Monthly Archives: May 2008

More Details about Iraq Soccer

International Herald Tribune article sheds some light.

Sunday’s game, and the return leg against Iraq in Dubai on June 7, was in jeopardy because FIFA threatened to expel the Iraqi team unless its government backed down from its reported disbanding of the country’s National Olympic Committee and all the sports federations involved with it.

This was unlawful according to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, a Swiss.

“It would be a great shame if the reigning Asian Cup champion was suspended from World Cup qualifying,” reiterated Mohamed bin Hammam, the Qatari who is reshaping the Asian confederation as its president. “But it would send a strong message to governments who tried to interfere in the running of the national sports associations.”

The Iraqi government said that the country’s Olympic Committee was unconstitutional because elections had not been held for five years, the committee’s chairman was missing, presumed kidnapped or dead, and other committeemen had fled the country. The sports ministry promise that legitimate elections would take place for an independent Olympic body within three months.

Oh yeah, the chairman who’s missing, presumed kidnapped or dead. Holy cow.

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Filed under iraq soccer

Iraq May Not be Able to Play in World Cup Qualifying Match

First the Iraqi government dissolved its Olympic committee. Then FIFA suspended the Iraqi national team from play for a twelve-month period. Then the Iraqi government told FIFA, “Oh, no, we totally didn’t mean that to include the national soccer team.” So FIFA conditionally and provisionally lifted the ban on the Iraqi soccer team.
They’re scheduled to play against Australia twice next week. Will the games take place?

The Football Federation Australia has mixed feelings.

FFA will lose close to $A3 million in gate takings and sponsorships if the match is called off, but it is not necessarily bad news for the Socceroos.

If Iraq’s matches are forfeited, Australia’s place in the next round of qualifying is assured.

Stupid Iraqi government! What were you thinking?

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Bahrain Names Jewish Woman Ambassador

News story here.

MANAMA, Bahrain – Bahrain’s king has appointed a woman believed to be the Arab world’s first Jewish ambassador as the country’s envoy to Washington.

Bahrain — a pro-Western island nation with Sunni rulers and a Shiite majority — is a close U.S. ally and hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. It has about 50 Jewish citizens among a population of roughly half a million people.

Nonoo has served as legislator in Bahrain’s all-appointed 40-member Shura Council for three years.

Nonoo replaced her cousin, who held the Shura Council seat for four years. A businesswoman who lives both in Bahrain and London, Nonoo also is the first Jewish woman to head a local rights organization, the Bahrain Human Rights Watch.

And on a slightly related note, something I read a few days back while I was researching something completely different reminded me that Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi foreign minister and deputy prime minister (and de facto head of government) under Saddam Hussein, was a Christian. I must remember this for a future trivia quiz.

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Burj Dubai/Dubai Tower

Because my sister was talking about it, here’s this website all about how the construction is coming along on the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest structure.

There are a whole bunch of links to pictures and video.

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Filed under miscellaneous

Hotel Owner Makes Controversial Decision

A hotel in Egypt owned by a Saudi pours all its alcohol down the drain.

A decision by the Saudi owner of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Cairo to ban the sale of alcohol and destroy millions of dollars worth of beverages has sparked a debate in Egypt.

The Grand Hyatt occupies one of the most expensive sites overlooking the River Nile. It is only minutes from the diplomatic quarter, where the British and American embassies are located.

Like all five-star hotels in Egypt, alcohol used to be available there – but not any more. It is unclear what prompted the owner Sheik Al Brahim to take this controversial measure.

Staff at the hotel are reluctant to talk about the whole affair. But a barman told me that they now only serve soft drinks and that he saw with his own eyes how expensive whiskey, liqueurs and fine wines were emptied down the drains of the hotel.

Supporters of the decision say Egypt is a Muslim country and foreign visitors should respect local custom.

But critics say just as Muslims expect to be served Halal food on international flights, they should be prepared to respect the desires of their Western guests.

And Egyptian liberals see the incident as a clear example of how Saudi Arabia uses its financial muscle to spread its own puritanical brand of Islam to other countries.

“It can strangulate the Egyptian tourism industry… by imposing Islam on tourists who are not Muslims, and compulsory drunkenness on the Muslim fish of the River Nile,” he wrote, referring to reports that the stock was emptied in the river when the owner ordered staff to get rid of it.

It would be interesting if this Saudi opened up a hotel in Vegas. All smoking, no gambling or drinking.

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Filed under arab, Islamic relations, Salafism

Dinosaur Highway in Yemen

Discovery News article:

May 21, 2008 — Herds of dinosaurs once wandered Arabia and have left behind some footprints in what’s being called the first set of trackways discovered on the Arabian Peninsula.

The approximately 165 million-year-old tracks in Yemen appear to have been made by at least two types of dinosaurs, with young and old dinos traveling together along what was once a coastal mud flat.

“It’s a bit of a dinosaur highway,” said paleontologist Anne Schulp of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht in Maastricht, The Netherlands.

The discovery also reinforces the idea that there are probably lots of undiscovered dinosaur fossils on the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, Stevens says she is planning to investigate more trackways near the first site with her colleagues Schulp and Mohammed Al-Wosabi of Sana’a University, Sana’a, in the Republic of Yemen.

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Filed under animals, arabian


A little quiz to try out this cool thing I forgot about a long time ago.

How many scorpion stings are reported each year in Saudi Arabia?
a- 100 to 500
b- 500 to 1,000
c- 1,000 to 10,000
d- More than 15,000

“The 20 varieties of scorpions found in the Kingdom are poisonous to various degrees. While some are fatal, others cause lesser complications, although these can be painful,” said Abdul Rahman Al-Asmari, head of the Scorpion Studies Center and deputy director of research at the Armed Forces Hospital (AFH) in Riyadh.

Al-Asmari said that a major difficulty in treating scorpion poison was that the anti-scorpion venom used in one region would not work against the same type of scorpion in another. So, separate antivenoms have to be developed for each variety of scorpions in different regions.

Answer: ˙ɹɐǝʎ ʎɹǝʌǝ pǝʇɹodǝɹ sƃuıʇs uoıdɹoɔs 000’82-000’42 ʎllɐnʇɔɐ ǝɹɐ ǝɹǝɥʇ ˙000’51 uɐɥʇ ǝɹoɯ -p

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Filed under animals, arabian, arabist, quiz

Chalk Up Another One for the Non-Terrorists

No mention of terror or terrorism or terrorist in this article about a car bomb in Spain,

Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said 29 people were inside the police barracks at the time, including five children, and that ETA had intended a massacre.

If the attack against the barracks is confirmed to be the work of ETA, it will be the sixth death caused by the outfit since it broke a ceasefire in December 2006 with the bombing of a car park at Madrid’s international airport that killed two Ecuadoran men.

Oh wait oh wait oh wait. I spoke too soon. Here it is, not in the headline, not in the first paragraph, but way down in the last paragraph:

The group, whose initials stand for Euskadi ta Askatasuna, or Basque Homeland and Freedom in the Basque language, is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States.

It’s like they really want to hedge their bets. Calling them terrorists might be going to far. If we start referring to non-Arabs as terrorists, people might start to think that it’s possible to be a terrorist if you’re not Arab.

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Filed under arab, domestic terrorism

I Watched “The Kingdom” Again

What a let-down it is to watch an action movie at home. It’s just not the same on a small screen, even a 42-inch screen.
I noticed a couple things this time through that I didn’t notice the first time.
One is when Leavitt was kidnapped and they were going to film him (one imagines) being beheaded, one of the bad guys puts on a black ski mask to cover all his facial features. That guy is wearing a stolen Saudi police uniform with a name tag on it, and he doesn’t cover the name tag. So that would certainly make it easier for the authorities to figure out whose uniforms were stolen. Even if it’s a very common name, it sure narrows things down. I couldn’t read the name tag, but anybody watching the video they were making would have been able to.

Early on, Sykes for no apparent reason wanders over to a police or National Guard checkpoint and they start hollering at him. He stands there like a dope while Colonel al-Ghazi calls out the soldiers, “Mu mushkilah” (“No problem”). I thought that might be supposed to be where Mayes learned the Arabic phrase she uses at the end of the movie, but it’s not. The phrase she uses is “Ma laysh” (“It’s nothing”–more or less). So there’s still no explanation of any kind of where she would have learned that.
The DVD has a lot of nice special features, which helps make up for watching it on a small screen.
One feature is the final shootout sequence shown from four different viewpoints. That was really cool, but it have the unfortunate side effect of my having to hear the cringe-worthy, cheesy line

Ronald Fleury: Which side do you think Allah’s on?
Colonel Faris Al Ghazi: We are about to find out!

over and over again. Okay, it’s not that cheesy by itself, but the fact that Fleury stops al-Ghazi so that he can ask him that stupid question instead of carrying out the @#$%ing mission, that’s what’s so cheesy.

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Filed under arabian, arabic, movies and shows


You know those awful, black-and-white cartoon tracts you sometimes find in public places like bus station bathrooms? The ones that point out to you that enjoying Halloween will earn you a place in hell and that people who play Dungeons and Dragons are practitioners of black magic?
They’re the creations of “artist” Jack Chick, who has his own web site.
He has it in for all kinds of non-Christians, such as witches and Catholics and scientists. Most of his tracts end with the unfortunate ignoramus or scoffer standing before a faceless male entity on what looks like a marble throne, sometimes with rays emanating from the entity’s head.
Anyway, that’s what made me think of this vision of Jack Chick coming before his creator:

god is mad

Let’s see if WordPress ever works properly and displays the picture.
I don’t hate WordPress…I just get really frustrated with it. But it lets me have a post counter, and I like that.

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Filed under arabic, bigoted idiots, miscellaneous, Uncategorized