LEBANON PORTFOLIO

A selection of articles, features and investigations undertaken in Lebanon, including a look at Lebanon's underground BDSM scene, the use of deadly Lannate poison on Beirut's streets and how one town's mayor resorted to burning trash.

Read More

INTERNATIONAL PORTFOLIO

A selection of articles, mojo packages and radio pieces undertaken worldwide, including video reports on Scotland's relationship with the EU and refugee integration in Berlin.

Read More

REFUGEE STORIES

A collection of interviews and stories on the refugee crisis worldwide. Particular focus on Syrians now living in Scotland, told from their own perspectives.

Read More

Lebanon animal welfare law one step closer to becoming a reality

The smile hasn’t left the face of Animals Lebanon Director Jason Mier since it was announced Wednesday that the organization’s animal welfare bill had been approved by the Cabinet after over three years of campaigning.

“So much time and resources, by so many good people, and the outcome is exactly what we hoped for,” Mier tells The Daily Star.

Read More

Burj Hammoud: Lebanon’s Little Armenia

When you cross the Beirut River and enter the municipality of Burj Hammoud it seems like another city entirely. Whether you walk down the main promenade, taking in the sights and smells of the famous basterma (pastrami) restaurants, or get lost in the maze of streets selling every kind of artisanal product, Burj Hammoud is distinctly one thing: Armenian. Lebanon is home to around 230,000 persons of Armenian descent, the sixth largest Armenian population outside Armenia worldwide. They came at the beginning of the 20th century, refugees from the Medz Yeghern (Armenian for “the Great Crime”) – the systematic extermination of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian population – disputed as genocide in modern day Turkey, but accepted as such by a growing number of states and individuals worldwide.

Read More

Al-Jazeera journalist detained in Amman over custody dispute

A veteran Al-Jazeera correspondent has been arrested in Amman, Jordan, for refusing to give up custody of her 5-year-old daughter.

Eight hours ago, Rula Amin, posted the news of her arrest with the following tweet: “#rula amin being arrested by police in amman demanding I give up my 5 year old daughter.” There has been no further correspondence from Amin.

Speaking to The Daily Star, a colleague and close friend of Amin, Mysa Khalaf, said Amin was being held in a woman’s detention center in Amman but had not yet been charged.

Read More

Leaks show Lebanese authorities sought spyware

A hacking suite for governmental interception, right at your fingertips. That is how Italy-based spyware company Hacking Team describes its Galileo Remote Control System, billed as a way to “bypass encryption, collect relevant data out of any device and keep monitoring your targets wherever they are, even outside your monitoring domain.” In a twist of irony, HT was itself the victim of a mass hack in July. Termed a “corporate enemy of the Internet” by Reporters Without Borders in 2013, the company had repeatedly denied selling its products to repressive regimes. Entrepreneurial hackers, unsatisfied with these denials, resorted to dumping a treasure trove of 400 GBs worth of data onto the company’s own Twitter feed – renamed “Hacked Team.”

In among these leaks was correspondence with the intelligence branch of the Lebanese Army, General Security and the Cyber Crimes and Intellectual Properties Bureau – all seeking to purchase Galileo.

Read More

Residents angry as Broummana say it has ‘no choice’ but to burn its trash

 

Broummana

The sound of crickets drowned out all other noise as The Daily Star watched as a procession of Sukleen trucks and unmarked pickups filled with sand weaving their way down a mountain path to a makeshift dump at the top of the River Valley on Broummana’s outskirts.

Concerned residents, watching from their homes overlooking the valley, said the garbage dump began two weeks ago Friday, first with nondescript trucks and then with Sukleen.

Read More

Lannate: Highly toxic and widely used in Lebanon

 

Rachel Haddad’s dog Bo was friendly, lively and large, weighing in at 45 kilos. When out for a walk with her mother and young nephew this summer, Bo swallowed a pellet off the ground. He was dead in 12 minutes.

That pellet, according to an autopsy done by the Haddad’s vet, turned out to be Lannate, the trade name for Methomyl; a broad spectrum insecticide designed in 1966 to treat agricultural crops. It is highly toxic to animals and humans, particularly if ingested or absorbed through the eyes.

In fact, the substance is so toxic that even if someone were to pick up a pellet with his/her bare skin there would be some reaction. It is regularly found to be the cause of death of stray cats and dogs, along with pets, across Lebanon.

Read More

Beirut’s underground BDSM scene

Sitting outside a coffee shop in Sassine, Ziad gestures to himself and says, “Look at me. Who could guess I like to whip women? ”

It’s a fair question, like other members of the clandestine Lebanese BDSM community with whom the Daily Star spoke, Ziad comes across as an average, middle-aged guy, the kind you’d expect to see at the office or chain smoking in a cafe. Human sexuality comes up in ordinary conversation often, but BDSM – an umbrella term for bondage, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism – is not a sexual preference many understand.

Read More

Glasgow’s Story: A very Scottish welcome

A Night of Notes (image courtesy of Owen Cook)

A Night of Notes (image courtesy of Owen Cook)

“I thought of the old bigot and the taxi man…do they really not understand? That refugee, asylum seeker, economic migrant…just make our Scotland so much more vibrant”              – extract from Tiff Griffin’s poem Nae Offence

It was a night to celebrate new arrivals, with Glasgow-based singers, songwriters and poets performing pieces inspired by locals’ welcoming letters to refugees.

Read More

Maggie’s Story: A tiny Scottish charity in Arsal

Burnt out camp in Arsal, Lebanon in August 2014. Picture courtesy of Maggie Tookey

Burnt out camp in Arsal, Lebanon (August 2014).  Picture courtesy of Maggie Tookey

Cut off from the rest of Lebanon and accessible by just one road is Arsal, the battle front with ISIS of which you’ve probably never heard.

Largely abandoned by the Lebanese state, the north eastern town on the border with Syria has had to absorb, at a low estimate, over 80,000 Syrian refugees into its population of just 35,000.

At the height of its security problems, when all other aid groups had pulled out over safety fears, it was a small, volunteer-run Scottish charity, Edinburgh Direct Aid (EDA) that was first on the scene.

Read More