Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 18th, 2013

Oxymoron, Liberty, Liberal, Liberalism, Libertine… And Is Liberalism in Lebanese a Myth?

You think that the term Liberalism means some kind of liberty in choices, liberation from constraints, freedom from outside intervention,  freedom of expression, rights to gather, “do as you please” in your decision and actions…

Nothing of the sort.

The terms liberal and Liberalism have various jargons in politics, economy, and finance that are not related to the social wishes and wants.

Liberalism is a political jargon used by the colonial powers to throw smokescreen on outright economic embezzlement and coercion on developing States.

Liberalism has been coined to express forms of economic activities, mainly in exploiting former colonial States by denying them import taxes on products that are subsidized by the developing States, by facilitating financial extortion schemes on the weaker people, by the rights to ruin entire economic bases for the benefit of the richest oligarchies inside and outside State boundaries, by allowing monopolistic enterprises, cancelling out any forms of competitions in the developed States… Dismantling well-run and profitable State institutions, and Privatizing them (read financed by Banks)…

Liberalism is a financial jargon expressing the will that all financial activities must be linked through Banks, directly linked to one of the 8 families related to the Rothschild  House (hoarding $300 trillion). It fits the saying “Little cloud, you may wander any which way you want, where you rain your proceeds will return to me” (Harun Rashid, Abbasid caliph)

Liberalism is not Libertine life-style. Saudi Arabia is far more into Libertine way of life than Lebanon within enclosed palaces and special closed clubs of emirs and royal family members…

Life in Lebanon slowly but surely resets the dial on anyone’s “normality” barometer. You adjust to power cuts at home, at work, and in public places. You grow used to headlines constantly predicting impending war.

You even learn to laugh these off, once near-crises have passed you by.  You stop thinking twice about buying $12 cocktails while a refugee child stands outside the bar, selling Chiclets for one hundredth the price of your shoes. I’m not proud of this, but all of these things have become my new normal.

Michelle  Ghoussoub posted this July 12, 2013 on NOW: The Myth of Lebanese Liberalism

(with minor editing to match my style of writing)

Perhaps out of self-preservation, there is one thing I have never come to terms with: my inferior status as a woman.

The Myth of Lebanese Liberalism

In Lebanon, we don’t have it all that bad. (At least in the Christian dominated urban areas)

We can drive, dress as we like, study what we wish and have successful and fulfilling careers. But these norms should not be hailed as some kind of liberal victory. Rather as minimal requirements for a State that at least tries to manage itself “democratically”.

These so-called modern practices did nothing to help Roula Yaacoub when she was brutally murdered, allegedly by a husband who beat her regularly, and who remains a free man.

It frankly doesn’t mean much that women can dress provocatively and order a drink when their husbands can also legally rape them. Nor should we feel empowered by our right to date freely (within our religions, of course) when any woman who has lost her virginity is treated as damaged goods, or worse.

No society whose laws reflect the belief that a woman’s moral compass lies somewhere between her legs can logistically advance in any capacity.

If anything, Lebanon’s toxic mix of sexual objectification and repression enhances the extent to which women are seen as lesser beings.

Expected to remain simultaneously desirable and chaste, all sexual agency disappears when women are pressured to change their appearance to please men without being entitled to any fulfillment of their own. The narrative of Lebanon’s plastic surgeries – from breast enhancements to reconstructive hymen procedures – has been so well documented that it borders on cliché. If anything, it reflects the extremity of a country that marinates in superficiality, as half the population lacks basic rights.

This by no means implies that the situation is much better across the region, or in some of the world’s most developed countries.

While the horrific mass sexual assaults on women in Egypt have rightfully been vilified by international media, rape culture and restrictive laws in regards to women’s health continue to surface in the United States.

Hell, a video of Dustin Hoffman having an on-camera breakdown as he discusses his epiphany that society has “brainwashed” him against talking to ugly women has recently gone viral on the web.

But when pacifist feminists are threatened at gunpoint, and a mother of five is brutally murdered by a husband who then retains custody of her children, Lebanon may just take the cake in terms of ironic gender politics. And that should never pass as “normal” for any of us.

Read more:

Criminal Document Disclosures & Foreign Asylum: Is Edward Snowden Christoph Meili?

As the saga of whether Edward Snowden will accept an offer of asylum in Latin America continues, his situation allows some comparison to the fascinating story of Michel Christopher Meili.
Who’s Meili?

Meili was a 29-year old Swiss citizen and an employee of a private company with significant connections to his government – the Union Bank of Switzerland.

In 1997, Meili was a security guard, who happened upon 2 carts full of Holocaust-era banking documents related to Jewish clients of UBS that were slated for destruction.

Inspired by “Schindler’s List,” Meili removed several volumes of the documents from his employer’s possession. Instead of going directly to the authorities, he instead disclosed the documents to outside sources.

As a result, not only did Meili lose his job, but he was also under investigation by Swiss authorities for violating Swiss law.

Moreover, according to Meili’s testimony in a U.S. Senate hearing (available here), after Swiss police took possession of the documents, they told Meili that the Swiss government was treating the documents as “classified,” despite the fact that they were UBS documents, and that they “would never be seen by people ‘outside Switzerland.’”

U.S. Gave Asylum To A Guy Who Leaked Classified Documents

Snowden and Meli (Swiss whisleblower)
Staff on www.docexblog.composted this July 15th, 2013: “U.S. Gave Asylum To A Guy Who Leaked Classified Documents:
“Finally, while Meili believed he was exposing an act of destruction that was, or should have been, illegal, the Swiss police told him that they had concluded that UBS had done nothing wrong.

Meili testified

One of the things that I have learned in these last few months is that there are certain powers in Switzerland that do not want to see the Swiss Banks and our government exposed for what they did during the Holocaust and that they will do anything – including destroying documents, restricting and controlling Police investigations, hiding/burying evidence and lying publicly.

The reason why Meili gave testimony to the U.S. Congress was that while he was temporarily in the United States, Sen. Alfonse D’Amato organized a Senate hearing about, and including, Meili.  D’Amato expressly acknowledged that Meili ”today is under investigation for violating Swiss bank secrecy laws for disclosing the records” and that he had also received threats against him in Switzerland by individuals opposed to his actions (no doubt in the same vein as disturbing statements about what should happen to Snowden in the comments section of many articles about him).

The Senate hearing was designed to assess what actions the United States could take to protect Meili.  Congress determined that although Meili did “not meet the necessary criteria for permanent residency under any existing categories” under U.S. law, that Meili nevertheless deserved sanctuary in the United States.

Therefore Congress passed a special law, Private Law 105-1 that granted Meili, his wife, and his children permanent residency in the United States “Notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

Meli law

The law specifically cites the fact that Meili was “interrogated by the local Swiss authorities who tried to intimidate him by threatening prosecution for his heroic actions.”  President Clinton signed the law on July 29, 1997.  According to a spokesperson, President Clinton, after reviewing the case, decided that it was “appropriate” that Meili be given permanent residence in the United States.

The actions of the United States in the Meili affair could therefore provide a model for Venezuela, Nicaragua, or Bolivia in granting Snowden asylum.

On the issue of whether Snowden would technically qualify as a refugee under international law, for example, see “Snowden’s asylum case” by Jaya Ramji-Nogales here.

Regardless of the merits of Snowden’s case under current international or domestic law, however, one of those countries that have offered him asylum could simply follow the U.S. example and make Snowden’s asylum a special case.

As to the more substantive similarities between the actions of Snowden and Meili, to be absolutely clear, I am not drawing any comparison between the NSA surveillance programs and the Holocaust.  I am comparing, however, the decision to grant “asylum” in some form to a foreign citizen who was under active investigation for violating the laws of his country and violated his obligations to his employer in order

(1) to disclose ongoing NSA surveillance programs versus

(2) to disclose historical banking records that may have been relevant to individual ownership claims for property plundered by the Nazis a half a century earlier.

That comparison can cut in many different ways depending upon one’s perspective (e.g., how one weighs the severity of the crime v. the importance of the disclosure) and the two cases are distinguishable in many ways (e.g., despite the investigation, Switzerland had not cancelled Meili’s passport or sought extradition).

The point is that comparing Snowden with Meili is another illustration that the Snowden affair is clearly not as simple as upholding the “rule of law” as President Obama asserted.

The most striking example of the contrast is in the statements of Sen. Charles Grassley who has stated about Snowden that “I believe that whatever the law requires, just like anybody that breaks the law, [Snowden] needs to be prosecuted” and that “I suppose it gets down to – did he break a law? – I think it’s pretty obvious he did.”  

This very same Sen. Grassley, during the 1997 Senate hearing on Christoph Meili, gave this rather remarkable statement which deserves reprinting:

The situation we have here with Mr. Meili, albeit everything that he has brought to our attention has worldwide implications, but a person like him acted out of bravery, or maybe the bravery comes after he has acted because he has had to withstand the mental torture of what has gone on since then. But it reminds me of a lot of things that happen in our own Government, and I realize his is a private sector situation, but I like to think that we keep our Federal Government honest when we have people in our Government who, when something is wrong, will be willing to come forward and say what is wrong.

We speak of these people in our Government as whistleblowers. Maybe, originally, that was to denigrate them, but as far as I am concerned the word “whistleblower” is a description of somebody who wants to seek the truth, who wants to make sure that all of the facts and circumstances are known so that a wrong can be corrected.”

Well there is a lesson to all of us in the Congress of the United States when we have an example like this before us that we should not be denegrating people who seek the truth. We should be helping them be protected, we should help them get their story out, and we should help them make sure that they are not harmed economically or physically, or even professionally, because of seeking the truth.

Now, I know in some instances not every whistleblower has a credible story, so you do have to be circumspect to the extent to which we investigate every complaint that comes to our attention. But it seems to me that we ought to be honoring people who seek the truth, as Mr. Meili has sought the truth, and to expose wrongdoing. That is my interest in this.

Besides helping Mr. Meili, it is my interest in also making sure that we are very consistent in the Congress of the United States in encouraging whistleblowers to come forth with information when something is wrong, because we do not have the time in the Congress to know where every skeleton is buried in every closet.




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