Israel Continues to Deny Cancer Ailing Detainee Any Treatment

Palestinian 65-year-old Maysarah Abuhamdeih has been held in captivity since 28/2/2002 by Israeli occupation forces, among thousands of other illegally detained Palestinians. While I could write articles over articles discussing the finer points of the Arab-Israeli conflict, I chose not to in this post. I want everyone who reads this post to look past the whole complicated geo-religio-political conflict to see this is a pure black and white basic human right’s issue.

Thousands of Palestinians are held captive by Israel, most of them for merely voicing political opinions critical of Israel. Israel claims that they have to arrest these people due to national security interests, the world continues to look the other way. This appears to have become a regional trend, with Syria also detaining hundreds of peaceful citizens, such as Bassel Safadi and Saudi Arabia arresting Jordanian national Khaled Natour. But these countries don’t have the audacity to tout themselves as the Middle East’s only democracy.

It’s not like Israel isn’t benefiting from the Palestinian detainees, there has been reports of them being used by Israeli security forces for practice, and they’re constantly being used by Israel as leverage in negotiations with the PA, including that time they released 198 prisoners as a good will gift to Mahmoud Abbas. We are talking about 198 human beings here, each with their own human pride and dignity being used as pawns to be traded between politicians.

Which brings me to my last point, let’s forget the rest of the 4,772 security prisoners and talk about just one, Maysarah Abuhamdieh. Israel truly believes that this 65-year-old man is a threat to its security because when Israeli courts gave him an initial 25 year sentence, they appealed and pushed for a life sentence. Most recently, he has been diagnosed with cancer, and Israeli prison authorities so far has denied him any treatment. There is no moral ambiguity here. Israel has denied this man and millions of his compatriots their basic human rights in the name of its security, and killed thousands of others, but to deny him treatment and knowingly leave a human being to slowly and painfully die? I am at a loss of words.

I urge you all to sign this petition and spread the word.

“If I look at the mass I will never act.”
― Mother Teresa

New Threat to Free Internet in Jordan – Article 6 (b)

The year 2012 was a horrible year for digital rights and free press in Jordan. The passing of the draconian Press and Publications law and extending its jurisdiction to include online news websites gave the government unprecedented powers to control and censor websites it deems unlawful, made it difficult to start a news website, and practically made it impossible for these websites to allow free comments on its websites. So far the law has not been applied yet, which gave us Internet activists in Jordan a glimmer of hope. News that members of the new Parliament gave a memorandum to the government asking for the Press and Publications law to be appealed gave us more hope.

However, my own hopes were dashed when I read the draft of a new Telecommunications law (link content in Arabic). The Press and Publications law was bad, it was the first attempt by our government to systematically censor the Internet, but at least it targeted censoring individual websites. According to the law draft, article 6 (b) gives the government sweeping powers to dictate guidelines that censor entire categories of websites if they wish. This clause alone can cripple free access to Information and Free Speech, both rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Article 6 (b) of the Telecomunications Law draft states, "(The Telecom Regulatory Commission has to) regulate access to content through public communications networks according to regulation set by the council of ministers for this purpose, as long as this regulation are limited to cases where the content is forbidden or restricted according to Jordanian law."
Article 6 (b) of the Telecomunications Law draft states, “(The Telecom Regulatory Commission has to) regulate access to content through public communications networks according to regulation set by the council of ministers for this purpose, as long as these regulations are limited to cases where the content is forbidden or restricted according to Jordanian law.”

First of all, the article does not fit in this law. The purpose of the Telecommunications law is to regulate telecoms and protect consumer rights, not to dictate and supervise what content they should be allowed to access. Secondly, the fact that “illegal” content exists on the Internet does not justify this article, Jordanian laws already apply in the cyberspace, and this particular issue is handled in the Cyber Crimes law (2010) and the unfortunate Press and Publications law of 1998, and it’s revisions.

That’s not to mention the biggest issue with this article, we simply do not want censorship over the Internet in Jordan. Jordanians made that clear with the 7oryanet campaign in 2012, and the Online Press Freedom Tent, yet the government insists on increasing it’s censorship powers. It infringes on our constitutional right to the free access to Information, and our right to free speech. It infringes also on our right to secret communication by forcing ISPs to monitor our Internet usage to make such censorship feasible.

Speaking of feasibility  such censorship is highly impractical, as we have learned from our neighbors in the region, and it’s counter-intuitive. Jordan has benefited greatly from having a free and open Internet for the past 17 years. Jordan’s web industry are some of the more prolific content creators on the Arabic web. And we are just beginning to realize the full power a free Internet has on innovation and the exchange of ideas and opinions. Jordan will no longer be attractive to foreign investors looking to invest in the many digital start-ups in the country.

This article will deal a blow to all of that. Holding ISPs responsible for content, and giving the government unchecked powers to censor the Internet will ultimately lead to over-censorship. Holding ISPs responsible for content they cannot control, and cannot easily censor will cause more overhead on ISPs, which will ultimately raise the price for Internet access, which will make the Internet less affordable. These are costs that Jordanians do not need in this economic slowdown.

I was looking forward to a more progressive Telecommunications law, one that guarantees digital rights,  fosters innovation, and promotes accessibility to the Internet. Article 6 (b) alone is regressive on all of those counts. Centralized censorship, and censorship in general, has no place in our laws.

Oh Look, Another Crazy Sexist Fatwa!

Stop it. Stop sharing those crazy sexist fatwas from crazy obscure skeikhs. It doesn’t make you a liberal, it doesn’t make you a feminist, if anything, you’re doing extremism a service. Conservatives need to listen to this as well, because we’re failing terribly at doing anything constructive together. I’m not going to be apologetic, I am a liberal, and we’re not a minority by any means in the Arab world, even if it does seem so. Conservatives form the other majority, most modern societies are split along those lines. Another fact is that most liberals and conservatives share many common values, and some common sense. I’m sure most of you have had friends that you “respect” despite their opinions.

But that doesn’t sell views. Why else would you have all of these Egyptian talk shows running a battle royale between some irrelevant actress and some obscure extremist. Those things sell, and it’s our fault. For every stupid issue these shows focus on, many women face millions of other problems that people don’t want to see being discussed. How many people would like to watch a debate on the gender salary gap between two reasonable people? That’s bad TV. So we give more airtime to anuses that have been trained to speak, and eventually they become spokespersons of their camps, and the silly issues they share become major points of contention and other issues that deserve just as much attention if not even more, get the back seat.

It’s not only a matter of issues. A big issue in Jordan is harassment, and I’m not saying it’s not a big issue, and it should be discussed. I just don’t want to discuss it with trolls like Amjad Qorshe, we need to discuss it with people that have a bit of common sense. The more attention we give to this trolls will only cause more polarization. These trolls can take any issue and turn it into a sensational cesspool of misinformation, and I’m sick of how counterproductive we are becoming. It’s all a crazy trick designed to make sure we never find middle ground, because all you see is the crazy on the other side, and you sure as hell are not going to agree with that shit, so you stick with your own people, and all your support goes to them in whatever political/charity/commercial endeavor they have.

Let’s face it, despite all the communication tools we have in this new age, our conversation is broken. Issues aren’t real issues, reactions and scaring others is what counts. A huge number of people are not informed and scared shitless, and the people we’ve allowed to become our spokespersons are idiotic trolls that spew madness and lies out of every single hole in their bodies, and we listen to them because it gives us more joy. It’s easy to diss the crazy person, and it’s hard to have a frank and real debate with facts and science with other reasonable people who have differing opinions to ours. Our only hope is if we all collectively start to identify trolls, start ignoring them, and begin glorifying honest and productive debate instead.

#Blog_For_Freedom Free the Prisoners, Free the Prisoners’ Minds

For me it goes without saying that I want the prisoners of conscience released. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and I fully believe in that. However, I would like to also take a moment and address an issue that’s been weighing me down for the past few weeks. Lots of the discourse has been focused on the fact that those prisoners in particular have a just cause, and it’s not right for them to be imprisoned for their particular demands, and that includes many of the articles written today by so called “Freedom activists”.

I’m not debating the justness of their causes, but I will not stand for lines drawn on freedom of expression. I will fight for the freedom of any prisoner of conscience. It worries me that I fear those people whose freedom I fight for. I do not fight oppression for a lesser or different form of oppression, and I want to warn both the government, and the people, and the prisoners of conscience that if they do not support freedom of expression, then they are all transgressors of human rights, and that they shouldn’t count on me being on their side.

Tarakiyee’s Gangam Style Steak Recipe

I’m not trying to cash in on the famous Psy song’s fame, I just needed an ironic name for my Korean cuisine inspired steak recipe. And even if I am, It’s an original way of cashing in on its fame. This recipe is perfect for a romantic dinner or a lonely night watching 30 Rock, pretending to be on a romantic dinner with Tina Fey (or Alec Baldwin. Or Tracy Morgan, I won’t judge. I mean, there’s bound to be someone with a crush on Pete).

Gangam Style Steak Marinated
This is how the steak looks after being well marinated.

So the recipe is pretty simple. I choose two Round Eye steaks, roughly around 500 grams together. For that I mixed 2 tablespoons of Sesame Oil with quarter a cup of sweet Soy sauce, a clove of crushed garlic, and one diced shallot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You need to rub the marinate on to the steak, and then leave it to marinate for up to 12 hours. I was in a hurry, so I poked the steak a little with a knife, and added some vinegar. Vinegar helps break the proteins in the steak and helps it marinate faster, and it can also add flavor to the steak, depending on what vinegar you use. I used balsamic, because I think it goes great with this marinate. I figured all of this helps cut down the marinating time to an hour, but the more you marinate, the more flavorful your steak is going to be.

Gangam Style Steak Seared
This is how the steak should look after being seared in a pan.

Now for the cooking process, I heated the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). While it was heating, I put a pan on medium fire, with olive oil in it. Seared each side of each steak for two minutes. Then I put the steaks in the oven. It takes around 20 minutes to get the meat to my liking, but it can take from 30 to 40 minutes for it to become well done. You can always poke the steak with your finger to see how well done it is.

Gangam Style Steak Ready - With Coleslaw
The final product after broiling in the oven, served with some coleslaw. Cooked it a little too much, but thanks to the searing it was surprisingly juicy.

 

 

Fix Your Internet Connection with Third Party DNS Servers

Changing your DNS server settings can be a quick and easy fix to lots of common Internet connection problems, especially if your ISP is unreliable or if your country likes to censor stuff. Here’s a quick and easy guide on how to do that. Living in Jordan, I face lots of problems with Jordanian ISPs. They are becoming way more unreliable than they usually are. For some reason, random websites suddenly become unavailable, and they become a bit slower to load. I have no clue if this has any relation to the proposed censorship laws in Jordan, and there’s no way I can confirm that, but most of the times it seems that they fail to serve random websites.

Also, they’ve been notoriously susceptible to hacking. One random ISP I will not name was famously hacked recently and kept serving Russian malware websites at random. Thankfully, there’s a fix, that can make your Internet experience more secure, and more reliable, and best of all, faster, and all you need to do is to start using an alternative DNS service than the one provided by the ISP.

There are two major services, the one I use is Google Public DNS which is very reliable, and incredibly easy to use. You just need to switch your DNS servers to 8.8.8.8, and 8.8.4.4. If this looks like Chinese to you, just go to their website and follow their easy instructions.

How To Set Up Google Public DNS Server
How To Set Up Google Public DNS Server

There’s also Open DNS which is also pretty popular, but you need to create an account. Here’s a hint to Open DNS, what you need if you’re a home user is what they call “Premium DNS”, which despite the name is meant to be  free. They also give Enterprise and Parental Control options, if you need those.

EDIT: jockerspalette says

Btw .. OpenDNS can be used without creating an account by simply using 208.67.222.222 or 208.67.220.220 just like Google DNS servers, and if you need a family-safe internet you can use 208.67.222.123 or 208.67.220.123, if you need their “premium” features, then you have to create an OpenDNS account.

PRO-TIP: If your router supports it, try to set the DNS on a router level, so that everybody who uses the router can benefit from it.

In summary, I recommend that every person stop using their ISP’s DNS servers, they tend to be unreliable, and gives your ISP way too much control over what they think you can see or cannot see.

Libroswap at Startup Amman 2012 – Book Swapping as a Solution

I’m working right now on a startup project called Libroswap. The purpose of this project to facilitate the swapping of books between university and school students. Despite the many advances in technology these days, books remain an important source of knowledge. We simply cannot risk keeping this knowledge hidden in our closets and storage rooms while many need this knowledge to be freed.

Not to mention the fact that making more books requires trees, an ever more scarce commodity these days. We’re hoping that Libroswap can also have an ecological impact, as well as an economical impact in these times of economic struggle. Please help support our project at our FB page.