We Believe …

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ABAAD is a non-profit, non-politically affiliated, non-religious civil association that aims to achieve gender equality as an essential condition to sustainable social and economic development in the MENA region. ABAAD seeks to promote women’s equality and participation through policy development, legal reform, gender mainstreaming, engaging men, eliminating discrimination, and advancing and empowering women to participate effectively and fully in their communities. ABAAD also seeks to support and collaborate with civil society organizations that are involved in gender equality programs and advocacy campaigns. [Link]

I am all for promoting gender equality and ending violence against women but I don’t see how letting Muslim & Christian leaders endorse the “International 16 Days Campaign of Activism to End Violence Against Women (VAW) and Girls” is going to help in anyway.

Back in January 2012, a law that criminalizes violence perpetrated against women by family members was not passed due to pressure from religious leaders. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“The supreme Sunni Muslim authority in Lebanon, Dar El Fatwa, last summer issued a statement in response to a new draft law addressing domestic violence, claiming the proposal was intended to “break up the family similar to Western ways, which are foreign to our society and values.” Dar El Fatwa, as well as leading Shia religious figures in Lebanon, fear that putting the power to prosecute men for spousal abuse into the hands of the government would undermine the authority of Sharia courts in dealing with family matters. And in a country that is constitutionally divided along sectarian lines, such declarations directly affect the political process.” [Link]

So if religions truly prohibit violence against women, and religious leaders are agreeing with that, why isn’t the law passed once and for all? Wouldn’t it be better if the organization in question made them pressure the government to pass the law?

Lebanon ranks 128th in Corruption Perceptions Index 2012

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Lebanon ranked 128th out of 176 countries with a score of 30 over 100. Only Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Iran have worse rankings in the area. We’ve slightly improved from the past two years but we still have a long way ahead. In fact, I am surprised we are climbing ranks; it could be that other countries are getting more corrupt lol!

You can check out the full list and report [Here].

Early Christmas giveaway

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Thank you Sophie for the picture!

I honestly had no plans for a giveaway this year but I was asked a week ago to review a great product and the people who gave it to me were kind enough to let me give it away to the blog’s readers instead of returning it. I will reveal what it is in the next two days so stay tuned!

PS: Feel free to throw some guesses based on the picture I posted.

Is Freedom more important than Security?

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This is not really a question we should be asking ourselves as one should never compromise his freedom. In fact, sacrificing your freedom in order to feel safe leads to losing both (As quoted once by the great Benjamin Franklin). This being said, the bickering that is taking place between Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui and the Information Branch does not fall in the Security vs. Freedom debate, even though most people felt their privacy was invaded by the ISF’s controversial request.

The reason why I am saying that is not to defend one side over the other, but to clarify a matter that was blown out of proportion and is being dealt with in a destructive way. To sum things up, the Information Branch submitted a request to the Telecom ministry to provide them with the text messages that occurred across Lebanon two months before the assassination of Wissam Al-Hassan. The request was rejected originally so the Information Branch modified it to demand the circulating text messages in Beirut and Mount Lebanon only.

At this point, no one had any idea of what’s happening before certain newspapers leaked information that the Information Branch (Fere3 el Ma3loumet) had requested Facebook passwords from the Telecom ministry. Even though there was no such request, as the Information Branch is only interested in data logged by mobile operators and not ISPs, the Lebanese online community started a sort of campaign defend their privacy and Minister Sehnaoui’s Facebook post (see below) came to boost that campaign.

« Tonight, for the sake of our Privacy, I am calling for your support. A call to all bloggers, e-journalists, Tweeters and Facebook Users and all members of our Social Media Community. Our Internet Privacy as Lebanese People is at stake.
Today I took a decision and refused a request from “Fer3 Ma3loumet” demanding content of all SMS as well as username and password of all data sessions, BBM Webmail of 4 Million Lebanese. This request is unacceptable, illogical and cannot be justified. We cannot solve a crime by committing another crime.
The decision is now in the hands of the Council Of Ministers and this is where I need your support. I need you to share awareness everywhere to put pressure on all Members of the Council and stop this invasion of our Privacy. RT, SHARE, EMAIL, BLOG. Use ANY means you find fit to say “As a Lebanese Citizen I refuse to give up on my Internet Privacy.” »

Even though I agree that our privacy should not be invaded, I believe Minister Sehnaoui should not have publicized the matter and made a big deal out of it, specially that the request came to investigate the murder of Wissam Al Hassan. In the same way, the Intelligence bureau should not accuse the minister or any party of covering up for the murderers if the complete data is not handed out to them. Just to be clear again, I am not saying Sehnaoui should have accepted to give out the data because the victim is important, but instead of inciting Lebanese against the Information Branch that had just lost its founder and one of the key figures on the Lebanese scene, both sides should have met and agreed on better ways to resolve the problem specially that it’s not the first time it happens [Old Data Requests from the Information Branch].

As much as we all (I hope so) want our freedom above all, we also want to know who’s been killing key figures in Lebanon, spying for Israel, kidnapping foreigners and other security-related issues. Having said that, the Information Branch has been doing a great job throughout the past few years in capturing criminals, spy cells and preventing assassinations by monitoring calls/emails/SMSes and all sorts of data. This however does not mean we should keep on giving them full access to our data but also does not mean we should make a drama out of it when they ask for data. It’s really sad to see a ministry pulling a decent job, and a security apparel working efficiently, waste their time over such fights.

What I am suggesting, given the complexity of the situation in Lebanon, is for the the Ministry of Telecommunications and the Information Branch to coordinate efforts and set up a mechanism whereas the Intelligence Bureau is granted access to specific data under the supervision of the ministry (in one of the ministry’s offices preferably) and a representative from the judicial authorities. By working together, the ministry’s personnel and the judiciary delegate would make sure that no one’s violating the constitution and Law 140 while the Intelligence Branch would have whatever data is needed (and permissible) to conduct their investigations. More importantly, the data would stay in one place.

After all, Lebanon is not the only country in the world where intelligence agencies monitor data to prevent terrorist attacks and assassination attempts, yet I don’t see parties bickering over that matter anywhere in the world.

Skyline Tower Beirut

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There are a lot of skyscrapers under construction at the moment in Beirut but not all have Bernard Khoury’s signature on them. Skyline, located in Mar Mikhail, is one of them.

Here are more details on the project:

“In an audacious attempt of merging five large plots (1072, 1073, 1074, 1075, and 1076), a high rise structure can stand with total built up area of over 13000m2. The site is located at the intersection of three roads. The respective setbacks and proposed profile enhance the project’s sensitivity to its surrounding despite its 90m vertical height. The slim rectangular configuration of the plan (39m long by 14m wide) allows for terrace apartments of longitudinal slabs with full exposures on all orientations.

Irregular belts of suspended elements with interchanging functions outline the edifice periphery and create a flexible zone for extension or retraction of internal spaces at the edges of all slabs. Upon request these optional items can hold for planters/swimming pools/Jacuzzis/ ….

A covered car arrival, along the glazed entrance to the building, opens to a wide garden before reaching the underground parking of three levels. The residents benefit as well at the ground floor from a common leisure zone (a lap pool and a gym) surrounded with greenery.

The 90m high edifice of over 13000m2 of total residential area and additional 400m2 of terraces are distributed respectively on 24 floors. The apartments areas vary in a range of 230m2 to 510m2 rendered as follows: From floor 1 to 17 the platform is divided in two: North and South apartments. The South apartments are equal in surfaces from floor 1 up till the 17th. The North apartments are equal in surfaces from floor 1 till the 9th and starts reducing gradually with the elevation line up to the 15th floor.

In floor 16 and 17 the North apartments are joined by an internal stair to become one duplex residence. Reaching the 18th floor, the apartments merge to allow for large Simplexes up till the 22nd floor by still respecting the elevation profile. On the 23rd and 24th floor the 580m2 Penthouse with its 160m2 terrace and exposed swimming pool, benefit from 360° views through the coastline, the port, its neighboring quarters, and Mount Lebanon in its Northern background.”

You can check out more about it [Here].

You can easily spot the Skyline tower on your way back from Beirut towards Dora