Category Archives: Information

Stop Attacking The New Traffic Law

Posted By :

I understand people criticizing certain aspects of the new traffic law and how police officers will be penalized for breaking the law, but refusing the traffic law because the roads are bad and not lit, or because you saw a cop running a red light is absurd. I agree that the new law is tough when it comes to fines, but again that’s not an excuse for not abiding by the new rules and becoming a better driver. It’s like ditching classes because the classroom seats are not comfortable, or as my friend Mustapha stated yesterday “refusing to take an exam because the school has no electricity”. If you want to keep on speeding, running red lights, not wearing seat-belts and driving recklessly, then you are an idiot and I hope you get fined and thrown in jail.

Don’t confuse the traffic law with other issues like the infrastructure, security and corruption because they are different. Implementing a new traffic law is as important as enhancing security, fixing roads, fighting censorship and corruption and protecting your freedom of thought. We need to become better drivers, the same way we need to become more environmentally friendly and less corrupt, and only a tough law and raising awareness will do the job. Again this doesn’t mean that the law is perfect and doesn’t have any flaws, but let’s do our part and start pressuring the authorities to do theirs as well. Speaking of which, there are 4 issues that I’m still not comfortable with and that I believe need to be tackled properly:

1- Political and security convoys: Is the police allowed to stop them? What happens when they are driving dangerously and cutting off people?
2- Fake License plates: This is unfortunately becoming a trend whereas crooks use fake car plate numbers and cause other drivers to get fined.
3- Settling the fines: Fines always used to come late (sometimes a year late), which is unacceptable. The ISF needs to figure out a way to automate the process.
4- Valet parking companies: Valet guys park everywhere illegally and throw away fines sometimes. They need to be severely penalized and banned if needed.

Until then, let’s drive safely and let’s hope the new traffic law will last more than 2 months this time.

IMG-20150422-WA0016 How the Lebanese reacted to the new traffic law – at the Mecanique in Dekwaneh

PS: Watch out for trains.

666 via Tayyar

Only In Lebanon: When You’d Rather Have Cancer Than Protest Against Your Political Party

Posted By :

I spotted posters on the Jounieh highway inviting locals to protest against the Zouk powerplant on Saturday the 25th of April at 3pm. I texted a friend, who happens to be from Zouk Mikhael, and asked him about the protest and whether he’s going or not. He told me that he’s definitely not going because the protest is organized by people he disagrees with politically (wou 3am bya3emlouwa benkeye and maybe he’s right). I asked him whether his party or whomever he’s supporting are doing anything to fix this problem and he didn’t have a clear answer. Instead, he started attacking others and blaming them for not doing anything.

This small talk pretty much sums up the Zouk power plant situation and how Adonis and Zouk residents and municipalities, as well as Keserwan MPs and ministers haven’t done anything to shut down this polluting and hazardous plant. Some people have been lobbying since the days of the Camille Chamoun presidency, yet all their efforts have gone in vain because it’s all about politics and some people would rather get cancer from the toxins dispatched by the chemical plant than protest against their Zaiims. I don’t know how some Lebanese can be so nonchalant about their health and the well being of their children, specially when there are studies showing an increase in cancer due to this power plant.

The Zouk plant has been operating for more than 50 years and is polluting the whole country not just the Keserwan area. A couple of years back, emissions were reduced by 80% by Minister Gebran Bassil but this is not enough as filters aren’t apparently an effective solution. I don’t know what Zouk residents are still waiting for, but they are jeopardizing their health and their family’s health by keeping things as they are. What’s even worse is that more buildings are being built around the plant and the area is becoming overpopulated, not to mention the new beach resorts that are opening every summer, and the third smoke stack that might be added.

To sum things up, if the problem is that we can’t get rid of the power-plant that easily, municipalities should raise awareness on its dangers and keep people away from it. They should also organize protests and pressure the authorities to cut down the pollution and agree on a plan to remove the power plants once and for all. At the same time, municipalities should do what Zahle did and try to figure out alternatives (renewable energy solutions maybe?) to provide their towns and villages with 24/7 electricity, that way they will be able to negotiate on better terms, noting that Zouk residents don’t even get 24/7 electricity! It’s quite absurd that the authorities are allowing people to build new residential areas, commercial centers and beach resorts around the Zouk power plant while there’s a yearly increase of cancer cases and other diseases due to this plant!

For those of you who think that there’s no solution to this matter, check out this study done by Patrick Kallas that I found online and that proposes four solutions to the Zouk power plant issue, and I’m sure there are other studies and solutions published online.

As far as Saturday’s protest is concerned, I don’t know who is organizing it but that’s not how you achieve things. You need to convince residents that you have a certain strategy, that you will be following a certain plan of work and that these protests will eventually get somewhere not just end up on some local TV’s news bulletin for 2 minutes.

20150419_103418

20150419_103401

Confirmed: Salma Hayek Coming To Beirut For Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet Movie Premiere On April 27

Posted By :

Salma

I wrote a couple of weeks back that Gebran Khalil Gebran’s The Prophet animated movie is set to be released on August 7 2015 in LA and New York, but I had heard that it might debut in Beirut by end of April and the news got confirmed few days ago on the movie’s Facebook page. Salma Hayek is coming to Beirut on April 27 for The Prophet’s Beirut premiere and worldwide launch!

The Prophet will feature a voice cast including Salma Hayek as Kamila little Almitra’s mother, Liam Neeson as Mustafa, John Krasinski as Halim, Alfred Molina as Sergeant, Quvenzhané Wallis as Almitra and Frank Langella as Pasha. Gebran Khalil Gebran was born in 1884 in Bcharreh, a village in the north of Lebanon in 1884 where he was buried and a museum was inaugurated in his memory in Mar Sarkis’ monastery. The Prophet was published in 1923 and is Gebran’s most popular work. The book has been translated into over 40 languages and has sold over 100 million copies.

I’m really looking forward to this movie and I hope I will get to meet Salma Hayek in Beirut. Check out the movie’s [trailer] in case you haven’t already.

Can You Live With 11,000LL for 5 days? Three AUB Students Are Taking The Live Below The Line Challenge

Posted By :

Haifa

30,000 people from all over the world are taking the “Live Below The Line” challenge by spending £1 (2,200LL) a day for 5 days and attempting to raise over £7 million for the world’s leading anti-poverty organisations. Out of these 30,000 there are three AUB students that are taking the challenge, Haifa Harb, Sandra Shaban and Hadeel Hmaidi and raising money for Human Care Syria, an organization that delivers quality humanitarian aid and development programmes to affected communities in Syria and neighbouring countries.

Haifa is already at Day4 and has exceeded her goal of £1000 while Hadeel and Sandra are on their last day have also exceeded their £400 set goal. What’s important is that you can still donate and show support to these three brave girls because what they are doing is really amazing and tough. I honestly don’t think I can pull off such a thing while having a full time job (two actually) but if anyone wants to participate, all the information you need is on the [website].

Haifa1

Just to give you an idea of what your meal is like if you can spend only 2200LL per day, Haifa had:
– 1 egg and 1 banana for breakfast.
– 1 cup of noodles and 2 rolls of bread for lunch.
– 1 banana and 1 roll of bread for dinner.

If you wish to donate to any of the three candidates, here’s the [link] for Haifa, the [link] for Hadeel and the [link] for Sandra.

Update: There’s also Farah Hashem taking the challenge. You can help her meet her goal [here].

PS: If you know other Lebanese or students in Lebanon taking the challenge, please let me know so I can add them.

Hadeel Hmaidi

Forest Areas in Lebanon Are Now Less Than 13%!

Posted By :

Shouf Shouf Biosphere Reserve

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.

kobayat I’m going to Kobayat to take part in a reforestation campaign next weekend

Thieves Are Puncturing AUB Students’ Gas Tanks To Steal Fuel

Posted By :

punc How a punctured fuel tank looks like – Source

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.”

Lebanon’s Oldest Woman Hajja Maimouna Was Born In 1890 And Could Be The World’s Oldest Woman

Posted By :

oldest

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.

Akkar 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.


[YouTube]

Ta2 El Chelech El Zehlewé (Zahle Guys Gone Crazy)

Posted By :

ta2

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!

Zahle2

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.

Here are the last two videos shared:

Zahle

[YouTube]

Meanwhile, generator owners are still upset and decided to come up with a boring Facebook page to answer the EDZ people. It’s definitely better than attacking and destroying electricity transformers.

11071741_10155352925505174_4307273589434011984_n

Lebanesetweets.net : Where Lebanese MPs Tweet Boring Stuff (Except Walid Joumblatt)

Posted By :

tweets 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.

Missing Kid From Marina Dbayyeh’s Mini-Marathon Walked Back To His House In Barja

Posted By :

Rafic via BMA

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.

barja

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.

Marathon via BMA

Update: The child’s parents confirmed he didn’t know his way back. That makes the story even more complicated.

[YouTube]