Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 5th, 2014

Moral Courage? And what other kinds of courage? Edward Snowden,  Hugh Thompson, whistle-blowers…

Last Thursday Chris Hedges opened a team debate at the Oxford Union at Oxford University with this speech arguing in favor of the proposition “This house would call Edward Snowden a hero.”

The others on the Hedges team, which won the debate by an audience vote of 212 to 171, were William E. Binney, a former National Security Agency official and a whistle-blower; Chris Huhne, a former member of the British Parliament; and Annie Machon, a former intelligence officer for the United Kingdom.

The opposing team was made up of Philip J. Crowley, a former U.S. State Department officer; Stewart A. Baker, a former chief counsel for the National Security Agency; Jeffrey Toobin, an American television and print commentator; and Oxford student Charles Vaughn.

Chris Hedges posted this Feb.23, 2014

Edward Snowden’s Moral Courage

I have been to war. I have seen physical courage.

But this kind of courage is not moral courage. Very few of even the bravest warriors have moral courage.

For moral courage means to defy the crowd, to stand up as a solitary individual, to shun the intoxicating embrace of comradeship, to be disobedient to authority, even at the risk of your life, for a higher principle. And with moral courage comes persecution.

The American Army pilot Hugh Thompson had moral courage. He landed his helicopter between a platoon of U.S. soldiers and 10 terrified Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai massacre.

Thompson ordered his gunner to fire his M60 machine gun on the advancing U.S. soldiers if they began to shoot the villagers. And for this act of moral courage, Thompson, like Snowden, was hounded and reviled.

Moral courage always looks like this.

It is always defined by the state as treason—the Army attempted to cover up the massacre and court-martial Thompson. It is the courage to act and to speak the truth. Thompson had it.

Daniel Ellsberg had it. Martin Luther King had it. What those in authority once said about them they say today about Snowden.

In this still image from video footage released by WikiLeaks on Oct. 11, 2013, former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden speaks in Moscow during a presentation ceremony for the Sam Adams Award. (AP photo)

“My country, right or wrong” is the moral equivalent of “my mother, drunk or sober,” G.K. Chesterton reminded us.

So let me speak to you about those drunk with the power to sweep up all your email correspondence, your tweets, your Web searches, your phone records, your file transfers, your live chats, your financial data, your medical data, your criminal and civil court records and your movements, those who are awash in billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars, those who have banks of sophisticated computer systems, along with biosensors, scanners, face recognition technologies and miniature drones, those who have obliterated your anonymity, your privacy and, yes, your liberty.

There is no free press without the ability of the reporters to protect the confidentiality of those who have the moral courage to make public the abuse of power.

Those few individuals inside government who dared to speak out about the system of mass surveillance have been charged as spies or hounded into exile.

An omnipresent surveillance state—and I covered the East German Stasi state—creates a climate of paranoia and fear. It makes democratic dissent impossible.

Any state that has the ability to inflict full-spectrum dominance on its citizens is not a free state.

It does not matter if it does not use this capacity today; it will use it, history has shown, should it feel threatened or seek greater control.

The goal of wholesale surveillance, as Hannah Arendt wrote, is not, in the end, to discover crimes, “but to be on hand when the government decides to arrest a certain category of the population.”

The relationship between those who are constantly watched and tracked and those who watch and track them is the relationship between masters and slaves.

Those who wield this unchecked power become delusional.

Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, hired a Hollywood set designer to turn his command center at Fort Meade into a replica of the bridge of the starship Enterprise so he could sit in the captain’s chair and pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, had the audacity to lie under oath to Congress. This spectacle was a rare glimpse into the absurdist theater that now characterizes American political life.

A congressional oversight committee holds public hearings. It is lied to.

It knows it is being lied to. The person who lies knows the committee members know he is lying. And the committee, to protect their security clearances, says and does nothing.

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You prefer to travel solo?

Imagine this: On your first trip with a very best friend of yours and you two get into a huge fight on day two of a 10-day trip.

First, the article of  posted this February 23, 2014

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Most of us who have traveled with friends, or even family, would hope that we know what to expect from an overnight trip with someone that we care about.

And it can turn out much different if the right expectations are not set in place from the beginning.

It’s always key to remember that the person that you have drinks with on Saturday night is not the same person that dons headgear before they go to sleep, and snores like a railroad rolling through town.

How do you handle it if your BFF wants to party when you are sleeping, and sleep when you are ready to head to beach?

Once, I went on a trip with some classmates where one of the girls would literally yell at people in other countries because they didn’t speak English!

Needless to say, I never spoke to her again after that!

Wanna head out with your friends?

Start off by going on small, day trips together to see if this is a friend that would make a good travel companion.

If that works out, go on a road trip, then an airplane trip for a few days.

If he or she passes the test, then you’re all set! This will give you a chance to find out if you can stand being with this person for more than a few hours—or someone with which you want to spend more time!

It would be good to set expectations for the trip before you go.

(I guess this advice is valid for potential couples)

Does one friend like to party? Does one friend like to hook up with strangers?

Does another like to eat smelly food naked on the floor of the hotel room?

These are all questions that should be addressed before leaving the house.

Traveling with a good friend can be a fun, great time. But it can also be a nightmare in waiting.

What are some travel horror stories that you’ve experienced with your friends? Tell me.

Note: One of my characteric behaviors was to tour alone.  To go to movies alone. To walk the streets alone…

Most probably, I didn’t have best friends to invite me to go with them on adventures, or a best friend I could call on to join me without much haggling.

It is difficult to travel with a person who is chatting non-stop on the ground that he is making conversation and expect you to join in the palabre.

Or to entertain the driver anywhich way in order for him not to fall asleep on the wheel.

Or to lend full attention to anything is said on the ground that you should not miss an opportunity to mine a gem from the mound of non sense.

Or your adviser wake you up in the hotel room to tell you that you are snoring. And for the first time to get aware that you are the snoring type

Or you smoke outside but any non-smoker complains that you are bringing nasty smoking smell inside the house…

Highway Fouad Boutros Project:  “Hekmeh-Turk” Axis in Achrafieh

Here’s a full recap on the Fouad Boutros Project in order to understand what it really is, its impact on the residential areas, who’s opposing it and what are the alternative solutions proposed?

mar mikhail

BlogBaladi posted this March 2, 2014:

All You Need To Know On The Fouad Boutros Project And The Protests Planned This Weekend

What is the Fouad Boutros Project?
The Fouad Boutros Project, also known as the Highway Project “Hekmeh-Turk” Axis, is an estimated $75 Million Dollars (Activists say $150M) project aiming at improving traffic and flows through the densely populated Achrafieh areas.

The concerned districts with this project are Achrafieh, Rmeil, Medawar and Mar Mikhail.

You can check out the project’s map [Here].

The Fouad Boutros Project Impact
Based on various studies done by NGOs and the Civil Coalition against the Fouad Boutros Project, here’s what this project would cause if implemented:
– The demolition of around 30 buildings, some of high heritage value.
– The uprooting of about a hundred trees (Man of which are centennial).
– The destruction of around 10,000sqm of green spaces.
– The fragmentation of a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.
– Further pollution and noise.
– Increase of traffic in some areas and lack of parking space.

You can read the full impact study [Here].

What are the alternatives to such a project? 
Activists sent a book to the authorities with a proposed “Foud Boutros” Park that would replace the highway planned while limiting the damages to a minimum. Proposed [map].

When Are the Protests planned?
The Civil Coalition against the Highway Project “ Hekmeh-Turk” Axis (“Fouad Boutros” Road) is asking people to join them for two consecutive days;

– Saturday 1st of March starting 3:00 pm at Mar Mikhayel-Armenia street facing ”Afteem” shops, North-East of EDL.
– Sunday 2nd of March starting 11:00 at Rmeil area, at the back of the Maronite Archbishopric of Beirut, in front of Saint Joseph Maronite Church.

You can all sign the petition [Here].




March 2014

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