Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.



Thursday, February 1, 2018

Aux Armes Citoyens: Lebanon's Civil War, the Sequel

There you go. The new generation of politicians, each of whom was born after the Civil War of 1975, is now in place: Jumblatt, Gemayel, Aoun/Bassil, Chamoun, Berri, Moawad, Lahoud, Hariri and every other name in the Lebanese political farm pantheon have now all inherited their entitlement to political power from their fathers.

They have heard of the atrocities of 1975, the communal massacres, the ethnic cleansings, the kidnappings, the disappearances, the mutilated bodies discarded by the roadsides, the shellings, the sieges, the foreign occupations..... But they have not lived them. The only thing they know is the distorted story of what happened in the 1970s and 1980s, whereby acts of treason, inhumanity, barbarity, killings, rapes, plunder, mayhem and pillaging have been distilled into acts of bravery. Politicians, under whose leadership tens of thousands of Lebanese lost their lives, their homes, their sons and daughters, are today for the most part in power. The killers of the 1970s are today's government ministers and members of parliament. They are elevated by their herds of mountain brutes to the standing of heroes and saints. Not one month goes by without some grand meeting is held honoring the warlords of the 1970s and 1980s.

But they have grown old, and to ensure the continuation of Lebanese barbarity, they have bequeathed their political power as local, sectarian, regional Mafia and warlord bosses to their sons, sons-in-law, and occasionally their daughters and wives.

The new generation is ready for another episode of bloodletting. They want to capture the "heroism" of their fathers. And in this primitive lemon republic, the only way to do so is to engage in a reckless sectarian discourse, leading to a street fight and to, eventually, a brand new and improved civil war that will outshine that of their fathers of 1975.

I lived the pre-1975 war, and then the 1975 war itself. Before 1975, I heard the stories of the testosteronic "heroes" of the 1940s and 1950s, and when their sons ran the country to the ground, I, like many of my generation, listened to them and joined reluctantly their sectarian concentration camps. It took many decades to take stock of what had happened and realize that they all lied to us, they fought by killing us, the ordinary Lebanese.They fought by making sudden enemies of their erstwhile allies, and after their massacres and killings, they went back to being allies, with the Lebanese people left holding the body bags of their children.

The second installment of the Lebanese Civil War has begun. The incidents of the past few days, in which the word "bully", uttered by a Christian leader about a Muslim leader, has already caused street fighting and armed thuggish behavior, are a harbinger of worse things to come. The pseudo-nation-state of Lebanon is, we are told, an experiment in "tolerance" which is still work in progress. Unfortunately the vast majority of the Lebanese do not learn from the data, no one looks back with reason at what happened, no "reconciliation and justice"commission was ever established to look at the details - The Lebanese are not good with details because they require hard work, diligence, assiduity, and an open mind - and the killers of the 1970s gave themselves an amnesty. And so we are condemned to repeating the same mistakes. We are about to repeat the 1975 mistake.

In the 1970s, the Lebanese Sunnis hated the Lebanese State because it was established over their fathers' objections who wanted Lebanon to be part of Syria. They rebelled, using the Palestinians and the PLO as their militia, and the Shiites and the Druze joined them in fighting the Christians. One of the many triggers of the 1975 war was that the Sunnis (led by Rashid Karami) imposed a boycott on the Christian Phalange Party, and low and behold as the years passed and the war became more and more complicated, the net result of 20 years of mayhem was that the Sunnis extricated some of the powers that the Christian  Maronite president had and gave them to the Sunni Prime Minister. That was, in essence, the "solution" to the war of 1975, a solution we today refer to as the "Taif Agreement".

The Shiites, who had fought alongside the Sunnis and the Druze, did not lose, but they did not win either. They got very little out of the settlement. Today, it is the turn of the Shiites to "demand" gains for their sect. They are the only community that maintains a militia, Hezbollah, despite the fact that Taif Agreement required the dismantling of all militias and returning the exclusivity of violence to the Lebanese Army.

In this sequel to the Lebanese Civil War of 1975, the Shiites will lead the way into the descent into sectarian violence. Two Christian neighborhoods have so far, in less than 2 days, been "invaded" by Shiite hordes brandishing weapons and angry over the word "bully". One word and two days, and you already have street fighting, because of course, the Christians have shown up on the street also armed to "defend" themselves. And you can take it from here. In 1975 there were "rounds" of fighting, separated by a couple of months each... and round after round, the war erupted and the killings began.

My lessons from all of this - because my entire life was screwed up by the 1975 war - are:
- Move to a safe location, to an area of your "own kind". This is easy because the 1975 war had already sorted people into sectarian regions.
- Take your prized possessions to a safe hideout because even those fighters from your own camp, who will claim to be defending you against the other side, will kill you, rape you and rob you just as the other side will.
- Dust off any foreign passports your parents might have given you during their own exiles in the 1975 war, because you will need them in emergencies that are bound to erupt.
- Do not trust anyone. Buy a gun. Learn how to use it.
- Take your money out of the bank, convert it into a strong currency, and stash it in cash somewhere safe. In 1975, the US dollar was worth 2-3 Lebanese Liras. In 1995 and to date, the US dollar is worth 1,500 Lebanese Liras. So imagine where that exchange rate will be when this new civil war takes its flight.
- Start a business that caters to repairing damages and filling gaps caused by war - glass, concrete, food, water, candles and generators.... All of these are easy because we still live today in 2018 in the same conditions we were left with after the 1975 war. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Trump Contagion: Gebran Bassil Insults Speaker Berri as BULLY

The Up-and-Coming Junior Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Lebanese government, Mr. Gebran Bassil, is a hyper-ambitious little guy who was never elected to any of the posts he occupies, but who is constantly propped up by his father-in-law, President Michel Aoun - Apparently, this does not constitute cronyism in the "Free Patriotic Movement" party platform of Aoun-Bassil who hav graduated from "free" and "patriotic" to "Change" and "reform", none of which has yet materialized. In fact, Aoun-Bassil have created a new sectarian Maronite political family farm monster that is identical in all respects to the dinosaurs of the Kataeb (Phalange), Ahrar, Marada, Jumblatt, Salam, and other illustrious names from the 1800s and 1900s.  Not to mention other nephews, sons-in-law, and daughters of the aging President Aoun who all "arrived" with their alpha-male to power, for they all occupy senior posts as advisors and members of parliament.

Bassil was the engineer of the Shiite Hezbollah-Maronite Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) rapprochement in 2006. Remember that Aoun spent 15 years of exile lambasting the Shiite Hezbollah as a Syrian occupation puppet terrorist group, currying the favors of the American Zionist lobby in Washington DC and the Christian fundamentalist evangelicals, supposedly to fight the Syrian occupation. But no sooner were the Syrian troops booted out of the country in 2005 that Aoun turned around, began hating the Americans and the Zionists, fell in love with the Syrian butcher Bashar Assad, became an ardent defender of Hezbollah, and even dispatched an envoy (who was rewarded today with the Embassy of Lebanon in DC) to Damascus asking the Syrian butcher for forgiveness and clemency. That masterful turncoat move enabled Aoun to return to Lebanon and avoid being blown up in the assassination campaign led by Assad and his proxy Hezbollah against several politicians and journalists in the aftermath of the Syrian occupation.

Back to Bassil. This abrasive, streety, sexist rookie, much beloved by his father-in-law president to the chagrin of more competent members of the FPM, is now learning from US President Donald Dumb. Yesterday Bassil referred to Nabih Berri, Speaker of Parliament and a long-time political man of Baathist Syria and Theocratic Iran, and a close ally with the other Shiite enterprise Hezbollah, as a BULLY. For long gone is the honeymoon between Aoun and the Shiite duo of Berri (Amal Movement) and NAsrallah (Hezbollah). Everyone knew that the Aoun-Shiite marriage was one of convenience (forgive me if I repeat myself), because during Aoun's 15-year exile, Berri was Aoun's enemy number one. Now Berri deserves the credit for constancy: He has always been, and continues to be, Syria's top man in Lebanese politics.

The Lebanese have a saying that equates marriage to a barrel full of shit except for a thin top layer of honey. As often is the case in marriages, once the honey is gone, the shit begins. So now the Aoun-Berri-Nasrallah honeymoon is over, the honey is gone, and the shit has begun.

Berri is a strongman, a warlord who fought everyone during the sad years of the Lebanese War. Berri fought the Palestinians, he even fought Hezbollah for dominance over the Shiite concentration camp in which all Lebanon's Shiites are herded. Berri fought Aoun and every other political party and warlord. The only friends he had were Syria and Iran.

And now, as these words are written, Berri's henchmen are in the streets burning tires and protesting, even in remote Lebanese Shiite immigrant communities in Africa and elsewhere. The gall of Lebanese politicians is unmatched. They operate in a sphere all their own, making friends and enemies as the circumstances evolve and as treason on behalf of foreign countries becomes necessary, while the country - almost 30 years after the official end of the war in 1990 - remains without electricity, running water, and functional infrastructure, is chaotic and anarchic, dominated by thugs and thieves, with corruption deeply entrenched in every sphere of life, without even a functional garbage policy. Over this past week, the heavy rains joined hands with the illegal quarries that have devastated forests and destroyed the top soil, and with the waste dump sites built as huge mountains along the Mediterranean, and tons of plastic garbage have washed up along the Lebanese coast up and down the country. The good thing is that this not beach season, but the filth of garbage washing up everywhere can only be blamed on a corrupt political class that stands to lose big if modern sorting and recycling facilities are created to dispose of the garbage. Lebanon is full of garbage... You'll see it in every ditch, under every shrub, all over the forests and the rivers, along the Mediterranean and in the Mediterranean... filthy toxic waste, plastics, and other inorganic man-made stuff that nature cannot handle.

The country is sick. But the politicians are like rabid gods, smelling blood 3 months ahead of legislative elections that have been postponed already three times, with a corrupt parliament that keeps violating the constitution by extending its own terms, under the fantastic leadership of Nabih Berri.

And so the tenor of the discourse keeps sinking lower and lower, so much so that it has reached ground level where Lebanese garbage thrives.

The imbecile rookie calling the dinosaur a bully. But the show must go on. And the good decent Lebanese must keep emigrating, leaving behind them the thugs and warlords to run the country to the ground. Yeah, the emigrés that Bassil has been courting for a couple of years (for their money and their votes, no more) might vote and might continue to send money to their impoverished families, but they will never have faith, will never trust this desolate country to become a normal decent clean country.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Divorce Proceedings under way between Aoun's FPM and Nasrallah's Hezbollah

- The noose is tightening around the neck of Hezbollah because of the US administration's determination to skewer Hezbollah and dry up its funding resources from Lebanese Shiite immigrant pockets in North America, South America, Africa and elsewhere. Earlier this week, the US dispatched a delegation led by a US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing, Marshall Billingslea, to Beirut to ensure compliance by Lebanese banks with recent US legislation aimed against Hezbollah’s money sources and laundering. Billingslea made it very clear earlier this week to Lebanon’s politicians that "Lebanon must cut Iran-backed Hezbollah from the financial sector... and combat its illicit finance", two weeks after Washington began a new push to disrupt the militant group's global financing network". Secretary Billingslea "urged Lebanon to take every possible measure to ensure Hezbollah is not part of the financial sector... stressing the importance of countering Iranian malign activity in Lebanon". 

- The utility of the FPM-Hezbollah understanding has now worn off: In 2006, Aoun exploited the Shiite Hezbollah and used it to come to power in 2016 , and Hezbollah exploited him to maintain a façade of respectability behind which it hid its illegal terrorist activities and to keep the country in a state of instability that ensures Hezbollah's survival. Now that he has arrived to power, Aoun has cashed in on the alliance and is increasingly reckoning with the fact that Hezbollah has become a liability for him and the success of his term in office. Aoun has begun ditching Hezbollah by, for example, entering into an open war with Hezbollah’s alter ego, the Shiite Amal Movement led by Parliament speaker Nabih Berri. 
- Aoun continues to accept American military assistance – even though the stated reason for that support, namely fighting ISIS, no longer exists with the demise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq – while he, Aoun, has been viciously anti-American since 2005 when the US turned him down as a partner, which prompted him to join Hezbollah in an anti-American alliance in Lebanon.

- Aoun is worried that if he maintains a strong alliance with Hezbollah, he and his entourage of politicians with close ties with the Iranian militia might be personally targeted by the new stiff American sanctions against Hezbollah. 

- As the Lebanese legislative elections loom this coming May, it is clear on the ground that Aoun’s FPM will not rely exclusively on its alliance with Hezbollah to score seats in Parliament. Aoun’s FPM has executed a shift toward an alliance with Hezbollah’s enemy, the Future Movement of Saad Hariri. Again, for Aoun’s FPM to gain ground or at least to maintain its current positions, it must expand its reach to heretofore inimical groups and parties such as the Future Movement of Saad Hariri. Add to this the fact that the Americans have expressed to the Lebanese their “warning, which could rise to the level of a threat, against any cooperation with Hezbollah in the legislative exercise this May that could help Hezbollah achieve its goals”. Indeed, President Aoun’s open war with Speaker Berri over a matter of relative insignificance is a war by proxy with Hezbollah, since the latter has declared that its own organic Shiite relationship with Berri’s Amal movement is unshakable and their alliance in the elections will cover every electoral district in the country. Any election alliance between the FPM and Hezbollah is therefore now increasingly unlikely.

- The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, established by the UN in The Hague since 2005, is nearing the conclusion of its prosecution of the assassination wave in Lebanon between 2005 and 2009, particularly the bombing of Lebanon’s then-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The main culprits in the Hariri assassination are Hezbollah operatives. Aoun knows that if the Tribunal convicts Hezbollah in these crimes, it would extremely difficult for him - as President - to maintain ties with Hezbollah. 
- With the Syrian war entering its final phase, and the return of Hezbollah’s fighters from the Syrian front to Lebanon, Aoun is worried about a couple of things: 
1- Hezbollah's resurgent domestic power, with a militia reportedly more powerful than the Lebanese Army (hence the US military aid to the Lebanese Army is not only to fight ISIS, but eventually to face off with Hezbollah) could unravel the delicate security situation and shake things up on the ground; 
2- With the noose tightening around Hezbollah’s neck in Syria and in Lebanon, and with its funding sources under the microscope, Hezbollah might be pushed into a corner and be forced it to take some action in the form of either a return to targeted assassinations against Western targets and pro-western politicians in Lebanon (as it did in the 1980s and the 2000s), or a new confrontation with Israel which will reshuffle the cards and allow Hezbollah to maintain its raison d’être; and 
3- Sanctions against the Lebanese banks will wreck the already ailing Lebanese economy whose healing Aoun keeps propping as his main objective as president.

The Aoun/FPM – Nasrallah/Hezbollah alliance was never authentic. It was a marriage of convenience that was not under-girded by any ideological convergence. In fact, it was an anomalous relationship between an FPM whose platform is a decidedly Christian party with secular tendencies, and a Hezbollah whose Islamic fundamentalist platform hid under a fake identity of a mainstream political party. I saw the divorce on the day of the marriage, but in this undemocratic Lebanon, politicians never ask their public for their opinions (If any of you has reasons why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace) when entering into incestuous or repugnant political alliances. People in Lebanon are sheep who follow their leaders even of they drive them to certain treason and death. We are witnessing the unraveling of this divorce which was always predicted to be inevitable.

The FPM is distancing itself from, if not breaking up with, Hezbollah in order to please the Americans.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Lebanon's Mediterranean: Garbage Dump and Cesspool

When it rains in Lebanon, and whether you are in urban areas or in mountain village roads, the first thing you notice is the huge amount of garbage - mostly plastic bottles, soda cans, plastic shopping bags - that piles alongside the roads.

The rain dislodges the garbage that had accumulated in ditches and wooded and bushy areas, and the water carries it along the roads because there are no functional water disposal systems. Now we can blame the rain, and of course the corrupt government and its decaying administrations, but we should first blame ourselves, the Lebanese people, because we are the ones discarding this garbage anywhere we please. I have seen evidence of this numerous times. As you drive, a fully loaded garbage bag suddenly flies out of the window of the car in front of you. Or a dirty tissue paper. Or an empty cigarette box, followed by the cellophane and aluminum foil of a new cigarette box. Or just below my building, there is a small terrace of surviving greenery where the few remaining birds that are not hunted by the primitive brutes around come to hide. Every other day, a garbage bag flies from one of the floors above me and lands in the grass and the shrubs, or a metal pipe, or a plastic jerrycan, or a bunch of aluminum sheets and beams (for the idiot upstairs renovated his apartment), or any number of detritus, debris and waste.

I don't know what the religious schools teach the generations of Lebanese. All my neighbors are young families with small children who attend some of the religious schools run by nuns and priests. You should see how the children discard plastic soft drink bottles and cans, popsicle sticks, paper and plastics of all kinds in the parking lot beneath the building, sometimes right on our cars parked there.

Yesterday, there was a massive march to Saint Maroun's monastery in Annayya where thousands of "faithful" thronged to plea with Saint Charbel for miracles. Yes, the Lebanese will marshal their numbers for illusions of faith and similar manifestations of what a primitive society is. Yet, they cannot teach their children and themselves to respect their environment. This is the crux of the difference between, on one hand, a primitive society that thinks it can get solutions from the Big Zombie in the sky, and on the other hand an advanced society that knows that only individual responsibility toward others and the environment will bring a solution. This relationship between primitiveness and reliance on God, versus progress and reliance on oneself is mathematical. You can actually measure it.

Whenever I see footage of roads in other countries on television, some not more economically well-off than  Lebanon, I am always surprised to see that the roads are all well marked with lanes, dividers, street signs and road signs, arrows, pedestrian crossings, etc... But not in Lebanon. Here, someone might have painted a few lane markers dozens of years ago, but they have long faded away and disappeared, and you'll need an archeologist to excavate the road to tell you where there was once a road marker. That is why Lebanese drivers have no idea of the concept of lanes, and they drive cars like they would drive a mule back in the 18th century, except the mules the Lebanese drive are souped up fast cars that turn deadly every day. The combination of a derelict state that does not maintain roads and a driving public that seems to have come out of an insane asylum is indeed terrifying. Many of my expatriate friends (who curse Lebanon in private, but pretend to like it in public) do not dare drive here when they come to visit.

Yesterday also, the retaining walls that have been built right in the Mediterranean to shelter two of the largest garbage dump sites around the city of Beirut must have collapsed during the storm a few days ago. One of these dump sites abuts the only civilian airport in the country, and Lebanese hunters are paid by the government every year to commit wholesale massacre of seagulls who feed off the garbage. And the Lebanese woke up this morning to find astronomical quantities of garbage washed off on the beaches about 10 kilometers north of the city.

While the country continues to sink under its own garbage, its mountains continue to be destroyed by sand and rock quarries (owned by politicians or their protégés) that feed the unregulated chaotic building boom that has no demand. Most new buildings lie unoccupied because there are no buyers. The Lebanese continue to rape their own country for money, in complete disregard for health, aesthetics, or any other civilized consideration. Money rules in Lebanon where the vast majority of people entertain a casual anti-semitism in which they criticize Jews for their supposed love for money, while they themselves - the Lebanese - will do anything, will sell anything, will travel the world, will uproot themselves, will sell their mothers, will break the law, will bribe, will cheat... to make money, buy expensive cars, botox their women to death, baboon the West a la cheap and sleazy, and live superficial lives of consumption of things they do not produce themselves.

In fact, right now, as we speak, Steven Spielberg's movie The Post is the subject of a boycott move by people, organizations and political parties because Spielberg is a Jew who supports Israel. Never mind that half of Hollywood is Jewish and that millions of copies of movies made by Jews and whose actors are Jewish circulate in the country. Why all of a sudden is there an awakening to this fact? And why not extend this boycott to anyone who supports Israel, including the US, France, Russia, the EU...who continue to give the Lebanese billions of dollars to keep them from going bankrupt, and weapons to keep the Lebanese army able to chase a few terrorists on the border with Syria (but not on the border with Israel)?

The Lebanese should stop blaming everyone else for their problems and for the dysfunctional country they run. They should blame themselves. But since the Lebanese are really not one homogeneous people with one shared outlook on life, living in sectarian and religious concentration camps that brainwash each group into docile consumers of specific religious fantasies and ignorant myths from the Bronze Age, they can't blame themselves. The Christians blame the Muslims and the Muslims blame the Christians, and they all blame America, the Jews, and the "conspiracies" these two cook up all the time.

It's simple. When you blame someone else, you are transferring the responsibility for your misery onto someone else. You are never responsible for your actions and your decisions. This is what religion does to people: It gives you a way out of assuming your own responsibilities in this world. In Christianity, especially the eastern brands, you do what you want, it doesn't matter, God will forgive you. Actually Jesus is the perfect scapegoat: He took up all your sins, so do not worry. He died so you can freely screw around, cheat, steal, and do all kinds of horrible things. Just "believe" in him, and your horrible sins are forgiven. To be a Christian is to have a license to sin. The only fear you have is to go to hell, which everyone knows deep down that it is a very hypothetical scenario since hell does not really exist. For Muslims, surrender to God is key, which again transfers all responsibility from the individual to God himself. So Muslims do not care for anything, they do not try to change their lives or improve their environment.. It's all "written", it's all "God willing". I have no responsibility whatsoever for the world because only God decides and runs things. So there is no point in trying to change things. In fact, changing things is against God. Fatalism. Glorified nihilism.

The funny thing is that people who reject everything the West stands for - personal freedoms, individual responsibility vis-a-vis the collective, etc. - ignorantly consume every piece of trash that the West produces: Hollywood, plastics, cosmetic surgery, smoking, poisonous chemicals..... They never take the good things from the West. We are condemned to living 30 years behind the West. We do not create anything. We wait for the West to invent something, we first reject it as a decadent product of a decadent West, then 20-30 years later we adopt it without any of the controls that the West has on it. Trash comes to us from the West in its pure form, unregulated, uncontrolled, unsupervised....

And we wonder why 20% of the Lebanese population suffers from some form of cancer.

Monday, January 15, 2018

U S A = United Shitholes of America

Other than the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington), the East Coast (New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut), the mid-Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Delaware...) and the occasional mildly enlightened state or parts thereof here and there,  the bulk of the states in the United States are SHITHOLES OF DEPLORABLE IGNORANT INBRED RACIST WHITE PEASANTS .... and these are the states that elected Donald Dumb: The Deep South, the Midwest, the Rockies states.... Lording it over these United Shitholes of America is the cretin Donald Dumb who resides in the White Outhouse.

Religious Conundrum: Darwin and Free Market Liberalism

Christians in general, and Catholics in particular, live in utter conflict between their declared beliefs on one hand, and what they practice in the reality of their daily lives. Protestants, Muslims, and others have at least recognized this conflict, attempted to find a middle ground but have generally failed, because fundamentally any organization of ideas into an ideology or a creed or a religion cannot institutionalize human happiness and well-being.  On one hand, Christians reject Darwinian selection in principle because it denounces the fallacy of religious texts, but they practice it wholeheartedly in their daily lives and their beloved market economies based on fierce, often inhumane, competition where wealth becomes concentrated in a few hands, leaving billions of people living in hunger and poverty.

Despite the Catholic Church's acquiescence (circa 1994) to teaching Darwinian evolution in its constipated schools, a belated decision of a Church always trailing behind intellectual and scientific advances and evolving social mores, on the grounds that evolution by natural selection is "not counter to Church teachings" on the myth of biblical creation, Darwin's discovery of the undeniable fact of evolution by natural selection continues to inexorably erode the foundation of Bronze Age ignorance upon which Christianity and its sister monotheistic religions are grounded. Catholics are slightly less stupid than the American shithole evangelicals who literally believe the biblical account and whose "creationist fake scientists" calculated the age of the earth to be no more than 6,000 years old. Yet, concepts of free markets and liberalism, which are essentially Darwinian in their propositions, are virulently espoused by those same evangelical imbeciles and by virtually all other religions and religious numskulls around the world. Just as justice is organized revenge, and armies are organized violence, free market liberalism is "organized Darwinism" in which countries, people and organizations compete for resources. Those with military power and money gain more power and money, pilfer shared resources, exploit and impoverish other people leaving them in destitution and dependence, then turn them into "consumers" to whom they sell products they don't need that are made with the very resources they pilfered from them to begin with. That has been the story of modern western liberalism. Western countries today are the beneficiaries of centuries of colonialism during which these countries occupied, mined, stole, subjugated, genocided, and ultimately transferred the wealth of places like Africa, Latin America and Asia to their own countries which they built on the blood, sweat and tears of these other countries and peoples. In doing so, they "taught" their enslaved countries notions of western democracy, undermining preexisting traditional systems that had served for millennia and, upon leaving, created nations torn between tradition and the siren call of liberalism. Today's massive migrations from these formerly colonized nations to western countries are but the fruit of abject free market colonialism.

Ardent defenders of the Catholic Church do not see how they violate every one of their declared religious principles. Poland is a case in point. As a Catholic country which, a couple of years ago, declared Jesus as King of Poland, this central European country  is one of the most anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant xenophobic countries on earth, even as it sends its own millions of poor emigrants to work in places like Germany and the United Kingdom where they themselves suffer xenophobic discrimination. What happened, I ask, to compassion and love, to "love your enemy", "love your neighbor", "turn the other cheek", "share with the disenfranchised, the dispossessed and the poor", and other principles of of the Christian religion?

For example, there is a conflict between an explosive human demography that is gradually ravaging the resources of the planet, and the Catholic Church's ban on using condoms and family planning. Obviously, no condoms means more babies born and more Catholic members inducted forcibly into the Church. The Church wants to keep its demographic advantage, just as Zionists are doing in Palestine, and just as radical Muslims do with their overwhelming birth rates destined to create large Muslim population numbers, regardless of the degraded quality of life and the poverty caused by such large numbers exploiting a limited reservoir of natural resources. The Church asks its adherents to use abstinence to limit childbirths, yet it cannot control the libido of its armies of priests, many of whom entertain lovers of both sexes, beget children, and, as we learned over the past decades, sexually abuse children to gratify their deviated natural sexual urges. Obviously, no condoms means more children victims of sexual assault at the hands and gonads of Catholic priests.

On the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees a few days ago, the President of the wealthy Principality of the Vatican, the so-called "Pope" Francis, called on countries to show mercy to migrants, to meet the person of Jesus-Christ in every migrant and refugee, and to show compassion. Yet, the most vicious anti-migrant, racist and xenophobic countries are devoutly Catholic like Poland, Austria and Hungary. How does one explain this?

Simple. The explanation rests in understanding that the Church is no more than a political organization whose activities include recruitment, preserving its sources of funding, maintaining its influence, brainwashing generations of youngsters into the faith so they become future sources of money and recruitment, etc. This understanding may be reduced to the more universal human conundrum we continue to live with: we know from science that cooperation (i.e. ethics and morality, the Golden Rule) was the core factor in human evolution that made our species so successful. And that factor - cooperation - was the product of our cerebral cortex, our intelligence, that computed for us the overwhelming advantages of helping one another over the disadvantages of killing one another in the race for resources. Long before modern religions and their fantastic myths and stories from the Stone and Bronze Ages, humans understood that living together and helping one another ensures the satisfaction of the ultimate quest of every biological species: reproductive success and survival.

At the same time, we as humans continue to operate on the basis of economic liberalism, which is also profoundly biological and Darwinian. Therefore, religions did not invent the wheel when they claim to be custodians of the moral code; religions merely "organized" existing moral principles that we humans already knew and practiced for tens of thousands of years before any prophet, messiah or other bearded Bronze Age "wise men" emerged from the deserts of the Near East. Admitting that the human species, in all its ethnic, religious, and cultural manifestations, lives in constant conflict between "cooperation" and "competition" relegates religions to sub-biological cultural reaffirmations of what we already know from our biological evolution and constant quest for survival.

When the Pope blasts rich countries or urges them to be generous with poorer people, he is aware that the wealth of these countries, just as his own wealth in the Vatican, is property stolen from the poor. He knows that this wealth was the product of brutal capitalistic free market economies that favored the already rich and further impoverished the poor. And as long as this ruthless capitalism continues to be unleashed on the four corners of the planet, the poor will continue to get poorer, their environments will be depleted and destroyed, their age-old balanced lifestyles will disappear, leaving them with one option: to migrate along the same routes that their own wealth traveled to the bandit rich countries.

I predict that this 21st century will see a return of some form of communism. Christianity in its early days was a form of communism (share everything, abandon the pursuit of money and wealth, live simply....). When Christianity accessed power by becoming the religion of the state (4th century Roman Empire), it got corrupted. Isn't this what happened to the communist revolutions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries when communism became the official ideology of a number of states? The increasing concentration of the bulk of the world's wealth in a few hands and countries, the new digital revolution with its automation of labor, the revolutions against the corrupt rich elites in the governments of virtually every country, the migration of poor people from the south to rich countries of the north, the depletion of natural resources, the destruction of ancestral lifestyles, the pursuit of consumerism as the engine of economic growth, etc...this free ride cannot go on forever. There is not one country on earth today where people do not march in daily protests against corruption. The robotization of labor is expected to send hordes of workers into unemployment over the next few decades, and into the streets. The proposition of paying a "universal salary" to people who do not work, so they stop looking for non-existent jobs, in countries like France is essentially a communist platform. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", said Karl Marx. In other words, work becomes the obligation of the few who perform the few remaining jobs and whose output is distributed to those who do not work.

The backlash has already begun. When the people of rich countries are asked to recycle, they are basically told to question the "unfettered" nature of capitalism. When people are urged not consume more than their need, to keep their carbon footprint small, etc... they are essentially asked to reject the very foundations and mechanisms of competitive wealth production. This disequilibrium between the exuberant drivers of the past and the bluesy restrictions of today augurs a future of instability, revolutions, and uncertainty. I am not aware of any projections as to the Malthusian capacity of the planet: At which point will the explosive human demography strain the planet sufficiently to tilt the balance toward major extinctions, wars, diseases, deprivation, great migrations, and ultimately to the collapse of the ecosystem?

I, for one, don't think prayers will help. This will not be the "religious" end of times, nor will it be the alarmist "environmentalist"'s ecological collapse. Why? The earth has been sustaining life for billions of years. Billions and billions of organisms and species have appeared and gone extinct. Humans are simply one species at this particular snap second of the history of the planet. Our disappearance, and the disappearance of millions of other species with us, will not be the end of anything. It will be a new beginning for new life forms, for new ecosystems. Biological life has this ability to fill any niche that suddenly becomes empty. New forms, new species, new life will emerge to fill the void we leave in this purposeless universe. New physical climatic conditions will favor new forms of life that are more adapted to these new conditions.

The adaptive advantage that the cerebral cortex gave Homo sapiens over other species has a price. Our brain always requires an answer. When no obvious answer is available, humans turn to the weird, the odd, the fantastic to come up with any answer, regardless of whether it is actually true. And that is why "religion" is a universal feature of all human civilizations: Religion is an attempt by our brain at explaining the un-explainable. Science is undermining religion by providing "real" answers to our questioning brains. Five centuries ago, the "answer" to the plague dilemma was the "wrath of God"; people then did not know bacteria existed. Today, when the plague strikes, religious idiots continue to invoke the wrath of God, but the enlightened educated people know it is bad hygiene, rats, and the bug Yersinia pestis.

Another consequence of our inquisitive cerebral cortex is our solipsism, which is our unconscious belief that we, humans, are the center of the universe. Just like religion, this is an outlandish and ignorant belief forced on us by our brain to explain why we are different from the other species. But know this: I am sure there will be a time in the future when Homo sapiens would have disappeared, and a new life form would dominate the earth. That new life form wouldn't even know that the Homo sapiens species once existed. If we accept our insignificance in the real scheme of things and abandon our solipsism, we might start to live happy peaceful lives, to share resources, to end wars, to cooperate more than we compete, knowing that it all will end one day. It is truly an existential dilemma, for neither competition nor cooperation will in the end succeed against the inevitable decline of our species.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Beloved Third-World Lebanon and its Carcinogens

They keep us busy with circuit breakers tripping between the electric Mafia's generators and the electricity produced by an incompetent corrupt tri-cephalic government and all its oh-so-very-religious followers.

They keep us busy with buying plastic-bottled water from the water Mafia while our abundant natural rainfall devastates our streets and homes as it runs to the sea, dragging with it our top soil that keeps our trees and forests alive.

They keep us busy with their ego-driven stupid fights over decrees and ministerial signatures.

Now that the advanced world has already proclaimed the end of fossil fuels within a decade or two, and its replacement with renewable energy like solar, wind, hydro- and others, we have ignorant Lebanese government officials declaring Lebanon a "petroleum country" in anticipation of extracting offshore oil and gas in a decade or two! Not to mention the corruption that will pilfer yet another natural resource, and the ensuing filthy pollution of our shores and seafronts already polluted with plastics and acid rain from car fumes.

They scapegoat the Syrian refugees as the source of all our aliments. How convenient. When the Syrians were ruling us, they blamed the Syrians. Now that the Syrians are destitute refugees, the Lebanese blame the Syrians. You see, it is never the fault of the Lebanese, for they are blameless, pure, infallible, as they lap up every ounce of money they come across, in complete disregard for ethical considerations or moral integrity.

They destroy their own environment, decapitating - a la primitive Fattoush Clan of Zahlé - the very mountaintops that are at the heart of this country's ethos, just to make rocks and sand with which they build all the ugly concrete buildings that dot the landscape without any thought for urbanism, aesthetics, communal living and other non-monetary considerations.

They destroy their own environment with dirty filthy plastics industries built along the rivers in which they discharge their toxic chemicals without any regulation whatsoever.

They allow the filthiest diesel fuel on earth to power buses, cars, vans and the very trucks that transport the rocks and the sand they extract from the scarred mountaintops and mountainsides. Try getting stuck behind a truck or a bus spewing its black smoke right in your face on the narrow mountain roads that are absolutely unmarked and chaotic.

Even the multitude of Lebanese religions and sects that brandish fake moral standards does not deter the Lebanese from the vulgar pursuit of money with which to buy more and larger cars that pollute the very air we breathe and the food that we eat. And the tri-cephalic government of Aoun, Berri and Hariri keeps building more roads over the few left pristine forests, instead of a major overhaul for clean and reliable public transportation as is the case in advanced countries.

These religions and sects are organized like business corporations, owning enormous swaths of real estate and running empires of expensive private schools (where they indoctrinate the children against the other religions and sects, of course), hospitals (where prayers to saints and hope for miracles are preferred therapy over genuine science), and other businesses that deliberately undermine every attempt by the State to improve its own impoverished and mediocre schools, hospitals and other services that are usually the best in advanced countries.

They (e.g. Aoun) for decades claimed to be rebels against the feudal conservative sectarian establishment. Yet, no sooner have they reached power that they built their own feudal, familial, sectarian political farm.

They (e.g. Jumblatt) pretend to be socialists and progressive, yet in our face transmit power to their sons, sons-in-law, daughters, and wives in medieval ceremonies - not elections - in which the new Lord is sworn in as his tribe pledges its allegiance. Taymour Jumblatt - يقبرني - the fils-a-Papa Walid Jumblatt has now inherited his father's political mantle. His "election" will be the last - not the first - nail in the coffin of democracy, socialism and progressive ideas, after the genetic transmission and the tribal pledges of allegiance. Jumblatt is not the only one. By far.

Gemayel, Chamoun, Salam, Karami, Aoun, Hariri, Mouawwad, Frangiyeh.... are the names of some of the familial political farms founded on the premise that a sperm (rarely an egg) can carry the political wisdom of a father's entire life and experience in political treachery and savagery. For most of these names have 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 50 years ago, led their sectarian and tribal hordes into religious massacres and ethnic cleansings, and their sons will in all likelihood in the foreseeable future as well lead the country down another path of mayhem and plunder. And they all do it, without exception, in collusion with foreign protector countries and in complete subservience to the religious corporations that run the show in the name of God, his saints, mullahs, patriarchs, bishops, messsiahs, mahdis, sheikhs, imams, priests, nuns, and others in the rank and file of these religious corporations whose pretense to serve God is a smokescreen for gaining and maintaining a profitable grip of people's lives.

These familial political farms, of course, do not send their sons and daughters to serve in the army, except occasionally to enter the Officers School by WASTA, or influence-peddling, and serve in comfortable administrative military posts. Meanwhile, the bulk of Lebanon's army is staffed by the poor disenfranchised poorly-educated lower classes for whom the army is the only secure employment they can find, and against which they risk their lives dying for illusory ideas of nationalism and duty that keeps them chained like a herd of sheep.

Below is an opinion expressed in today's Arabic-language Lebanon Files website (The English translation follows the Arabic text below). []. It is entitled: ALL THE LEBANESE WILL DIE OF CANCER BECAUSE OF THESE REASONS:

كل الشعب اللبناني سيموت من السرطان لهذه الأسباب

ليبانون فايلز

في جولة سريعة في أي مستشفى في لبنان يمكن ملاحظة عشرات مرضى السرطان الذي يخضعون لعلاجات ولعمليات جراحية، وفي كل عائلة في لبنان بات هناك شخص مريض بالسرطان ونسبة هذا المرض ترتفع في لبنان بشكل كبير وغير مسبوق، لماذا؟

ما يحصل هو اننا بتنا نعيش في بيئة مسرطنة، وهذا المرض الخبيث بات يعيش بيننا ونتنشقه ونتناوله يوميا الى حين تمكنه بخبث من دخول الجسم واختراق ونهش الأعضاء، وللأسف يتم اكتشافه في مراحل متقدمة جدا، وبات لا يفرق بين طفل وشاب ورجل وكهل.

هواء لبنان وخصوصا مدينة بيروت ملوث، وإذا نظرت الى بيروت من مكان مرتفع لا يمكنك ان تراها بسبب الغيمة السوداء التي تطوقها يوميا حتى في ايام الشتاء، وبين المنازل بات هناك معامل تحمل تراخيص مثل معامل الكهرباء ومعامل الإسمنت التي تبث سمومها بشكل متواصل وتصيب اللبنانيين بسرطان الجهاز التنفسي.

الشعب اللبناني يعيش بين مطامر النفايات في الجديدة وفي برج حمود والكوستابرافا والناعمة وحبالين، وباتت مكبات النفايات اليوم في كل بلدة ومدينة وحي، ولا يمكن ان ننسى كم بقيت النفايات في شوارعنا ومنازلنا، فهذه النفايات تتسبب بأمراض سرطانية بسبب تنشقها وبسبب وصولها الى المياه الجوفية.

المياه التي نشربها ملوثة لان المياه الجوفية في لبنان وصلت اليها المواد السامة التي رميت في المكبات، كما ان الرقابة على شركات تعبئة المياه ظرفية وليست دائمة، وهذه الامور هي من مسببات السرطان.

الطعام الفاسد والمواد الغذائية المزورة، فيوميا نسمع بأخبار ونشاهد صور مخيفة لما يباع في المطاعم والمتاجر ليأكله المواطن، فاللحوم هي من ابرز مسببات السرطان في الأمعاء، فكيف لو كانت ايضا منتهية الصلاحية كما يحصل في لبنان؟

الخضار الذي نأكله من سهل البقاع مروي بمياه آسنة اي مياه المجارير الآتية من نهر الليطاني، والامور لا تتوقف على المجارير في الليطاني إذ ان نسبة تلوثه لا تسمح بوضع اليد فيه لأكثر من ثانية واحدة، لان كل المصانع والشركات ترمي المواد السامة فيه، والخضار ينمو وهو يحمل مواد مسرطنة.

فعلا بتنا نتناول السرطان يوميا بطرق مختلفة، ونتجرعه على دفاعات ونصاب به، وهل تسألون لماذا هناك في كل عائلة شخص يموت من المرض الذي يقول له اللبناني "من هيداك المرض"؟.

All the Lebanese will die of cancer because of these reasons:
Tuesday 09 January 2018
Lebanon Files

Take a quick tour to any hospital in Lebanon and watch dozens of cancer patients receiving treatment and surgery. Each family in Lebanon has one member stricken with cancer, and the prevalence of this disease is rising in a major and unprecedented manner. Why?

What is happening is that we have come to live in a carcinogenic environment, and this terrible disease lives amongst us; we breathe it and we eat, and it insidiously enters our bodies and devours our organs and tissues. Unfortunately, it is often discovered in its very advanced stages, not discriminating between child, young person, adult and the elderly.

Lebanon’s air, especially in Beirut, is polluted. Just look at Beirut from an elevated place and you won’t be able to see it because of the black cloud hovering over it each and every day, even in winter. There are licensed factories nestled among the houses, including electricity generators and cement factories that day in and day out spew their poisons, causing cancer in the respiratory systems of the Lebanese.

The Lebanese live among waste dump sites and landfills in Jdeideh, Bourj Hammoud, Costa Brava, Naameh, and Hbaline. Today, garbage dump sites exist in every town, city and neighborhood. How can we forget how long the garbage remained in our streets and homes? This waste causes cancers because we inhale it and because it has seeped into our groundwater. The water we drink is polluted because Lebanon’s groundwater has been polluted with the toxic chemicals that are discarded in the landfills. Oversight of water-bottling companies is sporadic and not permanent, and this is one of the causes of cancer in Lebanon.

Spoiled food and fake foodstuffs are also in our lives. On a daily basis we hear news and watch terrifying pictures of what is being sold in restaurants and stores for the citizens to eat. Meats are among the most prominent carcinogens of the gut, let alone if their shelf-life has expired, as happens in Lebanon?

The vegetables we eat from the Bekaa Valley are irrigated with wastewater, i.e. sewer water coming from the Litani River. But things do not end with the sewers in the Litani River; its water is so polluted that you can’t put your hand in it from more than a second, because all the factories and companies discard their toxic waste in the river, and so the vegetables grow loaded with carcinogens.

We have come to eat cancer daily in multiple ways. We take it in gradual doses and we are stricken with it. So why wonder why there is in every family a person dying of cancer, this disease the Lebanese refer to as “that other disease”?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Lebanon's Holy Men and their Fingers

"Sayyid" [Lord in Arabic] Hassan Nasrallah and "Mar" [Lord in Aramaic] Charbel cannot be more different from one another. Hassan is a Muslim Shiite clergyman, Charbel is a Maronite Catholic Christian ascetic monk. Hassan is a political leader, Charbel is a saint, a religious figure. Hassan has a militia and he, in all likelihood, hates non-Shiite Muslims, especially the Saudi Sunni Wahhabi sect. Charbel never had a militia and no one knows whom he hated, but it is possible that, as a minority Christian Catholic in this Near East, he hated Orthodox Christians, Protestants and probably Muslims in general.

Yet these two figures share one feature, other than their Lebanese identity, donning beards, and wearing ample flowing robes and strange hats and headgear: From statues and photographs and other representations, you cannot help but notice that they most often have one arm raised, topped by an index finger pointing even higher. Since we have no "live" pictures of Mar Charbel, I am not sure whether his raised index finger ever moved, but Hassan is always wagging his index finger when he appears on television and delivers his fiery angry speeches against Saudis, Israelis, Americans, Sunni takfiris (loosely translated as "apostasy accusers") and others whom he considers to be plotting against (his version of) the Islamic Umma.

Even Donald Dumb, the current president of the US who can barely read, whose eyes cannot digress from the teleprompter during his speeches written by someone else for him, and who strains and pauses as he reads from the teleprompter, even this jackass wags his hand and occasionally his finger when he is perched on the podium.

Donald Dumb has amply told us that no one does things better than him, no one has bigger "nuclear buttons", among other things, than he does. No one knows anything at all better than he does; so he claims. He even referred to himself as "a stable genius". I am not sure how a second rate construction contractor like this idiot knows so much and better than anyone else, but psychologists, psychiatrists and US Congress members are currently debating whether the moron Donald (as Rex Tillerson and most of those working in the White Outhouse refer to him) is indeed a cretin who is unfit to be in the White Outhouse. So much for Donald Dumb, for he is not my main focus here, but he does lend credibility to the arrogance of index finger raising.

I am no physiognomy expert or body language translator, but let me venture into guessing what this finger wagging means. First, as a child, finger-wagging often came from strict schoolteachers who were scolding us, or sermonizing priests and nuns who were driving guilt deeper into us. It implies that these "wise" people know stuff you don't and they are trying to teach it to you. Actually, the beard - a universal feature of wise men across all religions, except for modern Western adaptations of religion - is supposed to impart the perception of wisdom onto the person because the beard means "old", i.e. experienced or knowledgeable. Also, the flowing robes do - for some reason - contribute as well to the perception of all-knowing or all-communicating-with-God. All prophets of biblical trash are represented as having beards. So anyone wanting to pretend to be wise, in communication with God, and a fountain of divinely-revealed authority, should adopt index finger wagging, not shaving, and wearing ample flowing robes in their persona.

Index finger raising and wagging implies that the holy man is leading you, is telling truths you are ignorant of, is transmitting wisdom gained from up high. Just as our teachers, both lay and religious, especially the nasty ones, used to lecture us by wagging their index fingers threateningly about our conduct, while they secretly engaged in behavior and conduct fitting the definition of such crimes as child abuse, as the Catholic Church's records have in recent decades showed the world that the majority of celibate men who "are called to the ministry" or "hear the voice of God", and join the priesthood are child sexual abusers. No one knows if they a priori know they like children as sexual objects, i.e. they willfully join the priesthood for that specific purpose, or whether having innocently heard the call of God, they discover post facto that children are an easy and abundantly available target for them to satisfy their natural sexual urges without in principle breaking their vows of celibacy that, by definition, refer strictly to their marrying women. One wonders if the same index finger that these child abusers wag at their faithful in the church as they sermonize them, is the same finger they use on the victims.

In any case, Hassan and Charbel both claim divine authority descended upon them and mandated by such authority to transmit said divine wisdom on the rest of us. Hence the raised arm and index finger represent authority, just as the turbans and other strange headgear church and mosque leaders wear to signal and signify their authority.

Next time I give a public speech or a lecture, I will let my beard grow, wear a strange hat and a robe, and wag my index finger at my audience. I might become successful.




Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Decentralization in Lebanon: Getting Government out of the Private Sector

One of the bad habits Lebanon inherited from the French Mandate between 1920 and 1943 is the highly centralized structure of the State and the concept of the State as people's deep-pocket mother. Problem is that anything the Lebanese borrow or learn from other countries or cultures gets distorted, ill-implemented and corrupted.

President Emmanuel Macron is steering France away from this centralized model and opening the door for liberalism and decentralization.

In Anglo-Saxon cultures, the United States in particular, the government does not interfere in the affairs of the private sector. The idea is to let the market make the selection of what works and what does not. If you are a private school, for example, in the US, you decide what salaries, what vacations, and what benefits your teachers get, and what education your students get and what tuition their parents pay. If parents don;t like it, they go elsewhere. If teachers don't like it, they too go work elsewhere.

In Lebanon,the government tells private schools how to operate (from their programs to their teachers salaries...). Private schools are virtually all religious schools run by Christian religious orders and Muslim religious organizations and charities. Because religion dominates every aspect of Lebanese social and political life, the religious orders are very powerful and actually fight to eliminate public schools in their areas and so seek a monopoly over education. The downside of this is that public schools (and that includes the Lebanese National University system) are poorly funded, poorly run, and are generally seen as mediocre by the average Lebanese who send their children to private schools run by priests, nuns, and the like.

The religious orders are also very wealthy. They own the best real estate in the country, and there is no hilltop left that the religious organizations have not built on it their sprawling monasteries, churches, schools, hospitals and the like. The religious orders are essentially huge business conglomerates that rake enormous sums of money from a captive population that cannot rely on the mediocre state services and have to put up with the mistreatment by the religious orders and pay exorbitant medical an school fees to get medical care and schooling for their children.

Now this ensures that the religious orders continue to brainwash the average ignorant Lebanese into adhering to his/her religious sect and remain forever enslaved by these so-called servants of God with anachronistic ideas and primitive religious beliefs. This perpetuates the ignorance of the population and the continued division of Lebanese society into sectarian concentration camps where people are trapped from the day they are born to the day they die. It makes people never ever think that they could free themselves from the religious dinosaurs and be served by, and hold accountable, a neutral State to whom they pay taxes.

One recent example of this state of affairs is the recently passed new law by the Lebanese government to raise the salaries of all public and private school teachers. As a result, the private religious schools decided to raise their tuition fees, hoping to benefit financially by skimming from the salaried parents whatever gains they earned from their employment raises.

At this time, the parents refuse to pay the tuition increases, which prompted the religious schools to refuse to pay the salary raises to their teachers. Even more bluntly, the religious dinosaurs want the State to pay for the differential between their higher tuition fees (which parents can no longer afford) and the salary raises to their teachers. This is typical of this dysfunctional country where the private interests run the show, leaving the State as the poor relative. The State should not pay the private religious schools any money. The religious schools should fend for themselves, decide what tuition fees to impose and what salaries to pay their teachers, and live with the consequences. Whatever the outcome of this stalemate, what the Lebanese fail to realize that they do have other options. By sending their children to public schools, they will starve the religious monsters, save themselves huge sums of money (public schools are free), force the State to better fund its public schools, and tell or hold their parliamentarians accountable in the coming legislative elections to increase funding for the public schools which will over time become better schools that put the religious schools out of business, just as is the case in countries like France and Germany.

The government should NOT pay any dime to the religious orders and their schools or hospitals or other business enterprises. The State should allocate these monies to upgrading and fixing public education across the country, which would bring in more students into the public schools. This in turn would reduce the sectarian divisions and lead the Lebanese towards a national identity that is free from the filth of religious sectarian identities. Education is an example of all other sectors of commerce and social life in this country. As long as the public system is poorly funded and shunned aside as the poor relative of the private system, the country will remain hostage to the religious dominance of life in Lebanon. This should be the future of education in Lebanon. One in which the government takes its hands off the private religious schools and let these fend for themselves in the market place. Other areas include the personal status system which is entirely sequestered by the religious organizations. Civil marriage, divorce, inheritance..... all are in the hands of the religious orders who mistreat people and pilfer them of their money at every turn in their personal lives.

The Lebanese people must understand that they live in religious cages, in concentration camps operated by the religious enterprises that work day and night to undermine the State and prevent the emergence of civil institutions to replace the religious monopolies. The sad aspect of all this is that the Lebanese educate their children knowing that they will dispatch them abroad as expats who work and send money back home. The country is so poorly structured that the educational system produces large numbers of trained individuals who know they will not find work here at home. And the religious schools don't give a damn where the students end up after they educate them, as long as their parents pay tuition fees.

France and the United States are finally learning from their own disparate experiences. France is highly centralized, while the US is highly decentralized. Two extremes. They are finally learning from the German model which has struck a perfect balance between the extremes. Not everyone needs to get a university degree. We do not need thousands of highly educated people, on whom we spend tons of money to educate them, knowing they will find no work after university. The Germans gradually filter out their students as they go through the educational system, leaving only a handful to go to university. The others are channeled into technical training programs inside private companies as "interns" where they learn hands-on whatever trade the company does, and then earn decent salaries because of heir highly skilled training. The universities are not overburdened with thousands of students who graduate with useless degrees. This is the secret behind the German economic miracle. Both Macron of France and the dumbass Trump of the US are embarking on replicating the German model to their economies.

The Lebanese government is not, and should not be, responsible for the welfare of the private schools. Its job and responsibility is to better manage education (like the Germans do) and upgrade the public school and university systems, so that young Lebanese get the appropriate training to fill jobs needed by the economy. Has anyone noticed that there is a pharmacy in Lebanon every 50 yards, just as there are doctors in every corner of every building of every block of every street of every city. Does Lebanon need all these pharmacies and doctors? Of course not. What Lebanon needs is trained builders, carpenters, masons, electricians, bankers, teachers, and other professionals and craftsmen who are paid decent salaries. Perhaps one day we will no longer hire cheap foreign labor from Syria and elsewhere to fill jobs that the Lebanese would want to do because they pay decent salaries. All that the State needs to do is to treat its people with the dignity they deserve. Unfortunately, the Lebanese pray to the same God that the religious institutions pretend to serve and get nothing in return except primitive backward ignorant beliefs, instead of staging a revolt against the religious dinosaurs and believing in their own government that they themselves elect. Has any Lebanese ever voted for a Patriarch or a Bishop? No. So why do these unelected clergymen pretend to represent me and my interests as a citizen?