One Syrian blogger was wandering around the Syrian blogsphere dismayed by the low quality of content he encountered everywhere when he stumbled on something that completely shattered his heart and faith in the future of his country. And that was another Syrian blogger running "a campaign to combat masturbation". Shock and awed, our blogger exploded with a tornado of rhetoric questions.
Are there no other more pressing righteous causes? How about poverty, gender discrimination, honor killings, the absence of civil liberties and the absence of freedom of expression among a long list of societal ills? Don’t these deserve more immediate attention than a practice that is the realm of the personal and affects no one else?
Well. You see, buddy... Of course, these are important and pressing issues, BUT... The first things should come first!
Anyway, our blogger did not give up and started his own campaign mocking the original one under the title of "Don't Touch This!". With the Syrian blogsphere now being torn apart (Gaddafi would have said "asunder") by pro and contra masturbation campaigns, we cannot just stand idly watching this mess from aside. It's time for us, as good and responsible neighbors (which we are), to start taking sides. After some deliberation I decided to join the "Don't Touch This" camp. Mainly, because it's in English. So here we go....
Don't Touch This!
Occupied since 1967
Oops! Sorry guys. I think I have just copy pasted something wrong from the sidebar of that blog. Another try...
Don't Touch This!
. . .
. . .
Yeah! This one is much better. So do you see this, guys? Well, you don't see it of course. However, I am sure you do know what I mean, right? Yes, I mean this. So don't you ever fucking touch this!
I call on all peace loving bloggers of the Middle East to join our "Don't Touch This" campaign.
Col Muammar Gaddafi's Libya proposed a UN motion calling for the abolition of Switzerland after a dispute over the arrest of one of the president's sons, it has emerged. The Alpine country should be folded into France, Germany and Italy, according to the bizarre proposal.
Such was the effect of an incredible last performance by the King of kings in the UN General Assembly. It lasted for almost 100 minutes instead of 15 and exceeded all expectations. This is for example what the King of kings thinks about the Taliban and Vatican.
Gaddafi was also reported to have intimated that Israel was involved in JFK assassination and that swine flu has originated in secret labs of the CIA or something like this.
He called Obama "our son" referring to Obama's African roots and suggested that Obama should be ruler-for-life of the U.S. "How can we guarantee America after Obama?" he said. Well, the colonel got the point. We can't, unless the Yankees make him their permanent president.
At some point he called the Security Council the Terror Council and seemed to try to tear the United Nations Charter on the grounds that he did not recognize the authority of the document.
By the time "the leader of the revolution, the president of the African Union, the king of kings of Africa" (this is how he was introduced to the General Assembly) finished the speech, the place was largely empty. The Great Leader retired from the scene triumphantly waving his hand in the air.
Some Arab diplomats, who reportedly spent a major part of the speech rolling on the floor laughing, claimed in private conversations that the speech was Gaddafi's vintage point that blew away even those Arabs used to his regular performances at meetings of the Arab League.
Notwithstanding, this blog hails the King of kings and dedicates the following video to his honor.
September 25, 2009
Bring them all!
After struggling to turn Khadafy’s insane ramblings at the UN into English for 75 minutes, the Libyan dictator’s personal interpreter got lost in translation.
"I just can’t take it any more," Khadafy’s interpreter shouted into the live microphone – in Arabic.
At that point, the U.N.’s Arabic section chief, Rasha Ajalyaqeen, took over and translated the final 20 minutes of the speech.
"His interpreter just collapsed – this is the first time I have seen this in 25 years," another U.N. Arabic interpreter told The Post.
Now if you have been wondering about the poor quality of translation in the video above, bear in mind that it was Gaddafi translated live by his hand picked interpreter. According to the Post, Gaddafi told the UN that regular UN interpreters don't understand a special dialect the Leader of the Revolution speaks and so he had to bring one from Libya. This created a certain confusion given that it's known that Gaddafi can speak standard Arabic. The misunderstanding was absolutely unnecessary, however, as the special dialect of Gaddafi has little to do with Arabic and its varieties but a lot with the way Gaddafi is draining sanity from those attempting to translate his verbal diarrheas. "He’s not exactly the most lucid speaker. It’s not just that what he’s saying is illogical, but the way he’s saying it is bizarre," one Arabic interpreter said.
Gaddafi's orations apparently also have a certain tendency to degenerate into incoherent ramblings presenting a particularly tough challenge for translation. "Sometimes he mumbles, sometimes he talks to himself," another interpreter said. Gaddafi's habbit to regress into unconscious states of mind and keep mumbling to himself during his speeches makes him similar to another prehistoric creature, though unlike Gaddafi that creature tended to do this while submerged in mud instead of while orating and it went extinct a while ago.
(Another explanation for Gaddafi's insistence on dragging his interpreter after him to all international forums is that, as Gaddafi is growing senile, he seems to be increasingly sinking into that conspiratorial paranoia mindset so typical of the Arabs and other Middle Easterners. He is probably mistrusting other interpreters, suspecting them of taking part in some global international conspiracy to prevent him from delivering his message to the world's masses)
Anyway, as Gaddafi was laying siege to the sanity of his audience, his own interpreter was toast half way through the speech and the U.N.’s Arabic section chief was provided with a day off the very next day after attempting to translate the last 20 minutes of Gaddafi's insanity. Some could not take it anymore even before. Such was the US president Barack Obama, who escaped the premises immediately after he finished with his own speech and before Gaddafi proceeded to tearing his interpreters and audiences asunder.
The circus definitely did not end with Gaddafi as the podium was later taken over by the likes of Chavez and Ahmadinejad. The last one has again bored the living daylights out of the audience with his peculiar Holocaust, or better anti-Holocaust, obsession. It's a shame Farouq Hosny has narrowly missed his chance to become the next head of UNESCO. He could be a valuable addition to the Middle Eastern section of a zoo they are running over there in New York. In conclusion, I would like to raise my voice to support many other sane people on this planet who argue for expanding the ranks and strengthening the authority of the UN and other international organizations. No multilateralism is complete unless every King of kings and other visionaries of the Middle East are on board. Go bring them all!
September 26, 2009
From my comment on another blog...
It’s plain obvious to any sane person that Gaddafi by now has largely lost his sanity. Gaddafi cannot be held responsible for what’s happening to him as he is out of his mind since years ago. Not that he is the only person in the world who on having reached old age experiences various cognitive problems, but in normal countries such people are usually taken care of by their families and social services. They are certainly not supposed to be a head of state.
That we are blessed with him lecturing in the General Assembly for hours is precisely because the Arab world from where he hails has not one single country that can be defined as even remotely normal and because we have this thing called the UN that provides them podium. Otherwise Gaddafi would have been promptly dispatched to some nursing facility or at least his insanity would have been confined to Libya and meetings of the Arab league. So it’s very apt that Gaddafi would come forward and call for the reform of the Security Council and such stuff because this is exactly what it’s about and Gaddafi represents well the theatre of absurd of this international multilateralism. The Arabs can at least be partially excused for this mess because until Gaddafi dies and his son takes over, they are stuck with him. But the Africans have simply elected him to head the AU this year out of their free will, when he appeared before them in his plain insanity. The global warming and sub-Saharran Africa’s "sub-replacement" IQ levels cannot make one more skeptical about the future of this continent than the fact that these clowns have elected Gaddafi to represent them.
Give more power and representation in international forums to all these Arab and African pseudo states and it will get even more hilarious. The West should get realistic about this family of nations and global community blah blah blah and start quietly sidelining the UN. Serious matters can be sorted out on Western internal forums. If necessary, BRIC nations can be invited. But the UN is a parody and to talk in serious about reforming it or its Security Council is beyond parody... Unless of course to reform means kicking out all these clowns starting from Gaddafi through Ahmadinejad to all other Kings of kings and leaders of revolutions.
The cap and trade uncertain future in America and its unimpressive achievements in Europe seem to be driving a renewed interest in its most obvious alternative - a carbon tax. These days even Exxon Mobil is stating its support for carbon taxes. Never mind the US car manufacturers who were begging for such a tax for years. Putting coal, ecology and global warming aside, a standalone carbon tax on oil makes sense from more than one perspective and yet America seems to be no closer to achieving it than before.
There may be several reasons behind this absurd situation, but without any doubt one, and maybe the most important of them all, is a widespread belief that carbon tax is going to hurt American taxpayers. But is there really going to be so much pain to hurt? Lets take another look at a revenue neutral gas tax which was probably discussed in the media more than any other carbon tax. The idea is that what we take in gas taxes, we cut elsewhere or we pay back in social benefits. Lets say that we are going to swap payroll taxes, income taxes, VAT... You name it, we can swap any of it for a carbon tax. Say we swap 50c immediately and then we swap 10c every next year over the course of a decade. So what's going to happen?
For a start, there is a simple law of microeconomics that postulates that regardless if a tax is imposed on the consumer or the producer, the price usually falls somewhere in between with a loss getting split between the two. Those who believe that the demand for oil is too inelastic for the carbon tax to be subject to this law, should check what happened in Oregon where gas taxes precipitated such a dramatic fall in tax revenues that the state had to consider replacing them with a mileage tax. This is very relevant for the US which is twice as much a global swing consumer as Saudi Arabia is a global swing producer. The US alone accounts for 25% of the global oil consumption. So a gas tax of $1 does not translate into the current price of gas plus $1. Say, the price will rise by 80c. Given that the taxpayer is fully refunded through the swap, the taxpayer wins 20c on every gallon. In this case the producer takes a loss of 20c and, given that so much of the US oil is imported, much of this loss inflicted on foreign producers. If this carbon tax comes in the form of a tariff on imported oil, it's a loss taken exclusively by foreign producers (read Arabs/Persians/Russians/Chavez).
Next, a carbon tax swap means that we are swapping regular taxes, say payroll taxes, with a "please avoid me" tax. If the taxes are swapped dollar for dollar, it's enough that a taxpayer then finds a job close to home and he is already winning. If the taxpayer switches to a hybrid or electric car, he is sabotaging the whole system. That's why any swap of regular taxes for carbon taxes amounts to sheer cutting taxes. A revenue neutral carbon tax swap won't stay revenue neutral even for a year. It's going to be the most dramatic cutting of taxes ever dared by the US government. That's why contrary to the reasoning of the "we don't raise taxes in recession" school of thought, carbon tax swap is perfect for recessions. This is because it's not about raising taxes but about restructuring them in a way that makes sense. Essentially carbon tax swap is a "do it yourself" stimulus package under which taxpayers are cutting their taxes themselves on the way reducing America's dependence on oil, defeating America's enemies abroad and creating thousands of green jobs at home. It's way better than the senseless throwing money around we've seen until now with its bridges leading to nowhere and whole sectors becoming dependent on government's handouts.
Finally, if a certain taxpayer prefers to pay carbon tax, he is not losing a penny as long as a tax swap is done dollar for dollar. But if in other corners of the economy people and business do their share of avoiding carbon taxes, they are bringing the price down for all taxpayers. You don't want to change? No problem. Let others change and benefit from their work.
Basically we are talking here about a massive wealth transfer from the US government and oil producers to the US taxpayers. In fact, with a bit of imagination a carbon tax swap can be improved to make it even more beneficial for an average person. For example, rich tend to account for a larger share of carbon fuels consumption. The swap can be designed in such a way that it does not refund the upper 10 percent, but instead redistributes their taxes between the rest. So a carbon tax swap can also include wealth redistribution. In this case the taxpayers are more than compensated for the carbon tax right from the beginning.
It's the misguided and confusing marketing campaign launched by some enthusiasts of carbon taxes that is very much responsible for leaving the public unaware of the many virtues of carbon tax. There was no point really for calling on the public to start sweating blood for the good of the nation. This is absurd. Carbon taxes are so good for taxpayers that they don't need any special apologetics, let alone of such a lame kind. If anything revenue neutral carbon tax swap needs guarantees from the political class against replay of the Oregon scenario. Such guarantees are the only thing that was missing here all the time. The politicians should make it clear that they are perfectly aware of the fact that for all practical purposes a revenue neutral carbon tax amounts to a massive and sustained tax cut, that a carbon tax swap can be implemented only as a gradually unfolding stimulus package. The political class should promise to resist temptations to smuggle in extra taxes to compensate the state for collapse in tax revenues a carbon tax swap is bound to produce.
As a matter of fact, politicians have more than enough reasons to resist such temptations due to the tremendous costs until now never properly reflected in the price of oil including oil's geopolitical externalities, the instability of the oil market and its manipulations by OPEC, the tremendous amount of local and state taxes wasted on supporting overgrown infrastructure and suburban sprawl created by the politics of cheap gas. In fact, oil's externalities and long terms costs of the carbon fuel consumption are probably the only thing that supporters of carbon tax swap have managed to communicate to the public correctly. Where they failed is convincing the public that what's good for the nation is not automatically bad for the public and they failed in this precisely because they have missed this point themselves. The beauty of revenue neutral carbon tax is that it's good for America as a nation, but it's even better for American taxpayers.
Chaim Gans on Gideon Levy's idea of a national referendum to determine the fate of the settlements and the occupation through challenging voters with a simple and straightforward question: "Do we continue the occupation, all of the occupation, yes or no? If yes, then yes, if no, then no." Levy thinks it's razor-sharp.
Levy's question is not razor-sharp because it ignores the dispute in this country over whether our standing in the territories is that of an occupier, and because it binds together in one category both the occupation and the settlements, instead of separating the two.
Continuing the occupation could be legitimate on security grounds; the question of whether those grounds justify its continuation is one that reasonable people could disagree about. Therefore, it would be truly legitimate to decide it by democratic means.
In contrast, nobody can think that settlements within the framework of occupation could be legitimate. A state is not entitled to colonize conquered lands, neither from the point of view of international law nor that of international morality. Therefore, a democratic majority cannot legalize such settlements, just as a democratic majority of a condominium's residents cannot legalize the beating up of one of the residents.
Nobody said... What we should do is to break this linkage between comprehensive agreement and settlements. The settlements should go regardless of what happens with this peace process. There is very little chance of anything good happening with it anyway.
The fiasco of the international pride parade in Jerusalem has precipitated a series of setbacks and debacles for the Israeli gay community that culminated in the recent shooting attack at a gay youth center in Tel Aviv. However, nothing reflects better the downfall of the gay community than the following story from Haaretz.
About ten years ago, the story goes, two young male vultures in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo have started an intense romantic relationship than won headlines in local and international media. In line with Israel's liberal atmosphere of the time, the couple was not only allowed to form a socially acceptable same sex relationship, but enjoyed various other rights up to foster care and adoption. The two vultures were provided by the Jerusalem Zoo with an artificial egg which they incubated in turns for 45 days. Later the couple was allowed to adopt a vulture chick.
A few years ago, however, the story took an unexpected twist which in some ways parallels similar developments in the society as a whole. As Yehuda was growing increasingly disillusioned with the shallow ethical relativism of the pseudo enlightened post modernist materialism, he eventually opted out of the relationship for the sake of setting up a conventional family based on traditional values with a female vulture called Beatrix. According to Haaretz, this change of heart was no less complete than it was swift and unexpected.
"Yehuda has been living with Beatrix for a few years now, and they are a fantastic couple," Erez said. "Yehuda is more committed. He often doesn't even let Beatrix incubate the eggs and insists on doing it on his own."
The heart broken Dasnik had to be moved to the zoological research garden at Tel Aviv University, where after a prolonged and painful deliberation, he decided to mend his sinful ways by setting a nest with a female vulture. In some ways Dasnik even surpassed his former mate by stubbornly refusing to take any part in incubation, insisting instead on a strictly traditional division of family responsibilities and household chores. The end result, however, was astonishingly similar in both cases.
"This is an insane coincidence," said Michal Erez, head of the birds section at the Jerusalem zoo, "but the spouses of both Yehuda and Dashik laid an egg on the same day, the eggs hatched on the same April day, and the two chicks were exactly the same weight. Their weight can vary between 120 and 200 grams, and I've never seen two hatchlings of the exact same weight."
Over the next few days this blog may become a mess as I want to migrate it to a new template. Nothing to worry about. This whole region is going to be a big mess and soon and my blog is just a part of the global trend. Meanwhile you can try to calm yourself down by reading the Economist's latest special report on Africa: The baby bonanza
September 15, 2009
nominally challenged said...
I have to say, I saw the title of this post and was hoping that you were going to write something about population migrations. Given your recent posts on demographics, I personally would be fascinated to read something about migration statistics and how that's already affecting and going to affect us all, since birth rates are only part of the entire story. So perhaps once you've finished your own personal migration, if you have a chance, and sufficient interest, I'd be very interested in hearing what you have to say ... :D
ENTEBBE, Uganda (AFP) – Africans must travel to the moon to investigate what developed nations have been doing in outer space, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Saturday.
"The Americans have gone to the moon. And the Russians. The Chinese and Indians will go there soon. Africans are the only ones who are stuck here," Museveni said, addressing a meeting of the Uganda Law Society in Entebbe.
"We must also go there and say: 'What are you people doing up here?'."
Museveni urged the assembly of Uganda's top lawyers to support East African integration, arguing that one of the region's goals should be to develop a space programme.
"Uganda alone cannot go to the moon. We are too small. But East Africa united can. That is what East African integration is all about," he said. "Then we can say to the Americans: 'What are you doing here all alone?'."
Frankly, I used to think that East African integration was all about to avoid collectively dying from hunger. Anyway, guys, if you are going to the moon, maybe you can give a free ride to a few good friends of ours. The Palestinians and the Persians are the first to come to my mind. They have never been to the moon too.
Danny Howells - On The Moon
May 5, 2009
Due to a possible departure of president Museveni to the moon, this post was placed under "Shalom Haver" label, where mr Museveni will help the gorilla to strengten the African section of my farewell letters.
For every nation in the world there should be an Ahmadinejad
By Hyung-jin Kim, Associated Press Writer
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea threatened Wednesday to wipe the United States off the map as Washington and its allies watched for signs the regime will launch a series of missiles in the coming days.
"If the U.S. imperialists start another war, the army and people of Korea will ... wipe out the aggressors on the globe once and for all," the official Korean Central News Agency said.
The Economist has joined Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni by lending support to his radical plan of dramatic expansion of the East African Community (EAC). "Why should an East African federation stop with the club’s existing member countries?" was the venerable publication wondering in its latest edition.
And why should an East African federation stop with the club’s existing member countries? If defined by the area in which the lingua franca of the Swahili language is used, the range of lorries heading out of the Kenyan port of Mombasa, and the magnet of Nairobi as a hub, east Africa spreads into Ethiopia and includes a chunk of Somalia, a swathe of east Congo, a strip of northern Mozambique and all of southern Sudan, which could become an independent country in 2011, if its people vote in a promised referendum to secede.
Indeed. The federation definitely can and should expand beyond the country's existing members. The Economist appears to be unaware, however, of the president Museveni outer space ambitions which, if come true, will lead the East African Federation to eventually spread across the whole solar system and come to include Mars, Venus and Jupiter, never mind the Moon. The United States, which has a good chance by that time to get wiped off the Earth's map by North Korea, should certainly be relieved to know that it's not going to be left up there all alone.