Monday, May 28, 2007

Of Conferences and Men

With globalisation, I suppose you could say we have joined the 'real world' - we can now shop like the rest of the West and eat junk....

So with all things global, it would be nice to know about a less obvious outcome of the “Global Conference on Renewable Energy Approaches for Desert Regions” GCREADER held in Amman between 18th and 21st of September last year (nothing on their website). A great declaration was issued, click here:
Jordan went nuclear, and another war is about to be lauched in the land of the peacock ... and I thought that bird was a protected species!

In the preamble the declaration reads, among other things:
1. The current and an even further increasing world energy demand results in: conflicts for the limited fossil resources; climate changes and other environmental degradations.

3. The desert regions of the world are scarce in water but rich in renewable energy resources: within 6 hours they receive more energy from the sun than the world is using in one year.

4. The use of renewable energy resources, albeit abundant is still very low in all countries of arid and desert areas.

I suppose that last sentence applies to Jordan, so I have to wait until 2008 when they meet again and issue another declaration ... makes for great reading ... or is that what GCREADER stands for in reality - great curious reader. So as the sun beams down its gift to humanity in the desert, we mine for uranium and go nuclear, (so much for clean energy) and dig up the rest for private tourist resorts ...

..... and for the average man in the street? He still can't afford simple solar energy for humble human needs, it's too costly and is still not subsidized by the state; silly me I forgot, the state doesn't control the desert, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, or ASEZA for short, does ... J

Sunday, May 27, 2007

`I won't testify against my abductors'

`I cannot participate in a judicial process where the prospects of a fair trial are negligible, and more crucially, where the death penalty is a possibility,' writes James Loney who was kidnapped in Iraq in 2005.

I applaud James Loney for his courage and his humanity; for his understanding and for reaching out with the hand of forgiveness. His article should be mandatory reading for all politicians from Tel Aviv to Washington via a few other states as well, who love to rule with twisted notions of justice imposed down the barrel of a gun and a bomb or two ...

…and then there is this

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Creative Destruction

I have to suppress feelings of hopelessness from creeping in every morning with the news. Death tolls increase daily in Palestine and Iraq. Now, the latest round of violence in Lebanon is a surprise and hard for me to understand. Tripoli seemed safely removed from the sporadic turmoil in Beirut and southern Lebanon. Searching for information to explain the violence, I found a good article by Laurie King-Irani yesterday on the electronic Intifada website, and I recommend it:

I came across this curious phrase, creative destruction, for the first time last summer when Israel savaged Lebanon. I assume it means that in order to create change, one must first destroy what already exists! What a sick theory. It isn’t enough that three Middle Eastern countries have been attacked and invaded, and that two of them are still occupied. Now, there is another, equally terrifying, destruction being unleashed in the region. This new violence is indigenous and cannot be blamed on outsiders. It is the struggle for power to rule through ethnic and religious identity. It is sectarian violence and civil strife in its ugliest form. I will never understand how some people value their ethnic and religious identity more than they value human life. Will they understand that they disgrace their own humanity by disregarding that of others?


Friday, May 25, 2007

Of Fatwas and Men

While we are on the subject of men's strange mental faculties, you just have to smile at this religious charlatan from Cairo - after you have tarred and feathered him that is - who issued a fatwa on how men and women can avoid being in 'sin' if they find themselves working together alone in the office …wait for it …by suckling a women's breast five times!

Needless to say the fatwa was 'nipped in the bud' before it could take effect …

Bet there are a lot of disappointed office workers out there … at least it was light reprieve from the daily horrors around us ….
Sent me back to the days of the flower power "make love not war" movement of the '60s …

Long live the theatre of the absurd! … J

Thursday, May 24, 2007

unpublished letter to the Jordan Times

I wrote the following letter to the Jordan Times but to date it has not been published. T

I was shocked to read an article by Rana Husseini about a husband acquitted of murdering his wife. I find it hard to believe that the three judges in their verdict said 'The victim had an argument with her husband and he beat her up, which is something normal between married people and part of known marital problems.' If the wife tried to escape from her husband after he beat her up and she jumped out of the window surely he should be charged with manslaughter? Or at the least face a charge of physical abuse? Are these judges living in the dark ages? After all the work that has been done over the past few years to bring family protection to the fore, we now have three judges saying that a husband beating his wife is 'normal' behaviour. Shame on you three. I cannot dispute the verdict as the judges may have been correct in their judgement but I certainly condemn their reasoning and thoughts about marital behaviour.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

our capital - is this really the way forward?

I have just read HRH Prince Ali's article in the Jordan Times today about the Greater Amman Municipality's decision to tax owners of empty land. It is an excellent article with the sort of vision we expect our government to have. I hope the Mayor and others take note.

Could Prince Ali be made Mayor of Amman? I am sure he doesn't want the job as it is a huge headache but his views should be taken into consideration. T

overdevelopment & water supply

An interesting article in the Guardian this morning discusses tourism and the problems attached to unsustained development. We are one of the most water deficit countries in the world. Most homes only get water supplied on one day a week and in the summer this is only pumped weakly and does not get to the tanks on the roofs. T

'What of the destinations? Surely they bear significant responsibility for the plight they find themselves in? A cocktail of political ineptitude and developer greed seems to have been served up at far too many tourist resorts across the world, leading to mistakes being repeated time and again. Many places - from Cancun to Costa Blanca, Thailand to Ibiza - say that water supply has become one of their biggest concerns now that they rely so heavily on tourism. And the cause is always the same: unplanned, rapid overdevelopment.'
The Guardian May 22, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

the new number plates

What does everyone think about the new number plates that are sprouting at rapid speed on the vehicles on our roads? It seems a bit strange to have English numbers on cars in an Arab country but maybe those who designed them thought that it was important to have the numbers in a larger size so they are easier to read. In that case they have chosen to go for the numbers in English as two sets of numbers would not fit.

But I do wonder what the first two numbers indicate? Can anyone enlighten me? T

Nuclear power - solution or illusion?

I troubles me that there is no real public debate about the issue of Jordan going nuclear - it was a decision signed, sealed and delivered so quickly, it became swamped by other 'political' developments. So here's some alternative reading worth considering on the subject of nuclear energy ... any comments anyone? J

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Arabic language under fire!

Here's an interesting article in the Guardian about the ongoing threat to the Arabic language - from Israeli zionist quarters .... they can't get enough of abusing the people, so let's kill off the language as well .... J

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wolfie In Denial

Is anyone surprised that World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz denies doing anything wrong after “a scathing report accusing him of breaking the rules by securing a generous pay deal for his girlfriend” was published? Isn’t this just a continuation of his character, a belligerent, haughty, man who thinks that he is right about everything?

When he accepts responsibility for the role that he played when Deputy Secretary of Defense, of starting the 2003 Iraq War, then he will apologize for his present misconduct and resign. Does anyone see anything like that happening anytime soon??

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Wish on Mothers’ Day

Yesterday my husband and I had supper with a young Palestinian couple. Their six week old baby boy, wrapped in a light blanket, was cradled in his mother’s arms. One chubby forearm, nestled near his cheek, framed his sleeping innocence. The baby was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania while his father was taking the final exams for his Master’s degree. His two year scholarship is finished and they are eager to go home. As I write, they are on their way.

The young father told me last night that he had never crossed the bridge over the River Jordan. When they had departed for the states, it was by plane from Tel Aviv airport. I didn’t tell them what kind of treatment they might expect on the bridge. Maybe the treatment of Arabs has changed since I last crossed it about eight years ago. Maybe the Israeli security searches of one’s personal belongings are no longer so disrespectful. I know they have a lot of luggage with them – two years is a long time to collect things. All I said was that they are lucky that the weather is much cooler than last week when the temperature climbed to about 45 degrees centigrade in the Jordan Valley. I suggested they take a large bottle of water with them, but I didn’t mention that they may have to wait between three and seven hours before they will be allowed to enter the country of their birth.

The grandparents couldn’t drive from their home in Palestine to meet the couple at the airport yesterday. They won’t even be able to meet them at the bridge when they enter the West Bank because they can not move freely inside their own country. They are Arabs. So they wait, anxious and excited to meet their new grandson and be reunited with their children.

I hope that the young family is in a taxi nearing their home town of Bethlehem now. I can imagine the excitement they are feeling. I wish them luck, but I can’t help thinking of the baby’s future. Will the view from his parents’ home be blocked by the huge eight meter high apartheid wall that twists around Bethlehem? Will he be able to walk to school without harassment by settlers? Will he be safe in his classroom from exploding tear gas canisters that are thrown by Israeli troops? Will his parents have to send him away when he turns 16, like we had to do with our son? At 16 an Arab male is considered a security risk by the Israelis, and he can suffer badly at their hands if he is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whatever his future holds, I hope he will not become cannon fodder nor raise his hands in violence to others. I hope he will have all the rights that children everywhere deserve. I hope this little baby enroute to his family home in Bethlehem will grow up to become a peace maker and negotiator – the world needs so many more.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Amazing Video

In September 2002, Journalist Cole Miller and Alan Pogue, a professional photographer founded the organization No More Victims. Their goal was to restore health and well-being to victims of war and to advocate and educate for peace.

Since then they managed to get medical sponsorships for 5 severely war-injured Iraqi children and are now in the process of getting their 6th, 10 year old Salee, a child who lost both of her legs from a missile strike, to America for treatment. See her picture and read the details about her and the other children at

On the occasion of Mother’s Day (May 13 in the United States), there is an amazing video made by prominent women advocating peace and supporting No More Victims. Do take a moment to watch it and if you have some spare change, consider making a donation to this very credible organization.

Jordan under the 'toze'

Amman under the toze - Friday 11 May 2007

Lovely dust to clear away the day after the storm

You would not have liked it here yesterday .... despite the pretty colour .... but Amman and probably the rest of the country was covered in a layer of orange dust that permeated every corner of the house; we are in 'dust season' ...the 'hamseen' winds that carry the desert from the southern Arabian gulf states all the way up to the Middle East towards the Mediterranean ... but yesterday was special, we got a double dose of hamseen ... and it's called 'toze'.

The house was glowing with a yellow aura ... I could not even see the house at the bottom of the garden as the sky was filled with a thick layer of creamy yellow/orange smog that furled it's way into our lives. It normally lasts about twenty four hours ... and today we are left with the remnants: a thick layer of orange dust all over everything! It will take a while to clean it all away ... I wonder how my lungs are going to deal with it?

And then a wonderful thought crept into my mind ... maybe all those guns and weapons of mass destruction (you know, the ones made by the civilised countries of our world) got jammed with so much dust and no-one was killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine yesterday ... J

Voice of wisdom

Here's an article by journalist Lamis Andoni that tackles the adage "one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist" ..... when is the world going to give one definition for 'terrorism' so that we can all sleep at night?? J

Monday, May 07, 2007

Fragmented Care

Considering that modern Jordan is still a young country, I must not be impatient. It takes time and experience to establish precedents in all spheres of national life like education, government, jurisprudence, and medical care. Health care systems are not perfect, but Jordan seems to be going in a direction all its own with a fragmented sort of non-system. I think the Jordanian society is bypassing one of the essentials of good medical care, and doctors themselves are contributing to it. The only doctor one should have is a GP (general practitioner) who manages one’s health through annual physicals and treatment of periodic illnesses. The GP recommends specialists as the need arises. In most countries a person cannot see a specialist without a referral from his GP first.

Recently a woman in our family developed a nagging pain in her knee. She went to a ‘specialist,’ who prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug. The medicine irritated her stomach which caused some bleeding. She was taking other medicine as well – one of which was a blood thinner, a drug for her heart. She nearly bled to death. Fortunately she survived after spending some days in intensive care and receiving blood transfusions. If she had gone to a GP with her painful knee, I am confident this would not have happened. He would have been monitoring her general health, and would have referred her to a specialist, if he felt she needed one. The GP would be the doctor to make the final decision about her medication or further treatment. I think she suffered needlessly and almost tragically. Unfortunately, she didn’t know any better. She did what most people here do, she micro-managed her medical needs with advice from well meaning friends and relatives.

If I have a problem with my car, I have no idea if it is from the carburetor, generator, brake line, distributor, electrical circuits or any other part of the vehicle. I leave the repairs to the garage mechanic. My health is more important to me than my car. Even though I was educated as a health care practitioner, I do not want to make medical decisions for myself or my husband, children, or others I care about. That is what my GP does, and he does it with skill, experience, and kindness.