An Online Demonstration For Peace from Beirut to the World

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September 21st is celebrated as International Peace Day and this year, The UN Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC-Beirut) chose to commemorate the day in Lebanon under the theme Tolerance for Peace and organize the first online demonstration for peace.

Here’s the message I left:
“Lebanese need to find peace within themselves in order to become tolerant and live at peace with others”.

You can leave yours [Here].

A Breakthrough Cure for Leukemia?

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I hope Nasr and her fellow researchers will be given the proper resources to go all the way with their experiment and maybe achieve a breakthrough in the fight against Leukemia.

BEIRUT: Scientists in Lebanon have developed a drug cocktail that they hope could cure a rare form of leukemia, in a milestone for cancer research in the region.

The drug combination targets Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), a blood cancer that affects 1 in 100,000 people in Lebanon but whose prevalence is rising as patients use expensive drugs to live longer with the symptoms.
“I’m not from a rich family, I have sick people in my family and understand how it is important to have the money,” said Rihab Nasr, assistant professor of medicine in the Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Physiological Sciences at AUB and the project’s leader. “I wanted to find a treatment that cures.”

Both interferon and arsenic are used separately for cancer treatment. Arsenic is a toxin, but can be used in cancer treatment and may be instrumental in degrading the proteins that are central to cancer stem cell growth.

Nasr first tried the combination on cancer cell cultures that were collected from patients and kept alive in incubators in the lab, some of which were resistant to the current treatments.

The drug cocktail worked, and so Nasr moved on to try it on mice.

First, the scientists injected the mice with cells infected with a DNA fragment that carries a specific “oncogene,” which is a gene that can transform into a cancer cell that causes CML.

The mice developed leukemia within a few weeks. Then they were treated with the drug.

“And it worked,” Nasr said.

But to make sure the treatment was targeting the cancer stem cells that can multiply and renew the cancer, Nasr took the experiment one step further. She took samples from the bone marrow of the treated mice, where the cancer stem cells would have remained if they were not eradicated, and injected them into a second set of mice.

Most of the mice that received the treated bone marrow did not develop the cancer, and lived on to die essentially of old age. “This tells me that the combination of arsenic and interferon is eradicating this small population of cancer stem cells,” she said.

Nasr and her fellow researchers will now look into why the interferon and arsenic combination works on the leukemia cells, a process that is not fully understood. [Full Article]

Hajj Reagan The Communist of Arsal

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His real name is Mahmoud Hojeiry, he is a self-proclaimed communist since 1977 and has pictures of Che Guevara, Lebanese Communist Party leader George Hawi and former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Moreover, he took the pilgrimage to Mecca back when Reagan was president and was given the nickname Hajj Reagan since then.

A communist who goes on pilgrimage is nicknamed Hajj Reagan. Welcome to Lebanon, land of contradictions.

He might be a hajj – a name given to Muslims after they take the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca – but the 50-year-old man is not what you’d call a typical Muslim. Hajj Reagan has been a self-proclaimed communist since 1977, when he was 14 years old. And, his house is a statement of his political ideas. Che Guevara’s portrait sits atop the entrance to Hajj Reagan’s house. He also owns a small bronze statue of Soviet leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, and portraits of Lebanese Communist Party leader George Hawi, Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. [Link]

Top 5 Smartphones released/to be released in September 2013

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Vs LG G2 Vs Sony Xperia Z1 Vs Nokia Lumia 1020

I don’t think we’ve ever had that many exciting smartphones being released in the same month as it’s the case this September. Personally speaking, there are 5 smartphones that I am looking forward to try out:

1- Samsung Galaxy Note 3
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I switched to Android back in December 2012 and got the Samsung Note 2, which is more of a phablet than a smartphone but I loved it. The screen was huge, the phone was ridiculously quick, the battery life was amazing but the camera wasn’t as good as the iPhone 4 or 5 and my Note 2 came with an insane chip, so I replaced it with the new Samsung S4 instead until the Note 3 comes out. I just hope it won’t have any software bugs like the S4.

2- HTC One
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The new HTC one is already available in Lebanon at Go Mobile, HTC’s distribution partner in Lebanon. I’ve tried the previous HTC and I liked it but I was always worried that I wouldn’t be able to repair it anywhere in Lebanon, plus I wasn’t very impressed with its camera and pictures. The new HTC wants to rival the Samsung S4 and new iPhone 5s and includes new features like the HTC BlinkFeed™, HTC Zoe™ and HTM BoomSound™.

3- LG G2
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The G2 is the LG’s latest flagship device and is a very powerful smartphone that has some very useful and unique features. I was invited to check it out before it gets released and I am very tempted to try it out. Unlike the S4 which is a great device but has loads of useless options, the LG G2 will have some unique features like the Audio Zoom (Yup Audio Zoom!), a breakthrough optical image stabilization (OIS) for the camera and rear keys. It’s a very powerful smartphone and a major improvement from the older LG models.

4- Nokia Lumia 1020
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Three words sum up this new Lumia model: 41 megapixel camera. The camera has become a very important feature in the smartphone industry and Nokia is introducing a camera that is capable of matching the pictures of a DSLR. The only down side is the OS which I am unable to get used to yet. I was hoping to see this awesome camera on an Android device but Windows acquired Nokia so that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. The Nokia Lumia 1020 is set to be released on September 25.

5- iPhone 5s
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I’ve been reading a lot about the new iPhone ever since it was announced, and it’s being portrayed like the greatest iPhone ever made and the best smartphone out there in the market. The fact is though that the 5S looks exactly like the 5 as most of the change was done on the inside. The new iPhone is much faster and comes with the latest iOS7, has a revolutionary and highly praised fingerprint sensor and a better camera among other things.

I was an iPhone user for 3 years but I like Android OS better now and I am not planning to switch back anytime. The only thing that interests me is the iPhone camera as Apple has always been ahead of others (At least till the S4 came out) in that field. Apple’s new iPhone 5s is set to go on sale today.

PS: The smartphones were listed randomly, not by order of preference

Dangerous spots in Lebanon

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Here are the top 10 most dangerous spots in Lebanon as mentioned by Matt Nash.

10- Ain al-Hilweh
9- PFLP-GC Training Camps
8- Britel
7- Hospital Emergency Rooms
6- Minefields
5- Laylaki
4- Syria Street
3- Al Kabir River
2- Arsal/Hermel/Baalbeck
1- The Highways/Roads

I didn’t expect to see “Hospital Emergency Rooms” in that list haha! Unfortunately though, and according to a study conducted in late 2012 by the American University of Beirut, nurses face more workplace violence than security guards in Lebanon.

FCO 301 - Lebanon Travel Advice Ed9 [WEB]
You can download the full map [Here].

Speaking of dangerous spots, the UK updated its travel warning and no longer advises against all but essential travel to the whole of Lebanon. However the FCO did warn against all travel inside Lebanon to:

– Tripoli
– Palestinian refugee camps
– Within 5km of the Syrian Border
– The Hermel Area, including Arsal, Baalbek
– The Bekaa Valley east of the Baalbek El Hermel High Way to the Syrian border and down to En Nabi Chit
– Southern suburbs in Beirut, defined as: south of the sports stadium to the airport, east of The main airport highway including the neighbourhoods of Ghobeiry, Chuya, Haret, Hraik, Burj Al Brajne, Mraije, Er Rouais and Laylake.
– Bekaa Valley west of the Baalbek El Hermel High Way
– Saida
– South of the Litani River.

The Best Time For Highway Pothole Repairs in Lebanon

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Source: Carol Maalouf

I posted almost a week ago about the huge life threatening pot hole that emerged out of nowhere in the middle of the Jal el Dib highway. I also wondered whether the authorities will wait for an unfortunate accident to occur before fixing it and I was wrong as they decided to go ahead and fix it today.

It’s always good to see the Lebanese authorities actually fix something but they always figure out a way to screw things up by picking the worst time possible for their repairs. Only few weeks back, they decided to close the Zouk Mosbeh bridge during Eid and today they closed down half the Jal el Dib highway during peak hours between 1pm and until this hour.

Every time they schedule their works at a very bad time, I try to make some sense out of it but I am unable to. The only (absurd) interpretation that I came up with is that they want to show everyone that they are actually doing something, so they pick the worst hours to let people get stuck in traffic and see them in action.

If they are not done fixing the pot hole by tomorrow morning, expect to get stuck an extra hour in traffic on your way to Beirut.

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via MTV

Update: We’re screwed till Saturday
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Picture via Anthony Rehayel