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Photos from the explosion in Achrafieh

Here are some photos of the aftermath of the explosion that erupted a while ago near Sassine square in Achrafieh. I’ll try adding more photos as I get them from my twitter timeline.

Update:

As you probably all know by now, the ISF intelligence chief Wissam Al-Hassan was killed in this explosion.

Update:

You can check the BBC website and reddit for more high resolution photos.

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Found me? Scan me!

A good friend of mine created this website called “Found me? Scan me!” aimed at helping people avoid losing their valuable items by using QR codes, and I thought of sharing it with you.

The idea is quite simple, you stick a QR code on the items that matter to you the most (camera, laptop, bag…) so that it becomes easier for people who might find that item to contact you and give it back in case you ever lost it. I know this is not guaranteed to work 100% since it all depends on how good people are, but it definitely increases the chances of recovering a lost item!

The idea of “found me? scan me!” started for my own personal use. I needed a way to maximize the chances in recovering a lost item.

If I am to lose my phone, for example, I can simply call it hoping that someone found it and would return it back or I can even track it using its built-in GPS features. But what if I lost another kind of items? Camera, bag, luggage, key chain, dog… you name it!

That’s where “Found me? Scan me!” comes into play, the idea is very simple: I stick/attach a QR code on every valuable item that would direct the person who scanned it to a dedicated web-page through which I can be contacted. This would save me the need to make my phone number and/or email publicly.

I very quickly found a lot of interest in the idea among friends and family who started asking me for tags and, in no time, we had more than 50 items in the database. At this point I got “found me? scan me!” it’s own domain name and decided to make it public and free to use to whoever might finds it interesting.

For more information on how this all work and a tutorial on how to create your QR codes, check “Found me? Scan me!” website.

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Direct flights to resume between Lebanon and the US?

According to this article from Al-Akhbar, Mohamad El-Hout (The CEO of MEA) is now working to convince the American authorities to remove the ban on MEA that was imposed in 1985 following the hijacking of a TWA plane at Beirut airport.

Aridi and Hout requested the resumption of air transport relations between Lebanon and the United States. One expert familiar with the issue said, “Hout went seeking US recognition of Beirut Airport’s ability, and the adequacy of its safety standards, to receive American airplanes and fly MEA planes to the United States.”

There has been an American ban on MEA since the hijacking of a TWA American passenger plane at Beirut Airport in 1985. Following this incident, the airport was put on the US terror list. MEA flights were banned from US airports and American airliners no longer flew to the airport in Lebanon.

The expert revealed that Hout took detailed files on MEA and Beirut airport to the DoT in America, including information on public safety standards at the airport, the technology used in this regard, as well as current capabilities and other related information. The DoT officials were satisfied with the information Aridi and Hout provided about the Lebanese carrier and the airport.

Telling by the actions Hout is taking, I wouldn’t be surprised if flights really resume some time in the near future. Given of course that politics will have nothing to do with the matter…

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Maha Abdel Wahab – “The sex singer”

Apparently Maha Abdel Wahab was the “Haifa Wehbe” of the 60’s who no one told us about!

I don’t know from which Lebanese newspaper/magazine was this ad taken. I spotted it on Antique Arabia’s page on Facebook.

Thanks to Doha Frhat.

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Cart advertising at TSC

I noticed the other day that TSC mounted some LCD screens on their shopping carts to display advertisements while people are using them.

No matter how hard you try to ignore them, these screens keep on vibrating every once in a while to grab your attention… They’re so annoying and I hope they lose them anytime soon, unless they add an option to play Angry Birds while your wife takes her time checking every single isle in the supermarket!

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Have you seen Rex?

Spotted in Hamra.

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Grendizer figurine at Le Mall Dbayyeh

I was surprised to spot this small Grendizer figurine selling at Joué Club in Le Mall Dbayyeh along with a Grendizer mug and keychain. I mean I’m sure kids nowadays have no idea what Grendizer is all about.

Anyway, I bet they’ll make a cool gift idea to people who used to watch it religiously back in the 80’s and 90’s like me. The figurine was selling for 39,000L.L, the mug for 19,000L.L but I don’t recall for how much exactly was the keychain.

 

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Red Bull Stratos Mission

Watch Felix Baumgartner going supersonic while attempting the highest sky-dive ever from an altitude of 37km over New Mexico. (More about this mission here)

He’ll be jumping in around 30 minutes from the time of publishing this post and you can watch him live on the below YouTube channel or on Red Bull Stratos website.

It definitely has nothing to do with Tabbouleh and Falafel, but this record setting attempt is definitely worth watching!

Update:

The mission has unfortunately been delayed till 8:30PM Beirut time due to the weather conditions. You can follow the Red Bull Stratos website for any updates.

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New album for Fayrouz?

Let’s hope this is true. Al-Anba (A Kuwaiti newspaper) posted today that Fayrouz will soon be releasing a new album and is currently busy choosing the songs to be included in it.

I also hope she holds a concert in parallel as I still have never watched Fayrouz performing live, and totally regretted missing the opportunity to do so in the last few years at BIEL and Pleatea.

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Racism at Beirut International Airport

Check out this racism incident that a guy called Abed Shaheen has witnessed at Beirut International Airport yesterday and shared on Facebook.

Racism at Beirut Airport! My personal hands-on experience.

Yesterday on the 6th of October I was at gate 11 with a friend of mine waiting to board the Air Arabia flight at 20:25.

While waiting to board there was a group of foreign workers sitting with the rest of the passengers waiting for their turn. They were behaving normally as any other group of passengers would. Then sadly, the lady (looking at her uniform she apparently works for MEA Ground Services and not Air Arabia) at the gate announced on loud speaker (over the whole system covering the airport) the following: “Filipino people stop talking”; then she started giggling about it with the macho gentleman who was with her at the gate. They continued their racist behavior by announcing again “Filipino Nepal people talking not allowed here” and on and on.

Shocked, I obviously became furious and approached them and explained that this racist and discriminatory behavior is not acceptable, impolite and does not at the least reflect what employees at Beirut Airport should stand for (not to imply it’s acceptance in any other situation of course).

This unfortunately sounded like a joke to them and they went on to say “we do whatever we want and we don’t care about what you are saying”, then “management doesn’t even want this kind of people on the flight” and “even if you complain this will be thrown away and we dare you to do anything about it”. When I asked her “how would you feel if you ever wanted to travel to Europe and while queuing for your visa they told you the same thing?”, she replied “these people are different”; The macho gentleman seeing that his female friend, whom he was trying so hard to impress with his imitating giggles, was cornered with her twisted racist logic even went further to ask me to back off the counter and threatening to make a problem and to void my ticket!!

When I asked for the complaint form they answered (While still laughing of course) “take it from the flight attendants and good luck sitting next to such people on the flight” I did file an official complaint with Air Arabia and their staff was very helpful and promised to reach the message out to their management. However Air Arabia is paying MEAG for such services and they need to use their power to do greater efforts too to ensure that the people behind this are held accountable. I also sent an email today to Mr. Richard Mujais from MEAG, explaining what happened and asked him to further discuss this with me and to show us that these employees were held accountable for such racist behavior.

Until then, and as a friend suggested that they also need to be exposed please help me exposing such intolerable behavior…

What a shame…

Update:

MEA posted the following response on their Facebook page yesterday:

To our loyal customers and fans,

We are aware of the purported incident that took place on the 6th October 2012 at Beirut International Airport, and appreciate your patience while a full investigation by MEA is underway. Please rest assured that MEAs policy is not to tolerate discriminatory or racist behavior in any form from our employees, and that appropriate measures will be taken once the facts of the incident are brought to light.

Yours sincerely,
The MEA Team

And the story made it to BBC Arabic!

Update:

MEA issued a second statement today announcing that severe disciplinary actions have been taken against the involved staff in this incident.

To our loyal fans and customers,

Having investigated the issue that occurred on the 6th October, 2012 at Rafik Hariri Intl. Airport – Beirut, which involved misbehavior by a MEAG (subsidiary of MEA) passenger service agent, we would like to issue the following statement.

This type of behavior represents an isolated case, and is 100% against MEA’s policy.

It does not fit within MEA’s culture, and furthermore goes contrary to our training procedures.

Severe disciplinary action has been taken against the staff concerned.

Kindly rest assured that our goal is to attain the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Yours sincerely,

The MEA Team

It was mentioned in an article by the Associated Press that the woman was fired and a disciplinary action was being considered against her male colleague.

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