Homeland (TV Series) Got What They Deserved

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homeland via The Guardian

Street artists were apparently approached to add authenticity to the Homeland TV Series set somewhere in Berlin to make it look like a refugee camp on the Syrian-Lebanese border, but they did more than that and planted subversive messages in Arabic like “Homeland is racist”, “Homeland is not a show” and “Homeland is watermelon” to protest the show’s stereotyped portrayal of the Arab world. The Arabic quotes were not checked by the producers and were visible in the second episode of the fifth season, which aired earlier this week.

Here’s what the artists said in a joint statement:

“For four seasons, and entering its fifth, ‘Homeland’ has maintained the dichotomy of the photogenic, mainly white, mostly American protector versus the evil and backwards Muslim threat,” the artists Heba Amin, Caram Kapp, and Stone wrote in a joint statement published Wednesday.

home1 via The Guardian

Three years ago, the Lebanese Government wanted to sue Homeland for misrepresenting Hamra in Beirut and showing armed men roaming in it.

Hamra street according to Homeland

Doomsday Seeds Transferred From Syria To The Bekaa In Lebanon

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norway The Global Seed Vault in Svalbard in Norway

This is quite an incredible story. Apparently things have become so bad in Syria that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has sounded the doomsday alarm and made an extraordinary request in early September to remove thousands of samples and transfer them to a vault in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley. The aim is to preserve Syria’s unique agricultural heritage after ICARDA’s gene bank in Aleppo, which includes more than 135,000 varieties of wheat, fava bean, lentil and chickpea crops, as well as the world’s most valuable barley collection, has been damaged by the war.

What is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault?

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in northern Norway, something of an agricultural Noah’s Ark, was set up as a guarantee against mass starvation. The world’s governments poured in their countries’ seed samples – unique strains of every crop – and the doors were closed in 2008, when no one expected them to be opened for many generations. It has more than 860,000 samples, from almost all nations. Even if the power were to fail, the vault would stay frozen and sealed for at least 200 years. The vault is meant to be opened only in the event of a catastrophic event, like flooding or drought, that would threaten a crop with extinction, according to Brian Lainoff, a spokesman for the Crop Trust, one of the vault’s international stewards.

ICARDA’s gene bank in Aleppo, Syria, includes more than 135,000 varieties of wheat, fava bean, lentil and chickpea crops, as well as the world’s most valuable barley collection.

Let’s just hope things will remain calm in the Bekaa.


Sources: [CNN] [Independent] [Jazeera]

Lebanese Passport Among The Ten Worst Passports For Travel

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The 2015 Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index is out and Lebanon was ranked 101 out of 109 along with Congo, Iran, Liberia and Libya. The report ranks countries in terms of freedom of travel and visa restrictions and the Lebanese passport allows you to visit only 37 countries without a visa versus 114 countries for UAE passport holders. UAE is the best ranked regionally in 40th spot, followed by Kuwait and Qatar in 63rd and 66th position, Oman and KSA in 72nd and 74th spot.

If we look back at the 2013 report, Lebanese passport holders had access to 44 visa free countries while we only can travel without a visa to 37 countries now. On a positive note, MTV reported that tourism improved by 25% in Lebanon when compared to the previous year and tourist expenditure is on the rise as well.

The Cheesecake Factory Is Finally Opening In Lebanon

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The Cheesecake Factory will not open at CityCentre Beirut as it was expected and announced. Instead, it’s opening soon in Verdun and they are already recruiting. I tried The Cheesecake Factory for the first time when I was in Dubai 3 months ago and it was really good! It took me half an hour to order though because their menu is huge but it’s totally worth it and the portions were huge.

cheese cake

I don’t have an exact opening date for Verdun but since they are recruiting it should be very soon.

Even though The Cheesecake Factory did not open at City Centre Beirut, you can find selected cheesecakes from the place at Vox Gold theaters

Lebanon Wins the World Cup

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A movie about war and football and the power of forgiveness. I loved the trailer and I think this should be made into a proper film not just a short one. The release date was apparently yesterday in Poland but I’m not sure where and when it will released in Lebanon. I also checked the BIFF screening schedule and it’s not on the list.

If anyone has further info regarding this movie’s release date, please let me know.

Beirut, on the eve of the 2014 Fifa World Cup, two battle hardened veterans – a Christian and a Muslim – who fought each other in the Lebanese civil war prepare to support their favorite team Brazil. More than just a celebration, the tournament will offer them a chance to unite around a game despite all that has gone wrong.

Lebanon Wins the World Cup – Official Trailer from Tony H. Khoury on Vimeo.

Five Protesters, Including Pierre Hashash, Are Still In Prison

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prisoners via #YouStink FB Page

More than 30 civil society activists and protesters were arrested last Thursday following the violent protests, out of which 11 were questioned by The Military Tribunal yesterday for several charges including: assaulting police, vandalizing public and private property and rioting. Six of them were freed yesterday while five remain in prison (Waref Suleiman, Pierre Hashash, Hussein Ibrahim, Fayez Yassine and Rami Mahfouz).

Even if some of these charges are valid (under the Lebanese law) and some of these protesters did get violent and damaged public properties, I don’t think it’s just or fair to arrest any of them without holding other parties accountable. People have been protesting for 4 months now and police (and army at some point) violence has been documented almost every time yet no measures were taken against any of the security officers. Moreover, why weren’t any of the infiltrators arrested? Why weren’t certain riot police members who beat up innocent civilians and journalists held accountable? What about those who beat up the activists that were on an open hunger strike? What about the reckless arrests and interrogations in prison? Where’s the investigation that we were promised? What about armed thugs and terrorists still roaming our streets freely?

The duty of the ISF is “to protect democracy, the government premises and public properties” and more importantly protect the people. These protesters should not pay the price simply because they don’t have a proper political cover and should be freed the soonest.

Meanwhile, garbage is still piling up all over Lebanon.


None Of The #MissLebanon Contestants Asked For Better Women Rights

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Miss Lebanon contestants were asked this year to choose a cause for which they’d be willing to go down and demonstrate, and shockingly enough, none of us chose women rights. Most of them chose the garbage issue, one wants to elect a president and another one wants to abolish political sectarianism in Lebanon (right after achieving world peace).

I never expect anything from Miss Lebanon but I think it’s quite sad that none of the contestants brought this issue up. Lebanese women are still treated as second-class citizens and are still victims of abuse and domestic violence. The Lebanese law offers them no protection and doesn’t allow them to pass the nationality to their children among other things.

Valerie Abou Chacra is the new Miss Lebanon 2015 by the way. She’s a cute miss :)

A Pink Burger To Spread Awareness On Breast Cancer

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Duo Resto launched a “Pink Burger” during October to help spread awareness on breast cancer, and 1500LL will be donated to Faire Face Cancer Association with every Pink Burger order. I like the campaign but I’m not very comfortable with the idea of associating burgers (and fries) with a cancer campaign. I think they should have come up with a healthy “disease-fighting” burger like this one.

Personally speaking, I would never try it as I hate beetroot. Speaking of weird burgers, Roadster Diner unveiled the Black Burger earlier this year.