Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 25th, 2017

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales exits Guardian board over conflict of interest with Wikitribune news site

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, will leave the board of the Guardian newspaper after opting to launch his own rival news operation that will compete for staff, stories and donations.

Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales co-founded Wikipedia

The 50-year-old, who joined the board of Guardian Media Group as a non-executive director little over a year ago, has revealed plans to launch Wikitribune, an outlet aiming to provide “factual and neutral” news coverage.

Mr Wales has said he plans to hire up to 20 journalists to work on the operation.

Wikitribune will be funded by donations, putting it in direct competition with the Guardian, which frequently appeals to online readers for voluntary contributions in lieu of digital subscriptions.

He said: “Jimmy Wales will be stepping down from the GMG board by mutual agreement, given the potential for overlap in our work. We wish him well with the new project.”

Mr Wales has seized on concern around “fake news” online to promote Wikitribune, arguing “the news is broken and we can fix it“.

Guardian Media Group’s spokesman said: “We welcome all efforts to combat the rise of fake news. Our rapid growth in traffic and Guardian membership show that the demand for independent, trusted and high-quality journalism is greater than ever. ”

The left-leaning title is seeking to boost membership and donation revenues in light of a tough advertising market.

Online revenues have not risen quickly enough to make up for declining print sales, with the bulk of market growth taken up by Google and Facebook.

A spokesman for Guardian Media Group said Mr Wales’s plans meant he could no longer sit on the newspaper’s board.

<img src=”/content/dam/business/2016/07/28/55256363-guardian-business-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqQJoTHvv9hWAiaCwwE8274uaCTQGAUkDgq8I833FLrys.jpg” alt=”Guardian” width=”301″ height=”189″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Guardian
The Guardian is seeking to boost membership and donation revenues

The Guardian was on track to burn £90m in cash last year and has warned staff to expect further redundancies as it seeks to reach break-even in two years.

Mr Wales said: “I am a huge admirer of the Guardian and am honoured to have been involved as a member of the GMG board. I will continue to be an avid fan of their integrity for news and journalism.”

He has said he will take a hands-on role in his latest venture and remains chairman of The People’s Operator, a mobile service provider that gives a shares of its revenues to good causes.

It floated on AIM on a £100m valuation in 2014 but has struggled to build its subscriber base and now has a market capitalisation of less than £11m.

Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh ‘facing directorship ban’

@JamieGrierson. Monday 24 April 2017

Insolvency Service reportedly wants to disqualify ex-board members including Alan Yentob over roles in collapsed charity

Alan Yentob and Camila Batmanghelidjh
Alan Yentob and Camila Batmanghelidjh could be among board members forced to relinquish any directorships they hold. Photograph: Simon James/Getty Images

Former board members of the collapsed charity Kids Company – including its founder, Camila Batmanghelidjh, and the former BBC chief Alan Yentob – face being banned from serving as company directors, according to reports.

The Insolvency Service has written to lawyers acting for Kids Company’s former board members to warn them that it is minded to pursue disqualification proceedings against them, according to Sky News.

The Insolvency Service, which has powers to seek bans on directorships for individuals of up to 15 years, refused to comment.

While disqualification proceedings can be lengthy, if successful they would ultimately force Yentob and the other board members to relinquish any directorships they hold.

Yentob is listed at Companies House as a director of a television production business called I Am Curious, which he established last year.

Kids Company collapsed in the summer of 2015, a month after it received a £3m government grant backed by the then prime minister, David Cameron.

Batmanghelidjh and Kids Company staff blamed the collapse on a police investigation into sexual and physical assaults within the charity, which was ultimately dropped.

A review by the Charity Commission into the financial collapse is continuing.

Other directors potentially facing a ban include Richard Handover, a former boss of WH Smith, Andrew Webster, a former executive at the drugs company AstraZeneca, and Erica Bolton, an arts publicist.

Note: Articles that don’t even mention what companies do, in this case what Kids Company was delivering and its purposes, is beyond me. Would like to check Wikipedia to supplement why Cameron extended this grant and why the company is facing insolvency? Are drug companies behind this move?

Why we should compare Trump to Hitler

Comparing dictators to Hitler, or fascists to Nazis, is often criticised as intellectually lazy, inaccurate and even dangerous.

However, over the past year parallels drawn between the rise of Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump have been numerous.

A 1922 article from the New York Times archive resurfaced in February 2015, which massively underestimated Hitler’s capacity for destruction, dismissing much of his campaign promises as political rhetoric.

Many drew comparisons with the response to Trump’s victory, after which people were hopeful that Trump cynically uses nationalism and xenophobic anti-immigration in order to gain votes, but will be tempered from acting on his more brutal promises.

Some of the descriptions of Hitler and the rise of Nazi populism seemed very familiar…

Another condition favourable to the outburst of the movement is the widespread discontent with the existing state of affairs among all classes in the towns and cities under the increasing economic pressure.

He is a man of the ‘common people’ and hence, has the makings of a ‘popular hero’ appealing to all classes.

His program consists chiefly of half a dozen negative ideas clothed in generalities

He probably does not know himself just what he wants to accomplish.

He talks rough, shaggy, sound horse sense, and according to public opinion, a strong, active leader equipped with horse sense is the need of the hour.

In particular, one image of a sign in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which describes 14 early signs of fascism, went viral after acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates was fired.

Timothy Snyder, Yale professor of history and author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, released this video explaining the value of comparison.

He explains how comparing Trump to Hitler can be useful, despite key differences.

Obviously, comparing Trump to Hitler does not necessarily imply that Trump is going to perpetrate a genocide.

Nevertheless, without a proper consideration of history we are doomed to repeat its mistakes.


So the way to start the discussion about comparisons is to point out that Americans are extremely lazy about history. I mean that’s one way in which were definitely number one among major nations.

And one of the ways we’re lazy about history is that as soon as anyone suggests that the past might be useful, then we say “but wait it’s not exactly the same and therefore I’m just going to discard it.”

In that way in two or three seconds we give ourselves an excuse not to think about history.

The premise of the book “On Tyranny” is not that Hitler is just like Trump or Trump is just like Hitler. The premise is that democratic republics usually fail and it’s useful for us to see how they fail.

One of the ways a democratic republic can fail is Germany in 1933. There are plenty of other examples in the book, also from the left wing Czechoslovakia in 1948 becoming communist.

The point of the book is that these things really happened over and over again and that intelligent people, no less intelligent than us, experienced them and left a record for us to learn from. (And they were far more cultured and read abundantly and discussed at length and met)

So what I’m trying to do in the book is to help us to learn from that record so we don’t have events like Germany in 1933 or Czechoslovakia in 1948.

Just saying “Hitler’s not like Trump“ or ”Trump is not like Hitler” isn’t going to save us.

Learning for the past though, could.

Early signs of fascism, went viral after acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates was fired.


View image on Twitter


Café-librairie or Library-Café with No lap tops or smartphones: To discuss, read and meet

Par Adib Y. TOHMÉ, OLJ


Nos Lecteurs ont la Parole


Quand je suis rentré au Liban au milieu des années 90, j’avais pour idée de créer un café-librairie.

J’imaginais un lieu convivial de déconnexion et d’échange dans lequel on pouvait lire tout en buvant un bon café, confortablement lové dans un canapé. Ce lieu proposerait aussi des discussions et des soirées emblématiques à thème autour d’une idée, d’un livre ou d’une pensée qui réunissent, autour d’un repas mythique, de parfaits inconnus partageant la même passion pour les livres.

Quand j’ai présenté mon projet à une personne dont l’opinion compte beaucoup pour moi, elle a éclaté d’un rire bruyant et moqueur dont j’entends les échos assourdissants jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Comme vous pouvez vous en douter, j’ai abandonné mon projet.

Plusieurs années plus tard, un client a débarqué chez moi et, avec le même enthousiasme que j’avais 20 ans plus tôt, il m’a proposé le même projet d’un lieu où on devait fermer nos portables, lire ou discuter tout en buvant un café. Je n’ai pas ri (bien que j’en eus envie).

Je l’ai regardé longuement, d’un regard nostalgique et je lui ai dit : « Revois ton étude de faisabilité, l’emplacement, le coût du loyer, les charges d’exploitation, les marges et surtout identifie ta clientèle pour ne pas mettre la clé sous la porte. »

Avant de partir, il m’a dit : « Crois-moi, il y a beaucoup de lecteurs. » Mais où sont les lecteurs ?

Il y a trop de fumeurs de narguilé, mais pas assez de lecteurs. Il y a trop de tables de poker, mais pas assez de bibliothèques. Il y a trop de bruit et de fracas, mais pas assez de silence. Il y a trop de mouvements, mais pas assez de constance. Il y a trop d’échanges, mais pas assez de pensée. Il y a trop d’images, mais pas assez de substance.

Il y a trop de gens qui savent tout, mais qui n’ont jamais ouvert un livre. Trop de gens qui parlent, mais peu qui savent écouter.

Au fond, j’étais triste de ne plus être capable de m’enthousiasmer pour de tels projets. Je n’aimais pas ma résignation. Je n’aimais pas mon sentiment qu’il n’y a plus rien à faire, de capituler devant le préjugé collectif que tout ce qui ne produit pas de profits immédiats est inutile.

Et pourtant il y a de l’utilité dans l’inutile.

Et la lecture fait partie de ces choses inutiles dont nous avons besoin pour vivre. Lire est avant tout un acte de liberté. Et je peux me permettre aujourd’hui de parler comme un vieux con et de dire qu’il faut redonner aux jeunes le goût de lire. De leur montrer la joie de s’extraire à la culture des escargots. Celle qui consiste à se coller les uns aux autres, fiers de ce qu’ils sont, qui se complimentent mutuellement, dans la médiocrité de leur vie et la vacuité de leur existence.

Grâce à la lecture, le monde peut devenir plus vaste et l’horizon plus grand. Dans le silence, dans la solitude, nous allons librement à la rencontre d’une autre pensée, d’un autre regard sur le monde.

À travers les livres, nous découvrons d’autres façons de voir la vie. Un bon livre, comme un bon film, ou un bon poème, ne nous laisse jamais intacts. Il remodèle notre cerveau, nous permet de sortir de nous-mêmes, d’apprendre l’attention au monde et nous engage à porter un regard différent sur ce qui est important.

Les médias ont pour mission de nous aplatir pour susciter facilement notre désir et nous faire perdre rapidement notre intérêt pour les choses. C’est la culture basée sur l’oubli et non sur l’apprentissage. Les médias fabriquent des consommateurs.

Les bons livres peuvent créer des citoyens. (Meme les mauvaises, si on a l’esprit de reflection)

Note 1: The budget of every ministry contain enormous amount of money for superfluous “charitable or cultural organizations and associations” that areNot submitted to any auditing. Let’s have such an association that opens these kinds of Café-librairie.

Note 2: There are plenty of Cafés that display a small shelf of targeted books for their targeted clients in Beirut

Notes 3: I have been patronizing a private library, turned over to a private university, for over 15 years. I walk 2 miles to spend 3 hours reading and taking notes. When I’m back home to post book reviews on my blog and edited notes and comments on social media. This walk was kind of enjoying a couple hours of freedom: I take care of my elderly parents who need plenty of care.




April 2017

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