December 29, 2008

How You Can Help Gaza

The folks at 7iber and Action Committe are organizing a drive to help out the people in Gaza. So if you've been watching the news the last couple of days, and are feeling frustrated and helpless and would like to do something, here's your chance:

Drop off clothes (specifically blankets and jackets) that are in good condition or canned goods (except meats) at Cozmo or Books@Cafe tomorrow, December 30th between 6.30 and 8.30 PM. Try and package your donations in boxes or at least double-bag them. They will be delivered to the Hashemite Charity Commission, which is the only convoy allowed to cross the border this week. Here's the link for the facebook event.

Also if you’re looking to give blood (which is in demand right now), you can go to the places mentioned in the list below.

- National Blood Bank branch, behind the Khaldi Hospital, just off the Fourth Circle
- University of Jordan Hospital, contact: 00962788607870

Full details at the Black Iris.

December 27, 2008

On Ghaza

"There is only one difference between the attacks between Israel's IDF forces and Hamas's rocket launches: Israel's are effective. Both sides fired rockets/missiles into regions populated by civilians. Both sides claim their opponent's civilians to be legitimate targets because of their support for their respective regimes. Hamas fires 20-90 kg unguided rockets. Israel fires Air-to-Ground precision guided missiles in the 130-150 kg range. It should not be surprising that one side produces an irritant while the other produces death and destruction."

Israel Versus Gaza: A Ridiculous War Dictated by a Lack of Alternatives

And while over 200 Palestinians are dead and over 400 injured, you got Israel vowing to expand the attacks and Washington calling on Hamas to stop the rocket attacks, attacks that are so inaccurate and so ineffective that sometimes end up killing the Palestinians themselves, but are being used as an excuse for the Ghaza attacks. The Israelis come off looking as poor and helpless, and that all they're doing is defending their people. How many more people must die in the name of this power struggle?

December 25, 2008

Christmas Pictures!

Christmas around Amman:

A couple of pictures around town that I managed to snap whenever I had the camera on me.
































































Christmas around the house:

And some pictures I took last night.

















































Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!


I'll post some pictures later but for now I have a turkey dinner to get to! Have a wonderful christmas everyone and enjoy the holiday :D

Some Professor Claims Revealing Clothing Leads to Breast Cancer

Check out this ridiculous piece in today's Alghad. Some professor (professor, NOT doctor) is claiming that there is a direct relationship between the type of clothing and breast cancer, and that women who wear revealing clothes (who knows what's his definition of revealing clothes), are more prone to breast cancer. According to him, cells in the breast area receive more energy than other cells (huh??) which would lead to cancer. How this relates to clothes in any way is not mentioned.

But hey, I'm no doctor, so to give him the benefit of the doubt I did a little googling, perhaps I will find something that will remotely support his claims. Nothing. But a little googling about Mr. Professor reveals that he studied mechanical engineering (yes, not medicine) in the Hashemite university (no not any German university anywhere, for whoever wrote this sad excuse for an article), then went on to study biomedical engineering (again, not medicine) and is very-religiously affiliated to say the least.

He unveiled his revolutionary findings in a lecture that he gave yesterday at the Jordanian Society for Scientific Research, which is quite ironic (and pretty sad) given the fact that he made no research nor came up with ANYTHING to support whatever theory he has to scare women into dressing conservatively in a shameless attempt to get women to blame themselves for contracting such a terrible illness.

Who allows these people to lecture? Can anybody just come up with a piece of junk theory and go preach to ignorant people about it? (just check comment 2 to see how they can have an impact). And then we go reporting it as actual facts? This is downright infuriating. If this is our idea of scientific research, then boy are we in over our heads.

December 16, 2008

Thabahtoona, Lay Off GJU!

Thabahtoona, The National Campaign for Defending Students' Rights has issued yet another statement criticizing GJU, the German Jordanian University, this time because of the decision to remove it from the unified admission program. This means that students have to apply to the university separately, unlike with other public universities, where the student would send a list of choices of preferred universities and majors in descending order to the coordination office, and then depending on the student's average, the number of students applying, etc, the student will be accepted in one of the choices they have listed.

Now before I delve into the reasons the university it is not listed along with other universities I'll give an overview about it. GJU, where I'm a second year student, was founded only 3 years ago. It is partly funded by the Jordanian government and partly funded by the German government. Since the official campus near Madaba is still under construction, the temporary location is at the Royal Scientific Society, in 3 buildings that are rented by the university.

The reason why it is not part of the unified admission program is very simple: the university's fees and programs are different from other universities, and when it was included, a large percentage of students who registered backed out later because they were surprised by the requirements and the fees. The higher fees, another subject of criticism, are attributed to the different educational approach used by the university. The maximum capacity of students to eventually be reached is only 5000, a maximum of only 30 students are allowed in one class, students are obliged to study German and must spend their fourth year in Germany, to name some of the features that distinguish the university.

I'm not saying this to promote the university (believe me, I'm not one to do that), nor to criticize the campaign, because they do have a good purpose. But I'm sure there are other more important things to push for. Wastas in universities, improving the quality of education itself or biased professors off the top of my head. So lay off!

December 15, 2008

Iraqi Journalist Throws Shoes At Bush!

Hahahahaha! I think he just articulated the feelings of millions around the world.


December 7, 2008

Extremely Immature Post

Yes, very immature I know, but I literally teared up from laughing at this!




h/t: Qusai Sawalha

December 4, 2008

This Vacation's To-Do-List!

I finished my morning lectures a while ago, and my vacation has officially started. While I look forward to a 10 day vacation just like any other normal person, I'm kind of dreading the whole spending time with your family thing. Don't get me wrong, I love my family and everything, but 10 days of family time? No, thank you! (at this point I kinda wish my parents didn't know of this blog, but oh well.)

So anyway I made this list of stuff to do over the vacation. I make to-do-lists all the time, even though I almost never do anything I had planned to do, but I feel like I need to have a list. This vacation's list includes:


  • Finish reading the Divine Comedy. I've been meaning to read it for quite some time now and so I downloaded the story version along with the the poem, since it's easier to follow. It includes Gustav Dore's illustrations which are just fascinating.
  • Finish 1984 by George Orwell or at least get back to reading it. I started reading it back in June, but I only finished like 30 pages and then forgot about it. I'm not a very good reader I admit it, I'm very easily distracted.
  • Put up the Christmas tree! Although I absolutely hate New Year's (something about the pressure of having to make resolution and new starts), I love Christmas time, and I get very excited about putting up the tree and watching the Christmas movies and making the cookies! But the weather has got to stop being sunny and warm. Start raining! We're in December!
  • Watch a lot of TV. And I mean a lot. Maybe have a Gilmore Girls marathon with a couple of friends.
  • Crash my friends' houses for Eid treats :D
  • See if I can sign up for some activity with Cycling Jordan or Terhaal or something, seeing as I'm a member in their facebook groups and they send me messages each week about the activities they're offering but I always delete them because I think I never have the time.
  • Finish the multitude of assignments I have to get done, which I just know I'm going to end up doing on the very last day. My procrastination habits will never die.
  • Blog a little more often perhaps :$

So what will you be doing this vacation?

What Is Up With Zain?!

The network I mean. Lately, I haven't been able to make a decent phone call either because of the error in connection which forces me to dial again, or because I can't hear anything from the other caller until I step outside or something. And it's not even Eid yet! Anybody else having problems?

November 25, 2008

20% of Women Face Domestic Violence, 19% Have No Problem With It


The stupidity of the human race never ceases to amaze me, really. A recent scan conducted by the Department of Statistics revealed that 20% of married women suffer from domestic violence, and that 19% of women believe it's a man's right to punish his wife. As in beat her whenever he damn chooses. So if we assume that those 19% are married, only 1% have a problem with having the crap beaten out of them.


Sometimes I think what's the point of feminism here if women are content with all the injustice they're facing. Then I think that maybe it's their way of dealing with such an awful reality.


But here's something to feel optimistic about. In 2005, statistics showed that 87% condone violence against women.


November 23, 2008

Hilarious Video By Queen Rania

Brilliant! Just brilliant!




h/t : Roba

November 11, 2008

Just In Case You're Going to Thailand

..don't fall asleep in a bus.

A 23-year-old Thai man who woke up with a cockroach in his ear on a public bus has sparked a public health drive to improve sanitation. Kittipong Khamdong, who had taken an overnight bus from Khon Kaen province to Chiang Mai Monday, awoke in the middle of the night with an unwanted passenger lodged in his left ear, the Bangkok Post reported.

At the first pit stop in Phitsanulok, Kittipong dashed to the bathroom and managed to remove the cockroach with a cotton bud but suffered a severe ear bleed and tinnitus, a roaring sensation in the inner ear.

Yeeesh.

November 9, 2008

Patriotism or Pretention?

Today, in commemoration of the 9/11 attacks, my university had planned to observe a minute silence outside the university building. But what was intended as a respectful ceremony to pay homage to the victims seemed to have turned into spectacle of festivities. From students dancing dabkeh to the songs of Omar Al Abdallat on car speakers to the loud and sudden chants of ya3eesh jalalat il malak il mo3atham (long live his majesty the king).

Now I have nothing against pledging allegiance to your country, heck I listen to the same songs on Mohammad il Wakeel's show in the car whenever I have early classes (better than coffee to wake you up... well, almost.) But I wonder if this public display of chants and patriotic slogans is genuine, or is it just another show for us to sing and shout at? I wonder if the same people wearing their hattas oh so proudly wouldn't toss it away in the blink of an eye for a chance to move to the US let's say. I'm not one to judge here, but I think there's more to patriotism than chants and songs.

It bugged me how a sad memory was made into a parade.

On This November 9th



I remember how 3 years ago, over 60 lives were lost and many more were left to suffer to this day. While terrorist attacks in neighboring countries have happened before, nothing could have prepared us for the shock. It's not the same when it hits home. The disbelief that even Jordan, with all it's mighty intelligence was not immune to the sick, brainwashed terrorists who claim religion as their motive.


I remember the strong feelings of patriotism that seemed to have been awakened in everyone, the anger and incomprehension that united us.


You will not be forgotten.


November 5, 2008

It's Obama!
























So the Americans did it and made history as the first African-American was elected president of the United States and I can't help but feel joyful and excited. I think Obama's message of hope and change has spread here, to our side of the world, and we desperately need a change after what can only be described as a catastrophic presidency of George Bush. It's no longer about how will benefit this region, it's about who will cause the least harm.


And so here's to hoping the world will become a better place, even if just a little. And adieu to the mavericks. Frankly, I would've shot myself had I had to hear Palin's you betchas and say it ain't sos for the next four years. But most importantly, goodbye George Bush, you nutjob. May we never see the likes of you again.


P.S. McCain is quite the gracious loser, I have to say.

November 4, 2008

November 1, 2008

19

You are only young once, but you can be immature for a lifetime

John P. Grier





















It's been a very good year.

October 31, 2008

What's On My Mind This Week

  • I'm pretty shocked that police in Jordan are actually setting traps to arrest alleged homosexuals. According to "sources", this crackdown is to prevent the increasing numbers of gays, whose number is approximately 600, from spreading STDs. Where they obtained such a number is beyond me. Now I'm not campaigning for LGBT over here, but i find this inhumane and stupid, especially when they put it under the excuse of "preventing STD spread". You want to prevent STDs? Make sex education a part of highschool curricula. The way I see it, this "campaign" is just to win easy points with the public.

  • I can't believe Jordan is one of the four water-poorest countries in the world. We sure don't act like it. We use water like we have an infinite supply of it. Just observe the streams of soapy water running down the streets from people hosing down their cars every morning. It's ridiculous.
  • 17 honor crimes have occurred to this day since the start of 2008. Four only this month.

  • I love the cold weather. Despite the fact that people sort of freak out and the streets become crazy from the combination of stupid drivers and a practically non-existent drainage system. I love the rain, the jackets, the scarves, the blankets. It's all very cosy. I even don't mind being cold. But I don't understand why only my right hand gets cold, mostly when I'm working on the computer. I'm right-handed, so if anything, shouldn't it be my left hand that gets cold? So every 20 minutes or so i go to the kitchen and stand over the stove for a minute, till my hand gets warm, after which i resume my computer session.


  • Cups and kilos is an awesome place. Even though I've been introduced to it fairly recently, like 2 months ago, I've been an addict ever since. I especially like any banana-flavoured drinks they have. Last week they had a concert featuring college students playing cover songs and jazz tunes, it was really nice. A friend of mine has been going to the same Cups and Kilos branch for 25 consecutive days now!
  • I've been a terrible blogger and I know it. I'm feeling pretty guilty about it, and I've been kicking myself for it especially since toot added a new bunch of bloggers about a week ago. It's that i can't seem to get back to the blogger mode I was in when I first started this blog. That's when you automatically start writing posts in your head and start categorizing everything into bloggable or non-bloggable. Hmmmmph.

And now that my right-hand has become cold again, I'm going to go.

October 22, 2008

Bloody Murder

Is it me, or are murder stories in Jordan becoming more and more common? Everytime I open the newspaper there seems to be a new murder in the headlines, each one more violent and shocking than the next. 

So I took a look at the archives, and over the last 10 days the following took place: 

  • A 61-year old shot his 17-year-old daughter to death in an "honor crime" in Al Balqa. Upon questioning, the father said his daughter allegedly confessed to having consensual sexual relations. A source said he saw the victim's family members congratulating each other after the murder.
  • A 44-year-old man murdered his married 42-year-old sister by strangling her with a "dishdasheh" (the traditional robe), in yet another so-called "honor crime". The victim, who has been living alone for the past 5 years because her husband is in prison, was murdered because "she would often leave the house without her family's approval". The victim became the 15th person killed for an honor crime since the beginning of the year. You think we'll be able to reach our yearly average of 20? 2 more months to go!

  • A body of a man in his thirties was found stabbed in the King Abdullah Gardens. The suspect, who confessed, reportedly killed his friend over 200 JDs. 

  • The body of a newborn baby was found attached to a tree in Wadi Il Seer. I don't know what to say about this one. This is just beyond despicable and sick.
  • A chopped up body turned up in Marka in Amman. The police apprehended the suspect, an Egyptian worker for the victim in his factory, who killed his boss for refusing to give him a raise, and them disassembled the body into four parts to facilitate moving it.
  • A man was sentenced for 10 years in prison for poisoning his neighbor unintentionally. The man wanted to kill his father by poisoning his tea, but a number of neighbors happened to drop by and drink the tee. Ah the irony.

Not to mention the multitudes of car accidents and hit-and-run accidents which seem to have become everyday news by now. Are we becoming a more violent society?



October 18, 2008

Just Who the Hell Is Joe the Plumber?

So the press seems to be smitten with this "Joe the Plumber" guy, who's apparently been mentioned by Obama and McCain a multitude of times. Check out this Jon Stewart video!



So who is he? He's your average American who when encountered Obama, asked him about and criticized his tax-plan. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame, Joe.

October 5, 2008

What Your Tax JDs Are Paying For


مجلس الوزراء قرر في الجلسة التي عقدها قبل اسبوعين منح اعفاءات جمركية لسيارات اعضاء مجلس النواب. وبموجب القرار فان آلية حصول النواب على الاعفاء ستكون بالحصول على كتاب بهذا الخصوص من دائرة الجمارك اعتبار من اليوم للتوجه لشراء ما يرغبون من انواع السيارات.وحصل نواب في المجالس النيابية السابقة على اعفاءات جمركية فيما حصل نواب المجلس النيابي الرابع عشر على تسهيلات جمركية ومالية فقط للحصول على سيارات

[Source]

As if a JD2460 a month salary is not enough, now our lovely Parliament members are entitled to duty free cars, all paid for by us, the naive Jordanians who helped elect them in the first place. And to do what? To go and throw water and juice cups on each other. Great. Long live democracy.

October 4, 2008

Bab El 7ara Mania

Silly me, I thought it couldn't get any worse than the obsession with the notorious Noor and Muhannad. But we sure take our entertainment very seriously.


Attempting to recreate the famous show, a group of youngsters renamed two areas in Tla'a il Ali, Amman into "7aret Shaker" and "7aret al Bostan" after the tv show Bab il 7ara, and then ignited a fight between the two "7aras" that was broken up by the police.


Now I understand the show's popularity with the older demographic: the nostalgia towards old values and traditions in a modern society now, but I really wonder why so many young people find it appealing. I mean, even my 11 year-old cousins were avid followers of the show.

But like Noor, this show's popularity will also remain a conundrum that baffles me. Oh well.

September 27, 2008

Stupid News Stories

I honestly don't know what Alghad editor was thinking when he approved this news story which is now placed in the front page of their website. The entire news piece basically describes the life story of Areen, a 24 year-old born in the Israeli occupied Joulan, and is leaving her family and home to wed her cousin in Syria.




سارت عرين بخطى حذرة في ثوب زفافها الابيض عبر الأسلاك الشائكة التي تحيط بهضبة الجولان لتلتقي زوجها في الجانب الآخر من الاراضي السورية. وقبل ان تبتعد التفتت بعيون ملؤها الدمع لتلقي نظرة اخيرة على ارض مولدها التي لا تعرف ان كانت ستعود اليها يوما




ولدت عرين الصفدي قبل 24 عاما في قرية عين قينيا الدرزية في منطقة تشرف على الاراضي اللبنانية والسورية على هضبة الجولان الاستراتيجية التي تحتلها اسرائيل منذ 1967.وقبل عدة ايام، بدأت عرين الاستعداد للرحلة التي تقودها الى سوريا حيث تتزوج الاحد ابن خالها ربيع الذي يعيش في بلدة جرمانا القريبة من دمشق.




اما تحضيرات الزفاف فبدأت قبل اكثر من اسبوعين. ولدى مصفف الشعر قالت عرين التي كانت ترتدي بنطلون جينز ضيقا "انا بالطبع سعيدة لاني ساتزوج، ولكني حزينة لاني ساغادر عائلتي". ووسط زحمة تحضيرات العرس تمكنت عرين من زيارة صالون للتجميل للعناية بزينتها وطلاء اظافرها الطويلة. ولكن رغم انشغالها وفي حين كانت اخصائية التجميل تكحل عينيها السوداوين بدا عليها القلق. "كلما اقترب الموعد احسست بصعوبة الامر لكني احبه وهذا خياري".واضافت "سأبدأ حياة جديدة. من الصفر".



كل ما تعرفه عرين عن سوريا هو ما سمعت عنه او شاهدته على شاشة التلفزيون، وهي تعرف ان "حياتهم بالطبع مختلفة عن طريقة حياتنا". ولا يزال اهل الجولان يحافظون على تقاليدهم مع بعض الانفتاح بسبب التواصل مع المجتمع الاسرائيلي.



في اليوم المحدد للسفر، استيقظت عرين في الرابعة صباحا وتوجهت الى اشهر محل لتصفيف الشعر في بلدة مجدل شمس المجاورة من حيث خرجت وهي تضع تاجا وترتدي طرحة العرس وثوب الزفاف. كان جميع الاهل والاصدقاء مجتمعين في منزل العروس لوداعها. بكت النساء وانطلقت حناجر بعضهن بالزغاريد. ولم يتمكن بعض الرجال من مقاومة دموعهم. تم تحميل امتعتها وملابسها واغطية السرير المطرز في شاحنة سترافقها الى دمشق. وقف ابوها يحيى بعينين دامعتين صامتا في ركن من باحة البيت. قال ودموعه تخنقه وهو يشاهد افراد العائلة يقتربون منها لوداعها، "لم انم طيلة ليلة البارحة. لقد ربيتها وشاهدتها تكبر".



حانت ساعة الرحيل فتحرك موكب طويل من السيارات باتجاه مركز القنيطرة الحدودي. وقف جنود اسرائيليون مسلحون يضعون نظارات سوداء على عيونهم لحمايتهم من الشمس يلتقطون صورا للعروس والموكب. حتى تتمكن من مغادرة ارض آبائها المحتلة كان على عرين ان توقع مضطرة على ورقة تقول انها تتنازل عن حقها بالاقامة في الجولان. قالت الشابة بعدما وقعت تلك الوثيقة المؤلمة "اتخلى عن حقي واعرف اني قد لا اعود الى اهلي في غياب علاقات دبلوماسية بين سوريا واسرائيل".



لقد انتهت اقامة عرين في الجولان فبدأت رحلتها الجديدة عبر الاسلاك الشائكة وابراج المراقبة المموهة باللون الكاكي لملاقاة ربيع عند نقطة العبور في المنطقة العازلة بين البلدين. التفتت عرين وهي تحمل باحدى يديها باقة زهر ولوحت بالاخرى مودعة. اجتازت عند الساعة الحادية عشرة والنصف صباحا البوابة الكهربائية الصفراء التي اغلقها الجنود خلفها ببطء







Seriously? I would understand if this was a story in a magazine perhaps, but to run it in a daily newspaper? This is just an attempt at sensationalized journalism to attract readers. Like what good could it possibly do me to know that the bride-to-be was wearing tight jeans as she told her sad sad story? Are you kidding? And then we talk about improving the quality of journalism in the country. Scoff.

September 15, 2008

Here We Go Again!

The past week, head of the Royal Court, the very controversial Bassem Awadallah was once again under attack, this time for his alleged involvement in a human trafficking case that led to a lawsuit. I say once again because back in May, Awadallah was also viciously attacked by Parliament member Nariman Roussan for the land sales issue, who went as far as to compare him to Israeli spy Eli Cohen. And well, if you thought she won't be making another appearance amidst the chaos, you were highly mistaken.

This time, Roussan had questions for the government regarding an Independence day celebration that was aired on Jordan television. Apparently she is angry over cameras' focus on Awadallah during the event, and also because she's wasn't shown on television while greeting the King. The government sent her a detailed response saying that the cameras' positions are not determined on who will be standing in front of them, and that while a number of attendees (including Roussan) were coming in, one of the cameras encountered an error, which is why she wasn't shown on television. But she remains unconvinced.

Following what happened with writer Nahed Hattar, she may want to consider toning down her attacks on Awadallah a bit. See in the same week Hattar went on TV and attacked Awadallah, he also "resigned" from his post at a bank, stopped writing in his column in the newspaper and then suffered a health crisis that put him in the hospital. One of the commentators suggested that next news piece will read "Roussan suffers unfortunate car accident"!

You gotta love Jordanian politics.

September 14, 2008

Action Alert | Ramadan Food Drive!

So it’s that time of the year again folks and hopefully we can rally together to make a difference in the lives of a few citizens. The Action Committee has started its food drive for Ramadan and your help is needed! The Ramadan food package is going to cost 20JDs and will contain:

  • 3 kg Rice
  • 3 kg Sugar
  • 2 kg Beans
  • 2 kg Lentils
  • 6 Packs of Pasta
  • 2 Cans Tomato Paste
  • 1 kg Tea
  • 2 A’mar Eldin
  • 1 Oil
  • ½ kg Dates
  • 12 packs Maggie


The drive is underway and will last for the next week or so, depending on the donations. The Action Committee is targeting the last 10 days of Ramadan for distribution.


So tell a friend, tell a family member, tell the neighbor, tell the people at work, even the weird guy who sits in the corner of the office and who no one talks to; this could be your chance.

For bloggers: Forward this message. Post about it. Spread it. Mobilize!


You can contact Sara at 079-5154498

Facebook group

[Source]

September 8, 2008

Matrix Aborted!

Hilarious Hajjaj cartoon about the recent developments with the investment company Matrix.

September 3, 2008

Now That's What I Call Irony

Check this. Did they call for an ambulance for the ambulance? Hmmm....

September 1, 2008

Back in Jordan!

After a month spent in Bremen, I am back again in beloved Jordan. Apologies for the lack of blogging, but I had no time to post anything. The course was great, the group I went with was great and the city itself was really nice. The weather was mostly cold, which in comparison with Amman's weather now is considered pretty good! Anyway, here are some pictures from the trip:


The Weser River, along which Bremen lies:





















A statue at the City Centre representing die Bremer Stadtmusikanten, or the Town Musicians of Bremen, a Brothers Grimm fairytale about a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster who set off for Bremen to escape the abuse of their masters. On their way they enter a house and find a bunch of robbers, so they stand on each other's backs and make noises that scare off the robbers. The four animals have become the symbol of the city:




















Pictures from the City Centre:
























Hamburg:

























A trip to Heidepark, one of the biggest amusement parks in Germany and Europe:



















The largest drop tower in the world, appropriately named Scream, drops 71 m in 2 seconds (at a speed of about 98km/h). I rode it twice :D























....and the steepest wooden roller coaster:





































The island of Neuwerk on the North Sea. During low tide, the island can be reached by foot, which is what we did. 12 KM walking barefoot, to return later by ship. Hectic, but the scenery was breathtaking to say the least:




































Some of the parks in Bremen:






















All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Few observations:
  • No food on the planet can measure up to Arabic food. Ever.
  • Out of of a group of 20 people from Jordan, only 4 actually came from Jordan. All 20, however, were proud to say they're from Jordan :)
  • Meeting people of different nationalities not only broadens your horizons, but makes you realise how similar people around the world are.
  • You will actually miss hearing fireworks, honking cars and trucks in the streets.
  • People around the world have immense respect and admiration for our King and Queen. Even if they don't know Jordan, just mention Queen Rania and they'll know where you're from.
  • I really do suck at directions. I should never be allowed to lead groups of people around.
  • When forced, I can manage to clean, shop for food, do laundry and iron. Therefore, contrary to my mother's beliefs, I will not die should I live alone.

Oh and Ramadan Mubarak lil jamee3! May it be a wonderful month with as few traffic accidents as possible!

August 3, 2008

Off to Germany!

Tomorrow morning I'll be leaving to Germany, where I will be taking part in a language course until August 30th. I'll be staying in Bremen (circled red in the map below), a city in Northwest Germany. I hope I will be able to blog from there, but I'm not sure as to the Internet access there as of yet. Let's hope there will be so I don't go into withdrawal symptoms and die.

Auf Wiedersehen!



Honor Crime and No Punishment

The Criminal Court attorney general on Saturday said he plans to appeal a ruling acquitting a family of an honor crime that occurred in July 2006. I know all honor crimes sound the same more or less, so I'll sum this one up for you:
  • 16-year-old is abused by her family, so she leaves the family tent (I'm serious), and heads to the Family Protection Department and files a complaint against them.

  • Her family become enraged when they find out, and decide to kill her. So they tie her up, pour kerosene on her and ignite her along with the family tent.

  • Victim tries to scream and flee but the father, mother, and two siblings (aged 19 and 16), prevent her. After she was dead, one of her brothers starts calling for help, claiming it was an accident.

  • The postmortem report indicated that the woman received burns on 96 per cent of her body and was charred beyond recognition.

  • Victim's female sibling refuses to testify against her family.

  • The court decides that the family never plotted to murder the victim and that the fire was "accidental", and acquitts the four defendants. “The defendants tried to wake the victim but were unable to in time. They managed to escape the fire but the victim remained trapped in the tent,” the court said in its 10-page ruling.


And if you're not sick to your stomach yet, this should do it:



Criminal Court Prosecutor Saturday charged a father and son with the premeditated murder of their 23-year-old female relative in the Kingdom’s latest so-called honor crime on Thursday, an official source said.


“The victim went missing for around four months. When she was found by police, they discovered that she was living with a man,” the source said.


The administrative governor ordered the victim to be detained on charges of adultery for an indefinite period for her own safety.


But after several visits, the father convinced him that he would not harm his daughter and won her release after signing a JD5,000 guarantee that he would not hurt her.


The father took his daughter home and as she was about to enter the house, her 21-year-old brother approached her and fired six shots at her, then immediately surrendered to police claiming that he had killed his sister in order to cleanse his family’s honor.


The victim became the ninth woman reportedly murdered in the Kingdom in a so-called honor crime since the beginning of the year. She is the second to be killed in the month of July.



August 1, 2008

Your Moment of Zen


That's John McCain hugging George Bush. Now isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever seen?

July 31, 2008

Jordan's Gender Equality Campaign


Yesterday I got the chance to join Gender Equality campaigners in Al-Wakalat Street as they walked around talking to people on the street about the campaign, asking them questions about equality and handing out stickers, posters and pins. I even got to walk around with my very own writing board and talk to some people. This campaign was started by a group of young Jordanians to raise awareness about women's rights.


Here's what I noticed. Equality is such a broad subject, and the term itself has a different meaning for each person. For some it may mean having equal opportunities as to education and work, while for others it means women being able to do whatever they want without society pressing down on them. While most of the people I talked to agreed that we need to have equality in general, when you ask specific questions, like does your husband help you in household chores, or do you allow your wife to work late, they would say no.


So my thoughts would be to focus on one side of the argument, for example the injustice against women in the constitution itself, like the citizenship law or punishment for honor crimes. Because to change laws you need to change mentalities, and this is how we can start.


Bravo to all you campaigners for taking matters into your own hands and raising awareness about a very important subject! They saw something, didn't like it, and decided to do something about it. You have restored my faith in our youth. And special kudos to Dina Liddawi and Lulwa Kilani, organizers of the campaign. Join the facebook group for news and updates on upcoming events.


Preparations for the Announcement of Tawjihi Results

So Tawjihi results will be out tomorrow. For those of you unfamiliar with Tawjihi, it's the Jordanian general secondary examination that determines students' university and major options. And everyone, EVERYONE, will find out your mark if you're a Tawjihi student.

Firing guns and use of fireworks -since their discovery in Jordan a couple of years ago- have become traditional celebratory festivities. Not to mention the convoys of honking cars with people sticking out the windows, of course. Which is why you should make sure you have the following if you intend to go out at all tomorrow:
  • bulletproof vest
  • earmuffs
  • traffic police on speed dial

Good luck to Tawjihi students, I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. As for non-Tawjihi students, bil salameh.


P.S. Who knows, maybe they'll make use out of Friday's eclipse for some early fireworks ;)

July 28, 2008

Solar Eclipse This Friday


At 1.34 PM Amman time this Friday, August 1st, a total solar eclipse is expected be visible in Jordan, and a partial eclipse in other neighboring countries. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the Sun and the Earth, blocking the Sun. Now eclipse or no eclipse, you shouldn't be looking directly at the Sun because it can cause blindness, but the reason we hear so many warnings about eclipses is because people are tempted to look and assume that since the light is dimmed it would be safe to look. So anyway, don't be stupid and look at the Sun. The whole thing will last less than two hours I believe.

Update
: Damn it, third update so far. Will newspapers stick to one story please? Turns out it's not a total solar eclipse, but a barely partial eclipse (no more than 1%), that won't be even visible. So go out and look at the Sun. Okay don't but just to let you know there isn't going to be anything to see.

July 27, 2008

July 22, 2008

The Growth of Extremism in Jordan

Jordanian security officials say nine militants have been arrested in connection with a shooting attack near the capital's Roman amphitheater.


One of those arrested is the father of the teenage Palestinian gunman who shot and wounded six people last Wednesday before he shot and seriously wounded himself the head.


Initially, officials have said gunman Thaer al-Weheidi had no links to terror groups. But on Monday, the security officials said they were investigating possible links with extremist groups.


[Source]


The arrested were part of the Salafi Jihadi stream, the movement responsible for breeding many terrorists, including the notorious Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi.

After the Jordan suicide bombings back in 2005, Jordan called for war against religious extremism and the whole Takfiri culture. But come to think of it, what reforms have really been made? Terrorist attacks are only symptoms of the problem, and clearly the problem, being extremism, is still prevalent and growing. In 2006, a gunman shot a Briton to death, also in the Roman amphitheater, while shouting "God is great".

We have the perfect recipe for extremism here: boredom, resentment, frustration, poverty. Drastic changes need to be made, and they need to be made now, if we are to prevent any further attacks. Like one of my commentators said, you can't have mosques preaching about death to infidels every Friday and then expect everything to be okay. What are we waiting for? Another suicide bombing?

[Ironically enough, the gunman's family has issued a statement condemning the attack by their relative and voiced their allegiance to the country and it's leadership. Yeah, okay.]

July 21, 2008

Nothing Much

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. I am definitely not helping with the boring blog status 7aki was talking about. The news is boring, same nonsense that makes you want to jump off a cliff. The difference is I haven't been in the mood to discuss it and depress myself. And I can't find anything else decent to talk about. I didn't think I'd be suffering from a writer's block this early. Ugh. But here you go, in a desperate attempt for a post, enjoy this obscenely hilarious video from Maz Jobrani. :D


P.S. I finally got my laptop. Praise the Lord. An Acer 5620G. It's a nice laptop.

July 17, 2008

Downtown Concert Shootings

What's this about??!

An unidentified gunman shot and injured at least six musicians on Wednesday after a concert in the capital before committing suicide, security officials said.


They said the incident took place after a performance by the Amman symphony orchestra with a Lebanese choir at the Roman amphitheatre in the congested downtown area of the capital.


The gunman shot himself in the head after being chased, one witness said.


The musicians' injuries were mostly light to moderate although one was seriously hurt, a security official said.

[Source]


The event was "An Opera Night Under the Stars", a concert by the Amman Symphony Orchestra and the Choir of the Holy Spirit University from Lebanon. Hmmm.

Stupid people ruining our image AND our tourism. This is the fourth attack on tourists in the last two years. This may be an isolated incident, but there's some mentality behind it.

I think it's about time we outlawed possession of guns.

Here are more links for further information.

July 14, 2008

Do You Find This Offensive?


Take a look at this cartoon by prominent cartoonist Emad Hajjaj. It shows a man talking to Mohannad from the hit show Noor, saying "The Arab woman is a fan. She's her own enemy in elections. She consents to beating and polygamy. She likes to have boys and not girls. She doesn't continue her education because of society's customs. She is of dark skin but with a blond complex. Modern in appearance but empty in substance." To which Mohannad replies, "Just what I needed! An Arab woman who is no match for the Turkish women! Just give her my photo and tell her much obliged."


The National Committee for Women in Jordan, represented by Asma Khader, whom I greatly admire, sent a letter to Alghad newspaper, where the cartoon was published, expressing resentment about the drawing, which according to them "portrays an unfair image about Arab women, and Jordanian women in particular, and that the negatives he mentioned are the exception and should not be generalized."


Now I agree, the drawing is overly generalizing, because of course it does not describe all Arab women, but then again, isn't exaggeration the point of most cartoons? That's how they convey their message. And let's face it, the negatives are not the exception. Most of what he said is sadly correct. Women are their own worst enemy, and I always say that. Last elections were the first time a woman won outside the designated women's quota. A step forward, without a doubt, but ONE woman. Out of 104 parliamentary seats, just one woman won. Also, many women are just looking to get married, and whether their husbands are already married, beat them, forbid them from working or continuing their education is besides the point, because society dictates they get married or else they're considered a source of shame for their families. And don't get me started on how in this day and age, people, including WOMEN, still prefer baby boys over baby girls. And the blond complex? How else could Fair and Lovely still be in business? Or the rest of Amman's hairdressers for that matter?


I disagree with Hajjaj in that not all those who watch the show are empty and superficial. I mean come on, it's just a TV show, even though I still do not understand the obsession. And half the poeple I know who watch the show are actually guys. I think maybe Hajjaj was lamenting how people became obsessed with a show and seemed to forget all the problems we have? I don't know. But I for one, refuse to attack Hajjaj. He is one of the very few openly speaking male feminists in our society and he deserves some credit for that.

Jordanian Bloggers Making the News

Here's an article about Jordanian bloggers in the Star newspaper mentioning Batir from Jordan Watch, Naseem from the Black Iris and myself. It's nice to see that bloggers are becoming more known in the mainstream media. Here's to freedom of expression!

July 13, 2008

Another Victim In the Name of Honor

Authorities are still questioning the family of a minor who allegedly stabbed his older sister to death to cleanse his family’s honour earlier this month, official sources said.

The 23-year-old victim, who was not identified by officials, was stabbed 11 times in the chest, reportedly by her 17-year-old brother at their home on July 3.

The suspect immediately turned himself in to the police claiming to have killed his sister to cleanse the family’s honour because his sister went missing from home for 35 days.

“So far, the only person to be detained is the suspect and the criminal prosecutor has charged him with manslaughter,” an official source told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

The victim was arrested almost a week before her murder, the source said, adding that the governor handed her over to her family on July 3 after her father signed a guarantee that he would not harm his daughter.

The following day, the suspect reportedly stabbed his sister to death after she allegedly informed him she was involved in an affair with a man in the area, according to the source.

A postmortem conducted at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine by pathologist Hani Jahshan indicated that the victim was not involved in any sexual activity.

In his initial testimony to police, the suspect claimed he was sitting alone with his sister in the kitchen discussing her absence from home when she told him that she was “seeing a man”.

“The suspect told interrogators he became enraged and stabbed his sister to death in a moment of rage after hearing her confession,” the source added.

Meanwhile, a second source close to the investigation told The Jordan Times that a pathologist examined the victim shortly after the police found her and she denied being involved in any affair.

“The victim informed examiners that she left home because her family discovered that she owned a mobile phone and she feared their reaction, adding that she stayed at a friend’s house until the authorities found her,” the source explained.

The victim became the eighth woman reportedly murdered in a so-called honour crime in Jordan since the beginning of the year.

[Source]

I don't know what to say. I really don't. Even if the brother is convicted of manslaughter without the use of article 98, the juvenile law would be implemented which allows him to return to society with a clear criminal record after an educational training in some juvenile correctional centre.

I'm so sick of this. I'm disgusted. And I'm ashamed that this happens in MY country. OUR country. And I feel helpless.

What a perverse definition of honor we have.

Sigh.

Note: So did Arabic newspapers just stop reporting honor crimes? There was no mention of this in Alghad.


July 12, 2008

We're Never Going To Be Civil, Are We?

Almost a week after the Tafileh Tech tribal violence, which put the university's president in the hospital, and involved a party of 16 firing bullets at a former MP's house, another incident of tribal violence rears it's ugly head, only this time in Kerak. After a ferocious fight between two families, the parties ended up at the SAME hospital causing the fight to reignite, and about 100 people started using knives, batons (ganwat), sticks and rocks to assault each other. Patients in the hospital had to be taken out for their safety and a lot of damage was done to the hospital's emergency department. The police eventually controlled the disturbance and took the second batch of injuries to a different hospital this time.

And now the same, old ridiculous play will repeat itself, when "distinguished leaders and academics" of one tribe will ask the other for a truce (most likely forced by someone), and the whole thing ends with no consequences for those who initiated the fight. Not as long as you know a guy who knows a guy. Nobody would have the guts to get in a fight if they didn't know a bigshot in the first place.

And so the vicious cycle continues. Doesn't matter how modern we seem, we really still have a mentality from the middle ages.

July 11, 2008

King Abdullah On Star Trek?!

I can't believe I didn't know this before! In 1995, back when he was a prince, King Abdullah played an uncredited extra in a Star Trek episode. Apparently, he wasn't given any lines because he wasn't a member of the Screen Actors Guild. His Majesty? A Trekkie? This is so cool!!













July 10, 2008

One Month Blogoversary

Observations of a Jordanian is officially a month-old! Don't worry, I won't be doing this every month, but it's a slightly significant milestone for me that I thought deserved a post. For some reason, don't ask me why, some people are actually liking the blog. Crazy, I tell ya. To be frank, when I made the blog, I had no clue what I'd do with it. I hadn't decided on what I would be writing about, I just thought I'd post whatever interested me. Post after post, I found myself sticking to the "serious" stuff, or local issues, and I was branded an "issues blogger", a title I find very flattering, especially considering that the Jordanian blogosphere doesn't have a lot of issue bloggers, and even fewer issue bloggerettes.

Anyway, i'm rambling. I just wanted to thank everyone who's been reading the blog, and fellow bloggers who've welcomed this newbie. Also, suggestions/ideas/criticism are always welcome. Besides, I can always delete your comments. :p

July 9, 2008

Your Dose of Sarcastic News Clippings

  • Jordanian fails to commit suicide for the 11th time. He tried to throw himself off the fourth floor of a building while extremely inebriated, but backed out at the last minute. Oh well, 12th time's the charm.

  • Prime Minister Nader Dahabi appointed Minister of Media and Communications Nasser Judeh as Chairman of the Jordan Radio and Television Corporation. Judeh's predecessor, Sabri Rbeihat expressed his hopes that the JRTVC's "accomplishments" would continue. Meanwhile, ATV employees continue their protests, demanding their salaries that haven't been paid for 4 months now, and the launch of the channel that was supposed to broadcast back in August 2007. Easy on the accomplishments, guys.

  • By Royal Decree, the Lower House of the Parliament was adjourned, bringing the House's extraordinary session to an end. The MPs can now enjoy their much needed time-off.

  • President of Tafileh Technical University Sultan Abu Orabi switched with President of Balqa Applied University, Omar Rimawi. Let's hope no riots break out this time.

Update: The Ministry of Higher Education said it has no knowledge of any changes between presidents of universities, and that such changes have not and will not be discussed in the near future. Seems the "informed" source that reported the changes wasn't that informed after all. Sigh.

July 7, 2008

News Clippings

  • The Lower House of the Parliament endorsed the controversial Societies Law introduced by the government. The law compels non-governmental organizations to declare their source of funding and obtain approval from the government to accept the funding. It also imposes steep fines, a prison sentence and seizing of the funds if the minister decides the funding is "not in conformity with the organization's goals". Don't you think it's funny all the trouble the government goes through to "legitimately" limit the Muslim Brotherhood's activities?

  • The Greater Amman Municipality is removing posters and banners around the capital that are in violation of the regulations. I have to say, I think the Municipality has been doing a wonderful job with improving the city. Numbering the buildings and putting up street signs. All very helpful. Suggestions by yours truly: change those archaic street names into something actually legible and ban these pickups with sound speakers selling god knows what . I can actually hear one right now. Oh, and please remove these florescent blue lights lining the streets.

  • The Ministry of Islamic Affairs is ordering mosques to only use sound speakers in prayer times. Mosques will not be allowed to use the outside sound speakers for Friday sermons. I think this is a very reasonable step, particularly in areas where there is more than one mosque. Clearly from the comments, people do not seem to agree.

  • Al-Yarmouk University is celebrating Independence Day today. Bakkeer?

  • As for news from outside the country: A Chemistry professor and his female student in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to prison and lashes for discussing research on the phone. The professor was sentenced to 8 months of prison and 600 lashes and the woman to 4 months and 350 lashes. The spokesperson for the human rights society in Saudi Arabia said he could not make a comment now.

Fixing Journalism in Jordan

Recent events, such as the alleged McCain allegations (which some people are still convinced with, apparently) and the Jordan Festival normalization 'suspicions' that came very close to cancelling it, have revealed serious incompetence on the part of the press. The journalists are blaming the government's lack of transparency for the spread of rumors. This may have been a factor, but there's more to it than that, I'm sure.

Maybe it's because in Jordan, journalism, as a career, is not thought very highly of. The mentality that compels our high-achieving students to become doctors or engineers is still very much alive. Or maybe it's because we only used to have access to government-owned newspapers for a long time, then suddenly became exposed to online media with all its candor, which led some people to abuse it. Or maybe it's because journalists were not acquainted with journalism ethics in the first place.

Whatever it is, there have been recent steps to improve the situation. The Council of Higher Education has raised the admission average to the faculty of journalism in Al-Yarmouk University from 65% to 70%. King Abdullah has created a private fund for providing proper training for journalists to improve journalism in Jordan and push it a step forward. News websites are vowing to adhere to the standards set by the union.

Controlling media in Jordan is definitely not the answer, especially when it comes to online media, simply because it cannot be done. You ban one website, another's going to pop up the next day. It's about reintroducing ethics and standards. It's about education.

July 5, 2008

HM King Abdullah Reading Blogs!

I didn't think I could have a higher opinion of HM King Abdullah, but it seems I was wrong. I was amazed to find out that today, HM had left a comment on fellow blogger Naseem's post, which was about the interview HM has given on Tuesday. In the comment, HM commended the discussion and emphasized the importance of freedom of expression, as long as it doesn't personally offend someone or works against the nation's interest. HM had also left a similar comment on Al-Dustour website.


I am absolutely amazed, that a leader of a country, who probably has a million things to do, takes the time to read the views and opinions of ordinary citizens to communicate with them. He's more humble than your average Jordanian. If only more politicians would follow in his footsteps!


Congratulations Nas! I'm only a tad jealous!

July 4, 2008

Am I the ONLY One Not Watching Noor?


Seriously. I don't get the obsession. Is there something wrong with me? Man this is worse than Bab il 7ara.