Wednesday, June 27, 2012

….But Can the Frog Still Jump Out?
I can still recall how fascinated I was when my middle school science teacher told us about the “boiling frog” phenomenon. Apparently, as some experiments had shown, if you put a frog in a pot of water and let the temperature rise very slowly, the frog’s reflexes (which are geared to respond to sudden environmental changes) will not react to the gradual heating of the water. By the time the temperature reaches a fatally high level, the frog is incapable of jumping out of the pot even if it wanted to. In fact some experimenters claim that frogs subjected to such experiments show signs of actually enjoying the deadly increase in warmth as long as it is very gradual.
That’s what came to my mind as I watched the smiling faces of happy strollers along the new elegant boardwalk of Beirut’s beachfront.
No one can blame those young men and woman for looking happy, or for being oblivious to the (dangerously) gradual degradation which their country is experiencing. It is those who are in position to turn off the switch before it is too late who deserve the blame.

Monday, June 25, 2012

How to Save Lebanon from its Looming Fortune

(This opinion was published in the Lebanese Dailystar on May 11, 2012 under a different title.)

It is now almost certain that Lebanon’s maritime exclusive economic zone contains hydrocarbon deposits. In fact, there appears to be quite a substantial amount of such deposits, according to advanced seismic tests prepared by the United States Geological Survey.

In spring 2010, the survey estimated the recoverable amounts of gas and oil in the Levant Basin in the Eastern Mediterranean (of which Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone constitutes close to a third in terms of area) at some $700 billion in gross market value. This is subject to likely upward revision, thanks to subsequent discoveries of large gas fields off the coasts of Haifa and southern Cyprus.

Egypt’s Revolution or the Brotherhood’s Evolution?

 A lot will be said and written about the historic drama currently unfolding in Egypt. Many of us spent Sunday afternoon glued to our television sets, mesmerized not only by the breathtaking events themselves, but also by what they meant for the political evolution of Egypt and the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Many thoughts were no doubt racing in the heads of millions as they watched President-elect Morsi deliver his acceptance speech last night. Three major ones were floating in mine: