Category Archives: Critiques

Beirut Municipality Wants to Ban Dogs On Sidewalks

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dogs Photo Credits: Achrafieh2020

Beirut’s Municipal Council met on Tuesday and issued a proposal to Beirut’s Governor Ziad Chbib to ban dogs, motorbikes and Arguile on all sidewalks on the Corniche Waterfront, as well as in Sassine and Horsh Beirut. They also requested that instructions are given to the municipal police to enforce these procedures “for banners and adverts to be erected informing residents and visitors of the new implemented procedures”.

I have no idea how the council managed to include dogs, Arguile and motorbikes in the same proposal. How is walking your dog harming others? I agree that dogs should be on a leash and kept under control but banning them is utterly stupid. In fact, such a decision only punishes responsible guardians and does not address the real problems that dogs and pets in general face in Lebanon.

On another note, the real problem on Beirut’s Corniche and other sidewalks are not dogs, but cars who double and triple parallel park there, as well as small coffee shops that offer car-delivery and cause loads of traffic. Arguile is also an issue but they can easily force people to smoke in specific places instead of banning it all together. As for motorbikes (and cars as well), they are already breaking the law by driving (and parking) on sidewalks and that’s something the police should be taking care of already.

PS: The valet parking companies are also breaking the law right in front of the municipality’s building in Beirut and are hijacking other people’s parking spots and not paying any fines.

There are No Streets Named After Fairouz or Saba7 in Lebanon

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fairouz1

An article published on Raseef22 was discussing the lack of streets named after artists in the Arab world and pointed out that there are no streets named after Fairouz in Lebanon, or Saba7 for that sake.

The Rahbani brothers have a street named after them in Antelias, Said Akl got his own street finally two years ago, Samira Toufic as well this year but there are still no Fairouz or Saba7 streets in Lebanon, even though that’s the least the authorities should do to honor them and plenty of other artists.

You can check out the original article [here].

fairouz

via Mustapha

A Proposed Bill To Prosecute Rapists In Lebanon. Bakkir Wlo!

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fight rape

Did you know that Article 522 of Lebanon’s penal code allows rapists to get away with their crime if they marry the woman they raped? That article was meant to preserve the “honor and dignity of the victim’s family”, whatever that means, but is a load of B.S and needs to be abolished ASAP.

Lebanese Forces MP Elie Keyrouz is proposing to cancel that law that allows “charges to be dropped against an offender if he marries his victim” and referred his bill to Speaker Nabih Berri. I don’t know what took Lebanese MPs that long to submit such proposal but it’s better late than never, even though I doubt the bill will pass.

Raising the minimum minimum legal age of marriage to 18 is also a must.

Child marriage is still a huge problem in Lebanon and is simply wrong. Check out KAFA’s stunt from last year.

Facebook Shuts Down Adeela Page

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adeelaoff

Update: Adeela is back

Adeela-عديلة page was taken down by Facebook for unclear reasons. Obviously someone must have reported the page but none of its content violates Facebook terms so this is pretty weird. I hope it’s just temporary because Adeela is hilarious!

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

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.