Save the Environment, Get a $60,000 Prius

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Prius

UNLIMITED OFFER! GET YOURS NOW, OR DON'T.

My RSS reader this morning brought some news that I’ve been anticipating for a long time now. The environmentally friendly Toyota Prius is now available in Syria. With an extraordinary fuel economy and a price tag to match: $60,000!

Car prices are always high in Syria because of jacked up customs and fees on purchasing new cars. But paying $15,000 just to register the car is outrageous, especially that there’s a presidential decree for reduced import and registration fees for eco-friendly hybrids. The car would still set you back $45,000 without the registration fee. I wish I were joking, or dreaming for the matter. A car that the fully equipped top model Prius V would cost 28K costs over twice as much! And judging by the specs on the model available in Syria it’s the cheaper  26K Prius IV model.

So If you happen to be in Syria, and hope to save 30 thousand dollars on gas, this car is definitely for you!


Hamas, Hezbollah: A Change of Tone

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Thanks to a Syrian tweet bot, I keep on top of everything that’s said about the country in the Twittersphere. And Today I came across a rather interesting AP article: Netanyahu: Israel open to peace talks with Syria. What caught my attention was not the doublespeak of an Israeli official about peace with Syria. Israelis have expressed no interested in returning the occupied Golan to Syria; To them, Syria has nothing to offer in return. Peace in their logic, is overrated. A simple search in prominent Israeli media shows how prevalent that opinion is.

I was especially interested in the particular use of words in the article. I quote:

It has been a quarter-century since Israel and Syria fought directly, but Syria backs anti-Israel forces like the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic organization Hamas. Israel’s sworn enemy Iran backs Hamas and Hezbollah.

In this article, Hamas and Hezbollah were not referred to as.. *gasp* “terrorist organizations.” Now I was not able to determine if this was an AP policy not to refer to them as such outside of a direct quote, or whether there’s more to the matter. I’m going to layout a few happenings, and let the readers come out with their own conspiracy theories.

Read the rest of this entry


A Few Thoughts to Inaugurate my New Blog

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The Shorty Awards are unique awards for the Twitter community in several categories ranging between humor, entertainment, art, tech, politics, and many others. This year the politics category is on fire with Ali Abunimah becoming a finalist in the competition by popular vote. He basically swept the rug from under the feet of a racist Zionist spreading misinformation like a perfect propagandist tool while claiming to lead a “Jewish Internet Defense Force.” The problem is that David is blatantly racist, although he’s doing a poor job denying it; Most Jewish organizations/people are ignoring him or even outright shunning him. If you happen to have a twitter account and want to help Abunimah maintain his lead in the final round of votes you can go to the his shorty awards page and vote for him from there. Make sure you mention the reason you’re voting for him (e.g. because he supports equality and human rights.)

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I have been in the US for over seven months now. Sometimes a friend asks: “Do you miss Syria?” I always think about that and reply by saying that more than anything I miss the people (and sometimes the food). What makes a homeland is the people inhabiting it before the land itself. In a recent conversation with a Syrian friend whom I’ve never met, he was saying that he didn’t want to leave the country because he didn’t want to have to adapt to a new world and new people.  Distance is becoming more and more irrelevant everyday. People of different cultures are becoming less alienated with every click of a mouse in each forsaken corner of the world. The only real challenge that traveling entails is leaving behind those whom you care about the most; Language is acquirable. Cultural customs are a breeze to get used to. A job or an education are attainable. But how easy is it to brew an indifference towards those closest to you?

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To motivate myself into writing more than one post a month over here; I will start a series of posts about the different projects, websites, and organizations that I have been involved with to various degrees recently.

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I really wanted to include something about Syria in this post, so I looked at Syria-news for inspiration. I can’t say that the news have changed much: Corruption. Embezzlement. A vicious circle of useless talks with Western officials. Another honor killing. Another major traffic accident with dozens injured or dead. The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Diala el-Hajj Arif, is still an imbecile; I hate her with the heat of a thousand suns.

Things haven’t changed much.

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سَأعيشُ رَغْـمَ الـدَّاءِ والأَعـداءِ * كالنَّسْـر فـوقَ القِمَّـةِ الشَّمَّـاءِ
أرْنُو إلى الشَّمْسِ المُضِيئةِ هازِئاً * بالسُّحْبِ والأَمطـارِ والأَنواءِ
لا أرْمقُ الظِّلَّ الكئيـبَ ولا أرَى * مَا فـي قَـرارِ الهُـوَّةِ السَّــوداءِ

نشيد الجبار (هكذا غنّى بروميثيوس)،   أبو القاسم الشابّي


Bringing Nothing to the Party by Paul Carr

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Today Paul Carr, my favorite author on Tech Crunch, announced that he will make the pdf version of his latest book “Bringing Nothing to Party” available for free through a Creative Commons licence allowing noncommercial redistribution while crediting his website http://www.paulcarr.com .

I haven’t read the book yet so I will withhold giving an opinion for now. If you feel adventurous enough to start reading a 275 page book you can download it right here.


No Way Through

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The following video came through my RSS reader. It’s an award winning short film on the illegal checkpoints imposed by the Israeli Occupation(sic). Routinely, Palestinians in need of immediate medical attention are denied access to it, harassed, assaulted, and forced to give birth with out access to basic medical attention. Sometimes they’re even shot at those checkpoints. I leave you with video.

No Way Through

Update: The video embedding was disabled so you’re going to have to click through to view that video on youtube.

[Hat tip to Jazarah]


Welcome to Hell: Mohammed Omer

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Photo by Anas Qtiesh

I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by the brilliant Palestinian journalist and photographer Mohammed Omer which was properly named Welcome to Hell. He demonstrated the the situation in Gaza, the Israeli war crimes, and his experience as a journalist working under the Israeli occupation in Gaza and the abuses and assault he was subjected to by Israeli soldiers.

Omer shocked an awed the audience with striking photos and videos almost never seen by a “western citizen” and he recounted tales of horror of families killed; homes demolished over the heads of its residents; children risking their lives to go to a bombed house looking for a bicycle, or to see whether their favorite school bag survived; and elderly women cooking grass to survive. Needless to say that’s all a result of the Israeli siege on Gaza that has been going on for years now while the international community stands silently on the sidelines.

What really amazed me was his talk about the fluffy names of Israeli operations in Gaza: Rainbow; Summer Rain; and, if I remember correctly, Plucking Flowers where Israeli soldiers would walk around randomly shooting civilians (children included) point-blank.

Looking at Omer’s Wikipedia page you’ll find out that “in 2008, Omer was awarded the 2007 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. In the award citation, Omer was honored as ‘the voice of the voiceless’ and his reports were described as a ‘humane record of the injustice imposed on a community forgotten by much of the world.'”

On his return to Gaza after winning the award, he was assaulted by Israeli Soldier’s at Allenby Bridge and received severe bodily injuries including broken ribs and spine damage. He is still receiving treatment for these injuries till this day. But that’s not the worst of his problems: in 2003 his 17 year-old  brother was killed by sniper bullets as he was going to school. Three years later his mother sustained severe injuries as she jumped out of a house window to escape with her life as an Israeli Army bulldozer was tearing down their 2-story house with no prior warning. Almost all of his younger siblings were injured by the Israeli army at one time or another.

After all he went through, he stood at Harvard advocating a nonviolent approach to end the suffering in Gaza. He asked the people to spread the message and pressure their congressmen to cease blind preferential treatment for Israel. He pointed out a small yet significant progress: The Congress condemned the Goldstone report as biased with a vote of 344 to 36. While the aggression were taking place the Congress overwhelmingly voted against condemning Israeli actions with only 2 in opposition. This counted as a success to a slowly, yet steadily, growing BDS Movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against Israeli occupation.

Mohammed Omer will go on with his tour before going to the Netherlands to resume medical treatment for the aforementioned injuries. His work is available on his website: http://www.rafahtoday.org .


Blog Action Day 2009 – Climate Change

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Care to act?

Today is Blog Action Day, this year’s theme is Climate Change which many of you know is happening rapidly. Sea levels are rising at an increasing pace, and we’re losing glaciers and polar ice caps. Global action on the subject is a long way from being satisfactory or effective. The US demands China to lower their CO2 emissions because China is the worst offender when it comes to emissions. On the other hand, China demands that the US lower emissions since the US has the largest carbon print per capita. The blame game goes on and in the end  – which is coming a lot sooner than we projected – all of us are losing. Read the rest of this entry


For Fuckin' Fuck's Sake! Cut it Out!

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Karim Arbaji has just been sentenced to three years in prison for defending human rights in Syria. Meanwhile, the Syrian blogosphere is bustling with posts advocating admirable and worthy campaigns. There’s the astounding campaign against masturbation, the noble Blogging Week for Moral Decay, and the enlightening campaign for Blogging Against Fossilized Thinking.

The background of this story is this post by Abu Fares, a response ridiculing the infamous call for a campaign against masturbation. The commentators on that post eventually came up with their own ideas for  random blogging campaigns. In essence to further mock that blogger, and the perceived religious bloggers he’s associated with.

I have to say that upon reading about the anti-masturbation campaign I cracked up. Also, I posted about it on Global Voices, sans-sarcasm. Some people were amused by the idea and tweeted the link of the article and a friend of mine wrote to me saying that the campaigner is likely to have a crowd supporting his campaign that you could fit in a phone booth. So, many people find – me included – that idea outrageous, But does that warrant the ridicule of the blogger? Does that make it ok to put aside all the great words and thoughts I’ve seen many Syrian bloggers write on each of their blogs to combine forces to fight this supposed “common enemy” called religiousness?

Read the rest of this entry


Newsweek Article Suggests Appointing Bush as U.S. Mideast Envoy

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United States of America President George W. B...

Image via Wikipedia

Gregory Levey suggested in the Newsweek today that President Obama should appoint George W. Bush as his Mideast envoy to gain the trust of Israelis in order achieve the American “wish list” with the Israeli Government. The “full-court press” wishes are the following:

They want Israel to stop expanding settlements; to stop building Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem; and for hawks in the government to chill out while the U.S. is negotiating with Iran.

So Mr. Levey suggests that the U.S. needs to acquire Israeli trust in order to stop the illegal settlements, illegal Judaization of Jerusalem, and to have Israeli permission to have talks with Iran. The absurdity of his suggestion is only matched by a fact he mentions to justify his outrageous suggestion:

In the history of U.S.-Israel relations, probably no president has earned adoration and unequivocal trust from Israel like Bush.

It strikes me that the U.S. President that was considered by the rest of the world as the worst (and most stupid) U.S president in history was the most popular among the Israelis. His achievements were: dragging the U.S. into two pointless wars and promoting anti-American sentiment in the world like never before, and right before his second term was over he practically destroyed the American economy to the extent they had to borrow astronomical sums of money from CHINA to keep the economy going. Of course he was rewarded by a flood of jokes on his expense by late night comedy shows and a sewage plant that was honorably named after him.

Yet of course:, Levey continues with another gem:

During the Bush years, Israelis were consistently among the few foreign populations that gave the American president high approval marks—often in far greater proportion than Americans themselves.

It appears, according to Levey, that the measure of a good American president is how much the Israelis love him, regardless of the catastrophes he brings onto the very people who elected him. After all, voters are dismissible once the elections are won. A better alternative would be that Bush becomes the  honorary Israeli president since he has unprecedented approval rates there and they’re practically fawning over him, although I’m sure the trend would be reversed if this were really to happen . This alternative suggestion, though absurd, is a much superior solution to the Middle East problems than Mr. Levey’s well-thought-well-written plan.


Life's Residue

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Petal for life

Image by Leonard John Matthews via Flickr

Sometimes I wish I don’t have such a capacity for details. My brain cells are always engaged in computing the unsaid words,unannounced actions, hidden motives. I have repeatedly knew certain people’s future actions and reactions, even way before they even knew or decided on a course of action. Sometimes, even when they vehemently denied the possibility of such things happening, ridiculing me for assuming that they even could or would do such a thing.

It’s as if my mind is always looking at the “dark side of the moon.” My unfathomable mental tendency to reading between the lines if I may say so often renders me oblivious to the lines themselves. I unconsciously put great effort into understanding the silence that I miss what is being said. That is partly due to my belief that we as individuals are prone to misrepresenting what we think, want or do. It’s not uncommon for a person to have someone that they think knows them better than they know their selves. It’s simply because a proactive external observer (such as myself) to isolate the noise, the minute details that cloud the persons own senses and judgment.

I more often than not wake up with a headache and a recollection of conversations, readings, even internet surfing that my brains cells were simulating and calculating instances of real life in my sleep. I try to rest but my brain firmly rejects my offerings.

Growing up people often viewed me as “shy” and “unsociable” because of my prolonged silences around people, be it a crowd or a single person. I thought of myself as a listener not a talker. This lead to me knowing people around me more than they knew me, but personally I thought of it as being more to my advantage.

I often find myself anxious or upset over situations that I only dreamt up. Regardless of how many times I my doubts were in place, my thoughts accurate; Regardless how many times I correctly managed to rebuild fragments of overheard conversations, I live in constant doubt. Life is not always pleasant when you take everything with a grain of salt. life is a totally different monster for a skeptic. I miss peace of mind, or do I?

My mind lives off the residue of life.