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Archive for 'News'

CBC investigation on who killed Rafic Hariri

CBC has just released today the 21st of November a months-long CBC investigation on Rafic Hariri entitled “Who Killed Rafic Hariri?”. The investigation, relying on interviews with multiple sources from inside the UN inquiry and some of the commission’s own records, found examples of timidity, bureaucratic inertia and incompetence bordering on gross negligence.

Among other things, CBC News has learned that:

  • Evidence gathered by Lebanese police and, much later, the UN, points overwhelmingly to the fact that the assassins were from Hezbollah, the militant Party of God that is largely sponsored by Syria and Iran. CBC News has obtained cellphone and other telecommunications evidence that is at the core of the case.
  • UN investigators came to believe their inquiry was penetrated early by Hezbollah and that that the commission’s lax security likely led to the murder of a young, dedicated Lebanese policeman who had largely cracked the case on his own and was co-operating with the international inquiry.
  • UN commission insiders also suspected Hariri’s own chief of protocol at the time, a man who now heads Lebanon’s intelligence service, of colluding with Hezbollah. But those suspicions, laid out in an extensive internal memo, were not pursued, basically for diplomatic reasons.

Read the full report of four parts on the CBC website here

(Click on the image below to enlarge)

Phone network involved in Hariri assasination - CBC

Phone network involved in Hariri assasination - CBC

Halal make-up business now booming

Many of us have heard the word Halal in the context of meat, but now it’s make-up, and it’s in a market that is growing fast. More info in the BBC video below:

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India’s billion-dollar home is world’s most expensive

I have previously mentioned the Hong Kong apartment sold for a record 57 million dollars, but now India’s billion-dollar home has taken the lead to be the world’s most expensive home ever built.

India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, and his family are set to move into a 27-floor home tended by an estimated 600-person staff. As NBC’s Ian Williams reports, the mega-mansion is taking heat from many people in India.

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Lebanese Red Cross creates world’s largest handprint painting on October 31st 2010

The series of record-breaking events continues in Lebanon with a new record set by the Lebanese Red Cross association. A 4,600-square-meter painted canvas was assembled at the Cite Sportive stadium in Beirut Sunday, breaking the Guinness world record for the largest handprint painting.

The Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) broke the record by creating the Red Cross emblem using handprints collected from various Lebanese regions. The former holder of the world’s largest handprint painting was China, with a 3,715.86-square-meter canvas encouraging youths to combat drugs.

World's Largest Handpring Painting by Lebanon - AP/Lebanese Red Cross

World's Largest Handpring Painting by Lebanon - AP/Lebanese Red Cross

Largest wine glass Guiness record by Lebanon on October 30th 2010

Organizers of a wine festival in Beirut poured around one hundred bottles of Lebanese wine into the giant glass, 2.4 meters high and 1.65 meters wide.

Lebanon managed to steal the 12 year-old record from Portugal and was officially confirmed by Guinness World Records adjudicator Liz Smith.

Organizers said winemakers from across the country had contributed their produce as part of a campaign to promote Lebanese wine — half of which they said is exported.

The wine glass may be a useful accompaniment for Lebanon’s other forays into culinary extremes. In recent years it has claimed the world’s biggest servings of kibbeh and tabbouleh, traditional meat and salad dishes, largest falafel and the biggest bowl of hummus.

Largest Wine Glass in Lebanon - Reuters

Largest Wine Glass in Lebanon - Reuters

Lebanon sets the world’s largest flag on October 10th 2010

Lebanon has revealed on October 10th 2010 the world’s largest national flag at the Lebanese Air Force Base in Rayak, to commemorate the Lebanese Army’s 65th anniversary.

The flag, which measures an amazing 65,650 square meters, beats previous record-holders Morocco , which only measured in at a minuscule 60,000 square meters. The area of the cedar at the centre of the flag measures in at 10,452 square metres, a reference to the country’s total area of 10,452 square kilometres.

The flag, which measures 325 metres in length and 202 metres wide, was made in Kuwait under the supervision of Lebanese entrepreneur Ashraf Makarem. Guinness World Records confirmed that the flag is indeed the world’s largest, with regional official Talal Omar on hand to present Makarem with his record-breaking certificate.

World's Largest Flag by Lebanon - EPA

World's Largest Flag by Lebanon - EPA

Recall of product Tahini from Cedar brand in Canada as it may contain Salmonella bacteria

As of July 19th, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Lebanese company Produits Phoenicia Inc. are warning the public not to consume the Cedar brand Tahini described below because the product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The affected product, Cedar brand Tahini is sold in 450 mL jars, bearing UPC 0 62356 50178 5. There is no lot code on the packages. This product has been distributed nationally, but there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

The manufacturer, Produits Phoenicia Inc., Saint Laurent, Quebec, is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

for more information on this, you may refer to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency health hazard alert here.

Tahini product by Cedar

Tahini product by Cedar

Lebanese-American Rima Fakih crowned Miss USA 2010

On May 16, 2010, star-studded panel of judges chose Miss Michigan USA, Rima Fakih, as MISS USA 2010. She is the second Miss USA of Lebanese-American descent, after Julie Hayek in 1983. Fakih currently resides in Dearborn, Michigan.

Born in Lebanon, Fakih grew up in Queens, New York, where she attended a Catholic school, St. John’s Prep. Her family moved to Dearborn, Michigan, in 2003. Though Shiite Muslim, her family celebrates elements of both the Muslim and Christian faiths. With Fakih’s victory, Michigan has provided two firsts in Miss USA pageant history; in 1990, Carole Gist became the first African American Miss USA, and Fakih is the second Arab American and the first of the Muslim faith to win the title.

Watch the final moment of Miss USA 2010 in the video below:

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Lebanon sets Falafel Guinness record on May 9th 2010

A day after firing a 10-ton hummus broadside in a food fight with Israel, chefs in Lebanon weighed in with another first for a Guinness record on Sunday - five tons of Falafel.

Falafel, like hummus and tabbouleh, are the objects of a cultural quarrel between Israel and Lebanon. Israel exports hummus widely, and is accused of claiming an Arab dish as its own. Lebanon set the tabbouleh record in October 2009, while the last Hummus battle was on Saturday.

With a Guinness World Records representative at hand to record the feat, organizers said it was the first time any country had tried to set such a high-frying Falafel record.

Guinness record for biggest Falafel by Lebanon 2010

Guinness record for biggest Falafel by Lebanon 2010

Lebanon sets again the Guinness world record for biggest Hummus plate in May 2010

In a continuous battle of Hummus with Israel, and after Lebanon set the record straight in October 2009 but again Israel stealing it in January 2010, Lebanon on Saturday May 8 2010 claimed another victory and set the biggest Hummus world record at 10,452 kilograms.

More than 300 chefs set the new record for hummus, which the Lebanese say is their national dish despite Israeli claims, in the presence of a Guinness World Records representative who confirmed its weight at 10,452 kilograms. That more than doubles the previous record of around 4 tons set in January 2010 by cooks in an Arab town near Jerusalem.

The gigantic serving of the popular Middle Eastern chickpea paste is the latest shot in the two countries’ ongoing war to assert ownership over the dip. A Guinness World Records adjudicator confirmed that Lebanon now holds the record.

Lebanon accuses Israel of stealing traditional Arab dishes like hummus and marketing them worldwide as Israeli.

Guinness world record for biggest Hummus plate by Lebanon in May 2010

Guinness world record for biggest Hummus plate by Lebanon in May 2010

Prahlad Jani (Mataji): the Indian hermit with no food or water for more than 70 years

Update (November 11th, 2010): Address of Prahlad Jani (Mataji)

Dear all,

One of the readers of this blog, simran, has just provided us with the address of Prahlad Jani. I quote from his comment: “its in Amba JI Gabbar Pahar, half an hour drive from Abu Road railway station, after reaching Amba JI asked anyone for Chunriwale Mataji, everybody knows him, but the meeting days are only Sunday and Puranmaasi from 8-12am.”

Thank you simran. Much appreciated!


Indian military scientists are studying an 82-year-old who claims he has not had any food or drink for more than 70 years. The holy man claims that he derives energy through meditation.

Prahlad Jani is being held in isolation since April 22nd 2010 in a hospital in Ahmedabad, Gurjarat, where he is being closely monitored by India’s defence research organization, who believe he may have a genuine quality which could help save lives.

So far, Mr Prahlad appears to be standing up to scrutiny. He has not eaten or drunk any fluids in six days, and similarly has not passed urine or a stool in that time. He remains fit and healthy and shows no sign of lethargy. Doctors will continue observing him for 15 days in which time they would expect to see some muscle wastage, serious dehydration, weight loss, and fatigue followed by organ failure.

More information on this in the video below by BBC:

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Beirut, the supermarket of Plastic Surgeries

In Lebanon, having plastic surgery for the nose, lips, or even breasts is a very normal thing among young females. It has become a very lucrative market for plastic surgeons to a point it became the country where plastic surgery is practiced the most in the world!

Here is what Nora Awada - the subject behind the French documentary “Beyrouth, supermarché du lifting” - has to say about it:

Elles sont jeunes, belles … et la plupart sont refaites de la tête aux pieds. A Beyrouth, se faire retoucher les seins, le nez ou les lèvres par un chirurgien esthétique est presque un acte banal, dès l’âge de 20 ans. Le Liban est le pays où l’on pratique le plus d’opérations plastiques au monde, et tous les excès sont permis. Il y a même des modes : en ce moment, les clientes réclament le nez d’une célèbre chanteuse locale. Pour celles qui n’ont pas les moyens, les banques proposent des prêts spéciaux « chirurgie esthétique ». Si les Libanaises se livrent aussi fréquemment aux bistouris des chirurgiens, c’est parce que, dans ce pays, la concurrence est très rude pour trouver un mari : à cause de la guerre et de l’émigration, il n’y a qu’un homme pour cinq femmes. Mais revers de la médaille : cette dictature de la beauté crée aussi une pression sociale très forte difficile à supporter au quotidien.

Watch below the documentary (in French) by Nora Awada which was broadcasted on the French show 66 Minutes:

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Lebanon GPS map now available through Garmin GPS

You can now go around Beirut without getting lost.

As part of their Middle East and Northern Africa package, Lebanon is now covered in Garmin GPS device map. Even though it is not as detailed as other countries, the map includes major metropolitan coverage for Lebanon.

You can download the map at $199.99 USD from Garmin’s website here.

Lebanon GPS Map Coverage - Garmin.com

Lebanon GPS Map Coverage - Garmin.com

Lebanese behind the largest illegal use of Quebec’s healthcare insurance RAMQ

You have previously heard about the documentary exposing Lebanese faking their Canadian permanent residency, and this one just adds to it.

Quebec’s healthcare system RAMQ (Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec) is trying to recuperate around $500,000 caused by the illegal use of the system, which made it the largest fraud in RAMQ’s history in relation to illegal use of the medical card. And guess what, the majority of this is caused by Lebanese.

RAMQ has investigated in the recent months around 1,700 immigrants. More than two-third of them, the majority Lebanese, have simulated their presence in Quebec with the help of a fraudulent Lebanese immigration lawyer, the famous now Nizar Zakka. They have obtained a medical card and used it for healthcare services totaling $500,000. RAMQ was only able to recuperate around $42,000 since most of the immigrants do not live in Quebec. The control of this fraudulent activity will not be easy until RAMQ implements its new barcode card.

You can read the investigation report on RAMQ’s official website here.

Quebec's healthcare system (RAMQ) medical card

Quebec's healthcare system (RAMQ) medical card

The ‘rebirth’ of Lebanon’s fashion industry

One by one, Lebanese designers are conquering catwalks across Europe. While many designers in Europe have faced problems due to the economic downturn, Lebanon’s fashion designers have had no shortage of work. They are thriving as the country profits from a year of political stability.

BBC correspondent Natalie Antelava reports below from Beirut on Lebanon’s bid to become the capital of the Middle East fashion world:

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China unveils world’s fastest train

China has just launched the fastest express train in the world on the longest track on earth. At a speed of around 400 km/h, this locomotive is so smooth that even a standing cigarette won’t be toppled. It ran from the central city of Wuhan down to the south coast in a record of less than 3 hours, compared to the 10 and a half hours that it normally used to take.

This is not something new for the Chinese, and if you’ve been to Shanghai then you know what I mean. They have the Maglev train that takes you from Shanghai airport to downtown at a speed topping 432 km/h.

Check out the express train in the video below:

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Denmark to allow internet in exams

Compare this with the History book in which we used to study in Lebanon.

Danish students could soon be allowed full access to the internet while sitting their final school exams if a pilot scheme goes well. They can use the internet to answer any of the questions, but cannot communicate with each other or with anyone outside the classroom.

More on this in the video below by BBC News:

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Scientists ’cause’ Beijing’s first snow of 2009-2010 season

Chinese meteorologists say they brought about Beijing’s earliest snowfall in a decade, after seeding rain clouds with silver iodide to ease a drought.

The Weather Modification Office sprayed clouds with 186 doses of the chemical to bring rain for the wheat crop, the Beijing Evening News said. But the arrival of a cold front caused heavy snow to fall, disrupting road, rail and air travel. Cloud seeding is often used in China in an attempt to bring on rain. The country’s north is prone to droughts, while the south is often flooded.

Check it out in the video below:

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Internet addresses to include non-Latin-script Web addresses by 2010

The internet regulator has approved plans to allow non-Latin-script web addresses, including Arabic, Chinese, in a move that is set to transform the online world.

The board of Icann voted at its annual meeting in Seoul to allow domain names in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts. More than half of the 1.6 billion people who use the internet speak languages with non-Latin scripts. It is being described as the biggest change to the way the internet works since it was created 40 years ago. The first Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) could be in use next year.

More on this in the video below:

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Hong Kong apartment sold for a record 57 million dollars

A Hong Kong property developer claims to have set a world record last week for the sale of a five bedroom luxury apartment, at $57m. The five-bedroom home is believed to be Asia’s most expensive property - with each sq foot costing $9,200.

The unidentified new owner from mainland China bought the property in 39 Conduit Road, one of Hong Kong’s most exclusive addresses. The apartment, about 6,000 sq feet (557 sq metres), is on the 68th floor of the building and has views over the harbour. The owner has access to facilities including an aroma spa centre, a fitness room and an outdoor yoga gym.

Property prices in Hong Kong have benefited from mainland China’s booming market, however it has one of the world’s most expensive property markets - with many locals finding it difficult to buy.

Watch the video below by BBC News:

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Rami Eid: the man in the cube

Rami, hats off to you.

‘The man in the Cube’ is a project organized by The League of Independent Activists – IndyACT aiming to raise global urgency on the critical dangers of global warming and to urge world leaders to take fast and effective action against climate change in Copenhagen this year.

‘The man in the cube’ (Rami Eid) represents “the last man on earth” enduring a fierce struggle for survival against climate change effects. He will be living in a transparent 4 meter square cube on Ein El-Mreyseh in Beirut, Lebanon, for 3 days starting October 16th, 2009.

The ‘last man’ simulates the possibility of a dim future for mankind where we failed to act against climate change when we had the chance.

Follow the man in the cube on twitter and his personal blog.

Rami Eid, the man in the cube - themaninthecube.wordpress.com

Rami Eid, the man in the cube - themaninthecube.wordpress.com

via IndyACT blog

New X-ray reveals naked pictures at Manchester Airport

A human X-ray machine that produces “naked” images of passengers has just started a trial at Manchester Airport. The authorities say it will speed up security checks by quickly revealing any concealed weapons or explosives. But the scanner also picks out the contours of every part of the body, not leaving much to the imagination.

Check it out in the video below by BBC News:

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Lebanese to break the Guinness Record for largest plate of Hummus and Tabbouleh on October 24-25, 2009

Update (October 25th, 2009): Congratulations to the Lebanese again! We broke the third record for the largest tabbouleh ever made weighing 3557 kilograms!

Update (October 24th, 2009): Congratulations to the Lebanese people! We broke the two records for the largest plate to hold food and the largest hummus plate weighing 2056 kilograms! One more to go!




After having in hand the Largest Dabke and the Biggest Kebbe Guinness Records, Lebanese are heading towards breaking two more records: Largest plates of Hummus and Tabbouleh.

As part of a campaign to claim the ownership of the traditional dishes from Israel that currently holds those two records, the Lebanese Industrialists Association (LIA) is arranging a special public ceremony to break Israeli records in downtown Beirut on October 24 and 25. The hummus plate will be prepared on the first day, and the tabbouleh the following day. In addition to that, they are trying to break a third record, which is the largest plate itself.

Renowned Lebanese chef Ramzi Choueiri, manager of Al Kafaàt catering school, will be supervising the work of his 250 students at the cooking school in setting the new record of a 5-metre diameter bowl of hummus. The targeted bowl of tabbouleh should exceed 2 tonnes.

Stay tuned for the results!

2009 Largest Hummus Guinnes Record in Lebanon - twitpic.com/photos/arzleb

2009 Largest Hummus Guinnes Record in Lebanon - twitpic.com/photos/arzleb

tipped via Jad Aoun’s Blog

Honda unveils the electric unicycle U3-X in Japan

An electric battery-powered unicycle, shaped like a figure eight, has been unveiled in Japan last week. The unicycle unit U3-X, produced by Honda Motor Co, can be steered by leaning in the direction the rider wants to go. The vehicle, which is in the development stage, has a maximum speed of 6 km per hour (3.7 mph) and weighs less than 10 kilos.

Check it out in the video below by BBC News:

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Akbar: The huge 19.2 pound newborn baby

An Indonesian woman has given birth to an 8.7 kilograms (19.2 pounds) baby boy, the heaviest newborn ever recorded in the country, a doctor said Wednesday.

The baby, who is named ‘Akbar’ which in Arabic means ‘Great’, is 62 centimeters (24.4 inches) long and was born by cesarean section last week at a public hospital in North Sumatra province. He’s got strong appetite and the way he cries is very loud. The boy’s massive size was likely the result of his mother, Ani, 41, having diabetes.

Check how big he is compared to other babies in the video below by ITV News:

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