Anonymous: ISIS threatening attacks in US, elsewhere Sunday        
(NEWSER) – According to hacking group Anonymous, the Islamic State has made credible threats against events in multiple countries—including the US—set to take place Sunday, the Hill reports. Anonymous issued a statement Saturday in which it identified “confirmed” risks or possible risks at events in the US, Paris, Indonesia, Italy, and Lebanon. “The goal is […]
Summer Za'atar on the border with Lebanon
There is a little confusion around the name "Za'atar" and what exactly does it refer to: A condiment? A spice mix? An herb? And if so - which herb exactly - Hyssop? Thyme? Oregano? Marjoram?

The truth is that za'atar is an Arabic word used interchangeably for a number of wild herbs that grow wild in the Mediterranean region, and all contain thymol and carvacrol. Hence their similar sharp and warm aroma, bitter taste and spicy, almost hot "bite". They also share similar medicinal properties, most of them used in folk medicine for most digestive ailments and respiratory complaints. The mixture known to us as "Za'atar" is in fact a misnomer. Za'atar is originally the name of the plant now classified as Origanum syriacum, but in Arabic it is loosely applied to several other related wild and not so wild herbs.


The name for the condiment is in fact "doukka" (pronounced often as "Do-ak" with a very throaty "K" that almost sounds like an "A" so in reality the word sounds more like "Do-ah"). In Arabic this means "to grind". Each region in the Arab world has its own "Doukka", which is either sprinkled on food, or more commonly covered in olive oil to which the traditional regional bread is dipped. For example - Egypt has a complex nut-based doukka with toasted hazelnuts or walnuts, to which toasted or untoasted spices such as cumin, coriander seeds, green peppercorns and sweet fennel have been added.

In the Levant "doukka" happens to be made primarily of a mixture of thymol-containing herbs, with "The" Za'atar (Origanum syriacum) being the star of the show. Lesser amounts of other herbs, will be added - the most important of which are "Za'atar Farsi" (winter savory), Israeli Thyme (Corydothymus capitatus), Zuta זוטה לבנה ( Micromeria fruiticosa barbata), a delicate wild white mint known in English as White-Leaved Savory (which does not even belong to the savory genus, but to micromeria because of its tiny leaves). Common oregano (Origanum vulgare) makes a good addition, albeit cannot substitute for the real Za'atar or Syrian oregano if you actually know the real deal. Likewise, marjoram and thyme can also make a good addition but not be at the centre. Even though their profiles are similar - there are some nuances that will be lost if using only the garden variety oreganos and thymes and none of the wild stuff.

Many other things can be added to the mix, the most important being sumac berries (Rhus coriaria) for their wonderful salty-sour flavour, and toasted sesame seeds for their pop-in-the-mouth nuttiness. But you'll also find spices sometimes, including more obscure ones such as butum (بطم) - toasted terebinth fruits (Pistachia palestina), which are really like tiny pistachios with the outer red peel intact. I've got a few of those drying right now, because I've never seen them in any market before and I'm very curious how they taste as a spice.

The following are several authentic Za'atar recipes I've collected - and of course you are welcome to browse google's universe of shared recipes, but be cautious of a few things if you want to make an authentic za'atar:
1) Use actual Origanum syriacum even if a generic "oregano" is called for
2) Do not by any stretch of the imagination use "fresh" leaves. They must be dried first. And only then will you grind them up with the rest of the ingredients. This is a dried herb and spice mix. Not a fresh herb concoction.
3) Usage of salt, although found in many recipes, seems very superfluous to me, unless you are not using sumac berries. These have a unique taste - equally salty and tangy. The whole point of using them is so you do not need to use salt. Likewise, using citric acid is a way to fake the sumac effect. Which I'm not quit sure why would anyone do that aside from laziness. Sumac berries are difficult to grind manually (or even in a coffee grinder) - but you can find ground sumac easily in many spice shops and markets.

When shopping for pre-made spice mixes, or any ground spices for that matter, the main culprit is adulteration and using old raw material that are "dressed up" as authentic. It's hard to teach someone who've never tasted or smelled za'atar what to look for, but some things are a telling sign. For example: if you don't see the dark maroon red and still taste salt or tanginess, it is probably from salt and citrus acid, and not from the (missing) red sumac berries. Secondly, another visual sign - za'atar leaves are rather grey in colour when dried, so any other colour you see (olive green) is either food colouring or a combination of other types of "za'atar" herbs (i.e.: thyme, za'atar farsi, etc.). Best sign is by taste - if it taste like dust (and looks like dust) it's either too old or just a fake.

I suggest you start with the most basic three ingredients, and then play with the proportions and adding other herbs and/or spices. You can even start with equal amount of za'atar leaves, sumac and sesame and adjust to taste.

Safta Ada's Za'atar Recipe 
This is my mom's handmade recipe that she would make from wild harvested za'atar (before it was illegal to pick any) and would even send it to Vancouver so I can enjoy a taste of home.
1 cup dried za'atar leaves, coarsely crushed between your palms, or pounded with mortar and pestle to a finer powder
4 Tbs ground sumac berries (I suggest you purchase them pre-ground, otherwise their seeds can break your teeth!)
2 Tbs toasted brown sesame seeds, whole

May Bsisu wrote an excellent book, The Arab Table, which I highly recommend, and it includes a unique Palestinian style of za'atar that includes caraway:
10oz oregano (I assume she means za'atar)
5oz thyme
3 Tbs sumac, ground
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
2-1/2 Tbs coarse salt
1/2 tsp allspice, ground
1/4 tsp caraway seeds, ground 

Easy Lebanese Recipes provides a "Traditional Rich Recipe" for za'atar that I'm compelled to try, with dried za'atar, roasted sesame, sumac, marjoram, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, fennel, aniseed and salt.

Mamma's Lebanese Kitchen recipe contains thyme, marjoram, sumac, sesame, cumin, coriander, fennel, cinnamon and salt.

How to consume za'atar?
Use your za'atar mixed with olive oil as a dip for bread, on top of labneh (strained yoghurt cheese) or as a substitute for butter under any other soft or hard cheese, avocado, etc.
It's also a nice addition to salads, and for baking fish or poultry. I also like to add it to chickpeas that I fry whole in olive oil, after they've been cooked and drained.

Fresh za'atar leaves come in late winter and can be enjoyed all through spring, and can be fried in olive oil much like tender sage leaves and become this wonderful crispy topping for fresh bread, pasta, roasted vegetables, etc. Also, they can be used as they are in salads (May Bsisu has a recipe for fresh oregano salad in that book as well), with lots of onion and tomatoe. The Druze use it to season the dough or the fillings for various savoury pastries, such as sambusak (a flatbread that is folded in half to conceal a thin layer of highly seasoned stuffing, and baked in the tabun) and fatayer (little dough pockets filled with cheese), and the dried whole leaves can be used much like oregano in meat and pasta sauces, in soups, stews, breads, etc.

Now, let's explore the Za'atar "group" of plants:

Hyssop (Wild Oregano)

Ezov (the Hebrew word for the Biblical Hyssop - not the European Hyssopus officials which is also a medicinal plant, and produces a rather toxic essential oil), which is now classified as an oregano, Origanum syriacum (formerly Majorana syriaca). Like many of the other aromatic plants from the Lamiaceae family, za'atar has a winter and spring foliage and a summer foliage, which is smaller in order to preserve water and survive the long arid season. I suspect the essential oils also aid with the survival of these plants in such harsh conditions - because whenever they are grown in regions where the water is more abundant (British Columbia, for example) - their flavour is largely lacking. What you see above is the luscious winter "look", which features soft and larger leaves, and their colour is much greener, and therefore more similar to the common oregano (Origanum vulgare).


Za'atar Farsi (meaning Persian Za'atar), or as it is called in Hebrew צתרה ורודה - Tzatra Vruda (Pink Tzatra) which really is winter or mountain savory (Satureja montana). Its long needle-like leaves have a sharp, spicy taste. When we were growing up my mom would spice the egg for French Toast with them and make them literally savoury.

Thymbra spicata צתרנית משובלת
Mediterranean Thyme (Thymbra spicata), in Hebrew צתרנית משובלת Tzatranit Meshubelet is also called in Arabic "Za'atar farsi", and has a very similar leaf shape (only a bit longer, narrower and softer) and almost identical odour and aroma profile. It has flowers that look a bit more like chaffs of wheat (not unlike those of Lavandula dentata, and is even more rare to find than Satureja montana.

Coridothymus capitatus
Israeli Thyme (Corydothymus capitatis / Thymus capitatus / Thymbra capitata) or in Hebrew Koranit Mekurkefet קורנית מקורקפת is also known by many other names - Israeli oreganum (oil), Cretan thyme, Corido thyme, Headed savory, Thyme of the Ancient, Conehead thyme and most commonly - Spanish Oregano (even though it is not classified as "origanum"). This oil is what is often sold as "oregano oil", by the way. This is now a rare plant that in our area grows only along the rocky seashores of the North Coast leading to Lebanon. The leaves are tiny and sharp, like a miniature version of the Pink Tzatra, but they grow more dense and close together to form clusters around the tip of the branches. The branches are woody-looking almost like bonsai trees that crawl all over the rocks - and the flowers tiny and purplish-pink. The aroma is clean and maybe a little more simple than that of za'atar, but also the taste is much more sharp and phenolic.

          Druze Tea        

Herbal arrangement for tea brewing
For those unfamiliar with the Druze culture, it is unique to the Levant (Lebanon, Syria and Israel). This minority group originated about a thousand years ago in the Ismaillia sect of early Islam, and was largely prosecuted after splitting off from it. Therefore, mate

they usually dwell on mountains and have long tradition of bravery since they've always needed to fend for themselves in a rather hostile environment. In Israel, the Druze communities are all located in the north - from Mount Carmel in the largest Druze town Daliat el Carmel and all the way up north to the Western Galilee, the Golan Heights especially around Mount Hermon.

Near my village alone there are four Druze villages - Jath, Yanuh, Yirka and Julis. We've held strong friendly relationships with our Druze neighbours. Growing up, two elders from the village Yanuh will travel on foot or by donkey and come help us build our village - they taught our parents how to built terraces from the many rocks around here so that we can grow crops along the hillsides, how to cultivate wild olives and do the grafting so the trees grow strong and bear good fruit, and we went every summer to the miller and grind our wheat (when we still grew our own), and every autumn to line up with all the other olive growers and press our olives into fine olive oil and buy handmade olive soap that was made on the spot from the pommace left from the pressing process. As the nearby village Yirka developed into a small town bustling with businesses - we go there also to do most of our shopping and other business (that's where I usually go to the ship my online orders, by the way), and continue to build business and work relations with our neighbours. My house (both the old and the new part) was built almost entirely by a Birka-Born team of construction experts who became my closest new friends since moving here, and their wives come to practice Pilates with me.

Growing up here, I remember my mom being especially enthusiastic about learning from the Druze women about the bounty of edible and medicinal wild plants around here. From them she also learned to drink olive oil in the morning on empty stomach, and how to make a special scorpion antidote (from the scorpion that stung you, fried in olive oil). I never tried either, and probably never will. But I do love to learn from them about the nearly magical properties of the plants that grow everywhere around here. It's as if there is an entire pharmacy out in the open, here in the wild. 

Besides, there is much to be learned from the Druze traditional way of living, which is very family centred and values hospitality and taking the time to sit and enjoy a cup of anything - tea, coffee, and more and more coffee. The latter is served everywhere you go - from the hardware store to the mobile phone shop. And of course you can't enter a home without being invited for at least a cup of coffee, and if it's dinnertime - to break bread with the whole family.

Ka'kat Isfar
As is widespread in all of Israel - among both the Arab and Jewish population - the Druze adore za'atar, sage and the many wild harvested and then dried herbs from around here. They are  popular as digestifs or medicinal brews for various ailments or as preventative measures: wild sage, white mint, savory, wild oregano, and more are either infused on their own or added, dried or fresh, to black tea.  The love for za'atar is so profound that it is even added to some sweet pastries, such as this traditional ka'akat isfar ("yellow cake") - a mildly sweet yeasted flatbread that is coloured with turmeric and additionally spiced with sesame and nigella seeds, hints of za'atar (this umbrella name could be wild oregano, savoury or thyme - more on that in another post), and hints of mysterious spices that I'm yet to identify (I detected nutmeg and perhaps even some cardamom or allspice but I can't be sure of the latter two). It has become a favourite of mine, but is never found in a pastry shop. Some families would sell their traditional homemade ka'kat isfar when they make it, and the recipes vary. The first one I tried was only spiced with turmeric. This particular version that I'm very fond of was made by a random person I met on one of my traveling tea parties, and I doubt I will be able to taste ever again. The only recipe I found that seems close is written in Arabic and I'm far from being proficient enough to follow a recipe in that language.

Many of my Vancouver perfume studio guests have been indirectly introduced to Druze culture through the special tea I would brew each winter (we fondly called it "witch brew") of dried hulnejan (a particular type of dried galangal root) and ginger roots, which is simmered forever in a large pot, simultaneously cleansing the air, warming the chest and keeping colds at bay. It is often served with pecan nuts sprinkled on top, and a lot of sugar, which is how most Druze like their teas. I personally prefer it unsweetened, and like to add cinnamon bark which has its own natural sweetness. Sometimes I would add honey but not often.

But Hulnejan is not the only interesting thing about the Druze tea culture. As it turns out, in the 19th Century, many Druze - especially from Syria - left for Argentina, and they brought back with them mate, and a special fondness for this unique South American concoction. They drink it socially, sharing the same bombilla (the silver straw), traditionally sucked from the tea which is brewed in a dried decorative gourd.

Mate, Druze-style

In this photo, I am holding a dainty cup of mate that was offered to me on the streets of Majdal Shams, a remote Druze village come ski tourist town on Mount Hermon (Jabal Sheikh), formerly part of Syria. 

On Saturday morning, we were having a hard time finding a place to eat breakfast. The breakfast place recommended to us the night before was still closed at 8:30am - it turns out it was them who had the wedding the night before with the parade that blocked the streets) - and so we were directed by a local lady to a corner shop that sells coffee, cigarettes, local cherries and freshly whipped before your eyes malyukh (Druze flat bread that is baked on top of a saj - an iron dome much like an upside down wok) on top of open fire. The bread is baked only on one side, than folded and smeared with generous amounts of labneh (soft cheese made from strained yoghurt), za'atar mixture, and homemade hot sauce that I swear was spiked with cinnamon.  We were also offered black tea "on the house" which turned to be fragrant with "Ootra" - Arabic for the popular Pelargonium graveness. The lady was impressed with my Arabic (very basic, but still better than nothing) and even more so that I recognized what she put in the tea and know the Arabic name for it.

I chatted her up as I was munching on the malyukh and sipping the tea, and learned that while Majdal Shams is not as big as Yirka - it is a lot more "modern" to her words. There is a high percentage of post-secondary education, most of which was acquired in Syria, where up until the civil war was offered for free to all Syrian citizens. As a background - you should know that up until 1967, the Golan Heights and Mt. Hermon, including the four Druze villages  there - Majdal Shams, Mas'ade, Ein Kiniya and Buq'ata - were under Syrian rule, and their culture is quite different than what you'll find in the Galilee. One thinks of the border between Israel and Syria (sworn enemies since the establishment of the state of Israeli in 1948) as hermetically sealed, but in fact there was a dynamic flow of the Druze population between the countries - especially for weddings and for family reunions, but also for studying abroad. This lady's brother lived in Syria for many years - he went there to study medicine, got married and lived there until the war started, and then requested to return, and came back to Israel via Jordan with his wife and their children.

We finished our delicious breakfast, thanked the lady and crossed the street to where our car was parked, right in front of a bakery (the only other place that was already open by 9am). In front of it, two ladies sat on a bench and a couple of upside-down plastic grocery boxes, boiling water on a portable gas stove and sipping non other than mate from a dainty little jug. I was so astonished I could not hold my gasp of delight. In return, they offered me to sit down and join them, rinsing the bombilla with boiled water from the kettle and pouring fresh water over and over the mate to bring out the flavour time and again. I was so thrilled that even though we're only two hours drive from home, and are already experiencing new culture that is so different yet invites us to share a cup of tea together.
I had a couple of jugs of mate with them and thanked the big spirit that's in this world that encouraged me to finally set up on my tea journey. 

          Medicines for the Soul        
Christmas in Nazareth

On Christmas Eve my brother invited us to go with him on an urban evening stroll in Nazareth, to experience the holiday at the historic birthplace of Christianity. My brother is a tour-guide, so it's always an experience to go for walks with him. He always knows about more than what meets the eye, and has connections with people where we visit that makes every trip with him, even to familiar places, a different experience.

Our experience started on a rather stressful note, being stuck in traffic in a very narrow, one-way downhill street that would make San Francisco's terrain look rather friendly. There was no traffic control despite very heavy flow of visitors to watch the festivities. We were stuck in what should have been a two minute drive for 45 minutes. When we finally found a 3/4 parking spot between a dumpster and another truck and got out, it was drizzling and cold, as it should be in midwinter in the Galilee.

The large square in front of the Church of the Annunciation was festive with an enormous tree-like construction with many lights and a big glowing red star on top and next to it the customary nativity scene. Many people around were wearing Santa Claus hats, blowing little annoying-sounding horns; but thankfully above it all was a recording of Fairuz singing Christmas songs. Christmas in the Middle East is certainly very different than anywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere.

I don't recall ever visiting in Nazareth, even though our family has special ties with the city. My mom's midwife, a Christian-Arab from the neighbouring village of Kfar Yasif is originally from Nazareth. Both our families have five children each (aside from me, my mom has four boys, and her midwife has five daughters). We are all in more or less the same ages. If it weren't for the strange political climate of this country, they'd all be married to each other by now...

Safdi's in Nazareth
Aside from the religious spots (Nazareth's spring, bath house and historic city centre, Mary's Well and its Church, AKA Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, and the Roman Catholic Basiclia of the Anunnciation (كنيسة البشار  in Arabic בזיליקת הבשורה / כנסיית הבשורה) - we also went into the old souk (market) of Nazareth, which is sadly mostly dormant due to modernization. Very few people have the desire or time to find parking in narrow alleyways that were built thousand years ago and wander between merchants to compare prices and negotiate bargains. It's much easier to go to the mall and pay with plastic cards all in one place, and cart your goods to the car underground. It was very sad to see so many stores closed, behind them are beautiful old shops with arched ceilings. Some of the old apartment buildings - although mostly neglected - were used to be effendi's homes, and their ceilings are made of Cedar of Lebanon, and hand-painted by a Lebanese artist from the time of the Ottoman empire. It's a lost world, and only recently some brave entrepreneurs have taken the initiative to renovate such places and open boutique hotels, hostels and cultural centres in the ancient cities of the country. There was also a little shop in the entrance to the empty souk, full of beautiful local craftsmanship. I hope to see more such things develop.

Meicines for the Soul
Once we reached the part of the souk that was still alive, I bought a cupful of coal-roasted chestnuts, reminiscing the cold foggy nights in Vancouver when we'd buy them from Yve's Chestnuts and warm our frozen mittens with their starchy, caramel-scented comfort. At the bottom of the hill there were some of the country's best Halawiyat (Arabic patisseries), where one should stop by for kunafeh - even if they don't have time or room in their stomach. But we were in a group with a different agenda than enjoying life on the stop - and instead continued on to Ziad Safdi's grocery store, which is really more of a magical old-fashioned herb and spice shop, that contains many folk remedies for all kinds of physical ailments, a collection of essential oils from local plants that is distilled in Nablus; speculates such as mastic gum, and mastic-flavoured chewing gum; and last but not least - assortment of medicines for the soul in the form of incense (pictured above) to be burned in special clay pots. You could find there anything from frankincense and myrrh to colourful and sparkling blends typically burned in churches.

Fine Nazarethi Baclava
As we continued on, we stumbled upon other interesting merchants, such as this man who brews coffee in a special pot decorated with olive branches and misbaha (prayer beads) that has hot charcoal in a pipe in the middle, and sends impressive steam to the air. We continued to El Babour Mill - Nazareth original steam-powered miller (the name is a mispronunciation of the English word "vapour") -  now more of a live museum for old mills, sieves and pieces of history from the family that keeps this tradition - and a spice and candy shop. I bought there a jar of black-coloured nigella spread, and green frikeh (charred green wheat berries). The tour ended there and once everyone spread to all four direction of the winds, my brother, daughter and I stopped at a more humble bakey and bought some spinach-filled sambusac, date-filled sesame balls, and karakish - savoury cookies that look like hard flatbreads studded with fragrant seeds of sesame and fennel.
Charcoal Coffee

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          Comment on Guestbook by Petros Tenezakis        
My journey to Shatila Refugee Camp began many years ago. At the time I was working in Balatah Refugee Camp of Nablus in the Israeli-Occupied northern West Bank. A refugee camp that suffered greatly due to the massive reooccupation of the West Bank. As the Jenin massacre occured during Operation Defensive Shield, Israeli forces cracked down on Nablus city and its adjacent refugee camps, Askar, Balatah and al-Ain. Parts of the attrocities, that can only be described as a massacre went unseen due to massive focus on Jenin and other areas of the West Bank. And as the tanks, helicopters, APC:s and F-16 attacked the city, only a few of us were preset to document the onslaught. As I arrived in the emd of the onslaught, Balatah Refugee Camp was target for daily attacks. There amid the smell of blood, the dust and the debris I was constantly thinking about what happened in Shatila and Sabra. I promissed myself to visit the camps in Lebanon as well. In 2005 I was arrested by Israeli authorities and denied access to Palestine for the upcoming 1o years, due to my involvement in peacefull activities against the occupation and solidarity with the Palesinian people. By then I had witnessed more violations, killings and injuries than most people in our priviliged western world has witnessed during a lifetime, including myself injured in the chest during an invasion of the old city of Nablus. As I was held in a tiny cell, humiliated and threatened daily I still felt privileged. I could at leave. Since my denial of entry came into effect I planned to visit as many palestinians as possible with a hope to visit Shatila and its residents. That dream finally came true last year. As a photographer I travelled directly to SHatila Refugee Camp. I was welcomed by Mr Abu Moujahed, and his wonderful staff at the CYC, Palestinian Centre for Children and Youth that runs a centre for the youth in Shatila and Nahr-el-Bared Camps. My home for bacame their guest house. A great oppurtunity for internationals to experience the camp and interat with its citizens. I quickly forgot the camera, most times I just interacted with the camp residents. I set up meetings with the Baker, Pharmacist, nurses, political representatives, survivors of the massacre, and enjoyed the time spent with the youth. Sadly I had to leave, 3 weeks passed quickly. I am sure that I will return. Palestine and all Palestinians, world citizens and friend will allways prompt me to work and fight for freedoom. A freedoom that has been denied for decades. I warmly recommend evryone to visit Shatila and stay the night at the CYC guesthouse. And undoubtebly upon departure I am sure your tears will fall, just as mine did. Dear Mahmoud Abbas Abu Moujahed, Manar, Sabah, Marwa and all the staff at CYC, all the children and youth, internationals and camp citizens. I am with you at all times, and our reunification is not a matter of If, its a matter of When. With love and hugs from Sweden.Your friend, Petros Tenezakis
          La face cachee du Liban — Beirut, Lebanon        
Et si on partait... en Afrique
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          St Raphael Hawaweeny & Spanish language Orthodoxy in the Americas        

St Raphael Hawaweeny was a native of Lebanon, who in 1904 became the first Orthodox bishop ordained in the new world. As Bishop of Brooklyn he had oversight over the Syro-Lebanese communities that were beginning to appear in the Americas in the early twentieth century and he worked tirelessly for their growth and consolidation. It…

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          Waiting for Obama: The Arab World and Intervention         

This article originally appeared in Syria Deeply, and can be found here

On Aug. 2, 1990, a Saddam Hussein-led Iraq launched a bombing campaign and invasion of Kuwait. Part of the decision was the thought that the U.S., facing its own economic issues at home and a perceived passivity towards disputes in the Arab world, would not react with force. 

Almost five months later, Operation Desert Storm, led by a broad international coalition under the direction of then President George Bush (who had secured a resolution from the U.N. Security Council), began with aerial attacks and ended with the capitulation of Saddam’s forces after just five weeks.
Two things became clear: that the U.S. would take decisive action to enforce peace and security in the region when a “red line” was crossed; and secondly, that it would be methodical in building a strong coalition.
The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been waiting for a similar moment from President Barack Obama on the Syrian conflict.  After months of endless prodding, with only a series of half-steps coming from the U.S., the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus (allegedly carried out by the Assad regime) finally seemed to have pushed Obama to take robust action on Syria.
But initial urgency by the U.S. to act has since subsided, or so it appears. With the passing of each day, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are left increasingly in the lurch, waiting for Obama, wondering if the U.S. has reversed its approach to the region that was heralded by the Gulf War over two decades ago.
In 1991, when military action was mobilized against Iraq, it was done so under the auspices of a U.N. resolution. And while the Arab world was divided on the intervention, the six GCC countries, along with Egypt and Syria, were part of the armed coalition that was formed. Twenty years later, the situation is markedly different as the Arab world contemplates involvement in military strikes against Syria.
Outside of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, enthusiasm to participate in a military coalition is weak at best. While Jordan will have to be involved due to its reliance on both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. for economic support, Syria’s other Arab neighbors, Lebanon and Iraq, have voiced staunch opposition to external intervention.
In an unambiguous statement, Egypt, under its new military leadership, also voiced its objections to “aggression in Syria.” Even the United Arab Emirates may not get involved without broad international legitimacy; unlike in Libya in 2011, this would constitute a military strike by Arab countries allied with the U.S. without any other legal or symbolic cover.
Obama’s initial enthusiasm for military action, juxtaposed with his subsequent hesitation, has furthered the Arab world’s reluctance to participate. Staunch Western allies like the United Kingdom have indicated a lack of desire to be involved, and it is still in doubt whether action would be approved by NATO or the U.N. In the current atmosphere, a broad coalition involving multiple regional actors is unlikely, especially from a military standpoint. Most of the “diplomacy” to build a coalition has so far been limited to public speeches by high-level U.S. officials, rather than effective diplomatic engagement in the region. It indicates to the Arab world that the U.S. is not serious about a response, and is itself perhaps buying time.
In Sunday’s Arab League meeting in Cairo, rhetoric was high. But it was clear that beyond Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the appetite for intervention had dissipated. Following two years of bluster, including countless meetings of the Friends of Syria, the moment for a decision finally came, and the U.S. blinked. The hawkish stance of the Arab League and even the GCC must, to Assad, have looked hollow. In the end, the statement by the Arab League called for “deterrent measures” by the U.N., without calling for military or unilateral action.
While we may yet see strikes on Syria or the symbolic contribution of military hardware (like fighter jets) by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the process has already overshadowed whatever the result may be. In many ways, whatever happens now in response will be far too little and far too late. All the while, the conflict in Syria will continue without any end in sight.

          10 Questions on the Conflict in Syria        
A potential military strike by Western powers on Syria now appears to be a fait accompli and is being touted as long overdue. Given the spiralling humanitarian disaster that has overtaken the country during the last two years of conflict, continued inaction appears to be an untenable reality. The death toll is now well over 100,000 (although the proportion of civilians to combatants is unclear). There are 2 million refugees, half of whom are children, and over 4 million more internally displaced persons (IDPs), amounting to a quarter of the country's overall population. Yet, it was the apparent chemical weapons attack in the suburbs around Damascus known as Ghouta last week that has served as the impetus for international military intervention into the conflict. Amidst the rhetoric and war rehearsals, clarity on what is really happening seems to be cast aside in the media, in favor of faux-spontaneous leaks, retired generals, and trumpeters of past wars. Here are ten questions to try to set the record straight.

1. Were chemical weapons used in Syria?

When the initial attack unfolded last Wednesday, August 21 in the suburbs in Damascus known as Ghouta (near the town/suburb of Jobar), news quickly spread to local, regional and international media. Claims were made of hundreds of deaths, with some activists claiming the death toll was 1,300. Moreover, the Government of Syria immediately denied responsibility and has continued to do so. However, the attack did unfold amidst a series of army strikes on Jobar, which is a rebel-held area, and has been for quite some time. The Government conversely claimed to find chemical weapons supplies in tunnels in the same area, and it is alleged that some Hezbollah fighters were also exposed to chemical toxins.

A week on, it appears incontrovertible that chemical weapons were used, not just from YouTube videos but also from visits by independent journalists, and of course by a report by Médecins Sans Frontières that has documented at least 355 deaths from local hospitals. It is likely that the chemical agent used was a neurotoxin or nerve gas, most likely sarin gas. What is still not clear, is how they were delivered (i.e. in what form and carried on what type of weapon) and from where.

It should also be kept in mind that this was not the first attack that has been alleged. There have been numerous claims by rebels, and counter-claims by the government on the use of chemical weapons in the conflict. Here's a map of those events. In fact, this is precisely why the team of UN inspectors had arrived in the country, the day before this latest incident (and massacre) took place. In fact, what is interesting is that their investigation of other sites has now been put on the back-burner due to the latest developments.

2. Do we know who actually used the chemical weapons? 

The United States, United Kingdom, and France have all stated they are certain that the Government of Syria has undertaken the attack last week. On the U.S. side, at the forefront of the rhetoric has been Vice President Biden - who has said there is 'no doubt' - and Secretary of State John Kerry, who made an evocative plea for action several days ago. Of course, the next speech is the most important, and it would be one made by President Barack Obama. In light of this certainty, it would be difficult to question the attribution of blame. A leak from the US government also claims to have intercepted a murky call between commanders in the Syrian army that supposedly is evidence of culpability on the Syrian side.

There is tremendous reason to doubt U.S. claims. Firstly, it should not be forgotten that then Secretary of State Colin Powell presented ironclad evidence to the United Nations Security Council of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that Saddam Hussein possessed, a finding that was later proven to be utterly false, but which was the basis of a war that continues until today. Secondly, the U.S. claimed that there was incontrovertible proof that the Government of Syria was responsible for earlier chemical attacks this year, but that finding has been contested, and some experts apportioned blame to the rebels fighting the government. And finally, in this case, no evidence has been presented, as of yet to make such a determination, at least not conclusively.

Does that mean the Assad and his regime are not responsible? No. It is very likely given the ongoing military operations in the same area that the Syrian government launched such an attack. Yet, more evidence needs to be presented to make a definitive conclusion. The other scenarios that could be possible are:

- Extremists groups like Jubhat al-Nusra, who have previously seized advanced weaponry and possibly chemical weapons from Syrian army bases and positions, were attempting to use them on Syrian soldiers (or conversely to cast blame on the Syrian army);

- The Government of Syria inadvertently hit a stockpile of sarin gas releasing the toxins (although unclear if this would lead to the effects that we've seen); or

- Rogue elements within the chain of command used chemical weapons intentionally or inadvertently.

Russia, Iran and China have of course cast doubt on western claims but that is to be expected.

3. What would be the basis or justification for US intervention?

The U.S. intervention would likely be on the basis of Obama's previously stated red line on Syria, which would be the mass use/movement of chemical weapons. It is not in fact about humanitarian intervention and the Responsibility to Protect framework, developed in the 1990s to prevent genocide and mass civilian deaths. If it was, then the humanitarian case for intervention has been present for some time, and other massacres by the Syrian regime, such as in Houla in 2012, would have provided sufficient pretext. Obviously, the U.S. and other Western powers, and regional countries, have their own interests at play that are much more geopolitical in nature, but the justification or casus belli being offered is around the issue of chemical weapons, and chemical weapons alone.

4. Will anybody else be involved in the military strikes besides the US and will this affect whether they are 'legal'?

Given Russian and Chinese opposition, and a likely veto of any resolution by the United Nations Security Council supporting such a military strike on Syria - especially in light of the intervention in Libya, which Russia regretted supporting - a 'coalition of the willing' will need to be developed. This coalition would be broader than the Iraq War in 2003, and would be similar to the coalition carrying out the strikes against Serb positions vis-a-vis Kosovo in 1999. While the U.S., U.K. and France will likely lead an effort, Turkey would also be critical as a staging ground (as it borders Syria from the North), and thus there will be an attempt to launch such an attack under the auspices of NATO. Despite its reluctance, Jordan, given its reliance on the U.S. and Saudi Arabia politically and economically, will have no choice but to support . The two other neighbours of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are squarely against any military strike. And of course, the other neighbor - Israel - would sit this one out but would provide intelligence to the U.S. and other parties on Syrian positions, given that it has already undertaken a number of air strikes on Syria in the past two years.

Further afield, it is likely the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) will support military intervention, with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates possibly sending fighter jets to participate in a strike to give it regional cover and credibility. Finally, while many groups within the Arab and Muslim world, and the 'left' of the West, will oppose military intervention, many others will support it, because of the spiralling humanitarian situation in Syria.

Technically speaking if the military intervention is not sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, and there is no imminent threat that the U.S. and other parties can point to towards its own territory or its assets, it would be illegal under international law. However, that has not stopped NATO or other countries (i.e. Russia in Georgia) form undertaking military action in the past. And before the Iraq War, some scholars claimed that while such an attack would be illegal it would be legitimate, and demonstrated retroactively to be legal. Given the state of world affairs, 'legality' is likely not a determining factor for a strike on Syria.

5. Are we seeing a repeat of Iraq in 2003? 

No. The situation today with Syria is different than it was in 2003 in Iraq, for many reasons, despite some passing similarities. In Iraq, the U.S. claimed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction while in Syria, we already know Bashar al-Assad possesses chemical weapons, and the question is whether he used them (small aside, it was released this week that thirty years ago, the U.S. obstructed a UN investigation when it knew Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons). In Iraq, the U.S. alleged that Saddam Hussein had links with Al Qaeda (and related groups), while in Syria, Bashar al Assad is widely acknowledged to be fighting Al Qaeda (and related groups) in addition to the 'Free Syrian Army' (and in addition to crushing peaceful demonstrators). In Iraq, there was no active state of conflict that was leading to a spiralling humanitarian catastrophe (and the potential use of WMDs), while in Syria there is not just a violent conflict, but also WMDs have been used by somebody (even if the culprit is not yet clear).

What should be noted, however, is that both Iraq in 2003 and Syria in 2013, are in complex environments, and any removal of government or sustained military intervention would have dramatic unforeseen consequences. It seems like the media debate in the U.S. is also similarly anaemic (but slightly better) this time around.

6. What is the real motivation for the United States and other powers?

As with all things in this world when it comes to international relations, the primary interest is not humanitarian but geopolitical. This is not absolute, however, and it could be argued that Turkey has been insisting on humanitarian intervention from an early stage. However, the regimes (not peoples) in the Gulf, most notably Saudi Arabia, are exclusively concerned with dislodging Syria from the Iranian orbit, and severing connections between Syria and Hezbollah. Humanitarian concerns are a by-product. And for the United States, something similar is at play. As noted above, if this was about humanitarian concerns, action would have been taken long before 100,000 deaths had occurred.

For the U.S. it has been looking for regime change in Syria for a while. However, these strikes if they occur, will be about sending a message and asserting America's position in the Middle East, given the red line that Obama drew. Ultimately, it may tip the scales in the rebels favour or improve the U.S.'s negotiating position vis-a-vis Iran. The chemical weapons attack in a morbid way, opened a door of opportunity for Western powers (with GCC support) to do something limited without a full-scale intervention.

7. Will military intervention solve the Syrian conflict?

No. Military intervention no matter how small or how big will not solve the Syrian conflict. In fact, it could very much exacerbate the situation on the ground even further (if that can be imagined). What is being reported currently is that the U.S. and allies will undertake a series of 'surgical strikes', a euphemism for a large-scale assault on key military and strategic installations, such as army positions, air bases, radar installations, communications infrastructure, supply routes, and, where appropriate, power stations (among other targets). More than anything this will be intended to send a message to the regime and weaken its capabilities. Yet, it would not be a fatal blow. And it would not necessarily tip the scales in favor of the rebels. It may in fact mobilize certain parties to support the regime, if there are civilian casualties from the intervention.

The solution to the Syrian situation has to be political, if it is going to lead to stability or peace. Yet, if the military intervention escalated and led to the removal of the Syrian regime, that would still not be the end of the conflict. After the Soviets were booted out of Afghanistan, the country devolved into a civil war for five years until the rise of the Taliban in 1996. Somalia has only recently stabilised (somewhat), more than 20 years after the assassination of its leader, President Siad Barre. And neighboring Lebanon, took 15 years of conflict (1975-1990) to reach an end, which was brought about by ironically Syrian military intervention (which committed its own crimes), that produced a - audible gasp - political settlement.

8. What could potentially go wrong?

Everything. The potential for disaster following military intervention in any country is great (see Black Hawk Down, Iraq, Afghanistan and the list goes on). Yet, in Syria it could be apocalyptic. Here is a list of what that could entail:

- Chemical weapons are used by Syria against its neighbors such as Jordan and Turkey, or U.S. military positions in those countries;
- U.S. planes/helicopters are shot down leading to an escalation of U.S. involvement requiring boots on the ground;
- Syria sends a volley of missiles into Tel Aviv and other places in Israel, leading to a regional war;
- Proxy forces of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, launch a sustained campaign against Israel/U.S. interests, including attacks embassies within Lebanon/Palestine/Israel but also in other countries, in the short and medium-term;
- Al Qaeda forces in the region, while opposing the Assad regime, oppose U.S. intervention especially if there are masses of civilian casualties, and use it as a pretext for attacks in places such as Yemen;
- Russia objects to the U.S. strike, and mobilizes warships to the Mediterranean, leading to a standoff with Europe and the U.S.;
- Negotiations with Iran, still in embryonic stages are suspended irrevocably;
- Six party talks with North Korea are suspended by Russia, China, and North Korea irrevocably;
- The Syrian regime goes all out in its conflict and begins to bomb with even more abandon civilian areas controlled by rebels, leading to thousands of casualties, and counter-massacres by enraged rebel fighters;
- The Syrian regime is removed by force from power by the intervention, leading to a power vacuum sinking the country further into civil war for over a decade of even more violent strife and a possible Al Qaeda style government;
- Tensions rise in the Middle East, especially in places of sectarian division (i.e. Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia, and Iraq) leading to civil strife and attacks on governments, and counter-attacks on populations; and
- World War 3.

9. What could potentially go right?

It may seem that what is written above is slightly alarmist and that's true. Many things can go wrong (most of which, to be honest, are hard to predict as they will be unforeseen consequences or as Donald Rumsfeld, ironically calls them, unknown unknowns). However, the U.S.-led strikes could be quite effective. Firstly, if they are limited in scope, they can be completed in one day, reducing the risk for a military entanglement and civilian casualties. Secondly, if they are from the air, there is limited risk for casualties on the side of the intervening forces. Thirdly, an attack that is forceful and hits Syrian military positions, will send a message to Assad that there is a limit to what he can do, which thus far has not been the case, and may entice him to reach a political settlement. Fourthly, it is unlikely that the Syrian regime would retaliate, for a short strike on positions, against Israel, knowing that they cannot afford to fight a war on so many fronts (and thus far they have yet to retaliate to any Israel air strike). Finally, the systematic destruction of Assad's air capabilities could be instrumental in limiting civilian casualties by the regime in the future.

All of this is one possibility of what could occur.

10. Let's cut to the chase - should I support or not support military intervention?

There is no clearcut answer. Ultimately, military intervention should not be supported as a solution to the Syrian conflict. It is not, and whether we like it or not, a political solution/settlement is the only way the current situation moves towards peace and stability. The U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban. The Vietnamese negotiated with the U.S. The Lebanese negotiated with each other. The Dayton Accords to end the Bosnian War were signed with Slobodan Milosevic. It may not be easy, it may be unlikely, and it will not work perfectly, but political discussions involving all parties is the only way to find a real solution.

That being said, if a case is made with overwhelming evidence by independent parties (not U.S. conjecture) that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regime, then military intervention on a limited scale, and for a period of 1-2 days only, should be undertaken, ideally with UN support - and if not with broad support of half of the members, i.e. 90, of the UN General Assembly to demonstrate legitimacy - against military targets only, which will both send a message about the use of these weapons and damage the capabilities of Assad.

What is clear is that whatever happens, there are no clear answers with regards to the conflict in Syria.

          Ramadan Dreams        
This week marks the start of Ramadan. I would say today, but as is the case for many things, Muslims cannot even agree on what day marks the beginning of the holy month. Is it Tuesday? Wednesday? Thursday? Sometimes, even in the same country, clerics from different sects or schools of 'jurisprudence' disagree on the sighting of the crescent moon (which signifies that Ramadan has arrived). In Lebanon, Shiites started the fast on Tuesday, and Sunnis on Wednesday, at least the last time I checked. If only the Shiite-Sunni conflict was relegated to a debate over the start of Ramadan. Alas, while diversity is something to be treasured, that is not always true in what is the proverbial Muslim world. The Qur'an tells us about what we can gain from diversity:
O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. 
Somehow throughout history, perhaps the year after Prophet Muhammad died (circa 633 AD, or 1), Muslims lost sight of this. Today, you're more likely to hear about diversity as a threat rather than an asset. In fact, it seems to go hand-in-hand with regards to whether a Muslim country can be peaceful or democratic or successful: Well, I would say Country X would have a smooth transition, but they have a very diverse population with different ethnicities and groups. It's almost like Muslims can't survive with their own layered identities in the modern-age, longing instead for some Orwellian dictator to give them all a uniform to gloss over any differences that they may have. Of course, enough of those beautiful strongmen have come along for us to know that is not a great path either (um, certain exceptions aside of course).

And so in 2013, we enter into Ramadan, all 1.5 billion Muslims, or 1.2 billion, or 1.8 billion of us, depending on who's counting (or better yet who's making up statistics off the top of their head and then getting cited by the media, thereby cementing that figure as real), with a 'Muslim world' in complete conflagration - i.e. business as usual. Now all these millions of Muslims, some nominal, some not so nominal, live in different places with different challenges faced. Some in the West. Some in the East. Some in Muslim majority countries. Some as minorities in secular or other countries. And so it goes. Yet, look around, and we see challenges. There's the conflict in Syria, with a death count now over 100,000 and a displaced population representing a quarter of the country. There's the spiralling situation in Egypt, with an uncertain future ahead. And you can never count Pakistan out, with essentially a bombing a day.

You start to go through Muslim countries, and there's a lot that leaves a lot to be desired. It's almost too long of a list. It kind of makes you want to sing an Islamicized version of Les Misérables "I Dreamed a Dream", I guess with a Fatima instead of Fantine. Given the state of Islam, you might actually get in trouble for singing in public. I know that the 29 or so days of Ramadan will not bring peace, emancipation, and progress to the lands where so many Muslims live. Likely the strife, struggle, and scarcity that defines so many people's lives will not change. In fact in places like Syria, violence could actually intensify this month (some militant groups have actually announced an 'Operation Ramadan').

Thus, the realities of Ramadan may overwhelm us. Yet, if Ramadan is anything, it is a time for reflection and thinking of what can be, rather than what is. And in that spirit, I thought it would be good to end with a vision, a so-called Ramadan Dreams, of the realm of a possible future, of the Muslim world (i.e. Umma), where:
  • There are far more Sushis than Sunnis & Shiites; 
  • Being an 'Islamist' means being an expert in Islam rather than a judge/jury/executioner; 
  • The takbeer is used in excitement of a goal scored on the soccer field rather than a direct hit on the battlefield; 
  • Having a beard is a fashion statement not a religious statement; 
  • When we hear about a scandal about a royal Prince, it's because he had a nipple slip and not a multi-billion dollar arms deal go to his bank account; 
  • There are more ninjas than women in face-covering black robes; 
  • There will be actual Jews around to respond to somebody who says "don't be such a Jew"; 
  • When someone says "that's the bomb" he's not actually pointing at a bomb; 
  • You can debate the existence of God with two sides of the debate present; and
  • People can be proud to be Muslim...and not Muslim. 
Now before anybody gets their kefiyyeh in a twist, there are many Muslims who live in countries where things are not so bad, and countless others in Muslim countries, who believe in a pluralistic and open society. Yet, there is a long ways to go before we escape so many of the ills that have come to define Muslim lands and societies. Ramadan 2013 will not bring the change many of us would like to see, but here's hoping that, that change will come sooner rather than later, and help shape a Muslim world that embraces its pluralism, recognises its intellectual tradition, and empowers its people. Ramadan Kareem

          Another Coup for the Outgoing Emir of Qatar        
In July 2010, the (now outgoing) Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, traveled to South Lebanon to bask in the gratitude for his country's largesse in supporting reconstruction following the Israeli bombardment just four years earlier. The $300 million (and beyond) committed by the Gulf state was very much appreciated by the Shiite armed movement Hezbollah, who ensured billboards in the South and on Airport Road in Beirut were decorated with notes of thanks to the Emir. It was a conspicuous visit because Qatar had stood out amongst the GCC in taking a strong if not controversial stand. Hand-in-hand with Hezbollah, the Emir, was not apparently one of the "half-men" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pointed to in the Gulf during the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel war. In fact, the Emir and Assad were quite close, if not close friends, and were frequently in touch.

In 2013, Qatar finds itself at the forefront on a number of regional issues, most notably the conflict in Syria, which had pitted the Emir in direct opposition to his old friend Bashar Al Assad. In fact, on the sectarian front, hosting firebrand spiritual figure, Yusuf al-Qaradawi who recently called for a Sunni-led jihad, and allying almost openly with Muslim Brotherhood movements in the region (which brought criticism from people as far afield as Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef), has increasingly prompted the question: Has the politically adept Qatar lost its touch?

Once again, however, the Emir of Qatar (who I'll refer to by his initials HBK) shocked the region with another unprecedented move - this time the transfer of power to his 33-year old son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (the 'new Emir'). In doing so, HBK put Qatar back on the political front-foot and raised the pressure on regional allies. And in typical style, he added another deft touch in his address to the nation with a quote (and the only quote outside from scripture) from Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph in Islam and the first Imam of the Shi'a Muslims: 'Teach your children other than that what you were taught; as they are created for a time other than yours."

It was nearly 18 years to the day, on June 27, 1995 [although official Qatari sites list his 'start-date' as June 26] that the outgoing Emir, HBK, came to power in a bloodless coup with the aid of his current outgoing Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamid bin Jassim al-Thani (HBJ) and other figures. He dislodged his father, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, at the time, under largely benign circumstances but also as Qatar was starting to truly increase its economic base. When HBK took the reigns, the country was bit-player on the regional scene, with a GDP of $8bn. Today, the country is a regional powerhouse, punching far above its weight with a GDP in upwards of $170bn. The transformation, after HBK's rise, began in a number of areas:
  • In 1995 (August), the Emir alongside his wife, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, launched what has become one of the largest foundations, Qatar Foundation, dedicated to 'knowledge' and social development in the country and wider region;
  • In 1996, the State of Qatar launched Al Jazeera, initially only in Arabic, which shocked the region by becoming literally the only widespread outlet of independent voices (from the 'regimes') in the region; 
  • And in 1997, Qatar Airways was relaunched and became a symbolic flagship for the country, although it is not clear whether the carrier will ever truly be profitable.
Economically, with growing revenues from natural gas over the last decade and a half, the departing Prime Minister, HBJ, effectively became the CEO of the country. In addition, to governing national investments through the Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund, HBJ also built up constituent vehicles like Qatari Diar, which looked to deploy billions of dollars in capital throughout the region, including in places that would traditionally be 'off-the-grid' like Libya, Syria and the Palestinian Territories.

Yet, while the transformation of Qatar happened on several levels - and Sheikha Moza led a number of key initiatives that have separately built up the profile of the country - the Prime Minister & Emir particularly forged a formidable political duo, implementing a plan for political leadership which led to alternating reactions of admiration and consternation in the region. HBK & HBJ became in recent years, the guiding and influencing force on a number of key regional files. It was a strategy of multi-faceted engagement and relevance, often replete with paradoxes, that even until now has confounded observers and analysts, who were always late to the party in understanding and engaging with Qatar.

For example, while condemning Al Jazeera Arabic for links to Al Qaeda, the U.S. government in September 2002 began moving its Central Command (CENTCOM) Headquarters in part to Doha. Qatar maintained an Israeli trade office since the late 1990s (closing intermittently during the Intifada and in 2009 during the Gaza War), while also building up relations with Hamas throughout the 2000s. The country maintained strong links within the GCC, and also with Sunni allies such as leader of the Future Party Saad Hariri, but in 2008 it was their ties with Hezbollah that allowed them to forge the Doha Agreement, averting what could have been a dark period of civil strife in Lebanon. There was no end to the political engagement: peace talks on Darfur, engagement with the Taliban, mediation between Chad and Sudan, and the list goes on.

On the political level, while the period prior to the Arab awakening was characterized by engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders, in early 2011, it seemed that Qatar was starting to play a much more partisan role. Previous allies such as Syria's Assad, and Libya's Gaddhafi fell by the wayside very quickly, with Qatar in fact leading efforts in the fight to topple both dictators. And in other 'revolutionary' environments such as Egypt and Tunisia, where the ruling parties are Islamist, Qatar has become the political football for its perceived support for Islamist movements. Critics ask why figures like Qaradawi (mentioned above) are based in Qatar? Why was the state mosque in Doha named after the founder of Wahhabism, the particularly conservative brand of Islam, in 2011? And why has a station like Al Jazeera portrayed only one side of the story, often with an 'Islamic' bent, the last two years especially?

Yet, the criticism has only grown commensurate with the prominence of Qatar in the region. On one hand, the policies of Qatar were simply part of its strategy of engagement in the region, to demonstrate leadership but also fundamentally relevance - important for a small country that previously lived in the shadow of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Arab uprisings and subsequent rise of Islamist movements in the region was a tremendous opportunity for Qatar to provide indispensable leadership. Yet, leadership and unique prominence, has consequences, and it is likely that the inflection point of a transfer of power, provides a moment for reflection, especially as the region comes to terms with its new (and oft-changing) dynamics. What was immensely popular in late 2011 no longer is definitively so. For example, in Egypt, President Morsi's approval rating has notably dropped from 70% to 40%.

Thus, the transfer of power to a new ruler, in Sheikh Tamim, means that Qatar can assess its strategic position and alignment. Perhaps, the country could benefit from a broader engagement given rising divisions in the region, and once again capture the role of lead mediator? Domestically, Sheikh Tamim will play close attention to catalyzing the role of his generation in the country's leadership. After all, Qatar had yet to enact the legislative or Shura Council that HBK promised when he rose to power, and enshrined in the Constitution ratified 9 years ago. The first step will be the announcement of a new cabinet that will replace what is increasingly seen as a gentrified political elite with new or younger faces. It is also expected that there may be a rise in salaries of Qataris employed in the public sector, at a smaller scale, however, to a similar announcement in 2011. Most important, however, will be a new dialogue and series of consultations that the new Emir will have with Qatari citizens, whose expectations have risen with new-found wealth and prosperity. In particular, with 70% of Qataris under the age of 30, engaging youth will be a priority. Do they feel included in the governance of the country and its institutions? Are there sufficient opportunities for employment and growth? And do public services meet their expectations?

As Sheikh Tamim assesses the domestic situation, he does have a strong ally in his mother, Sheikha Moza, and the institutions she leads that address youth, health and education. And he will rely on  experienced hands like Sheikh Abdullah al-Thani to evaluate macro-projects like the Qatar World Cup preparations and the development of the national railways. Yet, both on the national and international fronts, the new Emir is not without experience or preparation. While observers were caught off-guard, it is thought HBK had planned for this day far ahead of time. The ascension of the Crown Prince to the leadership, began in earnest over the past two years. In fact, when significant announcements like the salary increase from 2011 were made, it was from Sheikh Tamim's office. He was also front and center, for example, when the move was made to shift Hamas headquarters out of Syria. And the then Crown Prince had been taking an increasing "foreign affairs role" amidst the Arab uprisings.

While the policies that Qatar will follow will likely be unchanged in the short-term, we will have to wait and see what path the new Emir forges in the long-term. Yet, his father has assured that he enters on the political front-foot. Even in his departure, the outgoing Emir left as he came in - with a coup. Upending traditions in the region, he ensured that he would leave the scene at the ripe (for the GCC) age of 61, leaving power to his son who is only 33. This is next to countries such as Saudi Arabia, where the King is 91 (if not older) and where power has never been transferred to the 'next generation', passed instead from brother-to-brother among the descendents of King Abdelaziz (since his death in 1953). Or take Bahrain, where the Prime Minister, Khalifa bin Salman, has helmed the government for over four decades without interruption.

Certainly, the move by HBK has not ushered in a democracy in Qatar; it is still an authoritarian state. And the ascension of Sheikh Tamim does not automatically assuage any of the concerns (real or perceived) ranging from migrant rights to nepotism to regional interference. Nevertheless, in its own way, Qatar has provided the region with a new revolutionary moment. Now we wait to see how the day-after, always the hard part, plays out.

          Hizbullah lah yang Menjaga Lebanon dari Ronrongan Israel         
Menurut Sekjen Harakah Ummah, Syekh Abd an-Nashir Jabari, rakyat Lebanon bahu-membahu untuk melakukan perlawanan terhadap Zionis Israel. Mereka bergabung dalam muqawamah di berbagai levelnya. Tak terkecuali Hizbullah yang bermazhab Syiah di Lebanon Selatan.
          Pematahan Blokade Masjid al-Aqsa, Sebuah Kemenangan Besar        
Gerakan Muqawama Islam Lebanon (Hizbullah) menilai menyerahnya rezim Zionis Israel terhadap keinginan dan tekad rakyat Palestina, dan diakhirinya langkah-langkah keamanan ketat di Masjid al-Aqsa oleh rezim ini sebagai hasil dari Muqawama (perlawanan) dan sebuah kemenangan besar.
          World: Humanitarian Coordinator Information Products, 31 July 2017        
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

          World: Dorcas: Annual Report 2016        
Source: Dorcas Aid International
Country: Ethiopia, Greece, Kenya, Lebanon, Moldova, Romania, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, World

- A new story: We worked on a new story for Dorcas in 2016, with various departments and stakeholders giving their input.
- Strategic plan: We prepared for our new strategic plan (2017-2021) through a focused process of completing a SWOT analysis. The key element of the new strategic plan is to expand inclusive community development in all of our projects. In addition, we are seeking to build a Dorcas “community” in The Netherlands. During an intensive process, which included a SWOT analysis, we prepared ourselves for a new strategic plan for the period 2017 to 2021. Our plan is to develop our work further in inclusive community development. Furthermore, we are building a Dorcas community in the Netherlands.
- Influencing Policy: In 2016 we had a number of productive meetings with members of the Dutch House of Representatives. To support that we showed the film Face Down that concerns the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and which we made at the start of 2016.
- Visits to Field Project: Two groups visited Dorcas projects in 2016, one to Moldova with 23 sponsors visiting their grannies and children and the other group to Romania.
- New Dorcas shops: The Dorcas shops in the Netherlands are doing well. Four new Dorcas shops were opened in 2016. A total of 2,000 volunteers share the work to operate these shops.
- Dorcas Academy: In 2016 we prepared for establishing the Dorcas Academy, through which we will invest in our staff’s knowledge and skill level. Preparations were made in 2016 for setting up the Dorcas Academy, through which we will be investing in the knowledge and skills of our co-workers.

          Sophia Lunt        
Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
Ph.D., Chemistry, Princeton University, 2010
B.S., Chemistry, Lebanon Valley College, 2005
2016 AACR-Incyte NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research
2015 DoD CDMRP Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) Breakthrough Award
2015 Mayo Clinic Metabolomics Research Core Pilot and Feasibility Award
2014 Best Oral Presentation Award, Michigan Physiological Society
2012 DoD CDMRP PRCRP Visionary Postdoctoral Fellowship Award
González-Reymúndez A, de los Campos G, Gutiérrez L, Lunt SY, Vazquez AI. Prediction of Years of Life after Diagnosis of Breast Cancer Using Omics and Omic-by-Treatment Interactions. European Journal of Human Genetics; 25 (5): 538–544; 2017.
Nault R, Fader KA, Ammendolia DA, Dornbos P, Potter D, Sharratt B, Kumagai K, Harkema JR, Lunt SY, Matthews J, Zacharewski T. Dose-dependent metabolic reprogramming and differential gene expression in TCDD-elicited hepatic fibrosis. Toxicological Sciences; 2016.
Young M, Suddard-Bangsund JD, Patrick TJ, Pajares N, Lunt SY, Lunt RR: Organic Heptamethine Salts for Photovoltaics and Detectors with Near-Infrared Photoresponse up to 1600 nm. Advanced Optical Materials; 4 (7):1028-1033; 2016.
Nault R, Fader KA, Kirby MP, Ahmed S, Matthews J, Jones AD, Lunt SY, Zacharewski TR: Pyruvate kinase isoform switching and hepatic metabolic reprogramming by the environmental contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Toxicological Sciences; 149 (2): 358-371; 2016.
Degree Programs: 
Chemical Engineering
Materials Science and Engineering

          When It Comes to Flu Shots, the More Influenza Strains, the Better        
Researchers conducted a test of the new four-strain influenza vaccine, available for the first time this year, to determine how well it protected against the flu in young children. The four strain vaccine, which protects against four types of influenza–two viruses from the A class and two from the B class–does as good a job of protecting against flu than the three-strain shot, but is better at preventing moderate to severe disease than the traditional immunization. The international group of researchers, who described their findings in a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, attributed the four-strain, or quadrivalent vaccine’s effectiveness to the fact that it contained both circulating B types of influenza. In previous years, in which only one of the B strains was included, the immunization had a 50-50 chance of being mismatched to the circulating virus, making it less effective. The scientists tested the quadrivalent flu vaccine in 2,379 children ages three to eight in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Lebanon, Panama, the Philippines, Thailand and Turkey and compared their rates of flu infection to a control group of 2398 children who received a hepatitis A vaccine. The study was sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, which donated both vaccines for the trial. Compared to the control group, the four strain vaccine was 55% effective in protecting against flu. That’s similar to the efficacy of the three strain shots, but, the research team found, the quadrivalent shot was 70% effective in preventing more serious cases of the flu; most of the children who did get sick after getting vaccinated only had mild symptoms. The four-strain shot also resulted in 69% fewer medical visits, 75% fewer hospitalizations, 77% fewer absences from school, and 61% fewer parent absences from work. That’s an important benefit, since flu can result in lost school days for children and lower productivity for adults. “The efficacy of the vaccine was higher against moderate-to-severe disease–a potentially important end point associated with the highest clinical, social, and economic burden–than against illness of any severity,” the authors conclude.
          Symphony NH Live Lunchtime String Quartet        
Classical NH and Symphony NH are teaming up for a special lunchtime performance! Bring your lunch and join us for an intimate preview of the symphony’s upcoming concerts featuring the music of Smetana and Dvorak. (Full performances to be held April 7 in Concord, April 8 in Nashua, and April 9 in Lebanon, NH.) When: Monday, March 27 at Noon Where: NHPR's Studio D, 2 Pillsbury St, Concord, NH Limited seating available. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Register Here
          Empowering a new generation of localization professionals        

When her grandmother Chadia turned 80, Christina Hayek—an Arabic Language Manager at Google—and her sisters wanted to give their beloved sitto a gift that would bring her closer to them. Chadia lives in Lebanon, but her children and grandchildren are spread across the world. To bridge this geographical gap, Christina and her siblings gave their grandmother an Android smartphone. Much to Chadia’s surprise, she was able to use her phone in Arabic straight out of the box.

This isn’t magic—it’s the work of a dedicated localization team at Google, whose mission is to create a diverse user experience that fits every language and every culture. Spread over more than 30 countries, our team of passionate translators and reviewers makes sure that all Google products are fun and easy to use in 70+ languages—and sound natural to people everywhere. Localization goes beyond translation. For example, while references to baseball and donuts work well in the U.S., these aren’t necessarily popular concepts in other cultures. So we might change them to football in Italy and croissant in France.

With more and more people from around the world coming online every day, the localization industry keeps growing—and so does the demand for great translators, reviewers, and localization professionals. So, as part of Google’s mission to build products for everyone and make the web globally accessible, no matter where people are, we’re launching a massive open online course (MOOC) called Localization Essentials.

Localization Essentials was developed in collaboration with Udacity, and is free to access. It covers all localization basics needed to develop global products, from the types of software that we use to the jobs available in this industry. By sharing our knowledge, we hope that more culturally relevant products will become available to people everywhere, and provide opportunities to them that they didn’t have before.

          Rick Perry makes a campaign stop in that great Florida city of … New Orleans        
We all know that geography wasn't Rick Perry's best subject at Texas A&M. Neither were "Principles of Economics" or "Organic Chemistry," if you remember that leaked transcript. The Texas governor recently made national news by getting Libya and Lebanon confused. He did it again this week when he transported New Orleans to ... well, just read the post by our Austin bureau colleague Peggy Fikac.
          Syrian refugee regional plan remains 91% underfunded: UN        

Geneva: Two UN organisations on Tuesday warned of low funding for their ongoing support operations for Syrian refugees.

A statement released by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Geneva said of a $4.63 billion pledge made in January, only $433 million or nine per cent funding has so far been achieved, Efe news reported.

"The situation is getting desperate," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees in a statement. "we are already seeing children who aren`t able to go to school, families who cannot access adequate shelter or provide for their basic needs."

The statement coincided with a gathering of world players in Brussels for the Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region.

As the Syrian conflict entered its seventh year, there were over five million Syrian refugees living in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, in addition to those who have made the dangerous journey to Europe and farther.

The statement said that overall, some 13.5 million people were in need of assistance, including 6.3 million within Syria itself.

The UN statement said that "without additional funding, all areas of assistance will be curtailed this year. Food and cash assistance will be reduced or cut by mid-year, challenging stability and security in the region."

The note also warned that with most Syrian refugees falling below national poverty lines, families would face the impossible choice of taking their children out of school, adding to the half a million children already missing out on education.

The international conference slated for Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels is co-presided by the European Union, the UN, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar and the UK.

News Source: 
Facebook Instant Article: 

          Suicide Terrorism        

Suicide terrorism in today's world began with an attack by Hezbollah against the U.S. marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983. That attack drove Israel, France, and the United States out of Lebanon and convinced many groups, including the PLO, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, and the Tamil Tigers, among others, that suicide missions can be an effective tool to achieve their goals. (1) As suicide attacks proliferated, millions puzzled over what prompts a person to become a suicide terrorist. The popular speculations are that they are religious extremists, victims of poverty, impressionable youth, mentally ill, poorly educated, or low-achievers. (2) Based on a study of more than four-hundred suicide terrorists from 1980 to 2003 by Robert A. Pape and his associates from the University of Chicago, which is entitled Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, we know now that all of these explanations are mistaken. Here are some of the study's findings:

Firstly, the role of religion as a motivation to suicide terrorism is exaggerated. Fifty-seven percent of suicide attacks around the world during the period studied were perpetrated by seculars. For instance, in Lebanon, thirty of thirty-eight known suicide terrorists "were affiliated with groups opposed to Islamic fundamentalism." (3) Further, very few of those suicide attackers who were religious were inspired to violence by their religious beliefs. (4)

Secondly, most suicide terrorists are not impressionable adolescents. Only thirteen percent of suicide terrorists were between the ages of fifteen to eighteen. Fifty-five percent were between the ages of nineteen to twenty-three and the remaining thirty-two percent were age twenty-four or older. (5)

Thirdly, suicide terrorists as a group possess a favorable socioeconomic status.They score far better on educational attainment and income than the overall populations in their countries. (6)

And fourthly, "The main purpose of suicide terrorism is to use the threat ofpunishment to compel a target government to change policy, and most especially to cause democratic states to withdraw their forces from land the terrorists perceive as their national homeland." (7) These patriotic sentiments are typically shared across the local population and explain popular support for suicide terrorism. (8)

Based on these findings, Professor Pape issues recommendations as to how the United States can defeat suicide terrorism. His principal one is that the U.S. needs to withdraw its troops from majority Muslim nations and give up any hope of transforming them. (9) As it does this, the U.S. should "work with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other Persian Gulf states to ensure that they maintain the critical infrastructure for a rapid return of U.S. forces should that prove necessary" (10) and it should cultivate "the friendliest possible relations" with Iran. (11) Following this policy, Pape predicts, will "suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere that breeds anti-American suicide terrorism." (12)

Pape and his associates deserve credit for producing a fact-based study which demythologizes suicide terrorism and provides wise counsel to political leaders. I hope that the White House and the Pentagon are paying attention.


  1. Robert A. Pape, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, Random House, 2005, pp. 73-74.
  2. Dying to Win, p. 200.
  3. Dying to Win, p. 205.
  4. Dying to Win, p 210.
  5. Dying to Win, p. 207.
  6. Dying to Win, pp. 212-213. The research team says "The bottom line, then, is that suicide attackers are not mainly poor, uneducated, immature religious zealots or social losers. Instead, suicide attackers are normally well-educated workers from both religious and secular backgrounds. Especially given their education, they resemble the kind of politically conscious individuals who might join a grassroots movement more than they do wayward adolescents or religious fanatics." (p. 216)
  7. Dying to Win, p. 27. The study repeats this finding in many places. See p. 38, p.108, p.126, and p. 237.
  8. Dying to Win, pp. 48-49.
  9. Dying to Win, p. 241.
  10. Dying to Win, p. 247.
  11. Dying to Win, p. 248.
  12. Dying to Win, p. 249.

© 2009 Tom Shipka

          What Ever Happened to Jefferson and Madison?        

The most recent book of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Garry Wills, is Head and Heart: American Christianities. The chapters on religion during the Revolutionary Era show how far the USA today has drifted from the plan of our founders (1).
Wills explains that the founders believed that to build an enduring republic they would have to minimize the impact of religion on government. They were keenly aware of the blood that was spilled in the Crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of the Jews, and the religious wars in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, and they saw first hand religious intolerance in the colonies. They also agreed with British philosopher, John Locke, (2) that human beings have a natural right to form their own beliefs on religion based on reason and conscience, that the duly-constituted government must possess a monopoly of power, that churches are subordinate to the State and its laws, and that churches may use only admonitions and exhortations, and never coercion, in dealing with their members or non-members.
Wills tells us that Jefferson and Madison led the battle to build a lasting new republic based on the separation of government and religion. Jefferson's insistence on this is found in his "Bill to Establish Religious Freedom" in Virginia, his Letter to the Danbury Baptists, and his behavior as President. The Virginia statute disestablished the Anglican Church and ended the practice of taxing Virginians to support it (3). In his Letter to the Danbury Baptists, Jefferson characterized the Virginia statute, and the Constitution, as erecting "a wall of separation between Church and state." During his presidency, he refused to issue prayer day proclamations (4). As for Madison, Father of the Constitution, the Constitution, his essay against compulsory taxation to support churches (5), the "Federalist Papers," and his behavior as President show his agreement with Jefferson. Madison insisted on religious liberty for all and required churches to tolerate one another. He also opposed a religious test for public office and government support for a particular church or for religion in general. Like Jefferson, he opposed prayer day proclamations (6). He also opposed paying chaplains with public funds, tax exemptions for churches, government-endorsement of religious charities, and allowing churches to acquire extensive wealth (7).
Thus, our founders were deeply fearful of sectarianism and they aimed to disentangle religion and government (8). Although contemporary political leaders pay lip service to Jefferson and Madison, few follow their lead. Today most politicians pander to religious groups and their leaders. The White House sends hundreds of millions of dollars to religious charities, the Justice Department hires only applicants who pass an evangelical litmus test, atheists or agnostics are unelectable to high office, pastors openly defy IRS rules about partisan political activity, forty states exempt parents who subscribe to faith-healing from prosecution for denying medical care to their sick children, embryonic stem cell research is halted, and Genesis myths trump science in many classrooms. The list goes on and on (9). Today, religion rules. Whatever happened to Jefferson and Madison?


  1. See "Part Two: Enlightened Religion," Chapters 7-14, pp. 121-249.
  2. Locke's writings had a powerful influence on our founders. The doctrines of natural rights, limited government, government by consent, majority rule, the separation of powers, the legitimacy of revolution or rebellion against an illegitimate government, the separation of church and state, and others, are found in his First Treatise of Government, Second Treatise of Government, and Letter Concerning Toleration.
  3. Jefferson's "Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom" provides, in part, that " man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, workplace, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall (he) be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall (he) otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; ...all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." (Quoted in Wills, p. 196)
  4. Wills, p. 237.
  5. "Memorial and Remonstrance." See Wills, pp. 207-222.
  6. Madison reluctantly issued a prayer day proclamation during the War of 1812, a decision he later regretted.
  7. Wills, pp. 242-247. On the issue of church wealth, Madison was fearful that wealthy churches would attempt to exert political influence.
  8. Wills shares two "laments" with readers by individuals who recognized, and apparently regretted, the secular origins of our nation.
  9. a. In 1812 Timothy Wright wrote:
  10. "We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgement of God, without any recognition of His mercies to us as a people, of his government, or even of his existence. The Convention by which it was formed never asked, even once, his direction or his blessing upon their labors. Thus we commenced our national existence, under the present system, without God." (Quoted in Wills, p. 223)
  11. b. In 1813 Chancey Lee wrote:
  12. "Can we pause and reflect for a moment, with the mingled emotions of wonder and regret, that that public instrument which guarantees our political rights and freedom and independence - our Constitution of national government, framed by such an august, learned and able body of men, formally adopted by the solemn resolution of each state, and justly admired and celebrated for its consummate political wisdom - has not the impress of religion upon it, not the smallest recognition of the government or the being of God, or the dependence and accountability of men - be astonished, O Earth! - nothing by which a foreigner might certainly decide whether we believe in the one true God, or in any God." (Quoted in Wills, p. 223-224)
  13. Other examples include vouchers and other forms of government support of religious schools, displays of nativity scenes on public property, allowance of Christian proselytizing in the military academies, support of proselytizing by Christian ministries in jails and prisons, prayer breakfasts sponsored by public officials, legislative prayers, office holders and candidates closing speeches with "God bless you and God bless America" or a variation, newly-elected presidents utilizing a Bible during their oath and adding "So help me God" to the presidential oath provided in the Constitution, highly publicized efforts by office-holders to block the disconnection of life support systems from individuals in persistent vegetative states, such as Terri Schiavo, stacking boards of education with evangelicals, evangelical opposition to bills promoting children's rights, state referenda defining marriage as the bond between one man and one women, "In God We Trust" on currency, "One Nation Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, government "sex education" programs promoting abstinence only and ignoring condoms and the pill, the White House and others promoting the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution, opposition to casino gambling by evangelicals and their political patrons in some states, the placing by the State of Utah of 12-feet crosses at the sites of state highway patrol officers who died in the line of duty, a 36-year old "Free Day Away" program at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri where trainees may leave base provided that they participate in a religious program conducted by the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Lebanon, Missouri, incorporation of religion into the health care programs of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, etc.

© 2008 Tom Shipka

          A 1981 Warning About Religion and Politics        

Through the 1970's a famous American political figure observed with deepening concern the increasing political activity of religious groups. He worried that religious groups posed a threat to individual liberty and jeopardized the separation of church and state. Finally, on September 15, 1981, he rose in the Senate chamber to warn the American people about the marriage of religion and politics. (1)
The Senator welcomed President Ronald Reagan's election as a sign that Americans had finally turned to true conservatism, one which prizes the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution over the promise of prosperity by a welfare state. But this rediscovery of the primacy of freedom in America, he predicted, will be short-lived if "single issue religious groups" continue to grow in influence and power. Before Americans inject religion into the affairs of state, he cautioned, they should reflect on the harm caused by religion in Northern Ireland, Iran, and Lebanon. He saw intolerance and factionalism on the horizon. He feared that compromise and the give-and-take essential to American political life were in serious danger. Here are his own words.
&(O)n religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls his supreme being.
But, like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly.
The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using
their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their positions 100 percent.
In the past couple years, I have seen many news items that referred to the Moral Majority, pro-life, and other religious groups as "the new conservatism."
Well, I have spent quite a number of years carrying the flag of the "old conservatism." And I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these
groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics. The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength.
Im frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in "A,"
"B," "C," and "D." Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?
And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate.
I am warning them today. I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism."
The great decisions of Government cannot be dictated by the concerns of religious factions. This was true in the days of Madison and it is just as true today.
We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of State separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we must not stop now.
To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic.
Now, who said all this? Who issued this warning about religion and politics? It
was, of course, the five-term U.S. Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for president in 1964, Barry M. Goldwater.
I leave to your judgment whether Senator Goldwater's warning was justified, and, if it was, whether we Americans have heeded it.
1. All quotations and paraphrases are from Senator Barry Goldwater, "To Be Conservative," Congressional Record - Senate, September 15, 1981, pages 20589-20590.


          â€œIslam Menghasilkan Kekerasan”        

Kesaksian Dan Kisah Nyata Mantan Terroris dan Militan Islam PLO Palestina Walid Shoebat Masuk Kristen : “Islam Menghasilkan Kekerasan”

“Walid Shoebat: Mengapa Saya Meninggalkan Jihad ?”

Kesaksian Walid Shoebat..

“Saya teringat pada satu kesempatan di Betlehem ketika para penonton yang penuh sesak di sebuah bioskop bertepuk-tangan dengan sukacita saat menonton film 21 Hari di Munich. Saat kami melihat orang-orang Palestina …membunuh atlet-atlet Israel, kami…berteriak,’Allahu Akbar!’Sebuah slogan sukacita”.

Salah-satu kekuatan yang paling dahsyat di dunia adalah kesaksian yang mengubah hidup. Sebagaimana Parvin dan Homa Darabi, Walid Shoebat juga mengalami jahatnya terorisme karena ia pernah menjalaninya – pada kenyataannya, ia mempraktekkannya. Sewaktu remaja, ia membom sebuah bank di Tanah Suci dan turut serta memukuli seorang tentara Israel. Ketika istrinya yang beragama Katolik menantangnya untuk mempelajari Alkitab, hatinya yang keras kemudian menjadi lembut saat ia belajar tentang anugerah, rekonsiliasi, dan kasih yang diberikan melalui pengorbanan Yesus Kristus. Sekarang Walid menyerukan perlunya toleransi beragama dan kebebasan pribadi. Dan ia berusaha keras, berjalan dari seorang teroris menjadi seorang yang anti teroris.

Kisah Walid Shoebat dengan tajam menunjukkan pada kita apa yang akan terjadi di lingkungan kita jika kita tidak menghentikan terorisme Islam. Ia meninggalkan Islam dengan alasan yang jelas: Islam menghasilkan kekerasan. Ia takut jika kita yang hidup di dunia Barat dan negara-negara non-Muslim lainnya tidak bersatu sekarang, kita akan menghadapi kekerasan Islam yang lebih dahsyat di kemudian hari. Saat itu terjadi, itu tidak terjadi di suatu tempat di seberang lautan – itu akan terjadi di dalam komunitas kita sendiri.

Mengapa Saya Meninggalkan Islam ?

Saya lahir dan dibesarkan di Beit Sahour, Betlehem, di Tepi Barat, dalam sebuah keluarga berada. Kakek dari pihak ayah saya adalah seorang mukhtar, atau kepala suku, di desa itu. Ia adalah sahabat dari Haj-Ameen Al-Husseini, Mufti Agung Yerusalem dan sahabat dekat Adolf Hitler. Kakek dari pihak ibu saya, F.W.Georgeson, di sisi lain, adalah sahabat dekat Winston Churchill, dan pendukung keras terbentuknya negara Israel, walau saya tidak terlalu menyadari akan hal ini sampai bertahun-tahun kemudian dalam hidup saya. Saya dilahirkan pada salah satu hari raya penting Islam, yaitu hari kelahiran Nabi Muhammad. Ini adalah suatu kehormatan besar untuk ayah saya.Untuk merayakan hari itu, ia menamai saya Walid, yang berasal dari kata bahasa Arab mauled, yang artinya “kelahiran”. Itu adalah cara ayah saya untuk mengingat kenyataan bahwa putranya dilahirkan pada hari yang sama dengan kelahiran nabi terakhir dan terbesar dari semua nabi.

Ayah saya adalah seorang Muslim Palestina yang mengajar bahasa Inggris dan studi Islam di Tanah Suci. Ibu saya adalah seorang Amerika yang menikahi ayah saya pada tahun 1956 ketika ayah saya sedang studi di Amerika. Karena mereka takut akan pengaruh dari gaya hidup Amerika terhadap anak-anak mereka, saat ibu saya sedang mengandung saya, orang-tua saya pindah ke Betlehem, yang pada waktu itu adalah bagian dari Yordania. Itu terjadi pada tahun 1960.Tak lama setelah orang-tua saya tiba di Betlehem, saya dilahirkan. Ketika ayah saya berganti pekerjaan, kami pindah ke Arab Saudi dan kemudian kembali ke Tanah Suci – kali ini ke dataran terendah di muka bumi: Yerikho.Saya dibesarkan dan belajar bagaimana membenci namun diselamatkan melalui teladan mengasihi yang ditunjukkan oleh ibu saya yang adalah orang Amerika, yang paham soal belas kasih, keadilan, dan kebebasan.

Saya tidak pernah melupakan lagu pertama yang saya pelajari di sekolah.Judulnya adalah :  â€œOrang-orang Arab Kekasih Kami dan Orang-orang Yahudi Anjing-anjing Kami”. Waktu itu saya baru berumur 7 tahun. Saya ingat waktu itu saya bertanya-tanya siapakah orang Yahudi itu, namun bersama dengan teman-teman sekelas saya, saya mengulangi kata-kata itu tanpa benar-benar memahami apa arti yang sebenarnya.

Saya dibesarkan di Tanah Suci, saya mengalami beberapa pertempuran antara Arab dan Yahudi. Pertempuran pertama, ketika kami masih tinggal di Yerikho, adalah Pertempuran Enam Hari, ketika orang Yahudi menaklukkan Yerusalem tua dan sisa “Palestina”. Sulit sekali menggambarkan betapa hal ini sangat mengecewakan dan mempermalukan orang Arab dan kaum Muslim di seluruh dunia.

Konsul Amerika di Yerusalem datang ke desa kami tidak lama sebelum perang itu terjadi untuk mengevakuasi semua orang Amerika di wilayah itu. Oleh karena ibu saya adalah orang Amerika, mereka menawarkan bantuan kepada kami, tapi ayah saya menolak bantuan apapun dari mereka, karena ia mencintai negerinya. Saya masih ingat banyak hal selama perang itu – suara ledakan bom yang berlangsung berhari-hari dan bermalam-malam selama 6 hari, penjarahan toko-toko dan rumah-rumah oleh orang-orang Arab di Yerikho, orang-orang mengungsi menyeberangi Sungai Yordan karena takut terhadap orang Israel.

Perang itu dinamai demikian karena hanya berlangsung dalam 6 hari. Orang Israel memperoleh kemenangan atas pasukan multi-nasional Arab yang menyerang dari banyak front. Hanya pada hari ke-7 peperangan ini, Rabbi Shalom Goren, ketua rohaniwan pasukan Pertahanan Israel, mengeluarkan pernyataan yang bergema dishofar, mengumumkan kontrol Yahudi atas Tembok Barat dan kota tua Yerusalem. Banyak orang Yahudi menghubungkan peristiwa ini paralel dengan kejadian yang dicatat dalam Alkitab ketika Yosua dan bangsa Israel menaklukkan Yerikho. Yosua dan orang Israel mengelilingi tembok Yerikho selama 6 hari, dan pada hari yang ke-7, mereka mengelilingi tembok itu 7 kali. Para imam membunyikan shofar bersamaan dengan orang-orang Israel berteriak dengan satu suara. Tembok pun roboh dan orang Israel menguasai kota itu.

Seusai perang, bagi ayah saya di Yerikho, seakan-akan tembok itu telah roboh langsung menimpanya. Selama perang, ia duduk lengket dengan radio mendengarkan stasiun radio Yordan. Ia selalu berkata bahwa orang-orang Arab akan memenangkan perang itu – tapi ia mendengarkan stasiun radio yang salah. Stasiun radio Israel mengabarkan kebenaran mengenai kemenangan telak mereka. Namun ayah saya memilih untuk mempercayai orang Arab yang mengklaim bahwa orang-orang Israel – selalu – berbohong, mengumumkan propaganda palsu. Banyak diantara kita sekarang yang tentunya masih ingat menteri informasi Saddam, yang dikenal dengan “Baghdad Bob”, dan semua klaim liar dan laporan palsu yang diteriakkannya beberapa hari setelah kejatuhan Baghdad? Dalam dunia Islam, nampaknya ada hal-hal yang tidak pernah berubah.

Kemudian, pindah kembali ke Betlehem, dan ayah saya memasukkan kami ke sebuah sekolah Anglikan-Lutheran agar dapat menguasai pelajaran-pelajaran bahasa Inggris. Saudara saya laki-laki dan perempuan, dan saya sendiri adalah satu-satunya orang Muslim di sekolah itu. Kami bertiga dibenci. Terutama bukan karena kami orang Muslim, tetapi karena kami setengah Amerika. Walaupun itu adalah sekolah Kristen, sekolah itu masih memiliki jejak kekristenan yang berwarna Islam yang mempengaruhi banyak orang Kristen Palestina hingga saat ini. Agar dapat diterima – dan kadangkala hanya supaya bisa tetap hidup – banyak orang Kristen di negara-negara yang didominasi Islam mengadopsi sikap benci yang dimiliki orang Muslim di sekeliling mereka terhadap Israel, Amerika dan dunia Barat.Karena kami separoh Amerika, guru-guru seringkali memukuli kami sementara murid-murid Kristen menertawakan hal itu.

Akhirnya, ayah saya memindahkan saya ke sekolah pemerintah dimana saya mulai bertumbuh kuat dalam Islam. Saya diajari bahwa suatu hari penggenapan sebuah nubuat kuno oleh Nabi Muhammad akan terjadi. Nubuat ini menceritakan suatu peperangan dimana Tanah Suci akan kembali ditaklukkan Islam dan eliminasi orang Yahudi akan terjadi dalam sebuah pembantaian massal. Nubuat ini ditemukan dalam banyak buku suci tradisi Islam yang dikenal dengan Sahih Hadith.Tradisi ini berbunyi sebagai berikut, dan merupakan pola pikir semua pengikut Islam radikal”

“[Muhammad berkata:] Saat terakhir tidak akan datang kecuali orang Muslim memerangi orang Yahudi dan orang Muslim akan membunuh mereka hingga orang Yahudi menyembunyikan diri di balik batu atau pohon dan berkata: Muslim, atau hamba Allah, ada orang Yahudi di belakang saya; datang dan bunuhlah dia; tetapi pohon Gharqad tidak akan berkata, karena itu adalah pohon orang Yahudi”. (Sahih Muslim Buku 041, Nomor 6985). Jika ditanya dimana pembantaian itu akan dilaksanakan, tradisi mengatakan bahwa itu akan terjadi di “Yerusalem dan daerah sekelilingnya”.

Selama masa remaja saya, seperti ayah, saya selalu menyesuaikan diri dengan Islam dan apa saja yang diajarkan guru-guru Muslim kepada kami. Saya, seperti halnya teman-teman sekelas saya pada umumnya, sangat terinspirasi oleh visi Muhammad yang gelap dan penuh darah. Saya menyerahkan hidup saya untuk jihad, atau perang suci, untuk memenuhi penggenapan nubuat ini. Saya ingin menjadi bagian dari tercapainya rencana Muhammad, ketika Islam akan memperoleh kemenangan terakhir atas orang Yahudi dan akhirnya – tanpa halangan lagi – memerintah dunia. Ini adalah ideologi para mentor saya, dan ketika saya telah meninggalkan paham fanatik ini, jutaan orang di Timur Tengah masih mempercayainya, dan mereka masih berjuang untuk menjadikannya sebuah realita.

Selama masa remaja saya, sering ada kerusuhan di sekolah menentang apa yang kami sebut sebagai pendudukan Israel. Sedapat-dapatnya saya berperan sebagai penghasut dan penggerak. Saya bersumpah untuk memerangi musuh Yahudi, percaya bahwa dengan melakukannya saya sedang melakukan kehendak Tuhan di atas bumi. Saya tetap setia pada sumpah saya saat saya memerangi tentara Israel dalam setiap kerusuhan. Saya menggunakan berbagai alat yang ada untuk menghasilkan kerusakan dan sakit yang sebesar-besarnya. Saya berunjuk rasa di sekolah, di jalanan, dan bahkan di Temple Mount di Yerusalem. Selama sekolah menengah, saya adalah pemimpin aktivis yang memperjuangkan Islam. Saya akan mempersiapkan pidato-pidato, slogan-slogan, dan menulis grafiti anti Israel sebagai usaha untuk memprovokasi murid-murid lain untuk melempari tentara-tentara Israel yang bersenjata dengan batu. Gema bergemuruh teriakan-teriakan kami masih jelas dalam ingatan saya:

Tidak ada damai atau negosiasi dengan musuh!

Darah dan jiwa kami kurbankan untuk Arafat!

Darah dan jiwa kami kurbankan untuk Palestina!

Matilah Zionis!

Impian saya adalah untuk mati sebagai sahid, seorang martir untuk Islam. Pada saat berunjuk rasa saya akan membuka baju saya berharap untuk ditembak, tetapi karena orang Israel tidak pernah menembaki tubuh, saya tidak pernah berhasil. Ketika gambar-gambar sekolah diambil, saya dengan sengaja berpose dengan wajah yang cemberut mengantisipasi bahwa pada koran berikut wajah sayalah yang akan dimuat sebagai martir berikutnya. Banyak kali saya hampir terbunuh waktu unjuk rasa siswa dan kerusuhan dengan tentara Israel. Jantung saya berdebam; tak ada yang dapat menyingkirkan keinginan saya –kebencian dan kemarahan saya – selain dari mujizat. Saya adalah salah seorang dari orang-orang muda yang mungkin anda lihat di CNN melempar batu dan bom molotov pada hari-hari Intifada atau “kebangkitan”. Pada waktu itu, saya akan membenci label itu; tapi sebenarnya saya adalah seorang teroris muda. Pencucian otak dengan paham Islam-Nazi oleh para guru dan imam – dalam keseluruhan budaya saya – mencapai pengaruh yang dicita-citakannya.

Apa yang saya ketahui sekarang adalah bahwa saya tidak hanya meneror orang lain, tetapi dalam banyak hal, saya sedang meneror diri saya sendiri dengan apa yang saya percayai. Perjuangan utama saya adalah untuk mendapatkan nilai yang cukup – untuk membangun catatan teror yang hebat – agar disukai Allah. Saya hidup dengan takut akan penghakiman dan neraka dan berpikir bahwa hanya dengan bersikap jahat seperti itu saya mempunyai kesempatan untuk masuk janna(surga, atau nirwana). Saya tidak pernah yakin bahwa semua “perbuatan baik” saya dapat melebihi perbuatan-perbuatan jahat saya jika ditimbang pada Hari Penghakiman. Saya tidak hanya digerakkan oleh kemarahan dan kebencian, tetapi juga oleh rasa tidak aman dan ketakutan secara spiritual. Saya percaya pada apa yang telah diajarkan pada saya: cara yang paling pasti untuk meredakan kemarahan Allah terhadap dosa-dosa saya adalah dengan mati memerangi orang Yahudi. Mungkin, jika saya berhasil, saya akan diberi pahala tempat khusus di Surga dimana wanita-wanita cantik bermata besar akan memenuhi hasrat saya yang terdalam.

Sulit untuk menggambarkan sampai pada tahap seperti apa pencucian otak yang dialami orang seperti saya, yang dibesarkan di bawah sistem pendidikan Palestina. Semua pihak berotoritas menyuarakan pesan yang sama: pesan Islam –jihad atau kebencian terhadap orang Yahudi – dan hal-hal yang seharusnya tidak berkuasa atas pikiran orang muda.

Saya teringat satu kejadian di Sekolah Menengah Dar-Jaser di Betlehem saat sedang studi tentang Islam, ketika salah seorang teman kelas saya bertanya kepada guru apakah seorang Muslim diijinkan memperkosa wanita Yahudi setelah mengalahkan mereka. Jawabannya adalah, ”Wanita yang ditangkap dalam pertempuran tidak mempunyai pilihan dalam hal ini, mereka adalah gundik-gundik dan mereka harus menaati tuannya. Berhubungan seks dengan budak tawanan bukanlah “sebuah pilihan bagi para budak”. Ini bukanlah pendapat guru itu semata-mata, tetapi jelas sekali diajarkan di dalam Qur’an:

“Dan (diharamkan juga kamu mengawini) wanita yang bersuami, kecuali budak-budak yang kamu miliki (Allah telah menetapkan hukum itu) sebagai ketetapan-Nya atas kamu”. Surah 4:24

Dan juga dikatakan dalam Qur’an:

“Hai Nabi, sesungguhnya kami telah menghalalkan bagimu istri-istrimu yang telah kamu berikan mas kawinnya dan hamba sahaya yang kamu miliki yang kamu peroleh dalam peperangan yang dikaruniakan Allah untukmu, dan (demikian pula) anak-anak perempuan dari saudara laki-laki bapakmu, anak-anak perempuan dari saudara perempuan bapakmu, anak-anak perempuan dari saudara laki-laki ibumu dan anak-anak perempuan dari saudara perempuan ibumu yang turut hijrah bersama kamu dan perempuan mukmin yang menyerahkan dirinya kepada Nabi kalau Nabi mau mengawininya, sebagai pengkhususan bagimu, bukan untuk semua orang Mukmin”. Surah 33:50.

Kami tidak mempermasalahkan soal Muhammad mengambil keuntungan dari hak istimewa ini saat ia menikahi sekitar 14 istri dan mempunyai beberapa budak wanita yang dikumpulkannya sebagai rampasan beberapa perang yang dimenangkannya. Kami tidak benar-benar tahu berapa banyak istri yang dimilikinya dan pertanyaan itu senantiasa merupakan hal yang kami perdebatkan.Salah seorang dari istri-istrinya diambil dari anak angkatnya sendiri, yaitu Zayd. Setelah Zayd menikahi wanita itu, Muhammad tertarik padanya. Zayd memberikannya kepada Muhammad, tetapi Muhammad tidak menerima pemberian Zayd itu hingga turunlah wahyu dari Allah. Istri-istri Muhammad yang lainnya adalah para tawanan Yahudi yang dipaksa menjadi budak setelah Muhammad memenggal kepala para suami dan keluarga mereka. Inilah hal-hal yang kami pelajari dalam studi kami mengenai Islam di sekolah menengah. Inilah orang yang harus kami teladani dalam segala hal. Inilah nabi kami, dan dari dia dan perkataannyalah kami belajar untuk membenci orang Yahudi.

Saya teringat pada satu kesempatan di Betlehem ketika para penonton yang penuh sesak di sebuah bioskop bertepuk tangan dengan sukacita saat mereka menyaksikan film 21 Hari di Munich. Saat kami menyaksikan orang-orang Palestina melempar granat ke dalam helikopter dan membunuh para atlet Israel, kami semua – ratusan penonton – berteriak, “Allahu akbar!” sebuah slogan sukacita.

Dalam suatu usaha untuk mengubah hati orang Palestina, stasiun televisi Israel menayangkan film dokumentasi mengenai Holocaust. Saya duduk dan menonton, menyoraki orang Jerman sambil makan pop corn. Hati saya begitu keras, mustahil bagi saya untuk mengubah sikap saya terhadap orang Yahudi, kecuali melalui “pencangkokan hati”.

Oleh karena kemurahan Tuhan, saya memiliki sesuatu yang hanya dimiliki oleh sedikit dari teman-teman sekelas saya. Saya mempunyai seorang ibu yang berbelas kasih dan memiliki suara yang lembut – dengan sabar berusaha menggapai saya di tengah-tengah hiruk pikuk suara kebencian yang menulikan di sekitar saya. Ia berusaha mengajari saya di rumah tentang apa yang disebutnya dengan “rencana yang lebih baik”. Namun demikian, pada waktu itu apa yang diajarkannya hanya berdampak sedikit pada saya, karena tekad saya sudah teguh – saya akan hidup atau mati memerangi orang Yahudi. Tetapi seorang ibu tidak pernah menyerah.

Saya tidak menyadarinya waktu itu, tetapi ibu saya telah dipengaruhi oleh sepasang misionaris Amerika. Ia bahkan telah dengan diam-diam meminta mereka untuk membaptisnya. Namun, ketika ia menolak untuk dibaptis di kolam yang penuh dengan ganggang hijau, pendeta misionaris itu harus meminta YMCA di Yerusalem untuk mengosongkan kolam yang dikhususkan untuk pria, dan kemudian ibu saya dibaptis disana. Tak seorang pun anggota keluarga kami mengetahuinya.

Seringkali ibu mengajak saya mengunjungi berbagai museum di Israel. Ini berdampak positif pada saya dan saya jatuh cinta pada arkeologi. Saya terpesona pada arkeologi. Dalam banyak argumentasi saya dengan ibu, secara langsung saya katakan padanya bahwa orang Yahudi dan orang Kristen telah berubah dan memalsukan Alkitab.Ia menanggapinya dengan membawa saya ke Museum Gulungan Kitab di Yerusalem dimana ibu menunjukkan pada saya gulungan kuno kitab Yesaya – masih utuh. Ibu saya berhasil menyampaikan argumennya tanpa berkata-kata. Walaupun ibu berusaha mencapai saya dengan sabar dan lembut, saya tidak tergoyahkan. Saya akan menyiksanya dengan hinaan. Saya menyebutnya seorang “kafir” yang mengklaim bahwa Yesus adalah Anak Tuhan dan saya menyebut ibu “seorang penjajah terkutuk Amerika”. Saya menunjukkan padanya gambar-gambar di suratkabar tentang semua remaja Palestina yang telah menjadi “martir” sebagai akibat dari perselisihan dengan tentara Israel dan saya menuntut ibu untuk memberikan jawaban. Saya membencinya dan meminta ayah untuk menceraikannya dan menikahi seorang wanita Muslim yang baik.

Di samping semua hal ini, ibulah – ketika saya dijebloskan ke Penjara Muscovite di Yerusalem – yang pergi ke konsulat Amerika di Yerusalem dan berusaha untuk mengeluarkan saya. Penjara Muscovite dulunya adalah kamp Rusia yang digunakan sebagai penjara pusat di Yerusalem bagi mereka yang kepergok menghasut orang untuk melakukan kekerasan terhadap Israel. Ibuku yang kekasih sangat kuatir akan arah hidup yang saya ambil sehingga rambutnya mulai rontok. Kekuatirannya bukannya tanpa alasan. Selama saya di penjara saya menjadi anggota kelompok teror Fatah milik Yasser Arafat. Tak lama kemudian, saya direkrut oleh seorang pembuat bom yang sangat terkenal dari Yerusalem yang bernama Mahmoud Al-Mughrabi.

Sudah tiba saatnya bagi saya untuk melakukan yang lebih besar daripada sekadar protes dan membuat kerusuhan. Al-Mughrabi dan saya berencana untuk bertemu di Jalan Bab-El-Wad di Klub Bela Diri Judo-Star yang dikelola ayahnya di dekat Temple Mount di Yerusalem. Ia memberi saya bahan peledak yang rumit yang telah dirakitnya sendiri. Saya harus menggunakan bom – bahan peledak yang disembunyikan dalam seketul roti – untuk meledakkan cabang Bank Leumi di Betlehem. Mahmoud menolong saya menyelundupkan bom itu, seperti halnya Wakf Muslim – polisi agama di Temple Mount. Dari Temple Mount, saya berjalan keluar menuju podium dengan bahan peledak dan pengatur waktunya di tangan saya. Kami berjalan di sepanjang Dinding Ratapan dan menghindari semua titik pemeriksaan. Dari sana, saya berjalan ke stasiun bis dan naik bis ke Betlehem. Saya sudah sangat siap untuk menyerahkan hidup saya jika memang harus demikian. Saya berdiri di depan bank itu dan tangan saya sudah benar-benar siap untuk meledakkan bom di pintu depan, ketika saya melihat beberapa anak Palestina berjalan di dekat bank.
Pada saat terakhir, saya malah melemparkan bom itu ke atap bank. Dan saya berlari. Ketika saya sampai di Church of the Nativity (gereja yang dibangun di tempat Yesus dilahirkan-Red), saya mendengar ledakan. Saya sangat ketakutan dan sangat depresi sehingga saya tidak dapat tidur berhari-hari. Saya hanyalah seorang remaja berusia 16 tahun. Saya bertanya-tanya apakah saya telah membunuh orang hari itu. Itulah kali pertama saya mengalami bagaimana rasanya memiliki tangan yang berlumuran darah. Saya tidak menikmati apa yang telah saya perbuat, tetapi saya merasa harus melakukannya karena itu adalah tugas saya.

Kisah yang akan saya ceritakan pada anda berikut ini juga merupakan pergumulan. Itulah kali pertama saya berusaha untuk membunuh seorang Yahudi. Seperti jutaan belalang, batu-batu beterbangan dimana-mana saat kami bertikai dengan tentara Israel. Sekelompok orang dari pihak kami telah menyalakan api dengan cara membakar ban untuk digunakan sebagai blokade. Seorang tentara terluka kena lemparan batu. Ia mengejar anak yang telah melemparinya. Namun kami berhasil menangkap tentara itu. Bagaikan segerombolan binatang liar, kami menyerangnya dengan apa saja yang ada di tangan kami. Saya memegang pentungan dan saya menggunakan pentungan itu untuk memukuli kepalanya sampai pentungan itu patah. Seorang remaja lain memegang tongkat dengan paku-paku yang mencuat keluar. Ia terus memukuli kepala tentara yang masih muda itu hingga ia berlumuran darah. Kami hampir saja membunuhnya. Ajaibnya, seakan-akan dengan didorong ledakan adrenalin yang terakhir, dia lari sekencangnya menyeberangi blokade ban-ban berapi dan berhasil lolos ke seberang dimana para tentara Israel menggotong dan menyelamatkannya. Saya tidak tahu dari mana ia mendapatkan kekuatan itu.Tapi sekarang saya merasa senang karena ia berhasil melarikan diri. Sekarang, setelah bertahun-tahun berlalu, sulit sekali bagi saya mengekspresikan bagaimana saya sangat menyesal dan pedih jika mengingat bahwa saya pernah melakukan hal-hal seperti itu. Sekarang saya bukan orang yang sama seperti waktu itu.

Setelah saya menyelesaikan sekolah menengah atas, orang-tua saya mengirim saya ke Amerika untuk mendapatkan pendidikan yang lebih tinggi. Saya masuk di sekolah yang kemudian dikenal dengan Loop College, yang terletak di jantung kota Chicago. Ketika saya tiba disana, saya langsung terlibat dengan banyak acara sosial politik yang anti Israel. Saya masih benar-benar percaya bahwa akan datang harinya dimana seluruh dunia akan tunduk kepada Islam dan kemudian dunia akan menyadari betapa dunia sangat berhutang kepada orang-orang Palestina yang telah mengalami banyak kehilangan oleh karena mereka adalah barisan terdepan dalam perang Islam melawan Israel.

Loop College dipenuhi oleh berbagai organisasi Islam. Ketika saya berjalan ke kantin, rasanya seperti masuk ke sebuah kafe Arab di Timur tengah. Berbagai kelompok Islam beroperasi di luar jam sekolah pada waktu itu, tiap kelompok bersaing untuk merekrut siswa lain. Dengan segera saya mengabdikan tenaga saya untuk melayani sebagai seorang aktifis PLO – Organisasi Pembebasan Palestina. Secara resmi saya harus bekerja sebagai penerjemah dan konselor bagi siswa-siswa Arab melalui sebuah program Amerika yang disebut CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) dimana saya dibayar dengan bantuan dari pemerintah Amerika Serikat. Namun, sebenarnya, apa yang saya lakukan, meliputi menerjemahkan iklan-iklan untuk acara-acara yang bertujuan memenangkan simpati orang Amerika atas perjuangan Palestina. Kenyataannya, “memenangkan simpati” adalah ekspresi yang palsu. Kami berusaha untuk mencuci otak orang-orang Amerika – semua yang kami pandang sangat mudah tertipu. Dalam bahasa Arab, iklan-iklan untuk acara-acara semacam itu dengan terang-terang menggunakan jihadist, sebuah deskripsi anti semitis seperti: “Akan ada sungai darah…Datang dan dukunglah kami untuk mengirim siswa-siswa ke Selatan Libanon untuk memerangi orang Israel…”Di lain pihak, dalam versi bahasa Inggris, kami akan menggunakan deskripsi yang halus dan tidak merusak, seperti: “pesta budaya Timur tengah, datanglah dan bergabung dengan kami, kami akan menyajikan domba gratis dan baklava…” Waktu itu tahun 1970.

Kemudian terjadilah Septembar Hitam.September Hitam adalah bulan yang dikenal di seluruh Timur Tengah sebagai saat ketika Raja Hussein dari Yordania bergerak menggagalkan sebuah usaha PLO di Yordania meruntuhkan kekuasaannya sebagai Raja. Banyak orang Palestina terbunuh dalam konflik yang berlangsung hampir setahun lamanya itu hingga bulan Juli 1971. Hasil akhir dari semua ini adalah pengusiran PLO dan ribuan orang Palestina dari Yordania masuk ke Lebanon.

Tentu saja, konflik itu berkembang dan mempengaruhi berbagai organisasi siswa Arab di Loop College. Saya sangat kecewa dan frustrasi menyaksikan hal ini, karena saya menyadari bahwa tanpa persatuan, tujuan jihad di Amerika tidak akan berhasil. Pada saat itulah saya bergabung dengan Al-Ikhwan – Persaudaraan Muslim.

Persaudaraan Muslim adalah organisasi yang membawahi sejumlah oraganisasi teroris lainnya di seluruh dunia. Saya tidak sendirian saat bergabung dengan Persaudaraan ini; ada ratusan siswa Muslim lain dari seluruh penjuru Amerika yang juga bergabung ketika itu. Saya percaya bahwa bekerja sebagai seorang aktifis untuk Persaudaraan Muslim adalah cara yang terbaik untuk membawa kesatuan diantara orang Muslim; bukan Muslim Palestina atau Muslim Yordania, melainkan satuummah Muslim – satu komunitas Muslim universal – di bawah satu payung Islam. Hingga akhirnya, seorang sheikhYordania bernama Jamal Said datang ke Amerika untuk merekrut siswa-siswa. Pertemuan perekrutan itu diadakan di gudang bawah tanah atau dengan menyewa kamar hotel. Para siswa Muslim berkumpul dari seluruh penjuru Amerika untuk menghadiri pertemuan itu dan mendengarkan Sheikh Jamal Said. Jamal memiliki status dan reputasi yang legendaris. Dia adalah sahabat Abdullah Azzam, yang terkenal di seluruh Timur tengah sebagai mentor dari Osama Bin Laden.

Orang seringkali bertanya pada saya apakah menurut saya ada kelompok-kelompok sel teroris yang beroperasi di Amerika.Tidak diragukan lagi bahwa kelompok-kelompok itu memang ada. Sementara banyak mahasiswa Amerika di tahun 70-an bereksperimen dengan narkoba, memprotes pemerintah mereka, dan berpartisipasi dalam melahirkan gerakan “anak bunga”, mereka tidak memperkirakan adanya revolusi bawah tanah lainnya yang dilahirkan oleh para siswa Muslim radikal di seluruh negeri itu. Di dalam Islam, diajarkan bahwa jika seorang Muslim memasuki sebuah negara untuk menaklukkannya bagi Allah, ada beberapa tahapan sebelum mencapai “invasi” itu jika anda menginginkannya. Itu adalah tahap-tahap awal dari gerakan paling subversif yang akan dialami oleh negara itu. Itulah kelahiran gerakan jihadis di Amerika.

Akhirnya saya pindah ke California, dimana saya bertemu dengan istri saya, seorang Katolik dari Meksiko. Saya ingin mentobatkannya kepada Islam. Saya mengatakan padanya bahwa orang Yahudi telah memalsukan Alkitab dan ia meminta saya untuk menunjukkan beberapa contoh pemalsuan itu. Ia menantang saya: ia menantang saya untuk mempelajari Alkitab itu sendiri supaya saya sendiri melihat apakah semua yang telah diajarkan kepada saya mengenai Alkitab dan orang Yahudi itu benar atau tidak. Itu membuat saya memulai sebuah perjalanan yang mengubah hidup saya secara radikal. Pada saat itu saya harus pergi membeli Alkitab dan saya mulai membacanya dan ada banyak sekali kata “Israel” di dalamnya. Kata yang paling saya benci itu ada dimana-mana di dalam kitab itu. Saya berpikir, bagaimana ini harus dijelaskan ? Saya mulai berpikir bahwa orang-orang Yahudi sesungguhnya tidak menyakiti kami tetapi kami membenci mereka dan menuduh mereka melakukan hal-hal yang mengerikan ini.

Ini adalah sebuah perjalanan, yang dalam beberapa waktu lamanya hingga saya menemukan jawaban atas pertanyaan-pertanyaan saya, lebih merupakan sebuah obsesi. Saya akan begadang sampai larut malam dan membaca dengan tekun kitab suci orang Yahudi dan Kristen ini.Saya membaca Perjanjian Lama dan Perjanjian Baru. Saya mempelajari sejarah Yahudi. Saya berdoa dan menggumuli hal-hal yang saya temukan. Banyak hal dalam kepercayaan saya yang membentuk dasar-dasar cara berpikir saya yang Islami mulai bertumbangan. Karena dikonfrontasi dengan konflik yang jelas terlihat antara cara saya memandang dunia ini dan agama saya semenjak remaja dan kebenaran Alkitab yang menusuk, lalu saya berdoa mohon bimbingan Tuhan. Pada pertengahan tahun 1990, saya pergi ke reuni keluarga di selatan California, disana terjadi pertengkaran setelah saya membela tokoh Alkitab Rahel, yang disebut oleh paman saya sebagai “pelacur Yahudi”.

“Kamu layak dimusuhi”, kata paman saya, dan mereka melemparkan saya keluar dari rumah.

Saya sadar mereka tidak tahu apa-apa soal sejarah; apa yang mereka ketahui hanyalah propaganda yang dulu selalu diajarkan pada saya.

Pertobatan saya membawa saya untuk meninggalkan kekerasan dan menjadi orang Kristen, tetapi untuk itu ada harga yang harus saya bayar: keluarga saya tidak mau mengakui saya lagi dan saudara saya sendiri mengancam akan membunuh saya karena telah meninggalkan Islam. Sekarang saya berharap bahwa dengan mengatakan kebenaran saya akan membuka mata orang banyak.

Sekarang, saya adalah pendiri Yayasan Walid Shoebat. Misi hidup saya dan cita-cita saya adalah membawa kebenaran tentang orang Yahudi dan Israel ke seluruh dunia, sambil mengijinkan Kristus untuk menyembuhkan jiwa saya melalui pertobatan dan mengupayakan rekonsiliasi. Saya telah berketetapan untuk dengan tidak berlelah berbicara tentang Israel kepada ratusan ribu orang di dunia. Saya bersyukur kepada Tuhan karena Ia memberikan saya kesempatan untuk meminta pengampunan dan berekonsiliasi dengan orang Yahudi dimana pun di seluruh penjuru dunia. Kepada siapa pun yang mau mendengarkan, saya akan menceritakan kisah saya. Sebagai tambahan, walau ada banyak ancaman terhadap hidup saya – termasuk imbalan 10 juta Dollar untuk menangkap dan membunuh saya – saya terus berbicara menentang kebohongan-kebohongan Islam-Nazi yang dulu mengindoktrinasi saya.Jika mereka menangkap saya, saya akan terus bersuara.
Ya, hari ini saya mengatakan pada dunia, Saya mengasihi orang Yahudi! Dan saya sangat percaya bahwa orang Yahudi adalah umat pilihan Tuhan yang bertujuan untuk memberi terang kepada orang-orang Arab dan juga seluruh dunia – jika mereka mengijinkan orang Yahudi menerangi mereka.

Mengetahui kebenaran ini telah mengubah cara berpikir saya dari menjadi seorang pengikut Muhammad dan yang mengidolakan Adolf Hitler menjadi seorang yang percaya kepada Yesus Kristus, dari mempercayai kebohongan menjadi mengenal kebenaran, dari sakit secara spiritual menjadi dipulihkan, dari hidup dalam gelap menjadi melihat terang, dari terkutuk menjadi diselamatkan, dari keraguan kepada iman, dari benci menjadi kasih, dari perbuatan-perbuatan jahat kepada anugerah Tuhan di dalam Kristus.
Inilah saya hari ini. Terpujilah Tuhan! Saya berharap dengan membaca kesaksian saya dan yang lainnya dalam buku ini anda mulai menyadari bahwa ada peperangan antara yang baik dan yang jahat, dan antara damai dengan terorisme, perselisihan antara kebebasan dan neo-fasisme. Sebagaimana yang saya katakan saya berbicara di Universitas Columbia: Hari ini saya berjuang untuk hak semua orang; saya berjuang untuk orang kulit hitam agar dibebaskan dari perbudakan, bagi orang Muslim agar bebas untuk bertobat kepada kekristenan, bagi orang-orang Yahudi yang menolak untuk menjadi Kristen, dan bagi orang-orang atheis untuk mendapatkan haknya menjadi orang atheis. Dan saya akan mati untuk hak kebebasan berbicara bagi semua orang di Amerika Serikat.

Walid Shoebat

Pendiri Yayasan Walid Shoebat

Pengarang Mengapa Saya Meninggalkan Jihad dan Mengapa Kami Ingin Membunuh Anda.

Link :

          The Meteorite Shower over Lebanon – a Russian Missile Launch?        
New information is surfacing regarding yesterday’s meteor shower over Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Israel/Palestine and Armenia. It seems as if the whole thing was not mother nature’s doing. Instead, it was mother Russia flexing its military muscles. This video shot in Syria shows the “meteorite” as following a spiral trajectory, which is not possible for a […]
          Palestinians May Be Philistines Since Lebanese DNA Is 93% Canaanite        
A week ago, the July 27th issue of National Geographic magazine reported is discovery indicating that 93% of the DNA of living Lebanese people is descended from ancient Canaanites who lived in 1700 BC in the ancient city of Sidon. Sidon exists today on the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon. These recently-discovered Canaanite skeletons were preserved […]
          How Quickly Can America Exit Iraq?        
Yes, the combat mission is over. Yes, U.S. forces don't necessarily have to do anything should intra-Iraqi violence spiral upwards again. But that doesn't mean that the U.S. can go home.

Hence, the question: If Iraq is the new Lebanon, will the United States play Syria?
          Re: JAmes PC Hays & Phoney C Hays         
I am Zipporah Hayes grandson. Here father was James PC Hayes, who married Mary Elie Martin. She called Jack Harris of Oglethorpe County, Georgia, "Granddaddy Harris." It appears Mary Elie's mother was a Harris. Do you know what Elizabeth Harris's relation was to Jack Harris, daughter, granddaughter, or if this connection is confirmed?

Tom and Zipporah Davis are buried next to Phoney and Mary Elie Hayes at Lebanon Methodist Church near Jefferson, Georgia. The family is a large one.
          Put An Herb In It: Lebanon's Fresh Approach To Beer And Cocktails        
The sun has very nearly set on Beirut, and in a bar called Anise, they're mixing the first cocktail of the evening.

There's vodka, vermouth and iced glasses.

          With Syria's Army Losing Ground, A Boost From Hezbollah         
The dirt roads on the border between Syria and Lebanon wind across a mountain range dotted with little wildflowers.

It's windswept and deserted except for a few hilltop outposts with clumps of gray tents, machine-gun nests and flags that fly the green and gold colors of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

These posts are new.

          A Wedding And A Challenge: Lebanese Couples Fight For Civil Marriage        
Like lots of young married couples, Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish love to show their wedding video. They go all misty-eyed remembering that day two years ago.

"Very beautiful," says Succariyeh. "Everything is nice."

Their wedding was special, not only as a personal milestone for the couple. It was a political milestone, as well.

Darwish says their union was a challenge to the state: It was Lebanon's first civil marriage.

No one ever said marriage was easy, but in Lebanon, it's even harder.

          Lebanon's Reality TV: Like The Kardashians, Only Less Serious        
The Abdelaziz sisters live in a world of pretty artifice. Alice, Nadine and Farah answer the door in a flurry of hellos while their fluffball dog Stella barks and tinkles the bells on her tiny collar.

They usually live in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, in a family home, but for the purposes of their new reality show, The Sisters, they reside in this apartment where green hillsides spill down from picture windows to the Mediterranean below.

"The view is amazing here," says Nadine, the middle sister.

          App Aims To Track Engrained Corruption In Lebanon        
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

          Homs, Syria: Assad Allies Charge Mossad, CIA, Blackwater Link        
International Business Times  March 8, 2012 The press agency of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement charged Wednesday that the CIA, Israel’s Mossad and private security firms have been exposed supporting Syrian rebels in Homs. Al-Manar, a channel linked to the Shi’ite militia Hezbollah — a close ally of the Assad regime in Syria — asserted that 700 […]
          Samir Bannout - Mr. Olympia - 1983        

Name: Samir Bannout
Born: Nov 7, 1955, Beirut, Lebanon
Nickname: The Lion of Lebanon.

Three months before Christmas 1983, Samir Bannout flexed his “decorated” lumbar region in Munich, West Germany, for the IFBB Mr. Olympia judges. Since then, the high definition found in a muscular lower back has been called a “Christmas tree”. Known as the “Lion of Lebanon” because of his birthplace (Beirut), Samir roared into America in 1974 and settled first in Detroit. In that city, he was crowned 1978 Mr. Michigan. In 1979, he won the Best in the World event and the light-heavyweight division of the IFBB World Amateur Champhips. The latter win bequeathed him an IFBB pro card, and he made his debut (also in 1979) at the Canada Pro Cup, by which time he had moved to Venice, California. Bannout’s IFBB pro career spanned 53 contests; his 11 attempts at the IFBB Mr. Olympia are a record among those who have won the title – as he did in 1983. His last win was the 1990 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Invitational, and the final sighting of Samir in contest mode was at the 1996 IFBB Masters Olympia where he finished in sixth place. His pro career had endured for 17 years. The Lion always was and still is renowned as one of bodybuilding’s more entertaining characters. His ability to mix quotes with poses never left the industry’s writers disappointed. In 1997 Samir married Randa, a young lady from Lebanon. Today, Samir lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children and pursues several business interests, including the marketing of a supplement company.
1996 Masters Olympia - 6th
1994 Grand Prix Spain - 12th
1994 Grand Prix Germany - 13th
1994 Grand Prix England - 15th
1993 San Jose Pro - 10th
1993 Ironman Pro - 13th
1989 Arnold Classic - 4th
1988 Mr. Olympia - 8th
1983 Mr. Olympia - 1st
1981 Mr. Olympia - 9th

Samir Bannout's official site:
          Fashion Design        
threeASFOUR Recognized as one of the most innovative fashion labels today, threeASFOUR was founded in New York City in 2005 by Gabriel Asfour, Angela Donhauser, and Adi Gil, who hail from Lebanon, Tajikistan, and Israel, respectively. Having worked together since 1998 (under the label AsFour), the trio uses fashion to promote the need for human...
          Student Unions in the UK explicitly appeasing fascism        
It's entirely logical.  The natural conclusion of the philosophy of post-modernist moral relativism, that refuses to apply moral judgment to those who engage in genocide, slavery and rape of women and children, incinerates prisoners of war, beheads those it simply dislikes (including children who do not submit to its religion) and kills men for being gay.  

For that is what University College London (student) Union has done, following on from the National Union of Students last year.  Brendan O'Neill in The Spectator writes more on what happened.  Basically, the Activities and Events Officer of UCLU (Asad Khan) said that a former student, who has fought with the Kurds in Syria to repel ISIS, could not talk about his experiences because "there are two sides and UCLU wants to avoid taking sides".

Moral relativism has hit its epitome in this act by Asad Khan.  I wonder if Mr Khan takes the same approach when confronted with any crimes.  Would he stop women talking about rape because "there are two sides"? Would someone talking about racist abuse be told that she couldn't talk without the alleged abuser being there because "there are two sides"?  I doubt it.  Asad Khan is a selective moral relativist, he only wants to appease mass murdering fascist religious fundamentalists who are explicitly sexist, racist, homophobic and touters of violence as the solution to any infringement.

NUS last year refused to approve a motion condemning ISIS because that would be "Islamophobic" and offensive.   As if this doesn't feed the belief of some that all Muslims are deep down supporters of the ideology and tactics of ISIS.

What this tells you is that student unions in the UK, which long have had remarkably selective morality about foreign affairs.  It goes without saying that for decades it rightly condemned apartheid, but never had anything to say about the slaughters of opponents by African dictatorships such as Robert Mugabe.  It's always been a friend of the Palestinians and opponent of Israel, but not so much the friend of the Iranian opposition to the regime.   In short, it has always been vehement against dictatorships and perceived oppression caused by the UK Government, the US, NATO member states or other Western regimes, but curiously quiet over any regimes that take on any of the above.   Standard far-left moral relativism which fits in perfectly with the current leader of the UK Labour Party.

Yet now, it should be abundantly clear to any students with a conscience, libertarian or even those who identify themselves as left-liberal (with the beliefs in secularism, free speech, feminism, LGBT rights), that the student union movement in the UK has now aligned itself with a far-left movement that is, at its core, fascist.

It's not that the student unions are completely amoral and relativist, demanding equal weight and time be given to all opinions on everything.   Like I said above, they would never take a stance on anything at that point, as all opinions are equally valid and it would be "disempowering" to take a stand which explicitly repudiates the views of others.  

No, they have views, it's just that the perspective that wins out, over everything, is fundamentally illiberal, intolerant and appeasing of fascism.  

A man who fought to protect civilians from violence, including murder, enslavement and women and children from rape, was not allowed to speak because those who would murder, enslave and rape deserve a hearing too.  What's that if not appeasement of fascism?

For that's what ISIS is, it is what the more "moderate" forms of Islamism (as seen in Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States) are.  Islamofascism.  This is what the mainstream of the British left now tolerates because it is what the Labour Party leader (and his acolytes) now express as their standard view

It is what journalist and former Labour Party member Nick Cohen described in The New Statesman:

the fact remains that the Labour party has just endorsed an apologist for Putin’s imperial aggression; a man who did not just appear on the propaganda channel of Russia, which invades its neighbours and persecutes gays, but also of Iran, whose hangmen actually execute gays. Labour’s new leader sees a moral equivalence between 9/11 and the assassination of bin Laden, and associates with every variety of women-hating, queer-bashing, Jew-baiting jihadi, holocaust denier and 9/11 truther. His supporters know it, but they don’t care.

For those of us who are libertarians, we are used to the far-left appeasing soft communist regimes like Venezuela, which harasses the opposition media, stacks the courts, wrecks the economy and blames it all on US imperialism.  We are used to the far-left demanding civil liberties, but seeking to take the majority of some people's income, and some of their assets, to control their entrepreneurial activities and even more lately, curtail their freedom of speech because it might cause "offence".

However, now the mainstream left appeases the very people who would impose a tyranny that would take all that it claims to care for back to the dark ages.

Even when some of them oppose ISIS, they are willing to appease a lesser tyranny (Bashar Assad) that drops chemical weapons and barrel bombs civilians, presumably because Assad is ideologically aligned to the left.  After all, the Assad hereditary dictatorship has long been aligned to the USSR (and now Russia), been anti-Western, has repeatedly occupied Lebanon, waged war against Israel and backed Hezbollah, and is now backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.  

This video from the BBC programme Daily Politics below reveals how Syrian opposition activists claim the self-styled (far left) "Stop The War Coalition" (which Jeremy Corbyn has long belonged to) has rallies against war in Syria to back the Assad dictatorship.  With a meeting chaired by Shadow International Aid Secretary Diane Abbott (a long standing hard-left Labour MP), "Stop the War"  refused to let any Syrians talk at a public meeting about "opposing war in Syria".

In essence, "Stop the War" coalition isn't opposed to war in Syria at all, simply opposed to Western intervention in the war.  As far as it is concerned, it doesn't want to know about the Assad regime bombing civilians and using chemical weapons, killing over 100,000, for it backs that side against both the small liberal opposition, and the wide swathe of Islamist opposition groups, including ISIS (but it doesn't support Western bombing of ISIS because the West can't do any good anywhere).

Hardly surprising, since mourner for the USSR and sycophant of multiple dictatorships, George Galloway, praised Bashar Assad:

I wouldn't be surprised if Galloway didn't seek to rejoin the Labour Party and become a candidate, presuming he loses his bid to be Mayor of London next year under his Islamofascist appeasing/Marxist RESPECT Party banner.

You'll find the same appeasement of Islamofascism in universities and increasingly the mainstream left all over the Western world, including the USA, Australia and New Zealand.  It is the banal end-result of combining identity politics (which deems all Muslims as "victims" deserving of special kid gloves treatment and tolerance, regardless of their own views) with the vacuous moral relativism of post-modernists philosophy (there being no such thing as objective reality or morality rooted in reason and values, just different cultural/identity perspectives).

In this environment, actual Islamofascists can shield themselves as being protected by those whose other values they despise.  Meanwhile, Muslims who seek to move towards more liberal values or apostate Muslims (who have converted to other religions or rejected religion) are largely ignored.  After all if you reject Islam, you're no longer a member of the oppressed identity.

In the 1930s, the far-left ignored and appeased Stalin, in the 1960s and 1970s it appeased Mao, today it appeases Islamofascism.  However today, the far-left IS the mainstream left.  In between patrolling language it considers racist, sexist and homophobic, it is providing succour for the most racist, sexist, homophobic band of terrorists seen in modern history.

It's time to call them out for what they are - appeasers and facilitators of fascism.

          Abandoning foreign policy now means Pax Rus - is it what you wanted?        
Whether it be left-wing activists of the so-called "peace" movement or libertarians who think that foreign policy should mean immediate withdrawal from the world, the recent events in Syria have demonstrated that when the USA, and with it the Western world, decides to withdraw from being involved in other countries, that others will fill the vacuum.

So it is that President Obama, who ridiculed Mick Romney's claim that Russia was a rising threat, has left the opponents of the Marxist/militarist hereditary dictatorship of Bashar Assad wide open to being attacked, by the air, by Vladimir Putin's unashamedly expansionist military.  

Dad and son, and their personality cult
Had Obama been true to the neutrality that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee had presumably rewarded him for "ex.ante", he would have said that there is no Western interest in what happens to Syria.  For indeed, his pitiful actions (a few airstrikes against Islamic State) have demonstrated not much above it.  In fact, I would have respected, if disagreed, with a position that replicates that of the nihilist libertarian isolationists who want the USA to withdraw from the world, and let Islamism grow, tyrants take over its friends and do nothing, until the first missile, bomber or terrorist controlled airliner strikes US soil (actually scrub that, for when the latter happens, even they think the response is NOT to attack those who harboured them).

If the so-called "land of the free" wants to withdraw from the world, then those of us who bear the consequences of that withdrawal better be prepared for the cost of this, but let's not pretend that the USA gives a damn about other peoples wanting to be lands of the free or escape tyranny.  That's their battle, and if others want to join in their oppression, don't pretend that it matters.

So to Syria.

Syria has been run by a brutal authoritarian dictatorship under the Ba'ath Party, under the Assad family since 1970.  It holds Soviet style "elections".  All press and media are firmly under the grip of the Party (or monitored by it for compliance), and any dissent is punished with imprisonment, and sometimes torture or summary execution.   The four secret police units have untrammelled authority to enter any property and detain anyone indefinitely, and use torture as necessary to frighten those said to be opponents or extract information from them.

The best that can be said is that Saddam Hussein was more brutal and erratic, but Bashar Assad and his psychopathic father Hafez, have run Syria under their jackboot for 45 years (although it is cold comfort that Bashar's elder brother, Basil, died in an accident before his father died.  Basil was as notorious as Uday Hussein).  The best that can be said is that, yes it is nominally secular, as religious minorities face no more oppression than anyone else, partly because the Assads are of the Alawite sect.  Alawites have done very well from the Assad dictatorship, other Syrians do well according to who they know and how well the pander to the regime.  By the way, the Assads were firm allies of the USSR in the Cold War, and so it continues under Russia.  Indeed, Syria is the only country outside Russia (notwithstanding the annexation of Crimea) to still have a Russian naval base.  

So Putin has decided to defend his friend.  His first victory was getting the US to accept Russian monitoring of Assad's dismantling of his chemical weapons arsenal, which is very much a farce.  Assad has been undertaking crude chemical attacks on rebel areas controlled by the Free Syrian Army and other non-Islamic State insurgents (some of which are Islamist, some who are not).  Assad has killed tens of thousands of civilians in rebel held areas by air attacks, including chemical attacks.  This has helped Islamic State recruit fighters, as young men whose families are killed by the Assad regime are easily seduced by the most well armed and funded opponents of the regime.

Remember Obama's red line?  That it was "unacceptable" for anyone to use chemical weapons to attack civilians?  Well it didn't exist.  The dated chemical weapons were withdrawn, but by no means have the stocks been destroyed.  Dictatorships have a funny way of not caring about rules set by someone else that are backed up by no force at all.

Meanwhile, the US (and the UK and others) have provided low level logistical and material support (if not military) to non-Islamist opponents to the Assad regime.  It is those opponents to Assad that Vladimir Putin is now directing over 95% of his airstrikes.  

Putin asserts his airstrikes are "legal" because they are authorised by the Assad regime, which strictly speaking in UN terms, is the "legitimate recognised government" of Syria.   This is correct in the same way that Kim Jong Un leads the "legitimate recognised government" of the DPRK, Idi Amin did the same for Uganda and Pol Pot for Cambodia.  It is the formal legitimacy asserted by tyrants.

Assad wants to put himself in the position of being the only opponent to Islamic State, so has Putin's help in wiping out the moderate opposition.  The allies of the West, and perhaps only hope of moving Syria to the sort of pluralism that is nascent in Lebanon, are now being systematically wiped out by Russia - and all the US does is express regrets and concern.   What surprise is there if opponents of Assad in Syria think that the only way is Islamic State?   For all of the talk about rights and freedom the truth is that the Obama Administration will do absolutely f-all to protect those that might offer a way with much less tyranny, let alone have a foreign policy with objectives.

So it is Pax Rus.

Assuming Obama continues along this line, Syria will become a binary game. The chemical weapon using tyrant Assad, and the stoneage expansionist eliminationists of Islamic State.  The US may think it doesn't pay any real price for letting Syria burn, but Europe is paying a price, as Syrians flee and as it is on the doorstep for Islamists willing to take on the West.  

Putin wants to be taken seriously internationally, and once the non-IS opposition is effectively wiped out, he can turn on Islamic State and be a hero.  Russia wont think twice about civilian casualties, it wont face domestic protests on any great scale against war, and of course the far-left "peace" movement in the West wont bat an eyelid, as it almost never protests military action by any regime other than a Western one, including Israel.

What could be different?

Well the US and its allies could start by accepting the invitation of the Iraqi government to use all means necessary to wipe out Islamic State from Iraq itself, to protect the Kurds, to help ensure Sunni Iraqis are protected and discouraged from joining Islamic State.  At the very least, the West owes Iraq protection from invasion.

However, for Syria it needs to have some clear objectives.  It could  have imposed a No-Fly Zone over Syria to stop the Assad regime from using chemical weapons and dropping barrel bombs, but that is impossible now.  What it should do is arm and protect the non-Islamist opposition and provide it with air support and make it clear to Russia that it is with it, in attacking Islamic State, but will not tolerate air strikes on areas governed by the Kurds or the Free Syrian Army.  It should take all steps necessary to wipe out Islamic State, which has eliminationist objectives towards the West, and following that establish a peace process to transition Syria away from rule by the Assad regime.

The problem is that this requires taking on Russia.  Obama (and Bush before him) refused to defend Georgia from Russian occupation, nor Ukraine, even when Russian backed rebels shot down a civilian airliner (but that was Malaysian, which was unimportant to the US).   Putin is currently facing tough economic times, which he is evading by spending literally US$1billion of reserves every month, to prop up pensions, the military and uneconomic industries.  He can afford to do this for perhaps two-three more years without having to implement serious levels of austerity.   However, if the price of oil remains below US$60 over that time, it will prove tougher.  Putin's actions smell of a leader seeking a distraction, in the hope of buying time until oil prices recover at a level appropriate for his kleptocracy. 

The odds that the US will take on Russia in Syria are small, because Obama has demonstrated no interest, at all, in taking any lead or keeping to his word with allies.  It is a policy of cynical withdrawal from the world.  A withdrawal that is dangerous to some of the US's allies, but also one that is fundamentally dishonest.

The choice is simple.  Either the US embraces the doctrine of Ron Paul, and openly decides that it is no longer interested in being a superpower or standing by previous commitments to allies, or it stands by its allies and has a positive, pro-active foreign policy based on its interests and those of its (true) allies.

While we all wait, enjoy "Pax" Rus, after all you're comfortably far away from the consequences of it all, aren't you?


          Tok Ku Paloh Al-Aidrus         

Tok Ku Paloh Al-Aidrus pejuang Islam dan bangsa Melayu

Oleh Wan Mohd. Shaghir Abdullah

Pahlawan Datuk Bahaman pernah meminta perlindungan daripada Tok Ku Paloh Al-Aidrus.

DALAM halaman Agama Utusan Malaysia keluaran Isnin lalu, nama Tok Ku Paloh ada disebutkan. Peranan penting ayah beliau, Saiyid Muhammad bin Saiyid Zainal Abidin al-Aidrus atau Tok Ku Tuan Besar di Terengganu, dilanjutkan pula oleh Tok Ku Paloh.

Beberapa riwayat tulisan yang terdahulu daripada ini, termasuk percakapan lisan, ada memperkatakan tentang sumbangan tersebut. Bagaimanapun, saya menemui beberapa dokumen yang menunjukkan Tok Ku Paloh bukan berpengaruh di Terengganu saja, tetapi juga di Patani.

Hubungan beliau sangat erat dengan Haji Wan Ismail bin Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani, iaitu Kadi Jambu. Walau bagaimanapun, Haji Wan Ismail al-Fathani (lahir 2 Jamadilawal 1304 H/27 Januari 1887 M) dari segi perbandingan umur adalah peringkat cucu kepada Tok Ku Paloh (lahir 1233 H/1818 M).

Tahun lahir Tok Ku Paloh itu sama dengan tahun lahir Syeikh Wan Muhammad Zain al-Fathani (lahir 1233 H/1817 M). Beliau ini ialah datuk kepada Haji Wan Ismail al-Fathani. Hubungan antara Haji Wan Ismail al-Fathani, Kadi Jambu, dengan Tok Ku Paloh hanyalah kesinambungan hubungan yang terjalin sejak zaman datuknya itu, dan meneruskan hubungan antara Tok Ku Paloh dengan ayah beliau, iaitu Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani.

Darah perjuangan Tok Ku Paloh dalam memperjuangkan Islam dan bangsa Melayu tidak dapat dinafikan mempunyai kesan tersendiri dalam tubuh Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani. Isu kemaslahatan Islam dan bangsa Melayu yang menghadapi pelbagai masalah penjajah pada zaman itu perlu dilihat dalam konteks hubungan antara Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani, Tok Ku Paloh dan Sultan Zainal Abidin III, Terengganu.

Tok Ku Paloh dirahmati berumur panjang. Beliau meninggal dunia pada bulan Zulhijjah 1335 H/September 1917 M. Bererti ketika meninggal dunia Tok Ku Paloh berusia sekitar 102 tahun menurut perhitungan tahun hijrah atau 100 tahun menurut tahun masihi.

Nama penuh beliau ialah Saiyid Abdur Rahman bin Saiyid Muhammad bin Saiyid Zainal Abidin al-Aidrus. Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus mempunyai beberapa nama gelaran, yang paling popular ialah Tok Ku Paloh. Gelaran lain ialah Engku Saiyid Paloh, Engku Cik, Tuan Cik dan Syaikh al-Islam Terengganu. Tok Ku Paloh mempunyai beberapa orang adik-beradik. Ada yang seibu sebapa dan ada juga yang berlainan ibu. Adik-beradik kandung Tok Ku Paloh ialah Saiyid Zainal Abidin al-Aidrus yang digelar dengan Engku Saiyid Seri Perdana, Saiyid Ahmad al-Aidrus digelar Tok Ku Tuan Ngah Seberang Baruh dan Saiyid Mustafa al-Aidrus yang digelar Tok Ku Tuan Dalam.

Beliau ialah seorang ulama dan Ahli Majlis Mesyuarat Negeri semasa pemerintahan Sultan Zainal Abidin III. Adik-beradiknya selain yang disebut itu ialah Tuan Embung Abu Bakar atau digelar dengan nama Tuan Embung Solok atau Tok Ku Tuan Kecik, Tuan Nik (Senik). Antara nama-nama tersebut, ramai yang memegang peranan penting dalam Kerajaan Terengganu tetapi nama yang paling masyhur ialah Tok Ku Paloh.


Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus atau Tok Ku Paloh berketurunan ‘Saiyid’. Oleh itu sudah menjadi tradisi keturunan itu untuk lebih mengutamakan usaha mempelajari ilmu-ilmu daripada orang yang terdekat dengan mereka. Ayah beliau, Saiyid Muhammad al-Aidrus atau Tok Ku Tuan Besar, pula merupakan seorang ulama besar yang mempunyai kedudukan tertinggi dalam urusan Islam di Terengganu. Dapat dipastikan Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus telah belajar pelbagai bidang ilmu daripada orang tuanya sendiri.

Hampir semua orang yang menjadi ulama di Terengganu pada zaman itu memperoleh ilmu melalui jalur daripada ulama-ulama yang berasal dari Patani. Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus, selain belajar daripada ayahnya, juga berguru dengan Syeikh Wan Abdullah bin Muhammad Amin al-Fathani atau Tok Syeikh Duyung (lihat Utusan Malaysia, Isnin, 6 Mac 2006).

Saiyid Muhammad al-Aidrus atau Tok Ku Tuan Besar dan Tok Syeikh Duyung bersahabat baik dan sama-sama belajar daripada Syeikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdur Rahim al-Fathani di Bukit Bayas, Terengganu. Mereka juga sama-sama belajar dengan Syeikh Daud bin Abdullah al-Fathani di Mekah.

Dalam artikel ini saya terpaksa menjawab satu e-mel dari Brunei Darussalam yang bertanyakan apakah Syeikh Daud bin Abdullah al-Fathani berketurunan Nabi Muhammad s.a.w.? Sepanjang dokumen yang ditemui ada tulisan meletakkan nama ‘Wan’ pada awal nama beliau. Ada saudara pupu saya di Mekah memberi maklumat bahawa beliau menemui satu catatan Syeikh Ismail al-Fathani (Pak De ‘El al-Fathani) bahawa ulama Patani itu juga berketurunan marga ‘al-Aidrus’.

Sejak dulu saya mengetahui ada catatan lain menyebut hal yang sama bahawa Syeikh Daud bin Abdullah al-Fathani dan Syeikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdur Rahim al-Fathani di Bukit Bayas, Terengganu juga termasuk marga ‘al-Aidrus’. Dengan keterangan ini bererti antara ulama Patani dengan ulama Terengganu yang diriwayatkan ini selain ada hubungan keilmuan mereka juga ada perhubungan nasab.


Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus (Tok Ku Paloh) melanjutkan pelajarannya di Mekah. Di sana beliau bersahabat dengan Syeikh Muhammad Zain bin Mustafa al-Fathani, Syeikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdur Rahman al-Fathani, Syeikh Nawawi al-Bantani, Syeikh Nik Mat Kecik al-Fathani (kelahiran Sungai Duyung Kecil, Terengganu) dan ramai lagi. Antara orang yang menjadi guru mereka di Mekah ialah Saiyid Ahmad bin Zaini Dahlan dan Syeikh Muhammad bin Sulaiman Hasbullah al-Makki.

Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus setelah pulang dari Mekah memusatkan aktivitinya di Kampung Paloh, Terengganu. Menurut Muhammad Abu Bakar, Kampung Paloh didatangi orang daripada pelbagai jurusan, bukan saja dari sekitar Kuala Terengganu, tetapi juga dari Kelantan, Pahang dan Patani (Ulama Terengganu, hlm. 181). Diriwayatkan bahawa salah seorang murid Tok Ku Paloh ialah Sultan Zainal Abidin III. Riwayat lain pula mengatakan antara muridnya yang terkenal dan menjadi pejuang antipenjajah ialah Haji Abdur Rahman Limbung dan Tok Janggut.

Tok Ku Paloh ialah ulama yang tidak takut menanggung risiko tinggi dalam perjuangan demi mempertahankan Islam dan bangsa Melayu. Beliau melindungi pejuang-pejuang Islam dan Melayu yang bermusuh dengan penjajah Inggeris pada zaman itu. Semangat jihadnya sungguh indah, menarik dan ada hembusan segar seperti yang diriwayatkan oleh Muhammad Abu Bakar.

Katanya: “Dalam Perang Pahang, penentang-penentang British yang dipimpin oleh Datuk Bahaman, Tok Gajah dan Mat Kilau hampir-hampir menyerah diri setelah mengalami tekanan daripada kerajaan.

“ Pada Mei 1894, mereka menghubungi Tok Ku Paloh, dan mendapat simpati daripada ulama tersebut. Ini bukan sahaja memberi nafas baru kepada perjuangan mereka, tetapi mereka juga diberi perlindungan di Paloh serta diajar ilmu untuk menentang musuh mereka di Pahang. Hugh Clifford dalam pemerhatiannya mengatakan Tok Ku Paloh telah menyeru pahlawan-pahlawan itu melancarkan perang jihad.

“Hasil semangat baru yang diperoleh daripada Tok Ku Paloh, serta penambahan kekuatan, pasukan pahlawan menjadi lebih besar dan tersusun.” (Ulama Terengganu, hlm. 184)

Daripada riwayat ini, kita dapat mengambil iktibar berdasarkan peristiwa dunia terkini bahawa ramai tokoh Islam menjadi pejuang Islam dan bangsanya, dan ramai pula yang menjadi pengkhianat. Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestin dan Lebanon menjadi sasaran bom yang dilancarkan oleh bangsa-bangsa bukan Islam. Ada ramai pejuang Islam di sana. Pengkhianat pun banyak. Bangsa kita, bangsa Melayu yang beragama Islam, patut mencontohi perjuangan bijak Tok Ku Paloh. Janganlah ada manusia Melayu yang khianat terhadap agama Islam dan bangsanya.

Tok Ku Paloh sangat berpengaruh terhadap murid dan saudara ipar beliau iaitu Sultan Zainal Abidin III. Beberapa pandangan dan nasihat Tok Ku Paloh kepada Sultan Zainal Abidin III tentang pentadbiran kerajaan banyak persamaan dengan surat-surat dan puisi Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani kepada Sultan Terengganu itu. Semasa Tok Ku Paloh dan Sultan Zainal Abidin III masih hidup, Inggeris tidak berhasil mencampuri pentadbiran negeri Terengganu.

Tok Ku Paloh wafat pada bulan Zulhijjah 1335 H/September 1917 M dan Sultan Zainal Abidin III mangkat pada 22 Safar 1337 H/26 November 1918 M. Sesudah itu, tepat pada 24 Mei 1919 M barulah Inggeris dapat mencampuri kerajaan Terengganu.


Ahli sejarah, Datuk Misbaha ada menyebut bahawa risalah ‘Uqud ad-Durratain adalah karya Tok Ku Tuan Besar, berdasarkan cetakan tahun 1950 oleh ahli-ahli Al-Khair dan cetakan pada tahun 1978 oleh Yayasan Islam Terengganu (Pesaka, hlm. 91). Tetapi pada cetakan yang jauh lebih awal berupa selembaran dalam ukuran besar yang diberi judul Dhiya’ ‘Uqud ad-Durratain, ia merupakan karya Tok Ku Paloh. Tertulis pada cetakan itu, “Telah mengeluar dan mengecapkan terjemah ini oleh kita as-Saiyid Abdur Rahman bin Muhammad bin Zain bin Husein bin Mustafa al-Aidrus….”

Di bawah doa dalam risalah itu dinyatakan kalimat, “Tiada dibenarkan sekali-kali siapa-siapa mengecapkan terjemah ini melainkan dengan izin Muallifnya dan Multazimnya Ismail Fathani. Tercap kepada 22 Ramadan sanah 1335 (bersamaan dengan 11 Julai 1917 M).”

Yang dimaksudkan Ismail Fathani pada kalimat ini ialah Kadi Haji Wan Ismail bin Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani. Risalah cetakan ini saya terima daripada salah seorang murid Haji Wan Ismail Fathani.

Beliau menjelaskan bahawa risalah itu diajarkan di Jambu, Patani secara hafalan. Orang yang menyerahkan risalah itu bernama Nik Wan Halimah yang berusia lebih kurang 78 tahun (Oktober 2000). Ketika beliau menyerahkan risalah itu kepada saya, beliau masih hafal apa yang termaktub dalam risalah itu.

Kemuncak penulisan Tok Ku Paloh yang sering diperkatakan orang ialah kitab yang diberi judul Ma’arij al-Lahfan. Sungguhpun kitab ini sangat terkenal dalam kalangan masyarakat sufi sekitar Terengganu, Kelantan dan Pahang namun ia belum dijumpai dalam bentuk cetakan.

Saya hanya sempat membaca tiga buah salinan manuskrip kitab itu. Ilmu yang terkandung di dalamnya adalah mengenai tasawuf.

Sebagaimana telah disebutkan, Tok Ku Paloh ialah seorang pejuang Islam dan bangsa. Beliau ialah penganut Thariqat Naqsyabandiyah.

Antara anak Tokku Paloh ialah Saiyid Aqil bin Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus. Beliau inilah yang bertanggungjawab mentashhih dan menerbitkan kitab nazam Kanz al-Ula karya datuknya, Tok Ku Tuan Besar, terbitan Mathba’ah al-Ahliyah Terengganu, 1347 H.

sumber :

Syahadat Tokku

Merupakan perincian maksud Dua Kalimah Shahadat

Selaku pembawa amalan Tareqat Naqsyabandiah, Tukku Paloh terkenal sebagai orang yang kuat mengamalkan zikir2 yang disusun oleh Syeikh Bahauddin, Syeikhul Tareqat Naqsyabandiah yang susur galurnya sampai kepada Sayidina Abu Bakar As Siddiq [makam Syeikh Bahauddin terdapat di Uzbekistan]. Begitu pula dengan amalan ibadah yang asas seperti sembahyang, puasa dan membaca Al Quran dan lain2 amalan sunat. Dengan kata lain Tukku Paloh sangat warak dan berhalus dalam beribadah.Selain mengamalkan zikir Tareqat Naqsyabandiah secara istiqamah, Tukku Paloh juga mengamalkan dan mengembangkan amalan yang disusun oleh ayahnya iaitu ‘Syahadat Tukku’. Amalan ini terus popular dan hingga kini masih diamalkan di banyak tempat di negeri Terengganu secara berjemaah dan bersendirian.Syahadat Tukku ini diwariskan kepada murid2nya. Pengikut kanan beliau Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong mengembangkan amalan ini kepada murid2 dan anak cucunya pula. Ini diakui oleh Pak Cik Ali Haji Yusof, cicit Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong. Beliau berkata, “Saya dapat mengamalkan syahadat ini semasa datuk [menantu Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong] dan ayah saya lagi.”Menurut beliau, amalan itu masih kekal sebagaimana dilakukan pada zaman Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong iaitu bermula dengan ratib Al Hadad dan diakhiri dengan Syahadat Tukku, sekali-sekala disusuli dengan burdah pula.
Syahadat Tukku dituduh SESAT!

Amalan Syahadat Tukku ini pernah menjadi kontroversi apabila salah seorang pembawa amalan ini dihadapkan ke mahkamah kerana dituduh sesat. Peristiwa ini berlaku kepada Tuan Hj. Hussein Hj. Mat yang mengembangkan amalan ini di Kampung Gong Ubi Keling, Besut di mana dalam masa yang singkat saja sudah meriah dengan ramai pengikut.Tuan Hj. Hussein tidak menolak kemungkinan tidakan yang dikenakan ke atas dirinya itu didorong oleh iri hati dan hasad dengki orang2 tertentu kerana surau yang baru beliau bangunkan lebih meriah berbanding dengan surau2 lain. Mereka mendesak pihak berkuasa mengambil tindakan ke atas beliau atas alasan yang batil dan fitnah.Mengenang peristiwa pahit yang berlaku pada sekitar tahun1950 itu, Hj. Hussein bercerita :“Hampir seribu orang yang berada di Mahkamah Kadhi Besut untuk mendengar keputusan perbicaraan saya yang dituduh sesat kerana mengamalkan Syahadat Tukku ini.”Orang ramai nampak cemas kerana peristiwa ini besar dan kali pertama berlaku di Besut. Menurut Hj. Hussein sewaktu perbicaraan, beliau disuruh membaca segala amalan yang diamalkannya selama ini. “Saya pun membaca habis satu persatu bermula dengan ratib Al Hadad, Burdah dan akhirnya Syahadat Tukku. Selesai saya membaca semuanya, Hakim Cik Awing yang juga Kadhi Besut itu berkata ; ‘Apa yang Tuan Hj. baca itu ada pada saya.’“Rupa2nya Tuan Hakim Cik Awing juga mengamalkan ratib Al Hadad dan Syahadat Tukku.“Kemudian saya dibebaskan tanpa sebarang tindakan yang dikenakan malah nampaknya tuan hakim itu pula yang seolah2nya mengalakkan amalan ini diteruskan. Mendengarkan keputusan yang benar itu maka orang ramai di luar mahkamah turut bersyukur dan ada yang menitiskan air mata gembira,” cerita Hj. Hussein lagi.Sehingga kini Hj. Hussein terus mengamalkan Syahadat Tukku bersama2 sahabat2nya, amalan pada setengah orang jahil dikatakan ‘syhadat tambahan’.Syahadat Tukku yang disusun oleh wali Allah itu terus popular di kalangan orang yang arif di banyak tempat dalam negeri Terengganu. Amalan yang menjelaskan unsur2 tauhid dan pembersihan hati yang amat diperlukan oleh seorang hamba terhadap Tuhannya, ALLAH SWT.
          menyantuni DR . SHEIKH ASH-SHARIF TAREK dari LEBANON ( LUBNAN )        

          Ã€ l’approche de l’hiver, la conférence de Berlin sur la crise des réfugiés syriens doit apporter une réponse à la mesure des besoins        
Engineer adjusting hot water tanks in Lebanon. Photo: Francesca Pini, Oxfam Italia

Blog: À l’approche de l’hiver, la conférence de Berlin sur la crise des réfugiés syriens doit apporter une réponse à la mesure des besoins

Après bientôt quatre ans de conflit en Syrie, l’impact de la crise sur l’économie, les infrastructures et les systèmes d’éducation et de santé des pays voisins, est palpable. La communauté internationale doit réagir.

          Comment on Bungled again: Israel and Goldstone by Walter Reich        
In focusing on the changed nature of war in our time, Alan Dowty <a href="" rel="nofollow">puts his finger</a> on one of the central dilemmas facing not only Israel but also all states that attempt to defend their citizens. In many arenas of conflict, especially in the Middle East, military forces deliberately fight from zones of civilian habitation. They routinely use as staging areas places that, traditionally, are off-limits to military responses or other actions: hospitals, schools and mosques. These forces also routinely make sure that civilians are in the area from which they are firing their rockets or other weapons—either by inviting those civilians to be there or forcing them to be there—in order to protect themselves from return fire by armies that are reluctant to hurt civilians. These military forces understand that the media war is often immensely more important than the ground war, and that photos of attacks on hospitals, holy places or schools, attacks on fighters dressed as civilians and especially attacks on actual civilians provoke worldwide condemnation and mobilize widespread sympathy for the enemy cause. No traditional military forces or coalition of forces—not U.S. forces, not NATO forces and not Israeli forces—have managed to find a way to cope with this now-common form of warfare. Dowty notes the damage caused to Israel by that country's decision to not cooperate with the Goldstone investigation. He refers to the comments by a number of Israeli jurists who have also felt that Israel should have cooperated with the investigation and should have provided the kind of testimony and evidence that Ambassador Dore Gold presented in his <a href="" rel="nofollow">debate</a> with Richard Goldstone at Brandeis University on November 5—evidence that, in the debate, Goldstone said he regretted not having seen. So should Israel have cooperated with the Goldstone investigation? I don't think the answer is so simple. If one looks at it as some Israeli officials looked at it at the time the investigation was launched, it's not surprising that they decided to boycott it. The UN Human Rights Council, and the United Nations itself, has shown itself to be implacably focused on using every opportunity to batter Israel. It doesn't fail to condemn that country even as it ignores massive violations of human rights by other countries, including the members of the Council itself. The outcome seemed inevitable, and probably was. Richard Goldstone is, no doubt, a decent and honest person, but he was, in my judgment, either naïve or foolishly over-confident when he seems to have convinced himself that he could carry out an investigation or issue a report that would not become, inevitably, a political cudgel against Israel. In retrospect, however, the Goldstone report—and the uses to which it has been put and will continue to be put—has done so much damage to Israel that my sense is that Israel should have cooperated with it despite the inevitable outcome. I don't think the result, in terms of public opprobrium, would have been worse—and, in this case, might have been better. The larger question, I think, has to do with future repetitions of this kind situation. It will surely happen again. It happened when Israel fought Hezbollah in Lebanon, which fired rockets from schools and other civilian zones, and stored them there—and, should it fight another war with Israel, will do so again. And it happens in other theaters of fighting in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, where it's not Israel that has to decide how to contend with this problem but other powers. Should such forces—American, NATO, Israeli—cooperate with investigations of such incidents, even if the investigation is almost certain, for political reasons, to find them guilty? No situation repeats itself exactly. The next time it won't be Richard Goldstone but someone else who will head the investigation. The certainty of an unjust outcome may be even greater. Still, I suspect that it would be best to cooperate—even as it continues to be necessary to fight an enemy part of whose military strategy is to hide behind civilian shields. This is indeed the new face of war, and countries, even as they do everything possible to limit civilian casualties to a minimum, must find ways of defending themselves, their interests and especially their citizens. In his November 5 debate with Dore Gold, Richard Goldstone seemed at a loss as to what would have constituted a "proportionate" response on the part of Israel. The definition of "proportionality" he had in mind seemed to make no sense in military terms. If a country, confronted with the challenge of this kind of warfare, concludes that it just can't fight, then that country will be unable to defend itself. In the case of Israel, such a decision would result in its destruction. It, and other countries facing this dilemma, will have to devise, in response to this new face of war, a new way of dealing with it—one that enables it to defend itself even as it minimizes, to the extent possible, civilian casualties. <i><a href="" rel="nofollow">Walter Reich</a> is a member of MESH.</i>
          Comment on Normal peace? by Steven A. Cook        
When "<a href="" rel="nofollow">L'Affaire Hala</a>" broke a number of weeks ago, it was hard to be surprised. The Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate along with their brethren in the Writers Union and other professionals in the arts, culture, and sciences have long held the line against contacts with Israelis. The assassination of Ali Salem's integrity and character as a result of his visits to Israel beginning in 1994 are well known. Egypt's journalists and writers are hardly a monolithic lot, but the syndicates have been effective enforcers of the no-contact code. As Hala Mustafa is finding out the hard way, there are serious professional hazards from even a mere courtesy call with an Israeli. To be fair, Hala's colleagues within the Journalists' Syndicate are not whipping up outrage over nothing. To many in Egypt, the peace with Israel is shameful because it is a separate peace, having abandoned the Palestinians to fend for themselves in what is anything but a fair fight against the mighty IDF and the resources of the state of Israel. Over the course of the 30 years since Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin inked the peace treaty, Israel invaded Lebanon (a couple of times), poured hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers into the West Bank and Gaza Strip (until the withdrawal from the latter in 2005), imprisoned tens of thousands of Palestinians (including women and children), and killed untold numbers. All the while, Egyptian sat on the sidelines and did very little other than "strongly condemn" or "refer to the United Nations," while continuing to host Israeli leaders in Cairo or Sharm el Sheikh. When President Hosni Mubarak recalled his longtime ambassador to Israel, Mohammed Bassiouny, in protest over Israel's handling of the al-Aqsa Intifada it was a big deal, but the peace treaty was never in jeopardy. Yet, even if we stipulate that Egyptians have every right to hate Israelis, shouldn't it be up to Hala to decide whom she entertains in her office? I don't hold a brief for Hala. I know her, but not well. I've <a href="" rel="nofollow">written</a> about her journal in <i>Foreign Policy</i>'s "Global Newsstand." I have heard her say some wacky things like her call for secularization of the Arab world along the lines of Mustafa Kemal's reforms in Turkey in the 1920s, but we've all written and said things that weren't necessarily analytically sound. My point is, regardless of how one feels about Hala and her work, there is a principle here. The journalists and writers who have attacked Hala are, I am told, at the forefront of agitating for personal and political freedom in Egypt. Yet, in enforcing a code of "no normalization," they are in effect doing the bidding of a regime they ostensibly revile. They may not like what she has done, but whether she meets with Shalom Cohen, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Yossi Bellin, Tzip Livni or Zohan Dvir should be left to Hala's professional judgment and her own conscience. Of course, being perceived to play into the regime's double game on Israel is no doubt not a reason for Egypt's intellectuals to meet with Israelis. After all, many who support democracy in Egypt believe that a government more responsive to its citizens will be better equipped to resist the predatory policies of Israel and the United States. Still, this boycott thing seems to have gone a bit beyond reason. Writing in <i>al-Masri al-Yawm</i>, Ammar Ali Hassan called Hala's meeting with Ambassador Cohen "a crime." Others have been equally nasty and overwrought in their condemnations of Hala. It's all a bit over the top. The whole sad episode is rather revealing of the state of journalism in Egypt and, as Fouad Ajami might say, of "Egypt's men and women of letters." To be sure, there have been some bright spots in the last five years or so. The launch of <i>al-Masri al-Yawm</i> in 2004, despite Ammar Ali Hassan's diatribe referenced above, the work of <i>al-Dustur</i> and a variety of other publications, as well as the hard work of any number of bloggers have successfully altered the prevailing political discourse in Egypt in a variety of positive ways. For example, despite the regime's effort to embed their notions of "stability and development" in the Egyptian population, many are focused on reform and change instead, thanks in part to Egypt's journalists. That said, there is a sense that the Egyptian media is falling behind it peers elsewhere in the region. Whereas <i>al-Ahram</i> (which Lebanese Christians founded) and other Egyptian publications once were serious publications, they are now for the most part tendentious, predictable, and entirely uninteresting. Much of this, of course, has to do with the authoritarian political system in which Egypt's journalists must operate, but the fault does not lie entirely with President Mubarak and his colleagues. A number of years ago, the State Department dragooned me into a two-week tour of Egypt and Saudi Arabia to discuss U.S. Middle East policy. I did the rounds in Cairo and then headed off to Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dhahran. Somewhere along the way I came to a stunning conclusion: The Saudi journalists, writers, and academics seemed far more sophisticated, worldly, well-read, and willing to wrestle with alternative ideas than the Egyptians. I got my fair share of Saudi conspiracy mongering about the "Jewish lobby" and how Washington wanted to replace Saudi Arabia with Iran as its primary interlocutor in the Gulf, but I was on the receiving end of similar ideas and much more in Cairo. The Saudis, like their Egyptian counterparts, are forced to operate in an authoritarian environment, yet in comparison they seem enlightened. After Egyptian journalists and writers are finished devouring one of their own over a boycott that has done absolutely nothing to advance the Palestinian cause, they might want to investigate why collectively they have become little more than a second rate sideshow in a region bursting with journalistic activity. <i><a href="" rel="nofollow">Steven A. Cook</a> is a member of MESH.</i>
          Comment on Afghan Hezbollah? Be careful what you wish for by Tony Badran        
It might be useful to pinpoint the intellectual sources of the inaccurate <a href="" rel="nofollow">analogy</a> between Hezbollah and the Taliban. While we cannot say for sure, the views attributed to "White House advisers" in the <i>Washington Post</i> report sound familiar. Similar views have been expressed by the White House counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. In a 2008 <a href="" rel="nofollow">essay</a> entitled "The Conundrum of Iran: Strengthening Moderates without Acquiescing to Belligerence," Brennan wrote the following regarding Hezbollah: <blockquote>It is similarly foolhardy to believe that Hezbollah will not remain a potent political force within Lebanon for many years to come, as the organization has strong support within the Lebanese Shia community and well-established political and social welfare credentials throughout the country. Hezbollah's growing paramilitary strength and political and social resiliency were clearly demonstrated in 2006, when Israel showed a remarkable inability to inflict strategic damage on Hezbollah despite a major military campaign to do so. It would not be foolhardy, however, for the United States to tolerate, and even to encourage, greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon's political system, a process that is subject to Iranian influence. Hezbollah is already represented in the Lebanese parliament and its members have previously served in the Lebanese cabinet, reflections of Hezbollah's interest in shaping Lebanon's political future from within government institutions. This political involvement is a far cry from Hezbollah's genesis as solely a terrorist organization dedicated to murder, kidnapping, and violence. Not coincidentally, the evolution of Hezbollah into a fully vested player in the Lebanese political system has been accompanied by a marked reduction in terrorist attacks carried out by the organization. The best hope for maintaining this trend and for reducing the influence of violent extremists within the organization—as well as the influence of extremist Iranian officials who view Hezbollah primarily as a pawn of Tehran—is to increase Hezbollah's stake in Lebanon's struggling democratic processes. Because Israel views Hezbollah as a serious and lethal adversary, this will not be an easy sell. Washington will need to convince Israeli officials that they must abandon their aim of eliminating Hezbollah as a political force. This previously employed Israeli strategy did not work with the PLO and Fatah, and Israeli officials have adapted to the reality of engaging in political dialogue and negotiations with Palestinians formerly branded as "terrorists." A similar change must take place within the minds of Israeli government officials in regard to Hezbollah. One way to help effect this change would be if Iran were willing to press Hezbollah to cease its attacks against civilian targets and to declare so publicly. While insufficient to satisfy many Israelis who view Hezbollah as a serious military threat, it would be a positive first step.</blockquote> More recently, Brennan briefly made headlines for essentially reiterating this argument at a talk he gave at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in early August. Brennan's comments came in <a href="" rel="nofollow">response</a> to a question by <i>The Nation</i> correspondent, Robert Dreyfuss, whether the United States should start talking to organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban. Brennan focused most on Hezbollah and painted a remarkable picture of the group: <blockquote>Hezbollah started out as purely a terrorist organization back in the early '80s and has evolved significantly over time. And now it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hezbollah organization. However, within Hezbollah, there's still a terrorist core. And hopefully those elements within the Shia community in Lebanon and within Hezbollah at large—they're going to continue to look at that extremist terrorist core as being something that is anathema to what, in fact, they're trying to accomplish in terms of their aspirations about being part of the political process in Lebanon. And so, quite frankly, I'm pleased to see that a lot of Hezbollah individuals are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism and violence and are trying to participate in the political process in a very legitimate fashion.</blockquote> Whether or not Brennan was the source for the <i>Washington Post</i> report, one can detect the similarity of the viewpoints that are evidently, as per the <i>WaPo</i> report, being raised by "some White House advisers." The main points of the argument are familiar to anyone who's kept up with the scholarly <a href="" rel="nofollow">literature</a> on Hezbollah, especially the proponents of the so-called "Lebanonization" theory, chief among whom is Augustus Richard Norton. This view holds that Hezbollah has "evolved" from a terrorist group into a mainstream political party. In order to sustain this argument, its proponents have often resorted to distancing Hezbollah from terrorist activity dating after its involvement in Lebanese politics, or, at the very least, minimizing it. This had been the norm in Hezbollah scholarship prior to the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in February 2008. Brennan does the same in his 2008 article, claiming rather remarkably, that "the evolution" of Hezbollah into a political player was simultaneous with "a marked reduction in terrorist attacks carried out by the organization." Moreover, "increasing Hezbollah's stake" in the Lebanese political process has had no effect on Hezbollah's military operations, as evident form their involvement in Iraq, and Yemen, Egypt and Azerbaijan (as noted by Matt Levitt in his post). However, what's more problematic is the definition of "political participation." Hezbollah has made a mockery of Lebanon's constitution and parliamentary political traditions. Needless to say, the idea of a sectarian group with an arsenal that rivals that of an army, and with external foreign connections and networks, "participating in politics in a tightly balanced sectarian society" is itself an absurdity. Furthermore, those who make this argument miss the point of Hezbollah's political participation: it is precisely in order to protect its military autonomy. This was articulated by a Hezbollah spokesman in a 2007 interview with the International Crisis Group: "Paradoxically, some want us to get involved in the political process in order to neutralise us. In fact, we intend to get involved—but precisely in order to protect the strategic choice of resistance." Hezbollah has used its weapons in order to bend the political system to fit its agenda and has intimidated its political rivals by force of arms. As the author of the ICG <a href="" rel="nofollow">report</a>, Patrick Haenni, put it: "Hezbollah realized that they had [to be internally involved to a greater extent], but the issue was still to secure their weapons.... Hezbollah has a real interest in making the state part of its global project." The flawed understanding of the nature of Hezbollah has led people like Brennan to posit the existence of various "wings" in Hezbollah: "extremists" vs. "moderates" and those who supposedly "renounce terrorism" vs. those who support it. While this illusory categorization has not been translated into U.S. policy, it has, alas, become British policy. Ironically, Hezbollah officials have publicly mocked this kind of artificial dichotomies. This fundamental misunderstanding of the group is captured in the wording of the <i>Washington Post</i> report, which described Hezbollah as "the armed Lebanese political movement." That has it backwards. To quote Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh, Hezbollah is "first and foremost a jihadi movement that engages in politics, and not a political party that conducts jihad." One must qualify that further by adding what Na'im Qassem wrote in his book, that the jurisprudent (<i>al-wali al-faqih</i>)—i.e., Iran's Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei—"alone possesses the authority to decide war and peace," and matters of jihad. Therefore, in effect Hezbollah is a light infantry division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. That's not the kind of model the US wants to see in Afghanistan. <i><a href="" rel="nofollow">Tony Badran</a> is research fellow with the Center for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.</i>
          Dispatch From Beirut        

If civil war breaks out in Lebanon in the coming months, Aldo Khoury will be able to say that he fought in one of its opening battles. Since Dec. 1, 2006, Khoury has lived in a soiled tent at the center of the Hezbollah-led occupation of downtown Beirut. One morning this January, on a day that came to be known as "Black Tuesday," he drove with several of his camp-mates to a traffic circle on the outskirts of the city. They set up a ramshackle barricade and, as a show of strength against the U.S.-backed government, resolved to paralyze Beirut. But within a few hours, supporters of the government arrived to break up the roadblock, setting off a daylong street fight. The torched cars, shattered storefronts, and rooftop snipers evoked memories of Lebanon's last civil war and prompted a flurry of dark warnings of a return to violence.

When I asked him about the skirmish three weeks later, Khoury condemned his adversaries as warmongering militants. "They have a history of bloodshed," he said. "These are the criminals that America and Israel hide behind." We were sitting in the downtown encampment, surrounded by Hezbollah flags and small clusters of protesters smoking hookahs. Khoury had a pistol in the waist of his pants. "They started the fight with us because they don't care if there is civil war," he said. "It's what they want, and we have to be ready."

These were not the words of a Shiite denouncing a Sunni, despite all the talk of mounting tensions between Muslim sects in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East. Khoury is a Maronite Christian. The men facing him across the barricades last month were also Maronite Christians. The current political standoff has split their community apart—and however inscrutable the internecine feuds may seem, they could prove to be the flashpoint for a broader conflict. The situation is particularly ominous because today's main Christian antagonists—Gen. Michel Aoun, a former army commander, and Samir Geagea, the leader of a militia-turned-political-party called the Lebanese Forces —have a bitter history of confrontation. In the final years of the 1975-90 civil wars, Geagea's Lebanese Forces and the last remnants of the Aoun-led army massacred each other in the mountains above Beirut in some of the bloodiest battles Lebanon had seen. For most of the subsequent 15 years of Syrian control, both were absent from the political scene. Geagea was thrown in jail. Aoun went into exile in France. Their followers lived, as one Aounist put it, "in a gloom, a decline, without a true leader to represent or fight for us." But soon after the "cedar revolution" that drove Syrian troops out of Lebanon two years ago, Aoun and Geagea came crashing back.

It was not long before Aoun and Geagea had resumed their hostile poses. The Lebanese Forces became the key Christian player in the new Sunni-dominated, pro-Western government—known as the "March 14" government, after the massive anti-Syrian protests that followed former Prime Minster Rafik Hariri's assassination two years ago—while Aoun threw the weight of his Free Patriotic Movement (backed at the time by two-thirds of Lebanon's Christians) with Shiite Hezbollah. In December, when Hezbollah took to the streets in an effort to force early elections, Aoun's partisans—Aldo Khoury among them—joined the occupation. And when Khoury and his camp-mates seized the traffic circle last month, it was Geagea's men who came to bust them up. Now, explained one prominent political observer, "the Lebanese Forces desperately want something to happen so that Geagea can show that he is the muscle of the government. Aoun might not understand how serious the situation is, but on some level he also doesn't mind going back to the 1980s."

Lebanese Forces leaders, of course, blame the escalation on Aoun, whom they accuse of having become a Syrian lackey. When Joseph Nehmé, one of Geagea's deputies, guided me through the scene of last month's confrontation, he described Aoun's men "coming to block the road and burn the cars and break windows in order to bring chaos." The Lebanese Forces, he said, "were obligated to go into the street. We tried to make sure our guys were behaving, but they were opposed by men who started shooting. One of our guys died, and we had 50 casualties." In the wake of the fighting, Geagea warned Aoun that "if you continue, there will be civil war." Charles, a Lebanese Forces member I met at a party branch office not far from the downtown occupation, was more blunt: "Half our guys in the mountains were in militias. They have their weapons, and they will not let this go on forever."The prize that Aoun craves is the presidency, a post that, according to Lebanon's elaborate sectarian power-sharing arrangement, must go to a Maronite. He believes the presidency was stolen from him at the end of the civil war, and his supporters paint him as the only "strong and clean" Christian leader in the country—a counterpoint to the brutality and corruption of Geagea and his allies. "We went to the streets that day [in January] with the support of the majority of the people, and the Lebanese Forces used it as an excuse to attack," said Ibrahim Kanaan, a Free Patriotic Movement leader. "They are going into the logic of militias, a logic they never really left. Gen. Aoun wants peace, but he does not find this encouraging." A former Aoun aide was less flattering: "[Aoun] is a megalomaniac acting out of complete desperation. He wants the presidency at any cost."

Next to Aoun and Geagea, Lebanon's Sunni and Shiite leaders are practically a picture of restraint. Hezbollah, careful not to undermine its broad appeal in the region, is always quick to confirm that it "will never turn its guns on other Lebanese," as Hezbollah official Mohamed Obeid emphasized to me. The potentially catastrophic consequences of a Sunni-Shiite clash, for both Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East, have brought about a balance of terror: The sheer horror of the fallout has induced a measure of caution on both sides. "There is rage, both in the country and regionally, but everyone knows that if Sunnis and Shiites start fighting in Beirut, there will be a Sunni-Shiite war in the whole region," said Tariq Mitri, Lebanon's acting foreign minister. "That fear can cause people to behave themselves."

At the same time, the Sunni-Shiite impasse has made the tensions between Christian factions more dangerous. With both Hezbollah and the government eager to use non-Muslim allies to highlight their cross-sectarian appeal, Christians have become the crucial swing vote in the standoff. "Until 1990, the Maronites dominated the political system," explained Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut. "Now they're the junior partners to the Shiites and the Sunnis." (Lebanon was intended as a Christian enclave in the Middle East, but the Christians' position has been eroding; although they are officially entitled to half the seats in parliament, their share of the population is probably closer to a third.) Aware of this junior-partner status, Christian partisans routinely accuse each other of doing the dirty work of their Muslim patrons. The Lebanese Forces' Nehmé claimed, "Hezbollah wants to make the Christians do the fighting, so it would be a clash between Christians. … Gen. Aoun is being used by them." Aoun's backers level similar accusations at Geagea. A slew of assassinations of prominent anti-Syrian Christians—including, most recently, Pierre Gemayel—has only increased the rancor.

For the time being, the two sides are prepared for little more than extended bouts of low-intensity street fighting. But the Lebanese Forces often remind opponents of their past as a battle-hardened militia and of the working-class mountain toughs at the core of the party's membership. Aounists, meanwhile, invoke the army—which is filled with pro-Aoun Christians and Shiites who, if it came down to it, would mostly side with Hezbollah—as their own force. "They should remember that the army is still Gen. Aoun's army," Chebel Kassab, a young man camped downtown, warned. On the morning of last month's opposition strikes, the current army commander called in sick.

Since the clashes, the influential Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, has been working to make peace between Aoun and Geagea, and some recent polls indicate growing dissatisfaction among Christians with the belligerence of both factions. "I don't think the major players want a civil war," said political scientist Khashan. But, he added, "The game may become uncontrollable. It all depends on whether they are rational actors, and we know we can't count on that. … We had a 15-year civil war, and we weren't able to learn a thing from it."

It is a distressingly common pattern in the run-up to larger conflagrations: Both sides proclaim their commitment to peace but insist that the aggressions and provocations of the opposing camp demand a response. In Lebanon, even as political leaders have studiously affirmed their aversion to violence, their constituents have driven up the price of Kalashnikovs sevenfold.

          Trapped in the ’70s, Dreaming about the ’40s: What about Tomorrow?        
I’d like to write this entry in a slightly less belligerent tone that usual. Not that I think it will offend anyone in particular, but because I should really practice calming down once in a while. Lebanon will soon be remembering the 35th anniversary of the beginning of its disastrously famous civil war (April 13th), […]
          Misconceptions about Islam        
Misconception #1: Muslims worship a different God

First of all, there is only One God who created the Universe and all of mankind. Throughout history, people have created false gods in their minds and come up with false ideas about Almighty God, but regardless of this there is still only One True God - and He alone is worthy of worship. Unfortunately, some non-Muslims have come to incorrectly believe that Muslims worship a different God than Jews and Christians. This might be due to the fact that Muslims sometimes refer to God as "Allah", but also because over the centuries there have been many lies and distortions spread by the enemies of Islam. In actuality, Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus --- the same God as Christians and Jews. The word "Allah" is simply the Arabic word for Almighty God and it is the same word that Arabic speaking Christians and Jews use to refer to God. If you pick up an Arabic translation of the Christian Bible, you will see the word "Allah" where "God" is used in English. For more information on the word "Allah", please read: Who is Allah? But even though Muslims, Jews and Christians believe in the same God, their concepts about Him differ quite a bit. For example, Muslims reject the idea of the Trinity or that God has become "incarnate" in the world. Also, the teachings of Islam do not rely on or appeal to "mystery" or "paradox" --- they are straightforward and clear. Islam teaches that God is Merciful, Loving and Compassionate and that He has no need to become man (nor do humans need for Him to). One of the unique aspects of Islam is that it teaches that man can have a personal and fulfilling relationship with Almighty God without compromising the transcendence of God. In Islam there is no ambiguity in Divinity --- God is God and man is man. Muslims believe that God is the "Most Merciful", and that he deals directly with human-beings without the need of any intermediary. Actually, the phrase "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful" is one of the most repeated verses in the Holy Qur'an. Additionally, the pure and straightforward teachings of Islam demand that Almighty God be approached directly and without intermediaries. This is because Muslims believe that God is completely in control of everything and that He can bestow His Grace and Mercy on His creatures as He pleases - no Atonement, Incarnation or blood sacrifice is necessary. In summary, Islam calls people to submit to the One True God and to worship Him alone.

Misconception #2: Muslims worship Muhammad

According to Islamic belief, the Prophet Muhammad was the last Messenger of God. He, like all of God's prophets and messengers - such as Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus -- was only a human being. Christians came to the mistaken assumption that Muslims worship Muhammad by formulating an incorrect analogy - they worship Jesus so they assumed Muslims worship Muhammad. This is one of the reasons that they called Muslims by the incorrect name "Mohammedans" for so many years! Muhammad, like Jesus, never claimed divine status. He called people to worship only Almighty God, and he continually emphasized his humanity so that people would not fall into the same errors as Christians did in regards to Jesus. In order to prevent his deification, the Prophet Muhammad always said to refer to him as "the Messenger of God and His slave". Muhammad was chosen to be God's final messenger --- to communicate the message not only in words but to be a living example of the message. Muslims love and respect him because he was of the highest moral character and he brought the Truth from God - which is the Pure Monotheism of Islam. Even when Islam was in its very early stages, God revealed that Muhammad "was sent as a mercy to all of mankind" - thus informing us that the message of Islam would become very widespread. Muslims strive to follow the great example of Muhammad, peace be upon him, but they do not worship him in any way. Additionally, Islam teaches Muslims to respect all of God's prophets and messengers - but respecting and loving them does not mean worshipping them. All true Muslims realize that all worship and prayer must be directed to Almighty God alone. Suffice it to say that worshipping Muhammad --- or anyone else --- along with Almighty God is considered to be the worst sin in Islam. Even if a person claims to be Muslim, but they worship and pray to other than Almighty God, this cancels and nullifies their Islam. The Declaration of Faith of Islam makes it clear that Muslims are taught only to worship God. This declaration is as follows: "There is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God, and Muhammad is the Messenger and Servant of God".

Misconception #3: Islam is a religion only for Arabs

The fastest way to prove that this is completely false is to state the fact that only about 15% to 20% of the Muslims in the world are Arabs. There are more Indian Muslims than Arab Muslims, and more Indonesian Muslims than Indian Muslims! Believing that Islam is only a religion for Arabs is a myth that was spread by the enemies of Islam early in its history. This mistaken assumption is possibly based on the fact that most of the first generation of Muslims were Arabs, the Qur'an is in Arabic and the Prophet Muhammad was an Arab. However, both the teachings of Islam and the history of its spread show that the early Muslims made every effort to spread their message of Truth to all nations, races and peoples. Furthermore, it should be clarified that not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs. An Arab can be a Muslim, Christian, Jew, atheist - or of any other religion or ideology. Also, many countries that some people consider to be "Arab" are not "Arab" at all -- such as Turkey and Iran (Persia). The people who live in these countries speak languages other than Arabic as their native tongues and are of a different ethnic heritage than the Arabs. It is important to realize that from the very beginning of the mission of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, his followers came from a wide spectrum of individuals -- there was Bilal, the African slave; Suhaib, the Byzantine Roman; Ibn Salam, the Jewish Rabbi; and Salman, the Persian. Since religious truth is eternal and unchanging, and mankind is one universal brotherhood, Islam teaches that Almighty God's revelations to mankind have always been consistent, clear and universal. The Truth of Islam is meant for all people regardless of race, nationality or linguistic background. Taking a look at the Muslim World, from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Malaysia to Afghanistan is enough to prove that Islam is a Universal message for all of mankind --- not to mention the fact that significant numbers of Europeans and Americans of all races and ethnic backgrounds are coming into Islam.

Misconception #4: Islam degrades women

Even though many aspects of Islam are misunderstood by non-Muslims, the ignorance, misinformation and incorrect assumptions that are made in regards to Islam's treatment of women are probably the most severe. Numerous verses of the Qur'an make it clear that men and women are equal in the site of God. According to the teachings of Islam, the only thing that distinguishes people in the site of God is their level of God-consciousness. Due to this, many people are surprised to find out that Islamic Law guaranteed rights to women over 1400 years ago that women in the Europe and America only obtained recently. For example, Islam clearly teaches that a woman is a full-person under the law, and is the spiritual equal of a male. Also, according to Islamic Law, women have the right to own property, operate a business and receive equal pay for equal work. Women are allowed total control of their wealth, they cannot be married against their will and they are allowed to keep their own name when married. Additionally, they have the right to inherit property and to have their marriage dissolved in the case of neglect or mistreatment. Also, Islam does not consider woman an "evil temptress", and thus does not blame woman for the "original sin". Women in Islam participate in all forms of worship that men participate in. Actually, the rights that Islam gave to women over 1400 years ago were almost unheard of in the West until the 1900s. Less than fifty years ago in England and America, a woman could not buy a house or car without the co-signature of her father or husband! Additionally, Islam gives great respect to women and their role in society --- it gives them the right to own property, marry who they want and many other rights. Also, it should be mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad's mission stopped many of the horrible practices in regards to women that were present in the society of his time. For example, the Qur'an put an end to the pagan Arab practice of killing their baby daughters when they were born. Additionally, Islam put restrictions on the unrestricted polygamy of the Arabs of the time, and put many laws in place to protect the well-being of women. Today, most of the so-called reforms in the status of women came about after the West abandoned religion for secularism. Even those in the West who claim to follow the so-called "Judeo-Christian tradition" really follow the values of Western liberalism --- but just to a lesser degree than their more liberal countrymen. For more on this subject, please read: Women in Islam versus Women in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition --- The Myth and The Reality. If women in the Muslim World today don't have their rights, it is not because Islam did not give them to them. The problem is that in many places alien traditions have come to overshadow the teachings of Islam, either through ignorance or the impact of Colonialization.

Misconception #5: Muhammad wrote the Qur'an

In addressing this misconception, it is interesting to not that no other religious scripture claims to the direct word of Almighty in toto as clear and as often as the Holy Qur'an. As the Qur'an clearly says: "if had been written by man, you would have found many discrepancies therein". At the time the Qur'an was revealed, the Arabs recognized that the language of the Qur'an was unique and that it was distinctly different from the language normally used by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The Arabs of that time, by the way, were known for their beautiful poetry and Muhammad was known to be an illiterate man! The Qur'an clearly says that Muhammad was unable to read and write, so if this wasn't true, certainly his contemporaries would have protested and rejected him. However, there are no reports of this. Certainly there were people who rejected Muhammad's message, just like other prophets were rejected, but none for this reason. On the contrary, Muhammad, peace be upon him, had thousands of loyal followers and the results of their efforts spread Islam from Spain to China in just over a century! It is also interesting to note that even though the Qur'an is not poetry, the Arabs more or less gave up writing poetry after it was revealed. It could be said that the Qur'an is the piece of Arabic literature par excellence - and Muhammad's contemporaries realized that they couldn't out do it. Additionally, it is easy to prove that Muhammad did not possess a great deal of the knowledge which is expounded in the Qur'an: such as knowledge of historical events, previous prophets and natural phenomenon. The Qur'an says in several places that Muhammad and his people did not know these things - so, again, if this wasn't true, certainly his contemporaries would have rejected his claims. Suffice it to say that not only is the Qur'an the most memorized and well preserved scripture on earth, it is also unequaled in eloquence, spiritual impact, clarity of message and the purity of its truth.

Misconception #6: Islam was spread by the sword

Many non-Muslims, when they think about Islam, picture religious fanatics on camels with a sword in one hand and a Qur'an in the other. This myth, which was made popular in Europe during the Crusades, is totally baseless. First of all, the Holy Qur'an clearly says "Let there be no compulsion in religion". In addition to this, Islam teaches that a person's faith must be pure and sincere, so it is certainly not something that can be forced on someone. In debunking the myth that Islam was "spread by the sword", the (non-Muslim) historian De Lacy O' Leary wrote: "History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever accepted." (Islam at the Crossroads, London, 1923, p. 8.). It should also be known that Muslims ruled Spain for roughly 800 years. During this time, and up to when they were finally forced out, the non-Muslims there were alive and flourishing. Additionally, Christian and Jewish minorities have survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries. Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan all have Christian and/or Jewish populations. If Islam taught that all people are supposed to be killed or forced to become Muslims, how did all of these non-Muslims survive for so long in the middle of the Islamic Empire? Additionally, if one considers the small number of Muslims who initially spread Islam from Spain and Morocco in the West to India and China in the East, one would realize that they were far too few to force people to be members of a religion against their will. Additionally, the great empire and civilization established by the Muslims had great staying power -- its citizens were proud to be part of it. The spread of Islam stands in contrast to the actions of the followers of Christianity, who since the time of the Emperor Constantine have made liberal use of the sword - often basing their conduct on Biblical verses. This was especially true of the colonization of South America and Africa, where native peoples were systematically wiped-out or forced to convert. It is also interesting to note that when the Mongols invaded and conquered large portions of the Islamic Empire, instead of destroying the religion, they adopted it. This is a unique occurrence in history - the conquerors adopting the religion of the conquered! Since they were the victors, they certainly could not have been forced to become Muslims! Ask any of the over one billion Muslims alive in the world today whether they were forced! The largest Muslim country in the world today is Indonesia --- and there were never any battles fought there! So where was the sword? How could someone be forced to adhere to a spiritually rewarding and demanding religion like Islam?

Misconception #7: Muslims hate Jesus

Many non-Muslims are surprised to find out that according to Muslim belief, Jesus, the son of Mary, is one of the greatest messengers of God. Muslims are taught to love Jesus, and a person cannot be a Muslim without believing in the virgin birth and miracles of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. Muslims believe these things about Jesus not because of the Bible or any other religion, but simply because the Holy Qur'an says these things about him. However, Muslims always emphasize that the miracles of Jesus, and all other prophets, were by "God's permission". This having been said, many Christians feel to not believe that Jesus is the "Son of God", "God Incarnate" or the "Second Person" of the Trinity. This is because the Qur'an clearly says that Almighty God does not have a "Son" --- neither allegorically, physically, metaphorically or metaphysically. The Pure Monotheism of Islam rejects the notion of "defining" God (which is basically what the "Doctrine of the Trinity" does), saying that someone is "like" God or equal to him, or praying to someone else besides God. Also, Islam teaches that titles such as "Lord" and "Savior" are due to God alone. In order to avoid misunderstanding, it should be clarified that when Muslims criticize the Bible or the teachings of Christianity, they are not attacking "God's Word" or Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. From the Muslim point of view, they are defending Jesus and God's Word --- which they have in the form of the Qur'an. Muslim criticism is targeted at writings that some people claim are God's word, but Muslim's simply don't accept their claim that they are really God's word in toto. Additionally, Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and the Atonement are criticized by Muslims precisely because they did not originate from Jesus, peace be upon him. In this way, Muslims are the true followers of Jesus, peace be upon him, because they defend him from the exaggerations of the Christians and teach the Pure Monotheism that Jesus himself followed.

Misconception #8: Islam is fatalistic

Most Muslims find it rather odd that their religion, which strikes a beautiful balance between faith and action, could be accused of being "fatalistic". Perhaps this misconception came about because Muslims are taught to say "Praise be to God!" whenever anything good or bad happens. This is because Muslims know that everything comes from Almighty God, who is the All-Knowing Sustainer of the Universe, and that since a Muslim should rely completely on God, whatever happened must have been for the better. However, this does not mean that Muslims are not taught to take action in life --- just the opposite is true. Islam requires not only faith, but action --- such as regular prayer, fasting and charity. To be more precise, in Islam actions are part of one's faith. Islam total rejects the extreme beliefs of some religions that teach that you shouldn't go to a doctor when sick, but only pray for God to heal you. Islam's outlook is very positive, since it teaches that human beings can take positive action in this life. This was certainly what was taught by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to his followers --- since they obviously took the action of spreading Islam from Spain to Morocco in a very short period of time. Even though Islam teaches that God knows what human beings will do before they do it, human beings still have free will. Certainly God, who is All-Knowing and All-Wise, knows what is going to happen to everyone before it happens -- to deny this would be a denial of God Himself. However, if human-beings did not have free will, it would be ridiculous and un-just for God to demand that they do certain things and believe certain things. Far from being "fatalistic", Islam teaches that a human-being's main purpose in life is to be God-conscious. Due to this, Muslims worry less about material matters and view their earthly life in a proper perspective. This is due to the fact that Islam clearly teaches that if people worship and depend on Almighty God alone, then they have nothing to worry about - since God wants what is best for them. True freedom, from the Islamic perspective, does not mean aimlessly following all of your human desires for food, drink, wealth and sex. On the contrary, freedom means being able to control one's base desires and fulfilling them in a proper and legal way. This brings one's desires in tune with what God wants for us --- only then is a person truly free!

Misconception #9: The Islamic Threat

In recent years, a great deal of attention in the media have been given to the threat of "Islamic Fundamentalism". Unfortunately, due to a twisted mixture of biased reporting in the Western media and the actions of some ignorant Muslims, the word "Islam" has become almost synonymous with "terrorism". However, when one analyzes the situation, the question that should come to mind is: Do the teachings of Islam encourage terrorism? The answer: Certainly not! Islam totally forbids the terrorist acts that are carried out by some misguided people. It should be remembered that all religions have cults and misguided followers, so it is their teachings that should be looked at, not the actions of a few individuals. Unfortunately, in the media, whenever a Muslim commits a heinous act, he is labeled a "Muslim terrorist". However, when Serbs murder and rape innocent women in Bosnia, they are not called "Christian terrorists", nor are the activities in Northern Ireland labeled "Christian terrorism". Also, when right-wing Christians in the U. S. bomb abortion clinics, they are not called "Christian terrorists". Reflecting on these facts, one could certainly conclude that there is a double-standard in the media! Although religious feelings play a significant role in the previously mentioned "Christian" conflicts, the media does not apply religious labels because they assume that such barbarous acts have nothing to do with the teachings of Christianity. However, when something happens involving a Muslim, they often try to put the blame on Islam itself -- and not the misguided individual. Certainly, Islamic Law allows war --- any religion or civilization that did not would never survive --- but it certainly does not condone attacks against innocent people, women or children. The Arabic word "jihad", which is often translated as "Holy War", simply means "to struggle". The word for "war" in Arabic is "harb", not "jihad". "Struggling", i.e. "making jihad", to defend Islam, Muslims or to liberate a land where Muslims are oppressed is certainly allowed (and even encouraged) in Islam. However, any such activities must be done according to the teachings of Islam. Islam also clearly forbids "taking the law into your own hands", which means that individual Muslims cannot go around deciding who they want to kill, punish or torture. Trial and punishment must be carried out by a lawful authority and a knowledgeable judge. Also, when looking at events in the Muslim World, it should be kept in mind that a long period of colonialism ended fairly recently in most Muslim countries. During this time, the peoples in this countries were culturally, materially and religiously exploited - mostly by the so-called "Christian" nations of the West. This painful period has not really come to an end in many Muslim countries, where people are still under the control of foreign powers or puppet regimes supported by foreign powers. Also, through the media, people in the West are made to believe that tyrants like Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Moamar Qaddafi in Libya are "Islamic" leaders -- when just the opposite is true. Neither of these rulers even profess Islam as an ideology, but only use Islamic slogans to manipulate their powerless populations. They have about as much to do with Islam as Hitler had to do with Christianity! In reality, many Middle Eastern regimes which people think of as being "Islamic" oppress the practice of Islam in their countries. So suffice it to say that "terrorism" and killing innocent people directly contradicts the teachings of Islam.
          More Biblical illiteracy from the media        
A study of DNA from modern Lebanon found that its population is descended from the ancient Canaanites.  Which is proof that the Canaanites survived Joshua’s invasion–as the Bible said they did. But, somehow, the news media had the impression that the Bible taught that the Canaanites were wiped out!  So headlines crowed that the Bible […]
          Tìm hiểu Israel qua ảnh        
Mảnh đất nhỏ bé vùng cận đông là một nơi khô cằn bán hoang mạc nhưng lại rất giàu các sự kiện lịch sử trong suốt hơn 2000 năm qua và cho đến tận bây giờ. Sở dĩ nó luôn là tâm điểm của thế giới là bởi vì người xưa cho rằng trái đất như một cái cành ba lá. Một lá là châu Âu, một lá là châu Á, lá còn lại là châu Phi. Khoảng đất mà người Do Thái và Palestine ở ngày nay (gọi là Israel) là trung tâm của thế giới vì muốn đi từ châu này sang châu khác người ta phải đi qua đây. Tức là, Israel là trung tâm của thế giới. Trung tâm của Israel là Jerusalem. Trung tâm của Jerusalem là đồi Zion (Hình 1).

Hình 1. Đồi Zion nhìn từ đỉnh đồi Scopus. Nổi bật rất rõ là Vòm thờ đá mạ vàng đang tọa lạc trên nền của Đền thờ Do thái.

Chính vì thế mà mảnh đất này chứng kiến biết bao biến đổi quan trọng trong suốt hơn 2000 năm qua. Đây là nơi khởi nguồn phát sinh của Do thái giáo và Thiên chúa giáo. Đây cũng là mảnh đất thiêng của Hồi Giáo.

Do Thái là những người đầu tiên sinh sống ở vùng đất này. Lịch sử của họ được tôn giáo hóa trong kinh Torah - kinh thánh của Do Thái giáo - cơ sở để xây dựng lên Thiên chúa giáo và Hồi giáo. David là vị vua đầu tiên của dân Do thái, con trai ông là Salomon đã cho xây Đền thờ đầu tiên tại vị trí được coi là trung tâm của thế giới - trung tâm của Jerusalem - đồi Zion vào năm 950 TCN. Tuy nhiên ngôi đền này sau đó bị tàn phá bởi những người Babilon đến từ phương Bắc vào năm 586 TCN. Cho đến tận thời kì La Mã đô hộ vùng đất này. Heriod, tổng tư lệnh quân La Mã ở Israel, có vợ là người Do Thái đã cho xây Đền thờ thứ hai trên nền của đề thờ thứ nhất vào năm 70 SCN. Hình 2 mô hình thành phố Jerusalem và Đền thờ thứ hai của người Do Thái. Thế kỉ thứ sáu, những người Hồi giáo đến xâm chiếm vùng đất này và phá hủy Đền thờ rồi cho xây một nhà thờ hồi giáo và Vòm thờ đá mạ vàng (Hình 1). Di tích còn lại cho đến ngày nay là bức tường phía tây của ngôi đền, còn gọi là bức tường than khóc (Hình 3).

Hình 2. Mô hình thành phố Jerusalem và Đền thờ thứ hai của người Do Thái.

Hình 3. Bức tường phía tây còn gọi là Bức tường than khoc hiện nay, đằng sau bức tường này là khu vực Đền thờ ngày xưa của người Do Thái, nay đã mọc lên Vòm thờ đá mạ vàng.

Người Do thái vẫn trông đợi Đấng cứu thế đến để xây cho họ Đền thời thứ ba. Tất nhiên Đền thờ này phải được xây ở vị trí của hai đến thờ trước đó, mà nếu thế thì phải phá bỏ đền thờ Hồi giáo và Vòm thờ đá đi - một chuyện không thể chấp nhận được với thế giới Hồi giáo vì đây là địa điểm được Đấng tiên tri Mohamed đã bay đến đây là lựa chọn để xây nhà thờ. Người Do thái cho rằng Christ là một nhà tiên tri chứ không phải là một đấng cứu thế. Christ đã vi phạm tất cả các quy tắc của Do thái giáo. Đó là lý do tại sao người Do thái rất khó hòa bình với người Hồi giáo và Thiên chúa giáo.

Ngày nghỉ của Do thái là thứ sáu và thứ bảy. Thời điểm quan trọng nhất là Shabath bắt đầu từ lúc mặt trời lặn của ngày thứ sáu đến lúc mặt trời lặn của ngày thứ bảy. Vào thời gian này người Do thái không được làm việc mà phải nghỉ ngơi và ca ngợi Chúa tối cao (Hình 4). Ai làm việc là vi phạm lời dạy của Chúa. Một trong những điều cấm kị trong lễ Shabath đó là không được bật lửa. Trong thế giới hiện đại, bật công tắc điện, khởi động ô tô, bấm chuông điện thoại, bấm thang máy,... đều vi phạm các điều luật của Chúa. Chính vì thế vào ngày Shabath mọi người không nấu cơm, thang máy đến ngày này thì tự động chạy tất cả các tầng và dừng lại ở mỗi tầng vài giây. Nếu nóng quá thì nhờ người ngoại đạo như đạo Hồi hoặc vô đạo như người nước ngoài để bật hộ điều hòa. Một số người Do Thái mộ đạo đến bức tường than khóc để khóc lóc cầu Chúa gửi đấng cứu thế đến xây cho họ Đền thờ thứ ba. Ảnh 5 là một số người Do Thái mộ đạo vừa "khóc lóc" xong và đang đi trong thành cổ Jerusalem. Những người này không mến khách, nếu du khách chụp ảnh lộ quá thì ngay lập tức bị nhắc nhở. Người Do Thái nói chung là không niềm nở với người nước ngoài. Họ thường không tỏ thái độ gì với khách du lịch.

Hình 4. Gia đình Do thái nghỉ ngơi trong ngày lễ Shabath.

Hình 5. Một số người Do thái mộ đạo ở Bức tường than khóc.

Jerusalem là thành phố quốc tế, những người ở đó theo ba đạo chính: Do Thái giáo, Hồi Giáo và Thiên Chúa giáo. Khu của người Do Thái và Thiện chúa thì tương đối an toàn, thịnh vượng, và lịch sự (Hình 6, 7). Các cửa hàng thưa thớt và gọn gàng. Ngược lại, khu của người Hồi giáo thì đông đúc, cửa hàng tràn ra cả hè phố, lấn cả phần đường cho người đi bộ (Hình 8). Nạn chèo kéo mời chào khách rất phổ biến. Hàng hóa thì đủ thứ nhưng chủ yếu vẫn là đồ lưu niệm cho khách du lịch. Ở đây, đạo Hồi lấn át hai đạo còn lại, đạo Thiên chúa là yếu thế nhất ở chính nơi Chúa Jesus sinh ra và bị đóng đinh lên cây thánh giá.

Hình 6. Khu của người Do thái ở Jerusalem khá gòn gàng và ngăn nắp.

Hình 7. Khu của người Thiên chúa giáo.

Hình 8. Khu của người Hồi giáo. Chật chội, đông đúc, toàn trẻ con.

Hình 7 là Khu Thiên chúa giáo. Thông tin chỉ dẫn được ghi bằng tiếng Nga. Có chuyện vui như sau: Hai người Do thái ở nước ngoài gặp nhau, một người hỏi rằng, anh có biết tiếng thứ hai ở Israel là tiếng gì không? Người kia trả lời, tiếng Hebrew. Ngụ ý rằng tiếng Nga mới là tiếng được nói nhiều nhất sau đó mới đến tiếng nói của các tổ phụ Do Thái trong Cựu ước Hebrew.

Người Hồi giáo ở đâu cũng sinh sôi nảy nở rất nhanh. Theo thống kê, người Hồi giáo ở Israel có đến một nửa là dưới 15 tuổi (hình 9). Thủ lĩnh Hồi giáo Harmas phát biểu: dạ con của người phụ nữ là vũ khí sinh học. Tức là sẽ đẻ ra các chiến binh tử vì đạo. Nhóm Harmas khuyến khích trẻ em vị thành niên tham gia chiến tranh chống lại người Do Thái. Vũ khí của họ chủ yếu là gạch, đá do đó được gọi là cuộc chiến tranh ném đá.

Hình 9. Trẻ em được coi là các chiến binh.

Hình 10. Nhà thờ nơi Chúa Jesus ra đời. Một chiếc cổng bé xíu và có rất ít khác du lịch đến thăm kể từ khi nhà thờ này được trao về Palestine.

Hình 11. Vị trí Chúa Jesus ra đời với ngôi sao 14 cánh.

Ai xem phim "Khổ hình của Chúa" sẽ thấy con đường Chúa Jesus bị mang đi đóng đinh. Jesus là người Do Thái, ông sinh ra trong một cái máng cỏ. Nơi ông sinh là Bethlehem, hiện thuộc Palestine nhưng vẫn do người Do Thái canh giữ (Hình 10). Hình 11 là nơi Chúa sinh ra nằm trong một nhà thờ, có một ngôi sao 14 cánh tượng trưng cho con số thiêng 14. Từ tổ phụ Abraham đến vua David là 14 đời, từ vua David đến thời kì lưu đày ở Babilon là 14 đời, từ thời kì lưu đày ở Babilon đến chúa Jesus là 14 đời.

Hình 12. Nơi Chúa Jesus được nuôi nấng khi còn nhỏ.

Hình 13. Sự rực rỡ của Vatican đối lập với nơi mà Thiên chúa ra đời.

Hình 14. Một góc phố Palestine.

Những thánh tích của Jesus còn lại đến ngày nay thường làm người xem thất vọng vì nó không được uy nghi và bề thế như Thiên Chúa giáo (Hình 12). Nếu so sánh với Vatican thì thánh tích ở Bethlehem thật nhỏ nhoi và rất ít sự chăm sóc (Hình 13). Thánh tích nằm lọt thỏm xung quanh thế giới Hồi giáo. Ngày thường có rất ít người đến thăm vì từ khi thánh tích trao cho Palestine cai quản, dịch vụ du lịch không được phát triển lắm. Tôi đã mua một tour của một công ti Israel đến đây, chỉ được thăm Nhà thờ khoảng 30 phút, 2 tiếng còn lại thì được một công ti du lịch Palestine "chăm sóc" bằng cách đưa đến một cửa hàng lưu niệm bán đồ liên quan đến Thiên chúa giáo (Hình 14). Người ta kể rằng, ngày càng ít người Thiên chúa ở đây. Nếu có thì các thiếu nữ Thiên chúa giáo sẽ lấy chống Hồi giáo. Mỗi lần như vậy thì chuông nhà thờ lại nguyện một lần để tưởng nhớ Thiên chúa giáo đã mất một con chiên. Thánh tích của gia đình chúa Jesus, nơi Đức chúa được nuôi dưỡng. Một nơi đã từng nuôi dưỡng con người làm thay đổi thế giới mà nay không được chăm sóc cẩn thận, hoặc có nhưng hoàn toàn không xứng đáng với vị thế của Thiên chúa giáo trên thế giới.

Hình 15. Bảo tàng diệt chủng Do thái ở Jerusalem.

Lịch sử nhà nước Israel bắt đầu từ năm 1948. Sau thế chiến 2 và vụ diệt chủng người Do thái làm cho sáu triệu người của dân tộc này bị mất mạng (Hình 15). Liên hợp quốc (quân đồng minh) chuộc lại lỗi lầm của mình vì đã không hành động kịp thời để ngăn chặn vụ diệt chủng bằng cách phân chia vùng đất mà nay gọi là Israel cho nhà nước Do Thái. Bản đồ năm 1948 cho thấy nhà nước Do thái chỉ được khoảng 40%, người Palestine được 60% tỉ lệ với số dân thời đó. Lúc đó người Do thái trên thế giới khắp nơi ăn mừng kết quả không ngờ. Điều ước nguyện từ hàng ngàn năm nay đã trở thành hiện thực. Từ khi mất nước cho đến ngày nay, người Do thái ngày nào cũng cầu nguyện "sang năm ở Jerusalem" ngay cả bây giờ, giữa Jerusalem người ta vẫn cầu như thế. Tuy nhiên, người Palestine lúc đó không đồng ý với Liên hợp quốc. Họ coi tất cả vùng đất đấy là của họ. Với sự trợ giúp của các nước láng giềng như Ai cập, Lebanon, Jordan và thế giới Hồi giáo, người Palestine và Do thái có "cuộc chiến tranh sáu ngày" vào năm 1967. Kết quả là người Do thái chiếm hết toàn bộ đất Palestine gồm bờ tây sông Jordan và dải Gaza. Thắng thế họ chiếm toàn bộ bán đảo Sinai của Ai cập và Ai cập phải hứa không hỗ trợ Palestine thì người Do thái mới trả lại bán đảo này. Đến năm 1990 thì phong trào PLO mới lập được nhà nước Palestine trở lại và Do thái hứa sẽ trao trả toàn bộ vùng bờ tây và dải Gaza cho Palestine. Tiến trình chưa đến đầu đến đũa thì Arafat chết, Harmas lên cầm quyền và tiếp tục khủng bố Do thái. Tiến trình hòa bình hoàn toàn bế tắc. Hình 14 là khu vực Palestine. Cùng một vùng đất nhưng thuộc hai nhà nước khác nhau. Kết quả khác hắn nhau. Vùng đất thuộc Palestine ngèo nàn, vùng đất thuộc Do thái thịnh vượng (Hình 16).

Hình 16. Tel-aviv, thành phố hiện đại của Israel.

Người Palestine yếu thế về mọi mặt. Kinh tế, chính trị, quốc phòng. Hàng ngày, hành ngàn người Palestine phải sang Israel thông qua một số cửa khẩu để làm ăn (Hình 17). Những công việc họ làm đều là những việc nặng nhọc như xây dựng, giúp việc,... Kinh tế phụ thuộc chủ yếu vào người Do thái. Không tiền, ít vũ khí, nhưng Harmas vẫn kêu gọi thánh chiến, dùng ngay mạng sống của họ làm vũ khí. Kêu gọi thiếu niên tử vì đạo sẽ được lên thiên đường, sẽ được sung sướng. Kêu gọi phụ nữ đẻ thật nhiều để dân số vượt người Do thái. Những quan niệm thông thường ở các nơi khác trên thế giới như lòng nhân từ, khoan dung, bùng nổ dân số, vô học,... thật lạ lẫm ở nơi này.

Hình 17. Hàng ngày, hàng ngàn người Palestine phải đi qua những chiếc cổng như thế này để sang vùng đất của Israel để làm các công việc nặng nhọc.

Hình 18. Các ngôi nhà được làm bằng đá ở Jerusalem.

Một trong những quy định của thành phố là các nhà ở Jerusalem phải được xây bằng đá lấy từ Jerusalem (Hình 18). Xây dựng ở đây rất nặng nhọc vì toàn bộ thành phố nằm trên các ngọn đồi bằng đá cứng. Những việc nặng thường được giao cho người Palestine.
Tôi đã có thời gian 2 tháng công tác ở đây. Một xã hội cực kì khó hòa nhập. Cuối tuần không thể tìm thấy một cái gì để có thể giải trí được. Không bus, không ô tô, không hàng quán. TV chỉ chiếu mấy kênh nói xì xồ toàn tiếng Hebrew. Tối ra ngoài đường vắng tanh vắng ngắt, các gia đình Do thái tụ tập nhau hát thánh ca. Những người lang thang ngoài đường vào ngày cuối tuần toàn dân ngoại quốc hoặc ngoại đạo. Người Do thái bị Liên hợp quốc ra hết bản án này đến bản án khác vì thực chất đây là một nước phân biệt tôn giáo. Chính vì thế tôi mới dành nhiều thời gian tìm hiểu về mảnh đất này. Thứ nữa, tôi theo mấy tour của công ti Do thái, gặp phải tay guide hướng dẫn rất tốt nên cũng hiều nhiều điều. Chúng ta cứ yên tâm đi thăm quan, những địa danh thì không bao giờ bị khủng bố vì dân ở đây sống chủ yếu dựa vào du lịch. Nếu có quả bom thì cả Do thái và Palestine đều treo niêu hết. Nguy hiểm nhất là vùng dải Gaza và vùng định cư mới của Do thái thôi. Còn ở những nơi khác như Tel-aviv thì không vấn đề gì. Tuy nhiên không phải kể như thế là an toàn. Vào chỗ đông dân cư đều bị kiểm tra như vào sân bay. Ngoài đường thì thấy rất nhiều người mặc áo lính, cả trai lẫn gái. Đi nghĩa vụ quân sự 2 năm là bắt buộc với tất cả mọi người. Chắc các bác nghe đến các chiến binh Do thái, rất xinh đẹp và hấp dẫn (Hình 19). Hình như trước đây có một số trên FHM chụp toàn các chiến binh Do thái thì phải. Nhưng ngoài đường họ không thích bị chụp ảnh đâu, ảnh dưới đây là tôi chụp trộm trong xe bus ở Jerusalem. Điển hình của xe bus Do thái: ông già mộ đạo áo đen và nữ chiến binh khoác súng (Hình 20).

Hình 19. Nữ chiến binh Israel.

Hình 20. Điển hình của xe bus Do thái: ông già mộ đạo áo đen và nữ chiến binh khoác súng.

Tôi quay lại câu chuyện của Chúa Jesus. Chúa Jesus sau khi bị Judas bán cho người Do thái, thì bị các tư tế Do thái yêu cầu binh lính La Mã đóng đinh trên thập tự giá sau khi đã tra tấn rất dã man. Ai đã xem phim "Khổ hình của Chúa" sẽ thấy rất rõ. Tổng quản La Mã tuy cho chút lưu luyến không muốn làm hại Jesus nhưng các tư tế Do thái một mực yêu cầu, họ thà chọn phóng thích một tên vô lại trộm cướp còn hơn phóng thích Jesus. Và thế là Jesus phải tự mình vác thập tự giá đến nơi đóng đinh. Trên đường đi, Jesus đã dừng lại ở 12 nơi và đến nay vẫn còn vết tích ở Jerusalem. Tôi chỉ nhớ và chụp được có mấy nơi thôi.

Hình 21. Chúa mệt nên vịn tay vào bức tường này.

Hình 22. Còn đây là cô thiếu nữ Veronica mang nước mới Jesus uống khi ngài trên đường ra nơi bị đóng đinh.

Khi chụp các thánh tích này tôi đã loại bỏ những quang cảnh lộn xộn xung quanh của các cửa hàng Hồi giáo. Thánh tích cuối cùng là Nhà thờ mộ thánh mới nằm ở trong khu Thiên chúa giáo. Tuy nhiên, ngay cả ở đây, lối vào khu Nhà thờ mộ thánh (Holy Sepulchre, hình 23) cũng cực kì lộn xộn bởi hàng quán xung quanh. Lối vào là một cái cổng bé nhỏ. Biển chỉ dẫn Nhà thờ mộ thánh bị đủ các loại biển chỉ dẫn khác chèn ép. Thật không xứng với nơi thánh thiêng nhất của Thiên chúa giáo một chút nào.

Hình 23. Lối vào Nhà thờ Má
          Counterterrorism: Update: Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS        
Special Briefing
Brett McGurk
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIS, Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIS
Press Briefing Room
Washington, DC
August 4, 2017

MS NAUERT: Hi, everybody. How are you all doing today? Good to see you --


MS NAUERT: Good to see you back. I know, it’s Friday late in the day, summertime. So you all get good camper awards for coming in today. Thank you so much for being here on this Friday. We have our Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk, who’s here with us. I know you heard from Brett just a couple weeks ago at the end of the ISIS – D-ISIS coalition meeting here in Washington. And so Brett wanted to come in today to provide you all with an update as to where things stand in the campaign.

So without further ado, Brett’s here with that.

MR MCGURK: Thank you. Okay, thanks everybody for coming. I thought what I’d do today – you heard from the Secretary for a kind of trip around the world six months in here since he arrived about everything going on in the world and the activity here at the State Department. And what I thought I’d do is drill in a little bit more on what he discussed about the very important – one of our key priorities here at the department, about the campaign against ISIS.

So I want to focus on the overall campaign, as a global campaign, but dive in a little bit to the so-called “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria and kind of bring you into what we’re doing every day and how it’s working interagency throughout our government, and particularly our diplomats here at the State Department.

A few topline points – I think this is important – if you go back to when ISIS really arrived on the international scene back in 2014, we had 40,000 foreign fighters from 110 countries around the world pouring into Syria and Iraq. They controlled what was effectively a quasi-state. They were able to mass and maneuver force all around Iraq and Syria, taking entire cities, controlling millions of people under their domain. Since that time, they have lost about 70,000 square kilometers of territory in Iraq and Syria. About 78 percent of the territory they used to hold in Iraq, they can no longer operate in, and about 58 percent of the territory they used to hold in Syria, they can no longer operate in.

Importantly, of all that territory that they have lost, they have not regained. When our coalition supports elements on the ground to retake territory from ISIS, they have never been able to reclaim that territory. So this is not a campaign in which you go and you clear, you can’t hold, and they come back. They have never been able to retake any of this ground and we’re going to make sure that that continues. Importantly – not just territory, but even more important, people. Five – almost 5 million people who had been living under ISIS are no longer living under ISIS. They have been liberated by coalition-enabled operations on the ground.

Also critically important, a few years ago you saw migrants and refugees pouring out of this part of the world. We have now reversed that flow. In Iraq alone, about 2 million people have returned to their homes in areas that have been cleared from ISIS. These are areas used to be under the control of this terrorist group. Now, you have people actually returning to their homes – 2 million people. That is almost unprecedented in a conflict like this in terms of getting returnees back, and it’s due to a lot of the work that the Secretary mentioned here at the podium the other day about our stabilization and humanitarian effort that goes in parallel with any military campaign.

The force we’re working with, the Iraqi Security Forces – we have trained as a coalition 100,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces in total. They have never lost a battle. This was an Iraqi Security Force that had almost collapsed. Those forces, those units that we have trained as a coalition have never lost a battle. In Syria, when it comes to the campaign against ISIS, we are working primarily with the Syrian Democratic Forces. That’s a force of now about 50,000 – it’s about half Arab, half Kurd. They also have never lost a battle. Not only have they never lost a battle, the training courses – and I’ve been to Syria about six times now, three times over the past six months – our training courses on the ground in Syria are full. As we move into areas, particularly among the Arab – Sunni Arab population, our training classes are full because these people want to get back to their homes and kick ISIS out of their areas. So our training classes are full; they’ve never lost a battle.

Also very importantly, elements of what we call the vetted Syrian opposition have particularly in a part of Syria, which I’ll look to – point to on the map, supported by the Turkish forces an area known as the Euphrates Shield zone, also very effectively cleared ISIS out of key terrain that they had held.

Here’s what’s really important: Over the last six months, we have dramatically accelerated this campaign, and you heard about some of this from Secretary Tillerson. Nearly 30 percent of all the territory that has been retaken from ISIS – about 20,000 square kilometers – has actually happened in the last six months. As you know, the campaign against Mosul is now finished and in Raqqa, which I’ll talk to in more detail, about 45 percent of Raqqa is now cleared. This is due to some key changes that were put in place very early on – three changes – initiatives from President Trump, and I’ll just highlight four of them.

Number one, and very importantly, this makes a tremendous difference on the ground: the delegation of tactical authority from the White House, from Washington, down through the chain of command to our commanders on the ground. That has made a fairly tremendous difference in our ability to actually seize opportunities from ISIS, and I’ll talk about one of those in some detail.

Second, you’ve heard Secretary Mattis talk about it’s a campaign of annihilation. We make sure that before we do a military operation, we actually surround the enemy so that foreign fighters in particular cannot escape. Every foreign fighter that made its way into Syria and Iraq, we want to make sure that they can never make their way out of Syria and Iraq.

Third, from day one we look to how we can increase our burden-sharing from the coalition. And that is why, as the Secretary mentioned when he was here earlier this week, one of his first initiatives was to call on all members of our coalition. And it’s now 73 members of our coalition, 69 countries, four international organizations, one of the largest coalitions in history. And he had all of those members here in March to talk about this next accelerated phase of the campaign, and we raised in that session alone about $2 billion, which really came in critical needs, particularly for the post-Mosul phase and the humanitarian aspect of taking care of the IDPs from Mosul.

Finally, the whole-of-government effort to make sure that we’re working as a government hand-in-glove with our colleagues in Treasury, the Department of Defense, here at the State Department, and within in the NSC to make sure that we’re taking advantage of opportunities, working not just in Iraq and Syria, but also to sever the financial connections and propaganda networks that continue to fuel terrorist groups like this.

So let me go in some detail, and I’ll turn to the map. The map has about nine numbers on it, some of which I’ll spend a little more time on than others. But I’ll start with the yellow – little yellow circle, yellow gumball number one. That, of course, is Raqqa. About six months ago, ISIS was planning major attacks in Raqqa. They were planning major attacks against the United States, against our partners, and they were doing it in Raqqa using infrastructure of a major city. Today in Raqqa, ISIS is fighting for every last block, and trying to defend blocks that they are about to lose. They are fighting for their own survival. It is a fundamentally transformed situation. The Raqqa operation to seize Raqqa launched on June 6th, and as of today, as I mentioned, the SDF has seized about 45 percent of Raqqa. And there was a very detailed briefing at DOD yesterday from Colonel Dillon, who was on the ground in Iraq, talking about the details of this operation.

The two axes of advance from east to west are actually about to connect. They could connect now, but they have to clear some high-rise buildings before they join forces at a roadway. And that’ll really help accelerate the second phase of the operation to clear the rest of the city.

We estimate there’s about 2,000 ISIS fighters left in Raqqa. I’m always hesitant to give numbers like that, because it’s – this is an inexact science. We think there’s about 2,000 ISIS fighters left in Raqqa, and they will – they most likely will die in Raqqa. UN estimates now – there’s about 25,000 civilians on the ground in Raqqa. It could be higher, but that is a UN estimate. And what’s really happening in Raqqa – similar to what we saw in Mosul but on a smaller scale – the ISIS fighters on the ground are using these civilians as their own shields, as their own hostages. They are using snipers to kill civilians who are trying to escape. They’re trying to put suicide bombers in columns of displaced people as they try to get out – the similar tactics we’ve seen from this barbaric terrorist organization in other cities.

The campaign to seize Raqqa was enabled by an operation that came a few months ago in the city of Tabqa, and that’s just to the left of the west of the yellow gumball one. So Tabqa is right there just near Tabqa Dam, right on – where the Euphrates kind of curves. And I want to highlight Tabqa because it was critical to setting the conditions for the success we’re now seeing in Raqqa and to really basically tightening the noose around ISIS. And I don’t think it could’ve happened absent this delegation of authorities that I talked about.

So – and I saw – I happened to see this up close because I was in Syria in March, in the town of Ayn Issa, which is there on the map just north of Raqqa. And we met with some of the local commanders who were sensing what was happening with ISIS, and they told our military commander, General Steve Townsend, who’s done an extraordinary job over the last year, that they sense there’s an opportunity to catch ISIS by surprise in the city of Tabqa and at the Tabqa Dam, and there’s an airfield there called the Tabqa Airport. And they said, all we need is we need you to help us get across this body of water – it’s about an 8-kilometer body of water – at night, drop us behind ISIS lines, and then we can take it from there, basically catching ISIS by surprise and seizing these three very strategic areas.

This was very important to close the noose on ISIS because ISIS was using this area to get personnel and equipment in and out of Raqqa. It was pretty audacious. It required us to put these fighters on helicopters, crossing about eight kilometers of water at night. These fighters are incredibly brave. Most of them have never been on a helicopter. It was also very complicated because it was hard to tell exactly what was on the other side of the water because we had never really been that far south.

General Townsend and our commanders approved this operation really within a period of days. It launched. It took about six weeks to finish, but the forces that we were talking about were right. They actually know the local area. They caught ISIS by surprise. They were able to cease Tabqa, Tabqa Dam, and the airport, and we really saw ISIS go into a bit of a reeling effect after that. We saw a lot of their fighters trying to flee and their defenses in Raqqa begin to degrade a little bit. So it was a really critical operation, and it was done because authority's been delegated down to seize opportunities like that. It was a really important moment in this overall campaign.

We also have had to work very closely, as forces converge in this area as the Secretary mentioned, with – despite all of our tensions with Russia, we also look for areas where we have to find a way to work together, and I think Syria exemplifies that. This is particularly true in Tabqa because regime forces – Syrian regime forces are very close to the area that our forces are operating in, and we actually had an incident on June 18th in which our forces shot down a Syrian jet that violated an agreement that we had on the ground of where they could go and where they could not go.

Since then, we have drawn what we call a deconfliction line with the Russians to help accelerate the campaign in Raqqa and to basically make clear where their forces will be and where our forces will be. This has held extremely well. This is now in place. Our military personnel speak with the Russians every day, and we, of course, have diplomatic consultations on issues like this far less frequently but whenever we need to. And the Secretary, of course, is speaking with Foreign Minister Lavrov from time to time, and he'll see him soon at the ASEAN conference coming up later this weekend. So a very important deconfliction line with the Russians has helped us enable and accelerate the pressure on ISIS in Raqqa.

Now, what gets less attention – this is very non-glamorous work but very critical work, and the Secretary specifically mentioned some of what our diplomats are doing on the ground to make sure that in the wake of the military campaign we are doing all we can on the humanitarian and stabilization side as our forces move into Raqqa. So let me kind of describe that a little bit, and I’ll give you some facts. I don’t want to delve too much into facts, but it’s important to get a sense of really what’s going on, and I’ve gone in and have seen this with my own eyes a few times.

So as IDPs come out of areas that have been controlled by ISIS – these are people who have been living under ISIS for the last three years – we are seeing almost all of the IDPs flow north into the lines of the force we’re working with. They are not flowing west into regime areas; they are not leaving to go stay with ISIS in the east; they are not flowing south into the desert. They are all coming into the areas of the Syrian Democratic Forces. Total now IDPs from this environment, not just Raqqa city but the surroundings – about 324,000 IDPs. We track this every single day. As of this morning, about 146,000 are in prepared sites and camps, about 177 or so thousand in communities. And what we see in Syria, as the population comes out from areas where the fighting is ongoing, they sit in transit camps. And as the areas are cleared, as they’re de-mined, the population then returns. We have seen this now repeatedly this pattern, which is a pretty good pattern.

I was in Syria in March, again, near this town of Ayn Issa just north of Raqqa, and we frankly saw thousands of IDPs sleeping on the side of the road, living in dirt, in situations that were totally, totally unacceptable. This area at the time was really almost inaccessible to the UN. This was before the Tabqa operation had finished, so the UN really had no way to get in there and it was a really unacceptable situation.

So we accelerated the deployment of some of our experts and diplomats here from the State Department and from USAID to get key people on the ground who could help enable NGOs to address this situation. And when I returned to Syria in May, just a fundamentally different picture on the exact same road. Before and after pictures – I think I even put a tweet out about some of the before and after pictures. Two months earlier, thousands of people sleeping in dirt on the side of the road; two months later, very well-maintained camps, people in transit camps, and people being taken care of. That is due to the work that our diplomats and our military civil affairs people do on the ground every day, and they’re doing an extraordinary job.

So where are we today? Our experts working on the ground, we have finalized a day-after-liberation plan for Raqqa. It will plan for up to 50,000 people in Raqqa. As I mentioned, based on the UN estimates we think that figure is lower, but we’re going to plan for the very worst case. As I mentioned, the UN has now gained road access, so they’re delivering a fairly large number of supplies. World Food Program, ICRC, and a number of other NGOs are operating in these areas.

So I think the Secretary mentioned we’ve pre-positioned supplies so we’re ready for the day after ISIS in Raqqa. And just to give you what – to tell you what that means, we have food ready for about 447,000 people. We have tents and shelters for an additional 50,000 people. We have medical treatment facilities for about over 200,000 people. Water sanitation, hygiene – all these things are getting pre-positioned to be ready for the day after ISIS.

How are we doing this with so few people on the ground? Number one, we have the right people on the ground. So our humanitarian expert who’s in Syria, he was just back here in Washington for consultations. His name is Al Dwyer from USAID; he has led almost every major international response around the world, just an incredibly dedicated public servant. And he’s doing a great job, and he has connections with all of these NGOs on the ground.

We’re also working with the Raqqa Civilian Council, which is a group of civilians from the area. They’re based in Ayn Issa. This is a temporary structure. They are committed to having an election in Raqqa by May of next year. But it’s also a necessary structure because we need local people on the ground to help us deliver and facilitate aid. And the RCC alone has coordinated the delivery of 830 metric tons of humanitarian aid to areas all around Raqqa, and they’re very instrumental in planning the day-after activities.

In terms of stabilization, I just want to really emphasize what the Secretary said here from this podium earlier this week. We are committed to stabilization, and that word is very important. This is not reconstruction; it’s not nation building. Stabilization is demining. That means setting the conditions for people to return to their homes. ISIS leaves landmines everywhere so that people can’t return. We are committed to help to do all we can by training locals to help demine critical infrastructure sites in critical places to allow people to come home.

Stabilization also means rubble removal so that trucks and equipment can get into areas of need. It means basic electricity, sewage, water, the basic essentials to allow populations to come back to their home. And we have found – learning some lessons from Iraq which I’ll get to – that this focus on the basic elements of stabilization is a critical enabler for allowing people to come back to their home – to their homes.

Now, sometimes we meet with local councils and they say, “We really want you, the United States, to help us with the – you’re going to run the hospitals, aren’t you? You’re going to run our school system.” And no, we’re not – we’re not doing that. We’ve learned some lessons and we’re not very good at that, and also that is not our responsibility. We will do basic stabilization.

When it comes to things like schools, if a local council says to us, “There are five schools in the area and they’ve been totally wired with explosive devices and landmines. Will you please help us there?” Yes, that is something that we will do. If they need desks or chairs or chalkboards or something, we can usually help find contractors from the local area to do that.

And so I’ll give you an example in Tabqa. The Tabqa Civilian Council, which we’re also working with, these are local people from Tabqa. I met them. Not long ago, they were all living under ISIS, and now they are working very hard to try to restore life to their community. And they have told us about a number of schools that are actually wired to explode, so we are now helping to get deminers into the area to clear those schools. About five have already been finished. And we’re going to do all we possibly can to have as many schools as ready in Tabqa for the opening of the school year on September 15th. But again, in terms of school curriculums, teachers, all this, this is the responsibility of the Syrians on the ground and the Iraqis on the ground, not us.

In Raqqa we have about 400 of these critical infrastructure sites that we’ve identified for the day after for immediate demining. About 100 of these sites are really the priorities. We’re also getting contributions from our coalition. I think we announced here when we had the coalition conference two weeks ago two very unique and proactive funding mechanisms focused on Syria. One, the Syria Recovery Trust Fund, which is now operating – which is now able to operate in this area. And second, a donor consortium which is very project-specific. As we identify the projects for stabilization, we can match them with coalition contributors.

So that’s Raqqa. It’s ongoing. This will take time. This will be a very difficult battle. Just because 45 percent of the city is cleared in two months does not mean this will be finished in two – in another two months. That’s not how these things go. Sometimes they go faster. Sometimes they go a lot slower than you might anticipate. And I would anticipate in the center of the city ISIS will put up a very difficult fight with suicide vests and everything we’ve seen them do in other places.

Let me jump quickly to number two, the yellow gumball number two, and I’ll go a little faster with some of these. This is the area known as the Middle Euphrates Valley. A lot – some ISIS leaders, as they saw the writing on the wall in Raqqa, tried to flee before the noose was tightened and surrounded – before our forces really surrounded Raqqa, and they fled to some very small dusty towns in this area of the Euphrates River. A town called Mayadin is one of them and some other very small areas in this, what we call the Middle Euphrates Valley.

I would just say any ISIS leader in these little small towns needs to have a very good life insurance policy, because unlike when they’re living in a – what these guys used to do is they live in civilian apartment buildings with hundreds of people in the structure, which obviously makes it impossible for us to target them, because we’re not going to target a civilian structure.

When they’re living in small towns and dusty villages, not only is it very different for them – this is not the glamorous, so-called caliphate they expected to find – it’s also a lot easier for us to find them. So in the last six weeks alone, I think our DOD announced just yesterday about 13 key leaders and associates have been targeted and eliminated in this area, and that is only going to continue.

This area of the country also, I cannot emphasize enough, extremely complex. And that is why deconfliction arrangements with the Russians will also be increasingly important as we operate in this area. It’s a complex battle space. These deconfliction arrangements are important, and that is why we’re so focused on that.

Number three yellow gumball, this is a little garrison known as Tanf. We are training a force there to fight ISIS in the Middle Euphrates Valley, because the force we are training there is from the Middle Euphrates Valley. And that training continues, and that is a very important mission in terms of our overall counter-ISIS campaign.

This area also became fairly tense in mid-June with some – I don’t know if I’d call it misunderstandings, but some perhaps misunderstandings from forces operating in the area that led to some airstrikes from our military forces. Since then, the situation has calmed down considerably. We have worked out deconfliction arrangements which have been working quite well, and we’re going to try to make sure that those stay in place. This is a very important piece of Syria connected with our critical ally Jordan and our critical ally Iraq, and we want to make sure that ISIS cannot fill space in this area because it incorporates critical road networks, which I’ll talk to when I discuss Iraq briefly.

The fourth yellow gumball, that is the southwest. This is very important because, a little separate from the counter-ISIS campaign, but it’s a key enabler for trying to remove this little red blotch, which is ISIS. This is an ISIS cell right near the yellow circle number four. It’s an ISIS cell. They’re known as the Jaysh Khalid bin Al-Walid. They are an ISIS affiliate. When they move into an area and capture a village, which they did there a few months ago, they do what ISIS does: they capture locals, they do gruesome beheadings, and terrorize the local population. We are determined to remove that cell from the southwest.

And importantly, as you know, we concluded with the Jordanians – and the Jordanians were a critical driver of this process, our critical ally Jordan – a ceasefire in the southwest with Jordan and Russia. And that ceasefire was concluded on July 9th. It was finalized in Hamburg between President Trump and President Putin, and it went into effect on July 11th. So we’re well into the third week of it now, and the results have been quite promising thus far. The fighting has largely stopped.

There’s a couple reasons for this. Unlike some other ceasefires that have been tried in Syria, this ceasefire was a result of months of negotiation with the Jordanians, who really know the terrain, and with the Russians, who were there representing effectively the Syrian regime. Painstaking negotiation, what we call the line of contact, meter by meter throughout the southwest and throughout Dara’a City, so everybody understood where they could go and where they could not go. And that map was initialed by all three parties, and the ceasefire went into effect on July 11th.

We’re now seeing civilians beginning to return to this area, which is very promising, and beginning to see landmines being removed as the fighting has stopped. So we’re working very hard to make sure that that ceasefire remains in effect, and so far it’s promising.

We also, if you look at the last six months in Syria and you look at the data that the UN puts out, it’s actually interesting to just look at the trend data that the UN puts out in terms of IDPs and refugee flows. This is from UNHCR. In the last six months in this calendar year, about 440,000 IDPs in Syria have actually returned to their homes. That’s a statistic you normally don’t see in six-month increments. And 31,000 Syrian refugees, meaning Syrians who fled outside of Syria, have also now returned to their homes in the first six months of this year. So again, the reverse of the migrant refugee outflow – that’s an important indicator and something, obviously, we want to continue; very much in our interests and the interests of our critical partners in this part of the world, particularly Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, and, of course, our partners in Europe.

Back up on Syria writ large – the Secretary spoke with this and I can delve into it a little bit more. If you think about really two phases in Syria, right now this is phase one. We want to defeat ISIS. We have to defeat ISIS because ISIS is trying to plan major attacks against us and our partners, as I mentioned, and they’re still trying to do that. So long as ISIS is holding territory, pretending to hold this caliphate with people under its domain, the long-term political settlement in Syria goes increasingly out of reach, and our first priority is to protect our homeland. So number one, defeat ISIS. In parallel in phase one, want to de-escalate the overall violence in Syria through a combination of de-escalation – deconfliction arrangements and de-escalation areas such as the ceasefire we’ve reached in the southwest. So we’re in phase one right now: defeat ISIS, de-escalate the overall situation.

In parallel in Geneva, very important talks about a future constitutional process, about a future internationally monitored elections in which all Syrians, including the diaspora, can vote. That is a condition that is enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution, 2254, and we are determined to getting to that point. So as the Secretary discussed, defeat ISIS, get de-escalation arrangements in place, quiet down the overall situation, which sets the conditions for an ultimate political solution, political settlement of the civil war. And at the end of that process – and we can’t put a timeline on it, but at the end of that process, we do not envision Bashar al-Assad being in control of Syria from Damascus. Whether that is through a constitutional process or an election or some combination, that is very important, and some people asked us, well, why do you say that?

Look, it’s just reality. Syria – by World Bank estimates, about – more than $200 billion to reconstruct Syria. It’s probably many multiples of that, and the international community is not going to come to the aid of Syria until there is a credible political horizon that can lead to a credible transition in Damascus. That is the reality. So we are working through this two-phase structure and are very committed to that roadmap that is outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

Let me just jump over to Iraq, and I’ll start with the yellow gumball number five. The number five is just to the west now of Tal Afar, and I have it there because Mosul – as you know, the battle of Mosul has now completed, but since the battle has completed, again, the less glamorous but just as important phase of stabilization and humanitarian support is very much underway. And again, this is very important. The reason we brought almost 70 countries here to the State Department in March was to make sure we had the resources necessary for the post-ISIS phase in Mosul. In total in Mosul, we saw 940,000 – the scale of Mosul compared to Raqqa is just – it’s really hardly – not even comparable. Raqqa, as I mentioned, we think there’s about 25,000 civilians in Raqqa; Mosul is a city of about 1.5 million people. Displaced from Mosul total – about 940,000 Moslawis were displaced from the fighting, but most importantly, all of them received aid. This is almost, again, unprecedented in terms of a humanitarian response. You did not see thousands of people stranded. All of them received aid and assistance, and this was because of the planning that went into the humanitarian response plan together with the military plan.

Of the $2 billion that was raised in March – that’s about 500 million or so from the U.S. – again, the ratio that we’ve mentioned before, we try to make sure that it’s about three or four to one in terms of coalition contributions to U.S. contributions when it comes to stabilization and humanitarian response, and that’s a ratio we are looking to grow over the coming weeks. Currently in Mosul about 838,000 people remain displaced. We’ve had returnees of about 240,000.

We’re working very hard now in west Mosul – when I say “we,” I mean the Government of Iraq, our coalition, the United Nations, and the people of Nineveh Province – on stabilization projects. So in west Mosul, where the damage is far more extensive than east Mosul, engineers – part of our stabilization program funded in part by our coalition – they’ve assessed about 200 schools, 20 electrical substations, seven sewage treatment plants, hospitals, police stations, again, de-mining, making sure they’re refurbished to set the conditions for people to return. The model is east Mosul, where the battle ended about six months ago, and we already have – about 350,000 children are back in school and the population has really returned. And if you talk to people who have walked the streets of east Mosul, I think they come back with that – with that story, seeing it with their own eyes. A lot of problems, to say the least, but we’re seeing people return to their homes and we’re seeing life return.

Long-term reconstruction, as the Secretary mentioned. We’re focused on the immediate stabilization. Long-term reconstruction is not – again, don’t look to the United States to fit the bill for long-term reconstruction. This is an international problem. ISIS is a challenge for the entire world. That is why we built a coalition of 74 partners, one of the largest coalitions in history, and I also give great credit to the Iraqi Government because they are looking to fund – how to fund their long-term reconstruction needs. They have a standby arrangement with the IMF, and they just passed a very difficult budget amendment through their parliament. This is the kind of the difficult stuff that doesn’t get much attention, but that really pays dividends down the road. That releases another nearly a billion dollars from the IMF.

They, the Iraqi Government, unveiled their – what they call 2030 vision to the World Bank a couple weeks ago about reforms that they are committed to to help fuel their international financing of their reconstruction. And Kuwait, His Highness, the Emir Sheikh Sabah, has announced that Kuwait will host a long-term reconstruction conference for Iraq probably in the early part of next year. So those are obviously efforts that we will support.

When it comes to the next phase of the ISIS campaign in Tal Afar, that will probably be the next battle. It’ll happen at a time of the choosing of the Government of Iraq. We estimate there’s about 1,000 ISIS fighters or so in Tal Afar among 20 to 40,000 civilians. So somewhat similar to Raqqa; a little bit smaller, but it’ll be very difficult. This has been a hub for ISIS for three years, it has been the home for many of their leaders, it has been a place where terrible atrocities were committed against not only Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Yezidis. In this terrible fulcrum of ISIS atrocities, many of them happened in Tal Afar. This will be very, very hard. The Iraqis are committed to liberating the people of Tal Afar, and we are committed to supporting them at a time of their choosing.

Yellow gumball number six – this is Hawija. We estimate about 1,000 ISIS fighters in there. Again, numbers are hard to – sometimes hard to go by. About 50,000 or so civilians in that pocket of territory – 50 to 80,000 if you kind of look at the environs. This will also be a very complex operation and this – similar to Mosul, this will have to involve cooperation between the Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi Security Forces, and forces local to the area. And Secretary Tillerson spoke actually over the last couple days with Prime Minister Abadi and with President Barzani of the Kurdistan region about some of these next steps and about our position on some very important issues that Iraq is confronting.

Go quickly to the number seven. That is al-Qaim. That has also been a heartland of ISIS. We will support the Iraqi Security Forces as they clear that and restore sovereignty to their border with legitimate Iraqi Security Forces, and we’re of course preparing for that. Number eight – I’ll just do eight and nine quickly. Eight and nine are important because this is kind of the phase after ISIS, and we’re asked a lot about what comes after ISIS. So number eight, this is the main border crossing between Iraq and Jordan. It’s about a billion dollars a month commerce route – very important for our key ally of Jordan, of course very important for Iraq, the Government of Iraq, and also Anbar province.

The Iraqis and the Jordanians have been working now to set the conditions to open that highway, and we hope that can happen fairly soon, and I give them great credit for what they’re putting in place. To get that open, that billion dollar a month commerce route, that’s very important for the future of this region and obviously something that we are supporting both governments, encouraging them to move forward on that.

And number nine, the Arar border crossing with Saudi Arabia, this is a border crossing that has been closed since 1990. Multiple U.S. administrations have encouraged an opening between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Those doors have remained closed, really for decades, but we achieved a breakthrough. The Iraqis and the Saudis, an initiative that they really launched on their own, a breakthrough between Baghdad and Riyadh, which had now led to an – not only exchanges of visits, but exchanges of key ministers and talking now about opening that key border crossing for the first time since 1990. Again, a critical commerce route, and that’s how you can kind of see the post-ISIS situation come into shape. That’s very important, which is why I wanted to include the nine on the map.

Let me just say briefly, beyond Iraq and Syria, why is it so important? Because this is the so-called caliphate. The caliphate is what drew so many of these foreign fighters to join ISIS and what makes it a global network. They try to fund their so-called affiliates around the world from the resources that they pick up in Iraq and Syria. We have dramatically targeted and degraded their ability to resource themselves. We’ve dramatically degraded their ability to get foreign fighters into Syria. It’s almost impossible for them to do that now. And we are working to sever all of their financial connections.

I thought I’d highlight, just finally, a way that we work throughout our interagency, which again doesn’t get – sometimes doesn’t get as much attention. The Treasury Department has a very robust program for finding who in the organization of ISIS is a leader, who is handling money, and making sure we designate those people so that they can never have any access to the international financial system. And some of our colleagues, now recently confirmed officials at the Treasury Department – Sigal Mandelker, Marshall Billingslea – have done a great job in this.

And what’s really important, and when you see a ISIS list of designees, that means they’ll never have access to the financial system. Whatever we know of their finances are frozen. A lot of these guys living in the Euphrates Valley probably never expect to have access to the international financial system. But if their name – if you’re in ISIS and your name shows up on a Treasury designation list, you’re not just being targeted by the Treasury Department. So that is why there is a very close correlation between announcing a designee and then eliminating these people from the battlefield. And even since June of this year, three critical financial facilitators from ISIS have been killed in coalition airstrikes in that Euphrates Valley area.

I think you’re all fairly familiar with what we’re doing – counter-messaging, working with our partners in the region, counter-foreign fighters. We talked about that before when I was here a couple weeks ago, so I won’t go too deeply into that.

I would just conclude where I started on this map of the caliphate, rapidly shrinking – 30 percent of their territorial losses in the last six months alone, 20,000 square kilometers in the last six months alone. That is due to some changes we have made in the campaign, and we are going to continue to accelerate the pressure on ISIS until this entire organization collapses and they cannot hold any physical territory from which they can threaten us.

So with that, I think I have time for a few questions.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. McGurk. Just one question. You said that the United States is – don’t look at the United States for long-term reconstruction, you’ll be engaged in just stabilizing the areas that are retaken. So what does that mean for your partnership with the Peshmerga or with the Kurds? Does that mean your partnership is about to come to an end, because it seems to me that most of the areas that are predominantly Kurdish have been retaken and also kind of stabilized?

MR MCGURK: Let me be very clear of what I mean. So in terms of our military partnership, our training, our equipping relationships – the Iraqi Government has a budget and their military force is about $10 billion, and they actually look to the United States to be their primary supplier. They’re buying our F-16s. They’re buying our equipment. That’s something that we very much intend to continue. Our training relationship with the Peshmerga in coordination with the Government of Iraq is also something that is historic and that I think would intend to continue.

When it comes to the long-term reconstruction of these areas, that is not something the U.S. can do on its own, nor is it something we should do on our own. That is why we built an international coalition of 74 members to help, and that’s why the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international financial institutions – it’s very important for them to be engaged here and critically important for the future of Iraq for the GCC to be engaged. That’s why we’re very encouraged by the reconstruction conference that the Kuwaitis have announced that they will host.

So we have an important role. We recognize our role as the United States of America. But it is not the U.S. alone, because ISIS is a threat to the whole world.

QUESTION: Hi, Brett. Just a few questions. First of all, can you tell us whether the overall deterioration in Russian relations with America have had any impact on your coordination in Syria? I know the Secretary said you were still working on it, but have you felt any impact?

And then you said that you got this deconfliction line or ceasefire line in the south but deconfliction arrangements in other areas. Are there any other areas where that might shift to more of a – an agreement, or is that something that we – that you’d see after Raqqa is finished?

And then I have one other question, but I can come back to you after that.

MR MCGURK: So it’s a great question. So no, so far we’ve not seen an effect on our engagement with the Russians when it comes to Syria. And most of those engagements, as I mentioned, are professional military-to-military engagements, literally airmen talking to airmen to make sure we don’t – we avoid accidents.

The second part of your question is also very important. So the southwest, that is the one area where we’ve reached kind of a – it’s a political agreement about a ceasefire, and with that agreement is not just a deconfliction line with a ceasefire between the two sides, it also talks about political arrangements in the area, making sure opposition arrangements can actually remain intact. You’re kind of freezing everything in place. It’s a very detailed arrangement. So it’s an actual ceasefire arrangement with the Russians. That is the only part of the country that we have come to such an arrangement. If there are other opportunities – to build on the military-to-military talks that have gone very well, if there are other opportunities to reach those types of arrangements to help settle down Syria in an interim phase, we’re very much open to that. And so obviously, that’s something that we’ll be talking to the Russians about, but so far the southwest is really – is the only place that we have locked in place this ceasefire.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, the – there have been reports that the CIA has stopped funding for the – its program to fund the Syrian opposition that’s fighting Assad. Is that – you said the opposition was frozen in place. Does that mean that the people you’ve – I’m just wondering how the – what’s happening to them? Are they protected in this arrangement if you’re no longer supporting them?

MR MCGURK: Yeah, so I can’t – well, it’s – I’m not going to talk about any of that. I can just say the agreement that we reached with Russia has a very detailed ceasefire line. The Russians have put their monitors on the northern side of the line in Syrian regime territory to help monitor regime violations, and so far the fighting has entirely stopped. And as we begin to see people return to their homes, you begin to see an increase of humanitarian aid. That is when you can get into a self-sustaining – self-sustaining cycle, which is what we’re working towards.

QUESTION: As part of the post-ISIS political system, the kind of changes that all this fighting is bringing about politically, for the Kurds the key issue is the independence referendum. What’s your position on that? Are the Iraqi elections a factor in your considerations?

MR MCGURK: Again, I think we’ve spoken to this. We are – we do not believe this referendum is a good idea. It is ill-timed. It is not well-prepared, I mentioned Hawija alone where critical engagements against ISIS still have to take place with full cooperation from the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Security Forces, and it could have potentially catastrophic consequences. So obviously, we’re in very detailed discussions with the Iraqi leaders over this, and that’s one reason Secretary Tillerson made a couple of important calls over the last couple days.

QUESTION: Is the question – is the question a question of timing or of the referendum itself?

MR MCGURK: Look, we’re focused right now on this referendum that Kurdish authorities have said they want to hold on September 25th. It’s something the U.S. Government is – firmly, firmly opposes.


QUESTION: Did you say – when you talk about the numbers that are left in Iraq and Syria, how many of the ones that have left the area do you think are dead versus kind of fleed the region? Where do you see them – the bulk of them going? Are they going more to Libya, are they going to Europe, and how do you think that’s – once you consider ISIS kind of defeated in Raqqa and Iraq, what’s the benchmark for that and how do you see the next kind of iteration of the coalition in terms of once you consider ISIS quote/unquote “defeated?”

MR MCGURK: So it’s a great question and, look, until the – until we – and we worked very closely with Turkey to help seal the entire border. So there’s east of the Euphrates River where we did a lot on the Syrian side of the border, there’s west of the Euphrates River where the Turkish operation, Euphrates Shield, not only liberated Jarabulus and al-Rai, which were two key border crossings, but also retook the town of Dabiq, which was like the spiritual – the spiritual kind of – in ISIS propaganda, they believe the final battle would happen in Dabiq. It was this kind of calling for people from all around the world, and they actually changed their magazine after that operation from Dabiq to Rumiyah. In any event, that was a very important operation in Euphrates Shield.

Since the border has been sealed, ISIS fighters are not getting in and they’re also not getting out. I can’t guarantee that in ones and twosies they can’t find a smuggling route, but they were coming by the thousands and it’s down at least by 90 percent, and we are not finding ISIS fighters being able to leave Syria. Not too long ago, what they would do is plan a terrorist attack in Raqqa, they would train a unit – kind of a terrorist combat unit – they would then infiltrate out, they would hang out in Manbij, they would then infiltrate out and go conduct an attack such as in Paris or in the Brussels airport. That’s what they used to do, and they were developing that capacity. They cannot do that anymore.

So what are we doing? We’re building a database of who these people are as we find names on the battlefield, and we have a very robust, through our coalition intelligence gathering – we call it sensitive site exploitation – if we find a cell phone, an address book, we vet the names, we find out who they are, we share them with host nations. So if it’s a French name, we’ll share it with French authorities. And we’ve built a database now of almost 19,000 names which are now all in an INTERPOL database so that any member of our coalition, any member of INTERPOL has access to that database, so that if there’s somebody that fought in Syria and happened to have gotten out and in a routine border stop or routine search, routine traffic stop, they can actually be identified.

So the next phase of the coalition is obviously a little less emphasis on the ground operations in Iraq and Syria, because those ultimately will conclude. Although we have some time to go, they ultimately will conclude. It is information sharing – that is the critical enabler to helping us protect our homelands against these people.

And that’s one reason this coalition – we heard it when we all gathered here a couple weeks ago – it’s strong, will remain intact, and continues to grow. We just added four African countries to the coalition about three weeks ago, because this is a global network, and as we make – as we succeed against these networks, more and more countries want to come join and be part of this.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. McGurk, I have a few questions. First of all, as you know, the Special Forces – U.S. Special Forces Commander General Thomas at Aspen talk said the U.S. urged YPG to rebrand itself to avoid Turkish concerns and give the group a voice in Syria’s future. And he added that, in a quote, that’s how “McGurk was able to keep them in the conversation.” So is this rebranding itself, is this your idea?

And secondly, any plan on going into Deir ez-Zor once Raqqa is cleared?

And lastly, is YPG going to return from the lands which belongs to Arabs once everything is settled down? Thank you.

MR MCGURK: Okay, so General Thomas has done an incredible job from day one of this campaign, going all the way back to the battle of Kobani, and you might remember Kobani surrounded by thousands of ISIS fighters. Had Kobani fallen, the whole border would have been gone to ISIS. And it was some of our friends in Iraq – our Kurdish friends in Iraq – who actually put us in touch with some of the Kurdish fighters in Kobani at the time to develop some contacts, allowed us to get some military equipment to them. And then we worked very closely with Turkey – I was a part of this; I was in Ankara – to open a corridor for the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga to come into Kobani to help turn the tide of that battle. It was a historic moment, and over the course of the battle of Kobani, we killed 6,000 ISIS fighters. It was the first time they lost a battle and it really was the turning point.

So after that battle, when we met some of the fighters from Kobani and we said, look, how are we going to really take the fight to ISIS in some of these other areas? We have to recruit Arabs into the force. And so you have to have an umbrella that embraces the Arab component of the force, with the key principle being – it’s our key principle in Syria – as areas are liberated from ISIS, they should return to the local people from those areas. That’s first and foremost our priority. So therefore we had to have an umbrella that would bring in as many people as possible – Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Syriacs, all these guys – working together as a cohesive force, not working together as different units, which is not militarily effective. And so General Thomas was a part of that, and it’s actually been very effective. Again, as I said, all of our training classes are full. They’re full of Sunni Arabs, they’re full of Christians, they’re full of people from these areas who want to liberate their towns. So I think overall it has been successful.

Deir ez-Zor. Deir ez-Zor is on the map. It’s just to the northwest of yellow gumball number two. What makes Deir ez-Zor complicated, it is a – it’s a city with an airfield in which Syrian army forces have been surrounded and besieged by ISIS for almost three years. They have some thousands of their own fighters in there. Some of their best units are in there surrounded by ISIS. And Syrian army forces are determined to break the siege of Deir ez-Zor. I think just look at what the Russian – there was a Russian general who gave a briefing a few weeks ago, talked about that operation. They’re about 140 kilometers away now. They have a pretty long ways to go. I think it’s a decent assumption that over time – it’s going to take them some time – they will probably succeed in that mission, but how much further they go from there is something that remains to be seen and is why we’ll be in fairly detailed discussions with the Russians through military channels on that.

QUESTION: Thank you. After ISIS is defeated, do you think that Kurdistan will be a U.S. strategic ally?

MR MCGURK: So our strategic ally are our friends in Iraq. We support the Government of Iraq. We support a unified federal – a unified federal Iraq that is strong and that is prosperous and that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors. So obviously, we have deep relations in the Kurdistan Region – in Erbil, in Sulaymaniyah, with all the Kurdish parties – and I think that is something that goes back many, many decades and is something that will continue. But we’ll also continue working, of course, through the Government of Iraq, within the Iraqi constitutional system, to support a unified and federal Iraq.

QUESTION: A couple of questions. First, have you sorted out your differences with Turkey regarding last week’s panel? There was statements from the State Department. And in that panel, you kept mentioning Idlib as a safe haven for al-Qaida in Syria. And it’s not on this map, obviously, but when you are done with these nine points on this map, does the coalition have any plans for Idlib in the future?

And the last question is regarding Bashiqa in Iraq. As far as I know, when there was this problem about the Turkish presence in Bashiqa, and you guys brokered some sort of a deal between Baghdad and Ankara, and the condition was that Mosul will be liberated. Since we are there, can you confirm that Turkish presence is coming to an end, and are there still Turkish troops in that region? Thank you.

MR MCGURK: A lot of complex questions there – (laughter) – if you know these issues. Yeah. So I did a 90-minute panel and about 30 seconds of the panel got some attention. I think it was very badly mischaracterized. I think we’ve spoken to this, as I mentioned, and I mentioned in most of my public remarks we have worked very closely with Turkey to help seal the border. I mentioned in the battle of Kobani working with the Turks to open up that corridor for the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Euphrates Shield Operation. All these things are very important.

At the same time, this problem of foreign fighters is a problem for all of us. So 40,000 foreign fighters that came to join ISIS came from 110 countries all around the world. They came through Turkey. And that is a problem. This is very important. That’s not just a problem for Turkey. That’s a problem for these – what we call the source countries too. So if you have 4,000 people coming from Tunisia, 4,000 coming from Saudi Arabia, the Tunisians, the Saudis, all these countries have to do work to make sure that they do all they can to stop the people traveling. And through our coalition, through our coalition working group on foreign fighters, we’ve done an awful lot to help close down those routes. I give the Saudis tremendous credit. I give the Turks tremendous credit in working on this problem.

Idlib province is a serious problem. It is a haven now for al-Qaida. And I think what my remarks reflected is that this is a problem, as we’ve done when it comes to ISIS, that we have to work together with Turkey and with our other partners to deal with this problem. So – and I think over the coming weeks we’ll be having those conversations.

On the question of – you asked about Bashiqa. What was your second question in between?

QUESTION: It was Bashiqa.

MR MCGURK: Yeah. So Bashiqa is an issue between the Government of Iraq and the Government of Turkey. It is our position that we want the Government of Iraq and the Government to have very strong ties. I think Prime Minister Abadi has had a number of phone calls with Prime Minister Yildirim and with President Erdogan, very constructive calls, and I am confident that we can get this issue worked out in a way that helps improve the relations between both of these important allies and that therefore helps improve stability in this important part of the world.


MS NAUERT: Let’s do your last question.

MR MCGURK: Yeah, thanks.

MS NAUERT: Thanks, Brett. Let’s move on.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) today the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that negotiations are taking place between coalition force, U.S. forces, and a Syrian opposition force called Maghawir al-Thawra to create a national army in the southern side of Hasakah city. Can you comment on this? And if it’s the case, why did the U.S. withdraw arms from the Free Syrian Army?

Another question, please. Do you know the Lebanese army is about to launch an operation against ISIS? Does the coalition intends to lend air support to the Lebanese army in its fight against ISIS?

MR MCGURK: Many things there I just – I’m not going to comment on, including a report from the Syrian Observatory which I haven’t seen. And when it comes to Lebanon, we had a very successful visit from Prime Minister Hariri here. And he had public remarks with President Trump, and I think I’d let those remarks stand on their own. But Lebanon is a critical ally that we want to see succeed.

QUESTION: Can I – I had to leave for a second.


QUESTION: Can I – just you – someone probably already answered this. And if you have already answered it, then don’t bother; I’ll just look at the transcript. Did someone ask you about what the Secretary said about stabilization, rebuild the basic – or not rebuild but restore basic utilities and then --

MR MCGURK: Yeah, Matt. I went into that in some detail.

QUESTION: No, no, no. Then Iran. If that’s what you’re going to do, why are you confident that you’re not leaving a vacuum that the Iranians will exploit? If you’ve answered it, don’t --

MR MCGURK: So I didn’t get into an Iranian element, but I think our focus, don’t – don’t dismiss the importance of stabilization. What stabilization means is setting the conditions for people to return to their homes. It means water, electricity, sewage, rubble removal, demining. And what we find is that as people return to their homes – in Anbar province alone, for example, you have a million people who were displaced from ISIS who are now back in areas that used to be under control of ISIS. These are fairly sophisticated people in some of these areas. You see life return to the streets. You see the markets full. You see the schools open.

And so as you help with stabilization, you see the elements set in place for people to return. And I mean, all I can say is the numbers speak for themselves. Two million Iraqis who were displaced are back in areas that used to be controlled by ISIS. So --

QUESTION: I get that. But you’re seeing the Iranian influence vastly greater now, are you not?

MR MCGURK: You’re seeing the Iranians kind of flood the market with some of their products and things. And I think the long-term bet – and it’s something we’re talking with the Iraqis about – we have GE doing multibillion dollar – these are all private deals, not done by the U.S. Government – private deals about long-term electricity generation in Baghdad. That’s being done by General Electric. We have some of the best American oil firms helping to regenerate some of the fields in the south, helping to capture flare gas and export it to Kuwait – the kind of things that make a tremendous, tremendous difference. That’s being done by American firms.

QUESTION: And you see that in Syria, too?

MR MCGURK: Again, Syria long term – long-term reconstruction of Syria is really dependent upon getting a credible political horizon on the table. As I mentioned, Matt – I think you might have stepped out – until there is that credible political horizon, the international community is not just going to – will not be coming to the aid of – to reconstruct Syria. That’s just the reality.


MS NAUERT: Thanks, everybody. Have a great weekend.

MR MCGURK: Thank you.

          What The Oil Drum Meant        

The popular peak oil blog The Oil Drum (TOD) began in early 2005.  I joined as a contributor in mid 2005, later becoming an editor, and I left the site in early 2008.  TOD continued in the meantime, at least up until now when the current editors have decided to transition to an archival format.  They don't feel the quality and quantity of post submissions justify continuing.  They asked a number of us old-timers to comment on the significance of TOD, and these are my reflections.

I start with the chart above.  It shows, from 1950-2012, world oil production annually (red curve, left scale), and real oil prices annually (blue curve, right scale).  I show in green boxes two regions of major disruption, and between them two regions of relatively calm behavior (in white).

The orderly region from 1950 to 1973 was characterized by very rapid growth in oil production that was achieved at very modest oil prices (around $20/barrel in 2011 dollars).

Then in 1973 came the Arab oil embargo, followed in 1979 by the Iranian revolution and then the Iraq-Iran war.  These events caused a series of sharp but relatively short-lived contractions in the global oil supply.  The result was huge price increases, and a permanent change in the way the world used oil.

After the dust settled in the mid eighties, oil production resumed growing fairly steadily, but never again at the frenetic pace of before the seventies - from now on society was more concerned with fuel efficiency and grew oil consumption more slowly.  Prices fell into the $30 range, and remained there, give or take, for the next couple of decades.  This was the second period of stability in the oil markets since WWII.

Then, in late 2004, global oil production largely stopped growing and entered a rough plateau.  Prices began to shoot up, reaching well over $100/barrel within a few years, and largely staying there to this day (making allowance for a sharp downward fluctuation during the great recession).

There sprang up a large debate about the meaning of these events.  The Oil Drum in particular I believe came to function as a central node in this debate, and one of the best places to hear a range of views that were based on a close analysis of the available data.  The reason TOD is now coming to a close is that the need for this particular debate is over, at least for the time being.  The data have spoken.

One extreme in this debate was what came to be known as cornucopians, epitomized by Daniel Yergin of the consultancy CERA.  He made a long series of predictions that oil production would resume growing and prices would fall any day now.  This was most famously satirized in a graph by Glenn Morton:

Obviously, this didn't happen.  Oil production has not risen rapidly, and prices have not returned anywhere close to the pre-2004 idea of normal.

Another extreme in the debate were "doomers" who believed that global oil production would begin to fall very rapidly, very soon, because peak oil was upon us.  "We're all gonna die" was the logical implication.  One such forecaster was TOD contributor Ace who produced a series of forecasts like this one which showed oil production beginning a precipitous decline as of the date of the forecast:

The same piece forecast oil prices to rise rapidly and steadily and pass $200/barrel by the end of 2012. That didn't happen either.

I'm not sure anyone predicted the last eight years perfectly (including me).  Still, on the whole, the various "moderates" in the debate came closest.  What has actually occurred can best be seen in this graph which shows monthly oil production from a variety of data sources from 2002 onward:

The green curve is the EIA's estimate of the production of "crude and condensate" - C&C - which is a fairly narrow definition of oil that largely measures liquid hydrocarbons that flow out of the ground.  The other curves show various estimates of "all liquids", which adds things like biofuels and "natural gas liquids" - compounds like propane and butane removed from natural gas production.  These aren't really oil, but can substitute for it to varying degrees and so are often counted with it.

The crude-and-condensate curve is bumpy, but does slope upward slightly.  The all liquids curve slopes up more, reflecting the fact that global natural gas production has increased steadily.  High oil prices and government policies also induced a biofuel boom after 2005.

Thus we seem to live in a world in which, although traditional sources of oil are declining in many places, high oil prices (around $100-$120) are able to bring out enough low quality sources of hydrocarbon to offset this decline and just a bit more.  Examples include oil fracced from very tight rocks in North Dakota, and tar sands production in Canada.  These sources are difficult enough to bring on line that prices have not crashed, but are sufficient to prevent global oil production from actually declining.  Clearly, we have not passed peak oil yet, and it's not at all clear when we will.

In the meantime, the situation has gotten quite dull.  I compile graphs of oil production every month, and it's gotten somewhat akin to watching paint dry; every month, it's pretty much flat, and I tire of saying the same things over and over again.

On the other hand, we certainly don't live in the pre-2004 world any more.  Oil prices are high, and there seems little prospect that they will ever fall below $100/barrel for any sustained period.  If for no other reason, Saudi Arabia needs an oil price somewhere around there to balance its budget, and they are always in a position to force the price to stay above that threshold by modest decreases in their production.

Furthermore, the situation remains very vulnerable to disruption.  Whereas in the eighties and nineties there was large amounts of spare capacity in oil production, nowadays there is little, and perhaps almost none.  Any disruption in any sizeable oil producer will cause a large price spike - as we saw in 2011 when a revolution in Libya, which produced less than 2% of the world's oil, caused a sizeable price spike.

As I write, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran are all subject to varying degrees of economic and political turmoil.  We in the west are apparently about to bomb the Syrian government, as an interesting experiment to see what that does to the stability of the Middle East.

I assume at some point a large oil producer will descend into turmoil and then there will be a large price spike, and that may kick the global oil market out of the current meta-stable state.  However, there is no telling when that might happen.  In the mean time, oil production slowly creeps upward, and oil prices are around $100-$120.

One final point worth making: while global oil production has not peaked, oil consumption by the developed OECD countries almost certainly has.  Since China, India, the Middle East, etc are all growing their production rapidly, and global supply is almost stagnant, OECD consumption must decline, and it has been:

I do not expect OECD consumption of oil to surpass its 2005 peak.
          Montreal's Festival du nouveau cinéma Reveals Its Line-Up        
Today, Montreal's Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC), which will take place between October 12 to 23. Here's the complete line-up of feature films according to the press release we received.

Opening and closing

The 40th edition of the FNC kicks off on Wednesday, October 12, with Declaration of War by Valérie Donzelli (France) at Cinéma Impérial (Centre Sandra & Leo Kolber, Salle Lucie & André Chagnon). This critically-acclaimed second feature by Valérie Donzelli (The Queen of Hearts) tells the love story of Roméo and Juliette who are battling to save their sick child. The director and her producer Edouard Weil will be in attendance.

Ten days later, on Saturday, October 22, Monsieur Lazhar (Quebec/Canada) by Philippe Falardeau will close the Festival. Selected to represent Canada at the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, Monsieur Lahzar shows the efforts of an Algerian schoolteacher to help his Grade 6 students come to terms with their teacher’s death. Between the opening and closing dates, the FNC will be in celebratory mode, highlighting the social relevance of featured works.

International Selection: Louve d’Or presented by Quebecor

The International Selection is an opportunity for relative unknowns to make their mark. This year, there are 19 contenders for the Louve d’Or, which includes a $15,000 prize from Quebecor. The 19 films in competition are: Behold the Lamb, by John McIlduff (United Kingdom); Black Blood, by Miaoyan Zhang (China); Blue Bird, by Gust Van Den Berghe (France/Belgium); Elena, by Andrey Zvyagintsev (Russia); The Giants, by Bouli Lanners (France/Belgium/Luxemburg); The Island, by Kamen Kalev (Bulgaria/Sweden); The Last Christeros, by Matias Meyer (Mexico/Netherlands); Nuit #1, by Anne Émond (Quebec/Canada); OK, Enough, Goodbye, by Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia (Lebanon/United Arab Emirates); Oslo, August 31st, by Joachim Trier (Norway); Play, by Ruban Östlund (Sweden/France/Denmark); Shame, by Steve McQueen (United Kingdom); Toll Booth, by Tolga Karacelik (Turkey); Tomboy, by Céline Sciamma (France); Twilight Portrait, by Angelina Nikonova (Russia); Volcano, by Runar Runarsson (Iceland/Denmark); Wasted Youth, by Argyris Papadimitropoulos (Greece); White White World, by Oleg Novkovic (Serbia); and Without, by Mark Jackson (United States).

Special Presentation

Twenty-five films by established filmmakers will be screened in this year’s Special Presentation section, which features strong, committed works that reflect their creators’ bold vision: 30 tableaux, by Paule Baillargeon (Quebec/Canada); Les Amants, by Nicolas Klotz & Elisabeth Perceval (France); An Organisation of Dreams – Part 2 – Dangerous People, by Ken McMullen (United Kingdom); L’Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close), and De la guerre, Bertrand Bonello (France); Stopped on Track, Andrea Dresen (Germany); Norwegian Wood, Tran Anh Hung (Japan); Early One Morning, Jean-Marc Moutout (France/Belgium); Décharge, Benoît Pilon (Quebec/Canada); Faust, Alexander Sokurov (Russia); Almayer’s Folly, Chantal Akerman (France/Belgium); U2-From the Sky Down, Davis Guggenheim (United States); Hanezu, Naomi Kawaze (Japan); Hard Core Logo II, Bruce McDonald (Canada); Outside Satan, Bruno Dumont (France); Il se peut que la beauté ait renforcé notre résolution – Masao Adachi, Philippe Grandieux (France); Louis Martin, journaliste, Louis Bélanger (Quebec/Canada); Melancholia, Lars Von Trier (Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany); My Paris Movie, Jonas Mekas (United States); Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey); The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar (Spain); Pina, Wim Wenders (Germany/France); Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley (Canada); The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr (Hungary); and A Separation, Asghar Farhadi (Iran).

International Panorama

Festivalgoers can tour the world, exploring countless new realities through a wide array of works, including comedies, documentaries, road movies and dramas. The 27 films in this year’s International Panorama section are: Abderrahmane Sissako: Une fenêtre sur le monde, by Charles Castella (France); Absolutely Tame Is a Horse (Asb Heyvan-e Najibist), by Abdolreza Kahani (Iran); Acorazado, by Alvaro Curiel de Icaza (Mexico); Avé, by Konstantin Bojanov (Bulgaria); Chico & Rita, by Javier Mariscal & Fernando Trueba (Spain); Cultures of Resistance, by Iara Lee (United States); Do Me Love, by Jacky Katu & Lou Viger (France); End of the Night, by Daisuke Miyazaki (Japan); Flying Home, by Tobias Wyss (Switzerland); Pio’s Generation (La Generación de Pio), by Juan Rodrigo & Pedro Rodrigo (Spain); Goodnight Nobody, by Jacqueline Zünd (Switzerland/Germany); The Furious Force of Rhymes, by Joshua Atesh Litle (France); Land of Oblivion, by Michale Boganim (France/Germany/Poland/Ukraine); Last Road to the Beach (A Última estrada da praia), by Fabiano De Souza (Brazil); Melting Away, by Doron Eran (Israel/Canada); Mike, by Lars Blumers (France); Mondo Lux – The Visual Worlds of Werner Schroeter, by Elfi Mikesch (Germany); Our Ancestors The Gauls, by Christian Zerbib (France); Policeman (Hashoter), by Nadav Lapid (Israel); The First Rasta, by Hélène Lee (France); Searching for Hassan, by Edouard Beau (France); The Terrorists (Poo Kor Karn Rai), by Thunska Pansittivorakul (Thailand/Germany); Three and a Half (Seh-O-Nim), by Naghi Nemati (Iran); A Life for Ballet, by Marlène Ionesco (France); The Life and Death of Celso Junior, by Panayotis Evangelidis (Greece); Vinyl (Tales from the Vienna Underground), by Andrew C. Standen-Razlrish (Austria/United Kingdom) and Y’a pire ailleurs, by Jean-Henri Meunier (France).


Turning the spotlight on homegrown talent, the Focus section presents original, unseen Quebec and Canadian works that wow, amaze and offer food for thought. This year’s lineup includes 9 films in competition for the Grand Prix Focus/Cinémathèque québécoise with a $5,000 prize, as well as 10 non-competing films. Opening the section on October 13 is the visually ambitious documentary Surviving Progress, by Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks (Canada). Also in competition: Amy George, by Yonah Lewis & Calvin Thomas (Canada); The Girl in the White Coat, by Darrell Wasyk (Canada); Fortunate Son, by Tony Asimakopoulos (Quebec/Canada); I am a good person/I am a bad person, by Ingrid Veninger (Canada); Laurentie, by Simon Lavoie & Mathieu Denis (Quebec/Canada); Marginal Road, by Yassaman Ameri (Quebec/Canada/Portugal); Peace Park, by David Bouthillier (Quebec/Canada); and Romeo Eleven, by Ivan Grbovic (Quebec/Canada). The non-competing films are: Alejandro Jodorowsky, grand rectum de l’Université de Foulosophie, by François Gourd & Matthieu Bouchard (Quebec/Canada); Another Silence, by Santiago Amigorena (Quebec/Canada/France/Argentina); National Parks Project, by Louise Archambault, Keith Behrman, Daniel Cockburn, Hubert Davis, Sturla Gunnarsson, Zacharias Kunuk, Stéphane Lafleur, Peter Lynch, Catherine Martin, Kevin McMahon, Scott Smith, Jamie Travis and John Walker (Quebec/Canada); Le Pays des âmes, by Olivier Godin (Quebec/Canada); Planet Yoga, by Carlos Ferrand (Quebec/Canada); Dust. A Sculptor’s Journey, by Jeanne Pope (Quebec/Canada); Rasta, A Soul’s Journey, by Donisha Prendergast (Canada); République: un abécédaire populaire, by Hugo Latulippe (Quebec/Canada); Les Tickets: l’arme de la répression, by Eric “Roach” Denis (Quebec/Canada); and Touch the Sky, by Adrian Wills (Quebec/Canada).

Temps Ø

The section opens with the North American premiere of Guilty of Romance by Sion Sono (Japan), a story of ordinary mental illness in the form of a psychosexual, neofeminist punk thriller, with powerful lead actress Megumi Kagurazaka in attendance. Other big names on the program: Takahi Miike with Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (a 3D remake of Kobayashi’s masterpiece); Shinya Tsukamoto, who will present the much-anticipated Kotoko, about a mother on the brink of madness, which nabbed the Orizzonti prize at the last Venice festival. Must-see new discoveries include Our Day Will Come by Romain Gavras, a Thelma and Louise for redheads and a cross between Gaspar Noé and Bertrand Blier, starring Vincent Cassel. It’s no secret that Australian film is in a state of effervescence, represented here by two major works: the mysterious Sleeping Beauty by Julia Leigh, with rising star Emily Browning, and Justin Kruzel’s monstrous Snowtown, which got a special mention at the 2011 Cannes Critics’ Week. And . . . (drum roll), don’t miss the long-awaited world premiere of Assassin’s Creed Embers, an all-new animated short by Ubisoft studios. Expect an evening of surprises, anecdotes and of course sneak previews of the new game by the Montreal mega franchise. On the US front, look for the astonishing The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, a beautiful love story told through one of the most radical artistic performances the world has ever seen. Director Marie Losier, the darling of New York’s experimental new cinema scene, will be in attendance. We’ll also be showing Take Shelter, by Jeff Nichols, which won the Critics’ Week Grand Prix at Cannes and has everybody talking, as well as the documentary Last Fast Ride: The Love, Life and Death of a Punk Goddess, by Lilly Ayers, on punk icon Marian Anderson (with narration by Henry Rollins). Asia will also be in the spotlight with Gandu, by Quashiq Mukherjee, a proud representative of an all-new style of Indian films (Wong Kar-wai meets a pornographic ghetto rapper version of Gaspard Noé in Calcutta). Also showing will be Shirome, by Koji Shiraishi, a horror film that takes delight in terrifying a group of young female Japanese pop stars, offering a new twist on The Blair Witch Project. Finally, the latest wacky flick from Thailand — Saturday Killer, by Yuthlert Sippapak, about a hit man with severe erectile dysfunction — along with the superb Tatsumi, Eric Khoo’s tribute to renowned manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi. And, last but not least, the first real 3D porn flick, Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, by Christopher Sun Lap Key, which smashed this year’s box office records in Hong Kong and has become a true Chinese cultural phenomenon.

          Alliance Electronics SAL inaugurates its new Service Center Reception in Lebanon        
On July 25, 2011, Alliance Electronics SAL, Sony’s official distributor and Authorized after sales Service provider in Lebanon, inaugurated its new Service Center Reception in Beirut in the presence of Mr. Osamu Miura; Managing Director - Sony Gulf FZE, Mr. Michel Fattal; Vice President – Fattal Holding, Mr. Ziad Haddad; Business Manager – Alliance Electronics SAL, and Mr. Elie Nahra; Service Center Manager - Alliance Electronics SAL. Key media representatives were invited to attend this important event and enjoyed a cocktail while visiting the newly established premises.
          'Incendies' On DVD In France Sept. 21        

Denis Villeneuve Incendies, which was Canada's official entry during the latest Oscar ceremony, will come out on DVD in France on September 21.

Despite a limited theatrical release in France last March, Incendies has attracted 281,000 viewers.

The film is about a mother's (Lubna Azabal) last wish which sends Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette), two twins living in Canada, on a journey to the Middle East. According to her will, Jeanne and Simon must each carry out her final wish, which is to bring an envelope to their father, who got stuck in Lebanon during the Civil War, and also a brother, they've never heard of.

The film is already available on DVD in Canada.

          Jadwal Film Golden Theater Kediri Terbaru 2017        

Jadwal Film Bioskop Golden Theater Kediri Hari Ini 2017 - Jadwal Minggu Ini : Dunia Perfilman Indonesia semakin berkembang. Banyak sekali film - film berkualitas tinggi yang ditayangkan di Bioskop khusunya di Bioskop Golden TheaterKediri. Mulai dari Film Orang Dewasa, Remaja dan Semua Umur tentu dengan didampingi orang tua. Setiap minggu selalu ada update Film Baru di GoldenKediri.

Film Golden Kediri Hari Ini 2017 - 2018

GoldenKediri merupakan Bioskop yang paling banyak dikunjungi setiap harinya. Golden Theaterberalamat di : Jalan Hayam Wuruk No. 121-125, Kediri, Dandangan, Kec. Kota Kediri, Kota Kediri, Jawa Timur 64122. Lalu berapa harga Tiket Masuk ( HTM ) GoldenKediri ? Berikut Informasinya sekaligus Jadwal Film GoldenHari Ini atau Jadwal GoldenMinggu Ini :


Jam Tayang
NORMAL : 13.00, 15.00, 17.00, 19.00, 21.00 WIB

Harga Tiket Masuk :
HTM : Rp. 25.000
HTM : Rp. 30.000
HTM : Rp. 35.000

Jadwal Film Golden Kediri :


Show : 12.45, 15.00, 17.15, 19.30, 21.45 WIB

Show : 13.00, 15.00, 17.00, 19.00, 21.00 WIB

Show : 12.50, 15.00, 17.10, 19.20, 21.30 WIB

Show : 12.45, 15.00, 17.15 WIB
Show : 19.30, 21.15 WIB

Show : 13.00, 15.00, 17.00, 19.00, 21.00 WIB

JAM : 10.00 WIB

Jadwal Film Golden Kediri Yang Akan Datang

Selain berlibur ke pantai atau ke tempat wisata, Nonton ke Bioskop merupakan sebuah hiburan tersendiri bagi beberapa orang untuk mengisi liburan tahun 2017. Tentu ada yang sudah merencanakan untuk nonton Bioskop dan ada juga yang tanpa direncanakan nonton. Untuk itu perlu informasi Jadwal Tayang Film, HTM, atau Jam Tayang film di Golden. Bisa juga melihat Jadwal Film GoldenKediri Yang Akan Datang. Dengan mengetahui Film Yang Akan Datang di Goldenini bisa dipersiapkan ingin nonton dengan siapa atau untuk mencari waktu yang pas. Kami Akan Selalu Mengupdate :  

- Jadwal film bioskop Golden Kediri bulan Januari 2017
- Jadwal film GoldenKediri bulan Februari 2017
- Jadwal film bioskop Golden Kediri Maret 2017
- Jadwal GoldenKediri bulan April 2017

- Jadwal GoldenKediri bulan Mei 2017
- Jadwal film bioskop kediri terbaru Juni 2017
- Jadwal film bioskop Golden Kediri bulan Juli 2017
- Jadwal film GoldenKediri bulan Agustus 2017

- film bioskop GoldenKediri bulan September 2017
- Jadwal film bioskop Golden Theater bulan Oktober 2017
- Jadwal film Golden TheaterKediri bulan November 2017
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          Re:Politics - USA        
Heh... one of my favorite sites:
14 People Explain Why They Want Donald Trump To Become President
1. I’m seriously thinking about voting for trump, and here is why. I firmly believe that our system of government is deeply flawed, if not completely broken. Yet we still keep voting for the same type of people. If trump wins, there’s a good chance the whole thing will collapse from his absurdity. Then maybe we could start over and build something better that works. A vote for trump is a vote for full system breakdown, which I believe is exactly what we need.

So... he/she's in the Burn It Down™ crowd.

2. So I’ve spent the last 30 years living outside D.C. And at least since the Bush Sr. administration I’ve paid pretty close attention to politics, and have become pretty disillusioned with both parties. Basically as I see it every candidate we get from either side has the same flaws, flaws that Trump, despite being a very flawed individual in his own right, doesn’t share.
First, every politician is a corporate whore. Campaign finance law basically exists to be super muddled, keep out 3rd parties, and disguise where any politicians money is coming from. We legitimately don’t know who our leaders owe favors to, it’s usually a lot of people, and it’s definitely influencing policy. With Trump we know exactly where his money came from, it’s going to be a lot harder for random lobbyist/backer to manipulate Trump. We’ve even seen this reflected in some policy ideas he’s talked about like the changes to the tax code to close loopholes that he knows as well as anyone because he’s used them himself for decades.
Second, if you think about the traits good leaders have had, from a historical figure you admire to a great coach or the boss you really liked, typically those people are straightforward and honest with people, speak their mind and stand up for what they believe in, are open minded but firm in their convictions, and tend to shine when making difficult decisions. I think the traits necessary to be a politician are the opposite of all that. To be a successful politician you have to hide your true thoughts and motives when they’re at all controversial and instead give people what they want, you have to avoid tough decisions like the plague and stand for what no one is opposed to. Just look at political debates, no one answers any questions, they all talk and talk and say nothing. Trump seems to legitimately say what he thinks. He seems honest, even when what he thinks is pretty weird. He legitimately doesn’t care if people aren’t going to like what he has to say. He answers those questions in those debates, it’s pretty refreshing.
I’d actually go so far as to argue that Trump is open minded. He used to be a Democrat, now he’s a Republican, he’s still very liberal on a large number of issues. He was on a Comedy Central roast and was a good sport about it. He’s clearly capable of laughing at himself, which implies he’s aware he may be wrong at times.
I don’t think he’s racist at all, though he’s definitely more worried about terrorism than I feel is warranted. He’s definitely an donkey-cave, but I’m not interested in having him as a friend. George W. seemed like a genuinely nice guy and we invaded two countries, Obama seems like a genuinely nice guy and NSA spying and drone strikes are at an all time high. Maybe being a nice guy isn’t that important to running a country.
Trump has been the victim of gotcha journalism and misquotation or out of context quotation pretty heavily recently, and I think people don’t know what he really stands for. He believes some weird gak, but it’s not all as crazy as it’s made out. For instance his statements that made the front page recently on the internet were wildly misrepresented. He was asked specifically about ISIS’ ability to recruit online and was talking about trying to take steps to limit that. To me it was obvious from what he said that he doesn’t know much about the Internet, but to me what he said about “get with Bill Gates” that was so heavily mocked here was pretty clear in context, that he was saying he wants to meet with experts in the field and see what our options are. As much as it’s been ripped I thought he was making a point mentioning Gates. Trump knows Bill Gates politically, and how liberal he is, and I think was implying it’s a non-partisan issue and showing the angle they’d take, which was what the next line mocking people crying about freedom of speech was about. Trump knows Bill Gates is the last guy on earth who would want to filter the Internet and restrict freedom, that’s the point in dropping his name. I’m far more concerned with the similar statements, from a more informed position, that Hillary and Obama have already made concerning freedoms and spying on the Internet.

This guy/gal is full of Zen...

3. As a legal immigrant I despise illegal immigrants. At worst they should be put at the back of the “queue”. Hillary’s offer to legalize them all is pandering. As a person who grew up in the western world, I respect the rule of law. Philosophically if you have a problem with people cutting in line in front of you at a coffee shop or while merging into traffic or at an amusement park, then you and I are in complete agreement on this topic. Also immigration is a privilege not a right. A huge part of the world wants to get into the US . And the US has historically welcomed these people with open arms. But to demand that you be let in like it is a fundamental right is not fair to the people who live here those who were born here and those who came here legally. The people who are here paid their dues, I don’t think it is unfair to ask the others do too.

One of the smartest things that Trump tapped into is *this* anger.

4. I think the support he has is a symbol of how fed up Americans are with how unbalanced and dishonest the system has gotten. We want politicians who will actually represent the people, not corporate entities. Even if his honesty is ignorant it’s still a change in the direction of having leaders that aren’t completely cynical.

Is this wrong? I mean... Trump's not a politician, but it ain't like he isn't the elite ya know?

5. I fullheartedly support Donald Trump and find him to be the most qualified candidate for the job.
Is he an donkey-cave? Yes. Is he not politically correct? Yes. Everything he says is completely controversial and on the surface it seems like he is totally outrageous.
However, he is the savior in such a corrupt and dishonest system.
Here is a list of things I like about him. Many of them significant and others small.
Our leadership is terrible. We have individuals across the world torturing innocent people and planning to kill thousands of American’s as we speak and nothing is being done about it. He will literally ruin ISIS. He doesn’t want to close Guantanamo because he isn’t an idiot. Constitutional rights don’t apply to terrorists.
He cannot be bought by any private lobbyist group.
He speaks his mind (i.e. no teleprompter and he does not have speeches written for him)
He never EVER apologizes. Idk I personally just kind of like that.
Everyone freaks out because they think he’s a racist. “Oh what he wants to deport 11 million people! What a racist!” “Oh he wants to stop illegal immigration to reduce crime. Racist!” “He wants to temporarily stop people of the islamic faith from coming into America for national security reasons so Congress can figure out issues regarding ISIS. Racist” Please. He’s not actually dumb enough to think he could deport 11 million illegal immigrants, given, they are legally not allowed to be in this country. He uses this classic method of negotiating called ‘anchoring’ as he talks about in his book the Art of the Deal. You want to sell a car for $25000? Ask for $28000 then negotiate down. By asking so much from Congress as to not allow Muslims in and deport 11 million people he will get a better reaction from democrats than by simply asking for a little better regulation of some sort for illegal immigrants and/or Muslims. No one has the right to come into America. We should build a massive wall and allow people to come in legally.
Regarding his statements about Muslims not being allowed to come into America. Yes obviously there is no way of knowing who is Muslim and who isn’t. So the next step is prevent certain regions from coming into the U.S. And Congress LITERALLY JUST DID THAT TUESDAY. If you are from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon I think..? and one or two other countries in the middle east or have been there in the past 5 years you cannot come into the United States without adhering to our “strict” Visa policy (which is a joke, which is why Trump wants to stop it completely). The article is on CNN. The house passed it 407-19. And American intelligence expects that ISIS has the ability to make fake passports to get where they want. So that is really good!/s Also Rand Paul wants to temporarily halt immigration from those countries (a.k.a. Muslims) to get national security concerns worked out as well as Trump. But the media doesn’t talk about that cuz feth Trump amirite? fukin racist lol.
I don’t think people comprehend the fact that 21% of all Muslims in Syria support ISIS? Do people not understand that threat? If I remember correctly from a few recent polls, an average of like 8% of all Muslims in middle eastern countries are chill with ISIS and what they are doing. So I mean while we have millions of people rooting for innocent American’s deaths and tens of thousands of them plotting to kill innocent people across the world we are sitting here freaking out because Trump wants to TEMPORARILY halt Muslim (a.k.a. certain countries) entry into the U.S. Okay. Dude, feth logic!
Almost every single source of media that bashes him has some sort of clickbait headline that Sander’s supporters glance at and don’t even look into the situation. At first I hated Trump for what he was saying about Hispanics and for other BS media reasons. Then I actually listened to him talk and actually saw what he was like. Is he perfect? No. No candidate is though. And no matter what side you are on you absolutely 100% cannot deny that Trump is more genuine and less hitler like to at least to some degree than the media portrays him. If you don’t agree with that, you obviously have only seen headlines of CNN and Huffington Post articles.
Amazing Businessman. I was appalled in the first GOP debate where they questioned his business ability because he purposefully let his companies go bankrupt so he would save money. IN fething 2009. Anyone that says he isn’t a good businessman is ignorant. He has compounded his wealth at 44% since he got his first $1 million from his dad. Way better than some of the best hedge fund managers in the world.
We literally keep losing to everyone (China and other Asian Countries) for Jobs, Production, Trade, and GDP. I am 100% confident that he will make America an economic powerhouse again.
He wants to tax any couple making less than $50,000 per year 0%. Any individual making < $25k per year also 0%.
Simplifying tax code. He wants to make the IRS so much smaller and more simple. It is absurd with what we are dealing with now.
Other candidates suck. I like Bernie’s personality but he is a socialist that thinks the rich are the devil and thinks everyone deserves to have an iPhone, 4 kids, and a 3 story house. And a pussy. Hillary is corrupt as feth. Jeb”!” is a pussy. Ben Carson does not have the capacity as a human being to run a nation of 300 million+ people. Ted Cruz I like just not as much as Trump. Everyone else is irrelevant.
Things I dislike about trump: His environmental stance, Maybe a bit much on being an donkey-cave to people.


6. Frankly, he is possibly the most capable candidate I have seen.
Firstly, he is a strong figure. I’m only 26, but in my entire time voting, and learning about politicians, they have always come off as weak and pathetic. Their game is to make you like them. People rarely came to the table saying what they wanted to do, but they just said sound bites like “We need to save the middle class! Tax breaks for the middle class! Better schools!” When pressured on anything slightly controversial they could crumble and apologize. Trump stands by what he says against great opposition, and Tends to be correct, forcing the media to apologize. This just makes every allegation afterwards seem less credible.
He is very savvy with economics, listen to him speak. . He has a good understanding of the economy, the problems that exist within it, and how to utilize the upper class to re-invest in America or face higher taxes. The tax structure he offers up in 91′ seems relevant even today to help alleviate some of the complaints we have about 1%’ers and wall street.
He is loud, and crass, and isn’t intimidated by people telling him to speak a certain way. As a kid raised on the internet, I always took free speech for granted. I could say anything, and everything I wanted on the internet with no fear of repercussions. When I came to the internet I saw a completely open arena where you could talk about anything, have any opinion, and voice yours without fear. Worst case sceneario? you make a new screen name instead of DarkSephirothx1950. As I got older, and the internet got more mainstream, I got more excited that people would join the free thinking, free talking movement, but sadly it slid in the opposite direction. Social media is tied to everything, and if you say the wrong thing it can be met with firm opposition and potentially losing your job. Trump signifies that culture for me at least. We have the first amendment, but it doesn’t mean gak if we don’t have a culture of free speech, and we don’t.
He has the most potential to actually beat Hillary. If he runs as independant it will probably suicide the republican party, they will be split, and hillary gets the white house.
I can’t possibly understand peoples aversion to deporting illegal immigrants besides their feelings. illegal immigrants hurt the lower class the worst, and they are in a bad enough spot as it is. If you are going to break the law, you should be prepared to face the consequences of your actions. If I shot up heroin, I wouldn’t expect any sympathy for my choice to break an established law. These workers come in and take the “undesirable jobs” for low wages. Guess what? When you have an undesirable job, it must be met with compensation equal to what people are willing to do it for. If they want to offer 5$ an hour to pick potatos, and nobody offers to do it, their option is to offer more pay for that work, or not harvest the potatos. Illegal imigration removes low education individuals ability to negotiate their wages. Food prices will increase, but everybody thinks its ridiculous that such hard jobs pay so low anyway.

Sounds like this voter wants an Authoritarian Daddy...

7. I do like the things Trump says about campaign finance, straight calling people like Bush out for being run by his donors. And I think hillary is a robot.

Hillary's a Terminator donchanknow?

8. He isn’t a pandering politician. He is relatively centrist and populist. He has a long track record without any damaging scandals. He seems more than the others to be genuinely interested in being a good leader for the country, rather than only for his base (as he doesn’t really have a base to pander to.)
In short, the rest of the field looks slimy and self-serving. Trump has proven successful enough at serving himself that he comes off as credibly genuine and not like he’s running to make more money or get more recognition or power. He is less easily corruptible than a politician looking to trade favors and pander for votes.
And the media reaction to him only serves to make the media look like corrupt establishment boot lickers seeking to control the narrative and the political process entirely.
I guess it takes power to speak truth to power, sometimes.

Don't know he'd by "less" corruptible... o.O

9. I want to preface this by saying I’m not decided on who I will vote for. I’ve supported candidates from both parties in the past, and I don’t agree with Trump 100%, but when it comes to thousands of Muslims coming over here, I have to say that as a gay man that worries me.
Let’s not mince words. Muslims are not at all in favor of gay rights (Page 14 for the lazy). Sure some are I guess, but they’re a small minority and they tend to be people who grew up in 1st world nations.
Now you may be thinking “why not just vote for Hilary or Bernie? They’re way more pro-gay than Trump.” True, but theres a little problem. Hilary only cared about gay rights when it became politically inconvenient for her not to and I have a whole host of problems with Bernie. Namely:
-Tax policies
-Gun Rights
-Foreign Policy (Climate change caused ISIS apparently. Not our foreign intervention, but climate change.)
-Affirmative Action
-The fact that he won’t be able to pass a single bill because neither party really supports him. Do we need more Gridlock?
-He’ll most likely die in office
Then there’s also the fact that even as a gay dude I don’t give a feth about gay marriage. Sure I think it should be legal for those who want to get married, but in my personal (selfish) view it doesn’t affect me one way or another. I will never get married in my life, so you can make it as illegal as you want, won’t affect my life at all. But you know what will affect me? Countless people coming into the country thinking that my sexuality is immoral, should be outlawed, or even punishable by death.
I find it so funny how liberals will on one hand sing the praises of the LGBT community but then turn around and welcome the most homophobic and bigoted people on the planet. Seriously. Go look at that chart again. 71% of millenial aged Muslims think that homosexuality should be outlawed. If Liberals heard that 71% of American white men thought that I guarantee that they’d parrot it from the highest mountain. We would never hear the end of it. Yet when Muslims think the same thing we get the NOT ALL MUSLIMS speech. Ok, fine. I will concede that not allMuslims; just a sizable majority of them. And apparently I’m supposed to feel comforted by that, as if to say “Suresome Muslims may want to kill you for the way you were born, but since it’s not 100% shut up or we’ll compare you to Hitler.” (Apparently Hitler was a 21 year old blonde-haired, bearded gay dude-TIL).
I ask you, dear Redditor (who is no doubt typing furiously about how wrong I am and how I’m a fascist) please consider for a moment how you would feel if you were in my shoes. How would you feel if your president was allowing God knows how many people into your country who want you dead? I figure you’d probably be pretty scared, and any rebuttle of “shut up or you’re Hitler” wouldn’t soothe your fears.
I concede that Trump is a stupid blowhard who says whatever crosses his mind, but how many of you have spent years complaining that politicians are too scripted, that they don’t say what they believe, or they’re too beholden to moneyed interests? Well Trump is the answer to what a politician would look like without all of those things; crude and unrefined, but honest. He says what he really thinks, even if it isn’t good politics. He isn’t right about a lot of things but he does appeal to me simply because he isn’t a politician.

...this is the most reasoned rationale so far.

10. I like the fact that he isn’t a politician nor plays the “political game” like it should.
I agree that immigration is a VERY serious problem. We just can’t afford supporting so many illegal immigrants. My father came here legally and he had to go through the long process of the system to become a US citizen, why cant others?

Indeed... why can't others follow the rules as it exist today?

11. I agree on being more careful with immigration, less gun control (or I think in his view leaving it up to states.), and focusing on getting our debts paid off.
I also feel like he is less of a liability, should he actually be a bad president. It would be like electing a guy who HAS to be on his best behavior, or get impeached.

Oh, I don't know about that... which presumes he'd overcome HRC in the first place.

12. He’s an donkey-cave, but at least he’s honest, and isn’t really into bullshitting people. Besides, I don’t want a third Bush or a second Clinton in office anyway. The Presidency is not a hereditary monarchy.

Anecdotally, this is the most common rationale that I've encountered in support of Trump. Thing is, my BS meter dang new breaks everytime I listen to Trump.

13. Because over time our entire political system has become a complete joke. It’s completely based on money. And these are just the popular mantras, but after 30 something years on this planet, I’ve decided they’re true, but for specific reasons.
No one involved in the White House or on the Hill has an actual “job” like they used to when the country was founded. Being a Senator or a Rep used to be be something else you did, not the only thing you did. You didn’t get paid a livable salary to come to DC, and you didn’t spend all year (minus vacations) in the city, you were at home, in your home state, doing your job. You ran a store, you were a farmer, a doctor, a butcher or some gak. Entire lifetimes are spent in office…why? How is that reality? Every single one of them is a millionaire…how does that represent anyone? How can they possibly relate to a huge swath of the country? The districts at a state/local level are absolute dogshit, carved up literally block by block in some arbitrary fashion that negates the effectiveness of being represented in the first place. And the term “middle class” is completely meaningless. There is no definitive line that says ‘above this, you are middle class, but above this, you are rich’. It’s an impossible to define completely meaningless term that does nothing but make everyone feel like a unique and special snowflake…the “average american citizen” snowflake. 40% of our income, out of the gate, goes directly to the Government. In addition to all the consumption taxes we pay (sales tax, property tax, gas tax, estate tax, capital gains tax, and on, and on, and on), and yet these idiots aren’t even marginally close to HALF of a balanced budget.
They trundle out on tv, radio, in the paper, and talk about taxes, about nonsensical political moving and shaking, about topics that seem to “matter” but realistically make zero difference. Major headlines are made for bills about personal rights, privacy, and a slew of other things, and then completely negated by riders on other bills under the radar, piece by piece, until the people that paid for the influence get what they originally wanted anyways. The entire voting populace, which is what, a third of the eligible voters that are alive and mentally coherent at any given November, are given the illusion of having a say, when it doesn’t matter. They call, they put Facebook posts up, they put signs and banners on, send stupid emails, write letters…’we’re making a difference!’. No, you’re not. You’re killing time, like knitting, but more social, and you don’t have something to show for it later.
It’s a COMPLETE joke. An absolute circus. Our country exists still solely by accident, and by the forward motion created in WWII by becoming one of the largest economies and military powers in the world. And with each generation, we become more entitled, less creative, less hard working, and more egocentric than the generation before. It’s a fething gak show, and these asshats get on TV and talk about jobs, the economy, and the ‘good ol American dream’.
So I love Trump. I fething love him. I wish he was actually going to run all the way to the White House instead of just fart around until the primaries like he usually does. I wish he’d take shots and get on TV and give press conferences drunk off his ass. I wish he’d tell reporters to go feth themselves. I wish he’d treat International diplomacy like it was an episode of what’s his show where he got to say “You’re Fired”. I LOVE that he pisses off all the politicians on both sides, because he’s different than the good old boys (and gals) that come up year after year after year. How can he possibly be worse than what politician after politician after politician does in office? What’s he going to do, piss off an ally by spying on them? Inflame enemies by attacking their countries with remote controlled planes? Spend more money than we have? Pass laws for things with good intentions, like healthcare for people who don’t have it, without considering some of the gigantic gaping holes in getting it out there…like a working website to sign up for it in the first place? Sit on his ass and do nothing while OPM has the biggest leak of clandestine and TS information in the history of mankind? Bail out gigantic banks instead of busting them up after they fethed around and lost billions of dollars and screwed over half of the globe? Have the most non-secretive affair ever? Then lie about it and spend a million man hours talking about who he did or did not feth instead of governing? Cause gas lines and shortages, fail to rescue hostages from a shithole by piss poor planning? Invade a country and blow it to gak without figuring out how to get back out of said country, after we just did the same thing 40 years prior?
Seriously…how the feth could Trump be WORSE than the parade of human turds in suits that march into the Capitol and White House every day, every year? He can’t. He can’t possibly. But the sheer fact that he’s universally hated by every one of those lying out of touch idiots makes me want to vote for him as King let alone President. Go Trump.

Tell us how your really feel mang. And lol at "human turds in suits".

14. He’s not a bought man ( or women ), he does the buying, not the other way round
he’s honest about his opinions, and agree or disagree with them, at least you actually know what he thinks
he’s a survivor , he’s had up’s and downs, and he doesnt give up, he keeps on going, and he comes out on top in the end again and again
when charged with being ignorant of things a 8th grader should know, henry ford famously said that he could push a button, and have someone come and answer any question posed to him. He didnt need to know it himself, because he found good advisors, and listened to them
the Don may not be an expert in foreign affairs, but he doesnt have to be, because he has the business sense to listen to good advice
and just the fact that he is a non nonsense guy helps america on the world stage, and at home. Does anyone think that netanyahu would pull his gak if the Don was in charge ? You think putin would laugh at the Don ?
he is a strong leader, and thats precisely what america needs right now

Another point people bring up seemingly convinced that Trump would surround himself with good peeps...

Still on the #NeverTrump, #NeverHillary camp.

          Stuck in traffic along the highway, I saw...        

From Broumana to Batroun, Lebanon.

          Double Review(DR): Bolt and waltz with Bashir        
Well this is quite a special post. This shall be the last one in the series of posts dealing with this years Oscars. Yes, I did drop the ‘Oscar Road’ tag due to the reviews being past the dead end sign. Also this deals with two movies belonging to my favorite genre: Animation. I am a big fan of animation movies and believe they arent given their due credit. We had reviewed two of the three oscar nominated animation movies ie Wall E and Kung Fu Panda in the last episode of our now discontinued podcast. Check it out @ . Here I talk about the remaining two animation movies nominated for the oscars this year.


Bolt is a marvellous movie about a dog with superpowers, er… Well who thinks he has superpowers. He is only a TV actor. Well this is not a spoiler because the viewer is told after the brilliant action sequence at the beginning. He is close to a young girl who is his co star and is made to believe she is bolt-firstlook his real owner. He gets transported to somewhere else by mistake and the movie is his journey back.  The movie is has some good animation, great characters(ie girl, the cat and the hamster) and good plot. It is very hilarious and has all the stuff you expect from an animation movie. Yes! Exactly all the stuff you need, making it at the same time the reason why people trivialise animation and love it. The reason it made it into the oscar list is because its strong moral plot, some great voice acting and its funniness. Ofcourse when Wall E and Kung Fu Panda are in the ring, you cant expect a Bolt to win. Do watch it because it is oodles of fun and if you, like me adore animation (you better do!) you will enjoy every moment.

Waltz With Bashir

When it comes to animation, all things Bolt is Waltz with Bashir is not. All things Waltz with Bashir is Bolt cant dream of. The slurry of emotions this ‘Waltz’ drowns you in will send an innocent dog cowering for help underneath the kitchen table.Waltz with Bashir takes animation to its next level something like what Wall-E and japanese stuff but on a different plane. Though the subject matter is different it is kinda similar to last year’s Persepolis. Animation in these two movies has been used to depict the surreal and complex emotions and graphical interpretations hard to capture in live action. Not saying they couldnt have been but animation makes it more easy and even more vivid. Surreal and Vivid being the key words here. It is made
Waltz with Bashir is the story of a man who is trying to recollect his past and meeting various people to do as he is unable to on his own. He was part of the Israeli army which took part in the 1982 lebanon war and cant remember any of that period. The movie gives you insight into what happened then and the ugliness of war. I gasped, was shocked, laughed, swayed and rolled as the movie went on. As i said the surreal and vivid imagery taunt and treat you as well as you can dream. Dream again being the key word. The movie is almost a dream, it deals with dreams and you wonder if you are dreaming after a while. It is a truly trippy experience which you must have.
Such the strength of the movie that I forgot to sell you its attention grabbing trivia. It is the first Israel animation movie released in theatres and won the Palme’ D Or at the Cannes fim festival and also the best foreign movie at the Golden Globes. The crew did an excellent job in making the movie and the brilliant soundtrack it is accompanied with only adds to the effect. I will keep going on about it but I shouldnt cos you need to feel the surreal and vivid dream like experience on your own.
Rating: 9/10
p.s: Oh i forgot this is a documentary of sorts. I might have forgotten to mention many things. But I wont make an effort to say anything else.
Smith, Cecil E, US Army, 20 July 1950
Sutton, James B, Jr, US Marines, 4 July 1951, lived Proctor

Joseph, Johnnie, Jr, US Army, 28 Nov 1950
Miniard, Ronald S, US Army, 30 Nov 1950
Napier, Charles, US Army, 20 July 1950

Adams, Troulius, US Army, 28 Nov 1950
Anderson, A C, US Army, 27 May 1951
Cline, George Hay, US Marines, 11 June 1951, lived Whiteburg
Collins, James E, US Army, 29 Nov 1950
Combs, Bobby V, US Army, 2 Oct 1952
Hughes, Jack W, US Army, 4 Apr 1951
King, Denver, US Army, 19 Oct 1951
McFall, Billie E, US Army, 1 Aug 1950
Menken, Donald L, US Army, 10 June 1953
Mullins, Elmer, US Army, 1 Dec 1950
Mullins, James C, US Army, 22 July 1950
Riley, George, US Army, 10 Dec 1952
Tackett, Donald F, US Army, 20 Sept 1950
Trent, Ira V, US Army, 4 Nov 1950
Webb, James D, US Army, 13 Oct 1950
Yonts, Robert B, US Army, 30 Nov 1950

Goodwin, Martin H, US Army, 5 Nov 1950
Hall, Raymond D, US Army, 13 Aug 1950
McCormick, Howard, US Marines, 13 Sept 1951
Vinson, Earnest L, US Army, 1 June 1952

Bailey, Donald, US Marines, 15 Sept 1952, lived Stanford
Caudill, Ralph K, US Army, 27 Nov 1950
Coleman, Grover W, US Army, 20 Nov 1951
Garner, Lester R, US Army, 20 July 1950
McCowan, Richard C, US Army, 12 Feb 1951
Oliver, James C, US Army, 6 Oct 1951
Roberts, William J, US Army, 13 Oct 1951
Smith, Marvin W, US Army, 6 June 1951
Thompson, Clarence, US Army, 5 Sept 1950

Belt, Ollie James, US Marines, 23 Sept 1952, lived Lola
Davis, Max O, US Army, 13 Aug 1950
Hearell, Ollie L, US Army, 20 July 1953
Powell, W D, US Army, 2 Mar 1951

Davis, Roy Anderson, US Navy, 2 Oct 1951, lived Russellville
Hudnall, Con D, US Army, 14 Feb 1951
Taylor, Herman R, US Army, 22 Sept 1950

Parrent, James D, US Army, 20 Jan 1951
Ramey, James N, US Army, 7 Mar 1951

Castleman, William, US Army, 17 May 1951
Dodge, Eugene E, US Marines, 25 July 1953, lived Paducah
Dunn, Marce P, USAF, 16 June 1954, lived Paducah
Gipson, Glenn H, US Army, 11 Mar 1951
Martin, Robert C, US Army, 27 Sept 1950
McDaniel, William, US Army, 29 Nov 1950
Roper, Billy J, US Army, 6 Sept 1950

Gibson, Royce C, US Army, 27 Nov 1950
Hamlin, Billy R, 27 July 1950
Meadows, Jesse C, US Army, 9 Dec 1950
Spradlin, William G, US Army, 4 Sept 1950
Stevens, Cleve R, US Army, 4 Sept 1950
Yancey, Clellan, US Army, 19 Sept 1950

Fitts, Leslie J, US Army, 11 June 1953
King, Willis G, US Army, 11 June 1951
Towery, Ellis E, US Army, 17 Aug 1950

Carter, Douglas E, US Army, 2 Aug 1950
French Jennings, US Army, 27 Sept 1952
Grant, Virgil, US Army, 2 June 1951
Huguley, Barney M, US Army, 26 Jan 1953
Logston, Earl R, US Army, 20 July 1950
McGuire, Stanley R, US Army, 21 Sept 1950
Pingleton, Otis E, US Army, 20 Oct 1952
Ransom, Henry, Jr, US Army, 12 Feb 1951
Rowlette, Louis, US Army, 27 July 1950
Speakman, Cloid, US Army, 27 July 1950
Johnson, John William, US Marines, 11 Oct 1952, lived Berea

Fairchild, Ray Palmer, US Marines, 27 Nov 1950, lived Salyersville
Harmon, Charlie, US Army, 16 Aug 1950
Lovely, Rex, US Army, 21 July 1952
Salyer, Billy J, US Army, 3 Oct 1951
Wireman, David, US Army, 2 Oct 1951

Burdette, Donald, US Army, 8 Apr 1952
Clark, Herbert F, Jr, US Army, 12 Oct 1951
Faulkner, Robert A, US Army, 26 Nov 1950
Garrison, Fred Herren, USAF, 9 Nov 1952, lived Lebanon
Pope, Ray, US Marines, 6 Dec 1950, lived Lebanon
Smith, Louis K, US Army, 20 July 1950
Smothers, Chaffine, US Army, 5 Jan 1953

Washburn, James F, US Army, 20 Aug 1952

Stanley, John, US Army, 30 May 1951

McCabe, John E, US Army, 2 Nov 1950
Ward, William F, US Army, 26 Aug 1950

Curl, Carl S, US Army, 1 Nov 1950

Campbell, David L, US Army, 25 July 1950
Nickell, Corbett, US Army, 13 Oct 1951
Ringo, Raymond F, US Army, 27 June 1953
Robinson, Joe, US Army, 18 Aug 1950
Woodward, Richard H, US Army, 27 Nov 1950

Gibson, Donald W, US Army, 19 July 1953
Sallee, Floyd B, US Army, 9 Sept 1951
Sallee, Raymond, US Army, 16 July 1950
Shewmaker, John William, USAF, 31 Dec 1953
Watts, Franklin H, US Army, 19 Oct 1951

Jones, George K, US Army, 10 Feb 1951

Blazer, Stuart M, US Army, 14 Oct 1952
Davis, William E, US Army, 4 Feb 1953
Page, Cecil E, US Army, 7 Sept 1951
Pann (Parr?), Richard E, US Army, 12 July 1951

Was your ancestor a lawyer? There were a lot of them and requirements were a lot different in the past. Normally lawyers, like doctors, “read” law with another lawyer and then went into practice for themselves along the way. The following are lawyers from some of the south central portion of Kentucky. Information is taken from “Lawyers’ Record”, Official Register of the United States, H. Charles Ulman, 1872. Published by A. S. Barnes & Co of NY.

Adair County:
H. C. Baker admitted 1862 at Columbia. In practice with J. R. Hindman, admitted January 1872 same.
Garnett, J & R. No additional information.
Hardin, P. C.
Hayes & Sallee: Jos E. Hays, admitted 1846 at Jamestown, KY. Chas. M. Sallee admitted 1860 Columbia
Russell & Avritt: Wm. E. Russell admitted 1847 at Columbia; Geo C. Avritt, admitted 1870 Lebanon, KY
Stewart, Wm.
Winfrey & Winfrey: T. C. & H. C. Winfrey

Allen County:
John J. Gatewood; admitted 1855 Scottsville; was State Senator & Representative
Gilbert M. Mulligan; admitted 1852 Scottsville; currently County Attorney
Jno. H. Walker; admitted 1870 at Scottsville

Barren County:
W. H. Bates
Bohannon, Porter & Carr: John S. Bohannon; W. L. Porter; D. R. Carr. Latter was member of Legislature
in past
Boles, Lewis & McQuin. S. H. Boles, J. H. Lewis, Lewis McQuin (this should be McQuown)
Botts & Jones (Collections). Wm. K. Botts, admitted Apr 1870 at Glasgow. J. W. Jones, admitted Apr
1870, same.
Benj. F. Cockrill; admitted 1845 Glasgow; had been County Attorney
Garnett & Smith: Jas. P. Garnett, admitted 1846 & Noah Smith, admitted 1871, both at Glasgow
Jones, V.(Veachel)
J. P. Knuckles (Nuckols)
Burwell Lawless, Sr: admitted Mar 1852 Glasgow; had been member of Legislature.
Leslie & Botts: P. H. Leslie; Wm. Botts.
Wm. McFerrin
Jas. Rosseau
Smith & Son (Collections). N. A. Smith, admitted 1838, Munfordville; G. R. Smith, admitted 1867
Chas. H. Wood; admitted Mar 1866 at Glasgow.

Cumberland County:
Wm. Cheek; admitted 14 Feb 1870 at Burkesville.
Craddock & Walkr: Jno. G. Craddock, admitted 13 May 1869 Burkesville, had been Police Judge; Scott
Walker, admitted 10 May 1868 at Columbia; had been County Attorney.
Sandidge & Allen: J. H. C. Sandidge, admitted 1856 Burkesville; M. O. Allen, admitted 1860 same, had
been Judge County Court.
Spencer, Charles
Spencer, R. F.
Barron, P. W.

Edmonson County:
Wm. B. Ford; admitted 1854 in KY
Lewis M. Hazelip; admitted 1862 Brownsville; had been County Attorney & member of Legislature
McIntyre, Thos B.

Hart County:
Jas. T. Brown; admitted May 1852 Munfordville; had been County Attorney.
Jno. Donan; admitted 1848 Munfordville; had been member of Legislature.
J. A. & I. W. Edwards: Joseph A. Edwards; admitted 1866; Isaac W. Edwards; admitted 1855.
Gorin, Miller & Towles: Jas. W. Gorin admitted Oct 1846 Glasgow; had been State Senator &
Representative. Archie Miller; admitted Feb 25, 1870 Munfordville. D. T. Towles
Wiley J. Macey; admitted Nov 17, 1870 Munfordville; had been Police Judge.
Henry M. Martin; admitted 1860 Scottsville; former member of Legislature.
Geo. S. Read; admitted Nov 15, 1851 Hodgenville.
James C. Rush; admitted at Brandenburgh
Henry S. Shoudy; admitted 1865 at Munfordville.
Jas. W. Watkins; admitted Oct 23, 1867 Munfordville; is now Clerk of Circuit Court.
Isaac T. Woodson; admitted Nov 1869 Munfordville.

Metcalfe County:
Boles & Newman: Sam’l H. Boles, admitted Burkesville; Eugene W. Newman, admitted Dec 2, 1860.
Jno. W. Compton; admitted July 1866 Edmonton; had been County Attorney.
Robert B. Dohoney; admitted June 1860 at Paris, TX (handles Equity & Collections)
George R. Price; admitted Mar, 1861 Edmonton; had been County Attorney.
Rousseau & Miller: Jas. A. Rousseau; Owens Miller – admitted May 16, 1868 at Columbia
Wm. J. Whitlock; admitted June 5, 1867 Edmonton; had been Police Judge.

Monroe County:
Manilus T. Flippin; admitted Oct 1865 Tompkinsville; had been County Attorney; now member of
Sam J. Hunter; admitted Apr 1868 Tompkinsville; had been County & City Attorney.
J. Rowan Leslie
Wm. S. Moxey (Maxey likely).

          TIP #1185 POST OFFICES IN 1876-1877 – PART 4        
Lacona – Jefferson
La Fayette – Christian
La Grange – Oldham
Lair’s Station – Harrison
Lancaster – Garrard
Lanesville – Floyd
Laura Furnace – Trigg
Laurel Bluff – Muhlenburgh
Laurel Bridge – Laurel
Laurel Creek – Clay
Laurel Hill – Johnson
Lawrenceburg – Anderson
Lead Mines – Henry
Lebanon – Marion
Lebanon Junction – Bullitt
Leesburgh – Harrison
Lenoxburgh – Bracken
Leonard – Harlan
Levee – Montgomery
Level Green – Rockcastle
Levingood – Pendleton
Lewisport – Hancock
Lexington – Fayette
Liberty – Casey
Lindsey’s Mill - Trigg
Linton – Trigg
Litchfield – Grayson
Little Creek – Pike
Little Eagle – Scott
Little Flat – Bath
Little Hickman – Jessamine
Little Mount – Spencer
Livermore – McLean
Livia – McLean
Lochland – Jefferson
Lockport – Henry
Locust Branch – Estill
Locust Branch – Estill
Logansport – Butler
London – Laurel
Long Falls Creek – McLean
Long Grove – Hardin
Long Run – Jefferson
Longview – Christian
Loretto – Marion
Lost Creek – Breathitt
Lost Run – Breckinridge
Lot – Whitley
Louisa – Lawrence
Louisville – Jefferson
Lovelaceville – Ballard
Lowell – Garrard
Lowe’s – Graves
Lowmansville – Lawrence
Ludlow – Kenton
Lusby’s Mill – Owen
Lyndon – Jeffrerson
Lynn – Greenup
Lynnville – Graves
McAfee – Mercer
McDaniel’s – Breckinridge
McHenry – Ohio
McKee – Jackson
McKinnie’s – Lewis
McLeod’s Station – Logan
McNary – Hopkins
McPherson – Letcher
Mackville – Washington
Madisonville – Hopkins
Magnolia – Larue
Manchester – Clay
Mannsville – Taylor
Maple Grove – Trigg
Marine – Lewis
Marion – Crittenden
Marrowbone – Cumberland
Marshall – Bath
Marsh Creek – Whitley
Martinsburgh – Monroe
Mason Creek – McLean
Masonville – Daviess
Masssack – McCracken
Maxon’s Mills – McCracken
Mayfield – Graves
Mayo Park – Grayson
May’s Lick – Mason
Maysville – Mason
Meadow Creek – Whitley
Memphis Junction – Warren
Mercer Station – Muhlenburgh
Mershon’s Cross Roads – Laurel
Middleburgh – Casey
Middle Fork – Jackson
Middleton – Jefferson
Midway – Woodford
Milburn – Ballard
Milford – Bracken
Milledgeville – Lincoln
Millersburg – Bourbon
Millersville – Russell
Mill Springs – Wayne
Milltown – Adair
Millville – Woodford
Milton – Trimble
Milwood – Grayson
Minerva – Mason
Minorsville – Scott
Mintonville – Casey
Mitchellsburg – Boyle
Montaview – Montgomery
Monterey – Owen
Montgomery – Trigg
Monticello – Wayne
Montpelier – Adair
Moodyville – Green
Mooleyville – Breckinridge
Moorefield – Nicholas
Moore’s Creek – Jackson
Mooresville – Washington

One can see that Louisville led the state in businesses during this time frame. Many small businesses likely could not afford to advertise.

Fire Extinguishers: The Great American Fire Extinguisher Co, no address shown.
Florists and Nurserymen: Duncan, H. S. & Co, Louisville – Lauer, A., Louisville – Walker, George, Louisville
Flour and Grain Wholesale: Jones, W. M. & Co., Louisville
Flouring Mills: Forston, G. W., Lawrenceburg – Granducci & Weisenberger, Versailles – Hildebrand, Geo F. J., Warsaw – Logan, A. R. & Co., Shelbyville – Long, N. & Co., Russellville; Lumpkins, W. J., Owensboro
Founders & Machinists: Ainslie, Cochran & Co., Louisville – Linning & Jackson, Paducah – Rice, Chauncey, Louisville – Snead & Co., Louisville
Fruit Growers: Duncan, H. S. & Co., Louisville
Furniture. Davis, The J. W., Furniture Manufacturing Co., Louisville – Dickinson, John A., Louisville – Hussey, Chas. E. & Co., Louisville – Knost & Ahlering, Newport – Linder, C. A., Louisville – Louisville Manufacturing Co – Thurman, B. H. & Sons, Louisville – Weil, Sam, Louisville
Furrowing and Cracking Pick Manufacture: Howard, Henry, Louisville
Gas Fixtures: Biggs, Robert, Louisville – Clark & Lawton, Louisville – Shulhfer, S., no address
Gas Machine: Biggs, Robert, Louisville – Shulhafer, S., Louisville
General Stores: Clark, John T., Mt. Vernon – Smith, W. L., Carrolton – Walden, W. P. & Co., Lancaster
Gents’ Furnishing Goods: Evans & Fritsch, Louisville – Howe, John & Sons, Carrollton – Kirtland, F. S., Louisville – Kugel, J., Louisville – Pollard, Thos., Bowling Green – Weaver & Griffin, Henderson
Glass Stainer: Blum, Wm. F., Louisville
Grain: Jones, W. M. & Co., Louisville – Macklin, Geo. B., Frankfort
Grain Elevators: Long, N. & Co., Russellville – Rabbeth, John T., Hopkinsville
Groceries & Provisions: Boyd, Theo., Catlettsburg – Diemer, George, Louisville – Hinkle, Wm., Louisville – Schooler, J. K., Shelbyville – Smith, W. L., Carrollton
Hair Goods: Moebs, V., Louisville
Hardware & Cutlery: Bull, O. T., no address – Schooler, J. K., Shelbyville – Smith, W. L., Carrolton
Hats, Capts & Straw Goods (Wholesale): Truman, Swann & Co., Louisville
Hats, Caps &c: Cox, Rowland & Co., Taylorsville – Lyons, Van F., Louisville – Pollard, Thos., Bowling Green – Weaver & Griffin, Henderson
Heating & Ventilating Engineers: Carson & Mason, Louisville
Horse Collar Manufacturer: Flesch, H., Louisville
Hotels: Bourbon House, Winchester – Bruce House, Stanford – Butler House, Louisville – Central Hotel, Danville – Central Hotel, Louisville – Central Hotel, Henderson – City Hotel, Elkton – Cloverport Hotel, Cloverport – Commercial Hotel, Bowling Green – Commercial Hotel, Owensboro – Cooper House, Hopkinsville – Crab Orchard Hotel – Crab Orchard – Cumberland House, Springfield – Davis House, Taylorsville – Ellis House, Bardstown – European Hotel, Paducah – Farmers Hotel, Owenton – Fifth Avenue Hotel, Louisville – Galt House, Louisville – Grange Boarding House, Shelbyville – Gray’s Hotel, Russellville – Guthrie House, Lebanon – Higgins Home, Lancaster – Jenkins House, Elkton – Johnston Hotel, Louisville – Kentucky House, Bowling Green – Lancaster House, Lancaster – Louisville Hotel – McGrath House, Shelbyville – Merchants Hotel, Bowling Green – Merchants Hotel, Louisville – Morehead House, Bowling Green – Myers House, Stanford – National Hotel, Livermore – Proctor House, Glasgow Junction – Reese’s Commercial Rooms, no address – Riverside Hotel, Louisville – St. Cloud Hotel, Louisville – Slack House, Elizabethtown – Southern Hotel, Mayfield – Sproat’s Hotel, Columbus – Temperance House, Louisville – Vinson House, Catlettsburg – Weitzel House, Frankfort
Insurance Companies: Farmers & Drovers Ins. Co., Louisville – Royal Ins. Co., no address – Southern Mutual Life Ins. Co. of Kentucky, no address
Insurance Agents: Barbee & Castleman, Louisville – Gray, Samuel, Bardstown – Ryan, Wm. & Co., Louisville
Iron, Railing & Fence Manufacture: Pohl, Edward, Louisville
Jewelers: Bennett, C. Fletcher, Louisville – Fontaine, M., Louisville – Huber, Leonard, Louisville
Ladies’ and Childrens’ Furnishing Goods: Schulz, Dora, Louisville
Ladies’ Dress Trimmings: Landarath, Mary, Louisville
Lard Oil Manufacturer: doer, Chris, Louisville – Meyer, F. W., Louisville
Lawyers: Adams, J. C., Franklin – Barrett, John P., Hartford – Bennett & Raison, Greenup – Bowling, Wm., Grayson – Brasher, Jacob C., Hopkinsville – Campbell, Ben P., Nicholasville – Dulin, Edward F., Greenup – Garrison, Dayton B., Mt. Sterling – Gray, Samuel, Bardstown – Hathaway, Leeland, Winchester – Johnson, H. S., Hodgenville – Jones, J. W. & S. E., Glasgow – Orear, Leslie, Mt. Sterling – Portwood, A. M., Lawrenceburg – Stites, Wilson H., Hopkinsville – Turner, Thos., Mt. Sterling – Wilhoit, E. B., Grayson
Lime, Hair, Cement &c: Harris, J. Nelson, Louisville – Harrison, John T. Owensboro – Macklin, Geo. B., Frankfort – Schooler, J. K. Shelbyville
Lithographers: Courier-Journal Lithographing Co., Louisville – German, Chas W., Louisville – Louisville - Steam Lithographing Co.
Livery, Sale & Training Stables: Bruce, J. E., Stanford – Goose, H. N. & A. R., Louisville – Hart & McConnell, Georgetown – Hopewell & Tichenor, Taylorsville – Johnson, W. S., Owensboro – Ridgway, James E.Mayfield – Weedon & Co., Flemingsburg – Wilson, B. A., Versailles
Live Stock Dealers: Read, Geo. W., Glasgow
Lottery Agents: Frasen, Hugh, Paducah
Lumber Manufacturers & Dealers: Clark, John T., Mt. Vernon – Duttlinger, John, Franklin – Hulings, Brown & Co., Louisville – Johnson, A. M., Newport – Lewis, H. J. & Bro., Louisville – Poter & Condict, Hartford – Struck, A. N., Louisville – VanSeggern, H. G & Co., Louisville – Walden, W. P. & Co, Lancaster
Machinery Broker. Ramey, H., Louisville
Machinery Dealers: Dillingham, Wm. H., Louisville – Kirker, Jabez G., Louisville – Pyne, W. T., Louisville
Malt & Hops: Stein & Doern, no address
Mantels and Grates: Fischer, Leaf & Co., Louisville – Louisville Manel & Casket Co.
Manufactuers’ Supply Depot: Dillingham, Wm. H., Louisville
Manufacutiring Jewelers: Bachus, L. A., Louisville – Rees, A., Louisville
Marble mantels, &c: Muldoon, Walton & Cobb, Louisville
Marble Works: Cardoni, Faly. Louisville – Hill, W. A. & Co., Paris – Muldoon, Walton & Cobb, Louisville – Salyards, O. C. Glasgow
Mattresses & Bedding: Bennett, J. & D. F., Louisville – Kessler, Fred, Louisville – Thurman, B. H. & Sons, Louisville – Weil, Sam, Louisville
Medical Colleges: Louisville Medical College – University of Louisville
Mercantile Agencies: Bradstreet, J. M. & Son, Louisville – McKillop, John & Co., Louisville
Merchant Tailors: Cox, Rowland & Co., Taylorsville – DeCoursey, Stephen, Louisville – Evans & Fritsch, Louisville – Howe, John & Sons, Carrollton – Kugel, J., Louisville – Pelle & Knoop, Louisville – Raible, Z., Louisville – Shower, J. L., Bowling Green
Millinery Goods: Coker, P. G., Louisville – McGoodwin Bros., Danville
Military Colleges: Danville Classical & Military Academy – Warren College, Bowling Green
Millwright: Kirker, Jabez G., Louisville
Monumental Statuary: Muldoon, Walton & Cobb, Louisville
Musical Instrument Manufacturers: Kaempffe, Wm. A., Louisville – Kroeger, J. H., Louisville
Music and Musical Instruments: Knoefel, Henry, Louisville
Mustard Manufacturers: Yates & Dudley, Lexington
News Agents: Haggard, A. D., Winchester
Newspapers & Periodicals: Bath County News, Owingsville – Farmer’s Home Journal, Louisville – Glasgow Times – Hartford Herald, Hartford – Kentucky Live Stock Record, Lexington – Lexington Dispatch - Louisville Anzieger – Louisville Commercial – Louisville Courier-Journal – Louisville Volksblatt – McLean County Progress, Calhoon – Mayfield Democrat, Mayfield – Richmond & Louisville Medical Journal – Riverside Weekly, Louisville – Shelbyville Sentinel – State Line News, Fulton – The American Medical Weekly, no address – The Carlisle Mercury – The ELizabethtown News – The Elkton Witness, Elkton – The Independent, Greenup – The Jessamine Journal, Nicholasville – The Owensboro Monitor, Owensboro
Oil Manufacturers: Steele & Horner, Glasgow
Painters-House & Sign: Atkinson, J. B., Louisville – Hailey, A. C., Catlettsburg – Hill, J. B., Louisville – Holt & Frisby, Louisville
Paper Hangers & Decorators: Holt & Frisby, Louisville
Paper Manufacturers: Bremaker-Moore Paper Co., Louisville
Patent Solicitors: Bennet & Ralston, Greenup
Photographers: Doerr, J. Henry, Louisville – Klauber, E., Louisville
Physicians: Bright, J. W., Lexington – Couden, W. C., Louisville – Hunt, Wm. H., Covington – Rice, C. W., Louisville
Piano Manufacturer: Matfeldt, H.J., Louisville

To be continued


For a few weeks, I’d like to list, by category, companies that advertised in the Gazetteer I think you will find it most interesting in not only the names but the occupations. The majority were located in Louisville. There were others I am certain that did not pay to advertise.

Abdonimal Support Manufactures: Siegel & Rivers, Louisville
Abstracts of Land Titles: Louisville Abstract Association
Agricultural Implements: Avery, B. F. & Sons, Louisville - King, R. C. & Bro., Carlisle - Schooler, J. K., Shelbyville
Ale and Porter Brewers: Gabbard & Co., Louisville
Architects: Andrewartha, John, Louisville - McDonald, H. P., Louisville - Meyer, John C. & Son, Louisville - Murphy, M. J., Louisville - Redin, Wm. H., Louisville - Struby, H., Louisville - Wilson, M. Q., Louisville - Wolters, H., Louisville
Architectural Iron Works: Snead & Co., Louisville
Artists’ and Photographers’ Material: Escott, J. V. & Sons, Louisville
Awning Manufacturer: Kessler, Fred, Louisville
Banks: Bank of Hopkinsville - Central National Bank, Danville - Farmers and Traders Bank of Lexington - First National Bank, Danville - Garrard County Deposit Bank, Lancaster - Howe, John & Sons, Carrollton - Logan County National Bank, Russellville - Long, N. & C., Russellville - National Southern Kentucky Bank, Bowling Green - The National Bank of Lebanon - Warren Deposit Bank, Bowling Green
Bank Vault Manufacturers: Snead & Co., Louisville
Barrel Manufacturer: Stafford, Hugh, Louisville
Bedding, Mattresses, &c: Bennett, J. & D. P., Louisville
Beef and Pork Dealers: Siegelstyl, F. & H., Louisville
Beer Garden: Buechel, John, Louisville
Bell Foundaries: Barclay, T. P., Louisville - Kaye, Wm., Louisville
Bellows Manufacturers: Redick, John & Co., no address given
Belting & Hose: Dillingham, Wm. H., Louisville
Billiard Saloons: Buhr, Geo., Frankfort - Washburn, H. T., Owensboro
Bill Poster and Distributor: Lambdin, Charles W., Paducah
Bitters Manufacturer: Schroeder, J. H. & Son., Louisville
Bluing Manufacturers: Hinkle, Wm., Louisville
Boat Builders: Frazier, S. A. & C., Ashland
Boiler Manufacturers: Ainslie, Cochran & Co., Louisville - Mitchell & Hebden, Louisville - Pearce, John, Louisville
Bolt & Nut Manufacturers: Martin, G. & Sons, Louisville
Book Binders and Blank Book Manufacturers: Hull and Brother, Louisville - Kendall, Austin J., Frankfort - Transylvania Printing & Publishing Co., Lexington
Books and Stationery: Haggard, A. D., Winchester - Hinkle, Wm., Louisville - Knoefel, Henry, Louisville
Boots and Shoes: Bailey, George H., Russellville – Cox, Rowland & Co., Taylorsville – Gowans & Tiemann, Owensville – Hagman, B., Owensboro – Pollard, Thos., Bowling Green – Schulz Chas., Louisville – Schwab, Joseph, Louisville – Schweiss, Casp., Louisville – Weaver & Griffin, Henderson
Bottling Works: Star Lager Beer Bottling Works, Cincinnati, O.
Boys’ and Youths’ Clothing: Richter, J. H., Louisville
Brewers: Gebhard & Co., Louisville – Luseher, S., Frankfort – Stein & Doern, proprs. Salvator Brewer, no address.
Brick Manufacturers: Wisroth, Lewis, Louisville
Broom Manufacturer: Tivnen, John, Louisville
Building Material: Hulings, Brown & Co., Louisville
Bung Manufacturer: Murray, P. J., Louisville
Burial Cases: Louisville Mantel and Casket Co.
Burr Dresser: Batterton & Davis, Danville
Cancer Doctors: Bright, J. W., Lexington – Couden, W. C., Louisville
Carpenters and Builders: Gosham, Wm. E., Madisonville – Hanford, W. H., Louisville – Hawkins, S., Midway – Keller, Louis, Louisville – Lee & Hussey, Louisville – Redin, Wm. H., Louisville
Carriage Hardware: Hunter, N. D. & Co., Louisville
Carriages and Wagon Manufacturers: Adam, Wm., Louisville – Douglass, L., Lexington – Driver, Benj.,
Owensboro, Edinger, J., Louisville – King, R. C. & Bro., Carlisle – Melven, M. R., Glasgow – Pffeiderer, Fred, Louisville – Ruby, Wm., Louisville – Spies, Louis, Louisville – Upington, Jas. T & Bro., Lexington – Wright, Wm. J., New Castle
Children’s Carriage Manufacturers: Hussey, Chas E. & Co., Louisville
Cigar Manufacturers & Cigar and Tobacco Dealers: Alberding & Co., Louisville – Burgess & Co.,
Paducah – Marshall, Spingate & Co., Louisville – Mingus & Winter, Augusta – Steinberg, James, Louisville
Claim Attorney: Rood O. M., Louisville
Clothing: Kirtland, F. S., Louisville – Richter, J. H., Louisville
Coal: Dippold & Sons, Louisville – Fitzpatrick, John T & Co., Louisville – Guylens Mining & Manufacturing Co., Owensboro Junction – Lexington & Big Sandy R. R., Ashland – Macklin, Geo. B., Frankfort
Coffin Manufacturers: Louisville Mantel & Casket Company
Colleges, Schools &c: Bethel College, Russellville – Bethel Female College, Hopkinsville – Bowling
Green Female College – Central University, Richmond – Danville Classical and Military Academy – Daughters College, Harrodsburg – Glasgow Normal School – Halsell’s Female Seminary, Bowling Green – Liberty Female College, Glasgow – Logan Female College, Russellville – Louisville Medical College – Madison Female Institute – Science Hill Female Academy, Shelbyville – Stanford Female College, Stanford – University of Louisville Medical Department – Warren College, Bowling Green
Commercial Agencies: Bradstreet, J. M. & Son, no address – McKillop, John & Co., no address
Commercial Colleges: Boyd’s Louisville Commercial College – Warr & Burton, Louisville
Commercial Rooms: Reese, P. L., Mt. Sterling
Commission Merchants: Boyd, Theo., Catlettsburg – Buckner & Terrell, Paducah – Jones, W. M. & Co., Louisville
Coopers: Ohio Falls Cooperate Works, Louisville – Stafford, Hugh, Louisville
Coopers’ Stuff: Ohio Falls Cooperate Works, Louisville
Coppersmith: Bentele, John A., Louisville
Corn Sheller Manufacturers: Brownell & Co., Hopkinsville
Cotton Factors: Buckner & Terrell, Paducah – Hughes, W. & Co., Paducah
Cutlers and Grinders: Heimerdinger, A., Louisville – Siegel & Rivers, Louisville
Dental and Surgical instruments: Siegel & Rivers, Louisville – Whittington, A. & Co., Louisville
Dentists: Blondie, A. H., Louisville – Jones, L. W., Louisville – Sale, H. A., Russellville – Stivers, G. J., Louisville
Diamond Setters: Bachus, L. A., Louisville – Reese, A., Louisville
Distillers: Castleman, Lewis – Frankfort – Monarch, R., Owensboro – The Newcomb, Buchanan Co, Louisville
Dry Dock: Frazier, S. A. & Co., Ashland
Dry Goods, Wholesale: Bamberger, Bloom & Co., Louisville
Dry Goods & Notions: Gough, H. L., Georgetown – McGoodwin Bros., Danville – Smith, W. L., Carrollton
Dye Houses: Holden, Walter, Louisville – Hosch, Fred, Louisville
Electrotype and Stereotype Foundary: Rowell, Robert, Louisville
Elevator and Dumb-waiter Manufacturers: Hair, John F. & J. J, Louisville – Scott, George, Louisville
Embroidery: Louisville Stamping House
Engravers: Bachus, L. A., Louisville – Rees, A., Louisville
Evaporator Manufacturer: Ramey, H., Louisville
Fancy Goods & Notions: Coker, P. G. – Landsrath, Mrs. Mary – Schultz, Dora, Louisville
Farming Lands: Slack, W. D., no address
Fence (Iron) Manufacturer: Pohl, Edward, Louisville
Fire, Brick and Clay: Harris, J. Nelson, Louisville

To be continued.

          Witness eclipse during Wilson County Fair        

Two big events are coinciding this August, and Lebanon is all abuzz. The Wilson County Fair and the Solar Eclipse are both coming our way this month, with the Wilson County Fair opening on the 18th and going until the 26th.

          Hardship never lasts forever…        

In 2006 I concluded my review of Reem Kelani's debut album Sprinting Gazelle with the phrase “I believe it's a masterpiece.” That belief has subsequently matured into a certainty, and the disc has become one of my favourite albums in any genre. A full decade later Kelani's follow-up album Live at the Tabernacle, on Leon Rosselson's Fuse label, could easily have proved an anti-climax. Instead, it complements its predecessor admirably while also being a masterpiece on its own terms.

Kelani refers in the album booklet to “live concerts” as “the essence of what my musical journey is all about”. This journey has hitherto also entailed composing, teaching, musicology, and performing in works by classical western composers with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, so it is hardly surprising – if frustrating for her growing legion of fans – that she regards recording as something of a sideshow.

The performance recorded here took place at the 2012 Nour Festival of Arts in London (the Tabernacle, Notting Hill), and the double-album eventually materialised thanks to a Kickstarter campaign of which Kelani says: “In an age in which music is structured according to the laws of the market place, and political narratives are suppressed, nothing is more comforting and assuring than grassroots support which can be neither bought nor sold.”

Concerning Sprinting Gazelle, I wrote that Kelani “shuns political rhetoric, preferring to allow the music to speak for itself”. This is as true of the Palestinian material on the new album as it is of Kelani's comments both on stage and in the excellent booklet accompanying the recording (I really recommend buying the hard copy, as the whole thing is so beautifully produced). Of course Kelani is hardly apolitical. She is a member of the Anti Capitalist Roadshow, a "collective of singers and songwriters... opposed to the ideologically driven austerity programme imposed by this [UK] millionaire government". Some of the material on the second Tabernacle disc relates overtly to the 1919 Egyptian revolution and the 2011 Tunisian revolution. However, she seems content to allow Palestine's interminable trauma the status of an implicit if unmistakeable backdrop.

So has a political narrative been suppressed here after all? An informative and sympathetic Guardian interview from 2008 clarified that Kelani “initially struggled to get a record contract here [the UK] because of her [Palestinian] subject matter.” She admits that on the cover of Sprinting Gazelle “I was very careful...I did not say 'from Palestine'. I said 'from the motherland'. I'm walking on eggshells all the time.” Nonetheless, she asserted that “[t]here is a message that Palestinians don't exist, so my narrative is... my existence, both personally and collectively … As a human being, as a woman, as a Palestinian."

By now Reem Kelani's existence and hence her narrative is so firmly established that she could probably afford to kick aside the eggshells, although admittedly the defamatory energies of the Israel lobby are inexhaustible. In the CD booklet Alan Kirwan, curator of the Nour Festival in 2012, writes that “[a]t the heart of her work is the recurring image of Palestine”, and the album's epigraph – cited in English and Arabic – is a defiant quatrain from the jubilant traditional Palestinian song Il-Hamdillah:

                                                Praise God, that evil is no more

                                                We planted peppers in the heat

                                                Our foes said they wouldn't turn red

                                                Praise God, our peppers grew and turned red.

This song, which euphorically closes both this album and Sprinting Gazelle, contains lyrics “collected... from field recordings of Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon and Jordan”. The  opening track on Disc I, Let us in! (Hawwilouna!), was “recorded from a group of Palestinian refugee women, originally from the village of Sha'ab near Acre” (in present-day Israel).

          Hizballah Uses Child Fighters: But No Decline in the Movement’s Status in Lebanon        
On July 7, 2017, 16-year-old (17 years old according to some reports) Hizballah fighter Mahdi Hassan Abu Hamdan from the town of Taalbaya in the Beq’a Valley, Lebanon, was killed in battle. Following the death of his four brothers while fighting for Hizballah,, Abu Hamdan,  technically an only son, was forbidden by the organization’s higher-ups from fighting […]

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In addition to bourbon, horses, and basketball, Kentucky boasts a wonderful collection of historic structures in a variety of architectural styles. A few recent additions to ExploreUK document the Commonwealth’s collection of architecture.
The Carolyn Murray-Wooley color transparencies collection (dated 1972-2006, bulk 1975-1988; 0.90 cubic feet; 4,013 items) consists of slides that document stone houses and stone fences, built by local craftsmen, in Kentucky’s Bluegrass region, including many Bluegrass Trust buildings.  

Robert McMeekin architectural drawings collection (dated 1925-1988, 1,693 items) consists of drawings by the Lexington based architect.

The Frankel and Curtis architectural drawings collection (dated 1897-1974, undated; 10 cubic feet; 161 tubes, 5 boxes) comprises drawings, office records, photographs, and scrapbooks documenting the firm’s designs at various stages of completion, from architectural plans and specifications to finished buildings. This collection hasn’t been digitized yet but will be soon!

The Richard B. Isenhour architectural drawings, (dated 1952-1989; 1.5 cubic feet; 10 folders) comprise construction drawings for homes built in Lexington, Kentucky, by architect Richard B. Isenhour, who heavily used the mid-century modern architectural style.     

B152 Mt. Lebanon (James Garrad House); .6M W of Peacock Rd., 1986 October, the Carolyn Murray-Wooley color transparencies collection

BB131 Exterior of Eagle Bend, 1983 February,  the Carolyn Murray-Wooley color transparencies collection

Baker Residence, 1940,  Robert McMeekin architectural drawings collection
Top World News Now                 
February 21, 2013


 Heads up from AntiMullah. Separate vacations and Obambi brings Reggie Love back with  him. If you do  not know what this is, you need to visit/view more often to keep up with latest developments.

Tone and content reflects information not normally provided by Lame Stream Media's love fest with Obambi. And worldwide events that discredit his claims and motives for anti-American, pro-Moslem Brotherhood policies and actions.
Read and become knowledgeable and stop believing the incredible lies Obama feeds us at every opportunity. Lies his own Democrats increasingly have a problem swallowing and are intentionally leading our nation into certain fiscal and political destruction.

United States
GOP Resists Obama's Push for Tax Rise to Head Off Cuts
Obama Fleshes Out Plans for Infrastructure Projects
Obama considers urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage
White House announces online espionage response policy
US issues final word on essential benefits under "Obamacare"
Anonymous thrown into China-US cyberwar scandal
Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilian workers
In wake of Benghazi, rapid response Marine unit heading to Europe
US issues worldwide caution to its citizens of terror threats
Body found in restaurant rubble after Kansas City explosion
Why Americans Might Be Better Off If Their Burgers Were Made Of Horsemeat
Sex-Change Surgery Available Through Many US Colleges
Majority of US citizens say illegal immigrants should be deported
Hundreds of thousands march in Puerto Rico against gay rights

Putin Invites G20 Leaders to St. Petersburg Summit
Migrant workers call on Putin for amnesty
Lavrov: Time to end the war in Syria
Moscow: N. Korea sanctions can only impact nuclear program
IMF warns of higher inflation, slower GDP growth in Russia
Russia's missing billions revealed
Russia Tries To Remove Images of New Drone From the Internet
Russian Military to Develop Anti-Meteorite Defenses
Russia investigates 25 cases of Defense Ministry fraud - Prosecutor General
MP resigns after bloggers disclose his Florida property
Russia escalating attacks on free expression a year on from Pussy Riot protest
‘Ample Evidence’ Linking Ukraine Ex-President to Journalist Murder
French Specialists Resume Work at Chernobyl Disaster Site
Ukraine: Embezzlement At State Orphanages
Belarus Phases Out Russian Warplanes, Radars

Xi Jinping's campaign to purge Communist Party 'won't be easy'
Incumbent cabinet holds final meeting
China's central banker skips retirement bar to stay on
Manila to tackle sea row 'with or without China' at UN
Attacks originating from US rank 1st among overseas hackings in China
Photos show new activity at N Korea nuclear site
Spy agencies scrounge for details on North Korean nuclear test
North Korea: A nuclear 7-Eleven?
N Korean propaganda video shows Obama in flames
US Envoy Opposes S Korean Nuclear Armament
Rise in online fan clubs extolling China's party leaders
After China's multibillion-dollar cleanup, water still unfit to drink
Smog in Pearl River Delta 'worse than in Beijing'
Maoists Block Deal to Break Nepal's Long Political Deadlock

Cameron to pay respects to victims of Amritsar massacre
Cameron's India trip hits wobble with concern over helicopter deal
Sars-like virus death reported in UK
New coronavirus can infect human lungs as easily as cold virus
Magdalene laundries: Ireland to apologise to survivors
Iranian torture guard refused UK citizenship
Britain expands "bigger than burgers" horsemeat tests
Regulator warns Britain 'on the brink' of energy crisis
Scotland 'faces EU funding cut'
Tanker drivers in Scotland vote to strike
Belfast Orange Order warns members over flag protests
One in four Africans attacked in Ireland

Berlusconi accused of trying to buy votes days before election
After Bulgarian Protests, Prime Minister Resigns
Greek police fire tear gas on anti-austerity protesters
Greece welcomes Hollande with ‘news blackout’
Dutch experiment in legalised prostitution a disaster
Thieves in Belgium pull off most spectacular and dramatic diamond heist in years
Iceland considers dropping its currency
Lawmakers Threaten to Veto Tightened Budget
EU reinforces sanctions against DPRK
To Revive Honey Bees, Europe Proposes a Pesticide Ban
Anti-austerity strike to bring Greece to a standstill
Italy politicians make final drive for votes before poll

Berlusconi's possible comeback a nightmare for Angela Merkel
Merkel's Rainbow Problem: On Gay Rights, Chancellor Still a Conservative
German Officials Signal Berlusconi Isn't Their Man
Germany Sends Troops to Mali
German police raid firms over Ponzi scheme
Germany: Court Backs Adoption by Same-Sex Couples
Net activists slam Germany's open data portal
NSU victims' families want more than sympathy
Security staff at Hamburg airport to strike Wednesday in pay dispute
Swiss mayoral candidate 'pro-Hamas, pro-Iran'
Outgoing chairman of Switzerland's Novartis foregoes $78 million golden parachute deal
Norway is Afraid of Foreign Spies

Hollande: French soldier killed in northern Mali
Hollande confirms seven kidnapped in Cameroon
Hollande urges investment in Greece, growth in Europe
Hollande: France will miss 2013 growth target
French Kidnapped in Cameroon Were Taken Into Nigeria
France saw 58 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks in 2012
Man arrested for serial attacks on Paris Chinese
France to unfreeze development aid to Mali
France Charges 11 In Alleged Kurdish Extortion Ring
War For Global Energy Supremacy-World War III
Syrian rebels threaten Hezbollah with 48-hour deadline
Syrian military reportedly shoots down Israel drone
US direct military support to Mali likely to continue after elections
Mortars Explode Near Assad Palace in Damascus
Missile kills more than 30 in Syria
Typhoid breaks out in rebel-held eastern Syria
Foreign Arms Supplies to Syrian Rebels Expanding
Pro-Assad militia now key to Syrian government’s war strategy
Russia's double dealing on arms to Assad regime leaves UK isolated over Syria
Syrian Rebels Threaten to Attack Lebanon Over Border Dispute
Insight Into Today’s News
Billionaires Continue To Dump Stocks
G20 issues empty declaration against currency wars
Norway Enters The Currency Wars
The Second-Mortgage Shell Game
The Last Liberal Branch of Government
US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan unraveling
Goodbye? We’ve Lost Who We Are?
US Schools Go Into Full Prison Mode
Hornady Addresses Ammo Shortage: We’re working 24/7
US Media Yet Again Conceals Newsworthy Government Secrets

Former foreign minister Livni joins Netanyahu coalition
Prisoner X: Benjamin Netanyahu adds to mystery
Secretary Kerry to skip Israel in first trip
Turkey, Israel Cut 1st Defense Deal Since Freezing Ties
Israel Seeks to Curb Weapons Flow to Gaza
West Bank protesters rally for release of deteriorating prisoners
Palestinian Prisoner's Hunger Strike Reaches 211th Day
Fatah Official Warns of Violence if Prisoners Aren't Freed
'Iron Dome' may be instrumental in peace process
Head of Israeli IVF unit arrested in Romania


Security deteriorating in Egypt due to political instability
Opposition Sets Conditions For Dialogue With Morsi
Morsi's advisory team less diverse after months of walkouts
Morsi Issues Presidential Decree to Appoint New Mufti
Strike, Protests Hit Egypt's Port Said for 3rd Day
Egyptians protest at Libyan border over new visa rules
Egypt ministry appeals against order to block YouTube
Egypt files new charges against Mubarak's last premier
2 Sunni groups halt roles in Bahrain crisis talks
A Palace Rift in Bahrain Bedevils Key US Navy Base

Iran to Conduct Military Drills Over 3 Days
Reformists Meet Khamenei To Improve 'Internal Climate'
Rivals Forced to Apologize to Supreme Leader
Ahmadinejad threat to cancel Iranian poll
Iran Pushes Nuclear-Free Mideast Plans
Syrian Prime Minister Claims Iran is Now “Occupying” Syria
MPs say sovereignty over three Persian Gulf islands is non-negotiable
Iran protests Berlin film award for banned Jafar Panahi
Fatwa Issued Against 3G Internet Operator in Iran
Iran FM Spurns Western 'Gold Trade' Offer
Stung by 'Argo,' Iran Backs Conference Denouncing 'Hollywoodism'

Iranians prepare terror campaign inside U.S.

'There are numerous Revolutionary Guard cells' inside borders - huge numbers within our universities and schools.


For the record, we have been warning about the build  up of Islamic infiltrators, mostly Iranians, all the way back to the very late Bush years by which time some 40,000 SUICIDERS had gradually gathered in the USA, not just terrorists but dedicated suicide bombers or those prepared to die for Islam.

Then came Obama and the game escalated to beyond measure with tens of thousands of Palestinians imported into the USA at taxpayer costs and nearly a BILLION dollar budget as so-called "refugees"!

Prior to this the State Department made visas visitors from Iran and Arab countries, who no longer had to register on arrival and provide fingerprints plus "religious visas for Iranian clerics suddenly became "ask and receive" the latter abused the "religious" rights, set up, ran and coordinated Islamic anti-American terrorism  activity throughout Shia mosques around America and among Sunni collaborating organizations. 

Like those formed by Obama's buddies the Moslem Brotherhood, which operates in part treacherously from inside the White House! Perhaps "treasonously" would apply here for those like Obama, who aid and abet them.

Our worst enemy is from within our own country and our feckless leadership from the White House and their pro-Islamic policies.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is alive and well in the U.S. and the country’s law enforcement officials ignore them at their peril, according to former U. S. Air Force officer Steven O’Hern.

O’Hern says that the Revolutionary Guard, long an influential factor in the radical Islamic regime in Iran, does most of its surveillance and intelligence gathering through its proxy force, Hezbollah, considered by many to be a terror group.

“In the United States, the Revolutionary Guard uses more than one approach. Hezbollah operatives and sympathizers are present in large numbers in many parts of the United States and actively conduct reconnaissance missions that develop information, photographs, and diagrams of federal buildings, and infrastructure targets,” O’Hern said.

“Those targets include such things as water utilities or electrical substations, and other potential targets to give the Guard the ability to quickly order a terrorist strike in our homeland,” O’Hern said.

He explains that the Revolutionary Guard is working through Shi’a mosques around the United States as well as the nation’s Lebanese immigrant communities.

WND previously reported that a former Iranian official who has knowledge of Iran’s terror network estimated there are more than 40,000 of the regime’s security, intelligence and propaganda forces in the West, largely in friendly South American nations.

And WND has reported that Muslims are using mosques, including some in the United States, as terror command centers.

It is the Guards’ intelligence office that runs financing, recruiting and other strategies through Islamic centers and mosques, including some in New York and Ohio.

And as early as several months ago, the Guard threatened to bring its war to the shores of the United States.
O’Hern, who has written “Iran’s Revolutionary Guard,” about the issue, said the primary mission of the Iran Revolutionary Guard and its Hezbollah proxy is to weaken the U. S. national security.

“In the United States, the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah have a long-term mission of gathering intelligence on homeland targets and maintaining the capability to deliver multiple terrorist attacks if the IRGC chooses to do so,” O’Hern said. “I say ‘maintain’ because the Guard has already developed it.”

He said attacks could be ordered in retaliation if Iran’s nuclear program is hit, or, “Sleeper cells could even be ordered into action if economic sanctions were so successful that the regime was in danger.”

“Attacks against the U.S. homeland are only one place where the IRGC can strike – it also can attack U.S. troops and facilities in Afghanistan, Africa, Europe, all of which are closer,” O’Hern said.

O’Hern’s findings are affirmed by the analysis of a former Defense Department analyst who has asked not to be named for security reasons. The analyst points to the major Arab-American communities in the major cities, especially in Dearborn, Mich., and the San Francisco Bay area.
“It is my sense that IRGC will rely more on Hezbollah in the U.S. than having their own operatives here. The reason for that is Hezbollah presence is primarily through the concentration of the Arab-American communities, mainly Lebanese, throughout the U.S., such as in Michigan and elsewhere,” the source said.

Former FBI counterterrorism officer and Islam analyst John Guandolo agrees that the Revolutionary Guard has a presence in the United States, and it operates through the major Shi’a communities.

“This is the Iranian government’s military activity in the U.S,” he said.
Guandolo, who established Guandolo and Associates in 2012, says that when it comes to working to undermine non-Muslim countries, Shi’a and Sunni Muslims work together.

“We do know the Sunni and Shi’a groups that are hostile to the United States are working together. In Lebanon, Iraq, and other places we see Hezbollah, by Iran, and Hamas with al-Qaida, working together on the ground,” Guandolo said.

“In the United States, the largest Muslim Brotherhood organization, the Islamic Society of North America, put forth the ISNA Code of Honor which says Sunni Muslims will not challenge other Muslims, the Shi’a, on their Takfiri, their legitimacy,” Guandolo said.

“All Muslims are focused on a similar goal. In other words, the Muslim world is working towards one goal right now and they have written agreements and are working on the ground around the world together,” Guandolo said, “So, yes, Hamas, CAIR works with Hezbollah, which is basically the IRGC.”

The former Defense Department analyst says the Revolutionary Guard operates the same way worldwide.

“That is similar in Africa and Latin America. Like Iran, Hezbollah is mainly Shi’a, although it will have some Sunnis and even some Christian Lebanese who are sympathetic here,” the former Defense Department analyst said.

“There is a major Hezbollah contingent, for example, in Canada. It would be much easier for Iran to work through them and the extensive Lebanese communities throughout the U.S. than to seek to establish a major independent presence,” the Defense Department analyst said.

Still, he said, it’s possible that the IRGC itself may have operational units working in the United States.

“However, I don’t doubt that IRGC may have some operatives here acting as liaison with the Hezbollah elements here. In Lebanon, the IRGC presence is more open with representatives working out of the Iranian embassy in Beirut,” the Defense Department analyst said.

A former CIA station chief agrees, concluding that in the final analysis, Muslims will work together in combating their major enemy, the United States.

“Like al-Qaida in Sunni mosques, any Lebanese Shi’a or Hezbollah member here is a de facto Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps terrorist. Some 20 percent of all mosques in the U.S. are Shi’a, therefore they are de facto representatives of the Revolutionary Guard,” the former CIA station chief said.

O’Hern says that the IRGC and Hezbollah fund their operations through a set of illegal activities.

“Hezbollah harvests large amounts of money from the United States to support its operations – millions of dollars from criminal enterprises such as narcotics trafficking, the sale of counterfeit goods, and financial crimes are sent back to Hezbollah from our country every year,” O’Hern said.

WND reported in September 2011 that IRGC proxy Hezbollah had been suspected of funding operations by raising money through the network of U.S. Shi’a mosques located in cities with large Lebanese immigrant populations.

Former Air Force and State Department security officer Dave Gaubatz says it appears the reason for raising money is to give money to Hezbollah.

The FBI and the IRS were unavailable for comment on this story. Congressional representatives and federal regulatory agencies also contacted about the issue either referred WND to another office or refused comment.


Top Stories

"A Chinese firm has stopped verifying safety and environmental standards for Iranian ships, becoming the last top certification provider to end marine work there as the trade noose on Tehran tightens. The China Classification Society (CCS) is the last of the world's top 13 such companies, all members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), to confirm it has ended Iran-related certification work, key to insurance and ports access for ships... A letter seen by Reuters dated November 15 showed Beijing-headquartered CCS had not provided certification services to Iranian ships since June 28. It had been urged to pull out by U.S. pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and clarify its position. 'Currently there is not any ship flying an Iranian flag or owned by an Iranian ship owner in our fleet, and we have not conducted any statutory survey for any Iranian ship,' CCS chairman and president Sun Licheng said in the letter to UANI dated November 15... A targeted campaign by UANI, which includes former U.S. ambassadors as well as former CIA and British intelligence chiefs on its board and is funded by private donations, has already led to other top classification societies exiting Iran. Without certification from classification societies, vessels are unable to secure insurance cover or call at most international ports. UANI's Wallace on Wednesday welcomed the move by CCS, but sought harsher measures being imposed on Iran's fleet. 'All of the world's major shipping certifiers have now ended their certification of Iranian vessels,' said Wallace, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. 'We call for even tougher sanctions: any vessel that docks in Iran or transports Iranian cargo should be barred from accessing ports in the U.S., EU, or elsewhere.'"

Reuters: "Hong Kong has deregistered five Iranian cargo ships and a further 14 are likely to follow after their classification society quit Iran due to sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States over its nuclear programme... Hong Kong's marine department has asked the owners of 19 dry bulk carriers, managed by an Iranian firm, to register their ships elsewhere after the Korean Register of Shipping said earlier this year it would not provide the ships safety auditing... Hong Kong had been urged by U.S. pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) to deflag the 19 dry bulk ships, which the group said were owned, managed or operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL) and its associated companies. In a reply to UANI dated November 9 Wong said it was of paramount importance to Hong Kong's marine department in safeguarding the quality of Hong Kong ships."

Reuters: "Six world powers agreed on Wednesday to seek renewed talks with Iran as fast as possible, reflecting a heightened sense of urgency to resolve a long rift over Tehran's disputed nuclear activity and avert the threat of war. Their call coincided with growing evidence of Iran expanding nuclear capacity in an underground bunker virtually impervious to attack and follows the November 6 re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, which has cleared the way for new contacts. Senior diplomats from the six countries - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - met in Brussels on Wednesday to consider new negotiating tactics despite abiding skepticism that a deal with Tehran can be reached. It was not clear after the meeting what options, if any, were agreed. But the six said 'necessary contact' with the Iranians would be made 'in the coming days'. 'The (six powers) are committed to having another round of talks with Iran as soon as possible,' said a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the six countries in dealings with Iran."

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Nuclear Program

Reuters: "Iran has been hauling dirt to a military site U.N. nuclear inspectors want to visit, Western diplomats said on Wednesday, saying the findings were based on satellite images and they reinforced suspicions of a clean-up. They said the pictures, presented during a closed-door briefing for member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggested Iran was continuing to try to hide incriminating traces of any illicit nuclear-related activity. The allegations come a few days after the IAEA said in a report on Iran that 'extensive activities' undertaken at the Parchin site since early this year would seriously undermine its inquiry, if and when inspectors were allowed access. Iran has so far denied the agency's request for a visit. The U.N. agency believes Iran may have conducted explosives tests that could help develop nuclear weapons at Parchin and wants immediate access to investigate the facility. Iran denies this, saying Parchin is a conventional military complex."

NYT: "The conflict that ended, for now, in a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel seemed like the latest episode in a periodic showdown. But there was a second, strategic agenda unfolding, according to American and Israeli officials: The exchange was something of a practice run for any future armed confrontation with Iran, featuring improved rockets that can reach Jerusalem and new antimissile systems to counter them. It is Iran, of course, that most preoccupies Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama. While disagreeing on tactics, both have made it clear that time is short, probably measured in months, to resolve the standoff over Iran's nuclear program. And one key to their war-gaming has been cutting off Iran's ability to slip next-generation missiles into the Gaza Strip or Lebanon, where they could be launched by Iran's surrogates, Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, during any crisis over sanctions or an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Michael B. Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States and a military historian, likened the insertion of Iranian missiles into Gaza to the Cuban missile crisis. 'In the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S. was not confronting Cuba, but rather the Soviet Union,' Mr. Oren said Wednesday, as the cease-fire was declared. 'In Operation Pillar of Defense,' the name the Israel Defense Force gave the Gaza operation, 'Israel was not confronting Gaza, but Iran.'"

Reuters: "Israel has a 'childish' desire to attack Iran and Tehran is capable of defending itself, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday. 'They wish to hurt the Iranian nation. They are waiting for the chance. They known that Iran does not attack anybody and they know that Iran knows how to defend itself,' he told a news conference in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. 'We don't accept the hegemony of Israel. They wish to attack Iran but it is like a childish desire.' He was speaking after attending a summit of developing nations."


In Auto News:
"After giant international automaker left Iran due to the sanctions on the nuclear programme, the country now relies on Peugeot to revive the auto industry here. Iran currently has to deal with increasing production costs and lack of technology on how to manufacture vehicles, after the world's most important automakers, such as Toyota, GM, Fiat, Hyundai and PSA Peugeot Citroen, were forced to leave the country due to the disputed nuclear programme. In September auto production in Iran dropped 66% from September 2011, and during the first half of the Iranian solar year, which began on March 19th, auto production fell 42%... On November 18th, the Iranian Industry Committee announced that Peugeot might return to the Iranian market, which would mean an increase in the country's car input. Although Peugeot has not yet officially confirmed this plan, its situation in Europe might force the automaker to make this step, also taking into consideration that Iran was its second major market."

Platts: "China's imports of crude oil from Iran in October fell 23.2% year on year to 1.94 million mt (458,716 b/d), but were up 23.3% on month, according to data from the General Administration of Customs received by Platts late Thursday. Iran remained China's fifth largest supplier of crude in October, similar to September. That is down from being the third largest supplier in August. In the first 10 months of the year, total Iranian crude imports were 17.73 million mt, down 22.2% from the same period a year ago. On June 28, China received a US exemption from sanctions levied against countries who trade with Iran for 180 days, with Washington saying China had significantly reduced its crude purchases from Iran. A renewal of the waiver is due December 25 and the US State Department said previously it would be dependent on further significant reductions of crude imports from Iran. China's total crude oil imports in October rose 13.8% year on year to 23.68 million mt (5.6 million b/d), the third highest level this year on a b/d basis, following the record 6.02 million b/d seen in May and 5.98 million b/d in February."

WashPost: "Iran is facing a possible crisis in its health-care system as a result of economic sanctions and alleged government mismanagement of diminishing state funds, according to officials here. The lack of money is already being felt in hospitals throughout Iran, where medical staffs have been told that they are working in 'war-time conditions' and should prescribe drugs sparingly - or in many cases, not all - in an effort to save resources... The scarcity derives from a complicated set of circumstances that includes both a heavy dose of Western sanctions, which are aimed at forcing Iran's leaders to halt their uranium-enrichment program, as well as what critics here say are missteps by the government. While some of the anger over the shortages has been directed at the United States and other global powers, there has also been an internal backlash. Hosseinali Shahriari, the head of parliament's health committee, said this month that 'the government is playing with our people's health and is not assigning the approved finances.'"

AFP: "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Thursday vowed to complete a mutli-billion dollar gas pipeline to Pakistan on time, downplaying financial woes and US pressure on Islamabad to scrap the project. Pakistan and Iran signed a deal in 2010 under which Tehran would supply gas to its eastern neighbour from 2014, with sales to reach up to one billion cubic feet (28 million cubic metres) per day by mid-2015. The project envisaged a pipeline, 900 kilometres (560 miles) in length built from Assaluyeh in southern Iran to the border with Pakistan. Another 800 kilometres pipeline was also needed inside Pakistan to receive gas from Iran's South Pars field in the Gulf. 'We want to complete this project by 2014,' Ahmadinejad told a press conference in Islamabad."

The Nation (Pakistan): "Pakistan Credit Rating Agency (PACRA) and the Securities and Exchange Organization (SEO) - Iran entered into MoU in Tehran on Thursday wherein PACRA will provide technical assistance in establishing a credit rating regime in Iran. Under the MoU, PACRA shall prepare regulatory framework for regulating the credit rating business in Iran and in establishing rating agencies in Iran. PACRA is one of the two Pakistani CRAs that provides credit rating services in various countries. In order to enhance cooperation and assistance to each other in the areas of interest, SECP and SEO-Iran had constituted a Liaison Committee that is entrusted with the task of exploring areas of assistance to each other. During a meeting in October 2011, SECP arranged a meeting of both the domestic CRAs with an Iranian delegation visiting Pakistan and the Iranian delegation desired to seek assistance of SECP for the development of regulatory framework for regulating the credit rating business in Iran."


NYT: "Above the bustling Niayesh highway in the western part of the Iranian capital, a huge billboard hangs on an overpass to remind drivers of Iran's missile abilities. Cars zip underneath the image of a green missile on a launcher and text in Persian saying 'Destination Tel Aviv.' Few here take note of the sign, as average Iranians are too busy trying to cope with rising prices and occasional shortages brought about by a faltering economy. But Iran's missiles and weapons technology are getting plenty of attention hundreds of miles away in Gaza, giving the country's ruling clerics a rare bit of good news in what has otherwise been a long, dismal year... Throughout the battle, Iranian-designed missiles, the Fajr-3 and the Fajr-5 that allowed Hamas and another Gaza-based movement, Islamic Jihad, to hit Israel's heartland, sent Israelis fleeing to bomb shelters. While political support and money helps, Palestinian leaders said, Iran's weapons technology is a far greater help."

AFP: "Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said on Wednesday that Israel had 'failed in all its goals' after a Gaza truce deal came into effect, while thanking Egypt and Iran for their support during the conflict. 'After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance,' Meshaal said. 'Israel has failed in all its goals,' he told reporters in a Cairo hotel. Meshaal also thanked ceasefire mediator Egypt, as well as Iran, which he said 'had a role in arming' his Islamist movement during the conflict."

AFP: "Israel and the United States have agreed to work together to prevent the smuggling of weapons from Iran to militant groups in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday. 'Israel cannot sit idly by as its enemies strengthen themselves with weapons of terror so I agreed with President (Barack) Obama that we will work together -- Israel and the United States -- against the smuggling of weapons to terror organisations, most of which comes from Iran,' he said in a televised address."

LAT: "Iran for years has supplied Hamas with weapons as part of its own struggle against Israel, but the conflict in the Gaza Strip reveals a shift in regional dynamics that may diminish Tehran's influence with Palestinian militant groups and strengthen the hand of Egypt. The longer-range missiles fired by Hamas over the last week - believed to be modifications of Iran's Fajr 5 missiles - startled Israel by landing near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A front-page story in Iran's conservative daily, Kayhan, boasted: 'The missiles of resistance worked.' Tehran would not confirm the weapons' origin, except to say it sent rocket 'technology' to Hamas... But the Gaza fighting erupted during a new era in the Middle East brought about by the rise of Islamist governments, notably in Egypt, that have replaced pro-Western autocrats. The political catharsis has spurred anti-Americanism, which Iran relishes, but it also has upset Tehran's regional designs."

Reuters: "Iran reacted angrily to assertions by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and accused him of not understanding the realities in the region after the diplomat accused Tehran of being responsible for the Gaza conflict. On Wednesday Fabius accused Iran of negative intentions in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza and that it bore a 'heavy responsibility' for the fighting for providing long-range weapons."

NYT: "Eighteen years have passed since a suicide bomber drove a Renault van loaded with explosives into the headquarters of the Jewish community center here, killing 85 people. Since then, investigations have meandered. Interpol arrest warrants have led nowhere. Aging suspects connected to the attack have begun to die. But in the elusive quest for justice in the bombing, which ranks among the deadliest anti-Semitic attacks anywhere since World War II, few developments have riled Argentina's Jewish leaders as much as the government's move in recent weeks to improve relations with Iran, the nation shielding in the high echelons of its political establishment various people accused by Argentine prosecutors of having authorized the attack... 'We cannot comprehend this,' said Guillermo Borger, the president of the Argentine Mutual Aid Association, the center that was bombed in 1994. 'The world is shutting its doors to Iran, and we're giving Iran a chance to say that Argentina is somehow now its friend. The Iranians have not budged in their assertion that their people are innocent, so why should Argentina be in dialogue with them?'"

Human Rights

Guardian: "The mother of an Iranian blogger who died in custody has accused the authorities of killing her son and launching an intimidation campaign against her family. Sattar Beheshti was a 35-year-old blogger from the city of Robat-Karim who lost his life while being interrogated by Iran's cyberpolice, accused of acting against the national security because of what he had posted on Facebook. Iran's opposition activists have accused the regime of torturing Beheshti to death. In jail, Beheshti had no access to his family nor to a lawyer. Beheshti's mother, who has not been named but is pictured with him in one of the only images available of him online, has for the first time spoken out against the state pressure on her family not to speak to the press. 'I have no fears. I can't accept that my son has died by natural causes,' she told Sahamnews, a news website close to an Iranian opposition leader, Mehdi Karroubi, who is under house arrest. 'My son has been killed. He went to jail standing on his own legs and they gave us his dead body.'"

Reuters: "Iran said on Thursday a blogger who died while in police custody may have lost his life as a result of a form of shock, the official IRNA news agency reported, adding that investigations were not yet concluded. In a case that has sparked international outrage, 35-year-old Sattar Beheshti who wrote a blog critical of the government was arrested on October 30 after receiving death threats and died some days later, having complained of being tortured. Under increasing pressure at home and abroad for an investigation, Iran's parliament said it had formed a committee to examine the case and the judiciary said it would deal 'quickly and decisively' with those responsible. 'In its latest report, the seven-member medical committee says ... it is not possible to determine the exact cause of death,' IRNA quoted Tehran prosecutor's office as saying in a statement. 'But the most likely cause leading to death may be shock,' the statement said, adding that excessive psychological stress could have caused the shock."

AP: "In his last blog entry, activist Sattar Beheshti wrote that Iranian authorities had given him an ultimatum: Either stop posting his 'big mouth' attacks against the ruling system or tell his mother that she will soon be in mourning. 'We will tear down your cruel cage,' Beheshti typed on Oct. 29 before signing off... But while the specific circumstances of Beheshti's death may be given a public reckoning, the more far-reaching aspect of the case - Iran's rapidly growing corps of Web watchers - may remain in the shadows, as well as their motives in targeting an obscure blogger whose site was actively followed by more than a few dozen viewers. The 35-year-old Beheshti apparently fell under the custody of Iran's cyber police, created last year with a wide mandate to crush Web dissent. The powers displayed in the case - including questioning Beheshti outside the regular justice system - suggests a level of autonomy and authority that could bring far more aggressive measures against Web activists."

Opinion & Analysis

Kristen McTighe in IHT: "Houshang Asadi was a Communist journalist thrown into the cold confines of Moshtarek prison in Iran when he found an unlikely friend in the tall, slender Muslim cleric who greeted him with a smile. Imprisoned together in 1974, under the rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, they found common ground in their passion for literature. They shared jokes, spoke of where they came from, their families and falling in love. Mr. Asadi, who did not smoke, would give cigarettes to his cellmate who, uncharacteristic of a cleric, did. On days when Mr. Asadi felt broken, he said, the cleric would invite him to take a walk in their cell to brighten his spirits. So, when his release came six months later and the cleric stood cold and trembling, Mr. Asadi gave him his jacket. 'At first he refused it, but I told him I was going to be released,' Mr. Asadi recalled. 'Then we hugged each other and he had tears coming down his face. He whispered in my ear, Houshang, when Islam comes to power, not a single tear will be shed from an innocent person.' What Mr. Asadi found unimaginable was that the cleric would become president of the Islamic Republic that later imprisoned him again, sentenced him to death and brutally tortured him for six years in the same prison. Today that same cleric is the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mr. Asadi's account of torture and imprisonment has offered a rare glimpse into what activists say was a decade of grave human rights violations in Iran. And at a time when international attention has shifted to the nuclear issue and sanctions, they say a campaign to bring justice and accountability through a symbolic tribunal has helped unite a once fractured opposition. 'I never expected he would get power, never,' said Mr. Asadi in an interview in Paris, where he lives in exile. Mr. Asadi, a 63-year-old writer, journalist and former member of the Tudeh party, was routinely arrested and tortured under the shah. He had supported the revolution, so when he was arrested again in 1982 and accused of being a spy for the Russians and the British, he was convinced that it was a mistake. In a plea for help, his wife wrote to Mr. Khamenei, who had risen to power as president after the Islamic revolution, but two weeks later the letter was returned with a note in the margin saying only that he had been aware of the journalist's political beliefs. Mr. Asadi's death sentence was reduced to 15 years in prison. During his time in prison, he again developed a relationship with the only person he had contact with - as he had done with Mr. Khamenei. This time it was with his torturer, a man he knew only as 'Brother Hamid.' 'He is your torturer and he thinks he is your god, he thinks he is religious, he is pure, and you are evil, you are the enemy,' Mr. Asadi said. 'So he can do anything to you.' Mr. Asadi said he was called a 'useless wimp' and hung by a chain attached to his arms twisted behind his back while the soles of his feet were whipped until he was unable to walk. Brother Hamid forced him to bark like a dog to speak or when the pain was too much and he was ready to make confessions. His ears were hit and his teeth were broken. Mr. Asadi said he had even been forced to eat his own excrement and the excrement of fellow prisoners. Beyond physical pain, he endured psychological torture. He was shown coffins and told his comrades had been killed. He would hear screams and was made to believe his wife was being tortured in the cell next to him... The torture continued daily for six years, until he was abruptly pulled out of his cell in 1988 when the supreme leader at the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, ordered the mass killing of thousands of political prisoners. Prisoners were asked three questions concerning their religious faith and loyalty to the regime. 'If you answered no to any question, they killed you,' Mr. Asadi said. 'I lied to save my life.'"

          Being a Genuine Servant of the Lord        
A new MP3 sermon from Grace Baptist Church is now available on with the following details:

Title: Being a Genuine Servant of the Lord
Subtitle: Missions Conference 2013
Speaker: Wayne Burggraff
Broadcaster: Grace Baptist Church
Event: Sunday - AM
Date: 11/17/2013
Bible: Galatians 2:20
Length: 49 min. (16kbps)

Overview: Wayne Burggraff, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Lebanon, Pa., challenges the believer with Paul's keys to becoming a real servant of Christ- one who makes an impact for eternity.
          American Names        

I was on the road recently and posted on Facebook (Marianne was driving at the time):

What a country this is for names! Mud Turnpike. Clums Corner. Farm to Market Road. Cropseyville. Quakenkill (river). Dyken Pond. Pickleville Road. Little Hoosic River. Bee Hill. All within a few miles of each other.
Which was responsible not only for our visiting a friend who lived nearby and noticed we were driving through, but also for over fifty comments on Funny Names People Have Known.

All of which was good clean fun. (Though if you live in Pennsylvania you will, after a few decades, grow tired of hearing people snicker about Intercourse and Bird in Hand.) (Not that I kept myself from snickering when I was in Dildo, Newfoundland, so l'm not going to put on airs here.) But I really wasn't making fun of those names, or if I was only a little bit. There is an honest, plain-spoken beauty to old American names. Even a kind of poetry.

Here's an excerpt (with a couple of sentences cut off of the first paragraph) fro a story I wrote titled "Mother Grasshopper":

Our business entailed constant travel.  We went to Brinkerton with cholera and to Roxborough with typhus.  We passed through Denver and Venice and Saint Petersburg and left behind fleas, rats, and plague.  In Upper Black Eddy, it was ebola.  We never stayed long enough to see the results of our work, but I read the newspapers afterwards, and it was about what you would expect…
 We walked to Tylersburg, Rutledge, and Uniontown and took wagons to Shoemakersville, Confluence, and South Gibson.  Booked onto steam trains for Mount Lebanon, Mount Bethel, Mount Aetna, and Mount Nebo and diesel trains to McKeesport, Reinholds Station, and Broomall.  Boarded buses to Carbondale, Feasterville, June Bug, and Lincoln Falls.  Caught commuter flights to Paradise, Nickel Mines, Niantic, and Zion. The time passed quickly.

I hope you can hear the music there. I was trying to evoke the homely rhythms of the plains states, where you can get on an Interstate and drive all night, while periodically an exit sign drifts by for Berlin or Paris or Vienna or London, so that eventually you begin to hallucinate that you got onto the wrong road and are traveling one with off-tamps to all the major cities of the Earth.

That was the intent, anyway. It fit the story, which was a strange one. But I'm going to share a minor secret here: All those names are of places in Pennsylvania.

Why did I do that? Because I could, mostly. Because even though they were from a single state, they sounded like they were scattered across America. And because as long as you're writing a story, you might as well leave a few Easter eggs behind, to amuse those few who happen to notice.


          God's Purpose for Lebanon        
A new MP3 sermon from The Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony is now available on with the following details:

Title: God's Purpose for Lebanon
Subtitle: Bible Lands in Bible Light
Speaker: Ian Shaw
Broadcaster: The Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony
Event: Teaching
Date: 3/23/2012
Bible: Song of Solomon 4
Length: 64 min. (16kbps)

Overview: During recent times the Middle East and North Africa have been very much in the news. God has a lot to say about the nations in this area and for 2012.
          Syrian Army Recaptures Ancient Christian Town From Jihadis        
The military action follows seizure of the rebel-held Syrian border town of Rankous, in the strategically located Qalamoun region, which deprives the opposition their last major base in the area and cuts off a former supply line for weapons and fighters from neighbouring Lebanon. Maaloula had earlier been overran by Islamist fighters, some belonging to the al-Qaida linked Al Nusra front, who also took 13 nuns captive from their convent. They were freed in a prisoner swap deal brokered by Qatar and Lebanon. [...]
          Bro. Barack Obama shuns the Security Council, over Israel’s settlements policy?        

FP – Foreign Policy Obama shuns the Security Council

By David Bosco Tuesday, February 15, 2011 Before Egypt’s revolution consumed the world’s diplomatic oxygen, a nasty fight was brewing in the UN Security Council over Israel’s settlements policy. Council members were debating a draft resolution that would have condemned the settlements as illegal and harmful to the peace process. That fight appears ready to break out again, and it’s putting the Obama administration in the uncomfortable position of trying to marginalize the Security Council, an institution it has often privileged.

From the beginning of the debate on a settlements resolution, the United States has made clear its lack of enthusiasm. Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted “the only way that there will be a resolution of the conflict… is through a negotiated settlement. Therefore we don’t see action at the UN or any other forum as being helpful in bringing about this desired outcome.” Meanwhile, a group of former American diplomats and influential commentators pressured the administration to let the Security Council act.

With the Egypt crisis having ebbed, the issue appears ready to resurface. According to some reports, Lebanon and other backers of [...]

          A Full Day Of Blues, Food And More At The Lebanon Blues Festival        
Lebanon, Ohio is gearing up for its annual free street music-filled party, the Lebanon Blues Festival , on Saturday, August 5.
          Youth Conflict Resolution Strategies and Skills - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
Whenever two or more people interact, either as individuals or as part of a group, there is always potential for conflict. It is no different when you interact with young people in a work setting: the potential for conflict is present. It is important that you are aware of that potential so that you are able to identify a conflict situation and intervene appropriately to control it.
Workers dealing with young people are often confronted with difficult situations in which they may be asked to assist in resolving young people's problems and conflicts. These may be internal problems of relationships within a youth group, or relationships between young people and those in authority, or even conflict between yourself and the young people you are working with.
This program has been designed to help you understand the nature of conflict and its effects on people in a range of contexts, both at an individual and at a group level. We will also look at the processes involved in behavior that occurs between different groups, called inter-group behaviour, and its potential impact on group members.

Program Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
identify examples of conflict in the region where you live, understand their origins and describe the course the conflicts have taken.
Recognize the different approaches that have been used in resolving conflict, and the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches.
Apply the insights gained from studying conflict situations to the kinds of conflict that are encountered in youth development work.
Recognize the existence of pre-conflict and conflict situations when they are encountered in different youth and development settings.
Employ negotiation and mediation skills in bringing together conflicting groups or individuals.
Consider strategies to resolve conflict when agreement cannot be reached by consensus.

Who Should Attend?

Youth workers in government departments, corporations and NGOs.
Young leaders.
Youth Program coordinators.
School and University teachers.
Professionals responsible for youth policy formulation and strategy development.
Police department officers.

Program Outline

Day 1
Analysing conflict
Conflict in groups
The conflict process model

Day 2
The Five Stages
Resolving Conflict
Dealing with conflict
Ending conflict
Practicing conflict resolution skills
Bargaining strategies
Negotiation skills

Day 3
Conflict Among Groups
Inter-group relations
Impact of conflict on group dynamics
Managing conflict among groups



          Facilitating Youth Learning Processes - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
Learning takes place throughout life - in different ways, in different contexts. It's almost impossible to stop people learning, in some form or other, all the time. This is very useful for youth development workers. Learning is a powerful tool that we can use deliberately to improve knowledge and enhance skills. If you can direct learning along appropriate channels, then you will accelerate the process and help young people to develop very rapidly.
The aim of this program is to introduce you to the ideas and practices of learning that are relevant to youth development work. The module focuses on the role of youth development workers as educators, or to put it another way, as 'learning facilitators'. We prefer this term because it indicates that your role will be to help and guide the very powerful internal learning processes in young people, rather than to control them.

The module explores different theories of learning and their influences. It identifies the different ways in which people learn and the factors that inhibit or facilitate learning. It also considers experiential learning as a method that is appropriate to youth development workers, and examines appropriate strategies for face-to face work with young people and adults.

Program Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
Give an overview of important psychological and philosophical principles relevant to 'education for all' and youth development work.
Describe the characteristics of informal education and apply this knowledge to youth development work.
Make use of the techniques of informal and experiential learning in youth development work and enable other people to use it.
Describe your own and other people's learning style(s) and mode of intelligence.
Identify factors that help and factors that hinder people's learning, particularly in informal settings.
Devise effective strategies for learning with a range of individuals and groups in youth development work.

Who Should Attend?

Youth workers in government departments, corporates and NGOs.
Young leaders.
Student activities coordinators.
School and University teachers.
Professionals responsible for youth policy formulation and strategy development.

Program Outline

Day 1

What is Learning?
Thinking about learning
Experiential learning
How adults learn best
Self-directed learning
Education for All
A positive philosophy of learning
Developing the whole person
Lifelong learning
Guiding principles

Day 2
Informal Education
Types of learning and education
Agents of informal education
Implications for youth development work
What Helps and What Hinders Learning?
A good learning environment
Factors that hinder learning

Day 3
Learning styles
What is learning style?
Learning style models
Meeting learner needs
Socio-cultural background and learning

Day 4
Facilitating Adult Learning
Communication and participation
Designing the program
Selecting learning strategies



          Youth Development Work Principles and Practices - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
This program is designed to introduce you to a range of different approaches to working with young people. You may already have experience of youth work. If so, then you have been working in a wide-ranging and complex field. However, you may have experience of only one type of youth work practice. We have designed this program so that you can get a clear understanding of several of the key practices in youth work. This will enable you to develop your insight and skill by allowing you to draw on a rich frame of reference.

Program Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
Define Youth Development concept.
Briefly describe, in your own words, the history and position of youth development work in your country.
Delineate the professional role of the youth worker.
Explain the important factors that have affected youth development work and that influence current trends.
Begin working effectively with young people and adults in enabling them to improve the quality of their lives.
Select from a range of different approaches to youth development work those that are most appropriate to specific circumstances.

Who Should Attend?

Youth program coordinators.
Young leaders.
Youth workers in government departments, corporates and NGOs.
School and University teachers.
Professionals responsible for policy formulation and strategy development in youth focused organizations.

Program Outline

Day 1
Youth Development
What is Youth development? and how does it influence youth work?
Youth Development theories and practivcies
Interactionist perspective - Functional Perspective
Youth Development Values
Enabling - Empowering

Day 2
Youth development work: history and traditions
Youth development work in families and communities
Youth work as social and leisure provision
Out of school education
Youth work for national development
Youth welfare work

Day 3
Youth development work: models and approaches
Treatment Model
Reform Model
Advocacy Model
Conscientisation Model
Youth Development Practices

Day 4
Youth Worker roles and methods
Working face to face with young people in a variety of settings
Managing and supporting other paid and volunteer workers
Formulating and developing community policies for governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)



          Youth and Healthy Lifestyle Promotion Skills - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
Youth development workers have a key role to play in delivering a holistic approach to health promotion. The program starts by defining youth in the context of health. It continues by looking at why it is important to involve young people in the planning and implementation of any program that targets them, and how to promote youth participation. You will also look closely at some of the contemporary health issues that affect young people, such as nutrition and diet, sexual and reproductive health and drug abuse. The program also looks at how to enable practitioners to recognize the different roles they have, and how to foster effective working relationships.

Program Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
Identify the major health issues affecting young people.
Outline health promotion strategies (particularly preventative strategies).
Describe the specific role of youth development work in health promotion.
Develop specific programs of health promotion.
Use the distinctive methodology of youth development work within the environment of a primary health care agency.

Who Should Attend?

Professionals of healthcare institutions.
Public health practitioners.
Youth Workers in government departments, corporations and NGOs.
Health awareness organizations staff.
Professionals responsible for youth policy formulation and strategy development.

Program Outline

Day 1
Defining Youth and Health
Defining youth
Defining health
Primary health care
Adolescent and youth developmental changes
The basics of health and personal hygiene

Day 2
Involving Young People
Youth development and health services
The role of young people in health
Developing skills and information
Factors affecting participation

Day 3
Sexual and Reproductive Health
Defining sexuality
Defining reproductive health
Reproductive rights
Traditional practices

Day 4
The World Health Organisation (WHO) mandate
World food supply
Mental Health and Drug Abuse
What is mental health?
Self-abuse and deviant behavior
What is drug abuse?
Demographics and drug use
Prevention and support
Self-abuse through injury and suicide



          Working with Youth in Their Communities - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
If you already have significant experience as a youth development worker, you will have spent a lot of time working with individuals and groups. During the course of your work, you will probably have had doubts about your performance and may have wondered how you could improve on what you were doing. Improvement is partly a matter of experience, but it is much the best to have a carefully directed experience, shaped by what research has shown to be effective.
In this program, you will explore what is currently understood about the most appropriate knowledge and skills required for working successfully with young people in groups.
You will study how other people have worked in communities ,and their theories about their work.
You will explore the theory and practice of community development.
You will learn about community development work plans, and how to make and implement them.
You will examine the characteristics of an effective group leader.

Program Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
Work effectively as a member of a group.
Take on a variety of roles in a group, including leadership and advocacy.
Know how to develop your own skills in facilitating a group.
Use the techniques of community development.
Be familiar with key concepts in community development.
Promote the participation of young women and men in community activities.
Create effective planning strategies and develop community profiles, social community plans and personal plans.
Recognize several useful models for analyzing human behavior and individual differences.

Who Should Attend?

Youth program coordinators.
Young leaders.
Youth workers in government departments, corporations and NGOs.
School and University teachers.

Program Outline

Day 1
Working with and for young people
Community Development
(Important terms and concepts)
Community: not just a place
Getting going in the community
Laying the foundation
Developing a community profile
Planning your work

Day 2
Young people in their communities
Skills, characteristics and knowledge
The role of the community youth worker
Leaders and leadership
Increasing group participation

Day 3
Social planning
Social planning activities
Planning stages
Practical applications of community social planning
Networks and partnerships



          Youth Social Development Methodologies - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
This program is designed to help you understand some of the theoretical background of youth development work, so that you can relate what you are doing to the social context in which you are working. You will already be aware that young people have roles and responsibilities. These responsibilities are different in each society, yet particular aspects are common across most societies.
Understanding the social situations of young people is crucial. This program aims to illuminate the situation of young people in your society by exploring what researchers and theorists have said about youth in different social contexts, and relating that to general theories about society. Your role as a youth development worker is to help to improve conditions for young people. In doing this, you will be helping to develop the society in which they live.

Program Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
Understand how young people are seen in various societies, and from different sociological perspectives.
Examine the range of definitions of 'youth', 'adolescence' and 'family'.
Understand the problems and issues facing young people and the societies in which they live.
Work in a way that is sensitive to social and cultural traditions.

Who Should Attend?

Youth workers in government departments, corporations and NGOs.
Young leaders.
Student activities coordinators.
School and University teachers.
Professionals responsible for policy formulation and strategy development in youth focused organizations.

Program Outline

Day 1
Ways of seeing young people
The concepts of society and culture
Defining youth
The nature of youth work
Describing and defining adolescence
Psychoanalytic theories of adolescence
Sociological theories of adolescence

Day 2
Young people and the family
Family types
Approaches to the study of the family
Issues facing families today
The concept of community

Day 3
Young people and social issues
Images of young people
Young people and unemployment
Young people and crime
The implications for youth development workers



          Youth and Sustainable Development Strategies - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
This program provides strategies for Youth Sustainable Development Projects. It is also explores the need to raise awareness about sustainable development for young generations, addressing the importance of the balance between development process and environmental protection. In this program, we present the key role that young people can play towards the sustainable development. As stated in Rio Declaration on Environment and Development 1992: "Principle 21: The creativity, ideals and courage of the youth of the world should be mobilised to forge a global partnership in order to achieve sustainable development and ensure a better future for all."

Program Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
Increase your knowledge of the sustainable development and environmental issues that affect youth around the world.
Provide you with the skills that will enable you to contribute to positive change in the present state of the environment.
Work with a youth group to design and undertake an environmental/ sustainable development-related project.
Enable you to lead and support group activities that will help to promote environmentally sustainable development.
Design a project that gives clear expression to the principles of sustainable development.
Evaluate projects in terms of their contribution to sustainable development.

Who Should Attend?

Professionals of environment and Sustainable development departments.
Youth Workers, in government departments, corporates and NGOs.
Student activities coordinators.
Professionals responsible for policy formulation and strategy development in youth focused organizations.
Young Leaders
Schools and universities educators.

Program Outline

Day 1
Youth and sustainable development
Opportunities for young people
International Youth Federation (IYF)
The Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN)
Youth as initiators
Youth as activists
The social environment
The relationship between the environment and development
Youth concerns and Responses

Day 2
Sustainable Development Project Elements
Sustainable Development Strategies
The World Resources Institute model
Environmental and technological objectives
Economic and socio-cultural objectives
Socio-economic and cultural objectives
Ecological objectives

Day 3
The World Bank approach
The sustainability matrix
Sustainability as opportunity
Youth and Sustainable development Practical Case Studies
Young Conservationists Club (YCC), Thailand
Fiji National Youth Council (FNYC)
Association of Friends of Nature Clubs (ACAN), Cameroon
JEMS, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.



          Positive Youth Development Strategies - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
Course Overview

Positive Youth Development (PYD) is a theory based on years of research on the best ways to help young people grow into adulthood. This program is designed to help youth workers to understand the Positive Youth Development approaches, such as the individual strength approach that promote young people's social and emotional well-being.

In this program we discuss the outside influences that promote young people's social and emotional well-being. Also the program aims to examine approaches of working with young people to create a growth plan and to create positive places for young people. Creating a step by step action plan for integrating Positive Youth Development into youth organizations is also presented in this program.

Course Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
  • Understand the Positive Youth Development approaches.
  • Identify the developmental needs of young people and adolescents.
  • Work effectively with young people to create a growth plan.
  • Make use of individual strength approach that promote young people's social and emotional well-being.
  • Create positive places for young people.
  • Create an action plan for integrating Positive Youth Development into your organization.
Who Should Attend?
  • Department heads of youth focused institutions.
  • Young Leaders
  • Professionals responsible for youth program development, in government departments, corporations and NGOs.
  • Youth Workers.
  • Student Activities coordinators.
  • Professionals responsible for policy formulation and strategy development in youth focused organizations.
  • School and University teachers.

Course Outline

Day 1
  • What is Positive Youth development?
  • The concept
  • Strength based approaches
  • Individual strengths that promote young people's social and emotional well-being
  • The 5 Cs
  • Outside influences that promote young people's social and emotional well-being
  • Families - Schools - Communities
Day 2
  • The Developmental Assets
  • The five Promises
  • Work with young person to create a growth plan
  • Youth immediate needs
  • Assisting young person to set goals
  • Active listening skills to determine youth's strengths and interests
  • Rewarding youth
Day 3
  • Putting Positive Youth Development into practice
  • Building individual strength in youth
  • Youth involvement
  • Creating positive places for young people
  • What makes a place positive?
  • how to keep youth places positive?
Day 4
  • Creating a step by step action plan for integrating Positive Youth Development into your organization
  • Select PYD framework
  • Train staff and volunteers
  • Preview your mission statement
  • Review your programs
  • Establish a concrete ways to involve youth in your programs
  • Assess your programs



          Managing Youth Economic Development Projects - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
Course Overview

The purpose of this program is to explore some of the development possibilities of the links between youth work and contemporary economic change. We will describe the skills needed to promote self employment among young women and young men, including the principles of setting up micro enterprises. We will explore how aspects of informal education can help young people to develop enterprise skills and undertake enterprise projects.

In this program, we focuses on the nature of current economic development and its relationship to enterprise activity. Other sessions concentrate on practical guidelines and exercises to develop enterprise skills. While one session of this program takes the form of a training program that you will be able to deliver to enterprising youth in your community.

Course Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
  • Identify the different factors that shape and influence current economic development, particularly at a local level.
  • Use experiential learning strategies to develop youth enterprise skills, with the aim of promoting local economic development.
  • Support young women and young men in setting up small business projects.
  • Contribute entrepreneurial expertise in the development of local economic strategies.
  • Devise and deliver programs of informal education for young people to acquire enterprise skills.
Who Should Attend?
  • Mentors of business incubators and accelerators.
  • Professionals responsible for the development of economic strategies.
  • Youth Program coordinators.
  • Young leaders.
  • Youth workers in government departments, corporations and NGOs.

Course Outline

Day 1
  • Understanding Economic Development
  • Opportunities in the global market
  • Unleashing entrepreneurship
  • Economic development in rural areas
  • Youth enterprise
  • Small and informal enterprises
  • Training entrepreneurs
  • Government policies and support
  • Changing role of government and NGOs
Day 2
  • Youth and enterprise
  • What is youth enterprise?
  • Barriers to enterprise
  • Being creative
  • The enterprise development cycle
  • Setting up a small business
  • Setting up a small business: The training program
  • Starting out
  • Preparing the ground
  • Accounting practice
  • The business model
Day 3
  • Planning a micro-enterprise
  • Planning an enterprise
  • Planning for micro and informal enterprises
  • Informal learning
  • Opportunities for young people



          Integrating Technology into Youth Settings - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         

Course Overview

In this program, you will explore current uses of technology by youth and how that engagement influences their own development and the world around them. You will also identify the opportunities and dangers that are associated with new technologies. Participants will demonstrate how new technologies can be designed and incorporated into youth programming to promote positive youth development.

Course Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:

  • Explain how the type and extent of youth usage of technology affects tier development.
  • Identify the risks and benefits of technology to youth programs and create a plan for technology use in their programs.
  • Describe the various models that are used to structure technology-based interventions for youth.
  • Apply one of these models to a practical situation in a youth-relevant setting.
  • Demonstrate the ability to design an activity or intervention that incorporates technology to promote positive youth development.
Who Should Attend?
  • Youth workers in government departments, corporations and NGOs.
  • Young leaders.
  • Student activities coordinators.
  • School and University teachers.
Course Outline

Day 1
  • Overviews of Youth and Technology
  • App generation review
  • Youth and Adolescent Ownership and Use of New Media
  • The Impact of Social Media on Youth, Adolescents, and Families
  • A Silicon Valley School That Doesn't Compute!
  • Models of Integrating Technology into Youth Settings
  • The Use of Technology to Promote the Multicultural Development of Youth
  • Internet use and developmental tasks
  • Positive Technology Development
  • The Potential of Games for Learning
Day 2
  • Technology in Youth Programs
  • E Mentoring
  • Digital Media
  • Using Technology to Promote Positive Youth Development
  • Youth-Driven Social Media Campaign to Promote STI and HIV Testing Among Adolescents
  • Adaptive Game for Reducing Aggressive Behavior
  • Text-Messaging Interventions to Promote Healthy Behaviors in Adolescents

Day 3
  • The Dangers and Policies around Technology Use
  • Use of Electronic Devices and Social Media in Youth Camps
  • Understanding the Role of Technology in Adolescent Dating and Dating Violence
  • The Multiple Dimensions of Video Game Effects on Youth
  • Social media use in adult-youth relationships
  • How Clear Missions Guide Electronic Technology Policies



          Youth Program Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         

Course Overview

Much of the work of youth development professionals is organised around specific projects. They may be small projects designed by yourself and relevant stakeholders to solve very specific problems that you and they face. Alternatively, they may be part of much larger projects run by major funding bodies. Either way, project design and development is often expected to use certain techniques to ensure project quality. The aim of this program is to introduce you to the practices that have built up around the design and management of projects in the last few decades.

What is presented here will give you a general overview of project work. It has been written to help you develop the knowledge and skills necessary to plan, design, implement, monitor and evaluate projects in your youth in development program.

Course Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:

  • Identify activities involved in project planning, monitoring and evaluation.
  • write a proposal for funding, including logframes.
  • plan projects on the basis of a logical framework.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the Total Quality Program standers.
  • Prepare project risk management plan.

Who Should Attend?

  • Department heads of youth focused institutions.
  • Young Leaders
  • Professionals responsible for youth project planing, in government departments, corporates and NGOs.
  • Volunteers of youth projects and organizations.
  • Youth Workers.
  • Student Activities coordinators.
Course Outline

Day 1

  • Youth Centered Programming Model
  • Preparation for programming
  • (Need Assessment - Youth development Factor - Assessing Organization - Entrepreneurship - Youth involvement)
  • Program Objectives
  • Logical Framework

Day 2

  • Program Development
  • Approaches to program development
  • Selecting program format
  • Selecting program area
  • Program promotion
  • Total Quality Program

Day 3

  • Program Implementation
  • Program leadership
  • Helping Youth feel valued
  • Promoting youth involvement
  • Quality customer service
  • Handling complaints
  • Risk Management

Day 4

  • Program Evaluation
  • Purposes
  • Principles of evaluation
  • Types of evaluation
  • Methods of evaluation
  • Model of evaluation



           Youth Policy Planning and Implementation - Matsh Youth Development , Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai         
Course Overview

This Program will enable you to develop the skills required to investigate, analyse and influence the policy-making processes that shape welfare services, particularly those that directly affect the quality of young people's lives. It will focus in particular on the nature and scope of youth policy - the common themes that underpin national youth policies and the characteristic tensions within such policies. The relationship between youth policies and the wider policy environment will be considered. The program will also look at the criteria for success or failure of youth policies and the evaluation of their outcomes.

Course Benefits

When you successfully complete this program, you should be able to:
  • Describe the origins, history and development of youth policies in at least two countries in your region.
  • Outline the main themes that underpin the formulation, development and implementation of youth policies.
  • Demonstrate a broad awareness of the impact of youth policies on youth development work.
  • Evaluate the success of such policies through, for example, the use of performance indicators.
  • Contribute to the strategic development of agencies in the youth development field through youth policy development.
  • Establish and/or work within partnerships created to achieve key objectives of youth policy at local level.
  • Influence policy-making processes in a way that is appropriate to your role.
Who Should Attend?
  • Members of National Youth Councils.
  • Youth Workers in government departments, corporations and NGOs.
  • Youth Parliamentarian Committees.
  • Professionals responsible for policy formulation and strategy development in youth focused organizations.
Course Outline

Day 1
  • Youth policy Overview
  • Policy Definition - social/welfare policy - youth policy
  • Youth Policy
  • Nature, Objectives and Importance
  • Characteristics of youth policies
Day 2
  • The scope of youth policy
  • Policy planning and formulation
  • Policy impact and implementation
  • Analyzing Social Policy
  • Social policy in context
  • Government involvement in social policy
  • Grassroots policy development: another approach
Day 3
  • Youth policy principles
  • Youth policy and the wider policy environment
  • Elements of a successful youth policy
  • Policy success and failure
  • Measuring success or failure
  • Elements of a successful policy
Day 4
  • Frameworks in action
  • Key headings for a youth policy
  • Essential features of a youth policy
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of policies



          Refugees and Rebels Flee Syrian Conflict Areas as Government Troops Advance        

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

GWEN IFILL: Now to Syria, with two reports from inside Aleppo, as the nation’s largest city endures its tenth day of fierce battle between government troops and rebels.

The fighting there has centered in the southwestern neighborhood of Salahuddin. The United Nations reports that 200,000 of the city’s 2.5 million residents have already fled.

We begin with John Ray of Independent Television News.

JOHN RAY: The battle for these streets could yet decide fate of all Syria. So, rebels fight hard to retain a foothold at the heart of the city, while state TV shows Assad’s soldiers hunting them down.

If this scene looks slightly staged, in the past few days, we have witnessed the awesome reality of the regime’s firepower. On the outskirts of Aleppo, we come under a barrage of shell and rocket attacks, a bombardment that last several hours.

At dawn, thick smoke fills the air. And terrified, the few remaining residents are packing up to leave, joining an exodus the U.N. says is 200,000 strong.

The streets around me here are now almost entirely deserted, except for a few Free Syrian Army fighters. That’s a suburb of 30,000 people that has emptied out as the fighting has intensified in the city below. And about a kilometer from here, dug in, a detachment of Syrian army tanks.

Today, a fierce firefight said to be at a checkpoint to the north of the city, rebels claim victory here, looting weapons and ammunition, celebrating on top of a captured tank. The regime cannot afford to lose Aleppo. It says it’s purging Syria’s second city of terrorists. So much disputed, only one certainty: more bloodshed and more names to carve on gravestones, though, in this town, we’re told, the stone mason has already run for his life.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And to a second report from Aleppo.

Margaret Warner spoke to James Foley from our partner GlobalPost. They talked via Skype earlier today.

MARGARET WARNER: James Foley, thanks for speaking with us.

So what’s the state of the conflict right now between the rebels, who came in about 10 days ago, and the government forces now mounting this assault?

JAMES FOLEY, GlobalPost: We hear a lot about the battle for Aleppo as being one of the critical battles.

And it seems like the Syrian army is trying to really demoralize the rebels by using Syrian fighter jets. We saw MiG fighter jets yesterday swooping down, firing missiles and rockets, followed by of course helicopters that they have used for a while now. So this is a terrifying tactic.

They have also made tank probes into places like Salahuddin. A lot of activists speculate that the real battle hasn’t started yet, they’re just testing the area.

It would seem that, if Assad loses Aleppo, surely this is a huge blow for him, and he wouldn’t be able to tolerate that, Aleppo being the industrial capital.

MARGARET WARNER: Assad used to enjoy support from the business community in Aleppo. What can you tell about how the population feels now, where their sympathies lie?

JAMES FOLEY: We were here weeks before fighting broke out. And it was very interesting, because there’s wealthiest neighborhoods in Aleppo that look like Amman or Beirut untouched by fighting, untouched by protests, wealthier shops, and, of course, very nice homes.

And the question is, have these people gone, fled to Lebanon? Have they fled to Turkey? Or are they just staying in their houses for now to see what happens? There’s still power in these parts of the city. They’re not being shelled. And there are still army positions. The places that are shelled, as I said, are beginning to look like the worst war zones in Syria now.

MARGARET WARNER: Well, James Foley, thanks so much for doing this. And stay safe.

JAMES FOLEY: Thanks. I appreciate you guys.

GWEN IFILL: There was another high-level defection from the Syrian government today. The top diplomat in London said he would no longer represent the Assad regime.

The post Refugees and Rebels Flee Syrian Conflict Areas as Government Troops Advance appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

          Israel's cluster bombs continue to kill and maim in Lebanon        
Indiscriminate weapon used more by Israel than any other country since the early 1990s.
          Catholic, Lebanon Valley, 54-76        
Women's Basketball on Dec 17, 2014 at 6:00 PM: Catholic, Lebanon Valley, Final, 54-76
          Lebanon: Politics        
Unnatural Selection

by Brian Whitaker June 13, 2005 [The Guardian],7792,1505416,00.html

What happened, I sometimes wonder, to all those Lebanese flags? Earlier this year they were everywhere in Beirut; draped from balconies, fluttering from cars and motorbikes, and waved by demonstrators in their hundreds of thousands.

Perhaps they are stowed away now in cupboards and drawers as mementoes of an extraordinary time, but there are scarcely any to be seen.

Four months after the bomb that killed former prime minister Rafik Hariri and sparked the so-called Cedar Revolution that led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops, an air of normality has settled once again over Lebanon.

Beirut (at least for those with money to spend) is back to its hedonistic ways. The red-and-white posters proclaiming "Independence 05" have mostly gone and there are new ones on the walls promoting "IndepenDANCE" - an all-night rave featuring DJs from Britain and the US. Tickets range from $25 (£14) to $100.

Lebanon is now three-quarters of the way through its month-long parliamentary elections - the first in decades without the Syrians acting as ringmasters. This was supposed to be an historic occasion but already people are bored and disillusioned. They ask if anything has really changed.
It is clear now that the Cedar Revolution, whatever President Bush may have imagined, has not brought a brave new world in Lebanon. Its buzzwords - freedom, sovereignty, national unity, independence - were all directed against Syrian hegemony. In essence, it was an old-fashioned nationalist revolt.

Even so, this particular nationalist revolt was remarkable in several ways. For a start, its target was another Arab country, not a western power, and by the standards of the Arab world the mass demonstrations were unprecedented, both in their scale and their scope - which may yet inspire others elsewhere in the region.

Most remarkable of all, though, is that a nationalist revolt could happen in Lebanon. In comparison with many other countries, the Lebanese sense of nationhood has never been strong: in terms of identity, sect or faction tend to come first, and country second.

Before the anti-Syrian demonstrations started, national flags were rather less common than the flags and symbols of Hizbullah, Amal, the Lebanese Forces, etc.

When the protesters set up their tents in Martyrs' Square, however, that changed. Although each of the many parties involved had its own tent, a decision was made that no party symbols would be displayed. The only flags allowed were Lebanese flags, creating a sense of unity throughout the camp.

Among those astonished by the flag phenomenon was Turkish-born Timur Goksel, a former UN official who has worked in Lebanon for many years.

"Never once [before the demonstrations began] did I see a Lebanese flag hanging from a building," he said. "For the first time, people began feeling like they are Lebanese."

He continued: "At the start, half of them didn't know the words of the national anthem - you could see them mouthing - but now everyone knows the words."

This was not just on the anti-Syrian side. Hizbullah's demonstrators also waved Lebanese flags and sang the national anthem, though their nationalism was directed mainly against the United States and Israel, not Syria.

The unanswerable question, at present, is whether the sense of national identity generated during the demonstrations will survive now that the Syrian troops have gone.

Lebanon remains a deeply sectarian society, with 18 officially recognised religious categories and everyone obliged to belong to one of them. The president must be a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni, the speaker of parliament a Shia. Parliamentary seats are allocated in advance to the various sects, in agreed proportions.

This is what political scientists call a consociational system, and it can be found in various forms in countries where divisions run deep.

The aim is to protect ethnic or religious minorities by ensuring that no single faction can gain the upper hand - thus compelling the various groups to tolerate each other.

In theory this sounds very nice, and some people have suggested the Lebanese model would be a good solution for Iraq, but it is neither very democratic nor egalitarian. While protecting minorities, it also deprives them of some rights. Lebanon cannot have a Shia president or prime minister, even though the Shia are the largest religious minority and account for roughly 40% of the population.

This operates at other levels too, where people get posts not because they are best-qualified but because maintaining the religious balance requires the appointment of someone from a particular sect.

The problem in Lebanon is that confessionalism has very little to do with individual religious belief, or whether people actually practise the faith: which of the 18 categories you are registered with is basically an accident of birth.

It can also be argued that consociational politics does not really safeguard religious rights in Lebanon but instead prevents change by protecting vested interests. Religion has become a smokescreen for a baronial system where the sects are represented by a series of grand families who maintain their power through patronage and, when necessary, threats. Wealth and leadership pass from father to son, and no one can hold them accountable.

One exception to this is Hizbullah, whose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, does not come from a baronial family. But Hizbullah understands the patronage game too and plays it with a vengeance.

This helps to explain why so many people are dispirited by the parliamentary elections (or "selections", as some prefer to call them).

While the EU monitors go around dutifully checking that ballot boxes are properly sealed and voting cards are in order, everyone knows that the barons have already stitched it up among themselves, disrupted only by the maverick antics of Michel Aoun, the Christian ex-general who was peeved, on his return from exile, at not being welcomed into the club.

Of course, the Lebanese have talked of ending sectarianism for years. In 1989, as the civil war ended, the Taif accord stated that "abolishing political sectarianism is a fundamental national objective", but it has proved difficult to eradicate - not least because the barons benefit from it.

Again, there is talk of political reform once the elections are over. The talk, though, is mainly about the voting system and electoral boundaries, and this may simply allow some of the barons to consolidate their power at the expense of others in the light post-Syrian realities.

It's a fairly safe bet that whatever they change it will not make the barons, as a whole, more accountable. The real Cedar Revolution still looks a long way off.
          Lebanon Politics        
Michel Aoun comes home to roost

by Sami Moubayed [from Asia Times May 13, 2005]

DAMASCUS - Michel Aoun's return to Lebanon on May 7, after 15 years of exile, is yet to shake the political landscape of Lebanon. To some, it is a great victory, to others, a humiliation and a bitter reminder of civil war memories that many people have been working hard to forget.

Aoun returned to Lebanon on the offensive, hateful of everyone and everything that kept him in exile for so long, promising destruction of the existing order and sweet revenge. The Beirut he entered last week was very different from the war torn one he left behind in 1990. That Beirut did not have a Rafik Harrri hallmark on it. Yet, all the actors of Beirut 1990 are still there.

Former president Amin Gemayel, who appointed Aoun prime minister in 1988, upsetting tradition in Lebanon because Aoun was a Maronite, is still there. Patriarch Man Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, who worked for Aoun's downfall, is also still in religious office. Ex-prime minister Salim al-Hoss, who led a rivaling cabinet in 1989-1990, is there, and so is Samir Gagegea, who Aoun had viciously fought in the eastern districts of Beirut. The general who had been chief-of-staff and who had orchestrated Aoun's exodus from Baabda Palace, stands today in Baabda Palace, the legitimate and internationally recognized president of the Lebanese Republic.

At Beirut Airport, Aoun told the masses, most of whom were too young to remember the civil war, Lebanon will never be governed again by the "political feudalism" and "religious system that dates back to the 19th century". He called for an end to "old fashioned prototypes which represent the old bourgeoisie which persisted without questioning". Aoun has effectively promised to strike back at the entire political establishment of Lebanon. Will he succeed?

Before returning to Lebanon, Aoun promised a "tsunami" in Lebanese politics. Aoun's first encounter with the press and well-wishers at Beirut Airport was less than diplomatic. Annoyed at all the commotion, the ex-general barked at those welcoming him, claiming they were noisy. Once a military man, always a military man. Aoun was never a politician and never had direct contact with the Lebanese public. When people started seeing him as a national leader in 1989-1990, he was too busy with his war against Gagegea and Syria to engage in populist politics. The security situation in Lebanon also prevented him from doing that. He never staged rallies during his career in Lebanon, but rather, was always confined to the barracks, living the life of a professional soldier.

The average age of his supporters is 20, an age where young men and women are full of life, and easily enchanted by Aoun's fiery speeches, which he gave from his exile in France. A generation hungry for reform and hope, they supported Aoun as an exiled leader. Now that he has returned to Lebanon, and engaged himself once again in the dirty game of Arab politics, he might lose the aura he had created for himself as a "struggler" from 1990-2005. He also faces the difficulties of a wide generation gap between him and his supporters. Aoun is 70, while his supporters are in their early 20s. If he fails to live up to their expectations, this impatient generation could quickly abandon him and turn to younger, more attractive politicians.

Aoun has said he has his eyes set on the presidency, but by the next time presidential elections take place in Lebanon in 2007, Aoun will be 72. Also, Aoun needs to understand that unlike in the 1980s, the Maronites are no longer the de facto rulers of Lebanon - not because of Syria, but because demographics have changed in the Lebanese Republic. It is the Muslims (or more specifically the Shi'ites) who are the current majority in Lebanon, and any future deal should be cut with the Muslims. Aoun cannot spearhead opposition to traditional Muslim leaders, nor can he completely cozy up to them, in fear of losing support within his own Maronite constituency. While he was in exile, the Maronites created new leaders for themselves who even today would defeat Aoun in the most democratic of elections. The first name that comes to mind is Nasib Lahhoud, a moderate, seasoned, and highly respected Maronite politician. Also, so long as Aoun remains on bad terms with Sfeir, whom he promised to visit soon, he stands a slim chance of becoming the leader he strives to be, since Sfeir is still considered a principal figure and ultimate authority in Christian politics in Lebanon.

History of Michel Aoun

Aoun was born in 1935 into a poor family in Haret Hraik, a Shi'ite neighborhood that currently serves as a stronghold for Hezbollah, the Shi'ite resistance of Lebanon. It acquired this status in the 15-years of Aoun's absence in Paris, and upon his return to Beirut, one of the first questions fired at him by a journalist was whether he intended to visit his native neighborhood, which is swarming with Shi'ite warriors today, and meet with Hezbollah's Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah. He replied affirmatively.

The Haret Hraik that Aoun was born into in 1935 was a mixed Muslim-Christian suburb south of Beirut. Aoun attended Catholic schools, lived with a religious family, but declared years later that he "never differentiated between Ali and Peter, or between Hasan and Michel".

Aoun finished high school in 1955, during the heyday of Christian power in Lebanon under the regime of the Christian "king", president Kamil Sham'un. He enrolled at the Military Academy and graduated in 1958, while a Muslim uprising was raging in Lebanon against Sham'un. Aoun watched attentively as the Lebanese army, which he was entering, remained loyal to its president. When Aoun was 40, his country went to civil war, as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) of Yasser Arafat fought with the Muslims of Lebanon against the Maronite forces of Pierre Gemayel, who were backed by Syria. By the late 1970s, the Lebanese army had fractured along sectarian lines, yet Aoun, having learned from the 1958 experience, remained loyal to the central government. In the early 1980s, he became head of the "defense brigade" of the Lebanese army, a unit separating East and West Beirut. In 1982, he was involved in fighting against the Israeli army that occupied Beirut.

That same year, Aoun created the 8th brigade, which fought the Syrian army in the Souk al-Gharb pass overlooking Beirut. In June 1984, a reconciliation conference was held for all warring parties in Switzerland (brokered by former prime minister Rafiq al-Harriri). Army commander Ibrahim Tannous was fired and replaced by General Aoun. Aoun complied, but took no part in politics, giving no press interviews in 1984-1988. In September 1988, 15 minutes before the end of his term, president Amin Gemayel appointed Aoun prime minister, thereby breaching the National Pact of 1943, which said that a prime minister had to be a Muslim Sunni, whereas the president's office would be occupied exclusively by a Maronite Christian. Lebanon's Muslim prime minister, Salim al-Hoss, who had taken over after the assassination of prime minister Rashid Karameh, refused to step down, resulting in two Lebanese governments. Aoun's team reigned from Baabda Palace.

When he came to power, Aoun only controlled limited areas of East Beirut. To establish himself as a cross-confessional leader, Aoun began his war on the Lebanese Forces (LF), a Maronite militia headed by Gagegea. He ordered 15,000 of his troops into action and wrestled the port of Beirut from the LF. He shelled entire neighborhoods of East Beirut and infuriated the Christians of Lebanon, who to date, had kept East Beirut quiet and safe. Ghassan Tweini, publisher of the Beirut daily al-Nahhar, said in an interview years later that the Christians will not forgive Aoun for dropping bombs on their heads during what was labeled "the war of cancellation" within the Maronite community. On March 14, 1989, Aoun declared a "war of liberation" against Syria. This war was one of his bloodiest. He ignored the advice of the Arab League, destroyed what remained of West Beirut, and contributed to the exodus of over 1 million people from Beirut. He opened channels with Syria's archenemies, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and PLO chairman Arafat, both of whom supported him with no hesitation.

Aoun finally agreed to a cease-fire by the Arab League in September 1989, but refused to endorse the Taif Accord of Saudi Arabia (October 1989), claiming that it did not call for the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon. He was also opposed to the constitutional changes that emerged at Taif, which stated that the Muslim prime minister would be voted on by parliament and not appointed by the Maronite president. Support for Taif came from both Gagegea and Sfeir, who declared that Aoun's stance was illegal and unconstitutional. Around 100 of Aoun's supporters even invaded the Patriarchal See in Bkirki, physically assaulting Sfeir for his support of Taif. Sfeir complained that Aoun's army, stationed at the gates of Bkirki, had failed to protect him. Aoun's "rebellion" ended rapidly when in August 1990, his friend Saddam invaded Kuwait. The United States, eager to defeat the Iraqi dictator, wanted Arab support in Operation Desert Storm. It found no better way to achieve that than through an alliance with Syria for the liberation of Kuwait. Syria's late president Hafez al-Asad sent his army to the Arabian Desert, and in reward, the US gave him a green light to bring the saga of Michel Aoun to an end.

On the morning of October 13, 1990, the Syrian army launched a massive operation on Baabda Palace and areas of East Beirut controlled by General Aoun. The defeated general fled to the French Embassy in Beirut then moved to Paris when president Francois Mitterrand gave him political asylum. Syria established itself in Lebanon with firm power through Lebanon's new president Elias Hrawi, his prime minister Rafiq al-Harriri, and speaker Nabih Berri, all of whom came to power with the direct backing of Damascus. Meanwhile, a pro-Aoun movement emerged in Beirut, among high school and university students, called the Free Patriotic Movement, which he supported from his Paris-exile. In 2003, Aoun played a leading role in getting the US to pass the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act, which brought criminal charges against him in Beirut, where many described his alliance with Washington against Damascus as treason. During the early 1990s, it became common in certain Christian neighborhoods to read the phrase: "Aoun will return!"

Aoun has returned

Aoun has returned and finds a political arena fertile for activism. The first issue to erupt in everyone's face is the 2000 election law, which will govern parliamentary elections scheduled to take place for Lebanon's 128-seat chamber on four consecutive Sundays, starting on May 29. This law, drafted by General Ghazi Kenaan, who was Syria's intelligence supreme in Lebanon until 2002, places Christian districts within larger Muslim ones. Bsherri, for example, the birthplace of Gagegea and a strong base for his disbanded LF, is in the same district as Dinniyeh, which has a Muslim majority. With a Muslim majority, the Christians will have to rely on them for the victory of their candidates. Chairman of the Lebanese Socialist Progressive party and opposition leader Walid Jumblatt has allied himself with Sfeir, much to the displeasure of Aoun, and Saad al-Harriri, the political heir and son of Lebanon's slain former prime minister Rafiq al-Harriri. A meeting on Tuesday between Harriri Jr and Aoun raises fears of a Aoun-Harriri alliance in the upcoming elections, much to the displeasure of Jumblatt, who refuses to meet or work with Aoun. Christian opposition members are pressing for a new law with smaller constituencies but many are opposed to any change, fearing that a change would delay the elections, which Prime Minister Najib Mikati has promised to hold on time.

For his part, Aoun is delicately striking his election alliances with former archenemies and foes. Aoun received Strida Gagegea, the wife of arrested warlord Samir Gagegea, and promised to "turn a page on the past". Samir Gagegea, arrested in 1994, will be released from jail soon, but not before the elections take place, since it is in nobody's interest in Lebanon for him to enter the election race, after 11 years of arrest, and turn the tables on Aoun, Lahhoud, Jumblatt and practically everyone else.

More surprisingly, Aoun received Hezbollah representative Ali Ammar, who said that a high-profile meeting was soon to be held between Aoun and Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, since both men share a parallel vision on political reform. Both imposed themselves on Lebanese politics forcefully, and neither are members of the feudal notability of Lebanese politics that has been in power with no interruptions since the turn of the 20th century. Many fear an electoral alliance between Nasrallah and Aoun, which Ammar hinted at after his meeting with the ex-general. Aoun has also received another traditional foe, the Amal Movement, which is headed by the pro-Syrian Speaker of Parliament Berri.

Aoun has also allied himself with the pro-Syrian ex-minister of interior Sulayman Franjiyyieh, who visited him upon his return to Beirut and said that Aoun's team were "true Christians", claiming that rivalries in the past do not mean an alliance cannot be formed between them today. Aoun also allied himself with Emile Lahhoud Jr, the son of the president who is a deputy in parliament for the Maronite stronghold of al-Metn. An alliance with Lahhoud Jr would also mean an alliance with Lahhoud Jr's brother-in-law Elias al-Murr, another pro-Syrian former minister of interior. Traditionally, the Lahhouds and their in-laws, the Murrs, were the ones to gain the most from the 2000 election law, because due to their alliance with pro-Syrian Muslims, they also secured a majority in parliamentary elections. Today, both the Lahhouds and Murrs fear that Aoun's popularity in al-Metn would ruin their standing among Christian voters in the Maronite district. That is why the president said on Tuesday that the 2000 election law, which he had once relentlessly defended, "does not achieve equality among the Lebanese". If Aoun allies himself with other politicians in al-Metn, like ex-president Gemayel or Nasib Lahhoud, he can easily defeat the Lahhouds and the Murrs. This is why Lahhoud Jr, probably under the guidance of his father, hurried to work with Aoun, although Aoun has been the loudest critic of the Lahhoud regime since its creation in 1998, describing it as a Syrian-creation.

A defeat for Lahhoud in the upcoming elections would be a disaster for the Lebanese president, for he would run a high risk of being voted out of office if an anti-Syrian, or anti-Lahhoud parliament is elected. That is why the Lahhouds, who have been pro-Syria more than Syria itself, need Aoun today (more so than Syria) to survive in Lebanon. Another early-caller on Aoun was Druze leader Talal Arslan, who combats Jumblatt over leadership of the Druze community in Lebanon. He too offered to work with Aoun, to defeat Jumblatt in the Druze-Maronite district of Aley.

Jumblatt would also fear an alliance between Aoun and Hezbollah in Baabda. Jumblatt, fearing Aoun's influence in the elections, was highly critical of Aoun and called on Lahhoud to resign, wanting to get rid of both men. Aoun stood up for the Lebanese president, who he has repeatedly criticized, signaling that he might ally himself with Lahhoud, Syria, and Hezbollah, to defeat Jumblatt and the current leaders of the Lebanese opposition. Once rid of Jumblatt, and in the power struggle of Lebanon, he would turn his attention against Lahhoud, Syria, and Hezbollah. This is a complex and complicated game, even by the standards of Lebanon.


Sami Moubayed is a Syrian political analyst.

[Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing.]
          Frank G. La Selle & family, burials & obits        
looking for dates of death, places of burial, Obits on family of Frank Grosvenor La Selle, b. 3 May 1861 in Lebanon, Madison Co., NY, said to have died in Chappell on 11 Jun 1918. He & wife, Harriet, are named in 1940, Who's Who of son, Glenn; sons, Glenn & Grosvenor are on 1917 business list
          32 Rahsia Israel Yang Patut Kita Tahu        
1. Tahukah anda bahawa selain bangsa yahudi, tidak dibenarkan membeli atau menyewa tanah di Israel?

2. Tahukah anda bahawa setiap bangsa yahudi yang ada di setiap Negara di seluruh dunia menjadi warga Negara Israel secara automatik? Sementara warga Palestin yang lahir di tanah negerinya sendiri sejak puluhan abad yang lalu terus diusir ke luar dari Palestin?

3. Tahukah anda bahawa penduduk Palestin yang menetap di kawasan Israel harus menggunakan kenderaan yang dicat dengan warna khas untuk membezakan antara bangsa yahudi dan bukan yahudi?

4. Tahukah anda bahawa Jerusalem bahagian timur, Tebing Barat, Gaza dan dataran tinggi Golan dianggap oleh masyarakat antarabangsa khususnya barat dan Amerika sebagai kawasan yang dijajah Israel dan bukan merupakan sebahagian daripada Israel?

5. Tahukah anda bahawa Israel memperuntukkan 85% air bersih hanya untuk bangsa Yahudi dan membahagikan 15% sisanya untuk seluruh penduduk Palestin yang menetap di kawasan Israel? Secara realiti, Israel memperuntukkan 85% air bersih hanya untuk 400 penduduk yahudi di Hebron, sementara 15% sisanya diberikan kepada 120 ribu penduduk Palestin di daerah itu?

6. Tahukah anda bahawa Amerika menyalurkan dana 5 billion US dari penghasilan hutangnya setiap tahunnya untuk menyumbang kepada Israel?

7. Tahukah anda bahawa Amerika terus memberikan bantuan ketenteraan kepada Israel sebesar 1,8 billion US setiap tahun? Dan tahukah anda bahawa jumlah sebesar itu sama dengan sumbangan Amerika kepada seluruh Negara di benua-benua Afrika?

8. Tahukah anda bahawa Israel juga menunggu bantuan perang tambahan sebesar 4 billion US dari Amerika yang terdiri dari pesawat pejuang F16, Apache dan Blackhawk? Dan kerana Amerika merupakan Negara gabungan utama bagi Israel, maka ia wajib memberikan semua kemudahan yang diminta Israel untuk menjamin kewujudannya.

9. Tahukah anda bahawa kerajaan Amerika telah menekan Kongres tentang pelanggaran Israel dalam penggunaan senjata yang mereka sumbangkan? Khususnya pada tahun 1978, 1979 dan tahun 1982 pada perang di Lubnan dan penggunaan senjata nuklear pada tahun 1981.

10. Tahukah anda bahawa Israel adalah satu-satunya Negara di Timur Tengah yang menolak menandatangani larangan pembangunan senjata nuklear? Dan menolak Pasukan Siasatan PBB untuk memeriksa tempat persembunyian nuklearnya?

11. Tahukah anda bahawa sebelum Israel wujud pada tahun 1948, mereka telah memiliki kilang pengembangan senjata nuklear?

12. Tahukah anda bahawa Pegawai Tinggi Israel di Jabatan Tentera mereka mengakui secara terang-terangan bahawa tentera Israel membunuh semua tahanan perang Palestin tanpa proses pengadilan?

13. Tahukah anda bahawa Israel telah menyerang tempat kediaman Diplomat Amerika dan menyerang kapal perang Amerika Liberty di perairan antarabangsa pada tahun 1967? Walaupun serangan itu membunuh 33 tentara Amerika dan melukai 177 lainnya, tetapi Amerika sama sekali tidak melakukan sebarang tindakan terhadap Israel? Hanya dengan alasan bahawa tentera Israel tersalah sasaran? Bayangkan kalau serangan itu dilakukan oleh Negara Islam?

14. Tahukah anda bahawa Israel merupakan Negara yang paling banyak mengabaikan resolusi negara PBB? Jumlah resolusi yang diabaikan oleh Israel mencapai 69 buah. Bayangkan seandainya satu Negara Islam mengabaikan 1 resolusi PBB, apa yang akan dilakukan oleh Amerika?

15. Tahukah anda bahawa pemerintah Israel menggunakan system politik pemeliharaan terhadap identiti rakyat yahudi agar tetap menjadi warga Negara itu?

16. Tahukah anda bahawa Mahkamah Agung Israel telah menetapkan Perdana Menteri Ariel Sharon sebagai terkecuali dalam kes pembunuhan Shabra dan Syatilla pada

16 September 1982 di Lebanon yang telah membunuh lebih dari 1000 orang Palestin terdiri dari anak-anak, wanita dan orang tua?

17. Tahukah anda bahawa pada tarikh 20 Mei 1990, seorang tentera Israel menyuruh para pekerja Palestin yang sedang menunggu bus di Halte untuk duduk berbaris di atas tanah, setelah itu ia menembak mereka dari jarah setengah meter? Tahu pulakah anda bahawa pemerintah Israel menyatakan tentera itu tidak bersalah dan bahkan mendapat penghargaan khusus dari pemerintah Israel?

18. Adakah anda tahu bahawa sehingga tahun 1988, semua kilang dan pejabat di Israel hanya boleh melampirkan keterangan pekerjaan dengan kata-kata: “pekerjaan hanya untuk bangsaYahudi”, ” pekerja hanya boleh dipilih dengan syarat dia berbangsa Yahudi”?

19. Tahukah anda bahawa Jabatan Luar Negeri Israel membayar 6 jabatan media Amerika untuk menerbitkan imej positif Israel kepada masyarakat Amerika dan Eropah?

20. Tahukah anda bahawa Sharon mengajak Parti radikal Molodeit untuk menjadi gabungan utama dalam kabinetnya? Padahal parti itu beridealogi radikal dengan tujuan untuk membesihkan Israel dari luar kawasan yahudi dan pengusiran secara paksa seluruh warga Palestin dari Israel?

21. Tahukah anda bahawa Perdana Menteri Israel pertama, David Ben-Gorion sepakat dengan langkah pengusiran secara paksa seluruh rakyat arab dari Israel?

22. Tahukah anda bahawa Rahib besar di Israel Ofadya Yosef yang juga pengasas Parti Syas (parti ketiga terbesar di Israel) menyokong aksi tentera Israel untuk membunuh warga Palestin?bahkan ia mengeluarkan fatwa radikal pada hari raya paskah yang lalu dalam wawancaranya di sebuah rangkaian radio terbesar di Israel: “Tuhan akan membalas semua kejahatan warga arab, Tuhan akan menghancurkan keturunannya, menghabiskannya dan menghancurkan tanahnya dan Tuhan akan membalas mereka dengan azab yang pedih. Oleh itu dilarang semua bangsa yahudi untuk memberikan rasa kasih sayang kepada warga arab, dan wajib bagi setiap yahudi untuk menembak mereka dan senjatanya hendaklah dihalakan ke arah dada dan kepala setiap warga arab untuk menghabiskannya, kerana mereka itu makhluk yang jahat dan terkutuk “…

23. Tahukah anda bahawa pelarian Palestin terbesar di dunia?

24. Tahukah anda bahawa penduduk Kristian Palestin bersatu dengan penduduk Palestin muslim untuk melawan penjajah yahudi?

25. Tahukah anda, walaupun Mahkamah Agong Israel sudah mengeluarkan keputusan pelarangan penyeksaan dalam proses pemeriksaan, tetapi Shinbet (Badan perisik Israel) tetap terus menyeksa setiap pejuang Palestin dalam proses pemeriksaannya?

26. Tahukah anda bahawa walaupun Israel terus mengganggu proses belajar mengajar dan merosakkan seluruh prasarana pendidikan penduduk Palestin, tetapi penduduk Palestin tetap menjadi Negara terbesar di dunia yang penduduknya bergelar doktor falsafah. Hal ini dilihat dari jumlah purata penduduknya.

27. Tahukah anda bahawa setiap manusia mempunyai hak yang sama yang dijamin oleh undang-undang HAM antarabangsa yang diterbitkan pada tarikh 10 Disember 1948? Tetapi tahukah anda bahawa undang-undang itu sama sekali tidak berlaku bagi penduduk Palestin? kerana dihalang dengan ditandatangani oleh perikatan OSLO?

28. Tahukah anda bahawa majoriti buku sejarah di dunia mengatakan Negara-negara arab yang menyerang Israel terlebih dahulu pada perang tahun 1967? Padahal faktanya, Israel yang menyerang Negara-negara arab terlebih dahulu kemudian mereka merebut kota Al Quds dan Tebing Barat? Tetapi mereka mengatakan bahawa serangannya itu adalah serangan untuk menjaga diri mereka?

29. Tahukah anda bahawa Israel sebagai Negara penjajah sama sekali tidak terikat dengan konvension Geneva untuk menjaga hak-hak dan keselamatan warga awam Palestin?

30. Tahukah anda bahawa perintah Perdana Menteri Israel Ariel Sharon sudah tidak dituruti lagi oleh tentera Israel? Salah satu contohnya adalah ketika ia melarang tentera Israel untuk melakukan genjatan senjata dan dilarang menembak, tetapi tentera Israel terus menyerang, menembak rakyat awam Palestin dan menghancurkan tempat tinggal mereka. Insiden paling memilukan andalah pembunuhan tiga wanita Palestin, padahal mereka sedang berada dalam khemah pelariannya?

31. Tahukah anda bahawa Israel terus melakukan pebagai usaha untuk menghancurkan Masjid Al-Aqsa dan Qubah As-Sakhrah sejak 50 tahun yang lalu dengan menggali bawah tanah masjid tersebut agar runtuh dengan sendirinya?

32. Tahukah anda bahawa Presiden Afrika Selatan Nelson Mandela mengatakan bahawa Israel adalah Negara rasisme dan apartheid seperti keadaan Afrika Selatan sebelum beliau memerintah?

Israel sememangnye jahat dan teruk

(Tulisan ini diambil dari satu post dalam emel saya. Semoga perkongsian ini bermanfaat.)

          Smoking Chimp Rescued from Zoo        
A chimpanzee trained to smoke cigarettes has been rescued from a zoo in Lebanon and is being sent to a sanctuary in Brazil.The c
          Birthday Facts About April 18, 2004 You Need To Know        
April 18, 2004 clever birthday facts no one tells you about. Get Apr 18 epic list of celebrity and famous birthdays, #1 song, horoscope and FREE gift. What day was my birthday Apr 18, 2004? April 18, 2004 was a Sunday and it was the 109th day of the year 2004. The next time you can reuse your old 2004 calendar will be in 2032. Both calendars will be exactly the same! This is assuming you are not interested in the dates for Easter and other irregular holidays that are based on a lunisolar calendar. How many days until my next birthday? There are 251 days left before your next birthday. You will be 14 years old when that day comes. There have been 4,862 days from the day you were born up to today. Since night and day always follow each other, there were exactly 165 full moons after you were born up to this day. How many of them did you see? The next full moon that you can see will be on September 6 at 07:04:00 GMT – Wednesday. What happened on my birthday – Apr 18? These were the events that made history that coincide with your birthday. 796 King Æthelred I of Northumbria is murdered in Corbridge by a group led by his ealdormen, Ealdred and Wada. The patrician Osbald is placed on the throne, but is within 27 days abdicated. 1880 An F4 tornado strikes Marshfield, Missouri, killing 99 people and injuring 100. 1902 Quetzaltenango, the second largest city of Guatemala, is destroyed by an earthquake. 1930 BBC reported there was no news, then played out with piano music. 1936 The first Champions Day is celebrated in Detroit, Michigan. 1942 Pierre Laval becomes Prime Minister of Vichy France. 1945 Over 1,000 bombers attack the small island of Heligoland, Germany. 1980 The Republic of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) comes into being, with Canaan Banana as the country’s first President. The Zimbabwean dollar replaces the Rhodesian dollar as the official currency. 1996 In Lebanon, at least 106 civilians are killed when the Israel Defense Forces shell the United Nations compound at Quana where more than 800 civilians had taken refuge. 2007 A series of bombings, two of them being suicides, occur in Baghdad, killing 198 and injuring 251.
          United Kingdom to lift electronics ban on Turkey flights        

Ankara: The UK will lift restrictions on large electronic devices being carried as cabin luggage on direct flights from Turkey, officials said here on Thursday.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told state-run Anadolu news agency that British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson had phoned his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu over the issue.

The source said Johnson told Cavusoglu the UK authorities had decided to lift the ban, adding that the process to lift the restrictions was ongoing.

A ban on carrying such devices aboard US-bound passenger aircraft was ended for Turkish Airlines flights from Istanbul earlier this month.

The US had banned devices from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries while the UK had banned them on all direct flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia in March.

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          A Fan of WSJ's Mackubin Thomas Owens        
The Wall Street Journal's Mackubin Thomas Owens has been inpressing me for quite some time now.  He is  a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, editor of Orbis, the quarterly journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and author of "US Civil-Military Relations After 9/11: Renegotiating the Civil-Military Bargain" (Continuum, 2011).

He writes quite fluently with his military topics and is "top on" with his audience.  Here is a copy of what he worte on May 2, 2011:

Why We Still Need the Marines

Their unique combination of sea, land and air capabilities makes them an indispensable rapid response force.

In Washington these days, the Defense Department is looking to cut its budget and the Marine Corps especially is reviewing its future role. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has spoken of "anxiety" that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned the Corps into a "second land army," and he has cancelled major Marine weapons systems, such as the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. No institution is sacrosanct, so it's worth asking: Why should we maintain the Marine Corps in the future?

The utility of any institution must be balanced against the opportunity cost of maintaining it. In arguing against maintaining a Marine Corps in the future, one must prove either that what the Marines do isn't necessary, or that it is necessary but that another organization can do it more efficiently and effectively.

In 1954, the political scientist Samuel Huntington argued that each service was built around a "strategic concept"-"the fundamental element of [a] service . . . its role or purpose in implementing national policy." A service's strategic concept answers the "ultimate question: What function do you perform which obligates society to assume responsibility for your maintenance?"

The current Marine Corps strategic concept envisions an expeditionary force in readiness capable of responding rapidly to the full range of crises and contingencies, primarily but not exclusively from the sea, with integrated and balanced air, ground and logistics teams. To this end, the Marines provide a responsive and scalable "middleweight" force that is light enough to get to where it is needed quickly but heavy enough-and with sufficient logistics support-to prevail against an adversary upon arrival.

Due to the proliferation of high-tech defensive weapons, the most controversial element of the Marines' strategic concept are amphibious assaults against defended littorals. What most people envision when they think of an amphibious assault is a World War II scenario with landing craft churning toward a defended beach. But today's amphibious assaults seek to avoid the strength of the enemy's defenses, exploiting seams and gaps in those defenses in order to achieve surprise.

For example, in October 2001, Naval Task Force 58-commanded by then-Brig. Gen. James Mattis, who is now commander of U.S. Central Command-conducted an amphibious assault to seize the airfield at Kandahar, Afghanistan. Gen. Mattis's force of two infantry battalions, along with fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and logistics support, thrust 450 nautical miles from ships off the coast of Pakistan to Kandahar in only 48 hours.

In addition to conducting amphibious operations and providing forces for two wars, over the past decade the Marines have also been engaged in the Caucasus, Africa, the Pacific and Latin America. They have provided training and support for friends and allies and have responded to numerous crises: noncombatant evacuation operations in Liberia (2005) and Lebanon (2006), as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Indonesia, the U.S. Gulf region (2005), Haiti (2008 and 2009), Pakistan (2010) and Japan (2011).

Marines routinely split amphibious ready groups into smaller packages to provide a variety of capabilities over a wider geographic area, reassembling to conduct larger operations. Marine assets are currently involved in aircraft-recovery operations in support of NATO forces in Libya.

So it would seem that what the Marines do is of value to the United States. But could another service do what the Marines do? The answer, of course, is yes. But the opportunity cost would be very high.

All of the U.S. military services are carrying out missions in support of their own strategic concepts. Asking another service to do what the Marines do risks crowding out what they already do. Each of the other services operates primarily in one "domain": the Army on land, the Navy on water, and the Air Force in air and space. The Marines operate in a "lane" that intersects all three domains. In that lane, the Marines possess what economists would call comparative advantage.

What about the charge that the Marines have become a second land army in Iraq and Afghanistan? As the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Joseph Dunford, recently remarked, the Marines have no reason to apologize for sustained operations ashore.

Such operations, he observed, are part of the basic "sticker price" of the Marines: the requirement to carry out missions as directed by the president, an obligation Marines have met in Korea and Vietnam as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, an important part of Marine Corps tradition has been to prepare to fight the kind of small-unit wars we have confronted over the past decade.

The Marines are an expeditionary force with a maritime soul. Of course, the current security environment requires all services to become more expeditionary than was the case during the Cold War. But as former Marine Commandant Gen. Carl Mundy was fond of saying, "'Expeditionary' is not a mission. It's a mindset." The Marines have developed this expeditionary mindset over decades, and it is something that will serve the nation well in the future.


          Collectors Contest Lawless Seizure        
The art law firm of Pearlstein, McCullough & Lederman LLP has brought an action to contest the seizure of an artifact on loan to the Met.  The New York Times has covered the seizure here.   Lost on the Times, however, is the concern that the NY District Attorney has lawlessly used a search warrant to seize and repatriate an artifact purchased in good faith.  

The lawyers for the collectors describe their action to quite title as follows.  

Beierwaltes v. Directorate General of Antiquities of the Lebanese Republic and the District Attorney of New York County is an important test case for the art market in general and the antiquities market in particular.

Our clients, Bill and Lynda Beierwaltes, bought an Archaic Greek marble Bull’s Head in 1996 from a London dealer who made representations about its provenance. In 2006, the Bull’s Head was exhibited publicly in Paris at a major art fair and published in a dealer’s catalogue. In 2016 the Bull’s Head was loaned to and exhibited by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. From excavation records published in Switzerland in 2005, the Museum concluded that the Bull’s Head was excavated at the Temple of Eshmun in Lebanon in the 1960s.

After Lebanon demanded restitution, the Beierwaltes filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking declaratory judgment to clear title to the Bull’s Head. Although the Department of Justice declined to pursue a claim for civil forfeiture, the District Attorney of New York County seized the Bull’s Head pursuant to a search warrant and is now seeking to turn the Bull’s Head over to Lebanon. We thereafter amended our complaint to include DANY as a defendant in the federal case.

The twin actions present a number of issues that have not previously been resolved.

First, we believe that DANY’s position is ill-founded and that New York law does not provide for in rem forfeiture. DANY disagrees and believes that it can first seize and then turn over property in the absence of a criminal case.

Second, the relationship between the Beierwaltes’ suit in federal court for declaratory judgment and DANY’s procedure in New York state court for turnover is unclear. Which decision governs if the Beierwaltes prevail in federal court and DANY prevails in state court?

Third, we believe that the Beierwaltes’ title claim is meritorious: even if the Bull’s Head was stolen from Lebanon, the statute of limitations under Lebanese law has expired; Lebanon has no claim under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act; there are no grounds for seizure under federal law; and New York state law supports the Beierwaltes’ claim on several grounds, including statute of limitations and laches.

The Beierwaltes are bona fide purchasers with clean hands. By contrast, for more than 50 years, Lebanon has failed take any action domestically or internationally to report any theft of the Bull’s Head, file a claim for its return or list the Bull’s Head on any publicly-accessible, international database of stolen art.

Under these circumstances, DANY’s focus on restituting the Bull’s Head to Lebanon based solely on theft would be contrary to U.S. law and policy and New York civil law. It remains to be seen whether DANY’s expansive interpretation of New York’s search and seizure law will prevail

          arabic lebanon girl showing perfect tits on webcam seen on TeensBating        

          Syria: Refugees and Rebels by Russell Chapman        
Syria: Refugees and Rebels by Russell Chapman

I went to Syria in the spring of 2013 as well as refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Since then, the violence has become even worse. Below is an excerpt from the introduction to the book “Syria: Refugees and Rebels”, which is an account of my experience and focuses very much on telling the human […]

The post Syria: Refugees and Rebels by Russell Chapman appeared first on FOTO8.

          Prisoner Settles for $10,000 in Personal Injury Suit        
A prisoner at Lebanon Correctional Institute settled his personal injury lawsuit with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) and Office of Risk Management for $10,000.
          A Different Kind of War: The Day Dalal Mughrabi and Gail Rubin Died        
The first hours of March 11, 1978 were unusually stormy off the South Lebanon coast. Into the teeth of the foul weather, 13 Palestinians launched a small vessel in the dark waters near Sidon. Several miles from shore, they transferred...
          Let the lights shine, hopefully for 24 hours a day (as needed)        

Growing up in war-torn Beirut, I experienced the Lebanese Civil War from a childlike perspective. I was in middle school at the time when a power outage lingered for months on end. Reviewing textbooks and doing homework at night was no easy task. The flickers of candlelight reflecting on the glossy pages of my textbook made reading very laborious—not to mention how it compromised my safety and shrank my attention span. I was 12 years old at the time. Today, I am 34. It has been 23 years since the war ended and power shortage in Lebanon remains.  
In the aftermath of the civil war, there was a national consensus to privatize and decentralize the power sector in Lebanon. Decentralization would shift control from the ministerial level to distinct municipalities across the country. Privatization in particular would help the power grid expand to meet the growing demands of population increase. Both moves would involve inflows of foreign direct investment, and open up competition, and create more jobs. However, political disagreements erupted around the intricacies of privatization policies and decrees and any further attempt to privatize or decentralize has floundered.
Today, Electricite du Liban (EDL), a state-owned enterprise run by the Ministry of Energy and Water controls 90 percent of power generators, transmission, and distribution services in the country. A surge of demand after the civil war has pushed EDL to further expand the power grid.

          Philadelphia Recording Schools        
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is an important facet in American history and is home to the beginnings of so many things that are essential to this country. This holds true to Philadelphia recording schools, which has carried on the city's illustrious heritage and weighty accomplishments. Providing an excellent and well rounded education, the colleges, junior colleges and universities use the most modern of methods of recording and producing music, radio and television.

Philadelphia is the biggest metropolis in Pennsylvania and the sixth largest city in the US. This "City of Brotherly Love" is also rich in historical highlights: the birthplace of the American Revolution, the place of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and a former capital of the country. Indeed, living and learning in this wonderful city is more than a treat.

Within the greater Philadelphia area, Philadelphia recording schools are numerous. The LaSalle University, is perfect for students who like to specialize in audio and visual recording. Their school of Digital Arts and Multimedia Design sits in a 130 acre park-like setting which is 6 miles from downtown Philly. With more than 7,000 students, the body of undergraduates is diverse, as are the courses. There will always be preparation for work as sound producers or engineers in LaSalle University, regardless of where your passion lies: analog or digital production, recording vocals or music, surround sound, or amplification. Their mantra "Never Stop Exploring" is the perfect quote for those interested in pursuing the excitement of the radio industry.

When discussing Philadelphia recording schools, we would be amiss if we left out The Community College of Philadelphia. Your path to possibilities, this school offers over 70 associate's degrees, certifications as well as continuing education programs. Its associate degree in Recording Art Technology teaches students regarding the history of recording, audio technology, audio aesthetics, electronics, and audio equipment operation, to name a few. Products from this school have gone on to become sound effects engineers, producers, sound designers, special effects editors and many other innovative fields of the recording industry.

Besides the two schools mentioned above, you still have Pennsylvania State University, Lehigh University as well as Lebanon College on the list. All of these Philadelphia recording schools operate in a single premise, that is, to incorporate classroom instruction into mentoring programs in order to provide its students with the best possible education available to them.
          The King Solomon Temple in Jerusalem        
Though it appears that the People of Israel have always been at odds with their northern neighbor, history notes periods when relations between the two were not only amiable, but very lucrative as well.

Both biblical and other accounts relate to periods in both countries' historical pasts when Lebanon, known then as the Kingdom of Phoenicia (or Tyre), and Israel engaged in trading and other forms of mutual cooperation. This was especially so during the long reign of perhaps Israel's must successful monarch, King Solomon, son of David.

In fact, this period of mutual cooperation was so strong that King Solomon, upon directive from God to build the Temple in Jerusalem, enlisted the assistance of King Hiram of Tyre to provide both materials and skilled craftsmen to construct this stately edifice. Solomon, who desired to build a permanent 'House' for the Ark of the Covenant, and its most noted contents, The Ten Commandments that Moses received from God on Mt. Sinai, asked Hiram to bring his chief craftsmen, who together with Israel's Master Builder, Hiram Abif (from the Tribe of Naphtali) would construct the Temple as The Lord commanded of King Solomon: "He will build me a House, and I will establish his (Solomon's) throne forever"

The craftsmen, who carried out this feat, are reputed to be origins of the fraternal order known today as the Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons, known most commonly as the 'Freemasons'. The most intricate and Holy process of constructing the Temple, in which no metal tools were allowed for the actual assembling of the Temple walls and fixtures (metal, being a symbol of warfare, was thus expressly taboo), certain symbols and objects were incorporated into the craftsmen's labors, which have been carried down in Masonry to this day.

Much material used in the Temple's ornate internal construction came from large trunks of cedar trees, one of Lebanon's most famous products; which were floated whole from The Port of Tyre to Jaffa, and then carried overland to Jerusalem; no small feat in those days. The cedar logs were then cut into planks, outside of Jerusalem (where use of metal tools were permitted) and then assembled with wooden dowels to form the 'inner chambers' of the Temple.

Even King Solomon's father, King David, lived in a "House of Cedar"; also reputed to have been brought to Jerusalem from Tyre.

The well known "Seal of Solomon", a pentagram formed by the combining of two pyramids into a six pointed star, now the recognized symbol of the Jewish People and the State of Israel, comes from an original Masonic symbol which is known as "The Square" by freemasons, in which either the Hebrew letter Youd, or the English letter G is placed to refer to The Creator or Great Architect, from whence all things have come. 

          A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East        
A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
author: David Fromkin
name: Mark
average rating: 4.15
book published: 1989
rating: 5
read at: 2016/02/05
date added: 2016/02/05
A Peace to End All Peace
Author: David Fromkin
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Published In: New York City
Date: 1989
Pgs: 635


The Middle East, long a battleground of religions, ideologies, nationalism, and dynasty, her history comes alive here. This history concerns itself with the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire and how it arrived at that point. How the secret agreements of the WW1 Allies impacted the peoples and the future of the region. The reasons, ambitions, and greed that drove the Allies to make the decisions that they made. And their ultimate failure to understand what they were dealing with in the peoples of the Middle East. The same mistake made today by policymakers in seeing the world of the Middle East as a single mass instead of the polyglot of ethnicities that exists there. This is a Middle East before the Petroleum Age. A time when allegiance was still possible between Arab and Zionism. A time before the founding of Israel. A time before the arbitrary drawing of lines on a map and lumping ethnicities together whose only history together was enmity and a share of the Ottoman yoke. This book follows the narrowing of paths and circumstances that lead the region toward the endless wars and escalating acts of terrorism that continue to plague the region to this day.


Why this book:
Always been fascinated by the Ottoman Empire and the Arab world.

The telling of Ottoman and Middle East history is well paced.

Hmm Moments:
The man who coined the term The Great Game in Asia to explain the competition between England and Russia for dominance and hegemony in Asia ended up beheaded by an Uzbek emir.

I had read the stories about the veneer that was Ottoman control of their empire; dominated by outside powers, Britain, Russia, Germany; barely ruling their subjects to the degree that estimates say the government only collected 5% of their taxes some years, the remainder collected by “tax farmers”. Effective national leadership elluded the Turks at the center of the Ottoman Empire. Reading the makeup of the Empire makes me wonder what could have been if they had hit upon a federal system that gave power to the ethnic minorities and the regions in a national assembly. What would the modern Middle East look like today? Would Europe have let that flower flourish or would they have yanked it out by its root and then split it up any which way they wanted to as they did in our world. In some cases putting tribes and ethnicities under a single national tent that were immemorial enemies. There was a Turkish Parliament, but it was disbanded by the Sultan Abdul Hamid during his reign(1876-1909). The Parliament’s makeup did not reflect the rank and file of Ottoman life.

The Anti-Semitism of the British embassy and it’s colorful reports to London impacted the British attitudes and actions in the Ottoman Empire for many years to come. Instead of seeing the rise of the Young Turks in the light of enlightenment, they saw it instead cloaked in Jewish adventurism, Latin intrigue, French fervor, and the conspiracy of the freemasons.

And when the Young Turks took control, Britain replaced its ambassador. Although this time instead of being fed a diet of Anti-Semitism, they were given rosey reports full of optimism that was misleading as well. The British Foreign Office was fed on the propagandic beliefs of their men on the spot time and again.

The Young Turks threw away their chance for true federalism by excluding all non-Turks and only allowing a fraction of the Parliament seats to be filled by Arabs. Of the 22 recognized ethnic groups in the Ottoman Empire, only Turks and Arabs held seats; 150 seats were held by Turks, 60 by Arabs. None of the inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire identified as Ottoman, an opportunity that the Young Turks blew when they moved to insure the dominance of the Turks within the government. The text also refers to Turkey as not being the homeland of the Turks. Turkestan in the steppes of Central Asia being divided between Russia and China, giving both of them a claim to the leadership of all Turkish speaking peoples, of whom many weren’t of Turkish origin.

Churchill being described as “just losing the adolescence from his face” at the age of thirty-nine when he sought to transition from Home Secretary to First Lord of the Admiralty. Perfect example of the Harumphers holding onto power as the generational change comes to politics, a changing of the guard moment in politics that hits all systems eventually.

Where Woodrow Wilson high ideals clashed with the political realities in Europe, Asia, and America, he doesn’t come off looking so well. He was a President with razor thin margins allowing him to govern on sufferance by his enemies and occasional “friends”. He made America party to the Allies with the public proviso that there would be no secret quid pro quo on the postwar distribution of the spoils, even though he knew such agreements existed. The fall of Russia to the Communists lead to those secret agreements being disgorged into the press. He is attributed an off-the-record quote while aboard ship on his way to the World War One peace conference in 1919: “I am convinced that if this peace is not made on the highest principles of justice, it will b swept away by the peoples of the world in less than a generation. If it is any other sort of peace then I shall want to run away and hide...for there will follow not mere conflict but cataclysm.” Despite his prescience here, he failed to gather a working group to help plan the American stance on the post-war world that had any “real” connection to the world. He filled The Inquiry Group with academicians and a lot of brother-in-law syndrome as opposed to real world strategists with on-the-ground knowledge of what they were dealing with when looking at the Middle East and the actual circumstances within the Ottoman Empire that they were suggesting the dissolution and dismemberment of. This left America and the President with a program that was vague and bound to arouse millennial expectations which once in the hands of politicians would make it virtually certain to disappoint.

I had always accepted the history book version of the American Congress being the rock on which Wilson’s Fourteen Points foundered. Reading this book and seeing the plethora of behind the back, secret agreements that Britain made, sometimes contradictory, with enemies and allies makes one see that the political Britain of that era wasn’t trustworthy in the least sense. She was very much in the business of empire while espousing freedom as a balm for the sting of protectoratism and/or outright domination. They spent much of that era making secret diplomatic agreements and then throwing them away as circumstances showed them a more advantageous prospect.

Fromkin’s characterization of Woodrow Wilson makes me wonder if the President was so naive as to let himself be lead around by the nose by Lloyd George or if he was playing the “aw shucks, I’m just an American in Paris” to give him the position to negotiate the best treaty that he could in the areas of most interest to him. I believe that Wilson wanted this to have been the last war, the last meatgrinder that America ever had to feed her children to for the rest of the world’s peace. I wonder at how sad he would be today that his efforts came to so little when you look at the bloodshed of the 20th century and the way we have kicked off the 21st.

The Domino Theory existed long before it appeared in American foreign policy. The theory was put forth by British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon as early as 1919 though still about the Bolsheviks. The British in the immediate post World War era in the Middle East were facing a number of revolts and revolutions in both their recently acquired possessions and those of long standing: troubles were arousing in Egypt, Afghanistan, Arabia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Persia. Some maybe, possibly could be lain at the feet of the Soviets, but a healthy bit of it is the fault of the British for failing to understand the situation on the ground in each of those countries and provinces, up to and including the British departments of government working at odds with each other, ie: like they did in Arabia where one department was supporting Hussein in the Hejaz with money and material while another was supporting Ibn Saud with same.

The revolts across Central Asia lead to an Emir retaking his family’s traditional power and position. He brought back the Dark Ages in a big way. He reopened a 12th century tower, the Kalyan Minaret, which was the Tower of Death. Condemned criminals were tossed from teh top of the tower to their deaths, though law and order and the way the government was run under him was at his decree. When faced with a choice between that, the Red Army, or Enver Pasha, the Ottoman Young Turk exile, who had been sent there by Russia to quell and pacify the locals ahead of the Red Army, but went over to the Emir to “help” him unify the Turks and throw off the yoke of the Russians. Pasha was only interested in his own power however and ended up drawing more and more power to himself before he found himself at odds with both the Emir and the Russians.

Last Page Sound:
The fall of the Ottoman Empire, the rise of Turkey; The rise, fall, rise, fall, and rise of Winston Churchill; From lines on a map to nationalism in the Middle East. Good stuff.

Author Assessment:
Absolutely read more by this author.

Editorial Assessment:
Was some repetitiveness chapter to chapter, but overall great stuff.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
instant classic

Dewey Decimal System:

Would recommend to:
genre fans


          This Week: Hezbollah Attack, ISIS Rollback, and Jordan Hostage Standoff        

          Profile of the Day: Benedict Cumberbatch        
Happy birthday, Benedict Cumberbatch! Today the Sherlock star turns 41. Cumberbatch was born on July 19, 1976 in London, England to Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, both well-known television actors. His paternal grandfather, Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, was a submarine officer in the British Royal Navy in both World Wars. His great grandfather, Henry Arnold Cumberbatch, was a British diplomate and served as Queen Victoria’s consul in Turkey, Lebanon, and Romania. The actor launched to stardom as Sherlock Holmes in the... Read the full story
          Belgium pursues justice without borders         

Justice may be blind, but her reach is getting longer.

When a panel of Belgian jurors convicted four Rwandans of participating in the 1994 genocide in their country, they pioneered a new brand of "universal justice" that knows no borders.

The verdict, handed down early Friday morning after 11 hours of deliberation in the gloomy granite Palace of Justice in Brussels, marked the first time that a civilian jury - not a judge - in one country had judged crimes against humanity committed elsewhere.

"Every citizen of the world is concerned by a crime against humanity," said Michele Hirsch, a lawyer for relatives of victims of the genocide, in which as many as 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. "That makes every citizen competent to sit in judgment of such crimes."

"I hope that this is going to push the idea of universal justice, that it will be a springboard for other such cases," said Reed Brody, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch in New York.

The jury found the defendants, including two Roman Catholic nuns, guilty on most of the 55 counts against them, including murder and incitement to genocide. Witnesses called during the seven-week trial testified that the nuns had encouraged and collaborated with Hutu extremists who butchered and burned several thousand Tutsi refugees who had sought shelter in their convent. The nuns, a former government minister, and a former university professor were sentenced to between 12 and 20 years in prison.

The case was brought by Rwandan Tutsi exiles in Belgium, who had recognized on the streets of Brussels some of the Hutu extremists who carried out the genocide. They made use of a 1993 Belgian law that allows courts here to try cases of atrocities regardless of where they were committed. The defendant does not even have to be in Belgium to stand trial.

That law proved an embarrassment to the Belgian government last week, when it emerged that a private group had filed charges with judicial authorities here against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, for his role in the massacre of Palestinians by Christian militia in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, when Mr. Sharon was defense minister.

The law does not offer immunity to serving heads of state or government, or to other officials accused of genocide, war crimes, or other crimes against humanity.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said on Wednesday his government would "try to correct" aspects of the law. Diplomats said the law as it stands could hobble Belgian international relations. Brussels could not hope to mediate the Middle East conflict, for example, if Belgian courts were investigating the Israeli prime minister's alleged involvement in war crimes.

Mr. Michel added, however, that he remained committed to the principle behind the law, giving Belgian courts the right to try foreigners for foreign atrocities.

In fact, countries that ratify the 1949 Geneva Convention are bound to try such cases, but few actually do so. "We are unusual and ordinary at the same time," says Gerard Dive, the Belgian Justice Ministry's head of international criminal law. "We simply do in practice what everybody should be doing, but there is a habit of shutting ones' eyes."

A Belgian magistrate is currently investigating former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre, under whose 1982-90 rule some 40,000 political killings are said to have occurred. Private citizens have filed a complaint against former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani for alleged torture of political prisoners.

A number of other countries have begun to take similar action to apply "universal justice." Most famously, Britain detained former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for more than a year while the courts heard an extradition case against him filed by a Spanish judge who was investigating the disappearance of Spanish citizens in Chile during General Pinochet's rule.

Courts in Germany, Holland, and Denmark are prosecuting or have sentenced Bosnian Serbs and Muslims to jail for crimes during the Balkan wars; Mexico has agreed to extradite to Spain an alleged Argentinian torturer; and France began to prosecute an alleged torturer from Mali before he slipped out of the country last year.

Other countries have preferred not to prosecute such cases: Austria let a top aide to Iraq's Saddam Hussein leave Vienna in 1999 even though a criminal complaint had been filed against him with a local court. South African police did not arrest former Ethiopian tyrant Mengistu Haile Mariam when he visited South Africa two years ago, even though he is wanted in his home country for crimes against humanity. And in the United States, when the Justice Department detained an alleged Peruvian torturer last year, the State Department intervened to ensure his safe return home.

"Belgium is setting an example, and I hope it is a precedent other countries will follow," says Alain Destexhe, a Belgian senator who led a parliamentary inquiry into the genocide in Rwanda, a former Belgian colony. "It makes sense only if other countries follow suit" to ensure there is no haven for war criminals.

Though some observers had wondered whether a jury of 12 ordinary Belgians - they included a hairdresser, a truck driver, a university teacher, and a journalist - would be able to understand enough about the extraordinary, unfamiliar, and horrific events they were judging to reach an informed verdict, the result appeared to quell such doubts.

They picked their way carefully through the accusations, confirming some and rejecting others by votes that often split the jury 7 to 5.

The trial, says Mr. Brody, "showed it can be done. You can ask citizens to determine right and wrong in a lot of different circumstances. This is a major step forward for the principle that justice has no borders."

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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          By: Magnus Ranstorp        
Over the last two decades, I have invested an immense effort in mapping the links among Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Al-Qods Force, Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While the "open" evidence on Mughniyah is relatively limited, there's enough to build a coherent picture. He was indisputably involved in several terror cases beginning with the 1985 hijacking of TWA 847 (his fingerprints were found on board). Giandomenico Picco, the UN envoy who finally closed the Western hostage file in 1991, affirmed that Mughniyah was principal interlocutor in the negotiations. I assisted the Argentinian Supreme Court investigation into the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires that resulted in the indictment of several Iranians as well as Mughniyah. The evidence left no doubt about Mughniyah's extensive involvement. Over the years I've also interviewed several intelligence officers and investigators from France, the United States, Germany and other countries where Mughniyah was active, and they unanimously agreed that the threat posed by Mughniyah remained very real, extraordinarily dangerous and complex. Just two weeks ago I conducted such an interview at a European intelligence agency, and they continued to regard Mughniyah as a serious security threat. Martin Kramer is right in affirming that Hezbollah has maintained a clandestine terror capability revolving around Mughniyah, as a node to other terror channels within Iran's intelligence achitecture. Hezbollah's denial of Mughniyah was evidence for its fragile double identity. I perfectly understand why they opted for plausible deniability. Why should they have admitted his existence or role in terrorism? Less understandable are the many academics who allowed themselves to be misled about Hezbollah's clandestine wing and its use by Iran and, at times, Syria. Some of them were blinded by going "native," or they never really got close enough to Hezbollah to grasp the centrality of the clandestine wing and the crucial role of Mughniyah, the Hamadi clan and others. They preferred to believe that Hezbollah could not possibly harbor a secret structure involved in terrorism, when its above-the-board operations—social, political and military—were so effective and (according to some) so noble and legitimate. And so Hezbollah was allowed to have its cake and eat it too. Hezbollah's present embrace of Mughniyah as a great commander and hero has vindicated experts such as myself, who were right to underscore Mughniyah's significance. We were not surprised to see Nasrallah standing over Mughniyah's coffin and vowing vengeance. The same cannot be said for <a href="" rel="nofollow">Amal Saad-Ghorayeb</a> and others, who downplayed or altogether ignored the most senior Hezbollah commander. <i><a href="" rel="nofollow">Magnus Ranstorp</a> is Research Director of the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, and the author of</i> <a href="" rel="nofollow">Hizb'allah in Lebanon</a>.
          By: Michael Young        
Tony Badran also has a <a href="" rel="nofollow">good rundown</a> on the gullibility of scholars when it comes to Mughniyah at his <i>Across the Bay</i> blog. What he shows is that few of those writing on Hezbollah bothered to search beyond what the party told them about Mughniyah—and even came to internalize the party line on him. In recent days, I've learned that while Mughniyah was indeed a shadowy figure, there were quite a lot of people who knew him from his early days when he was a member of Fatah, and who sporadically knew what he was up to afterward. That's not to say that they would have spoken to researchers, or even that they had much to say; but it was not especially difficult for scholars to dig deeper and discover that Mughniyah at least existed and was not the non-entity that some "experts" made him out to be. This is emblematic of a wider problem. Hezbollah has been very adept at turning contacts with the party into a supposedly valuable favor. Scholars, particularly in the West, who can claim to have a Hezbollah contact are already regarded as "special" for having penetrated a closed society, so that readers are less inclined to judge critically the merits of what the scholars got out of Hezbollah. The same goes for book editors. Since Hezbollah denied knowing Mughniyah, few were willing to say "This is rubbish, I'm going to push further." The mere fact of getting that denial was regarded as an achievement—one the authors were not about to jeopardize by calling Hezbollah liars. My friend Mohamad Bazzi, in an <a href="" rel="nofollow">interview</a> with the Council on Foreign Relations, seems to have fallen into this trap. On the CFR site, he told Bernard Gwertzman the following about Mughniyah: "The reports that list him as an active senior leader of Hezbollah at the time of his death are mistaken. He might have had some contact with some people in Hezbollah leadership but he wasn't giving out orders and he wasn't in the position to do that." How does Bazzi know this? These are not details that Hezbollah would share with journalists, unless it is to begin a process of disinformation. And how does this square with Hezbollah's own statements and behavior to the contrary since the assassination? I can understand the logic of downplaying the importance of someone important who was murdered, as a means of telling the perpetrators that they did less damage than they think. But what's the logic of affirming the importance of someone like Mughniyah if he is unimportant? Doesn't it just confirm that Hezbollah suffered a terrible blow? My feeling is that Bazzi, like others, perhaps internalized the denials he heard from Hezbollah before the assassination, and has yet to adjust his argument to the aftermath. Writers and scholars quite naturally don't like to admit that they've believed lies. But Hezbollah's response to Mughniyah's murder surely imposes a reassessment. But if downplaying Mughniyah's importance is not a case of scholars wanting to remove egg from their face, then we could be seeing something different: a situation where writers and scholars are consciously or unconsciously perpetuating their initial belief that Mughniyah was always little more than an American, Israeli, or European creation, therefore that he was another excuse to justify further Western hegemony over the Arabs. Since so much Middle Eastern commentary and scholarship tends to be filtered into that template, it will be worth watching how writers and scholars comment on the further revelations in the Mughniyah case—assuming any are believable. <i><a href="" rel="nofollow">Michael Young</a> is opinion page editor of the </i>Daily Star<i> newspaper in Lebanon.</i>
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          Whew, what a journey!        
Wow, it's been a long time - just woke up from a Rip Van Winkleishly long nap. <--stretch-->

Well, why so long? To be truthful, ahem, I just got back from Mars. Yes, there's gold there, about a trillion dollars worth, or more, even. Raw, refined ingots showing their age of tens of thousands of years. They look somewhat porous, almost, and rough, but they are easy to rub into a brilliant sheen. A great trove of East African treasure. Stored for what purpose? Wealth. Great riches. Only, I didn't have the resources to bring any back.

Don't believe me? Read this book before you say anything. Read also translations of the Egyptian Hieroglyphs, which tell of the gods' "ships of millions of years". Then study the stones which form the launching platform at Baalbek, in Lebanon, and which existed before the biblical flood, which happened 13,950 years ago when a giant slab of ice the size of a small continent calved off the Antarctic ice shelf, producing a tsunami which made the boxing day event seem but a dribble of slurp crawling up the beach. Ancient Sumerian cuneiform script tells of how the gods ascended into the heavens on great clouds of billowing black smoke, as the earth trembled with a terrible roar all around as far as the eye could see. It's no mystery why the Anunaki chose the Middle East to build their great settlements, the first being "Erdu" (Earth) where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet the gulf. The oil fair oozed out of the ground, and it is a simple task to refine and distill the crude into kerosene, a very powerful rocket fuel. They came ashore out of the sea, after splashing down to Earth like the Apollo astronauts did. From whence they came is anybody's guess. I suspect that this part of the cosmos is past its peak in interstellar travels. But then again, it really does take a long time to make those journeys, and we will no doubt witness them again sooner or later. Remember, we are talking thousands of years of ancient history recording on stone for posterity those great events so that future generations would know that something great happened which was beyond the understanding of the minds of those early humans.

Place your mind back to that of an early human of ancient history. The concepts of space, planets, star-hopping, all are far outside the realm of understanding. The world was the center of the Universe, the sky but an interesting tapestry. Even 50 years B.C., relatively recent, Titus Lucretius Carus, the poet (see sidebar), thought that the sun was as big as you see that it is - the size of a walnut. It was just so energetic and powerful that it didn't need to be any bigger.

For better or worse, that collection of manuscripts whose production spanned a time frame of seven hundred years - legend, fable, history, poetry and song, lesson - have been combined into a single tome whose interpretations have been made religiocentric. The purity of their symbolism is magnetic, but painfully lacking in correctness. The cuneiform script on those Sumerian tablets, some over ten thousand years old, are not. They are real accounts of events whose witnesses sought to record in as unbiased a manner as possible. They are worth researching.

Thanks to the Rosetta Stone, we now know what they were telling us. Thanks to Zechariah Sitchin, whose sixty years of dedication to the task of interpreting them and correlating the data with ancient Greek, Hebrew, Babylonian and scriptural writings, we can now begin to rationalize their words. He passed away November, 2010, having published "There Were Giants Upon the Earth" in June of that year. May he rest in peace.

          Why I’m Making a Documentary About the Gerson Therapy        

Guest post by Sarah Mabrouk   I spent a good part of my career as a journalist, covering news stories in the Middle East. I reported on the Iraq war, the withdrawal from Gaza, the war in Lebanon, Ahmedinejad’s rise to power in Iran, the election win of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, and many […]

The post Why I’m Making a Documentary About the Gerson Therapy appeared first on Gerson Institute.

           Usage of artificial intelligent technology in healthy food planning for people with disabilities         
Sicurello, Francesco, Salem, Abdel-Badeeh M., De Luca, Anna Rita, Stenta, Urbano, Amon, Tomaz and Revett, Kenneth (2009) Usage of artificial intelligent technology in healthy food planning for people with disabilities. In: EMMIT 2009: Euro-Mediterranean Medical Informatics and Telemedicine, 5th International Conference, 16 - 18 Oct 2009, Beirut, Lebanon. (Unpublished)
          Beirut is Home to the Worlds Largest Collection of Tiny Cars…Model Cars that is.        
We can’t all afford a collection of BMW’s, Porsche’s and Lamborghini’s so whats the next best thing? A collection of the miniature versions of course! Billy Karam of Beirut, Lebanon did exactly that – “You cannot buy the big ones, … Continue reading
          The President's Burden

When I consider that all world leaders in their different eras get handed complex problems not of their own creation - Lincoln and the scourge of black slavery, say, or Churchill with the outbreak of the Second World War - I’m tempted to shrug and just conclude that it comes with the job. But then I remember that these great leaders of the past never had to confront a foe where a nuclear attack on themselves or a close ally may be the result of their actions.
President Trump has on his shoulders some immensely vexing burdens: the evil shenanigans of the Kim Dynasty in North Korea, the aggressive expansion of China into the South China Sea and their stubborn complacency over reining in North Korea, the aggressive expansion of Russia into the sovereign state of Ukraine and their support of Assad in Syria - three of these regimes possess nuclear weapons. There is also, of course, the ongoing catastrophe of Syria and its dastardly Iranian and Russian backed dictator, Assad.

​Throw into the mix of these weighty matters the other black foe of Islamic barbarity, ISIS (and the many hundreds of militias who fight for a similar cause including the Taliban in Afghanistan), and one starts to get a dark overview of only some of the problems that the president has to wake up to every morning - and these are just his foreign policy concerns.

As I write this, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi has arrived in Mosul and prepares to announce a victory over ISIS in this last stronghold of the terrorist army in Iraq. There is no longer an Islamic State of Iraq & Syria in terms of territory, it has been obliterated thanks to an aggressive offensive fought by a coalition of Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia militias and American air power and special forces. But many ISIS fighters shed their uniforms only to melt back into the civilian population; they were not all killed unfortunately, but many thousands were.

Back in May, United States Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, said after being empowered by President Trump to annihilate ISIS:

“Our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against ISIS. It is a threat to all civilized nations. And the bottom line is we are going to move in an accelerated and reinforced manner, throw them on their back foot… Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We're not going to allow them to do so. We're going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”

The fact that the feckless President Obama did not cut this beast’s head clean off when it first dramatically emerged in a country where American troops had just spent ten years fighting a savage insurgency, goes to clearly show that an American president’s actions or inactions can indeed be a force for evil or a force for good. ISIS is just Al Qaeda rebranded and reinvigorated, until now. As of this year they are thoroughly demoralised - their caliphate was meant to be the fulfilment of a dearly held prophecy. They will meet the same fate in Raqqa, Syria, before too long. They will also send as many of their fighters as they can into Western nations to wreak terror on modern cities - and that will be the fault of Western leaders and Western citizens who have taken an inflexibly soft-headed stance on the “refugee crisis” by demanding that they all be let in under the unquestioned sentiment of compassion.

All I can say on this score is President Trump made it clear from the outset that he wanted to severely limit immigrants - and refugees - from coming into the United States if they were coming from the unstable parts of the Islamic world, and he was courageously and morally correct to take that stand considering whose interests he was voted in to represent. As it happens he is also trying to protect the whole world from an adversary as wicked as ISIS, if Secretary Mattis’ words above are anything to go by.

Syria is going to be more tricky, with no simple solutions in sight.

Syria, unlike Iraq, comes with the hated Baathist dictator still in residence - and propped up by Iran and Russia. Syria, under Assad, has lost over a quarter of its population in six years. An estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed and around 5 - 6 million are displaced - 2 million reside in refugee camps in Turkey, between 1 - 2 million made their way to Europe (the official number is unknown - a major cause of concern for the West) and another 2.5 million have allegedly been absorbed into the Gulf States, Lebanon and Kuwait. For those who always like to say, as far too many people did after Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were deposed, that it’s ”better to leave the dictator/strongman in power no matter how brutal he is because he is the one who keeps the country stable”… how does that worn-out, cheap little bromide work for you now when you consider Assad’s Syria?

Just before the war started, In 2011 at the time of the so-called Arab Spring (or Islamist Winter) when Syrian students and citizens came out to protest against Assad’s dictatorial regime, never let it be forgotten that Assad had in his slaughterhouse of a prison at Sednaya many high ranking, ferocious Al Qaeda operatives whom he let out when he feared that the United States might also be of a mind to depose him as they had done with Hussein and Gaddafi. Better to risk violence from terrorists and look like the man standing between them and peace than look like the bastard standing between dictatorship and democracy. Since then he has allegedly used chemical weapons (sarin, mustard, chlorine) and lied about it around 50 times - so it was with great relish that I watched President Trump order the 59 cruise missile attacks on the Shayrat airbase, which decimated 25 percent of Assad’s airforce. Good job President Trump!

President Trump is now seeking to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria with President Putin, who insists on abetting this piece of filth, Assad, but whether or not the ceasefire will hold is anyone’s guess. Trump has made it clear to Assad, Putin and the whole world that if Assad uses chemical weapons again the United States will unleash hell on them every time. Trump doesn’t call this a “redline” but that’s exactly what it is and he has already enforced it - and all civilised countries of the United Nations should give him their support since it is an important part of the Geneva Protocol.

The most imminent foreign policy threat on President Trump's plate continues to be North Korea as they are a rogue nation which has nuclear weapons. No person of sense anymore doubts that they will use them, whether provoked or not. Their leader, Kim Jong-un, makes constant threats to hit the American homeland with nuclear warheads, which can no more be ignored than the similar threats made by the Iranian regime to hit Israel and America, but they aren't a nuclear power - yet - and hopefully never will be (Israel would certainly strike their nuclear facilities preemptively before allowing that to happen).

The Kim Dynasty for the last 70 years has absolutely no regard for its own people, it is well known that North Korean citizens live in a state of abject fear and slavery, as is a common story for citizens living inside an ultra communist nation. Hundreds of thousands of North Korean citizens: men, women, children and babies, subsist in concentration camps which have been modelled on the gulags of Stalin. The crimes for which a citizen can be sent to one of these ominous slave-pens range from being an official who has fallen out of favour with the regime, to being a third generation relative of someone who has fallen out of favour with the regime, or for not keeping the compulsory household portrait of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung, clean enough - in other words, you can be sent to a death camp for no reason at all. Some of these hell-holes have 50,000 prisoners who are subject to beatings, torture, medical experiments, rape, barbaric executions, starvation and being worked to death. We know these facts because of the testimonies of people who have defected, like Lim Hye-jin, who was a prison guard lucky enough to defect to South Korea.

Every American president since Bush Senior has kicked the can of dealing with North Korea down the road, but now that it is clear the regime possesses nuclear weapons technology, the dead end of that road has loomed large. After the horrific incident of American student, Otto Warmbier, being arrested in North Korea on a spontaneous tour to the rogue nation and then obviously tortured into a coma, only to die in America after Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, instructed by President Trump, negotiated his release, the President is motivated to deal with North Korea once and for all. No one is quite sure what that is going to look like; China is committed to enabling North Korea’s dependency on them and fears the humanitarian crisis which would pour over their border if there were a war - or a liberation. Frankly China deserves it since its economic enabling of the North Korean regime has augmented in the first half of 2017, not diminished, as President Trump hoped it would.

This is a huge diplomatic struggle for President Trump who has a range of options on the table: strikes on North Korea’s nuclear facilities and its leader, or fresh economic sanctions and a trade off for something North Korea may want from America (like a reduction in troops on the South Korean border). Another option may be to nuclear arm Japan. South Korea is understandably nervous - a war with its northern rogue neighbour could mean millions of deaths. However, the time for successful sanctions and negotiations was before they acquired nuclear weapons. For an overview of the military options on the table go here.

President Xi of China enables the Kim regime as President Putin of Russia enables Assad's. Is it any wonder that in his first year of the presidency Trump has been striving to cultivate decent diplomatic relations with both these men? If he didn’t, the world (let alone the main stream media) would crucify him for not taking a diplomatic approach. He must try that option before becoming heavy handed with either of these super powers.

When President Trump says, as he does from time to time, “I inherited a mess,” upon winning the presidency, he is by no means engaging in exaggeration.

          Um…that toilet is not a bath, sir.        
More great news from grand old PA, where yours truly resides. A man in Lebanon, PA was recently “rescued” by police from a portable toilet. Apparently the dude was smashed out of his gourd, had taken off his clothes, and somehow got himself stuck in the holding tank of the john. The guy had to […]
          Ng: No plan to host US troops        

Ng: No plan to host US troops : Photo Gallery

No plans for Singapore to host US troops: Ng Eng Hen
No plans for Singapore to host US troops: Ng Eng Hen

No plans for Singapore to host US troops: Ng Eng Hen

No plans for Singapore to host US troops: Ng Eng Hen

plans to host troops from




Ng: No plan to host US troops -

No plans for Singapore to host US troops: Ng Eng Hen
No plans for Singapore to host US troops: Ng Eng Hen

No plans for Singapore to host US troops: Ng Eng Hen

No plans for Singapore to host US troops: Ng Eng Hen

No plans for Singapore to host

Best of Photojournalism | Scoop.
Best of Photojournalism | Scoop.

Best of Photojournalism | Scoop.

Best of Photojournalism | Scoop.

Obama: US troop withdrawal to

HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea
HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea

HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea

HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea

notice, Sixth Army was ordered

HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea
HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea

HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea

HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea

some 7800 Australian troops

Aquino says US drone strikes banned, more US troops welcome | GMA ...
Aquino says US drone strikes banned, more US troops welcome | GMA ...

Aquino says US drone strikes banned, more US troops welcome | GMA ...

Aquino says US drone strikes banned, more US troops welcome | GMA ...

Mga kalamidad gaya ng lindol,

Aquino says US drone strikes banned, more US troops welcome | GMA ...
Aquino says US drone strikes banned, more US troops welcome | GMA ...

Aquino says US drone strikes banned, more US troops welcome | GMA ...

Aquino says US drone strikes banned, more US troops welcome | GMA ...

Pwersa ng US military,

Operation Gratitude Blog | Sending Care Packages to our Military ...
Operation Gratitude Blog | Sending Care Packages to our Military ...

Operation Gratitude Blog | Sending Care Packages to our Military ...

Operation Gratitude Blog | Sending Care Packages to our Military ...

to Cars for U.S. Troops!

Will U.S. Troops Fire On American Citizens? :
Will U.S. Troops Fire On American Citizens? :

Will U.S. Troops Fire On American Citizens? :

Will U.S. Troops Fire On American Citizens? :

The question of troop

Sino-Forest files for creditor protection
Sino-Forest files for creditor protection

Sino-Forest files for creditor protection

Sino-Forest files for creditor protection

Sino-Forest Corp. now plans to

NGM Blog Central - NG Revisited - National Geographic magazine - NGM.
NGM Blog Central - NG Revisited - National Geographic magazine - NGM.

NGM Blog Central - NG Revisited - National Geographic magazine - NGM.

NGM Blog Central - NG Revisited - National Geographic magazine - NGM.

been killed by U.S. forces




No plans for Singapore to host

NY PIX Morning News Blog – WPIX-
NY PIX Morning News Blog – WPIX-

NY PIX Morning News Blog – WPIX-

NY PIX Morning News Blog – WPIX-

activist, radio show host

Last US troops leave Iraq, ending 9 years of war - Worldnews.
Last US troops leave Iraq, ending 9 years of war - Worldnews.

Last US troops leave Iraq, ending 9 years of war - Worldnews.

Last US troops leave Iraq, ending 9 years of war - Worldnews.

MSM Fails on Obama Iraq Troop

HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea
HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea

HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea

HyperWar: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: New Guinea

(Army Art Collection)

Dr Tan speaking to recruits at BMTC on the measures taken to prevent ...
Dr Tan speaking to recruits at BMTC on the measures taken to prevent ...

Dr Tan speaking to recruits at BMTC on the measures taken to prevent ...

Dr Tan speaking to recruits at BMTC on the measures taken to prevent ...

PressTV - Kuwait not to host more US troops
PressTV - Kuwait not to host more US troops

PressTV - Kuwait not to host more US troops

PressTV - Kuwait not to host more US troops ... ... ... ...




South Haven Tribune - Agriculture/tourism in SW Michigan1.23.12MBG ...
South Haven Tribune - Agriculture/tourism in SW Michigan1.23.12MBG ...

South Haven Tribune - Agriculture/tourism in SW Michigan1.23.12MBG ...

South Haven Tribune - Agriculture/tourism in SW Michigan1.23.12MBG ...

Singapore Web Hosting « Dexter Ng.Asia Singapore
Singapore Web Hosting « Dexter Ng.Asia Singapore

Singapore Web Hosting « Dexter Ng.Asia Singapore

Singapore Web Hosting « Dexter Ng.Asia Singapore

US commanders: No plan to cede Afghan war to CIA - The Denver Post ...
US commanders: No plan to cede Afghan war to CIA - The Denver Post ...

US commanders: No plan to cede Afghan war to CIA - The Denver Post ...

US commanders: No plan to cede Afghan war to CIA - The Denver Post ...

In 2009, the program delivered nearly 17,000 trees to families in five ...
In 2009, the program delivered nearly 17,000 trees to families in five ...

In 2009, the program delivered nearly 17,000 trees to families in five ...

In 2009, the program delivered nearly 17,000 trees to families in five ...

For additional information, please email us directly at questions ...
For additional information, please email us directly at questions ...

For additional information, please email us directly at questions ...

For additional information, please email us directly at questions ...

 ... War II veterans, soldiers from the AFP, and ROTC recruits from Naga
... War II veterans, soldiers from the AFP, and ROTC recruits from Naga

... War II veterans, soldiers from the AFP, and ROTC recruits from Naga

 ... War II veterans, soldiers from the AFP, and ROTC recruits from Naga

NEW! Spook-tacular Host Bundles for September
NEW! Spook-tacular Host Bundles for September

NEW! Spook-tacular Host Bundles for September

NEW! Spook-tacular Host Bundles for September

 ... brave soldiers how much our community supports and appreciates them
... brave soldiers how much our community supports and appreciates them

... brave soldiers how much our community supports and appreciates them

 ... brave soldiers how much our community supports and appreciates them

drum 23 11 2011 australia to host us soldiers permanently lateline 16 ...
drum 23 11 2011 australia to host us soldiers permanently lateline 16 ...

drum 23 11 2011 australia to host us soldiers permanently lateline 16 ...

drum 23 11 2011 australia to host us soldiers permanently lateline 16 ...

drum 23 11 2011 australia to host us soldiers permanently lateline 16 ...
drum 23 11 2011 australia to host us soldiers permanently lateline 16 ...

drum 23 11 2011 australia to host us soldiers permanently lateline 16 ...

drum 23 11 2011 australia to host us soldiers permanently lateline 16 ...

2007 deadliest for us troops in iraq the associated press 12 31 07 ...
2007 deadliest for us troops in iraq the associated press 12 31 07 ...

2007 deadliest for us troops in iraq the associated press 12 31 07 ...

2007 deadliest for us troops in iraq the associated press 12 31 07 ...

Glenn Beck Turns MLK’s Dream to Nightmare on Anniversary ...
Glenn Beck Turns MLK’s Dream to Nightmare on Anniversary ...

Glenn Beck Turns MLK’s Dream to Nightmare on Anniversary ...

Glenn Beck Turns MLK’s Dream to Nightmare on Anniversary ...

 ... View Photograph: Korean War soldiers with 75mm recoilless rifles
... View Photograph: Korean War soldiers with 75mm recoilless rifles

... View Photograph: Korean War soldiers with 75mm recoilless rifles

 ... View Photograph: Korean War soldiers with 75mm recoilless rifles




WASHINGTON: Singapore is not considering plans to host troops from the United States, visiting Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said at a forum here. As the first batch of US Marines began arriving in Australia this week as part of the Obama ...

Destruction as Syrian forces take opposition town
Destruction as Syrian forces take opposition town

Destruction as Syrian forces take opposition town

Destruction as Syrian forces take opposition town

Syria has accepted a peace plan by UN envoy Kofi Annan that includes a government cease-fire, but the bloodshed persisted Tuesday as intense clashes between soldiers and rebels spilled across the border into Lebanon, officials said.

The Day's Best | 03.20.12
The Day's Best | 03.20.12

The Day's Best | 03.20.12

The Day's Best | 03.20.12

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) – AP A woman comforts crying children outside a school in the Roma neighborhood after they were evacuated during the earthquake that was felt in Mexico City, Tuesday March 20, 2012. A strong, long earthquake with epicenter in ...

Ng: No plan to host US troops : Videos

Assignment Iran: US Army Training of Iranian Imperial Army Special Forces Group
Assignment Iran: US Army Training of Iranian Imperial Army Special Forces Group

Assignment Iran: US Army Training of Iranian Imperial Army Special Forces Group

DVD: The Islamic Republic of I

          Syria Daily, Jan 9: UN Envoy Meets Regime Officials in Damascus        

PHOTO: The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura


Pursuing an international proposal for a resolution to Syria's crisis, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura met President Assad's officials in Damascus on Saturday.

De Mistura saw Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem about "preparations for the [international] meeting scheduled on January 25th". Syrian State media said al-Moallem demanded that opposition and rebel factions be labelled as "terrorist", precluding their involvement in negotiations.

Three sets of international talks, spurred by Russia's military intervention on behalf of the regime, have been held since mid-November. The final round in New York on December 18 presented a proposal for ceasefires, opposition-regime negotiations, a new Constitution, and elections in an 18-month transition. It made no statement about the future of President Assad and his leading officials.

Earlier in the week, the UN envoy met representatives of the opposition-rebel negotiating team named last month. A statement from the head of the team, former Prime Minister Riad Hijab, emphasized preconditions for any talks with the regime. These include release of detainees from regime prisons, ceasefires with a halt to bombardment by Russian and Syrian air forces, and access to humanitarian aid.

A declaration by 21 rebel factions reiterated those preconditions on Friday.

De Mistura has also held talks in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, both backers of the opposition and rebels. After the Damascus meetings, he will travel to Assad's ally Iran.

Mass Casualties from Russian Airstrike in Idlib Province

Mass casualties are being reported from a Russian airstrike on the town of Maarat al-Nu'man in Idlib Province on Saturday.

Activists say more than 40 people have been killed, with scores wounded. Accounts vary on the exact target.

Maarat al-Numan, 33 km (22 miles) south of Idlib city, has been hit on several occasions since the Russian airstrikes began on September 30. In mid-December, scores were killed in a strike on an oil market.

Opposition Criticizes UN Statement Over Starving Madaya

The opposition Syrian National Coalition has criticized Thursday's UN announcement that aid will be delivered to Madaya, the town near Damascus where thousands are facing starvation amid a six-month siege by the Syrian military.

The Coalition sent a letter to the UN Security Council expressing regret at the welcome given to the Assad regime's permission to enter Madaya:

We profoundly regret the decision to welcome the Assad regime’s announcement to grant UN agencies access to Madaya. It wrongly implies that the provision of humanitarian access is optional, rather than being a legal obligation.

The letter emphasized, "The use of starvation as a tool of war is a war crime, for which the Assad regime must be held accountable.”

Madaya has received only one aid delivery, in October, during the siege that began when Hezbollah and regime forces tried to overrun nearby Zabadani. Assistance was supposed to be delivered in late December, as rebels, their families, and wounded were evacuated from the area, but it never reached the town.

At least 31 people among the estimated 40,000 population have died from starvation last month. Doctors have said that two to three people are now perishing each day.

The Coalition said, “More should be done to apply pressure on the regime, including through renewed look at the feasibility of drone-delivered air drops by those states currently conducting air operations against ISIS [the Isalmic State[ in Syria.”

It warned that more residents will die before aid is permitted into Madaya on Monday.

The weekly protest in Kafranbel in northwest Syria also criticizes the UN and the Assad regime over the crisis:

Meanwhile, Iran has shown concern over the growing attention to the crisis and the effect on the Assad regime. Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, publishes a lengthy article blaming Saudi media for the story:
Not even a single person informed of news and developments can accept that Saudi Arabia is concerned about people's lives in Madaya, while attacking and slaughtering innocent civilians in Sana'a and Sa'da in Yemen with different missiles, cluster bombs and US and UK-made ammunition.

400 Syrians Forced to Return from Lebanon

Four hundred Syrians, trying to fly to Turkey, have been forced to return to Damascus from Beirut airport in Lebanon.

The passengers were turned back because of new Turkish regulations that require Syrians to have a visa to enter the country by air or sea. The rules came into effect on Friday.

More than 160 of the passengers were taken off planes that were about to depart.

Border crossings between Syria and Lebanon had been crowded in recent days with people intending to travel to Turkey, ahead of the deadline.

Amnesty International, which criticized the return of the passengers, said that they were scheduled to fly to Turkey on Thursday, but their flights were canceled.

          Syria Today: Opposition Repeats --- No Participation in International "Peace" Conference        

Government forces move through Qusayr, captured by the Syrian military last Wednesday

Syria Feature: Jabhat al-Nusra, Al Qaeda, and the Islamic State of Iraq
Middle East Today: Libya --- At Least 25 Killed in Clashes Between Protesters and Government-Backed Militia
Saturday's Syria Today: UN Appeal on "Record" Aid for Syrians --- Significant Step or Meaningless Gesture?<

The opposition Syrian National Coalition has reiterated its refusal to participate in a proposed international conference.

"What is happening in Syria today completely closes the doors on any discussions about international conferences and political initiatives," George Sabra, Coalition, told a press conference in Istanbul. "The war declared by the regime and its allies in the region has reached a level we cannot ignore."

Last week, regime force and Hezbollah allies captured the town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, after a three-week siege and then re-claimed nearby villages.

Sabra said just before those developments that the opposition would not attend a peace conference while Iranian elements and Hezbollah were supporting Syrian troops on the ground.

Before that, the Coalition had set the departure of President Assad as a pre-condition for any talks about a political resolution and transitional government.

Photo: Pro-Hezbollah Demonstrators Attack Bus In Beirut

Following our earlier report about clashes on Sunday near the Iranian embassy in Bir Hassan, southern Beirut over the roles of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria image from an incident, the image below show pro-Hezbollah demonstrators attacking a bus carrying anti-Hezbollah demonstrators in front of the embassy.

Insurgents Kill Iraqi Border Guard

Iraqi officials say that Syrian insurgents on Sunday opened fire on two Iraqi border posts, killing one guard and wounding two others.

Colonel Nayif Zaili said Syrian rebels fired on two posts which lay two kilometres from the Al-Waleed border crossing.

The Syrian side of the crossing remains under the control of the regime, despite attempts by insurgents to seize it for several months.

State TV: Documents Show Qatar Asked Insurgents to Defend Qusayr to Protect Israel

1 Dead Amid Anti-Hezbollah Protests in Beirut

An unarmed Lebanese man has been killed after groups clashed in southern Beirut following a protest over the roles of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria.

The incident happened at about lunchtime near the Iranian embassy in Bir Hassan, where demonstrators had gathered to challenge the Iranian and Hezbollah support of the Assad regime.

Five others are said to have been injured in the shooting. It was not clear who started the gunfire; however, a journalist for Beirut's Daily Star on the scene reported "men in black shirts with yellow ribbons around their arms" --- indicating they were from Hezbollah shoving protesters away from the site as they exited buses. The protesters had little time to raise their banners before they were beaten up with sticks.

The men in black shirts then opened fire in the air to disperse the demonstrators.

Al Jazeera reported that the protesters against Iran and Hezbollah belong to the party of Ahmad Asaad's party, a Shia politician who is anti-Hezbollah and belongs to the March 14 Movement.

The Lebanese army is now reported to be in control of the area around the embassy, with barricades set up on the road.


The Local Coordination Committees claim that 33 people have been killed today, including 20 in Damascus and its suburbs.


The Violations Documentation Center reports that 63,071 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since March 2011, an increase of 98 from Saturday. Of the deaths, 48,690 were civilians, a rise of 60 from yesterday.

Aid to Civilians Amid Kurdish-Insurgent Tension in North

Claimed photograph of aid to residents in Efrin, where Kurdish militia and insurgents, including of the Free Syrian Army, have been clashing for weeks:

          Iran Today: The IRGC, Basij and "Defeating The Enemy" In The Presidential Election        

See also Iran Analysis: "Supreme Leader in a Real Mess" After Last Presidential Debate
Iran Special: Highlights From The Third Presidential Debate
Friday's Iran Today: Presidential Election --- Edging Toward A Rouhani Coalition?

Basij leader Mohammad Reza Naqdi While there has been considerable speculation --- much in the form of polls --- about which of the eight Presidential candidates is in the lead in the run-up to the June 14 election, the question that nobody can answer is what the turnout will be on the day.

A low turnout would indicate that Iranians are either apathetic about the election or that they feel that the regime will manipulate the results, and so there is no point in voting.

Amid this uncertainty, senior IRGC and Basij leaders have warned this week that Iran's "enemies" were attempting to interfere in the Presidential election.

The Deputy Commander of the IRGC's Ground Forces, Brigadier General i, cautioned that Iran must beware of the enemy's "careful manipulation" of the election.

"Today, we are on the eve of an election that will decide the fate of the country, and we must be fully aware so that the enemy does not exploit the space of the election," he warned.

The commander of the Basij, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, said that Iranians could help defeat the enemy by turning out en masse to vote in the elections.

Naghdi said that, in fact, Iran's enemies would be "astonished" on June 14 and would face another heavy defeat, because the Iranian people would create a political epic.

The deputy commander of the IRGC's political wing, Rasul Sanai Rad, also urged a high turnout, saying that this showed the national might of Iran and also indicated the level of trust people felt in the system.

The Supreme Leader's representative in the IRGC, Hojatoleslam Ali Saeedi, told people in Arak last week that a large turnout would demonstrate national might and sovereignty, but moreover would guarantee that the system's legitimacy was preserved and would "remove threats against the Iranian nation".

Rouhani Campaign Tweets Photo Of Tehran Mass Rally, + Video of Supporters Calling For Coalition

Moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani's campaign team tweeted a photograph of a rally at Tehran's Afrasiabi stadium and a video that shows supporters calling for a coalition between Rouhani and reformist candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref.

Pro-Rouhani supporters tweeted other images of the rally, portraying a massive turnout and a surge in the support for the candidate.

Rouhani: I Had To Answer Qalibaf In Debate

An EA correspondent writes: the video below --- showing moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani in his car --- was recorded after last night's debate.

At the beginning of the video someone on the road tells Rouhani well done and the man with him says he appreciates Rouhani for the answers he gave in the debate, and asks him what he thought about it.

Rouhani says: "I didn’t want to answer him [Principlist candidate Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf] like that but when I saw that he was not telling the truth, I had to say something to make sure people understand everything properly and also for historical records.  I had so many things to say but I wanted to follow morality. Unfortunately some people place justice and truth to one side in competition."

Ahmadinejad: Nuclear Talks Have Nothing to Do With Me

Confirming what EA has said for months, President Ahmadinejad has said that he is sidelined in Iran's negotiations over its nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad, responding to allegations in the Presidential campaign, said, "People have said [lack of progress] is the fault of the government. I am not talking about the nuclear issue and do not intervene in the case Someone else is responsible."

Presidential Election: Haddad Adel Reconfirms No "Unity" Candidate

Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel has confirmed that --- contrary to months of promises from the Supreme Leader's 2+1 Committee, of which he is a member --- there will be no "unity" candidate in Friday's first-round election.

Haddad Adel said he would not withdraw, even for fellow Committee members Ali Akbar Velayati and Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf:


Given my extensive experience and good relations with many managers, I can form a cabinet with efficient and revolutionary individuals on board. This is a reason of my decision to sign up in the first place and why I am planning to stay in the race.


Economy Watch: The Soaring Cost of Food

The BBC, citing the official Statistics Centre of Iran, offers some striking numbers about inflation between 2007 and 2013.

Sangak bread has almost doubled in cost. That, however, is only a small rise compared to a kilogramme of beef (470%), a litre of milk (350%), and a kilogramme of rice (7100%).

The national minimum wage has fallen more than 50% in real terms, while youth employment rose to 24.9% in 2012.

Has Rafsanjani Come Out In Support Of Rouhani?

Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has said that moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani is the "best choice" of the eight Presidential candidates, Mehr News and other sources are reporting this morning.

The report comes amid speculation that reformist candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref may step down in favor of Rouhani, in order to unify the moderate- centrist- reformist vote behind a single candidate. As we noted in a separate analysis this morning, backing from Rafsanjani and former President Khatami will be essential if such a coalition is to take place.

Hezbollah Praises "Jalili the Resistor"

Presidential candidate and Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili has tweeted a picture he said came from his supporters in Lebanon --- presumably Hezbollah (if the image is genuine).

The image, in the colors of the Islamic Republic's flag, shows a photograph of a younger Jalili and the Arabic caption المقاوم --- the Resistor; the legend العدالة والحرية --- "Justice and Freedom", and then a current photograph of Jalili with the caption الدبلوماسي --- the Diplomatist.

Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani of the Wilson Center notes that the Qazvin News Network has provided short profiles of the eight candidates, with photographs of them and their children.

Mohsen Rezaei And Son

Regime "Harasses Radoio Farda Journalists"

The director of Radio Farda, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty's Persian service, has said that harassment against his reporters has increased in recent weeks.

"The harassment has intensified in the past several weeks, as the authorities take all possible precautions against anything that may challenge their control over the elections," Armand Mostofi said.

Radio Farda said it had documented nine incidents of harassment during May, in which reporters' family members in Iran have been interrogated and asked to persuade their relatives to stop working for Radio Farda or stay but work for Iranian intelligence, RFE/ RL report.

          Syria Today: UN Appeal on "Record" Aid for Syrians --- Significant Step or Meaningless Gesture?        

On Friday, the United Nations launched an appeal for $5.2 billion --- the largest amount it has ever requested --- for aid operations in Syria and neighbouring countries.

Here's the catch: the UN had another appeal earlier this year for $3 billion --- and only $1.4 billion has been pledged.

The UN said last month that 5.2 million of Syria's pre-conflict population of 20.8 million people were either refugees or displaced inside the country. On Friday, the organisation estimated that the current number of 1.6 million refugees will reach 3.45 million by the end of 2013, with 6.8 million needing assistance inside the country.

The Wounded from Qusayr

Al Jazeera English reports from Arsal in Lebanon, where some of those wounded during the three-week battle for Qusayr have been taken:

Hezbollah Denies Its Fighters Captured In Damascus Province

Hezbollah's media relations office issued a statement Saturday denying a report that insurgents had captured several of its fighters in Damascus province.


"Hezbollah categorically denies these baseless reports," the statement reads.

The response comes after Local Coordination Committees announced on Friday that the Free Syrian Army had succeeded in capturing several Hezbollah and the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade fighters in Damascus province after seizing "several posts west of Muadhamiyat as-Sham".

The Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade --- which first appeared around 14 months ago --- has said via social media that its aim is to defend the Shia Zaynab Shrine in southern Damascus. The Guardian's Martin Chulov profiled the group in a story earlier this week, noting that:

Interviews with serving and former members of Abu Fadl al-Abbas suggest that upwards of 10,000 volunteers – all of them Shia Muslims, and many from outside Syria – have joined their ranks in the past year alone. The group's raison d'etre is to be custodian of Shia holy sites, especially Sayyida Zeinab, a golden-domed Damascus landmark, but its role has taken it to most corners of Syria's war. It is now a direct battlefield rival, both in numbers and power, for Jabhat al-Nusra, the jihadist group that takes a prominent role among opposition fighting groups.

Demonstration In Aleppo

The video below shows a crowd of what appeared to be mostly boys and young men marching an unspecified neighborhood of Aleppo, many waving Islamic State of Iraq flags. Halab News Network, which posted the video, said that the marchers demanded the creation of an Islamic state in Syria.

Car Bomb In Homs

Eight people have been killed, including three women and a teenager, in a car bomb attack on a Shia neighborhood of Homs, Syrian state TV has reported.

State-run al-Ikhbariya TV said the car was booby-trapped.

Video: Scud Attack On Kfar Hamra And Ma'ara, Aleppo

The video shown below shows what activists said was a double Scud missile strike on Kfar Hamra, a village just outside Aleppo. Another strike took place in Ma'ara, west of Aleppo and roughly halfway between that city and the Turkish border, again according to activists.

Map showing the location of Kfar Hamra:

View Larger Map

LBCI in al-Bweida al-Sharqiya, al-Qusayr

Lebanese broadcaster LBCI sent a team of reporters and a camera crew to the village of al-Bweida al-Sharqiya on the northern outskirts of al-Qusayr. LBCI said that their team was able to enter the village after insurgent fighters left.

LBCI reporters said that the village was empty and that there were scenes of destruction.

The Syrian Army showed the reporter around an elementary school in al-Bweida and a soldier explained that it had been used by insurgents as a makeshift hospital. Empty metal-framed beds still remain in several of the schoolrooms --- the floors of which are covered in blood. Dressings and other medical supplies are stored on shelves in some of the rooms. Wounded insurgents from al-Qusayr were evacuated to the village after regime forces captured it.

LBCI also sent a crew into al-Qusayr on Friday, and were told by Syrian government officials that there were plans to clear the city --- all but destroyed after three weeks of heavy fighting --- so that residents could return to their homes.

State Media: Regime Forces Take Village Near Qusayr

State news agency SANA claims that regime forces "restored security and stability to al-Buweida al-Sharqiya" village, near Qusayr --- the strategic town re-claimed by the Syrian military this week --- and the Lebanese border.

An "official source" said the village was occupied after "eliminating the last gatherings of terrorists there".

Civilians and wounded fleeing the fighting in Qusayr had gone to al-Buweida.

Propaganda of the Day

State news agency SANA headlines that Syria's envoy to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Fayssal al-Hamwi, has affirmed the regime's commitment to cooperation with the UN "in addressing humanitarian needs".

During a session on Friday over the UN's plan to meet humanitarian needs, al-Hamwi said Damascus had a plan "which includes around 100 projects covering various vital sectors".

The UN has been appealing to the regime for months to allow access to civilians in areas affected by the conflict, claiming more than 4 million people have been displaced inside the country. Last week, Damascus turned down an appeal by the Red Cross to reach those trapped in the besieged town of Qusayr.

However, Al-Hamwi "pointed out the great burden Syria is shouldering in terms of meeting needs and tackling challenges caused by targeting infrastructure".

Kurds v. Insurgents in the North

Claimed footage of Kurdish fighters retaking villages near Efrin from insurgents --- local militia have been fighting elements of the insurgency, including the Free Syrian Army, for weeks:

UN to Russia on Offer of Peacekeeping Troops: Thanks, But No Thanks

The United Nations said on Friday that it cannot accept Russia's offer to replace peacekeepers from Austria in the Golan Heights, because an agreement between Israel and Syria bars permanent members of the Security Council from the UN mission.

The UN expressed appreciation for Moscow's statement, made on Friday by President Vladimir Putin after Austria said it would recall its 380 troops from the 1000-strong monitoring force in the demilitarised zone between Syria and Israel-occupied territory.

The UN is asking others in the force, notably the Philippines and India, to increase their troop contributions and is looking at the possibility of new countries sending troops, while asking the Austrians to slow down their departure.


The Violations Documentation Center reports that 62,973 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since March 2011, an increase of 124 from Friday. Of the deaths, 48,630 were civilians, a rise of 65 from yesterday.

          Happiness on the Horizon: New Year’s Eve Drops and Celebrations        

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh drops the Future of Pittsburgh Ball after a six-hour celebration sprawls downtown’s renowned 14-block Cultural District—inside theaters, galleries and unique spaces, and along city streets on outdoor performance stages. This art-focused family-friendly New Year’s Eve party features 150 events at nearly 50 indoor and outdoor locations. Pittsburgh’s vibrant arts community ring in the New Year with live music, dance, theater, visual arts, comedy, magic, kids’ activities, and a signature parade along with two Zambelli Fireworks displays at 6 p.m. and midnight.

Dillsburg’s 23rd Annual New Year’s Eve Pickle Drop

23rd Annual New Year's Eve Pickle Drop
at Dillsburg, York.

Dillsburg’s 23rd Annual New Year’s Eve Pickle Drop offers activities for all ages on New Year’s Eve, culminating with the famous pickle drop at midnight on the square, followed by fireworks. Enjoy entertainment from a magician, a caricaturist, and balloon artists as you wait for the pickle to fall. A Baby Pickle Drop at 7 p.m. ensures that even the little ones with early bed times can take part in the fun!

First Night® Bethlehem

For a truly one-of-a-kind New Year’s Eve celebration, First Night® Bethlehem “peeps â€ with pride. Held at the iconic SteelStacks, the celebration features a wide variety of music and art before a signature Marshmallow Peep® travels down toward the excited crowd, to ring in the New Year.

Lebanon's Annual New Year's Eve Bologna Drop

It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve in Central Pennsylvania without the famous Pennsylvania Dutch bologna descending from the sky in its namesake county. Join the excitement in Lebanon as crowds count down the seconds with the famous 16-foot Lebanon Bologna coming to a stop at the stroke of midnight.

The Raven's New Year's Celebration

Bring in 2017 in style at The Raven in New Hope. This award-winning restaurant is known for its fabulous music and the best drinks in town. Purchase tickets for the New Year celebration that includes a four-course dinner. Keep the night rolling with comedian Julie Goldman from Bravo’s The People’s Couch and Vanderpump Rules After Show.

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45578 thumb Thu, Aug 10 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45579 thumb Fri, Aug 11 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45580 thumb Mon, Aug 14 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45581 thumb Tue, Aug 15 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45582 thumb Wed, Aug 16 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45583 thumb Thu, Aug 17 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45584 thumb Fri, Aug 18 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45585 thumb Mon, Aug 21 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45586 thumb Tue, Aug 22 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45587 thumb Wed, Aug 23 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          Art Exhibit: The Outsiders        
45588 thumb Thu, Aug 24 08:30 AM until 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Anne Hartmann, Judith Pettingell, Ann Semprebon who love painting outdoors: landscape scenes, flowers, and gardens are favorite subjects.
Location: 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH

          CYAN in Egypt, finally!        
What a warm thrill it is to have a pretty good net connection to read all the emails, FB messages, and Blog comments realizing that so many folks at home and abroad were thinking about us...I keep getting misty eyed!

We are doing very well now, and reached Egypt after the improvished Sudan but still 120 miles to go north before we can leave our boat at a marina in Hurghada and see the ancient sights in Egypt...and PLAY as our reward for all this past stress. Ahhh, hotels!

We had to stop just south of our goal in Hurgada, Egypt because the wind always comes head on from the north and it just got too strong to go forward into it So on Sunday, 9 boats all pulled into a resort marina in Port Ghalib [25 deg 32 min N, 34 deg 38min E] but no laundry or food shopping but they have a TGIFridays!!! I haven't gone out to dinner in months, it seems....Yemem didn't was just sustenance!

Plenty of water here to wash 3 months of dirt and salt off the boat...unbelievable grunge!!

This resort here is empty due to the revolution and unrest here...or whatever happened in Egypt...we aren't sure but we think it's over now. When we do get to travel it should be uncrowded and cheaper. We expect to go thru the Suez Canal in about a month then revel in our sailing in the Med and seeing old friends in Turkey who came thru last year.

We expect todock in Cyprus in the fall [but things can change] where a new marina gave us a super cheap deal to leave the boat over next winter. We can easily fly to Lebanon and Israel during cold weather. But before that, during this coming summer, we plan to sail in Turkey and maybe to Croatia where we hear it's beautiful and not too expensive.

We may sell the boat in the Med...maybe a 25% chance if there is interest...but will probably sail to US in one year from this December as soon as hurricane season is over. All depends on how expensive Europe is and if we are still doing well.

This whole ordeal was the most severe thing we have ever done and it's such a relief to have it over and get back to normal life...or what goes for normal for us. You all will never know how much these thoughts meant to us during the trying times we have had.

We still pray for the family in captivity in Somalia from Denmark and for the relatives of our friends on Quest.

          International Festival of the Amazigh Culture - Program Update        
logo fondation esprit de fès sais logoAF[2]

The International Festival of the Amazigh Culture

13th Edition

Merinides Hotel, Fès

International Festival of Amazigh Culture in Fez July 14-16
Douzi, Senhaji and Tiskat sing love and brotherhood
From 14 to 16 July, the city of Fez will host the thirteenth edition of the International Festival of Culture Amazigh under the theme "Amazighity and cultural diversity confronting extremism". Numerous Moroccan and European artists will take part in this edition, including  Abdelhafid Douzi, the star of classical Amazigh song Hadda Ouakki, Moroccan singer Ibtissam Tiskat, Saïd Senhaji, Aïcha Tachinouite, Hassan El Berkanai, Italian artist Laura Conti, in addition to the star of Flamenco dance Monica Arrabal and other musical and artistic activities.
The forum will provide an opportunity for experts, researchers and civil society actors to discuss current issues related to peace, dialogue and cultural diversity and its role in addressing all forms of extremism, and in the consolidation of democracy, coexistence, tolerance and the culture of solidarity.
At the same time, the festival will organize workshops on storytelling, painting, as well as poetry readings and art exhibitions, and book and carpet exhibits.
During the opening ceremony of the festival, which will take place on Friday 14 July afternoon, a vibrant tribute will be paid to Mr. Mohamed Kabbaj Founding President of the Fez-Sais Association and the Spirit of Fez Foundation, and a tribute will be paid to the thinker Ahmed El Khamlichi, director of Dar Al Hadith Al Hassania, and to the eminent Belgian-Moroccan writer Issa Aït Belize, in recognition of their many praiseworthy contributions to social and cultural development of Morocco. In the evening in Bab Makina, three concerts will be held, including that of Aicha Tachinouite, the Catalan group Monica Arrabal and Said Senhaji.
Many writers, thinkers, and researchers will participate in this great cultural event, namely Jean-Marie Simon, France, Saad Eddine Ibrahim of Egypt, Alfonso de Toro of Germany, Roberto Tonini of Italy, Hubert Haddad of France, Nizar Abdelkader (Lebanon), Michael Willis (Great Britain), Johan Goud (Netherlands), Ahmed Assid, Abdelkader Benali, Mohammed Taifi, Mohammed Nedali (Morocco) and many more!
All in all, this thirteenth edition of the Fez Festival of Amazigh culture will be rich and varied, and a good opportunity for all the young people and the inhabitants of the Fes-Meknes region, to enjoy the highlights of the Festival: debates and music concerts in the heart of the medina of Fez, an imperial and marvellous historical city.

Programme of the Forum

Amazighity and Cultural Diversity Confronting Extremisms

Friday, July 14

17:00:   Arrival of participants
17:30:   Opening of the Forum and the Festival  
             Opening remarks

19:00 Tribute to the Honourable:  Mohammed Kabbaj, Ahmed El Khamlichi, and
           Issa Ait Belize

18: 30   Keynote 1: «The Weaving of languages" (in French)
                                    Hubert Haddad (Writer)

19:20 Reception and a Tour of Expositions

Saturday, July 15

9:00 – 9:30
Room 1

              Keynote 2:   Criticism of Extreme Reason
                                       Maati  Kabbal (Institute of The Arab World, Paris)
                                         Moderator: Fatima Sadiqi
9 :30 – 10 :30
Room 1

First Session:      Insights on Some Apects of the Amazigh Culture in North Africa
                                  Moderator: Issa Aït Belize

Jilali Saib (Moha