows and information into North Korea." Yes, very cute and funny.  Would you also smuggle some of those flash drives to Saudi Arabia and other client dictatorships of the US? Let me see you do that.

You can't say there is no freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia

The sign says: "I plead with the Crown Prince of the Crown Prince to let me kiss his nose".  I am not making this up. He also left a phone number.

Former Foreign Minister of Qatar brags about Qatari democracy

Watch here.

Silly gimmicks from UAE

“It’s a historical decision,” said Saeed Al Nazari, an Emirati who started a UAE chapter of the Global Happiness Organisation, a non-profit body that aims to promote happiness worldwide. Mr Al Nazari – whose first name, aptly, means happy – said the move was a natural progression resulting from the Government’s focus on people’s satisfaction. Mr Al Nazari said the onus also fell on individuals to work towards happiness

“I always thought I was walking toward happiness, but now I know I am walking happily.” (thanks Basim)

Who will commit the gravest war crimes if elected

"The Republican candidates have seemingly been competing with one another over who would commit the gravest war crimes if elected. In recent months, one candidate or another has promised to waterboard, do a “helluva lot worse than waterboarding,” repopulate Guantánamo, engage in wars of aggression, kill families of suspected terrorists, and “carpet bomb” Middle Eastern countries until we find out if “sand can glow in the dark.” "

Before you celebrate her as a revolutionary icon

"Beyonce Concert in Tel Aviv, Israel. August 3, 2016"

Saudi regime as a regional hegemon

"Yet Riyadh seems to believe it has become some kind of new superpower overnight which is astonishing since it has done nothing at all during the past 60 years to resolve the injustice of the Palestine-Israel conflict and has always avoided any military intervention in that situation which one would have thought should be dear to its Arab and Moslem heart."

A history of the American University of Beirut

I highly recommend the book by Betty Anderson on the American University of Beirut: Arab Nationalism and Liberal Education, published by the University of Texas Press.  I only think that one chapter is missing about repression of students' rights over the decades by the administration, and the role of the university during the Cold War.  

The Israeli prime minister refers to Arabs and Africans as "wild beasts": imagine the uproar if an Arab were to say that

"Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to build a 15ft fence to surround the whole of Israel, saying that the country must “protect itself from wild beasts”. The Israeli Prime Minister appeared to use the extraordinary phrase – which has also been translated as “predators” – to describe both Palestinians and the people of neighbouring Arab states." (thanks Amir)

Bernie Sanders on Palestine from 1988: the headline is misleading, by the way

Notice that even back then, when he had far less political restraints, he stuck to the line of the Israeli lobby with very little deviations, unless you count his call for King Husayn to act as a courageous move.  And notice how soft his words are regarding Israeli killings, and notice that he talks about security for Israel constantly, while the Palestinian lives deserve little attention. And notice that he gets defensive about Israel quickly and equates rhetoric about Israel in Arab regimes media with the murder of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers.  And notice that his formula for a solution is exactly the formula of the Israeli lobby.  Would Sanders be better than Hillary on foreign policy? Well, knowing how the Democratic Party machine works, if he were to become the nominee (a big if, as Americans say), he would be supplied with the same Israeli lobby-tied "experts" to ensure that he would stay the course.  And remember that his favorite Arab is the King of Jordan. Some would say that he would be better on domestic politics than Hillary, and that is certain.  There are prescribed limits for change in the American political system, and the two parties with their archaic system of electoral choice ensured that no one can come and surprise their historic dominance.

This is the menu of a Syrian restaurant (Joury) in Amman

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Tyrants attract

"A Qatari regime propagandist opines on the Saudi/Qatari role in Syrian"

"This is a problem for Saudi and Qatar as they have massively invested into Syria via the moderate opposition as their surrogate on the ground," said Krieg, who also serves as a consultant to the Qatari armed forces." (thanks Basim)

Look how biased the New York Times is in reporting about Bernie Sanders? The empire is nervous

"while Mr. Sanders embraces a more dovish approach as the world seems to be getting more dangerous and complex."

Will Western media ever admit this? The plight of ISIS after Russian military intervention?

There is no question that Russia's intervention helped to prop up the lousy Syrian regime, and to cause advances for its troops, but could it be denied that Russian bombing has certainly weakened the reach of ISIS and has has especially been effective in disrupting the fuel convoys and sales of oil by ISIS?  

This is how Western media report battlefield developments in Syria

If Syrian rebels are advancing and if their bombs are falling over "government-held areas", this is treated as good news and great news for peace and democracy in Syria. But when regime troops advance, it is presented as a humanitarian crisis which requires not only Western assistance but urgent Western missiles and rockets.  And the Western correspondents in Beirut will always find the convenient Syrian to offer them pleas for Western military support: "The few Syrians who had made it to Turkey — because of their critical injuries — expressed shock that the United States, which has called for the removal of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, was not responding more concertedly, either militarily or diplomatically."

What Anne Barnard left out from the UN report on Syria

"The wrangling was juxtaposed uneasily with the release of a report by the four-member United Nations Commission of Inquiry, which diplomats view as an authoritative record of human rights developments in Syria, saying that the government of Mr. Assad had mounted a “systematic and widespread attack” on civilians.  The panel cited the arrests of tens of thousands of people who had been sent to interrogation centers and prisons, where many were tortured to death or left to die of their injuries, as part of a broader campaign of “murder, rape or other forms of sexual violence, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearance and other inhuman acts.”"  She left out, of course, that Syrian rebels were also accused of war crimes. How dishonest and unprofessional this is.

Staples of Israeli propaganda in the US

One of the staples of Israeli propaganda in the US is to stress the point: that there are indeed token Arabs in the Israeli Knesset.  Left unmentioned are the restraints under which the token Arab MPs operate, and what befall those who were seen as going too far in taking seriously the false promises of Israeli non-democracy.  Here is an Arab MP: make sure to include that picture on posters prepared by Israeli embassy in DC to distribute to chapters of the Israeli lobby on US college campuses.

If this is what Spring looks like, better prepare your umbrellas

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla (@Abdulkhaleq_UAE)
UAE massive government restructuring and Saudi Arabia national reform program, amount to top down Gulf Spring of a sort but a Khaleeji way

severe exhaustion can lead to this type of false confession

"Although hard to fathom, false confessions happen surprisingly often; they are thought to play a role in up to a quarter of wrongful convictions in the US, according to the campaign group the Innocence Project." "Now a study has shed more light on how easily severe exhaustion can lead to this type of false confession." "It might seem obvious that people who are dead tired can make stupid decisions – but there is a long history of police and army interrogators using sleep deprivation as an interview technique." (thanks Amir)

Carnegie's apologia for the Sisi coup

"in addition to the Muslim Brotherhood’s own jarringly clumsy political touch, left the military seeing no choice but to assume the task it had wished to avoid all along: ruling and governing at the same time. Indeed, in July 2013, when Sisi declared that Morsi was no longer president, Egypt’s prospects looked dim: the economy was flirting with disaster (foreign currency reserves were less than three months’ worth of imports), society was deeply polarized (with the president’s proponents and opponents frequently engaged in street battles), the Sinai Peninsula was rocked by terrorist attacks, and neighboring countries were imploding. To the military, the only option seemed to be to rescuing the country from catastrophic collapse by imposing order, whatever the cost."

Monday, February 08, 2016

How to improve American football: a plan of revisions

Having watched the first Super Bowl (I first spelled it Super Ball) ever (I think it was my second but my wife, Michele--a fanatic fan of Kansas City team--does not agree because she said that I watched one with an IPad in hand, which does not count for her), I have a few suggestions to improve the game for players and for spectators:
1) Eliminate the weirdly shaped ball and get a normal football.
2) According to the new rules, players can compete for the ball but without any physical contact of any kind. That would be better for the health of the players in retirement.
3) Eliminate the association between the game and patriotism.
4) Eliminate the association between the game and religion: Yesterday, Manning suggested that his team's victory was purely due to God's intervention on his side. And what makes you think that God understands the rules of the game to follow it that closely?
5) End once and for all the interruptions in the game. It is so slow and they stop the clock every minute. That makes it very boring. Give them two hours to play, but without any interruption whatsoever. If people violate the rules, they can be punished later.
6) We don't need to see the wealthy and famous as they watch the game.
7) End the gender segregation in the game.
8) Please eliminate cheerleaders. It is so unnecessary and stupid and seems to belong to an era decades before the women's movement.
9) to end the worship of the sports figure and the crazy intense competition for teams and between them, pay players the minimum wage, and not one cent more.

Sisi republic

Please let me know if Western academics are planning to sign petition for the non-Italian victims of the Sisi republic. Thanks.

New Ministries in UAE

Sheikh Mo of Dubai announced new ministries in UAE: Ministry of polygamy, ministry of racial discrimination, ministry for the mistreatment of domestic workers, ministry for sexual exploitation of women, and ministry for the rationalization of monopolization of oil wealth by British-designated ruling dynasties. 

Here, Rafiq Hariri is seen working for the independence of Lebanon from Syrian hegemony

This won't be on the agenda of Beirut office of Human Rights Watch

Hariri family posted signs all over Sidon asking: How is Sidon?  People circulated photoshopped version of the poster but with answers to the situation in Sidon.  The Lebanese militia of Intelligence Branch (run by US and Saudi intelligence) went and stormed into the house of a Lebanese artist and accused him of "distorting pictures".  I am not making this up. Watch this. 

Gloria Steinem wants you to support the women to the left of the picture for pressing for women's rights worldwide

This US "expert" on Islamic groups believes that Al-Qa`idah videos should be aired and circulated without any qualification

Let me guess: this person would not be calling for the release and distribution of videos by Al-Qa`idah which feature "confessions" by American or Israeli soldiers in captivity.  But he is fully in favor of the release of propaganda videos by Al-Qa`idah if the prisoners are enemies of US and Israel. I get it. He is consistently inconsistent.
Phillip Smyth (@PhillipSmyth)
Incredible work! @carolmalouf's much awaited interview with captured Lebanese Hizballah members taken in Rif Halab.

The grotesque regime of Asad in Syria

Al-Mayadin has revealed that Hafidh Al-Asad had met in secret with Bashir Gemayel.  Let the supporters of the Syrian regime attempt to defend this one.

ISIS and the thought of Sayyid Qutb

The relationship between ISIS and the thought of Sayyid Qutb.

Gulf regimes want to urge a regime to improve human rights? This is like asking US to promote democracy in the Middle East

"For now the Gulf States should use their influence including economic aid to encourage Sisi to ease the tensions within Egypt. Releasing activists, unshackling the media, allowing NGOs to operate freely and loosening his insufferable stranglehold on political life in Egypt. For the Gulf States Sisi's redeeming characteristic was that he was no friend of the Muslim Brotherhood. The past two and a half years have demonstrated that he is little more than that."

Sisi following the orders of Israel

"Yuval Steinitz, the energy minister, revealed on Saturday that Egypt's decision to flood the underground supply tunnels run by Hamas from the Egyptian Sinai into Gaza had been to a "certain extent at Israel's request". Security co-operation with Egypt was "better than ever", he added."

Saudi regime (ally of US and Israel) sentences Palestinian poet to torture instead of death

"A Saudi court ruled this week that instead of beheading Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, he will now face flogging and eight years in prison as punishment for what state religious authorities consider to be crimes against Islam." "Regarding his book Instructions Within, Fayadh told The Guardian last year that it was “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.” "

Hollywood and Apartheid regime

"For the last several years there has been a concerted effort in the entertainment industry to push back against the growing strength of the BDS movement. Most notable is the organization the Creative Community for Peace, which has ties to StandWithUs, a right-wing pro-settler organization that works closely with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and works to fight the cultural boycott of Israel."

Israel courts 4th rate celebrities--just anyone from Hollywood

"Top Academy Award nominees will have a politically charged gift in their swag bag this year - a luxury trip to Israel paid for in part by a government that hopes such celebrity junkets will offset news coverage of the country's troubles." (thanks Basim)

Obama's contribution to Israel and its war crimes

"Despite a “particularly challenging budget environment” in the US, the administration is willing to sign a memorandum of understanding for “the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in US history,” a senior US official told the Haaretz newspaper Sunday night." "Obama had approved $20.5 billion dollars for military support for Israel since becoming president, plus $3 billion for anti-missile systems, he said." (thanks Amir)

New trends in US social science

Edward Said talked in Orientalism about the distinction in US social science between political knowledge and pure knowledge.  But things are worse now than they were in the late 1970s.  I can't imagine someone back in the late 1970s writing a PhD dissertation in the finances of Abu Nidal or in the structure of a drug cartel.  But I now see an avalanche of new PhDs writings about the finances of ISIS and such. Who are those professors/advisers approving such topics at US and European universities? And why are the lines between the "terrorism studies" and political science being blurred? In my days, there was a contempt for terrorism studies in US political science department, and this explains how Georgetown University severed its ties with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in DC.  The answer is partly due to funding opportunities and partly due to people who want to become media visible.  A yet another disturbing trend in US social science.  I say that as I see the large number of books and articles on ISIS: how many articles or books being written on, say, social classes in the Middle East, or women in Middle East society, and the life of Palestinians under occupation, or about Zionism and Israeli intervention in the region?

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The trouble with US foreign policy

You know the severe problems of US foreign policies when presidential candidates, from Bernie Sanders to Marco Rubio, cite the wisdom of the King of Jordan.  Hopeless.

Vietnam: a celebration of liberation

Rare images.

What about holding terrorist babies? Would that be illegal too?

"Netanyahu Seeks to Oust Lawmakers Who Meet With Terrorists' Families".  If it was not for US unconditional support, Israel would have been the most mocked (and condemned) entity on earth.

Another achievement by an Israeli dishes

I can't keep up with the contributions and innovations of Israeli chefs.  Those are the ones who take Middle East (non-Israeli) cuisine to another level.  An Israeli chef just announced that he was the first person to ever pour olive oil on a Hummus plate. This will go into the new edition of Israeli cookbooks (subtitled: what we steal from the food of the occupied).  

Muhammad Alloush, of the Army of Islam, explains that he made clear to Riyadh his opposition to secularism

The Organization which put civilians in cages as human shields, obtained White House approval as legitimate opposition member in Geneva

Cities and towns in Syria

So I don't understand. So do Syrian cities and towns "fall" if they come under the control of foreign fighters, say, from Chechnya or Saudi Arabia?  As one Western journalist who is sympathetic to the Syrian "revolution", wrote to me today: "Yes there is a constant stream of articles about Aleppo's "fall." A bit strange to call a government regaining control of its own territory "falling." Aleppo city was not a pro opposition city and part of it was conquered by foreign backed insurgents who invaded from the countryside. Its not like the residents of that city wanted the insurgents to come in."  Personally, I want the whole of Syria to fall out of the control of both: the Syrian regime and the Syrian rebels.