ThysdrusRoman Coliseum of El-Jem

Panem et Circensis

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Location: Tunis, Tunisia, Tunisia

Friday, December 30, 2005

Short Hiatus

Starting today, I will be away just for the weekend. I am going to New York city to visit some friends and of course celebrate the New Year with them. I am not sure if I will be able to do some posting during that time, unless I find something interesting to write about. Until then I wish you a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Maghreb Blog Review XI

The December Maghreb Blog Review column can be read here.

NB: To be clear,I am not engaging in any "gratuitous propaganda" action for Magharebia. It is out of my personal and modest effort to inform the Maghreb blogosphere of what is going on in the WWW, including Magharebia.

Quote Of The Day

"Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. The audience that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance."

~William O. Douglas

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Deal Or No Deal

This is the name of an entertainment program, I came across yesterday watching NBC TV Channel and which, I guess, you are familiar with. This program is the american version of a widely known show broadcasted in nearly 35 countries such as the French version " A prendre ou à Laisser" or our Tunisian version " Delilek Mlek" by entertainer Sami El Fehri. Not being really a fan of this kind of programs, I found the american version to some extent original. The show consists in the following:

A contestant is confronted with 26 sealed briefcases full of varying amounts of cash -- ranging from a measly penny to $1 million dollars. Without knowing the amount in each briefcase, the contestant picks one -- his to keep, if he chooses, until its unsealing at game's end.

The risk element of the game kicks in when the player must then instinctively eliminate the remaining 25 cases - which are opened and the amount of cash inside revealed. The pressure mounts as in each round, after a pre-determined number of cases are opened, the participant is tempted by a mysterious entity known only as "The Bank" to accept an offer of cash in exchange for what might be contained in the contestant's chosen briefcase - prompting the entertainer to ask the all-important question - Deal or No Deal?
The originality of this show is that 27 gorgeous models carry the cash briefcases instead of other contestants. The contestant is helped by members of his family who like the audience has an important influence on the contestant's decision making.

Courting Israel

In this article, Ashraf Fahim, a freelance writer on Middle Eastern affairs, based in New York City, discusses the recent attempts by some Arab and Muslim countries to get closer to Israel.He argues that
doing so while Israel continues to oppress the Palestinians is not only immoral, but also potentially dangerous to the long-term national interest of those countries involved. Normalization is being pushed by unelected elites under conspicuous U.S. pressure.
He later cites the point of view of a Kuwaiti commentator Ahmad al-Sarraf who defended the "normalization" steps by saying
"We can only help the Palestinians by talking to Israel" for "How can you exert any pressure on someone by not recognizing them?".
Mr. al-Sarraf added that
"We can't be more Palestinian than the Palestinians" The Palestinians talk to Israel,so there is no reason Kuwait should not.

The author of the article, who does not buy Mr. al-Sarraf's comments, concluded by saying that,
the normalization racket is a bait and switch the Arab and Muslim publics have seen before...Until there are substantive negotiations for an equitable peace, normalization may be imposed from above but it will not be embraced from below.
( Via Daily Star)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Australian Imams To Set Guidlines For Religious Figures

"Moderate leader Yasser Soliman yesterday backed the need to regulate and censor Muslim clerics, saying there was growing concern that Muslims "having read a few books in their back yard" were too often claiming "they're somehow sheiks, or imams, or clerics".

Under a plan being devised by moderate Muslim leaders -- and revealed in The Australian yesterday -- a new national board of imams would register clerics and set guidelines for religious figures, including setting qualification levels."

(Via The Australian)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Tsunami, One Year Later.

On this same day of December, 26, 2004, the Indian ocean witnessed a horrible earthquake followed by a tragic Tsunami that killed 280,000 people and left more than a million without homes with some 15,000 people who are still missing.

Tunisian Blog Awards Final Results

Here are the results of the Tunisian Blog Awards for 2005. Congratulations to all the winners and good luck to those who didn't make it this time. El 3ibra bilmoucherka. ( Via Subzero Blue)

Santa Claus In The Land Of The Samurai

I came across this funny anime video via You Tube. It's hilarious! Check it out. (contains some adult language).

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Arab Media & The West

Rami Al Khouri at The Daily Star, has a neat article on how Arab media is perceived in the West with a focus on the United States. Mr. Khouri believes that
The U.S., Israel and others understandably dislike the criticisms of their policies that they see and hear on Arab television. To respond by attacking the Arab journalist messengers who carry the bad news, however, rather than addressing the contentious underlying political problems between the U.S., Israel and the Arab world, is a sign of political amateurism and personal emotionalism.

However, he acknowledges the fact that
There are many valid criticisms of these still young Arab television services, such as their limited probing of their own national power structures, and lack of in-depth investigative journalism. Whatever we do, though, we should act like adults in this analytical process, by separating the three distinctly different phenomena of professional assessments, political irritations, and emotional anxieties.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Tunisian Mosaics Exhibit At The Brooklyn Museum

My friend Don Jim linked, via Cranky Professor, to an interesting figurative art exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, NY. The exhibit titled "Tree of Paradise: Jewish Mosaics from the Roman Empire" features a number of mosaics that happen to be found in Hammam Lif, Tunisia.

Tarek at Reflections on Islamic Art and Architecure has also a piece up on the same subject with some historical notes on the art of mosaics in Tunisia.

I am looking forward to visiting this exhibit next weekend during my stay in New York.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year 2006!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Quote Of The Day

"War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands."

~H. L. Mencken

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Maghreb Blog Review X

Here is Magharebia's current Maghreb blog review column.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Crossing The Bridge With (Of) Sighs

Reuters- Commuters pack the Brooklyn Bridge during the evening rush hour in New York, December 20, 2005. New York's subways and buses were brought to a halt on Tuesday by the city's first mass transit strike for 25 years, and a court fined the union leading it $1 million a day for every day they are off the job.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tamara de Lempicka
Mother Superior,1939
oil on canvas 22x27cm
Nantes, Musee des Beuax-Arts

Tunisian Blogger Awards 2005

Well,I've been nominated in two categories in the Tunisian Blogger Awards for 2005: The Best Blog and The Best General Information one. Final Results are scheduled for December 26 so it's time that you make your mind and vote!

The Day Music Die

In another rediculous and eerie decision, Iran's hardliner,Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has banned all western music ( including classical music!) from Iran's state radio and television something that reminds us of the 1979 Cultural Decadence, sorry Revolution, when music in Iran was outlawed as "unIslamic".This is really outrageous but you know Iran's President is aware of the fact that he is under pressure both domestically and internationally and that he needed much more poupular support, especially from those hardliners like him.

Monday, December 19, 2005

French Tongue-Twisters

I found these french tongue-twisters really funny. Check them out!

My favorites:

Gal, amant de la reine, alla, tour magnanime, galamment de l'arène à la tour Magne à Nîmes.

C'est l'évadé du Nevada qui dévalait dans la vallée, dans la vallée du Nevada, qu'il dévalait pour s'évader, sur un vilain vélo volé, qu'il a volé dans une villa, et le valet qui fut volé vit l'évadé du Nevada qui dévalait dans la vallée, dans la vallée du Nevada, qu'il dévalait pour s'évader sur un vilain vélo volé.

Tunis-Hebdo Article On Tunisian Blogosphere

On December 12, 2005, our Tunisian friend at Kartago News [ by the way we have the same blogger name: Hannibal:)], has posted something on an article by Tunis-Hebdo,a weekly newspaper, about the Tunisian blogosphere which you can read here. In this article the following Tunisian bloggers were mentioned: "La rebelle blog", "Hou-Hou blog" and "Psyché des clics".

Pope Speaks Out On France's Recent Riots

In an address during an audience with the new French ambassador to the Vatican Pope Benedict XVI,said that
France had to heed the warning from the riots that rocked cities across the country last month and urged the French to do more to promote racial integration.
He added that
immigrants had brought "economic, cultural and social richness" to France which now had the challenge of living up to its values of equality and fraternity by taking "an extra step toward integration".

Sunday, December 18, 2005

La Giocanda's Mysterious Half-Smile

Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Mona Lisa or La Giocanda, is still a subject of intrigue and an object of experimentation by researchers and art historians.
In a fun demonstration of technology rather than a serious scientific experiment,Dutch researchers scanned a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece and subjected it to cutting-edge "emotion recognition'' software, developed in collaboration with the University of Illinois.

The result showed the painting's famous subject was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful and 2 percent angry. She was less than 1 percent neutral, and not at all surprised.

The Cowboy Myth

Today's New York Times, has a piece up on the recently released and quite controversial movie "Brokeback Mountain". The author indicates that What has gone missing is that this is also that rare American film that seamlessly breaches the divide between the political and the personal, the past and the present. Here, against the backdrop of the great American West, that mythic territory of rugged individualism and the Marlboro Man, is a quietly devastating look at masculinity and its discontents.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Just Relaxing

I got nothing interesting to post today. I am just relaxing.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Quote Of The Day

"There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart."

~Charles Dickens

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Other Side Of Switzerland

Yesterday, the french speaking TV Channel TV5,aired an intresting documentary on the plight of African immigrants in Switzerland and how they suffer from racial discrimination just because of the color of their skin.The TV documentary reports the journey of a Senegalese citizen, Gorgui NDOYE, a journalist at "Le Soleil du Sénégal" and someone who knows his Switzerland very well. Gorgui, using a hidden camera, will experience the various facets of racial discrimination while looking for an apartment, a job and his desire to spend sometime at a nightclub. Watch the video here.

Lyrics Of The Day

Ceux qui vivent, ce sont ceux qui luttent

Ceux qui vivent, ce sont ceux qui luttent ; ce sont
Ceux dont un dessein ferme emplit l'âme et le front.
Ceux qui d'un haut destin gravissent l'âpre cime.
Ceux qui marchent pensifs, épris d'un but sublime.
Ayant devant les yeux sans cesse, nuit et jour,
Ou quelque saint labeur ou quelque grand amour.
C'est le prophète saint prosterné devant l'arche,
C'est le travailleur, pâtre, ouvrier, patriarche.
Ceux dont le coeur est bon, ceux dont les jours sont pleins.
Ceux-là vivent, Seigneur ! les autres, je les plains.

Victor HUGO (1802-1885) (Recueil : Les châtiments)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Maghreb Blog Review IX

This time Magharebia focuses its Maghreb blog review column on the political and social climate that reigned over the Middle East and North Africa in the last couple of weeks or so and how Maghreb bloggers are taking charge of their fate. Strangely enough and to my surprise the author of this review has singled out a post by our friend Zizou as a starting point, adding various and in most cases unrelated comments to finally fabricate a whole story out of it! Good Job!

P.S: this post has been redited.

Hollywood and Washington Sprung From The Same DNA

I contributed this post to maghreblog.

U.S. Among Countries Jailing Journalists

According to a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists,(CPJ), the United States has tied with Myanmar, the former Burma, for sixth place among countries that are holding the most journalists behind bars. ( Via The New York Times)

Remembering Ibn Khaldoun (1332-1406)

Algeria will commemorate Ibn Khaldoun's 600th death anniversary.I wonder if the death of this tunisian born histographer, historian and forerunner of modern sociology and economics would be commemorated as well in Tunisia.

Side note: Oumelkheir has a neat biographical account of the famous thinker Ibn Khaldoun.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hostility To Atheism In America

Based on a July 7, 2005 Pew Research Center poll, Volokh, concludes that hostility to atheism in America seems remarkable, and quite troubling.

A July 7, 2005 Pew Research Center poll, for instance, asked people about their views of various religious and political grounds, and whether "your overall opinion of [the group] is very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?" For Catholics, the total unfavorable percentage was 14%; for Jews, 7%; for "Evangelical Christians," 19%; for "Muslim Americans," 25%; for "Atheists, that is, people who don't believe in God," it was 50%, including 28% "very unfavorable" (only 35% said they had either a "very favorable" or "mostly favorable" view of atheists).

( Via Sploid)

Update: A new Gallup survey released today finds that four decades after the "God Is Dead" controversy was first noted, Americans retain a strong belief in a higher power. Some 94% think God exists.

(Via Drudge)

15 Years Of World Wide Web

15 years ago, the World Wide Web, was launched by Tim Berners-Lee.CNN has a piece up on this impressive multimedia branch of the Internet besides a look at the top ten "Web Moments" in the history of W.W.W.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Australia's Neo-Nazim

Over the weekend, the city of Sydney witnessed a series of violent incidents fueled by racial backlash and attacks against people from Middle Eastern descent. Australian authorities said white supremacists and neo-Nazis were among those involved in the attacks.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Miraculous Quran

Our friend The Moor Next Door, links to an interesting interview with Syrian Professor Muhammad Rateb Al-Nabouls, where the latter states that the Quran includes Einstein's theory referring to the verse: "A day in the Lord's reckoning is like a thousand years in your reckoning." (Surat Al Haj 22:46)

You can watch a video clip of this interview here ( via MEMRI TV)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Human Rights Day

"Today, on Human Rights Day, let us recommit ourselves to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and let us rededicate ourselves to wiping the scourge of torture from the face of the earth."

~From the message of Kofi Annan,United Nations Secretary-General, on the occasion of the celebration of Human Rights Day, December 10, 2005.

Quote Of The Day

"It is hard to tell the truth, hiding the truth is even harder"


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Amb. John Bolton Threatens To Block UN Budget

Today's Washington Times reports that the US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, threatened to block the international organization's budget, if the latter fails to introduce reforms.Republican members of Congress said they are ready to back Mr. Bolton up if changes aren't made Congressman Tom Lantos, D-California, has expressed his opposition to Ambassador Bolton's approach and said that reforms are critical but Mr. Bolton might be going about it the wrong way.

Mayor Williams Opposes Smoking Ban In DC

Reacting to the DC Council legislation to ban smoking in the City, Mayor Anthony A. Williams released the following statment:
I support stronger health protections for workers in the District. Therefore, I am willing to support a smoking ban in most workplaces, including banks, educational facilities, health care facilities, public transportation facilities, retail stores, reception areas, waiting rooms, Laundromats, and the like. At the same time, I cannot support a 100 percent smoking ban that would include our restaurants and bar establishments. These are establishments that cater to our residents and visitors, and it is my belief that a 100 percent smoking ban would result in economic harm for these businesses, particularly smaller neighborhood establishments.
( Via Dappled Things)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Maghreb Blog Review VIII

Magharebia's latest Maghreb Blog Review focuses on the widening of the region's blogosphere with the emergence of the Libyan blogger community.The review points as well to the North African blogosphere's reactions and thoughts on the occasion of the World AIDS Day ( December 1st).

Blogging The Maghreb

I came across this neat and frankly quite absorbing blog via The Moor Next Door.The blog owner, an American, who is blogging the Maghreb region with all its different components and complexities, seems to be someone with a strong interest in North Africa and one who has a quite remarkable knowledge of the various issues pertaining to the region. The blogger is also following what is going on in the Maghreb blogosphere. Although I don't really agree with some of the blogger's standpoints, I thought his blog is worth visiting. Just check it for yourself and make your own judgements.

Smoking Ban In Washington, DC

The Express ,a daily publication of The Washington Post reports that, The DC Council on Tuesday voted 12-1 to ban smoking from bars, restaurants and other indoor public places in the District. According to the Express, the measure would make all restaurant eating-areas smoke free at the time of enactment but would give bars, clubs, taverns and the bar areas of restaurants until 2007 to go smoke-free. A second and final vote on this measure could come later this month or in January. What's comforting right now is that DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams is still undecided on whether he will sing the legislation or not. Let's wait and see.

Democracy à l'égyptienne

Egypt's version of democracy.( Via The Washington Post)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Global Voices London Summit 2005

Global Voices Online,has emerged as the leading online portal and guide to international blogs beyond North America and Western Europe. It has also become the hub of a growing community of international bloggers who want to build a better global conversation.

Our dear tunisian fellow and blogger Subzero Blue is currently in London to particiapte in the 2nd annual meeting of Global Voices Online. Our best wishes of full success to this summit!.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Famous Paris Statue Shut After "Lewd Acts"

( Via BBC News)
The Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris has fenced off a famous tomb to prevent lewd acts being performed on a statue. The effigy of 19th Century journalist known as Victor Noir has long been popular with women visitors. This is partly due to his reputation as a romantic figure, and partly because of the effigy's design.
A picture of the statue could be found here.

Skiing In Dubai

Dubai, the second largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, has officially started its indoor Alpine ski season last Friday.The $272-million resort is but the latest extravagant project in the Gulf emirate seeking to become a tourism hub, following on from the world's tallest tower and only undersea hotel. ( Via The Daily Star)

Nur Al-Cubicle has a picture of this ski resort.

Indonesia's Move To Fight Terrorism

Indonesia, the most populous Moslem majority nation in the world is taking an unprecedented step that have sparked outrage across the archipelago.Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, has called for the compulsory fingerprinting of 3.5 million students in the country's Islamic boarding schools. Faced with nationwide criticism, the Indonesian high government official asserted that this move is not related to terrorism. (Via The Australian)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Quote Of The Day

Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.

~Dag Hammarskjold

Saturday, December 03, 2005

St. Edward The Confessor 's Tomb Discovered

Using the latest radar technology, archaeologists discovered the ancient tomb of St. Edward the Confessor(1003-1066),under Westminster Abbey, 1,000 years after his birth.(Via Sploid)
Edward the Confessor was born at Islip, England. He was the son of King Ethelred III. Edward was King of England from 1042-1066. He built St. Peter's Abbey at Westminster. Edward was known for his piety and compassion for the poor. He died in London on January 5, 1066. His body was later found to be incorrupt. He was canonized in 1161 by Pope Alexander III. St. Edward's feast day is celebrated on October 13.

Quote Of The Day

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.

~Adlai E. Stevenson

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Ethics Of Capital Punishment

During the last couple of days, there has been a world wide debate between those who support the death penalty and those who oppose it. Deutsche Welle's Peter Philipp takes a look at global attitudes towards the death penalty.

New Travel Requirements In The US

In a press release posted today on its website, the State Department announced that according to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada are required by January 1, 2008, to have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States.The same statement indicates that this requirement will affect all United States citizens entering the United States from countries within the Western Hemisphere who do not currently possess valid passports.It is worthy to notice that 1 in 5 Americans have a current passport.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Maghreb Blog Review VII

Check the recent Maghreb Blog Review column at Magharebia. The piece mentions among other issues the recent 8th Blogger meetup held in Tunisia.

Media Subversion?

This story has been on the frontlines here in the US. According to an article published by the Los Angeles Times the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.