After the sublime documentary, "The March of the Penguin", we get another magnificent animated movie: Happy Feet. If you get the chance to watch it in IMAX (Canadian Technology), please do! Not a single kid remained seated, not a single parent did not dance, and we were shaking to the beat. I vote Happy Feet, for the best movie this year, and of course Robin Williams is just grand as always. Click here for one of my favorite songs of the movie, performed by none other than Mr. Robin Williams. And here, for another trailer. The Art of Animation has gone a long way my friends, it is flirting with reality to intimate proximity.
Here's another Letter from Lebanon, written by Rosie Akl. _z.
---- November 20, 2006
Dear Family and Friends, I wish all those celebrating Thanksgiving a happy and blessed one. To the Lebanese, I wish them a happy independence day (November 22), although many may question, independent from whom?
Letter from Lebanon--#43 The Aftermath: Part II
The last “Letter from Lebanon” that I wrote before the war, dated June 26, 2006, was entitled, “Summertime, and the living is easy…” I started the letter: “Nothing brings out traditional Lebanese hospitality more than at summertime when these fun loving people, who even during the darkest moments of the war, never ceased to enjoy all that life brings.” How these words would come back to haunt me. Before the summer w ar, Lebanon was on a “high.” The country was preparing itself for the best summer since the (prior) war and the departure of the Syrians. On July 12, that all came to a screeching halt.
The 34 day July war destroyed not only much of the infrastructure of the country, but it also broke the confidence of the Lebanese. People remain very nervous fearing that “something” might explode again. And if it does from the Israeli side, it is known that Israel will come in even harder. Israel continues to openly violate Resolution 1701 by flying reconnaissance flights near the Lebanese border, maneuvers that threaten the already feeble accord between the warring parties. The United Nations force in the south of Lebanon has demanded on numerous occasions that Israel stop. In addition, the Lebanese government, already strained from the 2005 Hariri murder, the dozens of car bombs that followed and the departure of the Syrians, has been further weakened by constant political infighting, making progress slow to get Lebanon back on its feet.
Hizbullah has been gloating, causing deeper divisions among the different Lebanese political parties. Tensions have risen so high that the Lebanese are unsure whether a war will erupt from within or outside its borders. Certain parties, but especially the Shia under Hizbullah are demanding greater power in this fractured and weakened government. They are threatening to stage peaceful demonstrations but others may also demonstrate and the peacefulness may become strained. Already six cabinet ministers have resigned. Compromise is a concept few are willing to accept.
Why is Lebanon in this mess? This is not an easy question to answer, of course, but I will attempt to address some facets of the answers. After the Taif accord, the Lebanese army was not allowed to rearm itself, not that it ever had a strong army to begin with. It does not have one single military airplane. The helicopters that it does have are from the dinosaur age. Its arms are old. The Shiites who live primarily in the southern part of Lebanon, bordering Israel, are vulnerable to Israel’s aggression. They know that Israel has F-16’s, reconnaissance planes, nuclear arms, clus ter bombs, just to mention a few of its military capabilities.. Living next to such a neighbor makes one very nervous. If your own government does not have the wherewithal to defend you, what do you do? You no longer depend on your government but yourselves. Hence, one of the reasons for the birth of Hizbullah. And, obviously Hizbullah is forced to look for sources of its arms outside the country. In this case, Syria and Iran. If the western powers had allowed the Lebanese army to build up its arms and military arsenal properly from the beginning, there would have been no reason for Hizbullah to be forced to defend itself. When the other militias disbanded, their reason to exist ceased with the end of the war, as most of their fighting was among themselves. But the Shiites that formed the Hiizbullah militia were still defending themselves against Israel. In the south of Lebanon, there are not only Shiites, but also many Christian communities. Nevertheless, the Shiites dominate the region. When your land has been occupied by a foreign power, meaning Israel, for over 15 years it is not easy to freely and willingly trust them. The Shiites, sidelined by the Lebanese government, depended upon Hizbullah who not only protected them but also developed significant social programs including building schools, hospitals, and improvin g water and electricity supplies to homes. For the Shiites, Hizbullah was the group they could turn to when in need. Who are you going to support when times get tough—the one who helped you, of course.
I also believe strongly that if the Palestinian question had been properly addressed and resolved in 1948 when the creation of the modern state of Israel was forced upon them, the Middle East would not be such a fire bed as it is now. That is not to say there would not be other problems. No country is without some unrest, or discontent among the population. But I invite you to visit the Palestinian camps; They are real. These are testimonies to what Israel did to the Palestinians. More than 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon live in squalor. They do not live in nice condominiums in a nice neighborhood. They live in shantytowns. Every day of your life you are reminded that you have no real home, that your home was taken over by some Jew who came from Europe, Africa or the United States. These are facts. All you have to do is drive in the outskirts of Beirut, along the coasts, or in the Bekaa to see the refugees. Can you imagine being a refugee for mor e than 50 years? Can you feel the resentment that builds up in a person whose life has been taken away? And while a person’s heart goes out to the Palestinians and their lack of homeland, it is also a reminder that because of the creation of Israel, and the mass exodus of the Palestinians, these people poured primarily into Lebanon, but also Syria, Jordan, as well as Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.. This flood of refugees created a demand on the Lebanese that they were not able to cope with. The list of tensions and problems caused by the Palestinians issue is long and cannot be dealt with completely in this letter.
And finally, the last issue I would like to address pertains to religion. It is difficult for an outsider, myself included, to understand the degree to which religion plays a role not only in everyday life, but also in politics. Americans, who grew up with the belief and acceptance of the separation of religion and state, probably no longer think about the separation, as it is taken for granted. But here, religion is fully integrated into politics. Most political parties are aligned along religious beliefs. From the beginning when the state of Lebanon was formed, the unwritten, thus verbal part of its constitution, stipulated that the president would be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Moslem, and the speaker of the house, a Shiite Moslem. The clergy, (Christian and non-Christian), have played a large role in Lebanese politics from the beginning. The political leaders are lined up along their religion obedience and many people follow blindly. “I belong to this particular party because I am a Maronite. I belong to that party because I am a Druze (another Moslem sect). I belong to the Amal party because I am a Shiite.” A few secular nationalistic parties do exist, but without much of a following at this time; however, they were very popular at the time Lebanon earned its independence. And because religion is at the core of who a person is, an attack on the party is like a personal attack. The unspoken,under the table alliance between the clergy (again, all the clergy) and the feudal lords (war lords, political leaders, etc.) keep the allegiance to the country in second place, right after the allegiance to one’s religion or sect. Topics such as rebuilding roads and bridges and improving the economy fail to be perceived as a Lebanese/national problem. Most Lebanese cannot seem to put LEBANON first and their religion next. And I believe as long as the Lebanese do not see Lebanon as a whole with its own problems that must be resolved, they will never get beyond the political morass that continues to stalemate this country.
Many Lebanese parliamentarians as well as outsiders are pushing and the UN resolutions are demanding that Hizbullah disband its arms, which is critical. But for the Shiites to have confidence in the Lebanese government, the Lebanese army must first be brought up-to-date militarily and not remain weak. If the UN and Western powers prohibit this, as they did before, Hizbullah will have reason to become stronger not weaker and where will that lead Lebanon? The Palestinian issue must be resolved fairly and imminently. Now Tony Blair is stating how important it is to resolve that problem as if he were discovering something completely new. The United States cannot be viewed as in independent broker when it sides with Israel completely. And yet, it is precisely because of Israel’s frequent occupations and mistreatment of the southern Lebanese that Hizbullah was formed and earned i ts popularity. A new formula should be found to deal with this issue. Who would you want to defend you in getting back your lands and rights, those who took it away in the first place? And finally, within the Lebanese borders, the Lebanese have to learn how to design programs that benefit all of Lebanon, because the good of all of Lebanon will serve all its inhabitants. These are tough issues that need to be resolved, sooner than later. Without their resolutions, Lebanon cannot find the peace it deserves.
This is the first time ever, I am happy on the day of my birthday. I always get morose and sad a few days before and after. This is the really the first time I am genuinely happy. I received flowers at work, which was a bit embarrassing since I was in a meeting, and for once people were taking me seriously. Then I rented the new mini cooper and having a blast with it. And I just got back from a wonderful dinner with 4 of my close friends. It was Grand.
WARNING: This post contains scenes with violence and coarse language; readers’ discretion is advised. ----
[Him] - mmmmmm, I love this new creamy honey jar we got; it’s delicious. [Her] - It looks like your cum! [Him] - HONEY! [Her] - But baby you always tell me to say dirty things, and that you like it when I talk dirty. [Him] - NOT WHEN WE’RE EATING BABY! NOT WHEN WE’RE EATING! [Her] - Sorry! [Him] - That’s ok baby… that’s ok.