Wednesday, November 16, 2011

King Abdullah Just Said This

King Abdullah suggested today, very clearly, that Bashar Al-Assad should step down.

This is huge, unprecedented, and surprising, for two reasons, two very good reasons, in my opinion.

Correct if I'm wrong, but this is the first time a Jordanian king ever asks for any other leader to step down, let alone be an Arab leader, let lone be it the Syrian leader. Late King Hussein had hoped for many Arab leaders to vanish , in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Palestine...etc. These were not only posing a threat to the monarchy, but to the stability of Jordan itself. But he never went public, for several reasons, in claiming that these regimes had to go. He supported the Islamic opposition to Hafiz Assad but he didn't claim Assad must go for the better of the Syrian people.

So today, things changed. We have finally asked the leader of a "brotherly" country to step down.

if you read exactly what his majesty said about Syria,

"If it was me, I would step down and make sure whoever comes behind me has the ability to change the status quo that we're seeing,"

He said, "I would step down if......"

Correct me again if I'm wrong, but I don't think any Jordanian king has ever said "I would step down " for whatever reason. Never. I haven't heard every single speech or read every public letter for all the Jordanian monarchs, but I don't think such language was ever used before.

Certainly Jordan is not like Syria. People are not being killed in the streets and many of the most angry and the dissatisfied Jordanians are not calling for the King to step down. King Hussein faced heavier opposition with crowds screaming in the streets in many Jordanians cities for him to be removed during several rough times in the past, but he had never mentioned that he would step down if something happened.

Since its independence, King Hussein struggled to prove that he's a true Arab leader who was ready to lead an underdeveloped nation into security and prosperity and prove that it had many good reasonable for existence even when the entire world had many doubts about it. I think that to a great extent he was able to accomplish this. He tried to avoid any kind of confrontation and always took the side of neutrality unless his throne or the the future of the country were be in jeopardy.

The statement from his majesty today, in my opinion, reflects a major shift in our attitude toward the world.
We didn't have to stand against the Syrian regime regardless of how brutal it was. But King Abdullah felt it was necessary for him to be the first Arab leader to make that statement. We all know that Syria has threatened to invade Jordan and in fact did invade Jordan more than any other country besides Israel. For Jordan to take that strong position against Syria, there might be a big a price to pay, but I hope that our moral obligation towards taking the stand is completely worth it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ronald Reagan vs. King Hussein

Ronald Reagan was the US president between 1981 to 1989. After the end of his term, in 1994, he announced that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. However there were some signs suggestive that he had some "concentration issues" , to say the least, while he was still in office. One of these incidents occurred during a meeting with King Hussein.

Richard Viets, the US ambassador to Jordan in 1981, gave an interview reporting a very interesting meeting between the two leaders. Avi Shleim reports:

"On that first visit the Reagans invited the king and Queen Noor to lunch in their private quarters. Viets was also invited. In the middle of this small affair, Reagan suddenly said, "I understand that the Dead Sea is so salty that no fish can survive in it." The comment was not germane to anything that went on before.

Hussein said, "That's correct. No fish can survive there."

Reagan said, "I think we can help you out. We have special fish in California that I think they would love to live in the Dead Sea."

Hussein's eyes went almost into the dome of his head; he could barely believe that this conversation was taking place.

After lunch, Reagan took Viets aside and said he was going to have members of his staff contacted him to arrange the shipment of the fish. The two of them, Reagan said, were going to sort out this problem for Jordan. Viets was embarrassed but the king was characteristically good-humoured. When they met on future occasions, he would often rib Viets by saying, "When are you going to bring the fish?!"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Very Angry Man

Warning before watching this video: Don't watch if you're black, Paraguayan, or a Boca fan.

Basically this man is very upset watching his team, River Plate, getting relegated for the second division in Argentina for the first time in 101 years, yes 101.

You can understands the murders that take place in stadiums over there.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Double Citizenship: The Oath

Here's the Oath of Allegiance to become a US citizen that immigrants repeat on the day they want to become US citizen:

" I hereby renounce under oath all allegiance to any foreign state. My fidelity and allegiance from this day forward is to the United States of America. I pledge to support, honor, and be loyal to the United States, its Constitution, and its laws. Where and if lawfully required, I further commit myself to defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, either by military, noncombatant, or civilian service. This I do solemnly swear, so help me God"

أقسم أن أنبذ كل الولاء لأية دولة أجنبية.إخلاصي وولائي من هذا اليوم إلى الأمام هو الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. وأتعهد بأن أدعم وأشرف وأن أكون مخلصا للولايات المتحدة ودستورها وقوانينها. وعند الحاجة تحت الدستور بأن أكرس نفسي للدفاع عن قوانينها ودستورها ضد كل الأعداء ، المحليين والاجانب, سواء عن طريق الخدمة العسكرية أو المدنية, أقسم بذلك فساعدني يا الله

Now Tell me, can you still be an American citizen AND Jordanian? Can you renounce ANY loyalty to Jordan in a serious oath, and then be part of a Jordanian cabinet overlooking the interests of Jordanians?

Can you command Jordanians troops or take control of its budget when you have sworn not to have any relationship with this country?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Disturbing News About Milad Abbasi

Six years ago I made a brief entry about Milad Abbassi, the best goalkeeper in Jordan's history, and the goalkeeper of the national team for nearly 15 years.

Like many brilliant Jordanians, he realized that he might get a better life by immigrating somewhere else. He moved to the US and started giving football lessons to kids in a school in South Carolina, then moved to Chicago to run a grocery store. His new name in America was Chris. Milad Abbassi, the most mentioned name on Jordanian TV in the 1980s after late King Hussein, was now being called Chris.

Milad was the goalkeeper in a not-so-golden era of Jordanian football. We used to get beaten up by many teams. Iraq, Syria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia defeated us almost every single time we played against them. However Milad Abbasi always protected the goal, so that a 1-0 loss to Iraq probably meant we had easily deserved a 5-0 loss.

I didn't know any further details about his life in the US, up until yesterday. There was burglary in his store in Chicago. Men entered his store and asked for money, but he resisted giving them the money. Apparently he still had the same attitude he used to give to strikers of other teams, "I know you'll win at the end, but I'm not gonna make it an easy one for you" . Those men shot Milad in his face and abdomen. His condition is reported to be critical but stable. Here's a link to the burglary report. (thanks Hamzah Nassif for the link)

I wish him a great recovery, and to get back to his normal life without any harm. And even if he lost his memory, he'll always be in ours, his fans.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hareega in London

No I didn't just fly there, but an actual hareega was intentionally started in London.
There are many answers to why these nasty riots have started. My feeling is that some people were genuinely angry for some legitimate reason(s), but once a riot starts many other opportunistic douchebags join in to take advantage of the situation, rob stores, mug teenage kids, and burn down the city just because they like burning things down.

I have to say that seeing these places on fire brings a lot of anger because this damage is visible. You see buildings in flames. You see rioters beating others in the street. You see the damage in neighborhoods.

However we don't see it on camera when the rich rob hundreds of people with the strike of his pen. We didn't see CEOs go to jail when entire neighborhoods vanished after their people went homeless. We didn't see as much anger to the damage of world economy because of the greed of some people.

We only get mad for what see on camera, but not for what happens behind it. Since we are more developed creatures than monkeys, I expect something better from the human kind.

As for these rioters, they should be very thankful they don't live in Syria.

(I can't help write anything about London and not link to this super awesome song, you guessed it!!)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Mubarak vs. Saddam: Not The Same

Saddam Hussain
Removed from power through an obscene war, declared for many wrong reasons, based on several lies and bad intelligence, even by the accounts of those who started it. He was sentenced in an unusual trial to death and a date for his execution was not announced until after he was actually executed. He was hanged by angry men who were screaming loud pro-Shiite slogans at the time of execution. A video was taped of the execution and distributed all over the web. Humans have reached a new low that day.

Dare I mention that the crimes he was executed for were ones committed mostly in 1982 under the approval, full acceptance and even support of those who eventually turned against him, and brought him down? However, they didn't pay the price.

Hosni Mubarak
Powerful leader, responsible for massive cases of corruption in every government institution. Liar, thief and incompetent. Taken down by a series of protests by extremely brave people way before 2011, and their efforts succeeded eventually in bringing him down despite incredible amount of torture that they suffered (and still suffering) from. It wasn't only him but his two sons and the most powerful men who brutally ran the country stood in that cage like the little rats they've always been. These men are being held accountable for what they did DESPITE all the foreign and Arab support they had received over the past 3 decades.

These two men were brutal, they have their people's blood on their hands, and they deserved the harshest punishments out there. But the way they came down, and their trials, are not the same. They are the exact opposite of each other.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Quick Unprofessional Basic Movie Reviews for Movie Non-Buffs

I'm not a movie critic or movie expert, but here's a quick movie review of movies I have seen recently. Some are new, some are a little older.

1- Horrible Bosses- Very funny, not very witty, and not a classic. But what's great about it is that, finally, Jennifer Aniston is not very predictable. Not family-friendly to say the least. C+

2- Hangover II: if you haven't seen the first movie this movie will come as one of the best in your life. If you have seen it , then all I can say is that it follows the same story line. I hope Hangover III will be very different. C

3- Page One: Inside the New York Times. This documentary isn't about the New York Times, it's about journalism and the way it's taking a new shape. If you're someone who uses the internet, check this movie out. B

4- Midnight in Paris: the best word to describe this movie is beautiful. A beautiful movie, beautiful script, beautiful dreams and a beautiful actor. Mainly it's about many love stories none of them exists between the couple in the movie. If I say more I'll ruin it for you. B+

5- Source Code (SPOILER ALERT): I thought this would be a typical boring action movie, but it turned out to be really good. I wish the ending was a little different. The movie should have ended when everything paused and people were sitting around in the train listening to the comedian, which was about 10 minutes before the actual end of the movie. Somehow Hollywood aims to have the happiest end possible which ruined it for me. B

6- Cedar Rapids: Above-average comedy, good story but if they had chosen someone other than Ed Helmes I think it would have been a better movie. C+

7- Of Gods and Men: A French movie about monks in a very rural Algerian town who face terrorism with everyone else in town. what makes it a great movie is the extraordinary acting and the fact that it was a very true story. Makes you feel as if you're one of those priests even if you haven't stepped inside a church before. B+

8- Dead Poets Society: Old movie (1989) , but very inspiring, very artistic and Robin Williams plays a wonderful role here. I loved the movie even though I hated Shakespeare in high school. B

9- The Adjustment Bureau: Awful. Just plain awful. An inception-wanna be , but it was difficult to enjoy it. To be fair some people liked it, not sure why. D-

10- Inside Job: it won the Oscar for best documentary of 2010 and it was well-deserved. Talks about the economical crisis and why you should be very very concerned that things aren't any better for the market or the people. I don't get anything in business but I got this movie. B+

11- Stranded: I've Come From a Plane That Crashed On the Mountains (yes all of that is the title)- this is a documentary about the real story of a plane that crashed on the Andes mountains in 1972, and what the survivors had to do to stay alive. Even if someone narrated the whole script of the film to you, that shouldn't take anything away from the effect this movie will leave on you. It's one of those films that can stick in your brain for the rest of your life. One of the best I've ever seen. Powerful shit. A

12- Citizen USA: An HBO documentary about immigrants to the US who have just become citizens. Basically the director is asking them why did they choose to become US citizens, and the answers can surprise you. Well, they'll surprise you only if you're American. I think the movie was made for American-born citizens who often do not appreciate everything they have in their country. Quite a few Jordanians appeared in that one-hour documentary. C+

Saturday, July 30, 2011

No Way in Norway

Norway buried the victims of the massacre that took place last week in Oslo. The first funerals for the 76 people started taking place yesterday.

The prime minister Jens Stonelberg urged his nation to embrace freedom.

That's how you fight threats to your nation: embrace what your country stands for, embrace what its values are and don't take security as an excuse to violate its constitution.

As Mr. Jens (sikis) said, "Evil has brought out the best in us"

Kudos for Norway for not losing its collective shit.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just Two Weeks Ago

I had a patient in clinic with a fever, she goes, "I traveled to so many places last year and got very sick: Angola, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, South Africa. I contracted malaria, schistosoma, diarrhea, and God knows what"

"Are you traveling anywhere else?"

"Yes. Oslo next month. Glad this time I won't worry about what might happen to me"

Condolences to Norway. I hope this tragedy won't change their principles of freedom and justice and won't change the way you live, try your criminals or search your passengers at airports. Or in other words, I hope you won't be cavity-searching me if I visit you next time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amman 10 Years Later: Chaos, Curfews and Attacks on Foreign Embassies

Armored cars moved throughout Amman streets at dawn Tuesday with loud-speakers blaring, "Remain in your houses".

The Jordanian capital was under strict military control in the third day of a curfew following weekend violence by mobs.

Army troops with fixed bayonets patrolled the streets where crowds had rioted in attacks against British and American embassies.

The King called on the new government to enforce law and order. The government took office Monday with Samir El-Rifai as premier.

Since the Saturday riots, the curfew has been lifted for only two hours each day, when tens of thousands of people stream out with sacks and baskets to buy out food.

No mail has entered or left the city since Saturday. Only official telephone calls are allowed. The army has taken over the post office.

There are no newspapers, no airline flights. It is impossible to enter or leave the city without a special pass.

There have been no more disturbances however, the curfew is expected to be relaxed gradually.

Officials in Damascus , Syria, announced Tuesday that Jordan has reopened its frontiers with Syria after a three day closure.

Imagine Amman being like this in 10 years? 15 or 20 years? Can you imagine yourself living in a city like that?

Many people fear Amman will turn into something like that, something scary, where every thing is politically-charged and violence will be erupting everywhere in the city.

Well, the article above was not my vision of Amman in the 2020s, but rather an article I quoted word-by-word from newspapers describing Amman in 1956. Click here to read the article directly from the Milwaukee Journal Newspaper

You may click here for a similar link if the first one doesn't work.
Also click here for a short silent clip taken during these events.

During that period, there have been many protests against the pro-Western Baghdad Pact and the suspicion that the Jordanian government would join the Pact. Embassies were attacked and curfews were enforced. People were allowed to leave their houses for only 2 hours a day between 5 and 7 pm. Many protests followed in the years after.

My point is: Amman and Ammanites survived. Jordan and Jordanians survived. People expressed their opinion, often at the expense of jail or harassment, but they did express themselves. This is not the first time that Jordanians take the streets or chant against the government, or ask for it to step down. It's not an unusual phenomenon. Unlike past decades, Jordan is in much less danger of "outside threats". One may argue that the circumstances are very different now from what they've been before, and I agree. Everything is much more stable than ever before. The threats to Jordan's stability are negligible to what they've been in the 1950s. There is virtually no strong leftist movement in Arab countries, there is no Egyptian president calling for Jordanians to get rid of their king on the radio, there are no Syrian troops aligned alongside the borders waiting for an excuse to invade them, and Iraqis are busy getting their country together. Israel won't attack Jordan and Jordan won't attack Israel for the next 100 years. The United States is broke and won't call for more wars even if Pearl Harbor was attacked again. Jordan seems more stable that it's ever been before.

Many things can change, and I could be wrong but Jordan, despite its young age, has matured quickly and is well-experienced with new developments in the region. We'll be alright.

Click on Photo to Enlarge

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life and Death and Dying and the Journey with Dr. Death

"A doctor in America is killing his patients" is all what I remember from watching the news on Jordan TV sometime in the early 1990s. It was a horror story. The doctor's name was Dr. Kevorkian but he was called Dr. Death.

As I finished medical school and moved to the US for training, I had an attending physician (supervisor) who liked to joke with his patients introducing himself to them with, "Hello, my name is Dr. Kevorkian, I will be your doctor" just to get a good laugh. Needless to say, Kevorkian has become synonym with death.

Death has become part of my daily life since I decided to become a doctor. I remember my first patient who died, the first corpse I saw in anatomy class, the first freshly-dead body dissected in the forensic medicine course. It wasn't scary at all even for the most fainted-hearted among us in medical school. We all knew that one day we will become cold dead bodies. I always said I'd rather sleep in the morgue among dozens of dead people than sleep alone in my room with a mosquito above my head.

Death is a peaceful end to an often less peaceful life. I can deal with it. But dying is torture, and very few know how to deal with it.

There is a group of patients who don't die once; they experience dying, or in other words, they die every day. Those are the chronically ill patients, and every doctor has seen a few hundreds of them. I almost see one every single day. I know most of their names, where they live, if they have a car or not, even what their kids do for a living. Even in my mind I can recall the surgeries and medications that each one had and even remember their lab tests from many months back. These guys spend more time seeing doctors and doing tests than in their house. Their daily struggle is to remain alive. Their quality of life however is awful, but stable. Awfully stable. It's not going to improve and all what doctors do is slow their death, or prolong it, depending on the way you look at it.

For some of these guys, Dr. Kevorkian was the answer. They asked for him. He didn't contact these patients, but they contacted him. It's illegal for you to kill yourself in most countries in the world, including the US. These patients asked Kevorkian to do it for them in a painless and quick way. Kevorkian assessed them and selectively helped them end their lives. He videotaped every patient to make sure they voluntarily requested the death. He wasn't paid for any of these procedures.

Kevorkian had to stand trial for many of these murders as they've been illegal. The families of the patients stood and defended him and the decision that their loved ones had made. Kevorkian was acquitted all the time until a prosecutor played a legal trick and was able to find Kevorkian guilty of murder. He spent 8 years in jail.

One thing I learned, is that people change their minds when they get sick. How many times have you heard one say, "If I get cancer, I don't want to get chemo, just let me die in peace" ? Let me tell you something: don't believe them. If they get cancer, they'll get chemo, and radiation, and surgery, and a lot of pills, and herbs, and experimental treatments, and prayers and creams and lotions and Chinese remedies and whatever your grandmother used to treat food poisoning. They'll use it all to stay alive. Some survive, some do not, and some decide to give up even before their time is over.

Likewise, I don't know how will these people react when that moment arrives; the moment when they surrender, when they declare that they've had enough. We don't know how some of the people closest to us will react in these situations. I don't even know how I myself will react when this moment comes. But I know that everyone deserves to have all options available to them, and one of these options is euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide.

It's horrifying for some to think about it, and for those very uncomfortable with it (and I'm one of them) I say , don't do it. Just don't prevent others mentally-stable adults from considering it. Most, if not all, of those 130 people that Kevorkian ended their lives did not want to die had they been healthy or even ill but with a reasonable quality of life. But when they got very ill, and they changed their mind.

There are many things that Dr. Kevorkian could have done differently. He didn't obtain a psychiatric consultation on all patients. He didn't fully assess the medical condition of each one. It's argued that some of his patients may even had reversible medical illnesses. However, the conditions in which he worked have been very imperfect, and he himself acknowledged that. He opened a debate on a topic that is very hard to talk about and is very controversial in its own.

Just like people have different perspectives of what life means, they differ on the way they think it should end. But I hope we'll agree that every one must have a complete control on his own life. We do end lives of criminals convicted of serious crimes. We do end lives of enemy soldiers in wars and sometimes even celebrate it. However we are not honoring the wish of a suffering person from ending his/her own life even if they request to, and we decide for them to have it end in pain and emotional suffering against their will rather than peace and comfort. Dr. Kevorkian, who passed away last month, said that he was serving his patients and honoring their will. By no means was he Dr. Death, as he appreciated exactly what the value of life and what it means to be living. RIP, Dr. Kevorkian, Dr. Life.

"When your conscience says law is immoral, don't follow it. If you don't have liberty and self-determination, you've got nothing, that's what this is what this country is built on. And this is the ultimate self-determination, when you determine how and when you're going to die when you're suffering. The patient's autonomy always, always should be respected, even if it is absolutely contrary to best medical advice and what the physician wants." Jack Kevorkian, during his trials.

Suggested Movie: You Don't Know Jack, by Al Pacino.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


قبل حوالي عشرة سنوات كنت في دمشق أغزدر في السوق عندما وقع نظري على رجل ستيني جالسا على الرصيف ومحاطاً من الجهات الأربعة وظهره وقدميه بالصور كان مُطحِشاً أكبر عدد ممكن من الصور عارضاً اياها للبيع بأسعارمختلفة

بادرته بالسؤال "عندك صورة مارادونا"

اجابني "لاء عمو ما عندي"

رغم خيبة املي بدأت بالبعبشة بين صوره المختلفة لعلي أجد صورةً لبطلٍ قومي كباتيستوتا أو حميد الشاعري فلم أجد, لكنني وجدت كثيراً من صور بشار الاسد, لم تكن أي منها شبيهة بالأُخرى, كان متصوراً في كل واحدة بوضع مختلف وكأنه عارضة ازياء لفكطوريا سيكرت

سألت البائع مرة اخرى "بكم صورة بشار الأسد"

نظر البائع الي بشك ثم وقف على قدميه العتيقتين ببعض الصعوبة وأعتقد أنني سمعت صوت غضاريف ركبتيه وهي تطرقع بين عظامه الهشة و رد علي بصرامة " أصدك سيادة الرئيس, حضرة سيادة الرئيس بشار الأسد"

نسيت كم كان سعر الصورة,لكني شعرت اني قد وضعت الرجل في موقف صعب قليلا وأنّه سيكون من الزوق شراء الصورة منه, ثم فكرت ان حرس الحدود الاردني راح يقرقعني إذا شافوني راجع عالأردن من سوريا محمل معي صور بشار الأسد

بعدين قلت بجيب الصورة وبكبها بالشام قبل ما ارجع عالاردن, بس يا حبيبي إذا شافني حدا بالشام وانا بكُب صورة بشار الأسد باكل هوا

فقلتله شكراً عمي خلص شكراً وانقلعت عالبقداش ألهمط بوظة

واليوم بعد عشر سنوات لم أجد شيئاً يسعدني أكثر من رؤية السوريين وهم يطالبون ببعض الحرية, بعض الكرامة, بعض المنطق في حياتهم اليومية, وأكثر ما أسعدني هو رؤيتهم يحرقون صورة بشار الأسد

عفوا.... يحرقون صورة حضرة سيادة الرئيس بشار الأسد

Thursday, March 31, 2011

يوم الارض ..... the Land Day

Today was celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Land Day.

A day that used to matter

Like the land itself, it's all long gone

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Do We Desire REAL Democracy, or Do we Just Hate Dictators?

The Arab revolution did happen, and it means one thing. Arabs hate dictators. Arabs hate leaders who stick to their throne for decades and refuse to give up or give in. Arabs don't want one authority figure to dictate what they have to say and not say, who they have to cheer or sing for, what they read and write and reject and accept. They won't take their leader's word to what's good and what's evil, what's patriotic and what's not or what's moral and what's not.

Arabs are changing the principals of what means to be free, what qualifies them to be good citizens of their countries and what their countries should expect from them and what they should be giving to their countries. The one century-year old dictionary of what means to be a good Arab citizen, written by dictators and military personnel was rejected and a new edition with bright colors and brand new definitions is now being printed by the people. Arabs are re-defining Arab.

The constitution of these countries that witnessed the biggest revolutions, Tunisia and Egypt, has not been modified yet. It will be (according to plan) and should be voted on by the people. Those constitutions will guarantee more freedoms (hopefully). That's what the people want, but will that be enough to turn the Arab world into a democracy?

All these Arab crowds had one thing in common: they hated dictators. Like any population of +300 million, you almost can't find anything else that's common between them. It would be interesting to see how will political parties, ethnic groups or religious organizations react when they're voted off by the majority of people. Will they respect the will of the people or will they fight back forcing themselves with every corrupt way possible to get a big piece of the cake?

I live in the United States. Freedom of speech is very well-respected here. There have been a few protests in the US where people burned the American flag. There was an attempt by the Congress and Senate to make it illegal to burn their flag, but the Senate voted against it. Therefore it is still legal to burn the US flag in the United States (personal advice though : don't do that in Jordan) .

I would like to give you another example. There is a group of completely wacky crazy irrational irritating morons called the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) who like to go to funerals of victims of wars or tragic accidents and life signs during funerals saying that these victims deserved their death and that God hates them. Soldiers who die in war, miners who die in mining accidents, a little girl who died in a random shooting in Arizona, during these funerals you'd have a bunch of crazy people from WBC holding signs saying "God is Your Enemy" and "God Hates Your Tears".

Again, there was a lawsuit against the WBC in the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided to side with the WBC, saying that hurtful speech is protected by the Constitution, which protects freedom of speech. Everyone in America hates the WBC, everybody is disgusted by them, many people were deeply hurt by their rants and protests, but the Supreme Court protected their right because freedom of speech is worshiped here. The votes were 8-1, not even close.

Let's go to Jordan. Every few months we hear about tragic plane accidents in our military where a few soldiers die thanks to the great training and planes they're given to fly. These soldiers are young and their deaths brings heartache to many families. Imagine if a bunch of morons start protesting in these funeral saying things like "these soldiers deserved it" or "God damn them". Other than these protesters being eaten alive during the funeral, would you think the people of Jordan would support the freedoms of those voicing their opinion?

Imagine that someone burned the Jordanian flag during a protest (which did happen, more than once). Do you think people would support his right to do so. Let me ask this, if he were Palestinian, would Jordanians support his right to express himself?

I don't want anyone to protest funerals, or burn flags, or irritate people or incite hatred. I do believe we are very close to each other, but ridding ourselves of dictators and seeking democracy are two very different things. Democracy and tyranny don't go together. We are doing the very first and most difficult step, but what's coming needs more sacrifice, more patience, and will be painful and even disappointing. There will a lot of disagreements, a lot of speeches and a lot of setbacks, but that is the right way to go. I hope we'll be ruled by reasonable people but I hope more that the ruled people will be reasonable.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Old Clip of Black September

Apparently this Canadian reporter, Barry Callaghan, was in Amman when Black September broke in 1970. Thanks to youtube I was able to find this rare clip that I never thought it existed in the first place. He's hiding in some hotel in Amman.

Students in Jordanian schools know are not told anything about these events. They end up learning about them from other sources that are often biased and inaccurate.

Only great nations can handle the truth even when it's painful.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm on Twitter

My name there is Hareega_Blog

or Reega Reega Hareega

apparently someone else took hareega

nothing made me wanna join twitter more than Saif Al-Islam !

follow me

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Qaddafi is Not Funny

Muammar Qaddafi is known to be the joke of the Arab world. Just type his name on youtube and you'll get an endless number of some hilarious speeches and remarks he's made in interviews and conferences. He clearly suffers from one or more psychological conditions that seem to be refractory to medical therapy.

That would have been funny to watch if Qaddafi was a celebrity not reluctant to embarrass himself in any possible occasion.

But when it comes to ruling a large and a very oil-rich country inhabited by only 6 million people, it stops being funny. One would expect such a country to have the best schools, colleges, hospitals, roads and energy plans in the world. Instead, Libya remains a third world country in most aspects. It's doing well when you compare it to the rest of Africa, but when you compare it to what it should be, it is centuries behind.

To my surprise I met many Libyans living who live in the United States, and among them I haven't met anyone who admired Al-Qaddafi. What's even worse is the horrifying stories I heard about how he handled any opposition to his regime.

One of these stories was his involvement in the war against Chad. Al-Qaddafi decided to get involved in a civil war in neighboring Chad, and actually did occupy part of this country as if he need more land (Libya is the 17th largest country in the world). One day he told high school students in Libya they were going on a field trip. He sent buses to their schools, gave them guns and sent them to fight in Chad. Thousands of Libyans died and got injured in a brutal war in 1986. Qaddafi claimed a decisive victory in Chad initially, but when he suffered a bad defeat he went on Libyan TV to criticize the "stupid military that decided on its own to get involved in this war". He didn't want Libyans to see those who were wounded with visible injuries such as head injuries or amputations, so he ordered the military to kill those injured. Yes that's right, he ordered the silent execution of those Libyan civilians and soldiers who were forced to fight in an unnecessary war against their will and were severely injured. Instead of an apology or compensation he got them killed. Nobody can argue with him. Nobody can call for change.

There are numerous of stories in Libya that reflect his brutality and make Saddam Hussain look like an angel. Unlike Saddam who established a solid health care system and got his people (men and women) extremely well-educated, Qaddafi tried to keep his people oppressed and incapable of any critical thinking.

During the very short period I worked in Jordan, I was shocked at the number of Libyan patients who traveled to Jordan to get medical care. Libya has the potential to build a Mayo clinic in every little village. Libyan doctors seem only to shine when they the country. Wealthy Libyans would never stay in Libya to get treated for anything or receive education. Leaving the country is the way to secure a future even though their country is so damn rich.

Even though I've never been to Libya, and I don't intentionally follow their news or read books about it, I can easily come up with a list for 1000 reasons why Qaddafi has been a terrible president. Maybe I will when I have more time.

To symbolize the corruption and autocracy the Libyans are subjected to think, think of the beloved son, Al-Saa'idi Al-Qaddafi. He decided to play football, placed himself as the captain of the Libyan national team even though he didn't play for any club at the time. He ordered the players to pass him the ball in every game. When the team was coached by a talented Italian coach (Bersellini), the first thing he did was fire Al-Saadi because "he wasn't a football player". The Libyan Federation fired the coach instead and brought Al-Saadi to the team. Al-Saadi then paid millions of dollars to top-quality Italian clubs just to include him in the squad. They didn't let him play a single minute, and he was eventually asked to leave Italy because he failed a drug test.

This is how Libya is run, violent dictator, family running the country, opposition is crushed (literally), corruption is the rule, and stupidity is king. Qaddafi seems funny when he talks, but nothing about his corruption or violence is funny. It wasn't surprising to learn today that he asked his military to shoot peaceful demonstrators from helicopters. What was surprising to me was to see protests growing in numbers, which gives me another reason to be very proud of those people. His people have had enough, and they're willing to sacrifice their lives for a better future for their kids. It's good to be an Arab these days.

(Aboce is a picture of Qaddafi with a picture of Omar Al-Mukhtar. Reminds me of a picture of Madonna wearing a cross)

Sunday, February 06, 2011


First, some people in South Dakota are asking me if my family is safe. For them Jordan is Egypt is Yemen is Pakistan. It's the same country. I just tell them my family is OK, thank you very much.
Let me start by stating the obvious: Mubarak is terrible person. He's even worse than we expected. What was going on in Egypt with military cars running over people was disturbing. But almost any other Arab leader would have done much worse than that from day one of the protests. It's not a Mubarak problem, it's an Arab leader problem. Arab leaders would do anything, anything, to stay in power.

I don't think many people will agree with me on this, but it's not only Hosni Mubarak who is responsible for the situation in Egypt right now. Jamal Abdul -Naser and Anwar al-Sadat are also to blame for implanting dictatorship as an acceptable way to rule a liberal country like Egypt, and allowing intelligence officers to spy on their people and report whoever had unfavorable opinions about the president. As much as I respect Abdul-Naser, he paved the way for Egypt to become an autocracy. Al-Sadat was even worse, supporting empty-headed radicals who eventually assassinated him.

Egyptians proved to me to be much more civilized than what I've thought. All the protests were very peaceful until the government thugs started beating people. I still consider it a white revolution. Contrary to what most Jordanians believe, Egyptians do have class. Protesters themselves even cleaned the streets at the end of each day.

Some analysts in America continue to produce statistics about how radicalized the Egyptian society have become, and are concerned that the leadership in Egypt will be a fundamental one, one that will abuse women's rights and persecute Christians. I can't deny that such mentality does exist in Egypt, but it's the incredible oppression, poverty, and lack of freedoms that allowed these irrational ideas in Egypt in the 1950s to become somewhat popular. Egyptians and Arabs desire freedom as much as Americans do, and it's such a hypocrisy from some Americans to be stand against their own beliefs and values being practiced in other countries. I expect that from their presidents, but the people themselves, come on!

Finally the protests in Egypt are not between Egyptians and Mobarak, they are a fight between Arab citizens and their tyrant leaders. Never did Arabs have fair and just elections but for the past 2 weeks each one of us had an ambassador in Midan Al-Tahrir. Pick your side, it's a struggle between good an evil as clear as good and evil can be. Whatever will happen in Egypt will affect other countries

Whatever was going on in the past 2 months gave us hope and pride to be Arabs again. They'd better mark Mohamed Bouazizi's grave well because one day I will be going there and thank him. He started an era where Arab leaders will be afraid of their people and where opinions will be respected if they're unpopular. How will the future evolve is something I'm uncertain of, but it will be better.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why the Jordanian Teacher Terrorizing that Kid Should Not Be Punished

I watched the clip of a Jordanian teacher terrorizing a 1st-grade student in a public school. It was painful to see a young kid being humiliated, but it was more painful to see the reaction of a wide array of people to this youtube clip.

It looks like the people who were "shocked" the most were those who never gave a damn to start with. We all know that children get beaten up in almost every single public school in Jordan. Sometimes they get brutally beaten up, tied by chains, humiliated, and the physical abuse may even qualify as torture in some cases. Some students died, actually died, as a consequence of violence targeted at them from teachers.

The ministry of education doesn't pay attention to these cases. The principles of these schools don't care, mainly because most of them support the right of teachers to treat their students as their kids (i.e. beat the shit out of them-if necessary!) And just like having 10 kids can be a burden to a father, having 50 kids in one class is a huge burden. There is not time to pay any special attention towards kids.

I'm not even going to discuss sexual abuses against kids since I don't have names (obviously not clips either) but we hear the stories about teachers who have been "investigated" by school administration and asked to teach a different class because of clear sexual abuses against students. Things have got so bad in a public school in Madaba that a school shut down its restroom because of such sexual.

All these fake reactions by the ministry of Health were a result of the clip going viral, and not because of the violence itself. That little kid is lucky. His misery that went viral will almost guarantee he'll never be hit again , at least for a while. But make no mistake, this morning in Jordan a big number of students in Jordanian schools will be beaten up in schools by teachers and principals and nobody will record it on youtube, not allowing the Ammani elitist living in a bubble to pretend to be have feelings to allow them to feel sorry for kids who seem to be living in a different planet.

At least that teacher was teaching that kid something other than that his country is giving up on him and unless his parents were rich and connected he didn't belong to this land he lived in anymore.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Great Old Clip: Prince Abdallah, the Young Teenager, Watching Cartoons and Queen Mona Talking

Here's another one of these nice old clips, this one is a short documentary about late King Hussein, including interviews with him and Queen Mona around 1971. I believe this interview took place right before their divorce. You can see their 2 kids, Princes Abdullah and Faisal, watching TV and training with troops.

I haven't seen any interview with Queen Mona, so this is pretty interesting.

The most shocking moment of the video was right at minute 16:00, very interesting answer.

You can visit the site and find more clips about King Hussein, late King Hussein (his grandfather), King Talal....

very interesting site

here's the documentary, click on the picture


Friday, January 14, 2011

Good Old Clip: King Hussein Getting Married

from April, 1955

This is truly incredible!!

Click on the picture and it will take you to the clip


Sunday, January 02, 2011

Video of the Month: Coronation of King Talal in 1951, and How Amman Looked Sixty Years Ago

This segment shows some rare videos that attract very few youtube viewers but I think are valuable enough to be seen.

Here is the coronation of King Talal in the summer of 1951. He ruled Jordan for 13 months, removed for health-related reasons.

King Talal was very influential, much more than what he gets credit for. He wrote down the constitution of Jordan. In 1951, Jordan was six years old. It could have gone in so many directions, but the constitution that the late King Talal came with gave a lot of liberty to the people and to women. Unfortunately it was "modified" afterwards to limit many of these freedoms and rights in the name of security.

Best 5 Movies of 2010 (from a non-movie expert point of view), and Why (No Spoilers)

5- Inside Job: Insightful. The best documentary of the year. It's good enough to embarrass the president of the United States.

4- Inception: a wonderful use of visual and sound effects, good story and powerful enough to make you take your dreams seriously, at least for a couple of nights.

3- Black Swan: This movie is so good that even I, a secure fat man, felt like I was the slim female ballet dancer going through the internal struggles that Natalie Portman was going through. The movie seemed to me similar to the Wrestler in many ways, and I checked after the movie and turned out it was the same director. Brilliant.

2- You Don't Know Jack: Jack Kevorkian, the doctor of death, tells his side of the story saying how he helped hundreds of people by killing them. This film surprises you and will probably leave you with many questions and no answers.
What's even better is that Al Pacino plays Dr. Kevorkian.

1- 127 hours: boy I could feel this rock in the movie pressing on my own arm. It's unimaginable. And the performance of James Franco should be taught in acting schools everywhere. Advice: don't read anything about the movie, just go watch it and live it yourself.

(I have to mention that I haven't seen the King's Speech or the Fighter yet, and animation movies are for kids under ten so Toy Story 3 and Avatar should never be included in any list). The picture above is of Natalie Portman , it might be from Black Swan, or just a random picture she took while laying on a pavement, doesn't matter, looks good)