Fake News Watch: Beware! Lebanon’s water is polluted with … water

A general view shows Ramlet al Bayda, Beirut's last remaining public beach, Lebanon November 20, 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 26 March 2019

Fake News Watch: Beware! Lebanon’s water is polluted with … water

  • A weekly round-up of bogus reports and phony facts in the mainstream and social media.

1 Fears flow over dihydrogen monoxide — aka “water” 

A deadly pollutant in Lebanon’s spring waters has been detected, according to social media rumors.

But the toxin in question — the scary-sounding “dihydrogen monoxide” — is in fact … water.

The chemical term is technically correct, though rarely used in common conversation, and has often been used in parodies, or to evoke fear in the minds of people.

Such was the case in the Middle East recently, after the South Lebanon Water Establishment recently moved to deny social-media rumors claiming spring waters are polluted with the compound.

“Some are circulating on social media a report attributed to the establishment saying that spring waters are polluted with dihydrogen monoxide — which is another unfamiliar chemical name for water,” the organization was quoted as saying by Lebanese media.

“The establishment denies what is being circulated regarding the alleged pollution or its claimed consequences,” it said in a statement quoted by An-Nahar newspaper. 

It described the rumors as a “silly joke” that will “not pass and will be prosecuted lawfully.”

 

2 France denies suspending visas for Algerians 

The French Embassy in Algeria has denied reports claiming that visa applications for Algerian citizens have been suspended in Algiers.

A statement by the embassy said: “Recently, false and strange information has been circulated, which the consul general of France in Algeria has completely denied.”

The statement, cited by Al-Ahram newspaper, described the reports as “false allegations,” adding that consulates across Algeria have not suspended issuing visas. 

 

3 Truth about Egypt student ‘disappearance’

A deputy head at a branch of Azhar University in Egypt has denied rumors claiming that a female student at the college has disappeared.

Osama Abdel Raouf said in statements quoted by Youm7 newspaper that they have contacted the college student’s family and that they confirmed she did not disappear. 

He added: “All the names and numbers of female students on campus have been reviewed and no absence cases have been registered.”

Abdel Raouf warned students of engaging in circulating such rumors, saying that those who will do so will be “immediately dismissed” from campus.


Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Updated 20 February 2020

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.