Category Archives: Critiques

Lebanese Goalkeeper Hassan Bittar Suspected Of Match-Fixing by FIFA

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match

The football game between Al-Ahed Beirut and Altyn Astyn from Turkmenistan was flagged as a “suspicious match” in FIFA’s anti-corruption system and Al Ahed’s goalkeeper is suspected of match-fixing following his horrendous goalkeeping mistake.

If you look closely at the video, you will understand why. The goalkeeper seems to be looking away when the ball came to him and even if he didn’t do that on purpose, he could have easily reached the ball before it went in. It looks like he really wanted that goal lol!

I wouldn’t be surprised if the match was fixed. To be honest, I’ve lost hope in Lebanese football a long time ago, especially after 24 players, including members of the National Team, as well as were charged of involvement in the match-fixing scandal.

Let’s wait and see what FIFA decides.

[YouTube]

Thank u Nady!

Best Picture Oscar Winning Movie “Spotlight” Banned in Lebanon?

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movie

One of the biggest surprises of the Oscars last night was “Spotlight” winning the award for Best Picture. Everyone was expecting the Revenant to clinch the award, after receiving two of the biggest Oscars of the night (Best actor for Leonardo Di Caprio finally! & Best director) but it was Tom McCarthy’s drama about the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church that took home the best picture Oscar.

[YouTube]

In case you are wondering why we barely heard about the movie “Spotlight” in Lebanon, it’s because the movie never got here and probably won’t be showing in Lebanese theaters anytime soon. It wasn’t banned by the Lebanese authorities as it was rumored, but apparently the distribution company didn’t even consider showing it in Lebanese theaters. This was confirmed by Father Abu Kassem, head of the Catholic Information Center, who stated that they never received the movie for approval but that they didn’t mind showing it if it was an objective one and highlighted how the Church reacted to these accusations and punished these priests.

I’m not sure if the General Surety commented on this matter or not, but this is yet another proof that we need a law in Lebanon to stop film censorship, or auto-censorship in Spotlight’s case, and revoke the role of The General Security and religious committees in licensing, monitoring, and censoring creative works.

Until then, you can probably buy Spotlight from any DVD store in Lebanon or just download it online.


PS:The movie won’t be shown anywhere in the Middle East, not just Lebanon.

In 2001, editor Marty Baron of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll and Sacha Pfeiffer interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

If You Can’t Handle Criticism, Please Don’t Criticize Others

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criticism Le destin du Liban est tributaire de celui de la liberte de ses medias. L’existence du Liban est tributaire de sa liberte (Quotes from Gebran Tueni’s garden in Beirut)

A lot of Lebanese cannot handle criticism without feeling hurt, defensive or angry. Whether it’s constructive criticism, satire or mockery, a lot of people feel offended by the comments made on politicians, religious leaders, actors, or on Lebanese as a whole.

Every time a leader or a religious figure is insulted, we see reactions that only make the situation worse. I can understand people getting upset over a comedy skit mocking their leader, but I don’t understand how blocking roads and burning tires will achieve anything. Back in 2006, religious fanatics invaded Achrafieh to protest against Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet just because the Danish consulate is there. Also in the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of angry protesters blocking roads whenever someone insults or disrespects their political/religious/tribal/sectarian/feudal leader, and the most recent protests took place yesterday following MBC’s “lame” comedy skit on Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

If MBC broke any of the Lebanese laws, then let the authorities handle this issue. That’s one of the very few things that our government excels at, looking after online users that insult the president, a religious, or a prominent leader or even photoshoping posters. In fact, if the authorities were as efficient in tracking down criminals and terrorists as they are with arresting people over Facebook posts and Tweets, Lebanon would have been a much safer country to live in.

As for those who took the streets yesterday to express their anger or did so online, here’s one of my favorite quotes on this criticism:

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop.”

No matter if it’s a good or a bad criticism and even when it’s insulting and disrespectful, reacting angrily or blocking roads and burning tires will only make things worse and benefit those behind the original critique, no matter how negative it is.

Needless to say, this is not about what happened yesterday but about accepting criticism as a whole. We all need to start with ourselves, especially if we are bloggers or share opinions online. I personally read every comment that I get and always ask my friends to give me a sincere feedback on certain posts. I’ve learned a lot from negative and positive comments throughout the years and I love debating with the blog’s readers. It’s the only way to improve your posts and become a better and more responsible blogger. If you don’t do that, you will become full of yourself and grow further haters.

All in all, I personally believe that the press should be given the full freedom and that no one should be exempt from criticism, but we are still unfortunately very far from achieving that in Lebanon.

Police Certificate Costs At Least 500% More With LibanPost

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libanpost

I needed a police certificate for my wife and I last week so I called LibanPost to see if they can deliver it quickly enough. After several attempts to get someone on the phone, the operator told me that the police certificate costs 13,000 and that I have to pay an extra 15,000 to have it delivered, so a total of 28,000 for this piece of paper. Moreover, since this is a police record, you can’t do it on someone else’s behalf, so it will cost me 56,000LL in total, which is totally not worth it! In fact, if my wife and I go to the General Security, the whole thing would cost us 4,000 LL.

The Home Service is a very useful service and I understand putting a flat rate for the Home Service, even though I believe it should be less inside Beirut, but why is the police record priced at 13,000 when it only costs 2,000?

Lebanese Expats are Being Punished By The Lebanese State, not Saudi Arabia

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fears via AlAraby

Saudi Arabia decided to freeze the delivery of nearly $4 billion of grants to Lebanon last week, then it warned its citizens not to travel to Lebanon, followed by Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. Next thing you know, there are reports of Lebanese working in Saudi Arabia getting sacked for their alleged links to Hezbollah. None of the reports of Lebanese families getting deported were confirmed but it happened before and it might happen again.

Who’s to blame?
A lot of people are blaming Saudi Arabia and making fun of Gulf countries, others are blaming regional politics and the Syrian crisis but the truth is the Lebanese authorities are the only ones to blame. I stopped caring about politics a long time ago and I don’t believe what’s happening is strictly related to politics. What’s happening is the result of years of staggering incompetence, unparalleled corruption and dependence on the other. We cannot sit down and talk without bringing in representatives from half the Arab world, we cannot fix the simplest things without begging for money from Saudi Arabia or others, we cannot achieve anything without asking our neighbors for advice, or even worse, to step in and do things on our behalf.

When our Environment minister is attending environment conferences while garbage is all over the country, when our Education minister would rather close down schools every time it rains rather than properly equip classrooms, when your Prime Minister refuses to acknowledge a 6-month old garbage crisis, when your Justice minister wants to pursue a group of Lebanese burning an ISIS flag, when your Police is too busy protecting the Grand Serail from peaceful protesters, when no one asks about kidnapped army soldiers for months, when no one gets arrested for sending official fake papers to the Russian authorities, when the Military Tribunal is too busy questioning an 8 year old and lets a criminal like Michel Samaha walk away, when Lebanon’s most wanted drug lord is giving TV interviews left and right, then your problem is not a political one. Moreover, Lebanon stopped being a regional political player years ago and no one really cares what’s happening here.

I could go on and on but the end result is on: the Lebanese state is punishing Lebanese here and abroad and it’s the only party to blame. Needless to say, if you are still dumb enough to follow ANY of the political parties here, then you are also to blame and if you were expecting political freedom in Gulf countries, then you are also to blame. More importantly, if you still think Gulf states need us and you can outsmart them, then you are terribly wrong.

I think the solution is quite simple: Since Lebanon officially adopted a policy of “self-dissociation”, let them implement it and stick to it. We no longer have a role to play regionally and we can’t change anything on the ground, so let’s stick to our own problems and clean our own garbage (literally).

All in all, The Lebanese State is to blame, we are all to blame so let’s stop pointing fingers or apologizing to others because it will only make things worse.

Garbage Placed in Front of Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah’s Grave

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sabba7 Nabatieh Municipality is claiming the picture is fabricated

Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah is a Lebanese electrical and electronics research engineer, mathematician and inventor par excellence. He was born in Nabatieh in 1895, then traveled to the US where he earned a master’s degree in engineering sciences. “He entered the vacuum tube section of the Engineering Laboratory of the General Electric Company at Schenectady N.Y. in 1923 where he was engaged in mathematical and experimental research, principally on rectifiers and inverters and he received 43 patents covering his work”. [Wiki]

Last week, a picture was circulated online showing garbage placed in front of Sabbah’s grave in Nabatieh, but the municipality of Nabatieh quickly published a memo claiming that the picture is fabricated and that a group of people intentionally placed garbage in front of Sabbah’s grave and shared the picture online. Funnily enough, I was following the story on LebaneseMemes and someone posted an older picture with a different garbage in front of the grave as well.

To be honest, I’m glad that the Nabatieh municipality took this matter very seriously, even if their story doesn’t add up, and I hope that they take extra measures to keep this site clean, even if it’s placed between shops and rarely, if ever, visited by tourists or locals.

nabatieh Picture shared by the Nabatieh municipality

zbeleh2

Pictures via LebaneseMemes

Yet Another Garbage Scandal: Russia’s Letter Of Readiness Is Apparently Fake

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tol3et via YouStink FB Page

So first we’re told Russia has agreed to import Lebanon’s solid waste, then Chinook Urban Mining, the company in charge of exporting Lebanon’s trash, says they reportedly obtained approval from the Russian Environment Ministry and now Nikolai Gudkov, press officer at the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is saying the documents presented were fake lol!

Minister Akram Chehayeb doesn’t know anything about it and is blaming it on the Council for Development and Reconstruction. Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk is useless as always. Even Russian Ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin said his embassy is not involved in the matter.

I tried locating the TASS article (screenshot shown above) but I couldn’t so I assume it was written in Russian. I also tried to see if there’s a guy called Nikolai Gudkov in Russia but all I got were stories about a Russian chess master who got electrocuted while playing chess. I even searched on the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and still nothing.

It looks like garbage is here to stay.

Update: The article was in Russian only. Here’s the [link] and Gudkov does exist. He’s the head of press service of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources. Thank u Mario Achkar!

Stop Hating On Lebanon

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beiruting spain These two pictures were part of the FB post that went viral, yet were not taken in Lebanon

Every now and then, we see a new post about Lebanon going viral on Facebook, with the same set of cliché pictures and the same “40 Interesting Facts about Lebanon” that we’ve been hearing ever since people started using the internet, the whole “Lebanon has 18 sects, 40 daily newspapers, is 6000 years old, is not a desert, we created the alphabet” thingy.

However, the latest post, that has gone crazy viral over the past few days, included at least two pictures that aren’t even from Lebanon and that most people didn’t notice or chose to ignore. One of them was apparently taken in Spain and the other in Japan.

Here’s what the post said:

NO we are NOT in a desert. NO we don’t ride on CAMELS like others do. YES we have NATURAL snow slopes. YES we are a FREE country. Lebanon is 6000 YEARS OLD. THE BIBLE was named after our city BYBLOS. “THE CONTINENT EUROPE” was named after our phoenician PRINCESS EUROPA . The CHRIST made his 1st miracle at QANA in southern Lebanon.
And you are READING and COMMENTING on this post coz the PHOENICIANS our ANCESTORS taught you how by creating the ALPHABET . So stop asking WHERE IS LEBANON!!!

leb3 This is in Lebanon and it’s much better than the fake picture being circulated – via Dr. Antoine Daher

I never shared the post and I hate it when people share wrong information, self-inflated statements and misleading pictures but I don’t think we need to make a big deal out of it. The two pictures could very well be in Lebanon because they are just showing sexy girls on a ski slope and a snowy road. It’s not like he was sharing pictures of pyramids or the Tour Eiffel in Lebanon. There are tons of misleading posts like that on Facebook related to other countries that most of us tend to share from time to time without checking whether it’s true or not.

As far as the “facts” listed that are meant to help people figure out where Lebanon is, they are mostly wrong or exaggerated but again it doesn’t mean that we have nothing to be proud of as Lebanese. On the contrary, we have a very rich culture, a history that we should be proud of, and tons of facts that will make us feel proud to be Lebanese.

Kfardebian

On another note, and as I stated in a previous post, I cannot understand self-hating Lebanese who look for any reason to hate on their own country and promote it in a very negative way. In fact, I am not sure which is worse? Those who only seen Lebanon as heaven on earth or those who hate this country and want to leave.

I find both extremes wrong but I truly believe that seeing the positive in things not only reflects on our country but on the way we live our lives. I hate a lot of things that are happening here but I try to change them or ignore them (if possible) and focus on the things that make me happy and there are plenty of them. We do need a wake up call every now and then, and I agree with a lot of points raised by Elie from A Separate State of Mind on that same topic, but calling Lebanon a brain-dead country was wrong and as bad as “vulgar fetishization” (Thank u Mustapha for that term). Leaving is always an option for those who hate it that much; it takes time but it’s there and until then, do yourself a favor and try to enjoy the little things that make this country a special one.

PS: Since the author of that post couldn’t find proper ski slopes or snowy roads pictures from Lebanon, here are few recent pictures that are far better than the ones he shared:

cedars2 via LiveLoveCedars

cedars3 via LiveLoveCedars

mzaar via LiveLoveMzaar

haig2 via Haig Melikian

cedars4 via LiveLoveCedars

And this one from 1969!
1969

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.

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

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.