Marriage 101

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent

The wedding-cake-recipe-ideas divorce date, in the Middle East, has spiked considerably over the past few years, which has sounded the alarm for many of the conservative Islamic governments. In Saudi Arabia, the rate of divorce has escalated by almost 15% from 2008 to 2009. And in Kuwait, the divorce rate has skyrocketed to a whopping 187% over the last 23 years making it the highest rate of divorce in the entire world according to recent statistics released by the government. Most countries in the Middle East take a backseat role when it comes to divorce, leaving couples to figure it out for themselves. However, one country seeking to nip the notion of divorce in the bud, even prior to the marriage, is Iran.

Statistics on the Iranian divorce rate are sparse given the cultural and language chasm between the West and Iran, however a 1992 study by Sanasarian indicated that about 10% of Iranian marriages end in divorce (family.jrank.org), while according to divorcemag.com, less than 1 out of every 100 Iranian marriages end in divorce.

Regardless, Iran’s government-backed National Youth Organization has recently inaugurated its very first online pre-matrimonial course.  According to the group’s mission statement, the online course will seek to assist young Iranians in finding their perfect marital match while also maintaining strict Islamic values, which frowns upon premarital dating or relations of any kind. The organization also has high expectations, by educating Iranian youth prior to marriage, to cut Iran’s rate of divorce drastically.

The course is held, for free, in virtual classrooms online and lasts for 3 full months. Designed by top Iranian professionals and Islamic scholars, the course highlights the dangers of relationships out of wedlock and upholds arranged marriages as the best recipe for living happily ever after. Participants in the online course must also take a weekly test and, based on how well they do, will receive a diploma in the union of marriage.

However, since its inception, there is very little information known about the specifics of what the course teaches which has whipped critics into a frenzy. At the launch of the program a very general syllabus was released to the media, which provided more questions than answers. In a recent interview, well-known Iranian sociologist Shahla Ezazi said, “Awareness is fine but the question is what kind of a family they are seeking to promote.” In a blatant attempt to quell any controversy, the head of the National Youth Organization Mehrdad Bazrpash summated, “Marriage needs hundreds of hours of education.”

Iranian officials have also used the launch of the program as a soapbox to discourage harmful and extravagant practices when it comes to Iranian weddings, such as exorbitant dowries and expensive weddings that most families cannot afford. And to seal the deal in cementing the union of marriage, President Ahmadinejad has recently promised to give priority to employing newlyweds and providing affordable homes for recently married couples. Quite notably, the age in which Iranians now get married has increased exponentially due to financial circumstances and familial problems. For centuries, most Iranians would get married in their early twenties and today most Iranians marry in their late twenties or even early thirties. More and more couples in Iran are delaying their marriages indefinitely until the time is right or until they can afford to get married.

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Free Live Online TV Streams

December 22, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Free Live Online TV Streams

from TechCrunch by Nik Cubrilovic

onlinetvchannels

Most television studios have caught up with the web and made their shows available online, either with their own websites or with an aggregate effort such as Hulu. However most studios are still far away from offering live television online, leaving web users having to revert to an alternative means to source live TV web feeds. TVChannelsFree is a website that has aggregated live streaming video sources for almost 3,000 TV channels, and they can all be viewed with just a web browser.

Channels originate from over 80 different countries – from Eurosports through to local US governement programming. The site couldn’t be easier to use and access, and the performance of the streams is usually excellent. Some of the streams that are available originate from the stations own website, but in most cases the stream is either pirated, has bypassed geo restrictions or has bypassed a pay wall. Most streams are in Windows Media format, but there are others in Flash, Quicktime or SopCast.

In most cases it isn’t clear whos bandwidth you are using, but a quick look under the hood shows that the host servers range from being Akamai and Limelight, to network websites through to private servers. Technically this site, and others like it, are simply linking to the content (via a media embed) but as has been seen before this usually isn’t solid grounds for a defence when the copyright lawyers coming knocking. With the the big US networks imposing geo-restrictions on their web content, and thousands of other TV channels around the world without a web presence, the only choice at the moment for many is sites like TVChannelsFree.

If you are bored of the selection at TVChannelsFree or can’t find a particular channel, take a look at other similar sites such as ChannelChooser, wwwitv and beelinetv. They have a large number of channels in common (and seem to share the same sources) though some have categories of streams that others may not.

“Building a Foundation” UM Ann Arbor MSA Seminar

November 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Release

Muslim Students’ Association of University of Michigan Ann Arbor will hold a seminar on “ BUILDING A FOUNDATION “that will discuss FULFILLING OUR RIGHTS TOWARDS EACH OTHER. 

The Renowned speakers USTADH USAMA CANON and HAFIDH KAMRAN RIAZ will discuss our role in a contemporary society.

The seminar will be held at the University of Michigan  – South Lecture Hall , Medical Science Building 2., On November 13 – 15, 2009. The registration fee Online for $30 and $35 late registration – at the door.

Register Online: http://www.muslims.studentorgs.umich.edu. More info: Farhana Arif – fnarif@umich.edu or Musaab Salloum – musaab@umich.edu.

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Iran’s Cyber Battle

June 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Noah Shachtman, Wired

2009-06-15T185045Z_01_TEH202_RTRMDNP_3_IRAN-ELECTION More and more of Iran’s pro-government websites are under assault, as opposition forces launch web attacks on the Tehran regime’s online propaganda arms.

What started out as an attempt to overload a small set of official sites has now expanded, network security consultant Dancho Danchev notes. News outlets like Raja News are being attacked, too. The semi-official Fars News site is currently unavailable.

“We turned our collective power and outrage into a serious weapon that we could use at our will, without ever having to feel the consequences. We practiced distributed, citizen-based warfare,” writes Matthew Burton, a former U.S. intelligence analyst who joined in the online assaults, thanks to a “push-button tool that would, upon your click, immediately start bombarding 10 Web sites with requests.”

But the tactic of launching these distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attacks remains hugely controversial. The author of one-web based tool, “Page Rebooter,” used by opposition supporters to send massive amounts of traffic to Iranian government sites, temporarily shut the service down, citing his discomfort with using the tool “to attack other websites.” Then, a few hours later, he turned on the service again, after his employers agreed to cover the costs of the additional traffic. WhereIsMyVote.info is opening up 16 Page Reboot windows simultaneously, to flood an array of government pages at once.

Other online supporters of the so-called “Green Revolution” worry about the ethics of a democracy-promotion movement inhibitting their foes’ free speech. A third group is concerned that the DDOS strikes could eat up the limited amount of bandwidth available inside Iran — bandwidth being used by the opposition to spread its message by Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. “Quit with the DDOS attacks — they’re just slowing down Iranian traffic and making it more difficult for the protesters to Tweet,” says one online activist.

But Burton — who helped bring Web 2.0 tools to the American spy community — isn’t so sure. “Giving a citizenry the ability to turn the tables on its own government is, I think, what governance is all about. The public’s ability to strike back is something that every government should be reminded of from time to time.” Yet he admits to feeling “conflicted.” about participating in the strikes, he suddenly stopped. “I don’t know why, but it just felt…creepy. I was frightened by how easy it was to sow chaos from afar, safe and sound in my apartment, where I would never have to experience–or even know–the results of my actions.”

Meanwhile, San Francisco technologist Austin Heap has put together a set of instructions on how to set up “proxies”—intermediary internet protocol (IP) address—that allow activists to get through the government firewall. And the Networked Culture blog has assembled for pro-democracy sympathizers a “cyberwar guide for beginners.” Stop publicizing these proxies over Twitter, the site recommends. Instead, send direct messages to “@stopAhmadi or @iran09 and they will distributed them discretely [sic] to bloggers in Iran.”

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