Achrafieh goes dark to mark Earth Hour

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Love the Slogan!

After organizing a car-free day in Achrafieh, Rmeil and Geitawi, the people behind the Achrafieh2020 initiative are joining the global community in celebrating Earth Hour by voluntarily cutting the power off for an hour. The event will take place in Achrafieh on March 23rd at 8:30pm.

The electricity goes out involuntarily everyday. On Saturday 23rd March, make it a choice. Achrafieh goes dark for Earth Hour at 8:30 pm, switching off for an hour and turning up environmental awareness. Join us at ABC Achrafieh for a voluntary power cut, or join in wherever you are. Join the rest of the world to save our planet. Badna nitfeya. [Link]

I know that we technically “celebrate” Earth hours 6 to 12 hours a day in Lebanon, but this global event is to remind us all that we have to seriously start considering renewable energies as individuals and as a country. Companies and large corporations can start by spreading awareness inside their workplace and Lebanese can start by installing a solar panel at their apartment or house if they can afford it for example.

You can read more about the Achrafieh2020 [Here] and on their Facebook page [Here].

[YouTube]

Habemus Locust*

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Picture from the DailyStar

Insignificant Swarms of locust were spotted across Lebanon yesterday and caused a short-lived panic among the Lebanese. Based on what I know, locust can’t survive under low temperatures so there’s nothing to worry about. The Agriculture ministry also re-assured everyone that there’s nothing scary about this attack as the locusts “are not in their mature phase yet.”

The only deadly locust attack that Lebanon has ever witnessed was back in 1915, after Jamal Pasha had initiated a blockade of the entire Mediterranean coast to prevent supplies from reaching his opponents. Mount Lebanon suffered its worst famine and the locust invasion made things even worse and killed more than a quarter of the population. I tried looking for some pictures or a documentary but couldn’t find any. One of the best books though that describe this famine and the tough years Lebanon went through is Toufic Youssef Awwad’s Al Ragheef. It’s one of my favorite books and a must-read.

Here’s a nice report done by MTV on the locust:

[YouTube]

* Title taken from one of Mustapha‘s tweets

Eddie Griffin live in Lebanon

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Stand-Up Comedian Eddie Griffin will be performing on Saturday April 13 from 09:00 pm until 11:00 pm at the Forum de Beyrouth. Tickets available at Virgin Megastore all branches.

I hope he prepared some act for the Lebanese civil remembrance which is on the same day he’s performing because his stand-up takes on religion won’t be very welcome here.

Huffington Post Interview with Lebanese Director Hadi Tabbal on His Upcoming Production, ‘After,’

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Hadi Tabbal is a well know director/actor who holds an M.F.A in acting from The New School for Drama and is a recipient of a Fulbright Award. Despite residing in New York, Hadi has shared his expertise and talent through workshops at Theater Al-Medina in Beirut in an attempt to encourage aspiring Lebanese actors.

The Plot:
Set in a family-owned bookstore in modern-day Brooklyn, AFTER follows high school student Tariq, who struggles to find his voice in his family and surrounding community. With his only friend Amelia, a dedicated activist, Tariq exploits his one superior talent that is nothing short of dangerous: hacking the internet. When his cousin Rania arrives to the United States under extremely mysterious circumstances, her presence causes a series of events that force Tariq and his family to reevaluate their fundamental questions about generational differences, discrimination, and truth. [Source]

Fairuz is a big part of this production:

JS: What kind of experience will audiences have when they come to York College to see After?

HT: A very exciting one because the show is exciting! It is colorful, it has a beautiful repertoire of music, from punk rock to Fairuz, the legendary Lebanese singer. In fact, Fairuz is a huge part of this production. She is mentioned in the play, and the music I included creates the Arab world of the play. Not to mention the emotional impact of her music. The story is exciting because it is about young adults, acted by young adults. It is dangerous and insecure and raw and wonderfully acted. Because I think audiences will identify with the story, they’ll enjoy it.

Read the full interview [Here].

Fi Shi Ghalat Campaign

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FiShiGhalat is a campaign aimed at highlighting the current regulations related to sponsorship that permit the exploitation of the Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs). It is supported by the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs. [FiShiGhalat.com]

Since the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs is supportive of such campaigns, let the minister in question work on abolishing the so-called “Kafala” system and propose a standard contract of work. Until then, let us all take the initiative of hiring part-time domestic foreigners workers instead of going through this racist and demeaning sponsorship system. There are a lot of offices offering this service nowadays.

I’m reading “Superman is an Arab” by Joumana Haddad

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I only became aware of Joumana Haddad in 2010 after the controversy her first book ‘I Killed Scheherazade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman’ (Which by the way got translated into 13 languages and was universally acclaimed) caused in Lebanon, a book in which she challenges “prevalent notions of Arab womanhood and, in the process, shatters the centuries-old stereotype of Scheherazade, the virgin heroine of The Arabian Nights who won the king’s affections.” [Source]

I haven’t had time to read the book yet but I’ve been following up on her for some time and got her second book Superman is an Arab as a gift. For those of you who don’t know, Joumana works as a cultural editor of An Nahar and is a renowned Lebanese poet, translator, journalist and women rights activist. Joumana is a ferocious critic of sexism in Lebanon and the way women are perceived and she expresses her opinions in an unexpected, captivating and daring way. Her unique take on the state of women in Lebanon and the Arab world has earned her a lot of plaudit and rewards but also a good share of death threats.

In “Superman is an Arab”, Haddad turns her attention to men, decrying the ‘Superman’ of the title, a man whose “muscles are just a facade for his insecurities”, who “confuses manhood with machismo, faith with fanaticism, ethics with stale tradition, love with possession and strength with despotism.” [Executive-Magazine]

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Picture from JasadMag, a glossy quarterly magazine dedicated to the body founded and run by Joumana.

The threats of murder, rape and acid attack are not scaring or slowing down Joumana, and her latest two articles are a clear proof of that. In case you missed them, [Dear Allah] and [What Women do not want] are awesome reads.

To be honest, I don’t know how she does it, but she’s more courageous than most women and men I know. I could go on and on talking about her but I think it’s enough that you read her articles to know what I’m talking about. She reminds me in a way of Gebran Tueni, a good friend of hers, who crossed all the “red” lines through his editorials and was one of the bravest, if not the bravest, newspaperman the Middle East has known.

In an interview with the Guardian, Joumana Haddad said that “she lives in a country that hates her”. Well BlogBaladi loves you and will do whatever it can to silence the haters.

Here’s a small brief on Joumana’s biography and achievements [Link].

Fatmagul Sultan causing a lot of pollution

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FatmaGul causing more pollution in Zouk area and covering the area with low black smokes

I’ve been hearing from few friends and reading in the news that the Turkish power ship is polluting the Zouk skies even more than the Zouk Power Plant used to do and leaving huge black smokes. What’s making things worse is that the smoke stacks are much lower than the plant’s two towers.

I am surprised that Adonis and Zouk residents haven’t filed a lawsuit yet against the government (any government) to act on the environmental and health hazard posed by the poisonous black smokes generated by the Zouk power plant.

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Picture taken from “Petition to reduce pollution caused by the Zouk Power Plant” Facebook Page

In other pollution-related stories in Lebanon, few Tripoli residents torched diesel tankers headed to Syria causing one of them to explode and leave a black smoke all over the city. Really Smart Move!

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Picture via MTV – Three diesel tankers exploded in Tripoli after being torched and black smoke is engulfing the city.

Oh and the drinking water in most schools in Lebanon seems to be polluted or containing high levels of chlorine according to this report:

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Report shows drinking water in many Lebanese schools is polluted or contains high levels of chlorine

Spanish-Lebanese Energy Consortium Abener-Butec might file a lawsuit against the Lebanese Government

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Picture taken from Zawya.com

I’ve heard news of a lawsuit being prepared against the Energy Ministry and Lebanese government before but I wasn’t sure about it up until now. Here’s a small brief on what happened:

A tender to build a new power production unit at the Deir Amar facility was initially won by Abener-Butec, a Spanish-Lebanese consortium few months back. The contract was estimated at $662 million dollars, which according to Energy Minister Gebran Bassil, exceeded the $502 million allocated to fund Deir Ammar’s reconstruction. What happened next is that the first tender got cancelled and a second one is set to be open for interested companies.

Under the terms of the tender, Energy Minister is allowed to seek a 10% reduction from the winning company, and Abener-Butec agreed to these terms by downsizing the capacity of the new plant from 535 megawatts to 430 megawatts, but refused to cut down the contract by $160 million, which kind of makes sense. [DailyStar]

“You cannot ask us to deduct more than 10 percent of the total costs of the project, because if we were able to reduce costs more than that then how much profit would we be making? We’d be stealing from the government,” Zakharia said (Myrna Zakharia, Butec’s PR and communications adviser).

I don’t quite understand why did the government chose Abener-Butec’s offer in the first place if they knew they were above the amount allocated to fund Deir Ammar’s reconstruction. We are talking about international companies here with a reputation to keep, not some local bid over few thousand dollars.

Added to that, it seems the Spanish Company’s offer was apparently an excellent one:

“The offer Abener-Butec had made gave a really good price, even lower than what the ministry had expected,” said Younes. The consortium’s offer set the cost of producing one Kilowatt at $1,262 when using heavy fuel and $1,170 when using gas. Younes said the consortium’s offer also maintained high-quality implementation: “Our competitors were Indian, Turkish, and Chinese companies, our offer was the best, in terms of value and quality.”

I am not sure how solid is Abener-Butec’s case legally speaking, since no contract was signed yet, but we might end up getting unofficially blacklisted by international companies because of that.

FAIL: Boycott Guns N’ Roses

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Here’s how the boycott logic works in Lebanon:

– We love Armin Van Buuren (among others), it’s ok if he played in “Israel” (see below video). We will barely mention it on our page.
– We are not very fond of Guns N’ Roses, Boycott those Zionists! Death to Israel! Hakitfa Matata or whatever …

Like I said on many occasions, I don’t have a problem with groups boycotting artists to make a stance even if I don’t agree with them, but at least be consistent.

[YouTube]