Jordan of Hussein Part 1

This was something I wrote a few years back, I will shamelessly plug it in here:

As a young Jordanian living in Toronto, Canada, the most multicultural city in the world, the question of background was comfortably dropped. My response was almost always: "Jordan, you know, the country of King Hussein". That second part always seemed necessary for identifying the country, it also provoked –more often than I anticipated- a knowing smile. As if trying to convey the message that the late king was more popular in, and respected by, more people in the world than any other character of this era.

Before you think this writing is written to the glorification of Hussein of Jordan, well, just wait till I get to his downs, but first, think about the attendees of his funeral, an event that went down in the history books next to the funerals of Charles de Gaulle and Tito. That was owed to not only the number of delegations present, but also to the fact of their political diversity.

Only Hussein's funeral could have managed to bring the US President Bill Clinton and Colonel Qadaffi's son together, President Hafez Al Asad of Syria and Hamas militant group representatives were set side by side with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with three Israeli delegations, Jordan was a recent peace ally and a very welcoming ground to Israeli business and politics.

To situate dignitaries from the US Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush with Tony Blair of the UK and other symbols of western democracy together with leaders of radical Arab and Muslim states was unheard of. That was just what he was famous for, even after he lost his battle with cancer.

That was one of the few battle he lost in his lifetime, always able to get the best out of every situation. He was always labeled as a pragmatic leader and yet still had the respect of being able to do so very prudently. He did create a state out of barren Jordan and did put it on the map.

While in 1950, water, sanitation, and electricity were available to only 10% of Jordanians, today these reach 99% of the population. In 1960 only 33% of Jordanians were literate, in 2003, this number climbed to 91.3%. In 1961, the average Jordanian received a daily intake of 2198 calories, and by 1992, this figure had increased by 37.5% to reach 3022 calories. UNICEF statistics show that between 1981 and 1991, Jordan achieved the world's fastest annual rate of decline in infant mortality—from 70 deaths per 1000 births in 1981 to 37 per 1000 in 1991, a fall of over 47%. King Hussein always believed that Jordan's people are its biggest asset, and he continued to encourage all—including the less fortunate, the disabled and the orphaned—to achieve more for themselves and their country.

That still doesn't get me to the point of interest; I wanted to show that a man like that was nothing but raw leader. He knew the right step to take every time and so caused Jordan to be the model state in the region. With the highest civil liberties "ceiling" amongst its neighbors, the highest literacy rate in the Arab world and the longest standing form of government in the region. He was responsible for 47 years of that.


The hottest chick

Have you watched Honey and felt like you love Hip-Hop, or related for the first time with spoiled and annoying popular crowd in Never Been Kissed, maybe you even went to watch Sin City in the cinema knowing full well that you hat Frank Miller or maybe even all Comics.

I know I was turned into a geek, when I watching a little show called Dark Angel, it is all because of this young woman who turns 26 today. Happy Birthday. She has us all burning because she won't do a nude scene in any movie, still she is AskMen.com’s Most Desirable Woman of 2006, just to show that men appreciate hot modest chicks, who occasionally kick ass, and are not afraid to show their scantly-clad figures.



One good definition of Terrorism is the indiscriminate targeting of civilians to achieve political ends, whether it is conducted by states, individuals or groups, it is still terrorism. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami agreed with it, I agree with it and I believe it is clear enough.

No state or group should be allowed to use terrorism in any other sense, if it is targeting men (or women) in uniform, then it is not terrorism, if it targeting militias or fighting factions then it is not terrorism.

From Wikipedia:
Edward Peck, former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq and ambassador to Mauritania:

In 1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us — this is a Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism; I was the Deputy Director of the working group — they asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities. […] After the task force concluded its work, Congress got into it, and you can google into U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331, and read the U.S. definition of terrorism. And one of them in here says — one of the terms, “international terrorism,” means “activities that,” I quote, “appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.” […] Yes, well, certainly, you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them. Israel is another. And so, the terrorist, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.

The British Terrorism Act 2000 defines terrorism so as to include not only violent offences against persons and physical damage to property, but also acts "designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system".This latter consideration would include shutting down a website whose views one dislikes. However this, and any of the other acts covered by the definition would also need to be (a) designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, AND (b)be done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.[the latter three terms are not defined in the Act]

So basically under the British definition some psycho can blow up a bus full of children, just for the fun of it and he wouldn't be a terrorist, but if someone hacks into a site that has a bad word about his religion (which I agree is wrong but come on) he would be terrorist.

Short legal definition proposed by A. P. Schmid to United Nations Crime Branch (1992):

Act of Terrorism = Peacetime Equivalent of War Crime

This last definition seems to me to be the best I could find, and therefore should be satisfactory until my brain finds something wrong with it.


Terrorism or Lawful Warfare

I have been contemplating a thought about "terrorists" and "freedom fighters", I read slightly up on the topic and still could not get to a definition that satisfied me and the accurately categorises what is present in our region.

I might go on a limb here but I will be working towards a personal definition using what data I can collect and to have the definitions legal under the Geneva conventions and the many international accords I saw about this, I will also look at the modern US definitions of "unlawful combatants" and try to point out where they are flawed in my opinion.

My every-8-day update, I lost two pounds this week, but it was because of certain unhealthy foods and because I didn't keep a close eye, yet, I still lost what is thought by many dietitians to be the safe amount for continued weight loss.


Andy Rooney

A man of 88 years, he is hilarious, he makes me watch 60 minutes till the very end to see what he is going to be talking about next, he started with 60 minutes when he was 60 and he makes me laugh almost every week.

I don't think he should retire because of his old age, I am a pilot and I understand that 60 is almost a magical number, but in journalism and commentary, it is common sense to keep the people with
the most experience, even if they do sound like you grandfather.


Jordan goes nuclear

Just search Google for "water impoverished" and the first entry will be about Jordan, we are one of the ten most water impoverished countries in the world. It seems about right, at least to me. When I searched for cancer rates in Jordan, I found out that our rates are lower than the west, and are comparable to non-Jewish populations of Israel, with the Jewish population being slightly higher.

Many people claim that Jordan has one of the highest cancer rates in the world, it is simply not true, although lung cancer is higher because of higher smoking rates and less emission standards. Still we have the highest Life expectancy at birth in the Arab world. I am, however, not excited. Jordan plans on acquiring nuclear power for peaceful uses.

The most important uses will be, water and electric power generation. We need it for both, since 95% of our power needs are imported. The Uranium reserves in Jordan are high and the expertise in the field locally are acceptable.

I however can't seem to understand why I am troubled by this Idea, although I have spoken for it in the past and all the way until last year. It is definitely going to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and our Carbon emissions.

Jordan will not be told to open up like Iran, we started with the blessings of the US and the IAEA, we will never face any threats because of it, and we can probably sell electricity to Iraq and continue on our age old tradition of exporting expertise.

The money spent isn't what bothers me either, our budget is sucked up by demand on foreign oil and the ever increasing prices, while our we could potentially export Uranium in the future. Still I can't seem to put my finger on it, I am bugged by the idea.

I was probably hoping for windmill farms and solar fields for generation of electricity, yet still I am contended that we can't afford such a costly venture. My major source of concern is the following:

1-Chernobyl-like accidents: we all know that Jordan has impeccable adherence to standards in it's big ventures. Royal Jordanian boasts a 28 year fatality-injury free record. Still one mistake in our nuclear power plant will cause consequences we can't afford.

2-Testing and control: Since this seems to be a government-run project, I don't see it being as controlled and inspected as the private-run ones we are comparing to abroad when we discuss this. This can obviously lead us to no.1 above

3-Decommissioning a nuclear power station at the end of its useful life is very difficult and expensive.

4-Most importantly, in the Middle East, any war time attack of a facility like this will would produce a huge amount of radioactive contamination. It will be tempting to the terrorists who already roam aimlessly in our region.


A world without America

I googled "A world without America" and I might say it is not what I expected, I thought the leftists, the libertarians, and the political minds of the world would probably get the first hit. I mean, it did seem that way to me.

I found this video which seemed to imply that the Russians would win WWII and therefore "liberate Paris", that polio would not have a cure or a vaccine by 1969 and that Israel would not find support in staying in the Middle East and that by 1979 it would be wiped out and refugees will be sent to the seas. Saddam would be a tyrant, still holding Kuwait and holding nuclear weapons. It also claimed that the world would be poorer, less advanced and less educated.

It seems that their claims are irrefutable at first-site. Russia did win World War II and their Armies where about to catch Nazi Hitler. But the UK would have intervened and with their and the French's Empire, (remmember De Gaulle was based in Algiers from 1942) would have not sit idly.

Polio like any illness is bound to have found vaccine, just like Insulin was discovered in Canada, and just like the first organ transplant was done in South Africa. Israel was almost founded by the Balfour declaration which was drafted by Arthur Balfour, who was the Foreign Minister at the time and his Grandchildren still are Earls of Balfour. The Soviet Union recognized Israel just as soon as it was Declared a state, and would probably have rather have it as a satellite or ally because it was very skillfully managed. It's all political. I support your friends' enemies and you support my friends' enemies.

Saddam was a military man who rose in the ranks of the Baath again supported by Britian, where it not for the French fear of King Faisal and the British support of Baath, Saddam would not have been able to continue, also, the US supported Saddam in his war against Iran and therefore if the US was not there the world might have to deal with an Islamic empire, or wait, maybe the Shahanshah wouldn't have been ousted by Khomeini. It is too hard to tell because the CIA was involved in many programs.

Money is produced as a direct result of human effort, which would still be here without the US, and since a big chunk is concentrated in the US, the world would probably be richer since the money would be spread over many people.


Conscription in Jordan

I know that the government sent up legislation to the parliament and rumour has it that it will be passed unamended allowing the military to set their own terms.

I am ticked off at the government's decision of reinstating the subscription in the military and for more than personal reasons:

1- They intend to allow the military to conscript young men with no age limit and no TIME limit (back to the 2 year limit, which is just awful)
2- People will be paid little or close-to-no money to serve, which can put a huge strain on the struggling middle class of Jordan who expect their children to help with the income.
3-The allocation of resources for such a program will put another burden on the shoulder of tax-payers, while it is hardly needed.
4- There is no provision in the law that allows conscientious objectors to have an exception. I refuse to be forced to learn how to handle weaponry and to be forced to fire them.
5- This is almost like using slave labouring, I am a pilot and unless they can offer me a job in my field of choice, I will not succumb.

I do understand that the government plans to train them in vocational courses, but that hardly has to be mandatory, many will tell you that government supplied education in the schools is far below acceptable standards and I do not think they will be providing me the top training available which I have sacrified a whole lot to earn.

I think every Jordanian in a time of peace has the choice to not learn weaponry, to work for minimum at least wage and especially in government establishments, and to choose a work field. Basic human freedoms are being breached here.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights states clearly

Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, ...

I would love to see the military officials in Jordan explain this, since they seem to be focusing on projecting it as no longer conscription but as "work training and assistance", albeit forced training and assistance.

On a different note, I am very happy to announce that I lost 14 pounds in the last eight days, which is some sort of record, at least for me, with this current rate, I will loose my target of 64 pounds in no time (which I highly doubt).


Lunar phases and eclipses

For some unclear reason I felt that I knew what I was talking about when it came to the galaxy, but that day I was shocked to realise that not only I knew absolutely nothing when it came to the moon, I realised that I had got it all wrong back in school where I was a model student.

Allow me here to blame the teacher who made me think that the moon looks different depending where you look at it from, I know it doesn't make sense, but in the back of my mind I always thought it true.

The image above is for a moon in "middle totality", which happened on a total eclipse of the moon, which happened on the evening of 2004 October 27-28. This is probably what I was thinking about, Lunar eclipses which can be seen only on specific areas of the earth.

However, I thought it also meant that moon was lit differently according to where you are, it turns out I was wrong. Ah, well, at least now, I know better.


Weight Loss and me

I read something wrote in 1999 at salon, it is the most hilarious, satirical -I hope- piece of writing I read in a while, and its has some -although twisted- truth to it, it also made me think of why exactly am I trying to lose weight.

I am trying to lose the weight because I have a pair of jeans that won't fit me, I am trying to lose weight because I want to be able to walk without my right knee bugging me, and I trying to lose weight because I want to able to play sports against my kids and beat them. All the reasons most people have but one more. I am trying to lose the weight because I want to beat the odds, this is one thing from my father that I don't want to copy. He died at 49 of a brain stroke, he had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Everyone who tells me I remind them of my father or that I look like him makes me so happy. I also fear of leading an unhealthy life. 49 is just too young, I plan to retire at 50 and then do all the things I love.

I am very good at motivating myself and I hope that I will be able to keep going at my plans and maybe one day I will be able to quit smoking, but for now, I quit quitting. One task at a time.


Free Medical Care for all

I believe at one point here in Jordan the government started an initiative to give free health care to all children under the age of 5, and that every year the age will be increased, resulting in a generation growing up with free health-care. That was a very commendable initiative and idea, but obviously as with many of the social programs, it went down the drain.

Currently, around 25 per cent of Jordan's 5 million population are insured with the Health Ministry, another 5 per cent are considered impoverished and are treated free of charge, 32 per cent are covered by the Royal Medical Services of the Jordan Armed Forces, and another 12 per cent are covered by private sector insurance plans, leaving around 25 per cent of the population without medical insurance coverage.

Now for Jordan the transition is easy to free health care for all. My suggestion is, collective collaboration, the 62% who are insured by the government either as civil servants or as military personnel are obviously a burden to the system, not to mention the impoverished. Therefore it would seem prudent that the government would try to cut down the cost. Obviously the government agrees that privatization is a good step, but it can't sell the idea of privatizing public hospitals to the public. The solution seems to be this:

Create a governing board for for each of the hospitals with the intention and will of making it a government owned company in the process of financial and managerial independence from the ministry of health. Basically, let the hospital compete with each other, in the process, the quality of health care shall improve dramatically.

Thereafter, we should calculate the average cost of insuring the 62% of the people and allow the private insurance companies to bid at insuring those citizens with equal or better health care. This way, the bureaucracy of the government is avoided and the lean capitalistic machine is set in motion.

In a country like Jordan this is easily applicable, the hospitals will provide better care to reel in the patients and the insurance companies will try to outbid each other therefore lowering the cost to the government. Both sectors in Jordan are developed enough to take such as drastic step, but it will provide us with much required benefits.

The reduced cost will gradually allow the government to increase coverage to all the children in the country and the insurance companies will obviously turn to the private medical establishments to provide better coverage for their clients.

A rough estimate of comparable examples in other parts of the world shows that coverage will increase to almost 75% which all that is needed in the first step. The next step will happen gradually as the medical industry will flourish under such steps therefore allowing them to give to lower rates rates as their entries will increase with their current overhead staying within current limits. The increased business will drive the employment wheel and will provide countless jobs.

This is my example of socialism integration with capitalism, social benefits provided by the people's taxes and the ever fierce competition of insurance companies. Naturally, this will require fiercer anti-trust laws in Jordan.

P.S. This writer is currently covered under insurance managed by a private establishment, he is not satisfied with the service.


Weight Loss

I reached an all-time high on the scale the other day, now I won't tell you what I saw on it, but I want to follow a new approach to this whole thing, and I will add a note about its effectiveness every 8 days, I will be following the advices of Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, I will read their book and follow it through as much as I can, given the limitations of Jordan.

I also have a target goal to reach, lets just say it's 64 pounds away, which takes alot of determination.

The motivation came quite unexpectedly, an acquaintance of mine overheard me saying I was (my all-time low), he said "Yeah, I think I saw you then, didn't you go to that Palestinian Bar-Mitzvah."
I laughed so hard because I can take a joke, but I realized, I needed to control myself sooner rather than later.

Wish me luck


A380 is ugly

I am sorry, but as a pilot, nothing impresses me about the A380, its only asset is the double-decker cabin and its only improvement is the curved dihedral, but other than that it does nothing for me. All the other touted improvements are

I care about how an airplane looks, I care about aesthetics, and many pilots -not just Boeing fans- will agree that the A380 is lacking in that. The aircraft doesn't have a graceful face, yes, I meant that. Look at a 747 classic or the beautiful stretches, or even the uglier variant the 747SP looks cool combined to this fat mammoth. Let everyone know that from this moment, I declare the A380 ugly, and not the adorable ugly like ugly Betty, but the horrendous ugly.

I am a fan of Boeing and therefore I am biased but an A319 in easyJet livery is just as much eye candy to me as the Air Asia 737 seen here. (shameless plug-in of a Malaysia trip photo). Although I like the engine look better.

But the A380 is annoyingly an eyesore, the cockpit, is placed in a cumbersome manner, it looks like its not on either story which gave the aircraft a forehead. The aircraft looks short in length, compare it to the 340-600 in the background. I absolutely hate it, it is the first wide-bodied aircraft that fails to have elegance, yet I would love to fly it.

When the B747 was introduced it cut the costs of travel by about 50% or at least cut the cost on the carriers, which was the hay-days of airlines, it introduced a new class of travelers and has outsold every comparative model and still does, there are 120 orders on it and will add to the 1380 already built to reach 1500. It held the record for the largest aircraft for 35 years, let's see if A380 can actually sell enough to break-even, not to mention outsell Boeing again.

In 2006, Boeing was the world’s largest civil aircraft company in terms of orders, overtaking Airbus for the first time since 2000. Last year, 398 aircrafts were delivered by Boeing. Good luck, Airbus, you will need it with the introduction of the 787 and the new 747-800.


Couldn't watch, glad to have won

I didn't watch the Liverpool against PSV game but I did keep track of it online and I am glad we are almost guaranteed to reach the semi-finals. I think we might make it to the finals, but if we win that will make me too happy. Not because it is no. 6 or because it's something to brag about when we have no chance of winning the Premiership, but because the new American owner can realize he tapped into a gold mine.

Maybe then Liverpool will win the next Premiership with the right funding and the right facilities that they most definitely deserve. See the Premiership will prove that Liverpool never was a has-been but was only resting to allow the other to catch up and then go for another winning streak.

Basically what I am saying is, not only do we deserve it and are the most favoured for it, our time has come and our trophy cabinet is waiting.


Propaganda in Jordan

I am proud that I am a socialist, I believe in welfare systems, I believe in the good of the many, I believe in government-help, but most of all I believe that hard work should reward. I am not saying "Viva USSR", I believe in freedom and in political plurality and the multi-party system.

I believe the Human rights should include the right for free post-secondary education by merit, and the right to Universal Health care. I will elaborate later on the latter part, not only because it's a strong belief of mine but because it's essential in any society willing to take citizens seriously.

However my post today is about a TV ad I saw on Jordanian Television, it was put forward by the Ministry of Political Development, any visitor to the site can see the continued wariness of the ministry in tackling sensitive issues, they are constantly trying to project an image of a length of democracy while trying to avoid the history of the country.

The advertisement -which I don't recall word-for-word- went along those lines:
"Do you know that the first parliamentary government in Jordan was formed in 1956 by Suleiman Naboulsi"
While I do agree with the factually of the ad per se, but I don't agree that this is the kind of political development we should aim for. To the best of my ability I tried to translate a quote found in the Arabic part of the same ministry's site.

"In the year 1956 the first partisan-plurality parliamentary election was held, and the first parliamentary cabinet was formed, but this democratic experiment did not last long and stumbled for various internal and external reasons"
This ministry is clearly employing "propaganda" in order to market political development and to uphold a false image of continued democratic parliamentary governments. I should emphasize some things here, Naboulsi Government was the country's first attempt in democracy and probably the last true parliamentary government, it almost led to a coup against His Late Majesty King Hussein and it was lead by Naboulsi and Abu Nawar the King's Aide-de-Camp.

A definition I like
"Propaganda is often deliberately misleading, using logical fallacies, which, while sometimes convincing, are not necessarily valid."

This ministry is trying to tell us that Jordan has a long history of democracy, but fails to tell us that it also suffered the most because of these "experiments" in democracy, Naboulsi was an opportunist and a communist who used the support of communism and of the late President Nasser of Egypt and his connection in the Quwatly regime in Syria to try and overthrow the Monarchy in Jordan.

Wise up, people, there are better exapmles to throw at the Jordanian public