Examiner Staff

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Nadine Labaki falls short at Oscars, but makes Lebanon proud

Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki has fallen short of becoming the first Arab woman to win an Oscar for her film “Capernaum,” which was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards Sunday in Los Angeles.

The film “Roma,” from Mexico, won the Oscar in the Foreign Film category.

The nomination was still a proud moment for Labaki and her cast, which includes a 14-year-old Syrian refugee as its lead actor. It’s also a proud moment for Lebanon, as the tiny Mediterranean nation had an opportunity to showcase its talent on an international stage.

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki said she is proud to represent Lebanon in this year’s Oscar race. (Facebook/Capernaum)
Lebanese director Nadine Labaki said she is proud to represent Lebanon in this year’s Oscar race. (Facebook/Capernaum)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday congratulated Labaki and her cast for making it as far as the Oscars.

“I wish all the best for Nadine Labaki and the crew of the film “Capernaum” in her Oscar nomination,” Hariri wrote on Twitter. “Our hearts are with you and all of Lebanon is proud of you, Nadine Labaki.”

The drama “Capernaum” follows the story of a destitute boy who files a lawsuit against his parents for raising him into a life of pain and suffering. The film received international acclaim, and was awarded the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

The other nominees for Best Foreign Film included Poland’s “Cold War,” Germany’s “Never Look Away” and Japan’s “Shoplifters.”

Democratic Rep. Shalala condemns Rep. Omar’s anti-semitic remarks

Freshman Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is facing swift backlash over her comments suggesting that bi-partisan support for Israel is motivated by money.

Omar has been a vocal critic of the Israeli government and its treatment of Palestinians. She also supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS movement, which promotes boycotts against the state of Israel.

The backfire to her comments came from both sides of the isle, that included Chelsea Clinton and fellow Democratic legislators like Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi and Donna Shalala.

Shalala tweeted, “To suggest members of Congress are ‘bought off’ to support Israel is offensive and wrong.”

Donna Shalala is the second Lebanese American woman to be elected to U.S. Congress. (Facebook/Donna Shalala)
Donna Shalala is the second Lebanese American woman to be elected to U.S. Congress. (Facebook/Donna Shalala)

Related: America’s newest Lebanese American congresswoman – Donna Shalala

Omar has since apologized for her remarks, stating that “anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on this painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”

She continued, “This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

Lebanese man sets himself on fire over daughter’s unpaid tuition fees

An investigation is underway into the death of a Lebanese man who set himself on fire after an argument over his daughter’s unpaid tuition fees, according to the state-run Lebanese National News Agency.

The man, identified by local media as George Zreik, set himself ablaze outside of a private elementary school in the village of Bkeftine in Koura. He was transported to the hospital where he died of severe burns.

Zreik reportedly visited the school to request his daughter’s school documents to transfer to a public school. The school director refused to provide the documents due to unpaid fees, the National News Agency reported.

In a statement, the private Orthodox school said Zreik had not paid tuition, transportation and registration fees since 2015. They school went on to say they attempted to express sympathy with his financial situation.

Bkeftine is a village in the Koura District of Lebanon. (Google Maps)
Bkeftine is a village in the Koura District of Lebanon. (Google Maps)

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb has opened a state-conducted investigation into the private school and Zreik’s death.

The government has pledged to cover the cost of education for his children.

An estimated two-thirds of Lebanese students now attend costly private schools, and public schools have become the last resort for families without means, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides financial support to help improve the quality of education in Lebanon.

Lebanese bakery named ‘We’re Dough’ introduces Texans to mana’eesh

A sign that says, “How you doughin,” welcomes Texans to Houston’s newest Lebanese bakery, serving saj-baked mana’eesh, kaak, fakhar eggs and more.

The bakery ‘We’re Dough’ celebrated its grand opening on Feb 2 at its location at 6437 Westheimer Road, about ten miles from downtown Houston.

A sign that reads, "How you Doughin?" welcomes customers to Houston's newest Lebanese bakery. (Facebook/We're Dough Bakery)
A sign that reads, “How you Doughin?” welcomes customers to Houston’s newest Lebanese bakery. (Facebook/We’re Dough Bakery)

According to Texas lifestyle blogger BethieLife, ‘We’re Dough’ will serve “breakfast, lunch and dinner complete with thin breads topped with a wide variety of ingredients including various cheeses, meats, vegetables as well as sweet breads topped with nutella and various candies.”

'We're Dough' brands itself as a Lebanese bakery. (Facebook/We're Dough Bakery)
‘We’re Dough’ brands itself as a Lebanese bakery. (Facebook/We’re Dough Bakery)

“Clearly we have the most #instagramable bakery in Houston,” ‘We’re Dough’ said on Facebook. “Are you ready?”

‘We’re Dough’ will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m., according to Eater Houston, which recently profiled the new bakery.

Suspects throw hand grenade at Lebanese TV station Al-Jadeed

Lebanese investigators are searching for the suspects involved in a grenade attack at the headquarters of Beirut-based broadcaster Al-Jadeed.

The independent television network was attacked Feb. 2 following a protest for a comedy show called “Qadh and Jam.” Surveillance video shows the vehicle, a Kia Picanto, that investigators believe is responsible for the attack.

A group of protesters are angry over the comedy show’s depiction of “caricatured Druze clergy,” according to the non-profit Committee to Protect Journalists, which is now calling on Lebanese authorities to further investigate the crime.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on Lebanese authorities to do their utmost to identify the suspects accused of throwing a hand grenade at a TV station in Beirut. (Screenshot/Al Jadeed)
The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on Lebanese authorities to do their utmost to identify the suspects accused of throwing a hand grenade at a TV station in Beirut. (Screenshot/Al Jadeed)

“Those who perpetrated this attack on Al-Jadeed TV’s Beirut office should be swiftly held to account to show that attacks on media will not be tolerated in Lebanon,” said Sherif Mansour, the organization’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator. “Lebanese authorities should take steps to ensure the safety of journalists regardless of the outlet they work for and their political or religious affiliation.”

RELATED: LBC television truck stolen outside of Baalbeck hotel

CPJ reported that Druze employees of Al-Jadeed have received anonymous threats following the broadcast of the controversial episode.

According to investigators, a group of unknown suspects threw a hand grenade and fled the scene. No one was injured, but there was reported damage to the entrance and a nearby vehicle.

Shawarma fries offered at Lebanese restaurant in Canada

A Lebanese restaurant in Canada is turning heads with its speciality chicken shawarma fries — an appetizing poutine-style dish that combines Lebanese favorites and flavors.

The dish is served at Kabab Village Restaurant in Windsor, Ontario. The golden fries are drizzled with mayonnaise, homemade garlic sauce and chicken shawarma, according to their website.

Kabab Village was recently featured in a CBC review after the restaurant relocated from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Windsor, Ontario.

“My mom loves cooking and homemade food and she wanted to give everyone a little taste of our food back home,” owner Haidar Hatoum told CBC.

The chicken shawarma fries are among the most popular items on the menu. The dish comes as small, $5.95, medium, $9.95 and large, $12.95.

Kabab Village recently started serving a new halal chicken bacon ranch wrap with homemade ranch dressing. (Facebook/Kabab Village Restaurant)
Kabab Village recently started serving a new halal chicken bacon ranch wrap with homemade ranch dressing. (Facebook/Kabab Village Restaurant)

Kabab Village also serves other unique Lebanese-influenced dishes, such as their new halal chicken bacon ranch pita wrap.

The restaurant is located at 6124 Tecumseh Rd E. in Windsor.

McDonald’s launches ‘McFalafel’ nuggets in Sweden

McDonald’s locations in Sweden are getting a vegan upgrade to their menu. The fast food chain announced it will now start serving bite-sized falafel nuggets in the Scandinavian nation.

The new ‘McFalafel’ meal will be part of a vegan Happy Meal which includes apples, carrots or a small order of fries. The falafel will also come with one of two dips — a yogurt sauce with herbs or a vegan pepper dip.

The falafel nuggets will be made with chickpeas, parsley, garlic and cumin, according to British online news outlet The Independent.

McDonald’s made the announcement with an Instagram post which said, “Have you heard the news? Soon we have #McFalafel on the menu.”

McDonald’s locations across the Nordic region launched the McVegan burger in 2017. The sandwich exceeded industry expectations and added the first vegan option to the McDonald’s locations in Europe.

The McVegan launched in Europe in 2017. (Instagram/McDonald's Sweden)
The McVegan launched in Europe in 2017. (Instagram/McDonald’s Sweden)

A recent poll by Animal Rights Sweden revealed that almost one in 10 Swedes now eat a plant-based diet.

Beloved Lebanese American police officer dies unexpectedly

A police department in a New York suburb is in mourning after a beloved Lebanese American police officer died unexpectedly, officials said.

Officer Fadi Rafeh, a member of the Suffolk County Police Department, died while off-duty on Jan. 20. His cause of death has not yet been determined.

According to the department, the 38-year-old officer was sworn into the academy in 2010. He most recently served as an investigator in the department’s Crime Section.

“The untimely passing of Police Officer Fadi Rafeh is an unbelievably tragic loss to his young family and an incredible loss to our police family,” said Police Chief Stuart Cameron. “(Rafeh) exemplified the diversity that makes our department great, having been born of Lebanese immigrants and serving as an Arabic translator for our department.”

Rafeh is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and two sons, Nicholas, 5, and Benjamin, 3, the chief added. A GoFundMe page set up to support Rafeh’s sons has already raised more than $100,000.

Officer Fadi Rafeh was never without a smile on his face and was always looking for ways to build camaraderie among the officers, according to his department. (Suffolk County Police Department)
Officer Fadi Rafeh was never without a smile on his face and was always looking for ways to build camaraderie among the officers, according to his department. (Suffolk County Police Department)

“He was a very bright, hard-working individual,” said Lt. Joseph Terry. “He worked well with his peers and everybody respected him.”

Police Officer Patrick Ryan said Rafeh was so well-regarded by his friends and colleagues, that in November, when a group from the precinct planned a football trip to Charlotte, North Carolina and they found out Rafeh could not go, they all instantly changed their trip to another weekend so he could attend.

“We changed our plans because he is the type of guy that can walk into a room and just bring the energy,” Ryan said. “He was a great guy all around. I have only known him here but I already feel like he was a little brother to me. He was just a very intelligent guy.”

A funeral service was held Jan. 28 in Suffolk County, New York.

This Zgharta woman is nicknamed ‘Queen of Kibbeh.’ What’s her secret?

Zgharta woman Suzanne El Douaihy doesn’t wear a crown. But she is nicknamed the “Queen of Kibbeh” for her expertise making nearly every variety of the delicious Lebanese dish.

El Douaihy is one of 4,000 women who own a small business supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development. She receives support from the U.S. government to help her grow her kibbeh business.

“The base is the meat. The meat has to be well minced,” El Douaihy said about making the perfect kibbeh. “Its color has to be good and it has to be tender.”

WATCH: Queen of Kibbeh Shares Her Secret:

El Douaihy makes several varieties of kibbeh, including Zgharta kibbeh stuffed with lard, kibbeh balls, kibbeh layered with pine nuts and onions and chickpea kibbeh made without meat.

Suzanne El Douaihy is known for her world-famous "Zgharta kibbeh." (Facebook/US Aid Lebanon)
Suzanne El Douaihy is known for her world-famous “Zgharta kibbeh.” (Facebook/US Aid Lebanon)

“The first thing with preparing kibbeh is cleanliness; it is the most important,” she added. “You have to be timely preparing it — you cannot take your time because the meat will not wait for you.”

RELATED: Anthony Bourdain visited Beirut twice — at very different times

El Douaihy was nicknamed the “Queen of Kibbeh” by late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who told her, “I never ate kibbeh like this before.”

To order kibbeh from El Douaihy, call +961 3 946 194.

Egyptian actress Rania Youssef wore this dress. Now she faces jail time.

Egyptian actress Rania Youssef is facing possible jail time for wearing a revealing dress at the closing ceremony of this year’s Cairo International Film Festival, reported the New York Times.

The actress is accused of violating Egyptian morality by wearing a revealing outfit that could “incite debauchery.”

If convicted, Youssef could face a possible five-year jail term. Her trial is set for January 12.

This lacy, black dress is at the center of a criminal case in Egypt involving actress Rania Youssef. (Facebook/Cairo International Film Festival)
This lacy, black dress is at the center of a criminal case in Egypt involving actress Rania Youssef. (Facebook/Cairo International Film Festival)

The bizarre case is one of many unconventional prosecutions in Egypt under the authoritarian rule of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

In June, a Lebanese tourist was arrested for “insulting Egypt” on a Facebook Live video. She was sentenced to 8 years in jail over comments about sexual harassment and poor conditions in the conservative nation.

RELATED: Lebanese tourist arrested for ‘insulting Egypt’ on Facebook

Her sentence was cut short in September after she was freed and deported back to Lebanon.

In Youssef’s dilemma, the likeliness of prosecution is still not known. The morality-focused cases attempt to police clothing and behavior within Egyptian culture and society.

Most of these cases are unsuccessful.

Youssef has since apologized and insisted she did not mean any harm in wearing the controversial black dress.

“I didn’t expect this reaction, and if I had known, I wouldn’t have worn this dress,” the actress said in a statement.

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