Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nominate Beirut for Monopoly World Edition Cities

Monopoly is creating a new edition of its famous Game.

They are recruiting votes for the top 20 Cities in the world to form the new Monopoly World Gameboard and Oh shame of shames, Beirut is not even listed!

Lebanese all over are scrambling to nominate Beirut, as their favorite city for all what it symbolizes, to be included in the votes ...

What do you think? Should Beirut be included in the Monopoly game?? :)

Invite all your friends to join, and go to

1- Register

2- Nominate "Beirut" in the box in the bottom of the screen


Nominations end on Feb 29, 2008.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Misleading the world about Lebanese politics

Misleading the world about Lebanese politics
By Marc J Sirois
Daily Star staff

FIRST PERSON By Marc J. Sirois

Only a complete fool would expect Western media outlets to consistently provide full, fair and well-informed coverage of any Arab country, let alone Lebanon. Even for a partial fool like myself, though, it is nonetheless surprising and disappointing when some of them fail even to try. The latest opportunity came Wednesday night after the leader of Hizbullah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, and the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), MP Michel Aoun, appeared on television together to mark the second anniversary of their alliance. The joint interview, taped earlier and broadcast by the FPM's Orange TV, ran for more than three hours, itself a foreign concept for Western audiences accustomed to hearing politicians in 10-second sound-bites.

More to the point, in the current Lebanese context of politics via captured media, the interview qualified as a major news event. It might have been a canned performance that fulfilled expectations of Nasrallah's charisma and erudition causing him to outshine his ally, but given the nature of their relationship and the rarity of the Hizbullah leader's public appearances these days, it more than merited substantial coverage. So how did the wire agencies keep their customers informed about the matter? On this occasion, the best of the lot was a dispatch of about 450 words that got the most important stuff right: It emphasized that Nasrallah was joined by a "Christian ally;" it explained that they and their partners want veto power in the next government in order to protect themselves; and it reported that while the opposition retains a positive view of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), it wants the investigation into the shooting deaths of several protesters on January 27 to be "serious and decisive."

Unfortunately, this article had been preceded by one from another service that mostly missed the point. The piece carried no overt bias, but it got bogged down on a single issue; that of Hizbullah's stance on the probe of the shootings and how this might affect the consensus presidential candidacy of the LAF's commander, General Michel Suleiman. What is more, it made no effort at all to mention the reason for the interview, namely the anniversary of a historic alliance between the Shiite leader of Lebanon's largest party and the head of the biggest Christian bloc in Lebanon's Parliament. In fact, Aoun was mentioned only in the very last sentence, which dismissed him as "a Christian leader who is part of the opposition alliance."

Even this was better than what a third agency did: For about 18 hours, one of the largest providers of information on the planet was completely silent on a key development in a country whose travails have far-reaching implications for the entire region. Then it made me wish the silence had not been broken. While mentioning that Aoun was part of the interview, this article also made no mention of the occasion, instead dwelling almost exclusively on Nasrallah's comments on the summer 2006 war with Israel - and maintaining an air of thinly veiled hostility toward the cleric's organization.

Specifically, the sayyed referred to the final report on the conflict recently released by the Israeli government's Winograd Commission. While under no illusions that the authors of the document intended to do his group a service, Nasrallah said it supported his contentions that Hizbullah won the war and that the Jewish state had been planning to attack for months. Regarding the second point, the agency stated that Nasrallah "gave no evidence to back up his claim." It would take a battery of super-computers to handle the increased electronic traffic if the agency in question were to add the same caveat every time a political figure made a similarly unsubstantiated assertion(think Bush and his buddies before the Iraq war). But it does not do so, because the purpose of the phrase is not to inform the reader but rather to mislead him or her by impugning the credibility of the speaker. So when one of Nasrallah's domestic or foreign detractors makes the fabulist charge that a general strike or a public demonstration called by his group is a "coup d'etat," no one applies this standard of "evidence." If they did, they might have to note the judgment of many analysts that if Hizbullah were to undertake the violent overthrow of Lebanon's government and no outside power intervened, Lebanon's government would be violently overthrown. Regarding the "pre-planning" theory, Nasrallah is hardly alone in subscribing to it- and there is strong circumstantial evidence to support it. For one thing, the notion dovetails nicely with a central tenet of the neoconservative militarism that has guided the Middle East policy of Israel's number one ally, the United States, since 2001: the idea that Arab and Muslim forces opposed to Israeli and American hegemony can and should be "taken off the board." For another, there are very few governments that would launch a full-scale war over the capture of two soldiers and the deaths of a few more. There is also the fact that the troops involved were reservists: There is an argument to be made that only an ignorant cretin or a Machiavellian genius would send anything but his best troops to guard a border as tense as that between Lebanon and Israel. No one has ever accused Israel's then-defense minister, Amir Peretz, of possessing intellectual gifts (especially when it comes to matters martial), but that might simply have made him a perfect scapegoat for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - who is widely known as a highly skilled political operator.

We may never know if the war was a case of the Israelis' springing a trap a few months early, but to brush off the argument that they did is to ignore a considerable number of facts. On the plus side, at least the agency in question seems to have stopped referring to Nasrallah as "the black-turbaned cleric." Digressions of a partial fool aside, no one is demanding that Western news providers constantly pad their copy with exhaustive explanations of how what is now Lebanon has been caught up in the struggles of larger powers for millennia. It would be nice, though, if they would manage generally to provide a little relevant context to their reportage and to refrain from poisoning their copy with a noxious brew of double standards and insinuated slander.

Marc J. Sirois is managing editor of THE DAILY STAR.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

"I order you to come back"

I used to be a beautiful city… Some people say I’m still as beautiful as I was before... I don’t like me anymore… I scare my kids away… I kill my people unintentionally… I starve them to death… I even turn some of their brightest days to a funeral in a split of a second…

Every day I stand there, waving to all these people, mostly young, leaving on these big things so called airplanes… Jealousy kills me, knowing that they will go and enjoy grocery shopping in a street I’ve never heard of, smiling to a stranger who doesn’t even know where their country is… Working hard and becoming successful… I wish they could be here with me, becoming successful with me… I feel helpless without them, thousands and thousands leave, few come back while I sit waiting and waiting and waiting…

A girl came to me the other day, young and beautiful… Wearing that white dress made her look like an angel. Stood at the “Corniche” with a coffee in her hand… She was staring at the sea with words coming out of her eyes

“I miss you Beirut
I miss your weather
Miss your sea breeze
Miss staring at you at night from my bedroom balcony… when the world is sleeping and there is only you and I
Miss feeling loved
Miss belonging to you
Miss feeling the security…
You don’t know how hard it is to wake up every morning wondering if your parents or friends are ok, until you read the news and make few phone calls in case there was an explosion… Try harder Beirut… ”

Tears filled my eyes and anger filled my heart… Didn’t know what to say to comfort her!
My body is heavy and scattered, my land enjoys blood and every now and then one of my vein explodes and many of my innocent kids die… I can’t help it... I try...

“I want to come back and live here Beirut, next to my family, next to my dad and brother… I want to raise my kids in Beirut, just the way I was raised… Never knew the difference between a Muslim, a Christian Or a Jew… never heard about terrorism… Want my kids to grow up on discipline, respect, beliefs, freedom… and mostly integrity. What happened to you Beirut? You’re no longer the same…

I turned and left, didn’t want to hear her anymore… She kept calling me but I never answered... She broke my heart, only because she was telling me the truth! I’m no longer Beirut she once enjoyed when she was 4… They took my magic away…

Ashamed I am… I starve my people to death, I have no shelter for them anymore, no security, no love among each other… I’m in pain , I want to endure more, maybe, maybe someday my people will understand the pain I’m going thru and help me stand instead of walking all over me… I don’t blame them, they are hungry and poor…

She left on one of those big things so called airplanes few days later, sad she looked back at me hoping to come back and see me at least in the same condition, but we both knew it was not the case, I screamed and screamed hoping for her to hear me …

I order you to come back… Yes I can’t promise you security but I promise you that you and me can make it together, come back and bring all those people who once left… because I miss them, miss their faces and their laughs… Come back and fight for me, clean my body from rotten creatures, change the world for me, help me stand… I can’t do it alone.

I’m your city
I’m your mother
I’m your child
I’m Beirut

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