Wednesday 13 February 2008


Lebanon Food Drink Report paints a bleak picture of structural problems in the agricultural industry:

Much of 2006's harvest was left to rot in the fields, as the bombing campaign forced farmers to abandon their crops. It was near impossible to transport what has been harvested due to the extensive road damage.

This coincided with the peak harvest time for export crops such as fruits and potatoes, therefore robbing many farmers of an important source of income. The presence of tens of thousands of unexploded cluster bombs meant that many farmers have been too scared to enter their fields, particularly after a series of deaths and maimings from these bombs.

Agriculture accounts for almost 70% of total household income in southern Lebanon, and according to the FAO estimates, 25% of cultivated land in the south has been rendered useless until the unexploded bombs can be removed.

Due to this lack of income, many farmers have fallen into debt.

Despite the fact that the agro-food industry employs 25% of Lebanons private-sector wage earners, the industry suffers from a chronic dearth of qualified labour.

Nahr el-Bared

What is wrong with this statement from UNRWA's Karen Abu Zayd?

“We will not only reconstruct the old camp, but also make it a better environment in which our architectural plans ensure that people have access to daylight no matter where they live; there will be ventilation where there was no ventilation before; and we will create open spaces for the benefit of the population, especially the children, while also keeping in mind the legitimate security concerns of the Lebanese army and government.”

Yup its the last part "open spaces" for the children, and err… the "legitimate security concerns of the Lebanese army."

Couched in the happy sounding "space and light" is that the camp will be rebuilt so that it cannot be defended by Palestinians. Refugee camps are built with narrow alleys to help its defenders, so the open spaces will give the advantage to besiegers, whether the army, the Lebanese Froces or other militias.

Assassin strikes resistance leader

Imad Mughniyeh, a major militant figure wanted by the US for his suspected role in the 1983 bombing of US barracks in Beirut, was killed in a car bomb.

The AP news agency has the story.

The attack on the barracks was an audacious act that rescued Lebanon from a prolonged US and French military occupation—and delayed a resurgent US imperialism for at least a decade. There will be reams of editorials on the death of a "master terrorist", but Sursock has no doubt that history will judge Mughniyeh as a patriot and a fighter.

Monday 11 February 2008

Homeless in Cairo

There are an estimated half a million street children in Egypt. Many of them are in precarious situation and face violence on the streets. This video short looks at the lives of 10-year-old Sayyida, who’s been living rough for at least two years, and single mother Fatma. While they can go to a drop-in centre to get food in the daytime, they face an array of hazards at night in an increasingly hostile environment on the streets.

This video short highlights the dangers faced by people living on Cairo’s streets in a country of some 80 million people bursting at the seams.

Jumblat rant—number 768

More rants from the looney tunes of Lebanese politics. According to the Daily Star Walid Jumblat told a rally of his [not] Progressive [nor] Socialist [or even a] Party rally: "If you want chaos, we welcome chaos. If you want war, we welcome war. We have no problem with weapons and no problem with rockets, we can take the rockets from you. We may have to burn everything, but our existence, our honor, our survival and Lebanon are more important."

Just ot show that Jumblat wasn't messing his militia then opened fire randomly on the local headquarters of the rival Lebanese Democratic Party in Aley, a town outside Beirut.

Meanwhile word from Beirut is that the March 14 cabal have been running around firing guns in the air as a way of inspiring people to mark the anniversary of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri—what's wrong with handing out flyers?