Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 16th, 2015

A few of my posts on Facebook related to current Lebanon Youth Movements

Since August 22, 2015 over 11 youth are detained and tortured in the security services. 5 of them are under age juvenile.

The youth movements has acquired the name Movement of Aug 29, following the monster gathering of over 75,000 citizens who converged from all corners of Lebanon to Downtown Beirut. They were all raising the Lebanese flags. No political parties flags were present in this joyful and chanting gathering.

In context:

The garbage crisis has been dragging on for a month and the waste accumulated in mountain of trash, and the stench was suffocating the citizens in every district and street in Lebanon.

The Youth movement #YouStink (referring to the politicians and political system) gathered in front of the government Serai in Riad Solh Square on August 22, 2015 demanding a quick resolution to the garbage.

The security forces (internal, the guards of the Parliament and the army supporting the parliament guards) opened fire (live and rubber bullets) as well as gas canisters on the peaceful demonstration. The activities were shown live on local media and Lebanese started to flock from everywhere to join the marches and express their horrors.

The Internal forces retreated and the youth advanced back to the Square and set up their tents for a sleep over.

The movement gathered winds and more youth movements joined in with new slogans and goals. They occupied the ministry of the environment and a dozen started a hunger strike in front of the ministry.

The gathering on Aug 29 was a monster mass popular demonstration for the determination to weight on significant change in this rotten political system.

The Godfather of the militia leaders during the civil war and who has been Chairman of the Parliament in the last 30 years convened the party leaders in the Parliament to meet on Sept. 9 around the Table of Conversation (Tawelat 7ewar) in order to figure out a way out of this unpredicted dilemma and retain their standing power.

The youth movements, including #badnaN7asseb (We want to judge you), gathered en mass (over 75,000) around the Martyr Square and Riad Sol7. They expressed their total lack of confidence in the political system and highway robberies and felonies of the politicians.

And the movements got stronger and scheduled activities almost every day to recapture state lands that were illegally confiscated by the Real Estates Developers on the seashore of Beirut.

Note 1: Many posts are written in Arabic/Lebanese slang using Latin alphabet. Particular numbers are used by internet users to correspond to Arabic vocals not existing in Latin languages.

Note 2: You have to start from the bottom of this article in order to read chronologically this timeline

Today, Sept.15, the movement gathered in front of the ministry of finance demanding that no pay-checks be sent to the deputies for Job Not done. The employees had to be evacuated through the roof top to an adjacent building. Thus this post.

The President of Uruguay transfer all his pay-checks to the needy families in his home town and agreed to let 200 Syrian refugees to stay in his home.
In Lebanon, we have a Parliament of 128 deputies who extended their tenure for 4 more years.
Worse, they voted to increase their stipend to over $20,000. For doing absolutely nothing. They never met in the last 2 years and failed to perform on their promises: Mainly to reform the election law.
Do you know that any deputy who was elected twice will be paid for life? And his wife and children after his death?

80% of the deputies didn’t win with their own popular forces, but supported by the militia leaders.
About 20 deputies didn’t vote for the extension of their tenure, but they are still in the parliament.
How come it never occurred to those honest deputies to transfer their pay-check to the poorer families in their district, those who voted them in?
On August 22, after the internal forces shot at the youth movements with live and rubber bullets, deputy Nabil Ncoulas was so furious that he stated live to the medias that he resigns from the Parliament.
We didn’t hear any follow up on that statement and his pay-check is still being pocketed by the deputy who did graduate studies +++ years as he likes to say.
Only 4 of the 24 ministers still are functional. The remaining minister barely pay a visit to their ministries. Once there, they lock their door to play with their balls at leisure.

Not a single jobless minister volunteered to give his money to the needed people or caritative institutions.
The minister of the environment (Mu7ammad The Hanged One) has no responsibilities any more: He relinquished the garbage crisis to the minister of agriculture.
A dozen youth have been on hunger strike for 10 days in front of the ministry of the environment, and the Hanged One is unperturbed.
The media showed the miserable dwelling of the parents of these hunger strikers, but the minister would not think of improving the life-style of these people.
What kind of people are we?
Shi bi farre7 al 2alb: (it sooth my heart) a new hero allowed al 7erak (movement) to use his truck to transport the waste that obstructed the entrance of Jisr al moushat to the entrance of Sukleen: A citizen was run over because he couldn’t use the bridge that was totally obstructed by garbage bags.
Shi bi farre7 al 2alb: the media have started showing all the factories for farz al nifayat all over Lebanon. And Sukleen 3ala tiza wa ma shaghalet ma3mal al farz
Shi bi farre7 al 2alb: Al 7erak al shababi 3am tnaddef al nifayat fi madkhal Trablos. Baladiyat Jounieh kabbetton 3indon
Shi bi kharreh: (It sucks) Michel Suleiman wa 7arb ba3don bye3zmo 7alon le kel mnasabeh bil Yarzeh
Shi bi kharreh: ehl behl bi hanno ba3don wa moush daryeen enno al 7erak bye3tebrouhon 3ala tizon
Wa bokra shou? 7arb bado yenteze3 (recapture) haybet al dawleh wa yotabbek kararat al 7oukoumet. Fi karar wa7ed tanfizi, wa albakiya khalt bi khalt
ra7 tedroj akel al nifa. ‪#‎NifaForHangedOne‬ The two of them shaklon bi 7ebbo batnon
to open a new matmar (top in line in specifications), the Sandou2 al 2e3mar bi7ajeh la at least one month. So when the 7 days is over ( and not a single day over) in Na3emeh, where the garbage will be dispatched? To nahr Beirut one more time?
wa meen ra7 yenoub 3an wazir al zira3a? (The minister of agriculture Shohayyeb was appointed to handle the garbage crisis)
In addition to pressing for full transparency in the garbage crisis and any other project that the government is attempting to pass surreptitiously, the youth movements should try a democratic election of the President.
The process is as follow:
1. The youth movements agree on a unified electronic site to conduct the election (as done in many countries) and they have the means and skills to conduct it.
2. All the candidates have to agree on a transitory period (one year) until an election  with a reformed law is done.
3.The candidate must submit his CV with full disclosure of his financial status
4. The candidate who obtains 40% of the votes of those who participated in the election will be selected unanimously as the candidate of the youth movements and submitted to this defunct parliament to vote him in.
All the current candidates who refuse to take the youth movements seriously (refuse to submit their candidacy) will be dropped from the list of potential candidates.
The various Black Boxes in which that militia leaders hoarded the public funds
Sondou2 Al E3mar wa Al Tanmiyat: Black Box for Hariri clan, Seniora, Mikati and funds Moustakbal candidates
Sondou2 Al Janoub: Black Box of Nabih Berry and AMAL candidates
Sondou2 Al Mohajjareen: Black Box for Walid Jumblat and funds his candidates
Sondou2 Majless Nouwab for its maintenance and security: Black Box for Nabih Berry
Sondou2 wizart al 3amal: Black Box for Kataeb, 2azzi and 7arb
Sondou2 al Kahraba2 (electricity): every leader in a district gets his share from the private providers
Sondou2 al zeft: Black Box for the deputies to asphalt their roads
Sondou2 al Autostrad al 3arabi
Sondou2 mashrou3 al Litany
Solidair: Black Box for the Hariri clan and Senior to invest for The Gulf Emirs in prime Beirut Real Estates
Sukleen: Garbage collection Black Box for the Hariri, Fouad Seniora (former PM) and Jumblat
Every cultural event is headed by the wives of the militia leaders
Keep adding to this list
Sontou2 Al Inma2 wa Al 2e3mar (Al Moustakbal Black Box) is supposedly out of the picture in selecting al matamers or getting involved with the environment.
Lejnat al bi2at fi al wizarat tajtame3 wa tou7awer (negotiate) al 7erak al sha3bi for the short term and sustainable resolution of the garbage crisis.
Apparently, the government is keeping Sondou2 al e3mar as the prime contractor for the preparation of the matamers. A move that is illegal since it is the municipality that is responsible for contracting out these public works.
The strategy of the various youth movements is developing and starting to take form:
1. The Garbage crisis is the first and primary demand. Because the waste touches the 5 senses and does not require abstract concepts to make sense. And because the garbage is the primary item that the government is unable to find a sustainable resolution.
2. Each movement adds another demands to the list of urgent deficiencies in this militia highway robber system.
3. The details of the alternative proportional election law is being fine-tuned and will be presented as the youth alternative in any official discussions
4. The youth of districts outside Beirut are earnestly getting involved to present their own specific worries and problems, such as lack of public hospital, public schools, public universities, public institutions to facilitate the daily life of the remote areas.
Shou bek Shehayyeb, enta wa khoubara2ak? Ba3dak n3annad tostolha 3aleina?
Elnelak ma fi fate7 lel matamer, wala le nhar wa7ed
Ma badna matamer. La bi 3akkar, la bi Nabatiyeh, la Bil Masna3, la bil jabal…
Shou bek Shehayyeb, enta wa khoubara2ak ma 2abideen al 7erak?
Leish moush 3am tetssamma3ou 3ala mataleb al 7erak?
Al 7erak has started expressing his alternative election law: Charbel Nahas (former minister) is handling the political education process, and the people are catching up fast and steadily
It is feasible. If Tawelat 7ewar agreed on:
1. Electing a President for a single year in order to care for the “smooth” application of the procedures and protocols for running legitimately this rotten system
2. Agreeing on a proportional election law and voting on one of the alternatives that have been discussed at length for over 3 years
3. Agreeing during the Hewar on a reduced government and the potential ministers to get to work right after the President is chosen. It is all ter2e3 bi ter2e3.
Wa al 7erak moustamer
Yesterday I learned the name of another hunger striker: Hassan Kotaich? We get to know them as they are carried away to hospital. La men 2edon wa la men ejron
I think my mother will support me for hunger strike, if I include quitting smoking. Till death…
The militia leaders are Not afraid of the new heros: They dread the young masses who will defy them at election time.
Now that the militia leaders stuffed enough money in their bank accounts, Berry is contemplating contracting out a larger Table (tawelat). Not to feed the famished Lebanese.
Other minor players, like the Hanged One of the Interior, are erecting taller fences and in iron.
I already sent the message: Occupy the ministry of public work. Just for reminding the minister of the incoming catastrophe
The dignity of an entire generation will be trampled if the youth failed to gather on Sept.9 (date of the meeting of militia leaders).
Tawelat al Hewar is to gain more time in order to disband the youth movements.
Most probably, the meeting of the militia leaders with their Godfather Berry might decide to designate a President for One year with the job of preparing for an election of the deputies.
A major new reformed election law is Not contemplated by this clan of militia leaders.
Like in Guatemala and Thailand
Waref Suleiman. Al Jurdi. And what are the name of the other 10 hunger strikers? Already 100 hours without eating.
The Red Cross was ordered not to visit and care for the hunger strikers.
The Hanged Environmental never stopped to say “Good morning” to the strikers.
How come not many paid a visit to these strikers in this weekend?
Just waiting for Sept. 9 for them to come down?
Note: Waref Suleiman was hit on his head by the security forces and detained this Sept 16, during the second Tawelat al 7ewar.
7amlat al tahweel fi al makalat wa intakadateha al laze3at dod tel3et ri7etkom wa kitabet 2ijabiyat akthar li badna ni7asebkom mouhematoha, ta7ta zaherat al mawdou3iyat, mouhematouha er3ab al sha3b liky la yanzal fi Sept 9.
Innaha wakfat hasemat.
al woukouf dod al toghmat al jabbara wa militiatouha lan tarba7 kol marrat, laken soumoud ta7adi la bodda menha wa mouwasalat al ta7addi mefta7 al 3ezzat lel shabab al makhour

The lengthy Realism on Syria:

Future generations will despise us for this politics

The same politics we applied with the rise of Nazism

When the people of the future look back at our time, there will be much wringing of hands at the west’s failure to stop the slaughter in Syria.

Liberal writers will bewail our “guilt” and “shame” (bewailing is what we liberals are best at, after all).

Readers will pat themselves on the back and say that they would never have behaved as we behaved; just as we look back on the Second World War and imagine we would never have collaborated if the Nazis had invaded.

Najat Rizk shared a link.
Even as hundreds of thousands of Syrians flee their homeland, western powers refuse to address the root cause for their flight|By Nick Cohen

By 2015, the Syrian civil war had lasted longer than the First World War.

Hundreds of thousands had died and 11 million had been driven from their homes, four million of them as refugees to foreign lands. (Out of a total population of 20 million)

On the one side was Bashar al-Assad, chief capo in a hereditary tyranny.

He joined Saddam Hussein in becoming one of only two leaders to have used chemical weapons against civilians since the end of the Second World War. (ISIS has been using chemical weapons for years now, and the US is still not serious about stopping these attacks)

In 2013, Barack Obama, the leader of the free world, no less, boomed: “What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?”

He then looked the other way. As did the British Labour party, which joined with the Tory right in defeating David Cameron’s attempt to punish Assad.

On the other side is Islamic State.

If you want a comparison to shame you, consider that at least 700 religious fanatics have left Britain to rape, murder and enslave in Syria at a time when the British government was pulling every trick it could think of to stop Syrians fleeing rape, murder and enslavement finding asylum here.

Here is a taste of the condemnations we can expect from the future.

Western leaders interpreted the “silence” about the massacres in Syria “as an indicator of public indifference”. They reasoned that they “would incur no costs” if they did nothing, but “face steep risks if they intervened”.

(Should have intervened against the Nousra Front of Al Qaeda in Syria, before Daesh got the upper hand)

For all their cries of “never again”, they accepted genocide and pretended it had nothing to do with them.

Except those quotes are from the past not the future. They come from Samantha Power’s A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, a bleak account, published in 2003, of how from the Turkish massacre of the Armenians through to Saddam’s genocide of the Kurds, the unwritten rule of the US State Department was that America should look the other way.

I was hugely impressed by her breadth of scholarship, how she showed that it was always unpopular to state clearly that Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Kurds, Bosniaks and Tutsis were victims of the greatest of crimes; how there were always authoritative voices warning us against “overreaction” and insisting that the situation was more complicated than it seemed.

Those who blew the whistle lost their jobs but in their determination to speak out, they proved the truth of George Bernard Shaw’s maxim: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Obama was impressed too. He made Power America’s UN ambassador, where together they became reasonable – depressingly, shamefully, criminally reasonable – and stood by as the Syrian massacres escalated.

For understandable reasons, a half-truth became established during the presidency of George W Bush: America was the main source of conflict on the planet. If it stepped back and refused to intervene, the “root cause” of violence would vanish. Obama and Powers have tested that theory to destruction.

They have shown that, when the west does not intervene, other powers do.

Russia and Iran have ruthlessly pursued their national interest in keeping Assad in power: Iran because it wants a client Shia state; Russia because it wants to keep its Mediterranean base and show the world that no one messes with Putin.

No one in the west, or, rather, no one but the reckless, wanted an invasion of Syria. (Invasion? Didn’t learn from Iraq and Viet Nam? No other political alternatives?

They wanted no-fly zones and safe havens. A few realised that the Kurds had as much right to a state as the Palestinians and wanted western support for a Kurdistan, not least because the Kurds were doing most of the fighting against Islamic State.

They’ve got nothing.

The Kurds are now being attacked by our Nato ally Turkey. Safe havens remain a fantasy. And while western air forces are bombing Isis in a desultory war that seems to be doing no good at all, they allow Assad to drop barrel bombs on Syrian civilians.

Although Cameron has behaved more honourably than Labour, and has clearly agonised over the Syrian crisis, his agonies have not extended to providing the money our dilapidated armed forces would need to intervene.

Before power made her “reasonable”, Samantha Power knew why: western electorates don’t care. The mood in Britain in particular is now isolationist: anti-immigrant, anti-intervention, anti any measure that does not put “our own people first”.

I see no sign that the flood of refugees fleeing into Europe is changing minds. Liberals rightly criticise Cameron for not allowing enough into Britain, but hardly any have shown that they have the smallest inclination to tackle the “root cause” of their flight.

Now western governments hint that they are about to commit the final treason. They will either drop their demands that the butcher Assad must go or, more probably, quietly accept that he is a man they must do business with.

There’s an old argument between supporters of an ethical and of a “realist” foreign policy, but it does not arise on this occasion. The Sunni people of Syria will not turn on Isis so they can suffer again at the hands of a man responsible for gassing their families.

Isis will be able to say – with justice – that the west wants to turn you over to Shia, Hezbollah and Iranian militias. It will be able to say, again with truth, that the west is now the de facto ally of an Iran that wants to encircle and oppress you.

Sometimes, the ethical is also realistic: dealing with Assad is never going to work.

(Not dealing with Assad is the root of all the catastrophe. Now, after the failure of uprooting Assad, they want to discuss and dialogue with him. But the damage is done. And million of refugees will keep on the move to somewhere)


The TPP Will Finish What Chile’s Dictatorship Started

Late Chili President Salvador Allende said at the UN in1972, a speech given less than a year before the US masterminded a military coup d’état that overthrew him and killed him:
“We are faced by a direct confrontation between the large transnational corporations and the states. The corporations are interfering in the fundamental political, economic and military decisions of the states.
The corporations are global organizations that do not depend on any state and whose activities are not controlled by, nor are they accountable to any parliament or any other institution representative of the collective interest. In short, all the world political structure is being undermined.”

Neoliberalism is hard to define. It could refer to intensified resource extraction, financialization, austerity, or something more ephemeral, a way of life, in which collective ideals of citizenship give out to marketized individualism and consumerism.

This September 11th will be the forty-second anniversary of the US-backed coup against the democratically-elected Chilean government, led by the Socialist Salvador Allende, kicking off a battle that is still being fought: in Chile, protests led…

Like rust, neoliberalism never sleeps.

The global rentier class that enriches itself off the neoliberal property-rights regime had, a decade ago, hoped to lock down Latin America under the hemisphere-wide Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).

In its original version, the FTAA was meant to be a special carve-out for Washington and Wall Street, as global “free trade” advanced under the umbrella of the Doha round of the WTO.

Kind of an economic Monroe Doctrine, whereby the United States could maintain its regional hegemony over Latin America while still promoting, when it suited, globalization.

But that scheme fell apart with the return of Latin America’s post–“Washington consensus” left, led at the time by Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina. And the Doha round stalled.

So Washington came back with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country treaty—including Chile, Peru, and Mexico—vigorously promoted by the Obama administration.

It’s been described nicely by Lori Wallach as NAFTA on steroids.

As others have pointed out, the TPP isn’t really about trade. Rather, it’s a supra-national regulatory straitjacket that institutionalizes Allende’s 1972 warning.

Among other things, the TPP has the effect of hiving off Brazil and Argentina from Latin America’s Pacific Rim countries. South America’s governing left is weakened and defensive, and the vitality with which Lula, Chávez, and Kirchner pushed back on any number of US initiatives—war on Iraq, trade, intellectual property, and so on—is dissipated.

In Brazil, Dilma has recently capitulated on a number of issues she had long resisted, including surveillance and the adoption of Patriot Act–like “anti-terror” legislation (not to mention her recent visit to NYC to genuflect before Henry Kissinger).

The divide-and-rule TPP would, by creating a divergent set of economic interests among neighboring countries, further limit the possibility of political solidarity against economic and security policies pushed by Washington (as this pro-TPP op-ed implies).

The TPP includes one provision that will, if activated, complete the 1973 coup against Allende:

its Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) that allows corporations and investors to “sue governments directly before tribunals of three private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to demand taxpayer compensation for any domestic law that investors believe will diminish their ‘expected future profits.’”

You can read James Surowiecki, in The New Yorker, here on the ISDS. And here is Elizabeth Warren. And Public Citizen and The Atlantic.

The principle behind the ISDS—that corporations have an inherent right to demand compensation for any regulation that might impinge on their “expected future profits”—is a perfect negation of a major principle of Allende’s socialist program: that poor nations not only had a right to nationalize foreign property but could also deduct past “excess profit” from compensation for that property, calculated as anything above 12 percent of a company’s value.

Allende and his Popular Unity coalition not only seized the operations of the Anaconda and Kennecott mining companies but, once the sums were done, handed them overdue bills for even more money.

On September 28, 1971, Allende signed a decree that tallied the “excess profit” owed by these companies to be $774,000,000. (as might be expected, US and Canadian mining companies, including the current version of Anaconda, are strong for the TPP.)

This decree was a turning point in the history of international property rights, when Washington (which, since the Mexican Revolution, had grudgingly accepted the idea of nationalization) decided that its tolerance of Third World economic nationalism had gone on long enough.

In an October 5, 1971, meeting in the Oval Office, Treasury Secretary John Connally complained to Nixon: “He’s [Allende] gone back and said that the copper companies owe $700 million. It’s obviously a farce, and obviously, he’s a—he doesn’t intend to compensate for the expropriated properties. He’s thrown down—He’s thrown the gauntlet to us. Now, it’s our move.”

Nixon then said he had “decided we’re going to give Allende the hook.”

Connally: “The only thing you can ever hope is to have him overthrown.”

In the 1970s, socialism was, for many, on the horizon of the possible, with the principle of “excess profit” seen as a way for exploited countries to, in Allende’s words, “correct historic wrongs.”

Today, forget nationalization, much less socialism. If the TPP is ratified and ISDS put into effect, countries won’t be able to limit mining to protect their water supply or even enforce anti-tobacco regulation.

This September 11, as the Obama administration makes its final push for the TPP, it’s worth taking a moment to realize why all those people in Chile—and in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, and throughout Latin America—died and were tortured: to protect the “future profits” of multinational corporations.






September 2015

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