June 30, 2008

The New Traffic Law

Lawmakers on Sunday began deliberating the long-awaited draft traffic-law amid hopes that the new legislation would discourage reckless driving and reduce deadly road accidents.

The draft stipulates that drivers who cause the death of an individual in a road accident will face a six-month prison term and/or fine ranging between JD1,000 and JD2,000 and will also have their driving license suspended for a minimum of six months to a maximum of one year.

But the Legal Committee, which studied and endorsed the bill with minor changes, reduced the incarceration period in such cases to three months.


This amendment was disputed, much to my surprise, by Legal Committee member Mahmoud Kharabsheh, who sent a letter to Lower House speaker Abdul Hadi Majali demanding tougher punishments against “road criminals”. Kharabsheh was one of the members who were against changing the laws regarding honor crimes in 2000, because according to him, that would be "an invitation to obscenity," since "females are the ones who take the initiative and demonstrate consent to committing adultery."

Good for him.

But back to the subject. I think that in traffic accidents, where the driver is proven to be at fault, 6 months is too short a sentence. 6 months isn't going to discourage reckless drivers out there, it is hardly a slap on the wrist for someone who took another's life because they like speeding, so let alone 3 months. But then again, it's not always the driver's fault. Naseem points out how in many cases, pedestrians can be just as irresponsible as the drivers. We need to figure out a formula so that drivers will not be wrongfully accused, but at the same time combat this massive problem we seem to be having.

I long for the day when I open a newspaper and not find a report about a number of citizens who lost their lives in a car accident.

June 29, 2008

News Headline of the Day


June 27, 2008

Laptop For Each Student Fraud

In January, students of Jordanian universities, including mine were informed of the "laptop for each student initiative" which provides students with laptops that are to be paid for in monthly installments of 9.95 or 14.95 JDs, depending on the option you choose. Even though the specifications of the laptops were unclear at the time (we didn't find out the brand until later), I went ahead and signed up. I mean 15 JDs a month? That sounded pretty reasonable. And they had us submit all sorts of paperwork in time for deadlines, or else our applications would be ignored. It all seemed very professional and organized.

Come March, we had to confirm our applications. Again, in time for very strict deadlines. They changed their minds and decided that instead of monthly installments, they'd have the students pay 90 JD each semester, and demanded that a parent come down immediately to sign the consent form and make an initial payment. Fine. No one complained. We were informed our laptops would arrive in two weeks time. When we asked around after nothing happened in two weeks, the university blamed it on the Ministry of Communications but assured us they would arrive shortly.

And here we are, the second payment is due in 2 months and no laptops, no nothing. Frankly, I had forgotten about the whole thing until I read this on Osama Romoh's blog. Apparently, there are a lot of students who signed up and were told the exact same thing.

This is ridiculous! With prices of laptops going down, it would've been cheaper for me to just buy the laptop. Even if they deliver the laptops this week, they'd still be making money off them. And if we want to back out, we can't. This article says that the students' demands at a refund were refused by the universities. What a scam.

I'm going to go down to the university and demand the refund, and if they say no, which I'm sure they will, I'm going to take the laptop whenever it should arrive. But I won't be making a single payment. Ra7 anashef damhom. I don't care whose fault is it, this is absurd. Stop treating us like idiots.

June 26, 2008

Unfortunately Placed Ads

After a couple of serious posts, it's time for some comedy! Take a look at this group of unfortunately placed ads. I bet the ad execs did not have this in mind!

June 25, 2008

Members of the Parliament Receive a Raise

That's right. Our beloved parliament members have received a JD500 raise. The MPs' original salary included a basic salary of JD1500 a month, in addition to about JD466 for expenses making their total salary JD1960 a month. The raise introduced a new "hospitality" allowance, as well as an extra JD150 for phone expenses, bringing their grand total to JD2460 a month.

The new raise was granted after the members filed a top secret memo demanding a raise. Gee, I wonder why the memo was top secret. Maybe because they didn't want the general public to realise what hypocrites they are. Notice how this comes a day after a number of MPs demanded the cancellation of the Jordan Festival due to the "extenuating financial circumstances" that Jordanians are going through.

So let's recap on their accomplishments so far. I mean they must have done something to earn their raise. Anything?

12 Parliament Members Demand Cancelling Jordan Festival

Yesterday, the Lower House of the Parliament was scheduled to discuss legislation on transportation, maritime authority and rights of people with disabilities during their session. So what do they end up doing? They propose cancelling the Jordan Festival scheduled for next July due to the "economic and financial circumstances" Jordanians are going through.

The proposal was filed by none other than Nariman Roussan, who was surprised at her colleagues' hesitation to sign the memo, which she describes as 'normal'. This whole incident comes after several complaints about the organizing company, a French company suspected of supporting Zionism for organizing events celebrating 60 years of Israel's existence.

Now if they had objections to the company, which is perfectly okay, then why not suggest changing the company instead of cancelling the whole event. But not during a parliamentary session that was supposed to discuss more pressing issues, and not under the excuse of "economic circumstances". Trust me if Roussan or any of the other signing members really cared about impoverished Jordanians they would've donated some of their lifelong monthly JD1500 salary. If people don't want to go, they won't, but you do not get to decide for them.

Enough with the BS. And someone has GOT to stop Roussan from talking. Seriously.

June 24, 2008

The Legal Side of Honor Killings

This post will not talk about the number of women killed in the name of honor, be they innocent or guilty. This post will not talk about how honor is attached only to females and not to males. This post will not talk about how possible victims are jailed "for their protection", only to be bailed out and killed by their families. This post will talk about the legal side of honor killings, mainly because I've noticed that a lot of people do not know what actually happens in such cases. I didn't even know until I did a research on the subject.

Article 340:

This article from the Jordanian penal code states that: "any man who kills or attacks his wife or any of his female relatives in the act of committing adultery or in an “unlawful bed” benefits from a reduction in penalty."

In 2001, this article was amended, under a temporary law, to give women the same reduction of penalty. in 2003, the amended law was rejected by the lower house of the parliament. Praise democracy.

While this article has become almost synonymous with honor crimes, it has rarely been used in the past as it requires "actual" discovery of, e7em, female indiscretion. Activists campaigned to repeal the law because it sends the message that the constitution considers honor killings as legal. While I agree, I think more effort should've been put into actually changing the status quo.

Article 98:

Article 98 states that: "A person who commits a crime in a state of fury (fit of fury) benefits from a reduction of penalty."

It is article 98 that is mostly used in honor killings. It does not require actual discovery or any evidence of female indiscretion for that matter. In fact, any man who kills a female relative, regardless of the circumstances, can claim she tarnished his "honor" and consequently benefit from the reduction of penalty.

Under article 98, the killer can receive a minimum of six months up to a maximum of two years that can be further reduced into half if the family does not wish to file a complaint (which is nearly always the case).

How honorable, huh?

I honestly thought that after the honor massacres that happened in May (3 outrageous killings, 2 of them less than a week apart), that someone, ANYONE, was going to do something. A campaign maybe, or I don't know, perhaps a member of our female quota would wake up and suggest doing something about it. But nah, I'm guessing comparing officials to Mossad spies for popularity is a better use of time, and let's face it, it's more entertaining.

Note: I recommend watching this.

June 22, 2008

Taking Homophobia to a Whole New Level

أعلنت وزارة الصحة أمس أنها رصدت 20 مثليا جنسيا في المملكة، في خطوة تعد الأولى من نوعها التي تكسر فيها الوزارة حاجز الصمت الرسمي، حيال ما يشاع عن حالات مثليي الجنس في الأردن

وأفصح العزة عن أن هذه الأعداد "متدنية ولا تشكل ظاهرة في مجتمعنا"، لكنه لم يستبعد أن تتضاعف أعداد المثليين في مجتمعنا "المحافظ" وتتجاوز التقديرات المعلنة، في حال لم تتكاتف جهود كل الجهات الوطنية، للتصدي إلى هذا السلوك "المنبوذ في مجتمعنا"

ويقول العزة من خلال تعامله المباشر مع مراجعي القسم من المثليين جنسيا، إنهم "أذكياء ومتعلمون، لكنهم لا يميلون إلى الجنس الآخر"، ومن ثم، فإن "تفاعلهم مع مجتمعهم كأسوياء، سيكون له إيجابيات عديدة"، ويؤكد على أن "علاجهم ليس مستحيلا لكنه صعب"

على صعيد آخر، يصر الشاذ جنسيا على أنه غير مسؤول عن هويته، أو رده النفسي أو حتى لقائه الجنسي الأول، الذي ربما أجبر عليه، لكنه لا بد من أن يتحمّل كلّ شخص شاذ جنسيا مسؤولية اختياره الدخول في أسلوب حياة الشاذين جنسيا، وان يعي عواقب ذلك الاختيار

وبعتقد العزة، بالاستناد إلى الخبراء النفسيين والاجتماعيين، بأن الشذوذ الجنسي سلوك يتم تعلمه، ويتأثر بعدة عوامل من اهمها: حياة غير مستقرة في السنوات الأولى من الحياة، وقلة الحبّ غير المشروط من ناحية الأمّ أو الأب، وعدم القدرة على التقرب من الوالد من الجنس نفسه

Not surprising of course, in a country which has yet to adjust to the radical notion that women are people. But to have an official establishment spread homophobia, to combat STDs? How about some sex education first? This state of denial we continue to live in is very dangerous.

Suffice to say most commentators believed it is a phenomenon from the west that needs to be dealt with strictly. I was glad to see these comments, however:

أنا مش فاهمة شو خص وزارة الصحة بالمثليين جنسياً؟ دور وزارة الصحة علاج المرضى مش الحكم عليهم اجتماعياً أو اخلاقياً. طبعاً هناك ضرورة لدراسة الظاهرة بس مش على طريقة أحمدى نجاد عندما قال في جامعة هارفارد أنه ليس هناك مثليين في إيران. واليوم وزارة الصحة تقول أن لدينا فقط 150 مثلي وأننا أقل من معدلات الدول الأخرى؟؟ المثلية الجنسية حالة اجتماعية وليست حالة صحية. مين قال إنه كل مثلي لازم يروح على الطبيب ويعلن أمامه أنه مثلي؟ دور وزارة الصحة منع انتقال الأمراض الجنسية وحتى تفعل ذلك لا بد لها أن تكسب ثقة المريض أولاً، وهذا التصريح يذهب بالاتجاه المعاكس. علاج هذه الظاهرة لا يبدأ من وزارة الصحة

ترصد؟ هل المثليون كائنات غرائبيّة أوفصائل نادرة ليتم رصدها؟ أو لعلّهم شهب سماويّة تمرّ في سمائنا كل قرن. تمالك نفسك أيها الأردني البرئ والبسيط والذي ولد مساء البارحة، تمالك نفسك وتعلّم فالاحتمال أنّ المثلي يجلس إلى يمينك في الباص أو يرأسك في العمل أو هو صديق طفولتك وارد جدا، بل احتمال أنك أنت مثليّ وارد جدا. لا يمكن للدولة أو وزارة الصحة أن تعامل شعبها كأنهم أطفال وتستمر بإخفاء الحقائق ومداراتها كيلا يتخرّج المواطن الأردني إلى الواقع ويصبح ممارسا لمواطنيّته. المثليّون والمثليّات هم جزء لا ولن يتجزأ أي مجتمع، ولن أعود إلى الوراء عقودا من الزمن وأتحدث عن حقوق الإنسان وكرامة الفرد وغيرها، فالمفروض أن الأردن اليوم تعرف كلّ هذا الكلام، فتوقفوا عن الإدّعاء بالجهل

Maybe we're not a hopeless case after all.

June 20, 2008

Sarcasm: An Evolutionary Survival Skill

Neurophysiologist Katherine Rankin at the University of California, San Francisco, has recently discovered that sarcasm, which is both positively funny and negatively nasty, plays an important part in human social interaction.

So what?

I mean really, who cares? Oh for God's sake. Don't you have anything better to do than read this column?

According to Dr. Rankin, if you didn't get the sarcastic tone of the previous sentences you must have some damage to your parahippocampal gyrus which is located in the right brain. People with dementia, or head injuries in that area, often lose the ability to pick up on sarcasm, and so they don't respond in a socially appropriate way.
So there you have it. If you do not appreciate my sarcasm, then please go develop your parahippocampal gyrus. Nyahaha! (don't you just absolutely love Urban Dictionary?)

New Queen Rania Video

Arab Media Guidebook?

Can someone explain this to me? Control what exactly and who decides what to control? Something tells me there's more to it than what Mr. Joudeh is disclosing.

June 19, 2008

We've Been Punk'd


In a recent post, I mentioned how Robert Kagan, McCain's advisor, announced adopting the "Jordanian Option" strategy which declares Jordan as the new Palestine, based on a Ammon news source. Well, turns out Ammon is a big fat liar tabloid, basically. While they made their initial story sound credible, their only source was an extreme anti-Jordan blog called "Fellka Israel", a completely unreliable source. Kagan has denied making such allegations, and even the university, where Kagan had allegedly spoke denied ever having him for a lecture.

Ammon even twisted a story to make it sound as if the King was referring to Kagan's remarks, while in fact he was just speaking about the general situation in the Middle East. The whole thing is a disgusting publicity stunt to increase their ad revenues, and so far they haven't bothered to make a retraction or issue a formal apology. From now on, I will not be reading Ammon anymore. I'd rather be reading and quoting Shihan instead.

Here's the other thing though. Where on earth was our government? How about our embassy in the U.S.? The entire parliament in an uproar denouncing the allegations and furiously condemning them, yet no one bothered to check if the whole thing was true? Till today, no one had made an official statement regarding the whole incident. This makes no sense. Sounds to me like it was a premeditated stunt to distract the country from something. I'm quite the conspiracy theorist as you can see.

Hey, I Wanna Live There

Don't you want to live in a country where "men and women are equal under the law. There shall be no distinction between them in rights and obligations regardless of difference in race, language or religion. They shall exercise their constitutional rights and uphold the higher interest of the state and the national ethic in such a manner as to ensure that the material and spiritual resources of the society are freed and directed towards achieving the national objective of unity, progress and building a better future". Sounds pretty good. Where'd I get it from? THE JORDANIAN NATIONAL CHARTER. Haha, right?

June 18, 2008

I Don't Need Subtitles!

I found this really funny video from my new favorite blog. Here's the link.

June 17, 2008

Women In Power

The other day, during a family get-together, we started talking about the American elections and how Hillary lost to Obama. "It shows how even Americans are not ready for a woman to take charge", one of my relatives said. It got me to thinking, is that really why Hillary lost? I don't think anybody has a definitive answer, but if that's the case, why are women still not being taken seriously in domains such as politics? Now regardless of whether Hillary is the better choice or not, her being a woman should NOT be a factor of why she should or shouldn't be elected.

"Women are just more emotional, it compromises their ability to make decisions." I've heard this over and over again, and people, especially in our part of the world, use it automatically to justify denying women certain positions.

OH GIVE ME A BREAK! So women may be more expressive of their emotions, but how exactly does that compromise their ability to make decisions? How exactly does that make them unfit to be presidents, judges or CEOs? Men are more violent and hotheaded. Wouldn't that compromise their actions more seriously? But no, the laws made by men would naturally excuse men, such as the "fit of fury" loophole handed to men on a silver platter in honor crimes.

Also, if women are more emotionally sensitive, why is it that women are always the subject of violence, from domestic abuse, to rape, to sexual harassment, all of which are committed by men! You’d think men would take into consideration all their “sensitive” emotions.

The way I see it, men who say that women are unfit to handle positions of power are insecure to handle being subordinates to a woman who endangers everything they've been taught to believe: that women are weaker and inferior. Well wake up and smell the roses, women ARE successful thinkers, women ARE successful judges and women ARE successful in politics. If anything, a woman who is able to reach such positions is more competent than a man, simply because of all the sexist crap she has to deal with.

P.S. By men, I do not mean ALL men. Just the sexist, chauvinistic ones. :)

June 16, 2008

McCain to Declare Jordan as the New Palestine

According to this Ammon news source, John McCain's advisor has announced that the presidential candidate has adopted the "Jordanian Option" strategy, which declares Jordan as the newly formed Palestinian state. McCain's advisor sees it as the ideal solution, seeing as we already have millions of Palestinians and we're right there across the river. He also thinks there's no need to have a separate Palestinian state because it already exists within Jordan, and thinks that the royal family may remain if the "people" want them to stay.

I couldn't find any other sources to corroborate this, but if it is true, I say fashar! How ridiculous of him to think that Jordanians would settle to live in a Palestinian state or that Palestinians would settle to live other than in their own country! George Bush may not be the stupidest man after all.

June 15, 2008

Nude Protests: Finally!

After being issued a 30 JD ticket, a Jordanian bus driver began taking his clothes off in protest. The police officer insisted on giving him the ticket, despite the driver's promises that he had forgotten his licences at home.

The comments on the news piece were mostly sympathetic with the driver, seeing as life in Jordan is becoming more expensive by the second. My favorite comments:

معنا مجال هللأ نضحك على الخبر.. بس اخرتنا كلنا نخلع ملابسنا

لو إنو السائق بنت وعملت هيك,أكيد الحكومة مارح تخالفها 30 نيرة..كان أعطتها 70 نيرة !!! صح

منذ كنت طفلا اتذكر بانه كان هناك برنامجا اتابعه تدور احداثه في الغابة ويدعى(طرزان)حيث يروي قصة بطل يعيش داخل الغابة فكان دائما اقرب مايكون خالعا لملابسه حين يتجول في الغابة فلم يكن في وقته محروقات لاديزل ولا بنزين يعتمد عليها للانتقال من شجرة الى اخرى فكان يعتمد على الحبال الطويلة للوصول للمكان الذي يريد وبالتالي لم يكن هناك شرطيا يقف ليخالف (طرزان)لتجاوزه حدود السرعة او عدم اعطاء الاولوية للقرود و العصافيرالتي تملا الغابة فطرزان كان خالعا لملابسه دوما دون وجود هموم تدعوه لذلك

June 13, 2008

Qwaider Sets the Bar for Freedom of Expression

I never watched Star Academy, and I never will. I think it’s a ridiculous, silly, superficial show that profits from the mindless masses who think that supporting their country’s contestant makes them more patriotic. Because you know, all those contestants who previously won really dignified their country. I fell for it with Diana Karazon, I am not falling for it again! But apparently the fiasco didn’t end when the Jordanian contestant, Qwaider, lost in the finale. Controversy has recently erupted when a Jordanian blogger, Osama Romoh published an article on his blog criticizing Qwaider.

بعد أن زادت حدة التوتر التي تشهدها المجموعات الاردنية على موقع \\فيس بوك\\، قام مناهضون لمحمد قويدر بعمل مجموعات خاصة تضم مؤيدي حرية النقد الساخر إلى جانب تأييد كبير للكاتب اسامة الرمح رداً على مئات من محبي محمد قويدر الذين طالبوا بحذف مقال الرمح والذي كان قد نشر على موقعه الخاص مقالاً انتقد فيه محمد قويدر نجم ستار أكاديمي0

من جهة أخرى فقد أصبحت قضية المدوّن اسامة الرمح والفنان محمد قويدر مصدر اهتمام الكثير من المراقبين للأخبار والمدونات العربية خصوصاً على الشبكات الاجتماعية التي تضم ملايين المستخدمين، الأمر الذي يزيد العوائق أمام الجهات الرسمية في الأردن لوضع تشريعات قانونية تضبط عمل المدونات الأردنية والتي تعد بالآلاف0

ولم يصدر قويدر أي تصريح حيال الانتقادات التي تحيط به نتيجة تزعم الرمح بأن الأول قام بسب الذات الالهية علناً على الهواء أمام ملايين المشاهدين في برنامج ستار اكاديمي0


So how exactly does an article stand against freedom of expression? Isn’t criticism the point of the freedom of expression? And how sad is it that this is what causes an outrage amongst our youth? Several facebook groups with hundreds of devastated members demanding the deletion of the article. Where was all this outrage when a journalist was sentenced to jail because of an online article? Where was the controversy over the government’s attempt to control online media? Not interesting enough, I suppose.

How sad.

Also, why is it that we cannot accept other people’s points of view? Can’t we just disagree and move on?

June 12, 2008

Legacy of a Nutjob: George W. Bush

U.S. President Bush claimed Wednesday that he had no regrets about the decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Asked about Iraq, Bush said that "substantial" progress had been made in helping the country, adding that efforts in Iraq would "change the Middle East for the better."

"Removing Saddam Hussein made the world a safer place," Bush said.


Other stupid Bush quotes:

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."

"Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?"

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Favorite Bush moments:

So regardless of who gets elected for president next, I don't think anybody can surpass the stupidity of George W. Bush. It's just not possible.

June 11, 2008

The Funwall/Superwall Stupidity

If you have a facebook account, i.e. if you're living in the 21st century, then you must have come across the superwall or funwall, applications which allow you to send a picture, a video or a message to a number of people. I have mine disabled, but every once in a while, when I'm in the mood for a good laugh, I check other people's posts, which almost always fall into the following categories:

  1. The "help the kid dying from cancer/separated from twin at birth kid" posts: even if the story were true, do you honestly believe facebook will be donating one cent every time you forward this? If you do, then please go live in a Disney movie.
  2. The "I'm holier than thou" posts: send this prayer to all your friends and you will receive 998 blessings or if you don't send this then you don't love God. Makes you wonder how people went to heaven before facebook, huh?
  3. The slutty posts: which are basically either videos or pictures of half-naked girls, surprisingly sent by the same people who send the category 2 posts. Nah, who said we were a hypocritical society.
  4. The "forward this and see what happens next" posts: how long will it actually take you to realize that nothing ever happens, you wont see who views your profile the most nor will the hot girl in the picture take her top off. Get over it already.
  5. The funny posts: then occasionally you find some nice posts like this video from Britain's got talent:


June 10, 2008

My First Post

I finally did it. My own blog. I've been itching to do it for quite some time now, but I always found something to hold me back, with me being the biggest procrastinator in the world and all. I've been using my facebook account to post and write things that interested me, so I decided I'll do the same here.

About a year ago, I started reading blogs, mostly local, and I came to the conclusion that blogs are pretty much the only form of free press we have in Jordan. So here I am, joining the blogosphere, in hopes of making a difference, as naive as that may sound, or at least to have my voice heard.

And so I hereby officially inaugurate the Observations of a Jordanian!