Friday, September 11, 2009

تعتب عمين؟

بيكفي لف ودوران وتضييع ساعات وإيام

رح يضلو يقولو تكلف سعد وقعد سعد وقام

غير ما يروح عالشام ، ما في حكومة وئام

فشرّف صوب الجماعة، تيسقوك كاسة جلاب

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ramadan Drama

Following Ramadan TV dramas requires too much commitment. You have to reserve a certain hour of your evening for that specific purpose and you can't take any days off not even weekends until the end of the month. IF that's not feasible you have to look elsewhere for your Drama fix. The justice page in Al-Akhbar has been catering to those deprived of TV Ramadan dramas. Take the saga of Abboudi Al Ammouri for example.

Yesterday his father, Fayez Al-Ammouri, went to report this 12 year old kid from Mekseh, Zahleh missing. So the police are on it, ad we hope they find this this missing child. You don't have to wait long to discover the fate of Abboudi.
If you scroll down to the 5h news item on the SAME page of Al-Akhbar there is a report that an ocean rescue unit was called to the Qab Elias lake, just next to Mekseh, to retrieve a body after it was CONFIRMED that Abdul Hay Fayez Al Ammouri, aged 12, has drowned there.

Tragic ending to this fast developing story; too tragic to make fun of an editing gaff in a newspaper. Except there is a twist to the story. Today, one day later, in Al-Akhbar you read this. The father, Fayez Al Ammouri, retracts the missing child report filed earlier as someone found the dead child, age 12, alive and lost in the groves of Qab Elias. "Sources" tell Al-Akhbar that the kid is in good mental and physical health and that he probably ran away because he was scolded by his parents.

Happy ending as a dead child resuscitates and reunites with family. Except that anyone familiar with Qab Elias cannot possibly buy the "lost" story. You cannot get geographically flatter than this Bekaa valley village, with reference points such as eastern and western mountain ranges clearly visible from any point in town. So there's surely another twist in this story awaiting on page 11 of tomorrow's Al-Akhbar.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hajj Ponzi: Special Victims Unit

One of the biggest civilian financial heists in the glorious history of Lebanon remains off the media and political radar except for a couple of blurbs in some papers praising the virtues of Salah Ezzeddine, the pious crook. That might have something to do with the fact that the powers behind the media outlets are themselves products of much larger Ponzi schemes albeit officially sanctioned and democratically endorsed ones. Another reason is that this specific scam targeted a specific geographic and sectarian segment of Lebanese society, so the other segments don't feel that this issue concerns them. But make no mistake about it, if you factor in that Salah Ezzeddine was in Tyre and not in NYC, the Hajj's $1 billion loot trumps Bernie Madoff's $30 billion in its impact.

I want to focus on a town that was hit hard by Ezzeddine, you have to give it to this guy for good scouting. Speculation has the border village of Yaroun south of Bint Jbeil as the number one loser in this ordeal with 160,000,000 in solid assets..... no, liquid cash.... no, what is the vapor form of the US dollar? The thing about Yaroun is that even though it is infested with tens of million dollar mansions, its population outside of summer is under 160, the biggest business investments in it are a gas station and a falafel shack. In the pre-war years its people lived off the land, tobacco farming more specifically, today they live on and off foreign lands...and we're not talking about Dubai here, the closest choice of a settling point for Yarounis is 10 time zones away. So what to expect of a group of people who have $160,000,000 disposable cash for shady investments yet have not invested in say a school, even though $160 million dollar are enough to create job opportunities in productive sectors for a few thousand people and put much of the youth in the whole kazaa of Bint Jbeil to work.... at home. Off course, to be fair this behavior is not unique to the people of this village although it is strongly marked there.

Sure you might say the Lebanese government never encouraged the development of these remote areas, and even when they did the liberated areas in the South never saw any of the cash earmarked in the yearly budget for the Council of the South which was used by the Amal Movement as its private fund. But now we are venturing into official scams and I don't want to do that now, because today is all about private initiative.

Salah Ezzeddine had it, the people of Yaroun will never do.