Lebanese inventor makes “alive” app for war-torn regions | Green Prophet

“I’m alive.” I’ve made that call, maybe you have too. That surreal statement instantly erases panic in whomever’s on the other end of the line.  It reconstructs a momentarily unglued world.

When I made that call, mobile phones were in their infancy, and landlines were choked by overloaded phone networks. Now a Lebanese woman has developed an app to let you get that most urgent message out loud and clear, “Hey, I am alive!”

Bombings are a frequent reality in Lebanon, and Syria, and Egypt, and Iraq. Sandra Hassan, a Lebanese-born graduate student studying abroad in Paris heard about a car bomb in a Beirut suburb; and the idea was hatched.

“It was a little bit frustrating that, in Lebanon at least, we’re living in a situation that makes such an application necessary or useful,” Hassan told National Public Radio in a recent interview. “My way to express that frustration was to publish this app, kind of as a statement against what was happening, a statement of discontent if you will.”

Lebanon was bombed several times in January, and Hassan said it was stressful trying to contact family and friends to check on their safety. So this student of public health decided to develop an app that allows users to quickly get the message out. With one click, using the internet and avoiding potentially disrupted phone networks, they can instantly tweet the message: “I am still alive!” using with the hashtags #Lebanon and #LatestBombing.

The app is based on Twitter, but Hassan plans updates so that it is compatible with Facebook and could work like an instant messaging independent of social media; a single click to update everyone who wants proof that you are okay.

via Lebanese inventor makes “alive” app for war-torn regions | Green Prophet.

The sound of space discovery

The sound of space discovery.

From space data to beautiful music

To compose the spacecraft duet, 320,000 measurements were first selected from each spacecraft, at one hour intervals. Then that data was converted into two very long melodies, each comprising 320,000 notes using different sampling frequencies, from a few KHz to 44.1 kHz.

The result of the conversion into waveform, using such a big dataset, created a wide collection of audible sounds, lasting just a few seconds (slightly more than 7 seconds at 44.1kHz) to a few hours (more than 5hours using 1024Hz as a sampling frequency).   A certain number of data points, from a few thousand to 44,100 were each “converted” into 1 second of sound.

Essense of Occupier and Privaleged Attitude! Israeli minister visits Aqsa compound under guard | Maan News Agency

Right-wing Israeli housing minister Uri Ariel visited the the al-Aqsa mosque compound o

n Tuesday under armed guard, a mosque official said.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director of Jerusalem endowments and al-Aqsa affairs, told Ma’an that Ariel and 27 rightist settlers entered the mosque compound through the Moroccan Gate.

The group toured the area and then left via the Chain Gate.

Muslim worshipers and students shouted “Allahu Akbar” at the minister, and Israeli police officers collected the identity cards of Palestinians in the the area.

Separately, Israeli police officers prevented the entry of equipment to fix a water pipe in the compound.

Last year, Ariel said that Israel should have full sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa compound and that the site must be open “at any hour to every Jew.”

via Israeli minister visits Aqsa compound under guard | Maan News Agency.

Rimon Guimarães’ Colorful Building Sized Murals – The Fox Is Black

Guimarães uses buildings as a means to hide his characters in. They are crouched or hanging from a wall, often popping out of nowhere to say hello. They cover various settings they are in, adding waves of light to Amsterdam and faces for walls in Porto Alegre. Like the artist, they are youthful and full of energy (which you can really see from the multiple photos of him jumping along with the characters in his work).

Guimarães does seem to just be getting started and has only shown his work in somewhat limited locations. His work has popped up a few times for us out in the annals of Tumblr so obviously the guy must be doing it right if people are drooling about him on that site. It’s easy to see why he is becoming popular: he makes big, happy work using wild colors. What isn’t there to like about that?

via Rimon Guimarães’ Colorful Building Sized Murals – The Fox Is Black.

Israel’s waiver to discriminate: Sam Bahour | cleveland.com

Preferential treatment of Israel has, sadly, come to be expected in the United States. Too often, the United States turns a blind eye as Israel discriminates against American citizens, then rewards Israel for this unacceptable behavior.

The so-called visa waiver bill would reward Israel by allowing Israelis to travel to the United States without a visa — a privilege that is supposed to hinge on Israel reciprocating the gesture.

The bill’s main co-sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, has defended a key provision of the bill that would allow Israel to continue discriminating against U.S. citizens. The provision, absent from the agreements that the United States has with all 37 other countries participating in the visa waiver system, gives Israel a green light to deny entry — on its own terms and for its own reasons — to any Americans whom it deems as “jeopardizing the security of the state of Israel.” No need to justify why. No need to explain. Just blanket U.S. capitulation to Israel’s discriminatory policies.

In other words, being American will count for nothing at Israel’s borders, and Israel will be free to continue discriminating against Americans it unilaterally deems unacceptable.

Mostly Arab-Americans are affected, many of them born in the United States and tracing their roots to historic Palestine. But when they try to visit the land of their ancestors, these American citizens are humiliated at Israel’s ports of entry, and many are turned away (or given abbreviated visas) by Israel, our “closest ally” in the Middle East.

via Israel’s waiver to discriminate: Sam Bahour | cleveland.com.

In Defense of Jackie

hummus for thought


“Caretaker” Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami thinks it’s more damaging to Lebanon’s reputation that one of our best athletes, Jackie Chamoun, participated in a photoshoot where she showed as much skin – less, actually – as what we find in every lingerie shop and in every night club rather than his own refusal to sign a law protecting women from domestic violence?

It was this very man who, two years ago, called the draft law written by activists designed to protect women from domestic violence a “blow to family values” because apparently his conception of family is the same as our conception of rape, torture and murder. Roula Yaacoub is fucking dead. Manal Assi is fucking dead. But a woman athlete showing some skin last year is what moves our minister to demand an “investigation”.

Jackie is Lebanon’s Alpine Skier for this year’s winter Olympics in Soshi. She…

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Billy Ocean: Caribbean king

Always liked him – nice write up.

Repeating Islands


This article by Tom Cardy appeared in New Zealand’s Stuff.

Trinidad-born Billy Ocean is best known for a string of hit singles in the 70s and 80s. Caribbean Queen, released in 1984 – which won Ocean a Grammy – was No 1 in New Zealand for two weeks.

But Ocean, part of a lineup featuring Ronan Keating, Sharon Corr, Leo Sayer and former Spice Girl Mel C performing at Mission Estate Winery on Saturday, is better remembered in New Zealand for another thing entirely.

In 1986 he sang the theme song When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Get Going for the comedy adventure movie The Jewel of the Nile starring Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito and Kathleen Turner.

The song was catchy and got as high as No 3 here. But it was as much a memorable music video. Rather than simply have Ocean singing the song, or show…

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Coalition cut flood defence by 27% – Labour increased flood defence by 33%

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s ConDemNation today!)

I certainly don’t want to be seen as a cheer leader for New Labour – but downright government lies and spin are something I can’t ignore.

Cameron has tried to blame the recent floods on the last Labour administration.

However the figures are very clear – so clear in fact I’m surprised few people in the mainstream press have put them together.

In the 4 years until 2010, government spending on flood defences under Labour rose by 33%.

In the 4 years until now, government spending on flood defences under the coalition has been cut by 27%.

The comparisons can be found in greater detail here:

Flood defence budget cuts: who’s spinning what?

Of course the government could always argue they couldn’t predict the present flooding.

Only one problem with that line of argument.

A rather senior member of the government…

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China backs Sri Lanka as U.S. mulls resolution – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China backs Sri Lanka as U.S. mulls resolution – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

Forget Tibet. Forget killing of thousands in 2-3 of the final days in Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka, China will be happy with exploiting your minerals and low labor costs.


“China opposes some countries’ interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka under the pretext of human rights issues,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday during talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Gamini Lakshman Peiris, in Beijing.

China backs the Sri Lankan government in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, Wang said. “We believe in the Sri Lankan people’s wisdom and capacity to handle their own affairs.”