Back in 2011, the Ministry of Environment stated that forest areas have declined from 35% of the total area of Lebanon in 1965 to 13% in 2009 and they are even less than 13% nowadays according to Minister Akram Chehayeb. The disappearance of green areas is estimated at 0.4% annually and reforestation is estimated at 0.83 annually according to Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk which is not enough. For this sake, the “40 million forest trees” initiative was launched back in December 2014 and will hopefully result in planting 40 million trees in 70,000 hectares of public land and cost approximately 400 million dollars. Once done, this project should bring back the % of green areas to around 22%, increase resilience to climate change effects, protect against erosion, increase rain incidence and encourage tourism and recreation.
Of course this sounds great but unfortunately there has been many reforestation attempts in Lebanon over the past 20 years or more, yet green spaces are still threatened by urban expansion, quarries, forest forest, insects and diseases and more importantly a lack of fund to sustain reforestation initiatives. Only a month ago, I was arguing on why I am against destroying 51000 trees to build a dam because there are no clear plans to minimize the environmental impact. On another note, we have new fires ravaging new forests every year yet our fire fighters still have old fire trucks, old equipment, no substances to fight the fires and sometimes barely any water.
Picture taken from GreenResistance
In all cases, we can’t be but supportive of such initiatives and I’m hoping that the “40 million forest trees” will be completed fully. If you want further information on this initiative, check out this useful presentation by Chadi Mohanna, Director of Rural Development and Natural Resources for the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture.
I’m going to Kobayat to take part in a reforestation campaign next weekend
Finding a parking spot was always a problem back in my AUB years, but I don’t recall ever hearing about fuel thefts and I am surprised that these things are happening right outside the campus on AUB’s seaside. According to a friend of mine and Outlook AUB’s article, fuel thefts began back in September but became more frequent in the past few weeks. Six cars have already been targeted and two students claimed their car’s fuel tank was punctured twice.
I think this is a very serious problem for two reasons:
– Makhfar Ras Beirut (Previously known as Makhfar Hbeich) is located on Bliss Street and there are always police bike patrols on the sea side, so such incidents should not happen very often. Since AUB cannot guarantee parking to its students, the administration should work closely with the authorities to set up cameras along the sea side and provide better security for their students. The Dean of Students Affairs, Talal Nizameddin has already stated the need to cooperate with the police to stop these crimes.
– Punctured gas tanks are a threat to the driver and people around him as they may lead to a fire or even an explosion specially if it’s a huge leak. Some of the students interviewed in Outlook reported driving for some time before realizing their tank was punctured but luckily none of the cars caught fire.
This being said, stricter safety measures have to be implemented the soonest in order to avoid any tragic outcome. Setting up cameras is a necessity but until it’s done, bike and car patrols should be doubled and I recommend that students take a quick look at their fuel tanks before they drive off for their own safety.
I hope they catch these criminals the soonest! Here’s a [link] to the Outlook AUB’s article written by Lama Miri.
A number of AUB students recently reported finding their cars with punctured fuel tanks emptied of gas, as their vehicles were parked on AUB’s seaside. With insurance not covering the expenses of the repairs, students were forced to pay bills of up to $1,050. Meanwhile, the perpetrators are still at large, and authorities have yet to take adequate preventative measures.
Among the targeted vehicles were three different Nissan cars, a Honda, a Renault, and a Peugeot. The fuel thieves clearly singled out larger models, which are easier to handle than smaller ones. All the cars had plastic reservoirs, and in some cases, the gas reservoir was punctured.
“It was explained to me that it was done using an electric drill on a stick, which means that this is pure vandalism,” said business student Anas Aboul Hosn. “Whoever did this didn’t intend to steal the fuel – if they did, they would have come prepared and we wouldn’t have had such a big fuel puddle around the car.”
This picture was taken by Omar Ibrahim for Reuters and shows Hajja Maimouna (not Mayssaloun) Al-Amin hugging her great-great-great granddaughter in her home on Mother’s Day in Akkar. Maimouna al-Amin was born in 1890 which makes her 125 years old, while the oldest verified person ever was French woman Jeanne Calment, who died at the age of 122 years, 164 days.
Maimouna el Amin’s Birth certificate
I’m wondering if anyone bothered to try and verify Hajja Maimouna’s birth certificate because if it is accurate, that would make her the oldest woman in the world. I found this old interview with her and she looks great for a 125 year old! Funnily enough, she even claims to have been born years before.
I spotted this video yesterday showing Zahle guys trying to reinvent the Harlem Shake dance in a hair salon. I can’t confirm if it’s a recent video or not but it’s quite hilarious and it could easily go viral. Let’s call it the “Zahle Shake” and see other hair salons in Lebanon do the same lol!
Speaking of Zahle, they’re still celebrating online the fact that they have 24/7 electricity and I believe the people running the EDZ Facebook page deserve an award for the slogans and videos they are putting, as all my Zahle friends can relate to them and are enjoying them.
MP Ali Bazzi retweeting a picture of an Indian woman carrying an Englishman in 1903.
Lebanesetweets.net is a pretty cool website set up by my friend Mustapha for indexing and organizing Lebanese tweets done by Lebanon’s Members of parliaments. You can filter out “MP Tweets” by district, sect and party. It’s a nice idea but our MPs tweet mostly boring stuff, except for Joumblatt maybe.
I expect to see journalists, celebrities, bloggers, famous Lebanese tweeps and other online influencers added to that list soon so keep checking it as everything Mustapha puts his hands on becomes useful. He’s the guy behind LebaneseBlogs in case you haven’t heard about it.
PS: This tool makes use of the Nouwweb Api that was created previously to get the latest tweets from the Lebanese Members of Parliament, filtered by relevant criteria.
A 10 year old kid called Rafic Ahmed Jomaa went missing yesterday around 10:30am during the mini marathon in the La Marina Dbayeh. The Civil Defense and security forces started looking for him only to find out that he walked all the way back to his house in Barja! The child was interviewed by MTV where he confirmed he walked all the way back home. He was visited later on by May El-Khalil, Founder and President of the Beirut Marathon Association.
I’m still finding this story hard to believe because Barja is 45 kilometers away from Dbayyeh and it would take at least 5 or 6 hours to get there from Dbayyeh assuming you know the road well. In all cases, the good thing is that the kid is safe because the road he chose to walk can be quite dangerous in many spots. Nevertheless, the cops and the BMA organization should investigate more thoroughly what happened and how this kid managed to miss his bus and walk the length of a marathon to get back home.
We celebrated Mother’s day on March 21 but it also happens to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and on this day, MARCH Lebanon invited us to remember the thousands of mothers that came from around the world to work in Lebanon and support their families. There are over 200,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon coming from the Philippines, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Ethiopia and working under horrible conditions that sometimes border on modern day slavery. In the past week only, two domestic workers committed suicide yet we barely heard about them or knew why they decided to end their life.
Unfortunately and despite the fact that racism in Lebanon is still widespread, the real problem has always been in the Kafala (Sponsorship) system that hasn’t been abolished yet and allows agencies and households to enslave the domestic workers and mistreat them. KAFA Lebanon once followed the journey of a migrant domestic worker (from Nepal and Bangladesh) from recruitment to working and shed the light on some alarming facts and stats. To list few:
– 69% of domestic workers either borrow money or sell their properties to cover the recruitment and travel fees to Lebanon.
– 96% of domestic workers reported that their passports were confiscated by their employer.
– 64% of the women worked more than 15 hours a day.
– 62% of the workers reported experiencing verbal abuse, 36% reported physical abuse and 8% reported sexual abuse.
We need to end the sponsorship system and give domestic workers the same rights as any foreign worker. It’s about time we stop racism against domestic workers and all foreign workers and refugees in Lebanon. Having said that, we can only hope that this Mother’s day will be the last sad one for Lebanon’s foreign domestic workers but their fight is a long one.
That’s just crazy stuff! More than half a ton of sanitary towels containing a radioactive substance were seized today at the Beirut Rafic Hariri Airport. The pads confiscated were all Chinese-made and delivered to Lebanon through Dubai. The news were reported by Reuters but they didn’t mention what level of radioactivity had been detected.
I think this is far worse than expired or rotten products and I hope the authorities will be able to trace back the source and see if any radioactive products are being sold in the market. We need to know the name of the company and who the hell is sending half a ton of radioactive sanitary towels to our market. On another note, this is the first time I hear about the Lebanese Atomic Energy Agency. I had no clue we had such a thing in Lebanon so I looked up a bit and found a website and the below info:
The Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission (LAEC) was established in 1996 with the support and collaboration of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Arabic Atomic Energy Commission, in order to promote the peaceful application of atomic energy in Lebanon. The Commission is the only institution of its kind within the CNRS. Recently through its operational arm a radiation protection infrastructure is being established. The Commission is currently involved in environmental and food monitoring programmes using state of the art equipment and techniques.
Joumana Haddad is Lebanese journalist, activist, poet, instructor, author and the head of the cultural pages for An Nahar newspaper, as well as the editor-in-chief of Jasad magazine, a controversial Arabic magazine specialized in the literature and arts of the body. She’s an exceptional woman that speaks seven languages and was recently ranked among the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women in 2015.
Joumana was supposed to fly to Bahrain on the 6th of April to attend a cultural event, however an online campaign (#البحرين_لا_ترحب_بالملحدين) was started against her visit and as a result, she was denied entrance because she’s an atheist and a threat to society. How is being an atheist a threat to society? Unless Joumana chops heads off and trains terrorists while pretending to write poetry, I think that’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard of.
In all cases, it’s their loss as any country should be proud of having women like Joumana Haddad.
Update (19 March 2015):: Here’s a small french text I found about the monument
“Le groupe en bronze sculpté par un italien du nom de Mazzucati a pris la place du monument en pierre de Youssef Hoyeck représentant deux femmes, l’une chrétienne, l’autre musulmane. Considérées comme pas assez «glorieuses», les pleureuses Hoyeck n’on connu qu’heurs et malheurs: Attaquées par un fou en 1948, déboulonnées en 1960, elles furent retrouvées enduites de goudron dans un dépôt avant d’être finalement restaurées et exposées dans le jardin du musée Sursock ou elles sont désormais bichonnées par la passionnée conservatrice Sylvia Agémian. La mobilité des monuments et leur déboulonnage institutionnalisé ont fait des émules chez les voisins: Au printemps 2005, portraits équestres, en pied ou en buste à l’effigie de chefs d’états, fils de chefs d’états et fils de chefs d’états devenus chefs d’états qui enjolivaient le pays furent démantelés et évacués par leurs propriétaires, mêmes. “
It basically says that “Les Pleureuses” which were built by Joseph Hoayek were damaged by a crazy man in 1948 and then were removed and displayed at Musee Surosck where they still are. One of the readers promised to send me a picture. I will post it once available.
Update2 (20 March 2015): I got two close-up pictures of the monument from one of the blog’s readers. Thanks a million Maissa!
I was going through old pictures of Martyrs Square and I found this very old picture of a monument of a Christian and a Muslim Lebanese women holding hands that was apparently removed in the 1950s right before the construction of the Martyrs Monument. I’ve never heard of that monument before and I couldn’t find out why they decided to remove it and replace it with the Italian sculptor Renato Marino Mazzacurati statue that we all are familiar with.
I tried looking at old pictures of Martyrs Square (Before 1950) to try and locate where the monument was but couldn’t really figure it out. However if you notice the monument was right below the Philips sign which is showing in newer pictures (1950s and up). I know it’s not a big deal but it would be nice to know the story behind that statue, how it came be and where it is now. Here are a couple of pictures of how Martyrs Square looked in the 1930s and a newer one from the 1950s.
PS: If anyone has further information on that statue, please do share.
Martyrs Square in the 1930s
Martyrs Square in the 1930s
Martyrs Square in the 1950s: Notice the Philips sign