To all my dear friends… I unfortunately seem to have failed all of you in keeping up with this blog. This blog was meant to relay my experiences and travels in Lebanon and around the Arab world. So many things have happened since I’ve been here that I can’t possibly begin to describe them all. For those of you that don’t know me or are not aware of my situation, I have been living in Lebanon for the past 10 months having the time of my life. I’ll return to some of these things later on but I want to take care of a few issues first. I am rather disappointed in myself for failing to keep this blog updated because I feel that I have hoarded the sharing of my experiences to myself and not broadcast them in a way that builds upon the constructive process that is the primary goal of this blog. This is a particular point I want to emphasize–that when I originally started this blog it was essentially meant to be a running diatribe on the state of foreign affairs–in particular U.S. foreign policy, and, well, its unfortunate shortcomings. However, I’ve come to realize that this blog is part of a larger effort to change the way media works within our society–truly at all levels: local, national, and global… glocally to use a newly coined word. I think that we all have a responsibility to strive to expand the margins of the public sphere so that the voices that truly need to be heard are no longer drowned out by the mass media. This is really the responsibility I have failed so miserably at in not keeping this blog updated. Now that we’ve covered that much, I’d like to turn to some other matters. First off, I’m happy with the theme change because it reflects a design that is content-centric. The writing should be the focus of the blog above anything else. I’m very pleased with it, in addition to the custom-header I’ve added. I think headers should be simple and non-complex and so I’ve chosen a crop of a picture I took last weekend of a geometric pattern of woodwork in a door at Baite al-Deen in Lebanon. I sort of like the Islamic feel to it–as much of Islamic artwork relies heavily on geometric patterns and designs. I think this layout will suffice for now. Now I’d like to turn briefly to the situation in Lebanon. For those who noticed the conspicuous absence of posts about, well, anything political in Lebanon, there is a very good reason for that. For one, I really did not know where I stood on a variety of issues, and to some extent I still really don’t know at all. Sometimes I just feel so confused by it all because there are so many different perspectives that reach so deeply into history. I consider myself lucky just to have been able to talk to so many different people about issues that have left such deep scars. I’ll return to this later, however, I wanted to briefly touch upon the most immediate developments that have occurred over the past few days. For all of those who do not know, there was an exchange of fire along the Lebanese-Israeli border which resulted in the deaths of 3 Lebanese soldiers. Regardless of how the exchange of fire started, I found it oddly hypocritical that the Security Council once again decided to take Israel’s position, probably at our (read: U.S.) behest. There’s an especially juicy quote in the NYT from the Israeli Foreign Minister where he lambastes Lebanon for violating SCR 1701. I just find this so amusing since Israel has probably violated it an innumerable amount of times since it went into force with its manned over-flights of Lebanese territory. I just wanted to point this out. Nonetheless, things are getting pretty hot here, literally. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is due to issue indictments, apparently in September, that, according to some Lebanese politicians, will implicate several ‘rogue’ members of Hezbollah. I really don’t like the word ‘rogue,’ the way its used in international affairs. It’s literally thrown around way to much. Rogue states. Rogue spies. Rogue members of Hezbollah. It’s just a bit ridiculous. I personally think that we should stick to the Nissan Rogue and nothing else, even though its a car that probably shouldn’t be made, or sold, or product placed in television series like Heroes. Anyway, I digress. The thing is, the fragile stability that Lebanon has seen for the past year slowly seems to be slipping from under her feet. One feels like one is standing on the edge of a butter knife. Anyway, without getting too political, I just want to highlight a couple of things. First off, with a Tribunal that has been plagued by so many issues to begin with, how the hell does information of such gravity get released in the first place. I wonder where the PM Hariri heard it to begin with. In a court of law, does the jury leak a verdict before it is spoken in front of a judge? This is all rather confusing in the first place. Secondly, the awful politicization of the whole thing just seems like an insult to Hariri’s memory. I highly doubt that he would have wanted the stability of the country to be threatened by an inquiry into his assassination. I am not saying of course that his killers do not deserve to be brought to justice, because they do, wherever they are and whoever they might be. I’ll follow up on this more later. But I just keep returning to the thought that whenever there seems to be a figure that transcends the political and sectarian divides in Lebanon in the hope of unifying the country under its one flag, they are eliminated without a trace.