Thursday, December 27, 2007


Am preparing some stories here on Harryzzz on this major, major event.

Check via the Pakistan label earlier posts on Pakistan and Benazir Bhutto.

Harald Doornbos

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Not a lot of news during X-mass. Pope says something in Rome. Guy blows himself up north of Baghdad. A Hollywood church catches fire on X-mass eve.

So time for something entirely off topic. Watch this hilarious sketch of the Medieval Help desk. It was done by some Norwegian comedians, translation is in English. Very funny.

Harald Doornbos

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I've been away for a short while and when I came back to Beirut, my Internet connection had stopped working. Thus: Ten days without any new postings on Harryzzz.

But OK, I'm back, the Internet is working again and even the electricity situation here has improved (At least, in my area of Beirut).

Very recently I started the series: The Bullshit they tell you. The first culprit was the BBC, now it is the main Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

As I live in the Middle East, I did not manage to read a Volkskrant for about a year. So I was truly exited when I recently got my hands on a copy. Even better; in it was a story on Lebanon. The article was on some Lebanese people using humor to deal with the current political crisis. Written by Beirut based Volkskrant correspondent Ferry Biederman, it was an OK story. So far so good.

But here comes the bullshit. The article was printed with a huge picture of a Beirut bar, called 1975 (see pictures above). The caption in De Volkskrant goes as follows: CUSTOMERS IN THE NEWLY OPENED BAR '1975' IN BEIRUT CAN FULLY RELIVE THE BLOODY LEBANESE CIVIL WAR, WHICH STARTED IN 1975.

Uuuuups. Volkskrant, we have a problem! Newly opened bar? Huh??? I've been to bar 1975 around 2.5 years ago. Would not call that newly opened. And the hilarious thing is that bar 1975 did so badly that it went BANKRUPT and CLOSED a year ago. So it wasn't even closed recently.

This wanky mistake, to be clear, wasn't made by the correspondent. He did not even mention bar 1975 in his text. Here clearly a photo editor of De Volkskrant is to blame.

I know how these things work. Picture this: Office in Amsterdam. Outside it's shitty weather, inside its boringly warm. Some kind of Volkskrant photo editor needs a picture for Biederman's story. So he searches his/her database and types in the key words Lebanon/humor/civil war. Ah, got it! AFP has a picture of some weird looking bar in Beirut where Lebanese have a drink in a war-like environment. Goes well with the story. And let's just write in the caption the bar was recently opened. Now it immediately proves Biederman's story that Lebanese are using humor to deal with the current crisis.

Why do I make such a big deal about this? Well, because it just shows a total lack of interest/knowledge/passion for the facts. Because who cares if its true or not. You know, it is only Lebanon, a place we really dont give a fuck about. And who will ever find out about some kind of bar in Beirut?

Sorry mate, but here are two pictures I made a couple of days ago of the current bar 1975. Looks pretty closed to me. And not a lot of humor around.

So this photo editor is trying to sell the readers bullshit. By the way, if you do a search on the Internet, you will find that AFP (the same agency which made the photo) did a story about bar 1975 back in early November 2004.

Either photo editor had a very bad day or he/she tried to lie to the public. Verdict: Guilty!

Harald Doornbos

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Here on harryzzz, the start of a new little series called: The Bullshit they tell you...

Because, just like you, I'm reading and watching the world news. But, not just like you, I'm actually sometimes running around in these parts of the world.

This gives me the possibility to tell you when a journalist or media company is telling you BULLSHIT or not. I cover the Middle East and Pakistan - so I'll keep a close watch on stories from there. Note: I'm picking on any mistake I come across, I don't have anything against any specific media outlet.

Ok, here BULLSHIT REPORT Nr. 1. And the suspect is the good old, very reliable BBC.

Step 1: Go to this web page (right click and open in new window):

Step 2: Click on: audio and video news: On patrol with the army in the Swat Valley.

Step 3: Watch the video report. It starts with: Until earlier this year Pakistan's Swat valley was popular with tourists...

Immediately after that, from 08.00 sec onward, the BBC guy aboard the helicopter says: "Now a military helicopter is our only way in."


A military helicopter the only way in? Yeah, right. Bullshit! BBC guy flew from outside Swat to the city of Mingora, inside Swat. I did, very recently, the exact same route by car. And not in some kind of 4-wheel drive vehicle, but in this one - together with my taxidriver!!! (see picture).

The trip, by car, from Islamabad to Mingora takes around 6 hours. The Taliban militants are mainly active north and east of Mingora, not south and west (the way you get into the area). All roads from Islamabad or Peshawar to Mingora are open. Of course, way too many details that TV can't be bothered with.

Hey, I immediately agree that it is much cooler to fly in by a helicopter, than to drive in with a little taxi. But to claim that "now a military helicopter is the only way in" is total bullshit.

So, yes, the report wants you to believe a lie. It misinforms the public by sexing up a story. Verdict: Guilty!

Harald Doornbos

Monday, December 03, 2007


The following video's aren't particularly nice to watch. I did not shoot this stuff, I only found it on the Internet where these clips started appearing between 6 weeks and three days ago.

The clips, basically, show Lebanese and, possibly Palestinians, roughing up arrested members of Fatah al Islam, the Al-Qaeda-inspired terror group responsible for the violence in and around the Nahr al Bared camp (May 20th - September 2nd 2007), in northern Lebanon. Fatah al Islam killed around 170 Lebanese soldiers - which largely explains why these terrorists are being roughed up after they got arrested by the Lebanese authorities.

To some viewers the pictures may look terrible or cruel. To all of us, it will look disturbing.

But this story is all about context. It might be a good idea to remember how 'we' treated traitors after the Second World War. Yes, the body of Mussolini was hanged - up side down - on the roof of a petrol station. And to keep him in that position, they used a meat hook from a nearby butcher.

Not very nice indeed, but rather understandable. Same with the treatment of these Fatah al Islam guys (No meat hook though, 'only' some beatings). Do not forget that most of these fighters are actually foreign islamists who came to Lebanon to fight, kill and behead Lebanese civilians and soldiers who definitely did not ask for this kind of madness.

Again, I did not shoot these video's. Soon more on this though. I'm working on an English translation so people who don't speak Arabic (like me!) can understand what is said. I also will try to find out who is who in these video's and where and when did it take place. As so often with stuff from the Internet - you easily lose track of basics like: What, where, when, why and who.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Video 4 (first 50 seconds shows the blowing up of a building at Nahr al Bared, as of 0.51 the 'interrogation' of four Fatah al Islam members in the back of an ambulance):

The first three clips were originally published here:

The last one came from here:

Most Fatah al Islam-members are currently detained in the Roumieh prison, nearby Beirut.

Harald Doornbos

Saturday, December 01, 2007


While Lebanon's saga of choosing a new president continues, this Harryzzz exlusive news might shine some new light on the whole thing.

According to a well informed source here in Beirut, the following:

Future-leader Saad Hariri and president Emile Lahoud met, in the presidential palace, on Wednesday 21st November [two days before Lahoud was to resign] and agreed on Michel Suleiman as Lebanon's new president. According to this source, Suleiman himself was present, as were the army commander for the north and the army commander for the south. A member of Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement also attended the meeting, but it is unclear to me who. Hezbollah wasn't there.

According to this source, the meeting wasn't very much about negotiations, but more about celebrations. In other words: Hariri came to the palace (which is highly awkward, as he and his party boycott the president) to congratulate Suleiman on his new job while at the same time, Hariri took the opportunity to make a last moment peace with outgoing president Lahoud.

Considering this information is true, I personally don't get it why it wasn't publicly announced and why Hezbollah, being close allies of Michel Aoun's party, still need more time for consultations (next meeting on electing the president is scheduled for December 7th).

At the other hand: He or she who truly understands Lebanese politics, please contact harryzzz for cake and drinks....

Harald Doornbos