Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 2012

Are we a silly State (Lebanon)?

In countless of my posts I have described how silly is our country, and the exaggeration and hyperbolic dreams of “wish be list” and “clever entrepreneur” and… The Tourism Minister suggested beauty queens should promote Lebanon

This post in Now Lebanon is an additional example:

October 12, 2012                                               

Earlier this week, Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud—flanked by Rina and Romy Shibani, winner and runner-up, respectively, of the latest Miss Lebanon  pageant—called for the creation of a “national academy” to groom future beauty queens and teach them to promote a positive image of Lebanon.

Months earlier, in  July, when he announced the ministry’s sponsorship of the competition, Abboud  also called on parents to encourage their daughters to participate in future pageants.

If ever there were a national call to arms that illustrated how sunk in shallowness we are, and how limited in our aspirations we have become, it was  this.

Abboud is one of our smarter ministers, so one must ask what planet he was on when he made these asinine suggestions. He is a successful  industrialist, and yet if he cannot see the damage he is doing to Lebanon’s reputation by championing an event that for years has been dismissed as sexist by more enlightened nations, what hope is there for our tiny, insignificant, but  over-inflated country.

The irony is that if any beauty academy—even  writing the words feels ludicrous—is ever established, it will be nothing more than a veneer to hide the chronic ugliness our society has  acquired.

The latest source of this reeking stench was found at the departure gate of an outward-bound MEA flight at Rafiq Hariri International airport last week, when a Middle East Airlines employee felt she was well within her rights to single out a group of foreigners—it is not clear if they were  Nepalese of Filipino—and tell them to shut up.

We are not sure why this Airlines employee did this,  but it is a fair guess that their happy chatter in an unfamiliar language was bothering the sort of people who normally employ them to clean their homes. 

Imagine! The employee concerned has since been let go, and it would be easy to dismiss the entire incident as the actions of one rotten apple. We  could do this if Lebanon were a country where basic human decency—not to mention  human rights—were practiced as part and parcel of everyday life. But it isn’t,  and so we can’t.

We live in a bubble. Something happened to Lebanon while the rest of the world was evolving.

Our 15-year civil war certainly had  something to do with it. Lebanon went into suspended animation for nearly two decades, and when we came to our inherent national selfishness, our insular tribal nature, our inability to engage with the global community, and our refusal to recognize that we are a tiny country with very little, if any, global clout, have all combined to make us one of the most dysfunctional nations on  earth.

We claim modernity, and yet priests and sheikhs still rule our personal status.

Our MPs would blanche at accusations that they are small-minded people lacking in sophistication, and yet they cannot find it within themselves to pass a law that prohibits a husband from forcefully having sex with his wife.

We claim to be a country of compassion, and yet we pragmatically practice apartheid.

In short, we are a country that feels it has the right to tell irritating foreigners to be quiet, even if they come from a nation with three times our GDP. The only good to have come out of the MEA incident is the fact that public outrage forced the airline to act. There is hope.

A new generation of Lebanese who have either lived aboard, grown up after the war, or simply, through social media, are waking up to the fact that  they have a voice and that they don’t have to tolerate the uglier or unfair  aspects of the Lebanese character.

People power, mainly through Twitter and  Facebook, provoked MEA into action.

Twenty years ago, even ten years ago,  perhaps as little as five years ago, the incident would have very likely passed unnoticed.

Today, we have the power to effect change, if we want it. Let’s first of all establish an academy for national values,  for upholding basic human rights, for updating our societal laws, for enforcing  equality, for developing prosperity, for teaching a notion of sovereignty and for respecting the environment.
The list could go on and on, but it should not, even at the very end, include the grooming of beauty queens. That’s  just plain silly.

To read more:  http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=445635#ixzz29GLu67Mj

Only 25% of a given NOW Lebanon article can be republished. For information on republishing rights from NOW Lebanon: http://www.nowlebanon.com/Sub.aspx?ID=125478

Note: If our beauty queens are to be representative of the Lebanese “citizens” I suggest that those selected in the first cut do undergo a 2-week advance course in background knowledge covering:

1. A few of Lebanon’s social problems

2. A few of the Middle-East complex structures

3. A few of global problems that need global resolution

Those potential queens who fail to demonstrate this urge to understand, read, freely discuss, cooperate and selected a few of the choices that are of interest to get engaged in should be eliminated from the contest.

How the Displaced residents of Achrafieh explosion are navigating compensation?

Victims of Friday’s Ashrafieh bombing, staying in hotels while their homes are inaccessible, expressed a mix of appreciation for officials’ efforts and confusion over the process of repairing their apartments.

Alex Taylor published in The Daily Star on Oct. 24, 2012:

BEIRUT: Sarah Abi Saab, 22, has been displaced since Friday when the car bomb that killed senior intelligence official Wissam al-Hassan and two others exploded at the entrance of the parking garage of her building.

She is now staying at the nearby Hotel Alexandre and was able to access her apartment Tuesday for the first time since the blast.

She returned to a scene of disarray where “not just the glass but the metal frames [of windows] had fallen out and everything was on the opposite side of the room, even the doors.”

“Everything was on the floor,” said Abi Saab, who lives alone in the apartment while she finishes school at the Lebanese American University in Jbeil.

The Higher Relief Committee began meeting Monday with Abi Saab and other residents of Ibrahim Monzer Street, the site of the explosion.

According to operations coordinator Elie Khoury, the HRC had registered residents of 59 apartments by the end of Tuesday and distributed $1,000 to every family living on the main street of the explosion.

“Today we finished processing all the families living on the street where the explosion occurred and have given out cash for rent to those families,” Khoury said.

Khoury could not yet estimate the total cost of the damage, nor when residents in the blast zone would be able to return to their apartments, as HRC teams are still surveying the damage.

“The engineering studies are still ongoing – can the buildings be renovated or do they need to be demolished? We have not been able to determine yet,” Khoury said of the five buildings at the center of the blast.

Abi Saab was at home Friday afternoon when the bomb exploded.

“I was sleeping on the bed and heard a boom. I woke up all of the sudden and a wind of glass just came over me,” she said.

Luckily she was not injured except for minor cuts on her legs and feet.

Although she was able to enter her building briefly Tuesday, Abi Saab wasn’t allowed to collect her possessions and had to be escorted by police as the criminal investigation into Friday’s bomb is ongoing.

Abi Saab said she had received $1,000 from the HRC to pay for temporary accommodations, but was facing difficulties registering her case for damages because her immediate family live outside Lebanon, in the United States and Cyprus.

“We had to fill out papers, but they wouldn’t accept my signature because the house is in my mom’s name. They need a lot of documents, papers and IDs but I didn’t have them because they’re all trapped in the building,” the student explained.

“I’m the only one that is responsible for the house and the papers. If I don’t get it done, they won’t come check the house.”

Various government officials have told the residents different timelines regarding when they may be able to access their homes.

“I wish there was more transparency,” said Zeina Nehme, a resident of the same building, who says different officials have told her she will either be able to enter her apartment within a day or not for a week.

“If only they would tell us on these few days, from this time to this time, we’ll be going to the apartments and checking on the damages … because now we’re getting different answers.”

Nehme, who works as a visiting university professor, recently returned to Lebanon for the year after working abroad for a long period. She was teaching Friday afternoon, but her elderly parents were in the building at the time of the explosion, escaping relatively unscathed.

“Nobody died in the building. It was a miracle,” Nehme said.

Nehme and other displaced residents have been given free hotel rooms in Hotel Alexandre for a week, personally paid for by Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui and other Free Patriotic Movement officials.

“I thank everybody for their help and for putting us up in this hotel. But we want to go home,” Zeina said.

Nehme is anxious to salvage what remains in her apartment, which she was only able to access with police escort for a few minutes Tuesday to retrieve medicines for her parents.

“The weather is changing and it’s going to start raining. We need to go start fixing and cleaning,” she said.

Despite confusion over proceeding with the HRC, Abi Saab said she was impressed by the response of ordinary Lebanese citizens to the bombing.

“Leave the politicians out. The Lebanese people and youth, they really surprised me, they had donations coming in, they’re holding a concert [to raise money] and they have gathered lists of what we need,” she said.

“I’m very, very proud.”

 A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 24, 2012, on page 4.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Oct-24/192517-displaced-residents-navigate-compensation.ashx#ixzz2AWWswUJP
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb
)

“Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov

I don’t recall when I first heard of “Lolita”.

One day, during my frequent visits to Barnes and Nobles in Montgomery County, I stumbled on the book “Lolita”.

Barnes and Nobles didn’t make it a comfortable place for people like me who could not afford to buy books, or the delicious pastries in the adjacent coffee shop, you go in from a door in the megabookstore.

It was hard to find a comfortable chair or table to read, and I sat on the floor.

I attended the talks of authors invited to publicize their recent books, sold at the store, in a corner, a dozen chairs set up for the audience…

Even at an advanced age, I felt uneasy to be discovered reading “Lolita”, and I am a slow reader, and I had to hurry to read as much as I could…I didn’t get the story: Just glimpses of what to expect…

Ten years later, I stumbled on the movie, in black and white, on one of the TV channels. I understood the story, and missed the interesting and most valuable treasures in the book…

And here I am, comprehending “Lolita” via “Reading Lolita in Teheran” by Azar Nafisi.

Basically, I am reviewing this book through the eyes, sensitivity, and comprehension of Nafisi…

Humbert Humbert is writing from jail on a murder charge, and not of the terrible harms he committed on Lolita…

Humbert is travelling and teaching literature in universities, maybe on sabbatical…He has an unfulfilled young love in Annabel Leigh.

At one of his sabbatical, he lands as a tenant at Charlotte Haze’s and rent a room. Charlotte is a bereaved middle-aged widow, and she suffered the loss of her 2-year old boy, and she has a 12-year old daughter Dolores or Dolly (Spanish for pain).

Charlotte marries Humbert and he treat her badly, as a faked southern cultured woman…The movie gave me the impression that Humbert planned the death of Charlotte…

Humbert arrives at Lolita’s summer camp to pick her up as her guardian father, and didn’t attempt to tell her the purpose of the visit. Nabokov writes on this visit of Humbert:

“Let me retain for a moment that scene…hog Holmes writing out a receipt, scratching Lolita’s head, pulling a drawer out of her desk, pouring change into my impatient palm, neatly spreading a banknote over it…photographs of girl-children, some gaudy moth or butterfly, still half- alive, safely pinned to the wall (nature study), the framed diploma of the camp’s dietitian, my trembling hands, a card produced by efficient Holmes with report of Dolly Haze’s behavior for July “fair to good, keen on swimming and boating”. a sound of trees and birds, and my pounding heart…

I am standing with my back to the open door, and I felt the blood rush to my head as I heard her respiration and voice behind me…”

This scene is the prelude to two years of captivity, during which the unwitting Lolita drifts from one motel to another with her guardian-lover. Humbert prevents Lolita to mix with children her age, watches over her so she never has boyfriends, frightens her into secrecy, bribes her with money for act of sex…

And all the while, Humbert parades as a normal husband, normal stepfather, normal human being

Humbert selected Lolita, Lo, or Lola for Dolly. She was Lolita when she sobbed on nights he had his ways with her. He tried all kinds of tricks to get in Lolita’s pants, drugging her, promising plenty of money and never delivering on his promises, threatening her and a few times beating her… As Humbert wrote: “She had absolutely nowhere else to go

The very first painful night, Lolita demands some money to call her mother. Humbert answers: “You can’t call your mother. She is dead” And in the middle of the night, Lolita came sobbing into Humbert’s bed, and “we made it up very gently. You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go”

Humbert wrote: “What I had madly possessed was not she, but my own creation, another fanciful Lolita, more real than Lolita…Having no will, no consciousness, indeed no real life of her own…”

But Dolly had a past, and she is in lack of her mother and her brother and a steady place to live and friends…

Humbert turned Dolly into a reincarnation of his lost unfulfilled young love…

Nabokov tells on Lolita through Humbert, an imaginary past…Humbert is solipsizing Lolita, attempting to orphan the child for a third time by robbing her of her past, a figment in someone else’s dream.

Lolita’s truth, desires, life…must lose colors before Humbert’s one obsession of turning a kid into his mistress.

A half-living butterfly, fixed on a wall…This perverse intimacy of victim and jailer.

Humbert is exonerating his terrible actions by implicating the victim: “It was she who seduced me…Not a trace of modesty did I perceive in this beautiful badly formed young girl whom modern co-education, juvenile mores, the campfire racket…had utterly depraved. She saw the stark act merely as part of a youngster’s future world, unknown to others…”

Or in other paragraphs: “the vile slut, her obscene young legs (sitting on his lap), engrossed in the lighter section of a newspaper, indifferent to my ecstasy, as if it were something she sat upon, a shoe, a doll, the handle of a tennis racket…”

“Em Hassan”: An ancient story from South Lebanon

My grandmother, Em Hassan, (her first boy name is Hassan) was tall and pretty. She married very young as was the tradition in south Lebanon and among the Shia community. She had four children from her first husband: Two boys and two girls.

In 1915, the Ottoman Empire was hoarding all the able male bodies to serve in the army or work for free. The locust and other calamities spread famine and miseries in Lebanon.  The husband decided to flee with his family to Jordan: He was familiar with side trails since he was a muleteer.

In Jordan, the family was robbed by a gang and all the saved gold money vanished. Two days later, the husband decided to lodge a complaint with the nearest “police office”. At night, the gang killed the husband in retaliation.

How Em Hassan managed to return to her hometown Nabatiyeh with her four kids with nothing? The Story does not dwell on that horror return trip.

The in-laws of Em Hassan refused to give back what they kept as safe-keeping. But Em Hassan had a house and she rented two rooms to make ends meet and work the fields as daily worker.

A young sheikh, a recent graduate from the religious university of Al  Azhar in Cairo, rented two rooms and started to teach the Coran to a few young kids.  This handsome sheikh was married to a beautiful woman, from Turkish origin, and the neighborhood would visit to appraise this “high-class” woman.

Eventually, this sheikh married Em Hassan who was ten years older, and he called her Khadijeh since the first wife of the Prophet Mohammad was ten years older. What happened to this smashing first wife? The story does not say a word: This side story could have been a great one.

One of the well-to do feudal landlords accepted to send Em Hassan kids to a Protestant boarding school in Saida for the orphans.

When Em Hassan remarried, she decided to retrieve her kids and live with their new father. The boys didn’t get along with this sheikh and they ended up working in Beirut and marrying.

By this time, Em Hassan had two kids: Kamel and a girl Kamleh (Perfect), and the new husband had eloped with a younger woman and divorced her and moved to a nearby town.

Em Hassan tried hard and frequently to demand alimony for the children, but the religious sheikh promised and never delivered.

Kamel and Kamleh spent their days searching their father in the souk of Nabatiyeh, hoping that he might buy them sugar, rice, and meat. This father hardly satisfied their demands and engaged in the fleeing game as soon as he heard of the presence of his children.

Kamel and Kamleh walked barefoot and their mother spent the night removing the thorns from their bloodied feet. They had a couple of cows and a few chicken and would hit the neighboring fields gathering wheat grains after the harvest. A day work would disappear in a blink after dinner was readied.

Em Hassan sold the cows and took the kids to Beirut to live with one of her daughters house. She worked in the house, taking care of the kids of her daughter. The boys went to school, but Kamel and Kamleh never had a chance to attend any schooling. Kamleh ended up illiterate, even though she demanded to go to schools, and saying: “In Beirut, even the pigeons go to school!”

Her older daughter died from the appendix. The second from a rat bite.

Em Hassan eldest boy Hassan played the lute and wanted to be a singer, but wouldn’t dare.

The second boy, who never smiled, was a tram conductor. (I caught up with the tram before it was put to rest in the early 1970’s. The electrical tram passed in the middle of the streets in Beirut, and it was always crammed and people hanging out of the open doors…)

Kamleh eventually was forced to marry the husband of her older sister after she died from a rat bite. Kamleh was 14 years old and she gave two kids to this older very devout man. But this is another story… The main character, and mother of author Hanan El Cheihk

Em Hassan, the tall and beautiful woman had a life a toil. Her youngest Kamleh won’t have anything to do with that tradition and followed her heart, whatever it took to live with her love-life.

Note: This story is part of the translated Arabic book “Kamleh (Perfect): An entire History” by Hanan El Cheihk.

Blast in Beirut: Covered by an US reporter?

A powerful bomb devastated a Christian neighborhood of this capital city of Lebanon on Friday, killing 8 civilians and the targeted intelligence official Gen. Wissam Al Hassan, and injuring over 110 civilians…

In a nearby upstairs apartment, Lily Nameh, 73, said she had been taking a nap with her husband, Ghaleb. “I thought it was an earthquake,” she said. “Suddenly everything was falling on us.” Her husband said, “It felt like a plane landed on the building.”

I have posted several articles on this car explosion in Achrafieh, in east Beirut, and decided to post a typical coverage from a foreigner who needs to satisfy the idiosyncratic message of the New York Times in order to have the piece published.

You feel as if this reporter is not in the mood of comprehending anything: All that this reporter knows is what the editor likes to see published in the Middle-East and the same versions of the Federal Administration wants to convey to the US citizens about this region… I added numbers of the victims of the blast and content between parenthesis are mine…

Bilal Hussein/Associated Press. The explosion at the heart of the Christian section of Beirut on Friday injured many and shattered windows for blocks. More Photos »
ublished on October 19, 2012 in the NYT:
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The blast, which sheared the faces off buildings, killed at least eight people, wounded 110 and transformed a quiet tree-lined street into a scene reminiscent of Lebanon’s long civil war, threatened to worsen sectarian tensions.
By nightfall, black smoke from burning tires ignited by angry men choked the streets of a few neighborhoods in the city, which has struggled to preserve a peace between its many sects, including Sunni, Shiite, Christian and Druse.

Hasan Shaaban/Reuters. A wounded man was helped after the blast.                            More Photos »

Within hours of the attack, the Lebanese authorities announced that the dead included the intelligence chief of the country’s internal security service, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, instantly spurring accusations that the Syrian government had assassinated him for recently uncovering what the authorities said was a Syrian plot to provoke unrest in Lebanon.

“They wanted to get him, and they got him,” said Paul Salem, a regional analyst with the Carnegie Middle East Center.

But if the attack was targeted, the blast was most certainly not. The force of the explosion left elderly residents fleeing their wrecked homes in bloodied pajamas and spewed charred metal as far as two blocks. Residents rushed to help each other amid the debris, burning car wreckage and a macabre scene of victims in blood-soaked shirts.

It was the first large-scale bombing in the country since 2008 and was the most provocative violence here linked to the Syrian conflict since it began 19 months ago.

The attack struck a heavy blow to a security service that had asserted Lebanon’s fragile sovereignty by claiming to catch Syria red-handed in a plan to destabilize its neighbor, which Syria has long dominated.

It threatened to inflame sectarian tensions by eliminating General Hassan, a Sunni Muslim known for his close ties to fellow Sunni politicians (the Hariri clan of the Mustakbal movement) who support the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. General Hassan was viewed by Syrian opposition activists as an ally and protector.

Imad Salamey, a political science professor at Lebanese American University, blamed Mr. Assad’s government and said that the attack seemed intended to show that Syria has the ability to destabilize Lebanon and threaten to embroil the region in chaos.

The Syrian government issued a statement condemning the bombing, quoting the information minister, Omran al-Zoubi, as saying, “These sort of terrorist, cowardly attacks are unjustifiable wherever they occur.”

The attack harked back to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a longtime foe of Mr. Assad’s, in a car bombing in 2005. Syria was widely blamed, and protests in the aftermath of that killing forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, a major blow to its regional influence.

But a series of bombings targeting politicians, journalists and security officials followed, shaking Lebanon and sending the message that Syria’s power still reached deep into its neighbor.

The size and location of the bomb on Friday awakened a general feeling of dread that the Syrian conflict, which has already depressed Lebanon’s economy and sent thousands of Syrian refugees into the country, was coming home to Lebanese civilians, and could set off tit-for-tat killings and reprisals that could spiral out of control.

The blast seemed to accelerate a pattern already established, as the Syrian civil war increasingly draws in the region, crossing the borders of its many neighbors. Recently, a mortar blast from Syria killed civilians in southern Turkey, prompting the Turkish military to respond with artillery strikes into Syria for several days. Jordan has struggled to absorb as many as 180,000 refugees.

Shells have exploded in the disputed Golan Heights region occupied by Israel. Iran has been accused of sending weapons and advisers into Syria to help Mr. Assad.  Saudi Arabia and Turkey have provided weapons and cash to the rebels trying to oust Mr. Assad, and rebels have taken control of border crossings between Syria and Iraq.

In Beirut, there were efforts to tamp down animosities, and keep the peace.

Not far behind the ambulances, politicians arrived at the scene of the blast. They urged Lebanese citizens to resist being drawn into the conflict — but also pointed fingers at Syria and its Lebanese allies in sharp language that seemed as likely to induce anger as to warn against it.

“For the first time, we feel that it is the regular Lebanese citizen who is being targeted in this explosion and, maybe, this is the beginning of what Syrian authorities have promised us in the past,” said Nadim Gemayel, a member of Parliament from the Christian Phalange movement that is part of Lebanon’s opposition March 14 bloc. “The Syrian regime had talked about burning everything in their path.”

As news spread of the bombing, the streets of Beirut’s largely Christian Ashrafiyeh district were initially calm. People walked dogs and escorted children home from school. But they also gathered in small groups warily discussing the bombing and clutched cellphones to share news.

Outside a damaged grocery stood Sandra Abrass, a filmmaker and former Red Cross worker, frustrated that she was not allowed to help on the scene because her skimpy yellow flats were no protection against broken glass, and said she was in pain first for the wounded and then for Lebanon.

“You don’t feel safe any more,” she said. After growing up during the 1975-1991 civil war, she said, she was no longer used to the idea that bombs could go off at any moment, and feared that there would be more bombings and reprisals.

“They cannot let us live happily,” she said.

General Hassan came to prominence as a security chief for the assassinated former prime minister, Mr. Hariri. Early on, he was a suspect in that killing, but later helped build a circumstantial case, based on phone records, that a team from Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese Shiite organization aligned with Syria, had coordinated the Hariri attack and was at the scene of the murder. Hezbollah, which has since become an important member of Lebanon’s government, claims the records were fabricated.

Another security official, Wissam al-Eid, who helped compile the phone records, was killed in a car bombing in 2008, part of a series of assassinations of political figures, journalists and investigators.

More recently, in August, General Hassan shocked Lebanon by arresting a prominent pro-Syrian politician, Michel Samaha, on charges of importing explosives in a bid to set off bombs and wreak sectarian havoc as part of a Syrian-led plot. It was a surprising move in a country where state institutions have rarely had the power to take on political figures, especially those backed by foreign powers or Lebanese militias.

In a brief interview on Friday, the chief of the Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, said, “Wissam al-Hassan was targeted because of Samaha’s case.”

The Internal Security Forces have often been seen as allied with Sunni anti-Syrian factions. But Mr. Salem of Carnegie said that General Hassan did not pursue only his friends’ political enemies; he was also credited with disrupting numerous networks of Israeli spies.

Mr. Salem said that General Hassan and his investigators were “one of the bright spots that saw the Syrian influence apparently ebb,” demonstrating that “the Lebanese state was beginning to develop capacities, they could arrest Samaha, they were doing things that a sovereign state does.”

While some anti-Syrian politicians suggested that the bombing was intended to distract from allegations that Hezbollah is fighting on the Syrian government’s side, they stopped short of accusing the party of involvement in the bombing. Several analysts said Hezbollah was unlikely to carry out such an attack, which would threaten its political standing inside Lebanon.

In the bombed neighborhood in Ashrafiyeh district on Friday, Civil Defense officers picked pieces of flesh off a security fence and put them into plastic supermarket bags.

On Friday nights, areas of central Beirut are usually crowded with cars and pedestrians heading out to party. But after the bombing, the usual Friday night traffic jams never materialized, and watering holes that usually send excess crowds on to the sidewalks in neighborhoods known for night life sat quiet and forlorn.

Reporting was contributed by Hwaida Saad, Hania Mourtada and Josh Wood from Beirut, and Christine Hauser and Rick Gladstone from New York.

A version of this article appeared in print on October 20, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Blast in Beirut Seen as Extension of Syria Conflict.

Related

High Performer, High Potential, High Energy, High Producer, or Simply High?

“Do you mind Boss if I run with this idea?”

What is your reputation in terms of people skills?

Have you any interest in assuming more responsibility?

Do you have the guts to express and demand more responsibilities?

Do you care to view the big picture?

Do you think that the above attributes prove that you have great potential to lead teams into success stories?

In any case, before you are appreciated to your long-term potentials as excellent in cooperating with talented and professional people, you must demonstrate that you are talented, productive, and a high performer in the first job you excel in.

Regular reviews might show from statistics that you are an excellent performer, but can this impress your higher up in management?

You might have high energy in “delivering” on target and agreement, but does you energy bubble for those impressed by perception?

Don’t you think that perception is far more lethal in the short-term than all statistics?

How can you prove that you are a high-energy member team, once perception of your lack of energy is dominant within the team?

Are you able to exhibit that:

  1. You are Curious in knowing everything about the business, giving priority to the personnel? For example, learning who are actually the main power driving force instead of relying on the formal hierarchy diagram?
  2. You are Comfortable in your skin and are willing to discuss and open dialogue with the others?
  3. You are a good listener and ready to ask the pertinent questions with an open mind?
  4. You are willing to Collaborate and go the extra miles with anyone assigned to work with you?

But first, you have to demonstrate that you can deliver on your talent (high performer), while you send the appropriate signal that you are this “dangerous” man willing to grab all the potential opportunities opened to you…

If you are just great at your first job and fail to shift toward helping others to be great at their jobs, the prospect of attaining high levels of responsibilities are not bright.  Your level is among the performers.

The highest levels are reserved for those who demonstrated that they are high potentials, are bold in taking initiatives, and have great people skills. Unless you work for the government or a public institution…

Don’t tell me what they can do. Tell me what they can do through others. (Dan Rockwell?)

Warning! Do not overdo the curiosity game, and do not flaunt it. “Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form” as Nabokov wrote. And the perception of insubordination has driven so many to the guillotine.

What of the victims of the city of Fallujah (Iraq) During US occupation? Any health remedies?
Mariam Yasir was 6 of age in 2009 and she suffers from a birth defect.
Children of Fallujah

Photograph: Muhannad Fala’ah/Getty Images
Ever since two major US-led assaults destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, the people in Falluja have witnessed dramatic increases in rates of cancers, birth defects and infant mortality in their city.

Are the victims of Fallujah’s health crisis stifled by western silence?

Is it a moral imperative to research a possible link between US bombardment (with Not just depleted uranium, but slightly enriched uranium bombs) and rates of birth defects and pediatric cancer in Iraq?

Ross Caputi published in The Guardian on Oct. 25, 2012:

“Four new studies on the health crisis in Fallujah have been published in the last three months. Yet, one of the most severe public health crises in history, for which the US military may be to blame, receives no attention in the United States.

Dr Chris Busby, the author and co-author of two studies on the Fallujah heath crisis, has called this “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied“.

In the years since the 2004 sieges, Fallujah was the most heavily guarded city in all of Iraq. All movement in and out of Fallujah was monitored by the occupying forces. The security situation made it nearly impossible to get word out about Fallujans’ nascent health crisis.

One of the first attempts to report on the crisis was at the 7th session of the UN Human Rights Council in the form of the report, Prohibited Weapons Crisis: The Effects of Pollution on the Public Health in Fallujah by Dr Muhamad Al-Darraji.

This report was largely ignored. It wasn’t until the first major study on the health crisis was published in 2010 that the issue received mainstream media attention in the UK and Europe.

To this day, though, there has yet to be an article published in a major US newspaper, or a moment on a mainstream American TV news network, devoted to the health crisis in Fallujah. The US government has made no statements on the issue, and the American public remains largely uninformed about the indiscriminate harm that our military may have caused.

The report presented at the seventh session of the Human Rights Council gave anecdotal evidence gathered at the Fallujah General Hospital. It included a stomach-turning collection of pictures of babies born with scaly skin, missing and deformed limbs, and horrifying tumors.

Two years later, Dr Busby and his team of researchers sought to verify the claims in this report. What they found was that, in addition to shocking increases in pediatric cancers, there had also been an 18% reduction in male births. Such a finding is a well-known indication of genetic damage. The authors conclude that:

“These results support the many reports of congenital illness and birth defects in Fallujah and suggest that there is evidence of genetic stress which appeared around 2004, one year before the effects began to show.”

In a follow up study, in which Dr Busby was a co-author, hair, soil and water samples were taken from Fallujah and tested for the presence of heavy metals. The researchers expected to find depleted uranium in the environmental samples. It is well known that the US used depleted uranium weapons in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf war.  And Iraqis, at least, are well aware of the increases in cancers and infant mortality rates in the city of Basrah, which was heavily bombarded during Desert Storm. However, what the researchers found was not depleted uranium, but man-made, slightly enriched uranium.

Dr Busby has been the most visible scientist behind these studies, and for that reason, a lot of criticism has been directed at him. He is considered by many to be a “controversial” figure, which only means that his research has often challenged official government positions. His studies on Fallujah have similarly earned the title of “controversial”.

Many journals were afraid to publish his second study because of “pressure” from “outside people“. “Outside people” means types like Roger Helbig – a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force who is well-known for publishing online attacks on those who take a critical stance against uranium weapons – and pressure groups with similar agendas.

Some have criticized the methodology of this study, and they have used this as an excuse to dismiss the entire issue. But as other experts have noted:

“The role of ‘quick and dirty’ studies like this one, conducted under difficult conditions, is not to inform policy, but rather to generate hypotheses about important questions when resources are not yet available and other research methods are not possible.”

Busby is not the only researcher who takes “controversial” positions. His findings are complimented by the work of Dr Dai Williams, an independent weapons researcher. Williams has been investigating what he calls “third generation uranium weapons” (pdf).

Dr Dai Williams has found patents for weapon systems that could use nondepleted uranium, or slightly enriched uranium, interchangeably with tungsten, either as a dense metal or as a reactive metal. Undepleted and slightly enriched uranium have also been found on other battlefields (Afghanistan (pdf) and Lebanon). These findings lead researchers like Dr Williams to believe that there is a new generation of weapons being used, possibly by the US and Israeli military, that could have serious indiscriminate health effects on the populations living near bombing targets.

Many people have dismissed these hypotheses as speculative, and with that, they dismiss the research, the issue and the suffering of the people on the ground. What these naysayers fail to understand is that hypotheses are always speculative to a degree – they are informed, but they are claims intended to be verified or falsified. This is the nature of the scientific method:

First, you observe certain phenomena in the world, then you come up with a hypothesis to explain those phenomena.

Second, you conduct an experiment to test your hypothesis.

Many of these naysayers have not responded to these studies by calling for more research and investigation to test the hypotheses of Dr Busby or Dr Williams. Rather, they dismiss these hypotheses because they don’t like their moral and political implications. In doing so, they show a great deal of antipathy for the scientific method and the pursuit of truth.

But more importantly, the  naysayers also dismiss the suffering of the people of Fallujah, and all people affected by these issues.

One weapon system that may use uranium, in some form or another, is the SMAW-NE (Shoulder-fired Multipurpose Assault Weapon – Novel Explosive). My former unit battle-tested this weapon for the first time in Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004.

It is not my intention irresponsibly to lay blame on the US military, but there is a potential connection between this weapons system and the health crisis in Fallujah – and this connection needs to be investigated.

There are other avenues of investigation besides uranium weapons. One recent study examines the possible contributions of mercury and lead to the health crisis in Iraq. Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Defects in Iraqi Cities, by Al-Sabbak et al, compared the levels of lead and mercury in hair, nail and teeth samples from Fallujah and Basrah. The study found that the population studied in Fallujah had been exposed to high levels of “two well-known neurotoxic metals, Pb and Hg“.

In Basrah, the authors found even higher levels of lead exposure than in Fallujah. Basrah has the highest ever reported level of neural tube defects, and the numbers continue to climb. The authors of this study note:

“Toxic metals such as mercury (Hg) and Pb are an integral part of war ammunitions and are extensively used in the making of bullets and bombs … the bombardment of al-Basrah and Fallujah may have exacerbated public exposure to metals, possibly culminating in the current epidemic of birth defects.”

The conclusion of this study is not abstract, and it is not merely an intellectual or medical issue. It has real world importance. The modern means of warfare may be inherently indiscriminate.

This is a scientific finding worthy of discussion at the highest levels of academia, politics and international affairs. While it may yet get some attention outside the borders of the United States, its “controversial” nature (its implications of the US military’s guilt in creating possibly the worst public health crisis in history) ensures that it will be ignored at all costs by the callous and corrupt US government and its subservient media establishment.

Ultimately, it may not be the case that either lead alone, or uranium alone, is the sole cause of the health crisis in Fallujah. It could be a combination of the two agents, or something different entirely. But this is an empirical question that demands further investigation.

Methodology and proper science are important, but we must remember that science is a means to an end, and not an end in and of itself. The welfare of the people of Fallujah should be our ends, and our goal should be to help them.

Those who choose misguided political allegiance over the pursuit of truth, and those who use methodological flaws to dismiss real-world suffering, have already lost their humanity.

What we need to do to help the people of Falluja is clear. More studies need to be done to figure out what is harming those poor children, and then steps need to be taken to ensure that this never happens again.

But first, we must find a way to overcome the stifling silence of governments.

Note: You may read details on Fallujah on https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/where-is-this-fallujah-in-iraq-what-the-us-marines-were-doing-there/

Collateral Ordinary victims of assassination blasts: Do not deserve a national burial?

The bombing that killed Lebanon’s internal intelligence chief , Gen. Wissam Al Hassan, also claimed the life of many collateral civilians of 8 and and injured 110.

They found a part of a hand in the street of Ibrahim el-Mounzer today, a side street at Sassine Square in Achrafieh, along with some intestines – no one doubted ownership of the thumb that was discovered, still pressing the button of a mobile phone. But the little people of Lebanon remained forgotten, the bereaved and the wounded, all 38 of them, largely not photographed.

ROBERT FISK reported from on Monday 22 October 2012 in The Independence:

“Gun battles enshrined the streets of central Beirut a day after the nation buried Brigadier-General Wissam al-Hassan. But the bravest man in Lebanon yesterday stood in a church in the tired suburb of Bourj Hammoud: a young Armenian whose equally young wife was slaughtered last Friday.

I suppose we scribes always go for the Big Story – the Lebanese intelligence boss blown to bits in a car-bomb assassination. The clichés are essential, as is the assumption that Syria’s war is “slipping across the border”, but the tragedy of Georgette Sarkissian, a bystander, should be told.

She was a victim whose life was every bit as precious as that of the man who was buried with such pomp and violence in central Beirut at the weekend. And if serving coffee and apples to bank employees in a narrow east Beirut street was less romantic than that of the Lebanese secret policeman, so efficiently liquidated last week, her family story is worthy of a book rather than a newspaper article.

The General and Georgette died, of course, in the same millisecond.

Joseph Sarkissian’s family came from the Mount of Olives in Palestine and his grandparents were thrown out of Armenia during the 1915 Turkish genocide. He stood next to his 21-year old daughter Therese – who was with her mother Georgette when she was killed, and wore a blood-red mascara of spotted wounds on her face that contrasted tragically with her black dress – shaking hands as one must at these awful “condolences”, and spoke with such eloquence of his sorrow.

In Lebanon, the big men get the imperial funerals, the little women are left to be buried.

But the biggest man in Lebanon was Joseph Sarkissian, an insurance official, short dark hair, spectacles, no tears in his eyes. In his own words, in perfect, flawless English he said: “I can’t tell you… She is half my life. My daughter picked her up from the ground – she carried her in her arms because there were no ambulances, and drove her to the hospital in her own car”.

“From the first, my wife was in a coma, thanks to God – because her head was opened from behind by the explosion. Part of her brain was missing. She is a treasure to me. You can’t imagine… There were so many flowers for her and for me – because everyone loves her and everyone loves me.

“In Lebanon, there are too many surprises – every day, there is a new surprise. She was going to buy new shoes the same day. Today was the first day of her vacation. She wanted to rest this week – and now she rests forever.”

Today was a day for such words.

There was the local bank manager in rue Mohamed el-Mounzer who said Lebanon had endured “40 years of crucifixion” and that during the country’s 1975-1990 civil war, “not a pane of glass had been broken in the street”.

There was the old man – like most of the others, a Christian – who uttered a quote-of-the-year in reference to General Hassan. “He was very low profile – everyone knew him,” he said. Too true. General Hassan, a Muslim, thought he had a “safe house” in the street. But there are no “safe houses” in Lebanon, and – being a tiny little country – no “secret” policemen.

At the end of the road, I came across Lebanese ceramics artist Nathalie Khayat, bandages still covering the wounds to her back, who had been talking to her sons Noa and Teo when the bomb shredded Georgette’s life – and those of the general and two of his men – and almost killed her. “The first thing I thought of was the civil war,” she said. “I was looking at my son’s homework. He is nine today. And I was nine when the civil war started in 1975.”

The radios were talking of a gun and grenade battle between supporters of the 14 March alliance – the official opposition to the pro-Syrian government – and the Lebanese army which had come under fire from them during the night.

And Abed, my driver, and I drove as we have so often these past decades to park near the Museum, and I ran down the side street and stood next to the soldiers. And here comes your reporter, clumping into his own story again. On this very spot, beside this very road, next to this very wall, I took cover from bullets 36 years ago.

Note: More details https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/another-car-bombing-in-beirut-immediate-political-finger-pointing-and-scores of injured

The Void exists, and is mighty powerful: Called Black Force

There is this constant tag of war between the Void and the relentless tendency of particles to filling the Void. It is this interaction that set particles in motion.

The greater the void, the more perturbed are the particles. Within an atom, the void, proportionally to the tiny particles, is vaster than the macro universe. Quantum mechanics states: “You cannot measure accurately and simultaneously the location and the moment (time) of a particle in an atom”  Basically any measuring instrument, however non intrusiveness it is, will disturb the environment in an atom…

Particles in motion are what create Time and Space.

Time and Space and tightly connected within a constraint that physicists agree on: The speed of light (300,000 km per second) must remain constant and invariant, regardless of the source, the intensity of the source, its direction, how matters behave…

Consequently, Time and Space are not immutable: They vary, change, transform, deform… The physicists conceptualize space as a net. A heavy object forms a dish-shaped hole in the space network. A lighter object that comes close to the vicinity of the heavier object would rotate in a trajectory around the edge of the dish: The heavier the object, the deeper is the trajectory around the edge of the dish…Gravity force is thus explained as the particular trajectory established by the two objects in the Space-Time reference.

Locally, within a galaxy, the Void exerts its power within the constraint of constant speed of the light.

Outside the galaxy, the void has a much higher force that set galaxies expanding, away from one another in the universe, at increased acceleration rates. This evidence is called the Universe Expansion.

There are cases where two galaxies are close to one another, for example our Milky Way and the larger Andromeda. Our galaxy is attracted within the edge of the dish of Andromeda. However, the set of this couple of galaxies is expanding in the universe, away from the other galaxies…

Eventually, and inevitably, a large void, a Black Hole is created.

In the environ of a Black Hole, there is no light: Light is absorbed as it approaches the Hole, and the notion of Time-Space is irrelevant.  There is total darkness, total silence, and nothing that can be used as point of reference.

A Black Hole is a total void that attracts all the particles, converging to fill this huge void.

Once this vacuum is filled and matter concentrates, the Black Hole reaches a state of high energy and explodes in a Big Bang, ejecting particles back into the universe, and expanding galaxies rush to fill the void of the nascent Black Hole, and the cycle resumes…

Every Black Hole is a potential universe in the making. Every universe is a potential creators of a Black Hole.

We had our Big Bang. And many other Big Bangs are taking place in this vast universe

The vastest monuments on earth can be reduced to a grain of matter, matter that was constituted by the Bosons of Higgs.

The Void Exists, and is mighty powerful.

Note: How can the notion that “gravity is explained by the particular trajectory of two bodies” account for the fact that there is a neutral zone where gravity effects are nullified?


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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