The Week in Review from Beirut October 31  1998 ...Search

Clemence Ashkar wins the crown of Miss Lebanon 1998

Lebanon this week crowned a pretty and green-eyed beauty queen as Miss Lebanon 1998. Clemence Ashkar was chosen from among 23 charming young ladies. She was handed the crown of diamond and pearl by Miss Lebanon 1997, Joelle Bohlok. She also walked off the podium with prizes ranging from cash to jewelry and a new car altogether worth more than 100,000 US dollars.

Clemence is an 18-year-old university student majoring in Sociology and Public Relations.

The first and second runner-ups were Katia Kehdy and Joelle Khodor. The "Miss Photogenic" title went to Shireen Najjar and "Miss Elegance" to Reine Sabty. Also commended was Joelle Rahme who was awarded the "Miss Sociability" title.

The event was held under the patronage of Tourism Minister Nicola Fattoush and it was covered live by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI). More than a thousand people gathered at the Beirut Hall for the occasion, including a great number of local, Arab, and foreign figures.

Miss Lebanon campaigns for keeping Lebanon green

Four days following her coronation as Miss Lebanon 1998, Clemence Ashkar started her year's reign with a promise to campaign for reforestation. The new beauty queen spoke to reporters during her first press conference Tuesday held at the Regency Palace Hotel in Adma.

Answering to a question on the causes she will be campaigning for, Clemence stressed her main interest was in reforestation. " It is an issue which concerns every Lebanese citizen and every Lebanese official, " she added.

Clemence said she plans to visit Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, Environment Minister Akram Shhayyeb, and Tourism Minister Nicola Fattoush to brief them on her environmental concerns. She also revealed she would try to work on a number of cultural and human issues in the country.

NGO's call for turning Beirut's race track into a public park

A number of non-governmental organizations in the country are campaigning for a public park to replace the capital's famous racetrack. They are also calling on the Municipality of Beirut to move the track to another area stressing the need of all citizens, including children, for large green spaces.

Environment Minister Akram Shhayyeb voiced his backing for the campaign by signing a petition in this regard. He also gave campaigners his full support, advising them to expand their efforts to include people from all over the country. But the whole issue has drawn protests from stable-owners, horse-breeders, and especially race-goers and lovers.

Still, a number of environmental and heritage organizations in the country, including SOS environment and Green Oasis, are currently lobbying politicians to sign their petition in reaction to municipality plans to upgrade and modernize the track.

Greenpeace says Lebanese authorities are secretly planning to burn hazardous hospital waste

The Greenpeace Mediterranean Office this week issued a press release saying that the Ministry of Environment and the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) are secretly planning to build a hospital waste incinerator in the country. "A hospital waste management study commissioned by the CDR and financed by a World Bank loan lists the expensive and polluting incineration as a possible solution," said Fouad Hamdan, Lebanon campaigner of Greenpeace Mediterranean.

"But governmental sources told Greenpeace that the report also mentions environmentally friendly technologies that cost much less, like microwaving and steam sterilization. In the meantime, the authorities are carrying out an environmental impact assessment study of an incinerator," Hamdan told a medical congress at Beirut's Hotel-Dieu Hospital.

The press release added Greenpeace fears that the authorities would set up a huge incinerator so that it becomes economically viable. This will only open up the door for excessive waste-generation, encourage waste trade and divert capital from waste prevention and recycling activities.

Currently, total daily hospital waste production in Lebanon is approximately 46,000 kg, about 9,000 kg of which are hazardous. Of the 9,000 kg of the daily hazardous waste, 14% are incinerated in the hospitals, a quarter are treated in the worst possible fashion, that is open-air incineration. Municipalities collect nearly half of the hazardous waste, and the destination of the remaining 11% of the hazardous waste pool is unknown.

Educational and Vocational Forum aims at helping students decide on their future

The Fourth Educational and Vocational Forum organized by the Hariri Foundation opened at the Beirut Hall which was packed by thousands of high school students coming from all over the country. The forum aims at helping Lebanese students decide on their future university majors. It also highlights the opportunities of technical and vocational training in the country through impressive exhibits and stands. The event comes under the framework of the foundation's campaign to promote vocational education among the country's youth.

The ceremony was held under the patronage and in the presence of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's wife, Nazek Al-Hariri. The head of the parliamentary education committee, Deputy Bahiyya Al-Hariri, the head of  the foundation Mustafa Zaatari and a number of educational figures in the country were also present at the opening.

LAU proposes partnership with Arab Journalists Union

The Lebanese American University's Journalism Program Coordinator and its Publications Director, Mrs. Magda Abu-Fadil, this week proposed a partnership program with the head of the editors' syndicate, Melhem Karam, linking the university's Institute for Professional Journalists with the Union of Arab Journalists, of which he is vice president for vocational affairs.

Abu-Fadil also briefed Karam on the university's student media activities and various publications. LAU journalism students have access to a computerized and networked newsroom which they use for writing, editing, scanning of pictures, layout and design in their courses and for their own paper, The LAU Tribune. They also capitalize on information sources through the Internet.

Abu-Fadil told Karam about the Institute for Professional Journalists' first activities - a series of summer media workshops at LAU featuring training sessions for reporters and editors seeking to upgrade their writing, editing, and reporting skills in English and Arabic. The workshops were organized jointly by LAU and the U.S.- based Knight International Press Fellowship Program.

Karam congratulated Abu-Fadil on her efforts and said he would present her partnership proposal to the union at its next meeting.

International Herald Tribune signs venture with Lebanon's Star

In a press release distributed to the Lebanese media earlier this week, Peter Goldmark, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the International Herald Tribune, and Jamil K. Mroue, Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Daily Star, announced that the newspapers have joined forces to print and distribute a package of two independent newspapers for daily distribution in Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East.

The combined newspaper will include the entire edition of the International Herald Tribune -- plus The Daily Star, which provides two sections, one covering Lebanese news and one specialized in Middle East news, all in English.

The press release added the new newspaper package will deliver a unique international look at world politics, business, culture and sports from the International Herald Tribune, while providing local coverage by The Daily Star of the day's news in the region, including economics, commentary and entertainment listings.

The venture makes Beirut the 16th of the International Herald Tribune's remote printsite locations spread over three continents.

Harlem Globetrotters walk into town over the weekend

The famous US basketball squad, the Harlem Globetrotters, arrived in Beirut earlier this week on their first trip here since 1955. Their mission is always to entertain audiences through a delightful blend of athleticism and slapstick.

The travelling basketball troop held two exhibition games against the New York Nationals and a competitive game against Lebanese All Stars. During their three-day-visit to Lebanon, the Globetrotters also organized free basketball clinics for the game's fans across the country.

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