The Very Scandalous Things On Our Middle Eastern Laptops and Tablets: A List To Help The U.S. and U.K. Governments

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The American and British governments have decided overnight to not allow passengers boarding airlines flying directly to their countries from Middle Eastern and some African countries from carrying on them ANY electronic that isn’t a phone or medical equipment.

The countries affected are: Lebanon, KSA, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, among others.

So to make the work of those countries easier, I figured I’d compile a (non-comprehensive) list of all the very scandalous things they will find on our laptops and iPads.

1. A poorly deleted porn browsing history.

2. 23 different google searches for “is this mole on my chest cancer?”

3. The discography of some pop diva we would never admit listening to unless waterboarded.

4. Game of Thrones and everything related to it.

5. Bookmarked BuzzFeed quizzes in order to determine how our life will be.

6. Compromising photographs we thought we had deleted but which have never truly disappeared.

7. The entirety of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Will & Grace, and Seinfeld.

8. Two hundred and ninety four cat doing cute things videos.

9. Thirteen cat doing extremely cute things videos.

10. The occasional video about puppies.

11. A folder for memes.

12. A folder for gifs.

13. Entire convo threads about how bitchy our boss or our colleagues are.

14. Family WhatsApp groups filled with “jokes” in Arabic. PS: those are not religious verses.

15. A ton of screenshots of Instagram posts of people we hate/are jealous of.

16. A ton of screenshots from conversation with friends that we sent to other friends for gossiping
purposes.

17. Selfies. A lot of selfies.

18. Plenty of blocked Facebook games.

19. 12 Facebook friend lists to sort our messy social presence.

20. More muted people on Twitter than we’d like to admit.

21. Google searches about how screwed we are now that Trump has happened.

22. Google searches about whether those Google searches might get us in trouble.

23. Saved restaurants on Zomato we’ve always intended to try but will probably never do.

24. Wikipedia search results about almost everything pertaining to our university degrees.

25. Motivational posters we’ve saved that we share among close friends, but never to the masses.

26. Plenty of tweets about how said motivational posters are silly. #HypocrisyWho?

27. Subscriptions to the YouTube channels of John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, Ellen, and Trevor Noah.

28. Plenty of LebanonFiles (or other news websites visits) to ascertain how messed up our countries are,
and how to adjust our “don’t-give-a-shit”-meter accordingly.

29. WebMd queries about whether one could die from some random thing we felt once upon a time.

30. More selfies.

31. Essays about the plastic surgeries that Lebanese female singers have underwent.

32. Rants about how messed up things are to share with our people.

33. Magnum Opuses about how wonderful things are here for others.

34. Saved images of places we think are here but are probably not.

35. Series we will never admit to have or would watch. That’s one secret I’ll never tell.

36. Dissertations about the series finale of LOST.

37. More than enough to last a lifetime for Harry Potter fan theories.

38. Pinterest boards for ideas we will never see to fruition.

39. Searches of how to become rich?

40. Searches of how to make do with $2 till the rest of the month when it’s still the tenth.

41. A lot of wondering about immigration possibilities.

42. Pirated software because who’d wanna pay $200 for Microsoft Office? WTF?

43. A lot of subscriptions to Western publications that utterly mess up our social media networks’
algorithm.

44. Searches about which countries we can go to without visas.

45. Textbooks we’ve never read and PDF lecture presentations with heavy annotations that helped us get
our degrees.

46. A porn stash we think no one will find.

47. “Lyrics of….”

48. Plenty of “forgot password” links.

49. Photos we took that we think make us photographers.

50. A lot of wondering about why you hate us this much and how further you wanna walk all over us for the fun of it.

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13 Middle Eastern Immigrants Who Made America & The World Great

With Middle Easterners becoming the boogeymen of the world, it’s worth remembering that, despite all the mayhem ravaging their countries and the extremist movements that kill them on daily basis, many of them have used their talents for the greater good and contributed to the betterment of humanity and made America great in their own way.

1. Gebran Khalil Gebran:

Gebran Khalil, who has a monument commemorating him in the heart of Boston, is one of the most celebrated writers in the United States. One of the most influential and top-selling books in the world, The Prophet was written by the Lebanese immigrant from Bcharre. It has been translated to 40 languages, has never been out of print, and has been the center of multiple adaptations the last of which was an animated movie by Salma Hayek.

 2. Tony Fadell:

The name may not be a household item for many, but what Tony Fadell has created has not only revolutionized the way we look at music, it also changed our relationship with our own homes. The iPod, that device with the click-wheel that, only a decade go, changed the entire music landscape was his creation. He later on founded Nest Labs, which created the Nest Thermostat. He’s Lebanese.

3. Michael DeBakey:

Dr. Michael DeBakey, who passed away a few years ago, was a true medical pioneer for the entire world. As medical students, we memorize his classification of aortic aneurysms and use it as a standard. He created a multiple of medical devices that have become essential in cardiothoracic surgery. He was also one of the first physicians ever to do carotid artery bypass grafts, a surgery which was revolutionary at the time and is still cutting-edge today. He was also Lebanese.

4. Donna Shalala:

Mrs. Shalala was United States Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001. She was the president of the University of Miami, a private university in Coral Gables, Florida, from 2001 through 2015. She is, until now, the longest running secretary of health and the first Arab American to be as such.

5. Shakira:

One of the most successful female singers around the world, and arguably the most successful latino singer is Shakira whose hits “Whenever Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie” have made her a household item is originally Lebanese. Her father is from Zahle and her maternal grandmother from Tannourine. Hashtag Batroun pride.

6. Edward Said:

The late Edward Said was a professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, and a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies. A Palestinian-American, his father was a U.S. army veteran. Known for the book Orientalism, a critique of how the Western world perceives The Orient, he transformed the academic discourse in Middle Eastern studies and in the studies of cultures.

7. Reem Acra:

Reem Acra is one of the most important fashion designers around the globe today. Based in New York, she has become one of the most awaited on any red carpet. She lately made headlines by dressing up First Lady Melania Trump for her pre-inauguration dinner with her husband, U.S. president Donald Trump.

8. Zaha Hadid:

The late Zaha Hadid was an Iraqi architect whose works have spanned the entire globe. From football stadiums to parliaments to university faculties, she is as controversial as she is iconic. Zaha Hadid was one of the top architects in the world and the leading female architect at that.

9. Charles Elachi:

Mr. Elachi is a Lebanese professor of electrical engineering and planetary science at the California Institute of Technology. From 2001 to 2016, he was director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and vice president of Caltech as well. He was one of the key figures in NASA’s space explorations from the 1990s onwards and has been inundated with more awards than one could count.

10. Ilhan Omar:

On the day Donald Trump was voted president, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American person (and woman) to win a legislature seat. She was born in Mogadishu, but her family fled after dictator Siad Barre was toppled in 1991 and Somalia collapsed into violence, famine and religious fanaticism. She fled to a Kenyan refugee camp, from which she was resettled in the U.S. four years later. Soon enough, she moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she now serves in the state legislature.

Twelve-year-old Omar knew little English and grew frustrated that teachers continuously overlooked her in class. She once showed pluck when a maths teacher ignored her raised hand when asking pupils to solve a number puzzle.

11. Helen Thomas:

The child of immigrants from Tripoli, Lebanon, Helen Thomas was an American author and news service reporter, member of the White House press corps and opinion columnist. She was a columnist for Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010, writing on national affairs and the White House. She covered the administrations of eleven U.S. presidents — from the final years of the Eisenhower administration to the second year of the Obama administration.

12. Whoever Created Hummus:

Yes, seriously. We gave you hummus. Have some respect. You may have ruined it with celery (don’t do that), but you still got it from us no matter what the Israelis do or say.

13. Steve Jobs:

A little bit of a stretch, but Steve Jobs is technically the son of a Syrian (Muslim) immigrant who, under Trump, wouldn’t have been born given that his father wouldn’t have been allowed into the country. Lucky for the world, that did not happen back then. Steve Jobs went on to found one of the leading tech companies in the world, which gave us the Macintosh, the iPhone, iPad, and a slew of other devices that have become the benchmark of technology today. Period.

Bonus – Jesus:

Jesus was a Middle Eastern man, whose mother was veiled, and who probably wouldn’t have been allowed entry to the countries banning people on their place of origin. It is through him that Christianity was given to the world. As such, Christianity is a Middle Eastern export. You are welcome.

Food for thought:

Great people come from all places. Where you come from has no bearing on the kind of person you will end up becoming if you are given an equal chance at making it. Let’s not put people in boxes based on where they come from, ban them from fulfilling their true potential out of fear and cower away in bubbles because we’re too comfortable there. The next big thing could be in the mind of those we hide away.

To The Americans Fighting The #MuslimBan, A Middle Eastern Thank You


Dear Americans standing up for human decency,

Thank you.

As I saw the thousands of you gather around airports in the country, chanting against a ban that sees only hate, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how wonderful you are as people who care about others who are being targeted for things out of their control, for standing up to those of us who are weakened across the world.

To the protestors who stormed city squares and airports in a completely spontaneous manner because they couldn’t sit by and be complacent to such injustice, thank you.

To the translators offering their tongues and time to people whose voices have been taken away from them, thank you.

To the lawyers and the ACLU offering everything that they can give to those who have nothing to offer back, thank you.

To the army veterans, whose chests are adorned with Purple Hearts, standing at airports because this isn’t what they fought for, thank you.

To those who have defied their parents, friends and comfort zones to stand up for what’s right, thank you.

To the employers making sure their employees know their workplace is a place of inclusion, not exclusion, thank you.

To the hospital program directors who are making sure to reassure residency applicants, that are needed by America so, that their programs don’t look at country or race or visa status, thank you.

To the celebrities whose views have been chastised for so long, who have painted their bodies and advocated from the most watched podiums for those whose entire lives have been uprooted because of a signature, thank you.

To the taxis of New York, who risked their livelihoods for humanity, thank you.

To those applauding at airports as detainees were let free, for bringing tears to our eyes for your solidarity, thank you.

To the American companies, like Starbucks and Lyft, who want to hire refugees and are standing against oppression, thank you.

To the conservatives who voted for the man causing this, and who are now shell-shocked about what is taking place and refusing to stand by it, thank you.

To the Republicans who are not represented by this man and who refuse to partake in this, thank you.

To the Christians in America who know their religion is about love and acceptance, who know that Jesus wants them to turn the other cheek and not cower away in fear, thank you.

To the wonderful Americans who are spending their days and nights and all their free time shouting to whoever could listen that there are values in this world that are more important than politics, thank you.

To the ones who see us as people, not as baggage with frightening connotations in societies they don’t understand, people who should be given the same chance at a better life that their ancestors got, thank you.

Over the last few days, you have shown us an America that is, truly, a beacon of hope for the world, and hope is the weapon that scares those who feed on hate the most: to know that despite everything that they do, there will still be people who will not stay silent or complacent or succumb to fear.

I’m typing this today on a New York subway, in awe of what you are accomplishing and humbled by the outflow of compassion you are showing people you’ve ever met, that you’ve been taught all your life to fear and believe they only want what is bad for you. 

The freedom which you are exercising is the embodiment of the foundations your great country was built upon, that which entrances anyone who sees it, that which welcomes in all the weary, the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses waiting to breathe in that same freedom.

You are showing us every day that, in a world overtaken by darkness, that ideals can overturn tyranny and that it is okay to still hope in the face of such atrocities.
To paraphrase J.K. Rowling: “[hope] can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” Thank you for shining bright. 

 

Qornet El Sawda, Lebanon’s Highest Peak, To Be Ruined & Turned Into A Resort

The Arab obsession with “highest” and “biggest” and “most expensive” continues with a real estate company deciding to turn Lebanon’s highest peak, Qornet el Sawda, in the Makmel Mountain up North, right next to our most celebrated Cedar Forest, into a touristic project they are (creatively) calling: Al-Kumma.

The project will be built on a 420,000 m2 plot, and will include a hotel, club house, wellness-center, and entertainment facilities, 650 chalets, 70 villas, and a ski trail. You know, because the surrounding area doesn’t have enough of those already.

The company behind the $500 million project is Realis Development, which is owned by a family that also has shares in a Abu Dhabi finance company. The project will be financed via banks and equity funds. It is not known which banks or equity funds will have part in this, or which politicians for that matter, yet.

The first phase of the project will begin in summer of 2017.

I’m all for development in the North, Lebanon’s poorest and most deprived area, but when it comes at the expense of one of our country’s most beautiful regions and one of its most ecologically vital areas, I think a line has to be drawn.

Not only does the area already have a world-class skiing area that is visited by thousands of visitors yearly, but it’s also a major water storage site for the country and North Lebanon with it receiving the highest amount of rainfall and snow in the entire Middle East.

Qornet el Sawda is also a few minutes away from the country’s oldest and most celebrated Cedar Forest, or what remains of it, in what is commonly called: the forest of Cedars of God. I guess the thousand years of deforestation from progressive cultures that have used the wood of those trees from that area for their various construction projects wasn’t enough.

Instead of restoring the area’s greenery and contributing to its reforestation efforts to further promote eco-tourism in this country, we are doing the exact opposite. How many trees and shrubs will be destroyed for this project? How many Cedar trees will be cut for it to take place and for the few politicians as well as businessmen behind it to make a few dollars? Is our outrage at the Cedar’s dignity only in Facebook posts and never aimed at the actual trees being uprooted from their natural habitat to let way for man to come in and ruin the mountain further?

For this project to go through without any more investigation is a disgrace. How many more of our regions are they supposed to ruin just because they have the wasta and money? Where is the Ministry of Environment from all of this? Probably busy defending the seagulls being shot near the airport?

How long will it be before one of the country’s most fascinating hiking trails turns into an “exclusive” region for those who can afford it? I’m still waiting to find the maximal point of capitalist greed.

One of the most beautiful characteristics of the North is how pristine its nature is, especially the Bcharre area which boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (and the entire region, may I add). It breaks my heart to see it be ruined that way. What a shame.

This is Aleppo: In A World Where Doctors Have Become Martyrs & Hospitals Battlegrounds

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Tucked in the lower floor of a building was Al-Quds hospital in Aleppo, Syria, a small 34 bed facility in the Sukkari neighborhood. Its windows and entrance were fortified with mostly sandbags for extra protection despite the many buildings around it that, in theory, protected it from being attacked.

The hospital was not a rebel-run hospital, despite it existing in a rebel-controlled neighborhood. It was a Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and International Red Cross affiliated institution with an emergency room and an 8 bed pediatrics ward. It was as fully equipped as a hospital in times of war could be.

In the rules of warfare, horrifying as such a notion’s existence is, and as dictated by multiple conventions, notably the Geneva ones, attacks on medical institutions by any side of a conflict is considered a severe violation.

A few hours ago, a fighter jet, flying at low altitude, charged a missile through Al-Quds hospital, to the background of a Syrian citizen being killed every 25 minutes over the past 48 hours.

The jet in question was commissioned by the conjoined Assad-Putin forces trying to reclaim their hegemony over Syria, despite what some anti-resistance news outlets would want you to believe, with them taking videos of the government forces attacking and portraying them as resistance fighters doing so.

The above picture is that of Dr. Muhammad Waseem Maaz. He was a man who spent most of his adult life finishing medical school, and then specializing in pediatrics, before spending his days doing the most self-less thing that any man, especially a physician could do, leave his family behind in Turkey while he helped the ailing children in Aleppo. Al-Quds was the hospital where he worked. Aleppo was the city he called home, the city that is now being ravaged by regime forces. He was the last pediatrician in Aleppo.

As regime fighter jets attacked his hospital head on, Dr. Maaz did not run for his life. He ran to the incubators to try and save as many lives as he could. His life was not one of those that made it out of that building alive, along with 27 others.

His death is not a number. Dr. Maaz’s murder is a war crime, plane and simple. The more horrifying part is that this is not a lone event. His death is one of the most worrying trends of the Syrian Civil War, and conflicts of the 21st century. It’s becoming a trend.

In Syria alone, 654 medical personnel have been killed until September 2015, according to the UN, and, in the past year alone, 7 attacks have been reported by MSF against its facilities in the country.

Syria is not the only place where attacks against hospitals and doctors occur. All sides have been attacking healthcare workers and instutions: rebels, armed groups, and governments.

A few months ago, American military led a 30 minute barrage on an MSF-led hospital which they believed to be a Taliban HQ. They killed 42 people. They justified themselves as it being an “intelligence error.” Intelligence must have come a long way not to be able to differentiate between a hospital and a terrorist haven.

MSF reports their hospitals sustaining 106 attacks in 2015, with the loss of countless lives as well as extremely valuable equipment that is, for thousands and hundreds of thousands, the only difference between life and death.

The most dangerous aspect in such attacks is that they’ve begun to be considered as normal, not as a war anomaly, setting a war precedence into them becoming not only more “mainstream” in conflict, but also more deadly and more unchecked.

The more threatened doctors are, the less they will be willing to work in those areas that require them the most. It’s already started. Over 60% of Syrian areas, for instance, have no possibility to access any

We are doctors, not martyr projects. We work at hospitals, not battle ground sites. We save lives, regardless of who those lives belong to, irrespective of green lines and battle sides. Our lives are not worthier than others, that’s for sure, but us dying because of horrifying war crimes in which we are targets means the lives of those who are equally worthy of saving are lost forever.

We are doctors, not martyrs. We promise to go to the extreme of what we can to save anyone who can be saved. Dr. Maaz was one of those doctors who did just that. The hundreds of MSF doctors who have been killed over the past years have also been doing just that. When did medicine become open season? When did the act of warfare become one that plays out in surgical theaters and in pediatric incubators?

Everyone is at fault. The Assad regime was the culprit in this case, but this is something that everyone is doing. The targeting of healthcare personnel cannot be normalized. In a world where war is everyone’s favorite pastime, certain entities should always remain off limits. These are doctors, not martyrs. They save lives without asking for theirs to be saved. Don’t make them need to.

Aleppo is dying. Aleppo is bleeding. With labels such as “humanitarian disaster” becoming way too common, one cannot but wonder: what is causing this particular disaster? It’s not an earthquake. It’s not a natural disaster. It’s missiles, and terrorist regimes, and armed factions and other men who know no morality. The murder of people just because they exist, the targeting of hospitals just because they are, the killing of doctors just because they are doing their job is not a humanitarian disaster. It’s a war crime. Call it as such.

Omar Mohammad: The 17 Year Old Martyr Of Arab Free Thought and Speech

Omar Mohammed

In the vast chaos ravaging through the Middle East, these past few days have been especially detrimental to the already extremely weak freedom of thought and speech. Yesterday, Jordanian officials banned Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila from ever performing in Jordan simply because they were afraid of their progressive message.

A few hundred kilometers away from Amman, a 17 year old named Omar Mohammad was living his last hours before being killed by extremists in his country. His fault? They thought he was an atheist, and as such an apostate. He was, however, a firm believer in God and Islam, but not the Islam those terrorists wanted to propagate, and as such his words on Facebook and his way of life proved to be too much for them to handle.

Today, Omar Mohammad is no more, because he dared to speak up against the horrors that had become customary in the place he called home, Yemen. People like Omar should be memorialized for the courage they exhibit in challenging the status quo where they exist, in doing so with extreme modernity in a sea of backwardness.

Going through his Facebook profile, on which his words will now forever be imprinted, the only thing you can call Omar is a martyr for Arab free speech and thought. He may not have been safe in his last days, as he wrote “a country in which you don’t feel safe is not your home,” but he was brave enough to oppose, brave enough to stand up for himself, for what he believe to be true, for what he thought was wrong in his community and society.

When accused of atheism he replied: “They accuse me of atheism! Oh you people, I see God in the flowers,
And you see Him in the graveyards, that is the difference between me and you.”

On extremists groups he wrote: “How do we await peace from those whose emblem is death?”

On the use of religion to pass ulterior agendas, he said: “You can force your will onto other people. Just call what you want to do the will of God, for that is what men of the cloak do.”

On the current status of the Middle East, he wrote: “We need a moral revolution before everything else, one that brings us back to our humanity, one that wakes us up from our coma. Our situation has become disastrous.”

On the sexual repression culture of the Arab world, Omar said: “Our societies have become purely sexual, and that is because of the repression that our youth live. The simplest example to that is sermons that call for heaven affixed with beautiful women. I challenge a man of the cloak to mention heaven without associating it with women.”

With the murder of Omar, the Arab world has lost a youth that promised a better future, that promised hope that one day this region would amount to something again. May his family find solace in him being remembered by millions of those who didn’t know him, his words propagated forevermore.

Bullying The Voice Kids Finalist Zein Obeid For Being Overweight Is The Most Despicable Of Acts

Zein OBeid The Voice Kids

There are many things taking place in the Middle East today that classify as nauseating and despicable. We live in wars and occupation. We fight extremism, or succumb to it sometimes. We try and manage around squashed liberties and an international community that doesn’t care about our well-being outside of its relation to the oil barrel.

But few things are more despicable and disgusting than bullying a kid online, publicly and en masse.

Zein Obeid is an eleven year old boy from Syria who participated on the first season of The Voice Kids, reaching the finals before losing to Lebanese Lynn Hayek. He was one of the participants to get people talking the most, with one viral performance after the next. His stage persona was that of a total sweetheart, but that did not deter some mindless folk from bringing him down because he was overweight.

Leading up the show’s finale, the following picture circulated on social media to mock Zein:

Tfeh.

I didn’t want to share the above picture here, but it’s so wide-spread that I figured having it accompanying a piece where those who came up with it and are sharing it get trashed is not a bad way to do things. It was shared above and beyond by people who figured this was proper joke material. We’re all laughing. Ha ha.

Yes, I am laughing. I’m laughing at the utter and sheer mindlessness of everyone who figured this was a good joke, who decided that publicly making fun of a ten year old in such a way actually constitutes a joke to begin with. I’m laughing at the people who are so insecure and cowardly behind their keyboard-clicking fingers, making fun of someone for being who he is.

Yes, I’m laughing at you for being such disgusting people.

In order to get to The Voice Kids, Zein Obeid had to leave his home in Syria behind and come to Lebanon, a country that has made it near impossible for Syrians to be granted entry. He had to audition in front of a separate jury before being let in front of the coaches where he had to sing for them to be convinced enough to turn their chairs. He then had to go through an elimination process to get to the finals where he was at the mercy of Arab audiences voting. He didn’t end up winning. Imagine how devastating that must feel for an eleven year old, and yet here you are making fun of him just because you’re such a strong warrior behind your computer screen.

In doing what he did on The Voice, Zein entertained nations across the Middle East with his voice and stage presence. That takes an insurmountable amount of courage and pride.

Body shaming people is never okay, let alone when you’re doing it to someone who is only a little boy and whose entire perception of his experience in that talent show is of him doing something worthwhile that he will grow up one day to tell stories about. Why don’t you stand in a mirror, and take a deep long look at yourself before making fun of someone for being whoever they are in their own skin?

You may be making fun of Zein, but he’s the one who’s going to have the last laugh. Zein, if you end up reading this, know this: you are kind, you are so talented, and you are beautiful.