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.

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Lebanese Politicians Don’t Care About Increasing Taxes:  They Know We’re Voting For Them Anyway & We Won’t Budge As Long As WhatsApp & Arguileh Are Untouched 

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VAT is now 11%. Our parliament is blazing through approving the 22 new taxes and increases that I wrote about a few days ago. Check them out here (click).

Among the other taxes being passed are those affecting alcohol, numerous stamps which increase bill prices, etc.

Among what is remaining unchanged is the salaries and benefits that current and previous MPs and ministers receive, as well as the shitload of money they get from all the deals they make by being part of government. Hurray!

Things are so messed up in parliament that:

• We can’t know exactly what is taking place at the session discussing the tax increase because it is not recorded nor televized,
• We cannot know which MPs voted for which taxes because Samer Saadeh’s request to have that be made available was denied.

The system is so corrupt that our politicians can screw us over as citizens with tax increased while providing nothing in services rendered, making sure the infrastructure we have remains horrible, and our basic rights stripped away.

Have you ever wondered if our politicians pay taxes? Have you asked yourselves why aren’t Lebanese politicians seeking office required to show us their tax returns as is the case in other countries?

Have you ever wondered why our politicians are not required to declare about their conflict of interests going into office? They literally are “voted” into their seats and find themselves rolling in the deep riches, fueling their personal businesses from tax evasion to directing governmental tenders their way. The examples are endless.

And yet, despite this all the level of apathy remains at an all time level and it is across the board.

Our politicians don’t give a shit because we’ve allowed them to be as relaxed as they are. They’ve drowned us in garbage and gotten away with it. They’ve robbed us of our election rights two times, with the third on the way, and they’ve gotten away with it. They make us live in no electricity, horrible internet and barely any running water and get away with it. They threaten our lives with having their goons do whatever they want and run unchecked, and they get away with that too. Taxes are another manifestation, and they are getting away with it too.

Just look at any poll for the fictional upcoming parliamentary elections. The same MPs that are currently representing a given caza are those leading in any done poll. Christians are happy because “bay el kell” is now in charge. Sunnis are happy because Hariri is back. The Shia are happy because no one dares tell their parties off, and the Druze are the Druze.

The Lebanese people have gotten to a “don’t give a shit” point that tax increases don’t get the same level of attention as a sexist list of reasons why you should date them, or a one year old news about their capital’s food. It shows in how our students vote in university elections, how we voted in municipal elections, how it’s still easier for us to be upset online than to do anything about it.

If only they’d taxed WhatsApp and Shisha, then something would have happened.

Lebanese Government Launches Program Allowing Anyone With Lebanese Heritage To Claim Nationality, But Not The Children Of A Lebanese Woman

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Over the past few days, and in their attempt to reconnect the massive diaspora which has any relation to Lebanon back to their great-great-great grandfather’s home country, Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants launched a new website (and an app) that allows anyone with a Lebanese forefather anywhere around the world to reclaim the Lebanese nationality.

It’s estimated that the diaspora with Lebanese origins includes approximately 7 million people in Brazil, 1.5 million in Argentina, half a million people in the United States and Colombia, among other countries.

If you go to the website (click), you’ll be greeted with all the hopeful messages about the high worth that the Lebanese citizenship bestows upon someone whose grandfather to the nth degree was Lebanese. Some random person “[remembers their] grandfather’s stories about Lebanon in the  summer – sunny days, warm nights family gatherings, singing, laughing…” because nothing says the right for nationality than to have someone enjoy a midsummer Lebanese night in Faraya.

The website is admittedly appealingly-built. You scroll down for 3 seconds and encounter a button to check whether you’re eligible or not. The eligibility criteria are as follows:

To the backdrop of a picture of a woman, you are told that you need to have a male relative be of Lebanese origins or be the wife of a Lebanese man.

In fact, to make it easier for foreigners to be tempted into trying out their luck, there’s a page which you can check to send in a request for the government to assess whether you’re eligible for the citizenship or not. In that page you’ll find requests for information going back to a great-great-great grandfather and some random uncle that you have. Grandfathers, not grandmothers. Uncles, not aunts. You’re also allowed to upload any data for further relations going way more back than that:

Of course, if you’re a woman of Lebanese heritage that doesn’t fit the patriarchal criteria, your best bet is to find a Lebanese man to marry. As you know, there are a ton of benefits involved in the Lebanese citizenship as detailed by that website.

I mean, they want to guarantee you your political rights, except you can’t vote because they won’t hold elections. They want you to be sure you can own as much land as possible, except you won’t be able to because of all the taxes they’ll throw your way. They want you to be sure you have the right for social security and benefits, except those barely work most of the time, and the list goes on.

To be honest, the only reason the Ministry wants you to become Lebanese again is to increase the number of Christians in the country and stabilize the demographic ratios again. They might as well just add a requirement for your religious background in there to stop fooling anyone.

It’s horrifying that a great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather is more relevant for someone’s nationality claim here than their actual Lebanese mother. Someone who’s a 10th generation Brazilian who has a grandfather from his father’s side who happened to be Lebanese has a claim to become a citizen, but not the children of any Lebanese woman if she marries a foreigner. Someone who has no idea where Lebanon is on a map but who happens to have a Lebanese great-great grandfather can now become a Lebanese citizen, but not the children of a woman who is an actual Lebanese woman.

I’m all for someone who has a rightful claim for the Lebanese citizenship to get it back. It is their constitutional right, after all. But what kind of rights are we talking about here when more half of our country can’t even be included in it? I didn’t know Lebanese nationalities were encoded in the genetic makeup of sperms but not ova.

This program isn’t a disgrace in itself. Our nationality laws are, and it’s high time they change – especially now that there’s a few million Brazilians, Columbians, Argentinians, and what have you, who have no clue what Lebanon is that can suddenly find themselves becoming Lebanese.

Lebanon’s Government Is Adding 22 Taxes To Fund The National Budget, Politicians Are Keeping Their Salaries & Benefits Unchanged

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Lebanon hasn’t had a national budget since 2005. That is our country has been run totally à la laisser faire for the past 12 years. And then comes 2017, when out of all years, our politicians decide they absolutely must pass a national budget when they should be passing an electoral law first.

Part of the national budget to be passed is the wage raise that has been demanded by multiple sectors of the workforce for years. It was promised to them a few years ago when the protests and strikes first began. And even though it’s been years since that promise was made, a huge portion of Lebanon’s workforce still didn’t get what was promised to it.

So in order to fund the wage increase, our government needs further sources of income which can only be through forcing more taxes on the Lebanese citizen. As reported by Lebanon 24, there will be 22 taxes to be added in the national budget of which these are the most prominent:

  1. Increasing VTA from 10% to 11%, which adds 300 billion LL in revenue,
  2. Increasing the price of stamps on phone bills to 2500LL lira which provides 60 billion LL in revenue,
  3. Increasing the price of stamps on judicial records from 2000LL to 4000LL which provides 1.2 billion LL.
  4. Increasing the price of stamps on receipts from 100LL to 250LL which provides 45 billion LL.
  5. Doubling the fees of public notaries, which adds 30 billion LL.
  6. Increasing taxes on cement production which adds 50 billion LL.
  7. Modifying taxes on income and revenues to add 60 billion LL.
  8. Increasing taxes on alcohol to add 60 billion LL.
  9. Adding a 1.5% tax on construction licenses to add 100 billion LL.
  10. Enforcing taxes on passengers leaving the country, whether through land or sea or air, to add 125 billion LL.

In fact, that last tax will also be proportional to your travel class. For anyone traveling more than 1250km to their final destination, a tax will be enforced as follows:

  • 75,000LL for every passenger in economy class,
  • 110,000LL for every passenger in business class,
  • 150,000LL for every passenger in first class,
  • 400,000LL for every passenger in a private plane.

Will that private plane tax apply to our politicians who use their private jets for transport? Let’s wait and see. In fact, how does it even make sense that an economy passenger is going to pay nearly the same tax as a person in business class and only half of the tax that a passenger in first class pays?

It seems even our travels, which cost us a lot more than they should in visa fees because of the horrendous state of our passports, are open season for our government to make it even more expensive and harder for us to leave. $50 is not a joke for frequent travelers or for anyone who had to save up everything that they could to afford ticket prices in a country where that very government has made sure the market is monopolized by one airline carrier.

In fact, while our government passes taxes left and right, on top of new traffic fines, to fund its budget, one thing remains constant, if not increasing: how much our politicians are benefitting from all of this.

Instead of looking inwards at current entities that are government-owned and which could end up generating a ton of money, the Lebanese government looked outward towards its citizens instead. A few weeks ago, MTV Lebanon reported on the current state of Beirut’s Duty free, from which the government only made $20 million over the past decade. The contract in question was with a company owned by a former prime minister. The potential money that the government could have made had the contract for the duty free been fair would’ve been more than what it will make because of the tax increases.

In fact, despite the government needing astronomical amounts of money to fund the wage increase, our politicians are not touching their wages and increases. When other countries such as Greece or Jordan faced similar economical predicaments, their politicians took a wage and benefits cut to help.

Meanwhile, in the land of the Cedars, this is how much money our politicians get in monthly salaries:

  • The president: monthly salary of 18,750,000 Lebanese Liras (LL) ($12,500) –> LL 225,000,000 $150,000 annually.
  • The parliamentary speaker and prime minister: LL 17,737,000 ($11,824) a month –> LL212,844,000 million – $141,896 annually.
  • Each minister: LL12,937,000 ($8,625) a month —> (LL212,844,000 – $103,496 annually).
  • Each MP: LL12,750,000 ($8,500) a month —> (LL153,000,000 – $102,000).

That means our parliament and government costs us $16 million per year in salaries alone. On top of that $16 million figure is a $12 million figure, at the most conservative of estimates, in benefits, for a total of $28 million.

The money waste for our politicians not to do their job doesn’t stop there. A former MP receives 50% of his salary AND benefits for life if he serves one term. If he serves two terms, he gets 60% of that figure for life, and 75% if he serves 3 terms are more. The money that that translates to is about $20 million yearly.

In summary, that’s almost $50 million yearly that we’re already paying for politicians who don’t want it to be affected in any way whatsoever, while they make life for every Lebanese harder than it already is. That money is untouchable.

Keep in mind that the $50 million figure does not include what they make through all the ways they can use their governmental clout to make money via their private business, starting from running governmental run agencies like Beirut Airport’s Duty Free, to many other things.

The state of Lebanese complacency is reaching all-time highs: politicians can rob us of our money, provide nothing in return, rob us of our right to vote because they’re incompetent, and still be sure they’re going to be voted in whenever they let the people vote again.

Read the full new tax law here.

Celebrating The Progress Lebanese Women Have Made In The Fight For Their Rights

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I long for a day when we don’t need days like “International Women’s Day” to remind the world that its halves are not equal, or when March 8 is the day for fancy slogans before everyone goes back on March 9th to their old ways.

Today, I want to celebrate the entirety of the women in my country who, for years, have risen up to the patriarchy and fought for their rights with everything they’ve got. It’s hard to imagine that some of the rights Lebanese women have today were fiction less than a few decades ago. Hindsight is always 20/20 in how intuitive some things are, as the struggle to obtain them fades from memory.

But our women’s struggles for equality was difficult, and it will remain as such for years to come as long as we have politicians who joke about their rape, about their being, about their bodies, and who view them as nothing more than commodities to stay at home, and as even some women bring up hurdles for their own advancement.

Here’s how far our women have come:

  • In 1952, they gained the right to vote and to run for office.
  • In 1959, they gained equality in inheritance for non-Muslim sects.
  • In 1960, they gained the right to choose their nationality.
  • In 1975, they gained the right for freedom of movement. 
  • In 1983, they gained the right not to be prosecuted for using contraception.
  • In 1987, they gained the right to unify end of service age between men and woman in social security.
  • In 1993, they gained the right to obtain degrees in real estate.
  • In 1994, they gained the right to stay in the diplomatic course if they marry a foreigner.
  • In 1996, they scored a victory with Lebanon signing the international decree to abolish gender inequality.
  • In 2011, they were victorious in abolishing article 562, related to Honor crimes.
  • In 2014, they were victorious in having parliament pass a law protecting from domestic abuse.
  • In 2014, they were victorious in modifying the laws pertaining to maternity leave.
  • In 2016, they were victorious in abolishing article 522, which allowed their rapist to be absolved of his crime if he offered marriage.

The struggle never ends. It’s not enough for a president to say he supports gender equality, as President Aoun did today. Talk without action never amounts to anything.

Our women still can’t pass their nationality to their children. They are governed with a personal status law that stems from religious law, which views them as the second sex in ranking. They don’t have representatives quota in public office. They can’t open bank accounts for their children without the consent of their father, or even travel with their children without the approval of their father while it’s not the case the other way around. Their daughters as young as 9 can legally be married. They’re still victims of the male gaze that seems them as nothing more than raw meat, and of a patriarchal system that scrutinizes them more than any man, among many more things.

I will probably never understand how violated women would feel in their own skin, in their own gender, because of the discomfort that many people of my gender puts them in, but I will sure as hell fight tooth and nail for that reality to change for every Lebanese woman out there, every day, and not just on March 8th.

The struggle is real. You’ve been victorious. And here’s to many more victories.

 

Lebanese Parliament Is Going To Extend Its Term A 3rd Time. We Last Voted In 2009. It’s 2017. Bass Hek.

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They want you to be busy with Myriam Klink, while they ignore the fact they should have come up with an election law 8 years ago.

They want you to be busy with their attempts to make you poorer, while they ignore the fact that they are demolishing the deadlines for the parliamentary election coming up this May.

They want you to be overwhelmed with all the hurdles they throw at you, so you are too preoccupied from standing up to the neo-dictatorship they’ve turned this country into by being so incompetent, so horribly bad, and so disgustingly unfit to serve you as citizens.

They want to blind you with them ordering delivery from apps, and bicycle lanes to feign modernity.

They want to fool you with biometric passports thinking we’re going up.

They want you to be grateful they’ve maintained stability, grateful that you have them, as they take us as citizens for granted every single day.

So here’s our wake up call:

We have not voted for parliament since 2009.

The last time Lebanon went this long without elections was when we had a civil war. This time, there’s no war. There’s simply horrendous incompetence and corruption and utter disregard for the constitution and our rights.

People of my generation have never ever cast a vote for parliament. I can’t even hold my politicians accountable because they don’t let me under the guise of “fair representation.” Here’s a news alert for you, our disgusting politicians: representation will never be fair if, you know, elections are never held in the first place.

And parliament will extend its mandate for the third time in a row, because they can’t agree on an electoral law, because they don’t care about agreeing on a law in the first place, because us having the basic right to vote is the least of their concern.

But please, Lebanon, if they ever let you vote, just don’t vote for them?

Wikipedia Saves Mauritanian From Deportation At Beirut Airport: Border Officer Didn’t Know His Country Was Arab

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At the Arab League Summit last year, the biggest scandal wasn’t how Arabs couldn’t get their business together (as usual) to set a path in solving the many problems facing their countries, but how the Lebanese delegation completely humiliated itself and the country it’s representing.

Instead of being thankful for the host country, the Lebanese delegation complained about their infrastructure, because as you know Lebanon leads the way in that regard. They were appalled how Nouakchott didn’t have 5 star hotels for them to be hosted in, devastated at how the summit was being held in a tent, and completely beyond themselves that they had to go through that, in yet another episode of the tough life of a Lebanese politician.

So to make it work, they charged the Lebanese taxpayer to host them in Morocco for the night, then have them travel to Nouakchott the following day for the Summit before leaving Mauritania. The host country then responded in a scathing news report.

But it seems that our streak with insulting Mauritania and its people continues when one of Maurtania’s top and most controversial journalists for his calls for a secular non-Islamic state in his country, Hanevy Dahah, landed in Beirut’s airport.

As our border control personnel flipped through his passport, he was asked about his entry visa, to which Hanevy replied that Mauritania is an Arab country whose citizens can enter Lebanon without a visa if they have $2000 on them as well as a round-trip ticket, emphasizing that Middle East Airlines, Lebanon’s official airlines, wouldn’t have brought him in hadn’t they made sure he fulfilled the requirements to enter Lebanese soil.

The border control officer was not satisfied with the answer, and he referred Hanevy to another officer who was not convinced that Mauritania is an Arab country to which the rules Mr. Dahah illustrated actually applied. A discussion among our airport’s border control officers ensued about whether Mauritania was, in fact, an Arab country or not, to which a senior officer decided, after being racist towards Hanevy because of the darker color of his skin, that Mauritania wasn’t Arab and wanted to deport Hanevy.

A few moments later, the second officer who had decided Mauritania wasn’t an Arab country went on Wikipedia, came back to her superior and informed him of her findings to which the superior replied: “oh right, they added it to the list of Arab countries recently.”

Hanevy was eventually permitted entry to Lebanon.

I guess a good part of Beirut’s border protection officers missed out on that 7th grade geography lession, which is then repeated yearly until graduation, that: “موريتانيا دولة عربية وعاصمتها نواكشوط.”

It’s unacceptable for a citizen of any country, let alone those of which we are ignorant about, to have to go through what Hanevy did. Mr. Dahah was lucky enough one of the officers doubted her pre-conceptions enough to search for the information online. But shouldn’t there be a database for our border officers to check the requirements of entry for a country’s citizens based on who issued their passports? This is gross incompetence, and reflects badly on the Lebanese government and the state of Beirut’s airport.

At a time when our officers would have no issue whatsoever letting Westerners in without any ounce of vetting, it’s horrible that some people from countries that many Lebanese would view themselves as being superior to have to go through what Hanevy Dahah did.

How can we, as Lebanese, be up in arms that our own citizens might face discrimination and ignorance in American and European airports when some of our officers are doing worse to citizens who have the full legal right to enter our country?

But thanks Wikipedia, saving people from deportation and helping people graduate from college since 2001.