“Beyrouthin” Added to the French Dictionary

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bey1

After two years of signing petitions, publishing articles and writing letters to the French Academy and Larousse, Tamyras were finally able to get Larousse to add the word “Beyrouthin” to the French Dictionary. Beyrouthin has been used since 1844 according to Tania Hadjithomas Mehanna but was never included in the dictionary.

“Beyrouthin” can be found in the 2017 Larousse edition between “Beylisme” and “Bezef”.

Felicitations les Beyrouthins!

Shameful “Anal Exams” Still Taking Place in Lebanon

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HRW

Human Rights Watch published an 82-pages long report on the forced anal examinations on men and transgender women accused of consensual same-sex conduct in which cases were reported in Lebanon in the past five years. The report was based on interviews with 32 men and transgender women who underwent forced anal examinations in Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and Zambia.

It’s quite shameful to see Lebanon being featured in this report as these “tests of shame” were banned in Lebanon back in 2012 and the Justice minister at the time, Shakib Qortbawi, issued a statement calling for an end to anal examinations on men accused of homosexual conduct. Even the head of the Lebanese Order of Physicians Dr. Sharaf Abu Sharaf issued a directive back then calling for an end of the procedure:

It is scientifically established that this procedure is not even qualified as an experimental procedure. It does not provide the needed result and is considered a grave violation against the people who undergo it, and it is done without their prior consent. It is a humiliating practice that violates their dignity, and it is torture according to the definition of CAT [Convention against Torture].

The reason why anal exams are still being used in Lebanon is due to some doctors, and prosecutors, who are not aware or not complying with the circulars that were issued in 2012. Of course, there are also police members who are still requesting such tests as recently as 2015 as reported by Dr. Sami Kawas, a forensic medicine specialist in Beirut.

The only way to end these tests is to inflict a severe punishment on those who are still conducting it. A warning is not enough as these tests violate article 30 of the Lebanese law on medical ethics, which prohibits doctors from engaging in harmful practices, as well as international standards against torture including the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Lebanon has ratified.

Any doctor who performs an anal examination should be kicked out of the syndicate and forbidden to work again. Any police officer who requests such tests should be jailed.

Check out the full report [here].

shame anal

Help 56 Year Old Rozine Moughalian Raise Funds For Her Liver Transplant

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casemedrozine Rozline’s daughter Catherine Moughalian

This is a truly painful story. I wish I could do more than donate a bit of money and spread the message but I can’t. I think someone should try to reach out to Minister Bou Faour to handle this case and treat Rozine Moughalian for free before it’s too late.

Rozine’s daughter is trying to raise funds for her mom’s liver transplant before the end of month otherwise she won’t make it. Rozine lives in Bourj Hammoud and developed subacute liver failure in the past 3 months, which doctors were unable to diagnose and suspect possible drug or toxin exposure. The condition developed quite fast, and Rozine went from working three jobs two months ago to being hospitalized with a terminal condition today. She is currently in need of a liver transplant without delay (within the next two weeks).

You can donate [here].

Here’s the full story:

It is an extremely difficult process to find donors and secure funds in such a short period of time. So, due to bureaucratic procedures and time constraints, she can’t receive a liver transplant in Lebanon and it was recommended by doctors that she be transferred abroad for proper assessment and treatment. We are currently aiming for transferring her to Iran or India, these being the cheapest options. France was also an option earlier but it costs double what the surgery would cost in Iran or India.

Mom does not have the money for such a surgery, and she doesn’t have access to free quality healthcare. We need to raise at least 200,000 USD by the end of the month to be able to fund her surgery or it will be too late.

I find it absurd that my mom won’t get to live out the month because we can’t afford the money or a donor. She has the right to access free medical care, she has the right to get appointments with doctors without wasta, and the right to be admitted into the hospital at the expense of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) without having to wait a day in the ER while we make the “right calls to the right people.”

In a country where our basic rights are not available, or only available to a select few, sticking together is more of a basic need than duty. If you feel you can donate, any amount will bring us closer to the goal of keeping my mom alive.

I understand if you can’t donate, but please share this message with people who you think can help, either financially or by pointing us to people who have had a similar experience and can help with procedures and logistics.

I urge you to gather your resources as I am gathering mine. Thank you for reading this.

In solidarity,
Catherine Moughalian
If you have means of helping other than donations please contact me:
catherine.moughalian@gmail.com 961 3 098 817

[YouTube]

Lebanon Improving In The Networked Readiness Index

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leb_nri2016

The Global Information Technology Report (GITR) is prepared by the World Economic Forum, INSEAD and Cornell University and examines “the increasing proliferation of technology and its effects on advancing global prosperity”. Digital innovation is reshaping economies worldwide and pressuring states and tech and non-tech sectors to adapt to the speed and scale of changes while mitigating ethical, legal, and regulatory risks.

As far as Lebanon is concerned, it still ranks among the worst Arab countries in terms of Networked Readiness but was the second biggest mover this year, gaining 11 ranks to land in 88th place in the overall NRI. The NRI currently assesses the state of networked readiness using 53 individual indicators. For each of the 139 economies covered, it allows the identification of areas of priority to more fully leverage ICTs for socioeconomic development.

Here’s what the report said:

Importantly, the country is registering substantial positive moves in all four subindexes. In terms of adoption, Lebanon is doing best in individual usage (46th), followed by business usage (97th) and government usage (124th). Most indicators of personal usage have been improving over the past year, with the business sector catching up in its use and adoption of digital technologies; with overall perceived progress in business adoption being slow around the world, this is a positive exception to the trend. Starting from a low level, government indicators are also moving in the right direction: in particular, the regulatory environment is improving in terms of judicial independence, the efficiency of the legal system, and the effectiveness of law-making bodies. Substantial
improvements are registered for the impact of ICTs on business models, organizational models, basic services, and government efficiency. Building also on a solid basis in terms of education, skills, and knowledge-intensive jobs, Lebanon has many of the factors in place to continue on this positive trajectory.

leb_prof_gi2016_1

This is encouraging news of course but we are still very far behind and the technological gap between Lebanon and Gulf countries is already substantial.

You can check out the full report [here]. Lebanon’s profile is on page 142. If you look at the indexes, almost everything government-related is ranked among the worst worldwide

Thank you Rami!

Updates on MOT’s 2020 Strategy: 4G/LTE on Track, DSL is Bad

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One year ago, I shared a lengthy post on the Telecom Ministry’s 2020 plan and mentioned that fiber optics are expected to be deployed within 5 years while 4G/LTE coverage was expected to all over Lebanon.

Fiber Optics:

Both the Telecom Ministry and Ogero were committed to implementing this plan but the illegal internet case that was raised almost 4 months ago turned things upside down. Three of Ogero’s top officials, including Abdel-Monhem Youssef were indicted over “negligence that led to the squandering of public funds and evading taxes by allowing some people to set up unlicensed internet in the country.”

The illegal internet companies operating had a bandwidth equivalent to 1/3 of the bandwidth set by the Telecom ministry and as soon as they were cut off, DSL speeds which were already average became worse and there were several outages during the first few weeks but then things went back to normal, and by normal I mean relatively decent internet speeds inside Beirut and lousy ones (barely 1.5MB) in most of the areas outside Beirut. I was told that Ogero opened up the bandwidth several times ever since Youssef disappeared and to cover for the illegal networks that were shut down but I can’t confirm that.

So in terms of fiber optics, I highly doubt that it will happen by 2020 but the least that should be done is upgrading internet stations from the current DSL connections to +VDSL.

4G/LTE Coverage all over Lebanon

This part of the MOT 2020 plan is still on track fortunately. 4G+ was announced back in March by Alfa and Touch and the first phase of 4G+ deployment was organized few days ago by both telecom operators in the presence of Telecom Minister Boutros Harb.

During Alfa’s event, they did a stunt with Lebanese champion Abdo Feghali who joined the press conference towards the end and went on a live drifting session to demonstrate Alfa’s 4.5G LTE-A network speed. Check out the last 5 minutes it’s pretty cool.

Launching the Internet support hotline 1516

The Telecom Ministry introduced a new hotline (1516) that consists of a dedicated team (a sort of emergency unit) aimed at helping customers with internet issues. I’ve tried it a couple of times and it’s practically Ogero’s customer helpline and as you probably know by now, my experience so far with their support has been a really disappointing one.

Overall Verdict:

The only reason I trusted this plan might work is that Ogero was committed to it, but I’ve been repeating it for years that having a state-owned (privately-managed) entity controlling the Telecom sector is a recipe for disaster and that’s why we are here now. I had hopes that we’d get this plan implemented and then go back to the political bickering between all parties but the illegal internet scandal was so big Ogero’s head flew for a whole month if not more to Paris, presumably for “medical purposes”.

In regards to the Telecom Ministry, blaming them solely for not knowing about the illegal internet stations and failing to implement the fiber optics is unfair but I believe Minister Harb should have communicated better what’s happening with the online community and responded to major complaints like the cost of additional MB consumption on 3G plans and the lousy DSL connections in remote areas.

All in all, our 3G/4G speeds are good enough but quotas and prices need to be improved while DSL speeds are still lousy and we are in desperate need of an upgrade VERY soon! I’ve said that back in March and repeat it: “we will have over 3 million internet users in Lebanon by 2017, Lebanon has the 4th highest internet penetration in the region and we still cannot get a proper 2MB DSL connection outside Beirut, and sometimes even in Beirut. This is embarrassing and unacceptable.”

My Ogero DSL Internet Stopped Working Two Weeks Ago

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ogero11 Photo Credits: Executive Magazine

Two weeks ago, my home internet stopped working, the internet button on the Ogero DSL modem turned red, I tried restarting the modem, turning it off and on, I checked all the cables, everything was fine, the phone line was still working but the damn button wasn’t turning green anymore.

I called Ogero the second day to submit a complaint and they sent a technician two days later to check what the problem was. Needless to say, you have to on standby all day waiting for the technician because they don’t specify a date and time for their visit, they just call you anytime they want from a number all Ogero technicians use (you can’t call back it’s almost always busy) and tell you they are on their way.

First Visit:
The Ogero technician called me around 10 AM on a Wednesday if I’m not mistaken, I wasn’t home so I asked him to wait for a second to see if my brother can meet him. I tried calling back for 15-20 minutes the line was busy and by the time I reached him he had left so I asked him to come back the next day.

Second Visit:
I made sure there’s someone at home the second day and the guy showed up around the same time. He went up checked the Ogero modem then went down to check the cables, the one coming from the pole to the phone cabinet inside the building and from that cabinet to the house. He told me that the box is fine and that the problem was with the cable from the building’s phone cabinet to the house and that I need to call “Ogero Cables” to come fix it.

Third Visit:
I called Ogero again and asked for the Ogero Cables unit. They sent another team to check the problem and again I had to keep someone on standby all day. After checking the cable, they told me that they can’t fix it and that I need an electrician. I answered back that I was told you guys can fix it, they said no get an electrician to replace the cable.

Weird Call from Ogero Jounieh:
The day after, I got a weird call from Ogero Jounieh asking me about what’s happening but the line was bad and the guy hung up. I tried calling back but I got a fax number instead.

I fixed the cable and the modem still wouldn’t work:
A week after Ogero’s failed attempts to fix the problem, I called an electrician and replaced the cable from inside the building to my house with a thicker and better one. Surprise Surprise the modem still didn’t work.

At this point I thought the problem was with the modem, so I got a new one and it worked briefly but then it stopped again. That’s where I called my electrician again and we tested the modem on the line coming from the electric pole directly to the building but it didn’t work as well. It was clear at this point that the issue with the external cable not the one inside the building.

What am I supposed to do now?

I’ve been using my 4G at home for two weeks ago, I am almost sure that the problem is with the Ogero box and the external cable and that they got it all wrong. What I will do is replace the external cable, the one from the Ogero box to the building and ask them to come plug it since I am not allowed to.

What is pissing me off the most is that their support is pretty much useless. You call the guy and he submits a complaint and tells you to wait for them, and then you have to waste half your day waiting for that technician to come and do a wrong diagnosis. They are supposed to be replacing the cables and fixing them not us and they should be more flexible with their appointments and understand that there are other people who work during the day.

If getting a new external cable doesn’t work tomorrow, then the problem is even worse. Let’s hope for the best. I will keep you posted and if anyone has a better idea, please do share.

PS: Ogero is not the only one with a lousy home service. Most businesses in Lebanon don’t set a proper date and time and require that you are home before noon for example.

$880 Million To Clean up Lebanon’s Litani River

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Litani Photo Credits: Bashaar Tarabay

Two years ago, a seven-year plan that will cost $733 million was approved by the Finance & Public Works committees in the Lebanese Parliament to clean up the catastrophic pollution at the Litani river and Qaraoun Lake. The plan consisted of “expanding sewage treatment networks, managing solid waste and pesticide pollution into the river, and helping factories reduce the dumping of chemicals into the water”.

Two years later, the proposal is still on hold and nothing was done to stop or even limit the pollution happening at the Litani River. As a result, cleaning up the river will now cost us almost $900 million dollars! If we break down the original cost of $733 million, it was as follows:

14 million will go to solid waste treatment.
$2.6 million for agricultural pollution.
$2.6 million for industrial pollution
$712 million for sewage treatment. [Source: Daily Star]

GettyLitani-1 Polluted Litani River Photo Credits: Gettyimages/JosephEid

If we compare the length of La Seine river in France (777 KM) and the cost of its clean up ($10 million dollars) as per the below MTV report, the $880 million dollars cost to clean up the 170 KM long Litani river may seem outrageous but we are talking about two different projects so it’s not a valid comparison.

Nevertheless, I don’t trust the government will do a proper job especially after they’ve neglected that river for year and I’m quoting my friend Nadine “allowed the dumping of industrial and quarry waste which turned 37 percent of its water into a brownish muck, making it no longer suitable for swimming or irrigation, and affecting farmers and residents of the Bekaa and south Lebanon who rely on the river”. There are more than 140 farms that are using this polluted water to irrigate crops such as wheat, potatoes, and various other vegetables and fruit, so this is indirectly affecting all of us.

[YouTube]

Nadine from Newsroomnomad wrote a lengthy post on this matter, emphasizing that the problem is due to a lack of awareness and infrastructure.

Was a Pokémon Go Player Arrested in #Lebanon?

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pok

People have been sharing since yesterday a story about a Lebanese Pokémon Go player that got arrested for playing the game near the General Security HQ in Beirut. Apparently the guy was looking for a rare Pokemon near the building when security guards spotted him and arrested him. He was interrogated briefly then released (after he got laughed at).

I tried digging out the source but I couldn’t find any reliable one and the security forces didn’t issue any statement on that incident, so it’s probably fabricated but I am confident we will hear about arrests due to Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go mania has officially hit Lebanon and hundreds of people attended the first meeting up last week. Just look at the video below:

PS: I personally played it for two days and lost interest.

Full Hospitalization Coverage For Lebanese Above 64

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hos Photo Credits: Al-Akhbar

Lebanon’s Public Health Minister Wael Abu Faour announced that he will implement soon a new plan to provide full medical coverage after retirement in an attempt to “bridge the gap between the state and citizens” and to make sure that no Lebanese is deprived of health care.

The first thing that comes to mind is how much will this plan cost, but the minister is saying the state will actually reduce its cost in other areas by implementing it. It’s one of those “too good to be true” plans that we never thought would be implemented in Lebanon but Abu Faour is quite confident about it.

Just to give you an idea about the hospitalization coverage plans in Lebanon, people who retire at age 64 are no longer allowed to apply to the NSSF (as far as I know) and are either covered by their family or have to get insured somewhere else.

The details of Abu Faour’s 100% medical coverage plan should be announced today at the parliament. I think it’s a good initiative and I hope it will be properly implemented.