Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 2nd, 2012

“A Taxi to Benghazi” by Marie-Lys Lubrano 

Marie-Lys Lubrano is a French girl with a camera and of about 25 years. She is doing freelance to the French magazine Marianne and she missed out on Tunisia revolt.

As she landed in Cairo, she realized that she missed out on the Egyptian revolt: Mubarak was ousted.

Marie-Lys’ girlfriend Gratiane is planning from Paris to pay a visit to Yemen in turmoil, but obtaining a visa to far away archaic Yemen will have to wait for a long time. Marie-Lys stumbles on an email claiming that an insurrection has started in Benghazi (Libya) and is trying to change Gratiane mind to reconsider and go together to cover the revolt in Libya.

Marie-Lys had no idea that east Libya is on the border with Egypt, and she thought Tripoli was the Lebanese norther port city, and she could not recall the name Qadhafi and who he was: Qadhafi actually erected his tent in 2007 in the Elyse (Paris) before meeting with President Sarkozy…

Marie-Lys is totally ignorant about geography and the Arab world, but she has a camera and is willing to ask plenty of questions and take a lot of risks on front lines battle fields…Marie-Lys’ has not yet experienced fear and how battle fields look like…

Foreign young foreign photographers and correspondents rush to cover dangerous events, not knowing that the country is in a state of war…as long as they have a freelance job…

Marie-Lys converges to the headquarter of Egypt medical association and asks to join the volunteering medical staff heading to Libya. The convoys are organized by the Moslem Brotherhood Party that has the means and the capability of putting together convoys, but a very few physicians and surgeons are members of that Islamic political party.

From Cairo to Alexandria to the border with Libya and off to Benghazi, the eastern Capital of Libya where the insurrection started 3 days ago and hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were killed and injured by Qadhafi forces, shot to kill point-blank.

The hospitals in Benghazi were crumbling with seriously injured demonstrators and the morgue were already overflowing. But the inhabitants managed to chase out Qadhafi armed loyalists that regrouped in towns west of Benghazi.

The first lesson for Marie-Lys was to differentiate between Libya regular army and the battalions of the Presidential guards, formed mostly of African mercenaries: Qadhafi kept the regular army poorly armed because he learned not to trust it.

First, Qadhafi came to power by a military coup d’etat and never relinquished power for 43 years and crushed several military attempts to depose him…

Qadhafi main power relied on his own well armed battalions (kataeb), strong with tanks and modern missiles and airforce and navy…One of the 7 sons of Qadhafi, Khamis, headed a katiba and was considered as the real bloody nemesis to the armed insurgents. You could compare Khamis with the ruthless Maher el Assad, brother of President Bashar of Syria, who head a Syrian katiba and is found everywhere, bloodily putting down upheavals in major cities like Deraa, Homs, Hama, Edleb…

You will discover that Qadhafi has eliminated the postal service 20 years ago and Libyans could not send letters inside or outside Libya and the eastern province of Benghazi was forgotten in the government “budget” for decades and surgeons were paid less than $250 per month and only tribes that were loyal to Qadhafi received stipends…and women had no idea that birth control pills existed or what is a tampon for their monthly periods.  Even the physicians were totally ignorant on birth control and women hygiene practices…

For example, a medical graduate girl of 33 of age had no idea how tampons are used and what for, and she believed that having intercourse during the period could result in certain death: She thought that this knowledge was in medical books until she recalled that it was the Koran that prohibited this practice…

It dawned on Marie-lys that Libya is in a state of war when she realized that women were nowhere to be found: Women were locked in their houses for fear of being raped if they stepped outside, kind of opportunities waiting to be taken advantage of…One surgeon begged his sister physician to visit the hospital and help with her skills, but she would not dare come out and stayed home cooking to the extended family (living a dozen in crowded two rooms) and doing laundry…

However, during mass demonstrations, it was the women who raised the most politically oriented slogans of liberty, equality, freedom, job opportunities… while the men kept shouting “Allah wa Akbar” ad nauseam

Marie-Lys insisted to joining insurgent and medical teams to the front lines and she was sheltered and cared for and kept close to the heads of the groups.  One insurgent admitted that he would have retreated many times but refrained as Marie-Lys kept pushing forward and he was not to be considered a coward by a girl…

Qadhafi counteroffensives were close to entering Benghazi when the French young philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy showed up in Benghazi and claimed that France officially recognized the transitory government CNT, taking care of the Benghazi city services…

Marie-Lys was speechless because Bernard-Henri was not a political emissary, even if he claimed to have a direct phone line with president Sakozy…Bernard-Henri and Sarkozy have demonstrated for years their antipathy to Arabs and to Islam, and Bernard-Henri missed out on the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.

It turned out that France got engaged in insuring a “No fly Zone” over Libya and its airforce bombed the advancing columns of tanks in south Benghazi… Before France military engagement, Libyans had vacated the towns and cities in the eastern provinces and were heading toward Egypt border…

Marie-Lys followed the medical teams and ambulances to the front lines and witnessed gruesome cases of atrocities…At one point, the NATO purposely bombed advancing insurgents because the “red lines” kept shifting and the revolt had to obey the NATO military and political strategy

The insurgents were organized by professional colonels, officers and soldiers of the regular army, otherwise, the insurgents headed too often to certain slaughterhouse expeditions…

Marie-Lys kept misplacing her backpack where she kept her pills and laptop…Her brother had to travel to the borders in Egypt to bring Marie-Lys two bags of everything she lacked. The brother was weeping and was totally terrorized that his sister is insisting on remaining in Libya and he stayed on the border for another week, waiting for his sister to change her mind and go back with him to France…But he respected her wishes…and she stayed another month to witness very depressing events and glorious ones too.

For example, you had this insurgent who blew an ambulance with the team of medical personnel inside, simply because the car was turned toward the opposite direction of the front line: He thought the ambulance belonged to the loyalist Qadhafists…

Many Libyans with secure jobs and easy comfortable life-styles in the USA, England and France returned to Benghazi to join the insurrection and volunteer driving ambulances if they were not surgeons or skilled in matters needed by the war…

There was nothing much to eat in Libya: packs of juices and the French “Laughing Cow cheese” (La vache qui ri).  Now and then, the insurgents would cook pasta with tomato sauce,and Marie-Lys learned to dip her hand in the common pate and eat voraciously.

Electricity was frequently cut off and thus, no running water to drain the toilets in the small overcrowded houses. The members of the extended families had to walk 200 meters to the closest dune for relief in order to keep the stench at a manageable distance…

Marie-Lys didn’t have to spend a nickel: everything was free, including staying in hotels and meals.  A few illuminated Libyans would give her all the money in their pocket, on the ground that the Libyan dinar was worthless.

Families had no shame welcoming the photographer in their poor homes and sharing the little they had.  You witness all kinds of weird mankind brotherhood behaviors in such kind of drastic revolutionary spirit…against a loathed dictator…

Libyans who got fight training in Afghanistan were not that many in Libya when the revolt began, but you could recognize one: They are aloof with long beard, whisling as they walk amid bombs and rockets pouring around…They are not soldiers but expert in manipulating rocket launchers and RPG…

Is it illusion of choice? How multinational media companies consolidated into 6?
 posted on Nov. 22, 2011:
“As a dad (and blogger) I’m concerned with the integrity of the news and entertainment my family and I consume every day. Who really produces, owns and airs the shows my kids are glued to every evening and which companies select the stories I read with such loyalty each morning?
I’ve always advocated for critical consumption, and what could be more important than an awareness of the sources of our families’ daily info and entertainment diets?
And today, most of our media is controlled by one of 6 companies.
Check out Frugaldad’s infographic on the state of media consolidation in the U.S.:
Media Consolidation Infographic
Ten secrets Commencement Speakers failed to Tell You

CHARLES WHEELAN commencement speech for Class of 2012:

“I became sick of commencement speeches at about your age. My first job out of college was writing speeches for the governor of Maine. Every spring, I would offer extraordinary tidbits of wisdom to 22-year-olds—which was quite a feat given that I was 23 at the time.

In the decades since, I’ve spent most of my career teaching economics and public policy. In particular, I’ve studied happiness and well-being, about which we now know a great deal. And I’ve found that the saccharine and over-optimistic words of the typical commencement address hold few of the lessons young people really need to hear about what lies ahead. Here is what I wish someone had told the Class of 1988:

Getty Images Look to your left and then to your right. Is that pretty girl Phi Beta Kappa? Marry her.

1. Your time in fraternity basements was well spent.

The same goes for the time you spent playing intramural sports, working on the school newspaper or just hanging with friends. Research tells us that one of the most important causal factors associated with happiness and well-being is your meaningful connections with other human beings. Look around today. Certainly one benchmark of your postgraduate success should be how many of these people are still your close friends in 10 or 20 years.

2. Some of your worst days lie ahead.

Graduation is a happy day. But my job is to tell you that if you are going to do anything worthwhile, you will face periods of grinding self-doubt and failure. Be prepared to work through them. I’ll spare you my personal details, other than to say that one year after college graduation I had no job, less than $500 in assets, and I was living with an elderly retired couple. The only difference between when I graduated and today is that now no one can afford to retire.

3. Don’t make the world worse. I know that I’m supposed to tell you to aspire to great things. But I’m going to lower the bar here: Just don’t use your prodigious talents to mess things up. Too many smart people are doing that already. And if you really want to cause social mayhem, it helps to have an Ivy League degree.

You are smart and motivated and creative. Everyone will tell you that you can change the world. They are right, but remember that “changing the world” also can include things like skirting financial regulations and selling unhealthy foods to increasingly obese children. I am not asking you to cure cancer. I am just asking you not to spread it.

4. Marry someone smarter than you are. When I was getting a Ph.D., my wife Leah had a steady income. When she wanted to start a software company, I had a job with health benefits. (To clarify, having a “spouse with benefits” is different from having a “friend with benefits.”) You will do better in life if you have a second economic oar in the water.

I also want to alert you to the fact that commencement is like shooting smart fish in a barrel. The Phi Beta Kappa members will have pink-and-blue ribbons on their gowns. The summa cum laude graduates have their names printed in the program. Seize the opportunity!

5. Help stop the Little League arms race. Kids’ sports are becoming ridiculously structured and competitive. What happened to playing baseball because it’s fun? We are systematically creating races out of things that ought to be a journey. We know that success isn’t about simply running faster than everyone else in some predetermined direction.

Yet the message we are sending from birth is that if you don’t make the traveling soccer team or get into the “right” school, then you will somehow finish life with fewer points than everyone else. That’s not right.

6. Read obituaries.They are just like biographies, only shorter. They remind us that interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives. You’ll never read the following obituary: “Bob Smith died yesterday at the age of 74. He finished life in 186th place.”

7. Your parents don’t want what is best for you. They want what is good for you, which isn’t always the same thing. There is a natural instinct to protect our children from risk and discomfort, and therefore to urge safe choices. Theodore Roosevelt—soldier, explorer, president—once remarked, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” Great quote, but I am willing to bet that Teddy’s mother wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer.

8. Don’t model your life after a circus animal. Performing animals do tricks because their trainers throw them peanuts or small fish for doing so. You should aspire to do better. You will be a friend, a parent, a coach, an employee—and so on. But only in your job will you be explicitly evaluated and rewarded for your performance.

Don’t let your life decisions be distorted by the fact that your boss is the only one tossing you peanuts. If you leave a work task undone in order to meet a friend for dinner, then you are “shirking” your work. But it’s also true that if you cancel dinner to finish your work, then you are shirking your friendship. That’s just not how we usually think of it.

9. It’s all borrowed time. You shouldn’t take anything for granted, not even tomorrow. I offer you the “hit by a bus” rule. Would I regret spending my life this way if I were to get hit by a bus next week or next year? And the important corollary: Does this path lead to a life I will be happy with and proud of in 10 or 20 years if I don’t get hit by a bus.

10. Don’t try to be great. Being great involves luck and other circumstances beyond your control. The less you think about being great, the more likely it is to happen. And if it doesn’t, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being solid.




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