#BlogWaladi: Celebrating Baby Brian’s First Easter

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Easter is the one of the most colorful and festive holidays and we are celebrating Brian’s first Easter this year. Even though there aren’t that many age-appropriate activities for a 9-month old baby, we made sure his first Easter is a fun and memorable one.

Dressing Him Up:
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It is very common for children to dress up for Palm Sunday and Easter. I am not aware of any dress code related to these holidays but we got Brian formal clothes for Palm Sunday and a bright spring outfit for Easter Sunday. Shopping for baby clothes is probably the only kind of shopping I actually enjoy.

Egg Coloring, Bunnies and an Easter tree
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Since it’s Brian first Easter, I tried to look this year for original egg coloring in malls, supermarkets and gift shops but I couldn’t find anything except for these same old boring coloring bags and stickers. Needless to say, it is always recommended to dye naturally your Easter eggs and there are many ways to do so but they’re time-consuming. I ended up doing Ombre Easter eggs and they turned out to be ok. I will make sure I’m better prepared next year.

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easter1 My wife also did a really nice Easter table with a colorful Easter tree in the middle

easter2 Brian’s Easter craft

Fun day out
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Since Brian didn’t start walking yet, an egg hunt was out of the question so we simply took him out to a park, got him eggs, bunnies and an Easter basket and snapped few candid shots while he was enjoying his time.

Happy Easter to all!

Beirut’s Raouché Rock Lit Up with Lebanese & Belgian Flags

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The Raouché rock in Beirut was lit up with the Lebanese and Belgian flags, in solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attacks that hit Brussels few days ago. Beirut’s Pigeon Rock was also illuminated to condemn terrorist attacks back in November 2015 following the Burj el Brajneh and Paris attacks.

Now we’ll never hear the end of it. Why Belgium and Paris and not Egypt or Ankara? Or Baghdad? In fact right now we have a repeat of what happened back in November 2015 whereas media is talking about the Ankara attacks that took place before Brussels and were barely mentioned in the news. There’s also the horrible suicide bombing that took place in Baghdad yesterday inside at a football match and killed at least 30 people.

I don’t want to get into this debate because it’s a useless one. Some argue that bombs have become the norm in our region while they have yet to become the norm in the West, while others insist that global media gives more importance to the West but what matters to me is that terrorism is on the rise, innocent people are getting killed and we are not doing enough to combat extremism.

Sagesse (Hekmeh) Players Went on Strike Over Non-Payment of Salary

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I was told by a friend who’s a loyal Sagesse fan that the players have stopped going to practice since Thursday until they get paid. Hekmeh players only got paid once this entire season and the team apparently still owes some players money from last year. The team is currently in 7th position and has lost 7 of its last 9 games.

Hekmeh’s nightmare season doesn’t seem to be getting any better, despite winning the Dubai international basketball tournament earlier this year. The real blame is on the previous management but the newly elected management knew what they were getting into and should have managed things better. A friend told me that sponsors did not pay yet their dues but that’s not something the player should be worried about. How can any team expect his players to perform well if they aren’t getting paid all season long?

Unfortunately, Riyadi is probably the only team that pays his players and staff on time, which means that we have a serious problem in the league, a problem that no one wishes to tackle. Instead of spending millions of dollars on foreign players and leaving the Lebanese players/staff and the team broke, the teams should have a solid financial plan over 3-years at least and properly manage their budget every year. That’s one the many reasons I was against that stupid 3-foreigners rule and things will only get worse now for Lebanese players and the teams.

I’ve always loved and supported Sagesse, even when Ghassan Sarkis was their coach, and it’s truly painful to see them go through such a phase, especially after everything President Choueiry has done to help Sagesse reach an international level and win Arab and Asian cup titles. More importantly, Sagesse fans are among the most loyal and dedicated fans and they deserve better than that.

All in all, there are two major problems in Lebanon’s basketball and they are not going away anytime soon with the current federation and team officials:
– The intervention of politics and religion in the sports, which was perfectly documented by Rayanne Moussallem two years ago.
– The incompetence of most Lebanese Basketball officials, which is mainly due to the intervention of politics and religion, add to that wide-spread corruption.

The White Face Of Lebanon: A Video That Sums Up This Year’s Gorgeous Winter Season

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We’ve seen Lebanon’s natural beauty through the eyes of Lebanese water skiing champion Silvio Chiha during summer and now here’s another stunning video that perfectly sums up this year’s winter season. I took few screenshots from the video but I recommend that you watch the whole thing in HD. It’s totally worth it!

The video was produced by my talented friend Charbel Bouez (Charbel Bouez Visual Communication) and directed by Ed Yazbeck (Athlete Management: Sportscode).

The White Face Of Lebanon -Silvio Chiha

We have lost a lot, but it is everyone's duty to preserve the resources we still have. From wherever you are, help us share what we love the most about our country. Hoping it will make you DREAM, BELIEVE AND CATER FOR A BETTER FUTURE, FOR A BETTER LEBANON. #lebanonthroughmyeyes"The White Face Of Lebanon”Produced by Charbel Bouez Visual CommunicationDirected by Ed YazbeckAthlete Management Sportscode

Posted by Silvio Chiha on Thursday, March 24, 2016

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Lebanese Finally Agree On Something: Thank you Ahlam!

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I’ve been reading for the past half hour the replies to Ahlam following her ill-mannered tweets against the Lebanese media and people and I can’t stop laughing! That’s not the first time she insults Lebanese and she totally deserves this bashing.

For those who aren’t aware of what happened, one of A7lam’s fan, also known as Halloumi (Halloumiyeen bil jame3) tweeted at Adel Karam after he mocked the Emirate “singer”, so she retweeted it and insulted the Lebanese media by saying:

“This is a video for the beggars in the Lebanese media who have insulted their queen. A poem from my country responding to them.”

Then she replied to another post and said:

“I’m telling the beggars so they won’t keep on talking about their mistress and queen. Let them prove they love their country and pick up the garbage from their streets.”

I love how all the Lebanese online agreed on bashing her together. The hashtag #منع_احلام_من_دخول_لبنان has been viral for two days now. What’s also surprising is that Adel’s video on A7lam was funny, check it out:

عادل كرم يسخر من "الملكة" أحلام !#هيدا_حكي

Posted by ‎Neswa cafe نسوة كافيه‎ on Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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With or Against Cancelling The Brevet Official Exams in Lebanon?

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MPs Serge Torsarkissian and Nadim Gemayel submitted last week a law draft to cancel the Brevet official exams. Their argument is that the certificate no longer matches the development pace of the curriculum in Lebanese schools. I am for cancelling the Brevet exams as long as they are replaced by another type of exam or middle-year programs.

However, the real problem in Lebanon is not with the exam itself but with the widespread cheating during officials exams. When I was presenting my Brevet, I gave everyone in the classroom my answers and took some guy’s paper and did it for him because the instructor “kindly” asked me to. I’m not proud of what I did but I was forced to and we all knew that it was ok to cheat. We weren’t even scared that we’d get caught in the process and I’m sure things have only gotten worse ever since.

This “open-cheating” syndrome is the real problem in our educational system and should have been the primary concern of Lebanese schools and our Education Minister. It is important to understand what motivates students to be dishonest and to punish harshly teachers that encourage them to cheat and commit unethical acts.

Who Doesn’t Want a Better Internet in Lebanon?

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internet Speedtest on a 4MB DSL Ogero connection in Beirut

The Lebanese government has been busy investigating illegal internet companies for the past couple of weeks. We are talking about large communication devices and towers installed in several areas across Lebanon and a 40GB per second bandwith bought from Turkey and Cyprus and equivalent to 1/3 of the bandwith set by the Telecom ministry. The worst part is that a lot of sensitive official departments were using these free internet services and therefore compromising our security.

One of the areas where illegal internet equipment was found is al-Zaarour resort, which is owned by Murr. However those in charge of the resort and MTV (also owned by Murr) have been attacking Ogero, LBCI and Al Jadeed for the past week over these claims and stating that there’s nothing illegal there, and they may be right based on what I’ve heard and read.

Needless to say, we are all against illegal internet networks but there are bigger questions that need to be asked at the moment: Who doesn’t want a better internet in Lebanon? Where do we stand from the 2020 plan? Who’s responsible for the delay?

I keep hearing people blaming Ogero and Abdel Menhem Youssef on the internet slowness and they are right to do so but Ogero is not the only one to blame. Blaming Ogero for the internet slowness is like blaming Sukleen for not recycling enough. The real problem is that the parties that are behind Sukleen don’t believe in recycling in the first place and don’t see the point from doing so, and similarly those covering for Ogero and most of the people that covered for Youssef over the past decade (or even stood against him) don’t understand that a cheaper and faster internet is better for everyone and will bring them more money (since that’s all they care about).

Deploying fiber optics in a fancy street in Solidere or equipping Beirut Digital District offices with the fastest internet is not what we’re after. Internet should be free, abundant and fast for Lebanon to become a tech hub and we should put more focus on schools, universities, households and more importantly areas outside Beirut. The only fast and reliable connections nowadays are the 3G and 4G mobile data plans (4G+ coming soon) but they are relatively expensive and the quotas are ridiculous.

via Executive-Magazine

What can we do?
Assuming that most of the Lebanese people agree that we need a faster and more abundant internet, we should keep asking for a better internet through social media channels and other online methods. The internet problem is as important as the garbage problem, whether you like to admit it or not, because technology has a huge impact on every country’s development and falling behind will cost us dearly in the future. We must question Ogero, the Telecom Minister and the government and push them to improve the internet at all cost. Even if our demands will probably fall on deaf ears, we should keep this topic alive at all time.

As far as the TVs and media are concerned, most of them, except for Executive-Magazine, don’t seem to understand the importance of having a better internet yet unfortunately and this is reflected in most of the news reports and talk shows that tackle the internet situation in Lebanon. Yesterday, MTV had a special episode with Walid Abboud on the illegal networks and the internet as a whole and it was extremely disappointing. Walid’s guests talked about everything except the imminent need of a proper internet connection for the sake of our country and the future generations. They turned the topic into a religious (and sectarian) one and one of the guests wouldn’t stop talking (more like yelling) about Christian rights and Christian representation and it made no sense.

What we need are responsible and knowledgeable hosts that are willing (and able) to tackle this internet problem and send out the right message to politicians and concerned parties. The last thing we want to see on these shows are corrupt parties and individuals accusing other corrupt parties of corruption and theft, or hosts praising ministers and MPs for a small and pointless achievement while the country is in ruins.

All in all, we will have over 3 million internet users in Lebanon by 2017, Lebanon has the 4th highest internet penetration in the region and we still cannot get a proper 2MB DSL connection outside Beirut, and sometimes even in Beirut. This is embarrassing and unacceptable especially when the solution is out there and only needs a political decision.

The CityMall Parking Rage Video Is Fake

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For those asking me about what happened at CityMall yesterday, the parking rage video that Yasa shared is fake and did not even take place in Lebanon (probably in Brazil). The parking lot doesn’t look like CityMall, the car plates don’t look Lebanese and the video is at least 2 years old.

Yasa should remove that video or at least clarify that it’s not in Lebanon. On another note, why is the guy filming the whole thing holding his camera the wrong way? Unacceptable 😛

City Mall Parking Space Ragewww.yasa.org

Posted by YASA For Road Safety on Wednesday, March 23, 2016


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Cancerous Wheat: Lebanon’s Food Safety Scandal Refuses To Go Away

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Health Minister Wael Abu Faour first states that wheat entering Lebanon failed to match safety standards, and that few samples contain cancer-causing substances, then Economy Ministry Alain Hakim comes out and says that the results Abu Faour are inaccurate and that the wheat is safe. Minister Abu Faour replies back that the Economy ministry’s testing methods were “outdated and could no longer be relied on”, before Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb intervened and reconciled both parties. They later on agreed to develop an action plan that ensures the safety and quality of wheat entering Lebanon.

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It’s good to see ministers work together in health-related issues , but what happened to the cancerous wheat units that were found by Minister Abu Faour? If he’s confident that some of the samples did not comply with safety measures, then where are they and why weren’t they confiscated? How will referring the wheat file to the General Prosecutions going to stop people from getting poisoned by this rotten wheat? Is Minister Abu Faour’s food safety campaign working or not?

Personally speaking, I don’t think Lebanon’s food safety scandal will end anytime soon because the way it’s being handled is wrong. The real problem has always been slaughterhouses and food storage yet what’s happening now is far worse as there are more and more violating restaurants (Dkekeen) opening and there’s no control over them anymore because the follow up process is not clear and the standards are not well defined.

All in all, the wheat scandal will be forgotten soon just like other scandals but the cancerous wheat is still in the market and Lebanese citizens are the only victims.

Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice [2016]

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Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman? We all went to see Batman v Superman to witness the ultimate showdown between two of the most beloved superheros and the movie turned out to be even better than I expected it to be. The movie is very dark, Ben Affleck played Batman and Bruce Wayne superbly and he’s the best Batman we’ve seen in years, Eisenberg was absolutely brilliant as Lex Luthor, Cavill’s performance as Superman was pretty much the same as his performance in Man of Steel and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was a hit and her role, even though trivial to the plot, had a huge impact.

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The action scenes were breathtaking and intense, the fight scenes between between Superman and Batman are unreal and much better than the trailer, the graphics were great (except for one lousy CGI scene), the plot is well written, the story is emotion and action-packed and will engage you from beginning to end. Also, DC comics and superheroes fans are in for a lot of surprises, especially in the final scene. If I were to compare BvS to other DC Comics movies, I would say it’s a huge step from Man of Steel but not as good as “The Dark Knight”.

Batman v Superman is a 2 and a half hours movie but it didn’t feel that long honestly. It’s a masterpiece and I would definitely watch it again. It starts showing tomorrow in Lebanese theaters.

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Rating: 4.5/5