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Archive for May 10th, 2018

Lebanon has a new Parliament, after 9 years. Most devilish and creative new Election Law

Note 1: I started writing this report the day after the election on May 7, and had to wait for the “official” count that was Not forthcoming for another 3 days. I conjecture that the government is weary of officially signing on the final list of winners, due to many contesting candidates, Not just on the counting procedure, but mainly on the lack of training of the appointed judges in deciding on winners and losers according to this first new election law.

Note 2: the tone of this election was denying Saudi Kingdom and USA any claim that the Lebanese are against Hezbollah and its allies. The election proved without any doubt that the Resistance against Israel and the terrorist factions (supported by Saudi Kingdom and USA) won the choice of the people: More than the absolute majority in this parliament of 128 deputies. Also, the preferred votes for Hezbollah candidates represented 72% of all the Shi3a voters, way ahead of his ally Shia party of Amal, headed by Nabih Berry, chairman of the Parliament since 1991.

Note 3: Your religious and sect affiliation counts heavily on your chance for being a winner since the number of seats in the Parliament are divided according to the 19 religious sects that are officially recognized by the political system. For example, All the Christian sects are entitled to 50% of the seats (including the minority sects), all the Sunni sects, (including Druze) 25%, and all the Shia sects the remaining 25% of the seats. Though the Muslims currently constitute more than 65% of the population

The concept of proportionality in this law revolves around the voting quotient or dividend (7aasel intikhabi)

For example, if in a district that has 5 lists of candidates  (each list containing no less than 4 candidates by law), the total votes in the district is divided by 5. The result constitute the dividing line for a list to be eligible for proportional selection. The preferred votes for a candidate in the list can give him a seat in the Parliament if the list crossed the Quotient.

And how many candidates in a list can be selected to win? The total votes in a district in divided by the quotient number. If a list obtain for example 4.6, then it is entitled to 5 candidates in the selection among the other lists. 

So, if a candidate in this list obtain far less preferred votes than another candidate in another list, he can still be a winner due to other sects, minority and political parties opting to vote for his list.

Saying that this candidate was no match to another candidate in another list is irrelevant since you have to add the preferred votes to all the votes the list gathered. Though, this deputy must be cognizant that his representative sect didn’t favor him.

Many candidates got more than other candidates in other lists by adding the preferred votes, but since his list failed to get the quotient, he was Not selected as winner. At least 4 candidates received less than 500 preferred votes and still were voted in because his list received larger numbers of voters.

If a voter select the preferred candidate but didn’t tick off the list, the vote is valid for the entire list.

Thus, a winner cannot get more than twice the votes that his list received: The preferred vote has to be selected from the list.

Obviously, the more the list of candidate in a district, the lower the quotient, which would allow more unknown candidates in other lists to be elected.

Two main drawback for submitting your candidature:

  1. You must block about $100,000 in a bank account for the duration of the campaign and pay a non-refundable $6,000 for the expenses of the government budget to run the election. This eliminates many potential candidates who lack the necessary financial requirements.
  2.  You have to be able to enlist at least 3 more candidates in your list in your district to challenge the other lists that are supported by heavy weight political parties and deep pocket candidates. And be sure no one in your list will drop out of the race after the deadline to chose another candidate.

In any case, this post will ultimately be re-edited for additional information and opinions

The new Lebanon Parliament has 76 new deputies out of the 128. Actually, there are about 60 fresh deputies who will have to learn the ropes and to get used to say “yes, yes, boss”. The other deputies were Not in the previous parliament, but were deputies in other Parliaments and know “how it works”.

The deputies who returned after 9 years of extended tenure are mostly active, dynamic, well cultured and educated, with experience in public affairs.

And as expected, the main militia/mafia leaders during the civil war returned to Parliament

Since Independence, the election law was the “majority takes all the seats” and thus denied many political parties any representation in the Parliament.

In this election, turnout rates were dismal in most of the 15 districts: under 40%. Only about 4 districts managed to eek over 55%. Ashrafiyyeh witnessed a 30% rate. The district of Beirut #2 (supposedly the Hariri fiefdom) returned only 40%.

There are 3 main reasons for voters denying the traditional parties a high turnover rate of over 55% that they needed to sweep the election:

  1. In the last 9 years, a block of new eligible voters 800,000 emerged from the shadow of “doing politics”. They expressed their disgust from denying them their rights for voting in 2013. Thus, they refraining from any participation.
  2. The Sunni voters who constantly voted for late Rafiq Hariri (Al Moustakbal movement) expressed their distrust of Saad Hariri political positions by punishing him in Beirut and every district they could.
  3. Mind you that there are about 400,000 Lebanese immigrants in the Gulf State, and they refrained from flying over and vote

The new Election Law for Parliament that Lebanon voted under is the most Devilish and creative law that only Lebanese can conceive of.

The main thrust of this law is that every political party was pressured Not to ally with other parties, in districts they don’t have crushing majority.

The rational of the election law was that the introduction of a single preferred choice for a candidate in a list of candidates will give the leader of the list a higher chance to be elected. This strategy allowed many sub-leaders to be selected for a seat in the Parliament.

The majority of deputies in the previous Parliament didn’t fully assimilate the concept, but for sure the 6 leaders who run the country, fully assessed the consequences of the election law. The hot-headed “leaders” with some concentration in a district signed up to the law: they wanted to fool themselves as mass leaders.

The results proved that only political parties with actual mass following in most districts won sizable blocks of deputies.

Only political parties with definite mass based managed to round up sizable blocks in the Parliament. 

Lebanon President Michel Aoun said: Using the preferred choice of a candidate in a list is the most potent decision to bring deputies whom you want to serve you. Having to select the entire list (political trend), as the law forces upon you, should Not deter you from selecting the list that include your preferred candidate.

“sawtak al tabdili bi jeeb al naaeb al nazeeh bi yeshteghel lel sha3b. Consequence: al listaat elleh fihom kayk naw3 min al mourrashaheen mafroud tenja7 wa t3abber 3an raghbat fi moukafa7at al fassaad”.

The main fault is that new law is dividing Lebanon in 15 districts commensurate to religious sects majority, as previously suggested in an alternative law, labelled “The Orthodox Law”.

Results:

Their wings were clipped in this new Lebanon Parliament: The civil war militia/mafia leaders, source of most of the spoilage of the budget and foreign aids barely managed to bring 45 deputies out of 128.

For example: Nabih Berry of Amal party (13 + 3 allies and thanks to Hezbollah), Walid  Jumblat (5+4 allies) and the Al Moustakbal (20) had their noses dirtied in the mud.

Samir Ja3ja is a civil war militia leader but was caste out of the spoilage, since he was the only one to serve 13 years in prison, in this war that denied every Lebanese party any victory. Syria was the only victor.

The Christian political parties (Tayyar and Lebanese Forces) practically closed traditional feudal “Houses” such as the Frangiyyeh in Zghorta/Ehden (2 +2 allies), and the Kataeb (The Phalanges) 3 deputies. The same process that Hezbollah did since its inception for closing Shia “Feudal Houses” in South Lebanon.

The Sunni voters in this new law actually opened “Houses“( “leaders”, such as Mikati and Faisal Karami in Tripoli, Abdel Rahim Mraad (West Bekaa) and Makhzoumi (Beirut) and Mustafa Sa3d in Saida) due to Moustakbal refusing to ally with them in this election.

The Druze voters re-opened the House of Erslan, after Walid Jumblat closed it according to the previous majority take all seats law, in vigor since Independence in 1943.

The largest block of deputies 29 belong to the “Christian” Tayyar of the actual President Michel Aoun, and was the only party that covered all 15 districts with 43 candidates.

Next is the Al Moustakbal (Saad Hariri) with 19 instead of 33 in the last Parliament, Amal of Nabih Berry 16, Lebanese Forces 16 from 6 previously, Hezbollah 13 (as the law restrict the number of Shia representation to 27 deputies and Hezbollah has to split with Amal party of Nabih Berry, the Parliament chairman).

The block of deputies steadfastly against opening regular lines of communication with the Syrian regime in order to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees (over 1.5 million) and the reconstruction of Syria is constituted as follow: Mustakbal 19, Lebanese Forces 16 , Walid Jumblat 9 and Kataeb 3, or  47 deputies

The civil secular movement was represented in 11 districts with 66 candidates under the name “Kelna Loubnan“. Paula Ya3koubian managed to be elected in Ashrafiyyeh.

Actually, the movement gathered by the thousands in front of the Ministry of interior reclaiming a recount because Joumana Hadad celebrated at night and woke up with a different news. Actually, the list of Hadad couldn’t sustain 2 winning candidates due to the level of its quotient.

6 women  entered the Parliament. Setrida  (wife of Samir Ja3ja3) is the only one from the previous Parliament. (Ja3ja3 means the one who babel, talking nonsense)

It is to be noted that the combined preferred votes for the candidates of Hezbollah and the Tayyar constitutes an absolute majority of the voters in this election.

I suggest the reformed law to divide Lebanon in 3 voting districts that have about equal voting population and variety in religious sects:

District #1: Based in Tripoli with districts of Akkar, Donniyyeh, Hermel, Baalbek, Betroun, Zghorta, Bshareh, Koura.

District #2: Based in Beirut with districts of B3abda, Shouf, Aley,  Za7leh, Keserwan, Byblos, and North Metn

District #3: Based in Saida with districts of Tyr, Nabatiyyeh, Marje3youn, Jezzine, Rashayya, Hasbayya and western Bekaa.

Note 1: The laziest, most disoriented and impotent political party (who has members in all the 15 districts) in this election proved to be the Lebanese based Syria National Social Party (SNSP). Its “leadership” failed to assimilate the advantages of the law and didn’t mine any of its opportunities and potentials. It went about with its traditional crawling process of affiliating with same parties to snatch a few candidates (3 deputies at best) as it did in previous elections.

Note 2: Only 2 political parties are secular and have mix of various religious sects as members, and they are the first serious parties that were formed in the 30’s: The Communist and Lebanon based Syria National Social Party (SNSP). They failed to make any impact on the social fabric after 1960, due to the previous election law.

Note 3: Active and organized parties formed lists of candidates in most of the districts, and the preferred candidate clause in each list permitted them to win fresh new deputies. For example, the block of The Lebanese Forces won 16 deputies (10 members and 6 allies) and outnumbered the Druze party of Walid Jumblat and came close to the Moustakbal.

Note 4: The 2 largest “Christian” parties gathered 45 deputies out of 64 allowed. The other 19 Christian deputies pay allegiance to Walid Jumblat, Nabih Berry, Al Moustakbal, and the Phalanges party.

Note 5: Weird facts: 3 candidates in their 3 respective separate voting centers discovered that the results of their voting center returned Zero vote for each of them. It is becoming clear that there was fraud in the district of Beirut #2 in order to elect the minister of the Interior.

For example, the list of Independent candidates thought that they secured the signature of Beirut governor on their representatives in the voting centers, to discover that the governor reneged on his signature on the day voting day. Consequently, without representatives, these candidates were open to witness massive fraud concerning the results. The governor could not apply this ignominy on the parties in power against Al Moustakbal and won 5 seats out of 13 allocated to this district.

Note 6. The block of deputies of President Michel Aoun is of 29, Al Tayyar , is the one that decides on the laws:  The number of Tayyar= Hezbollah +Amal.  Tayyar= Moustakbal + Jumblat. Tayyar= Lebanese Forces + Kataeb +Frangiyeh + Moustakeleen +

Note 7: Comparing numbers in this election has no substantive meaning if taken out of context, the block of voters in each district, the number of lists of candidates, and the variety of religious sect in the district.

For example, how can we compare if we fail to factor in that the Shias constitute 40%, the Sunnis 35% and all the Christian sect barely 25% of the entire population? Sure, the last census was done in 1932, by analyzing this election, the proportions I submitted are no hoax.

Note 8: This is my 5th update of this article in order to clarify the process and the results of this election

Note 9: Finally the official results and counts, though the news papers are still reluctant of posting any official results: https://libnanews.com/liban-legislatives-statistiques-voix-hezbollah-amal-cpl-fl-futur/. You may find the details of the numbers of each candidate on Election.gov.lb

NASA, committed to lunar exploration, is shutting down a moon rover mission

Ashley Rodriguez, April 29, 2018

NASA is so devoted to lunar exploration that it’s shutting down its moon rover.

As part of its Resource Prospector mission, NASA was developing a lunar rover that would search one of the moon’s poles for compounds essential to human life, such as hydrogen, oxygen, and water.

The concept was still being formulated, with a goal of launching in the 2020s.

But on April 26, members of the team were abruptly ordered to shut down the project by the end of May, NASA Watch reported.

Scientists were reportedly rocked by the decision, which seems at odds with US president Donald Trump’s Space Policy Directive to send astronauts back to the moon. (Trump siding with private space industries)

The trouble arose after NASA shifted the project’s focus from human exploration to research with different goals than the Resource Prospect mission, The Washington Post reported (paywall).

An interdisciplinary group that includes lunar scientists, called the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, wrote new NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine to get the project back on track, as part of the human exploration program.

NASA said on April 27 that it was developing an exploration strategy, in line with Trump’s directive, to meet its expanded lunar exploration goals.

The agency noted some instruments from Resource Prospector will still be utilized, and that it’s planning a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface.

Bridenstine added on Friday:

NASA’s press office was closed on Sunday and could not be reached by press time for further clarification.

28 Things That Happened After The Harry Potter Books Ended

As told by JK Rowling.

In a series of interviews over the years, the author has revealed the future of the Harry Potter characters, far beyond the Deathly Hallows epilogue.

Ellie Hall posted on Buzzfeed this July 31, 2013

1. Harry married Ginny Weasley. They had three children: James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna.

            

Harry married Ginny Weasley. They had three children: James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna.

View this image › Via: burdge-bug.deviantart.com

2. Kingsley Shacklebolt became Minister for Magic.

JK Rowling:

“Kingsley became permanent Minister for Magic, and naturally he wanted Harry to head up his new Auror department… The Ministry of Magic was de-corrupted, and with Kingsley at the helm the discrimination that was always latent there was eradicated. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny et al would of course play a significant part in the re-building of wizarding society through their future careers.”

3. Hermione and Ron married and had two children, Hugo and Rose.

           

Hermione and Ron married and had two children, Hugo and Rose.View this image ›

4. Draco Malfoy married Astoria Greengrass, the younger sister of Daphne. They had one son, Scorpius Hyperion.

         

Draco Malfoy married Astoria Greengrass , the younger sister of Daphne. They had one son, Scorpius Hyperion.View this image ›

5. After the death of his parents, Teddy Lupin was raised by his grandmother Andromeda.

        

After the death of his parents, Teddy Lupin was raised by his grandmother Andromeda.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“Unlike Neville Longbottom, who was also raised by his grandmother, Teddy had his godfather, Harry, and all his father’s friends in the Order, to visit and stay with.”

6. George Weasley married his Quidditch teammate Angelina Johnson. They had two children, Fred and Roxanne.             

7. Harry, and eventually Ron, joined the Auror Department at the Ministry of Magic. Hermione became a high-ranking official in the Department Magical Law Enforcement.

         

Harry, and eventually Ron, joined the Auror Department at the Ministry of Magic. Hermione became a high-ranking official in the Department Magical Law Enforcement.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

” Harry and Ron utterly revolutionized the Auror Department at the Ministry of Magic… Hermione began her post-Hogwarts career at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures where she was instrumental in greatly improving life for house-elves and their ilk. She then moved (despite her jibe to Scrimgeour) to the Deptartment of Magical Law Enforcement where she was a progressive voice who ensured the eradication of oppressive, pro-pureblood laws.”

8. Bill and Fleur Weasley’s first child, a daughter, was born on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. They named her “Victoire,” which means “victory” in French.

         

Bill and Fleur Weasley's first child, a daughter, was born on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts . They named her "Victoire," which means "victory" in French.View this image ›

9. Dementors were no longer used by the Ministry of Magic.    

JK Rowling:

“The use of Dementors was always a mark of the underlying corruption of the Ministry, as Dumbledore constantly maintained.”

10. Ginny Weasley became a professional Quidditch player for a few years, then retired to become a Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet.

             

Ginny Weasley became a professional Quidditch player for a few years, then retired to become a Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet .View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“After a few years as a celebrated player for the Holyhead Harpies, Ginny retired to have her family and to become the Senior Quidditch correspondent at the Daily Prophet.”

11. Harry and Dudley made a point to see each other and get their families together as adults.

             

Harry and Dudley made a point to see each other and get their families together as adults.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“Harry and Dudley would still see each other enough to be on Christmas-card terms, but they would visit more out of a sense of duty and sit in silence so that their children could see their cousins.”

12. Percy Weasley became an official in the new Ministry of Magic under Kingsley Shacklebolt and married a woman named Audrey. They had two daughters, Molly and Lucy.

             

Percy Weasley became an official in the new Ministry of Magic under Kingsley Shacklebolt and married a woman named Audrey . They had two daughters, Molly and Lucy.View this image ›

13. Bill and Fleur Weasley had three children: Victoire, Louis, and Dominique.

             

Bill and Fleur Weasley had three children : Victoire, Louis, and Dominique.View this image ›

14. Hermione went back to Hogwarts to complete her seventh year of study and her N.E.W.T.S. Harry and Ron did not.

             

Hermione went back to Hogwarts to complete her seventh year of study and her N.E.W.T.S. Harry and Ron did not.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“She would definitely, definitely go back. And she would want to graduate, and I think that she was- I mean,I love Hermione. She went with Ron and Harry because she has a really good heart. That’s not about brain. Ultimately, she had a bigger heart than she had a brain and that’s saying something for Hermione. But did she- Was she naturally drawn to battle? No, she wasn’t. She’s not a Bellatrix. She’s not a woman who actually wants to be hurting, fighting, killing. Not at all. She would be glad to go back to school, be glad to get back to study, and then would join [Harry and Ron] at the Ministry.”

15. Mr. Weasley eventually fixed Sirius Black’s motorcycle and gave it to Harry.

             

Mr. Weasley eventually fixed Sirius Black's motorcycle and gave it to Harry .View this image ›

16. Luna Lovegood married Rolf Scamander, the grandson of naturalist Newt Scamander. They had two children, twin boys named Lorcan and Lysander.

             

Luna Lovegood married Rolf Scamander, the grandson of naturalist Newt Scamander. They had two children , twin boys named Lorcan and Lysander.View this image ›

17. Minerva McGonagall became headmistress of Hogwarts.

             

Minerva McGonagall became headmistress of Hogwarts.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“Nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, the school for witchcraft and wizardry is led by an entirely new headmaster. McGonagall was really getting on a bit.”

Source: J.K. Rowling  /  via: today.com

18. Harry ensured that Severus Snape’s portrait was restored to its proper place in the Hogwarts headmaster’s office.

             

Harry ensured that Severus Snape's portrait was restored to its proper place in the Hogwarts headmaster's office.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“[The absence of Snape’s portrait in the final scene of Deathly Hallows] was deliberate. Snape had effectively abandoned his post before dying, so he had not merited inclusion in these august circles. However, I like to think that Harry would be instrumental in ensuring that Snape’s portrait would appear there in due course… Harry would ensure that Snape’s heroism was known.”

19. Alice and Frank Longbottom never recovered — they lived out their lives in St. Mungo’s.

             

Alice and Frank Longbottom never recovered — they lived out their lives in St. Mungo's.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“I know people really wanted some hope for that, and I can quite see why because, in a way, what happens to Neville’s parents is even worse than what happened to Harry’s parents. The damage that is done, in some cases with very dark magic, is done permanently.”

Source: J.K. Rowling  /  via: beyondhogwarts.com

20. Harry lost the ability to speak to snakes when the Horcrux inside him was destroyed.

             

Harry lost the ability to speak to snakes when the Horcrux inside him was destroyed.View this image ›

J.K. Rowling:

“He loses the ability, and is very glad to do so.”

21. Firenze was eventually welcomed back into the centaur herd.

             

Firenze was eventually welcomed back into the centaur herd.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“The rest of the herd was forced to acknowledge that Firenze’s pro-human leanings were not shameful, but honourable.”

22. Cho Chang married a Muggle.

             

Cho Chang married a Muggle .View this image ›

23. Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley became boyfriend and girlfriend.

             

Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley became boyfriend and girlfriend .View this image ›

24. Gilderoy Lockhart never recovered from the injuries he sustained in the Chamber of Secrets.

             

Gilderoy Lockhart never recovered from the injuries he sustained in the Chamber of Secrets.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“Nor would I want him to. He’s happy where he is, and I’m happier without him!”

25. Neville Longbottom became the Hogwarts Herbology professor. He married Hannah Abbott, who became the new landlady at The Leaky Cauldron.

             

Neville Longbottom became the Hogwarts Herbology professor. He married Hannah Abbott, who became the new landlady at The Leaky Cauldron.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“To make him extra cool he marries the woman who becomes, eventually, the new landlady at The Leaky Cauldron, which I think would make him very cool among the students, that he lives above the pub. He marries Hannah Abbott.”

26. Dolores Umbridge was arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned for crimes against Muggle-borns.

             

Dolores Umbridge was arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned for crimes against Muggle-borns.View this image ›

27. Harry and Ginny’s children stole the Marauder’s Map and snuck it into Hogwarts.

             

Harry and Ginny's children stole the Marauder's Map and snuck it into Hogwarts.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“I’ve got a feeling [Harry] didn’t give [the Marauder’s Map] to any of [his children], but that James sneaked it out of his father’s desk one day.”

Source: J.K. Rowling  /  via: beyondhogwarts.com

28. Harry, Ron, and Hermione became memorialized in Chocolate Frog cards.

             

Harry, Ron, and Hermione became memorialized in Chocolate Frog cards.View this image ›

JK Rowling:

“Ron will describe this as his finest hour.”

BONUS: JK Rowling’s hand-drawn family tree.

             

BONUS: JK Rowling's hand-drawn family tree.View this image ›

Harry Potter: The Second Generation

             

Harry Potter: The Second GenerationView this image ›

Top Row: James Sirius Potter, Victoire Weasley, Teddy Lupin, Dominique Weasley, Molly Weasley, Fred Weasley, Roxanne Weasley.

Bottom Row: Scorpius Malfoy, Albus Potter, Rose Weasley, Lorcan Scamander, Lysander Scamander, Louis Weasley, Lucy Weasley, Lily Luna Potter, Hugo Weasley.

             

View this image ›

16 Rare “Harry Potter” Illustrations From The Books’ Artist

buzzfeed.com

Illustrator of the U.S. Harry Potter editions Mary GrandPré depicts iconic moments from the books in a seldom-seen series of beautiful prints.


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