ASHEKMAN: Covering And Replacing Ugly Political Slogans With Beautiful Graffiti Murals

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graf1

The highly talented ASHEKMAN brothers have been covering the ugly political slogans and stencils from Beirut’s walls way before the Ministry of Interior decided to do so, and they’ve been sending out positive messages through their amazing graffiti murals, Arabic calligraphy, as well as Arabic rap music and street wear.

For those of you who are not familiar with ASHEKMAN, it was established in 2001 by identical twin brothers Mohamed & Omar Kabbani. Recently, Beirut’s municipality decided to remove their “To Be Free Or Not” mural in Achrafieh instead of encouraging and sponsoring young Lebanese artists to remove the ugliness from the city’s walls and replace them with beautiful artwork.

ASHEKMAN are not planning to slowdown anytime soon and have many upcoming murals to paint in Beirut, so stay tuned!

Here are five of my favorite ASHEKMAN murals:

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IMG_1951

IMG_1952

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What’s So Controversial About “American Sniper”?

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charlie

I finally got to watch American Sniper yesterday and I don’t understand the controversy over it. Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated movie tells the story of Chris Kyle, a Texan marksman who has become the most lethal sniper in US military history and portrays what an American sniper goes through during war. The movie may seem like an American propaganda for some and a tribute to American heroes by others, but there’s nothing really controversial about an American director bragging about US troops specially those who fought in Iraq.

If people were annoyed with the first scene where Chris Kyle kills a woman and a child trying to attack an army convoy, there’s another scene where Kyle is begging another kid to drop the RPG so he doesn’t have to shoot him. There’s no doubt that US troops killed innocent civilians in Iraq and that the US intervention in Iraq was a complete mess, but let’s not forget how terrorists are using kids and women to attack soldiers as well. Two days ago, I read an article on how ISIS militants are using “mentally challenged children as suicide bombers”.

Funnily enough, the only thing that surprised me was how highly rated the movie is as I didn’t think it was that good. The story is cool but the fight scenes are real quick and I got bored at some point. It’s probably Michael Moore’s tweet that made American Sniper the boxoffice phenomenon of 2015 so far.

Rating: 3.5/5

I Watched Birdman And I’m Speechless

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birdman A Lebanon-edition poster for Birdman

My cousin called me yesterday to see if I wanted to go watch Birdman with him. I told him I’ve already seen the movie but I am not sure if I liked it or not. He laughed at first but when he finished watching it, he replied back that he got the same feeling. Birdman is a strange, beautiful and unique black comedy. It’s a movie you’d want to watch 2 or 3 times just to make sure you didn’t miss anything, and where you have to let your imagination take over. The ending is also surprising and superb. Funnily enough, the only character standing between delusion and reality is Zach Galifianakis (Jake).

In all cases, even if you didn’t like the plot, you can’t but appreciate the outstanding performance and impressive acting of Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in the movie. I am planning to watch it a second time this coming weekend.

Rating: 4/5

Animal Abuse Will Soon Be Illegal In Lebanon!

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law is appro

The Animal protection and welfare law has been finally approved by the council of ministers and will soon be presented to the parliament! Animals Lebanon have been working for 3 years now to implement this law and have collected over 25,000 signatures for that purpose and their efforts have finally paid off.

It’s about time animal abuse becomes illegal in Lebanon and we are almost there!

Council of Ministers gives the animal protection and welfare law their official approval! Announced in the National News Agency and on LBC after yesterdays cabinet session, the draft law was one of 15 items discussed. This law regulates industries and establishments that use animals and will finally give all animals the legal protection they need.
Thank you to all of the Ministers for backing this campaign from the very beginning, Prime Minister Tamam Salam, Minister of Agriculture Akram Chehayeb, former Minister of Agriculture Hussein Hajj Hassan, the Ministry staff, and every one of our supporters for making this campaign possible. Now on to Parliament – and a better future for animals!

So A Beirut Graffiti That Says “To be free, or not to be” Is A Threat To Civil Peace Now?

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graffiti

The beautiful Tabaris mural that was painted by the awesome ASHEKMAN brothers was removed today by the Beirut municipality, as part of the campaign to remove “all political slogans” from Beirut. I don’t understand how this graffiti has anything to do with the stupid redundant political slogans that were being removed today, noting that ASHEKMAN and March NGO had received an authorization from Beirut’s governor and the building owner to draw this graffiti. Moreover, Beirut’s municipality should be supporting and sponsoring such positive messages and art works instead of painting over them!

I think we should regroup the soonest in the same place and help ASHEKMAN draw a bigger graffiti.

Check out the full story via [MARCH].

From Football Teammates In Lebanon To Sworn Enemies In Syria

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drama
Picture taken from Al Akhaa Ahli Aley Football Team Archive

This picture, which was shared by Hazem al Amin today, pretty much sums up how the Syrian Civil War has spilled over into Lebanon. It shows two Lebanese football players Ahmad Diab and Hussein el Amin celebrating a goal back in 2013 in a game against Ansar club.

Few months after this game, Ahmad Diab committed a terrorist suicide bombing while Hussein went to Syria to fight with Hezbollah. Both were members of the same football team and used to fight together to win every game, yet somehow turned into sworn enemies in a fight that is not even ours.

Here’s a [link] to the original article.

drama

Remembering Sarah el Khatib On World Cancer Day

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cancer via ArtSheep

Sara el Khatib was a 4th year pharmacy student at LAU and was battling cancer, living with an amputation and enduring the accompanying pain. Sara gave the below inspiring TEDx talk 14 days before she passed away, leaving us with 4 objects, symbolizing 4 lessons she had learned while battling cancer.

As brilliantly quoted in the poster above, cancer changes your live not the value of it. Let’s remember Sara, Simon and all those who lost the battle, as well as the survivors and all those battling cancer on this day.

[YouTube]

Beirut Marathon Officially One Of The 26 Exclusive Silver Races In The World!

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marathon

The BDL Beirut Marathon has been promoted to a SILVER Road Race by the International Association of Athletics Federation after it met all the organization’s quality requirements. Becoming a silver label marathon is very difficult and requires the participation of elite athletes, performing doping tests, ensuring proper road closures and safety measures, as well media coverage and others. Noting that there are only 26 other exclusive silver races in the world, this is a major achievement for Lebanon and the Beirut Marathon people who have been working for four years to earn this award.

Needless to say, I am definitely a huge supporter of this awesome annual run as it promotes peace, unity, causes and attracts more and more Lebanese every year. I run the 10k usually and my goal this year is to complete the race in less than 1 hour.

Congrats to all the Beirut Marathon people, to the runners, sponsors and all the supporters!

Could Melanie Freiha Have Been Saved? Why Aren’t There Medical Centers And Clinics Near Ski Resorts In Lebanon?

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ski Picture via Ralph Saade

Melanie Freiha is an 18-year old student who died in a ski accident last weekend in Kfardebian. I couldn’t figure out the exact circumstances of her tragic death but I know that it took some time to transfer her to the nearest hospital in Ajaltoun where she died during surgery. The same happened with Yves Nawfal as the roads were all covered with snow and the Red Cross needed some time to get to Saint Georges in Ajaltoun which is 30 minutes away if not more. Moreover, the Kfardebian – Faraya road is usually blocked due to traffic during weekends, specially in daytime, and we’ve all seen what happened the last time a poor guy tried to clear the way for an ambulance.

Having said all that, I think it’s about time the authorities or the concerned parties invest in building a proper emergency clinic next to ski resorts and in the Kfardebian area. I know for a fact that the Red Cross has a branch in Kfardebian but I don’t think they are equipped to receive and treat emergencies. We need a medical center that has a well trained ER team, as well as emergency physicians, trauma surgeons and nurses capable of evaluating injuries and treating minor ones, and assessing the severity of one’s injury and the need to transfer him to another clinic or hospital. If Melanie was given the necessary treatment in the first 60 minutes of the accident, also known as the golden hour, she could have had a better chance of surviving maybe.

Speaking of hospitals, it’s quite weird that we don’t have any good hospital in the whole Keserwan district which is one of Lebanon’s biggest districts. I’ve been to Saydit Lebnen, Saint Louis and Saint Georges and they are all average, if not below average, hospitals when compared to the ones in Beirut. Maybe it’s time that Lebanon’s Health Ministry tackles this serious problem and sets proper standards for hospitals.

Sincere condolences to Melanie’s family.

Melanie