Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

Nothing but the truth. Even if against me.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Day in the Environmental Disaster Called Lebanon

The Abu-Ali River and its banks, in the heart of the city of Tripoli in northern Lebanon, is suddenly tainted with a phosphorescent green and/or red color.

Reports say that a huge load of bags containing an orange-colored phosphorescent material lay discarded by the roadside in the area of Abu-Samra. Rainfall causes seepage from the bags into the river and is carried by automobiles along several kilometers of the road.

You can also see from the pictures that the river, like all rivers in Lebanon, are reduced by the environmentally-concerned Lebanese authorities and developers into sewage conduit-like canals, into which the environmentally-educated Lebanese population dumps all kinds of trash, from household trash and plastic bags, tires, and garbage miscellany, all the way to industrial waste that environmentally-sensitive Lebanese construction and chemical-plastic companies (the two dominant industries in Lebanon) contribute routinely to our waterways. Barely a month ago, the Litani River in the south - which the ultra-patriotic Lebanese always claim to defend against Israeli greed for water - was itself the subject of an environmental disaster caused by industries protected by known politicians and members of parliament and illegally operating upstream and dumping their waste. Of course, it all has been hushed because we no longer hear anything about it.

The Abu-Ali/Tripoli disaster is just one example that jumped at us. Had the bags and their contents not been colored, no one would have noticed. But stupidity is in the local genes. Out of sight, out of mind. There is not one square inch of Lebanese territory that is not trashed by waste, trash and garbage, much of it of unknown nature and potentially very dangerous. It's just that the color in the Abu-Ali case makes the disaster zone that the Lebanese live in visible. But the problem is pervasive and is insidious. We don't know what we breathe, what we eat, what we drink, we have no idea what the ground we walk on contains. And the Lebanese wonder why everyone it seems has some form of cancer. It is part of the culture: You walk into a Lebanese home and it is impeccably nerdy and anally-retentive with cleanliness, all maintained by uniform-laced maids from exotic countries You can smell the chemicals everywhere that are used to clean the household. But as soon as you step outside or look out of a window, and your gaze is graced with rubbish, dirt, unfinished construction debris, plastic bags and bottles...right under the windows and noses of the ultra-hygienic Lebanese and their homes. The primitiveness of it all is symptomatic: An abject lack of awareness that the public space is also my space, and that I am responsible for it as much as I am responsible for my own private space. This sense of individual responsibility vis-a-vis the collective is non-existent. Schools do not teach it. Corrupt governments and oligarchic sectarian political parties do not encourage it. They are all more brainwashed to believe in the intercession of priests, nuns, sheikhs, saints, messiahs, prophets, soothsayers, charlatans, diviners and self-proclaimed representatives of God on earth belonging to 18 different cults. When real world problems are insurmountable, resorting to the supernatural is normal. All backward societies do it. Real world problems...ahh, who cares? God takes care of all of it for me, so why should I bother? The environment? It's all in God's hands.

You should see the Beirut River, once a playground of my childhood. It was full of animal life (tadpoles by the millions would make the water seem like boiling, and the music of the frogs filled the summer nights). Stretching itself over a vast river bed in a beautiful valley and meandering itself down the mountain and into the Mediterranean. Today it is a disgusting concrete sewage and garbage disposal canal bounded by two concrete walls to make space for stupid highways to accommodate more and more black-smoke spewing cars, and into which hallucinating quantities and kinds of garbage flow whenever the rain falls, all of which goes into the Mediterranean at the exact spot where a huge fish market exists. If you're ever in Lebanon, do NOT eat fish. DO NOT EAT FISH. God only knows what heavy metals and organic waste the fishes have accumulated in their flesh.

Some of you have read recently about the seagulls near Beirut Airport. Because the Costa Brava (go figure why the Lebanese can't use Arabic or Lebanese names) waste dumpsite is abutting the takeoff-landing strips of the airport, it attracts seagulls which pose a threat to the aircrafts. The solution of the Lebanese authorities? Hire 125 thugs with their otherwise illegally-owned shotguns to a shooting spree to kill the seagulls, with free cartridges and US$100 each day. On other days, these idiots would be hunting and killing, purely as a hobby, sparrows, finches, bluejays, warblers, and any migratory birds (geese, hawks, larks...) that dare travel overland between Africa and Europe, such that you never hear a bird sing in the hills of Lebanon. But now, these pathetic bastards are praised as heroes by government and airport officials as defenders of lucrative tourism against annoying birds! As of January 18, 2017, the 125 thugs have killed 10,800 birds. Now if anybody, shooting thugs and government or airport idiots alike, had bothered to ask any biologist, they would learn that culling a bird population like this may provide a temporary respite, but that birds from elsewhere in the country will likely and very soon fill the empty ecological niche left by the dead birds.

And they call it the Switzerland of the Middle East. What an insult to Switzerland.

Yes, anything that moves and that threatens the Lebanese in their money-making schemes is fair game. The Lebanese need the money to buy gigantic cars, sculpture their women with cosmetic surgery, go to western-looking but otherwise stupid and extravagantly cheap Mediterranean parties with the very fashionable valet parking system (As soon as you arrive, hordes of poorly paid Bengali, Syrian, and Egyptian valet parking operators hustle you, so you hand them your keys and step out of the car thinking to yourself, 'hey, I feel like I am in the Hollywood movie I saw yesterday; I have finally made it; I can afford the 2 bucks, so I am rich. Why park in a parking lot and walk to lose some of my fatty ass...?) Any superficial idiocy from the worst of Western culture they can imitate like baboons, the Lebanese must have even if they have to sell their mothers and their country to rich Gulf Arabs. That is what Lebanon is in many ways: A brothel and a bar for rich Gulf Arabs who can't have their whiskey and their Russian whores in their own country. And Lebanon is more than happy to oblige. President Aoun even went on his first official visit to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, specifically to ask these countries to lift restrictions on their nationals visiting Lebanon. The message is clear: We want your money. Please come back.They were upset because of Aoun's Hezbollah allies.... We'll see if they forgive him and send their Muslim but un-Islamic consumers back to the Arabic-speaking, Christian, pseudo-western Disneyland that Lebanon is.

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