About Flying Flip Flops:

Q u e s t i o n .. Everything

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Mother of All Leaks

Wikileaks leaks and the Ellsburg leak.

Much talk about prosecuting Wikileaks and Assange for publishing information that came to them like the information that The New York Times came into back in 1971.   Referencing the "Pentagon Papers", top secret documents about the Vietnam war that Daniel Ellsburg felt necessary to release.  The Times started releasing and then stopped due to orders from the Nixon adminnistration and then resumed publishing the documents by ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT...

"Finally, Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the Times. On June 13, 1971, the paper began to publish the first installment of the 7,000 page document. For 15 days, the Times was prevented from publishing its articles on the orders of the Nixon administration. However, the Supreme Court ordered publication to resume freely. Although the Times did not reveal the source of the leak, Ellsberg knew that the FBI would soon determine that he was the source of the leak. Ellsberg went underground, living secretly among like-minded people. He was not caught by the FBI, even though they were under enormous pressure from the Nixon Administration to find him."    
[source:  http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1871.html]

All of a sudden the Swedes issue a warrant of arrest against Assange.  Why now?  Did Hillary have anything to do with it?  Is the next document to be released about Hillary ordering information about Bill's whereabouts?  probably not but it was a surprise to see for example that she had ordered collecting personal information and data collection on people that worked for the UN as well as world leaders.  Since we, the USA,  share much with the Israelis is it conceivable that Hillary aided the Israelis in the February 2010 assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhuh in Dubai? Was there any information and travel data collected and shared by the US with the Israelis on M. Al-Mabhuh? or is it possible that the americans eliminated the Hamas military commander on behalf of the Israelis?  How come no one was brought to justice?  Did the information collection ordered by Hillary Clinton help in any way in this man's death? And what would be the consequence of such a finding?.  Such personal information collection could not have but bad proviosional intentions, blackmail is the least of them.

The elaborate scheme to eliminate Al-Mahbub could only come from states that have the means and resources and access to credit card information for example and digital tracking of same to pull a job like that.  Many laws in several countries were broken in the process of this operation.  Where is the accountability for this.  Many seem to be accessories before and after the fact.   

The murder of a Hamas leader finds justification in the eyes of the Israelis and Americans but how about Folke Bernadotte, the UN special envoy?  His killers are well known:

"Bernadotte was assassinated on Friday 17 September 1948 by members of the Jewish terrorist Zionist group Lehi (commonly known as the Stern Gang or Stern Group).
A three man 'center' of this extreme Jewish group had approved the killing: Yitzhak Yezernitsky (the future Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Shamir), Nathan Friedmann (also called Natan Yellin-Mor) and Yisrael Eldad (also known as Scheib)....."   (1)

The US has a tendency to look the other way when it comes to israeli crimes even when such crimes are against the US itself.  Ask any surviving member from the USS Liberty  [ ussliberty.org ]  about the flagrant attack against an american ship and its crew and how our government's coverup.  34 Killed, 174 injured!

Now all efforts are made to hush and punish Assange.  Assange, like The New York Times, did not steal the information nor spy on the US or other countries and is not guilty of a crime.  Unlike The Times, he is not susceptible to administration  pressures to hault publication of embassy documents, but then again, The Times had the support of the Supreme Court to resume publication of the Pentagon Papers.  (google the Pentagon Papers or see link below for further information)  (2)

(1) Folke Bernadotte.  He was assassinated in Jerusalem in 1948 by the militant Zionist group Lehi, while pursuing his official duties.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folke_Bernadotte.

(2) [http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1871.html]

comments, corrections are welcome!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Trees, wind and ice. a wind instrument to wait for.

Ice storms too, like big snow storms bring a thing of beauty that's rarely seen... or heard!

Every tree branch, every twig, every tiny detail becomes engulfed in ice, like a custom fit glove.

I heard it once, yes only once and can still remember it. Upstate NY.. I stopped the car to listen. I took few steps and at the edge of that little forest, the wind played the ice engulfed branches like a gust of wind would passing throug a crystal chandelier or wind chime.

Naked tree branches and custom fit ice.. a wind musical instrument with heavenly unrehearsed tunes that no other could...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Misnomer in the "M i d d l e"

The middle is a relevant measure in reference to two other points or regions. For example, take my thumb and my little pinkie and somewhere in the middle is my middle finger and named as such, "middle finger"for one obvious reason, it is in the middle of five fingers. Count them if you will, one is the thumb, two is the index finger, it is used to point at things, three is the middle finger, it is used, oh for many things, followed by finger number four and pinkie is number five. So, number three sits snuggly right in the middle.

Now, let's talk about the "Middle East".

To do so, we would have to establish two reference points, the outer points if you will, or more broadly regions of the world and find the center of it or the middle of the "EAST". Fine you say, where is the east? where does it start and where does it end?. Let's pick a reference point of the eastern part of the "EAST", be it right or wrong, but possibly close enough. Let Japan be the farther point east in the "EAST" just like the pinkie is on your right hand.

The region they have been calling the "Middle East" for the past seventy some years or so revolves around what was known as the greater Syria, as in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Israel and Jordan were not on the map yet, neither was Kuwait for that matter. Many erroneously reference and map the "Middle East" to include such countries as Morocco and even Pakistan. To exaggerate this sort of definition of the "Middle East" one might as well include Spain, Italy, Greece and the Balkans. But we won't do that.

For argument sake, let us take the current definition of the "Middle East" the way it is currently used and say that Lebanon or Palestine is in the center of the "Middle East", again as it is used by the media. So, we would now assume that as the term "Middle East" is used, Lebanon or Palestine would be in the middle or center of the "East", just like the middle finger is on your right hand. No pun nor disrespect intended!.

So, we have defined the east of the "East", the middle of the "East" and now we need to find the west of the "East". If we go on a map and measure the distance between Lebanon and Japan to be, for argument sake fifty units to the right, then we must measure about fifty units to the left to find the other side, the western side of the "East". This would probably land us somewhere in the Atlantic, even beyond the British isles and the British that contributed to this MISNOMER. Besides we all know that the western world begins somewhere in Europe, where the anglo-saxon languages dominate.

The same people that refer to the "Middle East" as that area that includes Lebanon, Syria and Palestine also refer to the "West" as those countries that extend from somewhere in Europe all the way to the Americas. Whether or not poor Latin countries are included in the "West" is doubtful. For that I think they use the term "Third world countries".

Houston, I have a problem. This argument clearly shows that there is no such thing as the "Middle East" involving Lebanon, Syria or Palestine and certainly not the Arab world nor currently occupied Palestine. The problem is that some people, those who started this "Middle East" error in measurements just don't know their thumb or pinkie from their middle finger. Abolish this term, "Middle East" and let's call it what it really is, Terra dei Miserabili or maybe Via Dolorosa and that would be more befitting.

(The "Middle East" is a misnomer. The US state department refers to this area as the Levant, also known or named "Al Mashreq", as well as "Bilad ash-Sham", a sizeable part of western Asia. That's what it is and not the middle of any east unless you can disprove my middle finger theory.)

(see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levant)

copyright (c) simon sakkab

Friday, September 17, 2010

Francois and Felix and Blue Cheese

A real fictional story about blue cheese

The story of blue cheese:

Before blue cheese there was white cheese, yellow cheese and "Kraft". There was soft cheese, hard cheese and cheese with holes. There was cheese with crust that you eat and others with crust that you don't eat. but blue cheese??

Truth be told, blue cheese is 2 french guys punking the americans.

When Francois and his brother Felix, cheese makers, forgot a small batch of cheese in a poorly ventilated area that had suffered from water damage 6 months earlier, the cheese went on to develop a different taste caused by too much mold. The mold apprently liked the cheese as a place to grow, and not only grow but even thrive.

When one day Felix (happy) was puzzled by the growing bad smell he looked around and discovered the old batch of cheese rotting and full of blue color ... mold!! Felix called his brother Francois to show him what had happened. Francois, it is worth mentioning, does not like americans. Why? Because he does not like them, that's all. You either like something or someone, or you don't.

So, Francois sees the cheese and asks Felix if he had any suggestions. Felix says that the cheese is not good, and it's a lesson learned. The cheese, he said, would go to the trash.
Francois looked pensive for a moment and then he smiled. "Mais non Felix" he said. This is the best cheese we ever made. And he continued "first, tell no one of this. This cheese has a name now: Rockfort cheese. I name it like that because its smell is strong like a rock. Besides, with a name like that it would sound really nice and would go great with a Rockfeller wine."Felix did not know what to think of all of this but he knows what his crazy brother Francois is capable of. And he asked Francois as to who might buy this "merde".

Francois was ready for this question:"les americans mon petit frere, les americans.. ils bouffent n'importe quoi. The americans, yessss. they eat anything. They will probably call it blue cheese".
There you have it. The blue cheese story.

draft 1 finished.
written by simon sakkab
created by simon sakkab
tasted by simon sakkab

important notice: no fictional characters were harmed by this story.
personally i think the french have the best cheeses, wine and very fine women :P just don't leave any of them in a wet moldy place!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Praise God and pass the food



In the old Beiruti accent it is Basseym and not Bassam, and Basseym is an old Beiruti because when he invoked the name of God at the instant he reached into the bowl of fava beans to prepare a customer's meal he would say: "bismIlleh" or in the name of God.

I noticed this the first time I walked into his little reataurant off of Sidani Street in Ras Beirut. I was the first customer of the day and aching for a sa7en foul, or a plate of fava beans with "service" of raw onions, a fresh sprig of mint, olives, pickles, tomatoes, radishes and a large
loaf of pita bread. I asked for some hot green peppers too. Those you get only by asking for them.

I watched Basseym as he prepared my food and true to form .. "bismIlleh" as he scooped away my foul. I smiled; this is the piece of culture a tourist would certainly miss out on. It is refreshing to see and sample, not only the food he was making but a taste of Beirut, the little things people do that go unnoticed, even by locals. Sure this, invoking God's name with every scoop, is rare but hence its beauty.

Basseym bissami 2ism Allah each time he scoops away some foul or hummos. He told me so when I asked him. "Bissami" is when one mentions God's name as one embarks on a certain action, like saying: "in the name of God".

A week or so went by and I stopped by Basseym's to have lunch this time and take a couple of pictures. The place, unlike that early morning days earlier, was very busy. So, I patiently waited until things slowed down a bit and asked Basseym if I could take some pictures and ordered some food. I also added:"3ala fikra, ma smi3tak t2ool "bismIlleh" " (by the way, I did not hear you say "bismIlleh" ). Basseym replied that he's been saying it all along but maybe I did not hear him, but now I could hear him say it loud and clear :)

simon sakkab

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Children of the Streets

Beirut, Ras Beirut, Hamra June 9, 2010

The opportunity was the traffic light signal; it turned red and cars, even though it was in Beirut, actually stopped. A 10 to 12 year old girl with brown and blond hair ran towards a taxi and started talking to the only passenger in the front seat. She wanted money and she was not shy about her job. She was persistant because she stood there exchanging words. The car windows came up, end of conversation and the girl accomplished no financial gain, this time. But as she talks to strangers, day in, day out, she is apt to learn much, that most of us won't, much about human nature, about people, about attitudes. Even though it is not a socially accepted way for a child to learn or make a "living", it is a fact of life in Lebanon.

The other girl that ran to another fancy car was of the industrious type, she offered her unwanted service, car windshield cleaning. As a child of no more than 12 years of age, and still not tall enough to reach long and high enough to do a good job of it, it was obvious that the service was a token for begging without begging. She had a little spponge in the left hand and a squeegy in the right. Afraid for his car and the unwanted service and the proximity of the child and her dirty clothing from his fancy car, the driver turned his windshield wipers on. As this act also automatically activated the water nozzles, the girl blocked the stream of one nozzle with her left hand holding the sponge, and now her dry sponge is holding water. She smiled. She felt she accomplished something by getting water on her dry sponge.

Who are these kids?

Maybe today I will ask one of them.

OK, so I did. I met Layla and Zeinab, cousins. They come from Aleppo, Syria and speak "Turkmani" and arabic. They live in Nab3a and take the bus to come and go places. Today they're in and around Hamra. Today they had no school, like probably other days. They ask for money, food and water which they give to their mother to pay the rent.
This, the poor coming to Beirut to make a "living", has not changed. And the poor being so young and independent, that too has not changed. Sad but true.

Meet Zeinab and Leila :)