Upping Diplomatic, Judicial, Economic and Military Pressure on Syria is Unlikely to Work

Bushra al-Assad, the President's sister and wife of security chief Asef Shawkat, has not asked for refugee status in France, authorities told As-sharq al-Awsat newspaper. The Kuwaiti newspaper "Assiyaseh" and National Salvation Front boss Abdel Halim Khaddam have been insisting that the Syrian presidential family is a daggers drawn and that Bushra is seeking political asylum in France while her husband, Shawkat, is under house arrest in Damascus. 

The following paragraph is taken from one of those "intelligence circulars" that companies pay lots of money for:

Syria initiated secret contacts with the Bush administration  last month under the auspices of Turkey. The Syrian side that met with  American envoys in Ankara was headed by military intelligence boss  Assef Shawkat, brother-in-law of president Bashar al Assad.  But in proposing to withdraw Syrian support from Hezbollah in Lebanon for  two years in return for a freeze on preparatory work for the future  International Penal Tribunal on the assassination of Rafic Hariri  Shawkat was accused by the regime’s stalwarts in Damascus of overstepping  his powers. If accepted, his proposal would have been tantamount to  breaking Syria’s strong ties with Tehran. Disavowed, Shawkat is being  gradually eclipsed by the chief of the Presidential Guard and  brother of the president, Maher al Assad. Rivalry has long simmered  between the two. An inquiry into the assassination of the head of Hezbollah’s  external security chief, Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus on Feb. 12 was  assigned to a close associate of Maher, Hafez Makhlouf, who is also  a cousin of president al Assad on his mother’s side. Another figure close  to Maher, general Mohamed Mansoura, alias Abu Jassem, chief  of the Political Security department, could shortly replace Bassam  Abdul-Majid as interior minister. General Amine Charabi, head  of the “Palestine” section – known as section 253 – at the Military  Intelligence department, has been assigned to monitoring the work of the  future International Penal Tribunal. The key figure in Syria’s  counter-espionage service, Charabi will see that Damascus hires the best  lawyers to defend Syrian suspects.  

As far as I can tell, this speculation is based on fabrications presented by Khaddam and Assiyaseh. These rumors seem to be part of a concerted effort to increase psychological, diplomatic, judicial, economic and even military pressure on Syria in order to keep the Lebanon issue on the front burner. Previously, the US and Saudi Arabia sought to use the Arab Summit as leverage to force Syria to abandon Hizbullah. Syria accepted the rubbishing of the summit in order to stand by Hizb and the Lebanese opposition. After all, nothing positive was being offered Syria to put the squeeze on the Lebanese opposition and to allow March 14 to take Lebanon out of Syria's sphere of influence. Hizbullah is too valuable to Syria. Despite their best efforts Washington and Saudi have failed to convince Syria or Hizbullah to allow for a pro-March 14 government to function in Lebanon.

Pretending that the Assad family is at daggers drawn is but a method to prevent all sides from engaging with Syria. It would be natural for European and Arab countries to re-engage Syria if Washington's efforts fail. Failure is exactly what Washington seems to be looking at. But, if foreign capitals can be made to believe that Damascus is in disarray and the Assad household on the verge of collapse, the calculus of engagement changes. Foreign dignitaries will stay away from Damascus.

Israeli military maneuvers and daily articles about the likelihood of war between Israel and either Hizbullah or Syria augment the psychological pressure on Syria and will delay thinking about engagement. So do reiterations that the international tribunal is making political connections between Syria and Hariri's assassins. The international tribunal seems is the only card the US still has up its sleeve, but little suggests that there is much more than circumstantial evidence linking Syria to the assassins.

The Lebanese opposition have offered a new deal to the March 14th bloc to resolve the presidential crisis. Both Nabih Berri and Michel Aoun are offering to elect Michel Suleiman as President and to drop their demand for a larger share of cabinet members if the March 14 group agrees to carry out elections according to the 1960 electoral law. The Daily Star writes

The Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun was quoted as proposing on Friday that the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Michel Suleiman, lead an interim Lebanese government that would oversee the 2009 parliamentary elections. George Arraj of the Liberal Tigers group, a faction that separated from the National Liberal Party, told reporters that he discussed with Aoun on Friday the idea of Suleiman heading an interim government.

Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told As-Safir newspaper on Friday that the opposition was ready to forego bargaining over the shape of the next government if the March 14 Forces agree to adopt the 1960 electoral law in the 2009 parliamentary elections.

Berri said he recently told former President Amin Gemayel the opposition is ready to "forgive the majority regarding the unity government issue" in return for a written commitment that the majority would not mind adopting the 1960 law.

Berri said that opposition groups Hizbullah and Amal have been open to all sorts of proposals regarding the electoral law.

"Despite the fact that we prefer larger electoral constituencies, we have decided to accept the 1960 law in order to satisfy Bkirki and to secure the rights of Christians," Berri said. "Those who object to the 1960 law want to secure 46 MPs without having to head to election."

"They want to guarantee that MP Saad Hariri would have the largest parliamentary bloc. They can only do that through the 2000 electoral law," Berri added.

The 2000 electoral law, which also governed the 2005 elections, gives the anti-Syrian March 14 Forces the upper hand in electoral constituencies in Beirut and the North.

The opposition earlier proposed adopting the 1960 electoral law in the next parliamentary elections, but the ruling coalition has turned down the opposition's demand. 

مصادر فرنسية لـ«الشرق الأوسط»: بشرى الأسد لم تتقدم بطلب لجوء.. وهي في بلد عربي

لندن: «الشرق الأوسط»

«الشرق الأوسط»كذبت مصادر فرنسية رفيعة المستوى المعلومات التي أفادت بأن بشرى الأسد، شقيقة رئيس الجمهورية السورية، وزوجة اللواء آصف شوكت، موجودة في فرنسا، أو أنها قد تقدمت بطلب للجوء السياسي الى فرنسا، أو أن طلبها رفض. وقالت ذات المصادر الرسمية، ردا على سؤال لـ«الشرق الأوسط» عن هذه المعلومات إنها «تنفي نفيا قاطعا هذه المعلومات». وأفادت هذه المصادر بأن السيدة بشرى الأسد «موجودة في بلد عربي»، غير أنها امتنعت عن تسمية هذا البلد.

وبحسب المعلومات المتوافرة فإن السيدة بشرى الأسد كانت تتردد على العاصمة الفرنسية وعلى مدينة نيس الساحلية. وتربط اللواء آصف شوكت «علاقات عمل» مع بعض المسؤولين الفرنسيين من بينهم أمين عام القصر الجمهوري كلود غيون منذ كان يشغل فيه منصب مدير مكتب وزير الداخلية (آنذاك) نيكولا ساركوزي، وذلك حتى وقت قصير من موعد الانتخابات الرئاسية الفرنسية في مايو (أيار) الماضي.

«علاقات عمل» مع بعض المسؤولين الفرنسيين من بينهم أمين عام القصر الجمهوري كلود غيون منذ كان يشغل فيه منصب مدير مكتب وزير الداخلية (آنذاك) نيكولا ساركوزي، وذلك حتى وقت قصير من موعد الانتخابات الرئاسية الفرنسية في مايو (أيار) الماضي.

«علاقات عمل» مع بعض المسؤولين الفرنسيين من بينهم أمين عام القصر الجمهوري كلود غيون منذ كان يشغل فيه منصب مدير مكتب وزير الداخلية (آنذاك) نيكولا ساركوزي، وذلك حتى وقت قصير من موعد الانتخابات الرئاسية الفرنسية في مايو (أيار) الماضي.

«علاقات عمل» مع بعض المسؤولين الفرنسيين من بينهم أمين عام القصر الجمهوري كلود غيون منذ كان يشغل فيه منصب مدير مكتب وزير الداخلية (آنذاك) نيكولا ساركوزي، وذلك حتى وقت قصير من موعد الانتخابات الرئاسية الفرنسية في مايو (أيار) الماضي.

«علاقات عمل» مع بعض المسؤولين الفرنسيين من بينهم أمين عام القصر الجمهوري كلود غيون منذ كان يشغل فيه منصب مدير مكتب وزير الداخلية (آنذاك) نيكولا ساركوزي، وذلك حتى وقت قصير من موعد الانتخابات الرئاسية الفرنسية في مايو (أيار) الماضي.

 

The National Salvation Front, led by Abdal Halim Khaddam and Ali Sadraddine Bayanouni, is lauching a satalite TV station to be named, "The New Syria."
It will reveal "the crimes of the Syrian Regime" and explain the goals and the direction ahead for the opposition front.

Shortly after an office for the NSF was opened in Washington a year ago, word began to spread that Khaddam was not financing it with his own money and that it was being maintained with only $10,000 a month, which wasn't enough money to pay for salaries. The Washington lobbyest who was retained left the organization after 3 months and supposedly began to work for the Palestinian Authority instead. Khaddam's was unwillingness to spend large amounts of money led many to believe that he was not really committed to the effort and had little faith in it.

Now, it seems, a new effort is being made to get the office moving with new money is being committed to the effort. The following story in Arabic explains:

09/04/2008

أعلنت جبهة الخلاص الوطني السورية المعارضة عن عزمها إطلاق قناة فضائية باسم "سورية الجديدة" خلال الأسابيع القادمة، تبث من خارج البلاد، وتهدف بشكل أساسي "فضح جرائم النظام السوري" وفق لبيان إطلاق القناة

والجبهة التي يتزعمها عبد الحليم خدام النائب السابق المنشق للرئيس السوري، وعلي صدر الدين البيانوني المراقب العام لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين المحظورة في سورية، وينضوي تحت رايتها عدة أحزاب سورية معارضة في الخارج، أوضحت أن القناة الفضائية ستكون ناطقة باسم الجبهة، وستبث برامج لـ "فضح جرائم النظام"، بالإضافة إلى برامج لـ "شرح أهداف وخطة عمل الجبهة"، كما ستقدم مقابلات وندوات حوار مع شخصيات سياسية ومفكرين مثقفين بالإضافة إلى برامج وثائقية وترفيهية

The Economist Intelligence Unity writes:

The Ministry of the Interior has announced that a new system for rationing the supply of subsidised diesel heating fuel for households would go into effect from April 12th. The system will entail the holder of the household ration card to obtain the monthly allocationÔÇöbased on an annual ration of 1,000 litres per householdÔÇöfor a period of 15 days at the subsidised price of SP 7 (15 US cents) per litre. This price is about 10% of the price paid for diesel in neighbouring countries, and the heavy subsidy has fostered smuggling on a large scale. The rationing so far appears to be restricted to consumption of diesel for domestic use. Considerable amounts of diesel are also consumed for road transport and for agricultural machinery. It has also not been made clear whether households will be entitled by buy more diesel once they have used up their monthly ration, and, if so, at what price. Earlier plans for a gradual increase in diesel prices across the board, linked to compensation payments for poorer households, seem to have been dropped.

The government has also increased gasoline prices for the second time in five months. The new gasoline price of SP 40 (83 US cents) per litre went into effect on March 22nd. This marked an 11% increase on the previous price of SP 36/litre, which came into force in November 2007 following a 20% price hike. The latest increase was broadly in line with the rise in world oil prices over the intervening period, Syria relies on imports for about 20% of its annual consumption of some 2.5bn litres/year of gasoline. However, this only represents about one-sixth of Syria's total petroleum products consumption, and gasoline prices in Syria are relatively high (the new price is equivalent to about US$3.1 per US gallon). By contrast, diesel accounts for some 50% of petroleum products consumption.

Resurrecting the Wall of Fear: The Human Rights Situation in Syria By Robert Grace

Over the past several months, Syrian authorities have engaged in a harsh campaign of repression against leading dissidents and human rights activists. The crackdown, overshadowed by developments elsewhere in the region, has received scant media coverage in the U.S. and Europe. To shed light on recent developments in the Syrian political scene, USIP recently convened a public discussion on human rights in Syria, featuring the Institute's Radwan Ziadeh, Mona Yacoubian, and Steven Heydemann, and Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch. This USIPeace Briefing summarizes their presentations and the subsequent discussion.

USIP Senior Fellow Radwan Ziadeh's account of the current situation in Syria underscored that the regime often uses national security concerns as a pretext to silence all forms of dissent. Placing recent repression in historical context, Ziadeh noted that government repression of political and human rights activists has come in several waves in the past decade.

Axis of adventure: Syria

Damascus has had a corner in conversions for 2,000 years, since Saul of Tarsus saw the light and metamorphosed into St Paul the Apostle. I too underwent a transformation on the road to Damascus, not Pauline exactly, but definitely opinion-changing. My revelation was Syria.

Finding Common Ground in an Uncommon Nation
By Edward O'Connell and Cheryl Benard

RAND researchers Cheryl Benard and Ed O'Connell have been to the far points of the Muslim world as a part of developing the think tank's Alternative Strategy Initiative, which addresses the effects of extremism and sectarianism on those too often are hiding in plain sight: youth, women and refugees. But after a recent trip to Syria where they found themselves happening one night upon an unsettling and perception-busting TV program, they went back there to find out how a director in a country known for defending terrorism could produce "entertainment" that portrayed quite the opposite. They tell Malibu Magazine their story.

Oxford Business Group: The World Bank's Knowledge Economy Index, released at the end of March, showed that Lebanon had fallen 16 places in the global rankings to 66th out of 140, and had slumped four rungs on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) ladder to eighth out of the 17 regional countries surveyed.

Malek Jandali, Composer & Pianist, has just released a new album named, "Echoes from Ugarit." Give it a listen at his site. http://www.malekjandali.com/ The theme song is an arrangement of the oldest song in the world, based on music notations discoverd in Syria.

This is what Malek writes about it:

Introduction:
Ugarit, Syria is the birthplace of alphabet and music notation. Excavations of the ancient Phoenician city, Ugarit, in what is now modern Ras Shamra north of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast of Syria, uncovered cuneiform tablets that date back to approximately 3400 BC. This is the oldest music notation in the world! The interpretation of the music notation of Ugarit is a challenge and several "reconstructions" have been published.

Comments (98)


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51. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,

Did anybody act against the law in the process? No. Was violence used? No. So what is the problem? I read her book and think her work is junk. Others think otherwise. So what?

This is how democracies work. If you write about a controversial subject that other people care about, you will get a reaction. Freedom of speech means freedom of speech for Nadia and for all those who care to criticize her.

The time that people like Sim and T could could frighten Jews and make them shut-up is long gone, except in countries like Syria where Tlass can publish a best seller claiming that Jews kill Christians for their rituals and nobody in Syria objects. If you want to argue something, you better make sure that you won’t make a fool of yourself because we are taking 0 shit from anyone.

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April 13th, 2008, 5:41 am

 

52. Zenobia said:

QN, and anyone interested:
the New Yorker piece about Nadia Abu el-Haj was quite amazing . An excellent read.

actually, her work wasn’t a controversial subject to most of the academics and scholars – and not to the Israeli archeologists.

“so what? ” …. hmmm. how about the fact of potentially ruining someone’s career because of political views and causing unnecessary harm.
this wasn’t a book review that was sort of negative. This was a group of people intruding on the internal processes of a huge academic institution that has its own system of review.

anyhow, it didn’t work, because it was baseless. but the point of the article was not about the content of this woman’s work and whether you like it. It is about people inflicting harm on her and on a University.

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April 13th, 2008, 7:28 am

 

53. T said:

AIG,

You’re ignoring the question. Running away? That does not become a military man. Is there anything to the JPost story above?

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April 13th, 2008, 7:50 am

 

54. SimoHurtta said:

The time that people like Sim and T could could frighten Jews and make them shut-up is long gone, except in countries like Syria where Tlass can publish a best seller claiming that Jews kill Christians for their rituals and nobody in Syria objects. If you want to argue something, you better make sure that you won’t make a fool of yourself because we are taking 0 shit from anyone.

Well, well AIG, on bad mood today? Not enough queuing Palestinian women and children to be kicked and threatened on your check point?

Have I ever frightened you or any other atheistic (or religious) Jew or told you to shut up? Do Jews really kill Christians in their rituals? Well that is new for me, never heard about it before, tell more about it AIG.

Doesn’t AIG free speech mean free speech even when the opinions are controversial. So you do not like free speech in Syria. I just saw yesterday a BBC report of a settlement fight on an old Palestinian women owned hill, where the settlers screamed that there were no Palestinians in Israel when “they” came to Israel. That “empty” theory is widely used in Israeli propaganda.

0 shit from you???? Hmmm are you AIG going to nuke us, if and when you loose the debate?

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April 13th, 2008, 8:25 am

 

55. Majhool said:

QN,

I need to thank you for you comments on this post. Your arguments are extremely logical and balanced. You are not blinded with patriotism (unlike many on this forum)

AIG,

I understand that you irritate many on this forum, but I tend to enjoy reading your comments. I happen to know and work with many Israelis and they tend to share your views. Thank you for keeping it real.

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April 13th, 2008, 8:34 am

 

56. offended said:

ok, i made a comment and now it’s erased…
this is not fair…

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April 13th, 2008, 9:06 am

 

57. Qifa Nabki said:

AIG,

I have to say that I’m a little disappointed in your response.

Surely the issue is not one of legality. Rather, it is about precisely what you mentioned in your last comment, namely intimidation:

The time that people like Sim and T could could frighten Jews and make them shut-up is long gone…

You’re right. It seems that it’s been replaced by a time when Jews can frighten scholars they disagree with and make them shut up.

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April 13th, 2008, 11:00 am

 

58. Qifa Nabki said:

PS: I agree with Zenobia on this.

This woman (Nadia Abu El-Haj) is not some hack academic with a political bone to pick. She has a Duke Ph.D., taught at the University of Chicago, was an Academy Scholar at Harvard, and a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. These are among the most competitive and selective institutions in the world… It is impossible to be admitted unless your credentials and scholarship are solid, hardly “junk”.

Now, you may disagree with her work. But how can you defend the actions of some crazy settler woman who waged a slanderous campaign against Abu El-Haj, attacking her scholarship, her competence, and her character? Paula Stern isn’t an archaeologist! And yet she felt justified in organizing a witch hunt just because she is somehow more informed than Abu El-Haj on account of her own Zionism?

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April 13th, 2008, 12:53 pm

 

59. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
The small difference is the following. I have no problem at all with Nadia publishing her book. Nobody should stop her from doing it, and no physical harm was done to her or threatened to her. The Jews were constantly threatened with physical violence and/or government prosecution. Is any of this happening here?

All you see is people organizing legally and without any recourse to threats and violence to make their side of the story heard and to voice their opinion about what a university should do. When Jews do it, it is held against them. Even you have fallen into this trap. Even you it seems are not comfortable with Jews being assertive. I guess we still have a long way to go.

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April 13th, 2008, 1:01 pm

 

60. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Whether or Nadia is a hack or not is totally irrelevant. You are totally missing the point. The “settler woman”, whether she is right or not, has every right to organize any campaign within the law, and I would vehemently support her right to do so, just as I would support the rights of any Arab to launch such a campaign against any academic they want. She is justified to launch the campaign because that is what she believes and because she is only doing legal things. In a democracy you need no more justification than that. Who are you to deny her basic rights?

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April 13th, 2008, 1:09 pm

 

61. Qifa Nabki said:

AIG,

I’m not asking you to deny Paula Stern her rights to organize a campaign. Nor do I have any problem with Jews or anybody else being “assertive”. Your playing of the “this is a democracy and this is free speech” card is rather silly.

Do I support the freedom of speech of KKK members? Neo-Nazis? Islamic fundamentalists? Absolutely. Do I like what they have to say? No.

Just because somebody has a right to express themselves, doesn’t mean what they say is valid. I’m surprised that you are unwilling to concede this point, and to criticize the campaign against Abu El-Haj as cruel and ill-informed. I would do the same about a campaign to smear an Israeli professor who was undeserving of the such vicious and ideological criticism, on the basis of lack of understanding, bad credentials, poor methodology, etc.

You know, they won’t revoke your Israeli citizenship if you call a spade a spade.

But I will let you have the last word on this, because I can already feel you going into your super-charged stubborn mode, and I don’t like debating with you when you get that way. So, ma3lesh, you win.

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April 13th, 2008, 1:34 pm

 

62. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Who wrote the following sentence:
“You’re right. It seems that it’s been replaced by a time when Jews can frighten scholars they disagree with and make them shut up.”

You did. Is there any way to interpret this sentence except as deligitimizing the actions of Jews like the “crazy settler woman”?
You seem to think that there is something relevant about the fact that JEWS were behind this campaign. Otherwise, why would you post it here?

So let’s call a spade a spade and ask you, why did you post the New Yorker article? What did you find relevant about it for the discussion except that the people leading it were JEWS?

I am willing to concede that the “crazy settler woman” can be wrong. But I would like to ask you so what? If she is wrong, all she did was mount a legal campaign. If you accept that the she was well within her rights what exactly are you complaining about? Can you make this clear to me?

And please do not bow out of the debate. You started it, so let’s air it out.

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April 13th, 2008, 2:02 pm

 

63. Qifa Nabki said:

My what lovely curtains… Ho hum.

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April 13th, 2008, 2:10 pm

 

64. wizart said:

QN,

is this from Shakespear or are you picking up Arabic in Damascus?

AIG,

From now on I suggest American scholars who want to study “epistimology” should go visit the more hospitalble Damascus even if it means having to learn Arabic first.

🙂

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April 13th, 2008, 2:17 pm

 

65. Qifa Nabki said:

AIG, check your inbox.

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April 13th, 2008, 2:22 pm

 

66. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
Among leading epistemologists in the world there are many Jews. I would argue that the leading epistemologist in the world is Alvin Goldman. There is not one Syrian among the leading epistemologists and not one Arab. How do you explain that?

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April 13th, 2008, 2:41 pm

 

67. Qifa Nabki said:

AIG, what are you talking about???

Syria has the best pistachios in the world!

Therefore, it must also have the leading epistachiologists as well!

Enough with your hatred spewing comments!

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April 13th, 2008, 2:49 pm

 

68. idaf said:

QN,

Thank you for posting Ibrahim Al-Amin’s article from Al-Akhbar above. Although brief, this has to be one of the most balanced reviews of lessons learned from the Syrian era in Lebanon ever published in the Lebanese media. Finally an unusually refreshing unbiased, non-sectarian, solution-driven review with no bitter or revenge-seeking language.

I think that the Syrian leadership should do its own review of its mistakes and more importantly Asad senior’s regime during the era in Lebanon and try to learn from those mistakes. As Al-Amin suggests, it was three decades of hugely wasted opportunities for both sides (the Lebanese and the Syrians) to learn a lesson or two from the other side, as both systems had their advantages and disadvantages.

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April 13th, 2008, 2:54 pm

 

69. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Is there one faculty or department in the University of Damascus that is internationally recognized? When was the last time an article appearing in Nature or Science came from any university in Syria? I don’t know but would be happy to learn. Never mind, Syrians are the happiest people in the world, so what else matters?

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April 13th, 2008, 3:05 pm

 

70. Qifa Nabki said:

AIG,

Stop changing the subject! Do you deny that Syrian epistachiologists are not the world’s greatest?

Come on, deny it. I dare you.

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April 13th, 2008, 3:12 pm

 

71. idaf said:

AIG said:
“Among leading epistemologists in the world there are many Jews.. There is not one Syrian among the leading epistemologists and not one Arab. How do you explain that?”

AIG,
Enough already with your twisted analogies! You are comparing apples to oranges as you usually do. The comparison should either be between the number of Syrian and Israeli scientists, epistemologists, etc. (which Syrians would clearly loose), or Jewish and Christian or Muslim ones (in which case the latter would most likely exceed in numbers).

How many of those Jewish epistemologists were Israelis (educated, lived and produced research in Israel)? And how many of them were simply Germans or Americans who were surrounded with the right environment.. and happened to be Jews? For example, the Jewish scientists and Engineers who have been educated in the former USSR are not considered good scientists because “they’re Jews” but because they had the right formula of “carrots and sticks” to be good scientists. Enough claiming credit for someone else’s work.

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April 13th, 2008, 3:14 pm

 

72. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Idaf,
However you slice it or dice it the result will not be what you want. You agree that if we compare Israel to Syria, Syria will clearly lose by a huge margin. Can Israel claim credit for that?

You think that there are more Muslim epistemolgists or leading ones than Jews, even though there are 1.4 bilion Muslim and 15-20 million Jews? I think not. And on a per capita basis, which is the real comparison the difference is astronomical. And yes, you are right, it is because Arab and Muslim countries are not into freedom of speech and real debate. But as long as Syrians are happy, this is fine.

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April 13th, 2008, 3:40 pm

 

73. wizart said:

AIG,

I would explain it by knowing that “philosophy” is not a major preoccupation in Syria or in the Arab world. Sorry to disappoint you but the art of bulshiting is better practiced in your world.

I still think American researched can feel safer in Syria than in Israel because we don’t have any settlements or illegal”epistemologists!”

I urge to visit Iran and Syria for your next philosophy session 🙂

Distinguishing knowing that from knowing how

In this article, and in epistemology in general, the kind of knowledge usually discussed is propositional knowledge, also known as “knowledge-that” as opposed to “knowledge-how”. For example: in mathematics, it is known that 2 + 2 = 4, but there is also knowing how to add two numbers. Many (but not all) philosophers thus think there is an important distinction between “knowing that” and “knowing how”, with epistemology primarily interested in the former. This distinction is recognised linguistically in many languages, though not in modern English except as dialect (see verbs “ken” and “wit” in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary).[3] In Personal Knowledge, Michael Polanyi articulates a case for the epistemological relevance of both forms of knowledge; using the example of the act of balance involved in riding a bicycle, he suggests that the theoretical knowledge of the physics involved in maintaining a state of balance cannot substitute for the practical knowledge of how to ride, and that it is important to understand how both are established and grounded. It is worth pointing out that in recent times, some epistemologists (see the late Sosa, Zagzebski) have argued that we should not think of knowledge this way; Epistemology should evaluate people’s properties instead of propositions’ properties. This is, in short, because higher forms of knowledge (i.e., understanding) involve non cognitive features which can’t be evaluated from a justified true belief view of knowledge.

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April 13th, 2008, 4:15 pm

 

74. Alex said:

ملك السعودية عبدالله وخراب لبنان وثروة المستقبل

لم يعد خافياً على أحد أن ملك السعودية شخصياً الذي ارتضى لاسمه خادم الحرمين الشريفين هو ‏سبب خراب لبنان الحالي، فإن تم الاجتماع في الرياض وتوصل المجتمعون إلى اتفاق، سقط الاتفاق ‏بعد أيام وان أراد اللبنانيون الحوار في لبنان استقبل عبدالله السنيورة الذي صرح على ‏بابه بأنه ضد الحوار اللبناني – اللبناني.

‏ لم يعد خافياً أن أموالاً سعودية تأتي الى لبنان الى تيار المستقبل للشحن الطائفي والمذهبي.

‏ باتت السعودية تغذي في كل مكان منظمات مسلحة، ففي العراق تغذي مع الاميركيين تنظيمات ‏الصحوة، وفي فلسطين تغذي مخابرات أبو مازن وجماعاته وغيرهما، وفي لبنان تغذي المذهبية ‏والطائفية وتدفع بالشحن الطائفي الى أقصاه، وفي باريس تدعم عبد الحليم خدام، وفي العالم ‏العربي والاسلامي تدعم البيانوني والاخوان المسلمين.

‏ لم يأت ملك الى السعودية أدى الى خراب لبنان مثل الملك عبدالله، ويصل احد الى الوقاحة حين ‏أعلن انه ضد الحوار مثلما أعلن السنيورة بعد اجتماعه بالملك عبدالله.

‏ يكتشف الشعب اللبناني يوماً بعد يوم ولكن ببطء الدور الخطير للسعودية، واكبر شاهد ما ‏صرفته السعودية في الانتخابات النيابية في العام 2005 في الشمال في شحن طائفي ليس له ‏مثيل وفي مناطق الضنية وعكار.

‏ اطلق الملك عبدالله المبادرة العربية، ومنذ ان قامت اسرائيل باغتصاب الارض العربية وبنت ‏الجدار العازل وضربت الشعب الفلسطيني وارتكبت المجازر، ومع ذلك زادت علاقته بأميركا ‏واجتمع موفدوه بصورة شبه علنية او سرية مع الاسرائيليين.

‏ السؤال، ما هو دور الملك عبدالله وكيف يمكن لخادم الحرمين الشريفين ان يلعب هذا الدور ‏السياسي التعطيلي في الحوار اللبناني اللبناني؟ لم يسبق ان قام ملك السعودية باستعداء فئة من اللبنانيين ضد فئة أخرى، حيث يخوض الملك ‏عبدالله معركة شرسة ضد المعارضة، اي انه فريق مع نصف اللبنانيين ضد النصف الآخر، ولم يسبق ‏لملك عربي خاصة ملك السعودية ان استنفر كما استنفر عندما خطفت المقاومة جنديين ‏اسرائيليين، فاذا بالذي يجب ان يكون خادم الحرمين الشريفين يسمي أسر الجنديين الاسرائيليين ‏مغامرة ويفتح الباب أمام عدوان إسرائيلي على لبنان تتطاير فيه أشلاء الشعب اللبناني ‏بفعل القصف الاسرائيلي على كل لبنان تنفيذاً من الإسرائيليين واسلحة من الاميركيين.

‏ واذا رأينا هذا المشهد فإننا نرى مشهداً اخر هو مشهد دعم حكومة السنيورة لمراسيم ‏الاثراء غير المشروع واطلاق الثروات على تيار المستقبل بشكل لا مثيل له.

‏ رحم الله الرئيس رفيق الحريري عندما استشهد تم الإعلان عن ثروته بأنها ثمانية مليارات دولار، ‏فاذا بسعد الحريري يشتري شركة للخليوي في تركيا بستة مليارات دولار ويمتلك مجموعة مصارف ‏تساوي 12 مليار دولار ثم يظهر ان سعد الحريري وجماعته وتيار المستقبل يملكون 15 بالمئة من ‏سوليدير ثم تغدق الأموال على المشاريع التي يقوم بها في السعودية فتصبح أوجيه سعود تساوي ‏تسعة مليارات دولار حتى باتت ثروة سعد الحريري وتيار المستقبل، طبعاً نحن لا نتكلم عن أزلام ‏تيار المستقبل، وصلت الى 40 مليار دولار اي ما يوازي ديون لبنان للخارج.

‏ فمن أين جمع سعد الحريري بلحظة كل هذه الثروات، وهل هي ثروة سعد الحريري أم الملك عبدالله ‏في بيروت، ونحن نعرف كم يملك من عقارات بأسماء مستعارة؟ لقد بات الحريري والسنيورة وعبدالله شركاء في ثروة تبلغ 40 مليار دولار اضافة الى ما يملكه ‏الملك عبدالله على حساب المسلمين من ثروة تزيد على المئة مليار دولار، وقد أصبح ما يشاع ‏حقيقة حين يعيش أمراء على أموال النفط ويملكون عشرين الى 30 مليار دولار ويقيمون ‏العلاقات مع الشركات اليهودية ويطبّعون معها وليس بطريقة مباشرة مع تل أبيب، بل في ‏أوروبا واميركا من خلال الشركات والمؤسسات على حساب المسلمين، وخاصة بشأن الوفاق ‏اللبناني على حساب لبنان.

‏ خادم الحرمين الشريفين يخدم السلام، يخدم الوفاق يخدم الحوار ولا يخدم سيل الدماء في لبنان ولا ‏التحضير لفتنة داخلية، ولا يرسل الأموال للتسلح كي تكون الطريق الى الفتنة الداخلية، ولا ‏ينتفض من أجل أسر جنديين اسرائيليين بينما يسكت عن احتلال اسرائيل 23 سنة للبنان ‏وأسرها لبنانيين وقصفها وقتل المدنيين.

‏ لم يكن للسنيورة هذه القوة وهي مجد باطل، ولم يكن للسنيورة ان يصدر اكثرمن 1400 مرسوم ‏فيها إثراء غير مشروع لولا تواطؤ ملك السعودية عبدالله مع تيار المستقبل ضد الشعب ‏اللبناني.

‏ المنتسبون الى تيار المستقبل فقراء، شعب أصابته جريمة اغتيال الحريري فانتفض، وشعب لا ‏يريد وصاية أحد ولكن المنتسبين الى تيار المستقبل سيقعون يوماً بعد يوم في إثراء فاحش ‏لقيادة المستقبل مقابل زيادة فقرهم وإن نالوا حصة من الحصص فيذهب سعد الحريري الى ‏طرابلس ليتبرع بها بتمثال الى الملك عبدالله وبعض الاموال على الضنية وعكار وغيرها، كأنه ‏يتصدق على الناس ويعطيهم صدقة.

‏ خطير دور السعودية، خطير دور خادم الحرمين الشريفين على ما يسمي نفسه.

لم تشهد السعودية ‏ذلك في زمن عبد الناصر، وهي تخوض حرباً على الساحة اللبنانية تمويلاً وتسليحاً.

لم يسبق ‏للسعودية ان كانت كذلك وهي بأموالها ستحرك تيار المستقبل ضد «الديار» وستحاول تحريك ‏القضاء كله، لكن الشعب اللبناني بات الدور السعودي مكشوفاً امامه وبات دور الملك ‏عبدالله المعطل للوفاق مكشوفاً ايضاً وعند سقوط أول قطرة دم لبنانية بسبب المخطط السعودي ‏سيسقط لقب خادم الحرمين الشريفين عن عبدالله لأن من يريد خدمة الحرمين الشريفين لا يسعى ‏للاقتتال ولا للدماء ولا للفتنة ولا لحرب داخلية لبنانية.

‏ بقلم : شارل أيوب

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April 13th, 2008, 4:24 pm

 

75. Qifa Nabki said:

Can somebody explain to me how we got on the subject of epistemology?

Wizart, are you in bot mode again?

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April 13th, 2008, 4:29 pm

 

76. SimoHurtta said:

AIG do you argue your claim is true because it is caused by the “right” religion. Judaism is a religion as you know and Jews are followers of that religion (even you atheistic ones). Well if it is not the right religion what might be the cause? Jews are superior in intelligence compared to other “races” or what? Interesting to hear your answer.

Is the answer really democracy and free speech? If that would be the case, the amount of Jewish epistemolgists should in proportion of the population in those countries where they live and perform their studies.

Might the cause AIG be that Jews are generally good educated and often choose an academic carrier? Or might it be that Jewish scientists are in general more interested from that epistemology than other “lower races'” scientists.

AIG if I convert do Judaism, will I be good in epistemology?

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April 13th, 2008, 4:39 pm

 

77. wizart said:

QN,

You’re kidding me. How can you argue with AIG about this subject which was in the article which you quoted without knowing how to finish your assignment.

Bot: big olive Tibky 🙂

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April 13th, 2008, 4:40 pm

 

78. Alex said:

AIG, WIzart and Simo

Let us switch to any other, relevant, topic.

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April 13th, 2008, 4:50 pm

 

79. Qifa Nabki said:

AIG, I responded to you via email.

I’m changing the subject now, as per Alex’s request.

New Topic: Why Lebanon is Better Than Syria

That’s what you had in mind, right Alex?

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April 13th, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

80. Naji said:

BEAUTIFULLY put, Simo…!! You win, again…!!

When will they ever learn…?! 🙁 I am sure there is an important epistimological question there…!!

[Sorry Alex!]

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April 13th, 2008, 5:12 pm

 

81. Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

No, I was thinking more like:

Lebanon is one of the better parts of Syria.

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April 13th, 2008, 5:21 pm

 

82. Naji said:

Alex wins…!

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April 13th, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

83. Zenobia said:

Epistaciology is really the best. LOl. i love it!

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April 13th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

84. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim, Whatever you convert to, it won’t help you I am sorry to say. But you are invited to try. I argue that my claim is true because it is a fact. This is called reality.
And you got your answer from Wiz and Naji. The syrians know best and they believe epistemology is bull shit. But for some reason Wizart contradicts himself by first introducing the subject and then saying it is bull shit.
Well then Wizart, what do you not consider bull shitting and in what academic area does Syria excel? Really, I’d like to know if there is even ONE thing that Syria is in the major leagues in academically speaking? And if not, is it really Israel’s fault? I guess so, but please explain why. You are welcome to try also Naji. But as long as Syrians are happy who cares, right?

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April 13th, 2008, 6:06 pm

 

85. Naji said:

Zeno, I agree… and we have a couple of other gems: 😀

Qifa Nabki said:

My what lovely curtains… Ho hum.

April 13th, 2008, 2:10 pm

wizart said:

QN,

Is this from Shakespear or are you picking up Arabic in Damascus?

… 😀

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April 13th, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

86. Qifa Nabki said:

I didn’t actually understand Wizart’s question.

He’s very botty today.

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April 13th, 2008, 6:23 pm

 

87. Naji said:

QN,
Isn’t that the point…?!
The Wiz is usually at his/her best in the bot mode… 🙂

I like to think of it as absurdist commentary on the human condition… quite profound…

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April 13th, 2008, 6:35 pm

 

88. wizart said:

Naji,

I think QN is in potty mode :??)

He is still trying to figure out which language to concentrate his skills at and since he still doesn’t have a driver license to chase Syrian women around Damascus with so he takes the easy “potty?!” way out by pestering another Israel gal on this all Naji Syrian blog 🙂

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April 13th, 2008, 6:46 pm

 

89. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
You complement Wizart well. Right after Wizart says that philosophy is bullshit, you give him marks for philosophizing (yaani absurdist commentary).

Wizart,
I am still waiting for you to tell me what academic subject is not bs and Syria excels in. Is there ONE?

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April 13th, 2008, 6:51 pm

 

90. wizart said:

AIG,

I never said philosophy is bullshit since Arabs have some of the best and first philosophers in the world (you kind of have to do your homework on google and you’ll find out plenty) I did say indirectly and quite often before that Syria has more pressing priorities to deal with. Episooffmology is not one of them 🙂

I asked you a few questions before which you feel pressed to dodge as per your “facade” / crusade for human rights in Syria.

By the way Syria excels in having a culture to dream of and nothing beats its dynamic system of stability and the ability to walk around old town at night taking photos of 2000 year old structures!

If you change your mind someone might give you a visa to go there (like if you bring Lippy your foreign minister to take a real tour of Damascus that could perhaps maybe change her Episooftology attitude…………..or whatever she does to get you in denial.

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April 13th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

91. Alex said:

From The Jewish Chronicle this week

Syrians fondly recall time when Jews lived next door
11/04/2008

By Heidi Kingstone

The houses stand empty in the abandoned Jewish quarter, Haret al-Yehud, just outside the walls of Damascus’s old city. Years of neglect have taken their toll and decay has seeped through. Plaster has fallen off in chunks and chicken wire has replaced glass where windows once opened on to vibrant streets.

An antique shop owner delivers an impromptu history lesson when I ask about a brass object with silver inlay. The detailed craftsmanship, he explains, was a speciality of the Jews who lived for generations with their Arab neighbours, sharing kitchens and bathrooms, courtyards and family occasions. They celebrated at each other’s weddings, merging together as Syrians. The man missed his old friends and colleagues who left in 1992 when the late President Hafez al Assad finally allowed them to.

“We were brothers after all,” he says. Dapperly dressed in a well-tailored grey suit, he walks around the sprawling shop full of Syria’s rich artistic heritage, much of it far too gaudy for western tastes.

“If they came back they could just open their front doors.” But those front doors have almost fallen off their hinges, and dust blows through eerily empty Taj al Hijaar Street.

Perhaps memory blurs the reality. According to Mitchell Bard, an American foreign policy analyst, “the Jewish Quarter was under constant surveillance by the secret police, who were present at synagogue services, weddings, barmitzvahs and other Jewish gatherings”.

The absence of politics as a topic of conversation in Syria is noticeable. Pictures of Bashar al Assad stare down from posters in shop windows and billboards on rooftops. His beady blue eyes and patchy moustache are constant reminders of who is in charge.

I am invited to the three-day wedding celebration of a friend’s cousin, where women with 1970s high hair, skinny stilettos and short skirts dance with men in square-toed shoes.

At the church, the women ululate as the priest presides over the Christian ceremony where the bride is encased in layers of flowing white polyester. She walks down an aisle lined with white tulle, wilting flowers and fake white doves. Guests collect the plastic blue roses when they leave.

In the room that doubles as dining room and bedroom, the bridegroom’s father shows off photographs from their days in “Occupied Palestine” and is soon calling me “my daughter”. When I leave, he asks if I am a good Christian. I just say no.

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April 13th, 2008, 7:24 pm

 

92. Qifa Nabki said:

Wizart,

I am confused.

(a) What makes you think I am in Damascus?

(b) What makes you think I am learning Arabic?

(c) What makes you think I’m chasing Syrian women around?

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April 13th, 2008, 7:40 pm

 

93. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,

Apparently you don’t read what you write. You wrote:
“I would explain it by knowing that “philosophy” is not a major preoccupation in Syria or in the Arab world. Sorry to disappoint you but the art of bulshiting is better practiced in your world.”

You explicitly said that philosophy is bull shit.

You are a walking oxymoron factory. Here is the new one:
dynamic system of stability

A culture to dream off? A culture in which 30% of women cannot read or write is a hellish culture. I love your the sky is green arguments.

And how about just letting the western press travel to all places in Syria and report what they want? Of course you do not approve of the most obvious way to learn the truth about Syria. Syria is not downtown Damascus just as Disneyland is not the US.

Do you ever worry that nothing you say makes sense?

And what about the question of what academic discipline Syria excels in? Do you have nothing to say about that?

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April 13th, 2008, 7:46 pm

 

94. Naji said:

What an ugly person, this Heidi… with ugly eyes, deformed vision, a bleak heart and a hopeless outlook…!! Wallowing in her smugness, may she never revisit.

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April 13th, 2008, 7:54 pm

 

95. Zenobia said:

Syrians excel at Poetry and Humor.

no question.

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April 13th, 2008, 7:55 pm

 

96. wizart said:

QN,

What makes you think I thought so ?

Please think again in BOT / Potty mode!

Awaiting results of final proceedings the jury adjourns.

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April 13th, 2008, 7:59 pm

 

97. T said:

AIG,

So out of the racist’s own mouth, comes the truth. Yet if a non-Jew said the EXACT same thing- they’d be stamped anti-semitic? (Or sued)

Maybe like the UN official- banned outright from entry into the Territories to do his job? You hypocrite!
Breaking News

Israel shuns U.N. official over Nazi comparison
Published: 04/09/2008 JTA news agency

Israel is blacklisting a U.N. official who compared its crackdown on the Gaza Strip to the Nazis.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said this week it will refuse an entry permit to Richard Falk, who will become the new U.N. rapporteur on human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in June, over a fierce critique of Israeli policies he made last year.

In an essay titled “Slouching Toward a Palestinian Holocaust,” Falk — described in media reports as a Jewish American law professor — likened Israel’s closure of Hamas-ruled Gaza to Nazi tactics.

Falk has stood by his statements, but has cautioned that they should not be taken literally. Rather, he said, they should be taken as a warning that the Jewish state must heed 20th century history in dealing with its Palestinian neighbors.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and imposed sanctions after Hamas, an Islamist group sworn to its destruction, took over the territory and launched hundreds of cross-border rocket salvos.

The Foreign Ministry said it wants Falk to retract his Holocaust comparison and ensure that any report he issues on Israeli-Palestinian human rights violations include censure of the Gazan rocket attacks.

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April 13th, 2008, 9:48 pm

 

98. wizart said:

Is OIL really expensive?

Take a look and compare?!!

PRODUCT US$/Barrel
Crude Oil (Brent) 118.50
Coca Cola 126.45
Milk 163.38
Snapple 237.72
Perrier Natural Mineral Water 300.61
Tropicana Orange Juice 307.44
Budweiser Beer 447.25
Scope Mouthwash 682.34
Starbucks Venti Latte 954.24
Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Ice Cream 1,609.44
Pinot Grigio Wine 2,117.75
Bertoli Olive Oil 2,370.71
Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Whiskey 4,237.63
Tabasco Pepper Sauce 6,155.52
Visine A.C. Eye Drops 39,728.64
FLONASE Nasal Spray 902,304.00
Chanel No.5 Parfume 1,666,560.00

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April 27th, 2008, 7:02 pm

 

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