Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 8th, 2013

Homeless by the American Univ. of Beirut: Ali, Georgette…on Bliss Street

Three posts on my FB today, talking of the homeless living close to the students of the American Univ. of Beirut (AUB) on Bliss Street.

Reine Azzi posted this Jan. 8, 2013 under “Humans of Beirut. Save Georgette of Bliss Street.

“After yesterday’s heartbreaking news of the death of Ali of Bliss Street, hundreds of concerned facebookers banded together to form an initiative to help the homeless in Lebanon.

Statuses have been posted, blogs written, and tweets announced, in memory of Ali Abdullah, and all in hopes that he did not die in vain.
Many peopleand students are asking about others like-Ali—”What about the homeless woman on Bliss St.? What will happen to her?”

Georgette has no means to afford basic necessities. And the humanitarians of Lebanon have taken action, creating campaigns to spread awareness and assist the needy in anyway possible.

Fighting Homelessness in Beirut, a FB group formed by Michel Khoury, was created only today—and already has over 700 members.

Contribute to a Warm Lebanon, a fundraiser at Nasawiya Café in Mar Mikhael, also pledges to donate clothes, food, sleeping bags and anything else that might warm up people who can’t afford basic neccesities.

Food Blessed, another initiative aiming to feed the hungry, also revolves around a humanitarian cause that including helping the homeless.
So if you want to help out and don’t know how, check out the three links above and give money, food, clothes—even time. It’s really the least we can do.

After Ali, Activists Rally for Homeless

 A picture of Ali, described as Hamra Street’s Bukowski.

Michelle Ghoussoub wrote:

In light of what has happened, I feel like I should say more. This man was truly a legend, and one of the pillars of what made Hamra so special.

For generations, he was the subject of much intrigue to the students of the American University of Beirut. Some said he was a physics professor who was so smart, he’d gone mad.

Others added that he could speak 6 languages. Everyone had their own quirky story.

What always intrigued me is that he never begged or asked anyone for anything. Good people just seemed to give him a helping hand from time to time.

Last night though, while I was sitting comfortably in my home wondering why cold air was seeping through small cracks in my window, the storm left him dead in a Hamra that he helped give life to.

Rest in peace, Ali. If any of you have any stories to share, please do.”

Sherif Maktabi posted:

“Yesterday a man called Ali, died in the street where I grew up. A street where hundreds of thousands of Lebanese, and I, walked to school

Please have the patience to read through, a person’s life depends on this.

Students of AUB and International College, I am talking to you.

Download this gallery (ZIP, null KB). Download full size (86 KB)

Nobody knows Ali’s story. He was homeless, and lived on Bliss street in Beirut for years. I  remember him since I was a kid.

Some say he was mentally disturbed. But he never harmed anyone.

He survived on donations from the restaurants and shops of bliss.

He used to get, coffee, a sandwitch and a cigarette everyday. As for us the students, we never did anything.

He is dead. But many are still alive and shape the soul of Beirut.

And they don’t have people to help them.

This is why I want to tell you the story of Georgette.

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 Everyday, Georgette brings her chair and sits in front of Books and Pens to sells chewing gum. She can’t walk and can’t see very well.

Karim Badra and I know Georgette very well. She was angry with us because we turned the wall behind her into a Lebanon Would Be Better If. But now we are friends.

She is very sick. And because it’s winter she can’t sell chewing gum.

And hence, she can’t get money to pay the rent of a small bed. Her landlord wants to kick her out. She doesn’t have enough money to pay for her medicin.

The last time I saw her, she colapsed in front of me and I called the Red Cross. All that she asks from me is 2 types of tissue paper and a bottle of water.

But I know she needs money.

Georgette usually sits in front of Books and Pens. Take the first left after AUB main gate and walk up 10 meters. She sits in between Moustache and Alex’s store.

I cannot save Georgette. But we can.

You can help through 3 easy steps:

1) If you see her, be nice to her,

2) Ask her if she wants water, tissues or food

3) Send Karim Badra a message if you want to contact Georgette for more serious help.

(Click this link and send Karim a message).

Humans of Beirut. Save a human. In memory of Ali.

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Zero Dark Thirty’s apology for torture? And Kathryn Bigelow, Naomi Wolf…


Is Kathryn Bigelowpeddling the lie that CIA detentions led to Bin Laden’s killing?

Is she emulating Leni Riefenstahl-Nazi like propagandist of Triumph of the Will, which glorified Nazi military power? Is Bigelow glorifying torture, thehandmaiden?

In falsely justifying, in scene after scene, the torture of detainees in “the global war on terror”, Zero Dark Thirty is a gorgeously-shot, two-hour ad for intelligence agents who committed crimes by keeping the pressure against letting Guantánamo prisoners out of jail.

It makes heroes and heroines out of people who committed violent crimes against other people based on their race – something that has historical precedent.

(Reuters) – After the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman expressed outrage over scenes that imply “enhanced interrogations” of CIA detainees produced a breakthrough in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the panel has begun a review of contacts between the makers of the film “Zero Dark Thirty” and CIA officials. on Jan. 4, 2013 under “A letter to Kathryn Bigelow on Zero Dark Thirty’s apology for torture”

The Hurt Locker was a beautiful, brave film; many young women in film were inspired as they watched you become the first woman ever to win an Oscar for directing. But with Zero Dark Thirty, you have attained a different kind of distinction.

Your film Zero Dark Thirty is a huge hit here.

Your film claims, in many scenes, that CIA torture was redeemed by the “information” it “secured”.

Information that, according to your script, led to Bin Laden’s capture. This narrative is a form of manufacture of innocence to mask a great crime: what your script blithely calls “the detainee program”.

What led to this amoral compromising of your film-making?

Could some of the seduction be financing? It is very hard to get a film without a pro-military message, such as The Hurt Locker, funded and financed. But according to sources in the film industry, the more pro-military your message is, the more kinds of help you currently can get: from personnel, to sets, to technology – a point I made in my argument about the recent militarized Katy Perry video.

It seems implausible that scenes such as those involving two top-secret, futuristic helicopters could be made without Pentagon help, for example. If the film received that kind of undisclosed, in-kind support from the defense department, then that would free up million of dollars for the gigantic ad campaign that a film like this needs to compete to win audience.

This also sets a dangerous precedent: we can be sure, with the propaganda amendment” of the 2013 NDAA, just signed into law by the president, that the future will hold much more overt corruption of Hollywood and the rest of US pop culture.

This amendment legalizes something that has been illegal for decades: the direct funding of pro-government or pro-military messaging in media, without disclosure, aimed at American citizens.

And there is the James Frey factor.

You claim that your film is “based on real events”, and in interviews, you insist that it is a mixture of fact and fiction, “part documentary”.

“Real”, “true”, and even “documentary”, are big and important words.

By claiming such terms, you generate media and sales traction – on a mendacious basis. There are filmmakers who work very hard to produce films that are actually “based on real events”: they are called documentarians.

Alex Gibney, in Taxi to the Dark Side, and Rory Kennedy, in Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, have both produced true and sourceable documentary films about what your script blithely calls “the detainee program” – the regime of torture to generate false confessions at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib – which your script claims led straight to Bin Laden.

Fine, fellow reporter: produce your sources. Provide your evidence that torture produced lifesaving – or any – worthwhile intelligence.

But you can’t present evidence for this claim. Because it does not exist.

Five decades of research, cited in the 2008 documentary The End of America, confirm that torture does not work.

Robert Fisk provides another summary of that categorical conclusion. And this 2011 account from Human Rights First rebuts the very premise of Zero Dark Thirty.

Your actors complain about detainees’ representation by lawyers – suggesting that these do-gooders in suits endanger the rest of us. I have been to see your “detainee program” firsthand.

The prisoners, whom your film describes as being “lawyered up”, meet with those lawyers in rooms that are wired for sound. Yet, those lawyers can’t tell the world what happened to their clients – because the descriptions of the very torture these men endured are classified.

I have seen the room where the military tribunal takes the “testimony” from people swept up in a program that gave $5,000 bounties to desperately poor Afghanis to give them incentives for turning-in innocent neighbors.

The chairs have shackles to the floor, and are placed in twos, so that one prisoner can be threatened to make him falsely condemn the second.

I have seen the expensive video system in the courtroom where – though Guantánamo spokesmen have told the world’s press since its opening that witnesses’ accounts are brought in “whenever reasonable” – the monitor on the system has never been turned on once: a monitor that could actually let someone in Pakistan testify to say, “hey, that is the wrong guy”.

By the way, you left out the scene where the CIA dude sodomizes the wrong guy: Khaled el-Masri, “the German citizen unfortunate enough to have a similar name to a militant named Khaled al-Masri.”

In a time of darkness in America, you are being feted by Hollywood, and hailed by major media. But to me, the path your career has now taken reminds of no one so much as that other female film pioneer who became, eventually, an apologist for evil: Leni Riefenstahl.

Riefenstahl’s 1935 Triumph of the Will, which glorified Nazi military power, was a massive hit in Germany. Riefenstahl was the first female film director to be hailed worldwide.

Leni Riefenstahl at Nuremberg, 1934, directing Triumph of the Will Leni Riefenstahl directing her crew at the Nazi part rally in Nuremberg, 1934, for her film Triumph of the Will.

Photograph: Friedrich Rohrmann/EPA

It may seem extreme to make comparison with this other great, but profoundly compromised film-maker, but there are real echoes. When Riefenstahl began to glamorize the National Socialists, in the early 1930s, the Nazis’ worst atrocities had not yet begun.

And yet, abusive detention camps had already been opened to house political dissidents beyond the rule of law – the equivalent of today’s Guantánamo, Bagram base, and other unnameable CIA “black sites”.

And Riefenstahl was lionised by the German elites and acclaimed for her propaganda on behalf of Hitler’s regime.

But the world changed.

The ugliness of what she did could not, over time, be hidden. Americans, too, will wake up and see through Zero Dark Thirty’s apologia for the regime’s standard lies that this brutality is somehow necessary. When that happens, the same community that now applauds you will recoil.

Like Riefenstahl, you are a great artist.

But now you will be remembered forever as torture’s handmaiden.




January 2013

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