Examiner Staff

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Fire extinguished at American University of Beirut Medical Center

A fire at the American University of Beirut Medical Center was extinguished Tuesday, and operations returned to normal, officials announced.

In a statement, AUBMC said the blaze started on the second floor of the building, and was quickly contained.

“The fire occurred in the fiber scrubber outside the walls of the building,” the statement said. “Smoke was discharged directly into the open air.”

A fire was extinguished Tuesday at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. (Lebanese National News Agency)
A fire was extinguished Tuesday at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. (Lebanese National News Agency)

Administration officials said the AUBMC Plant Eningeering Team and Emergency Response Team were “very responsive in taking the necessary action to extinguish the fire promptly and secure the location.”

Operations were not interrupted, and hospital staff returned to business as usual, AUBMC officials added.

AUBMC is a 420-bed hospital and academic center that provides comprehensive medical care for patients in Lebanon.

The medical center is located on Cairo Street in Beirut’s Hamra area.

The center expanded in 1970 with a state-of-the-art medical center in Beirut. The building has an elaborate outpatient facility, an emergency department, research laboratories, classrooms and offices for academic staff, according to its website.

Beirut’s airport to receive simulation technology from New Zealand

Air traffic control at the Beirut International Airport will receive advanced simulation technology from New Zealand to better train its employees on air traffic protocol and flight data.

The International Civil Aviation Organization announced an agreement made between Airways New Zealand and Lebanon’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

The agreement includes a Total Control LC tower simulator and two radar simulators, which will be used by instructors to oversee air traffic in training scenarios, Airways New Zealand said in a statement.

Beirut's airport will receive simulation technology from New Zealand. (Airways New Zealand)
Beirut’s airport will receive simulation technology from New Zealand. (Airways New Zealand)

“We are proud to partner with (Lebanon) as they work to enhance their ATC training using our highly advanced simulation technology,” said Sharon Cooke, CEO of Airways New Zealand. “We’re equally proud to have Airways technology and expertise being installed in a region where air traffic movements are growing rapidly yet there’s a critical gap for the training of air traffic controllers.”

The new technology will imitate full air traffic control using the latest flight data in the region. There are also 3D graphic displays which allow employees and trainees to simulate weather events.

The Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport is Lebanon’s only operational commercial airport.

Lebanon’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation is responsible for operating air traffic control and controlling Lebanese airspace.

Lebanese marijuana among ‘best in the world,’ minister says

A Lebanese minister hinted that marijuana could bring a major boost to Lebanon’s economy, and stand out as “among the best in the world,” Bloomberg News reported.

Minister of Economy and Trade Raed Khoury said marijuana, which is illegal in Lebanon, could diversify the economy and open new markets.

“The quality (of cannabis) we have is one of the best in the world,” Khoury told Bloomberg News, adding that marijuana could become a one-billion-dollar industry.

Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade Raed Khoury. (Facebook/Raed Khoury)
Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade Raed Khoury. (Facebook/Raed Khoury)

In a plan to help grow Lebanon’s economy, the New York-based consulting firm McKinsey & Company suggested “quick wins” to help the country in the short term.

The plan reportedly included investing in prefabricated housing for reconstruction in Iraq and Syria, investing in tourism and growing two crops — avocados and cannabis.

RELATED: Officials: 15 tons of marijuana seized at Beirut paint warehouse

RELATED: LAU to study ‘potential medical value’ of marijuana in Lebanon

Khoury said implementing the McKinsey & Company report would substantially help Lebanon’s economy, which is the third most-indebted nation in the world.

He believes Lebanon, which has marijuana farms in the Bekaa Valley, could legalize the growing and exporting of the drug for medical treatment.

Khoury is not the first minister to stand by the legalization of marijuana. In 2015, former minister Walid Jumblatt suggested the economic impact would be significant for the region.

RELATED: Jumblatt renews call for legalizing weed in Lebanon

“Never in my life have I smoked marijuana, but I support growing cannabis for medical use and to improve the living conditions of farmers in north Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley,” Jumblatt previously told Al-Jadeed television.

Lebanese tourist accused of ‘insulting Egypt’ sentenced to 8 years in jail

A Lebanese tourist accused of “insulting Egypt” on a viral video has been sentenced to 8 years in prison by a Cairo court, Al Jazeera reported.

Mona El-Mazboh, 24, was arrested last month after posting a Facebook video complaining of sexual harassment and poor conditions in Egypt.

Egyptian authorities deemed the comments illegal, and transferred the tourist to jail pending a criminal trial.

El-Mazboh was sentenced with 8 years in prison with hard labor, and ordered to pay a $600 fine, the Egyptian Independent reported.

The profanity-laced video, which has since been removed, included comments that Egypt was a “lowly, dirty country,” and “Egyptian men are pimps and women prostitutes,” Al Jazeera added.

She also called Egypt a “son of a b—- country,” and said she “hopes God sends (Egyptians) someone more oppressive than Sisi,” referring to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The court argued that El-Mazboh deliberately spread “false rumors” that would harm society, and attacked religion and the Egyptian government.

Mona El-Mazboh responds to controversy in a second video posted to her Facebook. (YouTube screenshot)
Mona El-Mazboh responds to controversy in a second video posted to her Facebook. (YouTube screenshot)

Her attorney argued that she suffered from neurological and psychological disorders, including depression, which impaired her ability to control anger.

El-Mazbouh’s attorney Emad Kamal said he would appeal the sentence.

“Of course, God willing, the verdict will change. With all due respect to the judiciary, this is a severe ruling,” Kamal told Al Jazeera. “It is in the context of the law, but the court was applying the maximum penalty.”

Shortly after the first video went viral, El-Mazboh posted a second video apologizing to “respectable Egyptians” for her comments.

Egyptian rights activists believe the arrest and sentence is an intense crackdown of Internet censorship.

Councilwoman apologizes after comparing violence in Nashville to Beirut

A politician in Tennessee issued an apology after she compared youth violence in Nashville to Beirut during a public city council meeting.

Nashville councilwoman Erica Gilmore said her comments were meant to address issues of youth violence in the Tennessee capital.

“My comment was not meant to disparage Lebanon or to imply any negativity regarding the wonderful people of Lebanon,” Gilmore said in a statement. “I have always held Lebanon and its citizens in high regard and even lived there during my study at the American University of Beirut.”

During a televised meeting, the councilwoman said youth poverty and violence has become a crisis, and the issues compare to the challenges facing an underdeveloped nation.

Gilmore apologized after comparing violence in Nashville to Beirut. (EricaGilmore.com)
Gilmore apologized after comparing violence in Nashville to Beirut. (EricaGilmore.com)

“People do not recognize there are kids out there that are in such poverty that we are like a third world country,” she said during the meeting. “I feel like I was in Beirut.”

RELATED: Tennessee politician compares violence in Nashville to Beirut

Gilmore responded to Lebanese Examiner’s story three days later with a statement posted to Facebook.

“I hope this situation can be turned into a positive for both cities of Nashville and Beirut. Both cities are beautiful and have great people that live there.” Gilmore added. “However, we can always do more to improve the lives and safety of our great cities.”

According to her online biography, Gilmore completed a study-abroad program at the American University of Beirut while studying at Howard University in Washington, D.C.\

READ FULL STATEMENT HERE:

Recently, I made a comment comparing the prevalence of violent crime in my hometown of Nashville to similar situations in Beirut Lebanon. My comments were based on U.S. State Department travel advisories to Lebanon and news reports regarding increasing violent crime rates in Beirut. My intention was only to create attention regarding issues of violence to my hometown so that we could begin to more proactively address this serious matter. My comment was not meant to disparage Lebanon or to imply any negativity regarding the wonderful people of Lebanon. I am sorry that some have mistakenly believed that my comment was intended to disparage Lebanon. I have always held Lebanon and its citizens in high regard and even lived there during my study at the American University of Beirut. I had a wonderful experience and was treated with kindness and respect by the Lebanese people. I will forever cherish my time in Beirut and the people that were so generous to me.

I hope that this situation can be turned into a positive for both cities of Nashville and Beirut. Both cities are beautiful and have great people that live there. However, we can always do more to improve the lives and safety of our great cities. I wish the people of Beirut all the best in their efforts to elevate the lives of its fine citizens, and I will continue every day trying to elevate the lives of Nashvillians the best that I can. May God bless our two great cities and our people.

Tennessee politician compares violence in Nashville to Beirut

A politician in Tennessee compared youth violence in Nashville to Beirut during a public city council meeting, according to CBS-affiliate WTVF-TV.

Nashville councilwoman Erica Gilmore said youth poverty and violence has become a crisis, and the issues compare to the challenges facing an underdeveloped nation.

UPDATED: Erica Gilmore issued an apology after Lebanese Examiner’s story about her comments.

“People do not recognize there are kids out there that are in such poverty that we are like a third world country,” Gilmore said. “I feel like I was in Beirut.”

According to her online biography, Gilmore completed a study-abroad program at the American University of Beirut while studying at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tennessee politician Erica Gilmore compared youth violence in Nashville to Beirut. (YouTube/Metro Nashville)
Tennessee politician Erica Gilmore compared youth violence in Nashville to Beirut. (YouTube/Metro Nashville)

In reported crime rates, Beirut ranks at 36.84 — a lower score than Nashville, which ranks at 49.11, according to two independent crime databases.

A study at the American University of Beirut found that disadvantaged Beirut neighborhoods, which have higher crime rates, are more likely to have problems with youth violence.

“Lebanon has a history of civil and cross-border war, which may influence the production of violence at the individual level,” the study said.

Gilmore pointed to a lack of respect among Nashville youth as a contributing factor to the violence. FOX-affiliate WZTV-TV reported that youth violence has been increasing in some Nashville neighborhoods.

“We’re seeing so much violence in the neighborhoods amongst the youth that I’m really concerned. The other day I was walking down Pearl Street and there were about 60 kids in the middle of the street. They were throwing bricks at one another. And I tried to get them to stop, and I could not get them to stop.”

Report: Arab newspaper Al-Hayat closes office in Lebanon

Pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat closed its office in Beirut Saturday in an effort to cut costs and downsize its operations, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Saudi-owned news organization was founded in Lebanon in 1946, and survived multiple bombing attempts before the Lebanese Civil War forced its shut down in 1976.

The newspaper reopened its Beirut offices in 1988, but was quickly bought out by Saudi Prince Khalid bin Sultan.

After 30 years in business, a source told AFP the office closed this weekend as a result of downsizing and “financial reasons.”

“This closure is part of a decision to close all foreign bureaus for financial reasons and transfer the headquarters to Dubai,” the source told AFP.

Al-Hayat shut down its office in Beirut. (File photo)
Al-Hayat shut down its office in Beirut. (File photo)

Al-Hayat has been experiencing changes in its news operation since the beginning of 2018, when the newspaper closed its main headquarters in London and moved to the Gulf.

The newspaper stopped printing in Lebanon, and could soon change its operation to serve readers in the Gulf only, AFP added.

Al-Hayat was founded by journalist Kamel Mroueh, who was later assassinated, as a daily Arabic newspaper.

The newspaper’s Beirut office employed about 100 people.

Beirut airport security arrest man with $108k in counterfeit cash

A Romanian man was arrested Friday at the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut after being found with counterfeit money and suspected stolen jewelry, officials announced.

Lebanese Internal Security Forces recovered $108,200 USD and 350 euros in counterfeit cash from the traveler, who was planning to fly to Romania from Beirut.

It is not clear why he was in Lebanon, officials added.

The 34-year-old man, identified only by the initials V.L., also had $50,000 worth of suspected stolen jewelry in his bag.

Security forces said the jewelry, mostly diamond, belonged to a woman who lost the items. Investigators returned the jewelry to the woman after the recovery.

Photos posted to the Lebanese Internal Security Forces Facebook page show several bags of money and the suspect’s Romanian passport.

Counterfeit money seized at the Beirut airport. (Lebanese Internal Security Forces)
Counterfeit money seized at the Beirut airport. (Lebanese Internal Security Forces)

Lebanese security officials are still investigating the case.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, an estimated $70 million in counterfeit bills are in global circulation.

U.S. officials said counterfeit money can be identified by holding the bill up to a light and looking for a holograph of the face image.

The bill should also reveal a thin vertical strip containing text that spells out the bill’s denomination.

Lebanese shipping pioneer Jacques Saadé dies at 81

Jacques Saadé, a pioneer in global shipping and transportation, has died at age 81, officials confirmed.

Saadé, who was born in Lebanon in 1937, was the founder of the France-based shipping company CMA CGM Group.

The entrepreneur immigrated to France near the start of the Lebanese Civil War, and started a maritime shipping operation with four employees and a single ship.

With only one container, Saadé started a maritime service between Marseilles and Beirut.

“He anticipated major developments in world trade and was convinced that the container would have a determining role in world maritime transport,” the company said in a news release.

CMA CGM Group grew quickly, as he developed links between North Europe, North Africa and Asia. Saadé opened an office in Shanghai in 1992 after recognizing the major shipping opportunities in China.

By 2006, the company was recognized as the third largest container shipping company in the world.

Jacques Saadé was the founder of CMA CGM Group. (CMA CGM Group)
Jacques Saadé was the founder of CMA CGM Group. (CMA CGM Group)

Saadé died in Marseilles on June 24.

“I learned with a great sadness the death of M Jacques Saadé, CMG CGM’s founder, family-owned company and french flagship,” said Edouard Philippe, the prime minister of France. “From China, where he was one of the first to foresee the incredible potential, tribute to this visionary entrepreneur.”

In a statement, the company said he was always attentive to strengthening the ties between France and Lebanon.

Saadé is the recipient of the Admiralitäts-Portugaleser, one of the highest decorations of the city of Hamburg. He also received Lebanon’s National Order of the Cedar.

The company is now run by his son, Rodolphe Saadé. CMA CGM Group has more than 30,000 employees worldwide, and a fleet of 494 vessels.

Read more about Jacques Saadé at this link.

Lebanese man stabbed to death during World Cup argument

A Lebanese man was killed Wednesday after an argument about a World Cup game turned heated inside a Beirut coffee shop.

Mohammad Zahar was fatally stabbed while celebrating Brazil’s win with a group of friends in the suburb of Hay El Sellom.

Zahar, a Brazil supporter, allegedly got into a heated argument with a Germany supporter inside the coffee shop.

The Germany supporter, identified only by his initials H.K., allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed Zahar.

The two were neighbors, media reports said.

Brazil supporters at the World Cup. (File photo)
Brazil supporters at the World Cup. (File photo)

Germany was knocked out of the World Cup after a 2-0 loss to South Korea. Brazil scored twice against Costa Rica.

Lebanese security officials have not released any information about the suspect.

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