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.

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Screw Lebanese Media

Tripoli Sheikh

 

The above sheikh was hosted on NewTV earlier tonight to talk on behalf of the people of Tripoli. I guess that city ran out of spokespeople over the past few days so the TV station in question figured digging this creature up from the depth of whatever abyss he was in was a good idea. Ratings are proportional to beards.

Note that this sheikh is said not to even be from Tripoli and has not been residing there all his life to get to talk on the city’s behalf.

This man spoke about the need for self-security for himself and his fellow Sunnis of Tripoli. Did the TV station in question even bother to target this rhetoric? Of course they didn’t. This is the rhetoric they want being spewed around their airwaves lately. This is what gets people talking. This is what gets people to tune in. Of course, this is precisely the rhetoric that also gets people killed and further explosions taking place and extremism rising. But who cares about that, right?

In the process of his TV moment of fame, this creature also asked for the help and support of Al Qaeda in protecting the people of Tripoli. I’ll leave that notion hanging.

There’s a responsibility for Lebanese media to kill off such eccentrics in times when such extremism is not only unhealthy but detrimental to the well-being of everything around us. Does hate exist? Sure it does. Do people who mean harm for others just because they think differently exist? Sure they do. But it doesn’t mean we should give them air time to poison minds. You only needed to tune into FutureTV on Saturday with Paula Yaacoubian or MTV hosting Khaled el Daher as well, for the nth time, yesterday for your prime examples.

Our TV stations are still searching for the next big scoop instead of being mature and responsible in handling what seems to be an impeding civil war.

PS: If you think my blog titles have a lot of “screw” lately, it’s because we’re in a general state of screwing.

The Geitawi Pedophile “Monster”

It is widely believed that incidents of child molestation are not really present in Lebanon. The reality, though, is that most of them go hidden for years. It might be because as a society, we forcefully turn a blind eye to such elements that may be very flagrant in front of us.

The last time child molestation made headlines was with an instructor at renowned private school. The issue has now made headlines again with a 28 year old man who has been doing so for 14 years in Geitawi, a part of Achrafieh.

There is a sense of tragedy in thinking of the lives of all the children this man has maimed and ruined. The innocence he has taken from them will have a lasting, albeit repairable, effect on their lives.
And it’s precisely that: these children can easily be helped.
The man in question has triggered countless red flags along the 14 years he spent doing his deed. And yet, no one ever thought of intervening apparently.

1) The man in question was discharged from the military back in 2007 for violent sexual conduct. That would make him 22 year old at the time. Didn’t it cross anyone’s mind to refer him to some psychological help? Doesn’t our army have anyone to council them for any PTSD, which has probably become recurrent lately?

2) The man in question was also reported to be the victim of sexual abuse himself when he was a child. I highly doubt this is new information. It never crossed anyone’s mind that such a childhood trauma would have an ever lasting impact on a person’s being?

3) The man has also been “active” for 14 years. That would make him 14 at the time things had started. I find it extremely hard to assume that there was absolutely nothing that ticked off anyone to any odd behavior he might have had back then.

There is an equally tragic aspect of this story, however, in the cluelessness and utter unprofessionalism with which Lebanese media is reporting on the issue. Of course, “monster” brings much more attention than trying to actually address the issue. Instead, we are met with attention-grabbing headlines and empty content: from baseless psychoanalytical theories to give some science cred to a journalist’s piece down to publishing pictures of the man, along with his name.

I’m not justifying what the man did as anything remotely acceptable. It’s not. It’s sick and revolting.

But what’s also not acceptable is for such incidences not to serve as a way to educate parents on signs that something wrong might be happening with their children in order to intervene before it’s too late.
Instead, we are met with gossip-like handling of the issues simply because it is believed this is what people want.

Pedophilia falls under a subset of sexual disorders called paraphilia which are related to culturally unacceptable sexual activities which cause the individual severe distress. This may not apply to this Achrafieh “monster” if his actions didn’t cause him distress. But I’m also tempted to believe that the “monster” he is today is the byproduct of his experiences as a child, which nobody even cared about. And I’m also willing to bet that many of us would have felt sorry for that child at some point in his life before the lack of help turned him into the “monster” grabbing headlines he is today.

The Sleepless Nights of Lebanon’s Tripoli

If you go by the geography they teach at Lebanese schools, you are taught that Tripoli is the second biggest city of Lebanon and the capital of its Northern governorate.

The geography they taught us at school also enumerated the numerous economic riches that Tripoli boasted: its port, its proximity to the border, etc….

The civics course they gave us at school tells us about the numerous touristic advantages of the city of Tripoli: its castle, its old souks….

The sociology they taught us at school mentioned how Tripoli has one of Lebanon’s poorest regions on its outskirts. It’s mentioned only fleetingly, like something we can’t wait to bury under a pile of blissful ignorance as if it’ll make everything okay.

If you look at the latest events taking place in the country, you’d think our Northern border is not at “Al 3arida” but at Balamand. You’d think those Lebanese people of Tripoli have been annexed to the Syrian war. You’d think that this Lebanese city that many find too easy to hate is no longer Lebanese – just a burden that we can’t wait to get rid of. Let’s return it to pre-1920 days when it wasn’t part of our favorite part of Lebanon, Mount Lebanon.

My friends in Tripoli haven’t been sleeping lately. But you’re not hearing about that. You’re not hearing about the explosions going off at any moment, the bullets piercing through the silent December nights. You’re not hearing about the people dying, the children getting shot.

You’re not hearing about the people like you and me cowering away at a corner of their house all night in fear that one of those stray bullets might do them in.

It seems as if our Lebanese media has washed its hands from Tripoli. That city is just not worth the coverage – it’s a “been there done that” type of things. They’ve covered similar incidences there before. What’s the use of covering them now? It might go well with their policy of “let’s show only the good side of Lebanon for the world in order to save the Christmas tourist season.”

Our politicians couldn’t care less as well – as long as they get their share of votes next year. This city, which has one prime minister, four ministers and a bunch of MPs, has no one to speak on its behalf. It only has people who preach about what should take place as they sit in gilded seats somewhere far, far away.

“We condone the presence of arms in the city.” You often hear say. And what will your condemnation really do, mr. politician, while you’re the one secretly buying your people weapons in order to fuel the struggle that you know will bring you loads of returns in a few months’ time?

I am not from Tripoli. But Tripoli is one of my favorite cities in this God-forsaken country. It saddens me to see ignorants portray my friends as a bunch of Islamists who deserve whatever’s happening to their home. It saddens me to have people panic beyond their minds how I had to drop off a friend in Tripoli around midnight a couple of days ago. It saddens me that with each passing day, Tripoli is stripped from the identity of a city where Muslims and Christians lived side by side for years and is portrayed as a place where the next Islamists Emirate will start from.

When it comes to Tripoli, the majority of Lebanese have one thing to say: “On n’est pas concernĂ©.”

Some Arabs Need To Get A Grip On Their Egos

I stumbled upon a very interesting article online yesterday, written by Robert Fisk, that discussed mainly how the “Arab Awakening” did not start with Tunisia in December 2010 but with Lebanon in March 2005.

So I shared this article via my twitter page with my friend Ali, whom I knew believed in the idea the article discussed.

Soon enough, I started to receive tweets about how we, as Lebanese, have a false sense of grandeur, how we are “insecure buffoons”, how our pride blinds us, how we claim fake glory, how Lebanon inspires no one, etc…

I wouldn’t naturally reply to such things, but I did reply, only to get even worse tweets about how we, as Lebanese, are basically nothing.

Even some of the comments on some YouTube videos online basically say how ridiculous Lebanon is to run a show like Star Academy while the region is busy running revolutions.

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Born This Way – Lady Gaga


Listen to Lady Gaga’s new single here:

Lady Gaga – Born This Way by gagadaily

Get the song on iTunes now.

My thoughts on the song:

After a few listens, it catches on. But that’s how it’s always been with me and Gaga’s songs. The only instantaneous ones were “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance”.

The lyrics are pretty great. I do not agree with those saying that this is a gay anthem. Sure, some parts of the lyrics can be interpreted that way but they can also symbolize any struggling person. The song is an empowering anthem to everyone who has ever felt teased or bullied, regardless of race or sexual orientation.

I understand that Lady Gaga is considered an icon for the gay community. But this doesn’t mean that a song about embracing who you are is directed at that community, exclusively. Many people struggle with their identity in this world where the media paints a certain identity that we should all follow. This song tells us that whoever we are is just enough because that’s the way God made us. The beauty of music in general is that it transcends cultural boundaries. I am Lebanese and find that the part where she references me describes what my country and I go through on almost daily basis.

Now, leaving the philosophical interpretations alone, I have to say that I actually felt that a slower tempo would have given the song more justice. After reading the lyrics, and regardless of what had been said that this would be an uptempo, I thought the best way to represent those lyrics would be on a piano. Lady Gaga does very good renditions of her songs acoustically so maybe she’ll start off her Grammy performance like that on Sunday?

Regardless of what I personally think of the song, it has already hit #1 in the iTunes store of 23 countries. It has broken Britney Spears’ record for first-day radio spins in the United States. The only thing that’s sure is that Lady Gaga is nowhere near done. You might like it, you might hate it… either way, you are living with it.