Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 2nd, 2015


How one Lebanese woman is clowning around to bring laughter to refugees

Florence Massena Posted November 18, 2015

According to the UNHCR, almost 677,000 refugees have arrived on the Greek islands in 2015.

One of these islands, Lesbos, is particularly affected, with the vast majority of these refugees landing on rubber boats on the beach.

In an effort to bring a bit of laughter and joy to their journey, four clowns came for two weeks, performing every day to the great pleasure of the children.

 Sabine Choucair shared this link
The non-profit organization Clowns Without Borders performed for two weeks to offer moments of laughter and levity.

The group from Clowns Without Borders, an organization founded in Barcelona in 1993, committed to performing six shows a day for between 30 and 1,000 spectators at a time on Lesbos. From the United States, Clay Mazing, Luze Gaxiola and Molly Rose Levine joined Sabine Choucair, a Lebanese clown and art therapist, to bring laughter to refugees during their dangerous journey to Europe. They perform shows in refugee camps, bus stops and beaches, as well as smaller shows in a house

“In the first place, we had a project with Sabine as an art director to come visit the refugee camps in Lebanon,” Molly Rose Levine, director of Clowns Without Borders and logistician of the project, told Al-Monitor over Skype. “But instead we decided to run the project in Lesbos, because that’s where we are the most needed now. In fact, around 80% of the refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea go through Lesbos on their way to Europe.” To make the project possible, they held a 10-day fundraising campaign that raised more than $5,000 from their supporters in the United States.

What brought the team to Lesbos is the feeling of emergency they got from watching the media. “We saw that everything is happening in Lesbos now, and we felt we needed to come here, they needed to see us,” Choucair explained. “And it is good we came, because everyone seems happy to see us!”

She described the stress and the fear of the people she meets every day: “They go through a horrible journey where they put themselves in danger. They are happy to be in Europe but you can still perceive the heavy burden of emotions they carry.”

The vast majority of the refugees Clowns Without Borders met on the island are from Syria. The others are mostly from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt and even Gaza. “I even met two Lebanese families pretending to be Syrians,” Choucair laughed.

“But they couldn’t fool me!” The team encountered families who lost everything but also single young men trying to find a way to help their families back home. While on Lesbos, they register with the local authorities, who put them, space allowing, into camps according to their nationality and family situations. They stay there between three and 10 days before leaving for Athens by ferry.

For the clowns, this project has been a very moving experience teaching them the importance of their work. “At first, when we perform, a lot of children are scared and stressed. They don’t understand where they are or what’s happening,” clown and musician Mazing told Al-Monitor. “But when we start the music, make silly faces and play with them, they become children again. It’s a very beautiful thing to see. And when parents see their children laughing again, they are happy themselves. After the show, many of them come to thank us. Sometimes they tell us it’s the first time they saw their children smile in a week.”

Some argue that what refugees need most is shelter, food and health care, but according to Graxiola, another clown and musician, “They still need to laugh, relax for a moment and allow themselves to spend a ‘normal’ time just having fun. One of the camps looks like a prison,” she said. “It’s run by the police that doesn’t have enough resources to deal with that many people. Bringing clowns in this prison-like place is humanizing.”

A lot of stories from these encounters with the refugees can be read on Choucair’s Facebook page, where she posts daily updates. For instance, on Nov. 3, there was the story of a child who heard a helicopter passing by and fell to the floor, terrified. That day, the Lebanese clown posted a moving comment: “At that specific moment I couldn’t help myself from crying. I went and hugged him, the helicopter left. We continued the show and he smiled again … I hope it will be long before he hears such sounds again.”

Even among the local community and the police, who are frustrated, outnumbered and stressed by the whole situation, the clowns’ presence is happily welcome. Mazing said, “I think everybody loves us! For example, we started playing with a police officer, who told us he wasn’t a baby anymore. Maybe he was having a bad day! But today, we came back and we started playing again with him, he started laughing and even took pictures with us.

We received so much from the police in the camps, and the volunteers helping there for weeks and weeks already. They are happy to relieve the pressure.

The local community as well, frustrated from the situation, feels better when they see clowns in their local cafe.”

Until Nov. 10, the last day of Clowns Without Borders’ time on Lesbos, Levine, Mazing, Gaxiola and Choucair continued to hear stories from the refugees, shared and laughed with them. In 2016, Clowns Without Borders will look for the next place where it is most needed to help ease the journey of the refugees to Europe.

Meanwhile, Clowns Without Borders has another project that started Nov. 8 in Nepal for the people impacted by the earthquakes, and another starting in Colombia as part of a six-year partnership with local artists in Cali, an area greatly affected by historic violence and poverty. Mazing will continue to follow the refugees until Dec. 2 with his project Emergency Circus, and is still fundraising online to do so.

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The Biggest Non-Western Financial Empire BCCI:

The Fall Guy, Agha Hassan Abedi (1922-1995)

From 1972 to 1991, the BCCI ( Bank de Credit et du Commerce International ) was implanted in the 5 continents and owned banking branches in 73 countries.

Just in the USA and Europe, the BCCI ran 400 agencies and headquartered in the heart of the City of London.

It had trust funds, holding societies, off-shores establishments in the Caimans Islands, Switzerland and Luxemburg.

Abedi preached the message: All powerful banks belong to the white Western nations, those immoral oppressors of the Asians and the third world countries. They suck the blood of the credible poor and hard working people around the world. The BCCI will reduce this exploitation and add a moral dimension to the financial business…

The small working people in Pakistan, India and in the countries the BCCI opened branches deposited their meagre savings. 20% of the deposit were retained for banking transactions and the rest were invested.

Abedi facilitated the transfer and whitewashing of all financial criminal activities of drug lords to other State institutions that wanted to bypass regulations.

Born in Lucknow (India) and displaced to Pakistan in 1947 after the partition of India, Hassan starts his banking jobs with Habib Bank in Bombay.

In 1947, over 14 million Moslem Shiaa migrated to Pakistan (called Muhajer) by the local Sind people in south Pakistan. The rivalry between the new comers and the local leaders lasted for decades.

In 1959, he founded his own bank United Bank Limited (UBL) catering for the downtrodden and the rich of all the factions and minorities in the Capital Karachi. Within a decade, UBL became the second largest bank in Pakistan.

Abedi made good money financing both sides in the rivalry and did enormous transactions from the port of Karachi (the third largest in Asia at the time)

Abedi had close links with Nawaz Sherif, sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, and many Saudi princes in Riyadh and Jeddah.

A few months before the oil embargo in 1973 (the war with Israel), Abedi had founded the BCCI with his partner Swaleh Naqvi and registered it in Luxemburg.

Abedi was investing the fortunes of dictators such as Samuel Doe (Liberia), Manuel Noriega (Panama), Mobutu (Congo/Zaire), Gen. Babangida (Nigeria), Alan Garcia (Peru), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), The Emirs of the Gulf States, the Saudi princes…

Abedi transferred funds from Saudi Arabia to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua at the sold of USA Reagan administration because Congress refused any budget for that covert operation.

In the USA, he purchased First American Bankshares, National Bank of Georgia, Independence Bank of California.

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Hassan had close ties with the CIA, Pakistan secret services and facilitated the transfer of funds and transport of weapons to Ahmad Chah Massoud, Gulbuddin Hekmatiyar, Karim Khalili…

Clark Clifford, the most influential king maker in the USA was on his sold.

Robert Altman, a powerful lawyer and President of First American Bankshares was his agent.

Hassan was the prime benefactor of associations related to healthcare facilities, (equipped with the latest technology for medical research), public charity associations such as the ICIC (Jimmy Carter Foundation), orphan centers, training centers, hospices, schools…

All of the top hospitals that Abedi funded were located in the USA and Europe, just to increase his standing position. He never cared for establishing any health facility in his own countries or under-developed States.

Ironically, when he had a serious heart attack while visiting Lahore in 1988, there were no valid hospital for reanimation. The respiratory tube available was too large which ruined his vocal chords. His spend the remaining 7 years as an invalid in Yacub’s Harefield Hospital in London.

The BCCI organization was very complex and mainly contained 5 rings for doing business:

1. The actual professional banking directors and employees that were numbered in the thousands

2. The “Shadow Bankers” or “The Bank within the bank” running the criminal and non-regulated financial activities

3. The “Protocol Professionals” who satisfied and facilitated the pleasure and comfort of the principal clients

4. The “entrepreneurs” who invested and ran the acquired businesses

5. The “Black Units” (of about 1,500 professional criminals) with the job of activating terror tactics, eliminating enemies of the high-level clients, the trade and transfer of arms and drugs to main clients.

Where there were transactions to be made during the Cold War, from China, North Korea.. to any place in the world, the BCCI was well organized to handle the job.

As the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the US decided to have the sole monopoly on financial transactions and the BCCI had to go after it had done its job during the Cold War.

By 1990, all the western nations targeted the BCCI for one reason or another. The Bank de Credit et du Commerce International was declared bankrupt. and over 100,000 creditors lost $12 billion

Ironically, the organization was so complex that financial investigations could not link together how it functioned, but the BCCI had to go.

Note: Extracted from chapters of “Les seigneurs du crime, 1998” by Jean Ziegler


“Anomie” political systems?

More prevalent than expected.

Lebanon is a striking example

Basically, in an anomie system, most the politicians revert to business men because they have been for so long in power and elections (democratically or otherwise) have been postponed for various reasons.

In these anomie systems, the politicians are no longer interested in the public good and focus their energy on plundering the public funds to establish their own enterprises at the expenses of the other private investors.

They control all the economical facet of the public life, from paper towel, gas stations, malls, cosmetics, building materials, real estates licences, private providers of electricity and water, private schools, private hospitals, communication lines…

In these anomies systems, the State or government institutions stop investing in the infrastructure, public electricity, water, schools, hospitals, fast internet communication…

Consequently, the citizens pay their taxes twice: Once to replenish the public budget and a second time to secure private providers of electricity, water, private schools, private hospitals…

In anomie systems, No super-individual norm can restrain the aggressions of individuals (at the sold of warlords and political leaders) or groups (mafia organizations run by the government)

It is a situation where the social fabric is tearing apart as described in 1893 by Emile Durkheim.

1. The few standing institutions control but a few of marginal sectors or territories of the collective life (In Lebanon, we still want to believe in the capabilities of the army, internal security services).

2. No more inter-subjective rational organizational normative legal foundations are running according to standards.

3. No viable and credible command/obey system to fall back on

4. No stable stratification of public morale

5. No legitimacy of the institutions: the political system is obliterated

6. A savage capitalism dominated by the politicians (swapping financial and economic interests among themselves)

7. The politicians increase voting on privileges for their family members and clans (privileges for life)

8. The legal system is totally in the hands of the politicians

9. The Constitution is a mere piece of paper that has no relevance in crucial periods. Any clause can be changed once the corium in this Parliamentary system is satisfied.  Usually, it is supposed to be a one-time emergency until it becomes the norm

10. Lawmakers or deputies in the Parliament can hold ministerial executive positions and almost every deputy get to snatch a ministerial job.

11. No budget is submitted to parliament. No one wants to account for the funds that were received and never registered with the finance ministry. Grants, foreign loans, gifts… don’t go to the Central Bank. (In Lebanon, over $11 billions disappeared within 6 years, and no budget can be submitted before an accounting is established)

12 Once a fund is stolen, the money is for the keeps since there are no judicial or executive recourses to recover the embezzled checks and fund.




December 2015

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