Category Archives: Information

70-235463: A Legal Hotline By MARCH Lebanon To Fight Internet Censorship

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Internet censorship is wrong and a lot of bloggers, Twitter and Facebook users are still being summoned or questioned by the authorities for posts or pictures they either published or shared. In the absence of a law that regulates internet usage (Fortunately?) and protects the freedom of internet users, such practices are questionable and the majority of those summoned usually don’t have anyone to turn to and aren’t aware about their rights. Moreover, it’s very stressful when you get a call from the authorities asking you to come over for a coffee and a lot of people don’t know how to behave in such situations out of fear. For that purpose, MARCH Lebanon has been working for months on launching a hotline to provide support, advice and legal representation for any online user who is being harassed by the authorities.

The hotline was finally launched last week (70-235463) and the aim from it is not defy the authorities but to raise awareness on everyone’s rights, ensure that legal procedures are being followed and of course defend internet freedom in Lebanon. A booklet will be distributed on a later stage to inform internet users and more specifically social media users of their rights. The hotline will be operational 24/7 and you can even report people being harassed or websites being banned.

Make good use of this number and help protect internet freedom in Lebanon. Many thanks to the MARCH Lebanon team!

Speaking of censorship and freedom, here are some of the posts I’ve written on this issue:
Censorship In Lebanon: Ekhirta ra7 to2ta3
Is Freedom more important than security?
The 10 silliest acts of censorship in Lebanon

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AUB Student Found Dead Near Hamra Hotel

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bldg Investigators are examining the area where she was found and a construction site behind Midtown for clues.

A 21 year old student called Nicole Assaf was unfortunately found dead in an empty lot in Hamra near Midtown Hotel and Suites. Nicole was a civil engineering student at the American University of Beirut. Nicole is originally from Jbeil and was living in Hamra with a roommate.

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AUB mourned the student earlier today and investigations are still ongoing to determine what happened. Unfortunately, this is the second tragic incident in 2 years involving an AUB student. At this point, I believe it’s better not to make speculations out of respect to the victim’s family.

Sincere condolences to Nicole’s family and her friends.

Rima Karaki Silencing An Islamist Scholar Has Gone Viral Worldwide

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It feels great when a story like this one becomes a global sensation and is picked up by Time, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Independent and others. Rima’s interview with the London-based Sheikh has been seen over 6 million times in just few days which is quite incredible.

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Rima was interviewed by the Guardian and said the video “had a positive impact, particularly in patriarchal societies, where female journalists faced many more challenges than their male colleague”. She continued by saying that she doesn’t feel like a hero but like any man or woman with self-respect. Well I think she is a hero because Lebanon has made global headlines for a good cause this time, not because of a porn star or a stupid selfie.

Thank you Rima!

Here’s the video in case you missed it:

[YouTube]

Rima Karaki Silences London-Based Islamist Sheikh After He Asked Her To Shut Up

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Rima

A London-based Islamist and a friend of Ayman el Zawahiri didn’t like the fact that Lebanese TV host Rima Karaki asked him politely to stick to the topic of discussion, so he asked her to shut up. That’s when Rima decided to silence the Sheikh and stop the interview. I think she did good and let this be a lesson to every religious person (and anyone for that sake) disrespecting female talk show hosts.

[YouTube]

FAIL: OTV’s Lousy Take On Homosexuality

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homo

Instead of tackling homosexuality in Lebanon in an objective and scientific matter, OTV decided to promote the show by asking whether homosexuality is a fashion trend or an illness. In order to be fair, I did bother and watch the show and while the doctors and Pierre Bou Saab were mostly spot on and made sense, the host kept asking the wrong questions and making wrong assumptions and over-generalizing.

Homosexuality is not a trend nor an illness and people don’t choose to become gay. While people are affected by environmental and social factors, almost everyone agrees that sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice, and even if it did, no one is entitled to judge others based on that or call it an illness. Moreover, I don’t know why she assumed that more Lebanese recently are rejecting this “weird phenomenon” as she calls it. There aren’t any studies or surveys to prove that and if that’s the case, awareness is much needed then. We shouldn’t portray gay people as being different or weird and we should help them in their struggle against ignorance and hatred.

On another note, the host didn’t even know what LGBT stands for and thought it was a cool term gay people use nowadays. She also said biosexual instead of bisexual in the first part (Between Minute 3:20 and 3:35) and the doctor corrected her. I’m glad she didn’t bring any religious people but the show didn’t send out the right message and promoting it the way they did was a bad move.

Here’s the [first part] for those interested in watching.

First Hands-On Look At The Samsung #GalaxyS6 And #GalaxyS6Edge

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Yesterday was the first time I attend a Samsung #Unpacked event and I personally enjoyed it. The event took place at the Centre de Convencions Internacional in Barcelona and it felt really good to take part in it, share the excitement and interact with the crowds. #Unpacked introduced the Samsung Galaxy S6 as well as the Galaxy S6 Edge which comes with curved screens as well as other cool accessories like the Gear VR. The two new phones were announced by Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin who claimed that no other phone can match the new S6’s, and I have to say the phones have some pretty impressive specs.

20150301_193800 Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin announcing the two new phones

20150301_193233 The new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

I will begin with the specs that are similar to both the S6 and S6 Edge:

1- Plastic covers were dropped and replaced by a metal frame and Gorilla glass back. The metal is supposedly 50% stronger metal than competing smartphones and shouldn’t bend :)
2- The battery is smaller and no longer removable (so no SD card slot). It should last longer however according to Samsung due to the new processor. 10 minutes of Fast Charging will allow you to use the phone for 4 hours. Both devices charge twice as fast as the iPhone6.
3- Display is 5.1″ Quad HD super AMOLED (577pi). Better colors more pixels and a gorgeous screen.
4- The processor (Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5Ghz, Octacore ) is much better and uses less battery. The phones are equipped DDR4 3GB RAM.
5- The front camera is 5MP while the rear one is 16MP OIS equipped with f1.9 aperture for better low light results. Camera launch time is 0.7 seconds only. Here are some of the camera features: Quick Launch, Tracking AF, Auto Real-time HDR(Front & Rear) , F1.9, Low Light Video(Front & Rear), High Clear Zoom, IR Detect White Balance, Virtual Shot, Slow Motion, Fast Motion, Pro Mode, Selective Focus.
6- The #GalaxyS6 and #GalaxyS6edge come in five colors: White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald.
7- Galaxy S6 comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128 GB, Galaxy S6 Edge in 64GB and 128GB.
8- There’s also Wireless charging which is a built-in feature.

As for the #GalaxyS6edge, it will be the world’s first dual-edge display smartphone, which means two curved side screens that will allow you to quickly check and answer call, messages or emails. The Clear View option will also allow you to determine who’s calling you based on the color .

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Once the event was done, we got the chance to check out the new phones and try them out for few minutes. I held both phones to see if they were comfortable to hold given their ultra-slim design and I was pleasantly surprised by their grip and feel specially the S6 Edge. The camera on both phones is fantastic, they are very quick and responsive and the side screens on the S6 Edge are very easy to use.

As a first impression, I liked the new S6 but I’m honestly in love with the S6 Edge. What I didn’t appreciate was the fact that there are no SD card slots anymore and I am curious to see if the battery life will indeed improve with the new processor as this is a crucial feature. Otherwise, S6 is a huge improvement from the S5 and the S6 Edge might be the next big thing. Of course this is a very quick first impression post and I will definitely write a longer and more detailed post once I get my hands on the phone for a proper review.

The official release date is set for April 10th and prices are not yet out but I heard the S6 will start selling at around 800$. Here are some of the pictures I took at #Unpacked

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Here are a couple of pictures showing the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 side by side:

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[YouTube]

Why Zahle Having 24/7 Electricity Is A Big Deal

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Zahle1

The electricity problem in Lebanon is a very serious one yet we haven’t seen any significant progress in recent years. We have over a million Syrian refugees now, which means more electricity consumption hence more power cuts. Ever since I moved to my new house, I’ve been paying around $130-150 monthly for 10 amperes which aren’t even close to what we consume on a normal day. Take for example a regular working day where you get home tired and hungry after 2 hours of traffic, and just wish to heat up some food in the microwave and wash some clothes before you sleep. Once you turn the washing machine or the dryer on, you can’t use any other home appliance. Moreover, I can’t use my microwave if the electricity is off as it needs around 8 amperes to start and I would have to turn off the whole house just to start it. These are two silly examples on how the lack of electricity affects our every day-life and are nothing compared to the families who don’t have heating systems and have to rely on electrical heaters to stay warm and heat up the water. Of course I’m assuming you’re getting 10 amperes and not less as all generator owners tend to trick you. I’m lucky to have a decent guy run the generator.

This being said, Zahle’s move to provide its residents with 24/7 electricity is a huge accomplishment and a brave move against the generator mafia. We’ve all seen how the generator gangs demonstrated against EDZ’s initiative and even fired and damaged four transformers a couple of weeks ago. As a result and until the transformers are repaired, many residents will only get 12 hours of electricity and will be forced to pay generator owners for the rest.

Of course the government is to blame for everything that’s happening and the generator gangs are just filling a vacuum but corruption runs so deep in this country that politicians assign generator owners for certain areas and get paid monthly fees. The Economist wrote a long article on the Zahle incident and how bad the situation is. I personally believe we need more initiatives like the EDZ one to weaken these gangs and let people rally against them.

If some politicians and ministers wish to truly fix the electricity problem, they should start with their towns, cities and areas before tackling this whole mess. We need to decentralize this problem and any other problem as nothing will ever be accomplished otherwise. Zahle residents will not let generator owners win this battle because it concerns them directly and will significantly improve their lives and the city’s economy.