Phase 1 of The Beirut River Solar Snake (BRSS) is almost complete and the photovoltaic (PV) farm currently set will generate 1.08 MWp and help light up around 1000 houses by Q1 2015. The BRSS is expected to generate up to 10 MW to support the EDL (Electricité du Liban) once done and will feature high-level security, with a 3-meter fencing around the plant and CCTV cameras, in addition to around the clock security personnel.
Even though the 1 MW of electricity produced won’t do much to meet Lebanon’s growing energy requirements, I think this is a great step forward as we need to rely on renewable energies to compensate for our energy problems. If we sponsor hundreds of similar renewable energy projects across Lebanon, we will be able to stop relying solely on generators as an alternative and cut down on pollution as well.
The highly talented ASHEKMAN brothers have been covering the ugly political slogans and stencils from Beirut’s walls way before the Ministry of Interior decided to do so, and they’ve been sending out positive messages through their amazing graffiti murals, Arabic calligraphy, as well as Arabic rap music and street wear.
For those of you who are not familiar with ASHEKMAN, it was established in 2001 by identical twin brothers Mohamed & Omar Kabbani. Recently, Beirut’s municipality decided to remove their “To Be Free Or Not” mural in Achrafieh instead of encouraging and sponsoring young Lebanese artists to remove the ugliness from the city’s walls and replace them with beautiful artwork.
ASHEKMAN are not planning to slowdown anytime soon and have many upcoming murals to paint in Beirut, so stay tuned!
Amal Clooney is taking on her next big case, which is representing Armenia’s interests in a historic trial before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The case is an appeal of a 2013 ruling by the Supreme Court of Europe, in which the court decided that a Swiss law prohibiting the public denial of the Armenian genocide is a violation of freedom of speech. Clooney will attempt to refute testimony from countries like Turkey who still deny the genocide that was committed by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923 and that caused the death of 1.5 million Armenians. Amal was recently representing the 3 Al-Jazeera journalists arrested in Egypt and risked arrest for her positions.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and it’s about time Turkey recognizes the genocide and pays for its crimes!
Here’s the full transcript of the first court session taken from the Telegraph:
Amal Clooney, the human rights barrister, has accused Turkey of double standards on freedom of expression for defending a Turkish Leftist who described the Armenian genocide an “international lie”.
Mrs Clooney, who is representing Armenia on behalf of Doughty Street Chambers along with Geoffrey Robertson QC, said Turkey’s stance was hypocritical “because of its disgraceful record on freedom of expression”, including prosecutions of Turkish-Armenians who campaign for the1915 massacres to be called a genocide.
She took on the case against Doğu Perinçek, chairman of the Turkish Workers’ Party and an MP, who was found guilty of genocide denial and racial discrimination in Switzerland in 2007, but had his conviction overturned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after being defended by Turkey’s government.
The ECHR upheld his right to question in a “debate of clear public interest” and questioned if it was possible to define as a genocide, a policy of deliberate extermination, the massacres and deportations of Armenians by the Turks a century ago.
The human rights lawyer, who married George Clooney her Hollywood film star husband last September, accused the Strasbourg’s court’s human rights judges of being “simply wrong”.
“It cast doubt doubt of the reality of genocide that Armenian people suffered a century ago,” she said
“Armenia must have its day in court. The stakes could not be higher for the Armenian people.”
Switzerland has laws against the denial of all genocide as part of its anti-racism laws but the ECHR ruled that Mr Perinçek’s right to freedom of speech was violated when he was convicted as a criminal by a Swiss court for his claims.
In a December 2013 judgement, the European court concluded that there was not a “general consensus” that the massacres of Armenians had constituted genocide and that only 20 countries out of 190 worldwide classed it as such.
Only three European countries, Greece, Slovakia and Switzerland, ban the Armenian genocide denial. A French law was overturned on free speech grounds in the country’s constitutional court three years ago.
Speaking in Lausanne in 2005, Mr Perinçek had said that the legal definition of Armenian genocide was an “international lie”, but did not dispute that the killings and deportations had taken place.
Four and half minutes into her evidence of the historical record concerning events in 1915, including Ottoman Empire admissions of war crimes, the barrister was asked to conclude by the judges.
“Mrs Clooney may I draw your attention to the fact that the Armenian government has gone over the time allocated, so I ask you to conclude,” said Dean Spielmann, the president of the court.
She went on to insist that Armenia did not want to limit free speech or historical debate and accused Turkey of having double standards because of it’s own poor record on freedom of expression.
“Armenia is not here to argue against freedom of expression anymore than Turkey is here to defend it. This court knows very well how disgraceful Turkey’s record on freedom of expression is,” she said.
“You have found against the Turkish government in 224 separate cases on freedom of expression grounds.”
The Lebanese lawyer made a reference to Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor, who was prosecuted by Turkey for arguing that the 1915 massacres were genocide.
Mr Dink was then assassinated by a Turkish nationalist in 2007 for his views and ethnicity as an Armenian.
“Armenia has every interest in ensuring that its own citizens do not get caught in a net that criminalises speech too broadly. As the family of Hrant Dink know about all too well,” she said.
In his evidence to the court, Mr Perinçek denied any motivation to incite hatred against Armenians, telling judges that he had been imprisoned for speaking up for one of Turkey’s other ethnic minorities, the Kurds.
“We are here for the liberty of Europeans,” he said. “Liberty for those who criticise the established status quo.
“I share the pain of Armenian citizens, you can not find a word of mine that expresses antagonism against them. I hold the great powers responsible for what happened in 1915. There should be no taboos for the right to speak.”
His arguments were dismissed by Armenia’s legal team which was supporting Switzerland in defending the “unshakable” conviction.
Geoffrey Robertson QC accused Mr Perincek of being an admirer of Talaat Pasha, one of the organisers of the Armenian genocide, a man he said was the “Ottoman’s Empire’s Hitler”.
Mr Robertson argued that the Turkish Left-wing nationalist had travelled Europe deliberately trying to provoke a conviction for genocide denial in order to “arouse his supporters in Turkey”.
“It was made by a man who only came to Switzerland in order to be convicted. That was his purpose. He went to Germany, France, at the end of the day he tried to go Greece to expostulate but was turned away. He is genocide denier forum shopper,” he said.
“He is an incurable genocide denier, a criminal and a vexatious litigant.”
Asked by the Telegraph about fevered speculation about what she would be wearing for the court appearance, Mrs Clooney laughed and pointed to her black barrister’s robes.
“I’m wearing Ede and Ravenscroft,” she joked, in a reference to the famous English company of legal robe makers and tailors since 1689.
Mr Robertson said he was was surprised at the rows of photographers when legal teams entered the court, which does not generally excite press attention or attract packs of photographers.
He said he was pleased that coverage of the case would focus attention on Mrs Clooney’s career as a lawyer rather than her private life as the wife of a film celebrity, Hollywood actor and director.
“It is not about white gloves or yachts. It puts the record straight, she is a human rights lawyer,” he said.
Simon Badaoui dedicated his life to helping people since his early age and was a Lebanese Red Cross volunteer. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with leukemia five years ago and an online fundraising campaign was started last year to cover all the expenses needed for his surgery and treatment. All of Lebanon supported Simon and the expenses were covered in few days only, but unfortunately Leukemia is not easy to fight and Simon died two days ago.
Check out this hand-draw short movie by Marylin Haddad that beautifully sums up everything we go through in our beloved Lebanon. It’s about a girl called Leila trying to dance in order to survive her daily stressful routines just like each one of us has found a way to relieve himself from all this stress and uncertainty.
Only few days ago, things were relatively calm and peaceful and all of a sudden, we were on the verge of a new war with Israel.
OTV shared a video two days ago showing Strida Geagea saying “Nchallah ya Rab” when Journalist Denise Rahme informed her about what happened in the South two days ago between Hezbollah and Israel. As it turns out, the video was genuine but cut off and MP Geagea was saying “Nchallah ya Rab ma yisseer shi” or something like that which makes a huge difference obviously.
Surprisingly, OTV did apologize indirectly but they insisted that the video was not altered, which is true in case they didn’t have the whole footage (I doubt that) but that doesn’t justify misleading viewers and starting an unnecessary and unfounded controversy.
The real issue here is not what MP Geagea said or not, as even her opponents know she’s politically correct and smart enough not to say something, but it’s the lack of professionalism in a lot of TVs, newspapers and news portals in Lebanon. Whomever allows himself/herself to share such a video, or any video or picture without double checking the source is a disgrace to journalism and I think it’s about time these people get seriously fined. I am a blogger who doesn’t get paid for what I write or say yet I always triple check the source before sharing any story as I like to stay credible. Journalism based on rumors, fabricated stories and catchy misleading guidelines is not really journalism.
In all cases, Nchallah ya rab tokhlass billi sar min yamwoumen bil Jnoub
Celebratory gunfire is dangerous as the falling bullets off walls, break through glass windows and occasionally cause injuries or tragic deaths. This is a known fact and we’ve had quite a few awareness campaigns against it but nothing has changed and the proof is what happened today. When I tweeted today that Nasrallah (or any political leader) should ask his followers to stop shooting guns in the air, I was told he has already warned against firing in the air but in vain.
If that’s really the case and our leaders are against these practices, then I recommend doing the following:
– Prohibit all party followers to fire their guns in the air as a general rule.
– Identify those who violate this rule and confiscate their guns.
– If they are not members or supporters of a certain party, coordinate with the ISF and Army to confiscate their weapons and arrest them if needed. This was already implemented on few occasions in sensitive areas in Beirut and it worked out fine.
Minister Rifi asked the state prosecutor to prosecute those who fired celebratory gunshots and RPGs (yes RPGs!) during Nasrallah’s speech tonight, but we need a more pragmatic approach and I believe Interior Minister Machnouk is more than able to do something to stop these reckless people once and for all.
This is a rather old story but a fascinating one and I am surprised I’ve never heard about it until now. It’s about a Lebanese-American doctor called Georges Hatem, also known as Ma Haide or Dr. Ma, who became the first foreigner to be granted citizenship in the People’s Republic of China. He was also the first foreign member of the Chinese Communist Party and Mao Zedung’s personal doctor.
Who is Georges Hatem?
George Hatem was born into a into a Lebanese-American family in upstate New York. His father had moved from his hometown Hammana to the United States in 1902 and got married back in 1909. Soon after being married, the Hatem family moved to Buffalo, New York, where his wife Nahoum took a job at a steel mill. It was in Buffalo where their first child, George, was born on September 26, 1910. Hatem attended pre-med classes at the University of North Carolina and medicine at the American University in Beirut and the University of Geneva, and set off to Shanghai to establish a medical practice to concentrate on venereal diseases, as well as basic health care for the needy. Hatem never came back to the US and despite accusations by party members that Hatem was a foreign spy, he established a remarkable healing presence and harnessed the will of the Chinese people to eliminate venereal disease from their country. [Source]
Via Wajid el Hitti
Dr Ma was credited with helping to eliminate leprosy and received the Lasker Medical Award in 1986. He died in China in 1988 and was buried at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery that you can see in the picture above. Hatem was honored in Hammana where a main square of the city is named after him. There’s apparently a movie about him that is broadcasted frequently in China and shows an American doctor affirming Communist ideology but I couldn’t find it.
Update: I added 3 pictures showing Dr Ma’s memorial in China, his son holding the family tree and a picture of the Embassy of Lebanon in Beijing all provided by Wajid el Hitti who visited the embassy and his son there.
Here’s one of the few videos I found online of George Hatem.
So first we have people demonstrating against 24-hour electricity in Zahle and now we have employees protesting after they got fired for not showing up to work. The title is of course a joke but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them didn’t know where the Casino du Liban is. According to LBCI, some of them used to get paid up as high as $11,000 without any attendance … while others were residing outside Lebanon.
Of course if some of these 191 fired employees never skipped work or weren’t among the corrupt ones, then it’s their right to protest but those who used to get paid and never showed up to work should be fined not just fired.
Casino du Liban was plunged into a major crisis on Tuesday after the board of directors sacked 191 contract employees in a step it described as a “salvation” move, which prompted the laid off workers to shut down the vital tourist attraction. “Due to your lack of discipline and your irregular attendance at work, hence your lack of productivity at the Casino du Liban company, it has been decided to consider you dismissed from work at your full responsibility as of the evening of Friday, January 30, 2015,” the company said in a dismissal letter sent to the employees. [Link]