Built to break: the forced collages of everyday life

“We only sell items that last for a couple of years,” said the salesman, “so we don’t bother getting spare parts for them.” That’s not exactly what you would expect to hear when you go back to an established furniture store hoping to redeem the functionality of your much-loved, yet very broken new purchase. My sister had bought herself a beautiful floor lamp that she accidentally knocked over on one dark night’s electricity cut. She stood next to me at the store as baffled as I was, when she realized her salesman couldn’t care less about what had happened. He just shamelessly hinted that it was time for her to buy something new, “this looks just like it!” he added pointing to another floor lamp.

The US and Israel are to blame for Arab misery: let me count the ways

It is the season of the revival of the “Arab Mind”: propagandists for Saudi princes around the world are peddling the same message contained in the racist book, The Arab Mind. Propagandists of Saudi princes who write in English have another task: they are competing to inherit the role of Fouad Ajami in Zionist US media. They know how much American mainstream media and Israel appreciate the schtick that Arabs are responsible for their misery, or that, as Ajami put it over and over again in his cliché, Arab wounds are self-inflicted. Saudi Arabia decided on orders of the US to take on ISIS and the Saudi regime may also have its own fears from ISIS. But the propaganda outlets of Saudi regime act and sound in unison, claiming that the Saudi regime is blameless, and that the US and Israel are humanitarian warriors in the Arab world, and that Arabs are backward by their very nature. To blame the US or Israel for Arab wars and divisions is tantamount to blasphemy in the Wahhabi doctrine.

From Lebanon to Brazil: Marginalized communities most threatened by climate change

Drawing an estimated 400,000 protesters, thereby making it “the largest climate change march in history,” the People’s Climate March mobilized, on September 21, on the streets of New York City, confronting politicians attending the UN security council meeting, creatively demanding accountability and “action, not words” from world leaders. Contingents in attendance included local and external indigenous groups such as Idle No More and Defenders of the Land, both of whom are from “the territory known as Canada.”

What if ‘Loulou’ could kill ‘Daesh?’

While having lunch with the family a couple of days ago, ‘Daesh’ came up. It always comes up. There seems to be nothing more pressing or shocking these days. There definitely is, but within our finite vision of what is catastrophic, a terrorist group claiming to be an Islamic renaissance, while killing everyone in sight, rightfully earns its place as a Lebanese table conversation.

Syrian wars of proxy

Restricting academic freedom: a time-honored Israeli tradition

Establishing itself as the mainstay of academic freedom in the region, Israel has used this categorization interminably in reference to its larger position as “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Yet, the nature of academic freedom in Israel, and in the United States regarding those who criticize the colonial-settler state, has long been a part of a historical effort to exclude Palestinians from academic discourse and to stifle criticism of the Zionist entity.

Conditioning ourselves for our forthcoming civil war

With an interesting track record of Lebanese people and entities occupying public venues and establishments for their various agendas, it’s not entirely true that anyone in Lebanon is surprised with recent events such as the occupation of our national electricity company, EDL, or the Tripoli-Beirut highway at Qalamoun. We’re not amused, but we’re also definitely not surprised.

Which Islam?

Western media are aghast: why can’t “Islam” condemn the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and expel it from “Islam.” For Western media, Islam is an office with fancy headquarters where bureaucrats produce fatwas around the clock. In the wake of September 11, Senator Dianne Feinstein used to tour the TV news shows and wonder in anger: why can’t Islam issue a fatwa to end all terrorism? If only things were that easy.

The floating grass of Palestine

After having spent almost a week in Amman to cast people and places for my upcoming novel, what was more interesting than the city itself were the city’s totems of elsewhere, especially Palestine. Juice stands, groceries, restaurants and other establishments had “Palestine” in their name. As a Lebanese national agonizingly forbidden from going to Palestine, I spent 15 minutes every day drinking fresh pineapple juice at Amman’s “Palestine Juice” pretending I was somehow there, until I decided to get as close as possible to this forbidden land instead of just daydreaming.

‘Urban Shield’: where hostility towards minorities meets policing on steroids

Activists in Oakland, California hold a banner during a protest against Urban Shield. September 5, 2014. (Photo: Al-Akhbar English-Adam Hudson)

The 2014 Urban Shield exhibition, a trade show and comprehensive training exercise for US police agencies and SWAT teams, took place September 4 through September 8 in Oakland, California – this expo, which alleges to “improve regional disaster response capabilities and provide a platform for national and international first responders, as well as the private sector, to work efficiently and effectively together when critical incidents occur,” is proudly supported by federal agencies and organizations. The governmental departments and institutions sponsoring Urban Shield include the United States Army, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology, which is the research and technical development arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

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