Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 2012

Discriminated against on all sides: Palestinians with Israel passport

How could you figure out this paradox: An Arab State (probably Qatar) invited two Jewish Israeli swimmers to participate in a sport event, and denied a Palestinian scholar (see not) to attend a scientific conference on the ground that his passport is Israeli?

In 1948, only about 150,000 Palestinians steadfastly remained and held on their land while Israel was pursuing its policy of “transferring” all Palestinians from Palestine, by all means available, including genocide and erasing entire villages…

Those 150,000 Palestinians living within the State of Israel suffered all kinds of discrimination, humiliations and indignities and they are currently around 1.5 million or 20% of Israel total population. 

Mind you that the Jews in Palestine during the British mandated power over Palestine were less than 20% before WWII, and the Zionist organization pressured the British Empire never to engage in any democratic election in Palestine, as long as the Jews are in the minority. The British failure to conduct even municipal election lead to a mass civil disobedience that lasted 4 years (1935-1938) and prompted Britain to dispatch 100,000 soldiers to put down this intifada.

It is these Palestinians who supposedly enjoy the same civil rights as the Jews in Israel that worry greatly the racist and apartheid State of Israel.  The radical Jewish right wings want a totally Jewish State and abhor the existence of those “Arabs” in their midst. In the last decade, there has been a frenetic flurry of apartheid laws, enacted by the Knesset, in order to restrict the civil rights of the Israeli Palestinians, and threaten them of massive transfer to the Palestinian State if the UN decides for an independent Palestinian State…

The “Israeli Arabs” as the Zionists would like to discriminate against the Israeli Palestinians know their rights as Israeli citizens and keep demanding their entitled rights from the Justice system and the Israeli institutions.

For example, the “Israeli Palestinians” launched the “Homeland Day” on March 30, 1976 and conducted civil disobedience to resist any further expropriation of their properties.  Plenty of blood was shed as the Israeli army intervened violently. The “Homeland Day” is celebrated every year by Palestinians all over the world.

The “Israeli Palestinians” participated in the “1987 Intifada” (civil disobedience), which was organized by the Palestinians in the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza, and the Israeli police force quelled the peaceful demonstrations of the “Israeli Palestinians” in the norther cities and towns and dozens were killed and injured. Actually, the “Homeland Day” is basically celebrated to keep the memory of the martyred Israeli Palestinians who fell by the Israeli police on that day.

Israel wanted to transfer all Palestinians from Israel, but time was pressing and the western States needed to keep a “sample of Palestinians” within Israel to demonstrate that the UN resolution of 1948 of two homelands was still on the books.  Without a sample of Palestinians within the State of Israel, it would have been totally untenable to keep supporting an apartheid system and claim Israel as the “sole democracy” in the Middle-East.

I knew one Israeli Palestinian (labelled Palestinians of 1948 by the “Arabs”) during my graduate study in the USA, and he was very sad, aloof, and perturbed. Kind of not knowing who he really is: an arab, an Israeli, an enemy to the “Arabs”, a spy to the Israeli government…Basically, the problem was “How am I perceived by the “Arabs” around me and by the Jews?”

Is is an outrage that Arab States and “Arabs” in general tend to discriminate against the Israeli Palestinians, instead of viewing them as their main ally to rectify harms done in the last 6 decades…

Note: Marwan Duwairy, a Palestinian Israeli and a social psychology researcher, is the scholar who was discriminated against by an Arab State. The university of Columbia (USA) had publihed his book in 2006 on social therapy and has been invited by many scientific conferences to give speeches. He currently resides in Israel.

“The boardwalk’s rough planks, a nod to maritime authenticity, present a design flaw perhaps foreseeable in this city: Women with Louis Vuitton handbags are forever extracting their spike heels from the cracks.”

Charlize Theron’s feet would have a rough time in Beirut

Habib (see note 2) criticized this article and wrote:

“That’s correct my beautiful people, you might want to leave those Louboutins at home.  One air-kissing lipstick lady cooed in a mix of Beirut Italiano: “Finito la mishkala!” (The problems are over!)

To whom the headline “Resurgent Beirut Offers Haven Amid Turmoil…” apply to?

Does it address the hundreds of thousands of Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Sudanese and other refugees that scrape together a meager existence against the xenophobic threats of locals in this tiny fear-soaked, lawless strip of Mediterranean coast?

Or is it the majority of Lebanon’s 4 million population that spends half their lives without proper electricity and no adequate potable water because the Sate is too corrupt to provide it?

Does this “eddy of peace” as the Times writer calls it, provide refuge to young college grads who flee this country in droves (50% of them) because they know they cannot be protected against the gangsters that brazenly roam the streets in black tinted windows?

Does it shelter the hard-working young professionals who have no choice but to remain and cannot afford a home in Beirut because their clan did not rob a bank or buy one?

Does Lebanon appeal to aspiring local journalists when there is no rule of law, no functioning judicial system and where assassinations are the norm?

The Times writer reminds us that “Lebanon’s leaders scramble to keep the political peace.”

Missing in this shallow missive is the fact that over $100 billion dollars is sitting in secret deposits managed by the country’s banking dynasties to help those leaders “cope” with the rough job they have, and have had for generations.

Other dictators must be envious of the Lebanese elite.

Who wants to spoil the couch comfort food of the Saturday Times with real problems and real people? This article is not about locals. Why should it be? It’s written for tortured Western minds for whom “Lebanon’s image remains frozen in old snapshots: sectarian massacres, hostages tied to radiators…”

What a shame that: “Many Westerners do not realize that Lebanon is still safe, and fun.”

Perhaps what Beirut really needs is more signs like this:

credit: Dizzy Dee

“Surely a small measure could help bring us closer to “Lebanon’s latest effort to recapture the prewar 1960s — when Brigitte Bardot was a regular and Beirut was a fashionable port of call.”

Or was that whole “Paris of the Middle East” narrative, so effortlessly recast, just a product of a long tradition of American editors sending reporters parachuting into ‘exotic’ places they know little about?” End of Habib quote

Note 1: I am reading an exciting French book “A Taxi for Benghazi” by Marie-Lys Lubrano,  and the author was in Egypt as Mubarak was ousted from power as a free-lance photographer, and she had a mind of going to Yemen where the action is.

Libya had just started the insurrection, and Marie-Lys had no idea that Libya was on the border with Egypt, and she thought Tripoli was the Lebanese norther port city, and she could not recall the name Qadhafi who erected his tent in 2007 in Paris before meeting with President Sarkozy….

And these young foreign photographers and correspondents rush to cover dangerous events, not knowing that the country is in a state of war…

Note 2:

Spoil the kids: Puck out the thorns and lick the wounds…

My youngest teen age niece (15) is practically dyslexic or “Focus Dyslexia Syndrome” (my medical term): She cannot focus on anything but Harry Potter movies.  She hate to read, hate to study history, geography…She abhors math, physics, chemistry, religion…She cannot stand learning French and Arabic…You name it: She hate anything related to studying, and her mother ends up doing her homework, preparing her “study schedule”, fetching her books, going through her notebooks, coloring her drawing…and fixing her sandwiches and buying her all the chips and candies she likes…While my niece is sprawled on the poof or curled up on the bed, faking to study…

Do you know of anyone doing math or physics problems and exercises while lying down? My niece hates to sit down on a chair, facing a steady desk…All she wants is to go to Hollywood and become an actress?

I am very suspicious: This private school is passing her on purpose.  As long as she is not violent, coming on time, not carrying in a dangerous weapon…doing good in sports, dancing, acting in the school plays, and volunteering painting and drawing for ceremonies…And her five other siblings who had studied there, a few were bright and the remaining lovable and cooperating…This private school needs the money.

You think that my youngest niece is daydreaming: She is not! Her brain is not normally structured to focus longer than microsecond. The only time she seems focused is getting ready for a birthday party. The entire day is not long enough to be ready for the exciting event: And as long as the time for the party is about 15 minutes away, she is still changing and doing her face, and harassing everyone around, particularly her mother and her available sister, for feedback on how she looks and how the countless little pieces of cloths match…And what pair of shoes she should be wearing.  By the time she is gone, two large closets are to be re-arranged…

My other niece (18) is doing fashion design at a university. She is apparently bright, but totally lacks the sense of initiative. Can you believe that during the 12-day vacation, she spent it sitting put on the computer watching an old series, which ran for eight years? Why? Because her elder brother did it for two straight weeks until he felt better, and out of “depression phase”.

And as her dad asked her to relinquish the computer because he has work to do she got into a mad fit of anger. Why was she so hysteric? Because her dad should have used the computer while she was sleeping her blessed 10-hour night! She was so crazy mad that she cursed her dad several times and slammed the computer. This time around, the computer didn’t break, so many other times were not that lucky, and expensive equipment were chattered…

And their mother is still doing the beds, feeding them watching movies or chatting on the computer, “mom, hey mom…are you deaf? Bring me the water bottle”, taking them errands several times a day, taking them to school, preparing their homework, buying them gifts for the countless birthday events… everything must be new from head to toe…and the closets are bursting and the pairs of shoes getting outmoded by the week…and their is no money to satisfy the whims of these totally spoiled kids who are never satisfied or contented…

And they blame me for not getting married and with children! I would have committed murder, the sooner the better: I would have saved plenty of money and gotten rid of rotten fruits early on…I doubt that I would be in jail: My violent acts would be categorized as self-defence, pleading insanity for brutal and consistent assault, father’s right to chastise incorrigible brats…

Like this 4-year-old Saudi kid who shot his dad because he refused to buy him an iPhone?

I hear: “kids are curious by nature…” Curious my ass. They are curious about physical games and playing roles.  Everything else must be coerced in their throat.

Nurture is the key term: Nature and genes are the “black Box” we throw every imaginable causes of our failures in, failing doing our due diligence in coaxing and coercing our kids to doing their jobs and daily tasks…

What about this other kind of spoiling kids. You have this mother living in Paris most of the year. Her 40 year-old got married, and never lived in Lebanon. She married her son in Paris and four months later, she returned to town in Lebanon.  Through third and fourth intermediaries, she disseminated the news that her son is coming for a week to receive congratulations. Nothing wrong with accepting congratulation, mind you.  The hicks is that all her close relatives and cousins and elder aunts and uncles are at walking distance, but she preferred not to pay them any visit and tell them the “great news”. Most of the aunts and uncles cannot even get out of their homes, and they are supposed to hire ambulances so that they pay their “respect” to her, as if she is a big shot and running for any kind of election…

A 40 year-old not daring confronting his mother for basic common sense…


Africans shocked by uncivilized antics of European savages

Africans say they have little hope that Europe will ever become civilized.

Spain’s King Carlos spent a week on elephant-killing spree and the Swedish Culture Minister was entertained by a racially offensive cake, designed to look like a racist caricature of an African woman.

“You can take the European out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the European,” sighed one resident of Kinshasa.


August Mwanasa, of Libreville in Gabon, said the latest atrocities didn’t surprise him as Europeans were still “savages”.  Mwanasa said: “I don’t want to sound racist, and some of my best friend are white, but let’s be honest: violence is hard-wired into their DNA. I mean, Europeans killed over 20 million other Europeans in the 1930s and 1940s. That’s barbarism on a scale unprecedented in history.”

Jenkins Odumbe, a Nairobi milliner, bemoaned ingrained attitudes of entitlement in Europe. Odumbe said: “If they’re not going on the dole they’re asking for bail-outs. Why can’t they just get up earlier and work harder, that’s what I want to know?

Liberte Aidoo,  a Ghanaian travel agent, said she had been “shocked and disgusted” by what she found on her first trip to Spain: “The brochures promise sea and sun, but they’re still incredibly backward in Spain. Basically they all live in mud huts called haciendas, and they sleep for two hours in the middle of the day. In Europe they call it a ‘siesta’. In Ghana we call it ‘being fucking lazy’.”

She added that this kind of “depressing inertia” was to be expected in a country with more debt than most of Africa combined.

Meanwhile, most Africans have dismissed calls for Swedish Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth to resign following the debacle in which she was photographed eating a cake designed to look like a racist caricature of an African woman.

Burundian sociologist, Descarte Tugiramahoro said: “The only people calling for her to resign are European liberals hiding behind a thin veneer of civilization. We Africans are not shocked in the slightest. All she’s doing is engaging in two ancient European rituals: giggling at people who look different, and symbolic cannibalism, as introduced by the Catholic Church. It’s all completely normal.”

Women And Seeds For Resistance

Gabriela De Cicco posted an article from AWID International Forum published on April 4:

FRIDAY FILE: The onslaught of transgenic food production, the advance of agribusiness driven single-crop farming, and the exploitative economic development model, are putting food sovereignty at risk.

Those supporting and reinforcing these practices, including transnational corporations, are more focused on profit than caring for food and natural resources.

Women and Seeds for Resistance[1]
AWID spoke to Chilean peasant activist Francisca Rodriguez[2]about a campaign to defend seeds as a resistance practice in the face of corporate power.

This article is part of a series examining some of the issues and discussions related to the theme of the 2012 AWID International Forum that makes connections between women’s human rights issues and economic power. More information on the private sector and corporate power is available here.

Gabriela De Cicco wrote:

“In 2001, women from Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC, Latin American Coordination of Peasant Organizations) met in Mexico for the 2nd Continental Assembly of Peasant Women “Peasant women sowing a millennium of life, justice and equality”.

Following this meeting, the women submitted the idea of launching a global campaign to defend autochthonous and indigenous seeds to the 3rd CLOC and La Via Campesina (LVC) Congress.

In 2002, during a Forum held in parallel to the World Food Summit, La Via Campesina and Friends of the Earth International together with other organizations launched the global campaign, initially called “Seeds as the Common Heritage of Humanity”.[3]

The Campaign is based on the multiple forms of indigenous and peasant knowledge about seeds, agriculture and biodiversity as valid in and of themselves, requiring no validation from outside sources, scientific or other. It seeks effective ways to involve and engage society as a whole, including requesting the support of technicians and scientists when the processes of biological and cultural erosion deem it necessary.

Leadership and final decision-making rests with LVC, peasant and indigenous organizations and communities. The Campaign is part of the struggle to defend, reinforce and/or recover peoples’ political, cultural, economic and food sovereignty, and its actions are framed within a broader struggle against the capitalist system and its neoliberal phase.

It is therefore also part of the search for alternative peoples’ projects and is closely linked to the defense of peasant and indigenous lands, territories and cultures.

In each country, the Campaign is conducted according to local realities, through biodiversity fares, local markets and seeds exchanges.[4]

AWID: Why did you choose seeds as the campaign?

Francisca Rodríguez (FR) said: “We were discussing food sovereignty (FS) in Mexico, and we reached the conclusion that we were doing food sovereignty in all its dimensions and while men were talking about it they were not fully taking it on.  We realised that FS was going to be at risk because even if agrarian reform happened, if we did not defend the seed, the reform was going to be left to the will of transnational seed corporations. It was therefore not an emotional, heart-driven identity; it was a political decision to propose the Campaign”.

AWID: Why did the name for the Campaign change?

FR: At Rio +10, in Johannesburg 2002, the transnational seed corporation Monsanto agreed that seeds were humanity’s heritage because in that case all of us would have a right to them, including the company. We almost had a heart attack! And we questioned our strategy, so it was in our second meeting in Caaguazu, south of Paraguay. We said: “No, they are not the heritage of humanity, they are the heritage of our indigenous and peasant people, of women who created and placed them for the good of humanity.”

The key to food sovereignty is in the seed – everything begins there. There can be no food sovereignty without the seed. There can be no agrarian reform without seeds. We cannot be sovereign people if we don’t have our own seeds.

We lost everything and now we are subjected to what the food industry – that took over our seeds – wants to offer and sell to us, influencing how we eat and also how we live.

AWID: How are women involved in the Campaign?

FR: With great conviction. We say the Campaign is magic because not only does it call us but it makes us visible again; it raises our self-esteem; we feel women are finally acknowledged as having wisdom.   To some extent we recovered the notion that we were the first farmers, the discoverers of seeds and we have kept taking care of them for centuries, reproducing them.

The Campaign empowers us. We are no longer mere housewives but those who take care of the vegetable garden, preserve the seed, reproduce the seed and reproduce life.

AWID: How is the Campaign contributing to women’s economic rights?

FR: It was a battle for recognition, but today they are much more visible. Nowadays, the very existence and survival of the peasant world has a woman’s strength, because many rural households are held together by women’s labour and agricultural practices.

This is why recovering and sharing our knowledge in the face of agro-ecology, not as a fad, but as indigenous and peasants’ own production systems, is integral to the campaign.

AWID: Why are you in disagreement with the notion of food security

FR: We are against it because the notion of food security, both that of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and of governments, is related to people’ ability to acquire food and not to their need to produce food or their ability to establish solidarity and horizontal relationships between peoples to guarantee the basic right to food.

We want healthy, culturally adequate food, produced by peasants themselves to be accessible to all. Food is a right, not a business. And so our claim is for governments to invest. That is where we need to have resources available, because it is their obligation and duty to guarantee people’s access to food.

Today people are not aware of what they eat and there is less access to information for most of those at the grassroots. This is why we are going to defend agro-ecology, so it does not become just another business. Urban agriculture is found at the middle classes, it is elitist, for those who can pay more for their health. We want to bring our production to people at the local markets; bring the country produce to town and get rid of the chain of intermediaries.

So that people know where their vegetables came from and who and what conditions produced them. To the extent that people in cities understand this, peasant agriculture will be saved. Agrarian reform is not a social process, it is a life process, guarding people’s right to food

AWID: Could you give us an example of a specific action that made a transnational company back down?

FR: In Chile, we demanded to be informed where the transgenic seedbeds were. By law, there can be no transgenic food production in Chile but still transgenic are all around. Monsanto argued they could not reveal it because there was a vandal organization, affiliated with La Via Campesina – that is, ANAMURI – that was ‘placing humanity’s advancements at risk’.

When the Tribunal ruled in our favour and Monsanto was forced to reveal the location of seedbeds, the company appealed but our claim against the UPOV Agreement was so strong that Monsanto withdrew the charges against us. In Paraguay, women along with the Agriculture and Plants Department went around plucking the clandestine transgenic fields of crops.

Having food sovereignty recognized as a right and the protection for our seeds included in the Constitutions of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia is a step forward. As is having food sovereignty and security laws including the issue of seeds in Uruguay, Paraguay and Nicaragua!

The notion of food sovereignty and the concern about the seed is no longer the peasants’ only; it is also a concern for environmentalists and ecologists.  It is growing in the awareness of grassroots people and it will be discussed in Rio +20, it is already in international fora.

AWID: What are the future challenges?

FR: Today we need land and seeds, because the market has appropriated the seeds. Our campaign to multiply seeds is urgent. We don’t need a vegetable garden we need fields.  We are willing to take risks and break the laws that recriminalize the production of peasant seeds. This means resisting State agricultural policies to build sovereignty in our fields. Food sovereignty goes beyond merely preserving the seed or securing food; it is our rights that are at stake, it is peasant survival.

It is hard work, demanding strong commitment, because it is not only about recovering the seed but also everything associated with it. And those are the values: spirituality, solidarity and camaraderie among us. Those value elements behind the Campaign allow it to be well received by the people we can relate to and can reach out to.

And because we are an organization, there is a huge demand for women to go out and talk about this. And the more we do it, the more we get committed and passionate about it. You mention the seed and I lighten up. You mention women and the same happens. Because I think the seed comes together with us, and we come together with the seed; they are seeds of freedom, seeds of autonomy, seeds of justice and seeds of dignity; seeds of resistance and we are women in resistance.

Note [1] “Seeds: Heritage of the People for the Good of Humanity” Campaign. This is the name by which it is currently known; its earlier name, as stated, was “Seeds: Humanity’s Common Heritage”.

Note [2] Belonging to ANAMURI (National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women) and to Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC-VC, Latin American Coordination of Peasant Organizations)

Note [3] Final document, CLOC-V.C. Seed Campaign meeting, Quito, July 22-24, 2010, drafted by Francisca Ramirez. We thank FR for sharing this document with us.

Note [4] In Chile there are seed curators’ schools. The purpose of these schools is not to lose this ancient knowledge. “The curator is who watches over, who guards, who protects the seed”. In Ecuador, there are huge food sovereignty tables, held in parks.

Not a Hermit: No one wants to pay for taking me out

I am told and I read of many cases of mid-age persons ending up releasing their old friends from their “sworn life-long allegiance” and being reduced to the forced hermit life.

Like those suffering from the Old Git Complacency Syndrome, who are barricaded in their shed. Family members get calls to speak to the modern hermit, and they had to answer: “He is not to be disturbed. He is in the shed. He could be in Somalia for all we know. Three weeks ago, we saw a satellite dish installed in the shed. Otherwise, we have no evidence that he is alive…” (from Marcus Buckmann)

It is not my case: I never had close friends to call on me or propose to come and give me a lift for a day out or a night out…Why? (I detailed the causes in my Autobiography and Diary categories) 

How can you incorporated in a company of “friends” if You are the silent member, you never learned to swear, could not afford to pay your share, much less pay for the company round of beer…?

I am not a hermit: I do take baths, shave almost every day, change the design of my beard and moustaches, change my underwear and under shirt, love to eat and eat everything available and more, still ogle pretty women, and my body postures demonstrate my constant habit of hitting on pretty women…

I am not a hermit: I like to go hiking, swimming when asked to join the party, going dancing…The problem is no one wants to pay for taking me out…

Summer time is tough: It is suffocating and it never rains once during seven months. How often per day should I change shorts and undershirts to prove that I am no hermit?

Winter time is tough: A tad more manageable than summer hot season, and I don’t have to provide excuses for my hermit situation…

In winter, I have so many pieces of cloths, mostly hand-me-down, though I am the elder of the extended family members…In any case, a decent black long coat covers all, and I am ever ready to join the invitation party…

Strange, most of the invitations are last minutes decisions: “We are leaving in two minutes..” No problem, I am ready.  “But you don’t look presentable…” No problem: I shave in one minute and wear my long coat…And I know the location of the long coat in the overcrowded closet…

My real headache is: “What pair of shoes shall I wear for the occasion?  Hiking, going to wedding, going dancing, going to pay condolences…How oftern shall I keep glueing my shoes for particular occasions?” 

It is not that I am concerned with matching shoes to what I wear: They are falling apart and no replacement pairs are coming forth…

And people keep thinking of books for gifts, and I tell them: “Thanks for the thought. Cash is always welcomed. A comfortable all-weather pair of shoes is ideal…” Unfortunately, my small feet do not match hand-me-down shoes. I tell the women members that their worn out sneakers are fine with me, but they refuse to give them on the ground the shoes look feminine…As if walking discriminates on genders…


Still Marching for secular reforms? What distance the Lebanese have to travel for civil rights?

It is no longer this game of replacing a dictator here and an absolute monarch there:  The youth in Lebanon want to change the sectarian political and social structure.

It is no longer replacing a feudal leader here or a warlord there: The youth in Lebanon want to change the archaic and medieval system in Lebanon that used and abused the Lebanese since independence in 1943.

It is no longer substituting a sectarian political party in this government with another one in the Parliament:  The youth in Lebanon want to step forward vigorously into the modern age.

Alex Rowell posted on April 20 “Lebanese march for secularism

“In two weeks and two days, the Lebanese Laïque (secular) Pride activist group will hold its third annual Seculars March Towards Citizenship, a 3-hour procession from Sanayeh to Ain el-Mraisseh (in Beirut), calling for “a secular civil state founded on citizenship” and “the abolition of institutional sectarianism”.

Demonstrators carry placards at a previous Lebanese Laïque Pride march (Photo courtesy of Lebanese Laïque Pride Facebook group)

The six key demands of the Laique Pride are:

1. Enacting a unified Civil Code for the Personal Status Law (Personal Status is identified by each of the 18 officially recognized religious sect)
2. Passing the Law for Protection of Women from Family Violence submitted by KAFA to the Lebanese parliament
3. Abolishing article 522 of the penal law, which drops charges against a rapist if he marries his victim
4. Amending the nationality law for the right of Lebanese women to grant their nationality to their family members
5. Passing the Draft Law Prohibiting the Pre-Censorship [of] Cinema and Theatre
6. Withdrawing the Lebanese Internet Regulation Act (LIRA) draft law

I’m aware that some Lebanese think that it is a rather good thing that, in their country, wives may be legally raped and beaten; marital and inheritance disputes are settled by theologians; films and plays are routinely censored; and a child born to the wrong faith can’t become president.

For those who feel otherwise, however, the march starts at 16:00 at Sanayeh Gardens, May 6th.” End of Rowell post.

Long and uninterrupted waves of protests and uprising are invading the streets of this dormant lake in the “Arab” world.  It has been two months that raging and determined upheavals have been buffeting the lax and antiquated “Arab” regimes.

The youth in Lebanon have been calling for mass demonstrations to rebuilding a governing system based on citizenship vital rights for equality, fairness, and justice to all; regardless of religious affiliation, feudal mentality, genders differentiation in the public service jobs and the voting rights under a fair and equitable representation of all classes and strata in society.

The youth in Lebanon are calling to march for a modern Lebanon and the youth have been delivering under heavy rain.

This time around, it is no longer sectarian and feudal political parties calling for mass demonstrations for a political sectarian gain, for a feudal equilibrium political sharing gimmick, for oligarchic domination of one sect or one foreign influence policy.

If the old guards of the political system want to maintain a sectarian structure, the youth want nothing to do with it.

If the old guards of clerics, feudal, and comprador monopolist merchants are very satisfied with an archaic system, the youth in Lebanon want this structure down and done with.

This is a genuine uprising of a new Lebanon, tired and exhausted, buffeted for 6 decades by comfortably established sectarian and feudal “leaders’.  The old system has been relegating the Lebanese to medieval ages.

Do we have 19 recognized sects?  So what!  Do we have to be governed by the religious clerics backing feudal leaders and overseas princes and emirs?

No, the youth in Lebanon don’t have to abide by the ridiculous dictates of dinosaurs of older times.

I suggest that this determined movement be organized in every town and village.

It is not necessary to have mass gathering in the Capital Beirut:  A few supporters for secular reforms everywhere in Lebanon, marching with banners and calling for discussion on the ways to instituting such a society is far more effective to dislodge a rooted system.

Lebanon is not its Capital:  The movement has to be disseminated in rural and far distant districts that constitute the backbone of the current decrepit political system.

Lebanon has been plagued by sectarian regimes since its inception. If we cannot surmount this calamity now, should we wait another half a century on feasibility study?

This is as good a time as any other periods to raise our head as viable citizens and not chattel, to be bought and sold by feudal and religious clerics.

Youth in Lebanon are trying to displace the sectarian and feudal political parties and reclaiming the streets.  A modern Lebanon is on the rise: Archaic power composition has got to make room for new blood and determination.

Scientific Retractions: Sharp Rise Prompts Calls for Reform

CARL ZIMMER published on April 16, 2012 under “A Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform”:

“In the fall of 2010, Dr. Ferric C. Fang made an unsettling discovery.  Editor in chief of the journal Infection and Immunity, and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Fang found that one of his authors had doctored several papers.

Fang said in the interview: “Prior to that time the journal “Infection and Immunity” had only retracted nine articles over a 40-year period. The journal wound up retracting six of the papers from Naoki Mori of the University of the Ryukyus in Japan. And it soon became clear that Infection and Immunity was hardly the only victim of Dr. Mori’s misconduct. Since then, other scientific journals have retracted two dozen of his papers, according to the watchdog blog Retraction Watch.

Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

Retraction of papers increased 10 fold in the last ten years, while published papers increased just 44%. The chart shows the trend of the drastic increases in fraudulant scientific papers (196), scientific mistakes (235) and faulty experimental design, procedure and data acquisition (311):

Source: Journal of Medical Ethics

“Nobody had noticed the whole thing was rotten,” said Dr. Fang. To find out, he teamed up with a fellow editor at the journal, Dr. Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

And before long they reached a troubling conclusion: not only that retractions were rising at an alarming rate, but that retractions were just a manifestation of a much more profound problem — “a symptom of a dysfunctional scientific climate,” as Dr. Fang put it.

Dr. Casadevall, now editor in chief of the journal mBio, said he feared that science had turned into a winner-take-all game with perverse incentives that lead scientists to cut corners and, in some cases, commit acts of misconduct.

“This is a tremendous threat,” Casadevall said.

Last month, in a pair of editorials in Infection and Immunity, the two editors issued a plea for fundamental reforms. They also presented their concerns at the March 27 meeting of the National Academies of Sciences committee on science, technology and the law.

Members of the committee agreed with their assessment. “I think this is really coming to a head,” said Dr. Roberta B. Ness, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health. And Dr. David Korn of Harvard Medical School agreed that “there are problems all through the system.”

No one claims that science was ever free of misconduct or bad research. Indeed, the scientific method itself is intended to overcome mistakes and misdeeds. When scientists make a new discovery, others review the research skeptically before it is published. And once it is, the scientific community can try to replicate the results to see if they hold up. (All that is in theory of the procedures: How many do replicate experiments?)

But critics like Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall argue that science has changed in some worrying ways in recent decades — especially biomedical research, which consumes a larger and larger share of government science spending.

In October 2011, for example, the journal Nature reported that published retractions had increased tenfold over the past decade, while the number of published papers had increased by just 44 percent.

In 2010 The Journal of Medical Ethics published a study finding the new raft of recent retractions was a mix of misconduct and honest scientific mistakes.

Several factors are at play here, scientists say:

1. One may be that because journals are now online, bad papers are simply reaching a wider audience, making it more likely that errors will be spotted. “You can sit at your laptop and pull a lot of different papers together,” Dr. Fang said.

2. Other forces are more pernicious. To survive professionally, scientists feel the need to publish as many papers as possible, and to get them into high-profile journals. And sometimes they cut corners or even commit misconduct to get there.

To measure this claim, Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall looked at the rate of retractions in 17 journals from 2001 to 2010 and compared it with the journals’ “impact factor,” a score based on how often their papers are cited by scientists. The higher a journal’s impact factor, the two editors found, the higher its retraction rate.

The highest “retraction index” in the study went to one of the world’s leading medical journals, The New England Journal of Medicine. In a statement for this article, it questioned the study’s methodology, noting that it considered only papers with abstracts, which are included in a small fraction of studies published in each issue. “Because our denominator was low, the index was high,” the statement said.

Monica M. Bradford, executive editor of the journal Science, suggested that the extra attention high-impact journals get might be part of the reason for their higher rate of retraction. “Papers making the most dramatic advances will be subject to the most scrutiny,” she said.

Dr. Fang says that may well be true, but adds that it cuts both ways: the scramble to publish in high-impact journals may be leading to more and more errors.

Each year, every laboratory produces a new crop of Ph.D.’s, who must compete for a small number of jobs, and the competition is getting fiercer. In 1973, more than half of biologists had a tenure-track job within six years of getting a Ph.D. By 2006 the figure was down to 15 percent.

“Don’t work. Don’t tell the truth. Be hated…”: Commencement address by Adrian Tan. Part 2

Guest-of-honour at NTU convocation ceremony, Adrian Tan, author of The Teenage Textbook (1988), delivered this speech to the graduating class of 2008. I split the speech into two posts, the first part expands on “Don’t work”, “life is a mess” and “Don’t tell the truth”.

If you missed part 1:

Be hated
I have told you that your life is over, that you should not work, and that you should avoid telling the truth. I now say this to you: be hated.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.

You don’t have to be evil to be hated.

In fact, it’s often the case that you are hated precisely because you are trying to do right by your own convictions.

It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the center and settle into the average. That cannot be your role.

There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.

Fall in love with someone

The other side of the coin is this: fall in love.

I didn’t say “be loved”. That requires too much compromise. If one changes one’s looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.

Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false.

Modern society is anti-love.

We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It is far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.

Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the truth worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.

Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn’t happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor.

Love grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.

You will find that, when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart. (Provided that face and body are about normal?)

You will find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.

Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don’t, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.

Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

Don’t work. Be hated. Love someone




April 2012

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