Hundreds bid farewell to slain Al-Manar reporter

SHAATH, Lebanon: Hundreds of men and women, dressed in black and carrying Hezbollah flags, took part Tuesday in the funeral procession of Al-Manar journalist who was killed in Syria the day before.

Weeping and distraught, Hamzeh Hajj Hassan’s mother was surrounded by consoling relatives as she lead the women’s procession in the Bekaa Valley village of Shaath.

Hassan, 26, was among three Al-Manar staffers who were covering the Syrian army’s takeover of the Christian town of Maaloula in Syria when their vehicle came under heavy fire.

Technician Halim Allaw and cameraman Mohammad Mantash were also killed in the attack, the local television said, which was carried out by “takfiri terrorists.”

The shooting came hours after Al-Manar announced regime forces seized Maaloula and two other villages in the Qalamoun region, a mountainous area where the Syrian army backed by Hezbollah fighters have launched an offensive to root out rebels.

As soon as Hassan’s body arrived in an ambulance to the funeral, gunshots were fired in the air as the crowd chanted a popular slogan coined by Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nassrallah: “Humiliation is far from us.”

Women tossed flowers and rice on the coffin, which was covered with a yellow Hezbollah flag and carried on the shoulders of Hezbollah members dressed in uniform to the burial site.

Hassan along with other Al-Manar reporters have provided extensive coverage of the Qalamoun battles, accompanying soldiers and interviewing Syrian army officers.

Source: The Daily Star

Twins who share everything — including their boyfriend

Growing up, twins Victoria and Amanda Hepperle were raised to share everything – toys, clothes and their deepest secrets.

“What’s mine is hers,” has been the guiding principle all their lives, to the delight of their proud parents.

Until now. For the 27-year-old sisters have taken the divvying up to shocking extremes – by sharing the bed of the same boyfriend.

Their exhausted joint lover, Ian Diaz, admits that he feels like “the luckiest man alive”, but adds: “Some men might think sleeping with twins is a dream come true, but it’s not always an easy ride.”

But his two girlfriends can’t ­understand what all the fuss is about.

Victoria says: “We are a threesome now and we don’t find it weird at all, although I wish the same could be said for our parents and friends.

“We have a healthy sex life, even if we have to decide between ourselves who has Ian on any given night.

“Ian knows the closeness of our bond. He understands us and just gets us. I think any guy would want double the attention. People come up to him and say, ‘Wow! You’re so lucky’.”

Victoria and Amanda with Ian


Delivery boss Ian, 27, started out as Victoria’s sweetheart, and for four years they had a perfectly normal relationship. But in 2012 Amanda suffered a painful break-up with her then boyfriend which left her devastated.

Seeing her sister alone and unhappy, Victoria hatched a bizarre plan – Ian would become boyfriend to them BOTH. All she had to do was persuade him.

She says: “Ian and I had an undeniable physical attraction and a strong bond. We have a solid relationship built on trust and understanding.

“Ian knows that my relationship with Amanda has always been a huge part of my life and that I would do anything for her. So when she broke up with her boyfriend just over two years ago, I shared her pain and her heartbreak.

“It was devastating to see her so unhappy. It hurt me almost as much as it hurt her. It seemed to me almost natural to invite her to join us in our loving ­relationship.

“Ian was unsure at first, particularly as he knew that his parents wouldn’t be very happy, but now we’re all ­blissfully in love.

“He loves us equally– albeit in quite different ways. He considers me his rock. I am always there to cater for his emotional needs.

“Sometimes I get jealous of the ­relationship he has with Amanda, but I know that he loves me.

“We have spoken about marriage and I’m looking forward to the day when we wed, but if Amanda and Ian get married ­afterwards then that’s fine. The ­important thing is we’re all together, and all happy.”


Victoria and Amanda

Ian has his own flat in Guttenberg, New Jersey, and the girls, non-identical twins born just 30 minutes apart, live just a few streets away with their appalled parents.

He admits that juggling his ­relationships with the twins can be quite a challenge – but insists that it’s worth all the effort.

“I’m in love with them both the same, although I expect Vicky and I will get married first,” Ian says.

“Victoria and I have a much more traditional relationship. It’s very loving and quite harmonious. I tend to be the dominant one with her.

“But with Amanda, there is no ­question that she wears the trousers. She is ­incredibly feisty and rules the roost.

“In bed it is very sensual with Victoria while with Amanda it’s wanton. They wear me out.

“There are times when I just want to have a few days’ peace. That said, it’s a little like being a multi-millionaire,” he concedes. “Do I ever really have a bad day?”

Well, maybe – when he has to face the parents. Both sides of the family are deeply unhappy about the three-sided arrangement.


Victoria and Amanda

The twins’ father, David, who raised his girls in the Catholic faith, describes the relationship as being like “a pair of two-year-old shoes still not broken in yet”.

David, along with wife Ingrid, hope that their girls “will see sense” one day and that Amanda will quit the ­relationship leaving Ian and Victoria to have a ­conventional marriage.

But the twins just don’t see that there’s a problem. They admit they argue constantly but insist that the one thing they agree on is their love for Ian.

Amanda says: “One day, I hope that I might find a man of my own but at the moment this is working well for us all.” Right from the start, when Victoria suggested it, Amanda thought it was a great idea.

“I was devastated after my previous relationship ended,” she says. “My self-esteem was on the floor.

“So when Vicky invited me to join her in her relationship with Ian, I felt grateful – and excited.

“My sister and I traditionally have different tastes in men, but I’ve always found Ian attractive, and it was easy falling in love with him. Me and Vicky shared everything growing up. Now we share the same soulmate.”


Victoria and Amanda with Ian

But Amanda readily agrees that each twin brings something very different to the ­arrangement.

“Vicky and Ian are very much more lovey-dovey together than I am with him.

“My relationship with Ian is a lot more fiery. It’s much more physical and we enjoy each other sexually with great passion.

“Although one of the ground rules is that the three of us never make love at the same time, that’s just not my thing.

“I want to share my life with someone who gives me everything and although Ian is shared with my twin, I feel he gives me that.

“We’re living every day blissfully, and that’s what counts.

“Our relationship might be unusual, but it works for us.”


Source: The Daily Mirror

Original Article

PHOTOS: Bishop Zaidan departs from Detroit after 11-day trip

Bishop Abdullah Elias Zaidan was honored with a dinner at La Saj Lebanese Bistro before departing from Michigan. Bishop Zaidan was in Metro Detroit on an outreach mission to better understand the needs of the Michigan Maronite community.

KEY QUOTES – Bishop A. Elias Zaidan

“I want each one of you to try to get 5 extra names minimum; that’s from a practical point-of-view,” Bishop Zaidan began. “Tell them, we need you to become part of our community, we love you. We’re there to express our love to them. If you want to bring someone to church, love them.”


“We always neglect a very important element: prayer. Listen to God’s voice in your life and see what God wants from me, tonight, tomorrow, and every night. I’ll tell you personally, whenever I don’t pray, I feel like my life is not balanced,” Bishop Zaidan continued.

KEY QUOTES – Chorbishop Alfred Badawi

 “Besides our friendship, we are your priests. We are your children and you are our father. You can call us anytime and we’ll be there for you. For the past 11 days, we ate together, we drove together, we prayed together, we spoke together, and we planned for the future, for this beautiful community of the Maronites in Detroit,” Chorbishop Alfred Badawi said.


“Your words of wisdom, inspiration, and guidance will always be in our hearts. And I assure you that every word you said to us, it will be fulfilled.”


“You’re still next to me and have supported me all the way. For that, I’m thankful.”

Check out the gallery of photographs above.


Berri to call session to elect president by early May

BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri is expected to convene a Parliament meeting to elect a new president by end of this month or early May, a March 8 source said Sunday, implicitly rejecting the patriarch’s call for an early session this week.

“Speaker Berri will call Parliament into the first session to elect a new president by the end of April or early May,” the source told The Daily Star.

The source said a Parliament meeting, scheduled for Tuesday to debate and vote on the public sector’s controversial salary scale bill, has made holding an early session to elect a new president impossible.

“The wage hike bill might not be approved Tuesday given the remaining differences among lawmakers on revenues and proposed taxes to fund the salary scale,” the source said.

He added that the local, regional and international climate was still in favor of holding the presidential election on time to avert a vacuum in the presidency. “The picture is not yet clear concerning the presidential candidates,” the source said.

Because of Parliament’s session Tuesday, the Cabinet will meet at Baabda Palace Wednesday, a source close to Prime Minister Tammam Salam said. Salam is expected to meet President Michel Sleiman Monday.

Earlier Sunday, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai urged Berri to begin convening Parliament this week to elect a new president, as Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea sounded confident that his March 14 allies would support his candidacy.

“We are all looking forward for the Parliament speaker to announce in the next two days the beginning of sessions to elect a new president who is up to the current political, economic and security challenges,” Rai said in a Palm Sunday Mass in Bkirki, north of Beirut.

Rai said a new president should be “a guarantee for the legitimacy of all constitutional institutions and to push the state forward and open new horizons in our national life.”

“The best choice of the most appropriate and competent president for the country requires plenty of time for voting and consultations.”

Rai indicated that Parliament must begin meeting to elect a new president after it is done debating and voting on the salary scale bill for the public sector employees and teachers.

Lebanon last month entered the two-month constitutional deadline for Parliament to meet to elect a new head of state to replace Sleiman whose six-year term expires on May 25.

Bishop Elias Awdeh, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut, called for the election of a peace-loving president in Lebanon.

“I want a president who loves Lebanon. I want him to be peaceful, a man of peace who has no malice or hatred in his heart,” Awdeh said in a Palm Sunday Mass he led at the St. Georges Cathedral on Njmeh Square in Beirut.

Geagea earlier this month announced he would run for the presidency, unleashing what promises to be a fiercely contested presidential battle, overshadowed by tough security and economic challenges posed by the adverse fallout of the 3-year-old war in Syria.

In addition to Geagea, Western Bekaa MP Robert Ghanem from the March 14 coalition has also announced his candidacy to the country’s top Christian post.

Although the March 14 coalition has not yet officially taken a stance on Geagea’s candidacy, the LF chief appeared to be confident of winning the coalition’s support. “I would not have run in the election if I were not certain of the March 14 alliance’s support for me,” Geagea said in an interview to be published in the Saudi daily Al-Watan Monday.

“My allies in the March 14 coalition are very close to making a decision to support my candidacy to the presidency,” he said. “We have our own political project and we must seek to implement it by all available means.”

“ Lebanon has become an open ground for chaos, which leaves it vulnerable to further deterioration,” Geagea said.“Strong individuals should assume official posts in order to strengthen the state. Lebanon should have a strong president who is capable of implementing a strong political program.”

In another statement, Geagea said he was waiting for his ally, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to endorse his candidacy to the presidency.

“[Former] Prime Minister Saad Hariri has not yet publicly announced that he backs my candidacy to the presidency, bearing in mind that he has once said that Samir Geagea is his candidate for the post,” Geagea told an Algerian radio station Saturday.

“Consequently, I am waiting for his endorsement and the backing of the March 14 parties, because Hariri represents an important political force in Lebanon, and a heavyweight in Parliament and on the streets,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah said Lebanon has a rare chance to elect a “made in Lebanon president” and reiterated its opposition to the renewal of Sleiman’s mandate.

“The Lebanese have an extraordinary opportunity to elect a president with a 100 percent Lebanese will,” Sheikh Nabik Qaouk, deputy head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, told a rally in the southern village of Majdal Zoun.

“We strongly stand firm on the election of a new president and we reject any extension of the current president’s term. This is a final, known and irreversible stance,” he said.

“National interest, the sensitivity of the stage and the gravity of challenges call for the election of a president who can protect Lebanon’s identity, position and national role and who can be trusted to strengthen Lebanon’s position in confronting the Israeli and takfiri aggression.”

Source: The Daily Star

St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church celebrates Palm Sunday

Hundreds of parishioners packed St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in Warren on Sunday to celebrate Palm Sunday. For Christians, Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion, where palm leaves and clothing were laid in his path.

The tight-knit Detroit Maronite community packed the church, making for a standing-room-only service. Chorbishop Alfred Badawi led the Palm Sunday mass, which included a traditional outdoor procession.

“From a religious point of view, we’re receiving Jesus Christ to our home, to our hearts. This is a revival, the way I look at it. We get closer to God. And for the community, to bring everyone together at this holiday and we’re here for the kids, this represents the love and respect of the Maronite community in Detroit,” said Abdou Deban, a longtime and active Maronite parishioner.

Meanwhile, Bishop Abdullah Elias Zaidan led the mass at St. Maron Maronite Catholic Church on Kercheval Avenue in Detroit. This is the Bishop Zaidan’s first visit to Michigan since succeeding Bishop Robert Shaheen.

For St. Sharbel, welcoming the Bishop to Michigan and celebrating Holy Week is a perfect commencement to what is widely considered to be the most important season of the Christian year.

“We’re getting unified around the church, getting focused on what’s important in life. Through church, through Christ and through family, we strengthen this community all together,” Deban said.

Check out the gallery of photos below.


Three children killed in North Lebanon fire

BEIRUT: Three children died Sunday in a fire that erupted at their house in the northern region of Akkar, the National News Agency reported.

The casualties were identified as Hasan Hammoud, 4 years old, his three-year-old sister, Nouhad, and their little brother who was just three months old, Mahdi.

The fire, which broke out on the outskirts of the Akkar town of Halba, might have been caused by electrical wire friction, the NNA report said.

Civil Defense teams were able to extinguish the blaze while forensic experts arrived on the scene and launched an investigation in the incident.

The victims have since been transported to a local hospital.

Source: The Daily Star

Geagea confident of March 14 support for candidacy

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea expressed confidence he will win the support of the March 14 coalition, which has yet to officially back his candidacy for president.

“I would not have run in the elections if I was not certain of the March 14 alliance’s support for me,” Geagea said in an interview to Saudi daily al-Watan to be published Monday.

“The March 14 alliance is very close to making the decision to endorse my candidacy,” he said. “We have our own political agenda and we must seek to implement it by all available means.”

The LF announced earlier this month the party’s nomination of Geagea for the presidency. However, the March 14 alliance, in which the LF is a main force, has yet to comment on his candidacy.

Geagea told the daily that “traditional remedies” are no longer an option for solving the Lebanese crisis, and that is what led him to run for president.

Lebanon has become an open ground for chaos, which leaves it vulnerable to further deterioration,” he said.

“Strong individuals should assume official posts in order to strengthen the state and Lebanon should have a strong president who is capable of implementing a strong political program,” Geagea said.

Source: The Daily Star

Lebanese-American Club of Michigan sponsors Lenten dinner

(WARREN, MI) The Lebanese-American Club of Michigan (LACOM) offered their financial support on Friday during the weekly St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church Lenten dinner. The church welcomed Bishop Abdullah Elias Zaidan during a formal church visit, which was preceded by the Benediction of the Holy Cross.

Bishop Zaidan talked about forgiveness, a trait that is often overlooked among the political bickering and social quarrels.

“I think (forgiveness) is an important subject in our community. It’s important to forgive each other no matter what the issue is,” said Elias Yammine, the Vice-President of LACOM.

The sponsored dinner featured salad, hummus, fish, rice, pasta, lentil soup, and other Lebanese specialities.

“We sponsored part of the lent dinner tonight and we did offer our help to serve the food, but turns out they already had the Ladies Altar Society helping. But one of our LACOM members, Charlie Kadado, helped serve the food,” Yammine continued.

Bishop Zaidan will leave Michigan on Monday. You can count on for continuing coverage of the Bishop’s visit. For more information about St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church, click here.

American Foundation for Auxilia meets with Bishop Zaidan

(WARREN, MI) The American Foundation for Auxilia, a non-profit organization that assists needy children in Lebanon, met with Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan on Friday. Bishop Zaidan is in Michigan for an outreach trip, hoping to learn more about Maronite Catholics in the state.

Led by Samar Malouf, the group of 7 leaders and board members joined Chorbishop Alfred Badawi for the private meeting.

They discussed the economic and social situation in Lebanon, emphasizing a need for non-profit assistance. Bishop Zaidan expressed his full support for their cause. He also promised to send a memo addressed to Maronite priests nationwide, promoting Auxilia’s message and encouraging individual parish support.

Bishop Zaidan leaves Michigan on Monday. will continue to bring you full coverage of the Bishop’s visit.

Woman who threw shoe at Hillary Clinton released from jail

(Reuters) – A woman who threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton as the former U.S. secretary of state was delivering a speech in Las Vegas has been released from jail, and faces possible charges after her arrest for disorderly conduct, officials said on Friday.

Alison Michelle Ernst, 36, was released on her own recognizance just before midnight on Thursday, said Tess Driver, a spokeswoman for the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. Ernst has not been formally charged but is scheduled to appear in court on June 24, Driver said.

Clinton was giving a speech on Thursday at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas when a protester who was not a ticketed guest and was being approached by Secret Service agents threw a shoe at her, said Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie

Video news footage showed Clinton, 66, a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, move to crouch as a flying object flew past her on stage.

The former secretary of state later joked about the incident, asking if it was part of a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show.

Las Vegas police arrested Ernst on suspicion of disorderly conduct, said police spokesman Officer Jose Hernandez. Prosecutors have not decided whether to charge Ernst in the incident, Driver said.

In many parts of the world, throwing a shoe at a political figure is a form of protest. In 2008, a shoe was hurled at then-President George W. Bush when he appeared at a Baghdad news conference with the Iraqi prime minister.

Clinton, who lost the Democratic presidential nomination to then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008, said at a marketing conference in San Francisco earlier this week that she was thinking about running for president again in 2016.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jonathan Oatis)


FULL VIDEO: Hillary Clinton dodges a shoe on stage


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