Category Archives: Information

Creating A Sustainable Business By Keeping Politicians Accountable: A Good Idea For Lebanon?

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Media2

The idea might not be a new one but it worked out for Hackmack in Germany and it might work in Lebanon if it’s done by the right people. We need a panel of experts and intellectuals to kick off such a project away from any political affiliations and hopefully people will start to hold their representatives accountable for their acts. Social Media has proven to be a highly efficient tool in boosting transparency so let’s make good use of it.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on that and whether it’s feasible or not.

You can read more about it [Here]. You can also check out the website [Here].

BONN, Germany – With the federal election season in full swing in Germany, social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow Gregor Hackmack is busy preparing his online portal, ParliamentWatch, to host a variety of special online forums with German media partners and to connect citizen’s questions to candidates.

“It’s all about bridging the gap between citizens and politicians,” Hackmack said at the recent Ashoka Globalizer event in Bonn, which the Ashoka Germany office organized to piggy-back on the larger Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum. “We need to build that bridge.”

Roughly 95% of federal parliament members participate with the site, answering 80% of the 150,000 questions that have poured in from voters. The questions are stored in archives as a public record, which voters can use to later hold politicians accountable. The site can also sort and slice data and responses. For example, it shows, graphically, how responsive each of the major parties in Germany is to questions.

“We try to provide as much transparency as possible,” Hackmack said. “It’s one thing what people say they will do and another thing to see how they vote.”

The forum has proved popular, generating 350,000 unique visitors per month. It has partnerships running with several media including Süddeutsche Zeitung, broadcaster NDR, Spiegel Online (see Spiegel’s profile of Hackmack here) and more than 40 other local newspapers, which help draw questions from voters to the site and use some of the answers and data in news reports.

Saving the Crocodile from the Beirut River

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Animals Lebanon have been working for a week now with the Ministry of Agriculture and Civil Defense Team to try and capture the dangerous crocodile but as you can see from the pictures, the conditions of the so-called Beirut river are so bad that it is the crocodile who’s in danger and not us.

All pictures taken from Animals Lebanon Facebook Page.

It has been almost a week since we became involved with the Beirut river crocodile. In cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, our team along with the Civil Defense team have been taking shifts on a daily basis at the river. Permits from the Mayor of Beirut and the Minister of Energy and Water have been secured to let our team access the area and try to safely capture the crocodile.

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The Janna Dam: Yet Another Scandal?

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Building a dam in Janna could affect the water flow to Jeita Springs

The German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources published a [report] back in May 2012 on the Janneh dam and gave the below conclusion and recommendations:

Conclusion and Recommendations:
The results of all four measurement campaigns prove the existence of a massive infiltration into the J4 aquifer in the Upper Nahr Ibrahim Valley and have major implications for the currently ongoing planning of the Janneh dam which extends well into the assumed zone of high infiltration.

The exact location of the infiltration zone could be narrowed down to the area shown in Figure 23. The infiltration zone could start at an elevation of approx. 80m asl going up to around 860 m asl. The major infiltration is assumed to be at an elevation of 810-820 m asl. The planned minimum level of the Janneh dam would be at 834 m asl, the maximum level at 839 m asl. Due to infiltration between 14 and 29 m of storage would be lost completely.

In view of the current findings, it is strongly recommended not to go ahead with the construction of the planned Janneh dam.

The infiltrating water is believed to flow towards Jeita spring, constituting a large share of discharge at Jeita Spring. Any interference at the infiltration zone would directly affect Jeita spring. Should it be attempted to seal the infiltration zone, though practically impossible, discharge at Jeita spring would be significantly reduced.

It is recommended to establish a completely new monitoring of spring flow at Afqa and Rouaiss springs because both stations are in a state of disrepair and do not produce useful results. Construction costs for both are in the range of 1 Mio USD.

Despite these facts, The Energy and Water Ministry Gebran Bassil is going ahead with plans to build a dam in Janna, knowing that this plan might potentially damage Jeita Grotto.

Is Bassil aware of this report? Does he know something we don’t?

Either way, he’s a resigned minister now and hopefully this plan will never see the light.

What is Al-Jadeed’s Reporter Nawal Berri trying to prove?

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[YouTube]

We have over 600,000 confirmed Syrian Refugees in Lebanon yet this Al-Jadeed reporter figured some might be “Nawar” (As if those are not human beings) and are pretending to be Syrian Refugees to get food and shelter. She also thought it’s ok to stay in the car and yell at random homeless people sleeping on the streets asking them if they are Syrians or not and requesting identification papers.

I honestly don’t understand what Berri was trying to prove by this report. Al-Akhbar also didn’t get what she was going after and saw in her report more racism against Syrian refugees.

Off To Ehden

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Ehden
Picture by Clement Tannouri

I just realized today that I’ve passed by Ehden many times on my way down from the Cedars but never really visited the town properly (Gino will hate me for that!). Ehden is one of Lebanon’s most beautiful towns and is located in the heart of the northern mountains of Lebanon.

I am going to try out a new venue called Kroom Ehden today so hopefully I’ll have a glimpse of the town and plan a whole weekend there soon enough. I remember passing by Ehden Country Club to check it out once during the winter and I wasn’t impressed at all but Kroom Ehden looks very promising, at least from the pictures I’m seeing.

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Kroom Ehden

Sehnaoui: Fiber-optics network will cover all of Lebanon by year-end

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Picture from TheBeirutReport

We’ve been waiting for the fiber-optics network to be completed for 3 years now as it was promised by the previous Telecom Ministers. I hope this time things will work out and people will finally be able to enjoy more than 1 lousy Mb connection but if you read Habib’s report on this matter, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen anytime soon.

Let’s not forget the ongoing feud between the Telecom Ministry and Ogero.

Lebanon recently dropped 6 spots in the Download Index Report and now ranks 158th out of 182 countries.

Telecom Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said Thursday that more than half of Lebanon’s telephone substations were linked to a long-awaited fiber-optics network, and vowed to extend coverage to the remaining areas within the next six months. “After two years of work, the fiber optics network is ready in 170 telephone areas, and we sent a letter to [state-run telephone land line operator] OGERO to detail their financial and technical requirements to expand it to the remaining areas, which do not yet have DSL,” he said.

“The project is a part of balanced development … and no Lebanese will be without fast Internet by the end of the year,” Sehnaoui said. [DailyStar]

AnimalsLebanon.org On the Beirut River Crocodile

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Here’s a statement posted on Animals Lebanon’s Facebook page explaining how the crocodile ended up in Beirut, the traffic of crocodiles in Lebanon and other related questions:

Yes, there is a crocodile in the Beirut River.

A few days ago we spoke to a journalist from Al Joumhouria who claimed to have pictures and video footage of a Nile crocodile in the Beirut river. We did meet and have seen the pictures and footage, the location where he took the pictures from and the spot the crocodile was. So yes, for everyone asking, we certainly believe this is valid and there is a crocodile in the Beirut river.

Should we be surprised? Over the years we have come across smoking chimpanzees, lions kept on balconies in downtown Beirut, a tiger being driven around the city, so a crocodile doesn’t really seem that surprising when putting it all in context. Sightings of a crocodile have circulated over the last months but this was the first confirmation.

We have been coordinating with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Beirut Municipality. Both have been extremely cooperative, the priority now is to safely capture this crocodile both for its own welfare and the welfare of the people in the area.

Unfortunately crocodiles and many other endangered species are still being trafficked to Lebanon. These are not pets – what might seem interesting when small soon becomes a major problem as they grow larger and more dangerous. The country is the newest party of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species and we need to do more to prevent this.

To answer some questions and put aside some rumors –
– the crocodile is dangerous and would certainly defend itself, we strongly recommend against anyone trying to interact with or capture it
– the crocodile is estimated to be about a meter to a meter and a half long, not two or three meters
– there seems to be only one, not more
– most likely the crocodile was released by someone keeping it as an exotic pet or escaped from a nearby pet shop
– this is an endangered species and there are no records of legal import, but this species is sometimes seen in pet shop and we are contacted a few times each year by people that keep them in Lebanon
– the crocodile can go on land, but this is only along the riverbank, there is no fear of the crocodile walking to Hamra
– swimmers at any of the beaches north or south of Beirut should not worry about being attacked

Offre Joie

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[YouTube]

I love what this association stands for and the job they are pulling. They already helped rebuild Ibrahim al-Mounzer Street in Achrafieh where Wissam el Hassan was assassinated and they are now helping Abra residents after the clashes that occurred between Assir and the army.

You don’t need to donate money to help them as they only need volunteers and people donating their timeline to spread the word.

Founded on forgiveness, respect and love values, the association Joy of Giving has taken it upon her to assemble the Lebanese family and to heal deep wounds created between different religions and regions over 15 years of war through ethical and social projects.
Created in 1985 Joy of Giving tries to favor the understanding and the unity of the Lebanese people and intervenes on levels of sewing social links between Lebanese by promoting a culture of collective responsibility.
A non-confessional, non-political association, Joy of Giving was created during the Lebanese war simultaneously in Lebanon and in France by Lebanese and French students. The association is registered in the Official Journal of the Lebanese Republic under the number 212 A/D and in the Official Journal of the French Republic in 1987.

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If you want to become a Volunteer or wish to help, Contact +961 76 163703