Meet Lebanese Base Jumper Joumana Seif

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Joumana Seif is a known French-Lebanese Orthodontist living in Geneva but more importantly she was Herve Le Gallou’s ex-girlfriend and one of the closest people to the French Base Jumper who died almost a year ago while attempting to jump off a cliff at Obiou in the French Alps. Le Gallou was a very popular and highly esteemed base jumper and a veteran of thousands of jumps. He was one of the two daredevils to jump off Burj Khalifa’s 155th floor back in 2008 undetected.

Here’s what Joumana told the New York Times about Herve one year after his unfortunate accident:

For Joumana Seif, Le Gallou’s former girlfriend, however, the accident could not be dismissed so easily. Seif, an elegant, 36-year-old orthodontist of French and Lebanese origin, lives in Geneva. She met Le Gallou through base jumping, and beginning in 2001, they had what she describes as an “intense” relationship. They split up in 2005 but remained close friends. When Le Gallou died, Seif organized several events in his memory, including a cremation in Grenoble, a Catholic Mass in Paris and a base-jumping memorial at his favorite spot at Cirque d’Archiane, in the Alps.

I spent two days with Seif in Paris last fall. As we talked about Le Gallou — Seif often pausing as she wept — she told me that two things bothered her about the accident. The first centered on the question of character. Le Gallou, she said, was a conservative base jumper. (This may appear a contradiction in terms, but as many of his friends confirmed recently, Le Gallou rarely pressed beyond his limits. Mavericks do not survive 18 years in a sport like base.) It seemed implausible to Seif that Le Gallou would have tried a risky line on his flight from Obiou. If he’d lost good finesse, she thinks he would have pulled above the plateau and lived to jump another day. To her, there was only one root cause for the accident: equipment trouble. The fact that his parachute was deployed when he crashed indicated some kind of delay in finding the handle for his pilot chute, the small canopy that precedes the larger parachute. (Failing to find the chute’s handle is known as a No Pull Find.) Once Le Gallou realized he was in trouble, Seif believes he lost precious fractions of seconds trying to deploy his pilot chute. By the time he did, it was too late.

Her second concern was Le Gallou’s helmet camera. It was his habit to record jumps. On the day he died, he wore a ContourHD camera attached to a rugby helmet. Grieving and searching for answers, Seif hunted feverishly for the device. But after the accident, the Contour camera was nowhere to be found. It was not among the personal effects collected by the police. Seif says she searched the crash site six times with a metal detector but found nothing.

None of Le Gallou’s fellow jumpers had an explanation for what happened to the device. Seif recalled that when she asked about the camera some days after the crash, one of the jumpers told her it was useless to look for it. “‘Maybe it’s in a million pieces,” he said. “Maybe a marmot took it.’ ”

Some weeks after the accident, however, the camera was discovered by the police 40 meters uphill from the crash site, near some flowers Seif had left. It seemed clear to her, though she had no proof, that the camera had later been moved or replaced. The police, who ruled Le Gallou’s death an accident, eventually found the HD card but said it was unreadable.

Seif remained dogged in her pursuit of what happened; she says she recently found a memory card at the site that she believes is Le Gallou’s. She is trying to retrieve the images from it. She contends there is “omertà” about a gear problem that may have led to Le Gallou’s accident. When I asked her why she thinks so, she produced a folder of documents that she gathered about the case. She also talked of her “intuition.”

Picture of Joumana Seif – Source

Thanks Mark!

World’s Strongest Man Pulls an 18-ton truck in Antelias

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سحب الدنماركي مايكل شلايخت شاحنة بوزن 18 طناً لمسافة 25 متراً في منطقة انطلياس وذلك ضمن بطولة القارات لأقوى رجل

I tried googling the name LBCI mentioned as the World’s Strongest man but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I also went through the list of winners of the strongest man competition and couldn’t find a Michael.

Last Year’s Strongest Man is Žydrūnas Savickas, known as Big Z, and he’s coming to Lebanon on the 28th of August 2013 for the International Strongman Challenge in Beirut.

Caritas Helping The Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

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Caritas Lebanon

It is true that the Syrian Refugees in Lebanon is proving to be a nightmare for the local authorities, but that’s not a reason to ignore these people or turn the matter into a racist one (Like this Al-Jadeed’s Report). Fortunately though, there are still NGOs and organizations in Lebanon taking care of these refugees and spreading the right message.

It is time we understand as Lebanese that by helping these refugees, we are helping ourselves as well.

Fadel Shaker Featured In The New York Times

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He was a known and loved artist and had the chance to play a positive role in society, instead he chose to get armed and shoot at army soldiers. What a total waste of oxygen this guy turned out to be.

You can read the whole article [Here].

SIDON, Lebanon — His success was a dream come true for this tough port city on the Mediterranean coast: a poor kid whose honeyed voice and ballads of love and heartbreak rocketed him to wealth and fame far from the gun-ridden neighborhood where he grew up.

Ahmed al-Jardali, a leader in the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sidon, said he tried to persuade Mr. Shaker to focus his piety on spiritual songs.
“Someone like Fadel could send a message much better than someone holding a rifle, so it was important for us to try to put him in the right place,” Mr. Jardali said. “But then the problems started and it was too late for him to choose a different direction.”


Standing in Mr. Shaker’s bedroom upstairs, where springs jutted from a burned mattress and a black chandelier hung overhead, Mr. Sin, the driver, shook his head.

“Even I have no idea what changed him,” he said. “How did he benefit from all of this?”

The Jewelled Kitchen now available at Librairie Antoine

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I went to Antoine & Spinneys to get the book a couple of weeks back but it wasn’t available yet. However, it’s available now for those interested. I already got my copy.

The Jewelled Kitchen is the first cookbook by Bethany Kehdy, the founder of [DirtyKitchenSecrets] and the person behind Taste Lebanon among many other things.

In case you missed my earlier post on Bethany, check it out [Here].

What is Al-Jadeed’s Reporter Nawal Berri trying to prove?

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We have over 600,000 confirmed Syrian Refugees in Lebanon yet this Al-Jadeed reporter figured some might be “Nawar” (As if those are not human beings) and are pretending to be Syrian Refugees to get food and shelter. She also thought it’s ok to stay in the car and yell at random homeless people sleeping on the streets asking them if they are Syrians or not and requesting identification papers.

I honestly don’t understand what Berri was trying to prove by this report. Al-Akhbar also didn’t get what she was going after and saw in her report more racism against Syrian refugees.

Off To Ehden

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Picture by Clement Tannouri

I just realized today that I’ve passed by Ehden many times on my way down from the Cedars but never really visited the town properly (Gino will hate me for that!). Ehden is one of Lebanon’s most beautiful towns and is located in the heart of the northern mountains of Lebanon.

I am going to try out a new venue called Kroom Ehden today so hopefully I’ll have a glimpse of the town and plan a whole weekend there soon enough. I remember passing by Ehden Country Club to check it out once during the winter and I wasn’t impressed at all but Kroom Ehden looks very promising, at least from the pictures I’m seeing.

Kroom Ehden

Sehnaoui: Fiber-optics network will cover all of Lebanon by year-end

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Picture from TheBeirutReport

We’ve been waiting for the fiber-optics network to be completed for 3 years now as it was promised by the previous Telecom Ministers. I hope this time things will work out and people will finally be able to enjoy more than 1 lousy Mb connection but if you read Habib’s report on this matter, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen anytime soon.

Let’s not forget the ongoing feud between the Telecom Ministry and Ogero.

Lebanon recently dropped 6 spots in the Download Index Report and now ranks 158th out of 182 countries.

Telecom Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said Thursday that more than half of Lebanon’s telephone substations were linked to a long-awaited fiber-optics network, and vowed to extend coverage to the remaining areas within the next six months. “After two years of work, the fiber optics network is ready in 170 telephone areas, and we sent a letter to [state-run telephone land line operator] OGERO to detail their financial and technical requirements to expand it to the remaining areas, which do not yet have DSL,” he said.

“The project is a part of balanced development … and no Lebanese will be without fast Internet by the end of the year,” Sehnaoui said. [DailyStar]