April Fools’ Lebanon Style: We Were Promised Better Internet, We Got No Internet Instead

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If you’ve ever wondered how a whole country can be without continuous internet for hours on end, including any form of mobile internet on our smartphones, look no further than the glorious Switzerland of the Middle East, the Democratic Republic of Lebanon, circa April 2017.

Leading up to this stupendous first day of April were promises of better internet by the end of March. Some people had already noticed their modems syncing at speeds that were, previously, only a far-fetched dream in the country.

As it stands, they’re no longer a dream on April 1st, but probably an immense fantasy more grand than Harry Potter.

Even as they were adamant to deny the existence of any problem, as they usually do, even our mobile carriers had to admit that this whole business of you frantically trying to refresh anything on your phone to try and see what is up with your connectivity is not on you.

My bitching didn’t even help fix things and I wasn’t alone in my problems:

It turns out that Ogero, the supplier of all internet in the country, was doing some heavy testing which resulted in the entire country being taken off the grid, as per the tweets of Imad Kreidieh, head of Ogero:

Truth be told, Imad Kreidieh has been doing a tremendous job as the head of Ogero so far. If there’s anything good to come out of this, it’s how he has handled it: he didn’t blame others for the problems of the institution he’s running, he was clear about what was being done, and later on he tweeted the following:

I’m very genuinely taken aback by how professional Mr. Kreidieh is. Is he really a Lebanese person in a position of power? Maybe this is the actual April Fools’ prank being played on us? Tawa Nicolas, the creator of this blog’s iOS app, WHICH YOU CAN DOWNLOAD HERE, said it best:

It’s not all bad though. I mean, think about all those MBs you’ve saved everyone! Here’s hoping that on April 1st, 2018 we would actually have a country whose internet speed is not apparently:

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Tomorrowland Is Coming To Lebanon On July 29th

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Tomorrowland is one of the biggest electronic music festivals in the world. Held yearly in Belgium, it’s attended by hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts. This year’s festival is taking place from July 21st till the 30th.

However, on July 29th, Lebanon was chosen as one of only 8 countries around the world to be “United” with Tomorrowland in a live broadcast of the festivities from Belgium in an event that start at 7PM and end around 4AM, in Byblos. It’s not yet clear whether this is in the official capacities of the Byblos Festival.

The line-up has not been announced yet, but based on some research I did on their website, guests can expect an event held in a setting inspired by Tomorrowland (a customized stage, decoration and special effects) combined with a massive well-curated line-up of local & international artists (at least 1 international artist).

The special effects in question are synchronised with the show in Belgium adding value to the global connection.

The announcement took place in the following video:

This event, unless Byblos – or some other festival – bring out the big guns by bringing in a top-notch international act, should be the highlight of the summer’s festival circle in Lebanon. It’s a great image for the country, especially given how tremendous the platform of Tomorrowland is, and it’s a great opportunity for those who can’t travel to Belgium to enjoy the festival itself.

To make sure you get tickets, pre-register at this link.

No, Michel Aoun Falling Is Not Funny, Nor Is It Material To Humor Us

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Michel Aoun tripped and fell. It’s the Arab League Summit – however useless that might be. Lebanon is participating with a president for the first time since 2013, and while walking to the podium, Lebanese president Michel Aoun sustains a fall. Bring out the guillotines.

It all takes 3 seconds. He’s pictured to be okay afterwards. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. In any decent country, and regardless where people fall on the political spectrum, their president falling like that would at least elicit some kind of empathy.

Not in Lebanon.

Michel Aoun falling is now an indication of his health status. I’m sad to inform you it’s not. Anyone can trip and fall. It’s now the go-to joke. I’m sad to inform you it’s not a joke. It is now the easiest video to send on WhatsApp groups with our lousy internet to get your friends replying with as much “HAHA” as you can get out of them. I’m sad to inform you it’s not funny.

There’s nothing cute about an elderly 80 year old man tripping and falling. It’s not for your enjoyment, and it sure as hell is not something to humor you. His political past has nothing to do with this. I do not agree with almost anything he says or does (or said or did), but he is still an old man who fell and that is not even acceptably funny.

In my first year of specialty in Internal Medicine last year, I dealt with countless elderly patients who went through falls such as this. The consequences could have been, and are usually, disastrous: from fractures to concussions to extended hospital stays. I’m glad that president Aoun is okay after this.

Medicine aside, imagine had this happened to any of you – regardless of your age. I’m sure your first reflex would be to care more about your phone, but such falls are painful and, when coupled with people around you laughing their asses off, humiliating.

Imagine this happening to your grandparents. Would you propagate their fall coupled with all the “LOLs” you can type out? I sure hope you don’t.

You can not agree with Michel Aoun politically. That’s what makes this country (seemingly) a democracy. You can bash the hell out of his stances about freedom of speech, electoral laws, anything you disagree with for that matter. But when it comes to ridiculing him as an old man who happened to sustain a fall, then I’m afraid to tell you that is never okay.

AUB’s “Insight Club” Promotes Homophobia, Wants An Islamic Curriculum & Warns Men From Being Touched By Women

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Earlier this week, AUB’s Islamist club which called itself “Insight”, but it ironically lacks any, was supposed to hold an event to discuss homosexuality featuring two Islamist speakers who advocate, in 2017, for electrical conversion therapy as a possible way to “cure” homosexuality, among other things.

The American University of Beirut should have known better not to let a club foster borderline hate-speech, rooted in all the non-science possible, from two “scientists” going against everything that acknowledged scientific facts stand for. But I’ve learned not to hope for much from a university who’s more worried about its bottom line, than the protection of minorities in its campus and preventing the perpetuation of horrifying dogma that has no place inside its campus.

The outcry was deafening, leading to the club to cancel the event under the guise of them “receiving threats.” Yeah, right.

Except AUB’s Insight Club didn’t stop there, releasing a video earlier this week as well that wants men not to be “ashamed” of telling their female friends not to touch them. Because, clearly, the problem in our societies is that men are being touched by women without their consent. I mean, it’s common knowledge that those women force themselves on men all the time, isn’t it Insight club? So much Insight, I can’t even.

The video, 40 seconds long, features a boy named Karim who has been best friends with Reem since their first day at AUB, except Reem – THAT SLUT – has become so comfortable around Karim that – THE SCANDAL – she’s used to holding his hand sometimes.

But Karim – THE SAINT – knows that he should stop this. Keep in mind, Karim is “open mind.” He wears a NYC shirt. I mean, has Karim ever been in NYC? One wonders. I would bet he hasn’t, because his brain would have been fried by the amount of SIN – Allah have mercy – that is present in that city. I mean, gay people can hold hands. Straight people can hold hands. Transgender people can hold hands. Women can even legally walk the street without a shirt or a bra.

Anyway, Karim is conflicted. He wants to tell Reem that he doesn’t want her to touch him anymore, but she’s the problem. Every time he takes away his hand, she forces herself on him. What a problematic woman. And then when he thinks about talking to her about it, Karim decides to go all Lebanese ghetto with his “man” and “bro.”

This is the video:

It wasn’t even the only video they’ve had. In another one, they are criticizing the curriculum of the university as being critical of their religion. This time, it’s Toufic who does all the wondering:

It’s AUB’s Islamist club’s right to exercise their free speech. But it comes at a point where one wonders: if you’re this annoyed by secularism and progressive values (with a slight tear being shed at progressive designating a man and a woman interacting), then why the hell are you a student at the American University of Beirut, an institution that is as far away from being a religious institution as it goes – the Bible verse on its main gate and its Christian history aside?

If you want Islamic values to be taught in the classroom, go to one of Lebanon’s Islamic universities and indulge yourself. If you want extreme Islam to be your way of life, then I’m sorry to inform you that you chose the wrong university, bro.

The above video is spreading a radical agenda. It’s not even how most Lebanese Muslims go about their lives, as they tend to be on the more moderate side of the spectrum. The problem here is that the American University of Beirut, fresh from its $700,000 settlement with the U.S. government,  has its name affixed to such a video, spreading such a message, and to a club who’s doing its best to decimate all the values that AUB stands for.

Should AUB close them down? That would be a limitation of their freedom of speech, even if their speech is worthy of being propagated as the insight-lacking Insight club is offering nothing new, apart from being backward, ridiculous, and radical.

Since when are openly religious clubs, spreading radical religious agenda allowed at the American University of Beirut? What’s next, having a club call itself Crusaders take place in the university calling for it to go back to its Protestant past?

AUB, if you keep allowing such clubs to fester on your premises, you risk your entire secular reputation that you’ve worked years on trying to maintain. It’s horrifying that a time when clubs such as AUB’s secular club give hope in what this country could be one day, the university allows this to happen.

I guess the most appropriate response is:

Minister Of Culture Allows Demolition of Beirut’s Iconic “The Red House” & Destruction Is Already Underway

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Almost a year ago, the story of Beirut’s “Red House,” near Bliss in Hamra, was spreading like wild-fire. Most of us had taken the place’s existence for granted, as we walked by it on our way to university or on our excursions around the area.

But back then, the iconic “Red House,” which housed Ras Beirut’s Rebeiz family for generations, was under threat from some parts of that same family who had inherited the house and wanted to use the plot on which it existed to build yet another high-rise.

Luckily for us, the Ministry of Culture, through former minister Rony Araygi, responded to the pleas of those who advocated for the house to be preserved for its cultural value and placed the location on its list of protected sites around Beirut.

That changed in February.

For absolutely no justifiable reason whatsoever, new Minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury decided that the house wasn’t worth being a protected site in Beirut and, through the strike of a pen, removed it from the list of protected buildings around the capital with decree #32 on February 3rd, 2017, with it becoming valid when it was published in Lebanon’s Official Gazette on March 16th.

I wonder, who are we supposed to entrust with our culture and heritage if the Ministry of Culture couldn’t care less about the history of the country it’s supposed to be preserving? I mean, if a house that is as old and as preserved as the Red House can’t find its way onto a governmental protected list, then what’s left for sites whose history can’t advocate for them as much?

Is it maybe because the current owners are probably friends with PM Hariri and lobbied him into getting his Minister of Culture to do this?

As a reminder, the “Red House” is more than 300 years old. It was the beacon of one of Ras Beirut’s main matriarchs throughout the 19th and 20th century. It had a pivotal role in the politics of the area for more than 5 decades. It was the house of Ras Beirut’s mokhtar for over 50 years. It was where Louis Armstrong had dropped by for a visit during his Beirut stay.

The owners cite family feuds in the struggle over the “Red House.” But the truth is they don’t want to take over the property simply to kick out their family member who was living there, which is something they’ve accomplished months ago. They simply want to destroy the property.

In fact, Michel Rebeiz, now 94, who grew up there and whose mother was one of the more important matriarchs of Ras Beirut, still goes there every morning to check on his childhood home before it is no more. Neighbors around the area tell of him leaving with his eyes swollen as he laments what all of his history is turning into.

The truth is, however, that the “Red House” was never protected. Even when the Ministry of Culture labeled it as a protected site, sources say that attempts to demolish it were still underway. In fact, the following pictures were reportedly taken BEFORE the new minister had allowed the demolition but before:

So much for governmental protection.

Following its designation as a protected site, police officers from the Hbeich precinct did a surveil of the place. Their report is invaluable to show the illegal activities that have taken place on the property even when it was under governmental protection. Unfortunately, as regular citizens we cannot access such information.

The good news is that it’s not too late, yet. We can still get our Ministry of Culture to overturn their updated decision and to protect the “Red House” once again. The collective history of our capital and the landmarks that still stand testimony to it is more important than the money some people can make through backroom deals and under-the-table agreements.

Beirut is being destroyed every single day by contractors and politicians as well as people who couldn’t care less about anything other than their bottom line. The solution for such entities is a strong governance that puts them in their spot. It’s high time we get that, and the city we deserve. The “Red House” is our history. It’s horrible that even our history can’t survive our current corruption.

The Very Scandalous Things On Our Middle Eastern Laptops and Tablets: A List To Help The U.S. and U.K. Governments

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The American and British governments have decided overnight to not allow passengers boarding airlines flying directly to their countries from Middle Eastern and some African countries from carrying on them ANY electronic that isn’t a phone or medical equipment.

The countries affected are: Lebanon, KSA, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, among others.

So to make the work of those countries easier, I figured I’d compile a (non-comprehensive) list of all the very scandalous things they will find on our laptops and iPads.

1. A poorly deleted porn browsing history.

2. 23 different google searches for “is this mole on my chest cancer?”

3. The discography of some pop diva we would never admit listening to unless waterboarded.

4. Game of Thrones and everything related to it.

5. Bookmarked BuzzFeed quizzes in order to determine how our life will be.

6. Compromising photographs we thought we had deleted but which have never truly disappeared.

7. The entirety of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Will & Grace, and Seinfeld.

8. Two hundred and ninety four cat doing cute things videos.

9. Thirteen cat doing extremely cute things videos.

10. The occasional video about puppies.

11. A folder for memes.

12. A folder for gifs.

13. Entire convo threads about how bitchy our boss or our colleagues are.

14. Family WhatsApp groups filled with “jokes” in Arabic. PS: those are not religious verses.

15. A ton of screenshots of Instagram posts of people we hate/are jealous of.

16. A ton of screenshots from conversation with friends that we sent to other friends for gossiping
purposes.

17. Selfies. A lot of selfies.

18. Plenty of blocked Facebook games.

19. 12 Facebook friend lists to sort our messy social presence.

20. More muted people on Twitter than we’d like to admit.

21. Google searches about how screwed we are now that Trump has happened.

22. Google searches about whether those Google searches might get us in trouble.

23. Saved restaurants on Zomato we’ve always intended to try but will probably never do.

24. Wikipedia search results about almost everything pertaining to our university degrees.

25. Motivational posters we’ve saved that we share among close friends, but never to the masses.

26. Plenty of tweets about how said motivational posters are silly. #HypocrisyWho?

27. Subscriptions to the YouTube channels of John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, Ellen, and Trevor Noah.

28. Plenty of LebanonFiles (or other news websites visits) to ascertain how messed up our countries are,
and how to adjust our “don’t-give-a-shit”-meter accordingly.

29. WebMd queries about whether one could die from some random thing we felt once upon a time.

30. More selfies.

31. Essays about the plastic surgeries that Lebanese female singers have underwent.

32. Rants about how messed up things are to share with our people.

33. Magnum Opuses about how wonderful things are here for others.

34. Saved images of places we think are here but are probably not.

35. Series we will never admit to have or would watch. That’s one secret I’ll never tell.

36. Dissertations about the series finale of LOST.

37. More than enough to last a lifetime for Harry Potter fan theories.

38. Pinterest boards for ideas we will never see to fruition.

39. Searches of how to become rich?

40. Searches of how to make do with $2 till the rest of the month when it’s still the tenth.

41. A lot of wondering about immigration possibilities.

42. Pirated software because who’d wanna pay $200 for Microsoft Office? WTF?

43. A lot of subscriptions to Western publications that utterly mess up our social media networks’
algorithm.

44. Searches about which countries we can go to without visas.

45. Textbooks we’ve never read and PDF lecture presentations with heavy annotations that helped us get
our degrees.

46. A porn stash we think no one will find.

47. “Lyrics of….”

48. Plenty of “forgot password” links.

49. Photos we took that we think make us photographers.

50. A lot of wondering about why you hate us this much and how further you wanna walk all over us for the fun of it.

John Saad: The Lebanese Filth Whose Favorite Hobby Is To Kick Helpless Cats For Fun

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A few days ago, a video surfaced online of a man luring a poor kitten with some food before he proceeded to kick her across a ledge. With that disgusting excuse of a human being’s act being shared left and right and causing outrage that even our taxes did not cause, he decided he liked the attention, so he shared another video of him doing the same thing again, but this time he showed his face.

I will not share the videos. Someone like this abomination do not deserve any form of attention except to have their faces plastered across the blogosphere to show the world how disgusting their minds and behaviors are.

This man is John Saad. People like him are the embodiment of those in society who trample on those who are weaker than them in order to express their testosterone surges, thinking what they’re doing is a manifestation of them being all macho and powerful. What they don’t know is that this behavior shows them to be what they are: bullies, cowards, lifeless scumbags who should never be interacting with any living creature, apart from themselves, behind bars, somewhere deep and dark.

I’m ashamed to say this filth comes from the same region as me, Batroun. He was a Computer Sciences student at the University of Balamand before dropping out and leaving the university. According to officials there, he has also changed his contact information. Since being unveiled as the psychopath in the videos, John Saad has changed his name and accounts on social medias to someone named Toufic for fear of retribution, before deleting his social media accounts altogether, but he does not know that screenshots are there forever:

John Saad and people like him should be punished. He should not get away with what he’s doing in the slightest. He should be the example to those who think what he did was funny or who support what he did in order for them not to ever think of doing anything of the sort to a helpless creature ever in their lives.

It’s unfortunate that Lebanon does not have animal cruelty laws that could throw this filth in jail. If we were a modern country, this man would be serving years in jail, with a $10,000 fine at the minimum for doing what he did.

But until we feign modernity, which will never happen if we think its only manifestation is Beirut giving the world good food or some of our models doing sexy music videos, name and shame people like John Saad. Tfeh.