Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's in Iraq...Baby Noor...Saddam's Trial

There are a lot of things I want to talk about before the year 2005 ends in less than 8 hours (at my side of the world at least). There have been many things I wanted to post about but I have just been so lazy lately and not wanting to do much except sleep and relax. But I’m finally writing something, so here it goes:

1. Saddam’s trial:
What a complete mockery of the court system! First of all, who in the world picked this judge to reside over the trial? He is the worst judge ever; during the whole part of the trial that I watched he was sitting there resting his hand over his cheek and listening to Saddam and the others talk as they pleased without telling them to shut-up even when they had clearly crossed the line. He seemed scared of them, or maybe he is just apathetic. In fact, there were times when Saddam told him and the prosecutors indirectly to shut-up by telling them not to interrupt him and let him finish, as if he was the one running the trial! By the end of the segment, my blood was boiling with rage from both watching the proceedings and listening to Saddam talk. It is like they had taken over the court and were running it their own way.
My favorite part from Saddam’s talk was when he said (roughly translated): “there is nothing closer to a person’s heart than his own sons right? By God, the feelings I had for my sons are only a drop compared to how much I care about Iraq”!!!!
at this point I told my dad I was ready to attack the TV screen and shatter it…no, it’s ok I was able to control myself and I didn’t break our TV.

This is what you get for trying Saddam and his goons in a democratic system…but, wait a second, if I am not mistaken even in the American court system the defendant does not get to speak except for the beginning when pleading guilty or not guilty (only the defense lawyer gets to talk), am I correct? And I thought Saddam was supposed to be tried according to the Iraqi justice system. I am not very familiar with that system, but I am almost certain the defendant is not allowed to talk and babble on and on about irrelevant topics to the trial, and I am damn sure the defendant would not be allowed to wave his finger in front of the judge’s face!

2. Baby Noor:
The Iraqi few months old infant dubbed “Baby Noor” is heading my way for treatment in Atlanta’s children’s hospital. I read about her story on CNN and I was very excited that she is being brought here to try to save her life. However, I was also thinking about so many other Iraqi children who are in need of urgent treatment to save their lives, and whose families may now be watching the story of baby Noor and wondering why they weren’t so lucky…why their little kid does not get a chance at survival like Noor…my heart hurts just thinking about these children and their families, and I wish there was some magical power to be able to treat all of them. May God be with all of these children and their families and give them strength, and may God bring Baby Noor safely to Atlanta to get the surgery she needs. Keep her in your thoughts and prayers. I will try to get in touch with the hospital to see if the family needs a translator or anything else that I can possibly help with (her father and grandmother are accompanying her).

picture of Baby Noor

3. New Year’s in Iraq:
We talked to some of my relatives in Baghdad today, and they said electricity has been so bad the past week that they have been having it for one hour or less for the whole day! I do not understand at all what they are doing over there…immediately after the war they used to have power, I think, around 6 hours daily, why is it getting worse? Why are they not making electricity and water the number one priority in their reconstruction and progress efforts? Electricity and water are clearly the number one priority to the Iraqi people, and their lives will be much better and they will be much happier if water and electricity are improved. When will that be?

I am not very happy this New Year’s Eve…I keep thinking about my relatives and other Iraqis who just welcomed the year of 2006 without power (and probably without any celebrations)…I keep hoping that maybe next year will be better for Iraq, and will bring more improvements, but did I not hope the same thing at the end of 2004? And 2003? Things seem to be getting worst not better, and I am sick of seeing the people in power not doing anything about it. When will Iraqis get a normal life like the rest of the world? It’s been 15 long years that Iraqis have been suffering from power shortages (or no power at all) and lack of proper water…when will the end to all of this come?

Despite all my pessimism, I still pray, hope, and dream that the year of 2006 will bring unseen progress to Baghdadis and all of Iraq.


Saturday, December 24, 2005


I did not want to ruin the blessedness and purity of this holiday season by discussing or writing about dirty politics…so I will leave you with this post about some interesting information I found on the web about the meanings and history of some Christmas traditions.

Note: this is how I want to decorate my house in the future for Christmas!

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May the year of 2006 bring with it promises of peace, progress, and a better life to Iraq and the world over. May 2006 be a better year for all of you, and bring you opportunities that you need and deserve.

Who is Santa Claus?
The original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, was born in Turkey in the 4th century. He was very pious from an early age, devoting his life to Christianity. He became widely known for his generosity for the poor. But the Romans held him in contempt. He was imprisoned and tortured. But when Constantine became emperor of Rome, he allowed Nicholas to go free. Constantine became a Christian and convened the Council of Nicaea in 325. Nicholas was a delegate to the council. He is especially noted for his love of children and for his generosity. He is the patron saint of sailors, Sicily, Greece, and Russia. He is also, of course, the patron saint of children. The Dutch kept the legend of St. Nicholas alive. In 16th century Holland, Dutch children would place their wooden shoes by the hearth in hopes that they would be filled with a treat. The Dutch spelled St. Nicholas as Sint Nikolaas, which became corrupted to Sinterklaas, and finally, in Anglican, to Santa Claus. In 1822, Clement C. Moore composed his famous poem, "A Visit from St. Nick," which was later published as "The Night Before Christmas." Moore is credited with creating the modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly fat man in a red suit.

And more from another source:

Nicholas was a Christian leader from Myra (in modern-day Turkey) in the 4th century AD. He was very shy, and wanted to give money to poor people without them knowing about it. It is said that one day, he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. It landed in the stocking which a girl had put to dry by the fire! This may explain the belief that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and places gifts in children's stockings.

The history of the Christmas Tree:
The Christmas Tree originated in Germany in the 16th century. It was common for the Germanic people to decorate fir trees, both inside and out, with roses, apples, and colored paper. It is believed that Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, was the first to light a Christmas tree with candles. While coming home one dark winter's night near Christmas, he was struck with the beauty of the starlight shining through the branches of a small fir tree outside his home. He duplicated the starlight by using candles attached to the branches of his indoor Christmas tree. The Christmas tree was not widely used in Britain until the 19th century. It was brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans in the 1820's.

One last thing…did I mention how much I love Christmas? It is my all-time favorite holiday:)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Do You Like Beer?

I thought this was very interesting and funny...apparently, beer was invented by the Sumerians/Babylonians, you know the same people who invented writing, the first wheel etc.

obviously, my dad was can trace mostly anything back to the great Mesopotamians...I personally hate beer, but now I think I might reconsider my hatred for it though, you know just as a support for my great ancestors:)

so next time you are enjoying a good time with a beer in hand, just don't forget to thank the great people of Mesopotamia for their invention...and remember, I am one of their descendants so I guess you can thank me instead!

here is the link to the story...enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

short update...

oh man, there are so many things taking place in Iraq that I want to write about...unfortunately, I have final exams starting this thur. through next wed. Dec., as you can imagine I do not have any time to write a post for my blog...I think my first post after finals will be a very long one, but I will write something as soon as I'm FREE:)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

School Supplies Drive underway

UPDATE: We decided to extend the drive until after our school holiday break to give students a longer time to get their donations in.

I have had an idea of holding some sort of drive at Emory U. this year to help Iraqi students, see this old March 22nd post...

well, now I finally did it! we are holding a school supplies drive for Iraqi elementary school children starting today thru Friday Dec. 9th...I am really excited about it and I'm hoping that people will be generous with their donations especially now that it is during the holiday season. I am working on trying to find a military base in Georgia who will ship the supplies for free since I imagine they will be shipping a lot of stuff to the troops during this time, hopefully they will.

I have contacts in northern Iraq to ship the collections to once the drive is over, and they will distribute them to elementary schools in the northern villages of Iraq.

I will keep you posted about the progress of the drive.

In the meantime, here are some great websites about the children of Iraq:

American Aid for Children of Nineveh, Iraq
Iraq Kids
Children's Voice from Iraq

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Wishing all my American readers a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday...sadly, I'm not really celebrating it this year since my grandmother passed away a few days ago (God rest her soul), and my dad is out of town:(
but, I'm always so excited when Thanksgiving is here, because it makes me feel like Christmas (my all-time favorite holiday) is just around the corner...cannot wait 'till Christmas, but I will leave you first to enjoy Thanksgiving and all the good food...

here is something funny I found while browsing the internet:
Top 10 reasons to have a Happy Thanksgiving:

I especially like #4: which is why I celebrate Thanksgiving with my family even though we're not Americans, and it is technically an American holiday.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Something to be cheerful about

I found some pictures of my beautiful Baghdad during Eid Al-Fiter (the 4 day Muslim holiday that follows their fasting during the month of Ramadan)...I can't describe my feelings when I see such pictures of Iraqis, specifically the children, being happy and just enjoying their day...I was filled with excitment to see that the Iraqis are defying the odds and are enjoying their holidays, and trying to make their children have a normal life. These pictures filled my heart with joy along with getting a little homesick...they were posted by Sooni whom I found through Iraq the Model...and I am assuming that they don't mind me using the photos here in my blog...I just needed to post pictures of beautiful smiling children for a change instead of explosions and dead/injured people. I'm just posting a couple, but go to Sooni's blog for many more!

Look at their beautiful happy faces!

How adorable is she!!!

Looking at these pictures you would not think that this is is so normal, quite, peacful, and makes my heart flutter seeing people happy and just trying to bring normalcy back to their lives despite how hard it may be.

oh my Baghdad, when will it be that we meet again...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

What's Going On in France?

I was just browsing the internet quickly for news and saw this story about riots taking place in the CNN story here.

First, I am surprised I have not heard about this on T.V. since I normally turn on the news every morning when I am getting ready to go to classes. The riots have started since Oct. 27th and I do not understand how I did not hear anything in CNN or Fox being reported, hmmm...

The part I found most disturbing was this:
two schools...were burned, Hamon said. A child care center was burned in Lille in northern France.
and then it says somewhere else:
The vandalism has spread to around 20 communities with large immigrant and Muslim populations who've been plagued by poverty, unemployment and alleged discrimination. In some areas, unemployment is 25 percent

How exactly is burning schools and child care centers supposed to fix their unemployment problems???? Are the children responsible for their unemployment? I understand they are trying to the government aware of their problems (which I am sure it is); but, first rioting is not going to end their poverty or provide them with jobs; second there are many other ways to make their problems known to the government (and burning children's education places is NOT one of them); and third I don't think many people will be sympathetic to their situation when they are burning public places and endangering their fact, I would want my government to take action to stop these lunatics (which I am sure do not represent the majority of the impoverished OR immigrant OR minority families who are probably sitting quietly in their homes trying to feed their children and live their lives , and shaking their head while watching these maniacs bring chaos to the city....ok, ok that is a little dramatic but who knows maybe I'm right)

(long sigh) crazy world we live in...and it seems to be getting crazier everyday (another long sigh).

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I've been tagged by Fayrouz!

so I was forced into doing this by Fay from "Iraqi in America", but hey it was fun to do!!!

Seven things I plan to do:
1.Get my bachelor’s degree this year
2.Go to medical school
3.Travel the world starting with Europe
4.Visit Alkosh / Iraq
5.Remain optimistic in spite of obstacles (which is too hard to do)
6.Make some difference in the world
7.Find the man of my dreams (preferably riding on a white horse, hehe:))

Seven things I can do:
2.Be honest
3.Express my opinion
4.Shop for clothes and shoes:)
5.Be a loyal friend
6.Drive a car

Seven things I can’t do:
1.Live without hot black tea
2.Sing or dance (although I pretend that I can)
3.Lie (really, when I try I’m so bad at it)
4.Play sports
5.Go bungee jumping or skydiving
6.Change a flat tire (although I want to learn)
7.Eat sushi / seafood

Seven things I say most often:
2.I’m sleepy
3.I have to study / go to the library
4.Thank you
5.I know (when I probably don’t:))
6.MCATs / med school (these words seem to dominate my life these days)
7.I’m so cold (even during summer!)

Seven people I want to pass this tag to:
1.Zeyad of “Healing Iraq
2.Tara of “Tara
3.Liana of “Ishtarria
4.Ahmad of “Iraqi Expat
5.Omar and Mohammad of “Iraq the Model
6.A.J. Nolte of “Rightward bound
7.PebblePie of “PebblePie

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Saddam: your time has come...may you suffer until you rot!

Update: trial has been postponed and the defense has been given until Nov. 28th to build his case... blah, as if he has a case...this sucks!

Today is judgment day for Saddam, or at least the start of it. He will stand trial for one of the many charges brought against him. This charge is about the Dujail incident that took place in 1982 (3 years after he seized power). I had never heard the story before, probably because I was not even born then. Apparently during one of his visits to the town an assassination attempt was made against him, but he escaped unharmed only to later return to the town and unleash his wrath on its people. He killed and imprisoned many including women and children. Imagine, this was only 3 years after he had seized power…three years and people were already fed with him and his crimes. I mean what was it? Wasn’t it just when he had become president that they showed that televised meeting where he started pointing people out from the audience and his guards would go escort them out of the room (to their death!). The Iraqi people watched in their homes the pleas and cries of these men, while the bastard showed no mercy at all. His plan from the start was that of terrorizing the Iraqi people, letting them realize that “I own you now, you better do as I say or else you will never see the light of day again.” And I cannot believe people around the world fell for our act, and at one point of time, thought that we actually loved him…
The Dujail case is one small tiny example of how much people despised him, and wished him dead. I remember when I was in Iraq and a conversation with relatives or close friends would start about cancer or some other terrible disease of this day and age that so and so has (or recently died from or something), and the conversation would always turn where someone would say “with all these people wishing him dead, you would think he would be the first one to get cancer…how come it’s the good people dying, while the bastard reigns freely…why doesn’t he get cancer or some other terrible disease?” Now I understood that people were saying this as their way of expressing their deep frustration, but you know with me being me I did not like hearing things like that, because I would always think that there must be some reason for this (which I have not figured out yet).
Anyways, so the whole world will get the opportunity to see Saddam’s trial as they are allowing it to be taped with a 20 minute delay…finally the people of Dujail, as well as the rest of the Iraqi people, can watch this monster get what he deserves for all of the crimes that he has committed over the 23 years that he was in power (or maybe a little less of what he deserves since what he deserves would be to cut him into little pieces while he begs for mercy, but we cannot do that because that would make us like him). Finally, we can see justice (or the beginning of it) take place in Iraq…all of these years Iraq was the ideal example of injustice, fear, totalitarianism, discrimination, and murder of innocent people…it is about time that the Iraqis start setting a different kind of ideal for the world (maybe setting an ideal is too extreme, a good start would be just working our way to some already existing model) that of justice, peace, democracy, and equality…qualities that have been so foreign to the Iraqis up until now, but it is about time that they start learning and implementing them, and Saddam’s trial and sentence (since there is absolutely no doubt that he will be convicted) is the first step towards achieving these beautiful ideals.

p.s. sorry for not blogging for so long, but my life is way too hectic these days (and will probably be this way for the rest of the semester)...but Saddam's trial is way too exciting for me to miss blogging about.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Assyrian Writer and Historian: Rosie Malek Yonan

Rosie Malek Yonan is an Assyrian artist, writer, and historian. She is originally from Iran, but currently lives in the U.S. you can read more about her and her life at her website by clicking here. I just read a short interview with her about her recently published book The Crimson Field, which was very can read it by clicking here. Also, you can read more about her book and order it here. I think I am going to order a copy for me soon...the book talks about the Assyrian genocide that took place during World War I when the Ottomans where in control of the region...People have heard about the Armenian genocide or the Jewish Holocaust, but very few people know anything about the Assyrian genocide or that there even was a genocide, which is a very sad thing. This book is a very good source to learn more about this topic, and it tells the true story of Yonan's family that probably reflects the suffering of many Assyrian families during that period.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Assyrians demand their rights

This article was published by correctly reflects the troubles of the Assyrians in Turkey, and Iraq (and elsewhere in the middle east probably) is a great article that looks into the problems faced by Chaldoassyrians in their quest for their rights that have been long lost.

Assyrian International News Agency
Guest Editorial
A Cry of Help By the Assyrians
Dr. Dogu Ergil

I have been awed by Assyrian art twice: The first occasion was while standing before a huge ancient stone relief depicting a war scene exhibited in the British Museum during my university years. The second was a collection of silver ornaments called 'telkari' made by fine threads of silver. They looked like metal embroidery of the finest kind. Decades later I visited Mardin and Midyat to discover that long after the disappearance of the Assyrian Empire, the fine masonry they have left behind had lived on.
Indeed, the heirs of one of the magnificent civilizations of Mesopotamia are the Assyrian citizens of Turkey. I include myself here too, the elite city folk of Turkey know very little about them, indeed, nor have they read anything in our history or citizenship books at school about them, either. I felt ashamed of my ignorance and I still feel that as an academic and an enlightened citizen of Turkey I owe a duty to demonstrate some awareness of the needs and expectations to this talented -- and one of the most peaceful -- groups of the republic.
During each of my travels to the southeastern provinces of Turkey I witnessed the shrinking of the Assyrian population. Some villages have sought refuge in Europe as towns shed their Assyrian inhabitants by the thousands. Most of those who wanted to remain in the country moved to national metropolises, especially to Istanbul where their Christian creed was less visible and their craft (mostly gold and silversmiths) was rewarded.
They were neglected by officialdom because they did not fit into the official identity of citizenship defined as "Turkish in ethnicity and Sunni Muslim in religion." Although they possessed the two other components of the official identity that are "secular" and "obedient to the state," their Christian creed set them apart from the mainstream body of "trusted citizens." Left alone, they did not enjoy the protection of official bodies. Reckless Kurds inspired to lawlessness by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) usurped their property and deterred them from staying on by destroying their crops as well as issuing outright threats on their lives.
I am a personal witness of this sad phenomenon: A powerful and prominent Kurdish figure in the Mardin area known for his righteousness is trusted with the trusteeship of the property of many Assyrians. The title deeds of dozens of expensive properties is transferred over to this man in return for his word that upon the death of their legal owners they will be handed over to their scions/heirs. What a pity for the citizens of a country who has to take refuge in the honesty of a few selected individuals rather than being protected by the institutions and officials to whom they bear allegiance.
However, lately it was very refreshing to hear and see that some of the Assyrians were coming back after decades of asylum in Western countries, at least to die in their own land or to spend a few peaceful years after the violence subsided. After all, this is their country. However, some have faced severe difficulties in recovering their property from loyal Kurdish village guards who had been instrumental in neutralizing the PKK in certain trouble spots. Some found it hard to obtain permission to build new residences to a much higher standard than the locals liked. Nevertheless, like rare and shy birds, they came back and brought gaiety to the gloomy Southeast, which had been a war zone for decades. Now that terrorism has been artificially resumed by the PKK to disrupt the peace and stability of the region and the country as a whole, Assyrians may shy away once again, thus leaving the region to militancy and the rule of force.
In the face of this danger they are appealing to every receptive heart and every listening ear for protection and the respect they most definitely deserve.
The situation is much worse to the south of the border, with Assyrians in Iraq crying out for help. Here are their own words concerning their concerns and expectations for the non-Arab and non-Kurdish groups:
"The Turkmen alone cannot survive against the aggressive Kurdish oppression. Turkmen politicians are in danger of their lives and they are being kidnapped. Kurdish militias and peshmergas oppress and threaten Turkmen businesses.
"The Assyrians are under even more aggressive political conditions than the Turkmens. There is the Nineveh Plain region with about 300,000 Assyrians, Shabaks, Yezidis and Turkmen. These people categorically refuse to be 'Kurdified.' This region is huge but the Kurds are trying very hard to incorporate it in a future 'Kurdistan or northern Iraq. It's still not under their administration and control officially. That is also why the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) prevented ballot boxes reaching this region during the previous elections!
"What the Kurds are doing in this region is a great crime. KDP offices are being built in even in the smallest villages; clerics are being bribed; civilians are being killed and alternative political parties of other peoples are being oppressed in a very aggressive way.
"Turkey must support the Assyrians who do not want to be divided into Chaldean, Syriac and Assyrian, as is written in the present Constitution. They wish to be referred to as ChaldoAssyrian, as it was in the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) representing all. "If Turkey only supports the Turkmen but refuses to support the Assyrians, Shabaks and Yezidis in northern Iraq, then a future Kurdistan in northern Iraq and Southeast Turkey will be a fact; even if the PKK is neutralized by Turkey, the United States and the European Union."*
I have not added a word to this analysis and cry for help. Anyone with some sense and conscience should heed the words above if they really want peace and stability based on equality and justice in a region that could be the fuse of the next world war, not fought with nuclear weapons but with hatred and a militant ideology that is no less dangerous and devastating.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Lost Country Announcement!

**I received the following in an email, and I thought I would share it with you all...I will try to post the English translation very soon.

اعلان عن فقدان وطن

فقد وطن اخضر اللون يدعى وادي الرافدين يرتدي مليون نخلة واهوار بحجم معاناته . عمره يناهز العشرة الاف سنة مجروح من كل جانب يوزع الحب والحكمة لبني البشر كان ملاذا للخائفين صار خوفا للامنين يتجول في شوارعه الموت والخوف والرعب يزين ارصفته دم الاطفال الابرياء الذاهبين صباحآ الى مدارسهم ليتعلموا كيف يكتبوا كلمة الوطن في درس القراءة ويرسموا خارطته في درس الجغرافية وينشدوه احلى نشيد (موطني )...على من يحن عليه يصلي لاجله ليضمد الرب جراحه وينشر السلام في ارضه.

Share with us the prayer for IRAQ

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Interesting comparison

So does everyone remember how the Iraqis were portrayed by the media immediately after the war two years ago? When the media was showing "all" the Iraqis looting, the only image people worldwide could make of us was that of a barbaric people who could not restrain themselves unless there was a ruling fist over their heads. That image disturbed me at the time a lot...

But, today I saw an interesting thing happening...gave me flashbacks to media pictures of Iraq two years ago and I could not help but compare:

after the disastrous and tragic hurricane that hit three states in the U.S. the media was reporting looting in parts of New Orleans....hmmmm, now what are people in a first world country that happens to be the greatest power in the world doing looting their country men and women instead of lending them a helping hand?

By no means do I intend to insult anyone by this. I also know that some of you reading this post will be upset by it, but I have a point with all of this...different kinds of people exist everywhere...a looter is a looter whether he is American or Iraqi or whatever, and the same applies to an honest person. Decent people can be found worldwide even in the least expected places.

So, maybe this looting should teach us a small lesson that we should not judge a whole nation’s citizens based on the acts of a few…oh and also learn to pick and choose what to believe from what the media shows.

Just a thought that came to mind…

Saturday, August 20, 2005

quick update

MCATs are over, done with, finito...that's all I have to say!!!

I feel a little bit more confident this time about my performance, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best...what's important at the moment is that I am finally a FREE person (for just a week at least and then I start the school year again )'s a wonderful feeling and I sure am enjoying it:)

Saturday, August 13, 2005


**The following piece is from the “Christian Thought” Iraqi magazine, which has been translated from Arabic by me.

Four candles were quietly burning. The wind was calm so that it was possible to hear their conversation. The first candle said: “I am Peace, but no one seems to be able to keep me lit forever, so I think I am going to be put out.” Then, its glow started getting dimmer until it completely extinguished.
The second candle said: “I am Faith, and I don’t find myself necessary anymore; there is not point of my staying lit any longer.” Just as it finished saying this, a strong wind blew and put the candle out.
The third candle sighed sadly and said: “I am Love and I don’t have the strength to stay lit, because people have placed me aside and don’t understand my importance anymore; they even forget to love the closest people to them.” So the third candle went out too.
Suddenly a little kid walked in and saw that the three candles were not lit. He asked them “why did you go out, weren’t you supposed to stay lit until the end?” and he broke into tears.
Just then, the fourth candle spoke and said: “don’t be sad my friend, because as long as I am lit I can light the other candles as well. I am Hope.” The kid’s eyes sparkled; he took the fourth candle, and with it he lit the other three candles- Peace, Faith, and Love!
Hope is the most important thing in people’s lives; without it we would all wither away. Just as the story above shows, Hope has the power to restore the lacking aspects in our lives. This is why I am always praying that the Iraqis will keep their “Hope” candle lit and prevent any winds or other external factors from putting it out, because as long as we have our hope we will achieve our dreams no matter how impossible they seem.

**p.s. I am trying to keep my “hope” candle lit to maybe help me light my “intellect” candle next Saturday as I will be taking the MCATs again…I don’t know if it will work; there is a possibility that my “intellect” candle has been completely burnt out :)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Chaldo-Assyrians making us proud!

I have been meaning to write a post about Chaldo-Assyrians and what they are doing in order to make their voice heard and taken into account both in the new Iraq and in the world in general, and I finally found some very interesting stuff worth posting….so here it is:

**One of the members of Congress named Anna Eshoo is actually a Chaldo-Assyrian originally from Iran…Representative Eshoo has not forgotten her roots, and is seizing the opportunity and using her power in Congress to add another strong voice in the Chaldo-Assyrians’ fight for their rights. Ms. Eshoo recently urged Congress to offer support to Iraqi Chaldo-Assyrians and Christians in general, and has the full article posted (it is in English except for the short intro which summarizes the article).

**the House of Lords in the U.K. have also been discussing the important issue of Iraqi Chaldo-Assyrians…to listen to their session click here….this is also a good to listen to if you want to know more about the history of Iraq’s Chaldo-Assyrians, since the speaker offers a lot of details about our history…the session is long and I did not listen to all of it, so I am not sure if they talk about this issue the whole time, you can find out for yourself and listen to the whole thing if you have that much spare time in your hands, but the important part is at the beginning.

**looking away from politics, Ramona Amiri, a Chaldo-Assyrian originally from Iran, received the title of “Miss World Canada 2005”, and will of course be representing Canada in the Miss World Pageant! Way to go Ramona!!! Click here for more info.

**finally, this should make you smile, I stumbled upon it while googling something...

now I love Homer Simpson more than ever seeing that he is promoting the Assyrian flag and fighting with us for our rights in his own odd way of dealing with things…I love it!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

United Against Terror

there is a "United Against Terror" online statement that just got released today, and they are looking for signatures from anyone who is opposed to the terrorist acts taking place worldwide: in the U.S., London, Iraq etc.

I encourage all of you to sign the statement as it is a small step to show these terrorists that we are not giving up to them and that we will fight them to the end...I signed the statement sign, click on this link, read the statement, then scroll all the way down to sign your name.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Who are the Real Stars?

Like a lot of people, I have Hollywood stars whom I love to watch, some who I find attractive, and some who I even have slight crushes on (ahem ahem: Tom Cruise:))….but I can never understand the people who go completely nuts when they see their favorite “star”….just like I cannot understand those who think of Jessica Simpson or Nicole Kidman or George Clooney or any other Hollywood celebrity as their role models! ROLE MODELS??? Role models of what??? I think Hollywood is the place where when people enter it they leave their morality and ethics outside the door….I mean is there anything that these “stars” haven’t done? And by “anything”, I am referring to the negative things of course (drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity etc.)
The reason why I am writing this is because I received an article via email from a friend that I really liked, which I am going to paste here….these are the real Heroes and Stars that we should admire and look at as role models, not some Hollywood big shot….enjoy reading!
""""Ben Stein's Last Column...For many years Ben Stein has written a biweekly column called "Monday NightAt Morton's." (Morton's is a famous chain of Steakhouses known to befrequented by movie stars and famous people from around the globe.) Now,Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things in his life.Reading his final column is worth a few minutes of your time.
How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?
As I begin to write this, I "slug" it, as we writers say, which means I puta heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is"eonlineFINAL," and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doingthis column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I lovedwriting this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end. It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person andthe world's change have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton's, whilebetter than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It stillbrings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw SamuelL. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right beforethat, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, inwhich we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton'sis not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again. Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywoodstars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people,and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or womanwho makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of acamera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to. How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insaneluxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someonebright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are notriding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trainedin yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamesegirls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me anylonger. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who pokedhis head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met bya bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject SaddamHussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to aroad north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killedhim. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S.soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexplodedordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed heraside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a familydesolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad. The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavishweddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after twoof their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped forthe sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of ourmagazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military paybut stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarinesand near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die. I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poorvalues, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that whois eating at Morton's is a big subject. There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament...the policemenand women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if theywill return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people whohave been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachersand nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children;the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards. Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the WorldTrade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of areal hero. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one thatmatters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it anotherway. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier oras good a comic as Steve Martin...or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or asgood an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer asFitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them. But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, aboveall, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to bemy main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty wellwith my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). Icared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayedwith my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma andthen entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms. This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiersin Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life livedto help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, inreturn for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He hasplaced in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human. Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will. By Ben Stein"""

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Today's terror attacks on London

Given the feelings of outrage that I am experiencing I decided to put my frustration on paper hoping that this would calm me down a little...I seriously do not understand why the world has gone mad…I am trying to comprehend why humans are performing such barbaric acts that not even animals lower than us do, but I cannot find a satisfying answer…the reason probably lies in the fact that there is NO REASON for any human being to commit such horrific crimes against other human beings especially knowing that the victims are completely innocent…I am sick and tired of hearing people giving religious and/or political explanations for these monstrous crimes…NO religion on earth should even be called a religion if it advocates or leads to killing or harming innocent civilians…religions where created as a way to guide human beings’ lives; they are an ethical code, just like laws are but more powerful; they were established as a way for people to seek a higher power when they feel helpless and hopeless with their mere human capabilities. No religion was initially found as a way to destroy humanity or kill human beings. These people (which aside from having human DNA, do not resemble other humans in any way) are insane, mentally-ill psycho-criminals…they are not just insane, nor are they simply criminals, but they are both.

Everyone probably realizes by now that I am talking about the terror attacks that took place in the London subway and bus system. The whole world has turned into a war zone, with the civilized trying to battle a phantom called terror. I cannot accept that such attacks are political. Killing or attempting to kill a president or a high official (like the murder of the Egyptian Ambassador in Iraq today) IS political; a COUNTRY going to war against another country is done for political reasons. However, killing a whole lot of civilians who have done no wrong to the attackers must not be accepted as done on a political nor religious basis.

I am kind of getting tired of the west not protecting itself right…I mean sure the U.S. and Europe have democracies, but these democracies were installed for the citizens of those countries…they should not be democratic towards individuals or nations who are attacking them or supporting their attackers. The CIA, MI6 and other similar organizations need to send clear messages and THREATS to those countries supporting terrorists in various ways whether directly or indirectly (and oh believe me they know who they are!) that if they do not stop they will face severe consequences…I am sick of seeing the American president or the British PM and others meeting DEMOCRATICALLY with Saudi princes and shaking hands as if they are good old friends….damn Saudi’s oil if obtaining it means the death of innocent civilians…I sincerely believe that action needs to be taken against countries that harbor terrorism…I understand that western relationships with countries such as Saudi Arabia and others are established to protect the interests of their countries, but what is more important economical interests or the security of the citizens of these democratic countries? If any American or British citizen is given the option of becoming unemployed or paying a higher price for gas, OR dying/losing a loved one, I am certain everyone would choose the former. So it is time for these western democracies to start taking stern actions and stop simply giving empty threats before other such attacks occur and too many innocent lives are lost.

May God be with all those who died in London today, with their families, and with the survivors of the attack that they may heal both from their physical and psychological injuries.

One last thing, I have noticed that whenever such an attack takes place all of the countries increase their security tremendously specifically in places similar to where the attack took place (i.e. today it was the subway system)…now I do not understand why they do that; honestly even the most dumb terrorist would know not to attack the same thing twice in the same period of time wouldn’t they? I know it is just an extra measure of precaution, but these precautions need to either be taken BEFORE the attacks occur, or the security need to be extended to other places and things…For example, just look at the trend: first in 9/11 the terrorists used planes, then they used the train system in Spain, and now they attacked the subway system in London. In my opinion, security in the subway system (in fact, the whole transportation system) should have been increased after the first two attacks, because it was obvious that the terrorists were targeting transportation but they were changing their specific targets.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Independence Day!!!

just wanted to wish a Happy 4th of July to all of the Americans wherever you may be...I hope you get to celebrate your freedoms and liberties today even if you are far from your homeland!

I would like to extend A special wish to all of the American troops serving in Iraq and elsewhere in the world...have strength in the fact that your nations' thoughts are with you every moment of every day...and know that we are praying for your safe return to your families.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Freedom Tower Age

The design for the new building that will be built in place of the World Trade Centers was revealed in the media today…the building is expected to be completed by the year 2010. It is being named “The Freedom Tower” and will be the tallest building in the world upon its completion…next to the building a memorial will be built commemorating all those who lost their lives to the terror attacks of 9/11. Click here for more details and here is a picture of the future building:

Now, when I read this piece of news an image flickered in my mind about what the world would be like in the summer of 2010 (or at least how I wish it would be like)…here is what I saw:

It is July 2010, the year the Freedom Tower has opened to the public, and among the many tourists traveling to New York City to marvel at the new building are many Iraqis who decided to escape Iraq’s summer heat and visit the Big Apple, the city that everyone talks about. At the same time, on the other side of the world, Iraq is seeing a large number of crowds like never before in the country’s history as many American tourists decided to take a vacation to the much talked about cultural and historical sites in Iraq that have only recently been restored and opened for tourism again.

Thus, simultaneously, as the Iraqi tourists are being amazed by the sight of the Freedom Tower and other skyscrapers that define NYC, American tourists are being fascinated by the gates of Babylon, the statue of the Winged Bull, and the many cultural centers and museums that once, not long ago, used to serve as palaces for the thugs who ruled the country.

This rush in tourism between the two countries is proving to the few skeptical people left around in the world that the war initiated 7 years ago has been won, and the experiment of Democracy in Iraq has proved to be successful. Iraqis have truly demonstrated to the world that they are a people of courage; their strong will and determination along with the help of their best ally, the U.S., have granted them their long-sought dream of a free country where peace roams around without being disturbed by terror and fear!

Sure there is still a lot more work to be done around the country in all aspects of life, but steady progress is being made daily. People have jobs. Profits are flowing into the country from the two main sources: oil and tourism. Above all, security has been established and there no longer exists fear of the kind people were experiencing several years ago. There is no longer fear of explosions from cars in public places; no longer fear of leaving ones home and not being able to make it back in one piece, no longer fear of having a random bullet strike the wrong person who happened to be standing at the wrong place in the wrong time. Iraqis have fought terror for a long time, and they were now reaping and enjoying the fruits of their long battle; and oh boy how good it tastes!

Now back to the present, 2005: some might criticize my vision above as being childish or unrealistic; they might say that I am just dreaming and it will never be like that. I am here to tell those people that without dreaming a person cannot achieve anything; dreams create ambitions, ambitions lead to motivation and hard work, which in turn lead to results. Furthermore, dreams give people hope, and the one very important thing that Iraqis need right now and should not give up on is HOPE…so, keep holding on to your hope and your dreams, and one day they WILL become reality-your reality!

Friday, June 24, 2005

New York Trip

First, Happy Late Father’s Day to all the fathers around the world especially my wonderful daddy!!! I just love it how they have a day in the U.S. to honor fathers just like they have a day for mothers…they need to adapt this day in Iraq…I mean, I know mothers are considered very special but fathers are too don’t you think? So why not celebrate them too?

Now about my trip…New York City was great! I had a really good time and I just loved it there…surrounded by the crazily tall buildings everywhere; the crowds walking all over and trying to cross the streets without getting hit by cars that get so close to pedestrians you would think they were crossing the street too. I haven’t seen this kind of bad driving or heard so much horn honking since I’ve left Iraq…driving in New York is just outrageous…every time I sat in a vehicle I thought I was not going to make it back alive.

I visited almost all the attractions…actually, after a few days we found out that 10 days was way too long since we could have seen everything in like 5 days, but we took some days off in the middle of the week to rest. I saw the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, Empire State Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Little Italy, Chinatown, Rockefeller Center, World Trade Center site (ground zero), Wall Street and New York Stock Exchange, The United Nations Headquarters, Bryant Park (my absolute favorite place to chill out and drink a Starbucks frappaccino), and became extremely familiar with the Times Square area from 42nd-47th street on 7th and 6th avenues because that’s where our hotel shuttle would drop us off and pick us up everyday. We also visited every single Starbucks around this area since every time we would get tired or hot we would sit at a Starbucks. I wanted to see a Broadway show but they were just too expensive, so we just passed by the theaters and enjoyed them from the outside.

Some other updates aside from my trip for those who want to know…I got my MCAT scores back, annnnnnnnnnnnd,I did not do so well so I will be retaking it again in August, agh!!! I hate this, but I have to do it if I want to get to medical school. Anyways, so you know what this means…it means that as of July 4th, which is when I will start my summer courses and reviewing for MCAT again I will probably not be able to blog a lot if at all…these few months ahead of me are very critical in determining my academic future and I really need to concentrate on that more than anything else.

Enough about me…click here to enjoy some pictures of the ever so beautiful New York City…oh and by the way, if you were wondering (like I always did before I went there) it is EXACTLY like they show on movies and shows…the crowds, the bad driving and the traffic, people’s diversity, the little pretty shops, the flashing signs and lights everywhere all add together to create the unique beauty of the Big Apple!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

going on vacation....AGAIN!!!

Any of you watch the show “Dayside” w/ Linda Vester on fox news? Well, even if you don’t, you must watch it on Wednesday June 15th…
Because I will be among the audience, and if I get the courage and somehow suppress my shyness (and that is a big IF) I just might raise my hand and ask a question (if they bring up the issue of Iraq), so maybe you will get to see me on TV.
The show airs live from 1:00-2:00pm Eastern Time, remember to tune in on June 15th!!!

You are probably asking that I must be present in New York City if I am going to be on “Dayside” right? RIGHT!!! It is true; I am going on vacation to the Big Apple tomorrow!!! I cannot control my excitement. I have always wanted to visit NYC but I never thought it would be this soon. It happened all of a sudden without prior planning.

I am calling this summer “the summer of wonderful trips and vacations” for me…am I always traveling like this? nooooo, not at all. It is just that everything is happening this summer, which I am not complaining about.

So, don’t expect any posts from me until I get back on June 22….and I will hopefully have some really cool pictures of New York City to post.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

some news and issues

**diplomatic relationships will soon resume between Iraq and our neighboring country Kuwait… reported that Hamid Al-Bayatee, a representative of Iraq’s foreign ministry said at the end of his visit to Kuwait that there is nothing holding up the process such as safety issues and such, except that there are some protocols that need to be taken care of. Al-Bayatee also commented on Syria saying that they need to take stricter actions to prevent Saddam’s people from crossing the border and seeking refuge in Syria…when confronted with this, the Syrian government claimed that it is hard for it to control the border…ha! Yeah right! they are Ba’athists for God’s sake and they are only being loyal by supporting their Ba’athist brothers don’t you think? Hehe, no that is not it…the thing is that they are probably becoming millionaires, if not billionaires, from the money these crooks (like Izzat Al-Douri possibly???) are paying them. Anyways, it is better this way…I would really be disappointed if we develop diplomatic relationships with Syria…the Ba’ath party is in power over there and from our experiences in Iraq with this corrupt party I think we wouldn’t want anything to do with it ever again. So, until Syria is clean and cured from this disease called “Ba’ath”, it would be wiser and safer for Iraq to stay far from it.

**Mohammad from Iraq the Model wrote a post about the rights of Iraqis with disabilities. I feel that this is a very important issue to be discussed, which is why I linked to ITM. The first step, I believe, is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same rights as other Iraqi citizens by implementing laws that require equality and prohibit discrimination. In addition, there has to be programs that work towards improving schools, places of work, roads etc. so that they offer services to people with special needs (a good start is making buildings accessible for ALL people).

But the bigger issue once the laws are instigated is to change people’s attitudes through awareness programs and such…the biggest thing that Iraqis need (and Middle Eastern countries in general, but we’re only talking about Iraq here) in regards to the disability issue is education and awareness. People must be made aware that just because someone is physically or mentally challenged does not mean that the person has no future, no rights and should be ignored or just merely treated with pity (which in my view diminishes from a person’s respect)…people of all capabilities must be given a chance to live and work on the areas that they can benefit society in…all human beings can offer some kind of benefit to society if they choose and are given the opportunity to do so. For example, disabled people should not be dismissed from getting into the college that they deserve or getting a job that they are qualified for just because they look different…how in the world do you know that that person is not going to perform the job better than you without giving him/her a chance? Some of the world’s greatest thinkers/artists/musicians etc. had some form of disability…Beethoven was deaf, yet he created the most amazing melodies ever!

Finally, reading over a draft of the Iraq constitution (in Arabic) I saw this statement:
المادة45-منع التمييز والأمتيازات
لا يجوز التمييز ضد أي فرد أو منحه أمتيازا على أساس الجنس أو الأصل أو العنصر أو اللغة أو الولادة أو العقيدة أو الأيمان أو العائلة
which states that there cannot be discrimination towards any individual on the basis of: gender, origin, ethnicity, language, birth, religion, or family.

I believe that “disability” needs to be added to the list; otherwise this is not really including ALL of the individuals. There are a lot of important issues in Iraq these day, and the rights of disabled individuals is one of them. It is a topic that should not be ignored nor postponed because there is just a lot of work to be done in this area.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Trip Diary

I am back from Arizona…I arrived to Atlanta last night, and took the day off to rest from the trip. The trip overall was a lot of fun…it took us 2 ½ days to get to Arizona. We spent one night in Texas, and another in New Mexico. The drive through Texas seemed endless; it took us 14 hours just to pass through it!!! On the way back we took a different route so we could pass through some different states. So we also got a glimpse of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

We had heard that from Texas and on we will be driving through desert…but apparently in the U.S. there is no real desert like that found in Iraq with sand, sand, and more sand. Sure the scenery changed as we drove from Atlanta to Arizona, but even New Mexico and Arizona had grass (although it was dry and yellowish) and some miniature trees along with their many types of cactuses. As for Texas, well I was misinformed because it is not even close to a desert…it does not have a lot of trees but that does NOT make it a desert…it is full of miles and miles of grassland and my mom just fell in love with its scenery and kept saying that we should move there. Actually, my mom loved every state we passed through and wanted to move to almost all of them, hehe:)

Anyways, we did not really explore the states we passed through since we did not have time to do that, except in Tennessee near the Georgia border we saw signs for “Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain” and we decided to check them out. We ended up riding a train that goes up to an observation deck on Lookout Mountain, which is said to be the steepest mile in America! The view from the top was amazing but the train ride was a little too slow that I took a snooze on the way down:D

As for Arizona, then believe me Grand Canyon alone is worth the whole trip there…it was just gorgeous, beautiful, stunning, magnificent...I can go on and on forever, because I was just amazed from what I saw…oh how beautiful nature can be…look at the pictures of Grand Canyon below and tell me if you are not amazed…although, I must say that seeing the pictures is not at all the same as seeing it in real life, but it gives you an idea of how great this place is! We spent 3 days in Phoenix, and then decided to visit Grand Canyon since we were only 3 hours away…we only spent ½ a day there because we were running out of time. We also wanted to visit Las Vegas for a day, but unfortunately we did not have enough time to do so.

The scenery changed between the states, and so did the accents since we passed through some small towns and rural areas where people still have their own distinct accents. At some gas stations I heard really deep southern accents while at others I heard what I guessed was western accent (or just Texas accent???). Despite these differences, I could easily identify that I was still in the U.S. every time I saw a Wal-Mart or a Home Depot :D Seriously, it was all the same big-chain restaurants and supermarkets from here to Arizona. I thought when I studied high school economics that oligopoly was supposed to be a bad thing, but I see it working just fine here in the U.S. hmmm, maybe I should review my economics class notes and see if I misunderstood the concept, but then again why give myself a headache studying a topic that I have no interest in whatsoever.

This is all that I can say about my trip, but I have plenty of pictures that I will try to post here in categories as soon as I figure out how to post them in folders rather than one picture at a time which would take me forever (i.e. post all of Arizona pictures under its category)...and if anyone already knows then I would greatly appreciate your help, just email me the instructions...thanks!

My trip in pictures:

Arizona pix

Grand Canyon pix

Desert scenery

mountain scenery

Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

road-trip break

I will be going on a road trip to Arizona tomorrow, so most likely I won’t be able to blog for about ten days. I doubt that I will have internet access, but even if I do I don’t think that I will have any free time to blog.

This should be an interesting trip…I have been told that there is nothing to see in Arizona but it is still a different state to visit and there are a lot of Iraqis who live there. What is even more fascinating are the states that we will pass through in our 2-3 day trip before we reach Phoenix…among these states: Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi…no offense to people who live in these states but honestly who visits Alabama or Louisiana for fun???? Anyways, we will just be passing through these states and spending the night in some of them. We will also be going through Texas which is not too bad I guess. I heard that Dallas is a pretty nice city so I will try to tell the family if we can spend the night there.

I think it will be nice to escape the trees and forest environment of Atlanta to go into Arizona’s desert for a few days…That is probably one reason why so many Iraqis live there, because it reminds them of their homeland…although to my knowledge we do not have 5-6 feet long cactuses in Iraq :)

It has been a while since my whole family took a trip together, which is one reason why I am looking forward to go on this adventure. I will post some pictures in my blog when I come back, and I will also possibly have a story or two to tell. I am not promising any pictures of their lizards though, which from what I heard are way too long to be called lizards anyways…I freak out at the first sign of anything that crawls, flies, or is not human for that matter; Iraqi insects have given me enough fright in my childhood to last me a lifetime! Sorry to all those insect lovers who were looking forward to seeing that lizard picture, hehehe.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Seeking Democracy or just Having it?

“Seeking is more fun than having” were the words said by James Wagner president of Emory University at my sister’s college graduation a few days ago. I got into thinking about these few words and how they relate to Iraq, since everything I hear these days I try to connect to Iraq somehow.

“Seeking is more fun than having”- how true are these words…think about freedom and Democracy, isn’t seeking freedom and Democracy way more “fun” and meaningful than having nothing else in your life other than freedom and Democracy? Sure it is much harder as well, but since when are easy things fun? Most people love challenges and in seeking there is a challenge involved, whereas there is no challenge in always having what you want. In addition, I think that by seeking and then obtaining something people will value that thing more than if they had it all their lives and took it for granted.

For example, let’s be hopeful and say that the current generation of Iraqis is successful in bringing Democracy and freedom to Iraq; the next generation of Iraqis will know nothing of the Saddam era other than stories they hear and lessons they get from their history class…they would be born and raised under Democracy and freedom and will know nothing else. Who do you think will treasure that Democracy more? I really believe that this generation of Iraqis will value it more seeing as they had to seek and fight for it....they did not just HAVE this future freedom but they worked hard for it and they will be reaping what they sow (again I must say hopefully).

With that said, I think that the current generation of Iraqis has a big burden on its shoulders (that is in addition to continuing the fight for Democracy). They have the responsibility of making sure that the next generation does not forget nor devalues what the Iraqi people had to endure to get their freedom. We have to make sure that they realize that our fight for the Democracy they will be enjoying was arduous, and that many people lost their lives in order for them to be enjoying that Democracy. We cannot say we do not want to depress them with such stories and that we fought to give them better lives and keep them away from all of that. Sure that is what we want to do, but we have to make them understand that the value of their good lives did not come easy. That way history does not repeat itself as they say.

I know I am thinking way into the future by saying this, and that we have too many current problems to be talking about and solving now before we talk about the future. However, I just feel that if and when what we dream of happens…the day when Iraq becomes a Democracy and freedom is granted for all…that our children or our children’s children do not enjoy it too much that they forget about the suffering we endured to give them the freedom they will hopefully be enjoying. We WANT them to have that freedom, but we also must make them appreciate its value!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Picture of the Year!

I was watching the news this morning over breakfast and could not help but start laughing when I saw Saddam’s picture in his underwear

then I heard the babble that the media was saying about this being against the Geneva convention etc. First of all, according to what I heard, Saddam is NOT being held as a prisoner of war (POW) so the Geneva Convention does not apply to him. Also, even if it was not right to publish such a picture no matter how bad and unhuman Saddam was (after all he still has human DNA whether we like it or not), yet like Ahmad from Iraqi Expat said it still made the Iraqis’ day.

An interesting thing I noticed though was that Saddam’s mustache and hair are pitch black again…hmmm, is it part of the Geneva convention to provide hair dyes to POWs now? Why in the world would they provide him with such a luxury as a hair dye? For some reason, I have a feeling that Saddam is not being treated the way a tyrant prisoner should be treated, and by that I mean that he is being treated BETTER than he deserves…way better, and the proof is in the hair dye!!!

Anyways, at least he is washing his own clothes now...I sometimes picture a caricature of Saddam sharing a jail cell with some of his top people like Izzat Al-Douri. I wonder if he would have ordered Izzat to wash his clothes for him, hehe:D. By the way, Izzat seems to still be on the run…wonder when they will catch him.

So, as unpleasant as this picture is to look at, it still made me laugh hard, and for that reason alone I am voting it “the picture of the year”!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Good News and not-so-good News

I read an article today from a website I found called and it stated that Saddam’s wife, Sajida Talfah, and two of Saddam’s daughters (Hala and Ragad) are planning on buying 55% of Al-Jazeera news channel’s stocks that will be introduced in the market for sale soon…why am I not surprised? It has been obvious all along that Al-Jazeera is working for Saddam’s thugs, and supporting the terrorists found worldwide specifically those in Iraq. In my opinion, the best decision was made when Al-Jazeera offices in Iraq were forced to close and their crew prohibited from working there for a period of 6 months I believe. Scums like Al-Jazeera should not be allowed to come into a country like Iraq trying to rebuild itself and stand on its feet, where all they do is hinder the democratic process with their filthy terroristic broadcasts. Anyways, what is interesting is that the stocks are estimated to value 180 million dollars! Look where Iraq’s and Iraqis’ stolen money is going? Oh how I wish someone would do something about it and retrieve the fortunes lost to the Ba’athists and other supporters of Saddam’s government…it is just not right for those criminals who have fled Iraq to be living lavish and luxurious lives with the money that is not theirs while Iraqis bleed, suffer, and struggle fighting this ghostly threat of terrorism they are facing in their daily lives.

I like to believe that justice always wins out over evil in the end; it might lose some battles to evil, but it always wins the war at the end. I don’t know if I just watch too many happy-ending movies (considering that I despise movies that don’t have happy-endings), or if this is a true conviction, but I sure hope that the story of Iraq will be a happy-ending movie and that the happy-ending will come soon.

The article also gave some promising statistics of the growing Iraqi Police Force, and since the article is in Arabic I will provide the statistics here for the non-Arabic readers:
**952 new officers graduated from Baghdad’s Police College recently, 19 of which are women who volunteered to work in the Iraqi Police Force.
**517 new officers graduated from Hilla’s Academy (sadly I don’t know Hilla’s location compared to Baghdad….can’t even tell you its direction-E, W, N, or S- so you can figure that out yourself I’m sure:))
**31,000 officers already in the Police Force just finished some fundamental training courses.

These statistics offer some hope and a proof to the fact that despite what seems to be like growing insurgency, there is also a growing Iraqi Police Force manned by loyal Iraqis who want to see Iraq like it was in the ancient days-the cradle of civilization, rather than the cot of death and wars…may God be with these true Iraqis as they step forward to restore the good old days of Iraq back to all the good Iraqi people!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

It's Mother's Day!!!

just wanted to wish all the mothers worldwide a very happy day...may all your days be spent in joy and peace with the people who love you the most-your families...we love you moms and please forget about houswork and other responsibilities for today and enjoy this special day-the day when the whole world celebrates YOU, the special flowers in our lives!!!


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Terrorists strike again killing Iraqi children

This is the face of what some are calling "occupation":

and the blood that stained this little kid's clothing and body was caused by what these same people are calling "resistance" and "loyalists"...

I think the picture says it all...apparently these damn terrorists are now regarding little innocent Iraqi children and Iraqi civilians as their favorite targets...what do they think they are accomplishing by this? do they think they will gain more people support this way? Frankly, I am just outraged at the moment.

Fox News reported that the terrorists decided to attack American troops in a place in Mosul where a bunch of little children where playing so inncoently and freely...they did not wait to have their supposedly American target in an isolated place or at least away from little children. The American soldier in the picture picked up the little kid hugging him/her like one of his own, and he and some other soldiers quickly transfered him/her to the nearest American hospital/base. unfortunately, the little kid did not make it and died on the way.

I heard this story ONLY on Fox News and as John Gibson from Fox's 'My Word' said: "I wonder if al-Jazeera (search) is going to run it? Wonder if the BBC is going to run it? Wonder if French TV is going to run it?" you might have guessed none of these channels mentioned anything about the story.

Who do you think Iraqis would support and prefer to have inside their country, the American "occupiers" who are helping their wounded and showing love and tenderness toward their children or the resistance fighters (AKA terrorists) who are killing their innocent children and family members without showing any remorse? I think the answer is pretty clear, and this child's mother would sure pick the American "occupiers" any day over the terrorists that destroyed her life and her took away her child's life (May God rest his/her soul and keep the rest of the Iraqi children and civilians away from the grip of these barbaric and heartless people).

UPDATE: 5/5/2005 @ 10:15PM

I just found a link to the blog of the journalist who took the photo through Fay's here to read the story he tells of the soldier and the attack.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Actions Speak Louder than Complains...Part I of the Women's Rights Series

The women’s rights movement has become a topic with increasing popularity in Middle Eastern countries in recent years. More and more women are speaking up and demanding equality with their male counterparts. So I wanted to right a post about women’s rights in the Middle East (ME) and the flaws that are associated with it, but my post was running really long. apparently, I have a lot to say about this topic, so I decided to turn it into a series instead with this post being the first part of it.
After seeing many ME women from family to friends to women I watch on TV, I have reached the conclusion that 50% of the blame, if not more, for the way women are treated in the ME lies on the women themselves! ME women are constantly accusing men and the male-dominated societies as being the sole reason for their oppression. These days, they go on protests when allowed, write, and try to make their voices heard in other ways. All this in an attempt to change the societies that have long been male-centered with the women treated more like property than as a human being let alone an equal. Good for them! These societies certainly need to be changed, and women definitely must become man’s equal, but these women’s rights ardent supporters as well as all ME women in general must understand that they need to cure themselves first before attempting to change society.
In my opinion, most ME women only complain and whine about the way they are treated without taking any actions. You see them complaining about the man not helping around the house or with the children, even with the fact that many women have an outside job these days just like the man. They complain about the husband being the one in control with his word being the final one around the house. The list of complains goes on and on, but what are the women doing about all this that they complain about? NOTHING!!! Complaining seems to be as far as they will go, then they relapse to their obedient good-wife/good-daughter selves that does not get them any further in their struggle.
Now, I am not saying that women should declare war against men; rather, they should find a peaceful solution to change themselves and their men through educated discussions. Usually such drastic changes in societies start with the educated class and then spread to include everyone; thus, I will be concentrating on the educated class more in my post.
First, women need to become stronger and more confident, and they must NOT fear the men in their lives whether husbands, fathers etc. Fearing the husbands and fathers has nothing to do with respecting them, so do not tell me you are doing such and such action and giving away your rights out of respect for them. You can be the most respectful wife or daughter without sacrificing your rights. Let me give you a personal example to demonstrate: my dad is one of the people that I have the utmost respect for in my life; my mom used to tell us that when dad expresses an opinion we are not to argue with him…excuse me??? That did not hold well with me or my siblings and we would tell her “mom we are just discussing stuff with dad, DISCUSSING…he is our father and we can tell him when we agree or disagree with him on certain topics”. Now, with dad being an open-minded person, and mom seeing our objections, she stopped telling us not to argue our case anymore! In addition, anyone who knows me well in person and knows my siblings recognizes how much we respect BOTH our parents. Hence, as I said, fear is not respect because a person can be respectful without being fearful.
Second, from my experience with ME families, I have seen so many mothers complain once their children grow up and start understanding the world, that they listen to their fathers more than listening to them (the mothers). That creates endless battles around the house with the mother yelling and saying that her word is also important, that she is their mother too and her word must be listened to just as much as their father etc. etc. etc. Well, excuse me all you ME mothers out there, but whose fault is this? Remember, when the kids were growing up and they would ask you for something that you do not want to make the decision about? What was your answer to them? “Go ask your father”…“we will see what your father says” etc. So, naturally these kids grow up believing that fathers have the better judgment and that they make the final decisions around the house.
You want to have your rights back? Start inside your house, and once you fix that then you can go out and demand that the government and society gives you equal rights with the man. When your kids come ask you something, do not weaken your position by telling them things like “I will ask your father first” or something to that extent. Even if you do not want to make the decision solely but want to share it with your husband, then that is OK just tell your kids “I will DISCUSS it with your father” or “I will think about it and let you know”. There are many ways that you can avoid making the decision yourself without appearing weak and dominated by your husband in front of your kids who will sadly grow up believing the same things unless you SHOW them (not just tell them) otherwise. In addition, do not just say it in front of the kids, but actually do what you say you will do. Do not just go up to your husband and ASK him if the kids can do such and such. You discuss it with him; if you both agree on one decision, then great! Problem solved easily. But if you disagree with him, then you both need to share your opinions with each other and say why you disagree until you reach a compromise rather than just going along with what he says. In fact, I believe that will help create further understanding between the two of you as husband and wife, and the husband will also see you more as an equal and partner rather than someone he can manage any way he wants to.
Episode 2 of “women’s rights” series coming soon to your nearest computer screen …

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Open Your Heart-Part 2

One night P1 waited for P2 to get home late at night and decided to give him a piece of his mind. He yelled at him and told him about everything he was feeling: about P2 not visiting him in the hospital, about not taking care of his mother, and his endless trips out of the country like he didn’t care about anything or anyone in the world but himself. He told P2 that he was selfish. Then, P1 topped it off and told P2 to get out of his house and go find his own way, because he was fed up with his irresponsibility.

Two months after that, P1’s mother asked him why he doesn’t call P2 and ask about him…he got in a hot argument with his mother asking why he should do such a thing after all he had seen from P2. Then his mother told him two shocking truths: 1. P2 was the “good Samaritan”!!! And 2. P2’s many trips out of the country were in search of the best places for cancer treatment because P2’s mother had cancer!!!

You can imagine how P1 felt at this point…he could not believe what he did to his beloved cousin who had done so much for him and the family without his knowledge. After that, P1 tried various ways to talk to his cousin who was hurt so deeply from P1 that he didn’t agree to talk to him despite P1’s many efforts and interventions by family members. So P1 was only left with the choice of bringing his cousin to the show and apologizing to him publicly and letting him know that he had no idea about any of the information that his mother told him.

When the cousin (P2) heard P1’s apology he was so sweet, and his eyes got teary…he kept telling P1 and the show’s host that the love he has for his cousin was so great and at one point he said that donating a kidney was easy because he had the other one to function with and that he is ready to donate his heart for his cousin if he needed it! P2 said how much he appreciated all that his cousin did for him, and that he was the man he was only because of his cousin. He also said that despite the fact that now he had everything and was successful in his business, but he still felt that his life was not complete, and that was because P1 was missing from his life.

Of course as you’ve probably guessed by now, P2 ordered the curtain open and the two hugged each other and started crying. P2 was so happy and kept saying that he doesn’t believe that they’re talking to each other again and that he missed him so much. It was just so incredibly moving, and when the two left the stage after thanking the show’s host, you could really see that P2 had really forgiven his older cousin P1 from the bottom of his heart. He was hugging him, and chatting and laughing happily like the most expensive treasure in the world was just presented to him. And maybe it was the biggest treasure for him! These two cousins reminded me how true selfless love and sacrifice for the people dear to our heart is supposed to be.

We all love certain people around us so much whether family or friends and cannot imagine life without them, but I wonder how many of us would donate a kidney to a loved one?

The world still has a lot of goodness left in it, and a lot of decent and forgiving people with big hearts are out there…I believe this is reason enough to remain hopeful, optimistic, and happy knowing that we are safe as long as such kind of people are out there!!! So, smile it is not all that bad:))

Friday, April 29, 2005

Open Your Heart-Part 1

There is a show on the Arabic satellite channel LBC called افتح قلبك or “open your heart” which I watch regularly. It is a show that teaches one of the greatest virtues of life, and that is forgiveness. The way the show works is that a person gets invited to the show by a mystery person, and the “mystery” person is usually either a friend or a relative who had done or said something against the invited person that caused a fight or tension between the two that ended in the two people not talking to each other…so the person invites his relative/friend to the show to apologize publicly in front of everyone and express how sorry he/she is for what they did. The two people with the conflict are seated at two different sides of the studio with a big white curtain separating the two sides. So, after the person hears the apology of the person who invited him/her via the television screens, he/she decides whether they want to forgive this person and thus ask for the curtain to be opened, or they can choose to keep their grudge and embarrass that person in front of millions of viewers and leave the show without the opening of the curtain. Now, I’ve only seen one or two people who choose the second option; most of the people choose to open the curtain and supposedly forgive their relative/friend.
However, when the two people leave the studio together I can tell the people who really forgave the person who invited them, and those who were just pretending in front of the cameras and wearing the “I am a forgiving person” mask. Some leave the studio with the two people walking one behind the other!!! Now if you have just forgiven someone you love so much and supposedly cleared everything up wouldn’t you at least walk NEXT to them if not be hugging them and holding on to them or something?
Anyways, the other day I was so touched by a story of two people and I was crying the whole time until they left the stage, and then I cried some more as I was recalling the story with my mom…yes it was that touching!!! Believe me you would have cried too if you had watched it, or your eyes would have gotten teary at least. I really wanted to share the story with everyone. These days, with all the destruction, violence, deaths, and other horrendous stories that we hear on a daily basis whether through the media or through stories by people, it makes us feel that there are no good, humane, kind, and compassionate people left in the world who love others (even relatives) without getting something out of the relationship. But that is not true; rest assured that these people still exist, and they are probably many in numbers too; it’s just that we seem to be intrigued more by bad and gloomy stories than ones that show human kindness. Now after you hear this story you tell me which is better, hearing such an inspiring story or hearing about death and destruction?
So without further ado here is the story:
*person 1 (P1): the person who invited his cousin to apologize
*person 2 (P2): the invited younger cousin
P1 started telling the story of how he was the oldest son of his family, and when his father died he became responsible for providing for all of his family while he was still at a fairly young age. After a few years, his uncle died too (P2’s father), and since his cousin was the oldest of his family too but was still very young, P1 took him to his house and raised him as if he was his younger brother. He taught him everything about life and most of all taught him about the business world. P2 grew up and started working and providing for his family. Then P1 found out that he was sick…one of his kidneys had completely stopped working while the other one was in a really bad shape but still functioning to a limited extent. He needed a kidney donor and fast…all of his immediate family tested but they found no matche. He didn’t tell his cousin, because he loved him so much that he didn’t want him to donate one of his kidneys even if they were a match.
One day the hospital called and told P1 that a “good Samaritan” had donated a kidney for him…when P1 inquired about whom it was, they didn’t tell him. He had his surgery and he said that he had expected his cousin P2 to be the first person he sees when he opened his eyes in the hospital because that is how close they were to each other. However, he stayed a whole month in the hospital with no sign of P2; he didn’t visit him or call him. P1 asked family members about P2’s whereabouts and every time they would tell him something like he is on a trip out of the country etc. P1 left the hospital and returned home but did not see his cousin for a whole week after that even though they were living in the same house…again, family members kept providing excuses for P2. At this time P2’s mother was sick and her health deteriorating, which further infuriated P1, and he could not figure out how the sweet boy that he knew (P2) could ignore his own mother in such a way, and change so suddenly.

Hmmm…you think you’re getting it yet?

Part 2-Coming Soon…

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Prejudice is in All of Us...But What are You Doing About It?

I am willing to bet my life on it that there is not a single person in this world who has not said a racist comment at least once no matter how small the comment might have been. Even those people who are leaders in the fight against discrimination and prejudice have probably whispered some kind of a racist remark against a specific group of people at some point in their lives…perhaps, when they were in their homes behind closed doors when they are sure no one will hear them except for the people closest to them; or even if they did not say it out loud in front of anyone, they have probably thought it out loud when they were alone.
Of course, there are varying degrees to racism. No one dares say the above mentioned leaders or people who are like them are racists, because obviously their actions show otherwise. However, one must come to the understanding that it is human nature to see the differences in others…oh that person is black, Muslim, American, Arab, Mexican, Catholic etc. the list goes on and on and we’re constantly passing judgments on others…so many racist and discriminatory comments play in our heads whether we admit it or not, and whether we actually express these thoughts or not, they are still there….but we have to draw the line somewhere, and we have to do something about it….
First, we must realize after saying such a comment that it was a bad remark and probably not true of the person we said it of; admitting a fault is the first step towards a solution.
Second, after admitting the wrong comment a person must work on him/herself so that such comments never slip out anymore out of no where…and I don’t mean working on hiding what one is thinking, but rather working on cleansing oneself from such negative perceptions about other people.
Finally, and most important, people must judge each person according to his/her actions, attitudes, and character, and avoid making generalizations about a whole group of people…don’t lump all the people of a certain ethnicity, religion, nationality etc. into a big pile and attribute to them certain negative characteristics or actions because that is just wrong….if you want proof that it is wrong, then do a study on a group of people from a particular nationality, religion, or ethnicity, but on the condition that you must study EVERY SINGLE PERSON that belongs to that group (scientifically impossible of course) and see if all the characteristics you thought were present in that group were actually present in EVERY individual in the group…of course, you will definitely find that is not the case! Certainly there are groups of people where the majority of individuals exhibit certain characteristics that you perceive as negative, but then how do you know the person that is in front of you who belongs to that group is not among the minority in that group in terms of his/her actions….the answer is that you do NOT know until you learn more about that INDIVIDUAL and only then can you go ahead and judge him or her.
Also, what we may perceive as a “negative” characteristic may be seen by others as something good or part of their culture and traditions which they value more than anything else! Plus, who are we to judge others? What makes us better than the seemingly “different other” whom we are judging? I personally believe we can judge someone based on his/her actions in life rather than what group they belong to…when we do that, we find that we are closer to some people in our thinking and views than we might have imagined!
Thus, let’s first realize that some racist feelings/comments are part of our nature as humans, but let’s also work against this “negative” aspect of our nature…In the end, it will only make us better humans!!!
Don’t delay, start today…think about a racist remark you’ve made or thought of about any specific group of people…then work on yourself first to delete such kind of thinking from your personality, and try to help those around you change their thinking and attitudes of others and get over their prejudices…I chose to start with my family first, we’ll see how that goes…hehe:))