Municipal Police in Lebanon is usually recruited according to basic criteria and without any specific qualifications. You don’t even need a bachelor degree to apply for that position and barely any training is conducted upon employment. As a result, Municipal police members:
– Cannot enforce municipal prerogatives as they are not aware of them.
– End up fulfilling Municipal Council President (MCP) and council’s members’ agendas (whether personal or public).
– Cannot properly serve citizens.
More importantly, most of us have no knowledge of these basic rights and end up fighting with the wrong people or simply refrain from reporting issues because we don’t know how and where. Take for example some of these situations that we face almost everyday in Lebanon:
– Valet guys parking illegally or reserving parking spots that are supposed to be public.
– Shops exhibiting their products on the sidewalk and blocking it.
– Illegally placed banners on electric poles and trees.
– Garbage thrown randomly near your shop or house.
– Illegal dumping by construction companies or factories.
– Construction sites working during prohibited times in residential areas.
– Cutting off trees illegally.
Since municipal elections are near, and in an attempt to develop the ‘human’ factor in public bodies to better serve citizens, a handbook entitled “NAMAZEJ” was designed, edited and printed by Lebanon Renaissance Foundation and will be distributed to more than 3,000 municipal police members during introductory sessions in all Lebanese mouhafazats under the direct auspices of their respective mouhafez. The booklet was endorsed by the Ministry of Interior and is available online for those interested. [NAMAZEJ]
The Municipal police has a very high level of interaction with the people and should be aware of these rights in order to better serve the municipality and citizens. The ultimate aim from this campaign is “to improve the citizens’ quality of daily life in various regions, and trigger positive change in local governance practices” and this can easily be achieved by obeying the law and knowing your rights.
Beirut Governor Ziad Chbib has ordered the removal of illegally placed municipal election posters on public walls, fences, bridges, traffic lights, poles and others. He has also vowed to fine candidates who break the law.
I wish he had warned candidates before electoral campaigns had kicked off but it’s good news (as long as it’s implemented). I still can’t understand how people can vote for candidates who don’t have a problem polluting their own city’s streets and walls.
The collection of garbage resumed a couple of weeks ago but the garbage crisis is still ongoing as there’s still no agreement on other landfills (except Naameh) and garbage smells are all over Beirut. Unfortunately, the government and the concerned ministries haven’t yet spread any awareness on the importance of recycling and reducing waste and NGOs are still struggling to convince municipalities to stop throwing garbage randomly and start recycling.
Having said that, I still believe that we can put an end to this garbage crisis by sorting our own trash and encouraging our municipalities to recycle or simply by contacting the tens of companies in Lebanon that recycle. It’s our duty to keep the recycling momentum going and incite our friends and family to sort their trash and get rid of their waste in a proper way.
I’ve been sharing most of the awareness campaigns I’ve encountered or took part in and there’s one taking place tomorrow that I thought is worth mentioning:
Tomorrow happens to be Earth day, and #UberBeirut is partnering with Beeatoona to relaunch #UberRECYCLE and collect e-waste (small electronics, chargers, mobile phones, batteries, etc) from all around Lebanon and keep them away from landfills.
What is e-Waste?
Electronic waste, also known as “e-waste,” is the fastest growing waste stream in the world and is a major health threat. “Electronics contain numerous toxins, such as cadmium, mercury and lead, that when tossed in a landfill can leach into the ground, contaminating water sources and threatening communities as well as endangering the health of workers when improperly handled”. [Source] [e-Waste Stats]
How to take part in the #UberRECYCLE initiative?
All you need to do is:
– Download the Uber app if you haven’t already.
– Select the UberRECYCLE Option from the app between 11AM and 3PM on April 22nd
– If “UberRECYCLE” is available, a partner-driver will head your way to pick up your items. It’s very simple and for free of course.
Important: Make sure to check the list of approved items [here].
Spread the word and happy recycling!
I learned this afternoon that Yorgui Teyrouz, a civil rights activist, the founder of Donner Sang Compter Lebanon and a good friend of mine, is running on the Beirut Madinati list for the Beirut municipal elections.
What Yorgui has accomplished in the past few years is quite astonishing. He has been working relentlessly and has sacrificed everything to make Donner Sang Compter work and help save the lives of thousands of Lebanese in need of blood. Just to give you an idea of the work DSC Lebanon has done in the past 5 years, they were able to recruit more than 15,000 blood donors, 250+ committed volunteers and saved more than 50,000 lives.
Best of luck to you Yorgui and you can surely count on my support!
If you haven’t heard yet about Beirut Madinati and why I support it, here’s a [post] I wrote few days ago. If you wish to help, feel free to volunteer [here], follow them on [Facebook], [Twitter] and subscribe to their [YouTube] channel.
There are still no “internet” laws in Lebanon but that doesn’t mean Lebanon’s internet is free and uncensored. On the contrary, internet censorship is on the rise due to a lack of regulation and accountability practices and a lot of online activists or regular internet users are being wrongfully arrested and interrogated.
For that purpose, MARCH Lebanon, a civil movement actively fighting against censorship in all its forms, has launched a booklet where you can find all your “online” rights in an attempt to counter “the unregulated, illegal and unfair practices of censorship against the internet in Lebanon”.
The booklet first explains the “The Freedom of Expression in the Lebanese Constitution”, “The limits of Freedom of Expression according to the Lebanese Laws” and the difference between “slander” and “libel”, before moving on to the “IT Crimes” and the actions taken by the Cybercrimes and the protection of the intellectual Property Rights Bureau.
Here are 3 important things that you need to know:
1- You are held accountable for each and every word you publish and write on social media or on the Internet in general, should said word constitute a slander or libel according to the Lebanese Law.
2- If you receive a call from the Cybercrimes Bureau, ask for:
– The name and rank of the officer.
– A legal notice from the Bureau, not an invitation over the phone.
– Immediately contact the MARCH hotline 03 09 08 70 to inform them (For free).
– If you are a journalist and have a journalist card, you are not obligated to go.
3- Your Rights in interrogation and arrest:
– Contacting Family members and Friends
– Meeting a Lawyer
– Assistance by interpreter for non-Arabic speaker
– Right to remain silent
– Defend yourself without the use of force
– Medical examination
– Be informed of your rights
– Detention only by order of prosecutor for a duration of 48 hour extended once (total of 74 hour)
I recommend you read the [full booklet] and be aware of all your rights if you are ever accused of slander or libel, or asked to visit the Cybercrimes Bureau.
If you haven’t been following up on the #PanamaPapers leak then you are missing out on what could possibly be the biggest-ever leak of secret information. Almost 11.5m documents, 2.6 terabytes of information related to 214,000 offshore companies were drawn from Mossack Fonseca’s internal database. Mossack Fonseca is a Panama-based law firm whose services include incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands.
Offshore business is entirely legal but can also be used to hide illegal money (bribes, drug money etc …). Here’s what the #PanamaPapers have revealed so far:
– There are over 140 politicians from more than 50 countries connected to offshore companies in 21 tax havens. These include heads of state, their associates, ministers and elected officials. [Source]
– Vladimir Putin’s inner circle appears to control about $2 billion worth of offshore assets.
– The Prime Minister of Iceland secretly owned the debt of failed Icelandic banks while he was involved in political negotiations over their fate.
– The family of Pakistan’s prime minister owns millions of dollars worth of real estate via offshore accounts.
– Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pledged to sell his Ukrainian business interests during his campaign, but appears instead to have transferred them to an offshore company he controls. [Source]
– More than 800 wealthy Australians are under investigation by the Australian Taxation Office for possible tax evasion linked to their alleged dealings with Mossack Fonseca.
– Two big soccer figures named in the documents: Michel Platini and Lionel Messi. Officials that were charged in FIFA’s latest scandal were also mentioned.
Journalists have been working for over a year on the documents that were first leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung so check out the following [link] for more updates. I recommend you also monitor the Panama Papers Live Update Thread [here].
There’s no mention of Lebanese (yet) in the papers but the leaks have just started coming out so let’s wait and see. Meanwhile, here’s what Mossack Fonseca had to say:
“It is legal and common for companies to establish commercial entities in different jurisdictions for a variety of legitimate reasons, including conducting cross-border mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, estate planning, personal safety, restructuring and pooling of investment capital from different jurisdictions in neutral legal and tax regimes that does not benefit or disadvantage any one investor. Our services are regulated on multiple levels, often by overlapping agencies, and we have a strong compliance record.
In addition, we have always complied with international protocols … to assure as is reasonably possible, that the companies we incorporate are not being used for tax evasion, money laundering, terrorist finance or other illicit purposes. [Full Response]
Here’s a video explaining how you hide a billion dollars:
The 2016 World Happiness Report is out and Lebanon has surprisingly gained 10 spots. “GDP per capita” is still the most important explanatory variable in determining national happiness, followed by healthy life expectancy and social support for Lebanon.
Here’s the complete ranking list for Arab countries:
28- UAE (Down 8 spots)
34- Saudi Arabia (Up 1 spot)
36- Qatar (Down 8 spots)
41- Kuwait (Down 2 spots)
42- Bahrain (Up 7 spots)
67- Libya (Down 4 spots)
80- Jordan (Up 2 spots)
108- Palestine (No change)
112- Iraq (No change)
120- Egypt (Up 15 spots)
147- Yemen (Down 11 spots)
157- Syria (Down 1 spot)
Syria remains the least happy country in the Arab world and in the world right after Burundi.
You can read more about the report [here].
Al Liwaa is apparently shutting down soon, Assafir is not doing so well and is considering all its options. There are also rumors that Annahar must stop print and move online.
Assafir has been there since 1974 while Al Liwa2’s first publication dates back to 1963. Annahar is one of Lebanon’s oldest papers and was launched on 4 August 1933.
I don’t remember the last time I actually bought a newspaper. Print media is doomed and it’s time to move online. The real problem for me though is the current transition to online that’s proving to be disastrous, especially when most of the Lebanese media are relying on click baits, gossip and sex stories to attract more readers.
Picture via Ramez Dagher
The cabinet convened today at the Grand Serail to discuss the garbage crisis and came up with a temporary solution for the next four years. Here’s what they announced so far:
– The Cabinet approved to establish two landfills in Bourj Hammoud and Nahr Ghadir area.
– Naameh landfill to reopen for 2 months only.
– Beirut’s trash will be distributed to Costa Brava, Bourj Hammoud and the Sidon incinerator.
– Each municipality that has provided a land to establish a landfill will receive $8 million.
– 40 million dollars will be allocated for development projects of towns located near landfills.
– The Shouf and Aley areas landfill’s location will be determined later.
– The cost of every ton of trash sent to Naameh will be $6.
– Sukleen & Sukomi are here to stay until the bids are over.
Also, waste will be removed from streets starting Sunday or Monday according to LBCI.
Picture via Ramez Dagher
Meanwhile, the protesters at Riad al-Solh square called for a general strike on Monday, asking students not to attend schools or universities and employees not to go to work. They also vowed to take several measures to paralyze the country.
What’s my take on all that?
To begin with, I think the #YouStink call for a general strike is a bad idea and will never work. I am not saying their demands are not righteous but blocking roads will only backfire on them. As for the cabinet’s decision, it’s only a temporary solution and they are basically preparing for another garbage crisis in a couple of years. Also, why are they so determined to set up further landfills on the coast? Who is coming up with these ideas to pollute the coast with more dump sites?
The last thing we need are more landfills and incinerators yet that’s what they are proposing. What we should do is handle the garbage without landfills and The Lebanese Eco Movement has already proposed a solution to do so
All in all, garbage may be removed in the next few days and people will soon forget about it but if the cabinet implements his 4-year plan, expect another garbage crisis soon and further pollution due to the presence of landfills and incinerators.
I think the only way to avoid another garbage crisis in the next four years is for municipalities to start recycling and ensuring that waste is disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way. The solutions are out there, they are cheap and they are working out great for a lot of municipalities already.
Picture via Ramez Dagher
I am not really sure if it’s profitable to produce and use 1000 LL counterfeit bills but there are plenty in circulation apparently. I don’t think I’ll ever bother to check if a 1000 LL is counterfeit or not and I doubt that merchants/shops will do.
Nevertheless, here’s how you can verify that your 1000 bills are not counterfeit: