Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Surprise! We’ll be back on the regular Friday schedule in 2021, but this week and next week the newsletter will come early to accommodate the holidays.
This year has painfully tested us in many ways. However you’re choosing to observe the holiday season — or even if you’re not observing — I hope you’re finding some time to step away from work, school, and/or other stresses in your life and to take this opportunity to recharge and celebrate family, friends, and loved ones.
Happy holidays, my friends!
We’ve got a lot of content to get into, so I’m keeping it short and moving straight to the highlights of the week:
Relatives of the victims of Beirut’s port explosion in August gathered around a Christmas tree adorned with the names of their loved ones. And there’s still zero accountability from the government.
Truly disgusting to see President Trump pardon the four Blackwater contractors who killed and wounded unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007. This Twitter thread by the lawyer who represented six of the Iraqi families in court (including the family of Ali Kinani, the 9-year-old boy who was one of the victims of this massacre) should be required reading.
Honestly, I love everything about Sesame Street. Earlier this week, they introduced two new Muppets to their cast, Noor and Aziz, who are Rohingya Muslim twins and will appear alongside Elmo, Big Bird, and the gang for educational programming in Rohingya for refugees.
This was an interesting (but heartbreaking) feature on the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall — for decades a gathering place for Black Los Angeles — and how COVID has completely upended small businesses inside, rendering the mall a ghost town.
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern & North African artists) 🎧
Sebny - MC Amin
Jennifer - Soolking featuring Lynda, Heuss L’enfoiré, L’Algérino, and Franglish
Wana - Leil
Bahlam Maak - Najat Al Saghira
Stuck In America - Rotana
Maskhara - Bashar Murad
B3ida - Flenn
Se’aat - Koast featuring Ratchopper
Ya Leila - Hisham Abbas
Laylat Eid - Fairuz
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx & Hispanic artists) 🎤
CHIMBITA - Feid featuring Sky Rompiendo
Turnin’ Me On - Nina Sky
La Pena - Tainy featuring Dylan Fuentes
Dile - Ivy Queen
La Yarará - Malena Zavala
Suavidade - Lexa featuring Pk
Suga Suga - Baby Bash featuring Frankie J
Agua Dulce, Agua Salá - Julio Iglesias
Ojos Así - Shakira
Cantares de Navidad - Trio Vegabajeño
🎼 Other Music 🎼
Peng Black Girls (Remix) - ENNY featuring Jorja Smith
We’ve Got It Goin’ On - Backstreet Boys
Georgia - Brittany Howard
1985 - Juls featuring Tay Iwar and p-rallel
Do It To It - Cherish featuring Sean Paul of Youngbloodz
Liar - Abigail Asante
Start It Up - Alex Mali
Love Again - Dua Lipa
Let It Snow - Boyz II Men featuring Brian McKnight
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanese Officials Try to Limit Inquiry Into Deadly Beirut Blast - Ben Hubbard, The New York Times
Months after a huge explosion in Beirut’s port, the investigation has become mired in politics as powerful forces band together to block efforts to hold leaders accountable.
'Like Xanax': In Lebanon, crisis comedy combats trauma - Tony Gamal-Gabriel, Agence France-Presse
Lebanese comedians are bringing relief and defying taboos with jokes about dating, partying during the pandemic -- and how even drug dealers are considering leaving the crisis-hit country.
How nurse Pamela Zeinoun rescued three babies after Beirut’s explosion - Chloe Cornish, Financial Times
She picked her way through debris to extract them from smashed incubators. Then she carried them for hours to safety.
A small firm’s survival story may be Lebanon’s 2020 silver lining - Timour Azhari, Al Jazeera
Economic collapse, COVID and a port explosion tested Styro 3D this year, but its path out of crises could signal a broader transformation is finally afoot.
The blast that blew away Lebanon's faith in itself - Samia Nakhoul, Reuters
Beirut has been blown back to the vigils of its 1975-1990 civil war. Then, families demanded information about relatives who had disappeared. Many never found out what happened, even as the country was rebuilt. Today’s mourners know what happened; they just don’t know why.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
In Morocco, Press Freedom Advocates Say Sex Charges are Used to Silence Journalists - Aida Alami, Nieman Reports
Despite a state-backed crackdown, some journalists are managing to do independent reporting.
‘My goal is justice for all Syrians’: one man’s journey from jail to witness for the prosecution - Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian
Anwar al-Bunni devoted his life to human rights in Syria. Now in exile in Germany, he is part of a landmark first prosecution for war crimes against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The Story Of 1-Year-Old Abdullah Is The Story Of Yemen - Rosemary Misdary, NPR
His parents traveled 15 hours by bus to bring him to a clinic to save his life. He weighed 6 pounds. And he could be one of the fortunate ones.
A decade after the Tunisian revolution, we’re still fighting for freedom and change - Emel Mathlouthi, The Washington Post
Tunisian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi writes, “We didn’t expect how strong the foundations of our autocracy were — and how quickly we would hand over our freedoms to those we elected.”
Palestinian refugees celebrate Biden-Harris win, hope for relief - Leila Molana-Allen and Connie Kargbo, PBS NewsHour
President-elect Biden's win was met with jubilation and hope for a better future among many of the thousands of Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon. But the reality may not be as rosy, with many other domestic and international priorities far higher on the new administration's list, and limited funds.
🎶 Music & Culture 🎶
The Year Live Music Stopped - Marc Hogan, Pitchfork
Most musicians’ primary source of income is gone, venues everywhere are struggling, and the government hasn’t come through on an aid package. It’s hard not to lose hope, but in talking with professionals across the industry and looking to regions around the world, we gain perspective on how to rebuild live music from the ground up.
Netflix’s new adaptation of August Wilson’s play understands the singular magic of the blues.
In a year divided by before and after, pop music became whatever you wanted it to be - Maura Johnston, The Boston Globe
The lockdown that hit this spring — and still persists nine months later — served as a dividing line between pop as a communal experience and as something infinitely personal.
How Nostalgia (and Snoop Dogg) Sparked a Retro Hockey-Jersey Craze - Jacob Gallagher, The Wall Street Journal
From Adidas’s ongoing partnership with the NHL to styles by streetwear labels like Supreme, throwback jerseys are infiltrating the fashion world.
2020 Looked Bleak. Then DJ iMarkkeyz Remixed It. - Zoe Haylock, Vulture
Metaphorically unmasking the DJ whose viral videos soundtracked this year.
📚 Other Reads 📚
They risk their lives cleaning hospitals. Now, they get vaccinated. ‘We’re indispensable, just like any other person’ - Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times
In the intensive care units, environmental services workers do some of the humblest work in hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients. But they are so integral to patient care that they were among the first to get inoculated this week as the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech rolled out across the country.
Irradiated, Cheated and Now Infected: America’s Marshall Islanders Confront a Covid-19 Disaster - Dan Diamond, POLITICO
The United States used their homeland for nuclear test-bombing, then denied them Medicaid. Now, their way of life in the U.S. heartland has left them prime prey for the pandemic.
MIT to NBA coach? Sonia Raman’s extraordinary path to the Grizzlies - Jared Weiss, The Athletic
The allure of the court is present for most law students. But as strong as it was for Raman, it wasn’t quite the same court as her peers at Boston College Law School.
COVID patients are dying alone in Bay Area hospitals, with digital devices the only way to say goodbye - Tatiana Sanchez, San Francisco Chronicle
These moments have become all the more gut-wrenching for doctors and families, and devices like iPads have taken on a dark new role, as the deadliest coronavirus surge continues.
How the FBI Coerced This Muslim Immigrant Into Working as an Informant - Mazin Sidahmed, Documented NY
Immigrants vulnerable to deportation are sometimes coerced into becoming FBI informants with the promise of adjusting their status. For five years, the FBI dangled this promise in front of Fatma until one day she gave up and decided to break up with them.
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