Lebanon At 2016 Rio Olympics: Our Athletes, The Possibility of a Gold Medal & Fighting With Israel Over A Bus

Lebanon Olympics 2016

Rio’s 2016 Olympics had their big opening yesterday, or as the joke goes it was similar to an average Lebanese wedding. Critics are hailing Brazil’s celebration of its history without shying away from the bits that are usually covered up such as slavery, and thirsty people are drooling over the flag bearer of a Tonga, which is a country of 169 Polynesian islands.

As it is customary, Lebanon has a collection of athletes – nine – that are representing the country in Rio. Those athletes are:

  • Ray Bassil – Shooting,
  • Mariana Sahakian  – Table Tennis,
  • Ahmad Hazer – Athletics,
  • Chirine Njem – Athletics,
  • Anthony Barbar – Swimming,
  • Gabriella Doueihy – Swimming,
  • Elias Nassif – Judo,
  • Mona Sheaito  – Fencing,
  • Richard Mourjan – Canoe Slalom.

Chirine Njem will be the first woman to represent Lebanon in a Marathon race. Richard Mourjan will also be our first time participating in a Canoe Slalom.

Of the nine aforementioned athletes, Ray Bassil and Mona Sheaito participated in London’s 2012 Olympics.

The last time Lebanon won a medal at the Olympics goes back to 1980, at the Moscow olympics, where Hassan Bechara won a bronze for Greco-Roman wrestling.

In total, our country has a total of 4 medals to its name, two silver and two bronze, divided along the following manner:

  • 1952 (Helsinki Olympics): Zakaria Chehab (silver medal in men’s wrestling); Khalil Taha (bronze medal in men’s wrestling)
  • 1972 (Munich’s Olympics): Mohamed Traboulsi (silver medal in weightlifting),
  • 1980 (Moscow’s olympics): Hassan Bechara (bronze medal in wrestling).

The country has never had an athlete win a gold medal. I guess this is not exactly shocking given how little investment our governments put into sports in general and into nourishing the many athletic talents that our country has. Even sending athletes to the Olympics has proven, over and over again, to be “complicated” for our government. Those that went to London in 2012 reportedly had to finance a big chunk of their participation.

So it’s to that backdrop that it seems unbelievable that Lebanon may have its first shot at a golden medal. As reported by CNN, since her disappointing start in London back in 2012, Lebanon’s Ray Bassil has been working really hard, despite the obstacles set forth by her own country, to get better at what she does. She has since collected medal upon medal, rising to become the world’s #1 female trap shooter.

Ray will be competing on Sunday August 7th (tomorrow) at 3PM Beirut time.

Ray Bassil Olympics 2016 Rio

The schedule of Lebanon’s athletes is as follows, as sent to me by a friend:

Saturday, August 6th
* Mariana Sahakian – Table Tennis.

Sunday, August 7th:
* Ray Bassil: Shooting.
* Gabriella Doueihy: Swimming (women’s 400m freestyle).
* Richard Merjan: Canoe Slalom Men’s canoe single

Tuesday, August 9th: 
* Elias Nassif: Judo – 81 kg elimination round of 32

Wednesday, August 10th: 
* Mona Sheaito: Fencing,

Thursday, August 11th:
* Anthony Barbar: Swimming (men’s 50m freestyle).

Sunday, August 14th:
* Chirine Njem: Women’s marathon.

Tuesday, August 16th:
* Ahmad Hazer: Men’s 110m hurdle race.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Lebanese if our participation went drama free. Lucky for us, the drama started on day zero with the Lebanese and Israeli delegations nearly fighting over being assigned the same bus to be transported to the opening ceremony.

Lebanon - Israel - Rio 2016

The Times of Israel were the first to report on the issue (link), before Lebanese media picked up on the news. Israelis were appalled – gasp – and found the precedence to be “dangerous.” Meanwhile in Lebanon, the news is receiving more comical responses.

There’s not really much to read into it, and the only entity to blame for assigning the same bus for the Lebanese and Israeli delegations is the organizing committee that figured putting two enemy countries that recently commemorated the ten year anniversary of their latest war together on the same transportation vehicle was a good idea.

The Israelis can go on and on about how being blocked by the Lebanese delegation from accessing the bus is “unsportsmanship” behavior. And we, as Lebanese, will have differing opinions about this depending on where we fall on the political spectrum. But the fact of the matter is and will always be: it’s not unsportsmanship to protest Israel’s violations of our land, our people, and the land of the people that have been forcibly made refugees in our country. The Olympic games have never been devoid of political tone, and this is just another manifestation of that.

The Lebanese athletes sharing the bus with the Israeli delegation would have also had repercussions in Lebanon, as it is illegal for us to have any sort of interaction with Israelis. Or have we forgotten the international selfie scandal?

So in summary: we have nine athletes making us proud, one of them might make Lebanese history, and we’ve already fought with Israel. Just another typical day in Lebanon.

Advertisements

That “Lebanese” President of Brazil You’re Proud Of Is Very Corrupt, Like Lebanese Politicians

Michel-Temer

In the surge of Lebanese pride that one of their “own” is now the president of Brazil, while the country celebrates its second year without an actual Lebanese president in Lebanon, not one outlet has bothered to look into Mr. Michel Temer, beyond the fact that his parents immigrated from Btaaboura around 80 years ago.

His interviews with Lebanese media during his first and last visit to his “motherland” a couple of years ago have been circulating like wildfire. Him proclaiming to have a “Brazilian heart” but “Lebanese blood” were on a loop. He probably couldn’t care less.

What is certain, however, is that Michel Temer is corrupt, semi-fascist, just like those Lebanese politicians we all love to hate.

He Screwed Over His Own President:

The only way Temer became president was by screwing over Dilma Roussef, the now-suspended president of Brazil, in a textbook Frank Underwood-esque plot.

Through a series of orchestrated leaks, which he “claimed” not to have anything to do with, he effectively managed to throw his president under the bus so he could rise to power. For instance, he leaked a statement to the press about how he was upset he was not involved in key decisions by his president… and then said he was outraged by the leak.

Then he leaked a Whatsapp message to Brazilian parliament members claiming they needed a “new government.” He was later “outraged” by that leak as well.

Through it all, he was the main orchestrator behind the scene of the coup against the president, and in bed with big money and right-wing-run Brazilian media to further make him inevitable.

He Is Corrupt As Hell:

Temer’s ascent to power means that a political party that didn’t win Brazil’s elections is now effectively taking power. Once he is in power, he will reportedly appoint Goldman, Sachs, and IMF officials to run the economy. Those are the same people that American politician Bernie Sanders is accusing of corruption and electoral campaign fraud.

Michel Temer also has his own saga with corruption. He was ordered to pay a fine only this week for violating campaigning regulations and is being prosecuted for it. He may be banned from pursuing further office later for up to 8 years.

During his campaign for vice president, Michel Temer was also involved in other campaigning scandal when he received up to $1.5 million from a company to whom he provided preferential governmental treatment in construction contracts.

He has also been accused of involvement in an illegal ethanol-purchasing scheme which has brought him back millions of dollars.

Michel Temer is also said to be involved in the “Petrobras Scandal,” a partly-governmental owned oil company that some Brazilian officials profited from by laundering some of the profit through a Lebanese-origin intermediary called Alberto Youssef, and transferring it to secure accounts in Switzerland.

To put it bluntly, Temer is accused of more corruption than Dilma Roussef. Only 2% of the Brazilian electorate would vote for him and over 60% believe he should be impeached also. The only reason his political career is not ending is because 1) he is a man, 2) he serves the interests of corporations that want to see someone with his agenda in power.

He’s Already Targeted Women, The Blacks and LGBT People:

Michel Temer’s upcoming government is rumored to be composed only of men, a long way down from a country that just had a woman president.

It doesn’t end here. He has also been active in closing many LGBT and black rights offices, and will reportedly continue on his rampage now that he’s ascending further up the power echelons.

Let’s Not Be Proud Of Everyone Who Happens To Be Lebanese Anywhere and Everywhere?

If any Lebanese politician were accused of what Temer has done, you’d be up in arms about how disgraceful, horrifying they are, how they’re ruining your country.

Can we not pretend this is any different just because that politician has ascended to power in Brazil?

There are times and places to be proud of entities pertaining to our heritage. This is not one of them. The world finally has a Lebanese president…. That’s not really a good thing.

Fast Five – Movie Review

Fast Five is the latest installment in the Fast and Furious movie franchise. It stars regulars of the past four movies: Vin Diezel as Dom, Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner as well as introducing Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs, a DSS agent, specialized in finding wanted criminals.

Former FBI agent Brian O’Conner, along with Mia, Dom’s sister, help Dom escape a 25 year prison sentence while being taken to jail on a prison bus. They split up and agree to meet in Rio De Janeiro. However, Mia and Brian run low on cash and agree on doing a job for their friend. The job turns out much complicated than expected, however. The train on which the cars are found are seized property by DEA agents. And among the three cars to be taken, there’s only one in which those running the operation have special interest. Why? because it contains information about the location of $100 million, drug money, that Dom and co decide to steal and use to buy their freedom. But the money belongs to the most corrupt man in Rio and they’re being haunted by Luke Hobbs.

The fact that this movie is meant to entertain more than garner awards does not excuse the horrible performances you have to bear with for about two hours. There’s a sheer amount of melodrama in the way the actors react to what they have to do that is just mind blowing. At some points, you can’t but sit and look at the screen and go: “are they kidding me?”

Moreover, the script, especially most of the dialogue, is garbage material. I cannot conceive how the actors actually agreed on uttering some of the lines that were said. Some of those include: “I like my dessert first” when asked if they wanted good news or bad news first, followed by “now give me the vegetables”, among other lines spread throughout the movie that are completely ridiculous.

And even though you’re expecting to go into a movie with lots of cars, don’t be too disappointed when you see little car action sequences. At one point, they basically set up a race and jumped into the next scene with the race already done. There is an emphasis on the “furious” part though. The characters are almost angry all the time.

The final sequence of the movie, however, was well done. Even though it defied every law of physics that I know, it was still an enjoyable watch. And the overall resolution is quite smart, even though you might have seen it coming.

Overall, the movie should have been more accurately titled “Furious Five” but I guess that would have gotten some people confused with Kung Fu Panda. Why? because the amount of anger in the movie is unbelievable and always over the top. Although the cars and women that are featured are quite awesome, the movie fails. Why? simply because it’s too indulgent. The movie makers know this will be a hit financially and that’s all they cared about: deliver action sequences that keep a viewer entertained (hate them or like them, you cannot but watch action sequences) and that viewer would forget about all the other silly and ridiculous stuff. I’m not saying you won’t enjoy it, after all, it is a movie about cars and weapons and women, but it could have been done in a much, much better way. And watch out for The Godfather reference at the end.

Rio – Movie Review

If you want to go for a 90 minutes movie that will give you a blast then Rio is the movie for you.
With the voice talents of Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and Anne Hathaway (she doesn’t need any introductions, right?), Rio is a very, very fun animated movie.

Blu is a blue macaw parrot who gets caught while still very young and is shipped to the United States where, by an act of fate, the truck his box is on gets hit and his box drops off. Linda, a little girl, finds Blu and takes care of him for the next fifteen yes. The two become inseparable, the best of friends and Linda becomes as dependent on Blu as he is on her.
However, soon enough, Tulio, a scientist, shows up to Linda’s bookstore and tells her they have found a female counterpart for Blu, the last existent male of his species and that they need to fly him down to Rio so both birds can mate.
Linda reluctantly agrees… but Rio De Janeiro is a hostile place, especially for a rare bird like Blu and it is there that the story unfolds.

Jesse Eisenberg does not stray away from The Social Network’s nerdy Mark Zuckerberg persona in this but he is quite awesome as Blu. I daresay, it’s good for him The Social Network was released before Rio because I’m sure we would have all pictured him as the blue bird instead of Zuckerberg had it been the other way around.

Anne Hathaway displays, yet again, amazing versatility even though only her voice-over skills are put to the test in Rio. Her voice adapts extremely well to the flirty, yet resilient bird Jewel.

You will also hear the vocal talents of Leslie Mann, Black Eyed Peas’ frontman Will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez…

All in all, Rio is a movie that will entertain you without asking too much mental involvement on your part. It’s hilarious, sentimental and beyond a doubt authentic.