Category Archives: Critiques

Why Is Noah Zaaiter Giving TV Interviews?

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Zaiter-_Loop

For those of you who don’t know Noah Zaaiter (نوح زعيتر), he is one of Lebanon’s most notorious drug lords and the leader of the country’s most powerful drug family. Even though there are tens if not hundreds of warrants against him, he seems pretty relaxed and has given over 3 TV interviews recently. I can understand a one-time interview with one of the local TVs but when a state-owned TV (Tele Liban) interviews him and he’s giving lengthy interviews left and right, joking around and sending death threats, then something is terribly wrong. Next thing you know he’s running for parliament!

Back when LBCI interviewed the terrorist Fadl Shaker, everyone was outraged and bashed the station for days even though it was a very short interview, not a 2 hours and a half one like Zaaiter.

For those who think that he’s funny and entertaining, keep in mind that he’s a fugitive wanted for drug trafficking, car theft, terrorism, arms trafficking, kidnapping, as well as opening fire at security forces. As for those who believe that he’s “helping” the poor families of the Bekaa through his business, I can understand to a certain extent families supporting him against the government’s incompetence and negligence but it’s still not a valid reason to see him all over TVs.

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Civil Defense Volunteers No Longer Responding To Emergency Calls

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civil defense

Civil Defense volunteers were distributing this memo on Friday night where they state that they are no longer responding to emergency calls until the government passes the decree and they become full-timers.

I am not sure if this is just a threat or it was really put into effect, but this is a very serious threat given that the Civil Defense is the only firefighting and rescue force covering all Lebanese territories.

It’s about time the government passes this decree once and for all.

The General Security Adding More Confusion To The Renewed By Hand Passports

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passport via Annahar

First they released a memo that all those who have old renewed passports or passports that include accompanied individuals such as children need to get new passports before the 10th of January, after which they will no longer be considered valid on departure.

Second and after everyone freaked out and spent hours trying to get a new passport, they re-assure us that the General Security will not reimburse for the cost of new passports, and that The International Aviation Organization is not accepting passports that have been renewed by hand anymore.

Third and last, they just released a memo that these same (invalid) passports won’t be confiscated after the 10th of February and that they will never resort to confiscating passports.

I’m lost but I won’t be taking any chances with them. I’m getting a new passport in the next couple of weeks, hopefully for 5 years because some people told me they were unable to renew for more than 1 year.

Asking The Wrong Questions

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tripo

MTV shared yesterday a chart that showed the Ministry of Public Works spending by area, in order to “prove” that Christians areas are barely receiving 18% of the total expenditure. They picked cities that have a Shiite majority (Baalbeck, Hermel, Nabatieh, Bent Jbeil) and compared them to areas of Christian majority like Matn, Jbeil, Jezzine, Zahle and Bcharreh.

I am not really sure what they were trying to prove, but they failed miserably because what matters here is how this money is being spent and not in which area. I currently live in Keserwan and I am more interested in knowing how these 3 billion Liras were spent because the roads are worse than ever and nothing has really changed in the past year or so. Corruption is the real problem in Lebanon and fueling sectarianism through such reports will only strengthen those who are in charge now.

More importantly, and I think this is the real scandal here, MTV were complaining about the lack of spending in Batroun yet they missed out on the fact that Batroun got almost twice as much as Tripoli, the most populous and poorest city in the north. (Thank you Mustapha for noticing that!)

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Do We Need A Second Airport In Lebanon?

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airport

A friend sent me the above picture few days ago and asked me if it was feasible to make use of the Kleiat airport for commercial landings and take offs. I answered that renovating the Kleiat airport is not that costly and is feasible but there’s no political will to do so, which I won’t discuss on the blog because it’s useless.

Here are 5 reasons why we need a second airport in Lebanon:

1- Security:
How many times was Beirut’s airport closed? How many times did people block the road to the airport? How many incidents do we hear about in the airport and around it? The airport and its surrounding are not the safest and it only makes sense to have a second alternative.

2- Competition:
Assuming that a different management will be handling the Kleiat airport, we will have more flights and maybe more competitive prices. More importantly, a second airport might encourage Beirut Airport staff to better treat visitors because the reception and treatment are becoming worse every year. We don’t even have a proper taxi line outside the airport.

3- Convenience:
If I live anywhere between Jbeil and Halba, it’s much easier for me to land in Kleiat and drive home. Traffic is a serious problem and it’s easier sometimes to drive from Kleiat to Jounieh than land in Beirut and drive to Jounieh on a week day.

4- New job opportunities:
A new airport means new job opportunities inside and outside the airport. It will also boost tourism in the area and attract new investors and businesses.

5- Why Not?
Saying that Lebanon is too small doesn’t make any sense. We need a second and a third airport in my opinion. It’s more about common sense, convenience and efficiency than anything else.

kleaitt

Our current airport has serious problems that can no longer be overlooked. We keep hearing about corruption, passengers smuggling illegal goods, security concerns among other things. Recently, the European Union raised concerns on the safety regulations at the Beirut airport yet the government hasn’t done anything yet to fix things.

Let me know what you think.

Why is It so Hard To Approve The Civil Defense Volunteers Decree?

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civil

The government failed today to pass a decree that would have made Civil Defense volunteers full-time workers because they ran out of time! The volunteers have been protesting for almost 2 months now, they vowed to head to Syria to contribute to the humanitarian efforts and never come back, they set fire to their uniforms, they blocked vital roads today and they even threatened to stop responding to any emergency call across Lebanon, yet the government didn’t find any time to pass the decree!

Of course I’m against blocking roads because their fight is against rotten politicians not the people but I can understand their frustration and it’s about time this decree is passed and these volunteers are made full-time employees.

Just to give you an overview of the whole situation, the Civil Defense is the only firefighting and rescue force covering all Lebanese territories while Beirut is the only area that has its own fire unit. People who volunteer to work for the Civil Defense are usually promised to become full-timers within few years unlike the Red Cross where people don’t expect anything in return. This being said, some Civil Defense members have been volunteers for over 10 years and are still not getting paid any money, which is totally unacceptable!

A lot of them love what they are doing but need to provide for their families and don’t want to lose all these years of experience at this point. They should be made full-timers and more importantly given the proper training and equipment. If the government doesn’t want to pay volunteers from now on, let them make it clear for all those joining the Civil Defense.

All in all, let’s hope that the decree upgrading Civil Defense volunteers to full-timers will be approved during the next Cabinet session as promised by Mashnouq.

PS: Around 1500 civil defense volunteers are expected to become full-timers.

“Gods of Egypt” Movie Renamed to “Kings of Egypt” in Lebanon

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gods via Jad

Does anyone know why Gerard Butler’s latest movie “Gods of Egypt” was renamed to “Kings of Egypt” in Lebanon? I first thought it was a mistake but then I noticed the same poster is being used online. If someone got offended by the title, this is freaking ridiculous!

I wonder if they are going to use a voice over to censor every time they say “Gods” in the movie and replace it with “Kings”. Now that would be hilarious, sad but hilarious!

Update: The distribution company apparently decided to rename it to “Kings of Egypt” for the Middle East release to avoid any censorship from the authorities or outrage from religious figures.

kings

Safety Measures At Jeita Grotto Were Never Good Enough

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jeita

On Saturday, an Egyptian tourist called Mina Ashraf Wadih died in the lower part of Jeita Grotto after he accidentally slipped in between a gap between the dock and the boat and fell into the freezing water. The Egyptian tourist was not provided with a survival vest and it wasn’t a “stampede” that led to his drowning as it’s clearly shown in the video below. At this point, I think the only party to blame here is Jeita Grotto’s management especially that the Grotto wasn’t supposed to be open apparently during winter but the Tourism Ministry should have also made sure the grotto is safe years ago.

egyptian

I’ve been to Jeita two years ago and the safety measures taken there were clearly not enough, especially in the lower part where they take you on a boat trip without life vests and there’s no one around to rescue you if you fall in the water.

There has always been a question mark on the company managing Jeita Grotto and I wish they had taken the proper measures before this tragic incident occurred but being proactive is not really our thing in Lebanon. In all cases, the Grotto is closed until further notice and the accident is being investigated.

Here’s a video showing the second the Egyptian tourist fell into the water. Start watching at Minute 3:30.

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Beware of Fishy Contractors Digging Up Your Neighborhoods

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IMG-20160123-WA0038

Update: The company who was digging is called Caporal and Moretti on behalf of the Ministry of Telecom. They came today and fixed the lines and everything.

A couple of weeks back, I was visiting a friend at his place and we were working on an online project when the internet went off for some reason. We tried resetting the DSL router but then noticed the landline wasn’t working anymore. At this moment, my friend remembered spotting few days ago a couple of workers digging up the street outside so he went to check out if they were still there and had anything to do it and soon realized they had cut some phone lines by mistake while trying to install a different cable. The workers had no costumes, no logo, no signs and they looked like they didn’t have a clue what they are doing.

IMG-20160123-WA0036

When my friend asked them who’s in charge, they had no answer but one of them stated they were Ogero contractors so we called Ogero (1515) to register a claim and tried to reach the 1516 hotline but no one was answering.

Few days later, an Ogero guy passed by to examine the phone line and it was working somehow, but when my friend asked him about the digging, he had no clue who was behind it. Then he went out to the street to check out the works but it started to rain so he left.

IMG-20160124-WA0009 The workers were kind enough not to cover the hole with garbage bags

The day after, the phone line stopped working once again and someone had closed the hole in the street as if nothing happened. My friend tried once again calling but the answering machine told him his claim was already registered (it’s based on ur phone number) so there was nothing he could do at this point except wait.

All in all, my friend is still without internet or phone for almost two weeks now because of a reckless contractor and he didn’t get any feedback yet from Ogero. Personally speaking, I’ve had previous issues with Ogero and they usually answer quickly but it looks like they have no idea who was doing what this time.

Morale of the story: If you ever spot random workers doing works in your neighborhood, check out who they are working for and make sure they know what they’re doing. Even if they are legit, they could be bazzi2 wou lazzi2 workers and not technicians, and could ruin things. Report them to Ogero or the municipality or the police if needed.

PS: I will update the post as soon as I have new information

Can Someone Explain To Me Why Nurseries Were Closed Today?

Posted By :

sun

I can understand to a certain extent closing down schools because there’s a storm and roads are bad but why did our Health Minister decide to close down nurseries as well?? Parents usually take their kids to the nursery because they work all day and have no other place to leave them. What are they supposed to do in that case? Take a day off because the Minister said so? If we can’t drive our kids to the nursery, we should all stay home then.

I think it’s about time the government stops closing down schools and nurseries every time there’s a storm. I don’t remember my school ever closing down because of a storm and there’s nothing special about the recent storms that we witnessed in Lebanon. If They are worried about buses not being properly equipped to drive in such conditions, then they could ask parents to drive their kids on that day or let the school decide.

PS: For all students reading this post, you shouldn’t get too excited about all these days off because the school will probably end up bringing you on Saturdays to catch up :)