Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 2015


Lebanon’s patchwork of personal status laws: Failing the women citizens. Unhappy ever after?

All couples hope their marriages will work out and they will live happily ever after.

The truth is that many relationships end in divorce and Lebanese couples are no exception.

According to a 2012 study by the Lebanese Central Administration of Statistics, there were almost 6,000 divorces in 2010. The issue for these couples and for society at large is how to ensure a fair separation that guarantees the rights of each spouse and protects their children.

Nadim Houry , deputy MENA director at Human Rights Watch, posted this March 13, 2015

(Un)happily ever after

Lebanon’s patchwork of personal status laws is failing women

On that front, Lebanon is failing miserably to ensure fair treatment of women.

It is widely known that Lebanon does not have a civil code regulating personal status matters.

Instead, there are 15 separate personal status laws for the different recognized religious communities, which are administered by separate religious courts.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently reviewed 447 legal judgments issued by these religious courts to examine how they handle divorce, child custody and financial issues emanating from separations or divorce.

The cases, dating from 2009–2012, were selected at random.

Lebanon’s religion-based laws discriminate against women across the religious spectrum

The findings were troubling. Lebanon’s religion-based laws discriminate against women across the religious spectrum. Women had lesser rights than men to ask for divorce.

Under Lebanon’s Shia, Sunni and Druze laws, men can demand a divorce at any time — unilaterally, and without cause — while a woman’s ability to access divorce is limited, and often at great cost and after lengthy court proceedings.

In principle, Islamic laws allow women to have an explicit clause inserted into the marriage contract stating that the wife can also have an equal right to unilateral divorce, but this right is rarely exercised due to social customs.

Only 3 of the 150 divorce judgments before Islamic courts that HRW reviewed included such clauses.

While divorce is difficult for both men and women under Christian laws, Christian men find it easier to circumvent these restrictions, including by converting to Islam and remarrying without divorcing.

As a practical matter, many women who spoke to HRW said these restrictions meant that they were forced to stay in abusive marriages — at great risk to themselves and their children, and that in some cases they had to give up their financial or custody rights in exchange for a divorce.

Some women even had to pay their husbands to seek the divorce.

Women also face discrimination in relation to distribution of marital property after a marriage ends.

Lebanese law does not recognize noneconomic contributions to a marriage or the concept of marital property, so after a separation property reverts to the spouse in whose name it is registered — typically the husband — regardless of who has contributed to it or what role a wife may have played in supporting her husband throughout their marriage.

In addition, even though the Druze and Christian confessions require the spouse responsible for the termination of the marriage to compensate the other, in practice these amounts are usually not enough to allow women to support themselves.

In Lebanon’s Islamic courts, after a divorce, a woman is left with only the deferred mahr (dowry) stipulated in the marriage contract, but this is often just a symbolic figure such as one lira or one gold coin.

Discrimination also extends to one of the most difficult aspects of any separation: child custody.

The HRW review of court cases found that in many cases, judges removed children from their mothers, but not their fathers, on grounds of fitness due to ‘questionable’ social behaviors because of the mother’s supposed religious affiliation, or because she remarried instead of making these decisions based on the best interest of the child.

The fear of losing their children was so great that some women HRW interviewed stayed in abusive marriages, gave up their monetary rights, or did not remarry so they could keep custody.

“I forced myself to bear beyond what a human being can take, all the injustices and violence,” said a Maronite woman who endured years of physical abuse but only sought a divorce after her children became adults because she feared losing them.

The current system is not only unfair. It is broken.

Some couples are converting to different confessions to be able to get married while others are converting to get a divorce. And many couples are simply voting with their feet, getting on a plane to get a civil marriage abroad.

Ending a marriage or determining who a child should live with after a divorce are difficult enough decisions. The least Lebanon can do is ensure that the laws are fair.

It is time for the country to adopt an optional civil code that would ensure equal rights for all Lebanese who wish to marry under it. But it is also time to get the Lebanese state to exercise oversight over religious courts. Not all marriages last, but at least we should have laws that help to give them a happy ending.


What happened in village of Afouleh (Palestine) in 1920?

The Zionist World Fund purchased 5 villages around Afouleh from the Sursock family living in Beirut (Achrafiyeh).

These Palestinian peasants cultivated the lands and sent the yearly rent to the Sursock family.

Now the Jewish colons wanted to immediately evacuate the Palestinian families who worked the land and lived there for many centuries.

The two parties clashed and a Palestinian was killed. A battle ensued.

The Jews received rescue from Jerusalem strong with British sub-machine guns. A bloodshed was averted.

The Palestinians were allowed to remain in the land as salaried peasants.

The Jewish colony in Afouleh occupied the plain of Esdrelon, stretching from Mount Tabor to the Carmel.

They had new European tools and new ploughing machinery and lived in houses that were easily dismantled.

Note: Most of the land purchased by the Zionist Fund in Palestine, particularly in Galilee, were owned by rich and feudal Lebanese families from all religious sects.

The Palestinians barely sold their lands and were evacuated from their villages and towns by brute force and frequent genocide in 1948 and a few years after the recognition of Israel as a State.

I am asking all the French educated Jews…

Why a nationalist in France is considered by the French Jews as a criminal, while a nationalist Jews of the worst kind in Israel merit all the respect?

Why a French patriot is considered an ugly fascist by the French Jews, but a respectable Zionist in Israel?

Why the most secular educated jews in Europe are transformed fanatic mystics when they step in Israel?

In what way the Wall of Lamentation in Jerusalem denotes a race freed from the yoke of superstitions?

All these spectacles reminiscent of the Middle Age.

Perfect Responses for Why They Don’t Have Kid

In a classic Seinfeld episode, Elaine sits surrounded by friends with kids as they accost her with the now-infamous line: “You gotta have a baby!” We can only guess millions of women watched, nodding their heads and wondering: What do you say when society demands to know when you’ll procreate, and why you haven’t done so yet?

Even as more millennials choose to delay children or remain child-free altogether, the demand on women to have babies is still high.

Media has doubled down on celebrity “baby bump” coverage, and young women report feeling real pressure thanks to society’s strong link between femininity and motherhood.

Many women indeed long for children, while others are firmly against it and still more are undecided.

But regardless of a woman’s feelings on childbearing, the decision to have kids is hers alone, to be decided for her own reasons. And no woman should have to submit to society’s relentless questioning on the matter.

Here are 12 women who had the perfect responses to the dreaded baby questions.

1.  Cameron Diaz: “I have an unbelievable life.”

In a 2009 interview with Parade magazine, Diaz admitted what many child-free women already know: Children aren’t necessarily the key to a fulfilling existence.

2.  Jennifer Westfeldt: “Regret … doesn’t seem like a compelling enough reason.”

It’s only natural, when surrounded by a sea of happy mothers, for the fear of regret to creep in. But actress and director Jennifer Westfeldt, longtime partner to Jon Hamm, told the New York Times in 2012 that she doesn’t let the “what if’s” change her decision.

3. Zooey Deschanel: “Nobody asks a guy that.”

Deschanel, who is currently pregnant, reminded everyone that asking about a woman’s child-free status doesn’t become more acceptable if the woman actually wants kids.

The actress told InStyle magazine in 2014 how annoying it was to be constantly questioned about babies before she had them — a practice, she noted, that’s inherently rooted in sexism.

4. Marisa Tomei: “I don’t know why women need to have children to be seen as complete human beings.”

If a woman doesn’t have kids, has she really fulfilled her true potential? Some people truly believe the answer is “no.” But Marisa Tomei questioned that cliché in an interview with Manhattan magazine in 2009.

5. Chelsea Handler: “Childhood was heartbreaking enough.”

Handler, who’s spoken openly about having an abortion at age 16, admitted on The Conversation With Amanda de Cadenet in 2013 that not only does she not believe she’d be a good mother, but that she doesn’t have any desire to experience childhood again. It’s a raw but honest confession that we don’t often hear from women.

6.  Oprah Winfrey: “If I had kids, my kids would hate me.”

In a world where women often feel forced to choose between having children and having a career, Winfrey has always been open about her desire to prioritize her work.

She told the Hollywood Reporter in 2013 that while her best friend, Gayle King, dreamed of motherhood, she dreamed of becoming Martin Luther King Jr. – and she realizes that children would have ended up taking second place in her life.

7. Ellen DeGeneres: “I wouldn’t want to screw them up.”

There’s a reason why parenting is called the hardest job in the world, and DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi admit they don’t actively want to take on the task. “You have to really want to have kids, and neither of us did,” de Rossi said to Out in 2013.

DeGeneres echoed her sentiments in an essay penned for People magazine in 2014, reminding readers that many child-free couples weigh the pros and cons of parenting just as much, if not more so, than many parents themselves.

8. Margaret Cho: “I ovulate sand.”

While there’s little research into why some women may not feel a biological drive to reproduce or lack a strong maternal instinct, there is certainly anecdotal evidence that such women aren’t as rare as we might think. Firmly in that camp is Margaret Cho, who quipped in her 2003 film Revolution that she’s more interested in adopting a 50-year-old “baby by choice” than having an actual child.

9. Sarah Silverman: “I want to have kids when there’s nothing else I want more.”

As Silverman’s comments to the Daily Beast in 2010 remind us, there’s no age limit on being a parent. Silverman has additional reasons for not wanting children right now (fear of passing on her depression being one of them), but her point about not rushing if you don’t need to is a much-needed perspective.

10. Kim Cattrall: “I have a headache.”

Here’s the truth: Kids can be exhausting. Kim Cattrall told the Advocate in 2008 what most parents already know (but likely don’t want to think about too much).

11.  Jennifer Aniston: “No one has the right to assume.”

Aniston has spent her career facing down a barrage of gossip about her personal life, from her divorce from Brad Pitt to (perhaps most frequently) her childless status. She’s fired back again and again, including a 2014 interview with Allure magazine in which she reminded naysayers of a basic fact: The reasons why a woman doesn’t have kids are no one’s damn business.

12. Gloria Steinem: “Everybody does not have to live in the same way.”

After a difficult childhood spent tending to her mentally ill mother, Steinem said she didn’t want to spend any more time caring for others. And, as she told an audience in India, she hasn’t regretted it “for a millisecond.” In a conversation with Jennifer Aniston at the MAKERS Conference in 2014, she stated that the women’s movement of the 1960s and ’70s showed her that being married with kids is not the only way to live, a point she reiterated on Chelsea Lately in 2011 with an unforgettable quote.

Mohammed Fathi shared this link via Mic
“Nobody asks a guy that.”|By Mic


At long last, Pentagon Admitted That Israel Has Nuclear Weapons

—“Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations”—

It’s not exactly news.

According to opinion polls, two-thirds of the American people, know this facts.

Many articles and documentaries have expounded on this fact: That Israel possessed Nuclear bombs since the late 1960’s, thanks to France total participation in providing Israel with nuclear capabilities.

France even tested an Israeli bomb in Algeria desert and scores of Algerian and French soldiers were not informed of the terrible consequences of this live test.

Andrew Bossone  shared this link and commented on it on FB.

Could this be true?

After five decades of pretending otherwise, the Pentagon has reluctantly confirmed that Israel does indeed possess nuclear bombs as well as awesome weapons…

While the Washington press corps were obsessed over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails at the State Department, reporters were missing a far more important story about government secrets. After 5 decades of pretending otherwise, the Pentagon has reluctantly confirmed that Israel does indeed possess nuclear bombs, as well as awesome weapons technology similar to America’s.

Early last month the Department of Defense released a secret report done in 1987 by the Pentagon-funded Institute for Defense Analysis that essentially confirms the existence of Israel’s nukes.

DOD was responding to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Grant Smith, an investigative reporter and author who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy.

Smith said he thinks this is the first time the US government has ever provided official recognition of the long-standing reality.

It’s not exactly news.

Policy elites and every president from LBJ to Obama have known that Israel has the bomb.

But American authorities have cooperated in the secrecy and prohibited federal employees from sharing the truth with the people.

When the White House reporter Helen Thomas asked the question of Barack Obama back in 2009, the president ducked. “With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate,” Obama said. That was an awkward fib. Obama certainly knows better, and so do nearly two-thirds of the American people, according to opinion polls.

In my previous blog, “What about Israel’s Nuclear Bomb?” I observed that the news media focused solely on Iran’s nuclear ambitions but generally failed to note that Israel already had nukes.

That produced a tip about the Pentagon release in early February.

Yet the confirmation of this poorly kept secret opens a troublesome can of worms for both the US government and our closest ally in the Middle East.

Official acknowledgement poses questions and contradictions that cry out for closer inspection.

For many years, the United States collaborated with Israel’s development of critical technology needed for advanced armaments. Yet Washington pushed other nations to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires international inspections to discourage the spread of nuclear arms.

Israel has never signed the NPT and therefore does not have to submit to inspections.

Washington knew all along what the inspectors would find in Israel. Furthermore, as far back as the 1960s, the US Foreign Assistance Act was amended by concerned senators to prohibit any foreign aid for countries developing their own nukes.

Smith asserts that the exception made for Israel was a violation of the US law but it was shrouded by the official secrecy. Since Israel is a major recipient of US aid, American presidents had good reason not to reveal the truth.

The newly released report—“Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations”—describes Israel’s nuclear infrastructure in broad terms, but the dimensions are awesome.

Israel’s nuclear research labs, the IDA researchers reported, “are equivalent to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.” Indeed, the investigators observed that Israel’s facilities are “an almost exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories.”

The IDA team visited Israeli labs, factories, private companies and government research centers in Israel and relevant NATO nations (details on NATO allies were redacted from the released version).

On Israel, the tone of the report was both admiring and collegial. “The SOREQ center,” it said, for instance, “runs the full nuclear gamut of activities from engineering, administration and non-destructive testing for electro-optics, pulsed power, process engineering and chemistry and nuclear research and safety. This is the technology base required for nuclear weapons design and fabrication.”

The IDA team added: “It should be noted that the Israelis are developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level.” So far, The IDA estimated, Israel scientists were about where the US had been in the 1950s in understanding fission and fusion processes.

The report does not include a single declarative sentence that directly states the taboo—Israel has nukes—but the meaning is obvious.

For many years, scholars and other experts have estimated that Israel has at least 100 to 200 bombs, possibly more.

Some of the IDA’s observations seem to hint at a copy-cat process in which the US government either actively helped or at least looked the other way while Israel borrowed or purloined technologies to establish a parallel nuclear system that looks a lot like America’s.

The IDA document does not say anything, one way or the other, on the history of how this happened. But critics of Israel and advocates for banning all nuclear weapons have harbored suspicions for decades.

The Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, Smith said, is pushing another FOIA request aimed at the CIA, hoping to pry open long-secret intelligence investigations about how Israel managed to get the bomb in the first place.

The institute is seeking disclosure of a CIA study that supposedly investigated how quantities of uranium were leaked or allegedly smuggled by Israeli agents from a Pennsylvania defense plant to provide seed corn for the Israel bomb.

Smith and others suspect that elements of the US government knew what happened back then or may even have assisted the stealthy transfer. That particular mystery was a hot issue back in the 1970s. It seems likely to get renewed interest now that the pretense of official ignorance has been demolished by release of the 1987 report.

However, the IDA’s most powerful message may not be what it says about Israel’s nukes but what it conveys about the US-Israel relationship.

It resembles a technological marriage that over decades transformed the nature of modern warfare in numerous ways. The bulk of the report is really a detailed survey of Israel’s collaborative role in developing critical technologies—the research and industrial base that helped generate advanced armaments of all sorts. Most Americans, myself included, are used to assuming the US military-industrial complex invents and perfects the dazzling innovations, then shares some with favored allies like Israel.

That’s not altogether wrong but the IDA report suggests a more meaningful understanding. The US and Israel are more like a very sophisticated high-tech partnership that collaborates on the frontiers of physics and other sciences in order to yield the gee-whiz weaponry that now define modern warfare. Back in the 1980s, the two nations were sharing and cross-pollinating their defense research at a very advanced level.

Today we have as a result the “electronic battlefield” and many other awesome innovations. Tank commanders with small-screen maps that show where their adversaries are moving. Jet pilots who fire computer-guided bombs. Ships at sea that launch missiles over the horizon and hit targets 1,000 miles away.

I had to read the report several times before I grasped its deeper meaning. The language is densely technological and probably beyond anyone (like myself) who is not a physicist or engineer. The researchers reported on the state of play in electronic optical systems, plasma physics, laser-guided spacecraft, obscure communication innovations and many other scientific explorations that were underway circa 1987.

Finally, it dawned on me. These experts were talking in the 1980s about technological challenges that were forerunners to the dazzling innovations that are now standard. I saw some of these new war-fighting devices in the late 1990s when I wrote a short book on the post-Cold War military struggling to redefine itself when it no longer had the Soviet Union as an enemy (Fortress America: The American Military and the Consequence of Peace).

While reporting on numerous military bases—land, sea and air—I saw some of the early attempts at battlefield communications and guidance systems. A lot of the new stuff didn’t work very well. Soldiers and commanders sometimes had to put it aside or work around it. Drones at that stage were still on the drawing boards, known as UAV’s—“unmanned aerial vehicles.”

The Middle East wars became the live-fire testing ground where new systems were perfected. The consequences of peace were brushed aside by the terror of 9-11. War became America’s continuous preoccupation.

Israel participated importantly in developing groundwork for some of the wonder weapons and, as the IDA survey makes clear, Israeli physicists or engineers were sometimes a few steps ahead of their American counterparts. To be sure, the Israelis were junior partners who brought “technology based on extrapolations of US equipment and ideas.” But the report also observed: “Much Israeli fielded electronic warfare and communications [is] ahead of US fielded equipment.”

On several occasions, the research team spoke of “ingenious” or “Ingeniously clever” solutions that Israeli technologists have found for mind-bending problems of advanced physics. The IDA team also suggested opportunities for American researchers to piggy-back on what Israel had discovered or to team up with one of their R&D centers. Yale’s Office of Naval Research, IDA suggested, should collaborate with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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“Scientists at RAFAEL [another Israeli center] have come up with an ingenious way of using the properties of a glow discharge plasma to detect microwave and millimeter waves,” the report said. “The attractiveness of the project lies in the ability of the discharge to withstand nuclear weapons effects.”

This observation gave a me a chill because the earnest defense scientists have yet to find a way for human beings “to withstand nuclear weapons effects.”

It would be good to keep in mind that these extraordinary breakthroughs in technology have one purpose—fighting wars—and are intended to give still greater advantage to advanced nations like the US and Israel that dwarf more primitive adversaries. Many of the new technologies, it is true, will find commercial applications that improve everyday lives (some already have). Yet it is also true that our advances in high-tech killing power have not subdued all the enemies.

They find irregular ways to fight back. They blow the legs off our soldiers. They plant home-made bombs in crowded restaurants. They recruit children to serve as their guided missiles. They capture and slaughter innocent bystanders, while our side merely bombs the villages from high altitude. The victims do not see our way as pristine or preferable. Their suffering becomes their global recruiting.

The highly successful partnership of American and Israeli military science is one more reason it will be most difficult to disentangle from the past and turn the two countries in new directions, either together or separately. But many people are beginning to grasp that lopsided wars—contests between high-tech and primitive forms of destruction—do not necessarily lead to victory or peace. They have led the United States into more wars.


Read Next: William Greider on how Israel’s nuclear superiority affects Middle East conflicts


Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God. Why should you be that surprised?

“How can you call yourself a Christian, let alone a minister?!”

I get asked that question frequently and the questioner is hostile more often than not.

Still, I like to answer it if I believe the questioner is sincere.

Though I self-identify as a Christian and I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I raised eyebrows a few years ago when I posted an article on my website about how my personal beliefs don’t align with those of most Presbyterians.

For example, I believe that:

  • Religion is a human construct
  • The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
  • Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
  • God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
  • The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
  • Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife

In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister.

But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

Why is that so many people think my affirmations are antithetical to Christianity?

I think it is because Christianity has placed all of its eggs in the belief basket.

We all have been trained to think that Christianity is about believing things. Its symbols and artifacts (God, Bible, Jesus, Heaven, etc) must be accepted in a certain way. And when times change and these beliefs are no longer credible, the choices we are left with are either rejection or fundamentalism.

I think of Christianity as a culture.

It has produced 2,000 years of artifacts: literature, music, art, ethics, architecture, and (yes) beliefs.

But cultures evolve and Christianity will have to adapt in order to survive in the modern era.

Many of those paths will be dead ends.

As Daniel Dennett once said, the dinosaurs really have not died out because modern birds carry on many of their traits.

Similarly, as religions evolve, they may look similar in some respects and quite different in others. You may not even call some of them religions anymore, depending on how you define the word.

I believe one of the newer religious paths could be a “belief-less” Christianity.

In this “sect,” one is not required to believe things. One learns and draws upon practices and products of our cultural tradition to create meaning in the present.

The last two congregations I have served have huge commitments to equality for LGTBQ people and eco-justice, among other things. They draw from the well of our Christian cultural tradition (and other religious traditions) for encouragement in these efforts.

I think a belief-less Christianity can be a positive good for society.

Belief-less Christianity is thriving right now, even as other forms of the faith are falling away rapidly.

Many liberal or progressive Christians have already let go or de-emphasized belief in Heaven, that the Bible is literally true, that Jesus is supernatural, and that Christianity is the only way. Yet they still practice what they call Christianity.

Instead of traditional beliefs, they emphasize social justice, personal integrity and resilience, and building community. The cultural artifacts serve as resources.

But what about belief in God?

Can a belief-less Christianity really survive if God isn’t in the picture? Can you even call that Christianity anymore?

In theory, yes. In practice, it is a challenge because “belief in God” seems to be so intractable.

However, once people start questioning it and realize that they’re not alone, it becomes much more commonplace.

Since posting my article — and in response to my ministry in general — many have opened up to me that they didn’t believe in God but they liked coming to my church. One young woman, after going through my confirmation class, joined the church.

She read her faith statement in front of the congregation. It was a powerful articulation of her social justice commitments in which she added that she didn’t believe in God. The congregation enthusiastically welcomed her, of course.

Personally, even though I don’t believe in God as a supernatural agent or force, many still do. I utilize the symbol “God” in worship.

This may be viewed as cheating but since our cultural tradition is filled with images of God, it is near impossible to avoid.

As a symbol, I’m not yet ready to let go of God. It is a product of myth-making — I know that — but the symbol incorporates many of our human aspirations.

I find that “God” for me is shorthand for all the things for which I long: beauty, truth, healing, and justice. They’re all expressed by this symbol and the stories about it.

Someone quipped that my congregation is BYOG: Bring Your Own God. I use that and invite people to “bring their own God” — or none at all.

While the symbol “God” is part of our cultural tradition, you can take it or leave it or redefine it to your liking. That permission to be theological do-it-yourselfers is at the heart of belief-less Christianity.

I understand some Christians may react with hostility and panic to this idea — they already have — but it deserves an honest discussion.

Patsy Z sent this link on FB

VERY interesting, coming from a priest! Surprisingly open-minded and logical! Makes sense from a community perspective.

The question is: does this thinking work at all in the religious frame?

Or better call this community something else and frame it differently?

I get asked that question frequently and the questioner is hostile more often than not.
Note: Aren’t we all living within sets of cultural constructs?



Main Difference between ISIS and monarchist family of Al Saud

ISIS or Daesh adopted the Wahhabi Islamic sect that the tribe of Saud in the Najd province,  in the Arabic Peninsula, adopted in the 18th century.

This was a religious sect that was the most extreme in denying the worship of prophets, shrines, pictures, music on any form of pleasure.

The Saudi monarchy is a branch of a Bedouin tribe that affiliated with the theocratic extremist religion of Wahhab.

It is the difference between an abstract religious dogma with a set of daily prescriptions and a real living tribe with customs and traditions.

It is like the difference between the Jewish religion, the religious Jews  and the State of Israel.

In the province of Najd in the Arabic peninsula, there exist wide differences among the tribes.

The differences are even wider between the tribes in Najd and the tribes of the northern provinces close to the Syrian and Jordanian borders.

An abyss separate the psychological characters between the sedentary and nomadic Arabic tribes.

The British Palgrave in the 19th century described the Wahhabis tribes in the Najd province:

They are less generous than the tribes in the North.

They quick in understanding difficult projects.

They are Not cheerful people and less candid than other tribes

They rarely express through words their secret feelings

They are firm in their plans

Are terrible in their vengeance

Are implacable enemies

They doubt whoever is Not their compatriot.

The expression of their features denote reserved, hard, and gloomy dispositions: They contrast with benevolent faces of the northern tribes

They have limited intelligence

They are strong and persevering will which makes them capable to powerfully organize their social system and become their neighbors tyrannical masters

Their ambitious dream to dominate the entire Arabic Peninsula will be realized earlier than one think

Their character is reflected in the slightest acts of domestic life.

One should watch his tongue and measure his gestures when dealing with them as he should with enemies.

Ibn Saud, backed by the British, managed to conquer all of the Peninsula and entered Mecca and chased out the Hashemite dynasty. The British offered the Hashemite  a kingdom in Jordan, in Damascus and in Baghdad.  Only the Jordanian dynasty survived the turmoil of the Syrian and Iraqi independence movements.

In order for the Saudi monarchy to survive, Ibn Saud ordered his descendants to follow his strategy in the Arab world:

1. Egypt is the head of the Arab World: decapitate Egypt

2. Syria is the heart of Arabism: Remove this heart

3. Never allow Syria to link up with Iraq under any condition: This would create the Oriental power house in the region.

The USA, Israel and the western colonial powers couldn’t agree better, and kept the Middle East States in constant destabilizing conditions and unable to unite.

Note 1: In 1818, Ibrahim Pasha, the elder son of Egypt Muhammad Ali, entered and erased the Wahhabi capital Deryeh. After Ibrahim left the Arabic peninsula, and two decades later, the Wahhabi tribes were back to their old habit of raiding the Syrian provinces by the border, thanks to the  sustained British aids in finance and military weapons.

Read my review:



Lebanese immigrants: Why did you leave?

Every year, over 30,000 Lebanese emigrate to “greener pastures”” and are replaced by 50,000 Syrian refugees.

Do you think this could be the proper form for gathering statistics?

Are there more interesting questions to ponder upon?

What could be the purpose for this questionnaire?

This could be a good form for every immigrant to use as starting points to develop and write his autobiography.


Indie, Mar 4, 2015

Here are the questions to Lebanese immigrants. Jo, feel free to make this into another thread if you think it would be better.

1 – How long have you lived abroad?

What country did you move to?

How easily did you adapt?

2 – What were your motivations for leaving?

Overall, did you get what you wanted or were you disappointed?

3 – What did you gain and what did you lose by moving away from Lebanon?

Did you gain things you had not considered or anticipated?

Did you lose things you had not considered or anticipated?

4 – When you left, did you think to yourself it was for good, or did you think you would move back to Lebanon eventually?

Do you still feel the same,

Have your plans changed since moving?

If your plans have changed, why is that?

5 – Do you feel torn between Lebanon and your new country (i.e. You see advantages and disadvantages to both).

Do you categorically prefer one to the other.

What do you like / dislike about Lebanon,

What do you like / dislike about your new country?

6 – If you’re happily abroad, what would it take for you to want to move back to Lebanon (if anything).
If you’re unhappy abroad, what would it take to reconcile you with the idea of not living in Lebanon anymore (if anything)?​
7 – If you’re someone who’s equally torn between Lebanon and your new country, how do you deal with it?
For example, maybe you love your job abroad, but still have family in Lebanon.
Or, maybe you want to move back to Lebanon but all your family has moved out and isn’t there anymore.
Maybe you love the climate in one place, and the lifestyle in the other.
Feel free to give examples of your own.​
8 – Do you ever feel confused about what you want: for example, craving the chaos of Lebanon when you’re abroad where many behaviors are too orderly, and craving order when you’re in Lebanon?
Feel free to give examples of your own.​

9 – Is Lebanon still your home (as much, less, or more than your country of adoption)?

Or is Lebanon just a place to visit?

How often do you visit Lebanon and for what reasons?

Would you prefer to visit more often or less often if your circumstances permitted?

10 – Do you ever feel like you don’t know where home really is?

Or, that you don’t feel 100% at home anywhere?

11 – Have you ever, or do you still suffer from nostalgia or homesickness?

12 – Idealistically, do you feel it’s a patriotic duty to stay and make Lebanon better (even if you don’t personally feel up to the task)?

Or, do you think that everyone should just think of their own well-being and that of their family?

13 – If you’re established abroad and never plan on moving back, how do you feel knowing that in a few generations, your kids / grandkids will probably not be Lebanese anymore?

Jeanine Fakhoury shared this link of The Orange Room on FB.

Questions to Lebanese Emigrants

Here are some questions to Lebanese emigrants.
We would really want to know more details about your emigration experience. Are you happy ?


How Robots change lives of handicapped?

Patsy Z shared  link on FB
Paralyzed by a stroke, Henry Evans uses a telepresence robot to take the stage|By Henry Evans and Chad Jenkins
  • “I never thought I would be able to casually move around a campus on my own.” – Henry Evans
    And no, he’s not talking about the “handicap” chair (that used to be the BIG invention for the disabled back then), he’s talking about flying an aerial drone combined with an Oculus Rift.
    Amazing, no?

Henry Evans: Hello. My name is Henry Evans, and until August 29, 2002, I was living my version of the American dream.

I grew up in a typical American town near St. Louis. My dad was a lawyer. My mom was a homemaker.

My six siblings and I were good kids, but caused our fair share of trouble. After high school, I left home to study and learn more about the world.

I went to Notre Dame University and graduated with degrees in accounting and German, including spending a year of study in Austria.

Later on, I earned an MBA at Stanford. I married my high school sweetheart, Jane. I am lucky to have her. Together, we raised four wonderful children. I worked and studied hard to move up the career ladder, eventually becoming a chief financial officer in Silicon Valley, a job I really enjoyed.

My family and I bought our first and only home on December 13, 2001, a fixer-upper in a beautiful spot of Los Altos Hills, California, from where I am speaking to you now.

1:53 We were looking forward to rebuilding it, but eight months after we moved in, I suffered a stroke-like attack caused by a birth defect.

Overnight, I became a mute quadriplegic at the ripe old age of 40.

It took me several years, but with the help of an incredibly supportive family, I finally decided life was still worth living. I became fascinated with using technology to help the severely disabled.

Head tracking devices sold commercially by the company Madentec convert my tiny head movements into cursor movements, and enable my use of a regular computer. I can surf the web, exchange email with people, and routinely destroy my friend Steve Cousins in online word games. This technology allows me to remain engaged, mentally active, and feel like I am a part of the world.

2:58 One day, I was lying in bed watching CNN, when I was amazed by Professor Charlie Kemp of the Healthcare Robotics Lab at Georgia Tech demonstrating a PR2 robot.

I emailed Charlie and Steve Cousins of Willow Garage, and we formed the Robots for Humanity project.

For about two years, Robots for Humanity developed ways for me to use the PR2 as my body surrogate.

I shaved myself for the first time in 10 years. From my home in California, I shaved Charlie in Atlanta. I handed out Halloween candy. I opened my refrigerator on my own. I began doing tasks around the house. I saw new and previously unthinkable possibilities to live and contribute, both for myself and others in my circumstance.

4:04 All of us have disabilities in one form or another.

For example, if either of us wants to go 60 miles an hour, both of us will need an assistive device called a car. Your disability doesn’t make you any less of a person, and neither does mine. By the way, check out my sweet ride.  Since birth, we have both suffered from the inability to fly on our own.

4:35 Last year, Kaijen Hsiao of Willow Garage connected with me Chad Jenkins.

Chad showed me how easy it is to purchase and fly aerial drones. It was then I realized that I could also use an aerial drone to expand the worlds of bedridden people through flight, giving a sense of movement and control that is incredible.

Using a mouse cursor I control with my head, these web interfaces allow me to see video from the robot and send control commands by pressing buttons in a web browser.

With a little practice, I became good enough with this interface to drive around my home on my own. I could look around our garden and see the grapes we are growing. I inspected the solar panels on our roof. 

One of my challenges as a pilot is to land the drone on our basketball hoop. I went even further by seeing if I could use a head-mounted display, the Oculus Rift, as modified by Fighting Walrus, to have an immersive experience controlling the drone.

With Chad’s group at Brown, I regularly fly drones around his lab several times a week, from my home 3,000 miles away. All work and no fun makes for a dull quadriplegic, so we also find time to play friendly games of robot soccer.

I never thought I would be able to casually move around a campus like Brown on my own. I just wish I could afford the tuition.

Chad said:

7:38 What makes Henry’s story amazing is it’s about understanding Henry’s needs, understanding what people in Henry’s situation need from technology, and then also understanding what advanced technology can provide, and then bringing those two things together for use in a wise and responsible way.

What we’re trying to do is democratize robotics, so that anybody can be a part of this. (Anyone who can afford it).

We’re providing affordable, off-the-shelf robot platforms such as the A.R. drone, 300 dollars, the Suitable Technologies beam, only 17,000 dollars, along with open-source robotics software so that you can be a part of what we’re trying to do.

And our hope is that, by providing these tools, that you’ll be able to think of better ways to provide movement for the disabled, to provide care for our aging population, to help better educate our children, to think about what the new types of middle class jobs could be for the future, to both monitor and protect our environment, and to explore the universe.

Back to Henry:

8:44 With this drone setup, we show the potential for bedridden people to once again be able to explore the outside world, and robotics will eventually provide a level playing field where one is only limited by their mental acuity and imagination, where the disabled are able to perform the same activities as everyone else, and perhaps better, and technology will even allow us to provide an outlet for many people who are presently considered vegetables.

One hundred years ago, I would have been treated like a vegetable. Actually, that’s not true. I would have died.

9:26 It is up to us, all of us, to decide how robotics will be used, for good or for evil, for simply replacing people or for making people better, for allowing us to do and enjoy more.

9:39 Our goal for robotics is to unlock everyone’s mental power by making the world more physically accessible to people such as myself and others like me around the globe. With the help of people like you, we can make this dream a reality.




March 2015

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