Tuesday, August 31, 2004
I wish he would stay away from dirty partisan politics and just make us laugh.
اللافتات الجديدة تحتوي على عبارا
شكر وتقدير لشخص معين قدم مساعدة لطالب خدمة مما استوجب على الأخير ان يضع هذا الاعلان ليبلغ جميع الناس ان فلاناً من الناس توسط له بنجاح وحقق له بواسطته ما أراد، وبالتالي فإنه مقابل هذه الواسطة عليه ان يعلن شكره له على رؤوس الأشهاد.. وعادة ما يكون هذا الشخص نائباً دأب على تقديم خدمات الواسطة واتخاذها وسيلة لكسب الأصوات، وإما انه شخص طامح للنيابة جهز مشروعاً للترشيح في المستقبل
خوش كلام وما قصّرت القبس في لفت الانتباه لهذه العادة السيئة، ولكن ماذا عن اعلانات الشكر التي تظهر في الصحف؟ آخرها كان اعلان مخزي الاسبوع الماضي يتوسل من الشيخ صباح الأحمد التوسط في قضية ما، على الصفحة الأولى من القبس وغيرها. أكيد لن تتعرض القبس لهذه الظاهرة المشينة لأنها مصدر رزق.
ثم أين جماعات "عاداتنا وتقاليدنا" عن هذه العادة الدخيلة؟ ولا بس حاطين راسهم براس خلق الله ومزاحمينهم في وناستهم؟
والله قالها ماد م أمس
Monday, August 30, 2004
- It didn't turn right into our neighborhood. I was hoping it belonged to someone who lived nearby, يكشّخ فريجنا ويرفع سعر الأراضي
- The driver rolled down his window and threw out an empty box of Burger King fries onto the road.
I guess money doesn't get you manners...
"Many countries routinely protect historic buildings from the scourge of philistine (greedy and uncultured) developers by listing them as part of their national heritage. But in Britain, where three grades of protection of buildings already exist, a fourth, more radical, category has been proposed: Grade X, to be attributed to buildings that deserve to be torn down."
"Surprisingly, perhaps, the idea is being promoted by an architect, George Ferguson, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. It is also highly topical. Coming at a time when big-name architects are enjoying more power and prestige than in decades, his initiative reflects a healthy recognition that what looks great today may be considered an eyesore tomorrow."
Boy, do we have a bunch of those eyesores here in Kuwait, so let's do a quick survey. Which building(s) would you like to see demolished as soon as possible, and why?
I feel bad talking about it today, since I've already gone to 2 condolences so far this week, with 2 more to go الله يعدّي الأسبوع على خير, but here goes... Once again, we men have it better than the women because when we go to a diwania to pay our respects to the deceased's family, we're in and out so fast it doesn't take more than 3 minutes and we're done with the whole thing. My mother and sisters always envy me for this.
However, there's more to that simplicity than meets the eye, and I've noticed some weird - if not disturbing - trends:
- The amount of people descending on any diwania is proportionate to the deceased family's wealth and social standing.
- This also affects the number of distant "relatives", young and old, hanging around for 3 days at the diwania just to see and be seen. "You may have seen me here or there and not known who I was, well now you do!"
- The bigger diwanias have more rooms on the side, where the relatives can relax after being on their feet all day. It helps to sit there in a vantage point with your eye on the door, so you can catch anyone you may have important business with. Many deals are sealed at condolences. Ditto for wedding receptions.
- If the deceased is from the poor side of a wealthy family, the attendance level drops dramatically.
- Even for a 3-minute ritual, some men can't leave their mobile phones in the car.
- An increasing number of men walk in holding their mobiles and sunglasses in one hand and shaking hands with the other. They are not aware that their dishdasha has 3 pockets. I hate them!!
- Many men make a point of going in the morning during working hours just to show the world that they are masters of their own destiny and not stuck in a desk job with the rest of the "working class". Others actually do have time to spare.. in spades!
- The afternoon condolences are the reserve of the young and energetic, who don't take 2-hour naps after lunch.
- Parking laws are thrown out the window, especially at diwanias located on main ring roads.
- If you have the police organizing traffic and parking at your condolences, it means you are one hell of a bigshot. Ditto for your son's wedding reception.
Shi'a condolences usually take place in a mosque or "husseiniya", which kind of makes sense since they are places of worship. It can take up to 10 minutes to be done with the ritual there, because most of them are so vast that you need time to walk and find a seat after you're done offering your condolences to the family of the deceased. They are also more generous in that they offer water and tea or coffee, ما عندهم بخل النجادة والعياذ بالله
. One is also obliged to listen to a few passages from the Qur'an, usually from a stereo system, before leaving.
As for عزاء الشيوخ Al-Sabah condolences , I've always found them awkward. A huge room in the diwan with everybody from the family you can think of, whether related closely to the deceased or not. I never understood that. And because the room is packed with men receiving condolences, there is no room to sit, intentionally I assume. And then there's that awkward "holding room", which reminds me of planes circling over Heathrow waiting for instructions to land. You are held there with a bunch of people until somebody gives you the green light to go in. I should add that I hear the Al-Sabah family is the only ruling family in the Gulf that actually goes to pay respects and offer condolences to the country's families. Apparently - and correct me if I'm wrong - the other Gulf ruling families can't be bothered.
As a general rule, I only go to these things if I know someone directly related to the deceased. I myself have been on the receiving end a few times so I know how much this gesture is appreciated and reciprocated.
Oh, and I only go to the cemetery in winter.. never in summer, unless it's for really close friends and family.
This year? Nothing, nada, zip, zilch! I tried my best to watch and even though the calibre of talent this year was much much higher, with some truly amazing voices, I just couldn't get into it. I didn't even know the final was last night until I read about it in today's papers!!
So, the Libyan singer with the overdone "bedhead" haircut won. I'm happy for him. When was the last time we saw anything good come out of Libya? I'm sure there are countless talented people there from all walks of life, but with a "loony tunes" president like Qaddafi hogging the spotlight, how could they possibly shine?
It seems England has had it's wettest summer in almost 50 years!!.
I don't know about you, but when I go anywhere on vacation, I demand blue skies and nonstop relentless sunshine at any temperature. Well..up to 30 degrees celsius, otherwise why bother leaving? It's bad enough London is so outrageously expensive and mostly overpriced, we don't need nonstop rain in the summer to make it worse!
Sunday, August 29, 2004
The company rep urged us to order soon to get the order of cards to arrive before October 1st. Why, I hear you ask? You won't believe this but apparently there's an order from airport customs banning the importing of playing cards as of October and throughout Ramadan because playing cards are حرام!!
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. My head started pounding, I thought I was going to pass out. But Mad M tells me it's been this way since the 1990's! Playing cards are banned year round because they're afraid of Playboy bunny cards or Tarot cards being imported into Kuwait. Go figure...
Most of you will only snicker and laugh at this story, and that's what pisses me off the most. I, for one, am not taking this matter lightly at all, and I asked the company rep for a copy of the letter he got from customs and I'm going to send it to the papers and make a big noise about it!
Saturday, August 28, 2004
I had never EVER been to Kubbar Island until last Thursday, as a fortunate guest on some friends' boat. All of my countless island excursions over the past decade have only been to Um El-Maradem أم المرادم or Garoh or even the little sand bar across from Ras Al-Zour, a.k.a الحالة .
For years I kept hearing my cousins rave about Kubbar even though they're geographically closer to the other islands. So I always thought it was something special. But to tell the truth, if I had been blind-folded and taken by boat I would not have been able to tell the difference between Kubbar and Um El Maradem. And it wasn't as green as that picture above, or maybe because it had been scorched by the hot summer sun.
And where was the notorious party scene everyone keeps talking about? Sure there were a few Westerners in bikinis, but big f--king deal!
Anyway, this doesn't mean I won't go again or that I won't accept any future invitations to Kubbar. Just tell me when and I'll be at the marina faster than you can say "Anchors Away! "
Friday, August 27, 2004
And yet some of you - you know who you are! - will think I'm just bragging.
Well I'm not, so there!
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Yet another way to share my wit and wisdom (hey, and yours too!) with your friends and loved ones!
I loved this article from the New York Times (free registration required) about how the unpredictable shuffle function in the iPod has transformed the way we listen to music. It tells some funny stories of a guy who had a dinner party at his home and decided to let his iPod take control of the music, and when Guns & Roses was followed by Elton John everybody laughed at him. Or another guy who was getting "intimate" with his girlfriend and had the mood ruined when his iPod started blasting the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." Some others think that their iPod is reading their mind and knows what to play when!!
I now have just over 1900 tracks on my iPod and it's so much fun driving along with the iPod on shuffle because I end up with the White Stripes followed by Fairuz followed by U2 followed by Madonna followed by David Bowie followed by Abdel-Halim followed by Led Zeppelin followed by.... well, you get the drift.
I'd love to go a long road trip and just keep my iPod on shuffle and not touch it at all just to keep myself entertained and guessing what's coming next..
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
- Abdul-Latif Al-Duaij on the Human Rights Association
- Hassan Al-Essa with his usual blistering style
- Ahmad Al-Sarraf on the ridiculous أنت حب الأكوان campaign.
- Ali Al-Baghli on the Islamists attacking a college professor for including a book by Khalifa Al-Wegayan in her curriculum
- Emad Al-Saif on a dark period in Kuwait's history that I would rather forget.
I have it on good authority that the broadcast of women's beach volleyball from the Athens Olympics on KTV3 was a deliberate setup to get minister AbulHassan in trouble with the Islamists, who had previously objected to the showing of all women's athletics even before the games began. The previous minister still has his crooked and unqualified appointees working at the ministry whose main job is to make life miserable for the current minister.
Apparently, there are 4 different live TV feeds from Athens showing a variety of games at any given time. Stations choose the feed they want according to audience research, demographics, what the boss wants to see that day, and any number of reasons. KTV3 clearly had the choice to go with live boxing that day, but my sources tell me that the person in charge deliberately switched the feed to women's beach volleyball in all their bikini-clad glory, and left the control room for several hours and could not be reached.
On Tuesday morning, Islamist MP Awwad Barad expressed his outrage over this so-called moral travesty, and just minutes ago KTV3 was still showing women's beach volleyball. The Islamists plan to raise the issue in parliament - as if other more important issues have all been solved - with their usual questions for the minister. They intend to show that regional TV stations all showed the boxing match live from Athens at the same time that KTV3 showed "women in bikinis jiggling their boobs on the beach".
I think this whole dirty setup is outrageous, and I even though I'm disappointed with the minister, he still doesn't deserve any of this!
Suddenly I feel like Matt Drudge!
I'll try to post this again in Arabic tomorrow morning. I'm off to bed now..
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
I know people keep bitching about it all the time, but imagine life without it. It's now part of Kuwait's radio landscape, for better or worse. And if I, the music snob, can tell you that it's not as bad as you think - with a straight face! - then it really isn't that bad. Yes, the DJ's are annoying and they repeat the same crap every day, but that's what commercial radio is like all over the world. Tune in when the DJs aren't on the air and it can actually be quite enjoyable by virtue of the sheer variety of music styles alone. The fact that it also managed to escape the Islamists' dirty hands is an amazing achievement, and is reason enough for us to support it!
Of course, on its 10th anniversary, I must salute the visionary Minister of Information at the time, Sheikh Saud Nasser Al-Sabah, who was the driving force behind its creation and the modernization of Kuwait TV after the invasion. Sadly, Sheikh Saud's work went unfinished when the Islamists called for his head on a platter for allowing some obscure book that they didn't approve of to be sold at the annual Book Fair.
And yet, I don't think Sheikh Saud would've suffered this fate if he had the "proper support", but that's another story for another time...
Red-hot Lebanese sexpot/singer Nancy Ajram arrives in Kuwait tomorrow for a private concert/party. The only reason this is news for me is that she's here in August, which is not traditionally "party season" in Kuwait. Not on this scale anyway..
The best thing about it is that Tabtabai and his "homies" can't do anything to stop her!
Now whose party will she be at? Why August? Maybe the host عليه منع سفر ?
Inquiring minds want to know!
Monday, August 23, 2004
"The Republicans have been brilliant; they have fantastic discipline, and they have an absolutely dog-loyal base that will vote for them no matter what happens. So they only have to add on the margins to win. The Democrats, at this point, they don?t really have a base anymore. They need to target their message like the Republicans do, so they solidify their constituency. If they do that, the numbers are on their side."
Hmmm.... Now where have we seen this trend before? Looks familiar, doesn't it?
After you read the interview, go back and imagine that the author is talking about Kuwait and replace the word "Republicans" with "Islamists", and then replace the word "Democrats" with "Kuwaiti Liberals"
And there, in a nutshell, is the problem facing progressive and liberal forces (if you can even call them that) in Kuwait: The lack of a clear message, and the lack of any grass-roots organization.
The Islamists only have to put the fear of God into the people to get them to follow like sheep and vote for them. What do the Liberals have to offer? A better Kuwait? Does anyone really care about a better Kuwait if the Islamists say we're all going to burn in hell anyway?!
أخيراً.. منّت الحكومة علينا بإشهار الجمعية الكويتية لحقوق الانسان، ومن طرف خشمها كأنها مالها خلق. جاء هذا الإشهار بعد لبحة ومذلّة ونشفة ريج لكن ما يهم.. العوض ولا القطيعة
طبعاً ما أن صدر قرار الإشهار حتى تقدم نائب كيفان (شفيكم يا أهل كيفان؟!) الفلتة وليد الطبطبائي بهذا التصريح الناري بعد أن رحب بالإشهار أيضاً من طرف خشمه هو الآخر
أن تخص الحكومة تيارا ما بالترخيص والدعم دون تيارات اخرى فهذا غير عادل وغير صحي سياسيا وقانونيا ووطنيا... واضاف ان الجمعية التي رخصت لها الحكومة اليوم ? متورطة ايديولوجيا مع التوجه العلماني التغريبي في البلاد وكانت تضع توقيعها مع كل بيان تصدره المجموعات العلمانية ويتضمن هجوما سياسيا على تيارات اخرى ولا سيما الاسلامية منها?، وتابع ?ولا ادل على هذه الصبغة الايديولوجية للجمعية من انها لم تحرك ساكنا امام الشكاوى التي صدرت من عشرات من المواطنين حول تجاوزات بعض عناصر الامن ضدهم خلال الاعتقالات الاخيرة التي شهدتها البلاد ضمن ما سمي بشبكة الجهاد في العراق، وهو ما يدل على التوجه السياسي اللا انساني للجمعية?.
المضحك المبكي أن وليد الطبطبائي رئيس لجنة حقوق الإنسان في المجلس الخمّة بينما هو أبعد ما يكون عن مفاهيم حقوق الإنسان التي لا تعرف لا حزب ولا طائفة
بعدين شعليك من العلمانيين؟ جماعتك متورطة ايديولوجيا مع التوجه الطالباني التكفيري ولا أحد قال لكم "تلت التلاتة كم". تركوكم تعيثون في الأرض فساداً وتدمرون الأجيال القادمة بسحركم وشعوذتكم وتفكيركم المتخلف. ماذا تريدون أكثر من ذلك؟
وبعد كل هذا الأخ وليد يرحب!! روح زين انت وترحيبك، لا بارك الله فيك ولا في من صوّتلك!
Sunday, August 22, 2004
This week I'm in an soulful old school mood..
- Aretha Franklin - 30 Greatest Hits: Surely one of the greatest voices of the 20th century. This is a collection of her late 60's and early 70's hits, when her voice was at its peak. Many of today's female R&B vocalists simply scream their lungs out, sometimes off-key, just to show off their pipes. They could all learn from Aretha how it's done right. She IS the Queen of Soul!
- Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life: Before the crime against humanity that was "I just called to say I love you", from which he never recovered, Stevie Wonder's songs were tough, political, soulful and beautiful. This double-disc album is his undoubted masterpiece.
- Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill: A classic hip-hop epic with old school soul that will sound timeless forever. Of course, this was before she went batshit and disappeared into some cult.
"Representatives from the programme posed as consultants acting for clients with business interests in east London who wanted the games to come to London. The men who say they can help secure these votes are veteran Olympic insiders: professional agents who, in the past, have been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds by previous bid cities to help get IOC votes. These men have connections to influential figures within the IOC. All claim they have already been approached for their services by cities bidding for the 2012 Games."
Well guess what? One of the men appearing in the program is none other than Kuwait's representative, a Mr. Abdul-Muttalib Ahmed (never heard of him either). Here's the conversation that took place, excerpted from the full transcript of the program:
Meanwhile, our cover company, New London Ventures, had finally managed to get through to the most interesting agent of them all, a man who works at the very heart of the Olympic movement, the Kuwaiti Muttaleb Ahmad. He is the Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia, the governing body of all amateur sports on the continent. The OCA runs Asia's biggest sporting event, the Asian Games, it is at the centre of the Olympic world too. It's part funded by the IOC itself. Mr Ahmad wanted us to come and see him at the Olympic council of Asia's headquarters here in Kuwait. We knew he'd worked as an agent before.
Mr Ahmad, how are you?
AHMAD: How are you?
ROWLATT: Very well indeed. Good to meet you. The Director General was paid $62,000 by Salt Lake City. He told us that the reforms brought in after the scandal meant Olympic bid business has to be conducted with discretion.
KUWAITI MUTTALEB AHMAD: Look we have to be extremely, extremely careful with this now with those.. what you call? Code of ethics that the IOC have. There is a thin line that you can still go parallel but sometimes you think that all the IOC members whose extremely cautious because he think he will step on toes. So you need persons who know that IOC member very closely to talk with him about it.
ROWLATT: Mr Ahmad confirmed that many of those who accepted gifts and benefits at Salt Lake City are still on the IOC, some in senior positions.
AHMAD: I would say 70% are still there.
AHMAD: Yes, of those who supposed to be? if you have say 20 people who are on the take ? and there were more ? The ones that are caught, it's only a few.
ROWLATT: A fraction. So you think 70% of the ones who took things are still there?
AHMAD: Oh yes. Yes.
ROWLATT: The Director General offered to use his connections to try and set up meetings with the 23 Asian IOC members.
AHMAD: You have to approach the IOC members not necessarily with an official appointment because they'd shy away from that.
AHMAD: They are not allowed to do it.
ROWLATT: But you could facilitate that.
AHMAD: Of course. Yes.
ROWLATT: So we would have a back door way.. we could go back to our client and say we can meet some of the IOC officials.
ROWLATT: He told us that at least one of the Asian IOC members is already planning to vote for London, his boss at the Olympic Council of Asia.
AHMAD: Sheikh, automatically, he is going to London. We don?t really invest anything about that, okay?
ROWLATT: He will vote for London. He told us he wouldn't pay anyone himself.
AHMAD: I always shy away from clearly giving cash, I don?t do this, okay? I advise that this guy is in need and you.. your assistant has to go to.. I don?t act like that, you know.
AHMAD: Because I have my payment and I respect that jurisdiction, I don?t go beyond that.
ROWLATT: Consultant payment, yeah.
AHMAD: It's not that I carry cash for anybody.
ROWLATT: The director general told us about one IOC member who still
appreciates a direct approach.
AHMAD: There is the guy from XXX that person, you give him money, he will take the money still, even with those guidelines. But?
HOWARD: Sorry, he would take money to vote?
AHMAD: Yeah, but I wouldn't say it's from London. I talk to him, that this is the attitude of my boss and the OCA and our interests, we have a communication with them, and if this goes to London we'll be better off etc ..and he will be convinced.
ROWLATT: Since that meeting a spokesman for Sheikh Ahmad, El-Fahad,
El-Sabar told Panorama he had not decided which city to vote for, and it was a
decision he would never disclose. Panorama asked Mr Ahmad to comment on
what he'd told New London Ventures. He did not respond to our
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... Is it any wonder we're in such a mess?!
Knock yourselves out with this one!
بداية أود أن أهنئ المنخب العراقي على وصوله إلى الدور قبل النهائي لمسابقة كرة القدم ضمن دورة الألعاب الأولمبية في أثينا، فقد خرج من بطش أولاد صدام إلى الأوضاع العصيبة التي تمر فيها العراق منذ نهاية الحرب ومع ذلك استطاع أن يحقق هذا الانجاز التاريخي.
ولعل في هذا الإنجاز عبرة "لطايح الحظ" منتخبنا الأزرق والقائمين عليه "طايحين الحظ أيضاً"، فها هو المنتخب العراقي يصل إلى هذه النتيجة المشرفة دون تدليل أو تدخل أو استغلال من أطراف متنازعة لأهداف سياسية، ودون وفد سياحي مرافق
...خلف الله علينا
In countries where the food supply has been unstable, people are getting fat despite far less abundance than in the United States. The implication? Newly industrialized nations in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America may develop even higher rates of obesity-related health problems than in the U.S."
You can barely see Kuwait on the map but if you look closely, you will see that we are on a par with the USA on the obesity scale. Leave it to us to pick up the bad habits of developed nations and ignore the good.
So... how much do YOU weigh?
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Now maybe I'm out of touch, but I didn't know we had youth hostels here, only overpriced hotels with no mini-bars. And I never imagined Kuwait as a destination for young backpackers, the traditional hostel customers. I know there are hundreds of backpackers who pass through the airport on their way to India, Thailand and other exotic destinations, but since our visa regulations have supposedly been relaxed, does this mean they can now come into town and get a good night's sleep before they continue their journey? It sure beats being trapped inside Kuwait Airport where all they have is that awful cafeteria, while all the "fun stuff" and food outlets are conveniently located outside for everybody except actual travellers (see Mad M2000's post).
But wouldn't it be fun to see hippy backpackers roaming the streets of Kuwait? That would certainly freak out a lot of people! Some might decide to stay behind and open up a holistic aromatherapy spa, or sell beads and draw henna tatoos on the beach, or play their guitars at the entrance to Marina Mall, or...... yeah whatever.
Friday, August 20, 2004
I'm wiped out now and I see you've been busy commenting all weekend. We'll catch up tomorrow morning.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
I was out running errands all day in the sun, from one government bureaucracy to the next. Of course, I had no clue what I was doing; just following "instructions" from various ministry employees to go from this room to that, get this paper and make copies and have it signed by this or that person...etc.
At one point, some guy at a counter asked me what I was there for and I snapped at him that I had no idea because none of your rules and requirements make any sense and please don't waste my time or yours explaining them to me because I will never be able to accept anything that defies logic and common sense!!
I'm told I could've sent a "mandoob" in my place, but I guess I'm a glutton for punishment! It's also a chance to see first-hand what many of us rarely experience in our comfortable lives. The "mandoob" industry must be raking in the cash, profiting off people's misery and the mind-boggling, logic-defying bureaucratic nightmare that is our country.
Whenever I experience something like this, my first instinct is to ask who could be benefiting from this mess and who has an interest in keeping things the way they are with no improvement, because when you think about it an efficient government would put many crooked people out of business; here's how:
- Mandoobs and the offices that employ them would go bust. Look for the owners and you will see what I mean.
- Getting rid of excess unproductive staff would mean less votes for corrupt MPs, because they would be owed no favors from the armies of voting imbeciles currently taking up space in the ministries.
- With corrupt MPs voted out, who can the government depend on to look the other way while it messes things up?
- Finally, where would we be without our beloved "wasta" to get things done? It's part of our national identity!!
As they say in France... plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose! - the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
طرشنا 5 أو 6 رياضيين إلى أثينا، لكن معاهم 100 مرافق. ممكن أحد يفهمني ليش 100؟ شنو فايدتهم غير مصاريف على الفاضي بما فيها مصرف البشوت؟
إلى متى هذه المهازل؟ وكيف يسمح لمائة من هؤلاء المرتزقة والحاشية "والفداوية" بمرافقة وفد رياضي لا يمت لهم بصلة؟! لو كان هناك أدنى احتمال لفوز أي من رياضيينا بأي ميدالية لهان الأمر، بل لوجدنا الكثير من الكويتيين الشرفاء يقضون اجازتهم في أثينا لتشجيع اللاعبين أبناء هذا البلد الطيب المظلوم من أهله، لكن منين يا حسرة؟ ليس لدينا وقت للنهوض بالشباب والرياضة لأن دروس "عذاب القبر" أهم بكثير
أتمنى لو يطلعنا أحد على مدى انتظام أو عدم انتظام حضور أعضاء الوفد المرافق للألعاب الرياضية، حتى على الأقل الألعاب التي يشارك فيها وفدنا. بس أنا متأكد أن غالبيتهم ما يدرون عن شيء
لكن لا بأس... ما وقفت على هذه
Depending on how it all turns out, you should either award me a lifetime achievement medal or hang me from the nearest tree!
Monday, August 16, 2004
I will keep the survey up on the blog till this coming weekend then I'll remove it and tally the votes, even though I'm not holding my breath for a last-minute surge in voting. So far, the majority of voters have asked for a bi-lingual blog and that's what I personally predicted. I have no problem doing a bi-lingual blog, or even a full Arabic one, since I am fortunately just as literate in Arabic.
My only problem is that my Arabic typing is not as good or as fast as my English typing which I can now do without even looking at the keyboard, just like a good secretary! Blogger supports Arabic text but it's still awkward and the fonts are all weird. I like this blog Moodless because it's fully functional in Arabic and the fonts look great, but I'm betting it wasn't done with Blogger.
Is TypePad any better for Arabic blogs? Will it import an existing Blogger blog into its setup? Tell me!
The one thing I'm enjoying is the variety of opinions, posts and comments to be found on Kuwaiti blogs. I used to visit some of them and think "damn, I wish I had thought of that!, but I don't anymore because there is so much to talk about that no single blog will be able to cover everything.
However, I sincerely hope this won't be yet another passing Kuwaiti fad or "habba", this season's "must-have"hip accessory... You will find days when you're just not in the mood and may even suffer "blogger burnout". I certainly did at one point, and you can see the missing months in my archives as proof. If you feel you need a break, by all means take it. Do not feel obliged to post something just to maintain your presence, and don't get pressured by your hungry audience if you are fortunate enough to build one.
Just keep on bloggin' at your own comfortable pace and keep up the good work!
Sunday, August 15, 2004
I will reprint the column here in its entirety since it's so good and because I can't trust most of you to look for Al-Qabas and read it!!
إذا هذي الإمارات.. شلون إحنا؟ عبد اللطيف الدعيج
نشر الزميل احمد البغدادي ما يقول انه ملاحظات لإحدى لجان المناهج والتدريس في دولة الامارات على طرق تدريس ومنهج التربية الاسلامية هناك، ونعرض هنا نص الملاحظات، كما نشرت في الزميلة السياسة أولاً: إن منهج التربية الاسلامية تسوده درجة عالية من الارتجال والعشوائية. ثانيا: ان هذا المنهج يشتمل على قيم يهدم بعضها بعضا. ثالثا: يقوم المنهج على انتاج عقلية غير مبدعة تفتقر الى قدرات التفكير والنقد، وتقتصر على مجرد الحفظ والاستيعاب السلبي. رابعاً: انه منهج يؤدي الى إحداث اختلالات عقلية او تشوهات نفسية عند الناشئة. خامساً: انه منهج يقوم على الوعظ والخطاب العاطفي الزاعق المستنفر دائماً. سادسا: انه منهج يغيب بالكلية عن الواقع المعاصر وقضاياه. سابعاً: انه منهج تغلب عليه العقلية الفقهية. ثامنا: انه منهج ذكوري يركز على دور الرجل، ويتجاهل الى حد كبير قضايا المرأة ودورها. تاسعا: انه منهج يتجاهل القضايا المعاصرة انتهت والحمد لله ملاحظات اللجنة الاماراتية.. والسؤال هنا ماذا لو شكلت لجنة محايدة هنا واستعرضت مناهج وطرق تدريس التربية الدينية؟ في دولة الامارات يؤدي تدريس التربية الاسلامية الى اختلالات عقلية وتشوهات نفسية.. ترى الى ماذا يؤدي التدريس هنا، وهو يشتمل اول ما يشتمل على عذاب القبر واهوال يوم القيامة!في دولة الامارات التي ليس فيها جمعيات خيرية في كل ناصية هذا هو حال التعليم الديني... ترى كيف حاله هنا؟ في دولة الامارات التي ليس فيها بورمية وعكاش والطبطبائي تهدم قيم التعليم بعضها بعضا، في دولة الامارات حيث لا سلف ولا اخوان ولا ثوابت امة يمتلئ منهج التربية الاسلامية بالعواطف والزعيق، في دولة الامارات التي تُحلل فيها الحفلات والخمر واللهو بشتى انواعه يتجاهل منهج التربية الاسلامية قضايا العصر، في دولة الامارات التي ليس فيها وزراء يرتعشون من طبول او بالكويتي دنابك مجلس الامة يسود منهج التربية الاسلامية الارتجال والعشوائية. في دولة الامارات التي ليس فيها، من ضوابطنا الاعلامية الثلاثة عشر، ضابط او حتى شرطي واحد يُنتج منهج التربية الدينية عقلية غير مبدعة تفتقد القدرة على التفكير. في دولة الامارات التي استبقت حكومتها الارهاب، وسنت قوانين مبكرة لمنعه وحصاره يُحول منهج التدريس خلق الله الى مجانين، وفي احسن الاحوال ببغاوات تردد ما لاتستوعب او تفهم.. في الكويت التي تغض حكومتها النظر عن النشاط الارهابي، واحياناً تشجعه وتحميه ترى الى ماذا يؤدي تدريس التربية الاسلامية!! سؤال: نتمنى من صاحب الفكر الاستراتيجي الممتد الى 2025 الاجابة عنه. بالمناسبة وزير التربية اعلن اثناء الاستعراض الحكومي ان عنده استراتيجية تعليمية تمتد حتى عام 2025 بعدها اعلن انه سيتم تطوير المناهج وطرق التدريس.. أُمّته..؟ السنة اللي تحج فيها البقر على قرونها والا بعد سنة2025 يعني ربع قرن الا شوي، ايضا سؤال مطلوب من العبقري اللي كثف دروس التربية الدينية في المدارس الخاصة الاجابة عنه
Forgot to mention that before I, Robot started at the Marina Mall "Multiplex", we were treated to a few previews (The Terminal, The Ladykillers etc.) including a trailer for a silly little teen movie called "Love Don't Cost a Thing" starring singer Christina Milian as a cheerleader. Needless to say, the trailer was butchered beyond belief with all kisses and raunchy cheerleader routines cut out.
So why bother in the first place? KNCC should just stick to action movies and be done with it!
By the way, I also forgot to mention in my playlist that I like the remix of Christina Milian's Dip It Low. Very sexy track. Apparently, some Christian fundamentalist group in the US objected to the lyrics, which is reason to like it even more!!
Saturday, August 14, 2004
Here's what I'm singing along to this week:
- Shapeshifters - Lola's Theme: A fantastic summer dancefloor anthem. Crank it up and go wild!
- Fairuz - Al-Mahatta المحطة (full soundtrack): My dad (RIP) gave me this live recording of the hit musical play on cassette when I was a kid, and I've loved it ever since. I have it on CD now and it still sounds great. This is without a doubt the Rahbani Brothers' ultimate masterpiece. It's funny and sharp, and features some of Fairuz's most memorable hits.
- Rush - Time Stand Still: I never liked Rush, always thought they were overblown and pompous. Yet somehow they managed to create this gorgeous rock song in 1988 which apparently didn't resonate with their equally pompous fans. Go figure!
- Freestylers - Push Up: Another rocking party tune that I've actually heard on FM 99.7. It has a totally 80's feel to it, but it's great fun!
Can you imagine what life in Kuwait would be like with robots instead of the armies of manual laborers and maids and cooks etc.?
- For starters, we would just buy the robots and upgrade them when it's time to add new features.
- We wouldn't have to deal with visas, work permits and "iqamas" and all that bureaucratic nonsense.
- There would be no تجار إقامات making millions off of poor migrant workers.
- We wouldn't have to house them in poverty-level housing in one of the world's richest countries.
- There would be no incidents of human rights violations against migrant workers.
What else? Tell me!!
Thursday, August 12, 2004
In other sports news, Kuwaits' under 18 tennis team led by Abdullah Moqadas won the gold medal at the Arab Tennis Tournament that took place in Cairo. Here's to a bright tennis career and onto the international tennis circuit.
It's certainly a relief to see some good Kuwaiti sports news for a change. God knows our football team has been a national embarrassment. But then, should we really be surprised at the decline of sports in Kuwait when every other aspect of life in Kuwait has been on a downward spiral since the 1980's?
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
That cute little icon on the right under my profile means that the blog is now available via RSS for those of you who want to keep up with it with your RSS readers. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about: Don't worry. It's a geek thing; you wouldn't understand. I sure as hell don't!
Thanks go out to Mark for walking me through the process of setting up my blog for RSS feeds, after my cries for help went unheeded!
Maybe that's what I'll do on my next vacation.
It was painful...
I don't want to knock the purpose behind this telecast - mainly because I'm not sure what it is - but I squirmed in embarrassment watching grown men get up and present some vague plan for education up to the year 2025 (that's right folks, 2025!! it wasn't a typo!), while Sheikh Sabah listened closely and beamed at them like they were his grandchildren at a school play. Do public schools even put on plays anymore, or did the Islamists replace them with lessons about eternal damnation in hell? Anyway, 10 minutes was more than I could take so I went back to my sexy movie. Highly recommended, by the way.
Yesterday, Al-Watan's headline screamed that Sheikh Sabah had complained in the session that our curriculum hadn't changed since the days of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber (RIP). My first thought was, with all due respect, "where have you been ya Bu Nasser?!" Of course it's changed, and it's getting worse by the day, and instead of producing well-rounded students ready to be productive citizens, we have imbeciles obsessed with.... nothing!
Leave it to Abdul-Latif Al-Duaij to kick ass today and remind us that the Islamist stranglehold on education has regressed our schools back to the dark ages, and that when he was growing up in the late 50's and early 60's he had a much better education at Kuwait's public schools than most of us ever had. In fact, he wishes that the curriculum hadn't changed at all! At least Sheikh Sabah made it very clear that the teaching of religion in schools must be limited to basic interpretations of the Qur'an and the Hadith and not follow the agenda of any religious movement or sect. I just wish he enforces that, because we're so sick and tired of tough statements like that not being followed up with concrete action. And the Islamists know that too; they'll just nod in agreement with Sheikh Sabah with the usual حاضر طال عمرك and then go back to business as usual.
Also in today's Al-Qabas, Ali Al-Baghli continues along the same line of thought and calls for the government's media outlets to shake off the suffocating influence of the Islamists, who use Kuwait's TV and radio stations to preach their party agendas every day to the point where the average citizen is led to believe that it is the government's agenda as well.
The next session will be with the Minister of Disinformation. Now that's the one I want to watch! Anyone know when it's on?
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
- no money
- any money
- some money
The impostor's profile is http://www.blogger.com/profile/4162531 and of course it's disabled, whereas mine is http://www.blogger.com/profile/1321307
Somehow, I've been waiting for the day when it gets "hacked" or attacked by people with nothing better to do.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Since we've grown up in Kuwait and the Arab world on state-controlled television which functions as a mouthpiece for our governments, I could've just shrugged it off and not been so appalled. But as I've said before, we hold the USA to a much higher standard than what we apply to ourselves, and to see a powerful yet dishonest American news channel controlled by one extreme right-wing AUSTRALIAN megalomaniac, intent on distorting the truth to serve his own goals... well, it gave me the creeps!
The film was full of interviews with former Fox News employees and some current ones who insisted they remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. The film's director even managed to get hold of some truly disturbing internal memos that dictated how certain news events were to be spun in favor the Bush administration. Most shocking example: Playing down the daily killings of American soldiers in Iraq, in order to fool Americans that everything is going smoothly there so as not to hurt Bush in this election year.
Of course FOX News has every right to follow whatever agenda they like, but to present themselves as "fair and balanced" when they're anything but that, is a little hard to swallow. It's a Republican propaganda machine and should just come out and admit it. It's also very depressing that an increasing majority of Americans get their news from Fox, and that it just distorts their already limited knowledge of world affairs.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
However, I am a fan of brownies and chocolate cakes and therefore I urge you all to head to the new Chocolate Bar at Marina Crescent. I had the best brownie I can remember eating; just the right texture and sweetness. The space itself is bright (a bit too bright, actually) yet cozy, and they have a great little terrace with sofas for cooler weather.
Why I am I plugging a new establishment? Because I can!
What was the point of the broadcast in the first place? This is clearly unprecedented anywhere in the world and I truly hope it won't be a regular weekly broadcast. Parliamentary and Congressional proceedings are routinely broadcast in several countries, including Kuwait, but top-level cabinet meetings have to remain behind closed doors. In the end, it doesn't really matter if the Kuwaiti public is treated to this spectacle. The results and actions will speak for themselves.
This story is dying for a Mad M2000 cartoon treatment, don't you think?
This time it's different because Fahrenheit 9/11 is a political (yes, shamelessly biased) documentary, and because it was not banned quietly but instead was accompanied by a moronic official statement from the Ministry of Disinformation.
So it made the news, and unfairly portrayed Kuwait as a country intolerant of dissenting opinions, when anyone who reads the Kuwaiti papers knows that is not the case. Some of our own columnists have openly criticized the US, Bush, the War on Iraq... you name it, with no recourse or censorship. Our press enjoys more freedoms - relatively speaking of course - than any country in the Arab world, and yet we can't bring ourselves to show a damned movie because it "insults our friends". And which friends are these, I hear you ask? Let's see... we have a) The US itself, which could give a rat's ass whether we showed it here or not, and b) Saudi Arabia which, quite frankly, has bigger problems.
And speaking of the film's sharp - yet brief - criticism of Saudi Arabia, who are we kidding here? Newsweek had a much more damning article called "The Saudi Trap" in it's June 28 issue, and yet it was openly sold here in Kuwait's newsstands. I highly recommend the article, by the way.
Saturday, August 07, 2004
People.. our brave and controversial cartoonist is calling it quits and he cites his growing despair at the direction Kuwait is taking as his reason for quitting. He feels that his voice just isn't being heard and that his message isn't getting through.
He feels that Kuwaitis just don't care. All hell broke loose when the Islamists honed in on concerts and tried to regulate them - as if they weren't already regulated to death! - but general apathy is the rule of the day when it comes to their other assaults on our liberties, or the daylight robbery that passes for "business as usual" in this country. Everybody is an opposition figure until the government tosses them some business, and suddenly they're as quiet as sheep! He's also convinced that Kuwait is headed toward disaster and that Parliament will be dissolved soon.
I was just chatting with him on MSN and tried my best to convince him to stay the course and keep up the fight towards making Kuwait a better country. His cartoons were like a breath of fresh air because he had the guts to say what we were all thinking, but in a genuinely funny and subversive style.
Maybe you can succeed where I failed. Contact him here on his websites and talk him out of it!!
Yep... Right there on his homepage! Michael Moore may be loud and obnoxious, but there's no denying the truth in most of what he says.
And you know what? This time he's right! This isn't really a free country, and we shouldn't keep congratulating ourselves on the relative freedoms we have here compared to our desperate neighbors. There are better nations out there that we can aspire to emulate. Just pick up an atlas!
- Delays - Faded Seaside Glamour: Sixties influenced pop magic by this band from Southampton (England, not Long Island!). The lead singer's falsetto vocals are unbelievable. Almost "otherworldly".
- Bruce Springsteen - The Rising: A heartfelt opinion column by "The Boss" prompted me to fish out this awesome 2002 release and play it again in the car. LOUDLY! Especially moving are his tributes to New York City in the wake of the September 11 attacks, "My City of Ruins" and "You're Missing".
- Various Classics on the iPod: I don't know if my iPod was gauging my mood or not, but I was driving back from the beach and had it playing on random and ended up hearing classic rock tracks from Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Cream. Rock on!!
He also takes time to poke fun at the Islamists for planning their upcoming "conference" on reform and other issues. How can they call for a conference when they are the root cause of all our problems?!
I would summarize it here, but there's just so much. I also recommend reading it offline, the old fashioned way, in the newspaper.
Friday, August 06, 2004
Still, it's too little too late; that country is going to "hell in a handbasket" and I doubt limited council elections will reverse that.
But one can hope, can't one? It is a small step in the right direction, after all
The killer is that these slurs get thrown around by a variety of low-lifes and paid hacks, all of whom stand to benefit from the largesse of those in government whose existence is propped by the corrupt status quo.
When liberals criticize the government, it's because we love Kuwait and want it to be a better country because it can! Even when the criticisms are aimed directly at certain members of the Al-Sabah family, it's never out of hatred or the desire to overthrow them.. we just want them to be better people and do a better job, because it's within their power to be that and much more!
But of course, it's so much easier to maintain the status quo than to actually work to improve things. Just as it's so much easier to criticize Kuwaiti liberals than to actually listen to what they have to say..
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" ....... If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1964
What is a Kuwaiti Liberal? The word "Liberal" has long been used and abused by people as disparate as the the Islamist Forces of Darkness (the usual suspects) and others who never bothered to look up its true meaning. Just as JFK's definition has been cast aside by a majority of Americans who now equate "Liberal" with "Communist", here in Kuwait "Liberal" now equals "Amoral Heathen".
The Islamists use the word "Liberal" as a stigma to paint anyone who thinks progressively or outside their narrow focus, as a "hard-drinking party animal". And yet there are a huge number of Kuwaitis who drink like fish but do not think progressively at all. In fact they're far more likely to be just as reactionary as any Islamist. These are your standard issue Kuwaiti hypocrites. Surprised? Didn't think so.
Sadly, many actual self-described Kuwaiti "party animals" also like to assert that they are "Liberal", thus ruining it for all the well-intentioned folks who truly want Kuwait to be a better place for everybody. Liberal does NOT mean that you only drink and screw around, it means you believe in progress and moving forward. It means you look to the future while respecting your history, but without being bound to it. It means you denounce racism and sexism. It means you respect other nationalities and religions, and learn from them when you can. It means keeping your religion to yourself and not force it down people's throats. It means your religion is a spiritual guide and not the law of the land. It means believing in a true democracy where all citizens have the right to vote. It means an education system that creates productive citizens and not the religion-obsessed maniacs we have today. It means a robust economy free from the shackles of government bureaucracy and meddling. I could go on, but you get the idea..
So yes ladies and gentlemen... by the definitions I've outlined above, I'm proud to proclaim myself a proud Kuwaiti - all together now - LIBERAL!!! If it's good enough for JFK, then it's good enough for me.
بحر ... صحرا ... سور ... سورين ... ثلاثه ...
وصل مبارك ... عنده سالم ... بزغ عبدالله ... نور الدنيا ...
دستر الديره ... انتخابات ... مجلس أمه ... حرية ... انفتاح ...
ديمقراطيه ... اشتراكيه ... تزوير ... تفجير ... تجنيس ... سجن ...
عوض ... فضاله ... عبداللطيف الكويتي ... العربي ... الاذاعه ...
التلفزيون ... مسرح ... عوده المهنا ... نفط ... براميل ...
فلوس ... خرده ...
صدام ... رميله ... سحابه صيف ... إحتــلال ... علاء الدين ... تحرير ...
لندن ... ناقلات ... منقولات ... منقولين ... إختلاسات ... توارس ...
مليارات ... أمركه ... جينز ... زلوف ... مركز سلطان ... سوق شرق والفنار ...
الصالحيه ... الشويخ ... وليد ... الشامية ... الضاحيه ... عصير ...
شارع الحب ... كليه التجاره ( الاداريه ) ... مواتر ... شباب ... بنات ... احلى بنات ...
مغازل ... حب ... يمكن زواج ...
عرس ... فطومه ... القصار ... بلال الشامي ...
سالومايو ... زهور الجره ... عيد الحب ... عيد الأم ...
بدو ... حضر ... عيم ... شيعه ... سنه ... مسيحيين ...
فرعيه ... يسار ... يمين ... فوق ... تحت ... منبر ... غرفه التجاره ...
غرفه مشوره ... سلف ... اخوان ... شلون الإخوان ...
لولا كل ذلك لما صارت الكويت كويتاً ... وهم نحبها ... وبالدم نفديها
Martyrs, Virgins and Grapes
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
The virgins are calling you," Mohamed Atta wrote reassuringly to his fellow hijackers just before 9/11.
It has long been a staple of Islam that Muslim martyrs will go to paradise and marry 72 black-eyed virgins. But a growing body of rigorous scholarship on the Koran points to a less sensual paradise - and, more important, may offer a step away from fundamentalism and toward a reawakening of the Islamic world.
Some Islamic theologians protest that the point was companionship, never heavenly sex. Others have interpreted the pleasures quite explicitly; one, al-Suyuti, wrote that sex in paradise is pretty much continual and so glorious that "were you to experience it in this world you would faint."
But now the same tools that historians, linguists and archaeologists have applied to the Bible for about 150 years are beginning to be applied to the Koran. The results are explosive.
The Koran is beautifully written, but often obscure. One reason is that the Arabic language was born as a written language with the Koran, and there's growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic.
For example, the Koran says martyrs going to heaven will get "hur," and the word was taken by early commentators to mean "virgins," hence those 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant "white" and was commonly used to mean "white grapes."
Some martyrs arriving in paradise may regard a bunch of grapes as a letdown. But the scholar who pioneered this pathbreaking research, using the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg for security reasons, noted in an e-mail interview that grapes made more sense in context because the Koran compares them to crystal and pearls, and because contemporary accounts have paradise abounding with fruit, especially white grapes.
Dr. Luxenberg's analysis, which has drawn raves from many scholars, also transforms the meaning of the verse that is sometimes cited to require women to wear veils. Instead of instructing pious women "to draw their veils over their bosoms," he says, it advises them to "buckle their belts around their hips."
Likewise, a reference to Muhammad as "ummi" has been interpreted to mean he was illiterate, making his Koranic revelations all the more astonishing. But some scholars argue that this simply means he was not "of the book," in the sense that he was neither Christian nor Jewish.
Islam has a tradition of vigorous interpretation and adjustment, called ijtihad, but Koranic interpretation remains frozen in the model of classical commentaries written nearly two centuries after the prophet's death. The history of the rise and fall of great powers over the last 3,000 years underscores that only when people are able to debate issues freely - when religious taboos fade - can intellectual inquiry lead to scientific discovery, economic revolution and powerful new civilizations. "The taboos are still great" on such Koranic scholarship, notes Gabriel Said Reynolds, an Islam expert at the University of Notre Dame. He called the new scholarship on early Islam "a first step" to an intellectual awakening.
But Muslim fundamentalists regard the Koran - every word of it - as God's own language, and they have violently attacked freethinking scholars as heretics. So Muslim intellectuals have been intimidated, and Islam has often been transmitted by narrow-minded extremists.
(This problem is not confined to Islam. On my blog, I've been battling with fans of the Christian fundamentalist "Left Behind" series. Some are eager to see me left behind.)
Still, there are encouraging signs. Islamic feminists are emerging to argue for religious interpretations leading to greater gender equality. An Iranian theologian has called for more study of the Koran's Syriac roots. Tunisian and German scholars are collaborating on a new critical edition of the Koran based on the earliest manuscripts. And just last week, Iran freed Hashem Aghajari, who had been sentenced to death for questioning harsh interpretations of Islam.
"The breaking of the sometimes erroneous bonds in the religious tradition will be the condition for a positive evolution in other scientific and intellectual domains," Dr. Luxenberg says.
The world has a huge stake in seeing the Islamic world get on its feet again. The obstacle is not the Koran or Islam, but fundamentalism, and I hope that this scholarship is a sign of an incipient Islamic Reformation - and that future terrorist recruits will be promised not 72 black-eyed virgins, but just a plateful of grapes.
WASHINGTON, DC - In the interest of national security, President Bush has been asked to stop posting entries on his three-month-old personal web log, acting CIA director John E. McLaughlin said Monday.
According to McLaughlin, several recent entries on PrezGeorgeW. typepad.com have compromised military operations, while other posts may have seriously undercut the PR efforts of White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
A July 24 posting read, "Just got back from a lunch with Colin and Adil Moussa (one of Prince Saud al-Faisal's guys). Colin wants the Saudis to send some troops to Najaf?so some of the soldiers are Arab, I guess. This Moussa guy sure wears a lot of jewelry. A golden chain, a golden ring with his initials or something, and some other sparkling stuff?kinda effeminate. Anyway, best of luck in Iraq, Iyad."
McLaughlin, normally hesitant to express public disapproval of the president, said the blog was "ill-advised."
"I would hate for the president to inadvertently put American soldiers at risk," McLaughlin said. "We work hard to maintain the integrity of state secrets. When we see the president posting details of troop movements, international counter-terrorism negotiations, and even the nuclear launch codes, as he did on Monday, we have to step up and say something."
Bush said he could not understand McLaughlin's anger, characterizing his blog as a "personal thing written for friends and family or whoever" and therefore "none of the CIA's business."
Nevertheless, U.S. Secret Service director W. Ralph Basham objected to the blog, as well.
"He is compromising his safety and the safety of those in my department," Basham said, citing a post from last Thursday in which Bush revealed that he "had to go to some secret meeting with Norquist at some Marriot [sic] over in Virginia." "Someone could uncover some serious state secrets, if they took the time to wade through all of those photos he posted after he got that digital camera in June."
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait, a major U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, has banned Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" because it deems the movie insulting to the Saudi Arabian royal family and critical of America's invasion of Iraq, an official said Sunday.
"We have a law that prohibits insulting friendly nations, and ties between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are special," Abdul-Aziz Bou Dastour, cinema and production supervisor at the Information Ministry, told The Associated Press.
He said the film "insulted the Saudi royal family by saying they had common interests with the Bush family and that those interests contradicted with the interests of the American people." The ministry made the decision to bar "Fahrenheit 9/11" in mid-July after the state-owned Kuwait National Cinema Co. asked for the license to show the movie. The company monopolizes cinemas in Kuwait, but all movies must first be sanctioned by government censors.
OK STOP! I CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE!!!
It's OK for the US theatres to show movies critical of their own president, but noooo.. we can't show it here so we don't piss off some perceived American bogeyman who doesn't really give a shit what we show. As for the Saudi royal family... don't get me started!!!
An American guy I met yesterday told me that our leaders fully support the Republicans in the upcoming election. I corrected him and told him that they only support the otherwise irredeemable Dubya because he's Bush, Jr. the son of the first George Bush who was president when Kuwait was liberated by the US-led coalition.
Yes, folks... we can apply our backward tribal mentality to US politics too!
The gross misjudgment of Yasser Arafat and the late King Hussein, and their stupid backing of Saddam Hussein, will go down as one of history's greatest blunders. If anything, it did more harm to their own people than it did to us as Kuwaitis. The seeds of the PLO were planted in Kuwait as far back as 1959, when no other country would give Arafat the time of day, and continued to enjoy both government and popular support right up to the Iraqi invasion. Millions of dinars were poured into the PLO coffers - God knows how much of it actually ended up helping Palestinian refugees and how much of it lined Arafat's pockets. At least Arafat was continuing his tradition of bad judgement and screw-ups (Lebanon, anyone?). King Hussein simply had no excuse!
We Kuwaitis were profoundly and understandably betrayed when we watched Arafat embrace Saddam Hussein a few days after he invaded Kuwait. It was simply inconceivable; how could he do this to us after everything we did for his people? And yet, every Palestinian I knew at the time was more upset at him than we were. How could they not be? He basically put their lives in danger and ruined their prosperous existence in Kuwait for good. Many middle and upper class Palestinians were also on vacation that August, and found themselves stranded outside Kuwait just like Kuwaitis and had their homes looted and destroyed just like Kuwaitis. But of course, after Kuwait was liberated they could not return to their previous lives, schools and jobs. Many others who happened to be here in August '90, simply gave up after a few weeks and left Kuwait because they knew that Arafat had driven a wedge between them and the country they loved, and earned them the hatred and wrath of Kuwaitis. A Palestinian friend told me he had to leave because he could not bear the thought of being hated for his stupid leader's mistake. He loved this country so much, and felt it was his home, but he knew when it was all over there would be an understandable backlash, so he left. Others left, just as Kuwaitis left, in the hopes of returning to Kuwait once the invasion was over.
Another thing we hold against Palestinians is that very few, if any, of them had the courage to speak out against Arafat's position and call attention to the injustice of the invasion. But I attribute that silence as typical Arab fear of challenging leaders, compounded by active silencing of any dissenting voices that refuse to follow the party line.
And what about the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza demonstrating in support of Saddam in 1991? I don't presume to speak for them, but if I were that desperate I would believe anyone who told me that freedom was near. Sure it was stupid, but that's human nature. And how do we know these demonstrations weren't staged for the cameras? I witnessed a pro-Saddam demonstration right here in Kuwait in front of one of the tacky monuments he erected for himself all around town. I found myself driving into the middle of a rowdy mob jumping up and down and chanting for Saddam, when suddenly the chanting stopped and the mob was rounded up AT GUNPOINT into buses waiting on the side to take them back to Basra or wherever. Later that night, I switched on Iraqi TV and saw the same demonstration on their news and even spotted my car for a split second on the edge of the TV screen. The news claimed that KUWAITIS were demonstrating in support of Saddam!
So, in the end, many Palestinians screwed up and many others were harmed. I also have to acknowledge the large number of heroic Palestinians who did not stand idly by, but volunteered to help Kuwaitis any way that they could. Others simply grabbed what they could and got out.
The moral of the story (and this rather long post) is that there is good and bad in every nation. Passing judgement and generalizations only leads to more misunderstandings. My family's furniture business was blown up during the invasion, not by Iraqis or even Palestinians, but by well-intentioned yet misguided Kuwaiti resistance fighters who were targetting the Iraqi-owned grocery next door where soldiers would hang out. And yet, could I suddenly turn on my own fellow Kuwaitis for that stupid mistake? OF COURSE NOT!
Monday, August 02, 2004
I spent the entire 7 months of Iraqi occupation here in Kuwait, and I lost two friends to the Iraqi goon squads. And yet, I never bore any hatred toward the Iraqi people during the occupation because, the way I saw it, they had been under Saddam's iron fist for decades and we were only catching a glimpse - a summary if you will - of the hell they had been living through.
Of course, many families lost their sons, daughters and spouses during the occupation and I can only imagine their heartbreak. It is one thing to lose a friend or family member, but an entirely different hell when you don't know if they are dead or alive.
Strangely enough, and this is taboo for some reason, those of us who stayed in Kuwait don't have much ill will towards the Iraqi people or even the downtrodden Palestinians. We can't blame them for their leadership, since they didn't exactly vote for them. Sure, there were some rotten elements who did indeed collaborate with the Iraqis but there are rotten elements in every society - God knows we have our own fair share! I also noticed when the war was over, many Kuwaitis who spent the occupation outside the country came back with feelings of contempt for us "الصامدون" for staying behind. I guess we were the cool and calm "heroes" and they were just jealous.
My brother and I made a conscious decision from the outset that we weren't leaving the country, and decided to stay put to protect our home; the rest of the family was already away on summer vacation. It was a tough time to say the least, but we managed to get by thanks to the support of a large network of friends and family. We never felt we were alone, and our house became a hangout for nightly card games with my buddies. After the initial shock of the invasion, we learned how to stay out of trouble and avoid getting hauled off by the Iraqi forces. Movement was restricted by numerous checkpoints around town, and a curfew at night (can't remember what time). By November of 1990, things calmed down, the checkpoints were reduced and by December the curfew was lifted and I remember feeling more bored than worried, to the point where I would gauge the urgency of the situation by our placement as news items on CNN. If we slipped till after the first commercial break, that meant we weren't "news" and I would start to worry this damn occupation was going to last much longer than I thought.
When the war finally started on January 16-17, we thought it would be over in 3 days but even that dragged on for another month. It was only towards the end, when the electricity and phones were cut off that it got really scary. Word was out that the Iraqi forces were rounding up any young men they could get hold of, for no particular reason, and we just stayed at home waiting for them to come. Where else could we go? Thankfully, they never showed up and that night I heard a loud rumbling outside my window (we live on the 4th ring road). I looked outside and saw a non-stop stream of cars, buses and trucks all heading towards Sulaibikhat. I figured they must have been the remaining Iraqi civil servants, finally escaping Kuwait and heading up north. This went on for an hour, and when it was over I fell asleep and woke up the next morning to the sound of a solitary car horn. I looked outside and saw one lonely car making its way slowly onto the road flying the Kuwaiti flag. I still choke up when I remember that sight, even as I'm typing this!
I don't think I will ever forget it. Of course, my biggest regret is that I never kept a daily journal of life under occupation, but back then I didn't even know how to type so I wasn't about to write anything with a pen.
Sunday, August 01, 2004
I don't know what happened to it, and I don't want to write it again. So just read the article and let me know what you think :-)