What’s Worse Than Lebanon’s Lawmakers Stealing Our Right To Vote

June 20th, 2017. Save the date, for it will be the time Lebanon’s current parliament extends its mandate for the third time in a row. Some people like the taste of power. Those who like power in Lebanon can’t get enough of it.

Apart from the ramifications of the extension, many of which you will probably be hearing about until elections happen in who-knows-when, here are a few observations about myself amidst this political fuckery:

  • I’m a soon-to-be 25 year old who, according to our laws and regulations, is basically equipped with full legal responsibilities and whatnot, but I’ve never – ever – voted for anything, and by the looks of it will never do.

Contrast this with my American cousins whose ages range from 20 to 26 and who have voted at least twice so far in the past 2 years alone, the last of which was yesterday. Those Americans… they fight ISIS here, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and they still manage to hold elections every other two years. Teach our politicians, why don’t you?

  • By extending its mandate till 2017, Lebanon’s lawmakers have made sure that I, along with a substantial portion of Lebanon’s youth, will never – ever – get to have a say in who becomes a parliament member.

I will immigrate and be out of the country by 2016. Ironically, I will most likely be attending (but sadly not participating) in the American presidential elections that year, but at least I’ll be able to say that the past 6 years, in which I should have witnessed, in theory, a presidential election, two parliamentary elections and municipality elections, haven’t been election-less, although I have witnessed the Syrian presidential elections on my territory; I guess the situation wasn’t bad enough for that not to happen.

Most of the people I know are against parliament’s mandate extension, and so am I. But somehow, after thinking about this for about the fifteen minutes that it deserves amidst this country’s sewage-like level of politics, I realized that the bigger travesty of this parliament’s extension is that our MPs, or all 95 of them who attended, were so full of themselves that they didn’t see anything wrong with extending their mandate for an extra two years and seven months.

The biggest and sadder travesty that occurred today is also the fact that those same parliament members who have failed to ensure quorum since that first round of presidential elections way back when, have found quorum for the sole purpose of ensuring they can fail to gather quorum for the next two years and seven months, while getting fully paid for their lack of services.

The saddest aspect of today is that there are still Lebanese out there who can’t think for themselves and who think that their politicians of choice were correct in voting the way they voted today or in not attending today’s session, as if those voting for the extension did so unpredictably and those who didn’t attend, while being in the government and making sure none of the regulations needed to make sure parliamentary elections take place are passed, have also effectively supported the extension from the get-go and were searching for the best way to go around mass Lebanese (Christians mainly) scrutiny.

Ironically fitting for Mr. Bassil and his party's MPs to "want to fight the power from inside," don't you think?

Ironically fitting for Mr. Bassil and his party’s MPs to “want to fight the power from inside,” don’t you think?

Today has also revealed exactly how silly, stupid, ridiculous and retarded this whole debacle is with the realization that there are Lebanese people who will actually be voting for parliament members in Kuwait on November 7th (this Friday) and in Sydney, Australia on November 9th (this Sunday) because, as of now, we are all still voters who are supposed to vote for parliament soon, pending the publication of today’s decision in the Official Gazette. What will the votes of those Lebanese amount to? The answer is exactly the same as all our votes: toilet paper for our MP’s behinds.

IMG_8187

But I digress. There are, believe it or not, worse things taking place today thanks to those very lawmakers that should be noted, especially today:

1 – Presidential Elections:

Get this: 97 MPs gathered in parliament today, making up more than 2/3 majority required to vote on major bills, in order to extend their mandate. Those MPs voted 95-2 on the bill in question. However, for the past 6 months, those same MPs have not only failed to gather quorum for presidential electives, many of them have actively campaigned against ensuring such a quorum. By ensuring no president is elected, those MPs have made a nice bundled argument for themselves on the necessity of another mandate extension is required to avoid that dreaded void. If you think about it, it’s a nice little Lebanese catch 22. It’s not that they’re too smart; it’s that they’ve become so accustomed at fooling everyone that they make it seem like what they do is for the best of the Lebanese population they’re busy screwing over day in, day out.

It’s okay, though, who needs a president anyway.

2 – Elections Law

When those 128MPs got to power in 2009, they all agreed that a new electoral law was a necessity to be done in those 4 years during which they would serve their country and citizens. The reality was a vacation for the first two years, a wake up call on year 3, a few months of hectic sprints in year 4, jumping from one absurd law to another more absurd law (you do remember the Orthodox proposal, of course, however long ago that seems right now) until they realized that the whole issue was too tiring and decided to postpone for themselves the first time, saying that they will use those extended 18 months to work on a new law.

How many hours have those MPs spent in those 18 months working on a new electoral law? Approximately 0.

In fact, not only is the lack of an electoral law after more than five and a half years a tragedy, but any electoral law that will arise from this parliament in question will be tailor-made to please everyone and, effectively, keep the status quo as is. Do you really think they’d agree to what’s fair if fairness meant they’d be kicked out of Nejmeh Square?

3 – What If Elections Happened On November 16th?

Let’s assume, however, that our parliament decided that the democratic process was, contrary to actuality, important. Let’s assume that they swallowed their overgrown prides and decided to campaign for our votes in about 11 days and try out for the Guinness World Record for shortest election delay ever. Now that’s something we can teach those Americans. Let me give you an example of the broad array of candidates that I could have voted for in Batroun:

2014

2014

 

The names sound familiar? That’s because you know them all. Gebran Bassil (name #2) is THE Gebran Bassil. Boutros Harb (name #4) is my current MP and the minister of telecom. Antoine Zahra (last name) is the LF-go-to-spokesperson for fiery speeches and my other MP.

Now contrast the above list with that of those who were running for elections before parliament underwent its first extension in June 2013:

2013

2013

I would advise a game of “spot the difference,” but it’d be essentially futile as there are basically none. If elections were to happen on November 16th, our tax money would be spent to make sure that those same MPs, across all Lebanese districts, get not a two year and seven months mandate that is illegal, but a four year mandate that is legal. It’s not just because they made sure we vote based on a law that preferred them, but because we are left without a choice and because the bulk of those who vote, as in the people that exist outside of Twitter and Facebook (they exist!), do not vote the same way we do. And, because who the hell are we kidding, many of us as well would vote for the same people again, just because of familiarity.

4 – They’re Working Overtime

So what has our parliament done in the 18 months of its first extension? They worked of course. Overtime. They worked to ensure that a president is not elected (read point #1). They worked to make sure that the workers’ benefits and whatnot are not voted on, that a quorum is never reached. They worked overtime to make sure that Lebanese students who presented their official exams this year never get results and end up with certificates of passing, the tales of which our parents had told us back when they were going through school during the times of the Civil War.

They worked overtime to make sure a proper bill protecting women from domestic abuse isn’t passed. What we got instead was a maimed piece of legislation, aimed to please this religious leader or that, but still managing to keep our women under the thumbs of their husbands or partners.

They worked overtime not to work on an electoral law, not to legislate a stance from the Syrian war, not to basically do anything except get paid for doing no work in overtime.

5 – The Divide Is Christian/Muslim, not M14/M8

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the past several months on the Lebanese scene is the fact that the game has changed from being a March 14 versus a March 8 game, to becoming full blown Christian blocs versus Muslim blocs over the essential issues in the country, at a time when the Christian-Muslim divide, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is at an all time high.

As Ramez Dagher, on his blog Moulahazat, put it:

What is scary here isn’t that Lebanese politicians lie and steal and deceive and postpone elections. That, we already know. What is truly scary here is that 25 years after Taef, we are starting to witness an obvious rapprochement between the Christian parties while a rivalry between the Muslim blocs and the major Christian ones is becoming more apparent by the day. Every time there’s an important law debated in parliament – Such as the electoral law or the extension law – the rift is yet again Christian/Muslim instead of M8/M14: 10 years after the creation of these alliances , it seems that they were more based on an electoral than ideological ground.

If there was one beautiful thing about the March 8 and 14 alliances, it was that they were religiously diverse. And now – with ISIS on our gates and with vacancy and dysfunction everywhere in the political establishment – is literally the worst time to lose that.

Conclusion:

Too long, didn’t read – the summary to you is as follows: Living in Lebanon is living in shit, but at least we have the biggest platter of hummus, fattouch, lemonade cup, biggest burger, longest falafel sandwich and we’ve officially wed George Clooney to one of our daughters. You’re welcome for the realization.

Can We Get Over MTV’s “Digital” Drugs?

binaural beats mtv digital drugs

Because there’s absolutely nothing newsworthy reporting in Lebanon. Because everything is peachy, happy go lucky, the birds are chirping, the economy is booming, the tourists are coming in droves. Because our news services, notably MTV, have so much air time and so little things to report about, they decide to come up with absolute horseshit to get the Lebanese public into yet another state of panic.

The latest fad: Jdid, jdid… MTV…. Digital drugs.

I saw the headlines a couple of days ago. It sounded exactly like those Upworthy Facebook links you never bother to check. I didn’t click. Then the news kept on growing, and people kept on talking, and parents kept on panicking and I’m sure the news service that “uncovered” such an abomination is proud of itself for leading the viral mania.
A quick google search shows you that such a topic has existed since 2012, but never gained traction. I wonder why that could be.

I figured 7 years of medical school, including heavy duty courses in addiction that cover substances ranging from caffeine to hardcore drugs, including psychiatry clerkships where my colleagues and I never encountered such addicts, were not enough. I’ve seen alcoholics. I’ve seen heroin addicts. I’ve seen people who smoke marijuana by the kilos. But I had never, ever, seen someone addicted to something digital, in the cloud, to an MP3 file.

So I decided to learn, because that’s what science and medicine are: an ever-evolving field where stagnation even if with immense knowledge means you fall behind quite easily, so I hit up my favorite scientific databases. How nerdy.

I tried all different combinations of “binaural beats” and “hallucination.” No results.

I tried “binaural beats,” and “addiction.” Zilch.

But here’s what binaural beats do:

  • They were discovered in 1893, which makes them ancient, and are commonly used in meditation practices.
  • They consist of two tones at slightly different frequencies (get on your high school physics stat), presented separately to the left and right ears, and are perceived by the listener as a single tone. The end result is a perceptual phenomenon known as the binaural auditory beat (get on your high school philosophy perception notes pronto).
  • Scientific research on them has shown that they can affect psychomotor performance and mood, but nothing exists yet on their hallucinogenic effect.
  • There are plenty of things out there that could cause sensations of relief, elation, happiness, affect a person’s psychomotor performance and whatnot. Your favorite songs can make you feel happy. Making love to your partner can affect your mood. Eating chocolate can relieve stress. Practicing yoga has been shown to have tangible effects on the brain.

    There are also plenty of things that haven’t been banned that can cause hallucinations. Many medications that we give at hospitals have such a thing as their side effect. If you lock someone in a room alone for a period of time, they will end up having hallucinations. All of us also get hallucinations around sleeping time. Those are called hypnagogic or hypnopompic. Perhaps they’d want to ban those too?

    What’s also been proven is the existence of a placebo effect. If you give someone a substance and tell them it should do X and Y to them, many will report having felt X and Y occurring. That substance might as well be sugar, and they wouldn’t know. Placebo studies are crucial to the introduction of any new medications to the market. They are required to assess whether that new entity you want to sell is better than what’s already out there, or better than the non-medicated form. It also means that there could be a component to those “subjective” binaural beats reports of “having their mind blown away” that doesn’t scientifically exist.

    Kudos to MTV for bypassing years and years of possible scientific research to come to conclusions that are years ahead of any possible credible scientific paper on the matter. Kudos to those experts as well, flaunting all their expertise at us, good on them for being such professionals at what they do.

    Science Journal? Meh. Nature? That’s even worse. No, MTV is the new leading reference for scientists and doctors everywhere. Now please, educate me more.

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is nothing more than what happens, every other year, when a Lebanese TV station decides to re-address satanism and its association with heavy metal. You get “experts” saying that they’ve “proven” that listen to heavy metal music causes a person to deviate from holy religious norms and worship the devils. Those people will then engage in coital activities at cemeteries and commit blasphemy against churches and mosques or whatever. Of course, it’s more often than not pure and utter shit. But people panic anyway, because that’s what media feeds upon.

    I’m not saying binaural beats should be ignored, but who the hell is MTV to decide they should be banned when scientists haven’t studied them yet or have come up to conclusions on their merits, on their hallucinogenic effects, on their effects on brain matter?

    You know MTV, instead of covering such unfounded things like this, and using your power to lend credibility to scientifically unfounded crap, why don’t you give more airtime to other facets of addiction in Lebanon that are more abundant and much, much more accessible and much more scientifically proven to mess people up? Or why don’t you give more airtime to Lebanese areas that exist beyond your “live love Lebanon, let’s bring the tourists over” mantra? Trust me, that’s where the real problems in this country lie.

    Lebanese Universities Should Stop Their Useless Stupid Elections

    Student A from party B attacked student C from party D. The headline reads as such. Substitute the letters for whichever news website you follow for your party of choice, and you’ll get the gist of what happened at NDU earlier today.

    An important aspect of the NDU fights has been, to me at least, a serious wakeup call as to how time is flying. It was university election season again, or as I like to call it dumbo open season. I daresay there isn’t a better description for that in 2014.

    The following is a video of the fight that took place at NDU today:

    And to think that it was only just last year that we had the following gem circulating:

    I don’t have pictures of people from other parties

    When I recovered from the shock that it was almost November, I couldn’t help but wonder: do these things seriously still exist? Universities still hold these things.

    In November 2014, at a time when Lebanon doesn’t have 1) a president, 2) a functional parliament, 3) upcoming parliamentary elections and 4) people with political intellect, universities are still pretending that it’s a necessity for the parties roaming their classes to express democracy.

    The fact of the matter remains that the following is correct:

    1) Student elections are irrelevant. The only purpose they used to serve is to enrich the democratic spirit within students. When those students start to bludgeon each other over useless politics, the entire purpose is defeated.

    2) Student councils that arise from these elections are, in most universities, essentially stillborn. Student movements that you hear of in universities regarding rising tuition fees rarely emanate from those councils. Based on my experience, those movements immediately manage to circumvent the limitations of said councils in order to make bigger impacts and get to what they need. It’s worth to note that USEK, which doesn’t have student elections, also managed to protest their rising tuition fees, albeit that didn’t get as much coverage as AUB because, well, AUB.

    3) I can’t believe Lebanese students, who should – in theory – be an example of educated youth wanting to better our country and, you know, all that cliche that is associated with the benefits of higher education, still believe that them voting for Geagea or Aoun is proof enough that the latter or the former command the Christian scene. I can’t believe that they still believe voting for Hezbollah is a referendum over the resistance’s weapons, or that voting for Hariri is proof on his popularity among the Sunni scene. You’re just a tool. It’s high time you see yourself as they see you.

    4) It’s sad, read depressing, that these students’ parents keep on paying hefty fees for their sons and daughters to essentially forgo their entire education for a period of a month that starts with scouting for candidates, making sure those candidates fit the required bill, going through student “pointage” to figure out who’s voting for whom. And, because that wasn’t enough, those students end up beating each other up to defend the honor of their za’im of choice. Your $20K tuition is definitely meant from broken ribs, swollen eyes and bruised prides.

    5) It’s mortifying that the students going into those fights believe that the politician they’re getting beaten up for actually gives a shit. Here’s a reality check for you: he doesn’t remotely give a rat’s ass about your sorry ass. In fact, he’s probably laughing his ass off while his henchmen write up a speech to pretend he’s coming to your rescue while his last worry in the world is you. Do those students seriously think their politicians would come to their rescue when they end up in jail because of those scenes, when their future is ruined or when they end up expelled? Guess again.

    6) In a country of no democracy, university elections are not the last vestige of the good times representing the Switzerland of the Middle East, the freedom of whatever that we had and whatnot. They’re irrelevant and, as it’s become apparently clear, dangerous.

    High profile Lebanese universities that do not have student elections are:

    • The Lebanese University
    • University of Balamand
    • USEK

    USJ is also considering canceling their elections this year. I say good riddance; USJ is the hub of yearly problems. I mean, what would Jesus say if Hezbollah won in Huvelin? Tsk tsk.

    AUB and LAU are still scheduled to hold them.

    If there’s a time to cancel university elections, it’s this year. The only thing at stake is a useless student council and political websites orgasming over them winning X or Z. Nobody cares – except the students beating each other up over it.

    Lebanese Racist Attacks Sukleen Worker For Being A Foreigner

    The news about the rising racism that foreigners in Lebanon, notably Syrians, keep on rolling.

    Earlier this morning, Anastacia Al-Hajj was doing what she basically does every morning, take her commute road to work. On her way, she’s held up by a scene involving a Lebanese man shouting at a helpless Sukleen worker, telling him to kneel. The man put his hands over the man’s shoulders and tried to force him to the ground, insulting him in all kinds of ways in the process.

    When the Sukleen worker didn’t budge, the Lebanese man animal held out a pocket knife and slashed the worker across the street. Seeing that no one was doing anything but observe, in typical Lebanese apathy to such scenarios, Anastacia went out to help the worker only to have one of the women in the nearby buildings tell her: “leave him, these foreigners all over our country, and they deserve it.”

    Why was the Lebanese man assaulting the Sukleen worker? Because the latter was cleaning in front of that man’s building, which is the building’s orderly’s job.

    Anastacia has reported the incident to Sukleen and they are investigating the matter. Of course, this will probably only amount to a few blog posts and a viral Facebook status, courtesy to the people in this country who still have an ounce of humanity left in them.

    This is the Sukleen worker after he was attacked by the Lebanese goon. The look in his eyes is heartbreaking:

    Sukleen Worker Attacked

     

    It wasn’t enough that these helpless foreigners do the jobs that many Lebanese find themselves to be too high-end to do, we now attack them when they go out of their way to keep our streets clean from all the litter we pile up, in pure animalistic fashion.

    This sheer racism against foreigners just because they are foreigners is unacceptable. The argument that these foreigners have done their share of hardships against the Lebanese population is essentially mute. How despicable do you have to be, as a human being, to attack someone whose only way to provide for his family is basically collect the garbage that other people pile up in the most disorganized of ways?

    I’m finding myself more and more lately wishing that these people, such as the animal who attacked that helpless worker and that woman who said that worker deserved to have his face cut with a pocket knife, end up with their sons and daughters and maybe even fathers and mothers abroad, working at low-end jobs to provide them with better quality of life, and have their family members being treated with the same racism that they’re treating those they deem are lesser.

    Some people deserve to live in a barn. It’s only fitting for their inner animals, all surrounded by filth, their own manure and their ego. And, ironically, some Lebanese people have become as bad as Daesh. As I said before, some people deserve Daesh.

    On A Fucked Up Lebanese Reality

    6-7-11.

    The above numbers do not constitute my iPhone passcode. They are not random, arbitrary digits I chose to start a useless blog post that will have your head rolling: yet another nagging post by this guy? Meh.

    6 is the number of civilians. 7 is the number of army men. 11 is the number of militia terrorists. These 24 people have all died in Tripoli over the past day, in the city’s heaviest clashes in many, many months. Not that you’d care. It’s understandable – deplorable, but understandable nonetheless. None of this goes hand in hand with Lebanese joie de vivre. What are we to tell the tourists?

    It started when Lebanon’s army arrested Ahmad Miqati, a well known thug and terrorist, who also happens to be the henchman of a well-known Lebanese MP whose name roughly translates to “immortal going out.” Upon his arrest, Tripoli’s dormant cell of terrorists woke up from their deep slumber. How dare they?

    Khaled Hoblos, a cleric at Haroun el Rashid mosque, then ignited their fury with a fiery Friday sermon. And the rest is undergoing present history.

    The perfect summary for today

    The perfect summary for today

    As Tripoli’s people suffered in national silence, oblivious to the bullets and missiles, Achrafieh was having another field day. It’s funny how Achrafieh’s 2020 days always take place when something fucked up around Tripoli goes. Conspiracy, perhaps?

    It does serve to show, however, exactly how divided and segregated and lala-landish some parts of Lebanon are. 80 kilometers away they may be, perhaps, but it’s an entirely different world out there. Kids playing, young adults trying to find that perfect instagram picture versus men carrying a body out of Nahr Abou Ali, taking pictures of the burned Tebbane souk as they hear bullets echo in the distance, in areas that those bullets had never visited before.

    Ironically, this seems too familiar. Around the same time last year, after I had finished watching La Vie D’Adele at the European Film Festival and, while walking home, I looked at the parties taking place in Gemmayze and Mar Mkhayel. People were alive, proving whatever point they had to prove. Tripoli and the people I knew there were tucked away in corners of their houses, convincing themselves that the following day would be better, après l’éclipse le beau temps style.

    Of course in times like these, everyone and their mother have an opinion. More often than not, that opinion stems from well-rooted political convictions that are, well, as worthy as garbage. But everyone’s got an opinion, right?

    And, at times of national crises such as this, the least you’d expect people is to at least keep a united front facing the terrorism, horror and death. Well, guess again.

    Exhibit A:

    Tripoli - 1

    Exhibit B:

    Tripoli - 2

    Such people’s logic wants to have a city of half a million people eradicated from the Lebanese scene just because they don’t agree with that city’s sect, politics. Of course, young as these people are, they probably got their ideas from their parents. Do you think blinded hate is a recessive or dominant trait? I’d go with the latter.

    What’s sadder is that such a point of view is not a lone cry in the Lebanese wilderness. It is shared by many. The saddest part is that the people who have such ideas are the upcoming generation on whom everyone’s hope resides. I suppose you better find better foundations for that hope you have of a one-day prosperous Lebanese nation of understanding and love and intra-sectarian mating and whatnot.

    Those people in question don’t know that there are people from that city they want burned who know exactly what’s wrong with their hometown and who are trying to change it, unlike useless hateful tweets:

    By Mu'taz Salloum

    By Mu’taz Salloum

    People such as Mu’taz Salloum, who have no problem blaming everything and everyone for the situation in their city and their country, make me happy. Is it because I’m a natural-born downer?

    The situation, however, is not Muslim-exclusive. Lebanese Christians have their own share of messed up stuff taking place, from extremism against the Syrians, to self-appointed guarding duties across Lebanese towns, to their sheer inability to govern amidst self-conviction that their existence in the country is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The people of Achrafieh at today’s event were probably having the following conversation with each other:

    - T’as entendu qu’est ce qui se passe à Tghipoli?

    - Tghipoli? C’est quoi ça?

    - Ben, j’en sais pas. Je crois qu’ils ont quelque chose qui s’appelle Daesh.

    - Daesh? C’est bien demodé chez eux. La vie est jolie chez nous à Ach.

    The Lebanese South, prior to its liberation in 2000, was not as disassociated from Lebanon as Tripoli and effectively much of the North and Northern Beqaa are. If that’s not saying something, I don’t know what could.

    This is beautiful <3

    This is beautiful <3

    However, ladies and gentlemen, things are not all bleak. There is news to brighten your day, news that will make all of the above disappear. Or at least that was the case for some people to pretend that we have the Paris of the Middle East again, Switzerland of the East, *insert some other possible cliche about Lebanon here.*

    It’s that time of the year again. No, not Christmas. According to Siri, that’s in sixty days. It’s time for Conde Naste to publish their yearly list of the world’s best cities according to that magazine’s touristy readers. Drumroll please *drrrrrr.* For the third year in a row, Beirut has found itself a nice little spot on that list. Not only that, but Beirut has made great advances in ranks, up from number 20 last year, based on the voting of the tourists that read that magazine and have visited Beirut recently, which amounts to how many people exactly?

    Beirut beat Sydney, and Paris, and Vienna, and *insert other eye-grabbing capital that makes Beirut’s feat all the more impressive.* Our very own capital. Can you believe it? The little city that could, with all its characteristic buildings, well-kept roads, clean sidewalks, enriching cultural life and activities, diverse touristic options within its boundaries, the insane amount of tourists and its charm that is overflowing.

    What’s the mark of greatness in a city that’s destroying its own heritage, has little to no respect to its people and is making sure it becomes what it believes everyone wants: another Dubai, effectively losing everything that made it, once upon a time, charming?

    Between people dying, people wanting those dying to be eradicated from existence, people who have no idea the former two categories exist and people who have massive orgasms every time a Western publication mentions Lebanon somehow, the Lebanese situation is utterly, devastatingly and surely, beyond measures, fucked.

    BUT YOU GUYS BEIRUT IS THE WORLD’S #14 CITY. TAKE THAT PARIS. (Paris <3).

    Khaled Hoblos: The Sheikh Who Roused Up The Terrorists Against The Army In Tripoli

    In case you’ve been living under a rock, which is most likely true but it’s okay – no one’s judging, Tripoli has been having its most vicious rounds of fights in the past several months, for the past day. Its inhabitants didn’t sleep the night. The rhetoric is no longer about periods of calm broken by gunshots heard, but the entire opposite.

    Of course, those inhabitants are, as far as we care, used to sleepless nights away from windows and to the sound of bullets that they tell their children is thunder.

    What prompted the Tripoli fights is not just those militant terrorists being bored after such a long period of hibernation. These aren’t people with a functioning head above their skulls for them to make plans or act according to their own free will. These people always need a mastermind to orchestrate what they do. For that purpose, yet another of these masterminds popped out of the blue in Tripoli yesterday. His name is Khaled Hoblos, a local sheikh at one the Haroun el Rashid mosque in Tripoli.

    Has anyone wondered how such creatures keep popping up out of the blue in Tripoli and immediately making a name for themselves?

    Yesterday, as part of his Friday sermon at his mosque, Khaled Hoblos made fiery statements to the goons attending his service about how the army is, in typical Sunni-targeted rhetoric, is enforcing a security plan only against the Sunnis in Tripoli and that the plan in question, as well as other army actions, were hitting Sunni pride in its core and that such things were not to be tolerated anymore.

    Of course, news of such actions – be it due to Hoblos or some other low-life creature, have been going around for a month. News of upcoming breaks in the security plan over Tripoli are not new. It’s just that nobody, including governmental bodies involved, cared.

    Soon enough, about 200 of those militants gathered in Bab el Tebbane and spread across the old city, starting the fights in question across portions that Tripoli hadn’t seen fights in before.

    Khaled Hoblos, however, wouldn’t accept not having the last word. So he made another statement, which I received thanks to one of my friends in Tripoli:

    What that Hoblos creature fails to understand is that the security plan in question is what was keeping the city he calls home at bay, at least when it worked, from the rising madness sweeping across the region, be it with ISIS or the deterioration in Lebanese politics or other forms of extremism that people don’t like to discuss.

    That security plan, and the sacrifices of the army personnel to make it work, was what was getting the thousands upon thousands of people in Tripoli to feel safe at their own homes again. For once in this god-forsaken country, such a plan was working. It doesn’t matter that they can’t enforce such plans in other areas in the country; those areas in question are not filled with filth who have guns and who are covered by Lebanese MPs providing them with all kinds of weapons and material and who act on sporadic whims, igniting a whole city in the process.

    Soon enough, news of a ceasefire between the militants and the army will surface, as is always the case. The army is never allowed to kill or arrest every single last one of these militants, starting with those masterminds who make sure the goons still act, still kill, still terrorize innocent people and do what they do.

    Today, ignore Nicolas Fattouch and his soap opera-like situation. That has become a distraction, and Tripoli is coming back to remind us all that there are more dangerous people in this country who deserve our attention. There are MPs who are, from behind the scenes, orchestrating figurative slaps and knock-downs to hundreds of thousands of people.

    And there are sheikhs like Khaled Hoblos who are igniting an entire city with sectarian hate. Mr. Hoblos will come out of this unscathed. He’s a Sunni sheikh after all, he’s protected by some form of Allah-induced immunity. It shouldn’t be like this. Arrest Khaled Hoblos now. Put him in the darkest pits of dungeon hell you can find. The time for drastic measures is yesterday.

    He said it best:

    Ismail Sakalaki Friday Sermons

    How Lebanon Is Bracing Itself For Ebola

    Earlier today, my phone buzzed with a breaking news notification about a patient being investigated for Ebola at a, as of now, unnamed Beirut hospital. An hour or so later, as I had figured, the patient turned out to have malaria. But that didn’t stop people from freaking out about the disease’s possibility of invading Lebanese territory. I mean, it’s only a matter of time anyway as Ebola is the only thing, possibly, that hasn’t strutted across our borders yet.

    At an almost 30% chance of having Ebola spread to it, Lebanon is not at bay. 30% is a lot in medical terms. However, that isn’t to say that nothing is being done regarding the issue or that it’s being ignored as we’ve ignored almost every other pertinent matter that could potentially affect this country. I guess when it comes to health, people pay more attention.

    In a matter of weeks, Ebola has become something that we, as medical professionals (or soon to be medical professionals), had to keep at the forefront of our minds as we saw patients in ERs or in any other setting for that matter for patients who have fever or a constellation of indicative symptoms.

    Back in the old days, we’d start by asking about associated symptoms to try and draw a picture of a syndrome, a viral illness or any possible etiologies that made sense give the season, the condition of the patient, etc. Nowadays, we start by asking: have you had any recent travel history, sir?

    Our cut-off to rule out Ebola in someone who presented from an endemic area, few as those people are, is about 3 weeks. I’ve seen people panic that they’ve encountered someone who visited Lebanon from Nigeria 3 months ago and are currently presenting with fever. No, it doesn’t work that way.

    The Ministry of Health, in its capacities, has circulated memos to Lebanon’s hospital to educate employees, nurses and doctors about Ebola and about the proper ways to handle patients suspected with the disease. I have taken pictures of the memo in question, which you can find as follows:

    When it comes to our airports, however, the story is entirely different. Sure, there’s probably not a massive influx of Lebanese coming from West Africa, but even with the global worry regarding the virus, there’s been basically zero measures at our airport to screen passengers or attempt to keep ebola in the back of their minds, just in case, especially in passengers from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. I guess there are more important airport-related issues at hand, such as fixing that A/C.

    The media, on another hand, isn’t doing a terrific job either at spreading awareness regarding the virus or educating people on it in order to decrease mass hysteria and help catch suspected cases earlier, in case they happen to be there as unlikely as that is.

    In a way, Lebanon is better prepared for Ebola than it is for any of our average crisis. Our hospitals are well equipped and can handle such cases extremely well. We have excellent equipment and doctors and, believe it or not, excellent medical management – at least at Beirut’s major hospitals that is.

    The status of Ebola and Lebanon can be summarized as follows: there are more people in Lebanon that have been attacked by MP Nicolas Fattouch than have had Ebola.