I Support Beirut Madinati (Beirut-My City)

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BM2

I could name a thousand reasons why I love Beirut. I love its old streets, its authentic houses and shops, its crowded cafes and pubs, the contrast between old and new, the hidden gems that you find on each corner, the diversity, the traditional food etc …

We all love Beirut but our city deserves better. Beirut needs clean streets, more green spaces, proper sidewalks, better waste management, more affordable housing, organized public transportation and more importantly it needs qualified, competent and non-corrupt people to manage it.

We are all disgusted by the entrenched political class that has been ruling our country and mis-managing our cities for years and we all want municipal councils that interact and listen to citizens, that work with civil groups and use their know-how and that actually present an electoral plan when they run for elections. Unfortunately, the likelihood of an outside list winning in Beirut is almost impossible as they face a coalition of three large political blocks but someone needs to put pressure on the ruling class and this is exactly what Beirut Madinati is doing.

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What is Beirut Madinati?

Beirut Madinati is a volunteer-led campaign that aims at challenging the traditional political leadership and working towards making “Beirut more livable: more affordable, more walkable, more green, more accessible, and, simply, more pleasant”. Their program was developed by experts with years of experiences and it addresses problems of affordability, mobility, waste management, air quality, public spaces, basic services, and municipal governance.

A lot of people will argue at this point that these ideas are impossible to achieve, which is why Beirut Madinati has been organizing a weekly open house, neighborhood gatherings and breakfasts in an attempt to interact with people, discuss their program and stress on two key parts of their electoral campaign: transparency and participation. Speaking of transparency, you can check all their finances on their [website].

What I love about Beirut Madinati so far is that they are pragmatic and transparent in their approach and that they are trying to make a change through the electoral process and not by going for unrealistic demands like toppling the system. It is an opportunity and a commitment to improve our city through the electoral process and I cannot but support it.

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To sum up their program in 10 points:
1- Improve urban mobility through an integrated strategy that makes soft options (i.e. walking, biking) more viable, enhances and organizes shared transportation systems.
2- Improve greenery and public space by incorporating the city’s shared spaces into a network of green passages and spaces.
3- Make housing more affordable for future homeowners and tenants.
4- Implement an integrated solid waste management strategy by providing incentives for businesses and households.
5- Protect and develop Beirut’s built and natural heritage, including its waterfront.
6- Build community spaces and enhance services, in partnership with stakeholders and active NGOs.
7- Integrate social justice, poverty alleviation, and socio-economic development.
8- Integrate principles of environmental sustainability and stewardship across all regulatory and operational interventions of the municipality.
9- Prioritize the health and safety of all city dwellers by recognizing the municipality’s responsibility to monitor, lobby for, and intervene.
10- Improve the organizational structure of the Municipality. [Full Program]

All in all, municipal reform is much needed in Beirut and all of Lebanon and Beirut Madinati has valuable ideas and a solid program that would definitely improve living conditions in the capital. In fact, they are probably the only side that actually presented an electoral program.

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Can Beirut Madinati actually win?

I don’t think that’s the right question to ask here. The fact that there’s an opposing list to the current municipality is already a major win. As long as there are people willing to step-in and participate actively in the political life to take back what is rightfully ours, we need to support them even if change takes years.

Beirut Madinati candidates, which were not yet announced, may not win this year but hopefully they will keep their initiative going for the years to come and be even more prepared in the next municipal elections. Even more, I think they should try to reach out to the winning candidates in the next 6 years and push for their ideas as I’m sure there’s at least one competent municipal member in Beirut.

Until then, let’s help them out by spreading the word and keeping the momentum going.

PS: For those who wish to contribute financially, you can donate [here].

Did Anyone Figure Out Burger King’s Ads?

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bk1

“10452 branches in Keserwan”
“365 new branches”
“451 new branches in Keserwan”
“252 new branches in Matn”

I tried mixing the numbers together, adding/subtracting them, it doesn’t make any sense. Does anyone know what this campaign is about? I’m curious to know now.

They should give away a prize to the person who figures it out because everyone I asked was clueless.

bk2

teaser

Here’s Your Chance To Meet World Football Legends in Lebanon

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figo

World football legends might be coming to Lebanon on September 10 to play a game at the Fouad Chehab Sports Stadium in Jounieh.

The final list of players and details of the event will be announced on May 5th during a press conference by the organizing committee. The event is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism and organized by Arabica sports (part of Arabica Group TV network). The game might be played against stars of the Lebanese Football but that was not decided yet.

I’m sure all football fans, including myself, would love to meet these legends. I will update you with the final lineup as soon as it is announced.

roma

Speaking of Lebanese Football fans and Football legends, a Lebanese AS Roma fan called Bako Karnib got an exclusive chance to meet his idols at Trigoria. He traveled specifically To Rome to get a sight of the players he admires and, after watching the team draw with Bologna last Monday, spent hours each day outside the training ground to get further mementos of his trip.

PS: Thank you Figo29 for the great news and Fouad for the AS Roma story!

Lebanese Municipal Elections Candidates That Litter

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litter

The municipal elections will probably take place on time in Lebanon this year as promised by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk. A lot of candidates have already started campaigning and some of them began littering as well. Posters are randomly placed on walls, traffic lights, residential buildings, traffic signs and even on your car.

We are in the middle of a garbage crisis, we are trying to push people to reduce waste and recycle and then you find municipal elections candidates polluting their own city’s streets and walls. If I were an Achrafieh resident, I would never vote for this guy or any candidate that doesn’t even bother to keep his city clean.

On another note, there’s an ongoing volunteer-led campaign this year, called “Beirut Madinati”, that looks very promising and aims at electing a municipal council of qualified, politically unaffiliated individuals. I’ve been meaning to write about this initiative but I’m waiting for them to announce the candidates.

The Narrow Streets of Bourj Hammoud

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Burj hammoud via OldBeirut

Bourj Hammoud used to be a huge garden back in the 1920s before thousands of Armenian refugees began arriving in Beirut and settling in refugee camps on the outskirts of the city. What began as a tent camp soon turned into an urban center and later on in the 1950s an independent municipality.

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Burj Hammoud is one of the most densely populated cities in the Middle East and has been neglected for years by the authorities. Fifteen years ago, several houses and shops were torn to build a bridge right across the overcrowded city. As a result, hundreds of households are now living in detrimental conditions under the bridge or right next to it.

The below video by Joanne Nochu is a leader for a 90 minute film on “The Narrow Streets of Bourj Hammoud” and has received support from the Wenner Gren Foundation.

Here’s a brief on the project:

This project established a filmmaking workshop for young adults living in Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon. Bourj Hammoud is a diverse, densely populated, working-class suburb of Beirut that is dominated by Armenian social and political institutions. Earlier dissertation research in Bourj Hammoud looked at the ramifications of various urban planning initiatives as well as infrastructures and social service institutions on the formation of sectarian identity. Using videography and photography, the grantee documented how people obtained much-needed services and resources, like education, medical care, electricity and water. The presence of the grantee’s camera elicited great interest among several of interlocutors and enabled unexpected conversations as grantee and interlocutor filmed the urban landscape of Bourj Hammoud together. The engaged anthropology project established a filmmaking workshop with some interlocutors.

The Narrow Streets of Bourj Hammoud from Joanne Nucho on Vimeo.

#BlogWaladi: Clashing Parenting Styles & How To Deal With Grand Parents

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Briann

Even if you have the sweetest parents and in-laws, there will come a time when one of them or both will get on your nerves when they are offering unsolicited advice on how to care for your little one. Of course grandparents really do mean well and want to make sure that their grandchildren are cared for in the most proper way but their parenting styles and tips are not always the best and can be outdated, wrong, or downright harmful especially when they suggest Arak as a teething remedy, make your 6-month old child taste chocolate or drink water or even allow him to watch TV.

All grandparents want to help, even though they are not obligated to, so we should be grateful in a way and try to find a balance between letting them enjoy spoiling and loving their grandchildren and keeping them from crossing boundaries.

Here are few tips on how to handle unwanted parenting advice:
1- Be in agreement with your wife on how you’re going to raise your child. This will help you confront grandparents over sensitive issues.

2- Quote the pediatrician when boundaries are crossed, and make sure to do it respectfully and calmly in order not to harm the relationship and avoid confrontation. Your parents do have more experience than you in raising kids but they are not more qualified than your baby’s doctor to give advice.

3- Don’t set yourself as an adversary and try to listen to some of your grandparents’ advice. You definitely don’t want to miss out on some great advice and some of their tips might actually fit with your parenting style.

I know things are easier said than done, but it’s in your best interest to listen to grandparents, explain to them what they are doing wrong and come up with constructive things that each of them can do to help rather than reject everything they have to offer. Making them feel helpful is much more rewarding for the whole family, especially the baby.

smile

In order to illustrate better these clashing parenting styles that every family will face at some point, there’s a brilliant, and funny, YouTube series “Drama Mama” that my friend Maia did as part of Nestlé’s Start Healthy Stay Healthy initiative and that aims at generating awareness and providing essential information to pregnant women and mothers.

Some of the topics covered are: Water for newborns, Baby’s bed, Baby sleeping time, Teething in babies, Baby nutrition schedule and others.

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

Internet in Lebanon: Know Your Digital Rights

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sil

There are still no “internet” laws in Lebanon but that doesn’t mean Lebanon’s internet is free and uncensored. On the contrary, internet censorship is on the rise due to a lack of regulation and accountability practices and a lot of online activists or regular internet users are being wrongfully arrested and interrogated.

For that purpose, MARCH Lebanon, a civil movement actively fighting against censorship in all its forms, has launched a booklet where you can find all your “online” rights in an attempt to counter “the unregulated, illegal and unfair practices of censorship against the internet in Lebanon”.

The booklet first explains the “The Freedom of Expression in the Lebanese Constitution”, “The limits of Freedom of Expression according to the Lebanese Laws” and the difference between “slander” and “libel”, before moving on to the “IT Crimes” and the actions taken by the Cybercrimes and the protection of the intellectual Property Rights Bureau.

Here are 3 important things that you need to know:

1- You are held accountable for each and every word you publish and write on social media or on the Internet in general, should said word constitute a slander or libel according to the Lebanese Law.

2- If you receive a call from the Cybercrimes Bureau, ask for:
– The name and rank of the officer.
– A legal notice from the Bureau, not an invitation over the phone.
– Immediately contact the MARCH hotline 03 09 08 70 to inform them (For free).
– If you are a journalist and have a journalist card, you are not obligated to go.

3- Your Rights in interrogation and arrest:
– Contacting Family members and Friends
– Meeting a Lawyer
– Assistance by interpreter for non-Arabic speaker
– Right to remain silent
– Defend yourself without the use of force
– Medical examination
– Be informed of your rights
– Detention only by order of prosecutor for a duration of 48 hour extended once (total of 74 hour)

I recommend you read the [full booklet] and be aware of all your rights if you are ever accused of slander or libel, or asked to visit the Cybercrimes Bureau.

Not All Prepaid Cards Will Be Banned in Lebanon

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prepaid

The Central Bank (BDL) has decided last week to prohibit banks and institutions from issuing or selling prepaid cards, as part of its campaign against money laundering. “BDL gave the concerned parties till Sept. 30, 2016 as the deadline to take the necessary measures to settle the problem of existing prepaid cards. These cards are not allowed to be recharged in the meantime”. Bearer shares were also banned by BDL. [Source]

Just to clarify one point here, prepaid cards that are not linked to any account or are anonymous will only be banned based on what I’ve heard and the LBCI report. All prepaid cards that are linked to accounts should be fine, however the majority of prepaid cards in Lebanon, which constitute 20% of the total cards in Lebanon, are not linked to accounts.

Prepaid cardholders can continue to use their cards until September 2016 or until they run out of balance, but I expect banks to find a middle ground with the Central Bank until then because prepaid cards are needed mainly for internet use.

GoPro Camera Records Amchit Motorcycle Crash

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crash2

A motorist caught on his GoPro a bike running into someone crossing the Amchit highway. Luckily no one was hurt in the accident and the biker explained in a comment that he wasn’t driving at a very high speed and was surprised by the person crossing the road.

To be honest, they did look like they were going a bit fast but the blame is on the guy crossing the road and the authorities for not installing pedestrian bridges on the way. Nevertheless, even if there are no pedestrian crossings on the highway, you have to be crazy to cross that highway.