The importance of tomorrow’s nationwide strike

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Picture from Al-Akhbar

The Economic Committees in Lebanon, which constitute the private sector groups, as well as all the Lebanese banks are closing tomorrow to demand the immediate formation of a Cabinet. Most people I know are happy that they are getting a day off, but few are realizing the gravity of the situation and the importance of this strike.

We hear about employees, teachers, NGOs or syndicates demonstrating and protesting in Lebanon usually, but this time business owners and heads of major corporations and all banks in Lebanon have decided to close down and send a clear message to the officials that Lebanon cannot get out of this economic crisis without a functioning government. Historically speaking, Lebanese banks which are the backbone of the economy, have very rarely, if ever, agreed to join such strikes, so by closing their doors tomorrow, they are raising the alarm on the dwindling Lebanese economy.

“The positive results of banks and reassurances of the Central Bank governor about the Lebanese pound and monetary situation are important … but if things continue on this pace of deterioration … all strengths will be endangered,” he said. “The only difference between Lebanon and these countries is that they found help being European Union members.”

25% of Lebanon’s population are refugees, the touristic season is dead, the economy is bad and above all that we don’t have a government. Let’s hope this strike tomorrow will result in a government of technocrats soon because this is what the country needs at the moment. If no government is formed anytime soon, things only get worse (if that’s even possible).

Shuft Taharrush Campaign: 69% of expatriate women in Lebanon are subjected to harassment

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I am not sure how reliable these numbers are because that’s quite an alarming rate. I wish we had more details on what is the majority of cases reported and what is considered to be a harassment act?

Over two-thirds of expatriate women in the capital have been sexually harassed, according to the results of a new survey by an activist group. The figures are likely just as high for Lebanese women, the group’s leader said, with complaints by women ranging from verbal harassment and catcalls to violent sexual assault.

“In their daily lives, Lebanese women and expatriates are experiencing harassment, whether verbal or physical,” said Tarek Abouzeinab, who launched the anti-harassment initiative.

More than 900 women responded to the survey, which was carried out in places that are frequented by expatriate women, including malls and churches.

The survey found that 69 percent of expatriate women in Lebanon “are subjected to harassment in all its forms and types as well as continuous and unrelenting violence, discrimination and harsh treatment.”

The campaign’s hotline, which was launched during Eid, has so far received over 192 telephone complaints. The group also received 290 email inquiries on harassment. [Source]

Smuggling Lebanese into Australia

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I don’t recall the last time I heard about Lebanese getting smuggled into another country. According to this article, many families from Akkar and Beb el Tebbane are paying thousands of dollars and are risking their lives by going on a tiny fishing boat all the way to Australia.

One of the Lebanese interviewed said he was either forced to carry arms or seek asylum.

Scores of Lebanese from the north of the country have been traveling to Indonesia, boarding fishing boats that carry asylum-seekers into Australian waters. But under the new law signed on July 19, unauthorized arrivals will be sent instead to Papua New Guinea for assessment and if found to be refugees, will be settled there, and if not, they will be sent back home.

On July 25, about 40 Lebanese arrived at the Christmas Island located about 500 kilometers south of Jakarta, Indonesia. The island is a common destination for asylum-seekers, who crowd into boats at Indonesian ports and pay smugglers to ferry them to Australian shores. These young men, however, were unaware that they would never be settled in Australia. [Source]

Rikky’z New Location

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Rikky’s is now located in Faraya overlooking the Chabrouh dam

As some of you know or may not know, Rikky’s has moved to a new venue in Faraya 10 minutes away from the original one. The venue looks almost exactly like the old one but it is more spacious and better organized now. The venue fits twice as much as before, the bar is now inside and much bigger, the BBQ is in a small area far from the tables and the entrance fee is now 100,000 LBP, up 10,000 Liras from last year (including open drinks and buffet).

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The salads are still placed inside as well as the Pasta and Saj stations. You have to walk down few stairs to get to the BBQ area, which includes a Shawarma station, Steaks, Hotdogs and Burgers.

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The music and atmosphere are as great as before, but the seating is still not comfortable and the tables and chairs are very close to each other. I don’t know why they didn’t keep some space between them but it’s very annoying specially when you pick a table in the middle. Added to that, you still need 10 minutes (Unless you want an Almaza or a Buzz as they are put aside in large ice buckets) or more to get a drink even though the bar is bigger now. I barely had 3 drinks during the 3 hours I spent there. Same thing for the food when it gets crowded, even though food was much better than last year.

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The party starts around 2pm so it’s recommended to arrive around noon so you can have few drinks, grab a bite and get in the mood. Don’t forget to check in on Foursquare and pick up your free hats because the sun is a killer up there. I recommend you download their app too as it will help you find the new location if you get lost [Android] [iOS].

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All in all, I like the new Rikky’z better but I wish they made it more comfortable and started serving alcohol (Bottles) on the tables instead of making us wait forever on the bar. Nevertheless, it’s probably the best place up in the mountains to spend a Sunday afternoon with your friends, eating and drinking and dancing surrounded by breathtaking views.

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PS: If you look at the picture closely, the people sitting on the barriers surrounding the outside area could easily fall off and get seriously injured. I think Rikky’s should ban anyone from sitting there or build some safety net below them.

Celebratory Gunfire must be banned in Lebanon

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Bayan Bibi

Celebratory gunfire is a great threat to unaware individuals and houses as the falling bullets can ricochet off walls, break through glass windows and occasionally cause injuries or tragic deaths. The last victim is a 25 year old girl called Bayan Bibi, who was walking in Hamra on August 31st around 5:45 when a bullet hit her in the back.

She was “lucky” enough not to get killed, but such things should not happen and must be stopped.

I hope you get better soon Bayan.

Bayan’s memorable quote:
I never talked about the political situation, but it hits me and it hurts me.