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July 2008

Strange lights were spotted in Israeli Sky

Found the article below at preceded by a very unflattering introduction about the land of sour milk and poisened honey which I dare not reproduce here since, as we all know, freedom of expression is limited in our democratic countries. The article is a translation of an original in Hebrew published in the JP. Here goes :

Our readers from the Center district and as far as Ashkelon in the South have noticed several bright trails in the sky. Witnesses reported that the “weird lights” were seen in the sky for more than 15 minutes.

Tal Rabinovski

Many residents that took a look at the sky yesterday (Saturday) noticed a couple of strange lights. The sighting was spotted from Ashkelon in the South, to Haifa in the North. The bright lights were also visible in the coast area and Jerusalem area in the East. IDF reported of no unusual recent activity.


Bush Will Issue a Mass Pardon

By Brent Budowsky

27/07/08 “Smirking Chimp” — – Jul 26 2008 — Before leaving office George W. Bush will issue a mass pardon, the largest collection of presidential pardons in American history. Bush will pardon himself, Vice President Cheney, and a long list of officials involved in torture, eavesdropping, destruction of evidence, the CIA leak case and a range of potential crimes.

As George Bush signs the pardons and boards the helicopter to depart Washington as his presidency finally ends, even then, he and those pardoned will worry about the statute of limitations.

There is an important point to this, often not recognized in official Washington during the Bush years, where the unthinkable becomes a way of life, and acts have been done that have never been done by an American president or administration.


Sami al Arian

You can read about the Al-Arian case here

Sami Al-Arian Subjected to Worst Prison Conditions since Florida
Despite grant of bail, government continues to hold him
Dr. Al-Arian handcuffed

Hanover, VA – July 27, 2008 –

More than two weeks after being granted bond by a federal judge, Sami Al-Arian is still being held in prison. In fact, Dr. Al-Arian is now being subjected to the worst treatment by prison officials since his stay in Coleman Federal Penitentiary in Florida three years ago.

On July 12th, Judge Leonie Brinkema pronounced that Dr. Al-Arian was not a danger to the community nor a flight risk, and accordingly granted him bail before his scheduled August 13th trial.
Nevertheless, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) invoked the jurisdiction it has held over Dr. Al-Arian since his official sentence ended last April to keep him from leaving prison.
The ICE is ostensibly holding Dr. Al-Arian to complete deportation procedures but, given that Dr. Al-Arian’s trial will take place in less than three weeks, it would seem somewhat unlikely that the ICE will follow through with such procedures in the near future.

Not content to merely keep Dr. Al-Arian from enjoying even a very limited stint of freedom, the government is using all available means to try to psychologically break him.
Instead of keeping him in a prison close to the Washington DC area where his two oldest children live, the ICE has moved him to Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover, VA, more than one hundred miles from the capital. Regardless, even when Dr. Al-Arian was relatively close to his children, they were repeatedly denied visitation requests.

More critically, this distance makes it extremely difficult for Dr. Al-Arian to meet with his attorneys in the final weeks before his upcoming trial. This is the same tactic employed by the government in 2005 to try to prevent Dr. Al-Arian from being able to prepare a full defense.

Pamunkey Regional Jail has imposed a 23-hour lock-down on Dr. Al-Arian and has placed him in complete isolation, despite promises from the ICE that he would be kept with the general inmate population. Furthermore, the guards who transported him were abusive, shackling and handcuffing him behind his back for the 2.5-hour drive, callously disregarding the fact that his wrist had been badly injured only a few days ago.
Although he was in great pain throughout the trip, guards refused to loosen the handcuffs.

At the very moment when Dr. Al-Arian should be enjoying a brief interlude of freedom after five grueling years of imprisonment, the government has once again brazenly manipulated the justice system to deliver this cruel slap in the face of not only Dr. Al-Arian, but of all people of conscience.

Make a Difference! Call Today!

Call Now!

Last April, your calls to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail pressured prison officials to stop their abuse of Dr. Al-Arian after only a few days.

Friends, we are asking you to make a difference again by calling:

Pamunkey Regional Jail: (804) 365-6400 (press 4 then 3001 to speak to the administration, then ask to leave a message for the superintendent; after working hours, press 0). Ask why Dr. Al-Arian has been put under a 23-hour lockdown, despite the fact that a federal judge has clearly and unambiguously pronounced that he is not a danger to anyone and that, on the contrary, he should be allowed bail before his trial.

– If you do not reach the superintendent personally, leave a message on the answering machine. Call back every day until you do speak to the superintendent directly.
– Be polite but firm.

– After calling, click here to let us know you called.

Don’t forget: your calls DO make a difference.
See original article with the links here

Basil the baker is not a happy bread maker

DAMASCUS, 30 June 2008 (IRIN) –
“Everything is more difficult to afford now, and it will get worse,” he said, amid the dough and ovens of his bakery in the middle class district of Shalan in Damascus.

The Syrian finance minister has said withdrawing bread subsidies is a “red line”, but failing harvests and soaring international wheat prices may be forcing a re-think

The availability of cheap food has been a cornerstone Syrian domestic economic policy.

However, there are growing doubts among ordinary people and analysts as to how much longer the country can remain relatively insulated from the global food crisis which has sparked riots in over 30 countries, including Egypt, where a similar authoritarian socialist government is in place.


US terror watchlist

Al Jazeera Inside Story – US terror watchlist – 15 Jul 08 here

John William Anderson, who was born on July 4, 2001, is on TSA's watch list. He was first stopped in 2004 when his mother and grandmother took him on his first plane ride to Disney World
John William Anderson, who was born on July 4, 2001, is on TSA’s watch list. He was first stopped in 2004 when his mother and grandmother took him on his first plane ride to Disney World

From article here

He was first stopped at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 2004, when his family took him for his first airplane ride to Disney World. “We checked in at the ticket counter, and the woman said in a stern voice, ‘Who is John Anderson?’ ” says his mother, Christine Anderson. “I pointed to my stroller.”

Her son is allowed to fly. But because his name is flagged, his family cannot print out a boarding pass for him online and he must check in at the ticket counter so an airline official can see that he’s a child.

Christine Anderson says she has tried repeatedly to get her child’s name cleared, but she can’t find the right forms on the TSA website and none have come in the mail after officials promised to send them. “No one can give any answers to why my son is on the list or really how to get him off,” she says.

White says many names will be cleared when the government begins requiring air travelers to provide their birth date. The government won’t start collecting that information until next year, he says.

Randy Pausch : The last lecture

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008 ) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals.

Randy Pausch

See the video here
And this is his web site

Nour – Gumus : not to be missed

THE cult turkish musalsal dubbed in Syrian Arabic.
It is on every night at 8:30 with a double ration on Sunday, on MBC2
You can watch a recent episode here

I could not comment it better than Abufares the Tartousi :

“Arabs, all of them, are experiencing a new and even more admirable sensation, the 150-episode Turkish TV series Gumus, a soap opera about the daily lives and affairs of a wealthy family in modern secular Istanbul. The name has been changed to Nour in the mega hit Arabicized version. It has been dubbed in Shami Arabic (Damascene accent) and the net effect is stupendous. Never in the history of drama, never under the influence of any culture or civilization or of their total absence, never had a work of genius or of idiocy (including but not limited to all established religions) affected millions in such a short span like Nour did. Men, balding, pot-bellied, ugly and hairy are falling in love with Mohanad the leading male character, played by Kivanç Tatlitug. Rebellious wives are shedding years of submissiveness and demanding divorce at gunpoint. Cocksure yet sedate husbands are turning into raving maniacs by slashing their whorish wives with knives.

Women are turning into multi-orgasmic beasts while Viagra has all but disappeared off the shelves due to the gigantic demand of impotently small men. Everybody wants to rip Mohanad’s clothes apart with a very small minority lusting after the other characters including Safiya and Fikri.

What did those Turks do to our unsuspecting people? If we’d ever thought that the Ottoman days were over we’d better think again. They have just returned triumphantly. When Nour finally killed Abdine (the bad ass character) all hell broke loose in the island of Arwad. People came out the alleys and offered sweets and Baklavas. They hugged and kissed and congratulated each other.

In one of the more fashionable neighborhoods of Tartous, where the nouveau rich are as rampant as shit is in underground sewage, drum beaters were brought from the Gipsy camp on the outskirts of town, fireworks brightened the sky while a convoy of Mercedeses, Beemers and Hummers slached the dark of night with screeching wheels and loud music. Jubilation at last!”

There is also Ihlamurlar altinda which I like far better. The story of an extended family, one part of it rich, the other more modest and couples in love who cannot seem to be united except after a lot of travails and tears.

McCain Makes Historic First Visit to Internet

Will Spend Five Days at Key Sites

Straight from Borowitz
In a daring bid to wrench attention from his Democratic rival in the 2008 presidential race, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) today embarked on an historic first-ever visit to the Internet.

Given that the Arizona Republican had never logged onto the Internet before, advisors acknowledged that his first visit to the World Wide Web was fraught with risk.

But with his Democratic rival Barack Obama making headlines with his tour of the Middle East and Europe, the McCain campaign felt that they needed to “come up with something equally bold for John to do,” according to one advisor.

McCain aides said that the senator’s journey to the Internet will span five days and will take him to such far-flung sites as, eBay and Facebook.

With a press retinue watching, Sen. McCain logged onto the Internet at 9:00 AM Sunday, paying his first-ever visit ever to

“I can’t get this [expletive] thing to work,” Sen. McCain said as he struggled with his computer’s mouse, causing his wife Cindy to prompt him to add that he was “just kidding.”

Having pronounced his visit to Mapquest a success, Sen. McCain continued his tour by visiting and Yahoo! Answers, where he inquired as to the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.

Sen. McCain said that he had embarked on his visit to the Internet to allay any fears that he is too out-of-touch to be president, adding that he plans to take additional steps to demonstrate that he is comfortable with today’s technology: “In the days and weeks ahead, you will be seeing me rock out with my new Walkman.”

Samir Quntar

Samir is freed to day in the exchange of prisonners between Hezbollah and Israel. Samir Kuntar’s family await his return HERE

Samir spent 29 years in Israeli jails; his brother says that he did not kill the little girl whom he is accused of murdering. She was killed in the exchange of fire with the police.

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