Source: Tripoli Facebook Page
Law 174 – No Smoking Lebanon Facebook Group proudly posted today that the latest research conducted by Dr. Jad Chaaban (AUB) has revealed that the “the indoor smoking ban that went into effect in September 2012 has *caused* a revenue increase of +3% for the sector”.
The full research was not published yet but I do hope that they are only considering restaurants that applied the non-smoking law because no one seemed to care about this law in most of the places I visited lately, whether nights, pubs, restaurants etc…
In a press conference today, Dr. Jad Chaaban (AUB) revealed the results of his latest research, which is based on official historical data from the Ministry of Finance:
1) The “restaurants, cafés, pubs, and nightclubs” sector in Lebanon has experienced a revenue growth of 27% over the past three years. This contradicts several claims by the Syndicate of Restaurants stating the sector has been performing very poorly.
2) The indoor smoking ban that went into effect in September 2012 has *caused* a revenue increase of +3% for the sector, which has helped offset the large losses due to political instability. This contradicts the Syndicate’s claims last year that the law would lower revenues in the sector by 25%.
So let’s recap: Law 174 saves 10 Lebanese lives per day, increases the revenues of the hospitality sector by 3%, saves the government $350M in yearly healthcare costs, and could generate $2M-$10M in government revenues TODAY if the pending fines are paid.
Instead of blaming all the woes of the country on Law 174, IT IS TIME TO APPLY IT!
This video is a month old yet pretty much shows how fragile the security situation is in Tripoli. It’s more than shameful to treat a human being this way, regardless of what he might have done.
Clashes in Beb el Tebbane in 1975
Tripoli Clashes in 1985
The civil society is rallying to protest against the killings and clashes in the city and an ongoing campaign entitled “Tripoli, a weapons-free city” has been launched months ago, but I doubt that they will have any impact on the clashes as the origins of the conflict are deeply rooted and have been there for 30 years now.
Here’s a nice report by BBC Arabic on the social, economic and personal effects of the sectarian clashes between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al Tabbaneh.
La Paix …. Impossible? [Source]
Samsung Lebanon were kind enough to lend me the new Samsung Galaxy S4 to try it out for a couple of weeks and return it. Even though I only got it on Monday, I’ve been experimenting on my friend’s S4 for the last week or so and have few things to say about this latest addition to the Samsung’s popular S series.
First of all, let me just say that even though I’ve been an iPhone user for years, I decided to switch to Android and have been using the Samsung Note2 since Christmas without any regret (except for the camera maybe). The Samsung Galaxy S is getting more popular by the year and the S3 has been rivaled only by the iPhone last year, so there were very high expectations set for the new S4.
Design, Build & Screen
The Samsung S4 is an improved version of the S3 whereas it fits a larger screen in a smaller, lighter and slimmer body. The handset feels almost as light as the iPhone 5, and doesn’t feel cheap at all. On the contrary, the S4 feels like a classy and sexy phone. What I don’t like though about Samsungs in general is the back cover as I feel I am going to break it every time I want to take it out. It seems we still have to wait a bit for them to switch to unibody.
The screen is one of the phone’s most impressive features as it is a 5-inch Full HD with quite an impressive resolution (1080 x 1920). I think it’s the best screen resolution and quality currently in the market. Added to that, the screen is so sensitive that you can swipe around it while wearing gloves.
The three sensors and front-facing camera dots look randomly placed
When I first saw the Samsung S4 TV commercials, I was excited to try out the Air Gesture and Air View features as they looked pretty cool, as well as the eye-tracking tool but I knew for a fact that I wouldn’t use them that often. It’s fun to try them out the first few weeks and impress your friends but that’s about it. I tried using the eye tracking tool when reading an article online but it’s not as practical as it seems. In fact, you might look stupid moving your head to interact with a screen but then again that’s a software that will take some time to perfect so there’s no harm in having fun with it until then.
Here are some of the new features in the S4:
Group Play, Story Album, S Translator, Optical Reader, Samsung Smart Scroll, Samsung Smart Pause, Air Gesture, Air View, Samsung Hub, ChatON, Samsung WatchON, S Travel (Trip Advisor), S Voice Drive, S Health, Samsung Adapt Display, Samsung Adapt Sound, Auto adjust touch sensitivity (Glove friendly), Safety Assistance, Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring, Samsung KNOX (B2B only).
You can search with the camera on Google which is pretty cool
As far as the quick access menu is concerned, there are over 20 different shortcuts which I think is a bit too much.
Even though I am using the Note2 currently, I still prefer my iPhone 4′s camera. The S4 camera is a major improvement from the previous one and is 13 MP with Auto Focus, Flash and Zero Shutter Lag. I noticed some lag when taking pictures sometimes but I haven’t had the chance to experiment it properly and will do so in the upcoming days. I will also try to compare the S4 camera with the iPhone 5 and Lumia 920 cameras.
PS: I will be posting pictures taken with the S4 on my Instagram for those interested (Follow me @LeNajib).
All in all, the S4 is an enhanced version of the popular Samsung S3, with a larger screen, better quality and higher resolutions, a more powerful camera and tons of new features. It’s currently the best Android and Smartphone in the market in terms of performance and specs. The Galaxy S4 is being sold at 850$ in Lebanon (with CTC warranty card) which I believe is overpriced.
I personally wouldn’t buy it because I am addicted to my Note2′s huge screen and looking forward to the Note3.
The teacher answered Alexandra in 3 languages and he’s suing her for libel and defamation.
Alexandra Shreiteh’s False Rape Accusations
• Alexandra has published her fabricated allegations against me on facebook and other sites on the internet. Kindly see below my response:
• Since I was certain of Alexandra’s academic and creative capabilities, I gave her a great deal of time and supervised three of her novels: 2 in Arabic and one in English. My motto was to work with talented beginners and help them produce their own works of fiction.
• I was the one who encouraged her to pursue her studies and I wrote her a letter of recommendation to Yale University which is still in my possession. I do not understand how one encourages a person to study abroad, and controls and confines this same person at the same time.
• She sent me the paper she had prepared for a conference in Switzerland (April 2012) and we discussed it at length on Skype.
• This woman used to call me every day over the period of 4 years, yes every single day to talk about her problems. I used to help her to the best of my abilities. She used to call me daily from America (and Germany) to ask questions or talk about her problems. This went on for four years, summer and winter, day and night. I always thought this was a passing phase related to growing up that will soon subside. I was sincerely happy to think that she would excel in her work and that I would be one of those who contributed to her success especially after she had written her three novels.
• She told me that she was having a relation with a woman and asked my opinion of this. My answer was: You are free to realize yourself the way you think fit.
• She told me several times on the phone after a few months of her relation that her companion is so possessive and is almost suffocating her and that she does not know how to free herself of her.
• She also used to tell me of her relations with men and women (I still remember the names and nationalities). She considered me as her confidante and her counselor.
• I wonder what has happened and why she is lying. Why is she falsifying the truth? Why has she showered all terms related to rape on me (she is Lebanon’s champion in Tai Boxing)? I have a documented answer to be published at the right time.
• I am sorry that it has come to this. Alexandra is in trouble, but her harassment has become unbearable. I have so far refrained from responding to her accusations because I am sorry for her parents and would have liked to spare them. I so much wanted to meet them but she refused to introduce me as she hated them to the death. She also alleged certain things about her father that is improper for me to mention now.
• I have asked a lawyer to raise a case against her for libel and defamation because certain innocent people may believe her allegations especially that she pretends to be a lamb in the claws of a wild animal.
• I still have all the electronic messages that she sent me over the four-year period and will publish them in due time whenever the need arises.
• Finally, there are a large number of documents, letters, photographs in my possession that can also be published if needed.
Text of the Picture being circulated:
The Lebanese writer Rachid Al-Daif forcefully raped and manipulated his student in the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Beirut for four years, starting when he was 62 and she was 19. He locked her in his house and demanded sex from her at night, even raping her in her sleep. He threatened her in order to keep it a secret. This January, the rapist resigner before being shamefully fired from LAU when the university administration learned about his actions.
A picture has been circulating all day yet about an LAU teacher accused of raping one of his students yet there’s no proof to back it up. It might be true for all I know but that’s not a proper way to spread such a serious allegation, plus I agree with Rami that there’s something weird about him locking her up and raping her in her sleep for 4 years.
If the reason behind this campaign is the lack of trust in the Lebanese Legal System, this is definitely not going to make things any better specially that the teacher was apparently fired. Added to that, if there’s no proof of the raping, the teacher can sue back.
My suggestion is to go talk to a decent lawyer who will definitely handle this case properly and see that the suspect is punished for his wrongdoings, if any. The sexual harassment case in Antoura is a clear proof that the system works.
Syrian refugees in Lebanon: A humiliating situation
Check out what Marwan Charbel said today on the Syrian Refugees issue:
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel admitted on Tuesday that the authorities had miscalculated in not building camps to house Syrian refugees escaping the fighting in their country.
In remarks to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3), Charbel said: “We should have kept Syrian refugees in tents and provided them with all the necessary humanitarian assistance and medical aid … to contain the security violators that are present among them.”
“We made a mistake in dealing” with the issue, he said in response to a question on the presence of Syrian nationals among the casualties in the recent fighting in the northern city of Tripoli.
And what I said back in March:
We have now over 300,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon and still no plans to set up special areas, receive the families and children and give them adequate aid. I know for a fact that a lot of Lebanese are donating or are more than willing to donate so let us find a way to control this flux of refugees and provide some minimal help because things are getting out of hand. Pictures of the Deir Zanoun camp are terrible.
And in April:
Syria is at war and the thousands of families and individuals fleeing don’t have any money, so don’t expect them to sleep on the streets and starve to death while we go all racist on them. I am not justifying their acts but a lot of people put under these circumstances will revert to crime to provide for their families. I know it’s a huge burden that any government would find difficult to deal with, and I am all for Arab countries donating money to help us out here, but that’s not an excuse for doing nothing at all (Except setting curfew hours for foreign workers).
I am glad he admitted the mistakes repeatedly done but that’s not enough. How about someone suggests a freaking plan to help these refugees and control what’s happening?
Update: The 10% extra MBs are only for one month to compensate the loss due to the outage that occurred the day before. (Source: Alfa)
That’s probably the only good news that ever came out of an internet outage in Lebanon. I don’t know if the increase is permanent or just for a month.
Picture from Last Year’s Final
I’ve been playing Basketball for more than 10 years now and I remember going to the Streetball challenges that used to be held long time ago at the Forum De Beirut back in the late 1990s. It’s a lot of fun and Streetball (3 on 3, 1 on 1 ) for me is more fun than a 5 on 5 game.
If you guys feel the same, then you sure don’t want to miss out this year’s edition of Red Bull’s King of the Rock. It’s a 1 on 1 game and basketball in its purest form. Qualifiers kick off today and go on until June 2. The Final will be held at a cool place, the Old Bus Station in Mar Mikhael, Beirut on Saturday 8th of June 2013 at 8:00 PM.
I won’t be able to make it this year but I will get myself ready for next year hopefully!
You can check out more information about this event [Here].
Balamand University, Tripoli – May 21
Safra Marine, Safra – May 22
USJ, Sodeco – May 24
Mocean, Kaslik – May 25
Hoops, Beirut – May 26
LCU, Jeita – May 29
Hoops, Antelias – June 1
Anibal, Zahle – June 2
Registration starts at 4:00 PM
Games start at 5:00 PM
PS: There’s an Instagram competition that you can join as well. All you need to do is upload cool shots from the games or crowd and use the hashtag #KingOftherock and mention @RedBullLeb of course.
I didn’t watch Splash’s first episode but I was told Abou Salim, Aka Salah Tizani the Comedy legend from Tripoli, made a 3 meter jump which is quite impressive for an 85 year old! He eventually qualified to the second round.
I thought it was pretty cool move from him but a lot of people are asking whether it’s safe to let the old man jump.
Picture taken from GlobalPost
I laughed when I read that
Abou Bilal the young man who approached her first is studying medicine at the Kyiv Medical University. I wonder what he will specialize in later on? Gynecology maybe?
Tatyana was a single mom working as a waitress, struggling to raise her two year-old son after her boyfriend left when he was born. One day, a young man approached her in a bar, and asked if she’d like to make good money in a “safe and quick” way. The young man was Lebanese and studying medicine at the Kyiv Medical University. He told Tatyana that he could get her a six-month visa to work as a dancer in Lebanon. His uncle, he said, owned a cabaret there, and he was looking for new dancers for the nightly show. Tatyana accepted. Soon though, it became evident to her that she was being recruited for prostitution. “I didn’t mind. I was sleeping all the time with Ukrainian jerks that disappeared as soon as they had their way with me. So why not make some cash out of it?” Her contact in Lebanon was a man called Abu Bilal. Once she arrived to Lebanon, she only met him once. “He seemed nice and caring, he warned us about never sleeping with men without condoms and stuff like that.”
You can buy Tatyana for $400 USD a night. Don’t be offended by the word ‘buy’ – she uses it herself, in a very down-to-earth manner. “I am lucky to be worth $400 in such a competitive environment. Many of the other girls are bought for $200 or even less,” she says with a hint of… is it pride?! Yes, pride indeed. Tatyana, just like her friends Olga and Yulia, is from Ukraine. She entered Lebanon four months ago with an artist visa, an inventive scheme that the Lebanese authorities use to avoid admitting that they allow prostitution. General Security closely monitors the ‘artists.’ Their residency permits do not exceed six months, and they are deported if they are caught overstaying their permits.
You can read the full article [Here].
Update: The General Security denied the allegations stated in Annahar’s article and said it didn’t have access to any data (Source: VOL).
Update2: Since February 2013, the Prime Minister can accept giving the Data to any security agency at his own discretion [Source]. The criteria set out by the law which requires judges’ prior approval and execution by Minister of Communication was waived as per request from President Sleiman. Nowadays, even ISF is receiving such Data and not only General Security (Annahar’s info is partially true but fully unprofessional). Thank you Razor!
An-Nahar Daily said on Monday that the General Security apparatus is receiving the telecommunications’ data that it needs upon the approval of Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Marwan Charbel.
According to An-Nahar newspaper, General Security Chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim sent more than one memorandum to the interior ministry and received immediate approvals from PM Mikati and Minister Charbel “who did not take into account the freedom and privacy of citizens”. [LBC]
According to Annahar’s article, The General Security have repeatedly requested access to the telecoms data of the entire population for many Lebanese areas and got an approval for it.
I don’t know where Telecom Minister Sehnaoui stands from those requests and whether he also gave his approval or if it was required (I think he has to approve), but this goes against the campaign he led himself few months back in the name of privacy and personal freedom. I wish the author of the article provided further explanation and details rather than politicize the whole matter as the problem is much bigger than such considerations.
In all cases, I am almost positive all the legal and illegal parties have access in a way or another to our data but this remains nonetheless a very serious issue as we should never compromise our freedom in the name of security.
Here’s my original post on the Freedom vs. Security back when the Information Branch requested data from the Telecom Ministry and the government and got denied any access.
I was watching this video and thought I’d dig out the prices of the foods they looked at in Lebanon. I asked few friends and got an estimate:
Banana: 5$ = 5-6 Kilos (Local), or 2-3 Kilos (Imported).
Coffee: 5$ = 0.5 Kilos
Rice: 5$ = 6-7 Kilos
Potato: 5$ = 6-7 Kilos (Local).
Beef: 5$ = 0.5 Kilos
Eggs: 5$ = 12-24 eggs (Price is varying a lot lately)
Beer: 5$ = 5-6 Almaza beers.
You can buy a lot of beer with 5$ in Lebanon, but not as much as China.