Al Baghdadi Live Tweeting At #ArabnetMe

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I don’t know who’s running this account but they were live tweeting during the panel with ISF and TMC representatives and interacting with all the tweeps and it was pretty funny. Speaking of Arabnet, it ended today and I will post a quick roundup on the interesting and exciting things in the days to come.

An Old Martyrs Square Monument That Was Removed In 1950s

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Place-des-Martyrs-1942

Update (19 March 2015):: Here’s a small french text I found about the monument
“Le groupe en bronze sculpté par un italien du nom de Mazzucati a pris la place du monument en pierre de Youssef Hoyeck représentant deux femmes, l’une chrétienne, l’autre musulmane. Considérées comme pas assez «glorieuses», les pleureuses Hoyeck n’on connu qu’heurs et malheurs: Attaquées par un fou en 1948, déboulonnées en 1960, elles furent retrouvées enduites de goudron dans un dépôt avant d’être finalement restaurées et exposées dans le jardin du musée Sursock ou elles sont désormais bichonnées par la passionnée conservatrice Sylvia Agémian. La mobilité des monuments et leur déboulonnage institutionnalisé ont fait des émules chez les voisins: Au printemps 2005, portraits équestres, en pied ou en buste à l’effigie de chefs d’états, fils de chefs d’états et fils de chefs d’états devenus chefs d’états qui enjolivaient le pays furent démantelés et évacués par leurs propriétaires, mêmes. “

It basically says that “Les Pleureuses” which were built by Joseph Hoayek were damaged by a crazy man in 1948 and then were removed and displayed at Musee Surosck where they still are. One of the readers promised to send me a picture. I will post it once available.

Update2 (20 March 2015): I got two close-up pictures of the monument from one of the blog’s readers. Thanks a million Maissa!
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I was going through old pictures of Martyrs Square and I found this very old picture of a monument of a Christian and a Muslim Lebanese women holding hands that was apparently removed in the 1950s right before the construction of the Martyrs Monument. I’ve never heard of that monument before and I couldn’t find out why they decided to remove it and replace it with the Italian sculptor Renato Marino Mazzacurati statue that we all are familiar with.

I tried looking at old pictures of Martyrs Square (Before 1950) to try and locate where the monument was but couldn’t really figure it out. However if you notice the monument was right below the Philips sign which is showing in newer pictures (1950s and up). I know it’s not a big deal but it would be nice to know the story behind that statue, how it came be and where it is now. Here are a couple of pictures of how Martyrs Square looked in the 1930s and a newer one from the 1950s.

PS: If anyone has further information on that statue, please do share.

1930 Martyrs Square in the 1930s

1935 Martyrs Square in the 1930s

1950_3 Martyrs Square in the 1950s: Notice the Philips sign

Here’s an old video of Martyrs Square in 1897:

[YouTube]

Lebanon’s New Traffic Law: Everything You Need To Know

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new law

I think we all agree that Lebanon needs a new traffic law and I’m glad that the authorities finally managed to draft a new modern traffic law but the question remains whether they will be able to implement it or not? I followed closely Kalamennas‘ episode last week, listened to what Gen. Joseph Msallem (head of public relations division in the Internal Security Forces) and Marcel Ghanem had to say and all I can say is that law enforcement officers need to figure out a way to gain people’s trust while spreading awareness on the new traffic law.

If the aim of the new traffic law is to fine people, then things will only get worse and people will find a way (wasta) not to pay the fines. If not, then the ISF should develop a strategy to 1) spread awareness on the new traffic law without fines 2) serve as role models and 3) gain people’s trust and encourage them not to break the law. Two days ago, I spotted four police officers breaking the law on my way from Jounieh to Achrafieh. One of them wasn’t wearing a seat-belt, the other wasn’t wearing a helmet on his bike, and the 2 others were driving recklessly and cutting off people. If some police officers are incapable of respecting the law and are not being fined or reprimanded, then things will never work out even if this new law is the one of the most modern ones in the world.

On another note, you need a proper infrastructure and decent roads to properly implement the new traffic law, which is not the case. Our roads are terrible and barely lit, traffic lights (if present) are not working everywhere, road works are lousy and hazardous, potholes are everywhere etc. Of course this is not an excuse not to have a new traffic law but the absence of any initiative to fix all these small issues endangering people’s lives makes us wonder if the government is serious about this new law or they’re just doing it to collect more money from the Lebanese.

Speaking of violations and fines, I summed up some of the technical details that were mentioned on LBCI in order to give you an idea about the new law. If you are interested in reading the whole 177-pages long law, you can find it [here].

All in all, we do need severe offences to stop traffic violations but we also need competent and trustworthy law enforcement officers to do the job, and we need the law to be implemented in all regions and on all individuals without any exception.

PS: The fines are so high in this new traffic law that one blogger thought of introducing the Lebanese driving ticket loan.

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In addition to the above violations, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or exceeding the speed limit will be also be punishable by law. The fines will be determined based on the severity of the violation.

An Empty Nejmeh Square In Beirut Turned Green For St Patrick’s Day

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Nejmeh Square greening 2015 (1)

I shared a picture yesterday of Beirut’s Nejmeh Square (Place de l’Etoile) as it turned green to celebrate Ireland’s National Day. The #GoGreen4PatricksDay initiative was organized by the Irish Consulate in Beirut and the Irish Embassy in Cairo in partnership with the Mayor of Beirut yet the one thing that almost everyone pointed out in that picture was the fact that Nejmeh square was empty.

Captain Philip Carey, currently serving with UNIFIL in At-Tiri, south Lebanon, said at the event: “Over 30,000 members of the Irish Defence Forces have served as peacekeepers with UNIFIL in Lebanon since 1978 and I am intensely proud to be here at this Greening for St Patrick’s Day, commemorating our role in restoring peace in Lebanon and celebrating the friendship between our two countries and people.”

I know for a fact that a small event was organized for St Patrick’s Day and Ireland’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Isolde Moylan, gave a small speech on the bonds of solidarity and friendship between the two countries and the symbolism of the Beirut greening, but it saddens me that the Beirut municipality and the Irish Consulate didn’t consider doing a major event to attract people and revive the square for at least one night. St Patrick’s Day could have been the perfect occasion for that as there are plenty of fun things to do, like everyone getting dressed in green and wearing shamrocks, as well as plenty of drinking games to play.

It saddens me to see the once so-popular Nejmeh square always empty nowadays but the problem is not that people are not going to DT Beirut anymore, but instead they are now going to Beirut Souks and its surrounding mainly due to the security measures always in place near the parliament and the road closures around it. I think it’s about time Beirut’s Municipality and Solidere consider reviving Nejmeh square by organizing weekly events and making good use of holidays like St Patrick’s Day.

70-235463: A Legal Hotline By MARCH Lebanon To Fight Internet Censorship

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Internet censorship is wrong and a lot of bloggers, Twitter and Facebook users are still being summoned or questioned by the authorities for posts or pictures they either published or shared. In the absence of a law that regulates internet usage (Fortunately?) and protects the freedom of internet users, such practices are questionable and the majority of those summoned usually don’t have anyone to turn to and aren’t aware about their rights. Moreover, it’s very stressful when you get a call from the authorities asking you to come over for a coffee and a lot of people don’t know how to behave in such situations out of fear. For that purpose, MARCH Lebanon has been working for months on launching a hotline to provide support, advice and legal representation for any online user who is being harassed by the authorities.

The hotline was finally launched last week (70-235463) and the aim from it is not defy the authorities but to raise awareness on everyone’s rights, ensure that legal procedures are being followed and of course defend internet freedom in Lebanon. A booklet will be distributed on a later stage to inform internet users and more specifically social media users of their rights. The hotline will be operational 24/7 and you can even report people being harassed or websites being banned.

Make good use of this number and help protect internet freedom in Lebanon. Many thanks to the MARCH Lebanon team!

Speaking of censorship and freedom, here are some of the posts I’ve written on this issue:
Censorship In Lebanon: Ekhirta ra7 to2ta3
Is Freedom more important than security?
The 10 silliest acts of censorship in Lebanon

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Lebanese-American Amateur Footballer To Be Jailed For Killing Referee During A Football Game

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Bassel Saad

“For better or for worse, you’ve come to personify all that’s wrong with many people’s belief about the escalation of violence in sports,”. That’s what the judge told Bassel Saad after he sentenced him to at least eight years in prison on Friday for a punch that killed a
Detroit-area referee. Saad apparently has already assaulted a soccer player back in 2005 and faced a second-degree murder charge. He told the court he “was so sorry” for what happened but his apology won’t bring back referee John Bieniewicz, a happily married man and a father of two.

USA today are saying that he could face deportation for what he did. All I know is that he’s a disgrace to sports and to Lebanese in the US.

Cintia Baroud Made It To The Voice Canada’s Final Rounds!

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Cintia Baroud is a Lebanese-Canadian singer and songwriter. She’s competing in the Voice Canada and has advanced to the final rounds of the TV show. I watched her performance and she has a great voice to be honest and deserves our support.

She will be performing once again on March 22 so best of luck to you Cintia!

PS: I tried to find the link where you can vote on Facebook for Cintia but only found La Voix Cintia Baroud page.

[YouTube]

FAIL: Offer Your Mother A Housekeeper For Mother’s Day

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That’s just so wrong on so many levels! What were they thinking? And to make it even worse, there are special offers on nationalities :S

Update: Speaking of bad Mother’s Day ads, Mustapha just reminded me of this 2011 Klynn ad.

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Update2: The company that sent the shameful SMS apologized.

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Update3: Minister Sejaan Azzi has decided to close down the company in question. Thanks Rami!

Some Idiot Was Playing Football On The Jounieh Highway

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Every time I see such videos, I wonder why doesn’t anyone give a call to the ISF or the Lebanese Army and have these people arrested? There’s always a policeman on the Kaslik roundabout which is 2 minutes away from where this video is taken and there’s an army base also 3 minutes away if not less.

Since the Lebanese authorities want to implement a new traffic law, let’s start by monitoring the highways and stopping the crazy bikers and dangerous drivers pulling stunts, as well as idiots like this guy playing football and blocking the road!

[YouTube]