The UNHCR released its annual Global Trends Report: World At War on Thursday, and revealed that the number of people displaced by war and persecution has reached a new high whereas one in every 122 humans globally is either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum. We are talking about almost 60 million people that were forcibly displaced compared to 51.2 million in 2013.
As far as refugees per 1,000 inhabitants ratio is concerned, Lebanon is still leading the way with 232 refugees, followed by Jordan with 87. The “good” news though is that this number has slightly dropped from mid-2014 where it peaked at 257, which could be due to the visa restrictions set by the Lebanese authorities.
Needless to say, there’s still a lot of work to be done as refugees need to be regrouped in decent camps and should get the necessary help. Of course Lebanon needs all the help he can get from Arab countries and the UN, but more importantly, we need transparency and accountability when it comes to foreign aids to ensure funds are not going into the wrong pockets.
Egyptian Prankster Ramez Galal thought it would be funny this year to invite celebrities to a fake opening of a hotel in Dubai, fly them on a private jet and trick them into believing that the plane is going to crash and that they need to jump in parachutes. His latest victim is Lebanese TV Presenter Nishan who totally lost it and start beating the guy next to him. To be honest, this is a sick joke and he’s gone too far this time, and the fact that the plane is actually in the air makes things even worse.
It’s like this guy is waiting for something terribly wrong to happen before he stops. He has already tricked in previous year Haifa Wehbe, Maya Diab and Cyrine Abdel Nour but this prank is the worst ever.
Anthony Bourdain is a popular American chef and author. He used to host the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” and “The Layover” before joining CNN in 2013 to host “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”. I love Bourdain’s shows, his take on a country’s cuisine and culture and how he visits the most random and “undesirable” places and makes them look awesome. To Bourdain, “meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating. The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself”, and he’s absolutely right.
I couldn’t find the full episode online yet but I noticed on Facebook that a lot of people didn’t like it and claimed that Bourdain focused too much on religious and political issues rather than focus on the food and culture. Many stated that the episode wasn’t representative of Beirut and Lebanon as a whole, which is quite surprising to be honest, specially after his 2006 Beirut episode which I enjoyed a lot.
I will watch the whole episode as soon as it’s available and update the post with my take on it. If anyone has seen it yesterday, please do share your comments.
Two videos were leaked today showing security forces beating and torturing Roumieh inmates. The incident took place when the ISF raided the prison back in April to quell inmate riots. In one video, two officers are seen beating two half-naked prisoners on their knees with their hands tied behind their backs. Needless to say, nothing justifies beating and torturing prisoners no matter what they’ve done and these officers should be arrested and reprimanded.
Unfortunately, torture is still quite common in Lebanese prisons as around 60% of prisoners are tortured according to a report issued by the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) last year. The same report stated that 52% of women arrested by the Lebanese authorities in 2013 and 2014 were subjected to severe torture.
I shared the above picture yesterday but I decided to take down the post and wait for the ISF’s clarification. They did end up tweeting around midnight that they couldn’t verify the picture or the motorist, and then they shared a picture of another motorist standing on his bike during a rehearsal for a military parade and that roads were exceptionally closed for these rehearsals.
The sure thing is that the policeman in the original photo is on the highway not a closed road, but I still can’t confirm if the picture is fake or not but it does look real and I even googled it and got no other hits. I even asked the guy who first shared it if he took the picture or not but he didn’t answer yet. I hope they investigate this further because there’s absolutely no way to justify a policeman standing on his bike on the highway, unless it was all closed but if that’s the case who took the picture?
On another note, I’m glad that the ISF is listening and engaging with the online community.
Update: The ISF is now saying it’s an old picture.
I stumbled upon this amazing list of hidden beaches and waterfalls that you can visit in Lebanon and I thought I’d share it with you guys. Summer is here, even though it rained a bit today, and it’s the best time to go on road trips with your friends and family and discover these hidden gems instead of heading to the same old commercial beach resorts and sit by the pool all day. The best part about this list is that most of these places are for free.
Some of the places and activities mentioned include:
1- Kite surfing or renting a voilier at Eau Glacée
2- Snorkeling in Anfeh… with big turtles
3- Caving & Cliff- jumping in Amchit
4- Picnic & Jumping the falls of Sir Jbeil
5- Swimming or rowing your boat down the Chouwen river
6- Swimming in Mokhtara, berkit el 3arous
You can check out the full list with tons of awesome pictures [Here].
I always knew Steve Kerr was born in Beirut, ever since he won back to back championships with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Kerr was the son of Malcom Kerr, a former president of the American University of Beirut in Beirut who was murdered by a terrorist back in 1984. Steve Kerr spent much of his childhood in Lebanon and Cairo before moving back to the US. He became the head coach of the Golden State Warriors this year and won the NBA title after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals. That was a major achievement for Kerr and the Warriors as their last NBA title was back in 1975!
Moreover, that makes Steve Kerr the first Lebanese-born coach to win an NBA title, and what’s even more interesting is that the Cavs’ head coach David Blatt also has Middle Eastern origins, as he’s a dual American-Israeli citizen and a former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier. He was being cheered by Israelis and he even addressed them after his loss stating that “When I got seven million people waking up and then feeling bad all day because we didn’t win, you know that’s a heck of a thing to carry around all day.”
I’m quite surprised no one turned Kerr’s win into a victory over Israel yet but it will come. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve always admired Kerr as a player and as a coach and it doesn’t hurt to point out he was born in Beirut. He’s a great coach and he totally deserved to win the title this year!
Here’s one of the most memorable moments in Kerr’s career, where Michael Jordan passed him the ball in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in 1997.
Back when bombings were unfortunately common in Beirut, I jokingly told my friend once that I’m more worried about dog poop than car bombs in Achrafieh. They are everywhere and you can’t walk around anywhere without looking down and making sure you are not stepping on dog poop. It’s gross and disgusting and Achrafieh residents are mostly to blame for that, specially those who are too disgusted to pick up their dog’s poop but don’t mind polluting the street and their neighborhood.
I’m glad Achrafieh2020 and Sukleen have teamed up to clean Achrafieh streets from dog poop and I love their slogan but I doubt that it will change anything. I honestly believe people who don’t pick up their dog’s poop should be fined just like everywhere else in the world, or even better, someone should track them down pick up their dog’s poop and put it on their front door.
Until then, let’s support this campaign by reporting any poop spotted on the streets, and let’s hope it will be followed by an awareness campaign aimed at dog owners.
Whenever clashes renew between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh, all the TVs rush to cover the fights, interview locals and politicians and host talk shows to discuss the clashes and their repercussions, but no one ever bothered investigating the roots of these clashes which date back to the 1970s and the reason why there’s so much hatred between these two communities. All the media is too busy hosting stupid and pointless talk shows and inviting clueless people to analyze the situation, while innocent young men and women from Jabal Mohsen and Bab el Tebbaneh are dying because of these same rotten politicians and so-called religions leaders.
These two communities don’t hate each other, they’re just paying the price of poverty and corruption, and we’ve seen how things got back to normal in no time a year ago once a political agreement was reached and the heads of armed gangs were “allowed to run away”, even though these people should have been arrested in my opinion. We are all glad that violence has stopped between the residents of the two neightbourhoods, at least for now, but we need initiatives to bring these people together, to break these sectarian lines set by politicians and to unite young men and women from both sides and this is what MARCH Lebanon did.
MARCH brought together for the first time in recent history “young men and women from the opposite sides of the front line to create and prepare for a comedy play inspired by their lives”. The same people who were engaged in street violence, sat down, talk to each other and “created a play that highlights their new-found friendships risen from the ashes of years of fear and intolerance towards each other”, a play that proved to be “a lesson in citizenship, friendship and tolerance and in the power of art”, as stated by Joumana Haddad.
Love and war on a rooftop is a major achievement for MARCH Lebanon and an inspiring story for all of us Lebanese. It shows that we can break barriers between different sects and communities in the easiest way possible, and that these divisions are only in our heads. We need more initiatives to bring the young generations together, to show them that our differences should only make us better and stronger, and that unity is so easily achievable by the easiest of ways. Even if that’s just a play, the mere fact that these young people worked hand in hand to make this play happen has already changed the perception they have of each other and helped break many barriers.
Thumbs up to MARCH Lebanon, to Lucien Bou Rjeily who wrote and directed the play, and to these inspiring young actors from Jabal Mohsen and Bab el Tebbenah. For those who missed the play, there’s a documentary that is coming out soon and I’ll definitely be sharing it on the blog.