Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Another Planet Earth

While I was driving to work early this morning, I heard on the radio that European astronomers announced today the discovery of a new planet more than 60 trillion miles from earth orbiting outside our solar system. The significance of that discovery is their assumption is that this planet has the most suitable conditions for supporting human, with temperature lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius – theoretically, this also indicates the existence of water in liquid forms on it. Its radius is 1.5 times the radius of our planet Earth, and has a mass five times the mass of earth, which scientists predict that this planet is either covered with rocks or with oceans.

Later in the day I opened alarabiya news channel website to read the news, and the same news about the discovery of the new planet was there. The interesting part about this news is people’s comments. Some were skeptical about the existence of life outside planet Earth. However, almost half of the comments took a religious course regarding the subject: many praised God and the creation of the universe, some backed up this discovery with verses from the Quran and some disapproved it using the same in regards to the existence or non-existence of extra-terrestrial life. There were some obscured comments, such as that of someone who wrote “God gave us another chance [with this discovery] to live together, Arabs and Jews on it”. Other comments emphasized that this discovery is the sign for the re-appearance of the Imam Mahdi, and the approach to the moment at the end of time!

Others, many others, were sad and wrote about how Europe and the west in general became advanced with their technology in which wonderful discoveries like this are made, while Arabs nowadays are still behind and plagued with dictatorships, ignorance, poverty, extremism, corruption, agony, wars… etc In fact, many of the readers pleaded to alarabiya website to put more news about science and technology so people can learn and get more educated from it. There are some who expressed their grief for the future of the new discovered planet because “we humans will turn that planet into a play-field for evil and bloodshed”. It is very interesting that some of the readers already predict a universal war that will wipe out human race entirely and that “the new planet is too far, until the time we discover ways to travel there, the ‘war’ will be already took place”!!!

One reader regarded the newly discovered planet as the ultimate alternative for our current planet, especially with the increasing danger of global warming and what might result from it in the future.

Other readers suggested sending all extremists to live on that planet and “let us here to live in peace” – or the opposite for others who recommended full immigration of human race except for extremists and fundamentalists to do what they like to do most!!

Not all comments were that serious or darkly-viewed; there are comments that showed sarcasm, humor and ambition in some cases, such Azzoz who prayed to God that the planet has its own inhabitants who can play football in order for us to arrange with them football tournaments called “Football League of the Planets”. An Iraqi reader wrote that the discovery is a problem, big problem if people leave earth for the new planet, because “we won’t be able to sell our oil to anyone, we won’t be able to get medicine, electricity…etc” and for that reason he “decided to buy a camel, before camel crisis happen”.

Some guy with the name of Ahmed asked if there is Khat (or Qat) on that planet, and if not, then he is not willing to go!!

Another guy asked if he is allowed to live on that planet, but has one condition: He doesn’t want the following to live there: neither Bush nor Blair… neither Arabs nor Jews, no republic or monarch state systems, no thieves or drugs… but he was wondering if a peace of land there is cheap or not! Speaking of Bush, one warned that this planet is now doomed, because Bush will sooner or later lead a campaign to bring democracy there! But he showed some sympathy for the American president by “hoping that oil is can also be discovered there, so Bush won’t be disappointed and take that long trip for nothing”. Yasmin said that she wants to have her honeymoon there, while Blend did some mathematics by writing “the planet is huge, so buying a piece of land and building a house will be very cheap, but due to its massive gravity, the planet is not for fat people, because someone with 100kg on earth will be 220kg on the new planet”.

Another Iraqi asked if there is a place on that planet for 27 million of his fellow men and women!

Finally, there were many praises by alarabiya readers for the Egyptian singer, Midhet Salih, because he was the one who wrote a song predicting the existence of another planet and that he wants to live on it.

For those who can read Arabic, the link to the article is here

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Last King of Scotland

The movie is inspired by true historical events, however some of the characters shown on the movie, such as Dr. Garrigan, are fictious. In addition, the movie is very different from the book – didn’t ruin the story, though! The movie, as many already seen and read previews is about the Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin (1925-2003) from the day he took power in 1970 until 1976 when the Entebbe hijacking event took place. Forest Whitaker, who plays Amin in the movie, deserves a big salute for that role. He received considerable critical acclaim, winning the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and the BAFTA Award, for best actor in addition to awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review and many other critics awards. The film further received BAFTA awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best British Film, in addition to receiving nominations for Best Supporting Actor, James McAvoy (who played the role of Dr. Garrigan) and Best Film.

Anyone familiar with the history of Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin might notice how events were chronically smartly put in a very fast pace. In fact, the whole movie from the beginning till the end does not give a chance for the viewer to take a breath, because of its fast rhythm and suspense in the 121 minutes of its total running time. However, even for those who are not familiar with Uganda and its history, the movie is regarded as an educative show about that African country and how it has been ruled in early 1970s.

One of the nicest things about the movie is the way it has been filmed. I believe that the director of the film wanted it to be like a documentary. In addition, the colors, techniques and methods used in making this movie gave the impression that the movie was made during the 1970s and not in 2006. It was not meant to be filmed as a typical Hollywood movie (actually the movie is British) where many fixed cameras shooting from different angels, or using other advanced technology in today's movie making. Throughout the movie, I wondered if they only used one camera (or merely two) on certain scenes! On many scenes throughout the movie, the camera suddenly jerks off from the main frame of that scene, became blurring for a second then zoomed onto a sort of symbolic gesture or a movement, such as a finger pointing into a direction, or a hand resting on a shoulder, and with a semi-shaky movement, the camera settles on that close up and remains focus that way until the end of the scene! There is an empahzise on many parts of the movie on body movement, or shall I say body language, rather than relying on the dialogue or action scenes.

It really gave extra pleasure and joy watching the movie that way.

The movie also showed the development of the other main character beside Amin; Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, who was intentionally (or not!) has been transformed from a simple (or shall I say reckless) adventurous type of person, who is always walking with a big charming smile on his face, a womanizer who’s sexual lust did not have any moral or ethical drawback. This young physician was transformed chaotically into a political tool within the Ugandan political system.

After watching the movie, I began to have doubts if all third world leaders have copied their Curriculum Vitae from each other, especially when representing themselves as revolutionary; have similar background by coming from families suffered poor economic situation; and most of them were enrolled into the military academy; promise their people prosperity in the early days of taking power, but show the contrast in later years…etc All dictators seems to follow the same trends and course in their rule. While watching the movie and after it ended I couldn’t stop thinking how many similarities are there between Idi Amin and Saddam Hussain; his feeling of mistrust towards anyone and everyone, and that mindset that “everyone wants to kill me” type of thing. Amin’s ego is also very clearly and perfectly seen in the movie; of regarding himself as the symbol of Uganda, which means that if a person does not love Idi Amin, then that person doesn’t love Uganda (this would regard that person an enemy of Uganda and deserve to die). There are other similarities such as the recruitment of doubles, and not to forget the brutality where thousands and thousands of people from all different sectors of life applied to by this regime.

Here is another link, to the Wikipedia article about the movie. It contains spoliers so it will be more enjoyable if you read it after watching the movie.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Divide People With Walls and Bloodshed

Sectarian violence have eaten up Iraqi society, which led to hatred feeding people hearts in the same neighborhood. This is how it started. It led some blinded minds and hearts men to initiate a campaign of deportation on every alley, neighborhood, village and city as a whole.

Innocents are dying either by masked men, or bombs, or on their way to a safe haven…etc
A new map is in the making, pulled its basis from concepts such as: who do you belong to… which group or person you are loyal to… it does it matter where you live or who are you acquainted with… etc The result, innocents follow the rest in an exodus in all direction, inside and outside the country

Instead of bringing people together, healing the wounds of the past, and to strengthen loyalty for the nation.

The new map is taking its shape, attempts to blow bridges, houses have been sold to strangers, factious construction and re-construction companies own by war lords are gaining more basis and more money… finally neighborhoods are now separated by a wall! Like ‘al Adhamiyah great wall’, as the Americans call it, a 3 miles long concrete wall have been built around it, which took 10 days until now and will continue till the end of the month, and God knows how much it cost – instead of spending that money on services for the people.

This is not the end, it is the beginning!

Instead of finding a solution for the problem of million of Iraqis shattered in different countries, again countries representatives meet somewhere and decided to deal with the issue with another wrong approach: allowing countries to receive Iraqis on their lands as refugees and give aid of millions of dollars to them! Why? Is it Iraq became so useless to find a solution inside the country? why do I have to bring families who used to live all their lives among their neighbors and loved ones to another country and let them began their lives from zero? Shouldn’t the solution be searched for inside Iraq? Forget about the invaders and their effort to restore order, why don’t we all Iraqis come together as one, reject the building of such a wall, let the whole world knows that we are one, we don’t want to be isolated in blocks, because we used to live with each other without walls or barriers.
Once, one of my fellow bloggers said that we need miracle! Is it became that impossible for good and honest people to raise their hands and prevent things from becoming worse? It will not need a miracle… the situation will explode, sooner or later, but only god knows how devastating the impact of such an explosion will be!

Million of Iraqis were happy that Saddam finally gone – some could not believe that they would witness such a day, but it took place, but the whole thing was based on wrong action, and when an action is taken based on wrong basis, then nothing or no one will be able to amend the situation and make things right. This is logical, but what really makes me sad is the fact that no one is recognizing and admitting that he or she is wrong…

And the killing machine keep on rolling!

Condoleeza rice was right when she said that we are witnessing the “birth pangs of a new middle east”! You are right, Condi, it is obvious, it began from Iraq, when the flags of Kurdistan replacing Iraq’s flag on every official building in Sulaimaniyah and Arbil, or from the calls of Abdel Aziz Al Hakeem to implement the federation and feeding up separation principle with such calls, or from those who want to establish an Islamic Nation of Iraq in the middle of the country

In either case, the building of the wall, which I am sure it will follow suite in other neighborhoods in Baghdad will only means one thing; the security plan for Baghdad failed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Truck Bomb on Al Sarrafiyah Bridge

I ask the same question Zyad put on his blog: whyyyy??

What is the significance of blowing out a bridge like that, and during rush hour? what kind of a threat such a bridge can make? Al Sarrafiya Bridge is neither a military location nor used by the military. It is just a normal bridge that people can go from the west side of Baghdad to the east side, on car or on foot. Nothing more, nothing less!

From the impact of the explosion, and from the pictures, the bridge was cut a big peace in the middle which plunged into the river, as if two explosions took place and not only one on either side!!! I am still wondering if a truck explosion can cause such damage!! There were attempts to blow up this bridge in particular in the past, ; one was last year in August when a suicide bomber ignited himself in the middle of a bus killing tens of people. Another time when explosives were found hidden ready to set off and blow up everything around it...etc In either way, it looks like these attempts were continuously targeting the bridge and the people using that bridge, but where is security from all this? I keep on asking this question: How can someone let a truck pass by checkpoints and go through into the bridge?

God damn anyone who tries to wipe out Baghdad’s identity. The genocide process by those criminals is reaching the heritage of Baghdad. That bridge is one of oldest heritage, whether built by an occupier or by Iraqis themselves, it is part of our heritage and one of the main landmarks Baghdad was famous for.

Why this madness? And why no one is condemning these acts?? Look at Algeria and Morocco and what’s happening there: everyone call it terrorism, is Iraqi blood that cheap?? Is Iraq that cheap in the eyes of the rest of the world?

UPDATE: In memory of Al Sarrafiyah Bridge

Monday, April 09, 2007

British Navy Released

When we were kids we used to have a problem with one or two from the whole group, who used to break the rules of the game and almost a quarrel, takes place between the group and those boys because of this. We spend a lot of time trying to convince them, with no success. No one agree with their objections and as a result the group refuses to play with them. After a little time, those one or two boys or girls realize the situation and decide to get back to the group, follow the same rules, and play wonderfully with the rest of the group.

After the end of the game and before we say good bye to each other, the same "rebellious" kids stand a distance away from the group, they start making funny faces with tongues out and fingers making signs of sarcasm towards us. They say, among many things:”We are not with you” or “you are not good”, “your rules are not right and we want these rules and the way the game played to be changed”. We look in amazement at each other, because the same thing happened before and it happens again: the kids get themselves in trouble, no one want to play with them, after a while they come and say we were right and they were wrong, and at the end of the game they start shouting, complaining and protesting!

I am not a fan of the regime in Iran, neither I want to defend them by any means, but the way the released British navy soldiers came out on TV yesterday on a press conference with the allegations of Iranians mistreated them, Iranians forced them to say this and that... all that is just hilarious and extremely lame. One day only after their release, they even didn't have enough time to get their breath back from the long trip – it looks like military intelligence debriefing did not last long this time with regards to inquiries and information gathering from the released soldiers about the Iranians! However, one day, and they just come out, all look healthy, no bruises, and no shock in their eyes from the mistreatment by the Iranians, with papers in their hands, in front of the joyful press, they sit and tell their story!!

In the meantime and almost three weeks after the capture, the US government kept on watching the situation quietly, of course there was the condemnation part took place, but suddenly they broke that silence with the announcement that the British navy was on petrol to prevent weapons smugglers when they were captured by the Iranians! Funny that we didn't hear that from the British themselves!

But wait a second, where is the Iraqi government from all this? I thought that Iraqi navy has been restored and they are doing the "stop weapons smugglers" task! Ah, I forgot, the agreement is that coalition forces are responsible for restoring peace and order, while the government focuses on provides services and reconstruction efforts around the whole country!
Another comedy scene is the announcement of releasing the soldiers: The Iranian president comes out on a press conference, talk about everything and anything from politics to religion to what else and suddenly before the end of his speech he says that the 15 men will be released as a gift to the British people!!

I am not going to argue about whether they were on Iraqi or Iranian sea territories, but I also find it a bit hard to believe that a British military analyst comes on TV and explains that the sea border between the two countries is not clear and difficult to be identified! Hey! The 8 years war between Iraq and Iran because of that damn sea border (among other things), and the first thing Iraq and Iran agreed upon was where these sea territories for each country lay!!

Iran played it right this time and they had a double winning position: when they captured the soldiers and when they released them. Many political and military analysts confirmed that Iran was in control of the situation from the beginning throughout until the end. I think it is for that reason, the joyful press conference yesterday and the story telling of abuse and mistreatment came altogether at once!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sabbath Between Heaven & Hell

Regular readers of my blog realised by now that my favorite guitarist is Tony Iommi, so this is worth writing for!

I am talking about the reunion of original band members of Black Sabbath during the Dio years; this is in between 1980 to 1983 and they reunited for one album and a tour in 1992. This time the reunion of Tony Iommi (Guitars), Ronnie James Dio (Vocals), Geezer Butler (Bass) and Vinnie Appice (Drums) took place to go for a world wide tour in support for the latest release called Black Sabbath: The Dio Years. Some might say that this is another greatest hits album, not entirely, because the album also contains three newly recorded songs by the band, three killer songs:
1. Neon Knights 2. Lady Evil 3. Heaven And Hell 4. Die Young 5. Lonely Is The Word 6. The Mob Rules 7. Turn Up The Night 8. Voodoo 9. Falling Off The Edge Of The World 10. After All (The Dead) 11. TV Crimes 12. I 13. Children Of The Sea (Live) 14. The Devil Cried (New recorded song) 15. Shadow Of The Wind (New recorded song) 16. Ear In The Wall (New recorded song)

However, the band is not touring under the name Black Sabbath, because first line-up of the band (with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals) did not disband in the first place, so the band choose the name Heaven and Hell, from the title of the first ever Sabbath album with Dio, released in 1980.

This is a commercial from announcing the Canadian tour of Heaven and Hell

The line-up with Iommi and Dio in Black Sabbath is very special, not that I don't love ozzy-era, I love all Black Sabbath albums and line-ups with no exception, but the first time and the first album I heard of Black Sabbath was Heaven and Hell and that album was the one of the main reasons I got hooked up to heavy metal in the first place.

I can't wait for the upcoming live CD and DVD of that tour, will come out later this year.

I am posting below a number of videos of songs and other stuff, which I found on You Tube related to this tour and band:

After all (the Dead)

Ear In The Wall

Ear In The Wall (Video Clip)

Die Young

Fallen Of The Edge Of The World

Interview with Ronnie James Dio

The Devil Cried

Another After Dead video captured

Mob Rules

Children of the Sea

Shadow of the Wind

Neon Knights p1

Neon Knights p2

Computer God

Tony Iommi Solo

Sign of the Southern Cross


Appice Drum solo

More information on the band can be found on Black Sabbath Online website. It is the ultimate source for anything related to Black Sabbath, greatest site. It also includes photos of the recent tour and updated information from Joe Siegler, the man behind this massive effort.